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No Moss But Still Life

no rolling stones anymore
gathering no moss
laundary service on moment to moment mental motion
dependent origins of happenings in life
no home is attached to a space in heart
only the zero-moment of change
no ying and yang
no satory
only zero-moment of change towardss the realization of nothingness
no moss for a voyager of stillness

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Book II - Part 02 - Atomic Motions

Now come: I will untangle for thy steps
Now by what motions the begetting bodies
Of the world-stuff beget the varied world,
And then forever resolve it when begot,
And by what force they are constrained to this,
And what the speed appointed unto them
Wherewith to travel down the vast inane:
Do thou remember to yield thee to my words.
For truly matter coheres not, crowds not tight,
Since we behold each thing to wane away,
And we observe how all flows on and off,
As 'twere, with age-old time, and from our eyes
How eld withdraws each object at the end,
Albeit the sum is seen to bide the same,
Unharmed, because these motes that leave each thing
Diminish what they part from, but endow
With increase those to which in turn they come,
Constraining these to wither in old age,
And those to flower at the prime (and yet
Biding not long among them). Thus the sum
Forever is replenished, and we live
As mortals by eternal give and take.
The nations wax, the nations wane away;
In a brief space the generations pass,
And like to runners hand the lamp of life
One unto other.
But if thou believe
That the primordial germs of things can stop,
And in their stopping give new motions birth,
Afar thou wanderest from the road of truth.
For since they wander through the void inane,
All the primordial germs of things must needs
Be borne along, either by weight their own,
Or haply by another's blow without.
For, when, in their incessancy so oft
They meet and clash, it comes to pass amain
They leap asunder, face to face: not strange-
Being most hard, and solid in their weights,
And naught opposing motion, from behind.
And that more clearly thou perceive how all
These mites of matter are darted round about,
Recall to mind how nowhere in the sum
Of All exists a bottom,- nowhere is
A realm of rest for primal bodies; since
(As amply shown and proved by reason sure)
Space has no bound nor measure, and extends
Unmetered forth in all directions round.
Since this stands certain, thus 'tis out of doubt
No rest is rendered to the primal bodies
Along the unfathomable inane; but rather,
Inveterately plied by motions mixed,
Some, at their jamming, bound aback and leave
Huge gaps between, and some from off the blow
Are hurried about with spaces small between.
And all which, brought together with slight gaps,
In more condensed union bound aback,
Linked by their own all intertangled shapes,-
These form the irrefragable roots of rocks
And the brute bulks of iron, and what else
Is of their kind...
The rest leap far asunder, far recoil,
Leaving huge gaps between: and these supply
For us thin air and splendour-lights of the sun.
And many besides wander the mighty void-
Cast back from unions of existing things,
Nowhere accepted in the universe,
And nowise linked in motions to the rest.
And of this fact (as I record it here)
An image, a type goes on before our eyes
Present each moment; for behold whenever
The sun's light and the rays, let in, pour down
Across dark halls of houses: thou wilt see
The many mites in many a manner mixed
Amid a void in the very light of the rays,
And battling on, as in eternal strife,
And in battalions contending without halt,
In meetings, partings, harried up and down.
From this thou mayest conjecture of what sort
The ceaseless tossing of primordial seeds
Amid the mightier void- at least so far
As small affair can for a vaster serve,
And by example put thee on the spoor
Of knowledge. For this reason too 'tis fit
Thou turn thy mind the more unto these bodies
Which here are witnessed tumbling in the light:
Namely, because such tumblings are a sign
That motions also of the primal stuff
Secret and viewless lurk beneath, behind.
For thou wilt mark here many a speck, impelled
By viewless blows, to change its little course,
And beaten backwards to return again,
Hither and thither in all directions round.
Lo, all their shifting movement is of old,
From the primeval atoms; for the same
Primordial seeds of things first move of self,
And then those bodies built of unions small
And nearest, as it were, unto the powers
Of the primeval atoms, are stirred up
By impulse of those atoms' unseen blows,
And these thereafter goad the next in size;
Thus motion ascends from the primevals on,
And stage by stage emerges to our sense,
Until those objects also move which we
Can mark in sunbeams, though it not appears
What blows do urge them.
Herein wonder not
How 'tis that, while the seeds of things are all
Moving forever, the sum yet seems to stand
Supremely still, except in cases where
A thing shows motion of its frame as whole.
For far beneath the ken of senses lies
The nature of those ultimates of the world;
And so, since those themselves thou canst not see,
Their motion also must they veil from men-
For mark, indeed, how things we can see, oft
Yet hide their motions, when afar from us
Along the distant landscape. Often thus,
Upon a hillside will the woolly flocks
Be cropping their goodly food and creeping about
Whither the summons of the grass, begemmed
With the fresh dew, is calling, and the lambs
Well filled, are frisking, locking horns in sport:
Yet all for us seem blurred and blent afar-
A glint of white at rest on a green hill.
Again, when mighty legions, marching round,
Fill all the quarters of the plains below,
Rousing a mimic warfare, there the sheen
Shoots up the sky, and all the fields about
Glitter with brass, and from beneath, a sound
Goes forth from feet of stalwart soldiery,
And mountain walls, smote by the shouting, send
The voices onward to the stars of heaven,
And hither and thither darts the cavalry,
And of a sudden down the midmost fields
Charges with onset stout enough to rock
The solid earth: and yet some post there is
Up the high mountains, viewed from which they seem
To stand- a gleam at rest along the plains.

Now what the speed to matter's atoms given
Thou mayest in few, my Memmius, learn from this:
When first the dawn is sprinkling with new light
The lands, and all the breed of birds abroad
Flit round the trackless forests, with liquid notes
Filling the regions along the mellow air,
We see 'tis forthwith manifest to man
How suddenly the risen sun is wont
At such an hour to overspread and clothe
The whole with its own splendour; but the sun's
Warm exhalations and this serene light
Travel not down an empty void; and thus
They are compelled more slowly to advance,
Whilst, as it were, they cleave the waves of air;
Nor one by one travel these particles
Of the warm exhalations, but are all
Entangled and enmassed, whereby at once
Each is restrained by each, and from without
Checked, till compelled more slowly to advance.
But the primordial atoms with their old
Simple solidity, when forth they travel
Along the empty void, all undelayed
By aught outside them there, and they, each one
Being one unit from nature of its parts,
Are borne to that one place on which they strive
Still to lay hold, must then, beyond a doubt,
Outstrip in speed, and be more swiftly borne
Than light of sun, and over regions rush,
Of space much vaster, in the self-same time
The sun's effulgence widens round the sky.

Nor to pursue the atoms one by one,
To see the law whereby each thing goes on.
But some men, ignorant of matter, think,
Opposing this, that not without the gods,
In such adjustment to our human ways,
Can Nature change the seasons of the years,
And bring to birth the grains and all of else
To which divine Delight, the guide of life,
Persuades mortality and leads it on,
That, through her artful blandishments of love,
It propagate the generations still,
Lest humankind should perish. When they feign
That gods have stablished all things but for man,
They seem in all ways mightily to lapse
From reason's truth: for ev'n if ne'er I knew
What seeds primordial are, yet would I dare
This to affirm, ev'n from deep judgment based
Upon the ways and conduct of the skies-
This to maintain by many a fact besides-
That in no wise the nature of the world
For us was builded by a power divine-
So great the faults it stands encumbered with:
The which, my Memmius, later on, for thee
We will clear up. Now as to what remains
Concerning motions we'll unfold our thought.
Now is the place, meseems, in these affairs
To prove for thee this too: nothing corporeal
Of its own force can e'er be upward borne,
Or upward go- nor let the bodies of flames
Deceive thee here: for they engendered are
With urge to upwards, taking thus increase,
Whereby grow upwards shining grains and trees,
Though all the weight within them downward bears.
Nor, when the fires will leap from under round
The roofs of houses, and swift flame laps up
Timber and beam, 'tis then to be supposed
They act of own accord, no force beneath
To urge them up. 'Tis thus that blood, discharged
From out our bodies, spurts its jets aloft
And spatters gore. And hast thou never marked
With what a force the water will disgorge
Timber and beam? The deeper, straight and down,
We push them in, and, many though we be,
The more we press with main and toil, the more
The water vomits up and flings them back,
That, more than half their length, they there emerge,
Rebounding. Yet we never doubt, meseems,
That all the weight within them downward bears
Through empty void. Well, in like manner, flames
Ought also to be able, when pressed out,
Through winds of air to rise aloft, even though
The weight within them strive to draw them down.
Hast thou not seen, sweeping so far and high,
The meteors, midnight flambeaus of the sky,
How after them they draw long trails of flame
Wherever Nature gives a thoroughfare?
How stars and constellations drop to earth,
Seest not? Nay, too, the sun from peak of heaven
Sheds round to every quarter its large heat,
And sows the new-ploughed intervales with light:
Thus also sun's heat downward tends to earth.
Athwart the rain thou seest the lightning fly;
Now here, now there, bursting from out the clouds,
The fires dash zig-zag- and that flaming power
Falls likewise down to earth.
In these affairs
We wish thee also well aware of this:
The atoms, as their own weight bears them down
Plumb through the void, at scarce determined times,
In scarce determined places, from their course
Decline a little- call it, so to speak,
Mere changed trend. For were it not their wont
Thuswise to swerve, down would they fall, each one,
Like drops of rain, through the unbottomed void;
And then collisions ne'er could be nor blows
Among the primal elements; and thus
Nature would never have created aught.

But, if perchance be any that believe
The heavier bodies, as more swiftly borne
Plumb down the void, are able from above
To strike the lighter, thus engendering blows
Able to cause those procreant motions, far
From highways of true reason they retire.
For whatsoever through the waters fall,
Or through thin air, must their descent,
Each after its weight- on this account, because
Both bulk of water and the subtle air
By no means can retard each thing alike,
But give more quick before the heavier weight;
But contrariwise the empty void cannot,
On any side, at any time, to aught
Oppose resistance, but will ever yield,
True to its bent of nature. Wherefore all,
With equal speed, though equal not in weight,
Must rush, borne downward through the still inane.
Thus ne'er at all have heavier from above
Been swift to strike the lighter, gendering strokes
Which cause those divers motions, by whose means
Nature transacts her work. And so I say,
The atoms must a little swerve at times-
But only the least, lest we should seem to feign
Motions oblique, and fact refute us there.
For this we see forthwith is manifest:
Whatever the weight, it can't obliquely go,
Down on its headlong journey from above,
At least so far as thou canst mark; but who
Is there can mark by sense that naught can swerve
At all aside from off its road's straight line?

Again, if ev'r all motions are co-linked,
And from the old ever arise the new
In fixed order, and primordial seeds
Produce not by their swerving some new start
Of motion to sunder the covenants of fate,
That cause succeed not cause from everlasting,
Whence this free will for creatures o'er the lands,
Whence is it wrested from the fates,- this will
Whereby we step right forward where desire
Leads each man on, whereby the same we swerve
In motions, not as at some fixed time,
Nor at some fixed line of space, but where
The mind itself has urged? For out of doubt
In these affairs 'tis each man's will itself
That gives the start, and hence throughout our limbs
Incipient motions are diffused. Again,
Dost thou not see, when, at a point of time,
The bars are opened, how the eager strength
Of horses cannot forward break as soon
As pants their mind to do? For it behooves
That all the stock of matter, through the frame,
Be roused, in order that, through every joint,
Aroused, it press and follow mind's desire;
So thus thou seest initial motion's gendered
From out the heart, aye, verily, proceeds
First from the spirit's will, whence at the last
'Tis given forth through joints and body entire.
Quite otherwise it is, when forth we move,
Impelled by a blow of another's mighty powers
And mighty urge; for then 'tis clear enough
All matter of our total body goes,
Hurried along, against our own desire-
Until the will has pulled upon the reins
And checked it back, throughout our members all;
At whose arbitrament indeed sometimes
The stock of matter's forced to change its path,
Throughout our members and throughout our joints,
And, after being forward cast, to be
Reined up, whereat it settles back again.
So seest thou not, how, though external force
Drive men before, and often make them move,
Onward against desire, and headlong snatched,
Yet is there something in these breasts of ours
Strong to combat, strong to withstand the same?-
Wherefore no less within the primal seeds
Thou must admit, besides all blows and weight,
Some other cause of motion, whence derives
This power in us inborn, of some free act.-
Since naught from nothing can become, we see.
For weight prevents all things should come to pass
Through blows, as 'twere, by some external force;
But that man's mind itself in all it does
Hath not a fixed necessity within,
Nor is not, like a conquered thing, compelled
To bear and suffer,- this state comes to man
From that slight swervement of the elements
In no fixed line of space, in no fixed time.
Nor ever was the stock of stuff more crammed,
Nor ever, again, sundered by bigger gaps:
For naught gives increase and naught takes away;
On which account, just as they move to-day,
The elemental bodies moved of old
And shall the same hereafter evermore.
And what was wont to be begot of old
Shall be begotten under selfsame terms
And grow and thrive in power, so far as given
To each by Nature's changeless, old decrees.
The sum of things there is no power can change,
For naught exists outside, to which can flee
Out of the world matter of any kind,
Nor forth from which a fresh supply can spring,
Break in upon the founded world, and change
Whole nature of things, and turn their motions about.

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The Poem And The Name May Be Immortal For A Time

THE POEM AND THE NAME MAY BE IMMORTAL FOR A TIME

The poem and the name may be immortal for a time-
The person – not.
At the end of this life
No one knows what God gives
In another world-
Here on earth
Dust dirt worms and darkness.
Praise God for the years I have left
I am going under like the rest of them

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Simple Life -Acrostic #3

Stay focused on goals and dreams,
Identify those that need change.
Many trials discourage it seems
Persevere, for winning is in your range
Live honestly and work with pride
Excellence will soon be at your side.

Leave worries and anger, be free!
In Faith, trust in God's care.
For life is short, so live peacefully
Everything has a reason to be there.

'Be joyful in hope,
Patient in affliction,
Faithful in prayer.'

Romans 12: 12
May 30,2012
Cynthia BuhainBaello

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Nature's Ying and Yeng

Nature's Ying and Yeng (Nature's Wonder)
By godfrey morris

Perfect beauty flows in abundance from her bosom
so vividly displayed in divine design.
Splendor is sure in green vegetation within the midst
of the sun-lit glow, illuminating the deep blue engulfing sphere.

In nature, lies great serenity that leaves all to wonder
for more of its majestic glory. Her secrets are a mystery,
as in its peace great horror wreak.
What new ills do omens seek?

The earth trembles, a sudden shock that tend to break the faults of rocks.
The violent wind may blow, displacing all earthly things you know.

Violent fire emerges from a crack to burn all things within its track.
water travels upon the earth to sweep and clean for all to weep.

Earth- wind, fire and water, the elements of our nature's wonder.

Copyright © 2012

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The One I Was Searching For On the Earth and in Heaven

The one I was searching for on the earth and in heaven
Appeared residing in the recesses of my own heart

When the reality of the self became evident to my eyes
The house appeared among residents of my own heart

If it were somewhat familiar with taste of rubbing foreheads
The stone of Ka’ba’s threshold would have joined the foreheads

O Majnun! Have you ever glanced at yourself
That like Layla you are also sitting in the litter

The months of the union continue flying like moments
But the moments of separation linger for months!

O seaman, how will you protect me from being drowned
As those destined to drowning get drowned in the boats also

The one who concealed His Beauty from Kalim Allah
The same Beloved is manifest among beloveds

The breath of Lovers can light up the extinguished candle
O God! What is kept concealed in the breast of the Lovers?

Serve the fakirs if you have the longing for Love
This pearl is not available in the treasures of kings

Do not ask of these Devotees, if you have faith, you should look at them
They have the illuminated palm up their sleeves

The insightful eye for whose spectacle is tantalized
That elegance of congregation is in these very recluses

Burn the produce of your heart with some such spark
That the Last Day’s sun may also be among your gleaners

For Love search for some heart which would become mortified
This is the wine which is not kept in delicate wine glasses

The Beauty itself becomes the Lover of whose Beauty
O Heart! Does someone among the beautiful has that beauty?

Someone became highly excited at your grace of Ma’arafna
Your rank remained among the most elegant of all the Lovers

Manifest Thyself and show them Thy Beauty some time
Talks have continued among the sagacious since long time

Silent, O Heart! Crying in the full assembly is not good
Decorum is the most important etiquette among the ways of Love

It is not possible for me to deem my critics bad
Because Iqbal, I am myself among my critics

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Olivia Wilde

Once I took a bus from my home in Maryland to Philadelphia to live on the streets with some musicians for a few weeks, and then my parents sent me to boarding school at Andover to shape me up.

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Soldiers Heart

sir
i am no normal person
i was no normal child
brought up in the country
one view in my mind
this country we live in
this place we call home
this is my england
with honour to the thrown
i'd fight for queen and country
if the call was made
i'd fight under the flag
this is my way
people think im crazy
people think im mad
this is no normal heart
it is the heart of the soldier
born and bred a soldier
the title i never took
instead im known as police officer
a baton is my rifle
different colour uniform
my boots the same as all the soldiers
my heart the sames as theirs
so when you ask me my name sir
the reply that you will get
i am but a soldier sir
and that i will never forget

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Safe In My Sister’s Care

I have often wondered what real happiness would feel like,
when I saw my twin sister’s journal, I knew happiness at last
a feeling like warm coffee enveloping one softly, a joyous
fulfilment, all life appearing joyously precious

Because she printed a few of my poems and glued them next
to pictures I love – of old English cottages, illustrations from the
Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, quotations from Esther
Hicks- Abraham, all the things that sustain me daily

Seeing my thoughts safe in my sister’s care, hearing her saying
that her own dreams are fulfilled, is the highest happiness I could
dream of - though she frequently looses the mental frequency
which ensures access to sweet thoughts, she is on her way

To finding the joy she was born for, stop lamenting a past that she
mourns for; I cannot ask for anything else, trusting that she will
break free from a legacy of bad memories

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The Love that Binds

My father died of the cholera
In eighteen thirty-two,
There wasn't a place at the cemetery
To bury him, that we knew,
The signs were posted at Netherton,
‘Don't bring your bodies here! '
The Sexton spoke: ‘Try Gospel Oak,
Or maybe, Wednesbury.'

We loaded Pa back onto the cart
And whipped the old grey mare,
We'd not long buried our cousin Jack
At the turning of the year,
From Manchester to Birmingham
The epidemic spread,
From Liverpool to Leeds, to York,
With one in twenty dead!

I walked along with the horse and cart
And I passed so many more,
They thrust their relatives out, feet first
In front of the tradesman's door,
The fear had spread so rapidly
No family was safe,
So Grandma went in her winding sheet
Outside, with her Sister Kate!

They loaded bodies onto a cart
No dignity in death,
And piled them three and four feet high
As they took their final breath,
And pits were dug as the space grew less
The Churchyards all were full,
For years, the gardeners turned them up
Old bones, and a grinning skull!

We took our Pa on home at last
With nowhere else to go,
And sat him out in the potting shed
Where the seedlings used to grow,
Then Ma sat down beside him there
And died of a broken heart,
We knew it would be a waste of time
To break out the horse and cart.

For years they sat untouched out there
Through spring and the summertime,
I looked one day, they were overgrown
With a creeper, like a vine,
The vine had woven in and around
Through bones that were falling apart,
It tied and bound them together,
Wrapping a tendril round each heart.

‘When things calm down, we'll bury them, '
I said to my brother, Sid,
As time went on, we both forgot
And I guess we never did;
They're closer now than they were in life
She doesn't scold or moan,
While he clings fast to his silent wife,
And at least, they're both at home!

30 August 2012

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The Glen of Arrawatta

A SKY of wind! And while these fitful gusts
Are beating round the windows in the cold,
With sullen sobs of rain, behold I shape
A settler’s story of the wild old times:
One told by camp-fires when the station drays
Were housed and hidden, forty years ago;
While swarthy drivers smoked their pipes, and drew,
And crowded round the friendly gleaming flame
That lured the dingo, howling, from his caves,
And brought sharp sudden feet about the brakes.

A tale of Love and Death. And shall I say
A tale of love in death—for all the patient eyes
That gathered darkness, watching for a son
And brother, never dreaming of the fate—
The fearful fate he met alone, unknown,
Within the ruthless Australasian wastes?

For in a far-off, sultry summer, rimmed
With thundercloud and red with forest fires,
All day, by ways uncouth and ledges rude,
The wild men held upon a stranger’s trail,
Which ran against the rivers and athwart
The gorges of the deep blue western hills.

And when a cloudy sunset, like the flame
In windy evenings on the Plains of Thirst
Beyond the dead banks of the far Barcoo,
Lay heavy down the topmost peaks, they came,
With pent-in breath and stealthy steps, and crouched,
Like snakes, amongst the grasses, till the night
Had covered face from face, and thrown the gloom
Of many shadows on the front of things.

There, in the shelter of a nameless glen,
Fenced round by cedars and the tangled growths
Of blackwood, stained with brown and shot with grey,
The jaded white man built his fire, and turned
His horse adrift amongst the water-pools
That trickled underneath the yellow leaves
And made a pleasant murmur, like the brooks
Of England through the sweet autumnal noons.

Then, after he had slaked his thirst and used
The forest fare, for which a healthful day
Of mountain life had brought a zest, he took
His axe, and shaped with boughs and wattle-forks
A wurley, fashioned like a bushman’s roof:
The door brought out athwart the strenuous flame
The back thatched in against a rising wind.

And while the sturdy hatchet filled the clifts
With sounds unknown, the immemorial haunts
Of echoes sent their lonely dwellers forth,
Who lived a life of wonder: flying round
And round the glen—what time the kangaroo
Leapt from his lair and huddled with the bats—
Far scattering down the wildly startled fells.
Then came the doleful owl; and evermore
The bleak morass gave out the bittern’s call,
The plover’s cry, and many a fitful wail
Of chilly omen, falling on the ear
Like those cold flaws of wind that come and go
An hour before the break of day.

Anon
The stranger held from toil, and, settling down,
He drew rough solace from his well-filled pipe,
And smoked into the night, revolving there
The primal questions of a squatter’s life;
For in the flats, a short day’s journey past
His present camp, his station yards were kept,
With many a lodge and paddock jutting forth
Across the heart of unnamed prairie-lands,
Now loud with bleating and the cattle bells,
And misty with the hut-fire’s daily smoke.

Wide spreading flats, and western spurs of hills
That dipped to plains of dim perpetual blue;
Bold summits set against the thunder heaps;
And slopes behacked and crushed by battling kine,
Where now the furious tumult of their feet
Gives back the dust, and up from glen and brake
Evokes fierce clamour, and becomes indeed
A token of the squatter’s daring life,
Which, growing inland—growing year by year—
Doth set us thinking in these latter days,
And makes one ponder of the lonely lands
Beyond the lonely tracks of Burke and Wills,
Where, when the wandering Stuart fixed his camps
In central wastes, afar from any home
Or haunt of man, and in the changeless midst
Of sullen deserts and the footless miles
Of sultry silence, all the ways about
Grew strangely vocal, and a marvellous noise
Became the wonder of the waxing glooms.

Now, after darkness, like a mighty spell
Amongst the hills and dim, dispeopled dells,
Had brought a stillness to the soul of things,
It came to pass that, from the secret depths
Of dripping gorges, many a runnel-voice
Came, mellowed with the silence, and remained
About the caves, a sweet though alien sound;
Now rising ever, like a fervent flute
In moony evenings, when the theme is love;
Now falling, as ye hear the Sunday bells
While hastening fieldward from the gleaming town.

Then fell a softer mood, and memory paused
With faithful love, amidst the sainted shrines
Of youth and passion in the valleys past
Of dear delights which never grow again.
And if the stranger (who had left behind
Far anxious homesteads in a wave-swept isle,
To face a fierce sea-circle day by day,
And hear at night the dark Atlantic’s moan)
Now took a hope and planned a swift return,
With wealth and health and with a youth unspent,
To those sweet ones that stayed with want at home,
Say who shall blame him—though the years are long,
And life is hard, and waiting makes the heart grow old?

Thus passed the time, until the moon serene
Stood over high dominion like a dream
Of peace: within the white, transfigured woods;
And o’er the vast dew-dripping wilderness
Of slopes illumined with her silent fires.

Then, far beyond the home of pale red leaves
And silver sluices, and the shining stems
Of runnel blooms, the dreamy wanderer saw,
The wilder for the vision of the moon,
Stark desolations and a waste of plain,
All smit by flame and broken with the storms;
Black ghosts of trees, and sapless trunks that stood
Harsh hollow channels of the fiery noise,
Which ran from bole to bole a year before,
And grew with ruin, and was like, indeed,
The roar of mighty winds with wintering streams
That foam about the limits of the land
And mix their swiftness with the flying seas.

Now, when the man had turned his face about
To take his rest, behold the gem-like eyes
Of ambushed wild things stared from bole and brake
With dumb amaze and faint-recurring glance,
And fear anon that drove them down the brush;
While from his den the dingo, like a scout
In sheltered ways, crept out and cowered near
To sniff the tokens of the stranger’s feast
And marvel at the shadows of the flame.

Thereafter grew the wind; and chafing depths
In distant waters sent a troubled cry
Across the slumb’rous forest; and the chill
Of coming rain was on the sleeper’s brow,
When, flat as reptiles hutted in the scrub,
A deadly crescent crawled to where he lay—
A band of fierce, fantastic savages
That, starting naked round the faded fire,
With sudden spears and swift terrific yells,
Came bounding wildly at the white man’s head,
And faced him, staring like a dream of Hell!

Here let me pass! I would not stay to tell
Of hopeless struggles under crushing blows;
Of how the surging fiends, with thickening strokes,
Howled round the stranger till they drained his strength;
How Love and Life stood face to face with Hate
And Death; and then how Death was left alone
With Night and Silence in the sobbing rains.

So, after many moons, the searchers found
The body mouldering in the mouldering dell
Amidst the fungi and the bleaching leaves,
And buried it, and raised a stony mound
Which took the mosses. Then the place became
The haunt of fearful legends and the lair
Of bats and adders.

There he lies and sleeps
From year to year—in soft Australian nights,
And through the furnaced noons, and in the times
Of wind and wet! Yet never mourner comes
To drop upon that grave the Christian’s tear
Or pluck the foul, dank weeds of death away.

But while the English autumn filled her lap
With faded gold, and while the reapers cooled
Their flame-red faces in the clover grass,
They looked for him at home: and when the frost
Had made a silence in the mourning lanes
And cooped the farmers by December fires,
They looked for him at home: and through the days
Which brought about the million-coloured Spring,
With moon-like splendours, in the garden plots,
They looked for him at home: while Summer danced,
A shining singer, through the tasselled corn,
They looked for him at home. From sun to sun
They waited. Season after season went,
And Memory wept upon the lonely moors,
And hope grew voiceless, and the watchers passed,
Like shadows, one by one away.

And he
Whose fate was hidden under forest leaves
And in the darkness of untrodden dells
Became a marvel. Often by the hearths
In winter nights, and when the wind was wild
Outside the casements, children heard the tale
Of how he left their native vales behind
(Where he had been a child himself) to shape
New fortunes for his father’s fallen house;
Of how he struggled—how his name became,
By fine devotion and unselfish zeal,
A name of beauty in a selfish land;
And then of how the aching hours went by,
With patient listeners praying for the step
Which never crossed the floor again. So passed
The tale to children; but the bitter end
Remained a wonder, like the unknown grave,
Alone with God and Silence in the hills.

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Canto the Eleventh

I
When Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"
And proved it -- 't was no matter what he said:
They say his system 't is in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it? I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the world a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.

II
What a sublime discovery 't was to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all's ideal -- all ourselves! -- I'll stake the
World (be it what you will) that that's no schism.
Oh Doubt! -- if thou be'st Doubt, for which some take thee;
But which I doubt extremely -- thou sole prism
Of the Truth's rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven's brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.

III
For ever and anon comes Indigestion,
(Not the most "dainty Ariel") and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of beings, stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The world, which at the worst's a glorious blunder --

IV
If it be chance; or if it be according
To the old text, still better: -- lest it should
Turn out so, we'll say nothing 'gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They're right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what no one ever could
Decide, and everybody one day will
Know very clearly -- or at least lie still.

V
And therefore will I leave off metaphysical
Discussion, which is neither here nor there:
If I agree that what is, is; then this I call
Being quite perspicuous and extremely fair;
The truth is, I've grown lately rather phthisical:
I don't know what the reason is -- the air
Perhaps; but as I suffer from the shocks
Of illness, I grow much more orthodox.

VI
The first attack at once proved the Divinity
(But that I never doubted, nor the Devil);
The next, the Virgin's mystical virginity;
The third, the usual Origin of Evil;
The fourth at once establish'd the whole Trinity
On so uncontrovertible a level,
That I devoutly wish'd the three were four,
On purpose to believe so much the more.

VII
To our Theme. -- The man who has stood on the Acropolis,
And look'd down over Attica; or he
Who has sail'd where picturesque Constantinople is,
Or seen Timbuctoo, or hath taken tea
In small-eyed China's crockery-ware metropolis,
Or sat amidst the bricks of Nineveh,
May not think much of London's first appearance --
But ask him what he thinks of it a year hence?

VIII
Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity;
While every thing around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard, -- and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum: --

IX
I say, Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation,
Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to 't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.

X
"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
'T is only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear:
Here" -- he was interrupted by a knife,
With, -- "Damn your eyes! your money or your life!" --

XI
These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
May find himself within that isle of riches
Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.

XII
Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought 't was only their "Salam,"
Or "God be with you!" -- and 't is not absurd
To think so: for half English as I am
(To my misfortune), never can I say
I heard them wish "God with you," save that way; --

XIII
Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding --
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
And roar'd out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
"Oh Jack! I'm floor'd by that 'ere bloody Frenchman!"

XIV
On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan's suite, late scatter'd at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish'd he had been less hasty with his flint.

XV
"Perhaps," thought he, "it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up; I'll help you with the load."

XVI
But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh for a glass of max! We've miss'd our booty;
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, -- he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying, "Give Sal that!" -- and died.

XVII
The cravat stain'd with bloody drops fell down
Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
A thorough varmint, and a real swell,
Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.

XVIII
Don Juan, having done the best he could
In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as "Crowner's quest" allow'd, pursued
His travels to the capital apace; --
Esteeming it a little hard he should
In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been obliged to slay a freeborn native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.

XIX
He from the world had cut off a great man,
Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bow Street's ban)
On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark, with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime, so swell, so nutty, and so knowing?

XX
But Tom's no more -- and so no more of Tom.
Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 't is
Not long before the most of them go home.
Hail! Thamis, Hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other "tons,"
Which makes us wish ourselves in town at once; --

XXI
Through Groves, so call'd as being void of trees
(Like lucus from no light); through prospects named
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
Nor much to climb; through little boxes framed
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
With "To be let" upon their doors proclaim'd;
Through "Rows" most modestly call'd "Paradise,"
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice; --

XXII
Through coaches, drays, choked turnpikes, and a whirl
Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of "purl,"
There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distill'd into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas); --

XXIII
Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
Upon the Guide-book's privilege. The sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party cross'd the bridge, --

XXIV
That's rather fine. The gentle sound of Thamis --
Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream,
Though hardly heard through multifarious "damme's" --
The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where fame is
A spectral resident -- whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile --
Make this a sacred part of Albion's isle.

XXV
The Druids' groves are gone -- so much the better:
Stone-Henge is not -- but what the devil is it? --
But Bedlam still exists with its sage fetter,
That madmen may not bite you on a visit;
The Bench too seats or suits full many a debtor;
The Mansion House too (though some people quiz it)
To me appears a stiff yet grand erection;
But then the Abbey's worth the whole collection.

XXVI
The line of lights, too, up to Charing Cross,
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation
Like gold as in comparison to dross,
Match'd with the Continent's illumination,
Whose cities Night by no means deigns to gloss.
The French were not yet a lamp-lighting nation,
And when they grew so -- on their new-found lantern,
Instead of wicks, they made a wicked man turn.

XXVII
A row of gentlemen along the streets
Suspended may illuminate mankind,
As also bonfires made of country seats;
But the old way is best for the purblind:
The other looks like phosphorus on sheets,
A sort of ignis fatuus to the mind,
Which, though 't is certain to perplex and frighten,
Must burn more mildly ere it can enlighten.

XXVIII
But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes
Could recommence to hunt his honest man,
And found him not amidst the various progenies
Of this enormous city's spreading span,
'T were not for want of lamps to aid his dodging his
Yet undiscover'd treasure. What I can,
I've done to find the same throughout life's journey,
But see the world is only one attorney.

XXIX
Over the stones still rattling up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages, but waxing thinner
As thunder'd knockers broke the long seal'd spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party as night fell, --
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursued his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James's Palace and St. James's "Hells."

XXX
They reach'd the hotel: forth stream'd from the front door
A tide of well-clad waiters, and around
The mob stood, and as usual several score
Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound
In decent London when the daylight's o'er;
Commodious but immoral, they are found
Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage. --
But Juan now is stepping from his carriage

XXXI
Into one of the sweetest of hotels,
Especially for foreigners -- and mostly
For those whom favour or whom fortune swells,
And cannot find a bill's small items costly.
There many an envoy either dwelt or dwells
(The den of many a diplomatic lost lie),
Until to some conspicuous square they pass,
And blazon o'er the door their names in brass.

XXXII
Juan, whose was a delicate commission,
Private, though publicly important, bore
No title to point out with due precision
The exact affair on which he was sent o'er.
'T was merely known, that on a secret mission
A foreigner of rank had graced our shore,
Young, handsome, and accomplish'd, who was said
(In whispers) to have turn'd his sovereign's head.

XXXIII
Some rumour also of some strange adventures
Had gone before him, and his wars and loves;
And as romantic heads are pretty painters,
And, above all, an Englishwoman's roves
Into the excursive, breaking the indentures
Of sober reason wheresoe'er it moves,
He found himself extremely in the fashion,
Which serves our thinking people for a passion.

XXXIV
I don't mean that they are passionless, but quite
The contrary; but then 't is in the head;
Yet as the consequences are as bright
As if they acted with the heart instead,
What after all can signify the site
Of ladies' lucubrations? So they lead
In safety to the place for which you start,
What matters if the road be head or heart?

XXXV
Juan presented in the proper place,
To proper placemen, every Russ credential;
And was received with all the due grimace
By those who govern in the mood potential,
Who, seeing a handsome stripling with smooth face,
Thought (what in state affairs is most essential)
That they as easily might do the youngster,
As hawks may pounce upon a woodland songster.

XXXVI
They err'd, as agéd men will do; but by
And by we'll talk of that; and if we don't,
'T will be because our notion is not high
Of politicians and their double front,
Who live by lies, yet dare not boldly lie: --
Now what I love in women is, they won't
Or can't do otherwise than lie, but do it
So well, the very truth seems falsehood to it.

XXXVII
And, after all, what is a lie? 'T is but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy
Historians, heroes, lawyers. priests, to put
A fact without some leaven of a lie.
The very shadow of true Truth would shut
Up annals, revelations, poesy,
And prophecy -- except it should be dated
Some years before the incidents related.

XXXVIII
Praised be all liars and all lies! Who now
Can tax my mild Muse with misanthropy?
She rings the world's "Te Deum," and her brow
Blushes for those who will not: -- but to sigh
Is idle; let us like most others bow,
Kiss hands, feet, any part of majesty,
After the good example of "Green Erin,"
Whose shamrock now seems rather worse for wearing.

XXXIX
Don Juan was presented, and his dress
And mien excited general admiration --
I don't know which was more admired or less:
One monstrous diamond drew much observation,
Which Catherine in a moment of "ivresse"
(In love or brandy's fervent fermentation)
Bestow'd upon him, as the public learn'd;
And, to say truth, it had been fairly earn'd.

XL
Besides the ministers and underlings,
Who must be courteous to the accredited
Diplomatists of rather wavering kings,
Until their royal riddle's fully read,
The very clerks, -- those somewhat dirty springs
Of office, or the house of office, fed
By foul corruption into streams, -- even they
Were hardly rude enough to earn their pay:

XLI
And insolence no doubt is what they are
Employ'd for, since it is their daily labour,
In the dear offices of peace or war;
And should you doubt, pray ask of your next neighbour,
When for a passport, or some other bar
To freedom, he applied (a grief and a bore),
If he found not his spawn of taxborn riches,
Like lap-dogs, the least civil sons of b-----s.

XLII
But Juan was received with much "empressement:" --
These phrases of refinement I must borrow
From our next neighbours' land, where, like a chessman,
There is a move set down for joy or sorrow
Not only in mere talking, but the press. Man
In islands is, it seems, downright and thorough,
More than on continents -- as if the sea
(See Billingsgate) made even the tongue more free.

XLIII
And yet the British "Damme"'s rather Attic:
Your continental oaths are but incontinent,
And turn on things which no aristocratic
Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent
This subject quote; as it would be schismatic
In politesse, and have a sound affronting in 't: --
But "Damme"'s quite ethereal, though too daring --
Platonic blasphemy, the soul of swearing.

XLIV
For downright rudeness, ye may stay at home;
For true or false politeness (and scarce that
Now) you may cross the blue deep and white foam --
The first the emblem (rarely though) of what
You leave behind, the next of much you come
To meet. However, 't is no time to chat
On general topics: poems must confine
Themselves to unity, like this of mine.

XLV
In the great world, -- which, being interpreted,
Meaneth the west or worst end of a city,
And about twice two thousand people bred
By no means to be very wise or witty,
But to sit up while others lie in bed,
And look down on the universe with pity, --
Juan, as an inveterate patrician,
Was well received by persons of condition.

XLVI
He was a bachelor, which is a matter
Of import both to virgin and to bride,
The former's hymeneal hopes to flatter;
And (should she not hold fast by love or pride)
'T is also of some moment to the latter:
A rib's a thorn in a wed gallant's side,
Requires decorum, and is apt to double
The horrid sin -- and what's still worse, the trouble.

XLVII
But Juan was a bachelor -- of arts,
And parts, and hearts: he danced and sung, and had
An air as sentimental as Mozart's
Softest of melodies; and could be sad
Or cheerful, without any "flaws or starts,"
Just at the proper time; and though a lad,
Had seen the world -- which is a curious sight,
And very much unlike what people write.

XLVIII
Fair virgins blush'd upon him; wedded dames
Bloom'd also in less transitory hues;
For both commodities dwell by the Thames,
The painting and the painted; youth, ceruse,
Against his heart preferr'd their usual claims,
Such as no gentleman can quite refuse:
Daughters admired his dress, and pious mothers
Inquired his income, and if he had brothers.

XLIX
The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses"
Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the honey-moon's last kisses
Have waned into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlook'd -- and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sigh'd, and paid it.

L
The Blues, that tender tribe who sigh o'er sonnets,
And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
Advanced in all their azure's highest hue:
They talk'd bad French or Spanish, and upon its
Late authors ask'd him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?

LI
Juan, who was a little superficial,
And not in literature a great Drawcansir,
Examined by this learnéd and especial
Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.

LII
However, he replied at hazard, with
A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learned lucubrations pith,
And pass'd for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
(Who at sixteen translated "Hercules Furens"
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.

LIII
Juan knew several languages -- as well
He might -- and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplish'd belle,
Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss Mævia Mannish,
Both long'd extremely to be sung in Spanish.

LIV
However, he did pretty well, and was
Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty "greatest living poets,"
As every paltry magazine can show its.

LV
In twice five years the "greatest living poet,"
Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 't is an imaginary thing.
Even I -- albeit I'm sure I did not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king --
Was reckon'd a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.

LVI
But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
My Leipsic, and my Mount Saint Jean seems Cain:
"La Belle Alliance" of dunces down at zero,
Now that the Lion's fall'n, may rise again:
But I will fall at least as fell my hero;
Nor reign at all, or as a monarch reign;
Or to some lonely isle of gaolers go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.

LVII
Sir Walter reign'd before me; Moore and Campbell
Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus hath a psalmodic amble
Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol -- by the hilts?

LVIII
Still he excels that artificial hard
Labourer in the same vineyard, though the vine
Yields him but vinegar for his reward, --
That neutralised dull Dorus of the Nine;
That swarthy Sporus, neither man nor bard;
That ox of verse, who ploughs for every line: --
Cambyses' roaring Romans beat at least
The howling Hebrews of Cybele's priest. --

LIX
Then there's my gentle Euphues, who, they say,
Sets up for being a sort of moral me;
He'll find it rather difficult some day
To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouth'd Boeotian "Savage Landor"
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.

LX
John Keats, who was kill'd off by one critique,
Just as he really promised something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'T is strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.

LXI
The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
To that which none will gain -- or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances; they're too numerous, like the thirty
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals wax'd but dirty.

LXII
This is the literary lower empire,
Where the prætorian bands take up the matter; --
A "dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"
The insolent soldiery to soothe and flatter,
With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire.
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them what an intellectual war is.

LXIII
I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks; -- but it is hardly worth my while
With such small gear to give myself concern:
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy,
And glides away, assured she never hurts ye.

LXIV
My Juan, whom I left in deadly peril
Amongst live poets and blue ladies, past
With some small profit through that field so sterile,
Being tired in time, and, neither least nor last,
Left it before he had been treated very ill;
And henceforth found himself more gaily class'd
Amongst the higher spirits of the day,
The sun's true son, no vapour, but a ray.

LXV
His morns he pass'd in business -- which, dissected,
Was like all business a laborious nothing
That leads to lassitude, the most infected
And Centaur Nessus garb of mortal clothing,
And on our sofas makes us lie dejected,
And talk in tender horrors of our loathing
All kinds of toil, save for our country's good --
Which grows no better, though 't is time it should.

LXVI
His afternoons he pass'd in visits, luncheons,
Lounging and boxing; and the twilight hour
In riding round those vegetable puncheons
Call'd "Parks," where there is neither fruit nor flower
Enough to gratify a bee's slight munchings;
But after all it is the only "bower"
(In Moore's phrase), where the fashionable fair
Can form a slight acquaintance with fresh air.

LXVII
Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world!
Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar
Through street and square fast flashing chariots hurl'd
Like harness'd meteors; then along the floor
Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirl'd;
Then roll the brazen thunders of the door,
Which opens to the thousand happy few
An earthly paradise of "Or Molu."

LXVIII
There stands the noble hostess, nor shall sink
With the three-thousandth curtsy; there the waltz,
The only dance which teaches girls to think,
Makes one in love even with its very faults.
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond their brink,
And long the latest of arrivals halts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemn'd to climb,
And gain an inch of staircase at a time.

LXIX
Thrice happy he who, after a survey
Of the good company, can win a corner,
A door that's in or boudoir out of the way,
Where he may fix himself like small "Jack Horner,"
And let the Babel round run as it may,
And look on as a mourner, or a scorner,
Or an approver, or a mere spectator,
Yawning a little as the night grows later.

LXX
But this won't do, save by and by; and he
Who, like Don Juan, takes an active share,
Must steer with care through all that glittering sea
Of gems and plumes and pearls and silks, to where
He deems it is his proper place to be;
Dissolving in the waltz to some soft air,
Or proudlier prancing with mercurial skill
Where Science marshals forth her own quadrille.

LXXI
Or, if he dance not, but hath higher views
Upon an heiress or his neighbour's bride,
Let him take care that that which he pursues
Is not at once too palpably descried.
Full many an eager gentleman oft rues
His haste: impatience is a blundering guide,
Amongst a people famous for reflection,
Who like to play the fool with circumspection.

LXXII
But, if you can contrive, get next at supper;
Or, if forestalled, get opposite and ogle: --
Oh, ye ambrosial moments! always upper
In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle,
Which sits for ever upon memory's crupper,
The ghost of vanish'd pleasures once in vogue! Ill
Can tender souls relate the rise and fall
Of hopes and fears which shake a single ball.

LXXIII
But these precautionary hints can touch
Only the common run, who must pursue,
And watch, and ward; whose plans a word too much
Or little overturns; and not the few
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Whom a good mien, especially if new,
Or fame, or name, for wit, war, sense, or nonsense,
Permits whate'er they please, or did not long since.

LXXIV
Our hero, as a hero, young and handsome,
Noble, rich, celebrated, and a stranger,
Like other slaves of course must pay his ransom,
Before he can escape from so much danger
As will environ a conspicuous man. Some
Talk about poetry, and "rack and manger,"
And ugliness, disease, as toil and trouble; --
I wish they knew the life of a young noble.

LXXV
They are young, but know not youth -- it is anticipated;
Handsome but wasted, rich without a sou;
Their vigour in a thousand arms is dissipated;
Their cash comes from, their wealth goes to a Jew;
Both senates see their nightly votes participated
Between the tyrant's and the tribunes' crew;
And having voted, dined, drunk, gamed, and whored,
The family vault receives another lord.

LXXVI
"Where is the world?" cries Young, at eighty" -- "Where
The world in which a man was born?" Alas!
Where is the world of eight years past? 'T was there --
I look for it -- 't is gone, a globe of glass!
Crack'd, shiver'd, vanish'd, scarcely gazed on, ere
A silent change dissolves the glittering mass.
Statesmen, chiefs, orators, queens, patriots, kings,
And dandies, all are gone on the wind's wings.

LXXVII
Where is Napoleon the Grand? God knows.
Where little Castlereagh? The devil can tell:
Where Grattan, Curran, Sheridan, all those
Who bound the bar or senate in their spell?
Where is the unhappy Queen, with all her woes?
And where the Daughter, whom the Isles loved well?
Where are those martyr'd saints the Five per Cents?
And where -- oh, where the devil are the rents?

LXXVIII
Where's Brummel? Dish'd. Where's Long Pole Wellesley? Diddled.
Where's Whitbread? Romilly? Where's George the Third?
Where is his will? (That's not so soon unriddled.)
And where is "Fum" the Fourth, our "royal bird?"
Gone down, it seems, to Scotland to be fiddled
Unto by Sawney's violin, we have heard:
"Caw me, caw thee" -- for six months hath been hatching
This scene of royal itch and loyal scratching.

LXXIX
Where is Lord This? And where my Lady That?
The Honourable Mistresses and Misses?
Some laid aside like an old Opera hat,
Married, unmarried, and remarried (this is
An evolution oft performed of late).
Where are the Dublin shouts -- and London hisses?
Where are the Grenvilles? Turn'd as usual. Where
My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were.

LXXX
Where are the Lady Carolines and Franceses?
Divorced or doing thereanent. Ye annals
So brilliant, where the list of routs and dances is, --
Thou Morning Post, sole record of the panels
Broken in carriages, and all the phantasies
Of fashion, -- say what streams now fill those channels?
Some die, some fly, some languish on the Continent,
Because the times have hardly left them one tenant.

LXXXI
Some who once set their caps at cautious dukes,
Have taken up at length with younger brothers:
Some heiresses have bit at sharpers' hooks:
Some maids have been made wives, some merely mothers;
Others have lost their fresh and fairy looks:
In short, the list of alterations bothers.
There's little strange in this, but something strange is
The unusual quickness of these common changes.

LXXXII
Talk not of seventy years as age; in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
The humblest individual under heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through.
I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new:
Nought's permanent among the human race,
Except the Whigs not getting into place.

LXXXIII
I have seen Napoleon, who seem'd quite a Jupiter,
Shrink to a Saturn. I have seen a Duke
(No matter which) turn politician stupider,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my "blue Peter,"
And sail for a new theme: -- I have seen -- and shook
To see it -- the king hiss'd, and then caress'd;
But don't pretend to settle which was best.

LXXXIV
I have seen the Landholders without a rap --
I have seen Joanna Southcote -- I have seen --
The House of Commons turn'd to a tax-trap --
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen --
I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap --
I have seen a Congress doing all that's mean --
I have seen some nations like o'erloaded asses
Kick off their burthens, meaning the high classes.

LXXXV
I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
Interminable -- not eternal -- speakers --
I have seen the funds at war with house and land --
I have seen the country gentlemen turn squeakers --
I have seen the people ridden o'er like sand
By slaves on horseback -- I have seen malt liquors
Exchanged for "thin potations" by John Bull --
I have seen john half detect himself a fool. --

LXXXVI
But "carpe diem," Juan, "carpe, carpe!"
To-morrow sees another race as gay
And transient, and devour'd by the same harpy.
"Life's a poor player," -- then "play out the play,
Ye villains!" above all keep a sharp eye
Much less on what you do than what you say:
Be hypocritical, be cautious, be
Not what you seem, but always what you see.

LXXXVII
But how shall I relate in other cantos
Of what befell our hero in the land,
Which 't is the common cry and lie to vaunt as
A moral country? But I hold my hand --
For I disdain to write an Atalantis;
But 't is as well at once to understand,
You are not a moral people, and you know it
Without the aid of too sincere a poet.

LXXXVIII
What Juan saw and underwent shall be
My topic, with of course the due restriction
Which is required by proper courtesy;
And recollect the work is only fiction,
And that I sing of neither mine nor me,
Though every scribe, in some slight turn of diction,
Will hint allusions never meant. Ne'er doubt
This -- when I speak, I don't hint, but speak out.

LXXXIX
Whether he married with the third or fourth
Offspring of some sage husband-hunting countess,
Or whether with some virgin of more worth
(I mean in Fortune's matrimonial bounties)
He took to regularly peopling Earth,
Of which your lawful awful wedlock fount is, --
Or whether he was taken in for damages,
For being too excursive in his homages, --

XC
Is yet within the unread events of time.
Thus far, go forth, thou lay, which I will back
Against the same given quantity of rhyme,
For being as much the subject of attack
As ever yet was any work sublime,
By those who love to say that white is black.
So much the better! -- I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.

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Don Juan: Canto the Eleventh

I
When Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"
And proved it--'twas no matter what he sald:
They say his system 'tis in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it! I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the World a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.II
What a sublime discovery 'twas to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all's ideal--all ourselves: I'll stake the
World (be it what you will) that that's no schism.
Oh Doubt!--if thou be'st Doubt, for which some take thee,
But which I doubt extremely--thou sole prism
Of the Truth's rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven's brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.III

For ever and anon comes Indigestion
(Not the most "dainty Ariel") and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where Man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of beings, stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The World, which at the worst's a glorious blunder--IV

If it be chance--or, if it be according
To the Old Text, still better: lest it should
Turn out so, we'll say nothing 'gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They're right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what no one ever could
Decide, and everybody one day will
Know very clearly--or at least lie still.V

And therefore will I leave off metaphysical
Discussion, which is neither here nor there:
If I agree that what is, is; then this I call
Being quite perspicuous and extremely fair.
The truth is, I've grown lately rather phthisical:
I don't know what the reason is--the air
Perhaps; but as I suffer from the shocks
Of illness, I grow much more orthodox.VI

The first attack at once prov'd the Divinity
(But that I never doubted, nor the Devil);
The next, the Virgin's mystical virginity;
The third, the usual Origin of Evil;
The fourth at once establish'd the whole Trinity
On so uncontrovertible a level,
That I devoutly wish'd the three were four--
On purpose to believe so much the more.VII

To our theme.--The man who has stood on the Acropolis,
And look'd down over Attica; or he
Who has sail'd where picturesque Constantinople is,
Or seen Timbuctoo, or hath taken tea
In small-ey'd China's crockery-ware metropolis,
Or sat amidst the bricks of Nineveh,
May not think much of London's first appearance--
But ask him what he thinks of it a year hence!VIII

Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity,
While everything around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard, and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum--IX

I say, Don Juan, wrapp'd in contemplation,
Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the People's voice nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.X

"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; her people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
'Tis only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear;
Here"--he was interrupted by a knife,
With--"Damn your eyes! your money or your life!"XI

These free-born sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceiv'd him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seiz'd the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter
May find himself within that isle of riches
Expos'd to lose his life as well as breeches.XII

Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought 'twas only their Salam,"
Or "God be with you!"--and 'tis not absurd
To think so, for half English as I am
(To my misfortune) never can I say
I heard them wish "God with you," save that way--XIII

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding,
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
And roar'd out, as he writh'd his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
"Oh Jack! I'm floor'd by that ere bloody Frenchman!"XIV


On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan's suite, late scatter'd at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish'd he had been less hasty with his flint.XV


"Perhaps,"thought he,"it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up, I'll help you with the load."XVI


But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh! for a glass of max ! We've miss'd our booty--
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying "Give Sal that!"--and died.XVII


The cravat stain'd with bloody drops fell down
Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
A thorough varmint, and a real swell,
Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.XVIII


Don Juan, having done the best he could
In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as "Crowner's 'quest" allow'd, pursu'd
His travels to the capital apace;
Esteeming it a little hard he should
In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been oblig'd to slay a free-born native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.XIX


He from the world had cut off a great man,
Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bowstreet's ban)
On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark, with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime, so swell, so nutty, and so knowing?XX


But Tom's no more--and so no more of Tom.
Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 'tis
Not long before the most of them go home.
Hail! Thamis, hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other "tons,"
Which make us wish ourselves in town at once;XXI


Through Groves, so called as being void of trees,
(Like lucus from no light); through prospects nam'd
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
Nor much to climb; through little boxes fram'd
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
With "To be let," upon their doors proclaim'd;
Through "Rows" most modestly call'd "Paradise,"
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice;XXII


Through coaches, drays, chok'd turnpikes, and a whirl
Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of "purl,"
There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distill'd into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas);XXIII


Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
Upon the guide-book's privilege. The sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party cross'd the bridge.XXIV


That's rather fine, the gentle sound of Thamis--
Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream--
Though hardly heard through multifarious "damme's":
The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where Fame is
A spectral resident--whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile--
Make this a sacred part of Albion's Isle.XXV


The Druid's groves are gone--so much the better:
Stonehenge is not--but what the devil is it?--
But Bedlam still exists with its sage fetter,
That madmen may not bite you on a visit;
The Bench too seats or suits full many a debtor;
The Mansion House too (though some people quiz it)
To me appears a stiff yet grand erection;
But then the Abbey's worth the whole collection.XXVI


The line of lights too, up to Charing Cross,
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation
Like gold as in comparison to dross,
Match'd with the Continent's illumination,
Whose cities Night by no means deigns to gloss.
The French were not yet a lamp-lighting nation,
And when they grew so--on their new-found lantern,
Instead of wicks, they made a wicked man turn.XXVII


A row of Gentlemen along the streets
Suspended may illuminate mankind,
As also bonfires made of country seats;
But the old way is best for the purblind:
The other looks like phosphorus on sheets,
A sort of [lang l]ignis fatuus[lang e] to the mind,
Which, though 'tis certain to perplex and frighten,
Must burn more mildly ere it can enlighten.XXVIII


But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes
Could recommence to hunt his honest man
And found him not amidst the various progenies
Of this enormous city's spreading spawn,
'Twere not for want of lamps to aid his dodging his
Yet undiscover'd treasure. What I can,
I've done to find the same throughout life's journey,
But see the World is only one attorney.XXIX


Over the stones still rattling, up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages, but waxing thinner
As thunder'd knockers broke the long seal'd spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party as night fell,
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursu'd his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James's Palace, and St. James's "Hells."XXX


They reach'd the hotel: forth stream'd from the front door
A tide of well-clad waiters, and around
The mob stood, and as usual several score
Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound
In decent London when the daylight's o'er;
Commodious but immoral, they are found
Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage:
But Juan now is stepping from his carriageXXXI


Into one of the sweetest of hotels,
Especially for foreigners--and mostly
For those whom favour or whom fortune swells,
And cannot find a bill's small items costly.
There many an envoy either dwelt or dwells
(The den of many a diplomatic lost lie),
Until to some conspicuous square they pass,
And blazon o'er the door their names in brass.XXXII


Juan, whose was a delicate commission,
Private, though publicly important, bore
No title to point out with due precision
The exact affair on which he was sent o'er.
'Twas merely known, that on a secret mission
A foreigner of rank had grac'd our shore,
Young, handsome and accomplish'd, who was said
(In whispers) to have turn'd his Sovereign's head.XXXIII


Some rumour also of some strange adventures
Had gone before him, and his wars and loves;
And as romantic heads are pretty painters,
And, above all, an Englishwoman's roves
Into the excursive, breaking the indentures
Of sober reason, wheresoe'er it moves,
He found himself extremely in the fashion,
Which serves our thinking people for a passion.XXXIV


I don't mean that they are passionless, but quite
The contrary; but then 'tis in the head;
Yet as the consequences are as bright
As if they acted with the heart instead,
What after all can signify the site
Of ladies' lucubrations? So they lead
In safety to the place for which you start,
What matters if the road be head or heart?XXXV


Juan presented in the proper place,
To proper placement, every Russ credential;
And was receiv'd with all the due grimace
By those who govern in the mood potential,
Who, seeing a handsome stripling with smooth face,
Thought (what in state affairs is most essential)
That they as easily might do the youngster,
As hawks may pounce upon a woodland songster.XXXVI


They err'd, as aged men will do; but by
And by we'll talk of that; and if we don't,
'T will be because our notion is not high
Of politicians and their double front,
Who live by lies, yet dare not boldly lie:
Now, what I love in women is, they won't
Or can't do otherwise than lie, but do it
So well, the very truth seems falsehood to it.XXXVII


And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy
Historians, heroes, lawyers, priests, to put
A fact without some leaven of a lie.
The very shadow of true Truth would shut
Up annals, revelations, poesy,
And prophecy--except it should be dated
Some years before the incidents related.XXXVIII


Prais'd be all liars and all lies! Who now
Can tax my mild Muse with misanthropy?
She rings the World's "Te Deum," and her brow
Blushes for those who will not: but to sigh
Is idle; let us like most others bow,
Kiss hands, feet, any part of Majesty,
After the good example of "Green Erin,"
Whose shamrock now seems rather worse for wearing.XXXIX


Don Juan was presented, and his dress
And mien excited general admiration;
I don't know which was more admir'd or less:
One monstrous diamond drew much observation,
Which Catherine in a moment of "ivresse"
(In love or brandy's fervent fermentation)
Bestow'd upon him, as the public learn'd;
And, to say truth, it had been fairly earn'd.XL


Besides the ministers and underlings,
Who must be courteous to the accredited
Diplomatists of rather wavering kings,
Until their royal riddle's fully read,
The very clerks--those somewhat dirty springs
Of Office, or the House of Office, fed
By foul corruption into streams--even they
Were hardly rude enough to earn their pay.XLI


And insolence no doubt is what they are
Employ'd for, since it is their daily labour,
In the dear offices of peace or war;
And should you doubt, pray ask of your next neighbour,
When for a passport, or some other bar
To freedom, he applied (a grief and a bore),
If he found not this spawn of tax-born riches,
Like lap-dogs, the least civil sons of b{-}{-}{-}{-}{-}s.XLII


But Juan was receiv'd with much "empressement" --
These phrases of refinement I must borrow
From our next neighbours' land, where, like a chessman,
There is a move set down for joy or sorrow,
Not only in mere talking, but the press. Man
In islands is, it seems, downright and thorough,
More than on continents--as if the sea
(See Billingsgate) made even the tongue more free.XLIII


And yet the British "Damme" 's rather Attic,
Your continental oaths are but incontinent,
And turn on things which no aristocratic
Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent
This subject quote; as it would be schismatic
In politesse, and have a sound affronting in 't;
But "Damme" 's quite ethereal, though too daring--
Platonic blasphemy, the soul of swearing.XLIV


For downright rudeness, ye may stay at home;
For true or false politeness (and scarce that
Now) you may cross the blue deep and white foam:
The first the emblem (rarely though) of what
You leave behind, the next of much you come
To meet. However, 'tis no time to chat
On general topics: poems must confine
Themselves to Unity, like this of mine.XLV


In the great world--which, being interpreted,
Meaneth the West or worst end of a city,
And about twice two thousand people bred
By no means to be very wise or witty,
But to sit up while others lie in bed,
And look down on the Universe with pity--
Juan, as an inveterate patrician,
Was well receiv'd by persons of condition.XLVI


He was a bachelor, which is a matter
Of import both to virgin and to bride,
The former's hymeneal hopes to flatter;
And (should she not hold fast by love or pride)
'Tis also of some momemt to the latter:
A rib's a thorn in a wed gallant's side,
Requires decorum, and is apt to double
The horrid sin--and what's still worse the trouble.XLVII


But Juan was a bachelor--of arts,
And parts, and hearts: he danc'd and sung, and had
An air as sentimental as Mozart's
Softest of melodies; and could be sad
Or cheerful, without any "flaws or starts,"
Just at the proper time; and though a lad,
Had seen the world--which is a curious sight,
And very much unlike what people write.XLVIII


Fair virgins blush'd upon him; wedded dames
Bloom'd also in less transitory hues;
For both commodities dwell by the Thames
The painting and the painted; Youth, Ceruse,
Against his heart preferr'd their usual claims,
Such as no gentleman can quite refuse;
Daughters admir'd his dress, and pious mothers
Inquir'd his income, and if he had brothers.XLIX


The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses"
Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the Honeymoon's last kisses
Have wan'd into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlook'd--and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sigh'd, and paid it.L


The Blues, that tender tribe, who sigh o'er sonnets,
And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
Advanc'd in all their azure's highest hue:
They talk'd bad French or Spanish, and upon its
Late authors ask'd him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?LI


Juan, who was a little superficial,
And not in literature a great Drawcansir,
Examin'd by this learned and especial
Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.LII


However, he replied at hazard, with
A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learned lucubrations pith,
And pass'd for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
(Who at sixteen translated "Hercules Furens"
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.LIII


Juan knew several languages--as well
He might--and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplish'd belle,
Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss M{ae}via Mannish,
Both long'd extremely to be sung in Spanish.LIV


However, he did pretty well, and was
Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty "greatest living poets,"
As every paltry magazine can show it's .LV


In twice five years the "greatest living poet,"
Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 'tis an imaginary thing,
Even I--albeit I'm sure I did not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king--
Was reckon'd, a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.LVI


But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
My Leipsic, and my Mont Saint Jean seem Cain:
"La Belle Alliance" of dunces down at zero,
Now that the Lion's fall'n, may rise again,
But I will fall at least as fell my hero;
Nor reign at all, or as a monarch reign;
Or to some lonely isle of jailors go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.LVII


Sir Walter reign'd before me; Moore and Campbell
Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus has a psalmodic amble
Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol--"by the hilts!"LVIII


Still he excels that artificial hard
Labourer in the same vineyard, though the vine
Yields him but vinegar for his reward--
That neutralis'd dull Dorus of the Nine;
That swarthy Sporus, neither man nor bard;
That ox of verse, who ploughs for every line:
Cambyses' roaring Romans beat at least
The howling Hebrews of Cybele's priest.LIX


Then there's my gentle Euphues, who, they say,
Sets up for being a sort of moral me ;
He'll find it rather difficult some day
To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouth'd Bœotian "Savage Landor"
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.LX


John Keats, who was kill'd off by one critique,
Just as he really promis'd something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contriv'd to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been suppos'd to speak.
Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.LXI


The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
To that which none will gain--or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances; they're too numerous, like the thirty
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals wax'd but dirty.LXII


This is the literary lower empire,
Where the pr{ae}torian bands take up the matter;
A "dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"
The insolent soldiery to soothe and flatter,
With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire,
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them what an intellectual war is.LXIII


I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks; but it is hardly worth my while,
With such small gear to give myself concern:
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy,
And glides away, assur'd she never hurts ye.LXIV


My Juan, whom I left in deadly peril
Amongst live poets and blue ladies, pass'd
With some small profit through that field so sterile,
Being tir'd in time, and, neither least nor last,
Left it before he had been treated very ill;
And henceforth found himself more gaily class'd
Amongst the higher spirits of the day,
The sun's true son, no vapour, but a ray.LXV


His morns he pass'd in business--which dissected,
Was, like all business, a laborious nothing
That leads to lassitude, the most infected
And Centaur-Nessus garb of mortal clothing,
And on our sofas makes us lie dejected,
And talk in tender horrors of our loathing
All kinds of toil, save for our country's good--
Which grows no better, though 'tis time it should.LXVI


His afternoons he pass'd in visits, luncheons,
Lounging and boxing; and the twilight hour
In riding round those vegetable puncheons
Call'd "Parks," where there is neither fruit nor flower
Enough to gratify a bee's slight munchings;
But after all it is the only "bower"
(In Moore's phrase) where the fashionable fair
Can form a slight acquaintance with fresh air.LXVII


Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world!
Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar
Through street and square fast flashing chariots hurl'd
Like harness'd meteors; then along the floor
Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirl'd;
Then roll the brazen thunders of the door,
Which opens to the thousand happy few
An earthly Paradise of "Or Molu."LXVIII


There stands the noble hostess, nor shall sink
With the three-thousandth curtsy; there the waltz,
The only dance which teaches girls to think,
Makes one in love even with its very faults.
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond their brink,
And long the latest of arrivals halts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemn'd to climb,
And gain an inch of staircase at a time.LXIX


Thrice happy he who, after a survey
Of the good company, can win a corner,
A door that's in or boudoir out of the way,
Where he may fix himself like small "Jack Horner,"
And let the Babel round run as it may,
And look on as a mourner, or a scorner,
Or an approver, or a mere spectator,
Yawning a little as the night grows later.LXX


But this won't do, save by and by; and he
Who, like Don Juan, takes an active share
Must steer with care through all that glittering sea
Of gems and plumes and pearls and silks, to where
He deems it is his proper place to be;
Dissolving in the waltz to some soft air,
Or proudlier prancing with mercurial skill,
Where Science marshals forth her own quadrille.LXXI


Or, if he dance not, but hath higher views
Upon an heiress or his neighbour's bride,
Let him take care that that which he pursues
Is not at once too palpably descried.
Full many an eager gentleman oft rues
His haste; impatience is a blundering guide
Amongst a people famous for reflection,
Who like to play the fool with circumspection.LXXII


But, if you can contrive, get next at supper;
Or, if forestalled, get opposite and ogle:
Oh, ye ambrosial moments! always upper
In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle,
Which sits for ever upon Memory's crupper,
The ghost of vanish'd pleasures once in vogue! Ill
Can tender souls relate the rise and fall
Of hopes and fears which shake a single ball.LXXIII


But these precautionary hints can touch
Only the common run, who must pursue,
And watch and ward; whose plans a word too much
Or little overturns; and not the few
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Whom a good mien, especially if new,
Or fame, or name, for wit, war, sense or nonsense,
Permits whate'er they please, or did not long since.LXXIV


Our hero, as a hero young and handsome,
Noble, rich, celebrated, and a stranger,
Like other slaves of course must pay his ransom
Before he can escape from so much danger
As will environ a conspicuous man. Some
Talk about poetry, and "rack and manger,"
And ugliness, disease, as toil and trouble--
I wish they knew the life of a young noble.LXXV


They are young, but know not youth--it is anticipated;
Handsome but wasted, rich without a sou;
Their vigour in a thousand arms is dissipated;
Their cash comes from , their wealth goes to a Jew;
Both senates see their nightly votes participated
Between the tyrant's and the tribunes' crew;
And having voted, din'd, drunk, gam'd and whor'd,
The family vault receives another lord.LXXVI


"Where is the World," cries Young, "at eighty ? Where
The World in which a man was born?" Alas!
Where is the world of eight years past? 'Twas there --
I look for it--'tis gone, a Globe of Glass!
Crack'd, shiver'd, vanish'd, scarcely gaz'd on, ere
A silent change dissolves the glittering mass.
Statesmen, chiefs, orators, queens, patriots, kings,
And dandies--all are gone on the wind's wings.LXXVII


Where is Napoleon the Grand? God knows:
Where little Castlereagh? The devil can tell:
Where Grattan, Curran, Sheridan, all those
Who bound the Bar or Senate in their spell?
Where is the unhappy Queen, with all her woes?
And where the Daughter, whom the Isles lov'd well?
Where are those martyr'd saints the Five per Cents?
And where--oh, where the devil are the Rents?LXXVIII


Where's Brummell? Dish'd. Where's Long Pole Wellesley? Diddled.
Where's Whitbread? Romilly? Where's George the Third?
Where is his will? (That's not so soon unriddled.)
And where is "Fum" the Fourth, our "royal bird"?
Gone down, it seems, to Scotland to be fiddled
Unto by Sawney's violin, we have heard:
"Caw me, caw thee"--for six months hath been hatching
This scene of royal itch and loyal scratching.LXXIX


Where is Lord This? And where my Lady That?
The Honourable Mistresses and Misses?
Some laid aside like an old Opera hat,
Married, unmarried, and remarried (this is
An evolution oft perform'd of late).
Where are the Dublin shouts--and London hisses?
Where are the Grenvilles? Turn'd as usual. Where
My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were.LXXX


Where are the Lady Carolines and Franceses?
Divorc'd or doing thereanent. Ye annals
So brilliant, where the list of routs and dances is,
Thou Morning Post, sole record of the panels
Broken in carriages, and all the phantasies
Of fashion, say what streams now fill those channels?
Some die, some fly, some languish on the Continent,
Because the times have hardly left them one tenant.LXXXI


Some who once set their caps at cautious dukes,
Have taken up at length with younger brothers:
Some heiresses have bit at sharpers' hooks:
Some maids have been made wives, some merely mothers:
Others have lost their fresh and fairy looks:
In short, the list of alterations bothers.
There's little strange in this, but something strange is
The unusual quickness of these common changes.LXXXII


Talk not of seventy years as age! in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
The humblest individuals under heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through.
I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new:
Nought's permanent among the human race,
Except the Whigs not getting into place.LXXXIII


I have seen Napoleon, who seem'd quite a Jupiter,
Shrink to a Saturn. I have seen a Duke
(No matter which) turn politician stupider,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my "blue Peter,"
And sail for a new theme: I have seen--and shook
To see it--the King hiss'd, and then caress'd;
But don't pretend to settle which was best.LXXXIV


I have seen the Landholders without a rap--
I have seen Joanna Southcote--I have seen
The House of Commons turn'd to a taxtrap--
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen--
I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap--
I have seen a Congress doing all that's mean--
I have seen some nations, like o'erloaded asses,
Kick off their burthens--meaning the high classes.LXXXV


I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
Interminable-- not eternal --speakers--
I have seen the funds at war with house and land--
I have seen the country gentlemen turn squeakers--
I have seen the people ridden o'er like sand
By slaves on horseback--I have seen malt liquors
Exchang'd for "thin potations" by John Bull--
I have seen John half detect himself a fool.LXXXVI


But "carpe diem," Juan, "carpe, carpe!"
To-morrow sees another race as gay
And transient, and devour'd by the same harpy.
"Life's a poor player"--then "play out the play,
Ye villains!" and above all keep a sharp eye
Much less on what you do than what you say:
Be hypocritical, be cautious, be
Not what you seem , but always what you see .LXXXVII


But how shall I relate in other cantos
Of what befell our hero in the land,
Which 'tis the common cry and lie to vaunt as
A moral country? But I hold my hand--
For I disdain to write an Atalantis;
But 'tis as well at once to understand,
You are not a moral people, and you know it,
Without the aid of too sincere a poet.LXXXVIII


What Juan saw and underwent shall be
My topic, with of course the due restriction
Which is requir'd by proper courtesy;
And recollect the work is only fiction,
And that I sing of neither mine nor me,
Though every scribe, in some slight turn of diction,
Will hint allusions never meant . Ne'er doubt
This --when I speak, I don't hint , but speak out .LXXXIX


Whether he married with the third or fourth
Offspring of some sage husband-hunting countess,
Or whether with some virgin of more worth
(I mean in Fortune's matrimonial bounties),
He took to regularly peopling Earth,
Of which your lawful, awful wedlock fount is--
Or whether he was taken in for damages,
For being too excursive in his homages--XC


Is yet within the unread events of time.
Thus far, go forth, thou Lay, which I will back
Against the same given quantity of rhyme,
For being as much the subject of attack
As ever yet was any work sublime,
By those who love to say that white is black.
So much the better!--I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.

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Wind-Clouds And Star-Drifts

FROM THE YOUNG ASTRONOMER'S POEM

I.

AMBITION

ANOTHER clouded night; the stars are hid,
The orb that waits my search is hid with them.
Patience! Why grudge an hour, a month, a year,
To plant my ladder and to gain the round
That leads my footsteps to the heaven of fame,
Where waits the wreath my sleepless midnights won?
Not the stained laurel such as heroes wear
That withers when some stronger conqueror's heel
Treads down their shrivelling trophies in the dust;
But the fair garland whose undying green
Not time can change, nor wrath of gods or men!

With quickened heart-beats I shall hear tongues
That speak my praise; but better far the sense
That in the unshaped ages, buried deep
In the dark mines of unaccomplished time
Yet to be stamped with morning's royal die
And coined in golden days,--in those dim years
I shall be reckoned with the undying dead,
My name emblazoned on the fiery arch,
Unfading till the stars themselves shall fade.
Then, as they call the roll of shining worlds,
Sages of race unborn in accents new
Shall count me with the Olympian ones of old,
Whose glories kindle through the midnight sky
Here glows the God of Battles; this recalls
The Lord of Ocean, and yon far-off sphere
The Sire of Him who gave his ancient name
To the dim planet with the wondrous rings;
Here flames the Queen of Beauty's silver lamp,
And there the moon-girt orb of mighty Jove;
But this, unseen through all earth's ions past,
A youth who watched beneath the western star
Sought in the darkness, found, and shewed to men;
Linked with his name thenceforth and evermore
So shall that name be syllabled anew
In all the tongues of all the tribes of men:
I that have been through immemorial years
Dust in the dust of my forgotten time
Shall live in accents shaped of blood-warm breath,
Yea, rise in mortal semblance, newly born
In shining stone, in undecaying bronze,
And stand on high, and look serenely down
On the new race that calls the earth its own.

Is this a cloud, that, blown athwart my soul,
Wears a false seeming of the pearly stain
Where worlds beyond the world their mingling rays
Blend in soft white,--a cloud that, born of earth,
Would cheat the soul that looks for light from heaven?
Must every coral-insect leave his sign
On each poor grain he lent to build the reef,
As Babel's builders stamped their sunburnt clay,
Or deem his patient service all in vain?
What if another sit beneath the shade
Of the broad elm I planted by the way,--
What if another heed the beacon light
I set upon the rock that wrecked my keel,--
Have I not done my task and served my kind?
Nay, rather act thy part, unnamed, unknown,
And let Fame blow her trumpet through the world
With noisy wind to swell a fool's renown,
Joined with some truth he stumbled blindly o'er,
Or coupled with some single shining deed
That in the great account of all his days
Will stand alone upon the bankrupt sheet
His pitying angel shows the clerk of Heaven.
The noblest service comes from nameless hands,
And the best servant does his work unseen.
Who found the seeds of fire and made them shoot,
Fed by his breath, in buds and flowers of flame?
Who forged in roaring flames the ponderous stone,
And shaped the moulded metal to his need?
Who gave the dragging car its rolling wheel,
And tamed the steed that whirls its circling round?
All these have left their work and not their names,--
Why should I murmur at a fate like theirs?
This is the heavenly light; the pearly stain
Was but a wind-cloud drifting o'er the stars!

II.

REGRETS

BRIEF glimpses of the bright celestial spheres,
False lights, false shadows, vague, uncertain gleams,
Pale vaporous mists, wan streaks of lurid flame,
The climbing of the upward-sailing cloud,
The sinking of the downward-falling star,--
All these are pictures of the changing moods
Borne through the midnight stillness of my soul.

Here am I, bound upon this pillared rock,
Prey to the vulture of a vast desire
That feeds upon my life. I burst my bands
And steal a moment's freedom from the beak,
The clinging talons and the shadowing plumes;
Then comes the false enchantress, with her song;

'Thou wouldst not lay thy forehead in the dust
Like the base herd that feeds and breeds and dies
Lo, the fair garlands that I weave for thee,
Unchanging as the belt Orion wears,
Bright as the jewels of the seven-starred Crown,
The spangled stream of Berenice's hair!'
And so she twines the fetters with the flowers
Around my yielding limbs, and the fierce bird
Stoops to his quarry,--then to feed his rage
Of ravening hunger I must drain my blood
And let the dew-drenched, poison-breeding night
Steal all the freshness from my fading cheek,
And leave its shadows round my caverned eyes.
All for a line in some unheeded scroll;
All for a stone that tells to gaping clowns,
'Here lies a restless wretch beneath a clod
Where squats the jealous nightmare men call
Fame!'

I marvel not at him who scorns his kind
And thinks not sadly of the time foretold
When the old hulk we tread shall be a wreck,
A slag, a cinder drifting through the sky
Without its crew of fools! We live too long,
And even so are not content to die,
But load the mould that covers up our bones
With stones that stand like beggars by the road
And show death's grievous wound and ask for tears;
Write our great books to teach men who we are,
Sing our fine songs that tell in artful phrase
The secrets of our lives, and plead and pray
For alms of memory with the after time,
Those few swift seasons while the earth shall wear
Its leafy summers, ere its core grows cold
And the moist life of all that breathes shall die;
Or as the new-born seer, perchance more wise,
Would have us deem, before its growing mass,
Pelted with star-dust, stoned with meteor-balls,
Heats like a hammered anvil, till at last
Man and his works and all that stirred itself
Of its own motion, in the fiery glow
Turns to a flaming vapor, and our orb
Shines a new sun for earths that shall be born.

I am as old as Egypt to myself,
Brother to them that squared the pyramids
By the same stars I watch. I read the page
Where every letter is a glittering world,
With them who looked from Shinar's clay-built towers,
Ere yet the wanderer of the Midland sea
Had missed the fallen sister of the seven.
I dwell in spaces vague, remote, unknown,
Save to the silent few, who, leaving earth,
Quit all communion with their living time.
I lose myself in that ethereal void,
Till I have tired my wings and long to fill
My breast with denser air, to stand, to walk
With eyes not raised above my fellow-men.
Sick of my unwalled, solitary realm,
I ask to change the myriad lifeless worlds
I visit as mine own for one poor patch
Of this dull spheroid and a little breath
To shape in word or deed to serve my kind.
Was ever giant's dungeon dug so deep,
Was ever tyrant's fetter forged so strong,
Was e'er such deadly poison in the draught
The false wife mingles for the trusting fool,
As he whose willing victim is himself,
Digs, forges, mingles, for his captive soul?

III.

SYMPATHIES

THE snows that glittered on the disk of Mars
Have melted, and the planet's fiery orb
Rolls in the crimson summer of its year;
But what to me the summer or the snow
Of worlds that throb with life in forms unknown,
If life indeed be theirs; I heed not these.
My heart is simply human; all my care
For them whose dust is fashioned like mine own;
These ache with cold and hunger, live in pain,
And shake with fear of worlds more full of woe;
There may be others worthier of my love,
But such I know not save through these I know.

There are two veils of language, hid beneath
Whose sheltering folds, we dare to be ourselves;
And not that other self which nods and smiles
And babbles in our name; the one is Prayer,
Lending its licensed freedom to the tongue
That tells our sorrows and our sins to Heaven;
The other, Verse, that throws its spangled web
Around our naked speech and makes it bold.
I, whose best prayer is silence; sitting dumb
In the great temple where I nightly serve
Him who is throned in light, have dared to claim
The poet's franchise, though I may not hope
To wear his garland; hear me while I tell
My story in such form as poets use,
But breathed in fitful whispers, as the wind
Sighs and then slumbers, wakes and sighs again.

Thou Vision, floating in the breathless air
Between me and the fairest of the stars,
I tell my lonely thoughts as unto thee.
Look not for marvels of the scholar's pen
In my rude measure; I can only show
A slender-margined, unillumined page,
And trust its meaning to the flattering eye
That reads it in the gracious light of love.
Ah, wouldst thou clothe thyself in breathing shape
And nestle at my side, my voice should lend
Whate'er my verse may lack of tender rhythm
To make thee listen.

I have stood entranced
When, with her fingers wandering o'er the keys,
The white enchantress with the golden hair
Breathed all her soul through some unvalued rhyme;
Some flower of song that long had lost its bloom;
Lo! its dead summer kindled as she sang!
The sweet contralto, like the ringdove's coo,
Thrilled it with brooding, fond, caressing tones,
And the pale minstrel's passion lived again,
Tearful and trembling as a dewy rose
The wind has shaken till it fills the air
With light and fragrance. Such the wondrous charm
A song can borrow when the bosom throbs
That lends it breath.

So from the poet's lips
His verse sounds doubly sweet, for none like him
Feels every cadence of its wave-like flow;
He lives the passion over, while he reads,
That shook him as he sang his lofty strain,
And pours his life through each resounding line,
As ocean, when the stormy winds are hushed,
Still rolls and thunders through his billowy caves.


IV.

MASTER AND SCHOLAR

LET me retrace the record of the years
That made me what I am. A man most wise,
But overworn with toil and bent with age,
Sought me to be his scholar,-me, run wild
From books and teachers,-kindled in my soul
The love of knowledge; led me to his tower,
Showed me the wonders of the midnight realm
His hollow sceptre ruled, or seemed to rule,
Taught me the mighty secrets of the spheres,
Trained me to find the glimmering specks of light
Beyond the unaided sense, and on my chart
To string them one by one, in order due,
As on a rosary a saint his beads.
I was his only scholar; I became
The echo to his thought; whate'er he knew
Was mine for asking; so from year to year
W e wrought together, till there came a time
When I, the learner, was the master half
Of the twinned being in the dome-crowned tower.

Minds roll in paths like planets; they revolve,
This in a larger, that a narrower ring,
But round they come at last to that same phase,
That selfsame light and shade they showed before.
I learned his annual and his monthly tale,
His weekly axiom and his daily phrase,
I felt them coming in the laden air,
And watched them laboring up to vocal breath,
Even as the first-born at his father's board
Knows ere he speaks the too familiar jest
Is on its way, by some mysterious sign
Forewarned, the click before the striking bell.

He shrivelled as I spread my growing leaves,
Till trust and reverence changed to pitying care;
He lived for me in what he once had been,
But I for him, a shadow, a defence,
The guardian of his fame, his guide, his staff,
Leaned on so long he fell if left alone.
I was his eye, his ear, his cunning hand,
Love was my spur and longing after fame,
But his the goading thorn of sleepless age
That sees its shortening span, its lengthening shades,
That clutches what it may with eager grasp,
And drops at last with empty, outstretched hands.
All this he dreamed not. He would sit him down
Thinking to work his problems as of old,
And find the star he thought so plain a blur,
The columned figures labyrinthine wilds
Without my comment, blind and senseless scrawls
That vexed him with their riddles; he would strive
And struggle for a while, and then his eye
Would lose its light, and over all his mind
The cold gray mist would settle; and erelong
The darkness fell, and I was left alone.


V.

ALONE

ALONE! no climber of an Alpine cliff,
No Arctic venturer on the waveless sea,
Feels the dread stillness round him as it chills
The heart of him who leaves the slumbering earth
To watch the silent worlds that crowd the sky.
Alone! And as the shepherd leaves his flock
To feed upon the hillside, he meanwhile
Finds converse in the warblings of the pipe
Himself has fashioned for his vacant hour,
So have I grown companion to myself,
And to the wandering spirits of the air
That smile and whisper round us in our dreams.
Thus have I learned to search if I may know
The whence and why of all beneath the stars
And all beyond them, and to weigh my life
As in a balance,--poising good and ill
Against each other,--asking of the Power
That flung me forth among the whirling worlds,
If I am heir to any inborn right,
Or only as an atom of the dust
That every wind may blow where'er it will.


VI.

QUESTIONING

I AM not humble; I was shown my place,
Clad in such robes as Nature had at hand;
Took what she gave, not chose; I know no shame,
No fear for being simply what I am.
I am not proud, I hold my every breath
At Nature's mercy. I am as a babe
Borne in a giant's arms, he knows not where;
Each several heart-beat, counted like the coin
A miser reckons, is a special gift
As from an unseen hand; if that withhold
Its bounty for a moment, I am left
A clod upon the earth to which I fall.

Something I find in me that well might claim
The love of beings in a sphere above
This doubtful twilight world of right and wrong;
Something that shows me of the self-same clay
That creeps or swims or flies in humblest form.
Had I been asked, before I left my bed
Of shapeless dust, what clothing I would wear,
I would have said, More angel and less worm;
But for their sake who are even such as I,
Of the same mingled blood, I would not choose
To hate that meaner portion of myself
Which makes me brother to the least of men.

I dare not be a coward with my lips
Who dare to question all things in my soul;
Some men may find their wisdom on their knees,
Some prone and grovelling in the dust like slaves;
Let the meek glowworm glisten in the dew;
I ask to lift my taper to the sky
As they who hold their lamps above their heads,
Trusting the larger currents up aloft,
Rather than crossing eddies round their breast,
Threatening with every puff the flickering blaze.

My life shall be a challenge, not a truce!
This is my homage to the mightier powers,
To ask my boldest question, undismayed
By muttered threats that some hysteric sense
Of wrong or insult will convulse the throne
Where wisdom reigns supreme; and if I err,
They all must err who have to feel their way
As bats that fly at noon; for what are we
But creatures of the night, dragged forth by day,
Who needs must stumble, and with stammering steps
Spell out their paths in syllables of pain?

Thou wilt not hold in scorn the child who dares
Look up to Thee, the Father,--dares to ask
More than thy wisdom answers. From thy hand
The worlds were cast; yet every leaflet claims
From that same hand its little shining sphere
Of star-lit dew; thine image, the great sun,
Girt with his mantle of tempestuous flame,
Glares in mid-heaven; but to his noon-tide blaze
The slender violet lifts its lidless eye,
And from his splendor steals its fairest hue,
Its sweetest perfume from his scorching fire.


VII.

WORSHIP

FROM my lone turret as I look around
O'er the green meadows to the ring of blue,
From slope, from summit, and from half-hid vale
The sky is stabbed with dagger-pointed spires,
Their gilded symbols whirling in the wind,
Their brazen tongues proclaiming to the world,
'Here truth is sold, the only genuine ware;
See that it has our trade-mark! You will buy
Poison instead of food across the way,
The lies of -----' this or that, each several name
The standard's blazon and the battle-cry
Of some true-gospel faction, and again
The token of the Beast to all beside.
And grouped round each I see a huddling crowd
Alike in all things save the words they use;
In love, in longing, hate and fear the same.

Whom do we trust and serve? We speak of one
And bow to many; Athens still would find
The shrines of all she worshipped safe within
Our tall barbarian temples, and the thrones
That crowned Olympus mighty as of old.
The god of music rules the Sabbath choir;
The lyric muse must leave the sacred nine
To help us please the dilettante's ear;
Plutus limps homeward with us, as we leave
The portals of the temple where we knelt
And listened while the god of eloquence
(Hermes of ancient days, but now disguised
In sable vestments) with that other god
Somnus, the son of Erebus and Nox,
Fights in unequal contest for our souls;
The dreadful sovereign of the under world
Still shakes his sceptre at us, and we hear
The baying of the triple-throated hound;
Eros is young as ever, and as fair
The lovely Goddess born of ocean's foam.

These be thy gods, O Israel! Who is he,
The one ye name and tell us that ye serve,
Whom ye would call me from my lonely tower
To worship with the many-headed throng?
Is it the God that walked in Eden's grove
In the cool hour to seek our guilty sire?
The God who dealt with Abraham as the sons
Of that old patriarch deal with other men?
The jealous God of Moses, one who feels
An image as an insult, and is wroth
With him who made it and his child unborn?
The God who plagued his people for the sin
Of their adulterous king, beloved of him,--
The same who offers to a chosen few
The right to praise him in eternal song
While a vast shrieking world of endless woe
Blends its dread chorus with their rapturous hymn?
Is this the God ye mean, or is it he
Who heeds the sparrow's fall, whose loving heart
Is as the pitying father's to his child,
Whose lesson to his children is 'Forgive,'
Whose plea for all, 'They know not what they do'?


VIII.

MANHOOD

I CLAIM the right of knowing whom I serve,
Else is my service idle; He that asks
My homage asks it from a reasoning soul.
To crawl is not to worship; we have learned
A drill of eyelids, bended neck and knee,
Hanging our prayers on hinges, till we ape
The flexures of the many-jointed worm.
Asia has taught her Allahs and salaams
To the world's children,-we have grown to men!
We who have rolled the sphere beneath our feet
To find a virgin forest, as we lay
The beams of our rude temple, first of all
Must frame its doorway high enough for man
To pass unstooping; knowing as we do
That He who shaped us last of living forms
Has long enough been served by creeping things,
Reptiles that left their footprints in the sand
Of old sea-margins that have turned to stone,
And men who learned their ritual; we demand
To know Him first, then trust Him and then love
When we have found Him worthy of our love,
Tried by our own poor hearts and not before;
He must be truer than the truest friend,
He must be tenderer than a woman's love,
A father better than the best of sires;
Kinder than she who bore us, though we sin
Oftener than did the brother we are told
We--poor ill-tempered mortals--must forgive,
Though seven times sinning threescore times and
ten.

This is the new world's gospel: Be ye men!
Try well the legends of the children's time;
Ye are the chosen people, God has led
Your steps across the desert of the deep
As now across the desert of the shore;
Mountains are cleft before you as the sea
Before the wandering tribe of Israel's sons;
Still onward rolls the thunderous caravan,
Its coming printed on the western sky,
A cloud by day, by night a pillared flame;
Your prophets are a hundred unto one
Of them of old who cried, 'Thus saith the Lord;'
They told of cities that should fall in heaps,
But yours of mightier cities that shall rise
Where yet the lonely fishers spread their nets,
Where hides the fox and hoots the midnight owl;
The tree of knowledge in your garden grows
Not single, but at every humble door;
Its branches lend you their immortal food,
That fills you with the sense of what ye are,
No servants of an altar hewed and carved
From senseless stone by craft of human hands,
Rabbi, or dervish, brahmin, bishop, bonze,
But masters of the charm with which they work
To keep your hands from that forbidden tree!

Ye that have tasted that divinest fruit,
Look on this world of yours with opened eyes!
Y e are as gods! Nay, makers of your gods,--
Each day ye break an image in your shrine
And plant a fairer image where it stood
Where is the Moloch of your fathers' creed,
Whose fires of torment burned for span--long babes?
Fit object for a tender mother's love!
Why not? It was a bargain duly made
For these same infants through the surety's act
Intrusted with their all for earth and heaven,
By Him who chose their guardian, knowing well
His fitness for the task,--this, even this,
Was the true doctrine only yesterday
As thoughts are reckoned,--and to--day you hear
In words that sound as if from human tongues
Those monstrous, uncouth horrors of the past
That blot the blue of heaven and shame the earth
As would the saurians of the age of slime,
Awaking from their stony sepulchres
And wallowing hateful in the eye of day!


IX.

RIGHTS

WHAT am I but the creature Thou hast made?
What have I save the blessings Thou hast lent?
What hope I but thy mercy and thy love?
Who but myself shall cloud my soul with fear?
Whose hand protect me from myself but thine?
I claim the rights of weakness, I, the babe,
Call on my sire to shield me from the ills
That still beset my path, not trying me
With snares beyond my wisdom or my strength,
He knowing I shall use them to my harm,
And find a tenfold misery in the sense
That in my childlike folly I have sprung
The trap upon myself as vermin use,
Drawn by the cunning bait to certain doom.
Who wrought the wondrous charm that leads us on
To sweet perdition, but the selfsame power
That set the fearful engine to destroy
His wretched offspring (as the Rabbis tell),
And hid its yawning jaws and treacherous springs
In such a show of innocent sweet flowers
It lured the sinless angels and they fell?
Ah! He who prayed the prayer of all mankind
Summed in those few brief words the mightiest plea
For erring souls before the courts of heaven,--
_Save us from being tempted_,--lest we fall!

If we are only as the potter's clay
Made to be fashioned as the artist wills,
And broken into shards if we offend
The eye of Him who made us, it is well;
Such love as the insensate lump of clay
That spins upon the swift-revolving wheel
Bears to the hand that shapes its growing form,--
Such love, no more, will be our hearts' return
To the great Master-workman for his care,--
Or would be, save that this, our breathing clay,
Is intertwined with fine innumerous threads
That make it conscious in its framer's hand;
And this He must remember who has filled
These vessels with the deadly draught of life,--
Life, that means death to all it claims. Our love
Must kindle in the ray that streams from heaven,
A faint reflection of the light divine;
The sun must warm the earth before the rose
Can show her inmost heart-leaves to the sun.

He yields some fraction of the Maker's right
Who gives the quivering nerve its sense of pain;
Is there not something in the pleading eye
Of the poor brute that suffers, which arraigns
The law that bids it suffer? Has it not
A claim for some remembrance in the book
That fills its pages with the idle words
Spoken of men? Or is it only clay,
Bleeding and aching in the potter's hand,
Yet all his own to treat it as He will
And when He will to cast it at his feet,
Shattered, dishonored, lost forevermore?
My dog loves me, but could he look beyond
His earthly master, would his love extend
To Him who--Hush! I will not doubt that He
Is better than our fears, and will not wrong
The least, the meanest of created things!

He would not trust me with the smallest orb
That circles through the sky; He would not give
A meteor to my guidance; would not leave
The coloring of a cloudlet to my hand;
He locks my beating heart beneath its bars
And keeps the key himself; He measures out
The draughts of vital breath that warm my blood,
Winds up the springs of instinct which uncoil,
Each in its season; ties me to my home,
My race, my time, my nation, and my creed
So closely that if I but slip my wrist
Out of the band that cuts it to the bone,
Men say, 'He hath a devil;' He has lent
All that I hold in trust, as unto one
By reason of his weakness and his years
Not fit to hold the smallest shred in fee
Of those most common things he calls his own,--
And yet--my Rabbi tells me--He has left
The care of that to which a million worlds
Filled with unconscious life were less than naught,
Has left that mighty universe, the Soul,
To the weak guidance of our baby hands,
Let the foul fiends have access at their will,
Taking the shape of angels, to our hearts,--
Our hearts already poisoned through and through
With the fierce virus of ancestral sin;
Turned us adrift with our immortal charge,
To wreck ourselves in gulfs of endless woe.

If what my Rabbi tells me is the truth
Why did the choir of angels sing for joy?
Heaven must be compassed in a narrow space,
And offer more than room enough for all
That pass its portals; but the under-world,
The godless realm, the place where demons forge
Their fiery darts and adamantine chains,
Must swarm with ghosts that for a little while
Had worn the garb of flesh, and being heirs
Of all the dulness of their stolid sires,
And all the erring instincts of their tribe,
Nature's own teaching, rudiments of 'sin,'
Fell headlong in the snare that could not fail
To trap the wretched creatures shaped of clay
And cursed with sense enough to lose their souls!

Brother, thy heart is troubled at my word;
Sister, I see the cloud is on thy brow.
He will not blame me, He who sends not peace,
But sends a sword, and bids us strike amain
At Error's gilded crest, where in the van
Of earth's great army, mingling with the best
And bravest of its leaders, shouting loud
The battle-cries that yesterday have led
The host of Truth to victory, but to-day
Are watchwords of the laggard and the slave,
He leads his dazzled cohorts. God has made
This world a strife of atoms and of spheres;
With every breath I sigh myself away
And take my tribute from the wandering wind
To fan the flame of life's consuming fire;
So, while my thought has life, it needs must burn,
And, burning, set the stubble-fields ablaze,
Where all the harvest long ago was reaped
And safely garnered in the ancient barns.
But still the gleaners, groping for their food,
Go blindly feeling through the close-shorn straw,
While the young reapers flash, their glittering steel
Where later suns have ripened nobler grain!


X.

TRUTHS

THE time is racked with birth-pangs; every hour
Brings forth some gasping truth, and truth newborn
Looks a misshapen and untimely growth,
The terror of the household and its shame,
A monster coiling in its nurse's lap
That some would strangle, some would only starve;
But still it breathes, and passed from hand to hand,
And suckled at a hundred half-clad breasts,
Comes slowly to its stature and its form,
Calms the rough ridges of its dragon-scales,
Changes to shining locks its snaky hair,
And moves transfigured into angel guise,
Welcomed by all that cursed its hour of birth,
And folded in the same encircling arms
That cast it like a serpent from their hold!

If thou wouldst live in honor, die in peace,
Have the fine words the marble-workers learn
To carve so well, upon thy funeral-stone,
And earn a fair obituary, dressed
In all the many-colored robes of praise,
Be deafer than the adder to the cry
Of that same foundling truth, until it grows
To seemly favor, and at length has won
The smiles of hard-mouthed men and light-lipped dames;
Then snatch it from its meagre nurse's breast,
Fold it in silk and give it food from gold;
So shalt thou share its glory when at last
It drops its mortal vesture, and, revealed
In all the splendor of its heavenly form,
Spreads on the startled air its mighty wings!

Alas! how much that seemed immortal truth
That heroes fought for, martyrs died to save,
Reveals its earth-born lineage, growing old
And limping in its march, its wings unplumed,
Its heavenly semblance faded like a dream!
Here in this painted casket, just unsealed,
Lies what was once a breathing shape like thine,
Once loved as thou art loved; there beamed the eyes
That looked on Memphis in its hour of pride,
That saw the walls of hundred-gated Thebes,
And all the mirrored glories of the Nile.
See how they toiled that all-consuming time
Might leave the frame immortal in its tomb;
Filled it with fragrant balms and odorous gums
That still diffuse their sweetness through the air,
And wound and wound with patient fold on fold
The flaxen bands thy hand has rudely torn!
Perchance thou yet canst see the faded stain
Of the sad mourner's tear.


XI.

IDOLS

BUT what is this?
The sacred beetle, bound upon the breast
Of the blind heathen! Snatch the curious prize,
Give it a place among thy treasured spoils,
Fossil and relic,--corals, encrinites,
The fly in amber and the fish in stone,
The twisted circlet of Etruscan gold,
Medal, intaglio, poniard, poison-ring,--
Place for the Memphian beetle with thine hoard!

AM longer than thy creed has blest the world
This toy, thus ravished from thy brother's breast,
Was to the heart of Mizraim as divine,
As holy, as the symbol that we lay
On the still bosom of our white-robed dead,
And raise above their dust that all may know
Here sleeps an heir of glory. Loving friends,
With tears of trembling faith and choking sobs,
And prayers to those who judge of mortal deeds,
Wrapped this poor image in the cerement's fold
That Isis and Osiris, friends of man,
Might know their own and claim the ransomed soul.

An idol? Man was born to worship such!
An idol is an image of his thought;
Sometimes he carves it out of gleaming stone,
And sometimes moulds it out of glittering gold,
Or rounds it in a mighty frescoed dome,
Or lifts it heavenward in a lofty spire,
Or shapes it in a cunning frame of words,
Or pays his priest to make it day by day;
For sense must have its god as well as soul;
A new-born Dian calls for silver shrines,
And Egypt's holiest symbol is our own,
The sign we worship as did they of old
When Isis and Osiris ruled the world.

Let us be true to our most subtle selves,
We long to have our idols like the rest.
Think! when the men of Israel had their God
Encamped among them, talking with their chief,
Leading them in the pillar of the cloud
And watching o'er them in the shaft of fire,
They still must have an image; still they longed
For somewhat of substantial, solid form
Whereon to hang their garlands, and to fix
Their wandering thoughts and gain a stronger hold
For their uncertain faith, not yet assured
If those same meteors of the day and night
Were not mere exhalations of the soil.
Are we less earthly than the chosen race?
Are we more neighbors of the living God
Than they who gathered manna every morn,
Reaping where none had sown, and heard the voice
Of him who met the Highest in the mount,
And brought them tables, graven with His hand?
Yet these must have their idol, brought their gold,
That star-browed Apis might be god again;
Yea, from their ears the women brake the rings
That lent such splendors to the gypsy brown
Of sunburnt cheeks,--what more could woman do
To show her pious zeal? They went astray,
But nature led them as it leads us all.
We too, who mock at Israel's golden calf
And scoff at Egypt's sacred scarabee,
Would have our amulets to clasp and kiss,
And flood with rapturous tears, and bear with us
To be our dear companions in the dust;
Such magic works an image in our souls.

Man is an embryo; see at twenty years
His bones, the columns that uphold his frame
Not yet cemented, shaft and capital,
Mere fragments of the temple incomplete.
At twoscore, threescore, is he then full grown?
Nay, still a child, and as the little maids
Dress and undress their puppets, so he tries
To dress a lifeless creed, as if it lived,
And change its raiment when the world cries shame!

We smile to see our little ones at play
So grave, so thoughtful, with maternal care
Nursing the wisps of rags they call their babes;--
Does He not smile who sees us with the toys
We call by sacred names, and idly feign
To be what we have called them? He is still
The Father of this helpless nursery-brood,
Whose second childhood joins so close its first,
That in the crowding, hurrying years between
We scarce have trained our senses to their task
Before the gathering mist has dimmed our eyes,
And with our hollowed palm we help our ear,
And trace with trembling hand our wrinkled names,
And then begin to tell our stories o'er,
And see--not hear--the whispering lips that say,
'You know? Your father knew him.--This is he,
Tottering and leaning on the hireling's arm,'--
And so, at length, disrobed of all that clad
The simple life we share with weed and worm,
Go to our cradles, naked as we came.


XII.

LOVE

WHAT if a soul redeemed, a spirit that loved
While yet on earth and was beloved in turn,
And still remembered every look and tone
Of that dear earthly sister who was left
Among the unwise virgins at the gate,--
Itself admitted with the bridegroom's train,--
What if this spirit redeemed, amid the host
Of chanting angels, in some transient lull
Of the eternal anthem, heard the cry
Of its lost darling, whom in evil hour
Some wilder pulse of nature led astray
And left an outcast in a world of fire,
Condemned to be the sport of cruel fiends,
Sleepless, unpitying, masters of the skill
To wring the maddest ecstasies of pain
From worn-out souls that only ask to die,--
Would it not long to leave the bliss of heaven,--
Bearing a little water in its hand
To moisten those poor lips that plead in vain
With Him we call our Father? Or is all
So changed in such as taste celestial joy
They hear unmoved the endless wail of woe;
The daughter in the same dear tones that hushed
Her cradle slumbers; she who once had held
A babe upon her bosom from its voice
Hoarse with its cry of anguish, yet the same?

No! not in ages when the Dreadful Bird
Stamped his huge footprints, and the Fearful Beast
Strode with the flesh about those fossil bones
We build to mimic life with pygmy hands,--
Not in those earliest days when men ran wild
And gashed each other with their knives of stone,
When their low foreheads bulged in ridgy brows
And their flat hands were callous in the palm
With walking in the fashion of their sires,
Grope as they might to find a cruel god
To work their will on such as human wrath
Had wrought its worst to torture, and had left
With rage unsated, white and stark and cold,
Could hate have shaped a demon more malign
Than him the dead men mummied in their creed
And taught their trembling children to adore!

Made in his image! Sweet and gracious souls
Dear to my heart by nature's fondest names,
Is not your memory still the precious mould
That lends its form to Him who hears my prayer?
Thus only I behold Him, like to them,
Long-suffering, gentle, ever slow to wrath,
If wrath it be that only wounds to heal,
Ready to meet the wanderer ere he reach
The door he seeks, forgetful of his sin,
Longing to clasp him in a father's arms,
And seal his pardon with a pitying tear!

Four gospels tell their story to mankind,
And none so full of soft, caressing words
That bring the Maid of Bethlehem and her Babe
Before our tear-dimmed eyes, as his who learned
In the meek service of his gracious art
The tones which, like the medicinal balms
That calm the sufferer's anguish, soothe our souls.
Oh that the loving woman, she who sat
So long a listener at her Master's feet,
Had left us Mary's Gospel,--all she heard
Too sweet, too subtle for the ear of man!
Mark how the tender-hearted mothers read
The messages of love between the lines
Of the same page that loads the bitter tongue
Of him who deals in terror as his trade
With threatening words of wrath that scorch like flame
They tell of angels whispering round the bed
Of the sweet infant smiling in its dream,
Of lambs enfolded in the Shepherd's arms,
Of Him who blessed the children; of the land
Where crystal rivers feed unfading flowers,
Of cities golden-paved with streets of pearl,
Of the white robes the winged creatures wear,
The crowns and harps from whose melodious strings
One long, sweet anthem flows forevermore!
We too had human mothers, even as Thou,
Whom we have learned to worship as remote
From mortal kindred, wast a cradled babe.
The milk of woman filled our branching veins,
She lulled us with her tender nursery-song,
And folded round us her untiring arms,
While the first unremembered twilight yeas
Shaped us to conscious being; still we feel
Her pulses in our own,--too faintly feel;
Would that the heart of woman warmed our creeds!

Not from the sad-eyed hermit's lonely cell,
Not from the conclave where the holy men
Glare on each other, as with angry eyes
They battle for God's glory and their own,
Till, sick of wordy strife, a show of hands
Fixes the faith of ages yet unborn,--
Ah, not from these the listening soul can hear
The Father's voice that speaks itself divine!
Love must be still our Master; till we learn
What he can teach us of a woman's heart,
We know not His whose love embraces all.

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William Butler Yeats

Narrative And Dramatic The Wanderings Of Oisin

BOOK I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S. Patrick. Tell On.

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

Kept time with their bright wings and feet;
Like drops of honey came their words,
But fainter than a young lamb's bleat.

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

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


BOOK II


NOW, man of croziers, shadows called our names
And then away, away, like whirling flames;
And now fled by, mist-covered, without sound,
The youth and lady and the deer and hound;
'Gaze no more on the phantoms,' Niamh said,
And kissed my eyes, and, swaying her bright head
And her bright body, sang of faery and man
Before God was or my old line began;
Wars shadowy, vast, exultant; faeries of old
Who wedded men with rings of Druid gold;
And how those lovers never turn their eyes
Upon the life that fades and flickers and dies,
Yet love and kiss on dim shores far away
Rolled round with music of the sighing spray:
Yet sang no more as when, like a brown bee
That has drunk full, she crossed the misty sea
With me in her white arms a hundred years
Before this day; for now the fall of tears
Troubled her song.
I do not know if days
Or hours passed by, yet hold the morning rays
Shone many times among the glimmering flowers
Woven into her hair, before dark towers
Rose in the darkness, and the white surf gleamed
About them; and the horse of Faery screamed
And shivered, knowing the Isle of Many Fears,
Nor ceased until white Niamh stroked his ears
And named him by sweet names.
A foaming tide
Whitened afar with surge, fan-formed and wide,
Burst from a great door matred by many a blow
From mace and sword and pole-axe, long ago
When gods and giants warred. We rode between
The seaweed-covered pillars; and the green
And surging phosphorus alone gave light
On our dark pathway, till a countless flight
Of moonlit steps glimmered; and left and right
Dark statues glimmered over the pale tide
Upon dark thrones. Between the lids of one
The imaged meteors had flashed and run
And had disported in the stilly jet,
And the fixed stars had dawned and shone and set,
Since God made Time and Death and Sleep: the other
Stretched his long arm to where, a misty smother,
The stream churned, churned, and churned -- his lips apart,
As though he told his never-slumbering heart
Of every foamdrop on its misty way.
Tying the horse to his vast foot that lay
Half in the unvesselled sea, we climbed the stair
And climbed so long, I thought the last steps were
Hung from the morning star; when these mild words
Fanned the delighted air like wings of birds:
'My brothers spring out of their beds at morn,
A-murmur like young partridge: with loud horn
They chase the noontide deer;
And when the dew-drowned stars hang in the air
Look to long fishing-lines, or point and pare
An ashen hunting spear.
O sigh, O fluttering sigh, be kind to me;
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea,
And shores the froth lips wet:
And stay a little while, and bid them weep:
Ah, touch their blue-veined eyelids if they sleep,
And shake their coverlet.
When you have told how I weep endlessly,
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea
And home to me again,
And in the shadow of my hair lie hid,
And tell me that you found a man unbid,
The saddest of all men.'

A lady with soft eyes like funeral tapers,
And face that seemed wrought out of moonlit vapours,
And a sad mouth, that fear made tremulous
As any ruddy moth, looked down on us;
And she with a wave-rusted chain was tied
To two old eagles, full of ancient pride,
That with dim eyeballs stood on either side.
Few feathers were on their dishevelled wings,
For their dim minds were with the ancient things.

'I bring deliverance,' pearl-pale Niamh said.

'Neither the living, nor the unlabouring dead,
Nor the high gods who never lived, may fight
My enemy and hope; demons for fright
Jabber and scream about him in the night;
For he is strong and crafty as the seas
That sprang under the Seven Hazel Trees,
And I must needs endure and hate and weep,
Until the gods and demons drop asleep,
Hearing Acdh touch thc mournful strings of gold.'
'Is he So dreadful?'
'Be not over-bold,
But fly while still you may.'
And thereon I:
'This demon shall be battered till he die,
And his loose bulk be thrown in the loud tide.'
'Flee from him,' pearl-pale Niamh weeping cried,
'For all men flee the demons'; but moved not
My angry king-remembering soul one jot.
There was no mightier soul of Heber's line;
Now it is old and mouse-like. For a sign
I burst the chain: still earless, neNeless, blind,
Wrapped in the things of the unhuman mind,
In some dim memory or ancient mood,
Still earless, netveless, blind, the eagles stood.

And then we climbed the stair to a high door;
A hundred horsemen on the basalt floor
Beneath had paced content: we held our way
And stood within: clothed in a misty ray
I saw a foam-white seagull drift and float
Under the roof, and with a straining throat
Shouted, and hailed him: he hung there a star,
For no man's cry shall ever mount so far;
Not even your God could have thrown down that hall;
Stabling His unloosed lightnings in their stall,
He had sat down and sighed with cumbered heart,
As though His hour were come.
We sought the patt
That was most distant from the door; green slime
Made the way slippery, and time on time
Showed prints of sea-born scales. while down through it
The captive's journeys to and fro were writ
Like a small river, and where feet touched came
A momentary gleam of phosphorus flame.
Under the deepest shadows of the hall
That woman found a ring hung on the wall,
And in the ring a torch, and with its flare
Making a world about her in the air,
Passed under the dim doorway, out of sight,
And came again, holding a second light
Burning between her fingers, and in mine
Laid it and sighed: I held a sword whose shine
No centuries could dim, and a word ran
Thereon in Ogham letters, 'Manannan';
That sea-god's name, who in a deep content
Sprang dripping, and, with captive demons sent
Out of the sevenfold seas, built the dark hall
Rooted in foam and clouds, and cried to all
The mightier masters of a mightier race;
And at his cry there came no milk-pale face
Under a crown of thorns and dark with blood,
But only exultant faces.
Niamh stood
With bowed head, trembling when the white blade shone,
But she whose hours of tenderness were gone
Had neither hope nor fear. I bade them hide
Under the shadowS till the tumults died
Of the loud-crashing and earth-shaking fight,
Lest they should look upon some dreadful sight;
And thrust the torch between the slimy flags.
A dome made out of endless carven jags,
Where shadowy face flowed into shadowy face,
Looked down on me; and in the self-same place
I waited hour by hour, and the high dome,
Windowless, pillarless, multitudinous home
Of faces, waited; and the leisured gaze
Was loaded with the memory of days
Buried and mighty. When through the great door
The dawn came in, and glimmered on the floor
With a pale light, I journeyed round the hall
And found a door deep sunken in the wall,
The least of doors; beyond on a dim plain
A little mnnel made a bubbling strain,
And on the runnel's stony and bare edge
A dusky demon dry as a withered sedge
Swayed, crooning to himself an unknown tongue:
In a sad revelry he sang and swung
Bacchant and mournful, passing to and fro
His hand along the runnel's side, as though
The flowers still grew there: far on the sea's waste
Shaking and waving, vapour vapour chased,
While high frail cloudlets, fed with a green light,
Like drifts of leaves, immovable and bright,
Hung in the passionate dawn. He slowly turned:
A demon's leisure: eyes, first white, now burned
Like wings of kingfishers; and he arose
Barking. We trampled up and down with blows
Of sword and brazen battle-axe, while day
Gave to high noon and noon to night gave way;
And when he knew the sword of Manannan
Amid the shades of night, he changed and ran
Through many shapes; I lunged at the smooth throat
Of a great eel; it changed, and I but smote
A fir-tree roaring in its leafless top;
And thereupon I drew the livid chop
Of a drowned dripping body to my breast;
Horror from horror grew; but when the west
Had surged up in a plumy fire, I drave
Through heart and spine; and cast him in the wave
Lest Niamh shudder.

Full of hope and dread
Those two came carrying wine and meat and bread,
And healed my wounds with unguents out of flowers
That feed white moths by some De Danaan shrine;
Then in that hall, lit by the dim sea-shine,
We lay on skins of otters, and drank wine,
Brewed by the sea-gods, from huge cups that lay
Upon the lips of sea-gods in their day;
And then on heaped-up skins of otters slept.
And when the sun once more in saffron stept,
Rolling his flagrant wheel out of the deep,
We sang the loves and angers without sleep,
And all the exultant labours of the strong.
But now the lying clerics murder song
With barren words and flatteries of the weak.
In what land do the powerless turn the beak
Of ravening Sorrow, or the hand of Wrath?
For all your croziers, they have left the path
And wander in the storms and clinging snows,
Hopeless for ever: ancient Oisin knows,
For he is weak and poor and blind, and lies
On the anvil of the world.
S. Patrick. Be still: the skies
Are choked with thunder, lightning, and fierce wind,
For God has heard, and speaks His angry mind;
Go cast your body on the stones and pray,
For He has wrought midnight and dawn and day.
Oisin. Saint, do you weep? I hear amid the thunder
The Fenian horses; atmour torn asunder;
Laughter and cries. The armies clash and shock,
And now the daylight-darkening ravens flock.
Cease, cease, O mournful, laughing Fenian horn!

We feasted for three days. On the fourth morn
I found, dropping sea-foam on the wide stair,
And hung with slime, and whispering in his hair,
That demon dull and unsubduable;
And once more to a day-long battle fell,
And at the sundown threw him in the surge,
To lie until the fourth morn saw emerge
His new-healed shape; and for a hundred years
So watred, so feasted, with nor dreams nor fears,
Nor languor nor fatigue: an endless feast,
An endless war.

The hundred years had ceased;
I stood upon the stair: the surges bore
A beech-bough to me, and my heart grew sore,
Remembering how I had stood by white-haired Finn
Under a beech at Almhuin and heard the thin
Outcry of bats.

And then young Niamh came
Holding that horse, and sadly called my name;
I mounted, and we passed over the lone
And drifting greyness, while this monotone,
Surly and distant, mixed inseparably
Into the clangour of the wind and sea.

'I hear my soul drop
And Mananna's dark tower, stone after stone.
Gather sea-slime and fall the seaward way,
And the moon goad the waters night and day,
That all be overthrown.

'But till the moon has taken all, I wage
War on the mightiest men under the skies,
And they have fallen or fled, age after age.
Light is man's love, and lighter is man's rage;
His purpose drifts and dies.'

And then lost Niamh murmured, 'Love, we go
To the Island of Forgetfulness, for lo!
The Islands of Dancing and of Victories
Are empty of all power.'

'And which of these
Is the Island of Content?'

'None know,' she said;
And on my bosom laid her weeping head.

BOOK III


FLED foam underneath us, and round us, a wandering and milky smoke,
High as the Saddle-girth, covering away from our glances the tide;
And those that fled, and that followed, from the foam-pale distance broke;
The immortal desire of Immortals we saw in their faces, and sighed.

I mused on the chase with the Fenians, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair,
And never a song sang Niamh, and over my finger-tips
Came now the sliding of tears and sweeping of mist-cold hair,
And now the warmth of sighs, and after the quiver of lips.

Were we days long or hours long in riding, when, rolled in a grisly peace,
An isle lay level before us, with dripping hazel and oak?
And we stood on a sea's edge we saw not; for whiter than new-washed fleece
Fled foam underneath us, and round us, a wandering and milky smoke.

And we rode on the plains of the sea's edge; the sea's edge barren and grey,
Grey sand on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away,
Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.

But the trees grew taller and closer, immense in their wrinkling bark;
Dropping; a murmurous dropping; old silence and that one sound;
For no live creatures lived there, no weasels moved in the dark:
Long sighs arose in our spirits, beneath us bubbled the ground.
And the ears of the horse went sinking away in the hollow night,
For, as drift from a sailor slow drowning the gleams of the world and the sun,
Ceased on our hands and our faces, on hazel and oak leaf, the light,
And the stars were blotted above us, and the whole of the world was one.

Till the horse gave a whinny; for, cumbrous with stems of the hazel and oak,
A valley flowed down from his hoofs, and there in the long grass lay,
Under the starlight and shadow, a monstrous slumbering folk,
Their naked and gleaming bodies poured out and heaped in the way.

And by them were arrow and war-axe, arrow and shield and blade;
And dew-blanched horns, in whose hollow a child of three years old
Could sleep on a couch of rushes, and all inwrought and inlaid,
And more comely than man can make them with bronze and silver and gold.

And each of the huge white creatures was huger than fourscore men;
The tops of their ears were feathered, their hands were the claws of birds,
And, shaking the plumes of the grasses and the leaves of the mural glen,
The breathing came from those bodies, long warless, grown whiter than curds.

The wood was so Spacious above them, that He who has stars for His flocks
Could fondle the leaves with His fingers, nor go from His dew-cumbered skies;
So long were they sleeping, the owls had builded their nests in their locks,
Filling the fibrous dimness with long generations of eyes.

And over the limbs and the valley the slow owls wandered and came,
Now in a place of star-fire, and now in a shadow-place wide;
And the chief of the huge white creatures, his knees in the soft star-flame,
Lay loose in a place of shadow: we drew the reins by his side.

Golden the nails of his bird-clawS, flung loosely along the dim ground;
In one was a branch soft-shining with bells more many than sighs
In midst of an old man's bosom; owls ruffling and pacing around
Sidled their bodies against him, filling the shade with their eyes.
And my gaze was thronged with the sleepers; no, not since the world began,
In realms where the handsome were many, nor in glamours by demons flung,
Have faces alive with such beauty been known to the salt eye of man,
Yet weary with passions that faded when the sevenfold seas were young.

And I gazed on the bell-branch, sleep's forebear, far sung by the Sennachies.
I saw how those slumbererS, grown weary, there camping in grasses deep,
Of wars with the wide world and pacing the shores of the wandering seas,
Laid hands on the bell-branch and swayed it, and fed of unhuman sleep.

Snatching the horn of Niamh, I blew a long lingering note.
Came sound from those monstrous sleepers, a sound like the stirring of flies.
He, shaking the fold of his lips, and heaving the pillar of his throat,
Watched me with mournful wonder out of the wells of his eyes.

I cried, 'Come out of the shadow, king of the nails of gold!
And tell of your goodly household and the goodly works of your hands,
That we may muse in the starlight and talk of the battles of old;
Your questioner, Oisin, is worthy, he comes from the Fenian lands.'

Half open his eyes were, and held me, dull with the smoke of their dreams;
His lips moved slowly in answer, no answer out of them came;
Then he swayed in his fingers the bell-branch, slowdropping a sound in faint streams
Softer than snow-flakes in April and piercing the marrow like flame.

Wrapt in the wave of that music, with weariness more than of earth,
The moil of my centuries filled me; and gone like a sea-covered stone
Were the memories of the whole of my sorrow and the memories of the whole of my mirth,
And a softness came from the starlight and filled me full to the bone.

In the roots of the grasses, the sorrels, I laid my body as low;
And the pearl-pale Niamh lay by me, her brow on the midst of my breast;
And the horse was gone in the distance, and years after years 'gan flow;
Square leaves of the ivy moved over us, binding us down to our rest.
And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot
How the fetlocks drip blocd in the battle, when the fallen on fallen lie rolled;
How the falconer follows the falcon in the weeds of the heron's plot,
And the name of the demon whose hammer made
Conchubar's sword-blade of old.

And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot
That the spear-shaft is made out of ashwood, the shield out of osier and hide;
How the hammers spring on the anvil, on the spearhead's burning spot;
How the slow, blue-eyed oxen of Finn low sadly at evening tide.

But in dreams, mild man of the croziers, driving the dust with their throngs,
Moved round me, of seamen or landsmen, all who are winter tales;
Came by me the kings of the Red Branch, with roaring of laughter and songs,
Or moved as they moved once, love-making or piercing the tempest with sails.

Came Blanid, Mac Nessa, tall Fergus who feastward of old time slunk,
Cook Barach, the traitor; and warward, the spittle on his beard never dry,
Dark Balor, as old as a forest, car-borne, his mighty head sunk
Helpless, men lifting the lids of his weary and deathmaking eye.

And by me, in soft red raiment, the Fenians moved in loud streams,
And Grania, walking and smiling, sewed with her needle of bone.
So lived I and lived not, so wrought I and wrought not, with creatures of dreams,
In a long iron sleep, as a fish in the water goes dumb as a stone.

At times our slumber was lightened. When the sun was on silver or gold;
When brushed with the wings of the owls, in the dimness they love going by;
When a glow-worm was green on a grass-leaf, lured from his lair in the mould;
Half wakening, we lifted our eyelids, and gazed on the grass with a sigh.

So watched I when, man of the croziers, at the heel of a century fell,
Weak, in the midst of the meadow, from his miles in the midst of the air,
A starling like them that forgathered 'neath a moon waking white as a shell
When the Fenians made foray at morning with Bran, Sceolan, Lomair.
I awoke: the strange horse without summons out of the distance ran,
Thrusting his nose to my shoulder; he knew in his bosom deep
That once more moved in my bosom the ancient sadness of man,
And that I would leave the Immortals, their dimness, their dews dropping sleep.
O, had you seen beautiful Niamh grow white as the waters are white,
Lord of the croziers, you even had lifted your hands and wept:
But, the bird in my fingers, I mounted, remembering alone that delight
Of twilight and slumber were gone, and that hoofs impatiently stept.
I died, 'O Niamh! O white one! if only a twelve-houred day,
I must gaze on the beard of Finn, and move where the old men and young
In the Fenians' dwellings of wattle lean on the chessboards and play,
Ah, sweet to me now were even bald Conan's slanderous tongue!
'Like me were some galley forsaken far off in Meridian isle,
Remembering its long-oared companions, sails turning to threadbare rags;
No more to crawl on the seas with long oars mile after mile,
But to be amid shooting of flies and flowering of rushes and flags.'
Their motionless eyeballs of spirits grown mild with mysterious thought,
Watched her those seamless faces from the valley's glimmering girth;
As she murmured, 'O wandering Oisin, the strength of the bell-branch is naught,
For there moves alive in your fingers the fluttering sadness of earth.
'Then go through the lands in the saddle and see what the mortals do,
And softly come to your Niamh over the tops of the tide;
But weep for your Niamh, O Oisin, weep; for if only your shoe
Brush lightly as haymouse earth's pebbles, you will come no more to my side.
'O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?'
I saw from a distant saddle; from the earth she made her moan:
'I would die like a small withered leaf in the autumn, for breast unto breast
We shall mingle no more, nor our gazes empty their sweetness lone
'In the isles of the farthest seas where only the spirits come.
Were the winds less soft than the breath of a pigeon who sleeps on her nest,
Nor lost in the star-fires and odours the sound of the sea's vague drum?
O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?'
The wailing grew distant; I rode by the woods of the wrinkling bark,
Where ever is murmurous dropping, old silence and that one sound;
For no live creatures live there, no weasels move in the dark:
In a reverie forgetful of all things, over the bubbling' ground.
And I rode by the plains of the sea's edge, where all is barren and grey,
Grey sand on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away',
Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.
And the winds made the sands on the sea's edge turning and turning go,
As my mind made the names of the Fenians. Far from the hazel and oak,
I rode away on the surges, where, high aS the saddlebow,
Fled foam underneath me, and round me, a wandering and milky smoke.
Long fled the foam-flakes around me, the winds fled out of the vast,
Snatching the bird in secret; nor knew I, embosomed apart,
When they froze the cloth on my body like armour riveted fast,
For Remembrance, lifting her leanness, keened in the gates of my heart.
Till, fattening the winds of the morning, an odour of new-mown hay
Came, and my forehead fell low, and my tears like berries fell down;
Later a sound came, half lost in the sound of a shore far away,
From the great grass-barnacle calling, and later the shore-weeds brown.
If I were as I once was, the strong hoofs crushing the sand and the shells,
Coming out of the sea as the dawn comes, a chaunt of love on my lips,
Not coughing, my head on my knees, and praying, and wroth with the bells,
I would leave no saint's head on his body from Rachlin to Bera of ships.
Making way from the kindling surges, I rode on a bridle-path
Much wondering to see upon all hands, of wattles and woodwork made,
Your bell-mounted churches, and guardless the sacred cairn and the mth,
And a small and a feeble populace stooping with mattock and spade,
Or weeding or ploughing with faces a-shining with much-toil wet;
While in this place and that place, with bodies un, glorious, their chieftains stood,
Awaiting in patience the straw-death, croziered one, caught in your net:
Went the laughter of scorn from my mouth like the roaring of wind in a wood.
And before I went by them so huge and so speedy with eyes so bright,
Came after the hard gaze of youth, or an old man lifted his head:
And I rode and I rode, and I cried out, 'The Fenians hunt wolves in the night,
So sleep thee by daytime.' A voice cried, 'The Fenians a long time are dead.'
A whitebeard stood hushed on the pathway, the flesh of his face as dried grass,
And in folds round his eyes and his mouth, he sad as a child without milk-
And the dreams of the islands were gone, and I knew how men sorrow and pass,
And their hound, and their horse, and their love, and their eyes that glimmer like silk.
And wrapping my face in my hair, I murmured, 'In old age they ceased';
And my tears were larger than berries, and I murmured, 'Where white clouds lie spread
On Crevroe or broad Knockfefin, with many of old they feast
On the floors of the gods.' He cried, 'No, the gods a long time are dead.'
And lonely and longing for Niamh, I shivered and turned me about,
The heart in me longing to leap like a grasshopper into her heart;
I turned and rode to the westward, and followed the sea's old shout
Till I saw where Maeve lies sleeping till starlight and midnight part.
And there at the foot of the mountain, two carried a sack full of sand,
They bore it with staggering and sweating, but fell with their burden at length.
Leaning down from the gem-studded saddle, I flung it five yards with my hand,
With a sob for men waxing so weakly, a sob for the Fenians' old strength.
The rest you have heard of, O croziered man; how, when divided the girth,
I fell on the path, and the horse went away like a summer fly;
And my years three hundred fell on me, and I rose, and walked on the earth,
A creeping old man, full of sleep, with the spittle on his beard never dry'.
How the men of the sand-sack showed me a church with its belfry in air;
Sorry place, where for swing of the war-axe in my dim eyes the crozier gleams;
What place have Caoilte and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair?
Speak, you too are old with your memories, an old man surrounded with dreams.
S. Patrick. Where the flesh of the footsole clingeth on the burning stones is their place;
Where he demons whip them with wires on the burning stones of wide Hell,
Watching the blessed ones move far off, and the smile on God's face,
Between them a gateway of brass, and the howl of the angels who fell.
Oisin. Put the staff in my hands; for I go to the Fenians,
O cleric, to chaunt
The war-songs that roused them of old; they will rise, making clouds with their Breath,
Innumerable, singing, exultant; the clay underneath them shall pant,
And demons be broken in pieces, and trampled beneath them in death.
And demons afraid in their darkness; deep horror of eyes and of wings,
Afraid, their ears on the earth laid, shall listen and rise up and weep;
Hearing the shaking of shields and the quiver of stretched bowstrings,
Hearing Hell loud with a murmur, as shouting and mocking we sweep.
We will tear out the flaming stones, and batter the gateway of brass
And enter, and none sayeth 'No' when there enters the strongly armed guest;
Make clean as a broom cleans, and march on as oxen move over young grass;
Then feast, making converse of wars, and of old wounds, and turn to our rest.
S. Patrick. On the flaming stones, without refuge, the limbs of the Fenians are tost;
None war on the masters of Hell, who could break up the world in their rage;
But kneel and wear out the flags and pray for your soul that is lost
Through the demon love of its youth and its godless and passionate age.
Oisin. Ah me! to be Shaken with coughing and broken with old age and pain,
Without laughter, a show unto children, alone with remembrance and fear;
All emptied of purple hours as a beggar's cloak in the rain,
As a hay-cock out on the flood, or a wolf sucked under a weir.
It were sad to gaze on the blessed and no man I loved of old there;
I throw down the chain of small stones! when life in my body has ceased,
I will go to Caoilte, and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair,
And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in flames or at feast.

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A Change Of Scene Is But A Moment's Respite

In the sunbathed expanse of the sky
Birds were on the wing
Now lost in the quaint net
Of limetless space
In sky-lakes, azure blue,
They can't be seen.
Clouds kiss the hillock's lips
Then dance in ecstasy
Move around from valley to valley
Suddenly slipping from steep precipices
A comely face like a silken handkerchief
Gets soaked somewhere
In the rain of tears.
My dreams take a plunge
From the open window
And land
In the hands of the kids playing
In the eyes of the balloon seller
In the heart of the Gypsy girl
Hawking her wares - earthen toys.
The wind blows them away in a moment.

A change of scene is but a moment's respite
To look long and longingly
With a deep gaze of adoration
Is a palpable loss.
Whole life spans are spent
In slow motion.

Poem by Naseer Ahmed Nasir,1980.
Translated from the original Urdu into English by Satyapal Anand.
Copyrights (C) All rights reserved.

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Blame It On The Stones

Mister marvin middle class is really in a stew
Wondrin what the younger generations coming to
And the taste of his martini doesnt please his bitter tongue
Blame it on the rolling stones.
Blame it on the stones; blame it on the stones
Youll feel so much better, knowing you dont stand alone
Join the accusation; save the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the stones
Mother tells the ladies at the bridge club every day
Of the rising price of tranquilizers she must pay
And she wonders why the children never seem to stay at home
Blame it on the rolling stones.
Blame it on the stones; blame it on the stones
Youll feel so much better, knowing you dont stand alone
Join the accusation; save the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the stones
Fathers at the office, nightly working all the time
Trying to make the secretary change her little mind
And it bothers him to read about so many broken homes
Blame it on those rolling stones.
Blame it on the stones; blame it on the stones
Youll feel so much better knowing you dont stand alone
Join the accusation; same the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the stones
Blame it on the stones, blame it on the stones.

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Patrick White

Every Insight, The Big Bang, And The Thought That Follows, A Universe

Every insight, the Big Bang, and the thought that follows, a universe.
Every image that flashes across the moonscape like a silhouette
in reverse of the dark matter and starmud that surrounds it,
a black swan among the white when there's snow on the river.
Worlds bubbling out of the mouth of a fish through a hole in the ice
that looks like the third eye of a glacier taking a long, hard look
at whether it was worth opening all those lakes
and then filling them like eyes with the runoff of its own tears
as it disappears into a more fertile approach to letting go of itself.

I could always see a human shape hidden in the landscape
and I wanted to free it so I scraped and gouged
and dug my way into it like a dog unearthing the fossil
of a distant ancestor that ran with the wolves.
Even now when their ghosts howl it's a sad ballad
of the lyrical hills going mad by themselves
and sometimes it breaks my heart like water
in the cleft of a pseudomorphic rock to write picture-music
in striated cuneiform on the cliff faces to sing to themselves
like a lost people with more legend than life in its veins.

I can take a single thread and weave it into a flying carpet.
I can take a string theory and make it resonate with membranes
that occasionally break their eardrums like water from a womb.
There are protocols of the imagination that have been imposed
by iconic means like straitjackets fitted to the inside of your psyche.
Cuckoos in your nest, memes in your mind,
nudging your cosmic eggs out to smash on the rocks below
like the stillborn of the sun. Embryos and fractals,
astronomical forensics sweeping the night sky for fetal stars,
hidden paradigms ferreted out like secrets
that will bloom each in their own good time
like the mysteries of life unravelling
the sequel of a waterclock that keeps on outliving itself
by transcending its own emptiness by pouring itself out
like a serpent that's always shedding its own skin
or a zodiac confabulating a false dawn
of mythically deflated metaphors, red giants
burnt out into black dwarfs and sink holes
where the stars plunge like butterflies into
the gaping maw of the dragon that consumes them like krill,
knowing its destiny, too, is just a provisional scaffolding of quicksand.

Yes, but how many make it all the way through
like wild salmon responding to the death call
of the spawning ground on the far side of the white hole
when the hourglass gets turned around like a fountain
instead of leaking out of a mortal wound in the side of the universe?
The morphology of knowledge is the history of shapeshifters.
Cosmology is an aesthetic expression of enculturated preferences.
Zero among the Hindus the form of the abundance of their emptiness.
Among the Greeks, a political exile. And for a Westerner
far sighted enough to see in aerial perspective,
the bluing of a way of life that's always over the next hill.
Sight is a kind of love I once read on a poster the sixties.
So astronomy for poets. And poets for astronomy.
Observatories on forbidden mountain tops
opening their eyes like blind prophets to the visions
engendered by a seven year eclipse of their visuals.
Who hasn't stepped out of their own well lit doorway
and walked up to the high field on a cold winter night
and watched their breath mingle with the Milky Way
like a tributary of a river on intimate terms with the mindstream
we're all flowing into like red-tailed hawks
riding our own thermals for the sheer joy of it
down the helical stairwells of our own polished bannisters of dna.

Twenty years a Druid in a vatic college learning
to speak to trees in the demotic of their own alphabet,
poetry isn't the calling of a clown or a gleeman
amusing the whimsical caprice of the king's court,
it's a summons to risk your life exploring the mystery
of every facet of what you're doing here turning jewels
like stars in the translucency of your own light
reflected in a brainstorm of parabolic mirrors that bloom at night.
Haul yourself up out of your tidal pool of awareness
into the rarefied bliss of a whole new medium that exceeds
the planetary boundary stones of the space time continuum
you've been so far, by devoting your disobedience
by bringing back enlightened serpent fire
from the hearths and the middens in the starfields
of the gods who first domesticated it like a selective ordeal of birth
in the imagination of a hungry human thief enough
to root a new kind of lightning in the earth that bears
all the birthmarks of the compassionate fruits of insight
into the nature of a mind that embodies all this
as if one moment the crescents of the moon were scars on its eyes
and the next, the talons of an owl flying out of the abyss in the grip
of a nocturnal imagination that's as wise as it is dangerous.

All my thoughts have fingertips. Blood your abstractions.
Lavish your mindstream on the available dimensions of the future
as if what you wanted to achieve were already behind you
like a star in pursuit of an earthly excellence.
Humanize the uninhabitable as if it were just
another room in a spatially enchanted palace
you haven't finished yet like Thomas Jefferson.
If you look for the cure in the heart of the disease,
by corollary, look for the disease in the heart of the cure
like the lesser vehicle in a pathology of grails.
Safer to drink from your own skull to an eclipse
that patched the eye of the moon with the crossbones
of its colours, than sip rainbows from the goblets
of lilaceous irises blooming like an effulgent halo
around the pupil of a black hole on a starless night
anticipating a cadaverous moonrise
like the dark beginning of death breaking into
the unimaginable radiance of another side to all this
that makes the light seem a mere carbon copy
of the shining that can be emanated by an enlightened mind
that never hesitates to contaminate the purity
of its numinous ignorance for the sake
of opening the gate like an exile to a secret garden
everybody must enter at the crossroads of a threshold
without the screening myth of a backdoor to duck out of.

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Hermann And Dorothea - VIII. Melpomene

HERMANN AND DOROTHEA.

So tow'rd the sun, now fast sinking to rest, the two walk'd together,
Whilst he veil'd himself deep in clouds which thunder portended.
Out-of his veil now here, now there, with fiery glances
Beaming over the plain with rays foreboding and lurid.
'May this threatening weather,' said Hermann, 'not bring to us shortly
Hail and violent rain, for well does the harvest now promise.'
And they both rejoiced in the corn so lofty and waving,
Well nigh reaching the heads of the two tall figures that walk'd there.
Then the maiden spoke to her friendly leader as follows
'Generous youth, to whom I shall owe a kind destiny shortly,
Shelter and home, when so many poor exiles must weather the tempest,
In the first place tell me all about your good parents,
Whom I intend to serve with all my soul from hence-forward;
Knowing one's master, 'tis easier far to give satisfaction,
By rememb'ring the things which he deems of the highest importance,
And on which he has set his heart with the greatest decision.
Tell me, then, how best I can win your father and mother.'

Then the good and sensible youth made answer as follows
'You are indeed quite right, my kind and excellent maiden,
To begin by asking about the tastes of my parents!
For I have hitherto striven in vain to satisfy Father,
When I look'd after the inn, as well as my regular duty,
Working early and late in the field, and tending the vineyard.
Mother indeed was contented; she knew how to value my efforts;
And she will certainly hold you to be an excellent maiden,
If you take care of the house, as though the dwelling your own were.
But my father's unlike her; he's fond of outward appearance.
Gentle maiden, deem me not cold and void of all feeling,
If I disclose my father's nature to you, who're a stranger.
Yes, such words have never before escaped, I assure von
Out of my mouth, which is little accustom'd to babble and chatter;
But you have managed to worm all my secrets from out of my bosom.
Well, my worthy father the graces of life holds in honour,
Wishes for outward signs of love, as well as of rev'rence,
And would doubtless be satisfied with an inferior servant
Who understood this fancy, and hate a better, who did not.'

Cheerfully she replied, with gentle movement increasing
Through the darkening path the speed at which she was walking:
I in truth shall hope to satisfy both of your parents,
For your mother's character my own nature resembles,
And to external graces have I from my youth been accustom'd.
Our old neighbours, the French, in their earlier days laid much stress on
Courteous demeanour; 'twas common alike to nobles and burghers,
And to peasants, and each enjoin'd it on all his acquaintance.
in the same way, on the side of the Germans, the children were train'd up
Every morning, with plenty of kissing of hands and of curtsies,
To salute their parents, and always to act with politeness.
All that I have learnt, and all I have practised since childhood,
All that comes from my heart,--I will practise it all with the old man.
But on what terms shall I--I scarcely dare ask such a question,--
Be with yourself, the only son, and hereafter my master?'

Thus she spoke, and at that moment they came to the peartree.
Down from the skies the moon at her full was shining in glory;
Night had arrived, and the last pale gleam of the sunset had vanish'd.
So before them were lying, in masses all heap'd up together,
Lights as clear as the day, and shadows of night and of darkness.
And the friendly question was heard by Hermann with pleasure,
Under the shade of the noble tree at the spot which he loved so
Which that day had witness'd his tears at the fate of the exile.
And whilst they sat themselves down, to take a little repose there,
Thus the loving youth spoke, whilst he seized the hand of the maiden
'Let your heart give the answer, and always obey what it tells you!'
But he ventured to say no more, however propitious
Was the moment; he feard that a No would be her sole answer,
Ah! and he felt the ring on her finger, that sorrowful token.
So by the side of each other they quietly sat and in silence,
But the maiden began to speak, and said, 'How delightful
Is the light of the moon! The clearness of day it resembles.
Yonder I see in the town the houses and courtyards quite plainly,
In the gable a window; methinks all the panes I can reckon.'

'That which you see,' replied the youth, who spoke with an effort,
'That is our house down to which I now am about to conduct you,
And that window yonder belongs to my room in the attic,
Which will probably soon be yours, as we're making great changes.
All these fields are ours, and ripe for the harvest to-morrow;
Here in the shade we are wont to rest, enjoying our meal-time.
But let us now descend across the vineyard and garden,
For observe how the threatening storm is hitherward rolling,
Lightening first, and then eclipsing the beautiful full moon.'
So the pair arose, and wauder'd down by the corn-field,

Through the powerful corn, in the nightly clearness rejoicing;
And they reach'd the vineyard, and through its dark shadows proceeded.
So he guided her down the numerous tiers of the flat stones
Which, in an unhewn state, served as steps to the walk through the foliage.
Slowly she descended, and placed her hands on his shoulders;
And, with a quivering light, the moon through the foliage o'erlook'd them,
Till by storm-clouds envelop'd, she left the couple in darkness.
Then the strong youth supported the maiden, who on him was leaning;
She, however, not knowing the path, or observing the rough steps,
Slipp'd as she walk'd, her foot gave way, and she well nigh was falling.
Hastily held out his arm the youth with nimbleness thoughtful,
And held up his beloved one; she gently sank on his shoulders,
Breast was press'd against breast, and cheek against cheek, and so stood he
Fix'd like a marble statue, restrained by a firm resolution;
He embraced her no closer, thoughall her weight he supported;
So he felt his noble burden, the warmth of her bosom,
And her balmy breath, against his warm lips exhaling,
Bearing with manly feelings the woman's heroical greatness.

But she conceal'd the pain which she felt, and jestingly spoke thus
'It betokens misfortune,--so scrupulous people inform us,--
For the foot to give way on entering a house, near the threshold.
I should have wish'd, in truth, for a sign of some happier omen!
Let us tarry a little, for fear your parents should blame you
For their limping servant, and you should be thought a bad landlord.'

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Patrick White

By The Time You Say It

By the time you say it, you're a bridge beyond the last river of your lament.
Is there meaning in this, content? Emerging
from this cold oceanic reflection, how good
to wrap the sky around you like a blue woolen robe warmed by a fire,
your lungs two bag-ladies sorting through the trash
of your denuded coffin for any rumour of green.
A back-alley dog sniffs at your limp smile beside a broken wineglass.
Your passions turn into mouths and eat you; your heart
mistakes itself for the apple on the tree of knowledge
and dreads the approach of Eve. Today, for example, over coffee on Gore St.
(just so the peasants don't storm the moat again,
thinking we don't know where we're at)
I heard you wondering why the moon always ends in et cetera.
Just to distract you from gnashing your teeth in the void
and sticking your flavourless gum messiah
to the underside of the flat earth, I showed you a picture of the wind's face
I painted under an overpass on primeval concrete.
A fascist restauranteur enraged by the ulcers on his greed
preached his disease to an unwilling congregation of tables
and jackaled our money away to the squat god of his digital scripture.

Fascinated and hurt, you surveyed the distant puppet-masters
of your own hormonal attachments assemble and reassemble
like constellations at a crossroads and then
got up to give your sad friend an embrace on her birthday,
fingerprinting your own sorrow with someone else's hand. The albino sun
high above, opening doors and burning thresholds, was proud of you
as I liberated another orphanage in your honour.
People on wheels went by, more nonsensical than this watershed of pain
that pushes up a mad flower of poetry
through the startled soil of an intimate, unknown planet
hanging from the first crescent of the moon like a dropp of water
on a blade of radiant star-grass. You. Above the turmoil
of your blood-weather. And now the vast night
crowds into the asylum of my ancient, weeping windows
and the lamps go on like recovering suicides, their light
experimenting with brown-out dosages of prozac
like something electrical trying to live. Alone again on the deck
of an ark of phantoms beached by the flood
on this brutal world-mountain, my field of vision
is heaped with the skulls and skeletons of warrior dragons
who died true to a door that never opened. And if you listen hard enough
you can hear a secret priesthood of serpents
singing the melancholic lyrics of their eerie toxins in lethal shrines
under the foundation-stones of untenable temples
abandoned to a slum of birds, fractured stairs and pillars
a crusade of minerals on their way home, liberated by an infidel.

Is it continuous or do we make it so; the last fifty years of my life
devoted like a lover to the strange face in the moonlight
that beckons me deeper and deeper into her shining as if I were no more
than a ray of her manifestation, each feeling moment
whole to the furthest star, every thought
sufficient as fire, quiescent, an event of fabulous proportions. It's true
things change and change is a clock without hands.
Here now in the jewelled fish nets of satiated gods
that trawl the mind-sea for luminous, translucent fish
that have schooled into vagrant poems
for a gesture of provisional expression
timeless as now, I stop and bend like light to show you
how the black water-lilies are night mirrors
returning your eyes like water to the river. And yet,
most astounding of all, there is neither you nor I to witness it,
nor anything that swims like the language of a lost people
through these imagined depths, not even the gust of a god
over the stillness of the waves. Consciousness is the shadow of a living intelligence
whose awareness and being are purposeless flower and star,
all the worlds in every directionless direction
resplendent in the heart of a single atom, dust kicked up
by a child dancing alone in a dusky summer lane
with the scintillant gnats and fairies
whose lives are neither brief nor long, born or perishing.

Here, by this road of ghosts, touched by a wing,
I offer you this expansive bouquet of galaxies, endless dancers
wheeling joy into joy like love into bread. Do you see?
Nothing approaches nothing and zero gets up to dance.
There is nowhere that isn't a tree, no moment
that isn't the whole of space embracing it, everything in this event
already achieved. Why grieve then as if there were holes in the world
when everything you fall into, someone's else's face,
the violet oceans of an orchid heart, this trance of enlightened play
is nothing more than your own footprint on an Arab moon
full of intoxicated rain. Gently, I lay your heavy head
upon the doorsill of your lover and for the moment, an elder of the wind,
whisper nightbirds of ecstatic seeing
into your abundant emptiness. The point is
that there is no point that isn't already the whole of the radiant point
drawing long caravans, burdened with gifts for a bride,
out of the dream deserts of her lostness and longing
like a star dictating love poems to a viper-scribe in the sand. Just look
at the labour of these fools who contrive a hovel out of a palace
and consult their blood like mud at the mirage of an oasis
for fishtracks. Here, I'll sing it again on a page of water
because you are more beautiful and intelligent than the ones
who stand at the gate and swear by dawn
the light shall not pass, because your suffering is transcendence,
the original home of the many who make one face without flaw,
because I am drunk on the whiskey-fire of autumn leaves
even as the spring tunes its green harps to the high-pitched valley hearts
of ascending birds, every one a nugget of sun panned
from the empty pockets of a generous dawn,
because great sleepwalking moons of faith
are shedding your eyelids like skies and rose petals
releasing mysterious fragrances of time
in the narrow alleys of medieval Bombay where blue-white stars
feed their growing families by cobbling their tongues
like new leather fixed with nails of light
to the worn-out sandals of pilgrim gods on the Perfume Trail,
because even though there is suffering, ignorance, folly and greed,
and death enough to glut any neon highway vacancy,
and hitch-hiking saviours galore to lie down with in darkness
and rise in the light on magic-finger mattresses,
because there is no less of your whole celestial orchard
in the butterfly that lands on a dead branch
like one of your smiles
than there is in all the thundering worlds
that fall like windfall apples or wild horses cantering through the night,
because most people's seeing is a kind of love blind to music
and you are rarer than a radioactive strawberry in that regard,
the divergent snake-roads of your witching-wands, violins of water,
and because your great insight grows a secret heart within the heart
of an embryo word and nudges it into flight,
the ripening celebration in the heart of a dazzled bird
hurled from a thousand nests like rice from a begging bowl
to express the joy she is
at the fathomless wedding of bride and water, drunkard and unknowing wine,
I'll lift my voice again to you and sing.

A black snake swims across the leprous face of the moon
unwrapping her bandages on the water like music
to reveal her concealed beauty to no one.
Isis and the Sphinx cry out like loons.
A singing water-lily offers its severed head on a prophetic platter
to the breeze of a dancing girl, mistress of veils,
who toys with the weakness of kings.
On the slightest tongue of the rain, a feast of maggots and stars.

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Patrick White

My Secret Place

My secret place down by the Tay River.
I deer-bed down among the autumn grasses
and last of the New England asters
half-lotus in cowboy boots
with a clear view of the stars
dancing on the water.
The waterlilies have perished.
Jupiter.
And the moon at last crescent.
No one knows I'm here but me.
I've never come here with another.
A place where I talk to the universe alone
as if it existed
more personally
than the mere immensity
of a cosmic intelligence
super-saturating time and space.
Belief's a bad habit of mine
and sometimes I want to be deceived
into believing someone's listening
even when I know they aren't
and that the worst always happens for the best
even though I know it doesn't.
The sky's a windowpane I can fly through
without breaking my neck on delusions
and the moon feels like
a cool poultice on a hot wound.
I watch a spider repair its dreamcatcher
and say good luck.
And the stars don't really give a damn
how they shine deep in my dark inner spaces.
Everything is so perfectly entranced with being itself
I wonder what it is about a human
that has to take time out like me
to reconsider what I'm doing here
wandering around on the earth
without any certain purpose
other than the ones I make up like poems
to spin bedtime stories out of my nightmares.
A birch leans out over the water
like a woman washing her hair in the river
and I sense there's an inevitability about a tree
that isn't like me.
I can't find a fixed reality
to be in harmony with.
I have no doubt the rocks along the shore
are getting it right
but with me consciousness is a light
that contradicts its own clarity
the moment it reveals itself.
There is no path to follow
no way to flow
no aspiration to fulfill
that isn't pure folly.
Or just another way of running out of myself
like sand in an hourglass
piling up pyramids
until I've exhausted myself like Sisyphus
rolling stones uphill.
And then I'm overturned like an empty shotglass
to begin again
or just sit here by the river like an amphibian
and let the universe do what it wants to my brain
without assuming it wants to do anything
or that the damage hasn't already been done.
A new way to be partially whole!
Flesh and blood with a mineral soul!
Prophetic tents full of snakeoil salesmen.
But I've never been tempted
by things I couldn't give my heart to
and the curse of spiritual valium
is the same as it is on earth.
The withdrawal is as dangerous
as following the addiction
all the way through
to the emergency ward in heaven
that handed out the prescription in the first place.
It isn't the soul of a butterfly I see
when I look the money-maggots in the mouth.
I'm not praying for an afterlife that's worthy of me
as if anyone knew what that amounts to.
What would you suggest
for an agony of snakes in a bag of skin
that's got nine holes in it?
The tears I've wept for the world
have all turned into serpents.
The tears I've wept for myself
watered the roots of a mirage
in a desert where the stars
burn your eyes like sand
and turn your blood to glass.
I wonder if the birch knows
what's passing it by.
If the river is its mindstream.
And then it comes to me
like a message in a bottle.
Maybe my sole purpose on earth is passage.
Maybe I'm just time looking for a reason for itself
to go on like a season that's known by the way it changes
by always being estranged from itself.
Maybe I'm the more-than-me I can't conceive of.
Maybe all these things seem
self-possessed in their tranquility
because I'm a mess.
Maybe my being as screwed-up as I am
helps get them through it
and all my pain and turbulence
all my preposterous longings
to be well-meaning and beautiful
all the black elixirs of the ruthless mystery
I've drunk from my own skull
held up to the gods
like the begging bowl of the moon
when it's full
just to see if the darkness tastes of light
the way a lump of coal
foreshadows diamonds to come
after aeons of excruciating transformations
and if there's more room for chaos on a calendar
than there is space in the scheme of things for thought.
But there I go again.
You see what I mean?
Fish jumping out of the stream at the stars
that lure them up out of their depths
like low-flying insects
to take one great leap into a new medium
out of themselves
like an arrow through the back of a bulls-eye of ripples
it didn't know it was aiming at.
But things are getting too elaborate
and at this rate I'll soon be speaking in voices
like some right-brained polyglot in a rapture of saying
going on like the Rosetta Stone
as if I weren't sitting here alone
like the misbegotten seventh son of zero
trying to come to terms
with a formless reality
I keep stubbing my heart on.
Mahaprajnaparamita.
Great wisdom for the further shore.
Gone! Gone! Gone!
Altogether gone beyond.
Isn't that what the Buddha said
in his secret place
when he went out of his head
trying to stare the world in the face
and all he could see was Venus in the dawn?
Desire and its afterbirth
at the beginning of nothing at all?
An insight into what's unearthly about the eternal
or just the way the light's bent by an atmosphere?
To those who can't let go of things
and to those who cling to letting go
impermanence is suffering
and the only way to cure that
is to pour yourself out upon the earth
like the bitter cup of the moon
when she's had enough of herself
and find peace
in the sweet potential of your emptiness
to be filled up again.
To sit here in a secret place
like I do
tangled in my human roots
with waterlilies on my brain
strung out all the way from earth to Venus
like a chain of thought
severed in the distant past
we had resolved would never come between us.
Where is the peace?
Where does that flower bloom
that's rooted in blood and starmud
if not in the solitude of a human heart
that's wandered this far from home
along the shores of its longing to return?
Why does my heart argue
against the will of the world
like a salmon swimming upstream
on the down slope of a cosmic mountain?
I'm not trying to scheme my way out of
my dream of this
like someone who turns his back on his eyes.
I'm sick of lies.
I'm sick of universal truths.
I'm sick of how blithely everything obliges death
with every second breath.
I'm sick of the grailquest.
I'm sick of the hypocritical crusades.
I'm sick of Aztecs and Christians
with the blood of gods and children on their lips.
I'm sick of atheists who claim it's lipstick.
The lightbulb in the well on the moon
to keep the water from freezing up
has gone out
and I'm sick of the way things don't flow anymore
like a tide in a sea of shadows
like the road of ghosts
through the cold dark vacant interstellar spaces
of an enlightened lunatic with a creative abyss for a heart.
I'm sick of the bitter black ghost bread of my art
that tastes like the futility of burnt paper.
I'm sick of trying to understand
what isn't understandable
about my own and human nature.
I'm sick of all these long incommensurable interminable questions
I've walked all the way to the end of time and again
only to return with an ambiguous answer
that's rarely communicable through form.
In all humility
take the low place like the sea
and the sewage of the world runs down into me.
Take the high like the open sky
and the mountain turns into a mudslide.
The best is to be here right now as I am
with all my dilemmas answers contradictions
insights questions and aspirations,
all the paradoxical sorrows that have come
of my physical assurance that life is joy
and ultimate unity is bliss
without the oxymorons
and love's a deeper insight into life than death
if only by a breath
and though why we're here in the first place
is anyone's good guess
intelligence is not the anti-Christ of chaos
but the genius of dark matter becoming aware of itself
like a hidden secret that wished to be known.
What is dark will appear light
if you surround it with something darker
like a star shining in daylight
no one notices
until the night reveals it
like a wolf that lies down with the lamb.
And the best is to be wholly here right now as I am.

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