ERE Beowulf's song
Was heard from the ships,
Ere Roland had set
The horn to his lips:
In Ogham strokes
A name was writ:
That name his name
Lives in yet.
The strokes on the edge
Of the stone might count
The acres he has
On this bare mount;
But he remembers
And knows that he is
Of the seed of Eoin.
The Seed And The Tree
Who can say for sure as to what came first: the seed or the tree?
If the seed came first where did it come from if not from the tree?
But then if the tree came first where did it come from except from a seed!
So then you'll have to re-ask again that question of the origin of the seed.
An endless circle with no logical conclusion soon appears
until one looks beyond the seed and the tree that it bears.
Although the seed comes from the tree and the tree from the seed
each one grows in the ground of mother Earth which both does feed.
The Earth is the womb of everything living and supports all we know
and then becomes the tomb back into which all forms one day must go.
The underlying essence of all nature is of consciousness-energy-intelligence
that includes and sustains all things despite our ever incessant belligerence.
Has anyone ever heard it said that God is in the form of the world
and so all within it carries a divine spark from which it has swirled.
God is the infinite eternal seed of all existence and can be experienced like this:
usually as an overwhelming love within us and as all power, knowledge and bliss.
So the seed and tree came from the Earth which itself has come from and exists in God
and to enquire where God has come from is useless if we haven't transcended this sod.
The limited mind of man has to merge into that unlimited universal mind of the Creator
only then can we know the original cause or final end of everything and of their Maker.
This should remind one of the other similar paradox being that of 'the chicken and the egg'.
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about Earth
- quotes about energy
- quotes about food
- quotes about questions
- quotes about nature
- quotes about intellect
- quotes about strength
Grass From The Battle-Field
Of withered grass, that hast not yet revealed
Thy story, lo! I see thee once more green
And growing on the battle-field,
On that last day that ever thou didst grow!
I look down thro' thy blades and see between
A little lifted clover leaf
Stand like a cresset: and I know
If this were morn there should be seen
In its chalice such a gem
As decks no mortal diadem
Poised with a lapidary skill
Which merely living doth fulfil
And pass the exquisite strain of subtlest human will.
But in the sun it lifteth up
A dry unjewelled cup,
Therefore I see that day doth not begin;
And yet I know its beaming lord
Hath not yet passed the hill of noon,
Or thy lush blades
Would be more dry and thin,
And every blade a thirsty sword
Edged with the sharp desire that soon
Should draw the silver blood of all the shades.
I feel 't is summer. This whereon I stand
Is not a hill, nor, as I think, a vale;
The soil is soft upon the generous land,
Yet not as where the meeting streams take hand
Under the mossy mantle of the dale.
Such grass is for the meadow. If I try
To lift my heavy eyelids, as in dreams
A power is on them, and I know not why.
Thou art but part; the whole is unconfest:
Beholding thee I long to know the rest.
As one expands the bosom with a sigh,
I stretch my sight's horizon; but it seems,
Ere it can widen round the mystery,
To close in swift contraction, like the breast.
The air is held, as by a charm,
In an enforcèd silence, as like sound
As the dead man the living. 'T is so still,
I listen for it loud.
And when I force my eyes from thy sole place
And see a wider space,
In ragged glory like a torn
And golden-natured cloud,
O'er the dim field a living smoke is warm;
As in a city on a sabbath morn
The hot and summer sunshine goes abroad
Swathed in the murky air,
As if a god
Enrobed himself in common flesh and blood,
Our heavy flesh and blood,
And here and there
Thro' the dull lagging limbs of mortal make,
That keep unequal time, the swifter essence brake.
But hark a bugle horn!
And, ere it ceases, such a shock
As if the plain were iron, and thereon
An iron hammer, heavy as a hill,
Swung by a monstrous force, in stroke came down
And deafened Heaven. I feel a swound
Of every sense bestunned.
The rent ground seems to rock,
And all the definite vision, in such wise
As a dead giant borne on a swift river,
Seems sliding off for ever,
When my reviving eyes,
As one that holds a spirit by his eye
With set inexorable stare,
Fix thee: and so I catch, as by the hair,
The form of that great dream that else had drifted by.
I know not what that form may be;
The lock I hold is all I see,
And thou, small sheaf! art all the battle-field to me.
The wounded silence hath not time to heal
When see! upon thy sod
The round stroke of a charger's heel
With echoing thunder shod!
As the night-lightning shows
A mole upon a momentary face,
So, as that gnarled hoof strikes the indented place,
I see it, and it goes!
And I hear the squadrons trot thro' the heavy shell and shot,
And wheugh! but the grass is gory!
Forward ho! blow to blow, at the foe in they go,
And 'tis hieover heigho for glory!
The rushing storm is past,
But hark! upon its track the far drums beat,
And all the earth that at thy roots thou hast
Stirs, shakes, shocks, sounds, with quick strong tramp of feet
In time unlike the last.
Footing to tap of drum
The charging columns come;
And as they come their mighty martial sound
Blows on before them as a flaming fire
Blows in the wind; for, as old Mars in ire
Strode o'er the world encompassed in a cloud,
So the swift legion, o'er the quaking ground,
Strode in a noise of battle. Nigh and nigher
I heard it, like the long swell gathering loud
What-time a land-wind blowing from the main
Blows to the burst of fury and is o'er,
As if an ocean on one fatal shore
Fell in a moment whole, and threw its roar
Whole to the further sea: and as the strain
Of my strong sense cracked in the deafened ear,
And all the rushing tumult of the plain
Topped its great arch above me, a swift foot
Was struck between thy blades to the struck root,
And lifted: as into a sheath
A sudden sword is thrust and drawn again
Ere one can gasp a breath.
I was so near,
I saw the wrinkles of the leather grain,
The very cobbler's stitches, and the wear
By which I knew the wearer trod not straight;
An honest shoe it seemed that had been good
To mete the miles of any country lane,
Nor did one sign explain
'T was made to wade thro' blood.
My shoe, soft footstooled on this hearth, so far
From strife, hath such a patch, and as he past
His broken shoelace whipt his eager haste.
An honest shoe, good faith! that might have stood
Upon the threshold of a village inn
And welcomed all the world: or by the byre
And barn gone peaceful till the day closed in,
And, scraped at eve upon some homely gate,
Ah, Heaven! might sit beside a cottage fire
And touch the lazy log to softer flames than war.
Long, long, thou wert alone,
I thought thy days were done,
Flat as ignoble grass that lies out mown
By peaceful hands in June, I saw thee lie.
A worm crawled o'er thee, and the gossamer
That telegraphs Queen Mab to Oberon,
Lengthening his living message, passed thee by.
But rain fell: and thy strawed blades one by one
Began to stir and stir.
And as some moorland bird
Whom the still hunter's stalking steps have stirred,
When he stands mute, and nothing more is heard,
With slow succession and reluctant art
Grows upward from her bed,
Each move a muffled start,
And thro' the silent autumn covert red
Uplifts a throbbing head
That times the ambushed hunter's thudding heart;
Or as a snow-drop bending low
Beneath a flake of other snow
Thaws to its height when spring winds melt the skies,
And drip by drip doth mete a measured rise;
Or as the eyelids of a child's fair eyes
Lift from her lower lashes slow and pale
To arch the wonder of a fairy tale;
So thro' the western light
I saw thee slowly rearing to thy height.
Then when thou hadst regained thy state,
And while a meadow-spider with three lines
Enschemed thy three tall pillars green,
And made the enchanted air between
Mortal with shining signs,
(For the loud carrion-flies were many and late),
Betwixt thy blades and stems
There fell a hand,
Soft, small and white, and ringed with gold and gems;
And on those stones of price
I saw a proud device,
And words I could not understand.
Idly, one by one,
The knots of anguish came undone,
The fingers stretched as from a cramp of woe,
And sweet and slow
Moved to gracious shapes of rest,
Like a curl of soft pale hair
Drying in the sun.
And then they spread,
And sought a wonted greeting in the air,
Between thy blades, and with each blade
As with meeting fingers played
And tresses long and fair.
Then again at placid length it lay,
Stretched as to kisses of accustomed lips;
And again in sudden strain
Sprang, falling clenched with pain,
Till the knuckles white,
Thro' the evening gray,
Whitened and whitened as the snowy tips
Of far hills glimmer thro' the night.
But who shall tell that agony
That beat thee, beat thee into bloody clay
Red as the sards and rubies of the rings;
As when a bird, fast by the fowler's net,
A moment doth forget
His fetters, and with desperate wings
A-sudden springs and falls,
And (while from happy clouds the skylark calls)
Still feebler springs
And fainter falls,
And still untamed upon the gory ground
With failing strength renews his deadly wound?
At length the struggle ceased; and my fixed eye
Perceived that every finger wan
Did quiver like the quivering fan
Of a dying butterfly,
Nor long I watched until
Even the humming in the air was still.
Then I gazed and gazed,
Nor once my aching eyeballs raised
Till a poor bird that had a meadow nest
Came down, and like a shadow ran
Among the shadowy grass.
I followed with mine eyes; and with a strain
Pursued her, till six cubits' length beyond
Thy central sheaf, I found
A sight I could not pass.
The hacked and haggard head
Of a huge war-horse dead.
The evening haze hung o'er him like a breath,
And still in death
He stretched drawn lips of rage that grinned in vain;
A sparrow chirped upon
His wound, and in his dying slaver fed,
Or picked those teeth of stone
That bit with lifeless jaws the purple tongue of pain.
But I remembered that dead hand
I left to trace the childless lark,
And back o'er those six cubits of grass-land,
Blade by blade, and stalk by stalk,
As one doth walk
Who, mindful, counts by dark
Along the garden palings to the gate,
I felt along the vision to where late
There lay that dead hand white;
But now methought that there was something more
Than when I looked before,
And what was more was sweeter than the rest;
As when upon the moony half of night
Aurora lays a living light,
Softer than moonshine, yet more bright.
And as I looked I was aware
Another hand was on the hand,
A smaller hand, more fair
But not more white, as is the warm delight
That curves and curls and coyly glows
About the blushing heart of the white rose
More fair but not more white
Than those broad beauties that expand
And fall, and falling blanch the morning air.
Both hands lay motionless,
The living on the dead. But by and by
The living hand began to move and press
The cold dead flesh, and took its silent way
So often o'er the unrespective clay,
In such long-drawn caress
Of pleading passion, such an ecstacy
Of supplicating touch, that as they lay
So like, so unlike, twined with the fond art
And all the dear delay
And dreadful patience of a desperate heart,
Methought that to the tenement
From which it lately went,
The naked life had come back, and did try
By every gate to enter. While I thought,
With sudden clutch of new intent
The living grasp had caught
The dead compliance. Slowly thro'
The dusky air she raised it, and aloft,
While all her fingers soft
And every starting vein
Tightened as in a rack of pain,
Held it one straining moment fixed and mute,
And let it go.
And with a thud upon the sod,
It fell like falling fruit.
Then there came a cry,
Tearless, bloodless, dry
Of every sap of sorrow but its own-
It had no likeness among living cries;
And to my heart my streaming blood was blown
As if before my eyes
A dead man sprang up dead, and dead fell down.
The carrion-hunting winds that prowl the wold,
Frenzied for prey, sweep in and bear it on,
Far, far and further thro' the shrieking cold,
And still the yelling pack devour it as they run.
And silence, like a want of air,
Was round me, and my sense burned low,
And darkness darkened; and the glow
Of the living hand being gone,
The dead hand showed like a pale stone
Full fathom five
Under a quiet bay.
But still my sight did dive
To reach it where it lay,
And still the night grew dark, and by degrees
The dead thing glimmered with a drownèd light,
As faces seem and sink in depths of darkening seas.
Then, while yet
My set eyes saw it, as the sage doth set
His glass to some dim glimpse afar
That palpitates from mote to star,
It was touched and hid;
Touched and hid, as when a deep sea-weed
Hides some white sea-sorrow. All
My sight uprose, and all my soul
(As one who presses at the pane
When a city show goes by),
Crowded into the fixed eye,
And filled the starting ball.
Nor filled in vain.
I began to feel
The air had something to reveal.
Beyond the blank indifference
Was underlined another sense,
Was rained a gracious influence;
And tho' the darkness was so deep,
I knew it was not wholly dead,
Nor empty, as we feel in sleep
That some one standeth by the bed.
I beheld, as who should look
In trance upon a sealèd book.
I perceived that in a place
The night was lighter, as the face
Of an Indian Queen when love
Draws back the dark blood from her sick
Behind the sable curtain that doth not move.
No outer light was shed,
But as the mystery
Before my stronger will did slowly yield,
I saw, as in that dark hour before morn
When the shocks of harvest corn
Exhale about the midnight field
The wealth of yellow suns, and breathe a gentle day.
I saw the shape of a fair bended head,
And hair pale streaming long and low
Veiling the face I might not know,
And dabbling all the ground with sweet uncertain woe.
Much I questioned in my mind
Of her form and kind,
But my stern compelling eye
Brought no other answer from the air,
Nor did my rude hand dare
Profane that agony.
I watched apart
With such a sweet awe in my heart
As looks up dumb into the sky
When that goddess, lorn and lone,
Who slew grim winter like a polar bear,
And threw his immemorial white
Upon her granite throne,
Sits all unseen as Death,
Save for the loss of many a hidden star
And for the wintry mystery of her breath,
And at a far-sight that she sees,
Bowed by her great despair,
Bendeth her awful head upon her knees,
And all her wondrous hair
Dishevels golden down the northern night.
At length my weary gaze
Rents: and, haze in haze
Pervolving as in glad release,
I saw each separate shade
Slide from his place and fade,
And all the flowering dark did winter back
Into its undistinguished black.
So the sculptor doth in fancy make
His formèd image in the formless stone,
And while his spells compel,
Can see it there full well,
The ivory kernel in the ivory shell,
But shakes himself and all the god is gone.
And have I seen thee but an hour?
And shalt thou never tell
Thy story, oh thou broken flower,
Thou midnight asphodel
Among the battle grass?
Too soon! too soon!
But while I bid thee stay,
Night, like a cloud, dissolves into the day,
And from the city clock I hear the stroke of noon.
- quotes about drawing
- quotes about grass
- quotes about telegraph
- quotes about white
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- quotes about height
- quotes about pain
- quotes about wind
From The Cuckoo And The Nightingale
The God of Love-'ah, benedicite!'
How mighty and how great a Lord is he!
For he of low hearts can make high, of high
He can make low, and unto death bring nigh;
And hard-hearts he can make them kind and free.
Within a little time, as hath been found,
He can make sick folk whole and fresh and sound:
Them who are whole in body and in mind,
He can make sick,-bind can he and unbind
All that he will have bound, or have unbound.
To tell his might my wit may not suffice;
Foolish men he can make them out of wise;-
For he may do all that he will devise;
Loose livers he can make abate their vice,
And proud hearts can make tremble in a trice.
In brief, the whole of what he will, he may;
Against him dare not any wight say nay;
To humble or afflict whome'er he will,
To gladden or to grieve, he hath like skill;
But most his might he sheds on the eve of May.
For every true heart, gentle heart and free,
That with him is, or thinketh so to be,
Now against May shall have some stirring-whether
To joy, or be it to some mourning; never
At other time, methinks, in like degree.
For now when they may hear the small birds' song,
And see the budding leaves the branches throng,
This unto their remembrance doth bring
All kinds of pleasure mixed with sorrowing;
And longing of sweet thoughts that ever long.
And of that longing heaviness doth come,
Whence oft great sickness grows of heart and home:
Sick are they all for lack of their desire;
And thus in May their hearts are set on fire,
So that they burn forth in great martyrdom.
In sooth, I speak from feeling, what though now
Old am I, and to genial pleasure slow;
Yet have I felt of sickness through the May,
Both hot and cold, and heart-aches every day,-
How hard, alas! to bear, I only know.
Such shaking doth the fever in me keep
Through all this May that I have little sleep;
And also 'tis not likely unto me,
That any living heart should sleepy be
In which Love's dart its fiery point doth steep.
But tossing lately on a sleepless bed,
I of a token thought which Lovers heed;
How among them it was a common tale,
That it was good to hear the Nightingale,
Ere the vile Cuckoo's note be uttered.
And then I thought anon as it was day,
I gladly would go somewhere to essay
If I perchance a Nightingale might hear,
For yet had I heard none, of all that year,
And it was then the third night of the May.
And soon as I a glimpse of day espied,
No longer would I in my bed abide,
But straightway to a wood that was hard by,
Forth did I go, alone and fearlessly,
And held the pathway down by a brookside;
Till to a lawn I came all white and green,
I in so fair a one had never been.
The ground was green, with daisy powdered over;
Tall were the flowers, the grove a lofty cover,
All green and white; and nothing else was seen.
There sate I down among the fair fresh flowers,
And saw the birds come tripping from their bowers,
Where they had rested them all night; and they,
Who were so joyful at the light of day,
Began to honour May with all their powers.
Well did they know that service all by rote,
And there was many and many a lovely note,
Some, singing loud, as if they had complained;
Some with their notes another manner feigned;
And some did sing all out with the full throat.
They pruned themselves, and made themselves right gay,
Dancing and leaping light upon the spray;
And ever two and two together were,
The same as they had chosen for the year,
Upon Saint Valentine's returning day.
Meanwhile the stream, whose bank I sate upon,
Was making such a noise as it ran on
Accordant to the sweet Birds' harmony;
Methought that it was the best melody
Which ever to man's ear a passage won.
And for delight, but how I never wot,
I in a slumber and a swoon was caught,
Not all asleep and yet not waking wholly;
And as I lay, the Cuckoo, bird unholy,
Broke silence, or I heard him in my thought.
And that was right upon a tree fast by,
And who was then ill satisfied but I?
Now, God, quoth I, that died upon the rood,
From thee and thy base throat, keep all that's good,
Full little joy have I now of thy cry.
And, as I with the Cuckoo thus 'gan chide,
In the next bush that was me fast beside,
I heard the lusty Nightingale so sing,
That her clear voice made a loud rioting,
Echoing thorough all the green wood wide.
Ah! good sweet Nightingale! for my heart's cheer,
Hence hast thou stayed a little while too long;
For we have had the sorry Cuckoo here,
And she hath been before thee with her song;
Evil light on her! she hath done me wrong.
But hear you now a wondrous thing, I pray;
As long as in that swooning-fit I lay,
Methought I wist right well what these birds meant,
And had good knowing both of their intent,
And of their speech, and all that they would say.
The Nightingale thus in my hearing spake:-
Good Cuckoo, seek some other bush or brake,
And, prithee, let us that can sing dwell here;
For every wight eschews thy song to hear,
Such uncouth singing verily dost thou make.
What! quoth she then, what is't that ails thee now?
It seems to me I sing as well as thou;
For mine's a song that is both true and plain,-
Although I cannot quaver so in vain
As thou dost in thy throat, I wot not how.
All men may understanding have of me,
But, Nightingale, so may they not of thee;
For thou hast many a foolish and quaint cry:-
Thou say'st OSEE, OSEE, then how may I
Have knowledge, I thee pray, what this may be?
Ah, fool! quoth she, wist thou not what it is?
Oft as I say OSEE, OSEE, I wis,
Then mean I, that I should be wonderous fain
That shamefully they one and all were slain,
Whoever against Love mean aught amiss.
And also would I that they all were dead,
Who do not think in love their life to lead;
For who is loth the God of Love to obey,
Is only fit to die, I dare well say,
And for that cause OSEE I cry; take heed!
Ay, quoth the Cuckoo, that is a quaint law,
That all must love or die; but I withdraw,
And take my leave of all such company,
For mine intent it neither is to die,
Nor ever while I live Love's yoke to draw.
For lovers of all folk that be alive,
The most disquiet have and least do thrive;
Most feeling have of sorrow woe and care,
And the least welfare cometh to their share;
What need is there against the truth to strive?
What! quoth she, thou art all out of thy mind,
That in thy churlishness a cause canst find
To speak of Love's true Servants in this mood;
For in this world no service is so good
To every wight that gentle is of kind.
For thereof comes all goodness and all worth;
All gentiless and honour thence come forth;
Thence worship comes, content and true heart's pleasure,
And full-assured trust, joy without measure,
And jollity, fresh cheerfulness, and mirth;
And bounty, lowliness, and courtesy,
And seemliness, and faithful company,
And dread of shame that will not do amiss;
For he that faithfully Love's servant is,
Rather than be disgraced, would chuse to die.
And that the very truth it is which I
Now say-in such belief I'll live and die;
And Cuckoo, do thou so, by my advice.
Then, quoth she, let me never hope for bliss,
If with that counsel I do e'er comply.
Good Nightingale! thou speakest wondrous fair,
Yet for all that, the truth is found elsewhere;
For Love in young folk is but rage, I wis:
And Love in old folk a great dotage is;
Who most it useth, him 'twill most impair.
For thereof come all contraries to gladness!
Thence sickness comes, and overwhelming sadness,
Mistrust and jealousy, despite, debate,
Dishonour, shame, envy importunate,
Pride, anger, mischief, poverty, and madness.
Loving is aye an office of despair,
And one thing is therein which is not fair;
For whoso gets of love a little bliss,
Unless it alway stay with him, I wis
He may full soon go with an old man's hair.
And, therefore, Nightingale! do thou keep nigh,
For trust me well, in spite of thy quaint cry,
If long time from thy mate thou be, or far,
Thou'lt be as others that forsaken are;
Then shalt thou raise a clamour as do I.
Fie, quoth she, on thy name, Bird ill beseen!
The God of Love afflict thee with all teen,
For thou art worse than mad a thousand fold;
For many a one hath virtues manifold,
Who had been nought, if Love had never been.
For evermore his servants Love amendeth,
And he from every blemish them defendeth;
And maketh them to burn, as in a fire,
In loyalty, and worshipful desire,
And, when it likes him, joy enough them sendeth.
Thou Nightingale! the Cuckoo said, be still,
For Love no reason hath but his own will;-
For to th' untrue he oft gives ease and joy;
True lovers doth so bitterly annoy,
He lets them perish through that grievous ill.
With such a master would I never be;
For he, in sooth, is blind, and may not see,
And knows not when he hurts and when he heals;
Within this court full seldom Truth avails,
So diverse in his wilfulness is he.
Then of the Nightingale did I take note,
How from her inmost heart a sigh she brought,
And said, Alas! that ever I was born,
Not one word have I now, I am so forlorn,-
And with that word, she into tears burst out.
Alas, alas! my very heart will break,
Quoth she, to hear this churlish bird thus speak
Of Love, and of his holy services;
Now, God of Love; thou help me in some wise,
That vengeance on this Cuckoo I may wreak.
And so methought I started up anon,
And to the brook I ran and got a stone,
Which at the Cuckoo hardily I cast,
And he for dread did fly away full fast;
And glad, in sooth, was I when he was gone.
And as he flew, the Cuckoo, ever and aye,
Kept crying 'Farewell!-farewell, Popinjay!'
As if in scornful mockery of me;
And on I hunted him from tree to tree,
Till he was far, all out of sight, away.
Then straightway came the Nightingale to me,
And said, Forsooth, my friend, do I thank thee,
That thou wert near to rescue me; and now,
Unto the God of Love I make a vow,
That all this May I will thy songstress be.
Well satisfied, I thanked her, and she said,
By this mishap no longer be dismayed,
Though thou the Cuckoo heard, ere thou heard'st me;
Yet if I live it shall amended be,
When next May comes, if I am not afraid.
And one thing will I counsel thee also,
The Cuckoo trust not thou, nor his Love's saw;
All that she said is an outrageous lie.
Nay, nothing shall me bring thereto, quoth I,
For Love, and it hath done me mighty woe.
Yea, hath it? use, quoth she, this medicine;
This May-time, every day before thou dine,
Go look on the fresh daisy; then say I,
Although for pain thou may'st be like to die,
Thou wilt be eased, and less wilt droop and pine.
And mind always that thou be good and true,
And I will sing one song, of many new,
For love of thee, as loud as I may cry;
And then did she begin this song full high,
'Beshrew all them that are in love untrue.'
And soon as she had sung it to the end,
Now farewell, quoth she, for I hence must wend;
And, God of Love, that can right well and may,
Send unto thee as mickle joy this day,
As ever he to Lover yet did send.
Thus takes the Nightingale her leave of me;
I pray to God with her always to be,
And joy of love to send her evermore;
And shield us from the Cuckoo and her lore,
For there is not so false a bird as she.
Forth then she flew, the gentle Nightingale,
To all the Birds that lodged within that dale,
And gathered each and all into one place;
And them besought to hear her doleful case,
And thus it was that she began her tale.
The Cuckoo-'tis not well that I should hide
How she and I did each the other chide,
And without ceasing, since it was daylight;
And now I pray you all to do me right
Of that false Bird whom Love can not abide.
Then spake one Bird, and full assent all gave;
This matter asketh counsel good as grave,
For birds we are-all here together brought;
And, in good sooth, the Cuckoo here is not;
And therefore we a Parliament will have.
And thereat shall the Eagle be our Lord,
And other Peers whose names are on record;
A summons to the Cuckoo shall be sent,
And judgment there be given; or that intent
Failing, we finally shall make accord.
And all this shall be done, without a nay,
The morrow after Saint Valentine's day,
Under a maple that is well beseen,
Before the chamber-window of the Queen,
At Woodstock, on the meadow green and gay.
She thanked them; and then her leave she took,
And flew into a hawthorn by that brook;
And there she sate and sung-upon that tree-
'For term of life Love shall have hold of me'-
So loudly, that I with that song awoke.
Unlearned Book and rude, as well I know,
For beauty thou hast none, nor eloquence,
Who did on thee the hardiness bestow
To appear before my Lady? but a sense
Thou surely hast of her benevolence,
Whereof her hourly bearing proof doth give;
For of all good she is the best alive.
Alas, poor Book! for thy unworthiness,
To show to her some pleasant meanings writ
In winning words, since through her gentiless,
Thee she accepts as for her service fit!
Oh! it repents me I have neither wit
Nor leisure unto thee more worth to give;
For of all good she is the best alive.
Beseech her meekly with all lowliness,
Though I be far from her I reverence,
To think upon my truth and stedfastness,
And to abridge my sorrow's violence,
Caused by the wish, as knows your sapience,
She of her liking proof to me would give;
For of all good she is the best alive.
Pleasure's Aurora, Day of gladsomeness!
Luna by night, with heavenly influence
Illumined! root of beauty and goodnesse,
Write, and allay, by your beneficence,
My sighs breathed forth in silence,-comfort give!
Since of all good, you are the best alive.
The Ride to Melrose, from The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
The Lady sought the lofty hall,
Where many a bold retainer lay,
And with jocund din among them all,
Her son pursued his infant play.
A fancied moss-trooper, the boy
The truncheon of a spear bestrode,
And round the hall right merrily
In mimic foray rode.
Even bearded knights, in arms grown old,
Share in his frolic gambols bore,
Albeit their hearts of rugged mould
Were stubborn as the steel they wore.
For the gray warriors prophesied
How the brave boy, in future war,
Should tame the Unicorn's pride,
Exalt the Crescent and the Star.XX.
The Ladye forgot her purpose high
One moment and no more;
One moment gazed with a mother's eye,
As she paused at the arched door:
Then from amid the armed train,
She called to her William of Deloraine.XXI.
A stark moss-trooping Scott was he
As e'er couch'd Border lance by knee:
Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss,
Blindfold he knew the paths to cross;
By wily turns, by desperate bounds,
Had baffled Percy's best blood-hounds;
In Eske or Liddel, fords were none,
But he would ride them, one by one;
Alike to him was time or tide,
December's snow or July's pride;
Alike to him was tide or time,
Moonless midnight or matin prime:
Steady of heart and stout of hand
As ever drove prey from Cumberland;
Five times outlawed had he been
By England's King and Scotland's Queen.XXII.
'Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
Mount thee on the wightest steed;
Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
Until thou come to fair Tweedside;
And in Melrose's holy pile
Seek thou the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.
Greet the father well from me;
Say that the fated hour is come,
And to-night he shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb:
For this will be St. Michael's night,
And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
And the Cross of bloody red
Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.XXIII
'What he gives thee, see thou keep;
Stay not thou for food or sleep:
Be it scroll or be it book,
Into it, knight, thou must not look;
If thou readest, thou art lorn!
Better hadst thou ne'er been born.'XXIV.
'O swiftly can speed my dapple-gray steed,
Which drinks of the Teviot clear;
Ere break of day,' the warrior 'gan say,
'Again will I be here:
And safer by none may thy errand be done,
Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,
Were't my neck-verse at Hairibee.'XXV.
Soon in his saddle sate he fast,
And soon the steep descent he past,
Soon cross'd the sounding barbican,
And soon the Teviot side he won.
Eastward the wooded path he rode,
Green hazels o'er his basnet nod;
He pass'd the Peel of Goldiland,
And cross'd old Borthwick's roaring strand;
Dimly he view'd the Moat-hill's mound,
Where Druid shades still flitted round:
In Hawick twinkled many a light;
Behind him soon they set in night;
And soon he spurr'd his courser keen
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.XXVI.
The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark:
'Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark.'
'For Branksome, ho!' the knight rejoin'd,
And left the friendly tower behind.
He turned him now from Teviotside,
And, guided by the tinkling rill,
Northward the dark ascent did ride,
And gained the moor at Horsliehill;
Broad on the left before him lay,
For many a mile, the Roman way.XXVII.
A moment now he slack'd his speed,
A moment breathed his panting steed;
Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band,
And loosen'd in the sheath his brand.
On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint,
Where Barnhill hew'd his bed of flint,
Who flung his outlaw'd limbs to rest
Where falcons hang their giddy nest,
Mid cliffs from whence his eagle eye
For many a league his prey could spy;
Cliffs doubling, on their echoes borne,
The terrors of the robber's horn;
Cliffs, which for many a later year
The warbling Doric reed shall hear,
When some sad swain shall teach the grove,
Ambition is no cure for love.XXVIII.
Unchallenged, thence pass'd Deloraine
To ancient Riddel's fair domain,
Where Aill, from mountains freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;
Each wave was crested with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chestnut steed.
In vain! no torrent, deep or broad,
Might bar the bold moss-trooper's road.XXIX.
At the first plunge the horse sunk low,
And the water broke o'er the saddlebow;
Above the foaming tide, I ween,
Scarce half the charger's neck was seen:
For he was barded from counter to tail,
And the rider was armed complete in mail;
Never heavier man and horse
Stemm'd a midnight torrent's force.
The warrior's very plume, I say,
Was daggled by the dashing spray:
Yet, through good heart and Our Ladye's grace,
At length he gain'd the landing-place.XXX
Now Bowden Moor the march-man won,
And sternly shook his plumed head,
As glanced his eye o'er Halidon:
For on his soul the slaughter red
Of that unhallow'd morn arose,
When first the Scott and Carr were foes;
When royal James beheld the fray,
Prize to the victor of the day;
When Home and Douglas in the van
Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,
Till gallant Cessford's heart-blood dear
Reek'd on dark Elliot's Border spear.XXXI.
In bitter mood he spurred fast,
And soon the hated heath was past:
And far beneath, in lustre wan,
Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran:
Like some tall rock with lichens gray,
Seem'd dimly huge, the dark Abbaye.
When Hawick he pass'd, had curfew rung,
Now midnight lauds were in Melrose sung.
The sound upon the fitful gale
In solemn wise did rise and fail,
Like that wild harp whose magic tone
Is waken'd by the winds alone.
But when Melrose he reach'd, 'twas silence all:
He meetly stabled his steed in stall,
And sought the convent's lonely wall.CANTO II.I.
If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin'd central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go--but go alone the while--
Then view St. David's ruin'd pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!II.
Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Little reck'd he of the scene so fair
With dagger's hilt on the wicket strong
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate--
'Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?'
'From Branksome I,' the warrior cried;
And straight the wicket open'd wide:
For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood
To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood
Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose.III.
Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod,
And noiseless step the path he trod;
The arched cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle
To hail the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.IV.
'The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says that the fated hour is come,
And that to-night I shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb.'
From sackcloth couch the monk arose,
With toil his stiffen'd limbs he rear'd;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.V.
And strangely on the knight look'd he,
And his blue eyes gleam'd wild and wide;
'And darest thou, warrior, seek to see
What heaven and hell alike would hide?
My breast in belt of iron pent,
With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn;
For threescore years, in penance spent,
My knees those flinty stones have worn;
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne'er be known.
Would'st thou thy every future year
In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
Yet wait thy latter end with fear--
Then, daring warrior, follow me!'VI.
'Penance, father, will I none;
Prayer know I hardly one;
For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
Save to patter an Ave Mary,
When I ride on a Border foray.
Other prayer can I none;
So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.'VII.
Again on the knight look'd the churchman old,
And again he sighed heavily;
For he had himself been a warrior bold,
And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long since by,
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high:
Now, slow and faint, he led the way
Where, cloister'd round, the garden lay;
The pillar'd arches were over their head,
And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead,VIII.
Spreading herbs and flowerets bright,
Glisten'd with the dew of night;
Nor herb nor floweret glisten'd there,
But was carved in the cloister-arches as fair.
The monk gazed long on the lovely moon,
Then into the night he looked forth;
And red and bright the streamers light
Were dancing in the glowing north.
So had he seen in fair Castile
The youth in glittering squadrons start;
Sudden the flying jennet wheel,
And hurl the unexpected dart.
He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright,
That spirits were riding the northern light.IX.
By a steel-clenched postern door
They enter'd now the chancel tall;
The darken'd roof rose high aloof
On pillars lofty and light and small:
The key-stone that lock'd each ribbed aisle,
Was a fleur-de-lys or a quatre-feuille;
The corbells were carved grotesque and grim;
And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim,
With base and with capital flourish'd around,
Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had bound.X
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
Around the screened altar's pale;
And there the dying lamps did burn
Before thy low and lonely urn,
O gallant chief of Otterburne!
And thine, dark knight of Liddesdale!
O fading honours of the dead!
O high ambition lowly laid!XI.
The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery combined;
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the osier wand
In many a freakish knot had twined;
Then framed a spell when the work was done,
And changed the willow wreaths to stone.
The silver light, so pale and faint,
Show'd many a prophet and many a saint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Full in the midst, his Cross of Red
Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the Apostate's pride.
The moon-beam kiss'd the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.XII.
They sate them down on a marble stone,--
A Scottish monarch slept below;--
Thus spoke the monk, in solemn tone:
'I was not always a man of woe;
For Paynim countries I have trod,
And fought beneath the Cross of God:
Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear,
And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.XIII.
'In these far climes it was my lot
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;
A wizard of such dreaded fame
That when, in Salamanca's cave,
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame!
Some of his skill he taught to me;
And, warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,
And bridled the Tweed with a eurb of stone:
But to speak them were a deadly sin;
And for having but thought them my heart within,
A treble penance must be done.XIV.
'When Michael lay on his dying bed,
His conscience was awakened;
He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed:
I was in Spain when the morning rose,
But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
The words may not again be said
That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid;
They would rend this Abbaye's messy nave,
And pile it in heaps above his grave.XV
'I swore to bury his Mighty Book,
That never mortal might therein look;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his Chief of Branksome's need:
And when that need was past and o'er,
Again the volume to restore.
I buried him on St. Michael's night,
When the bell toll'd one, and the moon was bright,
And I dug his chamber among the dead
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron's cross might over him wave,
And scare the fiends from the wizard's grave.XVI.
'It was a night of woe and dread
When Michael in the tomb I laid;
Strange sounds along the chancel pass'd,
The banners waved without a blast'--
Still spoke the monk, when the bell toll'd one!--
I tell you that a braver man
Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed;
Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread,
And his hair did bristle upon his head.XVII.
'Lo, warrior! now, the Cross of Red
Points to the grave of the mighty dead;
Within it burns a wondrous light,
To chase the spirits that love the night:
That lamp shall burn unquenchably,
Until the eternal doom shall be.'
Slow moved the monk to the broad flag-stone
Which the bloody Cross was traced upon:
He pointed to a secret nook;
An iron bar the warrior took;
And the monk made a sign with his wither'd hand,
The grave's huge portal to expand.XVIII.
With beating heart to the task he went;
His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent;
With bar of iron heaved amain
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows like rain.
It was by dint of passing strength
That he moved the messy stone at length.
I would you had been there to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream'd upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof!
No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright:
It shone like heaven's own blessed light,
And, issuing from the tomb,
Show'd the monk's cowl and visage pale,
Danced on the dark-brow'd warrior's mail,
And kiss'd his waving plume.XIX.
Before their eyes the wizard lay,
As if he had not been dead a day.
His hoary beard in silver roll'd,
He seem'd some seventy winters old;
A palmer's amice wrapp'd him round,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea:
His left hand held his Book of Might,
A silver cross was in his right,
The lamp was placed beside his knee:
High and majestic was his look,
At which the fellest fiend had shook,
And all unruffled was his face:
They trusted his soul had gotten grace.XX.
Often had William of Deloraine
Rode through the battle's bloody plain,
And trampled down the warriors slain,
And neither known remorse nor awe;
Yet now remorse and awe he own'd;
His breath came thick, his head swam round,
When this strange scene of death he saw,
Bewilder'd and unnerv'd he stood,
And the priest pray'd fervently and loud:
With eyes averted prayed he;
He might not endure the sight to see
Of the man he had loved so brotherly.XXI.
And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd,
Thus unto Deloraine he said:
'Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,
Or, warrior, we may dearly rue;
For those thou may'st not look upon,
Are gathering fast round the yawning stone!'
Then Deloraine in terror took
From the cold hand the Mighty Book,
With iron clasp'd and with iron bound:
He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd;
But the glare of the sepulchral light
Perchance had dazzled the warrior's sight.XXII.
When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb,
The night return'd in double gloom;
For the moon had gone down, and the stars were few;
And, as the knight and priest withdrew,
With wavering steps and dizzy brain,
They hardly might the postern gain.
'Tis said, as through the aisles they pass'd,
They heard strange noises on the blast;
And through the cloister-galleries small,
Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall,
Loud sobs, and laughter louder ran,
And voices unlike the voice of man;
As if the fiends kept holiday
Because these spells were brought to day.
I cannot tell how the truth may be;
I say the tale as 'twas said to me.XXIII.
`Now, hie thee hence,' the father said,
`And when we are on death-bed laid,
O may our dear Ladye and sweet St. John
Forgive our souls for the deed we have done!
The monk returned him to his cell,
And many a prayer and penance sped;
When the convent met at the noontide bell,
The Monk of St. Mary's aisle was dead!
Before the cross was the body laid
With hands clasp'd fast, as if still he pray'd.XXIV.
The knight breathed free in the morning wind,
And strove his hardihood to find:
He was glad when he pass'd the tombstones gray
Which girdle round the fair Abbaye;
For the mystic book, to his bosom prest,
Felt like a load upon his breast;
And his joints, with nerves of iron twined,
Shook like the aspen leaves in wind.
Full fain was he when the dawn of day
Began to brighten Cheviot gray;
He joy'd to see the cheerful light,
And he said Ave Mary as well as he might.
Hippodromania; Or, Whiffs From The Pipe
Visions in the Smoke
Rest, and be thankful! On the verge
Of the tall cliff rugged and grey,
But whose granite base the breakers surge,
And shiver their frothy spray,
Outstretched, I gaze on the eddying wreath
That gathers and flits away,
With the surf beneath, and between my teeth
The stem of the 'ancient clay'.
With the anodyne cloud on my listless eyes,
With its spell on my dreamy brain,
As I watch the circling vapours rise
From the brown bowl up to the sullen skies,
My vision becomes more plain,
Till a dim kaleidoscope succeeds
Through the smoke-rack drifting and veering,
Like ghostly riders on phantom steeds
To a shadowy goal careering.
In their own generation the wise may sneer,
They hold our sports in derision;
Perchance to sophist, or sage, or seer,
Were allotted a graver vision.
Yet if man, of all the Creator plann'd,
His noblest work is reckoned,
Of the works of His hand, by sea or by land,
The horse may at least rank second.
Did they quail, those steeds of the squadrons light,
Did they flinch from the battle's roar,
When they burst on the guns of the Muscovite,
By the echoing Black Sea shore?
On! on! to the cannon's mouth they stride,
With never a swerve nor a shy,
Oh! the minutes of yonder maddening ride,
Long years of pleasure outvie!
No slave, but a comrade staunch, in this,
Is the horse, for he takes his share,
Not in peril alone, but in feverish bliss,
And in longing to do and dare.
Where bullets whistle, and round shot whiz,
Hoofs trample, and blades flash bare,
God send me an ending as fair as his
Who died in his stirrups there!
The wind has slumbered throughout the day,
Now a fitful gust springs over the bay,
My wandering thoughts no longer stray,
I'll fix my overcoat buttons;
Secure my old hat as best I may
(And a shocking bad one it is, by the way),
Blow a denser cloud from my stunted clay,
And then, friend BELL, as the Frenchmen say,
We'll 'go back again to our muttons'.
There's a lull in the tumult on yonder hill,
And the clamour has grown less loud,
Though the Babel of tongues is never still,
With the presence of such a crowd.
The bell has rung. With their riders up
At the starting post they muster,
The racers stripp'd for the 'Melbourne Cup',
All gloss and polish and lustre;
And the course is seen, with its emerald sheen,
By the bright spring-tide renew'd,
Like a ribbon of green stretched out between
The ranks of the multitude.
The flag is lowered. 'They're off!' 'They come!'
The squadron is sweeping on;
A sway in the crowd-a murmuring hum:
'They're here!' 'They're past!' 'They're gone!'
They came with the rush of the southern surf,
On the bar of the storm-girt bay;
And like muffled drums on the sounding turf
Their hoof-strokes echo away.
The rose and black draws clear of the ruck,
And the murmur swells to a roar,
As the brave old colours that never were struck,
Are seen with the lead once more.
Though the feathery ferns and grasses wave
O'er the sod where Lantern sleeps,
Though the turf is green on Fisherman's grave,
The stable its prestige keeps.
Six lengths in front she scours along,
She's bringing the field to trouble;
She's tailing them off, she's running strong,
She shakes her head and pulls double.
Now Minstrel falters and Exile flags,
The Barb finds the pace too hot,
And Toryboy loiters, and Playboy lags,
And the BOLT of Ben Bolt is shot.
That she never may be caught this day,
Is the worst that the public wish her.
She won't be caught: she comes right away;
Hurrah for Seagull and Fisher!
See, Strop falls back, though his reins are slack,
Sultana begins to tire,
And the top-weight tells on the Sydney crack,
And the pace on 'the Gippsland flyer'.
The rowels, as round the turn they sweep,
Just graze Tim Whiffler's flanks;
Like the hunted deer that flies through the sheep,
He strides through the beaten ranks.
Daughter of Omen, prove your birth,
The colt will take lots of choking;
The hot breath steams at your saddle girth,
From his scarlet nostril smoking.
The shouts of the Ring for a space subside,
And slackens the bookmaker's roar;
Now, Davis, rally; now, Carter, ride,
As man never rode before.
When Sparrowhawk's backers cease to cheer,
When Yattendon's friends are dumb,
When hushed is the clamour for Volunteer-
Alone in the race they come!
They're neck and neck; they're head and head;
They're stroke for stroke in the running;
The whalebone whistles, the steel is red,
No shirking as yet nor shunning.
One effort, Seagull, the blood you boast
Should struggle when nerves are strained;-
With a rush on the post, by a neck at the most,
The verdict for Tim is gained.
Tim Whiffler wins. Is blood alone
The sine qua non for a flyer?
The breed of his dam is a myth unknown,
And we've doubts respecting his sire.
Yet few (if any) those proud names are,
On the pages of peerage or stud,
In whose 'scutcheon lurks no sinister bar,
No taint of the base black blood.
Aye, Shorthouse, laugh-laugh loud and long,
For pedigree you're a sticker;
You may be right, I may be wrong,
Wiseacres both! Let's liquor.
Our common descent we may each recall
To a lady of old caught tripping,
The fair one in fig leaves, who d--d us all
For a bite at a golden pippin.
When first on this rocky ledge I lay,
There was scarce a ripple in yonder bay,
The air was serenely still;
Each column that sailed from my swarthy clay
Hung loitering long ere it passed away,
Though the skies wore a tinge of leaden grey,
And the atmosphere was chill.
But the red sun sank to his evening shroud,
Where the western billows are roll'd,
Behind a curtain of sable cloud,
With a fringe of scarlet and gold;
There's a misty glare in the yellow moon,
And the drift is scudding fast,
There'll be storm, and rattle, and tempest soon,
When the heavens are overcast.
The neutral tint of the sullen sea
Is fleck'd with the snowy foam,
And the distant gale sighs drearilie,
As the wanderer sighs for his home.
The white sea-horses toss their manes
On the bar of the southern reef,
And the breakers moan, and-by Jove, it rains
(I thought I should come to grief):
Though it can't well damage my shabby hat,
Though my coat looks best when it's damp;
Since the shaking I got (no matter where at),
I've a mortal dread of the cramp.
My matches are wet, my pipe's put out,
And the wind blows colder and stronger;
I'll be stiff, and sore, and sorry, no doubt,
If I lie here any longer.
The Fields of Coleraine
On the fields of Col'raine there'll be labour in vain
Before the Great Western is ended,
The nags will have toil'd, and the silks will be soil'd,
And the rails will require to be mended.
For the gullies are deep, and the uplands are steep,
And mud will of purls be the token,
And the tough stringy-bark, that invites us to lark,
With impunity may not be broken.
Though Ballarat's fast, and they say he can last,
And that may be granted hereafter,
Yet the judge's decision to the Border division
Will bring neither shouting nor laughter.
And Blueskin, I've heard that he goes like a bird,
And I'm told that to back him would pay me;
He's a good bit of stuff, but not quite good enough,
'Non licuit credere famae.'
Alfred ought to be there, we all of us swear
By the blood of King Alfred, his sire;
He's not the real jam, by the blood of his dam,
So I sha'n't put him down as a flyer.
Now, Hynam, my boy, I wish you great joy,
I know that when fresh you can jump, sir;
But you'll scarce be in clover, when you're ridden all over,
And punished from shoulder to rump, sir.
Archer goes like a shot, they can put on their pot,
And boil it to cover expenses;
Their pot will boil over, the run of his dover
He'll never earn over big fences.
There's a horse in the race, with a blaze on his face,
And we know he can gallop a docker!
He's proved himself stout, of his speed there's no doubt,
And his jumping's according to Cocker.
When Hynam's outstripp'd, and when Alfred is whipp'd,
To keep him in sight of the leaders,
While Blueskin runs true, but his backers look blue,
For his rider's at work with the bleeders;
When his carcase of beef brings 'the bullock' to grief,
And the rush of the tartan is ended;
When Archer's in trouble-who's that pulling double,
And taking his leaps unextended?
He wins all the way, and the rest-sweet, they say,
Is the smell of the newly-turned plough, friend,
But you smell it too close when it stops eyes and nose,
And you can't tell your horse from your cow, friend.
Credat Judaeus Apella
Dear Bell,-I enclose what you ask in a letter,
A short rhyme at random, no more and no less,
And you may inser it, for want of a better,
Or leave it, it doesn't much matter, I guess;
And as for a tip, why, there isn't much in it,
I may hit the right nail, but first, I declare,
I haven't a notion what's going to win it
(The Champion, I mean), and what's more, I don't care.
Imprimis, there's Cowra-few nags can go quicker
Than she can-and Smith takes his oath she can fly;
While Brown, Jones, and Robinson swear she's a sticker,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.
There's old Volunteer, I'd be sorry to sneer
At his chance; he'll be there, if he goes at the rate
He went at last year, when a customer queer,
Johnny Higgerson, fancied him lock'd in the straight;
I've heard that the old horse has never been fitter,
I've heard all performances past he'll outvie;
He may gallop a docker, and finish a splitter,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.
I know what they say, sir, 'The Hook' he can stay, sir,
And stick to his work like a sleuth-hound or beagle;
He stays 'with a HOOK', and he sticks in the clay, sir;
I'd rather, for choice, pop my money on Seagull;
I'm told that the Sydney division will rue, sir,
Their rashness in front of the stand when they spy,
With a clear lead, the white jacket spotted with blue, sir,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.
There's The Barb-you may talk of your flyers and stayers,
All bosh-when he strips you can see his eye range
Round his rivals, with much the same look as Tom Sayers
Once wore when he faced the big novice, Bill Bainge.
Like Stow, at our hustings, confronting the hisses
Of roughs, with his queer Mephistopheles' smile;
Like Baker, or Baker's more wonderful MRS.,
The terror of blacks at the source of the Nile;
Like Triton 'mid minnows; like hawk among chickens;
Like-anything better than everything else:
He stands at the post. Now they're off! the plot thickens!
Quoth Stanley to Davis, 'How is your pulse?'
He skims o'er the smooth turf, he scuds through the mire,
He waits with them, passes them, bids them good-bye!
Two miles and three-quarters, cries Filgate, 'He'll tire.'
Oh! 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.
Lest my tale should come true, let me give you fair warning,
You may 'shout' some cheroots, if you like, no champagne
For this child-'Oh! think of my head in the morning,'
Old chap, you don't get me on that lay again.
The last time those games I look'd likely to try on,
Says Bradshawe, 'You'll feel very sheepish and shy
When you are haul'd up and caution'd by D--g--y and L--n,'
Oh! 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.
This writing bad verses is very fatiguing,
The brain and the liver against it combine,
And nerves with digestion in concert are leaguing,
To punish excess in the pen and ink line;
Already I feel just as if I'd been rowing
Hard all-on a supper of onions and tripe
(A thing I abhor), but my steam I've done blowing,
I am, my dear BELL, yours truly, 'The Pipe'.
P.S.-Tell J. P., if he fancies a good 'un,
That old chestnut pony of mine is for sale.
N.B.-His forelegs are uncommonly wooden,
I fancy the near one's beginning to fail,
And why shouldn't I do as W--n does oft,
And swear that a cripple is sound-on the Bible-
Hold hard! though the man I allude to is soft,
He's game to go in for an action of libel.
Of chases and courses dogs dream, so do horses-
Last night I was dozing and dreaming,
The crowd and the bustle were there, and the rustle
Of the silk in the autumn sky gleaming.
The stand throng'd with faces, the broadcloth and laces,
The booths, and the tents, and the cars,
The bookmakers' jargon, for odds making bargain,
The nasty stale smell of cigars.
We formed into line, 'neath the merry sunshine,
Near the logs at the end of the railing;
'Are you ready, boys? Go!' cried the starter, and low
Sank the flag, and away we went sailing.
In the van of the battle we heard the stones rattle,
Some slogging was done, but no slaughter,
A shout from the stand, and the whole of our band
Skimm'd merrily over the water.
Two fences we clear'd, and the roadway we near'd,
When three of our troop came to trouble;
Like a bird on the wing, or a stone from a sling,
Flew Cadger, first over the double.
And Western was there, head and tail in the air,
And Pondon was there, too-what noodle
Could so name a horse? I should feel some remorse
If I gave such a name to a poodle.
In and out of the lane, to the racecourse again,
Craig's pony was first, I was third,
And Ingleside lit in my tracks, with the bit
In his teeth, and came up 'like a bird'.
In the van of the battle we heard the rails rattle,
Says he, 'Though I don't care for shunning
My share of the raps, I shall look out for gaps,
When the light weight's away with the running.'
At the fence just ahead the outsider still led,
The chestnut play'd follow my leader;
Oh! the devil a gap, he went into it slap,
And he and his jock took a header.
Says Ingleside, 'Mate, should the pony go straight,
You've no time to stop or turn restive;'
Says I, 'Who means to stop? I shall go till I drop;'
Says he, 'Go it, old cuss, gay and festive.'
The fence stiff and tall, just beyond the log wall,
We cross'd, and the walls, and the water,-
I took off too near, a small made fence to clear,
And just touch'd the grass with my snorter.
At the next post and rail up went Western's bang tail,
And down (by the very same token)
To earth went his nose, for the panel he chose
Stood firm and refused to be broken.
I dreamt someone said that the bay would have made
The race safe if he'd STOOD a while longer;
IF he had,-but, like if, there the panel stands stiff-
He stood, but the panel stood stronger.
In and out of the road, with a clear lead still show'd
The violet fluted with amber;
Says Johnson, 'Old man, catch him now if you can,
'Tis the second time round you'll remember.'
At the road once again, pulling hard on the rein,
Craig's pony popp'd in and popp'd out;
I followed like smoke and the pace was no joke,
For his friends were beginning to shout.
And Ingleside came to my side, strong and game,
And once he appear'd to outstrip me,
But I felt the steel gore, and I shot to the fore,
Only Cadger seem'd likely to whip me.
In the van of the battle I heard the logs rattle,
His stroke never seem'd to diminish,
And thrice I drew near him, and thrice he drew clear,
For the weight served him well at the finish.
Ha! Cadger goes down, see, he stands on his crown-
Those rails take a power of clouting-
A long sliding blunder-he's up-well, I wonder
If now it's all over but shouting.
All loosely he's striding, the amateur's riding
All loosely, some reverie locked in
Of a 'vision in smoke', or a 'wayfaring bloke',
His poetical rubbish concocting.
Now comes from afar the faint cry, 'Here they are,'
'The violet winning with ease,'
'Fred goes up like a shot,' 'Does he catch him or not?'
Level money, I'll take the cerise.
To his haunches I spring, and my muzzle I bring
To his flank, to his girth, to his shoulder;
Through the shouting and yelling I hear my name swelling,
The hearts of my backers grow bolder.
Neck and neck! head and head! staring eye! nostril spread!
Girth and stifle laid close to the ground!
Stride for stride! stroke for stroke! through one hurdle we've broke!
On the splinters we've lit with one bound.
And 'Banker for choice' is the cry, and one voice
Screams 'Six to four once upon Banker;'
'Banker wins,' 'Banker's beat,' 'Cadger wins,' 'A dead heat'-
Ah! there goes Fred's whalebone a flanker.
Springs the whip with a crack! nine stone ten on his back,
Fit and light he can race like the devil;
I draw past him-'tis vain; he draws past me again,
Springs the whip! and again we are level.
Steel and cord do their worst, now my head struggles first!
That tug my last spurt has expended-
Nose to nose! lip to lip! from the sound of the whip
He strains to the utmost extended.
How they swim through the air, as we roll to the chair,
Stand, faces, and railings flit past;
Now I spring * * *
from my lair with a snort and a stare,
Rous'd by Fred with my supper at last.
Ex Fumo Dare Lucem
['Twixt the Cup and the Lip]
Calm and clear! the bright day is declining,
The crystal expanse of the bay,
Like a shield of pure metal, lies shining
'Twixt headlands of purple and grey,
While the little waves leap in the sunset,
And strike with a miniature shock,
In sportive and infantine onset,
The base of the iron-stone rock.
Calm and clear! the sea-breezes are laden
With a fragrance, a freshness, a power,
With a song like the song of a maiden,
With a scent like the scent of a flower;
And a whisper, half-weird, half-prophetic,
Comes home with the sigh of the surf;-
But I pause, for your fancies poetic
Never rise from the level of 'Turf'.
Fellow-bungler of mine, fellow-sinner,
In public performances past,
In trials whence touts take their winner,
In rumours that circulate fast,
In strains from Prunella or Priam,
Staying stayers, or goers that go,
You're much better posted than I am,
'Tis little I care, less I know.
Alas! neither poet nor prophet
Am I, though a jingler of rhymes-
'Tis a hobby of mine, and I'm off it
At times, and I'm on it at times;
And whether I'm off it or on it,
Your readers my counsels will shun,
Since I scarce know Van Tromp from Blue Bonnet,
Though I might know Cigar from the Nun.
With 'visions' you ought to be sated
And sicken'd by this time, I swear
That mine are all myths self-created,
Air visions that vanish in air;
If I had some loose coins I might chuck one,
To settle this question and say,
'Here goes! this is tails for the black one,
And heads for my fav'rite the bay.'
And must I rob Paul to pay Peter,
Or Peter defraud to pay Paul?
My rhymes, are they stale? if my metre
Is varied, one chime rings through all:
One chime-though I sing more or sing less,
I have but one string to my lute,
And it might have been better if, stringless
And songless, the same had been mute.
Yet not as a seer of visions,
Nor yet as a dreamer of dreams,
I send you these partial decisions
On hackney'd, impoverish'd themes;
But with song out of tune, sung to pass time,
Flung heedless to friends or to foes,
Where the false notes that ring for the last time,
May blend with some real ones, who knows?
On the hill they are crowding together,
In the stand they are crushing for room,
Like midge-flies they swarm on the heather,
They gather like bees on the broom;
They flutter like moths round a candle-
Stale similes, granted, what then?
I've got a stale subject to handle,
A very stale stump of a pen.
Hark! the shuffle of feet that are many,
Of voices the many-tongued clang-
'Has he had a bad night?' 'Has he any
Friends left?'-How I hate your turf slang;
'Tis stale to begin with, not witty,
But dull, and inclined to be coarse,
But bad men can't use (more's the pity)
Good words when they slate a good horse.
Heu! heu! quantus equis (that's Latin
For 'bellows to mend' with the weeds),
They're off! lights and shades! silk and satin!
A rainbow of riders and steeds!
And one shows in front, and another
Goes up and is seen in his place,
Sic transit (more Latin)-Oh! bother,
Let's get to the end of the race.
* * * * *
See, they come round the last turn careering,
Already Tait's colours are struck,
And the green in the vanguard is steering,
And the red's in the rear of the ruck!
Are the stripes in the shade doom'd to lie long?
Do the blue stars on white skies wax dim?
Is it Tamworth or Smuggler? 'Tis Bylong
That wins-either Bylong or Tim.
As the shell through the breach that is riven
And sapp'd by the springing of mines,
As the bolt from the thunder-cloud driven,
That levels the larches and pines,
Through yon mass parti-colour'd that dashes
Goal-turn'd, clad in many-hued garb,
From rear to van, surges and flashes
The yellow and black of The Barb.
Past The Fly, falling back on the right, and
The Gull, giving way on the left,
Past Tamworth, who feels the whip smite, and
Whose sides by the rowels are cleft;
Where Tim and the chestnut together
Still bear of the battle the brunt,
As if eight stone twelve were a feather,
He comes with a rush to the front.
Tim Whiffler may yet prove a Tartar,
And Bylong's the horse that can stay,
But Kean is in trouble-and Carter
Is hard on the satin-skinn'd bay;
And The Barb comes away unextended,
Hard held, like a second Eclipse,
While behind the hoof-thunder is blended
With the whistling and crackling of whips.
He wins; yes, he wins upon paper,
He hasn't yet won upon turf,
And these rhymes are but moonshine and vapour,
Air-bubbles and spume from the surf.
So be it, at least they are given
Free, gratis, for just what they're worth,
And (whatever there may be in heaven)
There's little worth much upon earth.
When, with satellites round them the centre,
Of all eyes, hard press'd by the crowd,
The pair, horse and rider, re-enter
The gate, 'mid a shout long and loud,
You may feel, as you might feel, just landed
Full length on the grass from the clip
Of a vicious cross-counter, right-handed,
Or upper-cut whizzing from hip.
And that's not so bad if you're pick'd up
Discreetly, and carefully nursed;
Loose teeth by the sponge are soon lick'd up,
And next time you MAY get home first.
Still I'm not sure you'd like it exactly
(Such tastes as a rule are acquired),
And you'll find in a nutshell this fact lie,
Bruised optics are not much admired.
Do I bore you with vulgar allusions?
Forgive me, I speak as I feel,
I've pondered and made my conclusions-
As the mill grinds the corn to the meal;
So man striving boldly but blindly,
Ground piecemeal in Destiny's mill,
At his best, taking punishment kindly,
Is only a chopping-block still.
Are we wise? Our abstruse calculations
Are based on experience long;
Are we sanguine? Our high expectations
Are founded on hope that is strong;
Thus we build an air-castle that crumbles
And drifts till no traces remain,
And the fool builds again while he grumbles,
And the wise one laughs, building again.
'How came they to pass, these rash blunders,
These false steps so hard to defend?'
Our friend puts the question and wonders,
We laugh and reply, 'Ah! my friend,
Could you trace the first stride falsely taken,
The distance misjudged, where or how,
When you pick'd yourself up, stunn'd and shaken,
At the fence 'twixt the turf and the plough?'
In the jar of the panel rebounding!
In the crash of the splintering wood!
In the ears to the earth shock resounding!
In the eyes flashing fire and blood!
In the quarters above you revolving!
In the sods underneath heaving high!
There was little to aid you in solving
Such questions-the how or the why.
And destiny, steadfast in trifles,
Is steadfast for better or worse
In great things, it crushes and stifles,
And swallows the hopes that we nurse.
Men wiser than we are may wonder,
When the future they cling to so fast,
To the roll of that destiny's thunder,
Goes down with the wrecks of the past.
* * * * *
The past! the dead past! that has swallow'd
All the honey of life and the milk,
Brighter dreams than mere pastimes we've follow'd,
Better things than our scarlet or silk;
Aye, and worse things-that past is it really
Dead to us who again and again
Feel sharply, hear plainly, see clearly,
Past days with their joy and their pain?
Like corpses embalm'd and unburied
They lie, and in spite of our will,
Our souls on the wings of thought carried,
Revisit their sepulchres still;
Down the channels of mystery gliding,
They conjure strange tales, rarely read,
Of the priests of dead Pharaohs presiding
At mystical feasts of the dead.
Weird pictures arise, quaint devices,
Rude emblems, baked funeral meats,
Strong incense, rare wines, and rich spices,
The ashes, the shrouds, and the sheets;
Does our thraldom fall short of completeness
For the magic of a charnel-house charm,
And the flavour of a poisonous sweetness,
And the odour of a poisonous balm?
And the links of the past-but, no matter,
For I'm getting beyond you, I guess,
And you'll call me 'as mad as a hatter'
If my thoughts I too freely express;
I subjoin a quotation, pray learn it,
And with the aid of your lexicon tell us
The meaning thereof-'Res discernit
Sapiens, quas confundit asellus.'
Already green hillocks are swelling,
And combing white locks on the bar,
Where a dull, droning murmur is telling
Of winds that have gather'd afar;
Thus we know not the day, nor the morrow,
Nor yet what the night may bring forth,
Nor the storm, nor the sleep, nor the sorrow,
Nor the strife, nor the rest, nor the wrath.
Yet the skies are still tranquil and starlit,
The sun 'twixt the wave and the west
Dies in purple, and crimson, and scarlet,
And gold; let us hope for the best,
Since again from the earth his effulgence
The darkness and damp-dews shall wipe.
Kind reader, extend your indulgence
To this the last lay of 'The Pipe'.
A Sermon from the Wild
On a stone wall, by the pavement
Annoyed and angry,
With daggers drawn at everyone
Sat he dejected and depressed.
Eyes so cold, mind so blank
His vision, blurred by a hazy mist,
His gaze, fixed on the horizon far
Stationed he like a block of stone
From a distance, came a barking sound
From the dog that followed its master's trail
Seeing a rodent, behind the bush
The dog was barking on and on
The mangy animal, once so loved
Now left wantonly uncared,
Violently disturbing the calm around
Irked the man, otherwise annoyed
Instant was his response.
Picking up a stone and aiming at the dog
He hurled the stone with all his might
And wow! It didn't miss the target
Hit hard by the whizzing stone
The dog twitched and yelled in pain
Licking its wound, it ran round and round
Along the concrete path, mad and wild
Until, at last it slowed down
And moved towards its master harsh
Petrified, on an impulse, he jumped down,
And fearing the worst, he closed his eyes.
But wagging its tail with a pleading look
It began licking its master's hand
The hand so rude that clutched the stone,
And flung at it, causing it to bleed
It was a gesture too deep for words
That taught the man the lesson of love;
To love others with every broken piece
Even after someone breaks your heart
After years, it still remains
The best sermon, he ever heard.
Hitherto, never ever preached
By any mortal, living or dead
Kallundborg Church ( From The Tent on the Beach)
"Tie stille, barn min!
Imorgen kommer Fin,
Og gi'er dich Esbern Snares öine og hjerte at lege med!"
"BUILD at Kallundborg by the sea
A church as stately as church may be,
And there shalt thou wed my daughter fair,"
Said the Lord of Nesvek to Esbern Snare.
And the Baron laughed. But Esbern said,
"Though I lose my soul, I will Helva wed!"
And off he strode, in his pride of will,
To the Troll who dwelt in Ulshoi hill.
"Build, O Troll, a church for me
At Kallundborg by the mighty sea;
Build it stately, and build it fair,
Build it quickly," said Esbern Snare.
But the sly Dwarf said, "No work is wrought
By Trolls of the Hills, O man, for naught.
What wilt thou give for thy church so fair?"
"Set thy own price," quoth Esbern Snare.
"When Kallundborg church is builded well,
Thou must the name of its builder tell,
Or thy heart and thy eyes must be my boon."
"Build," said Esbern, "and build it soon."
By night and by day the Troll wrought on;
He hewed the timbers, he piled the stone;
But day by day, as the walls rose fair,
Darker and sadder grew Esbern Snare.
He listened by night, he watched by day,
He sought and thought, but he dared not pray;
In vain he called on the Elle-maids shy,
And the Neck and the Nis gave no reply.
Of his evil bargain far and wide
A rumor ran through the country-side;
And Helva of Nesvek, young and fair,
Prayed for the soul of Esbern Snare.
And now the church was wellnigh done;
One pillar it lacked, and one alone;
And the grim Troll muttered, "Fool thou art!
To-morrow gives me thy eyes and heart!"
By Kallundborg in black despair,
Through wood and meadow, walked Esbern Snare,
Till, worn and weary, the strong man sank
Under the birches on Ulshoi bank.
At his last day's work he heard the Troll
Hammer and delve in the quarry's hole;
Before him the church stood large and fair:
"I have builded my tomb," said Esbern Snare.
And he closed his eyes the sight to hide,
When he heard a light step at his side:
"O Esbern Snare! a sweet voice said,
"Would I might die now in thy stead!"
With a grasp by love and by fear made strong,
He held her fast, and he held her long;
With the beating heart of a bird afeard,
She hid her face in his flame-red beard.
"O love!" he cried, "let me look to-day
In thine eyes ere mine are plucked away;
Let me hold thee close, let me feel thy heart
Ere mine by the Troll is torn apart!
"I sinned, O Helva, for love of thee!
Pray that the Lord Christ pardon me!"
But fast as she prayed, and faster still,
Hammered the Troll in Ulshoi hill.
He knew, as he wrought, that a loving heart
Was somehow baffling his evil art;
For more than spell of Elf or Troll
Is a maiden's prayer for her lover's soul.
And Esbern listened, and caught the sound
Of a Troll-wife singing underground:
"To-morrow comes Fine, father thine:
Lie still and hush thee, baby mine!
"Lie still, my darling! next sunrise
Thou'lt play with Esbern Snare's heart and eyes!"
"Ho! ho!" quoth Esbern, "is that your game?
Thanks to the Troll-wife, I know his name!"
The Troll he heard him, and hurried on
To Kallundborg church with the lacking stone.
"Too late, Gaffer Fine!" cried Esbern Snare;
And Troll and pillar vanished in air!
That night the harvesters heard the sound
Of a woman sobbing underground,
And the voice of the Hill-Troll loud with blame
Of the careless singer who told his name.
Of the Troll of the Church they sing the rune
By the Northern Sea in the harvest moon;
And the fishers of Zealand hear him still
Scolding his wife in Ulshoi hill.
And seaward over its groves of birch
Still looks the tower of Kallundborg church
Where, first at its altar, a wedded pair,
Stood Helva of Nesvek and Esbern Snare!
The Last Rhyme Of True Thomas
The King has called for priest and cup,
The King has taken spur and blade
To dub True Thomas a belted knight,
And all for the sake o' the songs he made.
They have sought him high, they have sought him low,
They have sought him over down and lea;
They have found him by the milk-white thorn
That guards the gates o' Faerie.
'Twas bent beneath and blue above,
Their eyes were held that they might not see
The kine that grazed beneath the knowes,
Oh, they were the Queens o' Faerie!
"Now cease your song," the King he said,
"Oh, cease your song and get you dight
To vow your vow and watch your arms,
For I will dub you a belted knight.
"For I will give you a horse o' pride,
Wi' blazon and spur and page and squire;
Wi' keep and tail and seizin and law,
And land to hold at your desire."
True Thomas smiled above his harp,
And turned his face to the naked sky,
Where, blown before the wastrel wind,
The thistle-down she floated by.
"I ha' vowed my vow in another place,
And bitter oath it was on me,
I ha' watched my arms the lee-long night,
Where five-score fighting men would flee.
"My lance is tipped o' the hammered flame,
My shield is beat o' the moonlight cold;
And I won my spurs in the Middle World,
A thousand fathom beneath the mould.
"And what should I make wi' a horse o' pride,
And what should I make wi' a sword so brown,
But spill the rings o' the Gentle Folk
And flyte my kin in the Fairy Town?
"And what should I make wi' blazon and belt,
Wi' keep and tail and seizin and fee,
And what should I do wi' page and squire
That am a king in my own countrie?
"For I send east and I send west,
And I send far as my will may flee,
By dawn and dusk and the drinking rain,
And syne my Sendings return to me.
"They come wi' news of the groanin' earth,
They come wi' news o' the roarin' sea,
Wi' word of Spirit and Ghost and Flesh,
And man, that's mazed among the three."
The King he bit his nether lip,
And smote his hand upon his knee:
"By the faith o' my soul, True Thomas," he said,
"Ye waste no wit in courtesie!
"As I desire, unto my pride,
Can I make Earls by three and three,
To run before and ride behind
And serve the sons o' my body."
"And what care I for your row-foot earls,
Or all the sons o' your body?
Before they win to the Pride o' Name,
I trow they all ask leave o' me.
"For I make Honour wi' muckle mouth,
As I make Shame wi' mincin' feet,
To sing wi' the priests at the market-cross,
Or run wi' the dogs in the naked street.
"And some they give me the good red gold,
And some they give me the white money,
And some they give me a clout o' meal,
For they be people o' low degree.
"And the song I sing for the counted gold
The same I sing for the white money,
But best I sing for the clout o' meal
That simple people given me."
The King cast down a silver groat,
A silver groat o' Scots money,
"If I come wi' a poor man's dole," he said,
"True Thomas, will ye harp to me?"
"Whenas I harp to the children small,
They press me close on either hand.
And who are you," True Thomas said,
"That you should ride while they must stand?
"Light down, light down from your horse o' pride,
I trow ye talk too loud and hie,
And I will make you a triple word,
And syne, if ye dare, ye shall 'noble me."
He has lighted down from his horse o' pride,
And set his back against the stone.
"Now guard you well," True Thomas said,
"Ere I rax your heart from your breast-bone!"
True Thomas played upon his harp,
The fairy harp that couldna lee,
And the first least word the proud King heard,
It harpit the salt tear out o' his ee.
"Oh, I see the love that I lost long syne,
I touch the hope that I may not see,
And all that I did o' hidden shame,
Like little snakes they hiss at me.
"The sun is lost at noon -- at noon!
The dread o' doom has grippit me.
True Thomas, hide me under your cloak,
God wot, I'm little fit to dee!"
'Twas bent beneath and blue above --
'Twas open field and running flood --
Where, hot on heath and dike and wall,
The high sun warmed the adder's brood.
"Lie down, lie down," True Thomas said.
"The God shall judge when all is done.
But I will bring you a better word
And lift the cloud that I laid on."
True Thomas played upon his harp,
That birled and brattled to his hand,
And the next least word True Thomas made,
It garred the King take horse and brand.
"Oh, I hear the tread o' the fighting men,
I see the sun on splent and spear.
I mark the arrow outen the fern
That flies so low and sings so clear!
"Advance my standards to that war,
And bid my good knights prick and ride;
The gled shall watch as fierce a fight
As e'er was fought on the Border side!"
'Twas bent beneath and blue above,
'Twas nodding grass and naked sky,
Where, ringing up the wastrel wind,
The eyas stooped upon the pie.
True Thomas sighed above his harp,
And turned the song on the midmost string;
And the last least word True Thomas made,
He harpit his dead youth back to the King.
"Now I am prince, and I do well
To love my love withouten fear;
To walk wi' man in fellowship,
And breathe my horse behind the deer.
"My hounds they bay unto the death,
The buck has couched beyond the burn,
My love she waits at her window
To wash my hands when I return.
"For that I live am I content
(Oh! I have seen my true love's eyes)
To stand wi' Adam in Eden-glade,
And run in the woods o' Paradise!"
'Twas naked sky and nodding grass,
'Twas running flood and wastrel wind,
Where, checked against the open pass,
The red deer belled to call the hind.
True Thomas laid his harp away,
And louted low at the saddle-side;
He has taken stirrup and hauden rein,
And set the King on his horse o' pride.
"Sleep ye or wake," True Thomas said,
"That sit so still, that muse so long;
Sleep ye or wake? -- till the latter sleep
I trow ye'll not forget my song.
"I ha' harpit a shadow out o' the sun
To stand before your face and cry;
I ha' armed the earth beneath your heel,
And over your head I ha' dusked the sky.
"I ha' harpit ye up to the throne o' God,
I ha' harpit your midmost soul in three;
I ha' harpit ye down to the Hinges o' Hell,
And -- ye -- would -- make -- a Knight o' me!"
From The First Act Of The Aminta Of Tasso
Daphne's Answer to Sylvia, declaring she
should esteem all as Enemies,
who should talk to her of LOVE.
THEN, to the snowy Ewe, in thy esteem,
The Father of the Flock a Foe must seem,
The faithful Turtles to their yielding Mates.
The cheerful Spring, which Love and Joy creates,
That reconciles the World by soft Desires,
And tender Thoughts in ev'ry Breast inspires,
To you a hateful Season must appear,
Whilst Love prevails, and all are Lovers here.
Observe the gentle Murmurs of that Dove,
And see, how billing she confirms her Love!
For this, the Nightingale displays her Throat,
And Love, Love, Love, is all her Ev'ning Note.
The very Tygers have their tender Hours,
And prouder Lyons bow beneath Love's Pow'rs.
Thou, prouder yet than that imperious Beast,
Alone deny'st him Shelter in thy Breast.
But why should I the Creatures only name
That Sense partake, as Owners of this Flame?
Love farther goes, nor stops his Course at these:
The Plants he moves, and gently bends the Trees.
See how those Willows mix their am'rous Boughs;
And, how that Vine clasps her supporting Spouse!
The silver Firr dotes on the stately Pine;
By Love those Elms, by Love those Beeches join.
But view that Oak; behold his rugged Side:
Yet that rough Bark the melting Flame do's hide.
All, by their trembling Leaves, in Sighs declare
And tell their Passions to the gath'ring Air.
Which, had but Love o'er Thee the least Command,
Thou, by their Motions, too might'st understand.
AMINTOR, being ask'd by THIRSIS
Who is the Object of his Love?
speaks as follows.
Amint. THIRSIS! to Thee I mean that Name to show,
Which, only yet our Groves, and Fountains know:
That, when my Death shall through the Plains be told,
Thou with the wretched Cause may'st that unfold
To every-one, who shall my Story find
Carv'd by thy Hand, in some fair Beeches rind;
Beneath whose Shade the bleeding Body lay:
That, when by chance she shall be led that way,
O'er my sad Grave the haughty Nymph may go,
And the proud Triumph of her Beauty shew
To all the Swains, to Strangers as they pass;
And yet at length she may (but Oh! alas!
I fear, too high my flatt'ring Hopes do soar)
Yet she at length may my sad Fate deplore;
May weep me Dead, may o'er my Tomb recline,
And sighing, wish were he alive and Mine!
But mark me to the End–
Thir. Go on; for well I do thy Speech attend,
Perhaps to better Ends, than yet thou know'st.
Amint. Being now a Child, or but a Youth at most,
When scarce to reach the blushing Fruit I knew,
Which on the lowest bending Branches grew;
Still with the dearest, sweetest, kindest Maid
Young as myself, at childish Sports I play'd.
The Fairest, sure, of all that Lovely Kind,
Who spread their golden Tresses to the Wind;
Cydippe's Daughter, and Montano's Heir,
Whose Flocks and Herds so num'rous do appear;
The beauteous Sylvia; She, 'tis She I love,
Warmth of all Hearts, and Pride of ev'ry Grove.
With Her I liv'd, no Turtles e'er so fond.
Our Houses met, but more our Souls were join'd.
Together Nets for Fish, and Fowl we laid;
Together through the spacious Forest stray'd;
Pursu'd with equal Speed the flying Deer,
And of the Spoils there no Divisions were.
But whilst I from the Beasts their Freedom won,
Alas! I know not how, my Own was gone.
By unperceiv'd Degrees the Fire encreas'd,
Which fill'd, at last, each corner of my Breast;
As from a Root, tho' scarce discern'd so small,
A Plant may rise, that grows amazing tall.
From Sylvia's Presence now I could not move,
And from her Eyes took in full Draughts of Love,
Which sweetly thro' my ravish'd Mind distill'd;
Yet in the end such Bitterness wou'd yield,
That oft I sigh'd, ere yet I knew the cause,
And was a Lover, ere I dream'd I was.
But Oh! at last, too well my State I knew;
And now, will shew thee how this Passion grew.
Then listen, while the pleasing Tale I tell.
THIRSIS persuades AMINTOR not to despair upon the
redictions of Mopsus discov'ring him to be an Impostor.
Thirsis. Why dost thou still give way to such Despair!
Amintor. Too just, alas! the weighty Causes are.
Mopsus, wise Mopsus, who in Art excels,
And of all Plants the secret Vertue tells,
Knows, with what healing Gifts our Springs abound,
And of each Bird explains the mystick Sound;
'Twas He, ev'n He! my wretched Fate foretold.
Thir. Dost thou this Speech then of that Mopsus hold,
Who, whilst his Smiles attract the easy View,
Drops flatt'ring Words, soft as the falling Dew;
Whose outward Form all friendly still appears,
Tho' Fraud and Daggers in his Thoughts he wears,
And the unwary Labours to surprize
With Looks affected, and with riddling Lyes.
If He it is, that bids thy Love despair,
I hope the happier End of all thy Care.
So far from Truth his vain Predictions fall.
Amint. If ought thou know'st, that may my Hopes recall,
Conceal it not; for great I've heard his Fame,
And fear'd his Words–
Thir. –When hither first I came,
And in these Shades the false Imposter met,
Like Thee I priz'd, and thought his Judgment great;
On all his study'd Speeches still rely'd,
Nor fear'd to err, whilst led by such a Guide:
When on a Day, that Bus'ness and Delight
My Steps did to the Neighb'ring Town invite,
Which stands upon that rising Mountain's side,
And from our Plains this River do's divide,
He check'd me thus–Be warn'd in time, My Son,
And that new World of painted Mischiefs shun,
Whose gay Inhabitants thou shalt behold
Plum'd like our Birds, and sparkling all in Gold;
Courtiers, that will thy rustick Garb despise,
And mock thy Plainness with disdainful Eyes.
But above all, that Structure see thou fly,
Where hoarded Vanities and Witchcrafts lie;
To shun that Path be thy peculiar Care.
I ask, what of that Place the Dangers are:
To which he soon replies, there shalt thou meet
Of soft Enchantresses th' Enchantments sweet,
Who subt'ly will thy solid Sense bereave,
And a false Gloss to ev'ry Object give.
Brass to thy Sight as polish'd Gold shall seem,
And Glass thou as the Diamond shalt esteem.
Huge Heaps of Silver to thee shall appear,
Which if approach'd, will prove but shining Air.
The very Walls by Magick Art are wrought,
And Repitition to all Speakers taught:
Not such, as from our Ecchoes we obtain,
Which only our last Words return again;
But Speech for Speech entirely there they give,
And often add, beyond what they receive.
There downy Couches to false Rest invite,
The Lawn is charm'd, that faintly bars the Light.
No gilded Seat, no iv'ry Board is there,
But what thou may'st for some Delusion fear:
Whilst, farther to abuse thy wond'ring Eyes,
Strange antick Shapes before them shall arise;
Fantastick Fiends, that will about thee flock,
And all they see, with Imitation mock.
Nor are these Ills the worst. Thyself may'st be
Transform'd into a Flame, a Stream, a Tree;
A Tear, congeal'd by Art, thou may'st remain,
'Till by a burning Sigh dissolv'd again.
Thus spake the Wretch; but cou'd not shake my Mind.
My way I take, and soon the City find,
Where above all that lofty Fabrick stands,
Which, with one View, the Town and Plains commands.
Here was I stopt, for who cou'd quit the Ground,
That heard such Musick from those Roofs resound!
Musick! beyond th' enticing Syrene's Note;
Musick! beyond the Swan's expiring Throat;
Beyond the softest Voice, that charms the Grove,
And equal'd only by the Spheres above.
My Ear I thought too narrow for the Art,
Nor fast enough convey'd it to my Heart:
When in the Entrance of the Gate I saw
A Man Majestick, and commanding Awe;
Yet temper'd with a Carriage, so refin'd
That undetermin'd was my doubtful Mind,
Whether for Love, or War, that Form was most design'd.
With such a Brow, as did at once declare
A gentle Nature, and a Wit severe;
To view that Palace me he ask'd to go,
Tho' Royal He, and I Obscure and Low.
But the Delights my Senses there did meet,
No rural Tongue, no Swain can e'er repeat.
Celestial Goddesses, or Nymphs as Fair,
In unveil'd Beauties, to all Eyes appear
Sprinkl'd with Gold, as glorious to the View,
As young Aurora, deck'd with pearly Dew;
Bright Rays dispensing, as along they pass'd,
And with new Light the shining Palace grac'd.
Phoebus was there by all the Muses met,
And at his Feet was our Elpino set.
Ev'n humble Me their Harmony inspir'd,
My Breast expanded, and my Spirits fir'd.
Rude Past'ral now, no longer I rehearse,
But Heroes crown with my exalted Verse.
Of Arms I sung, of bold advent'rous Wars;
And tho' brought back by my too envious Stars,
Yet kept my Voice and Reed those lofty Strains,
And sent loud Musick through the wond'ring Plains:
Which Mopsus hearing, secretly malign'd,
And now to ruin Both at once design'd.
Which by his Sorceries he soon brought to pass;
And suddenly so clogg'd, and hoarse I was,
That all our Shepherds, at the Change amaz'd,
Believ'd, I on some Ev'ning-Wolf had gaz'd:
When He it was, my luckless Path had crost,
By whose dire Look, my Skill awhile was lost.
This have I told, to raise thy Hopes again,
And render, by distrust, his Malice vain.
From the AMINTA of TASSO.
THO' we, of small Proportion see
And slight the armed Golden Bee;
Yet if her Sting behind she leaves,
No Ease th' envenom'd Flesh receives.
Love, less to Sight than is this Fly,
In a soft Curl conceal'd can lie;
Under an Eyelid's lovely Shade,
Can form a dreadful Ambuscade;
Can the most subtil Sight beguile
Hid in the Dimples of a Smile.
But if from thence a Dart he throw,
How sure, how mortal is the Blow!
How helpless all the Pow'r of Art
To bind, or to restore the Heart!
From the AMINTA of TASSO.
Part of the Description of the Golden Age.
THEN, by some Fountains flow'ry side
The Loves unarm'd, did still abide.
Then, the loos'd Quiver careless hung,
The Torch extinct, the Bow unstrung.
Then, by the Nymphs no Charms were worn,
But such as with the Nymphs were born.
The Shepherd cou'd not, then, complain,
Nor told his am'rous Tale in vain.
No Veil the Beauteous Face did hide,
Nor harmless Freedom was deny'd.
Then, Innocence and Virtue reign'd
Pure, unaffected, unconstrain'd.
Love was their Pleasure, and their Praise,
The soft Employment of their Days.
The Truant Dove, From Pilpay
A MOUNTAIN stream, its channel deep
Beneath a rock's rough base had torn;
The cliff, like a vast castle wall, was steep
By fretting rains in many a crevice worn;
But the fern wav'd there, and the mosses crept,
And o'er the summit, where the wind
Peel'd from their stems the silver rind,
Depending birches wept
There, tufts of broom a footing used to find,
And heath and straggling grass to grow,
And half-way down from roots enwreathing, broke
The branches of a scathed oak,
And seem'd to guard the cave below,
Where each revolving year,
Their twins, two faithful doves were wont to rear;
Choice never join'd a fonder pair;
To each their simple home was dear,
No discord ever enter'd there;
But there the soft affections dwell'd,
And three returning springs beheld
Secure within their fortress high
The little happy family.
'Toujours perdrix, messieurs, ne valent rien'
So did a Gallic monarch once harangue,
And evil was the day whereon our bird
This saying heard,
From certain new acquaintance he had found,
Who at their perfect ease,
Amid a field of peas
Boasted to him, that all the country round,
The wheat, and oats, and barley, rye and tares,
Quite to the neighbouring sea, were theirs;
And theirs the oak, and beech-woods, far and near,
For their right noble owner was a peer,
And they themselves, luxuriantly were stored
In a great dove-coteto amuse my lord !
'Toujours perdrix ne valent rien.' That's strange !
When people once are happy, wherefore change ?
So thought our stock-dove, but communication,
With birds in his new friend's exalted station,
Whose means of information,
And knowledge of all sorts, must be so ample;
Who saw great folks, and follow'd their example,
Made on the dweller of the cave, impression;
And soon, whatever was his best possession,
His sanctuary within the rock's deep breast,
His soft-eyed partner, and her nest,
He thought of with indifference, then with loathing;
So much insipid love was good for nothing.
But sometimes tenderness return'd; his dame
So long belov'd, so mild, so free from blame,
How should he tell her, he had learn'd to cavil
At happiness itself, and longed to travel ?
His heart still smote him, so much wrong to do her,
He knew not how to break the matter to her.
But love, tho' blind himself, makes some discerning;
His frequent absence, and his late returning,
With ruffled plumage, and with alter'd eyes,
His careless short replies,
And to their couplets, coldness or neglect
Had made his gentle wife suspect,
All was not right; but she forbore to teaze him,
Which would but give him an excuse to rove:
She therefore tried by every art to please him,
Endur'd his peevish starts with patient love,
And when (like other husbands from a tavern)
Of his new notions full, he sought his cavern
She with dissembled cheerfulness, 'beguiled
'The thing she was,' and gaily coo-ed and smiled.
'Tis not in this most motley sphere uncommon,
For man, (and so of course more feeble woman)
Most strongly to suspect, what they're pursuing
Will lead them to inevitable ruin,
Yet rush with open eyes to their undoing;
Thus felt the dove; but in the cant of fashion
He talk'd of fate, and of predestination,
And in a grave oration,
He to his much affrighted mate related,
How he, yet slumbering in the egg, was fated,
To gather knowledge, to instruct his kind,
By observation elevate his mind,
And give new impulse to Columbian life;
'If it be so,' exclaim'd his hapless wife,
'It is my fate, to pass my days in pain,
'To mourn your love estrang'd, and mourn in vain;
'Here in our once dear hut, to wake and weep,
'When thy unkindness shall have ‘murder'd sleep;’
'And never that dear hut shall I prepare,
'And wait with fondness your arrival there,
'While me, and mine forgetting, you will go
'To some new love.' 'Why, no, I tell you no,
'What shall I say such foolish fears to cure ?
'I only mean to make a little tour,
'Justjust to see the world around me; then
'With new delight, I shall come home again;
'Such tours are quite the rageat my return
'I shall have much to tell, and you to learn;
'Of fashionssome becoming, some grotesque
'Of change of empires, and ideas novel;
'Of buildings, Grecian, Gothic, Arabesque,
'And scenery sublime and picturesque;
'And all these things with pleasure we'll discuss'
'Ah, me ! and what are all these things to us ?'
'So then, you'd have a bird of genius grovel,
'And never see beyond a farmer's hovel ?
'Even the sand-martin, that inferior creature,
'Goes once a year abroad.' 'It is his nature,
'But yours how different once !' and then she sigh'd,
'There was a time, Ah ! would that I had died,
'E'er you so chang'd ! when you'd have perish'd rather
'Than this poor breast should heave a single feather
'With grief and care. And all this cant of fashion
'Would but have rais'd your anger, or compassion,
'O my dear love ! You sought not then to range,
'But on my changeful neck as fell the light,
'You sweetly said, you wish'd no other change
'Than that soft neck could shew; to berries bright
'Of mountain ash, you fondly could compare
'My scarlet feet and bill; my shape and air,
'Ah ! faithless flatterer, did you not declare
'The soul of grace and beauty center'd there ?
'My eyes you said, were opals, brightly pink,
'Enchas'd in onyx; and you seem'd to think,
'Each charm might then the coldest heart enthrall:
'Those charms were mine. Alas ! I gave you all
'Your farthest wanderings then were but to fetch
'The pea, the tare, the beechmast, and the vetch,
'For my repast; within my rocky bower,
'With spleenwort shaded, and the blue-bell's flower,
'For prospects then you never wish'd to roam,
'But the best scenery was our happy home;
'And when, beneath my breast, then fair and young,
'Our first dear pair, our earliest nestlings sprung,
'And weakly, indistinctly, tried to coo
'Were not those moments picturesque to you ?'
'Yes, faith, my dear; and all you say is true.'
'Oh ! hear me then; if thus we have been blest,
'If on these wings it was your joy to rest,
'Love must from habit still new strength be gaining'
'From habit ? 'tis of that, child, I'm complaining
'This everlasting fondness will not be
'For birds of flesh and blood. We sha'nt agree,
'So why dispute ? now prithee don't torment me;
'I shall not long be gone; let that content ye:
'Pshaw ! what a fuss ! Come, no more sighs and groans,
'Keep up your spirits; mind your little ones;
'My journey won't be farmy honour's pledged
'I shall be back again before they're fledged;
'Give me a kiss; and now my dear, adieu !'
So light of heart and plumes, away he flew;
And, as above the sheltering rock he springs,
She listen'd to the echo of his wings;
Those well-known sounds, so soothing heretofore,
Which her heart whisper'd she should hear no more.
Then to her cold and widow'd bed she crept,
Clasp'd her half-orphan'd young, and wept !
Her recreant mate, by other views attracted,
A very different part enacted;
He sought the dove-cote, and was greeted there
With all that's tonish, elegant, and rare,
Among the pigeon tribes; and there the rover
Lived quite in clover !
His jolly comrades now, were blades of spirit;
Their nymphs possess'd most fascinating merit;
Nor fail'd our hero of the rock to prove,
He thought not of inviolable love
To his poor spouse at home. He bow'd and sigh'd,
Now to a fantail's, now a cropper's bride;
Then cow'ring low to a majestic powter,
Declared he should not suffer life without her;
And then with upturn'd eyes, in phrase still humbler,
Implor'd the pity of an almond tumbler;
Next, to a beauteous carrier's feet he'd run,
And lived a week, the captive of a nun:
Thus far in measureless content he revels,
And blest the hour when he began his travels.
Yet some things soon occurr'd not quite so pleasant;
He had observ'd that an unfeeling peasant,
It silence mounting on a ladder high,
Seiz'd certain pigeons just as they could fly,
Who never figur'd more, but in a pie;
That was but aukward; then, his lordship's son
Heard from the groom, that 'twould be famous fun
To try on others his unpractis'd gun;
Their fall, the rattling shot, his nerves perplex'd;
He thought perhaps it might be his turn next.
It has been seen ere now, that, much elated,
To be by some great man caress'd and fêted,
A youth of humble birth, and mind industrious,
Foregoes in evil hour his independance;
And, charm'd to wait upon his friend illustrious,
Gives up his time to flattery and attendance.
His patron, smiling at his folly, lets him
Some newer whim succeeds, and he forgets him.
So fared our bird; his new friend's vacant stare,
Told him he scarce remember'd he was there;
And, when he talk'd of living more securely,
This very dear friend, yawning, answered, 'Surely !
'You are quite right to do what's most expedient,
'So, au revoir !Good bye ! Your most obedient.'
Allies in prosperous fortune thus he prov'd,
And left them, unregretting, unbelov'd;
Yet much his self-love suffer'd by the shock,
And now, his quiet cabin in the rock,
The faithful partner of his every care,
And all the blessings he abandon'd there,
Rush'd on his sickening heart; he felt it yearn,
But pride and shame prevented his return;
So wandering fartherat the close of day
To the high woods he pensive wing'd his way;
But new distress at every turn he found
Struck by an hawk, and stunn'd upon the ground,
He once by miracle escaped; then fled
From a wild cat, and hid his trembling head
Beneath a dock; recovering, on the wind
He rose once more, and left his fears behind;
And, as above the clouds he soar'd, the light
Fell on an inland rock; the radiance bright
Shew'd him his long deserted place of rest,
And thitherward he flew; his throbbing breast
Dwelt on his mate, so gentle, and so wrong'd,
And on his memory throng'd
The happiness he once at home had known;
Then to forgive him earnest to engage her,
And for his errors eager to atone,
Onward he went; but ah ! not yet had flown
Fate's sharpest arrow: to decide a wager,
Two sportsmen shot at our deserter; down
The wind swift wheeling, struggling, still he fell,
Close to the margin of the stream that flow'd
Beneath the foot of his regretted cell,
And the fresh grass was spotted with his blood;
To his dear home he turn'd his languid view,
Deplor'd his folly, while he look'd his last,
And sigh'd a long adieu !
Thither to sip the brook, his nestlings, led
By their still pensive mother, came;
He saw; and murmuring forth her dear lov'd name,
Implor'd her pity, and with shortening breath,
Besought her to forgive him ere his death.
And now, how hard in metre to relate
The tears and tender pity of his mate !
Or with what generous zeal, his faithful moitie
Taught her now feather'd young, with duteous piety,
To aid her, on their mutual wings to bear,
With stork-like care,
Their suffering parent to the rock above;
There, by the best physician, Love,
His wounds were heal'd.His wanderings at an end,
And sober'd quite, the husband, and the friend,
In proof of reformation and contrition,
Gave to his race this prudent admonition;
Advice, which this, our fabling muse, presumes
May benefit the biped without plumes:
'If of domestic peace you are possess'd,
'Learn to believe yourself supremely bless'd;
'And gratefully enjoying your condition,
'Frisk not about, on whims and fancies strange,
'For ten to one, you for the worse will change:
'And 'tis most wise, to check all vain ambition
'By such aspiring pride the angels fell;
'So love your wife, and know when you are well.'
To Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bart From the South-West Coast Or Cumberland 1811
FAR from our home by Grasmere's quiet Lake,
From the Vale's peace which all her fields partake,
Here on the bleakest point of Cumbria's shore
We sojourn stunned by Ocean's ceaseless roar;
While, day by day, grim neighbour! huge Black Comb
Frowns deepening visibly his native gloom,
Unless, perchance rejecting in despite
What on the Plain 'we' have of warmth and light,
In his own storms he hides himself from sight.
Rough is the time; and thoughts, that would be free
From heaviness, oft fly, dear Friend, to thee;
Turn from a spot where neither sheltered road
Nor hedge-row screen invites my steps abroad;
Where one poor Plane-tree, having as it might
Attained a stature twice a tall man's height,
Hopeless of further growth, and brown and sere
Through half the summer, stands with top cut sheer,
Like an unshifting weathercock which proves
How cold the quarter that the wind best loves,
Or like a Centinel that, evermore
Darkening the window, ill defends the door
Of this unfinished house--a Fortress bare,
Where strength has been the Builder's only care;
Whose rugged walls may still for years demand
The final polish of the Plasterer's hand.
--This Dwelling's Inmate more than three weeks space
And oft a Prisoner in the cheerless place,
I--of whose touch the fiddle would complain,
Whose breath would labour at the flute in vain,
In music all unversed, nor blessed with skill
A bridge to copy, or to paint a mill,
Tired of my books, a scanty company!
And tired of listening to the boisterous sea--
Pace between door and window muttering rhyme,
An old resource to cheat a froward time!
Though these dull hours (mine is it, or their shame?)
Would tempt me to renounce that humble aim.
--But if there be a Muse who, free to take
Her seat upon Olympus, doth forsake
Those heights (like Phoebus when his golden locks
He veiled, attendant on Thessalian flocks)
And, in disguise, a Milkmaid with her pail
Trips down the pathways of some winding dale;
Or, like a Mermaid, warbles on the shores
To fishers mending nets beside their doors;
Or, Pilgrim-like, on forest moss reclined,
Gives plaintive ditties to the heedless wind,
Or listens to its play among the boughs
Above her head and so forgets her vows--
If such a Visitant of Earth there be
And she would deign this day to smile on me
And aid my verse, content with local bounds
Of natural beauty and life's daily rounds,
Thoughts, chances, sights, or doings, which we tell
Without reserve to those whom we love well--
Then haply, Beaumont! words in current clear
Will flow, and on a welcome page appear
Duly before thy sight, unless they perish here.
What shall I treat of? News from Mona's Isle?
Such have we, but unvaried in its style;
No tales of Runagates fresh landed, whence
And wherefore fugitive or on what pretence;
Of feasts, or scandal, eddying like the wind
Most restlessly alive when most confined.
Ask not of me, whose tongue can best appease
The mighty tumults of the HOUSE OF KEYS;
The last year's cup whose Ram or Heifer gained,
What slopes are planted, or what mosses drained:
An eye of fancy only can I cast
On that proud pageant now at hand or past,
When full five hundred boats in trim array,
With nets and sails outspread and streamers gay,
And chanted hymns and stiller voice of prayer,
For the old Manx-harvest to the Deep repair,
Soon as the herring-shoals at distance shine
Like beds of moonlight shifting on the brine.
Mona from our Abode is daily seen,
But with a wilderness of waves between;
And by conjecture only can we speak
Of aught transacted there in bay or creek;
No tidings reach us thence from town or field,
Only faint news her mountain sunbeams yield,
And some we gather from the misty air,
And some the hovering clouds, our telegraph, declare.
But these poetic mysteries I withhold;
For Fancy hath her fits both hot and cold,
And should the colder fit with You be on
When You might read, my credit would be gone.
Let more substantial themes the pen engage,
And nearer interests culled from the opening stage
Of our migration.--Ere the welcome dawn
Had from the east her silver star withdrawn,
The Wain stood ready, at our Cottage-door,
Thoughtfully freighted with a various store;
And long or ere the uprising of the Sun
O'er dew-damped dust our journey was begun,
A needful journey, under favouring skies,
Through peopled Vales; yet something in the guise
Of those old Patriarchs when from well to well
They roamed through Wastes where now the tented Arabs
Say first, to whom did we the charge confide,
Who promptly undertook the Wain to guide
Up many a sharply-twining road and down,
And over many a wide hill's craggy crown,
Through the quick turns of many a hollow nook,
And the rough bed of many an unbridged brook?
A blooming Lass--who in her better hand
Bore a light switch, her sceptre of command
When, yet a slender Girl, she often led,
Skilful and bold, the horse and burthened sled
From the peat-yielding Moss on Gowdar's head.
What could go wrong with such a Charioteer
For goods and chattels, or those Infants dear,
A Pair who smilingly sate side by side,
Our hope confirming that the salt-sea tide
Whose free embraces we were bound to seek,
Would their lost strength restore and freshen the pale cheek?
Such hope did either Parent entertain
Pacing behind along the silent lane.
Blithe hopes and happy musings soon took flight,
For lo! an uncouth melancholy sight--
On a green bank a creature stood forlorn
Just half protruded to the light of morn,
Its hinder part concealed by hedge-row thorn
The Figure called to mind a beast of prey
Stript of its frightful powers by slow decay,
And, though no longer upon rapine bent,
Dim memory keeping of its old intent.
We started, looked again with anxious eyes,
And in that griesly object recognise
The Curate's Dog--his long-tried friend, for they,
As well we knew, together had grown grey.
The Master died, his drooping servant's grief
Found at the Widow's feet some sad relief;
Yet still he lived in pining discontent,
Sadness which no indulgence could prevent;
Hence whole day wanderings, broken nightly sleeps
And lonesome watch that out of doors he keeps;
Not oftentimes, I trust, as we, poor brute!
Espied him on his legs sustained, blank, mute,
And of all visible motion destitute,
So that the very heaving of his breath
Seemed stopt, though by some other power than death.
Long as we gazed upon the form and face,
A mild domestic pity kept its place,
Unscared by thronging fancies of strange hue
That haunted us in spite of what we knew.
Even now I sometimes think of him as lost
In second-sight appearances, or crost
By spectral shapes of guilt, or to the ground,
On which he stood, by spells unnatural bound,
Like a gaunt shaggy Porter forced to wait
In days of old romance at Archimago's gate.
Advancing Summer, Nature's law fulfilled,
The choristers in every grove had stilled;
But we, we lacked not music of our own,
For lightsome Fanny had thus early thrown,
Mid the gay prattle of those infant tongues,
Some notes prelusive, from the round of songs
With which, more zealous than the liveliest bird
That in wild Arden's brakes was ever heard,
Her work and her work's partners she can cheer,
The whole day long, and all days of the year.
Thus gladdened from our own dear Vale we pass
And soon approach Diana's Looking-glass!
To Loughrigg-tarn, round clear and bright as heaven,
Such name Italian fancy would have given,
Ere on its banks the few grey cabins rose
That yet disturb not its concealed repose
More than the feeblest wind that idly blows.
Ah, Beaumont! when an opening in the road
Stopped me at once by charm of what it showed,
The encircling region vividly exprest
Within the mirror's depth, a world at rest--
Sky streaked with purple, grove and craggy bield,
And the smooth green of many a pendent field,
And, quieted and soothed, a torrent small,
A little daring would-be waterfall,
One chimney smoking and its azure wreath,
Associate all in the calm Pool beneath,
With here and there a faint imperfect gleam
Of water-lilies veiled in misty steam--
What wonder at this hour of stillness deep,
A shadowy link 'tween wakefulness and sleep,
When Nature's self, amid such blending, seems
To render visible her own soft dreams,
If, mixed with what appeared of rock, lawn, wood,
Fondly embosomed in the tranquil flood,
A glimpse I caught of that Abode, by Thee
Designed to rise in humble privacy,
A lowly Dwelling, here to be outspread,
Like a small Hamlet, with its bashful head
Half hid in native trees. Alas 'tis not,
Nor ever was; I sighed, and left the spot
Unconscious of its own untoward lot,
And thought in silence, with regret too keen,
Of unexperienced joys that might have been;
Of neighbourhood and intermingling arts,
And golden summer days uniting cheerful hearts.
But time, irrevocable time, is flown.
And let us utter thanks for blessings sown
And reaped--what hath been, and what is, our own.
Not far we travelled ere a shout of glee,
Startling us all, dispersed my reverie;
Such shout as many a sportive echo meeting
Oft-times from Alpine 'chalets' sends a greeting.
Whence the blithe hail? behold a Peasant stand
On high, a kerchief waving in her hand!
Not unexpectant that by early day
Our little Band would thrid this mountain way,
Before her cottage on the bright hill side
She hath advanced with hope to be descried.
Right gladly answering signals we displayed,
Moving along a tract of morning shade,
And vocal wishes sent of like good will
To our kind Friend high on the sunny hill--
Luminous region, fair as if the prime
Were tempting all astir to look aloft or climb;
Only the centre of the shining cot
With door left open makes a gloomy spot,
Emblem of those dark corners sometimes found
Within the happiest breast on earthly ground.
Rich prospect left behind of stream and vale,
And mountain-tops, a barren ridge we scale;
Descend, and reach, in Yewdale's depths, a plain
With haycocks studded, striped with yellowing grain--
An area level as a Lake and spread
Under a rock too steep for man to tread,
Where sheltered from the north and bleak northwest
Aloft the Raven hangs a visible nest,
Fearless of all assaults that would her brood molest.
Hot sunbeams fill the steaming vale; but hark,
At our approach, a jealous watch-dog's bark,
Noise that brings forth no liveried Page of state,
But the whole household, that our coming wait.
With Young and Old warm greetings we exchange,
And jocund smiles, and toward the lowly Grange
Press forward by the teasing dogs unscared.
Entering, we find the morning meal prepared:
So down we sit, though not till each had cast
Pleased looks around the delicate repast--
Rich cream, and snow-white eggs fresh from the nest,
With amber honey from the mountain's breast;
Strawberries from lane or woodland, offering wild
Of children's industry, in hillocks piled;
Cakes for the nonce, and butter fit to lie
Upon a lordly dish; frank hospitality
Where simple art with bounteous nature vied,
And cottage comfort shuned not seemly pride.
Kind Hostess! Handmaid also of the feast,
If thou be lovelier than the kindling East,
Words by thy presence unrestrained may speak
Of a perpetual dawn from brow and cheek
Instinct with light whose sweetest promise lies,
Never retiring, in thy large dark eyes,
Dark but to every gentle feeling true,
As if their lustre flowed from ether's purest blue.
Let me not ask what tears may have been wept
By those bright eyes, what weary vigils kept,
Beside that hearth what sighs may have been heaved
For wounds inflicted, nor what toil relieved
By fortitude and patience, and the grace
Of heaven in pity visiting the place.
Not unadvisedly those secret springs
I leave unsearched: enough that memory clings,
Here as elsewhere, to notices that make
Their own significance for hearts awake,
To rural incidents, whose genial powers
Filled with delight three summer morning hours.
More cold my pen report of grave or gay
That through our gipsy travel cheered the way;
But, bursting forth above the waves, the Sun
Laughs at my pains, and seems to say, 'Be done.'
Yet, Beaumont, thou wilt not, I trust, reprove
This humble offering made by Truth to Love,
Nor chide the Muse that stooped to break a spell
Which might have else been on me yet:--
The Blind Girl Of Castel-Cuille. (From The Gascon of Jasmin)
At the foot of the mountain height
Where is perched Castel Cuille,
When the apple, the plum, and the almond tree
In the plain below were growing white,
This is the song one might perceive
On a Wednesday morn of Saint Joseph's Eve:
'The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!'
This old Te Deum, rustic rites attending,
Seemed from the clouds descending;
When lo! a merry company
Of rosy village girls, clean as the eye,
Each one with her attendant swain,
Came to the cliff, all singing the same strain;
Resembling there, so near unto the sky,
Rejoicing angels, that kind Heaven has sent
For their delight and our encouragement.
And soon descending
The narrow sweep
Of the hillside steep,
They wind aslant
Towards Saint Amant,
Through leafy alleys
Of verdurous valleys
With merry sallies
Singing their chant:
'The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!
It is Baptiste, and his affianced maiden,
With garlands for the bridal laden!
The sky was blue; without one cloud of gloom,
The sun of March was shining brightly,
And to the air the freshening wind gave lightly
Its breathings of perfume.
When one beholds the dusky hedges blossom,
A rustic bridal, oh! how sweet it is!
To sounds of joyous melodies,
That touch with tenderness the trembling bosom,
A band of maidens
A band of youngsters
With fingers pressing,
Till in the veriest
Madness of mirth, as they dance,
They retreat and advance,
Trying whose laugh shall be loudest and merriest;
While the bride, with roguish eyes,
Sporting with them, now escapes and cries:
'Those who catch me
This year shall be!'
And all pursue with eager haste,
And all attain what they pursue,
And touch her pretty apron fresh and new,
And the linen kirtle round her waist.
Meanwhile, whence comes it that among
These youthful maidens fresh and fair,
So joyous, with such laughing air,
Baptiste stands sighing, with silent tongue?
And yet the bride is fair and young!
Is it Saint Joseph would say to us all,
That love, o'er-hasty, precedeth a fall?
O no! for a maiden frail, I trow,
Never bore so lofty a brow!
What lovers! they give not a single caress!
To see them so careless and cold to-day,
These are grand people, one would say.
What ails Baptiste? what grief doth him oppress?
It is, that half-way up the hill,
In yon cottage, by whose walls
Stand the cart-house and the stalls,
Dwelleth the blind orphan still,
Daughter of a veteran old;
And you must know, one year ago,
That Margaret, the young and tender,
Was the village pride and splendor,
And Baptiste her lover bold.
Love, the deceiver, them ensnared;
For them the altar was prepared;
But alas! the summer's blight,
The dread disease that none can stay,
The pestilence that walks by night,
Took the young bride's sight away.
All at the father's stern command was changed;
Their peace was gone, but not their love estranged.
Wearied at home, erelong the lover fled;
Returned but three short days ago,
The golden chain they round him throw,
He is enticed, and onward led
To marry Angela, and yet
Is thinking ever of Margaret.
Then suddenly a maiden cried,
'Anna, Theresa, Mary, Kate!
Here comes the cripple Jane!' And by a fountain's side
A woman, bent and gray with years,
Under the mulberry-trees appears,
And all towards her run, as fleet
As had they wings upon their feet.
It is that Jane, the cripple Jane,
Is a soothsayer, wary and kind.
She telleth fortunes, and none complain.
She promises one a village swain,
Another a happy wedding-day,
And the bride a lovely boy straightway.
All comes to pass as she avers;
She never deceives, she never errs.
But for this once the village seer
Wears a countenance severe,
And from beneath her eyebrows thin and white
Her two eyes flash like cannons bright
Aimed at the bridegroom in waistcoat blue,
Who, like a statue, stands in view;
Changing color as well he might,
When the beldame wrinkled and gray
Takes the young bride by the hand,
And, with the tip of her reedy wand
Making the sign of the cross, doth say:--
'Thoughtless Angela, beware!
Lest, when thou weddest this false bridegroom,
Thou diggest for thyself a tomb!'
And she was silent; and the maidens fair
Saw from each eye escape a swollen tear;
But on a little streamlet silver-clear,
What are two drops of turbid rain?
Saddened a moment, the bridal train
Resumed the dance and song again;
The bridegroom only was pale with fear;--
And down green alleys
Of verdurous valleys,
With merry sallies,
They sang the refrain:--
'The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!'
And by suffering worn and weary,
But beautiful as some fair angel yet,
Thus lamented Margaret,
In her cottage lone and dreary;--
'He has arrived! arrived at last!
Yet Jane has named him not these three days past;
Arrived! yet keeps aloof so far!
And knows that of my night he is the star!
Knows that long months I wait alone, benighted,
And count the moments since he went away!
Come! keep the promise of that happier day,
That I may keep the faith to thee I plighted!
What joy have I without thee? what delight?
Grief wastes my life, and makes it misery;
Day for the others ever, but for me
Forever night! forever night!
When he is gone 't is dark! my soul is sad!
I suffer! O my God! come, make me glad.
When he is near, no thoughts of day intrude;
Day has blue heavens, but Baptiste has blue eyes!
Within them shines for me a heaven of love,
A heaven all happiness, like that above,
No more of grief! no more of lassitude!
Earth I forget,--and heaven, and all distresses,
When seated by my side my hand he presses;
But when alone, remember all!
Where is Baptiste? he hears not when I call!
A branch of ivy, dying on the ground,
I need some bough to twine around!
In pity come! be to my suffering kind!
True love, they say, in grief doth more abound!
What then--when one is blind?
'Who knows? perhaps I am forsaken!
Ah! woe is me! then bear me to my grave!
O God! what thoughts within me waken!
Away! he will return! I do but rave!
He will return! I need not fear!
He swore it by our Saviour dear;
He could not come at his own will;
Is weary, or perhaps is ill!
Perhaps his heart, in this disguise,
Prepares for me some sweet surprise!
But some one comes! Though blind, my heart can see!
And that deceives me not! 't is he! 't is he!'
And the door ajar is set,
And poor, confiding Margaret
Rises, with outstretched arms, but sightless eyes;
'T is only Paul, her brother, who thus cries:--
'Angela the bride has passed!
I saw the wedding guests go by;
Tell me, my sister, why were we not asked?
For all are there but you and I!'
'Angela married! and not send
To tell her secret unto me!
O, speak! who may the bridegroom be?'
'My sister, 't is Baptiste, thy friend!'
A cry the blind girl gave, but nothing said;
A milky whiteness spreads upon her cheeks;
An icy hand, as heavy as lead,
Descending, as her brother speaks,
Upon her heart, that has ceased to beat,
Suspends awhile its life and heat.
She stands beside the boy, now sore distressed,
A wax Madonna as a peasant dressed.
At length, the bridal song again
Brings her back to her sorrow and pain.
'Hark! the joyous airs are ringing!
Sister, dost thou hear them singing?
How merrily they laugh and jest!
Would we were bidden with the rest!
I would don my hose of homespun gray,
And my doublet of linen striped and gay;
Perhaps they will come; for they do not wed
Till to-morrow at seven o'clock, it is said!'
'I know it!' answered Margaret;
Whom the vision, with aspect black as jet,
Mastered again; and its hand of ice
Held her heart crushed, as in a vice!
'Paul, be not sad! 'T is a holiday;
To-morrow put on thy doublet gay!
But leave me now for a while alone.'
Away, with a hop and a jump, went Paul,
And, as he whistled along the hall,
Entered Jane, the crippled crone.
'Holy Virgin! what dreadful heat!
I am faint, and weary, and out of breath!
But thou art cold,--art chill as death;
My little friend! what ails thee, sweet?'
'Nothing! I heard them singing home the bride;
And, as I listened to the song,
I thought my turn would come erelong,
Thou knowest it is at Whitsuntide.
Thy cards forsooth can never lie,
To me such joy they prophesy,
Thy skill shall be vaunted far and wide
When they behold him at my side.
And poor Baptiste, what sayest thou?
It must seem long to him;--methinks I see him now!'
Jane, shuddering, her hand doth press:
'Thy love I cannot all approve;
We must not trust too much to happiness;--
Go, pray to God, that thou mayst love him less!'
'The more I pray, the more I love!
It is no sin, for God is on my side!'
It was enough; and Jane no more replied.
Now to all hope her heart is barred and cold;
But to deceive the beldame old
She takes a sweet, contented air;
Speak of foul weather or of fair,
At every word the maiden smiles!
Thus the beguiler she beguiles;
So that, departing at the evening's close,
She says, 'She may be saved! she nothing knows!'
Poor Jane, the cunning sorceress!
Now that thou wouldst, thou art no prophetess!
This morning, in the fulness of thy heart,
Thou wast so, far beyond thine art!
Now rings the bell, nine times reverberating,
And the white daybreak, stealing up the sky,
Sees in two cottages two maidens waiting,
Queen of a day, by flatterers caressed,
The one puts on her cross and crown,
Decks with a huge bouquet her breast,
And flaunting, fluttering up and down,
Looks at herself, and cannot rest,
The other, blind, within her little room,
Has neither crown nor flower's perfume;
But in their stead for something gropes apart,
That in a drawer's recess doth lie,
And, 'neath her bodice of bright scarlet dye,
Convulsive clasps it to her heart.
The one, fantastic, light as air,
'Mid kisses ringing,
And joyous singing,
Forgets to say her morning prayer!
The other, with cold drops upon her brow,
Joins her two hands, and kneels upon the floor,
And whispers, as her brother opes the door,
'O God! forgive me now!'
And then the orphan, young and blind,
Conducted by her brother's hand,
Towards the church, through paths unscanned,
With tranquil air, her way doth wind.
Odors of laurel, making her faint and pale,
Round her at times exhale,
And in the sky as yet no sunny ray,
But brumal vapors gray.
Near that castle, fair to see,
Crowded with sculptures old, in every part,
Marvels of nature and of art,
And proud of its name of high degree,
A little chapel, almost bare
At the base of the rock, is builded there;
All glorious that it lifts aloof,
Above each jealous cottage roof,
Its sacred summit, swept by autumn gales,
And its blackened steeple high in air,
Round which the osprey screams and sails.
'Paul, lay thy noisy rattle by!'
Thus Margaret said. 'Where are we? we ascend!'
'Yes; seest thou not our journey's end?
Hearest not the osprey from the belfry cry?
The hideous bird, that brings ill luck, we know!
Dost thou remember when our father said,
The night we watched beside his bed,
'O daughter, I am weak and low;
Take care of Paul; I feel that I am dying!'
And thou, and he, and I, all fell to crying?
Then on the roof the osprey screamed aloud;
And here they brought our father in his shroud.
There is his grave; there stands the cross we set;
Why dost thou clasp me so, dear Margaret?
Come in! The bride will be here soon:
Thou tremblest! O my God! thou art going to swoon!'
She could no more,--the blind girl, weak and weary!
A voice seemed crying from that grave so dreary,
'What wouldst thou do, my daughter?'--and she started,
And quick recoiled, aghast, faint-hearted;
But Paul, impatient, urges evermore
Her steps towards the open door;
And when, beneath her feet, the unhappy maid
Crushes the laurel near the house immortal,
And with her head, as Paul talks on again,
Touches the crown of filigrane
Suspended from the low-arched portal,
No more restrained, no more afraid,
She walks, as for a feast arrayed,
And in the ancient chapel's sombre night
They both are lost to sight.
At length the bell,
With booming sound,
Sends forth, resounding round.
Its hymeneal peal o'er rock and down the dell.
It is broad day, with sunshine and with rain;
And yet the guests delay not long,
For soon arrives the bridal train,
And with it brings the village throng.
In sooth, deceit maketh no mortal gay,
For lo! Baptiste on this triumphant day,
Mute as an idiot, sad as yester-morning,
Thinks only of the beldame's words of warning.
And Angela thinks of her cross, I wis;
To be a bride is all! The pretty lisper
Feels her heart swell to hear all round her whisper,
'How beautiful! how beautiful she is!'.
But she must calm that giddy head,
For already the Mass is said;
At the holy table stands the priest;
The wedding ring is blessed; Baptiste receives it;
Ere on the finger of the bride he leaves it,
He must pronounce one word at least!
'T is spoken; and sudden at the grooms-man's side
''T is he!' a well-known voice has cried.
And while the wedding guests all hold their breath,
Opes the confessional, and the blind girl, see!
'Baptiste,' she said, 'since thou hast wished my death,
As holy water be my blood for thee!'
And calmly in the air a knife suspended!
Doubtless her guardian angel near attended,
For anguish did its work so well,
That, ere the fatal stroke descended,
Lifeless she fell!
At eve instead of bridal verse,
The De Profundis filled the air;
Decked with flowers a simple hearse
To the churchyard forth they bear;
Village girls in robes of snow
Follow, weeping as they go;
Nowhere was a smile that day,
No, ah no! for each one seemed to say:--
'The road should mourn and be veiled in gloom,
So fair a corpse shall leave its home!
Should mourn and should weep, ah, well-away!
So fair a corpse shall pass to-day!'
Coplas De Manrique (From The Spanish)
O let the soul her slumbers break,
Let thought be quickened, and awake;
Awake to see
How soon this life is past and gone,
And death comes softly stealing on,
Swiftly our pleasures glide away,
Our hearts recall the distant day
With many sighs;
The moments that are speeding fast
We heed not, but the past,-the past,
More highly prize.
Onward its course the present keeps,
Onward the constant current sweeps,
Till life is done;
And, did we judge of time aright,
The past and future in their flight
Would be as one.
Let no one fondly dream again,
That Hope and all her shadowy train
Will not decay;
Fleeting as were the dreams of old,
Remembered like a tale that's told,
They pass away.
Our lives are rivers, gliding free
To that unfathomed, boundless sea,
The silent grave!
Thither all earthly pomp and boast
Roll, to be swallowed up and lost
In one dark wave.
Thither the mighty torrents stray,
Thither the brook pursues its way,
And tinkling rill,
There all are equal; side by side
The poor man and the son of pride
Lie calm and still.
I will not here invoke the throng
Of orators and sons of song,
The deathless few;
Fiction entices and deceives,
And, sprinkled o'er her fragrant leaves,
Lies poisonous dew.
To One alone my thoughts arise,
The Eternal Truth, the Good and Wise,
To Him I cry,
Who shared on earth our common lot,
But the world comprehended not
This world is but the rugged road
Which leads us to the bright abode
Of peace above;
So let us choose that narrow way,
Which leads no traveller's foot astray
From realms of love,
Our cradle is the starting-place,
Life is the running of the race,
We reach the goal
When, in the mansions of the blest,
Death leaves to its eternal rest
The weary soul.
Did we but use it as we ought,
This world would school each wandering thought
To its high state.
Faith wings the soul beyond the sky,
Up to that better world on high,
For which we wait.
Yes, the glad messenger of love,
To guide us to our home above,
The Saviour came;
Born amid mortal cares and fears.
He suffered in this vale of tears
A death of shame.
Behold of what delusive worth
The bubbles we pursue on earth,
The shapes we chase,
Amid a world of treachery!
They vanish ere death shuts the eye,
And leave no trace.
Time steals them from us, chances strange,
Disastrous accident, and change,
That come to all;
Even in the most exalted state,
Relentless sweeps the stroke of fate;
The strongest fall.
Tell me, the charms that lovers seek
In the clear eye and blushing cheek,
The hues that play
O'er rosy lip and brow of snow,
When hoary age approaches slow,
Ah; where are they?
The cunning skill, the curious arts,
The glorious strength that youth imparts
In life's first stage;
These shall become a heavy weight,
When Time swings wide his outward gate
To weary age.
The noble blood of Gothic name,
Heroes emblazoned high to fame,
In long array;
How, in the onward course of time,
The landmarks of that race sublime
Were swept away!
Some, the degraded slaves of lust,
Prostrate and trampled in the dust,
Shall rise no more;
Others, by guilt and crime, maintain
The scutcheon, that without a stain,
Their fathers bore.
Wealth and the high estate of pride,
With what untimely speed they glide,
How soon depart!
Bid not the shadowy phantoms stay,
The vassals of a mistress they,
Of fickle heart.
These gifts in Fortune's hands are found;
Her swift revolving wheel turns round,
And they are gone!
No rest the inconstant goddess knows,
But changing, and without repose,
Still hurries on.
Even could the hand of avarice save
Its gilded baubles till the grave
Reclaimed its prey,
Let none on such poor hopes rely;
Life, like an empty dream, flits by,
And where are they?
Earthly desires and sensual lust
Are passions springing from the dust,
They fade and die;
But in the life beyond the tomb,
They seal the immortal spirits doom
The pleasures and delights, which mask
In treacherous smiles life's serious task,
What are they, all,
But the fleet coursers of the chase,
And death an ambush in the race,
Wherein we fall?
No foe, no dangerous pass, we heed,
Brook no delay, but onward speed
With loosened rein;
And, when the fatal snare is near,
We strive to check our mad career,
But strive in vain.
Could we new charms to age impart,
And fashion with a cunning art
The human face,
As we can clothe the soul with light,
And make the glorious spirit bright
With heavenly grace,
How busily each passing hour
Should we exert that magic power,
What ardor show,
To deck the sensual slave of sin,
Yet leave the freeborn soul within,
In weeds of woe!
Monarchs, the powerful and the strong,
Famous in history and in song
Of olden time,
Saw, by the stern decrees of fate,
Their kingdoms lost, and desolate
Their race sublime.
Who is the champion? who the strong?
Pontiff and priest, and sceptred throng?
On these shall fall
As heavily the hand of Death,
As when it stays the shepherd's breath
Beside his stall.
I speak not of the Trojan name,
Neither its glory nor its shame
Has met our eyes;
Nor of Rome's great and glorious dead,
Though we have heard so oft, and read,
Little avails it now to know
Of ages passed so long ago,
Nor how they rolled;
Our theme shall be of yesterday,
Which to oblivion sweeps away,
Like day's of old.
Where is the King, Don Juan? Where
Each royal prince and noble heir
Of Aragon ?
Where are the courtly gallantries?
The deeds of love and high emprise,
In battle done?
Tourney and joust, that charmed the eye,
And scarf, and gorgeous panoply,
And nodding plume,
What were they but a pageant scene?
What but the garlands, gay and green,
That deck the tomb?
Where are the high-born dames, and where
Their gay attire, and jewelled hair,
And odors sweet?
Where are the gentle knights, that came
To kneel, and breathe love's ardent flame,
Low at their feet?
Where is the song of Troubadour?
Where are the lute and gay tambour
They loved of yore?
Where is the mazy dance of old,
The flowing robes, inwrought with gold,
The dancers wore?
And he who next the sceptre swayed,
Henry, whose royal court displayed
Such power and pride;
O, in what winning smiles arrayed,
The world its various pleasures laid
His throne beside!
But O how false and full of guile
That world, which wore so soft a smile
But to betray!
She, that had been his friend before,
Now from the fated monarch tore
Her charms away.
The countless gifts, the stately walls,
The loyal palaces, and halls
All filled with gold;
Plate with armorial bearings wrought,
Chambers with ample treasures fraught
Of wealth untold;
The noble steeds, and harness bright,
And gallant lord, and stalwart knight,
In rich array,
Where shall we seek them now? Alas!
Like the bright dewdrops on the grass,
They passed away.
His brother, too, whose factious zeal
Usurped the sceptre of Castile,
Unskilled to reign;
What a gay, brilliant court had he,
When all the flower of chivalry
Was in his train!
But he was mortal; and the breath,
That flamed from the hot forge of Death,
Blasted his years;
Judgment of God! that flame by thee,
When raging fierce and fearfully,
Was quenched in tears!
Spain's haughty Constable, the true
And gallant Master, whom we knew
Most loved of all;
Breathe not a whisper of his pride,
He on the gloomy scaffold died,
The countless treasures of his care,
His villages and villas fair,
His mighty power,
What were they all but grief and shame,
Tears and a broken heart, when came
The parting hour?
His other brothers, proud and high,
Masters, who, in prosperity,
Might rival kings;
Who made the bravest and the best
The bondsmen of their high behest,
What was their prosperous estate,
When high exalted and elate
With power and pride?
What, but a transient gleam of light,
A flame, which, glaring at its height,
Grew dim and died?
So many a duke of royal name,
Marquis and count of spotless fame,
And baron brave,
That might the sword of empire wield,
All these, O Death, hast thou concealed
In the dark grave!
Their deeds of mercy and of arms,
In peaceful days, or war's alarms,
When thou dost show.
O Death, thy stern and angry face,
One stroke of thy all-powerful mace
Unnumbered hosts, that threaten nigh,
Pennon and standard flaunting high,
And flag displayed;
High battlements intrenched around,
Bastion, and moated wall, and mound,
And covered trench, secure and deep,
All these cannot one victim keep,
O Death, from thee,
When thou dost battle in thy wrath,
And thy strong shafts pursue their path
O World! so few the years we live,
Would that the life which thou dost give
Were life indeed!
Alas! thy sorrows fall so fast,
Our happiest hour is when at last
The soul is freed.
Our days are covered o'er with grief,
And sorrows neither few nor brief
Veil all in gloom;
Left desolate of real good,
Within this cheerless solitude
No pleasures bloom.
Thy pilgrimage begins in tears,
And ends in bitter doubts and fears,
Or dark despair;
Midway so many toils appear,
That he who lingers longest here
Knows most of care.
Thy goods are bought with many a groan,
By the hot sweat of toil alone,
And weary hearts;
Fleet-footed is the approach of woe,
But with a lingering step and slow
Its form departs.
And he, the good man's shield and shade,
To whom all hearts their homage paid,
As Virtue's son,
Roderic Manrique, he whose name
Is written on the scroll of Fame,
His signal deeds and prowess high
Demand no pompous eulogy.
Ye saw his deeds!
Why should their praise in verse be sung?
The name, that dwells on every tongue,
No minstrel needs.
To friends a friend; how kind to all
The vassals of this ancient hall
And feudal fief!
To foes how stern a foe was he!
And to the valiant and the free
How brave a chief!
What prudence with the old and wise:
What grace in youthful gayeties;
In all how sage!
Benignant to the serf and slave,
He showed the base and falsely brave
A lion's rage.
His was Octavian's prosperous star,
The rush of Caesar's conquering car
At battle's call;
His, Scipio's virtue; his, the skill
And the indomitable will
His was a Trajan's goodness, his
A Titus' noble charities
And righteous laws;
The arm of Hector, and the might
Of Tully, to maintain the right
In truth's just cause;
The clemency of Antonine,
Aurelius' countenance divine,
Firm, gentle, still;
The eloquence of Adrian,
And Theodosius' love to man,
And generous will;
In tented field and bloody fray,
An Alexander's vigorous sway
And stern command;
The faith of Constantine; ay, more,
The fervent love Camillus bore
His native land.
He left no well-filled treasury,
He heaped no pile of riches high,
Nor massive plate;
He fought the Moors, and, in their fall,
City and tower and castled wall
Were his estate.
Upon the hard-fought battle-ground,
Brave steeds and gallant riders found
A common grave;
And there the warrior's hand did gain
The rents, and the long vassal train,
That conquest gave.
And if, of old, his halls displayed
The honored and exalted grade
His worth had gained,
So, in the dark, disastrous hour,
Brothers and bondsmen of his power
His hand sustained.
After high deeds, not left untold,
In the stern warfare, which of old
'T was his to share,
Such noble leagues he made, that more
And fairer regions, than before,
His guerdon were.
These are the records, half effaced,
Which, with the hand of youth, he traced
On history's page;
But with fresh victories he drew
Each fading character anew
In his old age.
By his unrivalled skill, by great
And veteran service to the state,
By worth adored,
He stood, in his high dignity,
The proudest knight of chivalry,
Knight of the Sword.
He found his cities and domains
Beneath a tyrant's galling chains
And cruel power;
But by fierce battle and blockade,
Soon his own banner was displayed
From every tower.
By the tried valor of his hand,
His monarch and his native land
Were nobly served;
Let Portugal repeat the story,
And proud Castile, who shared the glory
His arms deserved.
And when so oft, for weal or woe,
His life upon the fatal throw
Had been cast down;
When he had served, with patriot zeal,
Beneath the banner of Castile,
His sovereign's crown;
And done such deeds of valor strong,
That neither history nor song
Can count them all;
Then, on Ocana's castled rock,
Death at his portal came to knock,
With sudden call,
Saying, 'Good Cavalier, prepare
To leave this world of toil and care
With joyful mien;
Let thy strong heart of steel this day
Put on its armor for the fray,
The closing scene.
'Since thou hast been, in battle-strife,
So prodigal of health and life,
For earthly fame,
Let virtue nerve thy heart again;
Loud on the last stern battle-plain
They call thy name.
'Think not the struggle that draws near
Too terrible for man, nor fear
To meet the foe;
Nor let thy noble spirit grieve,
Its life of glorious fame to leave
On earth below.
'A life of honor and of worth
Has no eternity on earth,
'T is but a name;
And yet its glory far exceeds
That base and sensual life, which leads
To want and shame.
'The eternal life, beyond the sky,
Wealth cannot purchase, nor the high
And proud estate;
The soul in dalliance laid, the spirit
Corrupt with sin, shall not inherit
A joy so great.
'But the good monk, in cloistered cell,
Shall gain it by his book and bell,
His prayers and tears;
And the brave knight, whose arm endures
Fierce battle, and against the Moors
His standard rears.
'And thou, brave knight, whose hand has poured
The life-blood of the Pagan horde
O'er all the land,
In heaven shalt thou receive, at length,
The guerdon of thine earthly strength
And dauntless hand.
'Cheered onward by this promise sure,
Strong in the faith entire and pure
Thou dost profess,
Depart, thy hope is certainty,
The third, the better life on high
Shalt thou possess.'
'O Death, no more, no more delay;
My spirit longs to flee away,
And be at rest;
The will of Heaven my will shall be,
I bow to the divine decree,
To God's behest.
'My soul is ready to depart,
No thought rebels, the obedient heart
Breathes forth no sigh;
The wish on earth to linger still
Were vain, when 't is God's sovereign will
That we shall die.
'O thou, that for our sins didst take
A human form, and humbly make
Thy home on earth;
Thou, that to thy divinity
A human nature didst ally
By mortal birth,
'And in that form didst suffer here
Torment, and agony, and fear,
By thy redeeming grace alone,
And not for merits of my own,
O, pardon me!'
As thus the dying warrior prayed,
Without one gathering mist or shade
Upon his mind;
Encircled by his family,
Watched by affection's gentle eye
So soft and kind;
His soul to Him, who gave it, rose;
God lead it to its long repose,
Its glorious rest!
And, though the warrior's sun has set,
Its light shall linger round us yet,
Bright, radiant, blest.
Good Tidings; Or News From The Farm
Where's the Blind Child, so admirably fair,
With guileless dimples, and with flaxen hair
That waves in ev'ry breeze? he's often seen
Beside yon cottage wall, or on the green,
With others match'd in spirit and in size,
Health on their cheeks and rapture in their eyes;
That full expanse of voice, to childhood dear,
Soul of their sports, is duly cherish'd here:
And, hark! that laugh is his, that jovial cry;
He hears the ball and trundling hoop brush by,
And runs the giddy course with all his might,
A very child in every thing but sight;
With circumscrib'd but not abated pow'rs,-
Play! the great object of his infant hours;-
In many a game he takes a noisy part,
And shows the native gladness of his heart;
But soon he hears, on pleasure all intent,
The new suggestion and the quick assent;
The grove invites, delight thrills every breast-
To leap the ditch and seek the downy nest
Away they start, leave balls and hoops behind,
And one companion leave--the boy is blind!
His fancy paints their distant paths so gay,
That childish fortitude awhile gives way,
He feels his dreadful loss-yet short the pain,
Soon he resumes his cheerfulness again;
Pond'ring how best his moments to employ,
He sings his little songs of nameless joy,
Creeps on the warm green turf for many an hour,
And plucks by chance the white and yellow flow'r;
Smoothing their stems, while resting on his knees,
He binds a nosegay which he never sees;
Along the homeward path then feels his way,
Lifting his brow against the shining day,
And, with a playful rapture round his eyes,
Presents a sighing parent with the prize.
day, which he remembers too,
When he could gaze on heav'n's ethereal blue,
See the green Spring, and Summer's countless dies,
And all the colours of the morning rise.-
'When was this work of bitterness begun?
How came the blindness of your only son?'
Thus pity prompts full many a tongue to say,
But never, till she slowly wipes away
Th' obtruding tear that trembles in her eye.
This dagger of a question meets reply:-
'My boy was healthy, and my rest was sound,
When last year's corn was green upon the ground
From yonder town infection found its way;
Around me putrid dead and dying lay,
I trembled for his fate: but all my care
Avail'd not, for he breath'd the tainted air;
Sickness ensu'd-in terror and dismay
I nurs'd him in my arms both night and day,
When his soft skin from head to foot became
One swelling purple sore, unfit to name:
Hour after hour, when all was still beside,
When the pale night-light in its socket died,
Alone I sat; the thought still sooths my heart,
That surely I perform'd a mother's part,
Watching with such anxiety and pain
Till he might smile and look on me again;
But that was not to be-ask me no more:
GOD keep small-pox and blindness from your door!'
Now, ye who think, whose souls abroad take wing,
And trace out human troubles to their spring,
Say, should Heav'n grant us, in some hallow'd hour,
Means to divest this demon of his power,
To loose his horrid grasp from early worth,
To spread a saving conquest round the earth,
Till ev'ry land shall bow the grateful knee,
Would it not be a glorious day to see?-
That day is come! my soul, in strength arise,
Invoke no muse, no power below the skies;
To Heav'n the energies of verse belong,
Truth is the theme, and truth shall be the song;
Arm with conviction ev'ry joyful line,
Source of all mercies, for the praise is thine!
Sweet beam'd the star of peace upon those days
When Virtue watch'd my childhood's quiet ways,
Whence a warm spark of Nature's holy flame
Gave the farm-yard an honourable name,
But left one theme unsung: then, who had seen
In herds that feast upon the vernal green,
Or dreamt that in the blood of kine there ran
Blessings beyond the sustenance of man?
We tread the meadow, and we scent the thorn,
We hail the day-spring of a summer's morn
Nor mead at dawning day, nor thymy heath,
Transcends the fragrance of the heifer's breath:
May that dear fragrance, as it floats along
O'er ev'ry flow'r that lives in rustic song;
May all the sweets of meadows and of kine
Embalm, O Health! this offering at thy shrine.
Dear must that moment be when first the mind,
Ranging the paths of science unconfin'd,
Strikes a new light; when, obvious to the sense,
Springs the fresh spark of bright intelligence.
So felt the towering soul of MONTAGU,
Her sex's glory, and her country's too;
Who gave the spotted plague one deadly blow,
And bade its mitigated poison flow
With half its terrors; yet, with loathing still,
We hous'd a visitant with pow'r to kill.
Then when the healthful blood, though often tried,
Foil'd the keen lancet by the Severn side,
Resisting, uncontaminated still,
The purple pest and unremitting skill;
When the plain truth tradition seem'd to know,
By simply pointing to the harmless Cow,
Though wise distrust to reason might appeal;
What, when hope triumph'd, what did JENNER feel!
Where even hope itself could scarcely rise
To scan the vast, inestimable prize?
Perhaps supreme, alone, triumphant stood
The great, the conscious power of doing good,
The power to will, and wishes to embrace
Th' emancipation of the human race;
A joy that must all mortal praise outlive,
A wealth that grateful nations cannot give.
Forth sped the truth immediate from his hand,
And confirmations sprung in ev'ry land;
In ev'ry land, on beauty's lily arm,
On infant softness, like a magic charm,
Appear'd the gift that conquers as it goes;
The dairy's boast, the simple, saving Rose!
Momentous triumph-fiend! thy reign is o'er;
Thou, whose blind rage hath ravag'd ev'ry shore,
Whose name denotes destruction, whose foul breath
For ever hov'ring round the dart of death,
Fells, mercilessly fells, the brave and base,
Through all the kindreds of the human race.
Who has not heard, in warm, poetic tales,
Of eastern fragrance and Arabian gales?
Bowers of delight, of languor, and repose,
Where beauty triumph'd as the song arose?
Fancy may revel, fiction boldly dare,
But truth shall not forget that
Scourge of the world! who, borne on ev'ry wind,
From bow'rs of roses sprang to curse mankind.
The Indian palm thy devastation knows:
Thou sweep'st the regions of eternal snows:
Climbing the mighty period of his years,
The British oak his giant bulk uprears;
He, in his strength, while toll'd the passing bell,
Rejoic'd whole centuries as thy victims fell:
Armies have bled, and shouts of vict'ry rung,
deaths are all unsung:
'Twas thine, while victories claim'd th' immortal lay,
Through private life to cut thy desperate way;
And when full power the wondrous magnet gave
Ambition's sons to dare the ocean wave,
Thee, in their train of horrid ills, they drew
Beneath the blessed sunshine of Peru.
But why unskill'd th' historic page explore?
Why thus pursue thee to a foreign shore?
A homely narrative of days gone by,
Familiar griefs, and kindred's tender sigh
Shall still survive; for thou on ev'ry mind
Hast left some traces of thy wrath behind.
There dwelt, beside a brook that creeps along
Midst infant hills and meads unknown to song,
One to whom poverty and faith were giv'n,
Calm village silence, and the hope of heav'n:
Alone she dwelt; and while each morn brought peace
And health was smiling on her years' increase,
Sudden and fearful, rushing through her frame,
Unusual pains and feverish symptoms came.
Then, when debilitated, faint, and poor,
How sweet to hear a footstep at her door!
To see a neighbour watch life's silent sand,
To hear the sigh, and feel the helping hand!
Soon woe o'erspread the interdicted ground,
And consternation seiz'd the hamlets round:
Uprose the pest-its widow'd victim died;
And foul contagion spread on ev'ryside;
The helping neighbour for her kind regard,
dreadful tribute of reward,
, where six children, yielding to its pow'r,
Gave hope and patience a most trying hour;
One at her breast still drew the living stream,
And, sense of danger never marr'd his dream;
Yet all exclaim'd, and with a pitying eye,
'Whoe'er survives the shock,
that child will die!
But vain the fiat,-Heav'n restor'd them all,
And destin'd one of riper years to fall.
Midnight beheld the close of all his pain,
His grave was clos'd when midnight came again;
No bell was heard to toll, no funeral pray'r,
No kindred bow'd, no wife, no children there;
Its horrid nature could inspire a dread
That cut the bonds of custom like a thread
The humble church-tow'r higher seem'd to shew,
Illumin'd by their trembling light below;
The solemn night-breeze struck each shiv'ring check;
Religious reverence forbade to speak:
The starting Sexton his short sorrow chid
When the earth murmur'd on the coffin lid,
And falling bones and sighs of holy dread
Sounded a requiem to the silent dead!
'Why tell us tales of woe, thou who didst give
Thy soul to rural themes, and bade them live?
What means this zeal of thine, this kindling fire?
The rescu'd infant and the dying sire.'
Kind heart, who o'er the pictur'd Seasons glow'd,
When smiles approv'd the verse, or tears have flow'd,
Was then the lowly minstrel dear to thee?
Himself appeals-What, if
What, if those midnight sighs a farewel gave,
While hands, all trembling, clos'd his father's grave!
Though love enjoin'd not infant eyes to weep,
In manhood's zenith shall his feelings sleep?
Sleep not my soul! indulge a nobler flame;
the destroyer persecutes thy name.
Seven winter's cannot pluck from memory's store
That mark'd affliction which a brother bore;
That storm of trouble bursting on his head,
When the fiend came, and left
Yet, still superior to domestic woes,
The native vigour of his mind arose,
And, as new summers teem'd with brighter views,
He trac'd the wand'rings of his darling Muse,
And all was joy-this instant all is pain,
The foe implacable returns again,
And claims a sacrifice; the deed is done-
has fall'n, another son!
His young cheek even now is scarcely cold,
And shall his early doom remain untold?
No! let the tide of passion roll along,
be heard, and GOD will bless the song
Indignant Reason, Pity, Joy, arise,
And speak in thunder to the heart that sighs:
Speak loud to parents;-knew ye not the time
When age itself, and manhood's hardy prime,
With horror saw their short-liv'd friendships end.
Yet dar'd not visit e'en the dying friend?
Contagion, a foul serpent lurking near,
Mock'd Nature's sigh and Friendship's holy tear.
Love ye your children?-let that love arise,
Pronounce the sentence, and the serpent dies;
Bid welcome a mild stranger at your door,
Distress shall cease, those terrors reign no more.
Love ye your neighbours?-let that love be shown;
children while you guard your own;
Give not a foe dominion o'er your blood,
Plant not a poison, e'en to bring forth good;
For, woo the pest discreetly as you will,
Deadly infection must attend him still.
Then, let the serpent die! this glorious prize
Sets more than life and health before our eyes,
For beauty triumphs too! Beauty! sweet name,
The mother's feelings kindling into flame!
For, where dwells she, who, while the virtues grow.
With cold indifference marks the arching brow?
Or, with a lifeless heart and recreant blood,
Sighs not for daughters fair as well as good?
That sigh is nature, and cannot decay,
'Tis universal as the beams of day;
Man knows and feels its truth; for, Beauty's call
Rouses the coldest mortal of us all;
A glance warms age itself, and gives the boy
The pulse of rapture and the sigh of joy.
And is it then no conquest to insure
Our lilies spotless and our roses pure?
Is it no triumph that the lovely face
Inherits every line of Nature's grace?
That the sweet precincts of the laughing eye
Dread no rude scars, no foul deformity?
Our boast, old Time himself shall not impair.
Of British maids pre-eminently fair;
But, as he rolls his years on years along,
Shall keep the record of immortal song;
For song shall rise with ampler power to speak
The new-born influence of Beauty's cheek,
Shall catch new fires in every sacred grove,
Fresh inspiration from the lips of Love,
And write for ever on the rising mind-
DEAD IS ONE MORTAL FOE OF HUMAN KIND!
Yes, we have conquer'd! and the thought should raise
A spirit in our prayers as well as praise,
For who will say, in Nature's wide domain
There lurk not remedies for every pain?
Who will assert, where Turkish banners fly,
Woe still shall reign-the plague shall never die?
Or who predict, with bosom all unblest,
An everlasting fever in the West?
Forbid it Heav'n!-Hope cheers us with a smile,
The sun of Mercy's risen on our isle:
Its beams already, o'er th' Atlantic wave,
Pierce the dark forests of the suffering brave:
There, e'en th' abandon'd sick imbib'd a glow,
When warrior nations, resting on the bow,
Astonish'd heard the joyful rumour rise,
And call'd the council of their great and wise:
The truth by female pray'rs was urg'd along,
Youth ceas'd the chorus of the warrior song,
And present ills bade present feelings press
With all the eloquence of deep distress;
Till forth their chiefs o'er dying thousands trod
To seek the white man and his bounteous God:
Well sped their errand; with a patriot zeal
They spread the blessing for their country's weal.
Where India's swarthy millions crowd the strand,
And round that isle, which crowns their pointed land,
Speeds the good angel with the balmy breath,
And checks the dreadful tyranny of death:
Whate'er we hear to hurt the peace of life,
Of Candian treachery and British strife,
The sword of commerce, nations bought and sold,
They owe to England more than mines of gold;
England has sent a balm for private woe;
England strikes down the nations' bitterest foe.
Europe, amidst the clangor of her arms,
While life was threaten'd with a thousand harms,
And Charity was freezing to its source,
Still saw fair Science keep her steady course;
And, while whole legions fell, by friends deplor'd,
New germs of life sprung up beneath the sword,
And spread amain.-Then, in our bosoms, why
Must exultation mingle with a sigh?
Thought takes the retrospect of years just fled,
And, conjuring up the spirits of the dead,
Whispers each dear and venerated name
Of the last victims ere the blessing came,
Worthies, who through the lands that gave them birth
Breath'd the strong evidence of growing worth;
Parents, cut down in life's meridian day,
And childhood's thousand thousand swept away;
Life's luckless mariners! ye, we deplore
Who sunk within a boat's length of the shore
A stranger youth, from his meridian sky,
Buoyant with hopes, came here but came to
O'er his sad fate I've ponder'd hours away,
It suits the languor of a gloomy day:
He left his bamboo groves, his pleasant shore,
He left his friends to hear new oceans roar,
All confident, ingenuous, and bold,
He heard the wonders by the white men told;
With firm assurance trod the rolling deck,
And saw his isle diminish to a speck,
Plough'd the rough waves, and gain'd our northern clime,
In manhood's ripening sense and nature's prime.
Oh! had the fiend been vanquished ere he came,
The gen'rous youth had spread my country's fame.
Had known that honour dwells among the brave,
And England had not prov'd the stranger's grave:
Then, ere his waning sand of life had run,
Poor ABBA THULE might hare seen his son!
Rise, exultation! spirit, louder speak!
Pity, dislodge thy dewdrops from my cheek:
Sleep sound, forefathers; sleep, brave stranger boy,
While truth impels the current of my joy:
To all mankind, to all the earth 'tis giv'n,
Conviction travels like the light of heav'n:
Go, blessing, from thy birth-place still expand,
For that dear birth-place is my native land!
A nation consecrates th' auspicious day,
And wealth, and rank, and talents lead the way!
Time, with triumphant hand, shall truth diffuse,
Nor ask the unbought efforts of the Muse.
Mothers! the pledges of your loves caress,
And heave no sighs but sighs of tenderness.
Fathers, be firm! keep down the fallen foe,
And on the memory of domestic woe
Build resolution,-Victory shall increase
Th' incalculable wealth of private peace;
And such a victory, unstain'd with gore,
That strews its laurels at the cottage door,
Sprung from the farm, and from the yellow mead,
Should be the glory of the pastoral reed.
In village paths, hence, may we never find
Their youth on crutches, and their children blind;
Nor, when the milk-maid, early from her bed,
Beneath the may bush that embow'rs her head,
Sings like a bird, e'er grieve to meet again
The fair cheek injur'd by the scars of pain;
Pure, in her morning path, where'er she treads,
Like April sunshine and the flow'rs it feeds,
She'll boast new conquests; Love, new shafts to fling;
And Life, an uncontaminated spring.
In pure delight didst thou, my soul, pursue
A task to conscience and to kindred due,
And, true to feeling and to Nature, deem
The dairy's boast thy own appropriate theme;
Hail now the meed of pleasurable hours,
And, at the foot of Science, strew thy flow'rs!
The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea - Book The First
Awake a louder and a loftier strain!
Beloved harp, whose tones have oft beguiled
My solitary sorrows, when I left
The scene of happier hours, and wandered far,
A pale and drooping stranger; I have sat
(While evening listened to the convent bell)
On the wild margin of the Rhine, and wooed
Thy sympathies, 'a-weary of the world,'
And I have found with thee sad fellowship,
Yet always sweet, whene'er my languid hand
Passed carelessly o'er the responsive wires,
While unambitious of the laurelled meed
That crowns the gifted bard, I only asked
Some stealing melodies, the heart might love,
And a brief sonnet to beguile my tears!
But I had hope that one day I might wake
Thy strings to loftier utterance; and now,
Bidding adieu to glens, and woods, and streams,
And turning where, magnificent and vast,
Main Ocean bursts upon my sight, I strike,--
Rapt in the theme on which I long have mused,--
Strike the loud lyre, and as the blue waves rock,
Swell to their solemn roar the deepening chords.
Lift thy indignant billows high, proclaim
Thy terrors, Spirit of the hoary seas!
I sing thy dread dominion, amid wrecks,
And storms, and howling solitudes, to Man
Submitted: awful shade of Camoens
Bend from the clouds of heaven.
By the bold tones
Of minstrelsy, that o'er the unknown surge
(Where never daring sail before was spread)
Echoed, and startled from his long repose
The indignant Phantom of the stormy Cape;
Oh, let me think that in the winds I hear
Thy animating tones, whilst I pursue
With ardent hopes, like thee, my venturous way,
And bid the seas resound my song! And thou,
Father of Albion's streams, majestic Thames,
Amid the glittering scene, whose long-drawn wave
Goes noiseless, yet with conscious pride, beneath
The thronging vessels' shadows; nor through scenes
More fair, the yellow Tagus, or the Nile,
That ancient river, winds. THOU to the strain
Shalt haply listen, that records the MIGHT
Of OCEAN, like a giant at thy feet
Vanquished, and yielding to thy gentle state
The ancient sceptre of his dread domain!
All was one waste of waves, that buried deep
Earth and its multitudes: the Ark alone,
High on the cloudy van of Ararat,
Rested; for now the death-commissioned storm
Sinks silent, and the eye of day looks out
Dim through the haze; while short successive gleams
Flit o'er the weltering Deluge as it shrinks,
Or the transparent rain-drops, falling few,
Distinct and larger glisten. So the Ark
Rests upon Ararat; but nought around
Its inmates can behold, save o'er th' expanse
Of boundless waters, the sun's orient orb
Stretching the hull's long shadow, or the moon
In silence, through the silver-cinctured clouds,
Sailing as she herself were lost, and left
In Nature's loneliness!
But oh, sweet Hope,
Thou bid'st a tear of holy ecstasy
Start to their eye-lids, when at night the Dove,
Weary, returns, and lo! an olive leaf
Wet in her bill: again she is put forth,
When the seventh morn shines on the hoar abyss:--
Due evening comes: her wings are heard no more!
The dawn awakes, not cold and dripping sad,
But cheered with lovelier sunshine; far away
The dark-red mountains slow their naked peaks
Upheave above the waste; Imaus gleams;
Fume the huge torrents on his desert sides;
Till at the awful voice of Him who rules
The storm, the ancient Father and his train
On the dry land descend.
Here let us pause.
No noise in the vast circuit of the globe
Is heard; no sound of human stirring: none
Of pasturing herds, or wandering flocks; nor song
Of birds that solace the forsaken woods
From morn till eve; save in that spot that holds
The sacred Ark: there the glad sounds ascend,
And Nature listens to the breath of Life.
The fleet horse bounds, high-neighing to the wind
That lifts his streaming mane; the heifer lows;
Loud sings the lark amid the rainbow's hues;
The lion lifts him muttering; MAN comes forth--
He kneels upon the earth--he kisses it;
And to the GOD who stretched that radiant bow,
He lifts his trembling transports.
From one spot
Alone of earth such sounds ascend. How changed
The human prospect! when from realm to realm,
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle,
Flung to the stormy main, man's murmuring race,
Various and countless as the shells that strew
The ocean's winding marge, are spread; from shores
Sinensian, where the passing proas gleam
Innumerous 'mid the floating villages:
To Acapulco west, where laden deep
With gold and gems rolls the superb galleon,
Shadowing the hoar Pacific: from the North,
Where on some snowy promontory's height
The Lapland wizard beats his drum, and calls
The spirits of the winds, to th' utmost South,
Where savage Fuego shoots its cold white peaks,
Dreariest of lands, and the poor Pecherais
Shiver and moan along its waste of snows.
So stirs the earth; and for the Ark that passed
Alone and darkling o'er the dread abyss,
Ten thousand and ten thousand barks are seen
Fervent and glancing on the friths and sounds;
From the Bermudian that, with masts inclined,
Shoots like a dart along; to the tall ship
That, like a stately swan, in conscious pride
Breasts beautiful the rising surge, and throws
The gathered waters back, and seems to move
A living thing, along her lucid way
Streaming in white-winged glory to the sun!
Some waft the treasures of the east; some bear
Their country's dark artillery o'er the surge
Frowning; some in the southern solitudes,
Bound on discovery of new regions, spread,
'Mid rocks of driving ice, that crash around,
Their weather-beaten mainsail; or explore
Their perilous way from isle to isle, and wind
The tender social tie; connecting man,
Wherever scattered, with his fellow-man.
How many ages rolled away ere thus,
From NATURE'S GENERAL WRECK, the world's great scene
Was tenanted! See from their sad abode,
At Heaven's dread voice, heard from the solitude,
As in the dayspring of created things,
The sad survivors of a buried world
Come forth; on them, though desolate their seat,
The sky looks down with smiles; for the broad sun,
That to the west slopes his untired career,
Hangs o'er the water's brim. The aged sire,
Now rising from his evening sacrifice,
Amid his offspring stands, and lifts his eyes,
Moist with a tear, to the bright bow: the fire
Yet on the altar burns, whose trailing fume
Goes slowly up, and marks the lucid cope
Of the soft sky, where distant clouds hang still
And beautiful. So placid Evening steals
After the lurid storm, like a sweet form
Of fairy following a perturbed shape
Of giant terror, that in darkness strode.
Slow sinks the lord of day; the clustering clouds
More ardent burn; confusion of rich hues,
Crimson, and gold, and purple, bright, inlay
Their varied edges; till before the eye,
As their last lustre fades, small silver stars
Succeed; and twinkling each in its own sphere,
Thick as the frost's unnumbered spangles, strew
The slowly-paling heavens. Tired Nature seems
Like one who, struggling long for life, had beat
The billows, and scarce gained a desert crag,
O'er-spent, to sink to rest: the tranquil airs
Whisper repose. Now sunk in sleep reclines
The Father of the world; then the sole moon
Mounts high in shadowy beauty; every cloud
Retires, as in the blue space she moves on
Amid the fulgent orbs supreme, and looks
The queen of heaven and earth. Stilly the streams
Retiring sound; midnight's high hollow vault
Faint echoes; stilly sound the distant streams.
When, hark! a strange and mingled wail, and cries
As of ten thousand thousand perishing!
A phantom, 'mid the shadows of the dead,
Before the holy Patriarch, as he slept,
Stood terrible:--Dark as a storm it stood
Of thunder and of winds, like hollow seas
Remote; meantime a voice was heard: Behold,
Noah, the foe of thy weak race! my name
Destruction, whom thy sons in yonder plains
Shall worship, and all grim, with mooned horns
Paint fabling: when the flood from off the earth
Before it swept the living multitudes,
I rode amid the hurricane; I heard
The universal shriek of all that lived.
In vain they climbed the rocky heights: I struck
The adamantine mountains, and like dust
They crumbled in the billowy foam. My hall,
Deep in the centre of the seas, received
The victims as they sank! Then, with dark joy,
I sat amid ten thousand carcases,
That weltered at my feet! But THOU and THINE
Have braved my utmost fury: what remains
But vengeance, vengeance on thy hated race;--
And be that sheltering shrine the instrument!
Thence, taught to stem the wild sea when it roars,
In after-times to lands remote, where roamed
The naked man and his wan progeny,
They, more instructed in the fatal use
Of arts and arms, shall ply their way; and thou
Wouldst bid the great deep cover thee to see
The sorrows of thy miserable sons:
But turn, and view in part the truths I speak.
He said, and vanished with a dismal sound
Of lamentation from his grisly troop.
Then saw the just man in his dream what seemed
A new and savage land: huge forests stretched
Their world of wood, shading like night the banks
Of torrent-foaming rivers, many a league
Wandering and lost in solitudes; green isles
Here shone, and scattered huts beneath the shade
Of branching palms were seen; whilst in the sun
A naked infant playing, stretched his hand
To reach a speckled snake, that through the leaves
Oft darted, or its shining volumes rolled
From the woods a sable man
Came, as from hunting; in his arms he took
The smiling child, that with the feathers played
Which nodded on his brow; the sheltering hut
Received them, and the cheerful smoke went up
Above the silent woods.
Anon was heard
The sound as of strange thunder, from the mouths
Of hollow engines, as, with white sails spread,
Tall vessels, hulled like the great Ark, approached
The verdant shores: they, in a woody cove
Safe-stationed, hang their pennants motionless
Beneath the palms. Meantime, with shouts and song,
The boat rows hurrying to the land; nor long
Ere the great sea for many a league is tinged,
While corpse on corpse, down the red torrent rolled,
Floats, and the inmost forests murmur--Blood.
Now vast savannahs meet the view, where high
Above the arid grass the serpent lifts
His tawny crest:--Not far a vessel rides
Upon the sunny main, and to the shore
Black savage tribes a mournful captive urge,
Who looks to heaven with anguish. Him they cast
Bound in the rank hold of the prison-ship,
With many a sad associate in despair,
Each panting chained to his allotted space;
And moaning, whilst their wasted eye-balls roll.
Another scene appears: the naked slave
Writhes to the bloody lash; but more to view
Nature forbad, for starting from his dream
The just Man woke. Shuddering he gazed around;
He saw the earliest beam of morning shine
Slant on the hills without; he heard the breath
Of placid kine, but troubled thoughts and sad
Arose. He wandered forth; and now far on,
By heavy musings led, reached a ravine
Most mild amid the tempest-riven rocks,
Through whose dark pass he saw the flood remote
Gray-spreading, while the mists of morn went up.
He paused; when on his lonely pathway flashed
A light, and sounds as of approaching wings
Instant were heard. A radiant form appeared,
Celestial, and with heavenly accent said:
Noah, I come commissioned from above,
Where angels move before th' eternal throne
Of heaven's great King in glory, to dispel
The mists of darkness from thy sight; for know,
Not unpermitted of th' Eternal One
The shadows of thy melancholy dream
Hung o'er thee slumbering: Mine the task to show
Futurity's faint scene;--now follow me.
He said; and up to the unclouded height
Of that great Eastern mountain, that surveys
Dim Asia, they ascended. Then his brow
The Angel touched, and cleared with whispered charm
The mortal mist before his eyes.--At once
(As in the skiey mirage, when the seer
From lonely Kilda's western summit sees
A wondrous scene in shadowy vision rise)
The NETHER WORLD, with seas and shores, appeared
Submitted to his view: but not as then,
A melancholy waste, deform and sad;
But fair as now the green earth spreads, with woods,
Champaign, and hills, and many winding streams
Robed, the magnificent illusion rose.
He saw in mazy longitude devolved
The mighty Brahma-Pooter; to the East
Thibet and China, and the shining sea
That sweeps the inlets of Japan, and winds
Amid the Curile and Aleutian isles,
Pale to the north. Siberia's snowy scenes
Are spread; Jenisca and the freezing Ob
Appear, and many a forest's shady track
Far as the Baltic, and the utmost bounds
Of Scandinavia; thence the eye returns:
And lo! great Lebanon--abrupt and dark
With pines, and airy Carmel, rising slow
Above the midland main, where hang the capes
Of Italy and Greece; swart Africa,
Beneath the parching sun, her long domain
Reveals, the mountains of the Moon, the source
Of Nile, the wild mysterious Niger, lost
Amid the torrid sands; and to the south
Her stormy cape. Beyond the misty main
The weary eye scarce wanders, when behold
Plata, through vaster territory poured;
And Andes, sweeping the horizon's tract,
Mightiest of mountains! whose eternal snows
Feel not the nearer sun; whose umbrage chills
The murmuring ocean; whose volcanic fires
A thousand nations view, hung like the moon
High in the middle waste of heaven; thy range,
Shading far off the Southern hemisphere,
A dusky file Titanic.
Before our great forefather's view the globe
Appeared; with seas, and shady continents,
And verdant isles, and mountains lifting dark
Their forests, and indenting rivers, poured
In silvery maze. And, Lo! the Angel said,
These scenes, O Noah, thy posterity
Shall people; but remote and scattered wide,
They shall forget their GOD, and see no trace,
Save dimly, of their Great Original.
Rude caves shall be their dwellings: till, with noise
Of multitudes, imperial cities rise.
But the Arch Fiend, the foe of GOD and man,
Shall fling his spells; and, 'mid illusions drear,
Blear Superstition shall arise, the earth
Eclipsing.--Deep in caves, vault within vault
Far winding; or in night of thickest woods,
Where no bird sings; or 'mid huge circles gray
Of uncouth stone, her aspect wild, and pale
As the terrific flame that near her burns,
She her mysterious rites, 'mid hymns and cries,
Shall wake, and to her shapeless idols, vast
And smeared with blood, or shrines of lust, shall lead
Her votaries, maddening as she waves her torch,
With visage more expanded, to the groans
Of human sacrifice.
Nor think that love
And happiness shall dwell in vales remote:
The naked man shall see the glorious sun,
And think it but enlightens his poor isle,
Hid in the watery waste; cold on his limbs
The ocean-spray shall beat; his Deities
Shall be the stars, the thunder, and the winds;
And if a stranger on his rugged shores
Be cast, his offered blood shall stain the strand.
O wretched man! who then shall raise thee up
From this thy dark estate, forlorn and lost?
The Patriarch said.
The Angel answered mild,
His God, who destined him to noblest ends!
But mutual intercourse shall stir at first
The sunk and grovelling spirit, and from sleep
The sullen energies of man rouse up,
As of a slumbering giant. He shall walk
Sublime amid the works of GOD: the earth
Shall own his wide dominion; the great sea
Shall toss in vain its roaring waves; his eye
Shall scan the bright orbs as they roll above
Glorious, and his expanding heart shall burn,
As wide and wider in magnificence
The vast scene opens; in the winds and clouds,
The seas, and circling planets, he shall see
The shadow of a dread Almighty move.
Then shall the Dayspring rise, before whose beam
The darkness of the world is past:--For, hark!
Seraphs and angel-choirs with symphonies
Acclaiming of ten thousand golden harps,
Amid the bursting clouds of heaven revealed,
At once, in glory jubilant, they sing--
God the Redeemer liveth! He who took
Man's nature on him, and in human shroud
Veiled his immortal glory! He is risen!
God the Redeemer liveth! And behold!
The gates of life and immortality
Open to all that breathe!
Oh, might the strains
But win the world to love; meek Charity
Should lift her looks and smile; and with faint voice
The weary pilgrim of the earth exclaim,
As close his eye-lids--Death, where is thy sting?
O Grave, where is thy victory?
Whom ocean's melancholy wastes divide,
Who slumber to the sullen surge, awake,
Break forth into thanksgiving, for the bark
That rolled upon the desert deep, shall bear
The tidings of great joy to all that live,
Tidings of life and light.
Oh, were those men,
(The Patriarch raised his drooping looks, and said)
Such in my dream I saw, who to the isles
And peaceful sylvan scenes o'er the wide seas
Came tilting; then their murderous instruments
Lifted, that flashed to the indignant sun,
Whilst the poor native died:--Oh, were those men
Instructed in the laws of holier love,
Thou hast displayed?
The Angel meek replied--
Call rather fiends of hell those who abuse
The mercies they receive: that such, indeed,
On whom the light of clearer knowledge beams,
Should wander forth, and for the tender voice
Of charity should scatter crimes and woe,
And drench, where'er they pass, the earth with blood,
Might make ev'n angels weep:
But the poor tribes
That groaned and died, deem not them innocent
As injured; more ensanguined rites and deeds
Of deepest stain were theirs; and what if God,
So to approve his justice, and exact
Most even retribution, blood for blood,
Bid forth the Angel of the storm of death!
Thou saw'st, indeed, the seeming innocence
Of man the savage; but thou saw'st not all.
Behold the scene more near! hear the shrill whoop
Of murderous war! See tribes on neighbour tribes
Rush howling, their red hatchets wielding high,
And shouting to their barbarous gods! Behold
The captive bound, yet vaunting direst hate,
And mocking his tormentors, while they gash
His flesh unshrinking, tear his eyeballs, burn
His beating breast! Hear the dark temples ring
To groans and hymns of murderous sacrifice;
While the stern priest, the rites of horror done,
With hollow-echoing chaunt lifts up the heart
Of the last victim 'mid the yelling throng,
Quivering, and red, and reeking to the sun!
Reclaimed by gradual intercourse, his heart
Warmed with new sympathies, the forest-chief
Shall cast the bleeding hatchet to his gods
Of darkness, and one Lord of all adore--
Maker of heaven and earth.
Let it suffice,
He hath permitted EVIL for a while
To mingle its deep hues and sable shades
Amid life's fair perspective, as thou saw'st
Of late the blackening clouds; but in the end
All these shall roll away, and evening still
Come smilingly, while the great sun looks down
On the illumined scene. So Charity
Shall smile on all the earth, and Nature's God
Look down upon his works; and while far off
The shrieking night-fiends fly, one voice shall rise
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle--
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
Peace and good-will to men!
Thou rest in hope,
And Him with meekness and with trust adore!
He said, and spreading bright his ampler wing,
Flew to the heaven of heavens; the meek man bowed
Adoring, and, with pensive thoughts resigned,
Bent from the aching height his lonely way.
A Voice From The Factories
WHEN fallen man from Paradise was driven,
Forth to a world of labour, death, and care;
Still, of his native Eden, bounteous Heaven
Resolved one brief memorial to spare,
And gave his offspring an imperfect share
Of that lost happiness, amid decay;
Making their first approach to life seem fair,
And giving, for the Eden past away,
CHILDHOOD, the weary life's long happy holyday.
Sacred to heavenly peace, those years remain!
And when with clouds their dawn is overcast,
Unnatural seem the sorrow and the pain
(Which rosy joy flies forth to banish fast,
Because that season's sadness may not last).
Light is their grief! a word of fondness cheers
The unhaunted heart; the shadow glideth past;
Unknown to them the weight of boding fears,
And soft as dew on flowers their bright, ungrieving tears.
See the Stage-Wonder (taught to earn its bread
By the exertion of an infant skill),
Forsake the wholesome slumbers of its bed,
And mime, obedient to the public will.
Where is the heart so cold that does not thrill
With a vexatious sympathy, to see
That child prepare to play its part, and still
With simulated airs of gaiety
Rise to the dangerous rope, and bend the supple knee?
Painted and spangled, trembling there it stands,
Glances below for friend or father's face,
Then lifts its small round arms and feeble hands
With the taught movements of an artist's grace:
Leaves its uncertain gilded resting-place--
Springs lightly as the elastic cord gives way--
And runs along with scarce perceptible pace--
Like a bright bird upon a waving spray,
Fluttering and sinking still, whene'er the branches play.
Now watch! a joyless and distorted smile
Its innocent lips assume; (the dancer's leer!)
Conquering its terror for a little while:
Then lets the TRUTH OF INFANCY appear,
And with a stare of numbed and childish fear
Looks sadly towards the audience come to gaze
On the unwonted skill which costs so dear,
While still the applauding crowd, with pleased amaze,
Ring through its dizzy ears unwelcome shouts of praise.
What is it makes us feel relieved to see
That hapless little dancer reach the ground;
With its whole spirit's elasticity
Thrown into one glad, safe, triumphant bound?
Why are we sad, when, as it gazes round
At that wide sea of paint, and gauze, and plumes,
(Once more awake to sense, and sight, and sound,)
The nature of its age it re-assumes,
And one spontaneous smile at length its face illumes?
Because we feel, for Childhood's years and strength,
Unnatural and hard the task hath been;--
Because our sickened souls revolt at length,
And ask what infant-innocence may mean,
Thus toiling through the artificial scene;--
Because at that word, CHILDHOOD, start to birth
All dreams of hope and happiness serene--
All thoughts of innocent joy that visit earth--
Prayer--slumber--fondness--smiles--and hours of rosy mirth.
And therefore when we hear the shrill faint cries
Which mark the wanderings of the little sweep;
Or when, with glittering teeth and sunny eyes,
The boy-Italian's voice, so soft and deep,
Asks alms for his poor marmoset asleep;
They fill our hearts with pitying regret,
Those little vagrants doomed so soon to weep--
As though a term of joy for all was set,
And that their share of Life's long suffering was not yet.
Ever a toiling child doth make us sad:
'T is an unnatural and mournful sight,
Because we feel their smiles should be so glad,
Because we know their eyes should be so bright.
What is it, then, when, tasked beyond their might,
They labour all day long for others' gain,--
Nay, trespass on the still and pleasant night,
While uncompleted hours of toil remain?
Poor little FACTORY SLAVES--for You these lines complain!
Beyond all sorrow which the wanderer knows,
Is that these little pent-up wretches feel;
Where the air thick and close and stagnant grows,
And the low whirring of the incessant wheel
Dizzies the head, and makes the senses reel:
There, shut for ever from the gladdening sky,
Vice premature and Care's corroding seal
Stamp on each sallow cheek their hateful die,
Line the smooth open brow, and sink the saddened eye.
For them the fervid summer only brings
A double curse of stifling withering heat;
For them no flowers spring up, no wild bird sings,
No moss-grown walks refresh their weary feet;--
No river's murmuring sound;--no wood-walk, sweet
With many a flower the learned slight and pass;--
Nor meadow, with pale cowslips thickly set
Amid the soft leaves of its tufted grass,--
Lure them a childish stock of treasures to amass.
Have we forgotten our own infancy,
That joys so simple are to them denied?--
Our boyhood's hopes--our wanderings far and free,
Where yellow gorse-bush left the common wide
And open to the breeze?--The active pride
Which made each obstacle a pleasure seem;
When, rashly glad, all danger we defied,
Dashed through the brook by twilight's fading gleam,
Or scorned the tottering plank, and leapt the narrow stream?
In lieu of this,--from short and bitter night,
Sullen and sad the infant labourer creeps;
He joys not in the glow of morning's light,
But with an idle yearning stands and weeps,
Envying the babe that in its cradle sleeps:
And ever as he slowly journeys on,
His listless tongue unbidden silence keeps;
His fellow-labourers (playmates hath he none)
Walk by, as sad as he, nor hail the morning sun.
Mark the result. Unnaturally debarred
All nature's fresh and innocent delights,
While yet each germing energy strives hard,
And pristine good with pristine evil fights;
When every passing dream the heart excites,
And makes even guarded virtue insecure;
Untaught, unchecked, they yield as vice invites:
With all around them cramped, confined, impure,
Fast spreads the moral plague which nothing new shall cure.
Yes, this reproach is added; (infamous
In realms which own a Christian monarch's sway!)
Not suffering only is their portion, thus
Compelled to toil their youthful lives away:
Excessive labour works the SOUL'S decay--
Quenches the intellectual light within--
Crushes with iron weight the mind's free play--
Steals from us LEISURE purer thoughts to win--
And leaves us sunk and lost in dull and native sin.
Yet in the British Senate men rise up,
(The freeborn and the fathers of our land!)
And while these drink the dregs of Sorrow's cup,
Deny the sufferings of the pining band.
With nice-drawn calculations at command,
They prove--rebut--explain--and reason long;
Proud of each shallow argument they stand,
And prostitute their utmost powers of tongue
Feebly to justify this great and glaring wrong.
So rose, with such a plausible defence
Of the unalienable RIGHT OF GAIN,
Those who against Truth's brightest eloquence
Upheld the cause of torture and of pain:
And fear of Property's Decrease made vain,
For years, the hope of Christian Charity
To lift the curse from SLAVERY'S dark domain,
And send across the wide Atlantic sea
The watchword of brave men--the thrilling shout, 'BE FREE!'
What is to be a slave? Is't not to spend
A life bowed down beneath a grinding ill?--
To labour on to serve another's end,--
To give up leisure, health, and strength, and skill--
And give up each of these against your will?
Hark to the angry answer:--'Theirs is not
A life of slavery; if they labour,--still
We pay their toil. Free service is their lot;
And what their labour yields, by us is fairly got.'
Oh, Men! blaspheme not Freedom! Are they free
Who toil until the body's strength gives way?
Who may not set a term for Liberty,
Who have no time for food, or rest, or play,
But struggle through the long unwelcome day
Without the leisure to be good or glad?
Such is their service--call it what you may.
Poor little creatures, overtasked and sad,
Your Slavery hath no name,--yet is its Curse as bad!
Again an answer. ''T is their parents' choice.
By some employ the poor man's child must earn
Its daily bread; and infants have no voice
In what the allotted task shall be: they learn
What answers best, or suits the parents' turn.'
Mournful reply! Do not your hearts inquire
Who tempts the parents' penury? They yearn
Toward their offspring with a strong desire,
But those who starve will sell, even what they most require.
We grant their class must labour--young and old;
We grant the child the needy parents' tool:
But still our hearts a better plan behold;
No bright Utopia of some dreaming fool,
But rationally just, and good by rule.
Not against TOIL, but TOIL'S EXCESS we pray,
(Else were we nursed in Folly's simplest school);
That so our country's hardy children may
Learn not to loathe, but bless, the well apportioned day.
One more reply! The last reply--the great
Answer to all that sense or feeling shows,
To which all others are subordinate:--
'The Masters of the Factories must lose
By the abridgement of these infant woes.
Show us the remedy which shall combine
Our equal gain with their increased repose--
Which shall not make our trading class repine,
But to the proffered boon its strong effects confine.'
Oh! shall it then be said that TYRANT acts
Are those which cause our country's looms to thrive?
That Merchant England's prosperous trade exacts
This bitter sacrifice, e'er she derive
That profit due, for which the feeble strive?
Is her commercial avarice so keen,
That in her busy multitudinous hive
Hundreds must die like insects, scarcely seen,
While the thick-thronged survivors work where they have been?
Forbid it, Spirit of the glorious Past
Which gained our Isle the surname of 'The Free,'
And made our shores a refuge at the last
To all who would not bend the servile knee,
The vainly-vanquished sons of Liberty!
Here ever came the injured, the opprest,
Compelled from the Oppressor's face to flee--
And found a home of shelter and of rest
In the warm generous heart that beat in England's breast.
Here came the Slave, who straightway burst his chain,
And knew that none could ever bind him more;
Here came the melancholy sons of Spain;
And here, more buoyant Gaul's illustrious poor
Waited the same bright day that shone before.
Here rests the Enthusiast Pole! and views afar
With dreaming hope, from this protecting shore,
The trembling rays of Liberty's pale star
Shine forth in vain to light the too-unequal war!
And shall REPROACH cling darkly to the name
Which every memory so much endears?
Shall we, too, tyrannise,--and tardy Fame
Revoke the glory of our former years,
And stain Britannia's flag with children's tears?
So shall the mercy of the English throne
Become a by-word in the Nation's ears,
As one who pitying heard the stranger's groan,
But to these nearer woes was cold and deaf as stone.
Are there not changes made which grind the Poor?
Are there not losses every day sustained,--
Deep grievances, which make the spirit sore?
And what the answer, when these have complained?
'For crying evils there hath been ordained
The REMEDY OF CHANGE; to obey its call
Some individual loss must be disdained,
And pass as unavoidable and small,
Weighed with the broad result of general good to all.'
Oh! such an evil now doth cry aloud!
And CHANGE should be by generous hearts begun,
Though slower gain attend the prosperous crowd;
Lessening the fortunes for their children won.
Why should it grieve a father, that his son
Plain competence must moderately bless?
That he must trade, even as his sire has done,
Not born to independent idleness,
Though honestly above all probable distress?
Rejoice! Thou hast not left enough of gold
From the lined heavy ledger, to entice
His drunken hand, irresolutely bold,
To squander it in haggard haunts of vice:--
The hollow rattling of the uncertain dice
Eats not the portion which thy love bestowed;--
Unable to afford that PLEASURE'S price,
Far off he slumbers in his calm abode,
And leaves the Idle Rich to follow Ruin's road.
Happy his lot! For him there shall not be
The cold temptation given by vacant time;
Leaving his young and uncurbed spirit free
To wander thro' the feverish paths of crime!
For him the Sabbath bell's returning chime
Not vainly ushers in God's day of rest;
No night of riot clouds the morning's prime:
Alert and glad, not languid and opprest,
He wakes, and with calm soul is the Creator blest.
Ye save for children! Fathers, is there not
A plaintive magic in the name of child,
Which makes you feel compassion for their lot
On whom Prosperity hath never smiled?
When with your OWN an hour hath been beguiled
(For whom you hoard the still increasing store),
Surely, against the face of Pity mild,
Heart-hardening Custom vainly bars the door,
For that less favoured race--THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR.
'The happy homes of England!'--they have been
A source of triumph, and a theme for song;
And surely if there be a hope serene
And beautiful, which may to Earth belong,
'T is when (shut out the world's associate throng,
And closed the busy day's fatiguing hum),
Still waited for with expectation strong,
Welcomed with joy, and overjoyed to come,
The good man goes to seek the twilight rest of home.
There sits his gentle Wife, who with him knelt
Long years ago at God's pure altar-place;
Still beautiful,--though all that she hath felt
Hath calmed the glory of her radiant face,
And given her brow a holier, softer grace.
Mother of SOULS IMMORTAL, she doth feel
A glow from Heaven her earthly love replace;
Prayer to her lip more often now doth steal,
And meditative hope her serious eyes reveal.
Fondly familiar is the look she gives
As he returns, who forth so lately went,--
For they together pass their happy lives;
And many a tranquil evening have they spent
Since, blushing, ignorantly innocent,
She vowed, with downcast eyes and changeful hue,
To love Him only. Love fulfilled, hath lent
Its deep repose; and when he meets her view,
Her soft look only says,--'I trust--and I am true.'
Scattered like flowers, the rosy children play--
Or round her chair a busy crowd they press;
But, at the FATHER'S coming, start away,
With playful struggle for his loved caress,
And jealous of the one he first may bless.
To each, a welcoming word is fondly said;
He bends and kisses some; lifts up the less;
Admires the little cheek, so round and red,
Or smooths with tender hand the curled and shining head.
Oh! let us pause, and gaze upon them now.
Is there not one--beloved and lovely boy!
With Mirth's bright seal upon his open brow,
And sweet fond eyes, brimful of love and joy?
He, whom no measure of delight can cloy,
The daring and the darling of the set;
He who, though pleased with every passing toy,
Thoughtless and buoyant to excess, could yet
Never a gentle word or kindly deed forget?
And one, more fragile than the rest, for whom--
As for the weak bird in a crowded nest--
Are needed all the fostering care of home
And the soft comfort of the brooding breast:
One, who hath oft the couch of sickness prest!
On whom the Mother looks, as it goes by,
With tenderness intense, and fear supprest,
While the soft patience of her anxious eye
Blends with 'God's will be done,'--'God grant thou may'st not die!'
And is there not the elder of the band?
She with the gentle smile and smooth bright hair,
Waiting, some paces back,--content to stand
Till these of Love's caresses have their share;
Knowing how soon his fond paternal care
Shall seek his violet in her shady nook,--
Patient she stands--demure, and brightly fair--
Copying the meekness of her Mother's look,
And clasping in her hand the favourite story-book.
Wake, dreamer!--Choose;--to labour Life away,
Which of these little precious ones shall go
(Debarred of summer-light and cheerful play)
To that receptacle for dreary woe,
The Factory Mill?--Shall He, in whom the glow
Of Life shines bright, whose free limbs' vigorous tread
Warns us how much of beauty that we know
Would fade, when he became dispirited,
And pined with sickened heart, and bowed his fainting head?
Or shall the little quiet one, whose voice
So rarely mingles in their sounds of glee,
Whose life can bid no living thing rejoice,
But rather is a long anxiety;--
Shall he go forth to toil? and keep the free
Frank boy, whose merry shouts and restless grace
Would leave all eyes that used his face to see,
Wistfully gazing towards that vacant space
Which makes their fireside seem a lone and dreary place?
Or, sparing these, send Her whose simplest words
Have power to charm,--whose warbled, childish song,
Fluent and clear and bird-like, strikes the chords
Of sympathy among the listening throng,--
Whose spirits light, and steps that dance along,
Instinctive modesty and grace restrain:
The fair young innocent who knows no wrong,--
Whose slender wrists scarce hold the silken skein
Which the glad Mother winds;--shall She endure this pain?
Away! The thought--the thought alone brings tears!
THEY labour--they, the darlings of our lives!
The flowers and the sunbeams of our fleeting years;
From whom alone our happiness derives
A lasting strength, which every shock survives;
The green young trees beneath whose arching boughs
(When failing Energy no longer strives,)
Our wearied age shall find a cool repose;--
THEY toil in torture!--No--the painful picture close.
Ye shudder,--nor behold the vision more!
Oh, Fathers! is there then one law for these,
And one for the pale children of the Poor,--
That to their agony your hearts can freeze;
Deny their pain, their toil, their slow disease;
And deem with false complaining they encroach
Upon your time and thought? Is yours the Ease
Which misery vainly struggles to approach,
Whirling unthinking by, in Luxury's gilded coach?
Examine and decide. Watch through his day
One of these little ones. The sun hath shone
An hour, and by the ruddy morning's ray,
The last and least, he saunters on alone.
See where, still pausing on the threshold stone,
He stands, as loth to lose the bracing wind;
With wistful wandering glances backward thrown
On all the light and glory left behind,
And sighs to think that HE must darkly be confined!
Enter with him. The stranger who surveys
The little natives of that dreary place
(Where squalid suffering meets his shrinking gaze),
Used to the glory of a young child's face,
Its changeful light, its coloured sparkling grace,
(Gleams of Heaven's sunshine on our shadowed earth!)
Starts at each visage wan, and bold, and base,
Whose smiles have neither innocence nor mirth,--
And comprehends the Sin original from birth.
There the pale Orphan, whose unequal strength
Loathes the incessant toil it must pursue,
Pines for the cool sweet evening's twilight length,
The sunny play-hour, and the morning's dew:
Worn with its cheerless life's monotonous hue,
Bowed down, and faint, and stupefied it stands;
Each half-seen object reeling in its view--
While its hot, trembling, languid little hands
Mechanically heed the Task-master's commands.
There, sounds of wailing grief and painful blows
Offend the ear, and startle it from rest;
(While the lungs gasp what air the place bestows
Or misery's joyless vice, the ribald jest,
Breaks the sick silence: staring at the guest
Who comes to view their labour, they beguile
The unwatched moment; whispers half supprest
And mutterings low, their faded lips defile,--
While gleams from face to face a strange and sullen smile.
These then are his Companions: he, too young
To share their base and saddening merriment,
Sits by: his little head in silence hung;
His limbs cramped up; his body weakly bent;
Toiling obedient, till long hours so spent
Produce Exhaustion's slumber, dull and deep.
The Watcher's stroke,--bold--sudden--violent,--
Urges him from that lethargy of sleep,
And bids him wake to Life,--to labour and to weep!
But the day hath its End. Forth then he hies
With jaded, faltering step, and brow of pain;
Creeps to that shed,--his HOME,--where happy lies
The sleeping babe that cannot toil for Gain;
Where his remorseful Mother tempts in vain
With the best portion of their frugal fare:
Too sick to eat--too weary to complain--
He turns him idly from the untasted share,
Slumbering sinks down unfed, and mocks her useless care.
Weeping she lifts, and lays his heavy head
(With a woman's grieving tenderness)
On the hard surface of his narrow bed;
Bends down to give a sad unfelt caress,
And turns away;--willing her God to bless,
That, weary as he is, he need not fight
Against that long-enduring bitterness,
The VOLUNTARY LABOUR of the Night,
But sweetly slumber on till day's returning light.
Vain hope! Alas! unable to forget
The anxious task's long, heavy agonies,
In broken sleep the victim labours yet!
Waiting the boding stroke that bids him rise,
He marks in restless fear each hour that flies--
Anticipates the unwelcome morning prime--
And murmuring feebly, with unwakened eyes,
'Mother! Oh Mother! is it yet THE TIME?'--
Starts at the moon's pale ray--or clock's far distant chime.
Such is his day and night! Now then return
Where your OWN slumber in protected ease;
They whom no blast may pierce, no sun may burn;
The lovely, on whose cheeks the wandering breeze
Hath left the rose's hue. Ah! not like these
Does the pale infant-labourer ask to be:
He craves no tempting food--no toys to please--
Not Idleness,--but less of agony;
Not Wealth,--but comfort, rest, CONTENTED POVERTY.
There is, among all men, in every clime,
A difference instinctive and unschooled:
God made the MIND unequal. From all time
By fierceness conquered, or by cunning fooled,
The World hath had its Rulers and its Ruled:--
Yea--uncompelled--men abdicate free choice,
Fear their own rashness, and, by thinking cooled,
Follow the counsel of some trusted voice;--
A self-elected sway, wherein their souls rejoice.
Thus, for the most part, willing to obey,
Men rarely set Authority at naught:
Albeit a weaker or a worse than they
May hold the rule with such importance fraught:
And thus the peasant, from his cradle taught
That some must own, while some must till the land,
Rebels not--murmurs not--even in his thought.
Born to his lot, he bows to high command,
And guides the furrowing plough with a contented hand.
But, if the weight which habit renders light
Is made to gall the Serf who bends below--
The dog that watched and fawned, prepares to bite!
Too rashly strained, the cord snaps from the bow--
Too tightly curbed, the steeds their riders throw--
And so, (at first contented his fair state
Of customary servitude to know,)
Too harshly ruled, the poor man learns to hate
And curse the oppressive law that bids him serve the Great.
THEN first he asks his gloomy soul the CAUSE
Of his discomfort; suddenly compares--
Reflects--and with an angry Spirit draws
The envious line between his lot and theirs,
Questioning the JUSTICE of the unequal shares.
And from the gathering of this discontent,
Where there is strength, REVOLT his standard rears;
Where there is weakness, evermore finds vent
The sharp annoying cry of sorrowful complaint.
Therefore should Mercy, gentle and serene,
Sit by the Ruler's side, and share his Throne:--
Watch with unerring eye the passing scene,
And bend her ear to mark the feeblest groan;
Lest due Authority be overthrown,
And they that ruled perceive (too late confest!)
Permitted Power might still have been their own,
Had they but watched that none should be opprest--
No just complaint despised--no WRONG left unredrest.
Nor should we, Christians in a Christian land,
Forget who smiled on helpless infancy,
And blest them with divinely gentle hand.--
'Suffer that little children come to me:'
Such were His words to whom we bow the knee!
These to our care the Saviour did commend;
And shall we His bequest treat carelessly,
Who yet our full protection would extend
To the lone Orphan child left by an Earthly Friend?
No! rather what the Inspired Law imparts
To guide our ways, and make our path more sure;
Blending with Pity (native to our hearts),
Let us to these, who patiently endure
Neglect, and penury, and toil, secure
The innocent hopes that to their age belong:
So, honouring Him, the Merciful and Pure,
Who watches when the Oppressor's arm grows strong,--
And helpeth them to right--the Weak--who suffer wrong!
Sonnets from the Portuguese
I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,--
"Guess now who holds thee!"--"Death," I said, But, there,
The silver answer rang, "Not Death, but Love."
But only three in all God's universe
Have heard this word thou hast said,--Himself, beside
Thee speaking, and me listening! and replied
One of us . . . that was God, . . . and laid the curse
So darkly on my eyelids, as to amerce
My sight from seeing thee,--that if I had died,
The death-weights, placed there, would have signified
Less absolute exclusion. "Nay" is worse
From God than from all others, O my friend!
Men could not part us with their worldly jars,
Nor the seas change us, nor the tempests bend;
Our hands would touch for all the mountain-bars:
And, heaven being rolled between us at the end,
We should but vow the faster for the stars.
Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
On one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing. Thou, bethink thee, art
A guest for queens to social pageantries,
With gages from a hundred brighter eyes
Than tears even can make mine, to play thy part
Of chief musician. What hast thou to do
With looking from the lattice-lights at me,
A poor, tired, wandering singer, singing through
The dark, and leaning up a cypress tree?
The chrism is on thine head,--on mine, the dew,--
And Death must dig the level where these agree.
Thou hast thy calling to some palace-floor,
Most gracious singer of high poems! where
The dancers will break footing, from the care
Of watching up thy pregnant lips for more.
And dost thou lift this house's latch too poor
For hand of thine? and canst thou think and bear
To let thy music drop here unaware
In folds of golden fulness at my door?
Look up and see the casement broken in,
The bats and owlets builders in the roof!
My cricket chirps against thy mandolin.
Hush, call no echo up in further proof
Of desolation! there's a voice within
That weeps . . . as thou must sing . . . alone, aloof.
I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I over-turn
The ashes at thy feet. Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen greyness. If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps. But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The grey dust up, . . . those laurels on thine head,
O my Beloved, will not shield thee so,
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath. Stand further off then! go!
Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore--
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.
The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
And this . . . this lute and song . . . loved yesterday,
(The singing angels know) are only dear
Because thy name moves right in what they say.
What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,
And laid them on the outside of the wall
For such as I to take or leave withal,
In unexpected largesse? am I cold,
Ungrateful, that for these most manifold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so; not cold,--but very poor instead.
Ask God who knows. For frequent tears have run
The colours from my life, and left so dead
And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done
To give the same as pillow to thy head.
Go farther! let it serve to trample on.
Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations? O my fears,
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That givers of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love--which were unjust.
Beloved, I only love thee! let it pass.
Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax; an equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:
And love is fire. And when I say at need
I love thee . . . mark! . . . I love thee--in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine. There's nothing low
In love, when love the lowest: meanest creatures
Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
And what I feel, across the inferior features
Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
How that great work of Love enhances Nature's.
And therefore if to love can be desert,
I am not all unworthy. Cheeks as pale
As these you see, and trembling knees that fail
To bear the burden of a heavy heart,--
This weary minstrel-life that once was girt
To climb Aornus, and can scarce avail
To pipe now 'gainst the valley nightingale
A melancholy music,--why advert
To these things? O Beloved, it is plain
I am not of thy worth nor for thy place!
And yet, because I love thee, I obtain
From that same love this vindicating grace
To live on still in love, and yet in vain,--
To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face.
Indeed this very love which is my boast,
And which, when rising up from breast to brow,
Doth crown me with a ruby large enow
To draw men's eyes and prove the inner cost,--
This love even, all my worth, to the uttermost,
I should not love withal, unless that thou
Hadst set me an example, shown me how,
When first thine earnest eyes with mine were crossed,
And love called love. And thus, I cannot speak
Of love even, as a good thing of my own:
Thy soul hath snatched up mine all faint and weak,
And placed it by thee on a golden throne,--
And that I love (O soul, we must be meek!)
Is by thee only, whom I love alone.
And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
The love I bear thee, finding words enough,
And hold the torch out, while the winds are rough,
Between our faces, to cast light on each?--
I drop it at thy feet. I cannot teach
My hand to hold my spirits so far off
From myself--me--that I should bring thee proof
In words, of love hid in me out of reach.
Nay, let the silence of my womanhood
Commend my woman-love to thy belief,--
Seeing that I stand unwon, however wooed,
And rend the garment of my life, in brief,
By a most dauntless, voiceless fortitude,
Lest one touch of this heart convey its grief.
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
"I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.
Accuse me not, beseech thee, that I wear
Too calm and sad a face in front of thine;
For we two look two ways, and cannot shine
With the same sunlight on our brow and hair.
On me thou lookest with no doubting care,
As on a bee shut in a crystalline;
Since sorrow hath shut me safe in love's divine,
And to spread wing and fly in the outer air
Were most impossible failure, if I strove
To fail so. But I look on thee--on thee--
Beholding, besides love, the end of love,
Hearing oblivion beyond memory;
As one who sits and gazes from above,
Over the rivers to the bitter sea.
And yet, because thou overcomest so,
Because thou art more noble and like a king,
Thou canst prevail against my fears and fling
Thy purple round me, till my heart shall grow
Too close against thine heart henceforth to know
How it shook when alone. Why, conquering
May prove as lordly and complete a thing
In lifting upward, as in crushing low!
And as a vanquished soldier yields his sword
To one who lifts him from the bloody earth,
Even so, Beloved, I at last record,
Here ends my strife. If thou invite me forth,
I rise above abasement at the word.
Make thy love larger to enlarge my worth!
My poet, thou canst touch on all the notes
God set between His After and Before,
And strike up and strike off the general roar
Of the rushing worlds a melody that floats
In a serene air purely. Antidotes
Of medicated music, answering for
Mankind's forlornest uses, thou canst pour
From thence into their ears. God's will devotes
Thine to such ends, and mine to wait on thine.
How, Dearest, wilt thou have me for most use?
A hope, to sing by gladly? or a fine
Sad memory, with thy songs to interfuse?
A shade, in which to sing--of palm or pine?
A grave, on which to rest from singing? Choose.
I never gave a lock of hair away
To a man, Dearest, except this to thee,
Which now upon my fingers thoughtfully
I ring out to the full brown length and say
"Take it." My day of youth went yesterday;
My hair no longer bounds to my foot's glee,
Nor plant I it from rose- or myrtle-tree,
As girls do, any more: it only may
Now shade on two pale cheeks the mark of tears,
Taught drooping from the head that hangs aside
Through sorrow's trick. I thought the funeral-shears
Would take this first, but Love is justified,--
Take it thou,--finding pure, from all those years,
The kiss my mother left here when she died.
The soul's Rialto hath its merchandize;
I barter curl for curl upon that mart,
And from my poet's forehead to my heart
Receive this lock which outweighs argosies,--
As purply black, as erst to Pindar's eyes
The dim purpureal tresses gloomed athwart
The nine white Muse-brows. For this counterpart, . . .
The bay crown's shade, Beloved, I surmise,
Still lingers on thy curl, it is so black!
Thus, with a fillet of smooth-kissing breath,
I tie the shadows safe from gliding back,
And lay the gift where nothing hindereth;
Here on my heart, as on thy brow, to lack
No natural heat till mine grows cold in death.
Beloved, my Beloved, when I think
That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sat alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
No moment at thy voice, but, link by link,
Went counting all my chains as if that so
They never could fall off at any blow
Struck by thy possible hand,--why, thus I drink
Of life's great cup of wonder! Wonderful,
Never to feel thee thrill the day or night
With personal act or speech,--nor ever cull
Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Thou sawest growing! Atheists are as dull,
Who cannot guess God's presence out of sight.
Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem a "cuckoo-song," as thou dost treat it,
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Beloved, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt's pain
Cry, "Speak once more--thou lovest!" Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me--toll
The silver iterance!--only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curved point,--what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Beloved,--where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead,
Wouldst thou miss any life in losing mine?
And would the sun for thee more coldly shine
Because of grave-damps falling round my head?
I marvelled, my Beloved, when I read
Thy thought so in the letter. I am thine--
But . . . so much to thee? Can I pour thy wine
While my hands tremble? Then my soul, instead
Of dreams of death, resumes life's lower range.
Then, love me, Love! look on me--breathe on me!
As brighter ladies do not count it strange,
For love, to give up acres and degree,
I yield the grave for thy sake, and exchange
My near sweet view of heaven, for earth with thee!
Let the world's sharpness like a clasping knife
Shut in upon itself and do no harm
In this close hand of Love, now soft and warm,
And let us hear no sound of human strife
After the click of the shutting. Life to life--
I lean upon thee, Dear, without alarm,
And feel as safe as guarded by a charm
Against the stab of worldlings, who if rife
Are weak to injure. Very whitely still
The lilies of our lives may reassure
Their blossoms from their roots, accessible
Alone to heavenly dews that drop not fewer;
Growing straight, out of man's reach, on the hill.
God only, who made us rich, can make us poor.
A heavy heart, Beloved, have I borne
From year to year until I saw thy face,
And sorrow after sorrow took the place
Of all those natural joys as lightly worn
As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn
By a beating heart at dance-time. Hopes apace
Were changed to long despairs, till God's own grace
Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn
My heavy heart. Then thou didst bid me bring
And let it drop adown thy calmly great
Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing
Which its own nature does precipitate,
While thine doth close above it, mediating
Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.
I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then thou didst come--to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours, (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts)
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
My own Beloved, who hast lifted me
From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,
And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown
A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully
Shines out again, as all the angels see,
Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own,
Who camest to me when the world was gone,
And I who looked for only God, found thee!
I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.
As one who stands in dewless asphodel,
Looks backward on the tedious time he had
In the upper life,--so I, with bosom-swell,
Make witness, here, between the good and bad,
That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.
My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee to-night.
This said,--he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand . . . a simple thing,
Yet I wept for it!--this, . . . the paper's light . . .
Said, Dear I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God's future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine--and so its ink has paled
With lying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this . . . O Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!
I think of thee!--my thoughts do twine and bud
About thee, as wild vines, about a tree,
Put out broad leaves, and soon there's nought to see
Except the straggling green which hides the wood.
Yet, O my palm-tree, be it understood
I will not have my thoughts instead of thee
Who art dearer, better! Rather, instantly
Renew thy presence; as a strong tree should,
Rustle thy boughs and set thy trunk all bare,
And let these bands of greenery which insphere thee,
Drop heavily down,--burst, shattered everywhere!
Because, in this deep joy to see and hear thee
And breathe within thy shadow a new air,
I do not think of thee--I am too near thee.
I see thine image through my tears to-night,
And yet to-day I saw thee smiling. How
Refer the cause?--Beloved, is it thou
Or I, who makes me sad? The acolyte
Amid the chanted joy and thankful rite
May so fall flat, with pale insensate brow,
On the altar-stair. I hear thy voice and vow,
Perplexed, uncertain, since thou art out of sight,
As he, in his swooning ears, the choir's amen.
Beloved, dost thou love? or did I see all
The glory as I dreamed, and fainted when
Too vehement light dilated my ideal,
For my soul's eyes? Will that light come again,
As now these tears come--falling hot and real?
Thou comest! all is said without a word.
I sit beneath thy looks, as children do
In the noon-sun, with souls that tremble through
Their happy eyelids from an unaverred
Yet prodigal inward joy. Behold, I erred
In that last doubt! and yet I cannot rue
The sin most, but the occasion--that we two
Should for a moment stand unministered
By a mutual presence. Ah, keep near and close,
Thou dove-like help! and when my fears would rise,
With thy broad heart serenely interpose:
Brood down with thy divine sufficiencies
These thoughts which tremble when bereft of those,
Like callow birds left desert to the skies.
The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man's love!--more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
'Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced,--
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and doat.
Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear
The name I used to run at, when a child,
From innocent play, and leave the cowslips plied,
To glance up in some face that proved me dear
With the look of its eyes. I miss the clear
Fond voices which, being drawn and reconciled
Into the music of Heaven's undefiled,
Call me no longer. Silence on the bier,
While I call God--call God!--so let thy mouth
Be heir to those who are now exanimate.
Gather the north flowers to complete the south,
And catch the early love up in the late.
Yes, call me by that name,--and I, in truth,
With the same heart, will answer and not wait.
With the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee
As those, when thou shalt call me by my name--
Lo, the vain promise! is the same, the same,
Perplexed and ruffled by life's strategy?
When called before, I told how hastily
I dropped my flowers or brake off from a game.
To run and answer with the smile that came
At play last moment, and went on with me
Through my obedience. When I answer now,
I drop a grave thought, break from solitude;
Yet still my heart goes to thee--ponder how--
Not as to a single good, but all my good!
Lay thy hand on it, best one, and allow
That no child's foot could run fast as this blood.
If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange
And be all to me? Shall I never miss
Home-talk and blessing and the common kiss
That comes to each in turn, nor count it strange,
When I look up, to drop on a new range
Of walls and floors, another home than this?
Nay, wilt thou fill that place by me which is
Filled by dead eyes too tender to know change
That's hardest. If to conquer love, has tried,
To conquer grief, tries more, as all things prove,
For grief indeed is love and grief beside.
Alas, I have grieved so I am hard to love.
Yet love me--wilt thou? Open thy heart wide,
And fold within, the wet wings of thy dove.
When we met first and loved, I did not build
Upon the event with marble. Could it mean
To last, a love set pendulous between
Sorrow and sorrow? Nay, I rather thrilled,
Distrusting every light that seemed to gild
The onward path, and feared to overlean
A finger even. And, though I have grown serene
And strong since then, I think that God has willed
A still renewable fear . . . O love, O troth . . .
Lest these enclasped hands should never hold,
This mutual kiss drop down between us both
As an unowned thing, once the lips being cold.
And Love, be false! if he, to keep one oath,
Must lose one joy, by his life's star foretold.
Pardon, oh, pardon, that my soul should make
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.
It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake
Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit.
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,
His guardian sea-god to commemorate,
Should set a sculptured porpoise, gills a-snort
And vibrant tail, within the temple-gate.
First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white.
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its "O, list,"
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, "My love, my own."
Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me,
(Against which, years have beat thus blanchingly,
With their rains,) and behold my soul's true face,
The dim and weary witness of life's race,--
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul's distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,--because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God's infliction, nor death's neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,--
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!
Oh, yes! they love through all this world of ours!
I will not gainsay love, called love forsooth:
I have heard love talked in my early youth,
And since, not so long back but that the flowers
Then gathered, smell still. Mussulmans and Giaours
Throw kerchiefs at a smile, and have no ruth
For any weeping. Polypheme's white tooth
Slips on the nut if, after frequent showers,
The shell is over-smooth,--and not so much
Will turn the thing called love, aside to hate
Or else to oblivion. But thou art not such
A lover, my Beloved! thou canst wait
Through sorrow and sickness, to bring souls to touch,
And think it soon when others cry "Too late."
I thank all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine. Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart's
Or temple's occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice's sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art's
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To harken what I said between my tears, . . .
Instruct me how to thank thee! Oh, to shoot
My soul's full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, and salute
Love that endures, from life that disappears!
My future will not copy fair my past--
I wrote that once; and thinking at my side
My ministering life-angel justified
The word by his appealing look upcast
To the white throne of God, I turned at last,
And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied
To angels in thy soul! Then I, long tried
By natural ills, received the comfort fast,
While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim's staff
Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled.
I seek no copy now of life's first half:
Leave here the pages with long musing curled,
And write me new my future's epigraph,
New angel mine, unhoped for in the world!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through,
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers.
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days I withdrew
From my heart's ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding; yet here's eglantine,
Here's ivy!--take them, as I used to do
Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.
The Odyssey: Book 19
Ulysses was left in the cloister, pondering on the means whereby
with Minerva's help he might be able to kill the suitors. Presently he
said to Telemachus, "Telemachus, we must get the armour together and
take it down inside. Make some excuse when the suitors ask you why you
have removed it. Say that you have taken it to be out of the way of
the smoke, inasmuch as it is no longer what it was when Ulysses went
away, but has become soiled and begrimed with soot. Add to this more
particularly that you are afraid Jove may set them on to quarrel
over their wine, and that they may do each other some harm which may
disgrace both banquet and wooing, for the sight of arms sometimes
tempts people to use them."
Telemachus approved of what his father had said, so he called
nurse Euryclea and said, "Nurse, shut the women up in their room,
while I take the armour that my father left behind him down into the
store room. No one looks after it now my father is gone, and it has
got all smirched with soot during my own boyhood. I want to take it
down where the smoke cannot reach it."
"I wish, child," answered Euryclea, "that you would take the
management of the house into your own hands altogether, and look after
all the property yourself. But who is to go with you and light you
to the store room? The maids would have so, but you would not let
"The stranger," said Telemachus, "shall show me a light; when people
eat my bread they must earn it, no matter where they come from."
Euryclea did as she was told, and bolted the women inside their
room. Then Ulysses and his son made all haste to take the helmets,
shields, and spears inside; and Minerva went before them with a gold
lamp in her hand that shed a soft and brilliant radiance, whereon
Telemachus said, "Father, my eyes behold a great marvel: the walls,
with the rafters, crossbeams, and the supports on which they rest
are all aglow as with a flaming fire. Surely there is some god here
who has come down from heaven."
"Hush," answered Ulysses, "hold your peace and ask no questions, for
this is the manner of the gods. Get you to your bed, and leave me here
to talk with your mother and the maids. Your mother in her grief
will ask me all sorts of questions."
On this Telemachus went by torch-light to the other side of the
inner court, to the room in which he always slept. There he lay in his
bed till morning, while Ulysses was left in the cloister pondering
on the means whereby with Minerva's help he might be able to kill
Then Penelope came down from her room looking like Venus or Diana,
and they set her a seat inlaid with scrolls of silver and ivory near
the fire in her accustomed place. It had been made by Icmalius and had
a footstool all in one piece with the seat itself; and it was
covered with a thick fleece: on this she now sat, and the maids came
from the women's room to join her. They set about removing the
tables at which the wicked suitors had been dining, and took away
the bread that was left, with the cups from which they had drunk. They
emptied the embers out of the braziers, and heaped much wood upon them
to give both light and heat; but Melantho began to rail at Ulysses a
second time and said, "Stranger, do you mean to plague us by hanging
about the house all night and spying upon the women? Be off, you
wretch, outside, and eat your supper there, or you shall be driven out
with a firebrand."
Ulysses scowled at her and answered, "My good woman, why should
you be so angry with me? Is it because I am not clean, and my
clothes are all in rags, and because I am obliged to go begging
about after the manner of tramps and beggars generall? I too was a
rich man once, and had a fine house of my own; in those days I gave to
many a tramp such as I now am, no matter who he might be nor what he
wanted. I had any number of servants, and all the other things which
people have who live well and are accounted wealthy, but it pleased
Jove to take all away from me; therefore, woman, beware lest you too
come to lose that pride and place in which you now wanton above your
fellows; have a care lest you get out of favour with your mistress,
and lest Ulysses should come home, for there is still a chance that he
may do so. Moreover, though he be dead as you think he is, yet by
Apollo's will he has left a son behind him, Telemachus, who will
note anything done amiss by the maids in the house, for he is now no
longer in his boyhood."
Penelope heard what he was saying and scolded the maid, "Impudent
baggage, said she, "I see how abominably you are behaving, and you
shall smart for it. You knew perfectly well, for I told you myself,
that I was going to see the stranger and ask him about my husband, for
whose sake I am in such continual sorrow."
Then she said to her head waiting woman Eurynome, "Bring a seat with
a fleece upon it, for the stranger to sit upon while he tells his
story, and listens to what I have to say. I wish to ask him some
Eurynome brought the seat at once and set a fleece upon it, and as
soon as Ulysses had sat down Penelope began by saying, "Stranger, I
shall first ask you who and whence are you? Tell me of your town and
"Madam;" answered Ulysses, "who on the face of the whole earth can
dare to chide with you? Your fame reaches the firmament of heaven
itself; you are like some blameless king, who upholds righteousness,
as the monarch over a great and valiant nation: the earth yields its
wheat and barley, the trees are loaded with fruit, the ewes bring
forth lambs, and the sea abounds with fish by reason of his virtues,
and his people do good deeds under him. Nevertheless, as I sit here in
your house, ask me some other question and do not seek to know my race
and family, or you will recall memories that will yet more increase my
sorrow. I am full of heaviness, but I ought not to sit weeping and
wailing in another person's house, nor is it well to be thus
grieving continually. I shall have one of the servants or even
yourself complaining of me, and saying that my eyes swim with tears
because I am heavy with wine."
Then Penelope answered, "Stranger, heaven robbed me of all beauty,
whether of face or figure, when the Argives set sail for Troy and my
dear husband with them. If he were to return and look after my affairs
I should be both more respected and should show a better presence to
the world. As it is, I am oppressed with care, and with the
afflictions which heaven has seen fit to heap upon me. The chiefs from
all our islands- Dulichium, Same, and Zacynthus, as also from Ithaca
itself, are wooing me against my will and are wasting my estate. I can
therefore show no attention to strangers, nor suppliants, nor to
people who say that they are skilled artisans, but am all the time
brokenhearted about Ulysses. They want me to marry again at once,
and I have to invent stratagems in order to deceive them. In the first
place heaven put it in my mind to set up a great tambour-frame in my
room, and to begin working upon an enormous piece of fine
needlework. Then I said to them, 'Sweethearts, Ulysses is indeed dead,
still, do not press me to marry again immediately; wait- for I would
not have my skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have
finished making a pall for the hero Laertes, to be ready against the
time when death shall take him. He is very rich, and the women of
the place will talk if he is laid out without a pall.' This was what I
said, and they assented; whereon I used to keep working at my great
web all day long, but at night I would unpick the stitches again by
torch light. I fooled them in this way for three years without their
finding it out, but as time wore on and I was now in my fourth year,
in the waning of moons, and many days had been accomplished, those
good-for-nothing hussies my maids betrayed me to the suitors, who
broke in upon me and caught me; they were very angry with me, so I was
forced to finish my work whether I would or no. And now I do not see
how I can find any further shift for getting out of this marriage.
My parents are putting great pressure upon me, and my son chafes at
the ravages the suitors are making upon his estate, for he is now
old enough to understand all about it and is perfectly able to look
after his own affairs, for heaven has blessed him with an excellent
disposition. Still, notwithstanding all this, tell me who you are
and where you come from- for you must have had father and mother of
some sort; you cannot be the son of an oak or of a rock."
Then Ulysses answered, "madam, wife of Ulysses, since you persist in
asking me about my family, I will answer, no matter what it costs
me: people must expect to be pained when they have been exiles as long
as I have, and suffered as much among as many peoples. Nevertheless,
as regards your question I will tell you all you ask. There is a
fair and fruitful island in mid-ocean called Crete; it is thickly
peopled and there are nine cities in it: the people speak many
different languages which overlap one another, for there are Achaeans,
brave Eteocretans, Dorians of three-fold race, and noble Pelasgi.
There is a great town there, Cnossus, where Minos reigned who every
nine years had a conference with Jove himself. Minos was father to
Deucalion, whose son I am, for Deucalion had two sons Idomeneus and
myself. Idomeneus sailed for Troy, and I, who am the younger, am
called Aethon; my brother, however, was at once the older and the more
valiant of the two; hence it was in Crete that I saw Ulysses and
showed him hospitality, for the winds took him there as he was on
his way to Troy, carrying him out of his course from cape Malea and
leaving him in Amnisus off the cave of Ilithuia, where the harbours
are difficult to enter and he could hardly find shelter from the winds
that were then xaging. As soon as he got there he went into the town
and asked for Idomeneus, claiming to be his old and valued friend, but
Idomeneus had already set sail for Troy some ten or twelve days
earlier, so I took him to my own house and showed him every kind of
hospitality, for I had abundance of everything. Moreover, I fed the
men who were with him with barley meal from the public store, and
got subscriptions of wine and oxen for them to sacrifice to their
heart's content. They stayed with me twelve days, for there was a gale
blowing from the North so strong that one could hardly keep one's feet
on land. I suppose some unfriendly god had raised it for them, but
on the thirteenth day the wind dropped, and they got away."
Many a plausible tale did Ulysses further tell her, and Penelope
wept as she listened, for her heart was melted. As the snow wastes
upon the mountain tops when the winds from South East and West have
breathed upon it and thawed it till the rivers run bank full with
water, even so did her cheeks overflow with tears for the husband
who was all the time sitting by her side. Ulysses felt for her and was
for her, but he kept his eyes as hard as or iron without letting
them so much as quiver, so cunningly did he restrain his tears.
Then, when she had relieved herself by weeping, she turned to him
again and said: "Now, stranger, I shall put you to the test and see
whether or no you really did entertain my husband and his men, as
you say you did. Tell me, then, how he was dressed, what kind of a man
he was to look at, and so also with his companions."
"Madam," answered Ulysses, "it is such a long time ago that I can
hardly say. Twenty years are come and gone since he left my home,
and went elsewhither; but I will tell you as well as I can
recollect. Ulysses wore a mantle of purple wool, double lined, and
it was fastened by a gold brooch with two catches for the pin. On
the face of this there was a device that showed a dog holding a
spotted fawn between his fore paws, and watching it as it lay
panting upon the ground. Every one marvelled at the way in which these
things had been done in gold, the dog looking at the fawn, and
strangling it, while the fawn was struggling convulsively to escape.
As for the shirt that he wore next his skin, it was so soft that it
fitted him like the skin of an onion, and glistened in the sunlight to
the admiration of all the women who beheld it. Furthermore I say,
and lay my saying to your heart, that I do not know whether Ulysses
wore these clothes when he left home, or whether one of his companions
had given them to him while he was on his voyage; or possibly some one
at whose house he was staying made him a present of them, for he was a
man of many friends and had few equals among the Achaeans. I myself
gave him a sword of bronze and a beautiful purple mantle, double
lined, with a shirt that went down to his feet, and I sent him on
board his ship with every mark of honour. He had a servant with him, a
little older than himself, and I can tell you what he was like; his
shoulders were hunched, he was dark, and he had thick curly hair.
His name was Eurybates, and Ulysses treated him with greater
familiarity than he did any of the others, as being the most
like-minded with himself."
Penelope was moved still more deeply as she heard the indisputable
proofs that Ulysses laid before her; and when she had again found
relief in tears she said to him, "Stranger, I was already disposed
to pity you, but henceforth you shall be honoured and made welcome
in my house. It was I who gave Ulysses the clothes you speak of. I
took them out of the store room and folded them up myself, and I
gave him also the gold brooch to wear as an ornament. Alas! I shall
never welcome him home again. It was by an ill fate that he ever set
out for that detested city whose very name I cannot bring myself
even to mention."
Then Ulysses answered, "Madam, wife of Ulysses, do not disfigure
yourself further by grieving thus bitterly for your loss, though I can
hardly blame you for doing so. A woman who has loved her husband and
borne him children, would naturally be grieved at losing him, even
though he were a worse man than Ulysses, who they say was like a
god. Still, cease your tears and listen to what I can tell I will hide
nothing from you, and can say with perfect truth that I have lately
heard of Ulysses as being alive and on his way home; he is among the
Thesprotians, and is bringing back much valuable treasure that he
has begged from one and another of them; but his ship and all his crew
were lost as they were leaving the Thrinacian island, for Jove and the
sun-god were angry with him because his men had slaughtered the
sun-god's cattle, and they were all drowned to a man. But Ulysses
stuck to the keel of the ship and was drifted on to the land of the
Phaecians, who are near of kin to the immortals, and who treated him
as though he had been a god, giving him many presents, and wishing
to escort him home safe and sound. In fact Ulysses would have been
here long ago, had he not thought better to go from land to land
gathering wealth; for there is no man living who is so wily as he
is; there is no one can compare with him. Pheidon king of the
Thesprotians told me all this, and he swore to me- making
drink-offerings in his house as he did so- that the ship was by the
water side and the crew found who would take Ulysses to his own
country. He sent me off first, for there happened to be a
Thesprotian ship sailing for the wheat-growing island of Dulichium,
but he showed me all treasure Ulysses had got together, and he had
enough lying in the house of king Pheidon to keep his family for ten
generations; but the king said Ulysses had gone to Dodona that he
might learn Jove's mind from the high oak tree, and know whether after
so long an absence he should return to Ithaca openly or in secret.
So you may know he is safe and will be here shortly; he is close at
hand and cannot remain away from home much longer; nevertheless I will
confirm my words with an oath, and call Jove who is the first and
mightiest of all gods to witness, as also that hearth of Ulysses to
which I have now come, that all I have spoken shall surely come to
pass. Ulysses will return in this self same year; with the end of this
moon and the beginning of the next he will be here."
"May it be even so," answered Penelope; "if your words come true you
shall have such gifts and such good will from me that all who see
you shall congratulate you; but I know very well how it will be.
Ulysses will not return, neither will you get your escort hence, for
so surely as that Ulysses ever was, there are now no longer any such
masters in the house as he was, to receive honourable strangers or
to further them on their way home. And now, you maids, wash his feet
for him, and make him a bed on a couch with rugs and blankets, that he
may be warm and quiet till morning. Then, at day break wash him and
anoint him again, that he may sit in the cloister and take his meals
with Telemachus. It shall be the worse for any one of these hateful
people who is uncivil to him; like it or not, he shall have no more to
do in this house. For how, sir, shall you be able to learn whether
or no I am superior to others of my sex both in goodness of heart
and understanding, if I let you dine in my cloisters squalid and ill
clad? Men live but for a little season; if they are hard, and deal
hardly, people wish them ill so long as they are alive, and speak
contemptuously of them when they are dead, but he that is righteous
and deals righteously, the people tell of his praise among all
lands, and many shall call him blessed."
Ulysses answered, "Madam, I have foresworn rugs and blankets from
the day that I left the snowy ranges of Crete to go on shipboard. I
will lie as I have lain on many a sleepless night hitherto. Night
after night have I passed in any rough sleeping place, and waited
for morning. Nor, again, do I like having my feet washed; I shall
not let any of the young hussies about your house touch my feet;
but, if you have any old and respectable woman who has gone through as
much trouble as I have, I will allow her to wash them."
To this Penelope said, "My dear sir, of all the guests who ever
yet came to my house there never was one who spoke in all things
with such admirable propriety as you do. There happens to be in the
house a most respectable old woman- the same who received my poor dear
husband in her arms the night he was born, and nursed him in
infancy. She is very feeble now, but she shall wash your feet."
"Come here," said she, "Euryclea, and wash your master's age-mate; I
suppose Ulysses' hands and feet are very much the same now as his are,
for trouble ages all of us dreadfully fast."
On these words the old woman covered her face with her hands; she
began to weep and made lamentation saying, "My dear child, I cannot
think whatever I am to do with you. I am certain no one was ever
more god-fearing than yourself, and yet Jove hates you. No one in
the whole world ever burned him more thigh bones, nor gave him finer
hecatombs when you prayed you might come to a green old age yourself
and see your son grow up to take after you; yet see how he has
prevented you alone from ever getting back to your own home. I have no
doubt the women in some foreign palace which Ulysses has got to are
gibing at him as all these sluts here have been gibing you. I do not
wonder at your not choosing to let them wash you after the manner in
which they have insulted you; I will wash your feet myself gladly
enough, as Penelope has said that I am to do so; I will wash them both
for Penelope's sake and for your own, for you have raised the most
lively feelings of compassion in my mind; and let me say this
moreover, which pray attend to; we have had all kinds of strangers
in distress come here before now, but I make bold to say that no one
ever yet came who was so like Ulysses in figure, voice, and feet as
"Those who have seen us both," answered Ulysses, "have always said
we were wonderfully like each other, and now you have noticed it too.
Then the old woman took the cauldron in which she was going to
wash his feet, and poured plenty of cold water into it, adding hot
till the bath was warm enough. Ulysses sat by the fire, but ere long
he turned away from the light, for it occurred to him that when the
old woman had hold of his leg she would recognize a certain scar which
it bore, whereon the whole truth would come out. And indeed as soon as
she began washing her master, she at once knew the scar as one that
had been given him by a wild boar when he was hunting on Mount
Parnassus with his excellent grandfather Autolycus- who was the most
accomplished thief and perjurer in the whole world- and with the
sons of Autolycus. Mercury himself had endowed him with this gift, for
he used to burn the thigh bones of goats and kids to him, so he took
pleasure in his companionship. It happened once that Autolycus had
gone to Ithaca and had found the child of his daughter just born. As
soon as he had done supper Euryclea set the infant upon his knees
and said, you must find a name for your grandson; you greatly wished
that you might have one."
'Son-in-law and daughter," replied Autolycus, "call the child
thus: I am highly displeased with a large number of people in one
place and another, both men and women; so name the child 'Ulysses,' or
the child of anger. When he grows up and comes to visit his mother's
family on Mount Parnassus, where my possessions lie, I will make him a
present and will send him on his way rejoicing."
Ulysses, therefore, went to Parnassus to get the presents from
Autolycus, who with his sons shook hands with him and gave him
welcome. His grandmother Amphithea threw her arms about him, and
kissed his head, and both his beautiful eyes, while Autolycus
desired his sons to get dinner ready, and they did as he told them.
They brought in a five year old bull, flayed it, made it ready and
divided it into joints; these they then cut carefully up into
smaller pieces and spitted them; they roasted them sufficiently and
served the portions round. Thus through the livelong day to the
going down of the sun they feasted, and every man had his full share
so that all were satisfied; but when the sun set and it came on
dark, they went to bed and enjoyed the boon of sleep.
When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the sons of
Autolycus went out with their hounds hunting, and Ulysses went too.
They climbed the wooded slopes of Parnassus and soon reached its
breezy upland valleys; but as the sun was beginning to beat upon the
fields, fresh-risen from the slow still currents of Oceanus, they came
to a mountain dell. The dogs were in front searching for the tracks of
the beast they were chasing, and after them came the sons of
Autolycus, among whom was Ulysses, close behind the dogs, and he had a
long spear in his hand. Here was the lair of a huge boar among some
thick brushwood, so dense that the wind and rain could not get through
it, nor could the sun's rays pierce it, and the ground underneath
lay thick with fallen leaves. The boar heard the noise of the men's
feet, and the hounds baying on every side as the huntsmen came up to
him, so rushed from his lair, raised the bristles on his neck, and
stood at bay with fire flashing from his eyes. Ulysses was the first
to raise his spear and try to drive it into the brute, but the boar
was too quick for him, and charged him sideways, ripping him above the
knee with a gash that tore deep though it did not reach the bone. As
for the boar, Ulysses hit him on the right shoulder, and the point
of the spear went right through him, so that he fell groaning in the
dust until the life went out of him. The sons of Autolycus busied
themselves with the carcass of the boar, and bound Ulysses' wound;
then, after saying a spell to stop the bleeding, they went home as
fast as they could. But when Autolycus and his sons had thoroughly
healed Ulysses, they made him some splendid presents, and sent him
back to Ithaca with much mutual good will. When he got back, his
father and mother were rejoiced to see him, and asked him all about
it, and how he had hurt himself to get the scar; so he told them how
the boar had ripped him when he was out hunting with Autolycus and his
sons on Mount Parnassus.
As soon as Euryclea had got the scarred limb in her hands and had
well hold of it, she recognized it and dropped the foot at once. The
leg fell into the bath, which rang out and was overturned, so that all
the water was spilt on the ground; Euryclea's eyes between her joy and
her grief filled with tears, and she could not speak, but she caught
Ulysses by the beard and said, "My dear child, I am sure you must be
Ulysses himself, only I did not know you till I had actually touched
and handled you."
As she spoke she looked towards Penelope, as though wanting to
tell her that her dear husband was in the house, but Penelope was
unable to look in that direction and observe what was going on, for
Minerva had diverted her attention; so Ulysses caught Euryclea by
the throat with his right hand and with his left drew her close to
him, and said, "Nurse, do you wish to be the ruin of me, you who
nursed me at your own breast, now that after twenty years of wandering
I am at last come to my own home again? Since it has been borne in
upon you by heaven to recognize me, hold your tongue, and do not say a
word about it any one else in the house, for if you do I tell you- and
it shall surely be- that if heaven grants me to take the lives of
these suitors, I will not spare you, though you are my own nurse, when
I am killing the other women."
"My child," answered Euryclea, "what are you talking about? You know
very well that nothing can either bend or break me. I will hold my
tongue like a stone or a piece of iron; furthermore let me say, and
lay my saying to your heart, when heaven has delivered the suitors
into your hand, I will give you a list of the women in the house who
have been ill-behaved, and of those who are guiltless."
And Ulysses answered, "Nurse, you ought not to speak in that way;
I am well able to form my own opinion about one and all of them;
hold your tongue and leave everything to heaven."
As he said this Euryclea left the cloister to fetch some more water,
for the first had been all spilt; and when she had washed him and
anointed him with oil, Ulysses drew his seat nearer to the fire to
warm himself, and hid the scar under his rags. Then Penelope began
talking to him and said:
"Stranger, I should like to speak with you briefly about another
matter. It is indeed nearly bed time- for those, at least, who can
sleep in spite of sorrow. As for myself, heaven has given me a life of
such unmeasurable woe, that even by day when I am attending to my
duties and looking after the servants, I am still weeping and
lamenting during the whole time; then, when night comes, and we all of
us go to bed, I lie awake thinking, and my heart comes a prey to the
most incessant and cruel tortures. As the dun nightingale, daughter of
Pandareus, sings in the early spring from her seat in shadiest
covert hid, and with many a plaintive trill pours out the tale how
by mishap she killed her own child Itylus, son of king Zethus, even so
does my mind toss and turn in its uncertainty whether I ought to
stay with my son here, and safeguard my substance, my bondsmen, and
the greatness of my house, out of regard to public opinion and the
memory of my late husband, or whether it is not now time for me to
go with the best of these suitors who are wooing me and making me such
magnificent presents. As long as my son was still young, and unable to
understand, he would not hear of my leaving my husband's house, but
now that he is full grown he begs and prays me to do so, being
incensed at the way in which the suitors are eating up his property.
Listen, then, to a dream that I have had and interpret it for me if
you can. I have twenty geese about the house that eat mash out of a
trough, and of which I am exceedingly fond. I dreamed that a great
eagle came swooping down from a mountain, and dug his curved beak into
the neck of each of them till he had killed them all. Presently he
soared off into the sky, and left them lying dead about the yard;
whereon I wept in my room till all my maids gathered round me, so
piteously was I grieving because the eagle had killed my geese. Then
he came back again, and perching on a projecting rafter spoke to me
with human voice, and told me to leave off crying. 'Be of good
courage,' he said, 'daughter of Icarius; this is no dream, but a
vision of good omen that shall surely come to pass. The geese are
the suitors, and I am no longer an eagle, but your own husband, who am
come back to you, and who will bring these suitors to a disgraceful
end.' On this I woke, and when I looked out I saw my geese at the
trough eating their mash as usual."
"This dream, Madam," replied Ulysses, "can admit but of one
interpretation, for had not Ulysses himself told you how it shall be
fulfilled? The death of the suitors is portended, and not one single
one of them will escape."
And Penelope answered, "Stranger, dreams are very curious and
unaccountable things, and they do not by any means invariably come
true. There are two gates through which these unsubstantial fancies
proceed; the one is of horn, and the other ivory. Those that come
through the gate of ivory are fatuous, but those from the gate of horn
mean something to those that see them. I do not think, however, that
my own dream came through the gate of horn, though I and my son should
be most thankful if it proves to have done so. Furthermore I say-
and lay my saying to your heart- the coming dawn will usher in the
ill-omened day that is to sever me from the house of Ulysses, for I am
about to hold a tournament of axes. My husband used to set up twelve
axes in the court, one in front of the other, like the stays upon
which a ship is built; he would then go back from them and shoot an
arrow through the whole twelve. I shall make the suitors try to do the
same thing, and whichever of them can string the bow most easily,
and send his arrow through all the twelve axes, him will I follow, and
quit this house of my lawful husband, so goodly and so abounding in
wealth. But even so, I doubt not that I shall remember it in my
Then Ulysses answered, "Madam wife of Ulysses, you need not defer
your tournament, for Ulysses will return ere ever they can string
the bow, handle it how they will, and send their arrows through the
To this Penelope said, "As long, sir, as you will sit here and
talk to me, I can have no desire to go to bed. Still, people cannot do
permanently without sleep, and heaven has appointed us dwellers on
earth a time for all things. I will therefore go upstairs and
recline upon that couch which I have never ceased to flood with my
tears from the day Ulysses set out for the city with a hateful name."
She then went upstairs to her own room, not alone, but attended by
her maidens, and when there, she lamented her dear husband till
Minerva shed sweet sleep over her eyelids.
The Iliad: Book 17
Brave Menelaus son of Atreus now came to know that Patroclus had
fallen, and made his way through the front ranks clad in full armour
to bestride him. As a cow stands lowing over her first calf, even so
did yellow-haired Menelaus bestride Patroclus. He held his round
shield and his spear in front of him, resolute to kill any who
should dare face him. But the son of Panthous had also noted the body,
and came up to Menelaus saying, "Menelaus, son of Atreus, draw back,
leave the body, and let the bloodstained spoils be. I was first of the
Trojans and their brave allies to drive my spear into Patroclus, let
me, therefore, have my full glory among the Trojans, or I will take
aim and kill you."
To this Menelaus answered in great anger "By father Jove, boasting
is an ill thing. The pard is not more bold, nor the lion nor savage
wild-boar, which is fiercest and most dauntless of all creatures, than
are the proud sons of Panthous. Yet Hyperenor did not see out the days
of his youth when he made light of me and withstood me, deeming me the
meanest soldier among the Danaans. His own feet never bore him back to
gladden his wife and parents. Even so shall I make an end of you
too, if you withstand me; get you back into the crowd and do not
face me, or it shall be worse for you. Even a fool may be wise after
Euphorbus would not listen, and said, "Now indeed, Menelaus, shall
you pay for the death of my brother over whom you vaunted, and whose
wife you widowed in her bridal chamber, while you brought grief
unspeakable on his parents. I shall comfort these poor people if I
bring your head and armour and place them in the hands of Panthous and
noble Phrontis. The time is come when this matter shall be fought
out and settled, for me or against me."
As he spoke he struck Menelaus full on the shield, but the spear did
not go through, for the shield turned its point. Menelaus then took
aim, praying to father Jove as he did so; Euphorbus was drawing
back, and Menelaus struck him about the roots of his throat, leaning
his whole weight on the spear, so as to drive it home. The point
went clean through his neck, and his armour rang rattling round him as
he fell heavily to the ground. His hair which was like that of the
Graces, and his locks so deftly bound in bands of silver and gold,
were all bedrabbled with blood. As one who has grown a fine young
olive tree in a clear space where there is abundance of water- the
plant is full of promise, and though the winds beat upon it from every
quarter it puts forth its white blossoms till the blasts of some
fierce hurricane sweep down upon it and level it with the ground- even
so did Menelaus strip the fair youth Euphorbus of his armour after
he had slain him. Or as some fierce lion upon the mountains in the
pride of his strength fastens on the finest heifer in a herd as it
is feeding- first he breaks her neck with his strong jaws, and then
gorges on her blood and entrails; dogs and shepherds raise a hue and
cry against him, but they stand aloof and will not come close to
him, for they are pale with fear- even so no one had the courage to
face valiant Menelaus. The son of Atreus would have then carried off
the armour of the son of Panthous with ease, had not Phoebus Apollo
been angry, and in the guise of Mentes chief of the Cicons incited
Hector to attack him. "Hector," said he, "you are now going after
the horses of the noble son of Aeacus, but you will not take them;
they cannot be kept in hand and driven by mortal man, save only by
Achilles, who is son to an immortal mother. Meanwhile Menelaus son
of Atreus has bestridden the body of Patroclus and killed the
noblest of the Trojans, Euphorbus son of Panthous, so that he can
fight no more."
The god then went back into the toil and turmoil, but the soul of
Hector was darkened with a cloud of grief; he looked along the ranks
and saw Euphorbus lying on the ground with the blood still flowing
from his wound, and Menelaus stripping him of his armour. On this he
made his way to the front like a flame of fire, clad in his gleaming
armour, and crying with a loud voice. When the son of Atreus heard
him, he said to himself in his dismay, "Alas! what shall I do? I may
not let the Trojans take the armour of Patroclus who has fallen
fighting on my behalf, lest some Danaan who sees me should cry shame
upon me. Still if for my honour's sake I fight Hector and the
Trojans single-handed, they will prove too many for me, for Hector
is bringing them up in force. Why, however, should I thus hesitate?
When a man fights in despite of heaven with one whom a god
befriends, he will soon rue it. Let no Danaan think ill of me if I
give place to Hector, for the hand of heaven is with him. Yet, if I
could find Ajax, the two of us would fight Hector and heaven too, if
we might only save the body of Patroclus for Achilles son of Peleus.
This, of many evils would be the least."
While he was thus in two minds, the Trojans came up to him with
Hector at their head; he therefore drew back and left the body,
turning about like some bearded lion who is being chased by dogs and
men from a stockyard with spears and hue and cry, whereon he is
daunted and slinks sulkily off- even so did Menelaus son of Atreus
turn and leave the body of Patroclus. When among the body of his
men, he looked around for mighty Ajax son of Telamon, and presently
saw him on the extreme left of the fight, cheering on his men and
exhorting them to keep on fighting, for Phoebus Apollo had spread a
great panic among them. He ran up to him and said, "Ajax, my good
friend, come with me at once to dead Patroclus, if so be that we may
take the body to Achilles- as for his armour, Hector already has it."
These words stirred the heart of Ajax, and he made his way among the
front ranks, Menelaus going with him. Hector had stripped Patroclus of
his armour, and was dragging him away to cut off his head and take the
body to fling before the dogs of Troy. But Ajax came up with his
shield like wall before him, on which Hector withdrew under shelter of
his men, and sprang on to his chariot, giving the armour over to the
Trojans to take to the city, as a great trophy for himself; Ajax,
therefore, covered the body of Patroclus with his broad shield and
bestrode him; as a lion stands over his whelps if hunters have come
upon him in a forest when he is with his little ones- in the pride and
fierceness of his strength he draws his knit brows down till they
cover his eyes- even so did Ajax bestride the body of Patroclus, and
by his side stood Menelaus son of Atreus, nursing great sorrow in
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus looked fiercely at Hector and
rebuked him sternly. "Hector," said he, "you make a brave show, but in
fight you are sadly wanting. A runaway like yourself has no claim to
so great a reputation. Think how you may now save your town and
citadel by the hands of your own people born in Ilius; for you will
get no Lycians to fight for you, seeing what thanks they have had
for their incessant hardships. Are you likely, sir, to do anything
to help a man of less note, after leaving Sarpedon, who was at once
your guest and comrade in arms, to be the spoil and prey of the
Danaans? So long as he lived he did good service both to your city and
yourself; yet you had no stomach to save his body from the dogs. If
the Lycians will listen to me, they will go home and leave Troy to its
fate. If the Trojans had any of that daring fearless spirit which lays
hold of men who are fighting for their country and harassing those who
would attack it, we should soon bear off Patroclus into Ilius. Could
we get this dead man away and bring him into the city of Priam, the
Argives would readily give up the armour of Sarpedon, and we should
get his body to boot. For he whose squire has been now killed is the
foremost man at the ships of the Achaeans- he and his close-fighting
followers. Nevertheless you dared not make a stand against Ajax, nor
face him, eye to eye, with battle all round you, for he is a braver
man than you are."
Hector scowled at him and answered, "Glaucus, you should know
better. I have held you so far as a man of more understanding than any
in all Lycia, but now I despise you for saying that I am afraid of
Ajax. I fear neither battle nor the din of chariots, but Jove's will
is stronger than ours; Jove at one time makes even a strong man draw
back and snatches victory from his grasp, while at another he will set
him on to fight. Come hither then, my friend, stand by me and see
indeed whether I shall play the coward the whole day through as you
say, or whether I shall not stay some even of the boldest Danaans from
fighting round the body of Patroclus."
As he spoke he called loudly on the Trojans saying, "Trojans,
Lycians, and Dardanians, fighters in close combat, be men, my friends,
and fight might and main, while I put on the goodly armour of
Achilles, which I took when I killed Patroclus."
With this Hector left the fight, and ran full speed after his men
who were taking the armour of Achilles to Troy, but had not yet got
far. Standing for a while apart from the woeful fight, he changed
his armour. His own he sent to the strong city of Ilius and to the
Trojans, while he put on the immortal armour of the son of Peleus,
which the gods had given to Peleus, who in his age gave it to his son;
but the son did not grow old in his father's armour.
When Jove, lord of the storm-cloud, saw Hector standing aloof and
arming himself in the armour of the son of Peleus, he wagged his
head and muttered to himself saying, "A! poor wretch, you arm in the
armour of a hero, before whom many another trembles, and you reck
nothing of the doom that is already close upon you. You have killed
his comrade so brave and strong, but it was not well that you should
strip the armour from his head and shoulders. I do indeed endow you
with great might now, but as against this you shall not return from
battle to lay the armour of the son of Peleus before Andromache."
The son of Saturn bowed his portentous brows, and Hector fitted
the armour to his body, while terrible Mars entered into him, and
filled his whole body with might and valour. With a shout he strode in
among the allies, and his armour flashed about him so that he seemed
to all of them like the great son of Peleus himself. He went about
among them and cheered them on- Mesthles, Glaucus, Medon,
Thersilochus, Asteropaeus, Deisenor and Hippothous, Phorcys,
Chromius and Ennomus the augur. All these did he exhort saying,
"Hear me, allies from other cities who are here in your thousands,
it was not in order to have a crowd about me that I called you
hither each from his several city, but that with heart and soul you
might defend the wives and little ones of the Trojans from the
fierce Achaeans. For this do I oppress my people with your food and
the presents that make you rich. Therefore turn, and charge at the
foe, to stand or fall as is the game of war; whoever shall bring
Patroclus, dead though he be, into the hands of the Trojans, and shall
make Ajax give way before him, I will give him one half of the
spoils while I keep the other. He will thus share like honour with
When he had thus spoken they charged full weight upon the Danaans
with their spears held out before them, and the hopes of each ran high
that he should force Ajax son of Telamon to yield up the body- fools
that they were, for he was about to take the lives of many. Then
Ajax said to Menelaus, "My good friend Menelaus, you and I shall
hardly come out of this fight alive. I am less concerned for the
body of Patroclus, who will shortly become meat for the dogs and
vultures of Troy, than for the safety of my own head and yours. Hector
has wrapped us round in a storm of battle from every quarter, and
our destruction seems now certain. Call then upon the princes of the
Danaans if there is any who can hear us."
Menelaus did as he said, and shouted to the Danaans for help at
the top of his voice. "My friends," he cried, "princes and counsellors
of the Argives, all you who with Agamemnon and Menelaus drink at the
public cost, and give orders each to his own people as Jove vouchsafes
him power and glory, the fight is so thick about me that I cannot
distinguish you severally; come on, therefore, every man unbidden, and
think it shame that Patroclus should become meat and morsel for Trojan
Fleet Ajax son of Oileus heard him and was first to force his way
through the fight and run to help him. Next came Idomeneus and
Meriones his esquire, peer of murderous Mars. As for the others that
came into the fight after these, who of his own self could name them?
The Trojans with Hector at their head charged in a body. As a
great wave that comes thundering in at the mouth of some heaven-born
river, and the rocks that jut into the sea ring with the roar of the
breakers that beat and buffet them- even with such a roar did the
Trojans come on; but the Achaeans in singleness of heart stood firm
about the son of Menoetius, and fenced him with their bronze
shields. Jove, moreover, hid the brightness of their helmets in a
thick cloud, for he had borne no grudge against the son of Menoetius
while he was still alive and squire to the descendant of Aeacus;
therefore he was loth to let him fall a prey to the dogs of his foes
the Trojans, and urged his comrades on to defend him.
At first the Trojans drove the Achaeans back, and they withdrew from
the dead man daunted. The Trojans did not succeed in killing any
one, nevertheless they drew the body away. But the Achaeans did not
lose it long, for Ajax, foremost of all the Danaans after the son of
Peleus alike in stature and prowess, quickly rallied them and made
towards the front like a wild boar upon the mountains when he stands
at bay in the forest glades and routs the hounds and lusty youths that
have attacked him- even so did Ajax son of Telamon passing easily in
among the phalanxes of the Trojans, disperse those who had
bestridden Patroclus and were most bent on winning glory by dragging
him off to their city. At this moment Hippothous brave son of the
Pelasgian Lethus, in his zeal for Hector and the Trojans, was dragging
the body off by the foot through the press of the fight, having
bound a strap round the sinews near the ancle; but a mischief soon
befell him from which none of those could save him who would have
gladly done so, for the son of Telamon sprang forward and smote him on
his bronze-cheeked helmet. The plumed headpiece broke about the
point of the weapon, struck at once by the spear and by the strong
hand of Ajax, so that the bloody brain came oozing out through the
crest-socket. His strength then failed him and he let Patroclus'
foot drop from his hand, as he fell full length dead upon the body;
thus he died far from the fertile land of Larissa, and never repaid
his parents the cost of bringing him up, for his life was cut short
early by the spear of mighty Ajax. Hector then took aim at Ajax with a
spear, but he saw it coming and just managed to avoid it; the spear
passed on and struck Schedius son of noble Iphitus, captain of the
Phoceans, who dwelt in famed Panopeus and reigned over much people; it
struck him under the middle of the collar-bone the bronze point went
right through him, coming out at the bottom of his shoulder-blade, and
his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.
Ajax in his turn struck noble Phorcys son of Phaenops in the middle of
the belly as he was bestriding Hippothous, and broke the plate of
his cuirass; whereon the spear tore out his entrails and he clutched
the ground in his palm as he fell to earth. Hector and those who
were in the front rank then gave ground, while the Argives raised a
loud cry of triumph, and drew off the bodies of Phorcys and Hippothous
which they stripped presently of their armour.
The Trojans would now have been worsted by the brave Achaeans and
driven back to Ilius through their own cowardice, while the Argives,
so great was their courage and endurance, would have achieved a
triumph even against the will of Jove, if Apollo had not roused
Aeneas, in the likeness of Periphas son of Epytus, an attendant who
had grown old in the service of Aeneas' aged father, and was at all
times devoted to him. In his likeness, then, Apollo said, "Aeneas, can
you not manage, even though heaven be against us, to save high
Ilius? I have known men, whose numbers, courage, and self-reliance
have saved their people in spite of Jove, whereas in this case he
would much rather give victory to us than to the Danaans, if you would
only fight instead of being so terribly afraid."
Aeneas knew Apollo when he looked straight at him, and shouted to
Hector saying, "Hector and all other Trojans and allies, shame on us
if we are beaten by the Achaeans and driven back to Ilius through
our own cowardice. A god has just come up to me and told me that
Jove the supreme disposer will be with us. Therefore let us make for
the Danaans, that it may go hard with them ere they bear away dead
Patroclus to the ships."
As he spoke he sprang out far in front of the others, who then
rallied and again faced the Achaeans. Aeneas speared Leiocritus son of
Arisbas, a valiant follower of Lycomedes, and Lycomedes was moved with
pity as he saw him fall; he therefore went close up, and speared
Apisaon son of Hippasus shepherd of his people in the liver under
the midriff, so that he died; he had come from fertile Paeonia and was
the best man of them all after Asteropaeus. Asteropaeus flew forward
to avenge him and attack the Danaans, but this might no longer be,
inasmuch as those about Patroclus were well covered by their
shields, and held their spears in front of them, for Ajax had given
them strict orders that no man was either to give ground, or to
stand out before the others, but all were to hold well together
about the body and fight hand to hand. Thus did huge Ajax bid them,
and the earth ran red with blood as the corpses fell thick on one
another alike on the side of the Trojans and allies, and on that of
the Danaans; for these last, too, fought no bloodless fight though
many fewer of them perished, through the care they took to defend
and stand by one another.
Thus did they fight as it were a flaming fire; it seemed as though
it had gone hard even with the sun and moon, for they were hidden over
all that part where the bravest heroes were fighting about the dead
son of Menoetius, whereas the other Danaans and Achaeans fought at
their ease in full daylight with brilliant sunshine all round them,
and there was not a cloud to be seen neither on plain nor mountain.
These last moreover would rest for a while and leave off fighting, for
they were some distance apart and beyond the range of one another's
weapons, whereas those who were in the thick of the fray suffered both
from battle and darkness. All the best of them were being worn out
by the great weight of their armour, but the two valiant heroes,
Thrasymedes and Antilochus, had not yet heard of the death of
Patroclus, and believed him to be still alive and leading the van
against the Trojans; they were keeping themselves in reserve against
the death or rout of their own comrades, for so Nestor had ordered
when he sent them from the ships into battle.
Thus through the livelong day did they wage fierce war, and the
sweat of their toil rained ever on their legs under them, and on their
hands and eyes, as they fought over the squire of the fleet son of
Peleus. It was as when a man gives a great ox-hide all drenched in fat
to his men, and bids them stretch it; whereon they stand round it in a
ring and tug till the moisture leaves it, and the fat soaks in for the
many that pull at it, and it is well stretched- even so did the two
sides tug the dead body hither and thither within the compass of but a
little space- the Trojans steadfastly set on drag ing it into Ilius,
while the Achaeans were no less so on taking it to their ships; and
fierce was the fight between them. Not Mars himself the lord of hosts,
nor yet Minerva, even in their fullest fury could make light of such a
Such fearful turmoil of men and horses did Jove on that day ordain
round the body of Patroclus. Meanwhile Achilles did not know that he
had fallen, for the fight was under the wall of Troy a long way off
the ships. He had no idea, therefore, that Patroclus was dead, and
deemed that he would return alive as soon as he had gone close up to
the gates. He knew that he was not to sack the city neither with nor
without himself, for his mother had often told him this when he had
sat alone with her, and she had informed him of the counsels of
great Jove. Now, however, she had not told him how great a disaster
had befallen him in the death of the one who was far dearest to him of
all his comrades.
The others still kept on charging one another round the body with
their pointed spears and killing each other. Then would one say, "My
friends, we can never again show our faces at the ships- better, and
greatly better, that earth should open and swallow us here in this
place, than that we should let the Trojans have the triumph of bearing
off Patroclus to their city."
The Trojans also on their part spoke to one another saying,
"Friends, though we fall to a man beside this body, let none shrink
from fighting." With such words did they exhort each other. They
fought and fought, and an iron clank rose through the void air to
the brazen vault of heaven. The horses of the descendant of Aeacus
stood out of the fight and wept when they heard that their driver
had been laid low by the hand of murderous Hector. Automedon,
valiant son of Diores, lashed them again and again; many a time did he
speak kindly to them, and many a time did he upbraid them, but they
would neither go back to the ships by the waters of the broad
Hellespont, nor yet into battle among the Achaeans; they stood with
their chariot stock still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some
dead man or woman, and bowed their heads to the ground. Hot tears fell
from their eyes as they mourned the loss of their charioteer, and
their noble manes drooped all wet from under the yokestraps on
either side the yoke.
The son of Saturn saw them and took pity upon their sorrow. He
wagged his head, and muttered to himself, saying, "Poor things, why
did we give you to King Peleus who is a mortal, while you are
yourselves ageless and immortal? Was it that you might share the
sorrows that befall mankind? for of all creatures that live and move
upon the earth there is none so pitiable as he is- still, Hector son
of Priam shall drive neither you nor your chariot. I will not have it.
It is enough that he should have the armour over which he vaunts so
vainly. Furthermore I will give you strength of heart and limb to bear
Automedon safely to the ships from battle, for I shall let the Trojans
triumph still further, and go on killing till they reach the ships;
whereon night shall fall and darkness overshadow the land."
As he spoke he breathed heart and strength into the horses so that
they shook the dust from out of their manes, and bore their chariot
swiftly into the fight that raged between Trojans and Achaeans. Behind
them fought Automedon full of sorrow for his comrade, as a vulture
amid a flock of geese. In and out, and here and there, full speed he
dashed amid the throng of the Trojans, but for all the fury of his
pursuit he killed no man, for he could not wield his spear and keep
his horses in hand when alone in the chariot; at last, however, a
comrade, Alcimedon, son of Laerces son of Haemon caught sight of him
and came up behind his chariot. "Automedon," said he, "what god has
put this folly into your heart and robbed you of your right mind, that
you fight the Trojans in the front rank single-handed? He who was your
comrade is slain, and Hector plumes himself on being armed in the
armour of the descendant of Aeacus."
Automedon son of Diores answered, "Alcimedon, there is no one else
who can control and guide the immortal steeds so well as you can, save
only Patroclus- while he was alive- peer of gods in counsel. Take then
the whip and reins, while I go down from the car and fight.
Alcimedon sprang on to the chariot, and caught up the whip and
reins, while Automedon leaped from off the car. When Hector saw him he
said to Aeneas who was near him, "Aeneas, counsellor of the
mail-clad Trojans, I see the steeds of the fleet son of Aeacus come
into battle with weak hands to drive them. I am sure, if you think
well, that we might take them; they will not dare face us if we both
The valiant son of Anchises was of the same mind, and the pair
went right on, with their shoulders covered under shields of tough dry
ox-hide, overlaid with much bronze. Chromius and Aretus went also with
them, and their hearts beat high with hope that they might kill the
men and capture the horses- fools that they were, for they were not to
return scatheless from their meeting with Automedon, who prayed to
father Jove and was forthwith filled with courage and strength
abounding. He turned to his trusty comrade Alcimedon and said,
"Alcimedon, keep your horses so close up that I may feel their
breath upon my back; I doubt that we shall not stay Hector son of
Priam till he has killed us and mounted behind the horses; he will
then either spread panic among the ranks of the Achaeans, or himself
be killed among the foremost."
On this he cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaus, "Ajaxes
captains of the Argives, and Menelaus, give the dead body over to them
that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of us
living; for Hector and Aeneas who are the two best men among the
Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war. Nevertheless
the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will therefore hurl my spear
and leave the rest to Jove."
He poised and hurled as he spoke, whereon the spear struck the round
shield of Aretus, and went right through it for the shield stayed it
not, so that it was driven through his belt into the lower part of his
belly. As when some sturdy youth, axe in hand, deals his blow behind
the horns of an ox and severs the tendons at the back of its neck so
that it springs forward and then drops, even so did Aretus give one
bound and then fall on his back the spear quivering in his body till
it made an end of him. Hector then aimed a spear at Automedon but he
saw it coming and stooped forward to avoid it, so that it flew past
him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on
quivering till Mars robbed it of its force. They would then have
fought hand to hand with swords had not the two Ajaxes forced their
way through the crowd when they heard their comrade calling, and
parted them for all their fury- for Hector, Aeneas, and Chromius
were afraid and drew back, leaving Aretus to lie there struck to the
heart. Automedon, peer of fleet Mars, then stripped him of his
armour and vaunted over him saying, "I have done little to assuage
my sorrow for the son of Menoetius, for the man I have killed is not
so good as he was."
As he spoke he took the blood-stained spoils and laid them upon
his chariot; then he mounted the car with his hands and feet all
steeped in gore as a lion that has been gorging upon a bull.
And now the fierce groanful fight again raged about Patroclus, for
Minerva came down from heaven and roused its fury by the command of
far-seeing Jove, who had changed his mind and sent her to encourage
the Danaans. As when Jove bends his bright bow in heaven in token to
mankind either of war or of the chill storms that stay men from
their labour and plague the flocks- even so, wrapped in such radiant
raiment, did Minerva go in among the host and speak man by man to
each. First she took the form and voice of Phoenix and spoke to
Menelaus son of Atreus, who was standing near her. "Menelaus," said
she, "it will be shame and dishonour to you, if dogs tear the noble
comrade of Achilles under the walls of Troy. Therefore be staunch, and
urge your men to be so also."
Menelaus answered, "Phoenix, my good old friend, may Minerva
vouchsafe me strength and keep the darts from off me, for so shall I
stand by Patroclus and defend him; his death has gone to my heart, but
Hector is as a raging fire and deals his blows without ceasing, for
Jove is now granting him a time of triumph."
Minerva was pleased at his having named herself before any of the
other gods. Therefore she put strength into his knees and shoulders,
and made him as bold as a fly, which, though driven off will yet
come again and bite if it can, so dearly does it love man's blood-
even so bold as this did she make him as he stood over Patroclus and
threw his spear. Now there was among the Trojans a man named Podes,
son of Eetion, who was both rich and valiant. Hector held him in the
highest honour for he was his comrade and boon companion; the spear of
Menelaus struck this man in the girdle just as he had turned in
flight, and went right through him. Whereon he fell heavily forward,
and Menelaus son of Atreus drew off his body from the Trojans into the
ranks of his own people.
Apollo then went up to Hector and spurred him on to fight, in the
likeness of Phaenops son of Asius who lived in Abydos and was the most
favoured of all Hector's guests. In his likeness Apollo said, "Hector,
who of the Achaeans will fear you henceforward now that you have
quailed before Menelaus who has ever been rated poorly as a soldier?
Yet he has now got a corpse away from the Trojans single-handed, and
has slain your own true comrade, a man brave among the foremost, Podes
son of Eetion.
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Hector as he heard, and he made
his way to the front clad in full armour. Thereon the son of Saturn
seized his bright tasselled aegis, and veiled Ida in cloud: he sent
forth his lightnings and his thunders, and as he shook his aegis he
gave victory to the Trojans and routed the Achaeans.
The panic was begun by Peneleos the Boeotian, for while keeping
his face turned ever towards the foe he had been hit with a spear on
the upper part of the shoulder; a spear thrown by Polydamas had grazed
the top of the bone, for Polydamas had come up to him and struck him
from close at hand. Then Hector in close combat struck Leitus son of
noble Alectryon in the hand by the wrist, and disabled him from
fighting further. He looked about him in dismay, knowing that never
again should he wield spear in battle with the Trojans. While Hector
was in pursuit of Leitus, Idomeneus struck him on the breastplate over
his chest near the nipple; but the spear broke in the shaft, and the
Trojans cheered aloud. Hector then aimed at Idomeneus son of Deucalion
as he was standing on his chariot, and very narrowly missed him, but
the spear hit Coiranus, a follower and charioteer of Meriones who
had come with him from Lyctus. Idomeneus had left the ships on foot
and would have afforded a great triumph to the Trojans if Coiranus had
not driven quickly up to him, he therefore brought life and rescue
to Idomeneus, but himself fell by the hand of murderous Hector. For
Hector hit him on the jaw under the ear; the end of the spear drove
out his teeth and cut his tongue in two pieces, so that he fell from
his chariot and let the reins fall to the ground. Meriones gathered
them up from the ground and took them into his own hands, then he said
to Idomeneus, "Lay on, till you get back to the ships, for you must
see that the day is no longer ours."
On this Idomeneus lashed the horses to the ships, for fear had taken
hold upon him.
Ajax and Menelaus noted how Jove had turned the scale in favour of
the Trojans, and Ajax was first to speak. "Alas," said he, "even a
fool may see that father Jove is helping the Trojans. All their
weapons strike home; no matter whether it be a brave man or a coward
that hurls them, Jove speeds all alike, whereas ours fall each one
of them without effect. What, then, will be best both as regards
rescuing the body, and our return to the joy of our friends who will
be grieving as they look hitherwards; for they will make sure that
nothing can now check the terrible hands of Hector, and that he will
fling himself upon our ships. I wish that some one would go and tell
the son of Peleus at once, for I do not think he can have yet heard
the sad news that the dearest of his friends has fallen. But I can see
not a man among the Achaeans to send, for they and their chariots
are alike hidden in darkness. O father Jove, lift this cloud from over
the sons of the Achaeans; make heaven serene, and let us see; if you
will that we perish, let us fall at any rate by daylight."
Father Jove heard him and had compassion upon his tears. Forthwith
he chased away the cloud of darkness, so that the sun shone out and
all the fighting was revealed. Ajax then said to Menelaus, "Look,
Menelaus, and if Antilochus son of Nestor be still living, send him at
once to tell Achilles that by far the dearest to him of all his
comrades has fallen."
Menelaus heeded his words and went his way as a lion from a
stockyard- the lion is tired of attacking the men and hounds, who keep
watch the whole night through and will not let him feast on the fat of
their herd. In his lust of meat he makes straight at them but in vain,
for darts from strong hands assail him, and burning brands which daunt
him for all his hunger, so in the morning he slinks sulkily away- even
so did Menelaus sorely against his will leave Patroclus, in great fear
lest the Achaeans should be driven back in rout and let him fall
into the hands of the foe. He charged Meriones and the two Ajaxes
straitly saying, "Ajaxes and Meriones, leaders of the Argives, now
indeed remember how good Patroclus was; he was ever courteous while
alive, bear it in mind now that he is dead."
With this Menelaus left them, looking round him as keenly as an
eagle, whose sight they say is keener than that of any other bird-
however high he may be in the heavens, not a hare that runs can escape
him by crouching under bush or thicket, for he will swoop down upon it
and make an end of it- even so, O Menelaus, did your keen eyes range
round the mighty host of your followers to see if you could find the
son of Nestor still alive. Presently Menelaus saw him on the extreme
left of the battle cheering on his men and exhorting them to fight
boldly. Menelaus went up to him and said, "Antilochus, come here and
listen to sad news, which I would indeed were untrue. You must see
with your own eyes that heaven is heaping calamity upon the Danaans,
and giving victory to the Trojans. Patroclus has fallen, who was the
bravest of the Achaeans, and sorely will the Danaans miss him. Run
instantly to the ships and tell Achilles, that he may come to rescue
the body and bear it to the ships. As for the armour, Hector already
Antilochus was struck with horror. For a long time he was
speechless; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no utterance,
but he did as Menelaus had said, and set off running as soon as he had
given his armour to a comrade, Laodocus, who was wheeling his horses
round, close beside him.
Thus, then, did he run weeping from the field, to carry the bad news
to Achilles son of Peleus. Nor were you, O Menelaus, minded to succour
his harassed comrades, when Antilochus had left the Pylians- and
greatly did they miss him- but he sent them noble Thrasymedes, and
himself went back to Patroclus. He came running up to the two Ajaxes
and said, "I have sent Antilochus to the ships to tell Achilles, but
rage against Hector as he may, he cannot come, for he cannot fight
without armour. What then will be our best plan both as regards
rescuing the dead, and our own escape from death amid the battle-cries
of the Trojans?"
Ajax answered, "Menelaus, you have said well: do you, then, and
Meriones stoop down, raise the body, and bear it out of the fray,
while we two behind you keep off Hector and the Trojans, one in
heart as in name, and long used to fighting side by side with one
On this Menelaus and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and
lifted him high aloft with a great effort. The Trojan host raised a
hue and cry behind them when they saw the Achaeans bearing the body
away, and flew after them like hounds attacking a wounded boar at
the loo of a band of young huntsmen. For a while the hounds fly at him
as though they would tear him in pieces, but now and again he turns on
them in a fury, scaring and scattering them in all directions- even so
did the Trojans for a while charge in a body, striking with sword
and with spears pointed ai both the ends, but when the two Ajaxes
faced them and stood at bay, they would turn pale and no man dared
press on to fight further about the dead.
In this wise did the two heroes strain every nerve to bear the
body to the ships out of the fight. The battle raged round them like
fierce flames that when once kindled spread like wildfire over a city,
and the houses fall in the glare of its burning- even such was the
roar and tramp of men and horses that pursued them as they bore
Patroclus from the field. Or as mules that put forth all their
strength to draw some beam or great piece of ship's timber down a
rough mountain-track, and they pant and sweat as they, go even so
did Menelaus and pant and sweat as they bore the body of Patroclus.
Behind them the two Ajaxes held stoutly out. As some wooded
mountain-spur that stretches across a plain will turn water and
check the flow even of a great river, nor is there any stream strong
enough to break through it- even so did the two Ajaxes face the
Trojans and stern the tide of their fighting though they kept
pouring on towards them and foremost among them all was Aeneas son
of Anchises with valiant Hector. As a flock of daws or starlings
fall to screaming and chattering when they see a falcon, foe to i'll
small birds, come soaring near them, even so did the Achaean youth
raise a babel of cries as they fled before Aeneas and Hector,
unmindful of their former prowess. In the rout of the Danaans much
goodly armour fell round about the trench, and of fighting there was
The Franklin's Tale
'IN faith, Squier, thou hast thee well acquit,
And gentilly; I praise well thy wit,'
Quoth the Franklin; 'considering thy youthe
So feelingly thou speak'st, Sir, I aloue* thee, *allow, approve
*As to my doom,* there is none that is here *so far as my judgment
Of eloquence that shall be thy peer, goes*
If that thou live; God give thee goode chance,
And in virtue send thee continuance,
For of thy speaking I have great dainty.* *value, esteem
I have a son, and, by the Trinity;
*It were me lever* than twenty pound worth land, *I would rather*
Though it right now were fallen in my hand,
He were a man of such discretion
As that ye be: fy on possession,
*But if* a man be virtuous withal. *unless
I have my sone snibbed* and yet shall, *rebuked; 'snubbed.'
For he to virtue *listeth not t'intend,* *does not wish to
But for to play at dice, and to dispend, apply himself*
And lose all that he hath, is his usage;
And he had lever talke with a page,
Than to commune with any gentle wight,
There he might learen gentilless aright.'
Straw for your gentillesse! ' quoth our Host.
'What? Frankelin, pardie, Sir, well thou wost* *knowest
That each of you must tellen at the least
A tale or two, or breake his behest.'* *promise
'That know I well, Sir,' quoth the Frankelin;
'I pray you have me not in disdain,
Though I to this man speak a word or two.'
'Tell on thy tale, withoute wordes mo'.'
'Gladly, Sir Host,' quoth he, 'I will obey
Unto your will; now hearken what I say;
I will you not contrary* in no wise, *disobey
As far as that my wittes may suffice.
I pray to God that it may please you,
Then wot I well that it is good enow.
'These olde gentle Bretons, in their days,
Of divers aventures made lays,
Rhymeden in their firste Breton tongue;
Which layes with their instruments they sung,
Or elles reade them for their pleasance;
And one of them have I in remembrance,
Which I shall say with good will as I can.
But, Sirs, because I am a borel* man, *rude, unlearned
At my beginning first I you beseech
Have me excused of my rude speech.
I learned never rhetoric, certain;
Thing that I speak, it must be bare and plain.
I slept never on the mount of Parnasso,
Nor learned Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Coloures know I none, withoute dread,* *doubt
But such colours as growen in the mead,
Or elles such as men dye with or paint;
Colours of rhetoric be to me quaint; * *strange
My spirit feeleth not of such mattere.
But, if you list, my tale shall ye hear.'
In Armoric', that called is Bretagne,
There was a knight, that lov'd and *did his pain* *devoted himself,
To serve a lady in his beste wise; strove*
And many a labour, many a great emprise,* *enterprise
He for his lady wrought, ere she were won:
For she was one the fairest under sun,
And eke thereto come of so high kindred,
That *well unnethes durst this knight for dread,* *see note *
Tell her his woe, his pain, and his distress
But, at the last, she for his worthiness,
And namely* for his meek obeisance, *especially
Hath such a pity caught of his penance,* *suffering, distress
That privily she fell of his accord
To take him for her husband and her lord
(Of such lordship as men have o'er their wives) :
And, for to lead the more in bliss their lives,
Of his free will he swore her as a knight,
That never in all his life he day nor night
Should take upon himself no mastery
Against her will, nor kithe* her jealousy, *show
But her obey, and follow her will in all,
As any lover to his lady shall;
Save that the name of sovereignety
That would he have, for shame of his degree.
She thanked him, and with full great humbless
She saide; 'Sir, since of your gentleness
Ye proffer me to have so large a reign,
*Ne woulde God never betwixt us twain,
As in my guilt, were either war or strife:* *see note *
Sir, I will be your humble true wife,
Have here my troth, till that my hearte brest.'* *burst
Thus be they both in quiet and in rest.
For one thing, Sires, safely dare I say,
That friends ever each other must obey,
If they will longe hold in company.
Love will not be constrain'd by mastery.
When mast'ry comes, the god of love anon
Beateth his wings, and, farewell, he is gone.
Love is a thing as any spirit free.
Women *of kind* desire liberty, *by nature*
And not to be constrained as a thrall,* *slave
And so do men, if soothly I say shall.
Look who that is most patient in love,
He *is at his advantage all above.* *enjoys the highest
Patience is a high virtue certain, advantages of all*
For it vanquisheth, as these clerkes sayn,
Thinges that rigour never should attain.
For every word men may not chide or plain.
Learne to suffer, or, so may I go,* *prosper
Ye shall it learn whether ye will or no.
For in this world certain no wight there is,
That he not doth or saith sometimes amiss.
Ire, or sickness, or constellation,* *the influence of
Wine, woe, or changing of complexion, the planets*
Causeth full oft to do amiss or speaken:
On every wrong a man may not be wreaken.* *revenged
After* the time must be temperance *according to
To every wight that *can of* governance. *is capable of*
And therefore hath this worthy wise knight
(To live in ease) sufferance her behight; * *promised
And she to him full wisly* gan to swear *surely
That never should there be default in her.
Here may men see a humble wife accord;
Thus hath she ta'en her servant and her lord,
Servant in love, and lord in marriage.
Then was he both in lordship and servage?
Servage? nay, but in lordship all above,
Since he had both his lady and his love:
His lady certes, and his wife also,
The which that law of love accordeth to.
And when he was in this prosperrity,
Home with his wife he went to his country,
Not far from Penmark, where his dwelling was,
And there he liv'd in bliss and in solace.* *delight
Who coulde tell, but* he had wedded be, *unless
The joy, the ease, and the prosperity,
That is betwixt a husband and his wife?
A year and more lasted this blissful life,
Till that this knight, of whom I spake thus,
That of Cairrud was call'd Arviragus,
Shope* him to go and dwell a year or twain *prepared, arranged
In Engleland, that call'd was eke Britain,
To seek in armes worship and honour
(For all his lust* he set in such labour) : *pleasure
And dwelled there two years; the book saith thus.
Now will I stint* of this Arviragus, *cease speaking
And speak I will of Dorigen his wife,
That lov'd her husband as her hearte's life.
For his absence weepeth she and siketh,* *sigheth
As do these noble wives when them liketh;
She mourneth, waketh, waileth, fasteth, plaineth;
Desire of his presence her so distraineth,
That all this wide world she set at nought.
Her friendes, which that knew her heavy thought,
Comforte her in all that ever they may;
They preache her, they tell her night and day,
That causeless she slays herself, alas!
And every comfort possible in this case
They do to her, with all their business,* *assiduity
And all to make her leave her heaviness.
By process, as ye knowen every one,
Men may so longe graven in a stone,
Till some figure therein imprinted be:
So long have they comforted her, till she
Received hath, by hope and by reason,
Th' imprinting of their consolation,
Through which her greate sorrow gan assuage;
She may not always duren in such rage.
And eke Arviragus, in all this care,
Hath sent his letters home of his welfare,
And that he will come hastily again,
Or elles had this sorrow her hearty-slain.
Her friendes saw her sorrow gin to slake,* *slacken, diminish
And prayed her on knees for Godde's sake
To come and roamen in their company,
Away to drive her darke fantasy;
And finally she granted that request,
For well she saw that it was for the best.
Now stood her castle faste by the sea,
And often with her friendes walked she,
Her to disport upon the bank on high,
There as many a ship and barge sigh,* *saw
Sailing their courses, where them list to go.
But then was that a parcel* of her woe, *part
For to herself full oft, 'Alas! ' said she,
Is there no ship, of so many as I see,
Will bringe home my lord? then were my heart
All warish'd* of this bitter paine's smart.' *cured
Another time would she sit and think,
And cast her eyen downward from the brink;
But when she saw the grisly rockes blake,* *black
For very fear so would her hearte quake,
That on her feet she might her not sustene* *sustain
Then would she sit adown upon the green,
And piteously *into the sea behold,* *look out on the sea*
And say right thus, with *careful sikes* cold: *painful sighs*
'Eternal God! that through thy purveyance
Leadest this world by certain governance,
*In idle,* as men say, ye nothing make; *idly, in vain*
But, Lord, these grisly fiendly rockes blake,
That seem rather a foul confusion
Of work, than any fair creation
Of such a perfect wise God and stable,
Why have ye wrought this work unreasonable?
For by this work, north, south, or west, or east,
There is not foster'd man, nor bird, nor beast:
It doth no good, to my wit, but *annoyeth.* *works mischief*
See ye not, Lord, how mankind it destroyeth?
A hundred thousand bodies of mankind
Have rockes slain, *all be they not in mind; * *though they are
Which mankind is so fair part of thy work, forgotten*
Thou madest it like to thine owen mark.* *image
Then seemed it ye had a great cherte* *love, affection
Toward mankind; but how then may it be
That ye such meanes make it to destroy?
Which meanes do no good, but ever annoy.
I wot well, clerkes will say as them lest,* *please
By arguments, that all is for the best,
Although I can the causes not y-know;
But thilke* God that made the wind to blow, *that
As keep my lord, this is my conclusion:
To clerks leave I all disputation:
But would to God that all these rockes blake
Were sunken into helle for his sake
These rockes slay mine hearte for the fear.'
Thus would she say, with many a piteous tear.
Her friendes saw that it was no disport
To roame by the sea, but discomfort,
And shope* them for to playe somewhere else. *arranged
They leade her by rivers and by wells,
And eke in other places delectables;
They dancen, and they play at chess and tables.* *backgammon
So on a day, right in the morning-tide,
Unto a garden that was there beside,
In which that they had made their ordinance* *provision, arrangement
Of victual, and of other purveyance,
They go and play them all the longe day:
And this was on the sixth morrow of May,
Which May had painted with his softe showers
This garden full of leaves and of flowers:
And craft of manne's hand so curiously
Arrayed had this garden truely,
That never was there garden of such price,* *value, praise
*But if* it were the very Paradise. *unless*
Th'odour of flowers, and the freshe sight,
Would have maked any hearte light
That e'er was born, *but if* too great sickness *unless*
Or too great sorrow held it in distress;
So full it was of beauty and pleasance.
And after dinner they began to dance
And sing also, save Dorigen alone
Who made alway her complaint and her moan,
For she saw not him on the dance go
That was her husband, and her love also;
But natheless she must a time abide
And with good hope let her sorrow slide.
Upon this dance, amonge other men,
Danced a squier before Dorigen
That fresher was, and jollier of array
*As to my doom,* than is the month of May. *in my judgment*
He sang and danced, passing any man,
That is or was since that the world began;
Therewith he was, if men should him descrive,
One of the *beste faring* men alive, *most accomplished*
Young, strong, and virtuous, and rich, and wise,
And well beloved, and holden in great price.* *esteem, value
And, shortly if the sooth I telle shall,
*Unweeting of* this Dorigen at all, *unknown to*
This lusty squier, servant to Venus,
Which that y-called was Aurelius,
Had lov'd her best of any creature
Two year and more, as was his aventure; * *fortune
But never durst he tell her his grievance;
Withoute cup he drank all his penance.
He was despaired, nothing durst he say,
Save in his songes somewhat would he wray* *betray
His woe, as in a general complaining;
He said, he lov'd, and was belov'd nothing.
Of suche matter made he many lays,
Songes, complaintes, roundels, virelays
How that he durste not his sorrow tell,
But languished, as doth a Fury in hell;
And die he must, he said, as did Echo
For Narcissus, that durst not tell her woe.
In other manner than ye hear me say,
He durste not to her his woe bewray,
Save that paraventure sometimes at dances,
Where younge folke keep their observances,
It may well be he looked on her face
In such a wise, as man that asketh grace,
But nothing wiste she of his intent.
Nath'less it happen'd, ere they thennes* went, *thence (from the
Because that he was her neighebour, garden) *
And was a man of worship and honour,
And she had knowen him *of time yore,* *for a long time*
They fell in speech, and forth aye more and more
Unto his purpose drew Aurelius;
And when he saw his time, he saide thus:
Madam,' quoth he, 'by God that this world made,
So that I wist it might your hearte glade,* *gladden
I would, that day that your Arviragus
Went over sea, that I, Aurelius,
Had gone where I should never come again;
For well I wot my service is in vain.
My guerdon* is but bursting of mine heart. *reward
Madame, rue upon my paine's smart,
For with a word ye may me slay or save.
Here at your feet God would that I were grave.
I have now no leisure more to say:
Have mercy, sweet, or you will *do me dey.'* *cause me to die*
She gan to look upon Aurelius;
'Is this your will,' quoth she, 'and say ye thus?
Ne'er erst,'* quoth she, 'I wiste what ye meant: *before
But now, Aurelius, I know your intent.
By thilke* God that gave me soul and life, *that
Never shall I be an untrue wife
In word nor work, as far as I have wit;
I will be his to whom that I am knit;
Take this for final answer as of me.'
But after that *in play* thus saide she. *playfully, in jest*
'Aurelius,' quoth she, 'by high God above,
Yet will I grante you to be your love
(Since I you see so piteously complain) :
Looke, what day that endelong* Bretagne *from end to end of
Ye remove all the rockes, stone by stone,
That they not lette* ship nor boat to gon, *prevent
I say, when ye have made this coast so clean
Of rockes, that there is no stone seen,
Then will I love you best of any man;
Have here my troth, in all that ever I can;
For well I wot that it shall ne'er betide.
Let such folly out of your hearte glide.
What dainty* should a man have in his life *value, pleasure
For to go love another manne's wife,
That hath her body when that ever him liketh? '
Aurelius full often sore siketh; * *sigheth
Is there none other grace in you? ' quoth he,
'No, by that Lord,' quoth she, 'that maked me.
Woe was Aurelius when that he this heard,
And with a sorrowful heart he thus answer'd.
'Madame, quoth he, 'this were an impossible.
Then must I die of sudden death horrible.'
And with that word he turned him anon.
Then came her other friends many a one,
And in the alleys roamed up and down,
And nothing wist of this conclusion,
But suddenly began to revel new,
Till that the brighte sun had lost his hue,
For th' horizon had reft the sun his light
(This is as much to say as it was night) :
And home they go in mirth and in solace;
Save only wretch'd Aurelius, alas
He to his house is gone with sorrowful heart.
He said, he may not from his death astart.* *escape
Him seemed, that he felt his hearte cold.
Up to the heav'n his handes gan he hold,
And on his knees bare he set him down.
And in his raving said his orisoun.* *prayer
For very woe out of his wit he braid; * *wandered
He wist not what he spake, but thus he said;
With piteous heart his plaint hath he begun
Unto the gods, and first unto the Sun.
He said; 'Apollo God and governour
Of every plante, herbe, tree, and flower,
That giv'st, after thy declination,
To each of them his time and his season,
As thine herberow* changeth low and high; *dwelling, situation
Lord Phoebus: cast thy merciable eye
On wretched Aurelius, which that am but lorn.* *undone
Lo, lord, my lady hath my death y-sworn,
Withoute guilt, but* thy benignity *unless
Upon my deadly heart have some pity.
For well I wot, Lord Phoebus, if you lest,* *please
Ye may me helpe, save my lady, best.
Now vouchsafe, that I may you devise* *tell, explain
How that I may be holp,* and in what wise. *helped
Your blissful sister, Lucina the sheen,
That of the sea is chief goddess and queen, -
Though Neptunus have deity in the sea,
Yet emperess above him is she; -
Ye know well, lord, that, right as her desire
Is to be quick'd* and lighted of your fire, *quickened
For which she followeth you full busily,
Right so the sea desireth naturally
To follow her, as she that is goddess
Both in the sea and rivers more and less.
Wherefore, Lord Phoebus, this is my request,
Do this miracle, or *do mine hearte brest; * *cause my heart
That flow, next at this opposition, to burst*
Which in the sign shall be of the Lion,
As praye her so great a flood to bring,
That five fathom at least it overspring
The highest rock in Armoric Bretagne,
And let this flood endure yeares twain:
Then certes to my lady may I say,
'Holde your hest,' the rockes be away.
Lord Phoebus, this miracle do for me,
Pray her she go no faster course than ye;
I say this, pray your sister that she go
No faster course than ye these yeares two:
Then shall she be even at full alway,
And spring-flood laste bothe night and day.
And *but she* vouchesafe in such mannere *if she do not*
To grante me my sov'reign lady dear,
Pray her to sink every rock adown
Into her owen darke regioun
Under the ground, where Pluto dwelleth in
Or nevermore shall I my lady win.
Thy temple in Delphos will I barefoot seek.
Lord Phoebus! see the teares on my cheek
And on my pain have some compassioun.'
And with that word in sorrow he fell down,
And longe time he lay forth in a trance.
His brother, which that knew of his penance,* *distress
Up caught him, and to bed he hath him brought,
Despaired in this torment and this thought
Let I this woeful creature lie;
Choose he for me whe'er* he will live or die. *whether
Arviragus with health and great honour
(As he that was of chivalry the flow'r)
Is come home, and other worthy men.
Oh, blissful art thou now, thou Dorigen!
Thou hast thy lusty husband in thine arms,
The freshe knight, the worthy man of arms,
That loveth thee as his own hearte's life:
*Nothing list him to be imaginatif* *he cared not to fancy*
If any wight had spoke, while he was out,
To her of love; he had of that no doubt; * *fear, suspicion
He not intended* to no such mattere, *occupied himself with
But danced, jousted, and made merry cheer.
And thus in joy and bliss I let them dwell,
And of the sick Aurelius will I tell
In languor and in torment furious
Two year and more lay wretch'd Aurelius,
Ere any foot on earth he mighte gon;
Nor comfort in this time had he none,
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk.* *scholar
He knew of all this woe and all this work;
For to none other creature certain
Of this matter he durst no worde sayn;
Under his breast he bare it more secree
Than e'er did Pamphilus for Galatee.
His breast was whole withoute for to seen,
But in his heart aye was the arrow keen,
And well ye know that of a sursanure
In surgery is perilous the cure,
But* men might touch the arrow or come thereby. *except
His brother wept and wailed privily,
Till at the last him fell in remembrance,
That while he was at Orleans in France, -
As younge clerkes, that be likerous* - *eager
To readen artes that be curious,
Seeken in every *halk and every hern* *nook and corner*
Particular sciences for to learn,-
He him remember'd, that upon a day
At Orleans in study a book he say* *saw
Of magic natural, which his fellaw,
That was that time a bachelor of law
All* were he there to learn another craft, *though
Had privily upon his desk y-laft;
Which book spake much of operations
Touching the eight and-twenty mansions
That longe to the Moon, and such folly
As in our dayes is not worth a fly;
For holy church's faith, in our believe,* *belief, creed
Us suff'reth none illusion to grieve.
And when this book was in his remembrance
Anon for joy his heart began to dance,
And to himself he saide privily;
'My brother shall be warish'd* hastily *cured
For I am sicker* that there be sciences, *certain
By which men make divers apparences,
Such as these subtle tregetoures play. *tricksters
For oft at feaste's have I well heard say,
That tregetours, within a halle large,
Have made come in a water and a barge,
And in the halle rowen up and down.
Sometimes hath seemed come a grim lioun,
And sometimes flowers spring as in a mead;
Sometimes a vine, and grapes white and red;
Sometimes a castle all of lime and stone;
And, when them liked, voided* it anon: *vanished
Thus seemed it to every manne's sight.
Now then conclude I thus; if that I might
At Orleans some olde fellow find,
That hath these Moone's mansions in mind,
Or other magic natural above.
He should well make my brother have his love.
For with an appearance a clerk* may make, *learned man
To manne's sight, that all the rockes blake
Of Bretagne were voided* every one, *removed
And shippes by the brinke come and gon,
And in such form endure a day or two;
Then were my brother warish'd* of his woe, *cured
Then must she needes *holde her behest,* *keep her promise*
Or elles he shall shame her at the least.'
Why should I make a longer tale of this?
Unto his brother's bed he comen is,
And such comfort he gave him, for to gon
To Orleans, that he upstart anon,
And on his way forth-ward then is he fare,* *gone
In hope for to be lissed* of his care. *eased of
When they were come almost to that city,
*But if it were* a two furlong or three, *all but*
A young clerk roaming by himself they met,
Which that in Latin *thriftily them gret.* *greeted them
And after that he said a wondrous thing; civilly*
I know,' quoth he, 'the cause of your coming; '
Aud ere they farther any foote went,
He told them all that was in their intent.
The Breton clerk him asked of fellaws
The which he hadde known in olde daws,* *days
And he answer'd him that they deade were,
For which he wept full often many a tear.
Down off his horse Aurelius light anon,
And forth with this magician is be gone
Home to his house, and made him well at ease;
Them lacked no vitail* that might them please. *victuals, food
So well-array'd a house as there was one,
Aurelius in his life saw never none.
He shewed him, ere they went to suppere,
Forestes, parkes, full of wilde deer.
There saw he hartes with their hornes high,
The greatest that were ever seen with eye.
He saw of them an hundred slain with hounds,
And some with arrows bleed of bitter wounds.
He saw, when voided* were the wilde deer, *passed away
These falconers upon a fair rivere,
That with their hawkes have the heron slain.
Then saw he knightes jousting in a plain.
And after this he did him such pleasance,
That he him shew'd his lady on a dance,
In which himselfe danced, as him thought.
And when this master, that this magic wrought,
Saw it was time, he clapp'd his handes two,
And farewell, all the revel is y-go.* *gone, removed
And yet remov'd they never out of the house,
While they saw all the sightes marvellous;
But in his study, where his bookes be,
They satte still, and no wight but they three.
To him this master called his squier,
And said him thus, 'May we go to supper?
Almost an hour it is, I undertake,
Since I you bade our supper for to make,
When that these worthy men wente with me
Into my study, where my bookes be.'
'Sir,' quoth this squier, 'when it liketh you.
It is all ready, though ye will right now.'
'Go we then sup,' quoth he, 'as for the best;
These amorous folk some time must have rest.'
At after supper fell they in treaty
What summe should this master's guerdon* be, *reward
To remove all the rockes of Bretagne,
And eke from Gironde to the mouth of Seine.
He made it strange,* and swore, so God him save, *a matter of
Less than a thousand pound he would not have, difficulty*
*Nor gladly for that sum he would not gon.* *see note *
Aurelius with blissful heart anon
Answered thus; 'Fie on a thousand pound!
This wide world, which that men say is round,
I would it give, if I were lord of it.
This bargain is full-driv'n, for we be knit; * *agreed
Ye shall be payed truly by my troth.
But looke, for no negligence or sloth,
Ye tarry us here no longer than to-morrow.'
'Nay,' quoth the clerk, *'have here my faith to borrow.'* *I pledge my
To bed is gone Aurelius when him lest, faith on it*
And well-nigh all that night he had his rest,
What for his labour, and his hope of bliss,
His woeful heart *of penance had a liss.* *had a respite
Upon the morrow, when that it was day,
Unto Bretagne they took the righte way,
Aurelius and this magician beside,
And be descended where they would abide:
And this was, as the bookes me remember,
The colde frosty season of December.
Phoebus wax'd old, and hued like latoun,* *brass
That in his hote declinatioun
Shone as the burned gold, with streames* bright; *beams
But now in Capricorn adown he light,
Where as he shone full pale, I dare well sayn.
The bitter frostes, with the sleet and rain,
Destroyed have the green in every yard. *courtyard, garden
Janus sits by the fire with double beard,
And drinketh of his bugle horn the wine:
Before him stands the brawn of tusked swine
And 'nowel'* crieth every lusty man *Noel
Aurelius, in all that ev'r he can,
Did to his master cheer and reverence,
And prayed him to do his diligence
To bringe him out of his paines smart,
Or with a sword that he would slit his heart.
This subtle clerk such ruth* had on this man, *pity
That night and day he sped him, that he can,
To wait a time of his conclusion;
This is to say, to make illusion,
By such an appearance of jugglery
(I know no termes of astrology) ,
That she and every wight should ween and say,
That of Bretagne the rockes were away,
Or else they were sunken under ground.
So at the last he hath a time found
To make his japes* and his wretchedness *tricks
Of such a *superstitious cursedness.* *detestable villainy*
His tables Toletanes forth he brought,
Full well corrected, that there lacked nought,
Neither his collect, nor his expanse years,
Neither his rootes, nor his other gears,
As be his centres, and his arguments,
And his proportional convenients
For his equations in everything.
And by his eighte spheres in his working,
He knew full well how far Alnath was shove
From the head of that fix'd Aries above,
That in the ninthe sphere consider'd is.
Full subtilly he calcul'd all this.
When he had found his firste mansion,
He knew the remnant by proportion;
And knew the rising of his moone well,
And in whose face, and term, and every deal;
And knew full well the moone's mansion
Accordant to his operation;
And knew also his other observances,
For such illusions and such meschances,* *wicked devices
As heathen folk used in thilke days.
For which no longer made he delays;
But through his magic, for a day or tway,
It seemed all the rockes were away.
Aurelius, which yet despaired is
Whe'er* he shall have his love, or fare amiss, *whether
Awaited night and day on this miracle:
And when he knew that there was none obstacle,
That voided* were these rockes every one, *removed
Down at his master's feet he fell anon,
And said; 'I, woeful wretch'd Aurelius,
Thank you, my Lord, and lady mine Venus,
That me have holpen from my cares cold.'
And to the temple his way forth hath he hold,
Where as he knew he should his lady see.
And when he saw his time, anon right he
With dreadful* heart and with full humble cheer** *fearful **mien
Saluteth hath his sovereign lady dear.
'My rightful Lady,' quoth this woeful man,
'Whom I most dread, and love as I best can,
And lothest were of all this world displease,
Were't not that I for you have such disease,* *distress, affliction
That I must die here at your foot anon,
Nought would I tell how me is woebegone.
But certes either must I die or plain; * *bewail
Ye slay me guilteless for very pain.
But of my death though that ye have no ruth,
Advise you, ere that ye break your truth:
Repente you, for thilke God above,
Ere ye me slay because that I you love.
For, Madame, well ye wot what ye have hight; * *promised
Not that I challenge anything of right
Of you, my sovereign lady, but of grace:
But in a garden yond', in such a place,
Ye wot right well what ye behighte* me, *promised
And in mine hand your trothe plighted ye,
To love me best; God wot ye saide so,
Albeit that I unworthy am thereto;
Madame, I speak it for th' honour of you,
More than to save my hearte's life right now;
I have done so as ye commanded me,
And if ye vouchesafe, ye may go see.
Do as you list, have your behest in mind,
For, quick or dead, right there ye shall me find;
In you hes all to *do me live or dey; * *cause me to
But well I wot the rockes be away.' live or die*
He took his leave, and she astonish'd stood;
In all her face was not one dropp of blood:
She never ween'd t'have come in such a trap.
'Alas! ' quoth she, 'that ever this should hap!
For ween'd I ne'er, by possibility,
That such a monster or marvail might be;
It is against the process of nature.'
And home she went a sorrowful creature;
For very fear unnethes* may she go. *scarcely
She weeped, wailed, all a day or two,
And swooned, that it ruthe was to see:
But why it was, to no wight tolde she,
For out of town was gone Arviragus.
But to herself she spake, and saide thus,
With face pale, and full sorrowful cheer,
In her complaint, as ye shall after hear.
'Alas! ' quoth she, 'on thee, Fortune, I plain,* *complain
That unware hast me wrapped in thy chain,
From which to scape, wot I no succour,
Save only death, or elles dishonour;
One of these two behoveth me to choose.
But natheless, yet had I lever* lose *sooner, rather
My life, than of my body have shame,
Or know myselfe false, or lose my name;
And with my death *I may be quit y-wis.* *I may certainly purchase
Hath there not many a noble wife, ere this, my exemption*
And many a maiden, slain herself, alas!
Rather than with her body do trespass?
Yes, certes; lo, these stories bear witness.
When thirty tyrants full of cursedness* *wickedness
Had slain Phidon in Athens at the feast,
They commanded his daughters to arrest,
And bringe them before them, in despite,
All naked, to fulfil their foul delight;
And in their father's blood they made them dance
Upon the pavement, - God give them mischance.
For which these woeful maidens, full of dread,
Rather than they would lose their maidenhead,
They privily *be start* into a well, *suddenly leaped
And drowned themselves, as the bookes tell.
They of Messene let inquire and seek
Of Lacedaemon fifty maidens eke,
On which they woulde do their lechery:
But there was none of all that company
That was not slain, and with a glad intent
Chose rather for to die, than to assent
To be oppressed* of her maidenhead. *forcibly bereft
Why should I then to dien be in dread?
Lo, eke the tyrant Aristoclides,
That lov'd a maiden hight Stimphalides,
When that her father slain was on a night,
Unto Diana's temple went she right,
And hent* the image in her handes two, *caught, clasped
From which image she woulde never go;
No wight her handes might off it arace,* *pluck away by force
Till she was slain right in the selfe* place. *same
Now since that maidens hadde such despite
To be defouled with man's foul delight,
Well ought a wife rather herself to sle,* *slay
Than be defouled, as it thinketh me.
What shall I say of Hasdrubale's wife,
That at Carthage bereft herself of life?
For, when she saw the Romans win the town,
She took her children all, and skipt adown
Into the fire, and rather chose to die,
Than any Roman did her villainy.
Hath not Lucretia slain herself, alas!
At Rome, when that she oppressed* was *ravished
Of Tarquin? for her thought it was a shame
To live, when she hadde lost her name.
The seven maidens of Milesie also
Have slain themselves for very dread and woe,
Rather than folk of Gaul them should oppress.
More than a thousand stories, as I guess,
Could I now tell as touching this mattere.
When Abradate was slain, his wife so dear
Herselfe slew, and let her blood to glide
In Abradate's woundes, deep and wide,
And said, 'My body at the leaste way
There shall no wight defoul, if that I may.'
Why should I more examples hereof sayn?
Since that so many have themselves slain,
Well rather than they would defouled be,
I will conclude that it is bet* for me *better
To slay myself, than be defouled thus.
I will be true unto Arviragus,
Or elles slay myself in some mannere,
As did Demotione's daughter dear,
Because she woulde not defouled be.
O Sedasus, it is full great pity
To reade how thy daughters died, alas!
That slew themselves *for suche manner cas.* *in circumstances of
As great a pity was it, or well more, the same kind*
The Theban maiden, that for Nicanor
Herselfe slew, right for such manner woe.
Another Theban maiden did right so;
For one of Macedon had her oppress'd,
She with her death her maidenhead redress'd.* *vindicated
What shall I say of Niceratus' wife,
That for such case bereft herself her life?
How true was eke to Alcibiades
His love, that for to dien rather chese,* *chose
Than for to suffer his body unburied be?
Lo, what a wife was Alceste? ' quoth she.
'What saith Homer of good Penelope?
All Greece knoweth of her chastity.
Pardie, of Laedamia is written thus,
That when at Troy was slain Protesilaus,
No longer would she live after his day.
The same of noble Porcia tell I may;
Withoute Brutus coulde she not live,
To whom she did all whole her hearte give.
The perfect wifehood of Artemisie
Honoured is throughout all Barbarie.
O Teuta queen, thy wifely chastity
To alle wives may a mirror be.'
Thus plained Dorigen a day or tway,
Purposing ever that she woulde dey; * *die
But natheless upon the thirde night
Home came Arviragus, the worthy knight,
And asked her why that she wept so sore.
And she gan weepen ever longer more.
'Alas,' quoth she, 'that ever I was born!
Thus have I said,' quoth she; 'thus have I sworn. '
And told him all, as ye have heard before:
It needeth not rehearse it you no more.
This husband with glad cheer,* in friendly wise, *demeanour
Answer'd and said, as I shall you devise.* *relate
'Is there aught elles, Dorigen, but this? '
'Nay, nay,' quoth she, 'God help me so, *as wis* *assuredly*
This is too much, an* it were Godde's will.' *if
'Yea, wife,' quoth he, 'let sleepe what is still,
It may be well par'venture yet to-day.
Ye shall your trothe holde, by my fay.
For, God so wisly* have mercy on me, *certainly
*I had well lever sticked for to be,* *I had rather be slain*
For very love which I to you have,
But if ye should your trothe keep and save.
Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.'
But with that word he burst anon to weep,
And said; 'I you forbid, on pain of death,
That never, while you lasteth life or breath,
To no wight tell ye this misaventure;
As I may best, I will my woe endure,
Nor make no countenance of heaviness,
That folk of you may deeme harm, or guess.'
And forth he call'd a squier and a maid.
'Go forth anon with Dorigen,' he said,
'And bringe her to such a place anon.'
They take their leave, and on their way they gon:
But they not wiste why she thither went;
He would to no wight telle his intent.
This squier, which that hight Aurelius,
On Dorigen that was so amorous,
Of aventure happen'd her to meet
Amid the town, right in the quickest* street, *nearest
As she was bound* to go the way forthright *prepared, going
Toward the garden, there as she had hight.* *promised
And he was to the garden-ward also;
For well he spied when she woulde go
Out of her house, to any manner place;
But thus they met, of aventure or grace,
And he saluted her with glad intent,
And asked of her whitherward she went.
And she answered, half as she were mad,
'Unto the garden, as my husband bade,
My trothe for to hold, alas! alas! '
Aurelius gan to wonder on this case,
And in his heart had great compassion
Of her, and of her lamentation,
And of Arviragus, the worthy knight,
That bade her hold all that she hadde hight;
So loth him was his wife should break her truth* *troth, pledged word
And in his heart he caught of it great ruth,* *pity
Considering the best on every side,
*That from his lust yet were him lever abide,* *see note *
Than do so high a churlish wretchedness* *wickedness
Against franchise,* and alle gentleness; *generosity
For which in fewe words he saide thus;
'Madame, say to your lord Arviragus,
That since I see the greate gentleness
Of him, and eke I see well your distress,
That him were lever* have shame (and that were ruth) ** *rather **pity
Than ye to me should breake thus your truth,
I had well lever aye* to suffer woe, *forever
Than to depart* the love betwixt you two. *sunder, split up
I you release, Madame, into your hond,
Quit ev'ry surement* and ev'ry bond, *surety
That ye have made to me as herebeforn,
Since thilke time that ye were born.
Have here my truth, I shall you ne'er repreve* *reproach
*Of no behest; * and here I take my leave, *of no (breach of)
As of the truest and the beste wife promise*
That ever yet I knew in all my life.
But every wife beware of her behest;
On Dorigen remember at the least.
Thus can a squier do a gentle deed,
As well as can a knight, withoute drede.'* *doubt
She thanked him upon her knees bare,
And home unto her husband is she fare,* *gone
And told him all, as ye have hearde said;
And, truste me, he was so *well apaid,* *satisfied*
That it were impossible me to write.
Why should I longer of this case indite?
Arviragus and Dorigen his wife
In sov'reign blisse ledde forth their life;
Ne'er after was there anger them between;
He cherish'd her as though she were a queen,
And she was to him true for evermore;
Of these two folk ye get of me no more.
Aurelius, that his cost had *all forlorn,* *utterly lost*
Cursed the time that ever he was born.
'Alas! ' quoth he, 'alas that I behight* *promised
Of pured* gold a thousand pound of weight *refined
To this philosopher! how shall I do?
I see no more, but that I am fordo.* *ruined, undone
Mine heritage must I needes sell,
And be a beggar; here I will not dwell,
And shamen all my kindred in this place,
But* I of him may gette better grace. *unless
But natheless I will of him assay
At certain dayes year by year to pay,
And thank him of his greate courtesy.
My trothe will I keep, I will not he.'
With hearte sore he went unto his coffer,
And broughte gold unto this philosopher,
The value of five hundred pound, I guess,
And him beseeched, of his gentleness,
To grant him *dayes of* the remenant; *time to pay up*
And said; 'Master, I dare well make avaunt,
I failed never of my truth as yet.
For sickerly my debte shall be quit
Towardes you how so that e'er I fare
To go a-begging in my kirtle bare:
But would ye vouchesafe, upon surety,
Two year, or three, for to respite me,
Then were I well, for elles must I sell
Mine heritage; there is no more to tell.'
This philosopher soberly* answer'd, *gravely
And saide thus, when he these wordes heard;
'Have I not holden covenant to thee? '
'Yes, certes, well and truely,' quoth he.
'Hast thou not had thy lady as thee liked? '
'No, no,' quoth he, and sorrowfully siked.* *sighed
'What was the cause? tell me if thou can.'
Aurelius his tale anon began,
And told him all as ye have heard before,
It needeth not to you rehearse it more.
He said, 'Arviragus of gentleness
Had lever* die in sorrow and distress, *rather
Than that his wife were of her trothe false.'
The sorrow of Dorigen he told him als',* *also
How loth her was to be a wicked wife,
And that she lever had lost that day her life;
And that her troth she swore through innocence;
She ne'er erst* had heard speak of apparence** *before **see note
That made me have of her so great pity,
And right as freely as he sent her to me,
As freely sent I her to him again:
This is all and some, there is no more to sayn.'
The philosopher answer'd; 'Leve* brother, *dear
Evereach of you did gently to the other;
Thou art a squier, and he is a knight,
But God forbidde, for his blissful might,
But if a clerk could do a gentle deed
As well as any of you, it is no drede* *doubt
Sir, I release thee thy thousand pound,
As thou right now were crept out of the ground,
Nor ever ere now haddest knowen me.
For, Sir, I will not take a penny of thee
For all my craft, nor naught for my travail; * *labour, pains
Thou hast y-payed well for my vitaille;
It is enough; and farewell, have good day.'
And took his horse, and forth he went his way.
Lordings, this question would I aske now,
Which was the moste free,* as thinketh you? *generous
Now telle me, ere that ye farther wend.
I can* no more, my tale is at an end.