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Patrick White

While The Ghosts Are Putting Make-up On Their Deathmasks In The Green Room

While the ghosts are putting make-up on their death masks in the green room
and looking for their false eyelashes like centipedes on the floor,
I'm out on stage apologizing for a power outage of the stars
that shouldn't be blamed on the windmills everybody's tilting at.

And even Mother Theresa is lining up with the mermaids
on the deck of the latest shipwreck to see if she can get a bunk for the night
without any bugs or bedsores. Crackhead, hillbilly, hippie rednecks
are pouring booze over the amps of the band, and the arsonist in the corner
who hasn't said a thing all night a lip reader could understand
is trying to short out his nerves to start a fire in the walls.
The underground circus is back in town like Cirque du Soleil in eclipse,
and as far as I can see, there are a lot of fire hydrants around
but no sacred clowns, and the audience is perched on a public trapeze
under a tent of starmaps that have never seen the Pleiades.

If you just got here, Edgar Allen Poe's already had it out with the raven,
but nobody cares much, since it should have happened a long time ago,
and besides, Nevermore's not much of a door to get out of
in case of a fire. Go ask the thief who left the moon in the window
and my reflection in the mirror when everything else disappeared.
He'll tell you about the cat burglar who fell off the seventh floor
and lived to go on tour with the tale when she got crazy enough
to be wise, and put on a golden parachute that was the same size as her skin.

Have you seen Rasputin? I'm looking for my bleeding heart,
and the last time I heard of him he was in a bag in a river
with a snake that was using a rooster as a fire to keep warm
while the toxins and the bullets took effect, though all the haemophiliacs
and worried assassins said when they pulled him out, he still wasn't dead.
Hey, you've got to give a man credit for not dying
when he was too innocent to float like a waterlily or an ice-berg
in a trial by ordeal that's more Germanic than Slavic
though he should have been more subtle in his approach
to a courtful of jesters and gleemen who hate
the sound of anyone's laughter in their midst but the king's and their own.

And even the high priest of the Wizard of Oz
with his police megaphone and his taser baton agrees
you can't learn the protocols of mythic inflation
unless you're on your knees. Though I suspect
there's a lot less behind that than at first glance appears
as Cygnus swan-dives sidereally into a pool the size of a tear
without a safety net of shattered mirrors in the land of lakes
to break its Icarian descent into the shallow end of the fools
who are watching with their third eyes closed,
and lens caps on their telescopes like the blindfolds of a firing squad
that don't look much like the hoods of hunting falcons
with a bola of bells around their legs,
and the crescents of the moon for a trinity of talons.

But by the end of the act, the ghost of Lady Nightshade comes forth
like a spiritual toxologist with a spiritual arrowhead in her hands
to make a Clovis point of flint-knapped obsidian as clearly as she can
by plunging it through everyone's heart like Jonestown
that's just run out of black cool aid to bring
everything down to ground zero again as the roof blows off
in an unexpected cyclone, and we're all left lying here
caught dead in our tracks like telescopes
and the standing targets of easels in the doe-glare
of the oncoming headlights of vehicles into roadkill
as if there were no more ripples or wavelengths in the rain
or tree rings anywhere in the petrified heartwood of the pain.

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The Idols

An Ode
Luce intellettual, piena d' amore


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


III.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Three Women

My love is young, so young;
Young is her cheek, and her throat,
And life is a song to be sung
With love the word for each note.

Young is her cheek and her throat;
Her eyes have the smile o' May.
And love is the word for each note
In the song of my life to-day.

Her eyes have the smile o' May;
Her heart is the heart of a dove,
And the song of my life to-day
Is love, beautiful love.


Her heart is the heart of a dove,
Ah, would it but fly to my breast
Where love, beautiful love,
Has made it a downy nest.


Ah, would she but fly to my breast,
My love who is young, so young;
I have made her a downy nest
And life is a song to be sung.


1
I.
A dull little station, a man with the eye
Of a dreamer; a bevy of girls moving by;
A swift moving train and a hot Summer sun,
The curtain goes up, and our play is begun.
The drama of passion, of sorrow, of strife,
Which always is billed for the theatre Life.
It runs on forever, from year unto year,
With scarcely a change when new actors appear.
It is old as the world is-far older in truth,
For the world is a crude little planet of youth.
And back in the eras before it was formed,
The passions of hearts through the Universe stormed.


Maurice Somerville passed the cluster of girls
Who twisted their ribbons and fluttered their curls
In vain to attract him; his mind it was plain
Was wholly intent on the incoming train.
That great one eyed monster puffed out its black breath,
Shrieked, snorted and hissed, like a thing bent on death,
Paused scarcely a moment, and then sped away,
And two actors more now enliven our play.


A graceful young woman with eyes like the morn,
With hair like the tassels which hang from the corn,
And a face that might serve as a model for Peace,
Moved lightly along, smiled and bowed to Maurice,
Then was lost in the circle of friends waiting near.
A discord of shrill nasal tones smote the ear,
As they greeted their comrade and bore her from sight.
(The ear oft is pained while the eye feels delight
In the presence of women throughout our fair land:
God gave them the graces which win and command,
But the devil, who always in mischief rejoices,
Slipped into their teachers and ruined their voices.)
There had stepped from the train just behind Mabel Lee
A man whose deportment bespoke him to be
A child of good fortune. His mien and his air
Were those of one all unaccustomed to care.
His brow was not vexed with the gold seeker's worry,
His manner was free from the national hurry.
Repose marked his movements. Yet gaze in his eye,
And you saw that this calm outer man was a lie;
And you knew that deep down in the depths of his breast
There dwelt the unmerciful imp of unrest.


He held out his hand; it was clasped with a will
In both the firm palms of Maurice Somerville.
'Well, Reese, my old Comrade;' 'Ha, Roger, my boy,'
They cried in a breath, and their eyes gemmed with joy
(Which but for their sex had been set in a tear),
As they walked arm in arm to the trap waiting near,
And drove down the shining shell roadway which wound
Through forest and meadow, in search of the Sound.


Roger:

I smell the salt water-that perfume which starts
The blood from hot brains back to world withered hearts;
You may talk of the fragrance of flower filled fields,
You may sing of the odors the Orient yields,
You may tell of the health laden scent of the pine,
But give me the subtle salt breath of the brine.
Already I feel lost emotions of youth
Steal back to my soul in their sweetness and truth;
Small wonder the years leave no marks on your face,
Time's scythe gathers rust in this idyllic place.
You must feel like a child on the Great Mother's breast,
With the Sound like a nurse watching over your rest?


Maurice:

There is beauty and truth in your quaint simile,
I love the Sound more than the broad open sea.
The ocean seems always stern, masculine, bold,
The Sound is a woman, now warm, and now cold.
It rises in fury and threatens to smite,
Then falls at your feet with a coo of delight;
Capricious, seductive, first frowning, then smiling,
And always, whatever its mood is, beguiling.
Look, now you can see it, bright beautiful blue,
And far in the distance there loom into view
The banks of Long Island, full thirty miles off;
A sign of wet weather to-morrow. Don't scoff!
We people who chum with the waves and the wind
Know more than all wise signal bureaus combined.


But come, let us talk of yourself-for of me
There is little to tell which your eyes may not see.
Since we finished at College (eight years, is it not?)
I simply have dreamed away life in this spot.
With my dogs and my horses, a book and a pen,
And a week spent in town as a change now and then.
Fatigue for the body, disease for the mind,
Are all that the city can give me, I find.
Yet once in a while there is wisdom I hold
In leaving the things that are dearer than gold,-
Loved people and places-if only to learn
The exquisite rapture it is to return.
But you, I remember, craved motion and change;
You hated the usual, worshiped the strange.
Adventure and travel I know were your theme:
Well, how did the real compare with the dream?
You have compassed the earth since we parted at Yale,
Has life grown the richer, or only grown stale?


Roger:

Stale, stale, my dear boy! that's the story in short,
I am weary of travel, adventure and sport;
At home and abroad, in all climates and lands,
I have had what life gives when a full purse commands
I have chased after Pleasure, that phantom faced elf,
And lost the best part of my youth and myself.
And now, barely thirty, I'm heart sick and blue;
Life seems like a farce scarcely worth sitting through.
I dread its long stretch of dissatisfied years;
Ah! wealth is not always the boon it appears.
And poverty lights not such ruinous fires
As gratified appetites, tastes and desires.
Fate curses, when letting us do as we please-
It stunts a man's soul to be cradled in ease.


Maurice:

You are right in a measure; the devil I hold
Is oftener found in full coffers of gold
Than in bare, empty larders. The soul, it is plain,
Needs the conflicts of earth, needs the stress and the strain
Of misfortune, to bring out its strength in this life-
The Soul's calisthenics are sorrow and strife.
But, Roger, what folly to stand in youth's prime
And talk like a man who could father old Time.
You have life all before you; the past,-let it sleep;
Its lessons alone are the things you should keep.
There is virtue sometimes in our follies and sinnings;
Right lives very often have faulty beginnings.
Results, and not causes, are what we should measure.
You have learned precious truths in your search after pleasure.
You have learned that a glow worm is never a star,
You have learned that Peace builds not her temples afar.
And now, dispossessed of the spirit to roam,
You are finely equipped to establish a home.
That's the one thing you need to lend savor to life,
A home, and the love of a sweet hearted wife,
And children to gladden the path to old age.


Roger:

Alas! from life's book I have torn out that page;
I have loved many times and in many a fashion,
Which means I know nothing at all of the passion.
I have scattered my heart, here and there, bit by bit,
'Til now there is nothing worth while left of it;
And, worse than all else, I have ceased to believe
In the virtue and truth of the daughters of Eve.
There's tragedy for you-when man's early trust
In woman, experience hurls to the dust!


Maurice:

Then you doubt your own mother?


Roger:

She passed heavenward
Before I remember; a saint, I have heard,
While she lived; there are scores of good women to-day,
Temptation has chanced not to wander their way.
The devil has more than his lordship can do,
He can't make the rounds, so some women keep true.


Maurice:

You think then each woman, if tempted, must fall?


Roger:

Yes, if tempted her way-not one way suits them all-
They have tastes in their sins as they have in their clothes,
The tempter, of course, has to first study those.
One needs to be flattered, another is bought;
One yields to caresses, by frowns one is caught.
One wants a bold master, another a slave,
With one you must jest, with another be grave.
But swear you're a sinner whom she has reformed
And the average feminine fortress is stormed.
In rescuing men from abysses of sin
She loses her head-and herself tumbles in.
The mind of a woman was shaped for a saint,
But deep in her heart lies the devil's own taint.
With plans for salvation her busy brain teems,
While her heart longs in secret to know how sin seems.
And if with this question unanswered she dies,
Temptation came not in the right sort of guise.
There's my estimate, Reese, of the beautiful sex;
I see by your face that my words wound and vex,
But remember, my boy, I'm a man of the world.


Maurice:

Thank God, in the vortex I have not been hurled.
If experience breeds such a mental disease,
I am glad I have lived with the birds and the bees,
And the winds and the waves, and let people alone.
So far in my life but good women I've known.
My mother, my sister, a few valued friends-
A teacher, a schoolmate, and there the list ends.
But to know one true woman in sunshine and gloom,
From the zenith of life to the door of the tomb,
To know her, as I knew that mother of mine,
Is to know the whole sex and to kneel at the shrine.


Roger:

Then you think saint and woman synonymous terms?


Maurice:

Oh, no! we are all, men and women, poor worms
Crawling up from the dampness and darkness of clay
To bask in the sunlight and warmth of the day.
Some climb to a leaf and reflect its bright sheen,
Some toil through the grass, and are crushed there unseen.
Some sting if you touch them, and some evolve wings;
Yet God dwells in each of the poor, groping things.
They came from the Source-to the Source they go back;
The sinners are those who have missed the true track.
We can not judge women or men as a class,
Each soul has its own distinct place in the mass.
There is no sex in sin; it were folly to swear
All women are angels, but worse to declare
All are devils as you do. You're morbid, my boy,
In what you thought gold you have found much alloy
And now you are doubting there is the true ore.
But wait till you study my sweet simple store
Of pure sterling treasures; just wait till you've been
A few restful weeks, or a season, within
The charmed circle of home life; then, Roger, you'll find
These malarial mists clearing out of your mind.
As a ship cuts the fog and is caught by the breeze,
And swept through the sunlight to fair, open seas,
So your heart will be caught and swept out to the ocean
Of youth and youth's birthright of happy emotion.
I'll wager my hat (it was new yesterday)
That you'll fall in love, too, in a serious way.
Our girls at Bay Bend are bewitching and fair,
And Cupid lurks ever in salt Summer air.


Roger:

I question your gifts as a prophet, and yet,
I confess in my travels I never have met
A woman whose face so impressed me at sight,
As one seen to-day; a mere girl, sweet and bright,
Who entered the train quite alone and sat down
Surrounded by parcels she'd purchased in town.
A trim country lass, but endowed with the beauty
Which makes a man think of his conscience and duty.
Some women, you know, move us that way-God bless them,
While others rouse only a thirst to possess them
The face of the girl made me wish to be good,
I went out and smoked to escape from the mood.
When conscience through half a man's life has been sleeping
What folly to wake it to worry and weeping!


Maurice:

The pessimist role is a modern day fad,
But, Roger, you make a poor cynic, my lad.
Your heart at the core is as sound as a nut,
Though the wheels of your mind have dropped into the rut
Of wrong thinking. You need a strong hand on the lever
Of good common sense, and an earnest endeavor
To pull yourself out of the slough of despond
Back into the highway of peace just beyond.
And now, here we are at Peace Castle in truth,
And there stands its Chatelaine, sweet Sister Ruth,
To welcome you, Roger; you'll find a new type
In this old-fashioned girl, who in years scarcely ripe,
And as childish in heart as she is in her looks,
And without worldly learning or knowledge of books,
Yet in housewifely wisdom is wise as a sage.
She is quite out of step with the girls of her age,
For she has no ambition beyond the home sphere.
Ruth, here's Roger Montrose, my comrade of dear College days.
The gray eyes of the girl of nineteen
Looked into the face oft in fancy she'd seen
When her brother had talked of his comrade at Yale.
His stature was lower, his cheek was more pale
Than her thought had portrayed him; a look in his eye
Made her sorry, she knew not for what nor knew why,
But she longed to befriend him, as one needing aid.
While he, gazing down on the face of the maid,
Spoke some light words of greeting, the while his mind ran
On her 'points' good and bad; for the average man
When he looks at a woman proceeds first to scan her
As if she were horse flesh, and in the same manner
Notes all that is pleasing, or otherwise. So
Roger gazed at Ruth Somerville.
'Mouth like a bow
And eyes full of motherhood; color too warm,
And too round in the cheek and too full in the form
For the highest ideal of beauty and art.
Domestic-that word is the cue to her part
She would warm a man's slippers, but never his veins;
She would feed well his stomach, but never his brains.
And after she looks on her first baby's face,
Her husband will hold but a second-class place
In her thoughts or emotions, unless he falls ill,
When a dozen trained nurses her place can not fill.
She is sweet of her kind; and her kind since the birth
Of this sin ridden, Circe-cursed planet, the Earth,
Has kept it, I own, with its medleys of evil
From going straight into the hands of the devil.
It is not through its heroes the world lives and thrives,
But through its sweet commonplace mothers and wives.
We love them, and leave them; deceive, and respect them,
We laud loud their virtues and straightway neglect them.
They are daisy and buttercup women of earth
Who grace common ways with their sweetness and worth.
We praise, but we pass them, to reach for some flower
That stings when we pluck it, or wilts in an hour.
'You are thornless, fair Ruth! you are useful and sweet!
But lovers shall pass you to sigh at the feet
Of the selfish and idle, for such is man's way;
Your lot is to work, and to weep, and to pray.
To give much and get little; to toil and to wait
For the meager rewards of indifferent fate.
Yet so wholesome your heart, you will never complain;
You will feast on life's sorrow and drink of its pain,
And thank God for the banquet; 'tis women like you
Who make the romancing of preachers seem true.
The earth is your debtor to such large amounts
There must be a heaven to square up accounts,
Or else the whole scheme of existence at best
Is a demon's poor effort at making a jest.'


That night as Ruth brushed out her bright hazel hair
Her thoughts were of Roger, 'His bold laughing air
Is a cloak to some sorrow concealed in his breast,
His mind is the home of some secret unrest.'
She sighed; and there woke in her bosom once more
The impulse to comfort and help him; to pour
Soothing oil from the urn of her heart on his wounds.
Where motherhood nature in woman abounds
It is thus Cupid comes; unannounced and unbidden,
In sweet pity's guise, with his arrows well hidden.
But once given welcome and housed as a guest,
He hurls the whole quiver full into her breast,
While he pulls off his mask and laughs up in her eyes
With an impish delight at her start of surprise.
So intent is this archer on bagging his game
He scruples at nothing which gives him good aim.


Ruth's heart was a virgin's, in love menaced danger
While she sat by her mirror and pitied the stranger.
But just as she blew out her candle and stood
Robed for sleep in the moonlight, a change in her mood
Quickly banished the dreamer, and brought in its stead
The practical housekeeper. Sentiment fled;
And she puzzled her brain to decide which were best,
Corn muffins or hot graham gems, for the guest!


2
II.
The short-sighted minister preached at Bay Bend
His long-winded sermon quite through to the end,
Unmindful there sat in the Somerville pew
A stranger whose pale handsome countenance drew
All eyes from his own reverend self; nor suspected
What Ruth and her brother too plainly detected
That the stranger was bored.
'Though his gaze never stirred
From the face of the preacher, his heart has not heard,'
Ruth said to herself; and her soft mother-eye
Was fixed on his face with a look like a sigh
In its tremulous depths, as they rose to depart.
Then suddenly Roger, alert, seemed to start
And his dull, listless glance changed to one of surprise
And of pleasure. Ruth saw that the goal of his eyes
Was her friend Mabel Lee in the vestibule; fair
As a saint that is pictured with sun tangled hair
And orbs like the skies in October. She smiled,
And the saint disappeared in the innocent child
With an unconscious dower of beauty and youth
She paused in the vestibule waiting for Ruth
And seemed not to notice the warm eager gaze
Of two men fixed upon her in different ways.
One, the look which souls lift to a being above,
The other a look of unreasoning love
Born of fancy and destined to grow in an hour
To a full fledged emotion of mastering power.


She spoke, and her voice disappointed the ear;
It lacked some deep chords that the heart hoped to hear.
It was sweet, but not vibrant; it came from the throat,
And one listened in vain for a full chested note.
While something at times like a petulant sound
Seemed in strange disaccord with the peace so profound
Of the eyes and the brow.
Though our sight is deceived
The ear is an organ that may be believed.
The faces of people are trained to conceal,
But their unruly voices are prone to reveal
What lies deep in their natures; a voice rarely lies,
But Mabel Lee's voice told one tale, while her eyes
Told another. Large, liquid, and peaceful as lakes
Where the azure dawn rests, ere the loud world awakes,
Were the beautiful eyes of the maiden. 'A saint,
Without mortal blemish or weak human taint,'
Said Maurice to himself. To himself Roger said:
'The touch of her soft little hands on my head
Would convert me. What peace for a world weary breast
To just sit by her side and be soothed into rest.'


Daring thoughts for a stranger. Maurice, who had known
Mabel Lee as a child, to himself would not own
Such bold longings as those were. He held her to be
Too sacred for even a thought that made free.
And the voice in his bosom was silenced and hushed
Lest the bloom from her soul by his words should be brushed.
There are men to whom love is religion; but woman
Is far better pleased with a homage more human.
Though she may not be able to love in like fashion,
She wants to be wooed with both ardor and passion.
Had Mabel Lee read Roger's thoughts of her, bold
Though they were, they had flattered and pleased her, I hold.
The stranger was duly presented.


Roger:

Miss Lee,
I am sure, has no least recollection of me,
But the pleasure is mine to have looked on her face
Once before this.


Mabel:

Indeed? May I ask where?


Roger:

The place
Was the train, and the time yesterday.


Mabel:

'Then I came
From my shopping excursion in town by the same
Fast express which brought you? Had I known that the friend
Of my friends, was so near me en route for Bay Bend,
I had waived all conventions and asked him to take
One-half of my parcels for sweet pity's sake.


Roger:

You sadden me sorely. As long as I live
I shall mourn the great pleasure chance chose not to give.


Maurice:

Take courage, mon ami. Our fair friend, Miss Lee,
Fills her time quite as full of sweet works as the bee;
Like the bee, too, she drives out the drones from her hive.
You must toil in her cause, in her favor to thrive.


Roger:

She need but command me. To wait upon beauty
And goodness combined makes a pleasure of duty.


Maurice:

Who serves Mabel Lee serves all Righteousness too.
Pray, then, that she gives you some labor to do.
The cure for the pessimist lies in good deeds.
Who toils for another forgets his own needs,
And mischief and misery never attend
On the man who is occupied fully.


Ruth:

Our friend
Has the town on her shoulders. Whatever may be
The cause that is needy, we look to Miss Lee.
Have you gold? She will make you disgorge it ere long;
Are you poor? Well, perchance you can dance-sing a song-
Make a speech-tell a story, or plan a charade.
Whatever you have, gold or wits, sir, must aid
In her numerous charities.


Mabel:

Riches and brain
Are but loans from the Master. He meant them, 'tis plain,
To be used in His service; and people are kind,
When once you can set them to thinking. I find
It is lack of perception, not lack of good heart
Which makes the world selfish in seeming. My part
Is to call the attention of Plenty to need,
And to bid Pleasure pause for a moment and heed
The woes and the burdens of Labor.


Roger:

One plea
From the rosy and eloquent lips of Miss Lee
Would make Avarice pour out his coffers of gold
At her feet, I should fancy; would soften the cold,
Selfish heart of the world to compassionate sighs,
And bring tears of pity to vain Pleasure's eyes.


As the sunset a color on lily leaves throws,
The words and the glances of Roger Montrose
O'er the listener's cheeks sent a pink tinted wave;
While Maurice seemed disturbed, and his sister grew grave.
The false chink of flattery's coin smites the ear
With an unpleasant ring when the heart is sincere.
Yet the man whose mind pockets are filled with this ore,
Though empty his brain cells, is never a bore
To the opposite sex.
While Maurice knew of old
Roger's wealth in that coin that does duty for gold
In Society dealings, it hurt him to see
The cheap metal offered to sweet Mabel Lee.


(Yet, perchance, the hurt came, not so much that 'twas offered,
As in seeing her take, with a smile, what was proffered.)
They had walked, two by two, down the elm shaded street,
Which led to a cottage, vine hidden, and sweet
With the breath of the roses that covered it, where
Mabel paused in the gateway; a picture most fair.
'I would ask you to enter,' she said, 'ere you pass,
But in just twenty minutes my Sunday-school class
Claims my time and attention; and later I meet
A Committee on Plans for the boys of the street.
We seek to devise for these pupils in crime
Right methods of thought and wise uses of time.


Roger:

I am but a vagrant, untutored and wild,
May I join your street class, and be taught like a child?


Mabel:

If you come I will carefully study your case.


Maurice:

I must go along, too, just to keep him in place.


Mabel:

Then you think him unruly?


Maurice:

Decidedly so.


Roger:

I was, but am changed since one-half hour ago.


Mabel:

The change is too sudden to be of much worth;
The deepest convictions are slowest of birth.
Conversion, I hold, to be earnest and lasting,
Begins with repentance and praying and fasting,
And (begging your pardon for such a bold speech),
You seem, sir, a stranger to all and to each
Of these ways of salvation.


Roger:

Since yesterday, miss,
When, unseen, I first saw you (believe me in this),
I have deeply repented my sins of the past.
To-night I will pray, and to-morrow will fast-
Or, make it next week, when my shore appetite
May be somewhat subdued in its ravenous might.


Maurice:

That's the way of the orthodox sinner! He waits
Until time or indulgence or misery sates
All his appetites, then his repentance begins,
When his sins cease to please, then he gives up his sins
And grows pious. Now prove you are morally brave
By actually giving up something you crave!
We have fricasseed chicken and strawberry cake
For our dinner to-day.


Roger:

For dear principle's sake
I could easily do what you ask, were it not
Most unkind to Miss Ruth, who gave labor and thought
To that menu, preparing it quite to my taste.


Ruth:

But the thought and the dinner will both go to waste,
If we linger here longer; and Mabel, I see,
Is impatient to go to her duties.


Roger:

The bee
Is reluctant to turn from the lily although
The lily may obviously wish he would go
And leave her to muse in the sunlight alone.
Yet when the rose calls him, his sorrow, I own,
Has its recompense. So from delight to delight
I fly with my wings honeyladen.
Good night.


3
III.
prologue
Oh, love is like the dawnlight
That turns the dark to day,
And love is like the deep night
With secrets hid away.


And love is like the moonlight
Where tropic Summers glow,
And love is like the twilight
When dreams begin to grow.


Oh, love is like the sunlight
That sets the world ablaze.
And love is like the moonlight
With soft, illusive rays.


And love is like the starlight
That glimmers o'er the skies.
And love is like the far light
That shines from God's great eyes.


Maurice Somerville from his turreted den
Looked out of the window and laid down his pen.
A soft salty wind from the water was blowing,
Below in the garden sat Ruth with her sewing.
And stretched on the grass at her feet Roger lay
With a book in his hand.
Through the ripe August day,
Piped the Katydids' voices, Jack Frost's tally-ho
Commanding Queen Summer to pack up and go.
Maurice leaned his head on the casement and sighed,
Strong and full in his heart surged love's turbulent tide.
And thoughts of the woman he worshiped with longing
Took shape and like angels about him came thronging.
The world was all Mabel! her exquisite face
Seemed etched on the sunlight and gave it its grace;
Her eyes made the blue of the heavens, the sun
Was her wonderful hair caught and coiled into one
Shining mass. With a reverent, worshipful awe,
It was Mabel, fair Mabel, dear Mabel he saw,
When he looked up to God.
They had been much together
Through all the bright stretches of midsummer weather,
Ruth, Roger, and Mabel and he. Scarce a day
But the four were united in work or in play.
And much of the play to a man or a maid
Not in love had seemed labor. Recital, charade,
Garden party, church festival, musical, hop,
Were all planned by Miss Lee without respite or stop.
The poor were the richer; school, hospital, church,
The heathen, the laborer left in the lurch
By misfortune, the orphan, the indigent old,
Our kind Lady Bountiful aided with gold
Which she filched from the pockets of pleasure-God's spoil,
And God's blessing will follow such lives when they toil
Through an infinite sympathy.
Fair Mabel Lee
Loved to rule and to lead. She was eager to be
In the eyes of the public. That modern day craze
Possessed her in secret, and this was its phase.
An innocent, even commendable, fad
Which filled empty larders and cheered up the sad.
She loved to do good. But, alas! in her heart,
She loved better still the authoritative part
Which she played in her town.
'Neath the saint's aureole
Lurked the feminine tyrant who longed to control,
And who never would serve; but her sway was so sweet,
That her world was contented to bow at her feet.


Who toils in the great public vineyard must needs
Let other hands keep his own garden from weeds.
So busy was Mabel with charity fairs
She gave little thought to her home or its cares.
Mrs. Lee, like the typical modern day mother,
Was maid to her daughter; the father and brother
Were slaves at her bidding; an excellent plan
To make a tyrannical wife for some man.
Yet where was the man who, beholding the grace
Of that slight girlish creature, and watching her face
With its infantile beauty and sweetness, would dare
Think aught but the rarest of virtues dwelt there?
Rare virtues she had, but in commonplace ones
Which make happy husbands and home loving sons
She was utterly lacking. Ruth Somerville saw
In sorrow and silence this blemishing flaw
In the friend whom she loved with devotion! Maurice
Saw only the angel with eyes full of peace.
The faults of plain women are easily seen.
But who cares to peer back of beauty's fair screen
For things which are ugly to look on?
The lover
Is not quite in love when his sharp eyes discover
The flaws in his jewel.


Maurice from his room
Looked dreamily down on the garden of bloom,
Where Ruth sat with Roger; he smiled as he thought
How quickly the world sated cynic was brought
Into harness by Cupid. The man mad with drink,
And the man mad with love, is quite certain to think
All other men drunkards or lovers. In truth
Maurice had expected his friend to love Ruth.
'She was young, she was fair; with her bright sunny art
She could scatter the mists from his world befogged heart.
She could give him the one heaven under God's dome,
A peaceful, well ordered, and love-guarded home.
And he? why of course he would worship her! When
Cupid finds the soft spot in the hearts of such men
They are ideal husbands.' Maurice Somerville
Felt the whole world was shaping itself to his will.
And his heart stirred with joy as, by thought necromancy,
He made the near future unfold to his fancy,
And saw Ruth the bride of his friend, and the place
She left vacant supplied with the beauty and grace
Of this woman he longed for, the love of his life,
Fair Mabel, his angel, his sweet spirit wife.
Maurice to his desk turned again and once more
Began to unburden his bosom and pour
His heart out on paper-the poet's relief,
When drunk with life's rapture or sick with its grief.


Song.
When shall I tell my lady that I love her?
Will it be while the sunshine woos the world,
Or when the mystic twilight bends above her,
Or when the day's bright banners all are furled?
Will wild winds shriek, or will the calm stars glow,
When I shall tell her that I love her so,
I love her so?


I think the sun should shine in all his glory;
Again, the twilight seems the fitting time.
Yet sweet dark night would understand the story,
So old, so new, so tender, so sublime.
Wild storms should rage to chord with my desire,
Yet faithful stars should shine and never tire,
And never tire.


Ah, if my lady will consent to listen,
All hours, will times, shall hear my story told.
In amorous dawns, on nights when pale stars glisten
In dim hushed gloamings and in noon hours bold,
While thunders crash, and while the winds breathe low,
Will I re-tell her that I love her so.
I love her so.


4
IV.
The October day had been luscious and fair
Like a woman of thirty. A chill in the air
As the sun faced the west spoke of frost lurking near
All day the Sound lay without motion, and clear
As a mirror, and blue as a blond baby's eyes.
A change in the tide brought a change to the skies.
The bay stirred and murmured and parted its lips
And breathed a long sigh for the lost lovely ships,
That had gone with the Summer.
Its calm placid breast
Was stirred into passionate pain and unrest.
Not a sail, not a sail anywhere to be seen!
The soft azure eyes of the sea turned to green.
A sudden wind rose; like a runaway horse
Unchecked and unguided it sped on its course.
The waves bared their teeth, and spat spray in the face
Of the furious gale as they fled in the chase.
The sun hurried into a cloud; and the trees
Bowed low and yet lower, as if to appease
The wrath of the storm king that threatened them Close
To the waves at their wildest stood Roger Montrose.
The day had oppressed him; and now the unrest
Of the wind beaten sea brought relief to his breast,
Or at least brought the sense of companionship. Lashed
By his higher emotions, the man's passions dashed
On the shore of his mind in a frenzy of pain,
Like the waves on the rocks, and a frenzy as vain.


Since the day he first looked on her face, Mabel Lee
Had seemed to his self sated nature to be,
On life's troubled ocean, a beacon of light,
To guide him safe out from the rocks and the night.
Her calm soothed his passion; her peace gave him poise;
She seemed like a silence in life's vulgar noise.
He bathed in the light which her purity cast,
And felt half absolved from the sins of the past.
He longed in her mantle of goodness to hide
And forget the whole world. By the incoming tide
He talked with his heart as one talks with a friend
Who is dying. 'The summer has come to an end
And I wake from my dreaming,' he mused. 'Wake to know
That my place is not here-I must go I must go.
Who dares laugh at Love shall hear Love laughing last,
As forth from his bowstring barbed arrows are cast.
I scoffed at the god with a sneer on my lip,
And he forces me now from his chalice to sip
A bitter sweet potion. Ah, lightly the part
Of a lover I've played many times, but my heart
Has been proud in its record of friendship. And now
The mad, eager lover born in me must bow
To the strong claims of friendship. I love Mabel Lee;
Dared I woo as I would, I could make her love me.
The soul of a maid who knows not passion's fire
Is moth to the flame of a man's strong desire.
With one kiss on her lips I could banish the nun
And wake in her virginal bosom the one
Mighty love of her life. If I leave her, I know
She will be my friend's wife in a season or so.
He loves her, he always has loved her; 'tis he
Who ever will do all the loving; and she
Will accept it, and still be the saint to the end,
And she never will know what she missed; but my friend
Has the right to speak first. God! how can he delay?
I marvel at men who are fashioned that way.
He has worshiped her since first she put up her tresses,
And let down the hem of her school-girlish dresses
And now she is full twenty-two; were I he
A brood of her children should climb on my knee
By this time! What a sin against love to postpone
The day that might make her forever his own.
The man who can wait has no blood in his veins.
Maurice is a dreamer, he loves with his brains
Not with soul and with senses. And yet his whole life
Will be blank if he makes not this woman his wife.
She is woof of his dreams, she is warp of his mind;
Who tears her away shall leave nothing behind.
No, no, I am going: farewell to Bay Bend
I am no woman's lover-I am one man's friend.
Still-born in the arms of the matron eyed year
Lies the beautiful dream that my life buries here.
Its tomb was its cradle; it came but to taunt me,
It died, but its phantom shall ever more haunt me.'


He turned from the waves that leaped at him in wrath
To find Mabel Lee, like a wraith, in his path.
The rose from her cheek had departed in fear;
The tip of her eyelash was gemmed with a tear.
The rude winds had disarranged mantle and dress,
And she clung with both hands to her hat in distress.
'I am frightened,' she cried, in a tremulous tone;
'I dare not proceed any farther alone.
As I came by the church yard the wind felled a tree,
And invisible hands seemed to hurl it at me;
I hurried on, shrieking; the wind, in disgust,
Tore the hat from my head, filled my eyes full of dust,
And otherwise made me the butt of its sport.
Just then I spied you, like a light in the port,
And I steered for you. Please do not laugh at my fright!
I am really quite bold in the calm and the light,
But when a storm gathers, or darkness prevails,
My courage deserts me, my bravery fails,
And I want to hide somewhere and cover my ears,
And give myself up to weak womanish tears.'


Her ripple of talk allowed Roger Montrose
A few needed moments to calm and compose
His excited emotions; to curb and control
The turbulent feelings that surged through his soul
At the sudden encounter.
'I quite understand,'
He said in a voice that was under command
Of his will, 'All your fears in a storm of this kind.
There is something uncanny and weird in the wind;
Intangible, viewless, it speeds on its course,
And forests and oceans must yield to its force.
What art has constructed with patience and toil,
The wind in one second of time can despoil.
It carries destruction and death and despair,
Yet no man can follow it into its lair
And bind it or stay it-this thing without form.
Ah! there comes the rain! we are caught in the storm.
Put my coat on your shoulders and come with me where
Yon rock makes a shelter-I often sit there
To watch the great conflicts 'twixt tempest and sea.
Let me lie at your feet! 'Tis the last time, Miss Lee,
I shall see you, perchance, in this life, who can say?
I leave on the morrow at break o' the day.'


Mabel:

Indeed? Why, how sudden! and may I inquire
The reason you leave us without one desire
To return? for your words seem a final adieu.


Roger:

I never expect to return, that is true,
Yet my wish is to stay.


Mabel:

Are you not your own master?


Roger:

Alas, yes! and therein lies the cause of disaster.
Myself bids me go, my calm, reasoning part,
The will is the man, not the poor, foolish heart,
Which is ever at war with the intellect. So
I silence its clamoring voices and go.
Were I less my own master, I then might remain.


Mabel:

Your words are but riddles, I beg you explain.


Roger:

No, no, rather bid me keep silent! To say
Why I go were as weak on my part as to stay.


Mabel:

I think you most cruel! You know, sir, my sex
Loves dearly a secret. Then why should you vex
And torment me in this way by hinting at one?


Roger:

Let us talk of the weather, I think the storm done.


Mabel:

Very well! I will go! No, you need not come too,
And I will not shake hands, I am angry with you.


Roger:

And you will not shake hands when we part for all time?


Mabel:

Then read me your riddle!


Roger:

No, that were a crime
Against honor and friendship; girl, girl, have a care-
You are goading my poor, tortured heart to despair.


His last words were lost in the loud thunder's crash;
The sea seemed ablaze with a sulphurous flash.
From the rocks just above them an evergreen tree
Was torn up by the roots and flung into the sea.
The waves with rude arms hurled it back on the shore;
The wind gained in fury. The glare and the roar
Of the lightning and tempest paled Mabel Lee's cheek.
Her pupils dilated; she sprang with a shriek
Of a terrified child lost to all save alarm,
And clasped Roger Montrose with both hands by the arm,
While her cheek pressed his shoulder. An agony, sweet
And unbearable, thrilled from his head to his feet,
His veins were like rivers, with billows of fire:
His will lost control; and long fettered desire
Slipped its leash. He caught Mabel Lee to his breast,
Drew her face up to his, on her frightened lips pressed
Wild caresses of passion that startled and shocked.
Like a madman he looked, like a madman he talked,
Waiting not for reply, with no pause but a kiss,
While his iron arms welded her bosom to his.
'Girl, girl, you demanded my secret,' he cried;
'Well, that bruise on your lips tells the story! I tried,
Good God, how I tried! to be silent and go
Without speaking one word, without letting you know
That I loved you; yet how could you look in my eyes
And not see love was there like the sun in the skies?
Ah, those hands on my arm-that dear head lightly pressed
On my shoulder! God, woman, the heart in my breast
Was dry powder, your touch was the spark; and the blame
Must be yours if both lives are scorched black with the flame.
Do you hate me, despise me, for being so weak?
No, no! let me kiss you again ere you speak!
You are mine for the moment; and mine-mine alone
Is the first taste of passion your soft mouth has known.
Whoever forestalls me in winning your hand,
Between you and him shall this mad moment stand-
You shall think of me, though you think only to hate.
There-speak to me-speak to me-tell me my fate;
On your words, Mabel Lee, hangs my whole future life.
I covet you, covet you, sweet, for my wife;
I want to stay here at your side. Since I first
Saw your face I have felt an unquenchable thirst
To be good-to look deep in your eyes and find God,
And to leave in the past the dark paths I have trod
In my search after pleasure. Ah, must I go back
Into folly again, to retread the old track
Which leads out into nothingness? Girl, answer me,
As souls answer at Judgment.'
The face of the sea
Shone with sudden pink splendor. The riotous wind
Swooned away with exhaustion. Each dark cloud seemed lined
With vermilion. The tempest was over. A word
Floated up like a feather; the silence was stirred
By the soul of a sigh. The last remnant of gray
In the skies turned to gold, as a voice whispered, 'Stay.'


5
V.
prologue
God grinds His poor people to powder
All day and all night I can hear,
Their cries growing louder and louder.
Oh, God, have You deadened Your ear?


The chimes in old Trinity steeple
Ring in the sweet season of prayer,
And still God is grinding His people,
He is grinding them down to despair.


Mind, body and muscle and marrow,
He grinds them again and again.
Can He who takes heed of the sparrow
Be blind to the tortures of men?


In a bare little room of a tenement row
Of the city, Maurice sat alone. It was so
(In this nearness to life's darkest phases of grief
And despair) that his own bitter woe found relief.
Joy needs no companion; but sorrow and pain
Long to comrade with sorrow. The flowery chain
Flung by Pleasure about her gay votaries breaks
With the least strain upon it. The chain sorrow makes
Links heart unto heart. As a bullock will fly
To far fields when an arrow has pierced him, to die,
So Maurice had flown over far oceans to find
No balm for his wounds, and no peace for his mind.
Cosmopolitan, always, is sorrow; at home
In all countries and lands, thriving well while we roam
In vain efforts to slay it. Toil only, brings peace
To the tempest tossed heart. What in travel Maurice
Failed to find-self-forgetfulness-came with his work
For the suffering poor in the slums of New York.
He had wandered in strange heathen countries-had been
Among barbarous hordes; but the greed and the sin
Of his own native land seemed the shame of the hour.
In his gold there was balm, in his pen there was power
To comfort the needy, to aid and defend
The unfortunate. Close in their midst, as a friend
And companion, for more than twelve months he had dwelt.
Like a ray of pure light in a cellar was felt
This strong, wholesome presence. His little room bare
Of all luxuries, taught the poor souls who flocked there
For his counsel and aid, how by mere cleanliness
The grim features of want lose some lines of distress.
The slips from the plants on his window ledge, given
To beauty starved souls, spoke more clearly of heaven
And God than did sermons or dry creedy tracts.
Maurice was no preacher; and yet his kind acts
Of mercy and self-immolation sufficed
To wake in dark minds a bright image of Christ-
The Christ often heard of, but doubted before.
Maurice spoke no word of religion. Of yore
His heart had accepted the creeds of his youth
Without pausing to cavil, or question their truth.
Faith seemed his inheritance. But, with the blow
Which slew love and killed friendship, faith, too, seemed to go.


It is easy to be optimistic in pleasure,
But when Pain stands us up by her portal to measure
The actual height of our trust and belief,
Ah! then is the time when our faith comes to grief.
The woes of our fellows, God sends them, 'tis plain;
But the devil himself is the cause of our pain.
We question the wisdom that rules o'er the world,
And our minds into chaos and darkness are hurled.


The average scoffer at faith goes about
Pouring into the ears of his fellows each doubt
Which assails him. One truth he fails wholly to heed;
That a doubt oft repeated may bore like a creed.
Maurice kept his thoughts to himself, but his pen
Was dipped in the gall of his heart now and then,
And his muse was the mouthpiece. The sin unforgiven
I hold by the Cherubim chanting in heaven
Is the sin of the poet who dares sing a strain
Which adds to the world's awful chorus of pain
And repinings. The souls whom the gods bless at birth
With the great gift of song, have been sent to the earth
To better and brighten it. Woe to the heart
Which lets its own sorrow embitter its art.
Unto him shall more sorrow be given; and life
After life filled with sorrow, till, spent with the strife,
He shall cease from rebellion, and bow to the rod
In submission, and own and acknowledge his God.


Maurice, with his unwilling muse in the gloom
Of a mood pessimistic, was shut in his room.
A whistle, a step on the stairway, a knock,
Then over the transom there fluttered a flock
Of white letters. The Muse, with a sigh of content,
Left the poet to read them, and hurriedly went
Back to pleasanter regions. Maurice glanced them through:
There were brief business epistles from two
Daily papers, soliciting work from his pen;
A woman begged money for Christ's sake; three men
Asked employment; a mother wrote only to say
How she blessed him and prayed God to bless him each day
For his kindness to her and to hers; and the last
Was a letter from Ruth. The pale ghost of the past
Rose out of its poor shallow grave, with the scent
And the mold of the clay clinging to it, and leant
O'er Maurice as he read, while its breath fanned his cheek.


'Forgive me,' wrote Ruth; 'for at last I must speak
Of the two whom you wish to forget. Well I know
How you suffered, still suffer, from fate's sudden blow,
Though I am a woman, and women must stay
And fight out pain's battles where men run away.
But my strength has its limit, my courage its end,
The time has now come when I, too, leave Bay Bend.
Maurice, let the bitterness housed in your heart
For the man you long loved as a comrade, depart,
And let pity replace it. Oh, weep for his sorrow-
From your fountain of grief, held in check, let me borrow;
I have so overdrawn on the bank of my tears
That my anguish is now refused payment. For years
You loved Mabel Lee. Well, to some hearts love speaks
His whole tale of passion in brief little weeks.
As Minerva, full grown, from the great brow of Jove
Sprang to life, so full blown from our breasts may spring Love.
Love hid like a bee in my heart's lily cup;
I knew not he was there till his sting woke me up.
Maurice, oh, Maurice! Can you fancy the woe
Of seeing the prize which you coveted so
Misused, or abused, by another? The wife
Of the man whom I worshiped is spoiling the life
That was wax in her hands, wax to shape as she chose.
You were blind to her faults, so was Roger Montrose.
Both saw but the saint; well, let saints keep their places,
And not crowd the women in life's hurried races.
As saint, Mabel Lee might succeed; but, oh brother,
She never was meant for a wife or a mother.
Her beautiful home has the desolate air
Of a house that is ruled by its servants. The care-
The thought of the woman (that sweet, subtle power
Pervading some rooms like the scent of a flower),
Which turns house into home-that is lacking. She goes
On her merciful rounds, does our Lady Montrose,
Looking after the souls of the heathen, and leaving
The poor hungry soul of her lord to its grieving.
He craves her companionship; wants her to be
At his side, more his own, than the public's. But she
Holds such love is but selfish; and thinks he should make
Some sacrifice gladly for charity's sake.
Her schools, and her clubs, and her fairs fill her time;
He wants her to travel; no, that were a crime
To go seeking for pleasure, and leave duty here.
God had given her work and her labor lay near.
A month of the theater season in town?
No, the stage is an evil that needs putting down
By good people. So, scheme as he will, the poor man
Has to finally yield every project and plan
To this sweet stubborn saint; for the husband, you see,
Stands last in her thoughts. He has come, after three
Patient years, to that knowledge; his wishes, his needs
Must always give way to her whims, or her creeds.
She knows not the primer of loving; her soul
Is engrossed with the poor petty wish to control,
And she chafes at restriction. Love loves to be bound,
And its sweetest of freedom in bondage is found.
She pulls at her fetters. One worshiping heart
And its faithful devotion play but a small part
In her life. She would rather be lauded and praised
By a crowd of inferior followers, raised
To the pitiful height of their leader, than be
One man's goddess. There, now, is the true Mabel Lee!
Grieve not that you lost her, but grieve for the one
Who with me stood last night by the corpse of his son,
And with me stood alone. Ah! how wisely and well
Could Mabel descant on Maternity! tell
Other women the way to train children to be
An honor and pride to their parents! Yet she,
From the first, left her child to the nurses. She found
'Twas a tax on her nerves to have baby around
When it worried and cried. The nurse knew what to do,
And a block down the street lived Mama! 'twixt the two
Little Roger would surely be cared for. She must
Keep her strength and be worthy the love and the trust
Of the poor, who were yearly increasing, and not
Bestow on her own all the care and the thought-
That were selfishness, surely.
Well, the babe grew apace,
But yesterday morning a flush on its face
And a look in its eye worried Roger. The mother
Was due at some sort of convention or other
In Boston-I think 'twas a grand federation
Of clubs formed by women to rescue the Nation
From man's awful clutches; and Mabel was made
The head delegate of the Bay Bend Brigade.
Once drop in a small, selfish nature the seed
Of ambition for place, and it grows like a weed.
The fair village angel we called Mabel Lee,
As Mrs. Montrose, has developed, you see,
To a full fledged Reformer. It quite turned her head
To be sent to the city of beans and brown bread
As a delegate! (Delegate! magical word!
The heart of the queer modern woman is stirred
Far more by its sound than by aught she may hear
In the phrases poor Cupid pours into her ear.)
Mabel chirped to the baby a dozen good-byes,
And laughed at the trouble in Roger's grave eyes,
As she leaned o'er the lace ruffled crib of her son
And talked baby-talk: 'Now be good, 'ittle one,
While Mama is away, and don't draw a long breath,
Unless 'oo would worry Papa half to death.
And don't cough, and, of all things, don't sneeze, 'ittle dear,
Or Papa will be thrown into spasms of fear.
Now, good-bye, once again, 'ittle man; mother knows
There is no other baby like Roger Montrose
In the whole world to-day.'
So she left him. That night
The nurse sent a messenger speeding in fright
For the Doctor; a second for Grandmama Lee
And Roger despatched still another for me.
All in vain! through the gray chilly paths of the dawn
The soul of the beautiful baby passed on
Into Mother-filled lands.
Ah! my God, the despair
Of seeing that agonized sufferer there;
To stand by his side, yet denied the relief
Of sharing, as wife, and as mother, his grief.
Enough! I have borne all I can bear. The role
Of friend to a lover pulls hard on the soul
Of a sensitive woman. The three words in life
Which have meaning to me are home, mother and wife-
Or, rather, wife, mother and home. Once I thought
Men cared for the women who found home the spot
Next to heaven for happiness; women who knew
No ambition beyond being loyal and true,
And who loved all the tasks of the housewife. I learn,
Instead, that from women of that kind men turn,
With a yawn, unto those who are useless; who live
For the poor hollow world and for what it can give,
And who make home the spot where, when other joys cease,
One sleeps late when one wishes.
You left me Maurice
Left the home I have kept since our dear Mother died,
With such sisterly love and such housewifely pride,
And you wandered afar, and for what cause, forsooth?
Oh! because a vain, self-loving woman, in truth,
Had been faithless. The man whom I worshiped, ignored
The love and the comfort my woman's heart stored
In its depths for his taking, and sought Mabel Lee.
Well, I'm done with the role of the housewife. I see
There is nothing in being domestic. The part
Is unpicturesque, and at war with all art.
The senile old Century leers with dim eyes
At our sex and demands that we shock or surprise
His thin blood into motion. The home's not the place
To bring a pleased smile to his wicked old face.
To the mandate I bow; since all strive for that end,
I must join the great throng! I am leaving Bay Bend
This day week. I will see you in town as I pass
To the college at C--, where I enter the class
Of medical students-I fancy you will
Like to see my name thus-Dr. Ruth Somerville.'


Maurice dropped the long, closely written epistle,
Stared hard at the wall, and gave vent to a whistle.
A Doctor! his sweet, little home-loving sister.
A Doctor! one might as well prefix a Mister
To Ruth Somerville, that most feminine name.
And then in the wake of astonishment came
Keen pity for all she had suffered. 'Poor Ruth,
She writes like an agonized woman, in truth,
And like one torn with jealousy. Ah, I can see,'
He mused, 'how the pure soul of sweet Mabel Lee
Revolts at the bondage and shrinks from the ban
That lies in the love of that sensual man.
He is of the earth, earthy. He loves but her beauty,
He cares not for conscience, or honor or duty.
Like a moth she was dazzled and lured by the flame
Of a light she thought love, till she learned its true name;
When she found it mere passion, it lost all its charms.
No wonder she flies from his fettering arms!
God pity you, Mabel! poor ill mated wife;
But my love, like a planet, shall watch o'er your life,
Though all other light from your skies disappear,
Like a sun in the darkness my love shall appear.
Unselfish and silent, it asks no return,
But while the great firmament lasts it shall burn.'


Muse, muse, awake, and sing thy loneliest strain,
Song, song, be sad with sorrow's deepest pain,
Heart, heart, bow down and never bound again,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


Night, night, draw close thy filmy mourning veil,
Moon, moon, conceal thy beauty sweet and pale,
Wind, wind, sigh out thy most pathetic wail,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.
Time, time, speed by, thou art too slow, too slow,
Grief, grief, pass on, and take thy cup of woe,
Life, life, be kind, ah! do not wound her so,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


Sleep, sleep, dare not to touch mine aching eyes,
Love, love, watch on, though fate thy wish denies,
Heart, heart, sigh on, since she, my Lady, sighs,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


6
VI.
prologue
The flower breathes low to the bee,
'Behold, I am ripe with bloom.
Let Love have his way with me,
Ere I fall unwed in my tomb.'


The rooted plant sighs in distress
To the winds by the garden walk
'Oh, waft me my lover's caress,
Or I shrivel and die on my stalk.'


The whippoorwill utters her love
In a passionate 'Come, oh come,'
To the male in the depths of the grove,
But the heart of a woman is dumb.


The lioness seeks her mate,
The she-tiger calls her own-
Who made it a woman's fate
To sit in the silence alone?


Wooed, wedded and widowed ere twenty. The life
Of Zoe Travers is told in that sentence. A wife
For one year, loved and loving; so full of life's joy
That death, growing jealous, resolved to destroy
The Eden she dwelt in. Five desolate years
She walked robed in weeds, and bathed ever in tears,
Through the valley of memory. Locked in love's tomb
Lay youth in its glory and hope in its bloom.
At times she was filled with religious devotion,
Again crushed to earth with rebellious emotion
And unresigned sorrow.
Ah, wild was her grief!
And the years seemed to bring her no balm of relief.
When a heart from its sorrow time cannot estrange,
God sends it another to alter and change
The current of feeling. Zoe's mother, her one
Tie to earth, became ill. When the doctors had done
All the harm which they dared do with powder and pill,
They ordered a trial of Dame Nature's skill.
Dear Nature! what grief in her bosom must stir
When she sees us turn everywhere save unto her
For the health she holds always in keeping; and sees
Us at last, when too late, creeping back to her knees,
Begging that she at first could have given!
'Twas so
Mother Nature's heart grieved o'er the mother of Zoe,
Who came but to die on her bosom. She died
Where the mocking bird poured out its passionate tide
Of lush music; and all through the dark days of pain
That succeeded, and over and through the refrain
Of her sorrow, Zoe heard that wild song evermore.
It seemed like a blow which pushed open a door
In her heart. Something strange, sweet and terrible stirred
In her nature, aroused by the song of that bird.
It rang like a voice from the future; a call
That came not from the past; yet the past held her all.
To the past she had plighted her vows; in the past
Lay her one dream of happiness, first, only, last.
Alone in the world now, she felt the unrest
Of an unanchored boat on the wild billow's breast.
Two homes had been shattered; the West held but tombs.
She drifted again where the magnolia blooms
And the mocking bird sings. Oh! that song, that wild strain,
Whose echoes still haunted her heart and her brain!
How she listened to hear it repeated! It came
Through the dawn to her heart, and the sound was like flame.
It chased all the shadows of night from her room,
And burst the closed bud of the day into bloom.
It leaped to the heavens, it sank to the earth
It gave life new rapture and love a new birth.
It ran through her veins like a fiery stream,
And the past and its sorrow-was only a dream.


The call of a bird in the spring for its lover
Is the voice of all Nature when winter is over.
The heart of the woman re-echoed the strain,
And its meaning, at last, to her senses was plain.


Grief's winter was over, the snows from her heart
Were melted; hope's blossoms were ready to start.
The spring had returned with its siren delights,
And her youth and emotions asserted their rights.
Then memory struggled with passion. The dead
Seemed to rise from the grave and accuse her. She fled
From her thoughts as from lepers; returned to old ways,
And strove to keep occupied, filling her days
With devotional duties. But when the night came
She heard through her slumber that song like a flame,
And her dreams were sweet torture. She sought all too soon
To chill the warm sun of her youth's ardent noon
With the shadows of premature evening. Her mind
Lacked direction a

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Patrick White

There Was Nothing Ever To Forgive You For

There was nothing ever to forgive you for
I'd say to you now if you were still alive.
Pain doesn't maintain an agent,
though as many who have lived
have been named as perpetrators;
it just occurs
like happiness just happens
like a stroke of luck, a touch of grace
in an astronomical lottery of famished chances.
Voices arise in my head to address you
in the immensities of time and sorrow
like spokesmen for my heart
and another part of me
listens from the audience to this play
that's been going on for light years without you.
I suspect I'm still trying to perfect the way I loved you
out of force of habit, knowing how
redundant and absurd that is
long after the play closed
and the plaster cherubs
on the Ionian cornices of the theatre
were buried in the rubble
along with the comic and tragic masks
that shed their petals when the lights went off
and everyone was left face to face with themselves.
You have drifted in and out of my poems for years
like a curtain at an open window
in an abandoned house,
like blue smoke from an autumn fire,
the fragrance of the bath you draw from the stars
and sweeten with the salts of lunar wildflowers
whenever you want to renew your virginity
like the kings' mistress
stepping out of the sea
like some Renaissance Venus
covering her sex up with a serpentine lock of hair.
You're the sparrow on the finger of Catullus' lover
except now you can only make it as far
as my windowsill
though I leave everything open to you
to come and go as you please and must.
No illusory skies. No broken necks.
No more finger-stroking the soft walnut of a bird's head
like a lost locket full of grief,
like a small lamp that can't grant anymore wishes
however you caress it.
Ah, the genie's out mingling with the Milky Way
like all unencompassed spirits of the night,
like dead souls in the bodies of Canada geese
heading southwest
though their echoes are veering northeast
as if their homeless ghosts
had a place and mind of their own,
an airy nothingness
without a local habitation or a name.
In my view of the world as picture-music
in an expanding universe with its foot to the floor
on a pedal of dark energy
the vision's always too big
for any frame or stage or star map
you bring to it to try and express
where things are improbably at now.
We were young together for awhile
and we sought to embrace the world
and everything in it
even if it meant kissing the dead on the forehead
to wake them up gently from their long dream
of flying in formation with Canada geese,
though it never did.
I tried it on you more than once.
I kissed every bead on a rosary of prophetic skulls.
And still to this day no one answers, no one hears.
I tried to scry the future
in the crystal balls of my tears
but all I ever saw was the same old moon,
the same old stars that crossed us off
their birthday guest list
like a calendar of total eclipses
that had already taken place.
And I knew the future was far behind us.
And your early death could only make you more beautiful
as the years wore out their threadbare flying carpets
and those rare bright nocturnal spirits of life
you were meant to meet and fall in love with
like the heart loves its bloodstream
like a waterclock loves the passage of time
when it's full to overbrimming
with water on the moon
grow rarer and further apart
like stars on the skin of our cosmic enlargements.
Just like this open window
that never lets eternity become a barrier to the dead.
I've never closed the curtains on the play.
I've never drawn a veil over
the fountains and the waterfalls
the wetlands and rapids of my mindstream
and said to the lady of the lake
in her garment of mist
this is live water
and that water's dead
as if there were a wave of difference
between the one that carries forth
and the one that carries away.
The cloud and the snow on the mountaintop
both speak the same language,
share the same mother-tongue
as does the fog in the valley
the ice, the rain, the dew,
as if what's false about the living
were true of the dead as well,
everything sublime, everything trivial.
Hydra-headed water shapeshifting
through our hands
like the desert sands of an hourglass
that dump the pyramid
and finally get out of the box.
Lunar landscapes
with transmogrifying mindstreams
that apply themselves like water
to mending gardens on the moon
while death waits like a stranger at the gate
to commend you on the green thumb
that's apparent in your choice of wildflowers.
I can still feel you bend time
like the body of a guitar
when you're around me
trying to tune the spider webs
in the corner of the room I write in
to your cosmic whole note of silence.
And just as you were a muse of mine in life
and I drew your intoxicating waters
deeply from the well
and we walked under the stars awhile
without caring where we were going
so even in death
I can feel you come to the dead branch sometimes
like inspiration to a night bird's heart
when it doesn't really matter
if anyone answers or not
because you flower like longing
in the roots of my solitude
and the moon blossoms
and my poems unfold like leaves.

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Patrick White

Stupid, Stupid World Full Of Lies

Stupid, stupid world full of lies, self-deceit, greed,
conspiratorial stinging nettles, leeching bills, vampiric,
cutting off the flow of things like tiger-mussels,
hillbilly hippies beating up their girlfriends on crack,
all these egotistic puff ball mushrooms with labial gills
mythically inflated by one night's good rain
into albino planets, people who have more keys to heaven
than they have locks on hell, abandoned school bells
that go on talking to themselves like wandering scholars
light years after the children grew old at their perennial recess
and the moths and the mice and the mildew
keep putting out books epilogues after everyone's
forgotten how to read the signs of their own decay.

Between the horns of the moon that's been thrown
like a goat skull into the wishing well of my heart,
roadie spiders string my harp for me like false eyelashes
in the green room, and the nerves of the mirrors
are shattered into the frayed deltas of the ropes of hope
endangered elephants are trying to climb up to heaven on.
The thin-skinned blissed-out gardenias of Maharajji
are wilting under the eyeshadow of their Mary K cosmetics
as their rainbows grow vicious as vegan dogs
in a spiritual junkyard of razorwire and foodchains
that have overextended their supply lines like the umbilical cords
of kites and puppets and angels on the strings of arachnids.
Too pure for me. I'd be afraid of getting myself on their floors.
Tracking starmud in from the mindstream I've been floating down
from one neuron to the next, one town to another,
like the new moon of an origami swan in a scenic calendar
of apocalyptic moments in the life of a hand grenade
people keep pulling on like the handle of an empty fridge.

Count me among the Andalusian vandals of the delinquent dragons
who keep writing obscene truths in lampblack and terza rima
on the walls where the flamethrowers post their prophecies.
I was born to burnish gold. I was born to dry the eyes
of weeping diamonds. I was born to wire the rainbow bridges
with satchel charges of fireflies and lightning for demolition
so everybody can learn to swim through stone
like glaciers to the other side of their polarized cataracts.
And whenever I look at a house of worship built on quicksand
I've got to laugh like an avalanche of meteors
at the self-serving lustrations of their pretentious extinctions
as the world blazes all around them like a halo of inflammable hairspray.
I've got holy wars of my own to go to that won't be disarmed
by the soft swords of their beeswax candles surrendering
to such a little flame of life at the tip of a limp wick
that trembles with every breath it takes like a feather in a furnace.

I see the mad dogs like arsonists with hydrophobia
frothing at the mouth for war, citing ancient conflagrations
from the burnt out scriptures of their sacred matchbooks
raving at the supernovas that ignore them like ingrown solar flares
that couldn't stand up to a drought, let alone a forest fire.
What good is inspiration if it hasn't got a detonator?
Or enlightenment if all it does is ignite a funeral pyre,
cremate a desire to live like a peer of the dynastic galaxies
you were born among with the silver spoon of a universe in your mouth
whether you use it to cook crack, take your medicine
like a human suffers an excruciating transformation,
or let the hummingbirds sip from it like syringes
flagging snakestongues of blood in celestial sugar water?

And all the warrior poets buffed like medicine bags
of talcum powder, and all the healers selling
batches of bad heroin like dealers to the high school kids
who used to steal their mother's oxycontin from the medicine chest
so they could rail the yellow brick road like roadkill.
All the vates, seers and shamans consulting
prophetic pundits and polls as the critics
repeal the fate of the artist before she's born,
cuckoos taking over the nests of better birds,
parasitic guests taking over the house of the host
as the journalists turn from objective observers
to political spiders weaving the webs they spin as the news
and the audience, breaking mutually consenting protocol
gets up on stage with Hamlet and turns a play into a talkshow
for the fifteen minutes of pop-tart celebrity left on their i-phones.

Originality that used to emanate from the roots up
like the light coming out of a dark universe
now seated like an air traffic controller in an orchard
like the wind assigning runways and instructions
on where to take off and land to a riot of blossoms
with pre-conceived flightpaths and well-known destinations.
Creative writing professors in the literary mills
grinding the grist for whole new generations
of mimetically enculturated oxen
to keep the wheels turning of a lucrative careers bank
that used to be the calling of the insanely inspired
too busy working in the visionary mines of their genius
looking for jewels of insight to waste their potential
on getting a job regurgitating words for baby pelicans,
masticating poetry into spiritual pulp fiction
or sipping them from other men's mouths as if
spit were the nectar of the muse they've never met.

The real dragons, their spines lined with sundials,
really don't care how many chapbooks you've published in a year
nor how many times per capita you've mentioned butterflies
just to ensure your fan club you're still sensitive to beauty
or where you're reading next like a matchbook
burning in the valley of Tuwa or whether your chimney-spark
expiring under the stars is an inferno of unignited creosote
caked in your throat like a callous of black matter
or the ore of the braille alphabet blocks you throw
like snake eyes in dice playing your randomness off
against the lottery of your autobiography copied and pasted
like a colony of red army ants putting your books together
like a folio of butterfly wings perfectly bound for the ant heap.

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William and Helen

I.
From heavy dreams fair Helen rose,
And eyed the dawning red:
'Alas, my love, thou tarriest long!
O art thou false or dead?'-

II.
With gallant Fred'rick's princely power
He sought the bold Crusade;
But not a word from Judah's wars
Told Helen how he sped.

III.
With Paynim and with Saracen
At length a truce was made,
And every knight return'd to dry
The tears his love had shed.

IV.
Our gallant host was homeward bound
With many a song of joy;
Green waved the laurel in each plume,
The badge of victory.

V.
And old and young, and sire and son,
To meet them crowd the way,
With shouts, and mirth, and melody,
The debt of love to pay.

VI.
Full many a maid her true-love met,
And sobb'd in his embrace,
And flutt'ring joy in tears and smiles
Array'd full many a face.

VII.
Nor joy nor smile for Helen sad
She sought the host in vain;
For none could tell her William's fate,
In faithless, or if slain.

VIII.
The martial band is past and gone;
She rends her raven hair,
And in distraction's bitter mood
She weeps with wild despair.

IX.
'O rise, my child,' her mother said,
'Nor sorrow thus in vain;
A perjured lover's fleeting heart
No tears recall again.'-

X.
'O mother, what is gone, is gone,
What's lost for ever lorn:
Death, death alone can comfort me;
O had I ne'er been born!

XI.
'O break, my heart, - O break at once!
Drink my life-blood, Despair!
No joy remains on earth for me,
For me in Heaven no share.'-

XII.
'O enter not in judgement, Lord!'
The pious mother prays;
'Impute not guilt to thy frail child!
She knows not what she says.

XIII.
'O say thy pater noster, child,
O turn to God and grace!
His will, that turn'd thy bliss to bale,
Can change thy bale to bliss.'-

XIV.
'O mother, mother, what is bliss?
O mother, what is bale?
My William's love was heaven on earth,
Without it earth is hell.

XV.
'Why should I pray to ruthless Heaven,
Since my loved William's slain?
I only pray'd for William's sake,
And all my prayers were vain.'-

XVI.
'O take the sacrament, my child,
And check these tears that flow;
By resignation's humble prayer,
O hallow'd be thy woe!'-

XVII.
'No sacrament can quench this fire,
Or slake this scorching pain;
No sacrament can bid the dead
Arise and live again.

XVIII.
'O break, my heart, - O break at once!
Be thou my God, Despair!
Heaven's heaviest blow has fallen on me,
And vain each fruitless prayer.'-

XIX.
'O enter not in judgement, Lord,
With thy frail child of clay!
She knows not what her tongue has spoke;
Impute it not, I pray!

XX.
'Forbear, my child, this desperate woe,
And turn to God and grace;
Well can devotion's heavenly glow
Convert thy bale to bliss.'-

XXI.
'O mother, mother, what is bliss?
O mother, what is bale?
Without my William what were heaven,
Or with him what were hell?'-

XXII.
Wild she arraigns the eternal doom,
Upbraids each sacred power,
Till, spent, she sought her silent room,
All in the lonely tower.

XXIII.
She beat her breast, she wrung her hands,
Till sun and day were o'er,
And through the glimmering lattice shone
The twinkling of the star.

XXIV.
Then, crash! the heavy drawbridge fell
That o'er the moat was hung;
And, clatter! clatter! on its boards
The hoof of courser rung.

XXV.
The clank of echoing steel was heard
As off the rider bounded;
And slowly on the winding stair
A heavy footstep sounded.

XXVI.
And hark! and hark! a knock - Tap! tap!
A rustling stifled noise;-
Door-latch and tinkling staples ring;-
At length a whispering voice.

XXVII.
'Awake, awake, arise, my love!
How, Helen, dost thou fare?
Wak'st thou, or sleep'st? laugh'st thou or weep'st?
Hast thought on me, my fair?'-

XXVIII.
'My love! my love! - so late by night!-
I waked, I wept for thee:
Much have I borne since dawn of morn;
Where, William, couldst thou be?'-

XXIX.
'We saddle late - from Hungary
I rode since darkness fell;
And to its bourne we both return
Before the matin-bell.'-

XXX.
'O rest this night within my arms,
And warm thee in their fold!
Chill howls through hawthorn bush the wind:-
My love is deadly cold.'-

XXXI.
'Let the wind howl through hawthorn bush!
This night we must away;
The steed is wight, the spur is bright;
I cannot stay till day.

XXXII.
'Busk, busk, and boune! Thou mount'st behind
Upon my black barb steed:
O'er stock and stile, a hundred miles,
We haste to bridal bed.'-

XXXIII.
'To-night - to-night a hundred miles!-
O dearest William, stay!
The bell strikes twelve - dark, dismal hour!
O wait, my love, till day!'-

XXXIV.
'Look here, look here - the moon shines clear-
Full fast I ween we ride;
Mount and away! for ere the day
We reach our bridal bed.

XXXV.
'The black barb snorts, the bridle rings;
Haste, busk, and boune, and seat thee!
The feast is made, the chamber spread,
The bridal guests await thee.'-

XXXVI.
Strong love prevail'd: She busks, she bounes,
She mounts barb behind,
And round her darling William's waist
Her lily arms she twined.

XXXVII.
And, hurry! hurry! off they rode,
As fast as fast might be;
Spurn'd from the courser's thundering heels
The flashing pebbles flee.

XXXVIII.
And on the right, and on the left,
Ere they could snatch a view,
Fast, fast each mountain, mead, and plain,
And cot, and castle, flew.

XXXIX.
'Sit fast - dost fear? - The moon shines clear -
Fleet goes my barb - keep hold!
Fear'st thou?' - 'O no!' she faintly said;
'But why so stern and cold?

XL.
'What yonder rings? what yonder sings?
Why shrieks the owlet grey?'-
''Tis death-bells' clang, 'tis funeral song,
The body to the clay.

XLI.
'With song and clang, at morrow's dawn,
Ye may inter the dead:
To-night I ride with my young bride,
To deck our bridal bed.

XLII.
'Come with thy choir, thou coffin'd guest,
To swell our nuptial song!
Come, priest, to bless our marriage feast!
Come all, come all along!'-

XLIII.
Ceased clang and song; down sunk the bier;
The shrouded corpse arose:
And, hurry! hurry! all the train
The thundering steed pursues.

XLIV.
And, forward! forward! on they go;
High snorts the straining steed;
Thick pants the rider's labouring breath,
As headlong on they speed.

XLV.
'O William, why this savage haste?
And where thy bridal bed?'-
''Tis distant far, low, damp, and chill,
And narrow, trustless maid.'-

XLVI.
'No room for me?' - 'Enough for both;-
Speed, speed, my barb, thy course!'
O'er thundering bridge, through boiling surge
He drove the furious horse.

XLVII.
Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode,
Splash! splash! along the sea;
The scourge is wight, the spur is bright,
The flashing pebbles flee.

XLVIII.
Fled past on right and left how fast
Each forest, grove, and bower!
On right and left fled past how fast
Each city, town, and tower!

XLIX.
'Dost fear? dost fear? The moon shines clear,
Dost fear to ride with me?-
Hurrah! hurrah! the dead can ride!'-
'O William, let them be!-

L.
'See there, see there! What yonder swings
And creaks 'mid whistling rain?'-
'Gibbet and steel, th' accursed wheel;
A murderer in his chain.-

LI.
'Hollo! thou felon, follow here:
To bridal bed we ride;
And thou shalt prance a fetter dance
Before me and my bride.'-

LII.
And, hurry! hurry! clash, clash, clash!
The wasted form descends;
And fleet as wind through hazel bush
The wild career attends.

LIII.
Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode,
Splash! splash! along the sea;
The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
The flashing pebbles flee.

LIV.
How fled what moonshine faintly show'd!
How fled what darkness hid!
How fled the earth beneath their feet,
The heaven above their head!

LV.
'Dost fear? dost fear? The moon shines clear,
And well the dead can ride;
Does faithful Helen fear for them?'-
'O leave in peace the dead!'-

LVI.
'Barb! Barb! methinks I hear the cock;
The sand will soon be run:
Barb! Barb! I smell the morning air;
The race is wellnigh done.'

LVII.
Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode;
Splash! splash! along the sea;
The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
The flashing pebbles flee.

LVIII.
'Hurrah! hurrah! well ride the dead;
The bride, the bridge is come;
And soon we reach the bridal bed,
For, Helen, here's my home.'-

LIX.
Reluctant on its rusty hinge
Revolved an iron door,
And by the pale moon's setting beam
Were seen a church and tower.

LX.
With many a shriek and cry whiz round
The birds of midnight, scared;
And rustling like autumnal leaves
Unhallow'd ghosts were heard.

LXI.
O'er many a tomb and tombstones pale
He spurr'd the fiery horse,
Till sudden at an open grave
He check'd the wondrous course.

LXII.
The falling gauntlet quits the rein,
Down drops the casque of steel,
The cuirass leaves his shrinking side,
The spur his gory heel.

LXIII.
The eyes desert the naked skull,
The mould'ring flesh the bone,
Till Helen's lily arms entwine
A ghastly skeleton.

LXIV.
The furious barb snorts fire and foam,
And, with a fearful bound,
Dissolves at once in empty air,
And leaves her on the ground.

LXV.
Half seen by fits, by fits half heard,
Pale spectres flit along,
Wheel round the maid in dismal dance,
And howl the funeral song;

LXVI.
'E'en when the heart's with anguish cleft,
Revere the doom of Heaven,
Her soul is from her body reft;
Her spirit be forgiven!'

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Patrick White

Dangerous To Love Things That Perish

for Louise and Morgan

Dangerous to love things that perish
but cowardly not to.
You weren't just a cat.
You were Morgan.
You were
as when I first saw you as a kitten
cupped in Louise's hands
a cloud
a whiff of incense
smoke
a breath
a gust of stars
someone in love had breathed out.
And we loved you.
And now you're dead.
And there are two more people in the world
who can't stop weeping.
Because there is no now
in the suddenness of death
and it's colder in our hearts than it is outside
because your absence
like your body
doesn't have a temperature anymore.
And there's a dagger of darkness
that's thrust through everything
as if God were an assassin
in some kind of video killing game
that put black holes to shame.
Or is it just the impersonality of life
that it seems to derive a cheap thrill
from killing the things it creates
without knowing their names?
Morgan.
Got it.
Morgan the Cat.
A work of genius.
And you'd be a whole lot wiser than you are
not to forget it
because she was a goddess in her own rite.
She was the auroral shapeshifter
that was born a kitten
but grew up to be more than a human
because we always wished
we had more of her characteristics
than the ones we had as a superior species
and we worshipped her
and paid her the attentive kind of tribute
that was and is the natural due of her magical virtues.
And Morgan though it's doubtful you can hear us now
where you can breathe easy out in the open
like the cool breeze you always were
among the wildflowers that look like stars
and copulate with Orion
the only cat who ever loved you back
as much as you like
without any one throwing cold water on it
because humans have learned to live like prophylactics
we want you to know somehow in some mysterious way
our species hasn't discovered yet
how much you did to improve our innocence
by watching you live your life
as if you were born
knowing how to live
and didn't have to work at it as we do.
You were tenderness with claws.
A female buddha with the eyes of a warrior
that were the envy of the moon.
A boddhicatva who didn't answer to anyone
if you can forgive a bad pun
but showed us the way in
to the feline felicity of a paradise
that was as open as space to everyone.
You were the embodiment
of an affection and gentleness
that lingered like smoke in the air
above the cat's eye flame of a candle
that God just blew out.
And the stars mourn as we do so deeply
even the darkness is panicked
that it will be turned inside out
like an absolute certainty from an absolute doubt.
There's a blackhole in the heart of the light
that can't be eclipsed by insight
and the reality of you in your flesh and your fur
no longer sitting by us on the floor
listening in with your eyes closed
as if even when you were sleeping
your ears were always awake
is a wound so deep
a rip in the sky so irreparable
that nothing that pours out of it by way
of tears and stars
thoughts or feelings
though blood pour from our eyes
could ever be worthy of it.
Thank-you for the love
that always fell into our laps like you.
Like an unexpected reward
for just being us.
Thank-you for teaching us
how to love you unconditionally
and knowing like a quiet healer
just when to apply your presence
like a soothing herb
to the hurts and fevers that afflicted us.
Sad and alone in the dead zone of an unanswerable room
you'd rub your tiny skull
with its walnut sized brain
against my leg
and I'd realize
that it was you not me
with my three and a half pounds of neocortical starmud
for all the lightyears I've been searching
that had found the philosopher's stone
the moment you opened your eyes as a kitten
and you could work miraculous transformations
with the slightest touch of affection
or the nudge of a small wet nose.
When even God and Lucifer couldn't move me
if they were to try and change my mood
you could
as easily as Morgana la Fay moved Merlin
with her felicity for emotional alchemy.
So many times when all I thought I could do
to save the situation
was let go
you flowed like water around my legs.
Sometimes it takes a river
to remind the bridge
what it stands for
and keep its spirits up.
Sometimes the thread of life
passes through the eye of a needle
like light
in the form of a cat
and the rip in the sky
where all the stars were pouring out
is patched up
with a single act of seeing
when a cat looks at you a moment
and then closes its eyes in contentment
like the new moon in the old moon's arms.
You were Louise's child.
You followed her around like a third eye
that could see into the future
like the front door you sat beside for aeons like a sphinx
waiting for her to come home
with the blue bag of salmon-flavoured cat treats.
I never saw you as her shadow.
You were more
a mirror with a mind of your own
that could look deeply into her spirit
and see your own reflection.
You were her affable familiar.
Her talismanic charm
against the obscenity of human lovelessness.
Her emergency exit.
Her fire alarm.
You were the whiff of smoke that woke her up.
If she were the long hard art
of learning how to be mastered by love.
You were the discipline
waiting on the other side of the door
that made her trudge to the store in the snow
to be sure you got your treats.
And when she returned
you'd study everything going on in the room
as if you were looking at it all for the first time
but the more I looked at you looking at us
the more I realized
you weren't the student
you were a school
that compassionately exempted fools like us.
And now sweet one
what is it
that you want us to learn
from your perpetual absence?
As you once sweetened our lives
are you now trying
to sweeten death?
Are you trying to teach us how to see in the darkness?
To let go of our grief
as if that weren't the only thing we had left to hold on to?
The silence in the house is a lot lonelier
for the lack of your whisper
to confide in
like a secret you kept to yourself
when no one else was home.
The birds and the windows keep waiting
for you to jump up at them any moment now
but it's beginning to dawn on them you can't anymore
and it isn't just the rain
that's making the glass cry.
Who's going to stare at the plaster for hours
like Bodhidharma meditating in his cave
listening to the baby squirrels
learning to crawl through the walls
now that you're not sitting there
tense as an archer
and as attentive as a Zen master?
You had a C-spot under your neck
close to your jugular
that could make you purr
when anyone pampered it like Cleopatra.
Now who's going to know how
wherever you are
to make you stretch your claws out
like crescents of the moon
and make the green honey of your eyes
ripen into gold?
There's a darkness in the heart of grief
that burns like a black fire
all these tears can't seem to put out.
It's a measure of the love you inspired in us
that we'd rather let the pain of missing you
consume us in the flames
of remembering
some tender eccentricity of your cathood
even in the midst of trying to let life
get on with us without you
than ever let death make you a stranger to us.
You were Bast the Egyptian cat goddess among us in the flesh.
We learned to read your eyes like a Druidic Ogham
like phases of the moon as it waxed and waned.
One glance and I knew what you wanted.
You were a rose with retractable thorns
and we'd watch you for hours
wondering what you were dreaming
under your twitching eyelids.
And the tenderness that people are afraid
to expose to each other
because they haven't learned to walk through life skinless
we showed to you
without feeling that even the slightest gesture of it
was ever wasted
or unreturned
or that the spirit didn't recognize its own
whether it was embodied by a cat or a human.
Morgan
you're among the stars now
like a gust of light on the road of ghosts
like a hurricane that found rest in the eye of it own turbulence
like a cat-muse among these words
that can feel you watching them like birds
from your perch in the cosmic window
at the foot of the bed in Louise's room.
Morgan
though there's this black hole
your absence has left in the middle of everything
it's not an exit.
It's an entrance.
It's the way you taught us
how to diminish the darkness
by growing bigger eyes
to get the most light out of it
even when we think
as we do now
that there's nothing left
in this starless night
that could shine.
That the winds of time
have swept the last of the blossoms away
like phases of the moon
and even our tears
are the one-way tides
of the heart-numbing farewells
the whole of our lives seem.
Did we have the dream
or did the dream have us
or is it only the nightmares
that wake up screaming out in their sleep somewhere
where the pillows are wet
and the mothers come running
to reassure them
that what they thought they saw in the dark
was not real?
It was just another human
summoning some lost joy from the past
like the ghost of a watershed
that keeps recalling things
as if it were alone at night in a dark museum.
But an abyss isn't just an abyss.
It's also a fountain.
Everything reveals its emptiness
in the fullness of life
like the depth of the valley
is revealed by the height of the mountain.
The sweet brief life of the blossom
is the bright vacancy
rooted in the dark abundance
of the indelibility of the way we change.
To be here once
should be enough
to prove to anyone
that they've been here forever.
Life leaves signs
that anyone can follow back to themselves
like leaves on the mindstreams of their flowing.
They had to let go of the tree like maps
to know which way they're going.
It's the same with humans and cats.
Life breathes on the ashes of the starstreams
and everything starts glowing
like the eyes of a cat in the dark.
Morgan
it hurts not to see you
mesmerized by the turning water in the toilet-bowl
or sleeping in the bottom of the tub
or the end of my bed
or across the top of the easy chair
like a strategic adornment
keeping one ear open
to everything that was going on around you?
It hurts to wonder
what Louise is going to use for an alarm clock now
that you're not there
to lick her eyelids awake in the morning
and where are the candles
where are the plants
that could ever take your place in the windowsill
watching for her to come home
as if you were one of the streetlamps?
Sometimes it's hard to know
which hurts worse.
Never to have known love
or realize at times like this
how vast and excruciating the abyss is
how sad and foregone
the sad effusions of sorrow
the begrudging smiles of acceptance
that feel like the scars of an assassin
who doesn't know who to get even with
when even the least atom of something we've truly loved
like the cosmic beginning of everything
in large and small
in the petty and profound alike
in the mystical and the earthbound
in what is different and what is not
in the star and the candle and the phoenix and the firefly
in Louise and her cat
is extinguished.
Morgan yes
you've left a hole in the light
as big as the universe
and all the stars are pouring out of it
as if the light could cry
for the passing of your radiance
but Morgan
no more than the pupil of an eye
blocks the light from getting in
does the hurt of your death
qualify the dangerous rapture
of having loved you in this life
as well as we knew how to love anything.
Sweetness.
Gentleness.
We're all on the same journey
though sometimes we change bodies
like forms and shoes along the way
or walk barefoot awhile on stars
along the Road of Ghosts
talking to shoeless angels
about how mysterious it is
that every step of the way
where we come from
is where we're going
and it's not the destination
but the journey itself
that enshrines what is most sacred about life.
Not the arrival.
Not the fulfilment.
Not the completion.
Not the consummation that exhausts us wholly
and leaves us beseeching heaven
or pleading with emptiness
for a clarification of death
like the air we breathe out
leaves us longing for breath.
Our beginnings go on forever without end
and Morgan like you
if we wind up chasing our tails around
it's only because of the great delight we take
in knowing nothing's ever over
and everything is looping
like a snake with its tail in its mouth
or the horizontal eight of eternity
that keeps falling over
like a Bodhidarma doll
and righting itself like spectacles
worn by someone lying down
whose eyes go vertical
whenever they're dreaming.
It's not the farewell of the guest
but the welcome of the host
that we treasure most.
It's not the finding
but the seeking
that's the jewel of our quest.
That's why you stuck your nose into everything
and learned to see with your ears
and hear with your eyes
the wings of the stars and fireflies
that hovered just outside your window
when what was always wild about you
answered the Zen savagery of the night
like an austere summons to life.
Morgan you're gone
but there's no imperative
in why you had to go.
No harsh god.
No assassin cloaked in light.
No doors close
our senses and our hearts
to the earthly delights of loving you.
No gates open
like a cats' eyes
that will not see us return like insight
to the faces of the living creatures
we live to behold in our own features
and touch most gently

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The Sale of Saint Thomas

A quay with vessels moored


Thomas
To India! Yea, here I may take ship;
From here the courses go over the seas,
Along which the intent prows wonderfully
Nose like lean hounds, and tack their journeys out,
Making for harbours as some sleuth was laid
For them to follow on their shifting road.
Again I front my appointed ministry. --
But why the Indian lot to me? Why mine
Such fearful gospelling? For the Lord knew
What a frail soul He gave me, and a heart
Lame and unlikely for the large events. --
And this is worse than Baghdad! though that was
A fearful brink of travel. But if the lots,
That gave to me the Indian duty, were
Shuffled by the unseen skill of Heaven, surely
That fear of mine in Baghdad was the same
Marvellous Hand working again, to guard
The landward gate of India from me. There
I stood, waiting in the weak early dawn
To start my journey; the great caravan's
Strange cattle with their snoring breaths made steam
Upon the air, and (as I thought) sadly
The beasts at market-booths and awnings gay
Of shops, the city's comfortable trade,
Lookt, and then into months of plodding lookt.
And swiftly on my brain there came a wind
Of vision; and I saw the road mapt out
Along the desert with a chalk of bones;
I saw a famine and the Afghan greed
Waiting for us, spears at our throats, all we
Made women by our hunger; and I saw
Gigantic thirst grieving our mouths with dust,
Scattering up against our breathing salt
Of blown dried dung, till the taste eat like fires
Of a wild vinegar into our sheathèd marrows;
And a sudden decay thicken'd all our bloods
As rotten leaves in fall will baulk a stream;
Then my kill'd life the muncht food of jackals. --
The wind of vision died in my brain; and lo,
The jangling of the caravan's long gait
Was small as the luting of a breeze in grass
Upon my ears. Into the waiting thirst
Camels and merchants all were gone, while I
Had been in my amazement. Was this not
A sign? God with a vision tript me, lest
Those tall fiends that ken for my approach
In middle Asia, Thirst and his grisly band
Of plagues, should with their brigand fingers stop
His message in my mouth. Therefore I said,
If India is the place where I must preach,
I am to go by ship, not overland.
And here my ship is berthed. But worse, far worse
Than Baghdad, is this roadstead, the brown sails,
All the enginery of going on sea,
The tackle and the rigging, tholes and sweeps,
The prows built to put by the waves, the masts
Stayed for a hurricane; and lo, that line
Of gilded water there! the sun has drawn
In a long narrow band of shining oil
His light over the sea; how evilly move
Ripples along that golden skin! -- the gleam
Works like a muscular thing! like the half-gorged
Sleepy swallowing of a serpent's neck.
The sea lives, surely! My eyes swear to it;
And, like a murderous smile that glimpses through
A villain's courtesy, that twitching dazzle
Parts the kind mood of weather to bewray
The feasted waters of the sea, stretched out
In lazy gluttony, expecting prey.
How fearful is this trade of sailing! Worse
Than all land-evils is the water-way
Before me now. -- What, cowardice? Nay, why
Trouble myself with ugly words? 'Tis prudence,
And prudence is an admirable thing.
Yet here's much cost -- these packages piled up,
Ivory doubless, emeralds, gums, and silks,
All these they trust on shipboard? Ah, but I,
I who have seen God, I to put myself
Amid the heathen outrage of the sea
In a deal-wood box! It were plain folly.
There is naught more precious in the world than I:
I carry God in me, to give to men.
And when has the sea been friendly unto man?
Let it but guess my errand, it will call
The dangers of the air to wreak upon me,
Winds to juggle the puny boat and pinch
The water into unbelievable creases.
And shall my soul, and God in my soul, drown?
Or venture drowning? -- But no, no; I am safe.
Smooth as believing souls over their deaths
And over agonies shall slide henceforth
To God, so shall my way be blest amid
The quiet crouching terrors of the sea,
Like panthers when a fire weakens their hearts;
Ay, this huge sin of nature, the salt sea,
Shall be afraid of me, and of the mind
Within me, that with gesture, speech and eyes
Of the Messiah flames. What element
Dare snarl against my going, what incubus dare
Remember to be fiendish, when I light
My whole being with memory of Him?
The malice of the sea will slink from me,
And the air be harmless as a muzzled wolf;
For I am a torch, and the flame of me is God.

A Ship's Captain
You are my man, my passenger?

Thomas I am.
I go to India with you.

Captain Well, I hope so.
There's threatening in the weather. Have you a mind
To hug your belly to the slanted deck,
Like a louse on a whip-top, when the boat
Spins on an axlie in the hissing gales?

Thomas
Fear not. 'Tis likely indeed that storms are now
Plotting against our voyage; ay, no doubt
The very bottom of the sea prepares
To stand up mountainous or reach a limb
Out of his night of water and huge shingles,
That he and the waves may break our keel. Fear not;
Like those who manage horses, I've a word
Will fasten up within their evil natures
The meanings of the winds and waves and reefs.

Captain
You have a talisman? I have one too;
I know not if the storms think much of it.
I may be shark's meat yet. And would your spell
Be daunting to a cuttle, think you now?
We had a bout with one on our way here;
It had green lidless eyes like lanterns, arms
As many as the branches of a tree,
But limber, and each one of them wise as a snake.
It laid hold of our bulwarks, and with three
Long knowing arms, slimy, and of a flesh
So tough they'ld fool a hatchet, searcht the ship,
And stole out of the midst of us all a man;
Yes, and he the proudest man upon the seas
For the rare powerful talisman he'd got.
And would yours have done better?

Thomas I am one
Not easily frightened. I'm for India.
You will not putme from my way with talk.

Captain
My heart, I never thought of frightening you. --
Well, here's both tide and wind, and we may not start.

Thomas
Not start? I pray you, do.

Captain It's no use praying;
I dare not. I've not half my cargo yet.

Thomas
What do you wait for, then?

Captain A carpenter.

Thomas
You are talking strangely.

Captain But not idly.
I might as well broach all my blood at once,
Here as I stand, as sail to India back
Without a carpenter on board; -- O strangely
Wise are our kings in the killing of men!

Thomas
But does your king then need a carpenter?
Captain
Yes, for he dreamed a dream; and(like a man
Who, having eaten poison, and with all
Force of his life turned out the crazing drug,
Has only a weak and wrestled nature left
That gives in foolishly to some bad desire
A healthy man would laught at; so our king
Is left desiring by his venomous dream.
But, being a king, the whole land aches with him.
Thomas
What dream was that?

Captain A palace made of souls; --
Ay, there's a folly for a man to dream!
He saw a palace covering all the land,
Big as the day itself, made of a stone
That answered with a better gleam than glass
To the sun's greeting, fashioned like the sound
Of laughter copied into shining shape:
So the king said. And with him in the dream
There was a voice that fleered upon the king:
'This is the man who makes much of himself
For filling the common eyes with palaces
Gorgeously bragging out his royalty:
Whereas he hath not one that seemeth not
In work, in height, in posture on the ground,
A hut, a peasant's dingy shed, to mine.
And all his excellent woods, metals, and stones,
The things he's filched out of the earth's old pockets
And hoisted up into walls and domes; the gold,
Ebony, agate stairs, wainscots of jade,
The windows of jargoon, and heavenly lofts
Of marble, all the stuff he takes to be wealth,
Reckons like savage mud and wattle against
The matter of my building.' -- And the king,
Gloating upon the white sheen of that palace,
And weeping like a girl ashamed, inquired
'What is that stone?' And the voice answered him,
'Soul.' 'But in my palaces too,' said he,
'There should be soul built: I have driven nations,
What with quarrying, what with craning, down
To death, and sure their souls stay in my work.'
And 'Mud and wattle' sneered the voice again;
But added, 'In the west there is a man,
A slave, a carpenter, whose heart has been
Apprenticed to the skill that built my reign,
This beauty; and were he master of your gangs,
He'ld build you a palace that would look like mine.' --
So now no ship may sail from India,
Since the king's scornful dream, unless it bring
A carpenter among its homeward lading:
And carpenters are getting hard to find.

Thomas
And have none made for the king his desire?

Captain
Many have tried, with roasting living men
In queer huge kilns, and other sleights, to found
A glass of human souls; and others seek
With marvellous stone to please our desperate king.
Always at last their own tormented bodies
Delight the cruelty of the king's heart.

Thomas
Well then, I hope you'll find your carpenter,
And soon. I would not that we wait too long;
I loathe a dallying journey. -- I should suppose
We'ld have good sailing at this season, now?

Captain
Why, you were looking, a few minutes gone,
For rare wild storms: I hope we'll have them too;
I want to see you work that talisman
You boast about: I've a great love for spells.

Thomas
Let it be storm or calm, so we be sailing.
I long have wished to voyage into mid sea,
To give my senses rest from wondering
On this preplexèd grammar of the land
Written in men and women, the strange trees,
Herbs, and those things so like to souls, the beasts.
My wilful senses will keep perilously
Employed with these my brain, and weary it
Still to be asking. But on the high seas
Such throng'd reality is left behind, --
Only vast air and water, and the hue
That always seems like special news of God.
Surely 'tis half way to eternity
To go where only size and colour live;
And I could purify my mind from all
Worldly amazement by imagining
Beyond my senses into God's great Heaven,
If I were in mid sea. I have dreamed of this.
Wondrous too, I think, to sail at night
While shaols of moonlight flickers dance beside,
Like swimming glee of fishes scaled in gold,
Curvetting in thwart bounds over the swell;
The perceiving flesh, in bliss of such a beauty,
Must sure feel fine as spiritual sight. --
Moods have been on me, too, when I would be
Sailing recklessly through wild darkness, where
Gigantic whispers of a harassed sea
Fill the whole world of air, and I stand up
To breast the danger of the loosen'd sky,
And feel my immortality like music, --
Yea, I alone in the broken world, firm things
All gone to monstrous flurry, knowing myself
An indestructible word spoken by God. --
This is a small, small boat?

Captain Small is nothing,
A bucket will do, so it know how to ride
Top upward: cleverness is the thing in boats.
And I wish this were cleverer: she goes crank
At times just when she should go sober.
But what? Boats are but girls for whimsies: men
Must let them have their freaks.

Thomas Have you good skill
In seamanship?

Captain Well, I am not drowned yet,
Though I'm a grey man and have been at sea
Longer than you've been walking. My old sight
Can tell Mizar from Alcor still.

Thomas Ay, so;
Doubtless you'll bring me safe to India.
But being there -- tell me now of the land:
How use they strangers there?

Captain Queerly, sometimes
If the king's moody, and tired of feeling nerves
Mildly made happy with soft jewels of silk,
Odours and wines and slim lascivious girls,
And yearns for sharper thrills to pierce his brain,
He often finds a stranger handy then.

Thomas
Why, what do you mean?

Captain There was a merchant came
To Travancore, and could not speak our talk;
And, it chanced, he was brought before the throne
Just when the king was weary of sweet pleasures.
So, to better his tongue, a rope was bent
Beneath his oxters, up he was hauled, and fire
Let singe the soles of his feet, until his legs
Wriggled like frying eels; then the king's dogs
Were set to hunt the hirpling man. The king
Laught greatly and cried, 'But give the dogs words they know,
And they'll be tame.' -- Have you the Indian speech?

Thomas
Not yet: it will be given me, I trust.

Captain
You'd best make sure of the gift. Another stranger,
Who swore he knew of better gods than ours,
Seemed to the king troubled with fleas, and slaves
Were told to groom him smartly, which they did
Thoroughly with steel combs, until at last
They curried the living flesh from his bones
And stript his face of gristle, till he was
Skull and half skeleton and yet alive.
You're not for dealing in new gods?

Thomas Not I.
Was the man killed?

Captain He lived a little while;
But the flies killed him.

Thomas Flies? I hope India
Is not a fly-plagued land? I abhor flies.

Captain
You will see strange ones, for our Indian life
Hath wonderful fierce breeding. Common earth
With us quickens to buzzing flights of wings
As readily as a week-old carcase here
Thrown in a sunny marsh. Why, we have wasps
That make your hornets seem like pretty midges;
And there be flies in India will drink
Not only blood of bulls, tigers, and bears,
But pierce the river-horses' creasy leather,
Ay, worry crocodiles through their cuirasses
And prick the metal fishes when they bask.
You'll feel them soon, with beaks like sturdy pins,
Treating their stinging thirsts with your best blood.
A man can't walk a mile in India
Without being the business of a throng'd
And moving town of flies; they hawk at a man
As bold as little eagles, and as wild.
And, I suppose, only a fool will blame them.
Flies have the right to sink wells in our skin
All as men to bore parcht earth for water.
But I must do a job on board, and then
Search the town afresh for a carpenter.

Thomas (alone)
Ay, loose tongue, I know how thou art prompted.
Satan's cunning device thou art, to sap
My heart with chatter'd fears. How easy it is
For a stiff mind to hold itself upright
Against the cords of devilish suggestion
Tackled about it, though kept downward strained
With sly, masterful winches made of fear.
Yea, when the mind is warned what engines mean
To ply it into grovelling, and thought set firm,
The tugging strings fail like a cobweb-stuff.
Not as in Baghdad is it with me now;
Nor canst thou, Satan, by a prating mouth,
Fell my tall purpose to a flatlong scorn.
I can divide the check of God's own hand
From tempting such as this: India is mine! --
Ay, fiend, and if thou utter thy storming heart
Into the ocean sea, as into mob
A rebel utters turbulence and rage,
And raise before my path swelling barriers
Of hatred soul'd in water, yet will I strike
My purpose, and God's purpose, clean through all
The ridges of thy power. And I will show
This mask that the devil wears, this old shipman,
A thing to make his proud heart of evil
Writhe like a trodden snake; yea, he shall see
How godly faith can go upon the huge Fury of forces bursting out of law,
Easily as a boy goes on windy grass. --
O marvel! that my little life of mind
Can by mere thinking the unsizeable
Creatures of sea enslave! I must believe it.
The mind hath many powers beyond name
Deep womb'd within it, and can shoot strange vigours:
Men there have been who could so grimly look
That soldiers' hearts went out like candle flames
Before their eyes, and the blood perisht in them. --
But I -- could I do that? Would I not feel
The power in me if 'twas there? And yet
'Twere a child's game to what I have to do,
For days and days with sleepless faith oppress
And terrorise the demon sea. I think
A man might, as I saw my Master once,
Pass unharmed through a storm of men, yet fail
At this that lies before me: men are mind,
And mind can conquer mind; but how can it quell
The unappointed purpose of great waters? --
Well, say the sea is past: why, then, I have
My feet but on the threshold of my task,
To gospel India, -- my single heart
To seize into the order of its beat
All the strange blood of India, my brain
To lord the dark thought of that tann'd mankind! --
O, horrible those sweltry places are,
Where the sun comes so close, it makes the earth
Burn in a frenzy of breeding, -- smoke and flame
Of lives burning up from agoniz'd loam!
Those monstrous sappy jungles of clutcht growth,
What can such fearful increase have to do
With prospering bounty? A rage works in the ground,
Incurably, like frantic lechery,
Pouring its passion out in crops and spawns.
'Tis as the mighty spirit of life, that here
Walketh beautifully praising, glad of God,
Should, stepping on the poison'd Indian shore,
Breathing the Indian air of fire snd steams,
Fling herself into a craze of hideous dancing,
The green gown whipping her swift limbs, all her body
Writhen to speak inutterable desire,
Tormented by a glee of hating God.
Nay, it must be, to visit India,
That frantic pomp and hurrying forth of life,
As if a man should enter at unawares
The dreaming mind of Satan, gorgeously
Imagining his eternal hell of lust. --

They say the land is full of apes, which have
Their own gods and worship: how ghastly, this! --
That demons (for it must be so) should build,
In mockery of man's upward faith, the souls
Of monkeys, those lewd mammets of mankind,
Into a dreadful farce of adoration!
And flies! a land of flies! where the hot soil
Foul with ceaseless decay steams into flies!
So thick they pile themselves in the air above
Their meal of filth, they seem like breathing heaps
Of formless life mounded upon the earth;
And buzzing always like the pipes and strings
Of solemn music made for sorcerers. --
I abhor flies, -- to see them stare upon me
Out of their little faces of gibbous eyes;
To feel the dry cool skin of their bodies alight
Perching upon my lips! -- O yea, a dream,
A dream of impious obscene Satan, this
Monstrous frenzy of life, the Indian being!
And there are men in the dream! What men are they?
I've heard, naught relishes their brains so much
As to tie down a man and tease his flesh
Infamously, until a hundred pains
Hound the desiring life out of his body,
Filling his nerves with such a fearful zest
That the soul overstrained shatters beneath it.
Must I preach God to these murderous hearts?
I would my lot had fallen to go and dare
Death from the silent dealing of Northern cold! --

O, but I would face all these Indian fears,
The horror of the huge power of life,
The beasts all fierce and venomous, the men
With cruel souls, learned to invent pain,
All these and more, if I had any hope
That, braving them, Lord Christ prosper'd through me.
If Christ desired India, He had sent
The band of us, solder'd in one great purpose,
To strike His message through those dark vast tribes.
But one man! -- O surely it is folly,
And we misread the lot! One man, to thrust,
Even though in his soul the lamp was kindled
At God's own hands, one man's lit soul to thrust
The immense Indian darkness out of the world!
For human flesh there breeds as furiously
As the green things and the cattle; and it is all,
All this enormity of measureless folk,
Penn'd in a land so close to the devil's reign
The very apes have faith in him. -- No, no;
Impetuous brains mistake the signs of God
Too easily. God would not have me waste
My zeal for Him in this wild enterprise,
Of going alone to swarming India; -- one man,
One mortal voice, to charm those myriad ears
Away from the fiendish clamour of Indian gods,
One man preaching the truth against the huge
Bray of the gongs and horns of the Indian priests!
A cup of wine poured in the sea were not
More surely lost in the green and brackish depths,
Than the fire and fragrance of my doctrine poured
Into that multitudinous pond of men,
India. -- Shipman! Master of the ship! --
I have thought better of this journey; now
I find I am not meant to go.

Captain Not meant?

Thomas
I would say, I had forgotten Indian air
Is full of fevers; and my health is bad
For holding out against fever.

Captain As you please.
I keep your fare, though.

Thomas O,{ 'tis yours. -- Good sailing!

As he makes to depart, a Noble Stranger is seen approaching along the quay.

Captain
Well, here's a marvel: 'Tis a king, for sure!
'Twould take the taxes of a world to dress
A man in that silken gold, and all those gems.
What a flash the light makes of him, nay, he burns;
And he's here on the quay all by himself,
Not even a slave to fan him! -- Man, you're ailing!
You look like death; is it the falling sickness?
Or has the mere thought of the Indian journey
Made your marrow quail with a cold fever?

The Stranger (to the Captain)
You are the master of this ship?

Captain I am.

Stranger
This huddled man belongs to me: a slave
Escaped my service.

Captain Lord, I knew not that.
But you are in good time.

Stranger And was the slave
For putting out with you? Where are your bound?

Captain
To India. First he would sail, and then
Again he would not. But, my Lord, I swear
I never guesst he was a runaway.

Stranger
Well, he shall have his mind and go with you
To India: a good slave he is, but bears
A restless thought. He has slipt off before,
And vexes me still to be watching him.
We'll make a bargain of him.

Captain I, my Lord?
I have no need of slaves: I am too poor.

Stranger
For twenty silver pieces he is yours.

Captain
That's cheap, if he has a skill. Yes, there might be
Profit in him at that. Has he a trade?

Stranger
He is a carpenter.

Captain A carpenter!
Why, for a good one I'ld give all my purse.

Stranger
No, twenty silver pieces is the price;
Though 'tis a slave a king might joy to own.
I've taught him to imagine palaces
So high, and tower'd so nobly, they might seem
The marvelling of a God-delighted heart
Escaping into ecstasy; he knows,
Moreover, of a stuff so rare it makes
Smaragdus and the dragon-stone despised;
And yet the quarries whereof he is wise
Would yield enough to house the tribes of the world
In palaces of beautiful shining work.

Captain
Lo there! why, that is it: the carpenter
I am to bring is needed for to build
The king's new palace.

Stranger Yea? He is your man.

Captain
Come on, my man. I'll put your cunning heels
Where they'll not budge more than a shuffled inch.
My lord, if you'll bide with the rascal here
I'll get the irons ready. Here's your sum. --

Stranger
Now, Thomas, know thy sin. It was not fear;
Easily may a man crouch down for fear,
And yet rise up on firmer knees, and face
The hailing storm of the world with graver courage.
But prudence, prudence is the deadly sin,
And one that groweth deep into a life,
With hardening roots that clutch about the breast.
For this refuses faith in the unknown powers
Within man's nature; shrewdly bringeth all
Their inspiration of strange eagerness(
To a judgment bought by safe experience;
Narrows desire into the scope of thought.
But it is written in the heart of man,
Thou shalt no larger be than thy desire.
Thou must not therefore stoop thy spirit's sight
To pore only within the candle-gleam
Of conscious wit and reasonable brain;
But search into the sacred darkness lying
Outside thy knowledge of thyself, the vast
Measureless fate, full of the power of stars,
The outer noiseless heavens of thy soul.
Keep thy desire closed in the room of light
The labouring fires of thy mind have made,
And thou shalt find the vision of thy spirit
Pitifully dazzled to so shrunk a ken,
There are no spacious puissances about it.
But send desire often forth to scan
The immense night which is thy greater soul;
Knowing the possible, see thou try beyond it
Into impossible things, unlikely ends;
And thou shalt find thy knowledgeable desire
Grow large as all the regions of thy soul,
Whose firmament doth cover the whole of Being,
And of created purpose reach the ends.

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Feeling Out Of Sorts?

Feeling out of sorts these days?
Want to know what you can do?
Need help? Here are 50 ways,
Maybe you'll benefit from a few

ROTMS


SYMPTOMS OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING


1. Changing sleep patterns: restlessness, hot feet, waking up two or three times a night. Feeling tired after you wake up and sleepy off and on during the day.
There is something called the Triad Sleep Pattern that occurs for many: you sleep for about 2-3 hours, wake up, go back to sleep for another couple of hours, wake again, and go back to sleep again. For others, the sleep requirements have changed. You can get by on less sleep.
Lately I have been experiencing huge waves of energy running into my body from the crown. It feels good, but it keeps me awake for a long time, then subsides.

Advice: Get used to it. Make peace with it and don't worry about getting enough sleep (which often causes more insomnia) . You will be able to make it through the day if you hold thoughts of getting just what you need. You can also request your Higher Power to give you a break now and then and give you a good, deep night's sleep.

If you can't go back to sleep right away, use the waking moments to meditate, read poetry, write in your journal or look at the moon. Your body will adjust to the new pattern.

2. Activity at the crown of the head: Tingling, itching, prickly, crawling sensations along the scalp and/or down the spine. A sense of energy vibrating on top of the head, as if energy is erupting from the head in a shower. Also the sensation of energy pouring in through the crown, described as 'sprinkles'.


This may also be experienced as pressure on the crown, as if someone is pushing his/her finger into the center of your head. As I mentioned in #1, I have been experiencing huge downloads of energy through the crown.
In the past, I have felt more generalized pressure, as if my head is in a gentle vise. One man related that his hair stood on end and his body was covered with goosebumps.

Advice: This is nothing to be alarmed about. What you are experiencing is an opening of the crown chakra. The sensations mean that you are opening up to receive divine energy.


3. Sudden waves of emotion. Crying at the dropp of a hat. Feeling suddenly angry or sad with little provocation. Or inexplicably depressed. Then very happy. Emotional roller coaster. There is often a pressure or sense of emotions congested in the heart chakra (the middle of the chest) . This is not to be confused with the heart, which is located to the left of the heart chakra.

Advice: Accept your feelings as they come up and let them go. Go directly to your heart chakra and feel the emotion. Expand it outward to your all your fields and breathe deeply from the belly all the way up to your upper chest. Just feel the feeling and let it evaporate on its own. Don't direct the emotions at anyone.


You are cleaning out your past. If you want some help with this, say out loud that you intend to release all these old issues and ask your Higher Power to help you. You can also ask Grace Elohim to help you release with ease and gentleness. Be grateful that your body is releasing the see motions and not holding onto them inside where they can do harm.


One source suggests that depression is linked to letting go of relationships to people, work, etc. that no longer match us and our frequencies. When we feel guilty about letting go of these relationships, depression helps us medicate that pain.


4. Old 'stuff' seems to be coming up, as described above, and the people with whom you need to work it out (or their clones) appear in your life. Completion issues.

Or perhaps you need to work through issues of self-worth, abundance, creativity, addictions, etc. The resources or people you need to help you move through these issues start to appear.

Advice: Same as #3. Additionally, don't get too involved in analyzing these issues. Examining them too much will simply cycle you back through them over and over again at deeper and deeper levels. Get professional help if you need to and walk through it.


Do not try to avoid them or disassociate yourself from them. Embrace whatever comes up and thank it for helping you move ahead. Thank your Higher Power for giving you the opportunity to release these issues. Remember, you don't want these issues to stay stuck in your body.

5. Changes in weight. The weight gain in the US population is phenomenal. Other people may be losing weight.


We often gain weight because many fears we have suppressed are now coming up to the surface to be healed. We react by building up a defense. We also attempt to ground ourselves or provide bulk against increasing frequencies in our bodies.


Advice: Don't freak out, but just accept it as a symptom of where you are right now. You will release/gain the weight when all your fears have been integrated. Release your anxiety about this. Then you might find it easier to lose/gain the weight eventually. Exercise.

Before eating, try this: Sit at the table with an attractive place setting. Light a candle. Enjoy how the food looks. Place your dominant hand over your heart and bless the food. Tell your body that you are going to use the food to richly nourish it, but that you are not going to use the food to fulfill your emotional hungers.

Then pass your hand from left to right over the food and bless it. You may notice that the food feels warm to your hand even if the food is cold- I like to think that the food is good for me when it feels warm and nourishing to my hand. I have also noticed that when I practice blessing the food, I don't eat as much. It is important not to let yourself off the hook when you forget to bless the food before you eat.
If I've forgotten and I've nearly finished eating, I bless the food anyway. That way I don't slip out of the habit. Another thing you can do is to stay present while eating - don't watch TV or read. Heartily enjoy what blessings are before you.

6. Changes in eating habits: Strange cravings and odd food choices. Some find they are not as hungry as they used to be. Or hungrier.

Advice: Don't deny what your body tells you it needs. If you are not sure, you might try muscle-testing before you chose a food to see if it's what your body wants. Also try blessing the food as described in #5.


7. Food intolerances, allergies you never had before: As you grow more spiritual, you are more sensitive to everything around you. Your body will tell you what it can no longer tolerate, as if it, too, is sloughing off what doesn't serve it anymore. You might be cleansing yourself of toxins. Some people find they often have a white residue in their mouth, much like that of runners at the end of a race.

Advice: An acupuncturist told me that this film can be removed by sloshing 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed olive oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes (don't swallow, whatever you do) , then spitting it out into the toilet - not the sink, for you just removed toxins from your body and don't want them in the sink. Brush your teeth and do the same. Then clean your brush. (Sorry this is yucky, but it works.)

8. Amplification of the senses. Increased sensitivity.


8a. Sight: Blurry vision, shimmering objects, seeing glittery particles, auras around people, plants, animals, and objects. Some report seeing formerly opaque objects as transparent. When you close your eyes, you no longer see darkness, but a redness. You may also see geometric shapes or brilliant colors and pictures when eyes are closed. Colors appear more vivid - the sky might look teal or the grass an amazing green. Often I see grids running across the ground.

As you become more sensitive, you may see shapes or outlines in the air, especially when the room is almost dark. When your eyes are open or closed, you may see white shapes in your peripheral vision (these are your guides) .

Advice: Your vision is changing in many ways - you are experiencing new ways of seeing. Be patient. Whatever you do, do not be afraid. Hazy vision maybe relieved by yawning.


8b. Hearing: Increased or decreased hearing. I once thought I would have to pull off the road because of the painfully amplified sound of my tires on the freeway. Other symptoms are hearing white noise in the head, beeps, tones, music or electronic patterns. Some hear water rushing, bees buzzing, whooshing, roaring or ringing. Others have what is called audio dyslexia- you can't always make out what people are saying, as if you can no longer translate your own language.

Some hear strange voices in their dreams, as if someone is hovering near them. You can either ask the presence(s) to leave or ask Archangel Michael to take care of the situation. Again, there is nothing to fear.

Advice: Surrender to it. Let it come through. Listen. Your ears are adjusting to new frequencies.


8c. Enhanced senses of smell, touch, and/or taste. I notice I can now smell and taste chemical additives in some foods in a rather unpleasant manner. Other food may taste absolutely wonderful. For some people, these enhancements are both delightful and distracting. You might even smell the fragrance of flowers now and then. Many of the mystics did. Enjoy it.

9. Skin eruptions: Rashes, bumps, acne, hives, and shingles. Anger produces outbreaks around the mouth and chin. I had a dermatitis on my extremities for several months that accompanied healing an episode from my past. When I had worked through most of the issue, the condition was released.

Advice: You may be sloughing off toxins and bringing emotions to the surface. When there is an issue to be released and you are trying to repress it, your skin will express the issue for you until you process the emotions. Work through your 'stuff'.

10. Episodes of intense energy which make you want to leap out of bed and into action. Followed by periods of lethargy and fatigue. The fatigue usually follows great shifts. This is a time of integration, so give into it.

Advice: Roll with the nature of the energy. Don't fight it. Be gentle with yourself. Take naps if you are tired. Write your novel if you are too energized to sleep. Take advantage of the type of energy.

11. Changes in prayer or meditation. Not feeling the same sensations as before. Not having the same experience of being in contact with Spirit. Difficulty in focusing.


Advice: You may be in more instant and constant communion with Spirit now and the sensation may therefore be altered. You will adapt to this new feeling. You are actually thinking and acting in partnership with Spirit most of the time now. You may find your meditation periods shorter.


12. Power surges: All of a sudden you are heated from head to toe. It is a momentary sensation, but uncomfortable. In contrast, some people have felt inexplicably cold. I have experienced both. More recently I experience waves or currents of energy rolling through me. Sometimes the energy seems so intense when it first comes into my body that I feel a little nauseated.

But if I think of the energy as divine and let go of fear, I feel wonderful and enjoy the sensation. If you are an energy worker, you may have noticed that the heat running through your hands has increased tremendously. This is good. Advice: If you are uncomfortable, ask your Higher Power, that if it be for your best and highest good, to turn down/up the temperature a bit.


13. A range of physical manifestations: Headaches, backaches, neck pains, flu-like symptoms (this is called vibrational flu) , digestive problems, muscular spasms or cramps, racing heartbeat, chest pains, changes in sexual desire, numbness or pain in the limbs, and involuntary vocalizations or bodily movements. Some of us have even had old conditions from childhood reappear briefly for healing.

Advice: Remember what I said about seeking medical help if you need it! If you have determined that this is not a medical condition, relax in the realization that it is only temporary.


14. Looking younger. Yippee! As you clear emotional issues and release limiting beliefs and heavy baggage from the past, you are actually lighter. Your frequency is higher. You love yourself and life more. You begin to resemble the perfect you that you really are.


15. Vivid dreams. Sometimes the dreams are so real that you wake up confused. You may even have lucid dreams in which you are in control. Many dreams may be mystical or carry messages for you. And in some dreams, you just know that you are not 'dreaming' - that what is happening is somehow real. Advice: You will remember what is important for you to remember. Don't force anything. Above all, stay out of fear.


16. Events that completely alter your life: death, divorce, change in job status, loss of home, illness, and/or other catastrophes - sometimes several at once! Forces that cause you to slow down, simplify, change, re-examine who you are and what your life means to you. Forces that you cannot ignore. Forces that cause you release your attachments. Forces that awaken your sense of love and compassion for all.


17. A desire to break free from restrictive patterns, life-draining jobs consumptive lifestyles, and toxic people or situations. You feel a compelling need to 'find yourself' and your life purpose - now! You want to be creative and free to be who you really are. You might find yourself drawn to the arts and nature. You want to unclutter yourself from things and people that no longer serve you. Advice: Do it!

18. Emotional and mental confusion: A feeling that you need to get your life straightened out-it feels like a mess. But at the same time you feel chaotic and unable to focus. See #45.

Advice: Put your ear to your heart and your own discernment will follow.

19. Introspection, solitude and loss of interest in more extroverted activities: This stage has come as a surprise to many extroverts who formerly saw themselves as outgoing and involved. They say, 'I don't know why, but I don't like to go out as much as before.'

20. Creativity bursts: Receiving images, ideas, music, and other creative inspirations at an often overwhelming rate.

Advice: At least record these inspirations, for Spirit is speaking to you about how you might fulfill your purpose and contribute to the healing of the planet.

21. A perception that time is accelerating. It seems that way because you have had so many changes introduced into your life at an unprecedented rate. The number of changes seems to be growing.

Advice: Breaking your day up into appointments and time segments increases the sense of acceleration
You can slow time down by relaxing into the present moment and paying attention to what's at hand, not anticipating what's ahead. Slow down and tell yourself that you have plenty of time. Ask your Higher Power to help you. Keep your focus on the present. Try to flow from one activity to the next. Stay tuned to your inner guidance..You can also warp time by asking for it. Next time you feel rushed, say, 'Time warp, please. I need some more time to --.' Then relax.22. A sense of impending-ness. There is a feeling that something is about to happen. This can create anxiety.

Advice: There is nothing to worry about. Things are definitely happening, but anxiety only creates more problems for you. All your thoughts - positive or negative- are prayers. There is nothing to fear.


23. Impatience. You know better, but sometimes you can't help it. You want to get on with what seems to be coming your way. Uncertainty is not comfortable. Advice: Learn to live with the uncertainty, knowing that nothing comes to you until you are ready. Impatience is really a lack of trust, especially trust in your Higher Power. When you focus on the present, you will experience miracles - yes, even in traffic.


24. A deep yearning for meaning, purpose, spiritual connection, and revelation. Perhaps an interest in the spiritual for the first time in your life. 'Constant craving', as K.D. Lang says. The material world cannot fulfill this longing. Advice: Follow your heart and the way will open up for you.


25. A feeling that you are somehow different. A disquieting sense that everything in your life feels new and altered, that you have left your old self behind. You have. You are much greater than you can possibly imagine. There is more to come.


26. 'Teachers' appear everywhere with perfect timing to help you on your spiritual journey: people, books, movies, events, Mother Nature, etc. Teachers may appear to be negative or positive when you are trapped in polarity thinking, but, from a transcendent perspective, they are always perfect. Just what you need to learn from and move on. By the way, we never get more than we are ready to master. Each challenge presents us with an opportunity to show our mastery in passing through it.


27. You find a spiritual track that makes sense to you and 'speaks to you' at the most profound levels. Suddenly you are gaining a perspective that you would never have considered before. You hunger to know more. You read, share with others, ask questions, and go inside to discover more about who you are and why you are here


28. You are moving through learning and personal issues at a rapid pace. You sense that you are 'getting it' quite readily.


Advice: Keep remembering that things will come to you when they are ready to be healed. Not sooner. Deal with whatever comes up with courage and you will move through the issues rapidly.


29. Invisible presences. Here is the woo-woo stuff. Some people report feeling surrounded by beings at night or having the sensation of being touched or talked to. Often they will wake with a start. Some also feel their body orbed vibrate. The vibrations are caused by energetic changes after emotional clearing has taken place.


Advice: This is a sensitive topic, but you may feel better blessing your bed and space around it before you sleep. I rest assured that I am surrounded only by the most magnificent spiritual entities and am always safe in God's care. Sometimes, however, the fear gets to me, and I call in Archangel Michael and/or Archangel Uriel. I don't beat myself up for being afraid sometimes. I forgive myself for not always sovereign at 3: 00 a.m.


30. Portents, visions, 'illusions', numbers, and symbols: Seeing things that have spiritual importance for you. Noticing how numbers appear synchronistically in your awareness. Everything has a message if you take the time to look. I enjoy the experience of 'getting the messages.' What fun!


31. Increased integrity: You realize that it is time for you to seek and speak your truth. It suddenly seems important for you to become more authentic, more yourself. You may have to say 'no' to people whom you have tried to please in the past. You may find it intolerable to stay in a marriage or job or place that doesn't support who you are. You may also find there is nowhere to hide, no secrets to keep anymore. Honesty becomes important in all your relationships.


Advice: Listen to your heart. If your guidance tells you not to do something, speak up and take action. Say 'no'. Likewise, you must also say 'yes' to that which compels you. You must risk displeasing others without guilt in order to attain spiritual sovereignty.


32. Harmony with seasons and cycles: You are becoming more tuned to the seasons, the phases of the moon and natural cycles. More awareness of your place in the natural world. A stronger connection to the earth.


33. Electrical and mechanical malfunctions: When you are around, light bulbs flicker, the computer locks up, or the radio goes haywire. Advice: Call on your angels, guides, or Grace Elohim to fix it or put up a field of protection of light around the machine. Surround your car with blue light. Laugh.

34. Increased synchronicity and many small miracles. Look for more of these.

Advice: Synchronistic events tell you if you are heading in the right direction or making the correct choices. Honor these clues and you cannot go astray. Spirit uses synchronicity to communicate to you. That's when you begin to experience daily miracles. See #30.


35. Increased intuitive abilities and altered states of consciousness: Thinking of someone and immediately hearing from them. More synchronicities. Having sudden insights about patterns or events from the past. Clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, and other psychic phenomena. Intensified sensitivity and knowing. Awareness of one's essence and that of others. Channeling angelic and Christ-consciousness energies.


36. Communication with Spirit. Contact with angels, spirit guides, and other divine entities. Channeling. More and more people seem to be given this opportunity. Feeling inspiration and downloading information that takes form as writing, painting, ideas, communications, dance, etc.


37. A sense of Oneness with all. A direct experience of this Wholeness. Transcendent awareness. Being flooded with compassion and love for all life. Compassionate detachment or unconditional love for all is what lifts us up to higher levels of consciousness and joy.

38. Moments of joy and bliss. A deep abiding sense of peace and knowing that you are never alone.


39. Integration: You become emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually stronger and clearer. You feel as if you are in alignment with your Higher Self.


40. Living your purpose: You know you are finally doing what you came to earth for. New skills and gifts are emerging, especially healing ones. Your life/work experiences are now converging and starting to make sense. You are finally going to use them all.


Advice: Listen to your heart. Your passion leads you to where you must go. Go within and ask your Higher Power, 'What is it you would have me do? ' Watch for synchronicities. Listen.


41. Feeling closer to animals and plants. To some people, animals now seem to be more 'human' in their behavior. Wild animals are less afraid. Plants respond to your love and attention more than ever. Some may even have messages for you.


42. Seeing beings of other dimensions. The veil between dimensions is thinner, so it is not surprising. Just stay in your sovereignty. You are more powerful than you can ever imagine, so do not entertain fear. Ask your guides for help if you slip into fear.

43. Seeing a person's true form or seeing loved ones with a different face - past life or parallel life.44. Physically manifesting thoughts and desires more quickly and efficiently.


Advice: Monitor your thoughts. All thoughts are prayers. Be careful what you ask for.45. Left -brain fogginess. Your psychic abilities, your intuitive knowing, your feeling and compassion, your ability to experience your body, your visioning, your expressiveness all emanate from the right brain. In order for this side of the brain to develop more fully, the left brain must shut down a little bit. Normally the left-hemisphere's capacity for order, organization, structure, linear sequencing, analysis, evaluation, precision, focus, problem-solving, and mathematics dominate our often less-valued right brain.


What results are memory lapses, placing words in the wrong sequence, inability or no desire to read for very long, inability to focus; forgetting what you are just about to say; impatience with linear forms of communication (audio or written formats): a feeling of spaciness, being scattered; losing interesting research or complex information; feeling bombarded with words and talk and information; and a reluctance to write. Sometimes you feel dull and have no interest in analysis, lively intellectual discussion, or investigation.

On the other hand, you might find yourself drawn to the sensate: videos, magazines with photos, beautiful artwork, movies, music, sculpting, painting, being with people, dancing, gardening, walking, and other kinesthetic forms of expression. You may search for spiritual content, even science fiction. Advice: You may discover that if you allow your heart and your right brain to lead you, the left will then be activated appropriately to support you. And someday we will be well-balanced, using both hemispheres with mastery.


46. Dizziness. This occurs when you are ungrounded. Perhaps you have just cleared a big emotional issue and your body is adjusting to your 'lighter' state. Advice: Ground yourself by eating protein. Sometimes 'comfort food' feels right. Don't make any food right or wrong for you. Use your guidance to know what you need at any given moment. Take your shoes off and put your feet in the grass for a couple of minutes.


47. Falling, having accidents, breaking bones. Your body is not grounded or perhaps your life is out of balance. Or your body may be telling you to slow down, examine certain aspects of your life, or heal certain issues. There is always a message. When I recently broke my ankle, I understand that my ankle was taking on what I myself refused to deal with. And that was all of the above.


Advice: Stay grounded by taking your shoes off and putting your feet in the grass; even better, lie down on the grass without a blanket under you. Feel the earth beneath you. Get out in nature. Slow down and pay attention. Be mindful about what you are doing. Feel your feelings when they come up. Stay in the present. Surround yourself with blue light when you are feeling shaky.


49. Heart palpitations. A racing heart usually accompanies a heart opening. It only lasts for a few moments and means that the heart is re-balancing itself after an emotional release. I had one episode that terrified me: I woke up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding. I thought it was going to come right out of my chest. It only happened once and was, I understand, a huge heart-chakra opening. But I did check it out. There is nothing wrong with my heart.


Advice: Remember what I said about getting medical attention when needed. Consult your doctor about any conditions you are not comfortable with.


50. Faster hair and nail growth. More protein is being used in the body. Too bad we can't tell the body where to grow the hair and where not to grow it. (Or can we? Hmm.)

Article from Ashtar Command Website;
http: //www.ashtarcommandcrew.net/

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Herman Melville

The Scout Toward Aldie

The cavalry-camp lies on the slope
Of what was late a vernal hill,
But now like a pavement bare-
An outpost in the perilous wilds
Which ever are lone and still;
But Mosby's men are there -
Of Mosby best beware.

Great trees the troopers felled, and leaned
In antlered walls about their tents;
Strict watch they kept; 'twas Hark! and Mark!
Unarmed none cared to stir abroad
For berries beyond their forest-fence:
As glides in seas the shark,
Rides Mosby through green dark.

All spake of him, but few had seen
Except the maimed ones or the low;
Yet rumor made him every thing-
A farmer-woodman-refugee-
The man who crossed the field but now;
A spell about his life did cling -
Who to the ground shall Mosby bring?

The morning-bugles lonely play,
Lonely the evening-bugle calls -
Unanswered voices in the wild;
The settled hush of birds in nest
Becharms, and all the wood enthralls:
Memory's self is so beguiled
That Mosby seems a satyr's child.

They lived as in the Eerie Land-
The fire-flies showed with fairy gleam;
And yet from pine-tops one might ken
The Capitol dome-hazy-sublime-
A vision breaking on a dream:
So strange it was that Mosby's men
Should dare to prowl where the Dome was seen.

A scout toward Aldie broke the spell. -
The Leader lies before his tent
Gazing at heaven's all-cheering lamp
Through blandness of a morning rare;
His thoughts on bitter-sweets are bent:
His sunny bride is in the camp -
But Mosby - graves are beds of damp!

The trumpet calls; he goes within;
But none the prayer and sob may know:
Her hero he, but bridegroom too.
Ah, love in a tent is a queenly thing,
And fame, be sure, refines the vow;
But fame fond wives have lived to rue,
And Mosby's men fell deeds can do.

Tan-tara! tan-tara! tan-tara!
Mounted and armed he sits a king;
For pride she smiles if now she peep -
Elate he rides at the head of his men;
He is young, and command is a boyish thing:
They file out into the forest deep -
Do Mosby and his rangers sleep?

The sun is gold, and the world is green,
Opal the vapors of morning roll;
The champing horses lightly prance -
Full of caprice, and the riders too
Curving in many a caricole.
But marshaled soon, by fours advance -
Mosby had checked that airy dance.

By the hospital-tent the cripples stand -
Bandage, and crutch, and cane, and sling,
And palely eye the brave array;
The froth of the cup is gone for them
(Caw! caw! the crows through the blueness wing);
Yet these were late as bold, as gay;
But Mosby - a clip, and grass is hay.

How strong they feel on their horses free,
Tingles the tendoned thigh with life;
Their cavalry-jackets make boys of all -
With golden breasts like the oriole;
The chat, the jest, and laugh are rife.
But word is passed from the front - a call
For order; the wood is Mosby's hall.

To which behest one rider sly
(Spurred, but unarmed) gave little heed -
Of dexterous fun not slow or spare,
He teased his neighbors of touchy mood,
Into plungings he pricked his steed:
A black-eyed man on a coal-black mare,
Alive as Mosby in mountain air.

His limbs were long, and large and round;
He whispered, winked-did all but shout:
A healthy man for the sick to view;
The taste in his mouth was sweet at morn;
Little of care he cared about.
And yet of pains and pangs he knew -
In others, maimed by Mosby's crew.

The Hospital Steward - even he
(Sacred in person as a priest),
And on his coat-sleeve broidered nice
Wore the caduceus, black and green.
No wonder he sat so light on his beast;
This cheery man in suit of price
Not even Mosby dared to slice.

They pass the picket by the pine
And hollow log - a lonesome place;
His horse adroop, and pistol clean;
'Tis cocked - kept leveled toward the wood;
Strained vigilance ages his childish face.
Since midnight has that stripling been
Peering for Mosby through the green.

Splashing they cross the freshet-flood,
And up the muddy bank they strain;
A horse at the spectral white-ash shies -
One of the span of the ambulance,
Black as a hearse. They give the rein:
Silent speed on a scout were wise,
Could cunning baffle Mosby's spies.

Rumor had come that a band was lodged
In green retreats of hills that peer
By Aldie (famed for the swordless charge).
Much store they'd heaped of captured arms
And, per adventure, pilfered cheer;
For Mosby's lads oft hearts enlarge
In revelry by some gorge's marge.

'Don't let your sabres rattle and ring;
To his oat-bag let each man give heed -
There now, that fellow's bag's untied,
Sowing the road with the precious grain.
Your carbines swing at hand - you need!
Look to yourselves, and your nags beside,
Men who after Mosby ride.'

Picked lads and keen went sharp before -
A guard, though scarce against surprise;
And rearmost rode an answering troop,
But flankers none to right or left.
No bugle peals, no pennon flies:
Silent they sweep, and fain would swoop
On Mosby with an Indian whoop.

On, right on through the forest land,
Nor man, nor maid, nor child was seen -
Not even a dog. The air was still;
The blackened hut they turned to see,
And spied charred benches on the green;
A squirrel sprang from the rotting mill
Whence Mosby sallied late, brave blood to spill.

By worn-out fields they cantered on -
Drear fields amid the woodlands wide;
By cross-roads of some olden time,
In which grew groves; by gate-stones down -
Grassed ruins of secluded pride:
A strange lone land, long past the prime,
Fit land for Mosby or for crime.

The brook in the dell they pass. One peers
Between the leaves: 'Ay, there's the place -
There, on the oozy ledge - 'twas there
We found the body (Blake's you know);
Such whirlings, gurglings round the face -
Shot drinking! Well, in war all's fair -
So Mosby says. The bough - take care!'

Hard by, a chapel. Flower-pot mould
Danked and decayed the shaded roof;
The porch was punk; the clapboards spanned
With ruffled lichens gray or green;
Red coral-moss was not aloof;
And mid dry leaves green dead-man's-hand
Groped toward that chapel in Mosby-land.

They leave the road and take the wood,
And mark the trace of ridges there -
A wood where once had slept the farm -
A wood where once tobacco grew
Drowsily in the hazy air,
And wrought in all kind things a calm -
Such influence, Mosby! bids disarm.

To ease even yet the place did woo -
To ease which pines unstirring share,
For ease the weary horses sighed:
Halting, and slackening girths, they feed,
Their pipes they light, they loiter there;
Then up, and urging still the Guide,
On, and after Mosby ride.

This Guide in frowzy coat of brown,
And beard of ancient growth and mould,
Bestrode a bony steed and strong,
As suited well with bulk he bore -
A wheezy man with depth of hold
Who jouncing went. A staff he swung -
A wight whom Mosby's wasp had stung.

Burnt out and homeless - hunted long!
That wheeze he caught in autumn-wood
Crouching (a fat man) for his life,
And spied his lean son 'mong the crew
That probed the covert. Ah! black blood
Was his 'gainst even child and wife -
Fast friends to Mosby. Such the strife.

A lad, unhorsed by sliding girths,
Strains hard to readjust his seat
Ere the main body show the gap
'Twixt them and the rear-guard; scrub-oaks near
He sidelong eyes, while hands move fleet;
Then mounts and spurs. One drops his cap -
'Let Mosby find!' nor heeds mishap.

A gable time-stained peeps through trees:
'You mind the fight in the haunted house?
That's it; we clenched them in the room -
An ambuscade of ghosts, we thought,
But proved sly rebels on a bouse!
Luke lies in the yard.' The chimneys loom:
Some muse on Mosby - some on doom.

Less nimbly now through brakes they wind,
And ford wild creeks where men have drowned;
They skirt the pool, avoid the fen,
And so till night, when down they lie,
Their steeds still saddled, in wooded ground:
Rein in hand they slumber then,
Dreaming of Mosby's cedarn den.

But Colonel and Major friendly sat
Where boughs deformed low made a seat.
The Young Man talked (all sworded and spurred)
Of the partisan's blade he longed to win,
And frays in which he meant to beat.
The grizzled Major smoked, and heard:
'But what's that - Mosby?' 'No, a bird.'

A contrast here like sire and son,
Hope and Experience sage did meet;
The Youth was brave, the Senior too;
But through the Seven Days one had served,
And gasped with the rear-guard in retreat:
So he smoked and smoked, and the wreath he blew -
'Any sure news of Mosby's crew?'

He smoked and smoked, eyeing the while
A huge tree hydra-like in growth -
Moon-tinged-with crook'd boughs rent or lopped -
Itself a haggard forest. 'Come!'
The Colonel cried, 'to talk you're loath;
D'ye hear? I say he must be stopped,
This Mosby - caged, and hair close cropped.'

'Of course; but what's that dangling there?'
'Where?' 'From the tree - that gallows-bough;
'A bit of frayed bark, is it not?'
'Ay-or a rope; did we hang last? -
Don't like my neckerchief any how;'
He loosened it: 'O ay, we'll stop
This Mosby - but that vile jerk and drop!'

By peep of light they feed and ride,
Gaining a grove's green edge at morn,
And mark the Aldie hills upread
And five gigantic horsemen carved
Clear-cut against the sky withdrawn;
Are more behind? an open snare?
Or Mosby's men but watchmen there?

The ravaged land was miles behind,
And Loudon spread her landscape rare;
Orchards in pleasant lowlands stood,
Cows were feeding, a cock loud crew,
But not a friend at need was there;
The valley-folk were only good
To Mosby and his wandering brood.

What best to do? what mean yon men?
Colonel and Guide their minds compare;
Be sure some looked their Leader through;
Dismounted, on his sword he leaned
As one who feigns an easy air;
And yet perplexed he was they knew -
Perplexed by Mosby's mountain-crew.

The Major hemmed as he would speak,
But checked himself, and left the ring
Of cavalrymen about their Chief -
Young courtiers mute who paid their court
By looking with confidence on their king;
They knew him brave, foresaw no grief -
But Mosby - the time to think is brief.

The Surgeon (sashed in sacred green)
Was glad 'twas not for him to say
What next should be; if a trooper bleeds,
Why he will do his best,as wont,
And his partner in black will aid and pray;
But judgment bides with him who leads,
And Mosby many a problem breeds.

The Surgeon was the kindliest man
That ever a callous trace professed;
He felt for him, that Leader young,
And offered medicine from his flask:
The Colonel took it with marvelous zest.
For such fine medicine good and strong,
Oft Mosby and his foresters long.

A charm of proof. 'Ho, Major, come-
Pounce on yon men! Take half your troop,
Through the thickets wind-pray speedy be-
And gain their read. And, Captain Morn,
Picket these roads-all travelers stop;
The rest to the edge of this crest with me,
That Mosby and his scouts may see.'

Commanded and done. Ere the sun stood steep,
Back came the Blues, with a troop of Grays,
Ten riding double-luckless ten!-
Five horses gone, and looped hats lost,
And love-locks dancing in a maze-
Certes, but sophomores from the glen
Of Mosby-not his veteran men.

'Colonel,' said the Major, touching his cap,
'We've had our ride, and here they are.'
'Well done! How many found you there?'
'As many as I bring you here.'
'And no one hurt?' 'There'll be no scar -
One fool was battered.' 'Find their lair?'
'Why, Mosby's brood camp everywhere.'

He sighed, and slid down from his horse,
And limping went to a spring-head nigh.
'Why, bless me, Major, not hurt, I hope?'
'Battered my knee against a bar
When the rush was made; all right by-and-by. -
Halloa! They gave you too much rope -
Go back to Mosby, eh? elope?'

Just by the low-hanging skirt of wood
The guard, remiss, had given a chance
For a sudden sally into the cover -
But foiled the intent, nor fired a shot,
Though the issue was a deadly trance;
For, hurled 'gainst an oak that humped low over,
Mosby's man fell, pale as a lover.

They pulled some grass his head to ease
(Lined with blue shreds a ground-nest stirred).
The Surgeon came -'Here's a to-do!'
'Ah!' cried the Major, darting a glance,
'This fellow's the one that fired and spurred
Downhill, but met reserves below -
My boys, not Mosby's - so we go!'

The Surgeon - bluff, red, goodly man -
Kneeled by the hurt one; like a bee
He toiled the pale young Chaplain too -
(Who went to the wars for cure of souls,
And his own student-ailments) - he
Bent over likewise; spite the two,
Mosby's poor man more pallid grew.

Meanwhile the mounted captives near
Jested; and yet they anxious showed;
Virginians; some of family-pride,
And young, and full of fire, and fine
In open feature and cheek that glowed;
And here thralled vagabonds now they ride -
But list! one speaks for Mosby's side.

'Why, three to one - your horses strong -
Revolvers, rifles, and a surprise -
Surrender we account no shame!
We live, are gay, and life is hope;
We'll fight again when fight is wise.
There are plenty more from where we came;
But go find Mosby - start the game!'

Yet one there was who looked but glum;
In middle-age, a father he,
And this his first experience too:
'They shot at my heart when my hands were up -
This fighting's crazy work, I see!'
But no one is nigh; what next do?
The woods are mute, and Mosby is the foe.

Save what we've got,' the Major said;
'Bad plan to make a scout too long;
The tide may turn, and drag them back,
And more beside. These rides I've been,
And every time a mine was sprung.
To rescue, mind, they won't be slack -
Look out for Mosby's rifle-crack.'

'We'll welcome it! Give crack for crack!
Peril, old lad, is what I seek.'
'O then, there's plenty to be had -
By all means on, and have our fill!'
With that, grotesque, he writhed his neck,
Showing a scar by buck-shot made -
Kind Mosby's Christmas gift, he said.

'But, Colonel, my prisoners - let a guard
Make sure of them, and lead to camp.
That done, we're free for a dark-room fight
If so you say. 'The other laughed;
'Trust me, Major, nor throw a damp.
But first to try a little sleight -
Sure news of Mosby would suit me quite.'

Herewith he turned - 'Reb, have a dram?'
Holding the Surgeon's flask with a smile
To a young scapegrace from the glen.
'O yes!' he eagerly replied,
'And thank you, Colonel, but - any guile?
For if you think we'll blab - why, then
You don't know Mosby or his men.'

The Leader's genial air relaxed.
'Best give it up,' a whisperer said.
'By heaven, I'll range their rebel den!'
'They'll treat you well,' the captive cried;
'They're all like us - handsome - well bred:
In wood or town, with sword or pen,
Polite is Mosby, and his men.'

'Where were you, lads, last night? - come, tell!'
'We? - at a wedding in the Vale -
The bridegroom our comrade; by his side
Belisent, my cousin - O, so proud
Of her young love with old wounds pale -
A Virginian girl! God bless her pride -
Of a crippled Mosby-man the bride!'

'Four wall shall mend that saucy mood,
And moping prisons tame him down,'
Said Captain Cloud.' God help that day,'
Cried Captain Morn, 'and he so young.
But hark, he sings - a madcap one!'
'O we multiply merrily in the May,
The birds and Mosby's men, they say!'

While echoes ran, a wagon old,
Under stout guard of Corporal Chew
Came up; a lame horse, dingy white,
With clouted harness; ropes in hand,
Cringed the humped driver, black in hue;
By him (for Mosby's band a sight)
A sister-rebel sat, her veil held tight.

'I picked them up,' the Corporal said,
'Crunching their way over stick and root,
Through yonder wood. The man here - Cuff -
Says they are going to Leesburgtown.'
The Colonel's eye took in the group;
The veiled one's hand he spied - enough!
Not Mosby's. Spite the gown's poor stuff,

Off went his hat: 'Lady, fear not;
We soldiers do what we deplore -
I must detain you till we march,'
The stranger nodded. Nettled now,
He grew politer than before: -
'Tis Mosby's fault, this halt and search:'
The lady stiffened in her starch.

'My duty, madam, bids me now
Ask what may seem a little rude.
Pardon - that veil - withdraw it, please
(Corporal! Make every man fall back);
Pray, now I do but what I should;
Bethink you, 'tis in masks like these
That Mosby haunts the villages.'

Slowly the stranger drew her veil,
And looked the Soldier in the eye -
A glance of mingled foul and fair;
Sad patience in a proud disdain,
And more than quietude. A sigh
She heaved, and if all unaware,
And far seemed Mosby from her care.

She came from Yewton Place, her home,
So ravaged by the war's wild play -
Campings, and foragings, and fires -
That now she sought an aunt's abode.
Her kinsmen? In Lee's army, they.
The black? A servant, late her sire's.
And Mosby? Vainly he inquires.

He gazed, and sad she met his eye;
'In the wood yonder were you lost?'
No; at the forks they left the road
Because of hoof-prints (thick they were -
Thick as the words in notes thrice crossed),
And fearful, made that episode.
In fear of Mosby? None she showed.

Her poor attire again he scanned:
'Lady, once more; I grieve to jar
On all sweet usage, but must plead
To have what peeps there from your dress;
That letter - 'tis justly prize of war.'
She started - gave it - she must need.
'Tis not from Mosby? May I read?'

And straight such matter he perused
That with the Guide he went apart.
The Hospital Steward's turn began:
'Must squeeze this darkey; every tap
Of knowledge we are bound to start.'
'Garry,' she said, 'tell all you can
Of Colonel Mosby - that brave man.'

'Dun know much, sare; and missis here
Know less dan me. But dis I know -'
'Well, what?' 'I dun know what I know.'
'A knowing answer!' The hump-back coughed,
Rubbing his yellowish wool-like tow.
'Come - Mosby - tell!' 'O dun look so!
My gal nursed missis - let we go.'

'Go where?' demanded Captain Cloud;
'Back into bondage? Man, you're free!'
'Well, let we free!' The Captain's brow
Lowered; the Colonel came - had heard:
'Pooh! pooh! His simple heart I see -
A faithful servant. -Lady' (a bow),
'Mosby's abroad - with us you'll go.

'Guard! Look to your prisoners; back to camp!
The man in the grass - can he mount and away?
Why, how he groans!' 'Bad inward bruise-
Might lug him along in the ambulance.'
'Coals to Newcastle! Let him stay.
Boots and saddles! - our pains we lose,
Nor care I if Mosby hear the news!'

But word was sent to a house at hand,
And a flask was left by the hurt one's side.
They seized in that same house a man,
Neutral by day, by night a foe -
So charged his neighbor late, the Guide.
A grudge? Hate will do what it can;
Along he went for a Mosby-man.

No secrets now; the bugle calls;
The open road they take, nor shun
The hill; retrace the weary way.
But one there was who whispered low,
'This is a feint - we'll back anon;
Young Hair-Brains don't retreat, they say;
A brush with Mosby is the play!'

They rode till eve. Then on a farm
That lay along a hill-side green,
Bivouacked. Fires were made, and then
Coffee was boiled; a cow was coaxed
And killed, and savory roasts were seen;
And under the lee of a cattle-pen
The guard supped freely with Mosby's men.

The ball was bandied to and fro;
Hits were given and hits were met;
'Chickamauga, Feds - take off your hat!'
'But the Fight in the Clouds repaid you, Rebs!'
'Forgotten about Manassas yet?'
Chatting and chaffing, and tit for tat,
Mosby's clan with the troopers sat.

'Here comes the moon!' a captive cried;
'A song! What say? Archy, my lad!'
Hailing are still one of the clan
(A boyish face with girlish hair),
'Give us that thing poor Pansy made
Last year.' He brightened, and began;
And this was the song of Mosby's man:

Spring is come; she shows her pass -
Wild violets cool!
South of woods a small close grass -
A vernal wool!
Leaves are a'bud on the sassafras-
They'll soon be full;
Blessings on the friendly screen -
I'm for the South! Says the leafage green.

Robins! fly, and take your fill
Of out-of-doors -
Garden, orchard, meadow, hill,
Barns and bowers;
Take your fill, and have your will -
Virginia's yours!
But, bluebirds! Keep away, and fear
The ambuscade in bushes here.

'A green song that,' a sergeant said;
'But where's poor Pansy? Gone, I fear.'
'Ay, mustered out at Ashby's Gap.'
'I see; now for a live man's song;
Ditty for ditty - prepare to cheer.
My bluebirds, you can fling a cap!
You barehead Mosby-boys - why - clap!'

Nine Blue-coats went a-nutting
Slyly in Tennessee-
Not for chestnuts - better than that-
Hugh, you bumble-bee!
Nutting, nutting -
All through the year there's nutting!

A tree they spied so yellow,
Rustling in motion queer;
In they fired, and down they dropped -
Butternuts, my dear!
Nutting, nutting-
Who'll 'list to go a-nutting?

Ah! Why should good fellows foe men be?
And who would dream that foes they were -
Larking and singing so friendly then -
A family likeness in every face.
But Captain Cloud made sour demur:
'Guard! Keep your prisoners in the pen,
And let none talk with Mosby's men.'


That captain was a valorous one
(No irony, but honest truth),
Yet down from his brain cold drops distilled,
Making stalactites in his heart -
A conscientious soul, forsooth;
And with a formal hate was filled
Of Mosby's band; and some he'd killed.

Meantime the lady rueful sat,
Watching the flicker of a fire
Where the Colonel played the outdoor host
In brave old hall of ancient Night.
But ever the dame grew shyer and shyer,
Seeming with private grief engrossed -
Grief far from Mosby, housed or lost.

The ruddy embers showed her pale.
The Soldier did his best devoir:
'Some coffee? -no? - cracker? -one?'
Cared for her servant - sought to cheer:
'I know, I know - a cruel war!
But wait - even Mosby'll eat his bun;
The Old Hearth - back to it anon!'

But cordial words no balm could bring;
She sighed, and kept her inward chafe,
And seemed to hate the voice of glee -
Joyless and tearless. Soon he called
An escort: 'See this lady safe
In yonder house. - Madam, you're free.
And now for Mosby. - Guide! With me.'

('A night-ride, eh?') 'Tighten your girths!
But, buglers! Not a note from you.
Fling more rails on the fires - ablaze!'
('Sergeant, a feint - I told you so -
Toward Aldie again. Bivouac, adieu!')
After the cheery flames they gaze,
Then back for Mosby through the maze.

The moon looked through the trees, and tipped
The scabbards with her elfin beam;
The Leader backward cast his glance,
Proud of the cavalcade that came-
A hundred horses, bay and cream:
'Major! Look how the lads advance -
Mosby we'll have in the ambulance!'

'No doubt, no doubt: - was that a hare? -
First catch, then cook; and cook him brown.'
'Trust me to catch,' the other cried-
'The lady's letter! - A dance, man, dance
This night is given in Leesburgtown!'
'He'll be there too!' wheezed out the Guide;
'That Mosby loves a dance and ride!'

'The lady, ah! - the lady's letter -
A lady, then, is in the case,'
Muttered the Major. 'Ay, her aunt
Writes her to come by Friday eve
(To-night), for people of the place,
At Mosby's last fight jubilant,
A party give, thought able-cheer be scant.'

The Major hemmed. 'Then this night-ride
We owe to her? - One lighted house
In a town else dark .- The moths, begar!
Are not quite yet all dead!' 'How? how?'
'A mute, meek mournful little mouse! -
Mosby has wiles which subtle are -
But woman's wiles in wiles of war!'

'Tut, Major! By what craft or guile -'
'Can't tell! but he'll be found in wait.
Softly we enter, say, the town -
Good! Pickets post, and all so sure -
When - crack! The rifles from every gate,
The Gray-backs fire - dashes up and down -
Each alley unto Mosby known!'

'Now, Major, now - you take dark views
Of a moonlight night.' 'Well, well, we'll see,'
And smoked as if each whiff were gain.
The other mused; then sudden asked,
'What would you doing rand decree?'
I'd beat, if I could, Lee's armies - then
Send constables after Mosby's men.'

'Ay! ay! - you're odd.' The moon sailed up;
On through the shadowy land they went.
'Names must be made and printed be!'
Hummed the blithe Colonel. 'Doc, your flask!
Major, I drink to your good content.
My pipe is out - enough for me!
One's buttons shine - does Mosby see?

'But what comes here?' A man from the front
Reported a tree athwart the road.
'Go round it, then; no time to bide;
All right - go on! Were one to stay
For each distrust of a nervous mood,
Long miles we'd make in this our ride
Through Mosby-land. - Oh! with the Guide!'

Then sportful to the Surgeon turned:
'Green sashes hardly serve by night!'
'Nor bullets nor bottles,' the Major sighed,
'Against these moccasin-snakes-such foes
As seldom come to solid fight:
They kill and vanish; through grass they glide;
Devil take Mosby!'-his horse here shied.

'Hold! look-the tree, like a dragged balloon;
A globe of leaves-some trickery here;
My nag is right-best now be shy.'
A movement was made, a hubbub and snarl;
Little was plain-they blindly steer.
The Pleiades, as from ambush sly,
Peep out-Mosby's men in the sky!

As restive they turn, how sore they feel,
And cross, and sleepy, and full of spleen,
And curse the war. 'Fools, North and South!'
Said one right out. 'O for a bed!
O now to drop in this woodland green!'
He drops as the syllables leave his mouth-
Mosby speaks from the undergrowth-

Speaks in a volley! Out jets the flame!
Men fall from their saddles like plums from trees;
Horses take fright, reins tangle and bind;
'Steady - Dismount - form - and into the wood!'
They go, but find what scarce can please:
Their steeds have been tied in the field behind,
And Mosby's men are off like the wind.

Sound the recall! Vain to pursue -
The enemy scatters in wilds he knows,
To reunite in his own good time;
And, to follow, they need divide-
To come lone and lost on crouching foes:
Maple and hemlock, beech and lime,
Are Mosby's confederates, share the crime.

'Major,' burst in a bugler small,
'The fellow we left in Loudon grass -
Sir slyboots with the inward bruise,
His voice I heard - the very same -
Some watch word in the ambush pass;
Ay, sir, we had him in his shoes -
We caught him - Mosby - but to lose!'

'Go, go! - these saddle-dreamers! Well,
And here's another. - Cool, sir, cool!'
'Major, I saw them mount and sweep,
And one was humped, or I mistake,
And in the skurry dropped his wool.'
'A wig! go fetch it: - the lads need sleep;
They'll next see Mosby in a sheep!

'Come, come, fall back! Reform your ranks -
All's jackstraws here! Where's Captain Morn?-
We've parted like boats in a raging tide!
But stay - the Colonel - did he charge?
And comes he there? 'Tis streak of dawn;
Mosby is off, the woods are wide-
Hist! there's a groan - this crazy ride!'

As they searched for the fallen, the dawn grew chill;
They lay in the dew: 'Ah! Hurt much, Mink?
And - yes - the Colonel! 'Dead! but so calm
That death seemed nothing - even death,
The thing we deem everything heart can think;
Amid wilding roses that shed their balm,
Careless of Mosby he lay - in a charm!

The Major took him by the Hand -
Into the friendly clasp it bled
(A ball through heart and hand he rued):
'Good-bye' and gazed with humid glance;
Then in a hollow reverie said
'The weakness thing is lustihood;
But Mosby' - and he checked his mood.

'Where's the advance? - cut off, by heaven!
Come, Surgeon, how with your wounded there?'
'The ambulance will carry all.'
'Well, get them in; we go to camp.
Seven prisoners gone? For the rest have care.'
Then to himself, 'This grief is gall;
That Mosby! - I'll cast a silver ball!'

'Ho!' turning -'Captain Cloud, you mind
The place where the escort went - so shady?
Go search every closet low and high,
And barn, and bin, and hidden bower -
Every covert - find that lady!
And yet I may misjudge her - ay,
Women (like Mosby) mystify.

'We'll see. Ay, Captain, go - with speed!
Surround and search; each living thing
Secure; that done, await us where
We last turned off. Stay! fire the cage
If the birds be flown. 'By the cross-road spring
The bands rejoined; no words; the glare
Told all. Had Mosby plotted there?

The weary troop that wended now -
Hardly it seemed the same that pricked
Forth to the forest from the camp:
Foot-sore horses, jaded men;
Every backbone felt as nicked,
Each eye dim as a sick-room lamp,
All faces stamped with Mosby's stamp.

In order due the Major rode -
Chaplain and Surgeon on either hand;
A riderless horse a negro led;
In a wagon the blanketed sleeper went;
Then the ambulance with the bleeding band;
And, an emptied oat-bag on each head,
Went Mosby's men, and marked the dead.

What gloomed them? What so cast them down,
And changed the cheer that late they took,
As double-guarded now they rode
Between the files of moody men?
Some sudden consciousness they brook,
Or dread the sequel. That night's blood
Disturbed even Mosby's brotherhood.

The flagging horses stumbled at roots,
Floundered in mires, or clinked the stones;
No rider spake except aside;
But the wounded cramped in the ambulance,
It was horror to hear their groans -
Jerked along in the woodland ride,
While Mosby's clan their reverie hide.

The Hospital Steward - even he -
Who on the sleeper kept this glance,
Was changed; late bright-black beard and eye
Looked now hearse-black; his heavy heart,
Like his fagged mare, no more could dance;
His grape was now a raisin dry:
'Tis Mosby's homily - Man must die.

The amber sunset flushed the camp
As on the hill their eyes they fed;
The picket dumb looks at the wagon dart;
A handkerchief waves from the bannered tent -
As white, alas! The face of the dead:
Who shall the withering news impart?
The bullet of Mosby goes through heart to heart!

They buried him where the lone ones lie
(Lone sentries shot on midnight post) -
A green-wood grave-yard hid from ken,
Where sweet-fern flings an odor nigh -
Yet held in fear for the gleaming ghost!
Though the bride should see threescore and ten,
She will dream of Mosby and his men.

Now halt the verse, and turn aside -
The cypress falls athwart the way;
No joy remains for bard to sing;
And heaviest dole of all is this,
That other hearts shall be as gay
As hers that now no more shall spring:
To Mosby-land the dirges cling.

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[9] O, Moon, My Sweet-heart!

O, Moon, My Sweet-heart!
[LOVE POEMS]

POET: MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR

POEMS

1 Passion And Compassion / 1
2 Affection
3 Willing To Live
4 Passion And Compassion / 2
5 Boon
6 Remembrance
7 Pretext
8 To A Distant Person
9 Perception
10 Conclusion
10 You (1)
11 Symbol
12 You (2)
13 In Vain
14 One Night
15 Suddenly
16 Meeting
17 Touch
18 Face To Face
19 Co-Traveller
20 Once And Once only
21 Touchstone
22 In Chorus
23 Good Omens
24 Even Then
25 An Evening At ‘Tighiraa’ (1)
26 An Evening At ‘Tighiraa’ (2)
27 Life Aspirant
28 To The Condemned Woman
29 A Submission
30 At Midday
31 I Accept
32 Who Are You?
33 Solicitation
34 Accept Me
35 Again After Ages …
36 Day-Dreaming
37 Who Are You?
38 You Embellished In Song
39 You Smiled
40 O, Destiny
41 Attachment For Beauty
42 Illusion
43 The Night Is Passing
44 The Night Of Aghan
45 You Are Away
46 To The Beloved
47 Birhin
48 Waiting
49 Yearning
50 Fill With Love
51 Vigil
52 Deception
53 No More
54 Light The Lamps
55 Lust For Life
56 The Man
57 Who Are You?
58 You (3)
59 Dont Be Hard-Hearted
60 The Beam
61 To the Moon
62 The Beauty Of The Sleeping Moon
63 Who Says …?
64 Clouds Have Hovered
65 Request
66 In Moonlight
67 The Moon And You
68 What Wrong I Did?
69 Stay A While
70 Conviction
71 In Expectation
72 No Grievance
73 The Song Of Separation
74 Light The Lamp
75 Thanks
76 Sleep
77 Restless Within
78 My Moon
79 We Had Met
80 Eclipse
81 Helplessness
82 Attrac tion
83 A Mirage
84 Moon And Stone — 1
85 Moon And Stone — 2
86 Dont Know Why?
87 Down The Memory Lane
88 Company
89 O, Moon My Sweet-heart!
90 Concealment
91 Dont Realize Lie This
92 So, To Meet You
93 Self-Confession
94 The Blessedness Of Man
95 The Saffron Of Your Maang
96 Your Reminiscence
97 Remembrance
98 In Awaiting
99 The Result
100 Welcome

 


(1) PASSION AND
COMPASSION / 1
All things are forgotten...
Except
Those moments of passion
Soaked in intimacy
And those experienced moments
Of the blazing flames of relationships!

The bonds of affection
Among men
Are the living commitments
Which bind them together
In their common path.
They are only remembered!
Forever.

Now and then
They shower upon
An awakened lonely moment of night
Caught in the grip of pain,
And in the sinking weary heart,
Heavy and detached,
Turning into tears
Divine.
 

(2) AFFECTION
They are neither rare
Nor precious
Not at all available
On earth or in heaven
Tears... of unique love,
Of the soul
Of expanse unfathomable!

A dark cloud of tears surges
From the deep undiscovered
Pilgrimage of the heart,
And then...
At that moment when
The splendour of holy feelings
Spreads on the face –
Both eyes filled with tears,
The edge of the sari1 wipes them away!
 
1 Length of cloth worn by Indian women.

(3) WILLING TO LIVE
Suddenly
Today, when I saw you
I want to live further!

Passing through
The solitary path of life
Long and difficult,
Burning every moment,
In the realty of life
And in its blazing flames,
Suddenly

Today,
When I saw you
I want to drink
A bit more of poison!
In this life
Brimming with bitterness
I want to live further!

Until now
O worldly delight!
Where were you?
O you the lotus -blue!
 

(4) PASSION AND COMPASSION / 2
You
Create music [rhythm]
in heart,
I
Will sing
The song of life!

In this way
Let our age go on
dwindling,
Let the throbbing breaths
In our hearts
Move on!
Let the waving wick of love
Go on burning
In both of our hearts!
Let the mutual emotion
And compassion
Of our living souls
Go on cherishing!

You
Tell a story
Of enchanting love,
Listening which
I
Can sleep
Peacefully!
for a while!
And lose myself
In sweet and charming dreams
Forsaking my
Entire grief!

You
Make your tears of love
Overflow towards me,
I
Will make
The splendour of heaven
To stoop down
At your feet!
 

(5) BOON
Reminded I am
Of your love!

On one day
You, on your own accord
Bestowed upon me
A world of silvery beauty and charm!

Eye-catching festoons!
Were decorated
At each and every door!

Reminded I am
Of your love
A gift, life-like!
 

(6) REMEMBRANCE
Reminded I am
Of your words of solace!

Broken
By fatal blows of misfortune
I came to you
To get consolation
In your lap!

O My sweet maiden
Brimming with compassion
And with unbridled emotion
At once
On your own accord
You have fallen in love with me!

You have filled
My wounded and poisoned heart
With your sweet
sugar-candy lke words of peace!

Now you stand before me
And look at me
Opening the doors of your heart!

Beloved!
Reminded I am
Of your charming words of consolation!
 

(7) PRETEXT
I am reminded of
Your fake sulkiness!

To feel the happiness
Of persuasion
To fill the boring moments
Burdened by monotony
With ever new
Matchless
Colours of life,
I am reminded
Of your fake sulkiness!

To behold
Again and again
The past love
Of many a birth,
And through this pretext
To keep the auspicious lamp
Of our spiritual union
On the threshold!
I am reminded
Of your fake sulkiness!
I like very much
Your fake sulkiness full of love
Of bygone days!
 

(8) TO A DISTANT PERSON
Your recollection
is enough
For spending the rest of my life
Happily!

Never
Diminish the feelings
Of your remembrance,
The pangs of your separation
Are enough!

Until today
I have kept with care
The trust-treasure of your feelings
In my mind.
For living long
It is enough
Only to render them
Into sweet songs!
 

(9) PERCEPTION
Forget that
We met
Ever!
All the pictures painted
Were mere dreams!

Forget –
The colours,
The blooms,
The streams of desires
Experienced
Gushing through
The body and the mind!

Forget –
Every past moment,
And the music and the song
Sung and heard!
 

(10) CONCLUSION
In this life
There is nothing,
Nothing indeed
More beautiful than love,
Anywhere!
If birth is a blessing
It is because of this,
Indeed, because of this!
If the fragrant life is more bewitching
Than even fascination,
It is because of this!
In this life
There is nothing,
Nothing indeed
More comforting than love,
Anywhere!

Because there is love,
So this life has the scent of a flower,
Or else, it is a thorn in the heart,
Burning its way each moment!

In this life
There is nothing,
Nothing indeed
More difficult than love
Anywhere!
 

(11) YOU
You are the sparrow
Of my courtyard
You will fly away!

Now my house rings
With sweet harmony,
The nectar of love rains
From all sides,
I fear
Who knows when
You will leave and be lost!

As long as
We are together,
Let's hold hands,
For a few days at least,
Let's live together
As partners
In pleasure and pain,
Let's love each other,
You are the pathway of my life,
Who knows where and when
You will branch off.
 

(12) SYMBOL
Who knows when
You kept a bunch
Of entwined flowers
In my room
And left!

It is as if
You placed a mirror
Reflecting rays
Of myriad unfelt and new
Feelings
In my room
And were deceived
By yourself!

O!
The meaning of life
Suddenly changed
As if
Someone stumbling
Regained balance
With new feelings of love
And rising like huge new waves.
 

(13) YOU
Whenever you smile
you look more pleasing!
Why do you smile
over trifles?

Whenever you face the mirror
beau ideal
for make up
to put a bright moony dot
between your bow like eye-brows
on your hair free bright brow
you gloat
and look more pleasing!

Far away from the town then
lost in the memory of some one
when you float the lamps in the river
you look more pleasing,
gracile enchantress
you look more pleasing!
Time and again
when you hum
dulcet poignant tunes
of lovelorn songs
or sing sweet hymns,
you look more pleasing!

 

(14) IN VAIN

Day and night went astray, in every place,
To attain the world of happy heaven!

The buds bloomed or half-bloomed
When, swung to captivate the Madhup1!

Pined, in a lonely place
To get the gift of pleasurable aromatic body!

In life, what did and what not,
To get your love for a few moments!

Remain absorbed in perplexity continuously
To get the base-point of faith!

By putting the life at stake
Continued to play, knowing defeat as fore-decided!

 
1 A large black-bee

(15) One Night
Like a flash of lightning
You came in the dark sky of my life!

In my arms you swung
When swayed freely the month of saawan6!

Like a shruti9 tune you rang
When the kajali4 was heard outside!

Like the music of anklets you chimed
When the tri-yama10 became fragrant!

Standing near the tulsi11 in the courtyard
You shone resplendent, O the only one!

Like a flame you glowed
Coming in my forlorn home and courtyard!
 

(16) Suddenly
Today I remembered you,
My heart resounded with song!
As if the sound of Anhad1 echoed in my heart!
After years,
O, after years!

Your company was the only truth,
Your hand the only protection,
Everything has disappeared, but
The ecstasy of each lived moment remains!

Ages have entered oblivion,
Sowing dreams in nights,
But those sweet images
Have always inhabited my life!
 

(17) MEETING
Since
We knew each other -
Involuntarily,
Sweet songs began to flow
From my mute lips.
The first time
I saw you,
My eyes were lost in you,
Hope soared
The heart spread wings
And wished
To touch the sky.
 


(18) TOUCH
O
Innocent!
Your soft cool
Fingers
Touched
My forehead -
That moment,
I thought no more
Of my problems.

In my heart
Suddenly burst forth
Thousands of
Morning fresh flowers ~
And faded
The countless thorns
And desert bushes
Of my path.
 

[19] FACE TO FACE
Well talk
to our hearts content,
in one another’s embrace
will talk
throughout the night,
well utter words
to our hearts content!

On the simple honest surface of faith
we of alike characteristics
will open the complexes of inferiority
the sloughs of doubt,
easily with open heart!

Well live tonight
to our hearts content,
drink the vessels
of nectar!
 

(20) CO-TRAVELLER
Crossed the rugged
uneven path of life
long path
together as one!
Footpaths or highways wide
chasms or circular heights of mountains,
traversed
together as one
the path of life!
even for a moment no sigh or moan!
Far from misery / far from inferiority
howsoever helpless!
Not even a wrinkle on forehead!
Travelled the horrible path,
the path of life
together as one.
With the dust of whirlwinds
or foot prickling thorns –
Never stopped!
In scorching sun,
in deep descending dense dark well
were never tired!
Drenched to the bone kept on traveling,
holding hand in hand tied hands
together as one.
Traversed
the unfamiliar
path of life
long path!

 

(21) ONCE AND ONCE, ONLY
Loving wandering eyes two
Should see me -
Once and once,
Only!

Two
Love-shaken hands
Should take hold of me -
Once and once,
Only!

Serpentine arms two
Should enfold me -
Once and once,
Only!
Two
Inflamed blazing lips
Should kiss me -
Once and once,
Only!

 

(22) TOUCHSTONE
Were some sweet-scented
Warm-ray of love
To touch
Me -
Wax I am!

Were some ‘Mugdha’1
Chakori2
Innocent
Impatient
Stray
Eyes two
Glanced
Me —
Moon I am!
 

1 Straight-forward youthful girl.
2 2 Red-legged partridge. According to the poetic lore, ‘chakori’ loves the moon.

(23) IN CHORUS
Come, you sweet-throated
Songstress, sing out
the life’s thirst.
May the whole creation
resound with seven notes,
the lonely path may
become an orchestral board!

Bring various instruments
of melodious music,
play on them;
bring the solemn drum,
the lyre and, the divine surbahar1.

Sing, ye, O! Sweet-throated one!
Sing out the life’s thirst.

 
[1 A musical instrument like guitar.]


(24) GOOD OMENS
What unknown does
make my heart
fill with delight today
Since morning!

All of a sudden
A melodious note,
the right eye throbs
intermittently perforce!

At a far off crest
there spreads a strange
deep golden glow,
A red rose has
bloomed for the first
time in the flower vase!

God knows to what
unknown self-good
this is a pretty prelude!

The body-jasmine
laden with flowers of thrills!
Possibly, we may meet today!

 

(25) EVEN THEN
As an unexpected guest
you came to mind
suddenly!

I know –
I wasnt preprepared for your
overwhelming welcoming
with garland of buds,
and affixing festoons on every door,
eager every moment
awaiting!

You, the dear one,
a visitor!
Say –
have I not been
a receptionist of yours
as ever?

Im overjoyed,
appear
on my unsophisticated heart-land
simple one!
Ominous moment,
am thankful, grateful!

But,
Why this coyness?

Stay a while
let me feel
these extremely invaluable moments!

I know –
youre a roving,
a guest
how could you be tethered
to the tender trap
of human love?

Eh! even then...
a little... supplication
even then!
 

(26) AN EVENING AT ‘TIGHIRA’1
(Sketch: One)

In the placid water of
the Tighira dam
your fair face
mysteriously, floating unblinking
looks at me!

Lifting sturdy, fair, muscular arms
the circle-tipped fingers
moving on the red palm
of your hand
invite me from
the far off span of the Tighira dam!

I,
who on the bank.
Look at the beautiful image
wearing a binoculars
on lusty, heavy eyes!
 

1 A drinking water reservoir in Gwalior town (M..P.)


(27) AN EVENING AT ‘TIGHIRA’
(Sketch: Two)

On the narrow bridge of the Tighira
bowed-eyes
hesitant
you!

Waving hair
in the blowing strong wind,
silhouetting
the sturdy limbs,
fluttering
end of kanjivaram1 saree,
what an unsuccessful strategy
of two smart hands!

Slowly, gently
move
naked, flabby, fair feet,
a queer, dream-like,
pleasant, romantic walk!
 

1 A town in Tamilnadu, where these sarees are manufactured.

(87) LIFE ASPIRANT
Dense darkness
heaving sighs the wind
horrid sky spread like curse,
very chilly moments!
But, live on this hope –
some one may light
like sun-ray
love-laden
golden lucky lamp!

On a desolate path
silent solitary heart you
body like burden
futile life!
But, move on, on this hope –
at some moment
long-awaited stranger’s feet
may create music!

Lost is the Spring,
Autumn merely Autumn,
flowers turned into thorns
dreams drenched in dust!
O suicider!
Shut not the doors and windows,
some equally tortured
wandering soul
may dye the room
by reciting
a heavenly nectarlike song!
 

(29) TO THE CONDEMNED WOMAN
O fallen woman
Condemned by the world
Come!
Me would give you cinnabar
To wish you blessedness!

O you,
Who have only known
Deep sighs and wailings
Me would bless your voice
With sweet melodies!
O you,
Who are rich
With the ironies of life,
Come,
Me would bless you
With the mirths of life!

O you,
Who are drooping
Being excommunicated,
Come!
O come,
Me would give you
The abode of lotuses blue!

O you,
Who are deprived of every-thing,
Mocked-at woman!
Come,
O come,
Me would feelingly
Tickle my fingers
Into your rugged locks!
 

(30) A SUBMISSION

The flowers that fade away
Without beaming full smile
On the branches of the earth
Stir my questing spirit!

O my love, forgive me,
If I cannot sing these days
In thy praise.
Forgive me
If I cannot appreciate
The fragrance or the golden beauty
Of the physical mould.
Forgive me
If I cannot smile
At your enchanting beauty!

O my lovely love!
When the flowers are fading
And the world looks like a widow,
What meaning could there be
In the beauty-aids, or
The jingling of the ankle-bells?

Pray, Oh, Pray
That the buds may blossom
And the branches quiver with love!
 

(31) AT MIDDAY
At midday
despairing and crestfallen
I bemoan
I am not
by your side!

Lonely,
drowsy and dreamy
I peer constantly
at the path
through the door ajar!

The searing sun
blears the eyes more.
The sizzling, striding
wind herald
conveys your tidings.
Mute!
Perceiving your arrival
instantly springing up,
I enfold her in my arms
and clasp her
in a soothing, comfy embrace.

Alas!
With the waning noon
my agony
deepens more and more!
 

(32) I ACCEPT
O Large-eyed
The Khanjan1-eyed
Pretty one
The curse
That you have inflicted on me
..... I accept.

O bestower of benedictions!
The life-giver
The poisonous gift
That you have given me
..... I accept.
 
1 Wagtail; often used as a simile in Indian Literature for depicting
beautiful, playful eyes.

(33) WHO ARE YOU?
In the solitude of this darksome night
Who has poured
Into my poisonous, bitter self
The sweet words of great consolation —
Sounding like a charming musical note,
Coming from a distance,
Springing a pleasant surprise?

Oh, who is it
That opens the closed windows of my heart
To peep in
Like a spark in the dark clouds
Of a gloomy life?

Who is it
That moves
Into the charred sky, or
Into the sultry suffocating world,
Like the moist-laden east wind?

Oh, who is it
That stirs my consciousness
To mitigate my sufferings?
 


(34) SOLICITATION


Like a carved cameo
you are
having well chiseled limbs
and feature glowing profusely
with youthful glamour!

When the golden rays of dawn
smooched the spasmodic heaves
of your voluptuous body
your entire epidermis
got rejuvenesced
and the pulsating heart
suffused you with love
from top to toe.

A soulful onyx you are
flush with spontaneous love
and douched with intense emotions!

Please bestow on me
my cherished wish
of minimal pleasure of your lavish love
and a brief hug of your body!
Kindly fill my eager heart
with your surging love!
 

(35) ACCEPT ME
My wishes:
Like the twinkling stars
On the breast of the blue!

My passions:
Like the bright streams
Of the fast-flowing 'Bhagirathi'!
That rises from the Himalayas!

My feelings:
Like the most beautiful garlands
Of red roses
Fresh, fragrant and blossoming!

I offer these to you
In adoration;
O celestial Beauty!
Every little bit of my heart
Is filled with
Your beautiful golden rays!

Accept me,
O accept me,
Even in my life of mundane existence
I offer to you my purest love!
 
1 Name of the river Ganges.

(36) AGAIN, AFTER AGES ….
After ages,
All of a sudden isn’t you?
Lost in the world of dreams
Head, pillowed on arm
On the berth, you sleep!

Won’t you wake up?
My journey’s almost done....!
Open your eyes
Open your eyes,
Utter not a single word
to me, tho’
Have a look at me
And then
Feign sleep again.

After ages,
Now again
Getting new colour and sap fresh
Will bloom
Sun-withered flower!

After days numberless
Suddenly, so you are! !
 

(37) DAY-DREAMING
From morn till night
Nothing could I do
But set afloat in fancy's ocean
Lamps of long-long cherished dreams!
And draw living Ajanta frescoes
On the canvas, my heart!
How intensely I've been seized
By your beauty!

From morn till night
Nothing could I do
But wander in the Elysium — my thoughts
Like a traveller free from bonds!
Like a love-lorn bee
I've only kissed and kissed
The buds, bright, ravishing, drunk
And drenched in honey!
How tormented am I
By your beauty!

From morn till night
Nothing could I do
But release the innocent doves
In the firmament — my feelings
And soothe a heart
Ablaze in the raging fires of want
I wandered — wandered all the time
Engrossed in thoughts of you
How strongly seized am I
Body and soul
By your beauty!
 

(38) WHO ARE YOU?
Like redness of dawn
overcast the heart-sky,
who, you are?

Coloured the dull world with love,
Filled the mute world with sweet song,
Offered the golden world, so easily,
which is found only, in having a great fortune,
Like spring, perfumed the mango-groves,
who, you are?

Roaming in the lonely galleries of heart,
Swinging, embracing with fresh rays-arms,
Awoke my dream-beguiled deceptive life-conscience
by the act of caressing,
Allured me so much, like a sky-fairy,
who, you are?

Filled my void, dejected heart-lake
Gave tune to passion and compassion,
Shining new peaks of desires,
Made my love honest-auspicious-beautiful,
Charmed me so much,
O, pious!
who, you are?
 

(39) YOU EMBELLISHED IN SONG
You embellished my look in your song,
I'll embellish you in my heart with love!

Hue of tender feelings is filled,
Seeing it, fields light-green are blooming,
Don't give so much love, sustain a little,
When you inhabited me in your song
I shall stay you in my thoughts for ever!

You gave your arms to unsupported life,
You gave cloud-like shade to heated body,
And filled new desire to live,
You confessed your love in song
I shall express my heart — singing that song!
 

(40) YOU SMILED
You smiled, the lotus of my heart bloomed!
Seeing you, I rejoiced, I attained my attainable!

My moon! why did you raise
Tide in the ocean of life in such a way?
O, Beautiful lady! my ages' homeless love
Got support in you!
Now, a novice dream of love, inhabited in eyes!

O, charming cloud of Sawan1!
Why did you wet me like this?
O, Lightning! why you did so restlessly
embrace me in your arms with love?
May we never be detached, O, destiny! be kind!

 
1 The fifth month of the Indian Calendar (Rainy month)

(41) O, DESTINY
O, Destiny! the plant of my courtyard may not be dried!

It is the symbol of first sweet acquaintance,
May swing, wave and remain ever-green,
O, Destiny! the heart of my lover may not be hurt!

On the long rugged, lonely path
The life may pass joyfully,
O, Destiny! the heart of my heart-dweller
may never remain indifferent!

The world may never look us with ill-will,
The darkness of pain may go far away,
O, Destiny! my youth may never remain separation-burnt!

 
1The fifth month of the Indian Calendar (Rainy month)


(42) ATTACHMENT FOR BEAUTY
Glittering beauty of someone doesn’t allow me to sleep!

Enchanting last quarter of the night,
The world is covered with dense darkness,
With lively cold waves of love
Smiles, attractive simple face of someone!

Heavy pain that I got
Is a diamond for my poor heart,
Collyrium, with tears of pleasant love,
Glimmering, inexperienced simple life-time of someone!

Charmed peacock-like delighted heart,
Restless arms eager to embrace the sky,
How hard-felt is the fire of separation,
Disturbing, sweet fragrance-memory
of someone!
 

(43) ILLUSION
Like magnolia-perfume your memory is impregnated my breaths!

Jasmine-like elegant, delicate-bodied, where are you?
Where is your rainbow-like glittering coloured appearance?
Mesmerizing1 me, your charming beauty is overspreading!

You, are like Kalp-latika2 for all human imaginations,
Made life a garden, full of Java3 flowers,
Losing all, I only silently flowed the celestial Ganga of my soul!

Where are you, my illusion, true?
Aasavari4 of my heart, dhoop-chhanh5 of my contentment
I have adorned my way of life-gallery
with your life-paintings!

 
1 Madhumati-mad (Trance-state / Half-conscious state)
2 According to Indian mythology, the tree of Lord Indra's paradise, which yields anything desired.
3 A red flower used in worship the idol of goddess.
4 A musical mode.
5 Cloth in which wrap and waft are of different colours.

(44) THE NIGHT IS PASSING!
Your memory is haunting,
The night is passing!

Today, in such a solitude of life
I awake in your thoughts,
The whole creation has slept,
Earth is singing a lullaby!

Many sights swing in the eyes,
Your each past talk seems alive,
Even, your casual looks of bygone days
Are appearing pleasant this day!

We are flowing in the stream of time,
But, O, sweet-heart! have faith in love,
Tomorrow, creeping-plant of heart will flourish,
Which is fading how much, now!

 

(45) THE NIGHT OF AGHAN1
During this cool night of aghan; Oh, I missed you!

Since evening, the lonely heart is very cumbersome,
Somewhat faded is the lotus of life —
helplessness of what sort!
Not known, how far is the golden morn!

Losing the riches of dreams,
eyes are helpless, heavy and empty,
Looking the course of destiny, with drops of tears,
Heart is throbbing like the leaf of peepal2 tree!

The hem of Rohini3 is far; silent moon weeps,
Wide-spread moonlight-sea is searching every corner,
Whom to tell the secret of heart!

 
1 Ninth month of the Indian Calendar (Margsheersh)
2 A holy tree of Hindus.
3 According to Hindu mythology, wife of moon. Fourth amongst twenty-seven constellations.

(46) YOU ARE AWAY
Dear! far way you are,
my heart is immensely restless!

Environment somewhat is strange, today,
As if somebody has snatched the essence of life,
Am I so unfortunate
being myself is the cause of separation-pain!
Simply, regretting silently,
Life — a gloomy night!

Missing somewhere the luminous-garland,
Disturbed sawan1 is showering at the door,
All alone am I
During the extreme end of the night,
Although, awakened, but forgotten every thing,
Eyes don't fall asleep even for a moment!

 
1 The fifth month of the Indian Calendar (rainy month)

(47) TO THE BELOVED
Otherwise, to remain far, like this
Why did you live in my heart?

Way of life is unknown
With provisions nil,
Storm is raising in the sky, in the heart,
No peace even for a moment,
Otherwise, to bear the burden alone
Why did you so fix thyself in my thoughts?

Oh, the fireof life's dearths,
Is burning all around,
Depression is enclosed in my spirit,
Tired is the peacock of heart,
Otherwise, to burn so mutely
Why you impressed so much, the soul of my songs?

 

(48) BIRHIN1
O Dear, when will you spread
your innocent rosy smile!

Heart is out of sorts, lonely and very heavy,
O, merciful, touch my heart-beats,
This Birhin is waiting for you,
with heart full of life's burning pangs!

The vine of youth is fading in the sunlight,
Tell her about the sweet sensual love,
Wearing silver anklets
I wish to dance like a peahen to my heart's content!

Night is sleeping with her heart-stealer — Moon,
Every direction, like an emotional woman,
is vibrating with songs,
Hey, How to bear such an unknown sweet pain of heart!

 
1 A woman who is separated from her lover.

(49) WAITING
How many days passed
Dreams didn't come!

Entire night I remained wakeful,
Upset heart is unsteady like a peepal1-leaf,
Secret desires gathered and disappeared,
Dear husband didn't come!

Clouds making noise in the sky,
Peacocks dancing in forests — this and that,
My heart-stealer, Alas! has forgotten me,
Home didn't come!

Filling buds-flowers in the hem,
Set afloat lamps at the river-bank,
Longed eagerly to get the foot-dust,
Feet didn't come!

 
1 A holy tree of Hindus

(50) YEARNING
How much sweet dreams you bestowed,
But, arranged not the least love on earth!

Alone, I am searching in this world, for ages,
But, didn't get desired intimate friend anywhere,
Helplessly, time of life passed in hue and cry,
Couldn’t hear charming music for a moment,
You poured the milky oceans of smiles,
But, didn't drench a single heart with compassion!

On one side, you spread well adorned
colourful merriments of hundreds of springs,
And distributed, with both hands, in gratis
Jewels like Sun and Moon; bracelets of Star-flowers so,
But, on my prolific life-course
You didn't sow a single seed of sweetness!

 

(51) FILL WITH LOVE
O Dear, fill Sneh1 in my silently extinguishing lamp, this day!

The wick may shine, and splendour spread,
World of mine may turn into a fresh golden appearance,
Everlasting smile may play on tear-drenched visage,
To the life — silent-troubled-cursed —
Give love-boon of worldly pleasures!

The door of my heart is closed for ages,
Strayed away and wandered in darkness — my love,
Every string of my life-harp is broken,
Sinking in the worldly ocean,
Give him arms, give him voice of faith!

 
1 Love, Oily substance

(52) VIGIL
Far somewhere, continuously
Sweetly, the harp is being played!

Intoxicating night has come,
Every quarter is intoxicated,
Remembrance recurrent in the mind,
Consciousness immersed in the thoughts of beloved!
The world is sleeping silently,
Lost in sweet dreams,
In absence of water-like look of the beloved
eyes transfigured themselves into fish!

Filled with hope and despair,
Infused with thirst of life,
The heart is restless, silent and sad!

(Every moment is weeping,
Oh, what sort of calamity has fallen down
As if everything of mine was snatched!

 

(53) DECEPTION
Whom I thought boon
Same became a curse!

New moon had just glittered,
Clouds, at once, spread in the sky,
As soon as the garden became fragrant
Thunderbolts flashed on the head,
Whom I considered propitious and sacred
Same became a bitter sin!

Getting whom I decorated dreams of life,
They became only ironies of fate,
On whom gold reflected bright light,
Same are smeared now with ashes,
Whom I considered the essence of pleasure
Same became more and more painful!

 

(54) NO MORE
On my sky, no more, the moon will rise!

In your memory, the whole life will pass,
Ought to cross the dark lonely path,
How this load of sad life will be sustained!
Losing the raptures;
calm, helpless, mute, fruitless heart,
Losing the waves of emotions,
perpetually immersed in sadness, poor heart,
The tide of excitement
will not remain in the ocean of life, any more!

Love-delighted, joy-filled, rainbow-coloured Holi,
Passion-drenched Pancham Rag1, echoing in the garden,
Never known, destiny will swallow, this way!

 
1 The fifth note in music; acknowledged as the note of cuckoo's cooing.

(55) LIGHT THE LAMPS
The storm is petering out
Now in the new abode
Do light up a lamp — anew!

Dreams - their dome
Once lit up with moon and stars
Lies deflated — torn!
The harp-strings, all pieces
The ones that emitted melodies once!
I want to forget all
So please sing me a song
Fresh and sweet
In a new strain!

Ask me not
How many times
Did I fall and rise
On the stream of life
Many a time
My emotions lay dead in dust
And often soared in the blue,
Yet do I know —
I have drained the cup of poison to the dregs,
Sure do I know —
Unshakable is its effect!
But why don't you
To my lips bring the flask of nectar!

The desire still burns,
And the portals of heart
A tide of laughter knocks,
Dear! the love is still alive with all its aspirations,
Steeped in the flowery sweetness of spring
Several nights of enchanting mad moon still remain,
Talks of faith and betrayal
And thousand other trivial things!
Smile and smile a little
And be with me, my company!
 

(56) LUST FOR LIFE
The man lives on
By the cravings of love!

The lightning crash near him,
The tornadoes roar and rage around him,
But a faith mysterious
Overbrims his heart,
And sleeps he cosy and comfortable
In the shade benign of dreams and visions splendid!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!

In front of him mountain peaks dizzy,
Around him yawn chasms deep
But fired with faith divine
The man moves on
To get comrades genial
On his way eternal!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!

The death's orchestra plays on,
The mango-groves once jubilant and gay
Are silent and deserted now;
But with faith divine
In the midst of tears and sighs
The man laughs on!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!
 

(57) THE MAN
Finding the beloved's lap
Where is the man, hasn't fallen asleep!
Where is the man hasn't lost himself
Having got the beloved's love.
Hero is he, who hasn't shed a tear
And has treasured the anguish in the heart!

 

(58) WHO ARE YOU?
Who are you long-lost in waiting,
So awake in the dark mid-night?

Clouds of darkness are fleeing fast
From end to end of universe,
The atmosphere is calm and quiet
And without a wink
The stars stare in sky
Who are you, sweet! so awake
In the company of galaxy of stars?
Whose lamp is it burning
With light new at the door?
It is illuminating the path,
Light is reaching out far beyond,
What is this lamp, flickering alone
In the face of the furious wind?

Again and again to-day
Strikes somebody the chords of heart-lyre
And from black lustrous eyes now and then
Flows down love on both the cheeks,
What is that agony
Twitching the heart of lotus full awake at night?
 

(59) YOU
Truly, how innocent you are!

Gestures are beyond your comprehension,
Sweet feelings of your heart can't be perceived,
Engrossed in yourself, indeed you are
The companion of supernatural fairies!

You are not formal in the least, for a moment,
Even then, heaven knows, how you remain in my mind!
Becoming a spring-air,
You loiter — forest to forest!

 

(60) DON'T BE HARD-HEARTED
Dear! don't look towards me
with such extraordinary large eyes!

Don't reflect so much lunar-attraction,
on flooded heart,
I touch your feet, please take aside
the lustre of your beauty,
Or, throwing tie of silky rays,
arrest me in your eyes!

No more shower the pleasant love-nectar
on the surface of my mind,
This is not proper, after enchanting,
pine the heart, like this,
Allow me, at least to touch
your sparkled flower-marked hem!

In this rainfall of beauty,
impressed-wet-heart is forgetting the way,
Mind, you shall be responsible,
if overflowing ocean of youth breaks limits,
Will you come nearer,
don't be so hard-hearted!

 

(61) THE BEAM
The innocent beam of the moon
is descending with joy!

Seeing the whole creation slept,
On the unhindered silvery sky-route
Taking upon body-parts,
cautiously putting the speedy footsteps!

Remaining free, trampled the route,
Every village, house, street and city,
Neither remained a little calm-quiet,
nor performed her routine night-sleep!

 

(62) TO THE MOON
Please smile not and tempt me thus,
Or else I shall kiss your cheeks!

Yes, lavishly endowed with beauty you are
Your graceful eyes reflect the dream world of happiness
Where dance the naked damsels
Where new beauties enter and add to glamour
Go and join the beauty parade
Please shed not your lustre here!

How stealthy are your steps
Like a thief you traversed the sky
But no sooner the golden sun withdraws
All your lustre bewitching spreads out,
Cover not your limbs with attempt so vain!

For ages past I have seen you so mute
Tell me please, I ask, ''Who are you? ''
Now never shall you escape from view
Strewn is the entire court-yard with your treasure to-day
Please pause in your path and enshrine me softly in yyour heart!
 

(63) THE BEAUTY OF THE SLEEPING MOON
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!

So care-free physically,
Mentally so free from worries;
And so content with life
Holding somebody's loving 'Anchal1'!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!

With feelings all anew,
With imaginations all novel,
With desires all maiden;
And with a heart full of a world of dreams!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!

With happiness oozing out of every breath,
With hopes nectareous
And thirst eternal;
Clasping light luminous to his heart!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!

 
1Hem, Lap.

(64) WHO SAYS
Who says, my moon is not a living being?

My moon laughs and smiles excellently,
Plays and then hides herself far off,
Who says, my moon's heart doesn’t palpitate?

Throughout the night she also remembers someone,
Observe, she also sighs in separation, often,
Who says, my moon is not in full youth?

She ever gives to the world coolness,
She ever showers dense nectar-rain,
Who says, my moon is not able
to give sandalwood-like soothing sensations?

 


(65) CLOUDS HAVE HOVERED
Looking your intoxicating smile, clouds have gathered!
Feeling your eyes thirsty, clouds have hovered!

O, Young lady! your anklets are jingling,
Always, swing each pal1, your well-built, beautiful, delicate body,
The charm of your appearance is now no more tolerable,
Seeing for a blink only, eyes are arrested!

Jhumer2 shines on the span of your bright-red-fair forehead,
Your curly hair are flying frou-frou in the air,
Each limb of your beautiful body, bent with its own load,
Your flowered hem slips from the breast, over and over!

Hearing your song, the whole world faints,
Settling a world of much pleasure, it sleeps care-free,
Sinking in your song's tune, the ship of heart lost,
You overflow the stream of love — unknown and straight!

Indelible is, from my memory, your that meet at Panghat3, ,
O, beautiful-faced! being restless when I said, ''You are very naughty! ''
At that very moment your veil of shyness opened,
Your those wile less words were very charming and intoxicating!

 
1 Equal to 24 seconds.
2 An ornament worn on the head.
3 A quay from which people draw water.

(66) REQUEST
Dear, come and buzz
the chord of my dormant heart!

Resplendent moonlight is spread in sky and earth,
Night, as if lost in herself, is silent,
And how lovely you are — O, exciting lady!
Bring me under control
and fill intense passions in me, for a moment!

Intoxicating red are the beautiful lips.
Eyes are more innocent simple than a doe,
Body is fair-skinned — like lightening, glass and water,
Arms are like branches — new and fleshy,
Just now, hum a sweet new song
Full of life!

The world is more beautiful than heaven,
Every quarter is echoing,
Hey, this love is acceptable to the world,
O Dear Partner! long-awaited
sweet union-festival, now celebrate!

 

(67) IN MOONLIGHT
Bathe in new moonlight, bathe!

Today, stars slept, shutting their eyes,
A few are running towards the horizon,
Untied now our hearts' knots,
On the bed of beam, celebrate the love-night!

Gusts of wind singing union-songs,
Sweet notes have moved the heart,
New dreams are staying again,
Laugh and remove the curtain of hitch!

Youth awoke moving and smiling,
Unfolding and shying, came nearer,
Brought many respectful-persuasions,
Beautiful-faced! Don't hold yourself forcibly, any more!

Somebody embraced the black-bee,
Passionately slept in the odourous embrace,
Caressing with love, swung in the cradle,
O, bashful lady! Capture me too!

 

(68) THE MOON AND YOU
Standing on your roof
You, too may be gazing at the moon!

You too may be bathing
in the showers of the rays cool,
Looking with your eyes large
You may be comforting your restless heart,
And at times may be singing lightly
in a slow voice,
You too may be remembering someone
Ceaselessly at this moment!

You too may be talking sweet to yourself,
You may be embracing
someone unknowingly
And then may be smiling
at the frenzy,
You also may be full of intense passion
Of those loving moments!

You too may be making light
Your life so burdensome,
You too may be trilling
this lonesome youth,
Lost in yourself, restless
you may be longing for a bond,
You too may have habitat the world of dreams
In such a blessed moment!

 

(69) WHAT WRONG I DID
Tell, what wrong I did with you?

You were half-bloomed tender bud,
When you met me first by oversight,
I too had an experience insufficient,
It was difficult to control myself for a moment,
That's why, I accepted you as mine forever!

In panorama of life, the night was dark,
Both were lost in themselves, had no aim,
When I was standing alone and confused
Love! I found you surrendering yourself,
That moment, you offered me all your love,
preserved through ages!

You did not stop my embracing hand,
You were free from any anxiety,
surely, there was no deception,
You came in my lock-up, without uttering a word,
As if I got the boon in its body-form,
How simple, mute, innocent, crazy the heart was!

 

(70) STAY A WHILE
Pahar after pahar come and go
But, O, night, you
Stay awhile!

I love you most
You can ask the twinkling stars,
I have kept awake
with dozy, heavy eyelids,
For I have become one
With your beauty’s charm!

I am the very one
To whom was one day dedicated
the beauty’s wealth by someone
In your presence!

Thats why I love you most,
For you have, along with me,
Drunk the nectar of beauty,
That very intoxicated fervour
Seems to have spread
Here, there and everywhere!
So — Stay awhile, O night,
You leave me not,
Leave me not!

 
1 Duration of three hours.

(71) CONVICTION
Full well do I know
A day is to come
When before my eager eyes
With a pitcher of nectar you will come!
As comes a rain-laden cloud
And hovers in the sky!
You would open the door
With hands as fair as mirror
And stand in modesty
With your innocent cheeks
Blushing red and rosy
Your eyes would tell me
Who-knows-what in language mute!
The moon thrills 'chakore'1
At dawn, lilies open up
So your face glamorous
Shall make some one restive
And he will be lost
In dreams sweet and bygone!
But soon he shall beckon you
And ask, ''How are you?
When did you come? ''
What shall your answer be?
Perhaps none, except two deep sighs
And then you may put
Your 'Anchal'2 on your eyes!

 
1 A bird enamoured of moon according to Indian myth.
2 Hem, Lap.

(72) IN EXPECTATION
Until today
I sang for your love
and spent my life
throbbing in your remembrance,
In your expectation shall I bear this pain ever?

Whenever I saw you in a dream
spoke out 'you will come today'!
The day passed, the night passed
but the clouds of happiness never cast,
Will I ever flow restless
only in imagination?

Soul impatient, life vanquished,
dumb is my voice now,
Recollect that very happy tale
of gone away days,
Shall I only narrate fable
of the thirsty wants?

 

(73) NO GRIEVANCE
No grievance have I against you today!

The helpless eyes conceal the whole secret
The pleasant pictures of our meeting
Are enshrined in the heart,
I think over and over again think I
Far far away a new path search I!
No habit though have I of forgetfulness Dear!
No grievance have I against you today!

Willingly or unwillingly sweet dreams
I sometimes enjoy;
Thus intoxicated I conjure up your image
No harm if I smile,
And create a new world of my own;
No mischief indeed is this!
No grievance have I against you today!

Sometimes even a tree embraces a creeper lone,
The tired Lotus also takes the Bee in the cosy petal-fold
When she shield and shrank
Your memory tormented me all the more
Beauty of the universe is nobody's pawn!
No grievance have I against you today!
 

(74) THE SONG OF SEPARATION
Your devoted love is now with you!

The life of mine is the night of Amavas1,
It's only a matter of repentance,
Today, my home is deserted,
Humming on silent lips is the song of separation,
But, happy I am —
A pleasant world is now around you!

I was destined for the mirage,
Even the dainty nectar turned sharp poison,
Near acquaintance has now become tentacles,
Previous meetings became painful, at this moment,
But, happy I am —
Auspicious adornment is now in your lot!

Life is full of tornadoes,
Without sneh2, how long the lamp will alight,
The terrible tide is advancing
The helm, which was in hand, has fallen,
But, happy I am —
You stand on firm foundation, now!

 
1 The last day of the dark half of a month.
2 Love, Oily substance.

(75) LIGHT THE LAMP
In my desolate home —
Darkness of ages is overspread,
Life-lamp was lighted — it's a dream,
As much affection is in you
I'll know — it is mine
If you kindle the lamp in my distressed heart!

What's this life from ages? — a desert,
Exists on the earth like a furnace,
Lonely path, again with full of waves of mirage,
I'll accept — there is a ocean of passion in you
If you bathe my sterile heart!

Each moment, coming and going
only of sandy storms,
What being built? — even the remaining collapses
I'll understandthe value of your songs
If you amuse my hearta dry-pond!

It'll not be possible to remain alive
Even for a moment, for the body and heart,
of the wax-like vein,
No remedy, only to bear assaults silently,
I'll realize — the magic of tenderness
If you tickle the wounds of my stony heart!

 

(76) THANKS
You bestowed
blooming-lotus-like transient smile to closed lips,
Kind of you, thanks!

Full-blown spring was scattered
On every branch of the world,
When each whit of the earth played fresh Holi,
Echoing my heart's silent space, you sang a melodious song!
Kind of you, thanks!

Dense-open woods covered in cool rays of the full moon,
When new lamps of hope used to flicker,
in the hearts of everyone,
In my darkness of ages,
you brought that glimmering gold morn,
Kind of you, thanks!

When, full of intense passions, lovers play flutes,
for beloved persuasions,
Echoes of songs and jingle sound
when come from each house,
Your presence, for only a short duration,
inhabited my deserted heart-home!
Kind of you, thanks!

When the evening comes with life and love,
On every crossroad, fair of lovers'-meet followed,
Crushed with the aspersions of the world
You awake again my broken ego!
Kind of you, thanks!

 

(76) SLEEP
At this moment, my eyes are becoming sleepy!

Night — coming from the sky, is patting;
like mother's gentle hands,
The hem, engraved with bright stars, is spreading,
Drowsy eyes feeling comfortable,
Ripples of shining nectar
are trickling from the moon-like face!

The resonance of your affectionate melodious song
is being heard, in the shaking of flowers and branches,
That very music is reverberating
from the side by stones, rivers and rivulets,
Melody is soothing the heart with delighted feelings!

The gates of eyelids have closed, but dreaming as
I am sipping cool milk from someone's new breast,
Yes, well in senses too; know where am I,
A healthy fleshy, swaying-body-shadow is covering me!

 

(77) RESTLESS WITHIN
The heart is restless, today,
to talk something, Dear!

The monotonous prolonged silence
is burdensome, now,
When cool, wet, silvery ocean
is waving, continuously,
The heart is restless
To meet freely, Dear!

When young sprouts have overcast
in dry insipid creation,
Oh, I destined
only a solitary place,
The heart is restless
to unfold some secrets, Dear!

 

(78) MY MOON
My moon is away from me!

Solitary night is crying in empty sky,
The darkness is pouring down from all directions,
That's why, the brightness of lily is without glow!

God knows, in which loneliness writhes The Innocent!
There is a great risk to her life — Oh, she might have not taken poison,
Since, she is imprisoned in a towering mansion, and helpless!

These eyes are looking continuously, with joy, hope and trust,
to each and every ray of light, rising in the horizon,
Because, it is true, she has certainly the yearning to meet!

 

(79) WE HAD MET
We had met, for some moments,
on the path of life!
The heavy burden of monotonous silence
had been lessened!

The deep dark smoke of tiredness and melancholy
had been emitted,
Acquiring you, pleasure waves waved
on the deserted heart and mind!

But, did the way of life
ever become man's destination?
Could ever remain overcast
cloudiness in the sky of happy Saawan? 1

Just found out, how rare and valuable
are the moments of love,
Time and again, still resound
pieces of your song!

 
1 The fifth month of the Indian Calendar (Rainy month)

(80) ECLIPSE
Which eclipse has afflicted
My simple-hearted moon today?
In what a hardship
The sky’s bird is caught?

The dejected beams
Spreading in the silent atmosphere,
The hue is changed
As if the cloud has risen to envelop the sky, !

The distance thick darkness
Approaches nearer and nearer,
The wind sings the pathetic song,
Of deepest pain!

All the stars are standing
being speechless and eyes filled with tears,
Deeply distressed thinking constantly
to whom they should call!

O, moon! I am with you,
Let me know your agony,
I am yours, will ever remain yours,
Do not conceal anything!
 

(81) HELPLESSNESS
Far, from the sky, looking the Moon!

Being awakened, passed the mid-night,
But, couldn't express indistinct heart's desire,
With tearful eyes, looking the Moon!

Though, heart is appearing calm outwardly,
But within, is suppressed intense storm of youth,
Feeling the pain of separation, looking the Moon!

The smile is spreading in the whole sky,
But, how helpless, unfulfilled the yearning is,
With heavy body, looking the Moon!

 


(82) ATTRACTION
As nearer I come to you, Moon
The more you move away, cautiously!

Tell me before, will you not let me reach?
Oh, say already, you will not accept my love,
The more I need you O, Moon!
The more you change and move away!

Will you not ever come in my lonely life?
Will not like smiling in bonds of love?
The more I try to bind you O, Moon!
The more restless you become and move away!

Why do you look continuously, standing,
from the above?
Why do you throw your silken well-arranged rays?
As soon as, I, the wretched entangled inadvertently,
In same manner, you the Simple one! move away!

 

(83) A MIRAGE
One who loves the moon
heaves a sigh alone in all his life!

If it were not so,
why should one call her blemished?
Have a heart like a honey-bee
That's why never remain faithful to someone,
One who loves the moon
ruins his happy world!

If it were not so,
Why should you be far from human being?
Have a heart dry
never utter even a word sweet,
One who loves the moon
garlands himself with thorns
as if, of his own accord!

 

(84) MOON AND STONE — 1
Oh, Moon, you are stone-hearted!

There's no sense; loving you,
It's vain effort to persuade you,
It's useless to invoke one's tender feelings of life,
When you are not kind at all!

It's good for nothing to talk to you,
Only, passing the whole night awake,
Lethal, betraying, lie is your bond of love,
You want self-victory — that's all!

Self-absorbed, throwing the bright string,
What you see, at this side?
Supremo of Heaven! free inhabitant of the sky!
Oh, how does it concern you
Whether there is creation or destruction?

Your attraction is not true,
Your showering love is not true,
True is not, your refreshing silvery smile on lips,
You are engrossed in yourself, at present!

 

(85) MOON AND STONE — 2
Moon, you are not at all stony!

You have also a tender heart,
The affection is overflowing in full,
Very much emotional and agile, you are,
That's why, you are at close quarters, not outside the heart!

You are progressing on your path,
You are nourishing amidst storms,
You are facing the winters' cold, smilingly,
So, it is wrong to say, you are not a companion of man!

You are in the bonds of someone's love,
You are hope of somebody's life,
You are the tune of song in someone's heart,
The only regret is — Ah! you are not on the earth!

 


(86) DON'T KNOW WHY
I know, I can't associate myself with this moon,
As she cannot move from heaven, even by omission!
Her steps always move on the sky,
She favours only the silvery world,
Still, love her, with the core of my heart, don't know why!
Remember her again and again, don't know why!

I know this moon will not come in my arms,
Never, even by mistake, devote me,
Her imaginary world is everlasting,
It's beyond anybody's control, to seize her,
Don't know, why I show meaningless right, on such!
Still, love her, with the core of my heart, don't know why!

I know, this moon, will not speak to me, in any manner,
Never will untie her heart's knot, even forgetfully,
Her eye-language is not easy,
Outright disappointment, in understanding her,
With her only, I behave so emotionally, don't know why!
Still, love her, with the core of my heart, don't know why!

I know this moon is the worshipper of grandeur,
Is the roamer of charming, intoxicating, imaginative world,
And innumerable thorns are lying on my way,
The winds of deprivation come always and howl,
Still, I adorn the path only with her appearance, don't know why
Still, love her, with the core of my heart, don't know why!

 

(87) DOWN THE MEMORY LANE
Sweetheart mine!
My heart is full with your charming attraction this day!

Which shall neither fade
nor will it ever lesson,
Even before temptation
it will never vanish,
Sweetheart mine!
only your attachment shall live!

If I could have own your smile sweet
and could steal your lovely grace,
for sure, in this cosmos
my world will be a unique one,
Only you have made this day
my desolate life filled with the lustorous rays!

May your love
never trickle away from me!
The days spent with you,
true, will ever haunt, forever haunt,
With my heart brimmed with love
I ever welcome you!

 

(88) COMPANY

Do the company of moon ever be left?

Where-ever we go and live, this moon will also be there,
The frenzy of our life will also survive there,
Do tell, does anyone, up-date
has plundered the beauty of moonlight?

She will smile with us in the days of happiness,
Will show compassion and shed tears to see us sad,
Living far, in separation, has never
broken the bond of love!

She will come in our sleep and

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The Victories Of Love. Book I

I
From Frederick Graham

Mother, I smile at your alarms!
I own, indeed, my Cousin's charms,
But, like all nursery maladies,
Love is not badly taken twice.
Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes,
My playmate in the pleasant days
At Knatchley, and her sister, Anne,
The twins, so made on the same plan,
That one wore blue, the other white,
To mark them to their father's sight;
And how, at Knatchley harvesting,
You bade me kiss her in the ring,
Like Anne and all the others? You,
That never of my sickness knew,
Will laugh, yet had I the disease,
And gravely, if the signs are these:

As, ere the Spring has any power,
The almond branch all turns to flower,
Though not a leaf is out, so she
The bloom of life provoked in me;
And, hard till then and selfish, I
Was thenceforth nought but sanctity
And service: life was mere delight
In being wholly good and right,
As she was; just, without a slur;
Honouring myself no less than her;
Obeying, in the loneliest place,
Ev'n to the slightest gesture, grace
Assured that one so fair, so true,
He only served that was so too.
For me, hence weak towards the weak,
No more the unnested blackbird's shriek
Startled the light-leaved wood; on high
Wander'd the gadding butterfly,
Unscared by my flung cap; the bee,
Rifling the hollyhock in glee,
Was no more trapp'd with his own flower,
And for his honey slain. Her power,
From great things even to the grass
Through which the unfenced footways pass,
Was law, and that which keeps the law,
Cherubic gaiety and awe;
Day was her doing, and the lark
Had reason for his song; the dark
In anagram innumerous spelt
Her name with stars that throbb'd and felt;
'Twas the sad summit of delight
To wake and weep for her at night;
She turn'd to triumph or to shame
The strife of every childish game;
The heart would come into my throat
At rosebuds; howsoe'er remote,
In opposition or consent,
Each thing, or person, or event,
Or seeming neutral howsoe'er,
All, in the live, electric air,
Awoke, took aspect, and confess'd
In her a centre of unrest,
Yea, stocks and stones within me bred
Anxieties of joy and dread.

O, bright apocalyptic sky
O'erarching childhood! Far and nigh
Mystery and obscuration none,
Yet nowhere any moon or sun!
What reason for these sighs? What hope,
Daunting with its audacious scope
The disconcerted heart, affects
These ceremonies and respects?
Why stratagems in everything?
Why, why not kiss her in the ring?
'Tis nothing strange that warriors bold,
Whose fierce, forecasting eyes behold
The city they desire to sack,
Humbly begin their proud attack
By delving ditches two miles off,
Aware how the fair place would scoff
At hasty wooing; but, O child,
Why thus approach thy playmate mild?

One morning, when it flush'd my thought
That, what in me such wonder wrought
Was call'd, in men and women, love,
And, sick with vanity thereof,
I, saying loud, ‘I love her,’ told
My secret to myself, behold
A crisis in my mystery!
For, suddenly, I seem'd to be
Whirl'd round, and bound with showers of threads
As when the furious spider sheds
Captivity upon the fly
To still his buzzing till he die;
Only, with me, the bonds that flew,
Enfolding, thrill'd me through and through
With bliss beyond aught heaven can have
And pride to dream myself her slave.

A long, green slip of wilder'd land,
With Knatchley Wood on either hand,
Sunder'd our home from hers. This day
Glad was I as I went her way.
I stretch'd my arms to the sky, and sprang
O'er the elastic sod, and sang
I love her, love her!’ to an air
Which with the words came then and there;
And even now, when I would know
All was not always dull and low,
I mind me awhile of the sweet strain
Love taught me in that lonely lane.

Such glories fade, with no more mark
Than when the sunset dies to dark.
They pass, the rapture and the grace
Ineffable, their only trace
A heart which, having felt no less
Than pure and perfect happiness,
Is duly dainty of delight;
A patient, poignant appetite
For pleasures that exceed so much
The poor things which the world calls such,
That, when these lure it, then you may
The lion with a wisp of hay.

That Charlotte, whom we scarcely knew
From Anne but by her ribbons blue,
Was loved, Anne less than look'd at, shows
That liking still by favour goes!
This Love is a Divinity,
And holds his high election free
Of human merit; or let's say,
A child by ladies call'd to play,
But careless of their becks and wiles,
Till, seeing one who sits and smiles
Like any else, yet only charms,
He cries to come into her arms.
Then, for my Cousins, fear me not!
None ever loved because he ought.
Fatal were else this graceful house,
So full of light from ladies' brows.
There's Mary; Heaven in her appears
Like sunshine through the shower's bright tears;
Mildred's of Earth, yet happier far
Than most men's thoughts of Heaven are;
But, for Honoria, Heaven and Earth
Seal'd amity in her sweet birth.
The noble Girl! With whom she talks
She knights first with her smile; she walks,
Stands, dances, to such sweet effect,
Alone she seems to move erect.
The brightest and the chastest brow
Rules o'er a cheek which seems to show
That love, as a mere vague suspense
Of apprehensive innocence,
Perturbs her heart; love without aim
Or object, like the sunlit flame
That in the Vestals' Temple glow'd,
Without the image of a god.
And this simplicity most pure
She sets off with no less allure
Of culture, subtly skill'd to raise
The power, the pride, and mutual praise
Of human personality
Above the common sort so high,
It makes such homely souls as mine
Marvel how brightly life may shine.
How you would love her! Even in dress
She makes the common mode express
New knowledge of what's fit so well
'Tis virtue gaily visible!
Nay, but her silken sash to me
Were more than all morality,
Had not the old, sweet, feverous ill
Left me the master of my will!

So, Mother, feel at rest, and please
To send my books on board. With these,
When I go hence, all idle hours
Shall help my pleasures and my powers.
I've time, you know, to fill my post,
And yet make up for schooling lost
Through young sea-service. They all speak
German with ease; and this, with Greek,
(Which Dr. Churchill thought I knew,)
And history, which I fail'd in too,
Will stop a gap I somewhat dread,
After the happy life I've led
With these my friends; and sweet 'twill be
To abridge the space from them to me.


II
From Mrs. Graham

My Child, Honoria Churchill sways
A double power through Charlotte Hayes.
In minds to first-love's memory pledged
The second Cupid's born full-fledged.
I saw, and trembled for the day
When you should see her beauty, gay
And pure as apple-blooms, that show
Outside a blush and inside snow,
Her high and touching elegance
Of order'd life as free as chance.
Ah, haste from her bewitching side,
No friend for you, far less a bride!
But, warning from a hope so wild,
I wrong you. Yet this know, my Child:
He that but once too nearly hears
The music of forefended spheres,
Is thenceforth lonely, and for all
His days like one who treads the Wall
Of China, and, on this hand, sees
Cities and their civilities,
And, on the other, lions. Well,
(Your rash reply I thus foretell,)
Good is the knowledge of what's fair,
Though bought with temporal despair!
Yes, good for one, but not for two.
Will it content a wife that you
Should pine for love, in love's embrace,
Through having known a happier grace;
And break with inward sighs your rest,
Because, though good, she's not the best?
You would, you think, be just and kind,
And keep your counsel! You will find
You cannot such a secret keep;
'Twill out, like murder, in your sleep;
A touch will tell it, though, for pride,
She may her bitter knowledge hide;
And, while she accepts love's make-believe,
You'll twice despise what you'd deceive.

I send the books. Dear Child, adieu!
Tell me of all you are and do.
I know, thank God, whate'er it be,
'Twill need no veil 'twixt you and me.


III
From Frederick

The multitude of voices blythe
Of early day, the hissing scythe
Across the dew drawn and withdrawn,
The noisy peacock on the lawn,
These, and the sun's eye-gladding gleam,
This morning, chased the sweetest dream
That e'er shed penitential grace
On life's forgetful commonplace;
Yet 'twas no sweeter than the spell
To which I woke to say farewell.

Noon finds me many a mile removed
From her who must not be beloved;
And us the waste sea soon shall part,
Heaving for aye, without a heart!
Mother, what need to warn me so?
I love Miss Churchill? Ah, no, no.
I view, enchanted, from afar,
And love her as I love a star,
For, not to speak of colder fear,
Which keeps my fancy calm, I hear,
Under her life's gay progress hurl'd,
The wheels of the preponderant world,
Set sharp with swords that fool to slay
Who blunders from a poor byway,
To covet beauty with a crown
Of earthly blessing added on;
And she's so much, it seems to me,
Beyond all women womanly,
I dread to think how he should fare
Who came so near as to despair.


IV
From Frederick

Yonder the sombre vessel rides
Where my obscure condition hides.
Waves scud to shore against the wind
That flings the sprinkling surf behind;
In port the bickering pennons show
Which way the ships would gladly go;
Through Edgecumb Park the rooted trees
Are tossing, reckless, in the breeze;
On top of Edgecumb's firm-set tower,
As foils, not foibles, of its power,
The light vanes do themselves adjust
To every veering of the gust:
By me alone may nought be given
To guidance of the airs of heaven?
In battle or peace, in calm or storm,
Should I my daily task perform,
Better a thousand times for love,
Who should my secret soul reprove?

Beholding one like her, a man
Longs to lay down his life! How can
Aught to itself seem thus enough,
When I have so much need thereof?
Blest in her place, blissful is she;
And I, departing, seem to be
Like the strange waif that comes to run
A few days flaming near the sun,
And carries back, through boundless night,
Its lessening memory of light.

Oh, my dear Mother, I confess
To a deep grief of homelessness,
Unfelt, save once, before. 'Tis years
Since such a shower of girlish tears
Disgraced me? But this wretched Inn,
At Plymouth, is so full of din,
Talkings and trampings to and fro.
And then my ship, to which I go
To-night, is no more home. I dread,
As strange, the life I long have led;
And as, when first I went to school,
And found the horror of a rule
Which only ask'd to be obey'd,
I lay and wept, of dawn afraid,
And thought, with bursting heart, of one
Who, from her little, wayward son,
Required obedience, but above
Obedience still regarded love,
So change I that enchanting place,
The abode of innocence and grace
And gaiety without reproof,
For the black gun-deck's louring roof,
Blind and inevitable law
Which makes light duties burdens, awe
Which is not reverence, laughters gain'd
At cost of purities profaned,
And whatsoever most may stir
Remorseful passion towards her,
Whom to behold is to depart
From all defect of life and heart.

But, Mother, I shall go on shore,
And see my Cousin yet once more!
'Twere wild to hope for her, you say.
l've torn and cast those words away.
Surely there's hope! For life 'tis well
Love without hope's impossible;
So, if I love, it is that hope
Is not outside the outer scope
Of fancy. You speak truth: this hour
I must resist, or lose the power.
What! and, when some short months are o'er,
Be not much other than before?
Drop from the bright and virtuous sphere
In which I'm held but while she's dear?
For daily life's dull, senseless mood,
Slay the fine nerves of gratitude
And sweet allegiance, which I owe
Whether the debt be weal or woe?
Nay, Mother, I, forewarn'd, prefer
To want for all in wanting her.

For all? Love's best is not bereft
Ever from him to whom is left
The trust that God will not deceive
His creature, fashion'd to believe
The prophecies of pure desire.
Not loss, not death, my love shall tire.
A mystery does my heart foretell;
Nor do I press the oracle
For explanations. Leave me alone,
And let in me love's will be done.


V
From Frederick

Fashion'd by Heaven and by art
So is she, that she makes the heart
Ache and o'erflow with tears, that grace
So lovely fair should have for place,
(Deeming itself at home the while,)
The unworthy earth! To see her smile
Amid this waste of pain and sin,
As only knowing the heaven within,
Is sweet, and does for pity stir
Passion to be her minister:
Wherefore last night I lay awake,
And said, ‘Ah, Lord, for Thy love's sake,
Give not this darling child of Thine
To care less reverent than mine!’
And, as true faith was in my word,
I trust, I trust that I was heard.

The waves, this morning, sped to land,
And shouted hoarse to touch the strand,
Where Spring, that goes not out to sea,
Lay laughing in her lovely glee;
And, so, my life was sunlit spray
And tumult, as, once more to-day,
For long farewell did I draw near
My Cousin, desperately dear.
Faint, fierce, the truth that hope was none
Gleam'd like the lightning in the sun;
Yet hope I had, and joy thereof.
The father of love is hope, (though love
Lives orphan'd on, when hope is dead,)
And, out of my immediate dread
And crisis of the coming hour,
Did hope itself draw sudden power.
So the still brooding storm, in Spring,
Makes all the birds begin to sing.

Mother, your foresight did not err:
I've lost the world, and not won her.
And yet, ah, laugh not, when you think
What cup of life I sought to drink!
The bold, said I, have climb'd to bliss
Absurd, impossible, as this,
With nought to help them but so great
A heart it fascinates their fate.
If ever Heaven heard man's desire,
Mine, being made of altar-fire,
Must come to pass, and it will be
That she will wait, when she shall see,
This evening, how I go to get,
By means unknown, I know not yet
Quite what, but ground whereon to stand,
And plead more plainly for her hand!

And so I raved, and cast in hope
A superstitious horoscope!
And still, though something in her face
Portended ‘No!’ with such a grace
It burthen'd me with thankfulness,
Nothing was credible but ‘Yes.’
Therefore, through time's close pressure bold,
I praised myself, and boastful told
My deeds at Acre; strain'd the chance
I had of honour and advance
In war to come; and would not see
Sad silence meant, ‘What's this to me.’

When half my precious hour was gone,
She rose to greet a Mr. Vaughan;
And, as the image of the moon
Breaks up, within some still lagoon
That feels the soft wind suddenly,
Or tide fresh flowing from the sea,
And turns to giddy flames that go
Over the water to and fro,
Thus, when he took her hand to-night,
Her lovely gravity of light
Was scatter'd into many smiles
And flattering weakness. Hope beguiles
No more my heart, dear Mother. He,
By jealous looks, o'erhonour'd me.

With nought to do, and fondly fain
To hear her singing once again,
I stay'd, and turn'd her music o'er;
Then came she with me to the door.
‘Dearest Honoria,’ I said,
(By my despair familiar made,)
‘Heaven bless you!’ Oh, to have back then stepp'd
And fallen upon her neck, and wept,
And said, ‘My friend, I owe you all
I am, and have, and hope for. Call
For some poor service; let me prove
To you, or him here whom you love,
My duty. Any solemn task,
For life's whole course, is all I ask!’
Then she must surely have wept too,
And said, ‘My friend, what can you do!’
And I should have replied, ‘I'll pray
For you and him three times a-day,
And, all day, morning, noon, and night,
My life shall be so high and right
That never Saint yet scaled the stairs
Of heaven with more availing prayers!’
But this (and, as good God shall bless
Somehow my end, I'll do no less,)
I had no right to speak. Oh, shame,
So rich a love, so poor a claim!

My Mother, now my only friend,
Farewell. The school-books which you send
I shall not want, and so return.
Give them away, or sell, or burn.
I'll write from Malta. Would I might
But be your little Child to-night,
And feel your arms about me fold,
Against this loneliness and cold!


VI
From Mrs. Graham

The folly of young girls! They doff
Their pride to smooth success, and scoff
At far more noble fire and might
That woo them from the dust of fight!

But, Frederick, now the storm is past,
Your sky should not remain o'ercast.
A sea-life's dull, and, oh, beware
Of nourishing, for zest, despair.
My Child, remember, you have twice
Heartily loved; then why not thrice,
Or ten times? But a wise man shuns
To cry ‘All's over,’ more than once.
I'll not say that a young man's soul
Is scarcely measure of the whole
Earthly and heavenly universe,
To which he inveterately prefers
The one beloved woman. Best
Speak to the senses' interest,
Which brooks no mystery nor delay:
Frankly reflect, my Son, and say,
Was there no secret hour, of those
Pass'd at her side in Sarum Close,
When, to your spirit's sick alarm,
It seem'd that all her marvellous charm
Was marvellously fled? Her grace
Of voice, adornment, movement, face
Was what already heart and eye
Had ponder'd to satiety;
And so the good of life was o'er,
Until some laugh not heard before,
Some novel fashion in her hair,
Or style of putting back her chair,
Restored the heavens. Gather thence
The loss-consoling inference.

Yet blame not beauty, which beguiles,
With lovely motions and sweet smiles,
Which while they please us pass away,
The spirit to lofty thoughts that stay
And lift the whole of after-life,
Unless you take the vision to wife,
Which then seems lost, or serves to slake
Desire, as when a lovely lake
Far off scarce fills the exulting eye
Of one athirst, who comes thereby,
And inappreciably sips
The deep, with disappointed lips.
To fail is sorrow, yet confess
That love pays dearly for success!
No blame to beauty! Let's complain
Of the heart, which can so ill sustain
Delight. Our griefs declare our fall,
But how much more our joys! They pall
With plucking, and celestial mirth
Can find no footing on the earth,
More than the bird of paradise,
Which only lives the while it flies.

Think, also, how 'twould suit your pride
To have this woman for a bride.
Whate'er her faults, she's one of those
To whom the world's last polish owes
A novel grace, which all who aspire
To courtliest custom must acquire.
The world's the sphere she's made to charm,
Which you have shunn'd as if 'twere harm.
Oh, law perverse, that loneliness
Breeds love, society success!
Though young, 'twere now o'er late in life
To train yourself for such a wife;
So she would suit herself to you,
As women, when they marry, do.
For, since 'tis for our dignity
Our lords should sit like lords on high,
We willingly deteriorate
To a step below our rulers' state;
And 'tis the commonest of things
To see an angel, gay with wings,
Lean weakly on a mortal's arm!
Honoria would put off the charm
Of lofty grace that caught your love,
For fear you should not seem above
Herself in fashion and degree,
As in true merit. Thus, you see,
'Twere little kindness, wisdom none,
To light your cot with such a sun.


VII
From Frederick

Write not, my Mother, her dear name
With the least word or hint of blame.
Who else shall discommend her choice,
I giving it my hearty voice?
Wed me? Ah, never near her come
The knowledge of the narrow home!
Far fly from her dear face, that shows
The sunshine lovelier than the rose,
The sordid gravity they wear
Who poverty's base burthen bear!
(And all are poor who come to miss
Their custom, though a crown be this.)
My hope was, that the wheels of fate,
For my exceeding need, might wait,
And she, unseen amidst all eyes,
Move sightless, till I sought the prize,
With honour, in an equal field.
But then came Vaughan, to whom I yield
With grace as much as any man,
In such cause, to another can.
Had she been mine, it seems to me
That I had that integrity
And only joy in her delight—
But each is his own favourite
In love! The thought to bring me rest
Is that of us she takes the best.

'Twas but to see him to be sure
That choice for her remain'd no more!
His brow, so gaily clear of craft;
His wit, the timely truth that laugh'd
To find itself so well express'd;
His words, abundant yet the best;
His spirit, of such handsome show
You mark'd not that his looks were so;
His bearing, prospects, birth, all these
Might well, with small suit, greatly please;
How greatly, when she saw arise
The reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and every breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her;
Whilst power and kindness of command,
Which women can no more withstand
Than we their grace, were still unquell'd,
And force and flattery both compell'd
Her softness! Say I'm worthy. I
Grew, in her presence, cold and shy.
It awed me, as an angel's might
In raiment of reproachful light.
Her gay looks told my sombre mood
That what's not happy is not good;
And, just because 'twas life to please,
Death to repel her, truth and ease
Deserted me; I strove to talk,
And stammer'd foolishness; my walk
Was like a drunkard's; if she took
My arm, it stiffen'd, ached, and shook:
A likely wooer! Blame her not;
Nor ever say, dear Mother, aught
Against that perfectness which is
My strength, as once it was my bliss.

And do not chafe at social rules.
Leave that to charlatans and fools.
Clay graffs and clods conceive the rose,
So base still fathers best. Life owes
Itself to bread; enough thereof
And easy days condition love;
And, kindly train'd, love's roses thrive,
No more pale, scentless petals five,
Which moisten the considerate eye
To see what haste they make to die,
But heavens of colour and perfume,
Which, month by month, renew the bloom
Of art-born graces, when the year
In all the natural grove is sere.

Blame nought then! Bright let be the air
About my lonely cloud of care.


VIII
From Frederick

Religion, duty, books, work, friends,—
'Tis good advice, but there it ends.
I'm sick for what these have not got.
Send no more books: they help me not;
I do my work: the void's there still
Which carefullest duty cannot fill.
What though the inaugural hour of right
Comes ever with a keen delight?
Little relieves the labour's heat;
Disgust oft crowns it when complete;
And life, in fact, is not less dull
For being very dutiful.
The stately homes of England,’ lo,
‘How beautiful they stand!’ They owe
How much to nameless things like me
Their beauty of security!
But who can long a low toil mend
By looking to a lofty end?
And let me, since 'tis truth, confess
The void's not fill'd by godliness.
God is a tower without a stair,
And His perfection, love's despair.
'Tis He shall judge me when I die;
He suckles with the hissing fly
The spider; gazes calmly down,
Whilst rapine grips the helpless town.
His vast love holds all this and more.
In consternation I adore.
Nor can I ease this aching gulf
With friends, the pictures of myself.

Then marvel not that I recur
From each and all of these to her.
For more of heaven than her have I
No sensitive capacity.
Had I but her, ah, what the gain
Of owning aught but that domain!
Nay, heaven's extent, however much,
Cannot be more than many such;
And, she being mine, should God to me
Say ‘Lo! my Child, I give to thee
All heaven besides,’ what could I then,
But, as a child, to Him complain
That whereas my dear Father gave
A little space for me to have
In His great garden, now, o'erblest,
I've that, indeed, but all the rest,
Which, somehow, makes it seem I've got
All but my only cared-for plot.
Enough was that for my weak hand
To tend, my heart to understand.

Oh, the sick fact, 'twixt her and me
There's naught, and half a world of sea.


IX
From Frederick

In two, in less than two hours more
I set my foot on English shore,
Two years untrod, and, strange to tell,
Nigh miss'd through last night's storm! There fell
A man from the shrouds, that roar'd to quench
Even the billows' blast and drench.
Besides me none was near to mark
His loud cry in the louder dark,
Dark, save when lightning show'd the deeps
Standing about in stony heaps.
No time for choice! A rope; a flash
That flamed as he rose; a dizzy splash;
A strange, inopportune delight
Of mounting with the billowy might,
And falling, with a thrill again
Of pleasure shot from feet to brain;
And both paced deck, ere any knew
Our peril. Round us press'd the crew,
With wonder in the eyes of most.
As if the man who had loved and lost
Honoria dared no more than that!

My days have else been stale and flat.
This life's at best, if justly scann'd,
A tedious walk by the other's strand,
With, here and there cast up, a piece
Of coral or of ambergris,
Which, boasted of abroad, we ignore
The burden of the barren shore.
I seldom write, for 'twould be still
Of how the nerves refuse to thrill;
How, throughout doubly-darken'd days,
I cannot recollect her face;
How to my heart her name to tell
Is beating on a broken bell;
And, to fill up the abhorrent gulf,
Scarce loving her, I hate myself.

Yet, latterly, with strange delight,
Rich tides have risen in the night,
And sweet dreams chased the fancies dense
Of waking life's dull somnolence.
I see her as I knew her, grace
Already glory in her face;
I move about, I cannot rest,
For the proud brain and joyful breast
I have of her. Or else I float,
The pilot of an idle boat,
Alone, alone with sky and sea,
And her, the third simplicity.
Or Mildred, to some question, cries,
(Her merry meaning in her eyes,)
The Ball, oh, Frederick will go;
‘Honoria will be there!’ and, lo,
As moisture sweet my seeing blurs
To hear my name so link'd with hers,
A mirror joins, by guilty chance,
Either's averted, watchful glance!
Or with me, in the Ball-Room's blaze,
Her brilliant mildness thrids the maze;
Our thoughts are lovely, and each word
Is music in the music heard,
And all things seem but parts to be
Of one persistent harmony.
By which I'm made divinely bold;
The secret, which she knows, is told;
And, laughing with a lofty bliss
Of innocent accord, we kiss;
About her neck my pleasure weeps;
Against my lip the silk vein leaps;
Then says an Angel, ‘Day or night,
If yours you seek, not her delight,
‘Although by some strange witchery
It seems you kiss her, 'tis not she;
But, whilst you languish at the side
Of a fair-foul phantasmal bride,
‘Surely a dragon and strong tower
‘Guard the true lady in her bower.’
And I say, ‘Dear my Lord, Amen!’
And the true lady kiss again.
Or else some wasteful malady
Devours her shape and dims her eye;
No charms are left, where all were rife,
Except her voice, which is her life,
Wherewith she, for her foolish fear,
Says trembling, ‘Do you love me, Dear?’
And I reply, ‘Sweetest, I vow
I never loved but half till now.’
She turns her face to the wall at this,
And says, ‘Go, Love, 'tis too much bliss.’
And then a sudden pulse is sent
About the sounding firmament
In smitings as of silver bars;
The bright disorder of the stars
Is solved by music; far and near,
Through infinite distinctions clear,
Their twofold voices' deeper tone
Utters the Name which all things own,
And each ecstatic treble dwells
On one whereof none other tells;
And we, sublimed to song and fire,
Take order in the wheeling quire,
Till from the throbbing sphere I start,
Waked by the heaving of my heart.

Such dreams as these come night by night,
Disturbing day with their delight.
Portend they nothing? Who can tell!
God yet may do some miracle.
'Tis nigh two years, and she's not wed,
Or you would know! He may be dead,
Or mad, and loving some one else,
And she, much moved that nothing quells
My constancy, or, simply wroth
With such a wretch, accept my troth
To spite him; or her beauty's gone,
(And that's my dream!) and this man Vaughan
Takes her release: or tongues malign,
Confusing every ear but mine,
Have smirch'd her: ah, 'twould move her, sure,
To find I loved her all the more!
Nay, now I think, haply amiss
I read her words and looks, and his,
That night! Did not his jealousy
Show—Good my God, and can it be
That I, a modest fool, all blest,
Nothing of such a heaven guess'd?
Oh, chance too frail, yet frantic sweet,
To-morrow sees me at her feet!

Yonder, at last, the glad sea roars
Along the sacred English shores!
There lies the lovely land I know,
Where men and women lordliest grow;
There peep the roofs where more than kings
Postpone state cares to country things,
And many a gay queen simply tends
The babes on whom the world depends;
There curls the wanton cottage smoke
Of him that drives but bears no yoke;
There laughs the realm where low and high
Are lieges to society.
And life has all too wide a scope,
Too free a prospect for its hope,
For any private good or ill,
Except dishonour, quite to fill!
Mother, since this was penn'd, I've read
That ‘Mr. Vaughan, on Tuesday, wed
The beautiful Miss Churchill.’ So
That's over; and to-morrow I go
To take up my new post on board
The ‘Wolf,’ my peace at last restored;
My lonely faith, like heart-of-oak,
Shock-season'd. Grief is now the cloak
I clasp about me to prevent
The deadly chill of a content
With any near or distant good,
Except the exact beatitude
Which love has shown to my desire.
Talk not of ‘other joys and higher,’
I hate and disavow all bliss
As none for me which is not this.
Think not I blasphemously cope
With God's decrees, and cast off hope.
How, when, and where can mine succeed?
I'll trust He knows who made my need.

Baseness of men! Pursuit being o'er,
Doubtless her Husband feels no more
The heaven of heavens of such a Bride,
But, lounging, lets her please his pride
With fondness, guerdons her caress
With little names, and turns a tress
Round idle fingers. If 'tis so,
Why then I'm happier of the two!
Better, for lofty loss, high pain,
Than low content with lofty gain.
Poor, foolish Dove, to trust from me
Her happiness and dignity!


X
From Frederick

I thought the worst had brought me balm:
'Twas but the tempest's central calm.
Vague sinkings of the heart aver
That dreadful wrong is come to her,
And o'er this dream I brood and dote,
And learn its agonies by rote.
As if I loved it, early and late
I make familiar with my fate,
And feed, with fascinated will,
On very dregs of finish'd ill.
I think, she's near him now, alone,
With wardship and protection none;
Alone, perhaps, in the hindering stress
Of airs that clasp him with her dress,
They wander whispering by the wave;
And haply now, in some sea-cave,
Where the ribb'd sand is rarely trod,
They laugh, they kiss. Oh, God! oh, God!
There comes a smile acutely sweet
Out of the picturing dark; I meet
The ancient frankness of her gaze,
That soft and heart-surprising blaze
Of great goodwill and innocence,
And perfect joy proceeding thence!
Ah! made for earth's delight, yet such
The mid-sea air's too gross to touch.
At thought of which, the soul in me
Is as the bird that bites a bee,
And darts abroad on frantic wing,
Tasting the honey and the sting;
And, moaning where all round me sleep
Amidst the moaning of the deep,
I start at midnight from my bed—
And have no right to strike him dead.

What world is this that I am in,
Where chance turns sanctity to sin!
'Tis crime henceforward to desire
The only good; the sacred fire
That sunn'd the universe is hell!
I hear a Voice which argues well:
The Heaven hard has scorn'd your cry;
‘Fall down and worship me, and I
‘Will give you peace; go and profane
‘This pangful love, so pure, so vain,
And thereby win forgetfulness
And pardon of the spirit's excess,
‘Which soar'd too nigh that jealous Heaven
‘Ever, save thus, to be forgiven.
No Gospel has come down that cures
With better gain a loss like yours.
Be pious! Give the beggar pelf,
And love your neighbour as yourself!
You, who yet love, though all is o'er,
And she'll ne'er be your neighbour more,
With soul which can in pity smile
That aught with such a measure vile
As self should be at all named 'love!'
Your sanctity the priests reprove;
Your case of grief they wholly miss;
The Man of Sorrows names not this.
The years, they say, graff love divine
On the lopp'd stock of love like thine;
The wild tree dies not, but converts.
‘So be it; but the lopping hurts,
The graff takes tardily! Men stanch
‘Meantime with earth the bleeding branch,
There's nothing heals one woman's loss,
And lighten's life's eternal cross
With intermission of sound rest,
Like lying in another's breast.
The cure is, to your thinking, low!
Is not life all, henceforward, so?’

Ill Voice, at least thou calm'st my mood.
I'll sleep! But, as I thus conclude,
The intrusions of her grace dispel
The comfortable glooms of hell.

A wonder! Ere these lines were dried,
Vaughan and my Love, his three-days' Bride,
Became my guests. I look'd, and, lo,
In beauty soft as is the snow
And powerful as the avalanche,
She lit the deck. The Heav'n-sent chance!
She smiled, surprised. They came to see
The ship, not thinking to meet me.

At infinite distance she's my day:
What then to him? Howbeit they say
'Tis not so sunny in the sun
But men might live cool lives thereon!

All's well; for I have seen arise
That reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and watch'd his breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her,
His wife. My Love, she's safe in his
Devotion! What ask'd I but this?

They bade adieu; I saw them go
Across the sea; and now I know
The ultimate hope I rested on,
The hope beyond the grave, is gone,
The hope that, in the heavens high,
At last it should appear that I
Loved most, and so, by claim divine,
Should have her, in the heavens, for mine,
According to such nuptial sort
As may subsist in the holy court,
Where, if there are all kinds of joys
To exhaust the multitude of choice
In many mansions, then there are
Loves personal and particular,
Conspicuous in the glorious sky
Of universal charity,
As Phosphor in the sunrise. Now
I've seen them, I believe their vow
Immortal; and the dreadful thought,
That he less honour'd than he ought
Her sanctity, is laid to rest,
And, blessing them, I too am blest.
My goodwill, as a springing air,
Unclouds a beauty in despair;
I stand beneath the sky's pure cope
Unburthen'd even by a hope;
And peace unspeakable, a joy
Which hope would deaden and destroy,
Like sunshine fills the airy gulf
Left by the vanishing of self.
That I have known her; that she moves
Somewhere all-graceful; that she loves,
And is belov'd, and that she's so
Most happy, and to heaven will go,
Where I may meet with her, (yet this
I count but accidental bliss,)
And that the full, celestial weal
Of all shall sensitively feel
The partnership and work of each,
And thus my love and labour reach
Her region, there the more to bless
Her last, consummate happiness,
Is guerdon up to the degree
Of that alone true loyalty
Which, sacrificing, is not nice
About the terms of sacrifice,
But offers all, with smiles that say,
'Tis little, but it is for aye!


XI
From Mrs. Graham

You wanted her, my Son, for wife,
With the fierce need of life in life.
That nobler passion of an hour
Was rather prophecy than power;
And nature, from such stress unbent,
Recurs to deep discouragement.
Trust not such peace yet; easy breath,
In hot diseases, argues death;
And tastelessness within the mouth
Worse fever shows than heat or drouth.
Wherefore take, Frederick, timely fear
Against a different danger near:
Wed not one woman, oh, my Child,
Because another has not smiled!
Oft, with a disappointed man,
The first who cares to win him can;
For, after love's heroic strain,
Which tired the heart and brought no gain,
He feels consoled, relieved, and eased
To meet with her who can be pleased
To proffer kindness, and compute
His acquiescence for pursuit;
Who troubles not his lonely mood;
And asks for love mere gratitude.
Ah, desperate folly! Yet, we know,
Who wed through love wed mostly so.

At least, my Son, when wed you do,
See that the woman equals you,
Nor rush, from having loved too high,
Into a worse humility.
A poor estate's a foolish plea
For marrying to a base degree.
A woman grown cannot be train'd,
Or, if she could, no love were gain'd;
For, never was a man's heart caught
By graces he himself had taught.
And fancy not 'tis in the might
Of man to do without delight;
For, should you in her nothing find
To exhilarate the higher mind,
Your soul would deaden useless wings
With wickedness of lawful things,
And vampire pleasure swift destroy
Even the memory of joy.
So let no man, in desperate mood,
Wed a dull girl because she's good.
All virtues in his wife soon dim,
Except the power of pleasing him,
Which may small virtue be, or none!

I know my just and tender Son,
To whom the dangerous grace is given
That scorns a good which is not heaven;
My Child, who used to sit and sigh
Under the bright, ideal sky,
And pass, to spare the farmer's wheat,
The poppy and the meadow-sweet!
He would not let his wife's heart ache
For what was mainly his mistake;
But, having err'd so, all his force
Would fix upon the hard, right course.

She's graceless, say, yet good and true,
And therefore inly fair, and, through
The veils which inward beauty fold,
Faith can her loveliness behold.
Ah, that's soon tired; faith falls away
Without the ceremonial stay
Of outward loveliness and awe.
The weightier matters of the law
She pays: mere mint and cumin not;
And, in the road that she was taught,
She treads, and takes for granted still
Nature's immedicable ill;
So never wears within her eyes
A false report of paradise,
Nor ever modulates her mirth
With vain compassion of the earth,
Which made a certain happier face
Affecting, and a gayer grace
With pathos delicately edged!
Yet, though she be not privileged
To unlock for you your heart's delight,
(Her keys being gold, but not the right,)
On lower levels she may do!
Her joy is more in loving you
Than being loved, and she commands
All tenderness she understands.
It is but when you proffer more
The yoke weighs heavy and chafes sore.
It's weary work enforcing love
On one who has enough thereof,
And honour on the lowlihead
Of ignorance! Besides, you dread,
In Leah's arms, to meet the eyes
Of Rachel, somewhere in the skies,
And both return, alike relieved,
To life less loftily conceived.
Alas, alas!

Then wait the mood
In which a woman may be woo'd
Whose thoughts and habits are too high
For honour to be flattery,
And who would surely not allow
The suit that you could proffer now.
Her equal yoke would sit with ease;
It might, with wearing, even please,
(Not with a better word to move
The loyal wrath of present love);
She would not mope when you were gay,
For want of knowing aught to say;
Nor vex you with unhandsome waste
Of thoughts ill-timed and words ill-placed;
Nor reckon small things duties small,
And your fine sense fantastical;
Nor would she bring you up a brood
Of strangers bound to you by blood,
Boys of a meaner moral race,
Girls with their mother's evil grace,
But not her chance to sometimes find
Her critic past his judgment kind;
Nor, unaccustom'd to respect,
Which men, where 'tis not claim'd, neglect,
Confirm you selfish and morose,
And slowly, by contagion, gross;
But, glad and able to receive
The honour you would long to give,
Would hasten on to justify
Expectancy, however high,
Whilst you would happily incur
Compulsion to keep up with her.


XII
From Frederick

Your letter, Mother, bears the date
Of six months back, and comes too late.
My Love, past all conceiving lost,
A change seem'd good, at any cost,
From lonely, stupid, silent grief,
Vain, objectless, beyond relief,
And, like a sea-fog, settled dense
On fancy, feeling, thought, and sense.
I grew so idle, so despised
Myself, my powers, by Her unprized,
Honouring my post, but nothing more,
And lying, when I lived on shore,
So late of mornings: weak tears stream'd
For such slight cause,—if only gleam'd,
Remotely, beautifully bright,
On clouded eves at sea, the light
Of English headlands in the sun,—
That soon I deem'd 'twere better done
To lay this poor, complaining wraith
Of unreciprocated faith:
And so, with heart still bleeding quick,
But strengthen'd by the comfort sick
Of knowing that She could not care,
I turn'd away from my despair,
And told our chaplain's daughter, Jane,—
A dear, good girl, who saw my pain,
And look'd as if she pitied me,—
How glad and thankful I should be
If some kind woman, not above
Myself in rank, would give her love
To one that knew not how to woo.
Whereat she, without more ado,
Blush'd, spoke of love return'd, and closed
With what she thought I had proposed.

And, trust me, Mother, I and Jane,
We suit each other well. My gain
Is very great in this good Wife,
To whom I'm bound, for natural life,
By hearty faith, yet crossing not
My faith towards—I know not what!
As to the ether is the air,
Is her good to Honoria's fair;
One place is full of both, yet each
Lies quite beyond the other's reach
And recognition.

If you say,
Am I contented? Yea and nay!
For what's base but content to grow
With less good than the best we know?
But think me not from life withdrawn,
By passion for a hope that's gone,
So far as to forget how much
A woman is, as merely such,
To man's affection. What is best,
In each, belongs to all the rest;
And though, in marriage, quite to kiss
And half to love the custom is,
'Tis such dishonour, ruin bare,
The soul's interior despair,
And life between two troubles toss'd,
To me, who think not with the most;
Whatever 'twould have been, before
My Cousin's time, 'tis now so sore
A treason to the abiding throne
Of that sweet love which I have known,
I cannot live so, and I bend
My mind perforce to comprehend
That He who gives command to love
Does not require a thing above
The strength He gives. The highest degree
Of the hardest grace, humility;
The step t'ward heaven the latest trod,
And that which makes us most like God,
And us much more than God behoves,
Is, to be humble in our loves.
Henceforth for ever therefore I
Renounce all partiality
Of passion. Subject to control
Of that perspective of the soul
Which God Himself pronounces good,
Confirming claims of neighbourhood,
And giving man, for earthly life,
The closest neighbour in a wife,
I'll serve all. Jane be much more dear
Than all as she is much more near!
I'll love her! Yea, and love's joy comes
Ever from self-love's martyrdoms!

Yet, not to lie for God, 'tis true
That 'twas another joy I knew
When freighted was my heart with fire
Of fond, irrational desire
For fascinating, female charms,
And hopeless heaven in Her mild arms.
Nor wrong I any, if I profess
That care for heaven with me were less
But that I'm utterly imbued
With faith of all Earth's hope renew'd
In realms where no short-coming pains
Expectance, and dear love disdains
Time's treason, and the gathering dross,
And lasts for ever in the gloss
Of newness.

All the bright past seems,
Now, but a splendour in my dreams,
Which shows, albeit the dreamer wakes,
The standard of right life. Life aches
To be therewith conform'd; but, oh,
The world's so stolid, dark, and low!
That and the mortal element
Forbid the beautiful intent,
And, like the unborn butterfly,
It feels the wings, and wants the sky.

But perilous is the lofty mood
Which cannot yoke with lowly good.
Right life, for me, is life that wends
By lowly ways to lofty ends.
I well perceive, at length, that haste
T'ward heaven itself is only waste;
And thus I dread the impatient spur
Of aught that speaks too plain of Her.
There's little here that story tells;
But music talks of nothing else.
Therefore, when music breathes, I say,
(And urge my task,) Away, away!
Thou art the voice of one I knew,
But what thou say'st is not yet true;
Thou art the voice of her I loved,
And I would not be vainly moved.

So that which did from death set free
All things, now dons death's mockery,
And takes its place with things that are
But little noted. Do not mar
For me your peace! My health is high.
The proud possession of mine eye
Departed, I am much like one
Who had by haughty custom grown
To think gilt rooms, and spacious grounds,
Horses, and carriages, and hounds,
Fine linen, and an eider bed
As much his need as daily bread,
And honour of men as much or more.
Till, strange misfortune smiting sore,
His pride all goes to pay his debts,
A lodging anywhere he gets,
And takes his family thereto
Weeping, and other relics few,
Allow'd, by them that seize his pelf,
As precious only to himself.
Yet the sun shines; the country green
Has many riches, poorly seen
From blazon'd coaches; grace at meat
Goes well with thrift in what they eat;
And there's amends for much bereft
In better thanks for much that's left!

Jane is not fair, yet pleases well
The eye in which no others dwell;
And features somewhat plainly set,
And homely manners leave her yet
The crowning boon and most express
Of Heaven's inventive tenderness,
A woman. But I do her wrong,
Letting the world's eyes guide my tongue!
She has a handsomeness that pays
No homage to the hourly gaze,
And dwells not on the arch'd brow's height
And lids which softly lodge the light,
Nor in the pure field of the cheek
Flow'rs, though the soul be still to seek;
But shows as fits that solemn place
Whereof the window is the face:
Blankness and leaden outlines mark
What time the Church within is dark;
Yet view it on a Festal night,
Or some occasion else for light,
And each ungainly line is seen
A special character to mean
Of Saint or Prophet, and the whole
Blank window is a living scroll.

For hours, the clock upon the shelf,
Has all the talking to itself;
But to and fro her needle runs
Twice, while the clock is ticking once;
And, when a wife is well in reach,
Not silence separates, but speech;
And I, contented, read, or smoke,
And idly think, or idly stroke
The winking cat, or watch the fire,
In social peace that does not tire;
Until, at easeful end of day,
She moves, and puts her work away,
And, saying ‘How cold 'tis,’ or ‘How warm,’
Or something else as little harm,
Comes, used to finding, kindly press'd,
A woman's welcome to my breast,
With all the great advantage clear
Of none else having been so near.

But sometimes, (how shall I deny!)
There falls, with her thus fondly by,
Dejection, and a chilling shade.
Remember'd pleasures, as they fade,
Salute me, and colossal grow,
Like foot-prints in the thawing snow.
I feel oppress'd beyond my force
With foolish envy and remorse.
I love this woman, but I might
Have loved some else with more delight;
And strange it seems of God that He
Should make a vain capacity.

Such times of ignorant relapse,
'Tis well she does not talk, perhaps.
The dream, the discontent, the doubt,
To some injustice flaming out,
Were't else, might leave us both to moan
A kind tradition overthrown,
And dawning promise once more dead
In the pernicious lowlihead
Of not aspiring to be fair.
And what am I, that I should dare
Dispute with God, who moulds one clay
To honour and shame, and wills to pay
With equal wages them that delve
About His vines one hour or twelve!


XIII
From Lady Clitheroe To Mary Churchill

I've dreadful news, my Sister dear!
Frederick has married, as we hear,
Oh, such a girl! This fact we get
From Mr. Barton, whom we met
At Abury once. He used to know,
At Race and Hunt, Lord Clitheroe,
And writes that he ‘has seen Fred Graham,
‘Commander of the 'Wolf,'—the same
The Mess call'd Joseph,—with his Wife
Under his arm.’ He ‘lays his life,
The fellow married her for love,
For there was nothing else to move.
‘H. is her Shibboleth. 'Tis said
Her Mother was a Kitchen-Maid.’

Poor Fred! What will Honoria say?
She thought so highly of him. Pray
Tell it her gently. I've no right,
I know you hold, to trust my sight;
But Frederick's state could not be hid!
And Felix, coming when he did,
Was lucky; for Honoria, too,
Was half in love. How warm she grew
On ‘worldliness,’ when once I said
I fancied that, in ladies, Fred
Had tastes much better than his means!
His hand was worthy of a Queen's,
Said she, and actually shed tears
The night he left us for two years,
And sobb'd, when ask'd the cause to tell,
That ‘Frederick look'd so miserable.’
He did look very dull, no doubt,
But such things girls don't cry about.

What weathercocks men always prove!
You're quite right not to fall in love.
I never did, and, truth to tell,
I don't think it respectable.
The man can't understand it, too.
He likes to be in love with you,
But scarce knows how, if you love him,
Poor fellow. When 'tis woman's whim
To serve her husband night and day,
The kind soul lets her have her way!
So, if you wed, as soon you should,
Be selfish for your husband's good.
Happy the men who relegate
Their pleasures, vanities, and state
To us. Their nature seems to be
To enjoy themselves by deputy,
For, seeking their own benefit,
Dear, what a mess they make of it!
A man will work his bones away,
If but his wife will only play;
He does not mind how much he's teased,
So that his plague looks always pleased;
And never thanks her, while he lives,
For anything, but what he gives!
'Tis hard to manage men, we hear!
Believe me, nothing's easier, Dear.
The most important step by far
Is finding what their colours are.
The next is, not to let them know
The reason why they love us so.
The indolent droop of a blue shawl,
Or gray silk's fluctuating fall,
Covers the multitude of sins
In me. Your husband, Love, might wince
At azure, and be wild at slate,
And yet do well with chocolate.
Of course you'd let him fancy he
Adored you for your piety.


XIV
From Jane To Her Mother

Dear Mother, as you write, I see
How glad and thankful I should be
For such a husband. Yet to tell
The truth, I am so miserable!
How could heI remember, though,
He never said he loved me! No,
He is so right that all seems wrong
I've done and thought my whole life long!
I'm grown so dull and dead with fear
That Yes and No, when he is near,
Is all I have to say. He's quite
Unlike what most would call polite,
And yet, when first I saw him come
To tea in Aunt's fine drawing-room,
He made me feel so common! Oh,
How dreadful if he thinks me so!
It's no use trying to behave
To him. His eye, so kind and grave,
Sees through and through me! Could not you,
Without his knowing that I knew,
Ask him to scold me now and then?
Mother, it's such a weary strain
The way he has of treating me
As if 'twas something fine to be
A woman; and appearing not
To notice any faults I've got!
I know he knows I'm plain, and small,
Stupid, and ignorant, and all
Awkward and mean; and, by degrees,
I see a beauty which he sees,
When often he looks strange awhile,
Then recollects me with a smile.

I wish he had that fancied Wife,
With me for Maid, now! all my life
To dress her out for him, and make
Her looks the lovelier for his sake;
To have her rate me till I cried;
Then see her seated by his side,
And driven off proudly to the Ball;
Then to stay up for her, whilst all
The servants were asleep; and hear
At dawn the carriage rolling near,
And let them in; and hear her laugh,
And boast, he said that none was half
So beautiful, and that the Queen,
Who danced with him the first, had seen
And noticed her, and ask'd who was
That lady in the golden gauze?
And then to go to bed, and lie
In a sort of heavenly jealousy,
Until 'twas broad day, and I guess'd
She slept, nor knew how she was bless'd.

Pray burn this letter. I would not
Complain, but for the fear I've got
Of going wild, as we hear tell
Of people shut up in a cell,
With no one there to talk to. He
Must never know he is loved by me
The most; he'd think himself to blame;
And I should almost die for shame.

If being good would serve instead
Of being graceful, ah, then, Fred—
But I, myself, I never could
See what's in women's being good;
For all their goodness is to do
Just what their nature tells them to.
Now, when a man would do what's right,
He has to try with all his might.

Though true and kind in deed and word,
Fred's not a vessel of the Lord.
But I have hopes of him; for, oh,
How can we ever surely know
But that the very darkest place
May be the scene of saving grace!


XV
From Frederick

‘How did I feel?’ The little wight
Fill'd me, unfatherly, with fright!
So grim it gazed, and, out of the sky,
There came, minute, remote, the cry,
Piercing, of original pain.
I put the wonder back to Jane,
And her delight seem'd dash'd, that I,
Of strangers still by nature shy,
Was not familiar quite so soon
With her small friend of many a moon.
But, when the new-made Mother smiled,
She seem'd herself a little child,
Dwelling at large beyond the law
By which, till then, I judged and saw;
And that fond glow which she felt stir
For it, suffused my heart for her;
To whom, from the weak babe, and thence
To me, an influent innocence,
Happy, reparative of life,
Came, and she was indeed my wife,
As there, lovely with love she lay,
Brightly contented all the day
To hug her sleepy little boy,
In the reciprocated joy
Of touch, the childish sense of love,
Ever inquisitive to prove
Its strange possession, and to know
If the eye's report be really so.


XVI
From Jane To Mrs. Graham

Dear Mother,—such if you'll allow,
In love, not law, I'll call you now,—
I hope you're well. I write to say
Frederick has got, besides his pay,
A good appointment in the Docks;
Also to thank you for the frocks
And shoes for Baby. I, (D.V.,)
Shall soon be strong. Fred goes to sea
No more. I am so glad; because,
Though kinder husband never was,
He seems still kinder to become
The more he stays with me at home.
When we are parted, I see plain
He's dull till he gets used again
To marriage. Do not tell him, though;
I would not have him know I know,
For all the world.

I try to mind
All your advice; but sometimes find
I do not well see how. I thought
To take it about dress; so bought
A gay new bonnet, gown, and shawl;
But Frederick was not pleased at all;
For, though he smiled, and said, ‘How smart!’
I feel, you know, what's in his heart.
But I shall learn! I fancied long
That care in dress was very wrong,
Till Frederick, in his startling way,
When I began to blame, one day,
The Admiral's Wife, because we hear
She spends two hours, or something near,
In dressing, took her part, and said
How all things deck themselves that wed;
How birds and plants grow fine to please
Each other in their marriages;
And how (which certainly is true—
It never struck me—did it you?)
Dress was, at first, Heaven's ordinance,
And has much Scripture countenance.
For Eliezer, we are told,
Adorn'd with jewels and with gold
Rebecca. In the Psalms, again,
How the King's Daughter dress'd! And, then,
The Good Wife in the Proverbs, she
Made herself clothes of tapestry,
Purple and silk: and there's much more
I had not thought about before!
But Fred's so clever! Do you know,
Since Baby came, he loves me so!
I'm really useful, now, to Fred;
And none could do so well instead.
It's nice to fancy, if I died,
He'd miss me from the Darling's side!
Also, there's something now, you see,
On which we talk, and quite agree;
On which, without pride too, I can
Hope I'm as wise as any man.
I should be happy now, if quite
Sure that in one thing Fred was right.
But, though I trust his prayers are said,
Because he goes so late to bed,
I doubt his Calling. Glad to find
A text adapted to his mind,—
That where St. Paul, in Man and Wife,
Allows a little worldly life,—
He smiled, and said that he knew all
Such things as that without St. Paul!
And once he said, when I with pain
Had got him just to read Romaine,
‘Men's creeds should not their hopes condemn.
Who wait for heaven to come to them
Are little like to go to heaven,
If logic's not the devil's leaven!’
I cried at such a wicked joke,
And he, surprised, went out to smoke.

But to judge him is not for me,
Who myself sin so dreadfully
As half to doubt if I should care
To go to heaven, and he not there.
He must be right; and I dare say
I shall soon understand his way.
To other things, once strange, I've grown
Accustom'd, nay, to like. I own
'Twas long before I got well used
To sit, while Frederick read or mused
For hours, and scarcely spoke. When he
For all that, held the door to me,
Pick'd up my handkerchief, and rose
To set my chair, with other shows
Of honour, such as men, 'tis true,
To sweethearts and fine ladies do,
It almost seem'd an unkind jest;
But now I like these ways the best.
They somehow make me gentle and good;
And I don't mind his quiet mood.
If Frederick does seem dull awhile,
There's Baby. You should see him smile!
I'm pretty and nice to him, sweet Pet,
And he will learn no better yet:
Indeed, now little Johnny makes
A busier time of it, and takes
Our thoughts off one another more,
I'm happy as need be, I'm sure!


XVII
From Felix To Honoria

Let me, Beloved, while gratitude
Is garrulous with coming good,
Or ere the tongue of happiness
Be silenced by your soft caress,
Relate how, musing here of you,
The cl

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Third Book

'TO-DAY thou girdest up thy loins thyself,
And goest where thou wouldest: presently
Others shall gird thee,' said the Lord, 'to go
Where thou would'st not.' He spoke to Peter thus,
To signify the death which he should die
When crucified head downwards.
If He spoke
To Peter then, He speaks to us the same;
The word suits many different martyrdoms,
And signifies a multiform of death,
Although we scarcely die apostles, we,
And have mislaid the keys of heaven and earth.

For tis not in mere death that men die most;
And, after our first girding of the loins
In youth's fine linen and fair broidery,
To run up hill and meet the rising sun,
We are apt to sit tired, patient as a fool,
While others gird us with the violent bands
Of social figments, feints, and formalisms,
Reversing our straight nature, lifting up
Our base needs, keeping down our lofty thoughts,
Head downward on the cross-sticks of the world.
Yet He can pluck us from the shameful cross.
God, set our feet low and our forehead high,
And show us how a man was made to walk!

Leave the lamp, Susan, and go up to bed.
The room does very well; I have to write
Beyond the stroke of midnight. Get away;
Your steps, for ever buzzing in the room,
Tease me like gnats. Ah, letters! throw them down
At once, as I must have them, to be sure,
Whether I bid you never bring me such
At such an hour, or bid you. No excuse.
You choose to bring them, as I choose perhaps
To throw them in the fire. Now, get to bed,
And dream, if possible, I am not cross.

Why what a pettish, petty thing I grow,–
A mere, mere woman,–a mere flaccid nerve,-
A kerchief left out all night in the rain,
Turned soft so,–overtasked and overstrained
And overlived in this close London life!
And yet I should be stronger.
Never burn
Your letters, poor Aurora! for they stare
With red seals from the table, saying each,
'Here's something that you know not.' Out alas,
'Tis scarcely that the world's more good and wise
Or even straighter and more consequent
Since yesterday at this time–yet, again,
If but one angel spoke from Ararat,
I should be very sorry not to hear:
So open all the letters! let me read.
Blanche Ord, the writer in the 'Lady's Fan,'
Requests my judgment on . . that, afterwards.
Kate Ward desires the model of my cloak,
And signs, 'Elisha to you.' Pringle Sharpe
Presents his work on 'Social Conduct,' . . craves
A little money for his pressing debts . .
From me, who scarce have money for my needs,–
Art's fiery chariot which we journey in
Being apt to singe our singing-robes to holes,
Although you ask me for my cloak, Kate Ward!
Here's Rudgely knows it,–editor and scribe–
He's 'forced to marry where his heart is not,
Because the purse lacks where he lost his heart.'
Ah,–lost it because no one picked it up!
That's really loss! (and passable impudence.)
My critic Hammond flatters prettily,
And wants another volume like the last.
My critic Belfair wants another book
Entirely different, which will sell, (and live?)
A striking book, yet not a startling book,
The public blames originalities.
(You must not pump spring-water unawares
Upon a gracious public, full of nerves–)
Good things, not subtle, new yet orthodox,
As easy reading as the dog-eared page
That's fingered by said public, fifty years,
Since first taught spelling by its grandmother,
And yet a revelation in some sort:
That's hard, my critic, Belfair! So–what next?
My critic Stokes objects to abstract thoughts;
'Call a man, John, a woman, Joan,' says he,
'And do not prate so of humanities:'
Whereat I call my critic, simply Stokes.
My critic Jobson recommends more mirth,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times,
And all true poets laugh unquenchably
Like Shakspeare and the gods. That's very hard,
The gods may laugh, and Shakspeare; Dante smiled
With such a needy heart on two pale lips,
We cry, 'Weep rather, Dante.' Poems are
Men, if true poems: and who dares exclaim
At any man's door, 'Here, 'tis probable
The thunder fell last week, and killed a wife,
And scared a sickly husband–what of that?
Get up, be merry, shout, and clap your hands,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times–'?
None says so to the man,–and why indeed
Should any to the poem? A ninth seal;
The apocalypse is drawing to a close.
Ha,–this from Vincent Carrington,–'Dear friend,
I want good counsel. Will you lend me wings
To raise me to the subject, in a sketch
I'll bring to-morrow–may I? at eleven?
A poet's only born to turn to use;
So save you! for the world . . and Carrington.'

'(Writ after.) Have you heard of Romney Leigh,
Beyond what's said of him in newspapers,
His phalansteries there, his speeches here,
His pamphlets, pleas, and statements, everywhere?
He dropped me long ago; but no one drops
A golden apple–though, indeed, one day,
You hinted that, but jested. Well, at least,
You know Lord Howe, who sees him . . whom he sees,
And you see, and I hate to see,–for Howe
Stands high upon the brink of theories,
Observes the swimmers, and cries 'Very fine,'
But keeps dry linen equally,–unlike
That gallant breaster, Romney. Strange it is,
Such sudden madness, seizing a young man,
To make earth over again,–while I'm content
To make the pictures. Let me bring the sketch.
A tiptoe Danae, overbold and hot:
Both arms a-flame to meet her wishing Jove
Halfway, and burn him faster down; the face
And breasts upturned and straining, the loose locks
All glowing with the anticipated gold.
Or here's another on the self-same theme.
She lies here–flat upon her prison-floor,
The long hair swathed about her to the heel,
Like wet sea-weed. You dimly see her through
The glittering haze of that prodigious rain,
Half blotted out of nature by a love
As heavy as fate. I'll bring you either sketch.
I think, myself, the second indicates
More passion. '
Surely. Self is put away,
And calm with abdication. She is Jove,
And no more Danae–greater thus. Perhaps
The painter symbolises unawares
Two states of the recipient artist-soul;
One, forward, personal, wanting reverence,
Because aspiring only. We'll be calm,
And know that, when indeed our Joves come down.
We all turn stiller than we have ever been.

Kind Vincent Carrington. I'll let him come.
He talks of Florence,–and may say a word
Of something as it chanced seven years ago,–
A hedgehog in the path, or a lame bird,
In those green country walks, in that good time,
When certainly I was so miserable . .
I seem to have missed a blessing ever since.

The music soars within the little lark,
And the lark soars. It is not thus with men.
We do not make our places with our strains,–
Content, while they rise, to remain behind,
Alone on earth instead of so in heaven.
No matter–I bear on my broken tale.

When Romney Leigh and I had parted thus,
I took a chamber up three flights of stairs
Not far from being as steep as some larks climb,
And, in a certain house in Kensington,
Three years I lived and worked. Get leave to work
In this world,–'tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction. God says, 'Sweat
For foreheads;' men say 'crowns;' and so we are crowned,
Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel
Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work; get work;
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.

So, happy and unafraid of solitude,
I worked the short days out,–and watched the sun
On lurid morns or monstrous afternoons,
Like some Druidic idol's fiery brass,
With fixed unflickering outline of dead heat,
In which the blood of wretches pent inside
Seemed oozing forth to incarnadine the air,–
Push out through fog with his dilated disk,
And startle the slant roofs and chimney-pots
With splashes of fierce colour. Or I saw
Fog only, the great tawny weltering fog,
Involve the passive city, strangle it
Alive, and draw it off into the void,
Spires, bridges, streets, and squares, as if a sponge
Had wiped out London,–or as noon and night
Had clapped together and utterly struck out
The intermediate time, undoing themselves
In the act. Your city poets see such things,
Not despicable. Mountains of the south,
When, drunk and mad with elemental wines,
They rend the seamless mist and stand up bare,
Make fewer singers, haply. No one sings,
Descending Sinai; on Parnassus mount,
You take a mule to climb, and not a muse,
Except in fable and figure: forests chant
Their anthems to themselves, and leave you dumb.
But sit in London, at the day's decline,
And view the city perish in the mist
Like Pharaoh's armaments in the deep Red Sea,–
The chariots, horsemen, footmen, all the host,
Sucked down and choked to silence–then, surprised
By a sudden sense of vision and of tune,
You feel as conquerors though you did not fight,
And you and Israel's other singing girls,
Ay, Miriam with them, sing the song you choose.

I worked with patience which means almost power
I did some excellent things indifferently,
Some bad things excellently. Both were praised,
The latter loudest. And by such a time
That I myself had set them down as sins
Scarce worth the price of sackcloth, week by week,
Arrived some letter through the sedulous post,
Like these I've read, and yet dissimilar,
With pretty maiden seals,–initials twined
Of lilies, or a heart marked Emily,
(Convicting Emily of being all heart);
Or rarer tokens from young bachelors,
Who wrote from college (with the same goosequill,
Suppose, they had been just plucked of) and a snatch
From Horace, 'Collegisse juvat,' set
Upon the first page. Many a letter signed
Or unsigned, showing the writers at eighteen
Had lived too long, though every muse should help
The daylight, holding candles,–compliments,
To smile or sigh at. Such could pass with me
No more than coins from Moscow circulate
At Paris. Would ten rubles buy a tag
Of ribbon on the boulevard, worth a sou?
I smiled that all this youth should love me,–sighed
That such a love could scarcely raise them up
To love what was more worthy than myself;
Then sighed again, again, less generously,
To think the very love they lavished so,
Proved me inferior. The strong loved me not,
And he . . my cousin Romney . . did not write.
I felt the silent finger of his scorn
Prick every bubble of my frivolous fame
As my breath blew it, and resolve it back
To the air it came from. Oh, I justified
The measure he had taken of my height:
The thing was plain–he was not wrong a line;
I played at art, made thrusts with a toy-sword,
Amused the lads and maidens.
Came a sigh
Deep, hoarse with resolution,–I would work
To better ends, or play in earnest. 'Heavens,
I think I should be almost popular
If this went on!'–I ripped my verses up,
And found no blood upon the rapier's point:
The heart in them was just an embryo's heart,
Which never yet had beat, that it should die:
Just gasps of make-believe galvanic life;
Mere tones, inorganised to any tune.

And yet I felt it in me where it burnt,
Like those hot fire-seeds of creation held
In Jove's clenched palm before the worlds were sown;
But II was not Juno even! my hand
Was shut in weak convulsion, woman's ill,
And when I yearned to loose a finger–lo,
The nerve revolted. 'Tis the same even now:
This hand may never, haply, open large,
Before the spark is quenched, or the palm charred,
To prove the power not else than by the pain.

It burns, it burnt–my whole life burnt with it,
And light, not sunlight and not torchlight, flashed
My steps out through the slow and difficult road.
I had grown distrustful of too forward Springs,
The season's books in drear significance
Of morals, dropping round me. Lively books?
The ash has livelier verdure than the yew;
And yet the yew's green longer, and alone
Found worthy of the holy Christmas time.
We'll plant more yews if possible, albeit
We plant the graveyards with them.
Day and night
I worked my rhythmic thought, and furrowed up
Both watch and slumber with long lines of life
Which did not suit their season. The rose fell
From either cheek, my eyes globed luminous
Through orbits of blue shadow, and my pulse
Would shudder along the purple-veined wrist
Like a shot bird. Youth's stern, set face to face
With youth's ideal: and when people came
And said, 'You work too much, you are looking ill,'
I smiled for pity of them who pitied me,
And thought I should be better soon perhaps
For those ill looks. Observe–' I,' means in youth
Just I . . the conscious and eternal soul
With all its ends,–and not the outside life,
The parcel-man, the doublet of the flesh,
The so much liver, lung, integument,
Which make the sum of 'I' hereafter, when
World-talkers talk of doing well or ill.
I prosper, if I gain a step, although
A nail then pierced my foot: although my brain
Embracing any truth, froze paralysed,
I prosper. I but change my instrument;
I break the spade off, digging deep for gold,
And catch the mattock up.
I worked on, on.
Through all the bristling fence of nights and days
Which hedges time in from the eternities,
I struggled, . . never stopped to note the stakes
Which hurt me in my course. The midnight oil
Would stink sometimes; there came some vulgar needs:
I had to live, that therefore I might work.
And, being but poor, I was constrained, for life,
To work with one hand for the booksellers,
While working with the other for myself
And art. You swim with feet as well as hands
Or make small way. I apprehended this,–
In England, no one lives by verse that lives;
And, apprehending, I resolved by prose
To make a space to sphere my living verse.
I wrote for cyclopædias, magazines,
And weekly papers, holding up my name
To keep it from the mud. I learnt the use
Of the editorial 'we' in a review,
As courtly ladies the fine trick of trains,
And swept it grandly through the open doors
As if one could not pass through doors at all
Save so encumbered. I wrote tales beside,
Carved many an article on cherry-stones
To suit light readers,–something in the lines
Revealing, it was said, the mallet-hand,
But that, I'll never vouch for. What you do
For bread, will taste of common grain, not grapes,
Although you have a vineyard in Champagne,–
Much less in Nephelococcygia,
As mine was, peradventure.
Having bread
For just so many days, just breathing room
For body and verse, I stood up straight and worked
My veritable work. And as the soul
Which grows within a child, makes the child grow,–
Or as the fiery sap, the touch from God,
Careering through a tree, dilates the bark,
And roughs with scale and knob, before it strikes
The summer foliage out in a green flame–
So life, in deepening with me, deepened all
The course I took, the work I did. Indeed,
The academic law convinced of sin;
The critics cried out on the falling off
Regretting the first manner. But I felt
My heart's life throbbing in my verse to show
It lived, it also–certes incomplete,
Disordered with all Adam in the blood,
But even its very tumours, warts, and wens,
Still organised by, and implying life.

A lady called upon me on such a day.
She had the low voice of your English dames,
Unused, it seems, to need rise half a note
To catch attention,–and their quiet mood,
As if they lived too high above the earth
For that to put them out in anything:
So gentle, because verily so proud;
So wary and afeared of hurting you,
By no means that you are not really vile,
But that they would not touch you with their foot
To push you to your place; so self-possessed
Yet gracious and conciliating, it takes
An effort in their presence to speak truth:
You know the sort of woman,–brilliant stuff,
And out of nature. 'Lady Waldemar.'
She said her name quite simply, as if it meant
Not much indeed, but something,–took my hands,
And smiled, as if her smile could help my case,
And dropped her eyes on me, and let them melt.
'Is this,' she said, 'the Muse?'
'No sibyl even,'
I answered, 'since she fails to guess the cause
Which taxed you with this visit, madam.'
'Good,'
She said, 'I like to be sincere at once;
Perhaps, if I had found a literal Muse,
The visit might have taxed me. As it is,
You wear your blue so chiefly in your eyes,
My fair Aurora, in a frank good way,
It comforts me entirely for your fame,
As well as for the trouble of my ascent
To this Olympus. '
There, a silver laugh
Ran rippling through her quickened little breaths
The steep stair somewhat justified.
'But still
Your ladyship has left me curious why
You dared the risk of finding the said Muse?'

'Ah,–keep me, notwithstanding, to the point
Like any pedant. Is the blue in eyes
As awful as in stockings, after all,
I wonder, that you'd have my business out
Before I breathe–exact the epic plunge
In spite of gasps? Well, naturally you think
I've come here, as the lion-hunters go
To deserts, to secure you, with a trap
For exhibition in my drawing-rooms
On zoologic soirées? Not in the least.
Roar softly at me; I am frivolous,
I dare say; I have played at lions, too
Like other women of my class,–but now
I meet my lion simply as Androcles
Met his . . when at his mercy.'
So, she bent
Her head, as queens may mock,–then lifting up
Her eyelids with a real grave queenly look,
Which ruled, and would not spare, not even herself,
'I think you have a cousin:–Romney Leigh.'

'You bring a word from him? '–my eyes leapt up
To the very height of hers,– 'a word from him? '

'I bring a word about him, actually.
But first,'–she pressed me with her urgent eyes
'You do not love him,–you?'
'You're frank at least
In putting questions, madam,' I replied.
'I love my cousin cousinly–no more.'

'I guessed as much. I'm ready to be frank
In answering also, if you'll question me,
Or even with something less. You stand outside,
You artist women, of the common sex;
You share not with us, and exceed us so
Perhaps by what you're mulcted in, your hearts
Being starved to make your heads: so run the old
Traditions of you. I can therefore speak,
Without the natural shame which creatures feel
When speaking on their level, to their like.
There's many a papist she, would rather die
Than own to her maid she put a ribbon on
To catch the indifferent eye of such a man,–
Who yet would count adulteries on her beads
At holy Mary's shrine, and never blush;
Because the saints are so far off, we lose
All modesty before them. Thus, to-day.
'Tis I, love Romney Leigh.'
'Forbear,' I cried.
'If here's no muse, still less is any saint;
Nor even a friend, that Lady Waldemar
Should make confessions' . .
'That's unkindly said.
If no friend, what forbids to make a friend
To join to our confession ere we have done?
I love your cousin. If it seems unwise
To say so, it's still foolisher (we're frank)
To feel so. My first husband left me young,
And pretty enough, so please you, and rich enough,
To keep my booth in May-fair with the rest
To happy issues. There are marquises
Would serve seven years to call me wife, I know:
And, after seven, I might consider it,
For there's some comfort in a marquisate
When all's said,–yes, but after the seven years;
I, now, love Romney. You put up your lip,
So like a Leigh! so like him!–Pardon me,
I am well aware I do not derogate
In loving Romney Leigh. The name is good,
The means are excellent; but the man, the man
Heaven help us both,–I am near as mad as he
In loving such an one.'
She slowly wrung
Her heavy ringlets till they touched her smile,
As reasonably sorry for herself;
And thus continued,–
'Of a truth, Miss Leigh,
I have not, without a struggle, come to this.
I took a master in the German tongue,
I gamed a little, went to Paris twice;
But, after all, this love! . . . you eat of love,
And do as vile a thing as if you ate
Of garlic–which, whatever else you eat,
Tastes uniformly acrid, till your peach
Reminds you of your onion! Am I coarse?
Well, love's coarse, nature's coarse–ah there's the rub!
We fair fine ladies, who park out our lives
From common sheep-paths, cannot help the crows
From flying over,–we're as natural still
As Blowsalinda. Drape us perfectly
In Lyons' velvet,–we are not, for that,
Lay-figures, like you! we have hearts within,
Warm, live, improvident, indecent hearts,
As ready for distracted ends and acts
As any distressed sempstress of them all
That Romney groans and toils for. We catch love
And other fevers, in the vulgar way.
Love will not be outwitted by our wit,
Nor outrun by our equipages:–mine
Persisted, spite of efforts. All my cards
Turned up but Romney Leigh; my German stopped
At germane Wertherism; my Paris rounds
Returned me from the Champs Elysées just
A ghost, and sighing like Dido's. I came home
Uncured,–convicted rather to myself
Of being in love . . in love! That's coarse you'll say
I'm talking garlic.'
Coldly I replied.
'Apologise for atheism, not love!
For, me, I do believe in love, and God.
I know my cousin: Lady Waldemar
I know not: yet I say as much as this–
Whoever loves him, let her not excuse
But cleanse herself; that, loving such a man,
She may not do it with such unworthy love
He cannot stoop and take it.'
'That is said
Austerely, like a youthful prophetess,
Who knits her brows across her pretty eyes
To keep them back from following the grey flight
Of doves between the temple-columns. Dear,
Be kinder with me. Let us two be friends.
I'm a mere woman–the more weak perhaps
Through being so proud; you're better; as for him,
He's best. Indeed he builds his goodness up
So high, it topples down to the other side,
And makes a sort of badness; there's the worst
I have to say against your cousin's best!
And so be mild, Aurora, with my worst,
For his sake, if not mine.'
'I own myself
Incredulous of confidence like this
Availing him or you.'
'I, worthy of him?
In your sense I am not so–let it pass.
And yet I save him if I marry him;
Let that pass too.'
'Pass, pass, we play police
Upon my cousin's life, to indicate
What may or may not pass?' I cried. 'He knows
what's worthy of him; the choice remains with him;
And what he chooses, act or wife, I think
I shall not call unworthy, I, for one.'
'Tis somewhat rashly said,' she answered slow.
Now let's talk reason, though we talk of love.
Your cousin Romney Leigh's a monster! there,
The word's out fairly; let me prove the fact.
We'll take, say, that most perfect of antiques,
They call the Genius of the Vatican,
Which seems too beauteous to endure itself
In this mixed world, and fasten it for once
Upon the torso of the Drunken Fawn,
(Who might limp surely, if he did not dance,)
Instead of Buonarroti's mask: what then?
We show the sort of monster Romney is,
With god-like virtue and heroic aims
Subjoined to limping possibilities
Of mismade human nature. Grant the man
Twice godlike, twice heroic,–still he limps,
And here's the point we come to.'
'Pardon me,
But, Lady Waldemar, the point's the thing
We never come to.'
'Caustic, insolent
At need! I like you'–(there, she took my hands)
'And now my lioness, help Androcles,
For all your roaring. Help me! for myself
I would not say so–but for him. He limps
So certainly, he'll fall into the pit
A week hence,–so I lose him–so he is lost!
And when he's fairly married, he a Leigh,
To a girl of doubtful life, undoubtful birth,
Starved out in London, till her coarse-grained hands
Are whiter than her morals,–you, for one,
May call his choice most worthy.'
'Married! lost!
He, . . . Romney!'
'Ah, you're moved at last,' she said.
'These monsters, set out in the open sun,
Of course throw monstrous shadows: those who think
Awry, will scarce act straightly. Who but he?
And who but you can wonder? He has been mad,
The whole world knows, since first, a nominal man,
He soured the proctors, tried the gownsmen's wits,
With equal scorn of triangles and wine,
And took no honours, yet was honourable.
They'll tell you he lost count of Homer's ships
In Melbourne's poor-bills, Ashley's factory bills,–
Ignored the Aspasia we all dared to praise,
For other women, dear, we could not name
Because we're decent. Well, he had some right
On his side probably; men always have,
Who go absurdly wrong. The living boor
Who brews your ale, exceeds in vital worth
Dead Caesar who 'stops bungholes' in the cask;
And also, to do good is excellent,
For persons of his income, even to boors:
I sympathise with all such things. But he
Went mad upon them . . madder and more mad,
From college times to these,–as, going down hill,
The faster still, the farther! you must know
Your Leigh by heart; he has sown his black young curls
With bleaching cares of half a million men
Already. If you do not starve, or sin,
You're nothing to him. Pay the income-tax,
And break your heart upon't . . . he'll scarce be touched;
But come upon the parish, qualified
For the parish stocks, and Romney will be there
To call you brother, sister, or perhaps
A tenderer name still. Had I any chance
With Mister Leigh, who am Lady Waldemar,
And never committed felony?'
'You speak
Too bitterly,' I said, 'for the literal truth.'

'The truth is bitter. Here's a man who looks
For ever on the ground! you must be low;
Or else a pictured ceiling overhead,
Good painting thrown away. For me, I've done
What women may, (we're somewhat limited,
We modest women) but I've done my best.
–How men are perjured when they swear our eyes
Have meaning in them! they're just blue or brown,–
They just can drop their lids a little. In fact,
Mine did more, for I read half Fourier through,
Proudhon, Considerant, and Louis Blanc
With various other of his socialists;
And if I had been a fathom less in love,
Had cured myself with gaping. As it was,
I quoted from them prettily enough,
Perhaps, to make them sound half rational
To a saner man than he, whene'er we talked,
(For which I dodged occasion)–learnt by heart
His speeches in the Commons and elsewhere
Upon the social question; heaped reports
Of wicked women and penitentiaries,
On all my tables, with a place for Sue;
And gave my name to swell subscription-lists
Toward keeping up the sun at nights in heaven,
And other possible ends. All things I did,
Except the impossible . . such as wearing gowns
Provided by the Ten Hours' movement! there,
I stopped–we must stop somewhere. He, meanwhile,
Unmoved as the Indian tortoise 'neath the world
Let all that noise go on upon his back;
He would not disconcert or throw me out;
'Twas well to see a woman of my class
With such a dawn of conscience. For the heart,
Made firewood for his sake, and flaming up
To his very face . . he warmed his feet at it:
But deigned to let my carriage stop him short
In park or street,–he leaning on the door
With news of the committee which sate last
On pickpockets at suck.'

'You jest–you jest.'

'As martyrs jest, dear (if you read their lives),
Upon the axe which kills them. When all's done
By me, . . for himyou'll ask him presently
The color of my hair–he cannot tell,
Or answers 'dark' at random,–while, be sure,
He's absolute on the figure, five or ten,
Of my last subscription. Is it bearable,
And I a woman?'
'Is it reparable,
Though I were a man?'
'I know not. That's to prove.
But, first, this shameful marriage?'
'Ay?' I cried.
'Then really there's a marriage.'
'Yesterday
I held him fast upon it. 'Mister Leigh,'
Said I, 'shut up a thing, it makes more noise.
'The boiling town keeps secrets ill; I've known
'Yours since last week. Forgive my knowledge so:
'You feel I'm not the woman of the world
'The world thinks; you have borne with me before
'And used me in your noble work, our work,
'And now you shall not cast me off because
'You're at the difficult point, the join. 'Tis true
'Even if I can scarce admit the cogency
'Of such a marriage . . where you do not love
'(Except the class), yet marry and throw your name
'Down to the gutter, for a fire-escape
'To future generation! it's sublime,
'A great example,–a true Genesis
'Of the opening social era. But take heed;
'This virtuous act must have a patent weight,
'Or loses half its virtue. Make it tell,
'Interpret it, and set it in the light,
'And do not muffle it in a winter-cloak
'As a vulgar bit of shame,–as if, at best,
'A Leigh had made a misalliance and blushed
'A Howard should know it.' Then, I pressed him more
'He would not choose,' I said, 'that even his kin, . .
'Aurora Leigh, even . . should conceive his act
'Less sacrifice, more appetite.' At which
He grew so pale, dear, . . to the lips, I knew
I had touched him. 'Do you know her,' he inquired,
'My cousin Aurora?' 'Yes,' I said, and lied
(But truly we all know you by your books),
And so I offered to come straight to you,
Explain the subject, justify the cause,
And take you with me to Saint Margaret's Court
To see this miracle, this Marian Erle,
This drover's daughter (she's not pretty, he swears),
Upon whose finger, exquisitely pricked
By a hundred needles, we're to hang the tie
'Twixt class and class in England,–thus indeed
By such a presence, yours and mine, to lift
The match up from the doubtful place. At once
He thanked me, sighing, . . murmured to himself
'She'll do it perhaps; she's noble,'–thanked me, twice,
And promised, as my guerdon, to put off
His marriage for a month.'
I answered then.
'I understand your drift imperfectly.
You wish to lead me to my cousin's betrothed,
To touch her hand if worthy, and hold her hand
If feeble, thus to justify his match.
So be it then. But how this serves your ends,
And how the strange confession of your love
Serves this, I have to learnI cannot see.'

She knit her restless forehead. 'Then, despite,
Aurora, that most radiant morning name,
You're dull as any London afternoon.
I wanted time,–and gained it,–wanted you,
And gain you! You will come and see the girl
In whose most prodigal eyes, the lineal pearl
And pride of all your lofty race of Leighs
Is destined to solution. Authorised
By sight and knowledge, then, you'll speak your mind,
And prove to Romney, in your brilliant way,
He'll wrong the people and posterity
(Say such a thing is bad for you and me,
And you fail utterly), by concluding thus
An execrable marriage. Break it up.
Disroot it–peradventure, presently,
We'll plant a better fortune in its place.
Be good to me, Aurora, scorn me less
For saying the thing I should not. Well I know
I should not. I have kept, as others have,
The iron rule of womanly reserve
In lip and life, till now: I wept a week
Before I came here.'–Ending, she was pale;
The last words, haughtily said, were tremulous.
This palfrey pranced in harness, arched her neck,
And, only by the foam upon the bit,
You saw she champed against it.
Then I rose.
'I love love: truth's no cleaner thing than love.
I comprehend a love so fiery hot
It burns its natural veil of august shame,
And stands sublimely in the nude, as chaste
As Medicean Venus. But I know,
A love that burns through veils will burn through masks
And shrivel up treachery. What, love and lie!
Nay–go to the opera! your love's curable.'

'I love and lie!' she said–'I lie, forsooth?'
And beat her taper foot upon the floor,
And smiled against the shoe,–'You're hard, Miss Leigh,
Unversed in current phrases.–Bowling-greens
Of poets are fresher than the world's highways:
Forgive me that I rashly blew the dust
Which dims our hedges even, in your eyes,
And vexed you so much. You find, probably,
No evil in this marriage,–rather good
Of innocence, to pastoralise in song:
You'll give the bond your signature, perhaps,
Beneath the lady's work,–indifferent
That Romney chose a wife, could write her name,
In witnessing he loved her.'
'Loved!' I cried;
'Who tells you that he wants a wife to love?
He gets a horse to use, not love, I think:
There's work for wives as well,–and after, straw,
When men are liberal. For myself, you err
Supposing power in me to break this match.
I could not do it, to save Romney's life,
And would not, to save mine.'
'You take it so,'
She said, 'farewell then. Write your books in peace,
As far as may be for some secret stir
Now obvious to me,–for, most obviously,
In coming hither I mistook the way.'
Whereat she touched my hand and bent her head,
And floated from me like a silent cloud
That leaves the sense of thunder.
I drew breath,
As hard as in a sick-room. After all,
This woman breaks her social system up
For love, so counted–the love possible
To such,–and lilies are still lilies, pulled
By smutty hands, though spotted from their white;
And thus she is better, haply, of her kind,
Than Romney Leigh, who lives by diagrams,
And crosses out the spontaneities
Of all his individual, personal life
With formal universals. As if man
Were set upon a high stool at a desk,
To keep God's books for Him, in red and black,
And feel by millions! What, if even God
Were chiefly God by living out Himself
To an individualism of the Infinite,
Eterne, intense, profuse,–still throwing up
The golden spray of multitudinous worlds
In measure to the proclive weight and rush
Of his inner nature,–the spontaneous love
Still proof and outflow of spontaneous life?
Then live, Aurora!
Two hours afterward,
Within Saint Margaret's Court I stood alone,
Close-veiled. A sick child, from an ague-fit,
Whose wasted right hand gambled 'gainst his left
With an old brass button, in a blot of sun,
Jeered weakly at me as I passed across
The uneven pavement; while a woman, rouged
Upon the angular cheek-bones, kerchief torn,
Thin dangling locks, and flat lascivious mouth,
Cursed at a window, both ways, in and out,
By turns some bed-rid creature and myself,–
'Lie still there, mother! liker the dead dog
You'll be to-morrow. What, we pick our way,
Fine madam, with those damnable small feet!
We cover up our face from doing good,
As if it were our purse! What brings you here,
My lady? is't to find my gentleman
Who visits his tame pigeon in the eaves?
Our cholera catch you with its cramps and spasms,
And tumble up your good clothes, veil and all,
And turn your whiteness dead-blue.' I looked up;
I think I could have walked through hell that day,
And never flinched. 'The dear Christ comfort you,'
I said, 'you must have been most miserable
To be so cruel,'–and I emptied out
My purse upon the stones: when, as I had cast
The last charm in the cauldron, the whole court
Went boiling, bubbling up, from all its doors
And windows, with a hideous wail of laughs
And roar of oaths, and blows perhaps . . I passed
Too quickly for distinguishing . . and pushed
A little side-door hanging on a hinge,
And plunged into the dark, and groped and climbed
The long, steep, narrow stair 'twixt broken rail
And mildewed wall that let the plaster drop
To startle me in the blackness. Still, up, up!
So high lived Romney's bride. I paused at last
Before a low door in the roof, and knocked;
There came an answer like a hurried dove–
'So soon! can that be Mister Leigh? so soon?'
And, as I entered, an ineffable face
Met mine upon the threshold. 'Oh, not you,
Not you!' . . the dropping of the voice implied;
'Then, if not you, for me not any one.'
I looked her in the eyes, and held her hands,
And said 'I am his cousin,–Romney Leigh's;
And here I'm come to see my cousin too.'
She touched me with her face and with her voice,
This daughter of the people. Such soft flowers
From such rough roots? The people, under there,
Can sin so, curse so, look so, smell so . . . faugh!
Yet have such daughters!
Nowise beautiful
Was Marian Erle. She was not white nor brown,
But could look either, like a mist that changed
According to being shone on more or less:
The hair, too, ran its opulence of curls
In doubt 'twixt dark and bright, nor left you clear
To name the color. Too much hair perhaps
(I'll name a fault here) for so small a head,
Which seemed to droop on that side and on this,
As a full-blown rose uneasy with its weight,
Though not a breath should trouble it. Again,
The dimple in the cheek had better gone
With redder, fuller rounds; and somewhat large
The mouth was, though the milky little teeth
Dissolved it to so infantile a smile!
For soon it smiled at me; the eyes smiled too,
But 'twas as if remembering they had wept,
And knowing they should, some day, weep again.

We talked. She told me all her story out,
Which I'll re-tell with fuller utterance,
As coloured and confirmed in aftertimes
By others, and herself too. Marian Erle
Was born upon the ledge of Malvern Hill,
To eastward, in a hut, built up at night,
To evade the landlord's eye, of mud and turf,
Still liable, if once he looked that way,
To being straight levelled, scattered by his foot,
Like any other anthill. Born, I say;
God sent her to his world, commissioned right,
Her human testimonials fully signed,
Not scant in soul–complete in lineaments;
But others had to swindle her a place
To wail in when she had come. No place for her,
By man's law! born an outlaw, was this babe;
Her first cry in our strange and strangling air,
When cast in spasms out by the shuddering womb,
Was wrong against the social code,–forced wrong.
What business had the baby to cry there?

I tell her story and grow passionate.
She, Marian, did not tell it so, but used
Meek words that made no wonder of herself
For being so sad a creature. 'Mister Leigh
Considered truly that such things should change.
They will, in heaven–but meantime, on the earth,
There's none can like a nettle as a pink,
Except himself. We're nettles, some of us,
And give offence by the act of springing up;
And, if we leave the damp side of the wall,
The hoes, of course, are on us.' So she said.
Her father earned his life by random jobs
Despised by steadier workmen–keeping swine
On commons, picking hops, or hurrying on
The harvest at wet seasons,–or, at need,
Assisting the Welsh drovers, when a drove
Of startled horses plunged into the mist
Below the mountain-road, and sowed the wind
With wandering neighings. In between the gaps
Of such irregular work, he drank and slept,
And cursed his wife because, the pence being out,
She could not buy more drink. At which she turned,
(The worm), and beat her baby in revenge
For her own broken heart. There's not a crime
But takes its proper change out still in crime
If once rung on the counter of this world:
Let sinners look to it.
Yet the outcast child,
For whom the very mother's face forewent
The mother's special patience, lived and grew;
Learnt early to cry low, and walk alone,
With that pathetic vacillating roll
Of the infant body on the uncertain feet,
(The earth being felt unstable ground so soon)
At which most women's arms unclose at once
With irrepressive instinct. Thus, at three,
This poor weaned kid would run off from the fold,
This babe would steal off from the mother's chair,
And, creeping through the golden walls of gorse,
Would find some keyhole toward the secrecy
Of Heaven's high blue, and, nestling down, peer out
Oh, not to catch the angels at their games,
She had never heard of angels, but to gaze
She knew not why, to see she knew not what,
A-hungering outward from the barren earth
For something like a joy. She liked, she said,
To dazzle black her sight against the sky,
For then, it seemed, some grand blind Love came down,
And groped her out, and clasped her with a kiss;
She learnt God that way, and was beat for it
Whenever she went home,–yet came again,
As surely as the trapped hare, getting free,
Returns to his form. This grand blind Love, she said,
This skyey father and mother both in one,
Instructed her and civilised her more
Than even the Sunday-school did afterward,
To which a lady sent her to learn books
And sit upon a long bench in a row
With other children. Well, she laughed sometimes
To see them laugh and laugh, and moil their texts;
But ofter she was sorrowful with noise,
And wondered if their mothers beat them hard
That ever they should laugh so. There was one
She loved indeed,–Rose Bell, a seven years' child,
So pretty and clever, who read syllables
When Marian was at letters; she would laugh
At nothing–hold your finger up, she laughed,
Then shook her curls down on her eyes and mouth
To hide her make-mirth from the schoolmaster.
And Rose's pelting glee, as frank as rain
On cherry-blossoms, brightened Marian too,
To see another merry whom she loved.
She whispered once (the children side by side,
With mutual arms entwined about their necks)
'Your mother lets you laugh so?' 'Ay,' said Rose,
'She lets me. She was dug into the ground
Six years since, I being but a yearling wean.
Such mothers let us play and lose our time,
And never scold nor beat us! Don't you wish
You had one like that?' There, Marian, breaking off
Looked suddenly in my face. 'Poor Rose,' said she,
'I heard her laugh last night in Oxford Street.
I'd pour out half my blood to stop that laugh,–
Poor Rose, poor Rose!' said Marian.
She resumed.
It tried her, when she had learnt at Sunday-school
What God was, what he wanted from us all,
And how, in choosing sin, we vexed the Christ,
To go straight home and hear her father pull
The name down on us from the thunder-shelf,
Then drink away his soul into the dark
From seeing judgment. Father, mother, home,
Were God and heaven reversed to her: the more
She knew of Right, the more she guessed their wrong:
Her price paid down for knowledge, was to know
The vileness of her kindred: through her heart,
Her filial and tormented heart, henceforth
They struck their blows at virtue. Oh, 'tis hard
To learn you have a father up in heaven
By a gathering certain sense of being, on earth,
Still worse than orphaned: 'tis too heavy a grief,
The having to thank God for such a joy!

And so passed Marian's life from year to year.
Her parents took her with them when they tramped,
Dodged lanes and heaths, frequented towns and fairs,
And once went farther and saw Manchester,
And once the sea, that blue end of the world,
That fair scroll-finis of a wicked book,–
And twice a prison, back at intervals,
Returning to the hills. Hills draw like heaven,
And stronger sometimes, holding out their hands
To pull you from the vile flats up to them;
And though, perhaps, these strollers still strolled back,
As sheep do, simply that they knew the way,
They certainly felt bettered unawares
Emerging from the social smut of towns
To wipe their feet clean on the mountain turf.
In which long wanderings, Marian lived and learned,
Endured and learned. The people on the roads
Would stop and ask her how her eyes outgrew
Her cheeks, and if she meant to lodge the birds
In all that hair; and then they lifted her,
The miller in his cart, a mile or twain,
The butcher's boy on horseback. Often, too,
The pedlar stopped, and tapped her on the head
With absolute forefinger, brown and ringed,
And asked if peradventure she could read:
And when she answered 'ay,' would toss her down
Some stray odd volume from his heavy pack,
A Thomson's Seasons, mulcted of the Spring,
Or half a play of Shakespeare's, torn across:
(She had to guess the bottom of a page
By just the top sometimes,–as difficult,
As, sitting on the moon, to guess the earth!),
Or else a sheaf of leaves (for that small Ruth's
Small gleanings) torn out from the heart of books,
From Churchyard Elegies and Edens Lost,
From Burns, and Bunyan, Selkirk, and Tom Jones.
'Twas somewhat hard to keep the things distinct,
And oft the jangling influence jarred the child
Like looking at a sunset full of grace
Through a pothouse window while the drunken oaths
Went on behind her; but she weeded out
Her book-leaves, threw away the leaves that hurt,
(First tore them small, that none should find a word),
And made a nosegay of the sweet and good
To fold within her breast, and pore upon
At broken moments of the noontide glare,
When leave was given her to untie her cloak
And rest upon the dusty roadside bank
From the highway's dust. Or oft, the journey done,
Some city friend would lead her by the hand
To hear a lecture at an institute.
And thus she had grown, this Marian Erle of ours,
To no book-learning,–she was ignorant
Of authors,–not in earshot of the things
Out-spoken o'er the heads of common men,
By men who are uncommon,–but within
The cadenced hum of such, and capable
Of catching from the fringes of the wind
Some fragmentary phrases, here and there,
Of that fine music,–which, being carried in
To her soul, had reproduced itself afresh
In finer motions of the lips and lids.

She said, in speaking of it, 'If a flower
Were thrown you out of heaven at intervals,
You'd soon attain to a trick of looking up,–
And so with her.' She counted me her years,
Till I felt old; and then she counted me
Her sorrowful pleasures, till I felt ashamed.
She told me she was almost glad and calm
On such and such a season; sate and sewed,
With no one to break up her crystal thoughts:
While rhymes from lovely poems span around
Their ringing circles of ecstatic tune,
Beneath the moistened finger of the Hour.
Her parents called her a strange, sickly child,
Not good for much, and given to sulk and stare,
And smile into the hedges and the clouds,
And tremble if one shook her from her fit
By any blow, or word even. Out-door jobs
Went ill with her; and household quiet work
She was not born to. Had they kept the north,
They might have had their pennyworth out of her
Like other parents, in the factories;
(Your children work for you, not you for them,
Or else they better had been choked with air
The first breath drawn;) but, in this tramping life,
Was nothing to be done with such a child,
But tramp and tramp. And yet she knitted hose
Not ill, and was not dull at needlework;
And all the country people gave her pence
For darning stockings past their natural age,
And patching petticoats from old to new,
And other light work done for thrifty wives.

One day, said Marian–the sun shone that day–
Her mother had been badly beat, and felt
The bruises sore about her wretched soul
(That must have been): she came in suddenly,
And snatching, in a sort of breathless rage,
Her daughter's headgear comb, let down the hair
Upon her, like a sudden waterfall,
Then drew her drenched and passive, by the arm,
Outside the hut they lived in. When the child
Could clear her blinded face from all that stream
Of tresses . . there, a man stood, with beasts' eyes
That seemed as they would swallow her alive,
Complete in body and spirit, hair and all,–
With burning stertorous breath that hurt her cheek,
He breathed so near. The mother held her tight,
Saying hard between her teeth–'Why wench, why wench,
The squire speaks to you now–the squire's too good,
He means to set you up and comfort us.
Be mannerly at least.' The child turned round
And looked up piteous in the mother's face
(Be sure that mother's death-bed will not want
Another devil to damn, than such a look),
'Oh, mother!' then, with desperate glance to heaven,
'Good, free me from my mother,' she shrieked out,
'These mothers are too dreadful.' And, with force
As passionate as fear, she tore her hands,
Like lilies from the rocks, from hers and his,
And sprang down, bounded headlong down the steep,
Away from both–away, if possible,
As far as God,–away! They yelled at her,
As famished hounds at a hare. She heard them yell;
She felt her name hiss after her from the hills,
Like shot from guns. On, on. And now she had cast
The voices off with the uplands. On. Mad fear
Was running in her feet and killing the ground;
The white roads curled as if she burnt them up,
The green fields melted, wayside trees fell back
To make room for her. Then her head grew vexed;
Trees, fields, turned on her and ran after her;
She heard the quick pants of the hills behind,
Their keen air pricked her neck. She had lost her feet,
Could run no more, yet somehow went as fast,–
The horizon, red, 'twixt steeples in the east
So sucked her forward, forward, while her heart
Kept swelling, swelling, till it swelled so big
It seemed to fill her body; then it burst,
And overflowed the world and swamped the light,
'And now I am dead and safe,' thought Marian Erle–
She had dropped, she had fainted.
When the sense returned,
The night had passed–not life's night. She was 'ware
Of heavy tumbling motions, creaking wheels,
The driver shouting to the lazy team
That swung their rankling bells against her brain,
While, through the waggon's coverture and chinks,
The cruel yellow morning pecked at her
Alive or dead, upon the straw inside,–
At which her soul ached back into the dark
And prayed, 'no more of that.' A waggoner
Had found her in a ditch beneath the moon,
As white as moonshine, save for the oozing blood.
At first he thought her dead; but when he had wiped
The mouth and heard it sigh, he raised her up,
And laid her in his waggon in the straw,
And so conveyed her to the distant town
To which his business called himself, and left
That heap of misery at the hospital.

She stirred;–the place seemed new and strange as death.
The white strait bed, with others strait and white,
Like graves dug side by side, at measured lengths,
And quiet people walking in and out
With wonderful low voices and soft steps,
And apparitional equal care for each,
Astonished her with order, silence, law:
And when a gentle hand held out a cup,
She took it, as you do at sacrament,
Half awed, half melted,–not being used, indeed,
To so much love as makes the form of love
And courtesy of manners. Delicate drinks
And rare white bread, to which some dying eyes
Were turned in observation. O my God,
How sick we must be, ere we make men just!
I think it frets the saints in heaven to see
How many Desolate creatures on the earth
Have learnt the simple dues of fellowship
And social comfort, in a hospital,
As Marian did. She lay there, stunned, half tranced,
And wished, at intervals of growing sense,
She might be sicker yet, if sickness made
The world so marvellous kind, the air so hushed,
And all her wake-time quiet as a sleep;
For now she understood, (as such things were)
How sickness ended very oft in heaven,
Among the unspoken raptures. Yet more sick,
And surelier happy. Then she dropped her lids,
And, folding up her hands as flowers at night,
Would lose no moment of the blessed time.

She lay and seethed in fever many weeks;
But youth was strong and overcame the test;
Revolted soul and flesh were reconciled
And fetched back to the necessary day
And daylight duties. She could creep about
The long bare rooms, and stare out drearily
From any narrow window on the street,
Till some one, who had nursed her as a friend,
Said coldly to her, as an enemy,
'She had leave to go next week, being well enough,'
While only her heart ached. 'Go next week,' thought she,
'Next week! how would it be with her next week,
Let out into that terrible street alone
Among the pushing people, . . to go . . where?'

One day, the last before the dreaded last,
Among the convalescents, like herself
Prepared to go next morning, she sate dumb,
And heard half absently the women talk,
How one was famished for her baby's cheeks–
'The little wretch would know her! a year old,
And lively, like his father!' one was keen
To get to work, and fill some clamorous mouths;
And one was tender for her dear goodman
Who had missed her sorely,–and one, querulous . .
'Would pay those scandalous neighbours who had dared
To talk about her as already dead,'–
And one was proud . . 'and if her sweetheart Luke
Had left her for a ruddier face than hers,
(The gossip would be seen through at a glance)
Sweet riddance of such sweethearts–let him hang!
'Twere good to have been as sick for such an end.'

And while they talked, and Marian felt the worse
For having missed the worst of all their wrongs,
A visitor was ushered through the wards
And paused among the talkers. 'When he looked,
It was as if he spoke, and when he spoke
He sang perhaps,' said Marian; 'could she tell?
She only knew' (so much she had chronicled,
As seraphs might, the making of the sun)
'That he who came and spake was Romney Leigh,
And then, and there, she saw and heard him first.'
And when it was her turn to have the face
Upon her,–all those buzzing pallid lips
Being satisfied with comfort–when he changed
To Marian, saying, 'And you? You're going, where?'–
She, moveless as a worm beneath a stone
Which some one's stumbling foot has spurned aside,
Writhed suddenly, astonished with the light,
And breaking into sobs cried, 'Where I go?
None asked me till this moment. Can I say
Where I go? When it has not seemed worth while
To God himself, who thinks of every one,
To think of me, and fix where I shall go?'

'So young,' he gently asked her, 'you have lost
Your father and your mother?'
'Both' she said,
'Both lost! My father was burnt up with gin
Or ever I sucked milk, and so is lost.
My mother sold me to a man last month,
And so my mother's lost, 'tis manifest.
And I, who fled from her for miles and miles,
As if I had caught sight of the fires of hell
Through some wild gap, (she was my mother, sir)
It seems I shall be lost too, presently,
And so we end, all three of us.'
'Poor child!'
He said,–with such a pity in his voice,
It soothed her more than her own tears,–'poor child!
'Tis simple that betrayal by mother's love
Should bring despair of God's too. Yet be taught
He's better to us than many mothers are,
And children cannot wander beyond reach
Of the sweep of his white raiment. Touch and hold'
And if you weep still, weep where John was laid
While Jesus loved him.'
'She could say the words,'
She told me, 'exactly as he uttered them
A year back, . . since in any doubt or dark,
They came out like the stars, and shone on her
With just their comfort. Common words, perhaps;
The ministers in church might say the same;
But he, he made the church with what he spoke,–
The difference was the miracle,' said she.

Then catching up her smile to ravishment,
She added quickly, 'I repeat his words,
But not his tones: can any one repeat
The music of an organ, out of church?
And when he said 'poor child,' I shut my eyes
To feel how tenderly his voice broke through,
As the ointment-box broke on the Holy feet
To let out the rich medicative nard.'

She told me how he had raised and rescued her
With reverent pity, as, in touching grief,
He touched the wounds of Christ,–and made her feel
More self-respecting. Hope, he called, belief
In God,–work, worship . . therefore let us pray!
And thus, to snatch her soul from atheism,
And keep it stainless from her mother's face,
He sent her to a famous sempstress-house
Far off in London, there to work and hope.

With that they parted. She kept sight of Heaven,
But not of Romney. He had good to do
To others: through the days and through the nights,
She sewed and sewed and sewed. She drooped sometimes,
And wondered, while, along the tawny light,
She struck the new thread into her needle's eye,
How people without mothers on the hills,
Could choose the town to live in!–then she drew
The stitch, and mused how Romney's face would look,
And if 'twere likely he'd remember hers,
When they two had their meeting after death.

poem by from Aurora Leigh (1856)Report problemRelated quotes
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I. The Ring and the Book

Do you see this Ring?
'T is Rome-work, made to match
(By Castellani's imitative craft)
Etrurian circlets found, some happy morn,
After a dropping April; found alive
Spark-like 'mid unearthed slope-side figtree-roots
That roof old tombs at Chiusi: soft, you see,
Yet crisp as jewel-cutting. There's one trick,
(Craftsmen instruct me) one approved device
And but one, fits such slivers of pure gold
As this was,—such mere oozings from the mine,
Virgin as oval tawny pendent tear
At beehive-edge when ripened combs o'erflow,—
To bear the file's tooth and the hammer's tap:
Since hammer needs must widen out the round,
And file emboss it fine with lily-flowers,
Ere the stuff grow a ring-thing right to wear.
That trick is, the artificer melts up wax
With honey, so to speak; he mingles gold
With gold's alloy, and, duly tempering both,
Effects a manageable mass, then works:
But his work ended, once the thing a ring,
Oh, there's repristination! Just a spirt
O' the proper fiery acid o'er its face,
And forth the alloy unfastened flies in fume;
While, self-sufficient now, the shape remains,
The rondure brave, the lilied loveliness,
Gold as it was, is, shall be evermore:
Prime nature with an added artistry—
No carat lost, and you have gained a ring.
What of it? 'T is a figure, a symbol, say;
A thing's sign: now for the thing signified.

Do you see this square old yellow Book, I toss
I' the air, and catch again, and twirl about
By the crumpled vellum covers,—pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since?
Examine it yourselves! I found this book,
Gave a lira for it, eightpence English just,
(Mark the predestination!) when a Hand,
Always above my shoulder, pushed me once,
One day still fierce 'mid many a day struck calm,
Across a Square in Florence, crammed with booths,
Buzzing and blaze, noontide and market-time,
Toward Baccio's marble,—ay, the basement-ledge
O' the pedestal where sits and menaces
John of the Black Bands with the upright spear,
'Twixt palace and church,—Riccardi where they lived,
His race, and San Lorenzo where they lie.
This book,—precisely on that palace-step
Which, meant for lounging knaves o' the Medici,
Now serves re-venders to display their ware,—
Mongst odds and ends of ravage, picture-frames
White through the worn gilt, mirror-sconces chipped,
Bronze angel-heads once knobs attached to chests,
(Handled when ancient dames chose forth brocade)
Modern chalk drawings, studies from the nude,
Samples of stone, jet, breccia, porphyry
Polished and rough, sundry amazing busts
In baked earth, (broken, Providence be praised!)
A wreck of tapestry, proudly-purposed web
When reds and blues were indeed red and blue,
Now offered as a mat to save bare feet
(Since carpets constitute a cruel cost)
Treading the chill scagliola bedward: then
A pile of brown-etched prints, two crazie each,
Stopped by a conch a-top from fluttering forth
—Sowing the Square with works of one and the same
Master, the imaginative Sienese
Great in the scenic backgrounds—(name and fame
None of you know, nor does he fare the worse:)
From these … Oh, with a Lionard going cheap
If it should prove, as promised, that Joconde
Whereof a copy contents the Louvre!—these
I picked this book from. Five compeers in flank
Stood left and right of it as tempting more
A dogseared Spicilegium, the fond tale
O' the Frail One of the Flower, by young Dumas,
Vulgarized Horace for the use of schools,
The Life, Death, Miracles of Saint Somebody,
Saint Somebody Else, his Miracles, Death and Life,—
With this, one glance at the lettered back of which,
And "Stall!" cried I: a lira made it mine.

Here it is, this I toss and take again;
Small-quarto size, part print part manuscript:
A book in shape but, really, pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since.
Give it me back! The thing's restorative
I'the touch and sight.

That memorable day,
(June was the month, Lorenzo named the Square)
I leaned a little and overlooked my prize
By the low railing round the fountain-source
Close to the statue, where a step descends:
While clinked the cans of copper, as stooped and rose
Thick-ankled girls who brimmed them, and made place
For marketmen glad to pitch basket down,
Dip a broad melon-leaf that holds the wet,
And whisk their faded fresh. And on I read
Presently, though my path grew perilous
Between the outspread straw-work, piles of plait
Soon to be flapping, each o'er two black eyes
And swathe of Tuscan hair, on festas fine:
Through fire-irons, tribes of tongs, shovels in sheaves,
Skeleton bedsteads, wardrobe-drawers agape,
Rows of tall slim brass lamps with dangling gear,—
And worse, cast clothes a-sweetening in the sun:
None of them took my eye from off my prize.
Still read I on, from written title-page
To written index, on, through street and street,
At the Strozzi, at the Pillar, at the Bridge;
Till, by the time I stood at home again
In Casa Guidi by Felice Church,
Under the doorway where the black begins
With the first stone-slab of the staircase cold,
I had mastered the contents, knew the whole truth
Gathered together, bound up in this book,
Print three-fifths, written supplement the rest.
"Romana Homicidiorum"—nay,
Better translate—"A Roman murder-case:
"Position of the entire criminal cause
"Of Guido Franceschini, nobleman,
"With certain Four the cutthroats in his pay,
"Tried, all five, and found guilty and put to death
"By heading or hanging as befitted ranks,
"At Rome on February Twenty Two,
"Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight:
"Wherein it is disputed if, and when,
"Husbands may kill adulterous wives, yet 'scape
"The customary forfeit."

Word for word,
So ran the title-page: murder, or else
Legitimate punishment of the other crime,
Accounted murder by mistake,—just that
And no more, in a Latin cramp enough
When the law had her eloquence to launch,
But interfilleted with Italian streaks
When testimony stooped to mother-tongue,—
That, was this old square yellow book about.

Now, as the ingot, ere the ring was forged,
Lay gold, (beseech you, hold that figure fast!)
So, in this book lay absolutely truth,
Fanciless fact, the documents indeed,
Primary lawyer-pleadings for, against,
The aforesaid Five; real summed-up circumstance
Adduced in proof of these on either side,
Put forth and printed, as the practice was,
At Rome, in the Apostolic Chamber's type,
And so submitted to the eye o' the Court
Presided over by His Reverence
Rome's Governor and Criminal Judge,—the trial
Itself, to all intents, being then as now
Here in the book and nowise out of it;
Seeing, there properly was no judgment-bar,
No bringing of accuser and accused,
And whoso judged both parties, face to face
Before some court, as we conceive of courts.
There was a Hall of Justice; that came last:
For Justice had a chamber by the hall
Where she took evidence first, summed up the same,
Then sent accuser and accused alike,
In person of the advocate of each,
To weigh its worth, thereby arrange, array
The battle. 'T was the so-styled Fisc began,
Pleaded (and since he only spoke in print
The printed voice of him lives now as then)
The public Prosecutor—"Murder's proved;
"With five … what we call qualities of bad,
"Worse, worst, and yet worse still, and still worse yet;
"Crest over crest crowning the cockatrice,
"That beggar hell's regalia to enrich
"Count Guido Franceschini: punish him!"
Thus was the paper put before the court
In the next stage, (no noisy work at all,)
To study at ease. In due time like reply
Came from the so-styled Patron of the Poor,
Official mouthpiece of the five accused
Too poor to fee a better,—Guido's luck
Or else his fellows',—which, I hardly know,—
An outbreak as of wonder at the world,
A fury-fit of outraged innocence,
A passion of betrayed simplicity:
"Punish Count Guido? For what crime, what hint
"O' the colour of a crime, inform us first!
"Reward him rather! Recognize, we say,
"In the deed done, a righteous judgment dealt!
"All conscience and all courage,—there's our Count
"Charactered in a word; and, what's more strange,
"He had companionship in privilege,
"Found four courageous conscientious friends:
"Absolve, applaud all five, as props of law,
"Sustainers of society!—perchance
"A trifle over-hasty with the hand
"To hold her tottering ark, had tumbled else;
"But that's a splendid fault whereat we wink,
"Wishing your cold correctness sparkled so!"
Thus paper second followed paper first,
Thus did the two join issue—nay, the four,
Each pleader having an adjunct. "True, he killed
"—So to speak—in a certain sort—his wife,
"But laudably, since thus it happed!" quoth one:
Whereat, more witness and the case postponed.
"Thus it happed not, since thus he did the deed,
"And proved himself thereby portentousest
"Of cutthroats and a prodigy of crime,
"As the woman that he slaughtered was a saint,
"Martyr and miracle!" quoth the other to match:
Again, more witness, and the case postponed.
"A miracle, ay—of lust and impudence;
"Hear my new reasons!" interposed the first:
"—Coupled with more of mine!" pursued his peer.
"Beside, the precedents, the authorities!"
From both at once a cry with an echo, that!
That was a firebrand at each fox's tail
Unleashed in a cornfield: soon spread flare enough,
As hurtled thither and there heaped themselves
From earth's four corners, all authority
And precedent for putting wives to death,
Or letting wives live, sinful as they seem.
How legislated, now, in this respect,
Solon and his Athenians? Quote the code
Of Romulus and Rome! Justinian speak!
Nor modern Baldo, Bartolo be dumb!
The Roman voice was potent, plentiful;
Cornelia de Sicariis hurried to help
Pompeia de Parricidiis; Julia de
Something-or-other jostled Lex this-and-that;
King Solomon confirmed Apostle Paul:
That nice decision of Dolabella, eh?
That pregnant instance of Theodoric, oh!
Down to that choice example Ælian gives
(An instance I find much insisted on)
Of the elephant who, brute-beast though he were,
Yet understood and punished on the spot
His master's naughty spouse and faithless friend;
A true tale which has edified each child,
Much more shall flourish favoured by our court!
Pages of proof this way, and that way proof,
And always—once again the case postponed.
Thus wrangled, brangled, jangled they a month,
—Only on paper, pleadings all in print,
Nor ever was, except i' the brains of men,
More noise by word of mouth than you hear now—
Till the court cut all short with "Judged, your cause.
"Receive our sentence! Praise God! We pronounce
"Count Guido devilish and damnable:
"His wife Pompilia in thought, word and deed,
"Was perfect pure, he murdered her for that:
"As for the Four who helped the One, all Five—
"Why, let employer and hirelings share alike
"In guilt and guilt's reward, the death their due!"

So was the trial at end, do you suppose?
"Guilty you find him, death you doom him to?
"Ay, were not Guido, more than needs, a priest,
"Priest and to spare!"—this was a shot reserved;
I learn this from epistles which begin
Here where the print ends,—see the pen and ink
Of the advocate, the ready at a pinch!—
"My client boasts the clerkly privilege,
"Has taken minor orders many enough,
"Shows still sufficient chrism upon his pate
"To neutralize a blood-stain: presbyter,
"Primæ tonsuræ, subdiaconus,
"Sacerdos, so he slips from underneath
"Your power, the temporal, slides inside the robe
"Of mother Church: to her we make appeal
"By the Pope, the Church's head!"

A parlous plea,
Put in with noticeable effect, it seems;
"Since straight,"—resumes the zealous orator,
Making a friend acquainted with the facts,—
"Once the word 'clericality' let fall,
"Procedure stopped and freer breath was drawn
"By all considerate and responsible Rome."
Quality took the decent part, of course;
Held by the husband, who was noble too:
Or, for the matter of that, a churl would side
With too-refined susceptibility,
And honour which, tender in the extreme,
Stung to the quick, must roughly right itself
At all risks, not sit still and whine for law
As a Jew would, if you squeezed him to the wall,
Brisk-trotting through the Ghetto. Nay, it seems,
Even the Emperor's Envoy had his say
To say on the subject; might not see, unmoved,
Civility menaced throughout Christendom
By too harsh measure dealt her champion here.
Lastly, what made all safe, the Pope was kind,
From his youth up, reluctant to take life,
If mercy might be just and yet show grace;
Much more unlikely then, in extreme age,
To take a life the general sense bade spare.
'T was plain that Guido would go scatheless yet.

But human promise, oh, how short of shine!
How topple down the piles of hope we rear!
How history proves … nay, read Herodotus!
Suddenly starting from a nap, as it were,
A dog-sleep with one shut, one open orb,
Cried the Pope's great self,—Innocent by name
And nature too, and eighty-six years old,
Antonio Pignatelli of Naples, Pope
Who had trod many lands, known many deeds,
Probed many hearts, beginning with his own,
And now was far in readiness for God,—
'T was he who first bade leave those souls in peace,
Those Jansenists, re-nicknamed Molinists,
('Gainst whom the cry went, like a frowsy tune,
Tickling men's ears—the sect for a quarter of an hour
I' the teeth of the world which, clown-like, loves to chew
Be it but a straw 'twixt work and whistling-while,
Taste some vituperation, bite away,
Whether at marjoram-sprig or garlic-clove,
Aught it may sport with, spoil, and then spit forth)
"Leave them alone," bade he, "those Molinists!
"Who may have other light than we perceive,
"Or why is it the whole world hates them thus?"
Also he peeled off that last scandal-rag
Of Nepotism; and so observed the poor
That men would merrily say, "Halt, deaf and blind,
"Who feed on fat things, leave the master's self
"To gather up the fragments of his feast,
'These be the nephews of Pope Innocent!—
"His own meal costs but five carlines a day,
"Poor-priest's allowance, for he claims no more."
He cried of a sudden, this great good old Pope,
When they appealed in last resort to him,
"I have mastered the whole matter: I nothing doubt.
"Though Guido stood forth priest from head to heel,
"Instead of, as alleged, a piece of one,—
"And further, were he, from the tonsured scalp
"To the sandaled sole of him, my son and Christ's,
"Instead of touching us by finger-tip
"As you assert, and pressing up so close
"Only to set a blood-smutch on our robe,—
"I and Christ would renounce all right in him.
"Am I not Pope, and presently to die,
"And busied how to render my account,
"And shall I wait a day ere I decide
"On doing or not doing justice here?
"Cut off his head to-morrow by this time,
"Hang up his four mates, two on either hand,
"And end one business more!"

So said, so done—
Rather so writ, for the old Pope bade this,
I find, with his particular chirograph,
His own no such infirm hand, Friday night;
And next day, February Twenty Two,
Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight,
Not at the proper head-and-hanging-place
On bridge-foot close by Castle Angelo,
Where custom somewhat staled the spectacle,
('T was not so well i' the way of Rome, beside,
The noble Rome, the Rome of Guido's rank)
But at the city's newer gayer end,—
The cavalcading promenading place
Beside the gate and opposite the church
Under the Pincian gardens green with Spring,
'Neath the obelisk 'twixt the fountains in the Square,
Did Guido and his fellows find their fate,
All Rome for witness, andmy writer adds—
Remonstrant in its universal grief,
Since Guido had the suffrage of all Rome.

This is the bookful; thus far take the truth,
The untempered gold, the fact untampered with,
The mere ring-metal ere the ring be made!
And what has hitherto come of it? Who preserves
The memory of this Guido, and his wife
Pompilia, more than Ademollo's name,
The etcher of those prints, two crazie each,
Saved by a stone from snowing broad the Square
With scenic backgrounds? Was this truth of force?
Able to take its own part as truth should,
Sufficient, self-sustaining? Why, if so—
Yonder's a fire, into it goes my book,
As who shall say me nay, and what the loss?
You know the tale already: I may ask,
Rather than think to tell you, more thereof,—
Ask you not merely who were he and she,
Husband and wife, what manner of mankind,
But how you hold concerning this and that
Other yet-unnamed actor in the piece.
The young frank handsome courtly Canon, now,
The priest, declared the lover of the wife,
He who, no question, did elope with her,
For certain bring the tragedy about,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi;—his strange course
I' the matter, was it right or wrong or both?
Then the old couple, slaughtered with the wife
By the husband as accomplices in crime,
Those Comparini, Pietro and his spouse,—
What say you to the right or wrong of that,
When, at a known name whispered through the door
Of a lone villa on a Christmas night,
It opened that the joyous hearts inside
Might welcome as it were an angel-guest
Come in Christ's name to knock and enter, sup
And satisfy the loving ones he saved;
And so did welcome devils and their death?
I have been silent on that circumstance
Although the couple passed for close of kin
To wife and husband, were by some accounts
Pompilia's very parents: you know best.
Also that infant the great joy was for,
That Gaetano, the wife's two-weeks' babe,
The husband's first-born child, his son and heir,
Whose birth and being turned his night to day—
Why must the father kill the mother thus
Because she bore his son and saved himself?


Well, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!) and will have your proper laugh
At the dark question, laugh it! I laugh first.
Truth must prevail, the proverb vows; and truth
Here is it all i' the book at last, as first
There it was all i' the heads and hearts of Rome
Gentle and simple, never to fall nor fade
Nor be forgotten. Yet, a little while,
The passage of a century or so,
Decads thrice five, and here's time paid his tax,
Oblivion gone home with her harvesting,
And all left smooth again as scythe could shave.
Far from beginning with you London folk,
I took my book to Rome first, tried truth's power
On likely people. "Have you met such names?
"Is a tradition extant of such facts?
"Your law-courts stand, your records frown a-row:
"What if I rove and rummage?" "—Why, you'll waste
"Your pains and end as wise as you began!"
Everyone snickered: "names and facts thus old
"Are newer much than Europe news we find
"Down in to-day's Diario. Records, quotha?
"Why, the French burned them, what else do the French?
"The rap-and-rending nation! And it tells
"Against the Church, no doubt,—another gird
"At the Temporality, your Trial, of course?"
"—Quite otherwise this time," submitted I;
"Clean for the Church and dead against the world,
"The flesh and the devil, does it tell for once."
"—The rarer and the happier! All the same,
"Content you with your treasure of a book,
"And waive what's wanting! Take a friend's advice!
"It's not the custom of the country. Mend
"Your ways indeed and we may stretch a point:
"Go get you manned by Manning and new-manned
"By Newman and, mayhap, wise-manned to boot
"By Wiseman, and we'll see or else we won't!
"Thanks meantime for the story, long and strong,
"A pretty piece of narrative enough,
"Which scarce ought so to drop out, one would think,
"From the more curious annals of our kind.
"Do you tell the story, now, in off-hand style,
"Straight from the book? Or simply here and there,
"(The while you vault it through the loose and large)
"Hang to a hint? Or is there book at all,
"And don't you deal in poetry, make-believe,
"And the white lies it sounds like?"


Yes and no!
From the book, yes; thence bit by bit I dug
The lingot truth, that memorable day,
Assayed and knew my piecemeal gain was gold,—
Yes; but from something else surpassing that,
Something of mine which, mixed up with the mass,
Made it bear hammer and be firm to file.
Fancy with fact is just one fact the more;
To-wit, that fancy has informed, transpierced,
Thridded and so thrown fast the facts else free,
As right through ring and ring runs the djereed
And binds the loose, one bar without a break.
I fused my live soul and that inert stuff,
Before attempting smithcraft, on the night
After the day when,—truth thus grasped and gained,—
The book was shut and done with and laid by
On the cream-coloured massive agate, broad
'Neath the twin cherubs in the tarnished frame
O' the mirror, tall thence to the ceiling-top.
And from the reading, and that slab I leant
My elbow on, the while I read and read,
I turned, to free myself and find the world,
And stepped out on the narrow terrace, built
Over the street and opposite the church,
And paced its lozenge-brickwork sprinkled cool;
Because Felice-church-side stretched, a-glow
Through each square window fringed for festival,
Whence came the clear voice of the cloistered ones
Chanting a chant made for midsummer nights—
I know not what particular praise of God,
It always came and went with June. Beneath
I' the street, quick shown by openings of the sky
When flame fell silently from cloud to cloud,
Richer than that gold snow Jove rained on Rhodes,
The townsmen walked by twos and threes, and talked,
Drinking the blackness in default of air—
A busy human sense beneath my feet:
While in and out the terrace-plants, and round
One branch of tall datura, waxed and waned
The lamp-fly lured there, wanting the white flower.
Over the roof o' the lighted church I looked
A bowshot to the street's end, north away
Out of the Roman gate to the Roman road
By the river, till I felt the Apennine.
And there would lie Arezzo, the man's town,
The woman's trap and cage and torture-place,
Also the stage where the priest played his part,
A spectacle for angels,—ay, indeed,
There lay Arezzo! Farther then I fared,
Feeling my way on through the hot and dense,
Romeward, until I found the wayside inn
By Castelnuovo's few mean hut-like homes
Huddled together on the hill-foot bleak,
Bare, broken only by that tree or two
Against the sudden bloody splendour poured
Cursewise in day's departure by the sun
O'er the low house-roof of that squalid inn
Where they three, for the first time and the last,
Husband and wife and priest, met face to face.
Whence I went on again, the end was near,
Step by step, missing none and marking all,
Till Rome itself, the ghastly goal, I reached.
Why, all the while,—how could it otherwise?—
The life in me abolished the death of things,
Deep calling unto deep: as then and there
Acted itself over again once more
The tragic piece. I saw with my own eyes
In Florence as I trod the terrace, breathed
The beauty and the fearfulness of night,
How it had run, this round from Rome to Rome—
Because, you are to know, they lived at Rome,
Pompilia's parents, as they thought themselves,
Two poor ignoble hearts who did their best
Part God's way, part the other way than God's,
To somehow make a shift and scramble through
The world's mud, careless if it splashed and spoiled,
Provided they might so hold high, keep clean
Their child's soul, one soul white enough for three,
And lift it to whatever star should stoop,
What possible sphere of purer life than theirs
Should come in aid of whiteness hard to save.
I saw the star stoop, that they strained to touch,
And did touch and depose their treasure on,
As Guido Franceschini took away
Pompilia to be his for evermore,
While they sang "Now let us depart in peace,
"Having beheld thy glory, Guido's wife!"
I saw the star supposed, but fog o' the fen,
Gilded star-fashion by a glint from hell;
Having been heaved up, haled on its gross way,
By hands unguessed before, invisible help
From a dark brotherhood, and specially
Two obscure goblin creatures, fox-faced this,
Cat-clawed the other, called his next of kin
By Guido the main monster,—cloaked and caped,
Making as they were priests, to mock God more,—
Abate Paul, Canon Girolamo.
These who had rolled the starlike pest to Rome
And stationed it to suck up and absorb
The sweetness of Pompilia, rolled again
That bloated bubble, with her soul inside,
Back to Arezzo and a palace there
Or say, a fissure in the honest earth
Whence long ago had curled the vapour first,
Blown big by nether firs to appal day:
It touched home, broke, and blasted far and wide.
I saw the cheated couple find the cheat
And guess what foul rite they were captured for,—
Too fain to follow over hill and dale
That child of theirs caught up thus in the cloud
And carried by the Prince o' the Power of the Air
Whither he would, to wilderness or sea.
I saw them, in the potency of fear,
Break somehow through the satyr-family
(For a grey mother with a monkey-mien,
Mopping and mowing, was apparent too,
As, confident of capture, all took hands
And danced about the captives in a ring)
—Saw them break through, breathe safe, at Rome again,
Saved by the selfish instinct, losing so
Their loved one left with haters. These I saw,
In recrudescency of baffled hate,
Prepare to wring the uttermost revenge
From body and soul thus left them: all was sure,
Fire laid and cauldron set, the obscene ring traced,
The victim stripped and prostrate: what of God?
The cleaving of a cloud, a cry, a crash,
Quenched lay their cauldron, cowered i' the dust the crew,
As, in a glory of armour like Saint George,
Out again sprang the young good beauteous priest
Bearing away the lady in his arms,
Saved for a splendid minute and no more.
For, whom i' the path did that priest come upon,
He and the poor lost lady borne so brave,
—Checking the song of praise in me, had else
Swelled to the full for God's will done on earth—
Whom but a dusk misfeatured messenger,
No other than the angel of this life,
Whose care is lest men see too much at once.
He made the sign, such God-glimpse must suffice,
Nor prejudice the Prince o' the Power of the Air,
Whose ministration piles us overhead
What we call, first, earth's roof and, last, heaven's floor,
Now grate o' the trap, then outlet of the cage:
So took the lady, left the priest alone,
And once more canopied the world with black.
But through the blackness I saw Rome again,
And where a solitary villa stood
In a lone garden-quarter: it was eve,
The second of the year, and oh so cold!
Ever and anon there flittered through the air
A snow-flake, and a scanty couch of snow
Crusted the grass-walk and the garden-mould.
All was grave, silent, sinister,—when, ha?
Glimmeringly did a pack of were-wolves pad
The snow, those flames were Guido's eyes in front,
And all five found and footed it, the track,
To where a threshold-streak of warmth and light
Betrayed the villa-door with life inside,
While an inch outside were those blood-bright eyes,
And black lips wrinkling o'er the flash of teeth,
And tongues that lolled—Oh God that madest man!
They parleyed in their language. Then one whined—
That was the policy and master-stroke—
Deep in his throat whispered what seemed a name—
"Open to Caponsacchi!" Guido cried:
"Gabriel!" cried Lucifer at Eden-gate.
Wide as a heart, opened the door at once,
Showing the joyous couple, and their child
The two-weeks' mother, to the wolves, the wolves
To them. Close eyes! And when the corpses lay
Stark-stretched, and those the wolves, their wolf-work done,
Were safe-embosomed by the night again,
I knew a necessary change in things;
As when the worst watch of the night gives way,
And there comes duly, to take cognizance,
The scrutinizing eye-point of some star—
And who despairs of a new daybreak now?
Lo, the first ray protruded on those five!
It reached them, and each felon writhed transfixed.
Awhile they palpitated on the spear
Motionless over Tophet: stand or fall?
"I say, the spear should fall—should stand, I say!"
Cried the world come to judgment, granting grace
Or dealing doom according to world's wont,
Those world's-bystanders grouped on Rome's crossroad
At prick and summons of the primal curse
Which bids man love as well as make a lie.
There prattled they, discoursed the right and wrong,
Turned wrong to right, proved wolves sheep and sheep wolves,
So that you scarce distinguished fell from fleece;
Till out spoke a great guardian of the fold,
Stood up, put forth his hand that held the crook,
And motioned that the arrested point decline:
Horribly off, the wriggling dead-weight reeled,
Rushed to the bottom and lay ruined there.
Though still at the pit's mouth, despite the smoke
O' the burning, tarriers turned again to talk
And trim the balance, and detect at least
A touch of wolf in what showed whitest sheep,
A cross of sheep redeeming the whole wolf,—
Vex truth a little longer:—less and less,
Because years came and went, and more and more
Brought new lies with them to be loved in turn.
Till all at once the memory of the thing,—
The fact that, wolves or sheep, such creatures were,—
Which hitherto, however men supposed,
Had somehow plain and pillar-like prevailed
I' the midst of them, indisputably fact,
Granite, time's tooth should grate against, not graze,—
Why, this proved sandstone, friable, fast to fly
And give its grain away at wish o' the wind.
Ever and ever more diminutive,
Base gone, shaft lost, only entablature,
Dwindled into no bigger than a book,
Lay of the column; and that little, left
By the roadside 'mid the ordure, shards and weeds.
Until I haply, wandering that lone way,
Kicked it up, turned it over, and recognized,
For all the crumblement, this abacus,
This square old yellow book,—could calculate
By this the lost proportions of the style.

This was it from, my fancy with those facts,
I used to tell the tale, turned gay to grave,
But lacked a listener seldom; such alloy,
Such substance of me interfused the gold
Which, wrought into a shapely ring therewith,
Hammered and filed, fingered and favoured, last
Lay ready for the renovating wash
O' the water. "How much of the tale was true?"
I disappeared; the book grew all in all;
The lawyers' pleadings swelled back to their size,—
Doubled in two, the crease upon them yet,
For more commodity of carriage, see!—
And these are letters, veritable sheets
That brought posthaste the news to Florence, writ
At Rome the day Count Guido died, we find,
To stay the craving of a client there,
Who bound the same and so produced my book.
Lovers of dead truth, did ye fare the worse?
Lovers of live truth, found ye false my tale?

Well, now; there's nothing in nor out o' the world
Good except truth: yet this, the something else,
What's this then, which proves good yet seems untrue?
This that I mixed with truth, motions of mine
That quickened, made the inertness malleolable
O'the gold was not mine,—what's your name for this?
Are means to the end, themselves in part the end?
Is fiction which makes fact alive, fact too?
The somehow may be thishow.

I find first
Writ down for very A B C of fact,
"In the beginning God made heaven and earth;"
From which, no matter with what lisp, I spell
And speak you out a consequence—that man,
Man,—as befits the made, the inferior thing,—
Purposed, since made, to grow, not make in turn,
Yet forced to try and make, else fail to grow,—
Formed to rise, reach at, if not grasp and gain
The good beyond him,—which attempt is growth,—
Repeats God's process in man's due degree,
Attaining man's proportionate result,—
Creates, no, but resuscitates, perhaps.
Inalienable, the arch-prerogative
Which turns thought, act—conceives, expresses too!
No less, man, bounded, yearning to be free,
May so proiect his surplusage of soul
In search of body, so add self to self
By owning what lay ownerless before,—
So find, so fill full, so appropriate forms—
That, although nothing which had never life
Shall get life from him, be, not having been,
Yet, something dead may get to live again,
Something with too much life or not enough,
Which, either way imperfect, ended once:
An end whereat man's impulse intervenes,
Makes new beginning, starts the dead alive,
Completes the incomplete and saves the thing.
Man's breath were vain to light a virgin wick,—
Half-burned-out, all but quite-quenched wicks o' the lamp
Stationed for temple-service on this earth,
These indeed let him breathe on and relume!
For such man's feat is, in the due degree,
—Mimic creation, galvanism for life,
But still a glory portioned in the scale.
Why did the mage say,—feeling as we are wont
For truth, and stopping midway short of truth,
And resting on a lie,—"I raise a ghost"?
"Because," he taught adepts, "man makes not man.
"Yet by a special gift, an art of arts,
"More insight and more outsight and much more
"Will to use both of these than boast my mates,
"I can detach from me, commission forth
"Half of my soul; which in its pilgrimage
"O'er old unwandered waste ways of the world,
"May chance upon some fragment of a whole,
"Rag of flesh, scrap of bone in dim disuse,
"Smoking flax that fed fire once: prompt therein
"I enter, spark-like, put old powers to play,
"Push lines out to the limit, lead forth last
"(By a moonrise through a ruin of a crypt)
"What shall be mistily seen, murmuringly heard,
"Mistakenly felt: then write my name with Faust's!"
Oh, Faust, why Faust? Was not Elisha once?—
Who bade them lay his staff on a corpse-face.
There was no voice, no hearing: he went in
Therefore, and shut the door upon them twain,
And prayed unto the Lord: and he went up
And lay upon the corpse, dead on the couch,
And put his mouth upon its mouth, his eyes
Upon its eyes, his hands upon its hands,
And stretched him on the flesh; the flesh waxed warm:
And he returned, walked to and fro the house,
And went up, stretched him on the flesh again,
And the eyes opened. 'T is a credible feat
With the right man and way.

Enough of me!
The Book! I turn its medicinable leaves
In London now till, as in Florence erst,
A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb,
And lights my eye, and lifts me by the hair,
Letting me have my will again with these
—How title I the dead alive once more?

Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine,
Descended of an ancient house, though poor,
A beak-nosed bushy-bearded black-haired lord,
Lean, pallid, low of stature yet robust,
Fifty years old,—having four years ago
Married Pompilia Comparini, young,
Good, beautiful, at Rome, where she was born,
And brought her to Arezzo, where they lived
Unhappy lives, whatever curse the cause,—
This husband, taking four accomplices,
Followed this wife to Rome, where she was fled
From their Arezzo to find peace again,
In convoy, eight months earlier, of a priest,
Aretine also, of still nobler birth,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi,—caught her there
Quiet in a villa on a Christmas night,
With only Pietro and Violante by,
Both her putative parents; killed the three,
Aged, they, seventy each, and she, seventeen,
And, two weeks since, the mother of his babe
First-born and heir to what the style was worth
O' the Guido who determined, dared and did
This deed just as he purposed point by point.
Then, bent upon escape, but hotly pressed,
And captured with his co-mates that same night,
He, brought to trial, stood on this defence—
Injury to his honour caused the act;
And since his wife was false, (as manifest
By flight from home in such companionship,)
Death, punishment deserved of the false wife
And faithless parents who abetted her
I' the flight aforesaid, wronged nor God nor man.
"Nor false she, nor yet faithless they," replied
The accuser; "cloaked and masked this murder glooms;
"True was Pompilia, loyal too the pair;
"Out of the man's own heart a monster curled
"Which crime coiled with connivancy at crime—
"His victim's breast, he tells you, hatched and reared;
"Uncoil we and stretch stark the worm of hell!"
A month the trial swayed this way and that
Ere judgment settled down on Guido's guilt;
Then was the Pope, that good Twelfth Innocent,
Appealed to: who well weighed what went before,
Affirmed the guilt and gave the guilty doom.

Let this old woe step on the stage again!
Act itself o'er anew for men to judge,
Not by the very sense and sight indeed—
(Which take at best imperfect cognizance,
Since, how heart moves brain, and how both move hand,
What mortal ever in entirety saw?)
No dose of purer truth than man digests,
But truth with falsehood, milk that feeds him now,
Not strong meat he may get to bear some day—
To-wit, by voices we call evidence,
Uproar in the echo, live fact deadened down,
Talked over, bruited abroad, whispered away,
Yet helping us to all we seem to hear:
For how else know we save by worth of word?

Here are the voices presently shall sound
In due succession. First, the world's outcry
Around the rush and ripple of any fact
Fallen stonewise, plumb on the smooth face of things;
The world's guess, as it crowds the bank o' the pool,
At what were figure and substance, by their splash:
Then, by vibrations in the general mind,
At depth of deed already out of reach.
This threefold murder of the day before,—
Say, Half-Rome's feel after the vanished truth;
Honest enough, as the way is: all the same,
Harbouring in the centre of its sense
A hidden germ of failure, shy but sure,
To neutralize that honesty and leave
That feel for truth at fault, as the way is too.
Some prepossession such as starts amiss,
By but a hair's breadth at the shoulder-blade,
The arm o' the feeler, dip he ne'er so bold;
So leads arm waveringly, lets fall wide
O' the mark its finger, sent to find and fix
Truth at the bottom, that deceptive speck.
With this Half-Rome,—the source of swerving, call
Over-belief in Guido's right and wrong
Rather than in Pompilia's wrong and right:
Who shall say how, who shall say why? 'T is there
The instinctive theorizing whence a fact
Looks to the eye as the eye likes the look.
Gossip in a public place, a sample-speech.
Some worthy, with his previous hint to find
A husband's side the safer, and no whit
Aware he is not Æacus the while,—
How such an one supposes and states fact
To whosoever of a multitude
Will listen, and perhaps prolong thereby
The not-unpleasant flutter at the breast,
Born of a certain spectacle shut in
By the church Lorenzo opposite. So, they lounge
Midway the mouth o'the street, on Corso side,
'Twixt palace Fiano and palace Ruspoli,
Linger and listen; keeping clear o' the crowd,
Yet wishful one could lend that crowd one's eyes,
(So universal is its plague of squint)
And make hearts beat our time that flutter false:
All for the truth's sake, mere truth, nothing else!
How Half-Rome found for Guido much excuse.

Next, from Rome's other half, the opposite feel
For truth with a like swerve, like unsuccess,—
Or if success, by no skill but more luck
This time, through siding rather with the wife,
Because a fancy-fit inclined that way,
Than with the husband. One wears drab, one pink;
Who wears pink, ask him "Which shall win the race,
"Of coupled runners like as egg and egg?"
"—Why, if I must choose, he with the pink scarf."
Doubtless for some such reason choice fell here.
A piece of public talk to correspond
At the next stage of the story; just a day
Let pass and new day brings the proper change.
Another sample-speech i' the market-place
O' the Barberini by the Capucins;
Where the old Triton, at his fountain-sport,
Bernini's creature plated to the paps,
Puffs up steel sleet which breaks to diamond dust,
A spray of sparkles snorted from his conch,
High over the caritellas, out o' the way
O' the motley merchandizing multitude.
Our murder has been done three days ago,
The frost is over and gone, the south wind laughs,
And, to the very tiles of each red roof
A-smoke i' the sunshine, Rome lies gold and glad:
So, listen how, to the other half of Rome,
Pompilia seemed a saint and martyr both!

Then, yet another day let come and go,
With pause prelusive still of novelty,
Hear a fresh speaker!—neither this nor that
Half-Rome aforesaid; something bred of both:
One and one breed the inevitable three.
Such is the personage harangues you next;
The elaborated product, tertium quid:
Rome's first commotion in subsidence gives
The curd o'the cream, flower o' the wheat, as it were,
And finer sense o' the city. Is this plain?
You get a reasoned statement of the case,
Eventual verdict of the curious few
Who care to sift a business to the bran
Nor coarsely bolt it like the simpler sort.
Here, after ignorance, instruction speaks;
Here, clarity of candour, history's soul,
The critical mind, in short: no gossip-guess.
What the superior social section thinks,
In person of some man of quality
Who,—breathing musk from lace-work and brocade,
His solitaire amid the flow of frill,
Powdered peruke on nose, and bag at back,
And cane dependent from the ruffled wrist,—
Harangues in silvery and selectest phrase
'Neath waxlight in a glorified saloon
Where mirrors multiply the girandole:
Courting the approbation of no mob,
But Eminence This and All-Illustrious That
Who take snuff softly, range in well-bred ring,
Card-table-quitters for observance' sake,
Around the argument, the rational word—
Still, spite its weight and worth, a sample-speech.
How Quality dissertated on the case.

So much for Rome and rumour; smoke comes first:
Once let smoke rise untroubled, we descry
Clearlier what tongues of flame may spire and spit
To eye and ear, each with appropriate tinge
According to its food, or pure or foul.
The actors, no mere rumours of the act,
Intervene. First you hear Count Guido's voice,
In a small chamber that adjoins the court,
Where Governor and Judges, summoned thence,
Tommati, Venturini and the rest,
Find the accused ripe for declaring truth.
Soft-cushioned sits he; yet shifts seat, shirks touch,
As, with a twitchy brow and wincing lip
And cheek that changes to all kinds of white,
He proffers his defence, in tones subdued
Near to mock-mildness now, so mournful seems
The obtuser sense truth fails to satisfy;
Now, moved, from pathos at the wrong endured,
To passion; for the natural man is roused
At fools who first do wrong then pour the blame
Of their wrong-doing, Satan-like, on Job.
Also his tongue at times is hard to curb;
Incisive, nigh satiric bites the phrase,
Rough-raw, yet somehow claiming privilege
It is so hard for shrewdness to admit
Folly means no harm when she calls black white!
—Eruption momentary at the most,
Modified forthwith by a fall o' the fire,
Sage acquiescence; for the world's the world,
And, what it errs in, Judges rectify:
He feels he has a fist, then folds his arms
Crosswise and makes his mind up to be meek.
And never once does he detach his eye
From those ranged there to slay him or to save,
But does his best man's-service for himself,
Despite,—what twitches brow and makes lip wince,—
His limbs' late taste of what was called the Cord,
Or Vigil-torture more facetiously.
Even so; they were wont to tease the truth
Out of loth witness (toying, trifling time)
By torture: 't was a trick, a vice of the age,
Here, there and everywhere, what would you have?
Religion used to tell Humanity
She gave him warrant or denied him course.
And since the course was much to his own mind,
Of pinching flesh and pulling bone from bone
To unhusk truth a-hiding in its hulls,
Nor whisper of a warning stopped the way,
He, in their joint behalf, the burly slave,
Bestirred him, mauled and maimed all recusants,
While, prim in place, Religion overlooked;
And so had done till doomsday, never a sign
Nor sound of interference from her mouth,
But that at last the burly slave wiped brow,
Let eye give notice as if soul were there,
Muttered "'T is a vile trick, foolish more than vile,
"Should have been counted sin; I make it so:
"At any rate no more of it for me—
"Nay, for I break the torture-engine thus!"
Then did Religion start up, stare amain,
Look round for help and see none, smile and say
"What, broken is the rack? Well done of thee!
"Did I forget to abrogate its use?
"Be the mistake in common with us both!
"—One more fault our blind age shall answer for,
"Down in my book denounced though it must be
"Somewhere. Henceforth find truth by milder means!"
Ah but, Religion, did we wait for thee
To ope the book, that serves to sit upon,
And pick such place out, we should wait indeed!
That is all history: and what is not now,
Was then, defendants found it to their cost.
How Guido, after being tortured, spoke.

Also hear Caponsacchi who comes next,
Man and priestcould you comprehend the coil!—
In days when that was rife which now is rare.
How, mingling each its multifarious wires,
Now heaven, now earth, now heaven and earth at once,
Had plucked at and perplexed their puppet here,
Played off the young frank personable priest;
Sworn fast and tonsured plain heaven's celibate,
And yet earth's clear-accepted servitor,
A courtly spiritual Cupid, squire of dames
By law of love and mandate of the mode.
The Church's own, or why parade her seal,
Wherefore that chrism and consecrative work?
Yet verily the world's, or why go badged
A prince of sonneteers and lutanists,
Show colour of each vanity in vogue
Borne with decorum due on blameless breast?
All that is changed now, as he tells the court
How he had played the part excepted at;
Tells it, moreover, now the second time:
Since, for his cause of scandal, his own share
I' the flight from home and husband of the wife,
He has been censured, punished in a sort
By relegation,—exile, we should say,
To a short distance for a little time,—
Whence he is summoned on a sudden now,
Informed that she, he thought to save, is lost,
And, in a breath, bidden re-tell his tale,
Since the first telling somehow missed effect,
And then advise in the matter. There stands he,
While the same grim black-panelled chamber blinks
As though rubbed shiny with the sins of Rome
Told the same oak for ages—wave-washed wall
Against which sets a sea of wickedness.
There, where you yesterday heard Guido speak,
Speaks Caponsacchi; and there face him too
Tommati, Venturini and the rest
Who, eight months earlier, scarce repressed the smile,
Forewent the wink; waived recognition so
Of peccadillos incident to youth,
Especially youth high-born; for youth means love,
Vows can't change nature, priests are only men,
And love likes stratagem and subterfuge
Which age, that once was youth, should recognize,
May blame, but needs not press too hard upon.
Here sit the old Judges then, but with no grace
Of reverend carriage, magisterial port:
For why? The accused of eight months since,—the same
Who cut the conscious figure of a fool,
Changed countenance, dropped bashful gaze to ground,
While hesitating for an answer then,—
Now is grown judge himself, terrifies now
This, now the other culprit called a judge,
Whose turn it is to stammer and look strange,
As he speaks rapidly, angrily, speech that smites:
And they keep silence, bear blow after blow,
Because the seeming-solitary man,
Speaking for God, may have an audience too,
Invisible, no discreet judge provokes.
How the priest Caponsacchi said his say.

Then a soul sighs its lowest and its last
After the loud ones,—so much breath remains
Unused by the four-days'-dying; for she lived
Thus long, miraculously long, 't was thought,
Just that Pompilia might defend herself.
How, while the hireling and the alien stoop,
Comfort, yet question,—since the time is brief,
And folk, allowably inquisitive,
Encircle the low pallet where she lies
In the good house that helps the poor to die,—
Pompilia tells the story of her life.
For friend and lover,—leech and man of law
Do service; busy helpful ministrants
As varied in their calling as their mind,
Temper and age: and yet from all of these,
About the white bed under the arched roof,
Is somehow, as it were, evolved a one,—
Small separate sympathies combined and large,
Nothings that were, grown something very much:
As if the bystanders gave each his straw,
All he had, though a trifle in itself,
Which, plaited all together, made a Cross
Fit to die looking on and praying with,
Just as well as if ivory or gold.
So, to the common kindliness she speaks,
There being scarce more privacy at the last
For mind than body: but she is used to bear,
And only unused to the brotherly look.
How she endeavoured to explain her life.

Then, since a Trial ensued, a touch o' the same
To sober us, flustered with frothy talk,
And teach our common sense its helplessness.
For why deal simply with divining-rod,
Scrape where we fancy secret sources flow,
And ignore law, the recognized machine,
Elaborate display of pipe and wheel
Framed to unchoke, pump up and pour apace
Truth till a flowery foam shall wash the world?
The patent truth-extracting process,—ha?
Let us make that grave mystery turn one wheel,
Give you a single grind of law at least!
One orator, of two on either side,
Shall teach us the puissance of the tongue
That is, o' the pen which simulated tongue
On paper and saved all except the sound
Which never was. Law's speech beside law's thought?
That were too stunning, too immense an odds:
That point of vantage law lets nobly pass.
One lawyer shall admit us to behold
The manner of the making out a case,
First fashion of a speech; the chick in egg,
The masterpiece law's bosom incubates.
How Don Giacinto of the Arcangeli,
Called Procurator of the Poor at Rome,
Now advocate for Guido and his mates,—
The jolly learned man of middle age,
Cheek and jowl all in laps with fat and law,
Mirthful as mighty, yet, as great hearts use,
Despite the name and fame that tempt our flesh,
Constant to that devotion of the hearth,
Still captive in those dear domestic ties!—
How he,—having a cause to triumph with,
All kind of interests to keep intact,
More than one efficacious personage
To tranquillize, conciliate and secure,
And above all, public anxiety
To quiet, show its Guido in good hands,—
Also, as if such burdens were too light,
A certain family-feast to claim his care,
The birthday-banquet for the only son—
Paternity at smiling strife with law—
How he brings both to buckle in one bond;
And, thick at throat, with waterish under-eye,
Turns to his task and settles in his seat
And puts his utmost means in practice now:
Wheezes out law-phrase, whiffles Latin forth,
And, just as though roast lamb would never be,
Makes logic levigate the big crime small:
Rubs palm on palm, rakes foot with itchy foot,
Conceives and inchoates the argument,
Sprinkling each flower appropriate to the time,
—Ovidian quip or Ciceronian crank,
A-bubble in the larynx while he laughs,
As he had fritters deep down frying there.
How he turns, twists, and tries the oily thing
Shall befirst speech for Guido 'gainst the Fisc.
Then with a skip as it were from heel to head,
Leaving yourselves fill up the middle bulk
O' the Trial, reconstruct its shape august,
From such exordium clap we to the close;
Give you, if we dare wing to such a height,
The absolute glory in some full-grown speech
On the other side, some finished butterfly,
Some breathing diamond-flake with leaf-gold fans,
That takes the air, no trace of worm it was,
Or cabbage-bed it had production from.
Giovambattista o' the Bottini, Fisc,
Pompilia's patron by the chance of the hour,
To-morrow her persecutor,—composite, he,
As becomes who must meet such various calls—
Odds of age joined in him with ends of youth.
A man of ready smile and facile tear,
Improvised hopes, despairs at nod and beck,
And language—ah, the gift of eloquence!
Language that goes, goes, easy as a glove,
O'er good and evil, smoothens both to one.
Rashness helps caution with him, fires the straw,
In free enthusiastic careless fit,
On the first proper pinnacle of rock
Which offers, as reward for all that zeal,
To lure some bark to founder and bring gain:
While calm sits Caution, rapt with heavenward eye,
A true confessor's gaze, amid the glare
Beaconing to the breaker, death and hell.
"Well done, thou good and faithful" she approves:
"Hadst thou let slip a faggot to the beach,
"The crew might surely spy thy precipice
"And save their boat; the simple and the slow
"Might so, forsooth, forestall the wrecker's fee!
"Let the next crew be wise and hail in time!"
Just so compounded is the outside man,
Blue juvenile pure eye and pippin cheek,
And brow all prematurely soiled and seamed
With sudden age, bright devastated hair.
Ah, but you miss the very tones o' the voice,
The scrannel pipe that screams in heights of head,
As, in his modest studio, all alone,
The tall wight stands a-tiptoe, strives and strains,
Both eyes shut, like the cockerel that would crow,
Tries to his own self amorously o'er
What never will be uttered else than so—
Since to the four walls, Forum and Mars' Hill,
Speaks out the poesy which, penned, turns prose.
Clavecinist debarred his instrument,
He yet thrums—shirking neither turn nor trill,
With desperate finger on dumb table-edge—
The sovereign rondo, shall conclude his Suite,
Charm an imaginary audience there,
From old Corelli to young Haendel, both
I' the flesh at Rome, ere he perforce go print
The cold black score, mere music for the mind—
The last speech against Guido and his gang,
With special end to prove Pompilia pure.
How the Fisc vindicates Pompilia's fame.

Then comes the all but end, the ultimate
Judgment save yours. Pope Innocent the Twelfth,
Simple, sagacious, mild yet resolute,
With prudence, probity and—what beside
From the other world he feels impress at times,
Having attained to fourscore years and six,—
How, when the court found Guido and the rest
Guilty, but law supplied a subterfuge
And passed the final sentence to the Pope,
He, bringing his intelligence to bear
This last time on what ball behoves him drop
In the urn, or white or black, does drop a black,
Send five souls more to just precede his own,
Stand him in stead and witness, if need were,
How he is wont to do God's work on earth.
The manner of his sitting out the dim
Droop of a sombre February day
In the plain closet where he does such work,
With, from all Peter's treasury, one stool,
One table and one lathen crucifix.
There sits the Pope, his thoughts for company;
Grave but not sad,—nay, something like a cheer
Leaves the lips free to be benevolent,
Which, all day long, did duty firm and fast.
A cherishing there is of foot and knee,
A chafing loose-skinned large-veined hand with hand,—
What steward but knows when stewardship earns its wage,
May levy praise, anticipate the lord?
He reads, notes, lays the papers down at last,
Muses, then takes a turn about the room;
Unclasps a huge tome in an antique guise,
Primitive print and tongue half obsolete,
That stands him in diurnal stead; opes page,
Finds place where falls the passage to be conned
According to an order long in use:
And, as he comes upon the evening's chance,
Starts somewhat, solemnizes straight his smile,
Then reads aloud that portion first to last,
And at the end lets flow his own thoughts forth
Likewise aloud, for respite and relief,
Till by the dreary relics of the west
Wan through the half-moon window, all his light,
He bows the head while the lips move in prayer,
Writes some three brief lines, signs and seals the same,
Tinkles a hand-bell, bids the obsequious Sir
Who puts foot presently o' the closet-sill
He watched outside of, bear as superscribed
That mandate to the Governor forthwith:
Then heaves abroad his cares in one good sigh,
Traverses corridor with no arm's help,
And so to sup as a clear conscience should.
The manner of the judgment of the Pope.

Then must speak Guido yet a second time,
Satan's old saw being apt hereskin for skin,
All a man hath that will he give for life.
While life was graspable and gainable,
And bird-like buzzed her wings round Guido's brow,
Not much truth stiffened out the web of words
He wove to catch her: when away she flew
And death came, death's breath rivelled up the lies,
Left bare the metal thread, the fibre fine
Of truth, i' the spinning: the true words shone last.
How Guido, to another purpose quite,
Speaks and despairs, the last night of his life,
In that New Prison by Castle Angelo
At the bridge foot: the same man, another voice.
On a stone bench in a close fetid cell,
Where the hot vapour of an agony,
Struck into drops on the cold wall, runs down
Horrible worms made out of sweat and tears—
There crouch, well nigh to the knees in dungeon-straw,
Lit by the sole lamp suffered for their sake,
Two awe-struck figures, this a Cardinal,
That an Abate, both of old styled friends
O' the thing part man part monster in the midst,
So changed is Franceschini's gentle blood.
The tiger-cat screams now, that whined before,
That pried and tried and trod so gingerly,
Till in its silkiness the trap-teeth joined;
Then you know how the bristling fury foams.
They listen, this wrapped in his folds of red,
While his feet fumble for the filth below;
The other, as beseems a stouter heart,
Working his best with beads and cross to ban
The enemy that comes in like a flood
Spite of the standard set up, verily
And in no trope at all, against him there
For at the prison-gate, just a few steps
Outside, already, in the doubtful dawn,
Thither, from this side and from that, slow sweep
And settle down in silence solidly,
Crow-wise, the frightful Brotherhood of Death.
Black-hatted and black-hooded huddle they,
Black rosaries a-dangling from each waist;
So take they their grim station at the door,
Torches lit, skull-and-cross-bones-banner spread,
And that gigantic Christ with open arms,
Grounded. Nor lacks there aught but that the group
Break forth, intone the lamentable psalm,
"Out of the deeps, Lord, have I cried to thee!"—
When inside, from the true profound, a sign
Shall bear intelligence that the foe is foiled,
Count Guido Franceschini has confessed,
And is absolved and reconciled with God.
Then they, intoning, may begin their march,
Make by the longest way for the People's Square,
Carry the criminal to his crime's award:
A mob to cleave, a scaffolding to reach,
Two gallows and Mannaia crowning all.
How Guido made defence a second time.

Finally, even as thus by step and step
I led you from the level of to-day
Up to the summit of so long ago,
Here, whence I point you the wide prospect round—
Let me, by like steps, slope you back to smooth,
Land you on mother-earth, no whit the worse,
To feed o' the fat o' the furrow: free to dwell,
Taste our time's better things profusely spread
For all who love the level, corn and wine,
Much cattle and the many-folded fleece.
Shall not my friends go feast again on sward,
Though cognizant of country in the clouds
Higher than wistful eagle's horny eye
Ever unclosed for, 'mid ancestral crags,
When morning broke and Spring was back once more,
And he died, heaven, save by his heart, unreached?
Yet heaven my fancy lifts to, ladder-like,—
As Jack reached, holpen of his beanstalk-rungs!

A novel country: I might make it mine
By choosing which one aspect of the year
Suited mood best, and putting solely that
On panel somewhere in the House of Fame,
Landscaping what I saved, not what I saw:
—Might fix you, whether frost in goblin-time
Startled the moon with his abrupt bright laugh,
Or, August's hair afloat in filmy fire,
She fell, arms wide, face foremost on the world,
Swooned there and so singed out the strength of things.
Thus were abolished Spring and Autumn both,
The land dwarfed to one likeness of the land,
Life cramped corpse-fashion. Rather learn and love
Each facet-flash of the revolving year!—
Red, green and blue that whirl into a white,
The variance now, the eventual unity,
Which make the miracle. See it for yourselves,
This man's act, changeable because alive!
Action now shrouds, nor shows the informing thought;
Man, like a glass ball with a spark a-top,
Out of the magic fire that lurks inside,
Shows one tint at a time to take the eye:
Which, let a finger touch the silent sleep,
Shifted a hair's-breadth shoots you dark for bright,
Suffuses bright with dark, and baffles so
Your sentence absolute for shine or shade.
Once set such orbs,—white styled, black stigmatized,—
A-rolling, see them once on the other side
Your good men and your bad men every one
From Guido Franceschini to Guy Faux,
Oft would you rub your eyes and change your names

Such, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!)—whom I yet have laboured for,
Perchance more careful whoso runs may read
Than erst when all, it seemed, could read who ran,—
Perchance more careless whoso reads may praise
Than late when he who praised and read and wrote
Was apt to find himself the self-same me,—
Such labour had such issue, so I wrought
This arc, by furtherance of such alloy,
And so, by one spirt, take away its trace
Till, justifiably golden, rounds my ring.

A ring without a posy, and that ring mine?

O lyric Love, half angel and half bird
And all a wonder and a wild desire,—
Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun,
Took sanctuary within the holier blue,
And sang a kindred soul out to his face,—
Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart
When the first summons from the darkling earth
Reached thee amid thy chambers, blanched their blue,
And bared them of the glory—to drop down,
To toil for man, to suffer or to die,—
This is the same voice: can thy soul know change?
Hail then, and hearken from the realms of help!
Never may I commence my song, my due
To God who best taught song by gift of thee,
Except with bent head and beseeching hand—
That still, despite the distance and the dark,
What was, again may be; some interchange
Of grace, some splendour once thy very thought,
Some benediction anciently thy smile:
Never conclude, but raising hand and head
Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn
For all hope, all sustainment, all reward,
Their utmost up and on,—so blessing back
In those thy realms of help, that heaven thy home,
Some whiteness which, I judge, thy face makes proud,
Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall!

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Patrick White

I Took My Death Mask Off For You

I took my deathmask off for you
to show you the naked absence
behind the past of everything I've ever been.
Real, you said, and meant something squalid.
And I autographed your holy book
with green ink the same colour as your eyes
with a fountain pen that didn't
step into the same poem twice.
Let's be real, you said, but you meant solid,
so we pushed your single bed
over by a window full of stars
and pulled the blind down on enlightenment,
cataracts in the eye, flowers in the sky,
and made love to the picture-music of a candle,
jealous of my gold-nibbed fountain pen
trying to prove it had a voice of its own
and could bleed as easily I could over nothing.
And I remember how you liked to sing to me
with that old cat-scratched guitar
you kept in the corner like an emergency lifeboat.
And I'd listen like a lighthouse
just to bug the candle
for being so competitive
any gust of stars could blow it away in jest.
And I heard the music of shy spiders
spinning the lyrics of their silken sorrows
on the looms of their guitars like webs.
And you could tell by the way I looked at you,
I wanted you to take off your veils and dreamcatchers,
that serpentine boa of apricot orchards
feathered between your breasts, get naked again
and go swimming with me
like two dolphins on the moon
in your deepest, darkest watersheds
where you weep black pearls
like the broken rosaries of past eclipses
that portended the end of the world
for all those one-eyed lovers as they knew it
who tried to patch the wounded rose
with one of her own petals like a bicycle tire
and blew it big time on the downslope to nowhere.
And if I was autumn
with my whole future behind me
then you were spring
with your past up ahead.
Though we both knew
time was just a rumour
some snakeoil salesman
was trying to spread
like a cure-all for everything.
And there were times when we bumped hearts
like two soft rocks of coal playing with fire
I swear I saw meteroritic nano-diamonds in the sparks
anyone of which could have been the beginning
of a new religion I could have given my soul to
if I wasn't already the prophetic heretic of one of my own.
And you'd end up burning me at the stake of your guitar
for breathing life back into the dead words
that expire like caged birds
in the chimneys and lockets,
of your spiritual metaphors,
new lamps for old, new wine
for the old wine-skins of the new moon.
I never wanted to see Mary Magdalene
stoned among the asteroids
like a sacred whore defamed
by everyone else's vices
because she dances unashamedly
naked as a snake in the temple of Isis.
Besides, why make confession like graffiti
written on the concrete underside
of realistic overpasses and burning bridges
as an urgent sign of the times
even in these urban shrines of futility
where we speak in forked tongues when we pray
for things we don't even know if we want,
in pictographic hieroglyphics
for illiterates with dangerous spraybombs
that shake their tails like rattlesnakes
that don't want to be tread on when they're empty.
And for those who've mastered
the writing on the wall
as if it were their mother tongue,
the ambiguous eloquence
of these blessings and curses,
this Delphic ambivalence of Pythian oracles
split down the middle of what they meant
like the witching wand of a fire serpent
or a tuning fork looking for the G-spot
on the lunar body of a shapely guitar
trembling like a spider in an hourglass
everytime the world gets turned upside down
like moonset in the morning of a mirage.
Why crack another perfectly good mirror
just to hatch another eclipse
out of a cosmic egg
when it's just as easy
to teach people to see in the dark.
And, besides, you being the singer you were,
I didn't think a nightbird needed a voice coach
and I'm nothing, if not a man of my word
though I know it sounds
too sophisticated to the foolish,
and to those who know
way more than I care to, absurd.
But I don't trust any kind of wisdom
that takes its craziness for granted
and starts putting bars on the windows
to keep itself out of the asylum.
This is this. And this is that too.
And whether I'm looking
deeply into stars or fireflies
from either end of the telescope
at a feast of light, or the crumbs
of a dream in the corners of the eyes
of the last famine of seven lean kind,
alone with myself in the night
beauty is always an ocean of bliss
tinctured with a mild antidote of sadness
so this doesn't overwhelm that
in a delerium of epiphenomenal madness.
I don't know if you'd call it spiritual or not
but when it comes to divining the undefinable,
I know that similes share a lot more of themselves
with a world that doesn't cut itself any slack
than metaphors that insist on exacting
false identities from refugees along the road
with whom they have nothing in common
but exile and the longing
of a candle in the window
who doesn't know who it's waiting for
to write someone's name again in fire
like a fountainpen talking to birds
in a dialect of being that's older than words.
And the Sufis say you begin to take on
the characteristics of anyone
you've been around more than forty days.
And we made it a bit further than that.
You so much like the nightsea
of starless rain in me by the time we parted
and me the unpredictable spiritual weather
in the third eye of your emotional hurricane
looking for landfall with ravens and doves
in an exchange of transcontinental loveletters
with black and white feathers.

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Patrick White

Galactic Darkness

Galactic darkness. Luna moths
drawn in by the zircon oases of
candles on the coffee-table
burning behind plate-glass
like the muses of consumer longing,
given how far it is to fly to the stars,
though nothing blocks the way,
their wings spread on the windows
like death masks and decals on a suitcase,
stamps on forlorn loveletters
that can labour over every sacred syllable
for effect, but still eat
the ashes of neglect for real.

But, then, again, how can you fail
if you're mad, if you can feel
in your blood, how the stars
can start fires here on earth
using the fireflies for chemical fuses?
Or the moon, her moths, for proxies?
Bless the beatific insanity of crazy wisdom
pursuing an earthly excellence
in the eye of inviolate perfection
to add its petal of light to the shedding
of the unsayable rose that ignites the soul
to the dragon of longing and devotion
that dwells within like serpent fire
waiting on the wind, that's you,
to give it wings with every breath you take.

Just because you can name all the trees
in the forest, doesn't mean
you've explored a wilderness
or suffered the dangerous ordeals
of your rite of passage through it
to uninhabitable states of mind
your adaptable presence
spontaneously humanizes
with the unlikelihood of you even
being there with your mountainous outlook
and sidereal overview about
the apparent impersonality of the universe
putting its roots down in you like fruitful tree
with a windfall of sustainable planets at your feet.

O little mystic, in midnight shades
of Prussian blue, it isn't true if you
were to look into the face of your god
your eyes would burn like an oilspill
on an ocean of of prescient wavelengths
that will turn on you like a snake
from the burning faucet of a toxic housewell.
Embrace what consumes you like fire at the stake.
In the blast furnace of the universe they peer into
like the source of the mystery that absorbs them
the astronomers have recast their eyes
into philosophically ground lenses and pyrex mirrors
silvered by a quarter ounce of their vaporous spirits
looking for clarity in a cloud of unknowing
the way the morning air cleans its stardust off with the dew.

Nothing less than everything all the time.
What does the world hold back in reserve,
or your bodymind all you need and prefer
to be as lost as a feather in the shadow of a sundial
as the nightbird you are now, afraid
of where the wind might carry you
far from the aviary of that golden cage
of a voice-box that's trained you
what to say to strangers who ask
when was the last time you went looking
for continents in a flood, or even
went down with one like Mu or Atlantis,
the kingfisher captain of the ship?

Take a cometary approach and leap
from your black halo into the sun
as if you were jumping orbitals
from a burning bridge where
the serious arsonists come
to commit suicide by flinging themselves
like fire on the water to see if,
like the reflections of the stars,
they can get over their hydrophobia,
by realizing the pilot lights of their fever
can never wholly be put out once
they start spreading like a wildfire
through the zodiac, house by house.

But you don't need a fire department
in the inflammable amethyst village
sequestered in the coffin of your spiritual life
like a seed afraid to come out of itself
like foxfire after a cosmic conflagration.
You don't need to dream your totem alone
in a fire-tower in the woods,
high among the crowns of the trees
polling fireflies and meteors by the minute,
to see if you've got what it takes
to get something started within yourself
that isn't just another demonic firecracker
you throw at the ghosts of your afterlives
like pebbles and beans, to scare them away.

Pinocchio runs to the pyre of his karma
in the sacred ashes of someone else's lifemask
though the flame at the end of his nose
is a dead giveaway he's attached too many strings
to the box kite self-immolating in the power lines
he thought he could do a quick fly over
like a transmigratory bird avoiding a snake pit
that's trying to catch its eye like a liar's holy book,
two minutes with a hook, then dead air
when the hits are shelved like golden ashes
in the urns of an elephant graveyard
where the poachers come to salvage
the tusks and crescent moons of their mnemonic relics.

Any fool can make a religion out of a salvationist alibi
by telling themselves that we were all no good
before we were born, and we all need to be recalled
like Toyota suvs for legally culpable emergency repairs
at mystically specific authorized garages
and shrines with forklifts for spiritual vehicles
to have their undercarriages inspected in the pits of hell
by gurus with Jiffy Lube all over their coveralls
greasing the wheel bearings of the celestial omnibus
to turn round and round and round
like the wheel of birth and death suspended in mid air
and going, as the crow flies, nowhere.

Don't scorn the fire in the darkness of the coal
that burns on the inside when there's nothing
but diamonds freezing at the door on the outside
or looking down in longing like the stars
at the flurries of chimney sparks rising
like intimate insights with the lifespan
of enraptured gnats at dusk, to illuminate
the fixed assumptions of the mythic shining
with impromptu constellations of their own
in a smaller darkness closer to home
that glow at night like astral plastic stars
stuck to the ceiling of a child's bedroom
made infinitely intimate and wondrous
according to the orders of her intuitive seeing
when she walks in the starfields, following
the fragrance of whatever's she's dreaming
whether the road evaporates like smoke
from a fire on a cold night in the distance,
or unfolds like a starmap of wildflowers,
a bird with a library of feathers for wings,
she embraces the vast, vacant, interstellar spaces,
the sublime, empty vastness of the tabla rasa
of her imagination, the light emerging out of the void
into the eyes of the uncarved lifemasks
of the most tender and homely of things.

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George Meredith

The Day Of The Daughter Of Hades

I

He who has looked upon Earth
Deeper than flower and fruit,
Losing some hue of his mirth,
As the tree striking rock at the root,
Unto him shall the marvellous tale
Of Callistes more humanly come
With the touch on his breast than a hail
From the markets that hum.

II

Now the youth footed swift to the dawn.
'Twas the season when wintertide,
In the higher rock-hollows updrawn,
Leaves meadows to bud, and he spied,
By light throwing shallow shade,
Between the beam and the gloom,
Sicilian Enna, whose Maid
Such aspect wears in her bloom
Underneath since the Charioteer
Of Darkness whirled her away,
On a reaped afternoon of the year,
Nigh the poppy-droop of Day.
O and naked of her, all dust,
The majestic Mother and Nurse,
Ringing cries to the God, the Just,
Curled the land with the blight of her curse:
Recollected of this glad isle
Still quaking. But now more fair,
And momently fraying the while
The veil of the shadows there,
Soft Enna that prostrate grief
Sang through, and revealed round the vines,
Bronze-orange, the crisp young leaf,
The wheat-blades tripping in lines,
A hue unillumined by sun
Of the flowers flooding grass as from founts:
All the penetrable dun
Of the morn ere she mounts.

III

Nor had saffron and sapphire and red
Waved aloft to their sisters below,
When gaped by the rock-channel head
Of the lake, black, a cave at one blow,
Reverberant over the plain:
A sound oft fearfully swung
For the coming of wrathful rain:
And forth, like the dragon-tongue
Of a fire beaten flat by the gale,
But more as the smoke to behold,
A chariot burst. Then a wail
Quivered high of the love that would fold
Bliss immeasurable, bigger than heart,
Though a God's: and the wheels were stayed,
And the team of the chariot swart
Reared in marble, the six, dismayed,
Like hoofs that by night plashing sea
Curve and ramp from the vast swan-wave:
For, lo, the Great Mother, She!
And Callistes gazed, he gave
His eyeballs up to the sight:
The embrace of the Twain, of whom
To men are their day, their night,
Mellow fruits and the shearing tomb:
Our Lady of the Sheaves
And the Lily of Hades, the Sweet
Of Enna: he saw through leaves
The Mother and Daughter meet.
They stood by the chariot-wheel,
Embraced, very tall, most like
Fellow poplars, wind-taken, that reel
Down their shivering columns and strike
Head to head, crossing throats: and apart,
For the feast of the look, they drew,
Which Darkness no longer could thwart;
And they broke together anew,
Exulting to tears, flower and bud.
But the mate of the Rayless was grave:
She smiled like Sleep on its flood,
That washes of all we crave:
Like the trance of eyes awake
And the spirit enshrouded, she cast
The wan underworld on the lake.
They were so, and they passed.

IV

He tells it, who knew the law
Upon mortals: he stood alive
Declaring that this he saw:
He could see, and survive.

V

Now the youth was not ware of the beams
With the grasses intertwined,
For each thing seen, as in dreams,
Came stepping to rear through his mind,
Till it struck his remembered prayer
To be witness of this which had flown
Like a smoke melted thinner than air,
That the vacancy doth disown.
And viewing a maiden, he thought
It might now be morn, and afar
Within him the memory wrought
Of a something that slipped from the car
When those, the august, moved by:
Perchance a scarf, and perchance
This maiden. She did not fly,
Nor started at his advance:
She looked, as when infinite thirst
Pants pausing to bless the springs,
Refreshed, unsated. Then first
He trembled with awe of the things
He had seen; and he did transfer,
Divining and doubting in turn,
His reverence unto her;
Nor asked what he crouched to learn:
The whence of her, whither, and why
Her presence there, and her name,
Her parentage: under which sky
Her birth, and how hither she came,
So young, a virgin, alone,
Unfriended, having no fear,
As Oreads have; no moan,
Like the lost upon earth; no tear;
Not a sign of the torch in the blood,
Though her stature had reached the height
When mantles a tender rud
In maids that of youths have sight,
If maids of our seed they be:
For he said: A glad vision art thou!
And she answered him: Thou to me!
As men utter a vow.

VI

Then said she, quick as the cries
Of the rainy cranes: Light! light!
And Helios rose in her eyes,
That were full as the dew-balls bright,
Relucent to him as dews
Unshaded. Breathing, she sent
Her voice to the God of the Muse,
And along the vale it went,
Strange to hear: not thin, not shrill:
Sweet, but no young maid's throat:
The echo beyond the hill
Ran falling on half the note:
And under the shaken ground
Where the Hundred-headed groans
By the roots of great AEtna bound,
As of him were hollow tones
Of wondering roared: a tale
Repeated to sunless halls.
But now off the face of the vale
Shadows fled in a breath, and the walls
Of the lake's rock-head were gold,
And the breast of the lake, that swell
Of the crestless long wave rolled
To shore-bubble, pebble and shell.
A morning of radiant lids
O'er the dance of the earth opened wide:
The bees chose their flowers, the snub kids
Upon hindlegs went sportive, or plied,
Nosing, hard at the dugs to be filled:
There was milk, honey, music to make:
Up their branches the little birds billed:
Chirrup, drone, bleat and buzz ringed the lake.
O shining in sunlight, chief
After water and water's caress,
Was the young bronze-orange leaf,
That clung to the tree as a tress,
Shooting lucid tendrils to wed
With the vine-hook tree or pole,
Like Arachne launched out on her thread.
Then the maiden her dusky stole
In the span of the black-starred zone,
Gathered up for her footing fleet.
As one that had toil of her own
She followed the lines of wheat
Tripping straight through the fields, green blades,
To the groves of olive grey,
Downy-grey, golden-tinged: and to glades
Where the pear-blossom thickens the spray
In a night, like the snow-packed storm:
Pear, apple, almond, plum:
Not wintry now: pushing, warm!
And she touched them with finger and thumb,
As the vine-hook closes: she smiled,
Recounting again and again,
Corn, wine, fruit, oil! like a child,
With the meaning known to men.
For hours in the track of the plough
And the pruning-knife she stepped,
And of how the seed works, and of how
Yields the soil, she seemed adept.
Then she murmured that name of the dearth,
The Beneficent, Hers, who bade
Our husbandmen sow for the birth
Of the grain making earth full glad.
She murmured that Other's: the dirge
Of life-light: for whose dark lap
Our locks are clipped on the verge
Of the realm where runs no sap.
She said: We have looked on both!
And her eyes had a wavering beam
Of various lights, like the froth
Of the storm-swollen ravine stream
In flame of the bolt. What links
Were these which had made him her friend?
He eyed her, as one who drinks,
And would drink to the end.

VII

Now the meadows with crocus besprent,
And the asphodel woodsides she left,
And the lake-slopes, the ravishing scent
Of narcissus, dark-sweet, for the cleft
That tutors the torrent-brook,
Delaying its forceful spleen
With many a wind and crook
Through rock to the broad ravine.
By the hyacinth-bells in the brakes,
And the shade-loved white windflower, half hid,
And the sun-loving lizards and snakes
On the cleft's barren ledges, that slid
Out of sight, smooth as waterdrops, all,
At a snap of twig or bark
In the track of the foreign foot-fall,
She climbed to the pineforest dark,
Overbrowing an emerald chine
Of the grass-billows. Thence, as a wreath,
Running poplar and cypress to pine,
The lake-banks are seen, and beneath,
Vineyard, village, groves, rivers, towers, farms,
The citadel watching the bay,
The bay with the town in its arms,
The town shining white as the spray
Of the sapphire sea-wave on the rock,
Where the rock stars the girdle of sea,
White-ringed, as the midday flock,
Clipped by heat, rings the round of the tree.
That hour of the piercing shaft
Transfixes bough-shadows, confused
In veins of fire, and she laughed,
With her quiet mouth amused
To see the whole flock, adroop,
Asleep, hug the tree-stem as one,
Imperceptibly filling the loop
Of its shade at a slant of sun.
The pipes under pent of the crag,
Where the goatherds in piping recline,
Have whimsical stops, burst and flag
Uncorrected as outstretched swine:
For the fingers are slack and unsure,
And the wind issues querulous:- thorns
And snakes!--but she listened demure,
Comparing day's music with morn's.
Of the gentle spirit that slips
From the bark of the tree she discoursed,
And of her of the wells, whose lips
Are coolness enchanting, rock-sourced.
And much of the sacred loon,
The frolic, the Goatfoot God,
For stories of indolent noon
In the pineforest's odorous nod,
She questioned, not knowing: he can
Be waspish, irascible, rude,
He is oftener friendly to man,
And ever to beasts and their brood.
For the which did she love him well,
She said, and his pipes of the reed,
His twitched lips puffing to tell
In music his tears and his need,
Against the sharp catch of his hurt.
Not as shepherds of Pan did she speak,
Nor spake as the schools, to divert,
But fondly, perceiving him weak
Before Gods, and to shepherds a fear,
A holiness, horn and heel.
All this she had learnt in her ear
From Callistes, and taught him to feel.
Yea, the solemn divinity flushed
Through the shaggy brown skin of the beast,
And the steeps where the cataract rushed,
And the wilds where the forest is priest,
Were his temple to clothe him in awe,
While she spake: 'twas a wonder: she read
The haunts of the beak and the claw
As plain as the land of bread,
But Cities and martial States,
Whither soon the youth veered his theme,
Were impervious barrier-gates
To her: and that ship, a trireme,
Nearing harbour, scarce wakened her glance,
Though he dwelt on the message it bore
Of sceptre and sword and lance
To the bee-swarms black on the shore,
Which were audible almost,
So black they were. It befel
That he called up the warrior host
Of the Song pouring hydromel
In thunder, the wide-winged Song.
And he named with his boyish pride
The heroes, the noble throng
Past Acheron now, foul tide!
With his joy of the godlike band
And the verse divine, he named
The chiefs pressing hot on the strand,
Seen of Gods, of Gods aided, and maimed.
The fleetfoot and ireful; the King;
Him, the prompter in stratagem,
Many-shifted and masterful: Sing,
O Muse! But she cried: Not of them
She breathed as if breath had failed,
And her eyes, while she bade him desist,
Held the lost-to-light ghosts grey-mailed,
As you see the grey river-mist
Hold shapes on the yonder bank.
A moment her body waned,
The light of her sprang and sank:
Then she looked at the sun, she regained
Clear feature, and she breathed deep.
She wore the wan smile he had seen,
As the flow of the river of Sleep,
On the mouth of the Shadow-Queen.
In sunlight she craved to bask,
Saying: Life! And who was she? who?
Of what issue? He dared not ask,
For that partly he knew.

VIII

A noise of the hollow ground
Turned the eye to the ear in debate:
Not the soft overflowing of sound
Of the pines, ranked, lofty, straight,
Barely swayed to some whispers remote,
Some swarming whispers above:
Not the pines with the faint airs afloat,
Hush-hushing the nested dove:
It was not the pines, or the rout
Oft heard from mid-forest in chase,
But the long muffled roar of a shout
Subterranean. Sharp grew her face.
She rose, yet not moved by affright;
'Twas rather good haste to use
Her holiday of delight
In the beams of the God of the Muse.
And the steeps of the forest she crossed,
On its dry red sheddings and cones
Up the paths by roots green-mossed,
Spotted amber, and old mossed stones.
Then out where the brook-torrent starts
To her leap, and from bend to curve
A hurrying elbow darts
For the instant-glancing swerve,
Decisive, with violent will
In the action formed, like hers,
The maiden's, ascending; and still
Ascending, the bud of the furze,
The broom, and all blue-berried shoots
Of stubborn and prickly kind,
The juniper flat on its roots,
The dwarf rhododaphne, behind
She left, and the mountain sheep
Far behind, goat, herbage and flower.
The island was hers, and the deep,
All heaven, a golden hour.
Then with wonderful voice, that rang
Through air as the swan's nigh death,
Of the glory of Light she sang,
She sang of the rapture of Breath.
Nor ever, says he who heard,
Heard Earth in her boundaries broad,
From bosom of singer or bird
A sweetness thus rich of the God
Whose harmonies always are sane.
She sang of furrow and seed,
The burial, birth of the grain,
The growth, and the showers that feed,
And the green blades waxing mature
For the husbandman's armful brown.
O, the song in its burden ran pure,
And burden to song was a crown.
Callistes, a singer, skilled
In the gift he could measure and praise,
By a rival's art was thrilled,
Though she sang but a Song of Days,
Where the husbandman's toil and strife
Little varies to strife and toil:
But the milky kernel of life,
With her numbered: corn, wine, fruit, oil
The song did give him to eat:
Gave the first rapt vision of Good,
And the fresh young sense of Sweet
The grace of the battle for food,
With the issue Earth cannot refuse
When men to their labour are sworn.
'Twas a song of the God of the Muse
To the forehead of Morn.

IX

Him loved she. Lo, now was he veiled:
Over sea stood a swelled cloud-rack:
The fishing-boat heavenward sailed,
Bent abeam, with a whitened track,
Surprised, fast hauling the net,
As it flew: sea dashed, earth shook.
She said: Is it night? O not yet!
With a travail of thoughts in her look.
The mountain heaved up to its peak:
Sea darkened: earth gathered her fowl;
Of bird or of branch rose the shriek.
Night? but never so fell a scowl
Wore night, nor the sky since then
When ocean ran swallowing shore,
And the Gods looked down for men.
Broke tempest with that stern roar
Never yet, save when black on the whirl
Rode wrath of a sovereign Power.
Then the youth and the shuddering girl,
Dim as shades in the angry shower,
Joined hands and descended a maze
Of the paths that were racing alive
Round boulder and bush, cleaving ways,
Incessant, with sound of a hive.
The height was a fountain-urn
Pouring streams, and the whole solid height
Leaped, chasing at every turn
The pair in one spirit of flight
To the folding pineforest. Yet here,
Like the pause to things hunted, in doubt,
The stillness bred spectral fear
Of the awfulness ranging without,
And imminent. Downward they fled,
From under the haunted roof,
To the valley aquake with the tread
Of an iron-resounding hoof,
As of legions of thunderful horse
Broken loose and in line tramping hard.
For the rage of a hungry force
Roamed blind of its mark over sward:
They saw it rush dense in the cloak
Of its travelling swathe of steam;
All the vale through a thin thread-smoke
Was thrown back to distance extreme:
And dull the full breast of it blinked,
Like a buckler of steel breathed o'er,
Diminished, in strangeness distinct,
Glowing cold, unearthly, hoar:
An Enna of fields beyond sun,
Out of light, in a lurid web;
And the traversing fury spun
Up and down with a wave's flow and ebb;
As the wave breaks to grasp and to spurn,
Retire, and in ravenous greed,
Inveterate, swell its return.
Up and down, as if wringing from speed
Sights that made the unsighted appear,
Delude and dissolve, on it scoured.
Lo, a sea upon land held career
Through the plain of the vale half-devoured.
Callistes of home and escape
Muttered swiftly, unwitting of speech.
She gazed at the Void of shape,
She put her white hand to his reach,
Saying: Now have we looked on the Three.
And divided from day, from night,
From air that is breath, stood she,
Like the vale, out of light.

X

Then again in disorderly words
He muttered of home, and was mute,
With the heart of the cowering birds
Ere they burst off the fowler's foot.
He gave her some redness that streamed
Through her limbs in a flitting glow.
The sigh of our life she seemed,
The bliss of it clothing in woe.
Frailer than flower when the round
Of the sickle encircles it: strong
To tell of the things profound,
Our inmost uttering song,
Unspoken. So stood she awhile
In the gloom of the terror afield,
And the silence about her smile
Said more than of tongue is revealed.
I have breathed: I have gazed: I have been:
It said: and not joylessly shone
The remembrance of light through the screen
Of a face that seemed shadow and stone.
She led the youth trembling, appalled,
To the lake-banks he saw sink and rise
Like a panic-struck breast. Then she called,
And the hurricane blackness had eyes.
It launched like the Thunderer's bolt.
Pale she drooped, and the youth by her side
Would have clasped her and dared a revolt
Sacrilegious as ever defied
High Olympus, but vainly for strength
His compassionate heart shook a frame
Stricken rigid to ice all its length.
On amain the black traveller came.
Lo, a chariot, cleaving the storm,
Clove the fountaining lake with a plough,
And the lord of the steeds was in form
He, the God of implacable brow,
Darkness: he: he in person: he raged
Through the wave like a boar of the wilds
From the hunters and hounds disengaged,
And a name shouted hoarsely: his child's.
Horror melted in anguish to hear.
Lo, the wave hissed apart for the path
Of the terrible Charioteer,
With the foam and torn features of wrath,
Hurled aloft on each arm in a sheet;
And the steeds clove it, rushing at land
Like the teeth of the famished at meat.
Then he swept out his hand.

XI

This, no more, doth Callistes recall:
He saw, ere he dropped in swoon,
On the maiden the chariot fall,
As a thundercloud swings on the moon.
Forth, free of the deluge, one cry
From the vanishing gallop rose clear:
And: Skiegeneia! the sky
Rang; Skiegeneia! the sphere.
And she left him therewith, to rejoice,
Repine, yearn, and know not his aim,
The life of their day in her voice,
Left her life in her name.

XII

Now the valley in ruin of fields
And fair meadowland, showing at eve
Like the spear-pitted warrior's shields
After battle, bade men believe
That no other than wrathfullest God
Had been loose on her beautiful breast,
Where the flowery grass was clod,
Wheat and vine as a trailing nest.
The valley, discreet in grief,
Disclosed but the open truth,
And Enna had hope of the sheaf:
There was none for the desolate youth
Devoted to mourn and to crave.
Of the secret he had divined
Of his friend of a day would he rave:
How for light of our earth she pined:
For the olive, the vine and the wheat,
Burning through with inherited fire:
And when Mother went Mother to meet,
She was prompted by simple desire
In the day-destined car to have place
At the skirts of the Goddess, unseen,
And be drawn to the dear earth's face.
She was fire for the blue and the green
Of our earth, dark fire; athirst
As a seed of her bosom for dawn,
White air that had robed and nursed
Her mother. Now was she gone
With the Silent, the God without tear,
Like a bud peeping out of its sheath
To be sundered and stamped with the sere.
And Callistes to her beneath,
As she to our beams, extinct,
Strained arms: he was shade of her shade.
In division so were they linked.
But the song which had betrayed
Her flight to the cavernous ear
For its own keenly wakeful: that song
Of the sowing and reaping, and cheer
Of the husbandman's heart made strong
Through droughts and deluging rains
With his faith in the Great Mother's love:
O the joy of the breath she sustains,
And the lyre of the light above,
And the first rapt vision of Good,
And the fresh young sense of Sweet:
That song the youth ever pursued
In the track of her footing fleet.
For men to be profited much
By her day upon earth did he sing:
Of her voice, and her steps, and her touch
On the blossoms of tender Spring,
Immortal: and how in her soul
She is with them, and tearless abides,
Folding grain of a love for one goal
In patience, past flowing of tides.
And if unto him she was tears,
He wept not: he wasted within:
Seeming sane in the song, to his peers,
Only crazed where the cravings begin.
Our Lady of Gifts prized he less
Than her issue in darkness: the dim
Lost Skiegencia's caress
Of our earth made it richest for him.
And for that was a curse on him raised,
And he withered rathe, dry to his prime,
Though the bounteous Giver be praised
Through the island with rites of old time
Exceedingly fervent, and reaped
Veneration for teachings devout,
Pious hymns when the corn-sheaves are heaped
And the wine-presses ruddily spout,
And the olive and apple are juice
At a touch light as hers lost below.
Whatsoever to men is of use
Sprang his worship of them who bestow,
In a measure of songs unexcelled:
But that soul loving earth and the sun
From her home of the shadows he held
For his beacon where beam there is none:
And to join her, or have her brought back,
In his frenzy the singer would call,
Till he followed where never was track,
On the path trod of all.

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Patrick White

Flowers Are The Clocks Of The Light

Flowers are the clocks of the light.
Spring grey. Clouds. Half smoke, half crocus.
The rivulets are carrying last November's leaves away
like long lines of ants bearing the gnostic gospels
of the snow thawing into a spiritual life of water
back to the shrine of their colony
to be chewed over by the divines
masticating the mystery into something
like an edible orthodoxy of mystic impiety.

My heart is a bruised apple with purple blood today.
Neither passionate, nor aloof, clinging
nor unwilling to let go if that's what I must do.
One foot on shore. One in a lifeboat.
O what funny bridges we make as if
we were trying to balance the axis
of heaven and earth upon our nose
like the calves of giraffes learning to walk on stilts.
But there you go. What are you going to do?
That's the way it seems.
You've got to look up and stick your neck out
if you want to graze on the stars.
Same way with dreams. You've got to
risk waking up if you don't want to lose them.

I've wandered off from the carnage
of my doomed holy war of one with my heart
into a peaceful valley where I can sit
on a glacial skull of prophetic rock
and sheathe my sword in the wound I drew it from
like fire from the ore of a crippled dragon
that walked with a limp out of the war
weary of winning these honourable surrenders
like Jacob wrestling with the angel in the way.

Soft here. Easy on the eyes. A gentle touch.
The air on the verge of tears and the trees
about to see who's a skeleton and who's a survivor.
Who made it through the winter, and who
dreamed they died in their sleep and did,
and who, the ghost amputee of the limbs they lost.
I have a mindful heart and a warrior's compassion
for lost lovers, friends, suicides, martyrs, heretics,
neglected gods, defrocked saints, those
who fell half crazy on the broken panes
of their own clarity, committing hara kiri
on the splintered plinths of their own love-crossed stars.
One-eyed artists riding a pair of red bicycle glasses
in a high-wire act without safety nets
like a dropp of dew on a spider's thread
trying to lay the first cable of a suspension bridge
they hope will follow them across the impassable abyss,
offering themselves up like uncertain sacrifices to oblivion.
Big-hearted poets who scattered their works
like the apple bloom of hidden orchards
as their eyes waxed wide-eyed
as a harvest moon into late October
and wound up being gouged by slumlords
in squalid apartment rooms
with an atlas of cracks in the windows,
dunking the hard crust of the bitter life
they were given back in return
for breaking the bread of their souls with strangers
even as they bled to death like a goldrush
and all that was eventually left were the nuggets
of the hearts of coal they dunk in their tears
to make them more palatable
when the Hesperides burn out
the last of their radiant diamonds
and all that's left of their sidereal lyric
is written in the braille of black holes
that comes up snake-eyes on the dice
they've carved from their starless skulls.
And painters whose visions fell from the sky
like rain on the eyelids of dirty windows,
like stars who were washed out
like nocturnal watercolours they painted in tears
like hot cinders from the unradiant world's
way of seeing things with its eyes closed.
Those whose flame burned
like the hydrogen blue of a wild iris
and then disappeared into the perfected heat
of their spiritual immolations, and those,
who scattered their ashes like morning doves on the wind
as if they were breaking their bodies
like loaves and fishes among the flowers
thronging up the hillside like the jester-caps
of the wine-stained trillium
getting drunk with nuns in white.

Just want to let my starmud settle in a puddle.
Look at a few clouds for awhile, the crowns of the trees,
notice the deepening red of the upper branches of the birch
reaching out like thermometers for the sun
and how they look so much like ground willows
raised up high on a marble obelisks and altars
like a blood offering to the sky.
I'm at rest for a moment like the nadir of a bell
in its arc of sadness and bliss, life and death,
one breath and the next, neither heads nor tails
of the copper penny of the moon on the horizon.
And from here I can see the Elysian Fields of the Blessed
littered with the corpses and bones
of my companions and fellow aspirants
the spirit knows as its own.
And I mourn the loss of so many heroic children,
so many glorious losers, determined clowns,
all the lost pages of the books of crazy wisdom
that died like the rainbow bodies
of sages and gardens in their own arms
like the new moon in the embrace of the old.

These are my war dead. These
are the crosses and poppies of blood I kneel before.
These are the ones for whom my tears,
my sorrow, my blessing, my heart is shaped
like a dropp of dew at the tip of a blade of stargrass,
ready to fall at the slightest quaking of an insight
into the intimate beauty and cosmic cost of their sacrifice
not for what they believed, but in what
they tried to make come true without knowing
what it was until it appeared before them
like a child with a piece of bread in her hand,
pointing with the other to the birthstar she comes from.

These were wishing wells of clean water in a dry land.
These were people whose skulls were lunar grails
they offered up to the ailing kingdom
and said, here, drink until I'm empty.
These were people of plenty who walked
in rags and scars, poverty, exile and despair
only to be crucified at the stake like scarecrows
in the starfields of their expansive hearts
come to harvest in the hand of Virgo
like the autumnal equinox of a generous soul.

Sitting pensively here before the gates
of the realms they've entered, it's for these,
I wrap my blood like a robe of silence,
like the gentle mantle of this approaching spring
over their shoulders to keep their memory
alive, warm, hauntingly near and eternally human.
These, for whom my heart grows mute
as this long loveletter I've been writing all my life
knowing by the time it finishes me
all those I would have sent it to will be gone,
gone, gone, gone, altogether gone beyond.
But like any war memorial without a heart of stone,
I am a happy and a sad thing simultaneously
to celebrate the indefensibly human divinity
of these who sprang up like poppies in the grass
and spread their spirit like wildfire
in a rage of renewal that proclaimed
the spiritual innocence of our births and deaths,
evangels standing at the sacred forks of rivers
with nothing to say about salvation in passing
but keep on flowing your own way
flawlessly to the sea that receives and seats
everyone below the salt in the lowest place of all
before it raises them up again to fall
like snow on the blue hills
of a deciduously spiritual mindscape.
These who didn't labour in iron chains
but beaded the light and the water into
a necklace of eyes on the loom of a spiderweb.
As if a jeweller had shown us how
to make dreamcatchers out of our tears.

No. Stone will not do to mark the passing
and return of the water birds to the zeniths and nadirs
of these northern lakes I'm peacefully marooned among
like the shattered pieces of two way mirrors
that put an abrupt end to the conscious interrogation
of their own shadows, reflections, echoes and ghosts
like a spiritual form of espionage
as enlightenment slowly dawned upon them like a firefly
that revealed they already had the answers
to their deepest questions
even before they knew what to ask.
Even before it's wholly dark out, the nightwatchman
is lighting up the sky with stars.

Yes. It must be nothing less than life itself
that honours these whose spirits leaped up playfully
like a gust of stars to blow on the flames.
Their names must be written on the wind
with the occasional ink blot of a crow to keep things
spontaneously unavoidable, as fallibly unpredictable
as they lived their lives on the wing
feathered by the fires of life.

So I live my lives, I die my deaths,
I suffer my wounds and my joys,
my eurekas, hallelujahs, my wonders
my masha Allahs, my oi veys, my inspirations,
the barnyard airfields of my mediocrity
with the wingspan of a kite afraid of heights
hanging on for dear life to something grounded
like an ostrich with its head stuck in the stars.
I rise from the ashes in the urns of my burnt-out genius
like a phoenix with the endless afterlives
of a recurring comet wondering
what it's the sign of this time, what message
does it carry like a loveletter or a warning
not meant to take itself too seriously, and to whom
is it addressed if not as a tribute to these
who have adorned and deepened the darkness
and intensified the light by colouring outside the lines
of the taboos of their homeless madness
standing on the thresholds of their beings in transit
like the unacknowledged orphans of what they're becoming?

I observe the branches of the birch,
I taste the ancient breeding of the light
in the plush syrups of the bleeding maples.
I listen for the night bird in the green room
getting ready to sing its heart out
at its debut appearance in the spotlight of the moon.
I watch the sapling aspens shaking nervously
as they recite their new leaves to the wind
at their very first poetry reading
and in a startled rush of heron's wings
I can hear the one-handed applause of the ghosts
of the more seasoned trees of an old growth forest
that once stood here in the midst of life
as lyrical once, as vulnerable once, as these.

I can see death's door ajar ahead of me.
I come to it out of the dark
like a befuddled bat to a porchlight.
How many lives before have I sat here
transcendentally defeated by the better part of me
and watched the stars slowly emerge like eyes
out of the peacock green silk of the sky
like the ghosts of ancient mulberry blossoms
unfolding their poems like the sails of paper boats,
messenger butterflies with secret love notes
written like starmaps to their otherworldliness
in the indecipherable mother-tongue of all holy books.

Antares, Arcturus, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse,
among all these big ripe red stars,
I'm characteristically human enough
to have realized a long time ago,
even before the volcanoes did,
compared to their radiant enormities,
my life's just another blood stain
among many on the darkness
that can't explain themselves
or account for where they've been,
what they've seen, or counter-intuitively why.
Or who spilled the wine on the sun.

And I'm more than well aware
of the concentrated intensity
of the needle-eyed focus
I've been trying to thread my life through
like this night creek flowing before me
like an oilspill on the moon,
like a sacred syllable smuggled
through the lapis lazuli bull-gates
and up the emergency backstairs
of the polyglot towers of PsychoBabylon
where the faithful are called to prayer in tongues.
In the beginning was the Word.
And it was a nightbird singing in the dark.
It was an image of everything that can't be said,
Imagination trying to render the likeness
of an imageless space, the features of a face
that lets you see the stars in her eyes
as the mutable signs of her ineffability
shining through the dark matter of a veil,
even as you're mixing
complementary colours on your palette
like a stained-glass soul to give your life
to what you cannot see. Even in
this morgue of dead gods, this eyeless reality
arrayed in all its creative potential before us,
the dark abundance of the plenum-void,
or however you want to picture or not,
what else could it be, given we're all born
out of our own image of love
with the playful hearts and minds of artists
with the aesthetic tastes
and spiritual genius of children
transfixed by starfish in the morning
well within reach of their shining.
All artists are lunar orphans
that have been left on the stairs
of the last shrine of idolatry
before reality leaves them speechless and deaf.

And how many times have I come here
just to watch my mind painting
in the light and time
of this mystically specific life
my thoughts, emotions, intuitions,
my clarities, the occultations of my fireflies
trying to get a fire started
out of the dry kindling of lightning
I've piled up like a pyre
for my imminent sky burial
like waterbirds lifting off the lake
in a shower of eyes and insights scattered
like seeds and broken rosaries from their wings
to turn into all other things like spring
returning to its myth of origins.
Or a singer alone on the road, homesick
for the silence he broke into with his song
like the pebble of the moon
thrown into the quiescent pond of the world.
Like the call of Canada geese high overhead at night
returning empty from the land of the dead
having delivered their charges successfully
without looking back retroactively upon the past
to see if they were still being followed or not.

But then, again, who isn't walking
in the footsteps of ghosts who went on ahead of them
on some forsaken shore somewhere?
And I've been mistaken often enough to admit it,
I've sat here on my stony throne sometimes
in this abdicated kingdom,
in the middle of this boneyard
of courtly fossils in the darkness
of the La Brea Tarpit in a black out of stars
at the end of my own tunnel vision
when I looked at things in a dark mood
through the third eye of my orbiting telescope
and all I could see was endless space
with a widow's ashes smeared on its face,
not the chromatically abberated rainbows of rosier lenses
with more of a two-eyed outlook on things
that swim into their ken like cults
of shepherd moons that outnumber
the schools of fish than I've ever seen on Neptune.

Just the salt flats of a future that's not much good
at growing flowers and stars,
but has a knack for keeping things from going bad.
And I whispered suggestively into my left ear
that's not a reason green enough to go on living.
There's no food for thought in the ashes
of the Alexandrian Library of the dead.
There's no harvest, there's no end of the world
stored like grain in the empty urns
and back amphorae of the new moon
bobbing like cormorants on the mast
of a shipwreck Atlantean fathoms below the waterline.
And remembering a dead poet friend of mine,
thought old age is the year of the locusts,
though he didn't live it that way
well into his nineties and beyond.
And finding nothing up ahead to give it forward to
gave my future up to living it for people like him
as if it were no less theirs than mine,
only to realize as I progressed backwards in time
the return journey through the zodiac
I've made of the stations of my life
is so much more spiritually vital than the first
that wasn't quite as down to earth
as this one where solid things seem
like mere shadows of the picture-music
streaming like the Road of Ghosts through
a sad nightmare we're all glued to
like constellations of black dwarfs to flypaper
compared with these translucent masterpieces
inspired by the song of a hidden nightbird
empowered by the singular longing
of the candle it keeps lighting up and blowing out,
like the eternal flame of the synteretic spark
looking for enlightenment
with a white cane in the dark.

So. Yes. For me, for them, for people
it will be ten thousand lifetimes
before we embrace again at zenith
when the sun shines at midnight,
and the wide-eyed lunatics
follow the moon like a cult to the dark side
to see what she's been hiding from them
like a black pearl in her other hand.
So, yes, yes, even now that my tears fall
way more often than they ought
or I should even remotely like,
I give my assent to them all like spring rain
on the withered stars and rusty spearheads
of the brown New England asters.
I live it like a living memorial
to future generations yet to come
of what it was like to be human
in a makeshift Eden of desiccated tree limbs
where sacred water snakes
once sang in their green boughs like birds.
I live it for them like the spontaneous flightplan
of an heretical root fire
spreading like a phoenix
through the valley of death
in a frontal assault of fireflies
going off like fireworks in all directions at once
as if the easiest way
to storm the walls in the way of anywhere
and enter by the right gate, is to live
the way these did each in their own good time,
no matter the ferocity of the species-killing meteors
that were hurled against them like the Perseids.
Or the eviction notices they couldn't ignore
that were slipped like razorblades
across their thresholds of pain
to vacate the premises of their biospheres
by such and such a moment on a Mayan calendar.
And in spite of all that, in the face of the fate
that befell them like wild apples
in a windfall of last year's trees,
live it even now at this late date through me
like a legacy of surrealistically enlightened madness
that can always find something to celebrate
about walking around on the earth for their sake
cherishing my insignificance in an unworthy world
just to see in whatever I turn my eyes to
what a jewel of awareness that truly is.

I see the uprooted tree where lighting
decapitated the head of the Medusa.
I see the crocus in its cap
more like two hands folded in prayer
trying to keep warm over a small golden fire
than I do the pope of flowers.
I smell the fragrance of decay
in the damp, green moss of a funeral home
clinging to the cliches of its emotional condolences
like wigs on a skull waiting for a hair transplant
of red columbine with its blonde roots showing through
like the sun peeping through the eyelid of a crimson dusk.
I break off a blood-stained horn of sumac
and savour it like the taste
of a lemon-flavoured couch
I spit out of my mouth like high-protein lint
at the bottom of an empty pocket
that knows how to survive in the woods
without having to live for itself.

My hand caresses the water
like the wing of a loon on a moonlit lake
that isn't waiting for its return.
I pity a dead squirrel with eye-sockets
that have been gouged out like white meat
from the shells of black walnuts
and I can feel compassion whelming up
in the eyes of the dead who can see this through me
like a death mask I place on their faces
eyebrow to eyebrow with this vision of life
I'm living like a lifeboat in the aftermath of theirs.

Compass needles like infinite directions of prayer
among the abandoned pagodas of the pine-cones
waiting for fire to awake the sacred seed syllables
they've hidden under their eyelids
to raise them up to renew the world again
like evergreens in a towering wilderness,
like morning doves hidden under the eaves
of their crumbling temples,
or a nightbird such as me
with a star in its beak
like a lost earring of the moon
it's retrieved like a holy word
from the mindstream
its shining was once returned to
like a silver tribute to the river.

Venus and Jupiter going down in the west.
Saturn and Mars rising late in the east.
Love, power, pensive sorrow and war,
the lifelines of the least of us
flowing like dynasties of blood and tears
down the world mountain,
out of the melting hills
into the new seabeds of these
who were magnanimously blessed by the moon
realizing as they approach the deltas of the dead
they're finally at peace with themselves
like a poet sitting on the banks
of a woodland stream in the early spring
sleepwalking through everyone else's dreams
not as someone who made a vow over a deathbed,
not as mere words mouthed breathlessly
like ghosts dissipating into the chilly dead air,
but the heart of a nightbird returning
to the lyrics of an ancient repertoire
it can't help but remember and sing
like an overture of picture-music
as a prelude to the pagan advent
of the ancestral recurrence of a prophetic spring.

Stars like nocturnal waterlilies soon
crowding the banks of the Milky Way.
A moonrise of lustrous bubbles in Pisces
like fish swimming in the reflected treetops,
singing along with the boundless birds
that nest like a choir of homeless voices
returning like the dead in vital bliss to their roots
like a fire sign to the living
from these who were interred like ashes
in the urns of a phoenix
born with the wingspan
of an autumn sumac that went down in flames
like the names of the noblest of these
who were moved like Luna moths and Icarian comets
to risk flying too close to the sun,
to burn the flightfeathers of their imaginations
like love letters expiring in the heretical fires
on a pyre of broken wands and empty pens
of what inspired them the most to write
in the indelible inks of the human spirit
read like a secret message of invisible desires
over the a fire in a script of cursive smoke
like spring returning like words and birds
to the lyrical mouths of lonely, holy ghosts
trying to put an earthly picture-music
like flesh back on bones of the flutes
of their ineffable spiritual longing
to sing for the unattainable like the high note
of an inconceivably sustainable table of contents.

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Sun-Up

(Shadows over a cradle…
fire-light craning….
A hand
throws something in the fire
and a smaller hand
runs into the flame and out again,
singed and empty….
Shadows
settling over a cradle…
two hands
and a fire.)

I

CELIA

Cherry, cherry, glowing on the hearth, bright red cherry…. When you try to pick up cherry Celia's shriek sticks in you like a pin.


When God throws hailstones you cuddle in Celia's shawl and press your feet on her belly high up like a stool. When Celia makes umbrella of her hand. Rain falls through big pink spokes of her fingers. When wind blows Celia's gown up off her legs she runs under pillars of the bank— great round pillars of the bank have on white stockings too.


Celia says my father
will bring me a golden bowl.
When I think of my father
I cannot see him
for the big yellow bowl
like the moon with two handles
he carries in front of him.

Grandpa, grandpa…
(Light all about you
ginger… pouring out of green jars…)
You don't believe he has gone away and left his great coat…
so you pretend… you see his face up in the ceiling.
When you clap your hands and cry, grandpa, grandpa, grandpa,
Celia crosses herself.


It isn't a dream…. It comes again and again…. You hear ivy crying on steeples the flames haven't caught yet and images screaming when they see red light on the lilies on the stained glass window of St. Joseph. The girl with the black eyes holds you tight, and you runand run past the wild, wild towers… and trees in the gardens tugging at their feet and little frightened dolls shut up in the shops crying… and crying… because no one stops… you spin like a penny thrown out in the street. Then the man clutches her by the hair…. He always clutches her by the hair…. His eyes stick out like spears. You see her pulled-back face and her black, black eyes lit up by the glare…. Then everything goes out. Please God, don't let me dream any more of the girl with the black, black eyes.

Celia's shadow rocks and rocks… and mama's eyes stare out of the pillow as though she had gone away and the night had come in her place as it comes in empty rooms… you can't bear itthe night threshing about and lashing its tail on its sides as bold as a wolf that isn't afraid— and you scream at her face, that is white as a stone on a grave and pull it around to the light, till the night draws backward… the night that walks alone and goes away without end. Mama says, I am cold, Betty, and shivers. Celia tucks the quilt about her feet, but I run for my little red cloak because red is hot like fire.

I wish Celia
could see the sea climb up on the sky
and slide off again
…Celia saying
I'd beg the world with you….
Celia… holding on to the cab…
hands wrenched away…
wind in the masts… like Celia crying….
Celia never minded if you slapped her
when the comb made your hairs ache,
but though you rub your cheek against mama's hand
she has not said darling since….
Now I will slap her again….
I will bite her hand till it bleeds.
It is cool by the port hole.
The wet rags of the wind
flap in your face.

II

THE ALLEY

Because you are four years old
the candle is all dressed up in a new frill.
And stars nod to you through the hole in the curtain,
(except the big stiff planets
too fat to move about much,)
and you curtsey back to the stars
when no one is looking.
You feel sorry for the poor wooden chair
that knows it isn't nice to sit on,
and no one is sad but mama.
You don't like mama to be sad
when you are four years old,
so you pretend
you like the bitter gold-pale tea—
you pretend
if you don't drink it up pretty quick
a little gold-fish
will think it is a pond
and come and get born in it.


It's hot in our street and the breeze is a dirty little broom that sweeps dust into our room and bits of paper out of the alley. You are not let to play with the children in the alley But you must be very polite— so you pass them and say good day and when they fling banana skins you fling them back again.

There is no one to play with and the flies on the window buzz and buzz… …you can pull out their legs and stick pins in their bodies but still they buzz… and mama says: When Nero was a little boy he caught flies on his mama's window and pulled out their legs and stuck pins in their bodies and nobody loved him. Buzz, blue-bellied flies— buzz, nasty black wheel of mama's machine— you are the biggest fly of allyou have the loudest buzz. I hear you at dawn before the locusts. But I like the picture of the Flood and the little babies getting drowned…. If I were there I would save them, but as I can't save them I like to watch them getting drowned.

When mama buys of Ling Ho, he smiles very wide and picks her the largest loquots. The greens-man gave her a cabbage and she held it against her black bodice and said what a beautiful green it was and put it on the table as though it had been a flower. But next day we boiled and ate it with salt. It was our dinner.

Christmas day I found Janie on my pillow. Janie is made of rubber. Her red and blue jacket won't come off. Christmas dinner was green and white chicken and lettuce and peas and drops of oil on the salad smiley and full of light like the gold on the lady's teeth.

But mama said politely Thank you, we are dining out. She wouldn't let you take one pea to put in the hole where the whistle was at the back of Janie's head, so Janie should have some dinner So you went to the park with biscuits and black tea in a bottle.

You feel very sad
when you climb on the fence
to watch mama out of sight.
The women in the alley
poke their heads out of doorways
and watch her too.
You know her
by the way she holds her shoulders
till she is only a speck
in a chain of specks—
till she is swallowed up.
But suppose
that day after day
you were to watch for her face
and it didn't come back?
Suppose
it were to drop out of the string of white faces
like the pearl out of my chain
I never found again?


Mabel minds you while mama is out,
she washes while she sings
Three blind mice!
they all run away from the farmer's wife
who cut off their tails
with a carving knife—
Wind blows out Mabel's sheets,
way you blow in a bag before you burst it.
Wind has a soapy smell.
It's heavier'n sun
that lies all over you without any weight
and makes you feel happy
and crinkly like bubbling water.
There's no sun on the empty house—
sly-looking house—
you can't see in its windows
that watch you out of their corners.
Perhaps there's a big spider there
spinning gray threads over the windows
till they look like dead people's faces….
Jimmie says:
Jimmie's hair is white as a white mouse.
His lashes are gold as mama's wedding ring
and his mouth feels cool and smooth
like a flower wet with rain.
You wouldn't believe Jimmie was different…
till he showed you….


Blind wet sheets flapping on the lines… sun in your eyes, dark gold sun full of little black spots, you have to blink and blink… round eyes of Jimmie…. Jimmie's blue jumper… blue shadow of wall… all the world holding still as when a clock stops… streets still… people stillno streets… no people… only sky and wall… sun glaring bright as God down at you and Jimmie… shadow like a purple cloth trailing off the wall…

Wild wet sheets flapping in the wind… big slippered feet flapping too… big-balloon-face rushing up the alley… houses closing up again… windows looking round… … Mabel pulls you in the gate and shakes you and tells you not to tell your mama… And you wonder if God has spoiled Jimmie.

III

MAMA

Mama's face
is smooth and pale as tea-rose leaves.
That ivory oval of aunt Gem
you sucked the miniature off
had black black hair like mama.


Pit-it-ty-pat, Mama walks so fast, street lamps jig without bending a leg… lights in the windows play twinkling tunes on crimson and blue bottles like bubbles big as balloons… Faster and faster… and pink light spurts over cakes doing polkas in little white shirts, with cake-princesses in flounced white skirts.

Pit-pat—
mama walks slower…
slower and… slower…
Eyes… lamps… stars
acres and acres of stars
bellsand sleepily
flapping feet….
You're glad mama walks slow.
It's nice to be carried along
up high near the stars
that look at you with a grave, great look.


Every night
mama sings you to sleep.
When she sings, O for the light of thine eyes Dolores,
there's a castle on a cliff
and the sea roars like lions.
It leaps at the castle
and the cliff knocks it down
but always the sea
shakes its flattened head
and gets up again.
The castle has no roof
so the rain spins silvery webs in it,
and Dolores' face
floats dim and beautiful
the way flowers do when they are drowned.
Step by white step
she goes up the castle stairs,
but the stair goes up into the sky
and the sky keeps going up too,
and none of them ever get there.

When mama sings Ba ba black sheep, the stars seem to shine through her voice so everything has to be still, and when she has finished singing her song goes up off the earth, higher and higher… till it is only as big as a tiny silver bird with nothing but moonlight around it.

IV

BETTY

You can see the sandhills from our new room. Butterflies live in the sandhills and lizards and centipedes. If you keep very still lizards will think you a stone and run over your lap. Butterflies' liveries are scarlet and black. They drive chariots in air. People in the chariots are pale as dew— you can see right through them— but the chariots are made of gold of the sun. They go up to heaven and never catch fire. There are green centipedes and brown centipedes and black centipedes, because green and brown and black are the colors in hell's flag. Centipedes have hundreds of feet because it is so far from hell to come up for air. Centipedes do not hurry. They are waiting for the last day when they will creep over the false prophets who will have their hands tied.

Night calls to the sandhills and gathers them under her. she pushes away cities because their sharp lights hurt her soft breast. Even candles make a sore place when they stick in the night.

There are things in the sandhills that no one knows aboutthey come out at dark when the young snakes play and tell each other secrets in the deaf logs.

Sometimes… before rainwhen the stars have gone inside… the night comes close to your window and sniffs at the light…. But you must not run away— you must keep your face to the night and walk backward.

When it rains and you are pulling off flies' legs… mama lets you play houses with Lizzie and Clara. Because you are the Only One— and because Only Ones have to live alone while sisters stay together, Lizzie and Clara give you the dry house and take the one with the leaking roof.

Rain like curly hairpins
blows on Lizzie and Clara's two heads
turned like one head—
two mouths
spread into one laugh.
Lizzie is saying:
why don't you want to play—
when you feel you'd like to braid
the crinkled-silver rain
into a shining rope
to climb upand upand upinto the wet sky
and never see any one again.

Our gate doesn't hang right. It must have pawed at the wind and gotten a kick as the wind passed over. The sitting sky puffs out a gray smoke and the wind makes a red-striped sound blowing out straight, but our gate drags its foot and whines to itself on one hinge.

What do you think I've found—
two wee knickers of fairy brass,
or two gold sovereigns folded up
in a bit of green silk,
or two gold bugs
in little green shirts?
If you want to know,
you must walk tip-toe
so your feet just whisper in the grass—
you must carry them careful
and very proud,
for their stems bleed drops of milk—
but Lizzie and Clara shout in glee:
Pee-a-bed, pee-a-bed—
dandelions!
You look in the eyes of grown-up people
to see if they feel
the way you feel…
but they hide inside of themselves,
and so you do not find out.
Grown-up people say:
The stars are bright to-night,
but they do not say
what you are thinking about stars
not even mama says what you are thinking about stars.
This makes you feel very lonely.


It's strange about stars…. You have to be still when they look at you. They push your song inside of you with their song. Their long silvery rays sink into you and do not hurt. It is good to feel them resting on you like great white birds… and their shining whiteness doesn't burn like the sun— it washes all over you and makes you feel cleaner'n water.

My doll Janie has no waist and her body is like a tub with feet on it. Sometimes I beat her but I always kiss her afterwards. When I have kissed all the paint off her body I shall tie a ribbon about it so she shan't look shabby. But it must be blue— it mustn't be pink— pink shows the dirt on her face that won't wash off.

I beat Janie
and beat her
but still she smiled…
so I scratched her between the eyes with a pin.
Now she doesn't love me anymore…
she scowls… and scowls…
though I've begged her to forgive me
and poured sugar in the hole at the back of her head.


Mama says Janie is a fairy doll
and she has forgiven me—
that she's gone to the market
to buy me some sweets.
—Now she's at the door
and a little bag tied to her neck—
I run to Janie
and kiss her all over….
Ah… she is still frowning.
I let the sweets drop on the floor
mama
has told you a lie.


Chinaman
singing in street:
gleen ledd-ish-es, gleen ledd-ish-es—
hot sun
shining on your face—
it must be a new day.
But why aren't you happy
if it's a new day?
Because something has happened
something sad and terrible….
Now I remember… it's Janie.
Yesterday
I took Janie out
and tied my handkerchief over her face
and put sand in it
and threw her into the ditch
down in the black water
under the dock leaves…
and when mama asked me where Janie was
I said I had lost her.


I'm glad it is night-time
so I'll be able to go to sleep
and forget all about it….
But mama looks at my tongue
and says she will give me senna tea.
When you smell the tea
you shut your eyes tight
and pretend not to hear
the soft, cool voice of mama
that goes over your forehead
like a little wind.
And then you lie in the dark
and stare… and stare…
till the faces come…
yellow faces with leering eyes
drifting in a greeny mist….
I wonder
if Janie sees faces
out there… alone in the dark….
I wonder
if she has got the handkerchief off
or if the water has gone in the hole
where the whistle was
at the back of her head
and drowned her
or if the stars
can see her under the dock leaves?


It's smoky-blue and still over the red road. Wind must be lying down with its tail under it— doesn't even flick off the flies. And you can hear the silence buzzing in the gum trees, the way the angels buzzed when they flew through the cedars of Lebanon with thin gauze wings you could see through. Nice to hear the silence buzzing— till it comes too close and booms in your ears and presses all over you till you scream…. When you scream at the silence it goes to jingling pieces like a silver mirror broken into tiny bits. Perhaps its wings are made of glass— perhaps it lives down in a dark, dark cave and only comes up to warm its wings in the sun…. It's cold in the cave— no matter how you cover yourself up. Little girls sit there dressed in white and the dolls in their arms all have white handkerchiefs over their faces. Their shadows cannot play with them… their shadows lie down at their feet… for the little girls sit stiff as stones with their backs to the mouth of the cave where a little light falls off the wings of the silence when it comes down out of the sun.

Moon catches the flying fish
as they dive in the bay.
Flying fish
spin over and over
slippity-silver
into the water.
Mom bends over jungles
and touches the foreheads of tigers
as they pass under openings made by dropped leaves.
Tigers stop on the trail of the deer
while the moon is on their foreheads—
they let the stags go by.

Moon is shining strangely on the white palings of the fence. Fence keeps very still… most times it moves a little… everything moves a little though you mayn't know itbut now the little fence wouldn't change places with the great cross that stands so stiff and high with its back to the moon. Moon shining strangely on the white palings of the fence, I am shining too but my light is shut inside of me and can't get out.

Old house with black windows— blind house begging moonlight to put out the shadows— why do you want so much light? You creak when the wind steps on youyou cough up dust and your beams ache— you know you will soon fall, the moon just pities you! Don't waste yourself moon— come on my bed and play with me. Wrap me up in blue light, you who are cool. I am too hot, I am all alive and the shadows are outside of me.

There are different kinds of shadows.
The blind ones
are the shadows of things.
These are the tame shadows—
they love to play on the wall with you
and follow you about like cats and dogs.
Sometimes
they hiss at you softly
like snakes that do not bite,
or swish like women's dresses,
but if you poke a candle at them
they pull in their heads and disappear.

But there is a shadow that is not the shadow of a thingit is a thing itself. When you meet this shadow you must not look at it too longit grows with your looking at it… till you are all alone with nothing around you… nothing… nothing… nothing… but a shadow with its eyes full of black light.

There's a shadow in the corner of the shed, crouching, lying in wait… a black coiled shadow, watching… ready to strike… but I mustn't be afraid of itI mustn't be afraid of anything. Poor evil shadow, the candle would chase it away only she can't get at it. Do you think that every one hates you, shadow with your back to the wall, afraid to lie down and sleep? But I don't hate you. Even the moon means to be kind. She just treads on you as I'd tread on a worm that I didn't see. Don't be afraid of me, shadow. SeeI've no light in my hand— nothing to save myself with— yet I walk right up to youif you'll let me I'll put my arms around you and stroke you softly. Are you surprised I'd put my arms around you? Is it your black black sorrow that nobody loves you?

V

JUDE

When you tell mama you are going to do something great she looks at you as though you were a window she were trying to see through, and says she hopes you will be good instead of great.

When you are five years old
you spend the day in the Gardens.
The grass is greener than cabbages,
and orange lilies
stand up very straight
and will not curtsey to the sun
when the wind tells them.
Only pansies bow down very low.
Pansies make little purple cushions
for queen bees to stand on.
Bees
have brown silk hair on their bodies.
If you are careful
they will let you stroke them.


The trees over the marble man catch up all the sunbeams so the shadows have it their way— the shadows swallow him up like a blue shark. When you scoop a sunbeam up on your palm and offer it to the marble man, he does not notice… he looks into his stone beard. … When you do something great people give you a stone face, so you do not care any more when the sun throws gold on you through leaf-holes the wind makes in green bushes…. This thought makes me very sad.

Jude has eyes like tobacco
with yellow specks on it
and his hair is red as a red orange.
Jude and I
have made a garden in the field
that no one knows about.
We creep in and out
through a little place
where the barbed wire is down.
We lie in the long grass
and crush dandelions
between our two cheeks
till the milk comes out on our faces.
We hold each other tight
and the wind tip-toes all over us
and pelts us with thistle-down.


Jude isn't afraid of shadows—
not even of the ones that have eyes in them.
And he can look in the face of the sun
without blinking at all.
Hush! don't say sun so loud.
The sun gets angry when you stare at him.
If you peek in his glory-windows
he spreads into a great white flame
like God out of his Burning Bush…
till you put your hands up on your face
and tremble like a drop of rain upon a flower
that some one throws into the fire
and then
the sun makes himself small,
the sun swings down out of the sky—
littler'n a star,
little as a spark
little as a fierce red spider
on a burning thread…
and then
the light goes out
shivers into blackened bits….
You hold on to a wall that whirls around
and the gate is a black hole.
You grope your way in like a toad
that's blinded by a stone…
and mama puts on cold wet rags
that get hot soon….
Hush! don't let's talk about the sun.


When you pass by the ditch where Janie is You run very fast and look at the other side. Jude says Janie did love me only she couldn't forgive me, and that you can love people very much and never, never, never forgive them…. so we poked a stick in the bottle-green water. But only weeds came up and an old top with the paint washed off.


Jude and I
wave to the new moon
curled right up like one gold hair
on the bald-head sandhill.
Mama peeps out the window and smiles.
She thinks
I am playing with myself…
Run, Jude, run with the wind—
but hold my hand tight
or the wind,
looking for some one to play with,
will take me away from you!
Wind with no one to play with
cooees the orange-trees—
stay-at-home orange trees,
have to nurse oranges,
greeny-gold.
Wind shouts to the grass—
run-away-grass
tugs at its roots,
but the earth holds tight
and the grass falls down
and wind boos over it.
Wind whistles the bees—
bees too busy
with taking home stuff out of flowers
won't look back
bees always going somewhere.
Only Jude and I
heads over shoulders
watching all roads at one time
run with the wind,
going to nowhere.


Jude and I
were weeding our garden
when we heard his whip—
must have been a new whip
to cut off dandelion-heads at one swing….
He was the kind of boy you knew when you had Celia….
with nice clothes on and curls
crawling about his collar
like little golden slugs,
and his man was leading his horse.
I wish I hadn't run to meet him….
If you hadn't run to meet him
he mightn't have trod on your garden and said:
Get out of my field you dirty little beggar…
he mightn't have struck you with his whip….
How the daisies stared….
I hate daisies—
stupid white faces—
skinny necks
craning over the grass!
I said It is not your field,
and he struck me again.
But he didn't make me run.
His hand
smelled of sweet soap…
he couldn't shake me off,
but his man did….
Funny—how the sky fell down
and turned over and over
like a blue carpet rolling you up,
and the grass caught at your face—
it couldn't have been spiteful—
it must have been saving itself.
Hot road… silly wind playing with your hair….
The road smelled of horses.
I only got up
when I heard a dray.


Mama has sung ba ba black sheep,
and put a chair with a cloth on it
between me and the light.
But the clock keeps saying:
Dirty little beggar,
dirty little beggar….
Some day
I will get that boy.
I will pull off his arms and legs
and put him in a box
and hide the box
under the bed….
I wonder
will he buzz
when I take him out to look at his body
that will have no arms to whip me?
Mama drew my cot to the window
so I can look at the stars.
I will not look at the stars.
There is a black chimney
throwing up sparks
and one tall flame
like gold hair in a blaze….
I know now
what I shall do….
I will set fire to him
and he will burn up into a tall flame—
he will scream into the sky
and sparks will fly out of him
he will burn and burn…
and his blazing hair
shall light up the world.


Before he hit me— I knew he was going toI thought about Jude…. I thought if he'd fight… but he shriveled all uphe lay down like a fear.

Mama never knew about Jude. You always wanted to tell her, but somehow you never did. You were afraid she'd smile and say he wasn't real— that he was only a little dream-boy, because the grass didn't fall down under his feet…. He is fading now…. He is just lines… like a drawing…. You can see mama in between. When she moves she rubs some of him out.

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The Parish Register - Part II: Marriages

DISPOSED to wed, e'en while you hasten, stay;
There's great advantage in a small delay:
Thus Ovid sang, and much the wise approve
This prudent maxim of the priest of Love;
If poor, delay for future want prepares,
And eases humble life of half its cares;
If rich, delay shall brace the thoughtful mind,
T'endure the ills that e'en the happiest find:
Delay shall knowledge yield on either part,
And show the value of the vanquish'd heart;
The humours, passions, merits, failings prove,
And gently raise the veil that's worn by Love;
Love, that impatient guide!--too proud to think
Of vulgar wants, of clothing, meat, and drink,
Urges our amorous swains their joys to seize,
And then, at rags and hunger frighten'd, flees:
Yet not too long in cold debate remain;
Till age refrain not--but if old, refrain.
By no such rule would Gaffer Kirk be tried;
First in the year he led a blooming bride,
And stood a wither'd elder at her side.
Oh! Nathan! Nathan! at thy years trepann'd,
To take a wanton harlot by the hand!
Thou, who wert used so tartly to express
Thy sense of matrimonial happiness,
Till every youth, whose banns at church were read,
Strove not to meet, or meeting, hung his head;
And every lass forebore at thee to look,
A sly old fish, too cunning for the hook;
And now at sixty, that pert dame to see,
Of all thy savings mistress, and of thee;
Now will the lads, rememb'ring insults past,
Cry, 'What, the wise one in the trap at last!'
Fie! Nathan! fie! to let an artful jade
The close recesses of thine heart invade;
What grievous pangs! what suffering she'll impart!
And fill with anguish that rebellious heart;
For thou wilt strive incessantly, in vain,
By threatening speech thy freedom to regain:
But she for conquest married, nor will prove
A dupe to thee, thine anger or thy love;
Clamorous her tongue will be: --of either sex,
She'll gather friends around thee and perplex
Thy doubtful soul;--thy money she will waste
In the vain ramblings of a vulgar taste;
And will be happy to exert her power,
In every eye, in thine, at every hour.
Then wilt thou bluster--'No! I will not rest,
And see consumed each shilling of my chest:'
Thou wilt be valiant--'When thy cousins call,
I will abuse and shut my door on all:'
Thou wilt be cruel!--'What the law allows,
That be thy portion, my ungrateful spouse!
Nor other shillings shalt thou then receive;
And when I die--What! may I this believe?
Are these true tender tears? and does my Kitty

grieve?
Ah! crafty vixen, thine old man has fears;
But weep no more! I'm melted by thy tears;
Spare but my money; thou shalt rule ME still,
And see thy cousins: --there! I burn the will.'
Thus, with example sad, our year began,
A wanton vixen and a weary man;
But had this tale in other guise been told,
Young let the lover be, the lady old,
And that disparity of years shall prove
No bane of peace, although some bar to love:
'Tis not the worst, our nuptial ties among,
That joins the ancient bride and bridegroom young;

-
Young wives, like changing winds, their power

display
By shifting points and varying day by day;
Now zephyrs mild, now whirlwinds in their force,
They sometimes speed, but often thwart our course;
And much experienced should that pilot be,
Who sails with them on life's tempestuous sea.
But like a trade-wind is the ancient dame,
Mild to your wish and every day the same;
Steady as time, no sudden squalls you fear,
But set full sail and with assurance steer;
Till every danger in your way be past,
And then she gently, mildly breathes her last;
Rich you arrive, in port awhile remain,
And for a second venture sail again.
For this, blithe Donald southward made his way,
And left the lasses on the banks of Tay;
Him to a neighbouring garden fortune sent,
Whom we beheld, aspiringly content:
Patient and mild he sought the dame to please,
Who ruled the kitchen and who bore the keys.
Fair Lucy first, the laundry's grace and pride,
With smiles and gracious looks, her fortune tried;
But all in vain she praised his 'pawky eyne,'
Where never fondness was for Lucy seen:
Him the mild Susan, boast of dairies, loved,
And found him civil, cautious, and unmoved:
From many a fragrant simple, Catherine's skill
Drew oil and essence from the boiling still;
But not her warmth, nor all her winning ways,
From his cool phlegm could Donald's spirit raise:
Of beauty heedless, with the merry mute,
To Mistress Dobson he preferr'd his suit;
There proved his service, there address'd his vows,
And saw her mistress,--friend,--protectress,--

spouse;
A butler now, he thanks his powerful bride,
And, like her keys, keeps constant at her side.
Next at our altar stood a luckless pair,
Brought by strong passions and a warrant there;
By long rent cloak, hung loosely, strove the bride,
From every eye, what all perceived, to hide,
While the boy-bridegroom, shuffling in his pace,
Now hid awhile and then exposed his face;
As shame alternately with anger strove,
The brain confused with muddy ale, to move
In haste and stammering he perform'd his part,
And look'd the rage that rankled in his heart;
(So will each lover inly curse his fate,
Too soon made happy and made wise too late
I saw his features take a savage gloom,
And deeply threaten for the days to come.
Low spake the lass, and lisp'd and minced the

while,
Look'd on the lad, and faintly tried to smile;
With soften'd speech and humbled tone she strove
To stir the embers of departed love:
While he, a tyrant, frowning walk'd before,
Felt the poor purse, and sought the public door,
She sadly following, in submission went,
And saw the final shilling foully spent;
Then to her father's hut the pair withdrew,
And bade to love and comfort long adieu!
Ah! fly temptation, youth, refrain! refrain!
I preach for ever; but I preach in vain!
Two summers since, I saw at Lammas Fair
The sweetest flower that ever blossom'd there,
When Phoebe Dawson gaily cross'd the Green,
In haste to see, and happy to be seen:
Her air, her manners, all who saw admired;
Courteous though coy, and gentle though retired;
The joy of youth and health her eyes display'd,
And ease of heart her every look convey'd;
A native skill her simple robes express'd,
As with untutor'd elegance she dress'd;
The lads around admired so fair a sight,
And Phoebe felt, and felt she gave, delight.
Admirers soon of every age she gain'd,
Her beauty won them and her worth retain'd;
Envy itself could no contempt display,
They wish'd her well, whom yet they wish'd away.
Correct in thought, she judged a servant's place
Preserved a rustic beauty from disgrace;
But yet on Sunday-eve, in freedom's hour,
With secret joy she felt that beauty's power,
When some proud bliss upon the heart would steal,
That, poor or rich, a beauty still must feel.
At length the youth ordain'd to move her breast,
Before the swains with bolder spirit press'd;
With looks less timid made his passion known,
And pleased by manners most unlike her own;
Loud though in love, and confident though young;
Fierce in his air, and voluble of tongue;
By trade a tailor, though, in scorn of trade,
He served the 'Squire, and brush'd the coat he

made.
Yet now, would Phoebe her consent afford,
Her slave alone, again he'd mount the board;
With her should years of growing love be spent,
And growing wealth;--she sigh'd and look'd consent.
Now, through the lane, up hill, and 'cross the

green:
(Seen by but few, and blushing to be seen -
Dejected, thoughtful, anxious, and afraid,)
Led by the lover, walk'd the silent maid;
Slow through the meadows roved they, many a mile,
Toy'd by each bank, and trifled at each stile;
Where, as he painted every blissful view,
And highly colour'd what he strongly drew,
The pensive damsel, prone to tender fears,
Dimm'd the false prospect with prophetic tears.-
Thus pass'd th' allotted hours, till lingering

late,
The lover loiter'd at the master's gate;
There he pronounced adieu! and yet would stay,
Till chidden--soothed--entreated--forced away;
He would of coldness, though indulged, complain,
And oft retire, and oft return again;
When, if his teasing vex'd her gentle mind,
The grief assumed compell'd her to be kind!
For he would proof of plighted kindness crave,
That she resented first, and then forgave;
And to his grief and penance yielded more
Than his presumption had required before.
Ah! fly temptation, youth; refrain! refrain!
Each yielding maid and each presuming swain!
Lo! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black,
And torn green gown loose hanging at her back,
One who an infant in her arms sustains,
And seems in patience striving with her pains;
Pinch'd are her looks, as one who pines for bread,
Whose cares are growing--and whose hopes are fled;
Pale her parch'd lips, her heavy eyes sunk low,
And tears unnoticed from their channels flow;
Serene her manner, till some sudden pain
Frets the meek soul, and then she's calm again; -
Her broken pitcher to the pool she takes,
And every step with cautious terror makes;
For not alone that infant in her arms,
But nearer cause, her anxious soul alarms.
With water burthen'd, then she picks her way,
Slowly and cautious, in the clinging clay;
Till, in mid-green, she trusts a place unsound,
And deeply plunges in th' adhesive ground;
Thence, but with pain, her slender foot she takes,
While hope the mind as strength the frame forsakes;
For when so full the cup of sorrow grows,
Add but a drop, it instantly o'erflows.
And now her path, but not her peace, she gains,
Safe from her task, but shivering with her pains;
Her home she reaches, open leaves the door,
And placing first her infant on the floor,
She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits,
And sobbing struggles with the rising fits:
In vain they come, she feels the inflating grief,
That shuts the swelling bosom from relief;
That speaks in feeble cries a soul distress'd,
Or the sad laugh that cannot be repress'd.
The neighbour-matron leaves her wheel and flies
With all the aid her poverty supplies;
Unfee'd, the calls of Nature she obeys,
Not led by profit, not allur'd by praise,
And waiting long, till these contentions cease,
She speaks of comfort, and departs in peace.
Friend of distress! the mourner feels thy aid;
She cannot pay thee, but thou wilt be paid.
But who this child of weakness, want, and care?
'Tis Phoebe Dawson, pride of Lammas Fair;
Who took her lover for his sparkling eyes,
Expressions warm, and love-inspiring lies:
Compassion first assail'd her gentle heart,
For all his suffering, all his bosom's smart:
'And then his prayers! they would a savage move,
And win the coldest of the sex to love:' -
But ah! too soon his looks success declared,
Too late her loss the marriage-rite repair'd;
The faithless flatterer then his vows forgot,
A captious tyrant or a noisy sot:
If present, railing, till he saw her pain'd;
If absent, spending what their labours gain'd;
Till that fair form in want and sickness pined,
And hope and comfort fled that gentle mind.
Then fly temptation, youth; resist, refrain!
Nor let me preach for ever and in vain!
Next came a well-dress'd pair, who left their

coach,
And made, in long procession, slow approach;
For this gay bride had many a female friend,
And youths were there, this favour'd youth

t'attend:
Silent, nor wanting due respect, the crowd
Stood humbly round, and gratulation bow'd;
But not that silent crowd, in wonder fix'd,
Not numerous friends, who praise and envy mix'd,
Nor nymphs attending near to swell the pride
Of one more fair, the ever-smiling bride;
Nor that gay bride, adorn'd with every grace,
Nor love nor joy triumphant in her face,
Could from the youth's sad signs of sorrow chase:
Why didst thou grieve? wealth, pleasure, freedom

thine;
Vex'd it thy soul, that freedom to resign?
Spake Scandal truth? 'Thou didst not then intend
So soon to bring thy wooing to an end?'
Or, was it, as our prating rustics say,
To end as soon, but in a different way?
'Tis told thy Phillis is a skilful dame,
Who play'd uninjured with the dangerous flame;
That, while, like Lovelace, thou thy coat

display'd,
And hid the snare for her affection laid,
Thee, with her net, she found the means to catch,
And at the amorous see-saw won the match:
Yet others tell, the Captain fix'd thy doubt;
He'd call thee brother, or he'd call thee out: -
But rest the motive--all retreat too late,
Joy like thy bride's should on thy brow have sate;
The deed had then appear'd thine own intent,
A glorious day, by gracious fortune sent,
In each revolving year to be in triumph spent.
Then in few weeks that cloudy brow had been
Without a wonder or a whisper seen;
And none had been so weak as to inquire,
'Why pouts my Lady?' or 'Why frowns the Squire?'
How fair these names, how much unlike they look
To all the blurr'd subscriptions in my book:
The bridegroom's letters stand in row above,
Tapering yet stout, like pine-trees in his grove;
While free and fine the bride's appear below,
As light and slender as her jasmines grow.
Mark now in what confusion stoop or stand
The crooked scrawls of many a clownish hand;
Now out, now in, they droop, they fall, they rise,
Like raw recruits drawn forth for exercise;
Ere yet reform'd and modelled by the drill,
The free-born legs stand striding as they will.
Much have I tried to guide the fist along,
But still the blunderers placed their blottings

wrong:
Behold these marks uncouth! how strange that men
Who guide the plough should fail to guide the pen:
For half a mile the furrows even lie;
For half an inch the letters stand awry; -
Our peasants, strong and sturdy in the field,
Cannot these arms of idle students wield:
Like them, in feudal days, their valiant lords
Resign'd the pen and grasp'd their conqu'ring

swords;
They to robed clerks and poor dependent men
Left the light duties of the peaceful pen;
Nor to their ladies wrote, but sought to prove,
By deeds of death, their hearts were fill'd with

love.
But yet, small arts have charms for female eyes;
Our rustic nymphs the beau and scholar prize;
Unletter'd swains and ploughmen coarse they slight,
For those who dress, and amorous scrolls indite.
For Lucy Collins happier days had been,
Had Footman Daniel scorn'd his native green,
Or when he came an idle coxcomb down,
Had he his love reserved for lass in town;
To Stephen Hill she then had pledged her truth, -
A sturdy, sober, kind, unpolish'd youth:
But from the day, that fatal day she spied
The pride of Daniel, Daniel was her pride.
In all concerns was Stephen just and true;
But coarse his doublet was and patch'd in view,
And felt his stockings were, and blacker than his

shoe;
While Daniel's linen all was fine and fair, -
His master wore it, and he deign'd to wear:
(To wear his livery, some respect might prove;
To wear his linen, must be sign of love
Blue was his coat, unsoil'd by spot or stain;
His hose were silk, his shoes of Spanish grain;
A silver knot his breadth of shoulder bore;
A diamond buckle blazed his breast before -
Diamond he swore it was! and show'd it as he swore;
Rings on his fingers shone; his milk-white hand
Could pick-tooth case and box for snuff command:
And thus, with clouded cane, a fop complete,
He stalk'd, the jest and glory of the street,
Join'd with these powers, he could so sweetly sing,
Talk with such toss, and saunter with such swing;
Laugh with such glee, and trifle with such art,
That Lucy's promise fail'd to shield her heart.
Stephen, meantime, to ease his amorous cares,
Fix'd his full mind upon his farm's affairs;
Two pigs, a cow, and wethers half a score,
Increased his stock, and still he look'd for more.
He, for his acres few, so duly paid,
That yet more acres to his lot were laid:
Till our chaste nymphs no longer felt disdain,
And prudent matrons praised the frugal swain;
Who thriving well, through many a fruitful year,
Now clothed himself anew, and acted overseer.
Just then poor Lucy, from her friend in town
Fled in pure fear, and came a beggar down;
Trembling, at Stephen's door she knocked for bread,

-
Was chidden first, next pitied, and then fed;
Then sat at Stephen's board, then shared in

Stephen's bed:
All hope of marriage lost in her disgrace,
He mourns a flame revived, and she a love of lace.
Now to be wed a well-match'd couple came;
Twice had old Lodge been tied, and twice the dame;
Tottering they came and toying, (odious scene!)
And fond and simple, as they'd always been.
Children from wedlock we by laws restrain;
Why not prevent them when they're such again?
Why not forbid the doting souls to prove
Th' indecent fondling of preposterous love?
In spite of prudence, uncontroll'd by shame,
The amorous senior woos the toothless dame,
Relating idly, at the closing eve,
The youthful follies he disdains to leave;
Till youthful follies wake a transient fire,
When arm in arm they totter and retire.
So a fond pair of solemn birds, all day
Blink in their seat and doze the hours away;
Then by the moon awaken'd, forth they move,
And fright the songsters with their cheerless love;
So two sear trees, dry, stunted, and unsound,
Each other catch, when dropping to the ground:
Entwine their withered arms 'gainst wind and

weather,
And shake their leafless heads and drop together:
So two cold limbs, touch'd by Galvani's wire,
Move with new life, and feel awaken'd fire;
Quivering awhile, their flaccid forms remain,
Then turn to cold torpidity again.
'But ever frowns your Hymen? man and maid,
Are all repenting, suffering, or betray'd?'
Forbid it, Love! we have our couples here
Who hail the day in each revolving year:
These are with us, as in the world around;
They are not frequent, but they may be found.
Our farmers too, what though they fail to prove,
In Hymen's bonds, the tenderest slaves of love,
(Nor, like those pairs whom sentiment unites,
Feel they the fervour of the mind's delights
Yet coarsely kind and comfortably gay,
They heap the board and hail the happy day:
And though the bride, now freed from school,

admits,
Of pride implanted there, some transient fits;
Yet soon she casts her girlish flights aside,
And in substantial blessings rest her pride.
No more she moves in measured steps; no more
Runs, with bewilder'd ear, her music o'er;
No more recites her French the hinds among,
But chides her maidens in her mother-tongue;
Her tambour-frame she leaves and diet spare,
Plain work and plenty with her house to share;
Till, all her varnish lost in few short years,
In all her worth the farmer's wife appears.
Yet not the ancient kind; nor she who gave
Her soul to gain--a mistress and a slave:
Who, not to sleep allow'd the needful time;
To whom repose was loss, and sport a crime;
Who, in her meanest room (and all were mean),
A noisy drudge, from morn till night was seen; -
But she, the daughter, boasts a decent room,
Adorned with carpet, formed in Wilton's loom;
Fair prints along the paper'd wall are spread;
There, Werter sees the sportive children fed,
And Charlotte, here, bewails her lover dead.
'Tis here, assembled, while in space apart
Their husbands, drinking, warm the opening heart,
Our neighbouring dames, on festal days, unite,
With tongues more fluent and with hearts as light;
Theirs is that art, which English wives alone
Profess--a boast and privilege their own;
An art it is where each at once attends
To all, and claims attention from her friends,
When they engage the tongue, the eye, the ear,
Reply when listening, and when speaking hear:
The ready converse knows no dull delays,
'But double are the pains, and double be the

praise.'
Yet not to those alone who bear command
Heaven gives a heart to hail the marriage band;
Among their servants, we the pairs can show,
Who much to love and more to prudence owe:
Reuben and Rachel, though as fond as doves,
Were yet discreet and cautious in their loves;
Nor would attend to Cupid's wild commands,
Till cool reflection bade them join their hands:
When both were poor, they thought it argued ill
Of hasty love to make them poorer still;
Year after year, with savings long laid by,
They bought the future dwelling's full supply;
Her frugal fancy cull'd the smaller ware,
The weightier purchase ask'd her Reuben's care;
Together then their last year's gain they threw,
And lo! an auction'd bed, with curtains neat and

new.
Thus both, as prudence counsell'd, wisely

stay'd,
And cheerful then the calls of Love obeyed:
What if, when Rachel gave her hand, 'twas one
Embrown'd by Winter's ice and Summer's sun ?
What if, in Reuben's hair the female eye
Usurping grey among the black could spy?
What if, in both, life's bloomy flush was lost,
And their full autumn felt the mellowing frost?
Yet time, who blow'd the rose of youth away,
Had left the vigorous stem without decay;
Like those tall elms in Farmer Frankford's ground,
They'll grow no more,--but all their growth is

sound;
By time confirm'd and rooted in the land,
The storms they've stood, still promise they shall

stand.
These are the happier pairs, their life has

rest,
Their hopes are strong, their humble portion blest.
While those more rash to hasty marriage led,
Lament th' impatience which now stints their bread:
When such their union, years their cares increase,
Their love grows colder, and their pleasures cease;
In health just fed, in sickness just relieved;
By hardships harass'd and by children grieved;
In petty quarrels and in peevish strife
The once fond couple waste the spring of life;
But when to age mature those children grown,
Find hopes and homes and hardships of their own,
The harass'd couple feel their lingering woes
Receding slowly till they find repose.
Complaints and murmurs then are laid aside,
(By reason these subdued, and those by pride
And, taught by care, the patient man and wife
Agree to share the bitter-sweet of life;
(Life that has sorrow much and sorrow's cure,
Where they who most enjoy shall much endure
Their rest, their labours, duties, sufferings,

prayers,
Compose the soul, and fit it for its cares;
Their graves before them and their griefs behind,
Have each a med'cine for the rustic mind;
Nor has he care to whom his wealth shall go,
Or who shall labour with his spade and hoe;
But as he lends the strength that yet remains,
And some dead neighbour on his bier sustains,
(One with whom oft he whirl'd the bounding flail,
Toss'd the broad coit, or took the inspiring ale,)
'For me,' (he meditates,) 'shall soon be done
This friendly duty, when my race be run;
'Twas first in trouble as in error pass'd,
Dark clouds and stormy cares whole years o'ercast,
But calm my setting day, and sunshine smiles at

last:
My vices punish'd and my follies spent,
Not loth to die, but yet to-live content,
I rest:'--then casting on the grave his eye,
His friend compels a tear, and his own griefs a

sigh.
Last on my list appears a match of love,
And one of virtue;--happy may it prove! -
Sir Edward Archer is an amorous knight,
And maidens chaste and lovely shun his sight;
His bailiff's daughter suited much his taste,
For Fanny Price was lovely and was chaste;
To her the Knight with gentle looks drew near,
And timid voice assumed to banish fear: -
'Hope of my life, dear sovereign of my breast,
Which, since I knew thee, knows not joy nor rest;
Know, thou art all that my delighted eyes,
My fondest thoughts, my proudest wishes prize;
And is that bosom--(what on earth so fair!)
To cradle some coarse peasant's sprawling heir,
To be that pillow which some surly swain
May treat with scorn and agonise with pain?
Art thou, sweet maid, a ploughman's wants to share,
To dread his insult, to support his care;
To hear his follies, his contempt to prove,
And (oh! the torment!) to endure his love;
Till want and deep regret those charms destroy,
That time would spare, if time were pass'd in joy?
With him, in varied pains, from morn till night,
Your hours shall pass; yourself a ruffian's right;
Your softest bed shall be the knotted wool;
Your purest drink the waters of the pool;
Your sweetest food will but your life sustain,
And your best pleasure be a rest from pain;
While, through each year, as health and strength

abate,
You'll weep your woes and wonder at your fate;
And cry, 'Behold,' as life's last cares come on,
'My burthens growing when my strength is gone.'
'Now turn with me, and all the young desire,
That taste can form, that fancy can require;
All that excites enjoyment, or procures
Wealth, health, respect, delight, and love, are

yours:
Sparkling, in cups of gold, your wines shall flow,
Grace that fair hand, in that dear bosom glow;
Fruits of each clime, and flowers, through all the

year
Shall on your walls and in your walks appear:
Where all beholding, shall your praise repeat,
No fruit so tempting and no flower so sweet:
The softest carpets in your rooms shall lie,
Pictures of happiest love shall meet your eye,
And tallest mirrors, reaching to the floor,
Shall show you all the object I adore;
Who, by the hands of wealth and fashion dress'd,
By slaves attended and by friends caress'd,
Shall move, a wonder, through the public ways,
And hear the whispers of adoring praise.
Your female friends, though gayest of the gay,
Shall see you happy, and shall, sighing, say,
While smother'd envy rises in the breast, -
'Oh! that we lived so beauteous and so blest!'
'Come, then, my mistress, and my wife; for she
Who trusts my honour is the wife for me;
Your slave, your husband, and your friend employ
In search of pleasures we may both enjoy.'
To this the Damsel, meekly firm, replied:
'My mother loved, was married, toil'd, and died;
With joys she'd griefs, had troubles in her course,
But not one grief was pointed by remorse:
My mind is fix'd, to Heaven I resign,
And be her love, her life, her comforts mine.'
Tyrants have wept; and those with hearts of

steel,
Unused the anguish of the heart to heal,
Have yet the transient power of virtue known,
And felt th' imparted joy promote their own.
Our Knight relenting, now befriends a youth,
Who to the yielding maid had vow'd his truth;
And finds in that fair deed a sacred joy,
That will not perish, and that cannot cloy; -
A living joy, that shall its spirits keep,
When every beauty fades, and all the passions

sleep.

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