I Don't Know Why This Morning Light
I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS MORNING LIGHT
I don’t know why this morning light,
Makes me so happy-
But it does.
The First Anniversary Of The Government Under O.C.
Like the vain Curlings of the Watry maze,
Which in smooth streams a sinking Weight does raise;
So Man, declining alwayes, disappears.
In the Weak Circles of increasing Years;
And his short Tumults of themselves Compose,
While flowing Time above his Head does close.
Cromwell alone with greater Vigour runs,
(Sun-like) the Stages of succeeding Suns:
And still the Day which he doth next restore,
Is the just Wonder of the Day before.
Cromwell alone doth with new Lustre spring,
And shines the Jewel of the yearly Ring.
'Tis he the force of scatter'd Time contracts,
And in one Year the Work of Ages acts:
While heavy Monarchs make a wide Return,
Longer, and more Malignant then Saturn:
And though they all Platonique years should raign,
In the same Posture would be found again.
Their earthly Projects under ground they lay,
More slow and brittle then the China clay:
Well may they strive to leave them to their Son,
For one Thing never was by one King don.
Yet some more active for a Frontier Town
Took in by Proxie, beggs a false Renown;
Another triumphs at the publick Cost,
And will have Wonn, if he no more have Lost;
They fight by Others, but in Person wrong,
And only are against their Subjects strong;
Their other Wars seem but a feign'd contest,
This Common Enemy is still opprest;
If Conquerors, on them they turn their might;
If Conquered, on them they wreak their Spight:
They neither build the Temple in their dayes,
Nor Matter for succeeding Founders raise;
Nor Sacred Prophecies consult within,
Much less themselves to perfect them begin,
No other care they bear of things above,
But with Astrologers divine, and Jove,
To know how long their Planet yet Reprives
From the deserved Fate their guilty lives:
Thus (Image-like) and useless time they tell,
And with vain Scepter strike the hourly Bell;
Nor more contribute to the state of Things,
Then wooden Heads unto the Viols strings,
While indefatigable Cromwell hyes,
And cuts his way still nearer to the Skyes,
Learning a Musique in the Region clear,
To tune this lower to that higher Sphere.
So when Amphion did the Lute command,
Which the God gave him, with his gentle hand,
The rougher Stones, unto his Measures hew'd,
Dans'd up in order from the Quarreys rude;
This took a Lower, that an Higher place,
As he the Treble alter'd, or the Base:
No Note he struck, but a new Story lay'd,
And the great Work ascended while he play'd.
The listning Structures he with Wonder ey'd,
And still new Stopps to various Time apply'd:
Now through the Strings a Martial rage he throws,
And joyng streight the Theban Tow'r arose;
Then as he strokes them with a Touch more sweet,
The flocking Marbles in a Palace meet;
But, for he most the graver Notes did try,
Therefore the Temples rear'd their Columns high:
Thus, ere he ceas'd, his sacred Lute creates
Th'harmonious City of the seven Gates.
Such was that wondrous Order and Consent,
When Cromwell tun'd the ruling Instrument;
While tedious Statesmen many years did hack,
Framing a Liberty that still went back;
Whose num'rous Gorge could swallow in an hour
That Island, which the Sea cannot devour:
Then our Amphion issues out and sings,
And once he struck, and twice, the pow'rful Strings.
The Commonwealth then first together came,
And each one enter'd in the willing Frame;
All other Matter yields, and may be rul'd;
But who the Minds of stubborn Men can build?
No Quarry bears a Stone so hardly wrought,
Nor with such labour from its Center brought;
None to be sunk in the Foundation bends,
Each in the House the highest Place contends,
And each the Hand that lays him will direct,
And some fall back upon the Architect;
Yet all compos'd by his attractive Song,
Into the Animated City throng.
The Common-wealth does through their Centers all
Draw the Circumf'rence of the publique Wall;
The crossest Spirits here do take their part,
Fast'ning the Contignation which they thwart;
And they, whose Nature leads them to divide,
Uphold, this one, and that the other Side;
But the most Equal still sustein the Height,
And they as Pillars keep the Work upright;
While the resistance of opposed Minds,
The Fabrick as with Arches stronger binds,
Which on the Basis of a Senate free,
Knit by the Roofs Protecting weight agree.
When for his foot he thus a place had found,
He hurles e'r since the World about him round,
And in his sev'ral Aspects, like a Star,
Here shines in Peace, and thither shoots a War.
While by his Beams observing Princes steer,
And wisely court the Influence they fear,
O would they rather by his Pattern won.
Kiss the approaching, nor yet angry Son;
And in their numbred Footsteps humbly tread
The path where holy Oracles do lead;
How might they under such a Captain raise
The great Designs kept for the latter Dayes!
But mad with reason, so miscall'd, of State
They know them not, and what they know not, hate
Hence still they sing Hosanna to the Whore,
And her whom they should Massacre adore:
But Indians whom they should convert, subdue;
Nor teach, but traffique with, or burn the Jew.
Unhappy Princes, ignorantly bred,
By Malice some, by Errour more misled;
If gracious Heaven to my Life give length,
Leisure to Times, and to my Weakness Strength,
Then shall I once with graver Accents shake
Your Regal sloth, and your long Slumbers wake:
Like the shrill Huntsman that prevents the East,
Winding his Horn to Kings that chase the Beast.
Till then my Muse shall hollow far behind
Angelique Cromwell who outwings the wind;
And in dark Nights, and in cold Dayes alone
Pursues the Monster thorough every Throne:
Which shrinking to her Roman Den impure,
Gnashes her Goary teeth; nor there secure.
Hence oft I think, if in some happy Hour
High Grace should meet in one with highest Pow'r,
And then a seasonable People still
Should bend to his, as he to Heavens will,
What we might hope, what wonderful Effect
From such a wish'd Conjuncture might reflect.
Sure, the mysterious Work, where none withstand,
Would forthwith finish under such a Hand:
Fore-shortned Time its useless Course would stay,
And soon precipitate the latest Day.
But a thick Cloud about that Morning lyes,
And intercepts the Beams of Mortal eyes,
That 'tis the most which we deteremine can,
If these the Times, then this must be the Man.
And well he therefore does, and well has guest,
Who in his Age has always forward prest:
And knowing not where Heavens choice may light,
Girds yet his Sword, and ready stands to fight;
But Men alas, as if they nothing car'd,
Look on, all unconcern'd, or unprepar'd;
And Stars still fall, and still the Dragons Tail
Swinges the Volumes of its horrid Flail.
For the great Justice that did first suspend
The World by Sin, does by the same extend.
Hence that blest Day still counterpoysed wastes,
The ill delaying, what th'Elected hastes;
Hence landing Nature to new Seas it tost,
And good Designes still with their Authors lost.
And thou, great Cromwell, for whose happy birth
A Mold was chosen out of better Earth;
Whose Saint-like Mother we did lately see
Live out an Age, long as a Pedigree;
That she might seem, could we the Fall dispute,
T'have smelt the Blossome, and not eat the Fruit;
Though none does of more lasting Parents grow,
But never any did them Honor so;
Though thou thine Heart from Evil still unstain'd,
And always hast thy Tongue from fraud refrain'd,
Thou, who so oft through Storms of thundring Lead
Hast born securely thine undaunted Head,
Thy Brest through ponyarding Conspiracies,
Drawn from the Sheath of lying Prophecies;
Thee proof beyond all other Force or Skill,
Our Sins endanger, and shall one day kill.
How near they fail'd, and in thy sudden Fall
At once assay'd to overturn us all.
Our brutish fury strugling to be Free,
Hurry'd thy Horses while they hurry'd thee.
When thou hadst almost quit thy Mortal cares,
And soyl'd in Dust thy Crown of silver Hairs.
Let this one Sorrow interweave among
The other Glories of our yearly Song.
Like skilful Looms which through the costly threed
Of purling Ore, a shining wave do shed:
So shall the Tears we on past Grief employ,
Still as they trickle, glitter in our Joy.
So with more Modesty we may be True,
And speak as of the Dead the Praises due:
While impious Men deceiv'd with pleasure short,
On their own Hopes shall find the Fall retort.
But the poor Beasts wanting their noble Guide,
What could they move? shrunk guiltily aside.
First winged Fear transports them far away,
And leaden Sorrow then their flight did stay.
See how they each his towring Crest abate,
And the green Grass, and their known Mangers hate,
Nor through wide Nostrils snuffe the wanton air,
Nor their round Hoofs, or curled Mane'scompare;
With wandring Eyes, and restless Ears theystood,
And with shrill Neighings ask'd him of the Wood.
Thou Cromwell falling, not a stupid Tree,
Or Rock so savage, but it mourn'd for thee:
And all about was heard a Panique groan,
As if that Natures self were overthrown.
It seem'd the Earth did from the Center tear;
It seem'd the Sun was faln out of the Sphere:
Justice obstructed lay, and Reason fool'd;
Courage disheartned, and Religion cool'd.
A dismal Silence through the Palace went,
And then loud Shreeks the vaulted Marbles rent.
Such as the dying Chorus sings by turns,
And to deaf Seas, and ruthless Tempests mourns,
When now they sink, and now the plundring Streams
Break up each Deck, and rip the Oaken seams.
But thee triumphant hence the firy Carr,
And firy Steeds had born out of the Warr,
From the low World, and thankless Men above,
Unto the Kingdom blest of Peace and Love:
We only mourn'd our selves, in thine Ascent,
Whom thou hadst lest beneath with Mantle rent.
For all delight of Life thou then didst lose,
When to Command, thou didst thy self Depose;
Resigning up thy Privacy so dear,
To turn the headstrong Peoples Charioteer;
For to be Cromwell was a greater thing,
Then ought below, or yet above a King:
Therefore thou rather didst thy Self depress,
Yielding to Rule, because it made thee Less.
For, neither didst thou from the first apply
Thy sober Spirit unto things too High,
But in thine own Fields exercisedst long,
An Healthful Mind within a Body strong;
Till at the Seventh time thou in the Skyes,
As a small Cloud, like a Mans hand didst rise;
Then did thick Mists and Winds the air deform,
And down at last thou pow'rdst the fertile Storm;
Which to the thirsty Land did plenty bring,
But though forewarn'd, o'r-took and wet the King.
What since he did, an higher Force him push'd
Still from behind, and it before him rush'd,
Though undiscern'd among the tumult blind,
Who think those high Decrees by Man design'd.
'Twas Heav'n would not that his Pow'r should cease,
But walk still middle betwixt War and Peace;
Choosing each Stone, and poysing every weight,
Trying the Measures of the Bredth and Height;
Here pulling down, and there erecting New,
Founding a firm State by Proportions true.
When Gideon so did from the War retreat,
Yet by Conquest of two Kings grown great,
He on the Peace extends a Warlike power,
And Is'rel silent saw him rase the Tow'r;
And how he Succoths Elders durst suppress,
With Thorns and Briars of the Wilderness.
No King might ever such a Force have done;
Yet would not he be Lord, nor yet his Son.
Thou with the same strength, and an Heart as plain,
Didst (like thine Olive) still refuse to Reign;
Though why should others all thy Labor spoil,
And Brambles be anointed with thine Oyl,
Whose climbing Flame, without a timely stop,
Had quickly Levell'd every Cedar's top.
Therefore first growing to thy self a Law,
Th'ambitious Shrubs thou in just time didst aw.
So have I seen at Sea, when whirling Winds,
Hurry the Bark, but more the Seamens minds,
Who with mistaken Course salute the Sand,
And threat'ning Rocks misapprehend for Land;
While baleful Tritons to the shipwrack guide.
And Corposants along the Tacklings slide.
The Passengers all wearyed out before,
Giddy, and wishing for the fatal Shore;
Some lusty Mate, who with more careful Eye
Counted the Hours, and ev'ry Star did spy,
The Helm does from the artless Steersman strain,
And doubles back unto the safer Main.
What though a while they grumble discontent,
Saving himself he does their loss prevent.
'Tis not a Freedome, that where All command;
Nor Tyranny, where One does them withstand:
But who of both the Bounders knows to lay
Him as their Father must the State obey.
Thou, and thine House, like Noah's Eight did rest,
Left by the Wars Flood on the Mountains crest:
And the large Vale lay subject to thy Will,
Which thou but as an Husbandman would Till:
And only didst for others plant the Vine
Of Liberty, not drunken with its Wine.
That sober Liberty which men may have,
That they enjoy, but more they vainly crave:
And such as to their Parents Tents do press,
May shew their own, not see his Nakedness.
Yet such a Chammish issue still does rage,
The Shame and Plague both of the Land and Age,
Who watch'd thy halting, and thy Fall deride,
Rejoycing when thy Foot had slipt aside;
that their new King might the fifth Scepter shake,
And make the World, by his Example, Quake:
Whose frantique Army should they want for Men
Might muster Heresies, so one were ten.
What thy Misfortune, they the Spirit call,
And their Religion only is to Fall.
Oh Mahomet! now couldst thou rise again,
Thy Falling-sickness should have made thee Reign,
While Feake and Simpson would in many a Tome,
Have writ the Comments of thy sacred Foame:
For soon thou mightst have past among their Rant
Wer't but for thine unmoved Tulipant;
As thou must needs have own'd them of thy band
For prophecies fit to be Alcorand.
Accursed Locusts, whom your King does spit
Out of the Center of th'unbottom'd Pit;
Wand'rers, Adult'rers, Lyers, Munser's rest,
Sorcerers, Atheists, Jesuites, Possest;
You who the Scriptures and the Laws deface
With the same liberty as Points and Lace;
Oh Race most hypocritically strict!
Bent to reduce us to the ancient Pict;
Well may you act the Adam and the Eve;
Ay, and the Serpent too that did deceive.
But the great Captain, now the danger's ore,
Makes you for his sake Tremble one fit more;
And, to your spight, returning yet alive
Does with himself all that is good revive.
So when first Man did through the Morning new
See the bright Sun his shining Race pursue,
All day he follow'd with unwearied sight,
Pleas'd with that other World of moving Light;
But thought him when he miss'd his setting beams,
Sunk in the Hills, or plung'd below the Streams.
While dismal blacks hung round the Universe,
And Stars (like Tapers) burn'd upon his Herse:
And Owls and Ravens with their screeching noyse
Did make the Fun'rals sadder by their Joyes.
His weeping Eyes the doleful Vigils keep,
Not knowing yet the Night was made for sleep:
Still to the West, where he him lost, he turn'd,
And with such accents, as Despairing, mourn'd:
Why did mine Eyes once see so bright a Ray;
Or why Day last no longer than a Day?
When streight the Sun behind him he descry'd,
Smiling serenely from the further side.
So while our Star that gives us Light and Heat,
Seem'd now a long and gloomy Night to threat,
Up from the other World his Flame he darts,
And Princes shining through their windows starts;
Who their suspected Counsellors refuse,
And credulous Ambassadors accuse.
"Is this, saith one, the Nation that we read
"Spent with both Wars, under a Captain dead?
"Yet rig a Navy while we dress us late;
"And ere we Dine, rase and rebuild our State.
"What Oaken Forrests, and what golden Mines!
"What Mints of Men, what Union of Designes!
"Unless their Ships, do, as their Fowle proceed
"Of shedding Leaves, that with their Ocean breed.
"Theirs are not Ships, but rather Arks of War,
"And beaked Promontories sail'd from far;
"Of floting Islands a new Hatched Nest;
"A Fleet of Worlds, of other Worlds in quest;
"An hideous shole of wood Leviathans,
"Arm'd with three Tire of brazen Hurricans;
"That through the Center shoot their thundring side
"And sink the Earth that does at Anchor ride.
'What refuge to escape them can be found,
"Whose watry Leaguers all the world surround?
"Needs must we all their Tributaries be,
"Whose Navies hold the Sluces of the Sea.
"The Ocean is the Fountain of Command,
"But that once took, we Captives are on Land:
"And those that have the Waters for their share,
"Can quickly leave us neither Earth nor Air.
"Yet if through these our Fears could find a pass;
"Through double Oak, & lin'd with treble Brass;
"That one Man still, although but nam'd, alarms
"More then all Men, all Navies, and all Arms.
"Him, all the Day, Him, in late Nights I dread,
"And still his Sword seems hanging o're my head.
"The Nation had been ours, but his one Soul
"Moves the great Bulk, and animates the whole.
"He Secrecy with Number hath inchas'd,
"Courage with Age, Maturity with Hast:
"The Valiants Terror, Riddle of the Wise;
"And still his Fauchion all our Knots unties.
"Where did he learn those Arts that cost us dear?
"Where below Earth, or where above the Sphere?
"He seems a King by long Succession born,
"And yet the same to be a King does scorn.
"Abroad a King he seems, and something more,
"At Home a Subject on the equal Floor.
"O could I once him with our Title see,
"So should I hope yet he might Dye as wee.
"But let them write his Praise that love him best,
"It grieves me sore to have thus much confest.
"Pardon, great Prince, if thus their Fear or Spight
"More then our Love and Duty do thee Right.
"I yield, nor further will the Prize contend;
"So that we both alike may miss our End:
"While thou thy venerable Head dost raise
"As far above their Malice as my Praise.
"And as the Angel of our Commonweal,
"Troubling the Waters, yearly mak'st them Heal.
- quotes about height
- quotes about monsters
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about strength
- quotes about worry
- quotes about resignation
- quotes about heresy
- quotes about hate
- quotes about Earth
Initiation You Know Will Irritate
Why should it have to explained?
Figure it out!
You have a brain.
And why some do,
I wonder of the use?
My comments aren't always patronizing.
And if a useless one could be renovated?
Only another miracle has been witnessed.
Is every thought in this air confusing you?
I can understand if it does.
You wish to play with the best of my emotions.
And I am looking for the nearest exit.
Somehow what had been attractive,
With skin tone claims and nonexistent depth...
Begins to devalue in purpose.
There is absolutely nothing left between us,
But a shared unpleasant attitude.
If I do anything you dislike or don't understand...
Why introduce an initiation you know will irritate?
You send an invitation to irritation each time.
And you want me to explain...
Why that white picket fence,
Wont find us together building it!
Does Anyone Know The Colour Of God
God made us different so we could give,
Different perceptions on how we should live,
If he knew it would've caused so much trouble,
He'd have left our planet as a pile of rubble.
He gave us all colours as a lasting gift,
I doubt that he dreamed it would cause such a rift,
But don't blame God for this shady assault,
He gave us all minds, it's entirely our fault.
We really need to focus attention,
As our world enters a dangerous dimension,
That togetherness is what will set the pace,
Not the colour of a persons face.
If the Human Race would just unite,
Then maybe for once we'd all see the light,
That to battle through our stormy weather,
The only way forward is to work together.
Take Lewis Hamilton from formula one,
A world champion second to none,
His Father was black, his mother white,
That never stopped him getting it right.
Another example is the man called Barack,
His mother was white his father black,
This proves beyond doubt what we can achieve,
If we get rid of prejudice and start to believe.
Obama's now president of the United States,
Proud that he walked through those White House gates,
The peoples selection has shown us all,
That regardless of colour we can all stand tall.
If everything we seen was drab and grey,
Would our world look as nice that way,
The flowers and animals on our beautiful planet,
The eagles and ospreys, the sea loving gannet.
Just look at the rainbow way up high,
Those united colours grace a wonderful sky,
The insects the trees all differing shades,
From the Sahara desert to the Everglades.
Regardless of colour you're a Human Being,
None have the right to think We're all seeing,
That one race is strong whilst the other is weak,
The meaning of life proves we're all unique.
If we'd only use our God given skill,
We could unite as one if we had the will,
It's part of our heritage the colour of our skin,
Be proud but united and our battle we'll win.
In essence all Humans are much the same,
As we try to survive in life's great game,
If we could set our differences aside,
The racists and bigots would have nowhere to hide.
Black and White would be no more,
We'd all be welcome at each others door,
The Human Race must now realise,
If we don't work as one our planet dies.
If only the world would follow Gods lead,
The preachers of hate would be forced to concede,
Your colour is beautiful it should not be confined,
It will take every shade to save humankind.
You may be black, brown or red even yellow or white,
Regardless of colour we we all know wrong from right.
If we stopped preaching hatred against one another,
We could actually live as sister and brother.
When you pray to your saviour do you honestly care,
What shade they might be as long as they're there,
This whole concept of colour by humans is flawed,
'' Does Anyone Know The Color Of God ''
A Pre Nup Is Vital
Paul's now married Nancy Shevell,
He knows she won't put him through Hell
It's great that he can now be sure,
She'll take him on a, ‘' Magical Mystery Tour ‘'
Paul has had a nasty fright,
He was having, '' A Hard Days Night ‘',
His ex behaved like a bloody whelp,
That's why he deserved some, '' Help ''.
All she wanted was'' A Taste Of Honey '',
Then she said, ‘' I Want Money '',
Poor Pauls mind was in a whirl,
He wishes he'd met ‘'Another Girl ‘'.
If he had there would be no frown,
All he asked was ‘'Don't Let Me Down ‘',
He told his Stella in a letter,
You warned me ‘' I Should Have Known Better ‘'.
Next time if there are signs of strife,
Take my advice and ‘'Run For Your Life ‘',
No need to listen to any more yammer,
Just use old ‘' Maxwells Silver Hammer ‘'.
His lawyers advised him don't say a word,
We'll soon have you as ‘' Free As A Bird '',
Don't get angry or even, ‘' Shout '',
Leave it to us ‘' We Can Work It Out ‘'.
Take a holiday perhaps to Rome,
You can celebrate now ‘' She's Leaving Home ‘',
Now you've finally given her shove,
Your money will make her a ‘' Soldier Of Love ‘'.
Some of the claims were really wild,
They should be thinking of their, '' Little Child ‘'.
She kept saying it wasn't me,
He really wished she'd ' Let It Be ‘'''.
Paul stayed silent despite the flak,
He only wished she would '' Get Back ‘',
Perhaps to Russia that's quite far,
Then she'd be'' Back In The U.S.S.R. ‘'.
Throughout it all felt like Digby,
He wishes he'd married '' Eleanor Rigby ‘',
The lurid claims kept the trouble brewing,
Paul asked her do you know, ‘' What You're Doing ‘'.
She says money that will do,
It's worth what came ‘' From Me To You ‘',
Paul stays quiet and keeps in line,
When asked he just says '' I Feel Fine ‘'.
He's worried about Bea and what she will say,
When she recalls, ‘' Things We Said Today ‘',
Paul had nothing to hide he had no need to lie,
All he asked was please ‘' Tell Me Why ‘'.
Some of the claims were really crass,
But Paul just says ‘' All Things Must Pass ‘',
Now she's finally gone away,
She has now become '' Yesterday ‘'.
That's when his pride he will restore,
He'll never look back on, ‘' The Night Before ‘'
He's behaved with dignity he's kept his pride,
Now he can buy a ‘' Ticket To Ride ''.
Now just as Pauls life transcends,
He'l say I'lll get by, ‘' With A Little Help From My Friends '',
As he starts his new life his problems unload,
He is now on, ‘' The Long And Winding Road ''.
Now she's long gone Paul lets out a sigh,
While his ex is still ranting Paul says, ‘' No Reply ‘',
She's raging at Paul she says it's not funny,
Her claim was ‘' You Never Give Me Your Money ''.
Paul said stop it you're making me cry,
Please go and get yourself ‘' Some Other Guy ‘',
I was doing okay ‘' Till There Was You ‘',
Now I can live, ‘' Like Dreamers Do ''.
Now this is finished I will guarantee,
Until I die ‘' You Won't See Me ‘',
Paul's a romantic he's not a fighter,
Maybe now he'll become ‘' A Paperback Writer ‘'.
He can tell us all now he's rid of his fetter,
How his new life is ‘' Getting Better ''
He can write a new book or create some new numbers,
Now he has time for some ‘' Golden Slumbers ''
Pauls divorce means they're finally apart,
He knows she had ‘' A Devil In Her Heart ‘',
She has finally gone there is no more pain,
Paul says ‘' Christmas Time Is Here Again ‘'.
He has now seen ‘' The Inner Light ‘',
Now that his ex is way out of sight,
His marriage to her was a bitter pill,
Which left him feeling like ‘' The Fool On The Hill ‘'.
But now he's back where he belongs,
Writing and singing his memorable songs,
At last he can say ‘' Here Comes The Sun ‘',
He now thinks ‘' Happiness Is A Warm Gun ‘'.
His new soul-mate Nancy is a gift from above,
He'll now find the meaning of ‘' Real Love ‘',
We all know his ex was making him cry,
Now she's asking her friends ‘' Don't Pass Me By ‘'.
So go on Paul you know what to do,
Tell Bea ‘' I'm Happy Just To Dance With You ‘',
‘' If You've Got Trouble ‘' you can take the flak,
Like you always say ‘' I'LL BE BACK ‘'.
Third time lucky with Nancy Shevell,
She'd stand by me, ‘' If I Fell ''
I know she'll never leave me reeling,
You ask how I know, ‘' I've Got A Feeling ‘'.
Pauls behaviour we can only commend,
We all knew he'd win through in, ‘' The End ''
Now he's remarried he can pen a new title,
perhaps he will call it,
‘'A PRE NUP IS VITAL''.
Forsaking All Others Part 5
TRAINED nurses, trained nurses everywhere
Trained nurses by night, trained nurses by day -
In the corridors, on the stair,
Looking for towels, carrying a tray;
Saying, 'you mustn't,' 'you must,' 'you may.'
Smooth as to hair, stiff as to skirt,
Kind in a cool, impersonal way,
Angels of mercy, bright-eyed, alert,
Hard young angels, sent to avert
That older angel of dark despair
Stiff starched angels, a trifle curt
Trained nurses, trained nurses everywhere.
A WHITE figure spoke from the doorway
In a tone deliberately bright:
'Would you like to see the patient
For a moment, and say goodnight?'
Shepherded in like a stranger
He stood beside her bed,
Gazed at those pale, blank eyelids
In that carven ivory head.
Took her hand and heard her
Murmur: 'Is that you, Jim?'
But he knew she was very tired
Tired even of him.
Too much spent with the struggle
Of drawing breath to afford
A brief smile - utterly weary,
And more than utterly bored.
NEVER before had Ruth been out of reach:
Barriers had been - but only of his making.
Now she had passed beyond the power of speech,
Quite, quite indifferent that his heart was breaking.
Here in the bedroom that he used to share
She lived day after day, averse to living,
Indifferent, unforgiving, unaware
That he had any need of her forgiving.
AT first Lee wrote to him every day
Tactful letters, that let him see
She knew very well he would rather be
With her - but it wasn't the thing to say.
Tactful letters at first, and then
Letters less tactful and more sincere,
Ending: 'Why don't you write to me, dear?'
Write to me . . . over and over again.
But he could not answer her piteous call;
Not exactly that he forgot
Their love, but only that she had not
Any reality for him at all.
She seemed like a pleasant book he had read -
Read and enjoyed; but the printed page
Cannot compete with the heritage
Of Nature. . . the living, and Oh, the dead!
At last he sent her a brief reply:
'I cannot write - or eat or sleep
Just now. I am going through the deep
Waters. Forgive me, dear Lee. Good-bye.'
THEN a night came
When in sleep broken
He heard his name
Into his dream
Horrors flocked thickly
Was that a scream?
'Better come quicklyl'
Cold was his room
And his hands shaking;
Out of the gloom
Dawn was just breaking
Dawn cool and green
Over the ocean,
Never more seen
Of death - agony
All dawns that dawn, when he
Knew Ruth was dying.
WHAT can you do with a woman's things
After a woman is dead?
Not the bracelets and rings and strings
Of pearls, but the small unvalued things
What can I do, Wayne said.
What can you do with a woman's dresses,
After a woman is dead?
Hanging limp in the cedar presses,
They are part of herself, her pretty dresses
What can I do, Wayne said.
What can you do with a woman's shoes,
After a woman is dead?
Shoes that perhaps you helped her choose,
Poor little empty half-worn shoes
What can I do, Wayne said.
What can you do with her brush and comb,
After a woman is dead?
What in God's name can you do with her home
And her loss and her love and her brush and comb
What can I do, Wayne said.
UP a little river
Where salmon used to play,
Not twenty miles distant
A little village lay -
Ruth's native village,
Where Wayne used to go
To see his mother's mother
Many years ago.
Here in a churchyard
With pines along the wall
And a wooden church steeple
Almost too tall,
Here in September,
On a bright clear day
Among the graves of sailors,
They laid Ruth away.
In this same churchyard,
Sitting on the stones,
He had first said he loved her
In young shaken tones.
That had been September,
But not this bright light.
Between the pine-needles
The stars shone white,
Such a little maiden,
Such a young man
'I love you.' - And she answered:
'I don't see how you can.'
They had been so happy
They had not cared at all
That the place was a churchyard
With pines along the wall.
WAYNE stood bareheaded on the churchyard sward
By the open grave under the open sky:
'I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord,
He who believeth in Me shall never die.'
Beautiful, terrible service! He heard a word
Here and there, and then he would drift away
To other memories and things not heard
Ruth's laugh when she used to laugh, so little and gay.
'When thou with rebukes dost chasten a man from sin..'
Was it sin that had parted him from Ruth?
Was sin the secret corrosion that entered in
Likea moth fretting the garment of love in youth?
Too late, too late! He heard the parson say:
'Before I go hence and be no more seen. . .
A thousand years in thy sight is but as yesterday. . .
Too late, too late! 'As grass in the morning green...'
'Was it Ruth he was leaving here in the churchyard plot
Could it be Ruth who had gone, not saying good-bye?
'What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?
Let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die.'
How can a man help eating and drinking?
Die to-morrow! To-day, if he had his will.
How many years must he spend in thinking, thinking
Of the thing which someone has said that all men kill?
Well, he could bear what he must bear - even the sound
Of earth on a coffin falling. What must be must.
'We therefore commit her body to the ground,
Ashes to ashes, earth to earth, dust to dust.'
Prayers! Would they never be done, these killing
Rites for the dead! Ah, there was the organ's roll
From the little church, and children's.voices shrilling,
Piping Ruth's favourite hymn, 'Hark, hark, my soul...'
'Hark, hark, my soul! Angelic songs are swelling
O'er earth's green fields and ocean's wave-beat shore;
How sweet the truth those blessed strains are telling
Of that new life where sin shall be no morel
Angels of Jesus,
Angels of light,
Singing to welcome
The pilgrims of the night.'
I've tried so many times to write,
And now I must write, for I sail next week
For Italy - Sardinia - I might
Go on to Egypt later, and the Greek Islands.
I may be several years away.
'I loved you, Lee. I wonder if I can
Explain at all what's happened? From your wealth
You gave me freely - more than any man
Has ever had - beauty, wit, youth and health
I loved you passionately; and now my wife
Is dead. One might expect a mild distress,
A briefly pensive mood. . . Instead, my life
Is shattered. . . is dissolved. . . is meaningless. . .
She whom of late I thought so little of
And saw so little, was, I find, the spring
Of all I did and felt - even of my love
Of you. . . What an insane, incredible thingl
But there it is.
'Dear Lee, this is the truth:
That any marriage founded on devotion
Though that devotion die, as mine for Ruth,
Is not a state, but a unique emotion,
Potent, unalterable - not romantic
Love, though romantic love is where it starts
Marriage begins only when those hot, frantic
Fires have finished welding human hearts.
It is not love, friendship, or partnership,
But this emotion-marriage, of a force
That when it once has held you in its grip
Nothing will free you wholly - not divorce,
Or death, for these destroy not it, but you,
As I am now destroyed.
'Beware, dear Lee,
Of a true marriage, if you are not true
Yourself - or you will be destroyed - like me.'
THE LOVER'S JOURNEY.
It is the Soul that sees: the outward eyes
Present the object, but the Mind descries;
And thence delight, disgust, or cool indiff'rence
When minds are joyful, then we look around,
And what is seen is all on fairy ground;
Again they sicken, and on every view
Cast their own dull and melancholy hue;
Or, if absorb'd by their peculiar cares,
The vacant eye on viewless matter glares,
Our feelings still upon our views attend,
And their own natures to the objects lend:
Sorrow and joy are in their influence sure,
Long as the passion reigns th' effects endure;
But Love in minds his various changes makes,
And clothes each object with the change he takes;
His light and shade on every view he throws,
And on each object what he feels bestows.
Fair was the morning, and the month was June,
When rose a Lover;--love awakens soon:
Brief his repose, yet much he dreamt the while
Of that day's meeting, and his Laura's smile:
Fancy and love that name assign'd to her,
Call'd Susan in the parish-register;
And he no more was John--his Laura gave
The name Orlando to her faithful slave.
Bright shone the glory of the rising day,
When the fond traveller took his favourite way;
He mounted gaily, felt his bosom light,
And all he saw was pleasing in his sight.
'Ye hours of expectation, quickly fly,
And bring on hours of bless'd reality;
When I shall Laura see, beside her stand,
Hear her sweet voice, and press her yielded hand.'
First o'er a barren heath beside the coast
Orlando rode, and joy began to boast.
'This neat low gorse,' said he, 'with golden
Delights each sense, is beauty, is perfume;
And this gay ling, with all its purple flowers,
A man at leisure might admire for hours;
This green-fringed cup-moss has a scarlet tip,
That yields to nothing but my Laura's lip;
And then how fine this herbage! men may say
A heath is barren; nothing is so gay:
Barren or bare to call such charming scene
Argues a mind possess'd by care and spleen.'
Onward he went, and fiercer grew the heat,
Dust rose in clouds before the horse's feet;
For now he pass'd through lanes of burning sand,
Bounds to thin crops or yet uncultured land;
Where the dark poppy flourish'd on the dry
And sterile soil, and mock'd the thin-set rye.
'How lovely this!' the rapt Orlando said;
'With what delight is labouring man repaid!
The very lane has sweets that all admire,
The rambling suckling, and the vigorous brier;
See! wholesome wormwood grows beside the way,
Where dew-press'd yet the dog-rose bends the spray;
Fresh herbs the fields, fair shrubs the banks
And snow-white bloom falls flaky from the thorn;
No fostering hand they need, no sheltering wall,
They spring uncultured, and they bloom for all.'
The Lover rode as hasty lovers ride,
And reach'd a common pasture wild and wide;
Small black-legg'd sheep devour with hunger keen
The meagre herbage, fleshless, lank, and lean:
Such o'er thy level turf, Newmarket! stray,
And there, with other black-legs, find their prey.
He saw some scatter'd hovels; turf was piled
In square brown stacks; a prospect bleak and wild!
A mill, indeed, was in the centre found,
With short sear herbage withering all around;
A smith's black shed opposed a wright's long shop,
And join'd an inn where humble travellers stop.
'Ay, this is Nature,' said the gentle 'Squire;
'This ease, peace, pleasure--who would not admire?
With what delight these sturdy children play,
And joyful rustics at the close of day;
Sport follows labour; on this even space
Will soon commence the wrestling and the race;
Then will the village-maidens leave their home,
And to the dance with buoyant spirits come;
No affectation in their looks is seen,
Nor know they what disguise aud flattery mean;
Nor aught to move an envious pang they see,
Easy their service, and their love is free;
Hence early springs that love, it long endures,
And life's first comfort, while they live, ensures:
They the low roof and rustic comforts prize,
Nor cast on prouder mansions envying eyes:
Sometimes the news at yonder town they hear,
And learn what busier mortals feel and fear;
Secure themselves, although by tales amazed
Of towns bombarded and of cities razed;
As if they doubted, in their still retreat,
The very news that makes their quiet sweet,
And their days happy--happier only knows
He on whom Laura her regard bestows.'
On rode Orlando, counting all the while
The miles he pass'd, and every coming mile;
Like all attracted things, he quicker flies,
The place approaching where th' attraction lies;
When next appear'd a dam--so call the place -
Where lies a road confined in narrow space;
A work of labour, for on either side
Is level fen, a prospect wild and wide,
With dikes on either hand by ocean's self supplied:
Far on the right the distant sea is seen,
And salt the springs that feed the marsh between:
Beneath an ancient bridge, the straiten'd flood
Rolls through its sloping banks of slimy mud;
Near it a sunken boat resists the tide,
That frets and hurries to th' opposing side;
The rushes sharp, that on the borders grow,
Bend their brown flow'rets to the stream below,
Impure in all its course, in all its progress slow:
Here a grave Flora scarcely deigns to bloom,
Nor wears a rosy blush, nor sheds perfume:
The few dull flowers that o'er the place are spread
Partake the nature of their fenny bed;
Here on its wiry stem, in rigid bloom,
Grows the salt lavender that lacks perfume;
Here the dwarf sallows creep, the septfoil harsh,
And the soft slimy mallow of the marsh;
Low on the ear the distant billows sound,
And just in view appears their stony bound;
No hedge nor tree conceals the glowing sun,
Birds, save a wat'ry tribe, the district shun,
Nor chirp among the reeds where bitter waters run.
'Various as beauteous, Nature, is thy face,'
Exclaim'd Orlando: 'all that grows has grace:
All are appropriate--bog, and marsh, and fen,
Are only poor to undiscerning men;
Here may the nice and curious eye explore
How Nature's hand adorns the rushy moor;
Here the rare moss in secret shade is found,
Here the sweet myrtle of the shaking ground;
Beauties are these that from the view retire,
But well repay th' attention they require;
For these my Laura will her home forsake,
And all the pleasures they afford partake.'
Again, the country was enclosed, a wide
And sandy road has banks on either side;
Where, lo! a hollow on the left appear'd,
And there a gipsy tribe their tent had rear'd;
'Twas open spread, to catch the morning sun,
And they had now their early meal begun,
When two brown boys just left their grassy seat,
The early Trav'ller with their prayers to greet:
While yet Orlando held his pence in hand,
He saw their sister on her duty stand;
Some twelve years old, demure, affected, sly,
Prepared the force of early powers to try;
Sudden a look of languor he descries,
And well-feign'd apprehension in her eyes;
Train'd but yet savage, in her speaking face
He mark'd the features of her vagrant race;
When a light laugh and roguish leer express'd
The vice implanted in her youthful breast:
Forth from the tent her elder brother came,
Who seem'd offended, yet forbore to blame
The young designer, but could only trace
The looks of pity in the trav'ller's face:
Within, the Father, who from fences nigh
Had brought the fuel for the fire's supply,
Watch'd now the feeble blaze, and stood dejected
On ragged rug, just borrow'd from the bed,
And by the hand of coarse indulgence fed,
In dirty patchwork negligently dress'd,
Reclined the Wife, an infant at her breast;
In her wild face some touch of grace remain'd,
Of vigour palsied and of beauty stain'd;
Her bloodshot eyes on her unheeding mate
Were wrathful turn'd, and seem'd her wants to
Cursing his tardy aid--her Mother there
With gipsy-state engross'd the only chair;
Solemn and dull her look; with such she stands,
And reads the milk-maid's fortune in her hands,
Tracing the lines of life; assumed through years,
Each feature now the steady falsehood wears;
With hard and savage eye she views the food,
And grudging pinches their intruding brood;
Last in the group, the worn-out Grandsire sits
Neglected, lost, and living but by fits:
Useless, despised, his worthless labours done,
And half protected by the vicious Son,
Who half supports him; he with heavy glance
Views the young ruffians who around him dance;
And, by the sadness in his face, appears
To trace the progress of their future years:
Through what strange course of misery, vice,
Must wildly wander each unpractised cheat!
What shame and grief, what punishment and pain,
Sport of fierce passions, must each child sustain -
Ere they like him approach their latter end,
Without a hope, a comfort, or a friend!
But this Orlando felt not; 'Rogues,' said he,
'Doubtless they are, but merry rogues they be;
They wander round the land, and be it true
They break the laws--then let the laws pursue
The wanton idlers; for the life they live,
Acquit I cannot, but I can forgive.'
This said, a portion from his purse was thrown,
And every heart seem'd happy like his own.
He hurried forth, for now the town was nigh -
'The happiest man of mortal men am I.'
Thou art! but change in every state is near
(So while the wretched hope, the bless'd may fear):
'Say, Where is Laura?'--'That her words must show,'
A lass replied; 'read this, and thou shalt know!'
'What, gone!--'Her friend insisted--forced to
Is vex'd, was teased, could not refuse her'--No?
'But you can follow.' Yes! 'The miles are few,
The way is pleasant; will you come?--Adieu!
Thy Laura!' No! I feel I must resign
The pleasing hope; thou hadst been here, if mine.
A lady was it?--Was no brother there?
But why should I afflict me, if there were?
'The way is pleasant.' What to me the way?
I cannot reach her till the close of day.
My dumb companion! Is it thus we speed?
Not I from grief nor thou from toil art freed;
Still art thou doom'd to travel and to pine,
For my vexation--What a fate is mine!
'Gone to a friend, she tells me;--I commend
Her purpose: means she to a female friend?
By Heaven, I wish she suffer'd half the pain
Of hope protracted through the day in vain.
Shall I persist to see th' ungrateful maid?
Yes, I will see her, slight her, and upbraid.
What! in the very hour? She knew the time,
And doubtless chose it to increase her crime.'
Forth rode Orlando by a river's side,
Inland and winding, smooth, and full, and wide,
That roll'd majestic on, in one soft-flowing tide;
The bottom gravel, flow'ry were the banks,
Tall willows waving in their broken ranks;
The road, now near, now distant, winding led
By lovely meadows which the waters fed;
He pass'd the way-side inn, the village spire,
Nor stopp'd to gaze, to question or admire;
On either side the rural mansions stood,
With hedge-row trees, and hills, high-crown'd with
And many a devious stream that reach'd the nobler
'I hate these scenes,' Orlando angry cried,
'And these proud farmers! yes I hate their pride,
See! that sleek fellow, how he strides along,
Strong as an ox, and ignorant as strong;
Can yon close crops a single eye detain
But he who counts the profits of the grain?
And these vile beans with deleterious smell,
Where is there beauty? can a mortal tell?
These deep fat meadows I detest; it shocks
One's feelings there to see the grazing ox; -
For slaughter fatted, as a lady's smile
Rejoices man, and means his death the while.
Lo! now the sons of labour! every day
Employ'd in toil and vex'd in every way;
Theirs is but mirth assumed, and they conceal,
In their affected joys, the ills they feel:
I hate these long green lanes; there's nothing sees
In this vile country but eternal green;
Woods! waters! meadows! Will they never end?
'Tis a vile prospect: --Gone to see a friend?'
Still on he rode! a mansion fair and tall
Rose on his view--the pride of Loddon Hall:
Spread o'er the park he saw the grazing steer,
The full-fed steed, and herds of bounding deer:
On a clear stream the vivid sunbeams play'd,
Through noble elms, and on the surface made
That moving picture, checker'd light and shade;
Th' attended children, there indulged to stray,
Enjoy'd and gave new beauty to the day;
Whose happy parents from their room were seen
Pleased with the sportive idlers on the green.
'Well!' said Orlando, 'and for one so bless'd,
A thousand reasoning wretches are distressed;
Nay, these, so seeming glad, are grieving like the
Man is a cheat--and all but strive to hide
Their inward misery by their outward pride.
What do yon lofty gates and walls contain,
But fruitless means to sooth unconquer'd pain?
The parents read each infant daughter's smile,
Form'd to seduce, encouraged to beguile;
They view the boys unconscious of their fate,
Sure to be tempted, sure to take the bait;
These will be Lauras, sad Orlandos these -
There's guilt and grief in all one hears and sees.'
Our Trav'ller, lab'ring up a hill, look'd down
Upon a lively, busy, pleasant town;
All he beheld were there alert, alive,
The busiest bees that ever stock'd a hive:
A pair were married, and the bells aloud
Proclaim'd their joy, and joyful seem'd the crowd;
And now, proceeding on his way, he spied,
Bound by strong ties, the bridegroom and the bride,
Each by some friends attended, near they drew,
And spleen beheld them with prophetic view.
'Married! nay mad!' Orlando cried in scorn;
'Another wretch on this unlucky morn:
What are this foolish mirth, these idle joys?
Attempts to stifle doubt and fear by noise:
To me these robes, expressive of delight,
Foreshow distress, and only grief excite;
And for these cheerful friends, will they behold
Their wailing brood in sickness, want, and cold;
And his proud look, and her soft languid air
Will--but I spare you--go, unhappy pair!'
And now, approaching to the Journey's end,
His anger fails, his thoughts to kindness tend,
He less offended feels, and rather fears t'offend:
Now gently rising, hope contends with doubt,
And casts a sunshine on the views without;
And still reviving joy and lingering gloom
Alternate empire o'er his soul assume;
Till, long perplex'd he now began to find
The softer thoughts engross the settling mind:
He saw the mansion, and should quickly see
His Laura's self--and angry could he be?
No! the resentment melted all away -
'For this my grief a single smile will pay,'
Our trav'ller cried;--'And why should it offend,
That one so good should have a pressing friend?
Grieve not, my heart! to find a favourite guest
Thy pride and boast--ye selfish sorrows rest;
She will be kind, and I again be bless'd.'
While gentler passions thus his bosom sway'd
He reach'd the mansion, and he saw the maid;
'My Laura!'--'My Orlando!--this is kind;
In truth I came persuaded, not inclined:
Our friends' amusement let us now pursue,
And I to-morrow will return with you.'
Like man entranced the happy Lover stood -
'As Laura wills, for she is kind and good;
Ever the truest, gentlest, fairest, best -
As Laura wills: I see her and am bless'd.'
Home went the Lovers through that busy place,
By Loddon Hall, the country's pride and grace;
By the rich meadows where the oxen fed,
Through the green vale that form'd the river's bed;
And by unnumber'd cottages and farms,
That have for musing minds unnumbered charms;
And how affected by the view of these
Was then Orlando? did they pain or please?
Nor pain nor pleasure could they yield--and why?
The mind was fill'd, was happy, and the eye
Roved o'er the fleeting views, that but appear'd to
Alone Orlando on the morrow paced
The well-known road; the gipsy-tent he traced;
The dam high-raised, the reedy dikes between,
The scatter'd hovels on the barren green,
The burning sand, the fields of thin-set rye,
Mock'd by the useless Flora blooming by;
And last the heath with all its various bloom,
And the close lanes that led the trav'ller home.
Then could these scenes the former joys renew?
Or was there now dejection in the view? -
Nor one or other would they yield--and why?
The mind was absent, and the vacant eye
Wander'd o'er viewless scenes, that but appear'd to
Sleep And Poetry
As I lay in my bed slepe full unmete
Was unto me, but why that I ne might
Rest I ne wist, for there n'as erthly wight
[As I suppose] had more of hertis ese
Than I, for I n'ad sicknesse nor disese. ~ Chaucer
What is more gentle than a wind in summer?
What is more soothing than the pretty hummer
That stays one moment in an open flower,
And buzzes cheerily from bower to bower?
What is more tranquil than a musk-rose blowing
In a green island, far from all men's knowing?
More healthful than the leafiness of dales?
More secret than a nest of nightingales?
More serene than Cordelia's countenance?
More full of visions than a high romance?
What, but thee Sleep? Soft closer of our eyes!
Low murmurer of tender lullabies!
Light hoverer around our happy pillows!
Wreather of poppy buds, and weeping willows!
Silent entangler of a beauty's tresses!
Most happy listener! when the morning blesses
Thee for enlivening all the cheerful eyes
That glance so brightly at the new sun-rise.
But what is higher beyond thought than thee?
Fresher than berries of a mountain tree?
More strange, more beautiful, more smooth, more regal,
Than wings of swans, than doves, than dim-seen eagle?
What is it? And to what shall I compare it?
It has a glory, and naught else can share it:
The thought thereof is awful, sweet, and holy,
Chasing away all worldliness and folly;
Coming sometimes like fearful claps of thunder,
Or the low rumblings earth's regions under;
And sometimes like a gentle whispering
Of all the secrets of some wond'rous thing
That breathes about us in the vacant air;
So that we look around with prying stare,
Perhaps to see shapes of light, aerial limning,
And catch soft floatings from a faint-heard hymning;
To see the laurel wreath, on high suspended,
That is to crown our name when life is ended.
Sometimes it gives a glory to the voice,
And from the heart up-springs, rejoice! rejoice!
Sounds which will reach the Framer of all things,
And die away in ardent mutterings.
No one who once the glorious sun has seen,
And all the clouds, and felt his bosom clean
For his great Maker's presence, but must know
What 'tis I mean, and feel his being glow:
Therefore no insult will I give his spirit,
By telling what he sees from native merit.
O Poesy! for thee I hold my pen
That am not yet a glorious denizen
Of thy wide heaven- Should I rather kneel
Upon some mountain-top until I feel
A glowing splendour round about me hung,
And echo back the voice of thine own tongue?
O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen
That am not yet a glorious denizen
Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer,
Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
Smooth'd for intoxication by the breath
Of flowering bays, that I may die a death
Of luxury, and my young spirit follow
The morning sun-beams to the great Apollo
Like a fresh sacrifice; or, if I can bear
The o'erwhelming sweets, 'twill bring to me the fair
Visions of all places: a bowery nook
Will be elysium- an eternal book
Whence I may copy many a lovely saying
About the leaves, and flowers- about the playing
Of nymphs in woods, and fountains; and the shade
Keeping a silence round a sleeping maid;
And many a verse from so strange influence
That we must ever wonder how, and whence
It came. Also imaginings will hover
Round my fire-side, and haply there discover
Vistas of solemn beauty, where I'd wander
In happy silence, like the clear Meander
Through its lone vales; and where I found a spot
Of awfuller shade, or an enchanted grot,
Or a green hill o'erspread with chequer'd dress
Of flowers, and fearful from its loveliness,
Write on my tablets all that was permitted,
All that was for our human senses fitted.
Then the events of this wide world I'd seize
Like a strong giant, and my spirit teaze
Till at its shoulders it should proudly see
Wings to find out an immortality.
Stop and consider! life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree's summit; a poor Indian's sleep
While his boat hastens to the monstrous steep
Of Montmorenci. Why so sad a moan?
Life is the rose's hope while yet unblown;
The reading of an ever-changing tale;
The light uplifting of a maiden's veil;
A pigeon tumbling in clear summer air;
A laughing school-boy, without grief or care,
Riding the springy branches of an elm.
O for ten years, that I may overwhelm
Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed
That my own soul has to itself decreed.
Then will I pass the countries that I see
In long perspective, and continually
Taste their pure fountains. First the realm I'll pass
Of Flora, and old Pan: sleep in the grass,
Feed upon apples red, and strawberries,
And choose each pleasure that my fancy sees;
Catch the white-handed nymphs in shady places,
To woo sweet kisses from averted faces,-
Play with their fingers, touch their shoulders white
Into a pretty shrinking with a bite
As hard as lips can make it: till agreed,
A lovely tale of human life we'll read.
And one will teach a tame dove how it best
May fan the cool air gently o'er my rest;
Another, bending o'er her nimble tread,
Will set a green robe floating round her head,
And still will dance with ever varied ease,
Smiling upon the flowers and the trees:
Another will entice me on, and on
Through almond blossoms and rich cinnamon;
Till in the bosom of a leafy world
We rest in silence, like two gems upcurl'd
In the recesses of a pearly shell.
And can I ever bid these joys farewell?
Yes, I must pass them for a nobler life,
Where I may find the agonies, the strife
Of human hearts: for lo! I see afar,
O'ersailing the blue cragginess, a car
And steeds with streamy manes- the charioteer
Looks out upon the winds with glorious fear:
And now the numerous tramplings quiver lightly
Along a huge cloud's ridge; and now with sprightly
Wheel downward come they into fresher skies,
Tipt round with silver from the sun's bright eyes.
Still downward with capacious whirl they glide;
And now I see them on the green-hill's side
In breezy rest among the nodding stalks.
The charioteer with wond'rous gesture talks
To the trees and mountains; and there soon appear
Shapes of delight, of mystery, and fear,
Passing along before a dusky space
Made by some mighty oaks: as they would chase
Some ever- fleeting music on they sweep.
Lo! how they murmur, laugh, and smile, and weep:
Some with upholden hand and mouth severe;
Some with their faces muffled to the ear
Between their arms; some, clear in youthful bloom,
Go glad and smilingly athwart the gloom;
Some looking back, and some with upward gaze;
Yes, thousands in a thousand different ways
Flit onward- now a lovely wreath of girls
Dancing their sleek hair into tangled curls;
And now broad wings. Most awfully intent
The driver of those steeds is forward bent,
And seems to listen: O that I might know
All that he writes with such a hurrying glow.
The visions all are fled- the car is fled
Into the light of heaven, and in their stead
A sense of real things comes doubly strong,
And, like a muddy stream, would bear along
My soul to nothingness: but I will strive
Against all doubtings, and will keep alive
The thought of that same chariot, and the strange
Journey it went.
Is there so small a range
In the present strength of manhood, that the high
Imagination cannot freely fly
As she was wont of old? prepare her steeds,
Paw up against the light, and do strange deeds
Upon the clouds? Has she not shown us all?
From the clear space of ether, to the small
Breath of new buds unfolding? From the meaning
Of Jove's large eye-brow, to the tender greening
Of April meadows? Here her altar shone,
E'en in this isle; and who could paragon
The fervid choir that lifted up a noise
Of harmony, to where it aye will poise
Its mighty self of convoluting sound,
Huge as a planet, and like that roll round,
Eternally around a dizzy void?
Ay, in those days the Muses were nigh cloy'd
With honors; nor had any other care
Than to sing out and sooth their wavy hair.
Could all this be forgotten? Yes, a schism
Nurtured by foppery and barbarism,
Made great Apollo blush for this his land.
Men were thought wise who could not understand
His glories: with a puling infant's force
They sway'd about upon a rocking horse,
And thought it Pegasus. Ah dismal soul'd!
The winds of heaven blew, the ocean roll'd
Its gathering waves- ye felt it not. The blue
Bared its eternal bosom, and the dew
Of summer nights collected still to make
The morning precious: beauty was awake!
Why were ye not awake? But ye were dead
To things ye knew not of,- were closely wed
To musty laws lined out with wretched rule
And compass vile: so that ye taught a school
Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and clip, and fit,
Till, like the certain wands of Jacob's wit,
Their verses tallied. Easy was the task:
A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask
Of Poesy. Ill-fated, impious race!
That blasphemed the bright Lyrist to his face,
And did not know it,- no, they went about,
Holding a poor, decrepid standard out
Mark'd with most flimsy mottos, and in large
The name of one Boileau!
O ye whose charge
It is to hover round our pleasant hills!
Whose congregated majesty so fills
My boundly reverence, that I cannot trace
Your hallowed names, in this unholy place,
So near those common folk; did not their shames
Affright you? Did our old lamenting Thames
Delight you? Did ye never cluster round
Delicious Avon, with a mournful sound,
And weep? Or did ye wholly bid adieu
To regions where no more the laurel grew?
Or did ye stay to give a welcoming
To some lone spirits who could proudly sing
Their youth away, and die? 'Twas even so:
But let me think away those times of woe:
Now 'tis a fairer season; ye have breathed
Rich benedictions o'er us; ye have wreathed
Fresh garlands: for sweet music has been heard
In many places;- some has been upstirr'd
From out its crystal dwelling in a lake,
By a swan's ebon bill; from a thick brake,
Nested and quiet in a valley mild,
Bubbles a pipe; fine sounds are floating wild
About the earth: happy are ye and glad.
These things are doubtless: yet in truth we've had
Strange thunders from the potency of song;
Mingled indeed with what is sweet and strong,
From majesty: but in clear truth the themes
Are ugly clubs, the Poets' Polyphemes
Disturbing the grand sea. A drainless shower
Of light is poesy; 'tis the supreme of power;
'Tis might half slumb'ring on its own right arm.
The very archings of her eye-lids charm
A thousand willing agents to obey,
And still she governs with the mildest sway:
But strength alone though of the Muses born
Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,
Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs,
And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
Of poesy, that it should be a friend
To sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.
Yet I rejoice: a myrtle fairer than
E'er grew in Paphos, from the bitter weeds
Lifts its sweet head into the air, and feeds
A silent space with ever sprouting green.
All tenderest birds there find a pleasant screen,
Creep through the shade with jaunty fluttering,
Nibble the little cupped flowers and sing.
Then let us clear away the choking thorns
From round its gentle stem; let the young fawns,
Yeaned in after times, when we are flown,
Find a fresh sward beneath it, overgrown
With simple flowers: let there nothing be
More boisterous than a lover's bended knee;
Nought more ungentle than the placid look
Of one who leans upon a closed book;
Nought more untranquil than the grassy slopes
Between two hills. All hail delightful hopes!
As she was wont, th' imagination
Into most lovely labyrinths will be gone,
And they shall be accounted poet kings
Who simply tell the most heart-easing things.
O may these joys be ripe before I die.
Will not some say that I presumptuously
Have spoken? that from hastening disgrace
'Twere better far to hide my foolish face?
That whining boyhood should with reverence bow
Ere the dread thunderbolt could reach? How!
If I do hide myself, it sure shall be
In the very fane, the light of Poesy:
If I do fall, at least I will be laid
Beneath the silence of a poplar shade;
And over me the grass shall be smooth shaven;
And there shall be a kind memorial graven.
But off Despondence! miserable bane!
They should not know thee, who athirst to gain
A noble end, are thirsty every hour.
What though I am not wealthy in the dower
Of spanning wisdom; though I do not know
The shiftings of the mighty winds that blow
Hither and thither all the changing thoughts
Of man: though no great minist'ring reason sorts
Out the dark mysteries of human souls
To clear conceiving: yet there ever rolls
A vast idea before me, and I glean
Therefrom my liberty; thence too I've seen
The end and aim of Poesy. 'Tis clear
As anything most true; as that the year
Is made of the four seasons- manifest
As a large cross, some old cathedral's crest,
Lifted to the white clouds. Therefore should I
Be but the essence of deformity,
A coward, did my very eye-lids wink
At speaking out what I have dared to think.
Ah! rather let me like a madman run
Over some precipice; let the hot sun
Melt my Dedalian wings, and drive me down
Convuls'd and headlong! Stay! an inward frown
Of conscience bids me be more calm awhile.
An ocean dim, sprinkled with many an isle,
Spreads awfully before me. How much toil!
How many days! what desperate turmoil!
Ere I can have explored its widenesses.
Ah, what a task! upon my bended knees,
I could unsay those- no, impossible!
For sweet relief I'll dwell
On humbler thoughts, and let this strange assay
Begun in gentleness die so away.
E'en now all tumult from my bosom fades:
I turn full hearted to the friendly aids
That smooth the path of honour; brotherhood,
And friendliness the nurse of mutual good.
The hearty grasp that sends a pleasant sonnet
Into the brain ere one can think upon it;
The silence when some rhymes are coming out;
And when they're come, the very pleasant rout:
The message certain to be done to-morrow.
'Tis perhaps as well that it should be to borrow
Some precious book from out its snug retreat,
To cluster round it when we next shall meet.
Scarce can I scribble on; for lovely airs
Are fluttering round the room like doves in pairs;
Many delights of that glad day recalling,
When first my senses caught their tender falling.
And with these airs come forms of elegance
Stooping their shoulders o'er a horse's prance,
Careless, and grand-fingers soft and round
Parting luxuriant curls;- and the swift bound
Of Bacchus from his chariot, when his eye
Made Ariadne's cheek look blushingly.
Thus I remember all the pleasant flow
Of words at opening a portfolio.
Things such as these are ever harbingers
To trains of peaceful images: the stirs
Of a swan's neck unseen among the rushes:
A linnet starting all about the bushes:
A butterfly, with golden wings broad parted,
Nestling a rose, convuls'd as though it smarted
With over pleasure- many, many more,
Might I indulge at large in all my store
Of luxuries: yet I must not forget
Sleep, quiet with his poppy coronet:
For what there may be worthy in these rhymes
I partly owe to him: and thus, the chimes
Of friendly voices had just given place
To as sweet a silence, when I 'gan retrace
The pleasant day, upon a couch at ease.
It was a poet's house who keeps the keys
Of pleasure's temple. Round about were hung
The glorious features of the bards who sung
In other ages- cold and sacred busts
Smiled at each other. Happy he who trusts
To clear Futurity his darling fame!
Then there were fauns and satyrs taking aim
At swelling apples with a frisky leap
And reaching fingers, 'mid a luscious heap
Of vine-leaves. Then there rose to view a fane
Of liny marble, and thereto a train
Of nymphs approaching fairly o'er the sward:
One, loveliest, holding her white hand toward
The dazzling sun-rise: two sisters sweet
Bending their graceful figures till they meet
Over the trippings of a little child:
And some are hearing, eagerly, the wild
Thrilling liquidity of dewy piping.
See, in another picture, nymphs are wiping
Cherishingly Diana's timorous limbs;-
A fold of lawny mantle dabbling swims
At the bath's edge, and keeps a gentle motion
With the subsiding crystal: as when ocean
Heaves calmly its broad swelling smoothness o'er
Its rocky marge, and balances once more
The patient weeds; that now unshent by foam
Feel all about their undulating home.
Sappho's meek head was there half smiling down
At nothing; just as though the earnest frown
Of over thinking had that moment gone
From off her brow, and left her all alone.
Great Alfred's too, with anxious, pitying eyes,
As if he always listened to the sighs
Of the goaded world; and Kosciusko's worn
By horrid suffrance- mightily forlorn.
Petrarch, outstepping from the shady green,
Starts at the sight of Laura; nor can wean
His eyes from her sweet face. Most happy they!
For over them was seen a free display
Of out-spread wings, and from between them shone
The face of Poesy: from off her throne
She overlook'd things that I scarce could tell.
The very sense of where I was might well
Keep Sleep aloof: but more than that there came
Thought after thought to nourish up the flame
Within my breast; so that the morning light
Surprised me even from a sleepless night;
And up I rose refresh'd, and glad, and gay,
Resolving to begin that very day
These lines; and howsoever they be done,
I leave them as a father does his son.
She, face, form, bearing, one
"He has told you all?
Yes, he has told you all, your silence says—
What gives him, as he thinks the mastery
Over my body and my soul!—has told
That instance, even, of their servitude
He now exacts of me? A silent blush!
That's well, though better would white ignorance
Beseem your brow, undesecrate before—
Ay, when I left you! I too learn at last
—Hideously learned as I seemed so late—
What sin may swell to. Yes,—I needed learn
That, when my prophet's rod became the snake
I fled from, it would, one day, swallow up
—Incorporate whatever serpentine
Falsehood and treason and unmanliness
Beslime earth's pavement: such the power of Hell,
And so beginning, ends no otherwise
The Adversary! I was ignorant,
Blameworthy—if you will; but blame I take
Nowise upon me as I ask myself
—You—how can you, whose soul I seemed to read
The limpid eyes through, have declined so deep
Even with him for consort? I revolve
Much memory, pry into the looks and words
Of that day's walk beneath the College wall,
And nowhere can distinguish, in what gleams
Only pure marble through my dusky past,
A dubious cranny where such poison-seed
Might harbor, nourish what should yield to-day
This dread ingredient for the cup I drink.
Do not I recognize and honor truth
In seeming?—take your truth and for return,
Give you my truth, a no less precious gift?
You loved me: I believed you. I replied
—How could I other? ' I was not my own,'
—No longer had the eyes to see, the ears
To hear, the mind to judge, since heart and soul
Now were another's. My own right in me,
For well or ill, consigned away—my face
Fronted the honest path, deflection whence
Had shamed me in the furtive backward look
At the late bargain—fit such chapman's phrase!—
As though—less hasty and more provident—
Waiting had brought advantage. Not for me
The chapman's chance! Yet while thus much was true,
I spared you—as I knew you then—one more
Concluding word which, truth no less, seemed best
Buried away forever. Take it now
Its power to pain is past! Four years—that day—
Those lines that make the College avenue!
I would that—friend and foe—by miracle,
I had, that moment, seen into the heart
Of either, as I now am taught to see!
I do believe I should have straight assumed
My proper function, and sustained a soul,
Nor aimed at being just sustained myself
By some man's soul—the weaker woman's-want!
So had I missed the momentary thrill
Of finding me in presence of a god,
But gained the god's own feeling when he gives
Such thrill to what turns life from death before.
'Gods many and Lords many,' says the Book:
You would have yielded up your soul to me
—Not to the false god who has burned its clay
In his own image. I had shed my love
Like Spring dew on the clod all flowery thence,
Not sent up a wild vapor to the sun
that drinks and then disperses. Both of us
Blameworthy,—I first meet my punishment—
And not so hard to bear. I breathe again!
Forth from those arms' enwinding leprosy
At last I struggle—uncontaminate:
Why must I leave you pressing to the breast
That's all one plague-spot? Did you love me once?
Then take love's last and best return! I think,
Womanliness means only motherhood;
All love begins and ends there,—roams enough,
But, having run the circle, rests at home.
Why is your expiation yet to make?
Pull shame with your own hands from your own head
Now,—never wait the slow envelopment
Submitted to by unelastic age!
One fierce throe frees the sapling: flake on flake
Lull till they leave the oak snow-stupefied.
Your heart retains its vital warmth—or why
That blushing reassurance? Blush, young blood!
Break from beneath this icy premature
Captivity of wickedness—I warn
Back, in God's name! No fresh encroachment here!
This May breaks all to bud—No Winter now!
Friend, we are both forgiven! Sin no more!
I am past sin now, so shall you become!
Meanwhile I testify that, lying once,
My foe lied ever, most lied last of all.
He, waking, whispered to your sense asleep
The wicked counsel,—and assent might seem;
But, roused, your healthy indignation breaks
The idle dream-pact. You would die—not dare
Confirm your dream-resolve,—nay, find the word
That fits the deed to bear the light of day!
Say I have justly judged you! then farewell
To blushing—nay, it ends in smiles, not tears!
Why tears now? I have justly judged, thank God!"
He does blush boy-like, but the man speaks out,
—Makes the due effort to surmount himself.
"I don't know what he wrote—how should I? Nor
How he could read my purpose which, it seems,
He chose to somehow write—mistakenly
Or else for mischief's sake. I scarce believe
My purpose put before you fair and plain
Would need annoy so much; but there's my luck—
From first to last I blunder. Still, one more
Turn at the target, try to speak my thought!
Since he could guess my purpose, won't you read
Right what he set down wrong? He said—let's think!
Ay, so!—he did begin by telling heaps
Of tales about you. Now, you see—suppose
Any one told me—my own mother died
Before I knew her—told me—to his cost!—
Such tales about my own dead mother: why,
You would not wonder surely if I knew,
By nothing but my own heart's help, he lied,
Would you? No reason's wanted in the case.
So with you! In they burnt on me, his tales,
Much as when madhouse-inmates crowd around,
Make captive any visitor and scream
All sorts of stories of their keeper—he's
Both dwarf and giant, vulture, wolf, dog, cat,
Serpent and scorpion, yet man all the same;
Sane people soon see through the gibberish!
I just made out, you somehow lived somewhere
A life of shame—I can't distinguish more—
Married or single—how, don't matter much:
Shame which himself had caused—that point was clear,
That fact confessed—that thing to hold and keep.
Oh, and he added some absurdity
—That you were here to make me—ha, ha, ha!—
Still love you, still of mind to die for you,
Ha, ha—as if that needed mighty pains!
Now, foolish as ... but never mind myself
—What I am, what I am not, in the eye
Of the world, is what I never cared for much.
Fool then or no fool, not one single word
In the whole string of lies did I believe,
But this—this only—if I choke, who cares?—
I believe somehow in your purity
Perfect as ever! Else what use is God?
He is God, and work miracles He can!
Then, what shall I do? Quite as clear, my course!
They've got a thing they call their Labyrinth
I' the garden yonder: and my cousin played
A pretty trick once, led and lost me deep
Inside the briery maze of hedge round hedge;
And there might I be staying now, stock-still,
But that I laughing bade eyes follow nose
And so straight pushed my path through let and stop
And soon was out in the open, face all scratched,
But well behind my back the prison-bars
In sorry plight enough, I promise you!
So here: I won my way to truth through lies—
Said, as I saw light,—if her shame be shame
I'll rescue and redeem her,—shame's no shame?
Then, I'll avenge, protect—redeem myself
The stupidest of sinners! Here I stand!
Dear,—let me once dare call you so,—you said
Thus ought you to have done, four years ago,
Such things and such! Ay, dear, and what ought I?
You were revealed to me: where's gratitude,
Where's memory even, where the gain of you
Discernible in my low after-life
Of fancied consolation? why, no horse
Once fed on corn, will, missing corn, go munch
Mere thistles like a donkey! I missed you,
And in your place found—him, made him my love,
Ay, did I,—by this token, that he taught
So much beast-nature that I meant ... God knows
Whether I bow me to the dust enough!...
To marry—yes, my cousin here! I hope
That was a master-stroke! Take heart of hers,
And give her hand of mine with no more heart
Than now you see upon this brow I strike!
What atom of a heart do I retain
Not all yours? Dear, you know it! Easily
May she accord me pardon when I place
My brow beneath her foot, if foot so deign,
Since uttermost indignity is spared—
Mere marriage and no love! And all this time
Not one word to the purpose! Are you free?
Only wait! only let me serve—deserve
Where you appoint and how you see the good!
I have the will—perhaps the power—at least
Means that have power against the world. For time—
Take my whole life for your experiment!
If you are bound—in marriage, say—why, still,
Still, sure, there's something for a friend to do,
Outside? A mere well-wisher, understand!
I'll sit, my life long, at your gate, you know,
Swing it wide open to let you and him
Pass freely,—and you need not look, much less
Fling me a ' Thank you—are you there, old friend?'
Don't say that even: I should drop like shot!
So I feel now at least: some day, who knows?
After no end of weeks and months and years
You might smile 'I believe you did your best!'
And that shall make my heart leap—leap such leap
As lands the feet in Heaven to wait you there!
Ah, there's just one thing more! How pale you look!
Why? Are you angry? If there's, after all,
Worst come to worst—if still there somehow be
The shame—I said was no shame,—none! I swear!—
In that case, if my hand and what it holds,—
My name,—might be your safeguard now—at once—
Why, here's the hand—you have the heart! Of course—
No cheat, no binding you, because I'm bound,
To let me off probation by one day,
Week, month, year, lifetime! Prove as you propose!
Here's the hand with the name to take or leave!
That's all—and no great piece of news, I hope!"
"Give me the hand, then!" she cries hastily.
"Quick, now! I hear his footstep!"
Hand in hand
The couple face him as he enters, stops
Short, stands surprised a moment, laughs away
Surprise, resumes the much-experienced man.
"So, you accept him?"
"Till us death do part!"
"No longer? Come, that's right and rational!
I fancied there was power in common sense,
But did not know it worked thus promptly. Well—
At last each understands the other, then?
Each drops disguise, then? So, at supper-time
These masquerading people doff their gear,
Grand Turk his pompous turban, Quakeress
Her stiff-starched bib and tucker,—make-believe
That only bothers when, ball-business done,
Nature demands champagne and mayonnaise.
Just so has each of us sage three abjured
His and her moral pet particular
Pretension to superiority,
And, cheek by jowl, we henceforth munch and joke!
Go, happy pair, paternally dismissed
To live and die together—for a month,
Discretion can award no more! Depart
From whatsoe'er the calm sweet solitude
Selected—Paris not improbably—
At month's end, when the honeycomb's left wax,
—You, daughter, with a pocketful of gold
Enough to find your village boys and girls
In duffel cloaks and hobnailed shoes from May
To—what's the phrase?—Christmas-come-never-mas!
You, son and heir of mine, shall re-appear
Ere Spring-time, that's the ring-time, lose one leaf,
And—not without regretful smack of lip
The while you wipe it free of honey-smear—
Marry the cousin, play the magistrate,
Stand for the country, prove perfection's pink—
Master of hounds, gay-coated dine—nor die
Sooner than needs of gout, obesity,
And sons at Christ Church! As for me,—ah me,
I abdicate—retire on my success,
Four years well occupied in teaching youth
—My son and daughter the exemplary!
Time for me to retire now, having placed
Proud on their pedestal the pair: in turn,
Let them do homage to their master! You,—
Well, your flushed cheek and flashing eye proclaim
Sufficiently your gratitude: you paid
The honorarium, the ten thousand pounds
To purpose, did you not? I told you so!
And you, but, bless me, why so pale—so faint
At influx of good fortune? Certainly,
No matter how or why or whose the fault,
I save your life—save it, nor less nor more!
You blindly were resolved to welcome death
In that black boor-and-bumpkin-haunted hole
Of his, the prig with all the preachments! You
Installed as nurse and matron to the crones
And wenches, while there lay a world outside
Like Paris (which again I recommend)
In company and guidance of—first, this,
Then—all in good time—some new friend as fit—
What if I were to say, some fresh myself,
As I once figured? Each dog has his day,
And mine's at sunset: what should old dog do
But eye young litters' frisky puppyhood?
Oh I shall watch this beauty and this youth
Frisk it in brilliance! But don't fear! Discreet,
I shall pretend to no more recognize
My quondam pupils than the doctor nods
When certain old acquaintances may cross
His path in Park, or sit down prim beside
His plate at dinner-table: tip nor wink
Scares patients he has put, for reason good,
Under restriction,—maybe, talked sometimes
Of douche or horsewhip to,—for why? because
The gentleman would crazily declare
His best friend was—Iago! Ay, and worse—
The lady, all at once grown lunatic,
In suicidal monomania vowed,
To save her soul, she needs must starve herself!
They're cured now, both, and I tell nobody.
Why don't you speak? Nay, speechless, each of you
Can spare,—without unclasping plighted troth,—
At least one hand to shake! Left-hands will do—
Yours first, my daughter! Ah, it guards—it gripes
The precious Album fast—and prudently!
As well obliterate the record there
On page the last: allow me tear the leaf!
Pray, now! And afterward, to make amends,
What if all three of us contribute each
A line to that prelusive fragment,—help
The embarrassed bard who broke out to break down
Dumbfoundered at such unforeseen success?
'Hail, calm acclivity, salubrious spot'
You begin—place aux dames! I'll prompt you then!
'Here do I take the good the gods allot!'
Next you, Sir! What, still sulky? Sing, O Muse!
'Here does my lord in full discharge his shot!'
Now for the crowning flourish! mine shall be...."
"Nothing to match your first effusion, mar
What was, is, shall remain your masterpiece!
Authorship has the alteration-itch!
No, I protest against erasure. Read,
My friend!" (she gasps out). "Read and quickly read
'Before us death do part,' what made you mine
And made me yours—the marriage-license here!
Decide if he is like to mend the same!"
And so the lady, white to ghastliness,
Manages somehow to display the page
With left-hand only, while the right retains
The other hand, the young man's,—dreaming-drunk
He, with this drench of stupefying stuff,
Eyes wide, mouth open,—half the idiot's stare
And half the prophet's insight,—holding tight,
All the same, by his one fact in the world—
The lady's right-hand: he but seems to read—
Does not, for certain; yet, how understand
Unless he reads?
So, understand he does,
For certain. Slowly, word by word, she reads
Aloud that license—or that warrant, say.
"'One against two—and two that urge their odds
To uttermost—I needs must try resource!
Madam, I laid me prostrate, bade you spurn
Body and soul: you spurned and safely spurned
So you had spared me the superfluous taunt
"Prostration means no power to stand erect,
Stand, trampling on who trampled—prostrate now!"
So, with my other fool-foe: I was fain
Let the boy touch me with the buttoned foil,
And him the infection gains, he too must needs
Catch up the butcher's cleaver. Be it so!
Since play turns earnest, here's my serious fence.
He loves you; he demands your love: both know
What love means in my language. Love him then!
Pursuant to a pact, love pays my debt:
Therefore, deliver me from him, thereby
Likewise delivering from me yourself!
For, hesitate—much more, refuse consent—
I tell the whole truth to your husband. Flat
Cards lie on table, in our gamester-phrase!
Consent—you stop my mouth, the only way.'
"I did well, trusting instinct: knew your hand
Had never joined with his in fellowship
Over this pact of infamy. You known—
As he was known through every nerve of me.
Therefore I 'stopped his mouth the only way'
But my way! none was left for you, my friend—
The loyal—near, the loved one! No—no—no!
Threaten? Chastise? The coward would but quail.
Conquer who can, the cunning of the snake!
Stamp out his slimy strength from tail to head,
And still you leave vibration of the tongue.
His malice had redoubled—not on me
Who, myself, choose my own refining fire—
But on poor unsuspicious innocence;
And,—victim,—to turn executioner
Also—that feat effected, forky tongue
Had done indeed its office! One snake's 'mouth'
Thus 'open'—how could mortal 'stop it' ?
A tiger-flash—yell, spring, and scream: halloo!
Death's out and on him, has and holds him—ugh!
But ne trucidet coram populo
Juvenis senem! Right the Horatian rule!
There, see how soon a quiet comes to pass!
Like the vain curlings of the watery maze,
Which in smooth streams a sinking weight does raise,
So Man, declining always, disappears
In the weak circles of increasing years;
And his short tumults of themselves compose,
While flowing Time above his head does close.
Cromwell alone with greater vigour runs,
(Sun-like) the stages of succeeding suns:
And still the day which he doth next restore,
Is the just wonder of the day before.
Cromwell alone doth with new lustre spring,
And shines the jewel of the yearly ring.
'Tis he the force of scattered time contracts,
And in one year the work of ages acts:
While heavy monarchs make a wide return,
Longer, and more malignant than Saturn:
And though they all Platonic years should reign,
In the same posture would be found again.
Their earthy projects under ground they lay,
More slow and brittle than the China clay:
Well may they strive to leave them to their son,
For one thing never was by one king done.
Yet some more active for a frontier town,
Taken by proxy, beg a false renown;
Another triumphs at the public cost,
And will have won, if he no more have lost;
They fight by others, but in person wrong,
And only are against their subjects strong;
Their other wars seem but a feigned contèst,
This common enemy is still oppressed;
If conquerors, on them they turn their might;
If conquered, on them they wreak their spite:
They neither build the temple in their days,
Nor matter for succeeding founders raise;
Nor sacred prophecies consult within,
Much less themself to pèfect them begin;
No other care they bear of things above,
But with astrologers divine of Jove
To know how long their planet yet reprieves
From the deservéd fate their guilty lives:
Thus (image-like) an useless time they tell,
And with vain sceptre strike the hourly bell,
Nor more contribute to the state of things,
Than wooden heads unto the viol's strings.
While indefatigable Cromwell hies,
And cuts his way still nearer to the skies,
Learning a music in the region clear,
To tune this lower to that higher sphere.
So when Amphion did the lute command,
Which the god gave him, with his gentle hand,
The rougher stones, unto his measures hewed,
Danced up in order from the quarries rude;
This took a lower, that an higher place,
As he the treble altered, or the bass:
No note he struck, but a new stone was laid,
And the great work ascended while he played.
The listening structures he with wonder eyed,
And still new stops to various time applied:
Now through the strings a martial rage he throws,
And joining straight the Theban tower arose;
Then as he strokes them with a touch more sweet,
The flocking marbles in a palace meet;
But for the most the graver notes did try,
Therefore the temples reared their columns high:
Thus, ere he ceased, his sacred lute creates
Th' harmonious city of the seven gates.
Such was that wondrous order and consent,
When Cromwell tuned the ruling Instrument,
While tedious statesmen many years did hack,
Framing a liberty that still went back,
Whose numerous gorge could swallow in an hour
That island, which the sea cannot devour:
Then our Amphion issued out and sings,
And once he struck, and twice, the powerful strings.
The Commonwealth then first together came,
And each one entered in the willing frame;
All other matter yields, and may be ruled;
But who the minds of stubborn men can build?
No quarry bears a stone so hardly wrought,
Nor with such labour from its centre brought;
None to be sunk in the foundation bends,
Each in the house the highest place contends,
And each the hand that lays him will direct,
And some fall back upon the architect;
Yet all composed by his attractive song,
Into the animated city throng.
The Commonwealth does through their centres all
Draw the circumference of the public wall;
The crossest spirits here do take their part,
Fastening the contignation which they thwart;
And they, whose nature leads them to divide,
Uphold this one, and that the other side;
But the most equal still sustain the height,
And they as pillars keep the work upright,
While the resistance of opposèd minds,
The fabric (as with arches) stronger binds,
Which on the basis of a senate free,
Knit by the roof's protecting weight, agree.
When for his foot he thus a place had found,
He hurls e'er since the world about him round,
And in his several aspects, like a star,
Here shines in peace, and thither shoots in war,
While by his beams observing princes steer,
And wisely court the influence they fear.
O would they rather by his pattern won
Kiss the approaching, not yet angry Son;
And in their numbered footsteps humbly tread
The path where holy oracles do lead;
How might they under such a captain raise
The great designs kept for the latter days!
But mad with reason (so miscalled) of state
They know them not, and what they know not, hate.
Hence still they sing hosanna to the whore,
And her, whom they should massacre, adore:
But Indians, whom they would convert, subdue;
Nor teach, but traffic with, or burn the Jew.
Unhappy princes, ignorantly bred,
By malice some, by error more misled,
If gracious heaven to my life give length,
Leisure to time, and to my weaknes strength,
Then shall I once with graver accents shake
Your regal sloth, and your long slumbers wake:
Like the shrill huntsman that prevents the east,
Winding his horn to kings that chase the beast.
Till then my muse shall hollo far behind
Angelic Cromwell who outwings the wind,
And in dark nights, and in cold days alone
Pursues the monster through every throne:
Which shrinking to her Roman den impure,
Gnashes her gory teeth; nor there secure.
Hence oft I think if in some happy hour
High grace should meet in one with highest power,
And then a seasonable people still
Should bend to his, as he to heaven's will,
What we might hope, what wonderful effect
From such a wished conjuncture might reflect.
Sure, the mysterious work, where none withstand,
Would forthwith finish under such a hand:
Foreshortened time its useless course would stay,
And soon precipitate the latest day.
But a thick cloud about that morning lies,
And intercepts the beams of mortal eyes,
That 'tis the most which we determine can,
If these the times, then this must be the man.
And well he therefore does, and well has guessed,
Who in his age has always forward pressed:
And knowing not where heaven's choice may light,
Girds yet his sword, and ready stand to fight;
But men, alas, as if they nothing cared,
Look on, all unconcerned, or unprepared;
And stars still fall, and still the dragon's tail
Swinges the volumes of its horrid flail.
For the great justice that did first suspend
The world by sin, does by the same extend.
Hence that blest day still counterposèd wastes,
The ill delaying what the elected hastes;
Hence landing nature to new seas is tossed,
And good designs still with their authors lost.
And thou, great Cromwell, for whose happy birth
A mould was chosen out of better earth;
Whose saint-like mother we did lately see
Live out an age, long as a pedigree;
That she might seem (could we the Fall dispute),
T' have smelled the blossom, and not eat the fruit;
Though none does of more lasting parents grow,
Yet never any did them honour so,
Though thou thine heart from evil still unstained,
And always hast thy tongue from fraud refrained;
Thou, who so oft through storms of thundering lead
Hast born securely thine undaunted head,
Thy breast through poniarding conspiracies,
Drawn from the sheath of lying prophecies;
Thee proof behond all other force or skill,
Our sins endanger, and shall one day kill.
How near they failed, and in thy sudden fall
At once assayed to overturn us all.
Our brutish fury struggling to be free,
Hurried thy horses while they hurried thee,
When thou hadst almost quit thy mortal cares,
And soiled in dust thy crown of silver hairs.
Let this one sorrow interweave among
The other glories of our yearly song.
Like skilful looms, which through the costly thread
Of purling ore, a shining wave do shed:
So shall the tears we on past grief employ,
Still as they trickle, glitter in our joy.
So with more modesty we may be true,
And speak, as of the dead, the praises due:
While impious men deceived with pleasure short,
On their own hopes shall find the fall retort.
But the poor beasts, wanting their noble guide,
(What could they more?) shrunk guiltily aside.
First wingèd fear transports them far away,
And leaden sorrow then their flight did stay.
See how they each his towering crest abate,
And the green grass, and their known mangers hate,
Nor through wide nostrils snuff the wanton air,
Nor their round hoofs, or curlèd manes compare;
With wandering eyes, and restless ears they stood,
And with shrill neighings asked him of the wood.
Thou, Cromwell, falling, not a stupid tree,
Or rock so savage, but it mourned for thee:
And all about was heard a panic groan,
As if that Nature's self were overthrown.
It seemed the earth did from the centre tear;
It seemed the sun was fall'n out of the sphere:
Justice obstructed lay, and reason fooled;
Courage disheartened, and religion cooled.
A dismal silence through the palace went,
And then loud shrieks the vaulted marbles rent,
Such as the dying chorus sings by turns,
And to deaf seas, and ruthless tempests mourns,
When now they sink, and now the plundering streams
Break up each deck, and rip the oaken seams.
But thee triumphant hence the fiery car,
And fiery steeds had borne out of the war,
From the low world, and thankless men above,
Unto the kingdom blest of peace and love:
We only mourned ourselves, in thine ascent,
Whom thou hadst left beneath with mantle rent.
For all delight of life thou then didst lose,
When to command, thou didst thyself dispose;
Resigning up thy privacy so dear,
To turn the headstrong people's charioteer;
For to be Cromwell was a greater thing,
Then ought below, or yet above a king:
Therefore thou rather didst thyself depress,
Yielding to rule, because it made thee less.
For neither didst thou from the first apply
Thy sober spirit unto things too high,
But in thine own fields exercised'st long,
An healthful mind within a body strong;
Till at the seventh time thou in the skies,
As a small cloud, like a man's hand, didst rise;
Then did thick mists and winds the air deform,
And down at last thou poured'st the fertile storm,
Which to the thirsty land did plenty bring,
But, though forewarned, o'ertook and wet the King.
What since he did, an higher force him pushed
Still from behind, and yet before him rushed,
Though undiscerned among the tumult blind,
Who think those high decrees by man designed.
'Twas heaven would not that his power should cease,
But walk still middle betwixt war and peace:
Choosing each stone, and poising every weight,
Trying the measures of the breadth and height;
Here pulling down, and there erecting new,
Founding a firm state by proportions true.
When Gideon so did from the war retreat,
Yet by the conquest of two kings grown great,
He on the peace extends a warlike power,
And Israel silent saw him raze the tower;
And how he Succorth's Elders durst suppress,
With thorns and briars of the wilderness.
No king might ever such a force have done;
Yet would not he be Lord, nor yet his son.
Thou with the same strength, and an heart as plain,
Didst (like thine olive) still refuse to reign,
Though why should others all thy labour spoil,
And brambles be anointed with thine oil,
Whose climbing flame, without a timely stop,
Had quickly levelled every cedar's top?
Therefore first growing to thyself a law,
Th' ambitious shrubs thou in just time didst awe.
So have I seen at sea, when whirling winds,
Hurry the bark, but more the seamen's minds,
Who with mistaken course salute the sand,
And threatening rocks misapprehend for land,
While baleful Tritons to the shipwreck guide,
And corposants along the tackling slide,
The passengers all wearied out before,
Giddy, and wishing for the fatal shore,
Some lusty mate, who with more careful eye
Counted the hours, and every star did spy,
The help does from the artless steersman strain,
And doubles back unto the safer main.
What though a while they grumble discontent,
Saving himself, he does their loss prevent.
'Tis not a freedom, that where all command;
Nor tyranny, where one does them withstand:
But who of both the bounder knows to lay
Him as their father must the state obey.
Thou, and thine house (like Noah's eight) did rest,
Left by the wars' flood on the mountains' crest:
And the large vale lay subject to thy will
Which thou but as an husbandman wouldst till:
And only didst for others plant the vine
Of liberty, not drunken with its wine.
That sober liberty which men may have,
That they enjoy, but more they vainly crave:
And such as to their parents' tents do press,
May show their own, not see his nakedness.
Yet such a Chammish issue still does rage,
The shame and plague both of the land and age,
Who watched thy halting, and thy fall deride,
Rejoicing when thy foot had slipped aside,
That their new king might the fifth sceptre shake,
And make the world, by his example, quake:
Whose frantic army should they want for men
Might muster heresies, so one were ten.
What thy misfortune, they the spirit call,
And their religion only is to fall.
Oh Mahomet! now couldst thou rise again,
Thy falling-sickness should have made thee reign,
While Feake and Simpson would in many a tome,
Have writ the comments of thy sacred foam:
For soon thou mightst have passed among their rant
Were't but for thine unmovèd tulipant;
As thou must needs have owned them of thy band
For prophecies fit to be Alcoraned.
Accursèd locusts, whom your king does spit
Out of the centre of the unbottomed pit;
Wanderers, adulterers, liars, Munster's rest,
Sorcerers, athiests, jesuits possessed;
You who the scriptures and the laws deface
With the same liberty as points and lace;
Oh race most hypocritically strict!
Bent to reduce us to the ancient Pict;
Well may you act the Adam and the Eve;
Ay, and the serpent too that did deceive.
But the great captain, now the danger's o'er,
Makes you for his sake tremble one fit more;
And, to your spite, returning yet alive
Does with himself all that is good revive.
So when first man did through the morning new
See the bright sun his shining race pursue,
All day he followed with unwearied sight,
Pleased with that other world of moving light;
But thought him when he missed his setting beams,
Sunk in the hills, or plunged below the streams.
While dismal blacks hung round the universe,
And stars (like tapers) burned upon his hearse:
And owls and ravens with their screeching noise
Did make the funerals sadder by their joys.
His weeping eyes the doleful vigils keep,
Not knowing yet the night was made for sleep;
Still to the west, where he him lost, he turned,
And with such accents as despairing mourned:
`Why did mine eyes once see so bright a ray;
Or why day last no longer than a day?'
When straight the sun behind him he descried,
Smiling serenely from the further side.
So while our star that gives us light and heat,
Seemed now a long and gloomy night to threat,
Up from the other world his flame he darts,
And princes (shining through their windows) starts,
Who their suspected counsellors refuse,
And credulous ambassadors accuse.
`Is this', saith one, `the nation that we read
Spent with both wars, under a captain dead,
Yet rig a navy while we dress us late,
And ere we dine, raze and rebuild their state?
What oaken forests, and what golden mines!
What mints of men, what union of designs!
(Unless their ships, do, as their fowl proceed
Of shedding leaves, that with their ocean breed).
Theirs are not ships, but rather arks of war
And beakèd promontories sailed from far;
Of floating islands a new hatchèd nest;
A fleet of worlds, of other worlds in quest;
An hideous shoal of wood-leviathans,
Armed with three tier of brazen hurricanes,
That through the centre shoot their thundering side
And sink the earth that does at anchor ride.
What refuge to escape them can be found,
Whose watery leaguers all the world surround?
Needs must we all their tributaries be,
Whose navies hold the sluices of the sea.
The ocean is the fountain of command,
But that once took, we captives are on land.
And those that have the waters for their share,
Can quickly leave us neither earth nor air.
Yet if through these our fears could find a pass,
Through double oak, and lined with treble brass,
That one man still, although but named, alarms
More than all men, all navies, and all arms.
Him, in the day, him, in late night I dread,
And still his sword seems hanging o'er my head.
The nation had been ours, but his one soul
Moves the great bulk, and animates the whole.
He secrecy with number hath enchased,
Courage with age, maturity with haste:
The valiant's terror, riddle of the wise,
And still his falchion all our knots unties.
Where did he learn those arts that cost us dear?
Where below earth, or where above the sphere?
He seems a king by long succession born,
And yet the same to be a king does scorn.
Abroad a king he seems, and something more,
At home a subject on the equal floor.
O could I once him with our title see,
So should I hope that he might die as we.
But let them write is praise that love him best,
It grieves me sore to have thus much confessed.'
Pardon, great Prince, if thus their fear of spite
More than our love and duty do thee right.
I yield, nor further will the prize contend,
So that we both alike may miss our end:
While thou thy venerable head dost raise
As far above their malice as my praise,
And as the Angel of our commonweal,
Troubling the waters, yearly mak'st them heal.
The Sage Enamoured And The Honest Lady
One fairest of the ripe unwedded left
Her shadow on the Sage's path; he found,
By common signs, that she had done a theft.
He could have made the sovereign heights resound
With questions of the wherefore of her state:
He on far other but an hour before
Intent. And was it man, or was it mate,
That she disdained? or was there haply more?
About her mouth a placid humour slipped
The dimple, as you see smooth lakes at eve
Spread melting rings where late a swallow dipped.
The surface was attentive to receive,
The secret underneath enfolded fast.
She had the step of the unconquered, brave,
Not arrogant; and if the vessel's mast
Waved liberty, no challenge did it wave.
Her eyes were the sweet world desired of souls,
With something of a wavering line unspelt.
They hold the look whose tenderness condoles
For what the sister in the look has dealt
Of fatal beyond healing; and her tones
A woman's honeyed amorous outvied,
As when in a dropped viol the wood-throb moans
Among the sobbing strings, that plain and chide
Like infants for themselves, less deep to thrill
Than those rich mother-notes for them breathed round.
Those voices are not magic of the will
To strike love's wound, but of love's wound give sound,
Conveying it; the yearnings, pains and dreams.
They waft to the moist tropics after storm,
When out of passion spent thick incense steams,
And jewel-belted clouds the wreck transform.
Was never hand on brush or lyre to paint
Her gracious manners, where the nuptial ring
Of melody clasped motion in restraint:
The reed-blade with the breeze thereof may sing.
With such endowments armed was she and decked
To make her spoken thoughts eclipse her kind;
Surpassing many a giant intellect,
The marvel of that cradled infant mind.
It clenched the tiny fist, it curled the toe;
Cherubic laughed, enticed, dispensed, absorbed;
And promised in fair feminine to grow
A Sage's match and mate, more heavenly orbed.
Across his path the spouseless Lady cast
Her shadow, and the man that thing became.
His youth uprising called his age the Past.
This was the strong grey head of laurelled name,
And in his bosom an inverted Sage
Mistook for light of morn the light which sank.
But who while veins run blood shall know the page
Succeeding ere we turn upon our blank?
Comes Beauty with her tale of moon and cloud,
Her silvered rims of mystery pointing in
To hollows of the half-veiled unavowed,
Where beats her secret life, grey heads will spin
Quick as the young, and spell those hieroglyphs
Of phosphorescent dusk, devoutly bent;
They drink a cup to whirl on dizzier cliffs
For their shamed fall, which asks, why was she sent!
Why, and of whom, and whence; and tell they truth,
The legends of her mission to beguile?
Hard likeness to the toilful apes of youth
He bore at times, and tempted the sly smile;
And not on her soft lips was it descried.
She stepped her way benevolently grave:
Nor sign that Beauty fed her worm of pride,
By tossing victim to the courtier knave,
Let peep, nor of the naughty pride gave sign.
Rather 'twas humbleness in being pursued,
As pilgrim to the temple of a shrine.
Had he not wits to pierce the mask he wooed?
All wisdom's armoury this man could wield;
And if the cynic in the Sage it pleased
Traverse her woman's curtain and poor shield,
For new example of a world diseased;
Showing her shrineless, not a temple, bare;
A curtain ripped to tatters by the blast;
Yet she most surely to this man stood fair:
He worshipped like the young enthusiast,
Named simpleton or poet. Did he read
Right through, and with the voice she held reserved
Amid her vacant ruins jointly plead?
Compassion for the man thus noble nerved
The pity for herself she felt in him,
To wreak a deed of sacrifice, and save;
At least, be worthy. That our soul may swim,
We sink our heart down bubbling under wave.
It bubbles till it drops among the wrecks.
But, ah! confession of a woman's breast:
She eminent, she honoured of her sex!
Truth speaks, and takes the spots of the confessed,
To veil them. None of women, save their vile,
Plays traitor to an army in the field.
The cries most vindicating most defile.
How shall a cause to Nature be appealed,
When, under pressure of their common foe,
Her sisters shun the Mother and disown,
On pain of his intolerable crow
Above the fiction, built for him, o'erthrown?
Irrational he is, irrational
Must they be, though not Reason's light shall wane
In them with ever Nature at close call,
Behind the fiction torturing to sustain;
Who hear her in the milk, and sometimes make
A tongueless answer, shivered on a sigh:
Whereat men dread their lofty structure's quake
Once more, and in their hosts for tocsin ply
The crazy roar of peril, leonine
For injured majesty. That sigh of dames
Is rare and soon suppressed. Not they combine
To shake the structure sheltering them, which tames
Their lustier if not wilder: fixed are they,
In elegancy scarce denoting ease;
And do they breathe, it is not to betray
The martyr in the caryatides.
Yet here and there along the graceful row
Is one who fetches breath from deeps, who deems,
Moved by a desperate craving, their old foe
May yield a trustier friend than woman seems,
And aid to bear the sculptured floral weight
Massed upon heads not utterly of stone:
May stamp endurance by expounding fate.
She turned to him, and, This you seek is gone;
Look in, she said, as pants the furnace, brief,
Frost-white. She gave his hearing sight to view
The silent chamber of a brown curled leaf:
Thing that had throbbed ere shot black lightning through.
No further sign of heart could he discern:
The picture of her speech was winter sky;
A headless figure folding a cleft urn,
Where tears once at the overflow were dry.
So spake she her first utterance on the rack.
It softened torment, in the funeral hues
Round wan Romance at ebb, but drove her back
To listen to herself, herself accuse
Harshly as Love's imperial cause allowed.
She meant to grovel, and her lover praised
So high o'er the condemnatory crowd,
That she perforce a fellow phoenix blazed.
The picture was of hand fast joined to hand,
Both pushed from angry skies, their grasp more pledged
Under the threatened flash of a bright brand
At arm's length up, for severing action edged.
Why, then Love's Court of Honour contemplate;
And two drowned shorecasts, who, for the life esteemed
Above their lost, invoke an advocate
In Passion's purity, thereby redeemed.
Redeemed, uplifted, glimmering on a throne,
The woman stricken by an arrow falls.
His advocate she can be, not her own,
If, Traitress to thy sex! one sister calls.
Have we such scenes of drapery's mournfulness
On Beauty's revelations, witched we plant,
Over the fair shape humbled to confess,
An angel's buckler, with loud choiric chant.
No knightly sword to serve, nor harp of bard,
The lady's hand in her physician's knew.
She had not hoped for them as her award,
When zig-zag on the tongue electric flew
Her charge of counter-motives, none impure:
But muteness whipped her skin. She could have said,
Her free confession was to work his cure,
Show proofs for why she could not love or wed.
Were they not shown? His muteness shook in thrall
Her body on the verge of that black pit
Sheer from the treacherous confessional,
Demanding further, while perusing it.
Slave is the open mouth beneath the closed.
She sank; she snatched at colours; they were peel
Of fruit past savour, in derision rosed.
For the dark downward then her soul did reel.
A press of hideous impulse urged to speak:
A novel dread of man enchained her dumb.
She felt the silence thicken, heard it shriek,
Heard Life subsiding on the eternal hum:
Welcome to women, when, between man's laws
And Nature's thirsts, they, soul from body torn,
Give suck at breast to a celestial cause,
Named by the mouth infernal, and forsworn.
Nathless her forehead twitched a sad content,
To think the cure so manifest, so frail
Her charm remaining. Was the curtain's rent
Too wide? he but a man of that herd male?
She saw him as that herd of the forked head
Butting the woman harrowed on her knees,
Clothed only in life's last devouring red.
Confession at her fearful instant sees
Judicial Silence write the devil fact
In letters of the skeleton: at once,
Swayed on the supplication of her act,
The rabble reading, roaring to denounce,
She joins. No longer colouring, with skips
At tangles, picture that for eyes in tears
Might swim the sequence, she addressed her lips
To do the scaffold's office at his ears.
Into the bitter judgement of that herd
On women, she, deeming it present, fell.
Her frenzy of abasement hugged the word
They stone with, and so pile their citadel
To launch at outcasts the foul levin bolt.
As had he flung it, in her breast it burned.
Face and reflect it did her hot revolt
From hardness, to the writhing rebel turned;
Because the golden buckler was withheld,
She to herself applies the powder-spark,
For joy of one wild demon burst ere quelled,
Perishing to astound the tyrant Dark.
She had the Scriptural word so scored on brain,
It rang through air to sky, and rocked a world
That danced down shades the scarlet dance profane;
Most women! see! by the man's view dustward hurled,
Impenitent, submissive, torn in two.
They sink upon their nature, the unnamed,
And sops of nourishment may get some few,
In place of understanding, scourged and shamed.
Barely have seasoned women understood
The great Irrational, who thunders power,
Drives Nature to her primitive wild wood,
And courts her in the covert's dewy hour;
Returning to his fortress nigh night's end,
With execration of her daughters' lures.
They help him the proud fortress to defend,
Nor see what front it wears, what life immures,
The murder it commits; nor that its base
Is shifty as a huckster's opening deal
For bargain under smoothest market face,
While Gentleness bids frigid Justice feel,
Justice protests that Reason is her seat;
Elect Convenience, as Reason masked,
Hears calmly cramped Humanity entreat;
Until a sentient world is overtasked,
And rouses Reason's fountain-self: she calls
On Nature; Nature answers: Share your guilt
In common when contention cracks the walls
Of the big house which not on me is built.
The Lady said as much as breath will bear;
To happier sisters inconceivable:
Contemptible to veterans of the fair,
Who show for a convolving pearly shell,
A treasure of the shore, their written book.
As much as woman's breath will bear and live
Shaped she to words beneath a knotted look,
That held as if for grain the summing sieve.
Her judge now brightened without pause, as wakes
Our homely daylight after dread of spells.
Lips sugared to let loose the little snakes
Of slimy lustres ringing elfin bells
About a story of the naked flesh,
Intending but to put some garment on,
Should learn, that in the subject they enmesh,
A traitor lurks and will be known anon.
Delusion heating pricks the torpid doubt,
Stationed for index down an ancient track:
And ware of it was he while she poured out
A broken moon on forest-waters black.
Though past the stage where midway men are skilled
To scan their senses wriggling under plough,
When yet to the charmed seed of speech distilled,
Their hearts are fallow, he, and witless how,
Loathing, had yielded, like bruised limb to leech,
Not handsomely; but now beholding bleed
Soul of the woman in her prostrate speech,
The valour of that rawness he could read.
Thence flashed it, as the crimson currents ran
From senses up to thoughts, how she had read
Maternally the warm remainder man
Beneath his crust, and Nature's pity shed,
In shedding dearer than heart's blood to light
His vision of the path mild Wisdom walks.
Therewith he could espy Confession's fright;
Her need of him: these flowers grow on stalks;
They suck from soil, and have their urgencies
Beside and with the lovely face mid leaves.
Veins of divergencies, convergencies,
Our botanist in womankind perceives;
And if he hugs no wound, the man can prize
That splendid consummation and sure proof
Of more than heart in her, who might despise,
Who drowns herself, for pity up aloof
To soar and be like Nature's pity: she
Instinctive of what virtue in young days
Had served him for his pilot-star on sea,
To trouble him in haven. Thus his gaze
Came out of rust, and more than the schooled tongue
Was gifted to encourage and assure.
He gave her of the deep well she had sprung;
And name it gratitude, the word is poor.
But name it gratitude, is aught as rare
From sex to sex? And let it have survived
Their conflict, comes the peace between the pair,
Unknown to thousands husbanded and wived:
Unknown to Passion, generous for prey:
Unknown to Love, too blissful in a truce.
Their tenderest of self did each one slay;
His cloak of dignity, her fleur de luce;
Her lily flower, and his abolla cloak,
Things living, slew they, and no artery bled.
A moment of some sacrificial smoke
They passed, and were the dearer for their dead.
He learnt how much we gain who make no claims.
A nightcap on his flicker of grey fire
Was thought of her sharp shudder in the flames,
Confessing; and its conjured image dire,
Of love, the torrent on the valley dashed;
The whirlwind swathing tremulous peaks; young force,
Visioned to hold corrected and abashed
Our senile emulous; which rolls its course
Proud to the shattering end; with these few last
Hot quintessential drops of bryony juice,
Squeezed out in anguish: all of that once vast!
And still, though having skin for man's abuse,
Though no more glorying in the beauteous wreath
Shot skyward from a blood at passionate jet,
Repenting but in words, that stand as teeth
Between the vivid lips; a vassal set;
And numb, of formal value. Are we true
In nature, never natural thing repents;
Albeit receiving punishment for due,
Among the group of this world's penitents;
Albeit remorsefully regretting, oft
Cravenly, while the scourge no shudder spares.
Our world believes it stabler if the soft
Are whipped to show the face repentance wears.
Then hear it, in a moan of atheist gloom,
Deplore the weedy growth of hypocrites;
Count Nature devilish, and accept for doom
The chasm between our passions and our wits!
Affecting lunar whiteness, patent snows,
It trembles at betrayal of a sore.
Hers is the glacier-conscience, to expose
Impurities for clearness at the core.
She to her hungered thundering in breast,
YE SHALL NOT STARVE, not feebly designates
The world repressing as a life repressed,
Judged by the wasted martyrs it creates.
How Sin, amid the shades Cimmerian,
Repents, she points for sight: and she avers,
The hoofed half-angel in the Puritan
Nigh reads her when no brutish wrath deters.
Sin against immaturity, the sin
Of ravenous excess, what deed divides
Man from vitality; these bleed within;
Bleed in the crippled relic that abides.
Perpetually they bleed; a limb is lost,
A piece of life, the very spirit maimed.
But culprit who the law of man has crossed
With Nature's dubiously within is blamed;
Despite our cry at cutting of the whip,
Our shiver in the night when numbers frown,
We but bewail a broken fellowship,
A sting, an isolation, a fall'n crown.
Abject of sinners is that sensitive,
The flesh, amenable to stripes, miscalled
Incorrigible: such title do we give
To the poor shrinking stuff wherewith we are walled;
And, taking it for Nature, place in ban
Our Mother, as a Power wanton-willed,
The shame and baffler of the soul of man,
The recreant, reptilious. Do thou build
Thy mind on her foundations in earth's bed;
Behold man's mind the child of her keen rod,
For teaching how the wits and passions wed
To rear that temple of the credible God;
Sacred the letters of her laws, and plain,
Will shine, to guide thy feet and hold thee firm:
Then, as a pathway through a field of grain,
Man's laws appear the blind progressive worm,
That moves by touch, and thrust of linking rings
The which to endow with vision, lift from mud
To level of their nature's aims and springs,
Must those, the twain beside our vital flood,
Now on opposing banks, the twain at strife
(Whom the so rosy ferryman invites
To junction, and mid-channel over Life,
Unmasked to the ghostly, much asunder smites)
Instruct in deeper than Convenience,
In higher than the harvest of a year.
Only the rooted knowledge to high sense
Of heavenly can mount, and feel the spur
For fruitfullest advancement, eye a mark
Beyond the path with grain on either hand,
Help to the steering of our social Ark
Over the barbarous waters unto land.
For us the double conscience and its war,
The serving of two masters, false to both,
Until those twain, who spring the root and are
The knowledge in division, plight a troth
Of equal hands: nor longer circulate
A pious token for their current coin,
To growl at the exchange; they, mate and mate,
Fair feminine and masculine shall join
Upon an upper plane, still common mould,
Where stamped religion and reflective pace
A statelier measure, and the hoop of gold
Rounds to horizon for their soul's embrace.
Then shall those noblest of the earth and sun
Inmix unlike to waves on savage sea.
But not till Nature's laws and man's are one,
Can marriage of the man and woman be.
He passed her through the sermon's dull defile.
Down under billowy vapour-gorges heaved
The city and the vale and mountain-pile.
She felt strange push of shuttle-threads that weaved.
A new land in an old beneath her lay;
And forth to meet it did her spirit rush,
As bride who without shame has come to say,
Husband, in his dear face that caused her blush.
A natural woman's heart, not more than clad
By station and bright raiment, gathers heat
From nakedness in trusted hands: she had
The joy of those who feel the world's heart beat,
After long doubt of it as fire or ice;
Because one man had helped her to breathe free;
Surprised to faith in something of a price
Past the old charity in chivalry:-
Our first wild step to right the loaded scales
Displaying women shamefully outweighed.
The wisdom of humaneness best avails
For serving justice till that fraud is brayed.
Her buried body fed the life she drank.
And not another stripping of her wound!
The startled thought on black delirium sank,
While with her gentle surgeon she communed,
And woman's prospect of the yoke repelled.
Her buried body gave her flowers and food;
The peace, the homely skies, the springs that welled;
Love, the large love that folds the multitude.
Soul's chastity in honesty, and this
With beauty, made the dower to men refused.
And little do they know the prize they miss;
Which is their happy fortune! Thus he mused
For him, the cynic in the Sage had play
A hazy moment, by a breath dispersed;
To think, of all alive most wedded they,
Whom time disjoined! He needed her quick thirst
For renovated earth: on earth she gazed,
With humble aim to foot beside the wise.
Lo, where the eyelashes of night are raised
Yet lowly over morning's pure grey eyes.
Upon Appleton House, to My Lord Fairfax
Within this sober Frame expect
Work of no Forrain Architect;
That unto Caves the Quarries drew,
And Forrests did to Pastures hew;
Who of his great Design in pain
Did for a Model vault his Brain,
Whose Columnes should so high be rais'd
To arch the Brows that on them gaz'd.
Why should of all things Man unrul'd
Such unproportion'd dwellings build?
The Beasts are by their Denns exprest:
And Birds contrive an equal Nest;
The low roof'd Tortoises do dwell
In cases fit of Tortoise-shell:
No Creature loves an empty space;
Their Bodies measure out their Place.
But He, superfluously spread,
Demands more room alive then dead.
And in his hollow Palace goes
Where Winds as he themselves may lose.
What need of all this Marble Crust
T'impark the wanton Mose of Dust,
That thinks by Breadth the World t'unite
Though the first Builders fail'd in Height?
But all things are composed here
Like Nature, orderly and near:
In which we the Dimensions find
Of that more sober Age and Mind,
When larger sized Men did stoop
To enter at a narrow loop;
As practising, in doors so strait,
To strain themselves through Heavens Gate.
And surely when the after Age
Shall hither come in Pilgrimage,
These sacred Places to adore,
By Vere and Fairfax trod before,
Men will dispute how their Extent
Within such dwarfish Confines went:
And some will smile at this, as well
As Romulus his Bee-like Cell.
Humility alone designs
Those short but admirable Lines,
By which, ungirt and unconstrain'd,
Things greater are in less contain'd.
Let others vainly strive t'immure
The Circle in the Quadrature!
These holy Mathematics can
In ev'ry Figure equal Man.
Yet thus the laden House does sweat,
And scarce indures the Master great:
But where he comes the swelling Hall
Stirs, and the Square grows Spherical;
More by his Magnitude distrest,
Then he is by its straitness prest:
And too officiously it slights
That in it self which him delights.
So Honour better Lowness bears,
Then That unwonted Greatness wears
Height with a certain Grace does bend,
But low Things clownishly ascend.
And yet what needs there here Excuse,
Where ev'ry Thing does answer Use?
Where neatness nothing can condemn,
Nor Pride invent what to contemn?
A Stately Frontispice Of Poor
Adorns without the open Door:
Nor less the Rooms within commends
Daily new Furniture Of Friends.
The House was built upon the Place
Only as for a Mark Of Grace;
And for an Inn to entertain
Its Lord a while, but not remain.
Him Bishops-Hill, or Denton may,
Or Bilbrough, better hold then they:
But Nature here hath been so free
As if she said leave this to me.
Art would more neatly have defac'd
What she had laid so sweetly wast;
In fragrant Gardens, shaddy Woods,
Deep Meadows, and transparent Floods.
While with slow Eyes we these survey,
And on each pleasant footstep stay,
We opportunly may relate
The progress of this Houses Fate.
A Nunnery first gave it birth.
For Virgin Buildings oft brought forth.
And all that Neighbour-Ruine shows
The Quarries whence this dwelling rose.
Near to this gloomy Cloysters Gates
There dwelt the blooming Virgin Thwates,
Fair beyond Measure, and an Heir
Which might Deformity make fair.
And oft She spent the Summer Suns
Discoursing with the Suttle Nuns.
Whence in these Words one to her weav'd,
(As 'twere by Chance) Thoughts long conceiv'd.
"Within this holy leisure we
"Live innocently as you see.
"these Walls restrain the World without,
"But hedge our Liberty about.
"These Bars inclose the wider Den
"Of those wild Creatures, called Men.
"The Cloyster outward shuts its Gates,
"And, from us, locks on them the Grates.
"Here we, in shining Armour white,
"Like Virgin Amazons do fight.
"And our chast Lamps we hourly trim,
"Lest the great Bridegroom find them dim.
"Our Orient Breaths perfumed are
"With insense of incessant Pray'r.
"And Holy-water of our Tears
"Most strangly our complexion clears.
"Not Tears of Grief; but such as those
"With which calm Pleasure overflows;
"Or Pity, when we look on you
"That live without this happy Vow.
"How should we grieve that must be seen
"Each one a Spouse, and each a Queen;
"And can in Heaven hence behold
"Our brighter Robes and Crowns of Gold?
"When we have prayed all our Beads,
"Some One the holy Legend reads;
"While all the rest with Needles paint
"The Face and Graces of the Saint.
"But what the Linnen can't receive
"They in their Lives do interweave
"This work the Saints best represents;
"That serves for Altar's Ornaments.
"But much it to our work would add
"If here your hand, your Face we had:
"By it we would our Lady touch;
"Yet thus She you resembles much.
"Some of your Features, as we sow'd,
"Through ev'ry Shrine should be bestow'd.
"And in one Beauty we would take
"Enough a thousand Saints to make.
"And (for I dare not quench the Fire
"That me does for your good inspire)
"'Twere Sacriledge a Mant t'admit
"To holy things, for Heaven fit.
"I see the Angels in a Crown
"On you the Lillies show'ring down:
"And round about you Glory breaks,
"That something more then humane speaks.
"All Beauty, when at such a height,
"Is so already consecrate.
"Fairfax I know; and long ere this
"Have mark'd the Youth, and what he is.
"But can he such a Rival seem
"For whom you Heav'n should disesteem?
"Ah, no! and 'twould more Honour prove
"He your Devoto were, then Love.
Here live beloved, and obey'd:
Each one your Sister, each your Maid.
"And, if our Rule seem strictly pend,
"The Rule it self to you shall bend.
"Our Abbess too, now far in Age,
"Doth your succession near presage.
"How soft the yoke on us would lye,
"Might such fair Hands as yours it tye!
"Your voice, the sweetest of the Quire,
"Shall draw Heav'n nearer, raise us higher.
"And your Example, if our Head,
"Will soon us to perfection lead.
"Those Virtues to us all so dear,
"Will straight grow Sanctity when here:
"And that, once sprung, increase so fast
"Till Miracles it work at last.
"Nor is our Order yet so nice,
"Delight to banish as a Vice.
"Here Pleasure Piety doth meet;
"One perfecting the other Sweet.
"So through the mortal fruit we boyl
"The Sugars uncorrupting Oyl:
"And that which perisht while we pull,
"Is thus preserved clear and full.
"For such indeed are all our Arts;
"Still handling Natures finest Parts.
"Flow'rs dress the Altars; for the Clothes,
"The Sea-born Amber we compose;
"Balms for the griv'd we draw; and pasts
"We mold, as Baits for curious tasts.
"What need is here of Man? unless
"These as sweet Sins we should confess.
"Each Night among us to your side
"Appoint a fresh and Virgin Bride;
"Whom if Our Lord at midnight find,
"Yet Neither should be left behind.
"Where you may lye as chast in Bed,
"As Pearls together billeted.
"All Night embracing Arm in Arm,
"Like Chrystal pure with Cotton warm.
"But what is this to all the store
"Of Joys you see, and may make more!
"Try but a while, if you be wise:
"The Tryal neither Costs, nor Tyes.
Now Fairfax seek her promis'd faith:
Religion that dispensed hath;
Which She hence forward does begin;
The Nuns smooth Tongue has suckt her in.
Oft, though he knew it was in vain,
Yet would he valiantly complain.
"Is this that Sanctity so great,
"An Art by which you finly'r cheat
"Hypocrite Witches, hence Avant,
"Who though in prison yet inchant!
"Death only can such Theeves make fast,
"As rob though in the Dungeon cast.
"Were there but, when this House was made,
"One Stone that a just Hand had laid,
"It must have fall'n upon her Head
"Who first Thee from thy Faith misled.
"And yet, how well soever ment,
"With them 'twould soon grow fraudulent
"For like themselves they alter all,
"And vice infects the very Wall.
"But sure those Buildings last not long,
"Founded by Folly, kept by Wrong.
"I know what Fruit their Gardens yield,
"When they it think by Night conceal'd.
"Fly from their Vices. 'Tis thy state,
"Not Thee, that they would consecrate.
"Fly from their Ruine. How I fear
"Though guiltless lest thou perish there.
What should he do? He would respect
Religion, but not Right neglect:
For first Religion taught him Right,
And dazled not but clear'd his sight.
Sometimes resolv'd his Sword he draws,
But reverenceth then the Laws:
"For Justice still that Courage led;
First from a Judge, then Souldier bred.
Small Honour would be in the Storm.
The Court him grants the lawful Form;
Which licens'd either Peace or Force,
To hinder the unjust Divorce.
Yet still the Nuns his Right debar'd,
Standing upon their holy Guard.
Ill-counsell'd Women, do you know
Whom you resist, or what you do?
Is not this he whose Offspring fierce
Shall fight through all the Universe;
And with successive Valour try
France, Poland, either Germany;
Till one, as long since prophecy'd,
His Horse through conquer'd Britain ride?
Yet, against Fate, his Spouse they kept;
And the great Race would intercept.
Some to the Breach against their Foes
Their Wooden Saints in vain oppose
Another bolder stands at push
With their old Holy-Water Brush.
While the disjointed Abbess threads
The gingling Chain-shot of her Beads.
But their lowd'st Cannon were their Lungs;
And sharpest Weapons were their Tongues.
But, waving these aside like Flyes,
Young Fairfax through the Wall does rise.
Then th' unfrequented Vault appear'd,
And superstitions vainly fear'd.
The Relicks False were set to view;
Only the Jewels there were true.
But truly bright and holy Thwaites
That weeping at the Altar waites.
But the glad Youth away her bears,
And to the Nuns bequeaths her Tears:
Who guiltily their Prize bemoan,
Like Gipsies that a Child hath stoln.
Thenceforth (as when th' Inchantment ends
The Castle vanishes or rends)
The wasting Cloister with the rest
Was in one instant dispossest.
At the demolishing, this Seat
To Fairfax fell as by Escheat.
And what both Nuns and Founders will'd
'Tis likely better thus fulfill'd,
For if the Virgin prov'd not theirs,
The Cloyster yet remained hers.
Though many a Nun there made her vow,
'Twas no Religious-House till now.
From that blest Bed the Heroe came,
Whom France and Poland yet does fame:
Who, when retired here to Peace,
His warlike Studies could not cease;
But laid these Gardens out in sport
In the just Figure of a Fort;
And with five Bastions it did fence,
As aiming one for ev'ry Sense.
When in the East the Morning Ray
Hangs out the Colours of the Day,
The Bee through these known Allies hums,
Beating the Dian with its Drumms.
Then Flow'rs their drowsie Eylids raise,
Their Silken Ensigns each displayes,
And dries its Pan yet dank with Dew,
And fills its Flask with Odours new.
These, as their Governour goes by,
In fragrant Vollyes they let fly;
And to salute their Governess
Again as great a charge they press:
None for the Virgin Nymph; for She
Seems with the Flow'rs a Flow'r to be.
And think so still! though not compare
With Breath so sweet, or Cheek so faire.
Well shot ye Fireman! Oh how sweet,
And round your equal Fires do meet;
Whose shrill report no Ear can tell,
But Ecchoes to the Eye and smell.
See how the Flow'rs, as at Parade,
Under their Colours stand displaid:
Each Regiment in order grows,
That of the Tulip Pinke and Rose.
But when the vigilant Patroul
Of Stars walks round about the Pole,
Their Leaves, that to the stalks are curl'd,
Seem to their Staves the Ensigns furl'd.
Then in some Flow'rs beloved Hut
Each Bee as Sentinel is shut;
And sleeps so too: but, if once stir'd,
She runs you through, or askes The Word.
Oh Thou, that dear and happy Isle
The Garden of the World ere while,
Thou Paradise of four Seas,
Which Heaven planted us to please,
But, to exclude the World, did guard
With watry if not flaming Sword;
What luckless Apple did we tast,
To make us Mortal, and The Wast.
Unhappy! shall we never more
That sweet Milltia restore,
When Gardens only had their Towrs,
And all the Garrisons were Flow'rs,
When Roses only Arms might bear,
And Men did rosie Garlands wear?
Tulips, in several Colours barr'd,
Were then the Switzers of our Guard.
The Gardiner had the Souldiers place,
And his more gentle Forts did trace.
The Nursery of all things green
Was then the only Magazeen.
The Winter Quarters were the Stoves,
Where he the tender Plants removes.
But War all this doth overgrow:
We Ord'nance Plant and Powder sow.
And yet their walks one on the Sod
Who, had it pleased him and God,
Might once have made our Gardens spring
Fresh as his own and flourishing.
But he preferr'd to the Cinque Ports
These five imaginary Forts:
And, in those half-dry Trenches, spann'd
Pow'r which the Ocean might command.
For he did, with his utmost Skill,
Ambition weed, but Conscience till.
Conscience, that Heaven-nursed Plant,
Which most our Earthly Gardens want.
A prickling leaf it bears, and such
As that which shrinks at ev'ry touch;
But Flow'rs eternal, and divine,
That in the Crowns of Saints do shine.
The sight does from these Bastions ply,
Th' invisible Artilery;
And at proud Cawood Castle seems
To point the Battery of its Beams.
As if it quarrell'd in the Seat
Th' Ambition of its Prelate great.
But ore the Meads below it plays,
Or innocently seems to gaze.
And now to the Abbyss I pass
Of that unfathomable Grass,
Where Men like Grashoppers appear,
But Grashoppers are Gyants there:
They, in there squeking Laugh, contemn
Us as we walk more low then them:
And, from the Precipices tall
Of the green spir's, to us do call.
To see Men through this Meadow Dive,
We wonder how they rise alive.
As, under Water, none does know
Whether he fall through it or go.
But, as the Marriners that sound,
And show upon their Lead the Ground,
They bring up Flow'rs so to be seen,
And prove they've at the Bottom been.
No Scene that turns with Engines strange
Does oftner then these Meadows change,
For when the Sun the Grass hath vext,
The tawny Mowers enter next;
Who seem like Israaliies to be,
Walking on foot through a green Sea.
To them the Grassy Deeps divide,
And crowd a Lane to either Side.
With whistling Sithe, and Elbow strong,
These Massacre the Grass along:
While one, unknowing, carves the Rail,
Whose yet unfeather'd Quils her fail.
The Edge all bloody from its Breast
He draws, and does his stroke detest;
Fearing the Flesh untimely mow'd
To him a Fate as black forebode.
But bloody Thestylis, that waites
To bring the mowing Camp their Cates,
Greedy as Kites has trust it up,
And forthwith means on it to sup:
When on another quick She lights,
And cryes, he call'd us Israelites;
But now, to make his saying true,
Rails rain for Quails, for Manna Dew.
Unhappy Birds! what does it boot
To build below the Grasses Root;
When Lowness is unsafe as Hight,
And Chance o'retakes what scapeth spight?
And now your Orphan Parents Call
Sounds your untimely Funeral.
Death-Trumpets creak in such a Note,
And 'tis the Sourdine in their Throat.
Or sooner hatch or higher build:
The Mower now commands the Field;
In whose new Traverse seemeth wrought
A Camp of Battail newly fought:
Where, as the Meads with Hay, the Plain
Lyes quilted ore with Bodies slain:
The Women that with forks it filing,
Do represent the Pillaging.
And now the careless Victors play,
Dancing the Triumphs of the Hay;
Where every Mowers wholesome Heat
Smells like an Alexanders Sweat.
Their Females fragrant as the Mead
Which they in Fairy Circles tread:
When at their Dances End they kiss,
Their new-made Hay not sweeter is.
When after this 'tis pil'd in Cocks,
Like a calm Sea it shews the Rocks:
We wondring in the River near
How Boats among them safely steer.
Or, like the Desert Memphis Sand,
Short Pyramids of Hay do stand.
And such the Roman Camps do rise
In Hills for Soldiers Obsequies.
This Scene again withdrawing brings
A new and empty Face of things;
A levell'd space, as smooth and plain,
As Clothes for Lilly strecht to stain.
The World when first created sure
Was such a Table rase and pure.
Or rather such is the Toril
Ere the Bulls enter at Madril.
For to this naked equal Flat,
Which Levellers take Pattern at,
The Villagers in common chase
Their Cattle, which it closer rase;
And what below the Sith increast
Is pincht yet nearer by the Breast.
Such, in the painted World, appear'd
Davenant with th'Universal Heard.
They seem within the polisht Grass
A landskip drawen in Looking-Glass.
And shrunk in the huge Pasture show
As spots, so shap'd, on Faces do.
Such Fleas, ere they approach the Eye,
In Multiplyiug Glasses lye.
They feed so wide, so slowly move,
As Constellatious do above.
Then, to conclude these pleasant Acts,
Denton sets ope its Cataracts;
And makes the Meadow truly be
(What it but seem'd before) a Sea.
For, jealous of its Lords long stay,
It try's t'invite him thus away.
The River in it self is drown'd,
And Isl's th' astonish Cattle round.
Let others tell the Paradox,
How Eels now bellow in the Ox;
How Horses at their Tails do kick,
Turn'd as they hang to Leeches quick;
How Boats can over Bridges sail;
And Fishes do the Stables scale.
How Salmons trespassing are found;
And Pikes are taken in the Pound.
But I, retiring from the Flood,
Take Sanctuary in the Wood;
And, while it lasts, my self imbark
In this yet green, yet growing Ark;
Where the first Carpenter might best
Fit Timber for his Keel have Prest.
And where all Creatures might have shares,
Although in Armies, not in Paires.
The double Wood of ancient Stocks
Link'd in so thick, an Union locks,
It like two Pedigrees appears,
On one hand Fairfax, th' other Veres:
Of whom though many fell in War,
Yet more to Heaven shooting are:
And, as they Natures Cradle deckt,
Will in green Age her Hearse expect.
When first the Eye this Forrest sees
It seems indeed as Wood not Trees:
As if their Neighbourhood so old
To one great Trunk them all did mold.
There the huge Bulk takes place, as ment
To thrust up a Fifth Element;
And stretches still so closely wedg'd
As if the Night within were hedg'd.
Dark all without it knits; within
It opens passable and thin;
And in as loose an order grows,
As the Corinthean Porticoes.
The Arching Boughs unite between
The Columnes of the Temple green;
And underneath the winged Quires
Echo about their tuned Fires.
The Nightingale does here make choice
To sing the Tryals of her Voice.
Low Shrubs she sits in, and adorns
With Musick high the squatted Thorns.
But highest Oakes stoop down to hear,
And listning Elders prick the Ear.
The Thorn, lest it should hurt her, draws
Within the Skin its shrunken claws.
But I have for my Musick found
A Sadder, yet more pleasing Sound:
The Stock-doves whose fair necks are grac'd
With Nuptial Rings their Ensigns chast;
Yet always, for some Cause unknown,
Sad pair unto the Elms they moan.
O why should such a Couple mourn,
That in so equal Flames do burn!
Then as I carless on the Bed
Of gelid Straw-berryes do tread,
And through the Hazles thick espy
The hatching Thrastles shining Eye,
The Heron from the Ashes top,
The eldest of its young lets drop,
As if it Stork-like did pretend
That Tribute to its Lord to send.
But most the Hewel's wonders are,
Who here has the Holt-felsters care.
He walks still upright from the Root,
Meas'ring the Timber with his Foot;
And all the way, to keep it clean,
Doth from the Bark the Wood-moths glean.
He, with his Beak, examines well
Which fit to stand and which to fell.
The good he numbers up, and hacks;
As if he mark'd them with the Ax.
But where he, tinkling with his Beak,
Does find the hollow Oak to speak,
That for his building he designs,
And through the tainted Side he mines.
Who could have thought the tallest Oak
Should fall by such a feeble Strok'!
Nor would it, had the Tree not fed
A Traitor-worm, within it bred.
(As first our Flesh corrupt within
Tempts impotent and bashful Sin.
And yet that Worm triumphs not long,
But serves to feed the Hewels young.
While the Oake seems to fall content,
Viewing the Treason's Punishment.
Thus I, easie Philosopher,
Among the Birds and Trees confer:
And little now to make me, wants
Or of the Fowles, or of the Plants.
Give me but Wings as they, and I
Streight floting on the Air shall fly:
Or turn me but, and you shall see
I was but an inverted Tree.
Already I begin to call
In their most-learned Original:
And where I Language want,my Signs
The Bird upon the Bough divines;
And more attentive there doth sit
Then if She were with Lime-twigs knit.
No Leaf does tremble in the Wind
Which I returning cannot find.
Out of these scatter'd Sibyls Leaves
Strange Prophecies my Phancy weaves:
And in one History consumes,
Like Mexique Paintings, all the Plumes.
What Rome, Greece, Palestine, ere said
I in this light Mosaick read.
Thrice happy he who, not mistook,
Hath read in Natures mystick Book.
And see how Chance's better Wit
Could with a Mask my studies hit!
The Oak-Leaves me embroyder all,
Between which Caterpillars crawl:
And Ivy, with familiar trails,
Me licks, and clasps, and curles, and hales.
Under this antick Cope I move
Like some great Prelate of the Grove,
Then, languishing with ease, I toss
On Pallets swoln of Velvet Moss;
While the Wind, cooling through the Boughs,
Flatters with Air my panting Brows.
Thanks for my Rest ye Mossy Banks,
And unto you cool Zephyr's Thanks,
Who, as my Hair, my Thoughts too shed,
And winnow from the Chaff my Head.
How safe, methinks, and strong, behind
These Trees have I incamp'd my Mind;
Where Beauty, aiming at the Heart,
Bends in some Tree its useless Dart;
And where the World no certain Shot
Can make, or me it toucheth not.
But I on it securely play,
And gaul its Horsemen all the Day.
Bind me ye Woodbines in your 'twines,
Curle me about ye gadding Vines,
And Oh so close your Circles lace,
That I may never leave this Place:
But, lest your Fetters prove too weak,
Ere I your Silken Bondage break,
Do you, O Brambles, chain me too,
And courteous Briars nail me though.
Here in the Morning tye my Chain,
Where the two Woods have made a Lane;
While, like a Guard on either side,
The Trees before their Lord divide;
This, like a long and equal Thread,
Betwixt two Labyrinths does lead.
But, where the Floods did lately drown,
There at the Ev'ning stake me down.
For now the Waves are fal'n and dry'd,
And now the Meadows fresher dy'd;
Whose Grass, with moister colour dasht,
Seems as green Silks but newly washt.
No Serpent new nor Crocodile
Remains behind our little Nile;
Unless it self you will mistake,
Among these Meads the only Snake.
See in what wanton harmless folds
It ev'ry where the Meadow holds;
And its yet muddy back doth lick,
Till as a Chrystal Mirrour slick;
Where all things gaze themselves, and doubt
If they be in it or without.
And for his shade which therein shines,
Narcissus like, the Sun too pines.
Oh what a Pleasure 'tis to hedge
My Temples here with heavy sedge;
Abandoning my lazy Side,
Stretcht as a Bank unto the Tide;
Or to suspend my sliding Foot
On the Osiers undermined Root,
And in its Branches tough to hang,
While at my Lines the Fishes twang!
But now away my Hooks, my Quills,
And Angles, idle Utensils.
The Young Maria walks to night:
Hide trifling Youth thy Pleasures slight.
'Twere shame that such judicious Eyes
Should with such Toyes a Man surprize;
She that already is the Law
Of all her Sex, her Ages Aw.
See how loose Nature, in respect
To her, it self doth recollect;
And every thing so whisht and fine,
Starts forth with to its Bonne Mine.
The Sun himself, of Her aware,
Seems to descend with greater Care,
And lest She see him go to Bed,
In blushing Clouds conceales his Head.
So when the Shadows laid asleep
From underneath these Banks do creep,
And on the River as it flows
With Eben Shuts begin to close;
The modest Halcyon comes in sight,
Flying betwixt the Day and Night;
And such an horror calm and dumb,
Admiring Nature does benum.
The viscous Air, wheres'ere She fly,
Follows and sucks her Azure dy;
The gellying Stream compacts below,
If it might fix her shadow so;
The Stupid Fishes hang, as plain
As Flies in Chrystal overt'ane,
And Men the silent Scene assist,
Charm'd with the saphir-winged Mist.
Maria such, and so doth hush
The World, and through the Ev'ning rush.
No new-born Comet such a Train
Draws through the Skie, nor Star new-slain.
For streight those giddy Rockets fail,
Which from the putrid Earth exhale,
But by her Flames, in Heaven try'd,
Nature is wholly Vitrifi'd.
'Tis She that to these Gardens gave
That wondrous Beauty which they have;
She streightness on the Woods bestows;
To Her the Meadow sweetness owes;
Nothing could make the River be
So Chrystal-pure but only She;
She yet more Pure, Sweet, Streight, and Fair,
Then Gardens, Woods, Meads, Rivers are.
Therefore what first She on them spent,
They gratefully again present.
The Meadow Carpets where to tread;
The Garden Flow'rs to Crown Her Head;
And for a Glass the limpid Brook,
Where She may all her Beautyes look;
But, since She would not have them seen,
The Wood about her draws a Skreen.
For She, to higher Beauties rais'd,
Disdains to be for lesser prais'd.
She counts her Beauty to converse
In all the Languages as hers;
Not yet in those her self imployes
But for the Wisdome, not the Noyse;
Nor yet that Wisdome would affect,
But as 'tis Heavens Dialect.
Blest Nymph! that couldst so soon prevent
Those Trains by Youth against thee meant;
Tears (watry Shot that pierce the Mind;)
And Sighs (Loves Cannon charg'd with Wind;)
True Praise (That breaks through all defence;)
And feign'd complying Innocence;
But knowing where this Ambush lay,
She scap'd the safe, but roughest Way.
This 'tis to have been from the first
In a Domestick Heaven nurst,
Under the Discipline severe
Of Fairfax, and the starry Vere;
Where not one object can come nigh
But pure, and spotless as the Eye;
And Goodness doth it self intail
On Females, if there want a Male.
Go now fond Sex that on your Face
Do all your useless Study place,
Nor once at Vice your Brows dare knit
Lest the smooth Forehead wrinkled sit
Yet your own Face shall at you grin,
Thorough the Black-bag of your Skin;
When knowledge only could have fill'd
And Virtue all those Furows till'd.
Hence She with Graces more divine
Supplies beyond her Sex the Line;
And, like a sprig of Misleto,
On the Fairfacian Oak does grow;
Whence, for some universal good,
The Priest shall cut the sacred Bud;
While her glad Parents most rejoice,
And make their Destiny their Choice.
Mean time ye Fields, Springs, Bushes, Flow'rs,
Where yet She leads her studious Hours,
(Till Fate her worthily translates,
And find a Fairfax for our Thwaites)
Employ the means you have by Her,
And in your kind your selves preferr;
That, as all Virgins She preceds,
So you all Woods, Streams, Gardens, Meads.
For you Thessalian Tempe's Seat
Shall now be scorn'd as obsolete;
Aranjeuz, as less, disdain'd;
The Bel-Retiro as constrain'd;
But name not the Idalian Grove,
For 'twas the Seat of wanton Love;
Much less the Dead's Elysian Fields,
Yet nor to them your Beauty yields.
'Tis not, what once it was, the World;
But a rude heap together hurl'd;
All negligently overthrown,
Gulfes, Deserts, Precipices, Stone.
Your lesser World contains the same.
But in more decent Order tame;
You Heaven's Center, Nature's Lap.
And Paradice's only Map.
But now the Salmon-Fishers moist
Their Leathern Boats begin to hoist;
And, like Antipodes in Shoes,
Have shod their Heads in their Canoos.
How Tortoise like, but not so slow,
These rational Amphibii go?
Let's in: for the dark Hemisphere
Does now like one of them appear.
Today, recovering from influenza,
I begin, having nothing worse to do,
This autobiography that ends a
Half of my life I'm glad I'm through.
O Love, what a bloody hullaballoo
I look back at, shaken and sober,
When that intemperate life I view
From this temperate October.
To nineteen hundred and forty-seven
I pay the deepest of respects,
For during this year I was given
Some insight into the other sex.
I was a victim, till forty-six,
Of the rosy bed with bitches in it;
But now, in spite of all pretexts,
I never sleep a single minute.
O fellow sailor on the tossing sea,
O fleeting virgin in the night,
O privates, general in lechery,
Shun, shun the bedroom like a blight:
Evade, O amorous acolyte,
That pillow where your heart can bury -
For if the thing was stood upright
It would become a cemetery.
I start with this apostrophe
To all apostles of true love:
With your devotion visit me,
Give me the glory of the dove
That dies of dereliction. Give
True love to me, true love to me,
And in two shakes I will prove
It's false to you and false to me.
Bright spawner, on your sandbank dwell
Coldblooded as a plumber's pipe -
The procreatory ocean swell
Warming, till they're over ripe,
The cockles of your cold heart, will
Teach us true love can instil
Temperature into any type.
Does not the oyster in its bed
Open a yearning yoni when
The full moon passes overhead
Feeling for pearls? O nothing, then,
Too low a form of life is, when
Love, abandoning the cloister,
Can animate the bedded oyster,
The spawning tiddler, and men.
Thus all of us, the pig and prince,
The prince and the psychiatrist,
Owe everything to true love, since
How the devil could we exist
If our parents had never kissed?
All biographies, therefore,
- No matter what else they evince -
Open, like prisons, with adore.
Remember, when you love another,
Who demonstrably is a bitch,
Even Venus had a mother
Whose love, like a silent aitch,
Incepted your erotic itch.
Love, Love has the longest history,
For we can tell an ape his father
Begot him on a mystery.
I, born in Essex thirty-four
Essentially sexual years ago,
Stepped down, looked around, and saw
I had been cast a little low
In the social register
For the friends whom I now know.
Is a constable a mister?
Bob's your uncle, even so.
Better men than I have wondered
Why one's father could not see
That at one's birth he had blundered.
His ill-chosen paternity
Embarrasses the fraternity
Of one's friends who, living Huysmans,
Understandably have wondered
At fatherhood permitted policemen.
So I, the son of an administer
Of the facts of civil laws
Delight in uncivil and even sinister
Violations. Thus my cause
Is simply, friend, to hell with yours.
In misdemeanours I was nourished -
Learnt, like altruists in Westminster,
By what duplicities one flourished.
At five, but feeling rather young,
With a blue eye beauty over six,
Hand in hand and tongue to tongue
I took a sin upon my sex.
Sin? It was pleasure. So I told her.
And ever since, persisting in
Concupiscences no bolder
My pleasure's been to undress sin.
What's the point of a confession
If you have nothing to confess?
I follow the perjuring profession
- O poet, lying to impress! -
But the beautiful lie in a beautiful dress
Is the least heinous of my transgressions:
When a new one's added, 'O who was it? '
Sigh the skeletons in my closet.
Ladybird, ladybird, come home, come home:
Muse and mistress wherever you are.
The evening is here and in the gloom
Each bisexual worm burns like a star
And the love of man is crepuscular.
In the day the world. But, at night, we
Lonely on egoes dark and far
Apart as worlds, between sea and sea,
Yearn on each other as the stars hold
One another in fields together.
O rose of all the world, enfold
Each weeping worm against the cold
Of the bitter ego's weather;
To warm our isothermal pride
Cause sometimes, Love, another
To keep us by an unselfish side.
The act of human procreation
- The rutting tongue, the grunt and shudder,
The sweat, the reek of defecation,
The cradle hanging by the bladder,
The scramble up the hairy ladder,
And from the thumping bed of Time
Immortality, a white slime,
Sucking at its mother's udder -
The act of human procreation
- The sore dug plugging, the lugged out bub,
The small man priming a lactation,
The grunt, the drooping teat, the rub
Of gum and dug, the slobbing kiss:
Behold the mater amabilis,
Sow with a saviour, messiah and cow,
Virgin and piglet, son and sow:
The act of human procreation,
- O crown and flower, O culmination
Of perfect love throughout creation -
What can I compare it to?
O eternal butterflies in the belly,
O trembling of the heavenly jelly,
O miracle of birth! Really
We are excreted, like shit.
The Church, mediatrix between heaven
And human fallibility
Reminds us that the age of seven
Inaugurates the Reason we
Spend our prolonged seniority
Transgressing. Of that time I wish
I could recount a better story
Than finding a shilling and a fish.
But memory flirts with seven veils
Peekabooing the accidental
And what the devil it all entails
Only Sigmund Freud suspects.
I think my shilling and my fish
Symbolised a hidden wish
To sublimate these two affects:
Money is nice and so is sex.
The Angel of Reason, descending
On my seven year old head
Inscribed this sentence by my bed:
The pleasure of money is unending
But sex satisfied is sex dead.
I tested to see if sex died
But, all my effort notwithstanding,
Have never found it satisfied.
Abacus of Reason, you have been
The instrument of my abuse,
The North Star I have never seen,
The trick for which I have no use:
The Reason, gadget of schoolmasters,
Pimp of the spirit, the smart alec,
Proud engineer of disasters,
I see phallic: you, cephalic.
Happy those early days when I
Attended an elementary school
Where seven hundred infant lives
Flittered like gadflies on the stool
(We discovered that contraceptives
Blown up like balloons, could fly):
We memorised the Golden Rule:
Lie, lie, lie, lie.
For God's sake, Barker. This is enough
Whimsicalities and such stuff.
Where's the ineffable mystery,
The affiancing to affinities
Of the young poet? The history
Of an evolving mind's love
For the miseries and the humanities?
The sulking and son loving Muse
Grabbed me when I was nine. She saw
It was a question of self abuse
Or verses. I tossed off reams before
I cared to recognize their purpose.
While other urchins were blowing up toads
With pipes of straw stuck in the arse,
So was I, but I also wrote odes.
There was a priest, a priest, a priest,
A Reverend of the Oratory
Who taught me history. At least
He taught me the best part of his story.
Fat Father William, have you ceased
To lead boys up the narrow path
Through the doors of the Turkish Bath?
I hope you're warm in Purgatory.
And in the yard of the tenement
- The Samuel Lewis Trust - I played
While my father, for the rent
(Ten bob a wekk and seldom paid) ,
Trudged London for a job. I went
Skedaddling up the scanty years,
My learning, like the rent, in arrears,
But sometimes making the grade.
Oh boring kids! In spite of Freud
I find my childhood recollections
Much duller now than when I enjoyed
It. The whistling affections,
All fitting wrong, toy railway sections
Running in circles. Cruel as cats
Even the lower beasts avoid
These inhumanitarian brats.
Since the Age of Reason's seven
And most of one's friends over eight,
Therefore they're reasonable? Even
Sensible Stearns or simpleton Stephen
Wouldn't claim that. I contemplate
A world which, at crucial instants,
Surrenders to adulterant infants
The adult onus to think straight.
At the bottom of this murky well
My childhood, like a climbing root,
Nursed in dirt the simple cell
That pays itself this sour tribute.
Track any poet to a beginning
And in a dark room you will find
A little boy intent on sinning
With an etymological lover.
I peopled my youth with the pulchritude
Of heterae noun-anatomised;
The literature that I prized
Was anything to do with the nude
Spirit of creative art
Who whispered to me: 'Don't be queasy.
Simply write about a tart
And there she is. The rest's easy.'
And thus, incepted in congenial
Feebleness of moral power
I became a poet. Venial
As a human misdemeanour,
Still, it gave me, prisoner
In my lack of character,
Pig to the Circean Muse's honour.
Her honour? Why, it's lying on her.
Dowered, invested and endowed
With every frailty is the poet -
Yielding to wickedness because
How the hell else can he know it?
The tempted poet must be allowed
All ethical latitude. His small flaws
Bring home to him, in sweet breaches,
The moral self indulgence teaches.
Where was I? Running, so to speak,
To the adolescent seed? I
Found my will power rather weak
And my appetite rather greedy
About the year of the General Strike,
So I struck, as it were, myself:
Refused to do anything whatsover, like
Exercise books on a shelf.
Do Youth and Innocence prevail
Over that cloudcuckoo clime
Where the seasons never fail
And the clocks forget the time?
Where the peaks of the sublime
Crown every thought; where every vale
Has its phantasy and phantasm
And every midnight its orgasm?
I mooned into my fourteenth year
Through a world pronouncing harsh
Judgments I could not quite hear
About my verse, my young moustasche
And my bad habits. In Battersea Park
I almost heard strangers gossip
About my poems, almost remark
The bush of knowledge on my lip.
Golden Calf, Golden Calf, where are you now
Who lowed so mournfully in the dense
Arcana of my adolescence?
No later anguish of bull or cow
Could ever be compared with half
The misery of the amorous calf
Moonstruck in moonshine. How could I know
You can't couple Love with any sense?
Poignant as a swallowed knife,
Abstracted as a mannequin,
Remote as music, touchy as skin,
Into an apocalypse,
Young Love, taking Grief to wife,
And tasting the bitterness of her lips
Forgets it comes from swabbing gin.
The veils descend. The unknown figure
Is sheeted in the indecencies
Of shame and boils. The nose gets bigger,
The private parts, haired like a trigger,
Cock at a dream. The infant cries
Abandoned in its discarded larva,
Out of which steps, with bloodshot eyes,
The man, the man, crying Ave, Ave!
That Frenchman really had the trick
Of figure skating in this stanza
But I, thank God, cannot read Gallic
And so escape his influenza.
Above my head his rhetoric
Asks emulation. I do not answer.
It is as though I had not heard
Because I cannot speak a word.
But I invoke him, dirty dog,
As one barker to another:
Lift over me your clever leg,
Teach me, you snail-swallowing frog
To make out of a spot of bother
Verses that shall catalogue
Every exaggerated human claim,
Every exaggerated human aim.
I entreat you, frank villain,
Get up out of your bed of dirt
And guide my hand. You are still an
At telling Truth she's telling lies.
Get up liar; get up, cheat,
Look the bitch square in the eyes
And you'll see what I entreat.
We share, frog, much the same well.
I sense your larger spectre down
Here among the social swill
Moving at ease beside my own
And the muckrakers I have known.
No, not the magnitude I claim
That makes your shade loom like a tall
Memorial but the type's the same.
You murdered with a knife, but I
Like someone out of Oscar Wilde
Commemorate with a child
The smiling victims as they die
Slewing in kisses and the lie
Of generation. But we both killed.
I rob the grave you glorify,
You glorify where I defiled.
O most adult adulterer
Preside, now, coldly over
My writing hand, as to it crowd
The images of those unreal years
That, like a curtain, seem to stir
Guiltily over what they cover -
Those unreal years, dreamshot and proud,
When the vision first appears.
The unveiled vision of all things
Walking towards us as we stand
And giving us, in either hand,
The knowledge that the world brings
To those her most beloved, those
Who, when she strikes with her wings,
Stand rooted, turned into a rose
By terrestrial understandings.
Come, sulking woman, bare as water,
Dazzle me now as you dazzled me
When, blinded by your nudity,
I saw the sex of the intellect,
The idea of the beautiful.
The beautiful to which I, later,
Gave only mistrust and neglect,
The idea no dishonour can annul.
Vanquished aviatrix, descend
Again, long vanished vision whom
I have not known so long, assume
Your former bright prerogative,
Illuminate, guide and attend
Me now. O living vision, give
The grave, the verity; and send
The spell that makes the poem live.
I sent a letter to my love
In an envelope of stone,
And in between the letters ran
A crying torrent that began
To grow till it was bigger than
Nyanza or the heart of man.
I sent a letter to my love
In an envelope of stone.
I sent a present to my love
In a black bordered box,
A clock that beats a time of tears
As the stricken midnight nears
And my love weeps as she hears
The armageddon of the years.
I sent my love the present
In a black bordered box.
I sent a liar to my love
With his hands full of roses
But she shook her yellow and curled
Curled and yellow hair and cried
The rose is dead of all the world
Since my only love has lied.
I sent a liar to my love
With roses in his hands.
I sent a daughter to my love
In a painted cradle.
She took her up at her left breast
And rocked her to a mothered rest
Singing a song that what is best
Loves and loves and forgets the rest.
I sent a daughter to my love
In a painted cradle.
I sent a letter to my love
On a sheet of stone.
She looked down and as she read
She shook her yellow hair and said
Now he sleeps alone instead
Of many a lie in many a bed.
I sent a letter to my love
On a sheet of stone.
O long-haired virgin by my tree
Among whose forks hung enraged
A sexual passion not assuaged
By you, its victim - knee to knee,
Locked sweating in the muscled dark
Lovers, as new as we were, spill
The child on grass in Richmond Park.
Crying the calf runs wild among
Hills of the heart are memories:
Long long the white kiss of the young
Rides the lip and only dies
When the whole man stalks among
The crosses where remorse lies -
Then, then the vultures on the tongue
Rule empires of white memories.
Legendary water, where, within
Gazing, my own face I perceive,
How can my self-disgust believe
This was my angel at seventeeen?
Stars, stars and the world, seen
Untouched by crystal. Retrieve
The morning star what culprit can
Who knows his blood spins in between?
Move backward, loving rover, over
All those unfeathered instances
I tar with kiss of pitch, the dirty
Lip-service that a jaded thirty
Renders its early innocences.
Pointer of recollection, show
The deaths in feather that now cover
The tarry spot I died below.
What sickening snot-engendered bastard
Likes making an idiot of himself?
I wish to heaven I had mastered
The art of living like a dastard
While still admiring oneself.
About my doings, past and recent,
I hear Disgust - my better half -
'His only decency's indecent.'
Star-fingered shepherdess of Sleep
Come, pacify regret, remorse;
And let the suffering black sheep
Weep on the bed it made. Let pause
The orphic criminal to perceive
That in the venue of his days
All the crimes look back and grieve
Over lies no grief allays.
Sleep at my side again, my bride,
As on our marriage bed you turned
Into a flowering bush that burned
All the proud flesh away. Beside
Me now, you, shade of my departed
Broken, abandoned bride, lie still,
And I shall hold you close until
Even our ghosts are broken hearted.
So trusting, innocent, and unknowing
What the hazards of the world
Storm and strike a marriage with,
We did not hear the grinders blowing
But sailed our kisses round the world
Ignorant of monsters and the vaster
Cemetery of innocence. This wreath
Dreams over our common disaster.
But bright that nuptials to me now
As when, the smiling foetus carried
Rose-decked today instead of tomorrow,
Like country cousins we were married
By the pretty bullying embryo
And you, my friend: I will not borrow
Again the serge suit that I carried
Through honey of moon to sup of sorrow.
Loving the hand, gentle the reproving;
Loving the heart, deeper the understanding;
Deeper the understanding, larger the confiding
For the hurt heart's hiding.
Forgiving the hand, love without an ending
Walks back on water; giving and taking
Both sides become by simple comprehending:
Deeper the love, greater the heart at breaking.
O Bishop Andrewes, Bishop Berkeley,
John Peale Bishop and Bishop's Park,
I look through my ego darkly
But all that I perceive is dark:
My parochial testaments
And with your vestal vested vestments
Tenderly invest my state.
Let grace, like lace, descend upon me
And dignify my wingless shoulder:
Let Grace, like space, lie heavy on me
And make me seem a little older,
A little nobler; let Grace sidle
Into my shameful bed, and, curling
About me in a psychic bridal,
Prove that even Grace is a darling.
The moon is graceful in the sky,
The bird is graceful in the air,
The girl is graceful too, so why
The devil should I ever care
Capitulating to despair?
Since Grace is clearly everywhere
And I am either here or there
I'm pretty sure I've got my share.
Grace whom no man ever held,
Whose breast no human hand has pressed,
Grace no lover has undressed
Because she's naked as a beast -
Grace will either gild or geld.
Sweet Grace abounding into bed
Jumps to it hot as a springald -
After a brief prayer is said.
Come to me, Grace, and I will take
You close into my wicked hands,
And when you come, make no mistake,
I'll disgrace you at both ends.
We'll grace all long throughout the night
And as the morning star looks in
And blanches at the state we're in -
We'll grace again to be polite.
For Marriage is a state of grace.
So many mutual sacrifices
Infallibly induce a peace
Past understanding or high prices.
So many forgivenesses for so many
Double crossings or double dealings -
I know that the married cannot have any
But the most unselfish feelings.
But the wise Church, contemplating
The unnatural demands
That marriage and the art of mating
Make on egoists, commands
We recognise as sacramental
A union otherwise destined
To break in every anarchic wind
Broken by the temperamental.
Off the Tarpeian, for high treason,
Tied in a bag with a snake and a cock,
The traitor trod the Roman rock.
But in the bag, for a better reason,
The married lovers, cock and snake,
Lie on a Mount of Venus. Traitor
Each to each, fake kissing fake,
So punished by a betrayed creator.
'The willing union of two lives.'
This is, the Lords of Justice tell us,
The purpose of the connubial knot.
But I can think of only one
Function that at best contrives
To join the jealous with the jealous,
And what this function joins is not
Lives, but the erogenous zone.
I see the young bride move among
The nine-month trophies of her pride,
And though she is not really young
And only virtually a bride,
She knows her beauties now belong
With every other treasure of her
Past and future, to her lover:
But her babies work out wrong.
I see the bridegroom in his splendour
Rolling like an unbridalled stallion,
Handsome, powerful and tender,
And passionate as an Italian -
And nothing I could say would lend a
Shock of more surprise and pride
Than if I said that this rapscallion
Was necking with his legal bride.
I knew a beautiful courtesan
Who, after service, would unbosom
He prettier memories, like blossom,
At the feet of the weary man:
'I'm such a sensitive protoplasm,'
She whispered, when I was not there,
'That I experience an orgasm
If I t o u c h a millionaire.'
Lying with, about, upon,
Everything and everyone,
Every happy little wife
Miscegenates once in alife,
And every pardonable groom
Needs, sometimes, a change of womb,
Because, although damnation may be,
Society needs every baby.
It takes a sacrament to keep
Any man and woman together:
Birds of a forgivable feather
Always flock and buck together:
And in our forgivable sleep
What birdwatcher will know whether
God Almighty sees we keep
Religiously to one another?
I have often wondered what method
Governed the heavenly mind when
It made as audience to God
The sycophant, the seaman sod,
The solipsist - in short, men.
Even the circus stepping mare
Lifts her nose into the air
In the presence of this paragon.
For half a dozen simple years
We lived happily, so to speak,
On twenty-seven shillings a week;
And, when worried and in tears,
My mercenary wife complained
That we could not afford our marriage,
'It's twice as much,' I explained,
'As MacNeice pays for his garage.'
I entertained the Marxian whore -
I am concerned with economics,
And naturally felt that more
Thought should be given to our stomachs.
But when I let my fancy dwell
On anything below the heart,
I found my thoughts, and hands as well,
Resting upon some private part.
I sat one morning on the can
That served us for a lavatory
Composing some laudatory
Verses on the state of man:
My wife called from the kitchen dresser:
'There's someone here from Japan.
He wants you out there. As Professor.
Oh, yes. The War just began.'
So Providence engineered her
And the crown of the objector
Was snatched from me. In wars
The conscientious protester
Preserves, as worlds sink to force,
The dignified particular.
Particularly one, of course.
'The hackneyed rollcall of chronology' -
Thus autobiography to de Quincey.
And I can understand it, since he
Lived like a footnote to philology.
But the archangelic enumeration
Of unpredictable hejiras -
These, with a little exaggeration,
I can adduce for my admirerers.
And so, when I saw you, nightmare island,
Fade into the autumnal night,
I felt the tears rise up for my land,
But somehow these tears were not quite
As sick as when my belly laughed
Remembering England had given me
The unconditional liberty
To do a job for which I starved.
Almighty God, by whose ill will
I was created with a conscience;
By whose merciful malevolence
I shall be sustained until
My afflictions fulfil
His victories; by whose dispensation
Whatever I have had of sense
Has obfuscated my salvation -
Good God, grant that, in reviewing
My past life, I may remember
Everything I did worth doing
Seemed rather wicked in pursuing:
Grant, Good God, I shall have remitted
Those earthly pleasures beyond number
I necessarily omitted,
Exhausted by the ones committed.
Good God, let me recollect
Your many mercies, tall and short,
The blousy blondes, the often necked,
And those whom I should not have thought
Given wisely to me; nor let forget
My grateful memory the odd
Consolers, too frequently brunette,
Who charged me for your mercies, God.
Good God, let me so recall
My grave omissions and commissions
That I may repent them all,
- The places, faces and positions;
Together with the few additions
A feeble future may instal.
Good God, only mathematicians
Consider Love an ordinal.
Good God, so wisely you provided
The loving heart I suffer with,
That I am constantly divided
By a deep love for all beneath
Me. Every man knows well
He rides his own whores down to hell,
But, good God, every knackered horse
Was, originally, yours.
Good God, receive my thanksgiving
For all the wonders I have seen
(And all the blunders in between)
In my thirty odd years of living.
I have seen the morning rise
And I have seen the evening set -
Anything different would surprise
Me even more profoundly yet.
Good God, receive my gratitude
For favours undeserved: accept
This truly heartfelt platitude:
You gave me too much latitude
And so I hanged myself. I kept
Your mercy, Good God, in a box
But out at midnight Justice crept
And axed me with a paradox.
O loving kindness of the knife
That cuts the proud flesh from the rotten
Ego and cuts the rotten life
Out of the rotten bone! No, not an
Ounce of sparrow is forgotten
As that butchering surgeon cuts
And rummages among my guts
To succour what was misbegotten.
I confess, my God, this lonely
Derelict of a night, when I
And not the conscious I only
Feel all the responsibility -
(But the simple and final fact
That we are better than we act,
For this fortunate windfall
We are not responsible at all) -
I confess, my God, that in
The hotbed of the monkey sin
I saw you through a guilt of hair
Standing lonely as a mourner
Silent in the bedroom corner
Knowing you need not be there:
I saw the genetic man had torn
A face away from your despair.
I confess, my God, my Good,
I have not wholly understood
The nature of our holiness:
The striking snake errs even less
Not questioning; the physicist
Not asking why all things exist
Serves better than those who advance a
Question to which life's the answer.
But, O my God, the human purpose
If at all I can perceive
A purpose in the life I live,
Is to hide in the glass horse
Of our doubt until the pity
Of heaven opens up a city
Of absolute belief to us,
Because our silence is hideous
And our doubt more miserable
Than certainty of the worst would be.
Like infinity pitiable
Ghosts who do not even know
They waver between reality
And unreality, we go
About our lives and cannot see
Even why we suffer so.
I know only that the heart
Doubting every real thing else
Does not doubt the voice that tells
Us that we suffer. The hard part
At the dead centre of the soul
Is an age of frozen grief
No vernal equinox of relief
Can mitigate, and no love console.
Then, O my God, by the hand
This star-wandering grief takes
The world that does not understand
Its own miseries and mistakes
And leads it home. Not yet, but later
To lean an expiated head
On the shoulder of a creator
Who knows where all troubles lead.
I looked into my heart to write.
In that red sepulchre of lies
I saw that all man cherishes
Goes proud, rots and perishes
Till through that red room pitiless night
Trails only knife-tongued memories
To whose rags cling, shrieking, bright
Unborn and aborted glories.
And vinegar the mirages
That, moaning they were possible
Charge me with the unholy No.
The unaccomplished issue rages
Round the ringed heart like a bull
Bellowing for birth. But even so
Remorselessly the clock builds ages
Over its lifeless embryo.
Ruined empire of dissipated time,
Perverted aim, abused desire,
The monstrous amoeba cannot aspire
But sinks down into the cold slime
Of Eden as Ego. It is enough
To sink back in the primal mud
Of the first person. For what could
Equal the paradise of Self Love?
The necessary angel is
The lie. Behind, us, all tongue splayed,
The lie triumphant and tremendous
Shields us from what we are afraid
Of seeing when we turn - the Abyss
Giving back a face of small
Twisted fear - and this is all,
To conquer the lie, that we possess.
Come, corybantic self-delusion,
And whisper such deceptions to
Me now that I will not care who
Or what you are, save palliation
Of the question marked heart. Let rest
The harp and horror horned head upon
That green regenerative breast
By whose great law we still live on.
Now from my window looking down
I see the lives of those for whom
My love has still a little room
Go suffering by. I see my own
Stopped, like a stair carpet, at this story
Not worth the telling. O memory
Let the gilded images of joys known
Return, and be consolatory!
Bitter and broken as the morning
Valentine climbs the glaciered sky
With a spike in his foot. The lover's warning
Blazes a sunrise on our misery:
Look down, look down, and see our grey
And loveless rendezvous, Valentine:
Fold, then, in grief and cast away
The love that is not yours or mine.
Of this day of the innocent
And happy lovers, let me praise
The grotesque bestiary of those
Who love too much. Monsters invent
Monster, like babies gypsies raise
In odd bottles for freak shows -
Those love too deeply for the skin.
Whose bottle are you monster in?
The grotesque bestiary where
Coiled the pythoness of sighs,
To keep a beast within her there
Crushes him in her clutch of vice
Till, misshapen to her passion, dead,
The lion of the heart survives
By suffering kisses into knives
And a spiked pit into a bed.
Stand in your sad and golden haired
Accusation about me now,
My sweet seven misled into life.
Oh had the hot headed seaman spared
Those breast-baring ova on their bough,
There'd been no aviary of my grief,
No sweet seven standing up in sorrow
Uttering songs of joy declared
Of joy declared, as bird extol
The principle of natural pleasure
Not knowing why. Declare to all
Who disbelieve it, that delight
Naturally inhabits the soul.
I look down at you to assure
My sense of wrong: but you declare
Whatever multiplies is right.
I looked into my heart to write.
But when I saw that cesspit twisted
With the disgusting laws that live
In royal domination under
The surface of our love, that writhe
Among our prizes, they attested
The putrefaction of our love
Spoils the spawner of its grandeur.
Today, the twenty-sixth of February,
I, halfway to the minute through
The only life I want to know,
Intend to end this rather dreary
Joke of an autobiography.
Thirty-five years is quite enough
Of one's own company. I grow
A bit sick of the terrestial stuff.
And the celestial nonsense. Swill
Guzzle and copulate and guzzle
And copulate and swill until
You break up like a jigsaw puzzle
Shattered with smiles. The idiotic
Beatitude of the sow in summer
Conceals a gibbering neurotic
Sowing hot oats to get warmer.
Look on your handwork, Adam, now
As I on mine, and do not weep.
The detritus is us. But how
Could you and I ever hope to keep
That glittering sibyl bright who first
Confided in us, perfect, once,
The difference between the best and the worst?
That vision is our innocence.
But we shall step into our grave
Not utterly divested of
The innocence our nativity
Embodies a god in. O bear,
Inheritors, all that you have,
The sense of good, with much care
Through the dirty street of life
And the gutter of our indignity.
I sense the trembling in my hand
Of that which will not ever lower
Its bright and pineal eye and wing
To any irony, nor surrender
The dominion of my understanding
To that Apollyonic power
Which, like the midnight whispering
Sun, surrounds us with dark splendour.
Enisled and visionary, mad
Alive, in the catacomb of the heart,
O lonely diviner, lovely diviner, impart
The knowledge of the good and the bad
To us in our need. Emblazon
Our instincts upon your illumination
So that the rot's revealed, and the reason
Shown crucified upon our desolation.
You, all whom I coldly took
And hid my head and horns among,
Shall go caterwauling down with me
Like a frenzy of chained doves. For, look!
We wailing ride down eternity
Tongue-tied together. We belong
To those with whom we shook the suck
And dared an antichrist to be.
Get rags, get rags, all angels, all
Laws, all principles, all deities,
Get rags, come down and suffocate
The orphan in its flaming cradle,
Snuff the game and the candle, for our state
- Insufferable among mysteries -
Makes the worms weep. Abate, abate
Your justice. Execute us with mercies!
Solomon on the Vanity of the World, A Poem. In Three Books. - Knowledge. Book I.
The bewailing of man's miseries hath been elegantly and copiously set forth by many, in the writings as well of philosophers as divines; and it is both a pleasant and a profitable contemplation.
Lord Bacon's Advancement of Learning.
Solomon, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals and man; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situation of the habitable earth: proceeds to examine the system of the visible heaven: doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds; inquires into the nature of spirits and angels, and wishes to be more fully informed as to the attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the Rabbins and Doctors; blames his own curiosity: and concludes that, as to human science, All Is Vanity.
Ye sons of men with just regard attend,
Observe the preacher, and believe the friend,
Whose serious muse inspires him to explain
That all we act and all we think is vain:
That in this pilgrimage of seventy years,
O'er rocks of perils and through vales of tears
Destined to march, our doubtful steps we tend,
Tired with the toil, yet fearful of its end:
That from the womb we take our fatal shares
Of follies, passions, labours, tumults, cares;
And at approach of death shall only know
The truths which from these pensive numbers flow,
That we pursue false joy and suffer real wo.
Happiness! object of that waking dream
Which we call life, mistaking; fugitive theme
Of my pursuing verse: ideal shade,
Notional good; by fancy only made,
And by tradition nursed; fallacious fire,
Whose dancing beams mislead our fond desire;
Cause of our care, and error of our mind:
Oh! hadst thou ever been by Heaven design'd
To Adam, and his mortal race, the boon
Entire had been reserved for Solomon;
On me the partial lot had been bestow'd,
And in my cup the golden draught had flow'd.
But, O! ere yet original man was made,
Ere the foundations of this earth were laid,
It was opponent to our search ordain'd,
That joy still sought should never be attain'd:
This sad experience cites me to reveal,
And what I dictate is from what I feel.
Born, as I as, great David's favourite son,
Dear to my people on the Hebrew throne,
Sublime my court, with Ophir's treasures bless'd.
My name extended to the farthest east,
My body clothed with every outward grace,
Strength in my limbs, and beauty in my face,
My shining thought with fruitful notions crown'd,
Quick my invention, and my judgement sound:
Arise, (I communed with myself) arise,
Think to be happy; to be great be wise;
Content of spirit must from science flow,
For 'tis a godlike attribute to know.
I said, and sent my edict through the land;
Around my throne the letter'd Rabbins stand,
Historic leaves revolve, long volumes spread,
The old discoursing as the younger read!
Attend I heard, proposed my doubts, and said:
The vegetable world, each plant and tree,
Its seed, its name, its nature, its degree,
I am allow'd, as Fame reports, to know,
From the fair cedar on the craggy brow
Of Lebanon nodding supremely tall,
To creeping moss, and hyssop on the wall;
Yet just and conscious to myself, I find
A thousand doubts oppose the searching mind.
I know not why the beach delights the glade,
With boughs extended and a rounder shade,
Whilst towering firs in conic forms arise,
And with a pointed spear divide the skies:
Nor why again the changing oak should shell
The yearly honour of his stately head,
Whilst the distinguish'd yew is ever seen
Unchanged his branch, and permanent his green;
Wanting the sun why does the caltha fade?
Why does the cypress flourish in the shade?
The fig and date, why love they to remain
In middle station and an even plain,
While in the lower marsh the gourd is found,
And while the hill with olive shade is crown'd?
Why does one climate and one soil endue
The blushing poppy with a crimson hue,
Yet leave the lily pale, and tinge the violet blue?
Why does the fond carnation love to shoot
A various colour from one parent root,
While the fantastic tulip strives to break
In twofold beauty and a parted streak?
The twining jasmine and the blushing rose
With lavish grace their morning scents disclose;
The smelling tuberose and jonquil declare,
The stronger impulse of an evening air.
Whence has the tree (resolve me) or the flower
A various instinct or a different power?
Why should one earth, one clime, one stream, one breath,
Raise this to strength, and sicken that to death?
Whence does it happen that the plant, which well
We name the sensitive, should move and feel?
Whence know her leaves to answer her command,
And with quick horror fly the neighbouring hand?
Along the sunny bank or watery mead
Ten thousand stalks their various blossoms spread;
Peaceful and lowly, in their native soil,
They neither know to spin nor care to toil,
Yet with confess'd magnificence deride
Our vile attire and impotence of pride.
The cowslip smiles in brighter yellow dress'd
Than that which veils the nubile virgin's breast;
A fairer red stands blushing in the rose
Than that which on the bridegroom's vestment flows.
Take but the humblest lily of the field,
And if our pride will to our reason yield,
It must by sure comparison be shown,
That on the regal seat great David's son,
Array'd in all his robes and types of power,
Shines with less glory than that simple flower.
Of fishes next, my friends, I would inquire:
How the mute race engender or respire,
From the small fry that glide on Jordan's stream
Unmark'd a multitude without a name,
To that leviathan, who o'er the seas
Immense rolls onward his impetuous ways,
And mocks the wind, and in the tempest plays?
How they in warlike bands march greatly forth,
To southern climes directing their career,
Their station changing with th' inverted year?
How all with careful knowledge are endued,
To choose their proper bed, and wave, and food;
To guard their spawn, and educate their brood?
Of birds, how each, according to her kind,
Proper materials for her nest can find,
And build a frame which deepest thought in man
Would or amend or imitate in vain?
How in small flights they know to try their young,
And teach the callow child her parent's song?
Why these frequent the plain, and those the wood?
Why every land has her specific brood?
Where the tall crane or winding swallow goes,
Fearful of gathering winds and falling snows;
If into rocks or hollow trees they creep,
In temporary death confined to sleep,
Or, conscious of the coming evil, fly
To milder regions and a southern sky?
Of beasts and creeping insects shall we trace;
The wondrous nature and the various race;
Or wild or tame, or friend to man or foe,
Of us what they or what of them we know?
Tell me, ye Studious! who pretend to see
Far into Nature's bosom, whence the bee
Was first inform'd her venturous flight to steer
Through trackless paths and an abyss of air?
Whence she avoids the slimy marsh, and knows
The fertile hills, where sweeter herbage grows,
And honey-making flowers their opening buds disclose?
How, from the thicken'd mist and setting sun
Finds she the labour of her day is done?
Who taught her against the winds and rains to strive,
To bring her burden to the certain hive,
And through the liquid fields again to pass
Duteous, and hearkening to the sounding brass?
And, O thou Sluggard! tell me why the ant,
'Midst summer's plenty, thinks of winter's want,
By constant journeys careful to prepare
Her stores, and bringing home the corny ear,
By what instruction does she bite the grain,
Lest hid in earth, and taking root again,
It mighty elude the foresight of her care?
Distinct in either insect's deed appear
The marks of thought, contrivance, hope, and fear.
Fix thy corporeal and internal eye
On the young gnat or new-engender'd fly,
Or the vile worm, that yesterday began
To crawl, thy fellow-creatures, abject man!
Like thee they breathe, they move, they taste, they see,
They show their passions by their acts like thee;
Darting their stings, they previously declare
Design'd revenge, and fierce intent of war:
Laying their eggs, they evidently prove
The genial power and full effect of love.
Each then has organs to digest his his food,
One to beget, and one receive the brood;
Has limbs and sinews, blood, and heart, and brain,
Life and her proper functions to sustain,
Though the whole fabric smaller than a grain.
What more can our penurious reason grant
To the large whale or castled elephant?
To those enormous terrors of the Nile,
The crested snake and long-tail'd crocodile,
Than that all differ but in shape and name,
Each destined to a less or larger frame?
For potent Nature loves a various act,
Prone to enlarge, or studious to contract;
Now forms her work too small, now too immense,
And scorns the measures of our feeble sense.
The object, spread too far, or raised too high,
Denies its real image to the eye;
Too little, it eludes the dazzled sight,
Becomes mix'd blackness or unparted light.
Water and air the varied form confound;
The straight looks crooked, and the square grows round.
Thus while with fruitless hope and weary pain
We seek great nature's power, but seek in vain,
Safe sits the goddess in her dark retreat,
Around her myriads of ideas wait,
And endless shapes, which the mysterious queen
Can take or quit, can alter or retain,
As from our lost pursuit she wills to hide
Her close decrees, and chasten human pride.
Untamed and fierce the tiger still remains:
He tires his life in biting of his chains:
For the kind gifts of water and of food
Ungrateful, and returning ill for good,
He seeks his keeper's flesh and thirsts his blood:
While the strong camel and the generous horse,
Restrain'd and awed by man's inferior force,
Do to the rider's will their rage submit,
And answer to the spur, and own the bit;
Stretch their glad mouths to meet the feeder's hand,
Pleased with his weight, and proud of his command.
Again: the lonely fox roams far abroad,
On secret rapine bent and midnight fraud;
Now haunts the cliff, now traverses the lawn,
And flies the hated neighbourhood of man;
While the kind spaniel and the faithful hound,
Likest that fox in shape and species found,
Refuses through these cliffs and lawns to roam,
Pursues the noted path, and covets home,
Does with kind joy domestic faces meet,
Takes what the glutted child denies to eat,
And dying, licks his long-loved master's feet.
By what immediate cause they are inclined,
In many acts, 'tis hard I own to find.
I see in others, or I think I see,
That strict their principles and ours agree.
Evil, like us, they shun, and covet good,
Abhor the poison, and receive the food:
Like us they love or hate; like us they know
To joy the friend, or grapple with the foe,
With seeming thought their action they intend,
And use the means proportion'd to the end.
Then vainly the philosopher avers
That reason guides our deed and instinct theirs.
How can we justly different causes frame,
When the effects entirely are the same?
Instinct and reason how can we divide?
'Tis the fool's ignorance and the pedant's pride.
With the same folly sure man vaunts his sway
If the brute beast refuses to obey.
For, tell me, when the empty boaster's word
Proclaims himself the universal lord,
Does he not tremble lest the lion's paw
Should join his plea against the fancy'd law?
Would not the learned coward leave the chair,
If in the schools or porches should appear
The fierce hyaena or the foaming bear?
The combatant too late the field declines
When now the sword is girded to his loins.
When the swift vessel flies before the wind,
Too late the sailor views the land behind:
And 'tis too late now back again to bring
Inquiry, raised and towering on the wing;
Forward she strives, averse to be withheld
From nobler objects and a larger field.
Consider with me his ethereal space,
Yielding to earth and sea the middle place:
Anxious I ask ye how the pensile ball
Should never strive to rise nor never fear to fall?
When I reflect how the revolving sun
Does round our globe his crooked journeys run,
I doubt of many lands if they contain
Or herd or beast, or colonies of man:
If any nation pass their destined days
Beneath the neighbouring sun's directer rays;
If any suffer on the polar coast
The rage of Arctos and eternal frost.
May not the pleasure of Omnipotence
To each of these some secret good dispense?
Those who amidst the torrid regions live
May they not gales unknown to us receive?
See daily showers rejoice the thirsty earth,
And bless the glowery buds' succeeding birth?
May they not pity us condemn'd to bear
The various heaven of an obliquer sphere,
While, by fix'd laws, and with a just return,
They feel twelve hours that shade for twelve that burn,
And praise the neighbouring sun whose constant flame
Enlightens them with seasons still the same?
And may not those whose distant lot is cast
North, beyond Tartary's extended waste,
Where through the plains of one continual day
Six shining months pursue their even way,
And six succeeding urge their dusky flight,
Obscured with vapours, and o'erwhelm'd in night.
May not, I ask, the natives of these climes
(As annals may inform succeeding times)
To our quotidian change of heaven prefer
Their own vicissitude and equal share
Of day and night disparted through the year?
May they not scorn our sun's repeated race,
To narrow bounds prescribed and little space,
Hastening from morn, and headlong driven from noon,
Half of our daily toil yet scarcely done?
May they not justly to our climes upbraid
Shortness of night and penury of shade,
That ere our wearied limbs are justly bless'd
With wholesome sleep and necessary rest,
Another sun demands return of care,
The remnant toil of yesterday to bear?
Whilst, when the solar beams salute their sight,
Bold and secure in half a year of light,
Uninterrupted voyages they take
To the remotest wood and farthest lake,
Manage the fishing, and pursue the course
With more extended nerves and more continued force;
And when declining day forsakes their sky,
When gathering clouds speak gloomy winter nigh,
With plenty for the coming season bless'd,
Six solid months (an age) they live, released
From all the labour, process, clamour, wo,
Which our sad scenes of daily action know;
They light the shining lamps, prepare the feast,
And with full mirth receive the welcome guest,
Or tell their tender loves (the only care
Which now they suffer) to the listening fair,
And raised in pleasure, or reposed in ease,
(Grateful alternates of substantial peace)
They bless the long nocturnal influence shed
On the crown'd goblet and the genial bed.
In foreign isles which our discoverers find,
Far from this length of continent disjoin'd,
The rugged bear's or spotted lynx's brood
Frighten the valleys and infest the wood,
The hungry crocodile and hissing snake
Lurk in the troubled stream and fenny brake;
And man untaught, and ravenous as the beast,
Does valley, wood, and brake, and stream infest;
Derived these men and animals their birth
From trunk of oak or pregnant womb of earth?
Whence then the old belief, that all began
In Eden's shade and one created man?
Or grant this progeny was wafted o'er
By coasting boats from next adjacent shore,
Would those, from whom we will suppose they spring,
Slaughter to harmless lands and poison bring?
Would they on board or bears or lynxes take,
Fed the she-adder and the brooding snake?
Or could they think the new-discover'd isle
Pleased to receive a pregnant crocodile?
And since the savage lineage we must trace
From Noah saved and his distinguish'd race,
How should their fathers happen to forget
The arts which Noah taught, the rules he set,
To sow the glebe, to plant the generous vine,
And load with grateful flames the holy shrine?
While the great sire's unhappy sons are found,
Unpress'd their vintage, and untill'd their ground,
Straggling o'er dale and hill in quest of food,
And rude of arts, of virtue, and of God.
How shall we next o'er earth and seas pursue
The varied forms of every thing we view;
That all is changed, though all is still the same
Fluid the parts, yet durable the frame?
Of those materials which have been confess'd
The pristine springs and parents of the rest,
Each becomes other. Water stopp'd gives birth
To grass and plants, and thickens into earth;
Diffused it rises in a higher sphere,
Dilates its drops, and softens into air:
Those finer parts of air again aspire,
Move into warmth, and brighten into fire;
That fire once more, by thicker air o'ercome,
And downward forced in earth's capacious womb,
Alters its particles, is fire no more,
But lies resplendent dust and shining ore;
Or, running through the mighty mother's veins,
Changes its shape, puts off its old remains;
With watery parts its lessen'd force divides,
Flows into waves, and rises into tides.
Disparted streams shall from their channels fly,
And deep surcharged by sandy mountains lie
Obscurely sepulchred. By beating rain
And furious wind, down to the distant plain
The hill that hides his head above the skies
Shall fall: the plain by slow degrees shall rise
Higher than erst had stood the summit hill;
For Time must Nature's great behest fulfil.
Thus by a length of years and change of fate
All things are light or heavy, small or great;
Thus Jordan's waves shall future clouds appear,
And Egypt's pyramids refine to air;
Thus later age shall ask for Pison's flood,
And travellers inquire where Babel stood.
Now, where we see these changes often fall,
Sedate we pass them by as natural;
Where to our eye more rarely they appear,
The pompous name of prodigy they bear:
Let active thought these close meanders trace,
Let human wit their dubious boundaries place.
Are all things miracle, or nothing such?
And prove we not too little or too much?
For that a branch cut off, a wither'd rod,
Should at a word pronounced revive and bud,
Is this more strange than that the mountain's brow,
Stripp'd by December's frost, and white with snow,
Should push in spring ten thousand thousand buds,
And boast returning leaves and blooming woods?
That each successive night from opening heaven
The food of angels should to man be given?
Is this more strange than that with common bread
Our fainting bodies every day are fed?
Than that each grain and seed consumed in earth,
Raises its store, and multiplies its birth!
And from the handful which the tiller sows
The labour'd fields rejoice, and future harvest flows?
Then from whate'er we can to sense produce
Common and plain, or wondrous and abstruse,
From Nature's constant or eccentric laws,
The thoughtful soul this general influence draws,
That an effect must pre-suppose a cause;
And while she does her upward flight sustain,
Touching each link of the continued chain,
At length she is obliged and forced to see
A first, a source, a life, a Deity;
What has for ever been, and must for ever be.
This great existence thus by reason found,
Bless'd by all power, with all perfection crown'd,
How can we bind or limit his decree
By what our ear has heard, or eye may see?
Say then is all in heaps of water lost,
Beyond the islands and the midland coast?
Or has that God who gave our world its birth
Severed those waters by some other earth,
Countries by future ploughshares to be torn,
And cities raised by nations yet unborn!
Ere the progressive course of restless age
Performs three thousand times its annual stage,
May not our power and learning be suppress'd,
And arts and empire learn to travel west?
Where, by the strength of this idea charm'd,
Lighten'd with glory, and with rapture warm'd,
Ascends my soul! what sees she white and great
Amidst subjected seas? An isle, the seat
Of power and plenty, her imperial throne,
For justice and for mercy sought and known;
Virtues sublime, great attributes of heaven,
From thence to this distinguish'd nation given:
Yet farther west the western isle extends
Her happy fame; her armed fleets she sends
To climates folded yet from human eye,
And lands which we imagine wave and sky;
From pole to pole she hears her acts resound,
And rules an empire by no ocean bound;
Knows her ships anchor'd, and her sails unfurl'd,
In other Indies and a second world.
Long shall Britannia (that must be her name)
Be first in conquest, and preside in fame:
Long shall her favour'd monarchy engage
The teeth of Envy and the force of Age;
Revered and happy, she shall long remain
Of human things least changeable, least vain;
Yet all must with the general doom comply,
And this great glorious power though last must die.
Now let us leave this earth, and lift our eye
To the large convex of yon azure sky:
Behold it like an ample curtain spread,
Now streak'd and glowing with the morning red;
Anon at noon in flaming yellow bright,
And choosing sable for the peaceful night.
Ask Reason now whence light and shade were given,
And whence this great variety of heaven?
Reason our guide, what can she more reply,
Than that the sun illuminates the sky?
Than that night rises from his absent ray,
And his returning lustre kindles day?
But we expect the morning red in vain,
'Tis hid in vapours or obscured in rain;
The noontide yellow we in vain require,
'Tis black in storm, or red in lightning fire.
Pitchy and dark the night sometimes appears,
Friend to our wo, and parent of our fears;
Our joy and wonder sometimes she excites,
With stars unnumber'd and eternal lights.
Send forth, ye wise, send forth your labouring thought,
Let it return, with empty notions fraught
Of airy columns every moment broke,
Of circling whirlpools, and of spheres of smoke;
Yet this solution but once more affords
New change of terms and scaffolding of words;
In other garb my question I receive,
And take the doubt the very same I gave.
Lo! as a giant strong, the lusty sun
Multiplied rounds in one great round does run,
Two-fold his course, yet constant his career,
Changing the day, and finishing the year:
Again, when his descending orb retires,
And earth perceives the absence of his fires,
The moon affords us her alternate ray,
And with kind beams distributes fainter day,
Yet keeps the stages of her monthly race.
Various her beams, and changeable her face;
Each planet shining in his proper sphere
Does with just speed his radiant voyage steer;
Each sees his lamp with different lustre crown'd;
Each knows his course with different periods bound,
And in his passage through the liquid space,
Nor hastens nor retards his neighbour's race.
Now shine these planets with substantial rays?
Does innate lustre gild their measured days?
Or do they (as your schemes I think have shown)
Dart furtive beams and glory not their own,
All servants to that source of light, the sun?
Again: I see ten thousand thousand stars,
Nor cast in lines, in circles, nor in squares,
(Poor rules with which our bounded mind is fill'd
When we would plant, or cultivate, or build)
But shining with such vast, such various light,
As speaks the hand that form'd them infinite.
How mean the order and perfection sought
In the best product of the human thought,
Compared to the great harmony that reigns
In what the Spirit of the world ordains!
Now if the sun to earth transmits his ray,
Yet does not scorch us with too fierce a day,
How small a portion of his power is given
To orbs more distant and remoter heaven?
And of those stars which our imperfect eye
Has doom'd and fix'd to one eternal sky,
Each by native stock of honour great,
Itself a sun and with transmissive light
Enlivens worlds denied to human sight;
Around the circles of their ancient skies
New moons may grow or wane, may set or rise,
And other stars may to those suns be earths,
Give their own elements their proper births,
Divide their climes, or elevate their pole,
See their lands flourish, and their oceans roll;
Yet these great orbs, thus radically bright,
Primitive founts, and origins of light,
May each to other (as their different sphere
Makes or their distance or their height appear
Be seen a nobler or inferior star,
Myriads of earths, and moons, and suns may lie
Unmeasured, and unknown by human eye.
In vain we measure this amazing sphere,
And find and fix its centre here or there,
Whilst its circumference, scorning to be brought
E'en into fancied space, illudes our vanquish'd thought.
Where then are all the radiant monsters driven
With which your guesses fill'd the frighten'd heaven?
Where will their fictious images remain?
In paper schemes, and the Chaldean's brain?
This problem yet, this offspring of a guess,
Let us for once a child of Truth confess;
That these fair stars, these objects of delight
And terror to our searching dazzled sight,
Are worlds immense, unnumber'd, infinite;
But do these worlds display their beams, or guide
Their orbs, to serve thy use, to please thy pride?
Thyself but dust, thy stature but a span,
A moment thy duration, foolish man?
As well may the minutest emmet say
That Caucasus was raised to pave his way;
That snail, that Lebanon's extended wood
Was destined only for his walk and food;
The vilest cockle gaping on the coast,
That rounds the ample seas, as well may boast
The craggy rock projects above the sky,
That he in safety at its foot may lie;
And the whole ocean's confluent waters swell,
Only to quench his thirst, or move and blanch his shell,
A higher flight the venturous goddess tries,
Leaving material worlds and local skies;
Inquires what are the beings, where the space,
That form'd and held the angels' ancient race?
For rebel Lucifer with Michael fought,
(I offer only what Tradition taught)
Embattled cherub against cherub rose,
Did shield to shield and power to power oppose;
Heaven rung with triumph, hell was fill'd with woes.
What were these forms, of which your volumes tell
How some fought great, and others recreant fell?
These bound to bear an everlasting load,
Durance of chain, and banishment of God;
By fatal turns their wretched strength to tire,
To swim in sulphurous lakes, or land on solid fire;
While those, exalted to primeval light,
Excess of blessing, and supreme delight,
Only perceive some little pause of joys,
In those great moments when their god employs
Their ministry to pour his threaten'd hate
On the proud king or the rebellious state;
Or to reverse Jehovah's high command,
And speak the thunder falling from his hand,
When to his duty the proud king returns,
And the rebellious state in ashes mourns?
How can good angels be in heaven confined,
Or view that Presence which no space can bind?
Is God above, beneath, or yon', or here?
He who made all, is he not every where?
Oh! how can wicked angels find a night
So dark to hide them from that piercing light
Which form'd the eye, and gave the power of sight?
What mean I now of angel, when I near
Firm body, spirit pure, or fluid air?
Spirits, to action spiritual confined,
Friends to our thought, and kindred to our mind,
Should only act and prompt us from within,
Nor by external eye be ever seen.
Was it not therefore to our fathers known
That these had appetite, and limb, and bone?
Else how could Abram wash their wearied feet,
Or Sarah please their taste with savoury meat?
Whence should they fear? or why did Lot engage
To save their bodies from abusive rage?
And how could Jacob, in a real fight,
Feel or resist the wrestling angel's might?
How could a form its strength with matter try?
Or how a spirit touch a mortal's thigh?
Now are they air condensed, or gather'd rays?
How guide they then our prayer or keep our ways,
By stronger blasts still subject to be toss'd,
By tempests scatter'd, and in whirlwinds lost?
Have they again (as sacred song proclaims)
Substances real, and existing frames?
How comes it, since with them we jointly share
The great effect of one Creator's care,
That whilst our bodies sicken and decay,
Theirs are for ever healthy, young, and gay?
Why, whilst we struggle in this vale beneath
With want and sorrow, with disease and death,
Do they more bless'd perpetual life employ
On songs of pleasure and in scenes of joy?
Now, when my mind has all this world survey'd,
And found that nothing by itself was made;
When thought has raised itself by just degrees,
From valleys crown'd with flowers, and hills with trees,
From smoking minerals, and from rising streams,
From fattening Nilus, or victorious Thames;
From all the living that four-footed move
Along the shore, the meadow, or the grove;
From all that can with fins or feathers fly
Through the aerial or the watery sky;
From the poor reptile with a reasoning soul,
That miserable master of the whole;
From this great object of the body's eye,
This fair half-round, this ample azure sky,
Terribly large, and wonderfully bright,
With stars unnumber'd, and unmeasured light:
From essences unseen, celestial names,
Enlightening spirits, and ministerial flames,
Angels, Dominions, Potentates, and Thrones,
All that in each decree the name of creature owns:
Lift we our reason to that sovereign cause
Who bless'd the whole with life and bounded it with laws;
Who forth from nothing call'd this comely frame,
His will and act, his word and work the same;
To whom a thousand years are but a day;
Who bade the Light her genial beams display,
And set the moon, and taught the sun his way;
Who waking Time, his creature, from the source
Primeval, order'd his predestined course,
Himself, as in the hollow of his hand,
Holding obedient to his high command,
The deep abyss, the long continued store,
Where months, and days, and hours, and minutes, pour
Their floating parts, and thenceforth are no more:
This Alpha and Omega, First and Last,
Who, like the potter, in a mould has cast
The world's great frame, commanding it to be
Such as the eyes of Sense and Reason see:
Yet if he wills may change or spoil the whole,
May take yon beauteous, mystic, starry roll,
And burn it like a useless parchment scroll;
May from its basis in one moment pour
This melted earth -
Like liquid metal, and like burning ore;
Who, sole in power, at the beginning said,
Let sea, and air, and earth, and heaven, be made,
And it was so - And when he shall ordain
In other sort, has but to speak again,
And they shall be no more: of this great theme,
This glorious, hallow'd, everlasting Name,
This God, I would discourse-
The learned Elders sat appall'd, amazed,
And each with mutual look on other gazed;
Nor speech they meditate, nor answer frame;
Too plain, alas! their silence spake their shame
Till one in whom an outward mien appear'd
And turn superior to the vulgar herd,
Began: That human learning's furthest reach
Was but to note the doctrines I could teach;
That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey,
For I in knowledge more than your power did sway,
And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclipsed, and Jesse's son excell'd.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word,
Foresaw my name by future age adored;
O live, said he, thou wisest of the wise;
As none has equall'd, none shall ever rise
Excelling thee -
Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery! thy malignant seeds
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffused o'er Virtue's gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.
And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud,
Echo'd the word: whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see.
My Prophets and my Sophists finish'd here
Their civil efforts of the verbal war:
Not so my Rabbins and Logicians yield;
Retiring, still they combat: from the field
Of open arms unwilling they depart,
And sculk behind the subterfuge of art.
To speak one thing mix'd dialects they join,
Divide the simple, and the plain define:
Fix fancied laws, and form imagined rules,
Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools,
Ill-ground maxims, by false gloss enlarged,
And captious science against reason charged.
O wretched impotence of human mind!
We, erring, still excuse for error find,
And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind.
Vain man! Since first the blushing sire essay'd
His folly with connected leaves to shade,
How does the crime of thy resembling race,
With like attempt, that pristine error trace?
Too plain thy nakedness of soul espied,
Why dost thou strive the conscious shame to hide,
By masks of eloquence and veils of pride?
With outward smiles their flattery I received,
Own'd my sick mind by their discourse relieved;
But bent, and inward to myself, again
Perplex'd, these matters I resolved in vain.
My search still tired, my labour still renew'd,
At length I Ignorance and Knowledge view'd
Impartial; both in equal balance laid,
Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy weigh'd.
Forced by reflective reason, I confess
That human science is uncertain guess.
Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air,
Vexing that spirit we intend to clear.
Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb?
Or who shall tell me what is space or time?
In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes
To what our Maker to their ken denies:
The searcher follows fast, the object faster flies.
The little which imperfectly we find
Seduces only the bewildered mind
To fruitless search of something yet behind.
Various discussions tear our heated brain:
Opinions often turn; still doubts remain;
And who indulges thought increases pain.
How narrow limits were to Wisdom given?
Earth she surveys; she thence would measure heaven:
Through mists obscure now wings her tedious way
Now wanders, dazzled with too bright a day,
And from the summit of a pathless coast
Sees infinite, and in that sight is lost.
Remember that the cursed desire to know,
Offspring of Adam, was thy source of wo;
Why wilt thou then renew the vain pursuit,
And rashly catch at the forbidden fruit?
With empty labour and eluded strife
Seeking by knowledge to attain to life,
For ever from that fatal tree debarr'd,
Which flaming swords and angry cherubs guard.
By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.
It ended, and the morrow brought the task.
Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him in
By shutting all too zealous for their sin:
Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.
But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!
He sickened as at breath of poison-flowers:
A languid humour stole among the hours,
And if their smiles encountered, he went mad,
And raged deep inward, till the light was brown
Before his vision, and the world, forgot,
Looked wicked as some old dull murder-spot.
A star with lurid beams, she seemed to crown
The pit of infamy: and then again
He fainted on his vengefulness, and strove
To ape the magnanimity of love,
And smote himself, a shuddering heap of pain.
This was the woman; what now of the man?
But pass him. If he comes beneath a heel,
He shall be crushed until he cannot feel,
Or, being callous, haply till he can.
But he is nothing:- nothing? Only mark
The rich light striking out from her on him!
Ha! what a sense it is when her eyes swim
Across the man she singles, leaving dark
All else! Lord God, who mad'st the thing so fair,
See that I am drawn to her even now!
It cannot be such harm on her cool brow
To put a kiss? Yet if I meet him there!
But she is mine! Ah, no! I know too well
I claim a star whose light is overcast:
I claim a phantom-woman in the Past.
The hour has struck, though I heard not the bell!
All other joys of life he strove to warm,
And magnify, and catch them to his lip:
But they had suffered shipwreck with the ship,
And gazed upon him sallow from the storm.
Or if Delusion came, 'twas but to show
The coming minute mock the one that went.
Cold as a mountain in its star-pitched tent,
Stood high Philosophy, less friend than foe:
Whom self-caged Passion, from its prison-bars,
Is always watching with a wondering hate.
Not till the fire is dying in the grate,
Look we for any kinship with the stars.
Oh, wisdom never comes when it is gold,
And the great price we pay for it full worth:
We have it only when we are half earth.
Little avails that coinage to the old!
A message from her set his brain aflame.
A world of household matters filled her mind,
Wherein he saw hypocrisy designed:
She treated him as something that is tame,
And but at other provocation bites.
Familiar was her shoulder in the glass,
Through that dark rain: yet it may come to pass
That a changed eye finds such familiar sights
More keenly tempting than new loveliness.
The 'What has been' a moment seemed his own:
The splendours, mysteries, dearer because known,
Nor less divine: Love's inmost sacredness
Called to him, 'Come!'-In his restraining start,
Eyes nurtured to be looked at scarce could see
A wave of the great waves of Destiny
Convulsed at a checked impulse of the heart.
It chanced his lips did meet her forehead cool.
She had no blush, but slanted down her eye.
Shamed nature, then, confesses love can die:
And most she punishes the tender fool
Who will believe what honours her the most!
Dead! is it dead? She has a pulse, and flow
Of tears, the price of blood-drops, as I know,
For whom the midnight sobs around Love's ghost,
Since then I heard her, and so will sob on.
The love is here; it has but changed its aim.
O bitter barren woman! what's the name?
The name, the name, the new name thou hast won?
Behold me striking the world's coward stroke!
That will I not do, though the sting is dire.
- Beneath the surface this, while by the fire
They sat, she laughing at a quiet joke.
She issues radiant from her dressing-room,
Like one prepared to scale an upper sphere:
- By stirring up a lower, much I fear!
How deftly that oiled barber lays his bloom!
That long-shanked dapper Cupid with frisked curls
Can make known women torturingly fair;
The gold-eyed serpent dwelling in rich hair
Awakes beneath his magic whisks and twirls.
His art can take the eyes from out my head,
Until I see with eyes of other men;
While deeper knowledge crouches in its den,
And sends a spark up:- is it true we are wed?
Yea! filthiness of body is most vile,
But faithlessness of heart I do hold worse.
The former, it were not so great a curse
To read on the steel-mirror of her smile.
Yet it was plain she struggled, and that salt
Of righteous feeling made her pitiful.
Poor twisting worm, so queenly beautiful!
Where came the cleft between us? whose the fault?
My tears are on thee, that have rarely dropped
As balm for any bitter wound of mine:
My breast will open for thee at a sign!
But, no: we are two reed-pipes, coarsely stopped:
The God once filled them with his mellow breath;
And they were music till he flung them down,
Used! used! Hear now the discord-loving clown
Puff his gross spirit in them, worse than death!
I do not know myself without thee more:
In this unholy battle I grow base:
If the same soul be under the same face,
Speak, and a taste of that old time restore!
He felt the wild beast in him betweenwhiles
So masterfully rude, that he would grieve
To see the helpless delicate thing receive
His guardianship through certain dark defiles.
Had he not teeth to rend, and hunger too?
But still he spared her. Once: 'Have you no fear?'
He said: 'twas dusk; she in his grasp; none near.
She laughed: 'No, surely; am I not with you?'
And uttering that soft starry 'you,' she leaned
Her gentle body near him, looking up;
And from her eyes, as from a poison-cup,
He drank until the flittering eyelids screened.
Devilish malignant witch! and oh, young beam
Of heaven's circle-glory! Here thy shape
To squeeze like an intoxicating grape -
I might, and yet thou goest safe, supreme.
But where began the change; and what's my crime?
The wretch condemned, who has not been arraigned,
Chafes at his sentence. Shall I, unsustained,
Drag on Love's nerveless body thro' all time?
I must have slept, since now I wake. Prepare,
You lovers, to know Love a thing of moods:
Not, like hard life, of laws. In Love's deep woods,
I dreamt of loyal Life:- the offence is there!
Love's jealous woods about the sun are curled;
At least, the sun far brighter there did beam. -
My crime is, that the puppet of a dream,
I plotted to be worthy of the world.
Oh, had I with my darling helped to mince
The facts of life, you still had seen me go
With hindward feather and with forward toe,
Her much-adored delightful Fairy Prince!
Out in the yellow meadows, where the bee
Hums by us with the honey of the Spring,
And showers of sweet notes from the larks on wing
Are dropping like a noon-dew, wander we.
Or is it now? or was it then? for now,
As then, the larks from running rings pour showers:
The golden foot of May is on the flowers,
And friendly shadows dance upon her brow.
What's this, when Nature swears there is no change
To challenge eyesight? Now, as then, the grace
Of heaven seems holding earth in its embrace.
Nor eyes, nor heart, has she to feel it strange?
Look, woman, in the West. There wilt thou see
An amber cradle near the sun's decline:
Within it, featured even in death divine,
Is lying a dead infant, slain by thee.
Not solely that the Future she destroys,
And the fair life which in the distance lies
For all men, beckoning out from dim rich skies:
Nor that the passing hour's supporting joys
Have lost the keen-edged flavour, which begat
Distinction in old times, and still should breed
Sweet Memory, and Hope,-earth's modest seed,
And heaven's high-prompting: not that the world is flat
Since that soft-luring creature I embraced
Among the children of Illusion went:
Methinks with all this loss I were content,
If the mad Past, on which my foot is based,
Were firm, or might be blotted: but the whole
Of life is mixed: the mocking Past will stay:
And if I drink oblivion of a day,
So shorten I the stature of my soul.
'I play for Seasons; not Eternities!'
Says Nature, laughing on her way. 'So must
All those whose stake is nothing more than dust!'
And lo, she wins, and of her harmonies
She is full sure! Upon her dying rose
She drops a look of fondness, and goes by,
Scarce any retrospection in her eye;
For she the laws of growth most deeply knows,
Whose hands bear, here, a seed-bag-there, an urn.
Pledged she herself to aught, 'twould mark her end!
This lesson of our only visible friend
Can we not teach our foolish hearts to learn?
Yes! yes!-but, oh, our human rose is fair
Surpassingly! Lose calmly Love's great bliss,
When the renewed for ever of a kiss
Whirls life within the shower of loosened hair!
What soul would bargain for a cure that brings
Contempt the nobler agony to kill?
Rather let me bear on the bitter ill,
And strike this rusty bosom with new stings!
It seems there is another veering fit,
Since on a gold-haired lady's eyeballs pure
I looked with little prospect of a cure,
The while her mouth's red bow loosed shafts of wit.
Just heaven! can it be true that jealousy
Has decked the woman thus? and does her head
Swim somewhat for possessions forfeited?
Madam, you teach me many things that be.
I open an old book, and there I find
That 'Women still may love whom they deceive.'
Such love I prize not, madam: by your leave,
The game you play at is not to my mind.
I think she sleeps: it must be sleep, when low
Hangs that abandoned arm toward the floor;
The face turned with it. Now make fast the door.
Sleep on: it is your husband, not your foe.
The Poet's black stage-lion of wronged love
Frights not our modern dames:- well if he did!
Now will I pour new light upon that lid,
Full-sloping like the breasts beneath. 'Sweet dove,
Your sleep is pure. Nay, pardon: I disturb.
I do not? good!' Her waking infant-stare
Grows woman to the burden my hands bear:
Her own handwriting to me when no curb
Was left on Passion's tongue. She trembles through;
A woman's tremble-the whole instrument:-
I show another letter lately sent.
The words are very like: the name is new.
In our old shipwrecked days there was an hour,
When in the firelight steadily aglow,
Joined slackly, we beheld the red chasm grow
Among the clicking coals. Our library-bower
That eve was left to us: and hushed we sat
As lovers to whom Time is whispering.
From sudden-opened doors we heard them sing:
The nodding elders mixed good wine with chat.
Well knew we that Life's greatest treasure lay
With us, and of it was our talk. 'Ah, yes!
Love dies!' I said: I never thought it less.
She yearned to me that sentence to unsay.
Then when the fire domed blackening, I found
Her cheek was salt against my kiss, and swift
Up the sharp scale of sobs her breast did lift:-
Now am I haunted by that taste! that sound!
At dinner, she is hostess, I am host.
Went the feast ever cheerfuller? She keeps
The Topic over intellectual deeps
In buoyancy afloat. They see no ghost.
With sparkling surface-eyes we ply the ball:
It is in truth a most contagious game:
HIDING THE SKELETON, shall be its name.
Such play as this the devils might appal!
But here's the greater wonder; in that we,
Enamoured of an acting nought can tire,
Each other, like true hypocrites, admire;
Warm-lighted looks, Love's ephemerioe,
Shoot gaily o'er the dishes and the wine.
We waken envy of our happy lot.
Fast, sweet, and golden, shows the marriage-knot.
Dear guests, you now have seen Love's corpse-light shine.
Here Jack and Tom are paired with Moll and Meg.
Curved open to the river-reach is seen
A country merry-making on the green.
Fair space for signal shakings of the leg.
That little screwy fiddler from his booth,
Whence flows one nut-brown stream, commands the joints
Of all who caper here at various points.
I have known rustic revels in my youth:
The May-fly pleasures of a mind at ease.
An early goddess was a country lass:
A charmed Amphion-oak she tripped the grass.
What life was that I lived? The life of these?
Heaven keep them happy! Nature they seem near.
They must, I think, be wiser than I am;
They have the secret of the bull and lamb.
'Tis true that when we trace its source, 'tis beer.
No state is enviable. To the luck alone
Of some few favoured men I would put claim.
I bleed, but her who wounds I will not blame.
Have I not felt her heart as 'twere my own
Beat thro' me? could I hurt her? heaven and hell!
But I could hurt her cruelly! Can I let
My Love's old time-piece to another set,
Swear it can't stop, and must for ever swell?
Sure, that's one way Love drifts into the mart
Where goat-legged buyers throng. I see not plain:-
My meaning is, it must not be again.
Great God! the maddest gambler throws his heart.
If any state be enviable on earth,
'Tis yon born idiot's, who, as days go by,
Still rubs his hands before him, like a fly,
In a queer sort of meditative mirth.
I am not of those miserable males
Who sniff at vice and, daring not to snap,
Do therefore hope for heaven. I take the hap
Of all my deeds. The wind that fills my sails
Propels; but I am helmsman. Am I wrecked,
I know the devil has sufficient weight
To bear: I lay it not on him, or fate.
Besides, he's damned. That man I do suspect
A coward, who would burden the poor deuce
With what ensues from his own slipperiness.
I have just found a wanton-scented tress
In an old desk, dusty for lack of use.
Of days and nights it is demonstrative,
That, like some aged star, gleam luridly.
If for those times I must ask charity,
Have I not any charity to give?
We three are on the cedar-shadowed lawn;
My friend being third. He who at love once laughed
Is in the weak rib by a fatal shaft
Struck through, and tells his passion's bashful dawn
And radiant culmination, glorious crown,
When 'this' she said: went 'thus': most wondrous she.
Our eyes grow white, encountering: that we are three,
Forgetful; then together we look down.
But he demands our blessing; is convinced
That words of wedded lovers must bring good.
We question; if we dare! or if we should!
And pat him, with light laugh. We have not winced.
Next, she has fallen. Fainting points the sign
To happy things in wedlock. When she wakes,
She looks the star that thro' the cedar shakes:
Her lost moist hand clings mortally to mine.
What may the woman labour to confess?
There is about her mouth a nervous twitch.
'Tis something to be told, or hidden:- which?
I get a glimpse of hell in this mild guess.
She has desires of touch, as if to feel
That all the household things are things she knew.
She stops before the glass. What sight in view?
A face that seems the latest to reveal!
For she turns from it hastily, and tossed
Irresolute steals shadow-like to where
I stand; and wavering pale before me there,
Her tears fall still as oak-leaves after frost.
She will not speak. I will not ask. We are
League-sundered by the silent gulf between.
You burly lovers on the village green,
Yours is a lower, and a happier star!
'Tis Christmas weather, and a country house
Receives us: rooms are full: we can but get
An attic-crib. Such lovers will not fret
At that, it is half-said. The great carouse
Knocks hard upon the midnight's hollow door,
But when I knock at hers, I see the pit.
Why did I come here in that dullard fit?
I enter, and lie couched upon the floor.
Passing, I caught the coverlet's quick beat:-
Come, Shame, burn to my soul! and Pride, and Pain -
Foul demons that have tortured me, enchain!
Out in the freezing darkness the lambs bleat.
The small bird stiffens in the low starlight.
I know not how, but shuddering as I slept,
I dreamed a banished angel to me crept:
My feet were nourished on her breasts all night.
The misery is greater, as I live!
To know her flesh so pure, so keen her sense,
That she does penance now for no offence,
Save against Love. The less can I forgive!
The less can I forgive, though I adore
That cruel lovely pallor which surrounds
Her footsteps; and the low vibrating sounds
That come on me, as from a magic shore.
Low are they, but most subtle to find out
The shrinking soul. Madam, 'tis understood
When women play upon their womanhood,
It means, a Season gone. And yet I doubt
But I am duped. That nun-like look waylays
My fancy. Oh! I do but wait a sign!
Pluck out the eyes of pride! thy mouth to mine!
Never! though I die thirsting. Go thy ways!
You like not that French novel? Tell me why.
You think it quite unnatural. Let us see.
The actors are, it seems, the usual three:
Husband, and wife, and lover. She-but fie!
In England we'll not hear of it. Edmond,
The lover, her devout chagrin doth share;
Blanc-mange and absinthe are his penitent fare,
Till his pale aspect makes her over-fond:
So, to preclude fresh sin, he tries rosbif.
Meantime the husband is no more abused:
Auguste forgives her ere the tear is used.
Then hangeth all on one tremendous IF:-
IF she will choose between them. She does choose;
And takes her husband, like a proper wife.
Unnatural? My dear, these things are life:
And life, some think, is worthy of the Muse.
Love ere he bleeds, an eagle in high skies,
Has earth beneath his wings: from reddened eve
He views the rosy dawn. In vain they weave
The fatal web below while far he flies.
But when the arrow strikes him, there's a change.
He moves but in the track of his spent pain,
Whose red drops are the links of a harsh chain,
Binding him to the ground, with narrow range.
A subtle serpent then has Love become.
I had the eagle in my bosom erst:
Henceforward with the serpent I am cursed.
I can interpret where the mouth is dumb.
Speak, and I see the side-lie of a truth.
Perchance my heart may pardon you this deed:
But be no coward:- you that made Love bleed,
You must bear all the venom of his tooth!
Distraction is the panacea, Sir!
I hear my oracle of Medicine say.
Doctor! that same specific yesterday
I tried, and the result will not deter
A second trial. Is the devil's line
Of golden hair, or raven black, composed?
And does a cheek, like any sea-shell rosed,
Or clear as widowed sky, seem most divine?
No matter, so I taste forgetfulness.
And if the devil snare me, body and mind,
Here gratefully I score:- he seemed kind,
When not a soul would comfort my distress!
O sweet new world, in which I rise new made!
O Lady, once I gave love: now I take!
Lady, I must be flattered. Shouldst thou wake
The passion of a demon, be not afraid.
I must be flattered. The imperious
Desire speaks out. Lady, I am content
To play with you the game of Sentiment,
And with you enter on paths perilous;
But if across your beauty I throw light,
To make it threefold, it must be all mine.
First secret; then avowed. For I must shine
Envied,-I, lessened in my proper sight!
Be watchful of your beauty, Lady dear!
How much hangs on that lamp you cannot tell.
Most earnestly I pray you, tend it well:
And men shall see me as a burning sphere;
And men shall mark you eyeing me, and groan
To be the God of such a grand sunflower!
I feel the promptings of Satanic power,
While you do homage unto me alone.
Am I failing? For no longer can I cast
A glory round about this head of gold.
Glory she wears, but springing from the mould;
Not like the consecration of the Past!
Is my soul beggared? Something more than earth
I cry for still: I cannot be at peace
In having Love upon a mortal lease.
I cannot take the woman at her worth!
Where is the ancient wealth wherewith I clothed
Our human nakedness, and could endow
With spiritual splendour a white brow
That else had grinned at me the fact I loathed?
A kiss is but a kiss now! and no wave
Of a great flood that whirls me to the sea.
But, as you will! we'll sit contentedly,
And eat our pot of honey on the grave.
What are we first? First, animals; and next
Intelligences at a leap; on whom
Pale lies the distant shadow of the tomb,
And all that draweth on the tomb for text.
Into which state comes Love, the crowning sun:
Beneath whose light the shadow loses form.
We are the lords of life, and life is warm.
Intelligence and instinct now are one.
But nature says: 'My children most they seem
When they least know me: therefore I decree
That they shall suffer.' Swift doth young Love flee,
And we stand wakened, shivering from our dream.
Then if we study Nature we are wise.
Thus do the few who live but with the day:
The scientific animals are they. -
Lady, this is my sonnet to your eyes.
This golden head has wit in it. I live
Again, and a far higher life, near her.
Some women like a young philosopher;
Perchance because he is diminutive.
For woman's manly god must not exceed
Proportions of the natural nursing size.
Great poets and great sages draw no prize
With women: but the little lap-dog breed,
Who can be hugged, or on a mantel-piece
Perched up for adoration, these obtain
Her homage. And of this we men are vain?
Of this! 'Tis ordered for the world's increase!
Small flattery! Yet she has that rare gift
To beauty, Common Sense. I am approved.
It is not half so nice as being loved,
And yet I do prefer it. What's my drift?
Full faith I have she holds that rarest gift
To beauty, Common Sense. To see her lie
With her fair visage an inverted sky
Bloom-covered, while the underlids uplift,
Would almost wreck the faith; but when her mouth
(Can it kiss sweetly? sweetly!) would address
The inner me that thirsts for her no less,
And has so long been languishing in drouth,
I feel that I am matched; that I am man!
One restless corner of my heart or head,
That holds a dying something never dead,
Still frets, though Nature giveth all she can.
It means, that woman is not, I opine,
Her sex's antidote. Who seeks the asp
For serpent's bites? 'Twould calm me could I clasp
Shrieking Bacchantes with their souls of wine!
'In Paris, at the Louvre, there have I seen
The sumptuously-feathered angel pierce
Prone Lucifer, descending. Looked he fierce,
Showing the fight a fair one? Too serene!
The young Pharsalians did not disarray
Less willingly their locks of floating silk:
That suckling mouth of his upon the milk
Of heaven might still be feasting through the fray.
Oh, Raphael! when men the Fiend do fight,
They conquer not upon such easy terms.
Half serpent in the struggle grow these worms.
And does he grow half human, all is right.'
This to my Lady in a distant spot,
Upon the theme: WHILE MIND IS MASTERING CLAY,
GROSS CLAY INVADES IT. If the spy you play,
My wife, read this! Strange love talk, is it not?
Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
The Deluge or else Fire! She's well; she thanks
My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
Vesuvius is expected to give news:
Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
Our eyes dart scrutinizing snakes. She's glad
I'm happy, says her quivering under-lip.
'And are not you?' 'How can I be?' 'Take ship!
For happiness is somewhere to be had.'
'Nowhere for me!' Her voice is barely heard.
I am not melted, and make no pretence.
With commonplace I freeze her, tongue and sense.
Niagara or Vesuvius is deferred.
It is no vulgar nature I have wived.
Secretive, sensitive, she takes a wound
Deep to her soul, as if the sense had swooned,
And not a thought of vengeance had survived.
No confidences has she: but relief
Must come to one whose suffering is acute.
O have a care of natures that are mute!
They punish you in acts: their steps are brief.
What is she doing? What does she demand
From Providence or me? She is not one
Long to endure this torpidly, and shun
The drugs that crowd about a woman's hand.
At Forfeits during snow we played, and I
Must kiss her. 'Well performed!' I said: then she:
'Tis hardly worth the money, you agree?'
Save her? What for? To act this wedded lie!
My Lady unto Madam makes her bow.
The charm of women is, that even while
You're probed by them for tears, you yet may smile,
Nay, laugh outright, as I have done just now.
The interview was gracious: they anoint
(To me aside) each other with fine praise:
Discriminating compliments they raise,
That hit with wondrous aim on the weak point:
My Lady's nose of Nature might complain.
It is not fashioned aptly to express
Her character of large-browed steadfastness.
But Madam says: Thereof she may be vain!
Now, Madam's faulty feature is a glazed
And inaccessible eye, that has soft fires,
Wide gates, at love-time, only. This admires
My Lady. At the two I stand amazed.
Along the garden terrace, under which
A purple valley (lighted at its edge
By smoky torch-flame on the long cloud-ledge
Whereunder dropped the chariot) glimmers rich,
A quiet company we pace, and wait
The dinner-bell in prae-digestive calm.
So sweet up violet banks the Southern balm
Breathes round, we care not if the bell be late:
Though here and there grey seniors question Time
In irritable coughings. With slow foot
The low rosed moon, the face of Music mute,
Begins among her silent bars to climb.
As in and out, in silvery dusk, we thread,
I hear the laugh of Madam, and discern
My Lady's heel before me at each turn.
Our tragedy, is it alive or dead?
Give to imagination some pure light
In human form to fix it, or you shame
The devils with that hideous human game:-
Imagination urging appetite!
Thus fallen have earth's greatest Gogmagogs,
Who dazzle us, whom we can not revere:
Imagination is the charioteer
That, in default of better, drives the hogs.
So, therefore, my dear Lady, let me love!
My soul is arrowy to the light in you.
You know me that I never can renew
The bond that woman broke: what would you have?
'Tis Love, or Vileness! not a choice between,
Save petrifaction! What does Pity here?
She killed a thing, and now it's dead, 'tis dear.
Oh, when you counsel me, think what you mean!
She yields: my Lady in her noblest mood
Has yielded: she, my golden-crowned rose!
The bride of every sense! more sweet than those
Who breathe the violet breath of maidenhood.
O visage of still music in the sky!
Soft moon! I feel thy song, my fairest friend!
True harmony within can apprehend
Dumb harmony without. And hark! 'tis nigh!
Belief has struck the note of sound: a gleam
Of living silver shows me where she shook
Her long white fingers down the shadowy brook,
That sings her song, half waking, half in dream.
What two come here to mar this heavenly tune?
A man is one: the woman bears my name,
And honour. Their hands touch! Am I still tame?
God, what a dancing spectre seems the moon!
I bade my Lady think what she might mean.
Know I my meaning, I? Can I love one,
And yet be jealous of another? None
Commits such folly. Terrible Love, I ween,
Has might, even dead, half sighing to upheave
The lightless seas of selfishness amain:
Seas that in a man's heart have no rain
To fall and still them. Peace can I achieve,
By turning to this fountain-source of woe,
This woman, who's to Love as fire to wood?
She breathed the violet breath of maidenhood
Against my kisses once! but I say, No!
The thing is mocked at! Helplessly afloat,
I know not what I do, whereto I strive.
The dread that my old love may be alive
Has seized my nursling new love by the throat.
How many a thing which we cast to the ground,
When others pick it up becomes a gem!
We grasp at all the wealth it is to them;
And by reflected light its worth is found.
Yet for us still 'tis nothing! and that zeal
Of false appreciation quickly fades.
This truth is little known to human shades,
How rare from their own instinct 'tis to feel!
They waste the soul with spurious desire,
That is not the ripe flame upon the bough.
We two have taken up a lifeless vow
To rob a living passion: dust for fire!
Madam is grave, and eyes the clock that tells
Approaching midnight. We have struck despair
Into two hearts. O, look we like a pair
Who for fresh nuptials joyfully yield all else?
I am to follow her. There is much grace
In woman when thus bent on martyrdom.
They think that dignity of soul may come,
Perchance, with dignity of body. Base!
But I was taken by that air of cold
And statuesque sedateness, when she said
'I'm going'; lit a taper, bowed her head,
And went, as with the stride of Pallas bold.
Fleshly indifference horrible! The hands
Of Time now signal: O, she's safe from me!
Within those secret walls what do I see?
Where first she set the taper down she stands:
Not Pallas: Hebe shamed! Thoughts black as death
Like a stirred pool in sunshine break. Her wrists
I catch: she faltering, as she half resists,
'You love . . .? love . . .? love . . .?' all on an indrawn breath.
Mark where the pressing wind shoots javelin-like
Its skeleton shadow on the broad-backed wave!
Here is a fitting spot to dig Love's grave;
Here where the ponderous breakers plunge and strike,
And dart their hissing tongues high up the sand:
In hearing of the ocean, and in sight
Of those ribbed wind-streaks running into white.
If I the death of Love had deeply planned,
I never could have made it half so sure,
As by the unblest kisses which upbraid
The full-waked sense; or failing that, degrade!
'Tis morning: but no morning can restore
What we have forfeited. I see no sin:
The wrong is mixed. In tragic life, God wot,
No villain need be! Passions spin the plot:
We are betrayed by what is false within.
They say, that Pity in Love's service dwells,
A porter at the rosy temple's gate.
I missed him going: but it is my fate
To come upon him now beside his wells;
Whereby I know that I Love's temple leave,
And that the purple doors have closed behind.
Poor soul! if, in those early days unkind,
Thy power to sting had been but power to grieve,
We now might with an equal spirit meet,
And not be matched like innocence and vice.
She for the Temple's worship has paid price,
And takes the coin of Pity as a cheat.
She sees through simulation to the bone:
What's best in her impels her to the worst:
Never, she cries, shall Pity soothe Love's thirst,
Or foul hypocrisy for truth atone!
It is the season of the sweet wild rose,
My Lady's emblem in the heart of me!
So golden-crowned shines she gloriously,
And with that softest dream of blood she glows;
Mild as an evening heaven round Hesper bright!
I pluck the flower, and smell it, and revive
The time when in her eyes I stood alive.
I seem to look upon it out of Night.
Here's Madam, stepping hastily. Her whims
Bid her demand the flower, which I let drop.
As I proceed, I feel her sharply stop,
And crush it under heel with trembling limbs.
She joins me in a cat-like way, and talks
Of company, and even condescends
To utter laughing scandal of old friends.
These are the summer days, and these our walks.
At last we parley: we so strangely dumb
In such a close communion! It befell
About the sounding of the Matin-bell,
And lo! her place was vacant, and the hum
Of loneliness was round me. Then I rose,
And my disordered brain did guide my foot
To that old wood where our first love-salute
Was interchanged: the source of many throes!
There did I see her, not alone. I moved
Toward her, and made proffer of my arm.
She took it simply, with no rude alarm;
And that disturbing shadow passed reproved.
I felt the pained speech coming, and declared
My firm belief in her, ere she could speak.
A ghastly morning came into her cheek,
While with a widening soul on me she stared.
We saw the swallows gathering in the sky,
And in the osier-isle we heard them noise.
We had not to look back on summer joys,
Or forward to a summer of bright dye:
But in the largeness of the evening earth
Our spirits grew as we went side by side.
The hour became her husband and my bride.
Love, that had robbed us so, thus blessed our dearth!
The pilgrims of the year waxed very loud
In multitudinous chatterings, as the flood
Full brown came from the West, and like pale blood
Expanded to the upper crimson cloud.
Love, that had robbed us of immortal things,
This little moment mercifully gave,
Where I have seen across the twilight wave
The swan sail with her young beneath her wings.
Their sense is with their senses all mixed in,
Destroyed by subtleties these women are!
More brain, O Lord, more brain! or we shall mar
Utterly this fair garden we might win.
Behold! I looked for peace, and thought it near.
Our inmost hearts had opened, each to each.
We drank the pure daylight of honest speech.
Alas! that was the fatal draught, I fear.
For when of my lost Lady came the word,
This woman, O this agony of flesh!
Jealous devotion bade her break the mesh,
That I might seek that other like a bird.
I do adore the nobleness! despise
The act! She has gone forth, I know not where.
Will the hard world my sentience of her share
I feel the truth; so let the world surmise.
He found her by the ocean's moaning verge,
Nor any wicked change in her discerned;
And she believed his old love had returned,
Which was her exultation, and her scourge.
She took his hand, and walked with him, and seemed
The wife he sought, though shadow-like and dry.
She had one terror, lest her heart should sigh,
And tell her loudly she no longer dreamed.
She dared not say, 'This is my breast: look in.'
But there's a strength to help the desperate weak.
That night he learned how silence best can speak
The awful things when Pity pleads for Sin.
About the middle of the night her call
Was heard, and he came wondering to the bed.
'Now kiss me, dear! it may be, now!' she said.
Lethe had passed those lips, and he knew all.
Thus piteously Love closed what he begat:
The union of this ever-diverse pair!
These two were rapid falcons in a snare,
Condemned to do the flitting of the bat.
Lovers beneath the singing sky of May,
They wandered once; clear as the dew on flowers:
But they fed not on the advancing hours:
Their hearts held cravings for the buried day.
Then each applied to each that fatal knife,
Deep questioning, which probes to endless dole.
Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life! -
In tragic hints here see what evermore
Moves dark as yonder midnight ocean's force,
Thundering like ramping hosts of warrior horse,
To throw that faint thin fine upon the shore!
Metamorphoses: Book The Fifth
WHILE Perseus entertain'd with this report
His father Cepheus, and the list'ning court,
Within the palace walls was heard aloud
The roaring noise of some unruly crowd;
Not like the songs which chearful friends prepare
For nuptial days, but sounds that threaten'd war;
And all the pleasures of this happy feast,
To tumult turn'd, in wild disorder ceas'd:
So, when the sea is calm, we often find
A storm rais'd sudden by some furious wind.
The Story of Chief in the riot Phineus first appear'd,
Perseus The rash ringleader of this boist'rous herd,
continu'd And brandishing his brazen-pointed lance,
Behold, he said, an injur'd man advance,
Stung with resentment for his ravish'd wife,
Nor shall thy wings, o Perseus, save thy life;
Nor Jove himself; tho' we've been often told
Who got thee in the form of tempting gold.
His lance was aim'd, when Cepheus ran, and said,
Hold, brother, hold; what brutal rage has made
Your frantick mind so black a crime conceive?
Are these the thanks that you to Perseus give?
This the reward that to his worth you pay,
Whose timely valour sav'd Andromeda?
Nor was it he, if you would reason right,
That forc'd her from you, but the jealous spight
Of envious Nereids, and Jove's high decree;
And that devouring monster of the sea,
That ready with his jaws wide gaping stood
To eat my child, the fairest of my blood.
You lost her then, when she seem'd past relief,
And wish'd perhaps her death, to ease your grief
With my afflictions: not content to view
Andromeda in chains, unhelp'd by you,
Her spouse, and uncle; will you grieve that he
Expos'd his life the dying maid to free?
And shall you claim his merit? Had you thought
Her charms so great, you shou'd have bravely sought
That blessing on the rocks, where fix'd she lay:
But now let Perseus bear his prize away,
By service gain'd, by promis'd faith possess'd;
To him I owe it, that my age is bless'd
Still with a child: Nor think that I prefer
Perseus to thee, but to the loss of her.
Phineus on him, and Perseus, roul'd about
His eyes in silent rage, and seem'd to doubt
Which to destroy; 'till, resolute at length,
He threw his spear with the redoubled strength
His fury gave him, and at Perseus struck;
But missing Perseus, in his seat it stuck.
Who, springing nimbly up, return'd the dart,
And almost plung'd it in his rival's heart;
But he for safety to the altar ran,
Unfit protection for so vile a man;
Yet was the stroke not vain, as Rhaetus found,
Who in his brow receiv'd a mortal wound;
Headlong he tumbled, when his skull was broke,
From which his friends the fatal weapon took,
While he lay trembling, and his gushing blood
In crimson streams around the table flow'd.
But this provok'd th' unruly rabble worse,
They flung their darts, and some in loud discourse
To death young Perseus, and the monarch doom;
But Cepheus left before the guilty room,
With grief appealing to the Gods above,
Who laws of hospitality approve,
Who faith protect, and succour injur'd right,
That he was guiltless of this barb'rous fight.
Pallas her brother Perseus close attends,
And with her ample shield from harm defends,
Raising a sprightly courage in his heart:
But Indian Athis took the weaker part,
Born in the chrystal grottoes of the sea,
Limnate's son, a fenny nymph, and she
Daughter of Ganges; graceful was his mein,
His person lovely, and his age sixteen.
His habit made his native beauty more;
A purple mantle fring'd with gold he wore;
His neck well-turn'd with golden chains was grac'd,
His hair with myrrh perfum'd, was nicely dress'd.
Tho' with just aim he cou'd the javelin throw,
Yet with more skill he drew the bending bow;
And now was drawing it with artful hand,
When Perseus snatching up a flaming brand,
Whirl'd sudden at his face the burning wood,
Crush'd his eyes in, and quench'd the fire with
Thro' the soft skin the splinter'd bones appear,
And spoil'd the face that lately was so fair.
When Lycabas his Athis thus beheld,
How was his heart with friendly horror fill'd!
A youth so noble, to his soul so dear,
To see his shapeless look, his dying groans to
He snatch'd the bow the boy was us'd to bend,
And cry'd, With me, false traytor, dare contend;
Boast not a conquest o'er a child, but try
Thy strength with me, who all thy pow'rs defy;
Nor think so mean an act a victory.
While yet he spoke he flung the whizzing dart,
Which pierc'd the plaited robe, but miss'd his
Perseus defy'd, upon him fiercely press'd
With sword, unsheath'd, and plung'd it in his
His eyes o'erwhelm'd with night, he stumbling
And with his latest breath on Athis calls;
Pleas'd that so near the lovely youth he lies,
He sinks his head upon his friend, and dies.
Next eager Phorbas, old Methion's son,
Came rushing forward with Amphimedon;
When the smooth pavement, slippery made with gore,
Trip'd up their feet, and flung 'em on the floor;
The sword of Perseus, who by chance was nigh,
Prevents their rise, and where they fall, they lye:
Full in his ribs Amphimedon he smote,
And then stuck fiery Phorbas in the throat.
Eurythus lifting up his ax, the blow
Was thus prevented by his nimble foe;
A golden cup he seizes, high embost,
And at his head the massy goblet tost:
It hits, and from his forehead bruis'd rebounds,
And blood, and brains he vomits from his wounds;
With his slain fellows on the floor he lies,
And death for ever shuts his swimming eyes.
Then Polydaemon fell, a Goddess-born;
Phlegias, and Elycen with locks unshorn
Next follow'd; next, the stroke of death he gave
To Clytus, Abanis, and Lycetus brave;
While o'er unnumber'd heaps of ghastly dead,
The Argive heroe's feet triumphant tread.
But Phineus stands aloof, and dreads to feel
His rival's force, and flies his pointed steel:
Yet threw a dart from far; by chance it lights
On Idas, who for neither party fights;
But wounded, sternly thus to Phineus said,
Since of a neuter thou a foe hast made,
This I return thee, drawing from his side
The dart; which, as he strove to fling, he dy'd.
Odites fell by Clymenus's sword,
The Cephen court had not a greater lord.
Hypseus his blade does in Protenor sheath,
But brave Lyncides soon reveng'd his death.
Here too was old Emathion, one that fear'd
The Gods, and in the cause of Heav'n appear'd,
Who only wishing the success of right,
And, by his age, exempted from the fight,
Both sides alike condemns: This impious war
Cease, cease, he cries; these bloody broils
This scarce the sage with high concern had said,
When Chromis at a blow struck off his head,
Which dropping, on the royal altar roul'd,
Still staring on the crowd with aspect bold;
And still it seem'd their horrid strife to blame,
In life and death, his pious zeal the same;
While clinging to the horns, the trunk expires,
The sever'd head consumes amidst the fires.
Then Phineus, who from far his javelin threw,
Broteas and Ammon, twins and brothers, slew;
For knotted gauntlets matchless in the field;
But gauntlets must to swords and javelins yield.
Ampycus next, with hallow'd fillets bound,
As Ceres' priest, and with a mitre crown'd,
His spear transfix'd, and struck him to the ground.
O Iapetides, with pain I tell
How you, sweet lyrist, in the riot fell;
What worse than brutal rage his breast could fill,
Who did thy blood, o bard celestial! spill?
Kindly you press'd amid the princely throng,
To crown the feast, and give the nuptial song:
Discord abhorr'd the musick of thy lyre,
Whose notes did gentle peace so well inspire;
Thee, when fierce Pettalus far off espy'd,
Defenceless with thy harp, he scoffing cry'd,
Go; to the ghosts thy soothing lessons play;
We loath thy lyre, and scorn thy peaceful lay:
And, as again he fiercely bid him go,
He pierc'd his temples with a mortal blow.
His harp he held, tho' sinking on the ground,
Whose strings in death his trembling fingers found
By chance, and tun'd by chance a dying sound.
With grief Lycormas saw him fall, from far,
And, wresting from the door a massy bar,
Full in his poll lays on a load of knocks,
Which stun him, and he falls like a devoted ox.
Another bar Pelates would have snach'd,
But Corynthus his motions slily watch'd;
He darts his weapon from a private stand,
And rivets to the post his veiny hand:
When strait a missive spear transfix'd his side,
By Abas thrown, and as he hung, he dy'd.
Melaneus on the prince's side was slain;
And Dorylas, who own'd a fertile plain,
Of Nasamonia's fields the wealthy lord,
Whose crowded barns, could scarce contain their
A whizzing spear obliquely gave a blow,
Stuck in his groin, and pierc'd the nerves below;
His foe behld his eyes convulsive roul,
His ebbing veins, and his departing soul;
Then taunting said, Of all thy spacious plain,
This spot thy only property remains.
He left him thus; but had no sooner left,
Than Perseus in revenge his nostrils cleft;
From his friend's breast the murd'ring dart he
And the same weapon at the murderer threw;
His head in halves the darted javelin cut,
And on each side the brain came issuing out.
Fortune his friend, in deaths around he deals,
And this his lance, and that his faulchion feels:
Now Clytius dies; and by a diff'rent wound,
The twin, his brother Clanis, bites the ground.
In his rent jaw the bearded weapon sticks,
And the steel'd dart does Clytius' thigh transfix.
With these Mendesian Celadon he slew:
And Astreus next, whose mother was a Jew,
His sire uncertain: then by Perseus fell
Aethion, who cou'd things to come foretell;
But now he knows not whence the javelin flies
That wounds his breast, nor by whose arm he dies.
The squire to Phineus next his valour try'd,
And fierce Agyrtes stain'd with paricide.
As these are slain, fresh numbers still appear,
And wage with Perseus an unequal war;
To rob him of his right, the maid he won,
By honour, promise, and desert his own.
With him, the father of the beauteous bride,
The mother, and the frighted virgin side;
With shrieks, and doleful cries they rend the air:
Their shrieks confounded with the din of war,
With dashing arms, and groanings of the slain,
They grieve unpitied, and unheard complain.
The floor with ruddy streams Bellona stains,
And Phineus a new war with double rage maintains.
Perseus begirt, from all around they pour
Their lances on him, a tempestuous show'r,
Aim'd all at him; a cloud of darts, and spears,
Or blind his eyes, or whistle round his ears.
Their numbers to resist, against the wall
He guards his back secure, and dares them all.
Here from the left Molpeus renews the fight,
And bold Ethemon presses on the right:
As when a hungry tyger near him hears
Two lowing herds, a-while he both forbears;
Nor can his hopes of this, or that renounce,
So strong he lusts to prey on both at once;
Thus Perseus now with that, or this is loth
To war distinct:, but fain would fall on both.
And first Chaonian Molpeus felt his blow,
And fled, and never after fac'd his foe;
Then fierce Ethemon, as he turn'd his back,
Hurried with fury, aiming at his neck,
His brandish'd sword against the marble struck
With all his might; the brittle weapon broke,
And in his throat the point rebounding stuck.
Too slight the wound for life to issue thence,
And yet too great for battel, or defence;
His arms extended in this piteous state,
For mercy he wou'd sue, but sues too late;
Perseus has in his bosom plung'd the sword,
And, ere he speaks, the wound prevents the word.
The crowds encreasing, and his friends
Himself by warring multitudes oppress'd:
Since thus unequally you fight, 'tis time,
He cry'd, to punish your presumptuous crime;
Beware, my friends; his friends were soon prepar'd,
Their sight averting, high the head he rear'd,
And Gorgon on his foes severely star'd.
Vain shift! says Thescelus, with aspect bold,
Thee, and thy bugbear monster, I behold
With scorn; he lifts his arm, but ere he threw
The dart, the heroe to a statue grew.
In the same posture still the marble stands,
And holds the warrior's weapons in its hands.
Amphyx, whom yet this wonder can't alarm,
Heaves at Lyncides' breast his impious arm;
But, while thus daringly he presses on,
His weapon and his arm are turn'd to stone.
Next Nileus, he who vainly said he ow'd
His origin to Nile's prolifick flood;
Who on his shield seven silver rivers bore,
His birth to witness by the arms he wore;
Full of his sev'n-fold father, thus express'd
His boast to Perseus, and his pride confess'd:
See whence we sprung; let this thy comfort be
In thy sure death, that thou didst die by me.
While yet he spoke, the dying accents hung
In sounds imperfect on his marble tongue;
Tho' chang'd to stone, his lips he seem'd to
And thro' th' insensate rock wou'd force a speech.
This Eryx saw, but seeing wou'd not own;
The mischief by your selves, he cries, is done,
'Tis your cold courage turns your hearts to stone.
Come, follow me; fall on the stripling boy,
Kill him, and you his magick arms destroy.
Then rushing on, his arm to strike he rear'd,
And marbled o'er his varied frame appear'd.
These for affronting Pallas were chastis'd,
And justly met the death they had despis'd.
But brave Aconteus, Perseus' friend, by chance
Look'd back, and met the Gorgon's fatal glance:
A statue now become, he ghastly stares,
And still the foe to mortal combat dares.
Astyages the living likeness knew,
On the dead stone with vengeful fury flew;
But impotent his rage, the jarring blade
No print upon the solid marble made:
Again, as with redoubled might he struck,
Himself astonish'd in the quarry stuck.
The vulgar deaths 'twere tedious to rehearse,
And fates below the dignity of verse;
Their safety in their flight two hundred found,
Two hundred, by Medusa's head were ston'd.
Fierce Phineus now repents the wrongful fight,
And views his varied friends, a dreadful sight;
He knows their faces, for their help he sues,
And thinks, not hearing him, that they refuse:
By name he begs their succour, one by one,
Then doubts their life, and feels the friendly
Struck with remorse, and conscious of his pride,
Convict of sin, he turn'd his eyes aside;
With suppliant mein to Perseus thus he prays,
Hence with the head, as far as winds and seas
Can bear thee; hence, o quit the Cephen shore,
And never curse us with Medusa more,
That horrid head, which stiffens into stone
Those impious men who, daring death, look on.
I warr'd not with thee out of hate or strife,
My honest cause was to defend my wife,
First pledg'd to me; what crime cou'd I suppose,
To arm my friends, and vindicate my spouse?
But vain, too late I see, was our design;
Mine was the title, but the merit thine.
Contending made me guilty, I confess;
But penitence shou'd make that guilt the less:
'Twas thine to conquer by Minerva's pow'r;
Favour'd of Heav'n, thy mercy I implore;
For life I sue; the rest to thee I yield;
In pity, from my sight remove the shield.
He suing said; nor durst revert his eyes
On the grim head: and Perseus thus replies:
Coward, what is in me to grant, I will,
Nor blood, unworthy of my valour spill:
Fear not to perish by my vengeful sword,
From that secure; 'tis all the Fates afford.
Where I now see thee, thou shalt still be seen,
A lasting monument to please our queen;
There still shall thy betroth'd behold her spouse,
And find his image in her father's house.
This said; where Phineus turn'd to shun the shield
Full in his face the staring head he held;
As here and there he strove to turn aside,
The wonder wrought, the man was petrify'd:
All marble was his frame, his humid eyes
Drop'd tears, which hung upon the stone like ice.
In suppliant posture, with uplifted hands,
And fearful look, the guilty statue stands.
Hence Perseus to his native city hies,
Victorious, and rewarded with his prize.
Conquest, o'er Praetus the usurper, won,
He re-instates his grandsire in the throne.
Praetus, his brother dispossess'd by might,
His realm enjoy'd, and still detain'd his right:
But Perseus pull'd the haughty tyrant down,
And to the rightful king restor'd the throne.
Weak was th' usurper, as his cause was wrong;
Where Gorgon's head appears, what arms are strong?
When Perseus to his host the monster held,
They soon were statues, and their king expell'd.
Thence, to Seriphus with the head he sails,
Whose prince his story treats as idle tales:
Lord of a little isle, he scorns to seem
Too credulous, but laughs at that, and him.
Yet did he not so much suspect the truth,
As out of pride, or envy, hate the youth.
The Argive prince, at his contempt enrag'd,
To force his faith by fatal proof engag'd.
Friends, shut your eyes, he cries; his shield he
And to the king expos'd Medusa's snakes.
The monarch felt the pow'r he wou'd not own,
And stood convict of folly in the stone.
Minerva's Thus far Minerva was content to rove
Interview with With Perseus, offspring of her father Jove:
the Muses Now, hid in clouds, Seriphus she forsook;
And to the Theban tow'rs her journey took.
Cythnos and Gyaros lying to the right,
She pass'd unheeded in her eager flight;
And chusing first on Helicon to rest,
The virgin Muses in these words address'd:
Me, the strange tidings of a new-found spring,
Ye learned sisters, to this mountain bring.
If all be true that Fame's wide rumours tell,
'Twas Pegasus discover'd first your well;
Whose piercing hoof gave the soft earth a blow,
Which broke the surface where these waters flow.
I saw that horse by miracle obtain
Life, from the blood of dire Medusa slain;
And now, this equal prodigy to view,
From distant isles to fam'd Boeotia flew.
The Muse Urania said, Whatever cause
So great a Goddess to this mansion draws;
Our shades are happy with so bright a guest,
You, Queen, are welcome, and we Muses blest.
What Fame has publish'd of our spring is true,
Thanks for our spring to Pegasus are due.
Then, with becoming courtesy, she led
The curious stranger to their fountain's head;
Who long survey'd, with wonder, and delight,
Their sacred water, charming to the sight;
Their ancient groves, dark grottos, shady bow'rs,
And smiling plains adorn'd with various flow'rs.
O happy Muses! she with rapture cry'd,
Who, safe from cares, on this fair hill reside;
Blest in your seat, and free your selves to please
With joys of study, and with glorious ease.
The Fate of Then one replies: O Goddess, fit to guide
Pyreneus Our humble works, and in our choir preside,
Who sure wou'd wisely to these fields repair,
To taste our pleasures, and our labours share,
Were not your virtue, and superior mind
To higher arts, and nobler deeds inclin'd;
Justly you praise our works, and pleasing seat,
Which all might envy in this soft retreat,
Were we secur'd from dangers, and from harms;
But maids are frighten'd with the least alarms,
And none are safe in this licentious time;
Still fierce Pyreneus, and his daring crime,
With lasting horror strikes my feeble sight,
Nor is my mind recover'd from the fright.
With Thracian arms this bold usurper gain'd
Daulis, and Phocis, where he proudly reign'd:
It happen'd once, as thro' his lands we went,
For the bright temple of Parnassus bent,
He met us there, and in his artful mind
Hiding the faithless action he design'd,
Confer'd on us (whom, oh! too well he knew)
All honours that to Goddesses are due.
Stop, stop, ye Muses, 'tis your friend who calls,
The tyrant said; behold the rain that falls
On ev'ry side, and that ill-boding sky,
Whose lowring face portends more storms are nigh.
Pray make my house your own, and void of fear,
While this bad weather lasts, take shelter here.
Gods have made meaner places their resort,
And, for a cottage, left their shining court.
Oblig'd to stop, by the united force
Of pouring rains, and complaisant discourse,
His courteous invitation we obey,
And in his hall resolve a-while to stay.
Soon it clear'd up; the clouds began to fly,
The driving north refin'd the show'ry sky;
Then to pursue our journey we began:
But the false traitor to his portal ran,
Stopt our escape, the door securely barr'd,
And to our honour, violence prepar'd.
But we, transform'd to birds, avoid his snare,
On pinions rising in the yielding air.
But he, by lust and indignation fir'd,
Up to his highest tow'r with speed retir'd,
And cries, In vain you from my arms withdrew,
The way you go your lover will pursue.
Then, in a flying posture wildly plac'd,
And daring from that height himself to cast,
The wretch fell headlong, and the ground bestrew'd
With broken bones, and stains of guilty blood.
The Story of The Muse yet spoke; when they began to hear
the Pierides A noise of wings that flutter'd in the air;
And strait a voice, from some high-spreading bough,
Seem'd to salute the company below.
The Goddess wonder'd, and inquir'd from whence
That tongue was heard, that spoke so plainly sense
(It seem'd to her a human voice to be,
But prov'd a bird's; for in a shady tree
Nine magpies perch'd lament their alter'd state,
And, what they hear, are skilful to repeat).
The sister to the wondring Goddess said,
These, foil'd by us, by us were thus repaid.
These did Evippe of Paeonia bring
With nine hard labour-pangs to Pella's king.
The foolish virgins of their number proud,
And puff'd with praises of the senseless crowd,
Thro' all Achaia, and th' Aemonian plains
Defy'd us thus, to match their artless strains;
No more, ye Thespian girls, your notes repeat,
Nor with false harmony the vulgar cheat;
In voice or skill, if you with us will vye,
As many we, in voice or skill will try.
Surrender you to us, if we excell,
Fam'd Aganippe, and Medusa's well.
The conquest yours, your prize from us shall be
The Aemathian plains to snowy Paeone;
The nymphs our judges. To dispute the field,
We thought a shame; but greater shame to yield.
On seats of living stone the sisters sit,
And by the rivers swear to judge aright.
The Song of Then rises one of the presumptuous throng,
the Pierides Steps rudely forth, and first begins the song;
With vain address describes the giants' wars,
And to the Gods their fabled acts prefers.
She sings, from Earth's dark womb how Typhon rose,
And struck with mortal fear his heav'nly foes.
How the Gods fled to Egypt's slimy soil,
And hid their heads beneath the banks of Nile:
How Typhon, from the conquer'd skies, pursu'd
Their routed godheads to the sev'n-mouth'd flood;
Forc'd every God, his fury to escape,
Some beastly form to take, or earthly shape.
Jove (so she sung) was chang'd into a ram,
From whence the horns of Libyan Ammon came.
Bacchus a goat, Apollo was a crow,
Phaebe a cat; die wife of Jove a cow,
Whose hue was whiter than the falling snow.
Mercury to a nasty Ibis turn'd,
The change obscene, afraid of Typhon, mourn'd;
While Venus from a fish protection craves,
And once more plunges in her native waves.
She sung, and to her harp her voice apply'd;
Then us again to match her they defy'd.
But our poor song, perhaps, for you to hear,
Nor leisure serves, nor is it worth your ear.
That causeless doubt remove, O Muse rehearse,
The Goddess cry'd, your ever-grateful verse.
Beneath a chequer'd shade she takes her seat,
And bids the sister her whole song repeat.
The sister thus: Calliope we chose
For the performance. The sweet virgin rose,
With ivy crown'd she tunes her golden strings,
And to her harp this composition sings.
The Song of First Ceres taught the lab'ring hind to plow
the Muses The pregnant Earth, and quickning seed to sow.
She first for Man did wholsome food provide,
And with just laws the wicked world supply'd:
All good from her deriv'd, to her belong
The grateful tributes of the Muse's song.
Her more than worthy of our verse we deem,
Oh! were our verse more worthy of the theme.
Jove on the giant fair Trinacria hurl'd,
And with one bolt reveng'd his starry world.
Beneath her burning hills Tiphaeus lies,
And, strugling always, strives in vain to rise.
Down does Pelorus his right hand suppress
Tow'rd Latium, on the left Pachyne weighs.
His legs are under Lilybaeum spread,
And Aetna presses hard his horrid head.
On his broad back he there extended lies,
And vomits clouds of ashes to the skies.
Oft lab'ring with his load, at last he tires,
And spews out in revenge a flood of fires.
Mountains he struggles to o'erwhelm, and towns;
Earth's inmost bowels quake, and Nature groans.
His terrors reach the direful king of Hell;
He fears his throws will to the day reveal
The realms of night, and fright his trembling
This to prevent, he quits the Stygian coasts,
In his black carr, by sooty horses drawn,
Fair Sicily he seeks, and dreads the dawn.
Around her plains he casts his eager eyes,
And ev'ry mountain to the bottom tries.
But when, in all the careful search, he saw
No cause of fear, no ill-suspected flaw;
Secure from harm, and wand'ring on at will,
Venus beheld him from her flow'ry hill:
When strait the dame her little Cupid prest
With secret rapture to her snowy breast,
And in these words the flutt'ring boy addrest.
O thou, my arms, my glory, and my pow'r,
My son, whom men, and deathless Gods adore;
Bend thy sure bow, whose arrows never miss'd,
No longer let Hell's king thy sway resist;
Take him, while stragling from his dark abodes
He coasts the kingdoms of superior Gods.
If sovereign Jove, if Gods who rule the waves,
And Neptune, who rules them, have been thy slaves;
Shall Hell be free? The tyrant strike, my son,
Enlarge thy mother's empire, and thy own.
Let not our Heav'n be made the mock of Hell,
But Pluto to confess thy pow'r compel.
Our rule is slighted in our native skies,
See Pallas, see Diana too defies
Thy darts, which Ceres' daughter wou'd despise.
She too our empire treats with aukward scorn;
Such insolence no longer's to be born.
Revenge our slighted reign, and with thy dart
Transfix the virgin's to the uncle's heart.
She said; and from his quiver strait he drew
A dart that surely wou'd the business do.
She guides his hand, she makes her touch the test,
And of a thousand arrows chose the best:
No feather better pois'd, a sharper head
None had, and sooner none, and surer sped.
He bends his bow, he draws it to his ear,
Thro' Pluto's heart it drives, and fixes there.
The Rape of Near Enna's walls a spacious lake is spread,
Proserpine Fam'd for the sweetly-singing swans it bred;
Pergusa is its name: and never more
Were heard, or sweeter on Cayster's shore.
Woods crown the lake; and Phoebus ne'er invades
The tufted fences, or offends the shades:
Fresh fragrant breezes fan the verdant bow'rs,
And the moist ground smiles with enamel'd flow'rs
The chearful birds their airy carols sing,
And the whole year is one eternal spring.
Here, while young Proserpine, among the maids,
Diverts herself in these delicious shades;
While like a child with busy speed and care
She gathers lillies here, and vi'lets there;
While first to fill her little lap she strives,
Hell's grizly monarch at the shade arrives;
Sees her thus sporting on the flow'ry green,
And loves the blooming maid, as soon as seen.
His urgent flame impatient of delay,
Swift as his thought he seiz'd the beauteous prey,
And bore her in his sooty carr away.
The frighted Goddess to her mother cries,
But all in vain, for now far off she flies;
Far she behind her leaves her virgin train;
To them too cries, and cries to them in vain,
And, while with passion she repeats her call,
The vi'lets from her lap, and lillies fall:
She misses 'em, poor heart! and makes new moan;
Her lillies, ah! are lost, her vi'lets gone.
O'er hills, the ravisher, and vallies speeds,
By name encouraging his foamy steeds;
He rattles o'er their necks the rusty reins,
And ruffles with the stroke their shaggy manes.
O'er lakes he whirls his flying wheels, and comes
To the Palici breathing sulph'rous fumes.
And thence to where the Bacchiads of renown
Between unequal havens built their town;
Where Arethusa, round th' imprison'd sea,
Extends her crooked coast to Cyane;
The nymph who gave the neighb'ring lake a name,
Of all Sicilian nymphs the first in fame,
She from the waves advanc'd her beauteous head,
The Goddess knew, and thus to Pluto said:
Farther thou shalt not with the virgin run;
Ceres unwilling, canst thou be her son?
The maid shou'd be by sweet perswasion won.
Force suits not with the softness of the fair;
For, if great things with small I may compare,
Me Anapis once lov'd; a milder course
He took, and won me by his words, not force.
Then, stretching out her arms, she stopt his way;
But he, impatient of the shortest stay,
Throws to his dreadful steeds the slacken'd rein,
And strikes his iron sceptre thro' the main;
The depths profound thro' yielding waves he
And to Hell's center a free passage leaves;
Down sinks his chariot, and his realms of night
The God soon reaches with a rapid flight.
Cyane dissolves But still does Cyane the rape bemoan,
to a Fountain And with the Goddess' wrongs laments her own;
For the stoln maid, and for her injur'd spring,
Time to her trouble no relief can bring.
In her sad heart a heavy load she bears,
'Till the dumb sorrow turns her all to tears.
Her mingling waters with that fountain pass,
Of which she late immortal Goddess was;
Her varied members to a fluid melt,
A pliant softness in her bones is felt;
Her wavy locks first drop away in dew,
And liquid next her slender fingers grew.
The body's change soon seizes its extreme,
Her legs dissolve, and feet flow off in stream.
Her arms, her back, her shoulders, and her side,
Her swelling breasts in little currents glide,
A silver liquor only now remains
Within the channel of her purple veins;
Nothing to fill love's grasp; her husband chaste
Bathes in that bosom he before embrac'd.
A Boy Thus, while thro' all the Earth, and all the
transform'd to main,
an Eft Her daughter mournful Ceres sought in vain;
Aurora, when with dewy looks she rose,
Nor burnish'd Vesper found her in repose,
At Aetna's flaming mouth two pitchy pines
To light her in her search at length she tines.
Restless, with these, thro' frosty night she goes,
Nor fears the cutting winds, nor heeds the snows;
And, when the morning-star the day renews,
From east to west her absent child pursues.
Thirsty at last by long fatigue she grows,
But meets no spring, no riv'let near her flows.
Then looking round, a lowly cottage spies,
Smoaking among the trees, and thither hies.
The Goddess knocking at the little door,
'Twas open'd by a woman old and poor,
Who, when she begg'd for water, gave her ale
Brew'd long, but well preserv'd from being stale.
The Goddess drank; a chuffy lad was by,
Who saw the liquor with a grutching eye,
And grinning cries, She's greedy more than dry.
Ceres, offended at his foul grimace,
Flung what she had not drunk into his face,
The sprinklings speckle where they hit the skin,
And a long tail does from his body spin;
His arms are turn'd to legs, and lest his size
Shou'd make him mischievous, and he might rise
Against mankind, diminutives his frame,
Less than a lizzard, but in shape the same.
Amaz'd the dame the wondrous sight beheld,
And weeps, and fain wou'd touch her quondam child.
Yet her approach th' affrighted vermin shuns,
And fast into the greatest crevice runs.
A name they gave him, which the spots exprest,
That rose like stars, and varied all his breast.
What lands, what seas the Goddess wander'd o'er,
Were long to tell; for there remain'd no more.
Searching all round, her fruitless toil she mourns,
And with regret to Sicily returns.
At length, where Cyane now flows, she came,
Who cou'd have told her, were she still the same
As when she saw her daughter sink to Hell;
But what she knows she wants a tongue to tell.
Yet this plain signal manifestly gave,
The virgin's girdle floating on a wave,
As late she dropt it from her slender waste,
When with her uncle thro' the deep she past.
Ceres the token by her grief confest,
And tore her golden hair, and beat her breast.
She knows not on what land her curse shou'd fall,
But, as ingrate, alike upbraids them all,
Unworthy of her gifts; Trinacria most,
Where the last steps she found of what she lost.
The plough for this the vengeful Goddess broke,
And with one death the ox, and owner struck,
In vain the fallow fields the peasant tills,
The seed, corrupted ere 'tis sown, she kills.
The fruitful soil, that once such harvests bore,
Now mocks the farmer's care, and teems no more.
And the rich grain which fills the furrow'd glade,
Rots in the seed, or shrivels in the blade;
Or too much sun burns up, or too much rain
Drowns, or black blights destroy the blasted plain;
Or greedy birds the new-sown seed devour,
Or darnel, thistles, and a crop impure
Of knotted grass along the acres stand,
And spread their thriving roots thro' all the land.
Then from the waves soft Arethusa rears
Her head, and back she flings her dropping hairs.
O mother of the maid, whom thou so far
Hast sought, of whom thou canst no tidings hear;
O thou, she cry'd, who art to life a friend,
Cease here thy search, and let thy labour end.
Thy faithful Sicily's a guiltless clime,
And shou'd not suffer for another's crime;
She neither knew, nor cou'd prevent the deed;
Nor think that for my country thus I plead;
My country's Pisa, I'm an alien here,
Yet these abodes to Elis I prefer,
No clime to me so sweet, no place so dear.
These springs I Arethusa now possess,
And this my seat, o gracious Goddess, bless:
This island why I love, and why I crost
Such spacious seas to reach Ortygia's coast,
To you I shall impart, when, void of care,
Your heart's at ease, and you're more fit to hear;
When on your brow no pressing sorrow sits,
For gay content alone such tales admits.
When thro' Earth's caverns I a-while have roul'd
My waves, I rise, and here again behold
The long-lost stars; and, as I late did glide
Near Styx, Proserpina there I espy'd.
Fear still with grief might in her face be seen;
She still her rape laments; yet, made a queen,
Beneath those gloomy shades her sceptre sways,
And ev'n th' infernal king her will obeys.
This heard, the Goddess like a statue stood,
Stupid with grief; and in that musing mood
Continu'd long; new cares a-while supprest
The reigning of her immortal breast.
At last to Jove her daughter's sire she flies,
And with her chariot cuts the chrystal skies;
She comes in clouds, and with dishevel'd hair,
Standing before his throne, prefers her pray'r.
King of the Gods, defend my blood and thine,
And use it not the worse for being mine.
If I no more am gracious in thy sight,
Be just, o Jove, and do thy daughter right.
In vain I sought her the wide world around,
And, when I most despair'd to find her, found.
But how can I the fatal finding boast,
By which I know she is for ever lost?
Without her father's aid, what other Pow'r
Can to my arms the ravish'd maid restore?
Let him restore her, I'll the crime forgive;
My child, tho' ravish'd, I'd with joy receive.
Pity, your daughter with a thief shou'd wed,
Tho' mine, you think, deserves no better bed.
Jove thus replies: It equally belongs
To both, to guard our common pledge from wrongs.
But if to things we proper names apply,
This hardly can be call'd an injury.
The theft is love; nor need we blush to own
The thief, if I can judge, to be our son.
Had you of his desert no other proof,
To be Jove's brother is methinks enough.
Nor was my throne by worth superior got,
Heav'n fell to me, as Hell to him, by lot:
If you are still resolv'd her loss to mourn,
And nothing less will serve than her return;
Upon these terms she may again be yours
(Th' irrevocable terms of fate, not ours),
Of Stygian food if she did never taste,
Hell's bounds may then, and only then, be past.
The The Goddess now, resolving to succeed,
Transformation Down to the gloomy shades descends with speed;
of Ascalaphus But adverse fate had otherwise decreed.
into an Owl For, long before, her giddy thoughtless child
Had broke her fast, and all her projects spoil'd.
As in the garden's shady walk she stray'd,
A fair pomegranate charm'd the simple maid,
Hung in her way, and tempting her to taste,
She pluck'd the fruit, and took a short repast.
Seven times, a seed at once, she eat the food;
The fact Ascalaphus had only view'd;
Whom Acheron begot in Stygian shades
On Orphne, fam'd among Avernal maids;
He saw what past, and by discov'ring all,
Detain'd the ravish'd nymph in cruel thrall.
But now a queen, she with resentment heard,
And chang'd the vile informer to a bird.
In Phlegeton's black stream her hand she dips,
Sprinkles his head, and wets his babling lips.
Soon on his face, bedropt with magick dew,
A change appear'd, and gawdy feathers grew.
A crooked beak the place of nose supplies,
Rounder his head, and larger are his eyes.
His arms and body waste, but are supply'd
With yellow pinions flagging on each side.
His nails grow crooked, and are turn'd to claws,
And lazily along his heavy wings he draws.
Ill-omen'd in his form, the unlucky fowl,
Abhorr'd by men, and call'd a scrieching owl.
The Daughters Justly this punishment was due to him,
of Achelous And less had been too little for his crime;
transform'd to But, o ye nymphs that from the flood descend,
Sirens What fault of yours the Gods cou'd so offend,
With wings and claws your beauteous forms to spoil,
Yet save your maiden face, and winning smile?
Were you not with her in Pergusa's bow'rs,
When Proserpine went forth to gather flow'rs?
Since Pluto in his carr the Goddess caught,
Have you not for her in each climate sought?
And when on land you long had search'd in vain,
You wish'd for wings to cross the pathless main;
That Earth and Sea might witness to your care:
The Gods were easy, and return'd your pray'r;
With golden wing o'er foamy waves you fled,
And to the sun your plumy glories spread.
But, lest the soft enchantment of your songs,
And the sweet musick of your flat'ring tongues
Shou'd quite be lost (as courteous fates ordain),
Your voice and virgin beauty still remain.
Jove some amends for Ceres lost to make,
Yet willing Pluto shou'd the joy partake,
Gives 'em of Proserpine an equal share,
Who, claim'd by both, with both divides the year.
The Goddess now in either empire sways,
Six moons in Hell, and six with Ceres stays.
Her peevish temper's chang'd; that sullen mind,
Which made ev'n Hell uneasy, now is kind,
Her voice refines, her mein more sweet appears,
Her forehead free from frowns, her eyes from tears,
As when, with golden light, the conqu'ring day
Thro' dusky exhalations clears a way.
Ceres her daughter's rape no longer mourn'd,
But back to Arethusa's spring return'd;
And sitting on the margin, bid her tell
From whence she came, and why a sacred well.
The Story of Still were the purling waters, and the maid
Arethusa From the smooth surface rais'd her beauteous head,
Wipes off the drops that from her tresses ran,
And thus to tell Alpheus' loves began.
In Elis first I breath'd the living air,
The chase was all my pleasure, all my care.
None lov'd like me the forest to explore,
To pitch the toils, and drive the bristled boar.
Of fair, tho' masculine, I had the name,
But gladly wou'd to that have quitted claim:
It less my pride than indignation rais'd,
To hear the beauty I neglected, prais'd;
Such compliments I loath'd, such charms as these
I scorn'd, and thought it infamy to please.
Once, I remember, in the summer's heat,
Tir'd with the chase, I sought a cool retreat;
And, walking on, a silent current found,
Which gently glided o'er the grav'ly ground.
The chrystal water was so smooth, so clear,
My eye distinguish'd ev'ry pebble there.
So soft its motion, that I scarce perceiv'd
The running stream, or what I saw believ'd.
The hoary willow, and the poplar, made
Along the shelving bank a grateful shade.
In the cool rivulet my feet I dipt,
Then waded to the knee, and then I stript;
My robe I careless on an osier threw,
That near the place commodiously grew;
Nor long upon the border naked stood,
But plung'd with speed into the silver flood.
My arms a thousand ways I mov'd, and try'd
To quicken, if I cou'd, the lazy tide;
Where, while I play'd my swimming gambols o'er,
I heard a murm'ring voice, and frighted sprung to
Oh! whither, Arethusa, dost thou fly?
From the brook's bottom did Alpheus cry;
Again, I heard him, in a hollow tone,
Oh! whither, Arethusa, dost thou run?
Naked I flew, nor cou'd I stay to hide
My limbs, my robe was on the other side;
Alpheus follow'd fast, th' inflaming sight
Quicken'd his speed, and made his labour light;
He sees me ready for his eager arms,
And with a greedy glance devours my charms.
As trembling doves from pressing danger fly,
When the fierce hawk comes sousing from the sky;
And, as fierce hawks the trembling doves pursue,
From him I fled, and after me he flew.
First by Orchomenus I took my flight,
And soon had Psophis and Cyllene in sight;
Behind me then high Maenalus I lost,
And craggy Erimanthus scal'd with frost;
Elis was next; thus far the ground I trod
With nimble feet, before the distanc'd God.
But here I lagg'd, unable to sustain
The labour longer, and my flight maintain;
While he more strong, more patient of the toil,
And fir'd with hopes of beauty's speedy spoil,
Gain'd my lost ground, and by redoubled pace,
Now left between us but a narrow space.
Unweary'd I 'till now o'er hills, and plains,
O'er rocks, and rivers ran, and felt no pains:
The sun behind me, and the God I kept,
But, when I fastest shou'd have run, I stept.
Before my feet his shadow now appear'd;
As what I saw, or rather what I fear'd.
Yet there I could not be deceiv'd by fear,
Who felt his breath pant on my braided hair,
And heard his sounding tread, and knew him to be
Tir'd, and despairing, O celestial maid,
I'm caught, I cry'd, without thy heav'nly aid.
Help me, Diana, help a nymph forlorn,
Devoted to the woods, who long has worn
Thy livery, and long thy quiver born.
The Goddess heard; my pious pray'r prevail'd;
In muffling clouds my virgin head was veil'd,
The am'rous God, deluded of his hopes,
Searches the gloom, and thro' the darkness gropes;
Twice, where Diana did her servant hide
He came, and twice, O Arethusa! cry'd.
How shaken was my soul, how sunk my heart!
The terror seiz'd on ev'ry trembling part.
Thus when the wolf about the mountain prowls
For prey, the lambkin hears his horrid howls:
The tim'rous hare, the pack approaching nigh,
Thus hearkens to the hounds, and trembles at the
Nor dares she stir, for fear her scented breath
Direct the dogs, and guide the threaten'd death.
Alpheus in the cloud no traces found
To mark my way, yet stays to guard the ground,
The God so near, a chilly sweat possest
My fainting limbs, at ev'ry pore exprest;
IX. Juris Doctor Johannes-Baptista Bottinius, Fisci et Rev. Cam. Apostol. Advocatus
Had I God's leave, how I would alter things!
If I might read instead of print my speech,—
Ay, and enliven speech with many a flower
Refuses obstinate to blow in print,
As wildings planted in a prim parterre,—
This scurvy room were turned an immense hall;
Opposite, fifty judges in a row;
This side and that of me, for audience—Rome:
And, where yon window is, the Pope should hide—
Watch, curtained, but peep visibly enough.
A buzz of expectation! Through the crowd,
Jingling his chain and stumping with his staff,
Up comes an usher, louts him low, "The Court
"Requires the allocution of the Fisc!"
I rise, I bend, I look about me, pause
O'er the hushed multitude: I count—One, two—
Have ye seen, Judges, have ye, lights of law,—
When it may hap some painter, much in vogue
Throughout our city nutritive of arts,
Ye summon to a task shall test his worth,
And manufacture, as he knows and can,
A work may decorate a palace-wall,
Afford my lords their Holy Family,—
Hath it escaped the acumen of the Court
How such a painter sets himself to paint?
Suppose that Joseph, Mary and her Babe
A-journeying to Egypt, prove the piece:
Why, first he sedulously practiseth,
This painter,—girding loin and lighting lamp,—
On what may nourish eye, make facile hand;
Getteth him studies (styled by draughtsmen so)
From some assistant corpse of Jew or Turk
Or, haply, Molinist, he cuts and carves,—
This Luca or this Carlo or the like.
To him the bones their inmost secret yield,
Each notch and nodule signify their use:
On him the muscles turn, in triple tier,
And pleasantly entreat the entrusted man
"Familiarize thee with our play that lifts
"Thus, and thus lowers again, leg, arm and foot!"
—Ensuring due correctness in the nude.
Which done, is all done? Not a whit, ye know!
He,—to art's surface rising from her depth,—
If some flax-polled soft-bearded sire be found,
May simulate a Joseph, (happy chance!)—
Limneth exact each wrinkle of the brow,
Loseth no involution, cheek or chap,
Till lo, in black and white, the senior lives!
Is it a young and comely peasant-nurse
That poseth? (be the phrase accorded me!)
Each feminine delight of florid lip,
Eyes brimming o'er and brow bowed down with love,
Marmoreal neck and bosom uberous,—
Glad on the paper in a trice they go
To help his notion of the Mother-maid:
Methinks I see it, chalk a little stumped!
Yea and her babe—that flexure of soft limbs,
That budding face imbued with dewy sleep,
Contribute each an excellence to Christ.
Nay, since he humbly lent companionship,
Even the poor ass, unpanniered and elate
Stands, perks an ear up, he a model too;
While clouted shoon, staff, scrip and water-groud,—
Aught may betoken travel, heat and haste,—
No jot nor tittle of these but in its turn
Ministers to perfection of the piece:
Till now, such piece before him, part by part,—
Such prelude ended,—pause our painter may,
Submit his fifty studies one by one,
And in some sort boast "I have served my lords."
But what? And hath he painted once this while?
Or when ye cry "Produce the thing required,
"Show us our picture shall rejoice its niche,
"Thy Journey through the Desert done in oils!"—
What, doth he fall to shuffling 'mid his sheets,
Fumbling for first this, then the other fact
Consigned to paper,—"studies," bear the term!—
And stretch a canvas, mix a pot of paste,
And fasten here a head and there a tail,
(The ass hath one, my Judges!) so dove-tail
Or, rather, ass-tail in, piece sorrily out—
By bits of reproduction of the life—
The picture, the expected Family?
I trow not! do I miss with my conceit
The mark, my lords?—not so my lords were served!
Rather your artist turns abrupt from these,
And preferably buries him and broods
(Quite away from aught vulgar and extern)
On the inner spectrum, filtered through the eye,
His brain-deposit, bred of many a drop,
E pluribus unum: and the wiser he!
For in that brain,—their fancy sees at work,
Could my lords peep indulged,—results alone,
Not processes which nourish such results,
Would they discover and appreciate,—life
Fed by digestion, not raw food itself,
No gobbets but smooth comfortable chyme
Secreted from each snapped-up crudity,—
Less distinct, part by part, but in the whole
Truer to the subject,—the main central truth
And soul o' the picture, would my Judges spy,—
Not those mere fragmentary studied facts
Which answer to the outward frame and flesh—
Not this nose, not that eyebrow, the other fact
Of man's staff, woman's stole or infant's clout,
But lo, a spirit-birth conceived of flesh,
Truth rare and real, not transcripts, fact and false.
The studies—for his pupils and himself!
The picture be for our eximious Rome
And—who knows?—satisfy its Governor,
Whose new wing to the villa he hath bought
(God give him joy of it) by Capena, soon
('T is bruited) shall be glowing with the brush
Of who hath long surpassed the Florentine,
The Urbinate and … what if I dared add,
Even his master, yea the Cortonese,—
I mean the accomplished Ciro Ferri, Sirs!
(—Did not he die? I'll see before I print.)
End we exordium, Phoebus plucks my ear!
Thus then, just so and no whit otherwise,
Have I,—engaged as I were Ciro's self,
To paint a parallel, a Family,
The patriarch Pietro with his wise old wife
To boot (as if one introduced Saint Anne
By bold conjecture to complete the group)
And juvenile Pompilia with her babe,
Who, seeking safety in the wilderness,
Were all surprised by Herod, while outstretched
In sleep beneath a palm-tree by a spring,
And killed—the very circumstance I paint,
Moving the pity and terror of my lords—
Exactly so have I, a month at least,
Your Fiscal, made me cognizant of facts,
Searched out, pried into, pressed the meaning forth
Of every piece of evidence in point,
How bloody Herod slew these innocents,—
Until the glad result is gained, the group
Demonstrably presented in detail,
Their slumber and his onslaught,—like as life.
Yea and, availing me of help allowed
By law, discreet provision lest my lords
Be too much troubled by effrontery,—
The rack, law plies suspected crime withal—
(Law that hath listened while the lyrist sang
"Lene tormentum ingenio admoves,"
Gently thou joggest by a twinge the wit,
"Plerumque duro," else were slow to blab!)
Through this concession my full cup runs o'er:
The guilty owns his guilt without reserve.
Therefore by part and part I clutch my case
Which, in entirety now,—momentous task,—
My lords demand, so render them I must,
Since, one poor pleading more and I have done.
But shall I ply my papers, play my proofs,
Parade my studies, fifty in a row,
As though the Court were yet in pupilage,
Claimed not the artist's ultimate appeal?
Much rather let me soar the height prescribed
And, bowing low, proffer my picture's self!
No more of proof, disproof,—such virtue was,
Such vice was never in Pompilia, now!
Far better say "Behold Pompilia!"—(for
I leave the family as unmanageable,
And stick to just one portrait, but life-size.)
Hath calumny imputed to the fair
A blemish, mole on cheek or wart on chin,
Much more, blind hidden horrors best unnamed?
Shall I descend to prove you, point by point,
Never was knock-knee known nor splay-foot found
In Phryne? (I must let the portrait go,
Content me with the model, I believe)—
—I prove this? An indignant sweep of hand,
Dash at and doing away with drapery,
And,—use your eyes, Athenians, smooth she smiles!
Or,—since my client can no longer smile,
And more appropriate instances abound,—
What is this Tale of Tarquin, how the slave
Was caught by him, preferred to Collatine?
Thou, even from thy corpse-clothes virginal,
Look'st the lie dead, Lucretia!
Thus at least
I, by the guidance of antiquity,
(Our one infallible guide) now operate,
Sure that the innocence thus shown is safe;
Sure, too, that, while I plead, the echoes cry
(Lend my weak voice thy trump, sonorous Fame!)
"Monstrosity the Phrynean shape shall mar,
"Lucretia's soul comport with Tarquin's lie,
"When thistles grow on vines or thorns yield figs,
"Or oblique sentence leave this judgment-seat!"
A great theme: may my strength be adequate!
For—paint Pompilia, dares my feebleness?
How did I unaware engage so much
—Find myself undertaking to produce
A faultless nature in a flawless form?
What's here? Oh, turn aside nor dare the blaze
Of such a crown, such constellation, say,
As jewels here thy front, Humanity!
First, infancy, pellucid as a pearl;
Then childhood—stone which, dew-drop at the first,
(An old conjecture) sucks, by dint of gaze,
Blue from the sky and turns to sapphire so:
Yet both these gems eclipsed by, last and best,
Womanliness and wifehood opaline,
Its milk-white pallor,—chastity,—suffused
With here and there a tint and hint of flame,—
Desire,—the lapidary loves to find.
Such jewels bind conspicuously thy brow,
Pompilia, infant, child, maid, woman, wife—
Crown the ideal in our earth at last!
What should a faculty like mine do here?
Close eyes, or else, the rashlier hurry hand!
Which is to say,—lose no time but begin!
Sermocinando ne declamem, Sirs,
Ultra clepsydram, as our preachers smile,
Lest I exceed my hour-glass. Whereupon,
As Flaccus prompts, I dare the epic plunge—
Begin at once with marriage, up till when
Little or nothing would arrest your love,
In the easeful life o' the lady; lamb and lamb,
How do they differ? Know one, you know all
Manners of maidenhood: mere maiden she.
And since all lambs are like in more than fleece,
Prepare to find that, lamb-like, she too frisks—
O' the weaker sex, my lords, the weaker sex!
To whom, the Teian teaches us, for gift,
Not strength,—man's dower,—but beauty, nature gave,
"Beauty in lieu of spears, in lieu of shields!"
And what is beauty's sure concomitant,
Nay, intimate essential character,
But melting wiles, deliciousest deceits,
The whole redoubted armoury of love?
Therefore of vernal pranks, dishevellings
O' the hair of youth that dances April in,
And easily-imagined Hebe-slips
O'er sward which May makes over-smooth for foot—
These shall we pry into?—or wiselier wink,
Though numerous and dear they may have been?
For lo, advancing Hymen and his pomp!
Discedunt nunc amores, loves, farewell!
Maneat amor, let love, the sole, remain!
Farewell to dewiness and prime of life!
Remains the rough determined day: dance done,
To work, with plough and harrow! What comes next?
'T is Guido henceforth guides Pompilia's step,
Cries "No more friskings o'er the foodful glebe,
"Else, 'ware the whip!" Accordingly,—first crack
O' the thong,—we hear that his young wife was barred,
Cohibita fuit, from the old free life,
Vitam liberiorem ducere.
Demur we? Nowise: heifer brave the hind?
We seek not there should lapse the natural law,
The proper piety to lord and king
And husband: let the heifer bear the yoke!
Only, I crave he cast not patience off,
This hind; for deem you she endures the whip,
Nor winces at the goad, nay, restive, kicks?
What if the adversary's charge be just,
And all untowardly she pursue her way
With groan and grunt, though hind strike ne'er so hard?
If petulant remonstrance made appeal,
Importunate challenge taxed the public ear
When silence more decorously had served
For protestation,—if Pompilian plaint
Wrought but to aggravate Guidonian ire,—
Why, such mishaps, ungainly though they be,
Ever companion change, are incident
To altered modes and novelty of life:
The philosophic mind expects no less,
Smilingly knows and names the crisis, sits
Waiting till old things go and new arrive.
Therefore, I hold a husband but inept
Who turns impatient at such transit-time,
As if this running from the rod would last!
Since, even while I speak, the end is reached:
Success awaits the soon-disheartened man.
The parents turn their backs and leave the house,
The wife may wail but none shall intervene:
He hath attained his object, groom and bride
Partake the nuptial bower no soul can see,
Old things are passed and all again is new,
Over and gone the obstacles to peace,
Novorum—tenderly the Mantuan turns
The expression, some such purpose in his eye—
Nascitur ordo! Every storm is laid,
And forth from plain each pleasant herb may peep,
Each bloom of wifehood in abeyance late:
(Confer a passage in the Canticles.)
But what if, as 't is wont with plant and wife,
Flowers,—after a suppression to good end,
Still, when they do spring forth,—sprout here, spread there,
Anywhere likelier than beneath the foot
O' the lawful good-man gardener of the ground?
He dug and dibbled, sowed and watered,—still
'T is a chance wayfarer shall pluck the increase.
Just so, respecting persons not too much,
The lady, foes allege, put forth each charm
And proper floweret of feminity
To whosoever had a nose to smell
Or breast to deck: what if the charge be true?
The fault were graver had she looked with choice,
Fastidiously appointed who should grasp,
Who, in the whole town, go without the prize!
To nobody she destined donative,
But, first come was first served, the accuser saith.
Put case her sort of … in this kind … escapes
Were many and oft and indiscriminate—
Impute ye as the action were prepense,
The gift particular, arguing malice so?
Which butterfly of the wide air shall brag
"I was preferred to Guido"—when 't is clear
The cup, he quaffs at, lay with olent breast
Open to gnat, midge, bee and moth as well?
One chalice entertained the company;
And if its peevish lord object the more,
Mistake, misname such bounty in a wife,
Haste we to advertise him—charm of cheek,
Lustre of eye, allowance of the lip,
All womanly components in a spouse,
These are no household-bread each stranger's bite
Leaves by so much diminished for the mouth
O' the master of the house at supper-time:
But rather like a lump of spice they lie,
Morsel of myrrh, which scents the neighbourhood
Yet greets its lord no lighter by a grain.
Nay, even so, he shall be satisfied!
Concede we there was reason in his wrong,
Grant we his grievance and content the man!
For lo, Pompilia, she submits herself;
Ere three revolving years have crowned their course,
Off and away she puts this same reproach
Of lavish bounty, inconsiderate gift
O' the sweets of wifehood stored to other ends:
No longer shall he blame "She none excludes,"
But substitute "She laudably sees all,
"Searches the best out and selects the same."
For who is here, long sought and latest found,
Waiting his turn unmoved amid the whirl,
"Constans in levitate,"—Ha, my lords?
Calm in his levity,—indulge the quip!—
Since 't is a levite bears the bell away,
Parades him henceforth as Pompilia's choice.
'T is no ignoble object, husband! Doubt'st?
When here comes tripping Flaccus with his phrase
"Trust me, no miscreant singled from the mob,
"Crede non illum tibi de scelesta
"Plebe delectum," but a man of mark,
A priest, dost hear? Why then, submit thyself!
Priest, ay and very phoenix of such fowl,
Well-born, of culture, young and vigorous,
Comely too, since precise the precept points—
On the selected levite be there found
Nor mole nor scar nor blemish, lest the mind
Come all uncandid through the thwarting flesh!
Was not the son of Jesse ruddy, sleek,
Pleasant to look on, pleasant every way?
Since well he smote the harp and sweetly sang,
And danced till Abigail came out to see,
And seeing smiled and smiling ministered
The raisin-cluster and the cake of figs,
With ready meal refreshed the gifted youth,
Till Nabal, who was absent shearing sheep,
Felt heart sink, took to bed (discreetly done—
They might have been beforehand with him else)
And died—woudl Guido have behaved as well!
But ah, the faith of early days is gone,
Heu prisca fides! Nothing died in him
Save courtesy, good sense and proper trust,
Which, when they ebb from souls they should o'erflow,
Discover stub, weed, sludge and ugliness.
(The Pope, we know, is Neapolitan
And relishes a sea-side simile.)
Deserted by each charitable wave,
Guido, left high and dry, shows jealous now!
Jealous avouched, paraded: tax the fool
With any peccadillo, he responds
"Truly I beat my wife through jealousy,
"Imprisoned her and punished otherwise,
"Being jealous: now would threaten, sword in hand,
"Now manage to mix poison in her sight,
"And so forth: jealously I dealt, in fine."
Concede thus much, and what remains to prove?
Have I to teach my masters what effect
Hath jealousy, and how, befooling men,
It makes false true, abuses eye and ear,
Turns mere mist adamantine, loads with sound
Silence, and into void and vacancy
Crowds a whole phalanx of conspiring foes?
Therefore who owns "I watched with jealousy
"My wife," adds "for no reason in the world!"
What need that, thus proved madman, he remark
"The thing I thought a serpent proved an eel"?—
Perchance the right Comacchian, six foot length,
And not an inch too long for that rare pie
(Master Arcangeli has heard of such)
Whose succulence makes fasting bearable;
Meant to regale some moody splenetic
Who, pleasing to mistake the donor's gift,
Spying I know not what Lernæan snake
I' the luscious Lenten creature, stamps forsooth
The dainty in the dust.
Such lunes announced, for downright lunacy!
Insanit homo, threat succeeds to threat,
And blow redoubles blow,—his wife, the block.
But, if a block, shall not she jar the hand
That buffets her? The injurious idle stone
Rebounds and hits the head of him who flung.
Causeless rage breeds, i' the wife now, rageful cause,
Tyranny wakes rebellion from its sleep.
Rebellion, say I?—rather, self-defence,
Laudable wish to live and see good days,
Pricks our Pompilia now to fly the fool
By any means, at any price,—nay, more,
Nay, most of all, i' the very interest
O' the fool that, baffled of his blind desire
At any price, were truliest victor so.
Shall he effect his crime and lose his soul?
No, dictates duty to a loving wife!
Far better that the unconsummate blow,
Adroitly baulked by her, should back again,
Correctively admonish his own pate!
Crime then,—the Court is with me?—she must crush:
How crush it? By all efficacious means;
And these,—why, what in woman should they be?
"With horns the bull, with teeth the lion fights;
"To woman," quoth the lyrist quoted late,
"Nor teeth, nor horns, but beauty, Nature gave.
Pretty i' the Pagan! Who dares blame the use
Of armoury thus allowed for natural,—
Exclaim against a seeming-dubious play
O' the sole permitted weapon, spear and shield
Alike, resorted to i' the circumstance
By poor Pompilia? Grant she somewhat piled
Arts that allure, the magic nod and wink,
The witchery of gesture, spell of word,
Whereby the likelier to enlist this friend,
Yea stranger, as a champion on her side?
Such man, being but mere man, ('t was all she knew),
Must be made sure by beauty's silken bond,
The weakness that subdues the strong, and bows
Wisdom alike and folly. Grant the tale
O' the husband, which is false, were proved and true
To the letter—or the letters, I should say,
Abominations he professed to find
And fix upon Pompilia and the priest,—
Allow them hers—for though she could not write,
In early days of Eve-like innocence
That plucked no apple from the knowledge-tree,
Yet, at the Serpent's word, Eve plucks and eats
And knows—especially how to read and write:
And so Pompilia,—as the move o' the maw,
Quoth Persius, makes a parrot bid "Good day!"
A crow salute the concave, and a pie
Endeavour at proficiency in speech,—
So she, through hunger after fellowship,
May well have learned, though late, to play the scribe:
As indeed, there's one letter on the list
Explicitly declares did happen here.
"You thought my letters could be none of mine,"
She tells her parents—"mine, who wanted skill;
"But now I have the skill, and write, you see!"
She needed write love-letters, so she learned,
"Negatas artifex sequi voces"—though
This letter nowise 'scapes the common lot,
But lies i' the condemnation of the rest,
Found by the husband's self who forged them all.
Yet, for the sacredness of argument,
For this once an exemption shall it plead—
Anything, anything to let the wheels
Of argument run glibly to their goal!
Concede she wrote (which were preposterous)
This and the other epistle,—what of it?
Where does the figment touch her candid fame?
Being in peril of her life—"my life,
"Not an hour's purchase," as the letter runs,—
And having but one stay in this extreme,
Out of the wide world but a single friend—
What could she other than resort to him,
And how with any hope resort but thus?
Shall modesty dare bid a stranger brave
Danger, disgrace, nay death in her behalf—
Think to entice the sternness of the steel
Yet spare love's loadstone moving manly mind?
—Most of all, when such mind is hampered so
By growth of circumstance athwart the life
O' the natural man, that decency forbids
He stoop and take the common privilege,
Say frank "I love," as all the vulgar do.
A man is wedded to philosophy,
Married to statesmanship; a man is old;
A man is fettered by the foolishness
He took for wisdom and talked ten years since;
A man is, like our friend the Canon here,
A priest, and wicked if he break his vow:
Shall he dare love, who may be Pope one day?
Despite the coil of such encumbrance here,
Suppose this man could love, unhappily,
And would love, dared he only let love show!
In case the woman of his love, speaks first,
From what embarrassment she sets him free!
"'T is I who break reserve, begin appeal,
"Confess that, whether you love me or no,
"I love you!" What an ease to dignity,
What help of pride from the hard high-backed chair
Down to the carpet where the kittens bask,
All under the pretence of gratitude!
From all which, I deduce—the lady here
Was bound to proffer nothing short of love
To the priest whose service was to save her. What?
Shall she propose him lucre, dust o' the mine,
Rubbish o' the rock, some diamond, muckworms prize,
Some pearl secreted by a sickly fish?
Scarcely! She caters for a generous taste.
'T is love shall beckon, beauty bid to breast,
Till all the Samson sink into the snare!
Because, permit the end—permit therewith
Means to the end!
How say you, good my lords?
I hope you heard my adversary ring
The changes on this precept: now, let me
Reverse the peal! Quia dato licito fine,
Ad illum assequendum ordinata
Non sunt damnanda media,—licit end
Enough was found in mere escape from death,
To legalize our means illicit else
Of feigned love, false allurement, fancied fact.
Thus Venus losing Cupid on a day,
(See that Idyllium Moschi) seeking help,
In the anxiety of motherhood,
Allowably promised "Who shall bring report
"Where he is wandered to, my winged babe,
"I give him for reward a nectared kiss;
"But who brings safely back the truant's self,
"His be a super-sweet makes kiss seem cold!"
Are not these things writ for example-sake?
To such permitted motive, then, refer
All those professions, else were hard explain,
Of hope, fear, jealousy, and the rest of love!
He is Myrtillus, Amaryllis she,
She burns, he freezes,—all a mere device
To catch and keep the man, may save her life,
Whom otherwise nor catches she nor keeps!
Worst, once, turns best now: in all faith, she feigns:
Feigning,—the liker innocence to guilt,
The truer to the life in what she feigns!
How if Ulysses,—when, for public good
He sunk particular qualms and played the spy,
Entered Troy's hostile gate in beggar's garb—
How if he first had boggled at this clout,
Grown dainty o'er that clack-dish? Grime is grace
To whoso gropes amid the dung for gold.
Hence, beyond promises, we praise each proof
That promise was not simply made to break,
Mere moonshine-structure meant to fade at dawn:
We praise, as consequent and requisite,
What, enemies allege, were more than words,
Deeds—meetings at the window, twilight-trysts,
Nocturnal entertainments in the dim
Old labyrinthine palace; lies, we know—
Inventions we, long since, turned inside out.
Must such external semblance of intrigue
Demonstrate that intrigue there lurks perdue?
Does every hazel-sheath disclose a nut?
He were a Molinist who dared maintain
That midnight meetings in a screened alcove
Must argue folly in a matron—since
So would he bring a slur on Judith's self,
Commended beyond women, that she lured
The lustful to destruction through his lust.
Pompilia took not Judith's liberty,
No faulchion find you in her hand to smite,
No damsel to convey in dish the head
Of Holophernes,—style the Canon so—
Or is it the Count? If I entangle me
With my similitudes,—if wax wings melt,
And earthward down I drop, not mine the fault:
Blame your beneficence, O Court, O sun,
Whereof the beamy smile affects my flight!
What matter, so Pompilia's fame revive
I' the warmth that proves the bane of Icarus?
Yea, we have shown it lawful, necessary
Pompilia leave her husband, seek the house
O' the parents: and because 'twixt home and home
Lies a long road with many a danger rife,
Lions by the way and serpents in the path,
To rob and ravish,—much behoves she keep
Each shadow of suspicion from fair fame,
For her own sake much, but for his sake more,
The ingrate husband's. Evidence shall be,
Plain witness to the world how white she walks
I' the mire she wanders through ere Rome she reach.
And who so proper witness as a priest?
Gainsay ye? Let me hear who dares gainsay!
I hope we still can punish heretics!
"Give me the man" I say with him of Gath,
"That we may fight together!" None, I think:
The priest is granted me.
Then, if a priest,
One juvenile and potent: else, mayhap,
That dragon, our Saint George would slay, slays him.
And should fair face accompany strong hand,
The more complete equipment: nothing mars
Work, else praiseworthy, like a bodily flaw
I' the worker: as 't is said Saint Paul himself
Deplored the check o' the puny presence, still
Cheating his fulmination of its flash,
Albeit the bolt therein went true to oak.
Therefore the agent, as prescribed, she takes,—
Both juvenile and potent, handsome too,—
In all obedience: "good," you grant again.
Do you? I would you were the husband, lords!
How prompt and facile might departure be!
How boldly would Pompilia and the priest
March out of door, spread flag at beat of drum,
But that inapprehensive Guido grants
Neither premiss nor yet conclusion here,
And, purblind, dreads a bear in every bush!
For his own quietude and comfort, then,
Means must be found for flight in masquerade
At hour when all things sleep.—"Save jealousy!"
Right, Judges! Therefore shall the lady's wit
Supply the boon thwart nature baulks him of,
And do him service with the potent drug
(Helen's nepenthe, as my lords opine)
Which respites blessedly each fretted nerve
O' the much-enduring man: accordingly,
There lies he, duly dosed and sound asleep,
Relieved of woes or real or raved about.
While soft she leaves his side, he shall not wake;
Nor stop who steals away to join her friend,
Nor do him mischief should he catch that friend
Intent on more than friendly office,—nay,
Nor get himself raw head and bones laid bare
In payment of his apparition!
Would I defend the step,—were the thing true
Which is a fable,—see my former speech,—
That Guido slept (who never slept a wink)
Through treachery, an opiate from his wife,
Who not so much as knew what opiates mean.
Now she may start: or hist,—a stoppage still!
A journey is an enterprise of cost!
As in campaigns, we fight but others pay,
Suis expensis, nemo militat.
'T is Guido's self we guard from accident,
Ensuring safety to Pompilia, versed
Nowise in misadventures by the way,
Hard riding and rough quarters, the rude fare,
The unready host, What magic mitigates
Each plague of travel to the unpractised wife?
Money, sweet Sirs! And were the fiction fact
She helped herself thereto with liberal hand
From out her husband's store,—what fitter use
Was ever husband's money destined to?
With bag and baggage thus did Dido once
Decamp,—for more authority, a queen!
So is she fairly on her route at last,
Prepared for either fortune: nay and if
The priest, now all a-glow with enterprise,
Cool somewhat presently when fades the flush
O' the first adventure, clouded o'er belike
By doubts, misgivings how the day may die,
Though born with such auroral brilliance,—if
The brow seem over pensive and the lip
'Gin lag and lose the prattle lightsome late,—
Vanquished by tedium of a prolonged jaunt
In a close carriage o'er a jolting road,
With only one young female substitute
For seventeen other Canons of ripe age
Were wont to keep him company in church,—
Shall not Pompilia haste to dissipate
The silent cloud that, gathering, bodes her bale?—
Prop the irresoluteness may portend
Suspension of the project, check the flight,
Bring ruin on them both? Use every means,
Since means to the end are lawful! What i' the way
Of wile should have allowance like a kiss
Sagely and sisterly administered,
Sororia saltem oscula? We find
Such was the remedy her wit applied
To each incipient scruple of the priest,
If we believe,—as, while my wit is mine
I cannot,—what the driver testifies,
Borsi, called Venerino, the mere tool
Of Guido and his friend the Governor,—
Avowal I proved wrung from out the wretch,
After long rotting in imprisonment,
As price of liberty and favour: long
They tempted, he at last succumbed, and lo
Counted them out full tale each kiss and more,
"The journey being one long embrace," quoth he.
Still, though we should believe the driver's lie,
Nor even admit as probable excuse,
Right reading of the riddle,—as I urged
In my first argument, with fruit perhaps—
That what the owl-like eyes (at back of head!)
O' the driver, drowsed by driving night and day,
Supposed a vulgar interchange of lips,
This was but innocent jog of head 'gainst head,
Cheek meeting jowl as apple may touch pear
From branch and branch contiguous in the wind,
When Autumn blusters and the orchard rocks:—
That rapid run and the rough road were cause
O' the casual ambiguity, no harm
I' the world to eyes awake and penetrative.
Say,—not to grasp a truth I can release
And safely fight without, yet conquer still,—
Say, she kissed him, say, he kissed her again!
Such osculation was a potent means,
A very efficacious help, no doubt:
Such with a third part of her nectar did
Venus imbue: why should Pompilia fling
The poet's declaration in his teeth?—
Pause to employ what,—since it had success,
And kept the priest her servant to the end,—
We must presume of energy enough,
No whit superfluous, so permissible?
The goal is gained: day, night and yet a day
Have run their round: a long and devious road
Is traversed,—many manners, various men
Passed in view, what cities did they see,
What hamlets mark, what profitable food
For after-meditation cull and store!
Till Rome, that Rome whereof—this voice
Would it might make our Molinists observe,
That she is built upon a rock nor shall
Their powers prevail against her!—Rome, I say,
Is all but reached; one stage more and they stop
Saved: pluck up heart, ye pair, and forward, then!
Ah, Nature—baffled she recurs, alas!
Nature imperiously exacts her due,
Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak:
Pompilia needs must acquiesce and swoon,
Give hopes alike and fears a breathing-while.
The innocent sleep soundly: sound she sleeps,
So let her slumber, then, unguarded save
By her own chastity, a triple mail,
And his good hand whose stalwart arms have borne
The sweet and senseless burthen like a babe
From coach to coach,—the serviceable strength!
Nay, what and if he gazed rewardedly
On the pale beauty prisoned in embrace,
Stooped over, stole a balmy breath perhaps
For more assurance sleep was not decease—
"Ut vidi," "how I saw!" succeeded by
"Ut perii," "how I sudden lost my brains!"
—What harm ensued to her unconscious quite?
For, curiosity—how natural!
Importunateness—what a privilege
In the ardent sex! And why curb ardour here?
How can the priest but pity whom he saved?
And pity is so near to love, and love
So neighbourly to all unreasonableness!
As to love's object, whether love were sage
Or foolish, could Pompilia know or care,
Being still sound asleep, as I premised?
Thus the philosopher absorbed by thought,
Even Archimedes, busy o'er a book
The while besiegers sacked his Syracuse,
Was ignorant of the imminence o' the point
O' the sword till it surprised him: let it stab,
And never knew himself was dead at all.
So sleep thou on, secure whate'er betide!
For thou, too, hast thy problem hard to solve-
How so much beauty is compatible
With so much innocence!
Fit place, methinks,
While in this task she rosily is lost,
To treat of and repel objection here
Which,—frivolous, I grant,—my mind misgives,
May somehow still have flitted, gadfly-like,
And teased the Court at times—as if, all said
And done, there seemed, the Court might nearly say,
In a certain acceptation, somewhat more
Of what may pass for insincerity,
Falsehood, throughout the course Pompilia took,
Than befits Christian. Pagans held, we know,
Man always ought to aim at good and truth,
Not always put one thing in the same words:
Non idem semper dicere sed spectare
Debemus. But the Pagan yoke was light;
"Lie not at all," the exacter precept bids:
Each least lie breaks the law,—is sin, we hold.
I humble me, but venture to submit—
What prevents sin, itself is sinless, sure:
And sin, which hinders sin of deeper dye,
Softens itself away by contrast so.
Conceive me! Little sin, by none at all,
Were properly condemned for great: but great,
By greater, dwindles into small again.
Now, what is greatest sin of womanhood?
That which unwomans it, abolishes
The nature of the woman,—impudence.
Who contradicts me here? Concede me, then,
Whatever friendly fault may interpose
To save the sex from self-abolishment
Is three-parts on the way to virtue's rank!
And, what is taxed here as duplicity,
Feint, wile and trick,—admitted for the nonce,—
What worse do one and all than interpose,
Hold, as it were, a deprecating hand,
Statuesquely, in the Medicean mode,
Before some shame which modesty would veil?
Who blames the gesture prettily perverse?
Thus,—lest ye miss a point illustrative,—
Admit the husband's calumny—allow
That the wife, having penned the epistle fraught
With horrors, charge on charge of crime she heaped
O' the head of Pietro and Violante—(still
Presumed her parents)—having despatched the same
To their arch-enemy Paolo, through free choice
And no sort of compulsion in the world—
Put case she next discards simplicity
For craft, denies the voluntary act,
Declares herself a passive instrument
I' the husband's hands; that, duped by knavery,
She traced the characters she could not write,
And took on trust the unread sense which, read,
And recognized were to be spurned at once:
Allow this calumny, I reiterate!
Who is so dull as wonder at the pose
Of our Pompilia in the circumstance?
Who sees not that the too-ingenuous soul,
Repugnant even at a duty done
Which brought beneath too scrutinizing glare
The misdemeanours,—buried in the dark,—
Of the authors of her being, as believed,—
Stung to the quick at her impulsive deed,
And willing to repair what harm it worked,
She—wise in this beyond what Nero proved,
Who when folk urged the candid juvenile
To sign the warrant, doom the guilty dead,
"Would I had never learned to write," quoth he!
—Pompilia rose above the Roman, cried
"To read or write I never learned at all!"
O splendidly mendacious!
But time fleets:
Let us not linger: hurry to the end,
Since flight does end and that, disastrously.
Beware ye blame desert for unsuccess,
Disparage each expedient else to praise,
Call failure folly! Man's best effort fails.
After ten years' resistance Troy succumbed:
Could valour save a town, Troy still had stood.
Pompilia came off halting in no point
Of courage, conduct, her long journey through:
But nature sank exhausted at the close,
And as I said, she swooned and slept all night.
Morn breaks and brings the husband: we assist
At the spectacle. Discovery succeeds.
Ha, how is this? What moonstruck rage is here?
Though we confess to partial frailty now,
To error in a woman and a wife,
Is 't by the rough way she shall be reclaimed?
Who bursts upon her chambered privacy?
What crowd profanes the chaste cubiculum?
What outcries and lewd laughter, scurril gibe
And ribald jest to scare the ministrant
Good angels that commerce with souls in sleep?
Why, had the worst crowned Guido to his wish,
Confirmed his most irrational surmise,
Yet there be bounds to man's emotion, checks
To an immoderate astonishment.
'T is decent horror, regulated wrath,
Befit our dispensation: have we back
The old Pagan license? Shall a Vulcan clap
His net o' the sudden and expose the pair
To the unquenchable universal mirth?
A feat, antiquity saw scandal in
So clearly, that the nauseous tale thereof—
Demodocus his nugatory song—
Hath ever been concluded modern stuff
Impossible to the mouth of the grave Muse,
So, foisted into that Eighth Odyssey
By some impertinent pickthank. O thou fool,
Count Guido Franceschini, what didst gain
By publishing thy secret to the world?
Were all the precepts of the wise a waste—
Bred in thee not one touch of reverence?
Admit thy wife—admonish we the fool,—
Were falseness' self, why chronicle thy shame?
Much rather should thy teeth bite out thy tongue,
Dumb lip consort with desecrated brow,
Silence become historiographer,
And thou—thine own Cornelius Tacitus!
But virtue, barred, still leaps the barrier, lords!
—Still, moon-like, penetrates the encroaching mist
And bursts, all broad and bare, on night, ye know!
Surprised, then, in the garb of truth, perhaps,
Pompilia, thus opposed, breaks obstacle,
Springs to her feet, and stands Thalassian-pure,
Confronts the foe,—nay, catches at his sword
And tries to kill the intruder, he complains.
Why, so she gave her lord his lesson back,
Crowned him, this time, the virtuous woman's way,
With an exact obedience; he brought sword,
She drew the same, since swords are meant to draw.
Tell not me 't is sharp play with tools on edge!
It was the husband chose the weapon here.
Why did not he inaugurate the game
With some gentility of apophthegm
Still pregnant on the philosophic page,
Some captivating cadence still a-lisp
O' the poet's lyre? Such spells subdue the surge,
Make tame the tempest, much more mitigate
The passions of the mind, and probably
Had moved Pompilia to a smiling blush.
No, he must needs prefer the argument
O' the blow: and she obeyed, in duty bound,
Returned him buffet ratiocinative—
Ay, in the reasoner's own interest,
For wife must follow whither husband leads,
Vindicate honour as himself prescribes,
Save him the very way himself bids save!
No question but who jumps into a quag
Should stretch forth hand and pray us "Pull me out
"By the hand!" such were the customary cry:
But Guido pleased to bid "Leave hand alone!
"Join both feet, rather, jump upon my head:
"I extricate myself by the rebound!"
And dutifully as enjoined she jumped—
Drew his own sword and menaced his own life,
Anything to content a wilful spouse.
And so he was contented—one must do
Justice to the expedient which succeeds,
Strange as it seem: at flourish of the blade,
The crowd drew back, stood breathless and abashed,
Then murmured "This should be no wanton wife,
"No conscience-stricken sinner, caught i' the act,
"And patiently awaiting our first stone:
"But a poor hard-pressed all-bewildered thing,
"Has rushed so far, misguidedly perhaps,
"Meaning no more harm than a frightened sheep.
"She sought for aid; and if she made mistake
"I' the man could aid most, why—so mortals do:
"Even the blessed Magdalen mistook
"Far less forgiveably: consult the place—
"Supposing him to be the gardener,
"'Sir,' said she, and so following." Why more words?
Forthwith the wife is pronounced innocent:
What would the husband more than gain his cause,
And find that honour flash in the world's eye,
His apprehension was lest soil had smirched?
So, happily the adventure comes to close
Whereon my fat opponent grounds his charge
Preposterous: at mid-day he groans "How dark!"
Listen to me, thou Archangelic swine!
Where is the ambiguity to blame,
The flaw to find in our Pompilia? Safe
She stands, see! Does thy comment follow quick
"Safe, inasmuch as at the end proposed;
"But thither she picked way by devious path—
"Stands dirtied, no dubiety at all!
"I recognize success, yet, all the same,
"Importunately will suggestion prompt—
"Better Pompilia gained the right to boast
"'No devious path, no doubtful patch was mine,
"'I saved my head nor sacrificed my foot:'
"Why, being in a peril, show mistrust
"Of the angels set to guard the innocent?
"Why rather hold by obvious vulgar help
"Of stratagem and subterfuge, excused
"Somewhat, but still no less a foil, a fault,
"Since low with high, and good with bad is linked?
"Methinks I view some ancient bas-relief.
"There stands Hesione thrust out by Troy,
"Her father's hand has chained her to a crag,
"Her mother's from the virgin plucked the vest,
"At a safe distance both distressful watch,
"While near and nearer comes the snorting orc.
"I look that, white and perfect to the end,
"She wait till Jove despatch some demigod;
"Not that,—impatient of celestial club
"Alcmena's son should brandish at the beast,—
'She daub, disguise her dainty limbs with pitch,
"And so elude the purblind monster! Ay,
"The trick succeeds, but 't is an ugly trick,
"Where needs have been no trick!"
My answer? Faugh;
Nimis incongrue! Too absurdly put!
Sententiam ego teneo contrariam,
Trick, I maintain, had no alternative.
The heavens were bound with brass,—Jove far at feast
(No feast like that thou didst not ask me to,
Arcangeli,—I heard of thy regale!)
With the unblamed Æthiop,—Hercules spun wool
I' the lap of Omphale, while Virtue shrieked—
The brute came paddling all the faster. You
Of Troy, who stood at distance, where's the aid
You offered in the extremity? Most and least,
Gentle and simple, here the Governor,
There the Archbishop, everywhere the friends,
Shook heads and waited for a miracle,
Or went their way, left Virtue to her fate.
Just this one rough and ready man leapt forth!
—Was found, sole anti-Fabius (dare I say)
Who restored things, with no delay at all,
Qui haud cunctando rem restituit! He,
He only, Caponsacchi 'mid a crowd,
Caught Virtue up, carried Pompilia off
Through gaping impotence of sympathy
In ranged Arezzo: what you take for pitch,
Is nothing worse, belike, than black and blue,
Mere evanescent proof that hardy hands
Did yeoman's service, cared not where the gripe
Was more than duly energetic: bruised,
She smarts a little, but her bones are saved
A fracture, and her skin will soon show sleek.
How it disgusts when weakness, false-refined,
Censures the honest rude effective strength,—
When sickly dreamers of the impossible
Decry plain sturdiness which does the feat
With eyes wide open!
Did occasion serve,
I could illustrate, if my lords allow;
Quid vetat, what forbids I aptly ask
With Horace, that I give my anger vent,
While I let breathe, no less, and recreate,
The gravity of my Judges, by a tale?
A case in point—what though an apologue
Graced by tradition?—possibly a fact:
Tradition must precede all scripture, words
Serve as our warrant ere our books can be:
So, to tradition back we needs must go
For any fact's authority: and this
Hath lived so far (like jewel hid in muck)
On page of that old lying vanity
Called "Sepher Toldoth Yeschu:" God be praised,
I read no Hebrew,—take the thing on trust:
But I believe the writer meant no good
(Blind as he was to truth in some respects)
To our pestiferous and schismatic … well,
My lords' conjecture be the touchstone, show
The thing for what it is! The author lacks
Discretion, and his zeal exceeds: but zeal,—
How rare in our degenerate day! Enough!
Here is the story: fear not, I shall chop
And change a little, else my Jew would press
All too unmannerly before the Court.
It happened once,—begins this foolish Jew,
Pretending to write Christian history,—
That three, held greatest, best and worst of men,
Peter and John and Judas, spent a day
In toil and travel through the country-side
On some sufficient business—I suspect,
Suppression of some Molinism i' the bud.
Foot-sore and hungry, dropping with fatigue,
They reached by nightfall a poor lonely grange,
Hostel or inn: so, knocked and entered there.
"Your pleasure, great ones?"—"Shelter, rest and food!"
For shelter, there was one bare room above;
For rest therein, three beds of bundled straw:
For food, one wretched starveling fowl, no more—
Meat for one mouth, but mockery for three.
"You have my utmost." How should supper serve?
Peter broke silence: "To the spit with fowl!
"And while 't is cooking, sleep!—since beds there be,
"And, so far, satisfaction of a want.
"Sleep we an hour, awake at supper-time,
"Then each of us narrate the dream he had,
"And he whose dream shall prove the happiest, point
"The clearliest out the dreamer as ordained
"Beyond his fellows to receive the fowl,
"Him let our shares be cheerful tribute to,
"His the entire meal, may it do him good!"
Who could dispute so plain a consequence?
So said, so done: each hurried to his straw,
Slept his hour's sleep and dreamed his dream, and woke.
"I," commenced John, "dreamed that I gained the prize
"We all aspire to: the proud place was mine,
"Throughout the earth and to the end of time
"I was the Loved Disciple: mine the meal!"
"But I," proceeded Peter, "dreamed, a word
"Gave me the headship of our company,
"Made me the Vicar and Vice-gerent, gave
"The keys of heaven and hell into my hand,
"And o'er the earth, dominion: mine the meal!"
"While I," submitted in soft under-tone
The Iscariot—sense of his unworthiness
Turning each eye up to the inmost white—
With long-drawn sigh, yet letting both lips smack,
"I have had just the pitifullest dream
"That ever proved man meanest of his mates,
"And born foot-washer and foot-wiper, nay
"Foot-kisser to each comrade of you all!
"I dreamed I dreamed; and in that mimic dream
"(Impalpable to dream as dream to fact)
"Methought I meanly chose to sleep no wink
"But wait until I heard my brethren snore;
"Then stole from couch, slipped noiseless o'er the planks,
"Slid downstairs, furtively approached the hearth,
"Found the fowl duly brown, both back and breast,
"Hissing in harmony with the cricket's chirp,
"Grilled to a point; said no grace but fell to,
"Nor finished till the skeleton lay bare.
"In penitence for which ignoble dream,
"Lo, I renounce my portion cheerfully!
"Fie on the flesh—be mine the ethereal gust,
"And yours the sublunary sustenance!
"See that whate'er be left ye give the poor!"
Down the two scuttled, one on other's heel,
Stung by a fell surmise; and found, alack,
A goodly savour, both the drumstick bones,
And that which henceforth took the appropriate name
O' the Merry-thought, in memory of the fact
That to keep wide awake is man's best dream.
So,—as was said once of Thucydides
And his sole joke, "The lion, lo, hath laughed!"—
Just so, the Governor and all that's great
I' the city, never meant that Innocence
Should quite starve while Authority sat at meat;
They meant to fling a bone at banquet's end:
Wished well to our Pompilia—in their dreams,
Nor bore the secular sword in vain—asleep.
Just so the Archbishop and all good like him
Went to bed meaning to pour oil and wine
I' the wounds of her, next day,—but long ere day,
They had burned the one and drunk the other, while
Just so, again, contrariwise, the priest
Sustained poor Nature in extremity
By stuffing barley-bread into her mouth,
Saving Pompilia (grant the parallel)
By the plain homely and straightforward way
Taught him by common sense. Let others shriek
"Oh what refined expedients did we dream
"Proved us the only fit to help the fair!"
He cried "A carriage waits, jump in with me!"
And now, this application pardoned, lords,—
This recreative pause and breathing-while,—
Back to beseemingness and gravity!
For Law steps in: Guido appeals to Law,
Demands she arbitrate,—does well for once.
O Law, of thee how neatly was it said
By that old Sophocles, thou hast thy seat
I' the very breast of Jove, no meanlier throned!
Here is a piece of work now, hitherto
Begun and carried on, concluded near,
Without an eye-glance cast thy sceptre's way;
And, lo the stumbling and discomfiture!
Well may you call them "lawless" means, men take
To extricate themselves through mother-wit
When tangled haply in the toils of life!
Guido would try conclusions with his foe,
Whoe'er the foe was and whate'er the offence;
He would recover certain dowry-dues:
Instead of asking Law to lend a hand,
What pother of sword drawn and pistol cocked,
What peddling with forged letters and paid spies,
Politic circumvention!—all to end
As it began—by loss of the fool's head,
First in a figure, presently in a fact.
It is a lesson to mankind at large.
How other were the end, would men be sage
And bear confidingly each quarrel straight,
O Law, to thy recipient mother-knees!
How would the children light come and prompt go,
This with a red-cheeked apple for reward,
The other, peradventure red-cheeked too
I' the rear, by taste of birch for punishment.
No foolish brawling murder any more!
Peace for the household, practise for the Fisc,
And plenty for the exchequer of my lords!
Too much to hope, in this world: in the next,
Who knows? Since, why should sit the Twelve enthroned
To judge the tribes, unless the tribes be judged?
And 't is impossible but offences come:
So, all's one lawsuit, all one long leet-day!
Forgive me this digression—that I stand
Entranced awhile at Law's first beam, outbreak
O' the business, when the Count's good angel bade
"Put up thy sword, born enemy to the ear,
"And let Law listen to thy difference!"
And Law does listen and compose the strife,
Settle the suit, how wisely and how well!
On our Pompilia, faultless to a fault,
Law bends a brow maternally severe,
Implies the worth of perfect chastity,
By fancying the flaw she cannot find.
Superfluous sifting snow, nor helps nor harms:
'T is safe to censure levity in youth,
Tax womanhood with indiscretion, sure!
Since toys, permissible to-day, become
Follies to-morrow: prattle shocks in church:
And that curt skirt which lets a maiden skip,
The matron changes for a trailing robe.
Mothers may aim a blow with half-shut eyes
Nodding above their spindles by the fire,
And chance to hit some hidden fault, else safe.
Just so, Law hazarded a punishment—
If applicable to the circumstance,
Why, well! if not so apposite, well too.
"Quit the gay range o' the world," I hear her cry,
"Enter, in lieu, the penitential pound:
"Exchange the gauds of pomp for ashes, dust!
"Leave each mollitious haunt of luxury!
"The golden-garnished silken-couched alcove,
"The many-columned terrace that so tempts
"Feminine soul put foot forth, extend ear
"To fluttering joy of lover's serenade,—
"Leave these for cellular seclusion! mask
"And dance no more, but fast and pray! avaunt—
"Be burned, thy wicked townsman's sonnet-book!
"Welcome, mild hymnal by … some better scribe!
"For the warm arms were wont enfold thy flesh,
"Let wire-shirt plough and whipcord discipline!"
If such an exhortation proved, perchance,
Inapplicable, words bestowed in waste,
What harm, since Law has store, can spend nor miss?
And so, our paragon submits herself,
Goes at command into the holy house,
And, also at command, comes out again:
For, could the effect of such obedience prove
Too certain, too immediate? Being healed,
Go blaze abroad the matter, blessed one!
Art thou sound forthwith? Speedily vacate
The step by pool-side, leave Bethesda free
To patients plentifully posted round,
Since the whole need not the physician! Brief,
She may betake her to her parents' place.
Welcome her, father, with wide arms once more,
Motion her, mother, to thy breast again!
For why? Since Law relinquishes the charge,
Grants to your dwelling-place a prison's style,
Rejoice you with Pompilia! golden days,
Redeunt Saturnia regna. Six weeks slip,
And she is domiciled in house and home
As though she thence had never budged at all.
And thither let the husband,—joyous, ay,
But contrite also—quick betake himself,
Proud that his dove which lay among the pots
Hath mued those dingy feathers,—moulted now,
Shows silver bosom clothed with yellow gold!
So shall he tempt her to the perch she fled,
Bid to domestic bliss the truant back.
But let him not delay! Time fleets how fast,
And opportunity, the irrevocable,
Once flown will flout him! Is the furrow traced?
If field with corn ye fail preoccupy,
Darnel for wheat and thistle-beards for grain,
Infelix lolium, carduus horridus,
Will grow apace in combination prompt,
Defraud the husbandman of his desire.
Already—hist—what murmurs 'monish now
The laggard?—doubtful, nay, fantastic bruit
Of such an apparition, such return
Interdum, to anticipate the spouse,
Of Caponsacchi's very self! 'T is said,
When nights are lone and company is rare,
His visitations brighten winter up.
If so they did—which nowise I believe—
(How can I?—proof abounding that the priest,
Once fairly at his relegation-place,
Never once left it) still, admit he stole
A midnight march, would fain see friend again,
Find matter for instruction in the past,
Renew the old adventure in such chat
As cheers a fireside! He was lonely too,
He, too, must need his recreative hour.
Shall it amaze the philosophic mind
If he, long wont the empurpled cup to quaff,
Have feminine society at will,
Being debarred abruptly from all drink
Save at the spring which Adam used for wine,
Dreads harm to just the health he hoped to guard,
And, trying abstinence, gains malady?
Ask Tozzi, now physician to the Pope!
"Little by little break"—(I hear he bids
Master Arcangeli my antagonist,
Who loves good cheer, and may indulge too much:
So I explain the logic of the plea
Wherewith he opened our proceedings late)—
"Little by little break a habit, Don,
"Become necessity to feeble flesh!"
And thus, nocturnal taste of intercourse
(Which never happened,—but, suppose it did)
May have been used to dishabituate
By sip and sip this drainer to the dregs
O' the draught of conversation,—heady stuff,
Brewage which, broached, it took two days and nights
To properly discuss i' the journey, Sirs!
Such power has second-nature, men call use,
That undelightful objects get to charm
Instead of chafe: the daily colocynth
Tickles the palate by repeated dose,
Old sores scratch kindly, the ass makes a push
Although the mill-yoke-wound be smarting yet,
For mill-door bolted on a holiday:
Nor must we marvel here if impulse urge
To talk the old story over now and then,
The hopes and fears, the stoppage and the haste,—
Subjects of colloquy to surfeit once.
"Here did you bid me twine a rosy wreath!"
"And there you paid my lips a compliment!"
"Here you admired the tower could be so tall!"
"And there you likened that of Lebanon
"To the nose of the beloved!" Trifles! still,
"Forsan et hæc olim,"—such trifles serve
To make the minutes pass in winter-time.
Husband, return then, I re-counsel thee!
For, finally, of all glad circumstance
Should make a prompt return imperative,
What in the world awaits thee, dost suppose?
O' the sudden, as good gifts are wont befall,
What is the hap of our unconscious Count?
That which lights bonfire and sets cask a-tilt,
Dissolves the stubborn'st heart in jollity.
O admirable, there is born a babe,
A son, an heir, a Franceschini last
And best o' the stock! Pompilia, thine the palm!
Repaying incredulity with faith,
Ungenerous thrift of each marital debt
With bounty in profuse expenditure,
Pompilia scorns to have the old year end
Without a present shall ring in the new—
Bestows on her too-parsimonious lord
An infant for the apple of his eye,
Core of his heart, and crown completing life,
True summum bonum of the earthly lot!
"We," saith ingeniously the sage, "are born
"Solely that others may be born of us."
So, father, take thy child, for thine that child,
Oh nothing doubt! In wedlock born, law holds
Baseness impossible: since "filius est
"Quem nuptiæ demonstrant," twits the text
Whoever dares to doubt.
Yet doubt he dares!
O faith, where art thou flown from out the world?
Already on what an age of doubt we fall!
Instead of each disputing for the prize,
The babe is bandied here from that to this.
Whose the babe? "Cujum pecus?" Guido's lamb?
"An Meliboei?" Nay, but of the priest!
"Non sed Ægonis!" Someone must be sire:
And who shall say, in such a puzzling strait,
If there were not vouchsafed some miracle
To the wife who had been harassed and abused
More than enough by Guido's family
For non-production of the promised fruit
Of marriage? What if Nature, I demand,
Touched to the quick by taunts upon her sloth,
Had roused herself, put forth recondite power,
Bestowed this birth to vindicate her sway,
Like the strange favour, Maro memorized
As granted Aristæus when his hive
Lay empty of the swarm? not one more bee—
Not one more babe to Franceschini's house!
And lo, a new birth filled the air with joy,
Sprung from the bowels of the generous steer,
A novel son and heir rejoiced the Count!
Spontaneous generation, need I prove
Were facile feat to Nature at a pinch?
Let whoso doubts, steep horsehair certain weeks
In water, there will be produced a snake;
Spontaneous product of the horse, which horse
Happens to be the representative—
Now that I think on't—of Arezzo's self,
The very city our conception blessed:
Is not a prancing horse the City-arms?
What sane eye fails to see coincidence?
Cur ego, boast thou, my Pompilia, then,
Desperem fieri sine conjuge
Mater—how well the Ovidian distich suits!—
Et parere intacto dummodo
Casta viro? Such miracle was wrought!
Note, further, as to mark the prodigy,
The babe in question neither took the name
Of Guido, from the sire presumptive, nor
Giuseppe, from the sire potential, but
Gaetano—last saint of our hierarchy,
And newest namer for a thing so new!
What other motive could have prompted choice?
Therefore be peace again: exult, ye hills!
Ye vales rejoicingly break forth in song!
Incipe, parve puer, begin, small boy,
Risu cognoscere patrem, with a laugh
To recognize thy parent! Nor do thou
Boggle, oh parent, to return the grace!
Nec anceps hære, pater, puero
Cognoscendo—one may well eke out the prayer!
In vain! The perverse Guido doubts his eyes,
Distrusts assurance, lets the devil drive.
Because his house is swept and garnished now,
He, having summoned seven like himself,
Must hurry thither, knock and enter in,
And make the last worse than the first, indeed!
Is he content? We are. No further blame
O' the man and murder! They were stigmatized
Befittingly: the Court heard long ago
My mind o' the matter, which, outpouring full,
Has long since swept like surge, i' the simile
Of Homer, overborne both dyke and dam,
And whelmed alike client and advocate:
His fate is sealed, his life as good as gone,
On him I am not tempted to waste word.
Yet though my purpose holds,—which was and is
And solely shall be to the very end,
To draw the true effigies of a saint,
Do justice to perfection in the sex,—
Yet let not some gross pamperer of the flesh
And niggard in the spirit's nourishment,
Whose feeding hath offuscated his wit
Rather than law,—he never had, to lose—
Let not such advocate object to me
I leave my proper function of attack!
"What 's this to Bacchus?"—(in the classic phrase,
Well used, for once) he hiccups probably.
O Advocate o' the Poor, thou born to make
Their blessing void—beati pauperes!
By painting saintship I depicture sin:
Beside my pearl, I prove how black thy jet,
And, through Pompilia's virtue, Guido's crime.
Back to her, then,—with but one beauty more,
End we our argument,—one crowning grace
Pre-eminent 'mid agony and death.
For to the last Pompilia played her part,
Used the right means to the permissible end,
And, wily as an eel that stirs the mud
Thick overhead, so baffling spearman's thrust,
She, while he stabbed her, simulated death,
Delayed, for his sake, the catastrophe,
Obtained herself a respite, four days' grace,
Whereby she told her story to the world,
Enabled me to make the present speech,
And, by a full confession, saved her soul.
Yet hold, even here would malice leer its last,
Gurgle its choked remonstrance: snake, hiss free!
Oh, that 's the objection? And to whom?—not her
But me, forsooth—as, in the very act
Of both confession and (what followed close)
Subsequent talk, chatter and gossipry,
Babble to sympathizing he and she
Whoever chose besiege her dying bed,—
As this were found at variance with my tale,
Falsified all I have adduced for truth,
Admitted not one peccadillo here,
Pretended to perfection, first and last,
O' the whole procedure—perfect in the end,
Perfect i' the means, perfect in everything,
Leaving a lawyer nothing to excuse,
Reason away and show his skill about!
—A flight, impossible to Adamic flesh,
Just to be fancied, scarcely to be wished,
And, anyhow, unpleadable in court!
"How reconcile," gasps Malice, "that with this?"
Your "this," friend, is extraneous to the law,
Comes of men's outside meddling, the unskilled
Interposition of such fools as press
Out of their province. Must I speak my mind?
Far better had Pompilia died o' the spot
Than found a tongue to wag and shame the law,
Shame most of all herself,—could friendship fail
And advocacy lie less on the alert:
But no, they shall protect her to the end!
Do I credit the alleged narration? No!
Lied our Pompilia then, to laud herself?
Still, no! Clear up what seems discrepancy?
The means abound: art 's long, though time is short;
So, keeping me in compass, all I urge
Is—since, confession at the point of death,
Nam in articulo mortis, with the Church
Passes for statement honest and sincere,
Nemo presumitur reus esse,—then,
If sure that all affirmed would be believed,
'T was charity, in her so circumstanced,
To spend the last breath in one effort more
For universal good of friend and foe:
And,—by pretending utter innocence,
Nay, freedom from each foible we forgive,—
Re-integrate—not solely her own fame,
But do the like kind office for the priest
Whom telling the crude truth about might vex,
Haply expose to peril, abbreviate
Indeed the long career of usefulness
Presumably before him: while her lord,
Whose fleeting life is forfeit to the law,—
What mercy to the culprit if, by just
The gift of such a full certificate
Of his immitigable guiltiness,
She stifled in him the absurd conceit
Of murder as it were a mere revenge
—Stopped confirmation of that jealousy
Which, did she but acknowledge the first flaw,
The faintest foible, had emboldened him
To battle with the charge, baulk penitence,
Bar preparation for impending fate!
Whereas, persuade him that he slew a saint
Who sinned not even where she may have sinned,
You urge him all the brisklier to repent
Of most and least and aught and everything!
Still, if this view of mine content you not,
Lords, nor excuse the genial falsehood here,
We come to our Triarii, last resource:
We fall back on the inexpugnable,
Submitting,—she confessed before she talked!
The sacrament obliterates the sin:
What is not,—was not, therefore, in a sense.
Let Molinists distinguish, "Souls washed white
"But red once, still show pinkish to the eye!"
We say, abolishment is nothingness,
And nothingness has neither head nor tail,
End nor beginning! Better estimate
Exorbitantly, than disparage aught
Of the efficacity of the act, I hope!
Solvuntur tabulæ? May we laugh and go?
Well,—not before (in filial gratitude
To Law, who, mighty mother, waves adieu)
We take on us to vindicate Law's self!
For,—yea, Sirs,—curb the start, curtail the stare!—
Remains that we apologize for haste
I' the Law, our lady who here bristles up
"Blame my procedure? Could the Court mistake?
"(Which were indeed a misery to think)
"Did not my sentence in the former stage
"O' the business bear a title plain enough?
"Decretum"—I translate it word for word—
"'Decreed: the priest, for his complicity
"'I' the flight and deviation of the dame,
"'As well as for unlawful intercourse,
"'Is banished three years: crime and penalty,
"Declared alike. If he be taxed with guilt,
"How can you call Pompilia innocent?
"If both be innocent, have I been just?"
Gently, O mother, judge men—whose mistake
Is in the mere misapprehensiveness!
The Titulus a-top of your decree
Was but to ticket there the kind of charge
You in good time would arbitrate upon.
Title is one thing,—arbitration's self,
Probatio, quite another possibly.
Subsistit, there holds good the old response,
Responsio tradita, we must not stick,
Quod non sit attendendus Titulus,
To the Title, sed Probatio, but the Proof,
Resultans ex processu, the result
O' the Trial, and the style of punishment,
Et poena per sententiam imposita.
All is tentative, till the sentence come:
An indication of what men expect,
But nowise an assurance they shall find.
Lords, what if we permissibly relax
The tense bow, as the law-god Phoebus bids,
Relieve our gravity at labour's close?
I traverse Rome, feel thirsty, need a draught,
Look for a wine-shop, find it by the bough
Projecting as to say "Here wine is sold!"
So much I know,—"sold:" but what sort of wine?
Strong, weak, sweet, sour, home-made or foreign drink?
That much must I discover by myself.
"Wine is sold," quoth the bough, "but good or bad,
"Find, and inform us when you smack your lips!"
Exactly so, Law hangs her title forth,
To show she entertains you with such case
About such crime. Come in! she pours, you quaff.
You find the Priest good liquor in the main,
But heady and provocative of brawls:
Remand the residue to flask once more,
Lay it low where it may deposit lees,
I' the cellar: thence produce it presently,
Three years the brighter and the better!
Law's son, have I bestowed my filial help,
And thus I end, tenax proposito;
Point to point as I purposed have I drawn
Pompilia, and implied as terribly
Guido: so, gazing, let the world crown Law—
Able once more, despite my impotence,
And helped by the acumen of the Court,
To eliminate, display, make triumph truth!
What other prize than truth were worth the pains?
There's my oration—much exceeds in length
That famed panegyric of Isocrates,
They say it took him fifteen years to pen.
But all those ancients could say anything!
He put in just what rushed into his head:
While I shall have to prune and pare and print.
This comes of being born in modern times
With priests for auditory. Still, it pays.
I Scold Myself
Whilst I'm asleep I have no control
and I awake in anxious sweats.
I scold myself in my thoughts,
which causing me nothing but stress.
I don't know why I punish myself,
in reality I've done nothing wrong.
This only happens when I'm asleep,
but it does happen all night long.
It's not as though my mind is troubled,
and my conscience is entirely free.
It's got so that I hate retiring for the night
because I know what waits for me.
I cannot blank out my unconscious thoughts,
they're like nightmares that won't go away.
I desperately need a good night's sleep
so I can stay awake throughout the day.
Don't Say You Know
don't freakin say you know my pain.
do you what it like to be different?
do you know i can't do certain things?
do you know when i walk i'm in pain?
do you know sometimes i can't sleep?
what the hell?
you going to tell me you know?
at times i think i will be happy paralyze.
only because the pain can be too much.
do you know what it like to not do things?
not really if you say i'm dramatizing everything.
i don't give a hoot!
i'm in pain.
do you give a damn?
because you THINK you know me.
you don't know a dang thing.
you didn't go through what i did.
so don't say you know.
because you don't know.
She Works the Night
She Works the Night
She Works the Night
Prowling as if to pounce
She sees, she blows, she'll get every ounce
Watch out brother, don't take this serpent light
She Works the Night
Everything she does is calculated and cold
How do they stay when she shows them just how bold
Watch out brother, she's a REAL serpent, better learn to fight
She Works the Night
Loves the work so much she can't get enough
She's does them, does them again, believe me she's tough
Watch out brother, this serpent has some might
She Works the Night
She's offered the chance to change her fate
She devours the man so all he can do is hate
Watch out brother, I told you she was The Serpent, now you know I'm right
To Be A Poet And Live In The Dark
it is easy for me to understand
why you live in the darkness of your poetry
time does not live there. There is no morning light
to mark the day, and darkness thrives
like a tunnel, without any hint that at the end
there is light.
you live there. You live there for a long, long time
and you shed off your eyes, and hands,
and eventually you lose the sense of a face.
you like it there. It is all emotions. Strong
as a river inside the cave. You may have
lost your eyes, but you have seen more.
You may have lost your hands, but you
are feeling and touching more.
It is the darkness that has provided
you the sense of eternity. There is no
time here. It is dead. And There is no
sense of remembering what had been
You flow in this darkness like a river
inside a tunnel. The only sound you hear
is the going.The journey with you.