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Pharsalia - Book II: The Flight Of Pompeius

This was made plain the anger of the gods;
The universe gave signs Nature reversed
In monstrous tumult fraught with prodigies
Her laws, and prescient spake the coming guilt.

How seemed it just to thee, Olympus' king,
That suffering mortals at thy doom should know
By omens dire the massacre to come?
Or did the primal parent of the world
When first the flames gave way and yielding left
Matter unformed to his subduing hand,
And realms unbalanced, fix by stern decree'
Unalterable laws to bind the whole
(Himself, too, bound by law), so that for aye
All Nature moves within its fated bounds?
Or, is Chance sovereign over all, and we
The sport of Fortune and her turning wheel?
Whate'er be truth, keep thou the future veiled
From mortal vision, and amid their fears
May men still hope.

Thus known how great the woes
The world should suffer, from the truth divine,
A solemn fast was called, the courts were closed,
All men in private garb; no purple hem
Adorned the togas of the chiefs of Rome;
No plaints were uttered, and a voiceless grief
Lay deep in every bosom: as when death
Knocks at some door but enters not as yet,
Before the mother calls the name aloud
Or bids her grieving maidens beat the breast,
While still she marks the glazing eye, and soothes
The stiffening limbs and gazes on the face,
In nameless dread, not sorrow, and in awe
Of death approaching: and with mind distraught
Clings to the dying in a last embrace.

The matrons laid aside their wonted garb:
Crowds filled the temples -- on the unpitying stones
Some dashed their bosoms; others bathed with tears
The statues of the gods; some tore their hair
Upon the holy threshold, and with shrieks
And vows unceasing called upon the names
Of those whom mortals supplicate. Nor all
Lay in the Thunderer's fane: at every shrine
Some prayers are offered which refused shall bring
Reproach on heaven. One whose livid arms
Were dark with blows, whose cheeks with tears bedewed
And riven, cried, 'Beat, mothers, beat the breast,
Tear now the lock; while doubtful in the scales
Still fortune hangs, nor yet the fight is won,
You still may grieve: when either wins rejoice.'
Thus sorrow stirs itself.

Meanwhile the men
Seeking the camp and setting forth to war,
Address the cruel gods in just complaint.
'Happy the youths who born in Punic days
On Cannae's uplands or by Trebia's stream
Fought and were slain! What wretched lot is ours!
No peace we ask for: let the nations rage;
Rouse fiercest cities! may the world find arms
To wage a war with Rome: let Parthian hosts
Rush forth from Susa; Scythian Ister curb
No more the Massagete: unconquered Rhine
Let loose from furthest North her fair-haired tribes:
Elbe, pour thy Suevians forth! Let us be foes
Of all the peoples. May the Getan press
Here, and the Dacian there; Pompeius meet
The Eastern archers, Caesar in the West
Confront th' Iberian. Leave to Rome no hand
To raise against herself in civil strife.
Or, if Italia by the gods be doomed,
Let all the sky, fierce Parent, be dissolved
And falling on the earth in flaming bolts,
Their hands still bloodless, strike both leaders down,
With both their hosts! Why plunge in novel crime
To settle which of them shall rule in Rome?
Scarce were it worth the price of civil war
To hinder either.' Thus the patriot voice
Still found an utterance, soon to speak no more.

Meantime, the aged fathers o'er their fates
In anguish grieved, detesting life prolonged
That brought with it another civil war.
And thus spake one, to justify his fears:
'No other deeds the fates laid up in store
When Marius, victor over Teuton hosts,
Afric's high conqueror, cast out from Rome,
Lay hid in marshy ooze, at thy behest,
O Fortune! by the yielding soil concealed
And waving rushes; but ere long the chains
Of prison wore his weak and aged frame,
And lengthened squalor: thus he paid for crime
His punishment beforehand; doomed to die
Consul in triumph over wasted Rome.
Death oft refused him; and the very foe,
In act to murder, shuddered in the stroke
And dropped the weapon from his nerveless hand.
For through the prison gloom a flame of light
He saw; the deities of crime abhorred;
The Marius to come. A voice proclaimed
Mysterious, `Hold! the fates permit thee not
That neck to sever. Many a death he owes
To time's predestined laws ere his shall come;
Cease from thy madness. If ye seek revenge
For all the blood shed by your slaughtered tribes to
Let this man, Cimbrians, live out all his days.'
Not as their darling did the gods protect
The man of blood, but for his ruthless hand
Fit to prepare that sacrifice of gore
Which fate demanded. By the sea's despite
Borne to our foes, Jugurtha's wasted realm
He saw, now conquered; there in squalid huts
Awhile he lay, and trod the hostile dust
Of Carthage, and his ruin matched with hers:
Each from the other's fate some solace drew,
And prostrate, pardoned heaven. On Libyan soil
Fresh fury gathering, next, when Fortune smiled
The prisons he threw wide and freed the slaves.
Forth rushed the murderous bands, their melted chains
Forged into weapons for his ruffian needs.
No charge he gave to mere recruits in guilt
Who brought not to the camp some proof of crime.
How dread that day when conquering Marius seized
The city's ramparts! with what fated speed
Death strode upon his victims! plebs alike
And nobles perished; far and near the sword
Struck at his pleasure, till the temple floors
Ran wet with slaughter and the crimson stream
Befouled with slippery gore the holy walls.
No age found pity men of failing years,
Just tottering to the grave, were hurled to death;
From infants, in their being's earliest dawn,
The growing life was severed. For what crime?
Twas cause enough for death that they could die.
The fury grew: soon 'twas a sluggard's part
To seek the guilty: hundreds died to swell
The tale of victims. Shamed by empty hands,
The bloodstained conqueror snatched a reeking head
From neck unknown. One way of life remained,
To kiss with shuddering lips the red right hand.
Degenerate people! Had ye hearts of men,
Though ye were threatened by a thousand swords,
Far rather death than centuries of life
Bought at such price; much more that breathing space
Till Sulla comes again. But time would fail
In weeping for the deaths of all who fell.
Encircled by innumerable bands
Fell Baebius, his limbs asunder torn,
His vitals dragged abroad. Antonius too,
Prophet of ill, whose hoary head was placed,
Dripping with blood, upon the festal board.
There headless fell the Crassi; mangled frames
'Neath Fimbria's falchion: and the prison cells
Were wet with tribunes' blood. Hard by the fane
Where dwells the goddess and the sacred fire,
Fell aged Scaevola, though that gory hand
Had spared him, but the feeble tide of blood
Still left the flame alive upon the hearth.
That selfsame year the seventh time restored
The Consul's rods; that year to Marius brought
The end of life, when he at Fortune's hands
All ills had suffered; all her goods enjoyed.

'And what of those who at the Sacriport
And Colline gate were slain, then, when the rule
Of Earth and all her nations almost left
This city for another, and the chiefs
Who led the Samnite hoped that Rome might bleed
More than at Caudium's Forks she bled of old?
Then came great Sulla to avenge the dead,
And all the blood still left within her frame
Drew from the city; for the surgeon knife
Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep,
And shed the life stream from still healthy veins.
True that the guilty fell, but not before
All else had perished. Hatred had free course
And anger reigned unbridled by the law.
The victor's voice spake once; but each man struck
Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel
Urged by the servant laid the master low.
Sons dripped with gore of sires; and brothers fought
For the foul trophy of a father slain,
Or slew each other for the price of blood.
Men sought the tombs and, mingling with the dead,
Hoped for escape; the wild beasts' dens were full.
One strangled died; another from the height
Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth,
And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death:
One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins,
And sealed the furnace ere his blood was gone.
Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads
Were piled in middle forum: hence men knew
Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates
Of Diomedes, tyrant king of Thrace,
Nor of Antaeus, Libya's giant brood,
Were hung such horrors; nor in Pisa's hall
Were seen and wept for when the suitors died.
Decay had touched the features of the slain
When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps
The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead.
I, too, the body of my brother slain
Thought to remove, my victim to the peace
Which Sulla made, and place his loved remains
On the forbidden pyre. The head I found,
But not the butchered corse.

'Why now renew
The tale of Catulus's shade appeased?
And those dread tortures which the living frame
Of Marius suffered at the tomb of him
Who haply wished them not? Pierced, mangled, torn --
Nor speech nor grasp was left: his every limb
Maimed, hacked and riven; yet the fatal blow
The murderers with savage purpose spared.
'Twere scarce believed that one poor mortal frame
Such agonies could bear e'er death should come.
Thus crushed beneath some ruin lie the dead;
Thus shapeless from the deep are borne the drowned.
Why spoil delight by mutilating thus,
The head of Marius? To please Sulla's heart
That mangled visage must be known to all.
Fortune, high goddess of Praeneste's fane,
Saw all her townsmen hurried to their deaths
In one fell instant. All the hope of Rome,
The flower of Latium, stained with blood the field
Where once the peaceful tribes their votes declared.
Famine and Sword, the raging sky and sea,
And Earth upheaved, have laid such numbers low:
But ne'er one man's revenge. Between the slain
And living victims there was space no more,
Death thus let slip, to deal the fatal blow.
Hardly when struck they fell; the severed head
Scarce toppled from the shoulders; but the slain
Blent in a weighty pile of massacre
Pressed out the life and helped the murderer's arm.
Secure from stain upon his lofty throne,
Unshuddering sat the author of the whole,
Nor feared that at his word such thousands fell.
At length the Tuscan flood received the dead
The first upon his waves; the last on those
That lay beneath them; vessels in their course
Were stayed, and while the lower current flowed
Still to the sea, the upper stood on high
Dammed back by carnage. Through the streets meanwhile
In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood,
Which furrowing its path through town and field
Forced the slow river on. But now his banks
No longer held him, and the dead were thrown
Back on the fields above. With labour huge
At length he struggled to his goal and stretched
In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.

'For deeds like these, shall Sulla now be styled
`Darling of Fortune', `Saviour of the State'?
For these, a tomb in middle field of Mars
Record his fame? Like horrors now return
For us to suffer; and the civil war
Thus shall be waged again and thus shall end.
Yet worse disasters may our fears suggest,
For now with greater carnage of mankind
The rival hosts in weightier battle meet.
To exiled Marius, successful strife
Was Rome regained; triumphant Sulla knew
No greater joy than on his hated foes
To wreak his vengeance with unsparing sword.
But these more powerful rivals Fortune calls
To worse ambitions; nor would either chief
For such reward as Sulla's wage the war.'
Thus, mindful of his youth, the aged man
Wept for the past, but feared the coming days.

Such terrors found in haughty Brutus' breast
No home. When others sat them down to fear
He did not so, but in the dewy night
When the great wain was turning round the pole
He sought his kinsman Cato's humble home.
Him sleepless did he find, not for himself
Fearing, but pondering the fates of Rome,
And deep in public cares. And thus he spake:
'O thou in whom that virtue, which of yore
Took flight from earth, now finds its only home,
Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee:
Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul
And make my weakness strength. While Caesar some,
Pompeius others, follow in the fight,
Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace,
Holding thy footsteps in a tottering world
Unshaken? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes
And with the people's fury take thy part,
And by thy presence purge the war of guilt?
In impious battles men unsheath the sword;
But each by cause impelled: the household crime;
Laws feared in peace; want by the sword removed;
And broken credit, that its ruin hides
In general ruin. Drawn by hope of gain,
And not by thirst for blood, they seek the camp.
Shall Cato for war's sake make war alone?
What profits it through all these wicked years
That thou hast lived untainted? This were all
Thy meed of virtue, that the wars which find
Guilt in all else, shall make thee guilty too.
Ye gods, permit not that this fatal strife
Should stir those hands to action! When the clouds
Of flying javelins hiss upon the air,
Let not a dart be thine; nor spent in vain
Such virtue! All the fury of the war
Shall launch itself on thee, for who, when faint
And wounded, would not rush upon thy sword,
Take thence his death, and make the murder thine?
Do thou live on thy peaceful life apart
As on their paths the stars unshaken roll.
The lower air that verges on the earth
Gives flame and fury to the levin bolt;
The deeps below the world engulph the winds
And tracts of flaming fire. By Jove's decree
Olympus rears his summit o'er the clouds:
In lowlier valleys storms and winds contend,
But peace eternal reigns upon the heights.
What joy for Caesar, if the tidings come
That such a citizen has joined the war?
Glad would he see thee e'en in Magnus' tents;
For Cato's conduct shall approve his own.
Pompeius, with the Consul in his ranks,
And half the Senate and the other chiefs,
Vexes my spirit; and should Cato too
Bend to a master's yoke, in all the world
The one man free is Caesar. But if thou
For freedom and thy country's laws alone
Be pleased to raise the sword, nor Magnus then
Nor Caesar shall in Brutus find a foe.
Not till the fight is fought shall Brutus strike,
Then strike the victor.'

Brutus thus; but spake
Cato from inmost breast these sacred words:
'Chief in all wickedness is civil war,
Yet virtue in the paths marked out by fate
Treads on securely. Heaven's will be the crime
To have made even Cato guilty. Who has strength
To gaze unawed upon a toppling world?
When stars and sky fall headlong, and when earth
Slips from her base, who sits with folded hands?
Shall unknown nations, touched by western strife,
And monarchs born beneath another clime
Brave the dividing seas to join the war?
Shall Scythian tribes desert their distant north,
And Getae haste to view the fall of Rome,
And I look idly on? As some fond sire,
Reft of his sons, compelled by grief, himself
Marshals the long procession to the tomb,
Thrusts his own hand within the funeral flames,
Soothing his heart, and, as the lofty pyre
Rises on high, applies the kindled torch:
Nought, Rome, shall tear thee from me, till I hold
Thy form in death embraced; and Freedom's name,
Shade though it be, I'll follow to the grave.
Yea! let the cruel gods exact in full
Rome's expiation: of no drop of blood
The war be robbed. I would that, to the gods
Of heaven and hell devoted, this my life
Might satisfy their vengeance. Decius fell,
Crushed by the hostile ranks. When Cato falls
Let Rhine's fierce barbarous hordes and both the hosts
Thrust through my frame their darts! May I alone
Receive in death the wounds of all the war!
Thus may the people be redeemed, and thus
Rome for her guilt pay the atonement due.
Why should men die who wish to bear the yoke
And shrink not from the tyranny to come?
Strike me, and me alone, of laws and rights
In vain the guardian: this vicarious life
Shall give Hesperia peace and end her toils.
Who then will reign shall find no need for war.
You ask, `Why follow Magnus? If he wins
He too will claim the Empire of the world.'
Then let him, conquering with my service, learn
Not for himself to conquer.' Thus he spoke
And stirred the blood that ran in Brutus' veins
Moving the youth to action in the war.

Soon as the sun dispelled the chilly night,
The sounding doors flew wide, and from the tomb
Of dead Hortensius grieving Marcia came.
First joined in wedlock to a greater man
Three children did she bear to grace his home:
Then Cato to Hortensius gave the dame
To be a fruitful mother of his sons
And join their houses in a closer tie.
And now the last sad offices were done
She came with hair dishevelled, beaten breast,
And ashes on her brow, and features worn
With grief; thus only pleasing to the man.
'When youth was in me and maternal power
I did thy bidding, Cato, and received
A second husband: now in years grown old
Ne'er to be parted I return to thee.
Renew our former pledges undefiled:
Give back the name of wife: upon my tomb
Let `Marcia, spouse to Cato,' be engraved.
Nor let men question in the time to come,
Did'st thou compel, or did I willing leave
My first espousals. Not in happy times,
Partner of joys, I come; but days of care
And labour shall be mine to share with thee.
Nor leave me here, but take me to the camp,
Thy fond companion: why should Magnus' wife
Be nearer, Cato, to the wars than thine?'

Although the times were warlike and the fates
Called to the fray, he lent a willing ear.
Yet must they plight their faith in simple form
Of law; their witnesses the gods alone.
No festal wreath of flowers crowned the gate
Nor glittering fillet on each post entwined;
No flaming torch was there, nor ivory steps,
No couch with robes of broidered gold adorned;
No comely matron placed upon her brow
The bridal garland, or forbad the foot
To touch the threshold stone; no saffron veil
Concealed the timid blushes of the bride;
No jewelled belt confined her flowing robe
Nor modest circle bound her neck; no scarf
Hung lightly on the snowy shoulder's edge
Around the naked arm. Just as she came,
Wearing the garb of sorrow, while the wool
Covered the purple border of her robe,
Thus was she wedded. As she greets her sons
So doth she greet her husband. Festal games
Graced not their nuptials, nor were friends and kin
As by the Sabines bidden: silent both
They joined in marriage, yet content, unseen
By any save by Brutus. Sad and stern
On Cato's lineaments the marks of grief
Were still unsoftened, and the hoary hair
Hung o'er his reverend visage; for since first
Men flew to arms, his locks were left unkempt
To stream upon his brow, and on his chin
His beard untended grew. 'Twas his alone
Who hated not, nor loved, for all mankind
To mourn alike. Nor did their former couch
Again receive them, for his lofty soul
E'en lawful love resisted. 'Twas his rule
Inflexible, to keep the middle path
Marked out and bounded; to observe the laws
Of natural right; and for his country's sake
To risk his life, his all, as not for self
Brought into being, but for all the world:
Such was his creed. To him a sumptuous feast
Was hunger conquered, and the lowly hut,
Which scarce kept out the winter, was a home
Equal to palaces: a robe of price
Such hairy garments as were worn of old:
The end of marriage, offspring. To the State
Father alike and husband, right and law
He ever followed with unswerving step:
No thought of selfish pleasure turned the scale
In Cato's acts, or swayed his upright soul.

Meanwhile Pompeius led his trembling host
To fields Campanian, and held the walls
First founded by the chief of Trojan race.
These chose he for the central seat of war,
Some troops despatching who might meet the foe
Where shady Apennine lifts up the ridge
Of mid Italia; nearest to the sky
Upsoaring, with the seas on either hand,
The upper and the lower. Pisa's sands
Breaking the margin of the Tuscan deep,
Here bound his mountains: there Ancona's towers
Laved by Dalmatian waves. Rivers immense,
In his recesses born, pass on their course,
To either sea diverging. To the left
Metaurus, and Crustumium's torrent, fall
And Sena's streams and Aufidus who bursts
On Adrian billows; and that mighty flood
Which, more than all the rivers of the earth,
Sweeps down the soil and tears the woods away
And drains Hesperia's springs. In fabled lore
His banks were first by poplar shade enclosed:
And when by Phaethon the waning day
Was drawn in path transverse, and all the heaven
Blazed with his car aflame, and from the depths
Of inmost earth were rapt all other floods,
Padus still rolled in pride of stream along.
Nile were no larger, but that o'er the sand
Of level Egypt he spreads out his waves;
Nor Ister, if he sought the Scythian main
Unhelped upon his journey through the world
By tributary waters not his own.
But on the right hand Tiber has his source,
Deep-flowing Rutuba, Vulturnus swift,
And Sarnus breathing vapours of the night
Rise there, and Liris with Vestinian wave
Still gliding through Marica's shady grove,
And Siler flowing through Salernian meads:
And Macra's swift unnavigable stream
By Luna lost in Ocean. On the Alps
Whose spurs strike plainwards, and on fields of Gaul
The cloudy heights of Apennine look down
In further distance: on his nearer slopes
The Sabine turns the ploughshare; Umbrian kine
And Marsian fatten; with his pineclad rocks
He girds the tribes of Latium, nor leaves
Hesperia's soil until the waves that beat
On Scylla's cave compel. His southern spurs
Extend to Juno's temple, and of old
Stretched further than Italia, till the main
O'erstepped his limits and the lands repelled.
But, when the seas were joined, Pelorus claimed
His latest summits for Sicilia's isle.

Caesar, in rage for war, rejoicing found
Foes in Italia; no bloodless steps
Nor vacant homes had pleased him; so his march
Were wasted: now the coming war was joined
Unbroken to the past; to force the gates
Not find them open, fire and sword to bring
Upon the harvests, not through fields unharmed
To pass his legions -- this was Caesar's joy;
In peaceful guise to march, this was his shame.
Italia's cities, doubtful in their choice,
Though to the earliest onset of the war
About to yield, strengthened their walls with mounds
And deepest trench encircling: massive stones
And bolts of war to hurl upon the foe
They place upon the turrets. Magnus most
The people's favour held, yet faith with fear
Fought in their breasts. As when, with strident blast,
A southern tempest has possessed the main
And all the billows follow in its track:
Then, by the Storm-king smitten, should the earth
Set Eurus free upon the swollen deep,
It shall not yield to him, though cloud and sky
Confess his strength; but in the former wind
Still find its master. But their fears prevailed,
And Caesar's fortune, o'er their wavering faith.
For Libo fled Etruria; Umbria lost
Her freedom, driving Thermus from her bounds;
Great Sulla's son, unworthy of his sire,
Feared at the name of Caesar: Varus sought
The caves and woods, when smote the hostile horse
The gates of Auximon; and Spinther driven
From Asculum, the victor on his track,
Fled with his standards, soldierless; and thou,
Scipio, did'st leave Nuceria's citadel
Deserted, though by bravest legions held
Sent home by Caesar for the Parthian war;
Whom Magnus earlier, to his kinsman gave
A loan of Roman blood, to fight the Gaul.

But brave Domitius held firm his post
Behind Corfinium's ramparts; his the troops
Who newly levied kept the judgment hall
At Milo's trial. When from far the plain
Rolled up a dusty cloud, beneath whose veil
The sheen of armour glistening in the sun,
Revealed a marching host. 'Dash down,' he cried,
Swift; as ye can, the bridge that spans the stream;
And thou, O river, from thy mountain source
With all thy torrents rushing, planks and beams
Ruined and broken on thy foaming breast
Bear onward to the sea. The war shall stop
Here, to our triumph; for this headlong chief
Here first at our firm bidding shall be stayed.'
He bade his squadrons, speeding from the walls,
Charge on the bridge: in vain: for Caesar saw
They sought to free the river from his chains
And bar his march; and roused to ire, he cried:
'Were not the walls sufficient to protect
Your coward souls? Seek ye by barricades
And streams to keep me back? What though the flood
Of swollen Ganges were across my path?
Now Rubicon is passed, no stream on earth
Shall hinder Caesar! Forward, horse and foot,
And ere it totters rush upon the bridge.'
Urged in their swiftest gallop to the front
Dashed the light horse across the sounding plain;
And suddenly, as storm in summer, flew
A cloud of javelins forth, by sinewy arms
Hurled at the foe; the guard is put to flight,
And conquering Caesar, seizing on the bridge,
Compels the enemy to keep the walls.
Now do the mighty engines, soon to hurl
Gigantic stones, press forward, and the ram
Creeps 'neath the ramparts; when the gates fly back,
And lo! the traitor troops, foul crime in war,
Yield up their leader. Him they place before

His proud compatriot; yet with upright form,
And scornful features and with noble mien,
He asks his death. But Caesar knew his wish
Was punishment, and pardon was his fear:
'Live though thou would'st not,' so the chieftain spake,
'And by my gift, unwilling, see the day:
Be to my conquered foes the cause of hope,
Proof of my clemency -- or if thou wilt
Take arms again -- and should'st thou conquer, count
This pardon nothing.' Thus he spake, and bade
Let loose the bands and set the captive free.
Ah! better had he died, and fortune spared
The Roman's last dishonour, whose worse doom
It is, that he who joined his country's camp
And fought with Magnus for the Senate's cause
Should gain for this -- a pardon! Yet he curbed
His anger, thinking, 'Wilt thou then to Rome
And peaceful scenes, degenerate? Rather war,
The furious battle and the certain end!
Break with life's ties: be Caesar's gift in vain.'

Pompeius, ignorant that his captain thus
Was taken, armed his levies newly raised
To give his legions strength; and as he thought
To sound his trumpets with the coming dawn,
To test his soldiers ere he moved his camp
Thus in majestic tones their ranks addressed:
'Soldiers of Rome! Avengers of her laws!
To whom the Senate gives no private arms,
Ask by your voices for the battle sign.
Fierce falls the pillage on Hesperian fields,
And Gallia's fury o'er the snowy Alps
Is poured upon us. Caesar's swords at last
Are red with Roman blood. But with the wound
We gain the better cause; the crime is theirs.
No war is this, but for offended Rome
We wreak the vengeance; as when Catiline
Lifted against her roofs the flaming brand
And, partner in his fury, Lentulus,
And mad Cethegus with his naked arm.
Is such thy madness, Caesar? when the Fates
With great Camillus' and Metellus' names
Might place thine own, dost thou prefer to rank
With Marius and Cinna? Swift shall be
Thy fall: as Lepidus before the sword
Of Catulus; or who my axes felt,
Carbo, now buried in Sicanian tomb;
Or who, in exile, roused Iberia's hordes,
Sertorius -- yet, witness Heaven, with these
I hate to rank thee; hate the task that Rome
Has laid upon me, to oppose thy rage.
Would that in safety from the Parthian war
And Scythian steppes had conquering Crassus come!
Then haply had'st thou fallen by the hand
That smote vile Spartacus the robber foe.
But if among my triumphs fate has said
Thy conquest shall be written, know this heart
Still sends the life blood coursing: and this arm
Still vigorously flings the dart afield.
He deems me slothful. Caesar, thou shalt learn
We brook not peace because we lag in war.
Old, does he call me? Fear not ye mine age.
Let me be elder, if his soldiers are.
The highest point a citizen can reach
And leave his people free, is mine: a throne
Alone were higher; whoso would surpass
Pompeius, aims at that. Both Consuls stand
Here; here for battle stand your lawful chiefs:
And shall this Caesar drag the Senate down?
Not with such blindness, not so lost to shame
Does Fortune rule. Does he take heart from Gaul:
For years on years rebellious, and a life
Spent there in labour? or because he fled
Rhine's icy torrent and the shifting pools
He calls an ocean? or unchallenged sought
Britannia's cliffs; then turned his back in flight?
Or does he boast because his citizens
Were driven in arms to leave their hearths and homes?
Ah, vain delusion! not from thee they fled:
My steps they follow -- mine, whose conquering signs
Swept all the ocean, and who, ere the moon
Twice filled her orb and waned, compelled to flight
The pirate, shrinking from the open sea,
And humbly begging for a narrow home
In some poor nook on shore. 'Twas I again
Who, happier far than Sulla, drave to death
That king who, exiled to the deep recess
Of Scythian Pontus, held the fates of Rome
Still in the balances. Where is the land
That hath not seen my trophies? Icy waves
Of northern Phasis, hot Egyptian shores,
And where Syene 'neath its noontide sun
Knows shade on neither hand: all these have learned
To fear Pompeius: and far Baetis' stream,
Last of all floods to join the refluent sea.
Arabia and the warlike hordes that dwell
Beside the Euxine wave: the famous land
That lost the golden fleece; Cilician wastes,
And Cappadocian, and the Jews who pray
Before an unknown God; Sophene soft --
All felt my yoke. What conquests now remain,
What wars not civil can my kinsman wage?'

No loud acclaim received his words, nor shout
Asked for the promised battle: and the chief
Drew back the standards, for the soldier's fears
Were in his soul alike; nor dared he trust
An army, vanquished by the fame alone
Of Caesar's powers, to fight for such a prize.
And as some bull, his early combat lost,
Forth driven from the herd, in exile roams
Through lonely plains or secret forest depths,
Whets on opposing trunks his growing horn,
And proves himself for battle, till his neck
Is ribbed afresh with muscle: then returns,
Defiant of the hind, and victor now
Leads wheresoe'er he will his lowing bands:
Thus Magnus, yielding to a stronger foe,
Gave up Italia, and sought in flight
Brundusium's sheltering battlements.

Here of old
Fled Cretan settlers when the dusky sail
Spread the false message of the hero dead;
Here, where Hesperia, curving as a bow,
Draws back her coast, a little tongue of land
Shuts in with bending horns the sounding main.
Yet insecure the spot, unsafe in storm,
Were it not sheltered by an isle on which
The Adriatic billows dash and fall,
And tempests lose their strength: on either hand
A craggy cliff opposing breaks the gale
That beats upon them, while the ships within
Held by their trembling cables ride secure.
Hence to the mariner the boundless deep
Lies open, whether for Corcyra's port
He shapes his sails, or for Illyria's shore,
And Epidamnus facing to the main
Ionian. Here, when raging in his might
Fierce Adria whelms in foam Calabria's coast,
When clouds tempestuous veil Ceraunus' height,
The sailor finds a haven.

When the chief
Could find no hope in battle on the soil
He now was quitting, and the lofty Alps
Forbad Iberia, to his son he spake,
The eldest scion of that noble stock:
'Search out the far recesses of the earth,
Nile and Euphrates, wheresoe'er the fame
Of Magnus lives, where, through thy father's deeds,
The people tremble at the name of Rome.
Lead to the sea again the pirate bands;
Rouse Egypt's kings; Tigranes, wholly mine,
And Pharnaces and all the vagrant tribes
Of both Armenias; and the Pontic hordes,
Warlike and fierce; the dwellers on the hills
Rhipaean, and by that dead northern marsh
Whose frozen surface bears the loaded wain.
Why further stay thee? Let the eastern world
Sound with the war, all cities of the earth
Conquered by me, as vassals, to my camp
Send all their levied hosts. And you whose names
Within the Latian book recorded stand,
Strike for Epirus with the northern wind;
And thence in Greece and Macedonian tracts,
(While winter gives us peace) new strength acquire
For coming conflicts.' They obey his words
And loose their ships and launch upon the main.

But Caesar's might, intolerant of peace
Or lengthy armistice, lest now perchance
The fates might change their edicts, swift pursued
The footsteps of his foe. To other men,
So many cities taken at a blow,
So many strongholds captured, might suffice;
And Rome herself, the mistress of the world,
Lay at his feet, the greatest prize of all.
Not so with Caesar: instant on the goal
He fiercely presses; thinking nothing done
While aught remained to do. Now in his grasp
Lay all Italia; -- but while Magnus stayed
Upon the utmost shore, his grieving soul
Deemed all was shared with him. Yet he essayed
Escape to hinder, and with labour vain
Piled in the greedy main gigantic rocks:
Mountains of earth down to the sandy depths
Were swallowed by the vortex of the sea;
Just as if Eryx and its lofty top
Were cast into the deep, yet not a speck
Should mark the watery plain; or Gaurus huge
Split from his summit to his base, were plunged
In fathomless Avernus' stagnant pool.
The billows thus unstemmed, 'twas Caesar's will
To hew the stately forests and with trees
Enchained to form a rampart. Thus of old
(If fame be true) the boastful Persian king
Prepared a way across the rapid strait
'Twixt Sestos and Abydos, and made one
The European and the Trojan shores;
And marched upon the waters, wind and storm
Counting as nought, but trusting his emprise
To one frail bridge, so that his ships might pass
Through middle Athos. Thus a mighty mole
Of fallen forests grew upon the waves,
Free until then, and lofty turrets rose,
And land usurped the entrance to the main.

This when Pompeius saw, with anxious care
His soul was filled; yet hoping to regain
The exit lost, and win a wider world
Wherein to wage the war, on chosen ships
He hoists the sails; these, driven by the wind
And drawn by cables fastened to their prows,
Scattered the beams asunder; and at night
Not seldom engines, worked by stalwart arms,
Flung flaming torches forth. But when the time
For secret flight was come, no sailor shout
Rang on the shore, no trumpet marked the hour,
No bugle called the armament to sea.
Already shone the Virgin in the sky
Leading the Scorpion in her course, whose claws
Foretell the rising Sun, when noiseless all
They cast the vessels loose; no song was heard
To greet the anchor wrenched from stubborn sand;
No captain's order, when the lofty mast
Was raised, or yards were bent; a silent crew
Drew down the sails which hung upon the ropes,
Nor shook the mighty cables, lest the wind
Should sound upon them. But the chief, in prayer,
Thus spake to Fortune: 'Thou whose high decree
Has made us exiles from Italia's shores,
Grant us at least to leave them.' Yet the fates
Hardly permitted, for a murmur vast
Came from the ocean, as the countless keels
Furrowed the waters, and with ceaseless splash
The parted billows rose again and fell.
Then were the gates thrown wide; for with the fates
The city turned to Caesar: and the foe,
Seizing the town, rushed onward by the pier
That circled in the harbour; then they knew
With shame and sorrow that the fleet was gone
And held the open: and Pompeius' flight
Gave a poor triumph.

Yet was narrower far
The channel which gave access to the sea
Than that Euboean strait whose waters lave
The shore by Chalcis. Here two ships stuck fast
Alone, of all the fleet; the fatal hook
Grappled their decks and drew them to the land,
And the first bloodshed of the civil war
Here left a blush upon the ocean wave.
As when the famous ship sought Phasis' stream
The rocky gates closed in and hardly gripped
Her flying stern; then from the empty sea
The cliffs rebounding to their ancient seat
Were fixed to move no more. But now the steps
Of morn approaching tinged the eastern sky
With roseate hues: the Pleiades were dim,
The wagon of the Charioteer grew pale,
The planets faded, and the silvery star
Which ushers in the day, was lost in light.

Then Magnus, hold'st the deep; yet not the same
Now are thy fates, as when from every sea
Thy fleet triumphant swept the pirate pest.
Tired of thy conquests, Fortune now no more
Shall smile upon thee. With thy spouse and sons,
Thy household gods, and peoples in thy train,
Still great in exile, in a distant land
Thou seek'st thy fated fall; not that the gods,
Wishing to rob thee of a Roman grave,
Decreed the strands of Egypt for thy tomb:
'Twas Italy they spared, that far away
Fortune on shores remote might hide her crime,
And Roman soil be pure of Magnus' blood.

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The Passing Of Arthur

That story which the bold Sir Bedivere,
First made and latest left of all the knights,
Told, when the man was no more than a voice
In the white winter of his age, to those
With whom he dwelt, new faces, other minds.

For on their march to westward, Bedivere,
Who slowly paced among the slumbering host,
Heard in his tent the moanings of the King:

'I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and dim,
And have not power to see it as it is:
Perchance, because we see not to the close;--
For I, being simple, thought to work His will,
And have but stricken with the sword in vain;
And all whereon I leaned in wife and friend
Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten me in my death;
Nay--God my Christ--I pass but shall not die.'

Then, ere that last weird battle in the west,
There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain killed
In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain blown
Along a wandering wind, and past his ear
Went shrilling, 'Hollow, hollow all delight!
Hail, King! tomorrow thou shalt pass away.
Farewell! there is an isle of rest for thee.
And I am blown along a wandering wind,
And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight.'
And fainter onward, like wild birds that change
Their season in the night and wail their way
From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream
Shrilled; but in going mingled with dim cries
Far in the moonlit haze among the hills,
As of some lonely city sacked by night,
When all is lost, and wife and child with wail
Pass to new lords; and Arthur woke and called,
'Who spake? A dream. O light upon the wind,
Thine, Gawain, was the voice--are these dim cries
Thine? or doth all that haunts the waste and wild
Mourn, knowing it will go along with me?'

This heard the bold Sir Bedivere and spake:
'O me, my King, let pass whatever will,
Elves, and the harmless glamour of the field;
But in their stead thy name and glory cling
To all high places like a golden cloud
For ever: but as yet thou shalt not pass.
Light was Gawain in life, and light in death
Is Gawain, for the ghost is as the man;
And care not thou for dreams from him, but rise--
I hear the steps of Modred in the west,
And with him many of thy people, and knights
Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown
Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee.
Right well in heart they know thee for the King.
Arise, go forth and conquer as of old.'

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'Far other is this battle in the west
Whereto we move, than when we strove in youth,
And brake the petty kings, and fought with Rome,
Or thrust the heathen from the Roman wall,
And shook him through the north. Ill doom is mine
To war against my people and my knights.
The king who fights his people fights himself.
And they my knights, who loved me once, the stroke
That strikes them dead is as my death to me.
Yet let us hence, and find or feel a way
Through this blind haze, which ever since I saw
One lying in the dust at Almesbury,
Hath folded in the passes of the world.'

Then rose the King and moved his host by night,
And ever pushed Sir Modred, league by league,
Back to the sunset bound of Lyonnesse--
A land of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
And the long mountains ended in a coast
Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
The phantom circle of a moaning sea.
There the pursuer could pursue no more,
And he that fled no further fly the King;
And there, that day when the great light of heaven
Burned at his lowest in the rolling year,
On the waste sand by the waste sea they closed.
Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last, dim, weird battle of the west.
A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold
With formless fear; and even on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist,
And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew;
And some had visions out of golden youth,
And some beheld the faces of old ghosts
Look in upon the battle; and in the mist
Was many a noble deed, many a base,
And chance and craft and strength in single fights,
And ever and anon with host to host
Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn,
Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash
Of battleaxes on shattered helms, and shrieks
After the Christ, of those who falling down
Looked up for heaven, and only saw the mist;
And shouts of heathen and the traitor knights,
Oaths, insults, filth, and monstrous blasphemies,
Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of the lungs
In that close mist, and cryings for the light,
Moans of the dying, and voices of the dead.

Last, as by some one deathbed after wail
Of suffering, silence follows, or through death
Or deathlike swoon, thus over all that shore,
Save for some whisper of the seething seas,
A dead hush fell; but when the dolorous day
Grew drearier toward twilight falling, came
A bitter wind, clear from the North, and blew
The mist aside, and with that wind the tide
Rose, and the pale King glanced across the field
Of battle: but no man was moving there;
Nor any cry of Christian heard thereon,
Nor yet of heathen; only the wan wave
Brake in among dead faces, to and fro
Swaying the helpless hands, and up and down
Tumbling the hollow helmets of the fallen,
And shivered brands that once had fought with Rome,
And rolling far along the gloomy shores
The voice of days of old and days to be.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere,
And whiter than the mist that all day long
Had held the field of battle was the King:

'Hearest thou this great voice that shakes the world,
And wastes the narrow realm whereon we move,
And beats upon the faces of the dead,
My dead, as though they had not died for me?--
O Bedivere, for on my heart hath fallen
Confusion, till I know not what I am,
Nor whence I am, nor whether I be King.
Behold, I seem but King among the dead.'

Then spake the bold Sir Bedivere: 'My King,
King everywhere! and so the dead have kings,
There also will I worship thee as King.
Yet still thy life is whole, and still I live
Who love thee; but who hates thee, he that brought
The heathen back among us, yonder stands,
Modred, unharmed, the traitor of thine house.'

Then spake the King: 'My house hath been my doom.
But call not thou this traitor of my house
Who hath but dwelt beneath one roof with me.
My house are rather they who sware my vows,
Yea, even while they brake them, owned me King.
And well for thee, saying in my dark hour,
When all the purport of my throne hath failed,
That quick or dead thou holdest me for King.
King am I, whatsoever be their cry;
And one last act of kinghood shalt thou see
Yet, ere I pass.' And uttering this the King
Made at the man: then Modred smote his liege
Hard on that helm which many a heathen sword
Had beaten thin; while Arthur at one blow,
Striking the last stroke with Excalibur,
Slew him, and all but slain himself, he fell.

So all day long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's Table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their lord,
King Arthur. Then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land:
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'The sequel of today unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep--the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls
Of Camelot, as in the days that were.
I perish by this people which I made,--
Though Merlin sware that I should come again
To rule once more; but, let what will be, be,
I am so deeply smitten through the helm
That without help I cannot last till morn.
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur,
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword--and how I rowed across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king;
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,
And fling him far into the middle mere:
Watch what thou se st, and lightly bring me word.'

To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:
'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus,
Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm--
A little thing may harm a wounded man;
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,
Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word.'

So saying, from the ruined shrine he stept,
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, stepping down
By zigzag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
Came on the shining levels of the lake.

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long
That both his eyes were dazzled as he stood,
This way and that dividing the swift mind,
In act to throw: but at the last it seemed
Better to leave Excalibur concealed
There in the many-knotted waterflags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.
So strode he back slow to the wounded King.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'Hast thou performed my mission which I gave?
What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?'

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'I heard the ripple washing in the reeds,
And the wild water lapping on the crag.'

To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale:
'Thou hast betrayed thy nature and thy name,
Not rendering true answer, as beseemed
Thy f alty, nor like a noble knight:
For surer sign had followed, either hand,
Or voice, or else a motion of the mere.
This is a shameful thing for men to lie.
Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again,
As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing
I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word.'

Then went Sir Bedivere the second time
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fixed in thought;
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt,
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote
His palms together, and he cried aloud:

'And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Should thus be lost for ever from the earth,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
What good should follow this, if this were done?
What harm, undone? Deep harm to disobey,
Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.
Were it well to obey then, if a king demand
An act unprofitable, against himself?
The King is sick, and knows not what he does.
What record, or what relic of my lord
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath
And rumours of a doubt? But were this kept,
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
Some one might show it at a joust of arms,
Saying, "King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills."
So might some old man speak in the aftertime
To all the people, winning reverence.
But now much honour and much fame were lost.'

So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
And hid Excalibur the second time,
And so strode back slow to the wounded King.

Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily:
'What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?'

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'I heard the water lapping on the crag,
And the long ripple washing in the reeds.'

To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath:
'Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue,
Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me!
Authority forgets a dying king,
Laid widowed of the power in his eye
That bowed the will. I see thee what thou art,
For thou, the latest-left of all my knights,
In whom should meet the offices of all,
Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt;
Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.
Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice,
And the third time may prosper, get thee hence:
But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur,
I will arise and slay thee with my hands.'

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
And, leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush beds, and clutched the sword,
And strongly wheeled and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, and whirled in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the Northern Sea.
So flashed and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandished him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.
And lightly went the other to the King.

Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath:
'Now see I by thine eyes that this is done.
Speak out: what is it thou hast heard, or seen?'

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems
Should blind my purpose, for I never saw,
Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die,
Not though I live three lives of mortal men,
So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him;
But when I looked again, behold an arm,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
That caught him by the hilt, and brandished him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.'

And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard:
'My end draws nigh; 'tis time that I were gone.
Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight,
And bear me to the margin; yet I fear
My wound hath taken cold, and I shall die.'

So saying, from the pavement he half rose,
Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm,
And looking wistfully with wide blue eyes
As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere
Remorsefully regarded through his tears,
And would have spoken, but he found not words;
Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee,
O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands,
And rising bore him through the place of tombs.

But, as he walked, King Arthur panted hard,
Like one that feels a nightmare on his bed
When all the house is mute. So sighed the King,
Muttering and murmuring at his ear, 'Quick, quick!
I fear it is too late, and I shall die.'

But the other swiftly strode from ridge to ridge,
Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walked,
Larger than human on the frozen hills.
He heard the deep behind him, and a cry
Before. His own thought drove him like a goad.
Dry clashed his harness in the icy caves
And barren chasms, and all to left and right
The bare black cliff clanged round him, as he based
His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang
Sharp-smitten with the dint of armd heels--
And on a sudden, lo! the level lake,
And the long glories of the winter moon.

Then saw they how there hove a dusky barge,
Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern,
Beneath them; and descending they were ware
That all the decks were dense with stately forms,
Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream--by these
Three Queens with crowns of gold: and from them rose
A cry that shivered to the tingling stars,
And, as it were one voice, an agony
Of lamentation, like a wind that shrills
All night in a waste land, where no one comes,
Or hath come, since the making of the world.

Then murmured Arthur, 'Place me in the barge.'
So to the barge they came. There those three Queens
Put forth their hands, and took the King, and wept.
But she, that rose the tallest of them all
And fairest, laid his head upon her lap,
And loosed the shattered casque, and chafed his hands,
And called him by his name, complaining loud,
And dropping bitter tears against a brow
Striped with dark blood: for all his face was white
And colourless, and like the withered moon
Smote by the fresh beam of the springing east;
And all his greaves and cuisses dashed with drops
Of onset; and the light and lustrous curls--
That made his forehead like a rising sun
High from the das-throne--were parched with dust;
Or, clotted into points and hanging loose,
Mixed with the knightly growth that fringed his lips.
So like a shattered column lay the King;
Not like that Arthur who, with lance in rest,
From spur to plume a star of tournament,
Shot through the lists at Camelot, and charged
Before the eyes of ladies and of kings.

Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:
'Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.
But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world,
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds.'

And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
'The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou se st--if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)--
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.'

So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Looked one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.

But when that moan had past for evermore,
The stillness of the dead world's winter dawn
Amazed him, and he groaned, 'The King is gone.'
And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,
'From the great deep to the great deep he goes.'

Whereat he slowly turned and slowly clomb
The last hard footstep of that iron crag;
Thence marked the black hull moving yet, and cried,
'He passes to be King among the dead,
And after healing of his grievous wound
He comes again; but--if he come no more--
O me, be yon dark Queens in yon black boat,
Who shrieked and wailed, the three whereat we gazed
On that high day, when, clothed with living light,
They stood before his throne in silence, friends
Of Arthur, who should help him at his need?'

Then from the dawn it seemed there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.

Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.

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Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur (excerpt)

That story which the bold Sir Bedivere,
First made and latest left of all the knights,
Told, when the man was no more than a voice
In the white winter of his age, to those
With whom he dwelt, new faces, other minds.
For on their march to westward, Bedivere,
Who slowly paced among the slumbering host,
Heard in his tent the moanings of the King:
"I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I mark'd Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and dim,
And have not power to see it as it is:
Perchance, because we see not to the close;--
For I, being simple, thought to work His will,
And have but stricken with the sword in vain;
And all whereon I lean'd in wife and friend
Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten me in my death:
Nay--God my Christ--I pass but shall not die."

Then, ere that last weird battle in the west,
There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain kill'd
In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain blown
Along a wandering wind, and past his ear
Went shrilling, "Hollow, hollow all delight!
Hail, King! to-morrow thou shalt pass away.
Farewell! there is an isle of rest for thee.
And I am blown along a wandering wind,
And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight."
And fainter onward, like wild birds that change
Their season in the night and wail their way
From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream
Shrill'd; but in going mingled with dim cries
Far in the moonlit haze among the hills,
As of some lonely city sack'd by night,
When all is lost, and wife and child with wail
Pass to new lords; and Arthur woke and call'd,
"Who spake? A dream. O light upon the wind,
Thine, Gawain, was the voice--are these dim cries
Thine? or doth all that haunts the waste and wild
Mourn, knowing it will go along with me?"

This heard the bold Sir Bedivere and spake:
"O me, my King, let pass whatever will,
Elves, and the harmless glamour of the field;
But in their stead thy name and glory cling
To all high places like a golden cloud
For ever: but as yet thou shalt not pass.
Light was Gawain in life, and light in death
Is Gawain, for the ghost is as the man;
And care not thou for dreams from him, but rise--
I hear the steps of Modred in the west,
And with him many of thy people, and knights
Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown
Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee.
Right well in heart they know thee for the King.
Arise, go forth and conquer as of old."

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
"Far other is this battle in the west
Whereto we move, than when we strove in youth,
And brake the petty kings, and fought with Rome,
Or thrust the heathen from the Roman wall,
And shook him thro' the north. Ill doom is mine
To war against my people and my knights.
The king who fights his people fights himself.
And they my knights, who loved me once, the stroke
That strikes them dead is as my death to me.
Yet let us hence, and find or feel a way
Thro' this blind haze, which ever since I saw
One lying in the dust at Almesbury,
Hath folded in the passes of the world."

Then rose the King and moved his host by night,
And ever push'd Sir Modred, league by league,
Back to the sunset bound of Lyonnesse--
A land of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
And the long mountains ended in a coast
Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
The phantom circle of a moaning sea.
There the pursuer could pursue no more,
And he that fled no further fly the King;
And there, that day when the great light of heaven
Burn'd at his lowest in the rolling year,
On the waste sand by the waste sea they closed.
Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last, dim, weird battle of the west.
A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold
With formless fear; and ev'n on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.


For friend and foe were shadows in the mist,
And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew;
And some had visions out of golden youth,
And some beheld the faces of old ghosts
Look in upon the battle; and in the mist
Was many a noble deed, many a base,
And chance and craft and strength in single fights,
And ever and anon with host to host
Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn,
Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash
Of battleaxes on shatter'd helms, and shrieks
After the Christ, of those who falling down
Look'd up for heaven, and only saw the mist;
And shouts of heathen and the traitor knights,
Oaths, insult, filth, and monstrous blasphemies,
Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of the lungs
In that close mist, and cryings for the light,
Moans of the dying, and voices of the dead.


Last, as by some one deathbed after wail
Of suffering, silence follows, or thro' death
Or deathlike swoon, thus over all that shore,
Save for some whisper of the seething seas,
A dead hush fell; but when the dolorous day
Grew drearier toward twilight falling, came
A bitter wind, clear from the North, and blew
The mist aside, and with that wind the tide
Rose, and the pale King glanced across the field
Of battle: but no man was moving there;
Nor any cry of Christian heard thereon,
Nor yet of heathen; only the wan wave
Brake in among dead faces, to and fro
Swaying the helpless hands, and up and down
Tumbling the hollow helmets of the fallen,
And shiver'd brands that once had fought with Rome,
And rolling far along the gloomy shores
The voice of days of old and days to be.


Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere,
And whiter than the mist that all day long
Had held the field of battle was the King:


"Hearest thou this great voice that shakes the world,
And wastes the narrow realm whereon we move,
And beats upon the faces of the dead,
My dead, as tho' they had not died for me?--
O Bedivere, for on my heart hath fall'n
Confusion, till I know not what I am,
Nor whence I am, nor whether I be King.
Behold, I seem but King among the dead."


Then spake the bold Sir Bedivere: "My King,
King everywhere! and so the dead have kings,
There also will I worship thee as King.
Yet still thy life is whole, and still I live
Who love thee; but who hates thee, he that brought
The heathen back among us, yonder stands,
Modred, unharm'd, the traitor of thine house."


Then spake the King: "My house hath been my doom.
But call not thou this traitor of my house
Who hath but dwelt beneath one roof with me.
My house are rather they who sware my vows,
Yea, even while they brake them, own'd me King.
And well for thee, saying in my dark hour,
When all the purport of my throne hath fail'd,
That quick or dead thou hottest me for King.
King am I, whatsoever be their cry;
And one last act of kinghood shalt thou see
Yet, ere I pass." And uttering this the King
Made at the man: then Modred smote his liege
Hard on that helm which many a heathen sword
Had beaten thin; while Arthur at one blow,
Striking the last stroke with Excalibur,
Slew him, and all but slain himself, he fell.


So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's Table, man by man,
Had fall'n in Lyonnesse about their lord,
King Arthur. Then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land:
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.


Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
"The sequel of to-day unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep--the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls
Of Camelot, as in the days that were.
I perish by this people which I made,--
Tho' Merlin sware that I should come again
To rule once more; but, let what will be, be,
I am so deeply smitten thro' the helm
That without help I cannot last till morn.
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur,
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword--and how I row'd across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king;
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,
And fling him far into the middle mere:
Watch what thou seëst, and lightly bring me word."


To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:
"It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus,
Aidless, alone, and smitten thro' the helm--
A little thing may harm a wounded man;
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,
Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word."


So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he stept,
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, stepping down
By zigzag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
Came on the shining levels of the lake.


There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long
That both his eyes were dazzled as he stood,
This way and that dividing the swift mind,
In act to throw: but at the last it seem'd
Better to leave Excalibur conceal'd
There in the many-knotted waterflags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.
So strode he back slow to the wounded King.


Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
"Hast thou perform'd my mission which I gave?
What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?"


And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
"I heard the ripple washing in the reeds,
And the wild water lapping on the crag."


To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale:
"Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy name,
Not rendering true answer, as beseem'd
Thy fealty, nor like a noble knight:
For surer sign had follow'd, either hand
Or voice, or else a motion of the mere.
This is a shameful thing for men to lie.
Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again,
As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing
I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word."


Then went Sir Bedivere the second time
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fix'd in thought;
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt,
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote
His palms together, and he cried aloud:


"And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Should thus be lost for ever from the earth,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
What good should follow this, if this were done?
What harm, undone? Deep harm to disobey,
Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.
Were it well to obey then, if a king demand
An act unprofitable, against himself?
The King is sick, and knows not what he does.
What record, or what relic of my lord
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath
And rumours of a doubt? But were this kept,
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
Some one might show it at a joust of arms,
Saying, 'King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.'
So might some old man speak in the aftertime
To all the people, winning reverence.
But now much honour and much fame were lost."


So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
And hid Excalibur the second time,
And so strode back slow to the wounded King.


Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily:
"What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?'


And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
"I heard the water lapping on the crag,
And the long ripple washing in the reeds."


To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath:
"Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue,
Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me!
Authority forgets a dying king,
Laid widow'd of the power in his eye
That bow'd the will. I see thee what thou art,
For thou, the latest-left of all my knights,
In whom should meet the offices of all,
Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt;
Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.
Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice,
And the third time may prosper, get thee hence:
But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur,
I will arise and slay thee with my hands."


Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
And, leaping down the ridges, lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush beds, and clutch'd the sword,
And strongly wheel'd and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, and whirl'd in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the Northern Sea.
So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.
And lightly went the other to the King.


Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath:
"Now see I by thine eyes that this is done.
Speak out: what is it thou hast heard, or seen?"


And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
"Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems
Should blind my purpose, for I never saw,
Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die,
Not tho' I live three lives of mortal men,
So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him;
But when I look'd again, behold an arm,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
That caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere."


And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard:
"My end draws nigh; 'tis time that I were gone.
Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight,
And bear me to the margin; yet I fear
My wound hath taken cold, and I shall die."


So saying, from the pavement he half rose,
Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm,
And looking wistfully with wide blue eyes
As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere
Remorsefully regarded thro' his tears,
And would have spoken, but he found not words;
Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee,
O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands,
And rising bore him thro' the place of tombs.


But, as he walk'd, King Arthur panted hard,
Like one that feels a nightmare on his bed
When all the house is mute. So sigh'd the King,
Muttering and murmuring at his ear, "Quick, quick!
I fear it is too late, and I shall die."
But the other swiftly strode from ridge to ridge,
Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walk'd,
Larger than human on the frozen hills.
He heard the deep behind him, and a cry
Before. His own thought drove him like a goad.
Dry clash'd his harness in the icy caves
And barren chasms, and all to left and right
The bare black cliff clang'd round him, as he based
His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang
Sharp-smitten with the dint of armed heels--
And on a sudden, lo! the level lake,
And the long glories of the winter moon.


Then saw they how there hove a dusky barge,
Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern,
Beneath them; and descending they were ware
That all the decks were dense with stately forms,
Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream--by these
Three Queens with crowns of gold: and from them rose
A cry that shiver'd to the tingling stars,
And, as it were one voice, an agony
Of lamentation, like a wind that shrills
All night in a waste land, where no one comes,
Or hath come, since the making of the world.


Then murmur'd Arthur, "Place me in the barge."
So to the barge they came. There those three Queens
Put forth their hands, and took the King, and wept.
But she, that rose the tallest of them all
And fairest, laid his head upon her lap,
And loosed the shatter'd casque, and chafed his hands,
And call'd him by his name, complaining loud,
And dropping bitter tears against a brow
Striped with dark blood: for all his face was white
And colourless, and like the wither'd moon
Smote by the fresh beam of the springing east;
And all his greaves and cuisses dash'd with drops
Of onset; and the light and lustrous curls--
That made his forehead like a rising sun
High from the daïs-throne--were parch'd with dust
Or, clotted into points and hanging loose,
Mix'd with the knightly growth that fringed his lips.
So like a shatter'd column lay the King;
Not like that Arthur who, with lance in rest,
From spur to plume a star of tournament,
Shot thro' the lists at Camelot, and charged
Before the eyes of ladies and of kings.


Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:
"Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.
But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world,
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds."


And slowly answer'd Arthur from the barge:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seëst--if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)--
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crown'd with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."


So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Look'd one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.


But when that moan had past for evermore,
The stillness of the dead world's winter dawn
Amazed him, and he groan'd, ``The King is gone.''
And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,
"From the great deep to the great deep he goes."


Whereat he slowly turn'd and slowly clomb
The last hard footstep of that iron crag;
Thence mark'd the black hull moving yet, and cried,
"He passes to be King among the dead,
And after healing of his grievous wound
He comes again; but--if he come no more--
O me, be yon dark Queens in yon black boat,
Who shriek'd and wail'd, the three whereat we gazed
On that high day, when, clothed with living light,
They stood before his throne in silence, friends
Of Arthur, who should help him at his need?"


Then from the dawn it seem'd there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.


Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Ev'n to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.

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Pharsalia - Book VII: The Battle

Ne'er to the summons of the Eternal laws
More slowly Titan rose, nor drave his steeds,
Forced by the sky revolving, up the heaven,
With gloomier presage; wishing to endure
The pangs of ravished light, and dark eclipse;
And drew the mists up, not to feed his flames,
But lest his light upon Thessalian earth
Might fall undimmed.

Pompeius on that morn,
To him the latest day of happy life,
In troubled sleep an empty dream conceived.
For in the watches of the night he heard
Innumerable Romans shout his name
Within his theatre; the benches vied
To raise his fame and place him with the gods;
As once in youth, when victory was won
O'er conquered tribes where swift Iberus flows,
And where Sertorius' armies fought and fled,
The west subdued, with no less majesty
Than if the purple toga graced the car,
He sat triumphant in his pure white gown
A Roman knight, and heard the Senate's cheer.
Perhaps, as ills drew near, his anxious soul,
Shunning the future wooed the happy past;
Or, as is wont, prophetic slumber showed
That which was not to be, by doubtful forms
Misleading; or as envious Fate forbade
Return to Italy, this glimpse of Rome
Kind Fortune gave. Break not his latest sleep,
Ye sentinels; let not the trumpet call
Strike on his ear: for on the morrow's night
Shapes of the battle lost, of death and war
Shall crowd his rest with terrors. Whence shalt thou
The poor man's happiness of sleep regain?
Happy if even in dreams thy Rome could see
Once more her captain! Would the gods had given
To thee and to thy country one day yet
To reap the latest fruit of such a love:
Though sure of fate to come! Thou marchest on
As though by heaven ordained in Rome to die;
She, conscious ever of her prayers for thee
Heard by the gods, deemed not the fates decreed
Such evil destiny, that she should lose
The last sad solace of her Magnus' tomb.
Then young and old had blent their tears for thee,
And child unbidden; women torn their hair
And struck their bosoms as for Brutus dead.
But now no public woe shall greet thy death
As erst thy praise was heard: but men shall grieve
In silent sorrow, though the victor's voice
Amid the clash of arms proclaims thy fall;
Though incense smoke before the Thunderer's shrine,
And shouts of welcome bid great Caesar hail.

The stars had fled before the growing morn,
When eager voices (as the fates drew on
The world to ruin) round Pompeius' tent
Demand the battle signal. What! by those
So soon to perish, shall the sign be asked,
Their own, their country's doom? Ah! fatal rage
That hastens on the hour; no other sun
Upon this living host shall rise again.
'Pompeius fears!' they cry. 'He's slow to act;
Too 'kind to Caesar; and he fondly rules
A world of subject peoples; but with peace
Such rule were ended.' Eastern kings no less,
And peoples, eager for their distant homes,
Already murmured at the lengthy war.

Thus hath it pleased the gods, when woe impends
On guilty men, to make them seem its cause.
We court disaster, crave the fatal sword.
Of Magnus' camp Pharsalia was the prayer;
For Tullius, of all the sons of Rome
Chief orator, beneath whose civil rule
Fierce Catiline at the peace-compelling axe
Trembled and fled, arose, to Magnus' ear
Bearing the voice of all. To him was war
Grown hateful, and he longed once more to hear
The Senate's plaudits; and with eloquent lips
He lent persuasion to the weaker cause.
'Fortune, Pompeius, for her gifts to thee
Asks this one boon, that thou should'st use her now.
Here at thy feet thy leading captains lie;
And here thy monarchs, and a suppliant world
Entreats thee prostrate for thy kinsman's fall.
So long shall Caesar plunge the world in war?
Swift was thy tread when these proud nations fell;
How deep their shame, and justly, should delay
Now mar thy conquests! Where thy trust in Fate,
Thy fervour where? Ingrate! Dost dread the gods,
Or think they favour not the Senate's cause?
Thy troops unbidden shall the standards seize
And conquer; thou in shame be forced to win.
If at the Senate's orders and for us
The war is waged, then give to us the right
To choose the battle-field. Why dost thou keep
From Caesar's throat the swords of all the world?
The weapon quivers in the eager hand:
Scarce one awaits the signal. Strike at once,
Or without thee the trumpets sound the fray.
Art thou the Senate's comrade or her lord?
We wait your answer.'

But Pompeius groaned;
His mind was adverse, but he felt the fates
Opposed his wish, and knew the hand divine.
'Since all desire it, and the fates prevail,
So let it be; your leader now no more,
I share the labours of the battle-field.
Let Fortune roll the nations of the earth
In one red ruin; myriads of mankind
See their last sun to-day. Yet, Rome, I swear,
This day of blood was forced upon thy son.
Without a wound, the prizes of the war
Might have been thine, and he who broke the peace
In peace forgotten. Whence this lust for crime?
Shall bloodless victories in civil war
Be shunned, not sought? We've ravished from our foe
All boundless seas, and land; his starving troops
Have snatched earth's crop half-grown, in vain attempt
Their hunger to appease; they prayed for death,
Sought for the sword-thrust, and within our ranks
Were fain to mix their life-blood with your own.
Much of the war is done: the conscript youth
Whose heart beats high, who burns to join the fray
(Though men fight hard in terror of defeat),
The shock of onset need no longer fear.
Bravest is he who promptly meets the ill
When fate commands it and the moment comes,
Yet brooks delay, in prudence; and shall we,
Our happy state enjoying, risk it all?
Trust to the sword the fortunes of the world?
Not victory, but battle, ye demand.
Do thou, O Fortune, of the Roman state
Who mad'st Pompeius guardian, from his hands
Take back the charge grown weightier, and thyself
Commit its safety to the chance of war.
Nor blame nor glory shall be mine to-day.
Thy prayers unjustly, Caesar, have prevailed:
We fight! What wickedness, what woes on men,
Destruction on what realms this dawn shall bring!
Crimson with Roman blood yon stream shall run.
Would that (without the ruin of our cause)
The first fell bolt hurled on this cursed day
Might strike me lifeless! Else, this battle brings
A name of pity or a name of hate.
The loser bears the burden of defeat;
The victor wins, but conquest is a crime.'
Thus to the soldiers, burning for the fray,
He yields, forbidding, and throws down the reins.
So may a sailor give the winds control
Upon his barque, which, driven by the seas,
Bears him an idle burden. Now the camp
Hums with impatience, and the brave man's heart
With beats tumultuous throbs against his breast;
And all the host had standing in their looks
The paleness of the death that was to come.
On that day's fight 'twas manifest that Rome
And all the future destinies of man
Hung trembling; and by weightier dread possessed,
They knew not danger. Who would fear for self
Should ocean rise and whelm the mountain tops,
And sun and sky descend upon the earth
In universal chaos? Every mind
Is bent upon Pompeius, and on Rome.
They trust no sword until its deadly point
Glows on the sharpening stone; no lance will serve
Till straightened for the fray; each bow is strung
Anew, and arrows chosen for their work
Fill all the quivers; horsemen try the curb
And fit the bridle rein and whet the spur.
If toils divine with human may compare,
'Twas thus, when Phlegra bore the giant crew,
In Etna's furnace glowed the sword of Mars,
Neptunus' trident felt the flame once more;
And great Apollo after Python slain
Sharpened his darts afresh: on Pallas' shield
Was spread anew the dread Medusa's hair;
And broad Sicilia trembled at the blows
Of Vulcan forging thunderbolts for Jove.

Yet Fortune failed not, as they sought the field,
In various presage of the ills to come;
All heaven opposed their march: portentous fire
In columns filled the plain, and torches blazed:
And thirsty whirlwinds mixed with meteor bolts
Smote on them as they strode, whose sulphurous flames
Perplexed the vision. Crests were struck from helms;
The melted sword-blade flowed upon the hilt:
The spear ran liquid, and the hurtful steel
Smoked with a sulphur that had come from heaven.
Nay, more, the standards, hid by swarms of bees
Innumerable, weighed the bearer down,
Scarce lifted from the earth; bedewed with tears;
No more of Rome the standards, or her state.
And from the altar fled the frantic bull
To fields afar; nor was a victim found
To grace the sacrifice of coming doom.

But thou, Caesar, to what gods of ill
Didst thou appeal? What furies didst thou call,
What powers of madness and what Stygian Kings
Whelmed in th' abyss of hell? Didst favour gain
By sacrifice in this thine impious war?
Strange sights were seen; or caused by hands divine
Or due to fearful fancy. Haemus' top
Plunged headlong in the valley, Pindus met
With high Olympus, while at Ossa's feet
Red ran Baebeis, and Pharsalia's field
Gave warlike voices forth in depth of night.
Now darkness came upon their wondering gaze,
Now daylight pale and wan, their helmets wreathed
In pallid mist; the spirits of their sires
Hovered in air, and shades of kindred dead
Passed flitting through the gloom. Yet to the host
Conscious of guilty prayers which sought to shed
The blood of sires and brothers, earth and air
Distraught, and horrors seething in their hearts
Gave happy omen of the end to come.

Was't strange that peoples whom their latest day
Of happy life awaited (if their minds
Foreknew the doom) should tremble with affright?
Romans who dwelt by far Araxes' stream,
And Tyrian Gades, in whatever clime,
'Neath every sky, struck by mysterious dread
Were plunged in sorrow -- yet rebuked the tear,
For yet they knew not of the fatal day.
Thus on Euganean hills where sulphurous fumes
Disclose the rise of Aponus from earth,
And where Timavus broadens in the meads,
An augur spake: 'This day the fight is fought,
The arms of Caesar and Pompeius meet
To end the impious conflict.' Or he saw
The bolts of Jupiter, predicting ill;
Or else the sky discordant o'er the space
Of heaven, from pole to pole; or else perchance
The sun was sad and misty in the height
And told the battle by his wasted beams.
By Nature's fiat that Thessalian day
Passed not as others; if the gifted sense
Of reading portents had been given to all,
All men had known Pharsalia. Gods of heaven!
How do ye mark the great ones of the earth!
The world gives tokens of their weal or woe;
The sky records their fates: in distant climes
To future races shall their tale be told,
Or by the fame alone of mighty deeds
Had in remembrance, or by this my care
Borne through the centuries: and men shall read
In hope and fear the story of the war
And breathless pray, as though it were to come,
For that long since accomplished; and for thee
Thus far, Pompeius, shall that prayer be given.

Reflected from their arms, th' opposing sun
Filled all the slope with radiance as they marched
In ordered ranks to that ill-fated fight,
And stood arranged for battle. On the left
Thou, Lentulus, had'st charge; two legions there,
The fourth, and bravest of them all, the first:
While on the right, Domitius, ever stanch,
Though fates be adverse, stood: in middle line
The hardy soldiers from Cilician lands,
In Scipio's care; their chief in Libyan days,
To-day their comrade. By Enipeus' pools
And by the rivulets, the mountain troops
Of Cappadocia, and loose of rein
Thy squadrons, Pontus: on the firmer ground
Galatia's tetrarchs and the greater kings;
And all the purple-robed, the slaves of Rome.
Numidian hordes were there from Afric shores,
There Creta's host and Ituraeans found
Full space to wing their arrows; there the tribes
From brave Iberia clashed their shields, and there
Gaul stood arrayed against her ancient foe.
Let all the nations be the victor's prize,
None grace in future a triumphal car;
This fight demands the slaughter of a world.

Caesar that day to send his troops for spoil
Had left his tent, when on the further hill
Behold! his foe descending to the plain.
The moment asked for by a thousand prayers
Is come, which puts his fortune on the risk
Of imminent war, to win or lose it all.
For burning with desire of kingly power
His eager soul ill brooked the small delay
This civil war compelled: each instant lost
Robbed from his due! But when at length he knew
The last great conflict come, the fight supreme,
Whose prize the leadership of all the world:
And felt the ruin nodding to its fall:
Swiftest to strike, yet for a little space
His rage for battle failed; the spirit bold
To pledge itself the issue, wavered now:
For Magnus' fortunes gave no room for hope,
Though Caesar's none for fear. Deep in his soul
Such doubt was hidden, as with mien and speech
That augured victory, thus the chief began:
'Ye conquerors of a world, my hope in all,
Prayed for so oft, the dawn of fight is come.
No more entreat the gods: with sword in hand
Seize on our fates; and Caesar in your deeds
This day is great or little. This the day
For which I hold since Rubicon was passed
Your promise given: for this we flew to arms:
For this deferred the triumphs we had won,
And which the foe refused: this gives you back
Your homes and kindred, and the peaceful farm,
Your prize for years of service in the field.
And by the fates' command this day shall prove
Whose quarrel juster: for defeat is guilt
To him on whom it falls. If in my cause
With fire and sword ye did your country wrong,
Strike for acquittal! Should another judge
This war, not Caesar, none were blameless found.
Not for my sake this battle, but for you,
To give you, soldiers, liberty and law
'Gainst all the world. Wishful myself for life
Apart from public cares, and for the gown
That robes the private citizen, I refuse
To yield from office till the law allows
Your right in all things. On my shoulders rest
All blame; all power be yours. Nor deep the blood
Between yourselves and conquest. Grecian schools
Of exercise and wrestling send us here
Their chosen darlings to await your swords;
And scarcely armed for war, a dissonant crowd
Barbaric, that will start to hear our trump,
Nay, their own clamour. Not in civil strife
Your blows shall fall -- the battle of to-day
Sweeps from the earth the enemies of Rome.
Dash through these cowards and their vaunted kings:
One stroke of sword and all the world is yours.
Make plain to all men that the crowds who decked
Pompeius' hundred pageants scarce were fit
For one poor triumph. Shall Armenia care
Who leads her masters, or barbarians shed
One drop of blood to make Pompeius chief
O'er our Italia? Rome, 'tis Rome they hate
And all her children; yet they hate the most
Those whom they know. My fate is in the hands
Of you, mine own true soldiers, proved in all
The wars we fought in Gallia. When the sword
Of each of you shall strike, I know the hand:
The javelin's flight to me betrays the arm
That launched it hurtling: and to-day once more
I see the faces stern, the threatening eyes,
Unfailing proofs of victory to come.
E'en now the battle rushes on my sight;
Kings trodden down and scattered senators
Fill all th' ensanguined plain, and peoples float
Unnumbered on the crimson tide of death.
Enough of words -- I but delay the fates;
And you who burn to dash into the fray,
Forgive the pause. I tremble with the hopes
Thus finding utterance. I ne'er have seen
The mighty gods so near; this little field
Alone dividing us; their hands are full
Of my predestined honours: for 'tis I
Who when this war is done shall have the power
O'er all that peoples, all that kings enjoy
To shower it where I will. But has the pole
Been moved, or in its nightly course some star
Turned backwards, that such mighty deeds should pass
Here on Thessalian earth? To-day we reap
Of all our wars the harvest or the doom.
Think of the cross that threats us, and the chain,
Limbs hacked asunder, Caesar's head displayed
Upon the rostra; and that narrow field
Piled up with slaughter: for this hostile chief
Is savage Sulla's pupil. 'Tis for you,
If conquered, that I grieve: my lot apart
Is cast long since. This sword, should one of you
Turn from the battle ere the foe be fled,
Shall rob the life of Caesar. O ye gods,
Drawn down from heaven by the throes of Rome,
May he be conqueror who shall not draw
Against the vanquished an inhuman sword,
Nor count it as a crime if men of Rome
Preferred another's standard to his own.
Pompeius' sword drank deep Italian blood
When cabined in yon space the brave man's arm
No more found room to strike. But you, I pray,
Touch not the foe who turns him from the fight,
A fellow citizen, a foe no more.
But while the gleaming weapons threaten still,
Let no fond memories unnerve the arm,
No pious thought of father or of kin;
But full in face of brother or of sire,
Drive home the blade. Unless the slain be known
Your foes account his slaughter as a crime;
Spare not our camp, but lay the rampart low
And fill the fosse with ruin; not a man
But holds his post within the ranks to-day.
And yonder tents, deserted by the foe,
Shall give us shelter when the rout is done.'

Scarce had he paused; they snatch the hasty meal,
And seize their armour and with swift acclaim
Welcome the chief's predictions of the day,
Tread low their camp when rushing to the fight;
And take their post: nor word nor order given,
In fate they put their trust. Nor, had'st thou placed
All Caesars there, all striving for the throne
Of Rome their city, had their serried ranks
With speedier tread dashed down upon the foe.

But when Pompeius saw the hostile troops
Move forth in order and demand the fight,
And knew the gods' approval of the day,
He stood astonied, while a deadly chill
Struck to his heart -- omen itself of woe,
That such a chief should at the call to arms,
Thus dread the issue: but with fear repressed,
Borne on his noble steed along the line
Of all his forces, thus he spake: 'The day
Your bravery demands, that final end
Of civil war ye asked for, is at hand.
Put forth your strength, your all; the sword to-day
Does its last work. One crowded hour is charged
With nations' destinies. Whoe'er of you
Longs for his land and home, his wife and child,
Seek them with sword. Here in mid battle-field,
The gods place all at stake. Our better right
Bids us expect their favour; they shall dip
Your brands in Caesar's blood, and thus shall give
Another sanction to the laws of Rome,
Our cause of battle. If for him were meant
An empire o'er the world, had they not put
An end to Magnus' life? That I am chief
Of all these mingled peoples and of Rome
Disproves an angry heaven. See here combined
All means of victory. Noble men have sought
Unasked the risks of war. Our soldiers boast
Ancestral statues. If to us were given
A Curius, if Camillus were returned,
Or patriot Decius to devote his life,
Here would they take their stand. From furthest east
All nations gathered, cities as the sand
Unnumbered, give their aid: a world complete
Serves 'neath our standards. North and south and all
Who have their being 'neath the starry vault,
Here meet in arms conjoined: And shall we not
Crush with our closing wings this paltry foe?
Few shall find room to strike; the rest with voice
Must be content to aid: for Caesar's ranks
Suffice not for us. Think from Rome's high walls
The matrons watch you with their hair unbound;
Think that the Senate hoar, too old for arms,
With snowy locks outspread; and Rome herself,
The world's high mistress, fearing now, alas!
A despot -- all exhort you to the fight.
Think that the people that is and that shall be
Joins in the prayer -- in freedom to be born,
In freedom die, their wish. If 'mid these vows
Be still found place for mine, with wife and child,
So far as Imperator may, I bend
Before you suppliant -- unless this fight
Be won, behold me exile, your disgrace,
My kinsman's scorn. From this, 'tis yours to save.
Then save! Nor in the latest stage of life,
Let Magnus be a slave.'

Then burned their souls
At these his words, indignant at the thought,
And Rome rose up within them, and to die
Was welcome.

Thus alike with hearts aflame
Moved either host to battle, one in fear
And one in hope of empire. These hands shall do
Such work as not the rolling centuries
Not all mankind though free from sword and war
Shall e'er make good. Nations that were to live
This fight shall crush, and peoples pre-ordained
To make the history of the coming world
Shall come not to the birth. The Latin names
Shall sound as fables in the ears of men,
And ruins loaded with the dust of years
Shall hardly mark her cities. Alba's hill,
Home of our gods, no human foot shall tread,
Save of some Senator at the ancient feast
By Numa's orders founded -- he compelled
Serves his high office. Void and desolate
Are Veii, Cora and Laurentum's hold;
Yet not the tooth of envious time destroyed
These storied monuments -- 'twas civil war
That rased their citadels. Where now hath fled
The teeming life that once Italia knew?
Not all the earth can furnish her with men:
Untenanted her dwellings and her fields:
Slaves till her soil: one city holds us all:
Crumbling to ruin, the ancestral roof
Finds none on whom to fall; and Rome herself,
Void of her citizens, draws within her gates
The dregs of all the world. That none might wage
A civil war again, thus deeply drank
Pharsalia's fight the life-blood of her sons.
Dark in the calendar of Rome for aye,
The days when Allia and Cannae fell:
And shall Pharsalus' morn, darkest of all,
Stand on the page unmarked? Alas, the fates!
Not plague nor pestilence nor famine's rage,
Not cities given to the flames, nor towns
Trembling at shock of earthquake shall weigh down
Such heroes lost, when Fortune's ruthless hand
Lops at one blow the gift of centuries,
Leaders and men embattled. How great art thou,
Rome, in thy fall! Stretched to the widest bounds
War upon war laid nations at thy feet
Till flaming Titan nigh to either pole
Beheld thine empire; and the furthest east
Was almost thine, till day and night and sky
For thee revolved, and all the stars could see
Throughout their course was Roman. But the fates
In one dread day of slaughter and despair
Turned back the centuries and spoke thy doom.
And now the Indian fears the axe no more
Once emblem of thy power, now no more
The girded Consul curbs the Getan horde,
Or in Sarmatian furrows guides the share:
Still Parthia boasts her triumphs unavenged:
Foul is the public life; and Freedom, fled
To furthest Earth beyond the Tigris' stream,
And Rhine's broad river, wandering at her will
'Mid Teuton hordes and Scythian, though by sword
Sought, yet returns not. Would that from the day
When Romulus, aided by the vulture's flight,
Ill-omened, raised within that hateful grove
Rome's earliest walls, down to the crimsoned field
In dire Thessalia fought, she ne'er had known
Italia's peoples! Did the Bruti strike
In vain for liberty? Why laws and rights
Sanctioned by all the annals designate
With consular titles? Happier far the Medes
And blest Arabia, and the Eastern lands
Held by a kindlier fate in despot rule!
That nation serves the worst which serves with shame.
No guardian gods watch over us from heaven:
Jove is no king; let ages whirl along
In blind confusion: from his throne supreme
Shall he behold such carnage and restrain
His thunderbolts? On Mimas shall he hurl
His fires, on Rhodope and Oeta's woods
Unmeriting such chastisement, and leave
This life to Cassius' hand? On Argos fell
At grim Thyestes' feast untimely night
By him thus hastened; shall Thessalia's land
Receive full daylight, wielding kindred swords
In fathers' hands and brothers'? Careless of men
Are all the gods. Yet for this day of doom
Such vengeance have we reaped as deities
May give to mortals; for these wars shall raise
Our parted Caesars to the gods; and Rome
Shall deck their effigies with thunderbolts,
And stars and rays, and in the very fanes
Swear by the shades of men.

With swift advance
They seize the space that yet delays the fates
Till short the span dividing. Then they gaze
For one short moment where may fall the spear,
What hand may deal their death, what monstrous task
Soon shall be theirs; and all in arms they see,
In reach of stroke, their brothers and their sires
With front opposing; yet to yield their ground
It pleased them not. But all the host was dumb
With horror; cold upon each loving heart,
Awe-struck, the life-blood pressed; and all men held
With arms outstretched their javelins for a time,
Poised yet unthrown. Now may th' avenging gods
Allot thee, Crastinus, not such a death
As all men else do suffer! In the tomb
May'st thou have feeling and remembrance still!
For thine the hand that first flung forth the dart,
Which stained with Roman blood Thessalia's earth.
Madman! To speed thy lance when Caesar's self
Still held his hand! Then from the clarions broke
The strident summons, and the trumpets blared
Responsive signal. Upward to the vault
The sound re-echoes where nor clouds may reach
Nor thunder penetrate; and Haemus' slopes
Reverberate to Pelion the din;
Pindus re-echoes; Oeta's lofty rocks
Groan, and Pangaean cliffs, till at their rage
Borne back from all the earth they shook for fear.

Unnumbered darts they hurl, with prayers diverse;
Some hope to wound: others, in secret, yearn
For hands still innocent. Chance rules supreme,
And wayward Fortune upon whom she wills
Makes fall the guilt. Yet for the hatred bred
By civil war suffices spear nor lance,
Urged on their flight afar: the hand must grip
The sword and drive it to the foeman's heart.
But while Pompeius' ranks, shield wedged to shield,
Were ranged in dense array, and scarce had space
To draw the blade, came rushing at the charge
Full on the central column Caesar's host,
Mad for the battle. Man nor arms could stay
The crash of onset, and the furious sword
Clove through the stubborn panoply to the flesh,
There only stayed. One army struck -- their foes
Struck not in answer; Magnus' swords were cold,
But Caesar's reeked with slaughter and with guilt.
Nor Fortune lingered, but decreed the doom
Which swept the ruins of a world away.

Soon as withdrawn from all the spacious plain,
Pompeius' horse was ranged upon the flanks;
Passed through the outer files, the lighter armed
Of all the nations joined the central strife,
With divers weapons armed, but all for blood
Of Rome athirst: then blazing torches flew,
Arrows and stones. and ponderous balls of lead
Molten by speed of passage through the air.
There Ituraean archers and the Mede
Winged forth their countless shafts till all the sky
Grew dark with missiles hurled; and from the night
Brooding above, Death struck his victims down,
Guiltless such blow, while all the crime was heaped
Upon the Roman spear. In line oblique
Behind the standards Caesar in reserve
Had placed some companies of foot, in fear
The foremost ranks might waver. These at his word,
No trumpet sounding, break upon the ranks
Of Magnus' horsemen where they rode at large
Flanking the battle. They, unshamed of fear
And careless of the fray, when first a steed
Pierced through by javelin spurned with sounding hoof
The temples of his rider, turned the rein,
And through their comrades spurring from the field
In panic, proved that not with warring Rome
Barbarians may grapple. Then arose
Immeasurable carnage: here the sword,
There stood the victim, and the victor's arm
Wearied of slaughter. Oh, that to thy plains,
Pharsalia, might suffice the crimson stream
From hosts barbarian, nor other blood
Pollute thy fountains' sources! these alone
Shall clothe thy pastures with the bones of men!
Or if thy fields must run with Roman blood
Then spare the nations who in times to come
Must be her peoples!

Now the terror spread
Through all the army, and the favouring fates
Decreed for Caesar's triumph: and the war
Ceased in the wider plain, though still ablaze
Where stood the chosen of Pompeius' force,
Upholding yet the fight. Not here allies
Begged from some distant king to wield the sword:
Here were the Roman sons, the sires of Rome,
Here the last frenzy and the last despair:
Here, Caesar, was thy crime: and here shall stay
My Muse repelled: no poesy of mine
Shall tell the horrors of the final strife,
Nor for the coming ages paint the deeds
Which civil war permits. Be all obscured
In deepest darkness! Spare the useless tear
And vain lament, and let the deeds that fell
In that last fight of Rome remain unsung.

But Caesar adding fury to the breasts
Already flaming with the rage of war,
That each might bear his portion of the guilt
Which stained the host, unflinching through the ranks
Passed at his will. He looked upon the brands,
These reddened only at the point, and those
Streaming with blood and gory, to the hilt:
He marks the hand which trembling grasped the sword,
Or held it idle, and the cheek that grew
Pale at the blow, and that which at his words
Glowed with the joy of battle: midst the dead
He treads the plain and on each gaping wound
Presses his hand to keep the life within.
Thus Caesar passed: and where his footsteps fell
As when Bellona shakes her crimson lash,
Or Mavors scourges on the Thracian mares
When shunning the dread face on Pallas' shield,
He drives his chariot, there arose a night
Dark with huge slaughter and with crime, and groans
As of a voice immense, and sound of alms
As fell the wearer, and of sword on sword
Crashed into fragments. With a ready hand
Caesar supplies the weapon and bids strike
Full at the visage; and with lance reversed
Urges the flagging ranks and stirs the fight.
Where flows the nation's blood, where beats the heart,
Knowing, he bids them spare the common herd,
But seek the senators -- thus Rome he strikes,
Thus the last hold of Freedom. In the fray,
Then fell the nobles with their mighty names
Of ancient prowess; there Metellus' sons,
Corvini, Lepidi, Torquati too,
Not once nor twice the conquerors of kings,
First of all men, Pompeius' name except,
Lay dead upon the field.

But, Brutus, where,
Where was thy sword? 'Veiled by a common helm
Unknown thou wanderest. Thy country's pride,
Hope of the Senate, thou (for none besides);
Thou latest scion of that race of pride,
Whose fearless deeds the centuries record,
Tempt not the battle, nor provoke the doom!
Awaits thee on Philippi's fated field
Thy Thessaly. Not here shalt thou prevail
'Gainst Caesar's life. Not yet hath he surpassed
The height of power and deserved a death
Noble at Brutus' hands -- then let him live,
Thy fated victim!

There upon the field
Lay all the honour of Rome; no common stream
Mixed with the purple tide. And yet of all
Who noble fell, one only now I sing,
Thee, brave Domitius. Whene'er the day
Was adverse to the fortunes of thy chief
Thine was the arm which vainly stayed the fight.
Vanquished so oft by Caesar, now 'twas thine
Yet free to perish. By a thousand wounds
Came welcome death, nor had thy conqueror power
Again to pardon. Caesar stood and saw
The dark blood welling forth and death at hand,
And thus in words of scorn: 'And dost thou lie,
Domitius, there? And did Pompeius name
Thee his successor, thee? Why leavest thou then
His standards helpless?' But the parting life
Still faintly throbbed within Domitius' breast,
Thus finding utterance: 'Yet thou hast not won
Thy hateful prize, for doubtful are the fates;
Nor thou the master, Caesar; free as yet,
With great Pompeius for my leader still,
Warring no more, I seek the silent shades,
Yet with this hope in death, that thou subdued
To Magnus and to me in grievous guise
May'st pay atonement.' So he spake: no more;
Then closed his eyes in death.

'Twere shame to shed,
When thus a world was perishing, the tear
Meet for each fate, or sing the wound that reft
Each life away. Through forehead and through throat
The pitiless weapon clove its deadly path,
Or forced the entrails forth: one fell to earth
Prone at the stroke; one stood though shorn of limb;
Glanced from this breast unharmed the quivering spear;
That it transfixed to earth. Here from the veins
Spouted the life-blood, till the foeman's arms
Were crimsoned. One his brother slew, nor dared
To spoil the corse, till severed from the neck
He flung the head afar. Another dashed
Full in his father's teeth the fatal sword,
By murderous frenzy striving to disprove
His kinship with the slain. Yet for each death
We find no separate dirge, nor weep for men
When peoples fell. Thus, Rome, thy doom was wrought
At dread Pharsalus. Not, as in other fields,
By soldiers slain, or captains; here were swept
Whole nations to the death; Assyria here,
Achaia, Pontus; and the blood of Rome
Gushing in torrents forth, forbade the rest
To stagnate on the plain. Nor life was reft,
Nor safety only then; but reeled the world
And all her manifold peoples at the blow
In that day's battle dealt; nor only then
Felt, but in all the times that were to come.
Those swords gave servitude to every age
That shall be slavish; by our sires was shaped
For us our destiny, the despot yoke.
Yet have we trembled not, nor feared to bare
Our throats to slaughter, nor to face the foe:
We bear the penalty for others' shame.
Such be our doom; yet, Fortune, sharing not
In that last battle, 'twas our right to strike
One blow for freedom ere we served our lord.

Now saw Pompeius, grieving, that the gods
Had left his side, and knew the fates of Rome
Passed from his governance; yet all the blood
That filled the field scarce brought him to confess
His fortunes fled. A little hill he sought
Whence to descry the battle raging still
Upon the plain, which when he nearer stood
The warring ranks concealed. Thence did the chief
Gaze on unnumbered swords that flashed in air
And sought his ruin; and the tide of blood
In which his host had perished. Yet not as those
Who, prostrate fallen, would drag nations down
To share their evil fate, Pompeius did.
Still were the gods thought worthy of his prayers
To give him solace, in that after him
Might live his Romans. 'Spare, ye gods,' he said,
'Nor lay whole peoples low; my fall attained,
The world and Rome may stand. And if ye need
More bloodshed, here on me, my wife, and sons
Wreak out your vengeance -- pledges to the fates
Such have we given. Too little for the war
Is our destruction? Doth the carnage fail,
The world escaping? Magnus' fortunes lost,
Why doom all else beside him?' Thus he cried,
And passed amid his standards, and recalled
His vanquished host that rushed on fate declared.
Not for his sake such carnage should be wrought.
So thought Pompeius; nor the foeman's sword
He feared, nor death; but lest upon his fall
To quit their chief his soldiers might refuse,
And o'er his prostrate corpse a world in arms
Might find its ruin: or perchance he wished
From Caesar's eager eyes to veil his death.
In vain, unhappy! for the fates decree
He shall behold, shorn from the bleeding trunk,
Again thy visage. And thou, too, his spouse,
Beloved Cornelia, didst cause his flight;
Thy longed-for features; yet he shall not die
When thou art present.

Then upon his steed,
Though fearing not the weapons at his back,
Pompeius fled, his mighty soul prepared
To meet his destinies. No groan nor tear,
But solemn grief as for the fates of Rome,
Was in his visage, and with mien unchanged
He saw Pharsalia's woes, above the frowns
Or smiles of Fortune; in triumphant days
And in his fall, her master. The burden laid
Of thine impending fate, thou partest free
To muse upon the happy days of yore.
Hope now has fled; but in the fleeting past
How wast thou great! Seek thou the wars no more,
And call the gods to witness that for thee
Henceforth dies no man. In the fights to come
On Afric's mournful shore, by Pharos' stream
And fateful Munda; in the final scene
Of dire Pharsalia's battle, not thy name
Doth stir the war and urge the foeman's arm,
But those great rivals biding with us yet,
Caesar and Liberty; and not for thee
But for itself the dying Senate fought,
When thou had'st fled the combat.

Find'st thou not
Some solace thus in parting from the fight
Nor seeing all the horrors of its close?
Look back upon the dead that load the plain,
The rivers turbid with a crimson stream;
Then pity thou thy victor. How shall he
Enter the city, who on such a field
Finds happiness? Trust thou in Fortune yet,
Her favourite ever; and whate'er, alone
In lands unknown, an exile, be thy lot,
Whate'er thy sufferings 'neath the Pharian king,
'Twere worse to conquer. Then forbid the tear,
Cease, sounds of woe, and lamentation cease,
And let the world adore thee in defeat,
As in thy triumphs. With unfaltering gaze,
Look on the suppliant kings, thy subjects still;
Search out the realms and cities which they hold,
Thy gift, Pompeius; and a fitting place
Choose for thy death.

First witness of thy fall,
And of thy noble bearing in defeat,
Larissa. Weeping, yet with gifts of price
Fit for a victor, from her teeming gates
Poured forth her citizens, their homes and fanes
Flung open; wishing it had been their lot
With thee to share disaster. Of thy name
Still much survives, unto thy former self
Alone inferior, still could'st thou to arms
All nations call and challenge fate again.
But thus he spake: 'To cities nor to men
Avails the conquered aught; then pledge your faith
To him who has the victory.' Caesar trod
Pharsalia's slaughter, while his daughter's spouse
Thus gave him kingdoms; but Pompeius fled
'Mid sobs and groans and blaming of the gods
For this their fierce commandment; and he fled
Full of the fruits and knowledge of the love
The peoples bore him, which he knew not his
In times of happiness.

When Italian blood
Flowed deep enough upon the fatal field,
Caesar bade halt, and gave their lives to those
Whose death had been no gain. But that their camp
Might not recall the foe, nor calm of night
Banish their fears, he bids his cohorts dash,
While Fortune glowed and terror filled the plain,
Straight on the ramparts of the conquered foe.
Light was the task to urge them to the spoil;
'Soldiers,' he said, 'the victory is ours,
Full and triumphant: there doth lie the prize
Which you have won, not Caesar; at your feet
Behold the booty of the hostile camp.
Snatched from Hesperian nations ruddy gold,
And all the riches of the Orient world,
Are piled within the tents. The wealth of kings
And of Pompeius here awaits its lords.
Haste, soldiers, and outstrip the flying foe;
E'en now the vanquished of Pharsalia's field
Anticipate your spoils.' No more he said,
But drave them, blind with frenzy for the gold,
To spurn the bodies of their fallen sires,
And trample chiefs in dashing on their prey.
What rampart had restrained them as they rushed
To seize the prize for wickedness and war
And learn the price of guilt? And though they found
In ponderous masses heaped for need of war
The trophies of a world, yet were their minds
Unsatisfied, that asked for all. Whate'er
Iberian mines or Tagus bring to day,
Or Arimaspians from golden sands
May gather, had they seized; still had they thought
Their guilt too cheaply sold. When pledged to them
Was the Tarpeian rock, for victory won,
And all the spoils of Rome, by Caesar's word,
Shall camps suffice them?

Then plebeian limbs
On senators' turf took rest, on kingly couch
The meanest soldier; and the murderer lay
Where yesternight his brother or his sire.
In raving dreams within their waking brains
Yet raged the battle, and the guilty hand
Still wrought its deeds of blood, and restless sought
The absent sword-hilt. Thou had'st said that groans
Issued from all the plain, that parted souls
Had breathed a life into the guilty soil,
That earthly darkness teemed with gibbering ghosts
And Stygian terrors. Victory foully won
Thus claimed its punishment. The slumbering sense
Already heard the hiss of vengeful flames
As from the depths of Acheron. One saw
Deep in the trances of the night his sire
And one his brother slain. But all the dead
In long array were visioned to the eyes
Of Caesar dreaming. Not in other guise
Orestes saw the Furies ere he fled
To purge his sin within the Scythian bounds;
Nor in more fierce convulsions raged the soul
Of Pentheus raving; nor Agave's mind
When she had known her son. Before his gaze
Flashed all the javelins which Pharsalia saw,
Or that avenging day when drew their blades
The Roman senators; and on his couch,
Infernal monsters from the depths of hell
Scourged him in slumber. Thus his guilty mind
Brought retribution. Ere his rival died
The terrors that enfold the Stygian stream
And black Avernus, and the ghostly slain
Broke on his sleep.

Yet when the golden sun
Unveiled the butchery of Pharsalia's field
He shrank not from its horror, nor withdrew
His feasting gaze. There rolled the streams in flood
With crimson carnage; there a seething heap
Rose shrouding all the plain, now in decay
Slow settling down; there numbered he the host
Of Magnus slain; and for the morn's repast
That spot he chose whence he might watch the dead,
And feast his eyes upon Emathia's field
Concealed by corpses; of the bloody sight
Insatiate, he forbad the funeral pyre,
And cast Emathia in the face of heaven.
Nor by the Punic victor was he taught,
Who at the close of Cannae's fatal fight
Laid in the earth the Roman consul dead,
To find fit burial for his fallen foes;
For these were all his countrymen, nor yet
His ire by blood appeased. Yet ask we not
For separate pyres or sepulchres apart
Wherein to lay the ashes of the fallen:
Burn in one holocaust the nations slain;
Or should it please thy soul to torture more
Thy kinsman, pile on high from Oeta's slopes
And Pindus' top the woods: thus shall he see
While fugitive on the deep the blaze that marks
Thessalia. Yet by this idle rage
Nought dost thou profit; for these corporal frames
Bearing innate from birth the certain germs
Of dissolution, whether by decay
Or fire consumed, shall fall into the lap
Of all-embracing nature. Thus if now
Thou should'st deny the pyre, still in that flame
When all shall crumble, earth and rolling seas
And stars commingled with the bones of men,
These too shall perish. Where thy soul shall go
These shall companion thee; no higher flight
In airy realms is thine, nor smoother couch
Beneath the Stygian darkness; for the dead
No fortune favours, and our Mother Earth
All that is born from her receives again,
And he whose bones no tomb or urn protects
Yet sleeps beneath the canopy of heaven.
And thou, proud conqueror, who would'st deny
The rites of burial to thousands slain,
Why flee thy field of triumph? Why desert
This reeking plain? Drink, Caesar, of the streams,
Drink if thou can'st, and should it be thy wish
Breathe the Thessalian air; but from thy grasp
The earth is ravished, and th' unburied host,
Routing their victor, hold Pharsalia's field.

Then to the ghastly harvest of the war
Came all the beasts of earth whose facile sense
Of odour tracks the bodies of the slain.
Sped from his northern home the Thracian wolf;
Bears left their dens and lions from afar
Scenting the carnage; dogs obscene and foul
Their homes deserted: all the air was full
Of gathering fowl, who in their flight had long
Pursued the armies. Cranes who yearly change
The frosts of Thracia for the banks of Nile,
This year delayed their voyage. As ne'er before
The air grew dark with vultures' hovering wings,
Innumerable, for every grove and wood
Sent forth its denizens; on every tree
Dripped from their crimsoned beaks a gory dew.
Oft on the conquerors and their impious arms
Or purple rain of blood, or mouldering flesh
Fell from the lofty heaven; or limbs of men
From weary talons dropped. Yet even so
The peoples passed not all into the maw
Of ravening beast or fowl; the inmost flesh
Scarce did they touch, nor limbs -- thus lay the dead
Scorned by the spoiler; and the Roman host
By sun and length of days, and rain from heaven,
At length was mingled with Emathia's plain.

Ill-starred Thessalia! By what hateful crime
Didst thou offend that thus on thee alone
Was laid such carnage? By what length of years
Shalt thou be cleansed from the curse of war?
When shall the harvest of thy fields arise
Free from their purple stain? And when the share
Cease to upturn the slaughtered hosts of Rome?
First shall the battle onset sound again,
Again shall flow upon thy fated earth
A crimson torrent. Thus may be o'erthrown
Our sires' memorials; those erected last,
Or those which pierced by ancient roots have spread
Through broken stones their sacred urns abroad.
Thus shall the ploughman of Haemonia gaze
On more abundant ashes, and the rake
Pass o'er more frequent bones. Wert, Thracia, thou.
Our only battlefield, no sailor's hand
Upon thy shore should make his cable fast;
No spade should turn, the husbandman should flee
Thy fields, the resting-place of Roman dead;
No lowing kine should graze, nor shepherd dare
To leave his fleecy charge to browse at will
On fields made fertile by our mouldering dust;
All bare and unexplored thy soil should lie,
As past man's footsteps, parched by cruel suns,
Or palled by snows unmelting! But, ye gods,
Give us to hate the lands which bear the guilt;
Let not all earth be cursed, though not all
Be blameless found.

'Twas thus that Munda's fight
And blood of Mutina, and Leucas' cape,
And sad Pachynus, made Philippi pure.

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Xantippe

(A Fragment)>/i>


What, have I waked again? I never thought
To see the rosy dawn, or ev'n this grey,
Dull, solemn stillness, ere the dawn has come.
The lamp burns low; low burns the lamp of life:
The still morn stays expectant, and my soul,
All weighted with a passive wonderment,
Waiteth and watcheth, waiteth for the dawn.
Come hither, maids; too soundly have ye slept
That should have watched me; nay, I would not chide--
Oft have I chidden, yet I would not chide
In this last hour;--now all should be at peace.
I have been dreaming in a troubled sleep
Of weary days I thought not to recall;
Of stormy days, whose storms are hushed long since;
Of gladsome days, of sunny days; alas!
In dreaming, all their sunshine seem'd so sad,
As though the current of the dark To-Be
Had flow'd, prophetic, through the happy hours.
And yet, full well, I know it was not thus;
I mind me sweetly of the summer days,
When, leaning from the lattice, I have caught
The fair, far glimpses of a shining sea;
And, nearer, of tall ships which thronged the bay,
And stood out blackly from a tender sky
All flecked with sulphur, azure, and bright gold;
And in the still, clear air have heard the hum
Of distant voices; and methinks there rose
No darker fount to mar or stain the joy
Which sprang ecstatic in my maiden breast
Than just those vague desires, those hopes and fears,
Those eager longings, strong, though undefined,
Whose very sadness makes them seem so sweet.
What cared I for the merry mockeries
Of other maidens sitting at the loom?
Or for sharp voices, bidding me return
To maiden labour? Were we not apart,--
I and my high thoughts, and my golden dreams,
My soul which yearned for knowledge, for a tongue
That should proclaim the stately mysteries
Of this fair world, and of the holy gods?
Then followed days of sadness, as I grew
To learn my woman-mind had gone astray,
And I was sinning in those very thoughts--
For maidens, mark, such are not woman's thoughts--
(And yet, 'tis strange, the gods who fashion us
Have given us such promptings). . . .
Fled the years,
Till seventeen had found me tall and strong,
And fairer, runs it, than Athenian maids
Are wont to seem ; I had not learnt it well--
My lesson of dumb patience--and I stood
At Life's great threshold with a beating heart,
And soul resolved to conquer and attain. . . .
Once, walking 'thwart the crowded market place,
With other maidens, bearing in the twigs
White doves for Aphrodite's sacrifice,
I saw him, all ungainly and uncouth,
Yet many gathered round to hear his words,
Tall youths and stranger-maidens--Sokrates--
I saw his face and marked it, half with awe,
Half with a quick repulsion at the shape. . . .
The richest gem lies hidden furthest down,
And is the dearer for the weary search;
We grasp the shining shells which strew the shore,
Yet swift we fling them from us; but the gem
We keep for aye and cherish. So a soul,
Found after weary searching in the flesh
Which half repelled our senses, is more dear,
For that same seeking, than the sunny mind
Which lavish Nature marks with thousand hints
Upon a brow of beauty. We are prone
To overweigh such subtle hints, then deem,
In after disappointment, we are fooled. . .
And when, at length, my father told me all,
That I should wed me with great Sokrates,
I, foolish, wept to see at once cast down
The maiden image of a future love,
Where perfect body matched the perfect soul.
But slowly, softly did I cease to weep;
Slowly I 'gan to mark the magic flash
Leap to the eyes, to watch the sudden smile
Break round the mouth, and linger in the eyes;
To listen for the voice's lightest tone--
Great voice, whose cunning modulations seemed
Like to the notes of some sweet instrument.
So did I reach and strain, until at last
I caught the soul athwart the grosser flesh.
Again of thee, sweet Hope, my spirit dreamed!
I, guided by his wisdom and his love,
Led by his words, and counselled by his care,
Should lift the shrouding veil from things which be,
And at the flowing fountain of his soul
Refresh my thirsting spirit. . .
And indeed,
In those long days which followed that strange day
When rites and song, and sacrifice and flow'rs,
Proclaimed that we were wedded, did I learn,
In sooth, a-many lessons; bitter ones
Which sorrow taught me, and not love inspired,
Which deeper knowledge of my kind impressed
With dark insistence on reluctant brain;--
But that great wisdom, deeper, which dispels
Narrowed conclusions of a half-grown mind,
And sees athwart the littleness of life
Nature's divineness and her harmony,
Was never poor Xantippe's. . .
I would pause
And would recall no more, no more of life,
Than just the incomplete, imperfect dream
Of early summers, with their light and shade,
Their blossom-hopes, whose fruit was never ripe;
But something strong within me, some sad chord
Which loudly echoes to the later life,
Me to unfold the after-misery
Urges with plaintive wailing in my heart.
Yet, maidens, mark ; I would not that ye thought
I blame my lord departed, for he meant
No evil, so I take it, to his wife.
'Twas only that the high philosopher,
Pregnant with noble theories and great thoughts,
Deigned not to stoop to touch so slight a thing
As the fine fabric of a woman's brain--
So subtle as a passionate woman's soul.
I think, if he had stooped a little, and cared,
I might have risen nearer to his height,
And not lain shattered, neither fit for use
As goodly household vessel, nor for that
Far finer thing which I had hoped to be. . .
Death, holding high his retrospective lamp,
Shows me those first, far years of wedded life,
Ere I had learnt to grasp the barren shape
Of what the Fates had destined for my life.
Then, as all youthful spirits are, was I
Wholly incredulous that Nature meant
So little, who had promised me so much.
At first I fought my fate with gentle words,
With high endeavours after greater things;
Striving to win the soul of Sokrates,
Like some slight bird, who sings her burning love
To human master, till at length she finds
Her tender language wholly misconceived,
And that same hand whose kind caress she sought,
With fingers flippant flings the careless corn. . .
I do remember how, one summer's eve,
He, seated in an arbour's leafy shade,
Had bade me bring fresh wine-skins. . .
As I stood
Ling'ring upon the threshold, half concealed
By tender foliage, and my spirit light
With draughts of sunny weather, did I mark
An instant, the gay group before mine eyes.
Deepest in shade, and facing where I stood,
Sat Plato, with his calm face and low brows
Which met above the narrow Grecian eyes,
The pale, thin lips just parted to the smile,
Which dimpled that smooth olive of his cheek.
His head a little bent, sat Sokrates,
With one swart finger raised admonishing,
And on the air were borne his changing tones.
Low lounging at his feet, one fair arm thrown
Around his knee (the other, high in air
Brandish'd a brazen amphor, which yet rained
Bright drops of ruby on the golden locks
And temples with their fillets of the vine),
Lay Alkibiades the beautiful.
And thus, with solemn tone, spake Sokrates:
' This fair Aspasia, which our Perikles
Hath brought from realms afar, and set on high
In our Athenian city, hath a mind,
I doubt not, of a strength beyond her race;
And makes employ of it, beyond the way
Of women nobly gifted : woman's frail--
Her body rarely stands the test of soul;
She grows intoxicate with knowledge; throws
The laws of custom, order, 'neath her feet,
Feasting at life's great banquet with wide throat.'
Then sudden, stepping from my leafy screen,
Holding the swelling wine-skin o'er my head,
With breast that heaved, and eyes and cheeks aflame,
Lit by a fury and a thought, I spake:
' By all great powers around us ! can it be
That we poor women are empirical?
That gods who fashioned us did strive to make
Beings too fine, too subtly delicate,
With sense that thrilled response to ev'ry touch
Of nature's and their task is not complete?
That they have sent their half-completed work
To bleed and quiver here upon the earth?
To bleed and quiver, and to weep and weep,
To beat its soul against the marble walls
Of men's cold hearts, and then at last to sin!'
I ceased, the first hot passion stayed and stemmed
And frighted by the silence: I could see,
Framed by the arbour foliage, which the sun
In setting softly gilded with rich gold,
Those upturned faces, and those placid limbs;
Saw Plato's narrow eyes and niggard mouth,
Which half did smile and half did criticise,
One hand held up, the shapely fingers framed
To gesture of entreaty--' Hush, I pray,
Do not disturb her; let us hear the rest;
Follow her mood, for here's another phase
Of your black-browed Xantippe. . .'
Then I saw
Young Alkibiades, with laughing lips
And half-shut eyes, contemptuous shrugging up
Soft, snowy shoulders, till he brought the gold
Of flowing ringlets round about his breasts.
But Sokrates, all slow and solemnly,
Raised, calm, his face to mine, and sudden spake:
' I thank thee for the wisdom which thy lips
Have thus let fall among us : prythee tell
From what high source, from what philosophies
Didst cull the sapient notion of thy words?'
Then stood I straight and silent for a breath,
Dumb, crushed with all that weight of cold contempt;
But swiftly in my bosom there uprose
A sudden flame, a merciful fury sent
To save me; with both angry hands I flung
The skin upon the marble, where it lay
Spouting red rills and fountains on the white;
Then, all unheeding faces, voices, eyes,
I fled across the threshold, hair unbound--
White garment stained to redness--beating heart
Flooded with all the flowing tide of hopes
Which once had gushed out golden, now sent back
Swift to their sources, never more to rise. . .
I think I could have borne the weary life,
The narrow life within the narrow walls,
If he had loved me; but he kept his love
For this Athenian city and her sons;
And, haply, for some stranger-woman, bold
With freedom, thought, and glib philosophy. . .
Ah me ! the long, long weeping through the nights,
The weary watching for the pale-eyed dawn
Which only brought fresh grieving : then I grew
Fiercer, and cursed from out my inmost heart
The Fates which marked me an Athenian maid.
Then faded that vain fury ; hope died out;
A huge despair was stealing on my soul,
A sort of fierce acceptance of my fate,--
He wished a household vessel--well! 'twas good,
For he should have it! He should have no more
The yearning treasure of a woman's love,
But just the baser treasure which he sought.
I called my maidens, ordered out the loom,
And spun unceasing from the morn till eve;
Watching all keenly over warp and woof,
Weighing the white wool with a jealous hand.
I spun until, methinks, I spun away
The soul from out my body, the high thoughts
From out my spirit; till at last I grew
As ye have known me,--eye exact to mark
The texture of the spinning; ear all keen
For aimless talking when the moon is up,
And ye should be a-sleeping; tongue to cut
With quick incision, 'thwart the merry words
Of idle maidens. . .
Only yesterday
My hands did cease from spinning; I have wrought
My dreary duties, patient till the last.
The gods reward me! Nay, I will not tell
The after years of sorrow; wretched strife
With grimmest foes--sad Want and Poverty;--
Nor yet the time of horror, when they bore
My husband from the threshold; nay, nor when
The subtle weed had wrought its deadly work.
Alas! alas! I was not there to soothe
The last great moment; never any thought
Of her that loved him--save at least the charge,
All earthly, that her body should not starve. . .
You weep, you weep; I would not that ye wept;
Such tears are idle; with the young, such grief
Soon grows to gratulation, as, 'her love
Was withered by misfortune; mine shall grow
All nurtured by the loving,' or, 'her life
Was wrecked and shattered--mine shall smoothly sail.'
Enough, enough. In vain, in vain, in vain!
The gods forgive me! Sorely have I sinned
In all my life. A fairer fate befall
You all that stand there. . .
Ha! the dawn has come;
I see a rosy glimmer--nay ! it grows dark;
Why stand ye so in silence? throw it wide,
The casement, quick; why tarry?--give me air--
O fling it wide, I say, and give me light!

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Prophet, Priest And King

An Angel came to shepherds at night with Good News in which to bring,
A Savior’s been born to you today, who is a Prophet, Priest and King.
The shepherds filled with great joy praised The Lord from the start,
Mary hearing them praise her boy, pondered these things in her heart.

Visiting the Temple at age twelve Christ spoke with much insistence,
And speaking to Mary would tell her Hes about His Fathers business.
For Christ was not just another man but He is Almighty God Incarnate,
He was sent into The Holy Land and revealed as Gods final Prophet.

He was spoken of by Moses as the prophet like him, who would come,
And this Prophet knows all about us for He is Gods One and Only Son.
Many men were prophets in the past and used by God as He had willed,
And Jesus, my friend, was the last, as prophecy in Him was fulfilled.

The Old Testament economy of then since that time, friend has ceased,
And Jesus is now The Way for all men, from the greatest to the least.
No longer one ordained by men, Christ is our Heavenly Eternal Priest,
He is the final Priest my friend, to bring all men Gods Eternal peace.

The Jews mocked Jesus as a king, but that is exactly what Christ is,
And Hes coming back as Eternal King, with all those He knows as His.
He is the final revelation from God no matter what this world thinks,
And Hes coming with an iron rod to reign as Lord and King of Kings.

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Why you need benevolent dictator?

Why will you need benevolent dictator?
Somebody to act on your behalf as care taker
Punish arbitrally all those who are dishonest
Still known as king maker and called honest,

What would you do when found in traps?
No food, shelter, work or water in taps,
Faced with dire consequences on the world map
No resources left and nothing more left to tap,

You may find their children in foreign land,
Great pomp and show in marriage with music band
When face problem in country, accuse foreign hand?
Promises of air castle and more huts in sand,

They have huge palaces and enough money abroad
With known trick of connivance without any load
Let national economy suffer and be in doll drums
We will not strive hard and keep always mum

I know you will not raise finger and also rise,
Living still be costly with many more surprises
Who will come forward and who will make you apprise?
Their roots are deep and you stand to loose and polarize,

They collect money freely and act as lord
Neither to keep promises nor to keep with words
Country is taken for granted and develop like den,
They promise to make cities as in Singapore or Eden,

It is not that countrymen are fool,
Watch it from distance with mind cool,
They will try to catch bull by horns,
No signals or indication will be given………

You will need a person with strong resolve
Make bold move with dedication and solve
Unite the nation with one voice
Find honour and place without nay noise

If we find such person then we may nod
All our good wishes and prayer to the God
Let country remain united and live in peace
We may breathe freedom and live at ease

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William Cowper

Repose In God

Blest! who, far from all mankind
This world's shadows left behind,
Hears from heaven a gentle strain
Whispering love, and loves again.

Blest! who, free from self–esteem,
Dives into the great Supreme.
All desire beside discards,
Joys inferior none regards.

Blest! who in thy bosom seeks
Rest that nothing earthly breaks,
Dead to self and worldly things,
Lost in thee, thou King of kings!

Ye that know my secret fire,
Softly speak and soon retire;
Favour my divine repose,
Spare the sleep a God bestows.

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The Pre-Adamite World

Who shall declare the glory of the World,
The natural World before Man's form was seen?
Fair stainless planet through the heavens hurled,
And clothed in garments of immortal green!
What depths of forest girt her! What serene
Pastures were hers for cattle numberless
Owning no lord save her, their guileless queen,
Dear Nature's self who ruled them but to bless!
If there was war in Heaven, peace reigned on Earth.
Not by disease did the world's life grow tame,
But by the hand of God, in drought or dearth
Or sudden palsy when the lion came.
Death! who should fear him or his mercy sue,
Whose last pang was the first each creature knew?

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The Bard

'Ruin seize thee, ruthless King!
Confusion on thy banners wait,
Tho' fanned by Conquest's crimson wing
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm, nor Hauberk's twisted mail,
Nor even thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
From Cambria'sÊ curse, from Cambria's tears!'
Such were the sounds, that o'er the crested pride
Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay, 10
As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy sideÊ
He wound with toilsome march his long array.
Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance:
'To arms!' cried Mortimer, and couch'd his quiv'ring lance.

I.2

On a rock, whose haughty brow
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
With haggard eyes the Poet stood;
(Loose his beard, and hoary hair
Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air) 20
And with a Master's hand, and Prophet's fire,
Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre.
'Hark, how each giant-oak, and desert cave,
Sighs to the torrent's aweful voice beneath!
O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave,
Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breath;
Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day,
To high-born Hoßl's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay

I.3

Cold is Cadwallo'sÊ tongue,
That hush'd the stormy main: 30
Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
Mountains, ye mourn in vain
Modred, whose magic song
Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-top'd head.
On dreary Arvon'sÊ shore they lie,
Smear'd with gore, and ghastly pale:
Far, far aloof th' affrighted ravens sail;
The famish'd Eagle screams, and passes by.
Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
Dear, as the light that visits these sad eyes, 40
Dear, as the ruddy drops that warm my heart,
Ye died amidst your country's cries--
No more I weep. They do not sleep.
On yonder cliffs, a griesly band,
I see them sit, they linger yet,
Avengers of their native land:
With me in dreadful harmony they join,
And weave with bloody hands, the tissue of thy line.'

II.1

'Weave the warp, and weave the woof,Ê
The winding-sheet of Edward's race. 50
Give ample room, and verge enough
The characters of hell to trace.
Mark the year, and mark the night,
When Severn shall re-eccho with affright
The shrieks of death, thro' Berkley's roofs that ring,
Shrieks of an agonizing King
She-Wolf of France,Ê with unrelenting fangs,
That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled Mate,
From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs
The scourge of Heav'n.Ê What Terrors round him wait! 60
Amazement in his van, with Flight combined,
And Sorrow's faded form, and Solitude behind.

II.2

Mighty Victor, mighty Lord,
Low on his funeral couch he lies!
No pitying heart, no eye, afford
A tear to grace his obsequies.
Is the sable Warriour fled
Thy son is gone. He rests among the Dead.
The Swarm, that in thy noon-tide beam were born?
Gone to salute the rising Morn. 70
Fair laughs the Morn, and soft the Zephyr blows
While proudly riding o'er the azure realm
In gallant trim the gilded Vessel goes;
Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm;
Regardless of the sweeping Whirlwind's sway,
That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening-prey.

II.3

Fill high the sparkling bowl,
The rich repast prepare,
Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast:
Close by the regal chair 80
Fell Thirst and Famine scowl
A baleful smile upon their baffled Guest.
Heard ye the din of battle bray,
Lance to lance, and horse to horse?
Long Years of havock urge their destined course,
And thro' the kindred squadrons mow their way.
Ye Towers of Julius, London's lasting shame
With many a foul and midnight murther fed,
Revere his Consort's faith, his Father's fame,
And spare the meek Usurper's holy head.Ê 90
Above, below, the rose of snow,
Twined with her blushing foewe spread:
The bristled Boar in infant-gore
Wallows beneath the thorny shade
Now, Brothers, bending o'er th' accursed loom
Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom.

III.1

Edward, lo! to sudden fate
(Weave the woof. The thread is spun)
Half of thy heart we consecrate.Ê
(The web is wove. The work is done.)' 100
'Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlornÊ
Leave me unbless'd, unpitied, here to mourn:
In yon bright track, that fires the western skies,
They melt, they vanish from my eyes.
But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowden's height
Descending slow their glitt'ring skirts unroll?
Visions of glory, spare my aching sight,
Ye unborn Ages, crowd not on my soul!
No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail.
All-hail, ye genuine Kings, Brittania's Issue, hail!Ê 110

III.2

Girt with many a Baron bold
Sublime their starry frontsÊ they rear;
And gorgeous Dames, and Statesmen old
In bearded majesty, appear.
In the midst a Form divine
Her eye proclaims her of the Briton-Line;
Her lyon-port, her awe-commanding face,
Attemper'd sweet to virgin-grace.
What strings symphonious tremble in the air,
What strains of vocal transport round her play! 120
Hear from the grave, great Taliessin,Ê hear;
They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
Bright Rapture calls, and soaring, as she sings,
Waves in the eye of Heav'n her many-colour'd wings.

III.3

The verse adorn again
Fierce War, and faithful Love
And Truth severe, by fairy Fiction drest.
In buskin'd measures move
Pale Grief, and pleasing Pain,
With Horrour, Tyrant of the throbbing breast.Ê 130
A Voice, as of the Cherub-Choir,
Gales from blooming Eden bear
And distant warblings lessen on my ear,
That lost in long futurity expire.
Fond impious Man, think'st thou, yon sanguine cloud,
Rais'd by thy breath, has quench'd the Orb of day?
To-morrow he repairs the golden flood,
And warms the nations with redoubled ray.
Enough for me: With joy I see
The different doom our Fates assign. 140
Be thine Despair, and scept'red Care,
To triumph, and to die, are mine.'
He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height
Deep in the roaring tide he plung'd to endless night.

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John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 07

Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing!
The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwellest; but, heavenly-born,
Before the hills appeared, or fountain flowed,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy tempering: with like safety guided down
Return me to my native element:
Lest from this flying steed unreined, (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,)
Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,
Erroneous there to wander, and forlorn.
Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged
To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,
On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues;
In darkness, and with dangers compassed round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visitest my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drowned
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son. So fail not thou, who thee implores:
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael,
The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarned
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, by what befel in Heaven
To those apostates; lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obeyed amid the choice
Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wandering. He, with his consorted Eve,
The story heard attentive, and was filled
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange; things, to their thought
So unimaginable, as hate in Heaven,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss,
With such confusion: but the evil, soon
Driven back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung; impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repealed
The doubts that in his heart arose: and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
Of Heaven and Earth conspicuous first began;
When, and whereof created; for what cause;
What within Eden, or without, was done
Before his memory; as one whose drouth
Yet scarce allayed still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest.
Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,
Far differing from this world, thou hast revealed,
Divine interpreter! by favour sent
Down from the empyrean, to forewarn
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach;
For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive, with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovran will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsafed
Gently, for our instruction, to impart
Things above earthly thought, which yet concerned
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seemed,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known,
How first began this Heaven which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorned
Innumerable; and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfused
Embracing round this floried Earth; what cause
Moved the Creator, in his holy rest
Through all eternity, so late to build
In Chaos; and the work begun, how soon
Absolved; if unforbid thou mayest unfold
What we, not to explore the secrets ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run
Much of his race though steep; suspense in Heaven,
Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears,
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of Nature from the unapparent Deep:
Or if the star of evening and the moon
Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring,
Silence; and Sleep, listening to thee, will watch;
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.
Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought:
And thus the Godlike Angel answered mild.
This also thy request, with caution asked,
Obtain; though to recount almighty works
What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,
Or heart of man suffice to comprehend?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve
To glorify the Maker, and infer
Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing; such commission from above
I have received, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain
To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not revealed, which the invisible King,
Only Omniscient, hath suppressed in night;
To none communicable in Earth or Heaven:
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.
Know then, that, after Lucifer from Heaven
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of Angels, than that star the stars among,)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son returned
Victorious with his Saints, the Omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.
At least our envious Foe hath failed, who thought
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,
He trusted to have seised, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no more:
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms
Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due, and solemn rites:
But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven,
My damage fondly deemed, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost; and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here; till, by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried;
And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Mean while inhabit lax, ye Powers of Heaven;
And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform; speak thou, and be it done!
My overshadowing Spirit and Might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the Deep
Within appointed bounds be Heaven and Earth;
Boundless the Deep, because I Am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I, uncircumscribed myself, retire,
And put not forth my goodness, which is free
To act or not, Necessity and Chance
Approach not me, and what I will is Fate.
So spake the Almighty, and to what he spake
His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect.
Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
Than time or motion, but to human ears
Cannot without process of speech be told,
So told as earthly notion can receive.
Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven,
When such was heard declared the Almighty's will;
Glory they sung to the Most High, good will
To future men, and in their dwellings peace;
Glory to Him, whose just avenging ire
Had driven out the ungodly from his sight
And the habitations of the just; to Him
Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordained
Good out of evil to create; instead
Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring
Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse
His good to worlds and ages infinite.
So sang the Hierarchies: Mean while the Son
On his great expedition now appeared,
Girt with Omnipotence, with radiance crowned
Of Majesty Divine; sapience and love
Immense, and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberless were poured
Cherub, and Seraph, Potentates, and Thrones,
And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots winged
From the armoury of God; where stand of old
Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged
Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived,
Attendant on their Lord: Heaven opened wide
Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in his powerful Word
And Spirit, coming to create new worlds.
On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shore
They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turned by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains, to assault
Heaven's highth, and with the center mix the pole.
Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, peace,
Said then the Omnifick Word; your discord end!
Nor staid; but, on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode
Far into Chaos, and the world unborn;
For Chaos heard his voice: Him all his train
Followed in bright procession, to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then staid the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things:
One foot he centered, and the other turned
Round through the vast profundity obscure;
And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just circumference, O World!
Thus God the Heaven created, thus the Earth,
Matter unformed and void: Darkness profound
Covered the abyss: but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth
Throughout the fluid mass; but downward purged
The black tartareous cold infernal dregs,
Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed
Like things to like; the rest to several place
Disparted, and between spun out the air;
And Earth self-balanced on her center hung.
Let there be light, said God; and forthwith Light
Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,
Sprung from the deep; and from her native east
To journey through the aery gloom began,
Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun
Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojourned the while. God saw the light was good;
And light from darkness by the hemisphere
Divided: light the Day, and darkness Night,
He named. Thus was the first day even and morn:
Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial quires, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld;
Birth-day of Heaven and Earth; with joy and shout
The hollow universal orb they filled,
And touched their golden harps, and hymning praised
God and his works; Creator him they sung,
Both when first evening was, and when first morn.
Again, God said, Let there be firmament
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters; and God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffused
In circuit to the uttermost convex
Of this great round; partition firm and sure,
The waters underneath from those above
Dividing: for as earth, so he the world
Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide
Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule
Of Chaos far removed; lest fierce extremes
Contiguous might distemper the whole frame:
And Heaven he named the Firmament: So even
And morning chorus sung the second day.
The Earth was formed, but in the womb as yet
Of waters, embryon immature involved,
Appeared not: over all the face of Earth
Main ocean flowed, not idle; but, with warm
Prolifick humour softening all her globe,
Fermented the great mother to conceive,
Satiate with genial moisture; when God said,
Be gathered now ye waters under Heaven
Into one place, and let dry land appear.
Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave
Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky:
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters: Thither they
Hasted with glad precipitance, uprolled,
As drops on dust conglobing from the dry:
Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,
For haste; such flight the great command impressed
On the swift floods: As armies at the call
Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard)
Troop to their standard; so the watery throng,
Wave rolling after wave, where way they found,
If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain,
Soft-ebbing; nor withstood them rock or hill;
But they, or under ground, or circuit wide
With serpent errour wandering, found their way,
And on the washy oose deep channels wore;
Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry,
All but within those banks, where rivers now
Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.
The dry land, Earth; and the great receptacle
Of congregated waters, he called Seas:
And saw that it was good; and said, Let the Earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed,
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the Earth.
He scarce had said, when the bare Earth, till then
Desart and bare, unsightly, unadorned,
Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad
Her universal face with pleasant green;
Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flowered
Opening their various colours, and made gay
Her bosom, smelling sweet: and, these scarce blown,
Forth flourished thick the clustering vine, forth crept
The swelling gourd, up stood the corny reed
Embattled in her field, and the humble shrub,
And bush with frizzled hair implicit: Last
Rose, as in dance, the stately trees, and spread
Their branches hung with copious fruit, or gemmed
Their blossoms: With high woods the hills were crowned;
With tufts the valleys, and each fountain side;
With borders long the rivers: that Earth now
Seemed like to Heaven, a seat where Gods might dwell,
Or wander with delight, and love to haunt
Her sacred shades: though God had yet not rained
Upon the Earth, and man to till the ground
None was; but from the Earth a dewy mist
Went up, and watered all the ground, and each
Plant of the field; which, ere it was in the Earth,
God made, and every herb, before it grew
On the green stem: God saw that it was good:
So even and morn recorded the third day.
Again the Almighty spake, Let there be lights
High in the expanse of Heaven, to divide
The day from night; and let them be for signs,
For seasons, and for days, and circling years;
And let them be for lights, as I ordain
Their office in the firmament of Heaven,
To give light on the Earth; and it was so.
And God made two great lights, great for their use
To Man, the greater to have rule by day,
The less by night, altern; and made the stars,
And set them in the firmament of Heaven
To illuminate the Earth, and rule the day
In their vicissitude, and rule the night,
And light from darkness to divide. God saw,
Surveying his great work, that it was good:
For of celestial bodies first the sun
A mighty sphere he framed, unlightsome first,
Though of ethereal mould: then formed the moon
Globose, and every magnitude of stars,
And sowed with stars the Heaven, thick as a field:
Of light by far the greater part he took,
Transplanted from her cloudy shrine, and placed
In the sun's orb, made porous to receive
And drink the liquid light; firm to retain
Her gathered beams, great palace now of light.
Hither, as to their fountain, other stars
Repairing, in their golden urns draw light,
And hence the morning-planet gilds her horns;
By tincture or reflection they augment
Their small peculiar, though from human sight
So far remote, with diminution seen,
First in his east the glorious lamp was seen,
Regent of day, and all the horizon round
Invested with bright rays, jocund to run
His longitude through Heaven's high road; the gray
Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced,
Shedding sweet influence: Less bright the moon,
But opposite in levelled west was set,
His mirrour, with full face borrowing her light
From him; for other light she needed none
In that aspect, and still that distance keeps
Till night; then in the east her turn she shines,
Revolved on Heaven's great axle, and her reign
With thousand lesser lights dividual holds,
With thousand thousand stars, that then appeared
Spangling the hemisphere: Then first adorned
With their bright luminaries that set and rose,
Glad evening and glad morn crowned the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters generate
Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul:
And let fowl fly above the Earth, with wings
Displayed on the open firmament of Heaven.
And God created the great whales, and each
Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously
The waters generated by their kinds;
And every bird of wing after his kind;
And saw that it was good, and blessed them, saying.
Be fruitful, multiply, and in the seas,
And lakes, and running streams, the waters fill;
And let the fowl be multiplied, on the Earth.
Forthwith the sounds and seas, each creek and bay,
With fry innumerable swarm, and shoals
Of fish that with their fins, and shining scales,
Glide under the green wave, in sculls that oft
Bank the mid sea: part single, or with mate,
Graze the sea-weed their pasture, and through groves
Of coral stray; or, sporting with quick glance,
Show to the sun their waved coats dropt with gold;
Or, in their pearly shells at ease, attend
Moist nutriment; or under rocks their food
In jointed armour watch: on smooth the seal
And bended dolphins play: part huge of bulk
Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait,
Tempest the ocean: there leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, on the deep
Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims,
And seems a moving land; and at his gills
Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out, a sea.
Mean while the tepid caves, and fens, and shores,
Their brood as numerous hatch, from the egg that soon
Bursting with kindly rupture forth disclosed
Their callow young; but feathered soon and fledge
They summed their pens; and, soaring the air sublime,
With clang despised the ground, under a cloud
In prospect; there the eagle and the stork
On cliffs and cedar tops their eyries build:
Part loosely wing the region, part more wise
In common, ranged in figure, wedge their way,
Intelligent of seasons, and set forth
Their aery caravan, high over seas
Flying, and over lands, with mutual wing
Easing their flight; so steers the prudent crane
Her annual voyage, borne on winds; the air
Floats as they pass, fanned with unnumbered plumes:
From branch to branch the smaller birds with song
Solaced the woods, and spread their painted wings
Till even; nor then the solemn nightingale
Ceased warbling, but all night tun'd her soft lays:
Others, on silver lakes and rivers, bathed
Their downy breast; the swan with arched neck,
Between her white wings mantling proudly, rows
Her state with oary feet; yet oft they quit
The dank, and, rising on stiff pennons, tower
The mid aereal sky: Others on ground
Walked firm; the crested cock whose clarion sounds
The silent hours, and the other whose gay train
Adorns him, coloured with the florid hue
Of rainbows and starry eyes. The waters thus
With fish replenished, and the air with fowl,
Evening and morn solemnized the fifth day.
The sixth, and of creation last, arose
With evening harps and matin; when God said,
Let the Earth bring forth soul living in her kind,
Cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the Earth,
Each in their kind. The Earth obeyed, and straight
Opening her fertile womb teemed at a birth
Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms,
Limbed and full grown: Out of the ground up rose,
As from his lair, the wild beast where he wons
In forest wild, in thicket, brake, or den;
Among the trees in pairs they rose, they walked:
The cattle in the fields and meadows green:
Those rare and solitary, these in flocks
Pasturing at once, and in broad herds upsprung.
The grassy clods now calved; now half appeared
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds,
And rampant shakes his brinded mane; the ounce,
The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole
Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw
In hillocks: The swift stag from under ground
Bore up his branching head: Scarce from his mould
Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved
His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,
As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land
The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground,
Insect or worm: those waved their limber fans
For wings, and smallest lineaments exact
In all the liveries decked of summer's pride
With spots of gold and purple, azure and green:
These, as a line, their long dimension drew,
Streaking the ground with sinuous trace; not all
Minims of nature; some of serpent-kind,
Wonderous in length and corpulence, involved
Their snaky folds, and added wings. First crept
The parsimonious emmet, provident
Of future; in small room large heart enclosed;
Pattern of just equality perhaps
Hereafter, joined in her popular tribes
Of commonalty: Swarming next appeared
The female bee, that feeds her husband drone
Deliciously, and builds her waxen cells
With honey stored: The rest are numberless,
And thou their natures knowest, and gavest them names,
Needless to thee repeated; nor unknown
The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field,
Of huge extent sometimes, with brazen eyes
And hairy mane terrifick, though to thee
Not noxious, but obedient at thy call.
Now Heaven in all her glory shone, and rolled
Her motions, as the great first Mover's hand
First wheeled their course: Earth in her rich attire
Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth,
By fowl, fish, beast, was flown, was swum, was walked,
Frequent; and of the sixth day yet remained:
There wanted yet the master-work, the end
Of all yet done; a creature, who, not prone
And brute as other creatures, but endued
With sanctity of reason, might erect
His stature, and upright with front serene
Govern the rest, self-knowing; and from thence
Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven,
But grateful to acknowledge whence his good
Descends, thither with heart, and voice, and eyes
Directed in devotion, to adore
And worship God Supreme, who made him chief
Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent
Eternal Father (for where is not he
Present?) thus to his Son audibly spake.
Let us make now Man in our image, Man
In our similitude, and let them rule
Over the fish and fowl of sea and air,
Beast of the field, and over all the Earth,
And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.
This said, he formed thee, Adam, thee, O Man,
Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breathed
The breath of life; in his own image he
Created thee, in the image of God
Express; and thou becamest a living soul.
Male he created thee; but thy consort
Female, for race; then blessed mankind, and said,
Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the Earth;
Subdue it, and throughout dominion hold
Over fish of the sea, and fowl of the air,
And every living thing that moves on the Earth.
Wherever thus created, for no place
Is yet distinct by name, thence, as thou knowest,
He brought thee into this delicious grove,
This garden, planted with the trees of God,
Delectable both to behold and taste;
And freely all their pleasant fruit for food
Gave thee; all sorts are here that all the Earth yields,
Variety without end; but of the tree,
Which, tasted, works knowledge of good and evil,
Thou mayest not; in the day thou eatest, thou diest;
Death is the penalty imposed; beware,
And govern well thy appetite; lest Sin
Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death.
Here finished he, and all that he had made
Viewed, and behold all was entirely good;
So even and morn accomplished the sixth day:
Yet not till the Creator from his work
Desisting, though unwearied, up returned,
Up to the Heaven of Heavens, his high abode;
Thence to behold this new created world,
The addition of his empire, how it showed
In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,
Answering his great idea. Up he rode
Followed with acclamation, and the sound
Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned
Angelick harmonies: The earth, the air
Resounded, (thou rememberest, for thou heardst,)
The heavens and all the constellations rung,
The planets in their station listening stood,
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates! they sung,
Open, ye Heavens! your living doors;let in
The great Creator from his work returned
Magnificent, his six days work, a World;
Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign
To visit oft the dwellings of just men,
Delighted; and with frequent intercourse
Thither will send his winged messengers
On errands of supernal grace. So sung
The glorious train ascending: He through Heaven,
That opened wide her blazing portals, led
To God's eternal house direct the way;
A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold
And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear,
Seen in the galaxy, that milky way,
Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest
Powdered with stars. And now on Earth the seventh
Evening arose in Eden, for the sun
Was set, and twilight from the east came on,
Forerunning night; when at the holy mount
Of Heaven's high-seated top, the imperial throne
Of Godhead, fixed for ever firm and sure,
The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down
With his great Father; for he also went
Invisible, yet staid, (such privilege
Hath Omnipresence) and the work ordained,
Author and End of all things; and, from work
Now resting, blessed and hallowed the seventh day,
As resting on that day from all his work,
But not in silence holy kept: the harp
Had work and rested not; the solemn pipe,
And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop,
All sounds on fret by string or golden wire,
Tempered soft tunings, intermixed with voice
Choral or unison: of incense clouds,
Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount.
Creation and the six days acts they sung:
Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite
Thy power! what thought can measure thee, or tongue
Relate thee! Greater now in thy return
Than from the giant Angels: Thee that day
Thy thunders magnified; but to create
Is greater than created to destroy.
Who can impair thee, Mighty King, or bound
Thy empire! Easily the proud attempt
Of Spirits apostate, and their counsels vain,
Thou hast repelled; while impiously they thought
Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw
The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks
To lessen thee, against his purpose serves
To manifest the more thy might: his evil
Thou usest, and from thence createst more good.
Witness this new-made world, another Heaven
From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view
On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with stars
Numerous, and every star perhaps a world
Of destined habitation; but thou knowest
Their seasons: among these the seat of Men,
Earth, with her nether ocean circumfused,
Their pleasant dwelling-place. Thrice happy Men,
And sons of Men, whom God hath thus advanced!
Created in his image, there to dwell
And worship him; and in reward to rule
Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,
And multiply a race of worshippers
Holy and just: Thrice happy, if they know
Their happiness, and persevere upright!
So sung they, and the empyrean rung
With halleluiahs: Thus was sabbath kept.
And thy request think now fulfilled, that asked
How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning; that posterity,
Informed by thee, might know: If else thou seekest
Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.

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Cyder: Book II

O Harcourt, Whom th' ingenuous Love of Arts
Has carry'd from Thy native Soil, beyond
Th' eternal Alpine Snows, and now detains
In Italy's waste Realms, how long must we
Lament Thy Absence? Whilst in sweet Sojourn
Thou view'st the Reliques of old Rome; or what,
Unrival'd Authors by their Presence, made
For ever venerable, rural Seats,
Tibur, and Tusculum, or Virgil's Urn
Green with immortal Bays, which haply Thou,
Respecting his great Name, dost now approach
With bended Knee, and strow with purple Flow'rs;
Unmindful of Thy Friends, that ill can brook
This long Delay. At length, Dear Youth, return,
Of Wit, and Judgement ripe in blooming Years,
And Britain's Isle with Latian Knowledge grace.
Return, and let Thy Father's Worth excite
Thirst of Preeminence; see! how the Cause
Of Widows, and of Orphans He asserts
With winning Rhetoric, and well argu'd Law!
Mark well His Footsteps, and, like Him, deserve
Thy Prince's Favour, and Thy Country's Love.

Mean while (altho' the Massic Grape delights
Pregnant of racy Juice, and Formian Hills
Temper Thy Cups, yet) wilt not Thou reject
Thy native Liquors: Lo! for Thee my Mill
Now grinds choice Apples, and the British Vats
O'erflow with generous Cyder; far remote
Accept this Labour, nor despise the Muse,
That, passing Lands, and Seas, on Thee attends.

Thus far of Trees: The pleasing Task remains,
To sing of Wines, and Autumn's blest Increase.
Th' Effects of Art are shewn, yet what avails
'Gainst Heav'n? Oft, notwithstanding all thy Care
To help thy Plants, when the small Fruit'ry seems
Exempt from Ills, an oriental Blast
Disastrous flies, soon as the Hind, fatigu'd,
Unyokes his Team; the tender Freight, unskill'd
To bear the hot Disease, distemper'd pines
In the Year's Prime, the deadly Plague annoys
The wide Inclosure; think not vainly now
To treat thy Neighbours with mellifluous Cups,
Thus disappointed: If the former Years
Exhibit no Supplies, alas! thou must,
With tastless Water wash thy droughty Throat.

A thousand Accidents the Farmer's Hopes
Subvert, or checque; uncertain all his Toil,
'Till lusty Autumn's luke-warm Days, allay'd
With gentle Colds, insensibly confirm
His ripening Labours: Autumn to the Fruits
Earth's various Lap produces, Vigour gives
Equal, intenerating milky Grain,
Berries, and Sky-dy'd Plums, and what in Coat
Rough, or soft Rind, or bearded Husk, or Shell;
Fat Olives, and Pistacio's fragrant Nut,
And the Pine's tastful Apple: Autumn paints
Ausonian Hills with Grapes, whilst English Plains
Blush with pomaceous Harvests, breathing Sweets.
O let me now, when the kind early Dew
Unlocks th' embosom'd Odors, walk among
The well rang'd Files of Trees, whose full-ag'd Store
Diffuse Ambrosial Steams, than Myrrh, or Nard
More grateful, or perfuming flow'ry Beane!
Soft whisp'ring Airs, and the Larks mattin Song
Then woo to musing, and becalm the Mind
Perplex'd with irksome Thoughts. Thrice happy time,
Best Portion of the various Year, in which
Nature rejoyceth, smiling on her Works
Lovely, to full Perfection wrought! but ah,
Short are our Joys, and neighb'ring Griefs disturb
Our pleasant Hours. Inclement Winter dwells
Contiguous; forthwith frosty Blasts deface
The blithsome Year: Trees of their shrivel'd Fruits
Are widow'd, dreery Storms o'er all prevail.
Now, now's the time; e'er hasty Suns forbid
To work, disburthen thou thy sapless Wood
Of its rich Progeny; the turgid Fruit
Abounds with mellow Liquor; now exhort
Thy Hinds to exercise the pointed Steel
On the hard Rock, and give a wheely Form
To the expected Grinder: Now prepare
Materials for thy Mill, a sturdy Post
Cylindric, to support the Grinder's Weight
Excessive, and a flexile Sallow' entrench'd,
Rounding, capacious of the juicy Hord.
Nor must thou not be mindful of thy Press
Long e'er the Vintage; but with timely Care
Shave the Goat's shaggy Beard, least thou too late,
In vain should'st seek a Strainer, to dispart
The husky, terrene Dregs, from purer Must.
Be cautious next a proper Steed to find,
Whose Prime is past; the vigorous Horse disdains
Such servile Labours, or, if forc'd, forgets
His past Atchievements, and victorious Palms.
Blind Bayard rather, worn with Work, and Years,
Shall roll th' unweildy Stone; with sober Pace
He'll tread the circling Path 'till dewy Eve,
From early Day-spring, pleas'd to find his Age
Declining, not unuseful to his Lord.

Some, when the Press, by utmost Vigour screw'd,
Has drain'd the pulpous Mass, regale their Swine
With the dry Refuse; thou, more wise shalt steep
Thy Husks in Water, and again employ
The pondrous Engine. Water will imbibe
The small Remains of Spirit, and acquire
A vinous Flavour; this the Peasants blith
Will quaff, and whistle, as thy tinkling Team
They drive, and sing of Fusca's radiant Eyes,
Pleas'd with the medly Draught. Not shalt thou now
Reject the Apple-Cheese, tho' quite exhaust;
Ev'n now 'twill cherish, and improve the Roots
Of sickly Plants; new Vigor hence convey'd
Will yield an Harvest of unusual Growth.
Such Profit springs from Husks discreetly us'd!

The tender Apples, from their Parents rent
By stormy Shocks, must not neglected lye,
The Prey of Worms: A frugal Man I knew,
Rich in one barren Acre, which, subdu'd
By endless Culture, with sufficient Must
His Casks replenisht yearly: He no more
Desir'd, nor wanted, diligent to learn
The various Seasons, and by Skill repell
Invading Pests, successful in his Cares,
'Till the damp Lybian Wind, with Tempests arm'd
Outrageous, bluster'd horrible amidst
His Cyder-Grove: O'er-turn'd by furious Blasts,
The sightly Ranks fall prostrate, and around
Their Fruitage scatter'd, from the genial Boughs
Stript immature: Yet did he not repine,
Nor curse his Stars; but prudent, his fall'n Heaps
Collecting, cherish'd with the tepid Wreaths
Of tedded Grass, and the Sun's mellowing Beams
Rival'd with artful Heats, and thence procur'd
A costly Liquor, by improving Time
Equal'd with what the happiest Vintage bears.

But this I warn Thee, and shall alway warn,
No heterogeneous Mixtures use, as some
With watry Turneps have debas'd their Wines,
Too frugal; nor let the crude Humors dance
In heated Brass, steaming with Fire intense;
Altho' Devonia much commends the Use
Of strengthning Vulcan; with their native Strength
Thy Wines sufficient, other Aid refuse;
And, when th' allotted Orb of Time's compleat,
Are more commended than the labour'd Drinks.

Nor let thy Avarice tempt thee to withdraw
The Priest's appointed Share; with cheerful Heart
The tenth of thy Increase bestow, and own
Heav'n's bounteous Goodness, that will sure repay
Thy grateful Duty: This neglected, fear
Signal Avengeance, such as over-took
A Miser, that unjustly once with-held
The Clergy's Due; relying on himself,
His Fields he tended with successless Care,
Early, and late, when, or unwish't for Rain
Descended, or unseasonable Frosts
Curb'd his increasing Hopes, or when around
The Clouds dropt Fatness, in the middle Sky
The Dew suspended staid, and left unmoist
His execrable Glebe; recording this,
Be Just, and Wise, and tremble to transgress.

Learn now, the Promise of the coming Year
To know, that by no flattering Signs abus'd,
Thou wisely may'st provide: The various Moon
Prophetic, and attendant Stars explain
Each rising Dawn; e'er Icy Crusts surmount
The current Stream, the heav'nly Orbs serene
Twinkle with trembling Rays, and Cynthia glows
With Light unsully'd: Now the Fowler, warn'd
By these good Omens, with swift early Steps
Treads the crimp Earth, ranging thro' Fields and Glades
Offensive to the Birds, sulphureous Death
Checques their mid Flight, and heedless while they strain
Their tuneful Throats, the tow'ring, heavy Lead
O'er-takes their Speed; they leave their little Lives
Above the Clouds, præcipitant to Earth.

The Woodcocks early Visit, and Abode
Of long Continuance on our temperate Clime,
Foretell a liberal Harvest: He of Times
Intelligent, th' harsh Hyperborean Ice
Shuns for our equal Winters; when our Suns
Cleave the chill'd Soil, he backward wings his Way
To Scandinavian frozen Summers, meet
For his num'd Blood. But nothing profits more
Than frequent Snows: O, may'st Thou often see
Thy Furrows whiten'd by the woolly Rain,
Nutricious! Secret Nitre lurks within
The porous Wet, quick'ning the languid Glebe.

Sometimes thou shalt with fervent Vows implore
A moderate Wind; the Orchat loves to wave
With Winter-Winds, before the Gems exert
Their feeble Heads; the loosen'd Roots then drink
Large Increment, Earnest of happy Years.

Nor will it nothing profit to observe
The monthly Stars, their pow'rful Influence
O'er planted Fields, what Vegetables reign
Under each Sign. On our Account has Jove
Indulgent, to all Moons some succulent Plant
Allotted, that poor, helpless Man might slack
His present Thirst, and Matter find for Toil.
Now will the Corinths, now the Rasps supply
Delicious Draughts; the Quinces now, or Plums,
Or Cherries, or the fair Thisbeian Fruit
Are prest to Wines; the Britons squeeze the Works
Of sedulous Bees, and mixing od'rous Herbs
Prepare balsamic Cups, to wheezing Lungs
Medicinal, and short-breath'd, ancient Sires.

But, if Thou' rt indefatigably bent
To toil, and omnifarious Drinks wou'dst brew;
Besides the Orchat, ev'ry Hedge, and Bush
Affords Assistance; ev'n afflictive Birch,
Curs'd by unletter'd, idle Youth, distills
A limpid Current from her wounded Bark,
Profuse of nursing Sap. When Solar Beams
Parch thirsty human Veins, the damask't Meads,
Unforc'd display ten thousand painted Flow'rs
Useful in Potables. Thy little Sons
Permit to range the Pastures; gladly they
Will mow the Cowslip-Posies, faintly sweet,
From whence thou artificial Wines shalt drain
Of icy Taste, that, in mid Fervors, best
Slack craving Thirst, and mitigate the Day.

Happy Iërne, whose most wholsome Air
Poisons envenom'd Spiders, and forbids
The baleful Toad, and Viper from her Shore!
More happy in her Balmy Draughts, (enrich'd
With Miscellaneous Spices, and the Root
For Thirst-abating Sweetness prais'd,) which wide
Extend her Fame, and to each drooping Heart
Present Redress, and lively Health convey.

See, how the Belgæ, Sedulous, and Stout,
With Bowls of fat'ning Mum, or blissful Cups
Of Kernell-relish'd Fluids, the fair Star
Of early Phosphorus salute, at Noon
Jocund with frequent-rising Fumes! by Use
Instructed, thus to quell their Native Flegm
Prevailing, and engender wayward Mirth.

What need to treat of distant Climes, remov'd
Far from the slopeing Journey of the Year,
Beyond Petsora, and Islandic Coasts?
Where ever-during Snows, perpetual Shades
Of Darkness, would congeal their livid Blood,
Did not the Arctic Tract, spontaneous yield
A cheering purple Berry, big with Wine,
Intensely fervent, which each Hour they crave,
Spread round a flaming Pile of Pines, and oft
They interlard their native Drinks with choice
Of strongest Brandy, yet scarce with these Aids
Enabl'd to prevent the suddain Rot
Of freezing Nose, and quick-decaying Feet.

Nor less the Sable Borderers of Nile,
Nor who Taprobane manure, nor They,
Whom sunny Borneo bears, are stor'd with Streams
Egregious, Rum, and Rice's Spirit extract.
For here, expos'd to perpendicular Rays,
In vain they covet Shades, and Thrascias' Gales,
Pining with Æquinoctial Heat, unless
The Cordial Glass perpetual Motion keep,
Quick circuiting; nor dare they close their Eyes,
Void of a bulky Charger near their Lips,
With which, in often-interrupted Sleep,
Their frying Blood compells to irrigate
Their dry-furr'd Tongues, else minutely to Death
Obnoxious, dismal Death, th' Effect of Drought!

More happy they, born in Columbus' World,
Carybbes, and they, whom the Cotton Plant
With downy-sprouting Vests arrays! Their Woods
Bow with prodigious Nuts, that give at once
Celestial Food, and Nectar; then, at hand
The Lemmon, uncorrupt with Voyage long,
To vinous Spirits added (heav'nly Drink!)
They with Pneumatic Engine, ceaseless draw,
Intent on Laughter; a continual Tide
Flows from th' exhilerating Fount. As, when
Against a secret Cliff, with soddain Shock
A Ship is dash'd, and leaking drinks the Sea,
Th' astonish'd Mariners ay ply the Pump,
No Stay, nor Rest, 'till the wide Breach is clos'd.
So they (but chearful) unfatigu'd, still move
The draining Sucker, then alone concern'd,
When the dry Bowl forbids their pleasing Work.

But if to hording Thou art bent, thy Hopes
Are frustrate, shou'dst Thou think thy Pipes will flow
With early-limpid Wine. The horded Store,
And the harsh Draught, must twice endure the Sun's
Kind strengthning Heat, twice Winter's purging Cold.

There are, that a compounded Fluid drain
From different Mixtures, Woodcock, Pippin, Moyle,
Rough Eliot, sweet Permain, the blended Streams
(Each mutually correcting each) create
A pleasurable Medly, of what Taste
Hardly distinguish'd; as the show'ry Arch,
With listed Colours gay, Or, Azure, Gules,
Delights, and puzles the Beholder's Eye,
That views the watry Brede, with thousand Shews
Of Painture vary'd, yet's unskill'd to tell
Or where one Colour rises, or one faints.

Some Cyders have by Art, or Age unlearn'd
Their genuine Relish, and of sundry Vines
Assum'd the Flavour; one sort counterfeits
The Spanish Product, this, to Gauls has seem'd
The sparkling Nectar of Champaigne; with that,
A German oft has swill'd his Throat, and sworn,
Deluded, that Imperial Rhine bestow'd
The Generous Rummer, whilst the Owner pleas'd,
Laughs inly at his Guests, thus entertain'd
With Foreign Vintage from his Cyder-Cask.

Soon as thy Liquor from the narrow Cells
Of close-prest Husks is freed, thou must refrain
Thy thirsty Soul; let none persuade to broach
Thy thick, unwholsom, undigested Cades:
The hoary Frosts, and Northern Blasts take care
Thy muddy Bev'rage to serene, and drive
Præcipitant the baser, ropy Lees.

And now thy Wine's transpicuous, purg'd from all
It's earthy Gross, yet let it feed awhile
On the fat Refuse, least too soon disjoin'd
From spritely, it, to sharp, or vappid change.
When to convenient Vigour it attains,
Suffice it to provide a brazen Tube
Inflext; self-taught, and voluntary flies
The defecated Liquor, thro' the Vent
Ascending, then by downward Tract convey'd,
Spouts into subject Vessels, lovely clear.
As when a Noon-tide Sun, with Summer Beams,
Darts thro' a Cloud, her watry Skirts are edg'd
With lucid Amber, or undrossy Gold:
So, and so richly, the purg'd Liquid shines.

Now also, when the Colds abate, nor yet
Full Summer shines, a dubious Season, close
In Glass thy purer Streams, and let them gain,
From due Confinement, Spirit, and Flavour new.

For this Intent, the subtle Chymist feeds
Perpetual Flames, whose unresisted Force
O'er Sand, and Ashes, and the stubborn Flint
Prevailing, turns into a fusil Sea,
That in his Furnace bubbles sunny-red:
From hence a glowing Drop, with hollow'd Steel
He takes, and by one efficacious Breath
Dilates to a surprising Cube, or Sphære,
Or Oval, and fit Receptacles forms
For every Liquid, with his plastic Lungs,
To human Life subservient; By his Means
Cyders in Metal frail improve; the Moyle,
And tastful Pippin, in a Moon's short Year,
Acquire compleat Perfection: Now they smoke
Transparent, sparkling in each Drop, Delight
Of curious Palate, by fair Virgins crav'd.
But harsher Fluids different lengths of time
Expect: Thy Flask will slowly mitigate
The Eliot's Roughness. Stirom, firmest Fruit,
Embottled (long as Priameian Troy
Withstood the Greeks) endures, e'er justly mild.
Soften'd by Age, it youthful Vigor gains,
Fallacious Drink! Ye honest Men beware,
Nor trust its Smoothness; The third circling Glass
Suffices Virtue: But may Hypocrites,
(That slyly speak one thing, another think,
Hateful as Hell) pleas'd with the Relish weak,
Drink on unwarn'd, 'till by inchanting Cups
Infatuate, they their wily Thoughts disclose,
And thro' Intemperance grow a while sincere.

The Farmer's Toil is done; his Cades mature,
Now call for Vent, his Lands exhaust permit
T' indulge awhile. Now solemn Rites he pays
To Bacchus, Author of Heart-cheering Mirth.
His honest Friends, at thirsty hour of Dusk,
Come uninvited; he with bounteous Hand
Imparts his smoaking Vintage, sweet Reward
Of his own Industry; the well fraught Bowl
Circles incessant, whilst the humble Cell
With quavering Laugh, and rural Jests resounds.
Ease, and Content, and undissembled Love
Shine in each Face; the Thoughts of Labour past
Encrease their Joy. As, from retentive Cage
When sullen Philomel escapes, her Notes
She varies, and of past Imprisonment
Sweetly complains; her Liberty retriev'd
Cheers her sad Soul, improves her pleasing Song.
Gladsome they quaff, yet not exceed the Bounds
Of healthy Temp'rance, nor incroach on Night,
Season of Rest, but well bedew'd repair
Each to his Home, with unsupplanted Feet.
E'er Heav'n's emblazon'd by the Rosie Dawn
Domestic Cares awake them; brisk they rise,
Refresh'd, and lively with the Joys that flow
From amicable Talk, and moderate Cups
Sweetly' interchang'd. The pining Lover finds
Present Redress, and long Oblivion drinks
Of Coy Lucinda. Give the Debtor Wine;
His Joys are short, and few; yet when he drinks
His Dread retires, the flowing Glasses add
Courage, and Mirth: magnificent in Thought,
Imaginary Riches he enjoys,
And in the Goal expatiates unconfin'd.
Nor can the Poet Bacchus' Praise indite,
Debarr'd his Grape: The Muses still require
Humid Regalement, nor will aught avail
Imploring Phœbus, with unmoisten'd Lips.
Thus to the generous Bottle all incline,
By parching Thirst allur'd: With vehement Suns
When dusty Summer bakes the crumbling Clods,
How pleasant is't, beneath the twisted Arch
Of a retreating Bow'r, in Mid-day's Reign
To ply the sweet Carouse, remote from Noise,
Secur'd of fev'rish Heats! When th' aged Year
Inclines, and Boreas' Spirit blusters frore,
Beware th' inclement Heav'ns; now let thy Hearth
Crackle with juiceless Boughs; thy lingring Blood
Now instigate with th' Apples powerful Streams.
Perpetual Showers, and stormy Gusts confine
The willing Ploughman, and December warns
To Annual Jollities; now sportive Youth
Carol incondite Rhythms, with suiting Notes,
And quaver unharmonious; sturdy Swains
In clean Array, for rustic Dance prepare,
Mixt with the Buxom Damsels; hand in hand
They frisk, and bound, and various Mazes weave,
Shaking their brawny Limbs, with uncouth Mein,
Transported, and sometimes, an oblique Leer
Dart on their Loves, sometimes, an hasty Kiss
Steal from unwary Lasses; they with Scorn,
And Neck reclin'd, resent the ravish'd Bliss.
Mean while, blind British Bards with volant Touch
Traverse loquacious Strings, whose solemn Notes
Provoke to harmless Revels; these among,
A subtle Artist stands, in wondrous Bag
That bears imprison'd Winds, (of gentler sort
Than those, which erst Laertes Son enclos'd.)
Peaceful they sleep, but let the tuneful Squeeze
Of labouring Elbow rouse them, out they fly
Melodious, and with spritely Accents charm.
'Midst these Disports, forget they not to drench
Themselves with bellying Goblets, nor when Spring
Returns, can they refuse to usher in
The fresh-born Year with loud Acclaim, and store
Of jovial Draughts, now, when the sappy Boughs
Attire themselves with Blooms, sweet Rudiments
Of future Harvest: When the Gnossian Crown
Leads on expected Autumn, and the Trees
Discharge their mellow Burthens, let them thank
Boon Nature, that thus annually supplies
Their Vaults, and with her former Liquid Gifts
Exhilerate their languid Minds, within
The Golden Mean confin'd: Beyond, there's naught
Of Health, or Pleasure. Therefore, when thy Heart
Dilates with fervent Joys, and eager Soul
Prompts to persue the sparkling Glass, be sure
'Tis time to shun it; if thou wilt prolong
Dire Compotation, forthwith Reason quits
Her Empire to Confusion, and Misrule,
And vain Debates; then twenty Tongues at once
Conspire in senseless Jargon, naught is heard
But Din, and various Clamour, and mad Rant:
Distrust, and Jealousie to these succeed,
And anger-kindling Taunt, the certain Bane
Of well-knit Fellowship. Now horrid Frays
Commence, the brimming Glasses now are hurl'd
With dire Intent; Bottles with Bottles clash
In rude Encounter, round their Temples fly
The sharp-edg'd Fragments, down their batter'd Cheeks
Mixt Gore, and Cyder flow: What shall we say
Of rash Elpenor, who in evil Hour
Dry'd an immeasurable Bowl, and thought
T' exhale his Surfeit by irriguous Sleep,
Imprudent? Him, Death's Iron-Sleep opprest,
Descending careless from his Couch; the Fall
Luxt his Neck-joint, and spinal Marrow bruis'd.
Nor need we tell what anxious Cares attend
The turbulent Mirth of Wine; nor all the kinds
Of Maladies, that lead to Death's grim Cave,
Wrought by Intemperance, joint-racking Gout,
Intestine Stone, and pining Atrophy,
Chill, even when the Sun with July-Heats
Frys the scorch'd Soil, and Dropsy all a-float,
Yet craving Liquids: Nor the Centaurs Tale
Be here repeated; how with Lust, and Wine
Inflam'd, they fought, and spilt their drunken Souls
At feasting Hour. Ye Heav'nly Pow'rs, that guard
The British Isles, such dire Events remove
Far from fair Albion, nor let Civil Broils
Ferment from Social Cups: May we, remote
From the hoarse, brazen Sound of War, enjoy
Our humid Products, and with seemly Draughts
Enkindle Mirth, and Hospitable Love.
Too oft alas! has mutual Hatred drench'd
Our Swords in Native Blood, too oft has Pride,
And hellish Discord, and insatiate Thirst
Of other's Rights, our Quiet discompos'd.
Have we forgot, how fell Destruction rag'd
Wide-spreading, when by Eris' Torch incens'd
Our Fathers warr'd? What Hero's, signaliz'd
For Loyalty, and Prowess, met their Fate
Untimely, undeserv'd! How Bertie fell,
Compton, and Granvill, dauntless Sons of Mars,
Fit Themes of endless Grief, but that we view
Their Virtues yet surviving in their Race!
Can we forget, how the mad, headstrong Rout
Defy'd their Prince to Arms, nor made account
Of Faith, or Duty, or Allegiance sworn?
Apostate, Atheist Rebells! bent to Ill,
With seeming Sanctity, and cover'd Fraud,
Instill'd by him, who first presum'd t' oppose
Omnipotence; alike their Crime, th'Event
Was not alike; these triumph'd, and in height
Of barbarous Malice, and insulting Pride,
Abstain'd not from Imperial Bloud. O Fact
Unparallel'd! O Charles! O Best of Kings!
What Stars their black, disastrous Influence shed
On Thy Nativity, that Thou shou'dst fall
Thus, by inglorious Hands, in this Thy Realm,
Supreme, and Innocent, adjudg'd to Death
By those, Thy Mercy only wou'd have sav'd!
Yet was the Cyder-Land unstain'd with Guilt;
The Cyder-Land, obsequious still to Thrones,
Abhorr'd such base, disloyal Deeds, and all
Her Pruning-hooks extended into Swords,
Undaunted, to assert the trampled Rights
Of Monarchy; but, ah! successless She
However faithful! then was no Regard
Of Right, or Wrong. And this, once Happy, Land
By home-bred Fury rent, long groan'd beneath
Tyrannic Sway, 'till fair-revolving Years
Our exil'd Kings, and Liberty restor'd.
Now we exult, by mighty ANNA's Care
Secure at home, while She to foreign Realms
Sends forth her dreadful Legions, and restrains
The Rage of Kings: Here, nobly She supports
Justice oppress'd; here, Her victorious Arms
Quell the Ambitious: From Her Hand alone
All Europe fears Revenge, or hopes Redress.
Rejoice, O Albion! sever'd from the World
By Nature's wise Indulgence, indigent
Of nothing from without; in One Supreme
Intirely blest; and from beginning time
Design'd thus happy; but the fond Desire
Of Rule, and Grandeur, multiply'd a Race
Of Kings, and numerous Sceptres introduc'd,
Destructive of the public Weal: For now
Each Potentate, as wary Fear, or Strength,
Or Emulation urg'd, his Neighbour's Bounds
Invades, and ampler Territory seeks
With ruinous Assault; on every Plain
Host cop'd with Host, dire was the Din of War,
And ceaseless, or short Truce haply procur'd
By Havoc, and Dismay, 'till Jealousy
Rais'd new Combustion: Thus was Peace in vain
Sought for by Martial Deeds, and Conflict stern:
'Till Edgar grateful (as to those who pine
A dismal half-Year Night, the orient Beam
Of Phœbus Lamp) arose, and into one
Cemented all the long-contending Pow'rs,
Pacific Monarch; then her lovely Head
Concord rear'd high, and all around diffus'd
The Spirit of Love; at Ease, the Bards new strung
Their silent Harps, and taught the Woods, and Vales,
In uncouth Rhythms, to echo Edgar's Name.
Then Gladness smil'd in every Eye; the Years
Ran smoothly on, productive of a Line
Of wise, Heroic Kings, that by just Laws
Establish'd Happiness at home, or crush'd
Insulting Enemies in farthest Climes.

See Lyon-Hearted Richard, with his Force
Drawn from the North, to Jury's hallow'd Plains!
Piously valiant, (like a Torrent swell'd
With wintry Tempests, that disdains all Mounds,
Breaking a Way impetuous, and involves
Within its Sweep, Trees, Houses, Men) he press'd
Amidst the thickest Battel; and o'er-threw
What-e'er withstood his zealous Rage; no Pause,
No Stay of Slaughter, found his vigorous Arm,
But th' unbelieving Squadrons turn'd to Flight
Smote in the Rear, and with dishonest Wounds
Mangl'd behind: The Soldan, as he fled,
Oft call'd on Alla, gnashing with Despite,
And Shame, and murmur'd many an empty Curse.

Behold Third Edward's Streamers blazing high
On Gallia's hostile Ground! his Right witheld,
Awakens Vengeance; O imprudent Gauls,
Relying on false Hopes, thus to incense
The warlike English! one important Day
Shall teach you meaner Thoughts! Eager of Fight,
Fierce Brutus Off-spring to the adverse Front
Advance resistless, and their deep Array
With furious Inroad pierce; the mighty Force
Of Edward, twice o'erturn'd their desperate King,
Twice he arose, and join'd the horrid Shock:
The third time, with his wide-extended Wings,
He fugitive declin'd superior Strength,
Discomfited; persu'd, in the sad Chace
Ten Thousands ignominious fall; with Bloud
The Vallies float: Great Edward thus aveng'd,
With golden Iris his broad Shield emboss'd.

Thrice glorious Prince! whom, Fame with all her Tongues
For ever shall resound. Yet from his Loins
New Authors of Dissention spring; from him
Two Branches, that in hosting long contend
For Sov'ran Sway; (and can such Anger dwell
In noblest Minds?) but little now avail'd
The Ties of Friendship; every Man, as lead
By Inclination, or vain Hope, repair'd
To either Camp, and breath'd immortal Hate,
And dire Revenge: Now horrid Slaughter reigns;
Sons against Fathers tilt the fatal Lance,
Careless of Duty, and their native Grounds
Distain with Kindred Blood, the twanging Bows
Send Showers of Shafts, that on their barbed Points
Alternate Ruin bear. Here might you see
Barons, and Peasants on th' embattled Field
Slain, or half dead, in one huge, ghastly Heap
Promiscuously amast: with dismal Groans,
And Ejulation, in the Pangs of Death
Some call for Aid, neglected; some o'erturn'd
In the fierce Shock, lye gasping, and expire,
Trampled by fiery Coursers; Horror thus,
And wild Uproar, and Desolation reign'd
Unrespited: Ah! who at length will end
This long, pernicious Fray? What Man has Fate
Reserv'd for this great Work? -- Hail, happy Prince
Of Tudor's Race, whom in the Womb of Time
Cadwallador foresaw! Thou, Thou art He,
Great Richmond Henry, that by nuptial Rites
Must close the Gates of Janus, and remove
Destructive Discord: Now no more the Drum
Provokes to Arms, or Trumpet's Clangor shrill
Affrights the Wives, or chills the Virgin's Bloud;
But Joy, and Pleasure open to the View
Uninterrupted! With presaging Skill
Thou to Thy own unitest Fergus' Line
By wise Alliance; from Thee James descends,
Heav'ns chosen Fav'rite, first Britannic King.
To him alone, Hereditary Right
Gave Power supreme; yet still some Seeds remain'd
Of Discontent; two Nations under One,
In Laws and Int'rest diverse, still persu'd
Peculiar Ends, on each Side resolute
To fly Conjunction; neither Fear, nor Hope,
Nor the sweet Prospect of a mutual Gain,
Cou'd ought avail, 'till prudent ANNA said
LET THERE BE UNION; strait with Reverence due
To Her Command, they willingly unite,
One in Affection, Laws, and Government,
Indissolubly firm; from Dubris South,
To Northern Orcades, Her long Domain.

And now thus leagu'd by an eternal Bond,
What shall retard the Britons' bold Designs,
Or who sustain their Force; in Union knit,
Sufficient to withstand the Pow'rs combin'd
Of all this Globe? At this important Act
The Mauritanian and Cathaian Kings
Already tremble, and th' unbaptiz'd Turk
Dreads War from utmost Thule; uncontrol'd
The British Navy thro' the Ocean vast
Shall wave her double Cross, t' extreamest Climes
Terrific, and return with odorous Spoils
Of Araby well fraught, or Indus' Wealth,
Pearl, and Barbaric Gold; mean while the Swains
Shall unmolested reap, what Plenty strows
From well stor'd Horn, rich Grain, and timely Fruits.
The elder Year, Pomona, pleas'd, shall deck
With ruby-tinctur'd Births, whose liquid Store
Abundant, flowing in well blended Streams,
The Natives shall applaud; while glad they talk
Of baleful Ills, caus'd by Bellona's Wrath
In other Realms; where-e'er the British spread
Triumphant Banners, or their Fame has reach'd
Diffusive, to the utmost Bounds of this
Wide Universe, Silurian Cyder borne
Shall please all Tasts, and triumph o'er the Vine.

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Guinevere

Queen Guinevere had fled the court, and sat
There in the holy house at Almesbury
Weeping, none with her save a little maid,
A novice: one low light betwixt them burned
Blurred by the creeping mist, for all abroad,
Beneath a moon unseen albeit at full,
The white mist, like a face-cloth to the face,
Clung to the dead earth, and the land was still.

For hither had she fled, her cause of flight
Sir Modred; he that like a subtle beast
Lay couchant with his eyes upon the throne,
Ready to spring, waiting a chance: for this
He chilled the popular praises of the King
With silent smiles of slow disparagement;
And tampered with the Lords of the White Horse,
Heathen, the brood by Hengist left; and sought
To make disruption in the Table Round
Of Arthur, and to splinter it into feuds
Serving his traitorous end; and all his aims
Were sharpened by strong hate for Lancelot.

For thus it chanced one morn when all the court,
Green-suited, but with plumes that mocked the may,
Had been, their wont, a-maying and returned,
That Modred still in green, all ear and eye,
Climbed to the high top of the garden-wall
To spy some secret scandal if he might,
And saw the Queen who sat betwixt her best
Enid, and lissome Vivien, of her court
The wiliest and the worst; and more than this
He saw not, for Sir Lancelot passing by
Spied where he couched, and as the gardener's hand
Picks from the colewort a green caterpillar,
So from the high wall and the flowering grove
Of grasses Lancelot plucked him by the heel,
And cast him as a worm upon the way;
But when he knew the Prince though marred with dust,
He, reverencing king's blood in a bad man,
Made such excuses as he might, and these
Full knightly without scorn; for in those days
No knight of Arthur's noblest dealt in scorn;
But, if a man were halt or hunched, in him
By those whom God had made full-limbed and tall,
Scorn was allowed as part of his defect,
And he was answered softly by the King
And all his Table. So Sir Lancelot holp
To raise the Prince, who rising twice or thrice
Full sharply smote his knees, and smiled, and went:
But, ever after, the small violence done
Rankled in him and ruffled all his heart,
As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
A little bitter pool about a stone
On the bare coast.

But when Sir Lancelot told
This matter to the Queen, at first she laughed
Lightly, to think of Modred's dusty fall,
Then shuddered, as the village wife who cries
`I shudder, some one steps across my grave;'
Then laughed again, but faintlier, for indeed
She half-foresaw that he, the subtle beast,
Would track her guilt until he found, and hers
Would be for evermore a name of scorn.
Henceforward rarely could she front in hall,
Or elsewhere, Modred's narrow foxy face,
Heart-hiding smile, and gray persistent eye:
Henceforward too, the Powers that tend the soul,
To help it from the death that cannot die,
And save it even in extremes, began
To vex and plague her. Many a time for hours,
Beside the placid breathings of the King,
In the dead night, grim faces came and went
Before her, or a vague spiritual fear--
Like to some doubtful noise of creaking doors,
Heard by the watcher in a haunted house,
That keeps the rust of murder on the walls--
Held her awake: or if she slept, she dreamed
An awful dream; for then she seemed to stand
On some vast plain before a setting sun,
And from the sun there swiftly made at her
A ghastly something, and its shadow flew
Before it, till it touched her, and she turned--
When lo! her own, that broadening from her feet,
And blackening, swallowed all the land, and in it
Far cities burnt, and with a cry she woke.
And all this trouble did not pass but grew;
Till even the clear face of the guileless King,
And trustful courtesies of household life,
Became her bane; and at the last she said,
`O Lancelot, get thee hence to thine own land,
For if thou tarry we shall meet again,
And if we meet again, some evil chance
Will make the smouldering scandal break and blaze
Before the people, and our lord the King.'
And Lancelot ever promised, but remained,
And still they met and met. Again she said,
`O Lancelot, if thou love me get thee hence.'
And then they were agreed upon a night
(When the good King should not be there) to meet
And part for ever. Vivien, lurking, heard.
She told Sir Modred. Passion-pale they met
And greeted. Hands in hands, and eye to eye,
Low on the border of her couch they sat
Stammering and staring. It was their last hour,
A madness of farewells. And Modred brought
His creatures to the basement of the tower
For testimony; and crying with full voice
`Traitor, come out, ye are trapt at last,' aroused
Lancelot, who rushing outward lionlike
Leapt on him, and hurled him headlong, and he fell
Stunned, and his creatures took and bare him off,
And all was still: then she, `The end is come,
And I am shamed for ever;' and he said,
`Mine be the shame; mine was the sin: but rise,
And fly to my strong castle overseas:
There will I hide thee, till my life shall end,
There hold thee with my life against the world.'
She answered, `Lancelot, wilt thou hold me so?
Nay, friend, for we have taken our farewells.
Would God that thou couldst hide me from myself!
Mine is the shame, for I was wife, and thou
Unwedded: yet rise now, and let us fly,
For I will draw me into sanctuary,
And bide my doom.' So Lancelot got her horse,
Set her thereon, and mounted on his own,
And then they rode to the divided way,
There kissed, and parted weeping: for he past,
Love-loyal to the least wish of the Queen,
Back to his land; but she to Almesbury
Fled all night long by glimmering waste and weald,
And heard the Spirits of the waste and weald
Moan as she fled, or thought she heard them moan:
And in herself she moaned `Too late, too late!'
Till in the cold wind that foreruns the morn,
A blot in heaven, the Raven, flying high,
Croaked, and she thought, `He spies a field of death;
For now the Heathen of the Northern Sea,
Lured by the crimes and frailties of the court,
Begin to slay the folk, and spoil the land.'

And when she came to Almesbury she spake
There to the nuns, and said, `Mine enemies
Pursue me, but, O peaceful Sisterhood,
Receive, and yield me sanctuary, nor ask
Her name to whom ye yield it, till her time
To tell you:' and her beauty, grace and power,
Wrought as a charm upon them, and they spared
To ask it.

So the stately Queen abode
For many a week, unknown, among the nuns;
Nor with them mixed, nor told her name, nor sought,
Wrapt in her grief, for housel or for shrift,
But communed only with the little maid,
Who pleased her with a babbling heedlessness
Which often lured her from herself; but now,
This night, a rumour wildly blown about
Came, that Sir Modred had usurped the realm,
And leagued him with the heathen, while the King
Was waging war on Lancelot: then she thought,
`With what a hate the people and the King
Must hate me,' and bowed down upon her hands
Silent, until the little maid, who brooked
No silence, brake it, uttering, `Late! so late!
What hour, I wonder, now?' and when she drew
No answer, by and by began to hum
An air the nuns had taught her; `Late, so late!'
Which when she heard, the Queen looked up, and said,
`O maiden, if indeed ye list to sing,
Sing, and unbind my heart that I may weep.'
Whereat full willingly sang the little maid.

`Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chill!
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

`No light had we: for that we do repent;
And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

`No light: so late! and dark and chill the night!
O let us in, that we may find the light!
Too late, too late: ye cannot enter now.

`Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?
O let us in, though late, to kiss his feet!
No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now.'

So sang the novice, while full passionately,
Her head upon her hands, remembering
Her thought when first she came, wept the sad Queen.
Then said the little novice prattling to her,
`O pray you, noble lady, weep no more;
But let my words, the words of one so small,
Who knowing nothing knows but to obey,
And if I do not there is penance given--
Comfort your sorrows; for they do not flow
From evil done; right sure am I of that,
Who see your tender grace and stateliness.
But weigh your sorrows with our lord the King's,
And weighing find them less; for gone is he
To wage grim war against Sir Lancelot there,
Round that strong castle where he holds the Queen;
And Modred whom he left in charge of all,
The traitor--Ah sweet lady, the King's grief
For his own self, and his own Queen, and realm,
Must needs be thrice as great as any of ours.
For me, I thank the saints, I am not great.
For if there ever come a grief to me
I cry my cry in silence, and have done.
None knows it, and my tears have brought me good:
But even were the griefs of little ones
As great as those of great ones, yet this grief
Is added to the griefs the great must bear,
That howsoever much they may desire
Silence, they cannot weep behind a cloud:
As even here they talk at Almesbury
About the good King and his wicked Queen,
And were I such a King with such a Queen,
Well might I wish to veil her wickedness,
But were I such a King, it could not be.'

Then to her own sad heart muttered the Queen,
`Will the child kill me with her innocent talk?'
But openly she answered, `Must not I,
If this false traitor have displaced his lord,
Grieve with the common grief of all the realm?'

`Yea,' said the maid, `this is all woman's grief,
That SHE is woman, whose disloyal life
Hath wrought confusion in the Table Round
Which good King Arthur founded, years ago,
With signs and miracles and wonders, there
At Camelot, ere the coming of the Queen.'

Then thought the Queen within herself again,
`Will the child kill me with her foolish prate?'
But openly she spake and said to her,
`O little maid, shut in by nunnery walls,
What canst thou know of Kings and Tables Round,
Or what of signs and wonders, but the signs
And simple miracles of thy nunnery?'

To whom the little novice garrulously,
`Yea, but I know: the land was full of signs
And wonders ere the coming of the Queen.
So said my father, and himself was knight
Of the great Table--at the founding of it;
And rode thereto from Lyonnesse, and he said
That as he rode, an hour or maybe twain
After the sunset, down the coast, he heard
Strange music, and he paused, and turning--there,
All down the lonely coast of Lyonnesse,
Each with a beacon-star upon his head,
And with a wild sea-light about his feet,
He saw them--headland after headland flame
Far on into the rich heart of the west:
And in the light the white mermaiden swam,
And strong man-breasted things stood from the sea,
And sent a deep sea-voice through all the land,
To which the little elves of chasm and cleft
Made answer, sounding like a distant horn.
So said my father--yea, and furthermore,
Next morning, while he past the dim-lit woods,
Himself beheld three spirits mad with joy
Come dashing down on a tall wayside flower,
That shook beneath them, as the thistle shakes
When three gray linnets wrangle for the seed:
And still at evenings on before his horse
The flickering fairy-circle wheeled and broke
Flying, and linked again, and wheeled and broke
Flying, for all the land was full of life.
And when at last he came to Camelot,
A wreath of airy dancers hand-in-hand
Swung round the lighted lantern of the hall;
And in the hall itself was such a feast
As never man had dreamed; for every knight
Had whatsoever meat he longed for served
By hands unseen; and even as he said
Down in the cellars merry bloated things
Shouldered the spigot, straddling on the butts
While the wine ran: so glad were spirits and men
Before the coming of the sinful Queen.'

Then spake the Queen and somewhat bitterly,
`Were they so glad? ill prophets were they all,
Spirits and men: could none of them foresee,
Not even thy wise father with his signs
And wonders, what has fallen upon the realm?'

To whom the novice garrulously again,
`Yea, one, a bard; of whom my father said,
Full many a noble war-song had he sung,
Even in the presence of an enemy's fleet,
Between the steep cliff and the coming wave;
And many a mystic lay of life and death
Had chanted on the smoky mountain-tops,
When round him bent the spirits of the hills
With all their dewy hair blown back like flame:
So said my father--and that night the bard
Sang Arthur's glorious wars, and sang the King
As wellnigh more than man, and railed at those
Who called him the false son of Gorlos:
For there was no man knew from whence he came;
But after tempest, when the long wave broke
All down the thundering shores of Bude and Bos,
There came a day as still as heaven, and then
They found a naked child upon the sands
Of dark Tintagil by the Cornish sea;
And that was Arthur; and they fostered him
Till he by miracle was approven King:
And that his grave should be a mystery
From all men, like his birth; and could he find
A woman in her womanhood as great
As he was in his manhood, then, he sang,
The twain together well might change the world.
But even in the middle of his song
He faltered, and his hand fell from the harp,
And pale he turned, and reeled, and would have fallen,
But that they stayed him up; nor would he tell
His vision; but what doubt that he foresaw
This evil work of Lancelot and the Queen?'

Then thought the Queen, `Lo! they have set her on,
Our simple-seeming Abbess and her nuns,
To play upon me,' and bowed her head nor spake.
Whereat the novice crying, with clasped hands,
Shame on her own garrulity garrulously,
Said the good nuns would check her gadding tongue
Full often, `and, sweet lady, if I seem
To vex an ear too sad to listen to me,
Unmannerly, with prattling and the tales
Which my good father told me, check me too
Nor let me shame my father's memory, one
Of noblest manners, though himself would say
Sir Lancelot had the noblest; and he died,
Killed in a tilt, come next, five summers back,
And left me; but of others who remain,
And of the two first-famed for courtesy--
And pray you check me if I ask amiss-
But pray you, which had noblest, while you moved
Among them, Lancelot or our lord the King?'

Then the pale Queen looked up and answered her,
`Sir Lancelot, as became a noble knight,
Was gracious to all ladies, and the same
In open battle or the tilting-field
Forbore his own advantage, and the King
In open battle or the tilting-field
Forbore his own advantage, and these two
Were the most nobly-mannered men of all;
For manners are not idle, but the fruit
Of loyal nature, and of noble mind.'

`Yea,' said the maid, `be manners such fair fruit?'
Then Lancelot's needs must be a thousand-fold
Less noble, being, as all rumour runs,
The most disloyal friend in all the world.'

To which a mournful answer made the Queen:
`O closed about by narrowing nunnery-walls,
What knowest thou of the world, and all its lights
And shadows, all the wealth and all the woe?
If ever Lancelot, that most noble knight,
Were for one hour less noble than himself,
Pray for him that he scape the doom of fire,
And weep for her that drew him to his doom.'

`Yea,' said the little novice, `I pray for both;
But I should all as soon believe that his,
Sir Lancelot's, were as noble as the King's,
As I could think, sweet lady, yours would be
Such as they are, were you the sinful Queen.'

So she, like many another babbler, hurt
Whom she would soothe, and harmed where she would heal;
For here a sudden flush of wrathful heat
Fired all the pale face of the Queen, who cried,
`Such as thou art be never maiden more
For ever! thou their tool, set on to plague
And play upon, and harry me, petty spy
And traitress.' When that storm of anger brake
From Guinevere, aghast the maiden rose,
White as her veil, and stood before the Queen
As tremulously as foam upon the beach
Stands in a wind, ready to break and fly,
And when the Queen had added `Get thee hence,'
Fled frighted. Then that other left alone
Sighed, and began to gather heart again,
Saying in herself, `The simple, fearful child
Meant nothing, but my own too-fearful guilt,
Simpler than any child, betrays itself.
But help me, heaven, for surely I repent.
For what is true repentance but in thought--
Not even in inmost thought to think again
The sins that made the past so pleasant to us:
And I have sworn never to see him more,
To see him more.'

And even in saying this,
Her memory from old habit of the mind
Went slipping back upon the golden days
In which she saw him first, when Lancelot came,
Reputed the best knight and goodliest man,
Ambassador, to lead her to his lord
Arthur, and led her forth, and far ahead
Of his and her retinue moving, they,
Rapt in sweet talk or lively, all on love
And sport and tilts and pleasure, (for the time
Was maytime, and as yet no sin was dreamed,)
Rode under groves that looked a paradise
Of blossom, over sheets of hyacinth
That seemed the heavens upbreaking through the earth,
And on from hill to hill, and every day
Beheld at noon in some delicious dale
The silk pavilions of King Arthur raised
For brief repast or afternoon repose
By couriers gone before; and on again,
Till yet once more ere set of sun they saw
The Dragon of the great Pendragonship,
That crowned the state pavilion of the King,
Blaze by the rushing brook or silent well.

But when the Queen immersed in such a trance,
And moving through the past unconsciously,
Came to that point where first she saw the King
Ride toward her from the city, sighed to find
Her journey done, glanced at him, thought him cold,
High, self-contained, and passionless, not like him,
`Not like my Lancelot'--while she brooded thus
And grew half-guilty in her thoughts again,
There rode an armd warrior to the doors.
A murmuring whisper through the nunnery ran,
Then on a sudden a cry, `The King.' She sat
Stiff-stricken, listening; but when armd feet
Through the long gallery from the outer doors
Rang coming, prone from off her seat she fell,
And grovelled with her face against the floor:
There with her milkwhite arms and shadowy hair
She made her face a darkness from the King:
And in the darkness heard his armd feet
Pause by her; then came silence, then a voice,
Monotonous and hollow like a Ghost's
Denouncing judgment, but though changed, the King's:

`Liest thou here so low, the child of one
I honoured, happy, dead before thy shame?
Well is it that no child is born of thee.
The children born of thee are sword and fire,
Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws,
The craft of kindred and the Godless hosts
Of heathen swarming o'er the Northern Sea;
Whom I, while yet Sir Lancelot, my right arm,
The mightiest of my knights, abode with me,
Have everywhere about this land of Christ
In twelve great battles ruining overthrown.
And knowest thou now from whence I come--from him
From waging bitter war with him: and he,
That did not shun to smite me in worse way,
Had yet that grace of courtesy in him left,
He spared to lift his hand against the King
Who made him knight: but many a knight was slain;
And many more, and all his kith and kin
Clave to him, and abode in his own land.
And many more when Modred raised revolt,
Forgetful of their troth and fealty, clave
To Modred, and a remnant stays with me.
And of this remnant will I leave a part,
True men who love me still, for whom I live,
To guard thee in the wild hour coming on,
Lest but a hair of this low head be harmed.
Fear not: thou shalt be guarded till my death.
Howbeit I know, if ancient prophecies
Have erred not, that I march to meet my doom.
Thou hast not made my life so sweet to me,
That I the King should greatly care to live;
For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life.
Bear with me for the last time while I show,
Even for thy sake, the sin which thou hast sinned.
For when the Roman left us, and their law
Relaxed its hold upon us, and the ways
Were filled with rapine, here and there a deed
Of prowess done redressed a random wrong.
But I was first of all the kings who drew
The knighthood-errant of this realm and all
The realms together under me, their Head,
In that fair Order of my Table Round,
A glorious company, the flower of men,
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence the King, as if he were
Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To honour his own word as if his God's,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.
And all this throve before I wedded thee,
Believing, "lo mine helpmate, one to feel
My purpose and rejoicing in my joy."
Then came thy shameful sin with Lancelot;
Then came the sin of Tristram and Isolt;
Then others, following these my mightiest knights,
And drawing foul ensample from fair names,
Sinned also, till the loathsome opposite
Of all my heart had destined did obtain,
And all through thee! so that this life of mine
I guard as God's high gift from scathe and wrong,
Not greatly care to lose; but rather think
How sad it were for Arthur, should he live,
To sit once more within his lonely hall,
And miss the wonted number of my knights,
And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds
As in the golden days before thy sin.
For which of us, who might be left, could speak
Of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at thee?
And in thy bowers of Camelot or of Usk
Thy shadow still would glide from room to room,
And I should evermore be vext with thee
In hanging robe or vacant ornament,
Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair.
For think not, though thou wouldst not love thy lord,
Thy lord hast wholly lost his love for thee.
I am not made of so slight elements.
Yet must I leave thee, woman, to thy shame.
I hold that man the worst of public foes
Who either for his own or children's sake,
To save his blood from scandal, lets the wife
Whom he knows false, abide and rule the house:
For being through his cowardice allowed
Her station, taken everywhere for pure,
She like a new disease, unknown to men,
Creeps, no precaution used, among the crowd,
Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and saps
The fealty of our friends, and stirs the pulse
With devil's leaps, and poisons half the young.
Worst of the worst were that man he that reigns!
Better the King's waste hearth and aching heart
Than thou reseated in thy place of light,
The mockery of my people, and their bane.'

He paused, and in the pause she crept an inch
Nearer, and laid her hands about his feet.
Far off a solitary trumpet blew.
Then waiting by the doors the warhorse neighed
At a friend's voice, and he spake again:

`Yet think not that I come to urge thy crimes,
I did not come to curse thee, Guinevere,
I, whose vast pity almost makes me die
To see thee, laying there thy golden head,
My pride in happier summers, at my feet.
The wrath which forced my thoughts on that fierce law,
The doom of treason and the flaming death,
(When first I learnt thee hidden here) is past.
The pang--which while I weighed thy heart with one
Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee,
Made my tears burn--is also past--in part.
And all is past, the sin is sinned, and I,
Lo! I forgive thee, as Eternal God
Forgives: do thou for thine own soul the rest.
But how to take last leave of all I loved?
O golden hair, with which I used to play
Not knowing! O imperial-moulded form,
And beauty such as never woman wore,
Until it became a kingdom's curse with thee--
I cannot touch thy lips, they are not mine,
But Lancelot's: nay, they never were the King's.
I cannot take thy hand: that too is flesh,
And in the flesh thou hast sinned; and mine own flesh,
Here looking down on thine polluted, cries
"I loathe thee:" yet not less, O Guinevere,
For I was ever virgin save for thee,
My love through flesh hath wrought into my life
So far, that my doom is, I love thee still.
Let no man dream but that I love thee still.
Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul,
And so thou lean on our fair father Christ,
Hereafter in that world where all are pure
We two may meet before high God, and thou
Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and know
I am thine husband--not a smaller soul,
Nor Lancelot, nor another. Leave me that,
I charge thee, my last hope. Now must I hence.
Through the thick night I hear the trumpet blow:
They summon me their King to lead mine hosts
Far down to that great battle in the west,
Where I must strike against the man they call
My sister's son--no kin of mine, who leagues
With Lords of the White Horse, heathen, and knights,
Traitors--and strike him dead, and meet myself
Death, or I know not what mysterious doom.
And thou remaining here wilt learn the event;
But hither shall I never come again,
Never lie by thy side; see thee no more--
Farewell!'

And while she grovelled at his feet,
She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck,
And in the darkness o'er her fallen head,
Perceived the waving of his hands that blest.

Then, listening till those armd steps were gone,
Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish found
The casement: `peradventure,' so she thought,
`If I might see his face, and not be seen.'
And lo, he sat on horseback at the door!
And near him the sad nuns with each a light
Stood, and he gave them charge about the Queen,
To guard and foster her for evermore.
And while he spake to these his helm was lowered,
To which for crest the golden dragon clung
Of Britain; so she did not see the face,
Which then was as an angel's, but she saw,
Wet with the mists and smitten by the lights,
The Dragon of the great Pendragonship
Blaze, making all the night a steam of fire.
And even then he turned; and more and more
The moony vapour rolling round the King,
Who seemed the phantom of a Giant in it,
Enwound him fold by fold, and made him gray
And grayer, till himself became as mist
Before her, moving ghostlike to his doom.

Then she stretched out her arms and cried aloud
`Oh Arthur!' there her voice brake suddenly,
Then--as a stream that spouting from a cliff
Fails in mid air, but gathering at the base
Re-makes itself, and flashes down the vale--
Went on in passionate utterance:

`Gone--my lord!
Gone through my sin to slay and to be slain!
And he forgave me, and I could not speak.
Farewell? I should have answered his farewell.
His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord the King,
My own true lord! how dare I call him mine?
The shadow of another cleaves to me,
And makes me one pollution: he, the King,
Called me polluted: shall I kill myself?
What help in that? I cannot kill my sin,
If soul be soul; nor can I kill my shame;
No, nor by living can I live it down.
The days will grow to weeks, the weeks to months
The months will add themselves and make the years,
The years will roll into the centuries,
And mine will ever be a name of scorn.
I must not dwell on that defeat of fame.
Let the world be; that is but of the world.
What else? what hope? I think there was a hope,
Except he mocked me when he spake of hope;
His hope he called it; but he never mocks,
For mockery is the fume of little hearts.
And blessd be the King, who hath forgiven
My wickedness to him, and left me hope
That in mine own heart I can live down sin
And be his mate hereafter in the heavens
Before high God. Ah great and gentle lord,
Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint
Among his warring senses, to thy knights--
To whom my false voluptuous pride, that took
Full easily all impressions from below,
Would not look up, or half-despised the height
To which I would not or I could not climb--
I thought I could not breathe in that fine air
That pure severity of perfect light--
I yearned for warmth and colour which I found
In Lancelot--now I see thee what thou art,
Thou art the highest and most human too,
Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there none
Will tell the King I love him though so late?
Now--ere he goes to the great Battle? none:
Myself must tell him in that purer life,
But now it were too daring. Ah my God,
What might I not have made of thy fair world,
Had I but loved thy highest creature here?
It was my duty to have loved the highest:
It surely was my profit had I known:
It would have been my pleasure had I seen.
We needs must love the highest when we see it,
Not Lancelot, nor another.'

Here her hand
Grasped, made her vail her eyes: she looked and saw
The novice, weeping, suppliant, and said to her,
`Yea, little maid, for am I not forgiven?'
Then glancing up beheld the holy nuns
All round her, weeping; and her heart was loosed
Within her, and she wept with these and said,

`Ye know me then, that wicked one, who broke
The vast design and purpose of the King.
O shut me round with narrowing nunnery-walls,
Meek maidens, from the voices crying "shame."
I must not scorn myself: he loves me still.
Let no one dream but that he loves me still.
So let me, if you do not shudder at me,
Nor shun to call me sister, dwell with you;
Wear black and white, and be a nun like you,
Fast with your fasts, not feasting with your feasts;
Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at your joys,
But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites;
Pray and be prayed for; lie before your shrines;
Do each low office of your holy house;
Walk your dim cloister, and distribute dole
To poor sick people, richer in His eyes
Who ransomed us, and haler too than I;
And treat their loathsome hurts and heal mine own;
And so wear out in almsdeed and in prayer
The sombre close of that voluptuous day,
Which wrought the ruin of my lord the King.'

She said: they took her to themselves; and she
Still hoping, fearing `is it yet too late?'
Dwelt with them, till in time their Abbess died.
Then she, for her good deeds and her pure life,
And for the power of ministration in her,
And likewise for the high rank she had borne,
Was chosen Abbess, there, an Abbess, lived
For three brief years, and there, an Abbess, past
To where beyond these voices there is peace.

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The Loves of the Angels

'Twas when the world was in its prime,
When the fresh stars had just begun
Their race of glory and young Time
Told his first birth-days by the sun;
When in the light of Nature's dawn
Rejoicing, men and angels met
On the high hill and sunny lawn,-
Ere sorrow came or Sin had drawn
'Twixt man and heaven her curtain yet!
When earth lay nearer to the skies
Than in these days of crime and woe,
And mortals saw without surprise
In the mid-air angelic eyes
Gazing upon this world below.

Alas! that Passion should profane
Even then the morning of the earth!
That, sadder still, the fatal stain
Should fall on hearts of heavenly birth-
And that from Woman's love should fall
So dark a stain, most sad of all!

One evening, in that primal hour,
On a hill's side where hung the ray
Of sunset brightening rill and bower,
Three noble youths conversing lay;
And, as they lookt from time to time
To the far sky where Daylight furled
His radiant wing, their brows sublime
Bespoke them of that distant world-
Spirits who once in brotherhood
Of faith and bliss near ALLA stood,
And o'er whose cheeks full oft had blown
The wind that breathes from ALLA'S throne,
Creatures of light such as still play,
Like motes in sunshine, round the Lord,
And thro' their infinite array
Transmit each moment, night and day,
The echo of His luminous word!

Of Heaven they spoke and, still more oft,
Of the bright eyes that charmed them thence;
Till yielding gradual to the soft
And balmy evening's influence-
The silent breathing of the flowers-
The melting light that beamed above,
As on their first, fond, erring hours,-
Each told the story of his love,
The history of that hour unblest,
When like a bird from its high nest
Won down by fascinating eyes,
For Woman's smile he lost the skies.

The First who spoke was one, with look
The least celestial of the three-
A Spirit of light mould that took
The prints of earth most yieldingly;
Who even in heaven was not of those
Nearest the Throne but held a place
Far off among those shining rows
That circle out thro' endless space,
And o'er whose wings the light from Him
In Heaven's centre falls most dim.

Still fair and glorious, he but shone
Among those youths the unheavenliest one-
A creature to whom light remained
From Eden still, but altered, stained,
And o'er whose brow not Love alone
A blight had in his transit cast,
But other, earthlier joys had gone,
And left their foot-prints as they past.
Sighing, as back thro' ages flown,
Like a tomb-searcher, Memory ran,
Lifting each shroud that Time had thrown
O'er buried hopes, he thus began:-


First Angel's Story


'Twas in a land that far away
Into the golden orient lies,
Where Nature knows not night's delay,
But springs to meet her bridegroom, Day,
Upon the threshold of the skies,
One morn, on earthly mission sent,
And mid-way choosing where to light,
I saw from the blue element-
Oh beautiful, but fatal sight!-
One of earth's fairest womankind,
Half veiled from view, or rather shrined
In the clear crystal of a brook;
Which while it hid no single gleam
Of her young beauties made them look
More spirit-like, as they might seem
Thro' the dim shadowing of a dream.
Pausing in wonder I lookt on,
While playfully around her breaking
The waters that like diamonds shone
She moved in light of her own making.
At length as from that airy height
I gently lowered my breathless flight,
The tremble of my wings all o'er
(For thro' each plume I felt the thrill)
Startled her as she reached the shore
Of that small lake-her mirror still-
Above whose brink she stood, like snow
When rosy with a sunset glow,
Never shall I forget those eyes!-
The shame, the innocent surprise
Of that bright face when in the air
Uplooking she beheld me there.
It seemed as if each thought and look
And motion were that minute chained
Fast to the spot, such root she took,
And-like a sunflower by a brook,
With face upturned-so still remained!

In pity to the wondering maid,
Tho' loath from such a vision turning,
Downward I bent, beneath the shade
Of my spread wings to hide the burning
Of glances, which-I well could feel-
For me, for her, too warmly shone;
But ere I could again unseal
My restless eyes or even steal
One sidelong look the maid was gone-
Hid from me in the forest leaves,
Sudden as when in all her charms
Of full-blown light some cloud receives
The Moon into his dusky arms.

'Tis not in words to tell the power,
The despotism that from that hour
Passion held o'er me. Day and night
I sought around each neighboring spot;
And in the chase of this sweet light,
My task and heaven and all forgot;-
All but the one, sole, haunting dream
Of her I saw in that bright stream.

Nor was it long ere by her side
I found myself whole happy days
Listening to words whose music vied
With our own Eden's seraph lays,
When seraph lays are warmed by love,
But wanting that far, far above!-
And looking into eyes where, blue
And beautiful, like skies seen thro'
The sleeping wave, for me there shone
A heaven, more worshipt than my own.
Oh what, while I could hear and see
Such words and looks, was heaven to me?

Tho' gross the air on earth I drew,
'Twas blessed, while she breathed it too;
Tho' dark the flowers, tho' dim the sky,
Love lent them light while she was nigh.
Throughout creation I but knew
Two separate worlds-the one, that small,
Beloved and consecrated spot
Where LEA was-the other, all
The dull, wide waste where she was not!

But vain my suit, my madness vain;
Tho' gladly, from her eyes to gain
One earthly look, one stray desire,
I would have torn the wings that hung
Furled at my back and o'er the Fire
In GEHIM'S pit their fragments flung;-
'Twas hopeless all-pure and unmoved
She stood as lilies in the light
Of the hot noon but look more white;-
And tho' she loved me, deeply loved,
'Twas not as man, as mortal-no,
Nothing of earth was in that glow-
She loved me but as one, of race
Angelic, from that radiant place
She saw so oft in dreams-that Heaven
To which her prayers at morn were sent
And on whose light she gazed at even,
Wishing for wings that she might go
Out of this shadowy world below
To that free, glorious element!

Well I remember by her side
Sitting at rosy even-tide,
When,-turning to the star whose head
Lookt out as from a bridal bed,
At that mute, blushing hour,-she said,
'Oh! that it were my doom to be
'The Spirit of yon beauteous star,
'Dwelling up there in purity,
'Alone as all such bright things are;-
'My sole employ to pray and shine,
'To light my censer at the sun,
'And cast its fire towards the shrine
'Of Him in heaven, the Eternal One!'

So innocent the maid, so free
From mortal taint in soul and frame,
Whom 'twas my crime-my destiny-
To love, ay, burn for, with a flame
To which earth's wildest fires are tame.
Had you but seen her look when first
From my mad lips the avowal burst;
Not angered-no!-the feeling came
From depths beyond mere anger's flame-
It was a sorrow calm as deep,
A mournfulness that could not weep,
So filled her heart was to the brink,
So fixt and frozen with grief to think
That angel natures-that even I
Whose love she clung to, as the tie
Between her spirit and the sky-
Should fall thus headlong from the height
Of all that heaven hath pure and bright!

That very night-my heart had grown
Impatient of its inward burning;
The term, too, of my stay was flown,
And the bright Watchers near the throne.
Already, if a meteor shone
Between them and this nether zone,
Thought 'twas their herald's wing returning.
Oft did the potent spell-word, given
To Envoys hither from the skies,
To be pronounced when back to heaven
It is their time or wish to rise,
Come to my lips that fatal day;
And once too was so nearly spoken,
That my spread plumage in the ray
And breeze of heaven began to play;-
When my heart failed-the spell was broken-
The word unfinisht died away,
And my checkt plumes ready to soar,
Fell slack and lifeless as before.
How could I leave a world which she,
Or lost or won, made all to me?
No matter where my wanderings were,
So there she lookt, breathed, moved about-
Woe, ruin, death, more sweet with her,
Than Paradise itself, without!

But to return-that very day
A feast was held, where, full of mirth,
Came-crowding thick as flowers that play
In summer winds-the young and gay
And beautiful of this bright earth.
And she was there and mid the young
And beautiful stood first, alone;
Tho' on her gentle brow still hung
The shadow I that morn had thrown-
The first that ever shame or woe
Had cast upon its vernal snow.
My heart was maddened;-in the flush
Of the wild revel I gave way
To all that frantic mirth-that rush
Of desperate gayety which they,
Who never felt how pain's excess
Can break out thus, think happiness!
Sad mimicry of mirth and life
Whose flashes come but from the strife
Of inward passions-like the light
Struck out by clashing swords in fight.

Then too that juice of earth, the bane
And blessing of man's heart and brain-
That draught of sorcery which brings
Phantoms of fair, forbidden things-
Whose drops like those of rainbows smile
Upon the mists that circle man,
Brightening not only Earth the while,
But grasping Heaven too in their span!-
Then first the fatal wine-cup rained
Its dews of darkness thro' my lips,
Casting whate'er of light remained
To my lost soul into eclipse;
And filling it with such wild dreams,
Such fantasies and wrong desires,
As in the absence of heaven's beams
Haunt us for ever-like wildfires
That walk this earth when day retires.

Now hear the rest;-our banquet done,
I sought her in the accustomed bower,
Where late we oft, when day was gone
And the world husht, had met alone,
At the same silent, moonlight hour.
Her eyes as usual were upturned
To her loved star whose lustre burned
Purer than ever on that night;
While she in looking grew more bright
As tho' she borrowed of its light.

There was a virtue in that scene,
A spell of holiness around,
Which had my burning brain not been
Thus maddened would have held me bound,
As tho' I trod celestial ground.
Even as it was, with soul all flame
And lips that burned in their own sighs,
I stood to gaze with awe and shame-
The memory of Eden came
Full o'er me when I saw those eyes;
And tho' too well each glance of mine
To the pale, shrinking maiden proved
How far, alas! from aught divine,
Aught worthy of so pure a shrine,
Was the wild love with which I loved,
Yet must she, too, have seen-oh yes,
'Tis soothing but to think she saw
The deep, true, soul-felt tenderness,
The homage of an Angel's awe
To her, a mortal, whom pure love
Then placed above him-far above-
And all that struggle to repress
A sinful spirit's mad excess,
Which workt within me at that hour,
When with a voice where Passion shed
All the deep sadness of her power,
Her melancholy power-I said,
'Then be it so; if back to heaven
'I must unloved, unpitied fly.
'Without one blest memorial given
'To soothe me in that lonely sky;
'One look like those the young and fond
'Give when they're parting-which would be,
'Even in remembrance far beyond
'All heaven hath left of bliss for me!

'Oh, but to see that head recline
'A minute on this trembling arm,
'And those mild eyes look up to mine,
'Without a dread, a thought of harm!
'To meet but once the thrilling touch
'Of lips too purely fond to fear me-
'Or if that boon be all too much,
'Even thus to bring their fragrance near me!
'Nay, shrink not so-a look-a word-
'Give them but kindly and I fly;
'Already, see, my plumes have stirred
'And tremble for their home on high.
'Thus be our parting-cheek to cheek-
'One minute's lapse will be forgiven,
'And thou, the next, shalt hear me speak
'The spell that plumes my wing for heaven!'

While thus I spoke, the fearful maid,
Of me and of herself afraid,
Had shrinking stood like flowers beneath
The scorching of the south-wind's breath:
But when I named-alas, too well,
I now recall, tho' wildered then,-
Instantly, when I named the spell
Her brow, her eyes uprose again;
And with an eagerness that spoke
The sudden light that o'er her broke,
'The spell, the spell!-oh, speak it now.
'And I will bless thee!' she exclaimed-
Unknowing what I did, inflamed,
And lost already, on her brow
I stampt one burning kiss, and named
The mystic word till then ne'er told
To living creature of earth's mould!
Scarce was it said when quick a thought,
Her lips from mine like echo caught
The holy sound-her hands and eyes
Were instant lifted to the skies,
And thrice to heaven she spoke it out
With that triumphant look Faith wears,
When not a cloud of fear or doubt,
A vapor from this vale of tears.
Between her and her God appears!
That very moment her whole frame
All bright and glorified became,
And at her back I saw unclose
Two wings magnificent as those
That sparkle around ALLA'S Throne,
Whose plumes, as buoyantly she rose
Above me, in the moon-beam shone
With a pure light; which-from its hue,
Unknown upon this earth-I knew
Was light from Eden, glistening thro'!
Most holy vision! ne'er before
Did aught so radiant-since the day
When EBLIS in his downfall, bore
The third of the bright stars away-
Rise in earth's beauty to repair
That loss of light and glory there!

But did I tamely view her flight?
Did not I too proclaim out thrice
The powerful words that were that night,-
Oh even for heaven too much delight!-
Again to bring us, eyes to eyes
And soul to soul, in Paradise?
I did-I spoke it o'er and o'er-
I prayed, I wept, but all in vain;
For me the spell had power no more.
There seemed around me some dark chain
Which still as I essayed to soar
Baffled, alas, each wild endeavor;
Dead lay my wings as they have lain
Since that sad hour and will remain-
So wills the offended God-for ever!

It was to yonder star I traced
Her journey up the illumined waste-
That isle in the blue firmament
To which so oft her fancy went
In wishes and in dreams before,
And which was now-such, Purity,
Thy blest reward-ordained to be
Her home of light for evermore!
Once-or did I but fancy so?-
Even in her flight to that fair sphere,
Mid all her spirit's new-felt glow,
A pitying look she turned below
On him who stood in darkness here;
Him whom perhaps if vain regret
Can dwell in heaven she pities yet;
And oft when looking to this dim
And distant world remembers him.

But soon that passing dream was gone;
Farther and farther off she shone,
Till lessened to a point as small
As are those specks that yonder burn,-
Those vivid drops of light that fall
The last from Day's exhausted urn.
And when at length she merged, afar,
Into her own immortal star,
And when at length my straining sight
Had caught her wing's last fading ray,
That minute from my soul the light
Of heaven and love both past away;
And I forgot my home, my birth,
Profaned my spirit, sunk my brow,
And revelled in gross joys of earth
Till I became-what I am now!

The Spirit bowed his head in shame;
A shame that of itself would tell-
Were there not even those breaks of flame,
Celestial, thro' his clouded frame-
How grand the height from which he fell!
That holy Shame which ne'er forgets
The unblenched renown it used to wear;
Whose blush remains when Virtue sets
To show her sunshine has been there.

Once only while the tale he told
Were his eyes lifted to behold
That happy stainless, star where she
Dwelt in her bower of purity!
One minute did he look and then-
As tho' he felt some deadly pain
From its sweet light thro' heart and brain-
Shrunk back and never lookt again.

Who was the Second Spirit? he
With the proud front and piercing glance-
Who seemed when viewing heaven's expanse
As tho' his far-sent eye could see
On, on into the Immensity
Behind the veils of that blue sky
Where ALLA'S grandest secrets lie?-
His wings, the while, tho' day was gone,
Flashing with many a various hue
Of light they from themselves alone,
Instinct with Eden's brightness drew.
'Twas RUBI-once among the prime
And flower of those bright creatures, named
Spirits of Knowledge, who o'er Time
And Space and Thought an empire claimed,
Second alone to Him whose light
Was even to theirs as day to night;
'Twixt whom and them was distance far
And wide as would the journey be
To reach from any island star
To vague shores of Infinity

'Twas RUBI in whose mournful eye
Slept the dim light of days gone by;
Whose voice tho' sweet fell on the ear
Like echoes in some silent place
When first awaked for many a year;
And when he smiled, if o'er his face
Smile ever shone, 'twas like the grace
Of moonlight rainbows, fair, but wan,
The sunny life, the glory gone.
Even o'er his pride tho' still the same,
A softening shade from sorrow came;
And tho' at times his spirit knew
The kindlings of disdain and ire,
Short was the fitful glare they threw-
Like the last flashes, fierce but few,
Seen thro' some noble pile on fire!
Such was the Angel who now broke
The silence that had come o'er all,
When he the Spirit that last spoke
Closed the sad history of his fall;
And while a sacred lustre flown
For many a day relumed his cheek-
Beautiful as in days of old;
And not those eloquent lips alone
But every feature seemed to speak-
Thus his eventful story told:-


Second Angel's Story


You both remember well the day
When unto Eden's new-made bowers
ALLA convoked the bright array
Of his supreme angelic powers
To witness the one wonder yet,
Beyond man, angel, star, or sun,
He must achieve, ere he could set
His seal upon the world as done-
To see the last perfection rise,
That crowning of creation's birth,
When mid the worship and surprise
Of circling angels Woman's eyes
First open upon heaven and earth;
And from their lids a thrill was sent,
That thro' each living spirit went
Like first light thro' the firmament!

Can you forget how gradual stole
The fresh-awakened breath of soul
Throughout her perfect form-which seemed
To grow transparent as there beamed
That dawn of Mind within and caught
New loveliness from each new thought?
Slow as o'er summer seas we trace
The progress of the noontide air,
Dimpling its bright and silent face
Each minute into some new grace,
And varying heaven's reflections there-
Or like the light of evening stealing
O'er some fair temple which all day
Hath slept in shadow, slow revealing
Its several beauties ray by ray,
Till it shines out, a thing to bless,
All full of light and loveliness.

Can you forget her blush when round
Thro' Eden's lone, enchanted ground
She lookt, and saw the sea-the skies-
And heard the rush of many a wing,
On high behests then vanishing;
And saw the last few angel eyes,
Still lingering-mine among the rest,-
Reluctant leaving scenes so blest?
From that miraculous hour the fate
Of this new, glorious Being dwelt
For ever with a spell-like weight
Upon my spirit-early, late,
Whate'er I did or dreamed or felt,
The thought of what might yet befall
That matchless creature mixt with all.-
Nor she alone but her whole race
Thro' ages yet to come-whate'er
Of feminine and fond and fair
Should spring from that pure mind and face,
All waked my soul's intensest care;
Their forms, souls, feelings, still to me
Creation's strangest mystery!

It was my doom-even from the first,
When witnessing the primal burst
Of Nature's wonders, I saw rise
Those bright creations in the skies,-
Those worlds instinct with life and light,
Which Man, remote, but sees by night,-
It was my doom still to be haunted
By some new wonder, some sublime
And matchless work, that for the time
Held all my soul enchained, enchanted,
And left me not a thought, a dream,
A word but on that only theme!

The wish to know-that endless thirst,
Which even by quenching is awaked,
And which becomes or blest or curst
As is the fount whereat 'tis slaked-
Still urged me onward with desire
Insatiate, to explore, inquire-
Whate'er the wondrous things might be
That waked each new idolatry-
Their cause, aim, source, whenever sprung-
Their inmost powers, as tho' for me
Existence on that knowledge hung.

Oh what a vision were the stars
When first I saw them born on high,
Rolling along like living cars
Of light for gods to journey by!
They were like my heart's first passion-days
And nights unwearied, in their rays
Have I hung floating till each sense
Seemed full of their bright influence.
Innocent joy! alas, how much
Of misery had I shunned below,
Could I have still lived blest with such;
Nor, proud and restless, burned to know
The knowledge that brings guilt and woe.

Often-so much I loved to trace
The secrets of this starry race-
Have I at morn and evening run
Along the lines of radiance spun
Like webs between them and the sun,
Untwisting all the tangled ties
Of light into their different dyes-
The fleetly winged I off in quest
Of those, the farthest, loneliest,
That watch like winking sentinels,
The void, beyond which Chaos dwells;
And there with noiseless plume pursued
Their track thro' that grand solitude,
Asking intently all and each
What soul within their radiance dwelt,
And wishing their sweet light were speech,
That they might tell me all they felt.

Nay, oft, so passionate my chase,
Of these resplendent heirs of space,
Oft did I follow-lest a ray
Should 'scape me in the farthest night-
Some pilgrim Comet on his way
To visit distant shrines of light,
And well remember how I sung
Exultingly when on my sight
New worlds of stars all fresh and young
As if just born of darkness sprung!

Such was my pure ambition then,
My sinless transport night and morn
Ere yet this newer world of men,
And that most fair of stars was born
Which I in fatal hour saw rise
Among the flowers of Paradise!

Thenceforth my nature all was changed,
My heart, soul, senses turned below;
And he who but so lately ranged
Yon wonderful expanse where glow
Worlds upon worlds,-yet found his mind
Even in that luminous range confined,-
Now blest the humblest, meanest sod
Of the dark earth where Woman trod!
In vain my former idols glistened
From their far thrones; in vain these ears
To the once-thrilling music listened,
That hymned around my favorite spheres-
To earth, to earth each thought was given,
That in this half-lost soul had birth;
Like some high mount, whose head's in heaven
While its whole shadow rests on earth!

Nor was it Love, even yet, that thralled
My spirit in his burning ties;
And less, still less could it be called
That grosser flame, round which Love flies
Nearer and near till he dies-
No, it was wonder, such as thrilled
At all God's works my dazzled sense;
The same rapt wonder, only filled
With passion, more profound, intense,-
A vehement, but wandering fire,
Which, tho' nor love, nor yet desire,-
Tho' thro' all womankind it took
Its range, its lawless lightnings run,
Yet wanted but a touch, a look,
To fix it burning upon One.

Then too the ever-restless zeal,
The insatiate curiosity,
To know how shapes so fair must feel-
To look but once beneath the seal
Of so much loveliness and see
What souls belonged to such bright eyes-
Whether as sunbeams find their way
Into the gem that hidden lies,
Those looks could inward turn their ray,
And make the soul as bright as they:
All this impelled my anxious chase.
And still the more I saw and knew
Of Woman's fond, weak, conquering race,
The intenser still my wonder grew.
I had beheld their First, their EVE,
Born in that splendid Paradise,
Which sprung there solely to receive
The first light of her waking eyes.
I had seen purest angels lean
In worship o'er her from above;
And man-oh yes, had envying seen
Proud man possest of all her love.

I saw their happiness, so brief,
So exquisite,-her error, too,
That easy trust, that prompt belief
In what the warm heart wishes true;
That faith in words, when kindly said.
By which the whole fond sex is led
Mingled with-what I durst not blame,
For 'tis my own-that zeal to know,
Sad, fatal zeal, so sure of woe;
Which, tho' from heaven all pure it came,
Yet stained, misused, brought sin and shame
On her, on me, on all below!

I had seen this; had seen Man, armed
As his soul is with strength and sense,
By her first words to ruin charmed;
His vaunted reason's cold defence,
Like an ice-barrier in the ray
Of melting summer, smiled away.
Nay, stranger yet, spite of all this-
Tho' by her counsels taught to err,
Tho' driven from Paradise for her,
(And with her-that at least was bliss,)
Had I not heard him ere he crost
The threshold of that earthly heaven,
Which by her bewildering smile he lost-
So quickly was the wrong forgiven-
Had I not heard him, as he prest
The frail, fond trembler to a breast
Which she had doomed to sin and strife,
Call her-even then-his Life! his Life!
Yes, such a love-taught name, the first,
That ruined Man to Woman gave,
Even in his outcast hour, when curst
By her fond witchery, with that worst
And earliest boon of love, the grave!
She who brought death into the world
There stood before him, with the light
Of their lost Paradise still bright
Upon those sunny locks that curled
Down her white shoulders to her feet-
So beautiful in form, so sweet
In heart and voice, as to redeem
The loss, the death of all things dear,
Except herself-and make it seem
Life, endless Life, while she was near!
Could I help wondering at a creature,
Thus circled round with spells so strong-
One to whose every thought, word, feature.
In joy and woe, thro' right and wrong,
Such sweet omnipotence heaven gave,
To bless or ruin, curse or save?

Nor did the marvel cease with her-
New Eves in all her daughters came,
As strong to charm, as weak to err,
As sure of man thro' praise and blame,
Whate'er they brought him, pride or shame,
He still the unreasoning worshipper,
And they, throughout all time, the same
Enchantresses of soul and frame,
Into whose hands, from first to last,
This world with all its destinies,
Devotedly by heaven seems cast,
To save or ruin as they please!
Oh! 'tis not to be told how long,
How restlessly I sighed to find
Some one from out that witching throng,
Some abstract of the form and mind
Of the whole matchless sex, from which,
In my own arms beheld, possest,
I might learn all the powers to witch,
To warm, and (if my fate unblest
Would have it) ruin, of the rest!
Into whose inward soul and sense,
I might descend, as doth the bee
Into the flower's deep heart, and thence
Rifle in all its purity
The prime, the quintessence, the whole
Of wondrous Woman's frame and soul!
At length my burning wish, my prayer-
(For such-oh! what will tongues not dare,
When hearts go wrong?-this lip preferred)-
At length my ominous prayer was heard-
But whether heard in heaven or hell,
Listen-and thou wilt know too well.

There was a maid, of all who move
Like visions o'er this orb most fit.
To be a bright young angel's love-
Herself so bright, so exquisite!
The pride too of her step, as light
Along the unconscious earth she went,
Seemed that of one born with a right
To walk some heavenlier element,
And tread in places where her feet
A star at every step should meet.
'Twas not alone that loveliness
By which the wildered sense is caught-
Of lips whose very breath could bless;
Of playful blushes that seemed naught
But luminous escapes of thought;
Of eyes that, when by anger stirred,
Were fire itself, but at a word
Of tenderness, all soft became
As tho' they could, like the sun's bird,
Dissolve away in their own flame-
Of form, as pliant as the shoots
Of a young tree, in vernal flower;
Yet round and glowing as the fruits,
That drop from it in summer's hour;-
'Twas not alone this loveliness
That falls to loveliest women's share,
Tho' even here her form could spare
From its own beauty's rich excess
Enough to make even them more fair-
But 'twas the Mind outshining clear
Thro' her whole frame-the soul, still near,
To light each charm, yet independent
Of what it lighted, as the sun
That shines on flowers would be resplendent
Were there no flowers to shine upon-
'Twas this, all this, in one combined-
The unnumbered looks and arts that form
The glory of young womankind,
Taken, in their perfection, warm,
Ere time had chilled a single charm,
And stampt with such a seal of Mind,
As gave to beauties that might be
Too sensual else, too unrefined,
The impress of Divinity!

'Twas this-a union, which the hand
Of Nature kept for her alone,
Of every thing most playful, bland,
Voluptuous, spiritual, grand,
In angel-natures and her own-
Oh! this it was that drew me nigh
One, who seemed kin to heaven as I,
A bright twin-sister from on high-
One in whose love, I felt, were given
The mixt delights of either sphere,
All that the spirit seeks in heaven,
And all the senses burn for here.

Had we-but hold!-hear every part
Of our sad tale-spite of the pain
Remembrance gives, when the fixt dart
Is stirred thus in the wound again-
Hear every step, so full of bliss,
And yet so ruinous, that led
Down to the last, dark precipice,
Where perisht both-the fallen, the dead!

From the first hour she caught my sight,
I never left her-day and night
Hovering unseen around her way,
And mid her loneliest musings near,
I soon could track each thought that lay,
Gleaming within her heart, as clear
As pebbles within brooks appear;
And there among the countless things
That keep young hearts for ever glowing-
Vague wishes, fond imaginings,
Love-dreams, as yet no object knowing-
Light, winged hopes that come when bid,
And rainbow joys that end in weeping;
And passions among pure thoughts hid,
Like serpents under flowerets sleeping:-
'Mong all these feelings-felt where'er
Young hearts are beating-I saw there
Proud thoughts, aspirings high-beyond
Whate'er yet dwelt in soul so fond-
Glimpses of glory, far away
Into the bright, vague future given;
And fancies, free and grand, whose play,
Like that of eaglets, is near heaven!
With this, too-what a soul and heart
To fall beneath the tempter's art!-
A zeal for knowledge, such as ne'er
Enshrined itself in form so fair,
Since that first, fatal hour, when Eve,
With every fruit of Eden blest
Save one alone-rather than leave
That one unreached, lost all the rest.

It was in dreams that first I stole
With gentle mastery o'er her mind-
In that rich twilight of the soul,
When reason's beam, half hid behind
The clouds of sleep, obscurely gilds
Each shadowy shape that Fancy builds-
'Twas then by that soft light I brought
Vague, glimmering visions to her view,-
Catches of radiance lost when caught,
Bright labyrinths that led to naught,
And vistas with no pathway thro';-
Dwellings of bliss that opening shone,
Then closed, dissolved, and left no trace-
All that, in short, could tempt Hope on,
But give her wing no resting-place;
Myself the while with brow as yet
Pure as the young moon's coronet,
Thro' every dream still in her sight.
The enchanter of each mocking scene,
Who gave the hope, then brought the blight,
Who said, 'Behold yon world of light,'
Then sudden dropt a veil between!

At length when I perceived each thought,
Waking or sleeping, fixt on naught
But these illusive scenes and me-
The phantom who thus came and went,
In half revealments, only meant
To madden curiosity-
When by such various arts I found
Her fancy to its utmost wound.
One night-'twas in a holy spot
Which she for prayer had chosen-a grot
Of purest marble built below
Her garden beds, thro' which a glow
From lamps invisible then stole,
Brightly pervading all the place-
Like that mysterious light the soul,
Itself unseen, sheds thro' the face.
There at her altar while she knelt,
And all that woman ever felt,
When God and man both claimed her sighs-
Every warm thought, that ever dwelt,
Like summer clouds, 'twixt earth and skies,
Too pure to fall, too gross to rise,
Spoke in her gestures, tones, and eyes-
Then, as the mystic light's soft ray
Grew softer still, as tho' its ray
Was breathed from her, I heard her say:-

'O idol of my dreams! whate'er
'Thy nature be-human, divine,
'Or but half heavenly-still too fair,
'Too heavenly to be ever mine!

'Wonderful Spirit who dost make
'Slumber so lovely that it seems
'No longer life to live awake,
'Since heaven itself descends in dreams,

'Why do I ever lose thee? why
'When on thy realms and thee I gaze
'Still drops that veil, which I could die,
'Oh! gladly, but one hour to raise?

'Long ere such miracles as thou
'And thine came o'er my thoughts, a thirst
'For light was in this soul which now
'Thy looks have into passion burst.

'There's nothing bright above, below,
'In sky-earth-ocean, that this breast
'Doth not intensely burn to know,
'And thee, thee, thee, o'er all the rest!

'Then come, oh Spirit, from behind
'The curtains of thy radiant home,
'If thou wouldst be as angel shrined,
'Or loved and claspt as mortal, come!

'Bring all thy dazzling wonders here,
'That I may, waking, know and see;
'Or waft me hence to thy own sphere,
'Thy heaven or-ay, even that with thee!

'Demon or God, who hold'st the book
'Of knowledge spread beneath thine eye,
'Give me, with thee, but one bright look
'Into its leaves and let me die!

'By those ethereal wings whose way
'Lies thro' an element so fraught
'With living Mind that as they play
'Their every movement is a thought!

'By that bright, wreathed hair, between
'Whose sunny clusters the sweet wind
'Of Paradise so late hath been
'And left its fragrant soul behind!

'By those impassioned eyes that melt
'Their light into the inmost heart,
'Like sunset in the waters, felt
'As molten fire thro' every part-

'I do implore thee, oh most bright
'And worshipt Spirit, shine but o'er
'My waking, wondering eyes this night
'This one blest night-I ask no more!'

Exhausted, breathless, as she said
These burning words, her languid head
Upon the altar's steps she cast,
As if that brain-throb were its last--

Till, startled by the breathing, nigh,
Of lips that echoed back her sigh,
Sudden her brow again she raised;
And there, just lighted on the shrine,
Beheld me-not as I had blazed
Around her, full of light divine,
In her late dreams, but softened down
Into more mortal grace;-my crown
Of flowers, too radiant for this world,
Left hanging on yon starry steep;
My wings shut up, like banners furled,
When Peace hath put their pomp to sleep;
Or like autumnal clouds that keep
Their lightnings sheathed rather than mar
The dawning hour of some young star;
And nothing left but what beseemed
The accessible, tho' glorious mate
Of mortal woman-whose eyes beamed
Back upon hers, as passionate;
Whose ready heart brought flame for flame,
Whose sin, whose madness was the same;
And whose soul lost in that one hour
For her and for her love-oh more
Of heaven's light than even the power
Of heaven itself could now restore!
And yet, that hour!-

The Spirit here
Stopt in his utterance as if words
Gave way beneath the wild career
Of his then rushing thoughts-like chords,
Midway in some enthusiast's song,
Breaking beneath a touch too strong;
While the clenched hand upon the brow
Told how remembrance throbbed there now!
But soon 'twas o'er-that casual blaze
From the sunk fire of other days-
That relic of a flame whose burning
Had been too fierce to be relumed,
Soon passt away, and the youth turning
To his bright listeners thus resumed:-

Days, months elapsed, and, tho' what most
On earth I sighed for was mine, all-
Yet-was I happy? God, thou know'st,
Howe'er they smile and feign and boast,
What happiness is theirs, who fall!
'Twas bitterest anguish-made more keen
Even by the love, the bliss, between
Whose throbs it came, like gleams of hell
In agonizing cross-light given
Athwart the glimpses, they who dwell
In purgatory catch of heaven!
The only feeling that to me
Seemed joy-or rather my sole rest
From aching misery-was to see
My young, proud, blooming LILIS blest.
She, the fair fountain of all ill
To my lost soul-whom yet its thirst
Fervidly panted after still,
And found the charm fresh as at first-
To see her happy-to reflect
Whatever beams still round me played
Of former pride, of glory wreckt,
On her, my Moon, whose light I made,
And whose soul worshipt even my shade-
This was, I own, enjoyment-this
My sole, last lingering glimpse of bliss.
And proud she was, fair creature!-proud,
Beyond what even most queenly stirs
In woman's heart, nor would have bowed
That beautiful young brow of hers
To aught beneath the First above,
So high she deemed her Cherub's love!

Then too that passion hourly growing
Stronger and stronger-to which even
Her love at times gave way-of knowing
Everything strange in earth and heaven;
Not only all that, full revealed,
The eternal ALLA loves to show,
But all that He hath wisely sealed
In darkness for man not to know-
Even this desire, alas! ill-starred
And fatal as it was, I sought
To feed each minute, and unbarred
Such realms of wonder on her thought
As ne'er till then had let their light
Escape on any mortal's sight!

In the deep earth-beneath the sea-
Thro' caves of fire-thro' wilds of air-
Wherever sleeping Mystery
Had spread her curtain, we were there-
Love still beside us as we went,
At home in each new element
And sure of worship everywhere!

Then first was Nature taught to lay
The wealth of all her kingdoms down
At woman's worshipt feet and say
'Bright creature, this is all thine own!'
Then first were diamonds from the night,
Of earth's deep centre brought to light
And made to grace the conquering way
Of proud young beauty with their ray.

Then too the pearl from out its shell
Unsightly, in the sunless sea,
(As 'twere a spirit, forced to dwell
In form unlovely) was set free,
And round the neck of woman threw
A light it lent and borrowed too.
For never did this maid-whate'er
The ambition of the hour-forget
Her sex's pride in being fair;
Nor that adornment, tasteful, rare,
Which makes the mighty magnet, set
In Woman's form, more mighty yet.
Nor was there aught within the range
Of my swift wing in sea or air,
Of beautiful or grand or strange,
That, quickly as her wish could change,
I did not seek, with such fond care,
That when I've seen her look above
At some bright star admiringly,
I've said, 'Nay, look not there, my love,
'Alas, I cannot give it thee!'

But not alone the wonders found
Thro' Nature's realm-the unveiled, material,
Visible glories, that abound
Thro' all her vast, enchanted ground-
But whatsoe'er unseen, ethereal,
Dwells far away from human sense,
Wrapt in its own intelligence-
The mystery of that Fountainhead,
From which all vital spirit runs,
All breath of Life, where'er 'tis spread
Thro' men or angels, flowers or suns-
The workings of the Almighty Mind,
When first o'er Chaos he designed
The outlines of this world, and thro'
That depth of darkness-like the bow,
Called out of rain-clouds hue by hue
Saw the grand, gradual picture grow;-
The covenant with human kind
By ALLA made-the chains of Fate
He round himself and them hath twined,
Till his high task he consummate;-
Till good from evil, love from hate,
Shall be workt out thro' sin and pain,
And Fate shall loose her iron chain
And all be free, be bright again!

Such were the deep-drawn mysteries,
And some, even more obscure, profound,
And wildering to the mind than these,
Which-far as woman's thought could sound,
Or a fallen, outlawed spirit reach-
She dared to learn and I to teach.
Till-filled with such unearthly lore,
And mingling the pure light it brings
With much that fancy had before
Shed in false, tinted glimmerings-
The enthusiast girl spoke out, as one
Inspired, among her own dark race,
Who from their ancient shrines would run,
Leaving their holy rites undone,
To gaze upon her holier face.
And tho' but wild the things she spoke,
Yet mid that play of error's smoke
Into fair shapes by fancy curled,
Some gleams of pure religion broke-
Glimpses that have not yet awoke,
But startled the still dreaming world!
Oh! many a truth, remote, sublime,
Which Heaven would from the minds of men
Have kept concealed till its own time,
Stole out in these revealments then-
Revealments dim that have forerun,
By ages, the great, Sealing One!
Like that imperfect dawn or light
Escaping from the Zodiac's signs,
Which makes the doubtful east half bright,
Before the real morning shines!

Thus did some moons of bliss go by-
Of bliss to her who saw but love
And knowledge throughout earth and sky;
To whose enamored soul and eye
I seemed-as is the sun on high-
The light of all below, above,
The spirit of sea and land and air,
Whose influence, felt everywhere,
Spread from its centre, her own heart,
Even to the world's extremest part;
While thro' that world her rainless mind
Had now careered so fast and far,
That earth itself seemed left behind
And her proud fancy unconfined
Already saw Heaven's gates ajar!

Happy enthusiast! still, oh! still
Spite of my own heart's mortal chill,
Spite of that double-fronted sorrow
Which looks at once before and back,
Beholds the yesterday, the morrow,
And sees both comfortless, both black-
Spite of all this, I could have still
In her delight forgot all ill;
Or if pain would not be forgot,
At least have borne and murmured not.
When thoughts of an offended heaven,
Of sinfulness, which I-even I,
While down its steep most headlong driven-
Well knew could never be forgiven,
Came o'er me with an agony
Beyond all reach of mortal woe-
A torture kept for those who know.

Know every thing, and-worst of all-
Know and love Virtue while they fall!
Even then her presence had the power
To soothe, to warm-nay, even to bless-
If ever bliss could graft its flower
On stem so full of bitterness-
Even then her glorious smile to me
Brought warmth and radiance if not balm;
Like moonlight o'er a troubled sea.
Brightening the storm it cannot calm.

Oft too when that disheartening fear,
Which all who love, beneath yon sky,
Feel when they gaze on what is dear-
The dreadful thought that it must die!
That desolating thought which comes
Into men's happiest hours and homes;
Whose melancholy boding flings
Death's shadow o'er the brightest things,
Sicklies the infant's bloom and spreads
The grave beneath young lovers' heads!
This fear, so sad to all-to me
Most full of sadness from the thought
That I most still live on, when she
Would, like the snow that on the sea
Fell yesterday, in vain be sought;
That heaven to me this final seal
Of all earth's sorrow would deny,
And I eternally must feel
The death-pang without power to die!

Even this, her fond endearments-fond
As ever cherisht the sweet bond
'Twixt heart and heart-could charm away;
Before her looks no clouds would stay,
Or if they did their gloom was gone,
Their darkness put a glory on!
But 'tis not, 'tis not for the wrong,
The guilty, to be happy long;
And she too now had sunk within
The shadow of her tempter's sin,
Too deep for even Omnipotence
To snatch the fated victim thence!
Listen and if a tear there be
Left in your hearts weep it for me.

'Twas on the evening of a day,
Which we in love had dreamt away;
In that same garden, where-the pride
Of seraph splendor laid aside,
And those wings furled, whose open light
For mortal gaze were else too bright-
I first had stood before her sight,
And found myself-oh, ecstasy,
Which even in pain I ne'er forget-
Worshipt as only God should be,
And loved as never man was yet!
In that same garden where we now,
Thoughtfully side by side reclining,
Her eyes turned upward and her brow
With its own silent fancies shining.

It was an evening bright and still
As ever blusht on wave or bower,
Smiling from heaven as if naught ill
Could happen in so sweet an hour.
Yet I remember both grew sad
In looking at that light-even she,
Of heart so fresh and brow so glad,
Felt the still hour's solemnity,
And thought she saw in that repose
The death-hour not alone of light,
But of this whole fair world-the close
Of all things beautiful and bright-
The last, grand sunset, in whose ray
Nature herself died calm away!

At length, as tho' some livelier thought
Had suddenly her fancy caught,
She turned upon me her dark eyes,
Dilated into that full shape
They took in joy, reproach, surprise,
As 'twere to let more soul escape,
And, playfully as on my head
Her white hand rested, smiled and said:-

'I had last night a dream of thee,
'Resembling those divine ones, given,
'Like preludes to sweet minstrelsy,
'Before thou camest thyself from heaven.

'The same rich wreath was on thy brow,
'Dazzling as if of starlight made;
'And these wings, lying darkly now,
'Like meteors round thee flasht and played.

'Thou stoodest, all bright, as in those dreams,
'As if just wafted from above,
'Mingling earth's warmth with heaven's beams,
'And creature to adore and love.

'Sudden I felt thee draw me near
'To thy pure heart, where, fondly placed,
'I seemed within the atmosphere
'Of that exhaling light embraced;

'And felt methought the ethereal flame
'Pass from thy purer soul to mine;
'Till-oh, too blissful-I became,
'Like thee, all spirit, all divine!

'Say, why did dream so blest come o'er me,
'If, now I wake, 'tis faded, gone?
'When will my Cherub shine before me
'Thus radiant, as in heaven he shone?

'When shall I, waking, be allowed
'To gaze upon those perfect charms,
'And clasp thee once without a cloud,
'A chill of earth, within these arms?

'Oh what a pride to say, this, this
'Is my own Angel-all divine,
'And pure and dazzling as he is
'And fresh from heaven-he's mine, he's mine!

'Thinkest thou, were LILIS in thy place,
'A creature of yon lofty skies,
'She would have hid one single grace,
'One glory from her lover's eyes?

'No, no-then, if thou lovest like me,
'Shine out, young Spirit in the blaze
'Of thy most proud divinity,
'Nor think thou'lt wound this mortal gaze.

'Too long and oft I've looked upon
'Those ardent eyes, intense even thus-
'Too near the stars themselves have gone,
'To fear aught grand or luminous.

'Then doubt me not-oh! who can say
'But that this dream may yet come true
'And my blest spirit drink thy ray,
'Till it becomes all heavenly too?

'Let me this once but feel the flame
'Of those spread wings, the very pride
'Will change my nature, and this frame
'By the mere touch be deified!'

Thus spoke the maid, as one not used
To be by earth or heaven refused-
As one who knew her influence o'er
All creatures, whatsoe'er they were,
And tho' to heaven she could not soar,
At least would bring down heaven to her.

Little did she, alas! or I-
Even I, whose soul, but halfway yet
Immerged in sin's obscurity
Was as the earth whereon we lie,
O'er half whose disk the sun is set-
Little did we foresee the fate,
The dreadful-how can it be told?
Such pain, such anguish to relate
Is o'er again to feel, behold!
But, charged as 'tis, my heart must speak
Its sorrow out or it will break!
Some dark misgivings had, I own,
Past for a moment thro' my breast-
Fears of some danger, vague, unknown,
To one, or both-something unblest
To happen from this proud request.

But soon these boding fancies fled;
Nor saw I aught that could forbid
My full revealment save the dread
Of that first dazzle, when, unhid,
Such light should burst upon a lid
Ne'er tried in heaven;-and even this glare
She might, by love's own nursing care,
Be, like young eagles, taught to bear.
For well I knew, the lustre shed
From cherub wings, when proudliest spread,
Was in its nature lambent, pure,
And innocent as is the light
The glow-worm hangs out to allure
Her mate to her green bower at night.
Oft had I in the mid-air swept
Thro' clouds in which the lightning slept,
As in its lair, ready to spring,
Yet waked it not-tho' from my wing
A thousand sparks fell glittering!
Oft too when round me from above
The feathered snow in all its whiteness,
Fell like the moultings of heaven's Dove,-
So harmless, tho' so full of brightness,
Was my brow's wreath that it would shake
From off its flowers each downy flake
As delicate, unmelted, fair,
And cool as they had lighted there.

Nay even with LILIS-had I not
Around her sleep all radiant beamed,
Hung o'er her slumbers nor forgot
To kiss her eyelids as she dreamed?
And yet at morn from that repose,
Had she not waked, unscathed and bright,
As doth the pure, unconscious rose
Tho' by the fire-fly kist all night?

Thus having-as, alas! deceived
By my sin's blindness, I believed-
No cause for dread and those dark eyes
Now fixt upon me eagerly
As tho' the unlocking of the skies
Then waited but a sign from me-
How could I pause? how even let fall
A word; a whisper that could stir
In her proud heart a doubt that all
I brought from heaven belonged to her?
Slow from her side I rose, while she
Arose too, mutely, tremblingly,
But not with fear-all hope, and pride,
She waited for the awful boon,
Like priestesses at eventide
Watching the rise of the full moon
Whose light, when once its orb hath shone,
'Twill madden them to look upon!

Of all my glories, the bright crown
Which when I last from heaven came down
Was left behind me in yon star
That shines from out those clouds afar-
Where, relic sad, 'tis treasured yet,
The downfallen angel's coronet!-
Of all my glories, this alone
Was wanting:-but the illumined brow,
The sun-bright locks, the eyes that now
Had love's spell added to their own,
And poured a light till then unknown;-
The unfolded wings that in their play
Shed sparkles bright as ALLA'S throne;
All I could bring of heaven's array,
Of that rich panoply of charms
A Cherub moves in, on the day
Of his best pomp, I now put on;
And, proud that in her eyes I shone
Thus glorious, glided to her arms;
Which still (tho', at a sight so splendid,
Her dazzled brow had instantly
Sunk on her breast), were wide extended
To clasp the form she durst not see!
Great Heaven! how could thy vengeance light
So bitterly on one so bright?
How could the hand that gave such charms,
Blast them again in love's own arms?
Scarce had I touched her shrinking frame,
When-oh most horrible!-I felt
That every spark of that pure flame-
Pure, while among the stars I dwelt-
Was now by my transgression turned
Into gross, earthly fire, which burned,
Burned all it touched as fast as eye
Could follow the fierce, ravening flashes;
Till there-oh God, I still ask why
Such doom was hers?-I saw her lie
Blackening within my arms to ashes!
That brow, a glory but to see-
Those lips whose touch was what the first
Fresh cup of immortality
Is to a new-made angel's thirst!

Those clasping arms, within whose round-
My heart's horizon-the whole bound
Of its hope, prospect, heaven was found!
Which, even in this dread moment, fond
As when they first were round me cast,
Loosed not in death the fatal bond,
But, burning, held me to the last!
All, all, that, but that morn, had seemed
As if Love's self there breathed and beamed,
Now parched and black before me lay,
Withering in agony away;
And mine, oh misery! mine the flame
From which this desolation came;-
I, the curst spirit whose caress
Had blasted all that loveliness!

'Twas maddening!-but now hear even worse-
Had death, death only, been the curse
I brought upon her-had the doom
But ended here, when her young bloom
Lay in the dust-and did the spirit
No part of that fell curse inherit,
'Twere not so dreadful-but, come near-
Too shocking 'tis for earth to hear-
Just when her eyes in fading took
Their last, keen, agonized farewell,
And looked in mine with-oh, that look!
Great vengeful Power, whate'er the hell
Thou mayst to human souls assign,
The memory of that look is mine!-

In her last struggle, on my brow
Her ashy lips a kiss imprest,
So withering!-I feel it now-
'Twas fire-but fire, even more unblest
Than was my own, and like that flame,
The angels shudder but to name,
Hell's everlasting element!
Deep, deep it pierced into my brain,
Maddening and torturing as it went;
And here, mark here, the brand, the stain
It left upon my front-burnt in
By that last kiss of love and sin-
A brand which all the pomp and pride
Of a fallen Spirit cannot hide!

But is it thus, dread Providence-
Can it indeed be thus, that she
Who, (but for one proud, fond offence,)
Had honored heaven itself, should be
Now doomed-I cannot speak it-no,
Merciful ALLA! 'tis not so-
Never could lips divine have said
The fiat of a fate so dread.
And yet, that look-so deeply fraught
With more than anguish, with despair-
That new, fierce fire, resembling naught
In heaven or earth-this scorch I bear!-
Oh-for the first time that these knees
Have bent before thee since my fall,
Great Power, if ever thy decrees
Thou couldst for prayer like mine recall,
Pardon that spirit, and on me,
On me, who taught her pride to err,
Shed out each drop of agony
Thy burning phial keeps for her!
See too where low beside me kneel
Two other outcasts who, tho' gone
And lost themselves, yet dare to feel
And pray for that poor mortal one.
Alas, too well, too well they know
The pain, the penitence, the woe
That Passion brings upon the best,
The wisest, and the loveliest.-
Oh! who is to be saved, if such
Bright, erring souls are not forgiven;
So loath they wander, and so much
Their very wanderings lean towards heaven!
Again I cry. Just Power, transfer
That creature's sufferings all to me-
Mine, mine the guilt, the torment be,
To save one minute's pain to her,
Let mine last all eternity!

He paused and to the earth bent down
His throbbing head; while they who felt
That agony as 'twere their own,
Those angel youths, beside him knelt,
And in the night's still silence there,
While mournfully each wandering air
Played in those plumes that never more
To their lost home in heaven must soar,
Breathed inwardly the voiceless prayer,
Unheard by all but Mercy's ear-
And which if Mercy did not hear,
Oh, God would not be what this bright
And glorious universe of His,
This world of beauty, goodness, light
And endless love proclaims He is!

Not long they knelt, when from a wood
That crowned that airy solitude,
They heard a low, uncertain sound,
As from a lute, that just had found
Some happy theme and murmured round
The new-born fancy, with fond tone,
Scarce thinking aught so sweet its own!
Till soon a voice, that matched as well
That gentle instrument, as suits
The sea-air to an ocean-shell,
(So kin its spirit to the lute's),
Tremblingly followed the soft strain,
Interpreting its joy, its pain,
And lending the light wings of words
To many a thought that else had lain
Unfledged and mute among the chords.

All started at the sound-but chief
The third young Angel in whose face,
Tho' faded like the others, grief
Had left a gentler, holier trace;
As if, even yet, thro' pain and ill,
Hope had not fled him-as if still
Her precious pearl in sorrow's cup
Unmelted at the bottom lay,
To shine again, when, all drunk up,
The bitterness should pass away.
Chiefly did he, tho' in his eyes
There shone more pleasure than surprise,
Turn to the wood from whence that sound
Of solitary sweetness broke;
Then, listening, look delighted round
To his bright peers, while thus it spoke:-
'Come, pray with me, my seraph love,
'My angel-lord, come pray with me:
'In vain to-night my lips hath strove
'To send one holy prayer above-
'The knee may bend, the lip may move,
'But pray I cannot, without thee!
'I've fed the altar in my bower
'With droppings from the incense tree;
'I've sheltered it from wind and shower,
'But dim it burns the livelong hour,
'As if, like me, it had no power
'Of life or lustre without thee!

'A boat at midnight sent alone
'To drift upon the moonless sea,
'A lute, whose leading chord is gone,
'A wounded bird that hath but one
'Imperfect wing to soar upon,
'Are like what I am without thee!

'Then ne'er, my spirit-love, divide,
'In life or death, thyself from me;
'But when again in sunny pride
'Thou walk'st thro' Eden, let me glide,
'A prostrate shadow, by thy side-
'Oh happier thus than without thee!'

The song had ceased when from the wood
Which sweeping down that airy height,
Reached the lone spot whereon they stood-
There suddenly shone out a light
From a clear lamp, which, as it blazed
Across the brow of one, who raised
Its flame aloft (as if to throw
The light upon that group below),
Displayed two eyes sparkling between
The dusky leaves, such as are seen
By fancy only, in those faces,
That haunt a poet's walk at even,
Looking from out their leafy places
Upon his dreams of love and heaven.
'Twas but a moment-the blush brought
O'er all her features at the thought
Of being seen thus, late, alone,
By any but the eyes she sought,
Had scarcely for an instant shore
Thro' the dark leaves when she was gone-
Gone, like a meteor that o'erhead
Suddenly shines, and, ere we've said,
'Behold, how beautiful!'-'tis fled,
Yet ere she went the words, 'I come,
'I come, my NAMA,' reached her ear,
In that kind voice, familiar, dear,
Which tells of confidence, of home,-
Of habit, that hath drawn hearts near,
Till they grow one,-of faith sincere,
And all that Love most loves to hear;
A music breathing of the past,
The present and the time to be,
Where Hope and Memory to the last
Lengthen out life's true harmony!

Nor long did he whom call so kind
Summoned away remain behind:
Nor did there need much time to tell
What they-alas! more fallen than he
From happiness and heaven-knew well,
His gentler love's short history!

Thus did it run-not as he told
The tale himself, but as 'tis graved
Upon the tablets that, of old,
By SETH were from the deluge saved,
All written over with sublime
And saddening legends of the unblest
But glorious Spirits of that time,
And this young Angel's 'mong the rest.


Third Angel's Story

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The Georgics

GEORGIC I

What makes the cornfield smile; beneath what star
Maecenas, it is meet to turn the sod
Or marry elm with vine; how tend the steer;
What pains for cattle-keeping, or what proof
Of patient trial serves for thrifty bees;-
Such are my themes.
O universal lights
Most glorious! ye that lead the gliding year
Along the sky, Liber and Ceres mild,
If by your bounty holpen earth once changed
Chaonian acorn for the plump wheat-ear,
And mingled with the grape, your new-found gift,
The draughts of Achelous; and ye Fauns
To rustics ever kind, come foot it, Fauns
And Dryad-maids together; your gifts I sing.
And thou, for whose delight the war-horse first
Sprang from earth's womb at thy great trident's stroke,
Neptune; and haunter of the groves, for whom
Three hundred snow-white heifers browse the brakes,
The fertile brakes of Ceos; and clothed in power,
Thy native forest and Lycean lawns,
Pan, shepherd-god, forsaking, as the love
Of thine own Maenalus constrains thee, hear
And help, O lord of Tegea! And thou, too,
Minerva, from whose hand the olive sprung;
And boy-discoverer of the curved plough;
And, bearing a young cypress root-uptorn,
Silvanus, and Gods all and Goddesses,
Who make the fields your care, both ye who nurse
The tender unsown increase, and from heaven
Shed on man's sowing the riches of your rain:
And thou, even thou, of whom we know not yet
What mansion of the skies shall hold thee soon,
Whether to watch o'er cities be thy will,
Great Caesar, and to take the earth in charge,
That so the mighty world may welcome thee
Lord of her increase, master of her times,
Binding thy mother's myrtle round thy brow,
Or as the boundless ocean's God thou come,
Sole dread of seamen, till far Thule bow
Before thee, and Tethys win thee to her son
With all her waves for dower; or as a star
Lend thy fresh beams our lagging months to cheer,
Where 'twixt the Maid and those pursuing Claws
A space is opening; see! red Scorpio's self
His arms draws in, yea, and hath left thee more
Than thy full meed of heaven: be what thou wilt-
For neither Tartarus hopes to call thee king,
Nor may so dire a lust of sovereignty
E'er light upon thee, howso Greece admire
Elysium's fields, and Proserpine not heed
Her mother's voice entreating to return-
Vouchsafe a prosperous voyage, and smile on this
My bold endeavour, and pitying, even as I,
These poor way-wildered swains, at once begin,
Grow timely used unto the voice of prayer.
In early spring-tide, when the icy drip
Melts from the mountains hoar, and Zephyr's breath
Unbinds the crumbling clod, even then 'tis time;
Press deep your plough behind the groaning ox,
And teach the furrow-burnished share to shine.
That land the craving farmer's prayer fulfils,
Which twice the sunshine, twice the frost has felt;
Ay, that's the land whose boundless harvest-crops
Burst, see! the barns.
But ere our metal cleave
An unknown surface, heed we to forelearn
The winds and varying temper of the sky,
The lineal tilth and habits of the spot,
What every region yields, and what denies.
Here blithelier springs the corn, and here the grape,
There earth is green with tender growth of trees
And grass unbidden. See how from Tmolus comes
The saffron's fragrance, ivory from Ind,
From Saba's weakling sons their frankincense,
Iron from the naked Chalybs, castor rank
From Pontus, from Epirus the prize-palms
O' the mares of Elis.
Such the eternal bond
And such the laws by Nature's hand imposed
On clime and clime, e'er since the primal dawn
When old Deucalion on the unpeopled earth
Cast stones, whence men, a flinty race, were reared.
Up then! if fat the soil, let sturdy bulls
Upturn it from the year's first opening months,
And let the clods lie bare till baked to dust
By the ripe suns of summer; but if the earth
Less fruitful just ere Arcturus rise
With shallower trench uptilt it- 'twill suffice;
There, lest weeds choke the crop's luxuriance, here,
Lest the scant moisture fail the barren sand.
Then thou shalt suffer in alternate years
The new-reaped fields to rest, and on the plain
A crust of sloth to harden; or, when stars
Are changed in heaven, there sow the golden grain
Where erst, luxuriant with its quivering pod,
Pulse, or the slender vetch-crop, thou hast cleared,
And lupin sour, whose brittle stalks arise,
A hurtling forest. For the plain is parched
By flax-crop, parched by oats, by poppies parched
In Lethe-slumber drenched. Nathless by change
The travailing earth is lightened, but stint not
With refuse rich to soak the thirsty soil,
And shower foul ashes o'er the exhausted fields.
Thus by rotation like repose is gained,
Nor earth meanwhile uneared and thankless left.
Oft, too, 'twill boot to fire the naked fields,
And the light stubble burn with crackling flames;
Whether that earth therefrom some hidden strength
And fattening food derives, or that the fire
Bakes every blemish out, and sweats away
Each useless humour, or that the heat unlocks
New passages and secret pores, whereby
Their life-juice to the tender blades may win;
Or that it hardens more and helps to bind
The gaping veins, lest penetrating showers,
Or fierce sun's ravening might, or searching blast
Of the keen north should sear them. Well, I wot,
He serves the fields who with his harrow breaks
The sluggish clods, and hurdles osier-twined
Hales o'er them; from the far Olympian height
Him golden Ceres not in vain regards;
And he, who having ploughed the fallow plain
And heaved its furrowy ridges, turns once more
Cross-wise his shattering share, with stroke on stroke
The earth assails, and makes the field his thrall.
Pray for wet summers and for winters fine,
Ye husbandmen; in winter's dust the crops
Exceedingly rejoice, the field hath joy;
No tilth makes Mysia lift her head so high,
Nor Gargarus his own harvests so admire.
Why tell of him, who, having launched his seed,
Sets on for close encounter, and rakes smooth
The dry dust hillocks, then on the tender corn
Lets in the flood, whose waters follow fain;
And when the parched field quivers, and all the blades
Are dying, from the brow of its hill-bed,
See! see! he lures the runnel; down it falls,
Waking hoarse murmurs o'er the polished stones,
And with its bubblings slakes the thirsty fields?
Or why of him, who lest the heavy ears
O'erweigh the stalk, while yet in tender blade
Feeds down the crop's luxuriance, when its growth
First tops the furrows? Why of him who drains
The marsh-land's gathered ooze through soaking sand,
Chiefly what time in treacherous moons a stream
Goes out in spate, and with its coat of slime
Holds all the country, whence the hollow dykes
Sweat steaming vapour?
But no whit the more
For all expedients tried and travail borne
By man and beast in turning oft the soil,
Do greedy goose and Strymon-haunting cranes
And succory's bitter fibres cease to harm,
Or shade not injure. The great Sire himself
No easy road to husbandry assigned,
And first was he by human skill to rouse
The slumbering glebe, whetting the minds of men
With care on care, nor suffering realm of his
In drowsy sloth to stagnate. Before Jove
Fields knew no taming hand of husbandmen;
To mark the plain or mete with boundary-line-
Even this was impious; for the common stock
They gathered, and the earth of her own will
All things more freely, no man bidding, bore.
He to black serpents gave their venom-bane,
And bade the wolf go prowl, and ocean toss;
Shook from the leaves their honey, put fire away,
And curbed the random rivers running wine,
That use by gradual dint of thought on thought
Might forge the various arts, with furrow's help
The corn-blade win, and strike out hidden fire
From the flint's heart. Then first the streams were ware
Of hollowed alder-hulls: the sailor then
Their names and numbers gave to star and star,
Pleiads and Hyads, and Lycaon's child
Bright Arctos; how with nooses then was found
To catch wild beasts, and cozen them with lime,
And hem with hounds the mighty forest-glades.
Soon one with hand-net scourges the broad stream,
Probing its depths, one drags his dripping toils
Along the main; then iron's unbending might,
And shrieking saw-blade,- for the men of old
With wedges wont to cleave the splintering log;-
Then divers arts arose; toil conquered all,
Remorseless toil, and poverty's shrewd push
In times of hardship. Ceres was the first
Set mortals on with tools to turn the sod,
When now the awful groves 'gan fail to bear
Acorns and arbutes, and her wonted food
Dodona gave no more. Soon, too, the corn
Gat sorrow's increase, that an evil blight
Ate up the stalks, and thistle reared his spines
An idler in the fields; the crops die down;
Upsprings instead a shaggy growth of burrs
And caltrops; and amid the corn-fields trim
Unfruitful darnel and wild oats have sway.
Wherefore, unless thou shalt with ceaseless rake
The weeds pursue, with shouting scare the birds,
Prune with thy hook the dark field's matted shade,
Pray down the showers, all vainly thou shalt eye,
Alack! thy neighbour's heaped-up harvest-mow,
And in the greenwood from a shaken oak
Seek solace for thine hunger.
Now to tell
The sturdy rustics' weapons, what they are,
Without which, neither can be sown nor reared
The fruits of harvest; first the bent plough's share
And heavy timber, and slow-lumbering wains
Of the Eleusinian mother, threshing-sleighs
And drags, and harrows with their crushing weight;
Then the cheap wicker-ware of Celeus old,
Hurdles of arbute, and thy mystic fan,
Iacchus; which, full tale, long ere the time
Thou must with heed lay by, if thee await
Not all unearned the country's crown divine.
While yet within the woods, the elm is tamed
And bowed with mighty force to form the stock,
And take the plough's curved shape, then nigh the root
A pole eight feet projecting, earth-boards twain,
And share-beam with its double back they fix.
For yoke is early hewn a linden light,
And a tall beech for handle, from behind
To turn the car at lowest: then o'er the hearth
The wood they hang till the smoke knows it well.
Many the precepts of the men of old
I can recount thee, so thou start not back,
And such slight cares to learn not weary thee.
And this among the first: thy threshing-floor
With ponderous roller must be levelled smooth,
And wrought by hand, and fixed with binding chalk,
Lest weeds arise, or dust a passage win
Splitting the surface, then a thousand plagues
Make sport of it: oft builds the tiny mouse
Her home, and plants her granary, underground,
Or burrow for their bed the purblind moles,
Or toad is found in hollows, and all the swarm
Of earth's unsightly creatures; or a huge
Corn-heap the weevil plunders, and the ant,
Fearful of coming age and penury.
Mark too, what time the walnut in the woods
With ample bloom shall clothe her, and bow down
Her odorous branches, if the fruit prevail,
Like store of grain will follow, and there shall come
A mighty winnowing-time with mighty heat;
But if the shade with wealth of leaves abound,
Vainly your threshing-floor will bruise the stalks
Rich but in chaff. Many myself have seen
Steep, as they sow, their pulse-seeds, drenching them
With nitre and black oil-lees, that the fruit
Might swell within the treacherous pods, and they
Make speed to boil at howso small a fire.
Yet, culled with caution, proved with patient toil,
These have I seen degenerate, did not man
Put forth his hand with power, and year by year
Choose out the largest. So, by fate impelled,
Speed all things to the worse, and backward borne
Glide from us; even as who with struggling oars
Up stream scarce pulls a shallop, if he chance
His arms to slacken, lo! with headlong force
The current sweeps him down the hurrying tide.
Us too behoves Arcturus' sign observe,
And the Kids' seasons and the shining Snake,
No less than those who o'er the windy main
Borne homeward tempt the Pontic, and the jaws
Of oyster-rife Abydos. When the Scales
Now poising fair the hours of sleep and day
Give half the world to sunshine, half to shade,
Then urge your bulls, my masters; sow the plain
Even to the verge of tameless winter's showers
With barley: then, too, time it is to hide
Your flax in earth, and poppy, Ceres' joy,
Aye, more than time to bend above the plough,
While earth, yet dry, forbids not, and the clouds
Are buoyant. With the spring comes bean-sowing;
Thee, too, Lucerne, the crumbling furrows then
Receive, and millet's annual care returns,
What time the white bull with his gilded horns
Opens the year, before whose threatening front,
Routed the dog-star sinks. But if it be
For wheaten harvest and the hardy spelt,
Thou tax the soil, to corn-ears wholly given,
Let Atlas' daughters hide them in the dawn,
The Cretan star, a crown of fire, depart,
Or e'er the furrow's claim of seed thou quit,
Or haste thee to entrust the whole year's hope
To earth that would not. Many have begun
Ere Maia's star be setting; these, I trow,
Their looked-for harvest fools with empty ears.
But if the vetch and common kidney-bean
Thou'rt fain to sow, nor scorn to make thy care
Pelusiac lentil, no uncertain sign
Bootes' fall will send thee; then begin,
Pursue thy sowing till half the frosts be done.
Therefore it is the golden sun, his course
Into fixed parts dividing, rules his way
Through the twelve constellations of the world.
Five zones the heavens contain; whereof is one
Aye red with flashing sunlight, fervent aye
From fire; on either side to left and right
Are traced the utmost twain, stiff with blue ice,
And black with scowling storm-clouds, and betwixt
These and the midmost, other twain there lie,
By the Gods' grace to heart-sick mortals given,
And a path cleft between them, where might wheel
On sloping plane the system of the Signs.
And as toward Scythia and Rhipaean heights
The world mounts upward, likewise sinks it down
Toward Libya and the south, this pole of ours
Still towering high, that other, 'neath their feet,
By dark Styx frowned on, and the abysmal shades.
Here glides the huge Snake forth with sinuous coils
'Twixt the two Bears and round them river-wise-
The Bears that fear 'neath Ocean's brim to dip.
There either, say they, reigns the eternal hush
Of night that knows no seasons, her black pall
Thick-mantling fold on fold; or thitherward
From us returning Dawn brings back the day;
And when the first breath of his panting steeds
On us the Orient flings, that hour with them
Red Vesper 'gins to trim his his 'lated fires.
Hence under doubtful skies forebode we can
The coming tempests, hence both harvest-day
And seed-time, when to smite the treacherous main
With driving oars, when launch the fair-rigged fleet,
Or in ripe hour to fell the forest-pine.
Hence, too, not idly do we watch the stars-
Their rising and their setting-and the year,
Four varying seasons to one law conformed.
If chilly showers e'er shut the farmer's door,
Much that had soon with sunshine cried for haste,
He may forestall; the ploughman batters keen
His blunted share's hard tooth, scoops from a tree
His troughs, or on the cattle stamps a brand,
Or numbers on the corn-heaps; some make sharp
The stakes and two-pronged forks, and willow-bands
Amerian for the bending vine prepare.
Now let the pliant basket plaited be
Of bramble-twigs; now set your corn to parch
Before the fire; now bruise it with the stone.
Nay even on holy days some tasks to ply
Is right and lawful: this no ban forbids,
To turn the runnel's course, fence corn-fields in,
Make springes for the birds, burn up the briars,
And plunge in wholesome stream the bleating flock.
Oft too with oil or apples plenty-cheap
The creeping ass's ribs his driver packs,
And home from town returning brings instead
A dented mill-stone or black lump of pitch.
The moon herself in various rank assigns
The days for labour lucky: fly the fifth;
Then sprang pale Orcus and the Eumenides;
Earth then in awful labour brought to light
Coeus, Iapetus, and Typhoeus fell,
And those sworn brethren banded to break down
The gates of heaven; thrice, sooth to say, they strove
Ossa on Pelion's top to heave and heap,
Aye, and on Ossa to up-roll amain
Leafy Olympus; thrice with thunderbolt
Their mountain-stair the Sire asunder smote.
Seventh after tenth is lucky both to set
The vine in earth, and take and tame the steer,
And fix the leashes to the warp; the ninth
To runagates is kinder, cross to thieves.
Many the tasks that lightlier lend themselves
In chilly night, or when the sun is young,
And Dawn bedews the world. By night 'tis best
To reap light stubble, and parched fields by night;
For nights the suppling moisture never fails.
And one will sit the long late watches out
By winter fire-light, shaping with keen blade
The torches to a point; his wife the while,
Her tedious labour soothing with a song,
Speeds the shrill comb along the warp, or else
With Vulcan's aid boils the sweet must-juice down,
And skims with leaves the quivering cauldron's wave.
But ruddy Ceres in mid heat is mown,
And in mid heat the parched ears are bruised
Upon the floor; to plough strip, strip to sow;
Winter's the lazy time for husbandmen.
In the cold season farmers wont to taste
The increase of their toil, and yield themselves
To mutual interchange of festal cheer.
Boon winter bids them, and unbinds their cares,
As laden keels, when now the port they touch,
And happy sailors crown the sterns with flowers.
Nathless then also time it is to strip
Acorns from oaks, and berries from the bay,
Olives, and bleeding myrtles, then to set
Snares for the crane, and meshes for the stag,
And hunt the long-eared hares, then pierce the doe
With whirl of hempen-thonged Balearic sling,
While snow lies deep, and streams are drifting ice.
What need to tell of autumn's storms and stars,
And wherefore men must watch, when now the day
Grows shorter, and more soft the summer's heat?
When Spring the rain-bringer comes rushing down,
Or when the beards of harvest on the plain
Bristle already, and the milky corn
On its green stalk is swelling? Many a time,
When now the farmer to his yellow fields
The reaping-hind came bringing, even in act
To lop the brittle barley stems, have I
Seen all the windy legions clash in war
Together, as to rend up far and wide
The heavy corn-crop from its lowest roots,
And toss it skyward: so might winter's flaw,
Dark-eddying, whirl light stalks and flying straws.
Oft too comes looming vast along the sky
A march of waters; mustering from above,
The clouds roll up the tempest, heaped and grim
With angry showers: down falls the height of heaven,
And with a great rain floods the smiling crops,
The oxen's labour: now the dikes fill fast,
And the void river-beds swell thunderously,
And all the panting firths of Ocean boil.
The Sire himself in midnight of the clouds
Wields with red hand the levin; through all her bulk
Earth at the hurly quakes; the beasts are fled,
And mortal hearts of every kindred sunk
In cowering terror; he with flaming brand
Athos, or Rhodope, or Ceraunian crags
Precipitates: then doubly raves the South
With shower on blinding shower, and woods and coasts
Wail fitfully beneath the mighty blast.
This fearing, mark the months and Signs of heaven,
Whither retires him Saturn's icy star,
And through what heavenly cycles wandereth
The glowing orb Cyllenian. Before all
Worship the Gods, and to great Ceres pay
Her yearly dues upon the happy sward
With sacrifice, anigh the utmost end
Of winter, and when Spring begins to smile.
Then lambs are fat, and wines are mellowest then;
Then sleep is sweet, and dark the shadows fall
Upon the mountains. Let your rustic youth
To Ceres do obeisance, one and all;
And for her pleasure thou mix honeycombs
With milk and the ripe wine-god; thrice for luck
Around the young corn let the victim go,
And all the choir, a joyful company,
Attend it, and with shouts bid Ceres come
To be their house-mate; and let no man dare
Put sickle to the ripened ears until,
With woven oak his temples chapleted,
He foot the rugged dance and chant the lay.
Aye, and that these things we might win to know
By certain tokens, heats, and showers, and winds
That bring the frost, the Sire of all himself
Ordained what warnings in her monthly round
The moon should give, what bodes the south wind's fall,
What oft-repeated sights the herdsman seeing
Should keep his cattle closer to their stalls.
No sooner are the winds at point to rise,
Than either Ocean's firths begin to toss
And swell, and a dry crackling sound is heard
Upon the heights, or one loud ferment booms
The beach afar, and through the forest goes
A murmur multitudinous. By this
Scarce can the billow spare the curved keels,
When swift the sea-gulls from the middle main
Come winging, and their shrieks are shoreward borne,
When ocean-loving cormorants on dry land
Besport them, and the hern, her marshy haunts
Forsaking, mounts above the soaring cloud.
Oft, too, when wind is toward, the stars thou'lt see
From heaven shoot headlong, and through murky night
Long trails of fire white-glistening in their wake,
Or light chaff flit in air with fallen leaves,
Or feathers on the wave-top float and play.
But when from regions of the furious North
It lightens, and when thunder fills the halls
Of Eurus and of Zephyr, all the fields
With brimming dikes are flooded, and at sea
No mariner but furls his dripping sails.
Never at unawares did shower annoy:
Or, as it rises, the high-soaring cranes
Flee to the vales before it, with face
Upturned to heaven, the heifer snuffs the gale
Through gaping nostrils, or about the meres
Shrill-twittering flits the swallow, and the frogs
Crouch in the mud and chant their dirge of old.
Oft, too, the ant from out her inmost cells,
Fretting the narrow path, her eggs conveys;
Or the huge bow sucks moisture; or a host
Of rooks from food returning in long line
Clamour with jostling wings. Now mayst thou see
The various ocean-fowl and those that pry
Round Asian meads within thy fresher-pools,
Cayster, as in eager rivalry,
About their shoulders dash the plenteous spray,
Now duck their head beneath the wave, now run
Into the billows, for sheer idle joy
Of their mad bathing-revel. Then the crow
With full voice, good-for-naught, inviting rain,
Stalks on the dry sand mateless and alone.
Nor e'en the maids, that card their nightly task,
Know not the storm-sign, when in blazing crock
They see the lamp-oil sputtering with a growth
Of mouldy snuff-clots.
So too, after rain,
Sunshine and open skies thou mayst forecast,
And learn by tokens sure, for then nor dimmed
Appear the stars' keen edges, nor the moon
As borrowing of her brother's beams to rise,
Nor fleecy films to float along the sky.
Not to the sun's warmth then upon the shore
Do halcyons dear to Thetis ope their wings,
Nor filthy swine take thought to toss on high
With scattering snout the straw-wisps. But the clouds
Seek more the vales, and rest upon the plain,
And from the roof-top the night-owl for naught
Watching the sunset plies her 'lated song.
Distinct in clearest air is Nisus seen
Towering, and Scylla for the purple lock
Pays dear; for whereso, as she flies, her wings
The light air winnow, lo! fierce, implacable,
Nisus with mighty whirr through heaven pursues;
Where Nisus heavenward soareth, there her wings
Clutch as she flies, the light air winnowing still.
Soft then the voice of rooks from indrawn throat
Thrice, four times, o'er repeated, and full oft
On their high cradles, by some hidden joy
Gladdened beyond their wont, in bustling throngs
Among the leaves they riot; so sweet it is,
When showers are spent, their own loved nests again
And tender brood to visit. Not, I deem,
That heaven some native wit to these assigned,
Or fate a larger prescience, but that when
The storm and shifting moisture of the air
Have changed their courses, and the sky-god now,
Wet with the south-wind, thickens what was rare,
And what was gross releases, then, too, change
Their spirits' fleeting phases, and their breasts
Feel other motions now, than when the wind
Was driving up the cloud-rack. Hence proceeds
That blending of the feathered choirs afield,
The cattle's exultation, and the rooks'
Deep-throated triumph.
But if the headlong sun
And moons in order following thou regard,
Ne'er will to-morrow's hour deceive thee, ne'er
Wilt thou be caught by guile of cloudless night.
When first the moon recalls her rallying fires,
If dark the air clipped by her crescent dim,
For folks afield and on the open sea
A mighty rain is brewing; but if her face
With maiden blush she mantle, 'twill be wind,
For wind turns Phoebe still to ruddier gold.
But if at her fourth rising, for 'tis that
Gives surest counsel, clear she ride thro' heaven
With horns unblunted, then shall that whole day,
And to the month's end those that spring from it,
Rainless and windless be, while safe ashore
Shall sailors pay their vows to Panope,
Glaucus, and Melicertes, Ino's child.
The sun too, both at rising, and when soon
He dives beneath the waves, shall yield thee signs;
For signs, none trustier, travel with the sun,
Both those which in their course with dawn he brings,
And those at star-rise. When his springing orb
With spots he pranketh, muffled in a cloud,
And shrinks mid-circle, then of showers beware;
For then the South comes driving from the deep,
To trees and crops and cattle bringing bane.
Or when at day-break through dark clouds his rays
Burst and are scattered, or when rising pale
Aurora quits Tithonus' saffron bed,
But sorry shelter then, alack I will yield
Vine-leaf to ripening grapes; so thick a hail
In spiky showers spins rattling on the roof.
And this yet more 'twill boot thee bear in mind,
When now, his course upon Olympus run,
He draws to his decline: for oft we see
Upon the sun's own face strange colours stray;
Dark tells of rain, of east winds fiery-red;
If spots with ruddy fire begin to mix,
Then all the heavens convulsed in wrath thou'lt see-
Storm-clouds and wind together. Me that night
Let no man bid fare forth upon the deep,
Nor rend the rope from shore. But if, when both
He brings again and hides the day's return,
Clear-orbed he shineth,idly wilt thou dread
The storm-clouds, and beneath the lustral North
See the woods waving. What late eve in fine
Bears in her bosom, whence the wind that brings
Fair-weather-clouds, or what the rain South
Is meditating, tokens of all these
The sun will give thee. Who dare charge the sun
With leasing? He it is who warneth oft
Of hidden broils at hand and treachery,
And secret swelling of the waves of war.
He too it was, when Caesar's light was quenched,
For Rome had pity, when his bright head he veiled
In iron-hued darkness, till a godless age
Trembled for night eternal; at that time
Howbeit earth also, and the ocean-plains,
And dogs obscene, and birds of evil bode
Gave tokens. Yea, how often have we seen
Etna, her furnace-walls asunder riven,
In billowy floods boil o'er the Cyclops' fields,
And roll down globes of fire and molten rocks!
A clash of arms through all the heaven was heard
By Germany; strange heavings shook the Alps.
Yea, and by many through the breathless groves
A voice was heard with power, and wondrous-pale
Phantoms were seen upon the dusk of night,
And cattle spake, portentous! streams stand still,
And the earth yawns asunder, ivory weeps
For sorrow in the shrines, and bronzes sweat.
Up-twirling forests with his eddying tide,
Madly he bears them down, that lord of floods,
Eridanus, till through all the plain are swept
Beasts and their stalls together. At that time
In gloomy entrails ceased not to appear
Dark-threatening fibres, springs to trickle blood,
And high-built cities night-long to resound
With the wolves' howling. Never more than then
From skies all cloudless fell the thunderbolts,
Nor blazed so oft the comet's fire of bale.
Therefore a second time Philippi saw
The Roman hosts with kindred weapons rush
To battle, nor did the high gods deem it hard
That twice Emathia and the wide champaign
Of Haemus should be fattening with our blood.
Ay, and the time will come when there anigh,
Heaving the earth up with his curved plough,
Some swain will light on javelins by foul rust
Corroded, or with ponderous harrow strike
On empty helmets, while he gapes to see
Bones as of giants from the trench untombed.
Gods of my country, heroes of the soil,
And Romulus, and Mother Vesta, thou
Who Tuscan Tiber and Rome's Palatine
Preservest, this new champion at the least
Our fallen generation to repair
Forbid not. To the full and long ago
Our blood thy Trojan perjuries hath paid,
Laomedon. Long since the courts of heaven
Begrudge us thee, our Caesar, and complain
That thou regard'st the triumphs of mankind,
Here where the wrong is right, the right is wrong,
Where wars abound so many, and myriad-faced
Is crime; where no meet honour hath the plough;
The fields, their husbandmen led far away,
Rot in neglect, and curved pruning-hooks
Into the sword's stiff blade are fused and forged.
Euphrates here, here Germany new strife
Is stirring; neighbouring cities are in arms,
The laws that bound them snapped; and godless war
Rages through all the universe; as when
The four-horse chariots from the barriers poured
Still quicken o'er the course, and, idly now
Grasping the reins, the driver by his team
Is onward borne, nor heeds the car his curb.
GEORGIC II

Thus far the tilth of fields and stars of heaven;
Now will I sing thee, Bacchus, and, with thee,
The forest's young plantations and the fruit
Of slow-maturing olive. Hither haste,
O Father of the wine-press; all things here
Teem with the bounties of thy hand; for thee
With viny autumn laden blooms the field,
And foams the vintage high with brimming vats;
Hither, O Father of the wine-press, come,
And stripped of buskin stain thy bared limbs
In the new must with me.
First, nature's law
For generating trees is manifold;
For some of their own force spontaneous spring,
No hand of man compelling, and possess
The plains and river-windings far and wide,
As pliant osier and the bending broom,
Poplar, and willows in wan companies
With green leaf glimmering gray; and some there be
From chance-dropped seed that rear them, as the tall
Chestnuts, and, mightiest of the branching wood,
Jove's Aesculus, and oaks, oracular
Deemed by the Greeks of old. With some sprouts forth
A forest of dense suckers from the root,
As elms and cherries; so, too, a pigmy plant,
Beneath its mother's mighty shade upshoots
The bay-tree of Parnassus. Such the modes
Nature imparted first; hence all the race
Of forest-trees and shrubs and sacred groves
Springs into verdure.
Other means there are,
Which use by method for itself acquired.
One, sliving suckers from the tender frame
Of the tree-mother, plants them in the trench;
One buries the bare stumps within his field,
Truncheons cleft four-wise, or sharp-pointed stakes;
Some forest-trees the layer's bent arch await,
And slips yet quick within the parent-soil;
No root need others, nor doth the pruner's hand
Shrink to restore the topmost shoot to earth
That gave it being. Nay, marvellous to tell,
Lopped of its limbs, the olive, a mere stock,
Still thrusts its root out from the sapless wood,
And oft the branches of one kind we see
Change to another's with no loss to rue,
Pear-tree transformed the ingrafted apple yield,
And stony cornels on the plum-tree blush.
Come then, and learn what tilth to each belongs
According to their kinds, ye husbandmen,
And tame with culture the wild fruits, lest earth
Lie idle. O blithe to make all Ismarus
One forest of the wine-god, and to clothe
With olives huge Tabernus! And be thou
At hand, and with me ply the voyage of toil
I am bound on, O my glory, O thou that art
Justly the chiefest portion of my fame,
Maecenas, and on this wide ocean launched
Spread sail like wings to waft thee. Not that I
With my poor verse would comprehend the whole,
Nay, though a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths
Were mine, a voice of iron; be thou at hand,
Skirt but the nearer coast-line; see the shore
Is in our grasp; not now with feigned song
Through winding bouts and tedious preludings
Shall I detain thee.
Those that lift their head
Into the realms of light spontaneously,
Fruitless indeed, but blithe and strenuous spring,
Since Nature lurks within the soil. And yet
Even these, should one engraft them, or transplant
To well-drilled trenches, will anon put of
Their woodland temper, and, by frequent tilth,
To whatso craft thou summon them, make speed
To follow. So likewise will the barren shaft
That from the stock-root issueth, if it be
Set out with clear space amid open fields:
Now the tree-mother's towering leaves and boughs
Darken, despoil of increase as it grows,
And blast it in the bearing. Lastly, that
Which from shed seed ariseth, upward wins
But slowly, yielding promise of its shade
To late-born generations; apples wane
Forgetful of their former juice, the grape
Bears sorry clusters, for the birds a prey.
Soothly on all must toil be spent, and all
Trained to the trench and at great cost subdued.
But reared from truncheons olives answer best,
As vines from layers, and from the solid wood
The Paphian myrtles; while from suckers spring
Both hardy hazels and huge ash, the tree
That rims with shade the brows of Hercules,
And acorns dear to the Chaonian sire:
So springs the towering palm too, and the fir
Destined to spy the dangers of the deep.
But the rough arbutus with walnut-fruit
Is grafted; so have barren planes ere now
Stout apples borne, with chestnut-flower the beech,
The mountain-ash with pear-bloom whitened o'er,
And swine crunched acorns 'neath the boughs of elms.
Nor is the method of inserting eyes
And grafting one: for where the buds push forth
Amidst the bark, and burst the membranes thin,
Even on the knot a narrow rift is made,
Wherein from some strange tree a germ they pen,
And to the moist rind bid it cleave and grow.
Or, otherwise, in knotless trunks is hewn
A breach, and deep into the solid grain
A path with wedges cloven; then fruitful slips
Are set herein, and- no long time- behold!
To heaven upshot with teeming boughs, the tree
Strange leaves admires and fruitage not its own.
Nor of one kind alone are sturdy elms,
Willow and lotus, nor the cypress-trees
Of Ida; nor of self-same fashion spring
Fat olives, orchades, and radii
And bitter-berried pausians, no, nor yet
Apples and the forests of Alcinous;
Nor from like cuttings are Crustumian pears
And Syrian, and the heavy hand-fillers.
Not the same vintage from our trees hangs down,
Which Lesbos from Methymna's tendril plucks.
Vines Thasian are there, Mareotids white,
These apt for richer soils, for lighter those:
Psithian for raisin-wine more useful, thin
Lageos, that one day will try the feet
And tie the tongue: purples and early-ripes,
And how, O Rhaetian, shall I hymn thy praise?
Yet cope not therefore with Falernian bins.
Vines Aminaean too, best-bodied wine,
To which the Tmolian bows him, ay, and king
Phanaeus too, and, lesser of that name,
Argitis, wherewith not a grape can vie
For gush of wine-juice or for length of years.
Nor thee must I pass over, vine of Rhodes,
Welcomed by gods and at the second board,
Nor thee, Bumastus, with plump clusters swollen.
But lo! how many kinds, and what their names,
There is no telling, nor doth it boot to tell;
Who lists to know it, he too would list to learn
How many sand-grains are by Zephyr tossed
On Libya's plain, or wot, when Eurus falls
With fury on the ships, how many waves
Come rolling shoreward from the Ionian sea.
Not that all soils can all things bear alike.
Willows by water-courses have their birth,
Alders in miry fens; on rocky heights
The barren mountain-ashes; on the shore
Myrtles throng gayest; Bacchus, lastly, loves
The bare hillside, and yews the north wind's chill.
Mark too the earth by outland tillers tamed,
And Eastern homes of Arabs, and tattooed
Geloni; to all trees their native lands
Allotted are; no clime but India bears
Black ebony; the branch of frankincense
Is Saba's sons' alone; why tell to thee
Of balsams oozing from the perfumed wood,
Or berries of acanthus ever green?
Of Aethiop forests hoar with downy wool,
Or how the Seres comb from off the leaves
Their silky fleece? Of groves which India bears,
Ocean's near neighbour, earth's remotest nook,
Where not an arrow-shot can cleave the air
Above their tree-tops? yet no laggards they,
When girded with the quiver! Media yields
The bitter juices and slow-lingering taste
Of the blest citron-fruit, than which no aid
Comes timelier, when fierce step-dames drug the cup
With simples mixed and spells of baneful power,
To drive the deadly poison from the limbs.
Large the tree's self in semblance like a bay,
And, showered it not a different scent abroad,
A bay it had been; for no wind of heaven
Its foliage falls; the flower, none faster, clings;
With it the Medes for sweetness lave the lips,
And ease the panting breathlessness of age.
But no, not Mede-land with its wealth of woods,
Nor Ganges fair, and Hermus thick with gold,
Can match the praise of Italy; nor Ind,
Nor Bactria, nor Panchaia, one wide tract
Of incense-teeming sand. Here never bulls
With nostrils snorting fire upturned the sod
Sown with the monstrous dragon's teeth, nor crop
Of warriors bristled thick with lance and helm;
But heavy harvests and the Massic juice
Of Bacchus fill its borders, overspread
With fruitful flocks and olives. Hence arose
The war-horse stepping proudly o'er the plain;
Hence thy white flocks, Clitumnus, and the bull,
Of victims mightiest, which full oft have led,
Bathed in thy sacred stream, the triumph-pomp
Of Romans to the temples of the gods.
Here blooms perpetual spring, and summer here
In months that are not summer's; twice teem the flocks;
Twice doth the tree yield service of her fruit.
But ravening tigers come not nigh, nor breed
Of savage lion, nor aconite betrays
Its hapless gatherers, nor with sweep so vast
Doth the scaled serpent trail his endless coils
Along the ground, or wreathe him into spires.
Mark too her cities, so many and so proud,
Of mighty toil the achievement, town on town
Up rugged precipices heaved and reared,
And rivers undergliding ancient walls.
Or should I celebrate the sea that laves
Her upper shores and lower? or those broad lakes?
Thee, Larius, greatest and, Benacus, thee
With billowy uproar surging like the main?
Or sing her harbours, and the barrier cast
Athwart the Lucrine, and how ocean chafes
With mighty bellowings, where the Julian wave
Echoes the thunder of his rout, and through
Avernian inlets pours the Tuscan tide?
A land no less that in her veins displays
Rivers of silver, mines of copper ore,
Ay, and with gold hath flowed abundantly.
A land that reared a valiant breed of men,
The Marsi and Sabellian youth, and, schooled
To hardship, the Ligurian, and with these
The Volscian javelin-armed, the Decii too,
The Marii and Camilli, names of might,
The Scipios, stubborn warriors, ay, and thee,
Great Caesar, who in Asia's utmost bounds
With conquering arm e'en now art fending far
The unwarlike Indian from the heights of Rome.
Hail! land of Saturn, mighty mother thou
Of fruits and heroes; 'tis for thee I dare
Unseal the sacred fountains, and essay
Themes of old art and glory, as I sing
The song of Ascra through the towns of Rome.
Now for the native gifts of various soils,
What powers hath each, what hue, what natural bent
For yielding increase. First your stubborn lands
And churlish hill-sides, where are thorny fields
Of meagre marl and gravel, these delight
In long-lived olive-groves to Pallas dear.
Take for a sign the plenteous growth hard by
Of oleaster, and the fields strewn wide
With woodland berries. But a soil that's rich,
In moisture sweet exulting, and the plain
That teems with grasses on its fruitful breast,
Such as full oft in hollow mountain-dell
We view beneath us- from the craggy heights
Streams thither flow with fertilizing mud-
A plain which southward rising feeds the fern
By curved ploughs detested, this one day
Shall yield thee store of vines full strong to gush
In torrents of the wine-god; this shall be
Fruitful of grapes and flowing juice like that
We pour to heaven from bowls of gold, what time
The sleek Etruscan at the altar blows
His ivory pipe, and on the curved dish
We lay the reeking entrails. If to rear
Cattle delight thee rather, steers, or lambs,
Or goats that kill the tender plants, then seek
Full-fed Tarentum's glades and distant fields,
Or such a plain as luckless Mantua lost
Whose weedy water feeds the snow-white swan:
There nor clear springs nor grass the flocks will fail,
And all the day-long browsing of thy herds
Shall the cool dews of one brief night repair.
Land which the burrowing share shows dark and rich,
With crumbling soil- for this we counterfeit
In ploughing- for corn is goodliest; from no field
More wains thou'lt see wend home with plodding steers;
Or that from which the husbandman in spleen
Has cleared the timber, and o'erthrown the copse
That year on year lay idle, and from the roots
Uptorn the immemorial haunt of birds;
They banished from their nests have sought the skies;
But the rude plain beneath the ploughshare's stroke
Starts into sudden brightness. For indeed
The starved hill-country gravel scarce serves the bees
With lowly cassias and with rosemary;
Rough tufa and chalk too, by black water-worms
Gnawed through and through, proclaim no soils beside
So rife with serpent-dainties, or that yield
Such winding lairs to lurk in. That again,
Which vapoury mist and flitting smoke exhales,
Drinks moisture up and casts it forth at will,
Which, ever in its own green grass arrayed,
Mars not the metal with salt scurf of rust-
That shall thine elms with merry vines enwreathe;
That teems with olive; that shall thy tilth prove kind
To cattle, and patient of the curved share.
Such ploughs rich Capua, such the coast that skirts
Thy ridge, Vesuvius, and the Clanian flood,
Acerrae's desolation and her bane.
How each to recognize now hear me tell.
Dost ask if loose or passing firm it be-
Since one for corn hath liking, one for wine,
The firmer sort for Ceres, none too loose
For thee, Lyaeus?- with scrutinizing eye
First choose thy ground, and bid a pit be sunk
Deep in the solid earth, then cast the mould
All back again, and stamp the surface smooth.
If it suffice not, loose will be the land,
More meet for cattle and for kindly vines;
But if, rebellious, to its proper bounds
The soil returns not, but fills all the trench
And overtops it, then the glebe is gross;
Look for stiff ridges and reluctant clods,
And with strong bullocks cleave the fallow crust.
Salt ground again, and bitter, as 'tis called-
Barren for fruits, by tilth untamable,
Nor grape her kind, nor apples their good name
Maintaining- will in this wise yield thee proof:
Stout osier-baskets from the rafter-smoke,
And strainers of the winepress pluck thee down;
Hereinto let that evil land, with fresh
Spring-water mixed, be trampled to the full;
The moisture, mark you, will ooze all away,
In big drops issuing through the osier-withes,
But plainly will its taste the secret tell,
And with a harsh twang ruefully distort
The mouths of them that try it. Rich soil again
We learn on this wise: tossed from hand to hand
Yet cracks it never, but pitch-like, as we hold,
Clings to the fingers. A land with moisture rife
Breeds lustier herbage, and is more than meet
Prolific. Ah I may never such for me
O'er-fertile prove, or make too stout a show
At the first earing! Heavy land or light
The mute self-witness of its weight betrays.
A glance will serve to warn thee which is black,
Or what the hue of any. But hard it is
To track the signs of that pernicious cold:
Pines only, noxious yews, and ivies dark
At times reveal its traces.
All these rules
Regarding, let your land, ay, long before,
Scorch to the quick, and into trenches carve
The mighty mountains, and their upturned clods
Bare to the north wind, ere thou plant therein
The vine's prolific kindred. Fields whose soil
Is crumbling are the best: winds look to that,
And bitter hoar-frosts, and the delver's toil
Untiring, as he stirs the loosened glebe.
But those, whose vigilance no care escapes,
Search for a kindred site, where first to rear
A nursery for the trees, and eke whereto
Soon to translate them, lest the sudden shock
From their new mother the young plants estrange.
Nay, even the quarter of the sky they brand
Upon the bark, that each may be restored,
As erst it stood, here bore the southern heats,
Here turned its shoulder to the northern pole;
So strong is custom formed in early years.
Whether on hill or plain 'tis best to plant
Your vineyard first inquire. If on some plain
You measure out rich acres, then plant thick;
Thick planting makes no niggard of the vine;
But if on rising mound or sloping bill,
Then let the rows have room, so none the less
Each line you draw, when all the trees are set,
May tally to perfection. Even as oft
In mighty war, whenas the legion's length
Deploys its cohorts, and the column stands
In open plain, the ranks of battle set,
And far and near with rippling sheen of arms
The wide earth flickers, nor yet in grisly strife
Foe grapples foe, but dubious 'twixt the hosts
The war-god wavers; so let all be ranged
In equal rows symmetric, not alone
To feed an idle fancy with the view,
But since not otherwise will earth afford
Vigour to all alike, nor yet the boughs
Have power to stretch them into open space.
Shouldst haply of the furrow's depth inquire,
Even to a shallow trench I dare commit
The vine; but deeper in the ground is fixed
The tree that props it, aesculus in chief,
Which howso far its summit soars toward heaven,
So deep strikes root into the vaults of hell.
It therefore neither storms, nor blasts, nor showers
Wrench from its bed; unshaken it abides,
Sees many a generation, many an age
Of men roll onward, and survives them all,
Stretching its titan arms and branches far,
Sole central pillar of a world of shade.
Nor toward the sunset let thy vineyards slope,
Nor midst the vines plant hazel; neither take
The topmost shoots for cuttings, nor from the top
Of the supporting tree your suckers tear;
So deep their love of earth; nor wound the plants
With blunted blade; nor truncheons intersperse
Of the wild olive: for oft from careless swains
A spark hath fallen, that, 'neath the unctuous rind
Hid thief-like first, now grips the tough tree-bole,
And mounting to the leaves on high, sends forth
A roar to heaven, then coursing through the boughs
And airy summits reigns victoriously,
Wraps all the grove in robes of fire, and gross
With pitch-black vapour heaves the murky reek
Skyward, but chiefly if a storm has swooped
Down on the forest, and a driving wind
Rolls up the conflagration. When 'tis so,
Their root-force fails them, nor, when lopped away,
Can they recover, and from the earth beneath
Spring to like verdure; thus alone survives
The bare wild olive with its bitter leaves.
Let none persuade thee, howso weighty-wise,
To stir the soil when stiff with Boreas' breath.
Then ice-bound winter locks the fields, nor lets
The young plant fix its frozen root to earth.
Best sow your vineyards when in blushing Spring
Comes the white bird long-bodied snakes abhor,
Or on the eve of autumn's earliest frost,
Ere the swift sun-steeds touch the wintry Signs,
While summer is departing. Spring it is
Blesses the fruit-plantation, Spring the groves;
In Spring earth swells and claims the fruitful seed.
Then Aether, sire omnipotent, leaps down
With quickening showers to his glad wife's embrace,
And, might with might commingling, rears to life
All germs that teem within her; then resound
With songs of birds the greenwood-wildernesses,
And in due time the herds their loves renew;
Then the boon earth yields increase, and the fields
Unlock their bosoms to the warm west winds;
Soft moisture spreads o'er all things, and the blades
Face the new suns, and safely trust them now;
The vine-shoot, fearless of the rising south,
Or mighty north winds driving rain from heaven,
Bursts into bud, and every leaf unfolds.
Even so, methinks, when Earth to being sprang,
Dawned the first days, and such the course they held;
'Twas Spring-tide then, ay, Spring, the mighty world
Was keeping: Eurus spared his wintry blasts,
When first the flocks drank sunlight, and a race
Of men like iron from the hard glebe arose,
And wild beasts thronged the woods, and stars the heaven.
Nor could frail creatures bear this heavy strain,
Did not so large a respite interpose
'Twixt frost and heat, and heaven's relenting arms
Yield earth a welcome.
For the rest, whate'er
The sets thou plantest in thy fields, thereon
Strew refuse rich, and with abundant earth
Take heed to hide them, and dig in withal
Rough shells or porous stone, for therebetween
Will water trickle and fine vapour creep,
And so the plants their drooping spirits raise.
Aye, and there have been, who with weight of stone
Or heavy potsherd press them from above;
This serves for shield in pelting showers, and this
When the hot dog-star chaps the fields with drought.
The slips once planted, yet remains to cleave
The earth about their roots persistently,
And toss the cumbrous hoes, or task the soil
With burrowing plough-share, and ply up and down
Your labouring bullocks through the vineyard's midst,
Then too smooth reeds and shafts of whittled wand,
And ashen poles and sturdy forks to shape,
Whereby supported they may learn to mount,
Laugh at the gales, and through the elm-tops win
From story up to story.
Now while yet
The leaves are in their first fresh infant growth,
Forbear their frailty, and while yet the bough
Shoots joyfully toward heaven, with loosened rein
Launched on the void, assail it not as yet
With keen-edged sickle, but let the leaves alone
Be culled with clip of fingers here and there.
But when they clasp the elms with sturdy trunks
Erect, then strip the leaves off, prune the boughs;
Sooner they shrink from steel, but then put forth
The arm of power, and stem the branchy tide.
Hedges too must be woven and all beasts
Barred entrance, chiefly while the leaf is young
And witless of disaster; for therewith,
Beside harsh winters and o'erpowering sun,
Wild buffaloes and pestering goats for ay
Besport them, sheep and heifers glut their greed.
Nor cold by hoar-frost curdled, nor the prone
Dead weight of summer upon the parched crags,
So scathe it, as the flocks with venom-bite
Of their hard tooth, whose gnawing scars the stem.
For no offence but this to Bacchus bleeds
The goat at every altar, and old plays
Upon the stage find entrance; therefore too
The sons of Theseus through the country-side-
Hamlet and crossway- set the prize of wit,
And on the smooth sward over oiled skins
Dance in their tipsy frolic. Furthermore
The Ausonian swains, a race from Troy derived,
Make merry with rough rhymes and boisterous mirth,
Grim masks of hollowed bark assume, invoke
Thee with glad hymns, O Bacchus, and to thee
Hang puppet-faces on tall pines to swing.
Hence every vineyard teems with mellowing fruit,
Till hollow vale o'erflows, and gorge profound,
Where'er the god hath turned his comely head.
Therefore to Bacchus duly will we sing
Meet honour with ancestral hymns, and cates
And dishes bear him; and the doomed goat
Led by the horn shall at the altar stand,
Whose entrails rich on hazel-spits we'll roast.
This further task again, to dress the vine,
Hath needs beyond exhausting; the whole soil
Thrice, four times, yearly must be cleft, the sod
With hoes reversed be crushed continually,
The whole plantation lightened of its leaves.
Round on the labourer spins the wheel of toil,
As on its own track rolls the circling year.
Soon as the vine her lingering leaves hath shed,
And the chill north wind from the forests shook
Their coronal, even then the careful swain
Looks keenly forward to the coming year,
With Saturn's curved fang pursues and prunes
The vine forlorn, and lops it into shape.
Be first to dig the ground up, first to clear
And burn the refuse-branches, first to house
Again your vine-poles, last to gather fruit.
Twice doth the thickening shade beset the vine,
Twice weeds with stifling briers o'ergrow the crop;
And each a toilsome labour. Do thou praise
Broad acres, farm but few. Rough twigs beside
Of butcher's broom among the woods are cut,
And reeds upon the river-banks, and still
The undressed willow claims thy fostering care.
So now the vines are fettered, now the trees
Let go the sickle, and the last dresser now
Sings of his finished rows; but still the ground
Must vexed be, the dust be stirred, and heaven
Still set thee trembling for the ripened grapes.
Not so with olives; small husbandry need they,
Nor look for sickle bowed or biting rake,
When once they have gripped the soil, and borne the breeze.
Earth of herself, with hooked fang laid bare,
Yields moisture for the plants, and heavy fruit,
The ploughshare aiding; therewithal thou'lt rear
The olive's fatness well-beloved of Peace.
Apples, moreover, soon as first they feel
Their stems wax lusty, and have found their strength,
To heaven climb swiftly, self-impelled, nor crave
Our succour. All the grove meanwhile no less
With fruit is swelling, and the wild haunts of birds
Blush with their blood-red berries. Cytisus
Is good to browse on, the tall forest yields
Pine-torches, and the nightly fires are fed
And shoot forth radiance. And shall men be loath
To plant, nor lavish of their pains? Why trace
Things mightier? Willows even and lowly brooms
To cattle their green leaves, to shepherds shade,
Fences for crops, and food for honey yield.
And blithe it is Cytorus to behold
Waving with box, Narycian groves of pitch;
Oh! blithe the sight of fields beholden not
To rake or man's endeavour! the barren woods
That crown the scalp of Caucasus, even these,
Which furious blasts for ever rive and rend,
Yield various wealth, pine-logs that serve for ships,
Cedar and cypress for the homes of men;
Hence, too, the farmers shave their wheel-spokes, hence
Drums for their wains, and curved boat-keels fit;
Willows bear twigs enow, the elm-tree leaves,
Myrtle stout spear-shafts, war-tried cornel too;
Yews into Ituraean bows are bent:
Nor do smooth lindens or lathe-polished box
Shrink from man's shaping and keen-furrowing steel;
Light alder floats upon the boiling flood
Sped down the Padus, and bees house their swarms
In rotten holm-oak's hollow bark and bole.
What of like praise can Bacchus' gifts afford?
Nay, Bacchus even to crime hath prompted, he
The wine-infuriate Centaurs quelled with death,
Rhoetus and Pholus, and with mighty bowl
Hylaeus threatening high the Lapithae.
Oh! all too happy tillers of the soil,
Could they but know their blessedness, for whom
Far from the clash of arms all-equal earth
Pours from the ground herself their easy fare!
What though no lofty palace portal-proud
From all its chambers vomits forth a tide
Of morning courtiers, nor agape they gaze
On pillars with fair tortoise-shell inwrought,
Gold-purfled robes, and bronze from Ephyre;
Nor is the whiteness of their wool distained
With drugs Assyrian, nor clear olive's use
With cassia tainted; yet untroubled calm,
A life that knows no falsehood, rich enow
With various treasures, yet broad-acred ease,
Grottoes and living lakes, yet Tempes cool,
Lowing of kine, and sylvan slumbers soft,
They lack not; lawns and wild beasts' haunts are there,
A youth of labour patient, need-inured,
Worship, and reverend sires: with them from earth
Departing justice her last footprints left.
Me before all things may the Muses sweet,
Whose rites I bear with mighty passion pierced,
Receive, and show the paths and stars of heaven,
The sun's eclipses and the labouring moons,
From whence the earthquake, by what power the seas
Swell from their depths, and, every barrier burst,
Sink back upon themselves, why winter-suns
So haste to dip 'neath ocean, or what check
The lingering night retards. But if to these
High realms of nature the cold curdling blood
About my heart bar access, then be fields
And stream-washed vales my solace, let me love
Rivers and woods, inglorious. Oh for you
Plains, and Spercheius, and Taygete,
By Spartan maids o'er-revelled! Oh, for one,
Would set me in deep dells of Haemus cool,
And shield me with his boughs' o'ershadowing might!
Happy, who had the skill to understand
Nature's hid causes, and beneath his feet
All terrors cast, and death's relentless doom,
And the loud roar of greedy Acheron.
Blest too is he who knows the rural gods,
Pan, old Silvanus, and the

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 3

When the companies were thus arrayed, each under its own captain,
the Trojans advanced as a flight of wild fowl or cranes that scream
overhead when rain and winter drive them over the flowing waters of
Oceanus to bring death and destruction on the Pygmies, and they
wrangle in the air as they fly; but the Achaeans marched silently,
in high heart, and minded to stand by one another.
As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain
tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man
can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust
from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain.
When they were close up with one another, Alexandrus came forward as
champion on the Trojan side. On his shoulders he bore the skin of a
panther, his bow, and his sword, and he brandished two spears shod
with bronze as a challenge to the bravest of the Achaeans to meet
him in single fight. Menelaus saw him thus stride out before the
ranks, and was glad as a hungry lion that lights on the carcase of
some goat or horned stag, and devours it there and then, though dogs
and youths set upon him. Even thus was Menelaus glad when his eyes
caught sight of Alexandrus, for he deemed that now he should be
revenged. He sprang, therefore, from his chariot, clad in his suit
of armour.
Alexandrus quailed as he saw Menelaus come forward, and shrank in
fear of his life under cover of his men. As one who starts back
affrighted, trembling and pale, when he comes suddenly upon a
serpent in some mountain glade, even so did Alexandrus plunge into the
throng of Trojan warriors, terror-stricken at the sight of the son
Atreus.
Then Hector upbraided him. "Paris," said he, "evil-hearted Paris,
fair to see, but woman-mad, and false of tongue, would that you had
never been born, or that you had died unwed. Better so, than live to
be disgraced and looked askance at. Will not the Achaeans mock at us
and say that we have sent one to champion us who is fair to see but
who has neither wit nor courage? Did you not, such as you are, get
your following together and sail beyond the seas? Did you not from
your a far country carry off a lovely woman wedded among a people of
warriors- to bring sorrow upon your father, your city, and your
whole country, but joy to your enemies, and hang-dog shamefacedness to
yourself? And now can you not dare face Menelaus and learn what manner
of man he is whose wife you have stolen? Where indeed would be your
lyre and your love-tricks, your comely locks and your fair favour,
when you were lying in the dust before him? The Trojans are a
weak-kneed people, or ere this you would have had a shirt of stones
for the wrongs you have done them."
And Alexandrus answered, "Hector, your rebuke is just. You are
hard as the axe which a shipwright wields at his work, and cleaves the
timber to his liking. As the axe in his hand, so keen is the edge of
your scorn. Still, taunt me not with the gifts that golden Venus has
given me; they are precious; let not a man disdain them, for the
gods give them where they are minded, and none can have them for the
asking. If you would have me do battle with Menelaus, bid the
Trojans and Achaeans take their seats, while he and I fight in their
midst for Helen and all her wealth. Let him who shall be victorious
and prove to be the better man take the woman and all she has, to bear
them to his home, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace
whereby you Trojans shall stay here in Troy, while the others go
home to Argos and the land of the Achaeans."
When Hector heard this he was glad, and went about among the
Trojan ranks holding his spear by the middle to keep them back, and
they all sat down at his bidding: but the Achaeans still aimed at
him with stones and arrows, till Agamemnon shouted to them saying,
"Hold, Argives, shoot not, sons of the Achaeans; Hector desires to
speak."
They ceased taking aim and were still, whereon Hector spoke. "Hear
from my mouth," said he, "Trojans and Achaeans, the saying of
Alexandrus, through whom this quarrel has come about. He bids the
Trojans and Achaeans lay their armour upon the ground, while he and
Menelaus fight in the midst of you for Helen and all her wealth. Let
him who shall be victorious and prove to be the better man take the
woman and all she has, to bear them to his own home, but let the
rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace."
Thus he spoke, and they all held their peace, till Menelaus of the
loud battle-cry addressed them. "And now," he said, "hear me too,
for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I deem that the parting of
Achaeans and Trojans is at hand, as well it may be, seeing how much
have suffered for my quarrel with Alexandrus and the wrong he did
me. Let him who shall die, die, and let the others fight no more.
Bring, then, two lambs, a white ram and a black ewe, for Earth and
Sun, and we will bring a third for Jove. Moreover, you shall bid Priam
come, that he may swear to the covenant himself; for his sons are
high-handed and ill to trust, and the oaths of Jove must not be
transgressed or taken in vain. Young men's minds are light as air, but
when an old man comes he looks before and after, deeming that which
shall be fairest upon both sides."
The Trojans and Achaeans were glad when they heard this, for they
thought that they should now have rest. They backed their chariots
toward the ranks, got out of them, and put off their armour, laying it
down upon the ground; and the hosts were near to one another with a
little space between them. Hector sent two messengers to the city to
bring the lambs and to bid Priam come, while Agamemnon told Talthybius
to fetch the other lamb from the ships, and he did as Agamemnon had
said.
Meanwhile Iris went to Helen in the form of her sister-in-law,
wife of the son of Antenor, for Helicaon, son of Antenor, had
married Laodice, the fairest of Priam's daughters. She found her in
her own room, working at a great web of purple linen, on which she was
embroidering the battles between Trojans and Achaeans, that Mars had
made them fight for her sake. Iris then came close up to her and said,
"Come hither, child, and see the strange doings of the Trojans and
Achaeans till now they have been warring upon the plain, mad with lust
of battle, but now they have left off fighting, and are leaning upon
their shields, sitting still with their spears planted beside them.
Alexandrus and Menelaus are going to fight about yourself, and you are
to the the wife of him who is the victor."
Thus spoke the goddess, and Helen's heart yearned after her former
husband, her city, and her parents. She threw a white mantle over
her head, and hurried from her room, weeping as she went, not alone,
but attended by two of her handmaids, Aethrae, daughter of Pittheus,
and Clymene. And straightway they were at the Scaean gates.
The two sages, Ucalegon and Antenor, elders of the people, were
seated by the Scaean gates, with Priam, Panthous, Thymoetes, Lampus,
Clytius, and Hiketaon of the race of Mars. These were too old to
fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower like cicales
that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high tree in a wood.
When they saw Helen coming towards the tower, they said softly to
one another, "Small wonder that Trojans and Achaeans should endure
so much and so long, for the sake of a woman so marvellously and
divinely lovely. Still, fair though she be, let them take her and
go, or she will breed sorrow for us and for our children after us."
But Priam bade her draw nigh. "My child," said he, "take your seat
in front of me that you may see your former husband, your kinsmen
and your friends. I lay no blame upon you, it is the gods, not you who
are to blame. It is they that have brought about this terrible war
with the Achaeans. Tell me, then, who is yonder huge hero so great and
goodly? I have seen men taller by a head, but none so comely and so
royal. Surely he must be a king."
"Sir," answered Helen, "father of my husband, dear and reverend in
my eyes, would that I had chosen death rather than to have come here
with your son, far from my bridal chamber, my friends, my darling
daughter, and all the companions of my girlhood. But it was not to be,
and my lot is one of tears and sorrow. As for your question, the
hero of whom you ask is Agamemnon, son of Atreus, a good king and a
brave soldier, brother-in-law as surely as that he lives, to my
abhorred and miserable self."
The old man marvelled at him and said, "Happy son of Atreus, child
of good fortune. I see that the Achaeans are subject to you in great
multitudes. When I was in Phrygia I saw much horsemen, the people of
Otreus and of Mygdon, who were camping upon the banks of the river
Sangarius; I was their ally, and with them when the Amazons, peers
of men, came up against them, but even they were not so many as the
Achaeans."
The old man next looked upon Ulysses; "Tell me," he said, "who is
that other, shorter by a head than Agamemnon, but broader across the
chest and shoulders? His armour is laid upon the ground, and he stalks
in front of the ranks as it were some great woolly ram ordering his
ewes."
And Helen answered, "He is Ulysses, a man of great craft, son of
Laertes. He was born in rugged Ithaca, and excels in all manner of
stratagems and subtle cunning."
On this Antenor said, "Madam, you have spoken truly. Ulysses once
came here as envoy about yourself, and Menelaus with him. I received
them in my own house, and therefore know both of them by sight and
conversation. When they stood up in presence of the assembled Trojans,
Menelaus was the broader shouldered, but when both were seated Ulysses
had the more royal presence. After a time they delivered their
message, and the speech of Menelaus ran trippingly on the tongue; he
did not say much, for he was a man of few words, but he spoke very
clearly and to the point, though he was the younger man of the two;
Ulysses, on the other hand, when he rose to speak, was at first silent
and kept his eyes fixed upon the ground. There was no play nor
graceful movement of his sceptre; he kept it straight and stiff like a
man unpractised in oratory- one might have taken him for a mere
churl or simpleton; but when he raised his voice, and the words came
driving from his deep chest like winter snow before the wind, then
there was none to touch him, and no man thought further of what he
looked like."
Priam then caught sight of Ajax and asked, "Who is that great and
goodly warrior whose head and broad shoulders tower above the rest
of the Argives?"
"That," answered Helen, "is huge Ajax, bulwark of the Achaeans,
and on the other side of him, among the Cretans, stands Idomeneus
looking like a god, and with the captains of the Cretans round him.
Often did Menelaus receive him as a guest in our house when he came
visiting us from Crete. I see, moreover, many other Achaeans whose
names I could tell you, but there are two whom I can nowhere find,
Castor, breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer; they are
children of my mother, and own brothers to myself. Either they have
not left Lacedaemon, or else, though they have brought their ships,
they will not show themselves in battle for the shame and disgrace
that I have brought upon them."
She knew not that both these heroes were already lying under the
earth in their own land of Lacedaemon.
Meanwhile the heralds were bringing the holy oath-offerings
through the city- two lambs and a goatskin of wine, the gift of earth;
and Idaeus brought the mixing bowl and the cups of gold. He went up to
Priam and said, "Son of Laomedon, the princes of the Trojans and
Achaeans bid you come down on to the plain and swear to a solemn
covenant. Alexandrus and Menelaus are to fight for Helen in single
combat, that she and all her wealth may go with him who is the victor.
We are to swear to a solemn covenant of peace whereby we others
shall dwell here in Troy, while the Achaeans return to Argos and the
land of the Achaeans."
The old man trembled as he heard, but bade his followers yoke the
horses, and they made all haste to do so. He mounted the chariot,
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor took his seat beside
him; they then drove through the Scaean gates on to the plain. When
they reached the ranks of the Trojans and Achaeans they left the
chariot, and with measured pace advanced into the space between the
hosts.
Agamemnon and Ulysses both rose to meet them. The attendants brought
on the oath-offerings and mixed the wine in the mixing-bowls; they
poured water over the hands of the chieftains, and the son of Atreus
drew the dagger that hung by his sword, and cut wool from the lambs'
heads; this the men-servants gave about among the Trojan and Achaean
princes, and the son of Atreus lifted up his hands in prayer.
"Father Jove," he cried, "that rulest in Ida, most glorious in
power, and thou oh Sun, that seest and givest ear to all things, Earth
and Rivers, and ye who in the realms below chastise the soul of him
that has broken his oath, witness these rites and guard them, that
they be not vain. If Alexandrus kills Menelaus, let him keep Helen and
all her wealth, while we sail home with our ships; but if Menelaus
kills Alexandrus, let the Trojans give back Helen and all that she
has; let them moreover pay such fine to the Achaeans as shall be
agreed upon, in testimony among those that shall be born hereafter.
Aid if Priam and his sons refuse such fine when Alexandrus has fallen,
then will I stay here and fight on till I have got satisfaction."
As he spoke he drew his knife across the throats of the victims, and
laid them down gasping and dying upon the ground, for the knife had
reft them of their strength. Then they poured wine from the
mixing-bowl into the cups, and prayed to the everlasting gods, saying,
Trojans and Achaeans among one another, "Jove, most great and
glorious, and ye other everlasting gods, grant that the brains of them
who shall first sin against their oaths- of them and their children-
may be shed upon the ground even as this wine, and let their wives
become the slaves of strangers."
Thus they prayed, but not as yet would Jove grant them their prayer.
Then Priam, descendant of Dardanus, spoke, saying, "Hear me, Trojans
and Achaeans, I will now go back to the wind-beaten city of Ilius: I
dare not with my own eyes witness this fight between my son and
Menelaus, for Jove and the other immortals alone know which shall
fall."
On this he laid the two lambs on his chariot and took his seat. He
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor sat beside him; the two
then went back to Ilius. Hector and Ulysses measured the ground, and
cast lots from a helmet of bronze to see which should take aim
first. Meanwhile the two hosts lifted up their hands and prayed
saying, "Father Jove, that rulest from Ida, most glorious in power,
grant that he who first brought about this war between us may die, and
enter the house of Hades, while we others remain at peace and abide by
our oaths."
Great Hector now turned his head aside while he shook the helmet,
and the lot of Paris flew out first. The others took their several
stations, each by his horses and the place where his arms were
lying, while Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen, put on his goodly
armour. First he greaved his legs with greaves of good make and fitted
with ancle-clasps of silver; after this he donned the cuirass of his
brother Lycaon, and fitted it to his own body; he hung his
silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then his
mighty shield. On his comely head he set his helmet, well-wrought,
with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it, and he
grasped a redoubtable spear that suited his hands. In like fashion
Menelaus also put on his armour.
When they had thus armed, each amid his own people, they strode
fierce of aspect into the open space, and both Trojans and Achaeans
were struck with awe as they beheld them. They stood near one
another on the measured ground, brandishing their spears, and each
furious against the other. Alexandrus aimed first, and struck the
round shield of the son of Atreus, but the spear did not pierce it,
for the shield turned its point. Menelaus next took aim, praying to
Father Jove as he did so. "King Jove," he said, "grant me revenge on
Alexandrus who has wronged me; subdue him under my hand that in ages
yet to come a man may shrink from doing ill deeds in the house of
his host."
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it at the shield of
Alexandrus. Through shield and cuirass it went, and tore the shirt
by his flank, but Alexandrus swerved aside, and thus saved his life.
Then the son of Atreus drew his sword, and drove at the projecting
part of his helmet, but the sword fell shivered in three or four
pieces from his hand, and he cried, looking towards Heaven, "Father
Jove, of all gods thou art the most despiteful; I made sure of my
revenge, but the sword has broken in my hand, my spear has been hurled
in vain, and I have not killed him."
With this he flew at Alexandrus, caught him by the horsehair plume
of his helmet, and began dragging him towards the Achaeans. The
strap of the helmet that went under his chin was choking him, and
Menelaus would have dragged him off to his own great glory had not
Jove's daughter Venus been quick to mark and to break the strap of
oxhide, so that the empty helmet came away in his hand. This he
flung to his comrades among the Achaeans, and was again springing upon
Alexandrus to run him through with a spear, but Venus snatched him
up in a moment (as a god can do), hid him under a cloud of darkness,
and conveyed him to his own bedchamber.
Then she went to call Helen, and found her on a high tower with
the Trojan women crowding round her. She took the form of an old woman
who used to dress wool for her when she was still in Lacedaemon, and
of whom she was very fond. Thus disguised she plucked her by
perfumed robe and said, "Come hither; Alexandrus says you are to go to
the house; he is on his bed in his own room, radiant with beauty and
dressed in gorgeous apparel. No one would think he had just come
from fighting, but rather that he was going to a dance, or had done
dancing and was sitting down."
With these words she moved the heart of Helen to anger. When she
marked the beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and
sparkling eyes, she marvelled at her and said, "Goddess, why do you
thus beguile me? Are you going to send me afield still further to some
man whom you have taken up in Phrygia or fair Meonia? Menelaus has
just vanquished Alexandrus, and is to take my hateful self back with
him. You are come here to betray me. Go sit with Alexandrus
yourself; henceforth be goddess no longer; never let your feet carry
you back to Olympus; worry about him and look after him till he make
you his wife, or, for the matter of that, his slave- but me? I shall
not go; I can garnish his bed no longer; I should be a by-word among
all the women of Troy. Besides, I have trouble on my mind."
Venus was very angry, and said, "Bold hussy, do not provoke me; if
you do, I shall leave you to your fate and hate you as much as I
have loved you. I will stir up fierce hatred between Trojans and
Achaeans, and you shall come to a bad end."
At this Helen was frightened. She wrapped her mantle about her and
went in silence, following the goddess and unnoticed by the Trojan
women.
When they came to the house of Alexandrus the maid-servants set
about their work, but Helen went into her own room, and the
laughter-loving goddess took a seat and set it for her facing
Alexandrus. On this Helen, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, sat down,
and with eyes askance began to upbraid her husband.
"So you are come from the fight," said she; "would that you had
fallen rather by the hand of that brave man who was my husband. You
used to brag that you were a better man with hands and spear than
Menelaus. go, but I then, an challenge him again- but I should
advise you not to do so, for if you are foolish enough to meet him
in single combat, you will soon all by his spear."
And Paris answered, "Wife, do not vex me with your reproaches.
This time, with the help of Minerva, Menelaus has vanquished me;
another time I may myself be victor, for I too have gods that will
stand by me. Come, let us lie down together and make friends. Never
yet was I so passionately enamoured of you as at this moment- not even
when I first carried you off from Lacedaemon and sailed away with you-
not even when I had converse with you upon the couch of love in the
island of Cranae was I so enthralled by desire of you as now." On this
he led her towards the bed, and his wife went with him.
Thus they laid themselves on the bed together; but the son of Atreus
strode among the throng, looking everywhere for Alexandrus, and no
man, neither of the Trojans nor of the allies, could find him. If they
had seen him they were in no mind to hide him, for they all of them
hated him as they did death itself. Then Agamemnon, king of men,
spoke, saying, "Hear me, Trojans, Dardanians, and allies. The
victory has been with Menelaus; therefore give back Helen with all her
wealth, and pay such fine as shall be agreed upon, in testimony
among them that shall be born hereafter."
Thus spoke the son of Atreus, and the Achaeans shouted in applause.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 6

The fight between Trojans and Achaeans was now left to rage as it
would, and the tide of war surged hither and thither over the plain as
they aimed their bronze-shod spears at one another between the streams
of Simois and Xanthus.
First, Ajax son of Telamon, tower of strength to the Achaeans, broke
a phalanx of the Trojans, and came to the assistance of his comrades
by killing Acamas son of Eussorus, the best man among the Thracians,
being both brave and of great stature. The spear struck the projecting
peak of his helmet: its bronze point then went through his forehead
into the brain, and darkness veiled his eyes.
Then Diomed killed Axylus son of Teuthranus, a rich man who lived in
the strong city of Arisbe, and was beloved by all men; for he had a
house by the roadside, and entertained every one who passed; howbeit
not one of his guests stood before him to save his life, and Diomed
killed both him and his squire Calesius, who was then his
charioteer- so the pair passed beneath the earth.
Euryalus killed Dresus and Opheltius, and then went in pursuit of
Aesepus and Pedasus, whom the naiad nymph Abarbarea had borne to noble
Bucolion. Bucolion was eldest son to Laomedon, but he was a bastard.
While tending his sheep he had converse with the nymph, and she
conceived twin sons; these the son of Mecisteus now slew, and he
stripped the armour from their shoulders. Polypoetes then killed
Astyalus, Ulysses Pidytes of Percote, and Teucer Aretaon. Ablerus fell
by the spear of Nestor's son Antilochus, and Agamemnon, king of men,
killed Elatus who dwelt in Pedasus by the banks of the river
Satnioeis. Leitus killed Phylacus as he was flying, and Eurypylus slew
Melanthus.
Then Menelaus of the loud war-cry took Adrestus alive, for his
horses ran into a tamarisk bush, as they were flying wildly over the
plain, and broke the pole from the car; they went on towards the
city along with the others in full flight, but Adrestus rolled out,
and fell in the dust flat on his face by the wheel of his chariot;
Menelaus came up to him spear in hand, but Adrestus caught him by
the knees begging for his life. "Take me alive," he cried, "son of
Atreus, and you shall have a full ransom for me: my father is rich and
has much treasure of gold, bronze, and wrought iron laid by in his
house. From this store he will give you a large ransom should he
hear of my being alive and at the ships of the Achaeans."
Thus did he plead, and Menelaus was for yielding and giving him to a
squire to take to the ships of the Achaeans, but Agamemnon came
running up to him and rebuked him. "My good Menelaus," said he,
"this is no time for giving quarter. Has, then, your house fared so
well at the hands of the Trojans? Let us not spare a single one of
them- not even the child unborn and in its mother's womb; let not a
man of them be left alive, but let all in Ilius perish, unheeded and
forgotten."
Thus did he speak, and his brother was persuaded by him, for his
words were just. Menelaus, therefore, thrust Adrestus from him,
whereon King Agamemnon struck him in the flank, and he fell: then
the son of Atreus planted his foot upon his breast to draw his spear
from the body.
Meanwhile Nestor shouted to the Argives, saying, "My friends, Danaan
warriors, servants of Mars, let no man lag that he may spoil the dead,
and bring back much booty to the ships. Let us kill as many as we can;
the bodies will lie upon the plain, and you can despoil them later
at your leisure."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. And now the
Trojans would have been routed and driven back into Ilius, had not
Priam's son Helenus, wisest of augurs, said to Hector and Aeneas,
"Hector and Aeneas, you two are the mainstays of the Trojans and
Lycians, for you are foremost at all times, alike in fight and
counsel; hold your ground here, and go about among the host to rally
them in front of the gates, or they will fling themselves into the
arms of their wives, to the great joy of our foes. Then, when you have
put heart into all our companies, we will stand firm here and fight
the Danaans however hard they press us, for there is nothing else to
be done. Meanwhile do you, Hector, go to the city and tell our
mother what is happening. Tell her to bid the matrons gather at the
temple of Minerva in the acropolis; let her then take her key and open
the doors of the sacred building; there, upon the knees of Minerva,
let her lay the largest, fairest robe she has in her house- the one
she sets most store by; let her, moreover, promise to sacrifice twelve
yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad, in the temple of
the goddess, if she will take pity on the town, with the wives and
little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus from falling on
the goodly city of Ilius; for he fights with fury and fills men's
souls with panic. I hold him mightiest of them all; we did not fear
even their great champion Achilles, son of a goddess though he be,
as we do this man: his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none
can vie with him in prowess"
Hector did as his brother bade him. He sprang from his chariot,
and went about everywhere among the host, brandishing his spears,
urging the men on to fight, and raising the dread cry of battle.
Thereon they rallied and again faced the Achaeans, who gave ground and
ceased their murderous onset, for they deemed that some one of the
immortals had come down from starry heaven to help the Trojans, so
strangely had they rallied. And Hector shouted to the Trojans,
"Trojans and allies, be men, my friends, and fight with might and
main, while I go to Ilius and tell the old men of our council and
our wives to pray to the gods and vow hecatombs in their honour."
With this he went his way, and the black rim of hide that went round
his shield beat against his neck and his ancles.
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus went into the
open space between the hosts to fight in single combat. When they were
close up to one another Diomed of the loud war-cry was the first to
speak. "Who, my good sir," said he, "who are you among men? I have
never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all
others if you abide my onset. Woe to those fathers whose sons face
my might. If, however, you are one of the immortals and have come down
from heaven, I will not fight you; for even valiant Lycurgus, son of
Dryas, did not live long when he took to fighting with the gods. He it
was that drove the nursing women who were in charge of frenzied
Bacchus through the land of Nysa, and they flung their thyrsi on the
ground as murderous Lycurgus beat them with his oxgoad. Bacchus
himself plunged terror-stricken into the sea, and Thetis took him to
her bosom to comfort him, for he was scared by the fury with which the
man reviled him. Thereon the gods who live at ease were angry with
Lycurgus and the son of Saturn struck him blind, nor did he live
much longer after he had become hateful to the immortals. Therefore
I will not fight with the blessed gods; but if you are of them that
eat the fruit of the ground, draw near and meet your doom."
And the son of Hippolochus answered, son of Tydeus, why ask me of my
lineage? Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees.
Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring
returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the
generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away.
If, then, you would learn my descent, it is one that is well known
to many. There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of
horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest
of all mankind. He was the son of Aeolus, and had a son named Glaucus,
who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most
surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and
being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over
which Jove had made him ruler. For Antea, wife of Proetus, lusted
after him, and would have had him lie with her in secret; but
Bellerophon was an honourable man and would not, so she told lies
about him to Proteus. 'Proetus,' said she, 'kill Bellerophon or die,
for he would have had converse with me against my will.' The king
was angered, but shrank from killing Bellerophon, so he sent him to
Lycia with lying letters of introduction, written on a folded
tablet, and containing much ill against the bearer. He bade
Bellerophon show these letters to his father-in-law, to the end that
he might thus perish; Bellerophon therefore went to Lycia, and the
gods convoyed him safely.
"When he reached the river Xanthus, which is in Lycia, the king
received him with all goodwill, feasted him nine days, and killed nine
heifers in his honour, but when rosy-fingered morning appeared upon
the tenth day, he questioned him and desired to see the letter from
his son-in-law Proetus. When he had received the wicked letter he
first commanded Bellerophon to kill that savage monster, the Chimaera,
who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a
lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and
she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he
was guided by signs from heaven. He next fought the far-famed
Solymi, and this, he said, was the hardest of all his battles.
Thirdly, he killed the Amazons, women who were the peers of men, and
as he was returning thence the king devised yet another plan for his
destruction; he picked the bravest warriors in all Lycia, and placed
them in ambuscade, but not a man ever came back, for Bellerophon
killed every one of them. Then the king knew that he must be the
valiant offspring of a god, so he kept him in Lycia, gave him his
daughter in marriage, and made him of equal honour in the kingdom with
himself; and the Lycians gave him a piece of land, the best in all the
country, fair with vineyards and tilled fields, to have and to hold.
"The king's daughter bore Bellerophon three children, Isander,
Hippolochus, and Laodameia. Jove, the lord of counsel, lay with
Laodameia, and she bore him noble Sarpedon; but when Bellerophon
came to be hated by all the gods, he wandered all desolate and
dismayed upon the Alean plain, gnawing at his own heart, and
shunning the path of man. Mars, insatiate of battle, killed his son
Isander while he was fighting the Solymi; his daughter was killed by
Diana of the golden reins, for she was angered with her; but
Hippolochus was father to myself, and when he sent me to Troy he urged
me again and again to fight ever among the foremost and outvie my
peers, so as not to shame the blood of my fathers who were the noblest
in Ephyra and in all Lycia. This, then, is the descent I claim."
Thus did he speak, and the heart of Diomed was glad. He planted
his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. "Then,"
he said, you are an old friend of my father's house. Great Oeneus once
entertained Bellerophon for twenty days, and the two exchanged
presents. Oeneus gave a belt rich with purple, and Bellerophon a
double cup, which I left at home when I set out for Troy. I do not
remember Tydeus, for he was taken from us while I was yet a child,
when the army of the Achaeans was cut to pieces before Thebes.
Henceforth, however, I must be your host in middle Argos, and you mine
in Lycia, if I should ever go there; let us avoid one another's spears
even during a general engagement; there are many noble Trojans and
allies whom I can kill, if I overtake them and heaven delivers them
into my hand; so again with yourself, there are many Achaeans whose
lives you may take if you can; we two, then, will exchange armour,
that all present may know of the old ties that subsist between us."
With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one
another's hands, and plighted friendship. But the son of Saturn made
Glaucus take leave of his wits, for he exchanged golden armour for
bronze, the worth of a hundred head of cattle for the worth of nine.
Now when Hector reached the Scaean gates and the oak tree, the wives
and daughters of the Trojans came running towards him to ask after
their sons, brothers, kinsmen, and husbands: he told them to set about
praying to the gods, and many were made sorrowful as they heard him.
Presently he reached the splendid palace of King Priam, adorned with
colonnades of hewn stone. In it there were fifty bedchambers- all of
hewn stone- built near one another, where the sons of Priam slept,
each with his wedded wife. Opposite these, on the other side the
courtyard, there were twelve upper rooms also of hewn stone for
Priam's daughters, built near one another, where his sons-in-law slept
with their wives. When Hector got there, his fond mother came up to
him with Laodice the fairest of her daughters. She took his hand
within her own and said, "My son, why have you left the battle to come
hither? Are the Achaeans, woe betide them, pressing you hard about the
city that you have thought fit to come and uplift your hands to Jove
from the citadel? Wait till I can bring you wine that you may make
offering to Jove and to the other immortals, and may then drink and be
refreshed. Wine gives a man fresh strength when he is wearied, as
you now are with fighting on behalf of your kinsmen."
And Hector answered, "Honoured mother, bring no wine, lest you unman
me and I forget my strength. I dare not make a drink-offering to
Jove with unwashed hands; one who is bespattered with blood and
filth may not pray to the son of Saturn. Get the matrons together, and
go with offerings to the temple of Minerva driver of the spoil; there,
upon the knees of Minerva, lay the largest and fairest robe you have
in your house- the one you set most store by; promise, moreover, to
sacrifice twelve yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad,
in the temple of the goddess if she will take pity on the town, with
the wives and little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus
from off the goodly city of Ilius, for he fights with fury, and
fills men's souls with panic. Go, then, to the temple of Minerva,
while I seek Paris and exhort him, if he will hear my words. Would
that the earth might open her jaws and swallow him, for Jove bred
him to be the bane of the Trojans, and of Priam and Priam's sons.
Could I but see him go down into the house of Hades, my heart would
forget its heaviness."
His mother went into the house and called her waiting-women who
gathered the matrons throughout the city. She then went down into
her fragrant store-room, where her embroidered robes were kept, the
work of Sidonian women, whom Alexandrus had brought over from Sidon
when he sailed the seas upon that voyage during which he carried off
Helen. Hecuba took out the largest robe, and the one that was most
beautifully enriched with embroidery, as an offering to Minerva: it
glittered like a star, and lay at the very bottom of the chest. With
this she went on her way and many matrons with her.
When they reached the temple of Minerva, lovely Theano, daughter
of Cisseus and wife of Antenor, opened the doors, for the Trojans
had made her priestess of Minerva. The women lifted up their hands
to the goddess with a loud cry, and Theano took the robe to lay it
upon the knees of Minerva, praying the while to the daughter of
great Jove. "Holy Minerva," she cried, "protectress of our city,
mighty goddess, break the spear of Diomed and lay him low before the
Scaean gates. Do this, and we will sacrifice twelve heifers that
have never yet known the goad, in your temple, if you will have pity
upon the town, with the wives and little ones If the Trojans." Thus
she prayed, but Pallas Minerva granted not her prayer.
While they were thus praying to the daughter of great Jove, Hector
went to the fair house of Alexandrus, which he had built for him by
the foremost builders in the land. They had built him his house,
storehouse, and courtyard near those of Priam and Hector on the
acropolis. Here Hector entered, with a spear eleven cubits long in his
hand; the bronze point gleamed in front of him, and was fastened to
the shaft of the spear by a ring of gold. He found Alexandrus within
the house, busied about his armour, his shield and cuirass, and
handling his curved bow; there, too, sat Argive Helen with her
women, setting them their several tasks; and as Hector saw him he
rebuked him with words of scorn. "Sir," said he, "you do ill to
nurse this rancour; the people perish fighting round this our town;
you would yourself chide one whom you saw shirking his part in the
combat. Up then, or ere long the city will be in a blaze."
And Alexandrus answered, "Hector, your rebuke is just; listen
therefore, and believe me when I tell you that I am not here so much
through rancour or ill-will towards the Trojans, as from a desire to
indulge my grief. My wife was even now gently urging me to battle, and
I hold it better that I should go, for victory is ever fickle. Wait,
then, while I put on my armour, or go first and I will follow. I shall
be sure to overtake you."
Hector made no answer, but Helen tried to soothe him. "Brother,"
said she, "to my abhorred and sinful self, would that a whirlwind
had caught me up on the day my mother brought me forth, and had
borne me to some mountain or to the waves of the roaring sea that
should have swept me away ere this mischief had come about. But, since
the gods have devised these evils, would, at any rate, that I had been
wife to a better man- to one who could smart under dishonour and men's
evil speeches. This fellow was never yet to be depended upon, nor
never will be, and he will surely reap what he has sown. Still,
brother, come in and rest upon this seat, for it is you who bear the
brunt of that toil that has been caused by my hateful self and by
the sin of Alexandrus- both of whom Jove has doomed to be a theme of
song among those that shall be born hereafter."
And Hector answered, "Bid me not be seated, Helen, for all the
goodwill you bear me. I cannot stay. I am in haste to help the
Trojans, who miss me greatly when I am not among them; but urge your
husband, and of his own self also let him make haste to overtake me
before I am out of the city. I must go home to see my household, my
wife and my little son, for I know not whether I shall ever again
return to them, or whether the gods will cause me to fill by the hands
of the Achaeans."
Then Hector left her, and forthwith was at his own house. He did not
find Andromache, for she was on the wall with her child and one of her
maids, weeping bitterly. Seeing, then, that she was not within, he
stood on the threshold of the women's rooms and said, "Women, tell me,
and tell me true, where did Andromache go when she left the house? Was
it to my sisters, or to my brothers' wives? or is she at the temple of
Minerva where the other women are propitiating the awful goddess?"
His good housekeeper answered, "Hector, since you bid me tell you
truly, she did not go to your sisters nor to your brothers' wives, nor
yet to the temple of Minerva, where the other women are propitiating
the awful goddess, but she is on the high wall of Ilius, for she had
heard the Trojans were being hard pressed, and that the Achaeans
were in great force: she went to the wall in frenzied haste, and the
nurse went with her carrying the child."
Hector hurried from the house when she had done speaking, and went
down the streets by the same way that he had come. When he had gone
through the city and had reached the Scaean gates through which he
would go out on to the plain, his wife came running towards him,
Andromache, daughter of great Eetion who ruled in Thebe under the
wooded slopes of Mt. Placus, and was king of the Cilicians. His
daughter had married Hector, and now came to meet him with a nurse who
carried his little child in her bosom- a mere babe. Hector's darling
son, and lovely as a star. Hector had named him Scamandrius, but the
people called him Astyanax, for his father stood alone as chief
guardian of Ilius. Hector smiled as he looked upon the boy, but he did
not speak, and Andromache stood by him weeping and taking his hand
in her own. "Dear husband," said she, "your valour will bring you to
destruction; think on your infant son, and on my hapless self who
ere long shall be your widow- for the Achaeans will set upon you in
a body and kill you. It would be better for me, should I lose you,
to lie dead and buried, for I shall have nothing left to comfort me
when you are gone, save only sorrow. I have neither father nor
mother now. Achilles slew my father when he sacked Thebe the goodly
city of the Cilicians. He slew him, but did not for very shame despoil
him; when he had burned him in his wondrous armour, he raised a barrow
over his ashes and the mountain nymphs, daughters of aegis-bearing
Jove, planted a grove of elms about his tomb. I had seven brothers
in my father's house, but on the same day they all went within the
house of Hades. Achilles killed them as they were with their sheep and
cattle. My mother- her who had been queen of all the land under Mt.
Placus- he brought hither with the spoil, and freed her for a great
sum, but the archer- queen Diana took her in the house of your father.
Nay- Hector- you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear
husband- have mercy upon me; stay here upon this wall; make not your
child fatherless, and your wife a widow; as for the host, place them
near the fig-tree, where the city can be best scaled, and the wall
is weakest. Thrice have the bravest of them come thither and
assailed it, under the two Ajaxes, Idomeneus, the sons of Atreus,
and the brave son of Tydeus, either of their own bidding, or because
some soothsayer had told them."
And Hector answered, "Wife, I too have thought upon all this, but
with what face should I look upon the Trojans, men or women, if I
shirked battle like a coward? I cannot do so: I know nothing save to
fight bravely in the forefront of the Trojan host and win renown alike
for my father and myself. Well do I know that the day will surely come
when mighty Ilius shall be destroyed with Priam and Priam's people,
but I grieve for none of these- not even for Hecuba, nor King Priam,
nor for my brothers many and brave who may fall in the dust before
their foes- for none of these do I grieve as for yourself when the day
shall come on which some one of the Achaeans shall rob you for ever of
your freedom, and bear you weeping away. It may be that you will
have to ply the loom in Argos at the bidding of a mistress, or to
fetch water from the springs Messeis or Hypereia, treated brutally
by some cruel task-master; then will one say who sees you weeping,
'She was wife to Hector, the bravest warrior among the Trojans
during the war before Ilius.' On this your tears will break forth anew
for him who would have put away the day of captivity from you. May I
lie dead under the barrow that is heaped over my body ere I hear
your cry as they carry you into bondage."
He stretched his arms towards his child, but the boy cried and
nestled in his nurse's bosom, scared at the sight of his father's
armour, and at the horse-hair plume that nodded fiercely from his
helmet. His father and mother laughed to see him, but Hector took
the helmet from his head and laid it all gleaming upon the ground.
Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his
arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods.
"Jove," he cried, "grant that this my child may be even as myself,
chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength,
and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he
comes from battle, 'The son is far better than the father.' May he
bring back the blood-stained spoils of him whom he has laid low, and
let his mother's heart be glad.'"
With this he laid the child again in the arms of his wife, who
took him to her own soft bosom, smiling through her tears. As her
husband watched her his heart yearned towards her and he caressed
her fondly, saying, "My own wife, do not take these things too
bitterly to heart. No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time,
but if a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is
no escape for him when he has once been born. Go, then, within the
house, and busy yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your
distaff, and the ordering of your servants; for war is man's matter,
and mine above all others of them that have been born in Ilius."
He took his plumed helmet from the ground, and his wife went back
again to her house, weeping bitterly and often looking back towards
him. When she reached her home she found her maidens within, and
bade them all join in her lament; so they mourned Hector in his own
house though he was yet alive, for they deemed that they should
never see him return safe from battle, and from the furious hands of
the Achaeans.
Paris did not remain long in his house. He donned his goodly
armour overlaid with bronze, and hasted through the city as fast as
his feet could take him. As a horse, stabled and fed, breaks loose and
gallops gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to
bathe in the fair-flowing river- he holds his head high, and his
mane streams upon his shoulders as he exults in his strength and flies
like the wind to the haunts and feeding ground of the mares- even so
went forth Paris from high Pergamus, gleaming like sunlight in his
armour, and he laughed aloud as he sped swiftly on his way.
Forthwith he came upon his brother Hector, who was then turning away
from the place where he had held converse with his wife, and he was
himself the first to speak. "Sir," said he, "I fear that I have kept
you waiting when you are in haste, and have not come as quickly as you
bade me."
"My good brother," answered Hector, you fight bravely, and no man
with any justice can make light of your doings in battle. But you
are careless and wilfully remiss. It grieves me to the heart to hear
the ill that the Trojans speak about you, for they have suffered
much on your account. Let us be going, and we will make things right
hereafter, should Jove vouchsafe us to set the cup of our
deliverance before ever-living gods of heaven in our own homes, when
we have chased the Achaeans from Troy."

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 22

Thus the Trojans in the city, scared like fawns, wiped the sweat
from off them and drank to quench their thirst, leaning against the
goodly battlements, while the Achaeans with their shields laid upon
their shoulders drew close up to the walls. But stern fate bade Hector
stay where he was before Ilius and the Scaean gates. Then Phoebus
Apollo spoke to the son of Peleus saying, "Why, son of Peleus, do you,
who are but man, give chase to me who am immortal? Have you not yet
found out that it is a god whom you pursue so furiously? You did not
harass the Trojans whom you had routed, and now they are within
their walls, while you have been decoyed hither away from them. Me you
cannot kill, for death can take no hold upon me."
Achilles was greatly angered and said, "You have baulked me,
Far-Darter, most malicious of all gods, and have drawn me away from
the wall, where many another man would have bitten the dust ere he got
within Ilius; you have robbed me of great glory and have saved the
Trojans at no risk to yourself, for you have nothing to fear, but I
would indeed have my revenge if it were in my power to do so."
On this, with fell intent he made towards the city, and as the
winning horse in a chariot race strains every nerve when he is
flying over the plain, even so fast and furiously did the limbs of
Achilles bear him onwards. King Priam was first to note him as he
scoured the plain, all radiant as the star which men call Orion's
Hound, and whose beams blaze forth in time of harvest more brilliantly
than those of any other that shines by night; brightest of them all
though he be, he yet bodes ill for mortals, for he brings fire and
fever in his train- even so did Achilles' armour gleam on his breast
as he sped onwards. Priam raised a cry and beat his head with his
hands as he lifted them up and shouted out to his dear son,
imploring him to return; but Hector still stayed before the gates, for
his heart was set upon doing battle with Achilles. The old man reached
out his arms towards him and bade him for pity's sake come within
the walls. "Hector," he cried, "my son, stay not to face this man
alone and unsupported, or you will meet death at the hands of the
son of Peleus, for he is mightier than you. Monster that he is;
would indeed that the gods loved him no better than I do, for so, dogs
and vultures would soon devour him as he lay stretched on earth, and a
load of grief would be lifted from my heart, for many a brave son
has he reft from me, either by killing them or selling them away in
the islands that are beyond the sea: even now I miss two sons from
among the Trojans who have thronged within the city, Lycaon and
Polydorus, whom Laothoe peeress among women bore me. Should they be
still alive and in the hands of the Achaeans, we will ransom them with
gold and bronze, of which we have store, for the old man Altes endowed
his daughter richly; but if they are already dead and in the house
of Hades, sorrow will it be to us two who were their parents; albeit
the grief of others will be more short-lived unless you too perish
at the hands of Achilles. Come, then, my son, within the city, to be
the guardian of Trojan men and Trojan women, or you will both lose
your own life and afford a mighty triumph to the son of Peleus. Have
pity also on your unhappy father while life yet remains to him- on me,
whom the son of Saturn will destroy by a terrible doom on the
threshold of old age, after I have seen my sons slain and my daughters
haled away as captives, my bridal chambers pillaged, little children
dashed to earth amid the rage of battle, and my sons' wives dragged
away by the cruel hands of the Achaeans; in the end fierce hounds will
tear me in pieces at my own gates after some one has beaten the life
out of my body with sword or spear-hounds that I myself reared and fed
at my own table to guard my gates, but who will yet lap my blood and
then lie all distraught at my doors. When a young man falls by the
sword in battle, he may lie where he is and there is nothing unseemly;
let what will be seen, all is honourable in death, but when an old man
is slain there is nothing in this world more pitiable than that dogs
should defile his grey hair and beard and all that men hide for
shame."
The old man tore his grey hair as he spoke, but he moved not the
heart of Hector. His mother hard by wept and moaned aloud as she bared
her bosom and pointed to the breast which had suckled him. "Hector,"
she cried, weeping bitterly the while, "Hector, my son, spurn not this
breast, but have pity upon me too: if I have ever given you comfort
from my own bosom, think on it now, dear son, and come within the wall
to protect us from this man; stand not without to meet him. Should the
wretch kill you, neither I nor your richly dowered wife shall ever
weep, dear offshoot of myself, over the bed on which you lie, for dogs
will devour you at the ships of the Achaeans."
Thus did the two with many tears implore their son, but they moved
not the heart of Hector, and he stood his ground awaiting huge
Achilles as he drew nearer towards him. As serpent in its den upon the
mountains, full fed with deadly poisons, waits for the approach of
man- he is filled with fury and his eyes glare terribly as he goes
writhing round his den- even so Hector leaned his shield against a
tower that jutted out from the wall and stood where he was, undaunted.
"Alas," said he to himself in the heaviness of his heart, "if I go
within the gates, Polydamas will be the first to heap reproach upon
me, for it was he that urged me to lead the Trojans back to the city
on that awful night when Achilles again came forth against us. I would
not listen, but it would have been indeed better if I had done so. Now
that my folly has destroyed the host, I dare not look Trojan men and
Trojan women in the face, lest a worse man should say, 'Hector has
ruined us by his self-confidence.' Surely it would be better for me to
return after having fought Achilles and slain him, or to die
gloriously here before the city. What, again, if were to lay down my
shield and helmet, lean my spear against the wall and go straight up
to noble Achilles? What if I were to promise to give up Helen, who was
the fountainhead of all this war, and all the treasure that Alexandrus
brought with him in his ships to Troy, aye, and to let the Achaeans
divide the half of everything that the city contains among themselves?
I might make the Trojans, by the mouths of their princes, take a
solemn oath that they would hide nothing, but would divide into two
shares all that is within the city- but why argue with myself in
this way? Were I to go up to him he would show me no kind of mercy; he
would kill me then and there as easily as though I were a woman,
when I had off my armour. There is no parleying with him from some
rock or oak tree as young men and maidens prattle with one another.
Better fight him at once, and learn to which of us Jove will vouchsafe
victory."
Thus did he stand and ponder, but Achilles came up to him as it were
Mars himself, plumed lord of battle. From his right shoulder he
brandished his terrible spear of Pelian ash, and the bronze gleamed
around him like flashing fire or the rays of the rising sun. Fear fell
upon Hector as he beheld him, and he dared not stay longer where he
was but fled in dismay from before the gates, while Achilles darted
after him at his utmost speed. As a mountain falcon, swiftest of all
birds, swoops down upon some cowering dove- the dove flies before
him but the falcon with a shrill scream follows close after,
resolved to have her- even so did Achilles make straight for Hector
with all his might, while Hector fled under the Trojan wall as fast as
his limbs could take him.
On they flew along the waggon-road that ran hard by under the
wall, past the lookout station, and past the weather-beaten wild
fig-tree, till they came to two fair springs which feed the river
Scamander. One of these two springs is warm, and steam rises from it
as smoke from a burning fire, but the other even in summer is as
cold as hail or snow, or the ice that forms on water. Here, hard by
the springs, are the goodly washing-troughs of stone, where in the
time of peace before the coming of the Achaeans the wives and fair
daughters of the Trojans used to wash their clothes. Past these did
they fly, the one in front and the other giving ha. behind him: good
was the man that fled, but better far was he that followed after,
and swiftly indeed did they run, for the prize was no mere beast for
sacrifice or bullock's hide, as it might be for a common foot-race,
but they ran for the life of Hector. As horses in a chariot race speed
round the turning-posts when they are running for some great prize-
a tripod or woman- at the games in honour of some dead hero, so did
these two run full speed three times round the city of Priam. All
the gods watched them, and the sire of gods and men was the first to
speak.
"Alas," said he, "my eyes behold a man who is dear to me being
pursued round the walls of Troy; my heart is full of pity for
Hector, who has burned the thigh-bones of many a heifer in my
honour, at one while on the of many-valleyed Ida, and again on the
citadel of Troy; and now I see noble Achilles in full pursuit of him
round the city of Priam. What say you? Consider among yourselves and
decide whether we shall now save him or let him fall, valiant though
he be, before Achilles, son of Peleus."
Then Minerva said, "Father, wielder of the lightning, lord of
cloud and storm, what mean you? Would you pluck this mortal whose doom
has long been decreed out of the jaws of death? Do as you will, but we
others shall not be of a mind with you."
And Jove answered, "My child, Trito-born, take heart. I did not
speak in full earnest, and I will let you have your way. Do without
let or hindrance as you are minded."
Thus did he urge Minerva who was already eager, and down she
darted from the topmost summits of Olympus.
Achilles was still in full pursuit of Hector, as a hound chasing a
fawn which he has started from its covert on the mountains, and
hunts through glade and thicket. The fawn may try to elude him by
crouching under cover of a bush, but he will scent her out and
follow her up until he gets her- even so there was no escape for
Hector from the fleet son of Peleus. Whenever he made a set to get
near the Dardanian gates and under the walls, that his people might
help him by showering down weapons from above, Achilles would gain
on him and head him back towards the plain, keeping himself always
on the city side. As a man in a dream who fails to lay hands upon
another whom he is pursuing- the one cannot escape nor the other
overtake- even so neither could Achilles come up with Hector, nor
Hector break away from Achilles; nevertheless he might even yet have
escaped death had not the time come when Apollo, who thus far had
sustained his strength and nerved his running, was now no longer to
stay by him. Achilles made signs to the Achaean host, and shook his
head to show that no man was to aim a dart at Hector, lest another
might win the glory of having hit him and he might himself come in
second. Then, at last, as they were nearing the fountains for the
fourth time, the father of all balanced his golden scales and placed a
doom in each of them, one for Achilles and the other for Hector. As he
held the scales by the middle, the doom of Hector fell down deep
into the house of Hades- and then Phoebus Apollo left him. Thereon
Minerva went close up to the son of Peleus and said, "Noble
Achilles, favoured of heaven, we two shall surely take back to the
ships a triumph for the Achaeans by slaying Hector, for all his lust
of battle. Do what Apollo may as he lies grovelling before his father,
aegis-bearing Jove, Hector cannot escape us longer. Stay here and take
breath, while I go up to him and persuade him to make a stand and
fight you."
Thus spoke Minerva. Achilles obeyed her gladly, and stood still,
leaning on his bronze-pointed ashen spear, while Minerva left him
and went after Hector in the form and with the voice of Deiphobus. She
came close up to him and said, "Dear brother, I see you are hard
pressed by Achilles who is chasing you at full speed round the city of
Priam, let us await his onset and stand on our defence."
And Hector answered, "Deiphobus, you have always been dearest to
me of all my brothers, children of Hecuba and Priam, but henceforth
I shall rate you yet more highly, inasmuch as you have ventured
outside the wall for my sake when all the others remain inside."
Then Minerva said, "Dear brother, my father and mother went down
on their knees and implored me, as did all my comrades, to remain
inside, so great a fear has fallen upon them all; but I was in an
agony of grief when I beheld you; now, therefore, let us two make a
stand and fight, and let there be no keeping our spears in reserve,
that we may learn whether Achilles shall kill us and bear off our
spoils to the ships, or whether he shall fall before you."
Thus did Minerva inveigle him by her cunning, and when the two
were now close to one another great Hector was first to speak. "I
will-no longer fly you, son of Peleus," said he, "as I have been doing
hitherto. Three times have I fled round the mighty city of Priam,
without daring to withstand you, but now, let me either slay or be
slain, for I am in the mind to face you. Let us, then, give pledges to
one another by our gods, who are the fittest witnesses and guardians
of all covenants; let it be agreed between us that if Jove
vouchsafes me the longer stay and I take your life, I am not to
treat your dead body in any unseemly fashion, but when I have stripped
you of your armour, I am to give up your body to the Achaeans. And
do you likewise."
Achilles glared at him and answered, "Fool, prate not to me about
covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and
lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out an
through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me,
nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall
fall and glut grim Mars with his life's blood. Put forth all your
strength; you have need now to prove yourself indeed a bold soldier
and man of war. You have no more chance, and Pallas Minerva will
forthwith vanquish you by my spear: you shall now pay me in full for
the grief you have caused me on account of my comrades whom you have
killed in battle."
He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it. Hector saw it
coming and avoided it; he watched it and crouched down so that it flew
over his head and stuck in the ground beyond; Minerva then snatched it
up and gave it back to Achilles without Hector's seeing her; Hector
thereon said to the son of Peleus, "You have missed your aim,
Achilles, peer of the gods, and Jove has not yet revealed to you the
hour of my doom, though you made sure that he had done so. You were
a false-tongued liar when you deemed that I should forget my valour
and quail before you. You shall not drive spear into the back of a
runaway- drive it, should heaven so grant you power, drive it into
me as I make straight towards you; and now for your own part avoid
my spear if you can- would that you might receive the whole of it into
your body; if you were once dead the Trojans would find the war an
easier matter, for it is you who have harmed them most."
He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it. His aim was true
for he hit the middle of Achilles' shield, but the spear rebounded
from it, and did not pierce it. Hector was angry when he saw that
the weapon had sped from his hand in vain, and stood there in dismay
for he had no second spear. With a loud cry he called Diphobus and
asked him for one, but there was no man; then he saw the truth and
said to himself, "Alas! the gods have lured me on to my destruction. I
deemed that the hero Deiphobus was by my side, but he is within the
wall, and Minerva has inveigled me; death is now indeed exceedingly
near at hand and there is no way out of it- for so Jove and his son
Apollo the far-darter have willed it, though heretofore they have been
ever ready to protect me. My doom has come upon me; let me not then
die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some
great thing that shall be told among men hereafter."
As he spoke he drew the keen blade that hung so great and strong
by his side, and gathering himself together be sprang on Achilles like
a soaring eagle which swoops down from the clouds on to some lamb or
timid hare- even so did Hector brandish his sword and spring upon
Achilles. Achilles mad with rage darted towards him, with his wondrous
shield before his breast, and his gleaming helmet, made with four
layers of metal, nodding fiercely forward. The thick tresses of gold
wi which Vulcan had crested the helmet floated round it, and as the
evening star that shines brighter than all others through the
stillness of night, even such was the gleam of the spear which
Achilles poised in his right hand, fraught with the death of noble
Hector. He eyed his fair flesh over and over to see where he could
best wound it, but all was protected by the goodly armour of which
Hector had spoiled Patroclus after he had slain him, save only the
throat where the collar-bones divide the neck from the shoulders,
and this is a most deadly place: here then did Achilles strike him
as he was coming on towards him, and the point of his spear went right
through the fleshy part of the neck, but it did not sever his windpipe
so that he could still speak. Hector fell headlong, and Achilles
vaunted over him saying, "Hector, you deemed that you should come
off scatheless when you were spoiling Patroclus, and recked not of
myself who was not with him. Fool that you were: for I, his comrade,
mightier far than he, was still left behind him at the ships, and
now I have laid you low. The Achaeans shall give him all due funeral
rites, while dogs and vultures shall work their will upon yourself."
Then Hector said, as the life ebbed out of him, "I pray you by
your life and knees, and by your parents, let not dogs devour me at
the ships of the Achaeans, but accept the rich treasure of gold and
bronze which my father and mother will offer you, and send my body
home, that the Trojans and their wives may give me my dues of fire
when I am dead."
Achilles glared at him and answered, "Dog, talk not to me neither of
knees nor parents; would that I could be as sure of being able to
cut your flesh into pieces and eat it raw, for the ill have done me,
as I am that nothing shall save you from the dogs- it shall not be,
though they bring ten or twenty-fold ransom and weigh it out for me on
the spot, with promise of yet more hereafter. Though Priam son of
Dardanus should bid them offer me your weight in gold, even so your
mother shall never lay you out and make lament over the son she
bore, but dogs and vultures shall eat you utterly up."
Hector with his dying breath then said, "I know you what you are,
and was sure that I should not move you, for your heart is hard as
iron; look to it that I bring not heaven's anger upon you on the day
when Paris and Phoebus Apollo, valiant though you be, shall slay you
at the Scaean gates."
When he had thus said the shrouds of death enfolded him, whereon his
soul went out of him and flew down to the house of Hades, lamenting
its sad fate that it should en' youth and strength no longer. But
Achilles said, speaking to the dead body, "Die; for my part I will
accept my fate whensoever Jove and the other gods see fit to send it."
As he spoke he drew his spear from the body and set it on one
side; then he stripped the blood-stained armour from Hector's
shoulders while the other Achaeans came running up to view his
wondrous strength and beauty; and no one came near him without
giving him a fresh wound. Then would one turn to his neighbour and
say, "It is easier to handle Hector now than when he was flinging fire
on to our ships" and as he spoke he would thrust his spear into him
anew.
When Achilles had done spoiling Hector of his armour, he stood among
the Argives and said, "My friends, princes and counsellors of the
Argives, now that heaven has vouchsafed us to overcome this man, who
has done us more hurt than all the others together, consider whether
we should not attack the city in force, and discover in what mind
the Trojans may be. We should thus learn whether they will desert
their city now that Hector has fallen, or will still hold out even
though he is no longer living. But why argue with myself in this
way, while Patroclus is still lying at the ships unburied, and
unmourned- he Whom I can never forget so long as I am alive and my
strength fails not? Though men forget their dead when once they are
within the house of Hades, yet not even there will I forget the
comrade whom I have lost. Now, therefore, Achaean youths, let us raise
the song of victory and go back to the ships taking this man along
with us; for we have achieved a mighty triumph and have slain noble
Hector to whom the Trojans prayed throughout their city as though he
were a god."
On this he treated the body of Hector with contumely: he pierced the
sinews at the back of both his feet from heel to ancle and passed
thongs of ox-hide through the slits he had made: thus he made the body
fast to his chariot, letting the head trail upon the ground. Then when
he had put the goodly armour on the chariot and had himself mounted,
he lashed his horses on and they flew forward nothing loth. The dust
rose from Hector as he was being dragged along, his dark hair flew all
abroad, and his head once so comely was laid low on earth, for Jove
had now delivered him into the hands of his foes to do him outrage
in his own land.
Thus was the head of Hector being dishonoured in the dust. His
mother tore her hair, and flung her veil from her with a loud cry as
she looked upon her son. His father made piteous moan, and
throughout the city the people fell to weeping and wailing. It was
as though the whole of frowning Ilius was being smirched with fire.
Hardly could the people hold Priam back in his hot haste to rush
without the gates of the city. He grovelled in the mire and besought
them, calling each one of them by his name. "Let be, my friends," he
cried, "and for all your sorrow, suffer me to go single-handed to
the ships of the Achaeans. Let me beseech this cruel and terrible man,
if maybe he will respect the feeling of his fellow-men, and have
compassion on my old age. His own father is even such another as
myself- Peleus, who bred him and reared him to- be the bane of us
Trojans, and of myself more than of all others. Many a son of mine has
he slain in the flower of his youth, and yet, grieve for these as I
may, I do so for one- Hector- more than for them all, and the
bitterness of my sorrow will bring me down to the house of Hades.
Would that he had died in my arms, for so both his ill-starred
mother who bore him, and myself, should have had the comfort of
weeping and mourning over him."
Thus did he speak with many tears, and all the people of the city
joined in his lament. Hecuba then raised the cry of wailing among
the Trojans. "Alas, my son," she cried, "what have I left to live
for now that you are no more? Night and day did I glory in. you
throughout the city, for you were a tower of strength to all in
Troy, and both men and women alike hailed you as a god. So long as you
lived you were their pride, but now death and destruction have
fallen upon you."
Hector's wife had as yet heard nothing, for no one had come to
tell her that her husband had remained without the gates. She was at
her loom in an inner part of the house, weaving a double purple web,
and embroidering it with many flowers. She told her maids to set a
large tripod on the fire, so as to have a warm bath ready for Hector
when he came out of battle; poor woman, she knew not that he was now
beyond the reach of baths, and that Minerva had laid him low by the
hands of Achilles. She heard the cry coming as from the wall, and
trembled in every limb; the shuttle fell from her hands, and again she
spoke to her waiting-women. "Two of you," she said, "come with me that
I may learn what it is that has befallen; I heard the voice of my
husband's honoured mother; my own heart beats as though it would
come into my mouth and my limbs refuse to carry me; some great
misfortune for Priam's children must be at hand. May I never live to
hear it, but I greatly fear that Achilles has cut off the retreat of
brave Hector and has chased him on to the plain where he was
singlehanded; I fear he may have put an end to the reckless daring
which possessed my husband, who would never remain with the body of
his men, but would dash on far in front, foremost of them all in
valour."
Her heart beat fast, and as she spoke she flew from the house like a
maniac, with her waiting-women following after. When she reached the
battlements and the crowd of people, she stood looking out upon the
wall, and saw Hector being borne away in front of the city- the horses
dragging him without heed or care over the ground towards the ships of
the Achaeans. Her eyes were then shrouded as with the darkness of
night and she fell fainting backwards. She tore the tiring from her
head and flung it from her, the frontlet and net with its plaited
band, and the veil which golden Venus had given her on the day when
Hector took her with him from the house of Eetion, after having
given countless gifts of wooing for her sake. Her husband's sisters
and the wives of his brothers crowded round her and supported her, for
she was fain to die in her distraction; when she again presently
breathed and came to herself, she sobbed and made lament among the
Trojans saying, 'Woe is me, O Hector; woe, indeed, that to share a
common lot we were born, you at Troy in the house of Priam, and I at
Thebes under the wooded mountain of Placus in the house of Eetion
who brought me up when I was a child- ill-starred sire of an
ill-starred daughter- would that he had never begotten me. You are now
going into the house of Hades under the secret places of the earth,
and you leave me a sorrowing widow in your house. The child, of whom
you and I are the unhappy parents, is as yet a mere infant. Now that
you are gone, O Hector, you can do nothing for him nor he for you.
Even though he escape the horrors of this woful war with the Achaeans,
yet shall his life henceforth be one of labour and sorrow, for
others will seize his lands. The day that robs a child of his
parents severs him from his own kind; his head is bowed, his cheeks
are wet with tears, and he will go about destitute among the friends
of his father, plucking one by the cloak and another by the shirt.
Some one or other of these may so far pity him as to hold the cup
for a moment towards him and let him moisten his lips, but he must not
drink enough to wet the roof of his mouth; then one whose parents
are alive will drive him from the table with blows and angry words.
'Out with you,' he will say, 'you have no father here,' and the
child will go crying back to his widowed mother- he, Astyanax, who
erewhile would sit upon his father's knees, and have none but the
daintiest and choicest morsels set before him. When he had played till
he was tired and went to sleep, he would lie in a bed, in the arms
of his nurse, on a soft couch, knowing neither want nor care,
whereas now that he has lost his father his lot will be full of
hardship- he, whom the Trojans name Astyanax, because you, O Hector,
were the only defence of their gates and battlements. The wriggling
writhing worms will now eat you at the ships, far from your parents,
when the dogs have glutted themselves upon you. You will lie naked,
although in your house you have fine and goodly raiment made by
hands of women. This will I now burn; it is of no use to you, for
you can never again wear it, and thus you will have respect shown
you by the Trojans both men and women."
In such wise did she cry aloud amid her tears, and the women
joined in her lament.

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Gotham - Book II

How much mistaken are the men who think
That all who will, without restraint may drink,
May largely drink, e'en till their bowels burst,
Pleading no right but merely that of thirst,
At the pure waters of the living well,
Beside whose streams the Muses love to dwell!
Verse is with them a knack, an idle toy,
A rattle gilded o'er, on which a boy
May play untaught, whilst, without art or force,
Make it but jingle, music comes of course.
Little do such men know the toil, the pains,
The daily, nightly racking of the brains,
To range the thoughts, the matter to digest,
To cull fit phrases, and reject the rest;
To know the times when Humour on the cheek
Of Mirth may hold her sports; when Wit should speak,
And when be silent; when to use the powers
Of ornament, and how to place the flowers,
So that they neither give a tawdry glare,
'Nor waste their sweetness in the desert air;'
To form, (which few can do, and scarcely one,
One critic in an age, can find when done)
To form a plan, to strike a grand outline,
To fill it up, and make the picture shine
A full and perfect piece; to make coy Rhyme
Renounce her follies, and with Sense keep time;
To make proud Sense against her nature bend,
And wear the chains of Rhyme, yet call her friend.
Some fops there are, amongst the scribbling tribe,
Who make it all their business to describe,
No matter whether in or out of place;
Studious of finery, and fond of lace,
Alike they trim, as coxcomb Fancy brings,
The rags of beggars, and the robes of kings.
Let dull Propriety in state preside
O'er her dull children, Nature is their guide;
Wild Nature, who at random breaks the fence
Of those tame drudges, Judgment, Taste, and Sense,
Nor would forgive herself the mighty crime
Of keeping terms with Person, Place, and Time.
Let liquid gold emblaze the sun at noon,
With borrow'd beams let silver pale the moon;
Let surges hoarse lash the resounding shore,
Let streams meander, and let torrents roar;
Let them breed up the melancholy breeze,
To sigh with sighing, sob with sobbing trees;
Let vales embroidery wear; let flowers be tinged
With various tints; let clouds be laced or fringed,
They have their wish; like idle monarch boys,
Neglecting things of weight, they sigh for toys;
Give them the crown, the sceptre, and the robe,
Who will may take the power, and rule the globe.
Others there are, who, in one solemn pace,
With as much zeal as Quakers rail at lace,
Railing at needful ornament, depend
On Sense to bring them to their journey's end:
They would not (Heaven forbid!) their course delay,
Nor for a moment step out of the way,
To make the barren road those graces wear
Which Nature would, if pleased, have planted there.
Vain men! who, blindly thwarting Nature's plan,
Ne'er find a passage to the heart of man;
Who, bred 'mongst fogs in academic land,
Scorn every thing they do not understand;
Who, destitute of humour, wit, and taste,
Let all their little knowledge run to waste,
And frustrate each good purpose, whilst they wear
The robes of Learning with a sloven's air.
Though solid reasoning arms each sterling line,
Though Truth declares aloud, 'This work is mine,'
Vice, whilst from page to page dull morals creep,
Throws by the book, and Virtue falls asleep.
Sense, mere dull, formal Sense, in this gay town,
Must have some vehicle to pass her down;
Nor can she for an hour insure her reign,
Unless she brings fair Pleasure in her train.
Let her from day to day, from year to year,
In all her grave solemnities appear,
And with the voice of trumpets, through the streets,
Deal lectures out to every one she meets;
Half who pass by are deaf, and t' other half
Can hear indeed, but only hear to laugh.
Quit then, ye graver sons of letter'd Pride!
Taking for once Experience as a guide,
Quit this grand error, this dull college mode;
Be your pursuits the same, but change the road;
Write, or at least appear to write, with ease,
'And if you mean to profit, learn to please.'
In vain for such mistakes they pardon claim,
Because they wield the pen in Virtue's name:
Thrice sacred is that name, thrice bless'd the man
Who thinks, speaks, writes, and lives on such a plan!
This, in himself, himself of course must bless,
But cannot with the world promote success.
He may be strong, but, with effect to speak,
Should recollect his readers may be weak;
Plain, rigid truths, which saints with comfort bear,
Will make the sinner tremble and despair.
True Virtue acts from love, and the great end
At which she nobly aims is to amend.
How then do those mistake who arm her laws
With rigour not their own, and hurt the cause
They mean to help, whilst with a zealot rage
They make that goddess, whom they'd have engage
Our dearest love, in hideous terror rise!
Such may be honest, but they can't be wise.
In her own full and perfect blaze of light,
Virtue breaks forth too strong for human sight;
The dazzled eye, that nice but weaker sense,
Shuts herself up in darkness for defence:
But to make strong conviction deeper sink,
To make the callous feel, the thoughtless think,
Like God, made man, she lays her glory by,
And beams mild comfort on the ravish'd eye:
In earnest most, when most she seems in jest,
She worms into, and winds around, the breast,
To conquer Vice, of Vice appears the friend,
And seems unlike herself to gain her end.
The sons of Sin, to while away the time
Which lingers on their hands, of each black crime
To hush the painful memory, and keep
The tyrant Conscience in delusive sleep,
Read on at random, nor suspect the dart
Until they find it rooted in their heart.
'Gainst vice they give their vote, nor know at first
That, cursing that, themselves too they have cursed;
They see not, till they fall into the snares,
Deluded into virtue unawares.
Thus the shrewd doctor, in the spleen-struck mind,
When pregnant horror sits, and broods o'er wind,
Discarding drugs, and striving how to please,
Lures on insensibly, by slow degrees,
The patient to those manly sports which bind
The slacken'd sinews, and relieve the mind;
The patient feels a change as wrought by stealth,
And wonders on demand to find it health.
Some few, whom Fate ordain'd to deal in rhymes
In other lands, and here, in other times,
Whom, waiting at their birth, the midwife Muse
Sprinkled all over with Castalian dews,
To whom true Genius gave his magic pen,
Whom Art by just degrees led up to men;
Some few, extremes well shunn'd, have steer'd between
These dangerous rocks, and held the golden mean;
Sense in their works maintains her proper state,
But never sleeps, or labours with her weight;
Grace makes the whole look elegant and gay,
But never dares from Sense to run astray:
So nice the master's touch, so great his care,
The colours boldly glow, not idly glare;
Mutually giving and receiving aid,
They set each other off, like light and shade,
And, as by stealth, with so much softness blend,
'Tis hard to say where they begin or end:
Both give us charms, and neither gives offence;
Sense perfects Grace, and Grace enlivens Sense.
Peace to the men who these high honours claim,
Health to their souls, and to their memories fame!
Be it my task, and no mean task, to teach
A reverence for that worth I cannot reach:
Let me at distance, with a steady eye,
Observe and mark their passage to the sky;
From envy free, applaud such rising worth,
And praise their heaven, though pinion'd down to earth!
Had I the power, I could not have the time,
Whilst spirits flow, and life is in her prime,
Without a sin 'gainst Pleasure, to design
A plan, to methodise each thought, each line
Highly to finish, and make every grace,
In itself charming, take new charms from place.
Nothing of books, and little known of men,
When the mad fit comes on, I seize the pen,
Rough as they run, the rapid thoughts set down.
Rough as they run, discharge them on the town.
Hence rude, unfinish'd brats, before their time,
Are born into this idle world of Rhyme,
And the poor slattern Muse is brought to bed
'With all her imperfections on her head.'
Some, as no life appears, no pulses play
Through the dull dubious mass, no breath makes way,
Doubt, greatly doubt, till for a glass they call,
Whether the child can be baptized at all;
Others, on other grounds, objections frame,
And, granting that the child may have a name,
Doubt, as the sex might well a midwife pose,
Whether they should baptize it Verse or Prose.
E'en what my masters please; bards, mild, meek men,
In love to critics, stumble now and then.
Something I do myself, and something too,
If they can do it, leave for them to do.
In the small compass of my careless page
Critics may find employment for an age:
Without my blunders, they were all undone;
I twenty feed, where Mason can feed one.
When Satire stoops, unmindful of her state,
To praise the man I love, curse him I hate;
When Sense, in tides of passion borne along,
Sinking to prose, degrades the name of song,
The censor smiles, and, whilst my credit bleeds,
With as high relish on the carrion feeds
As the proud earl fed at a turtle feast,
Who, turn'd by gluttony to worse than beast,
Ate till his bowels gush'd upon the floor,
Yet still ate on, and dying call'd for more.
When loose Digression, like a colt unbroke,
Spurning Connexion and her formal yoke,
Bounds through the forest, wanders far astray
From the known path, and loves to lose her way,
'Tis a full feast to all the mongrel pack
To run the rambler down, and bring her back.
When gay Description, Fancy's fairy child,
Wild without art, and yet with pleasure wild,
Waking with Nature at the morning hour
To the lark's call, walks o'er the opening flower
Which largely drank all night of heaven's fresh dew,
And, like a mountain nymph of Dian's crew,
So lightly walks, she not one mark imprints,
Nor brushes off the dews, nor soils the tints;
When thus Description sports, even at the time
That drums should beat, and cannons roar in rhyme,
Critics can live on such a fault as that
From one month to the other, and grow fat.
Ye mighty Monthly Judges! in a dearth
Of letter'd blockheads, conscious of the worth
Of my materials, which against your will
Oft you've confess'd, and shall confess it still;
Materials rich, though rude, inflamed with thought,
Though more by Fancy than by Judgment wrought
Take, use them as your own, a work begin
Which suits your genius well, and weave them in,
Framed for the critic loom, with critic art,
Till, thread on thread depending, part on part,
Colour with colour mingling, light with shade,
To your dull taste a formal work is made,
And, having wrought them into one grand piece,
Swear it surpasses Rome, and rivals Greece.
Nor think this much, for at one single word,
Soon as the mighty critic fiat's heard,
Science attends their call; their power is own'd;
Order takes place, and Genius is dethroned:
Letters dance into books, defiance hurl'd
At means, as atoms danced into a world.
Me higher business calls, a greater plan,
Worthy man's whole employ, the good of man,
The good of man committed to my charge:
If idle Fancy rambles forth at large,
Careless of such a trust, these harmless lays
May Friendship envy, and may Folly praise.
The crown of Gotham may some Scot assume,
And vagrant Stuarts reign in Churchill's room!
O my poor People! O thou wretched Earth!
To whose dear love, though not engaged by birth,
My heart is fix'd, my service deeply sworn,
How, (by thy father can that thought be borne?--
For monarchs, would they all but think like me,
Are only fathers in the best degree)
How must thy glories fade, in every land
Thy name be laugh'd to scorn, thy mighty hand
Be shorten'd, and thy zeal, by foes confess'd,
Bless'd in thyself, to make thy neighbours bless'd,
Be robb'd of vigour; how must Freedom's pile,
The boast of ages, which adorns the isle
And makes it great and glorious, fear'd abroad,
Happy at home, secure from force and fraud;
How must that pile, by ancient Wisdom raised
On a firm rock, by friends admired and praised,
Envied by foes, and wonder'd at by all,
In one short moment into ruins fall,
Should any slip of Stuart's tyrant race,
Or bastard or legitimate, disgrace
Thy royal seat of empire! But what care,
What sorrow must be mine, what deep despair
And self-reproaches, should that hated line
Admittance gain through any fault of mine!
Cursed be the cause whence Gotham's evils spring,
Though that cursed cause be found in Gotham's king.
Let War, with all his needy ruffian band,
In pomp of horror stalk through Gotham's land
Knee-deep in blood; let all her stately towers
Sink in the dust; that court which now is ours
Become a den, where beasts may, if they can,
A lodging find, nor fear rebuke from man;
Where yellow harvests rise, be brambles found;
Where vines now creep, let thistles curse the ground;
Dry in her thousand valleys be the rills;
Barren the cattle on her thousand hills;
Where Power is placed, let tigers prowl for prey;
Where Justice lodges, let wild asses bray;
Let cormorants in churches make their nest,
And on the sails of Commerce bitterns rest;
Be all, though princes in the earth before,
Her merchants bankrupts, and her marts no more;
Much rather would I, might the will of Fate
Give me to choose, see Gotham's ruin'd state
By ills on ills thus to the earth weigh'd down,
Than live to see a Stuart wear a crown.
Let Heaven in vengeance arm all Nature's host,
Those servants who their Maker know, who boast
Obedience as their glory, and fulfil,
Unquestion'd, their great Master's sacred will;
Let raging winds root up the boiling deep,
And, with Destruction big, o'er Gotham sweep;
Let rains rush down, till Faith, with doubtful eye,
Looks for the sign of mercy in the sky;
Let Pestilence in all her horrors rise;
Where'er I turn, let Famine blast my eyes;
Let the earth yawn, and, ere they've time to think,
In the deep gulf let all my subjects sink
Before my eyes, whilst on the verge I reel;
Feeling, but as a monarch ought to feel,
Not for myself, but them, I'll kiss the rod,
And, having own'd the justice of my God,
Myself with firmness to the ruin give,
And die with those for whom I wish to live.
This, (but may Heaven's more merciful decrees
Ne'er tempt his servant with such ills as these!)
This, or my soul deceives me, I could bear;
But that the Stuart race my crown should wear,
That crown, where, highly cherish'd, Freedom shone
Bright as the glories of the midday sun;
Born and bred slaves, that they, with proud misrule,
Should make brave freeborn men, like boys at school,
To the whip crouch and tremble--Oh, that thought!
The labouring brain is e'en to madness brought
By the dread vision; at the mere surmise
The thronging spirits, as in tumult, rise;
My heart, as for a passage, loudly beats,
And, turn me where I will, distraction meets.
O my brave fellows! great in arts and arms,
The wonder of the earth, whom glory warms
To high achievements; can your spirits bend,
Through base control (ye never can descend
So low by choice) to wear a tyrant's chain,
Or let, in Freedom's seat, a Stuart reign?
If Fame, who hath for ages, far and wide,
Spread in all realms the cowardice, the pride,
The tyranny and falsehood of those lords,
Contents you not, search England's fair records;
England, where first the breath of life I drew,
Where, next to Gotham, my best love is due;
There once they ruled, though crush'd by William's hand,
They rule no more, to curse that happy land.
The first, who, from his native soil removed,
Held England's sceptre, a tame tyrant proved:
Virtue he lack'd, cursed with those thoughts which spring
In souls of vulgar stamp, to be a king;
Spirit he had not, though he laugh'd at laws.
To play the bold-faced tyrant with applause;
On practices most mean he raised his pride,
And Craft oft gave what Wisdom oft denied.
Ne'er could he feel how truly man is blest
In blessing those around him; in his breast,
Crowded with follies, Honour found no room;
Mark'd for a coward in his mother's womb,
He was too proud without affronts to live,
Too timorous to punish or forgive.
To gain a crown which had, in course of time,
By fair descent, been his without a crime,
He bore a mother's exile; to secure
A greater crown, he basely could endure
The spilling of her blood by foreign knife,
Nor dared revenge her death who gave him life:
Nay, by fond Pear, and fond Ambition led,
Struck hands with those by whom her blood was shed.
Call'd up to power, scarce warm on England's throne,
He fill'd her court with beggars from his own:
Turn where you would, the eye with Scots was caught,
Or English knaves, who would be Scotsmen thought.
To vain expense unbounded loose he gave,
The dupe of minions, and of slaves the slave;
On false pretences mighty sums he raised,
And damn'd those senates rich, whom poor he praised;
From empire thrown, and doom'd to beg her bread,
On foreign bounty whilst a daughter fed,
He lavish'd sums, for her received, on men
Whose names would fix dishonour on my pen.
Lies were his playthings, parliaments his sport;
Book-worms and catamites engross'd the court:
Vain of the scholar, like all Scotsmen since,
The pedant scholar, he forgot the prince;
And having with some trifles stored his brain,
Ne'er learn'd, nor wish'd to learn, the art to reign.
Enough he knew, to make him vain and proud,
Mock'd by the wise, the wonder of the crowd;
False friend, false son, false father, and false king,
False wit, false statesman, and false everything,
When he should act, he idly chose to prate,
And pamphlets wrote, when he should save the state.
Religious, if religion holds in whim;
To talk with all, he let all talk with him;
Not on God's honour, but his own intent,
Not for religion's sake, but argument;
More vain if some sly, artful High-Dutch slave,
Or, from the Jesuit school, some precious knave
Conviction feign'd, than if, to peace restored
By his full soldiership, worlds hail'd him lord.
Power was his wish, unbounded as his will,
The power, without control, of doing ill;
But what he wish'd, what he made bishops preach,
And statesmen warrant, hung within his reach
He dared not seize; Fear gave, to gall his pride,
That freedom to the realm his will denied.
Of treaties fond, o'erweening of his parts,
In every treaty of his own mean arts
He fell the dupe; peace was his coward care,
E'en at a time when Justice call'd for war:
His pen he'd draw to prove his lack of wit,
But rather than unsheath the sword, submit.
Truth fairly must record; and, pleased to live
In league with Mercy, Justice may forgive
Kingdoms betray'd, and worlds resign'd to Spain,
But never can forgive a Raleigh slain.
At length, (with white let Freedom mark that year)
Not fear'd by those whom most he wish'd to fear,
Not loved by those whom most he wish'd to love,
He went to answer for his faults above;
To answer to that God, from whom alone
He claim'd to hold, and to abuse the throne;
Leaving behind, a curse to all his line,
The bloody legacy of Right Divine.
With many virtues which a radiance fling
Round private men; with few which grace a king,
And speak the monarch; at that time of life
When Passion holds with Reason doubtful strife,
Succeeded Charles, by a mean sire undone,
Who envied virtue even in a son.
His youth was froward, turbulent, and wild;
He took the Man up ere he left the Child;
His soul was eager for imperial sway,
Ere he had learn'd the lesson to obey.
Surrounded by a fawning, flattering throng,
Judgment each day grew weak, and humour strong;
Wisdom was treated as a noisome weed,
And all his follies left to run to seed.
What ills from such beginnings needs must spring!
What ills to such a land from such a king!
What could she hope! what had she not to fear!
Base Buckingham possess'd his youthful ear;
Strafford and Laud, when mounted on the throne,
Engross'd his love, and made him all their own;
Strafford and Laud, who boldly dared avow
The traitorous doctrine taught by Tories now;
Each strove to undo him in his turn and hour,
The first with pleasure, and the last with power.
Thinking (vain thought, disgraceful to the throne!)
That all mankind were made for kings alone;
That subjects were but slaves; and what was whim,
Or worse, in common men, was law in him;
Drunk with Prerogative, which Fate decreed
To guard good kings, and tyrants to mislead;
Which in a fair proportion to deny
Allegiance dares not; which to hold too high,
No good can wish, no coward king can dare,
And, held too high, no English subject bear;
Besieged by men of deep and subtle arts,
Men void of principle, and damn'd with parts,
Who saw his weakness, made their king their tool,
Then most a slave, when most he seem'd to rule;
Taking all public steps for private ends,
Deceived by favourites, whom he called friends,
He had not strength enough of soul to find
That monarchs, meant as blessings to mankind,
Sink their great state, and stamp their fame undone,
When what was meant for all, they give to one.
Listening uxorious whilst a woman's prate
Modell'd the church, and parcell'd out the state,
Whilst (in the state not more than women read)
High-churchmen preach'd, and turn'd his pious head;
Tutor'd to see with ministerial eyes;
Forbid to hear a loyal nation's cries;
Made to believe (what can't a favourite do?)
He heard a nation, hearing one or two;
Taught by state-quacks himself secure to think,
And out of danger e'en on danger's brink;
Whilst power was daily crumbling from his hand,
Whilst murmurs ran through an insulted land,
As if to sanction tyrants Heaven was bound,
He proudly sought the ruin which he found.
Twelve years, twelve tedious and inglorious years,
Did England, crush'd by power, and awed by fears,
Whilst proud Oppression struck at Freedom's root,
Lament her senates lost, her Hampden mute.
Illegal taxes and oppressive loans,
In spite of all her pride, call'd forth her groans;
Patience was heard her griefs aloud to tell,
And Loyalty was tempted to rebel.
Each day new acts of outrage shook the state,
New courts were raised to give new doctrines weight;
State inquisitions kept the realm in awe,
And cursed Star-Chambers made or ruled the law;
Juries were pack'd, and judges were unsound;
Through the whole kingdom not one Pratt was found.
From the first moments of his giddy youth
He hated senates, for they told him truth.
At length, against his will compell'd to treat,
Those whom he could not fright, he strove to cheat;
With base dissembling every grievance heard,
And, often giving, often broke his word.
Oh, where shall hapless Truth for refuge fly,
If kings, who should protect her, dare to lie?
Those who, the general good their real aim,
Sought in their country's good their monarch's fame;
Those who were anxious for his safety; those
Who were induced by duty to oppose,
Their truth suspected, and their worth unknown,
He held as foes and traitors to his throne;
Nor found his fatal error till the hour
Of saving him was gone and past; till power
Had shifted hands, to blast his hapless reign,
Making their faith and his repentance vain.
Hence (be that curse confined to Gotham's foes!)
War, dread to mention, Civil War arose;
All acts of outrage, and all acts of shame,
Stalk'd forth at large, disguised with Honour's name;
Rebellion, raising high her bloody hand,
Spread universal havoc through the land;
With zeal for party, and with passion drunk,
In public rage all private love was sunk;
Friend against friend, brother 'gainst brother stood,
And the son's weapon drank the father's blood;
Nature, aghast, and fearful lest her reign
Should last no longer, bled in every vein.
Unhappy Stuart! harshly though that name
Grates on my ear, I should have died with shame
To see my king before his subjects stand,
And at their bar hold up his royal hand;
At their commands to hear the monarch plead,
By their decrees to see that monarch bleed.
What though thy faults were many and were great?
What though they shook the basis of the state?
In royalty secure thy person stood,
And sacred was the fountain of thy blood.
Vile ministers, who dared abuse their trust,
Who dared seduce a king to be unjust,
Vengeance, with Justice leagued, with Power made strong,
Had nobly crush'd--'The king could do no wrong.'
Yet grieve not, Charles! nor thy hard fortunes blame;
They took thy life, but they secured thy fame.
Their greatest crimes made thine like specks appear,
From which the sun in glory is not clear.
Hadst thou in peace and years resign'd thy breath
At Nature's call; hadst thou laid down in death
As in a sleep, thy name, by Justice borne
On the four winds, had been in pieces torn.
Pity, the virtue of a generous soul,
Sometimes the vice, hath made thy memory whole.
Misfortunes gave what Virtue could not give,
And bade, the tyrant slain, the martyr live.
Ye Princes of the earth! ye mighty few!
Who, worlds subduing, can't yourselves subdue;
Who, goodness scorn'd, wish only to be great;
Whose breath is blasting, and whose voice is fate;
Who own no law, no reason, but your will,
And scorn restraint, though 'tis from doing ill;
Who of all passions groan beneath the worst,
Then only bless'd when they make others cursed;
Think not, for wrongs like these, unscourged to live;
Long may ye sin, and long may Heaven forgive;
But when ye least expect, in sorrow's day,
Vengeance shall fall more heavy for delay;
Nor think that vengeance heap'd on you alone
Shall (poor amends!) for injured worlds atone;
No, like some base distemper, which remains,
Transmitted from the tainted father's veins,
In the son's blood, such broad and general crimes
Shall call down vengeance e'en to latest times,
Call vengeance down on all who bear your name,
And make their portion bitterness and shame.
From land to land for years compell'd to roam,
Whilst Usurpation lorded it at home,
Of majesty unmindful, forced to fly,
Not daring, like a king, to reign or die,
Recall'd to repossess his lawful throne,
More at his people's seeking than his own,
Another Charles succeeded. In the school
Of Travel he had learn'd to play the fool;
And, like pert pupils with dull tutors sent
To shame their country on the Continent,
From love of England by long absence wean'd,
From every court he every folly glean'd,
And was--so close do evil habits cling--
Till crown'd, a beggar; and when crown'd, no king.
Those grand and general powers, which Heaven design'd,
An instance of his mercy to mankind,
Were lost, in storms of dissipation hurl'd,
Nor would he give one hour to bless a world;
Lighter than levity which strides the blast,
And, of the present fond, forgets the past,
He changed and changed, but, every hope to curse,
Changed only from one folly to a worse:
State he resign'd to those whom state could please;
Careless of majesty, his wish was ease;
Pleasure, and pleasure only, was his aim;
Kings of less wit might hunt the bubble Fame;
Dignity through his reign was made a sport,
Nor dared Decorum show her face at court;
Morality was held a standing jest,
And Faith a necessary fraud at best.
Courtiers, their monarch ever in their view,
Possess'd great talents, and abused them too;
Whate'er was light, impertinent, and vain,
Whate'er was loose, indecent, and profane,
(So ripe was Folly, Folly to acquit)
Stood all absolved in that poor bauble, Wit.
In gratitude, alas! but little read,
He let his father's servants beg their bread--
His father's faithful servants, and his own,
To place the foes of both around his throne.
Bad counsels he embraced through indolence,
Through love of ease, and not through want of sense;
He saw them wrong, but rather let them go
As right, than take the pains to make them so.
Women ruled all, and ministers of state
Were for commands at toilets forced to wait:
Women, who have, as monarchs, graced the land,
But never govern'd well at second-hand.
To make all other errors slight appear,
In memory fix'd, stand Dunkirk and Tangier;
In memory fix'd so deep, that Time in vain
Shall strive to wipe those records from the brain,
Amboyna stands--Gods! that a king could hold
In such high estimate vile paltry gold,
And of his duty be so careless found,
That when the blood of subjects from the ground
For vengeance call'd, he should reject their cry,
And, bribed from honour, lay his thunders by,
Give Holland peace, whilst English victims groan'd,
And butcher'd subjects wander'd unatoned!
Oh, dear, deep injury to England's fame,
To them, to us, to all! to him deep shame!
Of all the passions which from frailty spring,
Avarice is that which least becomes a king.
To crown the whole, scorning the public good,
Which through his reign he little understood,
Or little heeded, with too narrow aim
He reassumed a bigot brother's claim,
And having made time-serving senates bow,
Suddenly died--that brother best knew how.
No matter how--he slept amongst the dead,
And James his brother reigned in his stead:
But such a reign--so glaring an offence
In every step 'gainst freedom, law, and sense,
'Gainst all the rights of Nature's general plan,
'Gainst all which constitutes an Englishman,
That the relation would mere fiction seem,
The mock creation of a poet's dream;
And the poor bards would, in this sceptic age,
Appear as false as _their_ historian's page.
Ambitious Folly seized the seat of Wit,
Christians were forced by bigots to submit;
Pride without sense, without religion Zeal,
Made daring inroads on the Commonweal;
Stern Persecution raised her iron rod,
And call'd the pride of kings, the power of God;
Conscience and Fame were sacrificed to Rome,
And England wept at Freedom's sacred tomb.
Her laws despised, her constitution wrench'd
From its due natural frame, her rights retrench'd
Beyond a coward's sufferance, conscience forced,
And healing Justice from the Crown divorced,
Each moment pregnant with vile acts of power,
Her patriot Bishops sentenced to the Tower,
Her Oxford (who yet loves the Stuart name)
Branded with arbitrary marks of shame,
She wept--but wept not long: to arms she flew,
At Honour's call the avenging sword she drew,
Turn'd all her terrors on the tyrant's head,
And sent him in despair to beg his bread;
Whilst she, (may every State in such distress
Dare with such zeal, and meet with such success!)
Whilst she, (may Gotham, should my abject mind
Choose to enslave rather than free mankind,
Pursue her steps, tear the proud tyrant down,
Nor let me wear if I abuse the crown!)
Whilst she, (through every age, in every land,
Written in gold, let Revolution stand!)
Whilst she, secured in liberty and law,
Found what she sought, a saviour in Nassau.

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Alastor: or, the Spirit of Solitude

Earth, Ocean, Air, belovèd brotherhood!
If our great Mother has imbued my soul
With aught of natural piety to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even,
With sunset and its gorgeous ministers,
And solemn midnight's tingling silentness;
If Autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood,
And Winter robing with pure snow and crowns
Of starry ice the gray grass and bare boughs;
If Spring's voluptuous pantings when she breathes
Her first sweet kisses,--have been dear to me;
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast
I consciously have injured, but still loved
And cherished these my kindred; then forgive
This boast, belovèd brethren, and withdraw
No portion of your wonted favor now!

Mother of this unfathomable world!
Favor my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my bed
In charnels and on coffins, where black death
Keeps record of the trophies won from thee,
Hoping to still these obstinate questionings
Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost,
Thy messenger, to render up the tale
Of what we are. In lone and silent hours,
When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness,
Like an inspired and desperate alchemist
Staking his very life on some dark hope,
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks
With my most innocent love, until strange tears,
Uniting with those breathless kisses, made
Such magic as compels the charmèd night
To render up thy charge; and, though ne'er yet
Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and deep noonday thought,
Has shone within me, that serenely now
And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre
Suspended in the solitary dome
Of some mysterious and deserted fane,
I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain
May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.

There was a Poet whose untimely tomb
No human hands with pious reverence reared,
But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds
Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid
Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness:
A lovely youth,--no mourning maiden decked
With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath,
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:
Gentle, and brave, and generous,--no lorn bard
Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh:
He lived, he died, he sung in solitude.
Strangers have wept to hear his passionate notes,
And virgins, as unknown he passed, have pined
And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes.
The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to burn,
And Silence, too enamoured of that voice,
Locks its mute music in her rugged cell.

By solemn vision and bright silver dream
His infancy was nurtured. Every sight
And sound from the vast earth and ambient air
Sent to his heart its choicest impulses.
The fountains of divine philosophy
Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great,
Or good, or lovely, which the sacred past
In truth or fable consecrates, he felt
And knew. When early youth had passed, he left
His cold fireside and alienated home
To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness
Has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought
With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men,
His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps
He like her shadow has pursued, where'er
The red volcano overcanopies
Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice
With burning smoke, or where bitumen lakes
On black bare pointed islets ever beat
With sluggish surge, or where the secret caves,
Rugged and dark, winding among the springs
Of fire and poison, inaccessible
To avarice or pride, their starry domes
Of diamond and of gold expand above
Numberless and immeasurable halls,
Frequent with crystal column, and clear shrines
Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chrysolite.
Nor had that scene of ampler majesty
Than gems or gold, the varying roof of heaven
And the green earth, lost in his heart its claims
To love and wonder; he would linger long
In lonesome vales, making the wild his home,
Until the doves and squirrels would partake
From his innocuous band his bloodless food,
Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks,
And the wild antelope, that starts whene'er
The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend
Her timid steps, to gaze upon a form
More graceful than her own.

His wandering step,
Obedient to high thoughts, has visited
The awful ruins of the days of old:
Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste
Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers
Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids,
Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange,
Sculptured on alabaster obelisk
Or jasper tomb or mutilated sphinx,
Dark Æthiopia in her desert hills
Conceals. Among the ruined temples there,
Stupendous columns, and wild images
Of more than man, where marble daemons watch
The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men
Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around,
He lingered, poring on memorials
Of the world's youth: through the long burning day
Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor, when the moon
Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades
Suspended he that task, but ever gazed
And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind
Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw
The thrilling secrets of the birth of time.

Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food,
Her daily portion, from her father's tent,
And spread her matting for his couch, and stole
From duties and repose to tend his steps,
Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe
To speak her love, and watched his nightly sleep,
Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips
Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath
Of innocent dreams arose; then, when red morn
Made paler the pale moon, to her cold home
Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned.

The Poet, wandering on, through Arabie,
And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste,
And o'er the aërial mountains which pour down
Indus and Oxus from their icy caves,
In joy and exultation held his way;
Till in the vale of Cashmire, far within
Its loneliest dell, where odorous plants entwine
Beneath the hollow rocks a natural bower,
Beside a sparkling rivulet he stretched
His languid limbs. A vision on his sleep
There came, a dream of hopes that never yet
Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a veilèd maid
Sate near him, talking in low solemn tones.
Her voice was like the voice of his own soul
Heard in the calm of thought; its music long,
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held
His inmost sense suspended in its web
Of many-colored woof and shifting hues.
Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme,
And lofty hopes of divine liberty,
Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy,
Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood
Of her pure mind kindled through all her frame
A permeating fire; wild numbers then
She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous sobs
Subdued by its own pathos; her fair hands
Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp
Strange symphony, and in their branching veins
The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale.
The beating of her heart was heard to fill
The pauses of her music, and her breath
Tumultuously accorded with those fits
Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose,
As if her heart impatiently endured
Its bursting burden; at the sound he turned,
And saw by the warm light of their own life
Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil
Of woven wind, her outspread arms now bare,
Her dark locks floating in the breath of night,
Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips
Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly.
His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess
Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs, and quelled
His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet
Her panting bosom:--she drew back awhile,
Then, yielding to the irresistible joy,
With frantic gesture and short breathless cry
Folded his frame in her dissolving arms.
Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night
Involved and swallowed up the vision; sleep,
Like a dark flood suspended in its course,
Rolled back its impulse on his vacant brain.

Roused by the shock, he started from his trance--
The cold white light of morning, the blue moon
Low in the west, the clear and garish hills,
The distinct valley and the vacant woods,
Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled
The hues of heaven that canopied his bower
Of yesternight? The sounds that soothed his sleep,
The mystery and the majesty of Earth,
The joy, the exultation? His wan eyes
Gaze on the empty scene as vacantly
As ocean's moon looks on the moon in heaven.
The spirit of sweet human love has sent
A vision to the sleep of him who spurned
Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues
Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade;
He overleaps the bounds. Alas! alas!
Were limbs and breath and being intertwined
Thus treacherously? Lost, lost, forever lost
In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep,
That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of death
Conduct to thy mysterious paradise,
O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds
And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake
Lead only to a black and watery depth,
While death's blue vault with loathliest vapors hung,
Where every shade which the foul grave exhales
Hides its dead eye from the detested day,
Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms?
This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his heart;
The insatiate hope which it awakened stung
His brain even like despair.

While daylight held
The sky, the Poet kept mute conference
With his still soul. At night the passion came,
Like the fierce fiend of a distempered dream,
And shook him from his rest, and led him forth
Into the darkness. As an eagle, grasped
In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast
Burn with the poison, and precipitates
Through night and day, tempest, and calm, and cloud,
Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind flight
O'er the wide aëry wilderness: thus driven
By the bright shadow of that lovely dream,
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night,
Through tangled swamps and deep precipitous dells,
Startling with careless step the moon-light snake,
He fled. Red morning dawned upon his flight,
Shedding the mockery of its vital hues
Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on
Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep
Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud;
Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs
Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind
Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on,
Day after day, a weary waste of hours,
Bearing within his life the brooding care
That ever fed on its decaying flame.
And now his limbs were lean; his scattered hair,
Sered by the autumn of strange suffering,
Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand
Hung like dead bone within its withered skin;
Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone,
As in a furnace burning secretly,
From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers,
Who ministered with human charity
His human wants, beheld with wondering awe
Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer,
Encountering on some dizzy precipice
That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit of Wind,
With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet
Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused
In its career; the infant would conceal
His troubled visage in his mother's robe
In terror at the glare of those wild eyes,
To remember their strange light in many a dream
Of after times; but youthful maidens, taught
By nature, would interpret half the woe
That wasted him, would call him with false names
Brother and friend, would press his pallid hand
At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path
Of his departure from their father's door.

At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore
He paused, a wide and melancholy waste
Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged
His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there,
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds.
It rose as he approached, and, with strong wings
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course
High over the immeasurable main.
His eyes pursued its flight:--'Thou hast a home,
Beautiful bird! thou voyagest to thine home,
Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy neck
With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy.
And what am I that I should linger here,
With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes,
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers
In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven
That echoes not my thoughts?' A gloomy smile
Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering lips.
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly
Its precious charge, and silent death exposed,
Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure,
With doubtful smile mocking its own strange charms.

Startled by his own thoughts, he looked around.
There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight
Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind.
A little shallop floating near the shore
Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze.
It had been long abandoned, for its sides
Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints
Swayed with the undulations of the tide.
A restless impulse urged him to embark
And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's waste;
For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves
The slimy caverns of the populous deep.

The day was fair and sunny; sea and sky
Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind
Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves.
Following his eager soul, the wanderer
Leaped in the boat; he spread his cloak aloft
On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat,
And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea
Like a torn cloud before the hurricane.

As one that in a silver vision floats
Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds
Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly
Along the dark and ruffled waters fled
The straining boat. A whirlwind swept it on,
With fierce gusts and precipitating force,
Through the white ridges of the chafèd sea.
The waves arose. Higher and higher still
Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge
Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp.
Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war
Of wave ruining on wave, and blast on blast
Descending, and black flood on whirlpool driven
With dark obliterating course, he sate:
As if their genii were the ministers
Appointed to conduct him to the light
Of those belovèd eyes, the Poet sate,
Holding the steady helm. Evening came on;
The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues
High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray
That canopied his path o'er the waste deep;
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east,
Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks
O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of Day;
Night followed, clad with stars. On every side
More horribly the multitudinous streams
Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war
Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to mock
The calm and spangled sky. The little boat
Still fled before the storm; still fled, like foam
Down the steep cataract of a wintry river;
Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave;
Now leaving far behind the bursting mass
That fell, convulsing ocean; safely fled--
As if that frail and wasted human form
Had been an elemental god.

At midnight
The moon arose; and lo! the ethereal cliffs
Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone
Among the stars like sunlight, and around
Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the waves
Bursting and eddying irresistibly
Rage and resound forever.--Who shall save?--
The boat fled on,--the boiling torrent drove,--
The crags closed round with black and jagged arms,
The shattered mountain overhung the sea,
And faster still, beyond all human speed,
Suspended on the sweep of the smooth wave,
The little boat was driven. A cavern there
Yawned, and amid its slant and winding depths
Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on
With unrelaxing speed.--'Vision and Love!'
The Poet cried aloud, 'I have beheld
The path of thy departure. Sleep and death
Shall not divide us long.'

The boat pursued
The windings of the cavern. Daylight shone
At length upon that gloomy river's flow;
Now, where the fiercest war among the waves
Is calm, on the unfathomable stream
The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain, riven,
Exposed those black depths to the azure sky,
Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell
Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound
That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass
Filled with one whirlpool all that ample chasm;
Stair above stair the eddying waters rose,
Circling immeasurably fast, and laved
With alternating dash the gnarlèd roots
Of mighty trees, that stretched their giant arms
In darkness over it. I' the midst was left,
Reflecting yet distorting every cloud,
A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm.
Seized by the sway of the ascending stream,
With dizzy swiftness, round and round and round,
Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose,
Till on the verge of the extremest curve,
Where through an opening of the rocky bank
The waters overflow, and a smooth spot
Of glassy quiet 'mid those battling tides
Is left, the boat paused shuddering.--Shall it sink
Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress
Of that resistless gulf embosom it?
Now shall it fall?--A wandering stream of wind
Breathed from the west, has caught the expanded sail,
And, lo! with gentle motion between banks
Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream,
Beneath a woven grove, it sails, and, hark!
The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar
With the breeze murmuring in the musical woods.
Where the embowering trees recede, and leave
A little space of green expanse, the cove
Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers
Forever gaze on their own drooping eyes,
Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave
Of the boat's motion marred their pensive task,
Which naught but vagrant bird, or wanton wind,
Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay
Had e'er disturbed before. The Poet longed
To deck with their bright hues his withered hair,
But on his heart its solitude returned,
And he forbore. Not the strong impulse hid
In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame,
Had yet performed its ministry; it hung
Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods
Of night close over it.

The noonday sun
Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves,
Scooped in the dark base of their aëry rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar forever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as, led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death,
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt some bank,
Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate. The oak,
Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang
Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks, and, as gamesome infants' eyes,
With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles,
Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make network of the dark blue light of day
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns
Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen
Sends from its woods of musk-rose twined with jasmine
A soul-dissolving odor to invite
To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell
Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
Like vaporous shapes half-seen; beyond, a well,
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
Images all the woven boughs above,
And each depending leaf, and every speck
Of azure sky darting between their chasms;
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star,
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon,
Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.

Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld
Their own wan light through the reflected lines
Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth
Of that still fountain; as the human heart,
Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave,
Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard
The motion of the leaves--the grass that sprung
Startled and glanced and trembled even to feel
An unaccustomed presence--and the sound
Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs
Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit seemed
To stand beside him--clothed in no bright robes
Of shadowy silver or enshrining light,
Borrowed from aught the visible world affords
Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;
But undulating woods, and silent well,
And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming,
Held commune with him, as if he and it
Were all that was; only--when his regard
Was raised by intense pensiveness--two eyes,
Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought,
And seemed with their serene and azure smiles
To beckon him.

Obedient to the light
That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing
The windings of the dell. The rivulet,
Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine
Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell
Among the moss with hollow harmony
Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones
It danced, like childhood laughing as it went;
Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept,
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud
That overhung its quietness.--'O stream!
Whose source is inaccessibly profound,
Whither do thy mysterious waters tend?
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness,
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs,
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course,
Have each their type in me; and the wide sky
And measureless ocean may declare as soon
What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud
Contains thy waters, as the universe
Tell where these living thoughts reside, when stretched
Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall waste
I' the passing wind!'

Beside the grassy shore
Of the small stream he went; he did impress
On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught
Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one
Roused by some joyous madness from the couch
Of fever, he did move; yet not like him
Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame
Of his frail exultation shall be spent,
He must descend. With rapid steps he went
Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow
Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now
The forest's solemn canopies were changed
For the uniform and lightsome evening sky.
Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed
The struggling brook; tall spires of windlestrae
Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope,
And nought but gnarlèd roots of ancient pines
Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots
The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here
Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away,
The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin
And white, and where irradiate dewy eyes
Had shone, gleam stony orbs:--so from his steps
Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade
Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds
And musical motions. Calm he still pursued
The stream, that with a larger volume now
Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there
Fretted a path through its descending curves
With its wintry speed. On every side now rose
Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms,
Lifted their black and barren pinnacles
In the light of evening, and its precipice
Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above,
'Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and yawning caves,
Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues
To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass expands
Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks,
And seems with its accumulated crags
To overhang the world; for wide expand
Beneath the wan stars and descending moon
Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams,
Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom
Of leaden-colored even, and fiery hills
Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge
Of the remote horizon. The near scene,
In naked and severe simplicity,
Made contrast with the universe. A pine,
Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy
Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast
Yielding one only response at each pause
In most familiar cadence, with the howl,
The thunder and the hiss of homeless streams
Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad river
Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path,
Fell into that immeasurable void,
Scattering its waters to the passing winds.

Yet the gray precipice and solemn pine
And torrent were not all;--one silent nook
Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain,
Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks,
It overlooked in its serenity
The dark earth and the bending vault of stars.
It was a tranquil spot that seemed to smile
Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped
The fissured stones with its entwining arms,
And did embower with leaves forever green
And berries dark the smooth and even space
Of its inviolated floor; and here
The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore
In wanton sport those bright leaves whose decay,
Red, yellow, or ethereally pale,
Rivals the pride of summer. 'T is the haunt
Of every gentle wind whose breath can teach
The wilds to love tranquillity. One step,
One human step alone, has ever broken
The stillness of its solitude; one voice
Alone inspired its echoes;--even that voice
Which hither came, floating among the winds,
And led the loveliest among human forms
To make their wild haunts the depository
Of all the grace and beauty that endued
Its motions, render up its majesty,
Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm,
And to the damp leaves and blue cavern mould,
Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching moss,
Commit the colors of that varying cheek,
That snowy breast, those dark and drooping eyes.

The dim and hornèd moon hung low, and poured
A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge
That overflowed its mountains. Yellow mist
Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and drank
Wan moonlight even to fulness; not a star
Shone, not a sound was heard; the very winds,
Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice
Slept, clasped in his embrace.--O storm of death,
Whose sightless speed divides this sullen night!
And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still
Guiding its irresistible career
In thy devastating omnipotence,
Art king of this frail world! from the red field
Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital,
The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed
Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne,
A mighty voice invokes thee! Ruin calls
His brother Death! A rare and regal prey
He hath prepared, prowling around the world;
Glutted with which thou mayst repose, and men
Go to their graves like flowers or creeping worms,
Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine
The unheeded tribute of a broken heart.

When on the threshold of the green recess
The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that death
Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled,
Did he resign his high and holy soul
To images of the majestic past,
That paused within his passive being now,
Like winds that bear sweet music, when they breathe
Through some dim latticed chamber. He did place
His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk
Of the old pine; upon an ivied stone
Reclined his languid head; his limbs did rest,
Diffused and motionless, on the smooth brink
Of that obscurest chasm;--and thus he lay,
Surrendering to their final impulses
The hovering powers of life. Hope and Despair,
The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or fear
Marred his repose; the influxes of sense
And his own being, unalloyed by pain,
Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed
The stream of thought, till he lay breathing there
At peace, and faintly smiling. His last sight
Was the great moon, which o'er the western line
Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended,
With whose dun beams inwoven darkness seemed
To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills
It rests; and still as the divided frame
Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood,
That ever beat in mystic sympathy
With Nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler still;
And when two lessening points of light alone
Gleamed through the darkness, the alternate gasp
Of his faint respiration scarce did stir
The stagnate night:--till the minutest ray
Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in his heart.
It paused--it fluttered. But when heaven remained
Utterly black, the murky shades involved
An image silent, cold, and motionless,
As their own voiceless earth and vacant air.
Even as a vapor fed with golden beams
That ministered on sunlight, ere the west
Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame--
No sense, no motion, no divinity--
A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings
The breath of heaven did wander--a bright stream
Once fed with many-voicèd waves--a dream
Of youth, which night and time have quenched forever--
Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered now.

Oh, for Medea's wondrous alchemy,
Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth gleam
With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs exhale
From vernal blooms fresh fragrance! Oh, that God,
Profuse of poisons, would concede the chalice
Which but one living man has drained, who now,
Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feels
No proud exemption in the blighting curse
He bears, over the world wanders forever,
Lone as incarnate death! Oh, that the dream
Of dark magician in his visioned cave,
Raking the cinders of a crucible
For life and power, even when his feeble hand
Shakes in its last decay, were the true law
Of this so lovely world! But thou art fled,
Like some frail exhalation, which the dawn
Robes in its golden beams,--ah! thou hast fled!
The brave, the gentle and the beautiful,
The child of grace and genius. Heartless things
Are done and said i' the world, and many worms
And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth
From sea and mountain, city and wilderness,
In vesper low or joyous orison,
Lifts still its solemn voice:--but thou art fled--
Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes
Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee
Been purest ministers, who are, alas!
Now thou art not! Upon those pallid lips
So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes
That image sleep in death, upon that form
Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear
Be shed--not even in thought. Nor, when those hues
Are gone, and those divinest lineaments,
Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone
In the frail pauses of this simple strain,
Let not high verse, mourning the memory
Of that which is no more, or painting's woe
Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery
Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o' the world, are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade.
It is a woe "too deep for tears," when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope;
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature's vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 18

Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
fleet runner Antilochus, who had been sent as messenger, reached
Achilles, and found him sitting by his tall ships and boding that
which was indeed too surely true. "Alas," said he to himself in the
heaviness of his heart, "why are the Achaeans again scouring the plain
and flocking towards the ships? Heaven grant the gods be not now
bringing that sorrow upon me of which my mother Thetis spoke, saying
that while I was yet alive the bravest of the Myrmidons should fall
before the Trojans, and see the light of the sun no longer. I fear the
brave son of Menoetius has fallen through his own daring and yet I
bade him return to the ships as soon as he had driven back those
that were bringing fire against them, and not join battle with
Hector."
As he was thus pondering, the son of Nestor came up to him and
told his sad tale, weeping bitterly the while. "Alas," he cried,
"son of noble Peleus, I bring you bad tidings, would indeed that
they were untrue. Patroclus has fallen, and a fight is raging about
his naked body- for Hector holds his armour."
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Achilles as he listened. He filled
both hands with dust from off the ground, and poured it over his head,
disfiguring his comely face, and letting the refuse settle over his
shirt so fair and new. He flung himself down all huge and hugely at
full length, and tore his hair with his hands. The bondswomen whom
Achilles and Patroclus had taken captive screamed aloud for grief,
beating their breasts, and with their limbs failing them for sorrow.
Antilochus bent over him the while, weeping and holding both his hands
as he lay groaning for he feared that he might plunge a knife into his
own throat. Then Achilles gave a loud cry and his mother heard him
as she was sitting in the depths of the sea by the old man her father,
whereon she screamed, and all the goddesses daughters of Nereus that
dwelt at the bottom of the sea, came gathering round her. There were
Glauce, Thalia and Cymodoce, Nesaia, Speo, thoe and dark-eyed Halie,
Cymothoe, Actaea and Limnorea, Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agave,
Doto and Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome and
Callianeira, Doris, Panope, and the famous sea-nymph Galatea,
Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianeira
and Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia and Amatheia of the lovely locks, with
other Nereids who dwell in the depths of the sea. The crystal cave was
filled with their multitude and they all beat their breasts while
Thetis led them in their lament.
"Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may
hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe in that I have
borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and strong, hero
among heroes, and he shot up as a sapling; I tended him as a plant
in a goodly garden, and sent him with his ships to Ilius to fight
the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of
Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun he is in
heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him. Nevertheless I
will go, that I may see my dear son and learn what sorrow has befallen
him though he is still holding aloof from battle."
She left the cave as she spoke, while the others followed weeping
after, and the waves opened a path before them. When they reached
the rich plain of Troy, they came up out of the sea in a long line
on to the sands, at the place where the ships of the Myrmidons were
drawn up in close order round the tents of Achilles. His mother went
up to him as he lay groaning; she laid her hand upon his head and
spoke piteously, saying, "My son, why are you thus weeping? What
sorrow has now befallen you? Tell me; hide it not from me. Surely Jove
has granted you the prayer you made him, when you lifted up your hands
and besought him that the Achaeans might all of them be pent up at
their ships, and rue it bitterly in that you were no longer with
them."
Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Jove has indeed
vouchsafed me the fulfilment of my prayer, but what boots it to me,
seeing that my dear comrade Patroclus has fallen- he whom I valued
more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life? I have
lost him; aye, and Hector when he had killed him stripped the wondrous
armour, so glorious to behold, which the gods gave to Peleus when they
laid you in the couch of a mortal man. Would that you were still
dwelling among the immortal sea-nymphs, and that Peleus had taken to
himself some mortal bride. For now you shall have grief infinite by
reason of the death of that son whom you can never welcome home-
nay, I will not live nor go about among mankind unless Hector fall
by my spear, and thus pay me for having slain Patroclus son of
Menoetius."
Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at hand-
for your own death awaits you full soon after that of Hector."
Then said Achilles in his great grief, "I would die here and now, in
that I could not save my comrade. He has fallen far from home, and
in his hour of need my hand was not there to help him. What is there
for me? Return to my own land I shall not, and I have brought no
saving neither to Patroclus nor to my other comrades of whom so many
have been slain by mighty Hector; I stay here by my ships a bootless
burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have no peer among the
Achaeans, though in council there are better than I. Therefore, perish
strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a
righteous man will harden his heart- which rises up in the soul of a
man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of
honey. Even so has Agamemnon angered me. And yet- so be it, for it
is over; I will force my soul into subjection as I needs must; I
will go; I will pursue Hector who has slain him whom I loved so
dearly, and will then abide my doom when it may please Jove and the
other gods to send it. Even Hercules, the best beloved of Jove- even
he could not escape the hand of death, but fate and Juno's fierce
anger laid him low, as I too shall lie when I am dead if a like doom
awaits me. Till then I will win fame, and will bid Trojan and
Dardanian women wring tears from their tender cheeks with both their
hands in the grievousness of their great sorrow; thus shall they
know that he who has held aloof so long will hold aloof no longer.
Hold me not back, therefore, in the love you bear me, for you shall
not move me."
Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said is
true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but your
armour is in the hands of the Trojans; Hector bears it in triumph upon
his own shoulders. Full well I know that his vaunt shall not be
lasting, for his end is close at hand; go not, however, into the press
of battle till you see me return hither; to-morrow at break of day I
shall be here, and will bring you goodly armour from King Vulcan."
On this she left her brave son, and as she turned away she said to
the sea-nymphs her sisters, "Dive into the bosom of the sea and go
to the house of the old sea-god my father. Tell him everything; as for
me, I will go to the cunning workman Vulcan on high Olympus, and ask
him to provide my son with a suit of splendid armour."
When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves,
while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the
armour for her son.
Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and
meanwhile the Achaeans were flying with loud cries before murderous
Hector till they reached the ships and the Hellespont, and they
could not draw the body of Mars's servant Patroclus out of reach of
the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hector son of Priam
with his host and horsemen had again caught up to him like the flame
of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hector seize him by the feet,
striving with might and main to draw him away and calling loudly on
the Trojans, and thrice did the two Ajaxes, clothed in valour as
with a garment, beat him from off the body; but all undaunted he would
now charge into the thick of the fight, and now again he would stand
still and cry aloud, but he would give no ground. As upland
shepherds that cannot chase some famished lion from a carcase, even so
could not the two Ajaxes scare Hector son of Priam from the body of
Patroclus.
And now he would even have dragged it off and have won
imperishable glory, had not Iris fleet as the wind, winged her way
as messenger from Olympus to the son of Peleus and bidden him arm. She
came secretly without the knowledge of Jove and of the other gods, for
Juno sent her, and when she had got close to him she said, "Up, son of
Peleus, mightiest of all mankind; rescue Patroclus about whom this
fearful fight is now raging by the ships. Men are killing one another,
the Danaans in defence of the dead body, while the Trojans are
trying to hale it away, and take it to wind Ilius: Hector is the
most furious of them all; he is for cutting the head from the body and
fixing it on the stakes of the wall. Up, then, and bide here no
longer; shrink from the thought that Patroclus may become meat for the
dogs of Troy. Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of
outrage."
And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you
to me?"
Iris answered, "It was Juno the royal spouse of Jove, but the son of
Saturn does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of the
immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."
Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into the
battle? They have my armour. My mother forbade me to arm till I should
see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armour from
Vulcan; I know no man whose arms I can put on, save only the shield of
Ajax son of Telamon, and he surely must be fighting in the front
rank and wielding his spear about the body of dead Patroclus."
Iris said, 'We know that your armour has been taken, but go as you
are; go to the deep trench and show yourelf before the Trojans, that
they may fear you and cease fighting. Thus will the fainting sons of
the Achaeans gain some brief breathing-time, which in battle may
hardly be."
Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Jove
arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled aegis round his strong
shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which
she kindled a glow of gleaming fire. As the smoke that goes up into
heaven from some city that is being beleaguered on an island far out
at sea- all day long do men sally from the city and fight their
hardest, and at the going down of the sun the line of beacon-fires
blazes forth, flaring high for those that dwell near them to behold,
if so be that they may come with their ships and succour them- even so
did the light flare from the head of Achilles, as he stood by the
trench, going beyond the wall- but he aid not join the Achaeans for he
heeded the charge which his mother laid upon him.
There did he stand and shout aloud. Minerva also raised her voice
from afar, and spread terror unspeakable among the Trojans. Ringing as
the note of a trumpet that sounds alarm then the foe is at the gates
of a city, even so brazen was the voice of the son of Aeacus, and when
the Trojans heard its clarion tones they were dismayed; the horses
turned back with their chariots for they boded mischief, and their
drivers were awe-struck by the steady flame which the grey-eyed
goddess had kindled above the head of the great son of Peleus.
Thrice did Achilles raise his loud cry as he stood by the trench,
and thrice were the Trojans and their brave allies thrown into
confusion; whereon twelve of their noblest champions fell beneath
the wheels of their chariots and perished by their own spears. The
Achaeans to their great joy then drew Patroclus out of reach of the
weapons, and laid him on a litter: his comrades stood mourning round
him, and among them fleet Achilles who wept bitterly as he saw his
true comrade lying dead upon his bier. He had sent him out with horses
and chariots into battle, but his return he was not to welcome.
Then Juno sent the busy sun, loth though he was, into the waters
of Oceanus; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and
turmoil of war.
Now the Trojans when they had come out of the fight, unyoked their
horses and gathered in assembly before preparing their supper. They
kept their feet, nor would any dare to sit down, for fear had fallen
upon them all because Achilles had shown himself after having held
aloof so long from battle. Polydamas son of Panthous was first to
speak, a man of judgement, who alone among them could look both before
and after. He was comrade to Hector, and they had been born upon the
same night; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed
them thus:-
"Look to it well, my friends; I would urge you to go back now to
your city and not wait here by the ships till morning, for we are
far from our walls. So long as this man was at enmity with Agamemnon
the Achaeans were easier to deal with, and I would have gladly
camped by the ships in the hope of taking them; but now I go in
great fear of the fleet son of Peleus; he is so daring that he will
never bide here on the plain whereon the Trojans and Achaeans fight
with equal valour, but he will try to storm our city and carry off our
women. Do then as I say, and let us retreat. For this is what will
happen. The darkness of night will for a time stay the son of
Peleus, but if he find us here in the morning when he sallies forth in
full armour, we shall have knowledge of him in good earnest. Glad
indeed will he be who can escape and get back to Ilius, and many a
Trojan will become meat for dogs and vultures may I never live to hear
it. If we do as I say, little though we may like it, we shall have
strength in counsel during the night, and the great gates with the
doors that close them will protect the city. At dawn we can arm and
take our stand on the walls; he will then rue it if he sallies from
the ships to fight us. He will go back when he has given his horses
their fill of being driven all whithers under our walls, and will be
in no mind to try and force his way into the city. Neither will he
ever sack it, dogs shall devour him ere he do so."
Hector looked fiercely at him and answered, "Polydamas, your words
are not to my liking in that you bid us go back and be pent within the
city. Have you not had enough of being cooped up behind walls? In
the old-days the city of Priam was famous the whole world over for its
wealth of gold and bronze, but our treasures are wasted out of our
houses, and much goods have been sold away to Phrygia and fair Meonia,
for the hand of Jove has been laid heavily upon us. Now, therefore,
that the son of scheming Saturn has vouchsafed me to win glory here
and to hem the Achaeans in at their ships, prate no more in this
fool's wise among the people. You will have no man with you; it
shall not be; do all of you as I now say;- take your suppers in your
companies throughout the host, and keep your watches and be wakeful
every man of you. If any Trojan is uneasy about his possessions, let
him gather them and give them out among the people. Better let
these, rather than the Achaeans, have them. At daybreak we will arm
and fight about the ships; granted that Achilles has again come
forward to defend them, let it be as he will, but it shall go hard
with him. I shall not shun him, but will fight him, to fall or
conquer. The god of war deals out like measure to all, and the
slayer may yet be slain."
Thus spoke Hector; and the Trojans, fools that they were, shouted in
applause, for Pallas Minerva had robbed them of their understanding.
They gave ear to Hector with his evil counsel, but the wise words of
Polydamas no man would heed. They took their supper throughout the
host, and meanwhile through the whole night the Achaeans mourned
Patroclus, and the son of Peleus led them in their lament. He laid his
murderous hands upon the breast of his comrade, groaning again and
again as a bearded lion when a man who was chasing deer has robbed him
of his young in some dense forest; when the lion comes back he is
furious, and searches dingle and dell to track the hunter if he can
find him, for he is mad with rage- even so with many a sigh did
Achilles speak among the Myrmidons saying, "Alas! vain were the
words with which I cheered the hero Menoetius in his own house; I said
that I would bring his brave son back again to Opoeis after he had
sacked Ilius and taken his share of the spoils- but Jove does not give
all men their heart's desire. The same soil shall be reddened here
at Troy by the blood of us both, for I too shall never be welcomed
home by the old knight Peleus, nor by my mother Thetis, but even in
this place shall the earth cover me. Nevertheless, O Patroclus, now
that I am left behind you, I will not bury you, till I have brought
hither the head and armour of mighty Hector who has slain you.
Twelve noble sons of Trojans will I behead before your bier to
avenge you; till I have done so you shall lie as you are by the ships,
and fair women of Troy and Dardanus, whom we have taken with spear and
strength of arm when we sacked men's goodly cities, shall weep over
you both night and day."
Then Achilles told his men to set a large tripod upon the fire
that they might wash the clotted gore from off Patroclus. Thereon they
set a tripod full of bath water on to a clear fire: they threw
sticks on to it to make it blaze, and the water became hot as the
flame played about the belly of the tripod. When the water in the
cauldron was boiling they washed the body, anointed it with oil, and
closed its wounds with ointment that had been kept nine years. Then
they laid it on a bier and covered it with a linen cloth from head
to foot, and over this they laid a fair white robe. Thus all night
long did the Myrmidons gather round Achilles to mourn Patroclus.
Then Jove said to Juno his sister-wife, "So, Queen Juno, you have
gained your end, and have roused fleet Achilles. One would think
that the Achaeans were of your own flesh and blood."
And Juno answered, "Dread son of Saturn, why should you say this
thing? May not a man though he be only mortal and knows less than we
do, do what he can for another person? And shall not I- foremost of
all goddesses both by descent and as wife to you who reign in
heaven- devise evil for the Trojans if I am angry with them?"
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of
Vulcan, imperishable, star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in
heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame god's own hands. She
found him busy with his bellows, sweating and hard at work, for he was
making twenty tripods that were to stand by the wall of his house, and
he set wheels of gold under them all that they might go of their own
selves to the assemblies of the gods, and come back again- marvels
indeed to see. They were finished all but the ears of cunning
workmanship which yet remained to be fixed to them: these he was now
fixing, and he was hammering at the rivets. While he was thus at
work silver-footed Thetis came to the house. Charis, of graceful
head-dress, wife to the far-famed lame god, came towards her as soon
as she saw her, and took her hand in her own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis, honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."
The goddess led the way as she spoke, and bade Thetis sit on a
richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also
under her feet. Then she called Vulcan and said, "Vulcan, come here,
Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god answered, "Then it is
indeed an august and honoured goddess who has come here; she it was
that took care of me when I was suffering from the heavy fall which
I had through my cruel mother's anger- for she would have got rid of
me because I was lame. It would have gone hardly with me had not
Eurynome, daughter of the ever-encircling waters of Oceanus, and
Thetis, taken me to their bosom. Nine years did I stay with them,
and many beautiful works in bronze, brooches, spiral armlets, cups,
and chains, did I make for them in their cave, with the roaring waters
of Oceanus foaming as they rushed ever past it; and no one knew,
neither of gods nor men, save only Thetis and Eurynome who took care
of me. If, then, Thetis has come to my house I must make her due
requital for having saved me; entertain her, therefore, with all
hospitality, while I put by my bellows and all my tools."
On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs
plying lustily under him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and
gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and
washed his face and hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned
his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the door.
There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like
real young women, with sense and reason, voice also and strength,
and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as
the king bade them, while he drew near to Thetis, seated her upon a
goodly seat, and took her hand in his own, saying, "Why have you
come to our house, Thetis honoured and ever welcome- for you do not
visit us often? Say what you want, and I will do it for you at once if
I can, and if it can be done at all."
Thetis wept and answered, "Vulcan, is there another goddess in
Olympus whom the son of Saturn has been pleased to try with so much
affliction as he has me? Me alone of the marine goddesses did he
make subject to a mortal husband, Peleus son of Aeacus, and sorely
against my will did I submit to the embraces of one who was but
mortal, and who now stays at home worn out with age. Neither is this
all. Heaven vouchsafed me a son, hero among heroes, and he shot up
as a sapling. I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden and sent
him with his ships to Ilius to fight the Trojans, but never shall I
welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look
upon the light of the sun, he is in heaviness, and though I go to
him I cannot help him; King Agamemnon has made him give up the
maiden whom the sons of the Achaeans had awarded him, and he wastes
with sorrow for her sake. Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at
their ships' sterns and would not let them come forth; the elders,
therefore, of the Argives besought Achilles and offered him great
treasure, whereon he refused to bring deliverance to them himself, but
put his own armour on Patroclus and sent him into the fight with
much people after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates
and would have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo
vouchsafed glory to Hector and slain the valiant son of Menoetius
after he had done the Trojans much evil. Therefore I am suppliant at
your knees if haply you may be pleased to provide my son, whose end is
near at hand, with helmet and shield, with goodly greaves fitted
with ancle-clasps, and with a breastplate, for he lost his own when
his true comrade fell at the hands of the Trojans, and he now lies
stretched on earth in the bitterness of his soul."
And Vulcan answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about
this matter; would that I could hide him from death's sight when his
hour is come, so surely as I can find him armour that shall amaze
the eyes of all who behold it."
When he had so said he left her and went to his bellows, turning
them towards the fire and bidding them do their office. Twenty bellows
blew upon the melting-pots, and they blew blasts of every kind, some
fierce to help him when he had need of them, and others less strong as
Vulcan willed it in the course of his work. He threw tough copper into
the fire, and tin, with silver and gold; he set his great anvil on its
block, and with one hand grasped his mighty hammer while he took the
tongs in the other.
First he shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over
and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers; and
the baldric was made of silver. He made the shield in five
thicknesses, and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it.
He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea; the moon also at her
full and the untiring sun, with all the signs that glorify the face of
heaven- the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear, which men
also call the Wain and which turns round ever in one place, facing.
Orion, and alone never dips into the stream of Oceanus.
He wrought also two cities, fair to see and busy with the hum of
men. In the one were weddings and wedding-feasts, and they were
going about the city with brides whom they were escorting by
torchlight from their chambers. Loud rose the cry of Hymen, and the
youths danced to the music of flute and lyre, while the women stood
each at her house door to see them.
Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a
quarrel, and two men were wrangling about the blood-money for a man
who had been killed, the one saying before the people that he had paid
damages in full, and the other that he had not been paid. Each was
trying to make his own case good, and the people took sides, each
man backing the side that he had taken; but the heralds kept them
back, and the elders sate on their seats of stone in a solemn
circle, holding the staves which the heralds had put into their hands.
Then they rose and each in his turn gave judgement, and there were two
talents laid down, to be given to him whose judgement should be deemed
the fairest.
About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming
armour, and they were divided whether to sack it, or to spare it and
accept the half of what it contained. But the men of the city would
not yet consent, and armed themselves for a surprise; their wives
and little children kept guard upon the walls, and with them were
the men who were past fighting through age; but the others sallied
forth with Mars and Pallas Minerva at their head- both of them wrought
in gold and clad in golden raiment, great and fair with their armour
as befitting gods, while they that followed were smaller. When they
reached the place where they would lay their ambush, it was on a
riverbed to which live stock of all kinds would come from far and near
to water; here, then, they lay concealed, clad in full armour. Some
way off them there were two scouts who were on the look-out for the
coming of sheep or cattle, which presently came, followed by two
shepherds who were playing on their pipes, and had not so much as a
thought of danger. When those who were in ambush saw this, they cut
off the flocks and herds and killed the shepherds. Meanwhile the
besiegers, when they heard much noise among the cattle as they sat
in council, sprang to their horses, and made with all speed towards
them; when they reached them they set battle in array by the banks
of the river, and the hosts aimed their bronze-shod spears at one
another. With them were Strife and Riot, and fell Fate who was
dragging three men after her, one with a fresh wound, and the other
unwounded, while the third was dead, and she was dragging him along by
his heel: and her robe was bedrabbled in men's blood. They went in and
out with one another and fought as though they were living people
haling away one another's dead.
He wrought also a fair fallow field, large and thrice ploughed
already. Many men were working at the plough within it, turning
their oxen to and fro, furrow after furrow. Each time that they turned
on reaching the headland a man would come up to them and give them a
cup of wine, and they would go back to their furrows looking forward
to the time when they should again reach the headland. The part that
they had ploughed was dark behind them, so that the field, though it
was of gold, still looked as if it were being ploughed- very curious
to behold.
He wrought also a field of harvest corn, and the reapers were
reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Swathe after swathe fell to
the ground in a straight line behind them, and the binders bound
them in bands of twisted straw. There were three binders, and behind
them there were boys who gathered the cut corn in armfuls and kept
on bringing them to be bound: among them all the owner of the land
stood by in silence and was glad. The servants were getting a meal
ready under an oak, for they had sacrificed a great ox, and were
busy cutting him up, while the women were making a porridge of much
white barley for the labourers' dinner.
He wrought also a vineyard, golden and fair to see, and the vines
were loaded with grapes. The bunches overhead were black, but the
vines were trained on poles of silver. He ran a ditch of dark metal
all round it, and fenced it with a fence of tin; there was only one
path to it, and by this the vintagers went when they would gather
the vintage. Youths and maidens all blithe and full of glee, carried
the luscious fruit in plaited baskets; and with them there went a
boy who made sweet music with his lyre, and sang the Linus-song with
his clear boyish voice.
He wrought also a herd of homed cattle. He made the cows of gold and
tin, and they lowed as they came full speed out of the yards to go and
feed among the waving reeds that grow by the banks of the river. Along
with the cattle there went four shepherds, all of them in gold, and
their nine fleet dogs went with them. Two terrible lions had
fastened on a bellowing bull that was with the foremost cows, and
bellow as he might they haled him, while the dogs and men gave
chase: the lions tore through the bull's thick hide and were gorging
on his blood and bowels, but the herdsmen were afraid to do
anything, and only hounded on their dogs; the dogs dared not fasten on
the lions but stood by barking and keeping out of harm's way.
The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and large
flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered sheepfolds.
Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made
in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and
maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's
wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well
woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with
garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by
silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with
merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and
making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes
they would go all in line with one another, and much people was
gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to
them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in
the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.
All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty stream
of the river Oceanus.
Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he made a
breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made helmet,
close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a golden plume
overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten tin.
Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armour, he took
it and set it before the mother of Achilles; whereon she darted like a
falcon from the snowy summits of Olympus and bore away the gleaming
armour from the house of Vulcan.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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