Latest quotes | Random quotes | Vote! | Latest comments | Add quote

We Are All Savage Underneath

A sullen ochre rose reluctantly
Breaking dawn in the distance
An oblique path of sleepy ray
Flashed across the coiled bedlam
I rubbed the comported eyes
And the pallid ebullient light
Revealed the tolls of lucid dreaming
And reeled an abhorrence to waking
In a place that was my safeguard
Now a cellar of mordant jealousy

From the tobacco scent suspended
To the ruffled gaunt sheets
Rue lingered with a phantom smile
Eyes burning behind a grimace
These blood stained hands lay
Seething in the wrists
With the blood of a crime—
Claws in a pang in the viscera
A tattoo of guilt that will
Oppress the ignorance until
It topples to fiendishly release
The soul of alloy and steel
Back to its hapless vulnerability
And the malignant paroxysm
Will reckon my old fashion
Of living in daunted emotions and
Struggling from fissures of lamentations
Caressing and nurturing death
To burn the leaves of life
Impaled with many sufferings

Tonight, with the cavern growing
And the shadows behind the escritoire
Pleading for a macabre dance
I shall unlatch the demon spawned
From the cloys of your flatteries
And the inveigles of your geniality
That was savage underneath
For you despised me, after all,
For treading the waters and dunes
That you possessed and owned
My sincere apology shrieks
A lightning fork of pain
For what caused your conundrum
Was my very quintessence
You cried, you bled, and pointed
A trembling sanguine finger
I was your murder

Who you were
And who you are
Battled and connived
Inside my bones,
Inside my home
With who I am and was
Either way, you won.

I fastened manacles on my feet
Riveting me in a dark nook
Out of lights reach for
I opt to be buried in the dark
Basking in double edge swords
And a cesspool of saline blood
And never shall I meander
In your querulous roads
Until one misbegotten day
I will radiate from this holocaust
Without the acrimonious vagary
And the connoisseur indictment
That you whispered in my vanity

In this den of thieves
We are all savage underneath.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Related quotes

Weekend (feat. Esthero)

Verse One]
I called Tab on Wednesday night
So we could make plans for Thursday night
He said "we could go hit the peapods"
I was like yeah, that's my favorite spot
Plus I like it there, cuz I got love on the list
High powered juice, where I don't even get frisked
Walk up in the place and get love from the misses
Pounds from my brothers, cause they knowing that this is
the place to be to let it all out
But when the weekend come, the weekend come, y'all could come
So go tell ya momma come and ya papa come
Go to spin the record so we can get dumb
Place packed, capacity maximum
Due to my man Polo Promotion
And I can't wait to go out and hear some
[Chorus: Esthero]
Jumping music, swift DJ's
Smoke machines and laser rays
Look out weekend cause, here I come
Because weekends were, werrrre
[Verse Two]
Walk in the club at like 10 o' clock
And the spot is hot, blowing up rooftops
Its Thursday night and the night is young
Four day weekend, time to have some fun
DJ's cut it up, drop them joints
Everybody's been waiting to dance and make noise
B-Boys, let me see you break it down
And ladies, let your hips move around
Its the sound of the BEP family
Got a poet named Life and a sister Kimy (worrrrd up)
And the blood of Abraham (worrrrd up)
So let's get ready for the jam
[Chorus]
[Bridge]
It was a Thursday night and the party was bumpin'
And the bass was thumpin' and people was jumpin'
And taboo's at the front door comin'
Taboo's at the front door comiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin
and
and (here he come now)
and
nah, nah, nah
[Verse Three]
Yo, Mister Will.i.am (Mister Will.i.am)
When oh when (Mister Will.i.am)
Get our boogie on when the weekend COME
Check the peapod, cuz the vibes is STRONG
Selenas, Philipinas, they come one by ONE
All lined up, and they ready for FUN
Short one's, tall one's, beautiful ONES
B-boys, B-girls, ready to WHAT
Breaking and shaking when we doing our ish
J-Rock from the Beat Junkies ready to mix
Cuz they cuttIng up the wax for everybody
Come on over cuz were having a party
We lighting up the sky with the burning STAR
Throw your hands in the air, if you know who you ARE
Cuz we jumpin' around with the Broshigeez
And get blessed by the beat pharmacy
cause they hittin you with
[Chorus]
....worrrrd up
....worrrrd up
Look out weekend cause, here I come
Because weekends were, werrrre

song performed by Black Eyed PeasReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Lucian Velea
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Weekends

I called chad on wednesday night
So we could make plans for thursday night
He said we could go hit the peapods
I was like yeah, thats my favorite spot
Plus I like it there, cuz I got love on the list
High powered juice, where I dont even get frisked
Walk up in the place and get love from the misses
Pounds from my brothers, cuz they knowing that disses
The place to be to let it all out
But when the weekend come, the weekend come
Yall could come
So go tell ya momma come and ya papa come
Go to spin the record so we can get dumb
Place packed, capacity maximum
Due to my man polo promotion
And I cant wait to go out and hear some
[chorus] esthero
Jumping music, swift d.j.s
Smoke machines and laser rays
Look out weekend cuz, here I come
Because weekends were, werrrre
Walk in the club at like 10 o clock
And the spot is hot, blowing up rooftops
Its thursday night and the night is young
Four day weekend, time to have some fun
D.j.s scutter up, drop them joints
Everybodys been waiting to dance and make noise
B-boys, let me see you break it down
And ladies, let your hips move around
Its the sound of the bep family
Got a poet named life and a sister kimy (worrrrd up)
And the blood of abraham (worrrrd up)
So lets get ready for the jam
[chorus] esthero
Jumping music, swift d.j.s
Smoke machines and laser rays
Look out weekend cuz, here I come
Because weekends were, werrrre
[bridge]
It was a thursday night and the party was bumpin
And the bass was thumpin and people was jumpin
And taboos at the front door comin
Taboos at the front door comiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin
And
And (here he come now)
And
Nah, nah, nah
Yo, mister will.i.am (mister will.i.am)
Win or win (mister will.i.am)
Get our boogie on when the weekend come
Check the peapod, cuz the vibes is strong
Salinas filipinas, they come one by one
All lined up, and they ready for fun
Short ones, tall ones, beautiful ones
B-boys, b-girls, ready to what
Breaking and shaking when we doing our ish
J-rock from the beat junkies ready to mix
Cuz they cutting up the wax for everybody
Come on over cuz were having a party
We lighting up the sky with the burning star
Throw your hands in the air, if you know who you are
Cuz we jumpin around with the broshigeez
And get less by the beat pharmacy, cuz they hitting you with
[chorus] esthero
Jumping music, swift d.j.s
Smoke machines and laser rays
Look out weekend cuz, here I come
Because weekends were (werrrre)
....worrrrd up
....worrrrd up
Look out weekend cuz, here I come
Because weekends were, werrrre

song performed by Black Eyed PeasReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Lucian Velea
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Idols

An Ode
Luce intellettual, piena d' amore


Prelude
Lo, the spirit of a pulsing star within a stone
Born of earth, sprung from night!
Prisoned with the profound fires of the light
That lives like all the tongues of eloquence
Locked in a speech unknown!
The crystal, cold and hard as innocence,
Immures the flame; and yet as if it knew
Raptures or pangs it could not but betray,
As if the light could feel changes of blood and breath
And all--but--human quiverings of the sense,
Throbs of a sudden rose, a frosty blue,
Shoot thrilling in its ray,
Like the far longings of the intellect
Restless in clouding clay.

Who has confined the Light? Who has held it a slave,
Sold and bought, bought and sold?
Who has made of it a mystery to be doled,
Or trophy, to awe with legendary fire,
Where regal banners wave?
And still into the dark it sends Desire.
In the heart's darkness it sows cruelties.
The bright jewel becomes a beacon to the vile,
A lodestar to corruption, envy's own:
Soiled with blood, fought for, clutched at; this world's prize,
Captive Authority. Oh, the star is stone
To all that outward sight,
Yet still, like truth that none has ever used,
Lives lost in its own light.

Troubled I fly. O let me wander again at will
(Far from cries, far from these
Hard blindnesses and frozen certainties!)
Where life proceeds in vastness unaware
And stirs profound and still:
Where leafing thoughts at shy touch of the air
Tremble, and gleams come seeking to be mine,
Or dart, like suddenly remembered youth,
Like the ache of love, a light, lost, found, and lost again.
Surely in the dusk some messenger was there!
But, haunted in the heart, I thirst, I pine.--
Oh, how can truth be truth
Except I taste it close and sweet and sharp
As an apple to the tooth?


I.1
On a starr'd, a still mid--night
Lost I halted, lost I gazed about.
Great shapes of trees branched black into the sky:
There was no way but wandered into doubt;
There was no light
In the uncertain desert of dim air
But such as told me of all that was not I,--
Of powers absorbed, intent, and active without sound,
That rooted in their unimagined might,
Over me there ignoring towered and spread.
Homeless in my humanity, and drowned
In a dark world, I listened, all aware;
And that world drew me.
The shadowy crossing of the boughs above my head
Enmeshed me as with undecipherable spells:
The silence laid invisible hands upon my heart,
And the Night knew me.

She put not forth her full power, well I knew:
She only toyed
With reason, used to sunshine flatteries,
The praise of happy senses, trusted true,
And smile of stable Earth's affirming ease.
Yet even in this her ante--room I felt,
Near me, that void
Without foundation, roof, or bound, or end,
Where the eyes fast from their food, the heavenly light,
The untallied senses falter, being denied,
The mind into itself is pressed, is penned,
Even memoried glories of experience melt
Into one mapless, eyeless, elemental Night.
It was so near
That like a swimmer toiled in a full--streaming tide
Drawing him unawares down the unsounded seas,
My soul sank into fear.

O for one far beam of the absenting sun!
O for a voice to assure me, and to release
Out of this clutching silence! There is none:
Shadow on shadow, and stillness on stillness
Enclose me, and fasten round.
Is this a world which Day never has known?
A world made only of doubt and dream and dread?
Is this the interior Night of the dark human soul,
And the immaterial blackness branching from the ground
A fearful forest that itself has sown
Against the stars to tower,--
Stars that dispense their faint uncertain dole
Of light, that darkness may the more abound?
Whither am I come? Where have my wandered feet
Brought me on circling steps, led by what furtive power?
Alas! in this dumb gloom wherein my spirit gropes
Only myself I meet.

Only myself; but in what strange image
Encountered and phantasmally surprised!
This thing of stealth that rises from the shrouds of sleep,
I know it, I with shuddering guess presage
An enemy,--the native of the night
That in me was disguised.
Hollow--echoing caverns where blind rivers creep
With soundless motion; ice--cold, sudden breath
Of climbing cloud, at whose abstracting touch
The upholding rock seems baseless as the mist;
Black silence in the eagle's captive stare
Empty of all but the baulked lust of death,
Could not oppress so much.
Even that which in the dark brain says ``I am,''
Desperate in its faltering to persist,
Flickers like an expiring lamp's last leap of flame
To leave me I know not where.

Let not the beautiful world perish and cease!
My heart cries, freezing in its secret cells.
Let me not be extinguished in the abyss,
Losing the blessèd touch and taste of things,
Earth's heaven of hues and smells!
I am so far from worlds where any fountain springs,
Sunken into this placeless dungeon--dream,
That holds me without wall, or roof, or door.
The light is only legend: I begin
To give away my being like a stream
Wandering among unshapen shapes, that spin
A world of unintelligible dread;
And this world seeks me for its own!
All is dissolved, nothing has meaning more.
Each moment heaps an age of time above my head.
It is the very Mind of Darkness I am in,
Lost, and alone, alone!


I.2
The Forests of the Night awaken blind in heat
Of black stupor; and stirring in its deep retreat,
I hear the heart of Darkness slowly beat and beat.

As if Earth, shrouded dense in gloom,
Shuddered in her guilty womb;
As if a power from under earth
Would bring some monstrous spirit to birth;
As if a spirit ran pursued
And sobbing through the shadowy wood;
Ghostly throbs of sound begin
To circle from the distance in,
A phantom beating, dulled, remote,
With madness in its fever--note.

I know not what about me or what above me oppresses
The suffocating air; but fear within me guesses
A peopling of the caverned glooms, miasma--cold recesses.

Leaves depending still, still,
Bronzed to blackness, spill
Dead light from a sinking moon,
Wholly to be sunken soon,
Wandering down a desert coast
At the horizon's end, a lost
Eternal exile from the Day,
Whence she stole a perished ray
That falls from off those fingered fronds,
Black as vipers, cold as bronze.

O is it from my heart or from the darkness round,
The far reverberation, the dull throb of sound,
A pulse, a fearful pulse, in air or underground?

Closer, quicker, through the heat
Drones, insists, the incessant beat.
Round in shuddering circle comes
Beat on frenzied beat of drums,
Nearer in from every side
Thudding, madly multiplied,
To seize the heart and blind the brain
With a monotone insane.
Terrible, terrible in continuance,
It holds me fastened in a trance.

O for a spirit that is not mine, to bear
This weight of the unfathomable night!
O for a spirit of more than mortal might
To take upon him this my load
Of infinitely wide world--quivering fear!
O for a Demon or a God
In saving presence to appear!

What is it that my eyes amid the gloom divine
There in the furtive filterings of the ghast moonshine?
What bodies sway and cry and to the ground incline?

The fear that held me falls apart,
But leaves a horror in my heart.
Stony, stony, of blank stone,
Fixt on that secret altar--throne,
Inhuman human Shape, with hands on knees,
With remote stare that nothing, nothing sees,
Yet is a magnet to a thousand eyes,
A thousand forms that crouch, scenting the scent of blood,
Beat breasts and writhe before you with ejected cries,--
Unbrothered beast, abominable God!
Who made you, and shaped you into more than breath
Can give a will to? What power drove the hand
With terror strong as lust, to shape you there
Immovable as Death,
And carve the rock of darkness in the mind
To horrible resemblance of my kind?
Lost Light, sunken Light!
From what I am, save me!
The fever--beat of sound is in my veins.
I breathe the black, blood--smelling air.
The ecstasy of fear, the blind throb in the breast,
I share it, I must share.
It is not I, I cry;
Yet it is I.
These are the powers that crave me;
This is the full dominion of the Night.

The victims, ah, the victims shriek and die:
And on them the eternal Idol stares.
But they have made him incense of their prayers,
Voluptuously have knelt before their own
Black terror, bodied into stone.
Not the expiring cry
So lacerates my mind, while without end
Through ages up the altar--fumes ascend,
And fading into shadow, from their bodies rent,
Stream spirits without number to conceive,--
But this, O victims, this, that you consent,
That you believe!

They were all human. My heart falters: how
That infinite bond refuse?
Like last reverberations of a bell
That in their ebb and last expiry tell
Of stupefying clamour, when it heaved
And shook its tower to the foundation,--now
Whispers out of the dark accuse, accuse:
I have consented, I have believed.


I.3
There is singing of brooks in the shadow, and high in a stainless
Solitude of the East
Ineffable colour ascends like a spirit awaking:
Slowly Earth is released.
It is dawn, it is dawn, the light is budding and breaking.

Earth is released, flowing out from the void of the darkness
Into body and bloom;
Flowing out from the nameless immensity, night, where she waited
Myriad forms to resume,
Gloriously moulded, as if in her freshness created.

The lineaments of the hills, serene in their order,
Arise, and the trees
With their motionless fountains of foliage, perfect in slumber;
And by lovely degrees
The blades of the grass re--appear, minute without number.

The rounded rock glistens and warms, where the water slips by it,
Familiar of old.
The tree stretches up to the air its intimate branches
Bathing in gold;
And the dew--dazzle colours in fire the lichen it blanches.

Each is seen in its beauty of difference, deeply companioned,
Leaf, root, and the stone,
And drawn by the light from their dream in earth's prison, emerging
Distinct in their own
Form, from the formless a million natures are urging.

I see them, I know them, I name them, I share in their being;
I am not betrayed:
I feel in my fibre the touch of a spirit that knows me;
For this was I made;
In a world of delight and of wonder my senses enclose me.

Whence come they, the water--brooks? Out of the mountainous darkness,
Where no life is seen,
From caverns of night are they come, but because of their springing
Meadows laugh to be green;
And hearing the voice of their carol, the children go singing.

The children go singing, they read in the books of the Light
Things hidden from the sage.
Unschooled are their bodies, that run like a ripple and fear not
Coming of grief and age:
The sighs of the night, the doubt in the shadow, they hear not.

Lo, single mid grasses a flower upspringing before me
In delicate poise
Takes the light like a kiss from an innocent mouth, as it quivers
Confiding its joys
To the air, and my heart from its prison of self it delivers.

I stand in the dew and the radiance, my shadow behind me,
Lost out of thought.
The bright beams ascend, and ascending, from earth they uncover
The secret they sought.
Enter me; make me afresh, O Light, my lover!


I.4
Why are these beams so twined with sweetness and with pain,
Injury and anger, fear, and all desire,
Whose purity should stream through pulse and brain
Not thickened in dull fume or frayed with fire
But absolute and whole
Into the central soul
Disclouded from those lures and all their train,
Knowing what is and is not; white and bare
As the bathed body quit of day's disguise?
But the only truth is coloured with the secret stain
Of our mortality, that unaware
Infects the farthest vision of the eyes
And region of invisible thought: Vain, vain
That throbbing search! The Light
Is more profound, more secret than the Night.

Who has built an airy mansion for the unresting mind
To inhabit and rejoicing contemplate,--
A many--pillared universe, designed
In order clear, complete and intricate,
Intelligible wonder, not
Too vast to hold man's lot,--
But he has waked on some malignant morn to find
The certainty, too certain to be true,
Distasted, and that palace only a maze
Wherein he wanders and is still confined,
The pillars of it fallen, and no clue,
But through the ruin penetrates a blaze
Of glory beyond glory and of light behind
The light: and the strength fails in him; he knows
Himself lost in a world that overflows.

Yet no power stills the ache or stops the springing need.
The dark creative spiritual Desire
Seizes upon his heart which holds that seed
And straightway, till the last of breath expire,
Like tool upon the wheel
Sharpened the more to feel,
He counts all else waste,--honour, wealth, a weed:
The burden of the beauty is too great,
The eternal mystery in the heart a wound,
Until his vision in the end be freed,
Until he has spent his all to incarnate
An airy spirit upon earthly ground,--
Forms for a God to dwell in and exceed
This fading flesh. Alas! from godlike shapes
Some yet diviner essence still escapes.

O that the form which once kindled to ecstasy
The rapt gazer, and freed him, should become
A cold thing to appraise with leisure's eye,
A beauty disinherited and dumb!
Whither is the spirit flown
From the forsaken stone
That seemed our sunken selves to deify?
O that the thought, the word, which into the heart leapt
Pregnant with light and troubling even to tears,
Should fade and wither, should grow old and dry,
By repetition dulled upon the ears
Like cheapened courtesies the lips accept,
And falsehood, custom cares not to deny;
A scumm'd and stirless pool, a frozen rut,
A path deserted, a door shut.

But that the life should be less living than the dead,
This is the worst; that perfect form and word
Should perish of perfection, yet be fed
With incense still, and duteously adored;
A name prostrate the throng
The presence moved among
Unrecognized; neglected and forsaken bled!
Time's treachery sleeks and glozes to our use
The bright eternal bareness: dearer grows
To mortals what is mortal, comforted
Mid alteration rather to keep truce
With the ancestral darkness than oppose
Too arduous scrutiny: by dreams we are led
Content: to pleasure us, our truth decays.
The God departs, the Idol stays.

II.1
I have heard voices under the early stars
Where, among hills, the cold roads glimmer white,--
Voices of shadows passing, each to the other,
Clear in the airy stillness
Call their familiar greeting and Good--night.

Were they not come as guests to a remembered room,
Those words, surrounded by the befriending silence?
But words, ah, words--who can tell what they are made of,
Or how inscrutably shaped to colour and bloom?
Sharp odours they breathe, and bitter and sweet and strong,
Born from exultation, endurance, and desire;
Flying from mind to mind, to bud a thought again,
Spring, and in endless birth their wizard power prolong.

There was a voice on a sun--shafted stair
That sang; I heard it singing:
The very trees seemed listening to their roots
Out in the sunshine, and like drops in light
The words rained on the grasses greenly springing.

Ah, lovely living words, what have we done to you?
Each infant thought a soul exulting to be born
Into a body, a breath breathed from the lips, a word
Dancing, tingling, pulsing, a body fresh as dew!
Once in the bonds of use manacled and confined
How have we made you labour, thinned from beauty and strength,
Dulled with our dullness, starved to the apathy of a serf,
Outcast in streets, abandoned foundlings of the mind!

Yet once, in stillness of night's stillest hour,
Words from the page I read
Rose like a spirit to embrace my spirit.
Their radiant secret shook me: earth was new;
And I throbbed, like one wakened from the dead.

O swift words, words like flames, proud as a victor's eye,
Words armed and terrible, storming the heart, sending
Waves of love, and fear, and accusation over
Peoples,--kindling, changing! Alas, but can you die,
Hardened to wither round the thought wherein you grew?
Become as the blind leading with slow shuffle the blind,
Heavy like senseless stones the savage kneels before?
O shamed, O victim words, what have we done to you?


II.2
The Presses are awake. Under the midnight cloud,
Mid labyrinthine silence of the spectral streets,
Sound upon darkness beats,
A pulse, quivering aloud
Insanely, as if a fever throbbed in stone,
As if a demon plied in palpitating gloom
The hurry of his loom
To weave that tissue, white for an instant, then
Populated with words, shadows of thought and act,
Death, birth, fear, madness, joy, disaster, packed
Headlong into a medley, a monotone
Indifferently echoing alike
Laughter and the moan of men!

In the avaricious gloom a secret Ear
Sucks with a whirlpool greed out of the skies
Words, voiceless words, drawn in from far and near,
Bubble--blown rumour, whisperings like spies,
The knife--stab in the night, the fall of thrones,
Alarm of nations like a beating bell,
Jubilant feat, and misery grey,
Caught from all corners of the air pell--mell
In a voice that no man owns,
That a multitude of brazen masks shall shout
To the multitudes of Day.

The few stars, solitary in heights of night
Thieved by the cloud, shine and are dimmed again,
Though none puts out their light.
So solitary in the heart is pain,
Solitary the Dream,
Solitary the Vow, solitary the Deed!
There is no room for these
In that invisible cloud, woven of things that seem,
Sure of accepting softness and the greed
That it shall cling to and make cheaply wise,--
An all--uniting web of lies and of half--lies
And lying silences.

Into my ear, remote, remote, is blown
Out of the darkness and across the seas
Sound of a forest falling, young bodies of trees
One by one falling prone,
To be tamed to a helpless tissue, and to feed
The insatiate Presses' need.
Oh, did they spring to scent the blue silence of air
And sway slow to the wind, launching the light--winged birds?
Ghosts only are there,
The ghosts of trees that shoot no fresh leaf any more
But, drones of darkness, in the midnight bear
Black myriads of words.

Invisibly the night thickens with words that glide
Driven thronging on blind errands, soon to fall
Into a million minds, and glorified
To be their momentary oracle,
Glitter, and then--they are like the innumerable snow
Chance--timed, indifferent, random, swift and slow
That falls to a stillness out of whirling flurry;
And workers heavy--eyed
That under the chill cloud of morning hurry,
Muffled against the shiver in the blood,
Soil it at every stride,
Till each articulate crystal whiteness is confused,
And where the moment's wonder shone is mud,
Trodden, stale, and used.


II.3
Hewn and heavy, of granite hewn
Heavy and hard, the walls ascend
Bare, without measure to the eye:
Indifferent to night or noon,
Over pavement they impend.
Locked, impassive, huge, the Door
Stands caverned in the midst: on high,
Ruled and squared, the lintel stone
Bears the carven Janitor,
Justice, blind upon her throne.
Her no praying hands implore:
To her bound eyes no eyes plead.
Reason's idol, calm she sits,
Weighing only the gross deed,
Scrupulous with mind unsoiled
Not to know the thoughts that bleed
In the dumb soul, fluttering, beating
Hither, thither in its cage
Of ancestral ignorance foiled,
Rushing blinded into rage
And its own desire defeating.
Behind the door, within the wall
Locked, they sit, the numbered ones,
Secret from each other, all
Lost to name, like spectres passed
From the region of the sun's
Changeful glory on young limbs
Free to dance and free to leap.
From the acted thought they fast:
Them a roof of silence dims.
The midnight stars move over them;
They move not; but ruled times they keep
With the shadows on the floor.
They are mortised in a scheme,
Where the walls and fastened door,
Built of words that are become
Stones, are like their spirits dumb.

In ripened rustle of the corn
The wind becomes a flowing flame;
As swift it curves and slow relents
The body of a wave is born.
It passes--whither? No one knows;
But in the vision that consents
It is the beauty it became.
The wind blows and the spirit blows,
No moment ever yet the same,
And fresher than a sparkling spring
The unrepeated beauty flows;
And in the child that claps his hands
To see the daisy on the green,
And in the young man where he stands
Poised for the naked plunge; and in
The invisible bursting of the bud,
The leafing of the bough, that sends
Lightness like laughter through the blood
Of dancing girls, its wave is seen;
It flows and sings and never ends!
And flowers, trembling heavenly hues
In a lonely mountain place,
And chiming water's liquid curve,
The torrent's white, rock--ruffled race
Freed for splendour of its swerve,
And clouds that steal the solemn blues
Of noon, unregioned in their trace,
Or, ghostly travellers, invade
The mountains they dissolve in dream;
And mazes of the stars that fade
At dawn, still moving, lost in light;--
All, all the threads of music bind
Together in the visioned mind:
Eternity has imaged them.

O lovely is their secret Law
Timing all their motions true.
They know it not, yet they obey
Without thought and without awe,
Of that fountain unaware
Which they spring from and renew,
Finding out their missioned way,
Everywhere, oh, everywhere!
It is wild as a wild rose
And fearful as the weltering wave.
It is courage to the brave,
Wisdom to the eye that knows.
But we have bound it as with cords,
We have built it into stone,
All its motions frozen stark
Round a hidden human moan.
We have made it old and dark
Out of maiming thought and fears,
And the things our fears forbid,
Out of self--hurt and of rue.
We have built it into words,
And the words are stones! We did
What we could not help but do,--
We, the eternal Prisoners.

Break the word and free the thought!
Break the thought and free the thing!
But who in any net has caught
The wind, or in a sieve the spring?
As soon shall he dissever these,
Through which the life--blood single streams
From germ unknown to fruit unguessed,
Nourished with wonder and with dreams,
In its deep essence unpossessed
And smiling out of mysteries.
The flower is in the bud, the bud
Within the seed, beneath the ground.
But all is flowing of one flood
That is not seen, that is not bound.

This palace--prison of the mind
How in the youthful morn it glows!
Its windows flame with angel--light,
Auroral flushes of the rose,
And all the airs of heaven invite
With miracle of breathing blue
And shifting glory of sun and showers
To ecstasy and song,--and who
Remembers how therein confined
In sunken cells are captive powers,
Powers that a jailer fetters close
With chains of the invisible hours,
To one another hardly known
In furtive glimpse, and each alone?
O marvel of the world, O bright
And luminous palace, built to hold
The light of heaven within its walls
Precious with glory as of gold,
Why comes the night, why comes the night,
When, as about it the sky falls
Filled with the dark, it seems to stand
A dark tower in a lonely land!


II.4
In the wonder of dreams on a wave of the sky buoyed
My body was the body of a wish, the word of a thought
Uttered whole from a throb of the heart in a cry's delight.
Never bird out of Africa beating a golden void,
Shifting the coloured regions that Spring has caught,
Pursued the desire of its being in flight
Happier: Time an idle ruin gleamed
Where vision flamed or flowered or streamed.

Slow, slow the mind gropes back to curb and term
Of this strange world; to Time that's used, and all
The enclosing, age--descended ritual,
The invisible garment, cobweb--fine and firm,
Wherein the limbs move to the ancestral call,
And hands repeat what dead hands did before,
And the mind lingers as behind a door.
The hinted glory of liberty is fled,
And in its stead
Is only the shadow of Man's ancient nurse,
Dear Custom, at whose knees he learnt the ways
Of his uncounted tribe, schooled to rehearse
Cruelty and folly, and, ere he comprehend,
Make these his virtue, so to earn her praise.

Massive as mountain to his childish gaze
Is that unmoved authority of power,
His fibre trembles to offend.
And slow as the Earth is in her seasons, she
Befriends and punishes like sun and shower;
Well--used to tears and the heart--broken hour,
Smoulder of mutiny and anger, tamed in the end,
Indulgent of a laughter brief as those,
For all come back at night--fall to her knee,
When the old shadows descend.
With mutter upon her lips, with eyes half blind,
Buried mysteries she knows.
With dark fountains of ignorance in her mind,
How wise she seems, amassed in ancient certitudes!
Her silences, how comfortably kind!
The human slowly grows
Inhuman, where she broods.
And if a solitary spirit would wrest
His wrongs away from what so closely cleaves,
And break into the world that he believes,
Betrayers from within, crying Traitor! seek
To pull him back, securely weak,
In passiveness: he sucked it from her breast.

O away and away and afar from this alien home,
Where spirits are woven together in words of fear,
Released into innocence let me have being and breath!
But is it alone by mercy of dreams that I roam,
Liberated to joy's essential sphere,
In an antechamber of birth or beyond death?
All flushes around me and then dissolves away.
The heavenly dawning closes gray.


II.5
Once, only once, never again, never,
The idle curve my hand traces in air,
The first flush on the cloud, lost in the morning's height,
Meeting of the eyes and tremble of delight,
Before the heart is aware
Gone! to return, never again, never!

Futurity flows toward me, all things come
Smooth--flowing, and ere this pulse beat they are bound
In fixity that no repenting power can free;
They are with Egypt and with Nineveh,
Cold as a grave in the ground;
And still, undated, all things toward me come.

Why is all strange? Why do I not grow used?
The ripple upon the stream that nothing stays,
The bough above, in glory of warm light waving slow,
Trouble me, enchant me, as with the stream I flow
Lost into the endless days.
Why is all strange? Why do I not grow used?

Eternity! Where heard I that still word?
Like one that, moving through a foreign street,
Has felt upon him bent from far some earnest look,
Yet sees not whence, and feigns that he mistook,
I marvel at my own heart--beat.
Eternity! how learnt I that far word?


III.1

Not for pity and pardon, for Judgment now I cry!
To be seen, that I may see; known, that I may know,
For this I cry.
Dwelling among dear images dream--created,
Flattered or daunted by a deluding mirror
That is not I,--
O to taste the light as my body tastes the air,
Let fall defence, cast off the obstinately excusing
Pleas, and myself be my only vindication!
Nothing but this in the end can satisfy.

Why does this desire pursue me and so possess me?
Is not breath sweet, and the young smile of the morning?
Yet inly to know
That I am bound in a net of minutes and of hours,
Inheriting bondages of habit, and fear,
And ancient woe;
To be rooted so deep in lost ages of time,
With tendrils of hope and want and frail repining,
The ignorant accomplice of purposes abhorred:
This thought is my companion and my foe.

Sometimes to fly to some remoteness of the air
To perceive with different senses, a new body,
I pine and ache;
As on this bed of self, whereon I am bound, I toss
Day and night, filled with ineffectual longing
That bond to break.
O yet, enslaved, I know not to what I am enslaved:
Only this husk and shard of what I am, this fond
Dreamer of dreams, eater and drinker of untruth,
This only I know, and this cannot forsake.

Wondrous glories crowd into the eye's treasure--chamber,
Wondrous harmonies linger in the ear's recesses,
Stored for delight.
But beyond the ear's compass what modulations fine
Tremble, and what marvels unapprehended sparkle
Beyond the sight!
Oh, and beyond the mind's capacity of conceiving,
Much less of measuring, amplitudes of wisdom,
Fit to sustain eternal serenity and courage,
While we go clouded, faltering, finite!

Were I stationed in the sun, to behold the worlds
Not nightly in declension but in dance triumphant
And timeless rolled;
Had I the vision, closed to the eye's horizon,
Labyrinths of an unimagined minuteness
In the mind to hold;
Could I attain the greatest and assume the least,
Shrink to be a blade of the innumerable grass,
Soar eagle--winged amid the altitudes of noontide,
Then might I measure, and what I am behold.

But rained over with riches of hours and moments,
Meshing me as a lily, thick with honeyed light,
The drunken bee;
Intoxicated with wild sweetnesses of sense,
Fullness of the opened heart, glory of earth, and beauty
Enamouring me,--
Roofed in a den I am, a poor captive rather
Who sits in fetters eyeing the barred, the precious blue,
Where high in the envied air a cloud lingers in light
And wings fly whither they desire to be.

Lying in the night I hear from graves unnumbered,
Under stars that have seen all history passing,
The indignant cry:
Must we only in effigy and phantom be remembered,
Malignly obscured or mocked with gilded pretences,
Wherefrom we fly?
Will none unwind these cerements? none lift up from us
This load of false praise and false fortune's betrayal?
Let us be known in nakedness of our nature!
Deliver us from dominion of the lie!

As if they wandered in deserts and groped in caves,
I hear the exclaiming of disenchanted spirits
In bitter lament
Beholding the barren things for which they wasted
The world, the pitiable causes whereon their breath
And blood were spent!
Was this the Light, this little candle at noon? This loathed
Cruelty, the righteousness for which they thirsted,
Sacrificing to invisible idols of the mind?
They see. But who hears? This world is content.

Perfect Experience! Is not the mind worthy
This, when for glimpses only and shining fragments
The martyrs bled?
Majesty and splendour of overcoming vision,
Vision all--judging, certain and universal,
Not this I dread,
But to remain banished into a parcelled being,
Eternized in all these faculties of error!
Better a perfect oblivion in Earth's vastness,
By that eternal ignorance comforted.

Yet does my heart not cease from its supplication,
Yet I remember and cannot be satisfied,
By Time oppressed.
And, as if summoned and drawn whither I know not,
Clinging into earth with strong fibres of nature,
In dark unrest
I burn like a seed that in burial forgotten
Pushes its hope up, growing in blind affiance
Toward the light shining over an unconceived world,
There to be lost, illumined and released.


III.2
In my dream there was a Door.
Dark on my musing path it stood
Before me, and straightway I knew
(The certainty ran through my blood)
That, did I open and pass through,
I should know all for evermore.
Those slow hinges, and that weight
Relenting on them, would unroll
The hidden map of all my fate
And all the world and the world's soul.

Who has trembled not at doors?
Motionless, they shake the heart.
Hope and menace on them hang:
They are the closed lips' counterpart
Wherein the sentence is concealed
For leaping joy or lancing pang.
Ah, what answer will they yield?
Will it be barren as the shores
That endless waves beat, like a knell
Slowly repeated to Time's end?
Or will it be the ineffable
Still radiance that shall all amend,
Melting out Time's ancient stain?
Will they open on sunrise
Everlasting, or will they
Close upon the light again,
Like eyelids closing over eyes
That see for the last time the day?
Is it not by such ancient dread
Inspired,--the warning doubt of what
Our prospering spirits has full--fed
With certainties by hope begot--
That on his progress proud we raise
For the returning conqueror
The arch, the immaterial door,
So he may pass, amid the blaze
And loud acclaim at glory's height,
Beneath a shadow of the night,
Where the hinted powers take toll
Of what is mortal in the soul?

O Door, like sealed fatal decree,
Image of death, image of birth,
Ever uncertain certainty!
O silence as of silent earth,
O silence into substance built,
O night projected into day,
O still unspoken Yea or Nay,
O brimming vessel still unspilt,
O end that meets us on the way!
What lies behind your blank accost?
Is it the treasure we have lost
And laboured wearily to recover?
Or something that we never knew,--
Another mind with other measures
Laughing to scorn our pangs and pleasures?
Is it at last the only true,
The unknown Love, the unknown Lover?

With all my soul at earnest gaze
Fixed upon that silent Door,
I stretched my hand the latch to raise,
I lifted up my hand, and then
Some power forbade me, and I forbore.

In the changes of my dream
I was borne to a far place
Empty and wide, and all a--gleam
With sunlit quivering of the grass.
There rose before me, vast and blind,
A towered prison, walled and old;
It seemed a prison--house so great
It could have held all human--kind.
In the midst there was a gate.
And as I dreamed my dream, behold
I saw the prisoners released.
The gates rolled back; and forth they came
Stumbling in the light that smote
Full on them from the dazzling East.
Like knives it stabbed them; like a flame
It seared them; with their hands they hid
Their faces, or as if by rote
Stretched out vain arms, to touch and feel
Familiar walls closing around;
Then, lacking fetters, halted lame
Waiting to do what they were bid.
Their helpless motions made as though
They would run back, or fall, or kneel
Or hide themselves beneath the ground.
This way and that they looked to go.
O never may I see again
Such looks of blank and empty pain!
They were looks of men betrayed
And of their naked souls afraid.
But some there were, a few, that stood
And stretched their arms up to the sun,
As if the light streamed through their blood,
As if their breath was now begun;
As if their spirits till then had slept,
As if they never yet had known
The world of life that was their own.
These it was, not those, who wept.
Was it for pity of all that sad
Throng, or the extreme joy they had?
O that on earth I could have sight
Of those faces, and that light!


III.3
I am laid within a place of summer leaves.
Solid boles mount through foliage out of sight.
No shadow lacks some intimacy of light,
No penetrating radiance but receives
Shadowy immersion. Dream
Is on me, is on the hushed, the thronged and drowsing glow.
Even the thoughts emerging from the mind,
Like voices in a sleeping city, seem
Reproved. This is old Earth, so old and kind,
That she is lenient in her overflow
To all things human. Why, why tease the sense
For a hope to a fear unmated?
Why rend the rich seam of experience?
Why toss upon thoughts frustrated?

Each way appears a closing avenue,
Leading, among warm scents, I know not where.
But Whither is to the idle mind no care,
For always there is fragrance of some clue
Neglected, that might guide
As in a trance the veiled soul to its unknown peace:
Peace such as comes like lips laid upon lips,
A brimmed oblivion of all else beside;
Like anchorage to tempest--blinded ships
When the thwart waves resign, and the winds cease.
Earth with warm arms embrace me, and let me feel,
Feel only, a wonder working,
Until the tender and still sense reveal
The secrets round me lurking.

Now might you come back, old divinities,
Earth--born, from cradling green and lost recess,
Serene in your unclouded nakedness,
To enrich the mirror of my musing eyes.
As fruit on the rough bough
Globes itself, the last golden glory of the tree,
Smooth from wild earth the human image rose;
And what diviner shape should hear the vow
Of mortals, or what else their secret knows,
Though past the ache of our mortality?
Shall I not sacrifice unrest and fume
On an altar here secluded?
Let the vext mind re--open like a bloom
Upon which the light has brooded?

Delay me from the sight that only sees!--
Frost of a dawn disclosing the world bare,
And, stript of splendour, all things as they are,
When stiffened grasses and stark branches freeze
And the mind shrinks apart
With all the living colours famished out of it.
O kindly mediation, interpose
Images of those forms that hold the heart,
Warm, wondrous forms whereinto the world flows
To bloom and to perfect them: O admit
Certitude to obscurity awhile,
As cloud in the light suspended.
Gracious is Earth; not far her secret smile:
And here is the soul befriended.

Only such sorrow as lingered in the gaze
Of Proserpine, returning from the dark,
Such tears as filled her, listening to the lark
And looking on the flower that springs and sways,--
All humanized for her
As even the shadows were, when she was throned in night;
No more than these, to enhance the glowing day
Shall enter where the green leaves are astir!
Shall I not be sufficed, and charm away
Perplexities to soft and shadowy flight?
Shall I not now--O whence is this breath come
Of Time in a stealing chillness?
Why cries my heart out? Why are all things dumb,
And strange, strange the stillness?


III.4
Whisper to me, whisper! I have listened and have not heard.
Whisper to me, you leaves; have you not more to say?
Now at the ebb of the low evening ray
Whisper some word left over from the day,
The one word, the lost word!--
So I cried; and then was stilled.
For suddenly, unsought, unwilled,
I knew not how, I knew not whence,
There came a lightening of the sense;
I found an answer from within,
That made me to the stars akin;
My pulse obeyed the lovely Law;
With ears I heard, with eyes I saw;
And one leaf, veined with green, indwelling light
Seemed the world's secret and absorbed me quite.
Eternity through a moment
Sparkled; I could not turn away my sight.

What thing, long contemplated, alters not
Its seeming substance, as the deepening mind
By contemplation passes out of thought,
Immenser worlds to find?
The Mother as she clasps her infant boy,
Bent over him with the deep looks of joy,
Becomes her own hope; oh, she stays
Not with the idol of her gaze,
But she is gone beyond her farthest prayer
And Time's last injury, to meet him there.
All that distracts him from her bosom now,--
White butterflies, a waving bough--
Presages the usurping world: she grows
To something more than fear and hope forebode,
Wide as the sky. He goes
Out of her heart's possession;
Yet in her arms he lies, that stranger and that God.

Free on its wings the mind can hover, worlds away,
To where the vast Atlantic stream
Dwindles to a watery gleam,
And like a star in bright noonday
The body's home is lost.
The mind can tell me that these mossed
Gray boulders in green shadow deep,
Appearing sunk and socketed in sleep,
Beneath their image of repose
Are all a dizzy motion whirled,
A streaming dust our sight so gross
Confuses to a solid world.
Never mortal eye has seen
Those minim motes, no thought can lodge between,
So restless in their secret fever
They dance invisibly for ever.
Alone the soul has knowledge of release;
Only in the soul is stillness,
Poised to receive a universe in peace.

Only in the soul is stillness! I remember an hour,--
It was the May--month and wild throats were singing
From bough to bough that breathed in bud and flower,
And the full grass was springing
Beneath an old gray tower--
I remember those blue, scented airs,
And how I came at unawares
Beside the daisied border of a mead
Upon a pool so magically clear,
It made each coloured pebble and furry weed
And star--grained sand within its depth appear
Like things of Paradise, unearthly bright;--
No surface seemed to intervene
Fairy floor and eye between,
Save for a traceless quivering of the light,
Gentle as breathing sleep, where stole
Up from its pregnant darkness
The living spring, as private as the soul.

Love from its inward well, a secret wonder, arising
Clear as the trembling water--spring,
A spirit that knows not anything,
Simple in the world and nought despising,
Changes all it meets,--the stone
Becomes a gem, the weed a rose;
But oh, within itself it grows
By all it touches, all it makes its own,
Vast and multitudinous, a Power
To act, to kindle and to dower
In pain's and fear's despite
With glory of unending light.
O fountain in my heart, I feel you now
Full and resistless, so I nothing scorn.
How could I lose you, how
Ever for an hour forget you?
This is the world whereinto I was born.

Why did I tread long roads, seeking, seeking in vain?
Why did I make lament of the dark night?
Why crouch with images of old affright?
Eternal Moment, hold me again, again,
Bathe me in wells of light!
It is now and it is here
The something beyond all things dear,
The miracle that has no name!
When I am not, then I am:
Having nothing, I have all.
It was my hands that built my prison--wall,
It was my thought that did my thought confine,
It was my heart refrained my heart from love.
Now I am stilled as in a gaze divine,
Now I flow upward from my secret well,
Now I behold what spirit I am of.
The Body is the Word; nothing divides
This blood and breath from thought ineffable.
Hold me, Eternal Moment!
The Idols fade: the God abides.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

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.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sixth Book

THE English have a scornful insular way
Of calling the French light. The levity
Is in the judgment only, which yet stands;
For say a foolish thing but oft enough,
(And here's the secret of a hundred creeds,–
Men get opinions as boys learn to spell,
By re-iteration chiefly) the same thing
Shall pass at least for absolutely wise,
And not with fools exclusively. And so,
We say the French are light, as if we said
The cat mews, or the milch-cow gives us milk:
Say rather, cats are milked, and milch cows mew,
For what is lightness but inconsequence,
Vague fluctuation 'twixt effect and cause,
Compelled by neither? Is a bullet light,
That dashes from the gun-mouth, while the eye
Winks, and the heart beats one, to flatten itself
To a wafer on the white speck on a wall
A hundred paces off? Even so direct,
So sternly undivertible of aim,
Is this French people.
All idealists
Too absolute and earnest, with them all
The idea of a knife cuts real flesh;
And still, devouring the safe interval
Which Nature placed between the thought and act,
They threaten conflagration to the world
And rush with most unscrupulous logic on
Impossible practice. Set your orators
To blow upon them with loud windy mouths
Through watchword phrases, jest or sentiment,
Which drive our burley brutal English mobs
Like so much chaff, whichever way they blow,–
This light French people will not thus be driven.
They turn indeed; but then they turn upon
Some central pivot of their thought and choice,
And veer out by the force of holding fast.
That's hard to understand, for Englishmen
Unused to abstract questions, and untrained
To trace the involutions, valve by valve,
In each orbed bulb-root of a general truth,
And mark what subtly fine integument
Divides opposed compartments. Freedom's self
Comes concrete to us, to be understood,
Fixed in a feudal form incarnately
To suit our ways of thought and reverence,
The special form, with us, being still the thing.
With us, I say, though I'm of Italy
My mother's birth and grave, by father's grave
And memory; let it be,–a poet's heart
Can swell to a pair of nationalities,
However ill-lodged in a woman's breast.

And so I am strong to love this noble France,
This poet of the nations, who dream on
And wails on (while the household goes to wreck)
For ever, after some ideal good,–
Some equal poise of sex, some unvowed love
Inviolate, some spontaneous brotherhood,
Some wealth, that leaves none poor and finds none tired,
Some freedom of the many, that respects
The wisdom of the few. Heroic dreams!
Sublime, to dream so; natural, to wake:
And sad, to use such lofty scaffoldings,
Erected for the building of a church,
To build instead, a brothel . . or a prison–
May God save France!
However she have sighed
Her great soul up into a great man's face,
To flush his temples out so gloriously
That few dare carp at Cæsar for being bald,
What then?–this Cæsar represents, not reigns,
And is not despot, though twice absolute;
This Head has all the people for a heart;
This purple's lined with the democracy,–
Now let him see to it! for a rent within
Must leave irreparable rags without.

A serious riddle: find such anywhere
Except in France; and when it's found in France,
Be sure to read it rightly. So, I mused
Up and down, up and down, the terraced streets,
The glittering Boulevards, the white colonnades
Of fair fantastic Paris who wears boughs
Like plumes, as if a man made them,–tossing up
Her fountains in the sunshine from the squares,
As dice i' the game of beauty, sure to win;
Or as she blew the down-balls of her dreams,
And only waited for their falling back,
To breathe up more, and count her festive hours.

The city swims in verdure, beautiful
As Venice on the waters, the sea-swan.
What bosky gardens, dropped in close-walled courts,
As plums in ladies' laps, who start and laugh:
What miles of streets that run on after trees,
Still carrying the necessary shops,
Those open caskets, with the jewels seen!
And trade is art, and art's philosophy,
In Paris. There's a silk, for instance, there,
As worth an artist's study for the folds,
As that bronze opposite! nay, the bronze has faults;
Art's here too artful,–conscious as a maid,
Who leans to mark her shadow on the wall
Until she lose a 'vantage in her step.
Yet Art walks forward, and knows where to walk:
The artists also, are idealists,
Too absolute for nature, logical
To austerity in the application of
The special theory; not a soul content
To paint a crooked pollard and an ass,
As the English will, because they find it so,
And like it somehow.–Ah, the old Tuileries
Is pulling its high cap down on its eyes,
Confounded, conscience-stricken, and amazed
By the apparition of a new fair face
In those devouring mirrors. Through the grate,
Within the gardens, what a heap of babes,
Swept up like leaves beneath the chestnut-trees,
From every street and alley of the town,
By the ghosts perhaps that blow too bleak this way
A-looking for their heads! Dear pretty babes,
I'll wish them luck to have their ball-play out
Before the next change comes.–And further on,
What statues, posed upon their columns fine,
As if to stand a moment were a feat,
Against that blue! What squares! what breathing-room
For a nation that funs fast,–ay, runs against
The dentist's teeth at the corner, in pale rows,
Which grin at progress in an epigram.

I walked the day out, listening to the chink
Of the first Napoleon's dry bones, as they lay
In his second grave beneath the golden dome
That caps all Paris like a bubble. 'Shall
These dry bones live,' thought Louis Philippe once,
And lived to know. Herein is argument
For kings and politicians, but still more
For poets, who bear buckets to the well,
Of ampler draught.
These crowds are very good
For meditation, (when we are very strong)
Though love of beauty makes us timorous,
And draws us backward from the coarse town-sights
To count the daisies upon dappled fields,
And hear the streams bleat on among the hills
In innocent and indolent repose;
While still with silken elegiac thoughts
We wind out from us the distracting world,
And die into the chrysalis of a man,
And leave the best that may, to come of us
In some brown moth. Be, rather, bold, and bear
To look into the swarthiest face of things,
For God's sake who has made them.

Seven days' work;
The last day shutting 'twixt its dawn and eve,
The whole work bettered, of the previous six!
Since God collected and resumed in man
The firmaments, the strata, and the lights,
Fish, fowl, and beast, and insect,–all their trains
Of various life caught back upon His arm,
Reorganised, and constituted MAN,
The microcosm, the adding up of works;
Within whose fluttering nostrils, then at last,
Consummating Himself, the Maker sighed,
As some strong winner at the foot race sighs
Touching the goal.
Humanity is great;
And, if I would not rather pore upon
An ounce of common, ugly, human dust,
An artisan's palm, or a peasant's brow,
Unsmooth, ignoble, save to me and God,
Than track old Nilus to his silver roots,
And wait on all the changes of the moon
Among the mountain-peaks of Thessaly,
(Until her magic crystal round itself
For many a witch to see in)–set it down
As weakness,–strength by no means. How is this
That men of science, osteologists
And surgeons, beat some poets, in respect
For nature,–count nought common or unclean,
Spend raptures upon perfect specimens
Of indurated veins, distorted joints,
Or beautiful new cases of curved spine:
While we, we are shocked at nature's falling off,
We dare to shrink back from her warts and blains,
We will not, when she sneezes, look at her,
Not even to say 'God bless her'? That's our wrong;
For that, she will not trust us often with
Her larger sense of beauty and desire,
But tethers us to a lily or a rose
And bids us diet on the dew inside,–
Left ignorant that the hungry beggar-boy
(Who stares unseen against our absent eyes,
And wonders at the gods that we must be,
To pass so careless for the oranges!)
Bears yet a breastful of a fellow-world
To this world, undisparaged, undespoiled,
And (while we scorn him for a flower or two,
As being, Heaven help us, less poetical)
Contains, himself, both flowers and firmaments
And surging seas and aspectable stars,
And all that we would push him out of sight
In order to see nearer. Let us pray
God's grace to keep God's image in repute;
That so, the poet and philanthropist
(Even I and Romney) may stand side by side,
Because we both stand face to face with men
Contemplating the people in the rough,–
Yet each so follow a vocation,–his
And mine.
I walked on, musing with myself
On life and art, and whether, after all,
A larger metaphysics might not help
Our physics, a completer poetry
Adjust our daily life and vulgar wants,
More fully than the special outside plans,
Phalansteries, material institutes
The civil conscriptions and lay monasteries
Preferred by modern thinkers, as they thought
The bread of man indeed made all his life,
And washing seven times in the 'People's Baths'
Were sovereign for a people's leprosy,–
Still leaving out the essential prophet's word
That comes in power. On which, we thunder down,
We prophets, poets,–Virtue's in the word!
The maker burnt the darkness up with His,
To inaugurate the use of vocal life;
And, plant a poet's word even, deep enough
In any man's breast, looking presently
For offshoots, you have done more for the man,
Than if you dressed him in a broad-cloth coat
And warmed his Sunday potage at your fire.
Yet Romney leaves me . . .
God! what face is that?
O Romney, O Marian!
Walking on the quays
And pulling thoughts to pieces leisurely,
As if I caught at grasses in a field,
And bit them slow between my absent lips,
And shred them with my hands . .
What face is that?
What a face, what a look, what a likeness! Full on mine
The sudden blow of it came down, till all
My blood swam, my eyes dazzled. Then I sprang–

If was as if a meditative man
Were dreaming out a summer afternoon
And watching gnats a-prick upon a pond,
When something floats up suddenly, out there,
Turns over . . a dead face, known once alive–
So old, so new! It would be dreadful now
To lose the sight and keep the doubt of this.
He plunges–ha! he has lost it in the splash.

I plunged–I tore the crowd up, either side,
And rushed on,–forward, forward . . after her.
Her? whom?
A woman sauntered slow, in front,
Munching an apple,–she left off amazed
As if I had snatched it: that's not she, at least.
A man walked arm-linked with a lady veiled,
Both heads dropped closer than the need of talk:
They started; he forgot her with his face,
And she, herself,–and clung to him as if
My look were fatal. Such a stream of folk,
All with cares and business of their own!
I ran the whole quay down against their eyes;
No Marian; nowhere Marian. Almost, now,
I could call Marian, Marian, with the shriek
Of desperate creatures calling for the Dead.
Where is she, was she? was she anywhere?
I stood still, breathless, gazing, straining out
In every uncertain distance, till, at last,
A gentleman abstracted as myself
Came full against me, then resolved the clash
In voluble excuses,–obviously
Some learned member of the Institute
Upon his way there, walking, for his health,
While meditating on the last 'Discourse;'
Pinching the empty air 'twixt finger and thumb,
From which the snuff being ousted by that shock,
Defiled his snow-white waistcoat, duly pricked
At the button-hole with honourable red;
'Madame, your pardon,'–there, he swerved from me
A metre, as confounded as he had heard
That Dumas would be chosen to fill up
The next chair vacant, by his 'men in us,'
Since when was genius found respectable?
It passes in its place, indeed,–which means
The seventh floor back, or else the hospital;
Revolving pistols are ingenious things,
But prudent men (Academicians are)
Scare keep them in the cupboard, next the prunes.

And so, abandoned to a bitter mirth,
I loitered to my inn. O world, O world,
O jurists, rhymers, dreamers, what you please,
We play a weary game of hide and seek!
We shape a figure of our fantasy,
Call nothing something, and run after it
And lose it, lose ourselves too in the search,
Till clash against us, comes a somebody
Who also has lost something and is lost,
Philosopher against philanthropist,
Academician against poet, man
Against woman, against the living, the dead,–
Then home, with a bad headache and worse jest!

To change the water for my heliotropes
And yellow roses. Paris has such flowers,
But England, also. 'Twas a yellow rose,
By that south window of the little house,
My cousin Romney gathered with his hand
On all my birthdays for me, save the last;
And then I shook the tree too rough, too rough,
For roses to stay after.
Now, my maps
I must not linger here from Italy
Till the last nightingale is tired of song,
And the last fire-fly dies off in the maize.
My soul's in haste to leap into the sun
And scorch and seethe itself to a finer mood,
Which here, in this chill north, is apt to stand
Too stiffly in former moulds.
That face persists.
It floats up, it turns over in my mind,
As like to Marian, as one dead is like
That same alive. In very deed a face
And not a fancy, though it vanished so;
The small fair face between the darks of hair,
I used to liken, when I saw her first,
To a point of moonlit water down a well:
The low brow, the frank space between the eyes,
Which always had the brown pathetic look
Of a dumb creature who had been beaten once,
And never since was easy with the world.
Ah, ah–now I remember perfectly
Those eyes to-day,–how overlarge they seemed
As if some patient passionate despair
(Like a coal dropt and forgot on tapestry,
Which slowly burns a widening circle out)
Had burnt them larger, larger. And those eyes,
To-day, I do remember, saw me too,
As I saw them, with conscious lids astrain
In recognition. Now, a fantasy,
A simple shade or image of the brain,
Is merely passive, does not retro-act,
Is seen, but sees not.
'Twas a real face,
Perhaps a real Marian.
Which being so,
I ought to write to Romney, 'Marian's here.
Be comforted for Marian.'
My pen fell,
My hands struck sharp together, as hands do
Which hold at nothing. Can I write to him
A half truth? can I keep my own soul blind
To the other half, . . the worse? What are our souls,
If still, to run on straight a sober pace
Nor start at every pebble or dead leaf,
They must wear blinkers, ignore facts, suppress
Six-tenths of the road? Confront the truth, my soul!
And oh, as truly as that was Marian's face,
The arms of the same Marian clasped a thing
. . Not hid so well beneath the scanty shawl,
I cannot name it now for what it was.

A child. Small business has a cast-away
Like Marian, with that crown of prosperous wives
At which the gentlest she grows arrogant
And says, 'my child.' Who'll find an emerald ring
On a beggar's middle finger, and require
More testimony to convict a thief?
A child's too costly for so mere a wretch;
She filched it somewhere; and it means, with her,
Instead of honour, blessing, . . merely shame.
I cannot write to Romney, 'Here she is,
Here's Marian found! I'll set you on her track:
I saw her here, in Paris, . . and her child.
She put away your love two years ago,
But, plainly, not to starve. You suffered then;
And, now that you've forgot her utterly
As any lost year's annual in whose place
You've planted a thick flowering evergreen,
I choose, being kind, to write and tell you this
To make you wholly easy–she's not dead,
But only . . damned.'
Stop there: I go too fast;
I'm cruel like the rest,–in haste to take
The first stir in the arras for a rat,
And set my barking, biting thoughts upon't.
A child! what then? Suppose a neighbour's sick
And asked her, 'Marian, carry out my child
In this spring air,'–I punish her for that?
Or say, the child should hold her round the neck
For good child-reasons, that he liked it so
And would not leave her–she had winning ways–
I brand her therefore, that she took the child?
Not so.
I will not write to Romney Leigh.
For now he's happy,–and she may indeed
Be guilty,–and the knowledeg of her fault
Would draggle his smooth time. But I, whose days
Are not so fine they cannot bear the rain,
And who, moreover, having seen her face,
Must see it again, . . will see it, by my hopes
Of one day seeing heaven too. The police
Shall track her, hound her, ferret their own soil;
We'll dig this Paris to its catacombs
But certainly we'll find her, have her out,
And save her, if she will or will not–child
Or no child,–if a child, then one to save!

The long weeks passed on without consequence.
As easy find a footstep on the sand
The morning after spring-tied, as the trace
Of Marian's feet between the incessant surfs
Of this live flood. She may have moved this way,–
But so the star-fish does, and crosses out
The dent of her small shoe. The foiled police
Renounced me; 'Could they find a girl and child,
No other signalment but girl and child?
No data shown, but noticeable eyes
And hair in masses, low upon the brow,
As if it were an iron crown and pressed?
Friends heighten, and suppose they specify:
Why, girls with hair and eyes are everywhere
In Paris; they had turned me up in vain
No Marian Erle indeed, but certainly
Mathildes, Justines, Victoires, . . or, if I sought
The English, Betsis, Saras, by the score.
They might as well go out into the fields
To find a speckled bean, that's somehow specked,
And somewhere in the pod.'–They left me so.
Shall I leave Marian? have I dreamed a dream?
I thank God I have found her! I must say
'Thank, God,' for finding her, although 'tis true
I find the world more sad and wicked for't.
But she–
I'll write about her, presently;
My hand's a-tremble as I had just caught up
My heart to write with, in the place of it.
At least you'd take these letters to be writ
At sea, in storm!–wait now . .
A simple chance
Did all. I could not sleep last night, and tired
Of turning on my pillow and harder thoughts
Went out at early morning, when the air
Is delicate with some last starry touch,
To wander through the Market-place of Flowers
(The prettiest haunt in Paris), and make sure
At worst, that there were roses in the world.
So wandering, musing with the artist's eye,
That keeps the shade-side of the thing it loves,
Half-absent, whole-observing, while the crowd
Of young vivacioius and black-braided heads
Dipped, quick as finches in a blossomed tree,
Among the nosegays, cheapening this and that
In such a cheerful twitter of rapid speech,–
My heart leapt in me, startled by a voice
That slowly, faintly, with long breaths that marked
The interval between the wish and word,
Inquired in stranger's French, 'Would that be much,
That branch of flowering mountain-gorse?'–'So much?
Too much for me, then!' turning the face round
So close upon me, that I felt the sigh
It turned with.
'Marian, Marian!'–face to face–
'Marian! I find you. Shall I let you go?'
I held her two slight wrists with both my hands;
'Ah, Marian, Marian, can I let you go?'
–She fluttered from me like a cyclamen,
As white, which, taken in a sudden wind,
Beats on against the palisade.–'Let pass,'
She said at last. 'I will not,' I replied;
'I lost my sister Marian many days,
And sought her ever in my walks and prayers,
And now I find her . . . do we thrown away
The bread we worked and prayed for,–crumble it
And drop it, . . to do even so by thee
Whom still I've hungered after more than bread,
My sister Marian?–can I hurt thee, dear?
Then why distrust me? Never tremble so.
Come with me rather, where we'll talk and live,
And none shall vex us. I've a home for you
And me and no one else' . . .
She shook her head.
'A home for you and me and no one else
Ill-suits one of us: I prefer to such,
A roof of grass on which a flower might spring,
Less costly to me than the cheapest here;
And yet I could not, at this hour, afford
A like home, even. That you offer yours,
I thank you. You are good as heaven itself–
As good as one I knew before . . Farewell.'
I loosed her hands. 'In his name, no farewell!'
(She stood as if I held her,) 'for his sake,
For his sake, Romney's! by the good he meant,
Ay, always! by the love he pressed for once,–
And by the grief, reproach, abandonment,
He took in change' . .
'He, Romney! who grieved him?
Who had the heart for't? what reproach touch'd him?
Be merciful,–speak quickly.'
'Therefore come.
I answered with authority,–'I think
We dare to speak such things, and name such names,
In the open squares of Paris!'
Not a word
She said, but, in a gentle humbled way,
(As one who had forgot herself in grief)
Turned round and followed closely where I went.
As if I led her by a narrow plank
Across devouring waters, step by step,–
And so in silence we walked on a mile.

And then she stopped: her face was white as wax.
'We go much further?'
'You are ill,' I asked,
'Or tired?'
She looked the whiter for her smile.
'There's one at home,' she said, 'has need of me
By this time,–and I must not let him wait.'

'Not even,' I asked, 'to hear of Romney Leigh?'
'Not even,' she said, 'to hear of Mister Leigh.'

'In that case,' I resumed, 'I go with you,
And we can talk the same thing there as here.
None waits for me: I have my day to spend.'

Her lips moved in a spasm without a sound,–
But then she spoke. 'It shall be as you please;
And better so,–'tis shorter seen than told.
And though you will not find me worth your pains,
That even, may be worth some pains to know,
For one as good as you are.'
Then she led
The way, and I, as by a narrow plank
Across devouring waters, followed her,
Stepping by her footsteps, breathing by her breath,
And holding her with eyes that would not slip;
And so, without a word, we walked a mile,
And so, another mile, without a word.

Until the peopled streets being all dismissed,
House-rows and groups all scattered like a flock,
The market-gardens thickened, and the long
White walls beyond, like spiders' outside threads,
Stretched, feeling blindly toward the country-fields
Through half-built habitations and half-dug
Foundations,–intervals of trenchant chalk,
That bite betwixt the grassy uneven turfs
Where goats (vine tendrils trailing from their mouths)
Stood perched on edges of the cellarage
Which should be, staring as about to leap
To find their coming Bacchus. All the place
Seemed less a cultivation than a waste:
Men work here, only,–scarce begin to live:
All's sad, the country struggling with the town,
Like an untamed hawk upon a strong man's fist,
That beats its wings and tries to get away,
And cannot choose be satisfied so soon
To hop through court-yards with its right foot tied,
The vintage plains and pastoral hills in sight!

We stopped beside a house too high and slim
To stand there by itself, but waiting till
Five others, two on this side, three on that,
Should grow up from the sullen second floor
They pause at now, to build it to a row.
The upper windows partly were unglazed
Meantime,–a meagre, unripe house: a line
Of rigid poplars elbowed it behind,
And just in front, beyond the lime and bricks
That wronged the grass between it and the road,
A great acacia, with its slender trunk
And overpoise of multitudinous leaves,
(In which a hundred fields might spill their dew
And intense verdure, yet find room enough)
Stood reconciling all the place with green.

I follwoed up the stair upon her step.
She hurried upward, shot across a face,
A woman's on the landing,–'How now, now!
Is no one to have holidays but you?
You said an hour, and stay three hours, I think,
And Julie waiting for your betters here!
Why if he had waked, he might have waked for me.'
–Just murmuring an excusing word she passed
And shut the rest out with the chamber-door,
Myself shut in beside her.
'Twas a room
Scarce large than a grave, and near as bare;
Two stools, a pallet-bed; I saw the room;
A mouse could find no sort of shelter in't,
Much less a greater secret; curtainless,–
The window fixed you with its torturing eye,
Defying you to take a step apart.
If peradventure you would hide a thing.
I saw the whole room, I and Marian there
Alone.
Alone? She threw her bonnet off,
Then sighing as 'twere sighing the last time,
Approached the bed, and drew a shawl away:
You could not peel a fruit you fear to bruise
More calmly and more carefully than so,–
Nor would you find within, a rosier flushed
Pomegranate–
There he lay, upon his back,
The yearling creature, warm and moist with life
To the bottom of his dimples,–to the ends
Of the lovely tumbled curls about his face;
For since he had been covered over-much
To keep him from the light glare, both his cheeks
Were hot and scarlet as the first live rose
The shepherd's heart blood ebbed away into,
The faster for his love. And love was here
As instant! in the pretty baby-mouth,
Shut close as if for dreaming that it sucked;
The little naked feet drawn up the way
Of nestled birdlings; everything so soft
And tender,–to the little holdfast hands,
Which, closing on a finger into sleep,
Had kept the mould of't.
While we stood there dumb,–
For oh, that it should take such innocence
To prove just guilt, I thought, and stood there dumb;
The light upon his eyelids pricked them wide,
And staring out at us with all their blue,
As half perplexed between the angelhood
He had been away to visit in his sleep,
And our most mortal presence,–gradually
He saw his mother's face, accepting it
In change for heaven itself, with such a smile
As might have well been learnt there,–never moved,
But smiled on, in a drowse of ecstasy,
So happy (half with her and half with heaven)
He could not have the trouble to be stirred,
But smiled and lay there. Like a rose, I said:
As red and still indeed as any rose,
That blows in all the silence of its leaves,
Content, in blowing, to fulfil its life.

She leaned above him (drinking him as wine)
In that extremity of love, 'twill pass
For agony or rapture, seeing that love
Includes the whole of nature, rounding it
To love . . no more,–since more can never be
Than just love. Self-forgot, cast out of self,
And drowning in the transport of the sight,
Her whole pale passionate face, mouth, forehead, eyes,
One gaze, she stood! then, slowly as he smiled,
She smiled too, slowly, smiling unaware,
And drawing from his countenance to hers
A fainter red, as if she watched a flame
And stood in it a-glow. 'How beautiful!'
Said she.
I answered, trying to be cold.
(Must sin have compensations, was my thought,
As if it were a holy thing like grief?
And is a woman to be fooled aside
From putting vice down, with that woman's toy,
A baby?)––'Ay! the child is well enough,'
I answered. 'If his mother's palms are clean,
They need be glad, of course, in clasping such:
But if not,–I would rather lay my hand,
Were I she,–on God's brazen altar-bars
Red-hot with burning sacrificial lambs,
Than touch the sacred curls of such a child.'

She plunged her fingers in his clustering locks,
As one who would not be afraid of fire;
And then, with indrawn steady utterance, said,–
'My lamb, my lamb! although, through such as thou,
The most unclean got courage and approach
To God, once,–now they cannot, even with men,
Find grace enough for pity and gentle words.'

'My Marian,' I made answer, grave and sad,
'The priest who stole a lamb to offer him,
Was still a thief. And if a woman steals
(Through God's own barrier-hedges of true love,
Which fence out licence in securing love)
A child like this, that smiles so in her face,
She is no mother, but a kidnapper,
And he's a dismal orphan . . not a son;
Whom all her kisses cannot feed so full
He will not miss herafter a pure home
To live in, a pure heart to lean against,
A pure good mother's name and memory
To hope by when the world grows thick and bad,
And he feels out for virtue.'
'Oh,' she smiled
With bitter patience, 'the child takes his chance,–
Not much worse off in being fatherless
Than I was fathered. He will say, belike,
His mother was the saddest creature born;
He'll say his mother lived so contrary
To joy, that even the kindest, seeing her,
Grew sometimes almost cruel: he'll not say
She flew contrarious in the face of God
With bat-wings of her vices. Stole my child,–
My flower of earth, my only flower on earth,
My sweet, my beauty!' . . Up she snatched the child,
And breaking on him in a storm of tears,
Drew out her long sobs from their shivering roots,
Until he took it for a game, and stretched
His feet, and flapped his eager arms like wings,
And crowed and gurgled through his infant laugh:
'Mine, mine,' she said; 'I have as sure a right
As any glad pround mother in the world,
Who sets her darling down to cut his teeth
Upon her church-ring. If she talks of law,
I talk of law! I claim my mother-dues
By law,–the law which now is paramount;
The common law, by which the poor and weak
Are trodden underfoot by vicious men,
And loathed for ever after by the good.
Let pass! I did not filch . . I found the child.'

'You found him, Marian?'
'Ay, I found him where
I found my curse,–in the gutter with my shame!
What have you, any of you, to say to that,
Who all are happy, and sit safe and high,
And never spoke before to arraign my right
To grief itself? What, what, . . being beaten down
By hoofs of maddened oxen into a ditch,
Half-dead, whole mangled . . when a girl, at last,
Breathes, sees . . and finds, there, bedded in her flesh,
Because of the overcoming shock perhaps,
Some coin of price! . . and when a good man comes
(That's God! the best men are not quite as good)
And says, 'I dropped the coin there: take it, you,
And keep it,–it shall pay you for the loss,–
You all put up your finger–'See the thief!
'Observe that precious thing she has come to filch!
'How bad those girls are!' Oh, my flower, my pet,
I dare forget I have you in my arms,
And fly off to be angry with the world,
And fright you, hurt you with my tempers, till
You double up your lip? Ah, that indeed
Is bad: a naughty mother!'
'You mistake,'
I interrupted. 'If I loved you not,
I should not, Marian, certainly be here.'

'Alas,' she said, 'you are so very good;
And yet I wish, indeed, you had never come
To make me sob until I vex the child.
It is not wholesome for these pleasure-plats
To be so early watered by our brine.
And then, who knows? he may not like me now
As well, perhaps, as ere he saw me fret,–
One's ugly fretting! he has eyes the same
As angels, but he cannot see as deep,
And so I've kept for ever in his sight
A sort of smile to please him, as you place
A green thing from the garden in a cup,
To make believe it grows there. Look, my sweet,
My cowslip-ball! we've done with that cross face,
And here's the face come back you used to like.
And, ah! he laughs! he likes me. Ah, Miss Leigh,
You're great and pure; but were you purer still,–
As if you had walked, we'll say, no otherwhere
Than up and down the new Jerusalem,
And held your trailing lutestring up yourself
From brushing the twelve stones, for fear of some
Small speck as little as a needle prick,
White stitched on white,–the child would keep to me,
Would choose his poor lost Marian, like me best,
And, though you stretched your arms, cry back and cling,
As we do, when God says it's time to die
And bids us go up higher. Leave us then;
We two are happy. Does he push me off?
He's satisfied with me, as I with him.'

'So soft to one, so hard to others! Nay.'
I cried, more angry that she melted me,
'We make henceforth a cushion of our faults
To sit and practise easy virtues on?
I thought a child was given to sanctify
A woman,–set her in the sight of all
The clear-eyed heavens, a chosen minister
To do their business and lead spirits up
The difficult blue heights. A woman lives,
Not bettered, quickened toward the truth and good
Through being a mother? . . . then she's none although
She damps her baby's cheeks by kissing them,
As we kill roses.'
'Kill! O Christ,' she said,
And turned her wild sad face from side to side
With most despairing wonder in it–'What,
What have you in your souls against me then,
All of you? am I wicked, do you think?
God knows me, trusts me with a child! but you,
You think me really wicked?'
'Complaisant,'
I answered softly, 'to a wrong you've done,
Because of certain profits,–which is wrong
Beyond the first wrong, Marian. When you left
The pure place and the noble heart, to take
The hand of a seducer' . .
'Whom? whose hand?
I took the hand of' . .
Springing up erect,
And lifting up the child at full arm's length,
As if to bear him like an oriflamme
Unconquerable to armies of reproach,–
'By him,' she said, 'my child's head and its curls,
By those blue eyes no woman born could dare
A perjury on, I make my mother's oath,
That if I left that Heart, to lighten it,
The blood of mine was still, except for grief!
No cleaner maid than I was, took a step
To a sadder cup,–no matron-mother now
Looks backwards to her early maidenhood
Through chaster pulses. I speak steadily:
And if I lie so, . . if, being fouled in will
And paltered with in soul by devil's lust,
I dare to bid this angel take my part, . .
Would God sit quiet, let us think, in heaven,
Nor strike me dumb with thunder? Yet I speak:
He clears me therefore. What, 'seduced' 's your word?
Do wolves seduce a wandering fawn in France?
Do eagles, who have pinched a lamb with claws,
Seduce it into carrion? So with me.
I was not ever as you say, seduced,
But simply murdered.'
There she paused, and sighed,
With such a sigh as drops from agony
To exhaustion,–sighing while she let the babe
Slide down upon her bosom from her arms,
And all her face's light fell after him,
Like a torch quenched in falling. Down she sank,
And sate upon the bedside with the child.
But I, convicted, broken utterly,
With woman's passion clung about her waist,
And kissed her hair and eyes,–'I have been wrong,
Sweet Marian' . . (weeping in a tender rage)
'Sweet holy Marian! And now, Marian, now,
I'll use your oath although my lips are hard,
And by the child, my Marian, by the child,
I'll swear his mother shall be innocent
Before my conscience, as in the open Book
Of Him who reads for judgment. Innocent,
My sister! let the night be ne'er so dark,
The moon is surely somewhere in the sky:
So surely is your whiteness to be found
Through all dark facts. But pardon, pardon me,
And smile a little, Marian,–for the child,
If not for me, my sister.'
The poor lip
Just motioned for the smile and let it go.
And then, with scarce a stirring of the mouth,
As if a statue spoke that could not breathe,
But spoke on calm between its marble lips,–
'I'm glad, I'm very glad you clear me so.
I should be sorry that you set me down
With harlots, or with even a better name
Which misbecomes his mother. For the rest
I am not on a level with your love,
Nor ever was, you know,–but now am worse,
Because that world of yours has dealt with me
As when the hard sea bites and chews a stone
And changes the first form of it. I've marked
A shore of pebbles bitten to one shape
From all the various life of madrepores;
And so, that little stone, called Marian Erle,
Picked up and dropped by you and another friend,
Was ground and tortured by the incessant sea
And bruised from what she was,–changed! death's a change,
And she, I said, was murdered; Marian's dead.
What can you do with people when they are dead,
But, if you are pious, sing a hymn and go;
Or, if you are tender, heave a sigh and go,
But go by all means,–and permit the grass
To keep its green feud up 'twixt them and you?
Then leave me,–let me rest. I'm dead, I say.
And if, to save the child from death as well,
The mother in me has survived the rest,
Why, that's God's miracle you must not tax,–
I'm not less dead for that: I'm nothing more
But just a mother. Only for the child,
I'm warm, and cold, and hungry, and afraid,
And smell the flowers a little, and see the sun,
And speak still, and am silent,–just for him!
I pray you therefore to mistake me not
And treat me haply, as I were alive;
For though you ran a pin into my soul,
I think it would not hurt nor trouble me.
Here's proof, dear lady,–in the market-place
But now, you promised me to say a word
About . . a friend, who once, long years ago,
Took God's place toward me, when He draws and loves
And does not thunder, . . whom at last I left,
As all of us leave God. You thought perhaps
I seemed to care for hearing of that friend?
Now, judge me! we have sate here half an hour
And talked together of the child and me,
And I not asked as much as 'What's the thing
You had to tell me of the friend . . the friend?'
He's sad, I think you said,–he's sick perhaps?
It's nought to Marian if he's sad or sick.
Another would have crawled beside your foot
And prayed your words out. Why, a beast, a dog,
A starved cat, if he had fed it once with milk,
Would show less hardness. But I'm dead, you see,
And that explains it.'
Poor, poor thing, she spoke
And shook her head, as white and calm as frost
On days too cold for raining any more,
But still with such a face, so much alive,
I could not choose but take it on my arm
And stroke the placid patience of its cheeks,–
Then told my story out, of Romney Leigh,
How, having lost her, sought her, missed her still,
He, broken-hearted for himself and her,
Had drawn the curtains of the world awhile
As if he had done with morning. There I stopped,
For when she gasped, and pressed me with her eyes,
'And now . . how is it with him? tell me now,'–
I felt the shame of compensated grief,
And chose my words with scruple–slowly stepped
Upon the slippery stones set here and there
Across the sliding water. 'Certainly,
As evening empties morning into night,
Another morning takes the evening up
With healthful, providential interchange;
And, though he thought still of her–'
'Yes, she knew,
She understood: she had supposed indeed
That, as one stops a hole upon a flute,
At which a new note comes and shapes the tune,
Excluding her would bring a worthier in,
And, long ere this, that Lady Waldemar
He loved so' . .
'Loved,' I started,–'loved her so!
Now tell me' . .
'I will tell you,' she replied:
'But since we're taking oaths, you'll promise first
That he in England, he, shall never learn
In what a dreadful trap his creature here,
Round whose unworthy neck he had meant to tie
The honourable ribbon of his name,
Fell unaware and came to butchery:
Because,–I know him,–as he takes to heart
The grief of every stranger, he's not like
To banish mine as far as I should choose
In wishing him most happy. Now he leaves
To think of me, perverse, who went my way,
Unkind, and left him,–but if once he knew . .
Ah, then, the sharp nail of my cruel wrong
Would fasten me for ever in his sight,
Like some poor curious bird, through each spread wing
Nailed high up over a fierce hunter's fire
To spoil the dinner of all tenderer folk
Come in by chance. Nay, since your Marian's dead,
You shall not hang her up, but dig a hole
And bury her in silence! ring no bells.'

I answered gaily, though my whole voice wept,
'We'll ring the joy-bells, not the funeral-bells,
Because we have her back, dead or alive.'

She never answered that, but shook her head;
Then low and calm, as one who, safe in heaven,
Shall tell a story of his lower life,
Unmoved by shame or anger,–so she spoke.
She told me she had loved upon her knees
As others pray, more perfectly absorbed
In the act and inspiration. She felt his,
For just his uses, not her own at all,–
His stool, to sit on or put up his foot,
His cup, to fill with wine or vinegar,
Whichever drink might please him at the chance,
For that should please her always: let him write
His name upon her . . it seemed natural;
It was most precious, standing on his shelf,
To wait until he chose to lift his hand.
Well, well,–I saw her then, and must have seen
How bright her life went floating on her love,
Like wicks the housewives send afloat on oil
Which feeds them to a flame that lasts the night.

To do good seemed so much his business,
That, having done it, she was fain to think,
Must fill up his capacity for joy.
At first she never mooted with herself
If he was happy, since he made her so,
Or if he loved her, being so much beloved:
Who thinks of asking if the sun is light,
Observing that it lightens? Who's so bold,
To question God of his felicity?
Still less. And thus she took for granted first,
What first of all she should have put to proof,
And sinned against him so, but only so.
'What could you hope,' she said, 'of such as she?
You take a kid you like, and turn it out
In some fair garden: though the creature's fond
And gentle, it will leap upon the beds
And break your tulips, bite your tender trees;
The wonder would be if such innocence
Spoiled less. A garden is no place for kids.'

And, by degrees, when he who had chosen her
Brought in his courteous and benignant friends
To spend their goodness on her, which she took
So very gladly, as a part of his,–
By slow degrees it broke on her slow sense,
That she, too, in that Eden of delight
Was out of place, and, like the silly kid,
Still did most mischief where she meant most love.
A thought enough to make a woman mad
(No beast in this, but she may well go mad),
That, saying, 'I am thine to love and use;'
May blow the plague in her protesting breath
To the very man for whom she claims to die,–
That, clinging round his neck, she pulls him down
And drowns him,–and that, lavishing her soul
She hales perdition on him. 'So, being mad,'
Said Marian . .
'Ah–who stirred such thoughts, you ask?
Whose fault it was, that she should have such thoughts?
None's fault, none's fault. The light comes, and we see:
But if it were not truly for our eyes,
There would be nothing seen, for all the light.
And so with Marian. If she saw at last,
The sense was in her,–Lady Waldemar
Had spoken all in vain else.'
'Oh my heart,
O prophet in my heart,' I cried aloud,
'Then Lady Waldemar spoke!'
'Did she speak,'
Mused Marian softly, 'or did she only sign?
Or did she put a word into her face
And look, and so impress you with the word?
Or leave it in the foldings of her gown,
Like rosemary smells, a movement will shake out
When no one's conscious? who shall say, or guess?
One thing alone was certain–from the day
The gracious lady paid a visit first,
She, Marian, saw things different,–felt distrust
Of all that sheltering roof of circumstance
Her hopes were building into with clay nests:
Her heart was restless, pacing up and down
And fluttering, like dumb creatures before storms,
Not knowing wherefore she was ill at ease.'

'And still the lady came,' said Marian Erle,
'Much oftener than he knew it, Mister Leigh.
She bade me never tell him she had come,
She liked to love me better than he knew,
So very kind was Lady Waldemar:
And every time she brought with her more light,
And every light made sorrow clearer . . Well,
Ah, well! we cannot give her blame for that;
'Twould be the same thing if an angel came,
Whose right should prove our wrong. And every time
The lady came, she looked more beautiful
And spoke more like a flute among green trees,
Until at last, as one, whose heart being sad
On hearing lovely music, suddenly
Dissolves in weeping, I brake out in tears
Before her . . asked her counsel . . 'had I erred
'In being too happy? would she set me straight?
'For she, being wise and good and born above
'The flats I had never climbed from, could perceive
'If such as I, might grow upon the hills;
'And whether such poor herb sufficed to grow,
'For Romney Leigh to break his fast upon't,–
'Or would he pine on such, or haply starve?'
She wrapt me in her generous arms at once,
And let me dream a moment how it feels
To have a real mother, like some girls:
But when I looked, her face was younger . . ay,
Youth's too bright not to be a little hard,
And beauty keeps itself still uppermost,
That's true!–Though Lady Waldemar was kind,
She hurt me, hurt, as if the morning-sun
Should smite us on the eyelids when we sleep,
And wake us up with headache. Ay, and soon
Was light enough to make my heart ache too:
She told me truths I asked for, . . 'twas my fault, . .
'That Romney could not love me, if he would,
'As men call loving; there are bloods that flow
'Together, like some rivers, and not mix,
'Through contraries of nature. He indeed
'Was set to wed me, to espouse my class,
'Act out a rash opinion,–and, once wed,
'So just a man and gentle, could not choose
'But make my life as smooth as marriage-ring,
'Bespeak me mildly, keep me a cheerful house,
'With servants, brooches, all the flowers I liked,
'And pretty dresses, silk the whole year round' . .
At which I stopped her,–'This for me. And now
'For him.'–She murmured,–truth grew difficult;
She owned, Twas plain a man like Romney Leigh
'Required a wife more level to himself.
'If day by day he had to bend his height
'To pick up sympathies, opinions, thoughts,
'And interchange the common talk of life
'Which helps a man to live as well as talk,
'His days were heavily taxed. Who buys a staff
'To fit the hand, that reaches but the knee?
'He'd feel it bitter to be forced to miss
'The perfect joy of married suited pairs,
'Who, bursting through the separating hedge
'Of personal dues with that sweet eglantine
'Of equal love, keep saying, 'So we think,
It strikes us,–that's our fancy.–When I asked
If earnest will, devoted love, employed
In youth like mine, would fail to raise me up,–
As two strong arms will always raise a child
To a fruit hung overhead? she sighed and sighed . .
'That could not be,' she feared. 'You take a pink,
'You dig about its roots and water it,
'And so improve it to a garden-pink,
'But will not change it to a heliotrope,
'The kind remains. And then, the harder truth–
'This Romney Leigh, so rash to leap a pale,
'So bold for conscience, quick for martyrdom,
'Would suffer steadily and never flinch,
'But suffer surely and keenly, when his class
'Turned shoulder on him for a shameful match,
'And set him up as nine-pin in their talk
'To bowl him down with jestings.'–There, she paused;
And when I used the pause in doubting that
We wronged him after all in what we feared–
'Suppose such things should never touch him, more
'In his high conscience, (if the things should be,)
'Than, when the queen sits in an upper room
'The horses in the street can spatter her!'–
A moment, hope came,–but the lady closed
That door and nicked the lock and shut it out,
Observing wisely that 'the tender heart
'Which made him over-soft to a lower class,
'Could scarcely fail to make him sensitive
'To a higher,–how they thought and what they felt.'

'Alas, alas!' said Marian, rocking slow
The pretty baby who was near asleep,
The eyelids creeping over the blue balls,–
'She made it clear, too clear–I saw the whole!
And yet who knows if I had seen my way
Straight out of it, by looking, though 'twas clear,
Unless the generous lady, 'ware of this,
Had set her own house all a-fire for me,
To light me forwards? Leaning on my face
Her heavy agate eyes which crushed my will,
She told me tenderly, (as when men come
To a bedside to tell people they must die)
'She knew of knowledge,–aye, of knowledge, knew,
'That Romney Leigh had loved her formerly.
'And she loved him, she might say, now the chance
'Was past . . but that, of course, he never guessed,–
'For something came between them . . something thin
As a cobweb . . catching every fly of doubt
'To hold it buzzing at the window-pane
'And help to dim the daylight. Ah, man's pride
'Or woman's–which is greatest? most averse
'To brushing cobwebs? Well, but she and he
'Remained fast friends; it seemed not more than so,
'Because he had bound his hands and could not stir:
'An honorable man, if somewhat rash;
'And she, not even for Romney, would she spill
'A blot . . as little even as a tear . .
'Upon his marriage-contract,–not to gain
'A better joy for two than came by that!
'For, though I stood between her heart and heaven,
'She loved me wholly.
Did I laugh or curse?
I think I sat there silent, hearing all,
Ay, hearing double,–Marian's tale, at once,
And Romney's marriage vow, 'I'll keep to THEE,'
Which means that woman-serpent. Is it time
For church now?
'Lady Waldemar spoke more,'
Continued Marian, 'but, as when a soul
Will pass out through the sweetness of a song
Beyond it, voyaging the uphill road,–
Even so mine wandered from the things I heard,
To those I suffered. It was afterward
I shaped the resolution to the act.
For many hours we talked. What need to talk?
The fate was clear and close; it touched my eyes;
But still the generous lady tried to keep
The case afloat, and would not let it go,
And argued, struggled upon Marian's side,
Which was not Romney's! though she little knew
What ugly monster would take up the end,–
What griping death within the drowning death
Was ready to complete my sum of death.'
I thought,–Perhaps he's sliding now the ring
Upon that woman's finger . .
She went on:
'The lady, failing to prevail her way,
Upgathered my torn wishes from the ground
And pieced them with her strong benevolence;
And, as I thought I could breathe freer air
Away from England, going without pause,
Without farewell,–just breaking with a jerk
The blossomed offshoot from my thorny life,–
She promised kindly to provide the means,
With instant passage to the colonies
And full protection, would commit me straight
'To one who once had been her waiting-maid
'And had the customs of the world, intent
'On changing England for Australia
'Herself, to carry out her fortune so.'
For which I thanked the Lady Waldemar,
As men upon their death-beds thank last friends
Who lay the pillow straight: it is not much,
And yet 'tis all of which they are capable,
This lying smoothly in a bed to die.
And so, 'twas fixed;–and so, from day to day,
The woman named, came in to visit me.'

Just then the girl stopped speaking,–sate erect,
And stared at me as if I had been a ghost,
(Perhaps I looked as white as any ghost),
With large-eyed horror. 'Does God make,' she said,
'All sorts of creatures really, do you think?
Or is it that the Devil slavers them
So excellently, that we come to doubt
Who's stronger, He who makes, or he who mars?
I never liked the woman's face or voice,
Or ways: it made me blush to look at her;
It made me tremble if she touched my hand;
And when she spoke a fondling word I shrank,
As if one hated me, who had power to hurt;
And, every time she came, my veins ran cold,
As somebody were walking on my grave.
At last I spoke to Lady Waldemar:
'Could such an one be good to trust?' I asked.
Whereat the lady stroked my cheek and laughed
Her silver-laugh (one must be born to laugh,
To put such music in it) 'Foolish girl,
'Your scattered wits are gathering wool beyond
'The sheep-walk reaches!–leave the thing to me.'
And therefore, half in trust, and half in scorn
That I had heart still for another fear
In such a safe despair, I left the thing.

'The rest is short. I was obedient:
I wrote my letter which delivered him
From Marian to his own prosperities,
And followed that bad guide. The lady?–hush,–
I never blame the lady. Ladies who
Sit high, however willing to look down,
Will scarce see lower than their dainty feet;
And Lady Waldemar saw less than I
With what a Devil's daughter I went forth
The swine's road, headlong over a precipice,
In such a curl of hell-foam caught and choked,
No shriek of soul in anguish could pierce through
To fetch some help. They say there's help in heaven
For all such cries. But if one cries from hell. .
What then?–the heavens are deaf upon that side.
A woman . . hear me,–let me make it plain,–
A woman . . not a monster . . both her breasts
Made right to suckle babes . . she took me off,
A woman also, young and ignorant,
And heavy with my grief, my two poor eyes
Near washed away with weeping, till the trees,
The blessed unaccustomed trees and fields,
Ran either side the train like stranger dogs
Unworthy of any notice,–took me off,
So dull, so blind, and only half alive,
Not seeing by what road, nor by what ship,
Nor toward what place, nor to what end of all.–
Men carry a corpse thus,–past the doorway, past
The garden-gate, the children's playground, up
The green lane,–then they leave it in the pit,
To sleep and find corruption, cheek to cheek
With him who stinks since Friday.
'But suppose;
To go down with one's soul into the grave,–
To go down half dead, half alive, I say,
And wake up with corruption, . . cheek to cheek
With him who stinks since Friday! There it is,
And that's the horror of't, Miss Leigh.
'You feel?
You understand?–no, do not look at me,
But understand. The blank, blind, weary way,
Which led . . where'er it led . . away at least;
The shifted ship . . to Sydney or to France . .
Still bound, wherever else, to another land;
The swooning sickness on the dismal sea,
The foreign shore, the shameful house, the night,
The feeble blood, the heavy-headed grief, . .
No need to bring their damnable drugged cup,
And yet they brought it! Hell's so prodigal
Of devil's gifts . . hunts liberally in packs,
Will kill no poor small creature of the wilds
But fifty red wide throats must smoke at it,
As HIS at me . . when waking up at last . .
I told you that I waked up in the grave.

'Enough so!–it is plain enough so. True,
We wretches cannot tell out all our wrong,
Without offence to decent happy folk.
I know that we must scrupulously hint
With half-words, delicate reserves, the thing
Which no one scrupled we should feel in full.
Let pass the rest, then; only leave my oath
Upon this sleeping child,–man's violence,
Not man's seduction, made me what I am,
As lost as . . I told him I should be lost.
When mothers fail us, can we help ourselves?
That's fatal!–And you call it being lost,
That down came next day's noon and caught me there,
Half gibbering and half raving on the floor,
And wondering what had happened up in heaven,
That suns should dare to shine when God Himself
Was certainly abolished.
'I was mad,–
How many weeks, I know not,–many weeks.
I think they let me go, when I was mad,
They feared my eyes and loosed me, as boys might
A mad dog which they had tortured. Up and down
I went, by road and village, over tracts
Of open foreign country, large and strange,
Crossed everywhere by long thin poplar-lines
Like fingers of some ghastly skeleton hand
Through sunlight and through moonlight evermore
Pushed out from hell itself to pluck me back,
And resolute to get me, slow and sure;
While every roadside Christ upon his cross
Hung reddening through his gory wounds at me,
And shook his nails in anger, and came down
To follow a mile after, wading up
The low vines and green wheat, crying 'Take the girl!
She's none of mine from henceforth.' Then, I knew,
(But this is somewhat dimmer than the rest)
The charitable peasants gave me bread
And leave to sleep in straw: and twice they tied,
At parting, Mary's image round my neck–
How heavy it seemed! as heavy as a stone;
A woman has been strangled with less weight:
I threw it in a ditch to keep it clean
And ease my breath a little, when none looked;
I did not need such safeguards:–brutal men
Stopped short, Miss Leigh, in insult, when they had seen
My face,–I must have had an awful look.
And so I lived: the weeks passed on,–I lived.
'Twas living my old tramp-life o'er again,
But, this time, in a dream, and hunted round
By some prodigious Dream-fear at my back,
Which ended, yet: my brain cleared presently,
And there I sate, one evening, by the road,
I, Marian Erle, myself, alone, undone,
Facing a sunset low upon the flats,
As if it were the finish of all time,–
The great red stone upon my sepulchre,
Which angels were too weak to roll away.

poem by from Aurora Leigh (1856)Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Thurso’s Landing

I
The coast-road was being straightened and repaired again,
A group of men labored at the steep curve
Where it falls from the north to Mill Creek. They scattered and hid
Behind cut banks, except one blond young man
Who stooped over the rock and strolled away smiling
As if he shared a secret joke with the dynamite;
It waited until he had passed back of a boulder,
Then split its rock cage; a yellowish torrent
Of fragments rose up the air and the echoes bumped
From mountain to mountain. The men returned slowly
And took up their dropped tools, while a banner of dust
Waved over the gorge on the northwest wind, very high
Above the heads of the forest.
Some distance west of the road,
On the promontory above the triangle
Of glittering ocean that fills the gorge-mouth,
A woman and a lame man from the farm below
Had been watching, and turned to go down the hill. The young
woman looked back,
Widening her violet eyes under the shade of her hand. 'I think
they'll blast again in a minute.'
And the man: 'I wish they'd let the poor old road be. I don't
like improvements.' 'Why not?' 'They bring in the world;
We're well without it.' His lameness gave him some look of age
but he was young too; tall and thin-faced,
With a high wavering nose. 'Isn't he amusing,' she said, 'that
boy Rick Armstrong, the dynamite man,
How slowly he walks away after he lights the fuse. He loves to
show off. Reave likes him, too,'
She added; and they clambered down the path in the rock-face,
little dark specks
Between the great headland rock and the bright blue sea.

II
The road-workers had made their camp
North of this headland, where the sea-cliff was broken down and
sloped to a cove. The violet-eyed woman's husband,
Reave Thurso, rode down the slope to the camp in the gorgeous
autumn sundown, his hired man Johnny Luna
Riding behind him. The road-men had just quit work and four
or five were bathing in the purple surf-edge,
The others talked by the tents; blue smoke fragrant with food
and oak-wood drifted from the cabin stove-pipe
And slowly went fainting up the vast hill.
Thurso drew rein by
a group of men at a tent door
And frowned at them without speaking, square-shouldered and
heavy-jawed, too heavy with strength for so young a man,
He chose one of the men with his eyes. 'You're Danny Woodruff,
aren't you, that drives the tractor?' Who smiled
And answered 'Maybe. What then?' 'Why, nothing, except you
broke my fence and you've got to fix it.' 'You don't say,'
He said laughing. 'Did somebody break your fence? Well, that's
too bad.' 'My man here saw you do it.
He warned you out of the field.' 'Oh, was I warned?' He turned
to Luna: 'What did I say to you, cowboy?'
'You say, you say,' Luna's dark face flushed black, 'you say
'Go to hell.'
' Woodruff gravely, to Thurso:
'That's what I say.' The farmer had a whip in his hand, a hotter
man might have struck, but he carefully
Hung it on the saddle-horn by the thong at the butt, dismounted,
and said, 'You'll fix it though.' He was somewhat
Short-coupled, but so broad in the chest and throat, and obviously
all oak, that Woodruff recoiled a step,
Saying 'If you've got a claim for damages, take it to the county.'
'I'm taking it nearer hand.
You'll fix the fence.' Woodruffs companions
Began to come in between, and one said 'Wait for him
Until he fixes it, your cows will be down the road.'
Thurso shook his head slightly and bored forward
Toward his one object; who felt the persecuting
Pale eyes under dark brows dazzle resistance.
He was glad the bathers came up the shore, to ask
What the dispute was, their presence released his mind
A moment from the obstinate eyes. The blithe young firer
Of dynamite blasts, Rick Armstrong, came in foremost,
Naked and very beautiful, all his blond body
Gleaming from the sea; he'd been one or two evenings
A guest at the farmhouse, and now took Thurso's part
So gracefully that the tractor-driver, already
Unnerved by that leaden doggedness, was glad to yield.
He'd mend the fence in the morning: Oh, sure, he wanted
To do the right thing: but Thurso's manner
Had put him off.
The group dissolved apart, having made for
a moment its unconscious beauty
In the vast landscape above the ocean in the colored evening;
the naked bodies of the young bathers
Polished with light, against the brown and blue denim core of
the rest; and the ponies, one brown, one piebald,
Compacted into the group, the Spanish-Indian horseman dark
bronze above them, under broad red
Heavens leaning to the lonely mountain.

III
In the moonlight two hours before Sunday dawn
Rick Armstrong went on foot over the hill
Toward the farmhouse in the deep gorge, where it was dark,
And he smelled the stream. Thurso had invited him
To go deer-hunting with them, seeing lights in the house
He hurried down, not to make his friends wait.
He passed under a lonely noise in the sky
And wondered at it, and remembered the great cable
That spanned the gorge from the hill, with a rusted iron skip
Hanging from it like a stuck black moon; relics,
With other engines on the headland, of ancient lime-kilns
High up the canyon, from which they shot the lime
To the promontory along the airy cable-way
To be shipped by sea. The works had failed; the iron skip
Stuck on its rusted pulleys would never move again
Until it fell, but to make a desolate creaking
In the mountain east-wind that poured down the gorge
Every clear night. He looked for it and could not find it
Against the white sky, but stumbled over a root
And hurried down to the house.
There were layered smells of
horses and leather
About the porch; the door stood half open, in the yellow slot
Of lamplight appeared two faces, Johnny Luna's dark hollow
Egyptian profile and Helen Thurso's
Very white beyond, her wide-parted violet eyes looked black
and her lips moved. Her husband's wide chest
Eclipsed the doorway. 'Here you are. I was afraid you wouldn't
wake up. Come in,' Thurso said,
'Coffee and bacon, it will be long to lunch.' A fourth in the
room was the lame man, Reave Thurso's brother,
Who said at parting, 'Take care of Helen, won't you, Reave,
Don't tire her out.' He was not of the party but had risen to see
them off. She answered from the porch, laughing,
The light from the door gilding her cheek, 'I'll not be the tired
one, Mark, by evening. Pity the others.'
'Let the men do the shooting, Helen, spare yourself. Killing's
against your nature, it would hurt with unhappy thought
Some later time.' 'Ah,' she answered, 'not so gentle as you
think. Good-bye, brother.'
They mounted the drooping horses and rode up canyon
Between black trees, under that lonely creaking in the sky, and
turned southward
Along the coast-road to enter a darker canyon.
The horses jerked at the bridle-hands,
Nosing out a way for the stammering hooves
Along the rocks of a ribbed creek-bed; thence a path upward
To the height of a ridge; in that clear the red moonset
Appeared between murky hills, like a burning ship
On the world's verge.
Thurso and Luna stealthily dismounted.
They stole two ways down the starry-glimmering slope like
assassins, above the black fur of forest, and vanished
In the shifty gray. The two others remained, Armstrong looked
wistfully
Toward his companion through the high reddish gloom, and
saw the swell of her breast and droop of her throat
Darkling against the low moon-scarred west. She whispered and
said, 'The poor thing may drive up hill toward us:
And I'll not fire, do you want to trade rifles with me? The old
one that Reave has lent you is little use.'
He answered, 'I guess one gun's as good as another, you can't
see the bead, you can't see the notch.' 'Oh: well.
The light will grow.' They were silent a time, sitting and holding
the horses, the red moon on the sea-line
Suddenly foundered; still the east had nothing.
'We'd better take ourselves
Out of the sky, and tie up the horses.' She began to move, down
the way lately climbed, the cowboy's
Pony trailing behind her, Armstrong led Reave's. He saw her
white shirt below him gleam in the starlight
Like bare shoulders above the shadow. They unbridled the horses
and tethered them to buckthorn bushes, and went back
Into the sky; but lay close against the ridge to be hidden, for a
cloud whitened. Orion and Sirius
Stood southward in the mid heaven, and Armstrong said,
'They're strange at dawn, see, they're not autumn stars,
They belong to last March.' 'Maybe next March,' she answered
Without looking. 'Tell me how you've charmed Reave
To make him love you? He never has cared for a friend before,
Cold and lonely by nature. He seems to love you.'
'Why: nothing. If he lacks friends perhaps it's only
Because this country has been too vacant for him
To make choices from.' 'No,' she answered, 'he's cold,
And all alone in himself. Well. His goodness is strength.
He's never set his mind on anything yet
But got it with a strong hand. His brother, you met this morning,
Is very different, a weak man of course,
But kindly and full of pity toward every creature, but really at heart
As cold as Reave. I never loved hunting, and he's
Persuaded me to hate it. Let him persuade
Reave if he could!' Armstrong said, 'Why did you come then?'
'Ah? To watch things be killed.'

They heard the wind
Flustering below, and felt the sallow increase of clearness
On grass-blades, and the girl's face, and the far sea,
A light of visions, faint and a virgin. One rifle-shot
Snapped the still dawn; Armstrong cradled his gun
But nothing came up the hill. The cloud-line eastward
Suddenly flushed with rose-color flame, and standing
Rays of transparent purple shadow appeared
Behind the fired fleece. Helen Thurso sighed and stood up,
'Let's see if we can't lead one of the horses down,
Now light has come, to bring up the corpse.' 'The . . . for
what?'
'The meat,' she said impatiently, 'the killed thing. It's a hard
climb.'
'You think they got it?' 'Couldn't fail; but other years
They've taken two in that trap.' Nearly straight down,
At the edge of the wood, in the pool of blue shade in the cleft
hill,
The two men were seen, one burdened, like mites in a bowl; and
Helen with a kind of triumph: 'Look down there:
What size Reave Thurso is really: one of those little dirty black
ants that come to dead things could carry him
With the deer added.'

They drove a horse down the headlong
pitch; the sun came up like a man shouting
While they climbed back, then Helen halted for breath. Thurso
tightened the lashings under the saddle,
That held his booty on the pony's back, and said to Armstrong,
'That tree that stands alone on the spur,
It looks like a match: its trunk's twenty feet through. The biggest
redwoods left on the coast are there,
The lumbermen couldn't reach them.'
Johnny Luna, when they
reached the ridge,
Was sent home leading his horse, with the buck mounted. The
others rode east, the two men ahead, and Helen
Regarding their heads and shoulders against the sharp sky or
the sides of hills; they left the redwood canyons
And rode a long while among interminable gray ranges bushed
on the north with oak and lupin;
Farther they wandered among flayed bison-shaped hills, and rode
at noon under sparse bull-pines,
And so returned, having seen no life at all
Except high up the sun the black vultures,
Some hawks hunting the gorges, and a far coyote.
In the afternoon, nearing toward home, it was Helen
Who saw five deer strung on a ridge. 'Oh. Look.
So I've betrayed them,' she said bitterly. Reave said to Armstrong,
'Your shot: the buck to the north,' and while he spoke fired, but
the other
Had raised his cheek from the rifle-stock to look
At Helen angrily laughing, her face brilliant
In the hard sunlight, with lakes of deep shade
Under the brows and the chin; when he looked back
The ridge was cleared. 'Why didn't you let him have it?
You'd such an easy shot,' Thurso said,
'Against the cloud, mine was among the bushes,
I saw him fall and roll over.' 'Be very happy,'
Helen said. 'He was hard hit, for he ran down hill.
That makes you shine.'
They labored across the gorge
And climbed up to the ridge. A spongy scarlet thing
Was found at the foot of a green oak-bush and Helen
Came and saw it. 'He was hit in the lung,' Reave said,
'Coughed up a froth of blood and ran down hill.
I have to get him.' 'It looks like a red toadstool:
Red scum on rotten wood. Does it make you sick?
Not a bit: it makes you happy.' 'Why do you come hunting, Helen,
If you hate hunting? Keep still at least. As for being happy:
Look where I have to go down.' He showed her the foamy spots
of blood, on the earth and the small leaves,
Going down a steep thicket that seemed impassable. She answered,
'Let the poor thing die in peace.' 'It would seem a pity,'
He answered, 'to let him suffer; besides the waste.' Armstrong
looked down and said, 'He'll be in the creek-bed.
I'll go down there and work up the gulch, if you go down here.'
'You'd never find him without the blood-trail,'
Reave answered. Then Helen suddenly went back and touched
the foam of blood on the ground, dipping four fingers,
And returned and said, 'I was afraid to do it, so I did it. Now
I'm no better than you. Don't go down.
Please, Reave. Let's hurry and go home. I'm tired.' Reave said
to Armstrong, 'That would be best, if you'd take her home.
It's only a mile and a half, help her with the horses, won't you?
Take mine too. I'll hang the buck in a tree
Near where I find him, and come fetch him to-morrow.' 'If you
want,' Armstrong said. Helen clenched
Her blood-tipped fingers and felt them stick to the palm. 'All
right. I'll do
What you've chosen,' she said with smoothed lips. 'Mark wins,
he said I'd be tired. But he was wrong,'
Opening her hand, regarding the red-lined nails,
'To think me all milk and kindness.' Thurso went down
The thicket; and Helen: 'Nothing could turn him back.
He's never set his mind on anything yet
But snuffled like a bloodhound to the bitter end.' They heard
the branches
Breaking below, and returned by the open slope
To the horses across the creek.
They rode softly
Down the canyon; Helen said, 'I'm not tired.
Do you ever think about death? I've seen you play with it,
Strolling away while the fuse fizzed in the rock.'
'Hell no, that was all settled when they made the hills.'
'Did you notice how high he held his bright head
And the branched horns, keen with happiness?
Nothing told him
That all would break in a moment and the blood choke his throat.
I hope that poor stag
Had many loves in his life.' He looked curiously,
A little moved, at her face; too pale, like a white flame
That has form but no brilliance in the light of day;
The wide violet eyes hollowed with points of craving darkness
Under the long dark lashes; and the charcoal mark
Across her slightly hollowed cheek, where a twig had crossed it
When they rode the burnt hillside. He said: 'I ought
ToVe gone with Reave, it doesn't seem fair to let him
Sweat alone in that jungle.' 'He enjoys toil.
You don't know him yet. Give him a blood-trail to follow,
That's all he wants for Christmas. What he's got's nothing to him,
His game's the getting. But slow, slow: be hours yet.
From here we can choose ways, and though it's a good deal longer,
There's daylight left, we'll go by the head of the hill: up there
you can see the whole coast
And a thousand hills. Look,' she said laughing,
'What the crooked bushes have done,' showing her light shirt
Torn at the breast, and a long red scratch
Under the bright smooth breast. He felt in his mind
A moving dizziness, and shifted his body backward
From the saddle-horn.

A curl of sea-cloud stood on the head of the hill
Like a wave breaking against the wind; but when they reached
it, windows of clearness in it were passing
From the northwest, through which the mountain sea-wall looked
abrupt as dreams, from Lobos like a hand on the sea
To the offshore giant at Point Sur southward. Straight down
through the coursing mists like a crack in the mountain sea-root,
Mill Creek Canyon, like a crack in the naked root of a dead pine
when the bark peels off. The bottom
Of the fissure was black with redwood, and lower
Green with alders; between the black and the green the painted
roof of the farmhouse, like a dropped seed,
Thurso's house, like a grain of corn in the crack of a plank, where
the hens can't reach it.

Cloud steered between;
Helen Thurso said 'What if the rut is a rock canyon,
Look how Fm stuck in a rut: do I have to live there?
And Reave's old mother's like a white-headed hawk.
Your job here's nearly finished, where will you go?'
'I haven't thought: all places are like each other:
Maybe Nevada in the spring.
There's work all over.' 'I,' she said, trembling; 'it seems cold
up here.
I hate the sea-fog. Now let's look east.' They had tied
The horses to the highest bushes on the north slope,
And walked on the open dome of the hill, they crossed it
And the east was clear; the beautiful desolate inhuman range
beyond range of summits all seen at once,
Dry bright and quiet and their huge blue shadows. Helen said
faintly,
'He's down there somewhere. It's that deer's blood.
It made me drunk, it was too red I thought.
Life is so tiny little, and if it shoots
Into the darkness without ever once flashing?'
They turned back to the dome-top under the cloud.
'You're tired, Helen.' 'I'll not let the days of my life
Hang like a string of naughts between two nothings.
Wear a necklace of round zeros for pearls;
I'm not made that way. Think what you please. Shall we go down
now?'
'The cloud has come all around us,' he answered, seeing the distilled
drops of the cloud like seed-pearls
Hung in her hair and on the dark lashes. He turned to go down
to the horses, she said 'I have seen dawn with you,
The red moonset and white dawn,
And starlight on the mountain, and noon on burnt hills where
there was no shadow but a vulture's, and that stag's blood:
I've lived with you
A long day like a lifetime, at last I've drawn something
In the string of blanks.' She lifted her face against his shoulder
and said 'Good-bye.' He said 'I'm Reave's friend,'
And kissed her good-bye seeing she desired it, her breasts burrowed
against him and friendship forgot his mind,
With such brief wooing they stirred the deep wells of pleasure.

She lay but half quieted, still hotly longing,
Her eyes morbidly shuttered like the sleep of fever showed
threads of the white and faint arcs of the crystalline
Violet irises, barred across by the strong dark lashes; the night
of the lids covered the pupils,
Behind them, and under the thick brown hair and under the
cunning sutures of the hollow bone the nerve-cells
With locking fibrils made their own world and light, the multitude
of small rayed animals of one descent.
That make one mind, imagined a mountain
Higher than the scope of nature, predominant over all these edges
of the earth, on its head a sacrifice
Half naked, all flaming, her hair blown like a fire through the
level skies; for she had to believe this passion
Not the wild heat of nature, but the superstitiously worshipped
spirit of love, that is thought to burn
All its acts righteous.
While Helen adorned the deed with the
dream it needed, her lover meanwhile
Explored with hands and eyes the moulded smoothness through
the open clothing, reviving his spent desire
Until they were joined in longer-lasting delight; her nerve-cells
intermitted their human dream;
The happy automatism of life, inhuman as the sucking heart of
the whirlwind, usurped the whole person,
Aping pain, crying out and writhing like torture.

They rose and
went down to the horses;
The light had changed in the sea-cloud, the sun must be near
setting. When they were halfway down the mountain
The whole cloud began to glow with color like a huge rose, a
forest of transparent pale crimson petals
Blowing all about them; slowly the glory
Flared up the slope and faded in the high air.

IV
They rode
through pale twilight
And whispered at the farmhouse door inarticulate leave-takings.
Helen went in; Armstrong unsaddled the horses
Ahd walked heavily up canyon and crossed the hill.
Helen said, 'Reave went after a wounded deer
And sent me home. He hasn't come home yet?'
Reave's mother said 'We've not seen him,' steadily watching her
Across the lamplight with eyes like an old hawk's,
Red-brown and indomitable, and tired. But if she was hawk-like
As Helen fancied, it was not in the snatching look
But the alienation and tamelessness and sullied splendor
Of a crippled hawk in a cage. She was worn at fifty
To thin old age; the attritions of time and toil and arthritis
That wear old women to likeness had whetted this one
To difference, as if they had bitten on a bronze hawk
Under the eroded flesh.
Helen avoided her eyes
And said to the other in the room, 'Ah, Mark, you guessed right.
I'm tired to death, must creep up to bed now.' The old woman:
'So you came home alone? That young Armstrong
Stayed with Reave.' Helen faltered an instant and said,
'No, for Reave sent him with me, wishing his horse
To be taken home. Mr. Armstrong stopped
By the corral, he was unsaddling the horses I think,
But I was too tired to help him. My rifle, Mark,
Is clean: I minded your words.'

An hour later the heavy tread
of a man was heard on the steps
And the fall of a fleshy bulk by the door, crossed by the click of
hooves or antlers, and Reave came in,
His shirt blood-stained on the breast and shoulders. 'I got him,'
he said. 'It seemed for awhile I'd be out all night.
By luck I found him, at twilight in a buckeye bush. Where's
Helen, gone to bed?' 'She seemed flurried with thoughts,'
His mother answered, and going to the door that led to the
kitchen she called, 'Olvidia,'
Bring in the supper.' 'Well, yes,' Reave said. 'I must first hang
up the carcass and wash my hands.' 'Olvidia,'
His mother called to the kitchen, 'will you tell Johnny: is Johnny
there? Tell him to fetch the meat
From the door-step and hang it up with the other.' Mark said,
'How far, Reave, did you carry it?' 'Two miles or so.
Rough country at first; I held it in front of me to butt the brush
with.' 'Why, what does it weigh?' 'Oh,' he said, 'a young
buck.
About Helen's weight.' 'You are strong,' his mother said, 'that's
good: but a fool.' 'Well, mother, I might have hung it
In a tree and gone up with a horse to-morrow; I shouldered it
to save time.'

Mark, enviously:
'You've seen many green canyons and the clouds on a hundred
hills.
My mind has better mountains than these in it,
And bloodless ones.' The dark Spanish-Indian woman
Olvidia took Reave's empty plate and the dish,
And Mrs. Thurso said, 'Reave, you've big arms,
And ribs like a rain-barrel, what do they amount to
If the mind inside is a baby? Our white-face bull's
Bigger and wiser.' 'What have I done?' 'I'll never say
Your young Helen's worth keeping, but while you have her
Don't turn her out to pasture on the mountain
With the yellow-haired young man. Those heavy blue eyes
Came home all enriched.' Reave laughed and Mark said bitterly,
'Mother, that's mean.
You know her too well for that. Helen is as clear as the crystal
sky, don't breathe on her.' 'You,' she answered fondly.
Reave smiled, 'I trust Rick Armstrong as I do my own hand.'
'It shames my time of life,'
She answered, 'to have milky-new sons. What has he done for you
To be your angel?' 'Why,' he said, 'I like him.' 'That's generous,
And rare in you. How old is he?' 'My age. Twenty-four.'
'Oh, that's a better reason to trust him.' 'Hm?' 'You're the
same age.'
'That's no reason.' 'No,' she answered.

V
Toward noon the next day
Helen was ironing linen by the kitchen stove,
A gun-shot was heard quite near the house, she dropped the iron
And ran outdoors and met Mark. 'What was that shot?' 'Don't
go up there, Helen.' 'Why not, why not,' she stammered,
'Why not,' the flush of the stove-heat graying on her cheek.
'Reave has put poor old Bones out of pain.' 'Oh, that!'
Laughing and trembling, 'Your funeral face. I thought something
had happened to someone. Let the old dog sleep.'
She went up hill to the screen of seawind-stunted laurel and oak,
where Reave was already spading
Dust into the gape of a small grave. 'You've done for poor old
Bones, have you? You knew I loved him,
So you took him off.' 'A pity you came just now, Helen. He
died in a moment. If we'd used this mercy
Two or three months ago we'd have saved pain.' She answered,
quivering with anger, 'You do it on the sly
And call it mercy. Ah, killing's your pleasure, your secret vice.'
'I'll wish you sunnier pleasures: and a little
Sense in your head: he was made of miseries: you've seen him plead
To be helped, and wonder at us when the pain stayed.
I've helped him now.' 'Will you do as much for yourself
When life dirties and darkens? Your father did.'
'No, I will not,' he said, shovelling the dust.
'What's that said for? For spite?' 'No, Reave.
I was wondering. For I think it's reasonable.
When the flower and fruit are gone, nothing but sour rind,
Why suck the shell? I think your father was right.'
'Drop a little silence on him,' Reave answered.
'We may help out the beasts, but a man mustn't be beaten.
That was a little too easy, to pop himself off because he went broke.
I was ten years old, I tried not to despise the soft stuff
That ran away to the dark from a touch of trouble:
Because the lime-kilns failed and the lumber mill
Ran out of redwood.
My mother took up his ruins and made a farm;
She wouldn't run away, to death or charity. Mark and I helped.
We lost most of the land but we saved enough.'
'Think of one man owning so many canyons:
Sovranes, Granite,' she counted on her fingers, 'Garapatas, Palo
Colorado,
Rocky Creek, and this Mill Creek.' 'Oh, that was nothing, the
land was worth nothing
In those days, only for lime and redwood.' She answered,
'You needn't despise him, Reave. My dad never owned anything.
While I worked in a laundry and while I crated fruit
He ate my wages and lived as long as he could
And died crying.' 'We're proud of our fathers, hm?
Well, he was sick a long time,' Reave said, patting
The back of the spade on the filled grave; 'but courage might live
While the lungs rot. I think it might. You never
Saw him again, did you?' 'How saw him?' 'We used to see mine
Often in the evenings.' 'What do you mean, Reave?'
'Why: in the evenings.
Coming back to stare at his unfinished things.
Mother still often sees him.' Helen's face brightening
With happy interest, 'Oh where?' she said. 'On the paths;
Looking up at that thing, with his mouth open.'
Reave waved his hand toward the great brown iron skip
Hanging on its cable in the canyon sky,
That used to carry the lime from the hill, but now
Stuck on dead pulleys in the sky. 'It ought to be taken down
Before it falls. I’ll do it when we've done the plowing.'
Helen said, 'Does he ever speak?' 'Too ashamed of himself.
I spoke to him once:
I was carrying firewood into the house, my arms were full. He
worked a smile on his face and pointed
At the trolley up there.' 'Do you really believe,' she said, 'that
your father's ghost?' 'Certainly not. Some stain
Stagnates here in the hollow canyon air, or sticks in our minds.
How could too weak to live
Show after it died?' 'I knew,' she answered, blanching again
with capricious anger, 'you'd no mercy in you,
But only sudden judgment for any weak thing;
And neither loving nor passionate; dull, cold and scornful. I used
to keep a gay heart in my worst days
And laugh a little: how can I live
Where nothing except poor Mark is even half human, you like
a stone, hard and joyless, dark inside,
And your mother like an old hawk, and even dirty Olvidia and
Johnny Luna, dark and hollow
As the hearts of jugs. The dog here in the ground Oh but how
carefully you scrape the blood-lake
Had loving brown eyes: so you killed him: he was sometimes
joyful: it wouldn't do. You killed him for that.' He answered,
Staring, 'Were you born a fool? What's the matter, Helen?'
'If I had to stay here
I'd turn stone too: cold and dark: I'd give a dollar
For a mirror now, and show you that square face of yours
Taken to pieces with amazement: you never guessed
Helen's a shrew. Oh, what do you want her for?
Let her go.' She left him; and when he came in at noon
Spoke meekly, she seemed to have wept.

VI
In the evening, in
Helen's presence,
Reave's mother said, 'Did that sand-haired young man
Find you, Reave, when he came this afternoon?
He didn't come to the house.' 'Who?' 'That road-worker,
Arnfield.' 'Rick Armstrong?' 'Most likely: the one I warned you
Not to pasture your heifer with.' 'He was here?' 'No,
Not here. I saw him come down the hill, and Helen
Went out to meet him.' Mark Thurso looked up
From the book he'd been reading, and watched his mother
As a pigeon on a rock watches a falcon quartering
The field beyond the next fence; but Helen suddenly:
'Now listen, Mark. I'm to be framed, ah?
I think so. I never liked her.' The old woman said,
'Did you say something?' 'Not yet,' she answered. Reave made
a mocking
Noise in his throat and said, 'Let them alone.
No peace between women.
This morning I sent Luna over the hill
With one of the bucks we killed, no doubt my friend came over
At quitting-time to say thank-you: why he didn't find me's
Less clear, but watch the women build it between them
To a big darkness.' 'Not I,' Helen said,
And dipped her needle two or three careful stitches
In the cloth she was mending, then looked up suddenly
To see who watched her. 'If I'd seen him,' she said, 'I'd have
spoken to him.
I am not sick with jealousy of your new friend. But he was
probably not here; the old eyes that make
A dead man's phantom can imagine a live one's.' The old woman:
'When you saw him you ran to meet him; I sent Olvidia
To see if the speckled hen had stolen a nest in the willows. She
walked down there, what she saw amazed her.
I've not allowed her to tell me though she bubbles with it. Your
business, Reave: ask her. Not mine: I'm only
The slow man's mother.' Helen stood up, trembling a little and
smiling, she held the needle and the spool
And folded the cloth, saying 'Your mother, Reave,
Loves you well: too well: you and I honor her for that. She has
hated me from the day she heard of me,
But that was jealousy, the shadow that shows love's real: nothing
to resent. But now you seem very friendly
With that young man too: she can't bear to yield you again, it
cracks the string of her mind. No one can fancy
What she's plotted with the kitchen woman . . .' Mark Thurso
said with lips that suddenly whitened: '7 met Armstrong.
I told him you'd ridden up the high pasture, for so I believed.
He asked me to thank you warmly
For the buck you sent: I forgot to tell you. I was with him while
he was here, and when he went back I hobbled
Some ways up hill.' The old woman moved her lips but said
nothing; but Reave: 'Here: what's the matter,
Brother? You were with me constantly all afternoon.' 'But an
hour,' Mark said. 'Hm? Five minutes.' Then Helen,
Looking from the one to the other: 'If I am hated, I think I am
loved too. I'd something to say . . .
Oh: yes: will you promise, Reave, promise Olvidia
You'll give her, for telling the perfect truth, whatever your
mother has promised her for telling lies: then I'm safe.
Call her and ask her.' He answered, 'She'll sleep in hell first.
Here's enough stories
Without hers in the egg-basket. Do you think it was Armstrong
you saw, mother? I trust Rick Armstrong
From the bright point to the handle.' Helen said, 'Ah, Mark,
You'd never imagine I'd be satisfied with that.
I have to be satisfied with that.' 'Why not?' Reave said.
And she: 'If it was nothing worse than killing to fear
I'd confess. All kinds of lies. I fear you so much
I'd confess ... all kinds of lies ... to get it over with,'
She said, making a clicking noise in her throat
Like one who has drunk too much and hiccoughs, 'only
To get it over with: only, I haven't done anything.
This terror, Mark, has no reason,
Reave never struck nor threatened me, yet well I know
That while I've lived here I've always been sick with fear
As that woman is with jealousy. Deep in me, a black lake
His eyes drill to, it spurts. Sometime he'll drill to my heart
And that's the nut of courage hidden in the lake.
Then we'll see. I don't mean anything bad, you know: I'm very
innocent,
And wish to think high, like Mark. Olvidia of course is a hollow
liar. May I go now? I'm trembling-tired:
If you'll allow me to go up to bed? But indeed I dare not
While you sit judging.' She looked at Mark and slightly
Reached both her hands toward him, smiled and went out.
But in the little dark hallway under the stair,
When she hastened through it in the sudden darkness,
The door being neither open nor shut passed edgewise
Between her two groping hands, her cheek and brow
Struck hard on the edge.

Her moan was heard in the room of
lamplight;
Where they had been sitting silent while she went out,
An4 when she had gone Mark Thurso had said, 'Mother:
You've done an infamous thing.' 'They might play Jack and queen
All they please,' she answered, 'but not my son
For the fool card in the deck,' the shock of struck wood was heard,
And Helen's hushed groan: Mark, dragging his lameness, reeled
Swiftly across the room saying 'What has she done?'
He groped in the passage and spoke tenderly, then Reave
Went and brought Helen to the lamplight; a little blood
Ran through her left eye to her lips from the cut eyebrow.
The implacable old woman said 'She's not hurt.
Will you make a fuss?' Helen said, 'The wood of your house
Is like your mother, Reave, hits in the dark.
This will wash off.' She went to the kitchen and met
Olvidia who'd been listening against the door,
Then Helen, moaning 'I'm ringed with my enemies,' turned
To flee, and turned back. 'I will take it now. My husband, Olvidia,
Is ready to kill me, you see. I have been kind to you
Two or three times. Have you seen any unusual
Or wicked meeting to-day?' The Indian woman,
Dreading Reave's anger and seeing the blood, but hardly
Understanding the words, blanked her dark face
And wagged her head. 'Don't know. What you mean, wicked?
I better keep out of this.' 'A dish of water, Olvidia.
Be near me, Mark. Reave: will you ask her now?'
He said 'Wash and be quiet.' Helen said, 'Oh Olvidia,
Someone has made him angry at you and me.
Look in my eyes. Tell no bad stories . . . lies, that is ...
Did you see anything when you looked for eggs
In the willows along the creek?' Olvidia folded
Her lips together and stepped backward, then Helen
Sighed, dabbling her cheek with water. 'It hurts. I think
It will turn black.' Reave suddenly shouted 'Answer.'
Olvidia, retreating farther: 'What you want of me?
I find no eggs.' Mark said, 'Come, Helen, Oh come. I've watched
innocence tormented
And can no more. Go up and sleep if you can, I'll speak for you,
to-morrow all this black cloud of wrong
Will be melted quite away in the morning.' Reave said, 'Don't
fawn on her, you make me mad. Women will do it.
But why praise 'em for it?' Helen, meekly: 'I am very tired and
helpless and driven to the edge. Think kindly of me,
Mark, I believe I shall be much hated. Your mother . . .
This is all. Light me a candle.' At the foot of the stair
She closed the door, and silently tip-toed through
The passage and the other room to the door of the house,
There pinched the wick, and praying for no wind
To make a stir in the house, carefully opened
The outer door and latched it behind her.

She traversed the hill,
And at the road-men's camp, plucking at the fly
Of a lit tent, thought momently it was curious
She stood among so many unrestrained men
Without fear, yet feared Reave. 'I must see Rick Armstrong
This moment: which tent?' They laid their hands of cards
Carefully face down on the packing-box.
'Why, ma'am, I can't say exactly,' but she had run off
To another lamp of shining canvas and found him.
'Let me stand into the light.' She showed her cut brow
A little bleeding again with hurry in the dark,
And the purpling bruise. 'What Reave did. Your friend Reave.
His mother spied and told on us. What will you do?'
'By God!' 'Oh,' she said, 'that's no good.
How could you keep me here? Borrow a car,
There are cars here.' He said 'I'll take care of you.' She
shuddered,
Beating her fists together, breathed long and said:
'If you choose to stand here and talk among the men listening
It is not my fault. I say if you and these men could stop him when
he comes
You can'tto-night, to-night, in an hour nothing can stop him:
he'd call the sheriff to-morrow and have me
Like a stolen cow, nothing but ridiculous, a mark for children to
hoot at, crying in my hair, probably
Led on a rope. Don't you know him? I do. Oh my lover
Take me to the worst hut at the world's end and kill me there,
but take me from here before Reave comes.
I'd go so gladly. And how could you bear to face him, he thought
you his faithful friend, for shame even?
Oh hurry, hurry!'

VII
In the desert at the foot of sun-rotted hills
A row of wooden cabins flanks a gaunt building
Squatted on marbly terraces of its own excrement,
Digested rock from which the metal has been sucked,
Drying in the rage of the sun. Reave Thurso stopped
At the first cabin, a woman came out and pointed;
He went to the farthest cabin, knocked, and went in.
'Well, Helen. You found a real sunny place.' Opening the door
She'd been a violet-eyed girl, a little slatternly
But rich with life; she stood back from the door
Sallow, with pinched nostrils and dwindled eyes,
As if she had lost a fountain of blood, and faintly
Whispering 'I knew you.' Reave looked about him like one
Attentively learning the place, and Helen said
'I never hoped that you wouldn't come at last,
It seemed a kind of blood-trail for you to follow.
And then I knew you were tardy and cold of course and at last
You'd come at last, you never give up anything,
How did you track us at last?' 'Oh,' he laughed, 'Time and I.
He's at work?' 'Yes.' 'If you wanted to hide
You'd have got him to change his name.' 'I begged him to,' she
answered,
Suddenly weeping, 'so many times.' 'Don't cry, don't cry.
You know that I'll never hurt you. Mark loves you too, he's been
very lonely. He wanted me to let you go,
But that was nonsense. He's been sick since you went away. Do
you remember the rose-bush you made me buy
That time in Salinas? Mark's watered it for you, sick or well,
Every day, limping around the house with a pail of water spilling
on his poor ankle-joint,
He'll be glad to see you again. Well, pack your things.' She gathered
Her blanked face to some show of life. 'Look around at this
country. Oh Reave. Reave. Look. I let him
Take me here at last. And he hasn't been always perfectly kind:
but since I’ve been living with him I love him . . .
My heart would break if I tried to tell you how much. I'm not
ashamed. There was something in me that didn't
Know about love until I was living with him. I kissed him, when
he went back to work this noon.
I didn't know you were corning; forgot you were coming sometime.
See how it is. No: I understand:
You won't take me.' He, astonished: 'Not take you? After hunting
you a whole year? You dream too much, Helen.
It makes you lovely in a way, but it clouds your mind. You must
distinguish. All this misfortune of yours
Probably . . .' 'Oh God,' she said, shuddering,
'Will you preach too? First listen to me: I tell you all the other
joys I’ve ever known in my life
Were dust to this . . . misfortune; the desert sun out there is a
crow's wing against the brightness of this . . .
Misfortune: Oh I didn't mean, dear,
To make you angry.' She was suddenly kneeling to him and
pressed her face
On his hard thigh: 'I know Pve been wicked, Reave.
You must leave me in the dirt for a bad woman: the women here
See the marks of it, look sidelings at me.
I'll still believe you used to love me a little,
But now of course
You wouldn't want for a wife ... a handkerchief
You lost and another man picked me up and
Wiped his mouth. Oh there may have been many
Other men. In a year: you can't tell.
Your mother is strong and always rightly despised me.
She'd spit on me if she saw me now. So now
You'll simply cast me off; you're strong, like your mother,
And when you see that a thing's perfectly worthless
You can pick it out of your thoughts. Don't forgive me. I only
Pray you to hate me. Say 'She's no good. To hell with her!
That's the mercy I pray you for.' He said hastily, 'Get up,
This is no theater. I intend to take you back, Helen,
I never was very angry at you, remembering
That a. woman's more like a child, besides you were muddled
With imaginations and foolish reading. So we'll shut this bad year
In a box of silence and drown it out of our minds.' She stood
away from him toward the farther wall
With a sharp white face, like a knife-blade worn thin and hollow
with too much whetting, and said, turning her face
Toward the window, 'How do I know that he can compel me?
He can torment us, but there's no law
To give me to him. You can't take me against my will. No: I
won't go. Do you think you're God,
And we have to do what you want?' He said, 'You'll go all
right.' She, laughing, 'At last you've struck something
Stiffer than you. Reave, that stubborn will
Is not strength but disease, I've always known it, like the slow
limy sickness
You hear about, that turns a man's flesh to bone,
The willing muscles and fibers little by little
Grow hard and helpless, at last you can't dent them, nothing will move,
He lands in a tent beside the circus, with a painting of him
Over the door and people pay ten cents
To see the petrified man: that's your stubbornness,
Your mind sets and can't change, you don't go on
Because you want to but because you have to, I pity you,
But here you're stopped.' Suddenly she trembled and shrank
little again. '7f you could take me
I'd stab you in bed sleeping.' 'You know,' he answered,
'You're talking foolishness. I have to see Armstrong before we go,
When he quits work, I guess there's a couple of hours, but you'd
best get ready.' 'Why must you see ... Rick?'
Reave made no answer, Helen covertly watched him, slowly the
metal temper failed from her face.
'I'll go,' she said faintly, 'and tell him.' 'You'll stay here.' 'Reave?
Reave. You said you weren't angry.' 'Not at you. If I'd anyone
To help me, I'd send you off first. Walked around like a man,
Was a male bitch . . .' 'I led him, I called him, I did it.
It's all mine.' 'What?' 'The blame, the blame, the blame,
I planned it, all mine, I did it, Reave.' A white speck glittered
At the commissure of his lips, he licked his lips
As if he were thirsty and said difficultly, 'I've had a
Year to think about it: have to have relief, you're
Let off, keep still.' She felt his eyes
Craftily avoiding hers, and something monstrous in him moulding
the mass of his body to a coarsened
More apelike form, that a moment appeared and then was
cramped back to human: her image-making mind beheld
Her lover go under the hammers of this coarse power, his face
running thick blood turn up at last
Like a drowning man's, before he went down the darkness, all his
gay bravery crushed made horrible submission:
With any warning or whatever weapons he'd be like a bird in a
dog's mouth, Reave had all the strength,
Would fight foul, with all means and no mercy: 'Oh, Oh, take
me with you
If you want me, but now. Before he comes.
How could I look at him again if I'm going to leave him? You
understand
That's too much to ask me, to stand between you
Like a cow between the brown bull and the white one.
In spite of all I'm not so ... shameless as ...
You think.' He made a questioning noise, 'Hm?' and she thinking
He'd failed to hear: 'I'll go and live with you
If you'll take me now. I can't face Rick, not wait for Rick,'
She said, weaving and parting the fingers
Of her two supplicant hands. She essayed more words,
But only the lips and no voice made them, then again
Breath filled the words, 'I've done wickedly, I'm sorry.
I will obey you now.' His eyes were hidden
While he considered, all at once he said joyfully
'Pack then.' 'Me, not my things: there's nothing.' 'Then come.'
She followed him; suddenly in the doorway she dropped
And kissed the threshold.
Thurso watched and said nothing;
She got up and walked at his side in the hot white dust by the
row of small cabins,
The wood of their doors and walls was worn to the look of seadrift
by the desert sand-scour. Suddenly Helen
Laughed like the bitter crying of a killdeer when someone walks
near the nest, 'My God, Reave, have you come for me
In the old wreck of a farm-truck, will it still run?' 'What else?
We haven't got rich, we haven't bought cars
While I've been away from home hunting you.' 'The pigs and
I,' she cried shrilly. Reave nodded, and went to the door
Of the last cabin, and said to the woman to whom he had spoken
before: 'I'm taking my wife home.
This woman's my wife. When Armstrong comes, tell that bastard
We're going west. He's got a car.' Helen cried, 'Oh, cheat, cheat,
Will you tole him after you?' He said heavily. 'What do you mean?
Come on,' and so holding her wrist that the bones ached
Drew her to the car. She had yielded and was subject to him,
She could imagine no recourse, her mind palsied
Like the wrist-clenched hand.

VIII
After twenty miles he turned
The carbureter-connection, slyly regarding
His seat-mate, she fogged with misery observed nothing.
The engine went lame, 'What's the matter?' he said, turning
The carbureter-connection; the engine stalled.
He lifted the hood and made the motions of helplessness,
Looking up sometimes at Helen, who sat in the dust on the high
seat on the folded blanket,
Her face in her hands. 'We're stuck here,' Thurso said. 'Well,
we have water.' She dropped her hands from her face
And stared at the road ahead; then she began to see the desert
about them, the unending incandescent
Plain of white dust, stippled with exact placing of small gray
plants, each tuft a painfully measured
Far distance from every other and so apparently forever, all
wavering under the rage of the sun,
A perfect arena for the man's cruelty; but now she was helpless.
Still Armstrong failed to come; Helen awoke again
From blind misery, and watched Reave's nerves
Growing brittle while the sun sailed west. He babbled childlike
About cattle and pastures, things unreal, unimaginable,
In the white anguish here; his hands quivered,
And the sun sank.

In the night Helen revived
Enough to make action appear possible again.
She crept stealthily away in the starry darkness
Thinking Reave slept; when he spoke she tried to run,
Her thighs and calves were like hollow water, he followed
And brought her back through the vast unnatural pallor of the night,
Rough-handed, but only saying 'You're too restless.' She writhed
her hands together like bitter flames and lay down
On the spread blanket. After while she lay face upward. Those
foam-bubbles on the stale water of night
Were floating stars, what did it matter, which of two men?
Yesterday the one had been lovely and the other
Came in like ugly death, but difference had died. Rick Armstrong
must have made some ridiculous plan
For heading them off or else he'd have come. Perhaps he thought
she went willingly. Why not? 'I go with you willingly,'
She said aloud, 'dear, do you hear me? I've shot my load of
feeling, there's nothing left in the world
Worth thinking twice. We'll crawl home to our hole.'
He answered, 'I can't believe he's a coward: he'll come in the
morning.' 'I dread death
More than your mother's eyes,' she answered. 'I'm the coward
or I'd kill myself. Dear, I fear death
More than I hate this dishwater broth of life. A bowlful a day, O
God! Do the stars look
Like lonely and pretty sparkles when you look up?
They look to me like bubbles of grease on cold
Dishwater.' He said, 'Sleep, you’ll feel better.' He heard her
sighing
And twisting her body on the sand while the night waned.
He got up and stood beside her and said anxiously,
'I was to blame too, Helen. Part of the blame
Is mine, Helen. I didn't show enough love,
Nor do often enough
What women want. Maybe it made your life
Seem empty. It seems ... it seems to me it wouldn't be decent
To do it just now: but I'll remember and be
Better when we get home.' She said, 'O God! Fool, fool,
A spoonful a night. Your mother was lying to you.
She knows better.'

In the morning
Thurso waited two hours from sunrise;
They had nothing to eat; Helen endured her headache, and the
shameless sun
Blared from the east. Reave greased the joints of the truck.
When one of those long gray desert lizards that run
With heads raised highly, scudded through the white sand,
He flung the wrench suddenly and broke its back
And said 'He won't come then. My God, Helen,
Was he tired of you? He won't come.' She watched her husband
Pick up the wrench and batter that broken life,
Still lifting up its head at him, into the sand. He saw the yellow
Grains of fat in the red flesh and said,
'Come here, Helen. Yellow you see, yellow you see.
Your friend makes us all vile.' She understood
That 'yellow' meant cowardly, and that this was Armstrong
Battered to a cake of blood.

IX
They drove west
Through the white land; the heat and the light increased,
At length around a ridge of ancient black lava
Appeared a place of dust where food could be bought, but Helen
Would eat nothing. In the evening they came
293
THURSO'S LANDING
Among fantastic Joshua-trees to a neat
Framed square of cabins at the foot of a mountain
Like a skeleton; seeing Helen so white and sick,
And the motor misfiring, Reave chose to lodge at this camp.
He'd tinker the engine while there was daylight. He found the timer
Choked up with drift of the desert; having washed it with gasoline
and heard the cylinders
Roar cheerfully again, he returned to Helen.

She was not in the cabin,
But sat with chance companions on a painted bench under the
boughs of one of those reptilian trees
Near the camp entrance; no longer white and morose, her face
was flushed, her eyes sparkling with darkness
In the purple evening that washed the mountain. Before he came
she was saying, 'My husband just doesn't care
What anyone thinks: he said, all right, if I wanted to see the
desert, but he wouldn't take either one
Of our new cars to be spoiled, he'd drive the old farmtruck . . .'
Seeing Reave approaching, greased black to the elbows, 'Oh, Oh,
What's he been doing? Oh: it's black, I think? Dear, I felt better
When the sun went down.' He, staring at her companions:
'That's good.' 'They call it desert fever,' she stammered.
'The heat's the cause.' She stood up, giggling and swaying.
'Was nearly exhausted, they gave me a little medicine.
Nice people.' 'What did you give her?' 'She begged for a tablespoonful,'
the old woman answered, 'Texas corn-whiskey.
Are you going west?' Helen said gravely, 'A spoonful a night:
O God!' 'She's eaten nothing,' Reave said,
'Since yesterday. Come and lie down, Helen.' She obeyed, walking
unsteadily beside him, with terrified eyes.
'Dear, please don't touch me, your hands are terrible,' she said.
'They think you killed him.'
He made her lie down on the bed while he washed himself.
She wept and said, 'I always make friends easily.
I used to be full of joy. Now my wishes
Or your own soul will destroy you when you get home.
I'd give my life to save you.' He groaned angrily,
But she was unable to be silent and said:
'I think you're even worse hurt than I am. Were you ever on a ship?
This place is like a ship, everything smells
In spite of neatness, and I am desert-sick.
Oh, Reave, I never dreamed that you'd be deep-wounded.
Forgive me dear.' He violently: 'Lick your own sores.
The man was my friend and that degrades me: but you’ve
Slept with him. You couldn't help but have learned him
In a year's familiar life and I've been thinking
That whores you, because no woman can love a coward,
And still you stayed . . .' 'For his money, for his money you know,'
She answered through chattering teeth, 'and the fine house
You found me in among the rich gardens, the jewels and furs,
Necklaces of pearls like round zeroes, all these hangings of gold
That make me heavy . . .' 'Ah,' he said, 'be quiet.' He went
out, and returning after a time with a tray of food
Lighted the lamp and cut meat in small bites and forced her to
eat. 'Dear,' she mourned, 'I can't swallow
Though I chew and chew. The rocking of the ship and the hot
smell close up my throat. Oh be patient with me.
When we land I'll feel better,' her deep-colored eyes moving in
sickly rhythm to the roll of the ship,
He said 'You're in the desert: an auto-camp by the road. Wake
up and eat.' She sat up on the bed
And looked anxiously about the bleak lamplight, then took the tray
And obeyed his will. 'I thought you were my dad.
Once we travelled on a boat from the south
To San Francisco. I expect I saw from the deck the Mill Creek
mountains and never
Guessed,' she said, shuddering. While she ate she began to fear
That people who were going to die dreamed of a ship
The night before. The truck would be overturned
And crush her body in the sand like that lizard's,
A tire would have burst.
Against the black horror of death
All living miseries looked sweet; in a moment of aimless
Wild anguish she was unable not to cry out, and said:
'Ah, Ah, what have you done, tearing me from him? I love him,
you know.
Maybe he's cowardly or maybe he's only tired of me, but if he's
yellow to the bones, if he's yellower than gold,
I love him, you know.
If I were crushed in the sand like that lizard you killed, to a cake
of blood why not? for I think you'll
Do it sometime the sun would dry me and my dust would blow
to his feet: if I were dead in the desert
And he drowned in the middle ocean toward Asia, yet something
and something from us would climb like white
Fires up the sky and twine high shining wings in the hollow sky:
while you in your grave lie stuck
Like a stone in a ditch.' He, frowning: 'Have you finished?'
He took the tray and said, 'Have you had enough?'
'Never enough. Dear, give me back to him. I can't think yet
That you understand,' she said slyly and trembling.
'Don't you care, that he and I have made love together
In the mountains and in the city and in the desert,
And once at a Navajo shepherd's camp in the desert in a storm of
lightnings
Playing through the cracks of the shed: can you wink and
swallow
All that?' 'I can't help it. You've played the beast.
But you are my goods and you'll be guarded, your filthy time
Has closed. Now keep still.'
She was silent and restless for a good while.
He said, 'You'll be sleeping soon, and you need sleep.
I'll go outside while you get ready for bed.'
'Let me speak, just a little,' she said humbly.
'Please, Reave, won't you leave me here in the morning, I'll
manage somehow.
You're too strong for us, but, dear, be merciful.
I think you don't greatly want me: what you love really
Is something to track down: your mountains are full of deer:
Oh, hunt some bleeding doe. I truly love you.
I always thought of you as a dear, dear friend
When even we were hiding from you.' He was astonished
To see her undress while she was speaking to him,
She seemed to regard him as a mere object, a keeper,
But nothing human. 'And Rick Armstrong,' she said,
'I can't be sure that I love him: dear, I don't know
That I'll go back to him; but I must have freedom, I must have
freedom
If only to die in, it comes too late . . .'
She turned her back and slipped off the undergarment
And glided into the bed. She was beautiful still,
The smooth fluted back and lovely long tapering legs not
changed,
Nor the supple motions; nor that recklessness
Of what Thurso called modesty was any change;
She never tried to conceal her body from him
Since they were married, but always thoughtless and natural;
And nestled her head in the pillow when she lay down
With little nods, the tender way he remembered:
So that a wave of compassionate love
Dissolved his heart: he thought, 'Dearest, I've done
Brutally: I'll not keep you against your will.
But you must promise to write to me for help
When you leave that cur.' He made the words in his mind
And began to say: 'Dearest . . .' but nothing further
Had meaning in it, mere jargon of mutterings, the mouth's refusal
Of the mind's surrender; and his mind flung up a memory
Of that poor dead man, his father, with the sad beaten face
When the lime-kilns failed: that man yielded and was beaten,
A man mustn't be beaten. But Helen hearing
The 'dearest,' and the changed voice, wishfully
Lifted her head, and the great violet eyes
Sucked at Reave's face. 'No,' he said. He blew out the lamp,
Resolved to make this night a new marriage night
And undo their separation. She bitterly submitted;
'I can bear this: it doesn't matter: I'll never tell him.
I feel the ship sailing to a bad place. Reave, I'm so tired
That I shall die. If my wrist were broken
You wouldn't take my hand and arm in your hands
And wriggle the bones for pleasure? You're doing that
With a worse wound.' Her mind had many layers;
The vocal one was busy with anguish, and others
Finding a satisfaction in martyrdom
Enjoyed its outcry; the mass of her mind
Remained apparently quite neutral, under a familiar
Embrace without sting, without savor, without significance,
Except that this breast was hairier.

X
They drove through the two
deserts and arrived home. Helen went in
With whetted nerves for the war with Reave's mother, resolving
Not to be humble at least; but instead of the sharp old woman a
little creature
With yellow hair and pleated excess of clothing stood up in the
room; and blushed and whitened, anxiously
Gazing, clasping thin hands together. Reave said, 'It's Hester
Clark.' And to Hester Clark: 'Tell Olvidia
To count two more for supper; my wife and I have come home.'
She answered, 'Oh yes,' fleeing. Then Helen:
'What's this little thing? Why does it wear my dress?' 'She's
only hemmed it over,' he said, 'at the edges.
Have it again if you want, I had to find something for her.' His
mother was heard on the stair, and entering
Looked hard at Helen and went and kissed Reave. Who said, 'I
shall stay at home now, mother: Helen's come home.'
'Yes. How do you do.' Her red-brown eyes brushed Helen's
body from the neck to the ankles, 'I'll have them heat
Bathwater.' Helen trembled and said, 'How kind. There are
showers in all the camps: if you mean anything else:
Reave seems content.' 'Very well. He's easily of course contented.
He picks up things by the road: one of them
I've allowed to live here: to speak honestly
In hope to keep his mind off another woman: but that cramps
and can't change.' 'If I knew what I want!'
Helen cried suddenly. 'The girl is a servant here,' Reave said.
'I hate the spitefulness of women. The housework
Needed help when you were not here.' Then Helen: 'She's quite
sick I think: she'll have to clear out I think.
Yet something in me felt kindly toward that little wax face
In my old clothes. I came home against my will. Why isn't Mark
here?' The far door opened for Olvidia,
Unable to imagine any pretext for entrance, but unable to bridle
her need
Of coming, to stare and smile from flat black eyes. Behind her
Johnny Luna was seen peering, but dared not enter.
Then Helen wondered, where was that thin little thing?
Crying somewhere? And Reave's mother said: 'Now you'll cut down
The old cable, as you promised, Reave. We're tired of seeing it.
You'll have time now.' He answered, 'Where's Mark, mother?
Helen just asked you.' 'I heard her.
Sitting under a bush on the

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

VII. Pompilia

I am just seventeen years and five months old,
And, if I lived one day more, three full weeks;
'T is writ so in the church's register,
Lorenzo in Lucina, all my names
At length, so many names for one poor child,
—Francesca Camilla Vittoria Angela
Pompilia Comparini,—laughable!
Also 't is writ that I was married there
Four years ago: and they will add, I hope,
When they insert my death, a word or two,—
Omitting all about the mode of death,—
This, in its place, this which one cares to know,
That I had been a mother of a son
Exactly two weeks. It will be through grace
O' the Curate, not through any claim I have;
Because the boy was born at, so baptized
Close to, the Villa, in the proper church:
A pretty church, I say no word against,
Yet stranger-like,—while this Lorenzo seems
My own particular place, I always say.
I used to wonder, when I stood scarce high
As the bed here, what the marble lion meant,
With half his body rushing from the wall,
Eating the figure of a prostrate man—
(To the right, it is, of entry by the door)
An ominous sign to one baptized like me,
Married, and to be buried there, I hope.
And they should add, to have my life complete,
He is a boy and Gaetan by name—
Gaetano, for a reason,—if the friar
Don Celestine will ask this grace for me
Of Curate Ottoboni: he it was
Baptized me: he remembers my whole life
As I do his grey hair.

All these few things
I know are true,—will you remember them?
Because time flies. The surgeon cared for me,
To count my wounds,—twenty-two dagger-wounds,
Five deadly, but I do not suffer much—
Or too much pain,—and am to die to-night.

Oh how good God is that my babe was born,
—Better than born, baptized and hid away
Before this happened, safe from being hurt!
That had been sin God could not well forgive:
He was too young to smile and save himself.
When they took two days after he was born,
My babe away from me to be baptized
And hidden awhile, for fear his foe should find,—
The country-woman, used to nursing babes,
Said "Why take on so? where is the great loss?
"These next three weeks he will but sleep and feed,
"Only begin to smile at the month's end;
"He would not know you, if you kept him here,
"Sooner than that; so, spend three merry weeks
"Snug in the Villa, getting strong and stout,
"And then I bring him back to be your own,
"And both of you may steal towe know where!"
The month—there wants of it two weeks this day!
Still, I half fancied when I heard the knock
At the Villa in the dusk, it might prove she—
Come to say "Since he smiles before the time,
"Why should I cheat you out of one good hour?
"Back I have brought him; speak to him and judge!"
Now I shall never see him; what is worse,
When he grows up and gets to be my age,
He will seem hardly more than a great boy;
And if he asks "What was my mother like?"
People may answer "Like girls of seventeen"—
And how can he but think of this and that,
Lucias, Marias, Sofias, who titter or blush
When he regards them as such boys may do?
Therefore I wish someone will please to say
I looked already old though I was young;
Do I not … say, if you are by to speak …
Look nearer twenty? No more like, at least,
Girls who look arch or redden when boys laugh,
Than the poor Virgin that I used to know
At our street-corner in a lonely niche,—
The babe, that sat upon her knees, broke off,—
Thin white glazed clay, you pitied her the more:
She, not the gay ones, always got my rose.

How happy those are who know how to write!
Such could write what their son should read in time,
Had they a whole day to live out like me.
Also my name is not a common name,
"Pompilia," and may help to keep apart
A little the thing I am from what girls are.
But then how far away, how hard to find
Will anything about me have become,
Even if the boy bethink himself and ask!
No father that he ever knew at all,
Nor ever had—no, never had, I say!
That is the truth,—nor any mother left,
Out of the little two weeks that she lived,
Fit for such memory as might assist:
As good to as no family, no name,
Not even poor old Pietro's name, nor hers,
Poor kind unwise Violante, since it seems
They must not be my parents any more.
That is why something put it in my head
To call the boy "Gaetano"—no old name
For sorrow's sake; I looked up to the sky
And took a new saint to begin anew.
One who has only been made saint—how long?
Twenty-five years: so, carefuller, perhaps,
To guard a namesake than those old saints grow,
Tired out by this time,—see my own five saints!

On second thoughts, I hope he will regard
The history of me as what someone dreamed,
And get to disbelieve it at the last:
Since to myself it dwindles fast to that,
Sheer dreaming and impossibility,—
Just in four days too! All the seventeen years,
Not once did a suspicion visit me
How very different a lot is mine
From any other woman's in the world.
The reason must be, 't was by step and step
It got to grow so terrible and strange.
These strange woes stole on tiptoe, as it were,
Into my neighbourhood and privacy,
Sat down where I sat, laid them where I lay;
And I was found familiarised with fear,
When friends broke in, held up a torch and cried
"Why, you Pompilia in the cavern thus,
"How comes that arm of yours about a wolf?
"And the soft length,—lies in and out your feet
"And laps you round the knee,—a snake it is!"
And so on.

Well, and they are right enough,
By the torch they hold up now: for first, observe,
I never had a father,—no, nor yet
A mother: my own boy can say at least
"I had a mother whom I kept two weeks!"
Not I, who little used to doubt … I doubt
Good Pietro, kind Violante, gave me birth?
They loved me always as I love my babe
(—Nearly so, that is—quite so could not be—)
Did for me all I meant to do for him,
Till one surprising day, three years ago,
They both declared, at Rome, before some judge
In some Court where the people flocked to hear,
That really I had never been their child,
Was a mere castaway, the careless crime
Of an unknown man, the crime and care too much
Of a woman known too well,—little to these,
Therefore, of whom I was the flesh and blood:
What then to Pietro and Violante, both
No more my relatives than you or you?
Nothing to them! You know what they declared.

So with my husband,—just such a surprise,
Such a mistake, in that relationship!
Everyone says that husbands love their wives,
Guard them and guide them, give them happiness;
'T is duty, law, pleasure, religion: well,
You see how much of this comes true in mine!
People indeed would fain have somehow proved
He was no husband: but he did not hear,
Or would not wait, and so has killed us all.
Then there is … only let me name one more!
There is the friend,—men will not ask about,
But tell untruths of, and give nicknames to,
And think my lover, most surprise of all!
Do only hear, it is the priest they mean,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi: a priest—love,
And love me! Well, yet people think he did.
I am married, he has taken priestly vows,
They know that, and yet go on, say, the same,
"Yes, how he loves you!" "That was love"—they say,
When anything is answered that they ask:
Or else "No wonder you love him"—they say.
Then they shake heads, pity much, scarcely blame—
As if we neither of us lacked excuse,
And anyhow are punished to the full,
And downright love atones for everything!
Nay, I heard read out in the public Court
Before the judge, in presence of my friends,
Letters't was said the priest had sent to me,
And other letters sent him by myself,
We being lovers!

Listen what this is like!
When I was a mere child, my mother … that's
Violante, you must let me call her so
Nor waste time, trying to unlearn the word …
She brought a neighbour's child of my own age
To play with me of rainy afternoons;
And, since there hung a tapestry on the wall,
We two agreed to find each other out
Among the figures. "Tisbe, that is you,
"With half-moon on your hair-knot, spear in hand,
"Flying, but no wings, only the great scarf
"Blown to a bluish rainbow at your back:
"Call off your hound and leave the stag alone!"
"—And there are you, Pompilia, such green leaves
"Flourishing out of your five finger-ends,
"And all the rest of you so brown and rough:
"Why is it you are turned a sort of tree?"
You know the figures never were ourselves
Though we nicknamed them so. Thus, all my life,—
As well what was, as what, like this, was not,—
Looks old, fantastic and impossible:
I touch a fairy thing that fades and fades.
—Even to my babe! I thought, when he was born,
Something began for once that would not end,
Nor change into a laugh at me, but stay
For evermore, eternally quite mine.
Well, so he is,—but yet they bore him off,
The third day, lest my husband should lay traps
And catch him, and by means of him catch me.
Since they have saved him so, it was well done:
Yet thence comes such confusion of what was
With what will be,—that late seems long ago,
And, what years should bring round, already come,
Till even he withdraws into a dream
As the rest do: I fancy him grown great,
Strong, stern, a tall young man who tutors me,
Frowns with the others "Poor imprudent child!
"Why did you venture out of the safe street?
"Why go so far from help to that lone house?
"Why open at the whisper and the knock?"
Six days ago when it was New Year's-day,
We bent above the fire and talked of him,
What he should do when he was grown and great.
Violante, Pietro, each had given the arm
I leant on, to walk by, from couch to chair
And fireside,—laughed, as I lay safe at last,
"Pompilia's march from bed to board is made,
"Pompilia back again and with a babe,
"Shall one day lend his arm and help her walk!"
Then we all wished each other more New Years.
Pietro began to scheme—"Our cause is gained;
"The law is stronger than a wicked man:
"Let him henceforth go his way, leave us ours!
"We will avoid the city, tempt no more
"The greedy ones by feasting and parade,—
"Live at the other villa, we know where,
"Still farther off, and we can watch the babe
"Grow fast in the good air; and wood is cheap
"And wine sincere outside the city gate.
"I still have two or three old friends will grope
"Their way along the mere half-mile of road,
"With staff and lantern on a moonless night
"When one needs talk: they'll find me, never fear,
"And I'll find them a flask of the old sort yet!"
Violante said "You chatter like a crow:
"Pompilia tires o' the tattle, and shall to bed:
"Do not too much the first day,—somewhat more
"To-morrow, and, the next, begin the cape
"And hood and coat! I have spun wool enough."
Oh what a happy friendly eve was that!

And, next day, about noon, out Pietro went—
He was so happy and would talk so much,
Until Violante pushed and laughed him forth
Sight-seeing in the cold,—"So much to see
"I' the churches! Swathe your throat three times!" she cried,
"And, above all, beware the slippery ways,
"And bring us all the news by supper-time!"
He came back late, laid by cloak, staff and hat,
Powdered so thick with snow it made us laugh,
Rolled a great log upon the ash o' the hearth,
And bade Violante treat us to a flask,
Because he had obeyed her faithfully,
Gone sight-see through the seven, and found no church
To his mind like San Giovanni—"There's the fold,
"And all the sheep together, big as cats!
"And such a shepherd, half the size of life,
"Starts up and hears the angel"—when, at the door,
A tap: we started up: you know the rest.

Pietro at least had done no harm, I know;
Nor even Violante, so much harm as makes
Such revenge lawful. Certainly she erred—
Did wrong, how shall I dare say otherwise?—
In telling that first falsehood, buying me
From my poor faulty mother at a price,
To pass off upon Pietro as his child.
If one should take my babe, give him a name,
Say he was not Gaetano and my own,
But that some other woman made his mouth
And hands and feet,—how very false were that!
No good could come of that; and all harm did.
Yet if a stranger were to represent
"Needs must you either give your babe to me
"And let me call him mine for evermore,
"Or let your husband get him"—ah, my God,
That were a trial I refuse to face!
Well, just so here: it proved wrong but seemed right
To poor Violante—for there lay, she said,
My poor real dying mother in her rags,
Who put me from her with the life and all,
Poverty, pain, shame and disease at once,
To die the easier by what price I fetched—
Also (I hope) because I should be spared
Sorrow and sin,—why may not that have helped?
My father,—he was no one, any one,—
The worse, the likelier,—call him—he who came,
Was wicked for his pleasure, went his way,
And left no trace to track by; there remained
Nothing but me, the unnecessary life,
To catch up or let fall,—and yet a thing
She could make happy, be made happy with,
This poor Violante,—who would frown thereat?

Well, God, you see! God plants us where we grow.
It is not that because a bud is born
At a wild briar's end, full i' the wild beast's way,
We ought to pluck and put it out of reach
On the oak-tree top,—say "There the bud belongs!"
She thought, moreover, real lies were lies told
For harm's sake; whereas this had good at heart,
Good for my mother, good for me, and good
For Pietro who was meant to love a babe,
And needed one to make his life of use,
Receive his house and land when he should die.
Wrong, wrong and always wrong! how plainly wrong:
For see, this fault kept pricking, as faults do,
All the same at her heart: this falsehood hatched,
She could not let it go nor keep it fast.
She told me so,—the first time I was found
Locked in her arms once more after the pain,
When the nuns let me leave them and go home,
And both of us cried all the cares away,—
This it was set her on to make amends,
This brought about the marriage—simply this!
Do let me speak for her you blame so much!
When Paul, my husband's brother, found me out,
Heard there was wealth for who should marry me,
So, came and made a speech to ask my hand
For Guido,—she, instead of piercing straight
Through the pretence to the ignoble truth,
Fancied she saw God's very finger point,
Designate just the time for planting me
(The wild-briar slip she plucked to love and wear)
In soil where I could strike real root, and grow,
And get to be the thing I called myself:
For, wife and husband are one flesh, God says,
And I, whose parents seemed such and were none,
Should in a husband have a husband now,
Find nothing, this time, but was what it seemed,
All truth and no confusion any more.
I know she meant all good to me, all pain
To herself,—since how could it be aught but pain,
To give me up, so, from her very breast,
The wilding flower-tree-branch that, all those years,
She had got used to feel for and find fixed?
She meant well: has it been so ill i' the main?
That is but fair to ask: one cannot judge
Of what has been the ill or well of life,
The day that one is dying,—sorrows change
Into not altogether sorrow-like;
I do see strangeness but scarce misery,
Now it is over, and no danger more.
My child is safe; there seems not so much pain.
It comes, most like, that I am just absolved,
Purged of the past, the foul in me, washed fair,—
One cannot both have and not have, you know,—
Being right now, I am happy and colour things.
Yes, everybody that leaves life sees all
Softened and bettered: so with other sights:
To me at least was never evening yet
But seemed far beautifuller than its day,
For past is past.

There was a fancy came,
When somewhere, in the journey with my friend,
We stepped into a hovel to get food;
And there began a yelp here, a bark there,—
Misunderstanding creatures that were wroth
And vexed themselves and us till we retired.
The hovel is life: no matter what dogs bit
Or cats scratched in the hovel I break from,
All outside is lone field, moon and such peace—
Flowing in, filling up as with a sea
Whereon comes Someone, walks fast on the white,
Jesus Christ's self, Don Celestine declares,
To meet me and calm all things back again.

Beside, up to my marriage, thirteen years
Were, each day, happy as the day was long:
This may have made the change too terrible.
I know that when Violante told me first
The cavalier—she meant to bring next morn,
Whom I must also let take, kiss my hand—
Would be at San Lorenzo the same eve
And marry me,—which over, we should go
Home both of us without him as before,
And, till she bade speak, I must hold my tongue,
Such being the correct way with girl-brides,
From whom one word would make a father blush,—
I know, I say, that when she told me this,
—Well, I no more saw sense in what she said
Than a lamb does in people clipping wool;
Only lay down and let myself be clipped.
And when next day the cavalier who came—
(Tisbe had told me that the slim young man
With wings at head, and wings at feet, and sword
Threatening a monster, in our tapestry,
Would eat a girl else,—was a cavalier)
When he proved Guido Franceschini,—old
And nothing like so tall as I myself
Hook-nosed and yellow in a bush of beard,
Much like a thing I saw on a boy's wrist,
He called an owl and used for catching birds,—
And when he took my hand and made a smile
Why, the uncomfortableness of it all
Seemed hardly more important in the case
Than,—when one gives you, say, a coin to spend,—
Its newness or its oldness; if the piece
Weigh properly and buy you what you wish,
No matter whether you get grime or glare!
Men take the coin, return you grapes and figs.
Here, marriage was the coin, a dirty piece
Would purchase me the praise of those I loved:
About what else should I concern myself?

So, hardly knowing what a husband meant,
I supposed this or any man would serve,
No whit the worse for being so uncouth:
For I was ill once and a doctor came
With a great ugly hat, no plume thereto,
Black jerkin and black buckles and black sword,
And white sharp beard over the ruff in front,
And oh so lean, so sour-faced and austere!—
Who felt my pulse, made me put out my tongue,
Then oped a phial, dripped a drop or two
Of a black bitter something,—I was cured!
What mattered the fierce beard or the grim face?
It was the physic beautified the man,
Master Malpichi,—never met his match
In Rome, they said,—so ugly all the same!

However, I was hurried through a storm,
Next dark eve of December's deadest day
How it rained!—through our street and the Lion's-mouth
And the bit of Corso,—cloaked round, covered close,
I was like something strange or contraband,—
Into blank San Lorenzo, up the aisle,
My mother keeping hold of me so tight,
I fancied we were come to see a corpse
Before the altar which she pulled me toward.
There we found waiting an unpleasant priest
Who proved the brother, not our parish friend,
But one with mischief-making mouth and eye,
Paul, whom I know since to my cost. And then
I heard the heavy church-door lock out help
Behind us: for the customary warmth,
Two tapers shivered on the altar. "Quick—
"Lose no time!" cried the priest. And straightway down
Fromwhat's behind the altar where he hid—
Hawk-nose and yellowness and bush and all,
Stepped Guido, caught my hand, and there was I
O' the chancel, and the priest had opened book,
Read here and there, made me say that and this,
And after, told me I was now a wife,
Honoured indeed, since Christ thus weds the Church,
And therefore turned he water into wine,
To show I should obey my spouse like Christ.
Then the two slipped aside and talked apart,
And I, silent and scared, got down again
And joined my mother who was weeping now.
Nobody seemed to mind us any more,
And both of us on tiptoe found our way
To the door which was unlocked by this, and wide.
When we were in the street, the rain had stopped,
All things looked better. At out own house-door,
Violante whispered "No one syllable
"To Pietro! Girl-brides never breathe a word!"
"—Well treated to a wetting, draggle-tails!"
Laughed Pietro as he opened—"Very near
"You made me brave the gutter's roaring sea
"To carry off from roost old dove and young,
"Trussed up in church, the cote, by me, the kite!
"What do these priests mean, praying folk to death
"On stormy afternoons, with Christmas close
"To wash our sins off nor require the rain?"
Violante gave my hand a timely squeeze,
Madonna saved me from immodest speech,
I kissed him and was quiet, being a bride.
When I saw nothing more, the next three weeks,
Of Guido—"Nor the Church sees Christ" thought I:
"Nothing is changed however, wine is wine
"And water only water in our house.
"Nor did I see that ugly doctor since
"That cure of the illness: just as I was cured,
"I am married,—neither scarecrow will return."

Three weeks, I chuckled—"How would Giulia stare,
"And Tecla smile and Tisbe laugh outright,
"Were it not impudent for brides to talk!"—
Until one morning, as I sat and sang
At the broidery-frame alone i' the chamber,—loud
Voices, two, three together, sobbings too,
And my name, "Guido," "Paolo," flung like stones
From each to the other! In I ran to see.
There stood the very Guido and the priest
With sly face,—formal but nowise afraid,—
While Pietro seemed all red and angry, scarce
Able to stutter out his wrath in words;
And this it was that made my mother sob,
As he reproached her—"You have murdered us,
"Me and yourself and this our child beside!"
Then Guido interposed "Murdered or not,
"Be it enough your child is now my wife!
"I claim and come to take her." Paul put in,
"Consider—kinsman, dare I term you so?—
"What is the good of your sagacity
"Except to counsel in a strait like this?
"I guarantee the parties man and wife
"Whether you like or loathe it, bless or ban.
"May spilt milk be put back within the bowl—
"The done thing, undone? You, it is, we look
"For counsel to, you fitliest will advise!
"Since milk, though spilt and spoilt, does marble good,
"Better we down on knees and scrub the floor,
"Than sigh, 'the waste would make a syllabub!'
"Help us so turn disaster to account,
"So predispose the groom, he needs shall grace
"The bride with favour from the very first,
"Not begin marriage an embittered man!"
He smiled,—the game so wholly in his hands!
While fast and faster sobbed Violante—"Ay,
"All of us murdered, past averting now!
"O my sin, O my secret!" and such like.

Then I began to half surmise the truth;
Something had happened, low, mean, underhand,
False, and my mother was to blame, and I
To pity, whom all spoke of, none addressed:
I was the chattel that had caused a crime.
I stood mute,—those who tangled must untie
The embroilment. Pietro cried "Withdraw, my child!
"She is not helpful to the sacrifice
"At this stage,—do you want the victim by
"While you discuss the value of her blood?
"For her sake, I consent to hear you talk:
"Go, child, and pray God help the innocent!

I did go and was praying God, when came
Violante, with eyes swollen and red enough,
But movement on her mouth for make-believe
Matters were somehow getting right again.
She bade me sit down by her side and hear.
"You are too young and cannot understand,
"Nor did your father understand at first.
"I wished to benefit all three of us,
"And when he failed to take my meaning,—why,
"I tried to have my way at unaware—
"Obtained him the advantage he refused.
"As if I put before him wholesome food
"Instead of broken victual,—he finds change
"I' the viands, never cares to reason why,
"But falls to blaming me, would fling the plate
"From window, scandalize the neighbourhood,
"Even while he smacks his lips,—men's way, my child!
"But either you have prayed him unperverse
"Or I have talked him back into his wits:
"And Paolo was a help in time of need,—
"Guido, not much—my child, the way of men!
"A priest is more a woman than a man,
"And Paul did wonders to persuade. In short,
"Yes, he was wrong, your father sees and says;
"My scheme was worth attempting: and bears fruit,
"Gives you a husband and a noble name,
"A palace and no end of pleasant things.
"What do you care about a handsome youth?
"They are so volatile, and tease their wives!
"This is the kind of man to keep the house.
"We lose no daughter,—gain a son, that's all:
"For 't is arranged we never separate,
"Nor miss, in our grey time of life, the tints
"Of you that colour eve to match with morn.
"In good or ill, we share and share alike,
"And cast our lots into a common lap,
"And all three die together as we lived!
"Only, at Arezzo,—that's a Tuscan town,
"Not so large as this noisy Rome, no doubt,
"But older far and finer much, say folk,—
"In a great palace where you will be queen,
"Know the Archbishop and the Governor,
"And we see homage done you ere we die.
"Therefore, be good and pardon!"—"Pardon what?
"You know things, I am very ignorant:
"All is right if you only will not cry!"

And so an end! Because a blank begins
From when, at the word, she kissed me hard and hot,
And took me back to where my father leaned
Opposite Guido—who stood eyeing him,
As eyes the butcher the cast panting ox
That feels his fate is come, nor struggles more,—
While Paul looked archly on, pricked brow at whiles
With the pen-point as to punish triumph there,—
And said "Count Guido, take your lawful wife
"Until death part you!"

All since is one blank,
Over and ended; a terrific dream.
It is the good of dreams—so soon they go!
Wake in a horror of heart-beats, you may—
Cry "The dread thing will never from my thoughts!"
Still, a few daylight doses of plain life,
Cock-crow and sparrow-chirp, or bleat and bell
Of goats that trot by, tinkling, to be milked;
And when you rub your eyes awake and wide,
Where is the harm o' the horror? Gone! So here.
I know I wake,—but from what? Blank, I say!
This is the note of evil: for good lasts.
Even when Don Celestine bade "Search and find!
"For your soul's sake, remember what is past,
"The better to forgive it,"—all in vain!
What was fast getting indistinct before,
Vanished outright. By special grace perhaps,
Between that first calm and this last, four years
Vanish,—one quarter of my life, you know.
I am held up, amid the nothingness,
By one or two truths only—thence I hang,
And there I live,—the rest is death or dream,
All but those points of my support. I think
Of what I saw at Rome once in the Square
O' the Spaniards, opposite the Spanish House:
There was a foreigner had trained a goat,
A shuddering white woman of a beast,
To climb up, stand straight on a pile of sticks
Put close, which gave the creature room enough:
When she was settled there he, one by one,
Took away all the sticks, left just the four
Whereon the little hoofs did really rest,
There she kept firm, all underneath was air.
So, what I hold by, are my prayer to God,
My hope, that came in answer to the prayer,
Some hand would interpose and save me—hand
Which proved to be my friend's hand: and,—blest bliss,—
That fancy which began so faint at first,
That thrill of dawn's suffusion through my dark,
Which I perceive was promise of my child,
The light his unborn face sent long before,—
God's way of breaking the good news to flesh.
That is all left now of those four bad years.
Don Celestine urged "But remember more!
"Other men's faults may help me find your own.
"I need the cruelty exposed, explained,
"Or how can I advise you to forgive?"
He thought I could not properly forgive
Unless I ceased forgetting,—which is true:
For, bringing back reluctantly to mind
My husband's treatment of me,—by a light
That's later than my life-time, I review
And comprehend much and imagine more,
And have but little to forgive at last.
For now,—be fair and say,—is it not true
He was ill-used and cheated of his hope
To get enriched by marriage? Marriage gave
Me and no money, broke the compact so:
He had a right to ask me on those terms,
As Pietro and Violante to declare
They would not give me: so the bargain stood:
They broke it, and he felt himself aggrieved,
Became unkind with me to punish them.
They said 't was he began deception first,
Nor, in one point whereto he pledged himself,
Kept promise: what of that, suppose it were?
Echoes die off, scarcely reverberate
For ever,—why should ill keep echoing ill,
And never let our ears have done with noise?
Then my poor parents took the violent way
To thwart him,—he must needs retaliate,—wrong,
Wrong, and all wrong,—better say, all blind!
As I myself was, that is sure, who else
Had understood the mystery: for his wife
Was bound in some sort to help somehow there.
It seems as if I might have interposed,
Blunted the edge of their resentment so,
Since he vexed me because they first vexed him;
"I will entreat them to desist, submit,
"Give him the money and be poor in peace,—
"Certainly not go tell the world: perhaps
"He will grow quiet with his gains."

Yes, say
Something to this effect and you do well!
But then you have to see first: I was blind.
That is the fruit of all such wormy ways,
The indirect, the unapproved of God:
You cannot find their author's end and aim,
Not even to substitute your good for bad,
Your straight for the irregular; you stand
Stupefied, profitless, as cow or sheep
That miss a man's mind, anger him just twice
By trial at repairing the first fault.
Thus, when he blamed me, "You are a coquette,
"A lure-owl posturing to attract birds,
"You look love-lures at theatre and church,
"In walk, at window!"—that, I knew, was false:
But why he charged me falsely, whither sought
To drive me by such charge,—how could I know?
So, unaware, I only made things worse.
I tried to soothe him by abjuring walk,
Window, church, theatre, for good and all,
As if he had been in earnest: that, you know,
Was nothing like the object of his charge.
Yes, when I got my maid to supplicate
The priest, whose name she read when she would read
Those feigned false letters I was forced to hear
Though I could read no word of,—he should cease
Writing,—nay, if he minded prayer of mine,
Cease from so much as even pass the street
Whereon our house looked,—in my ignorance
I was just thwarting Guido's true intent;
Which was, to bring about a wicked change
Of sport to earnest, tempt a thoughtless man
To write indeed, and pass the house, and more,
Till both of us were taken in a crime.
He ought not to have wished me thus act lies,
Simulate folly: but,—wrong or right, the wish,—
I failed to apprehend its drift. How plain
It follows,—if I fell into such fault,
He also may have overreached the mark,
Made mistake, by perversity of brain,
I' the whole sad strange plot, the grotesque intrigue
To make me and my friend unself ourselves,
Be other man and woman than we were!
Think it out, you who have the time! for me,—
I cannot say less; more I will not say.
Leave it to God to cover and undo!
Only, my dulness should not prove too much!
—Not prove that in a certain other point
Wherein my husband blamed me,—and you blame,
If I interpret smiles and shakes of head,—
I was dull too. Oh, if I dared but speak!
Must I speak? I am blamed that I forwent
A way to make my husband's favour come.
That is true: I was firm, withstood, refused …
—Women as you are, how can I find the words?

I felt there was just one thing Guido claimed
I had no right to give nor he to take;
We being in estrangement, soul from soul:
Till, when I sought help, the Archbishop smiled,
Inquiring into privacies of life,
—Said I was blameable—(he stands for God)
Nowise entitled to exemption there.
Then I obeyed,—as surely had obeyed
Were the injunction "Since your husband bids,
"Swallow the burning coal he proffers you!"
But I did wrong, and he gave wrong advice
Though he were thrice Archbishop,—that, I know!—
Now I have got to die and see things clear.
Remember I was barely twelve years old
A child at marriage: I was let alone
For weeks, I told you, lived my child-life still
Even at Arezzo, when I woke and found
First … but I need not think of that again—
Over and ended! Try and take the sense
Of what I signify, if it must be so.
After the first, my husband, for hate's sake,
Said one eve, when the simpler cruelty
Seemed somewhat dull at edge and fit to bear,
"We have been man and wife six months almost:
"How long is this your comedy to last?
"Go this night to my chamber, not your own!"
At which word, I did rush—most true the charge—
And gain the Archbishop's house—he stands for God—
And fall upon my knees and clasp his feet,
Praying him hinder what my estranged soul
Refused to bear, though patient of the rest:
"Place me within a convent," I implored—
"Let me henceforward lead the virgin life
"You praise in Her you bid me imitate!"
What did he answer? "Folly of ignorance!
"Know, daughter, circumstances make or mar
"Virginity,—'t is virtue or 't is vice.
"That which was glory in the Mother of God
"Had been, for instance, damnable in Eve
"Created to be mother of mankind.
"Had Eve, in answer to her Maker's speech
"'Be fruitful, multiply, replenish earth'—
"Pouted 'But I choose rather to remain
"'Single'—why, she had spared herself forthwith
"Further probation by the apple and snake,
"Been pushed straight out of Paradise! For see—
"If motherhood be qualified impure,
"I catch you making God command Eve sin!
"—A blasphemy so like these Molinists',
"I must suspect you dip into their books."
Then he pursued "'T was in your covenant!"

No! There my husband never used deceit.
He never did by speech nor act imply
"Because of our souls' yearning that we meet
"And mix in soul through flesh, which yours and mine
"Wear and impress, and make their visible selves,
"—All which means, for the love of you and me,
"Let us become one flesh, being one soul!"
He only stipulated for the wealth;
Honest so far. But when he spoke as plain—
Dreadfully honest also—"Since our souls
"Stand each from each, a whole world's width between,
"Give me the fleshly vesture I can reach
"And rend and leave just fit for hell to burn!"—
Why, in God's name, for Guido's soul's own sake
Imperilled by polluting mine,—I say,
I did resist; would I had overcome!

My heart died out at the Archbishop's smile;
It seemed so stale and worn a way o' the world,
As though 't were nature frowning—"Here is Spring,
"The sun shines as he shone at Adam's fall,
"The earth requires that warmth reach everywhere:
"What, must your patch of snow be saved forsooth
"Because you rather fancy snow than flowers?"
Something in this style he began with me.
Last he said, savagely for a good man,
"This explains why you call your husband harsh,
"Harsh to you, harsh to whom you love. God's Bread!
"The poor Count has to manage a mere child
"Whose parents leave untaught the simplest things
"Their duty was and privilege to teach,—
"Good wives' instruction, gossips' lore: they laugh
"And leave the Count the task,—or leave it me!"
Then I resolved to tell a frightful thing.
"I am not ignorant,—know what I say,
"Declaring this is sought for hate, not love.
"Sir, you may hear things like almighty God.
"I tell you that my housemate, yes—the priest
"My husband's brother, Canon Girolamo—
"Has taught me what depraved and misnamed love
"Means, and what outward signs denote the sin,
"For he solicits me and says he loves,
"The idle young priest with nought else to do.
"My husband sees this, knows this, and lets be.
"Is it your counsel I bear this beside?"
"—More scandal, and against a priest this time!
"What, 't is the Canon now?"—less snappishly—
"Rise up, my child, for such a child you are,
"The rod were too advanced a punishment!
"Let's try the honeyed cake. A parable!
"'Without a parable spake He not to them.'
"There was a ripe round long black toothsome fruit,
"Even a flower-fig, the prime boast of May:
"And, to the tree, said … either the spirit o' the fig,
"Or, if we bring in men, the gardener,
"Archbishop of the orchard—had I time
"To try o' the two which fits in best: indeed
"It might be the Creator's self, but then
"The tree should bear an apple, I suppose,—
"Well, anyhow, one with authority said
"'Ripe fig, burst skin, regale the fig-pecker—
"'The bird whereof thou art a perquisite!'
"'Nay,' with a flounce, replied the restif fig,
"'I much prefer to keep my pulp myself:
"'He may go breakfastless and dinnerless,
"'Supperless of one crimson seed, for me!'
"So, back she flopped into her bunch of leaves.
"He flew off, left her,—did the natural lord,—
"And lo, three hundred thousand bees and wasps
"Found her out, feasted on her to the shuck:
"Such gain the fig's that gave its bird no bite!
"The moral,—fools elude their proper lot,
"Tempt other fools, get ruined all alike.
"Therefore go home, embrace your husband quick!
"Which if his Canon brother chance to see,
"He will the sooner back to book again."

So, home I did go; so, the worst befell:
So, I had proof the Archbishop was just man,
And hardly that, and certainly no more.
For, miserable consequence to me,
My husband's hatred waxed nor waned at all,
His brother's boldness grew effrontery soon,
And my last stay and comfort in myself
Was forced from me: henceforth I looked to God
Only, nor cared my desecrated soul
Should have fair walls, gay windows for the world.
God's glimmer, that came through the ruin-top,
Was witness why all lights were quenched inside:
Henceforth I asked God counsel, not mankind.

So, when I made the effort, freed myself,
They said—"No care to save appearance here!
"How cynic,—when, how wanton, were enough!"
—Adding, it all came of my mother's life
My own real mother, whom I never knew,
Who did wrong (if she needs must have done wrong)
Through being all her life, not my four years,
At mercy of the hateful: every beast
O' the field was wont to break that fountain-fence,
Trample the silver into mud so murk
Heaven could not find itself reflected there.
Now they cry "Out on her, who, plashy pool,
"Bequeathed turbidity and bitterness
"To the daughter-stream where Guido dipt and drank!"
Well, since she had to bear this brand—let me!
The rather do I understand her now,
From my experience of what hate calls love,—
Much love might be in what their love called hate.
If she sold … what they call, sold … me her child—
I shall believe she hoped in her poor heart
That I at least might try be good and pure,
Begin to live untempted, not go doomed
And done with ere once found in fault, as she.
Oh and, my mother, it all came to this?
Why should I trust those that speak ill of you,
When I mistrust who speaks even well of them?
Why, since all bound to do me good, did harm,
May not you, seeming as you harmed me most,
Have meant to do most good—and feed your child
From bramble-bush, whom not one orchard-tree
But drew bough back from, nor let one fruit fall?
This it was for you sacrificed your babe?
Gained just this, giving your heart's hope away
As I might give mine, loving it as you,
If … but that never could be asked of me!

There, enough! I have my support again,
Again the knowledge that my babe was, is,
Will be mine only. Him, by death, I give
Outright to God, without a further care,—
But not to any parent in the world,—
So to be safe: why is it we repine?
What guardianship were safer could we choose?
All human plans and projects come to nought:
My life, and what I know of other lives,
Prove that: no plan nor project! God shall care!

And now you are not tired? How patient then
All of you,—Oh yes, patient this long while
Listening, and understanding, I am sure!
Four days ago, when I was sound and well
And like to live, no one would understand.
People were kind, but smiled "And what of him,
"Your friend, whose tonsure the rich dark-brown hides?
"There, there!—your lover, do we dream he was?
"A priest too—never were such naughtiness!
"Still, he thinks many a long think, never fear,
"After the shy pale lady,—lay so light
"For a moment in his arms, the lucky one!"
And so on: wherefore should I blame you much?
So we are made, such difference in minds,
Such difference too in eyes that see the minds!
That man, you misinterpret and misprise—
The glory of his nature, I had thought,
Shot itself out in white light, blazed the truth
Through every atom of his act with me:
Yet where I point you, through the crystal shrine,
Purity in quintessence, one dew-drop,
You all descry a spider in the midst.
One says "The head of it is plain to see,"
And one, "They are the feet by which I judge,"
All say, "Those films were spun by nothing else."

Then, I must lay my babe away with God,
Nor think of him again, for gratitude.
Yes, my last breath shall wholly spend itself
In one attempt more to disperse the stain,
The mist from other breath fond mouths have made,
About a lustrous and pellucid soul:
So that, when I am gone but sorrow stays,
And people need assurance in their doubt
If God yet have a servant, man a friend,
The weak a saviour and the vile a foe,—
Let him be present, by the name invoked,
Giuseppe-Maria Caponsacchi!

There,
Strength comes already with the utterance!
I will remember once more for his sake
The sorrow: for he lives and is belied.
Could he be here, how he would speak for me!
I had been miserable three drear years
In that dread palace and lay passive now,
When I first learned there could be such a man.
Thus it fell: I was at a public play,
In the last days of Carnival last March,
Brought there I knew not why, but now know well.
My husband put me where I sat, in front;
Then crouched down, breathed cold through me from behind,
Stationed i' the shadow,—none in front could see,—
I, it was, faced the stranger-throng beneath,
The crowd with upturned faces, eyes one stare,
Voices one buzz. I looked but to the stage,
Whereon two lovers sang and interchanged
"True life is only love, love only bliss:
"I love thee—thee I love!" then they embraced.
I looked thence to the ceiling and the walls,—
Over the crowd, those voices and those eyes,—
My thoughts went through the roof and out, to Rome
On wings of music, waft of measured words,—
Set me down there, a happy child again
Sure that to-morrow would be festa-day,
Hearing my parents praise past festas more,
And seeing they were old if I was young,
Yet wondering why they still would end discourse
With "We must soon go, you abide your time,
"And,—might we haply see the proper friend
"Throw his arm over you and make you safe!"

Sudden I saw him; into my lap there fell
A foolish twist of comfits, broke my dream
And brought me from the air and laid me low,
As ruined as the soaring bee that's reached
(So Pietro told me at the Villa once)
By the dust-handful. There the comfits lay:
I looked to see who flung them, and I faced
This Caponsacchi, looking up in turn.
Ere I could reason out why, I felt sure,
Whoever flung them, his was not the hand,—
Up rose the round face and good-natured grin
Of one who, in effect, had played the prank,
From covert close beside the earnest face,—
Fat waggish Conti, friend of all the world.
He was my husband's cousin, privileged
To throw the thing: the other, silent, grave,
Solemn almost, saw me, as I saw him.

There is a psalm Don Celestine recites,
"Had I a dove's wings, how I fain would flee!"
The psalm runs not "I hope, I pray for wings,"—
Not "If wings fall from heaven, I fix them fast,"—
Simply "How good it were to fly and rest,
"Have hope now, and one day expect content!
"How well to do what I shall never do!"
So I said "Had there been a man like that,
"To lift me with his strength out of all strife
"Into the calm, how I could fly and rest!
"I have a keeper in the garden here
"Whose sole employment is to strike me low
"If ever I, for solace, seek the sun.
"Life means with me successful feigning death,
"Lying stone-like, eluding notice so,
"Forgoing here the turf and there the sky.
"Suppose that man had been instead of this!"

Presently Conti laughed into my ear,
—Had tripped up to the raised place where I sat—
"Cousin, I flung them brutishly and hard!
"Because you must be hurt, to look austere
"As Caponsacchi yonder, my tall friend
"A-gazing now. Ah, Guido, you so close?
"Keep on your knees, do! Beg her to forgive!
"My cornet battered like a cannon-ball.
"Good-bye, I'm gone!"—nor waited the reply.

That night at supper, out my husband broke,
"Why was that throwing, that buffoonery?
"Do you think I am your dupe? What man would dare
"Throw comfits in a stranger lady's lap?
"'T was knowledge of you bred such insolence
"In Caponsacchi; he dared shoot the bolt,
"Using that Conti for his stalking-horse.
"How could you see him this once and no more,
"When he is always haunting hereabout
"At the street-corner or the palace-side,
"Publishing my shame and your impudence?
"You are a wanton,—I a dupe, you think?
"O Christ, what hinders that I kill her quick?"
Whereat he drew his sword and feigned a thrust.

All this, now,—being not so strange to me,
Used to such misconception day by day
And broken-in to bear,—I bore, this time,
More quietly than woman should perhaps;
Repeated the mere truth and held my tongue.

Then he said, "Since you play the ignorant,
"I shall instruct you. This amour,—commenced
"Or finished or midway in act, all's one,—
"'T is the town-talk; so my revenge shall be.
"Does he presume because he is a priest?
"I warn him that the sword I wear shall pink
"His lily-scented cassock through and through,
"Next time I catch him underneath your eaves!"
But he had threatened with the sword so oft
And, after all, not kept his promise. All
I said was "Let God save the innocent!
"Moreover death is far from a bad fate.
"I shall go pray for you and me, not him;
"And then I look to sleep, come death or, worse,
"Life." So, I slept.

There may have elapsed a week,
When Margherita,—called my waiting-maid,
Whom it is said my husband found too fair—
Who stood and heard the charge and the reply,
Who never once would let the matter rest
From that night forward, but rang changes still
On this the thrust and that the shame, and how
Good cause for jealousy cures jealous fools,
And what a paragon was this same priest
She talked about until I stopped my ears,—
She said, "A week is gone; you comb your hair,
"Then go mope in a corner, cheek on palm,
"Till night comes round again,—so, waste a week
"As if your husband menaced you in sport.
"Have not I some acquaintance with his tricks?
"Oh no, he did not stab the serving-man
"Who made and sang the rhymes about me once!
"For why? They sent him to the wars next day.
"Nor poisoned he the foreigner, my friend
"Who wagered on the whiteness of my breast,—
"The swarth skins of our city in dispute:
"For, though he paid me proper compliment,
"The Count well knew he was besotted with
"Somebody else, a skin as black as ink,
"(As all the town knew save my foreigner)
"He found and wedded presently,—'Why need
"'Better revenge?'—the Count asked. But what's here?
"A priest that does not fight, and cannot wed,
"Yet must be dealt with! If the Count took fire
"For the poor pastime of a minute,—me
"What were the conflagration for yourself,
"Countess and lady-wife and all the rest?
"The priest will perish; you will grieve too late:
"So shall the city-ladies' handsomest
"Frankest and liberalest gentleman
"Die for you, to appease a scurvy dog
"Hanging's too good for. Is there no escape?
"Were it not simple Christian charity
"To warn the priest be on his guard,—save him
"Assured death, save yourself from causing it?
"I meet him in the street. Give me a glove,
"A ring to show for token! Mum's the word!"

I answered "If you were, as styled, my maid,
"I would command you: as you are, you say,
"My husband's intimate,—assist his wife
"Who can do nothing but entreat 'Be still!'
"Even if you speak truth and a crime is planned,
"Leave help to God as I am forced to do!
"There is no other help, or we should craze,
"Seeing such evil with no human cure.
"Reflect that God, who makes the storm desist,
"Can make an angry violent heart subside.
"Why should we venture teach Him governance?
"Never address me on this subject more!"

Next night she said "But I went, all the same,
"—Ay, saw your Caponsacchi in his house,
"And come back stuffed with news I must outpour.
"I told him 'Sir, my mistress is a stone:
"'Why should you harm her for no good you get?
"'For you do harm her—prowl about our place
"'With the Count never distant half the street,
"'Lurking at every corner, would you look!
"T is certain she has witched you with a spell.
"'Are there not other beauties at your beck?
"'We all know, Donna This and Monna That
"'Die for a glance of yours, yet here you gaze!
"'Go make them grateful, leave the stone its cold!'
"And he—oh, he turned first white and then red,
"And then—'To her behest I bow myself,
"'Whom I love with my body and my soul:
"'Only a word i' the bowing! See, I write
"'One little word, no harm to see or hear!
"'Then, fear no further!' This is what he wrote.
"I know you cannot read,—therefore, let me!
"'My idol!'" …

But I took it from her hand
And tore it into shreds. "Why, join the rest
"Who harm me? Have I ever done you wrong?
"People have told me 't is you wrong myself:
"Let it suffice I either feel no wrong
"Or else forgive it,—yet you turn my foe!
"The others hunt me and you throw a noose!"

She muttered "Have your wilful way!" I slept.

Whereupon … no, I leave my husband out
It is not to do him more hurt, I speak.
Let it suffice, when misery was most,
One day, I swooned and got a respite so.
She stooped as I was slowly coming to,
This Margherita, ever on my trace,
And whispered—"Caponsacchi!"

If I drowned,
But woke afloat i' the wave with upturned eyes,
And found their first sight was a star! I turned—
For the first time, I let her have her will,
Heard passively,—"The imposthume at such head,
"One touch, one lancet-puncture would relieve,—
"And still no glance the good physician's way
"Who rids you of the torment in a trice!
"Still he writes letters you refuse to hear.
"He may prevent your husband, kill himself,
"So desperate and all fordone is he!
"Just hear the pretty verse he made to-day!
"A sonnet from Mirtillo. 'Peerless fair …'
"All poetry is difficult to read,
"—The sense of it is, anyhow, he seeks
"Leave to contrive you an escape from hell,
"And for that purpose asks an interview.
"I can write, I can grant it in your name,
"Or, what is better, lead you to his house.
"Your husband dashes you against the stones;
"This man would place each fragment in a shrine:
"You hate him, love your husband!"

I returned
"It is not true I love my husband,—no,
"Nor hate this man. I listen while you speak,
"—Assured that what you say is false, the same:
"Much as when once, to me a little child,
"A rough gaunt man in rags, with eyes on fire,
"A crowd of boys and idlers at his heels,
"Rushed as I crossed the Square, and held my head
"In his two hands, 'Here's she will let me speak!
"'You little girl, whose eyes do good to mine,
"'I am the Pope, am Sextus, now the Sixth;
"'And that Twelfth Innocent, proclaimed to-day,
"'Is Lucifer disguised in human flesh!
"'The angels, met in conclave, crowned me!'—thus
"He gibbered and I listened; but I knew
"All was delusion, ere folk interposed
"'Unfasten him, the maniac!' Thus I know
"All your report of Caponsacchi false,
"Folly or dreaming; I have seen so much
"By that adventure at the spectacle,
"The face I fronted that one first, last time:
"He would belie it by such words and thoughts.
"Therefore while you profess to show him me,
"I ever see his own face. Get you gone!"

"—That will I, nor once open mouth again,—
"No, by Saint Joseph and the Holy Ghost!
"On your head be the damage, so adieu!"
And so more days, more deeds I must forget,
Till … what a strange thing now is to declare!
Since I say anything, say all if true!
And how my life seems lengthened as to serve!
It may be idle or inopportune,
But, true?—why, what was all I said but truth,
Even when I found that such as are untrue
Could only take the truth in through a lie?
NowI am speaking truth to the Truth's self:
God will lend credit to my words this time.

It had got half through April. I arose
One vivid daybreak,—who had gone to bed
In the old way my wont those last three years,
Careless until, the cup drained, I should die.
The last sound in my ear, the over-night,
Had been a something let drop on the sly
In prattle by Margherita, "Soon enough
"Gaieties end, now Easter's past: a week,
"And the Archbishop gets him back to Rome,—
"Everyone leaves the town for Rome, this Spring,—
"Even Caponsacchi, out of heart and hope,
"Resigns himself and follows with the flock."
I heard this drop and drop like rain outside
Fast-falling through the darkness while she spoke:
So had I heard with like indifference,
"And Michael's pair of wings will arrive first
"At Rome, to introduce the company,
"And bear him from our picture where he fights
"Satan,—expect to have that dragon loose
"And never a defender!"—my sole thought
Being still, as night came, "Done, another day!
"How good to sleep and so get nearer death!"—
When, what, first thing at daybreak, pierced the sleep
With a summons to me? Up I sprang alive,
Light in me, light without me, everywhere
Change! A broad yellow sunbeam was let fall
From heaven to earth,—a sudden drawbridge lay,
Along which marched a myriad merry motes,
Mocking the flies that crossed them and recrossed
In rival dance, companions new-born too.
On the house-eaves, a dripping shag of weed
Shook diamonds on each dull grey lattice-square,
As first one, then another bird leapt by,
And light was off, and lo was back again,
Always with one voice,—where are two such joys?—
The blessed building-sparrow! I stepped forth,
Stood on the terrace,—o'er the roofs, such sky!
My heart sang, "I too am to go away,
"I too have something I must care about,
"Carry away with me to Rome, to Rome!
"The bird brings hither sticks and hairs and wool,
"And nowhere else i' the world; what fly breaks rank,
"Falls out of the procession that befits,
"From window here to window there, with all
"The world to choose,—so well he knows his course?
"I have my purpose and my motive too,
"My march to Rome, like any bird or fly!
"Had I been dead! How right to be alive!
"Last night I almost prayed for leave to die,
"Wished Guido all his pleasure with the sword
"Or the poison,—poison, sword, was but a trick,
"Harmless, may God forgive him the poor jest!
"My life is charmed, will last till I reach Rome!
"Yesterday, but for the sin,—ah, nameless be
"The deed I could have dared against myself!
"Now—see if I will touch an unripe fruit,
"And risk the health I want to have and use!
"Not to live, now, would be the wickedness,—
"For life means to make haste and go to Rome
"And leave Arezzo, leave all woes at once!"

Now, understand here, by no means mistake!
Long ago had I tried to leave that house
When it seemed such procedure would stop sin;
And still failed more the more I tried—at first
The Archbishop, as I told you,—next, our lord
The Governor,—indeed I found my way,
I went to the great palace where he rules,
Though I knew well 't was he who,—when I gave
A jewel or two, themselves had given me,
Back to my parents,—since they wanted bread,
They who had never let me want a nosegay,—he
Spoke of the jail for felons, if they kept
What was first theirs, then mine, so doubly theirs,
Though all the while my husband's most of all!
I knew well who had spoke the word wrought this:
Yet, being in extremity, I fled
To the Governor, as I say,—scarce opened lip
When—the cold cruel snicker close behind
Guido was on my trace, already there,
Exchanging nod and wink for shrug and smile,
And I—pushed back to him and, for my pains
Paid with … but why remember what is past?
I sought out a poor friar the people call
The Roman, and confessed my sin which came
Of their sin,—that fact could not be repressed,—
The frightfulness of my despair in God:
And, feeling, through the grate, his horror shake,
Implored him, "Write for me who cannot write,
"Apprise my parents, make them rescue me!
"You bid me be courageous and trust God:
"Do you in turn dare somewhat, trust and write
"'Dear friends, who used to be my parents once,
"'And now declare you have no part in me,
"'This is some riddle I want wit to solve,
"'Since you must love me with no difference.
"'Even suppose you altered,—there's your hate,
"'To ask for: hate of you two dearest ones
"'I shall find liker love than love found here,
"'If husbands love their wives. Take me away
"'And hate me as you do the gnats and fleas,
"'Even the scorpions! How I shall rejoice!'
"Write that and save me!" And he promised—wrote
Or did not write; things never changed at all:
He was not like the Augustinian here!
Last, in a desperation I appealed
To friends, whoever wished me better days,
To Guillichini, that's of kin,—"What, I
"Travel to Rome with you? A flying gout
"Bids me deny my heart and mind my leg!"
Then I tried Conti, used to brave—laugh back
The louring thunder when his cousin scowled
At me protected by his presence: "You
"Who well know what you cannot save me from,—
"Carry me off! What frightens you, a priest?"
He shook his head, looked grave—"Above my strength!
"Guido has claws that scratch, shows feline teeth;
"A formidabler foe than I dare fret:
"Give me a dog to deal with, twice the size!
"Of course I am a priest and Canon too,
"But . . by the bye . . though both, not quite so bold
"As he, my fellow-Canon, brother-priest,
"The personage in such ill odour here
"Because of the reports—pure birth o' the brain!
"Our Caponsacchi, he's your true Saint George
"To slay the monster, set the Princess free,
"And have the whole High-Altar to himself:
'I always think so when I see that piece
"I' the Pieve, that's his church and mine, you know:
"Though you drop eyes at mention of his name!"

That name had got to take a half-grotesque
Half-ominous, wholly enigmatic sense,
Like any by-word, broken bit of song
Born with a meaning, changed by mouth and mouth
That mix it in a sneer or smile, as chance
Bids, till it now means nought but ugliness
And perhaps shame.

All this intends to say,
That, over-night, the notion of escape
Had seemed distemper, dreaming; and the name,—
Not the man, but the name of him, thus made
Into a mockery and disgrace,—why, she
Who uttered it persistently, had laughed,
"I name his name, and there you start and wince
"As criminal from the red tongs' touch!"—yet now,
Now, as I stood letting morn bathe me bright,
Choosing which butterfly should bear my news,—
The white, the brown one, or that tinier blue,—
The Margherita, I detested so,
In she came—"The fine day, the good Spring time!
"What, up and out at window? That is best.
"No thought of Caponsacchi?—who stood there
"All night on one leg, like the sentry crane,
"Under the pelting of your water-spout—
"Looked last look at your lattice ere he leave
"Our city, bury his dead hope at Rome.
"Ay, go to looking-glass and make you fine,
"While he may die ere touch one least loose hair
"You drag at with the comb in such a rage!"

I turned—"Tell Caponsacchi he may come!"

"Tell him to come? Ah, but, for charity,
"A truce to fooling! Come? What,—come this eve?
"Peter and Paul! But I see through the trick!
"Yes, come, and take a flower-pot on his head,
"Flung from your terrace! No joke, sincere truth?"

How plainly I perceived hell flash and fade
O' the face of her,—the doubt that first paled joy,
Then, final reassurance I indeed
Was caught now, never to be free again!
What did I care?—who felt myself of force
To play with silk, and spurn the horsehair-springe.

"But—do you know that I have bade him come,
"And in your own name? I presumed so much,
"Knowing the thing you needed in your heart.
"But somehow—what had I to show in proof?
"He would not come: half-promised, that was all,
"And wrote the letters you refused to read.
"What is the message that shall move him now?"

"After the Ave Maria, at first dark,
"I will be standing on the terrace, say!"

"I would I had a good long lock of hair
"Should prove I was not lying! Never mind!"

Off she went—"May he not refuse, that's all
"Fearing a trick!"

I answered, "He will come."
And, all day, I sent prayer like incense up
To God the strong, God the beneficent,
God ever mindful in all strife and strait,
Who, for our own good, makes the need extreme,
Till at the last He puts forth might and saves.
An old rhyme came into my head and rang
Of how a virgin, for the faith of God,
Hid herself, from the Paynims that pursued,
In a cave's heart; until a thunderstone,
Wrapped in a flame, revealed the couch and prey
And they laughed—"Thanks to lightning, ours at last!"
And she cried "Wrath of God, assert His love!
"Servant of God, thou fire, befriend His child!"
And lo, the fire she grasped at, fixed its flash,
Lay in her hand a calm cold dreadful sword
She brandished till pursuers strewed the ground,
So did the souls within them die away,
As o'er the prostrate bodies, sworded, safe,
She walked forth to the solitudes and Christ:
So should I grasp the lightning and be saved!

And still, as the day wore, the trouble grew
Whereby I guessed there would be born a star,
Until at an intense throe of the dusk,
I started up, was pushed, I dare to say,
Out on the terrace, leaned and looked at last
Where the deliverer waited me: the same
Silent and solemn face, I first descried
At the spectacle, confronted mine once more.

So was that minute twice vouchsafed me, so
The manhood, wasted then, was still at watch
To save me yet a second time: no change
Here, though all else changed in the changing world!

I spoke on the instant, as my duty bade,
In some such sense as this, whatever the phrase.

"Friend, foolish words were borne from you to me;
"Your soul behind them is the pure strong wind,
"Not dust and feathers which its breath may bear:
"These to the witless seem the wind itself,
"Since proving thus the first of it they feel.
"If by mischance you blew offence my way,
"The straws are dropt, the wind desists no whit,
"And how such strays were caught up in the street
"And took a motion from you, why inquire?
"I speak to the strong soul, no weak disguise.
"If it be truth,—why should I doubt it truth?—
"You serve God specially, as priests are bound,
"And care about me, stranger as I am,
"So far as wish my good,—that miracle
"I take to intimate He wills you serve
"By saving me,—what else can He direct?
"Here is the service. Since a long while now,
"I am in course of being put to death:
"While death concerned nothing but me, I bowed
"The head and bade, in heart, my husband strike.
"Now I imperil something more, it seems,
"Something that's truelier me than this myself,
"Something I trust in God and you to save.
"You go to Rome, they tell me: take me there,
"Put me back with my people!"

He replied—
The first word I heard ever from his lips,
All himself in it,—an eternity
Of speech, to match the immeasurable depth
O' the soul that then broke silence—"I am yours."

So did the star rise, soon to lead my step,
Lead on, nor pause before it should stand still
Above the House o' the Babe,—my babe to be,
That knew me first and thus made me know him,
That had his right of life and claim on mine,
And would not let me die till he was born,
But pricked me at the heart to save us both,
Saying "Have you the will? Leave God the way!"
And the way was Caponsacchi—"mine," thank God!
He was mine, he is mine, he will be mine.

No pause i' the leading and the light! I know,
Next night there was a cloud came, and not he:
But I prayed through the darkness till it broke
And let him shine. The second night, he came.

"The plan is rash; the project desperate:
"In such a flight needs must I risk your life,
"Give food for falsehood, folly or mistake,
"Ground for your husband's rancour and revenge"—
So he began again, with the same face.
I felt that, the same loyalty—one star
Turning now red that was so white before—
One service apprehended newly: just
A word of mine and there the white was back!

"No, friend, for you will take me! 'T is yourself
"Risk all, not I,—who let you, for I trust
"In the compensating great God: enough!
"I know you: when is it that you will come?"

"To-morrow at the day's dawn." Then I heard
What I should do: how to prepare for flight
And where to fly.

That night my husband bade
"—You, whom I loathe, beware you break my sleep
"This whole night! Couch beside me like the corpse
"I would you were!" The rest you know, I think—
How I found Caponsacchi and escaped.

And this man, men call sinner? Jesus Christ!
Of whom men said, with mouths Thyself mad'st once,
"He hath a devil"—say he was Thy saint,
My Caponsacchi! Shield and show—unshroud
In Thine own time the glory of the soul
If aught obscure,—if ink-spot, from vile pens
Scribbling a charge against him—(I was glad
Then, for the first time, that I could not write)—
Flirted his way, have flecked the blaze!

For me,
'T is otherwise: let men take, sift my thoughts
—Thoughts I throw like the flax for sun to bleach!
I did pray, do pray, in the prayer shall die,
"Oh, to have Caponsacchi for my guide!"
Ever the face upturned to mine, the hand
Holding my hand across the world,—a sense
That reads, as only such can read, the mark
God sets on woman, signifying so
She should—shall peradventure—be divine;
Yet 'ware, the while, how weakness mars the print
And makes confusion, leaves the thing men see,
—Not this man sees,—who from his soul, re-writes
The obliterated charter,—love and strength
Mending what's marred. "So kneels a votarist,
"Weeds some poor waste traditionary plot
"Where shrine once was, where temple yet may be,
"Purging the place but worshipping the while,
"By faith and not by sight, sight clearest so,—
"Such way the saints work,"—says Don Celestine.
But I, not privileged to see a saint
Of old when such walked earth with crown and palm,
If I call "saint" what saints call something else—
The saints must bear with me, impute the fault
To a soul i' the bud, so starved by ignorance,
Stinted of warmth, it will not blow this year
Nor recognize the orb which Spring-flowers know.
But if meanwhile some insect with a heart
Worth floods of lazy music, spendthrift joy—
Some fire-fly renounced Spring for my dwarfed cup,
Crept close to me, brought lustre for the dark,
Comfort against the cold,—what though excess
Of comfort should miscall the creature—sun?
What did the sun to hinder while harsh hands
Petal by petal, crude and colourless,
Tore me? This one heart gave me all the Spring!
Is all told? There's the journey: and where's time
To tell you how that heart burst out in shine?
Yet certain points do press on me too hard.
Each place must have a name, though I forget:
How strange it was—there where the plain begins
And the small river mitigates its flow—
When eve was fading fast, and my soul sank,
And he divined what surge of bitterness,
In overtaking me, would float me back
Whence I was carried by the striding day
So,—"This grey place was famous once," said he—
And he began that legend of the place
As if in answer to the unspoken fear,
And told me all about a brave man dead,
Which lifted me and let my soul go on!
How did he know too,—at that town's approach
By the rock-side,—that in coming near the signs
Of life, the house-roofs and the church and tower,
I saw the old boundary and wall o' the world
Rise plain as ever round me, hard and cold,
As if the broken circlet joined again,
Tightened itself about me with no break,—
As if the town would turn Arezzo's self,—
The husband there,—the friends my enemies,
All ranged against me, not an avenue
To try, but would be blocked and drive me back
On him,—this other, … oh the heart in that!
Did not he find, bring, put into my arms
A new-born babe?—and I saw faces beam
Of the young mother proud to teach me joy,
And gossips round expecting my surprise
At the sudden hole through earth that lets in heaven.
I could believe himself by his strong will
Had woven around me what I thought the world
We went along in, every circumstance,
Towns, flowers and faces, all things helped so well!
For, through the journey, was it natural
Such comfort should arise from first to last?
As I look back, all is one milky way;
Still bettered more, the more remembered, so
Do new stars bud while I but search for old,
And fill all gaps i' the glory, and grow him—
Him I now see make the shine everywhere.
Even at the last when the bewildered flesh,
The cloud of weariness about my soul
Clogging too heavily, sucked down all sense,—
Still its last voice was, "He will watch and care;
"Let the strength go, I am content: he stays!"
I doubt not he did stay and care for all
From that sick minute when the head swam round,
And the eyes looked their last and died on him,
As in his arms he caught me, and, you say,
Carried me in, that tragical red eve,
And laid me where I next returned to life
In the other red of morning, two red plates
That crushed together, crushed the time between,
And are since then a solid fire to me,—
When in, my dreadful husband and the world
Broke,—and I saw him, master, by hell's right,
And saw my angel helplessly held back
By guards that helped the malice—the lamb prone,
The serpent towering and triumphant—then
Came all the strength back in a sudden swell,
I did for once see right, do right, give tongue
The adequate protest: for a worm must turn
If it would have its wrong observed by God.
I did spring up, attempt to thrust aside
That ice-block 'twixt the sun and me, lay low
The neutralizer of all good and truth.
If I sinned so,—never obey voice more
O' the Just and Terrible, who bids us—"Bear!"
Not—"Stand by, bear to see my angels bear!"
I am clear it was on impulse to serve God
Not save myself,—no—nor my child unborn!
Had I else waited patiently till now?—
Who saw my old kind parents, silly-sooth
And too much trustful, for their worst of faults,
Cheated, brow-beaten, stripped and starved, cast out
Into the kennel: I remonstrated,
Then sank to silence, for,—their woes at end,
Themselves gone,—only I was left to plague.
If only I was threatened and belied,
What matter? I could bear it and did bear;
It was a comfort, still one lot for all:
They were not persecuted for my sake
And I, estranged, the single happy one.
But when at last, all by myself I stood
Obeying the clear voice which bade me rise,
Not for my own sake but my babe unborn,
And take the angel's hand was sent to help—
And found the old adversary athwart the path
Not my hand simply struck from the angel's, but
The very angel's self made foul i' the face
By the fiend who struck there,—that I would not bear,
That only I resisted! So, my first
And last resistance was invincible.
Prayers move God; threats, and nothing else, move men!
I must have prayed a man as he were God
When I implored the Governor to right
My parents' wrongs: the answer was a smile.
The Archbishop,—did I clasp his feet enough,
Hide my face hotly on them, while I told
More than I dared make my own mother know?
The profit was—compassion and a jest.
This time, the foolish prayers were done with, right
Used might, and solemnized the sport at once.
All was against the combat: vantage, mine?
The runaway avowed, the accomplice-wife,
In company with the plan-contriving priest?
Yet, shame thus rank and patent, I struck, bare,
At foe from head to foot in magic mail,
And off it withered, cobweb-armoury
Against the lightning! 'T was truth singed the lies
And saved me, not the vain sword nor weak speech!

You see, I will not have the service fail!
I say, the angel saved me: I am safe!
Others may want and wish, I wish nor want
One point o' the circle plainer, where I stand
Traced round about with white to front the world.
What of the calumny I came across,
What o' the way to the end?—the end crowns all.
The judges judged aright i' the main, gave me
The uttermost of my heart's desire, a truce
From torture and Arezzo, balm for hurt,
With the quiet nuns,—God recompense the good!
Who said and sang away the ugly past.
And, when my final fortune was revealed,
What safety while, amid my parents' arms,
My babe was given me! Yes, he saved my babe:
It would not have peeped forth, the bird-like thing,
Through that Arezzo noise and trouble: back
Had it returned nor ever let me see!
But the sweet peace cured all, and let me live
And give my bird the life among the leaves
God meant him! Weeks and months of quietude,
I could lie in such peace and learn so much—
Begin the task, I see how needful now,
Of understanding somewhat of my past,—
Know life a little, I should leave so soon.
Therefore, because this man restored my soul,
All has been right; I have gained my gain, enjoyed
As well as suffered,—nay, got foretaste too
Of better life beginning where this ends—
All through the breathing-while allowed me thus,
Which let good premonitions reach my soul
Unthwarted, and benignant influence flow
And interpenetrate and change my heart,
Uncrossed by what was wicked,—nay, unkind.
For, as the weakness of my time drew nigh,
Nobody did me one disservice more,
Spoke coldly or looked strangely, broke the love
I lay in the arms of, till my boy was born,
Born all in love, with nought to spoil the bliss
A whole long fortnight: in a life like mine
A fortnight filled with bliss is long and much.
All women are not mothers of a boy,
Though they live twice the length of my whole life,
And, as they fancy, happily all the same.
There I lay, then, all my great fortnight long,
As if it would continue, broaden out
Happily more and more, and lead to heaven:
Christmas before me,—was not that a chance?
I never realized God's birth before—
How He grew likest God in being born.
This time I felt like Mary, had my babe
Lying a little on my breast like hers.
So all went on till, just four days ago—
The night and the tap.

Oh it shall be success
To the whole of our poor family! My friends
… Nay, father and mother,—give me back my word!
They have been rudely stripped of life, disgraced
Like children who must needs go clothed too fine,
Carry the garb of Carnival in Lent.
If they too much affected frippery,
They have been punished and submit themselves,
Say no word: all is over, they see God
Who will not be extreme to mark their fault
Or He had granted respite: they are safe.
For that most woeful man my husband once,
Who, needing respite, still draws vital breath,
I—pardon him? So far as lies in me,
I give him for his good the life he takes,
Praying the world will therefore acquiesce.
Let him make God amends,—none, none to me
Who thank him rather that, whereas strange fate
Mockingly styled him husband and me wife,
Himself this way at least pronounced divorce,
Blotted the marriage-bond: this blood of mine
Flies forth exultingly at any door,
Washes the parchment white, and thanks the blow.
We shall not meet in this world nor the next,
But where will God be absent? In His face
Is light, but in His shadow healing too:
Let Guido touch the shadow and be healed!
And as my presence was importunate,—
My earthly good, temptation and a snare,—
Nothing about me but drew somehow down
His hate upon me,—somewhat so excused
Therefore, since hate was thus the truth of him,—
May my evanishment for evermore
Help further to relieve the heart that cast
Such object of its natural loathing forth!
So he was made; he nowise made himself:
I could not love him, but his mother did.
His soul has never lain beside my soul
But for the unresisting body.—thanks!
He burned that garment spotted by the flesh.
Whatever he touched is rightly ruined: plague
It caught, and disinfection it had craved
Still but for Guido; I am saved through him
So as by fire; to him—thanks and farewell!

Even for my babe, my boy, there's safety thence—
From the sudden death of me, I mean: we poor
Weak souls, how we endeavour to be strong!
I was already using up my life,—
This portion, now, should do him such a good,
This other go to keep off such an ill!
The great life; see, a breath and it is gone!
So is detached, so left all by itself
The little life, the fact which means so much.
Shall not God stoop the kindlier to His work,
His marvel of creation, foot would crush,
Now that the hand He trusted to receive
And hold it, lets the treasure fall perforce?
The better; He shall have in orphanage
His own way all the clearlier: if my babe
Outlived the hour—and he has lived two weeks—
It is through God who knows I am not by.
Who is it makes the soft gold hair turn black,
And sets the tongue, might lie so long at rest,
Trying to talk? Let us leave God alone!
Why should I doubt He will explain in time
What I feel now, but fail to find the words?
My babe nor was, nor is, nor yet shall be
Count Guido Franceschini's child at all
Only his mother's, born of love not hate!
So shall I have my rights in after-time.
It seems absurd, impossible to-day;
So seems so much else, not explained but known!

Ah! Friends, I thank and bless you every one!
No more now: I withdraw from earth and man
To my own soul, compose myself for God.

Well, and there is more! Yes, my end of breath
Shall bear away my soul in being true!
He is still here, not outside with the world,
Here, here, I have him in his rightful place!
'T is now, when I am most upon the move,
I feel for what I verily find—again
The face, again the eyes, again, through all,
The heart and its immeasurable love
Of my one friend, my only, all my own,
Who put his breast between the spears and me.
Ever with Caponsacchi! Otherwise
Here alone would be failure, loss to me
How much more loss to him, with life debarred
From giving life, love locked from love's display,
The day-star stopped its task that makes night morn!
O lover of my life, O soldier-saint,
No work begun shall ever pause for death!
Love will be helpful to me more and more
I' the coming course, the new path I must tread—
My weak hand in thy strong hand, strong for that!
Tell him that if I seem without him now,
That's the world's insight! Oh, he understands!
He is at Civita—do I once doubt
The world again is holding us apart?
He had been here, displayed in my behalf
The broad brow that reverberates the truth,
And flashed the word God gave him, back to man!
I know where the free soul is flown! My fate
Will have been hard for even him to bear:
Let it confirm him in the trust of God,
Showing how holily he dared the deed!
And, for the rest,—say, from the deed, no touch
Of harm came, but all good, all happiness,
Not one faint fleck of failure! Why explain?
What I see, oh, he sees and how much more!
Tell him,—I know not wherefore the true word
Should fade and fall unuttered at the last—
It was the name of him I sprang to meet
When came the knock, the summons and the end.
"My great heart, my strong hand are back again!"
I would have sprung to these, beckoning across
Murder and hell gigantic and distinct
O' the threshold, posted to exclude me heaven:
He is ordained to call and I to come!
Do not the dead wear flowers when dressed for God?
Say,—I am all in flowers from head to foot!
Say,—not one flower of all he said and did,
Might seem to flit unnoticed, fade unknown,
But dropped a seed, has grown a balsam-tree
Whereof the blossoming perfumes the place
At this supreme of moments! He is a priest;
He cannot marry therefore, which is right:
I think he would not marry if he could.
Marriage on earth seems such a counterfeit,
Mere imitation of the inimitable:
In heaven we have the real and true and sure.
'T is there they neither marry nor are given
In marriage but are as the angels: right,
Oh how right that is, how like Jesus Christ
To say that! Marriage-making for the earth,
With gold so much,—birth, power, repute so much,
Or beauty, youth so much, in lack of these!
Be as the angels rather, who, apart,
Know themselves into one, are found at length
Married, but marry never, no, nor give
In marriage; they are man and wife at once
When the true time is: here we have to wait
Not so long neither! Could we by a wish
Have what we will and get the future now,
Would we wish aught done undone in the past?
So, let him wait God's instant men call years;
Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul,
Do out the duty! Through such souls alone
God stooping shows sufficient of His light
For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise.

poem by from The Ring and the BookReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

This 'Rose' Will Be Ever Beautiful!

'Rose' will be ever beautiful,
Until you prick her petals,
For the lust of your eyes,
Dont spray the aerosol of lust
Over my tender petals
Of your ever staring eyes
Enjoy my undeniable beauty,
At a far away distance from me
I'll be always gazing at you
If you keep a distance from me
Never try to touch my tenderness
I'm scared of buzz of bees like you
Never will I be giving you the honey
All that will be for ''my honey''
Soon he'll be breaking the shell
Of metamorphosis of his life for me

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Breaking Dawn

In the hush I hear you;

faint footsteps along the corridor:

refrigerator opening
in the dead of night.

In the hush
I hear milk pour
and I wait;
my face to the wall;
my mind there too.

Double Doubts
and Triple Hurts
align the staircase
and I hear them
treading up.

Where were you?

I feign sleep
to the running water
and the sound of clothes rustling
in the quiet dark.

I am still;
the stillness
of time frozen.

Your weight hits the bed
and sinks.

'I got the job, worked tonight.
Sorry didn't call.
It's not much
but it's better than no job at all.'

Outside dawn was breaking.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Missionary - Canto Second

The night was still and clear, when, o'er the snows,
Andes! thy melancholy Spirit rose,--
A shadow stern and sad: he stood alone,
Upon the topmost mountain's burning cone;
And whilst his eyes shone dim, through surging smoke,
Thus to the spirits of the fire he spoke:--

Ye, who tread the hidden deeps,
Where the silent earthquake sleeps;
Ye, who track the sulphurous tide,
Or on hissing vapours ride,--
Spirits, come!
From worlds of subterraneous night;
From fiery realms of lurid light;
From the ore's unfathomed bed;
From the lava's whirlpools red,--
Spirits, come!
On Chili's foes rush with vindictive sway,
And sweep them from the light of living day!
Heard ye not the ravenous brood,
That flap their wings, and scream for blood?
On Peru's devoted shore
Their murderous beaks are red with gore;
Yet here, impatient for new prey,
The insatiate vultures track their way.
Let them perish! they, whose bands
Swept remote and peaceful lands!
Let them perish!--on their head,
Descend the darkness of the dead!
Spirits, now your caves forsake:
Hark! ten thousand warriors wake!--
Spirits, their high cause defend!--
From your caves ascend! ascend!

As thus the Genius of the Andes spoke,
The trembling mountain heaved with darker smoke;
Lightnings, and phantom-forms, by fits appeared;
His mighty voice far off Osorno heard;
The caverned deeps shook through their vast profound,
And Chimborazzo's height rolled back the sound.
With lifted arm, and towering stature high,
And aspect frowning to the middle sky
(Its misty form dilated in the wind),
The phantom stood,--till, less and less defined,
Into thin air it faded from the sight,
Lost in the ambient haze of slow-returning light.
Its feathery-seeming crown, its giant spear,
Its limbs of huge proportion, disappear;
And the bare mountains to the dawn disclose
The same long line of solitary snows.
The morning shines, the military train
Streams far and wide along the tented plain;
And plaited cuirasses, and helms of steel,
Throw back the sunbeams, as the horsemen wheel:
Thus, with arms glancing to the eastern light,
Pass, in review, proud steeds and cohorts bright;
For all the host, by break of morrow's gray,
Wind back their march to Penco's northern bay,
Valdivia, fearful lest confederate foes,
Ambushed and dark, his progress might oppose,
Marshals to-day the whole collected force,
File and artillery, cuirassier and horse:
Himself yet lingers ere he joins the train,
That moves, in ordered march, along the plain,
While troops, and Indian slaves beneath his eye,
The labours of the rising city ply:
Wide glows the general toil; the mole extends,
The watch-tower o'er the desert surge ascends;
And battlements, and rising ramparts, shine
Above the ocean's blue and level line.
The sun ascended to meridian height,
And all the northern bastions shone in light;
With hoarse acclaim, the gong and trumpet rung,
The Moorish slaves aloft their cymbals swung,
When the proud victor, in triumphant state,
Rode forth, in arms, through the portcullis' gate.
With neck high-arching as he smote the ground,
And restless pawing to the trumpet's sound,--
With mantling mane, o'er his broad shoulders spread,
And nostrils blowing, and dilated red,--
The coal-black steed, in rich caparison
Far trailing to the ground, went proudly on.
Proudly he tramped, as conscious of his charge,
And turned around his eye-balls, bright and large,
And shook the frothy boss, as in disdain;
And tossed the flakes, indignant, off his mane;
And, with high-swelling veins, exulting pressed
Proudly against the barb his heaving breast.
The fate of empires glowing in his thought,
Thus armed, the tented field Valdivia sought.
On the left side his poised shield he bore,
With quaint devices richly blazoned o'er;
Above the plumes, upon his helmet's cone,
Castile's imperial crest illustrious shone;
Blue in the wind the escutcheoned mantle flowed,
O'er the chained mail, which tinkled as he rode.
The barred vizor raised, you might discern
His clime-changed countenance, though pale, yet stern,
And resolute as death,--whilst in his eye
Sat proud Assurance, Fame, and Victory.
Lautaro, now in manhood's rising pride,
Rode, with a lance, attendant at his side,
In Spanish mantle gracefully arrayed;
Upon his brow a tuft of feathers played:
His glossy locks, with dark and mantling grace,
Shaded the noonday sunbeams on his face.
Though passed in tears the dayspring of his youth,
Valdivia loved his gratitude and truth:
He, in Valdivia, owned a nobler friend;
Kind to protect, and mighty to defend.
So, on he rode; upon his youthful mien
A mild but sad intelligence was seen;
Courage was on his open brow, yet care
Seemed like a wandering shade to linger there;
And though his eye shone, as the eagle's, bright,
It beamed with humid, melancholy light
When now Valdivia saw the embattled line,
Helmets, and swords, and shields, and matchlocks, shine;
Now the long phalanx still and steady stand,
Fixed every eye, and motionless each hand;
Then slowly clustering, into columns wheel,
Each with the red-cross banners of Castile;
While trumps, and drums, and cymbals, to his ear
Made music such as soldiers love to hear;
While horsemen checked their steeds, or, bending low
With levelled lances, o'er the saddle-bow,
Rode gallantly at tilt; and thunders broke,
Instant involving van and rear in smoke,
Till winds the obscuring volume rolled away,
And the red file, stretched out in long array,
More radiant moved beneath the beams of day;
While ensigns, arms, and crosses, glittered bright,--
Philip! he cried, seest thou the glorious sight?
And dost thou deem the tribes of this poor land
Can men, and arms, and steeds, like these, withstand?
Forgive!--the youth replied, and checked a tear,--
The land where my forefathers sleep is dear!--
My native land!--this spot of blessed earth,
The scene where I, and all I love, had birth!
What gratitude fidelity can give
Is yours, my lord!--you shielded--bade me live,
When, in the circuit of the world so wide,
I had but one, one only friend beside.
I bowed resigned to fate; I kissed the hand,
Red with the best blood of my father's land!
But mighty as thou art, Valdivia, know,
Though Cortes' desolating march laid low
The shrines of rich, voluptuous Mexico;
With carcases, though proud Pizarro strew
The Sun's imperial temple in Peru,
Yet the rude dwellers of this land are brave,
And the last spot they lose will be their grave!
A moment's crimson crossed Valdivia's cheek--
Then o'er the plain he spurred, nor deigned to speak,
Waving the youth, at distance, to retire;
None saw the eye that shot terrific fire.
As their commander sternly rode along,
Troop after troop, halted the martial throng;
And all the pennoned trumps a louder blast
Blew, as the Southern World's great victor passed.
Lautaro turned, scarce heeding, from the view,
And from the noise of trumps and drums withdrew;
And now, while troubled thoughts his bosom swell,
Seeks the gray Missionary's humble cell.
Fronting the ocean, but beyond the ken
Of public view, and sounds of murmuring men,
Of unhewn roots composed, and gnarled wood,
A small and rustic oratory stood;
Upon its roof of reeds appeared a cross,
The porch within was lined with mantling moss;
A crucifix and hour-glass, on each side--
One to admonish seemed, and one to guide;
This, to impress how soon life's race is o'er;
And that, to lift our hopes where time shall be no more.
O'er the rude porch, with wild and gadding stray,
The clustering copu weaved its trellis gay;
Two mossy pines, high bending, interwove
Their aged and fantastic arms above.
In front, amid the gay surrounding flowers,
A dial counted the departing hours,
On which the sweetest light of summer shone,--
A rude and brief inscription marked the stone:
To count, with passing shade, the hours,
I placed the dial 'mid the flowers;
That, one by one, came forth, and died,
Blooming, and withering, round its side.
Mortal, let the sight impart
Its pensive moral to thy heart!
Just heard to trickle through a covert near,
And soothing, with perpetual lapse, the ear,
A fount, like rain-drops, filtered through the stone,
And, bright as amber, on the shallows shone.
Intent his fairy pastime to pursue,
And, gem-like, hovering o'er the violets blue,
The humming-bird, here, its unceasing song
Heedlessly murmured, all the summer long;
And when the winter came, retired to rest,
And from the myrtles hung its trembling nest.
No sounds of a conflicting world were near;
The noise of ocean faintly met the ear,
That seemed, as sunk to rest the noontide blast,
But dying sounds of passions that were past;
Or closing anthems, when, far off, expire
The lessening echoes of the distant choir.
Here, every human sorrow hushed to rest,
His pale hands meekly crossed upon his breast,
Anselmo sat: the sun, with westering ray,
Just touched his temples, and his locks of gray.
There was no worldly feeling in his eye;
The world to him was 'as a thing gone by.'
Now, all his features lit, he raised his look,
Then bent it thoughtful, and unclasped the book;
And whilst the hour-glass shed its silent sand,
A tame opossum licked his withered hand.
That sweetest light of slow-declining day,
Which through the trellis poured its slanting ray,
Resting a moment on his few gray hairs,
Seemed light from heaven sent down to bless his prayers.
When the trump echoed to the quiet spot,
He thought upon the world, but mourned it not;
Enough if his meek wisdom could control,
And bend to mercy, one proud soldier's soul;
Enough, if, while these distant scenes he trod,
He led one erring Indian to his God.
Whence comes my son? with kind complacent look
He asked, and closed again the embossed book.
I come to thee for peace, the youth replied:
Oh, there is strife, and cruelty, and pride,
In this sad Christian world! My native land
Was happy, ere the soldier, with his band
Of fell destroyers, like a vulture, came,
And gave its peaceful scenes to blood and flame.
When will the turmoil of earth's tempests cease?
Father, I come to thee for peace--for peace!
Seek peace, the father cried, with God above:
In His good time, all will be peace and love.
We mourn, indeed, mourn that all sounds of ill,
Earth's fairest scenes with one deep murmur fill;
That yonder sun, when evening paints the sky,
Sinks, beauteous, on a world of misery;
The course of wide destruction to withstand,
We lift our feeble voice--our trembling hand;
But still, bowed low, or smitten to the dust,
Father of mercy, still in Thee we trust!
Through good or ill, in poverty or wealth,
In joy or woe, in sickness or in health,
Meek Piety thy awful hand surveys,
And the faint murmur turns to prayer and praise!
We know--whatever evils we deplore--
Thou hast permitted, and we know no more!
Behold, illustrious on the subject plain,
Some tow'r-crowned city of imperial Spain!
Hark! 'twas the earthquake! clouds of dust alone
Ascend from earth, where tower and temple shone!
Such is the conqueror's dread path: the grave
Yawns for its millions where his banners wave;
But shall vain man, whose life is but a sigh,
With sullen acquiescence gaze and die?
Alas, how little of the mighty maze
Of Providence our mortal ken surveys!
Heaven's awful Lord, pavilioned in the clouds,
Looks through the darkness that all nature shrouds;
And, far beyond the tempest and the night,
Bids man his course hold on to scenes of endless light.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

II. The Quest Of Silence

Secreta Silvarum: Prelude

Oh yon, when Holda leaves her hill
of winter, on the quest of June,
black oaks with emerald lamplets thrill
that flicker forth to her magic tune.
At dawn the forest shivers whist
and all the hidden glades awake;
then sunshine gems the milk-white mist
and the soft-swaying branches make
along its edge a woven sound
of legends that allure and flit
and horns wound towards the enchanted ground
where, in the light moon-vapours lit,
all night, while the black woods in mass,
serried, forbid with goblin fear,
fay-revels gleam o'er the pale grass
till shrill-throats ring the matins near.
Oh there, oh there in the sweet o' the year,
adventurous in the witching green,
last feal of the errant spear,
to seek the eyes of lost Undine
clear blue above the blue cold stream
that lingers till her plaint be done,
oh, and perchance from that sad dream
to woo her, laughing, to the sun
and that glad blue that seems to flow
far up, where dipping branches lift
sidelong their soft-throng'd frondage slow
and slow the thin cloud-fleecelets drift.
Oh, there to drowse the summer thro'
deep in some odorous twilit lair,
swoon'd in delight of golden dew
within the sylvan witches hair;
the while on half-veil'd eyes to feel
the yellow sunshafts broken dim,
and seldom waftures moth-like steal
and settle, on the bare-flung limb:
or under royal autumn, pall'd
in smouldering magnificence,
to feel the olden heart enthrall'd
in wisdoms of forgotten sense,
and mad desire and pain that fill'd
red August's heart of throbbing bloom
in one grave hour of knowledge still'd
where glory ponders o'er its doom:
and, when the boughs are sombre lace
and silence chisels silver rime,
o'er some old hearth, with dim-lit face,
to dream the vanish'd forest prime,
the springtime's sweet and June's delight,
more precious now that hard winds chill
the dews that made their mornings bright,
and Holda sleeps beneath her hill.

I
What tho' the outer day be brazen rude
not here the innocence of morn is fled:
this green unbroken dusk attests it wed
with freshness, where the shadowy breasts are nude,
hers guess'd, whose looks, felt dewy-cool, elude —
save this reproach that smiles on foolish dread:
wood-word, grave gladness in its heart, unsaid,
knoweth the guarded name of Quietude.
Nor start, if satyr-shapes across the path
tumble; it is but children: lo, the wrath
couchant, heraldic, of her beasts that pierce
with ivory single horn whate'er misplaced
outrageous nears, or whinny of the fierce
Centaur, or mailed miscreant unchaste.

II
O friendly shades, where anciently I grew!
me entering at dawn a child ye knew,
all little welcoming leaves, and jealous wove
your roof of lucid emerald above,
that scarce therethro' the envious sun might stray,
save smiling dusk or, lure for idle play,
such glancing finger your chance whim allows,
all that long forenoon of the tuneful boughs;
which growing on, the myriad small noise
and flitting of the wood-life's busy joys,
thro' tenuous weft of sound, had left, divined,
the impending threat of silence, clear, behind:
and, noon now past, that hush descended large
in the wood's heart, and caught me in its marge
of luminous foreboding widely flung;
so hourlong I have stray'd, and tho' among
the glimpsing lures of all green aisles delays
that revelation of its wondrous gaze,
yet am I glad to wander, glad to seek
and find not, so the gather'd tufts bespeak,
naked, reclined, its friendly neighbourhood —
as in this hollow of the rarer wood
where, listening, in the cool glen-shade, with me,
white-bloom'd and quiet, stands a single tree;
rich spilth of gold is on the eastward rise;
westward the violet gloom eludes mine eyes.
This is the house of Pan, not whom blind craze
and babbling wood-wits tell, where bare flints blaze,
noon-tide terrific with the single shout,
but whom behind each bole sly-peering out
the traveller knows, but turning, disappear'd
with chuckle of laughter in his thicket-beard,
and rustle of scurrying faun-feet where the ground
each autumn deeper feels its yellow mound.
Onward: and lo, at length, the secret glade,
soft-gleaming grey, what time the grey trunks fade
in the white vapours o'er its further rim.
'Tis no more time to linger: now more dim
the woods are throng'd to ward the haunted spot
where, as I turn my homeward face, I wot
the nymphs of twilight have resumed, unheard,
their glimmering dance upon the glimmering sward.

III
The point of noon is past, outside: light is asleep;
brooding upon its perfect hour: the woods are deep
and solemn, fill'd with unseen presences of light
that glint, allure, and hide them; ever yet more bright
(it seems) the turn of a path will show them: nay, but rest;
seek not, and think not; dream, and know not; this is best:
the hour is full; be lost: whispering, the woods are bent,
This is the only revelation; be content.

IIII
The forest has its horrors, as the sea:
and ye that enter from the staling lea
into the early freshness kept around
the waiting trunks that watch its rarer bound,
after the glistening song that, sprinkled, leaves
an innocence upon the glancing leaves;
O ye that dream to find the morning yet
secret and chaste, beside her mirror set,
some glimmering source o'ershadow'd, where the light
is coolness felt, whom filter'd glints invite
thro' the slow-shifting green transparency;
O ye that hearken towards pale mystery
a rustle of hidden pinions, and obey
the beckoning of each little leaf asway:
return, return, or e'er to warn you back
the shadow bend along your rearward track
longer and longer from the brooding west;
return, and evening shall bosom your rest
in the warm gloom that wraps the blazing hearth:
there hear from wither'd lips long wean'd of mirth
the tale that lulls old watches; — How they rode,
brave-glittering once, where the brave morning glow'd
along the forest-edges, and were lost
for ever, where the crossing trunks are most;
and, far beyond the dim arcades of song,
where moon-mist weaves a dancing elfin throng,
and far beyond the luring glades that brood
around a maiden thought of Quietude,
the savage realm begins, of lonely dread,
black branches from the fetid marish bred
that lurks to trap the loyal careless foot,
and gaping trunks protrude a snaky root
o'er slinking paths that centre, where beneath
a sudden rock on the short blasted heath,
bare-set, a cavern lurks and holds within
its womb, obscene with some corroding sin,
coil'd on itself and stirring, a squat shade
before the entrance rusts a broken blade.
The forest hides its horrors, as the sea.

V
No emerald spring, no royal autumn-red,
no glint of morn or sullen vanquish'd day
might venture against this obscene horror's sway
blackly from the witch-blasted branches shed.
No silver bells around the bridle-head
ripple, and on no quest the pennons play:
the path's romance is shuddering disarray,
or eaten by the marsh: the knights are dead.
The Lady of the Forest was a tale:
of the white unicorns that round her sleep
gamboll'd, no turf retains a print; and man,
rare traveller, feels, athwart the knitted bale
watching, now lord of loathly deaths that creep,
maliciously the senile leer of Pan.
Fire in the heavens, and fire along the hills,
and fire made solid in the flinty stone,
thick-mass'd or scatter'd pebble, fire that fills
the breathless hour that lives in fire alone.
This valley, long ago the patient bed
of floods that carv'd its antient amplitude,
in stillness of the Egyptian crypt outspread,
endures to drown in noon-days tyrant mood.
Behind the veil of burning silence bound,
vast life's innumerous busy littleness
is hush'd in vague-conjectured blur of sound
that dulls the brain with slumbrous weight, unless
some dazzling puncture let the stridence throng
in the cicada's torture-point of song.

Peace dwells in blessing o'er a place
folded within the hills to keep
and under dark boughs seawind-frayd:
and the kind slopes where soothings creep,
in the gold light or the green shade,
wear evermore the ancient face
of silence, and the eyes of sleep;
because they are listening evermore
unto the seawinds what they tell
to the wise, nodding, indifferent trees
high on the ridge that guard the dell,
of wars on many a far grey shore
and how the shores decay and fade
before the obstinate old seas:
and all their triumphing is made
a tale that dwindles with the eves,
while the soft dusk lingers, delay'd,
and drifts between the indolent leaves.

A gray and dusty daylight flows
athwart the shatter'd traceries,
pale absence of the ruin'd rose.
Here once, on labour-harden'd knees,
beneath the kindly vaulted gloom
that gather'd them in quickening ease,
they saw the rose of heaven bloom,
alone, in heights of musky air,
with many an angel's painted plume.
So, shadowing forth their dim-felt prayer,
the daedal glass compell'd to grace
the outer days indifferent stare,
where now its disenhallow'd face
beholds the petal-ribs enclose
nought, in their web of shatter'd lace,
save this pale absence of the rose.

Breaking the desert's tawny level ring
three columns, an oasis; but no shade
falls from the curl'd acanthus-leaves; no spring
bubbles soft laughter for its leaning maid.
The cell is waste: where once the god abode
a burning desolation furls its wing:
enter, and lo! once more, the hopeless road
world-wide, the tawny desert's level ring.

Before she pass'd behind the glacier wall
that hides her white eternal sorceries
the northern witch, in clinging ermine pall,
cast one last look along the shallow seas,
a look that held them in its numbing thrall
and melted onward to the sandy leas
where our lorn city lives its lingering fall
and wistful summer shrinks in scant-clad trees.
Hence came one greyness over grass and stone:
the silent-lapping waters fade and tone
into the air and into them the land;
and all along our stagnant waterways
a drown'd and dusky gleaming sleeps, unbann'd,
the lurking twilight of her vanish'd gaze.

Out of no quarter of the charted sky
flung in the bitter wind intolerably,
abrupt, the trump that sings behind the end
exults alone. Here grass is none to bend:
the stony plain blackens with rapid night
that best reveals the land's inflicted blight
since in the smitten hero-hand the sword
broke, and the hope the long-dumb folk adored,
and over all the north a tragic flare
told Valhall perish'd and the void's despair
to dwell as erst, all disinhabited,
a vault above the heart its hungering led.
The strident clangour cuts; but space is whole,
inert, absorb'd in dead regret. Here, sole,
on the bare uplands, stands, vast thro' the gloom
staring, to mark an irretrievable doom,
the stranger stone, sphinx-couchant, thunder-hurl'd
from red star-ruin o'er the elder world.

This night is not of gentle draperies
or cluster'd banners where the star-breaths roam,
nor hangs above the torch a lurching dome
of purple shade that slips with phantom ease;
but, on our apathy encroaching, these,
stable, whose smooth defiance none hath clomb,
basalt and jade, a patience of the gnome,
polish'd and shadow-brimm'd transparencies.
Far, where our oubliette is shut, above,
we guess the ample lids that never move
beneath her brows, each massive arch inert
hung high-contemptuous o'er the blatant wars
we deem'd well waged for her, who may avert
some Janus-face that smiles on hidden stars.

Lightning: and, momently, the silhouette,
flat on the far horizon, comes and goes
of that night-haunting city; minaret,
dome, spire, all sharp while yet the levin glows.
Day knows it not; whether fierce noon-tide fuse
earth's rim with sky in throbbing haze, or clear
gray softness tinge afresh the enamell'd hues
of mead and stream, it shows no tipping spear.
Night builds it: now upon the marbled plain
a blur, discern'd lurking, ever more nigh;
now close against the walls that hem my reign
a leaguer-town, threatening my scope of sky.
So late I saw it; in a misty moon
it bulk'd, all dusky and transparent, dumb
as ever, fast in some prodigious swoon:
its battlements deserted — who might come?
— ay, one! his eyes, 'neath the high turban's plume,
watch'd mine, intent, behind the breast-high stone:
his face drew mine across the milky gloom:
a sudden moonbeam show'd it me, my own!

ONE! an iron core, shock'd and dispers'd
in throbs of sound that ebb across the bay:
I shudder: the one clang smites disarray
thro' all my sense, that starts awake, inhears'd
in the whole lifeless world: and some accurs'd
miasma steals, resumed from all decay,
where the dead tide lies flat round the green quay,
hinting what self-fordone despairs it nurs'd.
The corpse of time is stark upon the night:
my soul is coffin'd, staring, grave-bedight,
upon some dance of death that reels and feasts
around its living tomb, with vampire grin,
inverted sacraments of Satan's priests —
and, mask'd no more, the maniac face of sin.

There is a far-off thrill that troubles me:
a faint thin ripple of shadow, momently,
dies out across my lucid icy cell.
I am betrayed by winter to the spell
of morbid sleep, that somewhere rolls its waves
insidiously, gather'd from unblest graves,
to creep above each distant crumbled mole.
When that assault is full against my soul,
I must go down, thro' chapels black with mould,
past ruin'd doors, whose arches, ridged with gold,
catch, in their grooves, a gloom more blackly dript,
some stairway winding hours-long towards the crypt
where panic night lies stricken 'neath the curse
exuding from the dense enormous hearse
of some old vampire-god, whose bulk, within,
lies gross and festering in his shroud of sin.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

A Poem On The Last Day - Book II

Now man awakes, and from his silent bed,
Where he has slept for ages, lifts his head;
Shakes off the slumber of ten thousand years,
And on the borders of new worlds appears.
Whate'er the bold, the rash adventure cost,
In wide Eternity I dare be lost.

The Muse is wont in narrow bounds to sing,
To teach the swain, or celebrate the king.
I grasp the whole, no more to parts confined,
I lift my voice, and sing to human kind:
I sing to men and angels; angels join,
While such the theme, their sacred songs with mine.

Again the trumpet's intermitted sound
Rolls the wide circuit of creation round,
An universal concourse to prepare
Of all that ever breathed the vital air;
In some wide field, which active whirlwinds sweep,
Drive cities, forests, mountains to the deep,
To smooth and lengthen out the' unbounded space,
And spread an area for all human race.

Now monuments prove faithful to their trust,
And render back their long committed dust.
Now charnels rattle; scatter'd limbs, and all
The various bones, obsequious to the call,
Self-moved, advance; the neck perhaps to meet
The distant head; the distant legs, the feet.
Dreadful to view, see through the dusky sky
Fragments of bodies in confusion fly,
To distant regions journeying, there to claim
Deserted members, and complete the frame.

When the world bow'd to Rome's almighty sword,
Rome bow'd to Pompey, and confess'd her lord.
Yet, one day lost, this deity below
Became the scorn and pity of his foe.
His blood a traitor's sacrifice was made,
And smoked indignant on a ruffian's blade.
No trumpet's sound, no gasping army's yell,
Bid, with due horror, his great soul farewell.
Obscure his fall: all weltering in his gore,
His trunk was cast to perish on the shore!
While Julius frown'd the bloody monster dead,
Who brought the world in his great rival's head.
This sever'd head and trunk shall join once more,
Though realms now rise between, and oceans roar.
The trumpet's sound each vagrant-mote shall hear,
Or fix'd in earth, or if afloat in air,
Obey the signal wafted in the wind,
And not one sleeping atom lag behind.

So swarming bees, that, on a summer's day,
In airy rings and wild meanders play,
Charm'd with the brasen sound, their wanderings end,
And, gently circling, on a bough descend.

The body thus renew'd, the conscious soul,
Which has perhaps been fluttering near the pole,
Or midst the burning planets wondering stray'd,
Or hover'd o'er where her pale corpse was laid;
Or rather coasted on her final state,
And fear'd or wish'd for her appointed fate:
This soul, returning with a constant flame,
Now weds for ever her immortal frame.
Life, which ran down before, so high is wound,
The springs maintain an everlasting round.

Thus a frail model of the work design'd
First takes a copy of the builder's mind,
Before the structure firm with lasting oak,
And marble bowels of the solid rock,
Turns the strong arch, and bids the columns rise,
And bear the lofty palace to the skies;
The wrongs of Time enabled to surpass,
With bars of adamant, and ribs of brass.

That ancient, sacred, and illustrious dome,
Where soon or late fair Albion's heroes come,
From camps and courts, though great, or wise, or just,
To feed the worm, and moulder into dust;
That solemn mansion of the royal dead,
Where passing slaves o'er sleeping monarchs tread,
Now populous o'erflows: a numerous race
Of rising kings fill all the' extended space.
A life well-spent, not the victorious sword,
Awards the crown, and styles the greater lord.

Nor monuments alone, and burial earth,
Labour with man to this his second birth;
But where gay palaces in pomp arise,
And gilded theatres invade the skies,
Nations shall wake, whose unrespected bones
Support the pride of their luxurious sons.
The most magnificent and costly dome
Is but an upper chamber to a tomb.
No spot on earth but has supplied a grave,
And human skulls the spacious ocean pave.
All's full of man; and at this dreadful turn,
The swarm shall issue, and the hive shall burn.

Not all at once, nor in like manner, rise:
Some lift with pain their slow unwilling eyes;
Shrink backward from the terror of the light,
And bless the grave, and call for lasting night.
Others, whose long-attempted virtue stood
Fix'd as a rock, and broke the rushing flood;
Whose firm resolve nor beauty could melt down,
Nor raging tyrants from their posture frown:-
Such, in this day of horrors, shall be seen
To face the thunders with a godlike mien:
The planets drop, their thoughts are fix'd above;
The centre shakes, their hearts disdain to move:
An earth dissolving, and a heaven thrown wide,
A yawning gulf, and fiends on every side,
Serene they view, impatient of delay,
And bless the dawn of everlasting day.

Here greatness prostrate falls; there strength gives place:
Here lazars smile; there beauty hides her face.
Christians, and Jews, and Turks, and Pagans stand,
A blended throng, one undistinguish'd band.
Some who, perhaps, by mutual wounds expired,
With zeal for their distinct persuasions fired,
In mutual friendship their long slumber break,
And hand in hand their Saviour's love partake.

But none are flush'd with brighter joy, or, warm
With juster confidence, enjoy the storm,
Than those whose pious bounties, unconfined,
Have made them public fathers of mankind.
In that illustrious rank, what shining light
With such distinguish'd glory fills my sight?
Bend down, my grateful Muse, that homage show
Which to such worthies thou art proud to owe.
Wykeham, Fox, Chicheley! hail, illustrious names,

Who to far-distant times dispense your beams!
Beneath your shades, and near your crystal springs,
I first presumed to touch the trembling strings.
All hail, thrice-honour'd! 'Twas your great renown
To bless a people, and oblige a crown.
And now you rise, eternally to shine,
Eternally to drink the rays Divine.

Indulgent God! O how shall mortal raise
His soul to due returns of grateful praise,
For bounty so profuse to human kind,
Thy wondrous gift of an eternal mind?
Shall I, who, some few years ago, was less
Than worm, or mite, or shadow can express,-
Was nothing; shall I live, when every fire
And every star shall languish and expire?
When earth's no more, shall I survive above,
And through the radiant files of angels move?
Or, as before the throne of God I stand,
See new worlds rolling from His spacious hand,
Where our adventures shall perhaps be taught,
As we now tell how Michael sung or fought?
All that has being in full concert join,
And celebrate the depths of Love Divine!

But O! before this blissful state, before
The' aspiring soul this wondrous height can soar,
The Judge, descending, thunders from afar,
And all mankind is summon'd to the bar.

This mighty scene I next presume to draw:
Attend, great Anna, with religious awe.
Expect not here the known successful arts
To win attention, and command our hearts:
Fiction, be far away; let no machine
Descending here, no fabled God, be seen:
Behold the God of gods indeed descend,
And worlds unnumber'd His approach attend!

Lo! the wide theatre, whose ample space
Must entertain the whole of human race,
At Heaven's all-powerful edict is prepared,
And fenced around with an immortal guard.
Tribes, provinces, dominions, worlds o'erflow
The mighty plain, and deluge all below:
And every age and nation pours along;
Nimrod and Bourbon mingle in the throng;
Adam salutes his youngest son; no sign
Of all those ages which their births disjoin.

How empty learning, and how vain is art,
But as it mends the life, and guides the heart!
What volumes have been swell'd, what time been spent,
To fix a hero's birth-day or descent!
What joy must it now yield, what rapture raise,
To see the glorious race of ancient days!
To greet those worthies who perhaps have stood
Illustrious on record before the flood!
Alas! a nearer care your soul demands,
Caesar unnoted in your presence stands.

How vast the concourse! not in number more
The waves that break on the resounding shore,
The leaves that tremble in the shady grove,
The lamps that gild the spangled vault above.
Those overwhelming armies, whose command
Said to one empire, ``Fall;'' another, ``Stand;''
Whose rear lay wrapp'd in night, while breaking dawn
Roused the broad front, and call'd the battle on:
Great Xerxes' world in arms, proud Cannae's field,
Where Carthage taught victorious Rome to yield;
(Another blow had broke the Fates' decree,
And earth had wanted her fourth monarchy
Immortal Blenheim, famed Ramillia's host:-
They all are here, and here they all are lost:
Their millions swell to be discern'd in vain,
Lost as a billow in the' unbounded main.

This echoing voice now rends the yielding air,
For judgment, judgment, sons of men, prepare!
Earth shakes anew; I hear her groans profound;
And hell through all her trembling realms resound.

Whoe'er thou art, thou greatest power of earth,
Bless'd with most equal planets at thy birth:
Whose valour drew the most successful sword,
Most realms united in one common lord;
Who, on the day of triumph, saidst, ``Be Thine
The skies, Jehovah: all this world is mine:''
Dare not to lift thine eye.-Alas! my Muse,
How art thou lost! what numbers canst thou choose?

A sudden blush inflames the waving sky,
And now the crimson curtains open fly;
Lo! far within, and far above all height,
Where heaven's great Sovereign reigns in worlds of light;
Whence Nature He informs, and, with one ray
Shot from His eye, does all her works survey,
Creates, supports, confounds! where time, and place,
Matter, and form, and fortune, life, and grace,
Wait humbly at the footstool of their God,
And move obedient at His awful nod;
Whence He beholds us vagrant emmets crawl
At random on this air-suspended ball:
(Speck of creation!) if He pour one breath,
The bubble breaks, and 'tis eternal death.

Thence issuing I behold, (but mortal sight
Sustains not such a rushing sea of light!)
I see, on an empyreal flying throne
Sublimely raised, Heaven's everlasting Son;
Crown'd with that majesty which form'd the world,
And the grand rebel flaming downward hurl'd
Virtue, Dominion, Praise, Omnipotence,
Support the train of their triumphant Prince.
A zone, beyond the thought of angels bright,
Around Him, like the zodiac, winds its light.
Night shades the solemn arches of His brows,
And in His cheek the purple morning glows.
Where'er serene He turns propitious eyes,
Or we expect, or find, a Paradise:
But if resentment reddens their mild beams,
The Eden kindles, and the world's in flames.
On one hand, Knowledge shines in purest light;
On one, the sword of Justice, fiercely bright.
Now bend the knee in sport, present the reed;
Now tell the scourged impostor He shall bleed!

Thus glorious through the courts of heaven the Source
Of life and death eternal bends His course;
Loud thunders round Him roll, and lightnings play;
The' angelic host is ranged in bright array:
Some touch the string, some strike the sounding shell,
And mingling voices in rich concert swell;
Voices seraphic! bless'd with such a strain,
Could Satan hear, he were a god again.

Triumphant King of Glory! Soul of Bliss!
What a stupendous turn of fate is this!
O whither art thou raised above the scorn
And indigence of Him in Bethlem born!
A needless, helpless, unaccounted guest,
And but a second to the fodder'd beast!
How changed from Him who, meekly prostrate laid,
Vouchsafed to wash the feet Himself had made!
From Him who was betray'd, forsook, denied,
Wept, languish'd, pray'd, bled, thirsted, groan'd, and died;
Hung pierced and bare, insulted by the foe,
All heaven in tears above, earth unconcern'd below!

And was't enough to bid the sun retire?
Why did not Nature at Thy groan expire?
I see, I hear, I feel, the pangs Divine;
The world is vanish'd,-I am wholly Thine.

Mistaken Caiaphas! Ah! which blasphemed,-
Thou, or thy Prisoner? which shall be condemn'd?
Well mightst thou rend thy garments, well exclaim;
Deep are the horrors of eternal flame!
But God is good! 'Tis wondrous all! E'en He
Thou gavest to death, shame, torture, died for thee.

Now the descending triumph stops its flight
From earth full twice a planetary height.
There all the clouds, condensed, two columns raise
Distinct with orient veins, and golden blaze:
One fix'd on earth, and one in sea, and round
Its ample foot the swelling billows sound.
These an immeasurable arch support,
The grand tribunal of this awful court.
Sheets of bright azure, from the purest sky,
Stream from the crystal arch, and round the columns fly.
Death, wrapp'd in chains, low at the basis lies,
And on the point of his own arrow dies.

Here high-enthroned the' eternal Judge is placed,
With all the grandeur of His Godhead graced;
Stars on His robes in beauteous order meet,
And the sun burns beneath His awful feet.

Now an archangel eminently bright,
From off his silver staff of wondrous height,
Unfurls the Christian flag, which waving flies,
And shuts and opens more than half the skies:
The cross so strong a red, it sheds a stain,
Where'er it floats, on earth, and air, and main;
Flushes the hill, and sets on fire the wood,
And turns the deep-dyed ocean into blood.

O formidable Glory! dreadful bright!
Refulgent torture to the guilty sight.
Ah, turn, unwary Muse, nor dare reveal
What horrid thoughts with the polluted dwell.
Say not, (to make the Sun shrink in his beam,)
Dare not affirm, they wish it all a dream;
Wish, or their souls may with their limbs decay,
Or God be spoil'd of His eternal sway.
But rather, if thou know'st the means, unfold
How they with transport might the scene behold.

Ah how, but by repentance, by a mind
Quick and severe its own offence to find;
By tears, and groans, and never-ceasing care,
And all the pious violence of prayer?
Thus then, with fervency till now unknown,
I cast my heart before the' eternal throne,
In this great temple, which the skies surround,
For homage to its Lord a narrow bound:-

``O Thou! whose balance does the mountains weigh,
Whose will the wild tumultuous seas obey,
Whose breath can turn those watery worlds to flame,
That flame to tempest, and that tempest tame;
Earth's meanest son, all trembling, prostrate falls,
And on the Boundless of Thy goodness calls.

``O give the winds all past offence to sweep,
To scatter wide, or bury in the deep!
Thy power, my weakness, may I ever see,
And wholly dedicate my soul to Thee.
Reign o'er my will; my passions ebb and flow
At Thy command, nor human motive know.
If anger boil, let anger be my praise,
And sin the graceful indignation raise.
My love be warm to succour the distress'd,
And lift the burden from the soul oppress'd.
O may my understanding ever read
This glorious volume, which Thy wisdom made!
Who decks the maiden Spring with flowery pride?
Who calls forth Summer, like a sparkling bride?
Who joys the mother Autumn's bed to crown,
And bids old Winter lay her honours down?
Not the great Ottoman, or greater Czar,
Not Europe's arbitress of peace and war.
May sea and land, and earth and heaven, be join'd,
To bring the' eternal Author to my mind!
When oceans roar, or awful thunders roll,
May thoughts of Thy dread vengeance shake my soul!
When earth's in bloom, or planets proudly shine,
Adore, my heart, the Majesty Divine!

``Through every scene of life, or peace or war,
Plenty or want, Thy glory be my care!
Shine we in arms? or sing beneath our vine?
Thine is the vintage, and the conquest Thine:
Thy pleasure points the shaft, and bends the bow;
The cluster blasts, or bids it brightly glow:
'Tis Thou that lead'st our powerful armies forth,
And giv'st great Anne Thy sceptre o'er the north.

``Grant I may ever, at the morning ray,
Open with prayer the consecrated day;
Tune Thy great praise, and bid my soul arise,
And with the mounting sun ascend the skies:
As that advances, let my zeal improve,
And glow with ardour of consummate love;
Nor cease at eve, but with the setting sun
My endless worship shall be still begun.

``And O! permit the gloom of solemn night
To sacred thought may forcibly invite.
When this world's shut, and awful planets rise,
Call on our minds, and raise them to the skies;
Compose our souls with a less dazzling sight,
And show all nature in a milder light;
How every boisterous thought in calms subsides!
How the smooth'd spirit into goodness glides!
O how Divine! to tread the Milky Way,
To the bright palace of the Lord of Day;
His court admire, or for His favour sue,
Or leagues of friendship with His saints renew;
Pleased to look down, and see the world asleep,
While I long vigils to its Founder keep!

``Canst Thou not shake the centre? O control,
Subdue by force, the rebel in my soul!
Thou, who canst still the raging of the flood,
Restrain the various tumults of my blood;
Teach me, with equal firmness, to sustain
Alluring pleasure, and assaulting pain.
O may I pant for Thee in each desire!
And with strong faith foment the holy fire!
Stretch out my soul in hope, and grasp the prize
Which in Eternity's deep bosom lies!
At the great day of recompence behold,
Devoid of fear, the fatal book unfold!
Then, wafted upward to the blissful seat,
From age to age my grateful song repeat;
My Light, my Life, my God, my Saviour see,
And rival angels in the praise of Thee!''

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

An Evening Walk, Addressed to a Young Lady

The young Lady to whom this was addressed was my Sister. It was
composed at school, and during my two first College vacations.
There is not an image in it which I have not observed; and now, in
my seventy-third year, I recollect the time and place where most
of them were noticed. I will confine myself to one instance:

"Waving his hat, the shepherd, from the vale,
Directs his winding dog the cliffs to scale,--
The dog, loud barking, 'mid the glittering rocks,
Hunts, where his master points, the intercepted flocks."

I was an eye-witness of this for the first time while crossing the
Pass of Dunmail Raise. Upon second thought, I will mention another
image:

"And, fronting the bright west, yon oak entwines
Its darkening boughs and leaves, in stronger lines."

This is feebly and imperfectly expressed, but I recollect
distinctly the very spot where this first struck me. It was in the
way between Hawkshead and Ambleside, and gave me extreme pleasure.
The moment was important in my poetical history; for I date from
it my consciousness of the infinite variety of natural appearances
which had been unnoticed by the poets of any age or country, so
far as I was acquainted with them; and I made a resolution to
supply, in some degree, the deficiency. I could not have been at
that time above fourteen years of age. The description of the
swans, that follows, was taken from the daily opportunities I had
of observing their habits, not as confined to the gentleman's
park, but in a state of nature. There were two pairs of them that
divided the lake of Esthwaite and its in-and-out-flowing streams
between them, never trespassing a single yard upon each other's
separate domain. They were of the old magnificent species, bearing
in beauty and majesty about the same relation to the Thames swan
which that does to the goose. It was from the remembrance of those
noble creatures I took, thirty years after, the picture of the
swan which I have discarded from the poem of Dion. While I was a
schoolboy, the late Mr. Curwen introduced a little fleet of those
birds, but of the inferior species, to the lake of Windermere.
Their principal home was about his own island; but they sailed
about into remote parts of the lake, and, either from real or
imagined injury done to the adjoining fields, they were got rid of
at the request of the farmers and proprietors, but to the great
regret of all who had become attached to them, from noticing their
beauty and quiet habits. I will conclude my notice of this poem by
observing that the plan of it has not been confined to a
particular walk or an individual place,--a proof (of which I was
unconscious at the time) of my unwillingness to submit the poetic
spirit to the chains of fact and real circumstance. The country is
idealised rather than described in any one of its local aspects.

General Sketch of the Lakes--Author's regret of his youth which
was passed amongst them--Short description of Noon--Cascade--
Noontide Retreat--Precipice and sloping Lights--Face of Nature as
the Sun declines--Mountain-farm, and the Cock--Slate-quarry--
Sunset--Superstition of the Country connected with that moment--
Swans--Female Beggar--Twilight-sounds--Western Lights--Spirits--
Night--Moonlight--Hope--Night-sounds--Conclus ion.

FAR from my dearest Friend, 'tis mine to rove
Through bare grey dell, high wood, and pastoral cove;
Where Derwent rests, and listens to the roar
That stuns the tremulous cliffs of high Lodore;
Where peace to Grasmere's lonely island leads,
To willowy hedge-rows, and to emerald meads;
Leads to her bridge, rude church, and cottaged grounds,
Her rocky sheepwalks, and her woodland bounds;
Where, undisturbed by winds, Winander sleeps
'Mid clustering isles, and holly-sprinkled steeps;
Where twilight glens endear my Esthwaite's shore,
And memory of departed pleasures, more.
Fair scenes, erewhile, I taught, a happy child,
The echoes of your rocks my carols wild:
The spirit sought not then, in cherished sadness,
A cloudy substitute for failing gladness,
In youth's keen eye the livelong day was bright,
The sun at morning, and the stars at night,
Alike, when first the bittern's hollow bill
Was heard, or woodcocks roamed the moonlight hill.
In thoughtless gaiety I coursed the plain,
And hope itself was all I knew of pain;
For then, the inexperienced heart would beat
At times, while young Content forsook her seat,
And wild Impatience, pointing upward, showed,
Through passes yet unreached, a brighter road.
Alas! the idle tale of man is found
Depicted in the dial's moral round;
Hope with reflection blends her social rays
To gild the total tablet of his days;
Yet still, the sport of some malignant power,
He knows but from its shade the present hour.
But why, ungrateful, dwell on idle pain?
To show what pleasures yet to me remain,
Say, will my Friend, with unreluctant ear,
The history of a poet's evening hear?
When, in the south, the wan noon, brooding still,
Breathed a pale steam around the glaring hill,
And shades of deep-embattled clouds were seen,
Spotting the northern cliffs with lights between;
When crowding cattle, checked by rails that make
A fence far stretched into the shallow lake,
Lashed the cool water with their restless tails,
Or from high points of rock looked out for fanning gales:
When school-boys stretched their length upon the green;
And round the broad-spread oak, a glimmering scene,
In the rough fern-clad park, the herded deer
Shook the still-twinkling tail and glancing ear;
When horses in the sunburnt intake stood,
And vainly eyed below the tempting flood,
Or tracked the passenger, in mute distress,
With forward neck the closing gate to press--
Then, while I wandered where the huddling rill
Brightens with water-breaks the hollow ghyll
As by enchantment, an obscure retreat
Opened at once, and stayed my devious feet.
While thick above the rill the branches close,
In rocky basin its wild waves repose,
Inverted shrubs, and moss of gloomy green,
Cling from the rocks, with pale wood-weeds between;
And its own twilight softens the whole scene,
Save where aloft the subtle sunbeams shine
On withered briars that o'er the crags recline;
Save where, with sparkling foam, a small cascade
Illumines, from within, the leafy shade;
Beyond, along the vista of the brook,
Where antique roots its bustling course o'erlook,
The eye reposes on a secret bridge
Half grey, half shagged with ivy to its ridge;
There, bending o'er the stream, the listless swain
Lingers behind his disappearing wain.
--Did Sabine grace adorn my living line,
Blandusia's praise, wild stream, should yield to thine!
Never shall ruthless minister of death
'Mid thy soft glooms the glittering steel unsheath;
No goblets shall, for thee, be crowned with flowers,
No kid with piteous outcry thrill thy bowers;
The mystic shapes that by thy margin rove
A more benignant sacrifice approve--
A mind, that, in a calm angelic mood
Of happy wisdom, meditating good,
Beholds, of all from her high powers required,
Much done, and much designed, and more desired,--
Harmonious thoughts, a soul by truth refined,
Entire affection for all human kind.
Dear Brook, farewell! To-morrow's noon again
Shall hide me, wooing long thy wildwood strain;
But now the sun has gained his western road,
And eve's mild hour invites my steps abroad.
While, near the midway cliff, the silvered kite
In many a whistling circle wheels her flight;
Slant watery lights, from parting clouds, apace
Travel along the precipice's base;
Cheering its naked waste of scattered stone,
By lichens grey, and scanty moss, o'ergrown;
Where scarce the foxglove peeps, or thistle's beard;
And restless stone-chat, all day long, is heard.
How pleasant, as the sun declines, to view
The spacious landscape change in form and hue!
Here, vanish, as in mist, before a flood 0
Of bright obscurity, hill, lawn, and wood;
There, objects, by the searching beams betrayed,
Come forth, and here retire in purple shade;
Even the white stems of birch, the cottage white,
Soften their glare before the mellow light;
The skiffs, at anchor where with umbrage wide
Yon chestnuts half the latticed boat-house hide,
Shed from their sides, that face the sun's slant beam,
Strong flakes of radiance on the tremulous stream:
Raised by yon travelling flock, a dusty cloud
Mounts from the road, and spreads its moving shroud;
The shepherd, all involved in wreaths of fire,
Now shows a shadowy speck, and now is lost entire.
Into a gradual calm the breezes sink,
A blue rim borders all the lake's still brink;
There doth the twinkling aspen's foliage sleep,
And insects clothe, like dust, the glassy deep:
And now, on every side, the surface breaks
Into blue spots, and slowly lengthening streaks;
Here, plots of sparkling water tremble bright
With thousand thousand twinkling points of light;
There, waves that, hardly weltering, die away,
Tip their smooth ridges with a softer ray;
And now the whole wide lake in deep repose
Is hushed, and like a burnished mirror glows,
Save where, along the shady western marge,
Coasts, with industrious oar, the charcoal barge.
Their panniered train a group of potters goad,
Winding from side to side up the steep road;
The peasant, from yon cliff of fearful edge
Shot, down the headlong path darts with his sledge;
Bright beams the lonely mountain-horse illume
Feeding 'mid purple heath, "green rings," and broom;
While the sharp slope the slackened team confounds,
Downward the ponderous timber-wain resounds;
In foamy breaks the rill, with merry song,
Dashed o'er the rough rock, lightly leaps along;
From lonesome chapel at the mountain's feet,
Three humble bells their rustic chime repeat;
Sounds from the water-side the hammered boat;
And 'blasted' quarry thunders, heard remote!
Even here, amid the sweep of endless woods,
Blue pomp of lakes, high cliffs, and falling floods,
Not undelightful are the simplest charms,
Found by the grassy door of mountain-farms.
Sweetly ferocious, round his native walks,
Pride of his sister-wives, the monarch stalks;
Spur-clad his nervous feet, and firm his tread;
A crest of purple tops the warrior's head.
Bright sparks his black and rolling eye-ball hurls
Afar, his tail he closes and unfurls;
On tiptoe reared, he strains his clarion throat,
Threatened by faintly-answering farms remote:
Again with his shrill voice the mountain rings,
While, flapped with conscious pride, resound his wings.
Where, mixed with graceful birch, the sombrous pine
And yew-tree o'er the silver rocks recline;
I love to mark the quarry's moving trains,
Dwarf panniered steeds, and men, and numerous wains;
How busy all the enormous hive within,
While Echo dallies with its various din!
Some (hear yon not their chisels' clinking sound?)
Toil, small as pigmies in the gulf profound;
Some, dim between the lofty cliffs descried,
O'erwalk the slender plank from side to side;
These, by the pale-blue rocks that ceaseless ring,
In airy baskets hanging, work and sing.
Just where a cloud above the mountain rears
An edge all flame, the broadening sun appears;
A long blue bar its aegis orb divides,
And breaks the spreading of its golden tides;
And now that orb has touched the purple steep
Whose softened image penetrates the deep.
'Cross the calm lake's blue shades the cliffs aspire,
With towers and woods, a "prospect all on fire;"
While coves and secret hollows, through a ray
Of fainter gold, a purple gleam betray.
Each slip of lawn the broken rocks between
Shines in the light with more than earthly green:
Deep yellow beams the scattered stems illume,
Far in the level forest's central gloom:
Waving his hat, the shepherd, from the vale,
Directs his winding dog the cliffs to scale,--
The dog, loud barking, 'mid the glittering rocks,
Hunts, where his master points, the intercepted flocks.
Where oaks o'erhang the road the radiance shoots
On tawny earth, wild weeds, and twisted roots;
The druid-stones a brightened ring unfold;
And all the babbling brooks are liquid gold;
Sunk to a curve, the day-star lessens still,
Gives one bright glance, and drops behind the hill.
In these secluded vales, if village fame,
Confirmed by hoary hairs, belief may claim;
When up the hills, as now, retired the light,
Strange apparitions mocked the shepherd's sight.
The form appears of one that spurs his steed
Midway along the hill with desperate speed;
Unhurt pursues his lengthened flight, while all
Attend, at every stretch, his headlong fall.
Anon, appears a brave, a gorgeous show 0
Of horsemen-shadows moving to and fro;
At intervals imperial banners stream,
And now the van reflects the solar beam;
The rear through iron brown betrays a sullen gleam.
While silent stands the admiring crowd below,
Silent the visionary warriors go,
Winding in ordered pomp their upward way
Till the last banner of the long array
Has disappeared, and every trace is fled
Of splendour--save the beacon's spiry head
Tipt with eve's latest gleam of burning red.
Now, while the solemn evening shadows sail,
On slowly-waving pinions, down the vale;
And, fronting the bright west, yon oak entwines
Its darkening boughs and leaves, in stronger lines;
'Tis pleasant near the tranquil lake to stray
Where, winding on along some secret bay,
The swan uplifts his chest, and backward flings
His neck, a varying arch, between his towering wings:
The eye that marks the gliding creature sees
How graceful, pride can be, and how majestic, ease,
While tender cares and mild domestic loves
With furtive watch pursue her as she moves,
The female with a meeker charm succeeds,
And her brown little-ones around her leads,
Nibbling the water lilies as they pass,
Or playing wanton with the floating grass.
She, in a mother's care, her beauty's pride
Forgetting, calls the wearied to her side;
Alternately they mount her back, and rest
Close by her mantling wings' embraces prest.
Long may they float upon this flood serene;
Theirs be these holms untrodden, still, and green,
Where leafy shades fence off the blustering gale,
And breathes in peace the lily of the vale!
Yon isle, which feels not even the milkmaid's feet,
Yet hears her song, "by distance made more sweet,"
Yon isle conceals their home, their hut-like bower;
Green water-rushes overspread the floor;
Long grass and willows form the woven wall,
And swings above the roof the poplar tall.
Thence issuing often with unwieldy stalk,
They crush with broad black feet their flowery walk;
Or, from the neighbouring water, hear at morn
The hound, the horse's tread, and mellow horn;
Involve their serpent-necks in changeful rings,
Rolled wantonly between their slippery wings,
Or, starting up with noise and rude delight,
Force half upon the wave their cumbrous flight.
Fair Swan! by all a mother's joys caressed,
Haply some wretch has eyed, and called thee blessed;
When with her infants, from some shady seat
By the lake's edge, she rose--to face the noontide heat;
Or taught their limbs along the dusty road
A few short steps to totter with their load.
I see her now, denied to lay her head,
On cold blue nights, in hut or straw-built shed,
Turn to a silent smile their sleepy cry,
By pointing to the gliding moon on high.
--When low-hung clouds each star of summer hide,
And fireless are the valleys far and wide,
Where the brook brawls along the public road
Dark with bat-haunted ashes stretching broad,
Oft has she taught them on her lap to lay
The shining glow-worm; or, in heedless play,
Toss it from hand to hand, disquieted;
While others, not unseen, are free to shed
Green unmolested light upon their mossy bed.
Oh! when the sleety showers her path assail,
And like a torrent roars the headstrong gale;
No more her breath can thaw their fingers cold,
Their frozen arms her neck no more can fold;
Weak roof a cowering form two babes to shield,
And faint the fire a dying heart can yield!
Press the sad kiss, fond mother! vainly fears
Thy flooded cheek to wet them with its tears;
No tears can chill them, and no bosom warms,
Thy breast their death-bed, coffined in thine arms!
Sweet are the sounds that mingle from afar,
Heard by calm lakes, as peeps the folding star,
Where the duck dabbles 'mid the rustling sedge,
And feeding pike starts from the water's edge,
Or the swan stirs the reeds, his neck and bill
Wetting, that drip upon the water still;
And heron, as resounds the trodden shore,
Shoots upward, darting his long neck before.
Now, with religious awe, the farewell light
Blends with the solemn colouring of night;
'Mid groves of clouds that crest the mountain's brow,
And round the west's proud lodge their shadows throw,
Like Una shining on her gloomy way,
The half-seen form of Twilight roams astray;
Shedding, through paly loop-holes mild and small,
Gleams that upon the lake's still bosom fall;
Soft o'er the surface creep those lustres pale
Tracking the motions of the fitful gale.
With restless interchange at once the bright
Wins on the shade, the shade upon the light.
No favoured eye was e'er allowed to gaze
On lovelier spectacle in faery days; 0
When gentle Spirits urged a sportive chase,
Brushing with lucid wands the water's face:
While music, stealing round the glimmering deeps,
Charmed the tall circle of the enchanted steeps.
--The lights are vanished from the watery plains:
No wreck of all the pageantry remains.
Unheeded night has overcome the vales:
On the dark earth the wearied vision fails;
The latest lingerer of the forest train,
The lone black fir, forsakes the faded plain;
Last evening sight, the cottage smoke, no more,
Lost in the thickened darkness, glimmers hoar;
And, towering from the sullen dark-brown mere,
Like a black wall, the mountain-steeps appear.
--Now o'er the soothed accordant heart we feel
A sympathetic twilight slowly steal,
And ever, as we fondly muse, we find
The soft gloom deepening on the tranquil mind.
Stay! pensive, sadly-pleasing visions, stay!
Ah no! as fades the vale, they fade away:
Yet still the tender, vacant gloom remains;
Still the cold cheek its shuddering tear retains.
The bird, who ceased, with fading light, to thread
Silent the hedge or steamy rivulet's bed,
From his grey re-appearing tower shall soon
Salute with gladsome note the rising moon,
While with a hoary light she frosts the ground,
And pours a deeper blue to Aether's bound;
Pleased, as she moves, her pomp of clouds to fold
In robes of azure, fleecy-white, and gold.
Above yon eastern hill, where darkness broods
O'er all its vanished dells, and lawns, and woods;
Where but a mass of shade the sight can trace,
Even now she shews, half-veiled, her lovely face:
Across the gloomy valley flings her light,
Far to the western slopes with hamlets white;
And gives, where woods the chequered upland strew,
To the green corn of summer, autumn's hue.
Thus Hope, first pouring from her blessed horn
Her dawn, far lovelier than the moon's own morn,
Till higher mounted, strives in vain to cheer
The weary hills, impervious, blackening near;
Yet does she still, undaunted, throw the while
On darling spots remote her tempting smile.
Even now she decks for me a distant scene,
(For dark and broad the gulf of time between)
Gilding that cottage with her fondest ray,
(Sole bourn, sole wish, sole object of my way;
How fair its lawns and sheltering woods appear!
How sweet its streamlet murmurs in mine ear!)
Where we, my Friend, to happy days shall rise,
Till our small share of hardly-paining sighs
(For sighs will ever trouble human breath)
Creep hushed into the tranquil breast of death.
But now the clear bright Moon her zenith gains,
And, rimy without speck, extend the plains:
The deepest cleft the mountain's front displays
Scarce hides a shadow from her searching rays;
From the dark-blue faint silvery threads divide
The hills, while gleams below the azure tide;
Time softly treads; throughout the landscape breathes
A peace enlivened, not disturbed, by wreaths
Of charcoal-smoke, that o'er the fallen wood,
Steal down the hill, and spread along the flood.
The song of mountain-streams, unheard by day,
Now hardly heard, beguiles my homeward way.
Air listens, like the sleeping water, still,
To catch the spiritual music of the hill,
Broke only by the slow clock tolling deep,
Or shout that wakes the ferry-man from sleep,
The echoed hoof nearing the distant shore,
The boat's first motion--made with dashing oar;
Sound of closed gate, across the water borne,
Hurrying the timid hare through rustling corn;
The sportive outcry of the mocking owl;
And at long intervals the mill-dog's howl;
The distant forge's swinging thump profound;
Or yell, in the deep woods, of lonely hound.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Orlando Furioso Canto 6

ARGUMENT
Ariodantes has, a worthy meed,
With his loved bride, the fief of Albany.
Meantime Rogero, on the flying steed,
Arrives in false Alcina's empery:
There from a myrtle-tree her every deed,
A human myrtle hears, and treachery,
And thence would go; but they who first withdrew
Him from one strife, engage him in a new.

I
Wretched that evil man who lives in trust
His secret sin is safe in his possession!
Since, if nought else, the air, the very dust
In which the crime is buried, makes confession,
And oftentimes his guilt compels the unjust,
Though sometime unarraigned in worldly session,
To be his own accuser, and bewray,
So God has willed, deeds hidden from the day.

II
The unhappy Polinesso hopes had nursed,
Wholly his secret treason to conceal.
By taking off Dalinda, who was versed
In this, and only could the fact reveal;
And adding thus a second to his first
Offence, but hurried on the dread appeal,
Which haply he had stunned, at least deferred;
But he to self-destruction blindly spurred.

III
And forfeited estate, and life, and love
Of friends at once, and honour, which was more.
The cavalier unknown, I said above,
Long of the king and court entreated sore,
At length the covering helmet did remove,
And showed a visage often seen before,
The cherished face of Ariodantes true,
Of late lamented weeping Scotland through;

IV
Ariodantes, whom with tearful eye
His brother and Geneura wept as dead,
And king, and people, and nobility:
Such light his goodness and his valour shed.
The pilgrim therefore might appear to lie
In what he of the missing warrior said.
Yet was it true that from a headland, he
Had seen him plunge into the foaming sea.

V
But, as it oft befalls despairing wight,
Who grisly Death desires till he appear;
But loathes what he had sought, on nearer sight;
So painful seems the cruel pass and drear.
Thus, in the sea engulphed, the wretched knight,
Repentant of his deed, was touched with fear;
And, matchless both for spirit and for hand,
Beat back the billows, and returned to land.

VI
And, now despising, as of folly bred,
The fond desire which did to death impell,
Thence, soaked and dripping wet, his way did tread,
And halted at a hermit's humble cell:
And housed within the holy father's shed,
There secretly awhile designed to dwell;
Till to his ears by rumour should be voiced,
If his Geneura sorrowed or rejoiced.

VII
At first he heard that, through excess of woe,
The miserable damsel well-nigh died:
For so abroad the doleful tidings go,
'Twas talked of in the island, far and wide:
Far other proof than that deceitful show,
Which to his cruel grief he thought he spied!
And next against the fair Geneura heard
Lurcanio to her sire his charge preferred:

VIII
Nor for his brother felt less enmity
Than was the love he lately bore the maid;
For he too foul, and full of cruelty,
Esteemed the deed, although for him essayed;
And, hearing after, in her jeopardy,
That none appeared to lend the damsel aid,
Because so puissant was Lurcanio's might,
All dreaded an encounter with the knight,

IX
And that who well the youthful champion knew,
Believed he was so wary and discreet,
That, had what he related been untrue,
He never would have risqued so rash a feat,
- For this the greater part the fight eschew,
Fearing in wrongful cause the knight to meet -
Ariodantes (long his doubts are weighed)
Will meet his brother in Geneura's aid.

X
'Alas! (he said) I cannot bear to see
Thus by my cause the royal damsel die;
My death too bitter and too dread would be,
Did I, before my own, her death descry;
For still my lady, my divinity
She is; - the light and comfort of my eye.
Her, right or wrong, I cannot choose but shield,
And for her safety perish in the field.

XI
'I know I choose the wrong, and be it so!
And in the cause shall die: nor this would move;
But that, alas! my death, as well I know,
Will such a lovely dame's destruction prove,
To death I with one only comfort go,
That, if her Polinesso bears her love,
To her will manifestly be displayed,
That hitherto he moves not in her aid.

XII
'And me, so wronged by her, the maid shall view
Encounter death in her defence; and he,
My brother, who such flames of discord blew,
Shall pay the debt of vengeance due to me.
For well I ween to make Lurcanio rue
(Informed of the event) his cruelty,
Who will have thought to venge me with his brand,
And will have slain me with his very hand.'

XIII
He, having this concluded in his thought,
Made new provision of arms, steed, and shield;
Black was the vest and buckler which he bought,
Where green and yellow striped the sable field:
By hazard found, with him a squire he brought,
A stranger in that country; and, concealed
(As is already told) the unhappy knight,
Against his brother came, prepared for fight.

XV
And yielding to his natural inclination,
And at the suit of all his court beside,
And mostly at Rinaldo's instigation,
Assigned the youth the damsel as his bride.
Albany's duchy, now in sequestration,
Late Polinesso's, who in duel died,
Could not be forfeited in happier hour;
Since this the monarch made his daughter's dower.

XVI
Rinaldo for Dalinda mercy won;
Who from her fault's due punishment went free.
She, satiate of the world, (and this to shun,
The damsel so had vowed) to God will flee:
And hence, in Denmark's land, to live a nun,
Straight from her native Scotland sailed the sea.
But it is time Rogero to pursue,
Who on his courser posts the welkin through.

XVII
Although Rogero is of constant mind,
Not from his cheek the wonted hues depart.
I ween that faster than a leaf i' the wind
Fluttered within his breast the stripling's heart.
All Europe's region he had left behind
In his swift course; and, issuing in that part,
Passed by a mighty space, the southern sound
Where great Alcides fixed the sailor's bound.

XVIII
That hippogryph, huge fowl, and strange to sight,
Bears off the warrior with such rapid wing,
He would have distanced, in his airy flight,
The thunder bearing bird of Aether's king:
Nor other living creature soars such height,
Him in his mighty swiftness equalling.
I scarce believe that bolt, or lightning flies,
Or darts more swiftly from the parted skies.

XIX
When the huge bird his pinions long had plied,
In a straight line, without one stoop or bend,
He, tired of air, with sweeping wheel and wide,
Began upon an island to descend;
Like that fair region, whither, long unspied
Of him, her wayward mood did long offend,
Whilom in vain, through strange and secret sluice,
Passed under sea the Virgin Arethuse.

XX
A more delightful place, wherever hurled
Through the whole air, Rogero had not found:
And, had he ranged the universal world,
Would not have seen a lovelier in his round,
Than that, where, wheeling wide, the courser furled
His spreading wings, and lighted on the ground,
'Mid cultivated plain, delicious hill,
Moist meadow, shady bank, and crystal rill.

XXI
Small thickets, with the scented laurel gay,
Cedar, and orange, full of fruit and flower,
Myrtle and palm, with interwoven spray,
Pleached in mixed modes, all lovely, form a bower;
And, breaking with their shade the scorching ray,
Make a cool shelter from the noontide hour.
And nightingales among those branches wing
Their flight, and safely amorous descants sing.

XXII
Amid red roses and white lilies there,
Which the soft breezes freshen as they fly,
Secure the cony haunts, and timid hare,
And stag, with branching forehead broad and high.
These, fearless of the hunter's dart or snare,
Feed at their ease, or ruminating lie:
While, swarming in those wilds, from tuft or steep
Dun deer or nimble goat, disporting, leap.

XXIII
When the hyppogryph above the island hung,
And had approached so nigh that landscape fair,
That, if his rider from the saddle sprung,
He might the leap with little danger dare,
Rogero lit the grass and flowers among,
But held him, lest he should remount the air:
And to a myrtle, nigh the rolling brine,
Made fast, between a bay-tree and a pine.

XXIV
And there, close-by where rose a bubbling fount,
Begirt the fertile palm and cedar-tree,
He drops the shield, the helmet from his front
Uplifts, and, either hand from gauntlet free,
Now turning to the beach, and now the mount,
Catches the gales which blow from hill or sea,
And, with a joyous murmur, lightly stir
The lofty top of beech, or feathery fir:

XXV
And, now, to bathe his burning lips he strains;
Now dabbles in the crystal wave, to chase
The scorching heat which rages in his veins,
Caught from the heavy corslet's burning case.
Nor is it marvel if the burden pains;
No ramble his in square or market-place!
Three thousand miles, without repose, he went,
And still, at speed, in ponderous armour pent.

XXVI
Meanwhile the courser by the myrtle's side,
Whom he left stabled in the cool retreat,
Started at something in the wood descried,
Scared by I know not what; and in his heat
So made the myrtle shake where he was tied,
He brought a shower of leaves about his feet;
He made the myrtle shake and foliage fall,
But, struggling, could not loose himself withal.

XXVII
As in a stick to feed the chimney rent,
Where scanty pith ill fills the narrow sheath,
The vapour, in its little channel pent,
Struggles, tormented by the fire beneath;
And, till its prisoned fury find a vent,
Is heard to hiss and bubble, sing and seethe:
So the offended myrtle inly pined,
Groaned, murmured, and at last unclosed its rind:

XXVIII
And hence a clear, intelligible speech
Thus issued, with a melancholy sound;
'If, as thy cheer and gentle presence teach,
Thou courteous art and good, his reign unbound,
Release me from this monster, I beseech:
Griefs of my own inflict sufficient wound:
Nor need I, compassed with such ills about,
Other new pain to plague me from without.'

XXIX
At the first sound, Rogero turns to see
Whence came the voice, and, in unused surprise,
Stands, when he finds it issues from the tree;
And swiftly to remove the courser hies.
Then, with a face suffused with crimson, he
In answer to the groaning myrtle, cries;
'Pardon! and, whatsoe'er thou art, be good,
Spirit of man, or goddess of the wood!

XXX
'Unweeting of the wonderous prodigy
Of spirit, pent beneath the knotty rind,
To your fair leaf and living body I
Have done this scathe and outrage undesigned.
But not the less for that, to me reply,
What art thou, who, in rugged case confined,
Dost live and speak? And so may never hail
From angry heaven your gentle boughs assail!

XXXI
'And if I now or ever the despite
I did thee can repair, or aid impart,
I, by that lady dear, my promise plight,
Who in her keeping has my better part,
To strive with word and deed, till thou requite
The service done with praise and grateful heart.'
Rogero said; and, as he closed his suit,
That gentle myrtle shook from top to root.

XXXII
Next drops were seen to stand upon the bark,
As juice is sweated by the sapling-spray,
New-severed, when it yields to flame and spark,
Sometime in vain kept back and held at bay.
And next the voice began: 'My story dark,
Forced by thy courteous deed, I shall display; -
What once I was - by whom, through magic lore,
Changed to a myrtle on the pleasant shore.

XXXIII
'A peer of France, Astolpho was my name,
Whilom a paladin, sore feared in fight;
Cousin I was to two of boundless fame,
Orlando and Rinaldo. I by right
Looked to all England's crown; my lawful claim
After my royal father, Otho hight.
More dames than one my beauty served to warm,
And in conclusion wrought my single harm.

XXXIV
'Returning from those isles, whose eastern side
The billows of the Indian ocean beat,
Where good Rinaldo and more knights beside
With me were pent in dark and hollow seat,
Thence, rescued by illustrious Brava's pride,
Whose prowess freed us from that dark retreat,
Westward I fared along the sandy shores,
On which the stormy north his fury pours.

XXXV
'Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we
Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand,
Where stood a mansion seated by the sea:
Puissant Alcina owned the house and land.
We found her, where, without her dwelling, she
Had taken on the beach her lonely stand;
And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore,
What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore.

XXXVI
'Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred,
And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap;
Thither the seal or porpus' wallowing herd
Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep;
Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word,
And mullet hurry through the briny deep,
With monstrous backs above the water, sail
Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale.

XXXVII
'There we behold a mighty whale, of size
The hugest yet in any water seen:
More than eleven paces, to our eyes,
His back appears above the surface green:
And (for still firm and motionless he lies,
And such the distance his two ends between)
We all are cheated by the floating pile,
And idly take the monster for an isle.

XXXVIII
'Alcina made the ready fish obey
By simple words and by mere magic lore:
Born with Morgana - but I cannot say
If at one birth, or after or before.
As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay;
Who showed it in the countenance she wore:
Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent,
To part me from the friends with whom I went.

XXXIX
'She came towards us with a cheerful face,
With graceful gestures, and a courteous air,
And said: 'So you my lodging please to grace,
Sir cavalier, and will with me repair,
You shall behold the wonders of my chace,
And note the different sorts of fish I snare;
Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light,
And more in number than the stars of night:

XL
' 'And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet,
That the rude sea grows civil at her song,
Wont at this hour her music to repeat,
(With that she showed the monster huge and long
- I said it seemed an island - as her seat)
Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.'
I, that was always wilful, at her wish,
I now lament my rashness, climb the fish.

XLI
'To Dudon and Rinaldo's signal blind,
I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay.
With laughing face Alcina mounts behind,
Leaving the other two beside the bay.
The obedient fish performs the task assigned,
And through the yielding water works his way.
Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare,
Too far from land my folly to repair.

XLII
'To aid me swam Mount Alban's cavalier,
And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise;
For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near,
Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies.
I know not after what befel the peer:
This while Alcina to console me tries,
And all that day, and night which followed, me
Detained upon that monster in mid-sea,

XLIII
'Till to this isle we drifted with the morn,
Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share;
By that usurper from a sister torn,
Who was her father's universal heir:
For that she only was in wedlock born,
And for those other two false sisters were
(So well-instructed in the story, said
One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred.

XLIV
'As these are practised in iniquity,
And full of every vice and evil art;
So she, who ever lives in chastity,
Wisely on better things has set her heart.
Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy,
Those others are, to drive her from her part:
And more than once their armies have o'errun
Her realm, and towns above a hundred won.

XLV
'Nor at this hour a single span of ground
Would Logistilla (such her name) command,
But that a mountain here, and there a sound,
Protects the remnant from the invading band.
'Tis thus the mountain and the river bound
England, and part it from the Scottish land.
Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest,
Till of her scanty remnant dispossest.

XLVI
'Because in wickedness and vice were bred
The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame.
But, to return to what I lately said,
And to relate how I a plant became;
Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed
With full delights; nor I a weaker flame
For her, within my burning heart did bear,
Beholding her so courteous and so fair.

XLVII
'Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure,
I weened that I each separate good had won,
Which to mankind is dealt in different measure,
Little or more to some, and much to none.
I evermore contemplated my treasure,
Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon:
In her my every fancy, every hope
Centered and ended as their common scope.

XLVIII
'By her I was as much beloved, or more;
Nor did Alcina now for other care;
She left her every lover; for before,
Others, in truth, the fairy's love did share:
I was her close adviser evermore;
And served by her, where they commanded were.
With me she counselled, and to me referred;
Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word.

XLIX
'Why touch my wounds, to aggravate my ill,
And that, alas! without the hope of cure?
Why thus the good possessed remember still,
Amid the cruel penance I endure?
When kindest I believed Alcina's will,
And fondly deemed my happiness secure,
From me the heart she gave, the fay withdrew,
And yielded all her soul to love more new.

L
'Late I discerned her light and fickle bent,
Still loving and unloving at a heat:
Two months, I reigned not more, no sooner spent,
Than a new paramour assumed my seat;
And me, with scorn, she doomed to banishment,
From her fair grace cast out. 'Tis then I weet
I share a thousand lovers' fate, whom she
Had to like pass reduced, all wrongfully.

LI
'And these, because they should not scatter bruits,
Roaming the world, of her lascivious ways,
She, up and down the fruitful soil, transmutes
To olive, palm, or cedar, firs or bays.
These, as you see me changed, Alcina roots;
While this transformed into a monster strays;
Another melts into a liquid rill;
As suits that haughty fairy's wanton will.

LII
'Thou, too, that to this fatal isle art led
By way unwonted and till now unknown,
That some possessor of the fairy's bed,
May be for thee transformed to wave or stone,
Thou shalt, with more than mortal pleasures fed,
Have from Alcina seigniory and throne;
But shalt be sure to join the common flock,
Transformed to beast or fountain, plant or rock.

LIII
'I willingly to thee this truth impart,
Not that I hope with profit to advise:
Yet 'twill be better, that informed, in part,
Of her false ways, she harm not by surprise.
Perhaps, as faces differ, and in art
And wit of man an equal difference lies,
Thou may'st some remedy perchance apply
To the ill, which thousand others could not fly.'

LIV
The good Rogero, who from Fame had learned
That he was cousin to the dame he wooed,
Lamented much the sad Astolpho, turned
From his true form, to barren plant and rude:
And for her love, for whom so sore he burned,
Would gladly serve the stripling if he cou'd:
But, witless how to give the wished relief,
Might but console the unhappy warrior's grief.

LV
As best he could, he strove to soothe his pain;
Then asked him, if to Logistil's retreat
Were passage, whether over hill or plain;
That he might so eschew Alcina's seat.
- `There was a way', the myrtle said again,
- `But rough with stones, and rugged to the feet -
If he, some little further to the right,
Would scale the Alpine mountain's very height:

LVI
`But that he must not think he shall pursue
The intended journey far; since by the way
He will encounter with a frequent crew,
And fierce, who serve as rampart to the fay,
That block the road against the stranger, who
Would break her bounds, and the deserter stay.'
Rogero thanked the tree for all, and taught,
Departed thence with full instructions fraught.

LVII
The courser from the myrtle he untied,
And by the bridle led behind him still;
Nor would he, as before, the horse bestride,
Lest he should bear him off against his will:
He mused this while how safely he might find
A passage to the land of Logistil;
Firm in his purpose every nerve to strain,
Lest empire over him Alcina gain.

LVIII
He to remount the steed, and through the air
To spur him to a new career again
Now thought; but doubted next, in fear to fare
Worse on the courser, restive to the rein.
'No, I will win by force the mountain stair,'
Rogero said; (but the resolve was vain)
Nor by the beach two miles his way pursued,
Ere he Alcina's lovely city viewed.

LIX
A lofty wall at distance meets his eye
Which girds a spacious town within its bound;
It seems as if its summit touched the sky,
And all appears like gold from top to ground.
Here some one says it is but alchemy
- And haply his opinion is unsound -
And haply he more wittily divines:
For me, I deem it gold because it shines.

LX
When he was nigh the city-walls, so bright,
The world has not their equal, he the straight
And spacious way deserts, the way which dight
Across the plain, conducted to the gate;
And by that safer road upon the right,
Strains now against the mountain; but, in wait,
Encounters soon the crowd of evil foes,
Who furiously the Child's advance oppose.

LXI
Was never yet beheld a stranger band,
Of mien more hideous, or more monstrous shape.
Formed downwards from neck like men, he scanned
Some with the head of cat, and some of ape;
With hoof of goat that other stamped the sand;
While some seemed centaurs, quick in fight and rape;
Naked, or mantled in outlandish skin.
These doting sires, those striplings bold in sin.

LXII
This gallops on a horse without a bit;
This backs the sluggish ass, or bullock slow;
These mounted on the croup of centaur sit:
Those perched on eagle, crane, or estridge, go.
Some male, some female, some hermaphrodit,
These drain the cup and those the bungle blow.
One bore a corded ladder, one a book;
One a dull file, or bar of iron shook.

LXIII
The captain of this crew, which blocked the road,
Appeared, with monstrous paunch and bloated face;
Who a slow tortoise for a horse bestrode,
That passing sluggishly with him did pace:
Down looked, some here, some there, sustained the load,
For he was drunk, and kept him in his place.
Some wipe his brows and chin from sweat which ran,
And others with their vests his visage fan.

LXIV
One, with a human shape and feet, his crest,
Fashioned like hound, in neck and ears and head,
Bayed at the gallant Child with angry quest,
To turn him to the city whence he fled.
'That will I never, while of strength possessed
To brandish this,' the good Rogero said:
With that his trenchant faulchion he displayed,
And pointed at him full the naked blade.

LXV
That monster would have smote him with a spear,
But swiftly at his foe Rogero sprung,
Thrust at his paunch, and drove his faulchion sheer
Through his pierced back a palm; his buckler flung
Before him, and next sallied there and here:
But all too numerous was the wicked throng.
Now grappled from behind, now punched before,
He stands, and plies the crowd with warfare sore.

LXVI
One to the teeth, another to the breast,
Of that foul race he cleft; since no one steeled
In mail, his brows with covering helmet dressed,
Or fought, secured by corslet or by shield;
Yet is he so upon all quarters pressed,
That it would need the Child, to clear the field,
And to keep off the wicked crew which swarms,
More than Briareus' hundred hands and arms.

LXVII
If he had thought the magic shield to show,
(I speak of that the necromancer bore,
Which dazed the sight of the astonished foe,
Left at his saddle by the wizard Moor)
That hideous band, in sudden overthrow,
Blinded by this, had sunk the knight before.
But haply he despised such mean as vile,
And would prevail by valour, not by guile.

LXVIII
This as it may: the Child would meet his fate,
Ere by so vile a band be prisoner led;
When, lo! forth issuing from the city's gate,
Whose wall appeared like shining gold I said,
Two youthful dames, not born in low estate,
If measured by their mien and garb, nor bred
By swain, in early wants and troubles versed;
But amid princely joys in palace nursed!

LXIX
On unicorn was seated either fair,
A beast than spotless ermine yet more white;
So lovely were the damsels, and so rare
Their garb, and with such graceful fashion dight,
That he who closely viewed the youthful pair,
Would need a surer sense than mortal sight,
To judge between the two. With such a mien
Embodied Grace and Beauty would be seen.

LXX
Into the mead rode this and the other dame,
Where the foul crew opposed the Child's retreat.
The rabble scattered as the ladies came,
Who with extended hand the warrior greet.
He, with a kindling visage, red with shame,
Thanked the two damsels for their gentle feat;
And was content upon their will to wait,
With them returning to that golden gate.

LXXI
Above, a cornice round the gateway goes,
Somedeal projecting from the colonnade,
In which is not a single part but glows,
With rarest gems of India overlaid.
Propp'd at four points, the portal did repose
On columns of one solid diamond made.
Whether what met the eye was false or true,
Was never sight more fair or glad to view.

LXXII
Upon the sill and through the columns there,
Ran young and wanton girls, in frolic sport;
Who haply yet would have appeared more fair,
Had they observed a woman's fitting port.
All are arrayed in green, and garlands wear
Of the fresh leaf. Him these in courteous sort,
With many proffers and fair mien entice,
And welcome to this opening Paradise:

LXXIII
For so with reason I this place may call,
Where, it is my belief, that Love had birth;
Where life is spent in festive game and ball,
And still the passing moments fleet in mirth.
Here hoary-headed Thought ne'er comes at all,
Nor finds a place in any bosom. Dearth,
Nor yet Discomfort, never enter here,
Where Plenty fills her horn throughout the year.

LXXIV
Here, where with jovial and unclouded brow,
Glad April seems to wear a constant smile,
Troop boys and damsels: One, whose fountains flow,
On the green margin sings in dulcet style;
Others, the hill or tufted tree below,
In dance, or no mean sport the hours beguile.
While this, who shuns the revellers' noisy cheer,
Tells his love sorrows in his comrade's ear.

LXXV
Above the laurel and pine-tree's height,
Through the tall beech and shaggy fir-tree's spray,
Sport little loves, with desultory flight:
These, at their conquests made, rejoiced and gay:
These, with the well-directed shaft, take sight
At hearts, and those spread nets to catch their prey;
One wets his arrows in the brook which winds,
And one on whirling stone the weapon grinds.

LXXVI
To good Rogero here was brought a steed,
Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue;
Who was caparisoned with costly weed,
Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view.
That other winged horse, which, at his need,
Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew,
The friendly damsels to a youth consigned,
Who led him at a slower pace behind.

LXXVII
That kindly pair who, by the wicked band
Offended fate, had saved the youthful knight;
The wicked crew, that did the Child withstand,
When he the road had taken on his right,
Exclaimed, 'Fair sir, your works already scanned
By us, who are instructed of your might,
Embolden us, in our behalf, to pray
You will the prowess of your arm assay.

LXXVIII
'We soon shall reach a bottom which divides
The plain into two parts: A cruel dame
A bridge maintains, which there a stream bestrides,
Eriphila the savage beldam's name;
Who cheats, and robs, and scathes, whoever rides
To the other shore, a giantess in frame;
Who has long poisonous teeth her prey to tear,
And scratches with her talons like a bear.

LXXIX
'Besides that she infests the public way,
Which else were free; she often ranging through
All this fair garden, puts in disarray
This thing or that. Of the assassin crew,
That people who without the portal gay,
Lately with brutal rage assaulted you,
Many her sons, the whole her followers call,
As greedy and inhospitable all.'

LXXX
'For you not only her I would assail,
But do a hundred battles, well content:
Then of my person, where it may avail,
Dispose (Rogero said) to you intent.
Silver and land to conquer, plate or mail
I swear not, I, in warlike cuirass pent;
But to afford my aid to others due;
And, most of all, to beauteous dames like you.'

LXXXI
Their grateful thanks the ladies, worthily
Bestowed on such a valiant champion, paid:
They talking thus the bridge and river see,
And at her post the haughty dame arraid
(Sapphire and emerald decked the panoply)
In arms of gold: but I awhile delay
Till other strain the issue of the fray.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Homer

The Iliad: Book 10

Now the other princes of the Achaeans slept soundly the whole
night through, but Agamemnon son of Atreus was troubled, so that he
could get no rest. As when fair Juno's lord flashes his lightning in
token of great rain or hail or snow when the snow-flakes whiten the
ground, or again as a sign that he will open the wide jaws of hungry
war, even so did Agamemnon heave many a heavy sigh, for his soul
trembled within him. When he looked upon the plain of Troy he
marvelled at the many watchfires burning in front of Ilius, and at the
sound of pipes and flutes and of the hum of men, but when presently he
turned towards the ships and hosts of the Achaeans, he tore his hair
by handfuls before Jove on high, and groaned aloud for the very
disquietness of his soul. In the end he deemed it best to go at once
to Nestor son of Neleus, and see if between them they could find any
way of the Achaeans from destruction. He therefore rose, put on his
shirt, bound his sandals about his comely feet, flung the skin of a
huge tawny lion over his shoulders- a skin that reached his feet-
and took his spear in his hand.
Neither could Menelaus sleep, for he, too, boded ill for the Argives
who for his sake had sailed from far over the seas to fight the
Trojans. He covered his broad back with the skin of a spotted panther,
put a casque of bronze upon his head, and took his spear in his brawny
hand. Then he went to rouse his brother, who was by far the most
powerful of the Achaeans, and was honoured by the people as though
he were a god. He found him by the stern of his ship already putting
his goodly array about his shoulders, and right glad was he that his
brother had come.
Menelaus spoke first. "Why," said he, "my dear brother, are you thus
arming? Are you going to send any of our comrades to exploit the
Trojans? I greatly fear that no one will do you this service, and
spy upon the enemy alone in the dead of night. It will be a deed of
great daring."
And King Agamemnon answered, "Menelaus, we both of us need shrewd
counsel to save the Argives and our ships, for Jove has changed his
mind, and inclines towards Hector's sacrifices rather than ours. I
never saw nor heard tell of any man as having wrought such ruin in one
day as Hector has now wrought against the sons of the Achaeans- and
that too of his own unaided self, for he is son neither to god nor
goddess. The Argives will rue it long and deeply. Run, therefore, with
all speed by the line of the ships, and call Ajax and Idomeneus.
Meanwhile I will go to Nestor, and bid him rise and go about among the
companies of our sentinels to give them their instructions; they
will listen to him sooner than to any man, for his own son, and
Meriones brother in arms to Idomeneus, are captains over them. It
was to them more particularly that we gave this charge."
Menelaus replied, "How do I take your meaning? Am I to stay with
them and wait your coming, or shall I return here as soon as I have
given your orders?" "Wait," answered King Agamemnon, "for there are so
many paths about the camp that we might miss one another. Call every
man on your way, and bid him be stirring; name him by his lineage
and by his father's name, give each all titular observance, and
stand not too much upon your own dignity; we must take our full
share of toil, for at our birth Jove laid this heavy burden upon us."
With these instructions he sent his brother on his way, and went
on to Nestor shepherd of his people. He found him sleeping in his tent
hard by his own ship; his goodly armour lay beside him- his shield,
his two spears and his helmet; beside him also lay the gleaming girdle
with which the old man girded himself when he armed to lead his people
into battle- for his age stayed him not. He raised himself on his
elbow and looked up at Agamemnon. "Who is it," said he, "that goes
thus about the host and the ships alone and in the dead of night, when
men are sleeping? Are you looking for one of your mules or for some
comrade? Do not stand there and say nothing, but speak. What is your
business?"
And Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, son of Neleus, honour to the
Achaean name, it is I, Agamemnon son of Atreus, on whom Jove has
laid labour and sorrow so long as there is breath in my body and my
limbs carry me. I am thus abroad because sleep sits not upon my
eyelids, but my heart is big with war and with the jeopardy of the
Achaeans. I am in great fear for the Danaans. I am at sea, and without
sure counsel; my heart beats as though it would leap out of my body,
and my limbs fail me. If then you can do anything- for you too
cannot sleep- let us go the round of the watch, and see whether they
are drowsy with toil and sleeping to the neglect of their duty. The
enemy is encamped hard and we know not but he may attack us by night."
Nestor replied, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
Jove will not do all for Hector that Hector thinks he will; he will
have troubles yet in plenty if Achilles will lay aside his anger. I
will go with you, and we will rouse others, either the son of
Tydeus, or Ulysses, or fleet Ajax and the valiant son of Phyleus. Some
one had also better go and call Ajax and King Idomeneus, for their
ships are not near at hand but the farthest of all. I cannot however
refrain from blaming Menelaus, much as I love him and respect him- and
I will say so plainly, even at the risk of offending you- for sleeping
and leaving all this trouble to yourself. He ought to be going about
imploring aid from all the princes of the Achaeans, for we are in
extreme danger."
And Agamemnon answered, "Sir, you may sometimes blame him justly,
for he is often remiss and unwilling to exert himself- not indeed from
sloth, nor yet heedlessness, but because he looks to me and expects me
to take the lead. On this occasion, however, he was awake before I
was, and came to me of his own accord. I have already sent him to call
the very men whom you have named. And now let us be going. We shall
find them with the watch outside the gates, for it was there I said
that we would meet them."
"In that case," answered Nestor, "the Argives will not blame him nor
disobey his orders when he urges them to fight or gives them
instructions."
With this he put on his shirt, and bound his sandals about his
comely feet. He buckled on his purple coat, of two thicknesses, large,
and of a rough shaggy texture, grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod
spear, and wended his way along the line of the Achaean ships. First
he called loudly to Ulysses peer of gods in counsel and woke him,
for he was soon roused by the sound of the battle-cry. He came outside
his tent and said, "Why do you go thus alone about the host, and along
the line of the ships in the stillness of the night? What is it that
you find so urgent?" And Nestor knight of Gerene answered, "Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, take it not amiss, for the Achaeans are in great
straits. Come with me and let us wake some other, who may advise
well with us whether we shall fight or fly."
On this Ulysses went at once into his tent, put his shield about his
shoulders and came out with them. First they went to Diomed son of
Tydeus, and found him outside his tent clad in his armour with his
comrades sleeping round him and using their shields as pillows; as for
their spears, they stood upright on the spikes of their butts that
were driven into the ground, and the burnished bronze flashed afar
like the lightning of father Jove. The hero was sleeping upon the skin
of an ox, with a piece of fine carpet under his head; Nestor went up
to him and stirred him with his heel to rouse him, upbraiding him
and urging him to bestir himself. "Wake up," he exclaimed, "son of
Tydeus. How can you sleep on in this way? Can you not see that the
Trojans are encamped on the brow of the plain hard by our ships,
with but a little space between us and them?"
On these words Diomed leaped up instantly and said, "Old man, your
heart is of iron; you rest not one moment from your labours. Are there
no younger men among the Achaeans who could go about to rouse the
princes? There is no tiring you."
And Nestor knight of Gerene made answer, "My son, all that you
have said is true. I have good sons, and also much people who might
call the chieftains, but the Achaeans are in the gravest danger;
life and death are balanced as it were on the edge of a razor. Go
then, for you are younger than I, and of your courtesy rouse Ajax
and the fleet son of Phyleus."
Diomed threw the skin of a great tawny lion about his shoulders- a
skin that reached his feet- and grasped his spear. When he had
roused the heroes, he brought them back with him; they then went the
round of those who were on guard, and found the captains not
sleeping at their posts but wakeful and sitting with their arms
about them. As sheep dogs that watch their flocks when they are
yarded, and hear a wild beast coming through the mountain forest
towards them- forthwith there is a hue and cry of dogs and men, and
slumber is broken- even so was sleep chased from the eyes of the
Achaeans as they kept the watches of the wicked night, for they turned
constantly towards the plain whenever they heard any stir among the
Trojans. The old man was glad bade them be of good cheer. "Watch on,
my children," said he, "and let not sleep get hold upon you, lest
our enemies triumph over us."
With this he passed the trench, and with him the other chiefs of the
Achaeans who had been called to the council. Meriones and the brave
son of Nestor went also, for the princes bade them. When they were
beyond the trench that was dug round the wall they held their
meeting on the open ground where there was a space clear of corpses,
for it was here that when night fell Hector had turned back from his
onslaught on the Argives. They sat down, therefore, and held debate
with one another.
Nestor spoke first. "My friends," said he, "is there any man bold
enough to venture the Trojans, and cut off some straggler, or us
news of what the enemy mean to do whether they will stay here by the
ships away from the city, or whether, now that they have worsted the
Achaeans, they will retire within their walls. If he could learn all
this and come back safely here, his fame would be high as heaven in
the mouths of all men, and he would be rewarded richly; for the chiefs
from all our ships would each of them give him a black ewe with her
lamb- which is a present of surpassing value- and he would be asked as
a guest to all feasts and clan-gatherings."
They all held their peace, but Diomed of the loud war-cry spoke
saying, "Nestor, gladly will I visit the host of the Trojans over
against us, but if another will go with me I shall do so in greater
confidence and comfort. When two men are together, one of them may see
some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man
is alone he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker."
On this several offered to go with Diomed. The two Ajaxes,
servants of Mars, Meriones, and the son of Nestor all wanted to go, so
did Menelaus son of Atreus; Ulysses also wished to go among the host
of the Trojans, for he was ever full of daring, and thereon
Agamemnon king of men spoke thus: "Diomed," said he, "son of Tydeus,
man after my own heart, choose your comrade for yourself- take the
best man of those that have offered, for many would now go with you.
Do not through delicacy reject the better man, and take the worst
out of respect for his lineage, because he is of more royal blood."
He said this because he feared for Menelaus. Diomed answered, "If
you bid me take the man of my own choice, how in that case can I
fail to think of Ulysses, than whom there is no man more eager to face
all kinds of danger- and Pallas Minerva loves him well? If he were
to go with me we should pass safely through fire itself, for he is
quick to see and understand."
"Son of Tydeus," replied Ulysses, "say neither good nor ill about
me, for you are among Argives who know me well. Let us be going, for
the night wanes and dawn is at hand. The stars have gone forward,
two-thirds of the night are already spent, and the third is alone left
us."
They then put on their armour. Brave Thrasymedes provided the son of
Tydeus with a sword and a shield (for he had left his own at his ship)
and on his head he set a helmet of bull's hide without either peak
or crest; it is called a skull-cap and is a common headgear.
Meriones found a bow and quiver for Ulysses, and on his head he set
a leathern helmet that was lined with a strong plaiting of leathern
thongs, while on the outside it was thickly studded with boar's teeth,
well and skilfully set into it; next the head there was an inner
lining of felt. This helmet had been stolen by Autolycus out of
Eleon when he broke into the house of Amyntor son of Ormenus. He
gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Scandea, and Amphidamas
gave it as a guest-gift to Molus, who gave it to his son Meriones; and
now it was set upon the head of Ulysses.
When the pair had armed, they set out, and left the other chieftains
behind them. Pallas Minerva sent them a heron by the wayside upon
their right hands; they could not see it for the darkness, but they
heard its cry. Ulysses was glad when he heard it and prayed to
Minerva: "Hear me," he cried, "daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, you who
spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships;
befriend me in this mine hour, and grant that we may return to the
ships covered with glory after having achieved some mighty exploit
that shall bring sorrow to the Trojans."
Then Diomed of the loud war-cry also prayed: "Hear me too," said he,
"daughter of Jove, unweariable; be with me even as you were with my
noble father Tydeus when he went to Thebes as envoy sent by the
Achaeans. He left the Achaeans by the banks of the river Aesopus,
and went to the city bearing a message of peace to the Cadmeians; on
his return thence, with your help, goddess, he did great deeds of
daring, for you were his ready helper. Even so guide me and guard me
now, and in return I will offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer
of a year old, unbroken, and never yet brought by man under the
yoke. I will gild her horns and will offer her up to you in
sacrifice."
Thus they prayed, and Pallas Minerva heard their prayer. When they
had done praying to the daughter of great Jove, they went their way
like two lions prowling by night amid the armour and blood-stained
bodies of them that had fallen.
Neither again did Hector let the Trojans sleep; for he too called
the princes and councillors of the Trojans that he might set his
counsel before them. "Is there one," said he, "who for a great
reward will do me the service of which I will tell you? He shall be
well paid if he will. I will give him a chariot and a couple of
horses, the fleetest that can be found at the ships of the Achaeans,
if he will dare this thing; and he will win infinite honour to boot;
he must go to the ships and find out whether they are still guarded as
heretofore, or whether now that we have beaten them the Achaeans
design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are neglecting to keep
their watches."
They all held their peace; but there was among the Trojans a certain
man named Dolon, son of Eumedes, the famous herald- a man rich in gold
and bronze. He was ill-favoured, but a good runner, and was an only
son among five sisters. He it was that now addressed the Trojans.
"I, Hector," said he, "Will to the ships and will exploit them. But
first hold up your sceptre and swear that you will give me the
chariot, bedight with bronze, and the horses that now carry the
noble son of Peleus. I will make you a good scout, and will not fail
you. I will go through the host from one end to the other till I
come to the ship of Agamemnon, where I take it the princes of the
Achaeans are now consulting whether they shall fight or fly."
When he had done speaking Hector held up his sceptre, and swore
him his oath saying, "May Jove the thundering husband of Juno bear
witness that no other Trojan but yourself shall mount those steeds,
and that you shall have your will with them for ever."
The oath he swore was bootless, but it made Dolon more keen on
going. He hung his bow over his shoulder, and as an overall he wore
the skin of a grey wolf, while on his head he set a cap of ferret
skin. Then he took a pointed javelin, and left the camp for the ships,
but he was not to return with any news for Hector. When he had left
the horses and the troops behind him, he made all speed on his way,
but Ulysses perceived his coming and said to Diomed, "Diomed, here
is some one from the camp; I am not sure whether he is a spy, or
whether it is some thief who would plunder the bodies of the dead; let
him get a little past us, we can then spring upon him and take him.
If, however, he is too quick for us, go after him with your spear
and hem him in towards the ships away from the Trojan camp, to prevent
his getting back to the town."
With this they turned out of their way and lay down among the
corpses. Dolon suspected nothing and soon passed them, but when he had
got about as far as the distance by which a mule-plowed furrow exceeds
one that has been ploughed by oxen (for mules can plow fallow land
quicker than oxen) they ran after him, and when he heard their
footsteps he stood still, for he made sure they were friends from
the Trojan camp come by Hector's orders to bid him return; when,
however, they were only a spear's cast, or less away form him, he
saw that they were enemies as fast as his legs could take him. The
others gave chase at once, and as a couple of well-trained hounds
press forward after a doe or hare that runs screaming in front of
them, even so did the son of Tydeus and Ulysses pursue Dolon and cut
him off from his own people. But when he had fled so far towards the
ships that he would soon have fallen in with the outposts, Minerva
infused fresh strength into the son of Tydeus for fear some other of
the Achaeans might have the glory of being first to hit him, and he
might himself be only second; he therefore sprang forward with his
spear and said, "Stand, or I shall throw my spear, and in that case
I shall soon make an end of you."
He threw as he spoke, but missed his aim on purpose. The dart flew
over the man's right shoulder, and then stuck in the ground. He
stood stock still, trembling and in great fear; his teeth chattered,
and he turned pale with fear. The two came breathless up to him and
seized his hands, whereon he began to weep and said, "Take me alive; I
will ransom myself; we have great store of gold, bronze, and wrought
iron, and from this my father will satisfy you with a very large
ransom, should he hear of my being alive at the ships of the
Achaeans."
"Fear not," replied Ulysses, "let no thought of death be in your
mind; but tell me, and tell me true, why are you thus going about
alone in the dead of night away from your camp and towards the
ships, while other men are sleeping? Is it to plunder the bodies of
the slain, or did Hector send you to spy out what was going on at
the ships? Or did you come here of your own mere notion?"
Dolon answered, his limbs trembling beneath him: "Hector, with his
vain flattering promises, lured me from my better judgement. He said
he would give me the horses of the noble son of Peleus and his
bronze-bedizened chariot; he bade me go through the darkness of the
flying night, get close to the enemy, and find out whether the ships
are still guarded as heretofore, or whether, now that we have beaten
them, the Achaeans design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are
neglecting to keep their watches."
Ulysses smiled at him and answered, "You had indeed set your heart
upon a great reward, but the horses of the descendant of Aeacus are
hardly to be kept in hand or driven by any other mortal man than
Achilles himself, whose mother was an immortal. But tell me, and
tell me true, where did you leave Hector when you started? Where
lies his armour and his horses? How, too, are the watches and
sleeping-ground of the Trojans ordered? What are their plans? Will
they stay here by the ships and away from the city, or now that they
have worsted the Achaeans, will they retire within their walls?"
And Dolon answered, "I will tell you truly all. Hector and the other
councillors are now holding conference by the monument of great
Ilus, away from the general tumult; as for the guards about which
you ask me, there is no chosen watch to keep guard over the host.
The Trojans have their watchfires, for they are bound to have them;
they, therefore, are awake and keep each other to their duty as
sentinels; but the allies who have come from other places are asleep
and leave it to the Trojans to keep guard, for their wives and
children are not here."
Ulysses then said, "Now tell me; are they sleeping among the
Trojan troops, or do they lie apart? Explain this that I may
understand it."
"I will tell you truly all," replied Dolon. "To the seaward lie
the Carians, the Paeonian bowmen, the Leleges, the Cauconians, and the
noble Pelasgi. The Lysians and proud Mysians, with the Phrygians and
Meonians, have their place on the side towards Thymbra; but why ask
about an this? If you want to find your way into the host of the
Trojans, there are the Thracians, who have lately come here and lie
apart from the others at the far end of the camp; and they have Rhesus
son of Eioneus for their king. His horses are the finest and strongest
that I have ever seen, they are whiter than snow and fleeter than
any wind that blows. His chariot is bedight with silver and gold,
and he has brought his marvellous golden armour, of the rarest
workmanship- too splendid for any mortal man to carry, and meet only
for the gods. Now, therefore, take me to the ships or bind me securely
here, until you come back and have proved my words whether they be
false or true."
Diomed looked sternly at him and answered, "Think not, Dolon, for
all the good information you have given us, that you shall escape
now you are in our hands, for if we ransom you or let you go, you will
come some second time to the ships of the Achaeans either as a spy
or as an open enemy, but if I kill you and an end of you, you will
give no more trouble."
On this Dolon would have caught him by the beard to beseech him
further, but Diomed struck him in the middle of his neck with his
sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the
dust while he was yet speaking. They took the ferret-skin cap from his
head, and also the wolf-skin, the bow, and his long spear. Ulysses
hung them up aloft in honour of Minerva the goddess of plunder, and
prayed saying, "Accept these, goddess, for we give them to you in
preference to all the gods in Olympus: therefore speed us still
further towards the horses and sleeping-ground of the Thracians."
With these words he took the spoils and set them upon a tamarisk
tree, and they marked the place by pulling up reeds and gathering
boughs of tamarisk that they might not miss it as they came back
through the' flying hours of darkness. The two then went onwards
amid the fallen armour and the blood, and came presently to the
company of Thracian soldiers, who were sleeping, tired out with
their day's toil; their goodly armour was lying on the ground beside
them all orderly in three rows, and each man had his yoke of horses
beside him. Rhesus was sleeping in the middle, and hard by him his
horses were made fast to the topmost rim of his chariot. Ulysses
from some way off saw him and said, "This, Diomed, is the man, and
these are the horses about which Dolon whom we killed told us. Do your
very utmost; dally not about your armour, but loose the horses at
once- or else kill the men yourself, while I see to the horses."
Thereon Minerva put courage into the heart of Diomed, and he smote
them right and left. They made a hideous groaning as they were being
hacked about, and the earth was red with their blood. As a lion
springs furiously upon a flock of sheep or goats when he finds without
their shepherd, so did the son of Tydeus set upon the Thracian
soldiers till he had killed twelve. As he killed them Ulysses came and
drew them aside by their feet one by one, that the horses might go
forward freely without being frightened as they passed over the dead
bodies, for they were not yet used to them. When the son of Tydeus
came to the king, he killed him too (which made thirteen), as he was
breathing hard, for by the counsel of Minerva an evil dream, the
seed of Oeneus, hovered that night over his head. Meanwhile Ulysses
untied the horses, made them fast one to another and drove them off,
striking them with his bow, for he had forgotten to take the whip from
the chariot. Then he whistled as a sign to Diomed.
But Diomed stayed where he was, thinking what other daring deed he
might accomplish. He was doubting whether to take the chariot in which
the king's armour was lying, and draw it out by the pole, or to lift
the armour out and carry it off; or whether again, he should not
kill some more Thracians. While he was thus hesitating Minerva came up
to him and said, "Get back, Diomed, to the ships or you may be
driven thither, should some other god rouse the Trojans."
Diomed knew that it was the goddess, and at once sprang upon the
horses. Ulysses beat them with his bow and they flew onward to the
ships of the Achaeans.
But Apollo kept no blind look-out when he saw Minerva with the son
of Tydeus. He was angry with her, and coming to the host of the
Trojans he roused Hippocoon, a counsellor of the Thracians and a noble
kinsman of Rhesus. He started up out of his sleep and saw that the
horses were no longer in their place, and that the men were gasping in
their death-agony; on this he groaned aloud, and called upon his
friend by name. Then the whole Trojan camp was in an uproar as the
people kept hurrying together, and they marvelled at the deeds of
the heroes who had now got away towards the ships.
When they reached the place where they had killed Hector's scout,
Ulysses stayed his horses, and the son of Tydeus, leaping to the
ground, placed the blood-stained spoils in the hands of Ulysses and
remounted: then he lashed the horses onwards, and they flew forward
nothing loth towards the ships as though of their own free will.
Nestor was first to hear the tramp of their feet. "My friends," said
he, "princes and counsellors of the Argives, shall I guess right or
wrong?- but I must say what I think: there is a sound in my ears as of
the tramp of horses. I hope it may Diomed and Ulysses driving in
horses from the Trojans, but I much fear that the bravest of the
Argives may have come to some harm at their hands."
He had hardly done speaking when the two men came in and dismounted,
whereon the others shook hands right gladly with them and
congratulated them. Nestor knight of Gerene was first to question
them. "Tell me," said he, "renowned Ulysses, how did you two come by
these horses? Did you steal in among the Trojan forces, or did some
god meet you and give them to you? They are like sunbeams. I am well
conversant with the Trojans, for old warrior though I am I never
hold back by the ships, but I never yet saw or heard of such horses as
these are. Surely some god must have met you and given them to you,
for you are both of dear to Jove, and to Jove's daughter Minerva."
And Ulysses answered, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean
name, heaven, if it so will, can give us even better horses than
these, for the gods are far mightier than we are. These horses,
however, about which you ask me, are freshly come from Thrace.
Diomed killed their king with the twelve bravest of his companions.
Hard by the ships we took a thirteenth man- a scout whom Hector and
the other Trojans had sent as a spy upon our ships."
He laughed as he spoke and drove the horses over the ditch, while
the other Achaeans followed him gladly. When they reached the strongly
built quarters of the son of Tydeus, they tied the horses with
thongs of leather to the manger, where the steeds of Diomed stood
eating their sweet corn, but Ulysses hung the blood-stained spoils
of Dolon at the stern of his ship, that they might prepare a sacred
offering to Minerva. As for themselves, they went into the sea and
washed the sweat from their bodies, and from their necks and thighs.
When the sea-water had taken all the sweat from off them, and had
refreshed them, they went into the baths and washed themselves.
After they had so done and had anointed themselves with oil, they
sat down to table, and drawing from a full mixing-bowl, made a
drink-offering of wine to Minerva.

poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Undying One' - Canto I

MOONLIGHT is o'er the dim and heaving sea,--
Moonlight is on the mountain's frowning brow,
And by their silvery fountains merrily
The maids of Castaly are dancing now.
Young hearts, bright eyes, and rosy lips are there,
And fairy steps, and light and laughing voices,
Ringing like welcome music through the air--
A sound at which the untroubled heart rejoices.
But there are hearts o'er which that dancing measure
Heavily falls!
And there are ears to which the voice of pleasure
Still vainly calls !
There's not a scene on earth so full of lightness
That withering care
Sleeps not beneath the flowers, and turns their brightness
To dark despair!

Oh! Earth, dim Earth, thou canst not be our home;
Or wherefore look we still for joys to come?
The fairy steps are flown--the scene is still--
Nought mingles with the murmuring of the rill.
Nay, hush! it is a sound--a sigh--again!
It is a human voice--the voice of pain.
And beautiful is she, who sighs alone
Now that her young and playful mates are gone:
The dim moon, shining on her statue face,
Gives it a mournful and unearthly grace;
And she hath bent her gentle knee to earth;
And she hath raised her meek sad eyes to heaven--
As if in such a breast sin could have birth,
She clasps her hands, and sues to be forgiven.
Her prayer is over; but her anxious glance
Into the blue transparency of night
Seems as it fain would read the book of chance,
And fix the future hours, dark or bright.
A slow and heavy footstep strikes her ear--
What ails the gentle maiden?--Is it fear?
Lo! she hath lightly raised her from the ground,
And turn'd her small and stag-like head around;
Her pale cheek paler, and her lips apart,
Her bosom heaving o'er her beating heart:
And see, those thin white hands she raises now
To press the throbbing fever from her brow--

In vain--in vain! for never more shall rest
Find place in that young, fair, but erring breast!
He stands before her now--and who is he
Into whose outspread arms confidingly
She flings her fairy self?--Unlike the forms
That woo and win a woman's love--the storms
Of deep contending passions are not seen
Darkening the features where they once have been,
Nor the bright workings of a generous soul,
Of feelings half conceal'd, explain the whole.
But there is something words cannot express--
A gloomy, deep, and quiet fixedness;
A recklessness of all the blows of fate--
A brow untouch'd by love, undimm'd by hate--
As if, in all its stores of crime and care,
Earth held no suffering now for him to bear.
Yes--all is passionless--the hollow cheek
Those pale thin lips shall never wreathe with smiles;
Ev'n now, 'mid joy, unmoved and sad they speak
In spite of all his Linda's winning wiles.
Yet can we read, what all the rest denies,
That he hath feelings of a mortal birth,
In the wild sorrow of those dark bright eyes,
Bent on that form--his one dear link to earth.
He loves--and he is loved! then what avail
The scornful words which seek to brand with shame?

Or bitterer still, the wild and fearful tale
Which couples guilt and horror with that name?
What boots it that the few who know him shun
To speak or eat with that unworthy one?
Were all their words of scorn and malice proved,
It matters not--he loves and he is loved!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'Linda! my Linda!' thus the silence broke,
And slow and mournfully the stranger spoke,
'Seat we ourselves upon this mossy bed,
Where the glad airs of heaven wave o'er thy head,
And thou shalt hear the awful tale which ne'er
Hath yet been breathed, save once, to mortal ear.
And if, my Linda--nay, love, tremble not--
Thou shudder'st to partake so dark a lot--
Go--and be happy in forgetfulness,
And take--I'd bless thee if my tongue could bless,'
There was that sudden sinking of the tone
That lingers in our memory when alone,
And thrills the heart to think how deep the grief
Which sues no pity--looks for no relief.
Oh! deep, beyond the feeble power of tears,
Such scene will dwell within our souls for years;
And it will seem but yesterday we heard
The faltering pause--the calm but broken word;

Saw the averted head, where each blue vein
Swell'd in its agony of mental pain;
And heard the grief confess'd:--no, not confess'd,
But struggling burst convulsive from the breast!
'Isbal,' that gentle voice half-murmuring said,
As from his shoulder she upraised her head;
'Thou knowest I love thee. When I came to-night
I had resolved thy future, dark or bright,
Should still be mine--Beloved--so must it be,
For I have broke a fearful vow for thee.
This morning he who calls himself my brother
(Oh! can he be the child of my sweet mother?)
Pleaded once more for him--that hated friend
Whose bride I was to be; I could but bend
To the cold earth my faint and trembling knee,
And supplicate, with woman's agony,
That he would spare me--but an hour--a day--
I clasp'd my brother's knees--that brother said me nay!
He held a poinard to my shrinking heart,
And bade me breathe the vow--
Never in life or death from him to part
Who is--my husband now.
Isbal, we were betrothed; my lips in fear
Pronounced those words--but oh! my heart was here-
Here--in the calm cold moonlight by thy side,
Here--where the dark blue waters gently glide,

Here--in my childhood's haunts, now ev'n more dear.
Than in those happy days, for thou art near.
Yes--while the unheeded vow my faint lip spoke,
Recall'd the echo which thy tones awoke--
Thy image rose between me and the shrine;
Surely the vow before it breathed was thine.
To-morrow's sun proud Carlos claims his wife;
To-morrow's sun shall see my span of life
Devoted unto thee--thy tale can make
No lot I would not share for thy sweet sake;
No--Ere I hear it, let love's fond vow be--
To have no earth--no heaven--no hope but thee!
Now tell me all.'--Again that gentle head
With dewy eyes and flushing cheek is laid
Upon his arm; and with a thrill of pain
The broken thread is thus renew'd again:
'From the first hour I saw thee, on that night
When dancing in the moonbeam's chequer'd light
With those young laughing ones who now are gone,
By this same fountain which is murmuring on;
When my deep groan burst through the music's sound,
And that soft eye went glancing, startled, round--
From that sweet hour, when pity seem'd to move,
I loved thee--as the wretched only love.
Oft since, when in the darkness of my day
I sit, and dream my wretched life away;

In the deep silence of my night of tears,
When Memory wakes to mourn for vanish'd years;
Shunn'd--scorn'd--detested--friendless and alone,
I've thought of thee--and stifled back my groan!
I've come in daylight, and have flung me down
By the bright fountain's side,
Chased with dear thoughts of thee each gloomy frown,
And bless'd my promised bride.
I've come when stormy winds have howl'd around
Over the yielding flowers,
Bending their gentle heads unto the ground,
And thought of thee for hours.
I've come--my Linda knows that I have come
When the soft starlight told
That she had left her haughty brother's home,
And hearts, as dead and cold
As the chill waters of a moonless sea,
For the light dance and music's revelry.
With gay and loving maids; and I have watch'd
Till one by one those soft steps have departed,
And my young mournful Linda hath been snatch'd
To the sear bosom of the broken-hearted!
Linda, there is a land--a far dark land,
Where on this head the red avenging hand
Fell with its heaviest bolts--When watching by
The bitter cross of Him of Calvary

They stood who loved and did believe in Him,
I said, while all around grew dark and dim--'
'Isbal, dear Isbal!' shriek'd the affrighted maid,
'For that dear Saviour's sake--for him who said
He died for sinners--mock me not, I pray--
Oh! yet, beloved, those words of Death unsay!'
She hung upon his bosom, and look'd up
Into those dark wild eyes with grief and fear.
Alas! poor maiden, 'twas a bitter cup
To drink from hands which love had made so dear.
As a knell o'er the river
Flings its lingering tone,
Telling of joys for ever
Lost and gone:
As the murmuring sound
Of a slow deep stream,
Where the sullen shadows round
Reject each sunny beam:
So o'er the maiden's spirit, like a moan,
Falls the deep sameness of that strange calm tone.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'I tell thee centuries have pass'd away,
And that dark scene is still like yesterday;
The lurid clouds roll'd o'er each failing head,
The Godlike dying, and the guilty dead:

And awful signs were seen, and I was there--
Woman, I was--or wherefore my despair?
I'll whisper thee--* * * *
* * * * * *
Linda, my Linda! start not thus away--
My brain is 'wilder'd--what, love, did I say?
Forget the words--forget! Eternal God!
Is not this earth the same which then I trod?
Do not the stars gleam coldly from above,
Mocking the lips that dare to talk of love?
I know--I feel it cannot be forgot;
Yet, oh! forsake me not--forsake me not!
Didst thou not bid me tell thee all? oh! rest
Still on this worn and sad and guilty breast;
Whatever sins the eye of Heaven may see,
Its last faint throb alone will end its love for thee!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
I stood awhile, stifling my gasping breath,
Fearfully gazing on that scene of death:
Then with a shuddering groan of pain I shrouded
My straining eyes, and turn'd, a cowering worm,
To either side where grimly death had clouded
The image of his maker in man's form.
On one low cross a dark and fearful brow,
On which the dews of death are standing now,

Shows black despair:
And on the other, though the eye be dim,
And quivering anguish in each stiffening limb,
Mercy and hope are there!
Then rose the wailing sound of woman's woe
Appealing unto Heaven,
And sinners bow'd their heads, and bent them low,
And howl'd to be forgiven--
And I glanced madly round--One after one
They stole away, and I was left alone--
I--the Undying One, in that dim night!
Oh! words can never tell my soul's affright;
The sickening, thrilling, dark, and fainting fear
That rose within my breast:--I seem'd to hear
A thousand voices round; I could not pray,
But fled in solitary shame away.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Linda! thou wilt not think that after this
Dark hour of agony,
A day, a moment ev'n, of fever'd bliss
Could yet remain for me:
But so it was, a wild and sudden hope
Sprung in my heart--if that my life could cope
With sickness and with time, I yet might be
Happy through half an immortality.

I sat at festal boards, and quaff'd red wine,
And sang wild songs of merriment and mirth;
And bade young sparkling eyes around me shine,
And made a guilty paradise of earth.
I built me palaces, and loved to dwell
'Mongst all which most the eager heart rejoices;
Bright halls, where silvery fountains rose and fell,
And where were ringing light and cheerful voices;
Gay gardens where the bowery trees around
Their leafy branches spread,
And rosy flowers upon the mossy ground
Their honey'd perfume shed.
But yet the curse was on me; and it came
Tainting my life with pains like hell's dark flame.
The flowers withered:
One after one
Death's cold hand gathered,
Till all were gone:
And the eyes that were sparkling
With pleasure's ray,
Lay cold and darkling
Till judgment-day.
Lonely and weeping
A few were left,
Of those who were sleeping
Too soon bereft ;

But they soon were lying
Beneath the sod--
And I, the Undying,
Remained--with God!
And the silvery fountains went murmuring on,
But the voices of music and pleasure were gone.
And I could not bear the banquet-room,
Reminding me ever of my doom;
When the purple goblet I tried to quaff,
In my ear there rang some forgotten laugh;
And when the lay I sought to pour,
Voices came round me which sang no more.
Yea! when I saw some lovely form,
I thought how soon it must feed the worm--
And shrank from the touch it left behind,
As if I were not of human kind;
Or that the thing I could not save
Were withering, then, in the cold dark grave.
I wandered through my halls
Broken-hearted:--
Is it my voice which calls
On the departed,
With that stern, sad tone?
Where are, beloved in vain,
Your countless numbers?
May you not wake again

From your dark slumbers?
Am I to be alone?
Oh! let but one return--
One fond one only;
Raise up the heavy urn,
Life is so lonely--
I ask no more of Heaven.
The mocking echoes round,
My words repeating
With their dim dreary sound,
Forbid our meeting--
I may not be forgiven!
Linda! my Linda! those, and those alone
Who have lived on, when more than life was gone;
And being yet young, look to the heavy years
Which are to come--a future all of tears--
Those only who have stood in some bright spot
With those beloved ones who shared their lot,
And stand again in that sweet fairy scene,
When those young forms are as they had not been;
When gazing wildly round, some fancied word
Strikes on the listening spirit, and it seems
As if again those gentle tones were heard
Which never more can sound except in dreams--
Those only who have started and awoke
In anguish'd pain,

And yearn'd (the gladsome vision being broke)
To dream again--
Can feel for me. It seem'd a little day
In which that generation pass'd away;
And others rose up round me, and they trod
In those same streets--upon the selfsame sod
They loved and were beloved: they ate--they laugh'd--
And the rich grape from ancient goblets quaff'd:
But I remain'd alone--a blighted thing,
Like one sere leaf amid the flowers of spring!
My sick worn heart refused to cling again
To dreams that pass away, and yearnings vain.
Thou canst not think how strange:--how horribly strange
It was to see all round me fade and change,
And I remain the same!--I sat within
My halls of light, a thing of care and sin;
The echoes gave me back the wild sad tone
Of every deep and solitary moan;
Fearful I gazed on the bright walls around,
And dash'd the mocking mirrors to the ground.
And when I wander'd through the desert crowd
Of all my fellow-men, I could have bow'd
And grovell'd in the dust to him who would
Have struck my breast, to slay me where I stood.
They shrank from me as from some venomous snake
Watchfully coil'd to spring from the dark brake

On the unwary. Fearful--fearful tales
Pass'd on from sire to son, link'd with my name,
With all the awful mystery which veils
A tale of guilt, and deepens its dark shame
They shrank from me, I say, as, gaunt and wild
I wander'd on through the long summer's day
And every mother snatch'd her cowering child
With horror from my solitary way!
I fled from land to land, a hunted wretch;
From land to land those tales pursued me still:
Across the wide bright sea there seem'd to stretch
A long dark cloud my fairest hopes to kill.
I grew a wanderer: from Afric's coast,
Where gaily dwelt the yet unfetter'd black,
To Iran, of her eager sons the boast,
I went along my dim and cheerless track.
O'er the blue Mediterranean, with its isles
And dancing waves, and wildly pleasing song,
By Lusitania's land of sun and smiles,
My joyless bark in darkness sail'd along!
On many a soil my wandering feet have trod,
And heard the voice of nations worship God.
Where the dim-minded Heathen raised his prayer
To some bright spirit dwelling in mid-air,
I have stood by, and cursed the stiffen'd knee
Which would not bow like him to Deity.

Where the proud Ghebir, still at morning hour,
Confess'd a God of glory and of power
In the red sun that roll'd above his head,
There have I been, and burning tear-drops shed.
Where the Mahometan, through ages gone,
In his dark faith hath blindly wander'd on;
Where the incredulous Jew, yet unforgiven,
Still vainly waits the crucified of Heaven;
Where the meek Christian raises to the skies
His clasping hands, and his adoring eyes,
And prays that God--the All-seeing God--will bless
His heart with purity of holiness;
Where rosy infancy in smiles was kneeling,
With murmuring, half-imperfect word, appealing
Unto the giver of all good--where joy
Its tearful thanks return'd, and bless'd the day
When should be tasted bliss which cannot cloy,
And tears in heaven's own light be dried away;
And where the frantic voice of love's despair
Sends forth its thrilling sound, half wail, half prayer;
In every temple, and at every shrine
I've stood and wish'd the darkest worship mine--
So I might see, howe'er the beam mistaking,
Some smile from Heaven upon a heart that's breaking!

''Twas on God's glad and holy sabbath day,
When the wide world kneels down at once to pray,--
When every valley, every mountain sod,
Sends its faint tribute to the mighty God,
And the low murmurings of the voiceless airs
Waft on the echo of a thousand prayers--
I stood on England's fresh and fairy ground.
All lay in dewy stillness far around,
Save the soft chiming of the village bell,
Which seem'd a tale of love and peace to tell.
I stood among the tombs--and saw the crowd
Of Christians enter in;
Each meek and humble head they gently bow'd,
And chased the thoughts of sin.
I watch'd them-one by one they onward pass'd
And from my sight were gone,
The welcome opening door received the last
And left me there alone.
The blood rush'd thickly to my panting heart,
And as I turn'd me sorrowing to depart,
An inward voice seem'd whispering--'Sinner, go!
And with those meek adorers bend thee low.'
I trembled--hesitated--reach'd the door
Through which the pious crowd had ceased to pour:
A sudden faintness came upon me there,
And the relaxing limb refused to bear.

I sank upon a stone, and laid my head
Above the happy and unconscious dead;
And when I rose again, the doors were closed!
In vain I then my fearful thoughts opposed;
Some busy devil whisper'd at my heart
And tempted me to evil.--'Shall the dart
Of pain and anguish (thus I wildly said,)
Fall only on my persecuted head?
Shall they kneel peaceful down, and I stand here
Oppress'd with horror's sick and fainting fear?
Forbid it, Powers of Hell!'--A lowly cot
Stood near that calm and consecrated spot:
I enter'd it:--the morning sunshine threw
Its warm bright beams upon the flowers that grew
Around it and within it--'twas a place
So peaceful and so bright, that you might trace
The tranquil feelings of the dwellers there;
There was no taint of shame, or crime, or care.
On a low humble couch was softly laid
A little slumberer, whose rosy head
Was guarded by a watch-dog; while I stood
In hesitating, half-repentant mood,
My glance still met his large, bright, watchful eye,
Wandering from me to that sweet sleeper nigh.
Yes, even to that dumb animal I seem'd
A thing of crime: the murderous death-light gleam'd

Beneath my brow; the noiseless step was mine;
I moved with conscious guilt, and his low whine
Responded to my sigh, whose echo fell
Heavily--as 'twere loth within that cot to dwell.
My inmost heart grew sick--I turn'd me where
The smouldering embers of a fire still were;.
With shuddering hand I snatch'd a brand whose light
Appear'd to burn unnaturally bright;
And then with desperate step I bore that torch
Unto the chapel's consecrated porch!
A moment more that edifice had fired
And all within in agony expired;
But, dimly swelling through my feverish soul,
A chorus as from heaven's bright chancel came,
Dash'd from my madden'd lips Guilt's venom'd bowl,
And quench'd in bitter tears my heart's wild flame.
The pealing organ, with the solemn sound
Of countless voices, fill'd the air around;
And, as I leant my almost bursting brow
On the cold walls, the words came sad and slow
To me, the exiled one, who might not share
The joyfulness of their prayer.
Sadly I watch'd till through the open door
The crowd of worshippers began to pour;
The hour was over--they had pray'd to Heaven,
And now return'd to peaceful homes forgiven;

While I--one 'wildering glance I gave around
Upon that sunny, consecrated ground;
The warbling birds, whose little songs of joy
The future and the past can ne'er alloy;
The rosy flowers, the warm and welcome breeze
Murmuring gently through the summer trees,
All--all to me was cursed--I could not die!
I stretch'd my yearning arms unto the sky,
I press'd my straining fingers on my brow,
(Nothing could cool its maddening pulses now,)
And flung me groaning by a tombstone there
To weep in my despair!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Long had I wept: a gentle sound of woe
Struck on my ear--I turn'd the cause to know.
I saw a young fair creature silently
Kneeling beside a stone,
A form as bright as man would wish to see,
Or woman wish to own;
And eyes, whose true expression should be gladness,
Beam'd forth in momentary tears of sadness,
Showing like sun-shine through a summer rain
How soon 'twill all be bright and clear again.
I loved her!--
* * * * * *

In truth she was a light and lovely thing,
Fair as the opening flower of early spring.
The deep rose crimson'd in her laughing cheek,
And her eyes seem'd without the tongue to speak;
Those dark blue glorious orbs!--oh! summer skies
Were nothing to the heaven of her eyes.
And then she had a witching art
To wile all sadness from the heart;
Wild as the half-tamed gazelle,
She bounded over hill and dell,
Breaking on you when alone
With her sweet and silvery tone,
Dancing to her gentle lute
With her light and fairy foot;
To our lone meeting-place
Stealing slow with gentle pace,
To hide among the feathery fern;
And, while waiting her return,
I wander'd up and down for hours--
She started from amid the flowers,
Wild, and fresh, and bright as they,
To wing again her sportive way.

'And she was good as she was fair;
Every morn and every even

Kneeling down in meekness there
To the Holy One of Heaven;
While those bright and soul-fraught eyes
With an angel's love seem'd burning,
All the radiance of blue skies
With an equal light returning.
The dream of guilt and misery
In that young soul had never enter'd;
Her hopes of Heaven--her love of me,
Were all in which her heart had centred:
Her longest grief, her deepest woe,
When by her mother's tomb she knelt,
Whom she had lost too young to know
How deep such loss is sometimes felt.

'It was not grief, but soft regret,
Such as, when one bright sun hath set
After a happy day, will come
Stealing within our heart's gay home,
Yet leaves a hope (that heart's best prize)
That even brighter ones may rise.
A tear, for hours of childhood wept;
A garland, wove for her who slept;
A prayer, that the pure soul would bless
Her child, and save from all distress;

A sigh, as clasp'd within her own
She held my hand beside that stone,
And told of many a virtue rare
That shone in her who slumber'd there--
Were all that clouded for a while
The brightness of her sunny smile.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
It was a mild sweet evening, such
As thou and I have sometimes felt
When the soul feels the scene so much
That even wither'd hearts must melt;
We sat beside that sacred place--
Her mother's tomb; her glorious head
Seem'd brightening with immortal grace,
As the impartial sun-light shed
Its beams alike on the cold grave,
Wandering o'er the unconscious clay,
And on the living eyes which gave
Back to those skies their borrow'd ray.
'Isbal, beloved!' 'twas thus my Edith spoke,
(And my worn heart almost to joy awoke
Beneath the thrill of that young silver tone
'Isbal, before thou call'st me all thine own,
I would that I might know the whole
Of what is gloomy in thy soul.

Nay, turn not on me those dark eyes
With such wild anguish and surprise.
In spite of every playful wile,
Thou know'st I never see thee smile;
And oft, when, laughing by thy side
Thou think'st that I am always gay,
Tears which are hanging scarcely dried
By thy fond kiss are wiped away.
And deem me not a child; for though
A gay and careless thing I be,
Since I have loved, I feel that, oh!
I could bear aught--do aught for thee!'

'What boots it to record each gentle tone
Of that young voice, when ev'n the tomb is gone
By which we sat and talk'd? that innocent voice,
So full of joy and hope, that to rejoice
Seem'd natural to those who caught the sound!
The rosy lips are moulder'd under ground:
And she is dead--the beautiful is dead!
The loving and the loved hath pass'd away,
And deep within her dark and narrow bed
All mutely lies what was but breathing clay.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *

Why did I tell the wildly horrible tale?--
Why did I trust the voice that told me she
Could bear to see beyond the lifted veil
A future life of hopeless misery?--
I told her all-- * * * *
There was a long deep pause.
I dared not raise my eyes to ask the cause,
But waited breathlessly to hear once more
The gentle tones which I had loved of yore.
Was that her voice?--oh God!--was that her cry?
Were hers those smother'd tones of agony?
Thus she spoke; while on my brow
The cold drops stood as they do now :--
'It is not that I could not bear
The worst of ills with thee to share:
It is not that thy future fate
Were all too dark and desolate:
Earth holds no pang--Hell shows no fear
I would not try at least to bear;
And if my heart too weak might be,
Oh! it would then have broke for thee!
No, not a pang one tear had cost
But this--to see thee, know thee, lost!'

'My parch'd lips strove for utterance--but no,
I could but listen still, with speechless woe:
I stretch'd my quivering arms--'Away! away!'
She cried, 'and let me humbly kneel, and pray
For pardon; if, indeed, such pardon be
For having dared to love--a thing like thee!'

'I wrung the drops from off my brow;
I sank before her, kneeling low
Where the departed slept.
I spoke to her of heaven's wrath
That clouded o'er my desert path,
I raised my voice and wept!
I told again my heart's dark dream,
The lighting of joy's fever'd beam,
The pain of living on;
When all of fair, and good, and bright;
Sank from my path like heaven's light
When the warm sun is gone.
But though 'twas pity shone within her eye,
'Twas mingled with such bitter agony,
My blood felt chill.
Her round arms cross'd upon her shrinking breast,
Her pale and quivering lip in fear compress'd
Of more than mortal ill,
She stood.--'My Edith!--mine!' I frantic cried;
'My Edith!--mine!' the sorrowing hills replied;

And the familiar sound so dear erewhile,
Brought to her lip a wild and ghastly smile.
Then gazing with one long, long look of love,
She lifted up her eyes to heaven above,
And turned them on me with a gush of tears:
Those drops renew'd my mingled hopes and fears.
'Edith!--oh! hear me!' With averted face
And outspread arms she shrank from my embrace.
'Away!--away!'--She bent her shuddering knee,
Bow'd her bright head--and Edith ceased to be!
She was so young, so full of life,
I linger'd o'er the mortal strife
That shook her frame, with hope--how vain!
Her spirit might return again.
Could she indeed be gone?--the love
Of my heart's inmost core!--I strove
Against the truth.--That thing of smiles,
With all her glad and artless wiles--
She, who one hour ago had been
The fairy of that magic scene!--
She, whose fond playful eye such brilliance shed,
That laughter-loving thing--could she be cold and dead?--
I buried her, and left her there;
And turn'd away in my despair.

'And Evening threw her shadows round
That beautiful and blessed ground,
And all the distant realms of light
Twinkled from out the dark blue night.
So calmly pure--so far away
From all Earth's sorrows and her crimes,
The gentle scene before me lay;
So like the world of olden times,
That those who gazed on it might swear
Nothing but peace could enter there.
And yet there lay ungrown, untrod,
The fresh and newly turned-up sod,
Which cover'd o'er as fair a form
As ever fed the noxious worm.
There, but an hour ago--yea, less,
The agony and bitterness
Of human feelings, wrought so high
We can but writhe awhile and die,
Troubled the peace around; and sent
Wild shrieks into the firmament.
How strange the earth, our earth, should share
So little in our crime or care!
The billows of the treacherous main
Gape for the wreck, and close again
With dancing smiles, as if the deep
Had whelm'd not with eternal sleep

Many and many a warm young heart
Which swell'd to meet, and bled to part.
The battle plain its verdant breast
Will show in bright and sunny rest,
Although its name is now a word
Through sobs, and moans, and wailing heard;
And many, mourn'd for from afar,
There died the writhing death of war.
Yea, ev'n the stream, by whose cool side
Lay those who thirsted for its tide,
Yearning for some young hand of yore,
Wont in bright hours with smiles to pour
The mantling wine for him whose blood
Is mixing with the glassy flood--
Ev'n that pure fountain gushes by
With all its former brilliancy;
Nor bears with it one tint to show
How crimson it began to flow.
And thus an echo takes the tone
Of agony: and when 'tis gone,
Air, earth, and sea forget the sound,
And all is still and silent round.
And thus upon each cherish'd grave
The sunbeams smile, the branches wave;
And all our tears for those who now are not,
Sink in the flowery turf--and are forgot!

* * * * * *
* * * * * *
And I return'd again, and yet again,
To that remember'd scene of joy and pain:
And ev'n while sitting by the early tomb
Of her who had deserved a better doom,
Her laughing voice rang in my ear,
Her fairy step seem'd coming near,
Until I raised my heavy eyes:
Then on the lone and desert spot I bow'd,
And hid my groaning head, and wept aloud.'

The stranger paused--and Linda gently wept
For him who lived in pain--for her who slept;
And clung to him, as if she fear'd that fate
Would strike him there and leave her desolate.
He spoke--and deaf her ear to all below,
Save the deep magic of that voice of woe!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 03

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

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

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Child Of The Islands - Autumn

I.

BROWN Autumn cometh, with her liberal hand
Binding the Harvest in a thousand sheaves:
A yellow glory brightens o'er the land,
Shines on thatched corners and low cottage-eaves,
And gilds with cheerful light the fading leaves:
Beautiful even here, on hill and dale;
More lovely yet where Scotland's soil receives
The varied rays her wooded mountains hail,
With hues to which our faint and soberer tints are pale.
II.

For there the Scarlet Rowan seems to mock
The red sea coral--berries, leaves, and all;
Light swinging from the moist green shining rock
Which beds the foaming torrent's turbid fall;
And there the purple cedar, grandly tall,
Lifts its crowned head and sun-illumined stem;
And larch (soft drooping like a maiden's pall)
Bends o'er the lake, that seems a sapphire gem
Dropt from the hoary hill's gigantic diadem.
III.

And far and wide the glorious heather blooms,
Its regal mantle o'er the mountains spread;
Wooing the bee with honey-sweet perfumes,
By many a viewless wild flower richly shed;
Up-springing 'neath the glad exulting tread
Of eager climbers, light of heart and limb;
Or yielding, soft, a fresh elastic bed,
When evening shadows gather, faint and dim,
And sun-forsaken crags grow old, and gaunt, and grim.
IV.

Oh, Land! first seen when Life lay all unknown,
Like an unvisited country o'er the wave,
Which now my travelled heart looks back upon,
Marking each sunny path, each gloomy cave,
With here a memory, and there a grave:--
Land of romance and beauty; noble land
Of Bruce and Wallace; land where, vainly brave,
Ill-fated Stuart made his final stand,
Ere yet the shivered sword fell hopeless from his hand--
V.

I love you! I remember you! though years
Have fleeted o'er the hills my spirit knew,
Whose wild uncultured heights the plough forbears,
Whose broomy hollows glisten in the dew.
Still shines the calm light with as rich a hue
Along the wooded valleys stretched below?
Still gleams my lone lake's unforgotten blue?
Oh, land! although unseen, how well I know
The glory of your face in this autumnal glow!
VI.

I know your deep glens, where the eagles cry;
I know the freshness of your mountain breeze,
Your brooklets, gurgling downward ceaselessly,
The singing of your birds among the trees,
Mingling confused a thousand melodies!
I know the lone rest of your birchen bowers,
Where the soft murmur of the working bees
Goes droning past, with scent of heather flowers,
And lulls the heart to dream even in its waking hours.
VII.

I know the grey stones in the rocky glen,
Where the wild red-deer gather, one by one,
And listen, startled, to the tread of men
Which the betraying breeze hath backward blown!
So,--with such dark majestic eyes, where shone
Less terror than amazement,--nobly came
Peruvia's Incas, when, through lands unknown,
The cruel conqueror with the blood-stained name
Swept, with pursuing sword and desolating flame!
VIII.

So taken, so pursued, so tracked to death,
The wild free monarch of the hills shall be,
By cunning men, who creep, with stifled breath,
O'er crag and heather-tuft, on bended knee,
Down-crouching with most thievish treachery;
Climbing again, with limbs o'erspent and tired,
Watching for that their failing eyes scarce see,--
The moment, long delayed and long desired,
When the quick rifle-shot in triumph shall be fired.
IX.

Look! look!--what portent riseth on the sky?
The glory of his great betraying horns;
Wide-spreading, many-branched, and nobly-high,
(Such spoil the chieftain's hall with pride adorns.)
Oh, Forest-King! the fair succeeding morns
That brighten o'er those hills, shall miss your crest
From their sun-lighted peaks! He's hit,--but scorn
To die without a struggle: sore distrest,
He flies, while daylight fades, receding in the West.
X.

Ben-Doran glows like iron in the forge,
Then to cold purple turns,--then gloomy grey;
And down the ravine-pass and mountain-gorge
Scarce glimmers now the faintest light of day.
The moonbeams on the trembling waters play,
(Though still the sky is flecked with bars of gold
And there the noble creature stands, at bay;
His strained limbs shivering with a sense of cold,
While weakness films the eye that shone so wildly bold.
XI.

His fair majestic head bows low at length;
And, leaping at his torn and bleeding side,
The fierce dogs pin him down with grappling strength;
While eager men come on with rapid stride,
And cheer, exulting in his baffled pride.
Now, from its sheath drawn forth, the gleaming knife
Stabs his broad throat: the gaping wound yawns wide:
One gurgling groan, the last deep sigh of life,
Wells with his gushing blood,--and closed is all the strife!
XII.

'Tis done! The hunted, animal Despair,
That hoped and feared no future state, is past:
O'er the stiff nostril blows the evening air;
O'er the glazed eye real darkness gathers fast;
Into a car the heavy corse is cast;
And homeward the belated hunter hies,
Eager to boast of his success at last,
And shew the beauty of his antlered prize,
To Her he loves the best,--the maid with gentle eyes!
XIII.

And she, whose tender heart would beat and shrink
At the loud yelping of a punished hound,
With rosy lips and playful smile shall drink
The Highland health to him, that circles round.
And where the creature lies, with crimson wound,
And cold, stark limbs, and purple eyes half-closed,
There shall her gentle feet at morn be found!
Of such strange mixtures is the heart composed,
So natural-soft,--so hard, by cunning CUSTOM glozed.
XIV.

But, lo! the Sabbath rises o'er those hills!
And gathering fast from many a distant home,
By wild romantic paths, and shallow rills,
The Highland groups to distant worship come.
Lightly their footsteps climb, inured to roam
Miles through the trackless heather day by day:
Lasses, with feet as white as driven foam,
And lads, whose various tartans, brightly gay,
With shifting colour deck the winding mountain way.
XV.

And some, with folded hands and looks demure,
Are nathless stealing lingering looks behind,
Their young hearts not less reverently pure
Because they hope to welcome accents kind,
And, in that Sabbath crowd, the Loved to find;
And children, glancing with their innocent eyes,
At every flower that quivers in the wind;
And grey-haired shepherds, calm, and old, and wise,
With peasant-wisdom,--drawn from gazing on the skies.
XVI.

And Auld-Wives, who with Sabbath care have donned
Their snowy mutches, clean, and fresh, and white;
And pious eyes that well The BOOK have conned;
And snooded heads, bound round with ribands bright;
And last,--an old man's grandchild, treading light
By his blind footsteps; or a Mother mild,
Whose shadowy lashes veil her downcast sight,
Bearing along her lately christened child:--
And still by friendly talk their journey is beguiled.
XVII.

Oh, Scotland, Scotland!--in these later days,
How hath thy decent worship been disgraced!
Where, on your Sabbath hills, for prayer and praise,
Solemn the feet of reverend elders paced,
With what wild brawling, with what ruffian haste,
Gathering to brandish Discord's fatal torch,
Have men your sacred altar-grounds defaced;
Mocking with howling fury, at the porch,
The ever-listening God, in his own holy Church!
XVIII.

The Taught would choose their Teacher: be it so!
Doubtless his lessons they will humbly learn,
Bowing the meek heart reverently low,
Who first claim right to choose him or to spurn;
Drop sentences of suffrage in the urn;
And ballot for that Minister of God,
Whose sacred mission is to bid them turn
Obedient eyes toward the chastening rod,
And walk the narrow path by humbler Christians trod!
XIX.

Choose,--since your forms permit that choice to be,--
But choose in brotherhood, and pious love;
Assist at that selection solemnly,
As at a sacrifice to One above.
What! fear ye Rome's high altars? Shall THEY prove
The error and the stumbling-block alone?
Their crucifixes, meant your hearts to move,--
Their pictured saints--their images of stone--
Their Virgins garlanded--their Jesu on his Throne?
XX.

Yea! rather fear 'the image of a Voice,'
Set up to be an idol and a snare:
Fear the impression of your prideful choice,
The human heart-beat mingling with the prayer;
The heavy sigh that comes all unaware;
The sense of weeping, strugglingly represt;
The yearning adoration and despair,
With which unworthiness is then confest;
Mortal disturbance sent to break Religion's rest!
XXI.

Fear the excitement--fear the human power
Of eloquent words, which 'twixt you and the skies,
Stand like a fretted screen; and, for that hour,
Confuse and mar the tranquil light that lies
Beyond, unbroken! Fear the glow that dies
With the occasion: darkest dangers yawn
'Neath the foundation where your hope would rise:
For true light fadeth not, nor is withdrawn,
The Lamb's calm City wrapt in one Eternal Dawn!
XXII.

Children, who playing in their ignorant mirth,
Behold the sunbeam's warm reflected ray,
Reaching to grasp it, touch the blank cold earth,
Their eyes averted from the Source of Day,
Not knowing where the Actual Glory lay.
Fear YE to snatch at glittering beams, and lose
The light that should have cheered your mortal way:
Tremble, responsible yet weak, to choose;
'Ye know not what ye ask,'--nor what ye should refuse!
XXIII.

Say, was it word of power, or fluent speech,
Which marked those simple men of Galilee,
For Christ's disciples? was it theirs to preach
With winning grace, and artful subtilty,
The Saviour's message,--'Die to live with me?'
Bethsaida's fisherman, who bare the spite
Of heathen rage at Patras,--or those three
Who saw HIM glorified on Tabor's height,
And bathed in bloody sweat on dark Gethsemane's night?
XXIV.

The homeliest voice that weakly leads the van
Of many prayers, shall sound as sweet among
The angel host,--as his, the eloquent man,
Who with miraculous sweet, and fervent tongue,
Charms with a spell the mute, applauding throng;
No better, (as respects his human gift)
Than many a Heathen Poet, whose great song,
Age after age continues yet to lift,
As down the Stream of Time melodious treasures drift.
XXV.

Brothers, why make ye War? and in His Name,
Whose message to the earth was Peace and Love;
What time the awful voice to Shepherds came,
And the clear Herald-Star shone out above?
When shall the meaning of that message move
Our bitter hearts? When shall we cease to come
The patience of a gentle God to prove;
Cainlike in temper,--though no life we doom,--
Our prayer a curse, although our altar be no tomb?
XXVI.

When that indulgence which the PERFECT grants,
By the IMPERFECT also shall be granted;
When narrow light that falls in crooked slants,
Shines broad and bright where'er its glow is wanted;
When cherished errors humbly are recanted;
When there are none who set themselves apart,
To watch how Prayers are prayed, and sweet hymns chanted;
With eyes severe, and criticising heart,--
As though some Player flawed the acting of his part.
XXVII.

From Saints on Earth,--defend us, Saints in Heaven!
By their un-likeness to the thing they ape;
Their cheerlessness, where God such joy hath given,
(Covering this fair world with a veil of crape)
Their lack of kindliness in any shape;
Their fierce, false judgments of another's sin;
And by the narrowness of mind they drape
With full-blown fantasies, and boasts to win
A better path to Heaven, than others wander in!
XXVIII.

And ye, calm Angels in that blissful world,
From whence (close knit in brotherhood of strife)
The strong rebellious spirits, downward hurled,
Came to this Earth, with love and beauty rife,
And poisoned all the fountain-wells of life;
Spread the soft shelter of your peaceful wings,
When hard looks stab us like a two-edged knife,
And hearts that yearned for Pity's healing springs,
Are mocked, in dying thirst, by gall which Malice brings.
XXIX.

From the cold glare of their self-righteous eyes,--
From scornful lips, brimful of bitter words,--
From the curled smile that triumphs and defies,--
From arguments that sound like clashing swords,--
Save us, ye dwellers among music-chords!
Whose unseen presence doubtless lingers nigh,
Although no more our blinded sense affords
Your radiant image to the craving eye,
Nor sees your herald-wings, swift-spreading, cleave the sky!
XXX.

No more to Ishmael's thirst, or Hagar's prayer,
The suffering or the longing heart on Earth;
No more to soothe funereal despair;
No more to fill the cruise in bitter dearth,
Or turn the widow's wailing into mirth;
Shall they return who watched in holy pain
The Human Death, that closed the Heavenly Birth!
Rebellious earth, twice sanctified in vain,
Lonely from those pure steps must evermore remain.
XXXI.

But deep in each man's heart, some angel dwells,--
Mournfully, as in a sepulchral tomb;
Set o'er our nature like calm sentinels,
Denying passage to bad thoughts that come
Tempting us weakly to our final doom,
Patient they watch, whatever may betide;
Shedding pure rays of glory through the gloom,
And bowing meek wings over human pride,--
As once in the lone grave of Him, the Crucified!
XXXII.

Angels of Grief,--who, when our weak eyes tire
Of shedding tears, their sad sweet lessons teach;
Angels of Hope,--who lift with strong desire
Our mortal thoughts beyond a mortal reach;
Angels of Mercy,--who to gentle speech,
And meek, forgiving words, the heart incline,
Weaving a link of brotherhood for each;
Angels of Glory,--whose white vestments shine
Around the good man's couch, in dying life's decline.
XXXIII.

Need of such heavenly counterpoise have we
To bear us up, when we would grovel down;
To keep our clogged and tarnished natures free
From the world-rust that round our hearts hath grown
Like mouldering moss upon a sculptured stone;
To soften down the cruelty and sin
Of crabbèd Selfishness, that stands alone,
With greedy eyes that watch what they may win,
The whole wide world a field to gather harvest in!
XXXIV.

To gather Harvest! In this Autumn prime,
Earth's literal harvest cumbers the glad land!
This is the sultry moment--the dry time,
When the ripe golden ears, that shining stand,
Fall, rustling, to the Reaper's nimble hand:
When, from those plains the bright sheaves lie among,
(Whose fertile view the sloping hills command,)
Float cheerful sounds of laughter and of song,
And merry-making jests from many a rural throng.
XXXV.

Sweet is the prospect which that distance yields!
Here, honest toil;--while there a sunburnt child
Sleeps by the hedge-row that divides the fields,
Or where the sheltering corn is stacked and piled;
And as the groups have one by one defiled,
(Leaving unwatched the little sleeper's place,)
You guess the Mother, by the way she smiled;
The holy Love that lit her peasant-face,
The lingering glance, replete with Feeling's matchless grace.
XXXVI.

He lieth safe until her task be done--
Lulled, basking, into slumber sound and deep;
That Universal Cherisher, the Sun,
With kindly glow o'erlooks his harmless sleep,
And the rough dog close neighbourhood shall keep,
(Friend of the noble and the lowly born)
Till careful shepherds fold the wandering sheep,
And wearied reapers leave the unfinished corn--
Resting through dewy night, to recommence at morn.
XXXVII.

Oh, picture of Abundance and of Joy!
Oh, golden Treasure given by God to Man!
Why com'st thou shaded by a base alloy?
What root of evil poisons Nature's plan?
Why should the strain not end as it began,
With notes that echo music as they come?
What mournful silence--what mysterious ban--
Hushes the tones of those who onward roam,
With choral gladness singing,--'happy Harvest-Home?'
XXXVIII.

What altered cadence lingers in the Vale,
Whose mass of full-eared sheaves the reapers bind?
A sound more sad than Autumn-moaning gale,
More dreary than the later whistling wind
That ushers Winter, bitter and unkind.
Again!--it soundeth like a human sigh!
A horrid fear grows present to my mind:
Here, where the grain is reaped that stood so high,
A Man hath lain him down: to slumber?--no,--to die!
XXXIX.

Past the Park gate,--along the market-road,--
And where green water-meadows freshly shine,
By many a Squire and Peer's unseen abode,--
And where the village Alehouse swings its sign,
Betokening rest, and food, and strengthening wine,--
By the rich dairy, where, at even-tide,
Glad Maidens, singing, milk the lowing kine,--
Under blank shadowing garden-walls, that hide
The espaliered fruit well trained upon their sunnier side,--
XL.

Jaded and foot-sore, he hath struggled on,
Retracing with sunk heart his morning track;
In vain to HIM the Harvest and the Sun;
Doomed, in the midst of plenteousness, to lack,
And die unfed, beneath the loaded stack,
He hath been wandering miles to seek RELIEF;
(Disabled servant--Labour's broken hack!)
And he returns--refused! His Hour is brief;
But there are those at home for whom he groans with grief.
XLI.

My pulse beats faster with the coming fear!
I cannot lift his dull expiring weight:
What if the fainting wretch should perish here?
Here,--sinking down beside the rich man's gate,--
On the cropped harvest;--miserable fate!
He tells me something--what, I cannot learn:
Feeble--confused--the words he fain would state:
But accents of complaint I can discern,
And mention of his wife and little ones in turn!
XLII.

He's DEAD! In that last sigh his weak heart burst!
An end hath now been put to many woes:
The storm-beat mariner hath reached the worst,--
His 'harbour and his ultimate repose.'
He to a world of better justice goes,
We to the Inquest-Room, to hear, in vain,
Description of the strong convulsive throes,
The mighty labour, and the petty gain,
By which a struggling life gets quit at last of pain.
XLIII.

To hear, and to forget, the oft-told story,
Of what forsaken Want in silence bears:
So tarnishing commercial England's glory!
To hear rich men deny that poor men's cares
Should be accounted business of theirs;
To hear pale neighbours (one degree less poor
Than him who perished) prove, all unawares,
The generous opening of THEIR lowly door,
The self-denying hearts that shared the scanty store.
XLIV.

To hear, and acquiesce in, shallow words,
Which make it seem the sickly labourer's fault,
That he hath no accumulated hoards
Of untouched wages; wine, and corn, and malt;
To use when eyesight fails, or limbs grow halt;
To hear his character at random slurred,--
'An idle fellow, sir, not worth his salt;'
And every one receive a bitter word
For whom his clay-cold heart with living love was stirred:
XLV.

His Wife, a shrew and slattern, knowing not
(What all her betters understand so well)
How to bring comfort to a poor man's lot,
How to keep house,--and how to buy and sell;
His Daughter, a degraded minx, who fell
At sixteen years,--and bore a child of shame,
Permitted with th' immoral set to dwell!
His eldest Son, an idiot boy, and lame,--
In short, the man WAS starved--but no one was to blame.
XLVI.

No one:--Oh! 'Merry England,' hearest thou?
Houseless and hungry died he on thy breast!
No one: Oh! 'Fertile England,' did thy plough--
Furrow no fields; or was their growth represt
By famine-blights that swept from east to west?
No one:--'Religious England,' preach the word
In thy thronged temples on the Day of Rest,
And bid the war of Faith and Works accord:--
'Who giveth to the Poor, he lendeth to the Lord!'
XLVII.

Trust me, that not a soul whose idle hand
Stinted to spare, and so declined to save;
Not one of all who call it 'Native Land,'
Which to their dead and starved compatriot gave
A humble cradle,--and a lowlier grave,--
Stands blameless of this death before the face
Of judging Heaven! The gathered store they have,
That shall condemn them. National disgrace
Rests on the country cursed by such a piteous case.
XLVIII.

And yet not once, nor twice, but countless times,
We, in blind worship of the golden calf,
Allow of deaths like these! While funeral chimes
Toll for the rich, whose graven paragraph
Of vanished virtues (too complete by half),
The heirs of their importance soothe and please.
The poor man dies--and hath no EPITAPH!
What if your churchyards held such lines as these,
The listless eye to strike,--the careless heart to freeze?
XLIX.

'Here lies a man who died of Hunger-pain,
In a by-street of England's Capital.
Honest, (in vain!) industrious, (in vain!)
Willing to spend in useful labour all
His years from youth to age. A dangerous fall
Shattered his limbs, and brought him to distress.
His health returned: his strength was past recall:
He asked assistance (earnings growing less,)
Received none, struggled on, and died of Want's excess.'
L.

'Here rests in Death, (who rested not in Life!)
The worn-out Mother of a starving brood:
By night and day, with most courageous strife,
She fought hard Fortune to procure them food:
(A desert-pelican, whose heart's best blood
Oozed in slow drops of failing strength away!)
Much she endured; much misery withstood;
At length weak nature yielded to decay,
And baffled Famine seized his long-resisting prey.'
LI.

Oh! the green mounds, that have no head-stones o'er them,
To tell who lies beneath, in slumber cold;
Oh! the green mounds, that saw no Mutes deplore them,
The Pauper-Graves, for whom no church-bells tolled;
What if our startled senses could behold,
(As we to Sabbath-prayer walk calmly by,)
Their visionary epitaphs enrolled;
Upstanding grimly 'neath God's equal sky,
Near the white sculptured tombs where wealthier Christians lie!
LII.

Then we should THINK: then we should cry, ALAS!
Then many a pulse would flutter mournfully,
And steps would pause, that now so reckless pass:
For, in this chequered world of ours, we see
Much Carelessness, but little Cruelty;
And (though Heaven knows it is no boast to tell,)
There dwelleth in us a deep sympathy,
Too often, like the stone-closed Arab well,
Sealed from their helpless thirst whose torments it should quell.
LIII.

We shelter SELFISHNESS behind the mask
Of INCREDULITY: we will not own
What, if admitted, leaves a heavy task
To be performed; or spurned if left undone,
Stamping our frozen hearts as made of stone.
Or, if we grant such suffering exists,
Wide-spread and far, we plead,--'how vain for ONE
To strive to clear away these hopeless mists,
'Striking a few sad names from off these endless lists!'
LIV.

'WHAT CAN I DO? I know that men have died
'Of their privations; truly, I believe
'That honest labour may be vainly plied:
'But how am I this sorrow to relieve?
'Go, let our Rulers some great plan achieve,
'It rests with These to settle and command,--
'We, meaner souls, can only sigh and grieve.'
So, sitting down, with slack and nerveless hand,
Supine we hear the cry that waileth through the land.
LV.

But let us measure help, by their deep woe:
Are we, indeed, as powerless to aid
As they to struggle? Conscience whispers, 'NO!'
Conscience, who shrinks uneasy and afraid,
Condemned,--if that brief answer must be made.
Though, in the Cowardice that flies the pain,
A spark of better nature is betrayed,
Proving, if their appeal could entrance gain,
Our hearts would not be roused and spoken to in vain.
LVI.

But because generous minds stand few and far,
Like wholesome ears of grain in fields of blight:--
Because one earnest soul, like one great star,
Rises,--without the power in single light
To break the darkness of surrounding night:--
Because the sufferings of the Mass require
The Many, not the Few, their wrongs to right;-
Therefore, Great Hearts grow sick with vain desire,
And, baffled at each turn, the weaker spirits tire.
LVII.

The GRADUAL is God's law. And we all fail
Because we will not copy it, but would
Against deep-rooted obstacles prevail,
(Which have the change of centuries withstood)
By hurried snatching in our rashest mood:
So, leaving dying branches in our grasp,
Vanishes all the growth of promised good;
Or from the green leaves darts some poisonous asp,
And stings the hand outstretched the fruitage fair to clasp.
LVIII.

So the Mock-Patriot leaves the Poor man's home
A thousand times more wretched, than when first
Loud declamation, full of froth and foam,
Weak discontent to strong rebellion nurst!
By those to whom he proffered aid, accurst,--
Called to account for days of helpless woe,--
The bubble promises give way, and burst,
Which left his rash lips with such ready flow:
The Idol of Himself,--the Orator for show!
LIX.

Solemn the malediction set on him
Who doth 'pervert the judgment' of the poor,
Mislead the blind and ignorant, and dim
The meagre light which led them heretofore.
Faces he knows not,--weak ones who deplore
The ruin wrought by him,--in dreams shall rise;
Night's veil of darkness cannot cover o'er
The wild reproaching of their blood-shot eyes,
Nor its deep silence hush their hoarse lamenting cries!
LX.

While those whom he opposed, pronounce it Sin,
That, with mad Discord in his meteor track,
Some shallow theory of hope to win,
He hounded on a wild infuriate pack:
The feet he taught to leave the quiet track,
Who shall prevent, or whither shall they tread?
What mighty force shall dam the waters back,
When the swoln torrent hath found room to spread?
Rolling and fierce it comes, and whelms his reckless head!
LXI.

Yet, let no man who feels himself secure
That Wrong exists, believe that humble tools
May not amend, what pining they endure.
Let him not fear the ridicule of fools,
Nor sneers of cold utilitarian schools,
To whom enthusiasts ever seem insane:
Nor to old laws and inappropriate rules
Bow slavish down because his lot is plain,
Unstarred by Rank or Power, ungilt by Wealth or Gain.
LXII.

What! were they demi-gods and angels, then,
Who have done deeds of glory in our land?
Or only honest, earnest-hearted men,
Born their great mission here to understand,
And nobly labour at it, heart and hand?
Were they all Princes and great Lords, who trod
Their share of Earth in natural command?
No! THEY believed the Breath that woke the clod,
And honoured in themselves the sentient spark from God!
LXIII.

HE did not breathe a different breath of life
Into the noble and the lowly born:
Sprung from one clay, though now in parted strife,
Brothers,--though some may crouch and some may scorn.
WE framed a difference, such as bids the Morn
Shine veiled or bright; but, sent through latticed pane,
Or mullioned arch, or prison-bars forlorn,
Or gleaming through dim aisles with painted stain,
God's outward light it was, God's light it must remain!
LXIV.

Not in the body, or the body's gauds,--
Not in the coronet a goldsmith wrought,--
Not in the pomp a gaping crowd applauds
(Like a pleased child when spangled toys are brought,)
But in the proud pre-eminence of THOUGHT
Lies the true influence that shall aspire:
The Victory in a battle mutely fought:
For that light, none can trample out,--that fire
The breath of fierce disdain but teaches to rise higher!
LXV.

Hath Science, in her march, avowed no claims
But theirs, first trained in Academic letters?
Doth History give no roll of patriot-names,
Peasants themselves, of peasant sons begetters,
Who taught that light to some, miscalled their BETTERS?
Men, who with iron hands, and hearts as stout,
Filed through the links of Folly's golden fetters;
And rough smith's work they made of it, no doubt,
Small choice of tools, when Souls from Prison would break out.
LXVI.

Yet doubly beautiful it is to see
One, set in the temptation of High Class,
Keep the inherent deep nobility
Of a great nature, strong to over-pass
The check of circumstance and choking mass
Of vicious faults which youthful leisure woo;
Mirror each thought in Honour's stainless glass;
And, by all kindly deeds that Power can do,
Prove that the brave good heart hath come of lineage true.
LXVII.

His gladdest welcome shall be giv'n by those
Who seemed to hold aloof from gentle blood:
Men, falsely deemed RANK'S democratic foes,
Because they love not FASHION'S selfish brood,
And look on idle Pomp with bitter mood.
Straightforward is their judgment; true, and keen;
The English Oak disowns the grafted wood,--
Spurns the high title, linked with spirit mean,--
And scorns the branch whereon the Lowly dare not lean!
LXVIII.

Oh! Graceful seems the bending of his brow;
Lovely the earnestness that fills his eyes;
Holy the fire that gave his heart its glow
(Spark of that same great Light which never dies.)
With hope, not fear, they watch his gradual rise:--
His youth's glad service in his age recall:--
Cheer in the race,--and glory in the prize,--
For his sake loving Rank, and Pomp, and all,--
Deeming such statue needs a lofty Pedestal!
LXIX.

CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! May such men as these
Alone be teachers of thy childhood pure;
Greet thy fair youth with friendly courtesies,
And to thine age with happy bond endure.
Feel with them; act with them; those ills to cure
That lie within the reach of brotherhood;
For these are men no shallow hopes allure,
Whose loyalty is current in their blood,
But who the people's claims have wisely understood.
LXX.

Hear a brief fable. One, with heedless tread,
Came o'er the wild fair grass that ne'er was mown:
Then said the grass,--'Your heel is on my head;
And, where in harmless freedom I have grown,
Sorely your iron foot hath tramped me down;
But God,--who to my veins such freshness gave,
Shall heal me with a healing of his own,
Till I, perchance, may lift my head to wave
Above the marble tomb that presses down your grave.'
LXXI.

If he had trod the path within his reach,
And let the wild grass hear the cricket sing,
Think you it would have turned with bitter speech?
No! but saluted him as Nature's king.
Oh, fable,--but not folly,--for the thing
We trample down, if life from God be in it,
Sooner or later takes the upward spring;
And sorely we may rue the reckless minute
We strove to crush its strength, and not in peace to win it.
LXXII.

And not alone in this same trampling strife
Consists Oppression's force; that creeping eft,
That lizard-blooded, frozen death-in-life,
NEUTRALITY, the cursed of Heaven, hath left
More misery to be borne by those bereft
Of power to strive against ill-fortune's spite.
The dagger hath gone home unto the heft;
And those stood by, who would not, but who might
Have turned the assassin steel, and stayed the unequal fight.
LXXIII.

Oh! there are moments of our lives, when such
As will not help to lift us, strike us down!
When the green bough just bends so near our clutch,
When the light rope so easily were thrown,
That they are murderers who behold us drown.
Well spoke the Poet-Heart so tried by woe,
That there are hours when left despairing, lone,
'Each idle ON-LOOKER appears a FOE:'
For Hate can scarce do worse, than no compassion show.
LXXIV.

Neutrality Is Hate: the aid withheld,
Flings its large balance in the adverse scale;
And makes the enemy we might have quelled,
Strong to attack, and certain to prevail;
Yea, clothes him, scoffing, in a suit of mail!
Those are the days which teach unhappy elves
No more such callous bosoms to assail;
The rocky soil no more the weak-one delves;
Upright we stand, and trust--in God, and in ourselves.
LXXV.

'The flesh will quiver when the pincers tear;'
The heart defies, that feels unjustly slighted;
The soul, oppressed, puts off its robe of Fear,
And warlike stands, in gleaming armour dighted;
And whensoe'er the Wronged would be the Righted,
There always have been, always must be, minds
In whom the Power and Will are found united;
Who rise, as Freedom fit occasion finds,
Skilled Workmen in a Craft which no Apprentice binds.
LXXVI.

And therefore should we aid who need our aid,
And freely give to those who need our giving;
Look gently on a brother's humbler trade,
And the coarse hand that labours for its living,
Scorn not because our fortunes are more thriving;
Spurn the cold rule,--'all BARTER, no BESTOWING,'
And such good plans as answer our contriving,
Let no false shame deter from open shewing;--
The crystal spring runs pure,--though men behold it flowing.
LXXVII.

But granting we in truth were weak to do
That which our hearts are strong enough to dream;
Shall we, as feeble labourers, wandering go,
And sit down passive by the lulling stream,
Or slumber basking in the noon-tide beam?
Shall we so waste the hours without recall,
Which o'er Life's silent dial duly gleam;
And from red morning to the dewy fall,
Folding our listless hands, pursue no aim at all?
LXXVIII.

Would not the lip with mocking smile be curled,
If some poor reaper of our autumn corn,
Some hired labourer of the actual world,
Treated our summons with neglect forlorn;
Pleading that Heaven, which made him weakly-born,
Had thus excused him from all settled task?
Should we not answer, with a kind of scorn,
'Do what thou canst,--no more can Reason ask,
But think not, unemployed, in idleness to bask?'
LXXIX.

In Heaven's own land,--the heart,--shall we put by
All tasks to US allotted and assigned,--
While thus the mote within a Brother's eye
Clearly we see, but to the beam are blind?
How can we set that reaper sheaves to bind,
According to his body's strength; yet seek
Excuse for our soul's indolence to find?
Oh! let the red shame flush the conscious cheek,--
For duties planned by God, NO man was born too weak!
LXXX.

Task-work goes through the world! the fluent River
Turneth the mill-wheels with a beating sound,
And rolleth onward toward the sea for ever!
The Sea heaves restless to its shoreward bound;
The Winds with varying voices, wander round;
The Branches, in their murmur, bend and thrill;
Flower after flower springs freshly from the ground;
The floating Clouds move ceaseless o'er the hill;
Nothing is set in calm; nothing (save Death) is still.
LXXXI.

That glorious orb of Heaven, the blessèd Sun,
A daily journey makes from East to West;
Nightly the Moon and Stars their courses run.
Yea, further we may learn our Lord's behest,
Taught by the pulse that heaves each living breast,
Our folding of the hands is in the GRAVE
And fixed in HEAVEN the Sabbath of our Rest!
Meanwhile, with Sun, and Wind, and Cloud, and Wave,
We ply the life-long task our great Creator gave.
LXXXII.

CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! when to thy young heart
Life's purpose pleads with mighty eloquence,--
Hear, Thou, as one who fain would act his part
Under the guiding of Omnipotence;
Whose clay-wrapped Spirit, looking up from hence,
Asketh what labour it may best perform
Ere the NIGHT cometh; when quick life and sense
Are fellow-sleepers with the slow blind worm,--
And Death's dark curtain hides the sunshine and the storm!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Rose Mary

Of her two fights with the Beryl-stone
Lost the first, but the second won.

PART I

“MARY mine that art Mary's Rose
Come in to me from the garden-close.
The sun sinks fast with the rising dew,
And we marked not how the faint moon grew;
But the hidden stars are calling you.
“Tall Rose Mary, come to my side,
And read the stars if you'd be a bride.
In hours whose need was not your own,
While you were a young maid yet ungrown
You've read the stars in the Beryl-stone.
“Daughter, once more I bid you read;
But now let it be for your own need:
Because to-morrow, at break of day,
To Holy Cross he rides on his way,
Your knight Sir James of Heronhaye.
“Ere he wed you, flower of mine,
For a heavy shrift he seeks the shrine.
Now hark to my words and do not fear;
Ill news next I have for your ear;
But be you strong, and our help is here.
On his road, as the rumour's rife,
An ambush waits to take his life.
He needs will go, and will go alone;
Where the peril lurks may not be known;
But in this glass all things are shown.”
Pale Rose Mary sank to the floor:—
The night will come if the day is o'er!”
“Nay, heaven takes counsel, star with star,
And help shall reach your heart from afar:
A bride you'll be, as a maid you are.”
The lady unbound her jewelled zone
And drew from her robe the Beryl-stone.
Shaped it was to a shadowy sphere,—
World of our world, the sun's compeer,
That bears and buries the toiling year.
With shuddering light 'twas stirred and strewn
Like the cloud-nest of the wading moon:
Freaked it was as the bubble's ball,
Rainbow-hued through a misty pall
Like the middle light of the waterfall.
Shadows dwelt in its teeming girth
Of the known and unknown things of earth;
The cloud above and the wave around,—
The central fire at the sphere's heart bound,
Like doomsday prisoned underground.
A thousand years it lay in the sea
With a treasure wrecked from Thessaly;
Deep it lay 'mid the coiled sea-wrack,
But the ocean-spirits found the track:
A soul was lost to win it back.
The lady upheld the wondrous thing:—
“Ill fare”(she said) “with a fiend's-faring:
But Moslem blood poured forth like wine
Can hallow Hell, 'neath the Sacred Sign;
And my lord brought this from Palestine.
“Spirits who fear the Blessed Rood
Drove forth the accursed multitude
That heathen worship housed herein,—
Never again such home to win,
Save only by a Christian's sin.
All last night at an altar fair
I burnt strange fires and strove with prayer;
Till the flame paled to the red sunrise,
All rites I then did solemnize;
And the spell lacks nothing but your eyes.”
Low spake maiden Rose Mary:—
“O mother mine, if I should not see!”
“Nay, daughter, cover your face no more,
But bend love's heart to the hidden lore,
And you shall see now as heretofore.”
Paler yet were the pale cheeks grown
As the grey eyes sought the Beryl-stone:
Then over her mother's lap leaned she,
And stretched her thrilled throat passionately,
And sighed from her soul, and said, “I see.”
Even as she spoke, they two were 'ware
Of music-notes that fell through the air;
A chiming shower of strange device,
Drop echoing drop, once, twice, and thrice,
As rain may fall in Paradise.
An instant come, in an instant gone,
No time there was to think thereon.
The mother held the sphere on her knee:—
“Lean this way and speak low to me,
And take no note but of what you see.”
I see a man with a besom grey
That sweeps the flying dust away.”
“Ay, that comes first in the mystic sphere;
But now that the way is swept and clear,
Heed well what next you look on there.”
“Stretched aloft and adown I see
Two roads that part in waste-country:
The glen lies deep and the ridge stands tall;
What's great below is above seen small,
And the hill-side is the valley-wall.”
“Stream-bank, daughter, or moor and moss,
Both roads will take to Holy Cross.
The hills are a weary waste to wage;
But what of the valley-road's presage?
That way must tend his pilgrimage.”
“As 'twere the turning leaves of a book,
The road runs past me as I look;
Or it is even as though mine eye
Should watch calm waters filled with sky
While lights and clouds and wings went by.”
In every covert seek a spear;
They'll scarce lie close till he draws near.”
The stream has spread to a river now;
The stiff blue sedge is deep in the slough,
But the banks are bare of shrub or bough.’
“Is there any roof that near at hand
Might shelter yield to a hidden band?”
On the further bank I see but one,
And a herdsman now in the sinking sun
Unyokes his team at the threshold-stone.”
“Keep heedful watch by the water's edge,—
Some boat might lurk 'neath the shadowed sedge.”
One slid but now 'twixt the winding shores,
But a peasant woman bent to the oars
And only a young child steered its course.
“Mother, something flashed to my sight!—
Nay, it is but the lapwing's flight.—
What glints there like a lance that flees?—
Nay, the flags are stirred in the breeze,
And the water's bright through the dart-rushes.
“Ah! vainly I search from side to side:—
Woe's me! and where do the foemen hide?
Woe's me! and perchance I pass them by,
And under the new dawn's blood-red sky
Even where I gaze the dead shall lie.”
Said the mother: “For dear love's sake,
Speak more low, lest the spell should break.”
Said the daughter: “By love's control,
My eyes, my words, are strained to the goal;
But oh! the voice that cries in my soul!”
“Hush, sweet, hush! be calm and behold.”
I see two floodgates broken and old:
The grasses wave o'er the ruined weir,
But the bridge still leads to the breakwater;
And—mother, mother, O mother dear!”
The damsel clung to her mother's knee,
And dared not let the shriek go free;
Low she crouched by the lady's chair,
And shrank blindfold in her fallen hair,
And whispering said, “The spears are there!”
The lady stooped aghast from her place,
And cleared the locks from her daughter's face.
“More's to see, and she swoons, alas!
Look, look again, ere the moment pass!
One shadow comes but once to the glass.
“See you there what you saw but now?”
I see eight men 'neath the willow bough.
All over the weir a wild growth's spread:
Ah me! it will hide a living head
As well as the water hides the dead.
“They lie by the broken water-gate
As men who have a while to wait.
The chief's high lance has a blazoned scroll,—
He seems some lord of tithe and toll
With seven squires to his bannerole.
The little pennon quakes in the air,
I cannot trace the blazon there:—
Ah! now I can see the field of blue,
The spurs and the merlins two and two;—
It is the Warden of Holycleugh!”
“God be thanked for the thing we know!
You have named your good knight's mortal foe.
Last Shrovetide in the tourney-game
He sought his life by treasonous shame;
And this way now doth he seek the same.
“So, fair lord, such a thing you are!
But we too watch till the morning star.
Well, June is kind and the moon is clear:
Saint Judas send you a merry cheer
For the night you lie in Warisweir!
Now, sweet daughter, but one more sight,
And you may lie soft and sleep to-night.
We know in the vale what perils be:
Now look once more in the glass, and see
If over the hills the road lies free.”
Rose Mary pressed to her mother's cheek,
And almost smiled but did not speak;
Then turned again to the saving spell,
With eyes to search and with lips to tell
The heart of things invisible.
“Again the shape with the besom grey
Comes back to sweep the clouds away.
Again I stand where the roads divide;
But now all's near on the steep hillside,
And a thread far down is the rivertide.”
“Ay, child, your road is o'er moor and moss,
Past Holycleugh to Holy Cross.
Our hunters lurk in the valley's wake,
As they knew which way the chase would take:
Yet search the hills for your true love's sake.”
“Swift and swifter the waste runs by,
And nought I see but the heath and the sky;
No brake is there that could hide a spear,
And the gaps to a horseman's sight lie clear;
Still past it goes, and there's nought to fear.”
“Fear no trap that you cannot see,—
They'd not lurk yet too warily.
Below by the weir they lie in sight,
And take no heed how they pass the night
Till close they crouch with the morning light.”
The road shifts ever and brings in view
Now first the heights of Holycleugh:
Dark they stand o'er the vale below,
And hide that heaven which yet shall show
The thing their master's heart doth know.
“Where the road looks to the castle steep,
There are seven hill-clefts wide and deep:
Six mine eyes can search as they list,
But the seventh hollow is brimmed with mist:
If aught were there, it might not be wist.”
“Small hope, my girl, for a helm to hide
In mists that cling to a wild moorside:
Soon they melt with the wind and sun,
And scarce would wait such deeds to be done
God send their snares be the worst to shun.”
“Still the road winds ever anew
As it hastens on towards Holycleugh;
And ever the great walls loom more near,
Till the castle-shadow, steep and sheer,
Drifts like a cloud, and the sky is clear.”
“Enough, my daughter,” the mother said,
And took to her breast the bending head;
“Rest, poor head, with my heart below,
While love still lulls you as long ago:
For all is learnt that we need to know.
“Long the miles and many the hours
From the castle-height to the abbey-towers;
But here the journey has no more dread;
Too thick with life is the whole road spread
For murder's trembling foot to tread.”
She gazed on the Beryl-stone full fain
Ere she wrapped it close in her robe again:
The flickering shades were dusk and dun
And the lights throbbed faint in unison
Like a high heart when a race is run.
As the globe slid to its silken gloom,
Once more a music rained through the room;
Low it splashed like a sweet star-spray,
And sobbed like tears at the heart of May,
And died as laughter dies away.
The lady held her breath for a space,
And then she looked in her daughter's face:
But wan Rose Mary had never heard;
Deep asleep like a sheltered bird
She lay with the long spell minister'd.
“Ah! and yet I must leave you, dear,
For what you have seen your knight must hear.
Within four days, by the help of God,
He comes back safe to his heart's abode:
Be sure he shall shun the valley-road.”
Rose Mary sank with a broken moan,
And lay in the chair and slept alone,
Weary, lifeless, heavy as lead:
Long it was ere she raised her head
And rose up all discomforted.
She searched her brain for a vanished thing,
And clasped her brows, remembering;
Then knelt and lifted her eyes in awe,
And sighed with a long sigh sweet to draw:—
“Thank God, thank God, thank God I saw!”
The lady had left her as she lay,
To seek the Knight of Heronhaye.
But first she clomb by a secret stair,
And knelt at a carven altar fair,
And laid the precious Beryl there.
Its girth was graved with a mystic rune
In a tongue long dead 'neath sun and moon:
A priest of the Holy Sepulchre
Read that writing and did not err;
And her lord had told its sense to her.
She breathed the words in an undertone:—
“None sees here but the pure alone.”
And oh!” she said, “what rose may be
In Mary's bower more pure to see
Than my own sweet maiden Rose Mary?”


BERYL-SONG

We whose home is the Beryl,
Fire-spirits of dread desire,
Who entered in
By a secret sin,
'Gainst whom all powers that strive with ours are sterile,—
We cry, Woe to thee, mother!
What hast thou taught her, the girl thy daughter,
That she and none other
Should this dark morrow to her deadly sorrow imperil?
What were her eyes
But the fiend's own spies,
O mother,
And shall We not fee her, our proper prophet and seër?
Go to her, mother,
Even thou, yea thou and none other,
Thou, from the Beryl:
Her fee must thou take her,
Her fee that We send, and make her,
Even in this hour, her sin's unsheltered avower.
Whose steed did neigh,
Riderless, bridleless,
At her gate before it was day?
Lo! where doth hover
The soul of her lover?
She sealed his doom, she, she was the sworn approver,—
Whose eyes were so wondrous wise,
Yet blind, ah! blind to his peril!
For stole not We in
Through a love-linked sin,
'Gainst whom all powers at war with ours are sterile,—
Fire-spirits of dread desire,
We whose home is the Beryl?


PART II

“PALE Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a rose that Mary weeps upon?”
“Mother, let it fall from the tree,
And never walk where the strewn leaves be
Till winds have passed and the path is free.”
“Sad Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a cankered flower beneath the sun?”
“Mother, let it wait for the night;
Be sure its shame shall be out of sight
Ere the moon pale or the east grow light.”
“Lost Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a heart that is but a broken one?”
“Mother, let it lie where it must;
The blood was drained with the bitter thrust,
And dust is all that sinks in the dust.”
“Poor Rose Mary, what shall I do,—
I, your mother, that lovèd you?”
“O my mother, and is love gone?
Then seek you another love anon:
Who cares what shame shall lean upon?”
Low drooped trembling Rose Mary,
Then up as though in a dream stood she.
“Come, my heart, it is time to go;
This is the hour that has whispered low
When thy pulse quailed in the nights we know.
“Yet O my heart, thy shame has a mate
Who will not leave thee desolate.
Shame for shame, yea and sin for sin:
Yet peace at length may our poor souls win
If love for love be found therein.
“O thou who seek'st our shrift to-day,”
She cried, “O James of Heronhaye—
Thy sin and mine was for love alone;
And oh! in the sight of God 'tis known
How the heart has since made heavy moan.
“Three days yet!” she said to her heart;
“But then he comes, and we will not part.
God, God be thanked that I still could see!
Oh! he shall come back assuredly,
But where, alas! must he seek for me?
“O my heart, what road shall we roam
Till my wedding-music fetch me home?
For love's shut from us and bides afar,
And scorn leans over the bitter bar
And knows us now for the thing we are.”
Tall she stood with a cheek flushed high
And a gaze to burn the heart-strings by.
'Twas the lightning-flash o'er sky and plain
Ere labouring thunders heave the chain
From the floodgates of the drowning rain.
The mother looked on the daughter still
As on a hurt thing that's yet to kill.
Then wildly at length the pent tears came;
The love swelled high with the swollen shame,
And their hearts' tempest burst on them.
Closely locked, they clung without speech,
And the mirrored souls shook each to each,
As the cloud-moon and the water-moon
Shake face to face when the dim stars swoon
In stormy bowers of the night's mid-noon.
They swayed together, shuddering sore,
Till the mother's heart could bear no more.
'Twas death to feel her own breast shake
Even to the very throb and ache
Of the burdened heart she still must break.
All her sobs ceased suddenly,
And she sat straight up but scarce could see.
“O daughter, where should my speech begin?
Your heart held fast its secret sin:
How think you, child, that I read therein?”
“Ah me! but I thought not how it came
When your words showed that you knew my shame:
And now that you call me still your own,
I half forget you have ever known.
Did you read my heart in the Beryl-stone?”
The lady answered her mournfully:—
The Beryl-stone has no voice for me:
But when you charged its power to show
The truth which none but the pure may know,
Did naught speak once of a coming woe?”
Her hand was close to her daughter's heart,
And it felt the life-blood's sudden start:
A quick deep breath did the damsel draw,
Like the struck fawn in the oakenshaw:
“O mother,” she cried, “but still I saw!”
“O child, my child, why held you apart
From my great love your hidden heart?
Said I not that all sin must chase
From the spell's sphere the spirits of grace,
And yield their rule to the evil race?
“Ah! would to God I had clearly told
How strong those powers, accurst of old:
Their heart is the ruined house of lies;
O girl, they can seal the sinful eyes,
Or show the truth by contraries!”
The daughter sat as cold as a stone,
And spoke no word but gazed alone,
Nor moved, though her mother strove a space
To clasp her round in a close embrace,
Because she dared not see her face.
“Oh!” at last did the mother cry,
Be sure, as he loved you, so will I!
Ah! still and dumb is the bride, I trow;
But cold and stark as the winter snow
Is the bridegroom's heart, laid dead below!
“Daughter, daughter, remember you
That cloud in the hills by Holycleugh?
'Twas a Hell-screen hiding truth away:
There, not i' the vale, the ambush lay,
And thence was the dead borne home to-day.”
Deep the flood and heavy the shock
When sea meets sea in the riven rock:
But calm is the pulse that shakes the sea
To the prisoned tide of doom set free
In the breaking heart of Rose Mary.
Once she sprang as the heifer springs
With the wolf's teeth at its red heart-strings.
First 'twas fire in her breast and brain,
And then scarce hers but the whole world's pain,
As she gave one shriek and sank again.
In the hair dark-waved the face lay white
As the moon lies in the lap of night;
And as night through which no moon may dart
Lies on a pool in the woods apart,
So lay the swoon on the weary heart.
The lady felt for the bosom's stir,
And wildly kissed and called on her;
Then turned away with a quick footfall,
And slid the secret door in the wall,
And clomb the strait stair's interval.
There above in the altar-cell
A little fountain rose and fell:
She set a flask to the water's flow,
And, backward hurrying, sprinkled now
The still cold breast and the pallid brow.
Scarce cheek that warmed or breath on the air,
Yet something told that life was there.
“Ah! not with the heart the body dies!”
The lady moaned in a bitter wise;
Then wrung her hands and hid her eyes.
“Alas! and how may I meet again
In the same poor eyes the selfsame pain?
What help can I seek, such grief to guide?
Ah! one alone might avail,” she cried
The priest who prays at the dead man's side.”
The lady arose, and sped down all
The winding stairs to the castle-hall.
Long-known valley and wood and stream,
As the loopholes passed, naught else did seem
Than the torn threads of a broken dream.
The hall was full of the castle-folk;
The women wept, but the men scarce spoke.
As the lady crossed the rush-strewn floor,
The throng fell backward, murmuring sore,
And pressed outside round the open door.
A stranger shadow hung on the hall
Than the dark pomp of a funeral.
'Mid common sights that were there alway,
As 'twere a chance of the passing day,
On the ingle-bench the dead man lay.
A priest who passed by Holycleugh
The tidings brought when the day was new.
He guided them who had fetched the dead;
And since that hour, unwearièd,
He knelt in prayer at the low bier's head.
Word had gone to his own domain
That in evil wise the knight was slain:
Soon the spears must gather apace
And the hunt be hard on the hunters' trace;
But all things yet lay still for a space.
As the lady's hurried step drew near,
The kneeling priest looked up to her.
“Father, death is a grievous thing;
But oh! the woe has a sharper sting
That craves by me your ministering.
“Alas for the child that should have wed
This noble knight here lying dead!
Dead in hope, with all blessed boon
Of love thus rent from her heart ere noon,
I left her laid in a heavy swoon.
“O haste to the open bower-chamber
That's topmost as you mount the stair:
Seek her, father, ere yet she wake;
Your words, not mine, be the first to slake
This poor heart's fire, for Christ's sweet sake!
“God speed!” she said as the priest passed through,
And I ere long will be with you.”
Then low on the hearth her knees sank prone;
She signed all folk from the threshold-stone,
And gazed in the dead man's face alone.
The fight for life found record yet
In the clenched lips and the teeth hard-set;
The wrath from the bent brow was not gone,
And stark in the eyes the hate still shone
Of that they last had looked upon.
The blazoned coat was rent on his breast
Where the golden field was goodliest;
But the shivered sword, close-gripped, could tell
That the blood shed round him where he fell
Was not all his in the distant dell.
The lady recked of the corpse no whit,
But saw the soul and spoke to it:
A light there was in her steadfast eyes,—
The fire of mortal tears and sighs
That pity and love immortalize.
“By thy death have I learnt to-day
Thy deed, O James of Heronhaye!
Great wrong thou hast done to me and mine;
And haply God hath wrought for a sign
By our blind deed this doom of thine.
“Thy shrift, alas! thou wast not to win;
But may death shrive thy soul herein!
Full well do I know thy love should be
Even yet—had life but stayed with thee—
Our honour's strong security.”
She stooped, and said with a sob's low stir,—
“Peace be thine,—but what peace for her?”
But ere to the brow her lips were press'd,
She marked, half-hid in the riven vest,
A packet close to the dead man's breast.
'Neath surcoat pierced and broken mail
It lay on the blood-stained bosom pale.
The clot hung round it, dull and dense,
And a faintness seized her mortal sense
As she reached her hand and drew it thence.
'Twas steeped in the heart's flood welling high
From the heart it there had rested by:
'Twas glued to a broidered fragment gay,—
A shred by spear-thrust rent away
From the heron-wings of Heronhaye.
She gazed on the thing with piteous eyne:—
“Alas, poor child, some pledge of thine!
Ah me! in this troth the hearts were twain,
And one hath ebbed to this crimson stain,
And when shall the other throb again?”
She opened the packet heedfully;
The blood was stiff, and it scarce might be.
She found but a folded paper there,
And round it, twined with tenderest care,
A long bright tress of golden hair.
Even as she looked, she saw again
That dark-haired face in its swoon of pain:
It seemed a snake with a golden sheath
Crept near, as a slow flame flickereth,
And stung her daughter's heart to death.
She loosed the tress, but her hand did shake
As though indeed she had touched a snake;
And next she undid the paper's fold,
But that too trembled in her hold,
And the sense scarce grasped the tale it told.
My heart's sweet lord,” ('twas thus she read,)
“At length our love is garlanded.
At Holy Cross, within eight days' space,
I seek my shrift; and the time and place
Shall fit thee too for thy soul's good grace.
From Holycleugh on the seventh day
My brother rides, and bides away:
And long or e'er he is back, mine own,
Afar where the face of fear's unknown
We shall be safe with our love alone.
“Ere yet at the shrine my knees I bow,
I shear one tress for our holy vow.
As round these words these threads I wind,
So, eight days hence, shall our loves be twined,
Says my lord's poor lady, JOCELIND.”
She read it twice, with a brain in thrall,
And then its echo told her all.
O'er brows low-fall'n her hands she drew:—
“O God!” she said, as her hands fell too,—
The Warden's sister of Holycleugh!”
She rose upright with a long low moan,
And stared in the dead man's face new-known.
Had it lived indeed? She scarce could tell:
'Twas a cloud where fiends had come to dwell,—
A mask that hung on the gate of Hell.
She lifted the lock of gleaming hair
And smote the lips and left it there.
“Here's gold that Hell shall take for thy toll!
Full well hath thy treason found its goal,
O thou dead body and damnèd soul!”
She turned, sore dazed, for a voice was near,
And she knew that some one called to her.
On many a column fair and tall
A high court ran round the castle-hall;
And thence it was that the priest did call.
I sought your child where you bade me go,
And in rooms around and rooms below;
But where, alas! may the maiden be?
Fear nought,—we shall find her speedily,—
But come, come hither, and seek with me.”
She reached the stair like a lifelorn thing,
But hastened upward murmuring,
“Yea, Death's is a face that's fell to see;
But bitterer pang Life hoards for thee,
Thou broken heart of Rose Mary!”


BERYL-SONG

We whose throne is the Beryl,
Dire-gifted spirits of fire,
Who for a twin
Leash Sorrow to Sin,
Who on no flower refrain to lour with peril,—
We cry,—O desolate daughter!
Thou and thy mother share newer shame with each other
Than last night's slaughter.
Awake and tremble, for our curses assemble!
What more, that thou know'st not yet,—
That life nor death shall forget?
No help from Heaven,—thy woes heart-riven are sterile!
O once a maiden,
With yet worse sorrow can any morrow be laden?
It waits for thee,
It looms, it must be,
O lost among women,—
It comes and thou canst not flee.
Amen to the omen,
Says the voice of the Beryl.
Thou sleep'st? Awake,—
What dar'st thou yet for his sake,
Who each for other did God's own Future imperil?
Dost dare to live
`Mid the pangs each hour must give?
Nay, rather die,—
With him thy lover 'neath Hell's cloud-cover to fly,—
Hopeless, yet not apart,
Cling heart to heart,
And beat through the nether storm-eddying winds together?
Shall this be so?
There thou shalt meet him, but mayst thou greet him? ah no !
He loves, but thee he hoped nevermore to see,—
He sighed as he died,
But with never a thought for thee.
Alone!
Alone, for ever alone,—
Whose eyes were such wondrous spies for the fate foreshown!
Lo! have not We leashed the twin
Of endless Sorrow to Sin,—
Who on no flower refrain to lour with peril,—
Dire-gifted spirits of fire,
We whose throne is the Beryl?


PART III

A SWOON that breaks is the whelming wave
When help comes late but still can save.
With all blind throes is the instant rife,—
Hurtling clangour and clouds at strife,—
The breath of death, but the kiss of life.
The night lay deep on Rose Mary's heart,
For her swoon was death's kind counterpart:
The dawn broke dim on Rose Mary's soul,—
No hill-crown's heavenly aureole,
But a wild gleam on a shaken shoal.
Her senses gasped in the sudden air,
And she looked around, but none was there.
She felt the slackening frost distil
Through her blood the last ooze dull and chill:
Her lids were dry and her lips were still.
Her tears had flooded her heart again;
As after a long day's bitter rain,
At dusk when the wet flower-cups shrink,
The drops run in from the beaded brink,
And all the close-shut petals drink.
Again her sighs on her heart were rolled;
As the wind that long has swept the wold,—
Whose moan was made with the moaning sea,—
Beats out its breath in the last torn tree,
And sinks at length in lethargy.
She knew she had waded bosom-deep
Along death's bank in the sedge of sleep:
All else was lost to her clouded mind;
Nor, looking back, could she see defin'd
O'er the dim dumb waste what lay behind.
Slowly fades the sun from the wall
Till day lies dead on the sun-dial:
And now in Rose Mary's lifted eye
'Twas shadow alone that made reply
To the set face of the soul's dark sky.
Yet still through her soul there wandered past
Dread phantoms borne on a wailing blast,—
Death and sorrow and sin and shame;
And, murmured still, to her lips there came
Her mother's and her lover's name.
How to ask, and what thing to know?
She might not stay and she dared not go.
From fires unseen these smoke-clouds curled;
But where did the hidden curse lie furled?
And how to seek through the weary world?
With toiling breath she rose from the floor
And dragged her steps to an open door:
'Twas the secret panel standing wide,
As the lady's hand had let it bide
In hastening back to her daughter's side.
She passed, but reeled with a dizzy brain
And smote the door which closed again.
She stood within by the darkling stair,
But her feet might mount more freely there,—
'Twas the open light most blinded her.
Within her mind no wonder grew
At the secret path she never knew:
All ways alike were strange to her now,—
One field bare-ridged from the spirit's plough,
One thicket black with the cypress-bough.
Once she thought that she heard her name;
And she paused, but knew not whence it came.
Down the shadowed stair a faint ray fell
That guided the weary footsteps well
Till it led her up to the altar-cell.
No change there was on Rose Mary's face
As she leaned in the portal's narrow space:
Still she stood by the pillar's stem,
Hand and bosom and garment's hem,
As the soul stands by at the requiem.
The altar-cell was a dome low-lit,
And a veil hung in the midst of it:
At the pole-points of its circling girth
Four symbols stood of the world's first birth,—
Air and water and fire and earth.
To the north, a fountain glittered free;
To the south, there glowed a red fruit-tree;
To the east, a lamp flamed high and fair;
To the west, a crystal casket rare
Held fast a cloud of the fields of air.
The painted walls were a mystic show
Of time's ebb-tide and overflow;
His hoards long-locked and conquering key,
His service-fires that in heaven be,
And earth-wheels whirled perpetually.
Rose Mary gazed from the open door
As on idle things she cared not for,—
The fleeting shapes of an empty tale;
Then stepped with a heedless visage pale,
And lifted aside the altar-veil.
The altar stood from its curved recess
In a coiling serpent's life-likeness:
Even such a serpent evermore
Lies deep asleep at the world's dark core
Till the last Voice shake the sea and shore.
From the altar-cloth a book rose spread
And tapers burned at the altar-head;
And there in the altar-midst alone,
'Twixt wings of a sculptured beast unknown,
Rose Mary saw the Beryl-stone.
Firm it sat 'twixt the hollowed wings,
As an orb sits in the hand of kings:
And lo! for that Foe whose curse far-flown
Had bound her life with a burning zone,
Rose Mary knew the Beryl-stone.
Dread is the meteor's blazing sphere
When the poles throb to its blind career;
But not with a light more grim and ghast
Thereby is the future doom forecast,
Than now this sight brought back the past.
The hours and minutes seemed to whirr
In a clanging swarm that deafened her;
They stung her heart to a writhing flame,
And marshalled past in its glare they came,—
Death and sorrow and sin and shame.
Round the Beryl's sphere she saw them pass
And mock her eyes from the fated glass:
One by one in a fiery train
The dead hours seemed to wax and wane,
And burned till all was known again.
From the drained heart's fount there rose no cry,
There sprang no tears, for the source was dry.
Held in the hand of some heavy law,
Her eyes she might not once withdraw,
Nor shrink away from the thing she saw.
Even as she gazed, through all her blood
The flame was quenched in a coming flood:
Out of the depth of the hollow gloom
On her soul's bare sands she felt it boom,—
The measured tide of a sea of doom.
Three steps she took through the altar-gate,
And her neck reared and her arms grew straight:
The sinews clenched like a serpent's throe,
And the face was white in the dark hair's flow,
As her hate beheld what lay below.
Dumb she stood in her malisons,—
A silver statue tressed with bronze:
As the fabled head by Perseus mown,
It seemed in sooth that her gaze alone
Had turned the carven shapes to stone.
O'er the altar-sides on either hand
There hung a dinted helm and brand:
By strength thereof, 'neath the Sacred Sign,
That bitter gift o'er the salt sea-brine
Her father brought from Palestine.
Rose Mary moved with a stern accord
And reached her hand to her father's sword;
Nor did she stir her gaze one whit
From the thing whereon her brows were knit;
But gazing still, she spoke to it.
“O ye, three times accurst,” she said,
“By whom this stone is tenanted!
Lo! here ye came by a strong sin's might;
Yet a sinner's hand that's weak to smite
Shall send you hence ere the day be night.
This hour a clear voice bade me know
My hand shall work your overthrow:
Another thing in mine ear it spake,—
With the broken spell my life shall break.
I thank Thee, God, for the dear death's sake!
And he Thy heavenly minister
Who swayed erewhile this spell-bound sphere,—
My parting soul let him haste to greet,
And none but he be guide for my feet
To where Thy rest is made complete.”
Then deep she breathed, with a tender moan:—
My love, my lord, my only one!
Even as I held the cursed clue,
When thee, through me, these foul ones slew,—
By mine own deed shall they slay me too!
“Even while they speed to Hell, my love,
Two hearts shall meet in Heaven above.
Our shrift thou sought'st, but might'st not bring:
And oh! for me 'tis a blessed thing
To work hereby our ransoming.
One were our hearts in joy and pain,
And our souls e'en now grow one again.
And O my love, if our souls are three,
O thine and mine shall the third soul be,—
One threefold love eternally.”
Her eyes were soft as she spoke apart,
And the lips smiled to the broken heart:
But the glance was dark and the forehead scored
With the bitter frown of hate restored,
As her two hands swung the heavy sword.
Three steps back from her Foe she trod:—
“Love, for thy sake! In Thy Name, O God!”
In the fair white hands small strength was shown;
Yet the blade flashed high and the edge fell prone,
And she cleft the heart of the Beryl-stone.
What living flesh in the thunder-cloud
Hath sat and felt heaven cry aloud?
Or known how the levin's pulse may beat?
Or wrapped the hour when the whirlwinds meet
About its breast for a winding-sheet?
Who hath crouched at the world's deep heart
While the earthquake rends its loins apart?
Or walked far under the seething main
While overhead the heavens ordain
The tempest-towers of the hurricane?
Who hath seen or what ear hath heard
The secret things unregister'd
Of the place where all is past and done,
And tears and laughter sound as one
In Hell's unhallowed unison?
Nay, is it writ how the fiends despair
In earth and water and fire and air?
Even so no mortal tongue may tell
How to the clang of the sword that fell
The echoes shook the altar-cell.
When all was still on the air again
The Beryl-stone lay cleft in twain;
The veil was rent from the riven dome;
And every wind that's winged to roam
Might have the ruined place for home.
The fountain no more glittered free;
The fruit hung dead on the leafless tree;
The flame of the lamp had ceased to flare;
And the crystal casket shattered there
Was emptied now of its cloud of air.
And lo! on the ground Rose Mary lay,
With a cold brow like the snows ere May,
With a cold breast like the earth till Spring,
With such a smile as the June days bring
When the year grows warm with harvesting.
The death she had won might leave no trace
On the soft sweet form and gentle face:
In a gracious sleep she seemed to lie;
And over her head her hand on high
Held fast the sword she triumphed by.
'Twas then a clear voice said in the room:—
“Behold the end of the heavy doom.
O come,—for thy bitter love's sake blest;
By a sweet path now thou journeyest,
And I will lead thee to thy rest.
Me thy sin by Heaven's sore ban
Did chase erewhile from the talisman:
But to my heart, as a conquered home,
In glory of strength thy footsteps come
Who hast thus cast forth my foes therefrom.
“Already thy heart remembereth
No more his name thou sought'st in death:
For under all deeps, all heights above,—
So wide the gulf in the midst thereof,—
Are Hell of Treason and Heaven of Love.
“Thee, true soul, shall thy truth prefer
To blessed Mary's rose-bower:
Warmed and lit is thy place afar
With guerdon-fires of the sweet Love-star
Where hearts of steadfast lovers are:—
“Though naught for the poor corpse lying here
Remain to-day but the cold white bier,
But burial-chaunt and bended knee,
But sighs and tears that heaviest be,
But rent rose-flower and rosemary.”


BERYL-SONG

We, cast forth from the Beryl,
Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
Whose pangs begin
With God's grace to sin,
For whose spent powers the immortal hours are sterile,—
Woe! must We behold this mother
Find grace in her dead child's face, and doubt of none other
But that perfect pardon, alas! hath assured her guerdon?
Woe! must We behold this daughter,
Made clean from the soil of sin wherewith We had fraught her,
Shake off a man's blood like water?
Write up her story
On the Gate of Heaven's glory,
Whom there We behold so fair in shining apparel,
And beneath her the ruin
Of our own undoing!
Alas, the Beryl!
We had for a foeman
But one weak woman;
In one day's strife,
Her hope fell dead from her life;
And yet no iron,
Her soul to environ,
Could this manslayer, this false soothsayer imperil!
Lo, where she bows
In the Holy House!
Who now shall dissever her soul from its joy for ever
While every ditty
Of love and plentiful pity
Fills the White City,
And the floor of Heaven to her feet for ever is given?
Hark, a voice cries “Flee!”
Woe! woe! what shelter have We,
Whose pangs begin
With God's grace to sin,
For whose spent powers the immortal hours are sterile,
Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
We, cast forth from the Beryl?

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Metamorphoses: Book The Eleventh

HERE, while the Thracian bard's enchanting strain
Sooths beasts, and woods, and all the listn'ing
plain,
The female Bacchanals, devoutly mad,
In shaggy skins, like savage creatures, clad,
Warbling in air perceiv'd his lovely lay,
And from a rising ground beheld him play.
When one, the wildest, with dishevel'd hair,
That loosely stream'd, and ruffled in the air;
Soon as her frantick eye the lyrist spy'd,
See, see! the hater of our sex, she cry'd.
Then at his face her missive javelin sent,
Which whiz'd along, and brusht him as it went;
But the soft wreathes of ivy twisted round,
Prevent a deep impression of the wound.
Another, for a weapon, hurls a stone,
Which, by the sound subdu'd as soon as thrown,
Falls at his feet, and with a seeming sense
Implores his pardon for its late offence.
The Death of But now their frantick rage unbounded grows,
Orpheus Turns all to madness, and no measure knows:
Yet this the charms of musick might subdue,
But that, with all its charms, is conquer'd too;
In louder strains their hideous yellings rise,
And squeaking horn-pipes eccho thro' the skies,
Which, in hoarse consort with the drum, confound
The moving lyre, and ev'ry gentle sound:
Then 'twas the deafen'd stones flew on with speed,
And saw, unsooth'd, their tuneful poet bleed.
The birds, the beasts, and all the savage crew
Which the sweet lyrist to attention drew,
Now, by the female mob's more furious rage,
Are driv'n, and forc'd to quit the shady stage.
Next their fierce hands the bard himself assail,
Nor can his song against their wrath prevail:
They flock, like birds, when in a clustring flight,
By day they chase the boding fowl of night.
So crowded amphitheatres survey
The stag, to greedy dogs a future prey.
Their steely javelins, which soft curls entwine
Of budding tendrils from the leafy vine,
For sacred rites of mild religion made,
Are flung promiscuous at the poet's head.
Those clods of earth or flints discharge, and these
Hurl prickly branches sliver'd from the trees.
And, lest their passion shou'd be unsupply'd,
The rabble crew, by chance, at distance spy'd
Where oxen, straining at the heavy yoke,
The fallow'd field with slow advances broke;
Nigh which the brawny peasants dug the soil,
Procuring food with long laborious toil.
These, when they saw the ranting throng draw near,
Quitted their tools, and fled, possest with fear.
Long spades, and rakes of mighty size were found,
Carelesly left upon the broken ground.
With these the furious lunaticks engage,
And first the lab'ring oxen feel their rage;
Then to the poet they return with speed,
Whose fate was, past prevention, now decreed:
In vain he lifts his suppliant hands, in vain
He tries, before, his never-failing strain.
And, from those sacred lips, whose thrilling sound
Fierce tygers, and insensate rocks cou'd wound,
Ah Gods! how moving was the mournful sight!
To see the fleeting soul now take its flight.
Thee the soft warblers of the feather'd kind
Bewail'd; for thee thy savage audience pin'd;
Those rocks and woods that oft thy strain had led,
Mourn for their charmer, and lament him dead;
And drooping trees their leafy glories shed.
Naids and Dryads with dishevel'd hair
Promiscuous weep, and scarfs of sable wear;
Nor cou'd the river-Gods conceal their moan,
But with new floods of tears augment their own.
His mangled limbs lay scatter'd all around,
His head, and harp a better fortune found;
In Hebrus' streams they gently roul'd along,
And sooth'd the waters with a mournful song.
Soft deadly notes the lifeless tongue inspire,
A doleful tune sounds from the floating lyre;
The hollows banks in solemn consort mourn,
And the sad strain in ecchoing groans return.
Now with the current to the sea they glide,
Born by the billows of the briny tide;
And driv'n where waves round rocky Lesbos roar,
They strand, and lodge upon Methymna's shore.
But here, when landed on the foreign soil,
A venom'd snake, the product of the isle
Attempts the head, and sacred locks embru'd
With clotted gore, and still fresh-dropping blood.
Phoebus, at last, his kind protection gives,
And from the fact the greedy monster drives:
Whose marbled jaws his impious crime atone,
Still grinning ghastly, tho' transform'd to stone.
His ghost flies downward to the Stygian shore,
And knows the places it had seen before:
Among the shadows of the pious train
He finds Eurydice, and loves again;
With pleasure views the beauteous phantom's charms,
And clasps her in his unsubstantial arms.
There side by side they unmolested walk,
Or pass their blissful hours in pleasing talk;
Aft or before the bard securely goes,
And, without danger, can review his spouse.
The Thracian Bacchus, resolving to revenge the wrong,
Women Of Orpheus murder'd, on the madding throng,
transform'd to Decreed that each accomplice dame should stand
Trees Fix'd by the roots along the conscious land.
Their wicked feet, that late so nimbly ran
To wreak their malice on the guiltless man,
Sudden with twisted ligatures were bound,
Like trees, deep planted in the turfy ground.
And, as the fowler with his subtle gins,
His feather'd captives by the feet entwines,
That flutt'ring pant, and struggle to get loose,
Yet only closer draw the fatal noose;
So these were caught; and, as they strove in vain
To quit the place, they but encreas'd their pain.
They flounce and toil, yet find themselves
controul'd;
The root, tho' pliant, toughly keeps its hold.
In vain their toes and feet they look to find,
For ev'n their shapely legs are cloath'd with rind.
One smites her thighs with a lamenting stroke,
And finds the flesh transform'd to solid oak;
Another, with surprize, and grief distrest,
Lays on above, but beats a wooden breast.
A rugged bark their softer neck invades,
Their branching arms shoot up delightful shades;
At once they seem, and are, a real grove,
With mossy trunks below, and verdant leaves above.
The Fable of Nor this suffic'd; the God's disgust remains,
Midas And he resolves to quit their hated plains;
The vineyards of Tymole ingross his care,
And, with a better choir, he fixes there;
Where the smooth streams of clear Pactolus roll'd,
Then undistinguish'd for its sands of gold.
The satyrs with the nymphs, his usual throng,
Come to salute their God, and jovial danc'd along.
Silenus only miss'd; for while he reel'd,
Feeble with age, and wine, about the field,
The hoary drunkard had forgot his way,
And to the Phrygian clowns became a prey;
Who to king Midas drag the captive God,
While on his totty pate the wreaths of ivy nod.
Midas from Orpheus had been taught his lore,
And knew the rites of Bacchus long before.
He, when he saw his venerable guest,
In honour of the God ordain'd a feast.
Ten days in course, with each continu'd night,
Were spent in genial mirth, and brisk delight:
Then on th' eleventh, when with brighter ray
Phosphor had chac'd the fading stars away,
The king thro' Lydia's fields young Bacchus sought,
And to the God his foster-father brought.
Pleas'd with the welcome sight, he bids him soon
But name his wish, and swears to grant the boon.
A glorious offer! yet but ill bestow'd
On him whose choice so little judgment show'd.
Give me, says he (nor thought he ask'd too much),
That with my body whatsoe'er I touch,
Chang'd from the nature which it held of old,
May be converted into yellow gold.
He had his wish; but yet the God repin'd,
To think the fool no better wish could find.
But the brave king departed from the place,
With smiles of gladness sparkling in his face:
Nor could contain, but, as he took his way,
Impatient longs to make the first essay.
Down from a lowly branch a twig he drew,
The twig strait glitter'd with a golden hue:
He takes a stone, the stone was turn'd to gold;
A clod he touches, and the crumbling mold
Acknowledg'd soon the great transforming pow'r,
In weight and substance like a mass of ore.
He pluck'd the corn, and strait his grasp appears
Fill'd with a bending tuft of golden ears.
An apple next he takes, and seems to hold
The bright Hesperian vegetable gold.
His hand he careless on a pillar lays.
With shining gold the fluted pillars blaze:
And while he washes, as the servants pour,
His touch converts the stream to Danae's show'r.
To see these miracles so finely wrought,
Fires with transporting joy his giddy thought.
The ready slaves prepare a sumptuous board,
Spread with rich dainties for their happy lord;
Whose pow'rful hands the bread no sooner hold,
But its whole substance is transform'd to gold:
Up to his mouth he lifts the sav'ry meat,
Which turns to gold as he attempts to eat:
His patron's noble juice of purple hue,
Touch'd by his lips, a gilded cordial grew;
Unfit for drink, and wondrous to behold,
It trickles from his jaws a fluid gold.
The rich poor fool, confounded with surprize,
Starving in all his various plenty lies:
Sick of his wish, he now detests the pow'r,
For which he ask'd so earnestly before;
Amidst his gold with pinching famine curst;
And justly tortur'd with an equal thirst.
At last his shining arms to Heav'n he rears,
And in distress, for refuge, flies to pray'rs.
O father Bacchus, I have sinn'd, he cry'd,
And foolishly thy gracious gift apply'd;
Thy pity now, repenting, I implore;
Oh! may I feel the golden plague no more.
The hungry wretch, his folly thus confest,
Touch'd the kind deity's good-natur'd breast;
The gentle God annull'd his first decree,
And from the cruel compact set him free.
But then, to cleanse him quite from further harm,
And to dilute the relicks of the charm,
He bids him seek the stream that cuts the land
Nigh where the tow'rs of Lydian Sardis stand;
Then trace the river to the fountain head,
And meet it rising from its rocky bed;
There, as the bubling tide pours forth amain,
To plunge his body in, and wash away the stain.
The king instructed to the fount retires,
But with the golden charm the stream inspires:
For while this quality the man forsakes,
An equal pow'r the limpid water takes;
Informs with veins of gold the neighb'ring land,
And glides along a bed of golden sand.
Now loathing wealth, th' occasion of his woes,
Far in the woods he sought a calm repose;
In caves and grottos, where the nymphs resort,
And keep with mountain Pan their sylvan court.
Ah! had he left his stupid soul behind!
But his condition alter'd not his mind.
For where high Tmolus rears his shady brow,
And from his cliffs surveys the seas below,
In his descent, by Sardis bounded here,
By the small confines of Hypaepa there,
Pan to the nymphs his frolick ditties play'd,
Tuning his reeds beneath the chequer'd shade.
The nymphs are pleas'd, the boasting sylvan plays,
And speaks with slight of great Apollo's lays.
Tmolus was arbiter; the boaster still
Accepts the tryal with unequal skill.
The venerable judge was seated high
On his own hill, that seem'd to touch the sky.
Above the whisp'ring trees his head he rears,
From their encumbring boughs to free his ears;
A wreath of oak alone his temples bound,
The pendant acorns loosely dangled round.
In me your judge, says he, there's no delay:
Then bids the goatherd God begin, and play.
Pan tun'd the pipe, and with his rural song
Pleas'd the low taste of all the vulgar throng;
Such songs a vulgar judgment mostly please,
Midas was there, and Midas judg'd with these.
The mountain sire with grave deportment now
To Phoebus turns his venerable brow:
And, as he turns, with him the listning wood
In the same posture of attention stood.
The God his own Parnassian laurel crown'd,
And in a wreath his golden tresses bound,
Graceful his purple mantle swept the ground.
High on the left his iv'ry lute he rais'd,
The lute, emboss'd with glitt'ring jewels, blaz'd
In his right hand he nicely held the quill,
His easy posture spoke a master's skill.
The strings he touch'd with more than human art,
Which pleas'd the judge's ear, and sooth'd his
heart;
Who soon judiciously the palm decreed,
And to the lute postpon'd the squeaking reed.
All, with applause, the rightful sentence heard,
Midas alone dissatisfy'd appear'd;
To him unjustly giv'n the judgment seems,
For Pan's barbarick notes he most esteems.
The lyrick God, who thought his untun'd ear
Deserv'd but ill a human form to wear,
Of that deprives him, and supplies the place
With some more fit, and of an ampler space:
Fix'd on his noddle an unseemly pair,
Flagging, and large, and full of whitish hair;
Without a total change from what he was,
Still in the man preserves the simple ass.
He, to conceal the scandal of the deed,
A purple turbant folds about his head;
Veils the reproach from publick view, and fears
The laughing world would spy his monstrous ears.
One trusty barber-slave, that us'd to dress
His master's hair, when lengthen'd to excess,
The mighty secret knew, but knew alone,
And, tho' impatient, durst not make it known.
Restless, at last, a private place he found,
Then dug a hole, and told it to the ground;
In a low whisper he reveal'd the case,
And cover'd in the earth, and silent left the
place.
In time, of trembling reeds a plenteous crop
From the confided furrow sprouted up;
Which, high advancing with the ripening year,
Made known the tiller, and his fruitless care:
For then the rustling blades, and whisp'ring wind,
To tell th' important secret, both combin'd.
The Building of Phoebus, with full revenge, from Tmolus flies,
Troy Darts thro' the air, and cleaves the liquid skies;
Near Hellespont he lights, and treads the plains
Where great Laomedon sole monarch reigns;
Where, built between the two projecting strands,
To Panomphaean Jove an altar stands.
Here first aspiring thoughts the king employ,
To found the lofty tow'rs of future Troy.
The work, from schemes magnificent begun,
At vast expence was slowly carry'd on:
Which Phoebus seeing, with the trident God
Who rules the swelling surges with his nod,
Assuming each a mortal shape, combine
At a set price to finish his design.
The work was built; the king their price denies,
And his injustice backs with perjuries.
This Neptune cou'd not brook, but drove the main,
A mighty deluge, o'er the Phrygian plain:
'Twas all a sea; the waters of the deep
From ev'ry vale the copious harvest sweep;
The briny billows overflow the soil,
Ravage the fields, and mock the plowman's toil.
Nor this appeas'd the God's revengeful mind,
For still a greater plague remains behind;
A huge sea-monster lodges on the sands,
And the king's daughter for his prey demands.
To him that sav'd the damsel, was decreed
A set of horses of the Sun's fine breed:
But when Alcides from the rock unty'd
The trembling fair, the ransom was deny'd.
He, in revenge, the new-built walls attack'd,
And the twice-perjur'd city bravely sack'd.
Telamon aided, and in justice shar'd
Part of the plunder as his due reward:
The princess, rescu'd late, with all her charms,
Hesione, was yielded to his arms;
For Peleus, with a Goddess-bride, was more
Proud of his spouse, than of his birth before:
Grandsons to Jove there might be more than one,
But he the Goddess had enjoy'd alone.
The Story of For Proteus thus to virgin Thetis said,
Thetis and Fair Goddess of the waves, consent to wed,
Peleus And take some spritely lover to your bed.
A son you'll have, the terror of the field,
To whom in fame, and pow'r his sire shall yield.
Jove, who ador'd the nymph with boundless love,
Did from his breast the dangerous flame remove.
He knew the Fates, nor car'd to raise up one,
Whose fame and greatness should eclipse his own,
On happy Peleus he bestow'd her charms,
And bless'd his grandson in the Goddess' arms:
A silent creek Thessalia's coast can show;
Two arms project, and shape it like a bow;
'Twould make a bay, but the transparent tide
Does scarce the yellow-gravell'd bottom hide;
For the quick eye may thro' the liquid wave
A firm unweedy level beach perceive.
A grove of fragrant myrtle near it grows,
Whose boughs, tho' thick, a beauteous grot
disclose;
The well-wrought fabrick, to discerning eyes,
Rather by art than Nature seems to rise.
A bridled dolphin oft fair Thetis bore
To this her lov'd retreat, her fav'rite shore.
Here Peleus seiz'd her, slumbring while she lay,
And urg'd his suit with all that love could say:
But when he found her obstinately coy,
Resolv'd to force her, and command the joy;
The nymph, o'erpowr'd, to art for succour flies
And various shapes the eager youth surprize:
A bird she seems, but plies her wings in vain,
His hands the fleeting substance still detain:
A branchy tree high in the air she grew;
About its bark his nimble arms he threw:
A tyger next she glares with flaming eyes;
The frighten'd lover quits his hold, and flies:
The sea-Gods he with sacred rites adores,
Then a libation on the ocean pours;
While the fat entrails crackle in the fire,
And sheets of smoak in sweet perfume aspire;
'Till Proteus rising from his oozy bed,
Thus to the poor desponding lover said:
No more in anxious thoughts your mind employ,
For yet you shall possess the dear expected joy.
You must once more th' unwary nymph surprize,
As in her cooly grot she slumbring lies;
Then bind her fast with unrelenting hands,
And strain her tender limbs with knotted bands.
Still hold her under ev'ry different shape,
'Till tir'd she tries no longer to escape.
Thus he: then sunk beneath the glassy flood,
And broken accents flutter'd, where he stood.
Bright Sol had almost now his journey done,
And down the steepy western convex run;
When the fair Nereid left the briny wave,
And, as she us'd, retreated to her cave.
He scarce had bound her fast, when she arose,
And into various shapes her body throws:
She went to move her arms, and found 'em ty'd;
Then with a sigh, Some God assists ye, cry'd,
And in her proper shape stood blushing by his side.
About her waiste his longing arms he flung,
From which embrace the great Achilles sprung.
The Peleus unmix'd felicity enjoy'd
Transformation (Blest in a valiant son, and virtuous bride),
of Daedalion 'Till Fortune did in blood his hands imbrue,
And his own brother by curst chance he slew:
Then driv'n from Thessaly, his native clime,
Trachinia first gave shelter to his crime;
Where peaceful Ceyx mildly fill'd the throne,
And like his sire, the morning planet, shone;
But now, unlike himself, bedew'd with tears,
Mourning a brother lost, his brow appears.
First to the town with travel spent, and care,
Peleus, and his small company repair:
His herds, and flocks the while at leisure feed,
On the rich pasture of a neighb'ring mead.
The prince before the royal presence brought,
Shew'd by the suppliant olive what he sought;
Then tells his name, and race, and country right,
But hides th' unhappy reason of his flight.
He begs the king some little town to give,
Where they may safe his faithful vassals live.
Ceyx reply'd: To all my bounty flows,
A hospitable realm your suit has chose.
Your glorious race, and far-resounding fame,
And grandsire Jove, peculiar favours claim.
All you can wish, I grant; entreaties spare;
My kingdom (would 'twere worth the sharing) share.
Tears stop'd his speech: astonish'd Peleus pleads
To know the cause from whence his grief proceeds.
The prince reply'd: There's none of ye but deems
This hawk was ever such as now it seems;
Know 'twas a heroe once, Daedalion nam'd,
For warlike deeds, and haughty valour fam'd;
Like me to that bright luminary born,
Who wakes Aurora, and brings on the morn.
His fierceness still remains, and love of blood,
Now dread of birds, and tyrant of the wood.
My make was softer, peace my greatest care;
But this my brother wholly bent on war;
Late nations fear'd, and routed armies fled
That force, which now the tim'rous pigeons dread.
A daughter he possess'd, divinely fair,
And scarcely yet had seen her fifteenth year;
Young Chione: a thousand rivals strove
To win the maid, and teach her how to love.
Phoebus, and Mercury by chance one day
From Delphi, and Cyllene past this way;
Together they the virgin saw: desire
At once warm'd both their breasts with am'rous
fire.
Phoebus resolv'd to wait 'till close of day;
But Mercury's hot love brook'd no delay;
With his entrancing rod the maid he charms,
And unresisted revels in her arms.
'Twas night, and Phoebus in a beldam's dress,
To the late rifled beauty got access.
Her time compleat nine circling moons had run;
To either God she bore a lovely son:
To Mercury Autolycus she brought,
Who turn'd to thefts and tricks his subtle thought;
Possess'd he was of all his father's slight,
At will made white look black, and black look
white.
Philammon born to Phoebus, like his sire,
The Muses lov'd, and finely struck the lyre,
And made his voice, and touch in harmony conspire.
In vain, fond maid, you boast this double birth,
The love of Gods, and royal father's worth,
And Jove among your ancestors rehearse!
Could blessings such as these e'er prove a curse?
To her they did, who with audacious pride,
Vain of her own, Diana's charms decry'd.
Her taunts the Goddess with resentment fill;
My face you like not, you shall try my skill.
She said; and strait her vengeful bow she strung,
And sent a shaft that pierc'd her guilty tongue:
The bleeding tongue in vain its accents tries;
In the red stream her soul reluctant flies.
With sorrow wild I ran to her relief,
And try'd to moderate my brother's grief.
He, deaf as rocks by stormy surges beat,
Loudly laments, and hears me not intreat.
When on the fun'ral pile he saw her laid,
Thrice he to rush into the flames assay'd,
Thrice with officious care by us was stay'd.
Now, mad with grief, away he fled amain,
Like a stung heifer that resents the pain,
And bellowing wildly bounds along the plain.
O'er the most rugged ways so fast he ran,
He seem'd a bird already, not a man:
He left us breathless all behind; and now
In quest of death had gain'd Parnassus' brow:
But when from thence headlong himself he threw,
He fell not, but with airy pinions flew.
Phoebus in pity chang'd him to a fowl,
Whose crooked beak and claws the birds controul,
Little of bulk, but of a warlike soul.
A hawk become, the feather'd race's foe,
He tries to case his own by other's woe.
A Wolf turn'd While they astonish'd heard the king relate
into Marble These wonders of his hapless brother's fate;
The prince's herdsman at the court arrives,
And fresh surprize to all the audience gives.
O Peleus, Peleus! dreadful news I bear,
He said; and trembled as he spoke for fear.
The worst, affrighted Peleus bid him tell,
Whilst Ceyx too grew pale with friendly zeal.
Thus he began: When Sol mid-heav'n had gain'd,
And half his way was past, and half remain'd,
I to the level shore my cattle drove,
And let them freely in the meadows rove.
Some stretch'd at length admire the watry plain,
Some crop'd the herb, some wanton swam the main.
A temple stands of antique make hard by,
Where no gilt domes, nor marble lure the eye;
Unpolish'd rafters bear its lowly height,
Hid by a grove, as ancient, from the sight.
Here Nereus, and the Nereids they adore;
I learnt it from the man who thither bore
His net, to dry it on the sunny shore.
Adjoyns a lake, inclos'd with willows round,
Where swelling waves have overflow'd the mound,
And, muddy, stagnate on the lower ground.
From thence a russling noise increasing flies,
Strikes the still shore; and frights us with
surprize,
Strait a huge wolf rush'd from the marshy wood,
His jaws besmear'd with mingled foam, and blood,
Tho' equally by hunger urg'd, and rage,
His appetite he minds not to asswage;
Nought that he meets, his rabid fury spares,
But the whole herd with mad disorder tears.
Some of our men who strove to drive him thence,
Torn by his teeth, have dy'd in their defence.
The echoing lakes, the sea, and fields, and shore,
Impurpled blush with streams of reeking gore.
Delay is loss, nor have we time for thought;
While yet some few remain alive, we ought
To seize our arms, and with confederate force
Try if we so can stop his bloody course.
But Peleus car'd not for his ruin'd herd;
His crime he call'd to mind, and thence inferr'd,
That Psamathe's revenge this havock made,
In sacrifice to murder'd Phocus' shade.
The king commands his servants to their arms;
Resolv'd to go; but the loud noise alarms
His lovely queen, who from her chamber flew,
And her half-plaited hair behind her threw:
About his neck she hung with loving fears,
And now with words, and now with pleading tears,
Intreated that he'd send his men alone,
And stay himself, to save two lives in one.
Then Peleus: Your just fears, o queen, forget;
Too much the offer leaves me in your debt.
No arms against the monster I shall bear,
But the sea nymphs appease with humble pray'r.
The citadel's high turrets pierce the sky,
Which home-bound vessels, glad, from far descry;
This they ascend, and thence with sorrow ken
The mangled heifers lye, and bleeding men;
Th' inexorable ravager they view,
With blood discolour'd, still the rest pursue:
There Peleus pray'd submissive tow'rds the sea,
And deprecates the ire of injur'd Psamathe.
But deaf to all his pray'rs the nymph remain'd,
'Till Thetis for her spouse the boon obtain'd.
Pleas'd with the luxury, the furious beast,
Unstop'd, continues still his bloody feast:
While yet upon a sturdy bull he flew,
Chang'd by the nymph, a marble block he grew.
No longer dreadful now the wolf appears,
Bury'd in stone, and vanish'd like their fears.
Yet still the Fates unhappy Peleus vex'd;
To the Magnesian shore he wanders next.
Acastus there, who rul'd the peaceful clime,
Grants his request, and expiates his crime.
The Story of These prodigies affect the pious prince,
Ceyx and But more perplex'd with those that happen'd since,
Alcyone He purposes to seek the Clarian God,
Avoiding Delphi, his more fam'd abode,
Since Phlegyan robbers made unsafe the road.
Yet could he not from her he lov'd so well,
The fatal voyage, he resolv'd, conceal;
But when she saw her lord prepar'd to part,
A deadly cold ran shiv'ring to her heart;
Her faded cheeks are chang'd to boxen hue,
And in her eyes the tears are ever new.
She thrice essay'd to speak; her accents hung,
And falt'ring dy'd unfinish'd on her tongue,
And vanish'd into sighs: with long delay
Her voice return'd, and found the wonted way.
Tell me, my lord, she said, what fault unknown
Thy once belov'd Alcyone has done?
Whither, ah, whither, is thy kindness gone!
Can Ceyx then sustain to leave his wife,
And unconcern'd forsake the sweets of life?
What can thy mind to this long journey move?
Or need'st thou absence to renew thy love?
Yet, if thou go'st by land, tho' grief possess
My soul ev'n then, my fears will be the less.
But ah! be warn'd to shun the watry way,
The face is frightful of the stormy sea:
For late I saw a-drift disjointed planks,
And empty tombs erected on the banks.
Nor let false hopes to trust betray thy mind,
Because my sire in caves constrains the wind,
Can with a breath their clam'rous rage appease,
They fear his whistle, and forsake the seas:
Not so; for once indulg'd, they sweep the main;
Deaf to the call, or hearing, hear in vain;
But bent on mischief bear the waves before,
And not content with seas, insult the shore,
When ocean, air, and Earth, at once ingage,
And rooted forests fly before their rage:
At once the clashing clouds to battel move,
And lightnings run across the fields above:
I know them well, and mark'd their rude comport,
While yet a child within my father's court:
In times of tempest they command alone,
And he but sits precarious on the throne:
The more I know, the more my fears augment;
And fears are oft prophetick of th' event.
But if not fears, or reasons will prevail,
If Fate has fix'd thee obstinate to sail,
Go not without thy wife, but let me bear
My part of danger with an equal share,
And present, what I suffer only fear:
Then o'er the bounding billows shall we fly,
Secure to live together, or to die.
These reasons mov'd her warlike husband's heart,
But still he held his purpose to depart:
For as he lov'd her equal to his life,
He would not to the seas expose his wife;
Nor could be wrought his voyage to refrain,
But sought by arguments to sooth her pain:
Nor these avail'd; at length he lights on one,
With which so difficult a cause he won:
My love, so short an absence cease to fear,
For by my father's holy flame I swear,
Before two moons their orb with light adorn,
If Heav'n allow me life, I will return.
This promise of so short a stay prevails;
He soon equips the ship, supplies the sails,
And gives the word to launch; she trembling views
This pomp of death, and parting tears renews:
Last with a kiss, she took a long farewel,
Sigh'd with a sad presage, and swooning fell:
While Ceyx seeks delays, the lusty crew,
Rais'd on their banks, their oars in order drew
To their broad breasts, the ship with fury flew.
The queen recover'd, rears her humid eyes,
And first her husband on the poop espies,
Shaking his hand at distance on the main;
She took the sign, and shook her hand again.
Still as the ground recedes, contracts her view
With sharpen'd sight, 'till she no longer knew
The much-lov'd face; that comfort lost supplies
With less, and with the galley feeds her eyes;
The galley born from view by rising gales,
She follow'd with her sight the flying sails:
When ev'n the flying sails were seen no more,
Forsaken of all sight she left the shore.
Then on her bridal bed her body throws,
And sought in sleep her wearied eyes to close:
Her husband's pillow, and the widow'd part
Which once he press'd, renew'd the former smart.
And now a breeze from shoar began to blow,
The sailors ship their oars, and cease to row;
Then hoist their yards a-trip, and all their sails
Let fall, to court the wind, and catch the gales:
By this the vessel half her course had run,
Both shoars were lost to sight, when at the close
Of day a stiffer gale at east arose:
The sea grew white, the rouling waves from far,
Like heralds, first denounce the watry war.
This seen, the master soon began to cry,
Strike, strike the top-sail; let the main-sheet
fly,
And furl your sails: the winds repel the sound,
And in the speaker's mouth the speech is drown'd.
Yet of their own accord, as danger taught
Each in his way, officiously they wrought;
Some stow their oars, or stop the leaky sides,
Another bolder, yet the yard bestrides,
And folds the sails; a fourth with labour laves
Th' intruding seas, and waves ejects on waves.
In this confusion while their work they ply,
The winds augment the winter of the sky,
And wage intestine wars; the suff'ring seas
Are toss'd, and mingled, as their tyrants please.
The master would command, but in despair
Of safety, stands amaz'd with stupid care,
Nor what to bid, or what forbid he knows,
Th' ungovern'd tempest to such fury grows:
Vain is his force, and vainer is his skill;
With such a concourse comes the flood of ill;
The cries of men are mix'd with rattling shrowds;
Seas dash on seas, and clouds encounter clouds:
At once from east to west, from pole to pole,
The forky lightnings flash, the roaring thunders
roul.
Now waves on waves ascending scale the skies,
And in the fires above the water fries:
When yellow sands are sifted from below,
The glittering billows give a golden show:
And when the fouler bottom spews the black
The Stygian dye the tainted waters take:
Then frothy white appear the flatted seas,
And change their colour, changing their disease,
Like various fits the Trachin vessel finds,
And now sublime, she rides upon the winds;
As from a lofty summit looks from high,
And from the clouds beholds the nether sky;
Now from the depth of Hell they lift their sight,
And at a distance see superior light;
The lashing billows make a loud report,
And beat her sides, as batt'ring rams a fort:
Or as a lion bounding in his way,
With force augmented, bears against his prey,
Sidelong to seize; or unapal'd with fear,
Springs on the toils, and rushes on the spear:
So seas impell'd by winds, with added pow'r
Assault the sides, and o'er the hatches tow'r.
The planks (their pitchy cov'ring wash'd away)
Now yield; and now a yawning breach display:
The roaring waters with a hostile tide
Rush through the ruins of her gaping side.
Mean-time in sheets of rain the sky descends,
And ocean swell'd with waters upwards tends;
One rising, falling one, the Heav'ns and sea
Meet at their confines, in the middle way:
The sails are drunk with show'rs, and drop with
rain,
Sweet waters mingle with the briny main.
No star appears to lend his friendly light;
Darkness, and tempest make a double night;
But flashing fires disclose the deep by turns,
And while the lightnings blaze, the water burns.
Now all the waves their scatter'd force unite,
And as a soldier foremost in the fight,
Makes way for others, and an host alone
Still presses on, and urging gains the town;
So while th' invading billows come a-breast,
The hero tenth advanc'd before the rest,
Sweeps all before him with impetuous sway,
And from the walls descends upon the prey;
Part following enter, part remain without,
With envy hear their fellows' conqu'ring shout,
And mount on others' backs, in hopes to share
The city, thus become the seat of war.
An universal cry resounds aloud,
The sailors run in heaps, a helpless crowd;
Art fails, and courage falls, no succour near;
As many waves, as many deaths appear.
One weeps, and yet despairs of late relief;
One cannot weep, his fears congeal his grief,
But stupid, with dry eyes expects his fate:
One with loud shrieks laments his lost estate,
And calls those happy whom their fun'rals wait.
This wretch with pray'rs and vows the Gods
implores,
And ev'n the skies he cannot see, adores.
That other on his friends his thoughts bestows,
His careful father, and his faithful spouse.
The covetous worldling in his anxious mind,
Thinks only on the wealth he left behind.
All Ceyx his Alcyone employs,
For her he grieves, yet in her absence joys:
His wife he wishes, and would still be near,
Not her with him, but wishes him with her:
Now with last looks he seeks his native shoar,
Which Fate has destin'd him to see no more;
He sought, but in the dark tempestuous night
He knew not whither to direct his sight.
So whirl the seas, such darkness blinds the sky,
That the black night receives a deeper dye.
The giddy ship ran round; the tempest tore
Her mast, and over-board the rudder bore.
One billow mounts, and with a scornful brow,
Proud of her conquest gain'd, insults the waves
below;
Nor lighter falls, than if some giant tore
Pindus and Athos with the freight they bore,
And toss'd on seas; press'd with the pond'rous
blow,
Down sinks the ship within th' abyss below:
Down with the vessel sink into the main
The many, never more to rise again.
Some few on scatter'd planks, with fruitless care,
Lay hold, and swim; but while they swim, despair.
Ev'n he who late a scepter did command,
Now grasps a floating fragment in his hand;
And while he struggles on the stormy main,
Invokes his father, and his wife's, in vain.
But yet his consort is his greatest care,
Alcyone he names amidst his pray'r;
Names as a charm against the waves and wind;
Most in his mouth, and ever in his mind.
Tir'd with his toil, all hopes of safety past,
From pray'rs to wishes he descends at last;
That his dead body, wafted to the sands,
Might have its burial from her friendly hands,
As oft as he can catch a gulp of air,
And peep above the seas, he names the fair;
And ev'n when plung'd beneath, on her he raves,
Murm'ring Alcyone below the waves:
At last a falling billow stops his breath,
Breaks o'er his head, and whelms him underneath.
That night, his heav'nly form obscur'd with tears,
And since he was forbid to leave the skies,
He muffled with a cloud his mournful eyes.
Mean-time Alcyone (his fate unknown)
Computes how many nights he had been gone.
Observes the waining moon with hourly view,
Numbers her age, and wishes for a new;
Against the promis'd time provides with care,
And hastens in the woof the robes he was to wear:
And for her self employs another loom,
New-dress'd to meet her lord returning home,
Flatt'ring her heart with joys, that never were to
come:
She fum'd the temples with an od'rous flame,
And oft before the sacred altars came,
To pray for him, who was an empty name.
All Pow'rs implor'd, but far above the rest
To Juno she her pious vows address'd,
Her much-lov'd lord from perils to protect,
And safe o'er seas his voyage to direct:
Then pray'd, that she might still possess his
heart,
And no pretending rival share a part;
This last petition heard of all her pray'r,
The rest, dispers'd by winds, were lost in air.
But she, the Goddess of the nuptial bed,
Tir'd with her vain devotions for the dead,
Resolv'd the tainted hand should be repell'd,
Which incense offer'd, and her altar held:
Then Iris thus bespoke: Thou faithful maid,
By whom thy queen's commands are well convey'd,
Haste to the house of sleep, and bid the God
Who rules the night by visions with a nod,
Prepare a dream, in figure, and in form
Resembling him, who perish'd in the storm;
This form before Alcyone present,
To make her certain of the sad event.
Indu'd with robes of various hue she flies,
And flying draws an arch (a segment of the skies):
Then leaves her bending bow, and from the steep
Descends, to search the silent house of sleep.
The House of Near the Cymmerians, in his dark abode,
Sleep Deep in a cavern, dwells the drowzy God;
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising sun,
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon;
But lazy vapours round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight, and a doubtful sky:
No crowing cock does there his wings display,
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day;
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb with nightly noise the sacred peace;
Nor beast of Nature, nor the tame are nigh,
Nor trees with tempests rock'd, nor human cry;
But safe repose without an air of breath
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death.
An arm of Lethe, with a gentle flow
Arising upwards from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o'er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps.
Around its entry nodding poppies grow,
And all cool simples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And passing, sheds it on the silent plains:
No door there was th' unguarded house to keep,
On creaking hinges turn'd, to break his sleep.
But in the gloomy court was rais'd a bed,
Stuff'd with black plumes, and on an ebon-sted:
Black was the cov'ring too, where lay the God,
And slept supine, his limbs display'd abroad:
About his head fantastick visions fly,
Which various images of things supply,
And mock their forms; the leaves on trees not more,
Nor bearded ears in fields, nor sands upon the
shore.
The virgin ent'ring bright, indulg'd the day
To the brown cave, and brush'd the dreams away:
The God disturb'd with this new glare of light,
Cast sudden on his face, unseal'd his sight,
And rais'd his tardy head, which sunk again,
And sinking, on his bosom knock'd his chin;
At length shook off himself, and ask'd the dame,
(And asking yawn'd) for what intent she came.
To whom the Goddess thus: O sacred rest,
Sweet pleasing sleep, of all the Pow'rs the best!
O peace of mind, repairer of decay,
Whose balms renew the limbs to labours of the day,
Care shuns thy soft approach, and sullen flies
away!
Adorn a dream, expressing human form,
The shape of him who suffer'd in the storm,
And send it flitting to the Trachin court,
The wreck of wretched Ceyx to report:
Before his queen bid the pale spectre stand,
Who begs a vain relief at Juno's hand.
She said, and scarce awake her eyes could keep,
Unable to support the fumes of sleep;
But fled, returning by the way she went,
And swerv'd along her bow with swift ascent.
The God, uneasy 'till he slept again,
Resolv'd at once to rid himself of pain;
And, tho' against his custom, call'd aloud,
Exciting Morpheus from the sleepy crowd:
Morpheus, of all his numerous train, express'd
The shape of man, and imitated best;
The walk, the words, the gesture could supply,
The habit mimick, and the mein bely;
Plays well, but all his action is confin'd,
Extending not beyond our human kind.
Another, birds, and beasts, and dragons apes,
And dreadful images, and monster shapes:
This demon, Icelos, in Heav'n's high hall
The Gods have nam'd; but men Phobetor call.
A third is Phantasus, whose actions roul
On meaner thoughts, and things devoid of soul;
Earth, fruits, and flow'rs he represents in dreams,
And solid rocks unmov'd, and running streams.
These three to kings, and chiefs their scenes
display,
The rest before th' ignoble commons play.
Of these the chosen Morpheus is dispatch'd;
Which done, the lazy monarch, over-watch'd,
Down from his propping elbow drops his head,
Dissolv'd in sleep, and shrinks within his bed.
Darkling the demon glides, for flight prepar'd,
So soft, that scarce his fanning wings are heard.
To Trachin, swift as thought, the flitting shade,
Thro' air his momentary journey made:
Then lays aside the steerage of his wings,
Forsakes his proper form, assumes the king's;
And pale, as death, despoil'd of his array,
Into the queen's apartment takes his way,
And stands before the bed at dawn of day:
Unmov'd his eyes, and wet his beard appears;
And shedding vain, but seeming real tears;
The briny waters dropping from his hairs.
Then staring on her with a ghastly look,
And hollow voice, he thus the queen bespoke.
Know'st thou not me? Not yet, unhappy wife?
Or are my features perish'd with my life?
Look once again, and for thy husband lost,
Lo all that's left of him, thy husband's ghost!
Thy vows for my return were all in vain,
The stormy south o'ertook us in the main,
And never shalt thou see thy living lord again.
Bear witness, Heav'n, I call'd on thee in death,
And while I call'd, a billow stop'd my breath.
Think not, that flying fame reports my fate;
I present, I appear, and my own wreck relate.
Rise, wretched widow, rise; nor undeplor'd
Permit my soul to pass the Stygian ford;
But rise, prepar'd in black, to mourn thy perish'd
lord.
Thus said the player-God; and adding art
Of voice and gesture, so perform'd his part,
She thought (so like her love the shade appears)
That Ceyx spake the words, and Ceyx shed the tears;
She groan'd, her inward soul with grief opprest,
She sigh'd, she wept, and sleeping beat her breast;
Then stretch'd her arms t' embrace his body bare;
Her clasping arms inclose but empty air:
At this, not yet awake, she cry'd, O stay;
One is our fate, and common is our way!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
 

Search


Recent searches | Top searches