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Theophile Being Deny'd His Addresses To King James, Turned The Affront To His Own Glory In This Epigram


Si Jaques, le Roy du scavior,
Ne trouue bon de me voir,
Voila la cause infallible!
Car, ravy de mon escrit,
Il creut, que j'estois tout esprit
Et par consequent invisible.


If James, the king of wit,
To see me thought not fit,
Sure this the cause hath been,
That, ravish'd with my merit,
He thought I was all spirit,
And so not to be seen.

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Theophile Being Deny'd His Addresses To King James, Turned


Si Jaques, le Roy du scavior,
Ne trouue bon de me voir,
Voila la cause infallible!
Car, ravy de mon escrit,
Il creut, que j'estois tout esprit
Et par consequent invisible.


If James, the king of wit,
To see me thought not fit,
Sure this the cause hath been,
That, ravish'd with my merit,
He thought I was all spirit,
And so not to be seen.

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A Rhapsody Of A Southern Winter Night

Oh! dost thou flatter falsely, Hope?
The day hath scarcely passed that saw thy birth,
Yet thy white wings are plumed to all their scope,
And hour by hour thine eyes have gathered light,
And grown so large and bright,
That my whole future life unfolds what seems,
Beneath their gentle beams,
A path that leads athwart some guiltless earth,
To which a star is dropping from the night!

Not many moons ago,
But when these leafless beds were all aglow
With summer's dearest treasures, I
Was reading in this lonely garden-nook;
A July noon was cloudless in the sky,
And soon I put my shallow studies by;
Then, sick at heart, and angered by the book,
Which, in good sooth, was but the long-drawn sigh
Of some one who had quarreled with his kind,
Vexed at the very proofs which I had sought,
And all annoyed while all alert to find
A plausible likeness of my own dark thought,
I cast me down beneath yon oak's wide boughs,
And, shielding with both hands my throbbing brows,
Watched lazily the shadows of my brain.
The feeble tide of peevishness went down,
And left a flat dull waste of dreary pain,
Which seemed to clog the blood in every vein;
The world, of course, put on its darkest frown --
In all its realms I saw no mortal crown
Which did not wound or crush some restless head;
And hope, and will, and motive, all were dead.
So, passive as a stone, I felt too low
To claim a kindred with the humblest flower;
Even that would bare its bosom to a shower,
While I henceforth would take no pains to live,
Nor place myself where I might feel or give
A single impulse whence a wish could grow.
There was a tulip scarce a gossamer's throw
Beyond that platanus. A little child,
Most dear to me, looked through the fence and smiled
A hint that I should pluck it for her sake.
Ah, me! I trust I was not well awake --
The voice was very sweet,
Yet a faint languor kept me in my seat.
I saw a pouted lip, a toss, and heard
Some low expostulating tones, but stirred
Not even a leaf's length, till the pretty fay,
Wondering, and half abashed at the wild feat,
Climbed the low pales, and laughed my gloom away.
And here again, but led by other powers,
A morning and a golden afternoon,
These happy stars, and yonder setting moon,
Have seen me speed, unreckoned and untasked,
A round of precious hours.
Oh! here, where in that summer noon I basked,
And strove, with logic frailer than the flowers,
To justify a life of sensuous rest,
A question dear as home or heaven was asked,
And without language answered. I was blest!
Blest with those nameless boons too sweet to trust
Unto the telltale confidence of song.
Love to his own glad self is sometimes coy,
And even thus much doth seem to do him wrong;
While in the fears which chasten mortal joy,
Is one that shuts the lips, lest speech too free,
With the cold touch of hard reality,
Should turn its priceless jewels into dust.
Since that long kiss which closed the morning's talk,
I have not strayed beyond this garden walk.
As yet a vague delight is all I know,
A sense of joy so wild 't is almost pain,
And like a trouble drives me to and fro,
And will not pause to count its own sweet gain.
I am so happy! that is all my thought.
To-morrow I will turn it round and round,
And seek to know its limits and its ground.
To-morrow I will task my heart to learn
The duties which shall spring from such a seed,
And where it must be sown, and how be wrought.
But oh! this reckless bliss is bliss indeed!
And for one day I choose to seal the urn
Wherein is shrined Love's missal and his creed.
Meantime I give my fancy all it craves;
Like him who found the West when first he caught
The light that glittered from the world he sought,
And furled his sails till Dawn should show the land;
While in glad dreams he saw the ambient waves
Go rippling brightly up a golden strand.

Hath there not been a softer breath at play
In the long woodland aisles than often sweeps
At this rough season through their solemn deeps --
A gentle Ariel sent by gentle May,
Who knew it was the morn
On which a hope was born,
To greet the flower e'er it was fully blown,
And nurse it as some lily of her own?
And wherefore, save to grace a happy day,
Did the whole West at blushing sunset glow
With clouds that, floating up in bridal snow,
Passed with the festal eve, rose-crowned, away?
And now, if I may trust my straining sight,
The heavens appear with added stars to-night,
And deeper depths, and more celestial height,
Than hath been reached except in dreams or death.
Hush, sweetest South! I love thy delicate breath;
But hush! methought I felt an angel's kiss!
Oh! all that lives is happy in my bliss.
That lonely fir, which always seems
As though it locked dark secrets in itself,
Hideth a gentle elf,
Whose wand shall send me soon a frolic troop
Of rainbow visions, and of moonlit dreams.
Can joy be weary, that my eyelids droop?
To-night I shall not seek my curtained nest,
But even here find rest.
Who whispered then? And what are they that peep
Betwixt the foliage in the tree-top there?
Come, Fairy Shadows! for the morn is near,
When to your sombre pine ye all must creep;
Come, ye wild pilots of the darkness, ere
My spirit sinks into the gulf of Sleep;
Even now it circles round and round the deep --
Appear! Appear!

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The delectable ballad of the waller lot

Up yonder in Buena Park
There is a famous spot,
In legend and in history
Yclept the Waller Lot.

There children play in daytime
And lovers stroll by dark,
For 't is the goodliest trysting-place
In all Buena Park.

Once on a time that beauteous maid,
Sweet little Sissy Knott,
Took out her pretty doll to walk
Within the Waller Lot.

While thus she fared, from Ravenswood
Came Injuns o'er the plain,
And seized upon that beauteous maid
And rent her doll in twain.

Oh, 't was a piteous thing to hear
Her lamentations wild;
She tore her golden curls and cried:
"My child! My child! My child!"

Alas, what cared those Injun chiefs
How bitterly wailed she?
They never had been mothers,
And they could not hope to be!

"Have done with tears," they rudely quoth,
And then they bound her hands;
For they proposed to take her off
To distant border lands.

But, joy! from Mr. Eddy's barn
Doth Willie Clow behold
The sight that makes his hair rise up
And all his blood run cold.

He put his fingers in his mouth
And whistled long and clear,
And presently a goodly horde
Of cow-boys did appear.

Cried Willie Clow: "My comrades bold,
Haste to the Waller Lot,
And rescue from that Injun band
Our charming Sissy Knott!"

"Spare neither Injun buck nor squaw,
But smite them hide and hair!
Spare neither sex nor age nor size,
And no condition spare!"

Then sped that cow-boy band away,
Full of revengeful wrath,
And Kendall Evans rode ahead
Upon a hickory lath.

And next came gallant Dady Field
And Willie's brother Kent,
The Eddy boys and Robbie James,
On murderous purpose bent.

For they were much beholden to
That maid - in sooth, the lot
Were very, very much in love
With charming Sissy Knott.

What wonder? She was beauty's queen,
And good beyond compare;
Moreover, it was known she was
Her wealthy father's heir!

Now when the Injuns saw that band
They trembled with affright,
And yet they thought the cheapest thing
To do was stay and fight.

So sturdily they stood their ground,
Nor would their prisoner yield,
Despite the wrath of Willie Clow
And gallant Dady Field.

Oh, never fiercer battle raged
Upon the Waller Lot,
And never blood more freely flowed
Than flowed for Sissy Knott!

An Injun chief of monstrous size
Got Kendall Evans down,
And Robbie James was soon o'erthrown
By one of great renown.

And Dady Field was sorely done,
And Willie Clow was hurt,
And all that gallant cow-boy band
Lay wallowing in the dirt.

But still they strove with might and main
Till all the Waller Lot
Was strewn with hair and gouts of gore -
All, all for Sissy Knott!

Then cried the maiden in despair:
"Alas, I sadly fear
The battle and my hopes are lost,
Unless some help appear!"

Lo, as she spoke, she saw afar
The rescuer looming up -
The pride of all Buena Park,
Clow's famous yellow pup!

"Now, sick'em, Don," the maiden cried,
"Now, sick'em, Don!" cried she;
Obedient Don at once complied -
As ordered, so did he.

He sicked'em all so passing well
That, overcome by fright,
The Indian horde gave up the fray
And safety sought in flight.

They ran and ran and ran and ran
O'er valley, plain, and hill;
And if they are not walking now,
Why, then, they're running still.

The cow-boys rose up from the dust
With faces black and blue;
"Remember, beauteous maid," said they,
"We've bled and died for you!"

"And though we suffer grievously,
We gladly hail the lot
That brings us toils and pains and wounds
For charming Sissy Knott!"

But Sissy Knott still wailed and wept,
And still her fate reviled;
For who could patch her dolly up -
Who, who could mend her child?

Then out her doting mother came,
And soothed her daughter then;
"Grieve not, my darling, I will sew
Your dolly up again!"

Joy soon succeeded unto grief,
And tears were soon dried up,
And dignities were heaped upon
Clow's noble yellow pup.

Him all that goodly company
Did as deliverer hail -
They tied a ribbon round his neck,
Another round his tail.

And every anniversary day
Upon the Waller Lot
They celebrate the victory won
For charming Sissy Knott.

And I, the poet of these folk,
Am ordered to compile
This truly famous history
In good old ballad style.

Which having done as to have earned
The sweet rewards of fame,
In what same style I did begin
I now shall end the same.

So let us sing: Long live the King,
Long live the Queen and Jack,
Long live the ten-spot and the ace,
And also all the pack.

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The Flag Issue at Parkhead in the Fifties

In Scotland in the fifties,
In football terms,
Protest was a blaze
From the grumpy old chairmen,
They took to a cause
That never since has died;
The flying of Ireland’s flag
Over Parkhead’s sky.

So bold Robert Kelly,
Born to Celtic’s dynasty,
Acted upon his heart
And wrote himself into history,
He sat at his desk
With pen in hand,
And wrote a letter, for a favour,
From the Irish PM.

“Dear Mr.DeValera,
How have you been?
Have you been reading the results
Of the bhoys in green?
Our attendance at Parkhead
Improves with every game,
I just wish our football
Would improve the same.”

I have a small plea,
In this letter I ask,
As Celtic’s being condemned
For flying Ireland’s flag,
We’re proud of the fathers
Who built this club,
Proud of our heritage
As Ireland’s sons.”

“Ireland’s flag,
We’ll never take down,
But protest galore
May be reaching the crown,
So the teams in Scotland
Have gathered as a unit,
And turned the flag issue
Into a game of politics.”

I took a walk around Parkhead,
It was a sunny day,
And noticed our flag of old,
Is starting to fray,
To the establishment of football,
I would just love to brag,
Can Ireland, our brother,
Deliver Celtic a new flag? ”

The letter was stamped
And mailed to Dublin,
By special delivery
Not carrier pigeon,
And DeValera, in the penmanship
Of Yeats’ ghost,
Wrote, “No problem, son,
It’s in the post.”

Oct'25th 2003

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The Fool Rings His Bells

Come, Death, I'd have a word with thee;
And thou, poor Innocency;
And Love -- a lad with broken wing;
Apnd Pity, too;
The Fool shall sing to you,
As Fools will sing.

Ay, music hath small sense,
And a tune's soon told,
And Earth is old,
And my poor wits are dense;
Yet have I secrets, -- dar, my dear,
To breathe you all: Come near.
And lest some hideous listener tells,
I'll ring my bells.

They're all at war!
Yes, yes, their bodies go
'Neath burning sun and icy star
To chaunted songs of woe,
Dragging cold cannon through a mud
Of rain and blood;
The new moon glinting hard on eyes
Wide with insanities.

Hush! . . . I use words
I hardly know the meaning of;
And the mute birds
Are glancing at Love!
From out their shade of leaf and flower,
Trembling at treacheries
Which even in noonday cower.
Heed, heed not what I said
Of frenzied hosts of men,
More fools than I,
On envy, hatred fed,
Who kill, and die --
Spake I not plainly, then?
Yet Pity whispered, "Why?"

Thou silly thing, off to thy daisies go.
Mine was not news for child to know,
And Death -- no ears hath. He hath supped where creep
Eyeless worms in hush of sleep;
Yet, when he smiles, the hand he draws
Athwart his grinning jaws
Faintly their thin bones rattle, and . . . There, there;
Hearken how my bells in the air
Drive away care! . . .

Nay, but a dream I had
Of a world all mad.
Not a simple happy mad like me,
Who am mad like an empty scene
Of water and willow tree,
Where the wind hath been;
But that foul Satan-mad,
Who rots in his own head,
And counts the dead,
Not honest one -- and two --
But for the ghosts they were,
Brave, faithful, true,
When, heads in air,
In Earth's clear green and blue
Heaven they did share
With Beauty who bade them there. . . .

There, now! he goes --
Old Bones; I've wearied him.
Ay, and the light doth dim,
And asleep's the rose,
And tired Innocence
In dreams is hence. . .
Come, Love, my lad,
Nodding that drawsy head,
'T is time thy prayers were said!

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Need Not

I need not fear what you think of me.
I'm in no need of your disgraceful pity.
I feel your fear that I'm some creepy loon.
A man who's come to take you down to the tomb.

All I wanted was freindship maybe more.
If it's not what you wanted I'd step back from the door.
You told me you liked me, I knew what you meant.
A freind was all I said and
a freind I meant.

You treat me like I had steped over the bound.
When I laid clear just my curiosity I was looking and found.
To know and to show a freind both ways need.
You took it all wrong and false bile you did feed.

I need not fear what you are but I do.
You're a silly little thing that worships
celebrity fools.

I need not fear what you think,
it's just my little game.
Of self loathing and wonder,
of what I do that's to blame.

I need not fear a shallow one such as you.
You've shown the only one you think of is you.

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My Path (...Realized By His Own Hand)

Either you were deceiving yourself then,
Or you are now; which is more believable, when
You consider that your heart spoke all this time,
Until you allowed the deceit that now dwells in your weary mind?
Shame on you for all your deceit, and for placing blame here!
Take control of all your actions, and do not live in fear!
I have been threatened (idly) with bodily harm, -
Called a freak, and labeled crazy, etc., all because of the charm
With which you have allowed yourself and others to believe
All the lies and associated emotions your fragile mind can conceive!
This shall go on no more, and be allowed no longer;
For, the power of your delusional divergence is strong-but, I am stronger!
My Path was Ordained by God Himself, and Realized by His Own Hand,
It converges upon Your Path wholly, not by want or need, but by His Own Command!

-Maurice Harris,12 February 2012

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Adelaide Ironside

Knowest thou now, O Love! Oh pure from the death of thy summer of sweetness!
Seest thou now, O new-born Delight of the Ransomed and Free!
We have gathered the flower for the fruit; we have hastened the hour of thy meetness;
For thou wert sealed unto us, and thine Angel hath waited for thee.

Not in disdain, O Love! O Sweet! of desires that are earthly and mortal,
Not in the scorn of thine Art, whose beginning and end is Divine,
So soon have we borne thee asleep through the glow of the uttermost portal,
But in the ruth of high souls that have travelled with longings like thine.

Nothing is lost, O Love! O mine! and thy seemingly broken endeavour
Here re-appeareth, transfigured as thou; yet the Art of thy youth;
And the light of the Spirit of Beauty is on it for ever and ever;
For Art is the garment of Praise, and the broidered apparel of Truth.

Seest thou now, O Love! how Art, in a way to mortality nameless,
Liveth again, soul-informed, love-sustained, self-completing, for aye?
How thy heart's purpose was good, and the dream of thy maidenhood blameless,—
How thy fair dawn is fulfilled in the light of ineffable day?

Seest thou now, O Love! O Fair! how the high spiritlife is Art regnant—
Art become bliss, and harmonious response to the Infinite Will?
Fused and transfused into Love, with the germs of eternity pregnant—
Crowned as the law of the beauty of Holiness; throned, yet Art still?

Not then in vain, O Love! thy dawn, nor the dream of thy holy ambition;
Never a trace of thy finger hath witnessed for Beauty in vain;
In the bloom of the noon of thine ardour thy soul became fair for fruition;
We have smitten the green into gold but to spare thee the harvest of pain.

Nothing that came from thy hand, O Love, made void, cut off, evanescent,—
From the infantile essay that strove with the weapon of outline alone,
To the Angels thou lovedst to portray with luminous plumes iridescent,
Till thy soul drew so near unto us that we took thee for one of our own.

Now may'st thou trace, O Heart! Sweet Heart! from on high all the way I have led
From the youth of a world in the Seas of the South to unperishing Rome;
For the lure of thy following soul was the sheen of my wings that o'erspread thee,
Flushing with reflex of glory the path of thy pilgrimage—home.

By the way of the age of the world I have chosen to lead thee to glory;
Of the wine of the might of the world have I given thee to drink ere thou slept;
Where the Masters have walked I have laid thee, ensphered with the darlings of
I have waked thee a perfected spirit; matured, yet thine innocence kept.

There, too, I led thee to feed thee with prescience and keen imitation
Of the art-adjuvant Grace that hath given thee, a love-gift, to me;
By the work of my hands did I wake in thee foretaste of Transfiguration,—
For thine Angel once wrought upon earth as thou; and his work thou didst see.

Now is thy spirit, O Love, in mine. In thy heart I behold thou dost know me.
I looked for thy glad recognition; no converse of aliens is this;
Oft when thy longings went upward, thy soul, like a mirror below me,
Caught my own loveliest visions in shapes of Elysian bliss.

Name me not now, O Love! O mine! for the name of my days of wayfaring
Still hath the note of a fevered desire, and an echo of pain.
Come thou, O Gift of long hope, to the home of thine Angel's preparing!
There I shall show thee the mercy of God, and the things that remain.

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Edmund Spenser

The Shepheardes Calender: April

Tell me good Hobbinoll, what garres thee greete?
What? hath some Wolfe thy tender Lambes ytorne?
Or is thy Bagpype broke, that soundes so sweete?
Or art thou of thy loved lasse forlorne?

Or bene thine eyes attempred to the yeare,
Quenching the gasping furrowes thirst with rayne?
Like April shoure, so stremes the trickling teares
Adowne thy cheeke, to quenche thy thristye payne.

Nor thys, nor that, so muche doeth make me mourne,
But for the ladde, whome long I lovd so deare,
Nowe loves a lasse, that all his love doth scorne:
He plongd in payne, his tressed locks dooth teare.

Shepheards delights he dooth them all forsweare,
Hys pleasaunt Pipe, whych made us meriment,
He wylfully hath broke, and doth forbeare
His wonted songs, wherein he all outwent.

What is he for a Ladde, you so lament?
Ys love such pinching payne to them, that prove?
And hath he skill to make so excellent,
Yet hath so little skill to brydle love?

Colin thou kenst, the Southerne shepheardes boye:
Him Love hath wounded with a deadly darte.
Whilome on him was all my care and joye,
Forcing with gyfts to winne his wanton heart.

But now from me hys madding mynd is starte,
And woes the Widdowes daughter of the glenne:
So nowe fayre Rosalind hath bredde hys smart,
So now his frend is chaunged for a frenne.

But if hys ditties bene so trimly dight,
I pray thee Hobbinoll, recorde some one:
The whiles our flockes doe graze about in sight,
And we close shrowded in thys shade alone.

Contented I: then will I singe his laye
Of fayre Elisa, Queene of shepheardes all:
Which once he made, as by a spring he laye,
And tuned it unto the Waters fall.

Ye dayntye Nymphs, that in this blessed Brooke
doe bathe your brest,
Forsake your watry bowres, and hether looke,
at my request:
And eke you Virgins, that on Parnasse dwell,
Whence floweth Helicon the learned well,
Helpe me to blaze
Her worthy praise,
Which in her sexe doth all excell.

Of fayre Eliza be your silver song,
that blessed wight:
The flowre of Virgins, may shee florish long,
In princely plight.
For shee is Syrinx daughter without spotte,
Which Pan the shepheards God of her begot:
So sprong her grace
Of heavenly race,
No mortall blemishe may her blotte.

See, where she sits upon the grassie greene,
(O seemely sight)
Yclad in Scarlot like a mayden Queene,
And Ermines white.
Upon her head a Cremosin coronet,
With Damaske roses and Daffadillies set:
Bayleaves betweene,
And Primroses greene
Embellish the sweete Violet.

Tell me, have ye seene her angelick face,
Like Ph{oe}be fayre?
Her heavenly haveour, her princely grace
can you well compare?
The Redde rose medled with the White yfere,
In either cheeke depeincten lively chere.
Her modest eye,
Her Majestie,
Where have you seene the like, but there?

I sawe Ph{oe}bus thrust out his golden hedde,
upon her to gaze:
But when he sawe, how broade her beames did spredde,
it did him amaze.
He blusht to see another Sunne belowe,
Ne durst againe his fyrye face out showe:
Let him, if he dare,
His brightnesse compare
With hers, to have the overthrowe.

Shewe thy selfe Cynthia with thy silver rayes,
and be not abasht:
When shee the beames of her beauty displayes,
O how art thou dasht?
But I will not match her with Latonaes seede,
Such follie great sorow to Niobe did breede.
Now she is a stone,
And makes dayly mone,
Warning all other to take heede.

Pan may be proud, that ever he begot
such a Bellibone,
And Syrinx rejoyse, that ever was her lot
to beare such an one.
Soone as my younglings cryen for the dam,
To her will I offer a milkwhite Lamb:
Shee is my goddesse plaine,
And I her shepherds swayne,
Albee forswonck and forswatt I am.

I see Calliope speede her to the place,
where my Goddesse shines:
And after her the other Muses trace,
with their Violines.
Bene they not Bay braunches, which they doe beare,
All for Elisa in her hand to weare?
So sweetely they play,
And sing all the way,
That it a heaven is to heare.

Lo how finely the graces can it foote
to the Instrument:
They dauncen deffly, and singen soote,
in their meriment.
Wants not a fourth grace, to make the daunce even?
Let that rowme to my Lady be yeven:
She shalbe a grace,
To fyll the fourth place,
And reigne with the rest in heaven.

And whither rennes this bevie of Ladies bright,
raunged in a rowe?
They bene all Ladyes of the lake behight,
that unto her goe.
Chloris, that is the chiefest Nymph of al,
Of Olive braunches beares a Coronall:
Olives bene for peace,
When wars doe surcease:
Such for a Princesse bene principall.

Ye shepheards daughters, that dwell on the greene,
hye you there apace:
Let none come there, but that Virgins bene,
to adorne her grace.
And when you come, whereas shee is in place,
See, that your rudeness doe not you disgrace:
Binde your fillets faste,
And gird in your waste,
For more finesse, with a tawdrie lace.

Bring hether the Pincke and purple Cullambine,
With Gelliflowres:
Bring Coronations, and Sops in wine,
worne of Paramoures.
Strowe me the ground with Daffadowndillies,
And Cowslips, and Kingcups, and loved Lillies:
The pretie Pawnce,
And the Chevisaunce,
Shall match with the fayre flowre Delice.

Now ryse up Elisa, decked as thou art,
in royall aray:
And now ye daintie Damsells may depart
echeone her way,
I feare, I have troubled your troupes to longe:
Let dame Eliza thanke you for her song.
And if you come hether,
When Damsines I gether,
I will part them all you among.
And was thilk same song of Colins owne making?
Ah foolish boy, that is with love yblent:
Great pittie is, he be in such taking,
For naught caren, that bene so lewdly bent.
Sicker I hold him, for a greater fon,
That loves the thing, he cannot purchase.
But let us homeward: for night draweth on,
And twincling starres the daylight hence chase.THENOTS EMBLEME

O quam te memorem virgo?HOBBINOLLS EMBLEME

O dea certe.

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We Said Hello Goodbye

We said goodbye to a dear old friend
And we packed our bags and left feeling sad
Its the only way
We said hello as we turned the key
A new roof over our heads
Gave a smile
Its the only way
Only way
Turn your head
And dont look back
Set your sails for a new horizon
Dont turn around dont look down
Oh theres life across the tracks
And you know its really not surprising
It gets better when you get there oh
Well it really dont matter much where you are
Cos home is in your heart
Its a feeling that you wake with one day
Some people key p running all their life
And still find they havent gone too far
They dont see its the feeling inside - the feeling inside oh
Turn your head and dont look back
Just set your sails for a new horizon
Dont turn around dont look down
Oh theres life across the tracks
And you know its really not surprising
It gets better when you get there
We said hello as we turned the key
A new roof over our heads
Gave a smile - its the only way

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ANTONIA What did you see? Tell me, please!
NANNA In the cell I saw four sisters, the General, and the three milky-white and ruby-red young friars, who were taking off the reverend father’s cassock and garbing him in a big velvet coat. Then hid his tonsure under a small golden skullcap, over which they placed a velvet cap ornamented with crystal droplets and surmounted by a white plume. Then, having buckled his sword at his side, the blissful General, to speak frankly, started strutting back and forth with the big-balled stride of a Bartolomeo Colleoni. In the meantime the sisters removed their habits and the friars took off their tunics. The latter put on the sisters` robes and the sisters that is, three of them put on the friars`. The fourth nun rolled herself up in General’s cassock, seated herself pontifically, and began to imitate a superior laying down the law for the convent.
ANTONIA What pretty pranks!
NANNA Now it becomes prettier.
NANNA Because the reverend father summoned the three friars and leaning on the shoulder of one of them, a tall, soft-skinned rascal who had shot up prematurely, he ordered the others to take his little sparrow, which was resting quietly, out of its nest. Then the most adept and attractive young fellow of the bunch cradled the General’s songster in the palm of his hand and began stroking its back, as one strokes the tail of a cat which first purrs, then pants, and soon cannot keep still. The sparrow lifted its crest, and then the doughty General grabbed hold of the youngest, prettiest nun, threw her tunic over her head, and made her rest her forehead against the back of the bed. Then, deliberately prying open with his fingers the leaves of her ass-hole Missal and wholly rapt his thoughts, he contemplated her crotch, whose form was neither close to bone with leanness nor puffed out with fat, but something in between — rounded, quivering, glistening like a piece of ivory that seems instinct with life.
Those tiny dimples one sees on pretty women’s chins and cheeks could also be seen on her dainty buttocks, whose softness was softer than that of a mill mouse born and raised in flour, and that nuns limbs were all so smooth that a hand placed gently on her loins would have slid down her leg as quickly as a foot slides on ice, and hair no more dared grow on her than it would on an egg.
ANTONIA So the father General consumed his day in contemplation, eh?

NANNA: No, I wouldn’t say he consumed it, because placing his paintbrush, which he first moistened with spit, in her tiny color cup, he made her twist and turn as women do in the birth throes or the mother’s malady. And to be doubly sure that his nail would be driven more tightly into her slit, he motioned to his back and his favorite punk pulled his breeches down to his heels and applied his clyster to the reverend’s visibilium, while all the time the General himself kept his eyes fixed on the two other young louts, who, having settled the sisters neatly and comfortably on the bed, were now pounding the sauce in the mortar to the great despair of the last little sister. Poor thing, she was so squint-eyed and swarthy that she had been spurned by all. So, she filled the glass tool with water heated to wash the messer`s hands, sat on a pillow on the floor, pushed the soles of her feet against the cell wall, and then came straight down on that great crozier, burying in her body as a sword is thrust into a scabbard. Overcome by the scent of pleasure, I was more worn out than pawns are frayed by usury, and began rubbing my dear little monkey with my hand like cats in January rub their backsides on a roof.

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A Simple Thing Like Cry

(nickolas ashford/valerie simpson)
If it didnt hurt so bad
If it didnt hurt so bad
Maybe I could cry
If I thought it was all a joke
And you were putting me on
If I could just make a wish
And this moment would be all gone
If I could see a trace of hope
Somewhere in your eyes
Maybe then I could do
A simple thing like cry
If it didnt hurt so bad
If it didnt hurt so bad
Maybe I could cry
Dont you know I plan to spend
Every moment of my life with you
Now youre trying to tell me
That my dreams just wont come true
Thanks for giving me a million reasons why
But it hurts too bad to do
A simple thing like cry
If I thought it was all a joke
And you were putting me on
If I could just make a wish
And this moment would be all gone
If I could see a trace of hope
Somewhere in your eyes
Maybe then I could do
A simple thing like cry
If it didnt hurt so bad
If it didnt hurt me so bad
Maybe I could
If it didnt hurt so bad
Maybe I could cry
I could cry, cry
If it didnt hurt me
If I didnt love you
Hurt me

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The Borough. Letter X: Clubs And Social Meetings

YOU say you envy in your calm retreat
Our social Meetings;--'tis with joy we meet.
In these our parties you are pleased to find
Good sense and wit, with intercourse of mind;
Composed of men who read, reflect, and write,
Who, when they meet, must yield and share delight.
To you our Book-club has peculiar charm,
For which you sicken in your quiet farm;
Here you suppose us at our leisure placed,
Enjoying freedom, and displaying taste:
With wisdom cheerful, temperately gay,
Pleased to enjoy, and willing to display.
If thus your envy gives your ease its gloom,
Give wings to fancy, and among us come.
We're now assembled; you may soon attend -
I'll introduce you--'Gentlemen, my friend.'
'Now are you happy? you have pass'd a night
In gay discourse, and rational delight.'
'Alas! not so: for how can mortals think,
Or thoughts exchange, if thus they eat and drink?
No! I confess when we had fairly dined,
That was no time for intercourse of mind;
There was each dish prepared with skill t'invite,
And to detain the struggling appetite;
On such occasions minds with one consent
Are to the comforts of the body lent;
There was no pause--the wine went quickly round,
Till struggling Fancy was by Bacchus bound;
Wine is to wit as water thrown on fire,
By duly sprinkling both are raised the higher;
Thus largely dealt, the vivid blaze they choke,
And all the genial flame goes off in smoke.'
'But when no more your boards these loads

When wine no more o'erwhelms the labouring brain,
But serves, a gentle stimulus; we know
How wit must sparkle, and how fancy flow.'
It might be so, but no such club-days come;
We always find these dampers in the room:
If to converse were all that brought us here,
A few odd members would in turn appear;
Who, dwelling nigh, would saunter in and out,
O'erlook the list, and toss the books about;
Or yawning read them, walking up and down,
Just as the loungers in the shops in town;
Till fancying nothing would their minds amuse,
They'd push them by, and go in search of news.
But our attractions are a stronger sort,
The earliest dainties and the oldest port;
All enter then with glee in every look,
And not a member thinks about a book.
Still, let me own, there are some vacant hours,
When minds might work, and men exert their powers:
Ere wine to folly spurs the giddy guest,
But gives to wit its vigour and its zest;
Then might we reason, might in turn display
Our several talents, and be wisely gay;
We might--but who a tame discourse regards,
When Whist is named, and we behold the Cards?
We from that time are neither grave nor gay;
Our thought, our care, our business is to play:
Fix'd on these spots and figures, each attends
Much to his partners, nothing to his friends.
Our public cares, the long, the warm debate,
That kept our patriots from their beds so late;
War, peace, invasion, all we hope or dread,
Vanish like dreams when men forsake their bed;
And groaning nations and contending kings
Are all forgotten for these painted things;
Paper and paste, vile figures and poor spots,
Level all minds, philosophers and sots;
And give an equal spirit, pause, and force,
Join'd with peculiar diction, to discourse:
'Who deals?--you led--we're three by cards--had you
Honour in hand?'--'Upon my honour, two.'
Hour after hour, men thus contending sit,
Grave without sense, and pointed without wit.
Thus it appears these envied Clubs possess
No certain means of social happiness;
Yet there's a good that flows from scenes like

these -
Man meets with man at leisure and at ease;
We to our neighbours and our equals come,
And rub off pride that man. contracts at home;
For there, admitted master, he is prone
To claim attention and to talk alone:
But here he meets with neither son nor spouse;
No humble cousin to his bidding bows;
To his raised voice his neighbours' voices rise,
To his high look as lofty look replies;
When much he speaks, he finds that ears are closed,
And certain signs inform him when he's prosed;
Here all the value of a listener know,
And claim, in turn, the favour they bestow.
No pleasure gives the speech, when all would

And all in vain a civil hearer seek.
To chance alone we owe the free discourse,
In vain you purpose what you cannot force;
'Tis when the favourite themes unbidden spring,
That fancy soars with such unwearied wing;
Then may you call in aid the moderate glass,
But let it slowly and unprompted pass;
So shall there all things for the end unite,
And give that hour of rational delight.
Men to their Clubs repair, themselves to please,
To care for nothing, and to take their ease;
In fact, for play, for wine, for news they come:
Discourse is shared with friends or found at home.
But Cards with Books are incidental things;
We've nights devoted to these queens and kings:
Then if we choose the social game, we may;
Now 'tis a duty, and we're bound to play;
Nor ever meeting of the social kind
Was more engaging, yet had less of mind.
Our eager parties, when the lunar light
Throws its full radiance on the festive night,
Of either sex, with punctual hurry come,
And fill, with one accord, an ample room;
Pleased, the fresh packs on cloth of green they

And seizing, handle with preluding glee;
They draw, they sit, they shuffle, cut, and deal;
Like friends assembled, but like foes to feel:
But yet not all,--a happier few have joys
Of mere amusement, and their cards are toys;
No skill nor art, nor fretful hopes have they,
But while their friends are gaming, laugh and play.
Others there are, the veterans of the game,
Who owe their pleasure to their envied fame;
Through many a year with hard-contested strife,
Have they attain'd this glory of their life:
Such is that ancient burgess, whom in vain
Would gout and fever on his couch detain;
And that large lady, who resolves to come,
Though a first fit has warn'd her of her doom!
These are as oracles: in every cause
They settle doubts, and their decrees are laws;
But all are troubled, when, with dubious look,
Diana questions what Apollo spoke.
Here avarice first, the keen desire of gain,
Rules in each heart, and works in every brain:
Alike the veteran-dames and virgins feel,
Nor care what graybeards or what striplings deal;
Sex, age, and station, vanish from their view,
And gold, their sov'reign good, the mingled crowd

Hence they are jealous, and as rivals, keep
A watchful eye on the beloved heap;
Meantime discretion bids the tongue be still,
And mild good-humour strives with strong ill-will
Till prudence fails; when, all impatient grown,
They make their grief by their suspicions known,
'Sir, I protest, were Job himself at play,
He'd rave to see you throw your cards away;
Not that I care a button--not a pin
For what I lose; but we had cards to win:
A saint in heaven would grieve to see such hand
Cut up by one who will not understand.'
'Complain of me! and so you might indeed
If I had ventured on that foolish lead,
That fatal heart--but I forgot your play -
Some folk have ever thrown their hearts away.'
'Yes, and their diamonds; I have heard of one
Who made a beggar of an only son.'
'Better a beggar, than to see him tied
To art and spite, to insolence and pride.'
'Sir, were I you, I'd strive to be polite,
Against my nature, for a single night.'
'So did you strive, and, madam! with success;
I knew no being we could censure less!'
Is this too much? Alas! my peaceful Muse
Cannot with half their virulence abuse.
And hark! at other tables discord reigns,
With feign'd contempt for losses and for gains;
Passions awhile are bridled: then they rage,
In waspish youth, and in resentful age;
With scraps of insult--'Sir, when next you play,
Reflect whose money 'tis you throw away.
No one on earth can less such things regard,
But when one's partner doesn't know a card -
I scorn suspicion, ma'am, but while you stand
Behind that lady, pray keep down your hand.'
'Good heav'n, revoke: remember, if the set
Be lost, in honour you should pay the debt.'
'There, there's your money; but, while I have

I'll never more sit down with man and wife;
They snap and snarl indeed, but in the heat
Of all their spleen, their understandings meet;
They are Freemasons, and have many a sign,
That we, poor devils! never can divine:
May it be told, do ye divide th' amount,
Or goes it all to family account?'


Next is the Club, where to their friends in town
Our country neighbours once a month come down;
We term it Free-and-Easy, and yet we
Find it no easy matter to be free:
E'en in our small assembly, friends among,
Are minds perverse, there's something will be

Men are not equal; some will claim a right
To be the kings and heroes of the night;
Will their own favourite themes and notions start,
And you must hear, offend them, or depart.
There comes Sir Thomas from his village-seat,
Happy, he tells us, all his friends to meet;
He brings the ruin'd brother of his wife,
Whom he supports, and makes him sick of life;
A ready witness whom he can produce
Of all his deeds--a butt for his abuse;
Soon as he enters, has the guests espied,
Drawn to the fire, and to the glass applied -
'Well, what's the subject?--what are you about?
The news, I take it--come, I'll help you out:' -
And then, without one answer he bestows
Freely upon us all he hears and knows;
Gives us opinions, tells us how he votes,
Recites the speeches, adds to them his notes;
And gives old ill-told tales for new-born

Yet cares he nothing what we judge or think,
Our only duty's to attend and drink:
At length, admonish'd by his gout he ends
The various speech, and leaves at peace his

But now, alas! we've lost the pleasant hour,
And wisdom flies from wine's superior power.
Wine like the rising sun, possession gains,
And drives the mist of dulness from the brains;
The gloomy vapour from the spirit flies,
And views of gaiety and gladness rise:
Still it proceeds; till from the glowing heat,
The prudent calmly to their shades retreat: -
Then is the mind o'ercast--in wordy rage
And loud contention angry men engage;
Then spleen and pique, like fireworks thrown in

To mischief turn the pleasures of the night;
Anger abuses, Malice loudly rails,
Revenge awakes, and Anarchy prevails;
Till wine, that raised the tempest, makes its

And maudlin Love insists on instant peace;
He, noisy mirth and roaring song commands,
Gives idle toasts, and joins unfriendly bands:
Till fuddled Friendship vows esteem and weeps,
And jovial Folly drinks and sings and sleeps.


A Club there is of Smokers--Dare you come
To that close, clouded, hot, narcotic room?
When, midnight past, the very candles seem
Dying for air, and give a ghastly gleam;
When curling fumes in lazy wreaths arise,
And prosing topers rub their winking eyes;
When the long tale, renew'd when last they met,
Is spliced anew, and is unfinish'd yet;
When but a few are left the house to tire,
And they half sleeping by the sleepy fire;
E'en the poor ventilating vane that flew
Of late so fast, is now grown drowsy too;
When sweet, cold, clammy punch its aid bestows,
Then thus the midnight conversation flows: -
'Then, as I said, and--mind me--as I say,
At our last meeting--you remember'--'Ay?'
'Well, very well--then freely as I drink
I spoke my thought--you take me--what I think.
And, sir, said I, if I a Freeman be,
It is my bounden duty to be free.'
'Ay, there you posed him: I respect the Chair,
But man is man, although the man's a mayor;
If Muggins live--no, no!--if Muggins die,
He'll quit his office--neighbour, shall I try?'
'I'll speak my mind, for here are none but

They're all contending for their private ends;
No public spirit--once a vote would bring,
I say a vote--was then a pretty thing;
It made a man to serve his country and his king:
But for that place, that Muggins must resign,
You've my advice--'tis no affair of mine.'


The Poor Man has his Club: he comes and spends
His hoarded pittance with his chosen friends;
Nor this alone,--a monthly dole he pays,
To be assisted when his health decays;
Some part his prudence, from the day's supply,
For cares and troubles in his age, lays by;
The printed rules he guards with painted frame,
And shows his children where to read his name;
Those simple words his honest nature move,
That bond of union tied by laws of love;
This is his pride, it gives to his employ
New value, to his home another joy;
While a religious hope its balm applies
For all his fate inflicts, and all his state

Much would it please you, sometimes to explore
The peaceful dwellings of our Borough poor:
To view a sailor just return'd from sea,
His wife beside; a child on either knee,
And others crowding near, that none may lose
The smallest portions of the welcome news;
What dangers pass'd, 'When seas ran mountains high,
When tempest raved, and horrors veil'd the sky;
When prudence fail'd, when courage grew dismay'd,
When the strong fainted, and the wicked pray'd, -
Then in the yawning gulf far down we drove,
And gazed upon the billowy mount above;
Till up that mountain, swinging with the gale,
We view'd the horrors of the watery vale.'
The trembling children look with steadfast eyes,
And, panting, sob involuntary sighs:
Soft sleep awhile his torpid touch delays,
And all is joy and piety and praise.


Masons are ours, Freemasons--but, alas!
To their own bards I leave the mystic class;
In vain shall one, and not a gifted man,
Attempt to sing of this enlightened clan:
I know no Word, boast no directing Sign,
And not one Token of the race is mine;
Whether with Hiram, that wise widow's son,
They came from Tyre to royal Solomon,
Two pillars raising by their skill profound,
Boaz and Jachin through the east renown'd:
Whether the sacred Books their rise express,
Or books profane, 'tis vain for me guess:
It may be lost in date remote and high,
They know not what their own antiquity:
It may be, too, derived from cause so low,
They have no wish their origin to show:
If, as Crusaders, they combine to wrest
From heathen lords the land they long possess'd;
Or were at first some harmless club, who made
Their idle meetings solemn by parade;
Is but conjecture--for the task unfit,
Awe-struck and mute, the puzzling theme I quit:
Yet, if such blessings from their Order flow,
We should be glad their moral code to know;
Trowels of silver are but simple things,
And Aprons worthless as their apron-strings;
But if indeed you have the skill to teach
A social spirit, now beyond our reach;
If man's warm passions you can guide and bind,
And plant the virtues in the wayward mind;
If you can wake to Christian love the heart, -
In mercy, something of your powers impart.
But, as it seems, we Masons must become
To know the Secret, and must then be dumb;
And as we venture for uncertain gains,
Perhaps the profit is not worth the pains.
When Bruce, that dauntless traveller, thought he

On Nile's first rise, the fountain of the flood,
And drank exulting in the sacred spring,
The critics told him it was no such thing;
That springs unnumber'd round the country ran,
But none could show him where the first began:
So might we feel, should we our time bestow,
To gain these Secrets and these Signs to know;
Might question still if all the truth we found,
And firmly stood upon the certain ground;
We might our title to the Mystery dread,
And fear we drank not at the river-head.


G riggs and Gregorians here their meeting hold,
Convivial Sects, and Bucks alert and bold;
A kind of Masons, but without their sign;
The bonds of union--pleasure, song, and wine.
Man, a gregarious creature, loves to fly
Where he the trackings of the herd can spy;
Still to be one with many he desires,
Although it leads him through the thorns and

A few! but few there are, who in the mind
Perpetual source of consolation find:
The weaker many to the world will come,
For comforts seldom to be found from home.
When the faint hands no more a brimmer hold,
When flannel-wreaths the useless limbs infold,
The breath impeded, and the bosom cold;
When half the pillow'd man the palsy chains,
And the blood falters in the bloated veins, -
Then, as our friends no further aid supply
Than hope's cold phrase and courtesy's soft sigh,
We should that comfort for ourselves ensure,
Which friends could not, if we could friends

Early in life, when we can laugh aloud,
There's something pleasant in a social crowd,
Who laugh with us--but will such joy remain
When we lie struggling on the bed of pain?
When our physician tells us with a sigh,
No more on hope and science to rely,
Life's staff is useless then; with labouring breath
We pray for Hope divine--the staff of Death; -
This is a scene which few companions grace,
And where the heart's first favourites yield their

Here all the aid of man to man must end,
Here mounts the soul to her eternal Friend:
The tenderest love must here its tie resign,
And give th' aspiring heart to love divine.
Men feel their weakness, and to numbers run,
Themselves to strengthen, or themselves to shun;
But though to this our weakness may be prone,
Let's learn to live, for we must die, alone.

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The Power Of Abdullah King

In Ma'an, a bleak desert town which is situated
In the southern part of the beautiful Jordan,
The plague of poverty and the high unemployment
Is remotely felt from the wonderful capital, Amman.

Ma'an has discontent swirls in some living room conversations
Which are especially expressed on its main street,
Because its people have sparked some protests and demands
For new reforms to determine the political power to defeat.

The protestants want to limit the power of Abdullah King
Who wields in this country the supreme authority.
The oppositionists of demonstration want to have everything
So they gathered for this monarch some pledges of their loyalty.

This monarch has counted on the support of the Bedouins
Who had formed in the past his regime backbone.
But the protester's rancor is rife being fueled over mountains
By the unrest across the Arabs and this is very well known.

In Ma'an, the anti-government riots have been erupted
Since a while, now their style to talk is very different.
'Cause the government and the royal court are corrupted
And the authorities are still extremely indifferent.

A sheikh said that the king holds all the authority
In his own hand even this authority must be limited.
He has broad executive powers and political immunity
Because the denunciation of the monarch is banned.

Jordan people wanted a new constitutional monarchy
Which could be extremely similar to the British one,
But this would affect the political balance leading to anarchy
Marouf al-Bakhit talked about this balance, and it wasn't fun

At all because the constitutional amendments granting
The monarch's additional powers still need to exist.
And the idea which has been promoted very vehemently
By the opposition leaders had finally to be dismissed.

There were some impressionable changes that would produce
A cabinet drawn from their political parliamentary majority
But a bunch of thieves who was looking out for own business
Interests had surrounded the life of Abdullah's royal family.

So, no change can produce a cabinet drawn from the king's
Appointment of the prime minister, an important person said,
While a bunch of thieves doesn't care about the interests of
The most poor citizen, who really need to eat their bread.

A queen, who is a very important ambassador
For Jordan country abroad, is merely accused
Of interfering in some official appointments
Even for this interferer she has no excuse.

This queen, who is mediating the Arab relations
As ambassador for Jordan abroad, is merely accused
Also of receiving foreign funding for some foundations
Which ran out without public oversight and without excuse.

An extremely strong bond although still remains
Between the local tribes and the ruling Hashemit family.
A strife between the Palestinians and Jordanians
Which can take place soon will destroy their solidarity.

The removal of Hashemit family can lead
To a power struggle making the people to groan.
A civil strife can destroy the solidarity between
The tribes, if the monarchy is overthrown.

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The Troubadour And Richard Coeur De Lion

The Troubadour o'er many a plain
Hath roamed unwearied, but in vain.
O'er many a rugged mountain-scene
And forest wild his track hath been;
Beneath Calabria's glowing sky
He hath sung the songs of chivalry;
His voice hath swelled on the Alpine breeze,
And wrung through the snowy Pyrenees;
From Ebro's banks to Danube's wave,
He hath sought his prince, the loved, the brave;
And yet, if still on earth thou art,
Oh, monarch of the lion-heart!
The faithful spirit, which distress
But heightens to devotedness,
By toil and trial vanquished not,
Shall guide thy minstrel to the spot.

He hath reached a mountain hung with vine,
And woods that wave o'er the lovely Rhine:
The feudal towers that crest its height
Frown in unconquerable might;
Dark is their aspect of sullen state -
No helmet hangs o'er the massy gate
To bid the wearied pilgrim rest,
At the chieftain's board a welcome guest;
Vainly rich evening's parting smile
Would chase the gloom of the haughty pile,
That 'midst bright sunshine lowers on high,
Like a thunder-cloud in a summer sky.

Not these the halls where a child of song
Awhile may speed the hours along;
Their echoes should repeat alone
The tyrant's mandate, the prisoner's moan,
Or the wild huntsman's bugle-blast,
When his phantom-train are hurrying past.
The weary minstrel paused - his eye
Roved o'er the scene despondingly:
Within the lengthening shadow, cast
By the fortress-towers and ramparts vast,
Lingering he gazed. The rocks around
Sublime in savage grandeur frowned;
Proud guardians of the regal flood,
In giant strength the mountains stood -
By torrents cleft, by tempests riven,
Yet mingling still with the calm blue heaven.
Their peaks were bright with a sunny glow,
But the Rhine all shadowy rolled below;
In purple tints the vineyards smiled,
But the woods beyond waved dark and wild
Nor pastoral pipe, nor convent's bell,
Was heard on the sighing breeze to swell;
But all was lonely, silent, rude,
A stern, yet glorious solitude.

But hark! that solemn stillness breaking,
The Troubadour's wild song is waking.
Full oft that song, in days gone by,
Hath cheered the sons of chivalry;
It hath swelled o'er Judah's mountains lone,
Hermon! thy echoes have learned its tone;
On the Great Plain its notes have rung,
The leagued Crusaders' tents among;
'Twas loved by the Lion-heart, who won
The palm in the field of Ascalon;
And now afar o'er the rocks of Rhine
Peals the bold strain of Palestine.

The Troubadour's Song
'Thine hour is come, and the stake is set,'
The Soldan cried to the captive knight,
'And the sons of the Prophet in throngs are met
To gaze on the fearful sight.

'But be our faith by thy lips professed,
The faith of Mecca's shrine,
Cast down the red-cross that marks thy vest,
And life shall yet be thine.'

'I have seen the flow of my bosom's blood,
And gazed with undaunted eye;
I have borne the bright cross through fire and flood
And think'st thou I fear to die?

'I have stood where thousands, by Salem's towers,
Have fallen for the name Divine;
And the faith that cheered
closing hours
Shall be the light of mine.'

'Thus wilt thou die in the pride of health,
And the glow of youth's fresh bloom?
Thou art offered life, and pomp, and wealth,
Or torture and the tomb.'

'I have been where the crown of thorns was twined
For a dying Saviour's brow;

spurned the treasures that lure mankind,
And I reject them now!'

'Art thou the son of a noble line
In a land that is fair and blest?
And doth not thy spirit, proud captive! pine,
Again on its shores to rest?

'Thine own is the choice to hail once more
The soil of thy father's birth,
Or to sleep, when thy lingering pangs are o'er
Forgotten in foreign earth.'

'Oh! fair are the vine-clad hills that rise
In the country of my love;
But yet, though cloudless my native skies,
There's a brighter clime above!'

The bard hath paused - for another tone
Blends with the music of his own;
And his heart beats high with hope again,
As a well-known voice prolongs the strain.

'Are there none within thy father's hall,
Far o'er the wide blue main,
Young Christian! left to deplore thy fall
With sorrow deep and vain?'

'There are hearts that still, through all the past,
Unchanging have loved me well;
There are eyes whose tears were streaming fast
When I bade my home farewell.

Better they wept o'er the warrior's bier
Than the apostate's living stain;
There's a land where those who loved when here,
Shall meet to love again.'

'Tis he! thy prince - long sought, long lost,
The leader of the red-cross host!
'Tis he! to none thy joy betray,
Young Troubadour! away, away!
Away to the island of the brave,
The gem on the bosom of the wave;
Arouse the sons of the noble soil,
To win their Lion from the toil;
And free the wassail-cup shall flow,
Bright in each hall the hearth shall glow;
The festal board shall be richly crowned,
While knights and chieftains revel round,
And a thousand harps with joy shall ring,
When merry England hails her king.

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King Billy's Skull.

THE scene is the Southern Hemisphere;
The time — oh, any time of the year
Will do as well as another; say June,
Put it down likewise as the full of the moon,
And midnight to boot, when churchyards, they say,
Yawn in a most unmannerly way;
And restless ghosts in winding-sheets
Go forth and gibber about the streets,
And rehearse old crimes that were better hid
In the darkness beneath the coffin-lid.
Observe, that I merely say, on dit;
But though it never happened to me
To encounter, either in-doors or out,
A posthumous gentleman walking about,
In regulation sepulchral guise,
Or in shirt, Crimean or otherwise,
Or in hat and boots and usual wear,
Or, save for a cloud, unbecomingly bare,
Or in gaseous form, with the stars shining through him,
Beckoning me to interview him —
On mission of solemnest import bound,
Or merely a constitutional round,
Beginning at twelve as books declare,
And ending at first sniff of morning air; —
Though all such things, you will understand,
Have reached me only at second-hand,
Or third, or fourth, as the case may be,
Yet there really did occur to me
Something which I perforce must call
Ultra-super-natural; —
In fact trans-ultra-super-preter-
Natural suits both truth and metre.
There is an Island, I won't say where,
For some yet live who mightn't care
To have the address too widely known;
Suffice it to say: South Temperate Zone.
In that same Isle, thus precisely set down,
There's a certain township, and also a town —
(For, to ears colonial, I need not state
That the two do not always homologate). —
And in that same town there's a certain street;
And in that same street, the locals to complete,
There's a certain Surgery, trim and neat,
Kept by —— well, perhaps it were rash
To call him other than Doctor Dash.
At midnight, then, in the month of June
(And don't forget the full of the moon),
I sat in that Surgery, writhing with pain,
Having waited fully two hours in vain
For Doctor Dash, who, I understood,
Was engaged in the questionable good
Of adding one to the sum of woe
That includes all creatures here below, —
Especially those whose particular dolour,
As mine was then, is a rotten molar!
Have you noted that midnight's final stroke
Has a way of solemnizing folk?
Though, goodness knows, in my special case,
With a cheek that was quite a three-quarter face,
There needed no solemnizing power,
No eerie vibration of midnight hour,
Chilling through heart, and thrilling through limb,
To put me en rapport with all things grim,
With all things dreary and dismal and dim,
The whole Night side of Nature (see Crow — not Jim).
Hardly was tolled the day's decease
From the ormolu clock on the mantelpiece,
When a running fire of perplexing knocks
Seemed to proceed from a rosewood box,
That stood on a table whereon were laid
The horrible tools of the surgical trade.
Somewhat slowly the notes began
With minims, and then into crotchets ran, —
From crotchets to quavers, then faster they grew,
Galloping, galloping, thirty-two
Beats to the semibreve — doubling once more
To a semibreve split into sixty-four,
Till failing to follow so rapid a rate,
I gave in at a hundred and twenty-eight.
I was scared, I confess, but the wish to know
Was stronger than terror of ghostly foe;
And stealthily, stealthily nearing the knocks,
I pressed my ear on the rosewood box,
And fancied I could discern beneath
The peculiar rattle of chattering teeth;
Which, as need hardly be said or penned,
Set each particular hair on end,
Froze all my young blood in a moment of time,
And curdled my bile, and my chyle, and my chyme!
But though terror undoubtedly gained the day,
Yet curiosity too had its way,
And the first had no sooner sung out Avaunt!
When the second cried Stay! what the deuce do you want?
Often as I have told the tale,
This particular part is so 'like a whale,'
That I always feel an apology due
For insisting upon it as perfectly true,
This is what followed, — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
And I heard these words (on my honour, I did),
'Hi! . . . Cooey! . . . You fella . . . Open 'm lid!'
Trembling all over from foot to head,
'How shall I open it, Spirit?' I said;
'Lies there, oh lies there no key about?
For how can I open the coffer without?'
A kind of an audible ossified grin,
A gnashing of laughter, came from within,
And little by little I understood,
'You fella. . . . new chum. . . . You no good;
White fella. . . . crawler. . . . you no go,
Key in 'm lock. . . . my word. . . . 'tis so.'
It was so indeed. I opened, and lo!
An afrit? A goblin? A bottle-imp?. . . . No;
Simply a Human Skull, enshrined
In rosewood, padded and velvet-lined, —
A low type of skull, as one could see
From the brutish depression where forehead should be;
Yet surely precious in some degree
To judge from the case, not to mention the key
And the lock by a well-known patentee.
All was still for three minutes at least;
Knocks and voices alike had ceased;
There lay the skull as silent and dumb
As Lot's wife's salted cranium.
Had it been all a gross mistake
In the frenzy begotten of molar-ache?
Was the whole affair but a fancy freak,
Forged in the heat of a throbbing cheek?
Was it all — but rather than wait the event,
I determined to make the experiment.
So summoning courage a query to frame,
I boldly inquired, 'You there, what name?'
Which, to supply explanation due,
Is the Lingua-Nigra for 'Who are you?'
This is what followed — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
And a slight elevation I certainly saw
Of the skull as if raised on the under jaw;
And this time beyond the chance of mistake,
My senses about me, and wide-awake,
No victim of frenzy, no fancy's gull,
I heard the words — 'Me King Billy's Skull!'
Alas, poor Billy, I knew him well,
In his full corporeal personnel,
But a man might give his own father the go-by,
Were there only his brain-pan left to know by.
And this was Billy! the last of his race!
That sightless mask was his regal face!
How oft from the cavity within
Those fangs now set in ghastly grin,
Had I seen the curling smoke proceed
Of the eleemosynary weed —
A cavity even now displayed
Through a gap for his pipe expressly made!
Here, where the Kingly glance shot through,
Two eyeless sockets appal the view;
And where flourished the fibre of Cocoa-nut
Is an utterly towless occiput! —
But scant was the time to moralize,
For soon a light in the place of the eyes,
A wild-looking, diabolical spark,
Like the eye of an angry cat in the dark,
Came and went, and went and came —
The spirit of Billy, perhaps, aflame:
And deeming it such, 'What would you, pray?'
I asked in a stammering, tremulous way;
'What is your will, oh, William, say?
William, rex dei gratia!'
This is what followed, — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
'You take me out. . . . go long o'street. . . .
You come place where three road meet. . . .
S'pos'n keep middle till come to bridge. . . .
Cross over creek, an' go up ridge. . . .
Up on 'im top lie down hollow tree. . . .
Lift up big sheet o' bark. . . . you see
Bones of brother belongin' to me. . . .
Take 'im up head. . . . put mine fella down. . . .
You fetch 'im brother head back to town. . . .
Put 'im in box. . . . lock 'im up like o' here. . . .
Dash no do me!. . . . my oath!. . . . No fear!'
What COULD it all mean? — Three days ago
I had seen this monarch in earth laid low:
How had his fleshless skull returned
From the grave where I saw him so 'quietly inurned?'
And what upon earth was the drift of the dark
Allusion to Dash in his closing remark?
And what could import a mission so strange —
This visit to death, this mysterious exchange?
And wherefore of all men should I be selected
To. . . . pending an answer I did as directed,
And in less than an hour the exchange was effected.
King Billy supplanted, the box closed once more,
And myself fleeing forth from the surgery door!
Time and the hour, as Shakespeare says,
Run through the very roughest of days: —
(Forgive misquotation — the letter kills;
The spirit, at all events, is Will's)
Time and the hour having run their race,
I found myself back in the self-same place,
Dash standing by with a smiling face,
Wiping his weapon with dainty grace,
Myself no longer a surgical case,
But relieved (to the tune of twenty bo,
With the molar transferred to my trouser fob.
I could now look around me; the box was there,
Done up in canvas, and labelled 'with care;'
And Dash, beholding my steadfast stare,
Said with Mephistophelian grin,
That looked like the very triumph of Sin,
'Bet you twenty to one in gold,
You never will guess what that box doth hold . . .
Not bet? . . . Well, listen while I unfold
A neat little tale of a neat little prank,
Played by myself upon Doctor Blank,
The Hospital Surgeon, who, as you know,
Is my open friend, but my secret foe,
Well, to begin ab initio,
King Billy, whom we saw laid low
In his mother earth some days ago,
The last of the Aborigines,
Had long been dying of lung disease.
The melancholy fact was known
To Doctor Blank and myself alone,
And each of us watched with wary eye,
Patiently waiting till Billy should die.'
(Here I ventured to ask him the reason why.)
'Why? Don't you see? this man, as the last
Of a great island race of the perished past —
(Save one old gin, from whom can be
No further scion, as all can see)
Is a wonderful curiosity:
And Blank and myself had sworn an oath,
Secret from each, yet known to both,
To achieve some scientific note
In catalogue or anecdote,
By the munificent presentation
Of King Billy's Skull to the British Nation!
Fancy the honour, the kudos, the fame!
A whole museum athrill with one's name.
Fancy the thousands all crowding to see
‘Skull of the last Aborigine,
Presented by Asterisk Dash, M.D.’!!
A couple of men not sufficing to fix
The numbers on all the umbrellas and sticks,
And every voice in the eager crowd
Pronouncing the name of Dash aloud!
Fancy the honour, the kudos, the fame!
But fancy the everlasting shame,
If in place of Dash the name should be Blank!
The Quack! the Charlatan! Mountebank!
'But to proceed. To daily view
Weaker and weaker His Majesty grew.
I tended him kindly, went out of my way
To see how he fared from day to day:
But all my kindness, in pill or potion,
Showed small by the side of Blank's devotion;
All my kindness in potion and pill
Only made Blank show kinder still.
Well, one dark day (which ill betide)
Returning home from a country ride,
I found, to my sore astonishment,
That Blank had had the patient sent
To the Hospital Nigger-ward — to die
Beneath my antagonist's very eye!
(Knew you ever such treachery?) —
I owe him one, to myself I said;
Let him have the body, I'll have the head,
By hook or by crook, let what will come —
By fair or by foul, I'll have my thumb
On that potentate's caput mortuum!
I bribed a wardsman to let me know
When the patient should be in articulo;
And, accordingly, one afternoon I got
A letter to say King Billy was not.
I suddenly found I had been remiss
In my social duties to Blank, and this
Induced me to write him to give us to tea
The pleasure of his company.
Blank took the bait, came, found — not me,
But himself alone with Mrs. D.,
Who very much regretted to say
How the Doctor was suddenly called away,
Much, to be sure, against his will,
But Mrs. . . a . . Harris was very ill: —
In an hour or so he would return: —
Edith, tell Mary to bring the urn.
'Ere Blank sat down with my woman-kind,
I had slit Billy's head above and behind.
When Blank was requested to say a grace,
There was no skull behind Billy's face.
When Blank was just about to begin,
One skull was out and another skull in.
Ere Blank had buttered a morsel of toast,
The job was three-quarters through almost.
Ere Blank had sipped of his second cup,
The flesh was spliced, and the head tied up:
And before he had drunk it to the dregs,
I had done him, as sure as eggs are eggs!
'And he knows it too; but, all the same,
He hasn't blown it as yet for shame.
Let him publish it now as soon as he may,
He will find himself rather late in the day,
For this very night the treasure will be
Severed from Blank by leagues of sea.
Think of it, Sir, and congratulate me
‘Skull of the last Aborigine,
Presented by Asterisk Dash, M.D.’!!'
* * * * *
In a certain Museum, I won't say where,
But it's not very far from Russell Square,
Should the gentle Reader e'er happen to see
'Skull of the last Aborigine,' —
And find, perchance, some poetical gull
Crooning the theme of a Monarch's skull,
Tell him to lay his theme on a shelf,
On peril of being a numskull himself;
Or to modulate his Parnassian whim
To the tune of 'Brother belongin' to him'!!

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George Meredith

The Nuptials Of Attila


Flat as to an eagle's eye,
Earth hung under Attila.
Sign for carnage gave he none.
In the peace of his disdain,
Sun and rain, and rain and sun,
Cherished men to wax again,
Crawl, and in their manner die.
On his people stood a frost.
Like the charger cut in stone,
Rearing stiff, the warrior host,
Which had life from him alone,
Craved the trumpet's eager note,
As the bridled earth the Spring.
Rusty was the trumpet's throat.
He let chief and prophet rave;
Venturous earth around him string
Threads of grass and slender rye,
Wave them, and untrampled wave.
O for the time when God did cry,
Eye and have, my Attila!


Scorn of conquest filled like sleep
Him that drank of havoc deep
When the Green Cat pawed the globe:
When the horsemen from his bow
Shot in sheaves and made the foe
Crimson fringes of a robe,
Trailed o'er towns and fields in woe;
When they streaked the rivers red,
When the saddle was the bed.
Attila, my Attila!


He breathed peace and pulled a flower.
Eye and have, my Attila!
This was the damsel Ildico,
Rich in bloom until that hour:
Shyer than the forest doe
Twinkling slim through branches green.
Yet the shyest shall be seen.
Make the bed for Attila!


Seen of Attila, desired,
She was led to him straightway:
Radiantly was she attired;
Rifled lands were her array,
Jewels bled from weeping crowns,
Gold of woeful fields and towns.
She stood pallid in the light.
How she walked, how withered white,
From the blessing to the board,
She who would have proudly blushed,
Women whispered, asking why,
Hinting of a youth, and hushed.
Was it terror of her lord?
Was she childish? was she sly?
Was it the bright mantle's dye
Drained her blood to hues of grief
Like the ash that shoots the spark?
See the green tree all in leaf:
See the green tree stripped of bark! -
Make the bed for Attila!


Round the banquet-table's load
Scores of iron horsemen rode;
Chosen warriors, keen and hard;
Grain of threshing battle-dints;
Attila's fierce body-guard,
Smelling war like fire in flints.
Grant them peace be fugitive!
Iron-capped and iron-heeled,
Each against his fellow's shield
Smote the spear-head, shouting, Live,
Attila! my Attila!
Eagle, eagle of our breed,
Eagle, beak the lamb, and feed!
Have her, and unleash us! live,
Attila! my Attila!


He was of the blood to shine
Bronze in joy, like skies that scorch.
Beaming with the goblet wine
In the wavering of the torch,
Looked he backward on his bride.
Eye and have, my Attila!
Fair in her wide robe was she:
Where the robe and vest divide,
Fair she seemed surpassingly:
Soft, yet vivid as the stream
Danube rolls in the moonbeam
Through rock-barriers: but she smiled
Never, she sat cold as salt:
Open-mouthed as a young child
Wondering with a mind at fault.
Make the bed for Attila!


Under the thin hoop of gold
Whence in waves her hair outrolled,
'Twixt her brows the women saw
Shadows of a vulture's claw
Gript in flight: strange knots that sped
Closing and dissolving aye:
Such as wicked dreams betray
When pale dawn creeps o'er the bed.
They might show the common pang
Known to virgins, in whom dread
Hunts their bliss like famished hounds;
While the chiefs with roaring rounds
Tossed her to her lord, and sang
Praise of him whose hand was large,
Cheers for beauty brought to yield,
Chirrups of the trot afield,
Hurrahs of the battle-charge.


Those rock-faces hung with weed
Reddened: their great days of speed,
Slaughter, triumph, flood and flame,
Like a jealous frenzy wrought,
Scoffed at them and did them shame,
Quaffing idle, conquering nought.
O for the time when God decreed
Earth the prey of Attila!
God called on thee in his wrath,
Trample it to mire! 'Twas done.
Swift as Danube clove our path
Down from East to Western sun.
Huns! behold your pasture, gaze,
Take, our king said: heel to flank
(Whisper it, the war-horse neighs!)
Forth we drove, and blood we drank
Fresh as dawn-dew: earth was ours:
Men were flocks we lashed and spurned:
Fast as windy flame devours,
Flame along the wind, we burned.
Arrow javelin, spear, and sword!
Here the snows and there the plains;
On! our signal: onward poured
Torrents of the tightened reins,
Foaming over vine and corn
Hot against the city-wall.
Whisper it, you sound a horn
To the grey beast in the stall!
Yea, he whinnies at a nod.
O for sound of the trumpet-notes!
O for the time when thunder-shod,
He that scarce can munch his oats,
Hung on the peaks, brooded aloof,
Champed the grain of the wrath of God,
Pressed a cloud on the cowering roof,
Snorted out of the blackness fire!
Scarlet broke the sky, and down,
Hammering West with print of his hoof,
He burst out of the bosom of ire
Sharp as eyelight under thy frown,
Attila, my Attila!


Ravaged cities rolling smoke
Thick on cornfields dry and black,
Wave his banners, bear his yoke.
Track the lightning, and you track
Attila. They moan: 'tis he!
Bleed: 'tis he! Beneath his foot
Leagues are deserts charred and mute;
Where he passed, there passed a sea.
Attila, my Attila!


- Who breathed on the king cold breath?
Said a voice amid the host,
He is Death that weds a ghost,
Else a ghost that weds with Death?
Ildico's chill little hand
Shuddering he beheld: austere
Stared, as one who would command
Sight of what has filled his ear:
Plucked his thin beard, laughed disdain.
Feast, ye Huns! His arm be raised,
Like the warrior, battle-dazed,
Joining to the fight amain.
Make the bed for Attila!


Silent Ildico stood up.
King and chief to pledge her well,
Shocked sword sword and cup on cup,
Clamouring like a brazen bell.
Silent stepped the queenly slave.
Fair, by heaven! she was to meet
On a midnight, near a grave,
Flapping wide the winding-sheet.


Death and she walked through the crowd,
Out beyond the flush of light.
Ceremonious women bowed
Following her: 'twas middle night.
Then the warriors each on each
Spied, nor overloudly laughed;
Like the victims of the leech,
Who have drunk of a strange draught.


Attila remained. Even so
Frowned he when he struck the blow,
Brained his horse, that stumbled twice,
On a bloody day in Gaul,
Bellowing, Perish omens! All
Marvelled at the sacrifice,
But the battle, swinging dim,
Rang off that axe-blow for him.
Attila, my Attila!


Brightening over Danube wheeled
Star by star; and she, most fair,
Sweet as victory half-revealed,
Seized to make him glad and young;
She, O sweet as the dark sign
Given him oft in battles gone,
When the voice within said, Dare!
And the trumpet-notes were sprung
Rapturous for the charge in line:
She lay waiting: fair as dawn
Wrapped in folds of night she lay;
Secret, lustrous; flaglike there,
Waiting him to stream and ray,
With one loosening blush outflung,
Colours of his hordes of horse
Ranked for combat; still he hung
Like the fever dreading air,
Cursed of heat; and as a corse
Gathers vultures, in his brain
Images of her eyes and kiss
Plucked at the limbs that could remain
Loitering nigh the doors of bliss.
Make the bed for Attila!


Passion on one hand, on one,
Destiny led forth the Hun.
Heard ye outcries of affright,
Voices that through many a fray,
In the press of flag and spear,
Warned the king of peril near?
Men were dumb, they gave him way,
Eager heads to left and right,
Like the bearded standard, thrust,
As in battle, for a nod
From their lord of battle-dust.
Attila, my Attila!
Slow between the lines he trod.
Saw ye not the sun drop slow
On this nuptial day, ere eve
Pierced him on the couch aglow?
Attila, my Attila!
Here and there his heart would cleave
Clotted memory for a space:
Some stout chief's familiar face,
Choicest of his fighting brood,
Touched him, as 'twere one to know
Ere he met his bride's embrace.
Attila, my Attila!
Twisting fingers in a beard
Scant as winter underwood,
With a narrowed eye he peered;
Like the sunset's graver red
Up old pine-stems. Grave he stood
Eyeing them on whom was shed
Burning light from him alone.
Attila, my Attila!
Red were they whose mouths recalled
Where the slaughter mounted high,
High on it, o'er earth appalled,
He; heaven's finger in their sight
Raising him on waves of dead,
Up to heaven his trumpets blown.
O for the time when God's delight
Crowned the head of Attila!
Hungry river of the crag
Stretching hands for earth he came:
Force and Speed astride his name
Pointed back to spear and flag.
He came out of miracle cloud,
Lightning-swift and spectre-lean.
Now those days are in a shroud:
Have him to his ghostly queen.
Make the bed for Attila!


One, with winecups overstrung,
Cried him farewell in Rome's tongue.
Who? for the great king turned as though
Wrath to the shaft's head strained the bow.
Nay, not wrath the king possessed,
But a radiance of the breast.
In that sound he had the key
Of his cunning malady.
Lo, where gleamed the sapphire lake,
Leo, with his Rome at stake,
Drew blank air to hues and forms;
Whereof Two that shone distinct,
Linked as orbed stars are linked,
Clear among the myriad swarms,
In a constellation, dashed
Full on horse and rider's eyes
Sunless light, but light it was -
Light that blinded and abashed,
Froze his members, bade him pause,
Caught him mid-gallop, blazed him home.
Attila, my Attila!
What are streams that cease to flow?
What was Attila, rolled thence,
Cheated by a juggler's show?
Like that lake of blue intense,
Under tempest lashed to foam,
Lurid radiance, as he passed,
Filled him, and around was glassed,
When deep-voiced he uttered, Rome!


Rome! the word was: and like meat
Flung to dogs the word was torn.
Soon Rome's magic priests shall bleat
Round their magic Pope forlorn!
Loud they swore the king had sworn
Vengeance on the Roman cheat,
Ere he passed, as, grave and still,
Danube through the shouting hill:
Sworn it by his naked life!
Eagle, snakes these women are:
Take them on the wing! but war,
Smoking war's the warrior's wife!
Then for plunder! then for brides
Won without a winking priest! -
Danube whirled his train of tides
Black toward the yellow East.
Make the bed for Attila!


Chirrups of the trot afield,
Hurrahs of the battle-charge,
How they answered, how they pealed,
When the morning rose and drew
Bow and javelin, lance and targe,
In the nuptial casement's view!
Attila, my Attila!
Down the hillspurs, out of tents
Glimmering in mid-forest, through
Mists of the cool morning scents,
Forth from city-alley, court,
Arch, the bounding horsemen flew,
Joined along the plains of dew,
Raced and gave the rein to sport,
Closed and streamed like curtain-rents
Fluttered by a wind, and flowed
Into squadrons: trumpets blew,
Chargers neighed, and trappings glowed
Brave as the bright Orient's.
Look on the seas that run to greet
Sunrise: look on the leagues of wheat:
Look on the lines and squares that fret
Leaping to level the lance blood-wet.
Tens of thousands, man and steed,
Tossing like field-flowers in Spring;
Ready to be hurled at need
Whither their great lord may sling.
Finger Romeward, Romeward, King!
Attila, my Attila!
Still the woman holds him fast
As a night-flag round the mast.


Nigh upon the fiery noon,
Out of ranks a roaring burst.
'Ware white women like the moon!
They are poison: they have thirst
First for love, and next for rule.
Jealous of the army, she?
Ho, the little wanton fool!
We were his before she squealed
Blind for mother's milk, and heeled
Kicking on her mother's knee.
His in life and death are we:
She but one flower of a field.
We have given him bliss tenfold
In an hour to match her night:
Attila, my Attila!
Still her arms the master hold,
As on wounds the scarf winds tight.


Over Danube day no more,
Like the warrior's planted spear,
Stood to hail the King: in fear
Western day knocked at his door.
Attila, my Attila!
Sudden in the army's eyes
Rolled a blast of lights and cries:
Flashing through them: Dead are ye!
Dead, ye Huns, and torn piecemeal!
See the ordered army reel
Stricken through the ribs: and see,
Wild for speed to cheat despair,
Horsemen, clutching knee to chin,
Crouch and dart they know not where.
Attila, my Attila!
Faces covered, faces bare,
Light the palace-front like jets
Of a dreadful fire within.
Beating hands and driving hair
Start on roof and parapets.
Dust rolls up; the slaughter din.
- Death to them who call him dead!
Death to them who doubt the tale!
Choking in his dusty veil,
Sank the sun on his death-bed.
Make the bed for Attila!


'Tis the room where thunder sleeps.
Frenzy, as a wave to shore
Surging, burst the silent door,
And drew back to awful deeps
Breath beaten out, foam-white. Anew
Howled and pressed the ghastly crew,
Like storm-waters over rocks.
Attila, my Attila!
One long shaft of sunset red
Laid a finger on the bed.
Horror, with the snaky locks,
Shocked the surge to stiffened heaps,
Hoary as the glacier's head
Faced to the moon. Insane they look.
God it is in heaven who weeps
Fallen from his hand the Scourge he shook.
Make the bed for Attila!


Square along the couch, and stark,
Like the sea-rejected thing
Sea-sucked white, behold their King.
Attila, my Attila!
Beams that panted black and bright,
Scornful lightnings danced their sight:
Him they see an oak in bud,
Him an oaklog stripped of bark:
Him, their lord of day and night,
White, and lifting up his blood
Dumb for vengeance. Name us that,
Huddled in the corner dark
Humped and grinning like a cat,
Teeth for lips!--'tis she! she stares,
Glittering through her bristled hairs.
Rend her! Pierce her to the hilt!
She is Murder: have her out!
What! this little fist, as big
As the southern summer fig!
She is Madness, none may doubt.
Death, who dares deny her guilt!
Death, who says his blood she spilt!
Make the bed for Attila!


Torch and lamp and sunset-red
Fell three-fingered on the bed.
In the torch the beard-hair scant
With the great breast seemed to pant:
In the yellow lamp the limbs
Wavered, as the lake-flower swims:
In the sunset red the dead
Dead avowed him, dry blood-red.


Hatred of that abject slave,
Earth, was in each chieftain's heart.
Earth has got him, whom God gave,
Earth may sing, and earth shall smart!
Attila, my Attila!


Thus their prayer was raved and ceased.
Then had Vengeance of her feast
Scent in their quick pang to smite
Which they knew not, but huge pain
Urged them for some victim slain
Swift, and blotted from the sight.
Each at each, a crouching beast,
Glared, and quivered for the word.
Each at each, and all on that,
Humped and grinning like a cat,
Head-bound with its bridal-wreath.
Then the bitter chamber heard
Vengeance in a cauldron seethe.
Hurried counsel rage and craft
Yelped to hungry men, whose teeth
Hard the grey lip-ringlet gnawed,
Gleaming till their fury laughed.
With the steel-hilt in the clutch,
Eyes were shot on her that froze
In their blood-thirst overawed;
Burned to rend, yet feared to touch.
She that was his nuptial rose,
She was of his heart's blood clad:
Oh! the last of him she had! -
Could a little fist as big
As the southern summer fig,
Push a dagger's point to pierce
Ribs like those? Who else! They glared
Each at each. Suspicion fierce
Many a black remembrance bared.
Attila, my Attila!
Death, who dares deny her guilt!
Death, who says his blood she spilt!
Traitor he, who stands between!
Swift to hell, who harms the Queen!
She, the wild contention's cause,
Combed her hair with quiet paws.
Make the bed for Attila!


Night was on the host in arms.
Night, as never night before,
Hearkened to an army's roar
Breaking up in snaky swarms:
Torch and steel and snorting steed,
Hunted by the cry of blood,
Cursed with blindness, mad for day.
Where the torches ran a flood,
Tales of him and of the deed
Showered like a torrent spray.
Fear of silence made them strive
Loud in warrior-hymns that grew
Hoarse for slaughter yet unwreaked.
Ghostly Night across the hive,
With a crimson finger drew
Letters on her breast and shrieked.
Night was on them like the mould
On the buried half alive.
Night, their bloody Queen, her fold
Wound on them and struck them through.
Make the bed for Attila!


Earth has got him whom God gave,
Earth may sing, and earth shall smart!
None of earth shall know his grave.
They that dig with Death depart.
Attila, my Attila!


Thus their prayer was raved and passed:
Passed in peace their red sunset:
Hewn and earthed those men of sweat
Who had housed him in the vast,
Where no mortal might declare,
There lies he--his end was there!
Attila, my Attila!


Kingless was the army left:
Of its head the race bereft.
Every fury of the pit
Tortured and dismembered it.
Lo, upon a silent hour,
When the pitch of frost subsides,
Danube with a shout of power
Loosens his imprisoned tides:
Wide around the frighted plains
Shake to hear his riven chains,
Dreadfuller than heaven in wrath,
As he makes himself a path:
High leap the ice-cracks, towering pile
Floes to bergs, and giant peers
Wrestle on a drifted isle;
Island on ice-island rears;
Dissolution battles fast:
Big the senseless Titans loom,
Through a mist of common doom
Striving which shall die the last:
Till a gentle-breathing morn
Frees the stream from bank to bank.
So the Empire built of scorn
Agonized, dissolved and sank.
Of the Queen no more was told
Than of leaf on Danube rolled.
Make the bed for Attila!

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The Flower And The Leaf

When that Phebus his chaire of gold so hy
Had whirled up the sterry sky aloft,
And in the Bole was entred certainly;
Whan shoures swete of rain discended soft,
Causing the ground, felë tymes and oft,
Up for to give many an hoolsom air,
And every plain was [eek y-]clothed fair

With newe grene, and maketh smalë floures
To springen here and there in feld and mede;
So very good and hoolsom be the shoures
That it reneweth, that was old and deede
In winter-tyme; and out of every seede
Springeth the herbë, so that every wight
Of this sesoun wexeth [ful] glad and light.

And I, só glad of the seson swete,
Was happed thus upon a certain night;
As I lay in my bed, sleep ful unmete
Was unto me; but, why that I ne might
Rest, I ne wist; for there nas erthly wight,
As I suppose, had more hertës ese
Than I, for I n'ad siknesse nor disese.

Wherfore I mervail gretly of my-selve,
That I so long, withouten sleepë lay;
And up I roos, three houres after twelve,
About the [very] springing of the day,
And on I put my gere and myn array;
And to a plesaunt grovë I gan passe,
Long or the brightë sonne uprisen was,

In which were okës grete, streight as a lyne,
Under the which the gras, so fresh of hew,
Was newly spronge; and an eight foot or nyne
Every tree wel fro his felawe grew,
With braunches brode, laden with leves new,
That sprongen out ayein the sonnë shene,
Som very rede, and som a glad light grene;

Which, as me thought, was right a plesaunt sight.
And eek the briddes song[ës] for to here
Would have rejoised any erthly wight.
And I, that couth not yet, in no manere,
Here the nightingale of al the yere,
Ful busily herkned, with herte and ere,
If I her voice perceive coud any-where.

And at the last, a path of litel brede
I found, that gretly had not used be,
For it forgrowen was with gras and weede,
That wel unneth a wight [ther] might it see.
Thought I, this path som whider goth, pardè,
And so I folowèd, til it me brought
To right a plesaunt herber, wel y-wrought,

That benched was, and [al] with turves new
Freshly turved, wherof the grenë gras
So small, so thik, so short, so fresh of hew,
That most lyk to grene wol, wot I, it was.
The hegge also, that yede [as] in compas
And closed in al the grene herbere,
With sicamour was set and eglantere,

Writhen in-fere so wel and cunningly
That every braunch and leef grew by mesure,
Plain as a bord, of on height, by and by,
[That] I sy never thing, I you ensure,
So wel [y-]don; for he that took the cure
It [for] to make, I trow, did al his peyn
To make it passe al tho that men have seyn.

And shapen was this herber, roof and al,
As [is] a prety parlour, and also
The hegge as thik as [is] a castle-wal,
That, who that list without to stond or go,
Though he wold al-day pryen to and fro,
He shuld not see if there were any wight
Within or no; but oon within wel might

Perceive al tho that yeden there-without
In the feld, that was on every syde
Covered with corn and gras, that, out of dout,
Though oon wold seeken al the world wyde,
So rich a feld [ne] coud not be espyed
[Up]on no cost, as of the quantitee,
For of al good thing ther was [greet] plentee.

And I, that al this plesaunt sight [than] sy,
Thought sodainly I felt so sweet an air
[Come] of the eglantere, that certainly,
Ther is no hert, I deme, in such despair,
Ne with [no] thoughtës froward and contrair
So overlaid, but it shuld soone have bote,
If it had onës felt this savour sote.

And as I stood and cast asyde myn y,
I was ware of the fairest medle-tree
That ever yet in al my lyf I sy,
As full of blossomës as it might be.
Therin a goldfinch leping pretily
Fro bough to bough, and, as him list, he eet
Here and there, of buddes and floures sweet.

And to the herber-sydë was joining
This fairë tree, of which I have you told;
And, at the last, the brid began to sing,
Whan he had eten what he etë wold,
So passing sweetly, that, by manifold,
It was more plesaunt than I coud devyse;
And whan his song was ended in this wyse,

The nightingale with so mery a note
Answéred him, that al the wodë rong
So sodainly, that, as it were a sot,
I stood astonied; so was I with the song
Through ravishèd, that, [un]til late and long
Ne wist I in what place I was, ne where;
And ay, me thought, she song even by myn ere.

Wherfore about I waited busily
On every syde, if I her mightë see;
And, at the last, I gan ful wel aspy
Wher she sat in a fresh green laurer-tree
On the further syde, even right by me,
That gave so passing a delicious smel
According to the eglantere ful wel.

Wherof I had so inly greet plesyr
That, as me thought, I surely ravished was
Into Paradyse, where my desyr
Was for to be, and no ferther [to] passe
As for that day, and on the sotë gras
I sat me doun; for, as for myn entent,
The birdës song was more convenient,

And more plesaunt to me, by many fold,
Than mete or drink, or any other thing;
Thereto the herber was so fresh and cold,
The hoolsom savours eek so comforting
That, as I demed, sith the beginning
Of the world, was never seen, or than,
So plesaunt a ground of non erthly man.

And as I sat, the briddës herkning thus,
Me thought that I herd voices sodainly,
The most sweetest and most delicious
That ever any wight, I trow trewly,
Herde in his lyf, for [that] the armony
And sweet accord was in so good musyk,
Thát the voice to angels most was lyk.

At the last, out of a grove even by,
That was right goodly and plesaunt to sight,
I sy where there cam singing lustily
A world of ladies; but to tell aright
Their greet beautè, it lyth not in my might,
Ne their array; nevertheless, I shal
Tell you a part, though I speke not of al.

In surcotes whyte, of veluet wel sitting,
They were [y-]clad; and the semes echoon,
As it were a maner garnishing,
Was set with emeraudës, oon and oon,
By and by; but many a richë stoon
Was set [up-]on the purfils, out of dout,
Of colors, sleves, and trainës round about;

As gret[e] perlës, round and orient,
Diamondës fyne and rubies rede,
And many another stoon, of which I want
The namës now; and everich on her hede
A richë fret of gold, which, without drede,
Was ful of statly richë stonës set;
And every lady had a chapëlet

On her hede, of [leves] fresh and grene,
So wel [y-]wrought, and so mervéilously,
Thát it was a noble sight to sene;
Some of laurer, and some ful plesauntly
Had chapëlets of woodbind, and sadly
Some of agnus-castus ware also
Chápëlets fresh; but there were many tho

That daunced and eek song ful soberly;
But al they yede in maner of compas.
But oon ther yede in-mid the company.
Sole by her-self; but al folowed the pace
[Which] that she kept, whos hevenly-figured face
So plesaunt was, and her wel-shape persòn,
That of beautè she past hem everichon.

And more richly beseen, by manifold,
She was also, in every maner thing;
On her heed, ful plesaunt to behold,
A crowne of gold, rich for any king;
A braunch of agnus-castus eek bering
In her hand; and, to my sight, trewly,
She lady was of [al] the company.

And she began a roundel lustily,
That Sus le foyl de vert moy men call,
Seen, et mon joly cuer endormi;
And than the company answéred all
With voice[s] swete entuned and so small,
That me thought it the sweetest melody
That ever I herdë in my lyf, soothly.

And thus they came[n], dauncing and singing,
Into the middes of the mede echone,
Before the herber, where I was sitting,
And, god wot, me thought I was wel bigon;
For than I might avyse hem, on by on,
Who fairest was, who coud best dance or sing,
Or who most womanly was in al thing.

They had not daunced but a litel throw
When that I herd, not fer of, sodainly
So greet a noise of thundring trumpës blow,
As though it shuld have départed the sky;
And, after that, within a whyle I sy
From the same grove, where the ladyes come out,
Of men of armës coming such a rout

As al the men on erth had been assembled
In that place, wel horsed for the nones,
Stering so fast, that al the erth[ë] trembled;
But for to speke of riches and [of] stones,
And men and hors, I trow, the largë wones
Of Prester John, ne al his tresory
Might not unneth have bought the tenth party!

Of their array who-so list herë more,
I shal reherse, so as I can, a lyte.
Out of the grove, that I spak of before,
I sy come first, al in their clokes whyte,
A company, that ware, for their delyt,
Chapëlets fresh of okës cereal
Newly spronge, and trumpets they were al.

On every trumpe hanging a brood banere
Of fyn tartarium, were ful richly bete;
Every trumpet his lordës armës bere;
About their nekkës, with gret perlës set,
Colers brode; for cost they would not lete,
As it would seme; for their scochones echoon
Were set about with many a precious stoon.

Their hors-harneys was al whyte also;
And after hem next, in on company,
Cámë kingës of armës, and no mo,
In clokës of whyte cloth of gold, richly;
Chapelets of greene on their hedes on hy,
The crownës that they on their scochones bere
Were set with perlë, ruby, and saphere,

And eek gret diamondës many on;
But al their hors-harneys and other gere
Was in a sute according, everichon,
As ye have herd the foresayd trumpets were;
And, by seeming, they were nothing to lere;
And their gyding they did so manerly.
And after hem cam a greet company

Of heraudës and pursevauntës eke
Arrayed in clothës of whyt veluët;
And hardily, they were nothing to seke
How they [up]on hem shuld the harneys set;
And every man had on a chapëlet;
Scóchones and eke hors-harneys, indede,
They had in sute of hem that before hem yede.

Next after hem, came in armour bright,
Al save their hedes, seemely knightës nyne;
And every clasp and nail, as to my sight,
Of their harneys, were of red gold fyne;
With cloth of gold, and furred with ermyne
Were the trappurës of their stedës strong,
Wyde and large, that to the ground did hong;

And every bosse of brydel and peitrel
That they had, was worth, as I would wene,
A thousand pound; and on their hedës, wel
Dressed, were crownës [al] of laurer grene,
The best [y-]mad that ever I had seen;
And every knight had after him ryding
Three henshmen, [up]on him awaiting;

Of whiche the first, upon a short tronchoun,
His lordës helme[t] bar, so richly dight,
That the worst was worth[y] the raunsoun
Of a[ny] king; the second a sheld bright
Bar at his nekke; the thridde bar upright
A mighty spere, ful sharpe [y-]ground and kene;
And every child ware, of leves grene,

A fresh chapelet upon his heres bright;
And clokes whyte, of fyn veluet they ware;
Their stedës trapped and [a]rayed right
Without[en] difference, as their lordës were.
And after hem, on many a fresh co[u]rsere,
There came of armed knightës such a rout
That they besprad the largë feld about.

And al they ware[n], after their degrees,
Chapëlets new, made of laurer grene,
Some of oke, and some of other trees;
Some in their handës berë boughës shene,
Some of laurer, and some of okës kene,
Some of hawthorn, and some of woodbind,
And many mo, which I had not in mind.

And so they came, their hors freshly stering
With bloody sownës of hir trompës loud;
Ther sy I many an uncouth disgysing
In the array of these knightës proud;
And at the last, as evenly as they coud,
They took their places in-middes of the mede,
And every knight turned his horse[s] hede

To his felawe, and lightly laid a spere
In the [a]rest, and so justës began
On every part about[en], here and there;
Som brak his spere, som drew down hors and man;
About the feld astray the stedës ran;
And, to behold their rule and governaunce,
I you ensure, it was a greet plesaunce.

And so the justës last an houre and more;
But tho that crowned were in laurer grene
Wan the pryse; their dintës were so sore
That ther was non ayenst hem might sustene;
And [than] the justing al was left of clene;
And fro their hors the nine alight anon;
And so did al the remnant everichon.

And forth they yede togider, twain and twain,
That to behold, it was a worldly sight,
Toward the ladies on the grenë plain,
That song and daunced, as I sayd now right.
The ladies, as soone as they goodly might,
They breke[n] of both the song and dance,
And yede to mete hem, with ful glad semblance.

And every lady took, ful womanly,
the hond a knight, and forth they yede
Unto a fair laurer that stood fast by,
With levës lade, the boughës of gret brede;
And to my dome, there never was, indede,
[A] man that had seen half so fair a tree;
For underneth it there might wel have be

An hundred persons, at their own plesaunce,
Shadowed fro the hete of Phebus bright
So that they shuld have felt no [greet] grevaunce
Of rain, ne hail, that hem hurt[ë] might.
The savour eek rejoice would any wight
That had be sick or melancolious,
It was so very good and vertuous.

And with gret reverence they enclyned low
[Un]to the tree, so sote and fair of hew;
And after that, within a litel throw,
Bigonne they to sing and daunce of-new;
Some song of love, some playning of untrew,
Environing the tree that stood upright;
And ever yede a lady and a knight.

And at the last I cast myn eye asyde,
And was ware of a lusty company
That came, roming out of the feld wyde,
Hond in hond, a knight and a lady;
The ladies alle in surcotes, that richly
Purfyled were with many a riche stoon;
And every knight of greene ware mantles on,

Embrouded wel, so as the surcotes were,
And everich had a chapelet on her hede;
Which did right wel upon the shyning here,
Made of goodly floures, whyte and rede.
The knightës eke, that they in hond lede,
In sute of hem, ware chapelets everichon;
And hem before went minstrels many on,

As harpës, pypës, lutës, and sautry,
Al in greene; and on their hedës bare
Of dyvers flourës, mad ful craftily,
Al in a sute, goodly chapelets they ware;
And so, dauncing, into the mede they fare,
In-mid the which they found a tuft that was
Al oversprad with flourës in compas.

Where[un]to they enclyned everichon
With greet reverence, and that ful humblely;
And, at the last[ë], there began anon
A lady for to sing right womanly
A bargaret in praising the daisy;
For, as me thought, among her notës swete,
She sayd, 'Si doucë est la Margarete.'

Thén they al answéred her infere,
So passingly wel, and so plesauntly,
Thát it was a blisful noise to here.
But I not [how], it happed sodainly,
As, about noon, the sonne so fervently
Wex hoot, that [al] the prety tender floures
Had lost the beautè of hir fresh coloures,

For-shronk with hete; the ladies eek to-brent,
That they ne wist where they hem might bestow.
The knightës swelt, for lak of shade ny shent;
And after that, within a litel throw,
The wind began so sturdily to blow,
That down goth al the flourës everichon
So that in al the mede there laft not on,

Save suche as socoured were, among the leves,
Fro every storme, that might hem assail,
Growing under hegges and thikke greves;
And after that, there came a storm of hail
And rain in-fere, so that, withouten fail,
The ladies ne the knightës n'ade o threed
Drye [up]on hem, so dropping was hir weed.

And when the storm was clene passed away,
Tho [clad] in whyte, that stood under the tree,
They felt[ë] nothing of the grete affray,
That they in greene without had in y-be.
To hem they yedë for routh and pitè,
Hem to comfort after their greet disese;
So fain they were the helpless for to ese.

Then was I ware how oon of hem in grene
Had on a crown[ë], rich and wel sitting;
Wherfore I demed wel she was a quene,
And tho in greene on her were awaiting.
The ladies then in whyte that were coming
Toward[ës] hem, and the knightës in-fere
Began to comfort hem and make hem chere.

The quene in whyte, that was of grete beautè,
Took by the hond the queen that was in grene,
And said, 'Suster, I have right greet pitè
Of your annoy, and of the troublous tene
Wherein ye and your company have been
So long, alas! and, if that it you plese
To go with me, I shal do you the ese

In al the pleisir that I can or may.'
Wherof the tother, humbly as she might,
Thanked her; for in right ill aray
She was, with storm and hete, I you behight.
And every lady then, anon-right,
That were in whyte, oon of hem took in grene
By the hond; which when the knightes had seen,

In lyke wyse, ech of hem took a knight
Clad in grene, and forth with hem they fare
[Un]to an heggë, where they, anon-right,
To make their justës, [lo!] they would not spare
Boughës to hew down, and eek treës square,
Wherewith they made hem stately fyres grete
To dry their clothës that were wringing wete.

And after that, of herbës that there grew,
They made, for blisters of the sonne brenning,
Very good and hoolsom ointments new,
Where that they yede, the sick fast anointing;
And after that, they yede about gadring
Plesaunt saladës, which they made hem ete,
For to refresh their greet unkindly hete.

The lady of the Leef then gan to pray
Her of the Flour, (for so to my seeming
They should[ë] be, as by their [quaint] array),
To soupe with her; and eek, for any thing,
That she should with her al her people bring.
And she ayein, in right goodly manere,
Thanketh her of her most freendly chere,

Saying plainly, that she would obey
With al her hert al her commaundëment.
And then anon, without lenger delay,
The lady of the Leef hath oon y-sent
For a palfray, [as] after her intent,
Arayed wel and fair in harneys of gold,
For nothing lakked, that to him long shold.

And after that, to al her company
She made to purvey hors and every thing
That they needed; and then, ful lustily,
Even by the herber where I was sitting,
They passed al, so plesantly singing,
That it would have comfórted any wight;
But then I sy a passing wonder sight:—

For then the nightingale, that al the day
Had in the laurer sete, and did her might
The hool servyse to sing longing to May,
Al sodainly [be]gan to take her flight;
And to the lady of the Leef forthright
She flew, and set her on her hond softly,
Which was a thing I marveled of gretly.

The goldfinch eek, that fro the medle-tree
Was fled, for hete, into the bushes cold,
Unto the lady of the Flour gan flee,
And on her hond he set him, as he wold,
And plesantly his wingës gan to fold;
And for to sing they pained hem both as sore
As they had do of al the day before.

And so these ladies rood forth a gret pace,
And al the rout of knightës eek in-fere;
And I, that had seen al this wonder case,
Thought [that] I would assay, in some manere,
To know fully the trouth of this matere,
And what they were that rood so plesantly.
And, when they were the herber passed by,

I drest me forth, and happed to mete anon
Right a fair lady, I you ensure;
And she cam ryding by herself aloon,
Al in whyte, with semblance ful demure.
I salued her, and bad good aventure
Might her befall, as I coud most humbly;
And she answered, 'My doughter, gramercy!'

'Madam,' quod I, 'if that I durst enquere
Of you, I wold fain, of that company,
Wit what they be that past by this herbere?'
And she ayein answéred right freendly:
'My fair daughter, al tho that passed hereby
In whyte clothing, be servants everichoon
Unto the Leef, and I my-self am oon.

See ye not her that crowned is,' quod she,
'Al in whyte?' 'Madamë,' quod I, 'yis!'
'That is Diane, goddesse of chastitè;
And, for bicause that she a maiden is,
In her hond the braunch she bereth, this
That agnus-castus men call properly;
And alle the ladies in her company

Which ye see of that herb[ë] chaplets were,
Be such as han kept ay hir maidenhede;
And al they that of laurer chaplets bere
Be such as hardy were and wan, indede,
Victorious name which never may be dede.
And al they were so worthy of hir hond,
[As] in hir tyme, that non might hem withstond.

And tho that werë chapelets on hir hede
Of fresh woodbind, be such as never were
To love untrew in word, [ne] thought, ne dede,
But ay stedfast; ne for plesaunce, ne fere,
Though that they shuld hir hertës al to-tere,
Would never flit, but ever were stedfast,
Til that their lyves there asunder brast.'

'Now, fair madam,' quod I, 'yet I would pray
Your ladiship, if that it might be,
That I might know[ë], by some maner way,
Sith that it hath [y-]lyked your beautè,
The trouth of these ladies for to tel me;
What that these knightës be, in rich armour;
And what tho be in grene, and were the flour;

And why that some did reverence to the tree,
And some unto the plot of flourës fair?'
'With right good wil, my fair doughter,' quod she,
'Sith your desyr is good and debonair.
Tho nine, crownèd, be very exemplair
Of all honour longing to chivalry,
And those, certain, be called the Nine Worthy,

Which ye may see [here] ryding al before,
That in hir tyme did many a noble dede,
And, for their worthines, ful oft have bore
The crowne of laurer-leves on their hede,
As ye may in your old[ë] bokes rede;
And how that he, that was a conquerour,
Had by laurer alway his most honour.

And tho that bere boughës in their hond
Of the precious laurer so notáble,
Be such as were, I wol ye understond,
Noble knightës of the Round[ë] Table,
And eek the Douseperes honourable;
Which they bere in signe of victory,
As witness of their dedes mightily.

Eek there be knightës olde of the Garter,
That in hir tyme did right worthily;
And the honour they did to the laurer
Is, for by [it] they have their laud hoolly,
Their triumph eek, and martial glory;
Which unto hem is more parfyt richesse
Than any wight imagine can or gesse.

For oon leef given of that noble tree
To any wight that hath don worthily,
And it be doon so as it ought to be,
Is more honour then any thing erthly.
Witnesse of Rome that founder was, truly,
Of all knighthood and dedës marvelous;
Record I take of Titus Livius.

And as for her that crowned is in greene,
It is Flora, of these flourës goddesse;
And al that here on her awaiting been,
It are such [folk] that loved idlenes,
And not delyte [had] of no busines
But for to hunt and hauke, and pley in medes,
And many other such [lyk] idle dedes.

And for the greet delyt and [the] plesaunce
They have [un]to the flour, so reverently
They unto it do such [gret] obeisaunce,
As ye may see.' 'Now, fair madame,' quod I,
'If I durst ask what is the cause and why
That knightës have the signe of [al] honour
Rather by the Leef than by the Flour?'

'Sothly, doughter,' quod she, 'this is the trouth:
For knightës ever should be persévering,
To seeke honour without feintyse or slouth,
Fro wele to better, in al maner thing;
In signe of which, with Levës ay lasting
They be rewarded after their degree,
Whos lusty grene may not appeired be,

But ay keping hir beautè fresh and greene;
For there nis storm [non] that may hem deface,
Hail nor snow, wind nor frostës kene;
Wherfore they have this propertè and grace.
And for the Flour within a litel space
Wol be [y-]lost, so simple of nature
They be, that they no grevance may endure,

And every storm wil blow hem sone away,
Ne they last not but [as] for a sesoun,
That is the cause, the very trouth to say,
That they may not, by no way of resoun,
Be put to no such occupacioun.'
'Madame,' quod I, 'with al my hool servyse
I thank you now, in my most humble wyse.

For now I am acértainèd throughly
Of every thing I désired to know.'
'I am right glad that I have said, sothly,
Ought to your pleysir, if ye wil me trow,'
Quod she ayein, 'but to whom do ye ow
Your servyce? and which wil ye honour,
Tel me, I pray, this yeer, the Leef or Flour?'

'Madame,' quod I, 'though I [be] leest worthy,
Unto the Leef I ow myn observaunce.'
'That is,' quod she, 'right wel don, certainly,
And I pray god to honour you avaunce,
And kepe you fro the wikked rémembraunce
Of Male-Bouche, and al his crueltè;
And alle that good and wel-condicioned be.

For here may I no lenger now abyde,
I must folowe the gret[ë] company
That ye may see yonder before you ryde.'
And forth[right], as I couth, most humblely,
I took my leve of her as she gan hy
After hem, as fast as ever she might;
And I drow hoomward, for it was nigh night;

And put al that I had seen in wryting,
Under support of hem that lust it rede.
O litel book, thou art so unconning,
How darst thou put thy-self in prees for drede?
It is wonder that thou wexest not rede,
Sith that thou wost ful lyte who shal behold
Thy rude langage, ful boistously unfold.


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Geoffrey Chaucer

The Squire's Tale

'HEY! Godde's mercy!' said our Hoste tho,* *then
'Now such a wife I pray God keep me fro'.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilities
In women be; for aye as busy as bees
Are they us silly men for to deceive,
And from the soothe* will they ever weive,** *truth **swerve, depart
As this Merchante's tale it proveth well.
But natheless, as true as any steel,
I have a wife, though that she poore be;
But of her tongue a labbing* shrew is she; *chattering
And yet* she hath a heap of vices mo'. *moreover
Thereof *no force;* let all such thinges go. *no matter*
But wit* ye what? in counsel** be it said, *know **secret, confidence
Me rueth sore I am unto her tied;
For, an'* I shoulde reckon every vice *if
Which that she hath, y-wis* I were too nice;** *certainly **foolish
And cause why, it should reported be
And told her by some of this company
(By whom, it needeth not for to declare,
Since women connen utter such chaffare ),
And eke my wit sufficeth not thereto
To tellen all; wherefore my tale is do.* *done
Squier, come near, if it your wille be,
And say somewhat of love, for certes ye
*Conne thereon* as much as any man.' *know about it*
'Nay, Sir,' quoth he; 'but such thing as I can,
With hearty will, - for I will not rebel
Against your lust,* - a tale will I tell. *pleasure
Have me excused if I speak amiss;
My will is good; and lo, my tale is this.'

At Sarra, in the land of Tartary,
There dwelt a king that warrayed* Russie, *made war on
Through which there died many a doughty man;
This noble king was called Cambuscan,
Which in his time was of so great renown,
That there was nowhere in no regioun
So excellent a lord in alle thing:
Him lacked nought that longeth to a king,
As of the sect of which that he was born.
He kept his law to which he was y-sworn,
And thereto* he was hardy, wise, and rich, *moreover, besides
And piteous and just, always y-lich;* *alike, even-tempered
True of his word, benign and honourable;
*Of his corage as any centre stable;* *firm, immovable of spirit*
Young, fresh, and strong, in armes desirous
As any bachelor of all his house.
A fair person he was, and fortunate,
And kept alway so well his royal estate,
That there was nowhere such another man.
This noble king, this Tartar Cambuscan,
Hadde two sons by Elfeta his wife,
Of which the eldest highte Algarsife,
The other was y-called Camballo.
A daughter had this worthy king also,
That youngest was, and highte Canace:
But for to telle you all her beauty,
It lies not in my tongue, nor my conning;* *skill
I dare not undertake so high a thing:
Mine English eke is insufficient,
It muste be a rhetor* excellent, *orator
*That couth his colours longing for that art,* * see *
If he should her describen any part;
I am none such, I must speak as I can.

And so befell, that when this Cambuscan
Had twenty winters borne his diadem,
As he was wont from year to year, I deem,
He let *the feast of his nativity* *his birthday party*
*Do crye,* throughout Sarra his city, *be proclaimed*
The last Idus of March, after the year.
Phoebus the sun full jolly was and clear,
For he was nigh his exaltation
In Marte's face, and in his mansion
In Aries, the choleric hot sign:
Full lusty* was the weather and benign; *pleasant
For which the fowls against the sunne sheen,* *bright
What for the season and the younge green,
Full loude sange their affections:
Them seemed to have got protections
Against the sword of winter keen and cold.
This Cambuscan, of which I have you told,
In royal vesture, sat upon his dais,
With diadem, full high in his palace;
And held his feast so solemn and so rich,
That in this worlde was there none it lich.* *like
Of which if I should tell all the array,
Then would it occupy a summer's day;
And eke it needeth not for to devise* *describe
At every course the order of service.
I will not tellen of their strange sewes,* *dishes
Nor of their swannes, nor their heronsews.* *young herons
Eke in that land, as telle knightes old,
There is some meat that is full dainty hold,
That in this land men *reck of* it full small: *care for*
There is no man that may reporten all.
I will not tarry you, for it is prime,
And for it is no fruit, but loss of time;
Unto my purpose* I will have recourse. *story
And so befell that, after the third course,
While that this king sat thus in his nobley,* *noble array
Hearing his ministreles their thinges play
Before him at his board deliciously,
In at the halle door all suddenly
There came a knight upon a steed of brass,
And in his hand a broad mirror of glass;
Upon his thumb he had of gold a ring,
And by his side a naked sword hanging:
And up he rode unto the highe board.
In all the hall was there not spoke a word,
For marvel of this knight; him to behold
Full busily they waited,* young and old. *watched

This strange knight, that came thus suddenly,
All armed, save his head, full richely,
Saluted king, and queen, and lordes all,
By order as they satten in the hall,
With so high reverence and observance,
As well in speech as in his countenance,
That Gawain with his olde courtesy,
Though he were come again out of Faerie,
Him *coulde not amende with a word.* *could not better him
And after this, before the highe board, by one word*
He with a manly voice said his message,
After the form used in his language,
Withoute vice* of syllable or letter. *fault
And, for his tale shoulde seem the better,
Accordant to his worde's was his cheer,* *demeanour
As teacheth art of speech them that it lear.* *learn
Albeit that I cannot sound his style,
Nor cannot climb over so high a stile,
Yet say I this, as to *commune intent,* *general sense or meaning*
*Thus much amounteth* all that ever he meant, *this is the sum of*
If it so be that I have it in mind.
He said; 'The king of Araby and Ind,
My liege lord, on this solemne day
Saluteth you as he best can and may,
And sendeth you, in honour of your feast,
By me, that am all ready at your hest,* *command
This steed of brass, that easily and well
Can in the space of one day naturel
(This is to say, in four-and-twenty hours),
Whereso you list, in drought or else in show'rs,
Beare your body into every place
To which your hearte willeth for to pace,* *pass, go
Withoute wem* of you, through foul or fair. *hurt, injury
Or if you list to fly as high in air
As doth an eagle, when him list to soar,
This same steed shall bear you evermore
Withoute harm, till ye be where *you lest* *it pleases you*
(Though that ye sleepen on his back, or rest),
And turn again, with writhing* of a pin. *twisting
He that it wrought, he coude* many a gin;** *knew **contrivance
He waited* in any a constellation, *observed
Ere he had done this operation,
And knew full many a seal and many a bond
This mirror eke, that I have in mine hond,
Hath such a might, that men may in it see
When there shall fall any adversity
Unto your realm, or to yourself also,
And openly who is your friend or foe.
And over all this, if any lady bright
Hath set her heart on any manner wight,
If he be false, she shall his treason see,
His newe love, and all his subtlety,
So openly that there shall nothing hide.
Wherefore, against this lusty summer-tide,
This mirror, and this ring that ye may see,
He hath sent to my lady Canace,
Your excellente daughter that is here.
The virtue of this ring, if ye will hear,
Is this, that if her list it for to wear
Upon her thumb, or in her purse it bear,
There is no fowl that flyeth under heaven,
That she shall not well understand his steven,* *speech, sound
And know his meaning openly and plain,
And answer him in his language again:
And every grass that groweth upon root
She shall eke know, to whom it will do boot,* *remedy
All be his woundes ne'er so deep and wide.
This naked sword, that hangeth by my side,
Such virtue hath, that what man that it smite,
Throughout his armour it will carve and bite,
Were it as thick as is a branched oak:
And what man is y-wounded with the stroke
Shall ne'er be whole, till that you list, of grace,
To stroke him with the flat in thilke* place *the same
Where he is hurt; this is as much to sayn,
Ye muste with the flatte sword again
Stroke him upon the wound, and it will close.
This is the very sooth, withoute glose;* *deceit
It faileth not, while it is in your hold.'

And when this knight had thus his tale told,
He rode out of the hall, and down he light.
His steede, which that shone as sunne bright,
Stood in the court as still as any stone.
The knight is to his chamber led anon,
And is unarmed, and to meat y-set.* *seated
These presents be full richely y-fet,* - *fetched
This is to say, the sword and the mirrour, -
And borne anon into the highe tow'r,
With certain officers ordain'd therefor;
And unto Canace the ring is bore
Solemnely, where she sat at the table;
But sickerly, withouten any fable,
The horse of brass, that may not be remued.* *removed
It stood as it were to the ground y-glued;
There may no man out of the place it drive
For no engine of windlass or polive; * *pulley
And cause why, for they *can not the craft;* *know not the cunning
And therefore in the place they have it laft, of the mechanism*
Till that the knight hath taught them the mannere
To voide* him, as ye shall after hear. *remove

Great was the press, that swarmed to and fro
To gauren* on this horse that stoode so: *gaze
For it so high was, and so broad and long,
So well proportioned for to be strong,
Right as it were a steed of Lombardy;
Therewith so horsely, and so quick of eye,
As it a gentle Poileis courser were:
For certes, from his tail unto his ear
Nature nor art ne could him not amend
In no degree, as all the people wend.* *weened, thought
But evermore their moste wonder was
How that it coulde go, and was of brass;
It was of Faerie, as the people seem'd.
Diverse folk diversely they deem'd;
As many heads, as many wittes been.
They murmured, as doth a swarm of been,* *bees
And made skills* after their fantasies, *reasons
Rehearsing of the olde poetries,
And said that it was like the Pegasee,* *Pegasus
The horse that hadde winges for to flee;* *fly
Or else it was the Greeke's horse Sinon,
That broughte Troye to destruction,
As men may in the olde gestes* read. *tales of adventures
Mine heart,' quoth one, 'is evermore in dread;
I trow some men of armes be therein,
That shape* them this city for to win: *design, prepare
It were right good that all such thing were know.'
Another rowned* to his fellow low, *whispered
And said, 'He lies; for it is rather like
An apparence made by some magic,
As jugglers playen at these feastes great.'
Of sundry doubts they jangle thus and treat.
As lewed* people deeme commonly *ignorant
Of thinges that be made more subtilly
Than they can in their lewdness comprehend;
They *deeme gladly to the badder end.* *are ready to think
And some of them wonder'd on the mirrour, the worst*
That borne was up into the master* tow'r, *chief
How men might in it suche thinges see.
Another answer'd and said, it might well be
Naturally by compositions
Of angles, and of sly reflections;
And saide that in Rome was such a one.
They speak of Alhazen and Vitellon,
And Aristotle, that wrote in their lives
Of quainte* mirrors, and of prospectives, *curious
As knowe they that have their bookes heard.
And other folk have wonder'd on the swerd,* *sword
That woulde pierce throughout every thing;
And fell in speech of Telephus the king,
And of Achilles for his quainte spear,
For he could with it bothe heal and dere,* *wound
Right in such wise as men may with the swerd
Of which right now ye have yourselves heard.
They spake of sundry hard'ning of metal,
And spake of medicines therewithal,
And how, and when, it shoulde harden'd be,
Which is unknowen algate* unto me. *however
Then spake they of Canacee's ring,
And saiden all, that such a wondrous thing
Of craft of rings heard they never none,
Save that he, Moses, and King Solomon,
Hadden *a name of conning* in such art. *a reputation for
Thus said the people, and drew them apart. knowledge*
Put natheless some saide that it was
Wonder to maken of fern ashes glass,
And yet is glass nought like ashes of fern;
*But for* they have y-knowen it so ferne** *because **before
Therefore ceaseth their jangling and their wonder.
As sore wonder some on cause of thunder,
On ebb and flood, on gossamer and mist,
And on all things, till that the cause is wist.* *known
Thus jangle they, and deemen and devise,
Till that the king gan from his board arise.

Phoebus had left the angle meridional,
And yet ascending was the beast royal,
The gentle Lion, with his Aldrian,
When that this Tartar king, this Cambuscan,
Rose from the board, there as he sat full high
Before him went the loude minstrelsy,
Till he came to his chamber of parements,
There as they sounded diverse instruments,
That it was like a heaven for to hear.
Now danced lusty Venus' children dear:
For in the Fish* their lady sat full *Pisces
And looked on them with a friendly eye.
This noble king is set upon his throne;
This strange knight is fetched to him full sone,* *soon
And on the dance he goes with Canace.
Here is the revel and the jollity,
That is not able a dull man to devise:* *describe
He must have knowen love and his service,
And been a feastly* man, as fresh as May, *merry, gay
That shoulde you devise such array.
Who coulde telle you the form of dances
So uncouth,* and so freshe countenances** *unfamliar **gestures
Such subtle lookings and dissimulances,
For dread of jealous men's apperceivings?
No man but Launcelot, and he is dead.
Therefore I pass o'er all this lustihead* *pleasantness
I say no more, but in this jolliness
I leave them, till to supper men them dress.
The steward bids the spices for to hie* *haste
And eke the wine, in all this melody;
The ushers and the squiers be y-gone,
The spices and the wine is come anon;
They eat and drink, and when this hath an end,
Unto the temple, as reason was, they wend;
The service done, they suppen all by day
What needeth you rehearse their array?
Each man wot well, that at a kinge's feast
Is plenty, to the most*, and to the least, *highest
And dainties more than be in my knowing.

At after supper went this noble king
To see the horse of brass, with all a rout
Of lordes and of ladies him about.
Such wond'ring was there on this horse of brass,
That, since the great siege of Troye was,
There as men wonder'd on a horse also,
Ne'er was there such a wond'ring as was tho.* *there
But finally the king asked the knight
The virtue of this courser, and the might,
And prayed him to tell his governance.* *mode of managing him
The horse anon began to trip and dance,
When that the knight laid hand upon his rein,
And saide, 'Sir, there is no more to sayn,
But when you list to riden anywhere,
Ye muste trill* a pin, stands in his ear, *turn
Which I shall telle you betwixt us two;
Ye muste name him to what place also,
Or to what country that you list to ride.
And when ye come where you list abide,
Bid him descend, and trill another pin
(For therein lies th' effect of all the gin*), *contrivance
And he will down descend and do your will,
And in that place he will abide still;
Though all the world had the contrary swore,
He shall not thence be throwen nor be bore.
Or, if you list to bid him thennes gon,
Trill this pin, and he will vanish anon
Out of the sight of every manner wight,
And come again, be it by day or night,
When that you list to clepe* him again *call
In such a guise, as I shall to you sayn
Betwixte you and me, and that full soon.
Ride when you list, there is no more to do'n.'
Informed when the king was of the knight,
And had conceived in his wit aright
The manner and the form of all this thing,
Full glad and blithe, this noble doughty king
Repaired to his revel as beforn.
The bridle is into the tower borne,
And kept among his jewels lefe* and dear; *cherished
The horse vanish'd, I n'ot* in what mannere, *know not
Out of their sight; ye get no more of me:
But thus I leave in lust and jollity
This Cambuscan his lordes feastying,* *entertaining
Until well nigh the day began to spring.

*Pars Secunda.* *Second Part*

The norice* of digestion, the sleep, *nurse
Gan on them wink, and bade them take keep,* *heed
That muche mirth and labour will have rest.
And with a gaping* mouth he all them kest,** *yawning **kissed
And said, that it was time to lie down,
For blood was in his dominatioun:
'Cherish the blood, nature's friend,' quoth he.
They thanked him gaping, by two and three;
And every wight gan draw him to his rest;
As sleep them bade, they took it for the best.
Their dreames shall not now be told for me;
Full are their heades of fumosity,
That caused dreams *of which there is no charge:* *of no significance*
They slepte; till that, it was *prime large,* *late morning*
The moste part, but* it was Canace; *except
She was full measurable,* as women be: *moderate
For of her father had she ta'en her leave
To go to rest, soon after it was eve;
Her liste not appalled* for to be; *to look pale
Nor on the morrow *unfeastly for to see;* *to look sad, depressed*
And slept her firste sleep; and then awoke.
For such a joy she in her hearte took
Both of her quainte a ring and her mirrour,.
That twenty times she changed her colour;
And in her sleep, right for th' impression
Of her mirror, she had a vision.
Wherefore, ere that the sunne gan up glide,
She call'd upon her mistress'* her beside, *governesses
And saide, that her liste for to rise.

These olde women, that be gladly wise
As are her mistresses answer'd anon,
And said; 'Madame, whither will ye gon
Thus early? for the folk be all in rest.'
'I will,' quoth she, 'arise; for me lest
No longer for to sleep, and walk about.'
Her mistresses call'd women a great rout,
And up they rose, well a ten or twelve;
Up rose freshe Canace herselve,
As ruddy and bright as is the yonnge sun
That in the Ram is four degrees y-run;
No higher was he, when she ready was;
And forth she walked easily a pace,
Array'd after the lusty* season swoot,** *pleasant **sweet
Lightely for to play, and walk on foot,
Nought but with five or six of her meinie;
And in a trench* forth in the park went she. *sunken path
The vapour, which up from the earthe glode,* *glided
Made the sun to seem ruddy and broad:
But, natheless, it was so fair a sight
That it made all their heartes for to light,* *be lightened, glad
What for the season and the morrowning,
And for the fowles that she hearde sing.
For right anon she wiste* what they meant *knew
Right by their song, and knew all their intent.
The knotte,* why that every tale is told, *nucleus, chief matter
If it be tarried* till the list* be cold *delayed **inclination
Of them that have it hearken'd *after yore,* *for a long time*
The savour passeth ever longer more;
For fulsomness of the prolixity:
And by that same reason thinketh me.
I shoulde unto the knotte condescend,
And maken of her walking soon an end.

Amid a tree fordry*, as white as chalk, *thoroughly dried up
There sat a falcon o'er her head full high,
That with a piteous voice so gan to cry;
That all the wood resounded of her cry,
And beat she had herself so piteously
With both her winges, till the redde blood
Ran endelong* the tree, there as she stood *from top to bottom
And ever-in-one* alway she cried and shright;** *incessantly **shrieked
And with her beak herselfe she so pight,* *wounded
That there is no tiger, nor cruel beast,
That dwelleth either in wood or in forest;
But would have wept, if that he weepe could,
For sorrow of her; she shriek'd alway so loud.
For there was never yet no man alive,
If that he could a falcon well descrive;* *describe
That heard of such another of fairness
As well of plumage, as of gentleness;
Of shape, of all that mighte reckon'd be.
A falcon peregrine seemed she,
Of fremde* land; and ever as she stood *foreign
She swooned now and now for lack of blood;
Till well-nigh is she fallen from the tree.

This faire kinge's daughter Canace,
That on her finger bare the quainte ring,
Through which she understood well every thing
That any fowl may in his leden* sayn, **language
And could him answer in his leden again;
Hath understoode what this falcon said,
And well-nigh for the ruth* almost she died;. *pity
And to the tree she went, full hastily,
And on this falcon looked piteously;
And held her lap abroad; for well she wist
The falcon muste falle from the twist* *twig, bough
When that she swooned next, for lack of blood.
A longe while to waite her she stood;
Till at the last she apake in this mannere
Unto the hawk, as ye shall after hear:
'What is the cause, if it be for to tell,
That ye be in this furial* pain of hell?' *raging, furious
Quoth Canace unto this hawk above;
'Is this for sorrow of of death; or loss of love?
For; as I trow,* these be the causes two; *believe
That cause most a gentle hearte woe:
Of other harm it needeth not to speak.
For ye yourself upon yourself awreak;* *inflict
Which proveth well, that either ire or dread* *fear
Must be occasion of your cruel deed,
Since that I see none other wight you chase:
For love of God, as *do yourselfe grace;* *have mercy on
Or what may be your help? for, west nor east, yourself*
I never saw ere now no bird nor beast
That fared with himself so piteously
Ye slay me with your sorrow verily;
I have of you so great compassioun.
For Godde's love come from the tree adown
And, as I am a kinge's daughter true,
If that I verily the causes knew
Of your disease,* if it lay in my might, *distress
I would amend it, ere that it were night,
So wisly help me the great God of kind.** *surely **nature
And herbes shall I right enoughe find,
To heale with your hurtes hastily.'
Then shriek'd this falcon yet more piteously
Than ever she did, and fell to ground anon,
And lay aswoon, as dead as lies a stone,
Till Canace had in her lap her take,
Unto that time she gan of swoon awake:
And, after that she out of swoon abraid,* *awoke
Right in her hawke's leden thus she said:

'That pity runneth soon in gentle heart
(Feeling his simil'tude in paines smart),
Is proved every day, as men may see,
As well *by work as by authority;* *by experience as by doctrine*
For gentle hearte kitheth* gentleness. *sheweth
I see well, that ye have on my distress
Compassion, my faire Canace,
Of very womanly benignity
That nature in your princples hath set.
But for no hope for to fare the bet,* *better
But for t' obey unto your hearte free,
And for to make others aware by me,
As by the whelp chastis'd* is the lion, *instructed, corrected
Right for that cause and that conclusion,
While that I have a leisure and a space,
Mine harm I will confessen ere I pace.'* *depart
And ever while the one her sorrow told,
The other wept, *as she to water wo'ld,* *as if she would dissolve
Till that the falcon bade her to be still, into water*
And with a sigh right thus she said *her till:* *to her*
'Where I was bred (alas that ilke* day!) *same
And foster'd in a rock of marble gray
So tenderly, that nothing ailed me,
I wiste* not what was adversity, *knew
Till I could flee* full high under the sky. *fly
Then dwell'd a tercelet me faste by,
That seem'd a well of alle gentleness;
*All were he* full of treason and falseness, *although he was*
It was so wrapped *under humble cheer,* *under an aspect
And under hue of truth, in such mannere, of humility*
Under pleasance, and under busy pain,
That no wight weened that he coulde feign,
So deep in grain he dyed his colours.
Right as a serpent hides him under flow'rs,
Till he may see his time for to bite,
Right so this god of love's hypocrite
Did so his ceremonies and obeisances,
And kept in semblance all his observances,
That *sounden unto* gentleness of love. *are consonant to*
As on a tomb is all the fair above,
And under is the corpse, which that ye wet,
Such was this hypocrite, both cold and hot;
And in this wise he served his intent,
That, save the fiend, none wiste what he meant:
Till he so long had weeped and complain'd,
And many a year his service to me feign'd,
Till that mine heart, too piteous and too nice,* *foolish, simple
All innocent of his crowned malice,
*Forfeared of his death,* as thoughte me, *greatly afraid lest
Upon his oathes and his surety he should die*
Granted him love, on this conditioun,
That evermore mine honour and renown
Were saved, bothe *privy and apert;* *privately and in public*
This is to say, that, after his desert,
I gave him all my heart and all my thought
(God wot, and he, that *other wayes nought*), *in no other way*
And took his heart in change of mine for aye.
But sooth is said, gone since many a day,
A true wight and a thiefe *think not one.* *do not think alike*
And when he saw the thing so far y-gone,
That I had granted him fully my love,
In such a wise as I have said above,
And given him my true heart as free
As he swore that he gave his heart to me,
Anon this tiger, full of doubleness,
Fell on his knees with so great humbleness,
With so high reverence, as by his cheer,* *mien
So like a gentle lover in mannere,
So ravish'd, as it seemed, for the joy,
That never Jason, nor Paris of Troy, -
Jason? certes, nor ever other man,
Since Lamech was, that alderfirst* began *first of all
To love two, as write folk beforn,
Nor ever since the firste man was born,
Coulde no man, by twenty thousand
Counterfeit the sophimes* of his art; *sophistries, beguilements
Where doubleness of feigning should approach,
Nor worthy were t'unbuckle his galoche,* *shoe
Nor could so thank a wight, as he did me.
His manner was a heaven for to see
To any woman, were she ne'er so wise;
So painted he and kempt,* *at point devise,* *combed, studied
As well his wordes as his countenance. *with perfect precision*
And I so lov'd him for his obeisance,
And for the truth I deemed in his heart,
That, if so were that any thing him smart,* *pained
All were it ne'er so lite,* and I it wist, *little
Methought I felt death at my hearte twist.
And shortly, so farforth this thing is went,* *gone
That my will was his wille's instrument;
That is to say, my will obey'd his will
In alle thing, as far as reason fill,* *fell; allowed
Keeping the boundes of my worship ever;
And never had I thing *so lefe, or lever,* *so dear, or dearer*
As him, God wot, nor never shall no mo'.

'This lasted longer than a year or two,
That I supposed of him naught but good.
But finally, thus at the last it stood,
That fortune woulde that he muste twin* *depart, separate
Out of that place which that I was in.
Whe'er* me was woe, it is no question; *whether
I cannot make of it description.
For one thing dare I telle boldely,
I know what is the pain of death thereby;
Such harm I felt, for he might not byleve.* *stay
So on a day of me he took his leave,
So sorrowful eke, that I ween'd verily,
That he had felt as muche harm as I,
When that I heard him speak, and saw his hue.
But natheless, I thought he was so true,
And eke that he repaire should again
Within a little while, sooth to sayn,
And reason would eke that he muste go
For his honour, as often happ'neth so,
That I made virtue of necessity,
And took it well, since that it muste be.
As I best might, I hid from him my sorrow,
And took him by the hand, Saint John to borrow,* *witness, pledge
And said him thus; 'Lo, I am youres all;
Be such as I have been to you, and shall.'
What he answer'd, it needs not to rehearse;
Who can say bet* than he, who can do worse? *better
When he had all well said, then had he done.
Therefore behoveth him a full long spoon,
That shall eat with a fiend; thus heard I say.
So at the last he muste forth his way,
And forth he flew, till he came where him lest.
When it came him to purpose for to rest,
I trow that he had thilke text in mind,
That alle thing repairing to his kind
Gladdeth himself; thus say men, as I guess;
*Men love of [proper] kind newfangleness,* *see note *
As birdes do, that men in cages feed.
For though thou night and day take of them heed,
And strew their cage fair and soft as silk,
And give them sugar, honey, bread, and milk,
Yet, *right anon as that his door is up,* *immediately on his
He with his feet will spurne down his cup, door being opened*
And to the wood he will, and wormes eat;
So newefangle be they of their meat,
And love novelties, of proper kind;
No gentleness of bloode may them bind.
So far'd this tercelet, alas the day!
Though he were gentle born, and fresh, and gay,
And goodly for to see, and humble, and free,
He saw upon a time a kite flee,* *fly
And suddenly he loved this kite so,
That all his love is clean from me y-go:
And hath his trothe falsed in this wise.
Thus hath the kite my love in her service,
And I am lorn* withoute remedy.' *lost, undone

And with that word this falcon gan to cry,
And swooned eft* in Canacee's barme** *again **lap
Great was the sorrow, for that hawke's harm,
That Canace and all her women made;
They wist not how they might the falcon glade.* *gladden
But Canace home bare her in her lap,
And softely in plasters gan her wrap,
There as she with her beak had hurt herselve.
Now cannot Canace but herbes delve
Out of the ground, and make salves new
Of herbes precious and fine of hue,
To heale with this hawk; from day to night
She did her business, and all her might.
And by her bedde's head she made a mew,* *bird cage
And cover'd it with velouettes* blue, *velvets
In sign of truth that is in woman seen;
And all without the mew is painted green,
In which were painted all these false fowls,
As be these tidifes,* tercelets, and owls; *titmice
And pies, on them for to cry and chide,
Right for despite were painted them beside.

Thus leave I Canace her hawk keeping.
I will no more as now speak of her ring,
Till it come eft* to purpose for to sayn *again
How that this falcon got her love again
Repentant, as the story telleth us,
By mediation of Camballus,
The kinge's son of which that I you told.
But henceforth I will my process hold
To speak of aventures, and of battailes,
That yet was never heard so great marvailles.
First I will telle you of Cambuscan,
That in his time many a city wan;
And after will I speak of Algarsife,
How he won Theodora to his wife,
For whom full oft in great peril he was,
*N'had he* been holpen by the horse of brass. *had he not*
And after will I speak of Camballo,
That fought in listes with the brethren two
For Canace, ere that he might her win;
And where I left I will again begin.

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The Odyssey: Book 11

Then, when we had got down to the sea shore we drew our ship into
the water and got her mast and sails into her; we also put the sheep
on board and took our places, weeping and in great distress of mind.
Circe, that great and cunning goddess, sent us a fair wind that blew
dead aft and stayed steadily with us keeping our sails all the time
well filled; so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear and
let her go as the wind and helmsman headed her. All day long her sails
were full as she held her course over the sea, but when the sun went
down and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep
waters of the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the
Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays
of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down
again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long
melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship, took the
sheep out of her, and went along by the waters of Oceanus till we came
to the place of which Circe had told us.
"Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my
sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering
to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and
thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the
whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising
them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren
heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good
things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a
black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed
sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let
the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up
from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil,
maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been
killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they
came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange
kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw
them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the
two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same
time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I
was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts
come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.
"The first ghost 'that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he
had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body
unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to
do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him: 'Elpenor,'
said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom and darkness?
You have here on foot quicker than I have with my ship.'
"'Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my own
unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of Circe's
house, and never thought of coming down again by the great staircase
but fell right off the roof and broke my neck, so my soul down to
the house of Hades. And now I beseech you by all those whom you have
left behind you, though they are not here, by your wife, by the father
who brought you up when you were a child, and by Telemachus who is the
one hope of your house, do what I shall now ask you. I know that
when you leave this limbo you will again hold your ship for the Aeaean
island. Do not go thence leaving me unwaked and unburied behind you,
or I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever
armour I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may tell
people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was, and plant
over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was yet alive and with
my messmates.' And I said, 'My poor fellow, I will do all that you
have asked of me.'
"Thus, then, did we sit and hold sad talk with one another, I on the
one side of the trench with my sword held over the blood, and the
ghost of my comrade saying all this to me from the other side. Then
came the ghost of my dead mother Anticlea, daughter to Autolycus. I
had left her alive when I set out for Troy and was moved to tears when
I saw her, but even so, for all my sorrow I would not let her come
near the blood till I had asked my questions of Teiresias.
"Then came also the ghost of Theban Teiresias, with his golden
sceptre in his hand. He knew me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, why, poor man, have you left the light of day and come down
to visit the dead in this sad place? Stand back from the trench and
withdraw your sword that I may drink of the blood and answer your
questions truly.'
"So I drew back, and sheathed my sword, whereon when he had drank of
the blood he began with his prophecy.
"You want to know,' said he, 'about your return home, but heaven
will make this hard for you. I do not think that you will escape the
eye of Neptune, who still nurses his bitter grudge against you for
having blinded his son. Still, after much suffering you may get home
if you can restrain yourself and your companions when your ship
reaches the Thrinacian island, where you will find the sheep and
cattle belonging to the sun, who sees and gives ear to everything.
If you leave these flocks unharmed and think of nothing but of getting
home, you may yet after much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm
them, then I forewarn you of the destruction both of your ship and
of your men. Even though you may yourself escape, you will return in
bad plight after losing all your men, [in another man's ship, and
you will find trouble in your house, which will be overrun by
high-handed people, who are devouring your substance under the pretext
of paying court and making presents to your wife.
"'When you get home you will take your revenge on these suitors; and
after you have killed them by force or fraud in your own house, you
must take a well-made oar and carry it on and on, till you come to a
country where the people have never heard of the sea and do not even
mix salt with their food, nor do they know anything about ships, and
oars that are as the wings of a ship. I will give you this certain
token which cannot escape your notice. A wayfarer will meet you and
will say it must be a winnowing shovel that you have got upon your
shoulder; on this you must fix the oar in the ground and sacrifice a
ram, a bull, and a boar to Neptune. Then go home and offer hecatombs
to an the gods in heaven one after the other. As for yourself, death
shall come to you from the sea, and your life shall ebb away very
gently when you are full of years and peace of mind, and your people
shall bless you. All that I have said will come true].'
"'This,' I answered, 'must be as it may please heaven, but tell me
and tell me and tell me true, I see my poor mother's ghost close by
us; she is sitting by the blood without saying a word, and though I am
her own son she does not remember me and speak to me; tell me, Sir,
how I can make her know me.'
"'That,' said he, 'I can soon do Any ghost that you let taste of the
blood will talk with you like a reasonable being, but if you do not
let them have any blood they will go away again.'
"On this the ghost of Teiresias went back to the house of Hades, for
his prophecyings had now been spoken, but I sat still where I was
until my mother came up and tasted the blood. Then she knew me at once
and spoke fondly to me, saying, 'My son, how did you come down to this
abode of darkness while you are still alive? It is a hard thing for
the living to see these places, for between us and them there are
great and terrible waters, and there is Oceanus, which no man can
cross on foot, but he must have a good ship to take him. Are you all
this time trying to find your way home from Troy, and have you never
yet got back to Ithaca nor seen your wife in your own house?'
"'Mother,' said I, 'I was forced to come here to consult the ghost
of the Theban prophet Teiresias. I have never yet been near the
Achaean land nor set foot on my native country, and I have had nothing
but one long series of misfortunes from the very first day that I
set out with Agamemnon for Ilius, the land of noble steeds, to fight
the Trojans. But tell me, and tell me true, in what way did you die?
Did you have a long illness, or did heaven vouchsafe you a gentle easy
passage to eternity? Tell me also about my father, and the son whom
I left behind me; is my property still in their hands, or has some one
else got hold of it, who thinks that I shall not return to claim it?
Tell me again what my wife intends doing, and in what mind she is;
does she live with my son and guard my estate securely, or has she
made the best match she could and married again?'
"My mother answered, 'Your wife still remains in your house, but she
is in great distress of mind and spends her whole time in tears both
night and day. No one as yet has got possession of your fine property,
and Telemachus still holds your lands undisturbed. He has to entertain
largely, as of course he must, considering his position as a
magistrate, and how every one invites him; your father remains at
his old place in the country and never goes near the town. He has no
comfortable bed nor bedding; in the winter he sleeps on the floor in
front of the fire with the men and goes about all in rags, but in
summer, when the warm weather comes on again, he lies out in the
vineyard on a bed of vine leaves thrown anyhow upon the ground. He
grieves continually about your never having come home, and suffers
more and more as he grows older. As for my own end it was in this
wise: heaven did not take me swiftly and painlessly in my own house,
nor was I attacked by any illness such as those that generally wear
people out and kill them, but my longing to know what you were doing
and the force of my affection for you- this it was that was the
death of me.'
"Then I tried to find some way of embracing my mother's ghost.
Thrice I sprang towards her and tried to clasp her in my arms, but
each time she flitted from my embrace as it were a dream or phantom,
and being touched to the quick I said to her, 'Mother, why do you
not stay still when I would embrace you? If we could throw our arms
around one another we might find sad comfort in the sharing of our
sorrows even in the house of Hades; does Proserpine want to lay a
still further load of grief upon me by mocking me with a phantom
"'My son,' she answered, 'most ill-fated of all mankind, it is not
Proserpine that is beguiling you, but all people are like this when
they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and bones together;
these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire as soon as life has
left the body, and the soul flits away as though it were a dream. Now,
however, go back to the light of day as soon as you can, and note
all these things that you may tell them to your wife hereafter.'
"Thus did we converse, and anon Proserpine sent up the ghosts of the
wives and daughters of all the most famous men. They gathered in
crowds about the blood, and I considered how I might question them
severally. In the end I deemed that it would be best to draw the
keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh, and keep them from all
drinking the blood at once. So they came up one after the other, and
each one as I questioned her told me her race and lineage.
"The first I saw was Tyro. She was daughter of Salmoneus and wife of
Cretheus the son of Aeolus. She fell in love with the river Enipeus
who is much the most beautiful river in the whole world. Once when she
was taking a walk by his side as usual, Neptune, disguised as her
lover, lay with her at the mouth of the river, and a huge blue wave
arched itself like a mountain over them to hide both woman and god,
whereon he loosed her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber.
When the god had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in
his own and said, 'Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of the
gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this time
twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so now go
home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.'
"Then he dived under the sea, and she in due course bore Pelias
and Neleus, who both of them served Jove with all their might.
Pelias was a great breeder of sheep and lived in Iolcus, but the other
lived in Pylos. The rest of her children were by Cretheus, namely,
Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon, who was a mighty warrior and charioteer.
"Next to her I saw Antiope, daughter to Asopus, who could boast of
having slept in the arms of even Jove himself, and who bore him two
sons Amphion and Zethus. These founded Thebes with its seven gates,
and built a wall all round it; for strong though they were they
could not hold Thebes till they had walled it.
"Then I saw Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon, who also bore to Jove
indomitable Hercules; and Megara who was daughter to great King Creon,
and married the redoubtable son of Amphitryon.
"I also saw fair Epicaste mother of king OEdipodes whose awful lot
it was to marry her own son without suspecting it. He married her
after having killed his father, but the gods proclaimed the whole
story to the world; whereon he remained king of Thebes, in great grief
for the spite the gods had borne him; but Epicaste went to the house
of the mighty jailor Hades, having hanged herself for grief, and the
avenging spirits haunted him as for an outraged mother- to his ruing
bitterly thereafter.
"Then I saw Chloris, whom Neleus married for her beauty, having
given priceless presents for her. She was youngest daughter to Amphion
son of Iasus and king of Minyan Orchomenus, and was Queen in Pylos.
She bore Nestor, Chromius, and Periclymenus, and she also bore that
marvellously lovely woman Pero, who was wooed by all the country
round; but Neleus would only give her to him who should raid the
cattle of Iphicles from the grazing grounds of Phylace, and this was a
hard task. The only man who would undertake to raid them was a certain
excellent seer, but the will of heaven was against him, for the
rangers of the cattle caught him and put him in prison; nevertheless
when a full year had passed and the same season came round again,
Iphicles set him at liberty, after he had expounded all the oracles of
heaven. Thus, then, was the will of Jove accomplished.
"And I saw Leda the wife of Tyndarus, who bore him two famous
sons, Castor breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer. Both
these heroes are lying under the earth, though they are still alive,
for by a special dispensation of Jove, they die and come to life
again, each one of them every other day throughout all time, and
they have the rank of gods.
"After her I saw Iphimedeia wife of Aloeus who boasted the embrace
of Neptune. She bore two sons Otus and Ephialtes, but both were
short lived. They were the finest children that were ever born in this
world, and the best looking, Orion only excepted; for at nine years
old they were nine fathoms high, and measured nine cubits round the
chest. They threatened to make war with the gods in Olympus, and tried
to set Mount Ossa on the top of Mount Olympus, and Mount Pelion on the
top of Ossa, that they might scale heaven itself, and they would
have done it too if they had been grown up, but Apollo, son of Leto,
killed both of them, before they had got so much as a sign of hair
upon their cheeks or chin.
"Then I saw Phaedra, and Procris, and fair Ariadne daughter of the
magician Minos, whom Theseus was carrying off from Crete to Athens,
but he did not enjoy her, for before he could do so Diana killed her
in the island of Dia on account of what Bacchus had said against her.
"I also saw Maera and Clymene and hateful Eriphyle, who sold her own
husband for gold. But it would take me all night if I were to name
every single one of the wives and daughters of heroes whom I saw,
and it is time for me to go to bed, either on board ship with my crew,
or here. As for my escort, heaven and yourselves will see to it."
Here he ended, and the guests sat all of them enthralled and
speechless throughout the covered cloister. Then Arete said to them:
"What do you think of this man, O Phaecians? Is he not tall and good
looking, and is he not Clever? True, he is my own guest, but all of
you share in the distinction. Do not he a hurry to send him away,
nor niggardly in the presents you make to one who is in such great
need, for heaven has blessed all of you with great abundance."
Then spoke the aged hero Echeneus who was one of the oldest men
among them, "My friends," said he, "what our august queen has just
said to us is both reasonable and to the purpose, therefore be
persuaded by it; but the decision whether in word or deed rests
ultimately with King Alcinous."
"The thing shall be done," exclaimed Alcinous, "as surely as I still
live and reign over the Phaeacians. Our guest is indeed very anxious
to get home, still we must persuade him to remain with us until
to-morrow, by which time I shall be able to get together the whole sum
that I mean to give him. As regards- his escort it will be a matter
for you all, and mine above all others as the chief person among you."
And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, if you were to bid me to
stay here for a whole twelve months, and then speed me on my way,
loaded with your noble gifts, I should obey you gladly and it would
redound greatly to my advantage, for I should return fuller-handed
to my own people, and should thus be more respected and beloved by all
who see me when I get back to Ithaca."
"Ulysses," replied Alcinous, "not one of us who sees you has any
idea that you are a charlatan or a swindler. I know there are many
people going about who tell such plausible stories that it is very
hard to see through them, but there is a style about your language
which assures me of your good disposition. Moreover you have told
the story of your own misfortunes, and those of the Argives, as though
you were a practised bard; but tell me, and tell me true, whether
you saw any of the mighty heroes who went to Troy at the same time
with yourself, and perished there. The evenings are still at their
longest, and it is not yet bed time- go on, therefore, with your
divine story, for I could stay here listening till to-morrow
morning, so long as you will continue to tell us of your adventures."
"Alcinous," answered Ulysses, "there is a time for making
speeches, and a time for going to bed; nevertheless, since you so
desire, I will not refrain from telling you the still sadder tale of
those of my comrades who did not fall fighting with the Trojans, but
perished on their return, through the treachery of a wicked woman.
"When Proserpine had dismissed the female ghosts in all
directions, the ghost of Agamemnon son of Atreus came sadly up tome,
surrounded by those who had perished with him in the house of
Aegisthus. As soon as he had tasted the blood he knew me, and
weeping bitterly stretched out his arms towards me to embrace me;
but he had no strength nor substance any more, and I too wept and
pitied him as I beheld him. 'How did you come by your death,' said
I, 'King Agamemnon? Did Neptune raise his winds and waves against
you when you were at sea, or did your enemies make an end of you on
the mainland when you were cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or
while they were fighting in defence of their wives and city?'
"'Ulysses,' he answered, 'noble son of Laertes, was not lost at
sea in any storm of Neptune's raising, nor did my foes despatch me
upon the mainland, but Aegisthus and my wicked wife were the death
of me between them. He asked me to his house, feasted me, and then
butchered me most miserably as though I were a fat beast in a
slaughter house, while all around me my comrades were slain like sheep
or pigs for the wedding breakfast, or picnic, or gorgeous banquet of
some great nobleman. You must have seen numbers of men killed either
in a general engagement, or in single combat, but you never saw
anything so truly pitiable as the way in which we fell in that
cloister, with the mixing-bowl and the loaded tables lying all
about, and the ground reeking with our-blood. I heard Priam's daughter
Cassandra scream as Clytemnestra killed her close beside me. I lay
dying upon the earth with the sword in my body, and raised my hands to
kill the slut of a murderess, but she slipped away from me; she
would not even close my lips nor my eyes when I was dying, for there
is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she
has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own
husband! I thought I was going to be welcomed home by my children
and my servants, but her abominable crime has brought disgrace on
herself and all women who shall come after- even on the good ones.'
"And I said, 'In truth Jove has hated the house of Atreus from first
to last in the matter of their women's counsels. See how many of us
fell for Helen's sake, and now it seems that Clytemnestra hatched
mischief against too during your absence.'
"'Be sure, therefore,' continued Agamemnon, 'and not be too friendly
even with your own wife. Do not tell her all that you know perfectly
well yourself. Tell her a part only, and keep your own counsel about
the rest. Not that your wife, Ulysses, is likely to murder you, for
Penelope is a very admirable woman, and has an excellent nature. We
left her a young bride with an infant at her breast when we set out
for Troy. This child no doubt is now grown up happily to man's estate,
and he and his father will have a joyful meeting and embrace one
another as it is right they should do, whereas my wicked wife did
not even allow me the happiness of looking upon my son, but killed
me ere I could do so. Furthermore I say- and lay my saying to your
heart- do not tell people when you are bringing your ship to Ithaca,
but steal a march upon them, for after all this there is no trusting
women. But now tell me, and tell me true, can you give me any news
of my son Orestes? Is he in Orchomenus, or at Pylos, or is he at
Sparta with Menelaus- for I presume that he is still living.'
"And I said, 'Agamemnon, why do you ask me? I do not know whether
your son is alive or dead, and it is not right to talk when one does
not know.'
"As we two sat weeping and talking thus sadly with one another the
ghost of Achilles came up to us with Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax
who was the finest and goodliest man of all the Danaans after the
son of Peleus. The fleet descendant of Aeacus knew me and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, what deed of daring
will you undertake next, that you venture down to the house of Hades
among us silly dead, who are but the ghosts of them that can labour no
"And I said, 'Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the
Achaeans, I came to consult Teiresias, and see if he could advise me
about my return home to Ithaca, for I have never yet been able to
get near the Achaean land, nor to set foot in my own country, but have
been in trouble all the time. As for you, Achilles, no one was ever
yet so fortunate as you have been, nor ever will be, for you were
adored by all us Argives as long as you were alive, and now that you
are here you are a great prince among the dead. Do not, therefore,
take it so much to heart even if you are dead.'
"'Say not a word,' he answered, 'in death's favour; I would rather
be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than
king of kings among the dead. But give me news about son; is he gone
to the wars and will he be a great soldier, or is this not so? Tell me
also if you have heard anything about my father Peleus- does he
still rule among the Myrmidons, or do they show him no respect
throughout Hellas and Phthia now that he is old and his limbs fail
him? Could I but stand by his side, in the light of day, with the same
strength that I had when I killed the bravest of our foes upon the
plain of Troy- could I but be as I then was and go even for a short
time to my father's house, any one who tried to do him violence or
supersede him would soon me it.'
"'I have heard nothing,' I answered, 'of Peleus, but I can tell
you all about your son Neoptolemus, for I took him in my own ship from
Scyros with the Achaeans. In our councils of war before Troy he was
always first to speak, and his judgement was unerring. Nestor and I
were the only two who could surpass him; and when it came to
fighting on the plain of Troy, he would never remain with the body
of his men, but would dash on far in front, foremost of them all in
valour. Many a man did he kill in battle- I cannot name every single
one of those whom he slew while fighting on the side of the Argives,
but will only say how he killed that valiant hero Eurypylus son of
Telephus, who was the handsomest man I ever saw except Memnon; many
others also of the Ceteians fell around him by reason of a woman's
bribes. Moreover, when all the bravest of the Argives went inside
the horse that Epeus had made, and it was left to me to settle when we
should either open the door of our ambuscade, or close it, though
all the other leaders and chief men among the Danaans were drying
their eyes and quaking in every limb, I never once saw him turn pale
nor wipe a tear from his cheek; he was all the time urging me to break
out from the horse- grasping the handle of his sword and his
bronze-shod spear, and breathing fury against the foe. Yet when we had
sacked the city of Priam he got his handsome share of the prize
money and went on board (such is the fortune of war) without a wound
upon him, neither from a thrown spear nor in close combat, for the
rage of Mars is a matter of great chance.'
"When I had told him this, the ghost of Achilles strode off across a
meadow full of asphodel, exulting over what I had said concerning
the prowess of his son.
"The ghosts of other dead men stood near me and told me each his own
melancholy tale; but that of Ajax son of Telamon alone held aloof-
still angry with me for having won the cause in our dispute about
the armour of Achilles. Thetis had offered it as a prize, but the
Trojan prisoners and Minerva were the judges. Would that I had never
gained the day in such a contest, for it cost the life of Ajax, who
was foremost of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus, alike in
stature and prowess.
"When I saw him I tried to pacify him and said, 'Ajax, will you
not forget and forgive even in death, but must the judgement about
that hateful armour still rankle with you? It cost us Argives dear
enough to lose such a tower of strength as you were to us. We
mourned you as much as we mourned Achilles son of Peleus himself,
nor can the blame be laid on anything but on the spite which Jove bore
against the Danaans, for it was this that made him counsel your
destruction- come hither, therefore, bring your proud spirit into
subjection, and hear what I can tell you.'
"He would not answer, but turned away to Erebus and to the other
ghosts; nevertheless, I should have made him talk to me in spite of
his being so angry, or I should have gone talking to him, only that
there were still others among the dead whom I desired to see.
"Then I saw Minos son of Jove with his golden sceptre in his hand
sitting in judgement on the dead, and the ghosts were gathered sitting
and standing round him in the spacious house of Hades, to learn his
sentences upon them.
"After him I saw huge Orion in a meadow full of asphodel driving the
ghosts of the wild beasts that he had killed upon the mountains, and
he had a great bronze club in his hand, unbreakable for ever and ever.
"And I saw Tityus son of Gaia stretched upon the plain and
covering some nine acres of ground. Two vultures on either side of him
were digging their beaks into his liver, and he kept on trying to beat
them off with his hands, but could not; for he had violated Jove's
mistress Leto as she was going through Panopeus on her way to Pytho.
"I saw also the dreadful fate of Tantalus, who stood in a lake
that reached his chin; he was dying to quench his thirst, but could
never reach the water, for whenever the poor creature stooped to
drink, it dried up and vanished, so that there was nothing but dry
ground- parched by the spite of heaven. There were tall trees,
moreover, that shed their fruit over his head- pears, pomegranates,
apples, sweet figs and juicy olives, but whenever the poor creature
stretched out his hand to take some, the wind tossed the branches back
again to the clouds.
"And I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his prodigious stone
with both his hands. With hands and feet he' tried to roll it up to
the top of the hill, but always, just before he could roll it over
on to the other side, its weight would be too much for him, and the
pitiless stone would come thundering down again on to the plain.
Then he would begin trying to push it up hill again, and the sweat ran
off him and the steam rose after him.
"After him I saw mighty Hercules, but it was his phantom only, for
he is feasting ever with the immortal gods, and has lovely Hebe to
wife, who is daughter of Jove and Juno. The ghosts were screaming
round him like scared birds flying all whithers. He looked black as
night with his bare bow in his hands and his arrow on the string,
glaring around as though ever on the point of taking aim. About his
breast there was a wondrous golden belt adorned in the most marvellous
fashion with bears, wild boars, and lions with gleaming eyes; there
was also war, battle, and death. The man who made that belt, do what
he might, would never be able to make another like it. Hercules knew
me at once when he saw me, and spoke piteously, saying, my poor
Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, are you too leading the same sorry kind
of life that I did when I was above ground? I was son of Jove, but I
went through an infinity of suffering, for I became bondsman to one
who was far beneath me- a low fellow who set me all manner of labours.
He once sent me here to fetch the hell-hound- for he did not think
he could find anything harder for me than this, but I got the hound
out of Hades and brought him to him, for Mercury and Minerva helped
"On this Hercules went down again into the house of Hades, but I
stayed where I was in case some other of the mighty dead should come
to me. And I should have seen still other of them that are gone
before, whom I would fain have seen- Theseus and Pirithous glorious
children of the gods, but so many thousands of ghosts came round me
and uttered such appalling cries, that I was panic stricken lest
Proserpine should send up from the house of Hades the head of that
awful monster Gorgon. On this I hastened back to my ship and ordered
my men to go on board at once and loose the hawsers; so they
embarked and took their places, whereon the ship went down the
stream of the river Oceanus. We had to row at first, but presently a
fair wind sprang up.

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