The Story Of Ung
Once, on a glittering ice-field, ages and ages ago,
Ung, a maker of pictures, fashioned an image of snow.
Fashioned the form of a tribesman -- gaily he whistled and sung,
Working the snow with his fingers. ~Read ye the Story of Ung!~
Pleased was his tribe with that image -- came in their hundreds to scan --
Handled it, smelt it, and grunted: "Verily, this is a man!
Thus do we carry our lances -- thus is a war-belt slung.
Lo! it is even as we are. Glory and honour to Ung!"
Later he pictured an aurochs -- later he pictured a bear --
Pictured the sabre-tooth tiger dragging a man to his lair --
Pictured the mountainous mammoth, hairy, abhorrent, alone --
Out of the love that he bore them, scribing them clearly on bone.
Swift came the tribe to behold them, peering and pushing and still --
Men of the berg-battered beaches, men of the boulder-hatched hill --
Hunters and fishers and trappers, presently whispering low:
"Yea, they are like -- and it may be -- But how does the Picture-man know?"
"Ung -- hath he slept with the Aurochs -- watched where the Mastodon roam?
Spoke on the ice with the Bow-head -- followed the Sabre-tooth home?
Nay! These are toys of his fancy! If he have cheated us so,
How is there truth in his image -- the man that he fashioned of snow?"
Wroth was that maker of pictures -- hotly he answered the call:
"Hunters and fishers and trappers, children and fools are ye all!
Look at the beasts when ye hunt them!" Swift from the tumult he broke,
Ran to the cave of his father and told him the shame that they spoke.
And the father of Ung gave answer, that was old and wise in the craft,
Maker of pictures aforetime, he leaned on his lance and laughed:
"If they could see as thou seest they would do what thou hast done,
And each man would make him a picture, and -- what would become of my son?
"There would be no pelts of the reindeer, flung down at thy cave for a gift,
Nor dole of the oily timber that comes on the Baltic drift;
No store of well-drilled needles, nor ouches of amber pale;
No new-cut tongues of the bison, nor meat of the stranded whale.
"~Thou~ hast not toiled at the fishing when the sodden trammels freeze,
Nor worked the war-boats outward through the rush of the rock-staked seas,
Yet they bring thee fish and plunder -- full meal and an easy bed --
And all for the sake of thy pictures." And Ung held down his head.
"~Thou~ hast not stood to the Aurochs when the red snow reeks of the fight;
Men have no time at the houghing to count his curls aright.
And the heart of the hairy Mammoth, thou sayest, they do not see,
Yet they save it whole from the beaches and broil the best for thee.
"And now do they press to thy pictures, with opened mouth and eye,
And a little gift in the doorway, and the praise no gift can buy:
But -- sure they have doubted thy pictures, and that is a grievous stain --
Son that can see so clearly, return them their gifts again!"
And Ung looked down at his deerskins -- their broad shell-tasselled bands --
And Ung drew downward his mitten and looked at his naked hands;
And he gloved himself and departed, and he heard his father, behind:
"Son that can see so clearly, rejoice that thy tribe is blind!"
Straight on the glittering ice-field, by the caves of the lost Dordogne,
Ung, a maker of pictures, fell to his scribing on bone
Even to mammoth editions. Gaily he whistled and sung,
Blessing his tribe for their blindness. ~Heed ye the Story of Ung!~
Genius! thou gift of Heav'n! thou light divine!
Amid what dangers art thou doom'd to shine!
Oft will the body's weakness check thy force,
Oft damp thy vigour, and impede thy course;
And trembling nerves compel thee to restrain
Thy nobler efforts, to contend with pain;
Or want (sad guest!) will in thy presence come,
And breathe around her melancholy gloom:
To life's low cares will thy proud thought confine,
And make her sufferings, her impatience, thine.
Evil and strong, seducing passions prey
On soaring minds, and win them from their way,
Who then to Vice the subject spirits give,
And in the service of the conqu'ror live;
Like captive Samson making sport for all,
Who fear'd their strength, and glory in their fall.
Genius, with virtue, still may lack the aid
Implored by humble minds, and hearts afraid;
May leave to timid souls the shield and sword
Of the tried Faith, and the resistless Word;
Amid a world of dangers venturing forth,
Frail, but yet fearless, proud in conscious worth,
Till strong temptation, in some fatal time,
Assails the heart, and wins the soul to crime,
When left by honour, and by sorrow spent,
Unused to pray, unable to repent,
The nobler powers, that once exalted high
Th' aspiring man, shall then degraded lie:
Reason, through anguish, shall her throne forsake,
And strength of mind but stronger madness make.
When Edward Shore had reach'd his twentieth
He felt his bosom light, his conscience clear;
Applause at school the youthful hero gain'd,
And trials there with manly strength sustain'd:
With prospects bright upon the world he came,
Pure love of virtue, strong desire of fame:
Men watch'd the way his lofty mind would take,
And all foretold the progress he would make.
Boast of these friends, to older men a guide,
Proud of his parts, but gracious in his pride;
He bore a gay good-nature in his face,
And in his air were dignity and grace;
Dress that became his state and years he wore,
And sense and spirit shone in Edward Shore.
Thus, while admiring friends the Youth beheld,
His own disgust their forward hopes repell'd;
For he unfix'd, unfixing, look'd around,
And no employment but in seeking found;
He gave his restless thoughts to views refined,
And shrank from worldly cares with wounded mind.
Rejecting trade, awhile he dwelt on laws,
'But who could plead, if unapproved the cause?'
A doubting, dismal tribe physicians seem'd;
Divines o'er texts and disputations dream'd,
War and its glory he perhaps could love,
But there again he must the cause approve.
Our hero thought no deed should gain applause
Where timid virtue found support in laws;
He to all good would soar, would fly all sin,
By the pure prompting of the will within;
'Who needs a law that binds him not to steal,'
Ask'd the young teacher, 'can he rightly feel?
To curb the will, or arm in honour's cause,
Or aid the weak--are these enforced by laws?
Should we a foul, ungenerous action dread,
Because a law condemns th' adulterous bed?
Or fly pollution, not for fear of stain,
But that some statute tells us to refrain?
The grosser herd in ties like these we bind,
In virtue's freedom moves th' enlighten'd mind.'
'Man's heart deceives him,' said a friend.--'Of
Replied the Youth; 'but has it power to force?
Unless it forces, call it as you will,
It is but wish, and proneness to the ill.'
'Art thou not tempted?'--'Do I fall?' said
'The pure have fallen.'--'Then are pure no more.
While reason guides me, I shall walk aright,
Nor need a steadier hand, or stronger light;
Nor this in dread of awful threats, design'd
For the weak spirit and the grov'ling mind;
But that, engaged by thoughts and views sublime,
I wage free war with grossness and with crime.'
Thus look'd he proudly on the vulgar crew,
Whom statutes govern, and whom fears subdue.
Faith, with his virtue, he indeed profess'd,
But doubts deprived his ardent mind of rest;
Reason, his sovereign mistress, fail'd to show
Light through the mazes of the world below:
Questions arose, and they surpass'd the skill
Of his sole aid, and would be dubious still;
These to discuss he sought no common guide,
But to the doubters in his doubts applied;
When all together might in freedom speak,
And their loved truth with mutual ardour seek.
Alas! though men who feel their eyes decay
Take more than common pains to find their way,
Yet, when for this they ask each other's aid,
Their mutual purpose is the more delay'd:
Of all their doubts, their reasoning clear'd not
Still the same spots were present in the sun:
Still the same scruples haunted Edward's mind,
Who found no rest, nor took the means to find.
But though with shaken faith, and slave to fame,
Vain and aspiring on the world he came,
Yet was he studious, serious, moral, grave,
No passion's victim, and no system's slave:
Vice he opposed, indulgence he disdain'd,
And o'er each sense in conscious triumph reign'd.
Who often reads will sometimes wish to write,
And Shore would yield instruction and delight:
A serious drama he design'd, but found
'Twas tedious travelling in that gloomy ground;
A deep and solemn story he would try,
But grew ashamed of ghosts, and laid it by;
Sermons he wrote, but they who knew his creed,
Or knew it not, were ill-disposed to read;
And he would lastly be the nation's guide,
But, studying, fail'd to fix upon a side;
Fame he desired, and talents he possess'd,
But loved not labour, though he could not rest,
Nor firmly fix the vacillating mind,
That, ever working, could no centre find.
'Tis thus a sanguine reader loves to trace
The Nile forth rushing on his glorious race;
Calm and secure the fancied traveller goes
Through sterile deserts and by threat'ning foes;
He thinks not then of Afric's scorching sands,
Th' Arabian sea, the Abyssinian bands;
Fasils and Michaels, and the robbers all,
Whom we politely chiefs and heroes call:
He of success alone delights to think,
He views that fount, he stands upon the brink,
And drinks a fancied draught, exulting so to drink.
In his own room, and with his books around,
His lively mind its chief employment found;
Then idly busy, quietly employ'd,
And, lost to life, his visions were enjoy'd:
Yet still he took a keen inquiring view
Of all that crowds neglect, desire, pursue;
And thus abstracted, curious, still, serene,
He, unemploy'd, beheld life's shifting scene:
Still more averse from vulgar joys and cares,
Still more unfitted for the world's affairs.
There was a house where Edward ofttimes went,
And social hours in pleasant trifling spent;
He read, conversed, and reason'd, sang and play'd,
And all were happy while the idler stay'd;
Too happy one! for thence arose the pain,
Till this engaging trifler came again.
But did he love? We answer, day by day,
The loving feet would take th' accustom'd way,
The amorous eye would rove as if in quest
Of something rare, and on the mansion rest;
The same soft passion touch'd the gentle tongue,
And Anna's charms in tender notes were sung;
The ear, too, seem'd to feel the common flame,
Soothed and delighted with the fair one's name;
And thus, as love each other part possess'd,
The heart, no doubt, its sovereign power confess'd.
Pleased in her sight, the Youth required no
Not rich himself, he saw the damsel poor;
And he too wisely, nay, too kindly loved,
To pain the being whom his soul approved.
A serious Friend our cautious Youth possess'd,
And at his table sat a welcome guest;
Both unemploy'd, it was their chief delight
To read what free and daring authors write;
Authors who loved from common views to soar,
And seek the fountains never traced before:
Truth they profess'd, yet often left the true
And beaten prospect, for the wild and new.
His chosen friend his fiftieth year had seen,
His fortune easy, and his air serene;
Deist and atheist call'd; for few agreed
What were his notions, principles, or creed;
His mind reposed not, for he hated rest,
But all things made a query or a jest;
Perplex'd himself, he ever sought to prove
That man is doom'd in endless doubt to rove;
Himself in darkness he profess'd to be,
And would maintain that not a man could see.
The youthful Friend, dissentient, reason'd still
Of the soul's prowess, and the subject-will;
Of virtue's beauty, and of honour's force,
And a warm zeal gave life to his discourse:
Since from his feelings all his fire arose,
And he had interest in the themes he chose.
The Friend, indulging a sarcastic smile,
Said, 'Dear enthusiast! thou wilt change thy style,
When man's delusions, errors, crimes, deceit,
No more distress thee, and no longer cheat.'
Yet, lo! this cautious man, so coolly wise,
On a young Beauty fix'd unguarded eyes;
And her he married: Edward at the view
Bade to his cheerful visits long adieu;
But haply err'd, for this engaging bride
No mirth suppress'd, but rather cause supplied:
And when she saw the friends, by reasoning long,
Confused if right, and positive if wrong,
With playful speech, and smile that spoke delight,
She made them careless both of wrong and right.
This gentle damsel gave consent to wed,
With school and school-day dinners in her head:
She now was promised choice of daintiest food,
And costly dress, that made her sovereign good;
With walks on hilly heath to banish spleen,
And summer-visits when the roads were clean.
All these she loved, to these she gave consent,
And she was married to her heart's content.
Their manner this--the Friends together read,
Till books a cause for disputation bred;
Debate then follow'd, and the vapour'd child
Declared they argued till her head was wild;
And strange to her it was that mortal brain
Could seek the trial, or endure the pain.
Then, as the Friend reposed, the younger pair
Sat down to cards, and play'd beside his chair;
Till he, awaking, to his books applied,
Or heard the music of th' obedient bride:
If mild the evening, in the fields they stray'd,
And their own flock with partial eye survey'd;
But oft the husband, to indulgence prone,
Resumed his book, and bade them walk alone.
'Do, my kind Edward--I must take mine ease -
Name the dear girl the planets and the trees:
Tell her what warblers pour their evening song,
What insects flutter, as you walk along;
Teach her to fix the roving thoughts, to bind
The wandering sense, and methodize the mind.'
This was obey'd; and oft when this was done,
They calmly gazed on the declining sun;
In silence saw the glowing landscape fade,
Or, sitting, sang beneath the arbour's shade:
Till rose the moon, and on each youthful face
Shed a soft beauty and a dangerous grace.
When the young Wife beheld in long debate
Tho friends, all careless as she seeming sate,
It soon appear'd there was in one combined
The nobler person and the richer mind:
He wore no wig, no grisly beard was seen,
And none beheld him careless or unclean,
Or watch'd him sleeping. We indeed have heard
Of sleeping beauty, and it has appear'd;
'Tis seen in infants--there indeed we find
The features soften'd by the slumbering mind;
But other beauties, when disposed to sleep,
Should from the eye of keen inspector keep:
The lovely nymph who would her swain surprise,
May close her mouth, but not conceal her eyes;
Sleep from the fairest face some beauty takes,
And all the homely features homelier makes:
So thought our wife, beholding with a sigh
Her sleeping spouse, and Edward smiling by.
A sick relation for the husband sent;
Without delay the friendly sceptic went;
Nor fear'd the youthful pair, for he had seen
The wife untroubled, and the friend serene;
No selfish purpose in his roving eyes,
No vile deception in her fond replies:
So judged the husband, and with judgment true,
For neither yet the guilt or danger knew.
What now remain'd? but they again should play
Th' accustom'd game, and walk th' accustom'd way;
With careless freedom should converse or read,
And the Friend's absence neither fear nor heed:
But rather now they seem'd confused, constrain'd;
Within their room still restless they remain'd,
And painfully they felt, and knew each other
Ah, foolish men! how could ye thus depend,
One on himself, the other on his friend?
The Youth with troubled eye the lady saw,
Yet felt too brave, too daring to withdraw;
While she, with tuneless hand the jarring keys
Touching, was not one moment at her ease:
Now would she walk, and call her friendly guide,
Now speak of rain, and cast her cloak aside;
Seize on a book, unconscious what she read,
And restless still to new resources fled;
Then laugh'd aloud, then tried to look serene;
And ever changed, and every change was seen.
Painful it is to dwell on deeds of shame -
The trying day was past, another came;
The third was all remorse, confusion, dread,
And (all too late!) the fallen hero fled.
Then felt the Youth, in that seducing time,
How feebly Honour guards the heart from crime:
Small is his native strength; man needs the stay,
The strength imparted in the trying day;
For all that Honour brings against the force
Of headlong passion, aids its rapid course;
Its slight resistance but provokes the fire,
As wood-work stops the flame, and then conveys it
The Husband came; a wife by guilt made bold
Had, meeting, soothed him, as in days of old;
But soon this fact transpired; her strong distress,
And his Friend's absence, left him nought to guess.
Still cool, though grieved, thus prudence bade
him write -
'I cannot pardon, and I will not fight;
Thou art too poor a culprit for the laws,
And I too faulty to support my cause:
All must be punish'd; I must sigh alone,
At home thy victim for her guilt atone;
And thou, unhappy! virtuous now no more,
Must loss of fame, peace, purity deplore;
Sinners with praise will pierce thee to the heart,
And saints, deriding, tell thee what thou art.'
Such was his fall; and Edward, from that time,
Felt in full force the censure and the crime -
Despised, ashamed; his noble views before,
And his proud thoughts, degraded him the more:
Should he repent--would that conceal his shame?
Could peace be his? It perish'd with his fame:
Himself he scorn'd, nor could his crime forgive;
He fear'd to die, yet felt ashamed to live:
Grieved, but not contrite, was his heart;
Not broken; not converted, but distress'd;
He wanted will to bend the stubborn knee,
He wanted light the cause of ill to see,
To learn how frail is man, how humble then should
For faith he had not, or a faith too weak
To gain the help that humble sinners seek;
Else had he pray'd--to an offended God
His tears had flown a penitential flood;
Though far astray, he would have heard the call
Of mercy--'Come! return, thou prodigal:'
Then, though confused, distress'd, ashamed, afraid,
Still had the trembling penitent obey'd;
Though faith had fainted, when assail'd by fear,
Hope to the soul had whisper'd, 'Persevere!'
Till in his Father's house, an humbled guest,
He would have found forgiveness, comfort, rest.
But all this joy was to our Youth denied
By his fierce passions and his daring pride;
And shame and doubt impell'd him in a course,
Once so abhorr'd, with unresisted force,
Proud minds and guilty, whom their crimes oppress,
Fly to new crimes for comfort and redress;
So found our fallen Youth a short relief
In wine, the opiate guilt applies to grief, -
From fleeting mirth that o'er the bottle lives,
From the false joy its inspiration gives, -
And from associates pleased to find a friend
With powers to lead them, gladden, and defend,
In all those scenes where transient ease is found,
For minds whom sins oppress and sorrows wound.
Wine is like anger; for it makes us strong,
Blind, and impatient, and it leads us wrong;
The strength is quickly lost, we feel the error
Thus led, thus strengthen'd, in an evil cause,
For folly pleading, sought the Youth applause;
Sad for a time, then eloquently wild,
He gaily spoke as his companions smiled;
Lightly he rose, and with his former grace
Proposed some doubt, and argued on the case;
Fate and foreknowledge were his favourite themes -
How vain man's purpose, how absurd his schemes:
'Whatever is, was ere our birth decreed;
We think our actions from ourselves proceed,
And idly we lament th' inevitable deed;
It seems our own, but there's a power above
Directs the motion, nay, that makes us move;
Nor good nor evil can you beings name,
Who are but rooks and castles in the game;
Superior natures with their puppets play,
Till, bagg'd or buried, all are swept away.'
Such were the notions of a mind to ill
Now prone, but ardent and determined still:
Of joy now eager, as before of fame,
And screen'd by folly when assail'd by shame,
Deeply he sank; obey'd each passion's call,
And used his reason to defend them all.
Shall I proceed, and step by step relate
The odious progress of a Sinner's fate?
No--let me rather hasten to the time
(Sure to arrive!) when misery waits on crime.
With Virtue, prudence fled; what Shore possessed
Was sold, was spent, and he was now distressed:
And Want, unwelcome stranger, pale and wan,
Met with her haggard looks the hurried man:
His pride felt keenly what he must expect
From useless pity and from cold neglect.
Struck by new terrors, from his friends he fled,
And wept his woes upon a restless bed;
Retiring late, at early hour to rise,
With shrunken features, and with bloodshot eyes:
If sleep one moment closed the dismal view,
Fancy her terrors built upon the true:
And night and day had their alternate woes,
That baffled pleasure, and that mock'd repose;
Till to despair and anguish was consign'd
The wreck and ruin of a noble mind.
Now seized for debt, and lodged within a jail,
He tried his friendships, and he found them fail;
Then fail'd his spirits, and his thoughts were all
Fix'd on his sins, his sufferings, and his fall:
His ruffled mind was pictured in his face,
Once the fair seat of dignity and grace:
Great was the danger of a man so prone
To think of madness, and to think alone;
Yet pride still lived, and struggled to sustain
The drooping spirit and the roving brain;
But this too fail'd: a Friend his freedom gave,
And sent him help the threat'ning world to brave;
Gave solid counsel what to seek or flee,
But still would stranger to his person be:
In vain! the truth determined to explore,
He traced the Friend whom he had wrong'd before.
This was too much; both aided and advised
By one who shunn'd him, pitied, and despised:
He bore it not; 'twas a deciding stroke,
And on his reason like a torrent broke:
In dreadful stillness he appear'd a while,
With vacant horror and a ghastly smile;
Then rose at once into the frantic rage,
That force controlled not, nor could love assuage.
Friends now appear'd, but in the Man was seen
The angry Maniac, with vindictive mien;
Too late their pity gave to care and skill
The hurried mind and ever-wandering will:
Unnoticed pass'd all time, and not a ray
Of reason broke on his benighted way;
But now he spurn'd the straw in pure disdain,
And now laugh'd loudly at the clinking chain.
Then, as its wrath subsided by degrees,
The mind sank slowly to infantine ease,
To playful folly, and to causeless joy,
Speech without aim, and without end, employ;
He drew fantastic figures on the wall,
And gave some wild relation of them all;
With brutal shape he join'd the human face,
And idiot smiles approved the motley race.
Harmless at length th' unhappy man was found,
The spirit settled, but the reason drown'd;
And all the dreadful tempest died away
To the dull stillness of the misty day.
And now his freedom he attain'd--if free
The lost to reason, truth, and hope, can be;
His friends, or wearied with the charge, or sure
The harmless wretch was now beyond a cure,
Gave him to wander where he pleased, and find
His own resources for the eager mind:
The playful children of the place he meets,
Playful with them he rambles through the streets;
In all they need, his stronger arm he lends,
And his lost mind to these approving friends.
That gentle Maid, whom once the Youth had loved,
Is now with mild religious pity moved;
Kindly she chides his boyish flights, while he
Will for a moment fix'd and pensive be;
And as she trembling speaks, his lively eyes
Explore her looks, he listens to her sighs;
Charm'd by her voice, th' harmonious sounds invade
His clouded mind, and for a time persuade:
Like a pleased infant, who has newly caught
From the maternal glance a gleam of thought,
He stands enrapt, the half-known voice to hear,
And starts, half conscious, at the falling tear.
Rarely from town, nor then unwatch'd, he goes,
In darker mood, as if to hide his woes;
Returning soon, he with impatience seeks
His youthful friends, and shouts, and sings, and
Speaks a wild speech with action all is wild -
The children's leader, and himself a child;
He spins their top, or, at their bidding, bends
His back, while o'er it leap his laughing friends;
Simple and weak, he acts the boy once more,
And heedless children call him Silly Shore.
When to the common rest that crowns our days,
Called in the noon of life, the good man goes,
Or full of years, and ripe in wisdom, lays
His silver temples in their last repose;
When, o'er the buds of youth, the death-wind blows,
And blights the fairest; when our bitter tears
Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,
We think on what they were, with many fears
Lest goodness die with them, and leave the coming years:
And therefore, to our hearts, the days gone by,--
When lived the honoured sage whose death we wept,
And the soft virtues beamed from many an eye,
And beat in many a heart that long has slept,--
Like spots of earth where angel-feet have stepped--
Are holy; and high-dreaming bards have told
Of times when worth was crowned, and faith was kept,
Ere friendship grew a snare, or love waxed cold--
Those pure and happy times--the golden days of old.
Peace to the just man's memory,--let it grow
Greener with years, and blossom through the flight
Of ages; let the mimic canvas show
His calm benevolent features; let the light
Stream on his deeds of love, that shunned the sight
Of all but heaven, and in the book of fame,
The glorious record of his virtues write,
And hold it up to men, and bid them claim
A palm like his, and catch from him the hallowed flame.
But oh, despair not of their fate who rise
To dwell upon the earth when we withdraw!
Lo! the same shaft by which the righteous dies,
Strikes through the wretch that scoffed at mercy's law,
And trode his brethren down, and felt no awe
Of Him who will avenge them. Stainless worth,
Such as the sternest age of virtue saw,
Ripens, meanwhile, till time shall call it forth
From the low modest shade, to light and bless the earth.
Has Nature, in her calm, majestic march
Faltered with age at last? does the bright sun
Grow dim in heaven? or, in their far blue arch,
Sparkle the crowd of stars, when day is done,
Less brightly? when the dew-lipped Spring comes on,
Breathes she with airs less soft, or scents the sky
With flowers less fair than when her reign begun?
Does prodigal Autumn, to our age, deny
The plenty that once swelled beneath his sober eye?
Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth
In her fair page; see, every season brings
New change, to her, of everlasting youth;
Still the green soil, with joyous living things,
Swarms, the wide air is full of joyous wings,
And myriads, still, are happy in the sleep
Of ocean's azure gulfs, and where he flings
The restless surge. Eternal Love doth keep
In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep.
Will then the merciful One, who stamped our race
With his own image, and who gave them sway
O'er earth, and the glad dwellers on her face,
Now that our swarming nations far away
Are spread, where'er the moist earth drinks the day,
Forget the ancient care that taught and nursed
His latest offspring? will he quench the ray
Infused by his own forming smile at first,
And leave a work so fair all blighted and accursed?
Oh, no! a thousand cheerful omens give
Hope of yet happier days, whose dawn is nigh.
He who has tamed the elements, shall not live
The slave of his own passions; he whose eye
Unwinds the eternal dances of the sky,
And in the abyss of brightness dares to span
The sun's broad circle, rising yet more high,
In God's magnificent works his will shall scan--
And love and peace shall make their paradise with man.
Sit at the feet of history--through the night
Of years the steps of virtue she shall trace,
And show the earlier ages, where her sight
Can pierce the eternal shadows o'er their face;--
When, from the genial cradle of our race,
Went forth the tribes of men, their pleasant lot
To choose, where palm-groves cooled their dwelling-place,
Or freshening rivers ran; and there forgot
The truth of heaven, and kneeled to gods that heard them not.
Then waited not the murderer for the night,
But smote his brother down in the bright day,
And he who felt the wrong, and had the might,
His own avenger, girt himself to slay;
Beside the path the unburied carcass lay;
The shepherd, by the fountains of the glen,
Fled, while the robber swept his flock away,
And slew his babes. The sick, untended then,
Languished in the damp shade, and died afar from men.
But misery brought in love--in passion's strife
Man gave his heart to mercy, pleading long,
And sought out gentle deeds to gladden life;
The weak, against the sons of spoil and wrong,
Banded, and watched their hamlets, and grew strong.
States rose, and, in the shadow of their might,
The timid rested. To the reverent throng,
Grave and time-wrinkled men, with locks all white,
Gave laws, and judged their strifes, and taught the way of right;
Till bolder spirits seized the rule, and nailed
On men the yoke that man should never bear,
And drove them forth to battle. Lo! unveiled
The scene of those stern ages! What is there!
A boundless sea of blood, and the wild air
Moans with the crimson surges that entomb
Cities and bannered armies; forms that wear
The kingly circlet rise, amid the gloom,
O'er the dark wave, and straight are swallowed in its womb.
Those ages have no memory--but they left
A record in the desert--columns strown
On the waste sands, and statues fallen and cleft,
Heaped like a host in battle overthrown;
Vast ruins, where the mountain's ribs of stone
Were hewn into a city; streets that spread
In the dark earth, where never breath has blown
Of heaven's sweet air, nor foot of man dares tread
The long and perilous ways--the Cities of the Dead:
And tombs of monarchs to the clouds up-piled--
They perished--but the eternal tombs remain--
And the black precipice, abrupt and wild,
Pierced by long toil and hollowed to a fane;--
Huge piers and frowning forms of gods sustain
The everlasting arches, dark and wide,
Like the night-heaven, when clouds are black with rain.
But idly skill was tasked, and strength was plied,
All was the work of slaves to swell a despot's pride.
And Virtue cannot dwell with slaves, nor reign
O'er those who cower to take a tyrant's yoke;
She left the down-trod nations in disdain,
And flew to Greece, when Liberty awoke,
New-born, amid those glorious vales, and broke
Sceptre and chain with her fair youthful hands:
As rocks are shivered in the thunder-stroke.
And lo! in full-grown strength, an empire stands
Of leagued and rival states, the wonder of the lands.
Oh, Greece! thy flourishing cities were a spoil
Unto each other; thy hard hand oppressed
And crushed the helpless; thou didst make thy soil
Drunk with the blood of those that loved thee best;
And thou didst drive, from thy unnatural breast,
Thy just and brave to die in distant climes;
Earth shuddered at thy deeds, and sighed for rest
From thine abominations; after times,
That yet shall read thy tale, will tremble at thy crimes.
Yet there was that within thee which has saved
Thy glory, and redeemed thy blotted name;
The story of thy better deeds, engraved
On fame's unmouldering pillar, puts to shame
Our chiller virtue; the high art to tame
The whirlwind of the passions was thine own;
And the pure ray, that from thy bosom came,
Far over many a land and age has shone,
And mingles with the light that beams from God's own throne;
And Rome--thy sterner, younger sister, she
Who awed the world with her imperial frown--
Rome drew the spirit of her race from thee,--
The rival of thy shame and thy renown.
Yet her degenerate children sold the crown
Of earth's wide kingdoms to a line of slaves;
Guilt reigned, and we with guilt, and plagues came down,
Till the north broke its floodgates, and the waves
Whelmed the degraded race, and weltered o'er their graves.
Vainly that ray of brightness from above,
That shone around the Galilean lake,
The light of hope, the leading star of love,
Struggled, the darkness of that day to break;
Even its own faithless guardians strove to slake,
In fogs of earth, the pure immortal flame;
And priestly hands, for Jesus' blessed sake,
Were red with blood, and charity became,
In that stern war of forms, a mockery and a name.
They triumphed, and less bloody rites were kept
Within the quiet of the convent cell:
The well-fed inmates pattered prayer, and slept,
And sinned, and liked their easy penance well.
Where pleasant was the spot for men to dwell,
Amid its fair broad lands the abbey lay,
Sheltering dark orgies that were shame to tell,
And cowled and barefoot beggars swarmed the way,
All in their convent weeds, of black, and white, and gray.
Oh, sweetly the returning muses' strain
Swelled over that famed stream, whose gentle tide
In their bright lap the Etrurian vales detain,
Sweet, as when winter storms have ceased to chide,
And all the new-leaved woods, resounding wide,
Send out wild hymns upon the scented air.
Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side
The emulous nations of the west repair,
And kindle their quenched urns, and drink fresh spirit there.
Still, Heaven deferred the hour ordained to rend
From saintly rottenness the sacred stole;
And cowl and worshipped shrine could still defend
The wretch with felon stains upon his soul;
And crimes were set to sale, and hard his dole
Who could not bribe a passage to the skies;
And vice, beneath the mitre's kind control,
Sinned gaily on, and grew to giant size,
Shielded by priestly power, and watched by priestly eyes.
At last the earthquake came--the shock, that hurled
To dust, in many fragments dashed and strown,
The throne, whose roots were in another world,
And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own.
From many a proud monastic pile, o'erthrown,
Fear-struck, the hooded inmates rushed and fled;
The web, that for a thousand years had grown
O'er prostrate Europe, in that day of dread
Crumbled and fell, as fire dissolves the flaxen thread.
The spirit of that day is still awake,
And spreads himself, and shall not sleep again;
But through the idle mesh of power shall break
Like billows o'er the Asian monarch's chain;
Till men are filled with him, and feel how vain,
Instead of the pure heart and innocent hands,
Are all the proud and pompous modes to gain
The smile of heaven;--till a new age expands
Its white and holy wings above the peaceful lands.
For look again on the past years;--behold,
How like the nightmare's dreams have flown away
Horrible forms of worship, that, of old,
Held, o'er the shuddering realms, unquestioned sway:
See crimes, that feared not once the eye of day,
Rooted from men, without a name or place:
See nations blotted out from earth, to pay
The forfeit of deep guilt;--with glad embrace
The fair disburdened lands welcome a nobler race.
Thus error's monstrous shapes from earth are driven;
They fade, they fly--but truth survives their flight;
Earth has no shades to quench that beam of heaven;
Each ray that shone, in early time, to light
The faltering footsteps in the path of right,
Each gleam of clearer brightness shed to aid
In man's maturer day his bolder sight,
All blended, like the rainbow's radiant braid,
Pour yet, and still shall pour, the blaze that cannot fade.
Late, from this western shore, that morning chased
The deep and ancient night, that threw its shroud
O'er the green land of groves, the beautiful waste,
Nurse of full streams, and lifter-up of proud
Sky-mingling mountains that o'erlook the cloud.
Erewhile, where yon gay spires their brightness rear,
Trees waved, and the brown hunter's shouts were loud
Amid the forest; and the bounding deer
Fled at the glancing plume, and the gaunt wolf yelled near;
And where his willing waves yon bright blue bay
Sends up, to kiss his decorated brim,
And cradles, in his soft embrace, the gay
Young group of grassy islands born of him,
And crowding nigh, or in the distance dim,
Lifts the white throng of sails, that bear or bring
The commerce of the world;--with tawny limb,
And belt and beads in sunlight glistening,
The savage urged his skiff like wild bird on the wing.
Then all this youthful paradise around,
And all the broad and boundless mainland, lay
Cooled by the interminable wood, that frowned
O'er mount and vale, where never summer ray
Glanced, till the strong tornado broke his way
Through the gray giants of the sylvan wild;
Yet many a sheltered glade, with blossoms gay,
Beneath the showery sky and sunshine mild,
Within the shaggy arms of that dark forest smiled.
There stood the Indian hamlet, there the lake
Spread its blue sheet that flashed with many an oar,
Where the brown otter plunged him from the brake,
And the deer drank: as the light gale flew o'er,
The twinkling maize-field rustled on the shore;
And while that spot, so wild, and lone, and fair,
A look of glad and guiltless beauty wore,
And peace was on the earth and in the air,
The warrior lit the pile, and bound his captive there:
Not unavenged--the foeman, from the wood,
Beheld the deed, and when the midnight shade
Was stillest, gorged his battle-axe with blood;
All died--the wailing babe--the shrieking maid--
And in the flood of fire that scathed the glade,
The roofs went down; but deep the silence grew,
When on the dewy woods the day-beam played;
No more the cabin smokes rose wreathed and blue,
And ever, by their lake, lay moored the light canoe.
Look now abroad--another race has filled
These populous borders--wide the wood recedes,
And towns shoot up, and fertile realms are tilled:
The land is full of harvests and green meads;
Streams numberless, that many a fountain feeds,
Shine, disembowered, and give to sun and breeze
Their virgin waters; the full region leads
New colonies forth, that toward the western seas
Spread, like a rapid flame among the autumnal trees.
Here the free spirit of mankind, at length,
Throws its last fetters off; and who shall place
A limit to the giant's unchained strength,
Or curb his swiftness in the forward race!
Far, like the cornet's way through infinite space
Stretches the long untravelled path of light,
Into the depths of ages: we may trace,
Distant, the brightening glory of its flight,
Till the receding rays are lost to human sight.
Europe is given a prey to sterner fates,
And writhes in shackles; strong the arms that chain
To earth her struggling multitude of states;
She too is strong, and might not chafe in vain
Against them, but might cast to earth the train
That trample her, and break their iron net.
Yes, she shall look on brighter days and gain
The meed of worthier deeds; the moment set
To rescue and raise up, draws near--but is not yet.
But thou, my country, thou shalt never fall,
Save with thy children--thy maternal care,
Thy lavish love, thy blessings showered on all--
These are thy fetters--seas and stormy air
Are the wide barrier of thy borders, where,
Among thy gallant sons that guard thee well,
Thou laugh'st at enemies: who shall then declare
The date of thy deep-founded strength, or tell
How happy, in thy lap, the sons of men shall dwell.
How will it dawn, the coming Christmas Day?
A northern Christmas, such as painters love,
And kinsfolk, shaking hands but once a year,
And dames who tell old legends by the fire?
Red sun, blue sky, white snow, and pearled ice,
Keen ringing air, which sets the blood on fire,
And makes the old man merry with the young,
Through the short sunshine, through the longer night?
Or southern Christmas, dark and dank with mist,
And heavy with the scent of steaming leaves,
And rosebuds mouldering on the dripping porch;
One twilight, without rise or set of sun,
Till beetles drone along the hollow lane,
And round the leafless hawthorns, flitting bats
Hawk the pale moths of winter? Welcome then
At best, the flying gleam, the flying shower,
The rain-pools glittering on the long white roads,
And shadows sweeping on from down to down
Before the salt Atlantic gale: yet come
In whatsoever garb, or gay, or sad,
Come fair, come foul, 'twill still be Christmas Day.
How will it dawn, the coming Christmas Day?
To sailors lounging on the lonely deck
Beneath the rushing trade-wind? Or to him,
Who by some noisome harbour of the East,
Watches swart arms roll down the precious bales,
Spoils of the tropic forests; year by year
Amid the din of heathen voices, groaning
Himself half heathen? How to those-brave hearts!
Who toil with laden loins and sinking stride
Beside the bitter wells of treeless sands
Toward the peaks which flood the ancient Nile,
To free a tyrant's captives? How to those-
New patriarchs of the new-found underworld-
Who stand, like Jacob, on the virgin lawns,
And count their flocks' increase? To them that day
Shall dawn in glory, and solstitial blaze
Of full midsummer sun: to them that morn,
Gay flowers beneath their feet, gay birds aloft,
Shall tell of nought but summer: but to them,
Ere yet, unwarned by carol or by chime,
They spring into the saddle, thrills may come
From that great heart of Christendom which beats
Round all the worlds; and gracious thoughts of youth;
Of steadfast folk, who worship God at home;
Of wise words, learnt beside their mothers' knee;
Of innocent faces upturned once again
In awe and joy to listen to the tale
Of God made man, and in a manger laid-
May soften, purify, and raise the soul
From selfish cares, and growing lust of gain,
And phantoms of this dream which some call life,
Toward the eternal facts; for here or there,
Summer or winter, 'twill be Christmas Day.
Blest day, which aye reminds us, year by year,
What 'tis to be a man: to curb and spurn
The tyrant in us; that ignobler self
Which boasts, not loathes, its likeness to the brute,
And owns no good save ease, no ill save pain,
No purpose, save its share in that wild war
In which, through countless ages, living things
Compete in internecine greed.-Ah God!
Are we as creeping things, which have no Lord?
That we are brutes, great God, we know too well;
Apes daintier-featured; silly birds who flaunt
Their plumes unheeding of the fowler's step;
Spiders, who catch with paper, not with webs;
Tigers, who slay with cannon and sharp steel,
Instead of teeth and claws;-all these we are.
Are we no more than these, save in degree?
No more than these; and born but to compete-
To envy and devour, like beast or herb;
Mere fools of nature; puppets of strong lusts,
Taking the sword, to perish with the sword
Upon the universal battle-field,
Even as the things upon the moor outside?
The heath eats up green grass and delicate flowers,
The pine eats up the heath, the grub the pine,
The finch the grub, the hawk the silly finch;
And man, the mightiest of all beasts of prey,
Eats what he lists; the strong eat up the weak,
The many eat the few; great nations, small;
And he who cometh in the name of all-
He, greediest, triumphs by the greed of all;
And, armed by his own victims, eats up all:
While ever out of the eternal heavens
Looks patient down the great magnanimous God,
Who, Maker of all worlds, did sacrifice
All to Himself? Nay, but Himself to one;
Who taught mankind on that first Christmas Day,
What 'twas to be a man; to give, not take;
To serve, not rule; to nourish, not devour;
To help, not crush; if need, to die, not live.
O blessed day, which givest the eternal lie
To self, and sense, and all the brute within;
Oh, come to us, amid this war of life;
To hall and hovel, come; to all who toil
In senate, shop, or study; and to those
Who, sundered by the wastes of half a world,
Ill-warned, and sorely tempted, ever face
Nature's brute powers, and men unmanned to brutes-
Come to them, blest and blessing, Christmas Day.
Tell them once more the tale of Bethlehem;
The kneeling shepherds, and the Babe Divine:
And keep them men indeed, fair Christmas Day.
The Ages of Man
Laid in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
I saw within my troubled head a heap of thoughts appear,
And every thought did show so lively in mine eyes,
That now I sigh'd, and then I smil'd, as cause of thought did rise.
I saw the little boy, in thought how oft that he
Did wish of God to scape the rod, a tall young man to be;
The young man eke, that feels his bones with pains oppress'd,
How he would be a rich old man, to live and lie at rest;
The rich old man, that sees his end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again, to live so much the more.
Whereat full oft I smil'd, to see how all these three,
From boy to man, from man to boy, would chop and change degree.
And musing thus, I think the case is very strange
That man from wealth, to live in woe, doth ever seek to change.
Thus thoughtful as I lay, I saw my wither'd skin,
How it doth show my dinted jaws, the flesh was worn so thin;
And eke my toothless chaps, the gates of my right way,
That opes and shuts as I do speak, do thus unto me say:
"Thy white and hoarish hairs, the messengers of age,
That show like lines of true belief that this life doth assuage,
Bids thee lay hand and feel them hanging on thy chin,
The which do write two ages past, the third now coming in.
Hang up, therefore, the bit of thy young wanton time,
And thou that therein beaten art, the happiest life define."
Whereat I sigh'd and said: "Farewell, my wonted joy,
Truss up thy pack and trudge from me to every little boy,
And tell them thus from me: their time most happy is,
If to their time they reason had to know the truth of this."
The Birth of The War-God (Canto Sixth ) - Uma's Espousals
Now gentle Umá bade a damsel bear
To Śiva, Soul of All, her maiden prayer:
'Wait the high sanction of Himálaya's will,
And ask his daughter from the royal hill.'
Then ere the God, her own dear Lord, replied,
In blushing loveliness she sought his side.
Thus the young mango hails the approaching spring
By its own tuneful bird's sweet welcoming.
In Umá's ear he softly whispered, yea,
Then scarce could tear him from her arms away.
Swift with a thought he summoned from above
The Seven bright Saints to bear his tale of love.
They came, and She, the Heavenly Dame, was there,
Lighting with glories all the radiant air;
Just freshly bathed in sacred Gangá's tide,
Gemmed with the dancing flowers that deck her side,
And richly scented with the nectarous rill
That heavenly elephants from their brows distil.
Fair strings of pearl their radiant fingers hold,
Clothed are their limbs in hermit-coats of gold;
Their rosaries, large gems of countless price,
Shone like the fruit that glows in Paradise,
As though the glorious trees that blossom there
Had sought the forest for a life of prayer.
With all his thousand beams the God of Day,
Urging his coursers down the sloping way,
His banner furled at the approach of night,
Looks up in reverence on those lords of light.
Ancient creators: thus the wise, who know,
Gave them a name in ages long ago:
With Brahmá joining in creation's plan,
And perfecting the work His will began;
Still firm in penance, though the hermit-vow
Bears a ripe harvest for the sages now.
Brightest in glory 'mid that glorious band
See the fair Queen, the Heavenly Lady, stand.
Fixing her loving eyes upon her spouse,
She seemed sent forth to crown the sage's vows
With sweet immortal joy, the dearest prize
Strong prayer could merit from the envious skies.
With equal honour on the Queen and all
Did the kind glance of Śiva's welcome fall.
No partial favour by the good is shown:
They count not station, but the deed alone.
So fair she shone upon his raptured view,
He longed for wedlock's heavenly pleasures too.
What hath such power to lead the soul above
By virtue's pleasant path as wedded love!
Scarce had the holy motive lent its aid
To knit great Śiva to the Mountain-Maid,
When Káma's spirit that had swooned in fear
Breathed once again and deemed forgiveness near.
The ancient Sages reverently adored
The world's great Father and its Sovran Lord,
And while a soft ecstatic thrilling ran
O'er their celestial frames, they thus began:
'Glorious the fruit our holy studies bear,
Our constant penance, sacrifice and prayer.
For that high place within thy thoughts we gain
Which fancy strives to reach, but longs in vain.
How blest is he, the glory of the wise,
Deep in whose thoughtful breast thy Godhead lies!
But who may tell his joy who rests enshrined,
O Brahmá's great Creator, in thy mind!
We dwell on high above the cold moon's ray;
Beneath our mansion glows the God of Day,
But now thy favour lends us brighter beams,
Blest with thy love our star unchanging gleams.
How should we tell what soul-entrancing bliss
Enthrals our spirit at an hour like this?
Great Lord of All, thou Soul of Life indwelling,
We crave one word thy wondrous nature telling.
Though to our eyes thy outward form be shown,
How can we know thee as thou shouldst be known?
In this thy present shape, we pray thee, say
Dost thou create? dost thou preserve or slay?
But speak thy wish; called from our starry rest
We wait, O Śiva, for our Lord's behest'
Then answered thus the Lord of glory, while
Flashed from his dazzling teeth so white a smile,
The moon that crowned him poured a larger stream
Of living splendour from that pearly gleam:
'Ye know, great Sages of a race divine,
No selfish want e'er prompts a deed of mine.
Do not the forms—eight varied forms—I wear,
The truth of this to all the world declare?
Now, as that thirsty bird that drinks the rain
Prays the kind clouds of heaven to soothe its pain,
So the Gods pray me, trembling 'neath their foe,
To send a child of mine and end their woe.
I seek the Mountain-Maiden as my bride:
Our hero son shall tame the demon's pride.
Thus the priest bids the holy fire arise,
Struck from the wood to aid the sacrifice.
Go, ask Himálaya for the lovely maid:
Blest are those bridals which the holy aid.
So shall more glorious honours gild my name,
And win the father yet a prouder fame.
Nor, O ye heavenly Sages, need I teach
What for the maiden's hand shall be your speech,
For still the wise in worthiest honour hold
The rules and precepts ye ordained of old.
This Lady too shall aid your mission there:
Best for such task a skilful matron's care.
And now, my heralds, to your task away,
Where proud Himálaya holds his royal sway;
Then meet me where this mighty torrent raves
Down the steep channel with its headlong waves.'
Thus while that holiest One his love confessed,
The hermits listened: from each saintly breast
Fled the false shame that yet had lingered there,
And love and wedlock showed divinely fair.
On through the heaven, o'er tracts of swordlike blue,
Towards the gay city, swift as thought, they flew,
Bright with high domes and palaces most fair,
As if proud Alaká were planted there,
Or Paradise poured forth, in showers that bless,
The rich o'erflowings of its loveliness.
Round lofty towers adorned with gems and gold
Her guardian stream the holy Gangá rolled.
On every side, the rampart's glowing crown,
Bright wreaths of fragrant flowers hung waving down,—
Flowers that might tempt the maids of heavenly birth
To linger fondly o'er that pride of earth.
Its noble elephants, unmoved by fear,
The distant roaring of the lions hear.
In beauty peerless, and unmatched in speed,
Its thousand coursers of celestial breed.
Through the broad streets bright sylphs and minstrels rove:
Its dames are Goddesses of stream and grove.
Hark! the drum echoes louder and more loud
From glittering halls whose spires are wrapt in cloud.
It were the thunder, but that voice of fear
Falls not in measured time upon the ear.
'Tis balmy cool, for many a heavenly tree,
With quivering leaves and branches waving free,
Sheds a delightful freshness through the air,—
Fans which no toil of man has stationed there.
The crystal chambers where they feast at night
Flash back the beamings of the starry light.
So brightly pure that silver gleam is shed,
Playing so fondly round each beauteous head,
That all seem gifted from those lights above
With richest tokens of superior love.
How blest its maidens! cloudless is their day,
And radiant herbs illume their nightly way.
No term of days, but endless youth they know;
No Death save him who bears the Flowery Bow:
Their direst swoon, their only frenzy this—
The trance of love, the ecstasy of bliss!
Ne'er can their lovers for one hour withstand
The frown, the quivering lip, the scornful hand;
But seek forgiveness of the angry fair,
And woo her smile with many an earnest prayer.
Around, wide gardens spread their pleasant bowers,
Where the bright Champac opes her fragrant flowers:
Dear shades, beloved by the sylphs that roam
In dewy evening from their mountain home.
Ah! why should mortals fondly strive to gain
Heaven and its joys by ceaseless toil and pain?
E'en the Saints envied as their steps drew near,
And owned a brighter heaven was opened here.
They lighted down; braided was each long tress,
Bright as the pictured flame, as motionless.
Himálaya's palace-warders in amaze
On the Seven Sages turned their eager gaze,—
A noble company of celestial race
Where each in order of his years had place,—
Glorious, as when the sun, his head inclining,
Sees his own image 'mid the waters shining.
To greet them with a gift Himálaya sped,
Earth to her centre shaking at his tread.
By his dark lips with mountain metals dyed,
His arms like pines that clothe his lofty side:
By his proud stature, by his stony breast,
Lord of the Snowy Hills he stood confest.
On to his Council-hall he led the way,
Nor failed due honour to the Saints to pay.
On couch of reed the Monarch bade them rest,
And thus with uplift hands those Heavenly Lords addressed:
'Like soft rain falling from a cloudless sky,
Or fruit, when bloom has failed to glad the eye,
So are ye welcome, Sages; thus I feel
Ecstatic thrilling o'er my spirit steal,
Changed, like dull senseless iron to burning gold,
Or some rapt creature, when the heavens unfold
To eyes yet dim with tears of earthly care,
The rest, the pleasures, and the glory there.
Long pilgrim bands from this auspicious day
To my pure hill shall bend their constant way.
Famed shall it be o'er all the lands around,
For where the good have been is holy ground.
Now am I doubly pure, for Gangá's tide
Falls on my head from heaven and laves my side.
Henceforth I boast a second stream as sweet,
The water, Sages, that has touched your feet.
Twice by your favour is Himálaya blest,—
This towery mountain that your feet have prest,
And this my moving form is happier still
To wait your bidding, to perform your will.
These mighty limbs that fill the heaven's expanse
Sink down, o'erpowered, in a blissful trance.
So bright your presence, at the glorious sight
My brooding shades of darkness turn to light.
The gloom that haunts my mountain caverns flies,
And cloudy passion in the spirit dies.
O say, if here your arrowy course ye sped
To throw fresh glory round my towering head.
Surely your wish, ye Mighty Ones, can crave
No aid, no service from your willing slave.
Yet deem me worthy of some high behest:
The lord commandeth, and the slave is blest.
Declare your pleasure, then, bright heavenly band:
We crave no guerdon but your sole command.
Yours are we all, Himálaya and his bride,
And this dear maiden child our hope and pride.'
Not once he spake: his cavern mouths around
In hollow echoings gave again the sound.
Of all who speak beyond compare the best,
Angiras answered at the Saints' request:
'This power hast thou, great King, and mightier far,
Thy mind is lofty as thy summits are.
Sages say truly, Vishṇu is thy name:
His spirit breatheth in thy mountain frame.
Within the caverns of thy boundless breast
All things that move and all that move not rest.
How on his head so soft, so delicate,
Could the great Snake uphold the huge earth's weight,
Did not thy roots, far-reaching down to hell,
Bear up the burden and assist him well?
Thy streams of praise, thy pure rills' ceaseless flow
Make glad the nations wheresoe'er they go,
Till, shedding purity on every side,
They sink at length in boundless Ocean's tide.
Blest is fair Gangá, for her heavenly stream
Flows from the feet of him that sits supreme;
And blest once more, O mighty Hill, is she
That her bright waters spring anew from thee.
Vast grew his body when the avenging God
In three huge strides o'er all creation trod.
Above, below, his form increased, but thou
Wast ever glorious and as vast as now.
By thee is famed Sumeru forced to hide
His flashing rays and pinnacles of pride,
For thou hast won thy station in the skies
'Mid the great Gods who claim the sacrifice.
Firm and unmoved remains thy lofty hill,
Yet thou canst bow before the holy still.
Now—for the glorious work will fall on thee,—
Hear thou the cause of this our embassy.
We also, Mountain Monarch, since we bear
To thee the message, in the labour share.
The Highest, Mightiest, Noblest One, adored
By the proud title of our Sovran Lord:
The crescent moon upon his brow bears he,
And wields the wondrous powers of Deity.
He in this earth and varied forms displayed,
Bound each to other by exchange of aid,
Guides the great world and all the things that are,
As flying coursers whirl the glittering car.
Him good men seek with holy thought and prayer,
Who fills their breast and makes his dwelling there.
When saints, we read, his lofty sphere attain,
They ne'er may fall to this base earth again:
His messengers, great King, we crave the hand
Of thy fair daughter at the God's command.
At such blest union, as of Truth and Voice,
A father's heart should grieve not, but rejoice.
Her Lord is Father of the world, and she
Of all that liveth shall the mother be.
Gods that adore him with the Neck of Blue
In homage bent shall hail the Lady too,
And give a glory to her feet with gems
That sparkle in their priceless diadems.
Hear what a roll shall blazon forth thy line,—
Maid, Father, Suitor, Messengers divine!
Give him the chosen lady, and aspire
To call thy son the Universe's Sire,
Who laudeth none, but all mankind shall raise
To Him through endless time the songs of praise.'
Thus while he spake the lady bent her head
To hide her cheek, now blushing rosy red,
And numbered o'er with seeming care the while
Her lotus' petals in sweet maiden guile.
With pride and joy Himálaya's heart beat high,
Yet ere he spake he looked to Mená's eye:
Full well he knew a mother's gentle care
Learns her child's heart and love's deep secret there,
And this the hour, he felt, when fathers seek
Her eye for answer or her changing cheek.
His eager look Himálaya scarce had bent
When Mená's eye beamed back her glad assent.
O gentle wives! your fondest wish is still
To have with him you love one heart, one will.
He threw his arms around the blushing maid
In queenly garment and in gems arrayed,
Awhile was silent, then in rapture cried,
'Come, O my daughter! Come, thou destined bride
Of Śiva, Lord of All: this glorious band
Of Saints have sought thee at the God's command;
And I thy sire this happy day obtain
The best reward a father's wish would gain.'
Then to the Saints he cried: 'Pure Hermits, see
The spouse of Śiva greets your company.'
They looked in rapture on the maid, and poured
Their fullest blessing on her heavenly lord.
So low she bowed, the gems that decked her hair
And sparkled in her ear fell loosened there;
Then with sweet modesty and joy opprest
She hid her blushes on the Lady's breast,
Who cheered the mother weeping for her child,
Her own dear Umá, till again she smiled:
Such bliss and glory should be hers above,
Yea, mighty Śiva's undivided love.
They named the fourth for Umá's nuptial day;
Then sped the Sages on their homeward way;
And thanked by Śiva with a gracious eye
Sought their bright rest amid the stars on high.
Through all those weary days the lover sighed
To wind his fond arms round his gentle bride.
Oh, if the Lord of Heaven could find no rest,
Think, think how Love, strong Love, can tear a mortal's breast!
The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea - Book The First
Awake a louder and a loftier strain!
Beloved harp, whose tones have oft beguiled
My solitary sorrows, when I left
The scene of happier hours, and wandered far,
A pale and drooping stranger; I have sat
(While evening listened to the convent bell)
On the wild margin of the Rhine, and wooed
Thy sympathies, 'a-weary of the world,'
And I have found with thee sad fellowship,
Yet always sweet, whene'er my languid hand
Passed carelessly o'er the responsive wires,
While unambitious of the laurelled meed
That crowns the gifted bard, I only asked
Some stealing melodies, the heart might love,
And a brief sonnet to beguile my tears!
But I had hope that one day I might wake
Thy strings to loftier utterance; and now,
Bidding adieu to glens, and woods, and streams,
And turning where, magnificent and vast,
Main Ocean bursts upon my sight, I strike,--
Rapt in the theme on which I long have mused,--
Strike the loud lyre, and as the blue waves rock,
Swell to their solemn roar the deepening chords.
Lift thy indignant billows high, proclaim
Thy terrors, Spirit of the hoary seas!
I sing thy dread dominion, amid wrecks,
And storms, and howling solitudes, to Man
Submitted: awful shade of Camoens
Bend from the clouds of heaven.
By the bold tones
Of minstrelsy, that o'er the unknown surge
(Where never daring sail before was spread)
Echoed, and startled from his long repose
The indignant Phantom of the stormy Cape;
Oh, let me think that in the winds I hear
Thy animating tones, whilst I pursue
With ardent hopes, like thee, my venturous way,
And bid the seas resound my song! And thou,
Father of Albion's streams, majestic Thames,
Amid the glittering scene, whose long-drawn wave
Goes noiseless, yet with conscious pride, beneath
The thronging vessels' shadows; nor through scenes
More fair, the yellow Tagus, or the Nile,
That ancient river, winds. THOU to the strain
Shalt haply listen, that records the MIGHT
Of OCEAN, like a giant at thy feet
Vanquished, and yielding to thy gentle state
The ancient sceptre of his dread domain!
All was one waste of waves, that buried deep
Earth and its multitudes: the Ark alone,
High on the cloudy van of Ararat,
Rested; for now the death-commissioned storm
Sinks silent, and the eye of day looks out
Dim through the haze; while short successive gleams
Flit o'er the weltering Deluge as it shrinks,
Or the transparent rain-drops, falling few,
Distinct and larger glisten. So the Ark
Rests upon Ararat; but nought around
Its inmates can behold, save o'er th' expanse
Of boundless waters, the sun's orient orb
Stretching the hull's long shadow, or the moon
In silence, through the silver-cinctured clouds,
Sailing as she herself were lost, and left
In Nature's loneliness!
But oh, sweet Hope,
Thou bid'st a tear of holy ecstasy
Start to their eye-lids, when at night the Dove,
Weary, returns, and lo! an olive leaf
Wet in her bill: again she is put forth,
When the seventh morn shines on the hoar abyss:--
Due evening comes: her wings are heard no more!
The dawn awakes, not cold and dripping sad,
But cheered with lovelier sunshine; far away
The dark-red mountains slow their naked peaks
Upheave above the waste; Imaus gleams;
Fume the huge torrents on his desert sides;
Till at the awful voice of Him who rules
The storm, the ancient Father and his train
On the dry land descend.
Here let us pause.
No noise in the vast circuit of the globe
Is heard; no sound of human stirring: none
Of pasturing herds, or wandering flocks; nor song
Of birds that solace the forsaken woods
From morn till eve; save in that spot that holds
The sacred Ark: there the glad sounds ascend,
And Nature listens to the breath of Life.
The fleet horse bounds, high-neighing to the wind
That lifts his streaming mane; the heifer lows;
Loud sings the lark amid the rainbow's hues;
The lion lifts him muttering; MAN comes forth--
He kneels upon the earth--he kisses it;
And to the GOD who stretched that radiant bow,
He lifts his trembling transports.
From one spot
Alone of earth such sounds ascend. How changed
The human prospect! when from realm to realm,
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle,
Flung to the stormy main, man's murmuring race,
Various and countless as the shells that strew
The ocean's winding marge, are spread; from shores
Sinensian, where the passing proas gleam
Innumerous 'mid the floating villages:
To Acapulco west, where laden deep
With gold and gems rolls the superb galleon,
Shadowing the hoar Pacific: from the North,
Where on some snowy promontory's height
The Lapland wizard beats his drum, and calls
The spirits of the winds, to th' utmost South,
Where savage Fuego shoots its cold white peaks,
Dreariest of lands, and the poor Pecherais
Shiver and moan along its waste of snows.
So stirs the earth; and for the Ark that passed
Alone and darkling o'er the dread abyss,
Ten thousand and ten thousand barks are seen
Fervent and glancing on the friths and sounds;
From the Bermudian that, with masts inclined,
Shoots like a dart along; to the tall ship
That, like a stately swan, in conscious pride
Breasts beautiful the rising surge, and throws
The gathered waters back, and seems to move
A living thing, along her lucid way
Streaming in white-winged glory to the sun!
Some waft the treasures of the east; some bear
Their country's dark artillery o'er the surge
Frowning; some in the southern solitudes,
Bound on discovery of new regions, spread,
'Mid rocks of driving ice, that crash around,
Their weather-beaten mainsail; or explore
Their perilous way from isle to isle, and wind
The tender social tie; connecting man,
Wherever scattered, with his fellow-man.
How many ages rolled away ere thus,
From NATURE'S GENERAL WRECK, the world's great scene
Was tenanted! See from their sad abode,
At Heaven's dread voice, heard from the solitude,
As in the dayspring of created things,
The sad survivors of a buried world
Come forth; on them, though desolate their seat,
The sky looks down with smiles; for the broad sun,
That to the west slopes his untired career,
Hangs o'er the water's brim. The aged sire,
Now rising from his evening sacrifice,
Amid his offspring stands, and lifts his eyes,
Moist with a tear, to the bright bow: the fire
Yet on the altar burns, whose trailing fume
Goes slowly up, and marks the lucid cope
Of the soft sky, where distant clouds hang still
And beautiful. So placid Evening steals
After the lurid storm, like a sweet form
Of fairy following a perturbed shape
Of giant terror, that in darkness strode.
Slow sinks the lord of day; the clustering clouds
More ardent burn; confusion of rich hues,
Crimson, and gold, and purple, bright, inlay
Their varied edges; till before the eye,
As their last lustre fades, small silver stars
Succeed; and twinkling each in its own sphere,
Thick as the frost's unnumbered spangles, strew
The slowly-paling heavens. Tired Nature seems
Like one who, struggling long for life, had beat
The billows, and scarce gained a desert crag,
O'er-spent, to sink to rest: the tranquil airs
Whisper repose. Now sunk in sleep reclines
The Father of the world; then the sole moon
Mounts high in shadowy beauty; every cloud
Retires, as in the blue space she moves on
Amid the fulgent orbs supreme, and looks
The queen of heaven and earth. Stilly the streams
Retiring sound; midnight's high hollow vault
Faint echoes; stilly sound the distant streams.
When, hark! a strange and mingled wail, and cries
As of ten thousand thousand perishing!
A phantom, 'mid the shadows of the dead,
Before the holy Patriarch, as he slept,
Stood terrible:--Dark as a storm it stood
Of thunder and of winds, like hollow seas
Remote; meantime a voice was heard: Behold,
Noah, the foe of thy weak race! my name
Destruction, whom thy sons in yonder plains
Shall worship, and all grim, with mooned horns
Paint fabling: when the flood from off the earth
Before it swept the living multitudes,
I rode amid the hurricane; I heard
The universal shriek of all that lived.
In vain they climbed the rocky heights: I struck
The adamantine mountains, and like dust
They crumbled in the billowy foam. My hall,
Deep in the centre of the seas, received
The victims as they sank! Then, with dark joy,
I sat amid ten thousand carcases,
That weltered at my feet! But THOU and THINE
Have braved my utmost fury: what remains
But vengeance, vengeance on thy hated race;--
And be that sheltering shrine the instrument!
Thence, taught to stem the wild sea when it roars,
In after-times to lands remote, where roamed
The naked man and his wan progeny,
They, more instructed in the fatal use
Of arts and arms, shall ply their way; and thou
Wouldst bid the great deep cover thee to see
The sorrows of thy miserable sons:
But turn, and view in part the truths I speak.
He said, and vanished with a dismal sound
Of lamentation from his grisly troop.
Then saw the just man in his dream what seemed
A new and savage land: huge forests stretched
Their world of wood, shading like night the banks
Of torrent-foaming rivers, many a league
Wandering and lost in solitudes; green isles
Here shone, and scattered huts beneath the shade
Of branching palms were seen; whilst in the sun
A naked infant playing, stretched his hand
To reach a speckled snake, that through the leaves
Oft darted, or its shining volumes rolled
From the woods a sable man
Came, as from hunting; in his arms he took
The smiling child, that with the feathers played
Which nodded on his brow; the sheltering hut
Received them, and the cheerful smoke went up
Above the silent woods.
Anon was heard
The sound as of strange thunder, from the mouths
Of hollow engines, as, with white sails spread,
Tall vessels, hulled like the great Ark, approached
The verdant shores: they, in a woody cove
Safe-stationed, hang their pennants motionless
Beneath the palms. Meantime, with shouts and song,
The boat rows hurrying to the land; nor long
Ere the great sea for many a league is tinged,
While corpse on corpse, down the red torrent rolled,
Floats, and the inmost forests murmur--Blood.
Now vast savannahs meet the view, where high
Above the arid grass the serpent lifts
His tawny crest:--Not far a vessel rides
Upon the sunny main, and to the shore
Black savage tribes a mournful captive urge,
Who looks to heaven with anguish. Him they cast
Bound in the rank hold of the prison-ship,
With many a sad associate in despair,
Each panting chained to his allotted space;
And moaning, whilst their wasted eye-balls roll.
Another scene appears: the naked slave
Writhes to the bloody lash; but more to view
Nature forbad, for starting from his dream
The just Man woke. Shuddering he gazed around;
He saw the earliest beam of morning shine
Slant on the hills without; he heard the breath
Of placid kine, but troubled thoughts and sad
Arose. He wandered forth; and now far on,
By heavy musings led, reached a ravine
Most mild amid the tempest-riven rocks,
Through whose dark pass he saw the flood remote
Gray-spreading, while the mists of morn went up.
He paused; when on his lonely pathway flashed
A light, and sounds as of approaching wings
Instant were heard. A radiant form appeared,
Celestial, and with heavenly accent said:
Noah, I come commissioned from above,
Where angels move before th' eternal throne
Of heaven's great King in glory, to dispel
The mists of darkness from thy sight; for know,
Not unpermitted of th' Eternal One
The shadows of thy melancholy dream
Hung o'er thee slumbering: Mine the task to show
Futurity's faint scene;--now follow me.
He said; and up to the unclouded height
Of that great Eastern mountain, that surveys
Dim Asia, they ascended. Then his brow
The Angel touched, and cleared with whispered charm
The mortal mist before his eyes.--At once
(As in the skiey mirage, when the seer
From lonely Kilda's western summit sees
A wondrous scene in shadowy vision rise)
The NETHER WORLD, with seas and shores, appeared
Submitted to his view: but not as then,
A melancholy waste, deform and sad;
But fair as now the green earth spreads, with woods,
Champaign, and hills, and many winding streams
Robed, the magnificent illusion rose.
He saw in mazy longitude devolved
The mighty Brahma-Pooter; to the East
Thibet and China, and the shining sea
That sweeps the inlets of Japan, and winds
Amid the Curile and Aleutian isles,
Pale to the north. Siberia's snowy scenes
Are spread; Jenisca and the freezing Ob
Appear, and many a forest's shady track
Far as the Baltic, and the utmost bounds
Of Scandinavia; thence the eye returns:
And lo! great Lebanon--abrupt and dark
With pines, and airy Carmel, rising slow
Above the midland main, where hang the capes
Of Italy and Greece; swart Africa,
Beneath the parching sun, her long domain
Reveals, the mountains of the Moon, the source
Of Nile, the wild mysterious Niger, lost
Amid the torrid sands; and to the south
Her stormy cape. Beyond the misty main
The weary eye scarce wanders, when behold
Plata, through vaster territory poured;
And Andes, sweeping the horizon's tract,
Mightiest of mountains! whose eternal snows
Feel not the nearer sun; whose umbrage chills
The murmuring ocean; whose volcanic fires
A thousand nations view, hung like the moon
High in the middle waste of heaven; thy range,
Shading far off the Southern hemisphere,
A dusky file Titanic.
Before our great forefather's view the globe
Appeared; with seas, and shady continents,
And verdant isles, and mountains lifting dark
Their forests, and indenting rivers, poured
In silvery maze. And, Lo! the Angel said,
These scenes, O Noah, thy posterity
Shall people; but remote and scattered wide,
They shall forget their GOD, and see no trace,
Save dimly, of their Great Original.
Rude caves shall be their dwellings: till, with noise
Of multitudes, imperial cities rise.
But the Arch Fiend, the foe of GOD and man,
Shall fling his spells; and, 'mid illusions drear,
Blear Superstition shall arise, the earth
Eclipsing.--Deep in caves, vault within vault
Far winding; or in night of thickest woods,
Where no bird sings; or 'mid huge circles gray
Of uncouth stone, her aspect wild, and pale
As the terrific flame that near her burns,
She her mysterious rites, 'mid hymns and cries,
Shall wake, and to her shapeless idols, vast
And smeared with blood, or shrines of lust, shall lead
Her votaries, maddening as she waves her torch,
With visage more expanded, to the groans
Of human sacrifice.
Nor think that love
And happiness shall dwell in vales remote:
The naked man shall see the glorious sun,
And think it but enlightens his poor isle,
Hid in the watery waste; cold on his limbs
The ocean-spray shall beat; his Deities
Shall be the stars, the thunder, and the winds;
And if a stranger on his rugged shores
Be cast, his offered blood shall stain the strand.
O wretched man! who then shall raise thee up
From this thy dark estate, forlorn and lost?
The Patriarch said.
The Angel answered mild,
His God, who destined him to noblest ends!
But mutual intercourse shall stir at first
The sunk and grovelling spirit, and from sleep
The sullen energies of man rouse up,
As of a slumbering giant. He shall walk
Sublime amid the works of GOD: the earth
Shall own his wide dominion; the great sea
Shall toss in vain its roaring waves; his eye
Shall scan the bright orbs as they roll above
Glorious, and his expanding heart shall burn,
As wide and wider in magnificence
The vast scene opens; in the winds and clouds,
The seas, and circling planets, he shall see
The shadow of a dread Almighty move.
Then shall the Dayspring rise, before whose beam
The darkness of the world is past:--For, hark!
Seraphs and angel-choirs with symphonies
Acclaiming of ten thousand golden harps,
Amid the bursting clouds of heaven revealed,
At once, in glory jubilant, they sing--
God the Redeemer liveth! He who took
Man's nature on him, and in human shroud
Veiled his immortal glory! He is risen!
God the Redeemer liveth! And behold!
The gates of life and immortality
Open to all that breathe!
Oh, might the strains
But win the world to love; meek Charity
Should lift her looks and smile; and with faint voice
The weary pilgrim of the earth exclaim,
As close his eye-lids--Death, where is thy sting?
O Grave, where is thy victory?
Whom ocean's melancholy wastes divide,
Who slumber to the sullen surge, awake,
Break forth into thanksgiving, for the bark
That rolled upon the desert deep, shall bear
The tidings of great joy to all that live,
Tidings of life and light.
Oh, were those men,
(The Patriarch raised his drooping looks, and said)
Such in my dream I saw, who to the isles
And peaceful sylvan scenes o'er the wide seas
Came tilting; then their murderous instruments
Lifted, that flashed to the indignant sun,
Whilst the poor native died:--Oh, were those men
Instructed in the laws of holier love,
Thou hast displayed?
The Angel meek replied--
Call rather fiends of hell those who abuse
The mercies they receive: that such, indeed,
On whom the light of clearer knowledge beams,
Should wander forth, and for the tender voice
Of charity should scatter crimes and woe,
And drench, where'er they pass, the earth with blood,
Might make ev'n angels weep:
But the poor tribes
That groaned and died, deem not them innocent
As injured; more ensanguined rites and deeds
Of deepest stain were theirs; and what if God,
So to approve his justice, and exact
Most even retribution, blood for blood,
Bid forth the Angel of the storm of death!
Thou saw'st, indeed, the seeming innocence
Of man the savage; but thou saw'st not all.
Behold the scene more near! hear the shrill whoop
Of murderous war! See tribes on neighbour tribes
Rush howling, their red hatchets wielding high,
And shouting to their barbarous gods! Behold
The captive bound, yet vaunting direst hate,
And mocking his tormentors, while they gash
His flesh unshrinking, tear his eyeballs, burn
His beating breast! Hear the dark temples ring
To groans and hymns of murderous sacrifice;
While the stern priest, the rites of horror done,
With hollow-echoing chaunt lifts up the heart
Of the last victim 'mid the yelling throng,
Quivering, and red, and reeking to the sun!
Reclaimed by gradual intercourse, his heart
Warmed with new sympathies, the forest-chief
Shall cast the bleeding hatchet to his gods
Of darkness, and one Lord of all adore--
Maker of heaven and earth.
Let it suffice,
He hath permitted EVIL for a while
To mingle its deep hues and sable shades
Amid life's fair perspective, as thou saw'st
Of late the blackening clouds; but in the end
All these shall roll away, and evening still
Come smilingly, while the great sun looks down
On the illumined scene. So Charity
Shall smile on all the earth, and Nature's God
Look down upon his works; and while far off
The shrieking night-fiends fly, one voice shall rise
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle--
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
Peace and good-will to men!
Thou rest in hope,
And Him with meekness and with trust adore!
He said, and spreading bright his ampler wing,
Flew to the heaven of heavens; the meek man bowed
Adoring, and, with pensive thoughts resigned,
Bent from the aching height his lonely way.
The Abencerrage : Canto II.
Fair land! of chivalry the old domain,
Land of the vine and olive, lovely Spain!
Though not for thee with classic shores to vie
In charms that fix the enthusiast's pensive eye;
Yet hast thou scenes of beauty, richly fraught
With all that wakes the glow of lofty thought;
Fountains, and vales, and rocks, whose ancient name
High deeds have raised to mingle with their fame.
Those scenes are peaceful now: the citron blows,
Wild spreads the myrtle, where the brave repose.
No sound of battle swells on Douro's shore,
And banners wave on Ebro's banks no more.
But who, unmoved, unawed, shall coldly tread
Thy fields that sepulchre the mighty dead?
Blest be that soil! where England's heroes share
The grave of chiefs, for ages slumbering there;
Whose names are glorious in romantic lays,
The wild, sweet chronicles of elder days -
By goathered lone, and rude serrano sung,
Thy cypress dells, and vine-clad rocks among:
How oft those rocks have echoed to the tale
Of knights who fell in Roncesvalles' vale;
Of him, renowned in old heroic lore,
First of the brave, the gallant Campeador;
Of those, the famed in song, who proudly died
When 'Rio Verde' rolled a crimson tide;
Or that high name, by Garcilaso's might,
On the green Vega won in single fight.
Round fair Granada, deepening from afar,
O'er that green Vega rose the din of war.
At morn or eve no more the sunbeams shone
O'er a calm scene, in pastoral beauty lone;
On helm and corslet tremulous they glanced,
On shield and spear in quivering lustre danced,
Far as the sight by clear Xenil could rove,
Tents rose around, and banners glanced above.
And steeds in gorgeous trappings, armour bright
With gold, reflecting every tint of light,
And many a floating plume, and blazoned shield
Diffused romantic splendour o'er the field.
There swell those sounds that bid the life-blood start
Swift to the mantling cheek and beating heart.
The clang of echoing steel, the charger's neigh,
The measured tread of hosts in war's array;
And, oh! that music, whose exulting breath
Speaks but of glory on the road of death;
In whose wild voice there dwells inspiring power
To wake the stormy joy of danger's hour;
To nerve the arm, the spirit to sustain,
Rouse from despondence, and support in pain;
And, 'midst the deepening tumults of the strife,
Teach every pulse to thrill with more than life.
High o'er the camp, in many a broidered fold,
Floats to the wind a standard rich with gold:
There, imaged on the cross,
Who drank for man the bitter cup of tears -
form, whose word recalled the spirit fled,
Now borne by hosts to guide them o'er the dead!
O'er yon fair walls to plant the cross on high,
Spain hath sent forth her flower of chivalry.
Fired with that ardour which, in days of yore,
To Syrian plains the bold crusaders bore;
Elate with lofty hope, with martial zeal,
They come, the gallant children of Castile;
The proud, the calmly dignified: - and there
Ebro's dark sons with haughty mien repair,
And those who guide the fiery steed of war
From yon rich province of the western star.
But thou, conspicuous 'midst the glitt'ring scene,
Stern grandeur stamped upon thy princely mien;
Known by the foreign garb, the silvery vest,
The snow-white charger, and the azure crest,
Young Aben-Zurrah! 'midst that host of foes,
helm, thy Moorish lance? Disclose
Why rise the tents where dwell thy kindred train,
O son of Afric, 'midst the sons of Spain?
Hast thou with these thy nation's fall conspired,
Apostate chief! by hope of vengeance fired?
How art thou changed! Still first in every fight,
Hamet, the Moor! Castile's devoted knight!
There dwells a fiery lustre in thine eye,
But not the light that shone in days gone by
There is wild ardour in thy look and tone,
But not the soul's expression once thine own,
Nor aught like peace within. Yet who shall say
What secret thoughts thine inmost heart may sway?
No eye but Heaven's may pierce that curtained breast,
Whose joys and griefs alike are unexpressed.
There hath been combat on the tented plain;
The Vega's turf is red with many a stain;
And, rent and trampled, banner, crest, and shield,
Tell of a fierce and well-contested field:
But all is peaceful now - the west is bright
With the rich splendour of departing light;
Mulhacen's peak, half lost amidst the sky,
Glows like a purple evening-cloud on high,
And tints, that mock the pencil's art, o'erspread
The eternal snow that crowns Veleta's head;
While the warm sunset o'er the landscape throws
A solemn beauty, and a deep repose.
Closed are the toils and tumults of the day,
And Hamet wanders from the camp away,
In silent musings wrapt: - the slaughtered brave
Lie thickly strewn by Darro's rippling wave.
Soft fall the dews - but other drops have dyed
The scented shrubs that fringe the river side,
Beneath whose shade, as ebbing life retired,
The wounded sought a shelter - and expired,
Lonely, and lost in thoughts of other days,
By the bright windings of the stream he strays,
Till, more remote from battle's ravaged scene,
All is repose, and solitude serene.
There, 'neath an olive's ancient shade reclined,
Whose rustling foliage waves in evening's wind,
The harassed warrior, yielding to the power,
The mild sweet influence of the tranquil hour,
Feels, by degrees, a long-forgotten calm
Shed o'er his troubled soul unwonted balm;
His wrongs, his woes, his dark and dubious lot,
The past, the future, are awhile forgot;
And Hope, scarce owned, yet stealing o'er his breast,
Half dares to whisper, 'Thou shalt yet be blest!'
Such his vague musings - but a plaintive sound
Breaks on the deep and solemn stillness round;
A low, half-stifled moan, that seems to rise
From life and death's contending agonies.
He turns: Who shares with him that lonely shade?
- A youthful warrior on his deathbed laid.
All rent and stained his broidered Moorish vest,
The corslet shattered on his bleeding breast;
In his cold hand the broken falchion strained,
With life's last force convulsively retained;
His plumage soiled with dust, with crimson dyed,
And the red lance, in fragments, by his side;
He lies forsaken - pillowed on his shield,
His helmet raised, his lineaments revealed.
Pale is that quivering lip, and vanished now
The light once throned on that commanding brow;
And o'er that fading eye, still upward cast,
The shades of death are gathering dark and fast.
Yet, as yon rising moon her light serene
Sheds the pale olive's waving boughs between,
Too well can Hamet's conscious heart retrace,
Though changed thus fearfully, that pallid face,
Whose every feature to his soul conveys
Some bitter thought of long-departed days.
'Oh! is it thus,' he cries, 'we meet at last?
Friend of my soul in years for ever past!
Hath fate but led me hither to behold
The last dread struggle, ere that heart is cold, -
Receive thy latest agonising breath,
And, with vain pity, soothe the pangs of death?
Yet let me bear thee hence; while life remains,
E'en though thus feebly circling through thy veins,
Some healing balm thy sense may still revive,
Hope is not lost - and Osmyn yet may live!
And blest were he, whose timely care should save
A heart so noble, e'en from glory's grave.'
Roused by those accents, from his lowly bed
The dying warrior faintly lifts his head;
O'er Hamet's mien, with vague, uncertain gaze,
His doubtful glance awhile bewildered strays;
Till, by degrees, a smile of proud disdain
Lights up those features late convulsed with pain;
A quivering radiance flashes from his eye,
That seems too pure, too full of soul to die;
And the mind's grandeur, in its parting hour,
Looks from that brow with more than wonted power.
'Away!' he cries, in accents of command,
And proudly waves his cold and trembling hand.
'Apostate, hence! my soul shall soon be free,
E'en now it soars, disdaining aid from thee:
'Tis not for thee to close the fading eyes
Of him who faithful to his country dies;
hand to raise the drooping head
Of him who sinks to rest on glory's bed.
Soon shall these pangs be closed, this conflict o'er,
And worlds be mine where thou canst never soar;
Be thine existence with a blighted name,
Mine the bright death which seals a warrior's fame!'
The glow hath vanished from his cheek - his eye
Hath lost that beam of parting energy;
Frozen and fixed it seems - his brow is chill;
One struggle more - that noble heart is still.
Departed warrior! were thy mortal throes,
Were thy last pangs, ere Nature found repose,
More keen, more bitter, than the envenomed dart
Thy dying words have left in Hamet's heart?
pangs were transient;
shall sleep no more
Till life's delirious dream itself is o'er;
But thou shalt rest in glory, and thy grave
Be the pure altar of the patriot brave.
Oh, what a change that little hour hath wrought
In the high spirit and unbending thought!
Yet, from himself each keen regret to hide,
Still Hamet struggles with indignant pride;
While his soul rises, gathering all its force,
To meet the fearful conflict with remorse.
To thee, at length, whose artless love hath been
His own, unchanged, through many a stormy scene;
Zayda! to thee his heart for refuge flies;
Yes! let the world upbraid, let foes contemn,
Thy gentle breast the tide will firmly stem;
And soon thy smile, and soft consoling voice,
Shall bid his troubled soul again rejoice.
Within Granada's walls are hearts and hands
Whose aid in secret Hamet yet commands;
Nor hard the task, at some propitious hour,
To win his silent way to Zayda's bower,
When night and peace are brooding o'er the world,
When mute the clarions, and the banners furled.
That hour is come - and, o'er the arms he bears,
A wandering fakir's garb the chieftain wears:
Disguise that ill from piercing eye could hide
The lofty port, and glance of martial pride;
But night befriends - through paths obscure he passed,
And hailed the lone and lovely scene at last;
Young Zayda's chosen haunt, the fair alcove,
The sparkling fountain, and the orange grove:
Calm in the moonlight smiles the still retreat,
As formed alone for happy hearts to meet.
For happy hearts? - not such as hers, who there
Bends o'er her lute, with dark, unbraided hair;
That maid of Zegri race, whose eye, whose mien,
Tell that despair her bosom's guest hath been.
So lost in thought she seems, the warrior's feet
Till his known accents every sense restore -
'My own loved Zayda! do we meet once more?'
She starts, she turns - the lightning of surprise,
Of sudden rapture, flashes from her eyes;
But that is fleeting - it is past - and now
Far other meaning darkens o'er her brow:
'Hence, Aben-Zurrah! death surrounds thee here!'
What mean those words, and that unwonted tone?
I will not deem thee changed - but in thy face
It is not joy, it is not love, I trace!
It was not thus in other days we met:
Hath time, hath absense, taught thee to forget?
Oh! speak once more - these rising doubts dispel;
One smile of tenderness, and all is well!'
'Not thus we met in other days! - oh, no!
Thou wert not, warrior then thy country's foe!
Those days are past - we ne'er shall meet again
With hearts all warmth, all confidence, as then.
dark soul no gentler feelings sway,
Leader of hostile bands! away, away!
On in thy path of triumph and of power,
Nor pause to raise from earth a blighted flower.'
too changed! thine early vow forgot!
This, this alone was wanting to my lot!
Exiled and scorned, of every tie bereft,
Thy love, the desert's lonely fount, was left;
And thou, my soul's last hope, its lingering beam,
Thou, the good angel of each brighter dream,
Wert all the barrenness of life possest,
To wake one soft affection in my breast!
That vision ended - fate hath nought in store
Of joy or sorrow e'er to touch me more.
Go, Zegri maid! to scenes of sunshine fly,
From the stern pupil of adversity!
And now to hope, to confidence, adieu!
If thou are faithless, who shall e'er be true?'
'Hamet! oh, wrong me not! - too could speak
Of sorrows - trace them on my faded cheek,
In the sunk eye, and in the wasted form,
That tell the heart hath nursed a canker-worm!
But words were idle - read my sufferings there,
Where grief is stamped on all that once was fair.
'Oh, wert thou still what once I fondly deemed,
All that thy mien expressed, thy spirit seemed,
My love had been devotion - till in death
Thy name had trembled on my latest breath.
But not the chief who leads a lawless band,
To crush the altars of his native land;
The apostate son of heroes, whose disgrace
Hath stained the trophies of a glorious race;
I loved - but one whose youthful name
Was pure and radiant in unsullied fame.
Hadst thou but died, ere yet dishonour's cloud
O'er that young name gathered as a shroud,
I then had mourned thee proudly, and my grief
In its own loftiness had found relief;
A noble sorrow, cherished to the last,
When every meaner woe had long been past.
Yes! let Affection weep - no common tear
She sheds, when bending o'er a hero's bier.
Let Nature mourn the dead - a grief like this,
To pangs that rend
bosom, had been bliss!'
'High-minded maid! the time admits not now
To plead my cause, to vindicate my vow.
That vow, too dread, too solemn to recall,
Hath urged me onward, haply to my fall.
Yet this believe - no meaner aim inspires
My soul, no dream of poor ambition fires.
No! every hope of power, of triumph, fled,
Behold me but the avenger of the dead!
One whose changed heart no tie, no kindred knows,
And in thy love alone hath sought repose.
his stern accuser be?
False to his country, he is true to thee!
Oh, hear me yet! - if Hamet e'er was dear,
By our first vows, our young affection, hear!
Soon must this fair and royal city fall,
Soon shall the cross be planted on her wall;
Then who can tell what tides of blood may flow,
While her fanes echo to the shrieks of woe?
Fly, fly with me, and let me bear thee far
From horrors thronging in the path of war:
Fly! and repose in safety - till the blast
Hath made a desert in its course - and passed!'
'Thou that wilt triumph when the hour is come,
Hastened by thee, to seal thy country's doom,
from scenes of death shall Zayda fly
To peace and safety? - Woman, too, can die!
And die exulting, though unknown to fame,
In all the stainless beauty of her name!
Be mine, unmurmuring, undismayed, to share
The fate my kindred and my sire must bear.
When the clouds gather and the blasts assail,
Thou hast but known me ere the trying hour
Called into life my spirit's latent power;
While withering o'er my silent woes I wept;
And now, when hope and happiness are fled,
My soul is firm - for what remains to dread!
Who shall have power to suffer and to bear,
If strength and courage dwell not with Despair?
Hamet, farewell - retrace thy path again,
To join thy brethren on the tented plain.
There wave and wood, in mingling murmurs, tell
How, in far other cause, thy fathers fell!
Yes! on that soil hath Glory's footstep been,
Names unforgotten consecrate the scene!
Dwell not the souls of heroes round thee there,
Whose voices call thee in the whispering air?
Unheard, in vain, they call - their fallen son
Hath stained the name those mighty spirits won,
And to the hatred of the brave and free
Bequethed his own, through ages yet to be!
Still as she spoke, the enthusiast's kindling eye
Was lighted up with inborn majesty,
While her fair form and youthful features caught
All the proud grandeur of heroic thought,
Severely beauteous; awe-struck and amazed,
In silent trance a while the warrior gazed,
As on some lofty vision - for she seemed
One all inspired - each look with glory beamed,
While, brightly bursting through its cloud of woes,
Her soul at once in all its light arose.
Oh! ne'er had Hamet deemed there dwelt enshrined
In form so fragile that unconquered mind;
And fixed, as by some high enchantment, there
He stood - till wonder yielded to despair.
'The dream is vanished - daughter of my foes!
Reft of each hope, the lonely wanderer goes.
Thy words have pierced his soul - yet deem thou not
Thou couldst be once adored, and e'er forgot!
Oh, formed for happier love, heroic maid!
In grief sublime, in danger undismayed,
Farewell, and be thou blest! - all words were vain
From him who ne'er may view that form again;
Him, whose sole thought resembling bliss must be
been loved, once fondly loved by, thee!',
And is the warrior gone? - doth Zayda hear
His parting footstep, and without a tear?
Thou weepest not, lofty maid! - yet who can tell
What secret pangs within thy heart may dwell?
feel not least, the firm, the high in soul,
Who best each feeling's agony control.
Yes, we may judge the measure of the grief
Which finds in Misery's eloquence relief;
But who shall pierce those depths of silent woe
Whence breathes no language, whence no tears may flow?
The pangs that many a noble breast hath proved,
Scorning itself that thus it
He, He alone, the inmost heart who knows,
Views all its weakness, pities all its throes,
He who hath mercy when mankind contemn,
Beholding anguish - all unknown to them.
Fair city! thou that midst thy stately fanes
And gilded minarets, towering o'er the plains,
In Eastern grandeur proudly dost arise
Beneath thy canopy of deep-blue skies:
While streams that bear thee treasures in their wave,
Thy citron-groves and myrtle-gardens have:
Mourn, for thy doom is fixed - the days of fear,
Of chains, of wrath, of bitterness, are near!
Within, around thee, are the trophied graves
Of kings and chiefs - their children shall be slaves.
Fair are thy halls, thy domes majestic swell,
But there a race that reared them not shall dwell;
For midst thy councils Discord still presides,
Degenerate fear thy wavering monarch guides -
Last of a line whose regal spirit flown
Hath to their offspring but bequeathed a throne,
Without one generous thought, or feeling high,
To teach his soul how kings should live and die.
A voice resounds within Granada's wall,
The hearts of warriors echo to its call,
Whose are those tones, with power electric fraught,
To reach the source of pure exalted thought!
See, on a fortress tower, with beckoning hand,
A form, majestic as a prophet, stand!
His mien is all impassioned - and his eye
Filled with a light whose fountain is on high;
Wild on the gale his silvery tresses flow,
And inspiration beams upon his brow;
While, thronging round him, breathless thousands gaze,
As on some mighty seer of elder days.
'Saw ye the banners of Castile displayed,
The helmets glittering, and the line arrayed?
Heard ye the march of steel-clad hosts?' he cries;
'Children of conquerors! in your strength arise!
O high-born tribes! O names unstained by fear!
Azarques, Zegris, Almoradis, hear!
Be every feud forgotten, and your hands
Dyed with no blood but that of hostile bands.
Wake, princes of the land! the hour is come,
And the red sabre must decide your doom.
Where is that spirit which prevailed of yore,
When Tarik's bands o'erspread the western shore?
When the long combat raged on Xere's plain,
And Afric's tecbir swelled through yielding Spain?
Is the lance broken, is the shield decayed,
The warrior's arm unstrung, his heart dismayed?
Shall no high spirit of ascendant worth
Arise to lead the sons of Islam forth?
To guard the regions where our fathers' blood
Hath bathed each plain, and mingled with each flood;
Where long their dust hath blended with the soil
Won by their swords, made fertile by their toil!
'O ye sierras of eternal snow!
Ye streams that by the tombs of heroes flow,
Woods, fountains, rocks of Spain! ye saw their might
In many a fierce and unforgotten fight -
Shall ye behold their lost, degenerate race,
Dwell 'midst your scenes in fetters and disgrace?
With each memorial of the past around,
Each mighty monument of days renowned?
May this indignant heart ere then be cold,
This frame be gathered to its kindred mould!
And the last life-drop circling through my veins
Have tinged a soil untainted yet by chains!
'And yet one struggle ere our doom is sealed,
One mighty effort, one deciding field!
If vain each hope, we still have choice to be,
In life the fettered, or in death the free!'
Still while he speaks, each gallant heart beats high,
And ardour flashes from each kindling eye;
Youth, manhood, age, as if inspired, have caught
The glow of lofty hope and daring thought,
And all is hushed around - as every sense
Dwelt on the tones of that wild eloquence.
But when his voice hath ceased, the impetuous cry
Of eager thousands bursts at once on high;
Rampart, and rock, and fortress, ring around,
And fair Alhambra's inmost halls resound.
'Lead us, O chieftain! lead us to the strife,
To fame in death, or liberty in life!'
O zeal of noble hearts! in vain displayed!
Now, while the burning spirit of the brave
Is roused to energies that yet might save,
E'en now, enthusiasts! while ye rush to claim
Your glorious trial on the field of fame,
Your king hath yielded! Valour's dream is o'er;
Power, wealth, and freedom, are your own no more;
And for your children's portion,
That bitter heritage - the stranger's chains.
Vision Of Columbus - Book 8
And now the Angel, from the trembling sight,
Veil'd the wide world–when sudden shades of night
Move o'er the ethereal vault; the starry train
Paint their dim forms beneath the placid main;
While earth and heaven, around the hero's eye,
Seem arch'd immense, like one surrounding sky.
Still, from the Power superior splendors shone,
The height emblazing like a radiant throne;
To converse sweet the soothing shades invite,
And on the guide the hero fix'd his sight.
Kind messenger of Heaven, he thus began,
Why this progressive labouring search of man?
If man by wisdom form'd hath power to reach
These opening truths that following ages teach,
Step after step, thro' devious mazes, wind,
And fill at last the measure of the mind,
Why did not Heaven, with one unclouded ray,
All human arts and reason's powers display?
That mad opinions, sects and party strife
Might find no place t'imbitter human life.
To whom the Angelic Power; to thee 'tis given,
To hold high converse, and enquire of heaven,
To mark uncircled ages and to trace
The unfolding truths that wait thy kindred race.
Know then, the counsels of th'unchanging Mind,
Thro' nature's range, progressive paths design'd,
Unfinish'd works th'harmonious system grace,
Thro' all duration and around all space;
Thus beauty, wisdom, power, their parts unroll,
Till full perfection joins the accordant whole.
So the first week, beheld the progress rise,
Which form'd the earth and arch'd th'incumbant skies.
Dark and imperfect first, the unbeauteous frame,
From vacant night, to crude existence came;
Light starr'd the heavens and suns were taught their bound,
Winds woke their force, and floods their centre found;
Earth's kindred elements, in joyous strife,
Warm'd the glad glebe to vegetable life,
Till sense and power and action claim'd their place,
And godlike reason crown'd the imperial race.
Progressive thus, from that great source above,
Flows the fair fountain of redeeming love.
Dark harbingers of hope, at first bestow'd,
Taught early faith to feel her path to God:
Down the prophetic, brightening train of years,
Consenting voices rose of different seers,
In shadowy types display'd the accomplish'd plan,
When filial Godhead should assume the man,
When the pure Church should stretch her arms abroad,
Fair as a bride and liberal as her God;
Till warm benevolence and truth refined,
Pervade the world and harmonize mankind.
And thus fair Science, of celestial birth,
With times long circuit, treads the gladsome earth;
By gradual steps to mark the extended road,
That leads mankind to reason and to God.
In elder times, when savage tribes began,
A few strong passions sway'd the wayward man;
Envy, revenge and sateless lust of power
Fired the dark soul and stain'd the fields with gore.
By jarring strife, all milder joys supprest,
Lost their soft influence on the furious breast
No friendly ties the barbarous feuds assuage,
And ceaseless carnage, feeds the brutal rage.
When different tribes, in social bands combined,
Their local views the joyless soul confined,
Eternal bickerings brutal strength supply'd,
Cities are wall'd and warring hosts divide.
When infant arts, in growing nations, rose,
They lured the envy of surrounding foes;
The savage bands united sieze the prey,
Destroy the learning and obstruct the sway.
Thus, at the Muse's call, when Thebes arose,
And science sway'd where nurt'ring Nilus flows,
Rich with the spoils of art, fair structures blazed,
And barb'rous nations envy'd as they gazed;
The tempting pyramid, the growing store,
The charm of conquest and the grasp of power
Lured the dark world, with envious pride esate,
To whelm fair Science in the wrecks of state.
Till Thebes and Memphis nameless ruins lie,
And crush'd the power that raised them to the sky.
O'er bright Chaldea's plains her vot'ries stray,
Described the stars and fix'd their wandering way,
The unclouded skies the shepherd learn'd to read,
His loves to cherish and his flocks to feed;
Till haughty Babel stretch'd an envy'd sway,
And furious millions warr'd the arts away,
Ilissus' banks display'd a happier seat,
Where every Muse and all the graces meet;
Parnassian heights she soars; then, steering far,
Driven by the close pursuit of vengeful war,
She wings her flight, a western region gams,
And moves in majesty o'er Latian plains.
But pride and conquest follow where she leads,
Her eagle flies, the untutor'd savage bleeds,
Rome's haughty Genius, taught by her to soar,
With pride of learning swells the pride of power;
From Brits, from Scythians plucks the laurel crown,
And deems, by right, the unletter'd world his own.
Till, fired by insult, vengeful myriads rose,
And all the north pours forth the swarming foes,
Like sweeping tempests in embattled heaven,
When fire and blackness streak the sails of even,
The dark-red hosts of painted warriors roll,
Rome's thoughtless capitol the tempting goal;
Nor arts they need nor order points thier way,
For arts and order swell the Roman sway;
Spain, Latium, Afric feed the furious flame,
And hapless Science mourns her buried name.
As when the sun moves o'er the flaming zone,
Careering clouds attend his servid throne,
Superior splendors, in his course display'd,
Proclaim the progress of a heavier shade;
Thus where the Power her ancient circuit held,
Her shining course succeeding darkness veil'd.
Fear, interest, envy bound her laurel'd reign,
A coast her walk, the Hellespont her main,
Ere Goya's trembling steel could point the pole,
Or heavens inverted taught thy bark to roll.
At length the scene a nobler pomp assumes,
A milder beam dispels the Gothic glooms;
In sober majesty, and charms of peace,
The goddess moves, and cheers her filial race,
Lifts bolder wings, with happier flight to soar,
No more to rest till heavens illume no more.
At once, consenting nations rise to fame;
Here Charles's genius wakes the Gallic name,
There Alfred aids the universal cause,
And opes the source of liberty and laws;
Here Greece invites her to her ancient home,
There in rough greatness heaves her Gothic dome,
Wide spreads her sway o'er blest Arabian plains,
Where her own Caliph, liberal Rachid reigns,
O'er all the climes extends the rising Power,
From farthest Ganges to the Atlantic shore.
Even horrid war, that erst her course withstood,
And whelm'd, so oft, her peaceful shrines in blood,
Now leads thro' paths unseen her glorious way,
Extends her limits and confirms her sway.
See, from all Europe's bounds, the warriors pour,
In crouding millions to the Asian shore;
Mankind their prey, the unmeaning Cross their pride,
And sacred vengeance their delusive guide.
Zeal points their way, thro' famine, toil and blood,
To aid with arms the imagin'd cause of God;
Till fields of slaughter whelm the broken host,
Their pride appall'd, their countless myriads lost,
The sad remains to peaceful toils return,
Skill'd in the arts, that eastern climes adorn;
O'er Europe's changing shores, the charms display
And wasted realms with happier fruits repay,
The rival barons, whom ambition draws,
Their wealth to lavish in the holy cause,
In peace retiring, yield the regal crown,
And blend their counsels to exalt the throne.
While slaves, no longer purchased with the soil,
Waked into freemen, ply the cheerful toil,
Assert their rights, extend the royal reign,
And mutual terrors break the feudal chair.
Now growing commerce in firm compact joins
Surrounding nations and their force combines;
From rich Ausonia, bold advent'rers rise,
Trace midland currents tow'rd the northern skies,
Enlarge their navies, and with wealthier train,
Roll with the Rhine and widen with the main;
Then tempt a broader flight, extend the sail,
Point the sure compass, call a foreign gale,
For spicy fruits the orient surges brave,
And load with sparkling gems the liberal wave.
See Rome once more the unfolding arts attend,
Her groves rewarble and her walls ascend;
Bologna's learned towers arise to fame,
And thine, fair Paris, nobler honours claim;
In rival splendor, bright Oxonia, smiles,
And spreads her blessings o'er the British isles;
There, like the star that leads the orient day,
Chaucer directs his tuneful sons their way.
See hapless Gallileo's daring soul
Explore the stars and point their orbs to roll;
And, happier Faustus, thy inventive mind
Awakes the unbounded genius of mankind:
O'er wondering climes thy letter'd types display
The works of science and extend her sway.
Bold chivalry romantic aids her cause;
In honour's name the knight his falchion draws;
Lured by the charms that grace the guardless fair,
To suffering virtue bends his generous care,
Thro' toil and pain in quest of glory roves,
Braves death and danger for the maid he loves;
While fired by gallantry, the generous art,
Improves the manners and amends the heart.
When pride and rapine held their vengeful sway,
And praise pursued where conquest led the way,
Fair nature's mildest grace, the female mind,
By rough-brow'd power neglected and confined,
Unheeded sigh'd, mid empire's rude alarms,
Unknown its virtues and enslaved its charms.
So the lone wild-rose opes the sweetest bloom,
To scent the unconscious thorn, and wither round the tomb.
Blest Science then, to rugged toils confined,
Rose but to conquer and enslave mankind,
O'er gentle passions spread a harsh controul,
And waked the glare of grandeur in the soul,
She taught the lance to thirst for human gore,
She taught pale avarice to swell the store,
Taught milder arts the peaceful prize to yield,
Her Muse to thunder thro' the embattled field;
In ruin'd realms to build the shrine of fame,
And call celestial aid to raise a tyrant's name.
In chains and darkness mourn'd the hapless fair,
The price of gold, the insulted prize of war,
While sires, unfeeling, claim'd the sordid dower,
And nymphs were sold the slaves of lust and power.
A happier morn now brightens in the skies,
Superior arts, in peaceful glory, rise;
While softer virtues claim their guardian care,
And crowns of laurel grace the rising fair.
With all the raptures of celestial fire,
Each rival sex the rival arts inspire;
This bids bold commerce load the labouring main,
Or swells the peaceful harvest of the plain,
That leads the hours of calm, domestic toil,
And cheers the houshold with an evening smile,
While states and empires, policies and laws
Lure the firm patriot in the bolder cause,
To stem the tide of power or guide the war,
Like thee to suffer and like thee to dare–
With equal honour, as with softer grace,
The matron virtues guide the rising race.
On this broad base while Science rears her fane,
New toils and triumphs fill her glorious train,
Thro' fairer fields she leads the expanding mind,
Glads every clime and dignifies mankind.
Contending kings their views harmonious blend,
With temper'd force their arts and arms extend;
The opposing hosts beneath their liberal reign,
Croud the vast wave and glitter o'er the plain,
With thundering engines rend the harmless air,
And lose the horrors in the pomp of war.
See the glad sage to useful labours soar,
Tempt other seas and unknown worlds explore,
Bid feeble tribes display their powers abroad,
And regions smile without the waste of blood.
Then, while the daring Muse, from heavenly quires,
With life divine the raptured bard inspires,
With bolder hand he strikes the trembling string,
Virtues and loves and deeds like thine to sing.
No more with vengeful chiefs and furious gods,
Old Ocean crimsons and Olympus nods,
Nor heavens, convulsive, rend the dark profound,
Nor Titans groan beneath the heaving ground;
But milder themes shall wake the peaceful song,
Life in the soul and rapture on the tongue;
To moral beauties bid the world attend,
And distant lands their social ties extend,
Thro' union'd realms the rage of conquest cease,
War sink in night, and nature smile in peace.
Then shall he soar sublimer heights, and rove
O'er brighter walks, and happier climes of love;
Rapt into vision of the blest abode,
From Angel-harps to catch the inspiring God;
Thro' heavens o'ercanopy'd by heavens behold
New suns ascend and other skies unfold,
Seraphs and system'd worlds around him shine,
And lift his mortal strains to harmony divine.
To these superior flights, the chief rejoin'd,
If happier years shall raise the roving mind;
Progressive arts exalt the soul on high,
Peace rule the earth and faith unfold the sky;
Say, how shall truths like these to man be given?
Or science find the limits mark'd by Heaven?
In every age since reasoning pride began,
And heaven's dread Sire reveal'd himself to man,
What different faiths the changing race inspire!
What blind devotions and unhallow'd fire!
What gods of human form and savage power
Cold fear could fashion or mad zeal adore!
These croud their temples, those their names despise,
In each dire cause the exulting martyr dies;
Till, sense renounced, and virtue driven afar,
Rage fires the realms, religion sounds to war;
And the first blessing, Heaven for earth design'd,
Seems the severest curse that waits mankind.
Say then, my guide, if heavenly wisdom gave
To erring man a life beyond the grave–
If one creative Power, one living soul
Produced all beings and preserves the whole;
Who, throned in light, with full perfection blest,
Mid changing worlds, enjoys eternal rest;
While man, still grovling, passionate and blind,
Wars with his neighbour and destroys his kind–
Say, what connecting chain, in endless line,
Links earth to heaven, and mortal with divine?
Applies alike to every age and clime,
And lifts the soul beyond the bounds of time;
And when shall science trace the immortal way,
And hail religion in her native day?
The Power return'd. Thy race shall soon behold
Reason refined, and moral lights unroll'd,
While science rises, freed from pedant pride,
Of truth the standard and of faith the guide.
The passions wild, that sway the changing mind,
The reasoning powers, her watchful guides design'd
Each, unrestrain'd, alike subvert the plan,
Mislead the judgment and betray the man.
Hence raging zeal, or sceptic scorn prevails,
And arms decide the faith, where wisdom sails.
Of human passions, one above the rest,
Fear, love, or envy, rules in every breast;
And, while it varies with the changing clime,
Now stoops to earth, now lifts the soul sublime,
Forms local creeds of superstitious lore,
Creates the God, and bids the world adore.
Lo! at the Lama's feet, as lord of all,
Age, following age, in dumb devotion fall!
The youthful God, mid suppliant kings inshrined,
Dispensing fate and ruling half mankind,
Sits, with contorted limbs, a silent slave,
An early victim of a secret grave.
And, where the mosk's dim arches bend on high,
See the dead prophet mount the mimic sky;
While pilgrim hosts, o'er trackless deserts come,
Croud the deep shrine, and worship round his tomb.
See Memphian altars reek with human gore,
Gods hiss from caverns, or in cages roar,
Nile pours from heaven a tutulary flood,
And vales produce the vegetable Gods.
Two rival Powers the Magian faith inspire,
The sire of darkness and the source of fire:
Evil and good, in these contending rise,
And each, by turns, the sovereign of the skies.
Sun, stars and planets round the earth behold
Their fanes of marble and their shrines of gold;
The sea, the grove, the harvest and the vine
Spring from their Gods, and claim a source divine;
While heroes, kings and sages of their times,
Those Gods on earth, are Gods in happier climes;
Minos in judgment sits, and Jove in power,
And Odin's friends are feasted still with gore.
Yet wisdom's eye with just contempt descries
These rites absurd, and bids the world despise:
Then reasoning powers o'er passion gain the sway,
And shroud in deeper glooms the mental ray.
See the proud sage, with philosophic eye,
Rove thro' all climes, and trace the starry sky,
The systems mark, their various laws pursue,
The God still rising to his raptured view;
But what this God? and what the great design,
Why creatures live or worlds around him shine?
If all perfection dwelt in him alone,
If power, he cries, and wisdom were his own,
No pain, no guilt, no variance could annoy
The realm of peace, the universe of joy.
Yet reason here with homeward ken, descries
From jarring parts what dark disorders rise;
From frost and fire what storms untemper'd rave!
What plagues, what earthquakes croud the gaping grave!
Pain, toil and torture give the infant breath,
His life is misery and his portion death.
From moral ills a like destruction reigns,
War sounds the trump, and slaughter dyes the plains;
While wrath divine proclaims a heavier doom,
And guilt, astonish'd, looks beyond the tomb.
Whence these unnumber'd causeless ills, he cries,
Could wisdom form them? or could love devise?
No love, no wisdom, no consistent plan,
No God in heaven, nor future life to man!
While thus, thro' nature's walks he soars on high,
Acquits all guilt, dispeoples all the sky,
Denies unseen existence, and believes
No form beyond what human sense perceives,
An anxious search impels the curious mind,
Its own bright essence and its powers to find.
From conscious thought his reasoning force he plies,
And deep in search the active soul descries;
Yet sense and substance no relation claim,
That dupes the reason, this exists a name:
All matter, mind, sense, knowledge, pleasure, pain,
Seem the wild phantoms of the vulgar brain;
Reason, collected sits above the scheme,
Proves God and nature but an idle dream,
In one great learned doubt invelopes all,
And whelms it's own existence in the fall,
These wide extremes of passion and of pride
A while on earth thy changing race divide;
That man may find his limits and his laws,
Where zeal inflames, or coward caution awes;
And learn, by these, the happier course to steer,
Nor sink too low, nor mount beyond his sphere.
And soon, that happier course thy race shall gain,
And zealots rave, and sceptics doubt, in vain;
While reason, sense and passion aid the soul,
Science her guide and truth the eternal goal.
First, his own powers the man, with care, descries,
What nature gives, and various art supplies;
Rejects the ties of controversial rules,
The pride of names, the prejudice of schools;
The sure foundation lays, on which to rise,
To look thro' earth and meditate the skies:
And finds some general laws in every breast,
Where ethics, faith and politics may rest.
Of human powers, the Senses always chief,
Produce instruction or inforce belief;
Reason, as next in sway, the balance bears,
Receives their tidings, and with skill compares,
Restrains wild fancy, calms the impassion'd soul,
Illumes the judgment and refines the whole.
Sense, the great source of knowledge, ever just,
High in command, but faithful to its trust,
Aid of this life, and suited to its place,
Given to secure, but not exalt the race;
Descries no God, nor claims superior birth,
And knows no life beyond the bounds of earth.
Reason, tho' taught by sense to range on high,
To trace the stars and measure all the sky;
Tho' fancy, memory, foresight fill her train,
And o'er the beast she lifts the pride of man,
Yet, still to matter, form and space confined,
Or moral truths, or laws that rule mankind,
Could ne'er unaided pierce the mental gloom,
Explore new scenes beyond the closing tomb,
Reach with immortal hope the blest abode,
Or raise one thought of spirit, or of God.
Yet names of God, and powers of heavenly strain
All nations reverence and all tongues contain;
Thro' every age the conscious mind perceives,
Reason pronounces and the sense believes.
What cause mysterious could the thought impart,
Not taught by nature nor acquired hy art?
It speaks of nature's God–no matter when
The name was caught, 'tis never lost by men;
From clime to clime, from age to age it flies,
Sounds thro' the world and echos to the skies.
It proves him, self-reveal'd; and all the plan
On this connexion rests of God and man.
Observe, in man, desires immortal given,
To range o'er earth and climb a happier heaven;
Yet fear and conscious guilt his flight restrain,
His God offended, and his wishes vain:
The wrath divine impending on his breast
Precludes the hope of refuge and of rest;
He seeks the fane, obtests the avenging skies,
Pours the full tear, and yields the sacrifice;
Some foreign aid, some mediating grace,
He seeks to shield him from his Maker's face.
All forms of worship, that engage mankind,
In different climes to various Powers confined,
Require of suppliants some external aid,
Some victim offer'd, or some penance paid,
Some middle name, or reconciling plan,
To soothe the Godhead and redeem the man.
This thought, so wide diffused thro' all mankind,
Rose not from earth, or force of human mind;
From heaven reveal'd, it shows some sov'reign scheme,
To link this nature with the Power supreme.
From guilt and pain to lift the soul on high,
And ope a happier scene, a world beyond the sky.
From clime to clime while rove the sage's eyes,
Books croud on Books, and creeds on creeds arise.
Reason refined with liberal eye surveys
The opposing faiths and various modes of praise;
Yet finds in all, what nature might approve,
A God of justice reconciled by love;
With joy beholds the accordant scheme of heaven,
Dire vengeance sooth'd, a mediation given,
Man freed from pain, the stains of guilt removed,
To angels liken'd and by Heaven approved;
Death bound in chains from his old empire hurl'd,
And peace and pardon promised to the world.
Here ends the toilsome search; in this may rest
The doubts and fears that move the labouring breast;
These few fair truths, to common feeling plain,
The work unfold, and every part sustain.
As, on an arch of stone, some temple stands,
Raised to the clouds, and shines to distant lands;
The firm foundations, open to the sight,
Croud, as it grows, and strengthen with the weight;
Thus, on the characters of God and man,
By Heaven reveal'd in this conformant plan,
The beauteous system rests; and tho' awhile,
Mad zeal o'erload it, and cold scorn revile,
Stands, self-exalted, fill'd with native light,
Firm to the faith, and growing on the sight.
It speaks one simple, universal cause,
Which time and space from one great centre draws;
Whence this unfolded, that began its flight,
Worlds fill'd the skies, and nature roll'd in light;
Whither all beings tend; and where, at last,
Their progress, changes, imperfections, past,
Matter shall turn to light, to pleasure pain,
Strife end in union, angel form in man;
From stage to stage, from life to life, refined,
All centre, whence they sprang, in one eternal Mind.
In this harmonious round, united rise,
Power to create, and wisdom to devise;
While Love supreme, before all action, stood,
The first, the last, the chain of general good;
Through nature's range t'extend the sway divine,
And heaven and earth in mild accordance join,
To one great moral Sense, all sense to draw,
Strong as necessity, and fixt as law.
This branch of Godhead, thro' the system known,
Image and brightness of the Eternal throne;
By whom all wisdom shines, all power extends,
God stands reveal'd and Heaven with nature blends,
Thro' earth and skies proclaim'd the indulgent plan,
And spoke the law to Angel and to man;
In man's clear view display'd the ethereal road,
To love the neighbour and adore the God.
Yet, firm in justice as in mercy great,
His sovereign power directs the scenes of sate,
Wide o'er the world with guardian care extends,
Curbs the proud nations and the weak defends;
That feeble faith and boasting scorn may prove
The frown of vengeance, or the smile of love,
Holds, in his own right hand, the dreadful doom
Of woes unnumber'd here, and death beyond the tomb
Fill'd with his fire, and guided by his hand,
See the long train of white-robed prophets stand!
Thro' opening heaven, their eyes sublimely roll,
Peace on their tongue, and rapture in their soul;
The past records, the deeds of unborn time
Flame in their page, and shine to every clime:
There, nations read their fate, and kings, to come,
Find, in the leaves, their glory or their doom.
There unborn Cyrus, preordain'd to fame,
On Babel's ruins, builds the Persian name;
The chief of Macedon, the realm of Greece,
The Latian grandeur, and the Prince of peace,
In order ranged their song prophetic grace,
And time stands pointing to the destined place.
When now, with rolling years these deeds of fame
Rise into light and faith of nations claim.
Behold, on earth the promised Prince bestow'd!
The Virgin's offspring and the filial God;
The appointed star its rapid course suspends,
The skies unfold, the mystic dove descends,
Glad songs attend him, heaven and earth combine,
To hail the new-born babe, and speak his birth divine.
See nature's laws suspended by his power!
Unclosing graves their slumbering dead restore,
Winds rise to waft him, storms, to lull him, sleep,
He walks the wave, and triumphs o'er the deep;
He dies, he conquers death, ascends on high,
And rising saints attend him thro' the sky.
Thus, all the mystic scheme, design'd by heaven,
With clearest light to stedfast faith is given;
Here the great moral Sense, the God conceal'd,
To human sense in earthly form reveal'd,
Suffers in open day, to teach mankind
His secret sufferings in the opposer's mind;
To teach how pain and death and endless woes,
From wayward strife, and breach of order, rose;
How each discordant wish, the soul that swells,
'Gainst human bliss and heavenly power rebels,
Weakens the chain of love, subverts the plan,
While nature drives the vengeance back on man.
Here all religion rests, and soon thy race
Her purest lights, by wisdom's eye shall trace.
Here the last flights of science shall ascend,
To look thro' heaven, and sense with reason blend;
View the great source of love, that flows abroad,
Spreads to all creatures, centres still in God,
Lives thro' the whole, from nature's compact springs,
Orders, reverses, fills the sum of things;
In law constrains, in gospel reconciles,
In judgment frowns, in gentle mercy smiles,
Commands all sense to feel, all life to prove
The attracting force of universal love.
Vision Of Columbus - Book 1
Long had the Sage, the first who dared to brave
The unknown dangers of the western wave,
Who taught mankind where future empires lay
In these fair confines of descending day,
With cares o'erwhelm'd, in life's distressing gloom,
Wish'd from a thankless world a peaceful tomb;
While kings and nations, envious of his name,
Enjoy'd his toils and triumph'd o'er his fame,
And gave the chief, from promised empire hurl'd,
Chains for a crown, a prison for a world.
Now night and silence held their lonely reign,
The half-orb'd moon declining to the main;
Descending clouds, o'er varying ether driven,
Obscured the stars and shut the eye from heaven;
Cold mists through opening grates the cell invade,
And deathlike terrors haunt the midnight shade;
When from a visionary, short repose,
That raised new cares and temper'd keener woes,
Columbus woke, and to the walls address'd
The deep-felt sorrows of his manly breast.
Here lies the purchase, here the wretched spoil,
Of painful years and persevering toil:
For these dread walks, this hideous haunt of pain,
I traced new regions o'er the pathless main,
Dared all the dangers of the dreary wave,
Hung o'er its clefts and topp'd the surging grave,
Saw billowy seas, in swelling mountains roll,
And bursting thunders rock the reddening pole,
Death rear his front in every dreadful form,
Gape from beneath and blacken in the storm;
Till, tost far onward to the skirts of day,
Where milder suns dispens'd a smiling ray,
Through brighter skies my happier sails descry'd
The golden banks that bound the western tide,
And gave the admiring world that bounteous shore
Their wealth to nations and to kings their power
Oh land of transport! dear, delusive coast,
To these fond, aged eyes forever lost!
No more thy gladdening vales I travel o'er,
For me thy mountains rear the head no more,
For me thy rocks no sparkling gems unfold,
Or streams luxuriant wear their paths in gold;
From realms of promised peace forever borne,
I hail dread anguish, and in secret mourn
But dangers past, fair climes explored in vain,
And foes triumphant shew but half my pain
Dissembling friends, each earlier joy who gave,
And fired my youth the storms of fate to brave,
Swarm'd in the sunshine of my happier days,
Pursued the fortune and partook the praise,
Bore in my doubtful cause a twofold part,
The garb of friendship and the viper's heart,
Pass my loath'd cell with smiles of sour disdain,
Insult my woes and triumph in my pain.
One gentle guardian Heaven indulgent gave,
And now that guardian slumbers in the grave
Hear from above, thou dear departed shade,
As once my joys, my present sorrows aid,
Burst my full heart, afford that last relief,
Breathe back my sighs and re-inspire my grief;
Still in my sight thy royal form appears,
Reproves my silence and demands my tears
On that blest hour my soul delights to dwell,
When thy protection bade the canvass swell,
When kings and courtiers found their factions vain,
Blind Superstition shrunk beneath her chain,
The sun's glad beam led on the circling way,
And isles rose beauteous in the western day
But o'er those silvery shores, that fair domain,
What crowds of tyrants fix their horrid reign!
Again fair Freedom seeks her kindred skies,
Truth leaves the world, and Isabella dies
Oh, lend thy friendly shroud to veil my sight,
That these pain'd eyes may dread no more the light,
These welcome shades conclude my instant doom,
And this drear mansion moulder to a tomb
Thus mourn'd the hapless chief; a thundering sound
Roll'd round the shuddering walls and shook the ground;
O'er all the dome, where solemn arches bend,
The roofs unfold and streams of light descend;
The growing splendor fill'd the astonish'd room,
And gales ethereal breathed a glad perfume;
Mild in the midst a radiant seraph shone,
Robed in the vestments of the rising sun;
Tall rose his stature, youth's primeval grace
Moved o'er his limbs and wanton'd in his face,
His closing wings, in golden plumage drest,
With gentle sweep came folding o'er his breast,
His locks in rolling ringlets glittering hung,
And sounds melodious moved his heavenly tongue
Rise, trembling Chief, to scenes of rapture, rise,
This voice awaits thee from the approving skies;
Thy just complaints, in heavenly audience known
Call mild compassion from the indulgent throne;
Let grief no more awake the piteous strain,
Nor think thy piety or toils are vain
Tho' faithless men thy injured worth despise,
Depress all virtue and insult the skies,
Yet look thro' nature, Heaven's own conduct trace,
What power divine sustains the unthankful race!
From that great Source, that life-inspiring Soul,
Suns drew their light and systems learn'd to roll,
Time walk'd the silent round, and life began,
And God's fair image stamp'd the mind of man
Down the long vale, where rolling years descend,
To thy own days, behold his care extend;
From one eternal Spring, what love proceeds!
Smiles in the seraph, in the Saviour bleeds,
Shines through all worlds, that fill the bounds of space,
And lives and brightens in thy favour'd race.
Yet no return the almighty Power can know,
From earth to heaven no just reward can flow,
Men spread their wants, the all-bounteous hand supplies,
And gives the joys that mortals dare despise
In these dark vales where blinded faction sways,
Wealth pride and conquest claim the palm of praise,
Aw'd into slaves, while groping millions groan,
And blood-stain'd steps lead upwards to a throne
Far other wreaths thy virtuous temples claim,
Far nobler honours build thy sacred name,
Thine be the joys the immortal mind that grace
Pleas'd with the toils, that bless thy kindred race,
Now raise thy ravish'd soul to scenes more bright,
The glorious fruits ascending on thy sight;
For, wing'd with speed, from brighter worlds I came,
To sooth thy grief and show thy distant fame
As that great Seer, whose animating rod
Taught Israel's sons the wonder-working God,
Who led, thro' dreary wastes, the murmuring band
To the fair confines of the promised land,
Oppress'd with years, from Pisgah's beauteous height,
O'er boundless regions cast the raptured sight;
The joys of unborn nations warm'd his breast,
Repaid his toils and sooth'd his soul to rest;
Thus, o'er thy subject wave, shalt thou behold
Far happier realms their future charms unfold,
In nobler pomp another Pisgah rise,
Beneath whose foot thine own Canaumlan lies;
There, rapt in vision, hail the distant clime,
And taste the blessings of remotest time
The Seraph spoke; and now before them lay
(The doors unbarr'd) a steep ascending way,
That, through disparting shades, arose on high,
Reach'd o'er the hills and lengthen'd up the sky,
Oped a fair summit, graced with rising flowers,
Sweet odours breathing through celestial bowers,
O'er proud Hispanian spires, it looks sublime,
Subjects the Alps and levels all the clime
Led by the Power, the hero gain'd the height,
A touch from heaven sublimed his mortal sight,
And, calm beneath them, flow'd the western main,
Far stretch'd, immense, a sky-encircled plain;
No sail, no isle, no cloud invests the bound,
Nor billowy surge disturbs the unvaried round;
Till, deep in distant heavens, the sun's dim ray
Topp'd unknown cliffs and call'd them up to day;
Slow glimmering into sight wide regions drew,
And rose and brighten'd on the expanding view;
Fair sweep the waves, the lessening ocean smiles,
And breathes the fragrance of a thousand isles;
Near and more near the long-drawn coasts arise,
Bays stretch their arms and mountains lift the skies,
The lakes, unfolding, point the streams their way,
The plains the hills their lengthening skirts display,
The vales draw forth, high walk the approaching groves,
And all the majesty of nature moves.
O'er the wild climes his eyes delighted rove,
Where lands extend and glittering waters move;
He saw through central realms, the winding shore
Spread the deep gulph, his sail had traced before,
The rocky isthmus meet the raging tide,
Join distant lands and neighbouring seas divide,
On either side the shores unbounded bend,
Push wide their waves and to the poles ascend;
While two fair continents united rise,
Broad as the main and lengthen'd with the skies.
Such views around them spread, when thus the Guide,
Here bounteous earth displays her noblest pride,
Ages unborn shall bless the happy day,
When thy bold streamers steer'd the trackless way,
O'er these delightful realms thy sons shall tread.
And following millions trace the path you led
Behold yon isles, where first the flag, unfurl'd,
Waved peaceful triumph o'er the newfound world,
Where, aw'd to silence, savage bands gave place,
And hail'd with joy the sun-descended race.
See there the banks that purest waters lave,
Swift Oronoque rolls back the ocean's wave,
The well known current cleaves the lofty coast,
Where Paria's walks thy former footsteps boast
These scanty shores no more thy joys shall bound,
See nobler prospects lead their swelling round,
Nature's sublimest scenes before thee roll,
And years and empires open on thy soul
High to yon seats exalt thy roving view,
Where Quito's lofty plains o'erlook Peru,
On whose broad base, like clouds together driven,
A world exalted props the skirts of heaven
From south to north what long, blue fronts arise!
Ridge over ridge, and lost in ambient skies!
Approaching near, they heave expanding bounds,
The yielding concave bends sublimer rounds,
Earth's loftiest towers there lift the daring height,
And all the Andes fill the bounded sight
Round the low base what sloping breaches bend!
Hills form on hills and trees o'er trees extend,
Ascending, whitening, how the craggs are lost!
O'erwhelm'd with summits of eternal frost;
Broad fields of ice give back the morning ray,
Like walls of suns or heaven's perennial day
There folding storms on eastern pinions ride,
Veil the black heavens and wrap the mountain's side,
The thunders rake the craggs, the rains descend,
And the long lightnings o'er the vallies bend,
While blasts unburden'd sweep the cliffs of snow,
The whirlwinds wheel above, the floods convolve below.
There molten rocks, explosive rend their tomb,
And dread volcanoes ope the nations' doom,
Wild o'er the regions pour the floods of fire,
The shores heave backward and the seas retire
There slumbering vengeance waits the Almighty call,
Long ages hence to shake some guilty wall;
Thy pride, O Lima, swells the sulph'rous wave,
And fanes and priests and idols croud thy grave
But cease, my son, these dread events to trace,
Nor learn the woes that wait thy kindred race.
Beyond those glimmering hills, in lands unknown,
O'er the wide gulph, beyond the flaming zone,
Thro' milder climes, see gentler mountains rise,
Where yon dim regions bound the northern skies
Back from the shore ascending champaigns run,
And lift their heights to hail the eastern sun,
Through all the midland realm, to yon blue pole,
The green hills lengthen and the rivers roll
So spoke the blest Immortal; when, more near,
The northern climes in various pomp appear;
Lands yet unknown, and streams without a name
Rise into vision and demand their fame
As when some saint, in heaven's sublime abode,
Extends his views o'er all the works of God;
While earth's fair circuit in his presence rolls,
Here glows the centre and there point the poles;
O'er land and sea his eyes sublimely rove,
And joys of mortals kindle heaven with love;
With equal glance the great Observer's sight
Ranged the low vale or climb'd the cloudly height,
As, led by heaven's own light, his raptured mind,
Explored the realms that here await mankind
Now the still morn had tinged the mountain's brow
And rising radiance warm'd the plains below;
Stretch'd o'er Virginian hills, in long array,
The beauteous Alleganies met the day
From sultry Mobile's rich Floridian shore,
To where Ontario bids hoarse Laurence roar,
O'er the clear mountain-tops and winding streams,
Rose a pure azure, streak'd with orient beams;
Fair spread the scene, the hero gazed sublime,
And thus in prospect hail'd the happy clime
Blest shores of fame, conceal'd in earlier days
To lure my steps to trace the untempted seas!
And blest the race my guardian Saint shall lead,
Where these tall forests wave the beckoning head
Thro' each wide ridge what various treasures shine!
Sleep there ye diamonds, and ye ores refine
Exalt your heads ye oaks, ye pines ascend
Till future navies bid your branches bend,
Then spread the canvass o'er the subject sea,
Explore new worlds and teach the old your sway
He said, and northward cast his wondering eyes,
Where other cliffs, in other climes, arise,
Where bleak Acadia spreads the dangerous coast,
And isles and shoals their latent horrors boast,
High in the distant heaven, the hoary height
Heaves the glad sailor an eternal light
Nor could those hills, unnoticed, raise their head,
That look sublime o'er Hudson's winding bed;
Tho' no bold fiction rear them to the skies,
And neighbouring summits far superior rise,
Yet the blue Kaatskill, where the storms divide,
Would lift the heavens from Atlas' labouring pride
Awhile the ridgy heights his notice claim,
And hills unnumber'd rose without a name,
Which placed, in pomp, on any eastern shore,
Taurus would shrink, the Alps be sung no more;
For here great nature, more exalted show'd
The last ascending footsteps of her God.
He saw those mountains ope their watery store,
Floods leave their caves and seek the distant shore,
Down the long hills and through the subject plain,
Roll the delightful currents to the main;
Whose numerous channels cleave the lengthening strand,
And heave their banks where future towns must stand;
He stretch'd his eager glance from pole to pole
Traced all their sources and explored the whole
First, from the dreadful Andes' opening side,
He saw Maranon lead his sovereign tide.
A thousand hills for him dissolve their snow,
A thousand streams obedient bend below,
From distant lands their devious courses wind,
Sweep beds of ore and leave their gold behind,
In headlong cataracts indignant heave,
Rush to his opening banks and swell the sweeping wave
Ucayla, chief of all his mighty sons,
From Cusco's bounds a lengthening circuit runs;
Yutay moves gently in a shorter course,
And rapid Yatva pours a gathering force;
Far in a wild, by nameless tributes fed,
The silent Chavar wears a lonely bed;
Aloft, where northern Quito sits on high,
The roaring Napo quits his misty sky,
Down the long steeps, in whitening torrents driven,
Like Nile descending from his fabled heaven
While other waves and lakes unknown to fame,
Discharge their urns and fill the swelling stream,
That, far, from clime to clime, majestic goes,
Enlarging widening deepening as it flows;
Approaching ocean hears the distant roar,
Moves up the bed, nor finds the expected shore;
His freshening waves, with high and hoary tide,
Whelm back the flood, and isles and champaigns hide,
Till mingling waters lead the downward sweep,
And waves and trees and banks roll whirling to the deep
Now, where the sun in milder glory beams,
Brazilia's hills pour down their spreading streams,
The smiling lakes their opening sides display,
And winding vales prolong the devious way;
He saw Xaraya's diamond banks unfold,
And Paraguay's deep channel paved with gold,
Saw proud Potosi lift his glittering head,
Whence the clear Plata wears his tinctur'd bed;
Rich with the spoils of many a distant mine,
In one broad silver sea their floods combine;
Wide o'er the realms its annual bounties spread,
By nameless streams from various mountains fed;
The thirsty regions wait its glad return,
And drink their future harvests from its urn.
Round the cold climes, beneath the southern sky,
Thy path, Magellan, caught the hero's eye;
The long cleft ridges oped the widening way
Fair gleaming westward to the Placid Sea
Soon as the distant wave was seen to roll,
His ancient wishes fill'd his rising soul,
Warm from his heaving heart an anxious sigh
Breathed o'er his lips; he turn'd his moisten'd eye,
And thus besought the Angel. Speak, my guide,
Where leads the pass? and whence yon purple tide?
Deep in the blue horizon, widely spread,
What liquid realms in blending ether fade!
How the dim waters skirt the bounds of day!
No lands behind them rise, no streamers in them play
In those low skies extends the boundless main,
I sought so long, and sought, alas, in vain
Restore, celestial Power, my youthful morn,
Call back my years and bid my fame return;
Grant me to trace, beyond that pathless sea,
Some happier shore from lust of empire free;
In that far world to fix a peaceful bower,
From envy safe, and curst Ovando's power
Since joys of mortals claim thy guardian care,
Oh bless the nations and regard my prayer:
There rest forever kingdoms unexplored,
A God creating, and no God adored
Earth's happiest realms shall endless darkness hide?
And seas forever roll their useless tide?
Grant, heavenly guide, the welcome task to dare,
One venturous bark, and be my life thy care.
The hero spoke; the Seraph mild replies,
While warm compassion soften'd in his eyes;
Though still to virtuous deeds thy mind aspires,
And heavenly visions kindle new desires;
Yet hear with reverence what attends thy state,
Nor pass the confines of eternal fate
Led by this sacred light thy soul shall see,
That half mankind shall owe their bliss to thee,
And joyous empires claim their future birth,
In these fair bounds of sea-encircled earth;
While unborn times, by thine example prest,
Shall call forth heroes to explore the rest
Beyond those seas, the well-known climes arise,
Where morning splendors gild the eastern skies
The circling course to India's happy shores,
Round Afric's coast, bold Gama now explores;
Another pass these opening straits provide,
Nor long shall rest the daring search untry'd;
This watery glade shall open soon to fame,
Here a lost hero fix his lasting name,
From that new main in furious waves be tost,
And fall neglected on the barbarous coast
But see the chief from Albion's strand arise,
Speed in his pinions, fame before his eyes;
Hither, O Drake, display the hastening sails,
Widen ye passes, and awake ye gales,
Move thou before him, heaven-revolving sun,
Wind his long course, and teach him where to run,
Earth's distant shores in circling bands unite,
Lands, learn your fame, and oceans, roll in light,
Round all the beauteous globe his flag be hurl'd,
A new Columbus to the astonish'd world
He spoke; and silent tow'rd the northern sky,
Wide o'er the realms the hero cast his eye;
Saw the long floods pour forth their watery stores,
And wind their currents to the opening shores;
While midland seas and lonely lakes display
Their glittering glories to the beams of day
Thy capes, Virginia, towering from the tide,
Raised up their arms and branch'd their borders wide;
Whose broad embrace in circling extent lay,
Round the calm bosom of thy beauteous bay
Where commerce since has wing'd her channel'd flight
Each spreading stream lay brightening to the light;
York led his wave, imbank'd in mazy pride,
And nobler James fell winding by his side;
Back tow'rd the distant hills, through many a vale,
Wild Rappahanock seem'd to lure the sail,
While, far o'er all, in sea-like azure spread,
The great Potowmac swept his lordly bed.
When thus he saw the mingling waters play,
And seas, in lost disorder, idly stray,
Where frowning forests stretch the dusky wing,
And deadly damps forbid the flowers to spring,
No seasons clothe the field with beauteous grain,
No buoyant ship attempt the useless main,
With fond impatience, Heavenly Seer, he cry'd,
When shall my children cross the lonely tide?
Here, here, my sons, the hand of culture bring,
Here teach the lawns to smile, the groves to sing;
Ye sacred floods, no longer vainly glide,
Ye harvests, load them, and ye forests, ride,
Bear the deep burden from the joyous swain,
And tell the world where peace and plenty reign
Now round the coast, where other floods invite,
He fondly turn'd; they fill'd his eager sight:
Here Del'ware's waves the yielding shores invade,
And here bold Hudson oped a glassy glade;
Thy parent stream, fair Hartford, met his eye,
Far lessening upward to the northern sky;
No watery gleams thro' happier valleys shine,
Nor drinks the sea a lovlier wave than thine
Bright Charles and Mystick laved their bloomy isles,
And gay Piscatuway caught his passing smiles;
Swift Kenebeck, descending from on high,
Swept the tall hills and lengthen'd down the sky;
When hoarse resounding through the gaping shore,
He heard cold Laurence' dreadful surges roar
Tho' softening May had waked the vernal blade,
And happier climes her fragrant garb display'd,
Yet howling winter, in this bleak domain,
Shook the wide waste and held his gloomy reign;
Still groans the flood, in frozen fetters bound,
And isles of ice his threatening front surround,
Clothed in white majesty, the foaming main
Leads up the tide and tempts the wintery chain,
Billows on billows lift the maddening brine,
And seas and clouds in battling conflict join,
The dash'd wave struggling heaves in swelling sweep,
Wide crash the portals of the frozen deep,
Till forced alost, high-bounding in the air,
Moves the blear ice and sheds a hideous glare,
The torn foundations on the surface ride,
And wrecks of winter load the downward tide
When now the stream had oped its northern course,
He traced the current to its milder source;
There, far retired, the Angellic Power displays
Earth's sweetest charms, her own imbosom'd seas
Ontario's banks, fair opening on the north,
With sweep majestic, pour'd his Laurence forth;
Above, bold Erie's wave sublimely stood,
Look'd o'er the cliff and heaved the headlong flood,
Far circling in the north, great Huron spread,
And Michigan o'erwhelm'd a western bed;
While, stretch'd in circling majesty away,
The deep Superior closed the setting day
Here all the midland seas their waves unite,
And gleam in grandeur to the hero's sight;
Wide opening round them lands delightful spread,
Deep groves innumerous cast a solemn shade;
Slow moved the settling mist in lurid streams,
And dusky radiance brown'd the glimmering beams;
O'er all the great Discoverer wondering stood,
And thus address'd the messenger of good
What lonely walks, what wonderous wilds are these?
What branching vales run smiling to their seas?
The peaceful seats, reserved by Heaven to grace,
The virtuous toils of some illustrious race
But why these regions form'd so fair in vain?
And why so distant rolls the unconscious main?
These desert fountains must forever rest,
Of man unseen, by native beasts possest;
For, see, no ship can point the streamer here,
No opening pass, no spreading ocean near;
Eternal winter clothes the shelvy shores,
Where yon far northern son of ocean roars;
Or should some bark the daring entrance brave,
And climes by culture warm his lessening wave,
Yon frightful cataract exalts the brow,
And frowns defiance to the world below.
To whom the Seraph. Here extended lies
The happiest realm that feels the fostering skies;
Led by this arm thy sons shall hither come,
And streams obedient yield the heroes room;
Nor think no pass can find the distant main,
Or heaven's last polish touch'd these climes in vain
Behold, from yon fair lake, the current led,
And silent waves adorn its infant head;
Far south thro' happy regions see it wind,
By gathering floods and nobler fountains join'd,
Yon opening gulph receive the beauteous wave,
And thy known isles its freshening current lave;
There lies the path some future ship shall trace,
And waft to these wide vales thy kindred race
The hero saw the blooming isles ascend
And round the gulph the circling shore extend,
He saw fair Missisippi wind his way,
Through all the western boundless tracts of day;
Where Alleganies stretch the morning shade,
From lone Oswago to the gulphy glade,
Where absent suns their midnight circles ride,
Pours the long current of his rushing tide
Unnumber'd branches from the channel stray,
Akansa here, and there Missouri lay,
Rouge roll'd his wave along the western wild,
And broad Ohio's northern beauties smiled
Retiring far round Hudson's frozen bay,
Where lessening circles shrink beyond the day,
The shivering shrubs scarce brave the dismal clime,
Snows ever-rising with the years of time;
The beasts all whitening roam the lifeless plain,
And caves unfrequent scoop the couch for man
Where Spring's coy steps, in cold Canadia, stray,
And joyless seasons hold unequal sway,
He saw the pine its daring mantle rear,
Break the rude blast and mock the inclement year,
Secure the limits of the angry skies,
And bid all southern vegetation rise
Wild o'er the vast, impenetrable round,
The untrod bowers of shadowy nature frown'd;
The neighbouring cedar waved its honours wide,
The fir's tall boughs, the oak's resistless pride,
The branching beach, the aspin's trembling shade,
Veil'd the dim heavens and brown'd the dusky glade
Here in huge crouds those sturdy sons of earth,
In frosty regions, claim a nobler birth;
Where heavy trunks the sheltering dome requires,
And copious fuel feeds the wintery fires
While warmer suns, that southern climes emblaze,
A cool deep umbrage o'er the woodland raise;
Floridia's blooming shores around him spread,
And Georgian hills erect their shady head;
Beneath tall trees, in livelier verdure gay,
Long level walks a humble garb display;
The infant corn, unconscious of its worth,
Points the green spire and bends the foliage forth;
Sweeten'd on flowery banks, the passing air
Breathes all the untasted fragrance of the year;
Unbidden harvests o'er the regions rise,
And blooming life repays the genial skies.
Where circling shores around the gulph extend,
The bounteous groves with richer burdens bend;
Spontaneous fruits the uplifted palms unfold,
The beauteous orange waves a load of gold,
The untaught vine, the wildly-wanton cane
Bloom on the waste, and clothe the enarbour'd plain,
The rich pimento scents the neighbouring skies,
And woolly clusters o'er the cotton rise
Here, in one view, the same glad branches bring
The fruits of autumn and the flowers of spring;
No wintery blasts the unchanging year deform,
Nor beasts unshelter'd fear the pinching storm;
But vernal breezes o'er the blossoms rove,
And breathe the ripen'd juices thro' the grove
Beneath the crystal wave's inconstant light,
Pearls undistinguish'd sparkle on the sight;
From opening earth, in living lustre, shine
The various treasures of the blazing mine;
Hills, cleft before him, all their stores unfold,
The quick mercurius and the burning gold;
Gems of unnumber'd hues, in bright array,
Illume the changing rocks and shed the beams of day
When now the Chief had travel'd with his eye,
O'er each fair clime that meets the incumbent sky;
The stream, the mountain, forest, vale and plain,
And isle and coast, and wide untravers'd main;
He cast, o'er all, the immeasurable glance,
And all past views in one broad vision dance
Skirting the western heavens and each far pole,
With blending skies Pacific oceans roll,
Atlantic surges lead their swelling round,
And distant straits the polar confines bound
The western coasts their long, high summits heave,
And look majestic o'er the subject wave;
While, on the lowly east, the winding strand
Draws from the silent sea and gently steals to land
The Pleasures of Hope
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering bills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky ?
Why do those clifts of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near ?—
'T is distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to survey
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way;
Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been,
And every form, that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.
What potent spirit guides the raptured eye
To pierce the shades of dim futurity ?
Can Wisdom lend, with all her heavenly power,
The pledge of Joy's anticipated hour ?
Ah, no! she darkly sees the fate of man—
Her dim horizon bounded to a span;
Or, if she hold an image to the view,
'T is Nature pictured too severely true.
With thee, sweet Hope! resides the heavenly light,
That pours remotest rapture on the sight:
Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play.
Waked by thy touch, I see the sister band,
On tiptoe watching, staft at thy command
And fly where'er thy mandate bids them steer,
To Pleasure's path or Glory's bright career.
Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say,
When Man and Nature mourned their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below ;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car ;
When Peace and Mercy, banished from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again ;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, lingered still behind.
Thus, while Elijah's burning wheels prepare
From Carmel's heights to sweep the fields of air,
The prophet's mantle, ere his fight began,
Dropt on the world—a sacred gift to man.
Auspicious Hope ! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe ;
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour,
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bower ;
There, as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring
What viewless forms th' Æolian organ play,
And sweep the furrowed lines of anxious thought away.
Angel of life! thy glittering wings explore
Earth's loneliest bounds, and Ocean's wildest shore
Lo! to the wintry winds the pilot yields
His bark careering o'er unfathomed fields ;
Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,
With meteor-standard to the winds unfurled,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world !
Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles,
On Behring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles:
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow,
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow ;
And waft, across the waves' tumultuous roar,
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore.
Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm,
Sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form !
Rocks, waves, and winds, the shattered bark delay ;
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
But Hope can here her moonlight vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep:
Swift as yon streamer lights the starry pole,
Her visions warm the watchman's pensive soul ;
His native hills that rise in happier climes,
The grot that heard his song of other times,
His cottage home, his bark of slender sail,
His glassy lake, and broomwood-blossomed vale,
Rush on his thought ; he sweeps before the wind,
Treads the loved shore he sighed to leave behind .
Meets at each step a friend's familiar face,
And flies at last to Helen's long embrace,
Wipes from her cheek the rapture-speaking tear !
And clasps, with many a sigh, his children dear !
While, long neglected, but at length caressed,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest,
Points to the master's eyes (where'er they roam)
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home.
Friend of the brave ! in peril's darkest hour,
Intrepid Virtue looks to thee for power ;
To thee the heart its trembling homage yields,
On stormy floods, and carnage-covered fields,
When front to front the bannered hosts combine,
Halt ere they close, and form the dreadful line.
When all is still on Death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil !
As rings his glittering tube, he lifts on high
The dauntless brow and spirit-speaking eye,
Hails in his heart the triumph yet to come,
And hears thy stormy music in the drum !
And such thy strength inspiring aid that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore—
In horrid climes; where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'T was his to mourn Misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourged by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn and search again
The famished haunts of solitary men ;
Whose race, unyielding as their native storm,
Know not a trace of Nature but the form
Yet at thy call, the hardy tar pursued,
Pale, but intrepid, sad, but unsubdued,
Pierced the deep woods, and hailing from afar
The moon's pale planet and the northern star,
Paused at each dreary cry, unheard before ;
Hyænas in the wild, and mermaids on the shore ;
Till, led by thee o'er many a cliff sublime,
He found a warmer world, a milder clime
A home to rest, a shelter to defend,
Peace and repose, a Briton and a friend !
Congenial Hope ! thy passion-kindling power,
How bright, how strong, in youth's untroubled hour!
On you proud height, with Genius hand in hand
I see thee 'light and wave thy golden wand.
"Go, child of Heaven ! (thy winged words pro-claim)
'T is thine to search the boundless fields of fame !
Lo ! Newton, priest of Nature ; shines afar ;
Scans the wide world, and numbers every star !
Wilt thou, with him, mysterious rites apply,
And watch the shrine with wonder-beaming eye !
Yes thou shalt mark, with magic art profound,
The speed of light, the circling march of sound :
With Franklin grasp the lightning's fiery wing,
Or yield the lyre of Heaven another string
“The Swedish sage admires, in yonder bowers,
His winged insects, and his rosy flowers ;
Calls from their woodland haunts the savage train,
With sounding horn, and counts them on the plain—
So once, at Heaven's command, the wanderers came
To Eden's shade, and heard their various name.
"Far from the world, in yen sequestered clime,
Slow pass the sons of Wisdom, more sublime;
Calm as the fields of Heaven, his sapient eye
The loved Athenian lifts to realms on high,
Admiring Plato, on his spotless page,
Stamps the bright dictates of the Father sage:
'Shall Nature bound to Earth's diurnal span
The fire of God ; th' immortal soul of man?'
"Turn, child of Heaven ; thy rapture-lightened eye
To Wisdom's walks, the sacred Nine are nigh:
Hark ! from bright spires that gild the Delphian height,
From streams that wander in eternal light,
Ranged on their hill, Harmonia's daughters swell
The mingling tones of horn, and harp and shell.
Deep from his vaults the Loxian murmurs flow,
And Pythia's awful organ peals below.
"Beloved of Heaven ! the smiling Muse shall shed
Her moonlight halo on thy beauteous head .
Shall swell thy heart to rapture unconfined,
And breathe a holy madness o'er thy mind.
I see thee roam her guardian power beneath,
And talk with spirits en the midnight heath ;
Enquire of guilty wanderers whence they came,
And ask each blood-stained form his earthly name
Then weave in rapid verse the deeds they tell,
And read the trembling world the tales of hell.
"When Venus, throned in clouds of rosy hue,
Flings from her golden urn the vesper dew,
And bids fond man her glimmering noon employ,
Sacred to love, and walks of tender joy ;
A milder mood the goddess shall recall,
And soft as dew thy tones of music fall ;
While Beauty's deeply-pictured smiles impart
A pang more dear than pleasure to the heart—
Warm as thy sighs shall flow the Lesbian strain,
And plead in Beauty's ear, nor plead in vain.
"Or wilt thou Orphean hymns more sacred deem,
And steep thy song in Mercy's mellow stream ;
To pensive drops the radiant eye beguile—
For Beauty's tears are lovelier than her smile ;
On Nature's throbbing anguish pour relief,
And teach impassioned souls the joy of grief?
" Yes ; to thy tongue shall seraph words be given,
And power on earth to plead the cause of Heaven:
The proud, the cold untroubled heart of stone,
That never mused on sorrow but its own,
Unlocks a generous store at thy command,
Like Horeb's rocks beneath the prophet's hand.
The living lumber of his kindred earth,
Charmed into soul, receives a second birth,
Feels thy dread power another heart afford,
Whose passion-touched harmonious strings accord
True as the circling spheres to Nature's plan ;
And man ; the brother, lives the friend of man.
"Bright as the pillar rose at Heaven' s command,
When Israel marched along the desert land,
Blazed through the night on lonely wilds afar,
And told the path—a never-setting star:
So, heavenly genius, in thy course divine,
Hope is thy star, her light is ever thine."
Propitious Power ! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy ;
When doomed to Poverty's sequestered dell,
The wedded pair of love and virtue dwell,
Unpitied by the world, unknown to fame
Their woes, their wishes, and their hearts the same—
Oh, there, prophetic Hope ! thy smile bestow,
And chase the pangs that worth should never know—
There, as the parent deals his scanty store
To friendless babes, and weeps to give no more,
Tell, that his manly race shall yet assuage
Their father's wrongs, and shield his latter age.
What through for him no Hybla sweets distil,
Nor bloomy vices wave purple on the hill ;
Tell, that when silent years have passed away,
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses gray,
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build,
And deck with fairer flowers his little field,
And call from Heaven propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath .
Tell, that while Love's spontaneous smile endears,
The days of peace, the sabbath of his years,
Health shall prolong to many a festive hour
The social pleasures of his humble bower.
Lo ! at the couch where infant beauty sleeps,
Her silent watch the mournful mother keeps ;
She, while the lovely babe unconscious lies,
Smiles on her slumbering child with pensive eyes,
And weaves a song of melancholy joy—
Sleep, image of thy father, sleep, my boy ;
No lingering hour of sorrow shall be thine ;
No sigh that rends thy father's heart and mine ;
Bright as his manly sire the son shall be
In form and soul ; but, ah ! more blest than he !
Thy fame, thy worth, thy filial love at last,
Shall soothe his aching heart for all the past—
With many a smile my solitude repay,
And chase the world's ungenerous scorn away.
"And say, when summoned from the world and thee,
I lay my head beneath the willow tree,
Wilt thou, sweet mourner ! at my stone appear,
And soothe my parted spirit lingering near ?
Oh, wilt thou come at evening hour to shed
The tears of Memory o'er my narrow bed.
With aching temples on thy hand reclined,
Muse on the last farewell I leave behind,
Breathe a deep sigh to winds that murmur low
And think on all my love, and all my woe?"
So speaks affection, ere the infant eye
Can look regard, or brighten in reply ;
But when a cherub lip hath learnt to claim
A mother's ear by that endearing name ;
Soon as the playful innocent can prove
A tear of pity, or a smile of love,
Or cons his murmuring task beneath her care;
Or lisps with holy look his evening prayer,
Or gazing, mutely pensive sits to hear
The mournful ballad warbled in his ear ;
How fondly looks admiring Hope the while,
At every artless tear, and every smile ;
How glows the joyous parent to descry
A guileless bosom, true to sympathy !
Where is the troubled heart consigned to share
Tumultuous toils, or solitary care,
Unblest by visionary thoughts that stray
To count the joys of Fortune's better day!
Lo, nature, life, and liberty relume
The dim-eyed tenant of the dungeon gloom,
A long-lost friend, or hapless child restored,
Smiles at its blazing hearth and social board ;
Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,
And virtue triumphs o'er remembered woe.
Chide not his peace, proud Reason ; nor destroy
The shadowy forms of uncreated joy,
That urge the lingering tide of life, and pour
Spontaneous slumber on his midnight hour.
Hark ! the wild maniac sings, to chide the gale
That wafts so slow her lover's distant sail .
She, sad spectatress, on the wintry shore,
Watched the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,
Knew the pale form, and, shrieking in amaze,
Clasped her cold hands ; and fixed her maddening gaze:
Poor widowed wretch ! 't was there she wept in vain,
Till Memory fled her agonizing brain;--
But Mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe,
Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow ;
Warm oil her heart the joys of Fancy beam,
And aimless Hope delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climbed the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots burn
To hail the bark that never can return ;
And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep.
And, mark the wretch, whose wanderings never knew
Thie world's regard, that soothes, though half untrue;
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
But found not pity when it erred no more.
Yon friendless man, at whose dejected eye
Th' unfeeling proud one looks—and passes by,
Condemned on Penury's barren path to roam,
Scorned by thie world, and left without a home—
Even he, at evening, should he chance to stray
Down by the hamlet's hawthorn-scented way,
Where, round the cot's romantic glade, are seen
The blossomed bean-field, and the sloping green,
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while—
Oh ! that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly form
Health in the breeze, and shelter in the storm !
There should my hand no stinted boon assign
To wretched hearts with sorrow such as mine !—
That generous wish can soothe unpitied care,
And Hope half mingles with the poor man' s prayer.
Hope ! when I mourn, with sympathizing mind ;
The wrongs of fate, the woes of human kind,
Thy blissful omens bid my spirit see
The boundless fields of rapture yet to be ;
I watch the wheels of Nature's mazy plan,
And learn the future by the past of man.
Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time,
And rule the spacious world from clime to clime ;
Thy handmaid arts shall every wild explore,
Trace every wave, and culture every shore.
On Erie's banks, where tigers steal along,
And the dread Indian chants a dismal song,
Where human fiends on midnight errands walk,
And bathe in brains the murderous tomahawk,
There shall the flocks on thymy pasture stray,
And shepherds dance at Summer's opening day ;
Each wandering genius of the lonely glen
Shall start to view the glittering haunts of men,
And silent watch, on woodland heights around,
The village curfew as it tolls profound.
In Libyan groves ; where damned rites are done,
That bathe the rocks in blood, and veil the sun,
Truth shall arrest the murderous arm profane,
Wild Obi flies—the veil is rent in twain.
Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home ;
Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade th' unfathomed darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair.—
Hark ! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks thie image back that Heaven bestowed !
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.
Oh ! sacred Truth ! thy triumph ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn ;
Tumultous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man !
Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,--
Oh ! Heaven ! he cried, my bleeding country save !—
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave ?
Yet; though destruction sweep those lovehy plains,
Rise ; fellow-men ! our country yet remains !
By that dread name, we wave the sword on high !
And swear for her to live !—with her to die !
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few ; but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow ; a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze ; but dreadful as the storm ;
Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death,—the watchword and reply ;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm ;
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm !—
In vain ; alas ! in vain, ye gallant few !
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;—
Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a cnme ;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe !
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career;--
Hope; for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked—as Kosciusxo fell !
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there ;
Tumultuous Murder shook the midnight air—
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below ;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way,
Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay !
Hark ; as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call !
Earth shook-red meteors flashed along the sky,
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry !
Oh ! righteous Heaven ; ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save ?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance ! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God ;
That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron ear
Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar ?
Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
Of blood stained Pharaoh left thcir trembling coast ;
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heaved an ocean on their march below ?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead !
Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled !
Friends of the world ! restore your swords to man,
Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van !
Yet for Sarmatia's tears of blood atone,
And make her arm puissant as your own !
Oh ! once again to Freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell—the Bruce of Bannockburn!
Yes ! thy proud lords, unpitied land ! shall see
That man bath yet a soul—and dare be free !
A little while, along thy saddening plains,
This starless night of Desolation reigns ;
Truth shall restore the light by Nature given,
And, like Prometheus, bring the fire of Heaven !
Prone to the dust Oppression shall be hurled,
Her name her nature, withered from the world !
Ye that the rising morn invidious mark,
And hate the light—because your deeds are dark
Ye that expanding truth invidious view,
And think, or wish, the song of Hope untrue ;
Perhaps your little hands presume to span
The march of Genius and the powers of man ;
Perhaps ye watch, at Pride's unhallowed shrine,
Her victims, newly slain, and thus divine :—
“ Here shall tiny triumph, Genius, cease, and here
Truth, Science, Virtue, close your short career.”
Tyrants ! in vain ye trace the wizard ring ;
In vain ye limit Mind's unwearied spring:
What ! can ye lull the winged winds asleep,
Arrest the rolling world, or chain the deep ?
No !—the wild wave contemns your sceptred hand :
It rolled not back when Canute gave command !
Man ! can thy doom no brighter soul allow ?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature's brow ?
Shall war's polluted banner ne'er be furled ?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world ?
What ! are thou triumphs, sacred Truth, belied ?
Why then hath Plato lived—or Sidney died ?
Ye fond adorers of departed fame,
Who warm at Scipio's worth, or Tully's name !
Ye that, in fancied vision, can admire
The sword of Brutus, and the Theban lyre !
Rapt in historic ardor, who adore
Each classic haunt, and well remembered shore,
Where Valor tuned, amidst her chosen throng,
The Thiracian trumpet, and the Spartan song ;
Or, wandering thence, behold the later charms
Of England's glory, and Helvetia's arms !
See Roman fire in Hampden's bosom swell,
And fate and freedom in the shaft of Tell !
Say, ye fond zealots to the worth of yore,
Hath Valor left the world—to live no more ?
No more shall Brutus bid a tyrant die,
And sternly smile with vengeance in his eye ?
Hampden no more, when suffering Freedom calls,
Encounter Fate, and triumph as he falls ?
Nor Tell disclose, through peril and alarm,
The might that slumbers in a peasant's arm ?
Yes ! in that generous cause, for ever strong,
The patriot's virtue and the poet's song,
Still, as the tide of ages rolls away,
Shall charm the world, unconscious of decay.
Yes ! there are hearts, prophetic Hope may trust,
That slumber yet in uncreated dust,
Ordained to fire th' adoring sons of earth,
With every charm of wisdom and of worth ;
Ordained to light, with intellectual day,
The mazy wheels of nature as they play,
Or, warm with Fancy's energy, to glow
And rival all but Shakspeare's name below.
And say, supernal Powers who deeply scan
Heaven's dark decrees, unfathomed yet by man,
When shall the world call down, to cleanse her shame,
That embryo spirit, yet without a name—
That friend of Nature, whose avenging hands
Shall burst the Libyan's adamantine bands ?
Who, sternly marking on his native soil
The blood,the tears, the anguish, and the toil,
Shall bid each righteous heart exult, to see
Peace to the slave, and vengeance on the free !
Yet, yet, degraded men ! th' expected day
That breaks your bitter cup, is far away ;
Trade, wealth, and fashion, ask you still to bleed,
And holy men give Scripture for the deed .
Scourged, and debased, no Briton stoops to save
A wretch, a coward ; yes, because a slave !—
Eternal Nature when thy giant hand
Had heaved the floods, and fixed the trembling land,
When life sprang startling at thy plastic call,
Endless her forms, auiol man the lord of all !
Say, was that lordly form inspired by thee,
To wear eternal chains and bow the knee ?
Was man ordained the slave of man to toil,
Yoked with the brutes, and fettered to the soil .
Weighed in a tyrant's balance witli his gold ?
No !—Nature stamped us in a heavenly mould !
She bade no wretch his thankless labor urge,
Nor, trembling, take the pittance and the scourge !
No homeless Libyan, on the stormy deep,
To call upon his country's name, and weep !—
Lo ! once in triumph, on his boundless plain,
The quivered chief of Congo loved to reign ;
With fires proportioned to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and lightning in his eye ;
Scoured with wild feet his sun illumined zone,
The spear, the lion, and the woods, his own !
Or led the combat, bold without a plan,
An artless savage, but a fearless man !
The plunderer came !—alas ! no glory smiles
For Congo's chief, on yonder Indian Isles ;
Forever fallen ! no son of Nature now,
With Freedom chartered on his manly I brow !
Faint, bleeding, bound, he weeps the night away,
And when the sea-wind wafts the dewless daiy,
Starts, with a bursting heart ; for evermore
To curse the sun that lights their guilty shore !
The shrill horn blew ; at that alarum knell
His guardian angel took a last farewell !
That funeral dirge to darkness hath resigned
The fiery grandeur of a generous mind !
Poor fettered man ! I bear thee whispering how
Unhallowed vows to Guilt, the child of Woe,
Friendless thy heart ; and canst thou harbor there
A wish but death—a passion but despair ?
The widowed Indian, when her lord expires,
Mounts the dread pile, and braves thie funeral fires.
So falls the heart at Thraldom's bitter sigh!
So Virtue dies, the spouse of Liberty !
But not to Libya's barren climes alone,
To Chili, or the wild Siberian zone,
Belong the wretched heart and haggard eye,
Degraded worth, and poor misfortune's sigh !
Ye orient realms, where Ganges' waters run !
Prolific fields ! dominions of the sun !
How long your tribes have trembled and obeyed !
How long was Timour's iron sceptre swayed,
Whouse marshalled hosts, the lions of the plain,
From Scythia's northern mountains to the main,
Raged o'er your plundered shrines and altars bare,
With blazing torch and gory scymetar,—
Stunned with the cries of death each gentle gale
And bathed in blood the verdure of the vale !
Yet could no pangs the immortal spirit tame,
When Brama's children perished for his name ;
The martyrsm led beneath avenging power,
And braved the tyrant in his torturing hour !
When Europe sought your subject realms to gain,
And stretched her giant sceptre o'er the main,
Taught her proud barks the winding way to shape,
And braved the stormy Spirit of the Cape ;
Children of Brama ! then was Mercy nigh
To wash the stain of blood's eternal dye ?
Did Peace descend, to triumph and to save,
When freeborn Britons crossed the Indian wave ?
Ah, no !—to more than Rome's ambition true,
The Nurse of Freedom gave it not to you !
She the bold route of Europe's guilt began,
And, in the march of nations, led the van !
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
And plunder piled from kingdoms not their own,
Degenerate trade ! thy minions could despise
The heart-born anguish of a thousand cries ;
Could lock, with impious hands, their store,
While famished nations died along the shore:
Could mock the groans of felhow-men, and bear
The curse of kingdoms peopled with despair ;
Could stamp disgrace on man's polluted name,
And barter, with their gold, eternal shame !
But hark ! as bowed to earth the Bramin kneels
From heavenly climes propitious thunder peals !
Of India's fate her guardian spirits tell,
Prophetic murmurs breathing on the shell
And solemn sound that awe the listening mind
Roll on the azure paths of every wind.
“ Foes of mankind ! (her guardian spirits say;)
Revolving ages bring the bitter day,
When Heaven's unerring arm shall fall on you,
And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew ;
Nine times have Brama's wheels of lightning hurled
His awful presence o'er the alarmed world ;
Nine times hath Guilt, through all his giant frame,
Convulsive trembled , as the Mighty came;
Nine times hath suffering Mercy spared in vain—
But Heaven shall burst her starry gates again !
He comes ! dread Brama shakes the sunless sky
With murmuring wrath , and thunders from on high,
Heaven's fiery horse, beneath his warrior form,
Paws the light clouds, and gallops on the storm !
Wide waves his flickering sword ; his bright arms glow
Like summer suns and light the world below !
Earth, and her trembling isles in Ocean's bed,
Are shook ; and Nature rocks beneath his tread !
"To pour redress on India's injured realm,
The oppressor to dethrone ; the proud to whelm ;
To chase destruction from her plundered shore
With arts and arms that triumphed once before,
The tenth Avatar comes ! at Heaven's command
Shall Seriswatte wave her hallowed wand !
And Camdeo bright, and Ganesa sublime ,
Shall bless with joy their own propitious clime !—
Come, Heavenly Powers ! primeval peace restore !
Love !—Mercy !—Wisdom !—rule for evermore!"
Over the sea, past Crete, on the Syrian shore to the southward,
Dwells in the well-tilled lowland a dark-haired AEthiop people,
Skilful with needle and loom, and the arts of the dyer and carver,
Skilful, but feeble of heart; for they know not the lords of Olympus,
Lovers of men; neither broad-browed Zeus, nor Pallas Athene,
Teacher of wisdom to heroes, bestower of might in the battle;
Share not the cunning of Hermes, nor list to the songs of Apollo.
Fearing the stars of the sky, and the roll of the blue salt water,
Fearing all things that have life in the womb of the seas and the livers,
Eating no fish to this day, nor ploughing the main, like the Phoenics,
Manful with black-beaked ships, they abide in a sorrowful region,
Vexed with the earthquake, and flame, and the sea-floods, scourge of
Whelming the dwellings of men, and the toils of the slow-footed oxen,
Drowning the barley and flax, and the hard-earned gold of the harvest,
Up to the hillside vines, and the pastures skirting the woodland,
Inland the floods came yearly; and after the waters a monster,
Bred of the slime, like the worms which are bred from the slime of the Nile-
Shapeless, a terror to see; and by night it swam out to the seaward,
Daily returning to feed with the dawn, and devoured of the fairest,
Cattle, and children, and maids, till the terrified people fled inland.
Fasting in sackcloth and ashes they came, both the king and his people,
Came to the mountain of oaks, to the house of the terrible sea-gods,
Hard by the gulf in the rocks, where of old the world-wide deluge
Sank to the inner abyss; and the lake where the fish of the goddess,
Holy, undying, abide; whom the priests feed daily with dainties.
There to the mystical fish, high-throned in her chamber of cedar,
Burnt they the fat of the flock; till the flame shone far to the seaward.
Three days fasting they prayed; but the fourth day the priests of the
Cunning in spells, cast lots, to discover the crime of the people.
All day long they cast, till the house of the monarch was taken,
Cepheus, king of the land; and the faces of all gathered blackness.
Then once more they cast; and Cassiopoeia was taken,
Deep-bosomed wife of the king, whom oft far-seeing Apollo
Watched well-pleased from the welkin, the fairest of AEthiop women:
Fairest, save only her daughter; for down to the ankle her tresses
Rolled, blue-black as the night, ambrosial, joy to beholders.
Awful and fair she arose, most like in her coming to Here,
Queen before whom the Immortals arise, as she comes on Olympus,
Out of the chamber of gold, which her son Hephaestos has wrought her.
Such in her stature and eyes, and the broad white light of her forehead.
Stately she came from her place, and she spoke in the midst of the people.
'Pure are my hands from blood: most pure this heart in my bosom.
Yet one fault I remember this day; one word have I spoken;
Rashly I spoke on the shore, and I dread lest the sea should have heard it.
Watching my child at her bath, as she plunged in the joy of her girlhood,
Fairer I called her in pride than Atergati, queen of the ocean.
Judge ye if this be my sin, for I know none other.' She ended;
Wrapping her head in her mantle she stood, and the people were silent.
Answered the dark-browed priests, 'No word, once spoken, returneth,
Even if uttered unwitting. Shall gods excuse our rashness?
That which is done, that abides; and the wrath of the sea is against us;
Hers, and the wrath of her brother, the Sun-god, lord of the sheepfolds.
Fairer than her hast thou boasted thy daughter? Ah folly! for hateful,
Hateful are they to the gods, whoso, impious, liken a mortal,
Fair though he be, to their glory; and hateful is that which is likened,
Grieving the eyes of their pride, and abominate, doomed to their anger.
What shall be likened to gods? The unknown, who deep in the darkness
Ever abide, twyformed, many-handed, terrible, shapeless.
Woe to the queen; for the land is defiled, and the people accursed.
Take thou her therefore by night, thou ill-starred Cassiopoeia,
Take her with us in the night, when the moon sinks low to the westward;
Bind her aloft for a victim, a prey for the gorge of the monster,
Far on the sea-girt rock, which is washed by the surges for ever;
So may the goddess accept her, and so may the land make atonement,
Purged by her blood from its sin: so obey thou the doom of the rulers.'
Bitter in soul they went out, Cepheus and Cassiopoeia,
Bitter in soul; and their hearts whirled round, as the leaves in the eddy.
Weak was the queen, and rebelled: but the king, like a shepherd of people,
Willed not the land should waste; so he yielded the life of his daughter.
Deep in the wane of the night, as the moon sank low to the westward,
They by the shade of the cliffs, with the horror of darkness around them,
Stole, as ashamed, to a deed which became not the light of the sunshine,
Slowly, the priests, and the queen, and the virgin bound in the galley,
Slowly they rowed to the rocks: but Cepheus far in the palace
Sate in the midst of the hall, on his throne, like a shepherd of people,
Choking his woe, dry-eyed, while the slaves wailed loudly around him.
They on the sea-girt rock, which is washed by the surges for ever,
Set her in silence, the guiltless, aloft with her face to the eastward.
Under a crag of the stone, where a ledge sloped down to the water;
There they set Andromeden, most beautiful, shaped like a goddess,
Lifting her long white arms wide-spread to the walls of the basalt,
Chaining them, ruthless, with brass; and they called on the might of the
'Mystical fish of the seas, dread Queen whom AEthiops honour,
Whelming the land in thy wrath, unavoidable, sharp as the sting-ray,
Thou, and thy brother the Sun, brain-smiting, lord of the sheepfold,
Scorching the earth all day, and then resting at night in thy bosom,
Take ye this one life for many, appeased by the blood of a maiden,
Fairest, and born of the fairest, a queen, most priceless of victims.'
Thrice they spat as they went by the maid: but her mother delaying
Fondled her child to the last, heart-crushed; and the warmth of her weeping
Fell on the breast of the maid, as her woe broke forth into wailing.
'Daughter! my daughter! forgive me! Oh curse not the murderess! Curse
How have I sinned, but in love? Do the gods grudge glory to mothers?
Loving I bore thee in vain in the fate-cursed bride-bed of Cepheus,
Loving I fed thee and tended, and loving rejoiced in thy beauty,
Blessing thy limbs as I bathed them, and blessing thy locks as I combed them;
Decking thee, ripening to woman, I blest thee: yet blessing I slew thee!
How have I sinned, but in love? Oh swear to me, swear to thy mother,
Never to haunt me with curse, as I go to the grave in my sorrow,
Childless and lone: may the gods never send me another, to slay it!
See, I embrace thy knees-soft knees, where no babe will be fondled-
Swear to me never to curse me, the hapless one, not in the death-pang.'
Weeping she clung to the knees of the maid; and the maid low answered-
'Curse thee! Not in the death-pang!' The heart of the lady was lightened.
Slowly she went by the ledge; and the maid was alone in the darkness.
Watching the pulse of the oars die down, as her own died with them,
Tearless, dumb with amaze she stood, as a storm-stunned nestling
Fallen from bough or from eave lies dumb, which the home-going herdsman
Fancies a stone, till he catches the light of its terrified eyeball.
So through the long long hours the maid stood helpless and hopeless,
Wide-eyed, downward gazing in vain at the black blank darkness.
Feebly at last she began, while wild thoughts bubbled within her-
'Guiltless I am: why thus, then? Are gods more ruthless than mortals?
Have they no mercy for youth? no love for the souls who have loved them?
Even as I loved thee, dread sea, as I played by thy margin,
Blessing thy wave as it cooled me, thy wind as it breathed on my forehead,
Bowing my head to thy tempest, and opening my heart to thy children,
Silvery fish, wreathed shell, and the strange lithe things of the water,
Tenderly casting them back, as they gasped on the beach in the sunshine,
Home to their mother-in vain! for mine sits childless in anguish!
O false sea! false sea! I dreamed what I dreamed of thy goodness;
Dreamed of a smile in thy gleam, of a laugh in the plash of thy ripple:
False and devouring thou art, and the great world dark and despiteful.'
Awed by her own rash words she was still: and her eyes to the seaward
Looked for an answer of wrath: far off, in the heart of the darkness,
Blight white mists rose slowly; beneath them the wandering ocean
Glimmered and glowed to the deepest abyss; and the knees of the maiden
Trembled and sunk in her fear, as afar, like a dawn in the midnight,
Rose from their seaweed chamber the choir of the mystical sea-maids.
Onward toward her they came, and her heart beat loud at their coming,
Watching the bliss of the gods, as they wakened the cliffs with their
Onward they came in their joy, and before them the roll of the surges
Sank, as the breeze sank dead, into smooth green foam-flecked marble,
Awed; and the crags of the cliff, and the pines of the mountain were silent.
Onward they came in their joy, and around them the lamps of the sea-nymphs,
Myriad fiery globes, swam panting and heaving; and rainbows
Crimson and azure and emerald, were broken in star-showers, lighting
Far through the wine-dark depths of the crystal, the gardens of Nereus,
Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean.
Onward they came in their joy, more white than the foam which they
Laughing and singing, and tossing and twining, while eager, the Tritons
Blinded with kisses their eyes, unreproved, and above them in worship
Hovered the terns, and the seagulls swept past them on silvery pinions
Echoing softly their laughter; around them the wantoning dolphins
Sighed as they plunged, full of love; and the great sea-horses which bore
Curved up their crests in their pride to the delicate arms of the maidens,
Pawing the spray into gems, till a fiery rainfall, unharming,
Sparkled and gleamed on the limbs of the nymphs, and the coils of the mermen.
Onward they went in their joy, bathed round with the fiery coolness,
Needing nor sun nor moon, self-lighted, immortal: but others,
Pitiful, floated in silence apart; in their bosoms the sea-boys,
Slain by the wrath of the seas, swept down by the anger of Nereus;
Hapless, whom never again on strand or on quay shall their mothers
Welcome with garlands and vows to the temple, but wearily pining
Gaze over island and bay for the sails of the sunken; they heedless
Sleep in soft bosoms for ever, and dream of the surge and the sea-maids.
Onward they passed in their joy; on their brows neither sorrow nor anger;
Self-sufficing, as gods, never heeding the woe of the maiden.
She would have shrieked for their mercy: but shame made her dumb; and their
Stared on her careless and still, like the eyes in the house of the idols.
Seeing they saw not, and passed, like a dream, on the murmuring ripple.
Stunned by the wonder she gazed, wide-eyed, as the glory departed.
'O fair shapes! far fairer than I! Too fair to be ruthless!
Gladden mine eyes once more with your splendour, unlike to my fancies;
You, then, smiled in the sea-gleam, and laughed in the plash of the ripple.
Awful I deemed you and formless; inhuman, monstrous as idols;
Lo, when ye came, ye were women, more loving and lovelier, only;
Like in all else; and I blest you: why blest ye not me for my worship?
Had you no mercy for me, thus guiltless? Ye pitied the sea-boys:
Why not me, then, more hapless by far? Does your sight and your knowledge
End with the marge of the waves? Is the world which ye dwell in not our
Over the mountain aloft ran a rush and a roll and a roaring;
Downward the breeze came indignant, and leapt with a howl to the water,
Roaring in cranny and crag, till the pillars and clefts of the basalt
Rang like a god-swept lyre, and her brain grew mad with the noises;
Crashing and lapping of waters, and sighing and tossing of weed-beds,
Gurgle and whisper and hiss of the foam, while thundering surges
Boomed in the wave-worn halls, as they champed at the roots of the mountain.
Hour after hour in the darkness the wind rushed fierce to the landward,
Drenching the maiden with spray; she shivering, weary and drooping,
Stood with her heart full of thoughts, till the foam-crests gleamed in the
Leaping and laughing around, and the east grew red with the dawning.
Then on the ridge of the hills rose the broad bright sun in his glory,
Hurling his arrows abroad on the glittering crests of the surges,
Gilding the soft round bosoms of wood, and the downs of the coastland;
Gilding the weeds at her feet, and the foam-laced teeth of the ledges,
Showing the maiden her home through the veil of her locks, as they floated
Glistening, damp with the spray, in a long black cloud to the landward.
High in the far-off glens rose thin blue curls from the homesteads;
Softly the low of the herds, and the pipe of the outgoing herdsman,
Slid to her ear on the water, and melted her heart into weeping.
Shuddering, she tried to forget them; and straining her eyes to the seaward,
Watched for her doom, as she wailed, but in vain, to the terrible Sun-god.
'Dost thou not pity me, Sun, though thy wild dark sister be ruthless;
Dost thou not pity me here, as thou seest me desolate, weary,
Sickened with shame and despair, like a kid torn young from its mother?
What if my beauty insult thee, then blight it: but me-Oh spare me!
Spare me yet, ere he be here, fierce, tearing, unbearable! See me,
See me, how tender and soft, and thus helpless! See how I shudder,
Fancying only my doom. Wilt thou shine thus bright, when it takes me?
Are there no deaths save this, great Sun? No fiery arrow,
Lightning, or deep-mouthed wave? Why thus? What music in shrieking,
Pleasure in warm live limbs torn slowly? And dar'st thou behold them!
Oh, thou hast watched worse deeds! All sights are alike to thy brightness!
What if thou waken the birds to their song, dost thou waken no sorrow;
Waken no sick to their pain; no captive to wrench at his fetters?
Smile on the garden and fold, and on maidens who sing at the milking;
Flash into tapestried chambers, and peep in the eyelids of lovers,
Showing the blissful their bliss-Dost love, then, the place where thou
Lovest thou cities aflame, fierce blows, and the shrieks of the widow?
Lovest thou corpse-strewn fields, as thou lightest the path of the vulture?
Lovest thou these, that thou gazest so gay on my tears, and my mother's,
Laughing alike at the horror of one, and the bliss of another?
What dost thou care, in thy sky, for the joys and the sorrows of mortals?
Colder art thou than the nymphs: in thy broad bright eye is no seeing.
Hadst thou a soul-as much soul as the slaves in the house of my father,
Wouldst thou not save? Poor thralls! they pitied me, clung to me weeping,
Kissing my hands and my feet-What, are gods more ruthless than mortals?
Worse than the souls which they rule? Let me die: they war not with ashes!'
Sudden she ceased, with a shriek: in the spray, like a hovering foam-bow,
Hung, more fair than the foam-bow, a boy in the bloom of his manhood,
Golden-haired, ivory-limbed, ambrosial; over his shoulder
Hung for a veil of his beauty the gold-fringed folds of the goat-skin,
Bearing the brass of his shield, as the sun flashed clear on its clearness.
Curved on his thigh lay a falchion, and under the gleam of his helmet
Eyes more blue than the main shone awful; around him Athene
Shed in her love such grace, such state, and terrible daring.
Hovering over the water he came, upon glittering pinions,
Living, a wonder, outgrown from the tight-laced gold of his sandals;
Bounding from billow to billow, and sweeping the crests like a sea-gull;
Leaping the gulfs of the surge, as he laughed in the joy of his leaping.
Fair and majestic he sprang to the rock; and the maiden in wonder
Gazed for a while, and then hid in the dark-rolling wave of her tresses,
Fearful, the light of her eyes; while the boy (for her sorrow had awed him)
Blushed at her blushes, and vanished, like mist on the cliffs at the sunrise.
Fearful at length she looked forth: he was gone: she, wild with amazement,
Wailed for her mother aloud: but the wail of the wind only answered.
Sudden he flashed into sight, by her side; in his pity and anger
Moist were his eyes; and his breath like a rose-bed, as bolder and bolder,
Hovering under her brows, like a swallow that haunts by the house-eaves,
Delicate-handed, he lifted the veil of her hair; while the maiden
Motionless, frozen with fear, wept loud; till his lips unclosing
Poured from their pearl-strung portal the musical wave of his wonder.
'Ah, well spoke she, the wise one, the gray-eyed Pallas Athene,-
Known to Immortals alone are the prizes which lie for the heroes
Ready prepared at their feet; for requiring a little, the rulers
Pay back the loan tenfold to the man who, careless of pleasure,
Thirsting for honour and toil, fares forth on a perilous errand
Led by the guiding of gods, and strong in the strength of Immortals.
Thus have they led me to thee: from afar, unknowing, I marked thee,
Shining, a snow-white cross on the dark-green walls of the sea-cliff;
Carven in marble I deemed thee, a perfect work of the craftsman.
Likeness of Amphitrite, or far-famed Queen Cythereia.
Curious I came, till I saw how thy tresses streamed in the sea-wind,
Glistening, black as the night, and thy lips moved slow in thy wailing.
Speak again now-Oh speak! For my soul is stirred to avenge thee;
Tell me what barbarous horde, without law, unrighteous and heartless,
Hateful to gods and to men, thus have bound thee, a shame to the sunlight,
Scorn and prize to the sailor: but my prize now; for a coward,
Coward and shameless were he, who so finding a glorious jewel
Cast on the wayside by fools, would not win it and keep it and wear it,
Even as I will thee; for I swear by the head of my father,
Bearing thee over the sea-wave, to wed thee in Argos the fruitful,
Beautiful, meed of my toil no less than this head which I carry,
Hidden here fearful-Oh speak!'
But the maid, still dumb with amazement,
Watered her bosom with weeping, and longed for her home and her mother.
Beautiful, eager, he wooed her, and kissed off her tears as he hovered,
Roving at will, as a bee, on the brows of a rock nymph-haunted,
Garlanded over with vine, and acanthus, and clambering roses,
Cool in the fierce still noon, where streams glance clear in the mossbeds,
Hums on from blossom to blossom, and mingles the sweets as he tastes them.
Beautiful, eager, he kissed her, and clasped her yet closer and closer,
Praying her still to speak-
'Not cruel nor rough did my mother
Bear me to broad-browed Zeus in the depths of the brass-covered dungeon;
Neither in vain, as I think, have I talked with the cunning of Hermes,
Face unto face, as a friend; or from gray-eyed Pallas Athene
Learnt what is fit, and respecting myself, to respect in my dealings
Those whom the gods should love; so fear not; to chaste espousals
Only I woo thee, and swear, that a queen, and alone without rival
By me thou sittest in Argos of Hellas, throne of my fathers,
Worshipped by fair-haired kings: why callest thou still on thy mother?
Why did she leave thee thus here? For no foeman has bound thee; no foeman
Winning with strokes of the sword such a prize, would so leave it behind
Just as at first some colt, wild-eyed, with quivering nostril,
Plunges in fear of the curb, and the fluttering robes of the rider;
Soon, grown bold by despair, submits to the will of his master,
Tamer and tamer each hour, and at last, in the pride of obedience,
Answers the heel with a curvet, and arches his neck to be fondled,
Cowed by the need that maid grew tame; while the hero indignant
Tore at the fetters which held her: the brass, too cunningly tempered,
Held to the rock by the nails, deep wedged: till the boy, red with anger,
Drew from his ivory thigh, keen flashing, a falchion of diamond-
'Now let the work of the smith try strength with the arms of Immortals!'
Dazzling it fell; and the blade, as the vine-hook shears off the vine-bough,
Carved through the strength of the brass, till her arms fell soft on his
Once she essayed to escape: but the ring of the water was round her,
Round her the ring of his arms; and despairing she sank on his bosom.
Then, like a fawn when startled, she looked with a shriek to the seaward.
'Touch me not, wretch that I am! For accursed, a shame and a hissing,
Guiltless, accurst no less, I await the revenge of the sea-gods.
Yonder it comes! Ah go! Let me perish unseen, if I perish!
Spare me the shame of thine eyes, when merciless fangs must tear me
Piecemeal! Enough to endure by myself in the light of the sunshine
Guiltless, the death of a kid!'
But the boy still lingered around her,
Loth, like a boy, to forego her, and waken the cliffs with his laughter.
'Yon is the foe, then? A beast of the sea? I had deemed him immortal.
Titan, or Proteus' self, or Nereus, foeman of sailors:
Yet would I fight with them all, but Poseidon, shaker of mountains,
Uncle of mine, whom I fear, as is fit; for he haunts on Olympus,
Holding the third of the world; and the gods all rise at his coming.
Unto none else will I yield, god-helped: how then to a monster,
Child of the earth and of night, unreasoning, shapeless, accursed?'
'Art thou, too, then a god?'
'No god I,' smiling he answered;
'Mortal as thou, yet divine: but mortal the herds of the ocean,
Equal to men in that only, and less in all else; for they nourish
Blindly the life of the lips, untaught by the gods, without wisdom:
Shame if I fled before such!'
In her heart new life was enkindled,
Worship and trust, fair parents of love: but she answered him sighing.
'Beautiful, why wilt thou die? Is the light of the sun, then, so
Worthless to sport with thy fellows in flowery glades of the forest,
Under the broad green oaks, where never again shall I wander,
Tossing the ball with my maidens, or wreathing the altar in garlands,
Careless, with dances and songs, till the glens rang loud to our laughter.
Too full of death the sad earth is already: the halls full of weepers,
Quarried by tombs all cliffs, and the bones gleam white on the sea-floor,
Numberless, gnawn by the herds who attend on the pitiless sea-gods,
Even as mine will be soon: and yet noble it seems to me, dying,
Giving my life for a people, to save to the arms of their lovers
Maidens and youths for a while: thee, fairest of all, shall I slay thee?
Add not thy bones to the many, thus angering idly the dread ones!
Either the monster will crush, or the sea-queen's self overwhelm thee,
Vengeful, in tempest and foam, and the thundering walls of the surges.
Why wilt thou follow me down? can we love in the black blank darkness?
Love in the realms of the dead, in the land where all is forgotten?
Why wilt thou follow me down? is it joy, on the desolate oozes,
Meagre to flit, gray ghosts in the depths of the gray salt water?
Beautiful! why wilt thou die, and defraud fair girls of thy manhood?
Surely one waits for thee longing, afar in the isles of the ocean.
Go thy way; I mine; for the gods grudge pleasure to mortals.'
Sobbing she ended her moan, as her neck, like a storm-bent lily,
Drooped with the weight of her woe, and her limbs sank, weary with watching,
Soft on the hard-ledged rock: but the boy, with his eye on the monster,
Clasped her, and stood, like a god; and his lips curved proud as he answered-
'Great are the pitiless sea-gods: but greater the Lords of Olympus;
Greater the AEgis-wielder, and greater is she who attends him.
Clear-eyed Justice her name is, the counsellor, loved of Athene;
Helper of heroes, who dare, in the god-given might of their manhood,
Greatly to do and to suffer, and far in the fens' and the forests
Smite the devourers of men, Heaven-hated, brood of the giants,
Twyformed, strange, without like, who obey not the golden-haired Rulers.
Vainly rebelling they rage, till they die by the swords of the heroes,
Even as this must die; for I burn with the wrath of my father,
Wandering, led by Athene; and dare whatsoever betides me.
Led by Athene I won from the gray-haired terrible sisters
Secrets hidden from men, when I found them asleep on the sand-hills,
Keeping their eye and their tooth, till they showed me the perilous pathway
Over the waterless ocean, the valley that led to the Gorgon.
Her too I slew in my craft, Medusa, the beautiful horror;
Taught by Athene I slew her, and saw not herself, but her image,
Watching the mirror of brass, in the shield which a goddess had lent me.
Cleaving her brass-scaled throat, as she lay with her adders around her,
Fearless I bore off her head, in the folds of the mystical goat-skin
Hide of Amaltheie, fair nurse of the AEgis-wielder.
Hither I bear it, a gift to the gods, and a death to my foe-men,
Freezing the seer to stone; to hide thine eyes from the horror.
Kiss me but once, and I go.'
Then lifting her neck, like a sea-bird
Peering up over the wave, from the foam-white swells of her bosom,
Blushing she kissed him: afar, on the topmost Idalian summit
Laughed in the joy of her heart, far-seeing, the queen Aphrodite.
Loosing his arms from her waist he flew upward, awaiting the sea-beast.
Onward it came from the southward, as bulky and black as a galley,
Lazily coasting along, as the fish fled leaping before it;
Lazily breasting the ripple, and watching by sandbar and headland,
Listening for laughter of maidens at bleaching, or song of the fisher,
Children at play on the pebbles, or cattle that pawed on the sand-hills.
Rolling and dripping it came, where bedded in glistening purple
Cold on the cold sea-weeds lay the long white sides of the maiden,
Trembling, her face in her hands, and her tresses afloat on the water.
As when an osprey aloft, dark-eyebrowed, royally crested,
Flags on by creek and by cove, and in scorn of the anger of Nereus
Ranges, the king of the shore; if he see on a glittering shallow,
Chasing the bass and the mullet, the fin of a wallowing dolphin,
Halting, he wheels round slowly, in doubt at the weight of his quarry,
Whether to clutch it alive, or to fall on the wretch like a plummet,
Stunning with terrible talon the life of the brain in the hindhead:
Then rushes up with a scream, and stooping the wrath of his eyebrows
Falls from the sky, like a star, while the wind rattles hoarse in his
Over him closes the foam for a moment; and then from the sand-bed
Rolls up the great fish, dead, and his side gleams white in the sunshine.
Thus fell the boy on the beast, unveiling the face of the Gorgon;
Thus fell the boy on the beast; thus rolled up the beast in his horror,
Once, as the dead eyes glared into his; then his sides, death-sharpened,
Stiffened and stood, brown rock, in the wash of the wandering water.
Beautiful, eager, triumphant, he leapt back again to his treasure;
Leapt back again, full blest, toward arms spread wide to receive him.
Brimful of honour he clasped her, and brimful of love she caressed him,
Answering lip with lip; while above them the queen Aphrodite
Poured on their foreheads and limbs, unseen, ambrosial odours,
Givers of longing, and rapture, and chaste content in espousals.
Happy whom ere they be wedded anoints she, the Queen Aphrodite!
Laughing she called to her sister, the chaste Tritonid Athene,
'Seest thou yonder thy pupil, thou maid of the AEgis-wielder?
How he has turned himself wholly to love, and caresses a damsel,
Dreaming no longer of honour, or danger, or Pallas Athene?
Sweeter, it seems, to the young my gifts are; so yield me the stripling;
Yield him me now, lest he die in his prime, like hapless Adonis.'
Smiling she answered in turn, that chaste Tritonid Athene:
'Dear unto me, no less than to thee, is the wedlock of heroes;
Dear, who can worthily win him a wife not unworthy; and noble,
Pure with the pure to beget brave children, the like of their father.
Happy, who thus stands linked to the heroes who were, and who shall be;
Girdled with holiest awe, not sparing of self; for his mother
Watches his steps with the eyes of the gods; and his wife and his children
Move him to plan and to do in the farm and the camp and the council.
Thence comes weal to a nation: but woe upon woe, when the people
Mingle in love at their will, like the brutes, not heeding the future.'
Then from her gold-strung loom, where she wrought in her chamber of cedar,
Awful and fair she arose; and she went by the glens of Olympus;
Went by the isles of the sea, and the wind never ruffled her mantle;
Went by the water of Crete, and the black-beaked fleets of the Phoenics;
Came to the sea-girt rock which is washed by the surges for ever,
Bearing the wealth of the gods, for a gift to the bride of a hero.
There she met Andromeden and Persea, shaped like Immortals;
Solemn and sweet was her smile, while their hearts beat loud at her coming;
Solemn and sweet was her smile, as she spoke to the pair in her wisdom.
'Three things hold we, the Rulers, who sit by the founts of Olympus,
Wisdom, and prowess, and beauty; and freely we pour them on mortals;
Pleased at our image in man, as a father at his in his children.
One thing only we grudge to mankind: when a hero, unthankful,
Boasts of our gifts as his own, stiffnecked, and dishonours the givers,
Turning our weapons against us. Him Ate follows avenging;
Slowly she tracks him and sure, as a lyme-hound; sudden she grips him,
Crushing him, blind in his pride, for a sign and a terror to folly.
This we avenge, as is fit; in all else never weary of giving.
Come, then, damsel, and know if the gods grudge pleasure to mortals.'
Loving and gentle she spoke: but the maid stood in awe, as the goddess
Plaited with soft swift finger her tresses, and decked her in jewels,
Armlet and anklet and earbell; and over her shoulders a necklace,
Heavy, enamelled, the flower of the gold and the brass of the mountain.
Trembling with joy she gazed, so well Haephaistos had made it,
Deep in the forges of AEtna, while Charis his lady beside him
Mingled her grace in his craft, as he wrought for his sister Athene.
Then on the brows of the maiden a veil bound Pallas Athene;
Ample it fell to her feet, deep-fringed, a wonder of weaving.
Ages and ages agone it was wrought on the heights of Olympus,
Wrought in the gold-strung loom, by the finger of cunning Athene.
In it she wove all creatures that teem in the womb of the ocean;
Nereid, siren, and triton, and dolphin, and arrowy fishes
Glittering round, many-hued, on the flame-red folds of the mantle.
In it she wove, too, a town where gray-haired kings sat in judgment;
Sceptre in hand in the market they sat, doing right by the people,
Wise: while above watched Justice, and near, far-seeing Apollo.
Round it she wove for a fringe all herbs of the earth and the water,
Violet, asphodel, ivy, and vine-leaves, roses and lilies,
Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean:
Now from Olympus she bore it, a dower to the bride of a hero.
Over the limbs of the damsel she wrapt it: the maid still trembled,
Shading her face with her hands; for the eyes of the goddess were awful.
Then, as a pine upon Ida when southwest winds blow landward,
Stately she bent to the damsel, and breathed on her: under her breathing
Taller and fairer she grew; and the goddess spoke in her wisdom.
'Courage I give thee; the heart of a queen, and the mind of Immortals;
Godlike to talk with the gods, and to look on their eyes unshrinking;
Fearing the sun and the stars no more, and the blue salt water;
Fearing us only, the lords of Olympus, friends of the heroes;
Chastely and wisely to govern thyself and thy house and thy people,
Bearing a godlike race to thy spouse, till dying I set thee
High for a star in the heavens, a sign and a hope to the seamen,
Spreading thy long white arms all night in the heights of the aether,
Hard by thy sire and the hero thy spouse, while near thee thy mother
Sits in her ivory chair, as she plaits ambrosial tresses.
All night long thou wilt shine; all day thou wilt feast on Olympus,
Happy, the guest of the gods, by thy husband, the god-begotten.'
Blissful, they turned them to go: but the fair-tressed Pallas Athene
Rose, like a pillar of tall white cloud, toward silver Olympus;
Far above ocean and shore, and the peaks of the isles and the mainland;
Where no frost nor storm is, in clear blue windless abysses,
High in the home of the summer, the seats of the happy Immortals,
Shrouded in keen deep blaze, unapproachable; there ever youthful
Hebe, Harmonie, and the daughter of Jove, Aphrodite,
Whirled in the white-linked dance with the gold-crowned Hours and the Graces,
Hand within hand, while clear piped Phoebe, queen of the woodlands.
All day long they rejoiced: but Athene still in her chamber
Bent herself over her loom, as the stars rang loud to her singing,
Chanting of order and right, and of foresight, warden of nations;
Chanting of labour and craft, and of wealth in the port and the garner;
Chanting of valour and fame, and the man who can fall with the foremost,
Fighting for children and wife, and the field which his father bequeathed
Sweetly and solemnly sang she, and planned new lessons for mortals:
Happy, who hearing obey her, the wise unsullied Athene.
WHAT is there that the world hath not
Gathered in yon enchanted spot?
Where, pale, and with a languid eye,
The fair Sultana listlessly
Leans on her silken couch, and dreams
Of mountain airs, and mountain streams.
Sweet though the music float around,
It wants the old familiar sound;
And fragrant though the flowers are breathing,
From far and near together wreathing,
They are not those she used to wear,
Upon the midnight of her hair.—
She's very young, and childhood's days
With all their old remembered ways,
The empire of her heart contest
With love, that is so new a guest;
When blushing with her Murad near,
Half timid bliss, half sweetest fear,
E'en the beloved past is dim,
Past, present, future, merge in him.
But he, the warrior and the chief,
His hours of happiness are brief;
And he must leave Nadira's side
To woo and win a ruder bride;
Sought, sword in hand and spur on heel,
The fame, that weds with blood and steel.
And while from Delhi far away,
His youthful bride pines through the day,
Weary and sad: thus when again
He seeks to bind love's loosen'd chain;
He finds the tears are scarcely dry
Upon a cheek whose bloom is faded,
The very flush of victory
Is, like the brow he watches, shaded.
A thousand thoughts are at her heart,
His image paramount o'er all,
Yet not all his, the tears that start,
As mournful memories recall
Scenes of another home, which yet
That fond young heart can not forget.
She thinks upon that place of pride,
Which frowned upon the mountain's side;
While round it spread the ancient plain,
Her steps will never cross again.
And near those mighty temples stand,
The miracles of mortal hand,
Where, hidden from the common eye,
The past's long buried secrets lie,
Those mysteries of the first great creed,
Whose mystic fancies were the seed
Of every wild and vain belief,
That held o'er man their empire brief,
And turned beneath a southern sky,
All that was faith to poetry.
Hence had the Grecian fables birth,
And wandered beautiful o'er earth;
Till every wood, and stream, and cave,
Shelter to some bright vision gave:
For all of terrible and strange,
That from those gloomy caverns sprung,
From Greece received a graceful change,
That spoke another sky and tongue,
A finer eye, a gentler hand,
Than in their native Hindoo land.
'Twas thence Nadira came, and still
Her memory kept that lofty hill;
The vale below, her place of birth,
That one charmed spot, her native earth.
Still haunted by that early love,
Which youth can feel, and youth alone;
An eager, ready, tenderness,
To all its after-life unknown.
When the full heart its magic flings,
Alike o'er rare and common things,
The dew of morning's earliest hour,
Which swells but once from leaf and flower,
From the pure life within supplied,
A sweet but soon exhausted tide.
There falls a shadow on the gloom,
There steals a light step through the room,
Gentle as love, that, though so near,
No sound hath caught the list'ning ear.
A moment's fond watch o'er her keeping.
Murad beholds Nadira weeping;
He who to win her lightest smile,
Had given his heart's best blood the while.
She turned—a beautiful delight
Has flushed the pale one into rose,
Murad, her love, returned to-night,
Her tears, what recks she now of those?
Dried in the full heart's crimson ray,
Ere he can kiss those tears away—
And she is seated at his feet,
Too timid his dear eyes to meet;
But happy; for she knows whose brow
Is bending fondly o'er her now.
And eager, for his sake, to hear
The records red of sword and spear,
For his sake feels the colour rise,
His spirit kindle in her eyes,
Till her heart beating joins the cry
Of Murad, and of Victory.
City of glories now no more,
His camp extends by Bejapore,
Where the Mahratta's haughty race
Has won the Moslem conqueror's place;
A bolder prince now fills the throne,
And he will struggle for his own.
'And yet,' he said, 'when evening falls
Solemn above those mouldering walls,
Where the mosques cleave the starry air,
Deserted at their hour of prayer,
And rises Ibrahim's lonely tomb,
'Mid weed-grown shrines, and ruined towers,
All marked with that eternal gloom
Left by the past to present hours.
When human pride and human sway
Have run their circle of decay;
And, mocking—the funereal stone,
Alone attests its builder gone.
Oh! vain such temple, o'er the sleep
Which none remain to watch or weep.
I could not choose but think how vain
The struggle fierce for worthless gain.
And calm and bright the moon looked down
O'er the white shrines of that fair town;
While heavily the cocoa-tree
Drooped o'er the walls its panoply,
A warrior proud, whose crested head
Bends mournful o'er the recent dead,
And shadows deep athwart the plain
Usurp the silver moonbeam's reign;
For every ruined building cast
Shadows, like memories of the past.
And not a sound the wind brought nigh,
Save the far jackal's wailing cry,
And that came from the field now red
With the fierce banquet I had spread:
Accursed and unnatural feast,
For worm, and fly, and bird, and beast;
While round me earth and heaven recorded
The folly of life's desperate game,
And the cold justice still awarded
By time, which makes all lots the same.
Slayer or slain, it matters not,
We struggle, perish, are forgot!
The earth grows green above the gone,
And the calm heaven looks sternly on.
'Twas folly this—the gloomy night
Fled before morning's orient light;
City and river owned its power,
And I, too, gladdened with the hour;
I saw my own far tents extend
My own proud crescent o'er them bend;
I heard the trumpet's glorious voice
Summon the warriors of my choice.
Again impatient on to lead,
I sprang upon my raven steed,
Again I felt my father's blood
Pour through my veins its burning flood.
My scimetar around I swung,
Forth to the air its lightning sprung,
A beautiful and fiery light,
The meteor of the coming fight.
'I turned from each forgotten grave
To others, which the name they bear
Will long from old oblivion save
The heroes of the race I share.
I thought upon the lonely isle
Where sleeps the lion-king the while,
Who looked on death, yet paused to die
Till comraded by Victory.
And he, fire noblest of my line,
Whose tomb is now the warrior's shrine,
(Where I were well content to be,
So that such fame might live with me.)
The light of peace, the storm of war,
Lord of the earth, our proud Akbar.
'What though our passing day but be
A bubble on eternity;
Small though the circle is, yet still
'Tis ours to colour at our will.
Mine be that consciousness of life
Which has its energies from strife,
Which lives its utmost, knows its power,
Claims from the mind its utmost dower—
With fiery pulse, and ready hand,
That wills, and willing wins command—
That boldly takes from earth its best—
To whom the grave can be but rest.
Mine the fierce free existence spent
Mid meeting ranks and armed tent:—
Save the few moments which I steal
At thy beloved feet to kneel—
And own the warrior's wild career
Has no such joy as waits him here—
When all that hope can dream is hung
Upon the music of thy tongue.
Ah! never is that cherished face
Banished from its accustomed place—
It shines upon my weariest night
It leads me on in thickest fight:
All that seems most opposed to be
Is yet associate with thee—
Together life and thee depart,
Dream—idol—treasure of my heart.'
Again, again Murad must wield
His scimetar in battle-field:
And must he leave his lonely flower
To pine in solitary bower?
Has power no aid has wealth no charm,
The weight of absence to disarm?
Alas! she will not touch her lute—
What!—sing?—and not for Murad's ear?
The echo of the heart is mute,
And that alone makes music dear.
In vain, in vain that royal hall
Is decked as for a festival.
The sunny birds, whose shining wings
Seem as if bathed in golden springs,
Though worth the gems they cost—and fair
As those which knew her earlier care.
The flowers—though there the rose expand
The sweetest depths wind ever fanned.
Ah! earth and sky have loveliest hues—
But none to match that dearest red,
Born of the heart, which still renews
The life that on itself is fed.
The maiden whom we love bestows
Her magic on the haunted rose.
Such was the colour—when her cheek
Spoke what the lip might never speak.
The crimson flush which could confess
All that we hoped—but dared not guess.
That blush which through the world is known
To love, and to the rose alone—
A sweet companionship, which never
The poet's dreaming eye may sever.
And there were tulips, whose rich leaves
The rainbow's dying light receives;
For only summer sun and skies
Could lend to earth such radiant dyes;
But still the earth will have its share,
The stem is green—the foliage fair—
Those coronals of gems but glow
Over the withered heart below—
That one dark spot, like passion's fire,
Consuming with its own desire.
And pale, as one who dares not turn
Upon her inmost thoughts, and learn,
If it be love their depths conceal,
Love she alone is doomed to feel—
The jasmine droopeth mournfully
Over the bright anemone,
The summer's proud and sun-burnt child:
In vain the queen is not beguiled,
They waste their bloom. Nadira's eye
Neglects them—let them pine and die.
Ah! birds and flowers may not suffice
The heart that throbs with stronger ties.
Again, again Murad is gone,
Again his young bride weeps alone:
Seeks her old nurse, to win her ear
With magic stories once so dear,
And calls the Almas to her aid.
With graceful dance, and gentle singing,
And bells like those some desert home
Hears from the camel's neck far ringing.
Alas! she will not raise her brow;
Yet stay—some spell hath caught her now:
That melody has touched her heart.
Oh, triumph of Zilara's art;
She listens to the mournful strain,
And bids her sing that song again.
'My lonely lute, how can I ask
For music from thy silent strings?
It is too sorrowful a task,
When only swept by memory's wings:
Yet waken from thy charmed sleep,
Although I wake thee but to weep.
'Yet once I had a thousand songs,
As now I have but only one.
Ah, love, whate'er to thee belongs.
With all life's other links, has done;
And I can breathe no other words
Than thou hast left upon the chords.
'They say Camdeo's place of rest,
When floating down the Ganges' tide,
Is in the languid lotus breast,
Amid whose sweets he loves to hide.
Oh, false and cruel, though divine,
What dost thou in so fair a shrine?
'And such the hearts that thou dost choose,
As pure, as fair, to shelter thee;
Alas! they know not what they lose
Who chance thy dwelling-place to be.
For, never more in happy dream
Will they float down life's sunny stream.
'My gentle lute, repeat one name,
The very soul of love, and thine:
No; sleep in silence, let me frame
Some other love to image mine;
Steal sadness from another's tone,
I dare not trust me with my own.
'Thy chords will win their mournful way,
All treasured thoughts to them belong;
For things it were so hard to say
Are murmured easily in song—
It is for music to impart
The secrets of the burthened heart.
'Go, taught by misery and love,
And thou hast spells for every ear:
But the sweet skill each pulse to move,
Alas! hath bought its knowledge dear—
Bought by the wretchedness of years,
A whole life dedicate to tears.'
The voice has ceased, the chords are mute,
The singer droops upon her lute;
But, oh, the fulness of each tone
Straight to Nadira's heart hath gone—
As if that mournful song revealed
Depths in that heart till then concealed,
A world of melancholy thought,
Then only into being brought;
Those tender mysteries of the soul,
Like words on an enchanted scroll,
Whose mystic meaning but appears
When washed and understood by tears.
She gaged upon the singer's face;
Deeply that young brow wore the trace
Of years that leave their stamp behind:
The wearied hope—the fever'd mind—
The heart which on itself hath turned,
Worn out with feelings—slighted—spurned—
Till scarce one throb remained to show
What warm emotions slept below,
Never to be renewed again,
And known but by remembered pain.
Her cheek was pale—impassioned pale—
Like ashes white with former fire,
Passion which might no more prevail,
The rose had been its own sweet pyre.
You gazed upon the large black eyes,
And felt what unshed tears were there;
Deep, gloomy, wild, like midnight skies,
When storms are heavy on the air—
And on the small red lip sat scorn,
Writhing from what the past had borne.
But far too proud to sigh—the will,
Though crushed, subdued, was haughty still;
Last refuge of the spirit's pain,
Which finds endurance in disdain.
Others wore blossoms in their hair,
And golden bangles round the arm.
She took no pride in being fair,
The gay delight of youth to charm;
The softer wish of love to please,
What had she now to do with these?
She knew herself a bartered slave,
Whose only refuge was the grave.
Unsoftened now by those sweet notes,
Which half subdued the grief they told,
Her long black hair neglected floats
O'er that wan face, like marble cold;
And carelessly her listless hand
Wandered above her lute's command
But silently—or just a tone
Woke into music, and was gone.
'Come hither, maiden, take thy seat,'
Nadira said, 'here at my feet.'
And, with the sweetness of a child
Who smiles, and deems all else must smile,
She gave the blossoms which she held,
And praised the singer's skill the while;
Then started with a sad surprise,
For tears were in the stranger's eyes.
Ah, only those who rarely know
Kind words, can tell how sweet they seem.
Great God, that there are those below
To whom such words are like a dream.
'Come,' said the young Sultana, 'come
To our lone garden by the river,
Where summer hath its loveliest home,
And where Camdeo fills his quiver.
If, as thou sayest, 'tis stored with flowers,
Where will he find them fair as ours?
And the sweet songs which thou canst sing
Methinks might charm away his sting.'
The evening banquet soon is spread—
There the pomegranate's rougher red
Was cloven, that it might disclose
A colour stolen from the rose—
The brown pistachio's glossy shell,
The citron where faint odours dwell;
And near the watermelon stands,
Fresh from the Jumna's shining sands;
And golden grapes, whose bloom and hue
Wear morning light and morning dew,
Or purple with the deepest dye
That flushes evening's farewell sky.
And in the slender vases glow—
Vases that seem like sculptured snow—
The rich sherbets are sparkling bright
With ruby and with amber light.
A fragrant mat the ground o'erspread,
With an old tamarind overhead,
With drooping bough of darkest green,
Forms for their feast a pleasant screen.
'Tis night, but such delicious time
Would seem like day in northern clime.
A pure and holy element,
Where light and shade, together blent,
Are like the mind's high atmosphere,
When hope is calm, and heaven is near.
The moon is young—her crescent brow
Wears its ethereal beauty now,
Unconscious of the crime and care,
Which even her brief reign must know,
Till she will pine to be so fair,
With such a weary world below.
A tremulous and silvery beam
Melts over palace, garden, stream;
Each flower beneath that tranquil ray,
Wears other beauty than by day,
All pale as if with love, and lose
Their rich variety of hues—
But ah, that languid loveliness
Hath magic, to the noon unknown,
A deep and pensive tenderness,
The heart at once feels is its own—
How fragrant to these dewy hours,
The white magnolia lifts its urn
The very Araby of flowers,
Wherein all precious odours burn.
And when the wind disperses these,
The faint scent of the lemon trees
Mingles with that rich sigh which dwells
Within the baubool's golden bells.
The dark green peepul's glossy leaves,
Like mirrors each a ray receives,
While luminous the moonlight falls,
O'er pearl kiosk and marble walls,
Those graceful palaces that stand
Most like the work of peri-land.
And rippling to the lovely shore,
The river tremulous with light,
On its small waves, is covered o'er
With the sweet offerings of the night—
Heaps of that scented grass whose bands
Have all been wove by pious hands,
Or wreaths, where fragrantly combined,
Red and white lotus flowers are twined.
And on the deep blue waters float
Many a cocoa-nut's small boat,
Holding within the lamp which bears
The maiden's dearest hopes and prayers,
Watch'd far as ever eye can see,
A vain but tender augury.
Alas! this world is not his home,
And still love trusts that signs will come
From his own native world of bliss,
To guide him through the shades of this.
Dreams, omens, he delights in these,
For love is linked with fantasies,
But hark! upon the plaining wind
Zilara's music floats again;
That midnight breeze could never find
A meeter echo than that strain,
Sad as the sobbing gale that sweeps
The last sere leaf which autumn keeps,
Yet sweet as when the waters fall
And make some lone glade musical.
'Lady, sweet Lady, song of mine
Was never meant for thee,
I sing but from my heart, and thine—
It cannot beat with me.
'You have not knelt in vain despair,
Beneath a love as vain,
That desperate—that devoted love,
Life never knows again.
'What know you of a weary hope,
The fatal and the fond,
That feels it has no home on earth,
Yet dares not look beyond?
'The bitterness of wasted youth,
Impatient of its tears;
The dreary days, the feverish nights,
The long account of years.
'The vain regret, the dream destroy'd,
The vacancy of heart,
When life's illusions, one by one,
First darken—then depart.
'The vacant heart! ah, worse,—a shrine
For one beloved name:
Kept, not a blessing, but a curse,
Amid remorse and shame.
'To know how deep, how pure, how true
Your early feelings were;
But mock'd, betray'd, disdain'd, and chang'd,
They have but left despair.
'And yet the happy and the young
Bear in their hearts a well
Of gentlest, kindliest sympathy,
Where tears unbidden dwell.
'Then, lady, listen to my lute;
As angels look below,
And e'en in heaven pause to weep
O'er grief they cannot know.'
The song was o'er, but yet the strings
Made melancholy murmurings;
She wandered on from air to air,
Changeful as fancies when they bear
The impress of the various thought,
From memory's twilight caverns brought.
At length, one wild, peculiar chime
Recalled this tale of ancient time.
'There's dust upon the distant wind, and shadow on the skies,
And anxiously the maiden strains her long-expecting eyes
And fancies she can catch the light far flashing from the sword,
And see the silver crescents raised, of him, the Mogul lord.
'She stands upon a lofty tower, and gazes o'er the plain:
Alas! that eyes so beautiful, should turn on heaven in vain.
'Tis but a sudden storm whose weight is darkening on the air,
The lightning sweeps the hill, but shows no coming warriors there.
'Yet crimson as the morning ray, she wears the robe of pride
That binds the gallant Humaioon, a brother, to her side;
His gift, what time around his arm, the glittering band was rolled,
With stars of ev'ry precious stone enwrought in shining gold.
'Bound by the Raki's sacred tie, his ready aid to yield,
Though beauty waited in the bower, and glory in the field:
Why comes he not, that chieftain vow'd, to this her hour of need?
Has honour no devotedness? Has chivalry no speed?
'The Rajpoot's daughter gazes round, she sees the plain afar,
Spread shining to the sun, which lights no trace of coming war.
The very storm has past away, as neither earth nor heaven
One token of their sympathy had to her anguish given.
'And still more hopeless than when last she on their camp looked down,
The foeman's gathered numbers close round the devoted town:
And daily in that fatal trench her chosen soldiers fall,
And spread themselves, a rampart vain, around that ruined wall.
'Her eyes upon her city turn—alas! what can they meet,
But famine, and despair, and death, in every lonely street?
Women and children wander pale, or with despairing eye
Look farewell to their native hearths, and lay them down to die.
'She seeks her palace, where her court collects in mournful bands,
Of maidens who but watch and weep, and wring their weary hands.
One word there came from her white lips, one word, she spoke no more;
But that word was for life and death, the young queen named—the Jojr.
[ the last,
'A wild shriek filled those palace halls—one shriek, it was
All womanish complaint and wail have in its utterance past:
They kneel at Kurnavati's feet, they bathe her hands in tears,
Then hurrying to their task of death, each calm and stern appears.
'There is a mighty cavern close beside the palace gate,
Dark, gloomy temple, meet to make such sacrifice to fate:
There heap they up all precious woods, the sandal and the rose,
While fragrant oils and essences like some sweet river flows.
'And shawls from rich Cashmere, and robes from Dacca's golden loom,
And caskets filled with Orient pearls, or yet more rare perfume:
And lutes and wreaths, all graceful toys, of woman's gentle care,
Are heaped upon that royal pile, the general doom to share.
'But weep for those the human things, so lovely and so young,
The panting hearts which still to life so passionately clung;
Some bound to this dear earth by hope, and some by love's strong thrall,
And yet dishonour's high disdain was paramount with all.
'Her silver robe flowed to her feet, with jewels circled round,
And in her long and raven hair the regal gems were bound;
And diamonds blaze, ruby and pearl were glittering in her zone,
And there, with starry emeralds set, the radiant Kandjar shone.
'The youthful Ranee led the way, while in her glorious eyes
Shone spiritual, the clear deep light, that is in moonlit skies:
Pale and resolved, her noble brow was worthy of a race
Whose proud blood flowed in those blue veins unconscious of disgrace.
'Solemn and slow with mournful chaunt, come that devoted band,
And Kurnavati follows last—the red torch in her hand:
She fires the pile, a death-black smoke mounts from that dreary cave—
Fling back the city gates—the foe, can now find but a grave.
'Hark the fierce music on the wind, the atabal, the gong,
The stem avenger is behind, he has not tarried long:
They brought his summons, though he stood before his plighted bride;
They brought his summons, though he stood in all but victory's pride.
'Yet down he flung the bridal wreath, he left the field unwon,
All that a warrior might achieve, young Humaioon had done,
Too late—he saw the reddening sky, he saw the smoke arise,
A few faint stragglers lived to tell the Ranee's sacrifice.
'But still the monarch held a sword, and had a debt to pay;
Small cause had Buhadour to boast—the triumph of that day:
Again the lone streets flowed with blood, and though too late to save,
Vengeance was the funereal rite at Kurnavati's grave.'
Deep silence chained the listeners round,
When, lo, another plaintive sound,
Came from the river's side, and there
They saw a girl with loosened hair
Seat her beneath a peepul tree,
Where swung her gurrah mournfully,
Filled with the cool and limpid wave,
An offering o'er some dear one's grave.
At once Zilara caught the tone,
And made it, as she sung, her own.
'Oh weep not o'er the quiet grave,
Although the spirit lost be near;
Weep not, for well those phantoms know
How vain the grief above their bier.
Weep not—ah no, 'tis best to die,
Ere all of bloom from life is fled;
Why live, when feelings, friends, and faith
Have long been numbered with the dead?
'They know no rainbow-hope that weeps
Itself away to deepest shade;
Nor love, whose very happiness
Should make the trusting heart afraid.
Ah, human tears are tears of fire,
That scorch and wither as they flow;
Then let them fall for those who live,
And not for those who sleep below.
'Yes, weep for those, whose silver chain
Has long been loosed, and yet live on;
The doomed to drink from life's dark spring,
Whose golden bowl has long been gone.
Aye, weep for those, the weary, worn,
The bound to earth by some vain tie;
Some lingering love, some fond regret,
Who loathe to live, yet fear to die.'
A moment's rest, and then once more
Zilara tried her memory's store,
And woke, while o'er the strings she bowed,
A tale of Rajahstan the proud.
'Bold as the falcon that faces the sun,
Wild as the streams when in torrents they run,
Fierce as the flame when the jungle's on fire,
Are the chieftains who call on the day-star as Sire.
Since the Moghuls were driven from stately Mandoo,
And left but their ruins their reign to renew,
Those hills have paid tribute to no foreign lord,
And their children have kept what they won by the sword.
Yet downcast each forehead, a sullen dismay
At Oudeypoor reigns in the Durbar to-day,
For bootless the struggle, and weary the fight,
Which Adjeit Sing pictures with frown black as night:—
'Oh fatal the hour, when Makundra's dark pass
Saw the blood of our bravest sink red in the grass;
And the gifts which were destined to honour the bride,
By the contest of rivals in crimson were dyed.
Where are the warriors who once wont to stand
The glory and rampart of Rajahstan's land?
Ask of the hills for their young and their brave,
They will point to the valleys beneath as their grave.
The mother sits pale by her desolate hearth,
And weeps o'er the infant an orphan from birth;
While the eldest boy watches the dust on the spear,
Which as yet his weak hand is unable to rear.
The fruit is ungathered, the harvest unsown,
And the vulture exults o'er our fields as his own:
There is famine on earth—there is plague in the air,
And all for a woman whose face is too fair.'
There was silence like that from the tomb, for no sound
Was heard from the chieftains who darkened around,
When the voice of a woman arose in reply,
'The daughters of Rajahstan know how to die.'
'Day breaks, and the earliest glory of morn
Afar o'er the tops of the mountains is borne;
Then the young Kishen Kower wandered through the green bowers,
That sheltered the bloom of the island of flowers;
Where a fair summer palace arose mid the shade,
Which a thousand broad trees for the noon-hour had made
Far around spread the hills with their varying hue,
From the deepest of purple to faintest of blue;
On one side the courts of the Rana are spread,
The white marble studded with granite's deep red;
While far sweeps the terrace, and rises the dome,
Till lost in the pure clouds above like a home.
Beside is a lake covered over with isles,
As the face of a beauty is varied with smiles:
Some small, just a nest for the heron that springs
From the long grass, and flashes the light from its wings;
Some bearing one palm-tree, the stately and fair,
Alone like a column aloft in the air;
While others have shrubs and sweet plants that extend
Their boughs to the stream o'er whose mirror they bend.
The lily that queen-like uprears to the sun,
The loveliest face that his light is upon;
While beside stands the cypress, which darkens the wave
With a foliage meant only to shadow the grave.
But the isle in the midst was the fairest of all
Where ran the carved trellis around the light hall;
Where the green creeper's starry wreaths, scented and bright.
Wooed the small purple doves 'mid their shelter to light;
There the proud oleander with white tufts was hung,
And the fragile clematis its silver showers flung,
And the nutmeg's soft pink was near lost in the pride
Of the pomegranate blossom that blushed at its side.
There the butterflies flitted around on the leaves,
From which every wing its own colour receives;
There the scarlet finch past like a light on the wind,
And the hues of the bayas like sunbeams combined;
Till the dazzled eye sought from such splendours to rove
And rested at last on the soft lilac dove;
Whose song seemed a dirge that at evening should be
Pour'd forth from the height of the sad cypress tree.
Her long dark hair plaited with gold on each braid;
Her feet bound with jewels which flash'd through the shade;
One hand filled with blossoms, pure hyacinth bells
Which treasure the summer's first breath in their cells;
The other caressing her white antelope,
In all the young beauty of life and of hope.
The princess roved onwards, her heart in her eyes,
That sought their delight in the fair earth and skies.
Oh, loveliest time! oh, happiest day!
When the heart is unconscious, and knows not its sway,
When the favourite bird, or the earliest flower,
Or the crouching fawn's eyes, make the joy of the hour,
And the spirits and steps are as light as the sleep
Which never has waken'd to watch or to weep.
She bounds o'er the soft grass, half woman half child,
As gay as her antelope, almost as wild.
The bloom of her cheek is like that on her years;
She has never known pain, she has never known tears,
And thought has no grief, and no fear to impart;
The shadow of Eden is yet on her heart.
'The midnight has fallen, the quiet, the deep,
Yet in yon Zenana none lie down for sleep.
Like frighted birds gathered in timorous bands,
The young slaves within it are wringing their hands.
The mother hath covered her head with her veil,
She weepeth no tears, and she maketh no wail;
But all that lone chamber pass silently by;
She has flung her on earth, to despair and to die.
But a lamp is yet burning in one dismal room,
Young princess; where now is thy morning of bloom?
Ah, ages, long ages, have passed in a breath,
And life's bitter knowledge has heralded death.
At the edge of the musnud she bends on her knee,
While her eyes watch the face of the stern Chand Baee.
Proud, beautiful, fierce; while she gazes, the tone
Of those high murky features grows almost her own;
And the blood of her race rushes dark to her brow,
The spirit of heroes has entered her now.
' 'Bring the death-cup, and never for my sake shall shame
Quell the pride of my house, or dishonour its name.
She drained the sherbet, while Chand Baee looked on,
Like a warrior that marks the career of his son.
But life is so strong in each pure azure vein,
That they take not the venom—she drains it again.
The haughty eye closes, the white teeth are set,
And the dew-damps of pain on the wrung brow are wet:
The slight frame is writhing—she sinks to the ground;
She yields to no struggle, she utters no sound—
The small hands are clenched—they relax—it is past,
And her aunt kneels beside her—kneels weeping at last.
Again morning breaks over palace and lake,
But where are the glad eyes it wont to awake.
Weep, weep, 'mid a bright world of beauty and bloom,
For the sweet human flower that lies low in the tomb.
And wild through the palace the death-song is breathing,
And white are the blossoms, the slaves weep while wreathing,
To strew at the feet and to bind round the head,
Of her who was numbered last night with the dead:
They braid her long tresses, they drop the shroud o'er,
And gaze on her cold and pale beauty no more:
But the heart has her image, and long after-years
Will keep her sad memory with music and tears.'
Days pass, yet still Zilara's song
Beguiled the regal beauty's hours
As the wind bears some bird along
Over the haunted orange bowers.
'Twas as till then she had not known
How much her heart had for its own;
And Murad's image seemed more dear,
These higher chords of feeling strung;
'And love shone brighter for the shade
'That others' sorrows round it flung.
It was one sultry noon, yet sweet
The air which through the matted grass
Came cool—its breezes had to meet
A hundred plumes, ere it could pass;
The peacock's shining feathers wave
From many a young and graceful slave;
Who silent kneel amid the gloom
Of that dim and perfumed room.
Beyond, the radiant sunbeams rest
On many a minaret's glittering crest,
And white the dazzling tombs below,
Like masses sculptured of pure snow;
While round stands many a giant tree,
Like pillars of a sanctuary,
Whose glossy foliage, dark and bright,
Reflects, and yet excludes the light.
Oh sun, how glad thy rays are shed;
How canst thou glory o'er the dead?
Ah, folly this of human pride,
What are the dead to one like thee,
Whose mirror is the mighty tide,
Where time flows to eternity?
A single race, a single age,
What are they in thy pilgrimage?
The tent, the palace, and the tomb
Repeat the universal doom.
Man passes, but upon the plain
Still the sweet seasons hold their reign,
As if earth were their sole domain,
And man a toy and mockery thrown
Upon the world he deems his own.
All is so calm—the sunny air
Has not a current nor a shade;
The vivid green the rice-fields wear
Seems of one moveless emerald made;
The Ganges' quiet waves are rolled
In one broad sheet of molten gold;
And in the tufted brakes beside,
The water-fowls and herons hide.
And the still earth might also seem
The strange creation of a dream.
Actual, breathless—dead, yet bright—
Unblest with life—yet mocked with light,
It mocks our nature's fate and power,
When we look forth in such an hour,
And that repose in nature see,
The fond desire of every heart;
But, oh! thou inner world, to thee,
What outward world can e'er impart?
But turn we to that darkened hall,
Where the cool fountain's pleasant fall
Wakens the odours yet unshed
From the blue hyacinth's drooping head;
And on the crimson couch beside
Reclines the young and royal bride;
Not sleeping, though the water's chime,
The lulling flowers, the languid time,
Might soothe her to the gentlest sleep,
O'er which the genii watchings keep,
And shed from their enchanted wings,
All loveliest imaginings:
No, there is murmuring in her ear,
A voice than sleep's more soft and dear;
While that pale slave with drooping eye
Speaks mournfully of days gone by;
And every plaintive word is fraught
With music which the heart has taught,
A pleading and confiding tone,
To those mute lips so long unknown.
Ah! all in vain that she had said
To feeling, 'slumber like the dead;'
Had bade each pang that might convulse
With fiery throb the beating pulse,
Each faded hope, each early dream,
Sleep as beneath a frozen stream;
Such as her native mountains bear,
The cold white hills around Jerdair;
Heights clad with that eternal snow,
Which happier valleys never know.
Some star in that ungenial sky,
Might well shape such a destiny;
But till within the dark calm grave,
There yet will run an under-wave,
Which human sympathy can still
Excite and melt to tears at will;
No magic any spell affords,
Whose power is like a few kind words.
'Twas strange the contrast in the pair,
That leant by that cool fountain's side
Both very young, both very fair,
By nature, not by fate allied:
The one a darling and delight,
A creature like the morning bright:
Whose weeping is the sunny shower
Half light upon an April hour;
One who a long glad childhood past,
But left that happy home to 'bide
Where love a deeper shadow cast,
A hero's proud and treasured bride:
Who her light footstep more adored,
Than all the triumphs of his sword;
Whose kingdom at her feet the while,
Had seemed too little for a smile.
But that pale slave was as the tomb
Of her own youth, of her own bloom;
Enough remained to show how fair,
In other days those features were,
Still lingered delicate and fine,
The shadow of their pure outline;
The small curved lip, the glossy brow,
That melancholy beauty wore,
Whose spell is in the silent past,
Which saith to love and hope, 'No more:'
No more, for hope hath long forsaken
Love, though at first its gentle guide
First lulled to sleep, then left to 'waken,
'Mid tears and scorn, despair and pride,
And only those who know can tell,
What love is after hope's farewell.
And first she spoke of childhood's time,
Little, what childhood ought to be,
When tenderly the gentle child
Is cherished at its mother's knee,
Who deems that ne'er before, from heaven
So sweet a thing to earth was given.
But she an orphan had no share
In fond affection's early care;
She knew not love until it came
Far other, though it bore that name.
'I felt,' she said, 'all things grow bright!
Before the spirit's inward light.
Earth was more lovely, night and day,
Conscious of some enchanted sway,
That flung around an atmosphere
I had not deemed could brighten here.
And I have gazed on Moohreeb's face,
As exiles watch their native place;
I knew his step before it stirred
From its green nest the cautious bird.
I woke, till eye and cheek grew dim,
Then slept—it was to dream of him;
I lived for days upon a word
Less watchful ear had never heard:
And won from careless look or sign
A happiness too dearly mine.
He was my world—I wished to make
My heart a temple for his sake.
It matters not—such passionate love
Has only life and hope above;
A wanderer from its home on high,
Here it is sent to droop and die.
He loved me not—or but a day,
I was a flower upon his way:
A moment near his heart enshrined,
Then flung to perish on the wind.'
She hid her face within her hands—
Methinks the maiden well might weep;
The heart it has a weary task
Which unrequited love must keep;
At once a treasure and a curse,
The shadow on its universe.
Alas, for young and wasted years,
For long nights only spent in tears;
For hopes, like lamps in some dim urn,
That but for the departed burn.
Alas for her whose drooping brow
Scarce struggles with its sorrow now.
At first Nadira wept to see
That hopelessness of misery.
But, oh, she was too glad, too young,
To dream of an eternal grief;
A thousand thoughts within her sprung,
Of solace, promise, and relief.
Slowly Zilara raised her head,
Then, moved by some strong feeling, said,
'A boon, kind Princess, there is one
Which won by me, were heaven won;
Not wealth, not freedom—wealth to me
Is worthless, as all wealth must be;
When there are none its gifts to share:
For whom have I on earth to care?
None from whose head its golden shrine
May ward the ills that fell on mine.
And freedom—'tis a worthless boon
To one who will be free so soon;
And yet I have one prayer, so dear,
I dare not hope—I only fear.'
'Speak, trembler, be your wish confest,
And trust Nadira with the rest.'
'Lady, look forth on yonder tower,
There spend I morn and midnight's hour,
Beneath that lonely peepul tree—
Well may its branches wave o'er me,
For their dark wreaths are ever shed,
The mournful tribute to the dead—
There sit I, in fond wish to cheer
A captive's sad and lonely ear,
And strive his drooping hopes to raise,
With songs that breathe of happier days.
Lady, methinks I scarce need tell
The name that I have loved so well;
'Tis Moohreeb, captured by the sword
Of him, thy own unconquered lord.
Lady, one word—one look from thee,
And Murad sets that captive free.'
'And you will follow at his side?'
'Ah, no, he hath another bride;
And if I pity, can'st thou bear
To think upon her lone despair?
No, break the mountain-chieftain's chain,
Give him to hope, home, love again.'
Her cheek with former beauty blushed,
The crimson to her forehead rushed,
Her eyes rekindled, till their light
Flashed from the lash's summer night.
So eager was her prayer, so strong
The love that bore her soul along.
Ah! many loves for many hearts;
But if mortality has known
One which its native heaven imparts
To that fine soil where it has grown;
'Tis in that first and early feeling,
Passion's most spiritual revealing;
Half dream, all poetry—whose hope
Colours life's charmed horoscope
With hues so beautiful, so pure—
Whose nature is not to endure.
As well expect the tints to last,
The rainbow on the storm hath cast.
Of all young feelings, love first dies,
Soon the world piles its obsequies;
Yet there have been who still would keep
That early vision dear and deep,
The wretched they, but love requires
Tears, tears to keep alive his fires:
The happy will forget, but those
To whom despair denies repose,
From whom all future light is gone,
The sad, the slighted, still love on.
The ghurrees are chiming the morning hour,
The voice of the priest is heard from the tower,
The turrets of Delhi are white in the sun,
Alas! that another bright day has begun.
Children of earth, ah! how can ye bear
This constant awakening to toil and to care?
Out upon morning, its hours recall,
Earth to its trouble, man to his thrall;
Out upon morning, it chases the night,
With all the sweet dreams that on slumber alight;
Out upon morning, which wakes us to life,
With its toil, its repining, its sorrow and strife.
And yet there were many in Delhi that day,
Who watched the first light, and rejoiced in the ray;
They wait their young monarch, who comes from the field
With a wreath on his spear, and a dent on his shield.
There's a throng in the east, 'tis the king and his train:
And first prance the horsemen, who scarce can restrain
Their steeds that are wild as the wind, and as bold
As the riders who curb them with bridles of gold:
The elephants follow, and o'er each proud head
The chattah that glitters with gems is outspread,
Whence the silver bells fall with their musical sound,
While the howdah's red trappings float bright on the ground:
Behind stalk the camels, which, weary and worn,
Seem to stretch their long necks, and repine at the morn:
And wild on the air the fierce war-echoes come,
The voice of the atabal, trumpet, and drum:
Half lost in the shout that ascends from the crowd,
Who delight in the young, and the brave, and the proud.
Tis folly to talk of the right and the wrong,
The triumph will carry the many along.
A dearer welcome far remains,
Than that of Delhi's crowded plains?
Soon Murad seeks the shadowy hall,
Cool with the fountain's languid fall;
His own, his best beloved to meet.
Why kneels Nadira at his feet?
With flushing cheek, and eager air,
One word hath won her easy prayer;
It is such happiness to grant,
The slightest fancy that can haunt
The loved one's wish, earth hath no gem,
And heaven no hope, too dear for them.
That night beheld a vessel glide,
Over the Jumna's onward tide;
One watched that vessel from the shore,
Too conscious of the freight it bore,
And wretched in her granted vow,
Sees Moohreeb leaning by the prow,
And knows that soon the winding river
Will hide him from her view for ever.
Next morn they found that youthful slave
Still kneeling by the sacred wave;
Her head was leaning on the stone
Of an old ruined tomb beside,
A fitting pillow cold and lone,
The dead had to the dead supplied:
The heart's last string hath snapt in twain,
Oh, earth, receive thine own again:
The weary one at length has rest
Within thy chill but quiet breast.
Long did the young Nadira keep
The memory of that maiden's lute;
And call to mind her songs, and weep,
Long after those charmed chords were mute.
A small white tomb was raised, to show
That human sorrow slept below;
And solemn verse and sacred line
Were graved on that funereal shrine.
And by its side the cypress tree
Stood, like unchanging memory.
And even to this hour are thrown
Green wreaths on that remembered stone;
And songs remain, whose tunes are fraught
With music which herself first taught.
And, it is said, one lonely star
Still brings a murmur sweet and far
Upon the silent midnight air,
As if Zilara wandered there.
Oh! if her poet soul be blent
With its aerial element,
May its lone course be where the rill
Goes singing at its own glad will;
Where early flowers unclose and die;
Where shells beside the ocean lie,
Fill'd with strange tones; or where the breeze
Sheds odours o'er the moonlit seas:
There let her gentle spirit rove,
Embalmed by poetry and love.
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt. Canto III.
Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child!
Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart?
When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smiled,
And then we parted,--not as now we part,
But with a hope.--
Awaking with a start,
The waters heave around me; and on high
The winds lift up their voices: I depart,
Whither I know not; but the hour's gone by,
When Albion's lessening shores could grieve or glad mine eye.
Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome, to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead!
Though the strain'd mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale,
Still must I on; for I am as a weed,
Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail
Where'er the surge may sweep, or tempest's breath prevail.
In my youth's summer I did sing of One,
The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind;
Again I seize the theme then but begun,
And bear it with me, as the rushing wind
Bears the cloud onwards: in that Tale I find
The furrows of long thought, and dried-up tears,
Which, ebbing, leave a sterile track behind,
O'er which all heavily the journeying years
Plod the last sands of life,--where not a flower appears.
Since my young days of passion--joy, or pain,
Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string,
And both may jar: it may be, that in vain
I would essay as I have sung to sing.
Yet, though a dreary strain, to this I cling;
So that it wean me from the weary dream
Of selfish grief or gladness--so it fling
Forgetfulness around me--it shall seem
To me, though to none else, a not ungrateful theme.
He, who grown aged in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life,
So that no wonder waits him; nor below
Can love, or sorrow, fame, ambition, strife,
Cut to his heart again with the keen knife
Of silent, sharp endurance: he can tell
Why thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet rife
With airy images, and shapes which dwell
Still unimpair'd, though old, in the soul's haunted cell.
'Tis to create, and in creating life
A being more intense, that we endow
With form our fancy, gaining as we give
The life we image, even as I do now.
What am I? Nothing; but not so art thou,
Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
Invisible but gazing, as I grow
Mix'd with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
And feeling still with thee in my crush'd feeling's dearth.
Yet must I think less wildly:--I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
In its own eddy boiling and o'erwrought,
A whirling gulf of phantasy and flame:
And thus, untaught in youth my heart to tame,
My springs of life were poison'd. 'Tis too late!
Yet am I chang'd; though still enough the same
In strength to bear what time can not abate,
And feed on bitter fruits without accusing Fate.
Something too much of this:--but now 'tis past,
And the spell closes with its silent seal.
Long absent HAROLD re-appears at last;
He of the breast which fain no more would feel,
Wrung with the wounds which kill not, but ne'er heal;
Yet Time, who changes all, had altered him
In sould and aspect as in age: years steal
Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;
And life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.
His had been quaff'd too quickly, and he found
The dregs were wormwood; but he fill'd again,
And from a purer fount, on holier ground,
And deem'd its spring perpetual; but in vain!
Still round him clung invisibly a chain
Which gall'd for ever, fettering though unseen,
And heavy though it clank'd not; worn with pain,
Which pined although it spoke not, and grew keen,
Entering with every step, he took, through many a scene.
Secure in guarded coldness, he had mix'd
Again in fancied safety with his kind,
And deem'd his spirit now so firmly fix'd
And sheath'd with an invulnerable mind,
That, if no joy, no sorrow lurk'd behind;
And he, as one, might midst the many stand
Unheeded, searching through the crowd to find
Fit speculation! such as in strange land
He found in wonder-works of God and Nature's hand.
But who can view the ripened rose, nor seek
To wear it? who can curiously behold
The smoothness and the sheen of beauty's cheek,
Nor feel the heart can never all grow old?
Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o'er her steep, nor climb?
Harold, once more within the vortex, roll'd
On with the giddy circle, chasing Time,
Yet with a nobler aim than in his youth's fond prime.
But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with man; with whom he held
Little in common; untaught to submit
His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell'd
In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompell'd,
He would not yield dominion of his mind
To spirits against whom his own rebell'd;
Proud though in desolation; which could find
A life within itself, to breathe without mankind.
Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;
Where roll'd the ocean, theron was his home;
Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends,
He had the passion and the power to roam;
The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam,
Were unto him companionship; they spake
A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
For Nature's pages glass'd by sunbeams on the lake.
Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,
Till he had peopled them with beings bright
As their own beams; and earth, and earth-born jars,
And human frailties, were forgotten quite:
Could he have kept his spirit to that flight
He had been happy; but this clay will sink
Its spark immortal, envying it the light
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us to its brink.
But in Man's dwellings he became a thing
Restless and worn, and stern and wearisome,
Droop'd as a wild-born falcon with clipt wing,
To whom the boundless air alone were home:
Then came his fit again, which to o'ercome,
As eagerly the barr'd-up bird will beat
His breast and beak against his wiry dome
Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat
Of his impeded soul would through his bosom eat.
Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again,
With nought of hope left, but with less of gloom;
The very knowledge that he lived in vain,
That all was over on this side the tomb,
Had made Despair a smilingness assume,
Which, though 'twer wild,--as on the plundered wreck
When mariners would madly meet their doom
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,--
Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forbore to check.
Stop!--for thy tread is on an Empire's dust!
An earthquake's spoil is sepulchred below!
Is the spot mark'd with no colossal bust?
Nor column trophied for triumphal show?
None; but the moral's truth tells simpler so,
As the ground was before, thus let it be;--
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gained by thee
Thou first and last of fields! king-making Victory?
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo!
How in an hour the power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!
In 'pride of place' here last the eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through;
Ambition's life and labours all were vain;
He wears the shattered links of the world's broken chain.
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
And foam in fetters;--but is Earth more free?
Did nations combat to make One submit;
Or league to teach all kings true sovereignty?
What! shall reviving Thraldom again be
The patched-up idol of enlightened days?
Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we
Pay the Wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze
And servile knees to thrones? No; prove before ye praise!
If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more!
In vain fair cheeks were furrowed with hot tears
For Europe's flowers long rooted up before
The trampler of her vineyards; in vain years
Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears,
Have all been borne, and broken by the accord
Of roused-up millions: all tha tmost endears
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword
Such as Harmodius drew on Athen's tyrant lord.
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it?--No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony stret;
On with the dance! let joy e unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet--
But, hark!--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! Arm! and out--it is--the cannon's opening roar!
Within a windowed niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deem'd it near,
His heart more turly knew hat peal too well
Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell:
He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the priase of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon nights so sweet such awful morn could rise?
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward in impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips--'The foe! They come! they come!'
And wild and high the 'Cameron's gathering' rose!
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:--
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears!
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,--alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,--the day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,--friend, foe,--in one red burial blent!
Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong,
And partly that bright names will hallow song;
And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd
The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along,
Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd,
They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing,
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring.
I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment sooth, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honoured but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn:
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruined wall
Stands when its wind-worn batlements are gone;
The bars survive the captive they enthral;
The day drags through though storms keep out the sun;
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
Even as a broken mirrow, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Shewing no visible sign, for such things are untold.
There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison,--a quick root
Which feeds these deadly brances; for it were
As nothing did we die; but Life will suit
Itself to Sorrow's most detested fruit,
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore,
All ashes to the taste: Did man compute
Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er
Such hours 'gainst years of life,--says, would he name three-score?
The Psalmist numbered out the years of man:
They are enough; and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span,
More than enough, thoufatal Waterloo!
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say--
'Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!'
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit antithetically mixt
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt,
Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st
Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And shake the world, the Thunderer of the scene!
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou!
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who wooed thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deem'd thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.
Oh, more or less than man--in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skill'd,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,
Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.
Yet well thy sould hath brook'd the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;--
When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child,
He stood unbowed beneath the ills upon him piled.
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steel'd thee on too far to show
That just habitual scorn which could contemn
Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turn'd unto thine overthrow:
'Tis but a worthless world to win or lose;
So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.
If, like a tower upon a headlong rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had help'd to brave the shock;
But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy throne,
Their admiratio nthy best weapon sone;
The part of Philip's son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy purple had been thrown)
Like stern Diogenes to mock at men;
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den.
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
And there had been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the sould which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.
This makes the madmen who have made men mad
By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings,
Founders of sects and systems, to whom add
Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things
Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs,
And are themselves the fools to whose they fool;
Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings
Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school
Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule:
Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nurs'd and bigotted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickering, or a sword laid by
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.
He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.
Away with these! true Wisdom's world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal Nature! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,
Fruit, foilage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine,
And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells
From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.
And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind,
Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd,
All tenantless, save to the crannying wind,
Or holding dark communion with the cloud.
There was a day when they were young and proud,
Banners on high, and battles pass'd below;
But they who fought are in a bloody shroud,
And those which waved are shredless dust ere now,
And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.
Beneath these battlements, within those walls,
Power dwelt amidst her passions; in proud state
Each robber chief upheld his armed halls,
Doing his evil will, nor less elate
Than mightier heroes of a longer date.
What want these outlaws conquerors should have
But History's purchased page to call them great?
A wider space, an ornamented grave?
Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.
In their baronial feuds and single fields,
What deed of prowess unrecorded died!
And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields,
With emblems well devised by amorous pride,
Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide;
But still their flame was fierceness, and drew on
Keen contest and destruction near allied,
And many a tower for some fair mischief won,
Saw the discoloured Rhine beneath its ruin run.
But Thou, exulting and abounding river!
Making thy waves a blessing as they flow
Through banks whose beauty would endure for ever
Could man but leave thy bright creation so,
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow
With the sharp scythe of conflict,--then to see
Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know
Earth paved like Heaven; and to seem such to me
Even now what wants thy stream?--that it should Lethe be.
A thousand battles have assail'd thy banks,
But these and half their fame have pass'd away,
And Slaughter heap'd on high his weltering ranks;
Their very graves are gone, band what are they?
Thy tide wash'd down the blood of yesterday,
And all was stainless, and on thy clear stream
Glass'd with its dancing light the sunny ray;
But o'er the blackened memory's blighting dream
Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they seem.
Thus Harold inly said, and pass'd along,
Yet not insensibly to all which here
Awoke the jocund birds to early song
In glens which might have made even exile dear:
Though on his brow were graven lines austere,
And tranquil sternnes which had ta'en the place
Of feelings fierier far but less severe,
Joy was not always absent from his face,
But o'er it in such scenes would steal with transient trace.
Nor was all love shut from him, though his days
Of passion had consumed themselves to dust.
It is in vain that we would coldly gaze
On such as smile upon us; the heart must
Leak kindly back to kindness, though disgust
Hath wean'd it from all worldlings: thus he felt,
For there was soft remembrance, and sweet trust
In one fond breast, to which his own would melt,
And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt.
And he had learn'd to love,--I know not why,
For this in such as him seems strange of mood,--
The helpless looks of blooming infancy,
Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued,
To change like this, a mind so far imbued
With scorn of man, it little boots to know;
But thus it was; and though in solitude
Small power the nipp'd affections have to grow,
In him this glowed when all beside had ceased to glow.
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
Which unto his was bound by stronger ties
Than the church links withal; and, though unwed,
That love was pure, and, far above disguise,
Had stood the test of mortal enmities
Still undivided, and cemented more
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
But this was firm, and from a foreign shore
Well to that heart might his these absent greetings pour!
The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy were thou with me!
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
And hand which offer early flowers,
Walk smiling o'er this paradise
Above, the frequent feudal towers
Through green leaves lift their walls of grey,
And many a rock which steeply lours,
And noble arch in proud decay,
Look o'er this vale of vintage-bowers;
But one thing want these banks of Rhine,--
Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!
I send the lilies given to me;
Though long before thy hand they touch,
I know that they must withered be,
But yet reject them not as such;
For I have cherish'd them as dear,
Because they yet may meet thine eye,
And guide thy sould to mine even here,
When thou behold'st them drooping night,
And knowst them gathered by the Rhine,
And offered from my heart to thine!
The river nobly foams and flows,
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round;
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here;
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To nature and to me so dear,
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!
By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground,
There is a small and simply pyramid,
Crowning the summit of the verdant mound;
Beneath its base are heroes' ashes hid,
Our enemy's,--but let not that forbid
Honour to Marceau! o'er whose early tomb
Tears, big tears, gush'd from the rough soldier's lid,
Lamenting and yet envying such a doom,
Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.
Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career,--
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes;
And fitly may the stranger lingering here
Pray for his gallant spirit's bright repose;
For he was Freedom's champion, one of those,
The few in number, who had not o'erstept
The charter to chastise which she bestows
On such as wield her weapons; he had kept
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept.
Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shattered wall
Black with the miner's blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light;
A tower of victory! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watch'd along the plain:
But Peace destroy'd what War could never blight,
And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rain--
On which the iron shower for years had pour'd in vain.
Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long delighted
The stranger fain would linger on his way!
Thine is a scene alike where souls united
Or lonely Contemplation thus might stray;
And could the ceaseless vultures cease to prey
On self-condemning bosoms, it were here,
Where Nature, nor too sombre nor too gay,
Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
Is to the mellow Earth as Autumn to the year.
Adieu to thee again! a vain adieu!
There can be found no farewell to scene like thine;
The mind is coloured by thy every hue;
And if reluctantly the eyes resign
Their cherish'd gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine!
'Tis with the thankful glance of parting praise;
More mighty spots may rise--more glaring shine,
But none unite in one attaching maze
The brilliant, fair, and soft,--the glories of old days,
The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom
Of coming ripeness, the white city's sheen,
The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom,
The forest's growth, and Gothic's walls between,
The wild rocks shaped as they had turrets been
In mockery of man's art; and these withal
A race of faces happy as the scene,
Whose fertile bounties extend to all,
Still sprining o'er thy banks, though Empires near them fall.
But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned Eternity in icy halls
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
The avalanche--the thunderbolt of snow!
All which expands the spirit, yet appals,
Gather around these summits, as to show
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below.
But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
There is a spot should not be pass'd in vain,--
Morat! the proud, the patriot field! where man
May gaze on ghastly trophies of the slain,
Nor blush for those who conquered on that plain;
Here Burgundy bequeath'd his tombless host,
A bony heap, through ages to remain,
Themselves their monument;--the Stygian coast
Unsepulchred they roam'd, and shriek'd each wandering ghost.
While Waterloo with Cannae's carnage vies,
Morat and Marathon twin names shall stand;
They were true Glory's stainless victories,
Won by the unambitious heart and hand
Of a proud, brotherly, and civic band,
All unbought champions in no princely cause
Of vice-entail'd Corruption; they no land
Doom'd to bewail the blasphemy of laws
Making kings' rights divine, by some Draconic clause.
By a lone wall a lonelier column rears
A gray and grief-worn aspect of old days,
'Tis the last remnant of the wreck of years,
And looks as with the wild-bewildered gaze
Of one to stone converted by amaze,
Yet still with consciousness; and there it stands
Making a marvel that it not decays,
When the coeval pride of human hands,
Levell'd Aventicum, hath strewed her subject lands.
And there--oh! sweet and sacred be the name!--
Julia--the daughter, the devoted--gave
Her youth to Heaven; her heart, beneath a claim
Nearest to Heaven's, broke o'er a father's grave.
Justice is sworn 'gainst tears, and hers would crave
The life she lived in; but the judge was just,
And then she died on him she could not save.
Their tomb was simple, and without a bust,
And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust.
But these are deeds which should not ass away,
And names that must not wither, though the earth
Forgets her empires with a just decay,
The enslavers and the enslaved, their death and birth;
The high, the mountain-majesty of worth
Should be, and shall, survivor of its woe,
And from its immortality look forth
In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow;
Imperishably pure beyond all things below.
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue:
There is too much of man here, to look through
With a fit mindt he might which I behold;
But soon in me shall Loneliness renew
Thoughts hid, but not less cherish'd than of old,
Ere mingling with the herd had penn'd me in their fold.
To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind;
All are not fit with them to stire and toil,
Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
Deep in its fountain, lest it overvoil
In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
Of our infection, till too late and long
We may deplore and struggle with the coil,
In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
'Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong.
There, in a moment, we may plunge our years
In fatal penitence, and in the blight
Of our own soul, turn all our blood to tears,
And colour things to come with hues of Night;
The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
To those that walk in darkness: on the sea,
The boldest steer but where their ports invite,
But there are wanderers o'er Eternity
Whose bark drives on and one, and anchored ne'er shall be.
Is it not better, then, to be alone,
And love Earth only for its earthly sake?
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,
Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake;--
Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doom'd to inflict or bear?
I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture: I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Class'd among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.
And thus I am absorb'd, and this is life:
I look upon the peopled desart past,
As on a place of agony and strife,
Where, for some sin, to Sorrow I was cast,
To act and suffer, but remount at last
With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring,
Though young, yet waxing vigorous, as the blast
Which it would cope with, on delighted wing,
Spurning the clay-cold bonds with round our being cling.
And when, at length, the mind shall all be free
From what it hates in this degraded form,
Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be
Existent happier in the fly and worm,--
When elements to elements conform,
And dust is as it should be, shall I note
Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm?
The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?
Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?
Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part
Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
Is not the love of these deep in my heart
With a pure passion? should I not contemn
All objects, if compared with these? and stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose eyes are only turn'd below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?
But this is not my theme; and I return
To that which is immediate, and require
Those who find contemplation in the urn,
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while--a passing guest,
Where he became a being,--whose desire
Was to be glorious; 'twas a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrificied all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew
How to make madness beautiful, and cast
O'er erring deeds and thoughts, a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
His love was passion's essence--as a tree
On fire by lightning; with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted; for to be
Thus, and enamoured, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o'erflowering teems
Along his burning page, distempered though it seems
This breathed itself to life in Júlie, this
Invested her with all that's wild and sweet;
This hallowed, too, the memorable kiss
Which every morn his fevered lip would greet,
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
Flash'd the thrill'd spirit's love-devouring heat;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest,
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
Or friends by him self-banish'd; for his mind
Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, and chose
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
But he was phrenzied,--wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find;
But he was phrenzied by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.
For then he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of your,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more:
Did he not this for France? which lay before
Bowed to the inborn tyranny of years?
Broken and trembling, to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up too much wrath which follows o'ergrown fears?
They made themselves a fearful monument!
The wreck of old opinions--things which grew
Breathed from the birth of time: the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour re-fill'd,
As heretofore, because ambitio was self-will'd.
But this will not endure, nor be endured!
Mankind have felt their strength, and made it felt.
They might have used it better, but, allured
By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt
On one another; pity ceased to melt
With her once natural charities. But they,
Who in oppression's darkness caved had dwelt,
They were not eagles, nourish'd with the day;
What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey?
What deep wounds ever closed without a scar?
The heart's bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquish'd, bear
Silence, but not submission: in his lair
Fix'd Passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years; none need despair:
It came, it cometh, and will come,--the power
To punish or forgive--in one we shall be slower.
Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved
Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear,
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen,
Save darken'd Jura, whose capt heights appear
Precipitously steep; and drawing near,
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopped one good-night carol more;
He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill;
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes,
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy, for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into Nature's breast the spirit of her hues.
Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires,--'tis to be forgiven,
That in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star.
All heaven and earth are still--though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:--
All heaven and earth are still: From the high host
Of stars, to the lull'd lake and mountain-coast,
All is concentered in a life intense,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
But hath a part of beings, and a sense
Of that which is of all Creator and defence.
Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone;
A truth, which through our being then doth melt
And purifies from self: it is a tone,
The soul and source of music, which makes known
Eternal harmony, and sheds a charm,
Like to the fabled Cytherea's zone,
Binding all things with beauty;--'twould disarm
The spectre Death, had he substantial power to harm.
Not vainly did the early Persian make
His altar the high places and the peak
Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, and thus take
A fit and unwall'd temple, there to seek
The Spirit, in whose honour shrines are weak,
Uprear'd of human hands. Come, and compare
Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek,
With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air,
Nor fix on fond abodes to circumscribe thy prayer!
The sky is changed!--and such a change! Oh night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!
And this is in the night:--Most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,--
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 'tis black,--and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth.
Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between
Heights which appear as lovers who have parted
In hate, whose mining depths so intervene,
That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted;
Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,
Love was the very root of the fond rage
Which blighted their life's bloom, and then departed:--
Itself expired, but leaving them an age
Of years all winters,--war within themselves to wage.
Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,
The mightiest of the storms hath ta'en his stand:
For here, not one, but many, make their play,
And fling their thunder-bolts from hand to hand,
Flashinig and cast around: of all the band,
The brightest throught these parted hills hath fork'd
His lightnings,--as if he did understand,
That in such gaps as desolation work'd,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurk'd.
Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye!
With night, and clouds, and thunder, and a soul
To make these felt and feeling, well may be
Things that have made me watchful; the far rool
Of your departing voices, is the knoll
Of what in me is sleepless,--if I rest.
But where of ye, oh tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those within the human breast?
Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?
Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,--could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak,
All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
Bear, know, feel, and yet breath--into one word,
And that one word were Lightning, I would speak;
But as it is, I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
The morn is up again, the dewy morn,
With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom,
Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
And living as if earth contain'd no tomb,--
And glowing into day: we may resume
The march of our existence: and thus I,
Still on thy shores, fair Leman! may find room
And food for meditation, nor pass by
Much, that may give us pause, if pondered fittingly.
Clarens! sweet Clarens, birth-place of deep Love!
Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought;
Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above
The very Glaciers have his colours caught,
And sun-set into rose-hues sees them wrought
By rays which sleep there lovingly: the rocks,
The permanent crags, tell here of Love, who sought
In them a refuge from the worldly shocks,
Which stir and sting the soul with hope that woos, then mocks.
Clarens! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,--
Undying Love's who here ascends a throne
To which the steps are mountains; where the god
Is a pervading life and light,--so shown
Not on those summits solely, nor alone
In the still cave and forest: o'er the flower
His eye is sparkling, and his breath hath blown,
His soft and summer breath, whose tender power
Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.
All things are here of him; from the black pines,
Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar
Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines
Which slope his green path downward to the shore,
Where the bowed waters meet him, and adore,
Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood,
The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar,
But light leaves, young as joy, stands were it stood,
Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude,
A populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy form'd and many coloured things,
Who worship him with notes more sweet than words,
And innocently open their glad wings,
Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs,
And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend
Of stirring brances, and the bud which brings
The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend,
Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.
He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,
And make his heart a spirit; he who knows
That tender mystery, will love the more,
For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes,
And the world's waste, have driven him far from those,
For 'tis his nature to advance or die;
He stands not still, but or decays, or grows
Into a boundless blessing, which may vie
With the immortal lights, in its eternity!
'Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot,
Peopling it with affections; but he found
It was the scene which passio nmust allot
To the mind's purifed beings; 'twas the ground
Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound,
And hallowed it with loveliness: 'tis ne,
And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound,
And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone
Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have rear'd a throne.
Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
Of names which unto you bequeath'd a name;
Mortals, who sought and found, by dangerous roads,
A path to perpetuity of fame:
They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim,
Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile
Thoughts which should call down thunder, and the flame
Of Heaven, again assail'd, if Heaven the while
On man and man's research could deign to more than smile.
The one was fire and fickleness, a child,
Most mutable in wishes, but in mind,
A wit as various,--gay, grave, sage, or wild,--
Historian, board, philosopher, combined;
He multiplied himself among mankind,
The Proteus of their talents: But his own
Breathed most in ridicult,--which, as the wind,
Blew where it listed, laying all things prine,--
Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne.
The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought,
And hiving wisdom with each studious year,
In meditation dwelt, with learning wrought,
And shaped his weapon with an edge severe,
Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer;
The lord of irony,--that master-spell,
Which stung his foes to wrath, which grew from fear,
And doom'd him to the zealot's ready Hell,
Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.
Yet, peace be with their ashes,--for by them,
If merited, the penalty is paid;
It is not ours to judge,--far less condemn;
The hour must come when such things shall be made
Known unto all,--or hope and dread allay'd
By slumber, on one pillow,--in the dust,
Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decay'd;
And when it shall revive, as is our trust,
'Twill be to be forgiven, or suffer what is just.
But let me quit man's works, again to read
His Maker's, spread around me, and suspend
This page, which from my reveries I feed,
Until it seems prolonging without end.
The clouds above me to the white Alps tend,
And I must pierce them, and survey whate'er
May be permitted, as my steps I bend
To their most great and growing region, where
The earth to her embrace compels the powers of air.
Italia! too, Italia! looking on thee,
Full flashes on the soul the light of ages,
Since the fierce Carthaginian almost won thee,
TO the last halo of the chiefs and sages,
Who glorify thy consecrated pages;
Thou wert the throne and grave of empires; still,
The fount at which the panting mind assuages
Her thirst for knowledge, quaffing there her fill,
Flowers from the eternal source of Rome's imperial hill.
Thus far I have proceeded in a theme
Renewed with no kind auspices:--to feel
We are not what we have been, and to deem
We are not what we should be,--and to steel
The heart against itself; and to conceal,
With a proud caution, love, or hate, or aught,--
Passion or feeling, purpose, grief or zeal,--
Which is the tyrant spirit of our thought,
Is a stern task of soul:--No matter,--it is taught.
And for these words, thus woven into song,
It may be that they are a harmless wile,--
The colouring of the scenes which fleet along,
Which I would seize, in passing, to beguile
My breast, or that of others, for a while.
Fame is the thirst of youth,--but I am not
So young as to regard men's frown or smile,
As loss or guerdon of a glorious lot;
I stood and stand alone,--remembered or forgot.
I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee,--
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles,--nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.
I have not loved the world, nor the world me,--
But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
Though I have found them not, that there may be
Words which are things,--hopes which will not deceive,
And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
Snares for the failing: I would also deem
O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve;
That two, or one, are almost what the seem,--
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.
My daughter! with thy name this song begun--
My daughter! with thy name thus much shall end--
I see thee not,--I hear thee not,--but none
Can be so wrapt in thee; thou art the friend
To whom the shadows of far years extend:
Albeit my brow thou never should'st behold,
My voice shall with thy future visions blend,
And reach into thy heart,--when mine is cold,--
A token and a tone, even from thy father's mould.
To aid thy mind's development,--to watch
Thy dawn of litle joys,--to sit and see
Almost thy very growth,--to view thee catch
Knowledge of objects,--wonders yet to thee!
To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee,
And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss,--
Thsi, it should seem, was not reserv'd for me;
Yet this was in my nature:--as it is,
I know not what is there, yet something like to this.
Yet, though dull Hate as duty should be taught,
I know that thou wilt love me; though my name
Should be shut from thee, as a spell still fraught
With desolation,--and a broken claim:
Though the grave closed between us,--'twere the same,
I know that thou wilt love me; thought to drain
My blood from out thy being, were an aim,
And an attainment,--all would be in vain,--
Still thou would'st love me, still that more than life retain.
The child of love,--though born in bitterness,
And nurtured in convulsion,--of thy sire
These were the elements,--and thine no less.
As yet such are around thee,--but thy fire
Shall be more tempered, and thy hope far higher.
Sweet be thy cradled slumbers! O'er the sea,
And from the mountains where I now respire,
Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee,
As, with a sigh, I deem thou might'st have been to me!
The Golden Age
Long ere the Muse the strenuous chords had swept,
And the first lay as yet in silence slept,
A Time there was which since has stirred the lyre
To notes of wail and accents warm with fire;
Moved the soft Mantuan to his silvery strain,
And him who sobbed in pentametric pain;
To which the World, waxed desolate and old,
Fondly reverts, and calls the Age of Gold.
Then, without toil, by vale and mountain side,
Men found their few and simple wants supplied;
Plenty, like dew, dropped subtle from the air,
And Earth's fair gifts rose prodigal as prayer.
Love, with no charms except its own to lure,
Was swiftly answered by a love as pure.
No need for wealth; each glittering fruit and flower,
Each star, each streamlet, made the maiden's dower.
Far in the future lurked maternal throes,
And children blossomed painless as the rose.
No harrowing question `why,' no torturing `how,'
Bent the lithe frame or knit the youthful brow.
The growing mind had naught to seek or shun;
Like the plump fig it ripened in the sun.
From dawn to dark Man's life was steeped in joy,
And the gray sire was happy as the boy.
Nature with Man yet waged no troublous strife,
And Death was almost easier than Life.
Safe on its native mountains throve the oak,
Nor ever groaned 'neath greed's relentless stroke.
No fear of loss, no restlessness for more,
Drove the poor mariner from shore to shore.
No distant mines, by penury divined,
Made him the sport of fickle wave or wind.
Rich for secure, he checked each wish to roam,
And hugged the safe felicity of home.
Those days are long gone by; but who shall say
Why, like a dream, passed Saturn's Reign away?
Over its rise, its ruin, hangs a veil,
And naught remains except a Golden Tale.
Whether 'twas sin or hazard that dissolved
That happy scheme by kindly Gods evolved;
Whether Man fell by lucklessness or pride,-
Let jarring sects, and not the Muse, decide.
But when that cruel Fiat smote the earth,
Primeval Joy was poisoned at its birth.
In sorrow stole the infant from the womb,
The agëd crept in sorrow to the tomb.
The ground, so bounteous once, refused to bear
More than was wrung by sower, seed, and share.
Ofttimes would ruthless winds or torrents raze
The ripening fruit of toilsome nights and days.
Each one in turn grew jealous of his own,
And fenced his patch with ditch and churlish stone.
As greed uprose, and greed engendered strife,
Contention raged coincident with life.
Man against man, maid against maiden turned,
And the soft breast with envious passions burned.
The loss of one was hailed as others' gain,
And pleasure took unnatural birth from pain.
Goaded by woe, and through tradition's lore
Mindful of all the blissfulness of yore,
The Human Race, its sorrows to assuage,
Dreamed afar off a second Golden Age;
Not in the dim irrevocable Past,
But in a Future just as vague and vast.
The prophet's lips, the poet's flattering pen,
Revelled in forecasts of that golden Then.
The days should come when grief would be no more,
And Peace and Plenty rule from shore to shore;
All men alike enjoy what none did earn,
And even more than Saturn's Reign return.
As years rolled on, as centuries went by,
And still that Promised Time seemed no more nigh,
Mankind at length, outwearied with delays,
Gave up all hope of those seductive days.
Then other prophets, other scribes arose,
A nearer, surer Eden to disclose.
`O, long-befooled!' they said, `awake, and deem
The Past a tale, the Future but a dream.
Here, in the living Present, act your part,
Straining its vulgar blessings to your heart.
Let hand with hand and brain with brain contend,
And each one labour to some selfish end.
In wealth and riot, luxury and power,
Baffle the mockery of the transient hour.
If thousands fall, if tens of thousands bleed,
Will not a hundred, or a score, succeed?
Let those who cannot yield to those who can-
Fate has its piles of victims; why not Man?
Better a furious fight where some one wins,
Than sluggish life which ends as it begins.
Vain was the bard who, whilst the World was new,
'Twixt men and beasts the fond distinction drew,
That these confine their downward gaze to earth,
Whilst man looks up, enamoured of his birth.
Not in the skies, but deep beneath the soil,
There will you find your happiness and spoil.
Enough for brutes its simple face to know,
But godlike man must pierce and delve below.
Deep in its bowels seek the shining ore,
And at its touch shall Saturn reign once more.
For him whose thews are sound, whose vision clear,
Whose purpose firm, the Golden Age is here.'
Never from cave or tripod, mount or glade,
Issued a voice so welcomed, so obeyed.
From zone to zone the Golden Gospel flew,
And in its train mankind obedient drew.
See from their seats the ancient Gods dethroned,
Altars upset, and oracles disown'd.
The Muses, scared, conceal the smothered lyre;
No longer prized, the Graces swift retire;
Virtue, a butt for ribalds, seeks her shroud,
And even Venus veils herself in cloud.
Religion, Ethics, all men erst adored,
Hymned on the harp, or fought for with the sword,
All lofty scopes, all ends esteemed of old,
Dissolve like mist before the rage for gold.
The priest for gold makes traffic of his robe;
For gold the soldier desolates the globe;
The poet shapes for gold his venal lays;
Through gold Vice stalks caparisoned with praise.
Tempted by gold, the virgin sells her charms,
Though no Immortal slips into her arms.
Saddled with gold, the adventurer can buy
Titles, precedence, place, and dignity.
High, middle, low, the young, the ripe, the old,
Man, woman, child, live, die, are damned for Gold.
Soon as the youthful mind begins to ope,
It searches Life's significance and scope;
And, fed by generous impulse year by year,
Dreams for itself some glorious career.
Its shall it be, instructed by the Muse,
Truth to abet, and beauty to diffuse;
With full-blown sail, and genius at the helm,
To steer men's thoughts to a serener realm.
Perhaps the ingenuous boy would fain recall
Tintoret's canvas, Memmi's fresco'd wall;
With godlike pencil purify the mart,
And life ennoble with the breath of Art.
Maybe he burns, by Plato's failure fired,
To scale the heights which every wing have tired,
Seize first each part, then comprehend the whole,
And solve the eternal problem of the Soul.
Be these his aims, or, nobler still, to train
His kind to mutiny till Virtue reign,
Soon doth he learn to count his lovely schemes
A host of bubbles in a world of dreams.
Experience whispers early, Have a care!
Who with the Muse would live must live on air.
The tempting maid is but a poet's lie,
`Who gave to song what gold could never buy.'
Confront the world, take counsel with the throng;
Their verdict what? `The thing's not worth a song.'
Are you content you now have learnt your price?
Come, sink the Muse, and don't be quite so nice.
Start a new Company, and float the shares,
Then lunch with Ministers and dine with Mayors.
Pimp for a Party, praise a Premier's heart,
Head a subscription, and then shine-a Bart.
Return your income fifty thousand clear-
The devil's in it, or you'll die a peer.
Success so great is never done by halves-
'Tis only virtue, when 'tis greatest, starves.
Perhaps his breast, untutored yet to serve,
Spurns the base counsel with a proud reserve;
For Youth is stubborn, and when Nature draws,
In vain a parent's warning, wisdom's saws.
Let cravens straight their impotence confess,
And sell their birthright for a filthy mess;
In flowers see, bee-like, nought but stuff for hives,
And for foul lucre prostitute their lives;
They have not failed who never once have tried,
Or, if they failed, they failed for want of pride.
He, he at least his soul will ne'er demean,
But 'mong the foul will keep his honour clean.
O touching sight, to witness day by day
His splendid generous day-dreams fade away!
His sire reproaches, and his brothers scoff,
His mother doubts, his sisters e'en fall off.
The neighbours pity, strangers deem him mad;
Girls, smiling, whisper, What a foolish lad!
Meanwhile his compeers, started in the race,
Are swiftly marching on to power and place.
One makes a coup, and weds a wife of rank;
Another's junior partner in a bank.
A third in sugar with unscriptural hand,
Traffics, and builds a lasting house on sand.
A fourth, for beer and piety renowned,
Owns all the publics in the country round;
Its drink adulterates with face demure,
But burns with zeal to keep opinion pure;
Cares not one jot for bodies drunk or sick,
But scans your soul like a new Dominick.
The fifth, the patron of a new balloon,
Projects a Company to reach the moon;
Baits his prospectus with a batch of peers,
And vows nought pays like money in the Spheres.
Shares in the moon advanced-advancing still.
Then comes a crash-stock guaranteed at nil.
But sure, the man is ruined? Not at all;
He scarce can tumble who has sense to crawl.
Your modern Icarus is much too wise
On his own pinions to attempt the skies-
On others' soaring follies doth he rise.
Long ere the bubble burst his shares were sold;
Just at that moment he had need of gold.
Singed wings, you know, are but for simple folk;
He, with his peers, 'scapes safe from flame and smoke,
And buys a borough with the happy stroke.
Few are the souls who die for Cato's creed:
To fail seems base, when all around succeed.
Foiled in his purpose, both by foe and friend,
Through noble means to reach a noble end,
The baffled boy forswears his cherished dream,
And learns to swim, like others, with the stream.
Keen to recover precious moments lost,
And taught by bitter tasks what Virtue cost,
He midst the rush, whilst others rise and fall,
Swims on, the most unscrupulous of all.
Let others chouse with care, he cheats with pluck,
And millions stake their all upon his luck.
His daring overawes the small, the great,
And whilst he plunders they but peculate.
He lures the easy, makes the fat his spoil,
Pares the lean wage of proletarian toil;
Swindles the widow of her hoarded mite,
Drags the poor pensioner once more to fight;
Robs age of rest, and youth of prospects fair,
Plunges the sanguine bridegroom in despair;
Severs the ties made sacred long by home,
And sends the son from sire across the foam;
Dashes the faith of plighted swain and maid,
And helps alone the cynic sexton's spade:
Does all that well beseems a Fallen Star-
It needs a Lucifer to fall so far!
Sometimes will Fortune on the traitor scowl,
And e'en with gold not pay a deed so foul.
He who was born a glittering child of light,
Trenchant as Raphael, as Ithuriel bright,
Yet sells his soul a vulgar prize to reap,
And for brute guerdons holds his honour cheap,
Too often finds that he who, grovelling, flies
From unrewarded reverie in the skies,
And seeks in venal efforts to employ
The gifts God formed for beauty and for joy,
Makes but a barren barter of his birth,
And Heaven foregoes, without securing earth.
See how he sinks! The more he strains to clutch
Terrestrial spoil, unworthy of his touch,
It seems, for him, to take elusive shapes,
And like a shadow from his grasp escapes.
As baser wax his aims, more mean his scope,
More and still more he sprawls-the sport of Hope.
Still as he tries to suffocate his soul,
Farther beyond him seems the carnal goal.
In vain he turns to catch the favouring gale;
Becalmed he lies-he labours but to fail.
Poor and despised, he now would fain retrace
His erring steps to his first dwelling-place,
But finds, alas! baseness hath borne its fruit;
Wings long unused have withered at the root.
He who in vain has crawled in vain would fly,
And rots abandoned both by earth and sky.
Meaner his end than that poor tradesman's doom,
Who, asked what words of honour on his tomb
His friends should place, with cynic touch replied,
`Here lies who, born a man, a grocer died!'
Whom doth this foe of human virtue spare?
Look round! More sweet its victims, the more fair.
Its natural slaves, who, spawned from wealth, are born
To Traffic's tricks they lack the soul to scorn,
Whose lust for lucre is their proper lot,
It just as oft impoverishes as not.
'Tis those in whom the Unseen God inspires
The restless leaven of divine desires;
Who, from the moment that they lisp, betray
An alien spirit housed within their clay;
Whose fretful youth life's narrow limits chafe,
And yearns for worlds more spacious, if less safe;
Striving to reach, despite its fleshly thrall,
That larger Something which surrounds us all;-
These, these the souls-and not that baser band-
To whom Gold loves to stretch a helping hand;
With early smiles their generous aims to bless,
And lead them, blind, to ruinous success.
When Lelius chanted first his fragrant lays,
Men praised, and he was amply paid with praise.
Not salons' sycophant, nor Fashion's bard,
No glittering heaps did his sweet notes reward.
He was content with audience fit, though few,
When to his side the cunning demon drew.
`Your pen's worth gold; you need but blunt its point;
Come, cut the Muse; the times are out of joint.
Fame's well enough, but comfort has its laws;
You'll make a damned poor supper off applause.
Sing, be select, and starve. Prose is the thing-
The thing that pays. The Million now is King.
Write gossip, scandal, slander-what you will;
A well-filled purse awaits a ready quill.'
The curst insidious demon has his way,
And Grub-street swallows Lelius for aye.
Turn from the pen, and for a while survey
The wide domains which brush and canvas sway.
Enter those realms, and what do we behold?
Art, heavenly Art, the slave and pimp of gold!
Time was when its poor votaries were too proud
To sate the itch of a vain-glorious crowd,
Serve the mean aims of narrow personal pelf,
And swell the ignoble retinue of Self.
Only the State, which merges private ends,
Or sacred Church, which lifts them and extends,
Might then presume the artist's craft to claim,
And paid him, happy, with immortal Fame.
Here, Friendship's guest, where fairest Florence lies,
A dream in stone, stretched out before mine eyes,
I think of all the treasures there enshrined,
And what small dole nurtured each master mind;
Or led by memory o'er the classic chain
Which Umbrian slope divides from Tuscan plain,
I all the priceless unbought gems recall
That link with heaven Assisi's frescoed wall;
Then, borne on wings of weakness, I repair
To mine own land, and groan to think that there,
Debased by Fashion to a venal trade,
Art counts its triumphs by its fortunes made;
Spurned by the State, and by the Church unsought,
Works but for wealth, and by the base is bought;
Stranger to altars, palaces, or domes,
Pampers the pomp of ostentatious homes.
How changed the days since Duccio's hand of old
On Saints and Virgins lavished costly gold;
But for himself asked but a few poor crowns,
Less than we give to harlequins and clowns.
Now do our mercenary tricksters grudge
Almost the very canvas that they smudge;
Yet scan with greedy eyes the glittering heap
That opulent folly holds, for once, so cheap.
See, too, how Genius, when its touch was true,
On humble walls its lasting fancies drew;
Whose modern apes, ridiculously bold,
Hang their ephemeral daubs in frames of gold.
In vain doth Heaven, while Gold thus rules the earth,
With generous instincts sow the soul at birth.
Swift in the genial soil the seed takes root,
Then seeks the sun with many a venturous shoot.
But, ah, how soon the cruel outer air
Checks the brave growth and nips its promise fair!
Warmed by the glow of Tasso's splendid lay,
Or borne by Dante to the gates of Day;
Softly seduced by Scott's romantic strain
To deem all ends, excepting honour, vain;
Or nobly trained by Shelley's burning song
To cherish an eternal feud with wrong,-
The simple girl constructs a future fair,
Rears a whole world of castles in the air,
And nowhere warned, or deaf to warning, deems
That life will clothe and justify her dreams.
As year by year the maiden grows apace,
And half the woman mantles in her face,
With sickening sense, sad eye, and sinking heart,
She sees her forecasts one by one depart.
Slowly, but, ah, too surely doth she find
That poets' tales no longer rule mankind;
That Peace is homeless as the hunted hare,
And Love far less a shelter than a snare;
That godlike Valour meets a demon's doom,
Whilst Prudence prospers even from the tomb;
That Youth, save schooled in Mammon's miry ways,
Groans o'er the lapse of unrequited days;
That Beauty, Genius, all are vain and cold,
Till foully touched and fertilised by Gold.
Soon as the time so dear to mother's vows
Draws nigh, to find the maid some fitting spouse,
Then most of all she learns what leading part
Is played by Gold in dramas of the heart.
Chance to young Hylas, beautiful as Dawn,
And sweet as fair, she feels her fancy drawn.
Are you a nymph? one whispers. Let him pass.
He doth but gather daisies in the grass.
Where your cool wave, hidden from human eyes,
In which to lure and love him till he dies?
Bid him rejoin his Hercules, and seize
The golden apples of the Hesperides;
And then perchance, should none more rich than he
Engage your love, you may his Hera be.
Alas, poor Hylas! worse than Mysian fate
Doth his meandering flowery feet await.
If that a Solon, versed in every art
Of song and science, touch the maiden's heart,
The neighbours softly whisper, Have a care;
Can Erudition keep a chaise and pair?
Pundits, alas, like fools, must pay their bills,
And Knowledge figures sorrily in wills.
For single life learning is well enough,
But marriage should be made of sterner stuff.
Should Cato's fame her pious soul attract,
The whole world cries, The woman must be cracked.
What! wed with Virtue! Is the girl awake?
Sure, she confounds the altar with the stake.
Send for the doctor. Try a change of air.
Swear Cato drinks. In war and love all's fair.
Bring Croesus to the front. At four he's free-
There's no one left to swindle after three.
In one brief hour behold him curled and drest,
And borne on wings of fashion to the West!
What though to regions fondly deemed refined,
He brings his City manners, City mind,
And cynics titter?-he laughs best who wins,-
A Greenwhich dinner covers many sins.
What! dine with Croesus? Surely. Is a feast
One jot the worse because the host's a beast?
He's worse than that-a snob-a cad. Agreed;
But then his goblets smack of Ganymede?
Do some strange freaks his conversation mar?
He stops your censure with a prime cigar.
A Norway stream, a shooting-lodge in Perth,
In practice look uncommonly like worth.
The Town to hear some new soprano flocks.
You long to go? Well, Croesus has a box.
How at this hour are tickets to be got
For the Regatta? Croesus has a yacht.
Goodwood is here. Your hopes begin to flag.
One chance awaits you: Croesus has a drag.
You doat on Flower-shows: Croesus has a bone.
Be friends with Croesus, and the World's your own.
Who could resist seductions such as these?
Or what could charm, if Croesus failed to please?
Blinded and bribed, the critical are cured,
And loud extol whom late they scarce endured.
Caressed and courted, Croesus grows the rage,
The type and glory of our Golden Age;
And Cato, Hylas, Solon, shoved aside,
Our heavenly maid is hailed as Croesus' bride.
Shade of Lucretius! if thy lyre waxed wild
With sacred rage for Clytemnestra's child,
And nought could hold thee as thy soul surveyed
The cursëd ills Religion can persuade,
How would thy verse impetuously shower
Sonorous scorn on Gold's atrocious power;
Embalm its victims with a touch divine,
And damn the monster in one sounding line!
Can honeyed forms or stereotyped applause
Alter the scope of Heaven's eternal laws?
What though with gifts should massive sideboards groan,
And every heart be glad except her own,
And troops of blooming girls behold with pride,
Perchance with envy, this resplendent bride;
Though vieing voices hail her Fashion's queen,
And even a Bishop's blessing crown the scene,
No rites, no rings, no altars, can avail
To make a sacred contract of a sale,
Stir the far depths of the reluctant mind,
Or join the hearts which love hath failed to bind.
If soul stands passive whilst the flesh is sold,
Is there no foul aroma in the gold?
Is the base barter covered by the price,
And do huge figures make the nasty nice?
The nameless outcast, prowling for her prey,
Renews her filthy bargain day by day;
Let Croesus give her what he gave his wife,
She's virtuous too-at least, she's his for life.
Croesus-but hold! Let Charity presume
That Croesus' wife but dimly knew her doom.
The luckless maid, since knowledge comes too late,
In splendour seeks oblivion of her fate;
Of every tender pious aim bereft,
Hugs in despair the only idol left;
In alien worship seeks to be consoled,
And builds her hopes of happiness on Gold.
Gold rules her steps, determines her desires-
Mere puppet she, whilst Mammon jerks the wires.
Futile to ask if London suits her health-
Would you consult her doctor, not her wealth?
You soon are answered: Whether ill or well,
A house in Town is indispensable.
Where shall it be? On gravel or on clay?
Wherever tenants have the most to pay.
Price is the thing, not soil. If Fashion's camp
Be pitched just here, what matter dry or damp?
But, health apart, 'tis known that Croesus' wife,
If left to choose, prefers a country life.
Well, she shall have it when the Parks are brown,
And Fashion, wearied, hath dispersed the Town.
But whilst the woods are leafy, and the lanes
With lush wild-flowers rob life of half its pains;
While sweetest scents and softest sounds combine
To make existence, did they last, divine;
Not for the world must Croesus' wife be missed
From fetid streets, foul rooms, and Fashion's list;
And only thence to rural refuge flies
As, self-exhausted, pleasant Summer dies.
Say, shall we marvel, amid scenes like these,
With all to dazzle, but with nought to please,
If links of simple gold should fail to cleave,
And tempters prompt their webs not vainly weave?
See, Plutus, first in each ignoble strife,
Battered and bored, bethinks him of a wife.
The happy tidings, spreading through the West,
Fires each maternal mercenary breast.
The soaring dames parade their daughters' charms,
To lure the hug of Plutus' palsied arms;
And as brave Eld for one fair woman fought,
For one foul man our world to rage is wrought.
At last, opining he might chance do worse,
Plutus to proud Olympia flings his purse.
Olympia lifts it with triumphant smile,
Whilst round her crowds congratulating guile,
Escorts her to the altar, decks her brows
With orange-buds, then leaves her with her spouse,
Who, though his suit by golden showers throve,
Can grasp his Danaë with no thews of Jove.
O, who shall tell Olympia's tale aright,
Each splendid day, each miserable night;
Her thirst divine by human draughts but slaked,
Her smiling face whilst the heart sorely ached,
Or note the edge whence one we loved so well
To sweet, seductive, base perdition fell?
I cast no stone, but half by rage consoled,
I snatch the lyre and curse this fiendish Gold.
Though Beauty's fame oft spreads through all the land,
Splendour is far more curiously scanned;
And they who once upon Olympia threw
A passing glance, since she was fair to view,
Now gilded pomp and Ostentation's choir
Attend her path, of gazing never tire;
Suck up her speech, translate her silent eyes,
Each movement, look, and posture scrutinise,
Stalk all her steps, as matron, friend, and wife,
And feed in greedy gossip on her life.
Not mine to follow to the noisome den
Where woman's frailty stands the gaze of men,
And well-coached menials, limed with gold, detail
The piteous scenes that pass behind the veil.
Enough to know that, thanks to wealth, once more
Plutus can woo, e'en richer than before.
The tottering cuckold leaves the court consoled;
Considerate juries tip his horns with Gold!
Sure some malicious demon in the brain
It needs must be, drives men reputed sane
To spurn the joys adjacent to their feet,
In the fond chase of this receding cheat?
Say, when the Stoic on his tranquil height,
And swinish crowd, sweating in miry fight,
In every age a like conclusion reach,
And sage and simple one same sermon preach-
That whether Heaven hath made one serf or king,
Reason alone true happiness can bring-
Can we but stand astounded as we scan
This race untaught, unteachable, called Man?
Would you be truly rich, how small the heap
Your aims require, the price how passing cheap!
A modest house, from urban jars removed,
By thrist selected, yet by taste approved;
Whose walls are gay with every sweet that blows,
Whose windows scented by the blushing rose;
Whose chambers few to no fine airs pretend,
Yet never are too full to greet a friend;
A garden plot, whither unbidden come
Bird's idle pipe and bee's laborious hum;
Smooth-shaven lawn, whereon in pastime's hours
The mallet rings within a belt of flowers;
A leafy nook where to enjoy at will
Gibbon's rich prose or Shakespeare's wizard quill;
A neighbouring copse wherein the stock-doves coo,
And a wild stream unchecked sings all day through;
Two clean bright stalls, where midday, night, and morn,
Two good stout roadsters champ their well-earned corn;
A few learned shelves from modern rubbish free,
Yet always, Mill, with just a place for Thee;
Head ne'er at dawn by clownish bouts obscured,
And limbs by temperate exercise inured;
A few firm friendships made in early life,
Yet doubly fastened by a pleasant wife;
A wholesome board, a draught of honest wine;-
This is true wealth; and this, thank Heaven, is mine!
And though you ransacked worlds from shore to shore,
From sea to sky, you could not give me more.
And if, all these beyond, I still should crave
Something impossible this side the grave,
Let humbler souls my soaring hopes forgive-
After my life still in my verse to live.
Well would it be if Mammon's feverish rage
Did but the vulgar and the base engage;
If those alone whose undistinguished name,
Haply if fouled, would shed no slur on Fame,
Sought in this sordid, despicable strife,
To find the good and snatch the crown of life.
But in the mire of venal fight embroiled,
Have we not seen the noblest scutcheons soiled?
Not the proud thought that many a splendid fray,
When crowns obeyed the fortunes of the day,
To stalwart arms its pregnant issue owed,
Whose glorious blood in their own body flowed;
Not the remembrance that their sires did share
The toils that made this England great and fair;
Not their resplendent pedigree, nor all
The line of haught fierce faces on the wall,
That tells the tale of their ancestral hall,
Have yet availed, in days like these, to hold
Men, thus seduced, from the coarse race for Gold.
Have we not seen the generous beast, whose sires
Once bore their fathers into battle's fires,
By titled gamblers' mercenary taste
His once stout loins to nimble flanks debased,
Made for curst gold to sweat through all his pores,
The panting pet of blacklegs, lords, and whores?
On such a course what dismal woes await,
Let the world learn by young Lucullus' fate.
Whilst yet the bloom of boyhood matched his cheek,
And all his duty was to master Greek.
Make a long score, bound o'er the running brook,
Cleave the clear wave, Lucullus had a book.
No glorious volume was't, whose subtle page
The wisdom breathed of many a studious age.
No wealth of wit, no Learning's garnered sheaves
Lay, like a treasure, lurking in its leaves.
But, in their place, crabbed Calculation scrawled
Symbols which shocked and figures that appalled.
Not for sweet Fancy, nor the simple stake
Of generous sports, did he his tasks forsake.
Ere sentiment could move, or sense control,
Adventurous Greed had swallowed up his soul.
If Gold Acrisius' Tower of Brass could flout,
How will the playground shut the monster out?
Thus by his own base instincts first betrayed,
The race of harpies lend their shameful aid,
With evil eye his smiling lands behold,
And smooth his path to infamy with gold.
At length behold him grown to man's estate,
Rich, noble, noted, lord of his own fate.
Here Duty beckons, Honour there incites,
And Love entices to its saving rites.
He heeds them not; he joins the madding crowd,
King of the base, the vulgar, and the loud;
Builds his most precious friendships on a bet,
And through the gutter trails his coronet.
Vain fool! inflamed by flattery and conceit,
He marks no pitfalls yawning at his feet;
But, winning, deems the cunning snare his luck,
And losing, pays, to plume him on his pluck;
Accepts each challenge, doubles every stake,
While tipsy plaudits follow in his wake.
But what avails, if Fortune quits his side?
Curse on the jade, he cries, she always lied!
Well, now's an end! . . . A comrade plucks his gown:
An end as yet, man! cut the timber down.
The luck will turn; you lost for want of skill;
Come, play again-you'll win. . . . By G-, I will!
Done soon as said. The swift sure axe resounds
Through the green stretch of his ancestral grounds.
The soaring elm, whose topmost boughs defied
The scaling valour of his boyish pride;
The umbrageous beech, beneath whose courtly shade
The loves that issued in his life were made;
The lordly oak, young when his line was young,
To which with pride inherited had clung
His sires and they from whom his sires were sprung;
Behold them now, around the naked hall,
One after one in fell succession fall.
Lo, the wide woods which centuries had seen
By frosts unmoved, mid thunder-fugues serene,
By thousand suns, by tens of thousand showers,
Fostered and fed, one greedy day devours.
And all in vain! Lured by the severed spoil,
The foul fierce harpies fasten on the soil.
`My lands on luck.' We take you. Clear the course;
Twenty to one upon Lucullus' horse!
One minute more, and poor Lucullus flies,
The beggared heir of all the centuries.
Then scoffed, and scourged, and stripped of all his wealth,
His last friends leave him-energy and health.
Anxiety and fierce Excitement's flame
Have scorched his blood and shrivelled up his frame.
`Plum to a pony!' hear the cripple call;
`Ere six months pass, the grave will end it all.'
Lucky at last, he wins his bootless bet,
And dies of drink, debauchery, and debt.
Gone are the times indeed when savage Might
Usurped the throne and claimed the wage of Right.
No longer now the tiller of the soil
Sees his fair fields the lusty robber's spoil;
No timid burgher now grows rich by stealth,
Lest some rude noble swoop upon his wealth;
The quiet citizen no longer fears
A raid upon his money or his ears,
That local turmoil or imperial strife
Will wreck his home or leave him bare for life.
But say, is Force the only fearful foe,
Or the keen Sword worst source of human woe?
Wielding base weapons Violence disdained,
Cunning prevails where once Compulsion reigned.
The tyrant's lance, Oppression's piercing shaft,
Torment no more, but abdicate to Craft.
Could feudal despot swooping on his prey,
Could bandit burning for the unequal fray,
Could fire, sword, famine, spread more wreck abroad,
Than marks the path of Greed allied with Fraud;
Or waits on life, where no rude signs portend
When the dread bolt of Ruin will descend?
See the poor father, who for years has toiled,
At one fell stroke of all his store despoiled.
His was the pious wish, by daily care
And safe degrees to make his hearth more fair;
His the ambition-far too meek to roam-
To swell the simple luxuries of home;
By loving thrift to deck his comely spouse
With some poor gem, the summit of her vows;
To instruct his boys in every generous art
Which trains the man to act a shining part;
By culture's aid to see his daughters armed
With each fair grace that in their mother charmed;
Year after year, as strength and vigour waned,
To find his fondest forecasts all attained;
And then, since faithful to the final stage,
Doff the hard harness from the back of age.
But watchful Greed with jealous eye beheld
Day after day his little earnings swelled;
Studied the tender workings of his mind,
Marked the fond aims to which his heart inclined;
With specious lips his trusting senses stole,
And with false visions fired his prudent soul.
Poor wretch! but yesterday in modest state
He lived, secure from every bolt of Fate.
To-day, he wanders feverish and depressed,
As though whole Andes weighed upon his breast.
To-morrow, back unto his home he crawls,
A beggared man, and at the threshold falls.
Now will no more his trustful wife behold
The gladsome face returning as of old,
And read in sparkling eye and smiling cheek
The day's good tidings e'en before he speak;
Never again in hastening footsteps guess
Some pretty love-gift, token of success.
Their blooming boys, for whom parental hope
So oft had cast the fairest horoscope,
And seen with fond anticipating eyes
Each proud successive civic honour rise,
Torn from their noble studies, have to crave
From base pursuits the pittance of a slave,
Pour the soul's wine into the body's sieve,
And grand life lose in mean attempts to live.
Perchance, at home their humble wants denied,
Gaunt Hunger drives them from their mother's side;
Leaves her to weep alone o'er what hath been,
And places ocean, pitiless, between.
The tender girls, their father's pride and joy,
Whose dreams a fiend had scrupled to destroy;
From childhood's earliest days whose only care
Was to be gracious, virtuous, and fair,
And who from Heaven could nothing else implore
Save to be all their mother was before;
Who pictured as their perfect scheme of life
A clinging daughter and a helpful wife,-
At one rude flash behold the world enlarge,
And stand, pale victims, trembling on the marge.
Little, alas, now boots it where they roam,
Since they must leave the tranquil shores of home.
Whether, poor slaves, they crawl with aching feet
Hour after hour from dreary street to street,
Or, as in mockery of home, alas!
Beneath the stranger's icy portal pass,
And thankless task and miserable wage
Their exiled cheerless energies engage,
Their youth, their life, is blasted at the core,
And Hope's sweet sap will mount their veins no more.
Should every door their humble prayers repel,
Scorning to buy what Hunger kneels to sell,
And they, half thankful that the strangers spurn,
To their own roof be driven to return,
How strange the scene that meets their wearied gaze!
How changed the hearth, the home, of other days!
Contracting Care usurps the mother's face,
Whose smiles of old spread sunshine through the place.
Alone she weeps; but should she chance to hear
Her husband's steps, she hides the furtive tear;
Follows his movements with an anxious dread,
Studies his brow, and scans his restless tread;
Assails his woe with every female wile,
Prattles of hope, and simulates a smile.
He, broken man, wrapt in perpetual gloom,
Wanders anon from vacant room to room;
Then, creeping back, the image of despair,
With a deep sigh he sinks into his chair.
He seldom speaks; and when his voice is heard,
Peevish its tone, and querulous his word;
And vain laments and childish tears attest
The lamp of life is dying in his breast.
Perhaps his death some timely pittance frees,
Secured by prudence in their days of ease;
And, O the pity! posthumous relief
Stanches love's wounds, and blunts the edge of grief.
Unless, indeed-for this too hath been known-
All-grasping Greed hath made that mite its own,
Filched from the widow her last hopes of bread,
And whom it ruined living, plunders dead!
These are thy triumphs, Gold! thy trophies these,
To nurture fraud, and rob the world of ease,
Faith to befool, young genius to seduce,
And blight at once its beauty and its use.
Thine is the bait, as loveless hearths avouch,
Which drags fresh victims to the venal couch;
Thine the foul traps wherewith our ways are rife,
That lure them first, then close upon their life;
Thine, thine the springes, set in regions fair,
Whose unseen nooses strangle whom they snare;
The cynic glory thine to lie in wait
To make men little who had else been great,
Frustrate our plenty, aggravate our dearth,
And keep eternal feud 'twixt Heaven and Earth!
Lo, where huge London, huger day by day,
O'er six fair counties spreads its hideous sway,
A tract there lies by Fortune's favours blest,
And at Fame's font yclept the happy West.
There, as by wizard touch, for miles on miles,
Rise squares, streets, crescents of palatial piles.
In the brave days when England's trusty voice
Made grappling rivals tremble or rejoice;
When, foremost shield of Weakness or of Right,
She scorned to warn unless resolved to smite;
When, few but firm, her stalwart children bore
The terror of her Flag from shore to shore,
Purged Christ's dear tomb from sacrilege and shame,
And made the Moslem quake at Richard's name;
Taught the vain Gaul, though gallant, still to kneel,
And Spain's proud sons the weight of northern steel;-
Then were her best in no such splendour nursed
As now awaits her basest and her worst.
No kingly Harry glittering with renown,
No Edward radiant in a peaceful crown,
Was housed as now, at turn of Fortune's wrist,
Some lucky navvy turned capitalist,
Some convict's bastard who a-sudden shines
In the bright splendour of Australian mines,
Or subtle Greek, who, skilled in Eastern ways,
Exposes all Golconda to our gaze.
These, as to Pomp's pretentious peaks they rush,
Heed not the crowds their sordid conquests crush:
Secure in glaring opulence, they scan
With placid eyes the miseries of man;
Fat units, watch the leanness of the whole,
And gag remonstrance with a paltry dole:
Mid harrowing want, with conscience unafraid,
Die on the golden dirt-heaps they have made.
Here Plenty gorges gifts from every zone,
There thankful Hunger gnaws its meagre bone;
Profusion here melts more than pearls in wine,
There craves gaunt Penury some shucks from swine;
And whilst rich rogues quaff deep round roaring fires,
At Dives' portal Lazarus expires!
Betwixt these fierce extremes of wealth and woe,
A crowd of strugglers hustles to and fro,
Whose one sole aim and only hope in life
Are just to wrench subsistence from the strife.
To what base shifts these hideous straits compel
The straining wretches, let our records tell.
Victims of greedy Competition's craft,
We drain cheap poison in each sparkling draught,
Purchase a lie in every vaunted ware,
And swallow filth in the most frugal fare.
Building a refuge for our age, we find
The crumbling mortar lets in wet and wind;
Face the rude waves, by science freed from awe,
To sink, poor dupes, on life-belts made of straw!
Nor this the worst! When ripened Shame would hide
Fruits of that hour when Passion conquered Pride,
There are not wanting in this Christian land
The breast remorseless and the Thuggish hand,
To advertise the dens where Death is sold,
And quench the breath of baby-life for gold!
Nor man alone, case-hardened man, surveys
These shocking contrasts with a careless gaze.
Fair melting woman of the tender breast
Here finds no room for pity as her guest.
Unsexed, she strains to Ostentation's goal,
While Splendour's dreams demoralise her soul;
Drains, like a goddess, hecatombs of lives,
Nor heeds who lags, provided she arrives.
See Claribel, by every gift designed
Mid anguish keen to be an angel kind,
Once plunged in rival factions' golden fight,
Turned to a demon in her own despite.
Behold, to-morrow in the Royal smile
Will bask the birth and wealth of all the Isle.
She, long abroad, received the summons late.
What's to be done? Nor time nor tide will wait.
She turns her wardrobe over, racks her brain;
Nothing will do. She wants a dress and train.
Drive to the modiste's. Not a finger free.
There's only Clara. Clara let it be.
But Clara's sick and sorry. Give her gold;
Her aches will cease, her sorrows be consoled.
It must be done. Sure Lilian there will glow
In gorgeous newness decked from top to toe;
Shall it be said that Claribel did less?
To-morrow, then, in time the train and dress.
So Clara drags her weary limbs from bed,
O'er the brave finery hangs her throbbing head;
Still as her senses swim sews on and on,
Till day dies out and twilight pale is gone.
Then, by the taper's soft and silent light,
Like a pale flower that opens most by night,
Her pace she quickens, and the needle moves
Subtler and swifter through the gauzy grooves;
But as the dawn on guttering sockets gains,
Her tired lids drop, and sleep arrests her pains.
But sleep how short! She feels her shoulder clutched:
`Clara, awake! the train's not even touched!
Day strides apace. See, there's the morning sun,
And ere again he sinks, 't must all be done.'
Again, again, the shooting thread she plies,
In silent agony of smothered sighs.
She seems to breathe her breath into the gown,
To give it life the while she lays hers down.
Fast as the task advances set by pride,
So fast within her ebbs the vital tide.
The daylight goes, and softly comes the moon's,
And then poor Clara over the last stitch swoons.
Meanwhile, the panting Claribel awaits
The precious gown within her golden gates.
It comes-it comes. Now who shall shine her down?
Not Lilian, surely? No, not the entire Town.
She not for worlds had lost this courtly chance;
And Clara dies that Claribel may dance!
If private worth, thus languishing, expires,
Will public Virtue keep alive her fires?
The slaves of wealth, in Britain as in Rome,
Bring to the Forum vices formed at home.
First the community, and then the State,
Falls to their fangs, which naught can satiate.
Not born nor bred to rule, of culture void,
And by no wave of young ambition buoyed,
Anxious on heights conspicuous to flaunt
Nought but the tawdry trophies they can vaunt,
They woo the grasping crowd with golden guile,
And spread Corruption's canker through the Isle.
You want a seat? Then boldly sate your itch.
Be very radical, and very rich.
Sell your opinions first to please the pure,
Then buy the sordid, and your triumph's sure.
Do all, in brief, that honest men abhor,
And England hails another Senator.
See the vain Tribune who, in lust of power,
Bows to the base exactions of the hour,
And, fooled by sycophants, stands forth at last
A devotee turned sworn iconoclast!
Behind him sit dense rows of golden mutes,
Deaf to whate'er demonstrates or refutes,
Ready to vote, rescind, obey in all
The whip demands, as hounds the huntsman's call.
They neither know nor reck what helpful deeds
In this grave hour their perilled Country needs.
They want to see their daughters nobly wed,
Their wives at Court, their own names trumpeted,
Their private Bills advanced another stage,
Their schemes of plunder foisted on the age.
Leave them but these, the gamblers come to call,
Nor heed an Empire nodding to its fall!
When Power is built on props like these, how vain
The hope that Law the giddy will restrain!
Spoilt by twin sops, servility and gold,
The headstrong crowd is then but ill controlled.
In vain they now would sway who lately served,
And Riot cows Authority unnerved.
Better that such base compromise should end,
And the dread bolt of Anarchy descend!
Goths of the gutter, Vandals of the slum,
Thieves and Reformers, come! Barbarians, come!
Before your might let rails and rules be hurled,
And sweep Civilisation from the world!
Nor now, alas, do Commoners alone
To private ends the public weal postpone.
Those too, whom worth ancestral plants on seats
High above where all vulgar Clamour beats,
With paltry fear to their clipped ermine cling,
And shrink from right, lest right should ruin bring.
The Peers stand firm; the Commons disagree.
The Peers be-well, it now is close on three.
By five, a world of reasons will be found.
Throw Jonas over, or the ship's aground.
You know the fury of the hand that steers;
And what were Britain with no House of Peers?
Would Primogeniture its fall survive,
Or even Property be kept alive?
Let Herbert fume, or frantic Cecil chafe,
Better a deal to choose the side that's safe;
Bow to the will of Finlen and his hordes,
And still thank Heavën for a House of Lords!
Thus may the British breast exult to think.
That noble names can sell ignoble ink;
That ill-got gains, if deftly spent, unlock
Birth's choicest circles to the ambitious smock;
That Dives foul mounts fine Aristo's stairs,
If but Aristo Dives' plunder shares;
And half Debrett urbanely flocks to White's,
To back the boor who saves them from the kites.
His son succeeds him. `Make the son a Peer.
Why not? His income's eighty thousand clear.
New blood is wanted. Here's the very stuff.
Besides, he wields the county vote.' Enough.
But hold! there's Cato. `Cato! are you sane?
Why, Cato's means but one small hearth sustain.
Ennoble Cato, you'll have Peers for life,
Or else forbid the man to take a wife.
He can't maintain the necessary state,
And would you have a poor name legislate?
No, Dives' son's the very man we need.
What says the Crown?' The Crown! Of course, Agreed.
And the young fool, enriched by parent knaves,
From Ruin's jaws our Constitution saves!
Is there no path of honour for the great,
No sound and clean salvation for the State?
Must we for ever fly to shifts like this,
And trust to Gold to save us from the abyss?
Must honours old by new-got wealth be vamped,
And Valour's stock by plutocrats be swamped?
Back to your lands, base sons of splendid sires!
From spendthrift squares back to your native shires!
Back, back from Baden, and leave Homburg's shades
To dazzling Jews and mercenary jades.
Leave London's round of vulgar joys to those
Who seek in such from base pursuits repose.
Cease to contend with upstart Wealth's parade,
To wring your lands to vie with tricks of trade;
And, proudly spurning Glitter's transient lies,
At least be honest, if you can't be wise!
Worship your household gods, and spend at home
The solid earnings of the generous loam.
Delve, fence, and drain; the dripping waste reclaim;
With spreading woodlands multiply your fame.
Yours let it be to screen the reverent hind,
Who loves your presence, 'gainst the frost and wind;
Scorning to count the profit, raise his lot;
Lure the shy Graces to his lowly cot;
Be, one and all, acknowledged, far and wide,
Patriarchs and patterns of the country side.
And whether demagogues shall rise or fall,
A Cleon mount, or Boänerges bawl,
True to yourselves and native duty, thus
Save this poor England by being virtuous!
And you, Sir, hope of this once famous isle,
Round whom its halo plays, its favours smile,
Hark to the Muse, which, poised on Candour's wings,
Flouts the base crowd, but scorns to flatter kings.
Hark, while she tells you, nor her counsel spurn,
From giddy Pleasure's gilded toys to turn;
That not from minions opulent or coarse
Do Princes gain their lustre and their force;
That Reverence anchors not in deep carouse,
And that a Crown fits only kingly brows!
Fired by each bright example, shun the shade,
Where Scandal best can ply her noxious trade.
Learn from your pious Father how to share
With hands, too lonely now, a Kingdom's care.
Be by your fair loved Consort's pattern moved,
And like your virtuous Mother, stand approved;
Do for this England all the Sceptre can,
And be at least a stainless gentleman.
Be this too much, you well may live to find
That firmest Thrones can fail the weak and blind,
And, though no Samson, sharing half his fate,
Pull down the pillars of a mighty State!
Whilst our domestic fortunes thus obey
All-searching Gold's demoralising sway,
We hug the limits of our puny shore,
And Glory knows our once great name no more.
First are we still in every bloodless fray,
Where piles of gold adventurous prows repay;
But when flushed Honour sets the world on fire,
We furl our sails and to our coasts retire;
And, basely calm whilst outraged nations bleed,
Invent new doctrines to excuse our greed.
When gallant Denmark, now the spoiler's prey,
Flashed her bright blade, and faced the unequal fray,
And, all abandoned both by men and gods,
Fell, faint with wounds, before accursèd odds,-
Where, where was England's vindicating sword,
Her promised arm, to stay the invading horde;
Bid the rude German drop his half-clutched spoil,
And scare the robber from ancestral soil?
The fair young Dane, beloved by every Grace,
And all the Virtues shining in her face,
Who, more an angel than a princess deemed,
Withal was even sweeter than she seemed,
With noisy throats we summoned o'er the foam,
And with cheap cheers escorted to her home.
But when with streaming eye and throbbing breast
She, pious child, her loving fears confessed,
And, leagued with Honour's voice and Valour's ire,
Prayed us to save her country and her sire,
We turned away, and opulently cold,
Put back our swords of steel in sheaths of gold!
And yet what sandy base doth Gold afford,
Though crowned by Law, and fenced round by the Sword,
Learn from that Empire which, a scorn for aye,
Grew in a night and perished in a day!
Helped by a magic name and doubtful hour,
See the Adventurer scale the steeps of Power.
Upon him groups of desperate gamesters wait,
To snatch their profit from a sinking State.
Folly, and Fate which Folly still attends,
Conspire to shape and expedite their ends.
The Hour, the Man are here! No pulse? No breath?
Wake, Freedom, wake! In vain! She sleeps like Death.
The impious hands, emboldened by her swoon,
Choke in the night, and slay her in the noon!
Then, when vain crowds with dilatory glaive
Rush to avenge the life they would not save,
The prompt conspirators with lavish hand
Fling their last pieces to a pampered band,
Bribe cut-throat blades Vengeance' choked ways to hold,
And bar the avenues of rage with gold!
Then mark how soon, amid triumphant hymns,
The Imperial purple girds the blood-stained limbs.
The perjured hands a golden sceptre gain,
A crown of gold screens the seared brow of Cain,
And golden eagles, erst of simpler ore,
Assert the Caesar, and his rod restore.
See round his throne Pomp's servile tributes swell,
Not Nero knew, e'er Rome to ruin fell,
Far from his feet the lust of glitter spread,
And the vain herd on Splendour's follies fed!
Nor they alone, the shallow, base, and gay,
Bend to this Idol with the feet of clay:
Statesmen and soldiers kneel with flattering suit,
Kings are his guests, e'en queens his cheeks salute;
Senates extol him, supple priests caress,
And even thou, O Pius, stoop'st to bless!
And the World's verdict, ever blind as base,
Welcomes the `Second Saviour' of the race!
And yet how weak this Empire girt with gold
Did prove to save when Battle's torrents rolled,
Have we not seen in ruin, rout, and shame,
Burnt deep in Gaul's for ever broken fame?
What then availed her courts of pomp and pride,
What her bright camps with glittering shows allied?
What, in that hour, the luxury which passed
To soldiers' lips the sybarite repast?
Did all her gold suffice, when steel withstood
Her stride, to make her rash, vain challenge good?
Behold her Chief, in comfort longwhile slung,
By War's rough couch and random fare unstrung
His vaunted Leaders, who to Power had mown
Their path with swords that propped a venal Throne,
Brandishing rival blades, his brain confound,
While still, but sure, the solid foe press round.
See her soft sons, whom arms enervate lead,
Spurn the long marches which to victory speed,
And, fondly deeming Science served by Wealth
Will snatch the fight at distance and by stealth,
Smitten with fear at Valour's downright face,
And taught swift limbs in Flight's ignoble chase!
See one, see all, before the Victor fleet,
Then lay their swords, submissive, at his feet!
O hapless France! e'en then insurgent ire
Had your soiled scutcheon lifted from the mire,
Placed the bright helm on Honour's front once more,
And laurels reaped more lasting than of yore,
Had not rich ease your manhood's marrow stole,
And gold emollient softened all your soul.
O, what a sight-a sight these eyes beheld-
Her fair green woods by the invader felled;
Her fields and vineyards by the Teuton trod,
Those she once smote encamped upon her sod;
Her homes, in dread, abandoned to the foe,
Or saved from rapine by obsequience low;
Her cities ransomed, provinces o'erawed,
Her iron strongholds wrenched by force or fraud;
Her once proud Paris grovelling in the dust,
And-crowning irony, if lesson just-
The grasping victor, loth to quit his hold,
Coaxed slowly homewards o'er a bridge of gold!
Is there no warning, England, here, for thee?
Or are Heaven's laws balked by a strip of sea?
Are thy foundations, Albion, so approved,
Thou canst behold such downfall all unmoved?
Have we not marked how this Briarean Gold
Doth all our life and energies enfold?
And as our practice, so our doctrines too-
We shape new ethics for our vices new;
Our sires forswear, our splendid Past defame,
And in high places glory in our shame!
Hear our loud-tinkling Tribunes all declare
Once lavish England hath no blood to spare,
No gold to spend; within her watery wall
She needs to roll and wallow in it all.
Doth towering Might some poor faint Cause oppress,
They bid her turn, impartial, from distress;
Indulge her tears, but hide her ire from sight,
Lest a like doom her angry front invite.
And when this craven caution fails to save
Her peaceful fortunes from the braggart glaive,
They bid her still be moral and be meek,
Hug tight her gold, and turn the other cheek.
Her very sons, sprung from her mighty loins,
We aliens make, to save some paltry coins;
With our own hands destroy our Empire old,
And stutter, `All is lost, except our gold!'
With languid limbs, by comfortable fire,
We see our glories, one by one, expire;
A Nelson's flag, a Churchill's flashing blade,
Debased to menials of rapacious Trade;
Lost by a Cardwell what a Wellesley won,
And by a Gladstone Chatham's world undone!
Pale, gibbering spectres fumbling at the helm,
Whilst dark winds howl, and billowy seas o'erwhelm.
Yet deem you, England, that you thus will save,
Even your wealth from rapine or the grave?
Will your one chain of safety always hold,
Or `silver streak' for ever guard your gold?
If through long slumbrous years the ignoble rust
Of selfish ease your erst bright steel encrust,
When Storm impends, you vainly will implore
The Gods of Ocean to protect your shore.
Bribed by the foe, behold Britannia stand
At Freedom's portals with a traitress hand,
Help the Barbarian to its sacred hold,
Then, like Tarpeia, sink oppressed with Gold!
Perish the thought! O, rather let me see
Conspiring myriads bristling on the sea,
Our tranquil coasts bewildered by alarms,
And Britain, singly, face a World in arms!
What if a treacherous Heaven befriend our foes?
Let us go down in glory, as we rose!
And if that doom-the best that could betide-
Be to our Fame by envious Fate denied,
Then come, primeval clouds and seasons frore,
And wrap in gloom our luckless land once more!
Come, every wind of Heaven that rudely blows,
Plunge back our Isle in never-ending snows!
Rage, Eurus, rage! fierce Boreas, descend!
With glacial mists lost Albion befriend!
E'en of its name be every trace destroyed,
And Dark sit brooding o'er the formless Void!
The Ballad of the White Horse
Of great limbs gone to chaos,
A great face turned to night--
Why bend above a shapeless shroud
Seeking in such archaic cloud
Sight of strong lords and light?
Where seven sunken Englands
Lie buried one by one,
Why should one idle spade, I wonder,
Shake up the dust of thanes like thunder
To smoke and choke the sun?
In cloud of clay so cast to heaven
What shape shall man discern?
These lords may light the mystery
Of mastery or victory,
And these ride high in history,
But these shall not return.
Gored on the Norman gonfalon
The Golden Dragon died:
We shall not wake with ballad strings
The good time of the smaller things,
We shall not see the holy kings
Ride down by Severn side.
Stiff, strange, and quaintly coloured
As the broidery of Bayeux
The England of that dawn remains,
And this of Alfred and the Danes
Seems like the tales a whole tribe feigns
Too English to be true.
Of a good king on an island
That ruled once on a time;
And as he walked by an apple tree
There came green devils out of the sea
With sea-plants trailing heavily
And tracks of opal slime.
Yet Alfred is no fairy tale;
His days as our days ran,
He also looked forth for an hour
On peopled plains and skies that lower,
From those few windows in the tower
That is the head of a man.
But who shall look from Alfred's hood
Or breathe his breath alive?
His century like a small dark cloud
Drifts far; it is an eyeless crowd,
Where the tortured trumpets scream aloud
And the dense arrows drive.
Lady, by one light only
We look from Alfred's eyes,
We know he saw athwart the wreck
The sign that hangs about your neck,
Where One more than Melchizedek
Is dead and never dies.
Therefore I bring these rhymes to you
Who brought the cross to me,
Since on you flaming without flaw
I saw the sign that Guthrum saw
When he let break his ships of awe,
And laid peace on the sea.
Do you remember when we went
Under a dragon moon,
And `mid volcanic tints of night
Walked where they fought the unknown fight
And saw black trees on the battle-height,
Black thorn on Ethandune?
And I thought, "I will go with you,
As man with God has gone,
And wander with a wandering star,
The wandering heart of things that are,
The fiery cross of love and war
That like yourself, goes on."
O go you onward; where you are
Shall honour and laughter be,
Past purpled forest and pearled foam,
God's winged pavilion free to roam,
Your face, that is a wandering home,
A flying home for me.
Ride through the silent earthquake lands,
Wide as a waste is wide,
Across these days like deserts, when
Pride and a little scratching pen
Have dried and split the hearts of men,
Heart of the heroes, ride.
Up through an empty house of stars,
Being what heart you are,
Up the inhuman steeps of space
As on a staircase go in grace,
Carrying the firelight on your face
Beyond the loneliest star.
Take these; in memory of the hour
We strayed a space from home
And saw the smoke-hued hamlets, quaint
With Westland king and Westland saint,
And watched the western glory faint
Along the road to Frome.
BOOK I THE VISION OF THE KING
Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of the grass.
Before the gods that made the gods
Had drunk at dawn their fill,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was hoary on the hill.
Age beyond age on British land,
Aeons on aeons gone,
Was peace and war in western hills,
And the White Horse looked on.
For the White Horse knew England
When there was none to know;
He saw the first oar break or bend,
He saw heaven fall and the world end,
O God, how long ago.
For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell to-day
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.
For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.
When Caesar's sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.
When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.
And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.
Where Ind's enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.
And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.
And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man's hair with white.
And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.
And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:
And Alfred, hiding in deep grass,
Hardened his heart with hope.
A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.
He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.
He broke them with a broken sword
A little towards the sea,
And for one hour of panting peace,
Ringed with a roar that would not cease,
With golden crown and girded fleece
Made laws under a tree.
The Northmen came about our land
A Christless chivalry:
Who knew not of the arch or pen,
Great, beautiful half-witted men
From the sunrise and the sea.
Misshapen ships stood on the deep
Full of strange gold and fire,
And hairy men, as huge as sin
With horned heads, came wading in
Through the long, low sea-mire.
Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.
Their souls were drifting as the sea,
And all good towns and lands
They only saw with heavy eyes,
And broke with heavy hands,
Their gods were sadder than the sea,
Gods of a wandering will,
Who cried for blood like beasts at night,
Sadly, from hill to hill.
They seemed as trees walking the earth,
As witless and as tall,
Yet they took hold upon the heavens
And no help came at all.
They bred like birds in English woods,
They rooted like the rose,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To hide him from their bows
There was not English armour left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.
For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.
And the great kings of Wessex
Wearied and sank in gore,
And even their ghosts in that great stress
Grew greyer and greyer, less and less,
With the lords that died in Lyonesse
And the king that comes no more.
And the God of the Golden Dragon
Was dumb upon his throne,
And the lord of the Golden Dragon
Ran in the woods alone.
And if ever he climbed the crest of luck
And set the flag before,
Returning as a wheel returns,
Came ruin and the rain that burns,
And all began once more.
And naught was left King Alfred
But shameful tears of rage,
In the island in the river
In the end of all his age.
In the island in the river
He was broken to his knee:
And he read, writ with an iron pen,
That God had wearied of Wessex men
And given their country, field and fen,
To the devils of the sea.
And he saw in a little picture,
Tiny and far away,
His mother sitting in Egbert's hall,
And a book she showed him, very small,
Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall
With a golden Christ at play.
It was wrought in the monk's slow manner,
From silver and sanguine shell,
Where the scenes are little and terrible,
Keyholes of heaven and hell.
In the river island of Athelney,
With the river running past,
In colours of such simple creed
All things sprang at him, sun and weed,
Till the grass grew to be grass indeed
And the tree was a tree at last.
Fearfully plain the flowers grew,
Like the child's book to read,
Or like a friend's face seen in a glass;
He looked; and there Our Lady was,
She stood and stroked the tall live grass
As a man strokes his steed.
Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose,
The very colours of her coat
Were better than good news.
She spoke not, nor turned not,
Nor any sign she cast,
Only she stood up straight and free,
Between the flowers in Athelney,
And the river running past.
One dim ancestral jewel hung
On his ruined armour grey,
He rent and cast it at her feet:
Where, after centuries, with slow feet,
Men came from hall and school and street
And found it where it lay.
"Mother of God," the wanderer said,
"I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.
"The gates of heaven are fearful gates
Worse than the gates of hell;
Not I would break the splendours barred
Or seek to know the thing they guard,
Which is too good to tell.
"But for this earth most pitiful,
This little land I know,
If that which is for ever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
Seeing the stranger go?
"When our last bow is broken, Queen,
And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?"
And a voice came human but high up,
Like a cottage climbed among
The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft
That sits by his hovel fire as oft,
But hears on his old bare roof aloft
A belfry burst in song.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly
Upon me in a lane.
"And any little maid that walks
In good thoughts apart,
May break the guard of the Three Kings
And see the dear and dreadful things
I hid within my heart.
"The meanest man in grey fields gone
Behind the set of sun,
Heareth between star and other star,
Through the door of the darkness fallen ajar,
The council, eldest of things that are,
The talk of the Three in One.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told.
"The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.
"The men of the East may search the scrolls
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God
Go singing to their shame.
"The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die.
"The wise men know all evil things
Under the twisted trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine
And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.
"But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"
Even as she spoke she was not,
Nor any word said he,
He only heard, still as he stood
Under the old night's nodding hood,
The sea-folk breaking down the wood
Like a high tide from sea.
He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and bleak,
Singing about some cruel thing
Done by a great and smiling king
In daylight on a deck.
He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and blind,
Singing what shameful things are done
Between the sunlit sea and the sun
When the land is left behind.
BOOK II THE GATHERING OF THE CHIEFS
Up across windy wastes and up
Went Alfred over the shaws,
Shaken of the joy of giants,
The joy without a cause.
In the slopes away to the western bays,
Where blows not ever a tree,
He washed his soul in the west wind
And his body in the sea.
And he set to rhyme his ale-measures,
And he sang aloud his laws,
Because of the joy of the giants,
The joy without a cause.
The King went gathering Wessex men,
As grain out of the chaff
The few that were alive to die,
Laughing, as littered skulls that lie
After lost battles turn to the sky
An everlasting laugh.
The King went gathering Christian men,
As wheat out of the husk;
Eldred, the Franklin by the sea,
And Mark, the man from Italy,
And Colan of the Sacred Tree,
From the old tribe on Usk.
The rook croaked homeward heavily,
The west was clear and warm,
The smoke of evening food and ease
Rose like a blue tree in the trees
When he came to Eldred's farm.
But Eldred's farm was fallen awry,
Like an old cripple's bones,
And Eldred's tools were red with rust,
And on his well was a green crust,
And purple thistles upward thrust,
Between the kitchen stones.
But smoke of some good feasting
Went upwards evermore,
And Eldred's doors stood wide apart
For loitering foot or labouring cart,
And Eldred's great and foolish heart
Stood open like his door.
A mighty man was Eldred,
A bulk for casks to fill,
His face a dreaming furnace,
His body a walking hill.
In the old wars of Wessex
His sword had sunken deep,
But all his friends, he signed and said,
Were broken about Ethelred;
And between the deep drink and the dead
He had fallen upon sleep.
"Come not to me, King Alfred, Save always for the ale:
Why should my harmless hinds be slain
Because the chiefs cry once again,
As in all fights, that we shall gain,
And in all fights we fail?
"Your scalds still thunder and prophesy
That crown that never comes;
Friend, I will watch the certain things,
Swine, and slow moons like silver rings,
And the ripening of the plums."
And Alfred answered, drinking,
And gravely, without blame,
"Nor bear I boast of scald or king,
The thing I bear is a lesser thing,
But comes in a better name.
"Out of the mouth of the Mother of God,
More than the doors of doom,
I call the muster of Wessex men
From grassy hamlet or ditch or den,
To break and be broken, God knows when,
But I have seen for whom.
Out of the mouth of the Mother of God
Like a little word come I;
For I go gathering Christian men
From sunken paving and ford and fen,
To die in a battle, God knows when,
By God, but I know why.
"And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world's desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.' "
Then silence sank. And slowly
Arose the sea-land lord,
Like some vast beast for mystery,
He filled the room and porch and sky,
And from a cobwebbed nail on high
Unhooked his heavy sword.
Up on the shrill sea-downs and up
Went Alfred all alone,
Turning but once e'er the door was shut,
Shouting to Eldred over his butt,
That he bring all spears to the woodman's hut
Hewn under Egbert's Stone.
And he turned his back and broke the fern,
And fought the moths of dusk,
And went on his way for other friends
Friends fallen of all the wide world's ends,
From Rome that wrath and pardon sends
And the grey tribes on Usk.
He saw gigantic tracks of death
And many a shape of doom,
Good steadings to grey ashes gone
And a monk's house white like a skeleton
In the green crypt of the combe.
And in many a Roman villa
Earth and her ivies eat,
Saw coloured pavements sink and fade
In flowers, and the windy colonnade
Like the spectre of a street.
But the cold stars clustered
Among the cold pines
Ere he was half on his pilgrimage
Over the western lines.
And the white dawn widened
Ere he came to the last pine,
Where Mark, the man from Italy,
Still made the Christian sign.
The long farm lay on the large hill-side,
Flat like a painted plan,
And by the side the low white house,
Where dwelt the southland man.
A bronzed man, with a bird's bright eye,
And a strong bird's beak and brow,
His skin was brown like buried gold,
And of certain of his sires was told
That they came in the shining ship of old,
With Caesar in the prow.
His fruit trees stood like soldiers
Drilled in a straight line,
His strange, stiff olives did not fail,
And all the kings of the earth drank ale,
But he drank wine.
Wide over wasted British plains
Stood never an arch or dome,
Only the trees to toss and reel,
The tribes to bicker, the beasts to squeal;
But the eyes in his head were strong like steel,
And his soul remembered Rome.
Then Alfred of the lonely spear
Lifted his lion head;
And fronted with the Italian's eye,
Asking him of his whence and why,
King Alfred stood and said:
"I am that oft-defeated King
Whose failure fills the land,
Who fled before the Danes of old,
Who chaffered with the Danes with gold,
Who now upon the Wessex wold
Hardly has feet to stand.
"But out of the mouth of the Mother of God
I have seen the truth like fire,
This--that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."
Long looked the Roman on the land;
The trees as golden crowns
Blazed, drenched with dawn and dew-empearled
While faintlier coloured, freshlier curled,
The clouds from underneath the world
Stood up over the downs.
"These vines be ropes that drag me hard,"
He said. "I go not far;
Where would you meet? For you must hold
Half Wiltshire and the White Horse wold,
And the Thames bank to Owsenfold,
If Wessex goes to war.
"Guthrum sits strong on either bank
And you must press his lines
Inwards, and eastward drive him down;
I doubt if you shall take the crown
Till you have taken London town.
For me, I have the vines."
"If each man on the Judgment Day
Meet God on a plain alone,"
Said Alfred, "I will speak for you
As for myself, and call it true
That you brought all fighting folk you knew
Lined under Egbert's Stone.
"Though I be in the dust ere then,
I know where you will be."
And shouldering suddenly his spear
He faded like some elfin fear,
Where the tall pines ran up, tier on tier
Tree overtoppling tree.
He shouldered his spear at morning
And laughed to lay it on,
But he leaned on his spear as on a staff,
With might and little mood to laugh,
Or ever he sighted chick or calf
Of Colan of Caerleon.
For the man dwelt in a lost land
Of boulders and broken men,
In a great grey cave far off to the south
Where a thick green forest stopped the mouth,
Giving darkness in his den.
And the man was come like a shadow,
From the shadow of Druid trees,
Where Usk, with mighty murmurings,
Past Caerleon of the fallen kings,
Goes out to ghostly seas.
Last of a race in ruin--
He spoke the speech of the Gaels;
His kin were in holy Ireland,
Or up in the crags of Wales.
But his soul stood with his mother's folk,
That were of the rain-wrapped isle,
Where Patrick and Brandan westerly
Looked out at last on a landless sea
And the sun's last smile.
His harp was carved and cunning,
As the Celtic craftsman makes,
Graven all over with twisting shapes
Like many headless snakes.
His harp was carved and cunning,
His sword prompt and sharp,
And he was gay when he held the sword,
Sad when he held the harp.
For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
He kept the Roman order,
He made the Christian sign;
But his eyes grew often blind and bright,
And the sea that rose in the rocks at night
Rose to his head like wine.
He made the sign of the cross of God,
He knew the Roman prayer,
But he had unreason in his heart
Because of the gods that were.
Even they that walked on the high cliffs,
High as the clouds were then,
Gods of unbearable beauty,
That broke the hearts of men.
And whether in seat or saddle,
Whether with frown or smile,
Whether at feast or fight was he,
He heard the noise of a nameless sea
On an undiscovered isle.
Lifting the great green ivy
And the great spear lowering,
One said, "I am Alfred of Wessex,
And I am a conquered king."
And the man of the cave made answer,
And his eyes were stars of scorn,
"And better kings were conquered
Or ever your sires were born.
"What goddess was your mother,
What fay your breed begot,
That you should not die with Uther
And Arthur and Lancelot?
"But when you win you brag and blow,
And when you lose you rail,
Army of eastland yokels
Not strong enough to fail."
"I bring not boast or railing,"
Spake Alfred not in ire,
"I bring of Our Lady a lesson set,
This--that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."
Then Colan of the Sacred Tree
Tossed his black mane on high,
And cried, as rigidly he rose,
"And if the sea and sky be foes,
We will tame the sea and sky."
Smiled Alfred, "Seek ye a fable
More dizzy and more dread
Than all your mad barbarian tales
Where the sky stands on its head ?
"A tale where a man looks down on the sky
That has long looked down on him;
A tale where a man can swallow a sea
That might swallow the seraphim.
"Bring to the hut by Egbert's Stone
All bills and bows ye have."
And Alfred strode off rapidly,
And Colan of the Sacred Tree
Went slowly to his cave.
BOOK III THE HARP OF ALFRED
In a tree that yawned and twisted
The King's few goods were flung,
A mass-book mildewed, line by line,
And weapons and a skin of wine,
And an old harp unstrung.
By the yawning tree in the twilight
The King unbound his sword,
Severed the harp of all his goods,
And there in the cool and soundless woods
Sounded a single chord.
Then laughed; and watched the finches flash,
The sullen flies in swarm,
And went unarmed over the hills,
With the harp upon his arm,
Until he came to the White Horse Vale
And saw across the plains,
In the twilight high and far and fell,
Like the fiery terraces of hell,
The camp fires of the Danes--
The fires of the Great Army
That was made of iron men,
Whose lights of sacrilege and scorn
Ran around England red as morn,
Fires over Glastonbury Thorn--
Fires out on Ely Fen.
And as he went by White Horse Vale
He saw lie wan and wide
The old horse graven, God knows when,
By gods or beasts or what things then
Walked a new world instead of men
And scrawled on the hill-side.
And when he came to White Horse Down
The great White Horse was grey,
For it was ill scoured of the weed,
And lichen and thorn could crawl and feed,
Since the foes of settled house and creed
Had swept old works away.
King Alfred gazed all sorrowful
At thistle and mosses grey,
Then laughed; and watched the finches flash,
Till a rally of Danes with shield and bill
Rolled drunk over the dome of the hill,
And, hearing of his harp and skill,
They dragged him to their play.
And as they went through the high green grass
They roared like the great green sea;
But when they came to the red camp fire
They were silent suddenly.
And as they went up the wastes away
They went reeling to and fro;
But when they came to the red camp fire
They stood all in a row.
For golden in the firelight,
With a smile carved on his lips,
And a beard curled right cunningly,
Was Guthrum of the Northern Sea,
The emperor of the ships--
With three great earls King Guthrum
Went the rounds from fire to fire,
With Harold, nephew of the King,
And Ogier of the Stone and Sling,
And Elf, whose gold lute had a string
That sighed like all desire.
The Earls of the Great Army
That no men born could tire,
Whose flames anear him or aloof
Took hold of towers or walls of proof,
Fire over Glastonbury roof
And out on Ely, fire.
And Guthrum heard the soldiers' tale
And bade the stranger play;
Not harshly, but as one on high,
On a marble pillar in the sky,
Who sees all folk that live and die--
Pigmy and far away.
And Alfred, King of Wessex,
Looked on his conqueror--
And his hands hardened; but he played,
And leaving all later hates unsaid,
He sang of some old British raid
On the wild west march of yore.
He sang of war in the warm wet shires,
Where rain nor fruitage fails,
Where England of the motley states
Deepens like a garden to the gates
In the purple walls of Wales.
He sang of the seas of savage heads
And the seas and seas of spears,
Boiling all over Offa's Dyke,
What time a Wessex club could strike
The kings of the mountaineers.
Till Harold laughed and snatched the harp,
The kinsman of the King,
A big youth, beardless like a child,
Whom the new wine of war sent wild,
Smote, and began to sing--
And he cried of the ships as eagles
That circle fiercely and fly,
And sweep the seas and strike the towns
From Cyprus round to Skye.
How swiftly and with peril
They gather all good things,
The high horns of the forest beasts,
Or the secret stones of kings.
"For Rome was given to rule the world,
And gat of it little joy--
But we, but we shall enjoy the world,
The whole huge world a toy.
"Great wine like blood from Burgundy,
Cloaks like the clouds from Tyre,
And marble like solid moonlight,
And gold like frozen fire.
"Smells that a man might swill in a cup,
Stones that a man might eat,
And the great smooth women like ivory
That the Turks sell in the street."
He sang the song of the thief of the world,
And the gods that love the thief;
And he yelled aloud at the cloister-yards,
Where men go gathering grief.
"Well have you sung, O stranger,
Of death on the dyke in Wales,
Your chief was a bracelet-giver;
But the red unbroken river
Of a race runs not for ever,
But suddenly it fails.
"Doubtless your sires were sword-swingers
When they waded fresh from foam,
Before they were turned to women
By the god of the nails from Rome;
"But since you bent to the shaven men,
Who neither lust nor smite,
Thunder of Thor, we hunt you
A hare on the mountain height."
King Guthrum smiled a little,
And said, "It is enough,
Nephew, let Elf retune the string;
A boy must needs like bellowing,
But the old ears of a careful king
Are glad of songs less rough."
Blue-eyed was Elf the minstrel,
With womanish hair and ring,
Yet heavy was his hand on sword,
Though light upon the string.
And as he stirred the strings of the harp
To notes but four or five,
The heart of each man moved in him
Like a babe buried alive.
And they felt the land of the folk-songs
Spread southward of the Dane,
And they heard the good Rhine flowing
In the heart of all Allemagne.
They felt the land of the folk-songs,
Where the gifts hang on the tree,
Where the girls give ale at morning
And the tears come easily.
The mighty people, womanlike,
That have pleasure in their pain
As he sang of Balder beautiful,
Whom the heavens loved in vain.
As he sang of Balder beautiful,
Whom the heavens could not save,
Till the world was like a sea of tears
And every soul a wave.
"There is always a thing forgotten
When all the world goes well;
A thing forgotten, as long ago,
When the gods forgot the mistletoe,
And soundless as an arrow of snow
The arrow of anguish fell.
"The thing on the blind side of the heart,
On the wrong side of the door,
The green plant groweth, menacing
Almighty lovers in the spring;
There is always a forgotten thing,
And love is not secure."
And all that sat by the fire were sad,
Save Ogier, who was stern,
And his eyes hardened, even to stones,
As he took the harp in turn;
Earl Ogier of the Stone and Sling
Was odd to ear and sight,
Old he was, but his locks were red,
And jests were all the words he said
Yet he was sad at board and bed
And savage in the fight.
"You sing of the young gods easily
In the days when you are young;
But I go smelling yew and sods,
And I know there are gods behind the gods,
Gods that are best unsung.
"And a man grows ugly for women,
And a man grows dull with ale,
Well if he find in his soul at last
Fury, that does not fail.
"The wrath of the gods behind the gods
Who would rend all gods and men,
Well if the old man's heart hath still
Wheels sped of rage and roaring will,
Like cataracts to break down and kill,
Well for the old man then--
"While there is one tall shrine to shake,
Or one live man to rend;
For the wrath of the gods behind the gods
Who are weary to make an end.
"There lives one moment for a man
When the door at his shoulder shakes,
When the taut rope parts under the pull,
And the barest branch is beautiful
One moment, while it breaks.
"So rides my soul upon the sea
That drinks the howling ships,
Though in black jest it bows and nods
Under the moons with silver rods,
I know it is roaring at the gods,
Waiting the last eclipse.
"And in the last eclipse the sea
Shall stand up like a tower,
Above all moons made dark and riven,
Hold up its foaming head in heaven,
And laugh, knowing its hour.
"And the high ones in the happy town
Propped of the planets seven,
Shall know a new light in the mind,
A noise about them and behind,
Shall hear an awful voice, and find
Foam in the courts of heaven.
"And you that sit by the fire are young,
And true love waits for you;
But the king and I grow old, grow old,
And hate alone is true."
And Guthrum shook his head but smiled,
For he was a mighty clerk,
And had read lines in the Latin books
When all the north was dark.
He said, "I am older than you, Ogier;
Not all things would I rend,
For whether life be bad or good
It is best to abide the end."
He took the great harp wearily,
Even Guthrum of the Danes,
With wide eyes bright as the one long day
On the long polar plains.
For he sang of a wheel returning,
And the mire trod back to mire,
And how red hells and golden heavens
Are castles in the fire.
"It is good to sit where the good tales go,
To sit as our fathers sat;
But the hour shall come after his youth,
When a man shall know not tales but truth,
And his heart fail thereat.
"When he shall read what is written
So plain in clouds and clods,
When he shall hunger without hope
Even for evil gods.
"For this is a heavy matter,
And the truth is cold to tell;
Do we not know, have we not heard,
The soul is like a lost bird,
The body a broken shell.
"And a man hopes, being ignorant,
Till in white woods apart
He finds at last the lost bird dead:
And a man may still lift up his head
But never more his heart.
"There comes no noise but weeping
Out of the ancient sky,
And a tear is in the tiniest flower
Because the gods must die.
"The little brooks are very sweet,
Like a girl's ribbons curled,
But the great sea is bitter
That washes all the world.
"Strong are the Roman roses,
Or the free flowers of the heath,
But every flower, like a flower of the sea,
Smelleth with the salt of death.
"And the heart of the locked battle
Is the happiest place for men;
When shrieking souls as shafts go by
And many have died and all may die;
Though this word be a mystery,
Death is most distant then.
"Death blazes bright above the cup,
And clear above the crown;
But in that dream of battle
We seem to tread it down.
"Wherefore I am a great king,
And waste the world in vain,
Because man hath not other power,
Save that in dealing death for dower,
He may forget it for an hour
To remember it again."
And slowly his hands and thoughtfully
Fell from the lifted lyre,
And the owls moaned from the mighty trees
Till Alfred caught it to his knees
And smote it as in ire.
He heaved the head of the harp on high
And swept the framework barred,
And his stroke had all the rattle and spark
Of horses flying hard.
"When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;
"He brake Him and betrayed Him,
And fast and far he fell,
Till you and I may stretch our necks
And burn our beards in hell.
"But though I lie on the floor of the world,
With the seven sins for rods,
I would rather fall with Adam
Than rise with all your gods.
"What have the strong gods given?
Where have the glad gods led?
When Guthrum sits on a hero's throne
And asks if he is dead?
"Sirs, I am but a nameless man,
A rhymester without home,
Yet since I come of the Wessex clay
And carry the cross of Rome,
"I will even answer the mighty earl
That asked of Wessex men
Why they be meek and monkish folk,
And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke;
What sign have we save blood and smoke?
Here is my answer then.
"That on you is fallen the shadow,
And not upon the Name;
That though we scatter and though we fly,
And you hang over us like the sky,
You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.
"That though you hunt the Christian man
Like a hare on the hill-side,
The hare has still more heart to run
Than you have heart to ride.
"That though all lances split on you,
All swords be heaved in vain,
We have more lust again to lose
Than you to win again.
"Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,
But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;
"Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;
"Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.
"Nor monkish order only
Slides down, as field to fen,
All things achieved and chosen pass,
As the White Horse fades in the grass,
No work of Christian men.
"Ere the sad gods that made your gods
Saw their sad sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale,
That you have left to darken and fail,
Was cut out of the grass.
"Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.
"For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God's death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow."
And the King, with harp on shoulder,
Stood up and ceased his song;
And the owls moaned from the mighty trees,
And the Danes laughed loud and long.
BOOK IV THE WOMAN IN THE FOREST
Thick thunder of the snorting swine,
Enormous in the gloam,
Rending among all roots that cling,
And the wild horses whinnying,
Were the night's noises when the King
Shouldering his harp, went home.
With eyes of owl and feet of fox,
Full of all thoughts he went;
He marked the tilt of the pagan camp,
The paling of pine, the sentries' tramp,
And the one great stolen altar-lamp
Over Guthrum in his tent.
By scrub and thorn in Ethandune
That night the foe had lain;
Whence ran across the heather grey
The old stones of a Roman way;
And in a wood not far away
The pale road split in twain.
He marked the wood and the cloven ways
With an old captain's eyes,
And he thought how many a time had he
Sought to see Doom he could not see;
How ruin had come and victory,
And both were a surprise.
Even so he had watched and wondered
Under Ashdown from the plains;
With Ethelred praying in his tent,
Till the white hawthorn swung and bent,
As Alfred rushed his spears and rent
The shield-wall of the Danes.
Even so he had watched and wondered,
Knowing neither less nor more,
Till all his lords lay dying,
And axes on axes plying,
Flung him, and drove him flying
Like a pirate to the shore.
Wise he had been before defeat,
And wise before success;
Wise in both hours and ignorant,
Knowing neither more nor less.
As he went down to the river-hut
He knew a night-shade scent,
Owls did as evil cherubs rise,
With little wings and lantern eyes,
As though he sank through the under-skies;
But down and down he went.
As he went down to the river-hut
He went as one that fell;
Seeing the high forest domes and spars.
Dim green or torn with golden scars,
As the proud look up at the evil stars,
In the red heavens of hell.
For he must meet by the river-hut
Them he had bidden to arm,
Mark from the towers of Italy,
And Colan of the Sacred Tree,
And Eldred who beside the sea
Held heavily his farm.
The roof leaned gaping to the grass,
As a monstrous mushroom lies;
Echoing and empty seemed the place;
But opened in a little space
A great grey woman with scarred face
And strong and humbled eyes.
King Alfred was but a meagre man,
Bright eyed, but lean and pale:
And swordless, with his harp and rags,
He seemed a beggar, such as lags
Looking for crusts and ale.
And the woman, with a woman's eyes
Of pity at once and ire,
Said, when that she had glared a span,
"There is a cake for any man
If he will watch the fire."
And Alfred, bowing heavily,
Sat down the fire to stir,
And even as the woman pitied him
So did he pity her.
Saying, "O great heart in the night,
O best cast forth for worst,
Twilight shall melt and morning stir,
And no kind thing shall come to her,
Till God shall turn the world over
And all the last are first.
"And well may God with the serving-folk
Cast in His dreadful lot;
Is not He too a servant,
And is not He forgot ?
"For was not God my gardener
And silent like a slave;
That opened oaks on the uplands
Or thicket in graveyard gave?
"And was not God my armourer,
All patient and unpaid,
That sealed my skull as a helmet,
And ribs for hauberk made?
"Did not a great grey servant
Of all my sires and me,
Build this pavilion of the pines,
And herd the fowls and fill the vines,
And labour and pass and leave no signs
Save mercy and mystery?
"For God is a great servant,
And rose before the day,
From some primordial slumber torn;
But all we living later born
Sleep on, and rise after the morn,
And the Lord has gone away.
"On things half sprung from sleeping,
All sleepy suns have shone,
They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees,
The beasts blink upon hands and knees,
Man is awake and does and sees--
But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle
Or speak of the Holiest,
Save in faint figures and failing words,
Who loves, yet laughs among the swords,
Labours, and is at rest?
"But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.
"Wherefore was God in Golgotha,
Slain as a serf is slain;
And hate He had of prince and peer,
And love He had and made good cheer,
Of them that, like this woman here,
Go powerfully in pain.
"But in this grey morn of man's life,
Cometh sometime to the mind
A little light that leaps and flies,
Like a star blown on the wind.
"A star of nowhere, a nameless star,
A light that spins and swirls,
And cries that even in hedge and hill,
Even on earth, it may go ill
At last with the evil earls.
"A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star,
On the waste wind whirled and driven;
But it seems to sing of a wilder worth,
A time discrowned of doom and birth,
And the kingdom of the poor on earth
Come, as it is in heaven.
"But even though such days endure,
How shall it profit her?
Who shall go groaning to the grave,
With many a meek and mighty slave,
Field-breaker and fisher on the wave,
And woodman and waggoner.
"Bake ye the big world all again
A cake with kinder leaven;
Yet these are sorry evermore--
Unless there be a little door,
A little door in heaven."
And as he wept for the woman
He let her business be,
And like his royal oath and rash
The good food fell upon the ash
And blackened instantly.
Screaming, the woman caught a cake
Yet burning from the bar,
And struck him suddenly on the face,
Leaving a scarlet scar.
King Alfred stood up wordless,
A man dead with surprise,
And torture stood and the evil things
That are in the childish hearts of kings
An instant in his eyes.
And even as he stood and stared
Drew round him in the dusk
Those friends creeping from far-off farms,
Marcus with all his slaves in arms,
And the strange spears hung with ancient charms
Of Colan of the Usk.
With one whole farm marching afoot
The trampled road resounds,
Farm-hands and farm-beasts blundering by
And jars of mead and stores of rye,
Where Eldred strode above his high
And thunder-throated hounds.
And grey cattle and silver lowed
Against the unlifted morn,
And straw clung to the spear-shafts tall.
And a boy went before them all
Blowing a ram's horn.
As mocking such rude revelry,
The dim clan of the Gael
Came like a bad king's burial-end,
With dismal robes that drop and rend
And demon pipes that wail--
In long, outlandish garments,
Torn, though of antique worth,
With Druid beards and Druid spears,
As a resurrected race appears
Out of an elder earth.
And though the King had called them forth
And knew them for his own,
So still each eye stood like a gem,
So spectral hung each broidered hem,
Grey carven men he fancied them,
Hewn in an age of stone.
And the two wild peoples of the north
Stood fronting in the gloam,
And heard and knew each in its mind
The third great thunder on the wind,
The living walls that hedge mankind,
The walking walls of Rome.
Mark's were the mixed tribes of the west,
Of many a hue and strain,
Gurth, with rank hair like yellow grass,
And the Cornish fisher, Gorlias,
And Halmer, come from his first mass,
Lately baptized, a Dane.
But like one man in armour
Those hundreds trod the field,
From red Arabia to the Tyne
The earth had heard that marching-line,
Since the cry on the hill Capitoline,
And the fall of the golden shield.
And the earth shook and the King stood still
Under the greenwood bough,
And the smoking cake lay at his feet
And the blow was on his brow.
Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
For the laughter of the King.
And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
Under the greenwood tree--
The giant laughter of Christian men
That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack's away with his master's lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
The farmer with all his flails;
Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
Yet end not all in scorning--
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
And Christmas Day in the morning.
"Now here is a good warrant,"
Cried Alfred, "by my sword;
For he that is struck for an ill servant
Should be a kind lord.
"He that has been a servant
Knows more than priests and kings,
But he that has been an ill servant,
He knows all earthly things.
"Pride flings frail palaces at the sky,
As a man flings up sand,
But the firm feet of humility
Take hold of heavy land.
"Pride juggles with her toppling towers,
They strike the sun and cease,
But the firm feet of humility
They grip the ground like trees.
"He that hath failed in a little thing
Hath a sign upon the brow;
And the Earls of the Great Army
Have no such seal to show.
"The red print on my forehead,
Small flame for a red star,
In the van of the violent marching, then
When the sky is torn of the trumpets ten,
And the hands of the happy howling men
Fling wide the gates of war.
"This blow that I return not
Ten times will I return
On kings and earls of all degree,
And armies wide as empires be
Shall slide like landslips to the sea
If the red star burn.
"One man shall drive a hundred,
As the dead kings drave;
Before me rocking hosts be riven,
And battering cohorts backwards driven,
For I am the first king known of Heaven
That has been struck like a slave.
"Up on the old white road, brothers,
Up on the Roman walls!
For this is the night of the drawing of swords,
And the tainted tower of the heathen hordes
Leans to our hammers, fires and cords,
Leans a little and falls.
"Follow the star that lives and leaps,
Follow the sword that sings,
For we go gathering heathen men,
A terrible harvest, ten by ten,
As the wrath of the last red autumn--then
When Christ reaps down the kings.
"Follow a light that leaps and spins,
Follow the fire unfurled!
For riseth up against realm and rod,
A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod,
The last lost giant, even God,
Is risen against the world."
Roaring they went o'er the Roman wall,
And roaring up the lane,
Their torches tossed a ladder of fire,
Higher their hymn was heard and higher,
More sweet for hate and for heart's desire,
And up in the northern scrub and brier,
They fell upon the Dane.
BOOK V ETHANDUNE: THE FIRST STROKE
King Guthrum was a dread king,
Like death out of the north;
Shrines without name or number
He rent and rolled as lumber,
From Chester to the Humber
He drove his foemen forth.
The Roman villas heard him
In the valley of the Thames,
Come over the hills roaring
Above their roofs, and pouring
On spire and stair and flooring
Brimstone and pitch and flames.
Sheer o'er the great chalk uplands
And the hill of the Horse went he,
Till high on Hampshire beacons
He saw the southern sea.
High on the heights of Wessex
He saw the southern brine,
And turned him to a conquered land,
And where the northern thornwoods stand,
And the road parts on either hand,
There came to him a sign.
King Guthrum was a war-chief,
A wise man in the field,
And though he prospered well, and knew
How Alfred's folk were sad and few,
Not less with weighty care he drew
Long lines for pike and shield.
King Guthrum lay on the upper land,
On a single road at gaze,
And his foe must come with lean array,
Up the left arm of the cloven way,
To the meeting of the ways.
And long ere the noise of armour,
An hour ere the break of light,
The woods awoke with crash and cry,
And the birds sprang clamouring harsh and high,
And the rabbits ran like an elves' army
Ere Alfred came in sight.
The live wood came at Guthrum,
On foot and claw and wing,
The nests were noisy overhead,
For Alfred and the star of red,
All life went forth, and the forest fled
Before the face of the King.
But halted in the woodways
Christ's few were grim and grey,
And each with a small, far, bird-like sight
Saw the high folly of the fight;
And though strange joys had grown in the night,
Despair grew with the day.
And when white dawn crawled through the wood,
Like cold foam of a flood,
Then weakened every warrior's mood,
In hope, though not in hardihood;
And each man sorrowed as he stood
In the fashion of his blood.
For the Saxon Franklin sorrowed
For the things that had been fair;
For the dear dead woman, crimson-clad,
And the great feasts and the friends he had;
But the Celtic prince's soul was sad
For the things that never were.
In the eyes Italian all things
But a black laughter died;
And Alfred flung his shield to earth
And smote his breast and cried--
"I wronged a man to his slaying,
And a woman to her shame,
And once I looked on a sworn maid
That was wed to the Holy Name.
"And once I took my neighbour's wife,
That was bound to an eastland man,
In the starkness of my evil youth,
Before my griefs began.
"People, if you have any prayers,
Say prayers for me:
And lay me under a Christian stone
In that lost land I thought my own,
To wait till the holy horn is blown,
And all poor men are free."
Then Eldred of the idle farm
Leaned on his ancient sword,
As fell his heavy words and few;
And his eyes were of such alien blue
As gleams where the Northman saileth new
Into an unknown fiord.
"I was a fool and wasted ale--
My slaves found it sweet;
I was a fool and wasted bread,
And the birds had bread to eat.
"The kings go up and the kings go down,
And who knows who shall rule;
Next night a king may starve or sleep,
But men and birds and beasts shall weep
At the burial of a fool.
"O, drunkards in my cellar,
Boys in my apple tree,
The world grows stern and strange and new,
And wise men shall govern you,
And you shall weep for me.
"But yoke me my own oxen,
Down to my own farm;
My own dog will whine for me,
My own friends will bend the knee,
And the foes I slew openly
Have never wished me harm."
And all were moved a little,
But Colan stood apart,
Having first pity, and after
Hearing, like rat in rafter,
That little worm of laughter
That eats the Irish heart.
And his grey-green eyes were cruel,
And the smile of his mouth waxed hard,
And he said, "And when did Britain
Become your burying-yard?
"Before the Romans lit the land,
When schools and monks were none,
We reared such stones to the sun-god
As might put out the sun.
"The tall trees of Britain
We worshipped and were wise,
But you shall raid the whole land through
And never a tree shall talk to you,
Though every leaf is a tongue taught true
And the forest is full of eyes.
"On one round hill to the seaward
The trees grow tall and grey
And the trees talk together
When all men are away.
"O'er a few round hills forgotten
The trees grow tall in rings,
And the trees talk together
Of many pagan things.
"Yet I could lie and listen
With a cross upon my clay,
And hear unhurt for ever
What the trees of Britain say."
A proud man was the Roman,
His speech a single one,
But his eyes were like an eagle's eyes
That is staring at the sun.
"Dig for me where I die," he said,
"If first or last I fall--
Dead on the fell at the first charge,
Or dead by Wantage wall;
"Lift not my head from bloody ground,
Bear not my body home,
For all the earth is Roman earth
And I shall die in Rome."
Then Alfred, King of England,
Bade blow the horns of war,
And fling the Golden Dragon out,
With crackle and acclaim and shout,
Scrolled and aflame and far.
And under the Golden Dragon
Went Wessex all along,
Past the sharp point of the cloven ways,
Out from the black wood into the blaze
Of sun and steel and song.
And when they came to the open land
They wheeled, deployed and stood;
Midmost were Marcus and the King,
And Eldred on the right-hand wing,
And leftwards Colan darkling,
In the last shade of the wood.
But the Earls of the Great Army
Lay like a long half moon,
Ten poles before their palisades,
With wide-winged helms and runic blades
Red giants of an age of raids,
In the thornland of Ethandune.
Midmost the saddles rose and swayed,
And a stir of horses' manes,
Where Guthrum and a few rode high
On horses seized in victory;
But Ogier went on foot to die,
In the old way of the Danes.
Far to the King's left Elf the bard
Led on the eastern wing
With songs and spells that change the blood;
And on the King's right Harold stood,
The kinsman of the King.
Young Harold, coarse, with colours gay,
Smoking with oil and musk,
And the pleasant violence of the young,
Pushed through his people, giving tongue
Foewards, where, grey as cobwebs hung,
The banners of the Usk.
But as he came before his line
A little space along,
His beardless face broke into mirth,
And he cried: "What broken bits of earth
Are here? For what their clothes are worth
I would sell them for a song."
For Colan was hung with raiment
Tattered like autumn leaves,
And his men were all as thin as saints,
And all as poor as thieves.
No bows nor slings nor bolts they bore,
But bills and pikes ill-made;
And none but Colan bore a sword,
And rusty was its blade.
And Colan's eyes with mystery
And iron laughter stirred,
And he spoke aloud, but lightly
Not labouring to be heard.
"Oh, truly we be broken hearts,
For that cause, it is said,
We light our candles to that Lord
That broke Himself for bread.
"But though we hold but bitterly
What land the Saxon leaves,
Though Ireland be but a land of saints,
And Wales a land of thieves,
"I say you yet shall weary
Of the working of your word,
That stricken spirits never strike
Nor lean hands hold a sword.
"And if ever ye ride in Ireland,
The jest may yet be said,
There is the land of broken hearts,
And the land of broken heads."
Not less barbarian laughter
Choked Harold like a flood,
"And shall I fight with scarecrows
That am of Guthrum's blood?
"Meeting may be of war-men,
Where the best war-man wins;
But all this carrion a man shoots
Before the fight begins."
And stopping in his onward strides,
He snatched a bow in scorn
From some mean slave, and bent it on
Colan, whose doom grew dark; and shone
Stars evil over Caerleon,
In the place where he was born.
For Colan had not bow nor sling,
On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.
To his great gold ear-ring Harold
Tugged back the feathered tail,
And swift had sprung the arrow,
But swifter sprang the Gael.
Whirling the one sword round his head,
A great wheel in the sun,
He sent it splendid through the sky,
Flying before the shaft could fly--
It smote Earl Harold over the eye,
And blood began to run.
Colan stood bare and weaponless,
Earl Harold, as in pain,
Strove for a smile, put hand to head,
Stumbled and suddenly fell dead;
And the small white daisies all waxed red
With blood out of his brain.
And all at that marvel of the sword,
Cast like a stone to slay,
Cried out. Said Alfred: "Who would see
Signs, must give all things. Verily
Man shall not taste of victory
Till he throws his sword away."
Then Alfred, prince of England,
And all the Christian earls,
Unhooked their swords and held them up,
Each offered to Colan, like a cup
Of chrysolite and pearls.
And the King said, "Do thou take my sword
Who have done this deed of fire,
For this is the manner of Christian men,
Whether of steel or priestly pen,
That they cast their hearts out of their ken
To get their heart's desire.
"And whether ye swear a hive of monks,
Or one fair wife to friend,
This is the manner of Christian men,
That their oath endures the end.
"For love, our Lord, at the end of the world,
Sits a red horse like a throne,
With a brazen helm and an iron bow,
But one arrow alone.
"Love with the shield of the Broken Heart
Ever his bow doth bend,
With a single shaft for a single prize,
And the ultimate bolt that parts and flies
Comes with a thunder of split skies,
And a sound of souls that rend.
"So shall you earn a king's sword,
Who cast your sword away."
And the King took, with a random eye,
A rude axe from a hind hard by
And turned him to the fray.
For the swords of the Earls of Daneland
Flamed round the fallen lord.
The first blood woke the trumpet-tune,
As in monk's rhyme or wizard's rune,
Beginneth the battle of Ethandune
With the throwing of the sword.
BOOK VI ETHANDUNE: THE SLAYING OF THE CHIEFS
As the sea flooding the flat sands
Flew on the sea-born horde,
The two hosts shocked with dust and din,
Left of the Latian paladin,
Clanged all Prince Harold's howling kin
On Colan and the sword.
Crashed in the midst on Marcus,
Ogier with Guthrum by,
And eastward of such central stir,
Far to the right and faintlier,
The house of Elf the harp-player,
Struck Eldred's with a cry.
The centre swat for weariness,
Stemming the scream
The Aeneid of Virgil: Book 12
WHEN Turnus saw the Latins leave the field,
Their armies broken, and their courage quell’d,
Himself become the mark of public spite,
His honor question’d for the promis’d fight;
The more he was with vulgar hate oppress’d, 5
The more his fury boil’d within his breast:
He rous’d his vigor for the last debate,
And rais’d his haughty soul to meet his fate.
As, when the swains the Libyan lion chase,
He makes a sour retreat, nor mends his pace; 10
But, if the pointed jav’lin pierce his side,
The lordly beast returns with double pride:
He wrenches out the steel, he roars for pain;
His sides he lashes, and erects his mane:
So Turnus fares; his eyeballs flash with fire, 15
Thro’ his wide nostrils clouds of smoke expire.
Trembling with rage, around the court he ran,
At length approach’d the king, and thus began:
“No more excuses or delays: I stand
In arms prepar’d to combat, hand to hand, 20
This base deserter of his native land.
The Trojan, by his word, is bound to take
The same conditions which himself did make.
Renew the truce; the solemn rites prepare,
And to my single virtue trust the war. 25
The Latians unconcern’d shall see the fight;
This arm unaided shall assert your right:
Then, if my prostrate body press the plain,
To him the crown and beauteous bride remain.”
To whom the king sedately thus replied: 30
“Brave youth, the more your valor has been tried,
The more becomes it us, with due respect,
To weigh the chance of war, which you neglect.
You want not wealth, or a successive throne,
Or cities which your arms have made your own: 35
My towns and treasures are at your command,
And stor’d with blooming beauties is my land;
Laurentum more than one Lavinia sees,
Unmarried, fair, of noble families.
Now let me speak, and you with patience hear, 40
Things which perhaps may grate a lover’s ear,
But sound advice, proceeding from a heart
Sincerely yours, and free from fraudful art.
The gods, by signs, have manifestly shown,
No prince Italian born should heir my throne: 45
Oft have our augurs, in prediction skill’d,
And oft our priests, a foreign son reveal’d.
Yet, won by worth that cannot be withstood,
Brib’d by my kindness to my kindred blood,
Urg’d by my wife, who would not be denied, 50
I promis’d my Lavinia for your bride:
Her from her plighted lord by force I took;
All ties of treaties, and of honor, broke:
On your account I wag’d an impious war—
With what success, ’t is needless to declare; 55
I and my subjects feel, and you have had your share.
Twice vanquish’d while in bloody fields we strive,
Scarce in our walls we keep our hopes alive:
The rolling flood runs warm with human gore;
The bones of Latians blanch the neighb’ring shore. 60
Why put I not an end to this debate,
Still unresolv’d, and still a slave to fate?
If Turnus’ death a lasting peace can give,
Why should I not procure it whilst you live?
Should I to doubtful arms your youth betray, 65
What would my kinsmen the Rutulians say?
And, should you fall in fight, (which Heav’n defend!)
How curse the cause which hasten’d to his end
The daughter’s lover and the father’s friend?
Weigh in your mind the various chance of war; 70
Pity your parent’s age, and ease his care.”
Such balmy words he pour’d, but all in vain:
The proffer’d med’cine but provok’d the pain.
The wrathful youth, disdaining the relief,
With intermitting sobs thus vents his grief: 75
“The care, O best of fathers, which you take
For my concerns, at my desire forsake.
Permit me not to languish out my days,
But make the best exchange of life for praise.
This arm, this lance, can well dispute the prize; 80
And the blood follows, where the weapon flies.
His goddess mother is not near, to shroud
The flying coward with an empty cloud.”
But now the queen, who fear’d for Turnus’ life,
And loath’d the hard conditions of the strife, 85
Held him by force; and, dying in his death,
In these sad accents gave her sorrow breath:
“O Turnus, I adjure thee by these tears,
And whate’er price Amata’s honor bears
Within thy breast, since thou art all my hope, 90
My sickly mind’s repose, my sinking age’s prop;
Since on the safety of thy life alone
Depends Latinus, and the Latian throne:
Refuse me not this one, this only pray’r,
To waive the combat, and pursue the war. 95
Whatever chance attends this fatal strife,
Think it includes, in thine, Amata’s life.
I cannot live a slave, or see my throne
Usurp’d by strangers or a Trojan son.”
At this, a flood of tears Lavinia shed; 100
A crimson blush her beauteous face o’erspread,
Varying her cheeks by turns with white and red.
The driving colors, never at a stay,
Run here and there, and flush, and fade away.
Delightful change! Thus Indian iv’ry shows, 105
Which with the bord’ring paint of purple glows;
Or lilies damask’d by the neighb’ring rose.
The lover gaz’d, and, burning with desire,
The more he look’d, the more he fed the fire:
Revenge, and jealous rage, and secret spite, 110
Roll in his breast, and rouse him to the fight.
Then fixing on the queen his ardent eyes,
Firm to his first intent, he thus replies:
“O mother, do not by your tears prepare
Such boding omens, and prejudge the war. 115
Resolv’d on fight, I am no longer free
To shun my death, if Heav’n my death decree.”
Then turning to the herald, thus pursues:
“Go, greet the Trojan with ungrateful news;
Denounce from me, that, when to-morrow’s light 120
Shall gild the heav’ns, he need not urge the fight;
The Trojan and Rutulian troops no more
Shall dye, with mutual blood, the Latian shore:
Our single swords the quarrel shall decide,
And to the victor be the beauteous bride.” 125
He said, and striding on, with speedy pace,
He sought his coursers of the Thracian race.
At his approach they toss their heads on high,
And, proudly neighing, promise victory.
The sires of these Orythia sent from far, 130
To grace Pilumnus, when he went to war.
The drifts of Thracian snows were scarce so white,
Nor northern winds in fleetness match’d their flight.
Officious grooms stand ready by his side;
And some with combs their flowing manes divide, 135
And others stroke their chests and gently soothe their pride.
He sheath’d his limbs in arms; a temper’d mass
Of golden metal those, and mountain brass.
Then to his head his glitt’ring helm he tied,
And girt his faithful fauchion to his side. 140
In his Ætnæan forge, the God of Fire
That fauchion labor’d for the hero’s sire;
Immortal keenness on the blade bestow’d,
And plung’d it hissing in the Stygian flood.
Propp’d on a pillar, which the ceiling bore, 145
Was plac’d the lance Auruncan Actor wore;
Which with such force he brandish’d in his hand,
The tough ash trembled like an osier wand:
Then cried: “O pond’rous spoil of Actor slain,
And never yet by Turnus toss’d in vain, 150
Fail not this day thy wonted force; but go,
Sent by this hand, to pierce the Trojan foe!
Give me to tear his corslet from his breast,
And from that eunuch head to rend the crest;
Dragg’d in the dust, his frizzled hair to soil, 155
Hot from the vexing ir’n, and smear’d with fragrant oil!”
Thus while he raves, from his wide nostrils flies
A fiery steam, and sparkles from his eyes.
So fares the bull in his lov’d female’s sight:
Proudly he bellows, and preludes the fight; 160
He tries his goring horns against a tree,
And meditates his absent enemy;
He pushes at the winds; he digs the strand
With his black hoofs, and spurns the yellow sand.
Nor less the Trojan, in his Lemnian arms, 165
To future fight his manly courage warms:
He whets his fury, and with joy prepares
To terminate at once the ling’ring wars;
To cheer his chiefs and tender son, relates
What Heav’n had promis’d, and expounds the fates. 170
Then to the Latian king he sends, to cease
The rage of arms, and ratify the peace.
The morn ensuing, from the mountain’s height,
Had scarcely spread the skies with rosy light;
Th’ ethereal coursers, bounding from the sea, 175
From out their flaming nostrils breath’d the day;
When now the Trojan and Rutulian guard,
In friendly labor join’d, the list prepar’d.
Beneath the walls they measure out the space;
Then sacred altars rear, on sods of grass, 180
Where, with religious rites, their common gods they place.
In purest white the priests their heads attire;
And living waters bear, and holy fire;
And, o’er their linen hoods and shaded hair,
Long twisted wreaths of sacred vervain wear, 185
In order issuing from the town appears
The Latin legion, arm’d with pointed spears;
And from the fields, advancing on a line,
The Trojan and the Tuscan forces join:
Their various arms afford a pleasing sight; 190
A peaceful train they seem, in peace prepar’d for fight.
Betwixt the ranks the proud commanders ride,
Glitt’ring with gold, and vests in purple dyed;
Here Mnestheus, author of the Memmian line,
And there Messapus, born of seed divine. 195
The sign is giv’n; and, round the listed space,
Each man in order fills his proper place.
Reclining on their ample shields, they stand,
And fix their pointed lances in the sand.
Now, studious of the sight, a num’rous throng 200
Of either sex promiscuous, old and young,
Swarm from the town: by those who rest behind,
The gates and walls and houses’ tops are lin’d.
Meantime the Queen of Heav’n beheld the sight,
With eyes unpleas’d, from Mount Albano’s height 205
(Since call’d Albano by succeeding fame,
But then an empty hill, without a name).
She thence survey’d the field, the Trojan pow’rs,
The Latian squadrons, and Laurentine tow’rs.
Then thus the goddess of the skies bespake, 210
With sighs and tears, the goddess of the lake,
King Turnus’ sister, once a lovely maid,
Ere to the lust of lawless Jove betray’d:
Compress’d by force, but, by the grateful god,
Now made the Nais of the neighb’ring flood. 215
“O nymph, the pride of living lakes,” said she,
“O most renown’d, and most belov’d by me,
Long hast thou known, nor need I to record,
The wanton sallies of my wand’ring lord.
Of ev’ry Latian fair whom Jove misled 220
To mount by stealth my violated bed,
To thee alone I grudg’d not his embrace,
But gave a part of heav’n, and an unenvied place.
Now learn from me thy near approaching grief,
Nor think my wishes want to thy relief. 225
While fortune favor’d, nor Heav’n’s King denied
To lend my succor to the Latian side,
I sav’d thy brother, and the sinking state:
But now he struggles with unequal fate,
And goes, with gods averse, o’ermatch’d in might, 230
To meet inevitable death in fight;
Nor must I break the truce, nor can sustain the sight.
Thou, if thou dar’st, thy present aid supply;
It well becomes a sister’s care to try.”
At this the lovely nymph, with grief oppress’d, 235
Thrice tore her hair, and beat her comely breast.
To whom Saturnia thus: “Thy tears are late:
Haste, snatch him, if he can be snatch’d from fate:
New tumults kindle; violate the truce:
Who knows what changeful fortune may produce? 240
’T is not a crime t’ attempt what I decree;
Or, if it were, discharge the crime on me.”
She said, and, sailing on the winged wind,
Left the sad nymph suspended in her mind.
And now in pomp the peaceful kings appear: 245
Four steeds the chariot of Latinus bear;
Twelve golden beams around his temples play,
To mark his lineage from the God of Day.
Two snowy coursers Turnus’ chariot yoke,
And in his hand two massy spears he shook: 250
Then issued from the camp, in arms divine,
Æneas, author of the Roman line;
And by his side Ascanius took his place,
The second hope of Rome’s immortal race.
Adorn’d in white, a rev’rend priest appears, 255
And off’rings to the flaming altars bears;
A porket, and a lamb that never suffer’d shears.
Then to the rising sun he turns his eyes,
And strews the beasts, design’d for sacrifice,
With salt and meal: with like officious care 260
He marks their foreheads, and he clips their hair.
Betwixt their horns the purple wine he sheds;
With the same gen’rous juice the flame he feeds.
Æneas then unsheath’d his shining sword,
And thus with pious pray’rs the gods ador’d: 265
“All-seeing sun, and thou, Ausonian soil,
For which I have sustain’d so long a toil,
Thou, King of Heav’n, and thou, the Queen of Air,
Propitious now, and reconcil’d by pray’r;
Thou, God of War, whose unresisted sway 270
The labors and events of arms obey;
Ye living fountains, and ye running floods,
All pow’rs of ocean, all ethereal gods,
Hear, and bear record: if I fall in field,
Or, recreant in the fight, to Turnus yield, 275
My Trojans shall encrease Evander’s town;
Ascanius shall renounce th’ Ausonian crown:
All claims, all questions of debate, shall cease;
Nor he, nor they, with force infringe the peace.
But, if my juster arms prevail in fight, 280
(As sure they shall, if I divine aright,)
My Trojans shall not o’er th’ Italians reign:
Both equal, both unconquer’d shall remain,
Join’d in their laws, their lands, and their abodes;
I ask but altars for my weary gods. 285
The care of those religious rites be mine;
The crown to King Latinus I resign:
His be the sov’reign sway. Nor will I share
His pow’r in peace, or his command in war.
For me, my friends another town shall frame, 290
And bless the rising tow’rs with fair Lavinia’s name.”
Thus he. Then, with erected eyes and hands,
The Latian king before his altar stands.
“By the same heav’n,” said he, “and earth, and main,
And all the pow’rs that all the three contain; 295
By hell below, and by that upper god
Whose thunder signs the peace, who seals it with his nod;
So let Latona’s double offspring hear,
And double-fronted Janus, what I swear:
I touch the sacred altars, touch the flames, 300
And all those pow’rs attest, and all their names;
Whatever chance befall on either side,
No term of time this union shall divide:
No force, no fortune, shall my vows unbind,
Or shake the steadfast tenor of my mind; 305
Not tho’ the circling seas should break their bound,
O’erflow the shores, or sap the solid ground;
Not tho’ the lamps of heav’n their spheres forsake,
Hurl’d down, and hissing in the nether lake:
Ev’n as this royal scepter” (for he bore 310
A scepter in his hand) “shall never more
Shoot out in branches, or renew the birth:
An orphan now, cut from the mother earth
By the keen ax, dishonor’d of its hair,
And cas’d in brass, for Latian kings to bear.” 315
When thus in public view the peace was tied
With solemn vows, and sworn on either side,
All dues perform’d which holy rites require;
The victim beasts are slain before the fire,
The trembling entrails from their bodies torn, 320
And to the fatten’d flames in chargers borne.
Already the Rutulians deem their man
O’ermatch’d in arms, before the fight began.
First rising fears are whisper’d thro’ the crowd;
Then, gath’ring sound, they murmur more aloud. 325
Now, side to side, they measure with their eyes
The champions’ bulk, their sinews, and their size:
The nearer they approach, the more is known
Th’ apparent disadvantage of their own.
Turnus himself appears in public sight 330
Conscious of fate, desponding of the fight.
Slowly he moves, and at his altar stands
With eyes dejected, and with trembling hands;
And, while he mutters undistinguish’d pray’rs,
A livid deadness in his cheeks appears. 335
With anxious pleasure when Juturna view’d
Th’ increasing fright of the mad multitude,
When their short sighs and thick’ning sobs she heard,
And found their ready minds for change prepar’d;
Dissembling her immortal form, she took 340
Camertus’ mien, his habit, and his look;
A chief of ancient blood; in arms well known
Was his great sire, and he his greater son.
His shape assum’d, amid the ranks she ran,
And humoring their first motions, thus began: 345
“For shame, Rutulians, can you bear the sight
Of one expos’d for all, in single fight?
Can we, before the face of heav’n, confess
Our courage colder, or our numbers less?
View all the Trojan host, th’ Arcadian band, 350
And Tuscan army; count ’em as they stand:
Undaunted to the battle if we go,
Scarce ev’ry second man will share a foe.
Turnus, ’t is true, in this unequal strife,
Shall lose, with honor, his devoted life, 355
Or change it rather for immortal fame,
Succeeding to the gods, from whence he came:
But you, a servile and inglorious band,
For foreign lords shall sow your native land,
Those fruitful fields your fighting fathers gain’d, 360
Which have so long their lazy sons sustain’d.”
With words like these, she carried her design:
A rising murmur runs along the line.
Then ev’n the city troops, and Latians, tir’d
With tedious war, seem with new souls inspir’d: 365
Their champion’s fate with pity they lament,
And of the league, so lately sworn, repent.
Nor fails the goddess to foment the rage
With lying wonders, and a false presage;
But adds a sign, which, present to their eyes, 370
Inspires new courage, and a glad surprise.
For, sudden, in the fiery tracts above,
Appears in pomp th’ imperial bird of Jove:
A plump of fowl he spies, that swim the lakes,
And o’er their heads his sounding pinions shakes; 375
Then, stooping on the fairest of the train,
In his strong talons truss’d a silver swan.
Th’ Italians wonder at th’ unusual sight;
But, while he lags, and labors in his flight,
Behold, the dastard fowl return anew, 380
And with united force the foe pursue:
Clam’rous around the royal hawk they fly,
And, thick’ning in a cloud, o’ershade the sky.
They cuff, they scratch, they cross his airy course;
Nor can th’ incumber’d bird sustain their force; 385
But vex’d, not vanquish’d, drops the pond’rous prey,
And, lighten’d of his burthen, wings his way.
Th’ Ausonian bands with shouts salute the sight,
Eager of action, and demand the fight.
Then King Tolumnius, vers’d in augurs’ arts, 390
Cries out, and thus his boasted skill imparts:
“At length ’t is granted, what I long desir’d!
This, this is what my frequent vows requir’d.
Ye gods, I take your omen, and obey.
Advance, my friends, and charge! I lead the way. 395
These are the foreign foes, whose impious band,
Like that rapacious bird, infest our land:
But soon, like him, they shall be forc’d to sea
By strength united, and forego the prey.
Your timely succor to your country bring, 400
Haste to the rescue, and redeem your king.”
He said; and, pressing onward thro’ the crew,
Pois’d in his lifted arm, his lance he threw.
The winged weapon, whistling in the wind,
Came driving on, nor miss’d the mark design’d. 405
At once the cornel rattled in the skies;
At once tumultuous shouts and clamors rise.
Nine brothers in a goodly band there stood,
Born of Arcadian mix’d with Tuscan blood,
Gylippus’ sons: the fatal jav’lin flew, 410
Aim’d at the midmost of the friendly crew.
A passage thro’ the jointed arms it found,
Just where the belt was to the body bound,
And struck the gentle youth extended on the ground.
Then, fir’d with pious rage, the gen’rous train 415
Run madly forward to revenge the slain.
And some with eager haste their jav’lins throw;
And some with sword in hand assault the foe.
The wish’d insult the Latine troops embrace,
And meet their ardor in the middle space. 420
The Trojans, Tuscans, and Arcadian line,
With equal courage obviate their design.
Peace leaves the violated fields, and hate
Both armies urges to their mutual fate.
With impious haste their altars are o’erturn’d, 425
The sacrifice half-broil’d, and half-unburn’d.
Thick storms of steel from either army fly,
And clouds of clashing darts obscure the sky;
Brands from the fire are missive weapons made,
With chargers, bowls, and all the priestly trade. 430
Latinus, frighted, hastens from the fray,
And bears his unregarded gods away.
These on their horses vault; those yoke the car;
The rest, with swords on high, run headlong to the war.
Messapus, eager to confound the peace, 435
Spurr’d his hot courser thro’ the fighting prease,
At King Aulestes, by his purple known
A Tuscan prince, and by his regal crown;
And, with a shock encount’ring, bore him down.
Backward he fell; and, as his fate design’d, 440
The ruins of an altar were behind:
There, pitching on his shoulders and his head,
Amid the scatt’ring fires he lay supinely spread.
The beamy spear, descending from above,
His cuirass pierc’d, and thro’ his body drove. 445
Then, with a scornful smile, the victor cries:
“The gods have found a fitter sacrifice.”
Greedy of spoils, th’ Italians strip the dead
Of his rich armor, and uncrown his head.
Priest Corynæus, arm’d his better hand, 450
From his own altar, with a blazing brand;
And, as Ebusus with a thund’ring pace
Advanc’d to battle, dash’d it on his face:
His bristly beard shines out with sudden fires;
The crackling crop a noisome scent expires. 455
Following the blow, he seiz’d his curling crown
With his left hand; his other cast him down.
The prostrate body with his knees he press’d,
And plung’d his holy poniard in his breast.
While Podalirius, with his sword, pursued 460
The shepherd Alsus thro’ the flying crowd,
Swiftly he turns, and aims a deadly blow
Full on the front of his unwary foe.
The broad ax enters with a crashing sound,
And cleaves the chin with one continued wound; 465
Warm blood, and mingled brains, besmear his arms around.
An iron sleep his stupid eyes oppress’d,
And seal’d their heavy lids in endless rest.
But good Æneas rush’d amid the bands;
Bare was his head, and naked were his hands, 470
In sign of truce: then thus he cries aloud:
“What sudden rage, what new desire of blood,
Inflames your alter’d minds? O Trojans, cease
From impious arms, nor violate the peace!
By human sanctions, and by laws divine, 475
The terms are all agreed; the war is mine.
Dismiss your fears, and let the fight ensue;
This hand alone shall right the gods and you:
Our injur’d altars, and their broken vow,
To this avenging sword the faithless Turnus owe.” 480
Thus while he spoke, unmindful of defense,
A winged arrow struck the pious prince.
But, whether from some human hand it came,
Or hostile god, is left unknown by fame:
No human hand or hostile god was found, 485
To boast the triumph of so base a wound.
When Turnus saw the Trojan quit the plain,
His chiefs dismay’d, his troops a fainting train,
Th’ unhop’d event his heighten’d soul inspires:
At once his arms and coursers he requires; 490
Then, with a leap, his lofty chariot gains,
And with a ready hand assumes the reins.
He drives impetuous, and, where’er he goes,
He leaves behind a lane of slaughter’d foes.
These his lance reaches; over those he rolls 495
His rapid car, and crushes out their souls:
In vain the vanquish’d fly; the victor sends
The dead men’s weapons at their living friends.
Thus, on the banks of Hebrus’ freezing flood,
The God of Battles, in his angry mood, 500
Clashing his sword against his brazen shield,
Let loose the reins, and scours along the field:
Before the wind his fiery coursers fly;
Groans the sad earth, resounds the rattling sky.
Wrath, Terror, Treason, Tumult, and Despair 505
(Dire faces, and deform’d) surround the car;
Friends of the god, and followers of the war.
With fury not unlike, nor less disdain,
Exulting Turnus flies along the plain:
His smoking horses, at their utmost speed, 510
He lashes on, and urges o’er the dead.
Their fetlocks run with blood; and, when they bound,
The gore and gath’ring dust are dash’d around.
Thamyris and Pholus, masters of the war,
He kill’d at hand, but Sthenelus afar: 515
From far the sons of Imbracus he slew,
Glaucus and Lades, of the Lycian crew;
Both taught to fight on foot, in battle join’d,
Or mount the courser that outstrips the wind.
Meantime Eumedes, vaunting in the field, 520
New fir’d the Trojans, and their foes repell’d.
This son of Dolon bore his grandsire’s name,
But emulated more his father’s fame;
His guileful father, sent a nightly spy,
The Grecian camp and order to descry: 525
Hard enterprise! and well he might require
Achilles’ car and horses, for his hire:
But, met upon the scout, th’ Ætolian prince
In death bestow’d a juster recompense.
Fierce Turnus view’d the Trojan from afar, 530
And launch’d his jav’lin from his lofty car;
Then lightly leaping down, pursued the blow,
And, pressing with his foot his prostrate foe,
Wrench’d from his feeble hold the shining sword,
And plung’d it in the bosom of its lord. 535
“Possess,” said he, “the fruit of all thy pains,
And measure, at thy length, our Latian plains.
Thus are my foes rewarded by my hand;
Thus may they build their town, and thus enjoy the land!”
Then Dares, Butes, Sybaris he slew, 540
Whom o’er his neck his flound’ring courser threw.
As when loud Boreas, with his blust’ring train,
Stoops from above, incumbent on the main;
Where’er he flies, he drives the rack before,
And rolls the billows on th’ Ægæan shore: 545
So, where resistless Turnus takes his course,
The scatter’d squadrons bend before his force;
His crest of horses’ hair is blown behind
By adverse air, and rustles in the wind.
This haughty Phegeus saw with high disdain, 550
And, as the chariot roll’d along the plain,
Light from the ground he leapt, and seiz’d the rein.
Thus hung in air, he still retain’d his hold,
The coursers frighted, and their course controll’d.
The lance of Turnus reach’d him as he hung, 555
And pierc’d his plated arms, but pass’d along,
And only raz’d the skin. He turn’d, and held
Against his threat’ning foe his ample shield;
Then call’d for aid: but, while he cried in vain,
The chariot bore him backward on the plain. 560
He lies revers’d; the victor king descends,
And strikes so justly where his helmet ends,
He lops the head. The Latian fields are drunk
With streams that issue from the bleeding trunk.
While he triumphs, and while the Trojans yield, 565
The wounded prince is forc’d to leave the field:
Strong Mnestheus, and Achates often tried,
And young Ascanius, weeping by his side,
Conduct him to his tent. Scarce can he rear
His limbs from earth, supported on his spear. 570
Resolv’d in mind, regardless of the smart,
He tugs with both his hands, and breaks the dart.
The steel remains. No readier way he found
To draw the weapon, than t’ inlarge the wound.
Eager of fight, impatient of delay, 575
He begs; and his unwilling friends obey.
Iapis was at hand to prove his art,
Whose blooming youth so fir’d Apollo’s heart,
That, for his love, he proffer’d to bestow
His tuneful harp and his unerring bow. 580
The pious youth, more studious how to save
His aged sire, now sinking to the grave,
Preferr’d the pow’r of plants, and silent praise
Of healing arts, before Phœbean bays.
Propp’d on his lance the pensive hero stood, 585
And heard and saw, unmov’d, the mourning crowd.
The fam’d physician tucks his robes around
With ready hands, and hastens to the wound.
With gentle touches he performs his part,
This way and that, soliciting the dart, 590
And exercises all his heav’nly art.
All soft’ning simples, known of sov’reign use,
He presses out, and pours their noble juice.
These first infus’d, to lenify the pain,
He tugs with pincers, but he tugs in vain. 595
Then to the patron of his art he pray’d:
The patron of his art refus’d his aid.
Meantime the war approaches to the tents;
Th’ alarm grows hotter, and the noise augments:
The driving dust proclaims the danger near; 600
And first their friends, and then their foes appear:
Their friends retreat; their foes pursue the rear.
The camp is fill’d with terror and affright:
The hissing shafts within the trench alight;
An undistinguish’d noise ascends the sky, 605
The shouts of those who kill, and groans of those who die.
But now the goddess mother, mov’d with grief,
And pierc’d with pity, hastens her relief.
A branch of healing dittany she brought,
Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought: 610
Rough is the stem, which woolly leafs surround;
The leafs with flow’rs, the flow’rs with purple crown’d,
Well known to wounded goats; a sure relief
To draw the pointed steel, and ease the grief.
This Venus brings, in clouds involv’d, and brews 615
Th’ extracted liquor with ambrosian dews,
And od’rous panacee. Unseen she stands,
Temp’ring the mixture with her heav’nly hands,
And pours it in a bowl, already crown’d
With juice of med’c’nal herbs prepar’d to bathe the wound. 620
The leech, unknowing of superior art
Which aids the cure, with this foments the part;
And in a moment ceas’d the raging smart.
Stanch’d is the blood, and in the bottom stands:
The steel, but scarcely touch’d with tender hands, 625
Moves up, and follows of its own accord,
And health and vigor are at once restor’d.
Iapis first perceiv’d the closing wound,
And first the footsteps of a god he found.
“Arms! arms!” he cries; “the sword and shield prepare, 630
And send the willing chief, renew’d, to war.
This is no mortal work, no cure of mine,
Nor art’s effect, but done by hands divine.
Some god our general to the battle sends;
Some god preserves his life for greater ends.” 635
The hero arms in haste; his hands infold
His thighs with cuishes of refulgent gold:
Inflam’d to fight, and rushing to the field,
That hand sustaining the celestial shield,
This gripes the lance, and with such vigor shakes, 640
That to the rest the beamy weapon quakes.
Then with a close embrace he strain’d his son,
And, kissing thro’ his helmet, thus begun:
“My son, from my example learn the war,
In camps to suffer, and in fields to dare; 645
But happier chance than mine attend thy care!
This day my hand thy tender age shall shield,
And crown with honors of the conquer’d field:
Thou, when thy riper years shall send thee forth
To toils of war, be mindful of my worth; 650
Assert thy birthright, and in arms be known,
For Hector’s nephew, and Æneas’ son.”
He said; and, striding, issued on the plain.
Anteus and Mnestheus, and a num’rous train,
Attend his steps; the rest their weapons take, 655
And, crowding to the field, the camp forsake.
A cloud of blinding dust is rais’d around,
Labors beneath their feet the trembling ground.
Now Turnus, posted on a hill, from far
Beheld the progress of the moving war: 660
With him the Latins view’d the cover’d plains,
And the chill blood ran backward in their veins.
Juturna saw th’ advancing troops appear,
And heard the hostile sound, and fled for fear.
Æneas leads; and draws a sweeping train, 665
Clos’d in their ranks, and pouring on the plain.
As when a whirlwind, rushing to the shore
From the mid ocean, drives the waves before;
The painful hind with heavy heart foresees
The flatted fields, and slaughter of the trees; 670
With like impetuous rage the prince appears
Before his doubled front, nor less destruction bears.
And now both armies shock in open field;
Osiris is by strong Thymbræus kill’d.
Archetius, Ufens, Epulon, are slain 675
(All fam’d in arms, and of the Latian train)
By Gyas’, Mnestheus’, and Achates’ hand.
The fatal augur falls, by whose command
The truce was broken, and whose lance, embrued
With Trojan blood, th’ unhappy fight renew’d. 680
Loud shouts and clamors rend the liquid sky,
And o’er the field the frighted Latins fly.
The prince disdains the dastards to pursue,
Nor moves to meet in arms the fighting few;
Turnus alone, amid the dusky plain, 685
He seeks, and to the combat calls in vain.
Juturna heard, and, seiz’d with mortal fear,
Forc’d from the beam her brother’s charioteer;
Assumes his shape, his armor, and his mien,
And, like Metiscus, in his seat is seen. 690
As the black swallow near the palace plies;
O’er empty courts, and under arches, flies;
Now hawks aloft, now skims along the flood,
To furnish her loquacious nest with food:
So drives the rapid goddess o’er the plains; 695
The smoking horses run with loosen’d reins.
She steers a various course among the foes;
Now here, now there, her conqu’ring brother shows;
Now with a straight, now with a wheeling flight,
She turns, and bends, but shuns the single fight. 700
Æneas, fir’d with fury, breaks the crowd,
And seeks his foe, and calls by name aloud:
He runs within a narrower ring, and tries
To stop the chariot; but the chariot flies.
If he but gain a glimpse, Juturna fears, 705
And far away the Daunian hero bears.
What should he do! Nor arts nor arms avail;
And various cares in vain his mind assail.
The great Messapus, thund’ring thro’ the field,
In his left hand two pointed jav’lins held: 710
Encount’ring on the prince, one dart he drew,
And with unerring aim and utmost vigor threw.
Æneas saw it come, and, stooping low
Beneath his buckler, shunn’d the threat’ning blow.
The weapon hiss’d above his head, and tore 715
The waving plume which on his helm he wore.
Forced by this hostile act, and fir’d with spite,
That flying Turnus still declin’d the fight,
The Prince, whose piety had long repell’d
His inborn ardor, now invades the field; 720
Invokes the pow’rs of violated peace,
Their rites and injur’d altars to redress;
Then, to his rage abandoning the rein,
With blood and slaughter’d bodies fills the plain.
What god can tell, what numbers can display, 725
The various labors of that fatal day;
What chiefs and champions fell on either side,
In combat slain, or by what deaths they died;
Whom Turnus, whom the Trojan hero kill’d;
Who shar’d the fame and fortune of the field! 730
Jove, could’st thou view, and not avert thy sight,
Two jarring nations join’d in cruel fight,
Whom leagues of lasting love so shortly shall unite!
Æneas first Rutulian Sucro found,
Whose valor made the Trojans quit their ground; 735
Betwixt his ribs the jav’lin drove so just,
It reach’d his heart, nor needs a second thrust.
Now Turnus, at two blows, two brethren slew;
First from his horse fierce Amycus he threw:
Then, leaping on the ground, on foot assail’d 740
Diores, and in equal fight prevail’d.
Their lifeless trunks he leaves upon the place;
Their heads, distilling gore, his chariot grace.
Three cold on earth the Trojan hero threw,
Whom without respite at one charge he slew: 745
Cethegus, Tanais, Tagus, fell oppress’d,
And sad Onythes, added to the rest,
Of Theban blood, whom Peridia bore.
Turnus two brothers from the Lycian shore,
And from Apollo’s fane to battle sent, 750
O’erthrew; nor Phœbus could their fate prevent.
Peaceful Menoetes after these he kill’d,
Who long had shunn’d the dangers of the field:
On Lerna’s lake a silent life he led,
And with his nets and angle earn’d his bread; 755
Nor pompous cares, nor palaces, he knew,
But wisely from th’ infectious world withdrew:
Poor was his house; his father’s painful hand
Discharg’d his rent, and plow’d another’s land.
As flames among the lofty woods are thrown 760
On diff’rent sides, and both by winds are blown;
The laurels crackle in the sputt’ring fire;
The frighted sylvans from their shades retire:
Or as two neighb’ring torrents fall from high;
Rapid they run; the foamy waters fry; 765
They roll to sea with unresisted force,
And down the rocks precipitate their course:
Not with less rage the rival heroes take
Their diff’rent ways, nor less destruction make.
With spears afar, with swords at hand, they strike; 770
And zeal of slaughter fires their souls alike.
Like them, their dauntless men maintain the field;
And hearts are pierc’d, unknowing how to yield:
They blow for blow return, and wound for wound;
And heaps of bodies raise the level ground. 775
Murranus, boasting of his blood, that springs
From a long royal race of Latian kings,
Is by the Trojan from his chariot thrown,
Crush’d with the weight of an unwieldy stone:
Betwixt the wheels he fell; the wheels, that bore 780
His living load, his dying body tore.
His starting steeds, to shun the glitt’ring sword,
Paw down his trampled limbs, forgetful of their lord.
Fierce Hyllus threaten’d high, and, face to face,
Affronted Turnus in the middle space: 785
The prince encounter’d him in full career,
And at his temples aim’d the deadly spear;
So fatally the flying weapon sped,
That thro’ his brazen helm it pierc’d his head.
Nor, Cisseus, couldst thou scape from Turnus’ hand, 790
In vain the strongest of th’ Arcadian band:
Nor to Cupentus could his gods afford
Availing aid against th’ Ænean sword,
Which to his naked heart pursued the course;
Nor could his plated shield sustain the force. 795
Iolas fell, whom not the Grecian pow’rs,
Nor great subverter of the Trojan tow’rs,
Were doom’d to kill, while Heav’n prolong’d his date;
But who can pass the bounds prefix’d by fate?
In high Lyrnessus, and in Troy, he held 800
Two palaces, and was from each expell’d:
Of all the mighty man, the last remains
A little spot of foreign earth contains.
And now both hosts their broken troops unite
In equal ranks, and mix in mortal fight. 805
Seresthus and undaunted Mnestheus join
The Trojan, Tuscan, and Arcadian line:
Sea-born Messapus, with Atinas, heads
The Latin squadrons, and to battle leads.
They strike, they push, they throng the scanty space, 810
Resolv’d on death, impatient of disgrace;
And, where one falls, another fills his place.
The Cyprian goddess now inspires her son
To leave th’ unfinish’d fight, and storm the town:
For, while he rolls his eyes around the plain 815
In quest of Turnus, whom he seeks in vain,
He views th’ unguarded city from afar,
In careless quiet, and secure of war.
Occasion offers, and excites his mind
To dare beyond the task he first design’d. 820
Resolv’d, he calls his chiefs; they leave the fight:
Attended thus, he takes a neighb’ring height;
The crowding troops about their gen’ral stand,
All under arms, and wait his high command.
Then thus the lofty prince: “Hear and obey, 825
Ye Trojan bands, without the least delay
Jove is with us; and what I have decreed
Requires our utmost vigor, and our speed.
Your instant arms against the town prepare,
The source of mischief, and the seat of war. 830
This day the Latian tow’rs, that mate the sky,
Shall level with the plain in ashes lie:
The people shall be slaves, unless in time
They kneel for pardon, and repent their crime.
Twice have our foes been vanquish’d on the plain: 835
Then shall I wait till Turnus will be slain?
Your force against the perjur’d city bend.
There it began, and there the war shall end.
The peace profan’d our rightful arms requires;
Cleanse the polluted place with purging fires.” 840
He finish’d; and, one soul inspiring all,
Form’d in a wedge, the foot approach the wall.
Without the town, an unprovided train
Of gaping, gazing citizens are slain.
Some firebrands, others scaling ladders bear, 845
And those they toss aloft, and these they rear:
The flames now launch’d, the feather’d arrows fly,
And clouds of missive arms obscure the sky.
Advancing to the front, the hero stands,
And, stretching out to heav’n his pious hands, 850
Attests the gods, asserts his innocence,
Upbraids with breach of faith th’ Ausonian prince;
Declares the royal honor doubly stain’d,
And twice the rites of holy peace profan’d.
Dissenting clamors in the town arise; 855
Each will be heard, and all at once advise.
One part for peace, and one for war contends;
Some would exclude their foes, and some admit their friends.
The helpless king is hurried in the throng,
And, whate’er tide prevails, is borne along. 860
Thus, when the swain, within a hollow rock,
Invades the bees with suffocating smoke,
They run around, or labor on their wings,
Disus’d to flight, and shoot their sleepy stings;
To shun the bitter fumes in vain they try; 865
Black vapors, issuing from the vent, involve the sky.
But fate and envious fortune now prepare
To plunge the Latins in the last despair.
The queen, who saw the foes invade the town,
And brands on tops of burning houses thrown, 870
Cast round her eyes, distracted with her fear—
No troops of Turnus in the field appear.
Once more she stares abroad, but still in vain,
And then concludes the royal youth is slain.
Mad with her anguish, impotent to bear 875
The mighty grief, she loathes the vital air.
She calls herself the cause of all this ill,
And owns the dire effects of her ungovern’d will;
She raves against the gods; she beats her breast;
She tears with both her hands her purple vest: 880
Then round a beam a running noose she tied,
And, fasten’d by the neck, obscenely died.
Soon as the fatal news by Fame was blown,
And to her dames and to her daughter known,
The sad Lavinia rends her yellow hair 885
And rosy cheeks; the rest her sorrow share:
With shrieks the palace rings, and madness of despair.
The spreading rumor fills the public place:
Confusion, fear, distraction, and disgrace,
And silent shame, are seen in ev’ry face. 890
Latinus tears his garments as he goes,
Both for his public and his private woes;
With filth his venerable beard besmears,
And sordid dust deforms his silver hairs.
And much he blames the softness of his mind, 895
Obnoxious to the charms of womankind,
And soon seduc’d to change what he so well design’d;
To break the solemn league so long desir’d,
Nor finish what his fates, and those of Troy, requir’d.
Now Turnus rolls aloof o’er empty plains, 900
And here and there some straggling foes he gleans.
His flying coursers please him less and less,
Asham’d of easy fight and cheap success.
Thus half-contented, anxious in his mind,
The distant cries come driving in the wind, 905
Shouts from the walls, but shouts in murmurs drown’d;
A jarring mixture, and a boding sound.
“Alas!” said he, “what mean these dismal cries?
What doleful clamors from the town arise?”
Confus’d, he stops, and backward pulls the reins. 910
She who the driver’s office now sustains,
Replies: “Neglect, my lord, these new alarms;
Here fight, and urge the fortune of your arms:
There want not others to defend the wall.
If by your rival’s hand th’ Italians fall, 915
So shall your fatal sword his friends oppress,
In honor equal, equal in success.”
To this, the prince: “O sister—for I knew
The peace infring’d proceeded first from you;
I knew you, when you mingled first in fight; 920
And now in vain you would deceive my sight—
Why, goddess, this unprofitable care?
Who sent you down from heav’n, involv’d in air,
Your share of mortal sorrows to sustain,
And see your brother bleeding on the plain? 925
For to what pow’r can Turnus have recourse,
Or how resist his fate’s prevailing force?
These eyes beheld Murranus bite the ground:
Mighty the man, and mighty was the wound.
I heard my dearest friend, with dying breath, 930
My name invoking to revenge his death.
Brave Ufens fell with honor on the place,
To shun the shameful sight of my disgrace.
On earth supine, a manly corpse he lies;
His vest and armor are the victor’s prize. 935
Then, shall I see Laurentum in a flame,
Which only wanted, to complete my shame?
How will the Latins hoot their champion’s flight!
How Drances will insult and point them to the sight!
Is death so hard to bear? Ye gods below, 940
(Since those above so small compassion show,)
Receive a soul unsullied yet with shame,
Which not belies my great forefather’s name!”
He said; and while he spoke, with flying speed
Came Sages urging on his foamy steed: 945
Fix’d on his wounded face a shaft he bore,
And, seeking Turnus, sent his voice before:
“Turnus, on you, on you alone, depends
Our last relief: compassionate your friends!
Like lightning, fierce Æneas, rolling on, 950
With arms invests, with flames invades the town:
The brands are toss’d on high; the winds conspire
To drive along the deluge of the fire.
All eyes are fix’d on you: your foes rejoice;
Ev’n the king staggers, and suspends his choice; 955
Doubts to deliver or defend the town,
Whom to reject, or whom to call his son.
The queen, on whom your utmost hopes were plac’d,
Herself suborning death, has breath’d her last.
’T is true, Messapus, fearless of his fate, 960
With fierce Atinas’ aid, defends the gate:
On ev’ry side surrounded by the foe,
The more they kill, the greater numbers grow;
An iron harvest mounts, and still remains to mow.
You, far aloof from your forsaken bands, 965
Your rolling chariot drive o’er empty sands.”
Stupid he sate, his eyes on earth declin’d,
And various cares revolving in his mind:
Rage, boiling from the bottom of his breast,
And sorrow mix’d with shame, his soul oppress’d; 970
And conscious worth lay lab’ring in his thought,
And love by jealousy to madness wrought.
By slow degrees his reason drove away
The mists of passion, and resum’d her sway.
Then, rising on his car, he turn’d his look, 975
And saw the town involv’d in fire and smoke.
A wooden tow’r with flames already blaz’d,
Which his own hands on beams and rafters rais’d;
And bridges laid above to join the space,
And wheels below to roll from place to place. 980
“Sister, the Fates have vanquish’d: let us go
The way which Heav’n and my hard fortune show.
The fight is fix’d; nor shall the branded name
Of a base coward blot your brother’s fame.
Death is my choice; but suffer me to try 985
My force, and vent my rage before I die.”
He said; and, leaping down without delay,
Thro’ crowds of scatter’d foes he freed his way.
Striding he pass’d, impetuous as the wind,
And left the grieving goddess far behind. 990
As when a fragment, from a mountain torn
By raging tempests, or by torrents borne,
Or sapp’d by time, or loosen’d from the roots—
Prone thro’ the void the rocky ruin shoots,
Rolling from crag to crag, from steep to steep; 995
Down sink, at once, the shepherds and their sheep:
Involv’d alike, they rush to nether ground;
Stunn’d with the shock they fall, and stunn’d from earth rebound:
So Turnus, hasting headlong to the town,
Should’ring and shoving, bore the squadrons down. 1000
Still pressing onward, to the walls he drew,
Where shafts, and spears, and darts promiscuous flew,
And sanguine streams the slipp’ry ground embrue.
First stretching out his arm, in sign of peace,
He cries aloud, to make the combat cease: 1005
“Rutulians, hold; and Latin troops, retire!
The fight is mine; and me the gods require.
’T is just that I should vindicate alone
The broken truce, or for the breach atone.
This day shall free from wars th’ Ausonian state, 1010
Or finish my misfortunes in my fate.”
Both armies from their bloody work desist,
And, bearing backward, form a spacious list.
The Trojan hero, who receiv’d from fame
The welcome sound, and heard the champion’s name, 1015
Soon leaves the taken works and mounted walls,
Greedy of war where greater glory calls.
He springs to fight, exulting in his force;
His jointed armor rattles in the course.
Like Eryx, or like Athos, great he shows, 1020
Or Father Apennine, when, white with snows,
His head divine obscure in clouds he hides,
And shakes the sounding forest on his sides.
The nations, overaw’d, surcease the fight;
Immovable their bodies, fix’d their sight. 1025
Ev’n death stands still; nor from above they throw
Their darts, nor drive their batt’ring-rams below.
In silent order either army stands,
And drop their swords, unknowing, from their hands.
Th’ Ausonian king beholds, with wond’ring sight, 1030
Two mighty champions match’d in single fight,
Born under climes remote, and brought by fate,
With swords to try their titles to the state.
Now, in clos’d field, each other from afar
They view; and, rushing on, begin the war. 1035
They launch their spears; then hand to hand they meet;
The trembling soil resounds beneath their feet:
Their bucklers clash; thick blows descend from high,
And flakes of fire from their hard helmets fly.
Courage conspires with chance, and both ingage 1040
With equal fortune yet, and mutual rage.
As when two bulls for their fair female fight
In Sila’s shades, or on Taburnus’ height;
With horns adverse they meet; the keeper flies;
Mute stands the herd; the heifers roll their eyes, 1045
And wait th’ event; which victor they shall bear,
And who shall be the lord, to rule the lusty year:
With rage of love the jealous rivals burn,
And push for push, and wound for wound return;
Their dewlaps gor’d, their sides are lav’d in blood; 1050
Loud cries and roaring sounds rebellow thro’ the wood:
Such was the combat in the listed ground;
So clash their swords, and so their shields resound.
Jove sets the beam; in either scale he lays
The champions’ fate, and each exactly weighs. 1055
On this side, life and lucky chance ascends;
Loaded with death, that other scale descends.
Rais’d on the stretch, young Turnus aims a blow
Full on the helm of his unguarded foe:
Shrill shouts and clamors ring on either side, 1060
As hopes and fears their panting hearts divide.
But all in pieces flies the traitor sword,
And, in the middle stroke, deserts his lord.
Now ’t is but death, or flight; disarm’d he flies,
When in his hand an unknown hilt he spies. 1065
Fame says that Turnus, when his steeds he join’d,
Hurrying to war, disorder’d in his mind,
Snatch’d the first weapon which his haste could find.
’T was not the fated sword his father bore,
But that his charioteer Metiscus wore. 1070
This, while the Trojans fled, the toughness held;
But, vain against the great Vulcanian shield,
The mortal-temper’d steel deceiv’d his hand:
The shiver’d fragments shone amid the sand.
Surpris’d with fear, he fled along the field, 1075
And now forthright, and now in orbits wheel’d;
For here the Trojan troops the list surround,
And there the pass is clos’d with pools and marshy ground.
Æneas hastens, tho’ with heavier pace—
His wound, so newly knit, retards the chase, 1080
And oft his trembling knees their aid refuse—
Yet, pressing foot by foot, his foe pursues.
Thus, when a fearful stag is clos’d around
With crimson toils, or in a river found,
High on the bank the deep-mouth’d hound appears, 1085
Still opening, following still, where’er he steers;
The persecuted creature, to and fro,
Turns here and there, to scape his Umbrian foe:
Steep is th’ ascent, and, if he gains the land,
The purple death is pitch’d along the strand. 1090
His eager foe, determin’d to the chase,
Stretch’d at his length, gains ground at ev’ry pace;
Now to his beamy head he makes his way,
And now he holds, or thinks he holds, his prey:
Just at the pinch, the stag springs out with fear; 1095
He bites the wind, and fills his sounding jaws with air:
The rocks, the lakes, the meadows ring with cries;
The mortal tumult mounts, and thunders in the skies.
Thus flies the Daunian prince, and, flying, blames
His tardy troops, and, calling by their names, 1100
Demands his trusty sword. The Trojan threats
The realm with ruin, and their ancient seats
To lay in ashes, if they dare supply
With arms or aid his vanquish’d enemy:
Thus menacing, he still pursues the course, 1105
With vigor, tho’ diminish’d of his force.
Ten times already round the listed place
One chief had fled, and t’other giv’n the chase:
No trivial prize is play’d; for on the life
Or death of Turnus now depends the strife. 1110
Within the space, an olive tree had stood,
A sacred shade, a venerable wood,
For vows to Faunus paid, the Latins’ guardian god.
Here hung the vests, and tablets were ingrav’d,
Of sinking mariners from shipwrack sav’d. 1115
With heedless hands the Trojans fell’d the tree,
To make the ground inclos’d for combat free.
Deep in the root, whether by fate, or chance,
Or erring haste, the Trojan drove his lance;
Then stoop’d, and tugg’d with force immense, to free 1120
Th’ incumber’d spear from the tenacious tree;
That, whom his fainting limbs pursued in vain,
His flying weapon might from far attain.
Confus’d with fear, bereft of human aid,
Then Turnus to the gods, and first to Faunus pray’d: 1125
“O Faunus, pity! and thou Mother Earth,
Where I thy foster son receiv’d my birth,
Hold fast the steel! If my religious hand
Your plant has honor’d, which your foes profan’d,
Propitious hear my pious pray’r!” He said, 1130
Nor with successless vows invok’d their aid.
Th’ incumbent hero wrench’d, and pull’d, and strain’d;
But still the stubborn earth the steel detain’d.
Juturna took her time; and, while in vain
He strove, assum’d Meticus’ form again, 1135
And, in that imitated shape, restor’d
To the despairing prince his Daunian sword.
The Queen of Love, who, with disdain and grief,
Saw the bold nymph afford this prompt relief,
T’ assert her offspring with a greater deed, 1140
From the tough root the ling’ring weapon freed.
Once more erect, the rival chiefs advance:
One trusts the sword, and one the pointed lance;
And both resolv’d alike to try their fatal chance.
Meantime imperial Jove to Juno spoke, 1145
Who from a shining cloud beheld the shock:
“What new arrest, O Queen of Heav’n, is sent
To stop the Fates now lab’ring in th’ event?
What farther hopes are left thee to pursue?
Divine Æneas, (and thou know’st it too,) 1150
Foredoom’d, to these celestial seats are due.
What more attempts for Turnus can be made,
That thus thou ling’rest in this lonely shade?
Is it becoming of the due respect
And awful honor of a god elect, 1155
A wound unworthy of our state to feel,
Patient of human hands and earthly steel?
Or seems it just, the sister should restore
A second sword, when one was lost before,
And arm a conquer’d wretch against his conqueror? 1160
For what, without thy knowledge and avow,
Nay more, thy dictate, durst Juturna do?
At last, in deference to my love, forbear
To lodge within thy soul this anxious care;
Reclin’d upon my breast, thy grief unload: 1165
Who should relieve the goddess, but the god?
Now all things to their utmost issue tend,
Push’d by the Fates to their appointed end.
While leave was giv’n thee, and a lawful hour
For vengeance, wrath, and unresisted pow’r, 1170
Toss’d on the seas, thou couldst thy foes distress,
And, driv’n ashore, with hostile arms oppress;
Deform the royal house; and, from the side
Of the just bridegroom, tear the plighted bride:
Now cease at my command.” The Thund’rer said; 1175
And, with dejected eyes, this answer Juno made:
“Because your dread decree too well I knew,
From Turnus and from earth unwilling I withdrew.
Else should you not behold me here, alone,
Involv’d in empty clouds, my friends bemoan, 1180
But, girt with vengeful flames, in open sight
Engag’d against my foes in mortal fight.
’T is true, Juturna mingled in the strife
By my command, to save her brother’s life—
At least to try; but, by the Stygian lake, 1185
(The most religious oath the gods can take,)
With this restriction, not to bend the bow,
Or toss the spear, or trembling dart to throw.
And now, resign’d to your superior might,
And tir’d with fruitless toils, I loathe the fight. 1190
This let me beg (and this no fates withstand)
Both for myself and for your father’s land,
That, when the nuptial bed shall bind the peace,
(Which I, since you ordain, consent to bless,)
The laws of either nation be the same; 1195
But let the Latins still retain their name,
Speak the same language which they spoke before,
Wear the same habits which their grandsires wore.
Call them not Trojans: perish the renown
And name of Troy, with that detested town. 1200
Latium be Latium still; let Alba reign
And Rome’s immortal majesty remain.”
Then thus the founder of mankind replies
(Unruffled was his front, serene his eyes):
“Can Saturn’s issue, and heav’n’s other heir, 1205
Such endless anger in her bosom bear?
Be mistress, and your full desires obtain;
But quench the choler you foment in vain.
From ancient blood th’ Ausonian people sprung,
Shall keep their name, their habit, and their tongue. 1210
The Trojans to their customs shall be tied:
I will, myself, their common rites provide;
The natives shall command, the foreigners subside.
All shall be Latium; Troy without a name;
And her lost sons forget from whence they came. 1215
From blood so mix’d, a pious race shall flow,
Equal to gods, excelling all below.
No nation more respect to you shall pay,
Or greater off’rings on your altars lay.”
Juno consents, well pleas’d that her desires 1220
Had found success, and from the cloud retires.
The peace thus made, the Thund’rer next prepares
To force the wat’ry goddess from the wars.
Deep in the dismal regions void of light,
Three daughters at a birth were born to Night: 1225
These their brown mother, brooding on her care,
Indued with windy wings to flit in air,
With serpents girt alike, and crown’d with hissing hair.
In heav’n the Diræ call’d, and still at hand,
Before the throne of angry Jove they stand, 1230
His ministers of wrath, and ready still
The minds of mortal men with fears to fill,
Whene’er the moody sire, to wreak his hate
On realms or towns deserving of their fate,
Hurls down diseases, death and deadly care, 1235
And terrifies the guilty world with war.
One sister plague if these from heav’n he sent,
To fright Juturna with a dire portent.
The pest comes whirling down: by far more slow
Springs the swift arrow from the Parthian bow, 1240
Or Cydon yew, when, traversing the skies,
And drench’d in pois’nous juice, the sure destruction flies.
With such a sudden and unseen a flight
Shot thro’ the clouds the daughter of the night.
Soon as the field inclos’d she had in view, 1245
And from afar her destin’d quarry knew,
Contracted, to the boding bird she turns,
Which haunts the ruin’d piles and hallow’d urns,
And beats about the tombs with nightly wings,
Where songs obscene on sepulchers she sings. 1
The Death of Slavery
O THOU great Wrong, that, through the slow-paced years,
Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield
The scourge that drove the laborer to the field,
And turn a stony gaze on human tears,
Thy cruel reign is o’er;
Thy bondmen crouch no more
In terror at the menace of thine eye;
For He who marks the bounds of guilty power,
Long-suffering, hath heard the captive’s cry,
And touched his shackles at the appointed hour,
And lo! they fall, and he whose limbs they galled
Stands in his native manhood, disenthralled.
A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent;
Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks;
Our rivers roll exulting, and their banks
Send up hosannas to the firmament!
Fields where the bondman’s toil
No more shall trench the soil,
Seem now to bask in a serener day;
The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs
Of heaven with more caressing softness play,
Welcoming man to liberty like theirs.
A glory clothes the land from sea to sea,
For the great land and all its coasts are free.
Within that land wert thou enthroned of late,
And they by whom the nation’s laws were made,
And they who filled its judgment-seats, obeyed
Thy mandate, rigid as the will of Fate.
Fierce men at thy right hand,
With gesture of command,
Gave forth the word that none might dare gainsay;
And grave and reverend ones, who loved thee not,
Shrank from thy presence, and in blank dismay
Choked down, unuttered, the rebellious thought;
While meaner cowards, mingling with thy train,
Proved, from the book of God, thy right to reign.
Great as thou wert, and feared from shore to shore,
The wrath of Heaven o’ertook thee in thy pride;
Thou sitt’st a ghastly shadow; by thy side
Thy once strong arms hang nerveless evermore.
And they who quailed but now
Before thy lowering brow,
Devote thy memory to scorn and shame,
And scoff at the pale, powerless thing thou art.
And they who ruled in thine imperial name,
Subdued, and standing sullenly apart,
Scowl at the hands that overthrew thy reign,
And shattered at a blow the prisoner’s chain.
Well was thy doom deserved; thou didst not spare
Life’s tenderest ties, but cruelly didst part
Husband and wife, and from the mother’s heart
Didst wrest her children, deaf to shriek and prayer;
Thy inner lair became
The haunt of guilty shame;
Thy lash dropped blood; the murderer, at thy side,
Showed his red hands, nor feared the vengeance due.
Thou didst sow earth with crimes, and, far and wide,
A harvest of uncounted miseries grew,
Until the measure of thy sins at last
Was full, and then the avenging bolt was cast!
Go now, accursed of God, and take thy place
With hateful memories of the elder time,
With many a wasting plague, and nameless crime,
And bloody war that thinned the human race;
With the Black Death, whose way
Through wailing cities lay,
Worship of Moloch, tyrannies that built
The Pyramids, and cruel creeds that taught
To avenge a fancied guilt by deeper guilt—
Death at the stake to those that held them not.
Lo! the foul phantoms, silent in the gloom
Of the flown ages, part to yield thee room.
I see the better years that hasten by
Carry thee back into that shadowy past,
Where, in the dusty spaces, void and vast,
The graves of those whom thou hast murdered lie.
The slave-pen, through whose door
Thy victims pass no more,
Is there, and there shall the grim block remain
At which the slave was sold; while at thy feet
Scourges and engines of restraint and pain
Moulder and rust by thine eternal seat.
There, mid the symbols that proclaim thy crimes,
Dwell thou, a warning to the coming times.
Is it a will o' the wisp, or is dawn breaking,
That our horizon wears so strange a hue?
Is it but one more dream, or are we waking
To find at last that dreams are coming true?
Far off and faint, a golden line is streaking
The cloudy night that shrouds the life of man;
It is the sun that dim eyes have been seeking,
Through all blind pathways, since the world began.
The sign to weary heart and waiting nation
That day will come to bring them their release
That, late or soon, through storm and tribulation,
Or with slow change, the earth shall rest in peace.
That One, invoked, with half- despairing passion.
Through years and years of wrong, will right us then;
Will take away, in rude or gentle fashion,
The curse that man has laid on brother- men.
Ah, blessed One! our souls go out to meet thee,
At whose feet Hope will fold her tired wing;
And yet we know not how we ought to greet thee,
And take the gifts thy bounteous arms will bring.
Come not, O friend! with vengeful weapons, borrowed
Of them that warred against thee — sword and flame;
For all alike have suffered and have sorrowed,
And all alike have sinned against thy name.
Come thou to men who groan in sore affliction
A breathing spirit of new life and grace;
Come in thy robes of light and benediction,
That all may recognize thy perfect face.
Yet, as thou must, come soon, for them than need thee —
And thou wilt come — Deliverer great and strong!
Brighten, O tender dawn, though few may heed thee,
And bring the day that we have sought so long!
No class strife then, each man against his neighbour,
No waste, no want, to breed the plague of crime;
No insolent pomp, no hard and sordid labour,
No wars, no famines, in that happier time!
But pleasant homes, and good days growing better;
Contented hearts throughout the tranquil land,
That keep the law, in spirit and in letter,
Which we have been so dull to understand.
And fruitful work, instead of barren duty,
With fruitful rest and leisure interweaved;
And life made bright with plenty and with beauty,
And souls made strong with noble aims achieved.
Great Art, no more the plaything of the idle,
But nurse and handmaid to all human needs;
Great Nature, curbed no more with bit and bridle,
Nor men's religion crushed in bitter creeds.
Nor sacred Love a crime, a jest, an error,
To keep or lose, to give or to suppress,
A secret shame, an anguish and a terror,
A curse to them that it was meant to bless.
All round our narrow lives the tide encroaches,
Distant and dim, but spreading far and fast.
O Liberty, thy longed- for reign approaches
That is to give man's birthright back at last!
And must we go, who see the new age dawning,
While yet we suffer in the pangs of birth,
Nor breathe one breath of the divinest morning
That yet has come to bless our waiting earth?
Oh, must we go, just when the day is growing?
Oh, must we waste with vast and vain desires,
Like sparks put out when viewless winds are blowing,
We, lit and quickened with supernal fires
Are we to read no more the wondrous pages
Of this great tale that evermore goes on?
Will suns and stars light up eternal ages
With happier worlds — and we alone be gone?
Never to learn the moral of the story —
Why we have toiled for what we must not keep,
Why we have fought to win no crown of glory,
Why we have sown what unborn hands will reap.
Never to learn wherefore our Maker sent us
With these immortal passions in our breast.
Ah me! Ah me! Wherewith can we content us
To know so much, and not to know the rest!
Taking refuge behind talking silicon
and celluloid curtains
Maya Black Hand Magic
A billion of little
squirming insect legs
supporting an unbalanced body
headed by a vermin shout
Subhuman and grotesque
Chord pulled mid show
of fable and speech
to mere parrot squawk
and caged ferret squeak
Revealed as an old wort nosed miser
the self bold wizard grown withered and weak
Fritz Lang's silent horror
Frankensteined into a living Franchise
Metropolis Machine nightmare reality
Mortal spawn of man's eternal enemy
Delivered unto earth through the
collective uterus gateway
who sent you?
Which planet are you from?
What is your design for us
You milk dry
the grass and stones of the earth
scrapping draining drilling the bottoms of the sea
Baking bread out of blood
to feed death's blind brood
grinding lonesome bone
'til there's nothing left
save the unsaved
spineless heap of
shriveled petroleum flesh
You've altered the chemistry of the world!
Have attempted to mutate the genes of the entire species!
Converting spiritual manna into mechanical food
your new Augmented brood shall be the
apathetic androids of the future!
dissecting aphonia riddled tongues
wrapped in warped newsprint
from your tinted and tilted
network windows of obscuratism
You breathe bubonic smoke
your atrous peacock eyes
are Argus's all seeing gallows.
your smile a narcotic noose
pulling the Populous trapdoor
setting the intellectual burning stake
Watching as we writhe
and perform the last-gasp waltz
of spasms and twitches
on your stage
of morbid amusement
Belial's Back room deliverer of
Satanic party favors
Broker of bandwagon propositions
Urging all to join the campaign
Join the campaign! Join the campaign!
No oath no pledge
only anemic ink spilt
on contracts of pyrite
Muses exploited for commercial use-
Slogans of advertising
'where's the harm in making
a living off of the dead? '
'Life is short and often dull
inflation necessitates the
abandonment of artistic principle'
'Integrity is but a myth of the poor'
'Ideals hah! the imaginary playmates of children'
'The struggle to help man is futile ritual
Hopeless Hari Kari '
'Why labor in the dirt
When you can enjoy
the smooth aristocratic embrace
of air conditioned leather recliners
Looking down upon the filth laden streets
lemon scented oak
corner offices? '
you've made a thieve out of me!
promoting Al Capone
Coca Cola and the Cowboys,
your drunken wreckless nights
gave birth to John Dillinger!
You killed MKG and MLK!
Christ you tried to killed god!
eradicating his angels
through out the ages
You wipded out the noble native
You Killed Jack Kerouac!
the Marx Bros!
You killed the Beatles!
You killed the king of pop!
You killed my forefathers
And though today
he is still alive and well
when the sad fateful day arrives
it shall be you whom I hold responsible
for my father's death
You are responsible
for the death of all our fathers!
You've killed all the world's heroes!
You demonized Mohammedan angels in pursuit of Allah!
You cast the world into your storybook of extremes!
Stormbound the senses with threats of impending terror
from all angles
of earth and sea
You've marked ours as the final age
of biblical culmination
profiting from doomsday prophecy!
Cleansed the race of its hope.
You thought you had killed poetry
Now we are writing
to let you know it isn't so!
masked by progress and prosperity
your bloated moribund face
mirrors man's futility
Your assembly line agenda
attempts to monopolize morality
condemning society to abide by
your creed of commercial identity
You seem to believe you own the world
and all its inhabitants
keeping us tethered in mobile bondage
a modern anonymous mass
of wireless communicators
working in order to pay your bills
But the world belongs to us
we belong to the world
you are simply a passing
figment of our collective imaginings
It's clear to me you are
but a mushrooming man made
trapped in the warped twisted chambers
of cob webbed Caligula logic
Know one knows how we arrived to this point
Few seem to believe we can turn back our coarse
Everyone seems to think you are as inevitable as death
yet not even death could be so cruel and inhumane
Life with you is just one swift circular succession of
passionate fucks and innocent lays
By now I've worked over a dozen jobs
in my short life and have
quit them all
I've seen too many good people
devoured alive in your
kitchens delis and dining rooms
your cynical cannibalistic appetite
for the human heart is insatiable
Temporal fire of wounded mortal vanity
and abandoned love
you charred the well intentioned dirt
with your fiery agenda
Leaving your name scorched
in the ash and cinder of my poetry
Their will be no more self aggrandizing fables
celebrating your Cerberean glory
Future generations will see you unmasked
as the menacing hound of hell
we the people
we the poets
will make sure of it
I'll sabotage my own career
scare away any prospective publishers
if that's what it takes
so be it
literary success is overrated anyway
there is indeed a secret world wide shadow
controlling the lives and
manipulating the thoughts of the masses
I want to force them out of their draconian lairs
I demand they step into the public light
in order to silence me
I wish to die by strangulation hung
from the hooks of their red right hand
My pen is truly suicidal!
Martyr for the cause of truth and beauty!
When will we wake up and just stop caring?
when will we decide to just walk away from
this nonsensical mode of false living?
when will we see?
Its just us
we invest all believe into creating
the constructs of our reality
Oh Nunzio! Nunzio! Nunzio!
What foreign language did thou speak?
When you spoke of the way
Did we not listen?
hear nor read?
Did the board room brokers buy all stock
in truth and beauty?
Were all these virtues outsourced east?
How many centuries must man carry
this blind burden of sad disillusioned eyes?
Where are the balls!
This is not us! Is not our will!
Not how we want nor were meant to live!
knowing head nods
were all in it together
suffering silently side by side
We all should be shouting!
This is not me!
This is not my life!
These are not my concerns!
But everyman's concern is everyman's concern
I am everyman and frankly I am over burdened
But I know
I am not one man fighting
the battle for seven billion
together we are the infinite strong
and we are leading the battle against ourselves
Before A Crucifix
Here, down between the dusty trees,
At this lank edge of haggard wood,
Women with labour-loosened knees,
With gaunt backs bowed by servitude,
Stop, shift their loads, and pray, and fare
Forth with souls easier for the prayer.
The suns have branded black, the rains
Striped grey this piteous God of theirs;
The face is full of prayers and pains,
To which they bring their pains and prayers;
Lean limbs that shew the labouring bones,
And ghastly mouth that gapes and groans.
God of this grievous people, wrought
After the likeness of their race,
By faces like thine own besought,
Thine own blind helpless eyeless face,
I too, that have nor tongue nor knee
For prayer, I have a word to thee.
It was for this then, that thy speech
Was blown about the world in flame
And men's souls shot up out of reach
Of fear or lust or thwarting shame -
That thy faith over souls should pass
As sea-winds burning the grey grass?
It was for this, that prayers like these
Should spend themselves about thy feet,
And with hard overlaboured knees
Kneeling, these slaves of men should beat
Bosoms too lean to suckle sons
And fruitless as their orisons?
It was for this, that men should make
Thy name a fetter on men's necks,
Poor men's made poorer for thy sake,
And women's withered out of sex?
It was for this, that slaves should be,
Thy word was passed to set men free?
The nineteenth wave of the ages rolls
Now deathward since thy death and birth.
Hast thou fed full men's starved-out souls?
Hast thou brought freedom upon earth?
Or are there less oppressions done
In this wild world under the sun?
Nay, if indeed thou be not dead,
Before thy terrene shrine be shaken,
Look down, turn usward, bow thine head;
O thou that wast of God forsaken,
Look on thine household here, and see
These that have not forsaken thee.
Thy faith is fire upon their lips,
Thy kingdom golden in their hands;
They scourge us with thy words for whips,
They brand us with thy words for brands;
The thirst that made thy dry throat shrink
To their moist mouths commends the drink.
The toothed thorns that bit thy brows
Lighten the weight of gold on theirs;
Thy nakedness enrobes thy spouse
With the soft sanguine stuff she wears
Whose old limbs use for ointment yet
Thine agony and bloody sweat.
The blinding buffets on thine head
On their crowned heads confirm the crown;
Thy scourging dyes their raiment red,
And with thy bands they fasten down
For burial in the blood-bought field
The nations by thy stripes unhealed.
With iron for thy linen bands
And unclean cloths for winding-sheet
They bind the people's nail-pierced hands,
They hide the people's nail-pierced feet;
And what man or what angel known
Shall roll back the sepulchral stone?
But these have not the rich man's grave
To sleep in when their pain is done.
These were not fit for God to save.
As naked hell-fire is the sun
In their eyes living, and when dead
These have not where to lay their head.
They have no tomb to dig, and hide;
Earth is not theirs, that they should sleep.
On all these tombless crucified
No lovers' eyes have time to weep.
So still, for all man's tears and creeds,
The sacred body hangs and bleeds.
Through the left hand a nail is driven,
Faith, and another through the right,
Forged in the fires of hell and heaven,
Fear that puts out the eye of light:
And the feet soiled and scarred and pale
Are pierced with falsehood for a nail.
And priests against the mouth divine
Push their sponge full of poison yet
And bitter blood for myrrh and wine,
And on the same reed is it set
Wherewith before they buffeted
The people's disanointed head.
O sacred head, O desecrate,
O labour-wounded feet and hands,
O blood poured forth in pledge to fate
Of nameless lives in divers lands,
O slain and spent and sacrificed
People, the grey-grown speechless Christ!
Is there a gospel in the red
Old witness of thy wide-mouthed wounds?
From thy blind stricken tongueless head
What desolate evangel sounds
A hopeless note of hope deferred?
What word, if there be any word?
O son of man, beneath man's feet
Cast down, O common face of man
Whereon all blows and buffets meet,
O royal, O republican
Face of the people bruised and dumb
And longing till thy kingdom come!
The soldiers and the high priests part
Thy vesture: all thy days are priced,
And all the nights that eat thine heart.
And that one seamless coat of Christ,
The freedom of the natural soul,
They cast their lots for to keep whole.
No fragment of it save the name
They leave thee for a crown of scorns
Wherewith to mock thy naked shame
And forehead bitten through with thorns
And, marked with sanguine sweat and tears,
The stripes of eighteen hundred years
And we seek yet if God or man
Can loosen thee as Lazarus,
Bid thee rise up republican
And save thyself and all of us;
But no disciple's tongue can say
When thou shalt take our sins away.
And mouldering now and hoar with moss
Between us and the sunlight swings
The phantom of a Christless cross
Shadowing the sheltered heads of kings
And making with its moving shade
The souls of harmless men afraid.
It creaks and rocks to left and right
Consumed of rottenness and rust,
Worm-eaten of the worms of night,
Dead as their spirits who put trust,
Round its base muttering as they sit,
In the time-cankered name of it.
Thou, in the day that breaks thy prison,
People, though these men take thy name,
And hail and hymn thee rearisen,
Who made songs erewhile of thy shame,
Give thou not ear; for these are they
Whose good day was thine evil day.
Set not thine hand unto their cross.
Give not thy soul up sacrificed.
Change not the gold of faith for dross
Of Christian creeds that spit on Christ.
Let not thy tree of freedom be
Regrafted from that rotting tree.
This dead God here against my face
Hath help for no man; who hath seen
The good works of it, or such grace
As thy grace in it, Nazarene,
As that from thy live lips which ran
For man's sake, O thou son of man?
The tree of faith ingraffed by priests
Puts its foul foliage out above thee,
And round it feed man-eating beasts
Because of whom we dare not love thee;
Though hearts reach back and memories ache,
We cannot praise thee for their sake.
O hidden face of man, whereover
The years have woven a viewless veil,
If thou wast verily man's lover,
What did thy love or blood avail?
Thy blood the priests make poison of,
And in gold shekels coin thy love.
So when our souls look back to thee
They sicken, seeing against thy side,
Too foul to speak of or to see,
The leprous likeness of a bride,
Whose kissing lips through his lips grown
Leave their God rotten to the bone.
When we would see thee man, and know
What heart thou hadst toward men indeed,
Lo, thy blood-blackened altars; lo,
The lips of priests that pray and feed
While their own hell's worm curls and licks
The poison of the crucifix.
Thou bad'st let children come to thee;
What children now but curses come?
What manhood in that God can be
Who sees their worship, and is dumb?
No soul that lived, loved, wrought, and died,
Is this their carrion crucified.
Nay, if their God and thou be one,
If thou and this thing be the same,
Thou shouldst not look upon the sun;
The sun grows haggard at thy name.
Come down, be done with, cease, give o'er;
Hide thyself, strive not, be no more.