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Book Ninth [Residence in France]

EVEN as a river,--partly (it might seem)
Yielding to old remembrances, and swayed
In part by fear to shape a way direct,
That would engulph him soon in the ravenous sea--
Turns, and will measure back his course, far back,
Seeking the very regions which he crossed
In his first outset; so have we, my Friend!
Turned and returned with intricate delay.
Or as a traveller, who has gained the brow
Of some aerial Down, while there he halts
For breathing-time, is tempted to review
The region left behind him; and, if aught
Deserving notice have escaped regard,
Or been regarded with too careless eye,
Strives, from that height, with one and yet one more
Last look, to make the best amends he may:
So have we lingered. Now we start afresh
With courage, and new hope risen on our toil.
Fair greetings to this shapeless eagerness,
Whene'er it comes! needful in work so long,
Thrice needful to the argument which now
Awaits us! Oh, how much unlike the past!

Free as a colt at pasture on the hill,
I ranged at large, through London's wide domain,
Month after month. Obscurely did I live,
Not seeking frequent intercourse with men,
By literature, or elegance, or rank,
Distinguished. Scarcely was a year thus spent
Ere I forsook the crowded solitude,
With less regret for its luxurious pomp,
And all the nicely-guarded shows of art,
Than for the humble book-stalls in the streets,
Exposed to eye and hand where'er I turned.

France lured me forth; the realm that I had crossed
So lately, journeying toward the snow-clad Alps.
But now, relinquishing the scrip and staff,
And all enjoyment which the summer sun
Sheds round the steps of those who meet the day
With motion constant as his own, I went
Prepared to sojourn in a pleasant town,
Washed by the current of the stately Loire.

Through Paris lay my readiest course, and there
Sojourning a few days, I visited
In haste, each spot of old or recent fame,
The latter chiefly, from the field of Mars
Down to the suburbs of St. Antony,
And from Mont Martre southward to the Dome
Of Genevieve. In both her clamorous Halls,
The National Synod and the Jacobins,
I saw the Revolutionary Power
Toss like a ship at anchor, rocked by storms;
The Arcades I traversed, in the Palace huge
Of Orleans; coasted round and round the line
Of Tavern, Brothel, Gaming-house, and Shop,
Great rendezvous of worst and best, the walk
Of all who had a purpose, or had not;
I stared and listened, with a stranger's ears,
To Hawkers and Haranguers, hubbub wild!
And hissing Factionists with ardent eyes,
In knots, or pairs, or single. Not a look
Hope takes, or Doubt or Fear is forced to wear,
But seemed there present; and I scanned them all,
Watched every gesture uncontrollable,
Of anger, and vexation, and despite,
All side by side, and struggling face to face,
With gaiety and dissolute idleness.

Where silent zephyrs sported with the dust
Of the Bastille, I sate in the open sun,
And from the rubbish gathered up a stone,
And pocketed the relic, in the guise
Of an enthusiast; yet, in honest truth,
I looked for something that I could not find,
Affecting more emotion than I felt;
For 'tis most certain, that these various sights,
However potent their first shock, with me
Appeared to recompense the traveller's pains
Less than the painted Magdalene of Le Brun,
A beauty exquisitely wrought, with hair
Dishevelled, gleaming eyes, and rueful cheek
Pale and bedropped with overflowing tears.

But hence to my more permanent abode
I hasten; there, by novelties in speech,
Domestic manners, customs, gestures, looks,
And all the attire of ordinary life,
Attention was engrossed; and, thus amused,
I stood 'mid those concussions, unconcerned,
Tranquil almost, and careless as a flower
Glassed in a green-house, or a parlour shrub
That spreads its leaves in unmolested peace,
While every bush and tree, the country through,
Is shaking to the roots: indifference this
Which may seem strange: but I was unprepared
With needful knowledge, had abruptly passed
Into a theatre, whose stage was filled
And busy with an action far advanced.
Like others, I had skimmed, and sometimes read
With care, the master pamphlets of the day;
Nor wanted such half-insight as grew wild
Upon that meagre soil, helped out by talk
And public news; but having never seen
A chronicle that might suffice to show
Whence the main organs of the public power
Had sprung, their transmigrations, when and how
Accomplished, giving thus unto events
A form and body; all things were to me
Loose and disjointed, and the affections left
Without a vital interest. At that time,
Moreover, the first storm was overblown,
And the strong hand of outward violence
Locked up in quiet. For myself, I fear
Now, in connection with so great a theme,
To speak (as I must be compelled to do)
Of one so unimportant; night by night
Did I frequent the formal haunts of men,
Whom, in the city, privilege of birth
Sequestered from the rest, societies
Polished in arts, and in punctilio versed;
Whence, and from deeper causes, all discourse
Of good and evil of the time was shunned
With scrupulous care; but these restrictions soon
Proved tedious, and I gradually withdrew
Into a noisier world, and thus ere long
Became a patriot; and my heart was all
Given to the people, and my love was theirs.

A band of military Officers,
Then stationed in the city, were the chief
Of my associates: some of these wore swords
That had been seasoned in the wars, and all
Were men well-born; the chivalry of France.
In age and temper differing, they had yet
One spirit ruling in each heart; alike
(Save only one, hereafter to be named)
Were bent upon undoing what was done:
This was their rest and only hope; therewith
No fear had they of bad becoming worse,
For worst to them was come; nor would have stirred,
Or deemed it worth a moment's thought to stir,
In anything, save only as the act
Looked thitherward. One, reckoning by years,
Was in the prime of manhood, and erewhile
He had sate lord in many tender hearts;
Though heedless of such honours now, and changed:
His temper was quite mastered by the times,
And they had blighted him, had eaten away
The beauty of his person, doing wrong
Alike to body and to mind: his port,
Which once had been erect and open, now
Was stooping and contracted, and a face,
Endowed by Nature with her fairest gifts
Of symmetry and light and bloom, expressed,
As much as any that was ever seen,
A ravage out of season, made by thoughts
Unhealthy and vexatious. With the hour,
That from the press of Paris duly brought
Its freight of public news, the fever came,
A punctual visitant, to shake this man,
Disarmed his voice and fanned his yellow cheek
Into a thousand colours; while he read,
Or mused, his sword was haunted by his touch
Continually, like an uneasy place
In his own body. 'Twas in truth an hour
Of universal ferment; mildest men
Were agitated, and commotions, strife
Of passion and opinion, filled the walls
Of peaceful houses with unquiet sounds.
The soil of common life was, at that time,
Too hot to tread upon. Oft said I then,
And not then only, 'What a mockery this
Of history, the past and that to come!
Now do I feel how all men are deceived,
Reading of nations and their works, in faith,
Faith given to vanity and emptiness;
Oh! laughter for the page that would reflect
To future times the face of what now is!'
The land all swarmed with passion, like a plain
Devoured by locusts,--Carra, Gorsas,--add
A hundred other names, forgotten now,
Nor to be heard of more; yet, they were powers,
Like earthquakes, shocks repeated day by day,
And felt through every nook of town and field.

Such was the state of things. Meanwhile the chief
Of my associates stood prepared for flight
To augment the band of emigrants in arms
Upon the borders of the Rhine, and leagued
With foreign foes mustered for instant war.
This was their undisguised intent, and they
Were waiting with the whole of their desires
The moment to depart.
An Englishman,
Born in a land whose very name appeared
To license some unruliness of mind;
A stranger, with youth's further privilege,
And the indulgence that a half-learnt speech
Wins from the courteous; I, who had been else
Shunned and not tolerated, freely lived
With these defenders of the Crown, and talked,
And heard their notions; nor did they disdain
The wish to bring me over to their cause.

But though untaught by thinking or by books
To reason well of polity or law,
And nice distinctions, then on every tongue,
Of natural rights and civil; and to acts
Of nations and their passing interests,
(If with unworldly ends and aims compared)
Almost indifferent, even the historian's tale
Prizing but little otherwise than I prized
Tales of the poets, as it made the heart
Beat high, and filled the fancy with fair forms,
Old heroes and their sufferings and their deeds;
Yet in the regal sceptre, and the pomp
Of orders and degrees, I nothing found
Then, or had ever, even in crudest youth,
That dazzled me, but rather what I mourned
And ill could brook, beholding that the best
Ruled not, and feeling that they ought to rule.

For, born in a poor district, and which yet
Retaineth more of ancient homeliness,
Than any other nook of English ground,
It was my fortune scarcely to have seen,
Through the whole tenor of my school-day time,
The face of one, who, whether boy or man,
Was vested with attention or respect
Through claims of wealth or blood; nor was it least
Of many benefits, in later years
Derived from academic institutes
And rules, that they held something up to view
Of a Republic, where all stood thus far
Upon equal ground; that we were brothers all
In honour, as in one community,
Scholars and gentlemen; where, furthermore,
Distinction open lay to all that came,
And wealth and titles were in less esteem
Than talents, worth, and prosperous industry,
Add unto this, subservience from the first
To presences of God's mysterious power
Made manifest in Nature's sovereignty,
And fellowship with venerable books,
To sanction the proud workings of the soul,
And mountain liberty. It could not be
But that one tutored thus should look with awe
Upon the faculties of man, receive
Gladly the highest promises, and hail,
As best, the government of equal rights
And individual worth. And hence, O Friend!
If at the first great outbreak I rejoiced
Less than might well befit my youth, the cause
In part lay here, that unto me the events
Seemed nothing out of nature's certain course,
A gift that was come rather late than soon.
No wonder, then, if advocates like these,
Inflamed by passion, blind with prejudice,
And stung with injury, at this riper day,
Were impotent to make my hopes put on
The shape of theirs, my understanding bend
In honour to their honour: zeal, which yet
Had slumbered, now in opposition burst
Forth like a Polar summer: every word
They uttered was a dart, by counter-winds
Blown back upon themselves; their reason seemed
Confusion-stricken by a higher power
Than human understanding, their discourse
Maimed, spiritless; and, in their weakness strong,
I triumphed.
Meantime, day by day, the roads
Were crowded with the bravest youth of France,
And all the promptest of her spirits, linked
In gallant soldiership, and posting on
To meet the war upon her frontier bounds.
Yet at this very moment do tears start
Into mine eyes: I do not say I weep--
I wept not then,--but tears have dimmed my sight,
In memory of the farewells of that time,
Domestic severings, female fortitude
At dearest separation, patriot love
And self-devotion, and terrestrial hope,
Encouraged with a martyr's confidence;
Even files of strangers merely seen but once,
And for a moment, men from far with sound
Of music, martial tunes, and banners spread,
Entering the city, here and there a face,
Or person, singled out among the rest,
Yet still a stranger and beloved as such;
Even by these passing spectacles my heart
Was oftentimes uplifted, and they seemed
Arguments sent from Heaven to prove the cause
Good, pure, which no one could stand up against,
Who was not lost, abandoned, selfish, proud,
Mean, miserable, wilfully depraved,
Hater perverse of equity and truth.

Among that band of Officers was one,
Already hinted at, of other mould--
A patriot, thence rejected by the rest,
And with an oriental loathing spurned,
As of a different caste. A meeker man
Than this lived never, nor a more benign,
Meek though enthusiastic. Injuries
Made 'him' more gracious, and his nature then
Did breathe its sweetness out most sensibly,
As aromatic flowers on Alpine turf,
When foot hath crushed them. He through the events
Of that great change wandered in perfect faith,
As through a book, an old romance, or tale
Of Fairy, or some dream of actions wrought
Behind the summer clouds. By birth he ranked
With the most noble, but unto the poor
Among mankind he was in service bound,
As by some tie invisible, oaths professed
To a religious order. Man he loved
As man; and, to the mean and the obscure,
And all the homely in their homely works,
Transferred a courtesy which had no air
Of condescension; but did rather seem
A passion and a gallantry, like that
Which he, a soldier, in his idler day
Had paid to woman: somewhat vain he was,
Or seemed so, yet it was not vanity,
But fondness, and a kind of radiant joy
Diffused around him, while he was intent
On works of love or freedom, or revolved
Complacently the progress of a cause,
Whereof he was a part: yet this was meek
And placid, and took nothing from the man
That was delightful. Oft in solitude
With him did I discourse about the end
Of civil government, and its wisest forms;
Of ancient loyalty, and chartered rights,
Custom and habit, novelty and change;
Of self-respect, and virtue in the few
For patrimonial honour set apart,
And ignorance in the labouring multitude.
For he, to all intolerance indisposed,
Balanced these contemplations in his mind;
And I, who at that time was scarcely dipped
Into the turmoil, bore a sounder judgment
Than later days allowed; carried about me,
With less alloy to its integrity,
The experience of past ages, as, through help
Of books and common life, it makes sure way
To youthful minds, by objects over near
Not pressed upon, nor dazzled or misled
By struggling with the crowd for present ends.

But though not deaf, nor obstinate to find
Error without excuse upon the side
Of them who strove against us, more delight
We took, and let this freely be confessed,
In painting to ourselves the miseries
Of royal courts, and that voluptuous life
Unfeeling, where the man who is of soul
The meanest thrives the most; where dignity,
True personal dignity, abideth not;
A light, a cruel, and vain world cut off
From the natural inlets of just sentiment,
From lowly sympathy and chastening truth;
Where good and evil interchange their names,
And thirst for bloody spoils abroad is paired
With vice at home. We added dearest themes--
Man and his noble nature, as it is
The gift which God has placed within his power,
His blind desires and steady faculties
Capable of clear truth, the one to break
Bondage, the other to build liberty
On firm foundations, making social life,
Through knowledge spreading and imperishable,
As just in regulation, and as pure
As individual in the wise and good.

We summoned up the honourable deeds
Of ancient Story, thought of each bright spot,
That would be found in all recorded time,
Of truth preserved and error passed away;
Of single spirits that catch the flame from Heaven,
And how the multitudes of men will feed
And fan each other; thought of sects, how keen
They are to put the appropriate nature on,
Triumphant over every obstacle
Of custom, language, country, love, or hate,
And what they do and suffer for their creed;
How far they travel, and how long endure;
How quickly mighty Nations have been formed,
From least beginnings; how, together locked
By new opinions, scattered tribes have made
One body, spreading wide as clouds in heaven.
To aspirations then of our own minds
Did we appeal; and, finally, beheld
A living confirmation of the whole
Before us, in a people from the depth
Of shameful imbecility uprisen,
Fresh as the morning star. Elate we looked
Upon their virtues; saw, in rudest men,
Self-sacrifice the firmest; generous love,
And continence of mind, and sense of right,
Uppermost in the midst of fiercest strife.

Oh, sweet it is, in academic groves,
Or such retirement, Friend! as we have known
In the green dales beside our Rotha's stream,
Greta, or Derwent, or some nameless rill,
To ruminate, with interchange of talk,
On rational liberty, and hope in man,
Justice and peace. But far more sweet such toil--
Toil, say I, for it leads to thoughts abstruse--
If nature then be standing on the brink
Of some great trial, and we hear the voice
Of one devoted,--one whom circumstance
Hath called upon to embody his deep sense
In action, give it outwardly a shape,
And that of benediction, to the world.
Then doubt is not, and truth is more than truth,--
A hope it is, and a desire; a creed
Of zeal, by an authority Divine
Sanctioned, of danger, difficulty, or death.
Such conversation, under Attic shades,
Did Dion hold with Plato; ripened thus
For a Deliverer's glorious task,--and such
He, on that ministry already bound,
Held with Eudemus and Timonides,
Surrounded by adventurers in arms,
When those two vessels with their daring freight,
For the Sicilian Tyrant's overthrow,
Sailed from Zacynthus,--philosophic war,
Led by Philosophers. With harder fate,
Though like ambition, such was he, O Friend!
Of whom I speak. So Beaupuis (let the name
Stand near the worthiest of Antiquity)
Fashioned his life; and many a long discourse,
With like persuasion honoured, we maintained:
He, on his part, accoutred for the worst,
He perished fighting, in supreme command,
Upon the borders of the unhappy Loire,
For liberty, against deluded men,
His fellow-countrymen; and yet most blessed
In this, that he the fate of later times
Lived not to see, nor what we now behold,
Who have as ardent hearts as he had then.

Along that very Loire, with festal mirth
Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet
Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk;
Or in wide forests of continuous shade,
Lofty and over-arched, with open space
Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile--
A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts,
From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought,
And let remembrance steal to other times,
When, o'er those interwoven roots, moss-clad,
And smooth as marble or a waveless sea,
Some Hermit, from his cell forth-strayed, might pace
In sylvan meditation undisturbed;
As on the pavement of a Gothic church
Walks a lone Monk, when service hath expired,
In peace and silence. But if e'er was heard,--
Heard, though unseen,--a devious traveller,
Retiring or approaching from afar
With speed and echoes loud of trampling hoofs
From the hard floor reverberated, then
It was Angelica thundering through the woods
Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid
Erminia, fugitive as fair as she.
Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights
Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm
Rocked high above their heads; anon, the din
Of boisterous merriment, and music's roar,
In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt
Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance
Rejoicing o'er a female in the midst,
A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall.
The width of those huge forests, unto me
A novel scene, did often in this way
Master my fancy while I wandered on
With that revered companion. And sometimes--
When to a convent in a meadow green,
By a brook-side, we came, a roofless pile,
And not by reverential touch of Time
Dismantled, but by violence abrupt--
In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies,
In spite of real fervour, and of that
Less genuine and wrought up within myself--
I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh,
And for the Matin-bell to sound no more
Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross
High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign
(How welcome to the weary traveller's eyes!)
Of hospitality and peaceful rest.
And when the partner of those varied walks
Pointed upon occasion to the site
Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings,
To the imperial edifice of Blois,
Or to that rural castle, name now slipped
From my remembrance, where a lady lodged,
By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him
In chains of mutual passion, from the tower,
As a tradition of the country tells,
Practised to commune with her royal knight
By cressets and love-beacons, intercourse
'Twixt her high-seated residence and his
Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath;
Even here, though less than with the peaceful house
Religious, 'mid those frequent monuments
Of Kings, their vices and their better deeds,
Imagination, potent to inflame
At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn,
Did also often mitigate the force
Of civic prejudice, the bigotry,
So call it, of a youthful patriot's mind;
And on these spots with many gleams I looked
Of chivalrous delight. Yet not the less,
Hatred of absolute rule, where will of one
Is law for all, and of that barren pride
In them who, by immunities unjust,
Between the sovereign and the people stand,
His helper and not theirs, laid stronger hold
Daily upon me, mixed with pity too
And love; for where hope is, there love will be
For the abject multitude, And when we chanced
One day to meet a hunger-bitten girl,
Who crept along fitting her languid gait
Unto a heifer's motion, by a cord
Tied to her arm, and picking thus from the lane
Its sustenance, while the girl with pallid hands
Was busy knitting in a heartless mood
Of solitude, and at the sight my friend
In agitation said, ''Tis against 'that'
That we are fighting,' I with him believed
That a benignant spirit was abroad
Which might not be withstood, that poverty
Abject as this would in a little time
Be found no more, that we should see the earth
Unthwarted in her wish to recompense
The meek, the lowly, patient child of toil,
All institutes for ever blotted out
That legalised exclusion, empty pomp
Abolished, sensual state and cruel power
Whether by edict of the one or few;
And finally, as sum and crown of all,
Should see the people having a strong hand
In framing their own laws; whence better days
To all mankind. But, these things set apart,
Was not this single confidence enough
To animate the mind that ever turned
A thought to human welfare? That henceforth
Captivity by mandate without law
Should cease; and open accusation lead
To sentence in the hearing of the world,
And open punishment, if not the air
Be free to breathe in, and the heart of man
Dread nothing. From this height I shall not stoop
To humbler matter that detained us oft
In thought or conversation, public acts,
And public persons, and emotions wrought
Within the breast, as ever-varying winds
Of record or report swept over us;
But I might here, instead, repeat a tale,
Told by my Patriot friend, of sad events,
That prove to what low depth had struck the roots,
How widely spread the boughs, of that old tree
Which, as a deadly mischief, and a foul
And black dishonour, France was weary of.

Oh, happy time of youthful lovers, (thus
The story might begin,) oh, balmy time,
In which a love-knot, on a lady's brow,
Is fairer than the fairest star in Heaven!
So might--and with that prelude 'did' begin
The record; and, in faithful verse, was given
The doleful sequel.
But our little bark
On a strong river boldly hath been launched;
And from the driving current should we turn
To loiter wilfully within a creek,
Howe'er attractive, Fellow voyager!
Would'st thou not chide? Yet deem not my pains lost:
For Vaudracour and Julia (so were named
The ill-fated pair) in that plain tale will draw
Tears from the hearts of others, when their own
Shall beat no more. Thou, also, there may'st read,
At leisure, how the enamoured youth was driven,
By public power abased, to fatal crime,
Nature's rebellion against monstrous law;
How, between heart and heart, oppression thrust
Her mandates, severing whom true love had joined,
Harassing both; until he sank and pressed
The couch his fate had made for him; supine,
Save when the stings of viperous remorse,
Trying their strength, enforced him to start up,
Aghast and prayerless. Into a deep wood
He fled, to shun the haunts of human kind;
There dwelt, weakened in spirit more and more;
Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France
Full speedily resounded, public hope,
Or personal memory of his own worst wrongs,
Rouse him; but, hidden in those gloomy shades,
His days he wasted,--an imbecile mind.

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Orlando Furioso Canto 6

ARGUMENT
Ariodantes has, a worthy meed,
With his loved bride, the fief of Albany.
Meantime Rogero, on the flying steed,
Arrives in false Alcina's empery:
There from a myrtle-tree her every deed,
A human myrtle hears, and treachery,
And thence would go; but they who first withdrew
Him from one strife, engage him in a new.

I
Wretched that evil man who lives in trust
His secret sin is safe in his possession!
Since, if nought else, the air, the very dust
In which the crime is buried, makes confession,
And oftentimes his guilt compels the unjust,
Though sometime unarraigned in worldly session,
To be his own accuser, and bewray,
So God has willed, deeds hidden from the day.

II
The unhappy Polinesso hopes had nursed,
Wholly his secret treason to conceal.
By taking off Dalinda, who was versed
In this, and only could the fact reveal;
And adding thus a second to his first
Offence, but hurried on the dread appeal,
Which haply he had stunned, at least deferred;
But he to self-destruction blindly spurred.

III
And forfeited estate, and life, and love
Of friends at once, and honour, which was more.
The cavalier unknown, I said above,
Long of the king and court entreated sore,
At length the covering helmet did remove,
And showed a visage often seen before,
The cherished face of Ariodantes true,
Of late lamented weeping Scotland through;

IV
Ariodantes, whom with tearful eye
His brother and Geneura wept as dead,
And king, and people, and nobility:
Such light his goodness and his valour shed.
The pilgrim therefore might appear to lie
In what he of the missing warrior said.
Yet was it true that from a headland, he
Had seen him plunge into the foaming sea.

V
But, as it oft befalls despairing wight,
Who grisly Death desires till he appear;
But loathes what he had sought, on nearer sight;
So painful seems the cruel pass and drear.
Thus, in the sea engulphed, the wretched knight,
Repentant of his deed, was touched with fear;
And, matchless both for spirit and for hand,
Beat back the billows, and returned to land.

VI
And, now despising, as of folly bred,
The fond desire which did to death impell,
Thence, soaked and dripping wet, his way did tread,
And halted at a hermit's humble cell:
And housed within the holy father's shed,
There secretly awhile designed to dwell;
Till to his ears by rumour should be voiced,
If his Geneura sorrowed or rejoiced.

VII
At first he heard that, through excess of woe,
The miserable damsel well-nigh died:
For so abroad the doleful tidings go,
'Twas talked of in the island, far and wide:
Far other proof than that deceitful show,
Which to his cruel grief he thought he spied!
And next against the fair Geneura heard
Lurcanio to her sire his charge preferred:

VIII
Nor for his brother felt less enmity
Than was the love he lately bore the maid;
For he too foul, and full of cruelty,
Esteemed the deed, although for him essayed;
And, hearing after, in her jeopardy,
That none appeared to lend the damsel aid,
Because so puissant was Lurcanio's might,
All dreaded an encounter with the knight,

IX
And that who well the youthful champion knew,
Believed he was so wary and discreet,
That, had what he related been untrue,
He never would have risqued so rash a feat,
- For this the greater part the fight eschew,
Fearing in wrongful cause the knight to meet -
Ariodantes (long his doubts are weighed)
Will meet his brother in Geneura's aid.

X
'Alas! (he said) I cannot bear to see
Thus by my cause the royal damsel die;
My death too bitter and too dread would be,
Did I, before my own, her death descry;
For still my lady, my divinity
She is; - the light and comfort of my eye.
Her, right or wrong, I cannot choose but shield,
And for her safety perish in the field.

XI
'I know I choose the wrong, and be it so!
And in the cause shall die: nor this would move;
But that, alas! my death, as well I know,
Will such a lovely dame's destruction prove,
To death I with one only comfort go,
That, if her Polinesso bears her love,
To her will manifestly be displayed,
That hitherto he moves not in her aid.

XII
'And me, so wronged by her, the maid shall view
Encounter death in her defence; and he,
My brother, who such flames of discord blew,
Shall pay the debt of vengeance due to me.
For well I ween to make Lurcanio rue
(Informed of the event) his cruelty,
Who will have thought to venge me with his brand,
And will have slain me with his very hand.'

XIII
He, having this concluded in his thought,
Made new provision of arms, steed, and shield;
Black was the vest and buckler which he bought,
Where green and yellow striped the sable field:
By hazard found, with him a squire he brought,
A stranger in that country; and, concealed
(As is already told) the unhappy knight,
Against his brother came, prepared for fight.

XV
And yielding to his natural inclination,
And at the suit of all his court beside,
And mostly at Rinaldo's instigation,
Assigned the youth the damsel as his bride.
Albany's duchy, now in sequestration,
Late Polinesso's, who in duel died,
Could not be forfeited in happier hour;
Since this the monarch made his daughter's dower.

XVI
Rinaldo for Dalinda mercy won;
Who from her fault's due punishment went free.
She, satiate of the world, (and this to shun,
The damsel so had vowed) to God will flee:
And hence, in Denmark's land, to live a nun,
Straight from her native Scotland sailed the sea.
But it is time Rogero to pursue,
Who on his courser posts the welkin through.

XVII
Although Rogero is of constant mind,
Not from his cheek the wonted hues depart.
I ween that faster than a leaf i' the wind
Fluttered within his breast the stripling's heart.
All Europe's region he had left behind
In his swift course; and, issuing in that part,
Passed by a mighty space, the southern sound
Where great Alcides fixed the sailor's bound.

XVIII
That hippogryph, huge fowl, and strange to sight,
Bears off the warrior with such rapid wing,
He would have distanced, in his airy flight,
The thunder bearing bird of Aether's king:
Nor other living creature soars such height,
Him in his mighty swiftness equalling.
I scarce believe that bolt, or lightning flies,
Or darts more swiftly from the parted skies.

XIX
When the huge bird his pinions long had plied,
In a straight line, without one stoop or bend,
He, tired of air, with sweeping wheel and wide,
Began upon an island to descend;
Like that fair region, whither, long unspied
Of him, her wayward mood did long offend,
Whilom in vain, through strange and secret sluice,
Passed under sea the Virgin Arethuse.

XX
A more delightful place, wherever hurled
Through the whole air, Rogero had not found:
And, had he ranged the universal world,
Would not have seen a lovelier in his round,
Than that, where, wheeling wide, the courser furled
His spreading wings, and lighted on the ground,
'Mid cultivated plain, delicious hill,
Moist meadow, shady bank, and crystal rill.

XXI
Small thickets, with the scented laurel gay,
Cedar, and orange, full of fruit and flower,
Myrtle and palm, with interwoven spray,
Pleached in mixed modes, all lovely, form a bower;
And, breaking with their shade the scorching ray,
Make a cool shelter from the noontide hour.
And nightingales among those branches wing
Their flight, and safely amorous descants sing.

XXII
Amid red roses and white lilies there,
Which the soft breezes freshen as they fly,
Secure the cony haunts, and timid hare,
And stag, with branching forehead broad and high.
These, fearless of the hunter's dart or snare,
Feed at their ease, or ruminating lie:
While, swarming in those wilds, from tuft or steep
Dun deer or nimble goat, disporting, leap.

XXIII
When the hyppogryph above the island hung,
And had approached so nigh that landscape fair,
That, if his rider from the saddle sprung,
He might the leap with little danger dare,
Rogero lit the grass and flowers among,
But held him, lest he should remount the air:
And to a myrtle, nigh the rolling brine,
Made fast, between a bay-tree and a pine.

XXIV
And there, close-by where rose a bubbling fount,
Begirt the fertile palm and cedar-tree,
He drops the shield, the helmet from his front
Uplifts, and, either hand from gauntlet free,
Now turning to the beach, and now the mount,
Catches the gales which blow from hill or sea,
And, with a joyous murmur, lightly stir
The lofty top of beech, or feathery fir:

XXV
And, now, to bathe his burning lips he strains;
Now dabbles in the crystal wave, to chase
The scorching heat which rages in his veins,
Caught from the heavy corslet's burning case.
Nor is it marvel if the burden pains;
No ramble his in square or market-place!
Three thousand miles, without repose, he went,
And still, at speed, in ponderous armour pent.

XXVI
Meanwhile the courser by the myrtle's side,
Whom he left stabled in the cool retreat,
Started at something in the wood descried,
Scared by I know not what; and in his heat
So made the myrtle shake where he was tied,
He brought a shower of leaves about his feet;
He made the myrtle shake and foliage fall,
But, struggling, could not loose himself withal.

XXVII
As in a stick to feed the chimney rent,
Where scanty pith ill fills the narrow sheath,
The vapour, in its little channel pent,
Struggles, tormented by the fire beneath;
And, till its prisoned fury find a vent,
Is heard to hiss and bubble, sing and seethe:
So the offended myrtle inly pined,
Groaned, murmured, and at last unclosed its rind:

XXVIII
And hence a clear, intelligible speech
Thus issued, with a melancholy sound;
'If, as thy cheer and gentle presence teach,
Thou courteous art and good, his reign unbound,
Release me from this monster, I beseech:
Griefs of my own inflict sufficient wound:
Nor need I, compassed with such ills about,
Other new pain to plague me from without.'

XXIX
At the first sound, Rogero turns to see
Whence came the voice, and, in unused surprise,
Stands, when he finds it issues from the tree;
And swiftly to remove the courser hies.
Then, with a face suffused with crimson, he
In answer to the groaning myrtle, cries;
'Pardon! and, whatsoe'er thou art, be good,
Spirit of man, or goddess of the wood!

XXX
'Unweeting of the wonderous prodigy
Of spirit, pent beneath the knotty rind,
To your fair leaf and living body I
Have done this scathe and outrage undesigned.
But not the less for that, to me reply,
What art thou, who, in rugged case confined,
Dost live and speak? And so may never hail
From angry heaven your gentle boughs assail!

XXXI
'And if I now or ever the despite
I did thee can repair, or aid impart,
I, by that lady dear, my promise plight,
Who in her keeping has my better part,
To strive with word and deed, till thou requite
The service done with praise and grateful heart.'
Rogero said; and, as he closed his suit,
That gentle myrtle shook from top to root.

XXXII
Next drops were seen to stand upon the bark,
As juice is sweated by the sapling-spray,
New-severed, when it yields to flame and spark,
Sometime in vain kept back and held at bay.
And next the voice began: 'My story dark,
Forced by thy courteous deed, I shall display; -
What once I was - by whom, through magic lore,
Changed to a myrtle on the pleasant shore.

XXXIII
'A peer of France, Astolpho was my name,
Whilom a paladin, sore feared in fight;
Cousin I was to two of boundless fame,
Orlando and Rinaldo. I by right
Looked to all England's crown; my lawful claim
After my royal father, Otho hight.
More dames than one my beauty served to warm,
And in conclusion wrought my single harm.

XXXIV
'Returning from those isles, whose eastern side
The billows of the Indian ocean beat,
Where good Rinaldo and more knights beside
With me were pent in dark and hollow seat,
Thence, rescued by illustrious Brava's pride,
Whose prowess freed us from that dark retreat,
Westward I fared along the sandy shores,
On which the stormy north his fury pours.

XXXV
'Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we
Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand,
Where stood a mansion seated by the sea:
Puissant Alcina owned the house and land.
We found her, where, without her dwelling, she
Had taken on the beach her lonely stand;
And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore,
What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore.

XXXVI
'Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred,
And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap;
Thither the seal or porpus' wallowing herd
Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep;
Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word,
And mullet hurry through the briny deep,
With monstrous backs above the water, sail
Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale.

XXXVII
'There we behold a mighty whale, of size
The hugest yet in any water seen:
More than eleven paces, to our eyes,
His back appears above the surface green:
And (for still firm and motionless he lies,
And such the distance his two ends between)
We all are cheated by the floating pile,
And idly take the monster for an isle.

XXXVIII
'Alcina made the ready fish obey
By simple words and by mere magic lore:
Born with Morgana - but I cannot say
If at one birth, or after or before.
As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay;
Who showed it in the countenance she wore:
Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent,
To part me from the friends with whom I went.

XXXIX
'She came towards us with a cheerful face,
With graceful gestures, and a courteous air,
And said: 'So you my lodging please to grace,
Sir cavalier, and will with me repair,
You shall behold the wonders of my chace,
And note the different sorts of fish I snare;
Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light,
And more in number than the stars of night:

XL
' 'And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet,
That the rude sea grows civil at her song,
Wont at this hour her music to repeat,
(With that she showed the monster huge and long
- I said it seemed an island - as her seat)
Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.'
I, that was always wilful, at her wish,
I now lament my rashness, climb the fish.

XLI
'To Dudon and Rinaldo's signal blind,
I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay.
With laughing face Alcina mounts behind,
Leaving the other two beside the bay.
The obedient fish performs the task assigned,
And through the yielding water works his way.
Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare,
Too far from land my folly to repair.

XLII
'To aid me swam Mount Alban's cavalier,
And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise;
For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near,
Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies.
I know not after what befel the peer:
This while Alcina to console me tries,
And all that day, and night which followed, me
Detained upon that monster in mid-sea,

XLIII
'Till to this isle we drifted with the morn,
Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share;
By that usurper from a sister torn,
Who was her father's universal heir:
For that she only was in wedlock born,
And for those other two false sisters were
(So well-instructed in the story, said
One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred.

XLIV
'As these are practised in iniquity,
And full of every vice and evil art;
So she, who ever lives in chastity,
Wisely on better things has set her heart.
Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy,
Those others are, to drive her from her part:
And more than once their armies have o'errun
Her realm, and towns above a hundred won.

XLV
'Nor at this hour a single span of ground
Would Logistilla (such her name) command,
But that a mountain here, and there a sound,
Protects the remnant from the invading band.
'Tis thus the mountain and the river bound
England, and part it from the Scottish land.
Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest,
Till of her scanty remnant dispossest.

XLVI
'Because in wickedness and vice were bred
The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame.
But, to return to what I lately said,
And to relate how I a plant became;
Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed
With full delights; nor I a weaker flame
For her, within my burning heart did bear,
Beholding her so courteous and so fair.

XLVII
'Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure,
I weened that I each separate good had won,
Which to mankind is dealt in different measure,
Little or more to some, and much to none.
I evermore contemplated my treasure,
Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon:
In her my every fancy, every hope
Centered and ended as their common scope.

XLVIII
'By her I was as much beloved, or more;
Nor did Alcina now for other care;
She left her every lover; for before,
Others, in truth, the fairy's love did share:
I was her close adviser evermore;
And served by her, where they commanded were.
With me she counselled, and to me referred;
Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word.

XLIX
'Why touch my wounds, to aggravate my ill,
And that, alas! without the hope of cure?
Why thus the good possessed remember still,
Amid the cruel penance I endure?
When kindest I believed Alcina's will,
And fondly deemed my happiness secure,
From me the heart she gave, the fay withdrew,
And yielded all her soul to love more new.

L
'Late I discerned her light and fickle bent,
Still loving and unloving at a heat:
Two months, I reigned not more, no sooner spent,
Than a new paramour assumed my seat;
And me, with scorn, she doomed to banishment,
From her fair grace cast out. 'Tis then I weet
I share a thousand lovers' fate, whom she
Had to like pass reduced, all wrongfully.

LI
'And these, because they should not scatter bruits,
Roaming the world, of her lascivious ways,
She, up and down the fruitful soil, transmutes
To olive, palm, or cedar, firs or bays.
These, as you see me changed, Alcina roots;
While this transformed into a monster strays;
Another melts into a liquid rill;
As suits that haughty fairy's wanton will.

LII
'Thou, too, that to this fatal isle art led
By way unwonted and till now unknown,
That some possessor of the fairy's bed,
May be for thee transformed to wave or stone,
Thou shalt, with more than mortal pleasures fed,
Have from Alcina seigniory and throne;
But shalt be sure to join the common flock,
Transformed to beast or fountain, plant or rock.

LIII
'I willingly to thee this truth impart,
Not that I hope with profit to advise:
Yet 'twill be better, that informed, in part,
Of her false ways, she harm not by surprise.
Perhaps, as faces differ, and in art
And wit of man an equal difference lies,
Thou may'st some remedy perchance apply
To the ill, which thousand others could not fly.'

LIV
The good Rogero, who from Fame had learned
That he was cousin to the dame he wooed,
Lamented much the sad Astolpho, turned
From his true form, to barren plant and rude:
And for her love, for whom so sore he burned,
Would gladly serve the stripling if he cou'd:
But, witless how to give the wished relief,
Might but console the unhappy warrior's grief.

LV
As best he could, he strove to soothe his pain;
Then asked him, if to Logistil's retreat
Were passage, whether over hill or plain;
That he might so eschew Alcina's seat.
- `There was a way', the myrtle said again,
- `But rough with stones, and rugged to the feet -
If he, some little further to the right,
Would scale the Alpine mountain's very height:

LVI
`But that he must not think he shall pursue
The intended journey far; since by the way
He will encounter with a frequent crew,
And fierce, who serve as rampart to the fay,
That block the road against the stranger, who
Would break her bounds, and the deserter stay.'
Rogero thanked the tree for all, and taught,
Departed thence with full instructions fraught.

LVII
The courser from the myrtle he untied,
And by the bridle led behind him still;
Nor would he, as before, the horse bestride,
Lest he should bear him off against his will:
He mused this while how safely he might find
A passage to the land of Logistil;
Firm in his purpose every nerve to strain,
Lest empire over him Alcina gain.

LVIII
He to remount the steed, and through the air
To spur him to a new career again
Now thought; but doubted next, in fear to fare
Worse on the courser, restive to the rein.
'No, I will win by force the mountain stair,'
Rogero said; (but the resolve was vain)
Nor by the beach two miles his way pursued,
Ere he Alcina's lovely city viewed.

LIX
A lofty wall at distance meets his eye
Which girds a spacious town within its bound;
It seems as if its summit touched the sky,
And all appears like gold from top to ground.
Here some one says it is but alchemy
- And haply his opinion is unsound -
And haply he more wittily divines:
For me, I deem it gold because it shines.

LX
When he was nigh the city-walls, so bright,
The world has not their equal, he the straight
And spacious way deserts, the way which dight
Across the plain, conducted to the gate;
And by that safer road upon the right,
Strains now against the mountain; but, in wait,
Encounters soon the crowd of evil foes,
Who furiously the Child's advance oppose.

LXI
Was never yet beheld a stranger band,
Of mien more hideous, or more monstrous shape.
Formed downwards from neck like men, he scanned
Some with the head of cat, and some of ape;
With hoof of goat that other stamped the sand;
While some seemed centaurs, quick in fight and rape;
Naked, or mantled in outlandish skin.
These doting sires, those striplings bold in sin.

LXII
This gallops on a horse without a bit;
This backs the sluggish ass, or bullock slow;
These mounted on the croup of centaur sit:
Those perched on eagle, crane, or estridge, go.
Some male, some female, some hermaphrodit,
These drain the cup and those the bungle blow.
One bore a corded ladder, one a book;
One a dull file, or bar of iron shook.

LXIII
The captain of this crew, which blocked the road,
Appeared, with monstrous paunch and bloated face;
Who a slow tortoise for a horse bestrode,
That passing sluggishly with him did pace:
Down looked, some here, some there, sustained the load,
For he was drunk, and kept him in his place.
Some wipe his brows and chin from sweat which ran,
And others with their vests his visage fan.

LXIV
One, with a human shape and feet, his crest,
Fashioned like hound, in neck and ears and head,
Bayed at the gallant Child with angry quest,
To turn him to the city whence he fled.
'That will I never, while of strength possessed
To brandish this,' the good Rogero said:
With that his trenchant faulchion he displayed,
And pointed at him full the naked blade.

LXV
That monster would have smote him with a spear,
But swiftly at his foe Rogero sprung,
Thrust at his paunch, and drove his faulchion sheer
Through his pierced back a palm; his buckler flung
Before him, and next sallied there and here:
But all too numerous was the wicked throng.
Now grappled from behind, now punched before,
He stands, and plies the crowd with warfare sore.

LXVI
One to the teeth, another to the breast,
Of that foul race he cleft; since no one steeled
In mail, his brows with covering helmet dressed,
Or fought, secured by corslet or by shield;
Yet is he so upon all quarters pressed,
That it would need the Child, to clear the field,
And to keep off the wicked crew which swarms,
More than Briareus' hundred hands and arms.

LXVII
If he had thought the magic shield to show,
(I speak of that the necromancer bore,
Which dazed the sight of the astonished foe,
Left at his saddle by the wizard Moor)
That hideous band, in sudden overthrow,
Blinded by this, had sunk the knight before.
But haply he despised such mean as vile,
And would prevail by valour, not by guile.

LXVIII
This as it may: the Child would meet his fate,
Ere by so vile a band be prisoner led;
When, lo! forth issuing from the city's gate,
Whose wall appeared like shining gold I said,
Two youthful dames, not born in low estate,
If measured by their mien and garb, nor bred
By swain, in early wants and troubles versed;
But amid princely joys in palace nursed!

LXIX
On unicorn was seated either fair,
A beast than spotless ermine yet more white;
So lovely were the damsels, and so rare
Their garb, and with such graceful fashion dight,
That he who closely viewed the youthful pair,
Would need a surer sense than mortal sight,
To judge between the two. With such a mien
Embodied Grace and Beauty would be seen.

LXX
Into the mead rode this and the other dame,
Where the foul crew opposed the Child's retreat.
The rabble scattered as the ladies came,
Who with extended hand the warrior greet.
He, with a kindling visage, red with shame,
Thanked the two damsels for their gentle feat;
And was content upon their will to wait,
With them returning to that golden gate.

LXXI
Above, a cornice round the gateway goes,
Somedeal projecting from the colonnade,
In which is not a single part but glows,
With rarest gems of India overlaid.
Propp'd at four points, the portal did repose
On columns of one solid diamond made.
Whether what met the eye was false or true,
Was never sight more fair or glad to view.

LXXII
Upon the sill and through the columns there,
Ran young and wanton girls, in frolic sport;
Who haply yet would have appeared more fair,
Had they observed a woman's fitting port.
All are arrayed in green, and garlands wear
Of the fresh leaf. Him these in courteous sort,
With many proffers and fair mien entice,
And welcome to this opening Paradise:

LXXIII
For so with reason I this place may call,
Where, it is my belief, that Love had birth;
Where life is spent in festive game and ball,
And still the passing moments fleet in mirth.
Here hoary-headed Thought ne'er comes at all,
Nor finds a place in any bosom. Dearth,
Nor yet Discomfort, never enter here,
Where Plenty fills her horn throughout the year.

LXXIV
Here, where with jovial and unclouded brow,
Glad April seems to wear a constant smile,
Troop boys and damsels: One, whose fountains flow,
On the green margin sings in dulcet style;
Others, the hill or tufted tree below,
In dance, or no mean sport the hours beguile.
While this, who shuns the revellers' noisy cheer,
Tells his love sorrows in his comrade's ear.

LXXV
Above the laurel and pine-tree's height,
Through the tall beech and shaggy fir-tree's spray,
Sport little loves, with desultory flight:
These, at their conquests made, rejoiced and gay:
These, with the well-directed shaft, take sight
At hearts, and those spread nets to catch their prey;
One wets his arrows in the brook which winds,
And one on whirling stone the weapon grinds.

LXXVI
To good Rogero here was brought a steed,
Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue;
Who was caparisoned with costly weed,
Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view.
That other winged horse, which, at his need,
Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew,
The friendly damsels to a youth consigned,
Who led him at a slower pace behind.

LXXVII
That kindly pair who, by the wicked band
Offended fate, had saved the youthful knight;
The wicked crew, that did the Child withstand,
When he the road had taken on his right,
Exclaimed, 'Fair sir, your works already scanned
By us, who are instructed of your might,
Embolden us, in our behalf, to pray
You will the prowess of your arm assay.

LXXVIII
'We soon shall reach a bottom which divides
The plain into two parts: A cruel dame
A bridge maintains, which there a stream bestrides,
Eriphila the savage beldam's name;
Who cheats, and robs, and scathes, whoever rides
To the other shore, a giantess in frame;
Who has long poisonous teeth her prey to tear,
And scratches with her talons like a bear.

LXXIX
'Besides that she infests the public way,
Which else were free; she often ranging through
All this fair garden, puts in disarray
This thing or that. Of the assassin crew,
That people who without the portal gay,
Lately with brutal rage assaulted you,
Many her sons, the whole her followers call,
As greedy and inhospitable all.'

LXXX
'For you not only her I would assail,
But do a hundred battles, well content:
Then of my person, where it may avail,
Dispose (Rogero said) to you intent.
Silver and land to conquer, plate or mail
I swear not, I, in warlike cuirass pent;
But to afford my aid to others due;
And, most of all, to beauteous dames like you.'

LXXXI
Their grateful thanks the ladies, worthily
Bestowed on such a valiant champion, paid:
They talking thus the bridge and river see,
And at her post the haughty dame arraid
(Sapphire and emerald decked the panoply)
In arms of gold: but I awhile delay
Till other strain the issue of the fray.

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Book Seventh [Residence in London]

SIX changeful years have vanished since I first
Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze
Which met me issuing from the City's walls)
A glad preamble to this Verse: I sang
Aloud, with fervour irresistible
Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting,
From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side
To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth
(So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream,
That flowed awhile with unabating strength,
Then stopped for years; not audible again
Before last primrose-time. Beloved Friend!
The assurance which then cheered some heavy thoughts
On thy departure to a foreign land
Has failed; too slowly moves the promised work.
Through the whole summer have I been at rest,
Partly from voluntary holiday,
And part through outward hindrance. But I heard,
After the hour of sunset yester-even,
Sitting within doors between light and dark,
A choir of redbreasts gathered somewhere near
My threshold,--minstrels from the distant woods
Sent in on Winter's service, to announce,
With preparation artful and benign,
That the rough lord had left the surly North
On his accustomed journey. The delight,
Due to this timely notice, unawares
Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said,
'Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be
Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds,
Will chant together.' Thereafter, as the shades
Of twilight deepened, going forth, I spied
A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume
Or canopy of yet unwithered fern,
Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen
Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here
No less than sound had done before; the child
Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself,
The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills,
Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir
Of Winter that had warbled at my door,
And the whole year breathed tenderness and love.

The last night's genial feeling overflowed
Upon this morning, and my favourite grove,
Tossing in sunshine its dark boughs aloft,
As if to make the strong wind visible,
Wakes in me agitations like its own,
A spirit friendly to the Poet's task,
Which we will now resume with lively hope,
Nor checked by aught of tamer argument
That lies before us, needful to be told.

Returned from that excursion, soon I bade
Farewell for ever to the sheltered seats
Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower,
And every comfort of that privileged ground,
Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among
The unfenced regions of society.

Yet, undetermined to what course of life
I should adhere, and seeming to possess
A little space of intermediate time
At full command, to London first I turned,
In no disturbance of excessive hope,
By personal ambition unenslaved,
Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed,
From dangerous passions free. Three years had flown
Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock
Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced
Her endless streets, a transient visitant:
Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind
Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly,
And life and labour seem but one, I filled
An idler's place; an idler well content
To have a house (what matter for a home?)
That owned him; living cheerfully abroad
With unchecked fancy ever on the stir,
And all my young affections out of doors.

There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned
Of airy palaces, and gardens built
By Genii of romance; or hath in grave
Authentic history been set forth of Rome,
Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis;
Or given upon report by pilgrim friars,
Of golden cities ten months' journey deep
Among Tartarian wilds--fell short, far short,
Of what my fond simplicity believed
And thought of London--held me by a chain
Less strong of wonder and obscure delight.
Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot
For me beyond its ordinary mark,
'Twere vain to ask; but in our flock of boys
Was One, a cripple from his birth, whom chance
Summoned from school to London; fortunate
And envied traveller! When the Boy returned,
After short absence, curiously I scanned
His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth,
From disappointment, not to find some change
In look and air, from that new region brought,
As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him;
And every word he uttered, on my ears
Fell flatter than a caged parrot's note,
That answers unexpectedly awry,
And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things
Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears
Almost as deeply seated and as strong
In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived
For my enjoyment. Would that I could now
Recall what then I pictured to myself,
Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad,
The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last,
Nor least, Heaven bless him! the renowned Lord Mayor.
Dreams not unlike to those which once begat
A change of purpose in young Whittington,
When he, a friendless and a drooping boy,
Sate on a stone, and heard the bells speak out
Articulate music. Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.

Oh, wondrous power of words, by simple faith
Licensed to take the meaning that we love!
Vauxhall and Ranelagh! I then had heard
Of your green groves, and wilderness of lamps
Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical,
And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes,
Floating in dance, or warbling high in air
The songs of spirits! Nor had Fancy fed
With less delight upon that other class
Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent:
The River proudly bridged; the dizzy top
And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; the tombs
Of Westminster; the Giants of Guildhall;
Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates,
Perpetually recumbent; Statues--man,
And the horse under him--in gilded pomp
Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares;
The Monument, and that Chamber of the Tower
Where England's sovereigns sit in long array,
Their steeds bestriding,--every mimic shape
Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore,
Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed,
Or life or death upon the battle-field.
Those bold imaginations in due time
Had vanished, leaving others in their stead:
And now I looked upon the living scene;
Familiarly perused it; oftentimes,
In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased
Through courteous self-submission, as a tax
Paid to the object by prescriptive right.

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes--
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe--
On strangers, of all ages; the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din;
The comers and the goers face to face,
Face after face; the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman's honours overhead:
Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page,
With letters huge inscribed from top to toe,
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints;
There, allegoric shapes, female or male,
Or physiognomies of real men,
Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea,
Boyle, Shakspeare, Newton, or the attractive head
Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day.

Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length,
Escaped as from an enemy, we turn
Abruptly into some sequestered nook,
Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud!
At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort,
And sights and sounds that come at intervals,
We take our way. A raree-show is here,
With children gathered round; another street
Presents a company of dancing dogs,
Or dromedary, with an antic pair
Of monkeys on his back; a minstrel band
Of Savoyards; or, single and alone,
An English ballad-singer. Private courts,
Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes
Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike
The very shrillest of all London cries,
May then entangle our impatient steps;
Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares,
To privileged regions and inviolate,
Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers
Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.

Thence back into the throng, until we reach,
Following the tide that slackens by degrees,
Some half-frequented scene, where wider streets
Bring straggling breezes of suburban air.
Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls;
Advertisements, of giant-size, from high
Press forward, in all colours, on the sight;
These, bold in conscious merit, lower down;
'That', fronted with a most imposing word,
Is, peradventure, one in masquerade.
As on the broadening causeway we advance,
Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong
In lineaments, and red with over-toil.
'Tis one encountered here and everywhere;
A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short,
And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb
Another lies at length, beside a range
Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed
Upon the smooth flint stones: the Nurse is here,
The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself,
The military Idler, and the Dame,
That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps.

Now homeward through the thickening hubbub, where
See, among less distinguishable shapes,
The begging scavenger, with hat in hand;
The Italian, as he thrids his way with care,
Steadying, far-seen, a frame of images
Upon his head; with basket at his breast
The Jew; the stately and slow-moving Turk,
With freight of slippers piled beneath his arm!

Enough;--the mighty concourse I surveyed
With no unthinking mind, well pleased to note
Among the crowd all specimens of man,
Through all the colours which the sun bestows,
And every character of form and face:
The Swede, the Russian; from the genial south,
The Frenchman and the Spaniard; from remote
America, the Hunter-Indian; Moors,
Malays, Lascars, the Tartar, the Chinese,
And Negro Ladies in white muslin gowns.

At leisure, then, I viewed, from day to day,
The spectacles within doors,--birds and beasts
Of every nature, and strange plants convened
From every clime; and, next, those sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to show.
I do not here allude to subtlest craft,
By means refined attaining purest ends,
But imitations, fondly made in plain
Confession of man's weakness and his loves.
Whether the Painter, whose ambitious skill
Submits to nothing less than taking in
A whole horizon's circuit, do with power,
Like that of angels or commissioned spirits,
Fix us upon some lofty pinnacle,
Or in a ship on waters, with a world
Of life, and life-like mockery beneath,
Above, behind, far stretching and before;
Or more mechanic artist represent
By scale exact, in model, wood or clay,
From blended colours also borrowing help,
Some miniature of famous spots or things,--
St. Peter's Church; or, more aspiring aim,
In microscopic vision, Rome herself;
Or, haply, some choice rural haunt,--the Falls
Of Tivoli; and, high upon that steep,
The Sibyl's mouldering Temple! every tree,
Villa, or cottage, lurking among rocks
Throughout the landscape; tuft, stone scratch minute--
All that the traveller sees when he is there.

Add to these exhibitions, mute and still,
Others of wider scope, where living men,
Music, and shifting pantomimic scenes,
Diversified the allurement. Need I fear
To mention by its name, as in degree,
Lowest of these and humblest in attempt,
Yet richly graced with honours of her own,
Half-rural Sadler's Wells? Though at that time
Intolerant, as is the way of youth
Unless itself be pleased, here more than once
Taking my seat, I saw (nor blush to add,
With ample recompense) giants and dwarfs,
Clowns, conjurors, posture-masters, harlequins,
Amid the uproar of the rabblement,
Perform their feats. Nor was it mean delight
To watch crude Nature work in untaught minds;
To note the laws and progress of belief;
Though obstinate on this way, yet on that
How willingly we travel, and how far!
To have, for instance, brought upon the scene
The champion, Jack the Giant-killer: Lo!
He dons his coat of darkness; on the stage
Walks, and achieves his wonders, from the eye
Of living Mortal covert, 'as the moon
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.'
Delusion bold! and how can it be wrought?
The garb he wears is black as death, the word
'Invisible' flames forth upon his chest.

Here, too, were 'forms and pressures of the time,'
Rough, bold, as Grecian comedy displayed
When Art was young; dramas of living men,
And recent things yet warm with life; a sea-fight,
Shipwreck, or some domestic incident
Divulged by Truth and magnified by Fame;
Such as the daring brotherhood of late
Set forth, too serious theme for that light place--
I mean, O distant Friend! a story drawn
From our own ground,--the Maid of Buttermere,--
And how, unfaithful to a virtuous wife
Deserted and deceived, the Spoiler came
And wooed the artless daughter of the hills,
And wedded her, in cruel mockery
Of love and marriage bonds. These words to thee
Must needs bring back the moment when we first,
Ere the broad world rang with the maiden's name,
Beheld her serving at the cottage inn;
Both stricken, as she entered or withdrew,
With admiration of her modest mien
And carriage, marked by unexampled grace.
We since that time not unfamiliarly
Have seen her,--her discretion have observed,
Her just opinions, delicate reserve,
Her patience, and humility of mind
Unspoiled by commendation and the excess
Of public notice--an offensive light
To a meek spirit suffering inwardly.

From this memorial tribute to my theme
I was returning, when, with sundry forms
Commingled--shapes which met me in the way
That we must tread--thy image rose again,
Maiden of Buttermere! She lives in peace
Upon the spot where she was born and reared;
Without contamination doth she live
In quietness, without anxiety:
Beside the mountain chapel, sleeps in earth
Her new-born infant, fearless as a lamb
That, thither driven from some unsheltered place,
Rests underneath the little rock-like pile
When storms are raging. Happy are they both--
Mother and child!--These feelings, in themselves
Trite, do yet scarcely seem so when I think
On those ingenuous moments of our youth
Ere we have learnt by use to slight the crimes
And sorrows of the world. Those simple days
Are now my theme; and, foremost of the scenes,
Which yet survive in memory, appears
One, at whose centre sate a lovely Boy,
A sportive infant, who, for six months' space,
Not more, had been of age to deal about
Articulate prattle--Child as beautiful
As ever clung around a mother's neck,
Or father fondly gazed upon with pride.
There, too, conspicuous for stature tall
And large dark eyes, beside her infant stood
The mother; but, upon her cheeks diffused,
False tints too well accorded with the glare
From play-house lustres thrown without reserve
On every object near. The Boy had been
The pride and pleasure of all lookers-on
In whatsoever place, but seemed in this
A sort of alien scattered from the clouds.
Of lusty vigour, more than infantine
He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose
Just three parts blown--a cottage-child--if e'er,
By cottage-door on breezy mountain-side,
Or in some sheltering vale, was seen a babe
By Nature's gifts so favoured. Upon a board
Decked with refreshments had this child been placed
'His' little stage in the vast theatre,
And there he sate, surrounded with a throng
Of chance spectators, chiefly dissolute men
And shameless women, treated and caressed;
Ate, drank, and with the fruit and glasses played,
While oaths and laughter and indecent speech
Were rife about him as the songs of birds
Contending after showers. The mother now
Is fading out of memory, but I see
The lovely Boy as I beheld him then
Among the wretched and the falsely gay,
Like one of those who walked with hair unsinged
Amid the fiery furnace. Charms and spells
Muttered on black and spiteful instigation
Have stopped, as some believe, the kindliest growths.
Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever!
But with its universal freight the tide
Hath rolled along, and this bright innocent,
Mary! may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.

Four rapid years had scarcely then been told
Since, travelling southward from our pastoral hills,
I heard, and for the first time in my life,
The voice of woman utter blasphemy--
Saw woman as she is, to open shame
Abandoned, and the pride of public vice;
I shuddered, for a barrier seemed at once
Thrown in that from humanity divorced
Humanity, splitting the race of man
In twain, yet leaving the same outward form.
Distress of mind ensued upon the sight,
And ardent meditation. Later years
Brought to such spectacle a milder sadness,
Feelings of pure commiseration, grief
For the individual and the overthrow
Of her soul's beauty; farther I was then
But seldom led, or wished to go; in truth
The sorrow of the passion stopped me there.

But let me now, less moved, in order take
Our argument. Enough is said to show
How casual incidents of real life,
Observed where pastime only had been sought,
Outweighed, or put to flight, the set events
And measured passions of the stage, albeit
By Siddons trod in the fulness of her power.
Yet was the theatre my dear delight;
The very gilding, lamps and painted scrolls,
And all the mean upholstery of the place,
Wanted not animation, when the tide
Of pleasure ebbed but to return as fast
With the ever-shifting figures of the scene,
Solemn or gay: whether some beauteous dame
Advanced in radiance through a deep recess
Of thick entangled forest, like the moon
Opening the clouds; or sovereign king, announced
With flourishing trumpet, came in full-blown state
Of the world's greatness, winding round with train
Of courtiers, banners, and a length of guards;
Or captive led in abject weeds, and jingling
His slender manacles; or romping girl
Bounced, leapt, and pawed the air; or mumbling sire,
A scare-crow pattern of old age dressed up
In all the tatters of infirmity
All loosely put together, hobbled in,
Stumping upon a cane with which he smites,
From time to time, the solid boards, and makes them
Prate somewhat loudly of the whereabout
Of one so overloaded with his years.
But what of this! the laugh, the grin, grimace,
The antics striving to outstrip each other,
Were all received, the least of them not lost,
With an unmeasured welcome. Through the night,
Between the show, and many-headed mass
Of the spectators, and each several nook
Filled with its fray or brawl, how eagerly
And with what flashes, as it were, the mind
Turned this way--that way! sportive and alert
And watchful, as a kitten when at play,
While winds are eddying round her, among straws
And rustling leaves. Enchanting age and sweet!
Romantic almost, looked at through a space,
How small, of intervening years! For then,
Though surely no mean progress had been made
In meditations holy and sublime,
Yet something of a girlish child-like gloss
Of novelty survived for scenes like these;
Enjoyment haply handed down from times
When at a country-playhouse, some rude barn
Tricked out for that proud use, if I perchance
Caught, on a summer evening through a chink
In the old wall, an unexpected glimpse
Of daylight, the bare thought of where I was
Gladdened me more than if I had been led
Into a dazzling cavern of romance,
Crowded with Genii busy among works
Not to be looked at by the common sun.

The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, and the curious props
By which the world of memory and thought
Exists and is sustained. More lofty themes,
Such as at least do wear a prouder face,
Solicit our regard; but when I think
Of these, I feel the imaginative power
Languish within me; even then it slept,
When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart
Was more than full; amid my sobs and tears
It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth.
For though I was most passionately moved
And yielded to all changes of the scene
With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm
Passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind;
Save when realities of act and mien,
The incarnation of the spirits that move
In harmony amid the Poet's world,
Rose to ideal grandeur, or, called forth
By power of contrast, made me recognise,
As at a glance, the things which I had shaped,
And yet not shaped, had seen and scarcely seen,
When, having closed the mighty Shakspeare's page,
I mused, and thought, and felt, in solitude.

Pass we from entertainments, that are such
Professedly, to others titled higher,
Yet, in the estimate of youth at least,
More near akin to those than names imply,--
I mean the brawls of lawyers in their courts
Before the ermined judge, or that great stage
Where senators, tongue-favoured men, perform,
Admired and envied. Oh! the beating heart,
When one among the prime of these rose up,--
One, of whose name from childhood we had heard
Familiarly, a household term, like those,
The Bedfords, Glosters, Salsburys, of old,
Whom the fifth Harry talks of. Silence! hush!
This is no trifler, no short-flighted wit,
No stammerer of a minute, painfully
Delivered, No! the Orator hath yoked
The Hours, like young Aurora, to his car:
Thrice welcome Presence! how can patience e'er
Grow weary of attending on a track
That kindles with such glory! All are charmed,
Astonished; like a hero in romance,
He winds away his never-ending horn;
Words follow words, sense seems to follow sense:
What memory and what logic! till the strain
Transcendent, superhuman as it seemed,
Grows tedious even in a young man's ear.

Genius of Burke! forgive the pen seduced
By specious wonders, and too slow to tell
Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men,
Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides,
And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught,
Rapt auditors! from thy most eloquent tongue--
Now mute, for ever mute in the cold grave.
I see him,--old, but vigorous in age,--
Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start
Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe
The younger brethren of the grove. But some--
While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth,
Against all systems built on abstract rights,
Keen ridicule; the majesty proclaims
Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time;
Declares the vital power of social ties
Endeared by Custom; and with high disdain,
Exploding upstart Theory, insists
Upon the allegiance to which men are born--
Some--say at once a froward multitude--
Murmur (for truth is hated, where not loved)
As the winds fret within the Aeolian cave,
Galled by their monarch's chain. The times were big
With ominous change, which, night by night, provoked
Keen struggles, and black clouds of passion raised;
But memorable moments intervened,
When Wisdom, like the Goddess from Jove's brain,
Broke forth in armour of resplendent words,
Startling the Synod. Could a youth, and one
In ancient story versed, whose breast had heaved
Under the weight of classic eloquence,
Sit, see, and hear, unthankful, uninspired?

Nor did the Pulpit's oratory fail
To achieve its higher triumph. Not unfelt
Were its admonishments, nor lightly heard
The awful truths delivered thence by tongues
Endowed with various power to search the soul;
Yet ostentation, domineering, oft
Poured forth harangues, how sadly out of place!--
There have I seen a comely bachelor,
Fresh from a toilette of two hours, ascend
His rostrum, with seraphic glance look up,
And, in a tone elaborately low
Beginning, lead his voice through many a maze
A minuet course; and, winding up his mouth,
From time to time, into an orifice
Most delicate, a lurking eyelet, small,
And only not invisible, again
Open it out, diffusing thence a smile
Of rapt irradiation, exquisite.
Meanwhile the Evangelists, Isaiah, Job,
Moses, and he who penned, the other day,
The Death of Abel, Shakspeare, and the Bard
Whose genius spangled o'er a gloomy theme
With fancies thick as his inspiring stars,
And Ossian (doubt not--'tis the naked truth)
Summoned from streamy Morven--each and all
Would, in their turns, lend ornaments and flowers
To entwine the crook of eloquence that helped
This pretty Shepherd, pride of all the plains,
To rule and guide his captivated flock.

I glance but at a few conspicuous marks,
Leaving a thousand others, that, in hall,
Court, theatre, conventicle, or shop,
In public room or private, park or street,
Each fondly reared on his own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. Folly, vice,
Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress,
And all the strife of singularity,
Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense--
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. Such candidates for regard,
Although well pleased to be where they were found,
I did not hunt after, nor greatly prize,
Nor made unto myself a secret boast
Of reading them with quick and curious eye;
But, as a common produce, things that are
To-day, to-morrow will be, took of them
Such willing note, as, on some errand bound
That asks not speed, a traveller might bestow
On sea-shells that bestrew the sandy beach,
Or daisies swarming through the fields of June.

But foolishness and madness in parade,
Though most at home in this their dear domain,
Are scattered everywhere, no rarities,
Even to the rudest novice of the Schools.
Me, rather, it employed, to note, and keep
In memory, those individual sights
Of courage, or integrity, or truth,
Or tenderness, which there, set off by foil,
Appeared more touching. One will I select--
A Father--for he bore that sacred name;--
Him saw I, sitting in an open square,
Upon a corner-stone of that low wall,
Wherein were fixed the iron pales that fenced
A spacious grass-plot; there, in silence, sate
This One Man, with a sickly babe outstretched
Upon his knee, whom he had thither brought
For sunshine, and to breathe the fresher air.
Of those who passed, and me who looked at him,
He took no heed; but in his brawny arms
(The Artificer was to the elbow bare,
And from his work this moment had been stolen)
He held the child, and, bending over it,
As if he were afraid both of the sun
And of the air, which he had come to seek,
Eyed the poor babe with love unutterable.

As the black storm upon the mountain top
Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so
That huge fermenting mass of human-kind
Serves as a solemn back-ground, or relief,
To single forms and objects, whence they draw,
For feeling and contemplative regard,
More than inherent liveliness and power.
How oft, amid those overflowing streets,
Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said
Unto myself, 'The face of every one
That passes by me is a mystery!'
Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed
By thoughts of what and whither, when and how,
Until the shapes before my eyes became
A second-sight procession, such as glides
Over still mountains, or appears in dreams;
And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond
The reach of common indication, lost
Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten
Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare)
Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face,
Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest
Wearing a written paper, to explain
His story, whence he came, and who he was.
Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round
As with the might of waters; and apt type
This label seemed of the utmost we can know,
Both of ourselves and of the universe;
And, on the shape of that unmoving man,
His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed,
As if admonished from another world.

Though reared upon the base of outward things,
Structures like these the excited spirit mainly
Builds for herself; scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,--the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still:
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts; at late hours
Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains
Are falling hard, with people yet astir,
The feeble salutation from the voice
Of some unhappy woman, now and then
Heard as we pass, when no one looks about,
Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear,
Are falsely catalogued; things that are, are not,
As the mind answers to them, or the heart
Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then,
To times, when half the city shall break out
Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear?
To executions, to a street on fire,
Mobs, riots, or rejoicings? From these sights
Take one,--that ancient festival, the Fair,
Holden where martyrs suffered in past time,
And named of St. Bartholomew; there, see
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!--
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Upon some showman's platform. What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,--a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
Below, the open space, through every nook
Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive
With heads; the midway region, and above,
Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls,
Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies;
With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles,
And children whirling in their roundabouts;
With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes,
And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd
Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons
Grimacing, writhing, screaming,--him who grinds
The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves,
Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum,
And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks,
The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel,
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.--
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,
Are here--Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.

Oh, blank confusion! true epitome
Of what the mighty City is herself,
To thousands upon thousands of her sons,
Living amid the same perpetual whirl
Of trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end--
Oppression, under which even highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
This, of all acquisitions, first awaits
On sundry and most widely different modes
Of education, nor with least delight
On that through which I passed. Attention springs,
And comprehensiveness and memory flow,
From early converse with the works of God
Among all regions; chiefly where appear
Most obviously simplicity and power.
Think, how the everlasting streams and woods,
Stretched and still stretching far and wide, exalt
The roving Indian, on his desert sands:
What grandeur not unfelt, what pregnant show
Of beauty, meets the sun-burnt Arab's eye:
And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone,
Its currents; magnifies its shoals of life
Beyond all compass; spreads, and sends aloft
Armies of clouds,--even so, its powers and aspects
Shape for mankind, by principles as fixed,
The views and aspirations of the soul
To majesty. Like virtue have the forms
Perennial of the ancient hills; nor less
The changeful language of their countenances
Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts,
However multitudinous, to move
With order and relation. This, if still,
As hitherto, in freedom I may speak,
Not violating any just restraint,
As may be hoped, of real modesty,--
This did I feel, in London's vast domain.
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony.

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John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 09

No more of talk where God or Angel guest
With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd,
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast; permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change
Those notes to tragick; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,
And disobedience: on the part of Heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery
Death's harbinger: Sad talk!yet argument
Not less but more heroick than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd;
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son:

If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor'd,
And dictates to me slumbering; or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this subject for heroick song
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroick deem'd chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havock fabled knights
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroick martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroick name
To person, or to poem. Me, of these
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
Remains; sufficient of itself to raise
That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
Depress'd; and much they may, if all be mine,
Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.
The sun was sunk, and after him the star
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
"twixt day and night, and now from end to end
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:
When satan, who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless returned
From compassing the earth; cautious of day,
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
His entrance, and foreworned the Cherubim
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,
The space of seven continued nights he rode
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line
He circled; four times crossed the car of night
From pole to pole, traversing each colure;
On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averse
From entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change,
Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life:
In with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought
Where to lie hid; sea he had searched, and land,
From Eden over Pontus and the pool
Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob;
Downward as far antarctick; and in length,
West from Orontes to the ocean barred
At Darien ; thence to the land where flows
Ganges and Indus: Thus the orb he roamed
With narrow search; and with inspection deep
Considered every creature, which of all
Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found
The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him after long debate, irresolute
Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake
Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtlety
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolick power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured.
More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred
For what God, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven
Is center, yet extends to all; so thou,
Centring, receivest from all those orbs: in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summed up in Man.
With what delight could I have walked thee round,
If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea and shores with forest crowned,
Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries: all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed,
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him linked in weal or woe;
In woe then; that destruction wide may range:
To me shall be the glory sole among
The infernal Powers, in one day to have marred
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making; and who knows how long
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer than since I, in one night, freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
The angelick name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: He, to be avenged,
And to repair his numbers thus impaired,
Whether such virtue spent of old now failed
More Angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determined to advance into our room
A creature formed of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heavenly spoils, our spoils: What he decreed,
He effected; Man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel-wings,
And flaming ministers to watch and tend
Their earthly charge: Of these the vigilance
I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist
Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping; in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrained
Into a beast; and, mixed with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of Deity aspired!
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low
As high he soared; obnoxious, first or last,
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aimed,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
From dust: Spite then with spite is best repaid.
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on
His midnight-search, where soonest he might find
The serpent; him fast-sleeping soon he found
In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled,
His head the midst, well stored with subtile wiles:
Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb,
Fearless unfeared he slept: in at his mouth
The Devil entered; and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired
With act intelligential; but his sleep
Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed
Their morning incense, when all things, that breathe,
From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And joined their vocal worship to the quire
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season prime for sweetest scents and airs:
Then commune, how that day they best may ply
Their growing work: for much their work out-grew
The hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide,
And Eve first to her husband thus began.
Adam, well may we labour still to dress
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,
Our pleasant task enjoined; but, till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labour grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
One night or two with wanton growth derides
Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,
Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present:
Let us divide our labours; thou, where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
The woodbine round this arbour, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,
In yonder spring of roses intermixed
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For, while so near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, what wonder if so near
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on; which intermits
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun
Early, and the hour of supper comes unearned?
To whom mild answer Adam thus returned.
Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond
Compare above all living creatures dear!
Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts employed,
How we might best fulfil the work which here
God hath assigned us; nor of me shalt pass
Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found
In woman, than to study houshold good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed
Labour, as to debar us when we need
Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse
Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow,
To brute denied, and are of love the food;
Love, not the lowest end of human life.
For not to irksome toil, but to delight,
He made us, and delight to reason joined.
These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands
Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
Assist us; But, if much converse perhaps
Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield:
For solitude sometimes is best society,
And short retirement urges sweet return.
But other doubt possesses me, lest harm
Befall thee severed from me; for thou knowest
What hath been warned us, what malicious foe
Envying our happiness, and of his own
Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame
By sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand
Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find
His wish and best advantage, us asunder;
Hopeless to circumvent us joined, where each
To other speedy aid might lend at need:
Whether his first design be to withdraw
Our fealty from God, or to disturb
Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss
Enjoyed by us excites his envy more;
Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side
That gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects.
The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,
Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.
To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,
As one who loves, and some unkindness meets,
With sweet austere composure thus replied.
Offspring of Heaven and Earth, and all Earth's Lord!
That such an enemy we have, who seeks
Our ruin, both by thee informed I learn,
And from the parting Angel over-heard,
As in a shady nook I stood behind,
Just then returned at shut of evening flowers.
But, that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt
To God or thee, because we have a foe
May tempt it, I expected not to hear.
His violence thou fearest not, being such
As we, not capable of death or pain,
Can either not receive, or can repel.
His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infers
Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love
Can by his fraud be shaken or seduced;
Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy breast,
Adam, mis-thought of her to thee so dear?
To whom with healing words Adam replied.
Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve!
For such thou art; from sin and blame entire:
Not diffident of thee do I dissuade
Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid
The attempt itself, intended by our foe.
For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses
The tempted with dishonour foul; supposed
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
Against temptation: Thou thyself with scorn
And anger wouldst resent the offered wrong,
Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then,
If such affront I labour to avert
From thee alone, which on us both at once
The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare;
Or daring, first on me the assault shall light.
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
Angels; nor think superfluous other's aid.
I, from the influence of thy looks, receive
Access in every virtue; in thy sight
More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,
Shame to be overcome or over-reached,
Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite.
Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel
When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?
So spake domestick Adam in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attributed to her faith sincere,
Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed.
If this be our condition, thus to dwell
In narrow circuit straitened by a foe,
Subtle or violent, we not endued
Single with like defence, wherever met;
How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
But harm precedes not sin: only our foe,
Tempting, affronts us with his foul esteem
Of our integrity: his foul esteem
Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns
Foul on himself; then wherefore shunned or feared
By us? who rather double honour gain
From his surmise proved false; find peace within,
Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event.
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed
Alone, without exteriour help sustained?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combined.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed.
To whom thus Adam fervently replied.
O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordained them: His creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left
Of all that he created, much less Man,
Or aught that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receive no harm.
But God left free the will; for what obeys
Reason, is free; and Reason he made right,
But bid her well be ware, and still erect;
Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised,
She dictate false; and mis-inform the will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.
Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins,
That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;
Since Reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the foe suborned,
And fall into deception unaware,
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned.
Seek not temptation then, which to avoid
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not: Trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience; the other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But, if thou think, trial unsought may find
Us both securer than thus warned thou seemest,
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;
Go in thy native innocence, rely
On what thou hast of virtue; summon all!
For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine.
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied.
With thy permission then, and thus forewarned
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
Touched only; that our trial, when least sought,
May find us both perhaps far less prepared,
The willinger I go, nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek;
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand
Soft she withdrew; and, like a Wood-Nymph light,
Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,
Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self
In gait surpassed, and Goddess-like deport,
Though not as she with bow and quiver armed,
But with such gardening tools as Art yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had formed, or Angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,
Likest she seemed, Pomona when she fled
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Her long with ardent look his eye pursued
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated; she to him as oft engaged
To be returned by noon amid the bower,
And all things in best order to invite
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.
O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve,
Of thy presumed return! event perverse!
Thou never from that hour in Paradise
Foundst either sweet repast, or sound repose;
Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,
Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercept thy way, or send thee back
Despoiled of innocence, of faith, of bliss!
For now, and since first break of dawn, the Fiend,
Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come;
And on his quest, where likeliest he might find
The only two of mankind, but in them
The whole included race, his purposed prey.
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,
Their tendance, or plantation for delight;
By fountain or by shady rivulet
He sought them both, but wished his hap might find
Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope
Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish,
Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glowed, oft stooping to support
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay
Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold,
Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers
Imbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve:
Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned
Or of revived Adonis, or renowned
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son;
Or that, not mystick, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admired, the person more.
As one who long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound;
If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seemed, for her now pleases more;
She most, and in her look sums all delight:
Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone: Her heavenly form
Angelick, but more soft, and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overawed
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space the Evil-one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remained
Stupidly good; of enmity disarmed,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge:
But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure, not for him ordained: then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.
Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweet
Compulsion thus transported, to forget
What hither brought us! hate, not love;nor hope
Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste
Of pleasure; but all pleasure to destroy,
Save what is in destroying; other joy
To me is lost. Then, let me not let pass
Occasion which now smiles; behold alone
The woman, opportune to all attempts,
Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh,
Whose higher intellectual more I shun,
And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
Heroick built, though of terrestrial mould;
Foe not informidable! exempt from wound,
I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain
Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven.
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!
Not terrible, though terrour be in love
And beauty, not approached by stronger hate,
Hate stronger, under show of love well feigned;
The way which to her ruin now I tend.
So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed
In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve
Addressed his way: not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that towered
Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant: pleasing was his shape
And lovely; never since of serpent-kind
Lovelier, not those that in Illyria changed,
Hermione and Cadmus, or the god
In Epidaurus; nor to which transformed
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;
He with Olympias; this with her who bore
Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but feared
To interrupt, side-long he works his way.
As when a ship, by skilful steersmen wrought
Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail:
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound
Of rusling leaves, but minded not, as used
To such disport before her through the field,
From every beast; more duteous at her call,
Than at Circean call the herd disguised.
He, bolder now, uncalled before her stood,
But as in gaze admiring: oft he bowed
His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck,
Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod.
His gentle dumb expression turned at length
The eye of Eve to mark his play; he, glad
Of her attention gained, with serpent-tongue
Organick, or impulse of vocal air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps
Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm
Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain,
Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze
Insatiate; I thus single;nor have feared
Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired.
Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,
Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore
With ravishment beheld! there best beheld,
Where universally admired; but here
In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
Half what in thee is fair, one man except,
Who sees thee? and what is one? who should be seen
A Goddess among Gods, adored and served
By Angels numberless, thy daily train.
So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned:
Into the heart of Eve his words made way,
Though at the voice much marvelling; at length,
Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake.
What may this mean? language of man pronounced
By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed?
The first, at least, of these I thought denied
To beasts; whom God, on their creation-day,
Created mute to all articulate sound:
The latter I demur; for in their looks
Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field
I knew, but not with human voice endued;
Redouble then this miracle, and say,
How camest thou speakable of mute, and how
To me so friendly grown above the rest
Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?
Say, for such wonder claims attention due.
To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied.
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!
Easy to me it is to tell thee all
What thou commandest; and right thou shouldst be obeyed:
I was at first as other beasts that graze
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,
As was my food; nor aught but food discerned
Or sex, and apprehended nothing high:
Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced
A goodly tree far distant to behold
Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mixed,
Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;
When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats
Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even,
Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play.
To satisfy the sharp desire I had
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urged me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon;
For, high from ground, the branches would require
Thy utmost reach or Adam's: Round the tree
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
I spared not; for, such pleasure till that hour,
At feed or fountain, never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree
Of reason in my inward powers; and speech
Wanted not long; though to this shape retained.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turned my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Considered all things visible in Heaven,
Or Earth, or Middle; all things fair and good:
But all that fair and good in thy divine
Semblance, and in thy beauty's heavenly ray,
United I beheld; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second! which compelled
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come
And gaze, and worship thee of right declared
Sovran of creatures, universal Dame!
So talked the spirited sly Snake; and Eve,
Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied.
Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt
The virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved:
But say, where grows the tree? from hence how far?
For many are the trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown
To us; in such abundance lies our choice,
As leaves a greater store of fruit untouched,
Still hanging incorruptible, till men
Grow up to their provision, and more hands
Help to disburden Nature of her birth.
To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad.
Empress, the way is ready, and not long;
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past
Of blowing myrrh and balm: if thou accept
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon
Lead then, said Eve. He, leading, swiftly rolled
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire,
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads the amazed night-wanderer from his way
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool;
There swallowed up and lost, from succour far.
So glistered the dire Snake, and into fraud
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree
Of prohibition, root of all our woe;
Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.
Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither,
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose virtue rest with thee;
Wonderous indeed, if cause of such effects.
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live
Law to ourselves; our reason is our law.
To whom the Tempter guilefully replied.
Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,
Yet Lords declared of all in earth or air$?
To whom thus Eve, yet sinless. Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat;
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold
The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love
To Man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on; and, as to passion moved,
Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely and in act
Raised, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renowned,
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourished, since mute! to some great cause addressed,
Stood in himself collected; while each part,
Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue;
Sometimes in highth began, as no delay
Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right:
So standing, moving, or to highth up grown,
The Tempter, all impassioned, thus began.
O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,
Mother of science! now I feel thy power
Within me clear; not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deemed however wise.
Queen of this universe! do not believe
Those rigid threats of death: ye shall not die:
How should you? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge; by the threatener? look on me,
Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live,
And life more perfect have attained than Fate
Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to Man, which to the Beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass? and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,
Deterred not from achieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunned?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why, but to awe;
Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshippers? He knows that in the day
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as Gods,
Knowing both good and evil, as they know.
That ye shall be as Gods, since I as Man,
Internal Man, is but proportion meet;
I, of brute, human; ye, of human, Gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on Gods; death to be wished,
Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring.
And what are Gods, that Man may not become
As they, participating God-like food?
The Gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds:
I question it; for this fair earth I see,
Warmed by the sun, producing every kind;
Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclosed
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
The offence, that Man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart against his will, if all be his?
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste!
He ended; and his words, replete with guile,
Into her heart too easy entrance won:
Fixed on the fruit she gazed, which to behold
Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregned
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth:
Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and waked
An eager appetite, raised by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,
Solicited her longing eye; yet first
Pausing a while, thus to herself she mused.
Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
Though kept from man, and worthy to be admired;
Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:
Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste! but his forbidding
Commends thee more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want:
For good unknown sure is not had; or, had
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?
Such prohibitions bind not. But, if death
Bind us with after-bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die!
How dies the Serpent? he hath eaten and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns,
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented? or to us denied
This intellectual food, for beasts reserved?
For beasts it seems: yet that one beast which first
Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy
The good befallen him, author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.
What fear I then? rather, what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,
Of God or death, of law or penalty?
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
Of virtue to make wise: What hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both body and mind?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat!
Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost. Back to the thicket slunk
The guilty Serpent; and well might;for Eve,
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else
Regarded; such delight till then, as seemed,
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancied so, through expectation high
Of knowledge; not was Godhead from her thought.
Greedily she ingorged without restraint,
And knew not eating death: Satiate at length,
And hightened as with wine, jocund and boon,
Thus to herself she pleasingly began.
O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees
In Paradise! of operation blest
To sapience, hitherto obscured, infamed.
And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end
Created; but henceforth my early care,
Not without song, each morning, and due praise,
Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease
Of thy full branches offered free to all;
Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature
In knowledge, as the Gods, who all things know;
Though others envy what they cannot give:
For, had the gift been theirs, it had not here
Thus grown. Experience, next, to thee I owe,
Best guide; not following thee, I had remained
In ignorance; thou openest wisdom's way,
And givest access, though secret she retire.
And I perhaps am secret: Heaven is high,
High, and remote to see from thence distinct
Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps
May have diverted from continual watch
Our great Forbidder, safe with all his spies
About him. But to Adam in what sort
Shall I appear? shall I to him make known
As yet my change, and give him to partake
Full happiness with me, or rather not,
But keeps the odds of knowledge in my power
Without copartner? so to add what wants
In female sex, the more to draw his love,
And render me more equal; and perhaps,
A thing not undesirable, sometime
Superiour; for, inferiour, who is free
This may be well: But what if God have seen,
And death ensue? then I shall be no more!
And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;
A death to think! Confirmed then I resolve,
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.
So saying, from the tree her step she turned;
But first low reverence done, as to the Power
That dwelt within, whose presence had infused
Into the plant sciential sap, derived
From nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the while,
Waiting desirous her return, had wove
Of choicest flowers a garland, to adorn
Her tresses, and her rural labours crown;
As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen.
Great joy he promised to his thoughts, and new
Solace in her return, so long delayed:
Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,
Misgave him; he the faltering measure felt;
And forth to meet her went, the way she took
That morn when first they parted: by the tree
Of knowledge he must pass; there he her met,
Scarce from the tree returning; in her hand
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smiled,
New gathered, and ambrosial smell diffused.
To him she hasted; in her face excuse
Came prologue, and apology too prompt;
Which, with bland words at will, she thus addressed.
Hast thou not wondered, Adam, at my stay?
Thee I have missed, and thought it long, deprived
Thy presence; agony of love till now
Not felt, nor shall be twice; for never more
Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,
The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear:
This tree is not, as we are told, a tree
Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown
Opening the way, but of divine effect
To open eyes, and make them Gods who taste;
And hath been tasted such: The serpent wise,
Or not restrained as we, or not obeying,
Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become,
Not dead, as we are threatened, but thenceforth
Endued with human voice and human sense,
Reasoning to admiration; and with me
Persuasively hath so prevailed, that I
Have also tasted, and have also found
The effects to correspond; opener mine eyes,
Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,
And growing up to Godhead; which for thee
Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise.
For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss;
Tedious, unshared with thee, and odious soon.
Thou therefore also taste, that equal lot
May join us, equal joy, as equal love;
Lest, thou not tasting, different degree
Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce
Deity for thee, when Fate will not permit.
Thus Eve with countenance blithe her story told;
But in her cheek distemper flushing glowed.
On the other side Adam, soon as he heard
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed,
Astonied stood and blank, while horrour chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relaxed;
From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve
Down dropt, and all the faded roses shed:
Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length
First to himself he inward silence broke.
O fairest of Creation, last and best
Of all God's works, Creature in whom excelled
Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost,
Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote!
Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgress
The strict forbiddance, how to violate
The sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud
Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,
And me with thee hath ruined; for with thee
Certain my resolution is to die:
How can I live without thee! how forego
Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly joined,
To live again in these wild woods forlorn!
Should God create another Eve, and I
Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart: no, no!I feel
The link of Nature draw me: flesh of flesh,
Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.
So having said, as one from sad dismay
Recomforted, and after thoughts disturbed
Submitting to what seemed remediless,
Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turned.
Bold deed thou hast presumed, adventurous Eve,
And peril great provoked, who thus hast dared,
Had it been only coveting to eye
That sacred fruit, sacred to abstinence,
Much more to taste it under ban to touch.
But past who can recall, or done undo?
Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate; yet so
Perhaps thou shalt not die, perhaps the fact
Is not so heinous now, foretasted fruit,
Profaned first by the serpent, by him first
Made common, and unhallowed, ere our taste;
Nor yet on him found deadly; yet he lives;
Lives, as thou saidst, and gains to live, as Man,
Higher degree of life; inducement strong
To us, as likely tasting to attain
Proportional ascent; which cannot be
But to be Gods, or Angels, demi-Gods.
Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,
Though threatening, will in earnest so destroy
Us his prime creatures, dignified so high,
Set over all his works; which in our fall,
For us created, needs with us must fail,
Dependant made; so God shall uncreate,
Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose;
Not well conceived of God, who, though his power
Creation could repeat, yet would be loth
Us to abolish, lest the Adversary
Triumph, and say; "Fickle their state whom God
"Most favours; who can please him long? Me first
"He ruined, now Mankind; whom will he next?"
Matter of scorn, not to be given the Foe.
However I with thee have fixed my lot,
Certain to undergo like doom: If death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of Nature draw me to my own;
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be severed; we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.
So Adam; and thus Eve to him replied.
O glorious trial of exceeding love,
Illustrious evidence, example high!
Engaging me to emulate; but, short
Of thy perfection, how shall I attain,
Adam, from whose dear side I boast me sprung,
And gladly of our union hear thee speak,
One heart, one soul in both; whereof good proof
This day affords, declaring thee resolved,
Rather than death, or aught than death more dread,
Shall separate us, linked in love so dear,
To undergo with me one guilt, one crime,
If any be, of tasting this fair fruit;
Whose virtue for of good still good proceeds,
Direct, or by occasion, hath presented
This happy trial of thy love, which else
So eminently never had been known?
Were it I thought death menaced would ensue
This my attempt, I would sustain alone
The worst, and not persuade thee, rather die
Deserted, than oblige thee with a fact
Pernicious to thy peace; chiefly assured
Remarkably so late of thy so true,
So faithful, love unequalled: but I feel
Far otherwise the event; not death, but life
Augmented, opened eyes, new hopes, new joys,
Taste so divine, that what of sweet before
Hath touched my sense, flat seems to this, and harsh.
On my experience, Adam, freely taste,
And fear of death deliver to the winds.
So saying, she embraced him, and for joy
Tenderly wept; much won, that he his love
Had so ennobled, as of choice to incur
Divine displeasure for her sake, or death.
In recompence for such compliance bad
Such recompence best merits from the bough
She gave him of that fair enticing fruit
With liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat,
Against his better knowledge; not deceived,
But fondly overcome with female charm.
Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan;
Sky loured; and, muttering thunder, some sad drops
Wept at completing of the mortal sin
Original: while Adam took no thought,
Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterate
Her former trespass feared, the more to sooth
Him with her loved society; that now,
As with new wine intoxicated both,
They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
Divinity within them breeding wings,
Wherewith to scorn the earth: But that false fruit
Far other operation first displayed,
Carnal desire inflaming; he on Eve
Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him
As wantonly repaid; in lust they burn:
Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move.
Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste,
And elegant, of sapience no small part;
Since to each meaning savour we apply,
And palate call judicious; I the praise
Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purveyed.
Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstained
From this delightful fruit, nor known till now
True relish, tasting; if such pleasure be
In things to us forbidden, it might be wished,
For this one tree had been forbidden ten.
But come, so well refreshed, now let us play,
As meet is, after such delicious fare;
For never did thy beauty, since the day
I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorned
With all perfections, so inflame my sense
With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now
Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree!
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
Of amorous intent; well understood
Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.
Her hand he seised; and to a shady bank,
Thick over-head with verdant roof imbowered,
He led her nothing loth; flowers were the couch,
Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,
And hyacinth; Earth's freshest softest lap.
There they their fill of love and love's disport
Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,
The solace of their sin; till dewy sleep
Oppressed them, wearied with their amorous play,
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,
That with exhilarating vapour bland
About their spirits had played, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep,
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
Incumbered, now had left them; up they rose
As from unrest; and, each the other viewing,
Soon found their eyes how opened, and their minds
How darkened; innocence, that as a veil
Had shadowed them from knowing ill, was gone;
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour, from about them, naked left
To guilty Shame; he covered, but his robe
Uncovered more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap
Of Philistean Dalilah, and waked
Shorn of his strength. They destitute and bare
Of all their virtue: Silent, and in face
Confounded, long they sat, as strucken mute:
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abashed,
At length gave utterance to these words constrained.
O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfeit Man's voice; true in our fall,
False in our promised rising; since our eyes
Opened we find indeed, and find we know
Both good and evil; good lost, and evil got;
Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know;
Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,
Of innocence, of faith, of purity,
Our wonted ornaments now soiled and stained,
And in our faces evident the signs
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store;
Even shame, the last of evils; of the first
Be sure then.--How shall I behold the face
Henceforth of God or Angel, erst with joy
And rapture so oft beheld? Those heavenly shapes
Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze
Insufferably bright. O! might I here
In solitude live savage; in some glade
Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad
And brown as evening: Cover me, ye Pines!
Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughs
Hide me, where I may never see them more!--
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
What best may for the present serve to hide
The parts of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sewed,
And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts; that this new comer, Shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.
So counselled he, and both together went
Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose
The fig-tree; not that kind for fruit renowned,
But such as at this day, to Indians known,
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother tree, a pillared shade
High over-arched, and echoing walks between:
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loop-holes cut through thickest shade: Those leaves
They gathered, broad as Amazonian targe;
And, with what skill they had, together sewed,
To gird their waist; vain covering, if to hide
Their guilt and dreaded shame! O, how unlike
To that first naked glory! Such of late
Columbus found the American, so girt
With feathered cincture; naked else, and wild
Among the trees on isles and woody shores.
Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in part
Covered, but not at rest or ease of mind,
They sat them down to weep; nor only tears
Rained at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent:
For Understanding ruled not, and the Will
Heard not her lore; both in subjection now
To sensual Appetite, who from beneath
Usurping over sovran Reason claimed
Superiour sway: From thus distempered breast,
Adam, estranged in look and altered style,
Speech intermitted thus to Eve renewed.
Would thou hadst hearkened to my words, and staid
With me, as I besought thee, when that strange
Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn,
I know not whence possessed thee; we had then
Remained still happy; not, as now, despoiled
Of all our good; shamed, naked, miserable!
Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve
The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek
Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.
To whom, soon moved with touch of blame, thus Eve.
What words have passed thy lips, Adam severe!
Imputest thou that to my default, or will
Of wandering, as thou callest it, which who knows
But might as ill have happened thou being by,
Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there,
Or here the attempt, thou couldst not have discerned
Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake;
No ground of enmity between us known,
Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.
Was I to have never parted from thy side?
As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.
Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Command me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger, as thou saidst?
Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay;
Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fixed in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgressed, nor thou with me.
To whom, then first incensed, Adam replied.
Is this the love, is this the recompence
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve! expressed
Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I;
Who might have lived, and joyed immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing? Not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint: What could I more
I warned thee, I admonished thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force;
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on; secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
I also erred, in overmuch admiring
What seemed in thee so perfect, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue
The errour now, which is become my crime,
And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befall
Him, who, to worth in women overtrusting,
Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;
And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;
And of their vain contest appeared no end.

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John Dryden

Palamon And Arcite; Or, The Knight's Tale. From Chaucer. In Three Books. Book III.

The day approached when Fortune should decide
The important enterprise, and give the bride;
For now the rivals round the world had sought,
And each his number, well appointed, brought.
The nations far and near contend in choice,
And send the flower of war by public voice;
That after or before were never known
Such chiefs, as each an army seemed alone:
Beside the champions, all of high degree,
Who knighthood loved, and deeds of chivalry,
Thronged to the lists, and envied to behold
The names of others, not their own, enrolled.
Nor seems it strange; for every noble knight
Who loves the fair, and is endued with might,
In such a quarrel would be proud to fight.
There breathes not scarce a man on British ground
(An isle for love and arms of old renowned)
But would have sold his life to purchase fame,
To Palamon or Arcite sent his name;
And had the land selected of the best,
Half had come hence, and let the world provide the rest.
A hundred knights with Palamon there came,
Approved in fight, and men of mighty name;
Their arms were several, as their nations were,
But furnished all alike with sword and spear.

Some wore coat armour, imitating scale,
And next their skins were stubborn shirts of mail;
Some wore a breastplate and a light juppon,
Their horses clothed with rich caparison;
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use
Of folded hides, and others shields of Pruce.
One hung a pole-axe at his saddle-bow,
And one a heavy mace to stun the foe;
One for his legs and knees provided well,
With jambeux armed, and double plates of steel;
This on his helmet wore a lady's glove,
And that a sleeve embroidered by his love.

With Palamon above the rest in place,
Lycurgus came, the surly king of Thrace;
Black was his beard, and manly was his face
The balls of his broad eyes rolled in his head,
And glared betwixt a yellow and a red;
He looked a lion with a gloomy stare,
And o'er his eyebrows hung his matted hair;
Big-boned and large of limbs, with sinews strong,
Broad-shouldered, and his arms were round and long.
Four milk-white bulls (the Thracian use of old)
Were yoked to draw his car of burnished gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his shield,
Conspicuous from afar, and overlooked the field.
His surcoat was a bear-skin on his back;
His hair hung long behind, and glossy raven-black.
His ample forehead bore a coronet,
With sparkling diamonds and with rubies set.
Ten brace, and more, of greyhounds, snowy fair,
And tall as stags, ran loose, and coursed around his chair,
A match for pards in flight, in grappling for the bear;
With golden muzzles all their mouths were bound,
And collars of the same their necks surround.

Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way;
His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud array.

To match this monarch, with strong Arcite came
Emetrius, king of Inde, a mighty name,
On a bay courser, goodly to behold,
The trappings of his horse embossed with barbarous gold.
Not Mars bestrode a steed with greater grace;
His surcoat o'er his arms was cloth of Thrace,
Adorned with pearls, all orient, round, and great;
His saddle was of gold, with emeralds set;
His shoulders large a mantle did attire,
With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire;
His amber-coloured locks in ringlets run,
With graceful negligence, and shone against the sun.
His nose was aquiline, his eyes were blue,
Ruddy his lips, and fresh and fair his hue;
Some sprinkled freckles on his face were seen,
Whose dusk set off the whiteness of the skin.
His awful presence did the crowd surprise,
Nor durst the rash spectator meet his eyes;
Eyes that confessed him born for kingly sway,
So fierce, they flashed intolerable day.
His age in nature's youthful prime appeared,
And just began to bloom his yellow beard.
Whene'er he spoke, his voice was heard around,
Loud as a trumpet, with a silver sound;
A laurel wreathed his temples, fresh, and green,
And myrtle sprigs, the marks of love, were mixed between.
Upon his fist he bore, for his delight,
An eagle well reclaimed, and lily white.

His hundred knights attend him to the war,
All armed for battle; save their heads were bare.
Words and devices blazed on every shield,
And pleasing was the terror of the field.
For kings, and dukes, and barons you might see,
Like sparkling stars, though different in degree,
All for the increase of arms, and love of chivalry.
Before the king tame leopards led the way,
And troops of lions innocently play.
So Bacchus through the conquered Indies rode,
And beasts in gambols frisked before their honest god.

In this array the war of either side
Through Athens passed with military pride.
At prime, they entered on the Sunday morn;
Rich tapestry spread the streets, and flowers the posts adorn.
The town was all a jubilee of feasts;
So Theseus willed in honour of his guests;
Himself with open arms the kings embraced,
Then all the rest in their degrees were graced.
No harbinger was needful for the night,
For every house was proud to lodge a knight.

I pass the royal treat, nor must relate
The gifts bestowed, nor how the champions sate;
Who first, who last, or how the knights addressed
Their vows, or who was fairest at the feast;
Whose voice, whose graceful dance did most surprise,
Soft amorous sighs, and silent love of eyes.
The rivals call my Muse another way,
To sing their vigils for the ensuing day.
'Twas ebbing darkness, past the noon of night:
And Phosphor, on the confines of the light,
Promised the sun; ere day began to spring,
The tuneful lark already stretched her wing,
And flickering on her nest, made short essays to sing.

When wakeful Palamon, preventing day,
Took to the royal lists his early way,
To Venus at her fane, in her own house, to pray.
There, falling on his knees before her shrine,
He thus implored with prayers her power divine:
“Creator Venus, genial power of love,
The bliss of men below, and gods above!
Beneath the sliding sun thou runst thy race,
Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place.
For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear,
Thy month reveals the spring, and opens all the year.
Thee, Goddess, thee the storms of winter fly;
Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky,
And birds to lays of love their tuneful notes apply.
For thee the lion loathes the taste of blood,
And roaring hunts his female through the wood;
For thee the bulls rebellow through the groves,
And tempt the stream, and snuff their absent loves.
'Tis thine, whate'er is pleasant, good, or fair;
All nature is thy province, life thy care;
Thou madest the world, and dost the world repair.
Thou gladder of the mount of Cytheron,
Increase of Jove, companion of the Sun,
If e'er Adonis touched thy tender heart,
Have pity, Goddess, for thou knowest the smart!
Alas! I have not words to tell my grief;
To vent my sorrow would be some relief;
Light sufferings give us leisure to complain;
We groan, but cannot speak, in greater pain.
O Goddess, tell thyself what I would say!
Thou knowest it, and I feel too much to pray.
So grant my suit, as I enforce my might,
In love to be thy champion and thy knight,
A servant to thy sex, a slave to thee,
A foe professed to barren chastity:
Nor ask I fame or honour of the field,
Nor choose I more to vanquish than to yield:
In my divine Emilia make me blest,
Let Fate or partial Chance dispose the rest:
Find thou the manner, and the means prepare;
Possession, more than conquest, is my care.
Mars is the warrior's god; in him it lies
On whom he favours to confer the prize;
With smiling aspect you serenely move
In your fifth orb, and rule the realm of love.
The Fates but only spin the coarser clue,
The finest of the wool is left for you:
Spare me but one small portion of the twine,
And let the Sisters cut below your line:
The rest among the rubbish may they sweep,
Or add it to the yarn of some old miser's heap.
But if you this ambitious prayer deny,
(A wish, I grant; beyond mortality,)
Then let me sink beneath proud Arcite's arms,
And, I once dead, let him possess her charms.”

Thus ended he; then, with observance due,
The sacred incense on her altar threw:
The curling smoke mounts heavy from the fires;
At length it catches flame, and in a blaze expires;
At once the gracious Goddess gave the sign,
Her statue shook, and trembled all the shrine:
Pleased Palamon the tardy omen took;
For since the flames pursued the trailing smoke,
He knew his boon was granted, but the day
To distance driven, and joy adjourned with long delay.

Now morn with rosy light had streaked the sky,
Up rose the sun, and up rose Emily;
Addressed her early steps to Cynthia's fane,
In state attended by her maiden train,
Who bore the vests that holy rites require,
Incense, and odorous gums, and covered fire.
The plenteous horns with pleasant mead they crown
Nor wanted aught besides in honour of the Moon.
Now, while the temple smoked with hallowed steam,
They wash the virgin in a living stream;
The secret ceremonies I conceal,
Uncouth, perhaps unlawful to reveal:
But such they were as pagan use required,
Performed by women when the men retired,
Whose eyes profane their chaste mysterious rites
Might turn to scandal or obscene delights.
Well-meaners think no harm; but for the rest,
Things sacred they pervert, and silence is the best.
Her shining hair, uncombed, was loosely spread,
A crown of mastless oak adorned her head:
When to the shrine approached, the spotless maid
Had kindling fires on either altar laid;
(The rites were such as were observed of old,
By Statius in his Theban story told.)
Then kneeling with her hands across her breast,
Thus lowly she preferred her chaste request.

O Goddess, haunter of the woodland green,
To whom both heaven and earth and seas are seen;
Queen of the nether skies, where half the year
Thy silver beams descend, and light the gloomy sphere;
Goddess of maids, and conscious of our hearts,
So keep me from the vengeance of thy darts,
(Which Niobe's devoted issue felt,
When hissing through the skies the feathered deaths
were dealt,)

As I desire to live a virgin life,
Nor know the name of mother or of wife.
Thy votress from my tender years I am,
And love, like thee, the woods and sylvan game.
Like death, thou knowest, I loathe the nuptial state,
And man, the tyrant of our sex, I hate,
A lowly servant, but a lofty mate;
Where love is duty on the female side,
On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly pride.
Now by thy triple shape, as thou art seen
In heaven, earth, hell, and everywhere a queen,
Grant this my first desire; let discord cease,
And make betwixt the rivals lasting peace:
Quench their hot fire, or far from me remove
The flame, and turn it on some other love;
Or if my frowning stars have so decreed,
That one must be rejected, one succeed,
Make him my lord, within whose faithful breast
Is fixed my image, and who loves me best.
But oh! even that avert! I choose it not,
But take it as the least unhappy lot.
A maid I am, and of thy virgin train;
Oh, let me still that spotless name retain!
Frequent the forests, thy chaste will obey,
And only make the beasts of chase my prey!”

The flames ascend on either altar clear,
While thus the blameless maid addressed her prayer.
When lo! the burning fire that shone so bright
Flew off, all sudden, with extinguished light,
And left one altar dark, a little space,
Which turned self-kindled, and renewed the blaze;
That other victor-flame a moment stood,
Then fell, and lifeless. left the extinguished wood;
For ever lost, the irrevocable light
Forsook the blackening coals, and sunk to night:
At either end it whistled as it flew,
And as the brands were green, so dropped the dew,
Infected as it fell with sweat of sanguine hue.

The maid from that ill omen turned her eyes,
And with loud shrieks and clamours rent the skies;
Nor knew what signified the boding sign,
But found the powers displeased, and feared the wrath divine.

Then shook the sacred shrine, and sudden light
Sprung through the vaulted roof, and made the temple bright.
The Power, behold! the Power in glory shone,
By her bent bow and her keen arrows known;
The rest, a huntress issuing from the wood,
Reclining on her cornel spear she stood.
Then gracious thus began: “Dismiss thy fear,
And Heaven's unchanged decrees attentive hear:
More powerful gods have torn thee from my side,
Unwilling to resign, and doomed a bride;
The two contending knights are weighed above;
One Mars protects, and one the Queen of Love:
But which the man is in the Thunderer's breast;
This he pronounced, 'Tis he who loves thee best.'
The fire that, once extinct, revived again
Foreshows the love allotted to remain.
Farewell!” she said, and vanished from the place;
The sheaf of arrows shook, and rattled in the case.
Aghast at this, the royal virgin stood,
Disclaimed, and now no more a sister of the wood:
But to the parting Goddess thus she prayed:
“Propitious still, be present to my aid,
Nor quite abandon your once favoured maid.”
Then sighing she returned; but smiled betwixt,
With hopes, and fears, and joys with sorrows mixt.

The next returning planetary hour
of Mars, who shared the heptarchy of power,
His steps bold Arcite to the temple bent,
To adorn with pagan rites the power armipotent:
Then prostrate, low before his altar lay,
And raised his manly voice, and thus began, to pray:
Strong God of Arms, whose iron sceptre sways
The freezing North, and Hyperborean seas,
And Scythian colds, and Thracia's wintry coast,
Where stand thy steeds, and thou art honoured most:
There most, but everywhere thy power is known,
The fortune of the fight is all thy own:
Terror is thine, and wild amazement, flung
From out thy chariot, withers even the strong;
And disarray and shameful rout ensue,
And force is added to the fainting crew.
Acknowledged as thou art, accept my prayer!
If aught I have achieved deserve thy care,
If to my utmost power with sword and shield
I dared the death, unknowing how to yield,
And falling in my rank, still kept the field;
Then let my arms prevail, by thee sustained,
That Emily by conquest may be gained.
Have pity on my pains; nor those unknown
To Mars, which, when a lover, were his own.
Venus, the public care of all above,
Thy stubborn heart has softened into love:
Now, by her blandishments and powerful charms,
When yielded she lay curling in thy arms,
Even by thy shame, if shame it may be called,
When Vulcan had thee in his net enthralled;
O envied ignominy, sweet disgrace,
When every god that saw thee wished thy place!
By those dear pleasures, aid my arms in fight,
And make me conquer in my patron's right:
For I am young, a novice in the trade,
The fool of love, unpractised to persuade,
And want the soothing arts that catch the fair,
But, caught my self, lie struggling in the snare;
And she I love or laughs at all my pain
Or knows her worth too well, and pays me with disdain.
For sure I am, unless I win in arms,
To stand excluded from Emilia's charms:
Nor can my strength avail, unless by thee
Endued with force I gain the victory;
Then for the fire which warmed thy generous heart,
Pity thy subject's pains and equal smart.
So be the morrow's sweat and labour mine,
The palm and honour of the conquest thine:
Then shall the war, and stern debate, and strife
Immortal be the business of my life;
And in thy fane, the dusty spoils among,
High on the burnished roof, my banner shall be hung,
Ranked with my champion's bucklers; and below,
With arms reversed, the achievements of my foe;
And while these limbs the vital spirit feeds,
While day to night and night to day succeeds,
Thy smoking altar shall be fat with food
Of incense and the grateful steam of blood;
Burnt-offerings morn and evening shall be thine,
And fires eternal in thy temple shine.
The bush of yellow beard, this length of hair,
Which from my birth inviolate I bear,
Guiltless of steel, and from the razor free,
Shall fall a plenteous crop, reserved for thee.
So may my arms with victory be blest,
I ask no more; let Fate dispose the rest.”

The champion ceased; there followed in the close
A hollow groan; a murmuring wind arose;
The rings of iron, that on the doors were hung,
Sent out a jarring sound, and harshly rung:
The bolted gates blew open at the blast,
The storm rushed in, and Arcite stood aghast:
The flames were blown aside, yet shone they bright,
Fanned by the wind, and gave a ruffled light.
Then from the ground a scent began to rise,
Sweet smelling as accepted sacrifice:
This omen pleased, and as the flames aspire,
With odorous incense Arcite heaps the fire:
Nor wanted hymns to Mars or heathen charms:
At length the nodding statue clashed his arms,
And with a sullen sound and feeble cry,
Half sunk and half pronounced the word of Victory.
For this, with soul devout, he thanked the God,
And, of success secure, returned to his abode.

These vows, thus granted, raised a strife above
Betwixt the God of War and Queen of Love.
She, granting first, had right of time to plead;
But he had granted too, nor would recede.
Jove was for Venus, but he feared his wife,
And seemed unwilling to decide the strife:
Till Saturn from his leaden throne arose,
And found a way the difference to compose:
Though sparing of his grace, to mischief bent,
He seldom does a good with good intent.
Wayward, but wise; by long experience taught,
To please both parties, for ill ends, he sought:
For this advantage age from youth has won,
As not to be outridden, though outrun.
By fortune he was now to Venus trined,
And with stern Mars in Capricorn was joined:
Of him disposing in his own abode,
He soothed the Goddess, while he gulled the God:
Cease, daughter, to complain, and stint the strife;
Thy Palamon shall have his promised wife:
And Mars, the lord of conquest, in the fight
With palm and laurel shall adorn his knight.
Wide is my course, nor turn I to my place,
Till length of time, and move with tardy pace.
Man feels me when I press the etherial plains;
My hand is heavy, and the wound remains.
Mine is the shipwreck in a watery sign;
And in an earthy the dark dungeon mine.
Cold shivering agues, melancholy care,
And bitter blasting winds, and poisoned air,
Are mine, and wilful death, resulting from despair.
The throttling quinsey 'tis my star appoints,
And rheumatisms I send to rack the joints:
When churls rebel against their native prince,
I arm their hands, and furnish the pretence;
And housing in the lion's hateful sign,
Bought senates and deserting troops are mine.
Mine is the privy poisoning; I command
Unkindly seasons and ungrateful land.
By me kings' palaces are pushed to ground,
And miners crushed beneath their mines are found.
'Twas I slew Samson, when the pillared hall
Fell down, and crushed the many with the fall.
My looking is the sire of pestilence,
That sweeps at once the people and the prince.
Now weep no more, but trust thy grandsire's art,
Mars shall be pleased, and thou perform thy part.
'Tis ill, though different your complexions are,
The family of Heaven for men should war.”
The expedient pleased, where neither lost his right;
Mars had the day, and Venus had the night.
The management they left to Chronos' care.
Now turn we to the effect, and sing the war.

In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play,
All proper to the spring and sprightly May:
Which every soul inspired with such delight,
'Twas justing all the day, and love at night.
Heaven smiled, and gladded was the heart of man;
And Venus had the world as when it first began.
At length in sleep their bodies they compose,
And dreamt the future fight, and early rose.

Now scarce the dawning day began to spring,
As at a signal given, the streets with clamours ring:
At once the crowd arose; confused and high,
Even from the heaven was heard a shouting cry,
For Mars was early up, and roused the sky.
The gods came downward to behold the wars,
Sharpening their sights, and leaning from their stars.
The neighing of the generous horse was heard,
For battle by the busy groom prepared:
Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
Clattering of armour, furbished for the field.
Crowds to the castle mounted up the street;
Battering the pavement with their coursers' feet:
The greedy sight might there devour the gold
Of glittering arms, too dazzling to behold:
And polished steel that cast the view aside,
And crested morions, with their plumy pride.
Knights, with a long retinue of their squires,
In gaudy liveries march, and quaint attires.
One laced the helm, another held the lance;
A third the shining buckler did advance.
The courser pawed the ground with restless feet,
And snorting foamed, and champed the golden bit.
The smiths and armourers on palfreys ride,
Files in their hands, and hammers at their side,
And nails for loosened spears and thongs for shields provide.
The yeomen guard the streets in seemly bands;
And clowns come crowding on, with cudgels in their hands.

The trumpets, next the gate, in order placed,
Attend the sign to sound the martial blast:
The palace yard is filled with floating tides,
And the last comers bear the former to the sides.
The throng is in the midst; the common crew
Shut out, the hall admits the better few.
In knots they stand, or in a rank they walk,
Serious in aspect, earnest in their talk;
Factious, and favouring this or t'other side,
As their strong fancies and weak reason guide;
Their wagers back their wishes; numbers hold
With the fair freckled king, and beard of gold:
So vigorous are his eyes, such rays they cast,
So prominent his eagle's beak is placed.
But most their looks on the black monarch bend;
His rising muscles and his brawn commend;
His double-biting axe, and beamy spear,
Each asking a gigantic force to rear.
All spoke as partial favour moved the mind;
And, safe themselves, at others' cost divined.

Waked by the cries, the Athenian chief arose,
The knightly forms of combat to dispose;
And passing through the obsequious guards, he sate
Conspicuous on a throne, sublime in state;
There, for the two contending knights he sent;
Armed cap-a-pie, with reverence low they bent;
He smiled on both, and with superior look
Alike their offered adoration took.
The people press on every side to see
Their awful Prince, and hear his high decree.
Then signing to their heralds with his hand,
They gave his orders from their lofty stand.
Silence is thrice enjoined; then thus aloud
The king-at-arms bespeaks the knights and listening crowd:
Our sovereign lord has pondered in his mind
The means to spare the blood of gentle kind;
And of his grace and inborn clemency
He modifies his first severe decree,
The keener edge of battle to rebate,
The troops for honour fighting, not for hate.
He wills, not death should terminate their strife,
And wounds, if wounds ensue, be short of life;
But issues, ere the fight, his dread command,
That slings afar, and poniards hand to hand,
Be banished from the field; that none shall dare
With shortened sword to stab in closer war;
But in fair combat fight with manly strength,
Nor push with biting point, but strike at length.
The turney is allowed but one career
Of the tough ash, with the sharp-grinded spear;
But knights unhorsed may rise from off the plain,
And fight on foot their honour to regain;
Nor, if at mischief taken, on the ground
Be slain, but prisoners to the pillar bound,
At either barrier placed; nor, captives made,
Be freed, or armed anew the fight invade:
The chief of either side, bereft of life,
Or yielded to his foe, concludes the strife.
Thus dooms the lord: now valiant knights and young,
Fight each his fill, with swords and maces long.”

The herald ends: the vaulted firmament
With loud acclaims and vast applause is rent:
Heaven guard a Prince so gracious and so good,
So just, and yet so provident of blood!
This was the general cry. The trumpets sound,
And warlike symphony is heard around.
The marching troops through Athens take their way,
The great Earl-marshal orders their array.
The fair from high the passing pomp behold;
A rain of flowers is from the window rolled.
The casements are with golden tissue spread,
And horses' hoofs, for earth, on silken tapestry tread.
The King goes midmost, and the rivals ride
In equal rank, and close his either side.
Next after these there rode the royal wife,
With Emily, the cause and the reward of strife.
The following cavalcade, by three and three,
Proceed by titles marshalled in degree.
Thus through the southern gate they take their way,
And at the list arrived ere prime of day.
There, parting from the King, the chiefs divide,
And wheeling east and west, before their many ride.
The Athenian monarch mounts his throne on high,
And after him the Queen and Emily:
Next these, the kindred of the crown are graced
With nearer seats, and lords by ladies placed.
Scarce were they seated, when with clamours loud
In rushed at once a rude promiscuous crowd,
The guards, and then each other overbare,
And in a moment throng the spacious theatre.
Now changed the jarring noise to whispers low,
As winds forsaking seas more softly blow,
When at the western gate, on which the car
Is placed aloft that bears the God of War,
Proud Arcite entering armed before his train
Stops at the barrier, and divides the plain.
Red was his banner, and displayed abroad
The bloody colours of his patron god.

At that self moment enters Palamon
The gate of Venus, and the rising Sun;
Waved by the wanton winds, his banner flies,
All maiden white, and shares the people's eyes.
From east to west, look all the world around,
Two troops so matched were never to be found;
Such bodies built for strength, of equal age,
In stature sized; so proud an equipage:
The nicest eye could no distinction make,
Where lay the advantage, or what side to take.

Thus ranged, the herald for the last proclaims
A silence, while they answered to their names:
For so the king decreed, to shun with care
The fraud of musters false, the common bane of war.
The tale was just, and then the gates were closed;
And chief to chief, and troop to troop opposed.
The heralds last retired, and loudly cried,
The fortune of the field be fairly tried!”

At this the challenger, with fierce defy,
His trumpet sounds; the challenged makes reply:
With clangour rings the field, resounds the vaulted sky.
Their vizors closed, their lances in the rest,
Or at the helmet pointed or the crest,
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
A cloud of smoke envelopes either host,
And all at once the combatants are lost:
Darkling they join adverse, and shock unseen,
Coursers with coursers justling, men with men:
As labouring in eclipse, a while they stay,
Till the next blast of wind restores the day.
They look anew: the beauteous form of fight
Is changed, and war appears a grisly sight.
Two troops in fair array one moment showed,
The next, a field with fallen bodies strowed:
Not half the number in their seats are found;
But men and steeds lie grovelling on the ground.
The points of spears are stuck within the shield,
The steeds without their riders scour the field.
The knights unhorsed, on foot renew the fight;
The glittering fauchions cast a gleaming light;
Hauberks and helms are hewed with many a wound,
Out spins the streaming blood, and dyes the ground.
The mighty maces with such haste descend,
They break the bones, and make the solid armour bend.
This thrusts amid the throng with furious force;
Down goes, at once, the horseman and the horse:
That courser stumbles on the fallen steed,
And, floundering, throws the rider o'er his head.
One rolls along, a football to his foes;
One with a broken truncheon deals his blows.
This halting, this disabled with his wound,
In triumph led, is to the pillar bound,
Where by the king's award he must abide:
There goes a captive led on t'other side.
By fits they cease, and leaning on the lance,
Take breath a while, and to new fight advance.

Full oft the rivals met, and neither spared
His utmost force, and each forgot to ward:
The head of this was to the saddle bent,
The other backward to the crupper sent:
Both were by turns unhorsed; the jealous blows
Fall thick and heavy, when on foot they close.
So deep their fauchions bite, that every stroke
Pierced to the quick; and equal wounds they gave and took.
Borne far asunder by the tides of men,
Like adamant and steel they met agen.

So when a tiger sucks the bullock's blood,
A famished lion issuing from the wood
Roars lordly fierce, and challenges the food.
Each claims possession, neither will obey,
But both their paws are fastened on the prey;
They bite, they tear; and while in vain they strive,
The swains come armed between, and both to distance drive.
At length, as Fate foredoomed, and all things tend
By course of time to their appointed end;
So when the sun to west was far declined,
And both afresh in mortal battle joined,
The strong Emetrius came in Arcite's aid,
And Palamon with odds was overlaid:
For, turning short, he struck with all his might
Full on the helmet of the unwary knight.
Deep was the wound; he staggered with the blow,
And turned him to his unexpected foe;
Whom with such force he struck, he felled him down,
And cleft the circle of his golden crown.
But Arcite's men, who now prevailed in fight,
Twice ten at once surround the single knight:
O'erpowered at length, they force him to the ground,
Unyielded as he was, and to the pillar bound;
And king Lycurgus, while he fought in vain
His friend to free, was tumbled on the plain.

Who now laments but Palamon, compelled
No more to try the fortune of the field,
And, worse than death, to view with hateful eyes
His rival's conquest, and renounce the prize!

The royal judge on his tribunal placed,
Who had beheld the fight from first to last,
Bade cease the war; pronouncing from on high,
Arcite of Thebes had won the beauteous Emily.
The sound of trumpets to the voice replied,
And round the royal lists the heralds cried,
“Arcite of Thebes has won the beauteous bride!”

The people rend the skies with vast applause;
All own the chief, when Fortune owns the cause.
Arcite is owned even by the gods above,
And conquering Mars insults the Queen of Love.
So laughed he when the rightful Titan failed,
And Jove's usurping arms in heaven prevailed.
Laughed all the powers who favour tyranny,
And all the standing army of the sky.
But Venus with dejected eyes appears.
And weeping on the lists distilled her tears;
Her will refused, which grieves a woman most,
And, in her champion foiled, the cause of Love is lost.
Till Saturn said:—“Fair daughter, now be still,
The blustering fool has satisfied his will;
His boon is given; his knight has gained the day,
But lost the prize; the arrears are yet to pay.
Thy hour is come, and mine the care shall be
To please thy knight, and set thy promise free.”

Now while the heralds run the lists around,
And Arcite! Arcite! heaven and earth resound,
A miracle (nor less it could be called)
Their joy with unexpected sorrow palled.
The victor knight had laid his helm aside,
Part for his ease, the greater part for pride:
Bareheaded, popularly low he bowed,
And paid the salutations of the crowd;
Then spurring, at full speed, ran headlong on
Where Theseus sat on his imperial throne;
Furious he drove, and upward cast his eye,
Where, next the Queen, was placed his Emily;
Then passing, to the saddle-bow he bent;
A sweet regard the gracious virgin lent;
(For women, to the brave an easy prey,
Still follow Fortune, where she leads the way
Just then from earth sprung out a flashing fire,
By Pluto sent, at Saturn's bad desire:
The startling steed was seized with sudden fright,
And, bounding, o'er the pummel cast the knight;
Forward he flew, and pitching on his head,
He quivered with his feet, and lay for dead.

Black was his countenance in a little space,
For all the blood was gathered in his face.
Help was at hand: they reared him from the ground,
And from his cumbrous arms his limbs unbound;
Then lanced a vein, and watched returning breath;
It came, but clogged with symptoms of his death.
The saddle-bow the noble parts had prest,
All bruised and mortified his manly breast.
Him still entranced, and in a litter laid,
They bore from field, and to his bed conveyed.
At length he waked; and, with a feeble cry,
The word he first pronounced was Emily.

Mean time the King, though inwardly he mourned,
In pomp triumphant to the town returned,
Attended by the chiefs who fought the field,
(Now friendly mixed, and in one troop compelled
Composed his looks to counterfeited cheer,
And bade them not for Arcite's life to fear.
But that which gladded all the warrior train,
Though most were sorely wounded, none were slain.
The surgeons soon despoiled them of their arms,
And some with salves they cure, and some with charms;
Foment the bruises, and the pains assuage,
And heal their inward hurts with sovereign draughts of sage.
The King in person visits all around,
Comforts the sick, congratulates the sound;
Honours the princely chiefs, rewards the rest,
And holds for thrice three days a royal feast.
None was disgraced; for falling is no shame,
And cowardice alone is loss of fame.
The venturous knight is from the saddle thrown,
But 'tis the fault of fortune, not his own;
If crowds and palms the conquering side adorn,
The victor under better stars was born:

The brave man seeks not popular applause,
Nor, overpowered with arms, deserts his canse;
Unshamed, though foiled, he does the best he can:
Force is of brutes, but honour is of man.

Thus Theseus smiled on all with equal grace,
And each was set according to his place;
With ease were reconciled the differing parts,
For envy never dwells in noble hearts.
At length they took their leave, the time expired,
Well pleased, and to their several homes retired.

Mean while, the health of Arcite still impairs;
From bad proceeds to worse, and mocks the leech's cares;
Swoln is his breast; his inward pains increase;
All means are used, and all without success.
The clottered blood lies heavy on his heart,
Corrupts, and there remains in spite of art;
Nor breathing veins nor cupping will prevail;
All outward remedies and inward fail.
The mould of nature's fabric is destroyed,
Her vessels discomposed, her virtue void:
The bellows of his lungs begins to swell;
All out of frame is every secret cell,
Nor can the good receive, nor bad expel.
Those breathing organs, thus within opprest,
With venom soon distend the sinews of his breast.
Nought profits him to save abandoned life,
Nor vomit's upward aid, nor downward laxative.
The midmost region battered and destroyed,
When nature cannot work, the effect of art is void:
For physic can but mend our crazy state,
Patch an old building, not a new create.
Arcite is doomed to die in all his pride,
Must leave his youth, and yield his beauteous bride,
Gained hardly against right, and unenjoyed.

When 'twas declared all hope of life was past,
Conscience, that of all physic works the last,
Caused him to send for Emily in haste.
With her, at his desire, came Palamon;
Then, on his pillow raised, he thus begun:
No language can express the smallest part
Of what I feel, and suffer in my heart,
For you, whom best I love and value most;
But to your service I bequeath my ghost;
Which, from this mortal body when untied,
Unseen, unheard, shall hover at your side;
Nor fright you waking, nor your sleep offend,
But wait officious, and your steps attend.
How I have loved, excuse my faltering tongue,
My spirit's feeble, and my pains are strong:
This I may say, I only grieve to die,
Because I lose my charming Emily.
To die, when Heaven had put you in my power!
Fate could not choose a more malicious hour.
What greater curse could envious Fortune give,
Than just to die when I began to live!
Vain men! how vanishing a bliss we crave;
Now warm in love, now withering in the grave!
Never, O never more to see the sun!
Still dark, in a damp vault, and still alone!
This fate is common; but I lose my breath
Near bliss, and yet not blessed before my death.
Farewell! but take me dying in your arms;
'Tis all I can enjoy of all your charms:
This hand I cannot but in death resign;
Ah, could I live! but while I live 'tis mine.
I feel my end approach, and thus embraced
Am pleased to die; but hear me speak my last:
Ah, my sweet foe! for you, and you alone,
I broke my faith with injured Palamon.
But love the sense of right and wrong confounds;
Strong love and proud ambition have no bounds.
And much I doubt, should Heaven my life prolong,
I should return to justify my wrong;
For while my former flames remain within,
Repentance is but want of power to sin.
With mortal hatred I pursued his life,
Nor he nor you were guilty of the strife;
Nor I, but as I loved; yet all combined,
Your beauty and my impotence of mind,
And his concurrent flame that blew my fire,
For still our kindred souls had one desire.
He had a moment's right in point of time;
Had I seen first, then his had been the crime.
Fate made it mine, and justified his right;
Nor holds this earth a more deserving knight
For virtue, valour, and for noble blood,
Truth, honour, all that is comprised in good;
So help me Heaven, in all the world is none
So worthy to be loved as Palamon.
He loves you too, with such a holy fire,
As will not, cannot, but with life expire:
Our vowed affections both have often tried,
Nor any love but yours could ours divide.
Then, by my love's inviolable band,
By my long suffering and my short command,
If e'er you plight your vows when I am gone,
Have pity on the faithful Palamon.”
This was his last; for Death came on amain,
And exercised below his iron reign;
Then upward to the seat of life he goes;
Sense fled before him, what he touched he froze:
Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw,
Though less and less of Emily he saw;
So, speechless, for a little space he lay;
Then grasped the hand he held, and sighed his soul away.

But whither went his soul? let such relate
Who search the secrets of the future state:
Divines can say but what themselves believe;
Strong proofs they have, but not demonstrative;
For, were all plain, then all sides must agree,
And faith itself be lost in certainty.
To live uprightly then is sure the best;
To save ourselves, and not to damn the rest.
The soul of Arcite went where heathens go,
Who better live than we, though less they know.

In Palamon a manly grief appears;
Silent he wept, ashamed to show his tears.
Emilia shrieked but once; and then, opprest
With sorrow, sunk upon her lover's breast:
Till Theseus in his arms conveyed with care
Far from so sad a sight the swooning fair.
'Twere loss of time her sorrow to relate;
Ill bears the sex a youthful lover's fate,
When just approaching to the nuptial state:
But, like a low-hung cloud, it rains so fast,
That all at once it falls, and cannot last.
The face of things is changed, and Athens now
That laughed so late, becomes the scene of woe.
Matrons and maids, both sexes, every state,
With tears lament the knight's untimely fate.
Not greater grief in falling Troy was seen
For Hector's death; but Hector was not then.
Old men with dust deformed their hoary hair;
The women beat their breasts, their cheeks they tear.
“Why wouldst thou go,” with one consent they cry,
When thou hadst gold enough, and Emily?”
Theseus himself, who should have cheered the grief
Of others, wanted now the same relief:
Old Ageus only could revive his son,
Who various changes of the world had known,
And strange vicissitudes of human fate,
Still altering, never in a steady state:
Good after ill and after pain delight,
Alternate, like the scenes of day and night.
Since every man who lives is born to die,
And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend;
The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.
Even kings but play, and when their part is done,
Some other, worse or better, mount the throne.
With words like these the crowd was satisfied;
And so they would have been, had Theseus died.
But he, their King, was labouring in his mind
A fitting place for funeral pomps to find,
Which were in honour of the dead designed.
And, after long debate, at last he found
(As Love itself had marked the spot of ground,)
That grove for ever green, that conscious laund,
Where he with Palamon fought hand to hand;
That, where he fed his amorous desires
With soft complaints, and felt his hottest fires,
There other flames might waste his earthly part,
And burn his limbs, where love had burned his heart.

This once resolved, the peasants were enjoined
Sere-wood, and firs, and doddered oaks to find.
With sounding axes to the grove they go,
Fell, split, and lay the fuel in a row;
Vulcanian food: a bier is next prepared,
On which the lifeless body should be reared,
Covered with cloth of gold; on which was laid
The corps of Arcite, in like robes arrayed.
White gloves were on his hands, and on his head
A wreath of laurel, mixed with myrtle, spread.
A sword keen-edged within his right he held,
The warlike emblem of the conquered field:
Bare was his manly visage on the bier;
Menaced his countenance, even in death severe.
Then to the palace-hall they bore the knight,
To lie in solemn state, a public sight:
Groans, cries, and bowlings fill the crowded place,
And unaffected sorrow sat on every face.
Sad Palamon above the rest appears,
In sable garments, dewed with gushing tears;
His auburn locks on either shoulder flowed,
Which to the funeral of his friend he vowed;
But Emily, as chief, was next his side,
A virgin-widow and a mourning bride.
And, that the princely obsequies might be
Performed according to his high degree,
The steed, that bore him living to the fight,
Was trapped with polished steel, all shining bright,
And covered with the atchievements of the knight.
The riders rode abreast; and one his shield,
His lance of cornel-wood another held;
The third his bow, and, glorious to behold,
The costly quiver, all of burnished gold.
The noblest of the Grecians next appear,
And weeping on their shoulders bore the bier;
With sober pace they marched, and often stayed,
And through the master-street the corps conveyed.
The houses to their tops with black were spread,
And even the pavements were with mourning hid.
The right side of the pall old Ageus kept,
And on the left the royal Theseus wept;
Each bore a golden bowl of work divine,
With honey filled, and milk, and mixed with ruddy wine.
Then Palamon, the kinsman of the slain,
And after him appeared the illustrious train.
To grace the pomp came Emily the bright,
With covered fire, the funeral pile to light.
With high devotion was the service made,
And all the rites of pagan honour paid:
So lofty was the pile, a Parthian bow,
With vigour drawn, must send the shaft below.
The bottom was full twenty fathom broad,
With crackling straw, beneath in due proportion strowed.
The fabric seemed a wood of rising green,
With sulphur and bitumen cast between
To feed the flames: the trees were unctuous fir,
And mountain-ash, the mother of the spear;
The mourner-yew and builder-oak were there,
The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane,
Hard box, and linden of a softer grain,
And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs ordain.
How they were ranked shall rest untold by me,
With nameless Nymphs that lived in every tree;
Nor how the Dryads and the woodland train,
Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain:
Nor how the birds to foreign seats repaired,
Or beasts that bolted out and saw the forests bared:
Nor how the ground now cleared with ghastly fright
Beheld the sudden sun, a stranger to the light.

The straw, as first I said, was laid below:
Of chips and sere-wood was the second row;
The third of greens, and timber newly felled;
The fourth high stage the fragrant odours held,
And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array;
In midst of which, embalmed, the body lay.
The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes
The stubble fired; the smouldering flames arise:
This office done, she sunk upon the ground;
But what she spoke, recovered from her swound,
I want the wit in moving words to dress;
But by themselves the tender sex may guess.
While the devouring fire was burning fast,
Rich jewels in the flame the wealthy cast;
And some their shields, and some their lances threw,
And gave the warrior's ghost a warrior's due.
Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk and blood
Were poured upon the pile of burning wood,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food.
Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around
The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound:
Hail and farewell!” they shouted thrice amain,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turned again:
Still, as they turned, they beat their clattering shields;
The women mix their cries, and clamour fills the fields.
The warlike wakes continued all the night,
And funeral games were played at new returning light:
Who naked wrestled best, besmeared with oil,
Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil,
I will not tell you, nor would you attend;
But briefly haste to my long story's end.

I pass the rest; the year was fully mourned,
And Palamon long since to Thebes returned:
When, by the Grecians' general consent,
At Athens Theseus held his parliament;
Among the laws that passed, it was decreed,
That conquered Thebes from bondage should be freed;
Reserving homage to the Athenian throne,
To which the sovereign summoned Palamon.
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way,
Mournful in mind, and still in black array.

The monarch mounts the throne, and, placed on high,
Commands into the court the beauteous Emily.
So called, she came; the senate rose, and paid
Becoming reverence to the royal maid.
And first, soft whispers through the assembly went;
With silent wonder then they watched the event;
All hushed, the King arose with awful grace;
Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his face:
At length he sighed, and having first prepared
The attentive audience, thus his will declared:

The Cause and Spring of motion from above
Hung down on earth the golden chain of Love;
Great was the effect, and high was his intent,
When peace among the jarring seeds he sent;
Fire, flood, and earth and air by this were bound,
And Love, the common link, the new creation crowned.
The chain still holds; for though the forms decay,
Eternal matter never wears away:
The same first mover certain bounds has placed,
How long those perishable forms shall last;
Nor can they last beyond the time assigned
By that all-seeing and all-making Mind:
Shorten their hours they may, for will is free,
But never pass the appointed destiny.
So men oppressed, when weary of their breath,
Throw off the burden, and suborn their death.
Then, since those forms begin, and have their end,
On some unaltered cause they sure depend:
Parts of the whole are we, but God the whole,
Who gives us life, and animating soul.
For Nature cannot from a part derive
That being which the whole can only give:
He perfect, stable; but imperfect we,
Subject to change, and different in degree;
Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are,
We more or less of his perfection share.
But, by a long descent, the etherial fire
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire.
As he withdraws his virtue, so they pass,
And the same matter makes another mass:
This law the omniscient Power was pleased to give,
That every kind should by succession live;
That individuals die, his will ordains;
The propagated species still remains.
The monarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays,
Supreme in state, and in three more decays:
So wears the paving pebble in the street,
And towns and towers their fatal periods meet:
So rivers, rapid once, now naked lie,
Forsaken of their springs, and leave their channels dry.
So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then, formed, the little heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing, in the cell;
At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell,
And struggles into breath, and cries for aid;
Then helpless in his mother's lap is laid.
He creeps, he walks, and, issuing into man,
Grudges their life from whence his own began;
Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne;
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste.
Some thus; but thousands more in flower of age,
For few arrive to run the latter stage.
Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
And others whelmed beneath the stormy main.
What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
At whose command we perish, and we spring?
Then 'tis our best, since thus ordained to die,
To make a virtue of necessity;
Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain;
The bad grows better, which we well sustain;
And could we choose the time, and choose aright,
'Tis best to die, our honour at the height.
When we have done our ancestors no shame,
But served our friends, and well secured our fame;
Then should we wish our happy life to close,
And leave no more for fortune to dispose;
So should we make our death a glad relief
From future shame, from sickness, and from grief;
Enjoying while we live the present hour,
And dying in our excellence and flower.
Then round our death-bed every friend should run,
And joy us of our conquest early won;
While the malicious world, with envious tears,
Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs.
Since then our Arcite is with honour dead,
Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed,
Or call untimely what the gods decreed?
With grief as just a friend may be deplored,
From a foul prison to free air restored.
Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
Could tears recall him into wretched life?
Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost,
And worse than both, offends his happy ghost.
What then remains, but after past annoy
To take the good vicissitude of joy;
To thank the gracious gods for what they give,
Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live?
Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
And in one point the extremes of grief to join;
That thence resulting joy may be renewed,
As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Then I propose that Palamon shall be
In marriage joined with beauteous Emily;
For which already I have gained the assent
Of my free people in full parliament.
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight,
And well deserved, had Fortune done him right:
'Tis time to mend her fault, since Emily
By Arcite's death from former vows is free;
If you, fair sister, ratify the accord,
And take him for your husband and your lord,
'Tis no dishonour to confer your grace
On one descended from a royal race;
And were he less, yet years of service past
From grateful souls exact reward at last.
Pity is Heaven's and yours; nor can she find
A throne so soft as in a woman's mind.”

He said; she blushed; and as o'erawed by might,
Seemed to give Theseus what she gave the knight.
Then, turning to the Theban, thus he said:

“Small arguments are needful to persuade
Your temper to comply with my command:”

And speaking thus, he gave Emilia's hand.
Smiled Venus, to behold her own true knight.
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight;
And blessed with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious night.
Eros and Anteros on either side,
One fired the bridegroom, and one warmed the bride;
And long-attending Hymen from above

Showered on the bed the whole Idalian grove.
All of a tenor was their after-life,
No day discoloured with domestic strife;
No jealousy, but mutual truth believed,
Secure repose, and kindness undeceived.
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought,
Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.

So may the Queen of Love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success.

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I. The Ring and the Book

Do you see this Ring?
'T is Rome-work, made to match
(By Castellani's imitative craft)
Etrurian circlets found, some happy morn,
After a dropping April; found alive
Spark-like 'mid unearthed slope-side figtree-roots
That roof old tombs at Chiusi: soft, you see,
Yet crisp as jewel-cutting. There's one trick,
(Craftsmen instruct me) one approved device
And but one, fits such slivers of pure gold
As this was,—such mere oozings from the mine,
Virgin as oval tawny pendent tear
At beehive-edge when ripened combs o'erflow,—
To bear the file's tooth and the hammer's tap:
Since hammer needs must widen out the round,
And file emboss it fine with lily-flowers,
Ere the stuff grow a ring-thing right to wear.
That trick is, the artificer melts up wax
With honey, so to speak; he mingles gold
With gold's alloy, and, duly tempering both,
Effects a manageable mass, then works:
But his work ended, once the thing a ring,
Oh, there's repristination! Just a spirt
O' the proper fiery acid o'er its face,
And forth the alloy unfastened flies in fume;
While, self-sufficient now, the shape remains,
The rondure brave, the lilied loveliness,
Gold as it was, is, shall be evermore:
Prime nature with an added artistry—
No carat lost, and you have gained a ring.
What of it? 'T is a figure, a symbol, say;
A thing's sign: now for the thing signified.

Do you see this square old yellow Book, I toss
I' the air, and catch again, and twirl about
By the crumpled vellum covers,—pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since?
Examine it yourselves! I found this book,
Gave a lira for it, eightpence English just,
(Mark the predestination!) when a Hand,
Always above my shoulder, pushed me once,
One day still fierce 'mid many a day struck calm,
Across a Square in Florence, crammed with booths,
Buzzing and blaze, noontide and market-time,
Toward Baccio's marble,—ay, the basement-ledge
O' the pedestal where sits and menaces
John of the Black Bands with the upright spear,
'Twixt palace and church,—Riccardi where they lived,
His race, and San Lorenzo where they lie.
This book,—precisely on that palace-step
Which, meant for lounging knaves o' the Medici,
Now serves re-venders to display their ware,—
Mongst odds and ends of ravage, picture-frames
White through the worn gilt, mirror-sconces chipped,
Bronze angel-heads once knobs attached to chests,
(Handled when ancient dames chose forth brocade)
Modern chalk drawings, studies from the nude,
Samples of stone, jet, breccia, porphyry
Polished and rough, sundry amazing busts
In baked earth, (broken, Providence be praised!)
A wreck of tapestry, proudly-purposed web
When reds and blues were indeed red and blue,
Now offered as a mat to save bare feet
(Since carpets constitute a cruel cost)
Treading the chill scagliola bedward: then
A pile of brown-etched prints, two crazie each,
Stopped by a conch a-top from fluttering forth
—Sowing the Square with works of one and the same
Master, the imaginative Sienese
Great in the scenic backgrounds—(name and fame
None of you know, nor does he fare the worse:)
From theseOh, with a Lionard going cheap
If it should prove, as promised, that Joconde
Whereof a copy contents the Louvre!—these
I picked this book from. Five compeers in flank
Stood left and right of it as tempting more
A dogseared Spicilegium, the fond tale
O' the Frail One of the Flower, by young Dumas,
Vulgarized Horace for the use of schools,
The Life, Death, Miracles of Saint Somebody,
Saint Somebody Else, his Miracles, Death and Life,—
With this, one glance at the lettered back of which,
And "Stall!" cried I: a lira made it mine.

Here it is, this I toss and take again;
Small-quarto size, part print part manuscript:
A book in shape but, really, pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since.
Give it me back! The thing's restorative
I'the touch and sight.

That memorable day,
(June was the month, Lorenzo named the Square)
I leaned a little and overlooked my prize
By the low railing round the fountain-source
Close to the statue, where a step descends:
While clinked the cans of copper, as stooped and rose
Thick-ankled girls who brimmed them, and made place
For marketmen glad to pitch basket down,
Dip a broad melon-leaf that holds the wet,
And whisk their faded fresh. And on I read
Presently, though my path grew perilous
Between the outspread straw-work, piles of plait
Soon to be flapping, each o'er two black eyes
And swathe of Tuscan hair, on festas fine:
Through fire-irons, tribes of tongs, shovels in sheaves,
Skeleton bedsteads, wardrobe-drawers agape,
Rows of tall slim brass lamps with dangling gear,—
And worse, cast clothes a-sweetening in the sun:
None of them took my eye from off my prize.
Still read I on, from written title-page
To written index, on, through street and street,
At the Strozzi, at the Pillar, at the Bridge;
Till, by the time I stood at home again
In Casa Guidi by Felice Church,
Under the doorway where the black begins
With the first stone-slab of the staircase cold,
I had mastered the contents, knew the whole truth
Gathered together, bound up in this book,
Print three-fifths, written supplement the rest.
"Romana Homicidiorum"—nay,
Better translate—"A Roman murder-case:
"Position of the entire criminal cause
"Of Guido Franceschini, nobleman,
"With certain Four the cutthroats in his pay,
"Tried, all five, and found guilty and put to death
"By heading or hanging as befitted ranks,
"At Rome on February Twenty Two,
"Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight:
"Wherein it is disputed if, and when,
"Husbands may kill adulterous wives, yet 'scape
"The customary forfeit."

Word for word,
So ran the title-page: murder, or else
Legitimate punishment of the other crime,
Accounted murder by mistake,—just that
And no more, in a Latin cramp enough
When the law had her eloquence to launch,
But interfilleted with Italian streaks
When testimony stooped to mother-tongue,—
That, was this old square yellow book about.

Now, as the ingot, ere the ring was forged,
Lay gold, (beseech you, hold that figure fast!)
So, in this book lay absolutely truth,
Fanciless fact, the documents indeed,
Primary lawyer-pleadings for, against,
The aforesaid Five; real summed-up circumstance
Adduced in proof of these on either side,
Put forth and printed, as the practice was,
At Rome, in the Apostolic Chamber's type,
And so submitted to the eye o' the Court
Presided over by His Reverence
Rome's Governor and Criminal Judge,—the trial
Itself, to all intents, being then as now
Here in the book and nowise out of it;
Seeing, there properly was no judgment-bar,
No bringing of accuser and accused,
And whoso judged both parties, face to face
Before some court, as we conceive of courts.
There was a Hall of Justice; that came last:
For Justice had a chamber by the hall
Where she took evidence first, summed up the same,
Then sent accuser and accused alike,
In person of the advocate of each,
To weigh its worth, thereby arrange, array
The battle. 'T was the so-styled Fisc began,
Pleaded (and since he only spoke in print
The printed voice of him lives now as then)
The public Prosecutor—"Murder's proved;
"With five … what we call qualities of bad,
"Worse, worst, and yet worse still, and still worse yet;
"Crest over crest crowning the cockatrice,
"That beggar hell's regalia to enrich
"Count Guido Franceschini: punish him!"
Thus was the paper put before the court
In the next stage, (no noisy work at all,)
To study at ease. In due time like reply
Came from the so-styled Patron of the Poor,
Official mouthpiece of the five accused
Too poor to fee a better,—Guido's luck
Or else his fellows',—which, I hardly know,—
An outbreak as of wonder at the world,
A fury-fit of outraged innocence,
A passion of betrayed simplicity:
"Punish Count Guido? For what crime, what hint
"O' the colour of a crime, inform us first!
"Reward him rather! Recognize, we say,
"In the deed done, a righteous judgment dealt!
"All conscience and all courage,—there's our Count
"Charactered in a word; and, what's more strange,
"He had companionship in privilege,
"Found four courageous conscientious friends:
"Absolve, applaud all five, as props of law,
"Sustainers of society!—perchance
"A trifle over-hasty with the hand
"To hold her tottering ark, had tumbled else;
"But that's a splendid fault whereat we wink,
"Wishing your cold correctness sparkled so!"
Thus paper second followed paper first,
Thus did the two join issue—nay, the four,
Each pleader having an adjunct. "True, he killed
"—So to speakin a certain sort—his wife,
"But laudably, since thus it happed!" quoth one:
Whereat, more witness and the case postponed.
"Thus it happed not, since thus he did the deed,
"And proved himself thereby portentousest
"Of cutthroats and a prodigy of crime,
"As the woman that he slaughtered was a saint,
"Martyr and miracle!" quoth the other to match:
Again, more witness, and the case postponed.
"A miracle, ay—of lust and impudence;
"Hear my new reasons!" interposed the first:
"—Coupled with more of mine!" pursued his peer.
"Beside, the precedents, the authorities!"
From both at once a cry with an echo, that!
That was a firebrand at each fox's tail
Unleashed in a cornfield: soon spread flare enough,
As hurtled thither and there heaped themselves
From earth's four corners, all authority
And precedent for putting wives to death,
Or letting wives live, sinful as they seem.
How legislated, now, in this respect,
Solon and his Athenians? Quote the code
Of Romulus and Rome! Justinian speak!
Nor modern Baldo, Bartolo be dumb!
The Roman voice was potent, plentiful;
Cornelia de Sicariis hurried to help
Pompeia de Parricidiis; Julia de
Something-or-other jostled Lex this-and-that;
King Solomon confirmed Apostle Paul:
That nice decision of Dolabella, eh?
That pregnant instance of Theodoric, oh!
Down to that choice example Ælian gives
(An instance I find much insisted on)
Of the elephant who, brute-beast though he were,
Yet understood and punished on the spot
His master's naughty spouse and faithless friend;
A true tale which has edified each child,
Much more shall flourish favoured by our court!
Pages of proof this way, and that way proof,
And always—once again the case postponed.
Thus wrangled, brangled, jangled they a month,
Only on paper, pleadings all in print,
Nor ever was, except i' the brains of men,
More noise by word of mouth than you hear now
Till the court cut all short with "Judged, your cause.
"Receive our sentence! Praise God! We pronounce
"Count Guido devilish and damnable:
"His wife Pompilia in thought, word and deed,
"Was perfect pure, he murdered her for that:
"As for the Four who helped the One, all Five—
"Why, let employer and hirelings share alike
"In guilt and guilt's reward, the death their due!"

So was the trial at end, do you suppose?
"Guilty you find him, death you doom him to?
"Ay, were not Guido, more than needs, a priest,
"Priest and to spare!"—this was a shot reserved;
I learn this from epistles which begin
Here where the print ends,—see the pen and ink
Of the advocate, the ready at a pinch!—
"My client boasts the clerkly privilege,
"Has taken minor orders many enough,
"Shows still sufficient chrism upon his pate
"To neutralize a blood-stain: presbyter,
"Primæ tonsuræ, subdiaconus,
"Sacerdos, so he slips from underneath
"Your power, the temporal, slides inside the robe
"Of mother Church: to her we make appeal
"By the Pope, the Church's head!"

A parlous plea,
Put in with noticeable effect, it seems;
"Since straight,"—resumes the zealous orator,
Making a friend acquainted with the facts,—
"Once the word 'clericality' let fall,
"Procedure stopped and freer breath was drawn
"By all considerate and responsible Rome."
Quality took the decent part, of course;
Held by the husband, who was noble too:
Or, for the matter of that, a churl would side
With too-refined susceptibility,
And honour which, tender in the extreme,
Stung to the quick, must roughly right itself
At all risks, not sit still and whine for law
As a Jew would, if you squeezed him to the wall,
Brisk-trotting through the Ghetto. Nay, it seems,
Even the Emperor's Envoy had his say
To say on the subject; might not see, unmoved,
Civility menaced throughout Christendom
By too harsh measure dealt her champion here.
Lastly, what made all safe, the Pope was kind,
From his youth up, reluctant to take life,
If mercy might be just and yet show grace;
Much more unlikely then, in extreme age,
To take a life the general sense bade spare.
'T was plain that Guido would go scatheless yet.

But human promise, oh, how short of shine!
How topple down the piles of hope we rear!
How history proves … nay, read Herodotus!
Suddenly starting from a nap, as it were,
A dog-sleep with one shut, one open orb,
Cried the Pope's great self,—Innocent by name
And nature too, and eighty-six years old,
Antonio Pignatelli of Naples, Pope
Who had trod many lands, known many deeds,
Probed many hearts, beginning with his own,
And now was far in readiness for God,—
'T was he who first bade leave those souls in peace,
Those Jansenists, re-nicknamed Molinists,
('Gainst whom the cry went, like a frowsy tune,
Tickling men's earsthe sect for a quarter of an hour
I' the teeth of the world which, clown-like, loves to chew
Be it but a straw 'twixt work and whistling-while,
Taste some vituperation, bite away,
Whether at marjoram-sprig or garlic-clove,
Aught it may sport with, spoil, and then spit forth)
"Leave them alone," bade he, "those Molinists!
"Who may have other light than we perceive,
"Or why is it the whole world hates them thus?"
Also he peeled off that last scandal-rag
Of Nepotism; and so observed the poor
That men would merrily say, "Halt, deaf and blind,
"Who feed on fat things, leave the master's self
"To gather up the fragments of his feast,
'These be the nephews of Pope Innocent!—
"His own meal costs but five carlines a day,
"Poor-priest's allowance, for he claims no more."
He cried of a sudden, this great good old Pope,
When they appealed in last resort to him,
"I have mastered the whole matter: I nothing doubt.
"Though Guido stood forth priest from head to heel,
"Instead of, as alleged, a piece of one,—
"And further, were he, from the tonsured scalp
"To the sandaled sole of him, my son and Christ's,
"Instead of touching us by finger-tip
"As you assert, and pressing up so close
"Only to set a blood-smutch on our robe,—
"I and Christ would renounce all right in him.
"Am I not Pope, and presently to die,
"And busied how to render my account,
"And shall I wait a day ere I decide
"On doing or not doing justice here?
"Cut off his head to-morrow by this time,
"Hang up his four mates, two on either hand,
"And end one business more!"

So said, so done
Rather so writ, for the old Pope bade this,
I find, with his particular chirograph,
His own no such infirm hand, Friday night;
And next day, February Twenty Two,
Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight,
Not at the proper head-and-hanging-place
On bridge-foot close by Castle Angelo,
Where custom somewhat staled the spectacle,
('T was not so well i' the way of Rome, beside,
The noble Rome, the Rome of Guido's rank)
But at the city's newer gayer end,—
The cavalcading promenading place
Beside the gate and opposite the church
Under the Pincian gardens green with Spring,
'Neath the obelisk 'twixt the fountains in the Square,
Did Guido and his fellows find their fate,
All Rome for witness, andmy writer adds—
Remonstrant in its universal grief,
Since Guido had the suffrage of all Rome.

This is the bookful; thus far take the truth,
The untempered gold, the fact untampered with,
The mere ring-metal ere the ring be made!
And what has hitherto come of it? Who preserves
The memory of this Guido, and his wife
Pompilia, more than Ademollo's name,
The etcher of those prints, two crazie each,
Saved by a stone from snowing broad the Square
With scenic backgrounds? Was this truth of force?
Able to take its own part as truth should,
Sufficient, self-sustaining? Why, if so
Yonder's a fire, into it goes my book,
As who shall say me nay, and what the loss?
You know the tale already: I may ask,
Rather than think to tell you, more thereof,—
Ask you not merely who were he and she,
Husband and wife, what manner of mankind,
But how you hold concerning this and that
Other yet-unnamed actor in the piece.
The young frank handsome courtly Canon, now,
The priest, declared the lover of the wife,
He who, no question, did elope with her,
For certain bring the tragedy about,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi;—his strange course
I' the matter, was it right or wrong or both?
Then the old couple, slaughtered with the wife
By the husband as accomplices in crime,
Those Comparini, Pietro and his spouse,—
What say you to the right or wrong of that,
When, at a known name whispered through the door
Of a lone villa on a Christmas night,
It opened that the joyous hearts inside
Might welcome as it were an angel-guest
Come in Christ's name to knock and enter, sup
And satisfy the loving ones he saved;
And so did welcome devils and their death?
I have been silent on that circumstance
Although the couple passed for close of kin
To wife and husband, were by some accounts
Pompilia's very parents: you know best.
Also that infant the great joy was for,
That Gaetano, the wife's two-weeks' babe,
The husband's first-born child, his son and heir,
Whose birth and being turned his night to day
Why must the father kill the mother thus
Because she bore his son and saved himself?


Well, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!) and will have your proper laugh
At the dark question, laugh it! I laugh first.
Truth must prevail, the proverb vows; and truth
Here is it all i' the book at last, as first
There it was all i' the heads and hearts of Rome
Gentle and simple, never to fall nor fade
Nor be forgotten. Yet, a little while,
The passage of a century or so,
Decads thrice five, and here's time paid his tax,
Oblivion gone home with her harvesting,
And all left smooth again as scythe could shave.
Far from beginning with you London folk,
I took my book to Rome first, tried truth's power
On likely people. "Have you met such names?
"Is a tradition extant of such facts?
"Your law-courts stand, your records frown a-row:
"What if I rove and rummage?" "—Why, you'll waste
"Your pains and end as wise as you began!"
Everyone snickered: "names and facts thus old
"Are newer much than Europe news we find
"Down in to-day's Diario. Records, quotha?
"Why, the French burned them, what else do the French?
"The rap-and-rending nation! And it tells
"Against the Church, no doubt,—another gird
"At the Temporality, your Trial, of course?"
"—Quite otherwise this time," submitted I;
"Clean for the Church and dead against the world,
"The flesh and the devil, does it tell for once."
"—The rarer and the happier! All the same,
"Content you with your treasure of a book,
"And waive what's wanting! Take a friend's advice!
"It's not the custom of the country. Mend
"Your ways indeed and we may stretch a point:
"Go get you manned by Manning and new-manned
"By Newman and, mayhap, wise-manned to boot
"By Wiseman, and we'll see or else we won't!
"Thanks meantime for the story, long and strong,
"A pretty piece of narrative enough,
"Which scarce ought so to drop out, one would think,
"From the more curious annals of our kind.
"Do you tell the story, now, in off-hand style,
"Straight from the book? Or simply here and there,
"(The while you vault it through the loose and large)
"Hang to a hint? Or is there book at all,
"And don't you deal in poetry, make-believe,
"And the white lies it sounds like?"


Yes and no!
From the book, yes; thence bit by bit I dug
The lingot truth, that memorable day,
Assayed and knew my piecemeal gain was gold,—
Yes; but from something else surpassing that,
Something of mine which, mixed up with the mass,
Made it bear hammer and be firm to file.
Fancy with fact is just one fact the more;
To-wit, that fancy has informed, transpierced,
Thridded and so thrown fast the facts else free,
As right through ring and ring runs the djereed
And binds the loose, one bar without a break.
I fused my live soul and that inert stuff,
Before attempting smithcraft, on the night
After the day when,—truth thus grasped and gained,—
The book was shut and done with and laid by
On the cream-coloured massive agate, broad
'Neath the twin cherubs in the tarnished frame
O' the mirror, tall thence to the ceiling-top.
And from the reading, and that slab I leant
My elbow on, the while I read and read,
I turned, to free myself and find the world,
And stepped out on the narrow terrace, built
Over the street and opposite the church,
And paced its lozenge-brickwork sprinkled cool;
Because Felice-church-side stretched, a-glow
Through each square window fringed for festival,
Whence came the clear voice of the cloistered ones
Chanting a chant made for midsummer nights—
I know not what particular praise of God,
It always came and went with June. Beneath
I' the street, quick shown by openings of the sky
When flame fell silently from cloud to cloud,
Richer than that gold snow Jove rained on Rhodes,
The townsmen walked by twos and threes, and talked,
Drinking the blackness in default of air
A busy human sense beneath my feet:
While in and out the terrace-plants, and round
One branch of tall datura, waxed and waned
The lamp-fly lured there, wanting the white flower.
Over the roof o' the lighted church I looked
A bowshot to the street's end, north away
Out of the Roman gate to the Roman road
By the river, till I felt the Apennine.
And there would lie Arezzo, the man's town,
The woman's trap and cage and torture-place,
Also the stage where the priest played his part,
A spectacle for angels,—ay, indeed,
There lay Arezzo! Farther then I fared,
Feeling my way on through the hot and dense,
Romeward, until I found the wayside inn
By Castelnuovo's few mean hut-like homes
Huddled together on the hill-foot bleak,
Bare, broken only by that tree or two
Against the sudden bloody splendour poured
Cursewise in day's departure by the sun
O'er the low house-roof of that squalid inn
Where they three, for the first time and the last,
Husband and wife and priest, met face to face.
Whence I went on again, the end was near,
Step by step, missing none and marking all,
Till Rome itself, the ghastly goal, I reached.
Why, all the while,—how could it otherwise?—
The life in me abolished the death of things,
Deep calling unto deep: as then and there
Acted itself over again once more
The tragic piece. I saw with my own eyes
In Florence as I trod the terrace, breathed
The beauty and the fearfulness of night,
How it had run, this round from Rome to Rome—
Because, you are to know, they lived at Rome,
Pompilia's parents, as they thought themselves,
Two poor ignoble hearts who did their best
Part God's way, part the other way than God's,
To somehow make a shift and scramble through
The world's mud, careless if it splashed and spoiled,
Provided they might so hold high, keep clean
Their child's soul, one soul white enough for three,
And lift it to whatever star should stoop,
What possible sphere of purer life than theirs
Should come in aid of whiteness hard to save.
I saw the star stoop, that they strained to touch,
And did touch and depose their treasure on,
As Guido Franceschini took away
Pompilia to be his for evermore,
While they sang "Now let us depart in peace,
"Having beheld thy glory, Guido's wife!"
I saw the star supposed, but fog o' the fen,
Gilded star-fashion by a glint from hell;
Having been heaved up, haled on its gross way,
By hands unguessed before, invisible help
From a dark brotherhood, and specially
Two obscure goblin creatures, fox-faced this,
Cat-clawed the other, called his next of kin
By Guido the main monster,—cloaked and caped,
Making as they were priests, to mock God more,—
Abate Paul, Canon Girolamo.
These who had rolled the starlike pest to Rome
And stationed it to suck up and absorb
The sweetness of Pompilia, rolled again
That bloated bubble, with her soul inside,
Back to Arezzo and a palace there
Or say, a fissure in the honest earth
Whence long ago had curled the vapour first,
Blown big by nether firs to appal day:
It touched home, broke, and blasted far and wide.
I saw the cheated couple find the cheat
And guess what foul rite they were captured for,—
Too fain to follow over hill and dale
That child of theirs caught up thus in the cloud
And carried by the Prince o' the Power of the Air
Whither he would, to wilderness or sea.
I saw them, in the potency of fear,
Break somehow through the satyr-family
(For a grey mother with a monkey-mien,
Mopping and mowing, was apparent too,
As, confident of capture, all took hands
And danced about the captives in a ring)
Saw them break through, breathe safe, at Rome again,
Saved by the selfish instinct, losing so
Their loved one left with haters. These I saw,
In recrudescency of baffled hate,
Prepare to wring the uttermost revenge
From body and soul thus left them: all was sure,
Fire laid and cauldron set, the obscene ring traced,
The victim stripped and prostrate: what of God?
The cleaving of a cloud, a cry, a crash,
Quenched lay their cauldron, cowered i' the dust the crew,
As, in a glory of armour like Saint George,
Out again sprang the young good beauteous priest
Bearing away the lady in his arms,
Saved for a splendid minute and no more.
For, whom i' the path did that priest come upon,
He and the poor lost lady borne so brave,
—Checking the song of praise in me, had else
Swelled to the full for God's will done on earth
Whom but a dusk misfeatured messenger,
No other than the angel of this life,
Whose care is lest men see too much at once.
He made the sign, such God-glimpse must suffice,
Nor prejudice the Prince o' the Power of the Air,
Whose ministration piles us overhead
What we call, first, earth's roof and, last, heaven's floor,
Now grate o' the trap, then outlet of the cage:
So took the lady, left the priest alone,
And once more canopied the world with black.
But through the blackness I saw Rome again,
And where a solitary villa stood
In a lone garden-quarter: it was eve,
The second of the year, and oh so cold!
Ever and anon there flittered through the air
A snow-flake, and a scanty couch of snow
Crusted the grass-walk and the garden-mould.
All was grave, silent, sinister,—when, ha?
Glimmeringly did a pack of were-wolves pad
The snow, those flames were Guido's eyes in front,
And all five found and footed it, the track,
To where a threshold-streak of warmth and light
Betrayed the villa-door with life inside,
While an inch outside were those blood-bright eyes,
And black lips wrinkling o'er the flash of teeth,
And tongues that lolled—Oh God that madest man!
They parleyed in their language. Then one whined—
That was the policy and master-stroke—
Deep in his throat whispered what seemed a name
"Open to Caponsacchi!" Guido cried:
"Gabriel!" cried Lucifer at Eden-gate.
Wide as a heart, opened the door at once,
Showing the joyous couple, and their child
The two-weeks' mother, to the wolves, the wolves
To them. Close eyes! And when the corpses lay
Stark-stretched, and those the wolves, their wolf-work done,
Were safe-embosomed by the night again,
I knew a necessary change in things;
As when the worst watch of the night gives way,
And there comes duly, to take cognizance,
The scrutinizing eye-point of some star
And who despairs of a new daybreak now?
Lo, the first ray protruded on those five!
It reached them, and each felon writhed transfixed.
Awhile they palpitated on the spear
Motionless over Tophet: stand or fall?
"I say, the spear should fall—should stand, I say!"
Cried the world come to judgment, granting grace
Or dealing doom according to world's wont,
Those world's-bystanders grouped on Rome's crossroad
At prick and summons of the primal curse
Which bids man love as well as make a lie.
There prattled they, discoursed the right and wrong,
Turned wrong to right, proved wolves sheep and sheep wolves,
So that you scarce distinguished fell from fleece;
Till out spoke a great guardian of the fold,
Stood up, put forth his hand that held the crook,
And motioned that the arrested point decline:
Horribly off, the wriggling dead-weight reeled,
Rushed to the bottom and lay ruined there.
Though still at the pit's mouth, despite the smoke
O' the burning, tarriers turned again to talk
And trim the balance, and detect at least
A touch of wolf in what showed whitest sheep,
A cross of sheep redeeming the whole wolf,—
Vex truth a little longer:—less and less,
Because years came and went, and more and more
Brought new lies with them to be loved in turn.
Till all at once the memory of the thing,—
The fact that, wolves or sheep, such creatures were,—
Which hitherto, however men supposed,
Had somehow plain and pillar-like prevailed
I' the midst of them, indisputably fact,
Granite, time's tooth should grate against, not graze,—
Why, this proved sandstone, friable, fast to fly
And give its grain away at wish o' the wind.
Ever and ever more diminutive,
Base gone, shaft lost, only entablature,
Dwindled into no bigger than a book,
Lay of the column; and that little, left
By the roadside 'mid the ordure, shards and weeds.
Until I haply, wandering that lone way,
Kicked it up, turned it over, and recognized,
For all the crumblement, this abacus,
This square old yellow book,—could calculate
By this the lost proportions of the style.

This was it from, my fancy with those facts,
I used to tell the tale, turned gay to grave,
But lacked a listener seldom; such alloy,
Such substance of me interfused the gold
Which, wrought into a shapely ring therewith,
Hammered and filed, fingered and favoured, last
Lay ready for the renovating wash
O' the water. "How much of the tale was true?"
I disappeared; the book grew all in all;
The lawyers' pleadings swelled back to their size,—
Doubled in two, the crease upon them yet,
For more commodity of carriage, see!—
And these are letters, veritable sheets
That brought posthaste the news to Florence, writ
At Rome the day Count Guido died, we find,
To stay the craving of a client there,
Who bound the same and so produced my book.
Lovers of dead truth, did ye fare the worse?
Lovers of live truth, found ye false my tale?

Well, now; there's nothing in nor out o' the world
Good except truth: yet this, the something else,
What's this then, which proves good yet seems untrue?
This that I mixed with truth, motions of mine
That quickened, made the inertness malleolable
O'the gold was not mine,—what's your name for this?
Are means to the end, themselves in part the end?
Is fiction which makes fact alive, fact too?
The somehow may be thishow.

I find first
Writ down for very A B C of fact,
"In the beginning God made heaven and earth;"
From which, no matter with what lisp, I spell
And speak you out a consequence—that man,
Man,—as befits the made, the inferior thing,—
Purposed, since made, to grow, not make in turn,
Yet forced to try and make, else fail to grow,—
Formed to rise, reach at, if not grasp and gain
The good beyond him,—which attempt is growth,—
Repeats God's process in man's due degree,
Attaining man's proportionate result,—
Creates, no, but resuscitates, perhaps.
Inalienable, the arch-prerogative
Which turns thought, act—conceives, expresses too!
No less, man, bounded, yearning to be free,
May so proiect his surplusage of soul
In search of body, so add self to self
By owning what lay ownerless before,—
So find, so fill full, so appropriate forms
That, although nothing which had never life
Shall get life from him, be, not having been,
Yet, something dead may get to live again,
Something with too much life or not enough,
Which, either way imperfect, ended once:
An end whereat man's impulse intervenes,
Makes new beginning, starts the dead alive,
Completes the incomplete and saves the thing.
Man's breath were vain to light a virgin wick,—
Half-burned-out, all but quite-quenched wicks o' the lamp
Stationed for temple-service on this earth,
These indeed let him breathe on and relume!
For such man's feat is, in the due degree,
—Mimic creation, galvanism for life,
But still a glory portioned in the scale.
Why did the mage say,—feeling as we are wont
For truth, and stopping midway short of truth,
And resting on a lie,—"I raise a ghost"?
"Because," he taught adepts, "man makes not man.
"Yet by a special gift, an art of arts,
"More insight and more outsight and much more
"Will to use both of these than boast my mates,
"I can detach from me, commission forth
"Half of my soul; which in its pilgrimage
"O'er old unwandered waste ways of the world,
"May chance upon some fragment of a whole,
"Rag of flesh, scrap of bone in dim disuse,
"Smoking flax that fed fire once: prompt therein
"I enter, spark-like, put old powers to play,
"Push lines out to the limit, lead forth last
"(By a moonrise through a ruin of a crypt)
"What shall be mistily seen, murmuringly heard,
"Mistakenly felt: then write my name with Faust's!"
Oh, Faust, why Faust? Was not Elisha once?—
Who bade them lay his staff on a corpse-face.
There was no voice, no hearing: he went in
Therefore, and shut the door upon them twain,
And prayed unto the Lord: and he went up
And lay upon the corpse, dead on the couch,
And put his mouth upon its mouth, his eyes
Upon its eyes, his hands upon its hands,
And stretched him on the flesh; the flesh waxed warm:
And he returned, walked to and fro the house,
And went up, stretched him on the flesh again,
And the eyes opened. 'T is a credible feat
With the right man and way.

Enough of me!
The Book! I turn its medicinable leaves
In London now till, as in Florence erst,
A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb,
And lights my eye, and lifts me by the hair,
Letting me have my will again with these
How title I the dead alive once more?

Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine,
Descended of an ancient house, though poor,
A beak-nosed bushy-bearded black-haired lord,
Lean, pallid, low of stature yet robust,
Fifty years old,—having four years ago
Married Pompilia Comparini, young,
Good, beautiful, at Rome, where she was born,
And brought her to Arezzo, where they lived
Unhappy lives, whatever curse the cause,—
This husband, taking four accomplices,
Followed this wife to Rome, where she was fled
From their Arezzo to find peace again,
In convoy, eight months earlier, of a priest,
Aretine also, of still nobler birth,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi,—caught her there
Quiet in a villa on a Christmas night,
With only Pietro and Violante by,
Both her putative parents; killed the three,
Aged, they, seventy each, and she, seventeen,
And, two weeks since, the mother of his babe
First-born and heir to what the style was worth
O' the Guido who determined, dared and did
This deed just as he purposed point by point.
Then, bent upon escape, but hotly pressed,
And captured with his co-mates that same night,
He, brought to trial, stood on this defence—
Injury to his honour caused the act;
And since his wife was false, (as manifest
By flight from home in such companionship,)
Death, punishment deserved of the false wife
And faithless parents who abetted her
I' the flight aforesaid, wronged nor God nor man.
"Nor false she, nor yet faithless they," replied
The accuser; "cloaked and masked this murder glooms;
"True was Pompilia, loyal too the pair;
"Out of the man's own heart a monster curled
"Which crime coiled with connivancy at crime
"His victim's breast, he tells you, hatched and reared;
"Uncoil we and stretch stark the worm of hell!"
A month the trial swayed this way and that
Ere judgment settled down on Guido's guilt;
Then was the Pope, that good Twelfth Innocent,
Appealed to: who well weighed what went before,
Affirmed the guilt and gave the guilty doom.

Let this old woe step on the stage again!
Act itself o'er anew for men to judge,
Not by the very sense and sight indeed—
(Which take at best imperfect cognizance,
Since, how heart moves brain, and how both move hand,
What mortal ever in entirety saw?)
No dose of purer truth than man digests,
But truth with falsehood, milk that feeds him now,
Not strong meat he may get to bear some day
To-wit, by voices we call evidence,
Uproar in the echo, live fact deadened down,
Talked over, bruited abroad, whispered away,
Yet helping us to all we seem to hear:
For how else know we save by worth of word?

Here are the voices presently shall sound
In due succession. First, the world's outcry
Around the rush and ripple of any fact
Fallen stonewise, plumb on the smooth face of things;
The world's guess, as it crowds the bank o' the pool,
At what were figure and substance, by their splash:
Then, by vibrations in the general mind,
At depth of deed already out of reach.
This threefold murder of the day before,—
Say, Half-Rome's feel after the vanished truth;
Honest enough, as the way is: all the same,
Harbouring in the centre of its sense
A hidden germ of failure, shy but sure,
To neutralize that honesty and leave
That feel for truth at fault, as the way is too.
Some prepossession such as starts amiss,
By but a hair's breadth at the shoulder-blade,
The arm o' the feeler, dip he ne'er so bold;
So leads arm waveringly, lets fall wide
O' the mark its finger, sent to find and fix
Truth at the bottom, that deceptive speck.
With this Half-Rome,—the source of swerving, call
Over-belief in Guido's right and wrong
Rather than in Pompilia's wrong and right:
Who shall say how, who shall say why? 'T is there
The instinctive theorizing whence a fact
Looks to the eye as the eye likes the look.
Gossip in a public place, a sample-speech.
Some worthy, with his previous hint to find
A husband's side the safer, and no whit
Aware he is not Æacus the while,—
How such an one supposes and states fact
To whosoever of a multitude
Will listen, and perhaps prolong thereby
The not-unpleasant flutter at the breast,
Born of a certain spectacle shut in
By the church Lorenzo opposite. So, they lounge
Midway the mouth o'the street, on Corso side,
'Twixt palace Fiano and palace Ruspoli,
Linger and listen; keeping clear o' the crowd,
Yet wishful one could lend that crowd one's eyes,
(So universal is its plague of squint)
And make hearts beat our time that flutter false:
All for the truth's sake, mere truth, nothing else!
How Half-Rome found for Guido much excuse.

Next, from Rome's other half, the opposite feel
For truth with a like swerve, like unsuccess,—
Or if success, by no skill but more luck
This time, through siding rather with the wife,
Because a fancy-fit inclined that way,
Than with the husband. One wears drab, one pink;
Who wears pink, ask him "Which shall win the race,
"Of coupled runners like as egg and egg?"
"—Why, if I must choose, he with the pink scarf."
Doubtless for some such reason choice fell here.
A piece of public talk to correspond
At the next stage of the story; just a day
Let pass and new day brings the proper change.
Another sample-speech i' the market-place
O' the Barberini by the Capucins;
Where the old Triton, at his fountain-sport,
Bernini's creature plated to the paps,
Puffs up steel sleet which breaks to diamond dust,
A spray of sparkles snorted from his conch,
High over the caritellas, out o' the way
O' the motley merchandizing multitude.
Our murder has been done three days ago,
The frost is over and gone, the south wind laughs,
And, to the very tiles of each red roof
A-smoke i' the sunshine, Rome lies gold and glad:
So, listen how, to the other half of Rome,
Pompilia seemed a saint and martyr both!

Then, yet another day let come and go,
With pause prelusive still of novelty,
Hear a fresh speaker!—neither this nor that
Half-Rome aforesaid; something bred of both:
One and one breed the inevitable three.
Such is the personage harangues you next;
The elaborated product, tertium quid:
Rome's first commotion in subsidence gives
The curd o'the cream, flower o' the wheat, as it were,
And finer sense o' the city. Is this plain?
You get a reasoned statement of the case,
Eventual verdict of the curious few
Who care to sift a business to the bran
Nor coarsely bolt it like the simpler sort.
Here, after ignorance, instruction speaks;
Here, clarity of candour, history's soul,
The critical mind, in short: no gossip-guess.
What the superior social section thinks,
In person of some man of quality
Who,—breathing musk from lace-work and brocade,
His solitaire amid the flow of frill,
Powdered peruke on nose, and bag at back,
And cane dependent from the ruffled wrist,—
Harangues in silvery and selectest phrase
'Neath waxlight in a glorified saloon
Where mirrors multiply the girandole:
Courting the approbation of no mob,
But Eminence This and All-Illustrious That
Who take snuff softly, range in well-bred ring,
Card-table-quitters for observance' sake,
Around the argument, the rational word
Still, spite its weight and worth, a sample-speech.
How Quality dissertated on the case.

So much for Rome and rumour; smoke comes first:
Once let smoke rise untroubled, we descry
Clearlier what tongues of flame may spire and spit
To eye and ear, each with appropriate tinge
According to its food, or pure or foul.
The actors, no mere rumours of the act,
Intervene. First you hear Count Guido's voice,
In a small chamber that adjoins the court,
Where Governor and Judges, summoned thence,
Tommati, Venturini and the rest,
Find the accused ripe for declaring truth.
Soft-cushioned sits he; yet shifts seat, shirks touch,
As, with a twitchy brow and wincing lip
And cheek that changes to all kinds of white,
He proffers his defence, in tones subdued
Near to mock-mildness now, so mournful seems
The obtuser sense truth fails to satisfy;
Now, moved, from pathos at the wrong endured,
To passion; for the natural man is roused
At fools who first do wrong then pour the blame
Of their wrong-doing, Satan-like, on Job.
Also his tongue at times is hard to curb;
Incisive, nigh satiric bites the phrase,
Rough-raw, yet somehow claiming privilege
It is so hard for shrewdness to admit
Folly means no harm when she calls black white!
—Eruption momentary at the most,
Modified forthwith by a fall o' the fire,
Sage acquiescence; for the world's the world,
And, what it errs in, Judges rectify:
He feels he has a fist, then folds his arms
Crosswise and makes his mind up to be meek.
And never once does he detach his eye
From those ranged there to slay him or to save,
But does his best man's-service for himself,
Despite,—what twitches brow and makes lip wince,—
His limbs' late taste of what was called the Cord,
Or Vigil-torture more facetiously.
Even so; they were wont to tease the truth
Out of loth witness (toying, trifling time)
By torture: 't was a trick, a vice of the age,
Here, there and everywhere, what would you have?
Religion used to tell Humanity
She gave him warrant or denied him course.
And since the course was much to his own mind,
Of pinching flesh and pulling bone from bone
To unhusk truth a-hiding in its hulls,
Nor whisper of a warning stopped the way,
He, in their joint behalf, the burly slave,
Bestirred him, mauled and maimed all recusants,
While, prim in place, Religion overlooked;
And so had done till doomsday, never a sign
Nor sound of interference from her mouth,
But that at last the burly slave wiped brow,
Let eye give notice as if soul were there,
Muttered "'T is a vile trick, foolish more than vile,
"Should have been counted sin; I make it so:
"At any rate no more of it for me
"Nay, for I break the torture-engine thus!"
Then did Religion start up, stare amain,
Look round for help and see none, smile and say
"What, broken is the rack? Well done of thee!
"Did I forget to abrogate its use?
"Be the mistake in common with us both!
"—One more fault our blind age shall answer for,
"Down in my book denounced though it must be
"Somewhere. Henceforth find truth by milder means!"
Ah but, Religion, did we wait for thee
To ope the book, that serves to sit upon,
And pick such place out, we should wait indeed!
That is all history: and what is not now,
Was then, defendants found it to their cost.
How Guido, after being tortured, spoke.

Also hear Caponsacchi who comes next,
Man and priest—could you comprehend the coil!—
In days when that was rife which now is rare.
How, mingling each its multifarious wires,
Now heaven, now earth, now heaven and earth at once,
Had plucked at and perplexed their puppet here,
Played off the young frank personable priest;
Sworn fast and tonsured plain heaven's celibate,
And yet earth's clear-accepted servitor,
A courtly spiritual Cupid, squire of dames
By law of love and mandate of the mode.
The Church's own, or why parade her seal,
Wherefore that chrism and consecrative work?
Yet verily the world's, or why go badged
A prince of sonneteers and lutanists,
Show colour of each vanity in vogue
Borne with decorum due on blameless breast?
All that is changed now, as he tells the court
How he had played the part excepted at;
Tells it, moreover, now the second time:
Since, for his cause of scandal, his own share
I' the flight from home and husband of the wife,
He has been censured, punished in a sort
By relegation,—exile, we should say,
To a short distance for a little time,—
Whence he is summoned on a sudden now,
Informed that she, he thought to save, is lost,
And, in a breath, bidden re-tell his tale,
Since the first telling somehow missed effect,
And then advise in the matter. There stands he,
While the same grim black-panelled chamber blinks
As though rubbed shiny with the sins of Rome
Told the same oak for ages—wave-washed wall
Against which sets a sea of wickedness.
There, where you yesterday heard Guido speak,
Speaks Caponsacchi; and there face him too
Tommati, Venturini and the rest
Who, eight months earlier, scarce repressed the smile,
Forewent the wink; waived recognition so
Of peccadillos incident to youth,
Especially youth high-born; for youth means love,
Vows can't change nature, priests are only men,
And love likes stratagem and subterfuge
Which age, that once was youth, should recognize,
May blame, but needs not press too hard upon.
Here sit the old Judges then, but with no grace
Of reverend carriage, magisterial port:
For why? The accused of eight months since,—the same
Who cut the conscious figure of a fool,
Changed countenance, dropped bashful gaze to ground,
While hesitating for an answer then,—
Now is grown judge himself, terrifies now
This, now the other culprit called a judge,
Whose turn it is to stammer and look strange,
As he speaks rapidly, angrily, speech that smites:
And they keep silence, bear blow after blow,
Because the seeming-solitary man,
Speaking for God, may have an audience too,
Invisible, no discreet judge provokes.
How the priest Caponsacchi said his say.

Then a soul sighs its lowest and its last
After the loud ones,—so much breath remains
Unused by the four-days'-dying; for she lived
Thus long, miraculously long, 't was thought,
Just that Pompilia might defend herself.
How, while the hireling and the alien stoop,
Comfort, yet question,—since the time is brief,
And folk, allowably inquisitive,
Encircle the low pallet where she lies
In the good house that helps the poor to die,—
Pompilia tells the story of her life.
For friend and lover,—leech and man of law
Do service; busy helpful ministrants
As varied in their calling as their mind,
Temper and age: and yet from all of these,
About the white bed under the arched roof,
Is somehow, as it were, evolved a one,—
Small separate sympathies combined and large,
Nothings that were, grown something very much:
As if the bystanders gave each his straw,
All he had, though a trifle in itself,
Which, plaited all together, made a Cross
Fit to die looking on and praying with,
Just as well as if ivory or gold.
So, to the common kindliness she speaks,
There being scarce more privacy at the last
For mind than body: but she is used to bear,
And only unused to the brotherly look.
How she endeavoured to explain her life.

Then, since a Trial ensued, a touch o' the same
To sober us, flustered with frothy talk,
And teach our common sense its helplessness.
For why deal simply with divining-rod,
Scrape where we fancy secret sources flow,
And ignore law, the recognized machine,
Elaborate display of pipe and wheel
Framed to unchoke, pump up and pour apace
Truth till a flowery foam shall wash the world?
The patent truth-extracting process,—ha?
Let us make that grave mystery turn one wheel,
Give you a single grind of law at least!
One orator, of two on either side,
Shall teach us the puissance of the tongue
That is, o' the pen which simulated tongue
On paper and saved all except the sound
Which never was. Law's speech beside law's thought?
That were too stunning, too immense an odds:
That point of vantage law lets nobly pass.
One lawyer shall admit us to behold
The manner of the making out a case,
First fashion of a speech; the chick in egg,
The masterpiece law's bosom incubates.
How Don Giacinto of the Arcangeli,
Called Procurator of the Poor at Rome,
Now advocate for Guido and his mates,—
The jolly learned man of middle age,
Cheek and jowl all in laps with fat and law,
Mirthful as mighty, yet, as great hearts use,
Despite the name and fame that tempt our flesh,
Constant to that devotion of the hearth,
Still captive in those dear domestic ties!—
How he,—having a cause to triumph with,
All kind of interests to keep intact,
More than one efficacious personage
To tranquillize, conciliate and secure,
And above all, public anxiety
To quiet, show its Guido in good hands,—
Also, as if such burdens were too light,
A certain family-feast to claim his care,
The birthday-banquet for the only son—
Paternity at smiling strife with law
How he brings both to buckle in one bond;
And, thick at throat, with waterish under-eye,
Turns to his task and settles in his seat
And puts his utmost means in practice now:
Wheezes out law-phrase, whiffles Latin forth,
And, just as though roast lamb would never be,
Makes logic levigate the big crime small:
Rubs palm on palm, rakes foot with itchy foot,
Conceives and inchoates the argument,
Sprinkling each flower appropriate to the time,
—Ovidian quip or Ciceronian crank,
A-bubble in the larynx while he laughs,
As he had fritters deep down frying there.
How he turns, twists, and tries the oily thing
Shall befirst speech for Guido 'gainst the Fisc.
Then with a skip as it were from heel to head,
Leaving yourselves fill up the middle bulk
O' the Trial, reconstruct its shape august,
From such exordium clap we to the close;
Give you, if we dare wing to such a height,
The absolute glory in some full-grown speech
On the other side, some finished butterfly,
Some breathing diamond-flake with leaf-gold fans,
That takes the air, no trace of worm it was,
Or cabbage-bed it had production from.
Giovambattista o' the Bottini, Fisc,
Pompilia's patron by the chance of the hour,
To-morrow her persecutor,—composite, he,
As becomes who must meet such various calls—
Odds of age joined in him with ends of youth.
A man of ready smile and facile tear,
Improvised hopes, despairs at nod and beck,
And language—ah, the gift of eloquence!
Language that goes, goes, easy as a glove,
O'er good and evil, smoothens both to one.
Rashness helps caution with him, fires the straw,
In free enthusiastic careless fit,
On the first proper pinnacle of rock
Which offers, as reward for all that zeal,
To lure some bark to founder and bring gain:
While calm sits Caution, rapt with heavenward eye,
A true confessor's gaze, amid the glare
Beaconing to the breaker, death and hell.
"Well done, thou good and faithful" she approves:
"Hadst thou let slip a faggot to the beach,
"The crew might surely spy thy precipice
"And save their boat; the simple and the slow
"Might so, forsooth, forestall the wrecker's fee!
"Let the next crew be wise and hail in time!"
Just so compounded is the outside man,
Blue juvenile pure eye and pippin cheek,
And brow all prematurely soiled and seamed
With sudden age, bright devastated hair.
Ah, but you miss the very tones o' the voice,
The scrannel pipe that screams in heights of head,
As, in his modest studio, all alone,
The tall wight stands a-tiptoe, strives and strains,
Both eyes shut, like the cockerel that would crow,
Tries to his own self amorously o'er
What never will be uttered else than so
Since to the four walls, Forum and Mars' Hill,
Speaks out the poesy which, penned, turns prose.
Clavecinist debarred his instrument,
He yet thrums—shirking neither turn nor trill,
With desperate finger on dumb table-edge—
The sovereign rondo, shall conclude his Suite,
Charm an imaginary audience there,
From old Corelli to young Haendel, both
I' the flesh at Rome, ere he perforce go print
The cold black score, mere music for the mind
The last speech against Guido and his gang,
With special end to prove Pompilia pure.
How the Fisc vindicates Pompilia's fame.

Then comes the all but end, the ultimate
Judgment save yours. Pope Innocent the Twelfth,
Simple, sagacious, mild yet resolute,
With prudence, probity andwhat beside
From the other world he feels impress at times,
Having attained to fourscore years and six,—
How, when the court found Guido and the rest
Guilty, but law supplied a subterfuge
And passed the final sentence to the Pope,
He, bringing his intelligence to bear
This last time on what ball behoves him drop
In the urn, or white or black, does drop a black,
Send five souls more to just precede his own,
Stand him in stead and witness, if need were,
How he is wont to do God's work on earth.
The manner of his sitting out the dim
Droop of a sombre February day
In the plain closet where he does such work,
With, from all Peter's treasury, one stool,
One table and one lathen crucifix.
There sits the Pope, his thoughts for company;
Grave but not sad,—nay, something like a cheer
Leaves the lips free to be benevolent,
Which, all day long, did duty firm and fast.
A cherishing there is of foot and knee,
A chafing loose-skinned large-veined hand with hand,—
What steward but knows when stewardship earns its wage,
May levy praise, anticipate the lord?
He reads, notes, lays the papers down at last,
Muses, then takes a turn about the room;
Unclasps a huge tome in an antique guise,
Primitive print and tongue half obsolete,
That stands him in diurnal stead; opes page,
Finds place where falls the passage to be conned
According to an order long in use:
And, as he comes upon the evening's chance,
Starts somewhat, solemnizes straight his smile,
Then reads aloud that portion first to last,
And at the end lets flow his own thoughts forth
Likewise aloud, for respite and relief,
Till by the dreary relics of the west
Wan through the half-moon window, all his light,
He bows the head while the lips move in prayer,
Writes some three brief lines, signs and seals the same,
Tinkles a hand-bell, bids the obsequious Sir
Who puts foot presently o' the closet-sill
He watched outside of, bear as superscribed
That mandate to the Governor forthwith:
Then heaves abroad his cares in one good sigh,
Traverses corridor with no arm's help,
And so to sup as a clear conscience should.
The manner of the judgment of the Pope.

Then must speak Guido yet a second time,
Satan's old saw being apt here—skin for skin,
All a man hath that will he give for life.
While life was graspable and gainable,
And bird-like buzzed her wings round Guido's brow,
Not much truth stiffened out the web of words
He wove to catch her: when away she flew
And death came, death's breath rivelled up the lies,
Left bare the metal thread, the fibre fine
Of truth, i' the spinning: the true words shone last.
How Guido, to another purpose quite,
Speaks and despairs, the last night of his life,
In that New Prison by Castle Angelo
At the bridge foot: the same man, another voice.
On a stone bench in a close fetid cell,
Where the hot vapour of an agony,
Struck into drops on the cold wall, runs down
Horrible worms made out of sweat and tears
There crouch, well nigh to the knees in dungeon-straw,
Lit by the sole lamp suffered for their sake,
Two awe-struck figures, this a Cardinal,
That an Abate, both of old styled friends
O' the thing part man part monster in the midst,
So changed is Franceschini's gentle blood.
The tiger-cat screams now, that whined before,
That pried and tried and trod so gingerly,
Till in its silkiness the trap-teeth joined;
Then you know how the bristling fury foams.
They listen, this wrapped in his folds of red,
While his feet fumble for the filth below;
The other, as beseems a stouter heart,
Working his best with beads and cross to ban
The enemy that comes in like a flood
Spite of the standard set up, verily
And in no trope at all, against him there
For at the prison-gate, just a few steps
Outside, already, in the doubtful dawn,
Thither, from this side and from that, slow sweep
And settle down in silence solidly,
Crow-wise, the frightful Brotherhood of Death.
Black-hatted and black-hooded huddle they,
Black rosaries a-dangling from each waist;
So take they their grim station at the door,
Torches lit, skull-and-cross-bones-banner spread,
And that gigantic Christ with open arms,
Grounded. Nor lacks there aught but that the group
Break forth, intone the lamentable psalm,
"Out of the deeps, Lord, have I cried to thee!"—
When inside, from the true profound, a sign
Shall bear intelligence that the foe is foiled,
Count Guido Franceschini has confessed,
And is absolved and reconciled with God.
Then they, intoning, may begin their march,
Make by the longest way for the People's Square,
Carry the criminal to his crime's award:
A mob to cleave, a scaffolding to reach,
Two gallows and Mannaia crowning all.
How Guido made defence a second time.

Finally, even as thus by step and step
I led you from the level of to-day
Up to the summit of so long ago,
Here, whence I point you the wide prospect round
Let me, by like steps, slope you back to smooth,
Land you on mother-earth, no whit the worse,
To feed o' the fat o' the furrow: free to dwell,
Taste our time's better things profusely spread
For all who love the level, corn and wine,
Much cattle and the many-folded fleece.
Shall not my friends go feast again on sward,
Though cognizant of country in the clouds
Higher than wistful eagle's horny eye
Ever unclosed for, 'mid ancestral crags,
When morning broke and Spring was back once more,
And he died, heaven, save by his heart, unreached?
Yet heaven my fancy lifts to, ladder-like,—
As Jack reached, holpen of his beanstalk-rungs!

A novel country: I might make it mine
By choosing which one aspect of the year
Suited mood best, and putting solely that
On panel somewhere in the House of Fame,
Landscaping what I saved, not what I saw:
Might fix you, whether frost in goblin-time
Startled the moon with his abrupt bright laugh,
Or, August's hair afloat in filmy fire,
She fell, arms wide, face foremost on the world,
Swooned there and so singed out the strength of things.
Thus were abolished Spring and Autumn both,
The land dwarfed to one likeness of the land,
Life cramped corpse-fashion. Rather learn and love
Each facet-flash of the revolving year!—
Red, green and blue that whirl into a white,
The variance now, the eventual unity,
Which make the miracle. See it for yourselves,
This man's act, changeable because alive!
Action now shrouds, nor shows the informing thought;
Man, like a glass ball with a spark a-top,
Out of the magic fire that lurks inside,
Shows one tint at a time to take the eye:
Which, let a finger touch the silent sleep,
Shifted a hair's-breadth shoots you dark for bright,
Suffuses bright with dark, and baffles so
Your sentence absolute for shine or shade.
Once set such orbs,—white styled, black stigmatized,—
A-rolling, see them once on the other side
Your good men and your bad men every one
From Guido Franceschini to Guy Faux,
Oft would you rub your eyes and change your names

Such, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!)—whom I yet have laboured for,
Perchance more careful whoso runs may read
Than erst when all, it seemed, could read who ran,—
Perchance more careless whoso reads may praise
Than late when he who praised and read and wrote
Was apt to find himself the self-same me,—
Such labour had such issue, so I wrought
This arc, by furtherance of such alloy,
And so, by one spirt, take away its trace
Till, justifiably golden, rounds my ring.

A ring without a posy, and that ring mine?

O lyric Love, half angel and half bird
And all a wonder and a wild desire,—
Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun,
Took sanctuary within the holier blue,
And sang a kindred soul out to his face,—
Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart
When the first summons from the darkling earth
Reached thee amid thy chambers, blanched their blue,
And bared them of the glory—to drop down,
To toil for man, to suffer or to die,—
This is the same voice: can thy soul know change?
Hail then, and hearken from the realms of help!
Never may I commence my song, my due
To God who best taught song by gift of thee,
Except with bent head and beseeching hand
That still, despite the distance and the dark,
What was, again may be; some interchange
Of grace, some splendour once thy very thought,
Some benediction anciently thy smile:
Never conclude, but raising hand and head
Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn
For all hope, all sustainment, all reward,
Their utmost up and on,—so blessing back
In those thy realms of help, that heaven thy home,
Some whiteness which, I judge, thy face makes proud,
Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall!

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WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,
Earth's paramount Creature! not so much for woes
That thou endurest; heavy though that weight be,
Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine
Doth melt away; but for those palms achieved
Through length of time, by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought; there, there, it is
That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto,
In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked
Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven
As her prime teacher, intercourse with man
Established by the sovereign Intellect,
Who through that bodily image hath diffused,
As might appear to the eye of fleeting time,
A deathless spirit. Thou also, man! hast wrought,
For commerce of thy nature with herself,
Things that aspire to unconquerable life;
And yet we feel--we cannot choose but feel--
That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart
It gives, to think that our immortal being
No more shall need such garments; and yet man,
As long as he shall be the child of earth,
Might almost 'weep to have' what he may lose,
Nor be himself extinguished, but survive,
Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate.
A thought is with me sometimes, and I say,--
Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes
Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch
Her pleasant habitations, and dry up
Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare,
Yet would the living Presence still subsist
Victorious, and composure would ensue,
And kindlings like the morning--presage sure
Of day returning and of life revived.
But all the meditations of mankind,
Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
By reason built, or passion, which itself
Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind
Some element to stamp her image on
In nature somewhat nearer to her own?
Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?

One day, when from my lips a like complaint
Had fallen in presence of a studious friend,
He with a smile made answer, that in truth
'Twas going far to seek disquietude;
But on the front of his reproof confessed
That he himself had oftentimes given way
To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told,
That once in the stillness of a summer's noon,
While I was seated in a rocky cave
By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced,
The famous history of the errant knight
Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts
Beset me, and to height unusual rose,
While listlessly I sate, and, having closed
The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea.
On poetry and geometric truth,
And their high privilege of lasting life,
From all internal injury exempt,
I mused; upon these chiefly: and at length,
My senses yielding to the sultry air,
Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream.
I saw before me stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes:
A lance he bore, and underneath one arm
A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell
Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight
Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide
Was present, one who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me; and while yet
I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight
Which the new-comer carried through the waste
Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone
(To give it in the language of the dream)
Was 'Euclid's Elements,' and 'This,' said he,
'Is something of more worth;' and at the word
Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape,
In colour so resplendent, with command
That I should hold it to my ear. I did so,
And heard that instant in an unknown tongue,
Which yet I understood, articulate sounds,
A loud prophetic blast of harmony;
An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold
Destruction to the children of the earth
By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased
The song, than the Arab with calm look declared
That all would come to pass of which the voice
Had given forewarning, and that he himself
Was going then to bury those two books:
The one that held acquaintance with the stars,
And wedded soul to soul in purest bond
Of reason, undisturbed by space or time;
The other that was a god, yea many gods,
Had voices more than all the winds, with power
To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe,
Through every clime, the heart of human kind.
While this was uttering, strange as it may seem,
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.
Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt
To cleave unto this man; but when I prayed
To share his enterprise, he hurried on
Reckless of me: I followed, not unseen,
For oftentimes he cast a backward look,
Grasping his twofold treasure.--Lance in rest,
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; yet not the knight,
But was an Arab of the desert too;
Of these was neither, and was both at once.
His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed;
And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes
Saw, over half the wilderness diffused,
A bed of glittering light: I asked the cause:
'It is,' said he, 'the waters of the deep
Gathering upon us;' quickening then the pace
Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode,
He left me: I called after him aloud;
He heeded not; but, with his twofold charge
Still in his grasp, before me, full in view,
Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste,
With the fleet waters of a drowning world
In chase of him; whereat I waked in terror,
And saw the sea before me, and the book,
In which I had been reading, at my side.

Full often, taking from the world of sleep
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld,
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given
A substance, fancied him a living man,
A gentle dweller in the desert, crazed
By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes;
Have shaped him wandering upon this quest!
Nor have I pitied him; but rather felt
Reverence was due to a being thus employed;
And thought that, in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched.
Enow there are on earth to take in charge
Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves,
Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear;
Enow to stir for these; yea, will I say,
Contemplating in soberness the approach
Of an event so dire, by signs in earth
Or heaven made manifest, that I could share
That maniac's fond anxiety, and go
Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least
Me hath such strong entrancement overcome,
When I have held a volume in my hand,
Poor earthly casket of immortal verse,
Shakespeare, or Milton, labourers divine!

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power
Of living nature, which could thus so long
Detain me from the best of other guides
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised,
Even in the time of lisping infancy;
And later down, in prattling childhood even,
While I was travelling back among those days,
How could I ever play an ingrate's part?
Once more should I have made those bowers resound,
By intermingling strains of thankfulness
With their own thoughtless melodies; at least
It might have well beseemed me to repeat
Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again,
In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale
That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now.
O Friend! O Poet! brother of my soul,
Think not that I could pass along untouched
By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak?
Why call upon a few weak words to say
What is already written in the hearts
Of all that breathe?--what in the path of all
Drops daily from the tongue of every child,
Wherever man is found? The trickling tear
Upon the cheek of listening Infancy
Proclaims it, and the insuperable look
That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave
There registered: whatever else of power
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be
Peculiar to myself, let that remain
Where still it works, though hidden from all search
Among the depths of time. Yet is it just
That here, in memory of all books which lay
Their sure foundations in the heart of man,
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse,
That in the name of all inspired souls--
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice
That roars along the bed of Jewish song,
And that more varied and elaborate,
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake
Our shores in England,--from those loftiest notes
Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made
For cottagers and spinners at the wheel,
And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs,
Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes,
Food for the hungry ears of little ones,
And of old men who have survived their joys--
'Tis just that in behalf of these, the works,
And of the men that framed them, whether known
Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves,
That I should here assert their rights, attest
Their honours, and should, once for all, pronounce
Their benediction; speak of them as Powers
For ever to be hallowed; only less,
For what we are and what we may become,
Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God,
Or His pure Word by miracle revealed.

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop
To transitory themes; yet I rejoice,
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared
Safe from an evil which these days have laid
Upon the children of the land, a pest
That might have dried me up, body and soul.
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self,
And things that teach as Nature teaches: then,
Oh! where had been the Man, the Poet where,
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend!
If in the season of unperilous choice,
In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales
Rich with indigenous produce, open ground
Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will,
We had been followed, hourly watched, and noosed,
Each in his several melancholy walk
Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed,
Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude;
Or rather like a stalled ox debarred
From touch of growing grass, that may not taste
A flower till it have yielded up its sweets
A prelibation to the mower's scythe.

Behold the parent hen amid her brood,
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part
And straggle from her presence, still a brood,
And she herself from the maternal bond
Still undischarged; yet doth she little more
Than move with them in tenderness and love,
A centre to the circle which they make;
And now and then, alike from need of theirs
And call of her own natural appetites,
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food,
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died
My honoured Mother, she who was the heart
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves:
She left us destitute, and, as we might,
Trooping together. Little suits it me
To break upon the sabbath of her rest
With any thought that looks at others' blame;
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love.
Hence am I checked: but let me boldly say,
In gratitude, and for the sake of truth,
Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught,
Fetching her goodness rather from times past,
Than shaping novelties for times to come,
Had no presumption, no such jealousy,
Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust
Our nature, but had virtual faith that He
Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk,
Doth also for our nobler part provide,
Under His great correction and control,
As innocent instincts, and as innocent food;
Or draws, for minds that are left free to trust
In the simplicities of opening life,
Sweet honey out of spurned or dreaded weeds.
This was her creed, and therefore she was pure
From anxious fear of error or mishap,
And evil, overweeningly so called;
Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes,
Nor selfish with unnecessary cares,
Nor with impatience from the season asked
More than its timely produce; rather loved
The hours for what they are, than from regard
Glanced on their promises in restless pride.
Such was she--not from faculties more strong
Than others have, but from the times, perhaps,
And spot in which she lived, and through a grace
Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness,
A heart that found benignity and hope,
Being itself benign.
My drift I fear
Is scarcely obvious; but, that common sense
May try this modern system by its fruits,
Leave let me take to place before her sight
A specimen pourtrayed with faithful hand.
Full early trained to worship seemliness,
This model of a child is never known
To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath
Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er
As generous as a fountain; selfishness
May not come near him, nor the little throng
Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path;
The wandering beggars propagate his name,
Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun,
And natural or supernatural fear,
Unless it leap upon him in a dream,
Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see
How arch his notices, how nice his sense
Of the ridiculous; not blind is he
To the broad follies of the licensed world,
Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd,
And can read lectures upon innocence;
A miracle of scientific lore,
Ships he can guide across the pathless sea,
And tell you all their cunning; he can read
The inside of the earth, and spell the stars;
He knows the policies of foreign lands;
Can string you names of districts, cities, towns,
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew
Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs;
All things are put to question; he must live
Knowing that he grows wiser every day
Or else not live at all, and seeing too
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:
For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.--Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch
To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray,
Within the pinfold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him; and they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and baffled his best skill,
Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind,
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school,
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings, I believe that there
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies!
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed)
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,--forgetful, too,
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, play
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded!--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters--but be that forgiven)--
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;
Not unresentful where self-justified;
Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy;
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth.
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,
Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!
And knowledge, rightly honoured with that name--
Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power!

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week,
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched,
But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast,
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore,
While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,
Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance.
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

A precious treasure had I long possessed,
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry--
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly,
With one not richer than myself, I made
A covenant that each should lay aside
The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more,
Till our joint savings had amassed enough
To make this book our own. Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house
The holidays returned me, there to find
That golden store of books which I had left,
What joy was mine! How often in the course
Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish,
For a whole day together, have I lain
Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream,
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun,
And there have read, devouring as I read,
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate!
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach,
Such as an idler deals with in his shame,
I to the sport betook myself again.

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides,
And o'er the heart of man; invisibly
It comes, to works of unreproved delight,
And tendency benign, directing those
Who care not, know not, think not, what they do.
The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances; legends penned
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps;
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised
By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun
By the dismantled warrior in old age,
Out of the bowels of those very schemes
In which his youth did first extravagate;
These spread like day, and something in the shape
Of these will live till man shall be no more.
Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours,
And 'they must' have their food. Our childhood sits,
Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past,
Nor what it augurs of the life to come;
But so it is; and, in that dubious hour--
That twilight--when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And, in the long probation that ensues,
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down--oh! then we feel, we feel,
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then,
Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape
Philosophy will call you: 'then' we feel
With what, and how great might ye are in league,
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,
An empire, a possession,--ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.
I am sad
At thought of rapture now for ever flown;
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own 'sakes', a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad
With a dear friend, and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake,
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds
That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought,
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,--nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned,
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add,
From heart-experience, and in humblest sense
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth
A daily wanderer among woods and fields
With living Nature hath been intimate,
Not only in that raw unpractised time
Is stirred to ecstasy, as others are,
By glittering verse; but further, doth receive,
In measure only dealt out to himself,
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature that exists in works
Of mighty Poets. Visionary power
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words:
There, darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,--there,
As in a mansion like their proper home,
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognised,
In flashes, and with glory not their own.

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The Prelude. (book V )

WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,
Earth's paramount Creature! not so much for woes
That thou endurest; heavy though that weight be,
Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine
Doth melt away; but for those palms achieved
Through length of time, by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought; there, there, it is
That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto,
In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked
Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven
As her prime teacher, intercourse with man
Established by the sovereign Intellect,
Who through that bodily image hath diffused,
As might appear to the eye of fleeting time,
A deathless spirit. Thou also, man! hast wrought,
For commerce of thy nature with herself,
Things that aspire to unconquerable life;
And yet we feel--we cannot choose but feel--
That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart
It gives, to think that our immortal being
No more shall need such garments; and yet man,
As long as he shall be the child of earth,
Might almost "weep to have" what he may lose,
Nor be himself extinguished, but survive,
Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate.
A thought is with me sometimes, and I say,--
Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes
Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch
Her pleasant habitations, and dry up
Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare,
Yet would the living Presence still subsist
Victorious, and composure would ensue,
And kindlings like the morning--presage sure
Of day returning and of life revived.
But all the meditations of mankind,
Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
By reason built, or passion, which itself
Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind
Some element to stamp her image on
In nature somewhat nearer to her own?
Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?

One day, when from my lips a like complaint
Had fallen in presence of a studious friend,
He with a smile made answer, that in truth
'Twas going far to seek disquietude;
But on the front of his reproof confessed
That he himself had oftentimes given way
To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told,
That once in the stillness of a summer's noon,
While I was seated in a rocky cave
By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced,
The famous history of the errant knight
Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts
Beset me, and to height unusual rose,
While listlessly I sate, and, having closed
The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea.
On poetry and geometric truth,
And their high privilege of lasting life,
From all internal injury exempt,
I mused; upon these chiefly: and at length,
My senses yielding to the sultry air,
Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream.
I saw before me stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes:
A lance he bore, and underneath one arm
A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell
Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight
Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide
Was present, one who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me; and while yet
I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight
Which the new-comer carried through the waste
Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone
(To give it in the language of the dream)
Was "Euclid's Elements," and "This," said he,
"Is something of more worth;" and at the word
Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape,
In colour so resplendent, with command
That I should hold it to my ear. I did so,
And heard that instant in an unknown tongue,
Which yet I understood, articulate sounds,
A loud prophetic blast of harmony;
An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold
Destruction to the children of the earth
By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased
The song, than the Arab with calm look declared
That all would come to pass of which the voice 0
Had given forewarning, and that he himself
Was going then to bury those two books:
The one that held acquaintance with the stars,
And wedded soul to soul in purest bond
Of reason, undisturbed by space or time;
The other that was a god, yea many gods,
Had voices more than all the winds, with power
To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe,
Through every clime, the heart of human kind.
While this was uttering, strange as it may seem,
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.
Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt
To cleave unto this man; but when I prayed
To share his enterprise, he hurried on
Reckless of me: I followed, not unseen,
For oftentimes he cast a backward look,
Grasping his twofold treasure.--Lance in rest,
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; yet not the knight,
But was an Arab of the desert too;
Of these was neither, and was both at once.
His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed;
And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes
Saw, over half the wilderness diffused,
A bed of glittering light: I asked the cause:
"It is," said he, "the waters of the deep
Gathering upon us;" quickening then the pace
Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode,
He left me: I called after him aloud;
He heeded not; but, with his twofold charge
Still in his grasp, before me, full in view,
Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste,
With the fleet waters of a drowning world
In chase of him; whereat I waked in terror,
And saw the sea before me, and the book,
In which I had been reading, at my side.

Full often, taking from the world of sleep
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld,
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given
A substance, fancied him a living man,
A gentle dweller in the desert, crazed
By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes;
Have shaped him wandering upon this quest!
Nor have I pitied him; but rather felt
Reverence was due to a being thus employed;
And thought that, in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched.
Enow there are on earth to take in charge
Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves,
Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear;
Enow to stir for these; yea, will I say,
Contemplating in soberness the approach
Of an event so dire, by signs in earth
Or heaven made manifest, that I could share
That maniac's fond anxiety, and go
Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least
Me hath such strong entrancement overcome,
When I have held a volume in my hand,
Poor earthly casket of immortal verse,
Shakespeare, or Milton, labourers divine!

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power
Of living nature, which could thus so long
Detain me from the best of other guides
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised,
Even in the time of lisping infancy;
And later down, in prattling childhood even,
While I was travelling back among those days,
How could I ever play an ingrate's part?
Once more should I have made those bowers resound,
By intermingling strains of thankfulness
With their own thoughtless melodies; at least
It might have well beseemed me to repeat
Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again,
In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale
That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now.
O Friend! O Poet! brother of my soul,
Think not that I could pass along untouched
By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak?
Why call upon a few weak words to say
What is already written in the hearts
Of all that breathe?--what in the path of all
Drops daily from the tongue of every child,
Wherever man is found? The trickling tear
Upon the cheek of listening Infancy
Proclaims it, and the insuperable look
That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave
There registered: whatever else of power
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be
Peculiar to myself, let that remain
Where still it works, though hidden from all search
Among the depths of time. Yet is it just
That here, in memory of all books which lay
Their sure foundations in the heart of man,
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse, 0
That in the name of all inspired souls--
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice
That roars along the bed of Jewish song,
And that more varied and elaborate,
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake
Our shores in England,--from those loftiest notes
Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made
For cottagers and spinners at the wheel,
And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs,
Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes,
Food for the hungry ears of little ones,
And of old men who have survived their joys--
'Tis just that in behalf of these, the works,
And of the men that framed them, whether known
Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves,
That I should here assert their rights, attest
Their honours, and should, once for all, pronounce
Their benediction; speak of them as Powers
For ever to be hallowed; only less,
For what we are and what we may become,
Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God,
Or His pure Word by miracle revealed.

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop
To transitory themes; yet I rejoice,
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared
Safe from an evil which these days have laid
Upon the children of the land, a pest
That might have dried me up, body and soul.
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self,
And things that teach as Nature teaches: then,
Oh! where had been the Man, the Poet where,
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend!
If in the season of unperilous choice,
In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales
Rich with indigenous produce, open ground
Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will,
We had been followed, hourly watched, and noosed,
Each in his several melancholy walk
Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed,
Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude;
Or rather like a stalled ox debarred
From touch of growing grass, that may not taste
A flower till it have yielded up its sweets
A prelibation to the mower's scythe.

Behold the parent hen amid her brood,
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part
And straggle from her presence, still a brood,
And she herself from the maternal bond
Still undischarged; yet doth she little more
Than move with them in tenderness and love,
A centre to the circle which they make;
And now and then, alike from need of theirs
And call of her own natural appetites,
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food,
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died
My honoured Mother, she who was the heart
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves:
She left us destitute, and, as we might,
Trooping together. Little suits it me
To break upon the sabbath of her rest
With any thought that looks at others' blame;
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love.
Hence am I checked: but let me boldly say,
In gratitude, and for the sake of truth,
Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught,
Fetching her goodness rather from times past,
Than shaping novelties for times to come,
Had no presumption, no such jealousy,
Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust
Our nature, but had virtual faith that He
Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk,
Doth also for our nobler part provide,
Under His great correction and control,
As innocent instincts, and as innocent food;
Or draws, for minds that are left free to trust
In the simplicities of opening life,
Sweet honey out of spurned or dreaded weeds.
This was her creed, and therefore she was pure
From anxious fear of error or mishap,
And evil, overweeningly so called;
Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes,
Nor selfish with unnecessary cares,
Nor with impatience from the season asked
More than its timely produce; rather loved
The hours for what they are, than from regard
Glanced on their promises in restless pride.
Such was she--not from faculties more strong
Than others have, but from the times, perhaps,
And spot in which she lived, and through a grace
Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness,
A heart that found benignity and hope,
Being itself benign.
My drift I fear
Is scarcely obvious; but, that common sense
May try this modern system by its fruits,
Leave let me take to place before her sight
A specimen pourtrayed with faithful hand.
Full early trained to worship seemliness,
This model of a child is never known
To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath 0
Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er
As generous as a fountain; selfishness
May not come near him, nor the little throng
Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path;
The wandering beggars propagate his name,
Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun,
And natural or supernatural fear,
Unless it leap upon him in a dream,
Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see
How arch his notices, how nice his sense
Of the ridiculous; not blind is he
To the broad follies of the licensed world,
Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd,
And can read lectures upon innocence;
A miracle of scientific lore,
Ships he can guide across the pathless sea,
And tell you all their cunning; he can read
The inside of the earth, and spell the stars;
He knows the policies of foreign lands;
Can string you names of districts, cities, towns,
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew
Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs;
All things are put to question; he must live
Knowing that he grows wiser every day
Or else not live at all, and seeing too
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:
For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.--Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch
To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray,
Within the pinfold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him; and they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and baffled his best skill,
Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind,
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school,
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings, I believe that there
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies!
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed) 0
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,--forgetful, too,
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, play
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded!--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters--but be that forgiven)--
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;
Not unresentful where self-justified;
Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy;
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth.
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,
Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!
And knowledge, rightly honoured with that name--
Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power!

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week,
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched,
But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast,
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore,
While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,
Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance.
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

A precious treasure had I long possessed,
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry--
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly,
With one not richer than myself, I made
A covenant that each should lay aside
The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more,
Till our joint savings had amassed enough
To make this book our own. Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house
The holidays returned me, there to find
That golden store of books which I had left,
What joy was mine! How often in the course
Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish,
For a whole day together, have I lain
Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream,
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun,
And there have read, devouring as I read,
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate!
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach,
Such as an idler deals with in his shame,
I to the sport betook myself again.

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides,
And o'er the heart of man; invisibly
It comes, to works of unreproved delight,
And tendency benign, directing those
Who care not, know not, think not, what they do.
The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances; legends penned
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps;
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised
By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun 0
By the dismantled warrior in old age,
Out of the bowels of those very schemes
In which his youth did first extravagate;
These spread like day, and something in the shape
Of these will live till man shall be no more.
Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours,
And 'they must' have their food. Our childhood sits,
Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past,
Nor what it augurs of the life to come;
But so it is; and, in that dubious hour--
That twilight--when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And, in the long probation that ensues,
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down--oh! then we feel, we feel,
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then,
Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape
Philosophy will call you: 'then' we feel
With what, and how great might ye are in league,
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,
An empire, a possession,--ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.
I am sad
At thought of rapture now for ever flown;
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own 'sakes', a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad
With a dear friend, and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake,
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds
That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought,
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,--nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned,
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add,
From heart-experience, and in humblest sense
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth
A daily wanderer among woods and fields
With living Nature hath been intimate,
Not only in that raw unpractised time
Is stirred to ecstasy, as others are,
By glittering verse; but further, doth receive,
In measure only dealt out to himself,
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature that exists in works
Of mighty Poets. Visionary power
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words:
There, darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,--there,
As in a mansion like their proper home, 0
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognised,
In flashes, and with glory not their own.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Golden Legend: III. A Street In Strasburg

Night.
PRINCE HENRY _wandering alone, wrapped in a cloak._

_Prince Henry._ Still is the night. The sound of feet
Has died away from the empty street,
And like an artisan, bending down
His head on his anvil, the dark town
Sleeps, with a slumber deep and sweet.
Sleepless and restless, I alone,
In the dusk and damp of these wails of stone,
Wander and weep in my remorse!

_Crier of the dead (ringing a bell)._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Hark! with what accents loud and hoarse
This warder on the walls of death
Sends forth the challenge of his breath!
I see the dead that sleep in the grave!
They rise up and their garments wave,
Dimly and spectral, as they rise,
With the light of another world in their eyes!

_Crier of the dead._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Why for the dead, who are at rest?
Pray for the living, in whose breast
The struggle between right and wrong
Is raging terrible and strong,
As when good angels war with devils!
This is the Master of the Revels,
Who, at Life's flowing feast, proposes
The health of absent friends, and pledges,
Not in bright goblets crowned with roses,
And tinkling as we touch their edges,
But with his dismal, tinkling bell,
That mocks and mimics their funeral knell!

_Crier of the dead._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Wake not, beloved! be thy sleep
Silent as night is, and as deep!
There walks a sentinel at thy gate
Whose heart is heavy and desolate,
And the heavings of whose bosom number
The respirations of thy slumber,
As if some strange, mysterious fate
Had linked two hearts in one, and mine
Went madly wheeling about thine,
Only with wider and wilder sweep!

_Crier of the dead (at a distance)._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Lo! with what depth of blackness thrown
Against the clouds, far up the skies,
The walls of the cathedral rise,
Like a mysterious grove of stone,
With fitful lights and shadows bleeding,
As from behind, the moon, ascending,
Lights its dim aisles and paths unknown!
The wind is rising; but the boughs
Rise not and fall not with the wind
That through their foliage sobs and soughs;
Only the cloudy rack behind,
Drifting onward, wild and ragged,
Gives to each spire and buttress jagged
A seeming motion undefined.
Below on the square, an armed knight,
Still as a statue and as white,
Sits on his steed, and the moonbeams quiver
Upon the points of his armor bright
As on the ripples of a river.
He lifts the visor from his cheek,
And beckons, and makes as he would speak.

_Walter the Minnesinger_ Friend! can you tell me where alight
Thuringia's horsemen for the night?
For I have lingered in the rear,
And wander vainly up and down.

_Prince Henry_ I am a stranger in the town,
As thou art, but the voice I hear
Is not a stranger to mine ear.
Thou art Walter of the Vogelweid!

_Walter_ Thou hast guessed rightly; and thy name
Is Henry of Hoheneck!

_Prince Henry_ Ay, the same.

_Walter_ (_embracing him_). Come closer, closer to my side!
What brings thee hither? What potent charm
Has drawn thee from thy German farm
Into the old Alsatian city?

_Prince Henry_. A tale of wonder and of pity!
A wretched man, almost by stealth
Dragging my body to Salern,
In the vain hope and search for health,
And destined never to return.
Already thou hast heard the rest
But what brings thee, thus armed and dight
In the equipments of a knight?

_Walter_. Dost thou not see upon my breast
The cross of the Crusaders shine?
My pathway leads to Palestine.

_Prince Henry_. Ah, would that way were also mine!
O noble poet! thou whose heart
Is like a nest of singing birds
Rocked on the topmost bough of life,
Wilt thou, too, from our sky depart,
And in the clangor of the strife
Mingle the music of thy words?

_Walter_. My hopes are high, my heart is proud,
And like a trumpet long and loud,
Thither my thoughts all clang and ring!
My life is in my hand, and lo!
I grasp and bend it as a bow,
And shoot forth from its trembling string
An arrow, that shall be, perchance,
Like the arrow of the Israelite king
Shot from the window toward the east,
That of the Lord's deliverance!

_Prince Henry_. My life, alas! is what thou seest!
O enviable fate! to be
Strong, beautiful, and armed like thee
With lyre and sword, with song and steel;
A hand to smite, a heart to feel!
Thy heart, thy hand, thy lyre, thy sword,
Thou givest all unto thy Lord,
While I, so mean and abject grown,
Am thinking of myself alone.

_Walter_. Be patient: Time will reinstate
Thy health and fortunes.

_Prince Henry_. 'T is too late!
I cannot strive against my fate!

_Walter_. Come with me; for my steed is weary;
Our journey has been long and dreary,
And, dreaming of his stall, he dints
With his impatient hoofs the flints.

_Prince Henry_ (_aside_). I am ashamed, in my disgrace,
To look into that noble face!
To-morrow, Walter, let it be.

_Walter_. To-morrow, at the dawn of day,
I shall again be on my way
Come with me to the hostelry,
For I have many things to say.
Our journey into Italy
Perchance together we may make;
Wilt thou not do it for my sake?

_Prince Henry_. A sick man's pace would but impede
Thine eager and impatient speed.
Besides, my pathway leads me round
To Hirsehau, in the forest's bound,
Where I assemble man and steed,
And all things for my journey's need.

(They go out. LUCIFER, flying over the city.)

Sleep, sleep, O city! till the light
Wakes you to sin and crime again,
Whilst on your dreams, like dismal rain,
I scatter downward through the night
My maledictions dark and deep.
I have more martyrs in your walls
Than God has; and they cannot sleep;
They are my bondsmen and my thralls;
Their wretched lives are full of pain,
Wild agonies of nerve and brain;
And every heart-beat, every breath,
Is a convulsion worse than death!
Sleep, sleep, O city! though within
The circuit of your walls there lies
No habitation free from sin,
And all its nameless miseries;
The aching heart, the aching head,
Grief for the living and the dead,
And foul corruption of the time,
Disease, distress, and want, and woe,
And crimes, and passions that may grow
Until they ripen into, crime!


SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE CATHEDRAL.

* * * * *

_Easter Sunday_. FRIAR CUTHBERT _preaching to the
crowd from a pulpit in the open air_. PRINCE
HENRY _and_ ELSIE _crossing the square_.

_Prince Henry_. This is the day, when from the dead
Our Lord arose; and everywhere,
Out of their darkness and despair,
Triumphant over fears and foes,
The hearts of his disciples rose,
When to the women, standing near,
The Angel in shining vesture said,
'The Lord is risen; he is not here!'
And, mindful that the day is come,
On all the hearths in Christendom
The fires are quenched, to be again
Rekindled from the sun, that high
Is dancing in the cloudless sky.
The churches are all decked with flowers.
The salutations among men
Are but the Angel's words divine,
'Christ is arisen!' and the bells
Catch the glad murmur, as it swells,
And chaunt together in their towers.
All hearts are glad; and free from care
The faces of the people shine.
See what a crowd is in the square,
Gaily and gallantly arrayed!

_Elsie_. Let us go back; I am afraid!

_Prince Henry_. Nay, let us mount the church-steps here,
Under the doorway's sacred shadow;
We can see all things, and be freer
From the crowd that madly heaves and presses!

_Elsie._ What a gay pageant! what bright dresses!
It looks like a flower besprinkled meadow.
What is that yonder on the square?

_Prince Henry_ A pulpit in the open air,
And a Friar, who is preaching to the crowd
With a voice so deep and clear and loud,
That, if we listen, and give heed,
His lowest words will reach the ear.

_Friar Cuthbert (gesticulating and cracking a postilion's
whip)_ What ho! good people! do you not hear?
Dashing along at the top of his speed,
Booted and spurred, on his jaded steed,
A courier comes with words of cheer.
Courier! what is the news, I pray?
'Christ is arisen!' Whence come you? 'From court.'
Then I do not believe it; you say it in sport.

(_Cracks his whip again._)

There comes another, riding this way;
We soon shall know what he has to say.
Courier! what are the tidings to-day?
'Christ is arisen!' Whence come you? 'From town.'
Then I do not believe it; away with you, clown.

(_Cracks his whip more violently._)

And here comes a third, who is spurring amain;
What news do you bring, with your loose-hanging rein,
Your spurs wet with blood, and your bridle with foam?
'Christ is arisen!' Whence come you? 'From Rome.'
Ah, now I believe. He is risen, indeed.
Ride on with the news, at the top of your speed!

(_Great applause among the crowd._)

To come back to my text! When the news was first spread
That Christ was arisen indeed from the dead,
Very great was the joy of the angels in heaven;
And as great the dispute as to who should carry
The tidings, thereof to the Virgin Mary,
Pierced to the heart with sorrows seven.
Old Father Adam was first to propose,
As being the author of all our woes;
But he was refused, for fear, said they,
He would stop to eat apples on the way!
Abel came next, but petitioned in vain,
Because he might meet with his brother Cain!
Noah, too, was refused, lest his weakness for wine
Should delay him at every tavern sign;
And John the Baptist could not get a vote,
On account of his old fashioned, camel's-hair coat;
And the Penitent Thief, who died on the cross,
Was reminded that all his bones were broken!
Till at last, when each in turn had spoken,
The company being still at a loss,
The Angel, who had rolled away the stone,
Was sent to the sepulchre, all alone,
And filled with glory that gloomy prison,
And said to the Virgin, 'The Lord is arisen!'

(_The Cathedral bells ring_.)

But hark! the bells are beginning to chime;
And I feel that I am growing hoarse.
I will put an end to my discourse,
And leave the rest for some other time.
For the bells themselves are the best of preachers;
Their brazen lips are learned teachers,
From their pulpits of stone, in the upper air,
Sounding aloft, without crack or flaw,
Shriller than trumpets under the Law,
Now a sermon and now a prayer.
The clangorous hammer is the tongue,
This way, that way, beaten and swung,
That from mouth of brass, as from Mouth of Gold,
May be taught the Testaments, New and Old.
And above it the great crossbeam of wood
Representeth the Holy Rood,
Upon which, like the bell, our hopes are hung.
And the wheel wherewith it is swayed and rung
Is the mind of man, that round and round
Sways, and maketh the tongue to sound!
And the rope, with its twisted cordage three,
Denoteth the Scriptural Trinity
Of Morals, and Symbols, and History;
And the upward and downward motions show
That we touch upon matters high and low;
And the constant change and transmutation
Of action and of contemplation,
Downward, the Scripture brought from on high,
Upward, exalted again to the sky;
Downward, the literal interpretation,
Upward, the Vision and Mystery!

And now, my hearers, to make an end,
I have only one word more to say;
In the church, in honor of Easter day,
Will be represented a Miracle Play;
And I hope you will all have the grace to attend.
Christ bring us at last So his felicity!
Pax vobiscum! et Benedicite!


IN THE CATHEDRAL.

* * * * *

CHAUNT.
Kyrie Eleison!
Christe Eleison!

_Elsie._ I am at home here in my Father's house!
These paintings of the Saints upon the walls
Have all familiar and benignant faces.

_Prince Henry._ The portraits of the family of God!
Thine own hereafter shall be placed among them.

_Elsie._ How very grand it is and wonderful!
Never have I beheld a church so splendid!
Such columns, and such arches, and such windows,
So many tombs and statues in the chapels,
And under them so many confessionals.
They must be for the rich. I should not like
To tell my sins in such a church as this.
Who built it?

_Prince Henry._ A great master of his craft,
Erwin von Steinbach; but not he alone,
For many generations labored with him.
Children that came to see these Saints in stone,
As day by day out of the blocks they rose,
Grew old and died, and still the work went on,
And on, and on, and is not yet completed.
The generation that succeeds our own
Perhaps may finish it. The architect
Built his great heart into these sculptured stones,
And with him toiled his children, and their lives
Were builded, with his own, into the walls,
As offerings unto God. You see that statue
Fixing its joyous, but deep-wrinkled eyes
Upon the Pillar of the Angels yonder.
That is the image of the master, carved
By the fair hand of his own child, Sabina.

_Elsie._ How beautiful is the column that he looks at!

_Prince Henry._ That, too, she sculptured. At the base of it
Stand the Evangelists; above their heads
Four Angels blowing upon marble trumpets,
And over them the blessed Christ, surrounded
By his attendant ministers, upholding
The instruments of his passion.

_Elsie._ O my Lord!
Would I could leave behind me upon earth
Some monument to thy glory, such as this!

_Prince Henry._ A greater monument than this thou leavest
In thine own life, all purity and love!
See, too, the Rose, above the western portal
Flamboyant with a thousand gorgeous colors,
The perfect flower of Gothic loveliness!

_Elsie._ And, in the gallery, the long line of statues,
Christ with his twelve Apostles watching us.

(A BISHOP in armor, booted and spurred, passes with
his train.)

_Prince Henry._ But come away; we have not time to look.
The crowd already fills the church, and yonder
Upon a stage, a herald with a trumpet,
Clad like The Angel Gabriel, proclaims
The Mystery that will now be represented.


THE NATIVITY.

* * * * *

A MIRACLE PLAY.

* * * * *

THE NATIVITY.

INTROITUS.

_Praeco._ Come, good people, all and each,
Come and listen to our speech!
In your presence here I stand,
With a trumpet in my hand,
To announce the Easter Play,
Which we represent to-day!
First of all we shall rehearse,
In our action and our verse,
The Nativity of our Lord,
As written in the old record
Of the Protevangelion,
So that he who reads may run!

(_Blows his trumpet._)

* * * * *

I. HEAVEN.

_Mercy_ (_at the feet of God_). Have pity, Lord be not afraid
To save mankind, whom thou hast made,
Nor let the souls that were betrayed
Perish eternally!

_Justice._ It cannot be, it must not be!
When in the garden placed by thee,
The fruit of the forbidden tree
He ate, and he must die!

_Mercy._ Have pity, Lord! let penitence
Atone for disobedience,
Nor let the fruit of man's offence
Be endless misery!

_Justice._ What penitence proportionate
Can e'er be felt for sin so great?
Of the forbidden fruit he ate,
And damned must he be!

_God._ He shall be saved, if that within
The bounds of earth one free from sin
Be found, who for his kith and kin
Will suffer martyrdom.

_The Four Virtues._ Lord! we have searched the world around,
From centre to the utmost bound,
But no such mortal can be found;
Despairing, back we come.

_Wisdom._ No mortal, but a God made man,
Can ever carry out this plan,
Achieving what none other can,
Salvation unto all!

_God._ Go, then, O my beloved Son;
It can by thee alone be done;
By thee the victory shall be won
O'er Satan and the Fall!

(Here the ANGEL GABRIEL shall leave Paradise and
fly toward the earth; the jaws of Hell open below,
and the Devils walk about, making a great noise.)

* * * * *

II. MARY AT THE WELL.

_Mary._ Along the garden walk, and thence
Through the wicket in the garden fence,
I steal with quiet pace,
My pitcher at the well to fill,
That lies so deep and cool and still
In this sequestered place.
These sycamores keep guard around;
I see no face, I hear no sound,
Save babblings of the spring,
And my companions, who within
The threads of gold and scarlet spin,
And at their labor sing.

_The Angel Gabriel._ Hail, Virgin Mary, full of grace!

(Here MARY looketh around her, trembling, and then saith:_)

_Mary._ Who is it speaketh in this place,
With such a gentle voice?

_Gabriel._ The Lord of heaven is with thee now!
Blessed among all women thou,
Who art his holy choice!

_Mary_ (setting down the pitcher). What can this mean?
No one is near,
And yet, such sacred words I hear,
I almost fear to stay.

(Here the ANGEL, appearing to her, shall say:_)

_Gabriel._ Fear not, O Mary! but believe!
For thou, a Virgin, shalt conceive
A child this very day.

Fear not, O Mary! from the sky
The majesty of the Most High
Shall overshadow thee!

_Mary._ Behold the handmaid of the Lord!
According to thy holy word,
So be it unto me!

(Here the Devils shall again make a great noise, under the stage.)


III. THE ANGELS OF THE SEVEN PLANETS, bearing the Star of Bethlehem.

_The Angels._ The Angels of the Planets Seven
Across the shining fields of heaven
The natal star we bring!
Dropping our sevenfold virtues down,
As priceless jewels in the crown
Of Christ, our new-born King.

_Raphael._ I am the Angel of the Sun,
Whose flaming wheels began to run
When God's almighty breath
Said to the darkness and the Night,
Let there be light! and there was light!
I bring the gift of Faith.

_Gabriel._ I am the Angel of the Moon,
Darkened, to be rekindled soon
Beneath the azure cope!
Nearest to earth, it is my ray
That best illumes the midnight way.
I bring the gift of Hope!

_Anael._ The Angel of the Star of Love,
The Evening Star, that shines above
The place where lovers be,
Above all happy hearths and homes,
On roofs of thatch, or golden domes,
I give him Charity!

_Zobiachel._ The Planet Jupiter is mine!
The mightiest star of all that shine,
Except the sun alone!
He is the High Priest of the Dove,
And sends, from his great throne above,
Justice, that shall atone!

_Michael._ The Planet Mercury, whose place
Is nearest to the sun in space,
Is my allotted sphere!
And with celestial ardor swift
I bear upon my hands the gift
Of heavenly Prudence here!

_Uriel._ I am the Minister of Mars,
The strongest star among the stars!
My songs of power prelude
The march and battle of man's life,
And for the suffering and the strife,
I give him Fortitude!

_Anachiel._ The Angel of the uttermost
Of all the shining, heavenly host,
From the far-off expanse
Of the Saturnian, endless space
I bring the last, the crowning grace,
The gift of Temperance!

(A sudden light shines from the windows of the stable in the village below.)


IV. THE WISE MEN OF THE EAST.

The stable of the Inn. The VIRGIN and CHILD. Three Gypsy Kings, GASPAR, MELCHIOR, and BELSHAZZAR, shall come in.

_Gaspar._ Hail to thee, Jesus of Nazareth!
Though in a manger thou drawest thy breath,
Thou art greater than Life and Death,
Greater than Joy or Woe!
This cross upon the line of life
Portendeth struggle, toil, and strife,
And through a region with dangers rife
In darkness shall thou go!

_Melchior._ Hail to thee, King of Jerusalem
Though humbly born in Bethlehem,
A sceptre and a diadem
Await thy brow and hand!
The sceptre is a simple reed,
The crown will make thy temples bleed,
And in thy hour of greatest need,
Abashed thy subjects stand!

_Belshazzar_. Hail to thee, Christ of Christendom!
O'er all the earth thy kingdom come!
From distant Trebizond to Rome
Thy name shall men adore!
Peace and good-will among all men,
The Virgin has returned again,
Returned the old Saturnian reign
And Golden Age once more.

_The Child Christ_. Jesus, the Son of God, am I,
Born here to suffer and to die
According to the prophecy,
That other men may live!

_The Virgin_. And now these clothes, that wrapped him, take
And keep them precious, for his sake;
For benediction thus we make,
Naught else have we to give.

(She gives them swaddling-clothes and they depart.)

V. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.

_Here shall_ JOSEPH _come in, leading an ass, on which
are seated_ MARY _and the_ CHILD.

_Mary_. Here will we rest us, under these
Underhanging branches of the trees,
Where robins chant their Litanies,
And canticles of joy.

_Joseph_. My saddle-girths have given way
With trudging through the heat to-day
To you I think it is but play
To ride and hold the boy.

_Mary_. Hark! how the robins shout and sing,
As if to hail their infant King!
I will alight at yonder spring
To wash his little coat.

_Joseph_. And I will hobble well the ass,
Lest, being loose upon the grass,
He should escape; for, by the mass.
He is nimble as a goat.

(Here MARY shall alight and go to the spring.)

_Mary_. O Joseph! I am much afraid,
For men are sleeping in the shade;
I fear that we shall be waylaid,
And robbed and beaten sore!

(Here a band of robbers shall be seen sleeping, two of whom shall rise and come forward.)

_Dumachus_. Cock's soul! deliver up your gold!

_Joseph_. I pray you, Sirs, let go your hold!
Of wealth I have no store.

_Dumachus_. Give up your money!

_Titus_. Prithee cease!
Let these good people go in peace!

_Dumachus_. First let them pay for their release,
And then go on their way.

_Titus_. These forty groats I give in fee,
If thou wilt only silent be.

_Mary_. May God be merciful to thee
Upon the Judgment Day!

_Jesus_. When thirty years shall have gone by,
I at Jerusalem shall die,
By Jewish hands exalted high
On the accursed tree.
Then on my right and my left side,
These thieves shall both be crucified
And Titus thenceforth shall abide
In paradise with me.

(Here a great rumor of trumpets and horses, like the noise of a king with his army, and the robbers shall take flight.)

VI. THE SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS.

_King Herod._ Potz-tausend! Himmel-sacrament!
Filled am I with great wonderment
At this unwelcome news!
Am I not Herod? Who shall dare
My crown to take, my sceptre bear,
As king among the Jews?

(Here he shall stride up and down and flourish his sword.)

What ho! I fain would drink a can
Of the strong wine of Canaan!
The wine of Helbon bring,
I purchased at the Fair of Tyre,
As red as blood, as hot as fire,
And fit for any king!

(He quaffs great goblets of wine.)

Now at the window will I stand,
While in the street the armed band
The little children slay:
The babe just born in Bethlehem
Will surely slaughtered be with them,
Nor live another day!

(Here a voice of lamentation shall be heard in the street.)

_Rachel._ O wicked king! O cruel speed!
To do this most unrighteous deed!
My children all are slain!

_Herod._ Ho seneschal! another cup!
With wine of Sorek fill it up!
I would a bumper drain!

_Rahab._ May maledictions fall and blast
Thyself and lineage, to the last
Of all thy kith and kin!

_Herod._ Another goblet! quick! and stir
Pomegranate juice and drops of myrrh
And calamus therein!

_Soldiers (in the street)_. Give up thy child into our hands!
It is King Herod who commands
That he should thus be slain!

_The Nurse Medusa._ O monstrous men! What have ye done!
It is King Herod's only son
That ye have cleft in twain!

_Herod._ Ah, luckless day! What words of fear
Are these that smite upon my ear
With such a doleful sound!
What torments rack my heart and head!
Would I were dead! would I were dead,
And buried in the ground!

(He falls down and writhes as though eaten by worms. Hell opens, and SATAN and ASTAROTH come forth, and drag him down.)

VII. JESUS AT PLAY WITH HIS SCHOOLMATES.

_Jesus._ The shower is over. Let us play,
And make some sparrows out of clay,
Down by the river's side.

_Judas._ See, how the stream has overflowed
Its banks, and o'er the meadow road
Is spreading far and wide!

(_They draw water out of the river by channels, and
form little pools_ JESUS _makes twelve sparrows of
clay, and the other boys do the same._)

_Jesus._ Look! look! how prettily I make
These little sparrows by the lake
Bend down their necks and drink!
Now will I make them sing and soar
So far, they shall return no more
Into this river's brink.

_Judas._ That canst thou not! They are but clay,
They cannot sing, nor fly away
Above the meadow lands!

_Jesus._ Fly, fly! ye sparrows! you are free!
And while you live, remember me,
Who made you with my hands.

(_Here_ JESUS _shall clap his hands, and the sparrows
shall fly away, chirruping._)

_Judas._ Thou art a sorcerer, I know;
Oft has my mother told me so,
I will not play with thee!

(_He strikes_ JESUS _on the right side._)

_Jesus._ Ah, Judas! thou has smote my side,
And when I shall be crucified,
There shall I pierced be!

(_Here_ JOSEPH _shall come in, and say:_)

_Joseph._ Ye wicked boys! why do ye play,
And break the holy Sabbath day?
What, think ye, will your mothers say
To see you in such plight!
In such a sweat and such a heat,
With all that mud-upon your feet!
There's not a beggar in the street
Makes such a sorry sight!

VIII. THE VILLAGE SCHOOL.

_The_ RABBI BEN ISRAEL, _with a long beard, sitting on
a high stool, with a rod in his hand._

_Rabbi._ I am the Rabbi Ben Israel,
Throughout this village known full well,
And, as my scholars all will tell,
Learned in things divine;
The Kabala and Talmud hoar
Than all the prophets prize I more,
For water is all Bible lore,
But Mishna is strong wine.

My fame extends from West to East,
And always, at the Purim feast,
I am as drunk as any beast
That wallows in his sty;
The wine it so elateth me,
That I no difference can see
Between 'Accursed Haman be!'
And 'Blessed be Mordecai!'

Come hither, Judas Iscariot.
Say, if thy lesson thou hast got
From the Rabbinical Book or not.
Why howl the dogs at night?

_Judas._ In the Rabbinical Book, it saith
The dogs howl, when with icy breath
Great Sammael, the Angel of Death,
Takes through the town his flight!

_Rabbi._ Well, boy! now say, if thou art wise,
When the Angel of Death, who is full of eyes,
Comes where a sick man dying lies,
What doth he to the wight?

_Judas._ He stands beside him, dark and tall,
Holding a sword, from which doth fall
Into his mouth a drop of gall,
And so he turneth white.

_Rabbi._ And now, my Judas, say to me
What the great Voices Four may be,
That quite across the world do flee,
And are not heard by men?

_Judas._ The Voice of the Sun in heaven's dome,
The Voice of the Murmuring of Rome,
The Voice of a Soul that goeth home,
And the Angel of the Rain!

_Rabbi._ Well have ye answered every one
Now little Jesus, the carpenter's son,
Let us see how thy task is done.
Canst thou thy letters say?

_Jesus._ Aleph.

_Rabbi._ What next? Do not stop yet!
Go on with all the alphabet.
Come, Aleph, Beth; dost thou forget?
Cock's soul! thou'dst rather play!

_Jesus._ What Aleph means I fain would know,
Before I any farther go!

_Rabbi._ O, by Saint Peter! wouldst thou so?
Come hither, boy, to me.
And surely as the letter Jod
Once cried aloud, and spake to God,
So surely shalt thou feel this rod,
And punished shalt thou be!

(_Here_ RABBI BEN ISRAEL _shall lift up his rod to strike_
JESUS, _and his right arm shall be paralyzed._)

IX. CROWNED WITH FLOWERS.

JESUS _sitting among his playmates, crowned with
flowers as their King._

_Boys._ We spread our garments on the ground'
With fragrant flowers thy head is crowned,
While like a guard we stand around,
And hail thee as our King!
Thou art the new King of the Jews!
Nor let the passers-by refuse
To bring that homage which men use
To majesty to bring.

(_Here a traveller shall go by, and the boys shall lay hold of his garments and say:_)

_Boys._ Come hither! and all reverence pay
Unto our monarch, crowned to-day!
Then go rejoicing on your way,
In all prosperity!

_Traveller._ Hail to the King of Bethlehem,
Who weareth in his diadem
The yellow crocus for the gem
Of his authority!

(_He passes by; and others come in, bearing on a litter a sick child._)

_Boys._ Set down the litter and draw near!
The King of Bethlehem is here!
What ails the child, who seems to fear
That we shall do him harm?

_The Bearers._ He climbed up to the robin's nest,
And out there darted, from his rest,
A serpent with a crimson crest,
And stung him in the arm.

_Jesus._ Bring him to me, and let me feel
The wounded place; my touch can heal
The sting of serpents, and can steal
The poison from the bite!

(_He touches the wound, and the boy begins to cry._)

Cease to lament! I can foresee
That thou hereafter known shalt be,
Among the men who follow me,
As Simon the Canaanite!

* * * * *

EPILOGUE.

In the after part of the day
Will be represented another play,
Of the Passion of our Blessed Lord,
Beginning directly after Nones!
At the close of which we shall accord,
By way of benison and reward,
The sight of a holy Martyr's bones!

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The Troubadour. Canto 3

LAND of the olive and the vine,
The saint and soldier, sword and shrine!
How glorious to young RAYMOND'S eye
Swell'd thy bold heights, spread thy clear sky,
When first he paused upon the height
Where, gather'd, lay the Christian might.
Amid a chesnut wood were raised
Their white tents, and the red cross blazed
Meteor-like, with its crimson shine,
O'er many a standard's scutcheon'd line.

On the hill opposite there stood
The warriors of the Moorish blood,--
With their silver crescents gleaming,
And their horse-tail pennons streaming;
With cymbals and the clanging gong,
The muezzin's unchanging song,
The turbans that like rainbows shone,
The coursers' gay caparison,
As if another world had been
Where that small rivulet ran between.

And there was desperate strife next day:
The little vale below that lay
Was like a slaughter-pit, of green
Could not one single trace be seen;
The Moslem warrior stretch'd beside
The Christian chief by whom he died;
And by the broken falchion blade
The crooked scymeter was laid.

And gallantly had RAYMOND borne
The red cross through the field that morn,
When suddenly he saw a knight
Oppress'd by numbers in the fight:
Instant his ready spear was flung,
Instant amid the band he sprung;--
They fight, fly, fall,--and from the fray
He leads the wounded knight away!
Gently he gain'd his tent, and there
He left him to the leech's care;
Then sought the field of death anew,--
Little was there for knight to do.

That field was strewn with dead and dying;
And mark'd he there DE VALENCE lying
Upon the turbann'd heap, which told
How dearly had his life been sold.
And yet on his curl'd lip was worn
The impress of a soldier's scorn;
And yet his dark and glazed eye
Glared its defiance stern and high:
His head was on his shield, his hand
Held to the last his own red brand.
Felt RAYMOND all too proud for grief
In gazing on the gallant chief:
So, thought he, should a warrior fall,
A victor dying last of all.

But sadness moved him when he gave
DE VALENCE to his lowly grave,--
The grave where the wild flowers were sleeping,
And one pale olive-tree was weeping,--
And placed the rude stone cross to show
A Christian hero lay below.

With the next morning's dawning light
Was RAYMOND by the wounded knight.
He heard strange tales,--none knew his name,
And none might say from whence he came;
He wore no cognizance, his steed
Was raven black, and black his weed.
All owned his fame, but yet they deem'd
More desperate than brave he seem'd;
Or as he only dared the field
For the swift death that it might yield.

Leaning beside the curtain, where
Came o'er his brow the morning air,
He found the stranger chief; his tone,
Surely 'twas one RAYMOND had known!
He knew him not, what chord could be
Thus waken'd on his memory?

At first the knight was cold and stern,
As that his spirit shunn'd to learn
Aught of affection; as it brought
To him some shaft of venom'd thought:
When one eve RAYMOND chanced to name
Durance's castle, whence he came;
And speak of EVA , and her fate,
So young and yet so desolate,
So beautiful! Then heard he all
Her father's wrongs, her mother's fall:
For AMIRALD was the knight whose life
RAYMOND had saved amid the strife;
And now he seem'd to find relief
In pouring forth his hidden grief,
Which had for years been as the stream
Cave-lock'd from either air or beam.

LORD AMIRALD'S HISTORY.

I LOVED her! ay, I would have given
A death-bed certainty of heaven
If I had thought it could confer
The least of happiness on her!
How proudly did I wait the hour
When hid no more in lowly bower,
She should shine, loveliest of all,
The lady of my heart and hall;--
And soon I deem'd the time would be,
For many a chief stood leagued with me.

It was one evening we had sate
In my tower's secret council late,
Our bands were number'd, and we said
That the pale moon's declining head
Should shed her next full light o'er bands
With banners raised, and sheathless brands.
We parted; I to seek the shade
Where my heart's choicest gem was laid;
I flung me on my fleetest steed,
I urged it to its utmost speed,--
On I went, like the hurrying wind,
Hill, dale, and plain were left behind,
And yet I thought my courser slow--
Even when the forest lay below.

As my wont, in a secret nook
I left my horse,--I may not tell
With what delight my way I took
Till I had reach'd the oak-hid dell.
The trees which hitherto had made
A more than night, with lighten'd shade
Now let the stars and sky shine through,
Rejoicing, calm, and bright, and blue.

There did not move a leaf that night
That I cannot remember now,
Nor yet a single star whose light
Was on the royal midnight's brow:
Wander'd no cloud, sigh'd not a flower,
That is not present at this hour.
No marvel memory thus should press
Round its last light of happiness!

I paused one moment where I stood,
In all a very miser's mood,
As if that thinking of its store
Could make my bosom's treasure more.
I saw the guiding lamp which shone
From the wreath'd lattice, pale and lone;
Another moment I was there,
To pause, and look--upon despair.

I saw her!--on the ground she lay,
The life blood ebbing fast away;
But almost as she could not die
Without my hand to close her eye!
When to my bosom press'd, she raised
Her heavy lids, and feebly gazed,
And her lip moved: I caught its breath,
Its last, it was the gasp of death!

I leant her head upon my breast,
As I but soothed her into rest;--
I do not know what time might be
Past in this stony misery,
When I was waken'd from my dream
By my forgotten infant's scream.
Then first I thought upon my child.
I took it from its bed, it smiled,
And its red cheek was flush'd with sleep:
Why had it not the sense to weep?
I laid its mother on the bed,
O'er her pale brow a mantle spread,
And left the wood. Calm, stern, and cold,
The tale of blood and death I told;
Gave my child to my brother's care
As his, not mine were this despair.

I flung me on my steed again,
I urged him with the spur and rein,--
I left him at the usual tree,
But left him there at liberty.

With madd'ning step I sought the place,
I raised the mantle from her face,
And knelt me down beside, to gaze
On all the mockery death displays,
Until it seem'd but sleep to me.
Death,--oh, no! death it could not be.

The cold grey light the dawn had shed,
Changed gradual into melting red;
I watch'd the morning colour streak
With crimson dye her marble cheek;
The freshness of the stirring air
Lifted her curls of raven hair;
Her head lay pillow'd on her arm,
Sweetly, as if with life yet warm;--
I kiss'd her lips: oh, God, the chill!
My heart is frozen with it still:--
It was as suddenly on me
Open'd my depths of misery.
I flung me on the ground, and raved,
And of the wind that past me craved
One breath of poison, till my blood
From lip and brow gush'd in one flood.
I watch'd the warm stream of my veins
Mix with the death wounds clotted stains;
Oh! how I pray'd that I might pour
My heart's tide, and her life restore!

And night came on:--with what dim fear
I mark'd the darkling hours appear,--
I could not gaze on the dear brow,
And seeing was all left me now.
I grasp'd the cold hand in mine own,
Till both alike seem'd turn'd to stone.
Night, morn, and noontide pass'd away,
Then came the tokens of decay.

'Twas the third night that I had kept
My watch, and, like a child, had wept
Sorrow to sleep, and in my dream
I saw her as she once could seem,
Fair as an angel: there she bent
As if sprung from the element,
The bright clear fountain, whose pure wave
Her soft and shadowy image gave.

Methought that conscious beauty threw
Upon her cheek its own sweet hue,
Its loveliness of morning red;
I woke, and gazed upon the dead.
I mark'd the fearful stains which now
Were dark'ning o'er the once white brow,
The livid colours that declare
The soul no longer dwelleth there.
The gaze of even my fond eye,
Seem'd almost like impiety,
As it were sin for looks to be
On what the earth alone should see.
I thought upon the loathsome doom
Of the grave's cold, corrupted gloom;--
Oh, never shall the vile worm rest
A lover on thy lip and breast!

Oh, never shall a careless tread
Soil with its step thy sacred bed!
Never shall leaf or blossom bloom
With vainest mockery o'er thy tomb!

And forth I went, and raised a shrine
Of the dried branches of the pine,--
I laid her there, and o'er her flung
The wild flowers that around her sprung;
I tore them up, and root and all,
I bade them wait her funeral,
With a strange joy that each fair thing
Should, like herself, be withering.
I lit the pyre,--the evening skies
Rain'd tears upon the sacrifice;
How did its wild and awful light
Struggle with the fierce winds of night;
Red was the battle, but in vain
Hiss'd the hot embers with the rain.
It wasted to a single spark;
That faded, and all round was dark:
Then, like a madman who has burst
The chain which made him doubly curst,
I fled away. I may not tell
The agony that on me fell:--
I fled away, for fiends were near,
My brain was fire, my heart was fear!

I was borne on an eagle's wing,
Till with the noon-sun perishing;
Then I stood in a world alone,
From which all other life was gone,
Whence warmth, and breath, and light were fled,
A world o'er which a curse was said:
The trees stood leafless all, and bare,
The sky spread, but no sun was there:
Night came, no stars were on her way,
Morn came without a look of day,--
As night and day shared one pale shroud,
Without a colour or a cloud.
And there were rivers, but they stood
Without a murmur on the flood,
Waveless and dark, their task was o'er,--
The sea lay silent on the shore,
Without a sign upon its breast
Save of interminable rest:
And there were palaces and halls,
But silence reign'd amid their walls,
Though crowds yet fill'd them; for no sound
Rose from the thousands gather'd round;
All wore the same white, bloodless hue,
All the same eyes of glassy blue,
Meaningless, cold, corpse-like as those
No gentle hand was near to close.
And all seem'd, as they look'd on me,
In wonder that I yet could be
A moving shape of warmth and breath
Alone amid a world of death.

'Tis strange how much I still retain
Of these wild tortures of my brain,
Though now they but to memory seem
A curse, a madness, and a dream;
But well I can recall the hour
When first the fever lost its power;
As one whom heavy opiates steep,
Rather in feverish trance than sleep,
I waken'd scarce to consciousness,--
Memory had fainted with excess:
I only saw that I was laid
Beneath an olive tree's green shade;
I knew I was where flowers grew fair,
I felt their balm upon the air,
I drank it as it had been wine;
I saw a gift of red sunshine
Glittering upon a fountain's brim;
I heard the small birds' vesper hymn,
As they a vigil o'er me kept,--
I heard their music, and I wept.
I felt a friendly arm upraise
My head, a kind look on me gaze!

RAYMOND , it has been mine to see
The godlike heads which Italy
Has given to prophet and to saint,
All of least earthly art could paint!
But never saw I such a brow
As that which gazed upon me now;--
It was an aged man, his hair
Was white with time, perhaps with care;
For over his pale face were wrought
The characters of painful thought;
But on that lip and in that eye
Were patience, peace, and piety,
The hope which was not of this earth,
The peace which has in pangs its birth,
As if in its last stage the mind,
Like silver seven times refined
In life's red furnace, all its clay,
All its dross purified away,
Paused yet a little while below,
Its beauty and its power to show.
As if the tumult of this life,
Its sorrow, vanity, and strife,
Had been but as the lightning's shock
Shedding rich ore upon the rock,
Though in the trial scorch'd and riven,
The gold it wins is gold from heaven.
He watch'd, he soothed me day to day,
How kindly words may never say:
All angel ministering could be
That old man's succour was to me;
I dwelt with him; for all in vain
He urged me to return again
And mix with life:--and months past on
Without a trace to mark them gone;
I had one only wish, to be
Left to my grief's monotony.
There is a calm which is not peace,
Like that when ocean's tempests cease,
When worn out with the storm, the sea
Sleeps in her dark tranquillity,
As dreading that the lightest stir
Would bring again the winds on her.
I felt as if I could not brook
A sound, a breath, a voice, a look,
As I fear'd they would bring again
Madness upon my heart and brain.
It was a haunting curse to me,
The simoom of insanity.
The links of life's enchanted chain,
Its hope, its pleasure, fear or pain,
Connected but with what had been,
Clung not to any future scene.
There is an indolence in grief
Which will not even seek relief:
I sat me down, like one who knows
The poison tree above him grows,
Yet moves not; my life-task was done
With that hour which left me alone.

It was one glad and glorious noon,
Fill'd with the golden airs of June,
When leaf and flower look to the sun
As if his light and life were one,--
A day of those diviner days
When breath seems only given for praise,
Beneath a stately tree which shed
A cool green shadow over-head;
I listen'd to that old man's words
Till my heart's pulses were as chords
Of a lute waked at the command
Of some thrice powerful master's hand.
He paused: I saw his face was bright
With even more than morning's light,
As his cheek felt the spirit's glow;
A glory sate upon his brow,
His eye flash'd as to it were given
A vision of his coming heaven.
I turn'd away in awe and fear,
My spirit was not of his sphere;
Ill might an earthly care intrude
Upon such high and holy mood:
I felt the same as I had done
Had angel face upon me shone,
When sudden, as sent from on high,
Music came slowly sweeping by.
It was not harp, it was not song,
Nor aught that might to earth belong!
The birds sang not, the leaves were still,
Silence was sleeping on the rill;
But with a deep and solemn sound
The viewless music swept around.
Oh never yet was such a tone
To hand or lip of mortal known!
It was as if a hymn were sent
From heaven's starry instrument,
In joy, such joy as seraphs feel
For some pure soul's immortal weal,
When that its human task is done,
Earth's trials past, and heaven won.

I felt, before I fear'd, my dread,
I turn'd and saw the old man dead!
Without a struggle or a sigh,
And is it thus the righteous die?
There he lay in the sun, calm, pale,
As if life had been like a tale
Which, whatsoe'er its sorrows past,
Breaks off in hope and peace at last.

I stretch'd him by the olive tree,
Where his death, there his grave should be;
The place was a thrice hallowed spot,
There had he drawn his golden lot
Of immortality; 'twas blest,
A green and holy place of rest.

But ill my burthen'd heart could bear
Its after loneliness of care;
The calmness round seem'd but to be
A mockery of grief and me,--
The azure flowers, the sunlit sky,
The rill, with its still melody,
The leaves, the birds,--with my despair,
The light and freshness had no share:
The one unbidden of them all
To join in summer's festival.

I wander'd first to many a shrine
By zeal or ages made divine;
And then I visited each place
Where valour's deeds had left a trace;
Or sought the spots renown'd no less
For nature's lasting loveliness.

In vain that all things changed around,
No change in my own heart was found.
In sad or gay, in dark or fair,
My spirit found a likeness there.

At last my bosom yearn'd to see
My EVA'S blooming infancy;
I saw, myself unseen the while,
Oh, God! it was her mother's smile!
Wherefore, oh, wherefore had they flung
The veil just as her mother's hung!--
Another look I dared not take,
Another look my heart would break!
I rush'd away to the lime grove
Where first I told my tale of love;
And leaves and flowers breathed of spring
As in our first sweet wandering.

I look'd towards the clear blue sky,
I saw the gem-like stream run by;
How did I wish that, like these, fate
Had made the heart inanimate.
Oh! why should spring for others be,
When there can come no spring to thee.

Again, again, I rush'd away;
Madness was on an instant's stay!
And since that moment, near and far,
In rest, in toil, in peace, in war,
I've wander'd on without an aim
In all, save lapse of years the same.
Where was the star to rise and shine
Upon a night so dark as mine?--
My life was as a frozen stream,
Which shares but feels not the sun-beam,
All careless where its course may tend,
So that it leads but to an end.
I fear my fate too much to crave
More than it must bestow--the grave.

AND AMIRALD from that hour sought
A refuge from each mournful thought
In RAYMOND'S sad but soothing smile;
And listening what might well beguile
The spirit from its last recess
Of dark and silent wretchedness.
He spoke of EVA , and he tried
To rouse her father into pride
Of her fair beauty; rather strove
To waken hope yet more than love.

He saw how deeply AMIRALD fear'd
To touch a wound not heal'd but sear'd:
His gentle care was not in vain,
And AMIRALD learn'd to think again
Of hope, if not of happiness;
And soon his bosom pined to press
The child whom he so long had left
An orphan doubly thus bereft.
He mark'd with what enamour'd tongue
RAYMOND on EVA'S mention hung,--
The softened tone, the downward gaze,
All that so well the heart betrays;
And a reviving future stole
Like dew and sunlight on his soul.

Soon the Crusaders would be met
Where winter's rest from war was set;
And then farewell to arms and Spain;--
Then for their own fair France again.

One morn there swell'd the trumpet's blast,
Calling to battle, but the last;
And AMIRALD watch'd the youthful knight
Spur his proud courser to the fight:
Tall as the young pine yet unbent
By strife with its mountain element,--
His vizor was up, and his full dark eye
Flash'd as its flashing were victory;
And hope and pride sate on his brow
As his earlier war-dreams were on him now.
Well might he be proud, for where was there one
Who had won the honour that he had won?
And first of the line it was his to lead
His band to many a daring deed.

But rose on the breath of the evening gale,
Not the trumpet's salute, but a mournful tale
Of treachery, that had betray'd the flower
Of the Christian force to the Infidel's power.
One came who told he saw RAYMOND fall,
Left in the battle the last of all;
His helm was gone, and his wearied hand
Held a red but a broken brand.--
What could a warrior do alone?
And AMIRALD felt all hope was gone.
Alas for the young! alas for the brave!
For the morning's hope, and the evening's grave!
And gush'd for him hot briny tears,
Such as AMIRALD had not shed for years;--
With heavy step and alter'd heart,
Again he turn'd him to depart.

He sought his child, but half her bloom
Was withering in RAYMOND'S tomb.

Albeit not with those who fled,
Yet was not RAYMOND with the dead.
There is a lofty castle stands
On the verge of Grenada's lands;
It has a dungeon, and a chain,
And there the young knight must remain.
Day after day,--or rather night,--
Can morning come without its light?
Pass'd on without a sound or sight.
The only thing that he could feel,
Was the same weight of fettering steel,--
The only sound that he could hear
Was when his own voice mock'd his ear,--
His only sight was the drear lamp
That faintly show'd the dungeon's damp,
When by his side the jailor stood,
And brought his loathed and scanty food.

What is the toil, or care, or pain,
The human heart cannot sustain?
Enough if struggling can create
A change or colour in our fate;
But where's the spirit that can cope
With listless suffering, when hope,
The last of misery's allies,
Sickens of its sweet self, and dies.

He thought on EVA :--tell not me
Of happiness in memory!

Oh! what is memory but a gift
Within a ruin'd temple left,
Recalling what its beauties were,
And then presenting what they are.
And many hours pass'd by,--each one
Sad counterpart of others gone;
Till even to his dreams was brought
The sameness of his waking thought;
And in his sleep he felt again
The dungeon, darkness, damp, and chain.

One weary time, when he had thrown
Himself on his cold bed of stone,
Sudden he heard a stranger hand
Undo the grating's iron band:
He knew 'twas stranger, for no jar
Came from the hastily drawn bar.

Too faintly gleam'd the lamp to show
The face of either friend or foe;
But there was softness in the tread,
And RAYMOND raised his weary head,
And saw a muffled figure kneel,
And loose the heavy links of steel.
He heard a whisper, to which heaven
Had surely all its music given:--
'Vow to thy saints for liberty,
Sir knight, and softly follow me!'
He heard her light step on the stair,
And felt 'twas woman led him there.
And dim and dark the way they past
Till on the dazed sight flash'd at last
A burst of light, and RAYMOND stood
Where censers burn'd with sandal wood,
And silver lamps like moonshine fell
O'er mirrors and the tapestried swell
Of gold and purple: on they went
Through rooms each more magnificent.

And RAYMOND look'd upon the brow
Of the fair guide who led him now:
It was a pale but lovely face,
Yet in its first fresh spring of grace,
That spring before or leaf or flower
Has known a single withering hour:
With lips red as the earliest rose
That opens for the bee's repose.
But it was not on lip, or cheek
Too marble fair, too soft, too meek,
That aught was traced that might express
More than unconscious loveliness;
But her dark eyes! as the wild light
Streams from the stars at deep midnight,
Speaks of the future,--so those eyes
Seem'd with their fate to sympathise,
As mocking with their conscious shade
The smile that on the red lip play'd,
As that they knew their destiny
Was love, and that such love would be
The uttermost of misery.

There came a new burst of perfume,
But different, from one stately room,
Not of sweet woods, waters distill'd,
But with fresh flowers' breathings fill'd;
And there the maiden paused, as thought
Some painful memory to her brought.

Around all spoke of woman's hand:
There a guitar lay on a stand
Of polish'd ebony, and raised
In rainbow ranks the hyacinth blazed
Like banner'd lancers of the spring,
Save that they were too languishing.
And gush'd the tears from her dark eyes,
And swell'd her lip and breast with sighs;
But RAYMOND spoke, and at the sound
The maiden's eye glanced hurried round.

Motioning with her hand she led,
With watching gaze and noiseless tread,
Along a flower-fill'd terrace, where
Flow'd the first tide of open air.
They reach'd the garden; there was all
That gold could win, or luxury call
From northern or from southern skies
To make an earthly paradise.
Their path was through a little grove,
Where cypress branches met above,
Green, shadowy, as nature meant
To make the rose a summer tent,
In fear and care, lest the hot noon
Should kiss her fragrant brow too soon.
Oh! passion's history, ever thus
Love's light and breath were perilous!
On the one side a fountain play'd
As if it were a Fairy's shade,
Who shower'd diamonds to streak
The red pomegranate's ruby cheek.
The grove led to a lake, one side
Sweet scented shrubs and willows hide:
There winds a path, the clear moonshine
Pierces not its dim serpentine.
The garden lay behind in light,
With flower and with fountain bright;
The lake like sheeted silver gave
The stars a mirror in each wave;
And distant far the torchlight fell,
Where paced the walls the centinel:
And as each scene met RAYMOND'S view,
He deem'd the tales of magic true,--
With such a path, and such a night,
And such a guide, and such a flight.

The way led to a grotto's shade,
Just for a noon in summer made;
For scarcely might its arch be seen
Through the thick ivy's curtain green,
And not a sunbeam might intrude
Upon its twilight solitude.
It was the very place to strew
The latest violets that grew
Upon the feathery moss, then dream,--
Lull'd by the music of the stream,--
Fann'd by those scented gales which bring
The garden's wealth upon their wing,
Till languid with its own delight,
Sleep steals like love upon the sight,
Bearing those visionings of bliss
That only visit sleep like this.

And paused the maid,--the moonlight shed
Its light where leaves and flowers were spread,
As there she had their sweetness borne,
A pillow for a summer morn;
But when those leaves and flowers were raised,
A lamp beneath their covering blazed.
She led through a small path whose birth
Seem'd in the hidden depths of earth,--
'Twas dark and damp, and on the ear
There came a rush of waters near.
At length the drear path finds an end,--
Beneath a dark low arch they bend;
'Safe, safe!' the maiden cried, and prest
The red cross to her panting breast!
'Yes, we are safe!--on, stranger, on,
The worst is past, and freedom won!
Somewhat of peril yet remains,
But peril not from Moorish chains;--
With hope and heaven be our lot!'
She spoke, but RAYMOND answer'd not:
It was as he at once had come
Into some star's eternal home,--
He look'd upon a spacious cave,
Rich with the gifts wherewith the wave
Had heap'd the temple of that source
Which gave it to its daylight course.
Here pillars crowded round the hall,
Each with a glistening capital:--
The roof was set with thousand spars,
A very midnight heaven of stars;
The walls were bright with every gem
That ever graced a diadem;
Snow turn'd to treasure,--crystal flowers
With every hue of summer hours.
While light and colour round him blazed,
It seem'd to RAYMOND that he gazed
Upon a fairy's palace, raised
By spells from ore and jewels, that shine
In Afric's stream and Indian mine;
And she, his dark-eyed guide, were queen
Alone in the enchanted scene.

They past the columns, and they stood
By the depths of a pitchy flood,
Where silent, leaning on his oar,
An Ethiop slave stood by the shore.
'My faithful ALI !' cried the maid,
And then to gain the boat essay'd,
Then paused, as in her heart afraid
To trust that slight and fragile bark
Upon a stream so fierce, so dark;
Such sullen waves, the torch's glare
Fell wholly unreflected there.

'Twas but a moment; on they went
Over the grave-like element;
At first in silence, for so drear
Was all that met the eye and ear,--
Before, behind, all was like night,
And the red torch's cheerless light,
Fitful and dim, but served to show
How the black waters roll'd below;
And how the cavern roof o'erhead
Seem'd like the tomb above them spread.
And ever as each heavy stroke
Of the oar upon these waters broke,
Ten thousand echoes sent the sound
Like omens through the hollows round,
Till RAYMOND , who awhile subdued
His spirit's earnest gratitude,
Now pour'd his hurried thanks to her,
Heaven's own loveliest minister.
E'en by that torch he could espy
The burning cheek, the downcast eye,--
The faltering lip, which owns too well
All that its words might never tell;--
Once her dark eye met his, and then
Sank 'neath its silken shade again;
She spoke a few short hurried words,
But indistinct, like those low chords
Waked from the lute or ere the hand
Knows yet what song it shall command.
Was it in maiden fearfulness
He might her bosom's secret guess,
Or but in maiden modesty
At what a stranger's thought might be
Of this a Moorish maiden's flight
In secret with a Christian knight.
And the bright colour on her cheek
Was various as the morning break,--
Now spring-rose red, now lily pale,
As thus the maiden told her tale.

MOORISH MAIDEN'S TALE.

ALBEIT on my brow and breast
Is Moorish turban, Moorish vest;
Albeit too of Moorish line,
Yet Christian blood and faith are mine.
Even from earliest infancy
I have been taught to bend the knee
Before the sweet Madonna's face,
To pray from her a Saviour's grace!

My mother's youthful heart was given
To one an infidel to heaven;
Alas! that ever earthly love
Could turn her hope from that above;
Yet surely 'tis for tears, not blame,
To be upon that mother's name.

Well can I deem my father all
That holds a woman's heart in thrall,--
In truth his was as proud a form
As ever stemm'd a battle storm,
As ever moved first in the hall
Of crowds and courtly festival.
Upon each temple the black hair
Was mix'd with grey, as early care
Had been to him like age,--his eye,
And lip, and brow, were dark and high;
And yet there was a look that seem'd
As if at other times he dream'd
Of gentle thoughts he strove to press
Back to their unsunn'd loneliness.
Your first gaze cower'd beneath his glance,
Keen like the flashing of a lance,
As forced a homage to allow
To that tall form, that stately brow;
But the next dwelt upon the trace
That time may bring, but not efface,
Of cares that wasted life's best years,
Of griefs seared more than sooth'd by tears,
And homage changed to a sad feeling
For a proud heart its grief concealing.
If such his brow, when griefs that wear,
And hopes that waste, were written there,
What must it have been, at the hour
When in my mother's moonlit bower,
If any step moved, 'twas to take
The life he ventured for her sake?
He urged his love; to such a suit
Could woman's eye or heart be mute?
She fled with him,--it matters not,
To dwell at length upon their lot.
But that my mother's frequent sighs
Swell'd at the thoughts of former ties,
First loved, then fear'd she loved too well,
Then fear'd to love an Infidel;
A struggle all, she had the will
But scarce the strength to love him still:--
But for this weakness of the heart
Which could not from its love depart,
Rebell'd, but quickly clung again,
Which broke and then renew'd its chain,
Without the power to love, and be
Repaid by love's fidelity:--
Without this contest of the mind,
Though yet its early fetters bind,
Which still pants to be unconfined,
They had been happy.

'Twas when first
My spirit from its childhood burst,
That to our roof a maiden came,
My mother's sister, and the same
In form, in face, in smiles, in tears,
In step, in voice, in all but years,
Save that there was upon her brow
A calm my mother's wanted now;
And that ELVIRA'S loveliness
Seem'd scarce of earth, so passionless,
So pale, all that the heart could paint
Of the pure beauty of a saint.
Yes, I have seen ELVIRA kneel,
And seen the rays of evening steal,
Lighting the blue depths of her eye
With so much of divinity
As if her every thought was raised
To the bright heaven on which she gazed!
Then often I have deem'd her form
Rather with light than with life warm.

My father's darken'd brow was glad,
My mother's burthen'd heart less sad
With her, for she was not of those
Who all the heart's affections close
In a drear hour of grief or wrath,--
Her path was as an angel's path,
Known only by the flowers which spring
Beneath the influence of its wing;
And that her high and holy mood
Was such as suited solitude.
Still she had gentle words and smiles,
And all that sweetness which beguiles,
Like sunshine on an April day,
The heaviness of gloom away.
It was as the souls weal were sure
When prayer rose from lips so pure.

She left us;--the same evening came
Tidings of woe, and death, and shame.
Her guard had been attack'd by one
Whose love it had been her's to shun.

Fierce was the struggle, and her flight
Meanwhile had gain'd a neighbouring height,
Which dark above the river stood,
And look'd upon the rushing flood;
'Twas compass'd round, she was bereft
Of the vague hope that flight had left.
One moment, and they saw her kneel,
And then, as Heaven heard her appeal,
She flung her downwards from the rock:
Her heart was nerved by death to mock
What that heart never might endure,
The slavery of a godless Moor.

And madness in its burning pain
Seized on my mother's heart and brain:
She died that night, and the next day
Beheld my father far away.

But wherefore should I dwell on all
Of sorrow memory can recall,
Enough to know that I must roam
An orphan to a stranger home.--
My father's death in battle field
Forced me a father's rights to yield
To his stern brother; how my heart
Was forced with one by one to part
Of its best hopes, till life became
Existence only in its name;
Left but a single wish,--to share
The cold home where my parents were.

At last I heard, I may not say
How my soul brighten'd into day,
ELVIRA lived; a miracle
Had surely saved her as she fell!

A fisherman who saw her float,
Bore her in silence to his boat.
She lived! how often had I said
To mine own heart she is not dead;
And she remember'd me, and when
They bade us never meet again,
She sent to me an Ethiop slave,
The same who guides us o'er the wave,
Whom she had led to that pure faith
Which sains and saves in life and death,
And plann'd escape.

It was one morn
I saw our conquering standards borne,
And gazed upon a Christian knight
Wounded and prisoner from the fight;
I made a vow that he should be
Redeem'd from his captivity.
Sir knight, the Virgin heard my vow,--
Yon light,--we are in safety now!

THE arch was past, the crimson gleam
Of morning fell upon the stream,
And flash'd upon the dazzled eye
The day-break of a summer sky;
And they are sailing amid ranks
Of cypress on the river banks:
They land where water-lilies spread
Seem almost too fair for the tread;
And knelt they down upon the shore,
The heart's deep gratitude to pour.

Led by their dark guide on they press
Through many a green and lone recess:
The morning air, the bright sunshine,
To RAYMOND were like the red wine,--
Each leaf, each flower seem'd to be
With his own joy in sympathy,
So fresh, so glad; but the fair Moor,
From peril and pursuit secure,
Though hidden by her close-drawn veil,
Yet seem'd more tremulous, more pale;
The hour of dread and danger past,
Fear's timid thoughts came thronging fast;
Her cold hand trembled in his own,
Her strength seem'd with its trial gone,
And downcast eye, and faltering word,
But dimly seen, but faintly heard,
Seem'd scarcely her's that just had been
His dauntless guide through the wild scene.

At length a stately avenue
Of ancient chesnuts met their view,
And they could see the time-worn walls
Of her they sought, ELVIRA'S halls.
A small path led a nearer way
Through flower-beds in their spring array.
They reach'd the steps, and stood below
A high and marble portico;
They enter'd, and saw kneeling there
A creature even more than fair.
On each white temple the dusk braid
Of parted hair made twilight shade,
That brow whose blue veins shone to show
It was more beautiful than snow.

Her large dark eyes were almost hid
By the nightfall of the fringed lid;
And tears which fill'd their orbs with light,
Like summer showers blent soft with bright.
Her cheek was saintly pale, as nought
Were there to flush with earthly thought;
As the heart which in youth had given
Its feelings and its hopes to Heaven,
Knew no emotions that could spread
A maiden's cheek with sudden red,--
Made for an atmosphere above,
Too much to bend to mortal love.

And RAYMOND watch'd as if his eye
Were on a young divinity,--
As her bright presence made him feel
Awe that could only gaze and kneel:
And LEILA paused, as if afraid
To break upon the recluse maid,
As if her heart took its rebuke
From that cold, calm, and placid look.

'ELVIRA !'--though the name was said
Low as she fear'd to wake the dead,
Yet it was heard, and, all revealing,
Of her most treasured mortal feeling,
Fondly the Moorish maid was prest
To her she sought, ELVIRA'S breast.
'I pray'd for thee, my hope, my fear,
My LEILA ! and now thou art near.
Nay, weep not, welcome as thou art
To my faith, friends, and home and heart!'

And RAYMOND almost deem'd that earth
To such had never given birth
As the fair creatures, who, like light,
Floated upon his dazzled sight:--
One with her bright and burning cheek,
All passion, tremulous and weak,
A woman in her woman's sphere
Of joy and grief, of hope and fear.
The other, whose mild tenderness
Seem'd as less made to share than bless;
One to whom human joy was such
That her heart fear'd to trust too much,
While her wan brow seem'd as it meant
To soften rapture to content;--
To whom all earth's delight was food
For high and holy gratitude.

Gazed RAYMOND till his burning brain
Grew dizzy with excess of pain;
For unheal'd wounds his strength had worn,
And all the toil his flight had borne;
His lip, and cheek, and brow were flame;
And when ELVIRA'S welcome came,
It fell on a regardless ear,
As bow'd beside a column near,
He leant insensible to all
Of good or ill that could befall.

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Byron

The Siege of Corinth

In the year since Jesus died for men,
Eighteen hundred years and ten,
We were a gallant company,
Riding o'er land, and sailing o'er sea
Oh ! but we went merrily !
We forded the river, and clomb the high hill,
Never our steeds for a day stood still;
Whether we lay in the cave or the shed,
Our sleep fell soft on the hardest bed:
Whether we couch'd in our rough capote,
On the rougher plank of our gliding boat.
Or stretch'd on the beach, or our saddles spread
As a pillow beneath the resting head,
Fresh we woke upon the morrow:
All our thoughts and words had scope,
We had health, and we had hope,
Toil and travel, but no sorrow.
We were of all tongues and creeds; ---
Some were those who counted beads,
Some of mosque, and some of church;
Yet through the wide world might ye search,
Nor find a motlier crew nor blither.
But some are dead, and some are gone,
And some are scatter'd and alone,
And some are rebels on the hills
That look along Epirus' valleys,
Where freedom still at moments rallies,
And pays in blood oppression's ills;
And some are in a far countree,
And some all restlessly at home;
But never more, oh ! never, we
Shall meet to revel and to roam.
But those hardy days flew cheerily !
And when they now fall drearily,
My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,
And bear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird and a wanderer.
'Tis this that ever wakes my strain,
And oft, too oft, implores again
The few who may endure my lay,
To follow me so far away.
Stranger --- wilt thou follow now,
And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?

I
Many a vanish'd year and age,
And tempest's breath, and battle's rage,
Have swept o'er Corinth; yet she stands,
A fortress form'd to Freedom's hands.
The whirlwind's wrath, the earthquake's shock,
Have left untouch'd her hoary rock,
The keystone of a land, which still,
Though fall'n, looks proudly on that hill.
The landmark in the double tide
That purpling rolls on either side,
As if their waters chafed to meet,
Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet.
But could the blood before her shed
Since first Timoleon's brother bled,
Or baffled Persia's despot fled,
Arise from out the earth which drank
The stream of slaughter as it sank,
That sanquine ocean would o'erflow
Her isthmus idly spread below;
Or could the bones of all the slain,
Who perish'd there, be piled again,
That rival pyramid would rise
More mountain-like, through those clear skies,
Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis,
Which seems the very clouds to kiss.

II
On dun Cithaeron's ridge appears
The gleam of twice ten thousand spears;
And downward to the Isthmian plain,
From shore to shore of either main,
The tent is pitch'd, the crescent shines
Along the Moslem's leaguering lines;
And the dusk Spahi's bands advance
Beneath each bearded pacha's glance;
And far and wide as eye can reach
The turban'd cohorts throng the beach;
And there the Arab's camel kneels,
And there his steed the Tartar wheels;
The turcoman hath left his herd,
The sabre round his loins to gird;
And there the volleying thunders pour,
Till waves grow smoother to the roar.
The trench is dug, the cannon's breath
Wings the far hissing globe of death;
Fast whirl the fragments from the wall
Which crumbles with the ponderous ball;
And from that wall the foe replies,
O'er dusty plain and smoky skies,
With fires that answer fast and well
The summons of the Infidel.

III
But near and nearest to the wall
Of those who wish and work its fall,
With deeper skill in war's black art
Than Othman's sons, and high of heart
As any chief that ever stood
Triumphant in the fields of blood;
From post to post, and deed to deed,
Fast spurring on his reeking steed,
Where sallying ranks the trench assail,
And make the foremost Moslem quail;
Or where the battery, guarded well,
Remains as yet impregnable,
Alighting cheerly to inspire
The soldier slackening in his fire;
The first and freshest of the host
Which Stamboul's sultan there can boast,
To guide the follower o'er the field,
To point the tube, the lance to wield,
Or whirl around the bickering blade; ---
Was Alp, the Adrian renegade.

IV
From Venice --- once a race of worth
His gentle sires --- he drew his birth;
But late an exile from her shore,
Against his countrymen he bore
The arms they taught to bear; and now
The turban girt his shaven brow,
Through many a change had Corinth pass'd
With Greece to Venice' rule at last;
And here, before her walls, with those
To Greece and Venice equal foes,
He stood a foe, with all the zeal
Which young and fiery converts feel,
Within whose heated bosom throngs
The memory of a thousand wrongs.
To him had Venice ceased to be
Her ancient civic boast --- "the Free;"
And in the palace of St.Mark
Unnamed accusers in the dark
Within the "Lion's mouth" had placed
A charge against him uneffaced:
He fled i time, and saved his life,
To waste his future years in strife,
That taught his land how great her loss
In him who triumph'd o'er the Cross,
"Gainst which he rear'd the Crescent high,
And battled to avenge or die.

V
Coumourgi --- he whose closing scene
Adorn'd the triumph of Eugene,
When on Carlowitz' bloody plain,
The last and mightiest of the slain,
He sank, regretting not to die,
But cursed the Christian's victory ---
Coumourgi --- can his glory cease,
That latest conqueror of Greece,
Till Christian hands to Greece restore
The freedom Venice gave of yore?
A hundred years have roll'd away
Since he refix'd the Moslem's sway;
And now he led the Mussulman,
And gave the guidance of the van
To Alp, who well repaid the trust
By cities levell'd with the dust;
And proved, by many a deed of death,
How firm his heart in novel faith.

VI
The walls grew weak; and fast and hot
Against them pour'd the ceaseless shot,
With unabating fury sent
From battery to battlement;
And thunder-like the pealing din
Rose from each heated culverin;
And here and there some crackling dome
Was fired before the exploding bomb;
And as the fabric sank beneath
The shattering shell's volcanic breath,
In red and wreathing columns flash'd
The flame, as loud the ruin crash'd,
Or into countless meteors driven,
Its earth-stars melted into heaven;
Whose clouds that day grew doubly dun,
Impervious to the hidden sun,
With volumed smoke that slowly grew
To one wide sky or sulphurous hue.

VII
But not for vengeance, long delay'd
Alone, did Alp, the renegade,
The Moslem warriors sternly teach
His skill to pierce the promised breach:
Within these walls a maid was pent
His hope would win, without consent
Of that inexorable sire,
Whose heart refused him in its ire,
When Alp, beneath his Christian name,
Her virgin hand aspired to claim.
In happier mood, and earlier time,
While unimpeach'd for traitoress crime,
Gayest in gondola or hall
He glitter'd through the Carnival;
And tuned the softest serenade
That e'er on Adria's waters played
At midnight to Italian maid.

VIII
And many deem'd her heart was won !
For sought by numbers, given to none,
Had young Francesca's hand remain'd
Still by the church's bonds unchain'd:
And when the Adriatic bore
Lanciotto to the Paynim shore,
Her wonted smiles were seen to fail,
And pensive wax'd the maid and pale;
More constant at confessional,
More rare at masque and festival;
Or seen at such, with downcast eyes,
Which conquer'd hearts they ceased to prize:
With listless look she seems to gaze:
With humbler care her form arrays
Her voice less lively in the song;
Her step though light, less fleet among
The pairs, on whom the Morning's glance
Breaks, yet unsated with the dance.

IX
Sent by the state to guard the land,
( Which, wrested from the Moslem's hand,
While Sobieski tamed his pride
By Buda's wall and Danube's side,
The chiefs of Venice wrung away
From Patra to Euboea's bay, )
Minotti held in Corinth's towers
The Doge's delegated powers,
While yet the pitying eye of Peace
Smiled o'er her long forgotten Greece:
And ere that faithless truce was broke
Which freed her from unchristian yoke,
With him his gentle daughter came;
Nor there, since Menelaus' dame
Forsook her lord and land, to prove
What woes await on lawless love,
Had fairer form adorn'd the shore
Than she, the matchless stranger, bore.

X
The wall is rent, the ruins yawn;
And with to-morrow's earliest dawn,
O'er the disjointed mass shall vault
The foremost of the fierce assault.
The bands are rank'd; the chosen van
Of Tartar and of Mussulman,
The full of hope, misnamed "forlorn,"
Who hold the thought of death in scorn,
And win their way with falchion's force,
Or pave the path with many a corse,
O'er which the following brave may rise,
Their stepping-stone --- the last who dies !

XI
'Tis midnight: on the mountains brown
The cold, round moon shines deeply down;
Blue roll the waters, blue the sky
Spreads like an ocean hun on high,
Bespangled with those isles of light,
So wildly, spiritually bright;
Who ever gazed upon them shining
And turn'd to earth without repining,
Nor wish'd for wings to flee away,
And mix with their eternal ray?
The waves on either shore lay there
Clam, clear, and azure as the air;
And scarce their foam the pebbles shook,
But murmur'd meekly as the brook.
The winds were pillow'd on the waves;
The banners droop'd along their staves,
And, as they fell around them furling,
Above them shone the crescent curling;
And that deep silence was unbroke,
Save where the watch his signal spoke,
Save where the steed neigh'd oft and shrill,
And echo answer'd from the hill,
And the wild hum of that wild host
Rustled like leaves from coast to coast,
As rose the Muezzin's voice in air
In midnight call to wonted prayer;
It rose, that chanted mournful strain,
Like some lone spirit's o'er the plan:
'Twas musical, but sadly sweet,
Such as when winds and harp-strings meet,
And take a long unmeasured tone,
To mortal minstrelsy unknown.
It seem'd to those within the wall
A cry prophetic of their fall:
It struck even the besieger's ear
With something ominous and drear,
An undefined and sudden thrill,
Which makes the heart a moment still,
Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed
Of that strange sense its silence framed;
Such as a sudden passing-bell
Wakes, though but for a stranger's knell.

XII
The tent of Alp was on the shore;
The sound was hush'd, the prayer was o'er,
The watch was set, the night-round made,
All mandates issued and obey'd:
'Tis but another anxious night,
His pains the morrow may requite
With all revenge and love can pay,
In guerdon for their long delay.
Few hours remain, and he hath need
Of rest, to nerve for many a deed
Of slaughter; but within his soul
The thoughts like troubled waters roll.
He stood alone among the host;
Not his the loud fanatic boast
To plant the crescent o'er the cross,
Or risk a life with little loss,
Secure in paradise to be
By Houris loved immortally:
Nor his what burning patriots feel,
The stern exaltedness of zeal,
Profuse of blood, untired in toil,
When battling on the parent soil.
He stood alone --- a renegade
Against the country he betray'd;
He stood along amidst his band,
Without a trusted heart or hand:
And great the spoil he got and gave;
They crouch'd to him, for he had skill
To warp and wield the vulgar will:
But still his Christian origin
With them was little less than sin.
They envied even the faithless fame
He earn'd beneath a Moslem name;
Since he, their mightiest chief, had been
In youth a bitter Nazarene.
They did not know how pride can stoop,
When baffled feelings withering droop;
They did not know how hate can burn
In hearts once changed from soft to stern;
Nor all the false and fatal zeal
The convert of revenge can feel.
He ruled them --- man may rule the worst,
By ever daring to be first:
So lions o'er the jackal sway;
The jackal points, he fells the prey,
Then on the vulgar yelling press,
To gorge the relics of success.

XIII
His head grows fever'd, and his pulse
The quick successive throbs convulse:
In vain from side to side he throws
His form, in courtship of repose;
Or if he dozed, a sound, a start
Awoke him with a sunken heart.
The turban on his hot brow press'd,
The mail weigh'd lead-like on his breast,
Though oft and long beneath its weight
Upon his eyes had slumber sate,
Without or couch or canopy,
Except a rougher field and sky
Than now might yield a warrior's bed,
Than now along the heaven was spread.
He could not rest, he could not stay
Within his tent to wait for day,
But walk'd him forth along the sand,
Where thousand sleepers strew'd the strand.
What pillow'd them? and why should he
More wakeful than the humblest be,
Since more their peril, worse their toil?
And yet they fearless dreams of spoil;
While he alone, where thousands pass'd
A night of sleep, perchance their last,
In sickly virgil wander'd on,
And envied all he gazed upon.

XIV
He felt his soul become more light
Beneath the freshness of the night.
Cool was the silent sky, though calm,
And bathed his brow with airy balm:
Behind, the camp --- before him lay,
In many a winding creek and bay,
Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow
Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow,
High and eternal, such as shone
Through thousand summers brightly gone,
Along the gulf, the mount, the clime;
It will not melt, like man, to time:
Tyrant and slave are swept away,
Less form'd to wear before the ray;
But that white veil, the lightest, frailest,
Which on the might mount thou hailest,
While tower and tree are torn and rent,
Shines o'er its craggy battlement;
In form a peak, in height a cloud,
In texture like a hovering shroud,
Thus high by parting Freedom spread,
As from her fond abode she fled,
And linger'd on the spot, where long
Her prophet spirit, spake in song.
Oh ! still her step at moments falters
O'er wither'd fields, and ruin'd altars,
And fain would wake, in souls too broken,
By pointing to each glorious token:
But vain her voice, till better days
Dawn in those yet remember'd rays,
Which shone upon the Persian flying,
And saw the Spartan smile in dying.

XV
Not mindless of these mighty times
Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes;
And through this night, as on he wander'd,
And o'er the past and present ponder'd,
And though upon the glorious dead
Who there in better cause had bled,
He felt how faint and feebly dim
The fame that could accrue to him.
Who cheer'd the band, and waved the sword,
A traitor in a turban'd horde;
And led them to the lawless siege,
Whose best success were sacrilege.
Not so had those his fancy number'd,
The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd;
Their phalanx marshall'd on the plain,
Whose bulwarks were not then in vain.
They fell devoted, but undying;
The very gale their name seem'd sighing;
The waters murmur'd of their name;
The woods were peopled with their fame;
The silent pillar, lone and grey,
Claim'd kindred with their sacred clay;
Their spirits wrapp'd the dusky mountain,
Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain;
The meanest rill, the mightiest river
Roll'd mingling with their fame for ever.
Despite of every yoke she bears,
That land is glory's still and theirs!
'Tis still a watchword to the earth:
When man would do a deed of worth
He points to Greece, and turns to tread,
So sanction'd, on the tyrant's head:
He looks to her, and rushes on
Where life is lost, or freedom won.

XVI
Still by the shore Alp mutely mused,
And woo'd the freshness Night diffused.
There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea,
Which changeless rolls eternally;
So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood,
Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood;
And the powerless moon beholds them flow,
Heedless if she come or go:
Calm or high, in main or bay,
On their course she hath no sway.
The rock unworn its base doth bare,
And looks o'er the surf, but it comes not there;
And the fringe of the foam may be seen below,
On the lines that it left long ages ago:
A smooth short space of yellow sand
Between it and the greener land.
He wander'd on along the beach,
Till within the range of a carbine's reach
Of the leaguer'd wall; but they saw him not,
Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot?
Did traitors lurk in the Christians hold?
Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts wax'd cold?
I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall
There flash'd no fire, and there hiss'd no ball,
Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown,
That flank'd the sea-ward gate of the town;
Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell
The sullen words of the sentinel,
As his measured step on the stone below
Clank'd, as he paced it to and fro;
And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall
Hold o'er the dead their carnival,
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb;
They were too busy to bark at him !
From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull,
As it slipp'd through their jaws, when their edge grew dull,
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed;
So well had they broken a lingering fast
With those who had fallen for that night's repast.
And Alp knew, by the turbans that roll'd on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band:
Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear,
And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair,
All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw:
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf,
There sat a vulture flapping a wolf,
Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Scared by the dogs, from the human prey;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Pick'd by the birds, on the sands of the bay.

XVII
Alp turn'd him from the sickening sight:
Never had shaken his nerves in fight;
But he better could brook to behold the dying,
Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,
Scorch'd with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain,
Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour,
Whate'er be the shape in which death may lower;
For Fame is there to say who bleeds,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds !
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead,
And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air,
Beasts of the forest, all gathering there;
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay.

XVIII
There is a temple in ruin stands,
Fashion'd by long forgotten hands;
Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown !
Out upon Time ! it will leave no more
Of the things to come than the things before !
Out upon Time ! who for ever will leave
But enough of the past for the future to grieve
O'er that which hath been, and o'er that which must be:
What we have seen, our sons shall see;
Remnants of things that have pass'd away,
Fragments of stone rear'd by creatures of clay !

XIX
He sate him down at a pillar's base.
And pass'd his hand athwart his face;
Like one in dreary musing mood,
Declining was his attitude;
His head was drooping on his breast,
Fever'd, throbbing, and oppress'd;
And o'er his beating fingers went,
Hurriedly, as you may see
Your own run over the ivory key,
Ere the measured tone is taken
By the chords you would awaken.
There he sate all heavily,
As he heard the night-wind sigh.
Was it the wind through some hollow stone
Sent that soft and tender moan?
He lifted his head, and he look'd on the sea,
But it was unrippled as glass may be;
He look'd on the long grass --- it waved not a blade;
How was that gentle sound convey'd?
He look'd to the banners --- each flag lay still,
So did the leaves on Cithaeron's hill,
And he felt not a breath come over his cheek;
What did that sudden sound bespeak?
He turn'd to the left --- is he sure of sight?
There sate a lady, youthful and bright !

XX
He started up with more of fear
That if an armed foe were near.
"God of my fathers ! what is here?
Who art thou? and wherefore sent
So near a hostile armament? "
His trembling hands refused to sign
The cross he deem'd no more divine:
He had resumed it in that hour,
But conscience wrung away the power.
He gazed, he saw: he knew the face
Of beauty, and the form of grace;
It was Francesca by his side,
The maid who might have been his bride !
The rose was yet upon her cheek,
But mellow'd with a tenderer streak:
Where was the play of her soft lips fled?
Gone was the smile that enliven'd their red.
The ocean's calm within their view,
Beside her eye had less of blue;
But like that cold wave it stood still,
And its glance though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining,
Nought conceal'd her bosom shining;
Through the parting of her hair,
Floating darkly downward there,
Her rounded arm show'd white and bare:
And ere yet she made reply,
Once she raised her hand on high;
It was so wan, and transparent of hue,
You might have seen the moon shine through.

XXI
"I come from my rest to him I love best,
That I may be happy, and he may be bless'd,
I have pass'd the guards, the gate, the wall;
Sought thee in safety through foes and all.
'Tis said the lion will turn and flee
From a maid in the pride of her purity;
And the Power on high, that can shield the good
Thus from the tyrant of the wood,
Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well
From the hands of the leaguering infidel.
I come --- and if I come in vain,
Never, oh never, we meet again !
Thou hast done a fearful deed
In falling away from thy fathers' creed:
But dash that turban to earth, and sign
The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine;
Wring the black drop from thy heart,
And to-morrow unites us no more to part."
"And where should our bridal couch be spread?
In the midst of the dying and the dead?
For to-morrow we give to the slaughter and flame
The sons and the shrines of the Christian name.
None, save thou and thine, I've sworn,
Shall be left upon the morn:
But thee will I bear to a lovely spot,
Where our hands shall be join'd and our sorrow forgot.
There thou yet shalt be my bride,
When once again I've quell'd the pride
Of Venice; and her hated race
Have felt the arm they would debase
Scourge, with a whip of scorpions, those
Whom vice and envy made my foes."
Upon his hand she laid her own ---
Light was the touch, but it thrill'd to the bone,
And shot a chillness to his heart,
Which fix'd him beyond the power to start.
Though slight was that grasp no mortal cold,
He could not loose him from its hold;
But never did clasp of one so dear
Strike on the pulse with such feeling of fear,
As those thin fingers, long and white,
Froze through his blood by their touch that night.
The feverish glow of his brow was gone,
And his heart sank so still that it felt like stone,
As he look'd on the face, and beheld its hue,
So deeply changed from what he knew:
Fair but faint --- without the ray
Of mind, that made each feature play
Like sparkling waves on a sunny day;
And her motionless lips lay still as death,
And her words came forth without her breath,
And there rose not a heave o'er her bosom's swell,
And there seem'd not a pulse in her veins to dwell.
Though her eye shone out, yet the lids were fix'd,
And the glance that it gave was wild and unmix'd
With aught of change, as the eyes may seem
Of the restless who walk in a troubled dream;
Like the figures on arras, that gloomily glare,
Stirr'd by the breath of the wintry air,
So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light,
Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight;
As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down
From the shadowy wall where their images frown;
Fearfully flitting to and fro,
As the gusts on the tapestry come and go.
"If not for love of me be given
Thus much, then, for the love of heaven, ---
Again I say --- that turban tear
From off thy faithless brow, and swear
Thine injured country's sons to spare,
Or thou art lost; and never shalt see ---
Not earth --- that's past --- but heaven or me.
If this thou dost accord, albeit
A heavy doom 'tis thine to meet,
That doom shall half absolve they sin,
And mercy's gate may receive thee within:
But pause one moment more, and take
The curse of Him thou didst forsake;
And look once more to heaven, and see
Its love for ever shut from thee.
There is a light cloud by the moon ---
'Tis passing, and will pass full soon ---
If, by the time its vapoury sail
Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil,
They heart within thee is not changed,
Then God and man are both avenged;
Dark will thy doom be, darker still
Thine immortality of ill."
Alp look'd to heaven, and saw on high
The sign she spake of in the sky;
But his heart was swollen, and turn'd aside,
By deep interminable pride.
This first false passion of his breast
Roll'd like a torrent o'er the rest.
He, wrong'd by Venice, vow to save
Her sons, devoted to the grave !
No --- though that cloud were thunder's worst,
And charged to crush him --- let it burst !
He look'd upon it earnestly,
Without an accent of reply;
He watch'd it passing; it is flow:
Full on his eye the clear moon shone,
And thus he spake --- "Whate'er my fate,
I am no changeling --- 'tis too late:
The reed in storms may bow and quiver,
Then rise again; the tree must shiver.
What Venice made me, I must be,
Her foe in all, save love to thee:
But thou art safe: oh, fly with me ! "
He turn'd but she is gone !
Nothing is there but the column stone.
Hath she sunk in the earth, or melted in air?
He saw not --- he knew not --- but nothing is there.

XXII
The night is past, and shines the sun
As if that morn were a jocund one.
Lightly and brightly breaks away
The Morning from her mantle grey,
And the noon will look on a sultry day.
Hark to the trump, and the drum,
And the mournful sound of the barbarous horn,
And the flap of the banners, that flit as they're borne,
And the clash, and the shout, "They come ! they come ! "
The horsetails are pluck'd from the ground, and the sword
From it's sheath; and they form, and but wait for the word.
Tartar, and Spahi, and Turcoman,
Strike your tents, and throng to the van;
When he breaks from the town; and none escape,
Aged or young, in the Christian shape;
While your fellows on foot, in a fiery mass,
Bloodstain the breach through which they pass.
The steeds are all bridled, and snort to the rein;
Curved in each neck, and flowing each mane;
White is the foam of their champ on the bit;
The spears are uplifted; the matches are lit;
The cannon are pointed, and ready to roar,
And crush the wall they have crumbled before:
Forms in his phalanx each janizar;
Alp at their head; his right arm is bare,
So is the blade of his scimitar;
The khan and the pachas are all at their post;
The vizier himself at the head of the host.
When the culverin's signal is fired, then on;
Leave not in Corinth a living one ---
A priest at her altars, a chief in her halls,
A hearth in her mansions, a stone on her walls.
God and the prophet --- Alla Hu !
Up to the skies with that wild halloo !
"There the breach lies for passage, the ladder to scale;
And your hands on your sabres, and how should ye fail?
He who first downs with the red cross may crave
His heart's dearest wish; let him ask it, and have ! "
Thus utter'd Coumourgi, the dauntless vizier;
The reply was the brandish of sabre and spear,
And the shout of fierce thousands in joyous ire: --- Silence --- hark to the signal --- fire !

XXIII
As the wolves, that headlong go
On the stately buffalo,
Though with fiery eyes, and angry roar,
And hoofs that stamp, and horns that gore,
He tramples on earth, or tosses on high
The foremost, who rush on his strength but to die:
Thus against the wall they went,
Thus the first were backward bent;
Many a bosom sheathed in brass,
Strew'd the earth like broken glass,
Shiver'd by the shot, that tore
The ground whereon they moved no more:
Even as they fell, in files they lay,
Like the mower's grass at the close of day,
When his work is done on the levell'd plain;
Such was the fall of the foremost slain.

XXIV
As the spring-tides, with heavy plash,
From the cliffs invading dash
Huge fragments, sapp'd by the ceaseless flow,
Till white and thundering down they go,
Like the avalanche's snow
On the Alpine vales below;
Thus at length, outbreathed and worn,
Corinth's sons were downward borne
By the long and oft renew'd
Charge of the Moslem multitude.
In firmness they stood, and in masses they fell,
Heap'd by the host of the infidel,
Hand to hand, and foot to foot:
Nothing there, save death, was mute:
Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
For quarter or for victory,
Mingle there with the volleying thunder,
Which make the distant cities wonder
How the sounding battle goes,
If with them, or for their foes;
If they must mourn, or may rejoice
In that annihilating voice,
Which pierces the deep hills through and through
With an echo dread and new:
You might have heard it, on that day,
O'er Salamis and Megara;
( We have heard the hearers say, )
Even unto Piraeus' bay.

XXV
From the point of encountering blades to the hilt,
Sabres and swords with blood were gilt;
But the rampart is won, and the spoil begun,
And all but the after carnage done.
Shriller shrieks now mingling come
From within the plunder'd dome:
Hark to the hast of flying feet,
That splash in the blood of the slippery street;
But here and there, were 'vantage ground
Against the foe may still be found,
Desperate groups, of twelve or ten,
Make a pause, and turn again ---
With banded backs against the wall,
Fiercely stand, or fighting fall.
There stood an old man --- his hairs were white,
But his veteran arm was full of might:
So gallantly bore he the brunt of the fray,
The dead before him, on that day,
In a semicircle lay;
Still he combated unwounded,
Though retreating, unsurrounded.
Many a scar of former fight
Lurk'd beneath his corslet bright;
But of every wound his body bore,
Each and all had been ta'en before:
Though aged, he was so iron of limb,
Few of our youth could cope with him,
And the foes, whom he singly kept at bay,
Outnumber'd his thin hairs of silver grey.
From right to left his sabre swept;
Many an Othman mother wept
Sons that were unborn, when dipp'd
His weapon first in Moslem gore,
Ere his years could count a score.
Of all he might have been the sire
Who fell that day beneath his ire:
For, sonless left long years ago,
His wrath made many a childless foe;
And since the day, when in the strait
His only boy had met his fate,
His parent's iron hand did doom
More than a human hecatomb.
If shades by carnage be appeased,
Patroclus' spirit less was pleased
Than his, Minotti's son, who died
Where Asia's bounds and ours divide.
Buried he lay, where thousands before
For thousands of years were inhumed on the shore;
What of them is left, to tell
Where they lie, and how they fell?
Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves;
But they live in the verse that immortally saves.

XXVI
Hark to the Allah shout ! a band
Of the Mussulman bravest and best is at hand;
Their leader's nervous arm is bare,
Swifter to smite, and never to spare ---
Unclothed to the shoulder it waves them on;
Thus in the fight is he ever known:
Others a gaudier garb may show,
To tempt the spoil of the greedy foe;
Many a hand's on a richer hilt,
But none on a steel more ruddily gilt;
Many a loftier turban may wear, ---
Alp is but known by the white arm bare;
Look through the thick of the fight, 'tis there !
There is not a standard on that shore
So well advanced the ranks before;
There is not a banner in Moslem war
Will lure the Delhis half so far;
It glances like a falling star !
Where'er that mighty arm is seen,
The bravest be, or late have been;
There the craven cries for quarter
Vainly to the vengeful Tartar;
Or the hero, silent lying,
Scorns to yield a groan in dying;
Mustering his last feeble blow
'Gainst the nearest levell'd foe,
Though faint beneath the mutual wound,
Grappling on the gory ground.

XXVII
Still the old man stood erect,
And Alp's career a moment check'd,
"Yield thee, Minotti, quarter take,
For thine own, thy daughter's sake."
"Never, renegado, never !
Though the life of thy gift would last for ever."
"Francesca ! --- Oh, my promised bride !
Must she too perish by thy pride? "
"She is safe."--- "Where? where? " --- "In heaven;
From whence thy traitor soul is driven ---
Far from thee, and undefiled."
Grimly then Minotti smiled,
As he saw Alp staggering bow
Before his words, as with a blow.
"Oh God ! when died she? " --- "Yester-night ---
Nor weep I for her spirit's flight:
None of my pure race shall be
Slaves to Mahomet and thee ---
Come on ! " --- That challenge is in vain ---
Alp's already with the slain !
While Minotti's words were wreaking
More revenge in bitter speaking
Than his falchion's point had found,
Had the time allow'd to wound,
From within the neighbouring porch
Of a long defended church,
Where the last and desperate few
Would the failing fight renew,
The sharp shot dash'd Alp to the ground;
Ere an eye could view the wound
That crash'd through the brain of the infidel,
Round he spun, and down he fell;
A flash like fire within his eyes
Blazed, as he bent no more to rise,
And then eternal darkness sunk
Through all the palpitating trunk;
Nought of life left, save a quivering
Where his limbs were slightly shivering:
They turn'd him on his back; his breast
And brow were stain'd with gore and dust,
And through his lips the life-blood oozed,
From its deep veins lately loosed:
But in his pulse there was no throb,
Nor on his lips one dying sob;
Sigh, nor word, nor struggling breath
Heralded his way to death;
Ere his very thought could pray,
Unanel'd he pass'd away.
Without a hope from mercy's aid, ---
To the last a Renegade.

XXVIII
Fearfully the yell arose
Of his followers, and his foes;
These in joy, in fury those:
Then again in conflict mixing,
Clashing swords, and spears transfixing,
Interchanged the blow and thrust,
Hurling warriors in the dust.
Street by street, and foot by foot,
Still Minotti dares dispute
The latest portion of the land
Left beneath his high command;
With him, aiding heart and hand,
The remnant of his gallant band.
Still the church is tenable,
Whence issued late the fated ball
That half avenged the city's fall
When Alp, her fierce assailant, fell:
Thither bending sternly back,
they leave before a bloody track;
And, with their faces to the foe,
Dealing wounds with every blow,
The chief, and his retreating train,
Join to those within the fane;
There they yet may breathe awhile,
Shelter'd by the massy pile.

XXIX
Brief breathing-time ! the turban'd host,
With added ranks and raging boast,
Press onwards with such strength and heat,
Their numbers balk their own retreat;
For narrow the way that led to the spot
Where still the Christians yielded not;
And the foremost, if fearful, may vainly try
Through the massy column to turn and fly;
They perforce must do or die.
They die; but ere their eyes could close,
Avengers o'er their bodies rose;
Fresh and furious, fast they fill
The ranks unthinn'd though slaughter'd still;
And faint the weary Christians wax
Before the still renew'd attacks:
And now the Othmans gain the gate;
Still resists its iron weight,
And still,all deadly aim'd and hot,
From every crevice comes the shot;
From every shatter'd window pour
The volleys of the sulphurous shower:
But the portal wavering grows and weak---
The iron yields, the hinges creak ---
It bends --- it falls --- and all is o'er;
Lost Corinth may resist no more !

XXX
Darkly, sternly, and all alone,
Minotti stood o'er the altar-stone:
Madonna's face upon him shone,
Painted in heavenly hues above,
With eyes of light and looks of love;
And placed upon that holy shrine
To fix our thoughts on things divine,
When pictured there, we kneeling see
Her, and the boy-God on her knee,
Smiling sweetly on each prayer
To heaven, as if to waft it there.
Still she smiled; ;even now she smiles,
Though slaughter streams along her aisles:
Minotti lifted his aged eye,
And made the sign of a cross with a sigh,
Then seized a torch which blazed thereby;
And still he stood, while with steel and flame
Inward and onward the Mussulman came.

XXXI
The vaults beneath the mosaic stone
Contain'd the dead of ages gone;
Their names were on the graven floor,
But now illegible with gore;
The carved crests, and curious hues
The varied marble's vein diffuse,
Were smear'd and slippery, --- stain'd, and strown
With broken swords, and helms o'erthrown:
There were dead above, and the dead below
Lay cold in many a coffin'd row;
You might see them piled in sable state,
By a pale light through a gloomy grate;
But War had enter'd their dark caves,
And stored along the vaulted graves
Her sulphurous treasures, thickly spread
In masses by the fleshless dead:
Here, throughout the siege had been
The Christians' chiefest magazine;
To these a late form'd train now led,
Minotti's last and stern resource
Against the foe's o'erwhelming force.

XXXII
The foe came on, and few remain
To strive, and those must strive in vain:
For lack of further lives, to slake
The thirst of vengeance now awake,
With barbarous blows they gash the dead,
And lop the already lifeless head,
And fell the statues from their niche
And spoil the shrines of offerings rich,
And from each other's rude hands wrest
The silver vessels saints had bless'd.
To the high altar on they go;
Oh, but it made a glorious show !
On its table still behold
The cup of consecrated gold;
Massy and deep, a glittering prize,
Brightly it sparkles to plunders' eyes:
That morn it held the holy wine,
Converted by Christ to his blood so divine,
Which his worshippers drank at the break of day,
To shrive their souls ere they join'd in the fray.
Still a few drops within it lay:
And round the sacred table glow
Twelve lofty lamps, in splendid row,
From the purest metal cast;
A spoil --- the richest, and the last.

XXXIII
So near they came, the nearest stretch'd
To grasp the spoil he almost reach'd,
When Old Minotti's hand
Touch'd with the torch the train ---
'Tis fired !
Spire, vaults, the shrine, the spoil, the slain,
The turban'd victors, the Christian band,
All that of living or dead remain,
Hurl'd on high with the shiver'd fane,
In one wild roar expired !
The shatter'd town --- the walls thrown down ---
The waves a moment backward bent ---
The hills that shake, although unrent,
As if an earthquake pass'd ---
The thousand shapeless things all driven
In cloud and flame athwart the heaven,
By that tremendous blast ---
Proclaim'd the desperate conflict o'er
On that too long afflicted shore:
Up to the sky like rockets go
All that mingled there below:
Many a tall and goodly man,
Scorch'd and shrivell'd to a span,
When he fell to earth again
Like a cinder strew'd the plain;
Down the ashes shower like rain;
Some fell in the gulf, which received the sprinkles
With a thousand circling wrinkles;
Some fell on the shore, but, far away,
Scatter'd o'er the isthmus lay;
Christian or Moslem, which be they?
Let their mothers see and say !
When in cradled rest they lay,
And each nursing mother smiled
On the sweet sleep of her child,
Little deem'd she such a day
Would rend those tender limbs away.
Not the matrons that them bore
Could discern their offspring more;
That one moment left no trace
More human form or face
Save a scatter'd scalp or bone:
And down came blazing rafters, strown
Around, and many a falling stone,
Deeply dinted in the clay,
All blacken'd there and reeking lay.
All the living things that heard
That deadly earth-shock disappear'd:
The wild birds flew; the wild dogs fled,
And howling left the unburied dead;
The camels from their keepers broke;
The distant steer forsook the yoke ---
The nearer steed plunged o'er the plain,
And burst his girth, and tore his rein;
The bull-frog's note, from out the marsh,
Deep-mouth'd arose, and doubly harsh;
The wolves yell'd on the cavern'd hill
Where echo roll'd in thunder still;
The jackals' troop, in gather'd cry,
Bay'd from afar complainingly,
With a mix'd and mournful sound,
Like --- crying babe, and beaten hound:
With sudden wing, and ruffled breast,
The eagle left his rocky nest,
And mounted nearer to the sun,
The clouds beneath him seem'd so dun;
Their smoke assail'd his startled beak,
And made him higher soar and shriek---
Thus was Corinth lost and won !

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Pharsalia - Book VI: The Fight Near Dyrhachium. Scaeva's Exploits. The Witch Of Thessalia.

Now that the chiefs with minds intent on fight
Had drawn their armies near upon the hills
And all the gods beheld their chosen pair,
Caesar, the Grecian towns despising, scorned
To reap the glory of successful war
Save at his kinsman's cost. In all his prayers
He seeks that moment, fatal to the world,
When shall be cast the die, to win or lose,
And all his fortune hang upon the throw.
Thrice he drew out his troops, his eagles thrice,
Demanding battle; thus to increase the woe
Of Latium, prompt as ever: but his foes,
Proof against every art, refused to leave
The rampart of their camp. Then marching swift
By hidden path between the wooded fields
He seeks, and hopes to seize, Dyrrhachium's fort;
But Magnus, speeding by the ocean marge,
First camped on Petra's slopes, a rocky hill
Thus by the natives named. From thence he keeps
Watch o'er the fortress of Corinthian birth
Which by its towers alone without a guard
Was safe against a siege. No hand of man
In ancient days built up her lofty wall,
No hammer rang upon her massive stones:
Not all the works of war, nor Time himself
Shall undermine her. Nature's hand has raised
Her adamantine rocks and hedged her in
With bulwarks girded by the foamy main:
And but for one short bridge of narrow earth
Dyrrhachium were an island. Steep and fierce,
Dreaded of sailors, are the cliffs that bear
Her walls; and tempests, howling from the west,
Toss up the raging main upon the roofs;
And homes and temples tremble at the shock.

Thirsting for battle and with hopes inflamed
Here Caesar hastes, with distant rampart lines
Seeking unseen to coop his foe within,
Though spread in spacious camp upon the hills.
With eagle eye he measures out the land
Meet to be compassed, nor content with turf
Fit for a hasty mound, he bids his troops
Tear from the quarries many a giant rock:
And spoils the dwellings of the Greeks, and drags
Their walls asunder for his own. Thus rose
A mighty barrier which no ram could burst
Nor any ponderous machine of war.
Mountains are cleft, and level through the hills
The work of Caesar strides: wide yawns the moat,
Forts show their towers rising on the heights,
And in vast circle forests are enclosed
And groves and spacious lands, and beasts of prey,
As in a line of toils. Pompeius lacked
Nor field nor forage in th' encircled span
Nor room to move his camp; nay, rivers rose
Within, and ran their course and reached the sea;
And Caesar wearied ere he saw the whole,
And daylight failed him. Let the ancient tale
Attribute to the labours of the gods
The walls of Ilium: let the fragile bricks
Which compass in great Babylon, amaze
The fleeting Parthian. Here a larger space
Than those great cities which Orontes swift
And Tigris' stream enclose, or that which boasts
In Eastern climes, the lordly palaces
Fit for Assyria's kings, is closed by walls
Amid the haste and tumult of a war
Forced to completion. Yet this labour huge
Was spent in vain. So many hands had joined
Or Sestos with Abydos, or had tamed
With mighty mole the Hellespontine wave,
Or Corinth from the realm of Pelops' king
Had rent asunder, or had spared each ship
Her voyage round the long Malean cape,
Or had done anything most hard, to change
The world's created surface. Here the war
Was prisoned: blood predestinate to flow
In all the parts of earth; the host foredoomed
To fall in Libya or in Thessaly
Was here: in such small amphitheatre
The tide of civil passion rose and fell.

At first Pompeius knew not: so the hind
Who peaceful tills the mid-Sicilian fields
Hears not Pelorous sounding to the storm;
So billows thunder on Rutupian shores ,
Unheard by distant Caledonia's tribes.
But when he saw the mighty barrier stretch
O'er hill and valley, and enclose the land,
He bade his columns leave their rocky hold
And seize on posts of vantage in the plain;
Thus forcing Caesar to extend his troops
On wider lines; and holding for his own
Such space encompassed as divides from Rome
Aricia, sacred to that goddess chaste
Of old Mycenae; or as Tiber holds
From Rome's high ramparts to the Tuscan sea,
Unless he deviate. No bugle call
Commands an onset, and the darts that fly
Fly though forbidden; but the arm that flings
For proof the lance, at random, here and there
Deals impious slaughter. Weighty care compelled
Each leader to withhold his troops from fight;
For there the weary earth of produce failed
Pressed by Pompeius' steeds, whose horny hoofs
Rang in their gallop on the grassy fields
And killed the succulence. They strengthless lay
Upon the mown expanse, nor pile of straw,
Brought from full barns in place of living grass,
Relieved their craving; shook their panting flanks,
And as they wheeled Death struck his victim down.
Then foul contagion filled the murky air
Whose poisonous weight pressed on them in a cloud
Pestiferous; as in Nesis' isle the breath
Of Styx rolls upwards from the mist-clad rocks;
Or that fell vapour which the caves exhale
From Typhon raging in the depths below.
Then died the soldiers, for the streams they drank
Held yet more poison than the air: the skin
Was dark and rigid, and the fiery plague
Made hard their vitals, and with pitiless tooth
Gnawed at their wasted features, while their eyes
Started from out their sockets, and the head
Drooped for sheer weariness. So the disease
Grew swifter in its strides till scarce was room,
'Twixt life and death, for sickness, and the pest
Slew as it struck its victim, and the dead
Thrust from the tents (such all their burial) lay
Blent with the living. Yet their camp was pitched
Hard by the breezy sea by which might come
All nations' harvests, and the northern wind
Not seldom rolled the murky air away.
Their foe, not vexed with pestilential air
Nor stagnant waters, ample range enjoyed
Upon the spacious uplands: yet as though
In leaguer, famine seized them for its prey.
Scarce were the crops half grown when Caesar saw
How prone they seized upon the food of beasts,
And stripped of leaves the bushes and the groves,
And dragged from roots unknown the doubtful herb.
Thus ate they, starving, all that teeth may bite
Or fire might soften, or might pass their throats
Dry, parched, abraded; food unknown before
Nor placed on tables: while the leaguered foe
Was blessed with plenty.

When Pompeius first
Was pleased to break his bonds and be at large,
No sudden dash he makes on sleeping foe
Unarmed in shade of night; his mighty soul
Scorns such a path to victory. 'Twas his aim,
To lay the turrets low; to mark his track,
By ruin spread afar; and with the sword
To hew a path between his slaughtered foes.
Minucius' turret was the chosen spot
Where groves of trees and thickets gave approach
Safe, unbetrayed by dust.

Up from the fields
Flashed all at once his eagles into sight
And all his trumpets blared. But ere the sword
Could win the battle, on the hostile ranks
Dread panic fell; prone as in death they lay
Where else upright they should withstand the foe;
Nor more availed their valour, and in vain
The cloud of weapons flew, with none to slay.
Then blazing torches rolling pitchy flame
Are hurled, and shaken nod the lofty towers
And threaten ruin, and the bastions groan
Struck by the frequent engine, and the troops
Of Magnus by triumphant eagles led
Stride o'er the rampart, in their front the world.

Yet now that passage which not Caesar's self
Nor thousand valiant squadrons had availed
To rescue from their grasp, one man in arms
Steadfast till death refused them; Scaeva named
This hero soldier: long he served in fight
Waged 'gainst the savage on the banks of Rhone;
And now centurion made, through deeds of blood,
He bore the staff before the marshalled line.
Prone to all wickedness, he little recked
How valourous deeds in civil war may be
Greatest of crimes; and when he saw how turned
His comrades from the war and sought in flight
A refuge, 'Whence,' he cried, 'this impious fear
Unknown to Caesar's armies? Do ye turn
Your backs on death, and are ye not ashamed
Not to be found where slaughtered heroes lie?
Is loyalty too weak? Yet love of fight
Might bid you stand. We are the chosen few
Through whom the foe would break. Unbought by blood
This day shall not be theirs. 'Neath Caesar's eye,
True, death would be more happy; but this boon
Fortune denies: at least my fall shall be
Praised by Pompeius. Break ye with your breasts
Their weapons; blunt the edges of their swords
With throats unyielding. In the distant lines
The dust is seen already, and the sound
Of tumult and of ruin finds the ear
Of Caesar: strike; the victory is ours:
For he shall come who while his soldiers die
Shall make the fortress his.' His voice called forth
The courage that the trumpets failed to rouse
When first they rang: his comrades mustering come
To watch his deeds; and, wondering at the man,
To test if valour thus by foes oppressed,
In narrow space, could hope for aught but death.
But Scaeva standing on the tottering bank
Heaves from the brimming turret on the foe
The corpses of the fallen; the ruined mass
Furnishing weapons to his hands; with beams,
And ponderous stones, nay, with his body threats
His enemies; with poles and stakes he thrusts
The breasts advancing; when they grasp the wall
He lops the arm: rocks crush the foeman's skull
And rive the scalp asunder: fiery bolts
Dashed at another set his hair aflame,
Till rolls the greedy blaze about his eyes
With hideous crackle. As the pile of slain
Rose to the summit of the wall he sprang,
Swift as across the nets a hunted pard,
Above the swords upraised, till in mid throng
Of foes he stood, hemmed in by densest ranks
And ramparted by war; in front and rear,
Where'er he struck, the victor. Now his sword
Blunted with gore congealed no more could wound,
But brake the stricken limb; while every hand
Flung every quivering dart at him alone;
Nor missed their aim, for rang against his shield
Dart after dart unerring, and his helm
In broken fragments pressed upon his brow;
His vital parts were safeguarded by spears
That bristled in his body. Fortune saw
Thus waged a novel combat, for there warred
Against one man an army. Why with darts,
Madmen, assail him and with slender shafts,
'Gainst which his life is proof? Or ponderous stones
This warrior chief shall overwhelm, or bolts
Flung by the twisted thongs of mighty slings.
Let steelshod ram or catapult remove
This champion of the gate. No fragile wall
Stands here for Caesar, blocking with its bulk
Pompeius' way to freedom. Now he trusts
His shield no more, lest his sinister hand,
Idle, give life by shame; and on his breast
Bearing a forest of spears, though spent with toil
And worn with onset, falls upon his foe
And braves alone the wounds of all the war.
Thus may an elephant in Afric wastes,
Oppressed by frequent darts, break those that fall
Rebounding from his horny hide, and shake
Those that find lodgment, while his life within
Lies safe, protected, nor doth spear avail
To reach the fount of blood. Unnumbered wounds
By arrow dealt, or lance, thus fail to slay
This single warrior. But lo! from far
A Cretan archer's shaft, more sure of aim
Than vows could hope for, strikes on Scaeva's brow
To light within his eye: the hero tugs
Intrepid, bursts the nerves, and tears the shaft
Forth with the eyeball, and with dauntless heel
Treads them to dust. Not otherwise a bear
Pannonian, fiercer for the wound received,
Maddened by dart from Libyan thong propelled,
Turns circling on her wound, and still pursues
The weapon fleeing as she whirls around.
Thus, in his rage destroyed, his shapeless face
Stood foul with crimson flow. The victors' shout
Glad to the sky arose; no greater joy
A little blood could give them had they seen
That Caesar's self was wounded. Down he pressed
Deep in his soul the anguish, and, with mien,
No longer bent on fight, submissive cried,
'Spare me, ye citizens; remove the war
Far hence: no weapons now can haste my death;
Draw from my breast the darts, but add no more.
Yet raise me up to place me in the camp
Of Magnus, living: this your gift to him;
No brave man's death my title to renown,
But Caesar's flag deserted.' So he spake.
Unhappy Aulus thought his words were true,
Nor saw within his hand the pointed sword;
And leaping forth in haste to make his own
The prisoner and his arms, in middle throat
Received the lightning blade. By this one death
Rose Scaeva's valour again; and thus he cried,
Such be the punishment of all who thought
Great Scaeva vanquished; if Pompeius seeks
Peace from this reeking sword, low let him lay
At Caesar's feet his standards. Me do ye think
Such as yourselves, and slow to meet the fates?
Your love for Magnus and the Senate's cause
Is less than mine for death.' These were his words;
And dust in columns proved that Caesar came.
Thus was Pompeius' glory spared the stain
Of flight compelled by Scaeva. He, when ceased
The battle, fell, no more by rage of fight,
Or sight of blood out-pouring from his wounds,
Roused to the combat. Fainting there he lay
Upon the shoulders of his comrades borne,
Who him adoring (as though deity
Dwelt in his bosom) for his matchless deeds,
Plucked forth the gory shafts and took his arms
To deck the gods and shield the breast of Mars.
Thrice happy thou with such a name achieved,
Had but the fierce Iberian from thy sword,
Or heavy shielded Teuton, or had fled
The light Cantabrian: with no spoils shalt thou
Adorn the Thunderer's temple, nor upraise
The shout of triumph in the ways of Rome.
For all thy prowess, all thy deeds of pride
Do but prepare her lord.

Nor on this hand
Repulsed, Pompeius idly ceased from war,
Content within his bars; but as the sea
Tireless, which tempests force upon the crag
That breaks it, or which gnaws a mountain side
Some day to fall in ruin on itself;
He sought the turrets nearest to the main,
On double onset bent; nor closely kept
His troops in hand, but on the spacious plain
Spread forth his camp. They joyful leave the tents
And wander at their will. Thus Padus flows
In brimming flood, and foaming at his bounds,
Making whole districts quake; and should the bank
Fail 'neath his swollen waters, all his stream
Breaks forth in swirling eddies over fields
Not his before; some lands are lost, the rest
Gain from his bounty.

Hardly from his tower
Had Caesar seen the fire or known the fight:
And coming found the rampart overthrown,
The dust no longer stirred, the rains cold
As from a battle done. The peace that reigned
There and on Magnus' side, as though men slept,
Their victory won, aroused his angry soul.
Quick he prepares, so that he end their joy
Careless of slaughter or defeat, to rush
With threatening columns on Torquatus' post.
But swift as sailor, by his trembling mast
Warned of Circeian tempest, furls his sails,
So swift Torquatus saw, and prompt to wage
The war more closely, he withdrew his men
Within a narrower wall.

Now past the trench
Were Caesar's companies, when from the hills
Pompeius hurled his host upon their ranks
Shut in, and hampered. Not so much o'erwhelmed
As Caesar's soldiers is the hind who dwells
On Etna's slopes, when blows the southern wind,
And all the mountain pours its cauldrons forth
Upon the vale; and huge Enceladus
Writhing beneath his load spouts o'er the plains
A blazing torrent.

Blinded by the dust,
Encircled, vanquished, ere the fight, they fled
In cloud of terror on their rearward foe,
So rushing on their fates. Thus had the war
Shed its last drop of blood and peace ensued,
But Magnus suffered not, and held his troops.
Back from the battle.

Thou, oh Rome, had'st been
Free, happy, mistress of thy laws and rights
Were Sulla here. Now shalt thou ever grieve
That in his crowning crime, to have met in fight
A pious kinsman, Caesar's vantage lay.
Oh tragic destiny! Nor Munda's fight
Hispania had wept, nor Libya mourned
Encrimsoned Utica, nor Nilus' stream,
With blood unspeakable polluted, borne
A nobler corse than her Egyptian kings:
Nor Juba lain unburied on the sands,
Nor Scipio with his blood outpoured appeased
The ghosts of Carthage; nor the blameless life
Of Cato ended: and Pharsalia's name
Had then been blotted from the book of fate.

But Caesar left the region where his arms
Had found the deities averse, and marched
His shattered columns to Thessalian lands.
Then to Pompeius came (whose mind was bent
To follow Caesar wheresoe'er he fled)
His captains, striving to persuade their chief
To seek Ausonia, his native land,
Now freed from foes. 'Ne'er will I pass,' he said,
'My country's limit, nor revisit Rome
Like Caesar, at the head of banded hosts.
Hesperia when the war began was mine;
Mine, had I chosen in our country's shrines,
In midmost forum of her capital,
To join the battle. So that banished far
Be war from Rome, I'll cross the torrid zone
Or those for ever frozen Scythian shores.
What! shall my victory rob thee of the peace
I gave thee by my flight? Rather than thou
Should'st feel the evils of this impious war,
Let Caesar deem thee his.' Thus said, his course
He turned towards the rising of the sun,
And following devious paths, through forests wide,
Made for Emathia, the land by fate
Foredoomed to see the issue.

Thessalia on that side where Titan first
Raises the wintry day, by Ossa's rocks
Is prisoned in: but in th' advancing year
When higher in the vault his chariot rides
'Tis Pelion that meets the morning rays.
And when beside the Lion's flames he drives
The middle course, Othrys with woody top
Screens his chief ardour. On the hither side
Pindus receives the breezes of the west
And as the evening falls brings darkness in.
There too Olympus, at whose foot who dwells
Nor fears the north nor sees the shining bear.
Between these mountains hemmed, in ancient time
The fields were marsh, for Tempe's pass not yet
Was cleft, to give an exit to the streams
That filled the plain: but when Alcides' hand
Smote Ossa from Olympus at a blow,
And Nereus wondered at the sudden flood
Of waters to the main, then on the shore
(Would it had slept for ever 'neath the deep)
Seaborn Achilles' home Pharsalus rose;
And Phylace whence sailed that ship of old
Whose keel first touched upon the beach of Troy;
And Dorion mournful for the Muses' ire
On Thamyris vanquished: Trachis; Melibe
Strong in the shafts of Hercules, the price
Of that most awful torch; Larissa's hold
Potent of yore; and Argos, famous erst,
O'er which men pass the ploughshare: and the spot
Fabled as Echionian Thebes, where once
Agave bore in exile to the pyre
(Grieving 'twas all she had) the head and neck
Of Pentheus massacred. The lake set free
Flowed forth in many rivers: to the west
Aeas, a gentle stream; nor stronger flows
The sire of Isis ravished from his arms;
And Achelous, rival for the hand
Of Oeneus' daughter, rolls his earthy flood
To silt the shore beside the neighbouring isles.
Evenus purpled by the Centaur's blood
Wanders through Calydon: in the Malian Gulf
Thy rapids fall, Spercheius: pure the wave
With which Amphrysos irrigates the meads
Where once Apollo served: Anaurus flows
Breathing no vapour forth; no humid air
Ripples his face: and whatever stream,
Nameless itself, to Ocean gives its waves
Through thee, Peneus: whirled in eddies foams
Apidanus; Enipeus lingers on
Swift only when fresh streams his volume swell:
And thus Asopus takes his ordered course,
Phoenix and Melas; but Eurotas keeps
His stream aloof from that with which he flows,
Peneus, gliding on his top as though
Upon the channel. Fable says that, sprung
From darkest pools of Styx, with common floods
He scorns to mingle, mindful of his source,
So that the gods above may fear him still.

Soon as were sped the rivers, Boebian ploughs
Dark with its riches broke the virgin soil;
Then came Lelegians to press the share,
And Dolopes and sons of Oeolus
By whom the glebe was furrowed. Steed-renowned
Magnetians dwelt there, and the Minyan race
Who smote the sounding billows with the oar.
There in the cavern from the pregnant cloud
Ixion's sons found birth, the Centaur brood
Half beast, half human: Monychus who broke
The stubborn rocks of Pholoe, Rhoetus fierce
Hurling from Oeta's top gigantic elms
Which northern storms could hardly overturn;
Pholus, Alcides' host: Nessus who bore
The Queen across Evenus' waves, to feel
The deadly arrow for his shameful deed;
And aged Chiron who with wintry star
Against the huger Scorpion draws his bow.
Here sparkled on the land the warrior seed;
Here leaped the charger from Thessalian rocks
Struck by the trident of the Ocean King,
Omen of dreadful war; here first he learned,
Champing the bit and foaming at the curb,
Yet to obey his lord. From yonder shore
The keel of pine first floated, and bore men
To dare the perilous chance of seas unknown:
And here Ionus ruler of the land
First from the furnace molten masses drew
Of iron and brass; here first the hammer fell
To weld them, shapeless; here in glowing stream
Ran silver forth and gold, soon to receive
The minting stamp. 'Twas thus that money came
Whereby men count their riches, cause accursed
Of warfare. Hence came down that Python huge
On Cirrha: hence the laurel wreath which crowns
The Pythian victor: here Aloeus' sons
Gigantic rose against the gods, what time
Pelion had almost touched the stars supreme,
And Ossa's loftier peak amid the sky
Opposing, barred the constellations' way.

When in this fated land the chiefs had placed
Their several camps, foreboding of the end
Now fast approaching, all men's thoughts were turned
Upon the final issue of the war.
And as the hour drew near, the coward minds
Trembling beneath the shadow of the fate
Now hanging o'er them, deemed disaster near:
While some took heart; yet doubted what might fall,
In hope and fear alternate. 'Mid the throng
Sextus, unworthy son of worthy sire
Who soon upon the waves that Scylla guards,
Sicilian pirate, exile from his home,
Stained by his deeds of shame the fights he won,
Could bear delay no more; his feeble soul,
Sick of uncertain fate, by fear compelled,
Forecast the future: yet consulted not
The shrine of Delos nor the Pythian caves;
Nor was he satisfied to learn the sound
Of Jove's brass cauldron, 'mid Dodona's oaks,
By her primaeval fruits the nurse of men:
Nor sought he sages who by flight of birds,
Or watching with Assyrian care the stars
And fires of heaven, or by victims slain,
May know the fates to come; nor any source
Lawful though secret. For to him was known
That which excites the hate of gods above;
Magicians' lore, the savage creed of Dis
And all the shades; and sad with gloomy rites
Mysterious altars. For his frenzied soul
Heaven knew too little. And the spot itself
Kindled his madness, for hard by there dwelt
The brood of Haemon whom no storied witch
Of fiction e'er transcended; all their art
In things most strange and most incredible;
There were Thessalian rocks with deadly herbs
Thick planted, sensible to magic chants,
Funereal, secret: and the land was full
Of violence to the gods: the Queenly guest
From Colchis gathered here the fatal roots
That were not in her store: hence vain to heaven
Rise impious incantations, all unheard;
For deaf the ears divine: save for one voice
Which penetrates the furthest depths of airs
Compelling e'en th' unwilling deities
To hearken to its accents. Not the care
Of the revolving sky or starry pole
Can call them from it ever. Once the sound
Of those dread tones unspeakable has reached
The constellations, then nor Babylon
Nor secret Memphis, though they open wide
The shrines of ancient magic and entreat
The gods, could draw them from the fires that smoke
Upon the altars of far Thessaly.
To hearts of flint those incantations bring
Love, strange, unnatural; the old man's breast
Burns with illicit fire. Nor lies the power
In harmful cup nor in the juicy pledge
Of love maternal from the forehead drawn;
Charmed forth by spells alone the mind decays,
By poisonous drugs unharmed. With woven threads
Crossed in mysterious fashion do they bind
Those whom no passion born of beauteous form
Or loving couch unites. All things on earth
Change at their bidding; night usurps the day;
The heavens disobey their wonted laws;
At that dread hymn the Universe stands still;
And Jove while urging the revolving wheels
Wonders they move not. Torrents are outpoured
Beneath a burning sun; and thunder roars
Uncaused by Jupiter. From their flowing locks
Vapours immense shall issue at their call;
When falls the tempest seas shall rise and foam
Moved by their spell; though powerless the breeze
To raise the billows. Ships against the wind
With bellying sails move onward. From the rock
Hangs motionless the torrent: rivers run
Uphill; the summer heat no longer swells
Nile in his course; Maeander's stream is straight;
Slow Rhone is quickened by the rush of Saone;
Hills dip their heads and topple to the plain;
Olympus sees his clouds drift overhead;
And sunless Scythia's sempiternal snows
Melt in mid-winter; the inflowing tides
Driven onward by the moon, at that dread chant
Ebb from their course; earth's axes, else unmoved,
Have trembled, and the force centripetal
Has tottered, and the earth's compacted frame
Struck by their voice has gaped, till through the void
Men saw the moving sky. All beasts most fierce
And savage fear them, yet with deadly aid
Furnish the witches' arts. Tigers athirst
For blood, and noble lions on them fawn
With bland caresses: serpents at their word
Uncoil their circles, and extended glide
Along the surface of the frosty field;
The viper's severed body joins anew;
And dies the snake by human venom slain.

Whence comes this labour on the gods, compelled
To hearken to the magic chant and spells,
Nor daring to despise them? Doth some bond
Control the deities? Is their pleasure so,
Or must they listen? and have silent threats
Prevailed, or piety unseen received
So great a guerdon? Against all the gods
Is this their influence, or on one alone
Who to his will constrains the universe,
Himself constrained? Stars most in yonder clime
Shoot headlong from the zenith; and the moon
Gliding serene upon her nightly course
Is shorn of lustre by their poisonous chant,
Dimmed by dark earthly fires, as though our orb
Shadowed her brother's radiance and barred
The light bestowed by heaven; nor freshly shines
Until descending nearer to the earth
She sheds her baneful drops upon the mead.

These sinful rites and these her sister's songs
Abhorred Erichtho, fiercest of the race,
Spurned for their piety, and yet viler art
Practised in novel form. To her no home
Beneath a sheltering roof her direful head
Thus to lay down were crime: deserted tombs
Her dwelling-place, from which, darling of hell,
She dragged the dead. Nor life nor gods forbad
But that she knew the secret homes of Styx
And learned to hear the whispered voice of ghosts
At dread mysterious meetings. Never sun
Shed his pure light upon that haggard cheek
Pale with the pallor of the shades, nor looked
Upon those locks unkempt that crowned her brow.
In starless nights of tempest crept the hag
Out from her tomb to seize the levin bolt;
Treading the harvest with accursed foot
She burned the fruitful growth, and with her breath
Poisoned the air else pure. No prayer she breathed
Nor supplication to the gods for help
Nor knew the pulse of entrails as do men
Who worship. Funeral pyres she loves to light
And snatch the incense from the flaming tomb.
The gods at her first utterance grant her prayer
For things unlawful, lest they hear again
Its fearful accents: men whose limbs were quick
With vital power she thrust within the grave
Despite the fates who owed them years to come:
The funeral reversed brought from the tomb
Those who were dead no longer; and the pyre
Yields to her shameless clutch still smoking dust
And bones enkindled, and the torch which held
Some grieving sire but now, with fragments mixed
In sable smoke and ceremental cloths
Singed with the redolent fire that burned the dead.
But those who lie within a stony cell
Untouched by fire, whose dried and mummied frames
No longer know corruption, limb by limb
Venting her rage she tears, the bloodless eyes
Drags from their cavities, and mauls the nail
Upon the withered hand: she gnaws the noose
By which some wretch has died, and from the tree
Drags down a pendent corpse, its members torn
Asunder to the winds: forth from the palms
Wrenches the iron, and from the unbending bond
Hangs by her teeth, and with her hands collects
The slimy gore which drips upon the limbs.

Where lay a corpse upon the naked earth
On ravening birds and beasts of prey the hag
Kept watch, nor marred by knife or hand her spoil,
Till on his victim seized some nightly wolf;
Then dragged the morsel from his thirsty fangs;
Nor fears she murder, if her rites demand
Blood from the living, or some banquet fell
Requires the panting entrail. Pregnant wombs
Yield to her knife the infant to be placed
On flaming altars: and whene'er she needs
Some fierce undaunted ghost, he fails not her
Who has all deaths in use. Her hand has chased
From smiling cheeks the rosy bloom of life;
And with sinister hand from dying youth
Has shorn the fatal lock: and holding oft
In foul embraces some departed friend
Severed the head, and through the ghastly lips,
Held by her own apart, some impious tale
Dark with mysterious horror hath conveyed
Down to the Stygian shades.

When rumour brought
Her name to Sextus, in the depth of night,
While Titan's chariot beneath our earth
Wheeled on his middle course, he took his way
Through fields deserted; while a faithful band,
His wonted ministers in deeds of guilt,
Seeking the hag 'mid broken sepulchres,
Beheld her seated on the crags afar
Where Haemus falls towards Pharsalia's plain.
There was she proving for her gods and priests
Words still unknown, and framing numbered chants
Of dire and novel purpose: for she feared
Lest Mars might stray into another world,
And spare Thessalian soil the blood ere long
To flow in torrents; and she thus forbade
Philippi's field, polluted with her song,
Thick with her poisonous distilments sown,
To let the war pass by. Such deaths, she hopes,
Soon shall be hers! the blood of all the world
Shed for her use! to her it shall be given
To sever from their trunks the heads of kings,
Plunder the ashes of the noble dead,
Italia's bravest, and in triumph add
The mightiest warriors to her host of shades.
And now what spoils from Magnus' tombless corse
Her hand may snatch, on which of Caesar's limbs
She soon may pounce, she makes her foul forecast
And eager gloats.

To whom the coward son
Of Magnus thus: 'Thou greatest ornament
Of Haemon's daughters, in whose power it lies
Or to reveal the fates, or from its course
To turn the future, be it mine to know
By thy sure utterance to what final end
Fortune now guides the issue. Not the least
Of all the Roman host on yonder plain
Am I, but Magnus' most illustrious son,
Lord of the world or heir to death and doom.
The unknown affrights me: I can firmly face
The certain terror. Bid my destiny
Yield to thy power the dark and hidden end,
And let me fall foreknowing. From the gods
Extort the truth, or, if thou spare the gods,
Force it from hell itself. Fling back the gates
That bar th' Elysian fields; let Death confess
Whom from our ranks he seeks. No humble task
I bring, but worthy of Erichtho's skill
Of such a struggle fought for such a prize
To search and tell the issue.'

Then the witch
Pleased that her impious fame was noised abroad
Thus made her answer: 'If some lesser fates
Thy wish had been to change, against their wish
It had been easy to compel the gods
To its accomplishment. My art has power
When of one man the constellations press
The speedy death, to compass a delay;
And mine it is, though every star decrees
A ripe old age, by mystic herbs to shear
The life midway. But should some purpose set
From the beginning of the universe,
And all the labouring fortunes of mankind,
Be brought in question, then Thessalian art
Bows to the power supreme. But if thou be
Content to know the issue pre-ordained,
That shall be swiftly thine; for earth and air
And sea and space and Rhodopaean crags
Shall speak the future. Yet it easiest seems
Where death in these Thessalian fields abounds
To raise a single corpse. From dead men's lips
Scarce cold, in fuller accents falls the voice;
Not from some mummied flame in accents shrill
Uncertain to the ear.'

Thus spake the hag
And through redoubled night, a squalid veil
Swathing her pallid features, stole among
Unburied carcases. Fast fled the wolves,
The carrion birds with maw unsatisfied
Relaxed their talons, as with creeping step
She sought her prophet. Firm must be the flesh
As yet, though cold in death, and firm the lungs
Untouched by wound. Now in the balance hung
The fates of slain unnumbered; had she striven
Armies to raise and order back to life
Whole ranks of warriors, the laws had failed
Of Erebus; and, summoned up from Styx,
Its ghostly tenants had obeyed her call,
And rising fought once more. At length the witch
Picks out her victim with pierced throat agape
Fit for her purpose. Gripped by pitiless hook
O'er rocks she drags him to the mountain cave
Accursed by her fell rites, that shall restore
The dead man's life.

Close to the hidden brink
The land that girds the precipice of hell
Sinks towards the depths: with ever falling leaves
A wood o'ershadows, and a spreading yew
Casts shade impenetrable. Foul decay
Fills all the space, and in the deep recess
Darkness unbroken, save by chanted spells,
Reigns ever. Not where gape the misty jaws
Of caverned Taenarus, the gloomy bound
Of either world, through which the nether kings
Permit the passage of the dead to earth,
So poisonous, mephitic, hangs the air.
Nay, though the witch had power to call the shades
Forth from the depths, 'twas doubtful if the cave
Were not a part of hell. Discordant hues
Flamed on her garb as by a fury worn;
Bare was her visage, and upon her brow
Dread vipers hissed, beneath her streaming locks
In sable coils entwined. But when she saw
The youth's companions trembling, and himself
With eyes cast down, with visage as of death,
Thus spake the witch: 'Forbid your craven souls
These fears to cherish: soon returning life
This frame shall quicken, and in tones which reach
Even the timorous ear shall speak the man.
If I have power the Stygian lakes to show,
The bank that sounds with fire, the fury band,
And giants lettered, and the hound that shakes
Bristling with heads of snakes his triple head,
What fear is this that cringes at the sight
Of timid shivering shades?'

Then to her prayer.
First through his gaping bosom blood she pours
Still fervent, washing from his wounds the gore.
Then copious poisons from the moon distils
Mixed with all monstrous things which Nature's pangs
Bring to untimely birth; the froth from dogs
Stricken with madness, foaming at the stream;
A lynx's entrails: and the knot that grows
Upon the fell hyaena; flesh of stags
Fed upon serpents; and the sucking fish
Which holds the vessel back though eastern winds
Make bend the canvas; dragon's eyes; and stones
That sound beneath the brooding eagle's wings.
Nor Araby's viper, nor the ocean snake
Who in the Red Sea waters guards the shell,
Are wanting; nor the slough on Libyan sands
By horned reptile cast; nor ashes fail
Snatched from an altar where the Phoenix died.
And viler poisons many, which herself
Has made, she adds, whereto no name is given:
Pestiferous leaves pregnant with magic chants
And blades of grass which in their primal growth
Her cursed mouth had slimed. Last came her voice
More potent than all herbs to charm the gods
Who rule in Lethe. Dissonant murmurs first
And sounds discordant from the tongues of men
She utters, scarce articulate: the bay
Of wolves, and barking as of dogs, were mixed
With that fell chant; the screech of nightly owl
Raising her hoarse complaint; the howl of beast
And sibilant hiss of snake -- all these were there;
And more -- the waft of waters on the rock,
The sound of forests and the thunder peal.
Such was her voice; but soon in clearer tones
Reaching to Tartarus, she raised her song:
'Ye awful goddesses, avenging power
Of Hell upon the damned, and Chaos huge
Who striv'st to mix innumerable worlds,
And Pluto, king of earth, whose weary soul
Grieves at his godhead; Styx; and plains of bliss
We may not enter: and thou, Proserpine,
Hating thy mother and the skies above,
My patron goddess, last and lowest form
Of Hecate through whom the shades and I
Hold silent converse; warder of the gate
Who castest human offal to the dog:
Ye sisters who shall spin the threads again;
And thou, O boatman of the burning wave,
Now wearied of the shades from hell to me
Returning, hear me if with voice I cry
Abhorred, polluted; if the flesh of man
Hath ne'er been absent from my proffered song,
Flesh washed with brains still quivering; if the child
Whose severed head I placed upon the dish
But for this hand had lived -- a listening ear
Lend to my supplication! From the caves
Hid in the innermost recess of hell
I claim no soul long banished from the light.
For one but now departed, lingering still
Upon the brink of Orcus, is my prayer.
Grant (for ye may) that listening to the spell
Once more he seek his dust; and let the shade
Of this our soldier perished (if the war
Well at your hands has merited), proclaim
The destiny of Magnus to his son.'

Such prayers she uttered; then, her foaming lips
And head uplifting, present saw the ghost.
Hard by he stood, beside the hated corpse
His ancient prison, and loathed to enter in.
There was the yawning chest where fell the blow
That was his death; and yet the gift supreme
Of death, his right, (Ah, wretch!) was reft away.
Angered at Death the witch, and at the pause
Conceded by the fates, with living snake
Scourges the moveless corse; and on the dead
She barks through fissures gaping to her song,
Breaking the silence of their gloomy home:
'Tisiphone, Megaera, heed ye not?
Flies not this wretched soul before your whips
The void of Erebus? By your very names,
She-dogs of hell, I'll call you to the day,
Not to return; through sepulchres and death
Your gaoler: from funereal urns and tombs
I'll chase you forth. And thou, too, Hecate,
Who to the gods in comely shape and mien,
Not that of Erebus, appearst, henceforth
Wasted and pallid as thou art in hell

At my command shalt come. I'll noise abroad
The banquet that beneath the solid earth
Holds thee, thou maid of Enna; by what bond
Thou lov'st night's King, by what mysterious stain
Infected, so that Ceres fears from hell
To call her daughter. And for thee, base king,
Titan shall pierce thy caverns with his rays
And sudden day shall smite thee. Do ye hear?
Or shall I summon to mine aid that god
At whose dread name earth trembles; who can look
Unflinching on the Gorgon's head, and drive
The Furies with his scourge, who holds the depths
Ye cannot fathom, and above whose haunts
Ye dwell supernal; who by waves of Styx
Forswears himself unpunished?'

Then the blood
Grew warm and liquid, and with softening touch
Cherished the stiffened wounds and filled the veins,
Till throbbed once more the slow returning pulse
And every fibre trembled, as with death
Life was commingled. Then, not limb by limb,
With toil and strain, but rising at a bound
Leaped from the earth erect the living man.
Fierce glared his eyes uncovered, and the life
Was dim, and still upon his face remained
The pallid hues of hardly parted death.
Amazement seized upon him, to the earth
Brought back again: but from his lips tight drawn
No murmur issued; he had power alone
When questioned to reply. 'Speak,' quoth the hag,
'As I shall bid thee; great shall be thy gain
If but thou answerest truly, freed for aye
From all Haemonian art. Such burial place
Shall now be thine, and on thy funeral pyre
Such fatal woods shall burn, such chant shall sound,
That to thy ghost no more or magic song
Or spell shall reach, and thy Lethaean sleep
Shall never more be broken in a death
From me received anew: for such reward
Think not this second life enforced in vain.
Obscure may be the answers of the gods
By priestess spoken at the holy shrine;
But whose braves the oracles of death
In search of truth, should gain a sure response.
Then speak, I pray thee. Let the hidden fates
Tell through thy voice the mysteries to come.'

Thus spake she, and her words by mystic force
Gave him his answer; but with gloomy mien,
And tears swift flowing, thus he made reply:
'Called from the margin of the silent stream
I saw no fateful sisters spin the threads.
Yet know I this, that 'mid the Roman shades
Reigns fiercest discord; and this impious war
Destroys the peace that ruled the fields of death.
Elysian meads and deeps of Tartarus
In paths diverse the Roman chieftains leave
And thus disclose the fates. The blissful ghosts
Bear visages of sorrow. Sire and son
The Decii, who gave themselves to death
In expiation of their country's doom,
And great Camillus, wept; and Sulla's shade
Complained of fortune. Scipio bewailed
The scion of his race about to fall
In sands of Libya: Cato, greatest foe
To Carthage, grieves for that indignant soul
Which shall disdain to serve. Brutus alone
In all the happy ranks I smiling saw,
First consul when the kings were thrust from Rome.
The chains were fallen from boastful Catiline.
Him too I saw rejoicing, and the pair
Of Marii, and Cethegus' naked arm.
The Drusi, heroes of the people, joyed,
In laws immoderate; and the famous pair
Of greatly daring brothers: guilty bands
By bars eternal shut within the doors
That close the prison of hell, applaud the fates,
Claiming the plains Elysian: and the King
Throws wide his pallid halls, makes hard the points
Of craggy rocks, and forges iron chains,
The victor's punishment. But take with thee
This comfort, youth, that there a calm abode,
And peaceful, waits thy father and his house.
Nor let the glory of a little span
Disturb thy boding heart: the hour shall come
When all the chiefs shall meet. Shrink not from death,
But glowing in the greatness of your souls,
E'en from your humble sepulchres descend,
And tread beneath your feet, in pride of place,
The wandering phantoms of the gods of Rome.
Which of the chiefs by Tiber's yellow stream,
And which by Nile shall rest (the leaders' fate)
This fight decides, no more. Nor seek to know
From me thy fortunes: for the fates in time
Shall give thee all thy due; and thy great sire,
A surer prophet, in Sicilian fields
Shall speak thy future -- doubting even he
What regions of the world thou should'st avoid
And what should'st seek. O miserable race!
Europe and Asia and Libya's plains,
Which saw your conquests, now shall hold alike
Your burial-place -- nor has the earth for you
A happier land than this.'

His task performed,
He stands in mournful guise, with silent look
Asking for death again; yet could not die
Till mystic herb and magic chant prevailed.
For nature's law, once used, had power no more
To slay the corpse and set the spirit free.
With plenteous wood she builds the funeral pyre
To which the dead man comes: then as the flames
Seized on his form outstretched, the youth and witch
Together sought the camp; and as the dawn
Now streaked the heavens, by the hag's command
The day was stayed till Sextus reached his tent,
And mist and darkness veiled his safe return.

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Merlin And Vivien

A storm was coming, but the winds were still,
And in the wild woods of Broceliande,
Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old
It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,
At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.

For he that always bare in bitter grudge
The slights of Arthur and his Table, Mark
The Cornish King, had heard a wandering voice,
A minstrel of Caerlon by strong storm
Blown into shelter at Tintagil, say
That out of naked knightlike purity
Sir Lancelot worshipt no unmarried girl
But the great Queen herself, fought in her name,
Sware by her--vows like theirs, that high in heaven
Love most, but neither marry, nor are given
In marriage, angels of our Lord's report.

He ceased, and then--for Vivien sweetly said
(She sat beside the banquet nearest Mark),
'And is the fair example followed, Sir,
In Arthur's household?'--answered innocently:

'Ay, by some few--ay, truly--youths that hold
It more beseems the perfect virgin knight
To worship woman as true wife beyond
All hopes of gaining, than as maiden girl.
They place their pride in Lancelot and the Queen.
So passionate for an utter purity
Beyond the limit of their bond, are these,
For Arthur bound them not to singleness.
Brave hearts and clean! and yet--God guide them--young.'

Then Mark was half in heart to hurl his cup
Straight at the speaker, but forbore: he rose
To leave the hall, and, Vivien following him,
Turned to her: 'Here are snakes within the grass;
And you methinks, O Vivien, save ye fear
The monkish manhood, and the mask of pure
Worn by this court, can stir them till they sting.'

And Vivien answered, smiling scornfully,
'Why fear? because that fostered at THY court
I savour of thy--virtues? fear them? no.
As Love, if Love is perfect, casts out fear,
So Hate, if Hate is perfect, casts out fear.
My father died in battle against the King,
My mother on his corpse in open field;
She bore me there, for born from death was I
Among the dead and sown upon the wind--
And then on thee! and shown the truth betimes,
That old true filth, and bottom of the well
Where Truth is hidden. Gracious lessons thine
And maxims of the mud! "This Arthur pure!
Great Nature through the flesh herself hath made
Gives him the lie! There is no being pure,
My cherub; saith not Holy Writ the same?"--
If I were Arthur, I would have thy blood.
Thy blessing, stainless King! I bring thee back,
When I have ferreted out their burrowings,
The hearts of all this Order in mine hand--
Ay--so that fate and craft and folly close,
Perchance, one curl of Arthur's golden beard.
To me this narrow grizzled fork of thine
Is cleaner-fashioned--Well, I loved thee first,
That warps the wit.'

Loud laughed the graceless Mark,
But Vivien, into Camelot stealing, lodged
Low in the city, and on a festal day
When Guinevere was crossing the great hall
Cast herself down, knelt to the Queen, and wailed.

'Why kneel ye there? What evil hath ye wrought?
Rise!' and the damsel bidden rise arose
And stood with folded hands and downward eyes
Of glancing corner, and all meekly said,
'None wrought, but suffered much, an orphan maid!
My father died in battle for thy King,
My mother on his corpse--in open field,
The sad sea-sounding wastes of Lyonnesse--
Poor wretch--no friend!--and now by Mark the King
For that small charm of feature mine, pursued--
If any such be mine--I fly to thee.
Save, save me thou--Woman of women--thine
The wreath of beauty, thine the crown of power,
Be thine the balm of pity, O Heaven's own white
Earth-angel, stainless bride of stainless King--
Help, for he follows! take me to thyself!
O yield me shelter for mine innocency
Among thy maidens!

Here her slow sweet eyes
Fear-tremulous, but humbly hopeful, rose
Fixt on her hearer's, while the Queen who stood
All glittering like May sunshine on May leaves
In green and gold, and plumed with green replied,
'Peace, child! of overpraise and overblame
We choose the last. Our noble Arthur, him
Ye scarce can overpraise, will hear and know.
Nay--we believe all evil of thy Mark--
Well, we shall test thee farther; but this hour
We ride a-hawking with Sir Lancelot.
He hath given us a fair falcon which he trained;
We go to prove it. Bide ye here the while.'

She past; and Vivien murmured after 'Go!
I bide the while.' Then through the portal-arch
Peering askance, and muttering broken-wise,
As one that labours with an evil dream,
Beheld the Queen and Lancelot get to horse.

'Is that the Lancelot? goodly--ay, but gaunt:
Courteous--amends for gauntness--takes her hand--
That glance of theirs, but for the street, had been
A clinging kiss--how hand lingers in hand!
Let go at last!--they ride away--to hawk
For waterfowl. Royaller game is mine.
For such a supersensual sensual bond
As that gray cricket chirpt of at our hearth--
Touch flax with flame--a glance will serve--the liars!
Ah little rat that borest in the dyke
Thy hole by night to let the boundless deep
Down upon far-off cities while they dance--
Or dream--of thee they dreamed not--nor of me
These--ay, but each of either: ride, and dream
The mortal dream that never yet was mine--
Ride, ride and dream until ye wake--to me!
Then, narrow court and lubber King, farewell!
For Lancelot will be gracious to the rat,
And our wise Queen, if knowing that I know,
Will hate, loathe, fear--but honour me the more.'

Yet while they rode together down the plain,
Their talk was all of training, terms of art,
Diet and seeling, jesses, leash and lure.
'She is too noble' he said 'to check at pies,
Nor will she rake: there is no baseness in her.'
Here when the Queen demanded as by chance
'Know ye the stranger woman?' 'Let her be,'
Said Lancelot and unhooded casting off
The goodly falcon free; she towered; her bells,
Tone under tone, shrilled; and they lifted up
Their eager faces, wondering at the strength,
Boldness and royal knighthood of the bird
Who pounced her quarry and slew it. Many a time
As once--of old--among the flowers--they rode.

But Vivien half-forgotten of the Queen
Among her damsels broidering sat, heard, watched
And whispered: through the peaceful court she crept
And whispered: then as Arthur in the highest
Leavened the world, so Vivien in the lowest,
Arriving at a time of golden rest,
And sowing one ill hint from ear to ear,
While all the heathen lay at Arthur's feet,
And no quest came, but all was joust and play,
Leavened his hall. They heard and let her be.

Thereafter as an enemy that has left
Death in the living waters, and withdrawn,
The wily Vivien stole from Arthur's court.

She hated all the knights, and heard in thought
Their lavish comment when her name was named.
For once, when Arthur walking all alone,
Vext at a rumour issued from herself
Of some corruption crept among his knights,
Had met her, Vivien, being greeted fair,
Would fain have wrought upon his cloudy mood
With reverent eyes mock-loyal, shaken voice,
And fluttered adoration, and at last
With dark sweet hints of some who prized him more
Than who should prize him most; at which the King
Had gazed upon her blankly and gone by:
But one had watched, and had not held his peace:
It made the laughter of an afternoon
That Vivien should attempt the blameless King.
And after that, she set herself to gain
Him, the most famous man of all those times,
Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts,
Had built the King his havens, ships, and halls,
Was also Bard, and knew the starry heavens;
The people called him Wizard; whom at first
She played about with slight and sprightly talk,
And vivid smiles, and faintly-venomed points
Of slander, glancing here and grazing there;
And yielding to his kindlier moods, the Seer
Would watch her at her petulance, and play,
Even when they seemed unloveable, and laugh
As those that watch a kitten; thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained, and she,
Perceiving that she was but half disdained,
Began to break her sports with graver fits,
Turn red or pale, would often when they met
Sigh fully, or all-silent gaze upon him
With such a fixt devotion, that the old man,
Though doubtful, felt the flattery, and at times
Would flatter his own wish in age for love,
And half believe her true: for thus at times
He wavered; but that other clung to him,
Fixt in her will, and so the seasons went.

Then fell on Merlin a great melancholy;
He walked with dreams and darkness, and he found
A doom that ever poised itself to fall,
An ever-moaning battle in the mist,
World-war of dying flesh against the life,
Death in all life and lying in all love,
The meanest having power upon the highest,
And the high purpose broken by the worm.

So leaving Arthur's court he gained the beach;
There found a little boat, and stept into it;
And Vivien followed, but he marked her not.
She took the helm and he the sail; the boat
Drave with a sudden wind across the deeps,
And touching Breton sands, they disembarked.
And then she followed Merlin all the way,
Even to the wild woods of Broceliande.
For Merlin once had told her of a charm,
The which if any wrought on anyone
With woven paces and with waving arms,
The man so wrought on ever seemed to lie
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower,
From which was no escape for evermore;
And none could find that man for evermore,
Nor could he see but him who wrought the charm
Coming and going, and he lay as dead
And lost to life and use and name and fame.
And Vivien ever sought to work the charm
Upon the great Enchanter of the Time,
As fancying that her glory would be great
According to his greatness whom she quenched.

There lay she all her length and kissed his feet,
As if in deepest reverence and in love.
A twist of gold was round her hair; a robe
Of samite without price, that more exprest
Than hid her, clung about her lissome limbs,
In colour like the satin-shining palm
On sallows in the windy gleams of March:
And while she kissed them, crying, 'Trample me,
Dear feet, that I have followed through the world,
And I will pay you worship; tread me down
And I will kiss you for it;' he was mute:
So dark a forethought rolled about his brain,
As on a dull day in an Ocean cave
The blind wave feeling round his long sea-hall
In silence: wherefore, when she lifted up
A face of sad appeal, and spake and said,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and again,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and once more,
'Great Master, do ye love me?' he was mute.
And lissome Vivien, holding by his heel,
Writhed toward him, slided up his knee and sat,
Behind his ankle twined her hollow feet
Together, curved an arm about his neck,
Clung like a snake; and letting her left hand
Droop from his mighty shoulder, as a leaf,
Made with her right a comb of pearl to part
The lists of such a board as youth gone out
Had left in ashes: then he spoke and said,
Not looking at her, 'Who are wise in love
Love most, say least,' and Vivien answered quick,
'I saw the little elf-god eyeless once
In Arthur's arras hall at Camelot:
But neither eyes nor tongue--O stupid child!
Yet you are wise who say it; let me think
Silence is wisdom: I am silent then,
And ask no kiss;' then adding all at once,
'And lo, I clothe myself with wisdom,' drew
The vast and shaggy mantle of his beard
Across her neck and bosom to her knee,
And called herself a gilded summer fly
Caught in a great old tyrant spider's web,
Who meant to eat her up in that wild wood
Without one word. So Vivien called herself,
But rather seemed a lovely baleful star
Veiled in gray vapour; till he sadly smiled:
'To what request for what strange boon,' he said,
'Are these your pretty tricks and fooleries,
O Vivien, the preamble? yet my thanks,
For these have broken up my melancholy.'

And Vivien answered smiling saucily,
'What, O my Master, have ye found your voice?
I bid the stranger welcome. Thanks at last!
But yesterday you never opened lip,
Except indeed to drink: no cup had we:
In mine own lady palms I culled the spring
That gathered trickling dropwise from the cleft,
And made a pretty cup of both my hands
And offered you it kneeling: then you drank
And knew no more, nor gave me one poor word;
O no more thanks than might a goat have given
With no more sign of reverence than a beard.
And when we halted at that other well,
And I was faint to swooning, and you lay
Foot-gilt with all the blossom-dust of those
Deep meadows we had traversed, did you know
That Vivien bathed your feet before her own?
And yet no thanks: and all through this wild wood
And all this morning when I fondled you:
Boon, ay, there was a boon, one not so strange--
How had I wronged you? surely ye are wise,
But such a silence is more wise than kind.'

And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said:
'O did ye never lie upon the shore,
And watch the curled white of the coming wave
Glassed in the slippery sand before it breaks?
Even such a wave, but not so pleasurable,
Dark in the glass of some presageful mood,
Had I for three days seen, ready to fall.
And then I rose and fled from Arthur's court
To break the mood. You followed me unasked;
And when I looked, and saw you following me still,
My mind involved yourself the nearest thing
In that mind-mist: for shall I tell you truth?
You seemed that wave about to break upon me
And sweep me from my hold upon the world,
My use and name and fame. Your pardon, child.
Your pretty sports have brightened all again.
And ask your boon, for boon I owe you thrice,
Once for wrong done you by confusion, next
For thanks it seems till now neglected, last
For these your dainty gambols: wherefore ask;
And take this boon so strange and not so strange.'

And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O not so strange as my long asking it,
Not yet so strange as you yourself are strange,
Nor half so strange as that dark mood of yours.
I ever feared ye were not wholly mine;
And see, yourself have owned ye did me wrong.
The people call you prophet: let it be:
But not of those that can expound themselves.
Take Vivien for expounder; she will call
That three-days-long presageful gloom of yours
No presage, but the same mistrustful mood
That makes you seem less noble than yourself,
Whenever I have asked this very boon,
Now asked again: for see you not, dear love,
That such a mood as that, which lately gloomed
Your fancy when ye saw me following you,
Must make me fear still more you are not mine,
Must make me yearn still more to prove you mine,
And make me wish still more to learn this charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
As proof of trust. O Merlin, teach it me.
The charm so taught will charm us both to rest.
For, grant me some slight power upon your fate,
I, feeling that you felt me worthy trust,
Should rest and let you rest, knowing you mine.
And therefore be as great as ye are named,
Not muffled round with selfish reticence.
How hard you look and how denyingly!
O, if you think this wickedness in me,
That I should prove it on you unawares,
That makes me passing wrathful; then our bond
Had best be loosed for ever: but think or not,
By Heaven that hears I tell you the clean truth,
As clean as blood of babes, as white as milk:
O Merlin, may this earth, if ever I,
If these unwitty wandering wits of mine,
Even in the jumbled rubbish of a dream,
Have tript on such conjectural treachery--
May this hard earth cleave to the Nadir hell
Down, down, and close again, and nip me flat,
If I be such a traitress. Yield my boon,
Till which I scarce can yield you all I am;
And grant my re-reiterated wish,
The great proof of your love: because I think,
However wise, ye hardly know me yet.'

And Merlin loosed his hand from hers and said,
'I never was less wise, however wise,
Too curious Vivien, though you talk of trust,
Than when I told you first of such a charm.
Yea, if ye talk of trust I tell you this,
Too much I trusted when I told you that,
And stirred this vice in you which ruined man
Through woman the first hour; for howsoe'er
In children a great curiousness be well,
Who have to learn themselves and all the world,
In you, that are no child, for still I find
Your face is practised when I spell the lines,
I call it,--well, I will not call it vice:
But since you name yourself the summer fly,
I well could wish a cobweb for the gnat,
That settles, beaten back, and beaten back
Settles, till one could yield for weariness:
But since I will not yield to give you power
Upon my life and use and name and fame,
Why will ye never ask some other boon?
Yea, by God's rood, I trusted you too much.'

And Vivien, like the tenderest-hearted maid
That ever bided tryst at village stile,
Made answer, either eyelid wet with tears:
'Nay, Master, be not wrathful with your maid;
Caress her: let her feel herself forgiven
Who feels no heart to ask another boon.
I think ye hardly know the tender rhyme
Of "trust me not at all or all in all."
I heard the great Sir Lancelot sing it once,
And it shall answer for me. Listen to it.

"In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.

"It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.

"The little rift within the lover's lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

"It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all."

O Master, do ye love my tender rhyme?'

And Merlin looked and half believed her true,
So tender was her voice, so fair her face,
So sweetly gleamed her eyes behind her tears
Like sunlight on the plain behind a shower:
And yet he answered half indignantly:

'Far other was the song that once I heard
By this huge oak, sung nearly where we sit:
For here we met, some ten or twelve of us,
To chase a creature that was current then
In these wild woods, the hart with golden horns.
It was the time when first the question rose
About the founding of a Table Round,
That was to be, for love of God and men
And noble deeds, the flower of all the world.
And each incited each to noble deeds.
And while we waited, one, the youngest of us,
We could not keep him silent, out he flashed,
And into such a song, such fire for fame,
Such trumpet-glowings in it, coming down
To such a stern and iron-clashing close,
That when he stopt we longed to hurl together,
And should have done it; but the beauteous beast
Scared by the noise upstarted at our feet,
And like a silver shadow slipt away
Through the dim land; and all day long we rode
Through the dim land against a rushing wind,
That glorious roundel echoing in our ears,
And chased the flashes of his golden horns
Till they vanished by the fairy well
That laughs at iron--as our warriors did--
Where children cast their pins and nails, and cry,
"Laugh, little well!" but touch it with a sword,
It buzzes fiercely round the point; and there
We lost him: such a noble song was that.
But, Vivien, when you sang me that sweet rhyme,
I felt as though you knew this cursd charm,
Were proving it on me, and that I lay
And felt them slowly ebbing, name and fame.'

And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O mine have ebbed away for evermore,
And all through following you to this wild wood,
Because I saw you sad, to comfort you.
Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mount
As high as woman in her selfless mood.
And touching fame, howe'er ye scorn my song,
Take one verse more--the lady speaks it--this:

'"My name, once mine, now thine, is closelier mine,
For fame, could fame be mine, that fame were thine,
And shame, could shame be thine, that shame were mine.
So trust me not at all or all in all."

'Says she not well? and there is more--this rhyme
Is like the fair pearl-necklace of the Queen,
That burst in dancing, and the pearls were spilt;
Some lost, some stolen, some as relics kept.
But nevermore the same two sister pearls
Ran down the silken thread to kiss each other
On her white neck--so is it with this rhyme:
It lives dispersedly in many hands,
And every minstrel sings it differently;
Yet is there one true line, the pearl of pearls:
"Man dreams of Fame while woman wakes to love."
Yea! Love, though Love were of the grossest, carves
A portion from the solid present, eats
And uses, careless of the rest; but Fame,
The Fame that follows death is nothing to us;
And what is Fame in life but half-disfame,
And counterchanged with darkness? ye yourself
Know well that Envy calls you Devil's son,
And since ye seem the Master of all Art,
They fain would make you Master of all vice.'

And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said,
'I once was looking for a magic weed,
And found a fair young squire who sat alone,
Had carved himself a knightly shield of wood,
And then was painting on it fancied arms,
Azure, an Eagle rising or, the Sun
In dexter chief; the scroll "I follow fame."
And speaking not, but leaning over him
I took his brush and blotted out the bird,
And made a Gardener putting in a graff,
With this for motto, "Rather use than fame."
You should have seen him blush; but afterwards
He made a stalwart knight. O Vivien,
For you, methinks you think you love me well;
For me, I love you somewhat; rest: and Love
Should have some rest and pleasure in himself,
Not ever be too curious for a boon,
Too prurient for a proof against the grain
Of him ye say ye love: but Fame with men,
Being but ampler means to serve mankind,
Should have small rest or pleasure in herself,
But work as vassal to the larger love,
That dwarfs the petty love of one to one.
Use gave me Fame at first, and Fame again
Increasing gave me use. Lo, there my boon!
What other? for men sought to prove me vile,
Because I fain had given them greater wits:
And then did Envy call me Devil's son:
The sick weak beast seeking to help herself
By striking at her better, missed, and brought
Her own claw back, and wounded her own heart.
Sweet were the days when I was all unknown,
But when my name was lifted up, the storm
Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it.
Right well know I that Fame is half-disfame,
Yet needs must work my work. That other fame,
To one at least, who hath not children, vague,
The cackle of the unborn about the grave,
I cared not for it: a single misty star,
Which is the second in a line of stars
That seem a sword beneath a belt of three,
I never gazed upon it but I dreamt
Of some vast charm concluded in that star
To make fame nothing. Wherefore, if I fear,
Giving you power upon me through this charm,
That you might play me falsely, having power,
However well ye think ye love me now
(As sons of kings loving in pupilage
Have turned to tyrants when they came to power)
I rather dread the loss of use than fame;
If you--and not so much from wickedness,
As some wild turn of anger, or a mood
Of overstrained affection, it may be,
To keep me all to your own self,--or else
A sudden spurt of woman's jealousy,--
Should try this charm on whom ye say ye love.'

And Vivien answered smiling as in wrath:
'Have I not sworn? I am not trusted. Good!
Well, hide it, hide it; I shall find it out;
And being found take heed of Vivien.
A woman and not trusted, doubtless I
Might feel some sudden turn of anger born
Of your misfaith; and your fine epithet
Is accurate too, for this full love of mine
Without the full heart back may merit well
Your term of overstrained. So used as I,
My daily wonder is, I love at all.
And as to woman's jealousy, O why not?
O to what end, except a jealous one,
And one to make me jealous if I love,
Was this fair charm invented by yourself?
I well believe that all about this world
Ye cage a buxom captive here and there,
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower
From which is no escape for evermore.'

Then the great Master merrily answered her:
'Full many a love in loving youth was mine;
I needed then no charm to keep them mine
But youth and love; and that full heart of yours
Whereof ye prattle, may now assure you mine;
So live uncharmed. For those who wrought it first,
The wrist is parted from the hand that waved,
The feet unmortised from their ankle-bones
Who paced it, ages back: but will ye hear
The legend as in guerdon for your rhyme?

'There lived a king in the most Eastern East,
Less old than I, yet older, for my blood
Hath earnest in it of far springs to be.
A tawny pirate anchored in his port,
Whose bark had plundered twenty nameless isles;
And passing one, at the high peep of dawn,
He saw two cities in a thousand boats
All fighting for a woman on the sea.
And pushing his black craft among them all,
He lightly scattered theirs and brought her off,
With loss of half his people arrow-slain;
A maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful,
They said a light came from her when she moved:
And since the pirate would not yield her up,
The King impaled him for his piracy;
Then made her Queen: but those isle-nurtured eyes
Waged such unwilling though successful war
On all the youth, they sickened; councils thinned,
And armies waned, for magnet-like she drew
The rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts;
And beasts themselves would worship; camels knelt
Unbidden, and the brutes of mountain back
That carry kings in castles, bowed black knees
Of homage, ringing with their serpent hands,
To make her smile, her golden ankle-bells.
What wonder, being jealous, that he sent
His horns of proclamation out through all
The hundred under-kingdoms that he swayed
To find a wizard who might teach the King
Some charm, which being wrought upon the Queen
Might keep her all his own: to such a one
He promised more than ever king has given,
A league of mountain full of golden mines,
A province with a hundred miles of coast,
A palace and a princess, all for him:
But on all those who tried and failed, the King
Pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning by it
To keep the list low and pretenders back,
Or like a king, not to be trifled with--
Their heads should moulder on the city gates.
And many tried and failed, because the charm
Of nature in her overbore their own:
And many a wizard brow bleached on the walls:
And many weeks a troop of carrion crows
Hung like a cloud above the gateway towers.'

And Vivien breaking in upon him, said:
'I sit and gather honey; yet, methinks,
Thy tongue has tript a little: ask thyself.
The lady never made UNWILLING war
With those fine eyes: she had her pleasure in it,
And made her good man jealous with good cause.
And lived there neither dame nor damsel then
Wroth at a lover's loss? were all as tame,
I mean, as noble, as the Queen was fair?
Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,
Or pinch a murderous dust into her drink,
Or make her paler with a poisoned rose?
Well, those were not our days: but did they find
A wizard? Tell me, was he like to thee?

She ceased, and made her lithe arm round his neck
Tighten, and then drew back, and let her eyes
Speak for her, glowing on him, like a bride's
On her new lord, her own, the first of men.

He answered laughing, 'Nay, not like to me.
At last they found--his foragers for charms--
A little glassy-headed hairless man,
Who lived alone in a great wild on grass;
Read but one book, and ever reading grew
So grated down and filed away with thought,
So lean his eyes were monstrous; while the skin
Clung but to crate and basket, ribs and spine.
And since he kept his mind on one sole aim,
Nor ever touched fierce wine, nor tasted flesh,
Nor owned a sensual wish, to him the wall
That sunders ghosts and shadow-casting men
Became a crystal, and he saw them through it,
And heard their voices talk behind the wall,
And learnt their elemental secrets, powers
And forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye
Drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud,
And lashed it at the base with slanting storm;
Or in the noon of mist and driving rain,
When the lake whitened and the pinewood roared,
And the cairned mountain was a shadow, sunned
The world to peace again: here was the man.
And so by force they dragged him to the King.
And then he taught the King to charm the Queen
In such-wise, that no man could see her more,
Nor saw she save the King, who wrought the charm,
Coming and going, and she lay as dead,
And lost all use of life: but when the King
Made proffer of the league of golden mines,
The province with a hundred miles of coast,
The palace and the princess, that old man
Went back to his old wild, and lived on grass,
And vanished, and his book came down to me.'

And Vivien answered smiling saucily:
'Ye have the book: the charm is written in it:
Good: take my counsel: let me know it at once:
For keep it like a puzzle chest in chest,
With each chest locked and padlocked thirty-fold,
And whelm all this beneath as vast a mound
As after furious battle turfs the slain
On some wild down above the windy deep,
I yet should strike upon a sudden means
To dig, pick, open, find and read the charm:
Then, if I tried it, who should blame me then?'

And smiling as a master smiles at one
That is not of his school, nor any school
But that where blind and naked Ignorance
Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed,
On all things all day long, he answered her:

'Thou read the book, my pretty Vivien!
O ay, it is but twenty pages long,
But every page having an ample marge,
And every marge enclosing in the midst
A square of text that looks a little blot,
The text no larger than the limbs of fleas;
And every square of text an awful charm,
Writ in a language that has long gone by.
So long, that mountains have arisen since
With cities on their flanks--thou read the book!
And ever margin scribbled, crost, and crammed
With comment, densest condensation, hard
To mind and eye; but the long sleepless nights
Of my long life have made it easy to me.
And none can read the text, not even I;
And none can read the comment but myself;
And in the comment did I find the charm.
O, the results are simple; a mere child
Might use it to the harm of anyone,
And never could undo it: ask no more:
For though you should not prove it upon me,
But keep that oath ye sware, ye might, perchance,
Assay it on some one of the Table Round,
And all because ye dream they babble of you.'

And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:
'What dare the full-fed liars say of me?
THEY ride abroad redressing human wrongs!
They sit with knife in meat and wine in horn!
THEY bound to holy vows of chastity!
Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.
But you are man, you well can understand
The shame that cannot be explained for shame.
Not one of all the drove should touch me: swine!'

Then answered Merlin careless of her words:
'You breathe but accusation vast and vague,
Spleen-born, I think, and proofless. If ye know,
Set up the charge ye know, to stand or fall!'

And Vivien answered frowning wrathfully:
'O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him
Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife
And two fair babes, and went to distant lands;
Was one year gone, and on returning found
Not two but three? there lay the reckling, one
But one hour old! What said the happy sire?'
A seven-months' babe had been a truer gift.
Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.'

Then answered Merlin, 'Nay, I know the tale.
Sir Valence wedded with an outland dame:
Some cause had kept him sundered from his wife:
One child they had: it lived with her: she died:
His kinsman travelling on his own affair
Was charged by Valence to bring home the child.
He brought, not found it therefore: take the truth.'

'O ay,' said Vivien, 'overtrue a tale.
What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,
That ardent man? "to pluck the flower in season,"
So says the song, "I trow it is no treason."
O Master, shall we call him overquick
To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?'

And Merlin answered, 'Overquick art thou
To catch a loathly plume fallen from the wing
Of that foul bird of rapine whose whole prey
Is man's good name: he never wronged his bride.
I know the tale. An angry gust of wind
Puffed out his torch among the myriad-roomed
And many-corridored complexities
Of Arthur's palace: then he found a door,
And darkling felt the sculptured ornament
That wreathen round it made it seem his own;
And wearied out made for the couch and slept,
A stainless man beside a stainless maid;
And either slept, nor knew of other there;
Till the high dawn piercing the royal rose
In Arthur's casement glimmered chastely down,
Blushing upon them blushing, and at once
He rose without a word and parted from her:
But when the thing was blazed about the court,
The brute world howling forced them into bonds,
And as it chanced they are happy, being pure.'

'O ay,' said Vivien, 'that were likely too.
What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale
And of the horrid foulness that he wrought,
The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of Christ,
Or some black wether of St Satan's fold.
What, in the precincts of the chapel-yard,
Among the knightly brasses of the graves,
And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead!'

And Merlin answered careless of her charge,
'A sober man is Percivale and pure;
But once in life was flustered with new wine,
Then paced for coolness in the chapel-yard;
Where one of Satan's shepherdesses caught
And meant to stamp him with her master's mark;
And that he sinned is not believable;
For, look upon his face!--but if he sinned,
The sin that practice burns into the blood,
And not the one dark hour which brings remorse,
Will brand us, after, of whose fold we be:
Or else were he, the holy king, whose hymns
Are chanted in the minster, worse than all.
But is your spleen frothed out, or have ye more?'

And Vivien answered frowning yet in wrath:
'O ay; what say ye to Sir Lancelot, friend
Traitor or true? that commerce with the Queen,
I ask you, is it clamoured by the child,
Or whispered in the corner? do ye know it?'

To which he answered sadly, 'Yea, I know it.
Sir Lancelot went ambassador, at first,
To fetch her, and she watched him from her walls.
A rumour runs, she took him for the King,
So fixt her fancy on him: let them be.
But have ye no one word of loyal praise
For Arthur, blameless King and stainless man?'

She answered with a low and chuckling laugh:
'Man! is he man at all, who knows and winks?
Sees what his fair bride is and does, and winks?
By which the good King means to blind himself,
And blinds himself and all the Table Round
To all the foulness that they work. Myself
Could call him (were it not for womanhood)
The pretty, popular cause such manhood earns,
Could call him the main cause of all their crime;
Yea, were he not crowned King, coward, and fool.'

Then Merlin to his own heart, loathing, said:
'O true and tender! O my liege and King!
O selfless man and stainless gentleman,
Who wouldst against thine own eye-witness fain
Have all men true and leal, all women pure;
How, in the mouths of base interpreters,
From over-fineness not intelligible
To things with every sense as false and foul
As the poached filth that floods the middle street,
Is thy white blamelessness accounted blame!'

But Vivien, deeming Merlin overborne
By instance, recommenced, and let her tongue
Rage like a fire among the noblest names,
Polluting, and imputing her whole self,
Defaming and defacing, till she left
Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.

Her words had issue other than she willed.
He dragged his eyebrow bushes down, and made
A snowy penthouse for his hollow eyes,
And muttered in himself, 'Tell HER the charm!
So, if she had it, would she rail on me
To snare the next, and if she have it not
So will she rail. What did the wanton say?
"Not mount as high;" we scarce can sink as low:
For men at most differ as Heaven and earth,
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.
I know the Table Round, my friends of old;
All brave, and many generous, and some chaste.
She cloaks the scar of some repulse with lies;
I well believe she tempted them and failed,
Being so bitter: for fine plots may fail,
Though harlots paint their talk as well as face
With colours of the heart that are not theirs.
I will not let her know: nine tithes of times
Face-flatterer and backbiter are the same.
And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crime
Are pronest to it, and impute themselves,
Wanting the mental range; or low desire
Not to feel lowest makes them level all;
Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,
To leave an equal baseness; and in this
Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find
Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
And judge all nature from her feet of clay,
Without the will to lift their eyes, and see
Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,
And touching other worlds. I am weary of her.'

He spoke in words part heard, in whispers part,
Half-suffocated in the hoary fell
And many-wintered fleece of throat and chin.
But Vivien, gathering somewhat of his mood,
And hearing 'harlot' muttered twice or thrice,
Leapt from her session on his lap, and stood
Stiff as a viper frozen; loathsome sight,
How from the rosy lips of life and love,
Flashed the bare-grinning skeleton of death!
White was her cheek; sharp breaths of anger puffed
Her fairy nostril out; her hand half-clenched
Went faltering sideways downward to her belt,
And feeling; had she found a dagger there
(For in a wink the false love turns to hate)
She would have stabbed him; but she found it not:
His eye was calm, and suddenly she took
To bitter weeping like a beaten child,
A long, long weeping, not consolable.
Then her false voice made way, broken with sobs:

'O crueller than was ever told in tale,
Or sung in song! O vainly lavished love!
O cruel, there was nothing wild or strange,
Or seeming shameful--for what shame in love,
So love be true, and not as yours is--nothing
Poor Vivien had not done to win his trust
Who called her what he called her--all her crime,
All--all--the wish to prove him wholly hers.'

She mused a little, and then clapt her hands
Together with a wailing shriek, and said:
'Stabbed through the heart's affections to the heart!
Seethed like the kid in its own mother's milk!
Killed with a word worse than a life of blows!
I thought that he was gentle, being great:
O God, that I had loved a smaller man!
I should have found in him a greater heart.
O, I, that flattering my true passion, saw
The knights, the court, the King, dark in your light,
Who loved to make men darker than they are,
Because of that high pleasure which I had
To seat you sole upon my pedestal
Of worship--I am answered, and henceforth
The course of life that seemed so flowery to me
With you for guide and master, only you,
Becomes the sea-cliff pathway broken short,
And ending in a ruin--nothing left,
But into some low cave to crawl, and there,
If the wolf spare me, weep my life away,
Killed with inutterable unkindliness.'

She paused, she turned away, she hung her head,
The snake of gold slid from her hair, the braid
Slipt and uncoiled itself, she wept afresh,
And the dark wood grew darker toward the storm
In silence, while his anger slowly died
Within him, till he let his wisdom go
For ease of heart, and half believed her true:
Called her to shelter in the hollow oak,
'Come from the storm,' and having no reply,
Gazed at the heaving shoulder, and the face
Hand-hidden, as for utmost grief or shame;
Then thrice essayed, by tenderest-touching terms,
To sleek her ruffled peace of mind, in vain.
At last she let herself be conquered by him,
And as the cageling newly flown returns,
The seeming-injured simple-hearted thing
Came to her old perch back, and settled there.
There while she sat, half-falling from his knees,
Half-nestled at his heart, and since he saw
The slow tear creep from her closed eyelid yet,
About her, more in kindness than in love,
The gentle wizard cast a shielding arm.
But she dislinked herself at once and rose,
Her arms upon her breast across, and stood,
A virtuous gentlewoman deeply wronged,
Upright and flushed before him: then she said:

'There must now be no passages of love
Betwixt us twain henceforward evermore;
Since, if I be what I am grossly called,
What should be granted which your own gross heart
Would reckon worth the taking? I will go.
In truth, but one thing now--better have died
Thrice than have asked it once--could make me stay--
That proof of trust--so often asked in vain!
How justly, after that vile term of yours,
I find with grief! I might believe you then,
Who knows? once more. Lo! what was once to me
Mere matter of the fancy, now hath grown
The vast necessity of heart and life.
Farewell; think gently of me, for I fear
My fate or folly, passing gayer youth
For one so old, must be to love thee still.
But ere I leave thee let me swear once more
That if I schemed against thy peace in this,
May yon just heaven, that darkens o'er me, send
One flash, that, missing all things else, may make
My scheming brain a cinder, if I lie.'

Scarce had she ceased, when out of heaven a bolt
(For now the storm was close above them) struck,
Furrowing a giant oak, and javelining
With darted spikes and splinters of the wood
The dark earth round. He raised his eyes and saw
The tree that shone white-listed through the gloom.
But Vivien, fearing heaven had heard her oath,
And dazzled by the livid-flickering fork,
And deafened with the stammering cracks and claps
That followed, flying back and crying out,
'O Merlin, though you do not love me, save,
Yet save me!' clung to him and hugged him close;
And called him dear protector in her fright,
Nor yet forgot her practice in her fright,
But wrought upon his mood and hugged him close.
The pale blood of the wizard at her touch
Took gayer colours, like an opal warmed.
She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales:
She shook from fear, and for her fault she wept
Of petulancy; she called him lord and liege,
Her seer, her bard, her silver star of eve,
Her God, her Merlin, the one passionate love
Of her whole life; and ever overhead
Bellowed the tempest, and the rotten branch
Snapt in the rushing of the river-rain
Above them; and in change of glare and gloom
Her eyes and neck glittering went and came;
Till now the storm, its burst of passion spent,
Moaning and calling out of other lands,
Had left the ravaged woodland yet once more
To peace; and what should not have been had been,
For Merlin, overtalked and overworn,
Had yielded, told her all the charm, and slept.

Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
And in the hollow oak he lay as dead,
And lost to life and use and name and fame.

Then crying 'I have made his glory mine,'
And shrieking out 'O fool!' the harlot leapt
Adown the forest, and the thicket closed
Behind her, and the forest echoed 'fool.'

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Metamorphoses: Book The Eighth

NOW shone the morning star in bright array,
To vanquish night, and usher in the day:
The wind veers southward, and moist clouds arise,
That blot with shades the blue meridian skies.
Cephalus feels with joy the kindly gales,
His new allies unfurl the swelling sails;
Steady their course, they cleave the yielding main,
And, with a wish, th' intended harbour gain.
The Story of Mean-while King Minos, on the Attick strand,
Nisus and Displays his martial skill, and wastes the land.
Scylla His army lies encampt upon the plains,
Before Alcathoe's walls, where Nisus reigns;
On whose grey head a lock of purple hue,
The strength, and fortune of his kingdom, grew.
Six moons were gone, and past, when still from
far
Victoria hover'd o'er the doubtful war.
So long, to both inclin'd, th' impartial maid
Between 'em both her equal wings display'd.
High on the walls, by Phoebus vocal made,
A turret of the palace rais'd its head;
And where the God his tuneful harp resign'd.
The sound within the stones still lay enshrin'd:
Hither the daughter of the purple king
Ascended oft, to hear its musick ring;
And, striking with a pebble, wou'd release
Th' enchanted notes, in times of happy peace.
But now, from thence, the curious maid beheld
Rough feats of arms, and combats of the field:
And, since the siege was long, had learnt the name
Of ev'ry chief, his character, and fame;
Their arms, their horse, and quiver she descry'd,
Nor cou'd the dress of war the warriour hide.
Europa's son she knew above the rest,
And more, than well became a virgin breast:
In vain the crested morion veils his face,
She thinks it adds a more peculiar grace:
His ample shield, embost with burnish'd gold,
Still makes the bearer lovelier to behold:
When the tough jav'lin, with a whirl, he sends,
His strength and skill the sighing maid commends;
Or, when he strains to draw the circling bow,
And his fine limbs a manly posture show,
Compar'd with Phoebus, he performs so well,
Let her be judge, and Minos shall excell.
But when the helm put off, display'd to sight,
And set his features in an open light;
When, vaulting to his seat, his steed he prest,
Caparison'd in gold, and richly drest;
Himself in scarlet sumptuously array'd,
New passions rise, and fire the frantick maid.
O happy spear! she cries, that feels his touch;
Nay, ev'n the reins he holds are blest too much.
Oh! were it lawful, she cou'd wing her way
Thro' the stern hostile troops without dismay;
Or throw her body to the distant ground,
And in the Cretans happy camp be found.
Wou'd Minos but desire it! she'd expose
Her native country to her country's foes;
Unbar the gates, the town with flames infest,
Or any thing that Minos shou'd request.
And as she sate, and pleas'd her longing sight,
Viewing the king's pavilion veil'd with white,
Shou'd joy, or grief, she said, possess my breast,
To see my country by a war opprest?
I'm in suspense! For, tho' 'tis grief to know
I love a man that is declar'd my foe;
Yet, in my own despite, I must approve
That lucky war, which brought the man I love.
Yet, were I tender'd as a pledge of peace,
The cruelties of war might quickly cease.
Oh! with what joy I'd wear the chains he gave!
A patient hostage, and a willing slave.
Thou lovely object! if the nymph that bare
Thy charming person, were but half so fair;
Well might a God her virgin bloom desire,
And with a rape indulge his amorous fire.
Oh! had I wings to glide along the air,
To his dear tent I'd fly, and settle there:
There tell my quality, confess my flame,
And grant him any dowry that he'd name.
All, all I'd give; only my native land,
My dearest country, shou'd excepted stand,
For, perish love, and all expected joys,
E're, with so base a thought, my soul complies.
Yet, oft the vanquish'd some advantage find,
When conquer'd by a noble, gen'rous mind.
Brave Minos justly has the war begun,
Fir'd with resentment for his murder'd son:
The righteous Gods a righteous cause regard,
And will, with victory, his arms reward:
We must be conquer'd; and the captive's fate
Will surely seize us, tho' it seize us late.
Why then shou'd love be idle, and neglect
What Mars, by arms and perils, will effect?
Oh! Prince, I dye, with anxious fear opprest,
Lest some rash hand shou'd wound my charmer's
breast:
For, if they saw, no barb'rous mind cou'd dare
Against that lovely form to raise a spear.
But I'm resolv'd, and fix'd in this decree,
My father's country shall my dowry be.
Thus I prevent the loss of life and blood,
And, in effect, the action must be good.
Vain resolution! for, at ev'ry gate
The trusty centinels, successive, wait:
The keys my father keeps; ah! there's my grief;
'Tis he obstructs all hopes of my relief.
Gods! that this hated light I'd never seen!
Or, all my life, without a father been!
But Gods we all may be; for those that dare,
Are Gods, and Fortune's chiefest favours share.
The ruling Pow'rs a lazy pray'r detest,
The bold adventurer succeeds the best.
What other maid, inspir'd with such a flame,
But wou'd take courage, and abandon shame?
But wou'd, tho' ruin shou'd ensue, remove
Whate'er oppos'd, and clear the way to love?
This, shall another's feeble passion dare?
While I sit tame, and languish in despair:
No; for tho' fire and sword before me lay,
Impatient love thro' both shou'd force its way.
Yet I have no such enemies to fear,
My sole obstruction is my father's hair;
His purple lock my sanguine hope destroys,
And clouds the prospect of my rising joys.
Whilst thus she spoke, amid the thick'ning air
Night supervenes, the greatest nurse of care:
And, as the Goddess spreads her sable wings,
The virgin's fears decay, and courage springs.
The hour was come, when Man's o'er-labour'd breast
Surceas'd its care, by downy sleep possest:
All things now hush'd, Scylla with silent tread
Urg'd her approach to Nisus' royal bed:
There, of the fatal lock (accursed theft!)
She her unwitting father's head bereft.
In safe possession of her impious prey,
Out at a postern gate she takes her way.
Embolden'd, by the merit of the deed
She traverses the adverse camp with speed,
'Till Minos' tent she reach'd: the righteous king
She thus bespoke, who shiver'd at the thing.
Behold th' effect of love's resistless sway!
I, Nisus' royal seed, to thee betray
My country, and my Gods. For this strange task,
Minos, no other boon but thee I ask.
This purple lock, a pledge of love, receive;
No worthless present, since in it I give
My father's head.- Mov'd at a crime so new,
And with abhorrence fill'd, back Minos drew,
Nor touch'd th' unhallow'd gift; but thus exclaim'd
(With mein indignant, and with eyes inflam'd),
Perdition seize thee, thou, thy kind's disgrace!
May thy devoted carcass find no place
In earth, or air, or sea, by all out-cast!
Shall Minos, with so foul a monster, blast
His Cretan world, where cradled Jove was nurst?
Forbid it Heav'n!- away, thou most accurst!
And now Alcathoe, its lord exchang'd,
Was under Minos' domination rang'd.
While the most equal king his care applies
To curb the conquer'd, and new laws devise,
The fleet, by his command, with hoisted sails,
And ready oars, invites the murm'ring gales.
At length the Cretan hero anchor weigh'd,
Repaying, with neglect, th' abandon'd maid.
Deaf to her cries, he furrows up the main:
In vain she prays, sollicits him in vain.
And now she furious grows in wild despair,
She wrings her hands, and throws aloft her hair.
Where run'st thou? (thus she vents her deep
distress)
Why shun'st thou her that crown'd thee with
success?
Her, whose fond love to thee cou'd sacrifice
Her country, and her parent, sacred ties!
Can nor my love, nor proffer'd presents find
A passage to thy heart, and make thee kind?
Can nothing move thy pity? O ingrate,
Can'st thou behold my lost, forlorn estate,
And not be soften'd? Can'st thou throw off one
Who has no refuge left but thee alone?
Where shall I seek for comfort? whither fly?
My native country does in ashes lye:
Or were't not so, my treason bars me there,
And bids me wander. Shall I next repair
To a wrong'd father, by my guilt undone?-
Me all Mankind deservedly will shun.
I, out of all the world, my self have thrown,
To purchase an access to Crete alone;
Which, since refus'd, ungen'rous man, give o'er
To boast thy race; Europa never bore
A thing so savage. Thee some tygress bred,
On the bleak Syrt's inhospitable bed;
Or where Charybdis pours its rapid tide
Tempestuous. Thou art not to Jove ally'd;
Nor did the king of Gods thy mother meet
Beneath a bull's forg'd shape, and bear to Crete.
That fable of thy glorious birth is feign'd;
Some wild outrageous bull thy dam sustain'd.
O father Nisus, now my death behold;
Exult, o city, by my baseness sold:
Minos, obdurate, has aveng'd ye all;
But 'twere more just by those I wrong'd to fall:
For why shou'dst thou, who only didst subdue
By my offending, my offence pursue?
Well art thou matcht to one whose am'rous flame
Too fiercely rag'd, for human-kind to tame;
One who, within a wooden heifer thrust,
Courted a low'ring bull's mistaken lust;
And, from whose monster-teeming womb, the Earth
Receiv'd, what much it mourn'd, a bi-form birth.
But what avails my plaints? the whistling wind,
Which bears him far away, leaves them behind.
Well weigh'd Pasiphae, when she prefer'd
A bull to thee, more brutish than the herd.
But ah! Time presses, and the labour'd oars
To distance drive the fleet, and lose the less'ning
shores.
Think not, ungrateful man, the liquid way
And threat'ning billows shall inforce my stay.
I'll follow thee in spite: My arms I'll throw
Around thy oars, or grasp thy crooked prow,
And drag thro' drenching seas. Her eager tongue
Had hardly clos'd the speech, when forth she sprung
And prov'd the deep. Cupid with added force
Recruits each nerve, and aids her wat'ry course.
Soon she the ship attains, unwelcome guest;
And, as with close embrace its sides she prest,
A hawk from upper air came pouring down
('Twas Nisus cleft the sky with wings new grown).
At Scylla's head his horny bill he aims;
She, fearful of the blow, the ship disclaims,
Quitting her hold: and yet she fell not far,
But wond'ring, finds her self sustain'd in air.
Chang'd to a lark, she mottled pinions shook,
And, from the ravish'd lock, the name of Ciris
took.
The Now Minos, landed on the Cretan shore,
Labyrinth Performs his vows to Jove's protecting pow'r;
A hundred bullocks of the largest breed,
With flowrets crown'd, before his altar bleed:
While trophies of the vanquish'd, brought from far
Adorn the palace with the spoils of war.
Mean-while the monster of a human-beast,
His family's reproach, and stain, increas'd.
His double kind the rumour swiftly spread,
And evidenc'd the mother's beastly deed.
When Minos, willing to conceal the shame
That sprung from the reports of tatling Fame,
Resolves a dark inclosure to provide,
And, far from sight, the two-form'd creature hide.
Great Daedalus of Athens was the man
That made the draught, and form'd the wondrous
plan;
Where rooms within themselves encircled lye,
With various windings, to deceive the eye.
As soft Maeander's wanton current plays,
When thro' the Phrygian fields it loosely strays;
Backward and forward rouls the dimpl'd tide,
Seeming, at once, two different ways to glide:
While circling streams their former banks survey,
And waters past succeeding waters see:
Now floating to the sea with downward course,
Now pointing upward to its ancient source,
Such was the work, so intricate the place,
That scarce the workman all its turns cou'd trace;
And Daedalus was puzzled how to find
The secret ways of what himself design'd.
These private walls the Minotaur include,
Who twice was glutted with Athenian blood:
But the third tribute more successful prov'd,
Slew the foul monster, and the plague remov'd.
When Theseus, aided by the virgin's art,
Had trac'd the guiding thread thro' ev'ry part,
He took the gentle maid, that set him free,
And, bound for Dias, cut the briny sea.
There, quickly cloy'd, ungrateful, and unkind,
Left his fair consort in the isle behind,
Whom Bacchus saw, and straining in his arms
Her rifled bloom, and violated charms,
Resolves, for this, the dear engaging dame
Shou'd shine for ever in the rolls of Fame;
And bids her crown among the stars be plac'd,
With an eternal constellation grac'd.
The golden circlet mounts; and, as it flies,
Its diamonds twinkle in the distant skies;
There, in their pristin form, the gemmy rays
Between Alcides, and the dragon blaze.
The Story of In tedious exile now too long detain'd,
Daedalus and Daedalus languish'd for his native land:
Icarus The sea foreclos'd his flight; yet thus he said:
Tho' Earth and water in subjection laid,
O cruel Minos, thy dominion be,
We'll go thro' air; for sure the air is free.
Then to new arts his cunning thought applies,
And to improve the work of Nature tries.
A row of quils in gradual order plac'd,
Rise by degrees in length from first to last;
As on a cliff th' ascending thicket grows,
Or, different reeds the rural pipe compose.
Along the middle runs a twine of flax,
The bottom stems are joyn'd by pliant wax.
Thus, well compact, a hollow bending brings
The fine composure into real wings.
His boy, young Icarus, that near him stood,
Unthinking of his fate, with smiles pursu'd
The floating feathers, which the moving air
Bore loosely from the ground, and wasted here and
there.
Or with the wax impertinently play'd,
And with his childish tricks the great design
delay'd.
The final master-stroke at last impos'd,
And now, the neat machine compleatly clos'd;
Fitting his pinions on, a flight he tries,
And hung self-ballanc'd in the beaten skies.
Then thus instructs his child: My boy, take care
To wing your course along the middle air;
If low, the surges wet your flagging plumes;
If high, the sun the melting wax consumes:
Steer between both: nor to the northern skies,
Nor south Orion turn your giddy eyes;
But follow me: let me before you lay
Rules for the flight, and mark the pathless way.
Then teaching, with a fond concern, his son,
He took the untry'd wings, and fix'd 'em on;
But fix'd with trembling hands; and as he speaks,
The tears roul gently down his aged cheeks.
Then kiss'd, and in his arms embrac'd him fast,
But knew not this embrace must be the last.
And mounting upward, as he wings his flight,
Back on his charge he turns his aking sight;
As parent birds, when first their callow care
Leave the high nest to tempt the liquid air.
Then chears him on, and oft, with fatal art,
Reminds the stripling to perform his part.
These, as the angler at the silent brook,
Or mountain-shepherd leaning on his crook,
Or gaping plowman, from the vale descries,
They stare, and view 'em with religious eyes,
And strait conclude 'em Gods; since none, but they,
Thro' their own azure skies cou'd find a way.
Now Delos, Paros on the left are seen,
And Samos, favour'd by Jove's haughty queen;
Upon the right, the isle Lebynthos nam'd,
And fair Calymne for its honey fam'd.
When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire
To loftier aims, and make him ramble high'r,
Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden'd flies
Far from his guide, and soars among the skies.
The soft'ning wax, that felt a nearer sun,
Dissolv'd apace, and soon began to run.
The youth in vain his melting pinions shakes,
His feathers gone, no longer air he takes:
Oh! Father, father, as he strove to cry,
Down to the sea he tumbled from on high,
And found his Fate; yet still subsists by fame,
Among those waters that retain his name.
The father, now no more a father, cries,
Ho Icarus! where are you? as he flies;
Where shall I seek my boy? he cries again,
And saw his feathers scatter'd on the main.
Then curs'd his art; and fun'ral rites confer'd,
Naming the country from the youth interr'd.
A partridge, from a neighb'ring stump, beheld
The sire his monumental marble build;
Who, with peculiar call, and flutt'ring wing,
Chirpt joyful, and malicious seem'd to sing:
The only bird of all its kind, and late
Transform'd in pity to a feather'd state:
From whence, O Daedalus, thy guilt we date.
His sister's son, when now twelve years were
past,
Was, with his uncle, as a scholar plac'd;
The unsuspecting mother saw his parts,
And genius fitted for the finest arts.
This soon appear'd; for when the spiny bone
In fishes' backs was by the stripling known,
A rare invention thence he learnt to draw,
Fil'd teeth in ir'n, and made the grating saw.
He was the first, that from a knob of brass
Made two strait arms with widening stretch to pass;
That, while one stood upon the center's place,
The other round it drew a circling space.
Daedalus envy'd this, and from the top
Of fair Minerva's temple let him drop;
Feigning, that, as he lean'd upon the tow'r,
Careless he stoop'd too much, and tumbled o'er.
The Goddess, who th' ingenious still befriends,
On this occasion her asssistance lends;
His arms with feathers, as he fell, she veils,
And in the air a new made bird he sails.
The quickness of his genius, once so fleet,
Still in his wings remains, and in his feet:
Still, tho' transform'd, his ancient name he keeps,
And with low flight the new-shorn stubble sweeps,
Declines the lofty trees, and thinks it best
To brood in hedge-rows o'er its humble nest;
And, in remembrance of the former ill,
Avoids the heights, and precipices still.
At length, fatigu'd with long laborious flights,
On fair Sicilia's plains the artist lights;
Where Cocalus the king, that gave him aid,
Was, for his kindness, with esteem repaid.
Athens no more her doleful tribute sent,
That hardship gallant Theseus did prevent;
Their temples hung with garlands, they adore
Each friendly God, but most Minerva's pow'r:
To her, to Jove, to all, their altars smoak,
They each with victims, and perfumes invoke.
Now talking Fame, thro' every Grecian town,
Had spread, immortal Theseus, thy renown.
From him the neighb'ring nations in distress,
In suppliant terms implore a kind redress.
The Story of From him the Caledonians sought relief;
Meleager and Though valiant Meleagros was their chief.
Atalanta The cause, a boar, who ravag'd far and near:
Of Cynthia's wrath, th' avenging minister.
For Oeneus with autumnal plenty bless'd,
By gifts to Heav'n his gratitude express'd:
Cull'd sheafs, to Ceres; to Lyaeus, wine;
To Pan, and Pales, offer'd sheep and kine;
And fat of olives, to Minerva's shrine.
Beginning from the rural Gods, his hand
Was lib'ral to the Pow'rs of high command:
Each deity in ev'ry kind was bless'd,
'Till at Diana's fane th' invidious honour ceas'd.
Wrath touches ev'n the Gods; the Queen of Night,
Fir'd with disdain, and jealous of her right,
Unhonour'd though I am, at least, said she,
Not unreveng'd that impious act shall be.
Swift as the word, she sped the boar away,
With charge on those devoted fields to prey.
No larger bulls th' Aegyptian pastures feed,
And none so large Sicilian meadows breed:
His eye-balls glare with fire suffus'd with blood;
His neck shoots up a thick-set thorny wood;
His bristled back a trench impal'd appears,
And stands erected, like a field of spears;
Froth fills his chaps, he sends a grunting sound,
And part he churns, and part befoams the ground,
For tusks with Indian elephants he strove,
And Jove's own thunder from his mouth he drove.
He burns the leaves; the scorching blast invades
The tender corn, and shrivels up the blades:
Or suff'ring not their yellow beards to rear,
He tramples down the spikes, and intercepts the
year:
In vain the barns expect their promis'd load,
Nor barns at home, nor recks are heap'd abroad:
In vain the hinds the threshing-floor prepare,
And exercise their flail in empty air.
With olives ever-green the ground is strow'd,
And grapes ungather'd shed their gen'rous blood.
Amid the fold he rages, nor the sheep
Their shepherds, nor the grooms their bulls can
keep.
From fields to walls the frighted rabble run,
Nor think themselves secure within the town:
'Till Meleagros, and his chosen crew,
Contemn the danger, and the praise pursue.
Fair Leda's twins (in time to stars decreed)
One fought on foot, one curb'd the fiery steed;
Then issu'd forth fam'd Jason after these,
Who mann'd the foremost ship that sail'd the seas;
Then Theseus join'd with bold Perithous came;
A single concord in a double name:
The Thestian sons, Idas who swiftly ran,
And Ceneus, once a woman, now a man.
Lynceus, with eagle's eyes, and lion's heart;
Leucippus, with his never-erring dart;
Acastus, Phileus, Phoenix, Telamon,
Echion, Lelix, and Eurytion,
Achilles' father, and great Phocus' son;
Dryas the fierce, and Hippasus the strong;
With twice old Iolas, and Nestor then but young.
Laertes active, and Ancaeus bold;
Mopsus the sage, who future things foretold;
And t' other seer, yet by his wife unsold.
A thousand others of immortal fame;
Among the rest, fair Atalanta came,
Grace of the woods: a diamond buckle bound
Her vest behind, that else had flow'd upon the
ground,
And shew'd her buskin'd legs; her head was bare,
But for her native ornament of hair;
Which in a simple knot was ty'd above,
Sweet negligence! unheeded bait of love!
Her sounding quiver, on her shoulder ty'd,
One hand a dart, and one a bow supply'd.
Such was her face, as in a nymph display'd
A fair fierce boy, or in a boy betray'd
The blushing beauties of a modest maid.
The Caledonian chief at once the dame
Beheld, at once his heart receiv'd the flame,
With Heav'ns averse. O happy youth, he cry'd;
For whom thy fates reserve so fair a bride!
He sigh'd, and had no leisure more to say;
His honour call'd his eyes another way,
And forc'd him to pursue the now-neglected prey.
There stood a forest on a mountain's brow,
Which over-look'd the shaded plains below.
No sounding ax presum'd those trees to bite;
Coeval with the world, a venerable sight.
The heroes there arriv'd, some spread around
The toils; some search the footsteps on the ground:
Some from the chains the faithful dogs unbound.
Of action eager, and intent in thought,
The chiefs their honourable danger sought:
A valley stood below; the common drain
Of waters from above, and falling rain:
The bottom was a moist, and marshy ground,
Whose edges were with bending oziers crown'd:
The knotty bulrush next in order stood,
And all within of reeds a trembling wood.
From hence the boar was rous'd, and sprung amain,
Like lightning sudden, on the warrior train;
Beats down the trees before him, shakes the ground.
The forest echoes to the crackling sound;
Shout the fierce youth, and clamours ring around.
All stood with their protended spears prepar'd,
With broad steel heads the brandish'd weapons
glar'd.
The beast impetuous with his tusks aside
Deals glancing wounds; the fearful dogs divide:
All spend their mouths aloof, but none abide.
Echion threw the first, but miss'd his mark,
And stuck his boar-spear on a maple's bark.
Then Jason; and his javelin seem'd to take,
But fail'd with over-force, and whiz'd above his
back.
Mopsus was next; but e'er he threw, address'd
To Phoebus, thus: O patron, help thy priest:
If I adore, and ever have ador'd
Thy pow'r divine, thy present aid afford;
That I may reach the beast. The God allow'd
His pray'r, and smiling, gave him what he cou'd:
He reach'd the savage, but no blood he drew:
Dian unarm'd the javelin, as it flew.
This chaf'd the boar, his nostrils flames expire,
And his red eye-balls roul with living fire.
Whirl'd from a sling, or from an engine thrown,
Amid the foes, so flies a mighty stone,
As flew the beast: the left wing put to flight,
The chiefs o'er-born, he rushes on the right.
Eupalamos and Pelagon he laid
In dust, and next to death, but for their fellows'
aid.
Onesimus far'd worse, prepar'd to fly,
The fatal fang drove deep within his thigh,
And cut the nerves: the nerves no more sustain
The bulk; the bulk unprop'd, falls headlong on the
plain.
Nestor had fail'd the fall of Troy to see,
But leaning on his lance, he vaulted on a tree;
Then gath'ring up his feet, look'd down with fear,
And thought his monstrous foe was still too near.
Against a stump his tusk the monster grinds,
And in the sharpen'd edge new vigour finds;
Then, trusting to his arms, young Othrys found,
And ranch'd his hips with one continu'd wound.
Now Leda's twins, the future stars, appear;
White were their habits, white their horses were:
Conspicuous both, and both in act to throw,
Their trembling lances brandish'd at the foe:
Nor had they miss'd; but he to thickets fled,
Conceal'd from aiming spears, not pervious to the
steed.
But Telamon rush'd in, and happ'd to meet
A rising root, that held his fastned feet;
So down he fell, whom, sprawling on the ground,
His brother from the wooden gyves unbound.
Mean-time the virgin-huntress was not slow
T' expel the shaft from her contracted bow:
Beneath his ear the fastned arrow stood,
And from the wound appear'd the trickling blood.
She blush'd for joy: but Meleagros rais'd
His voice with loud applause, and the fair archer
prais'd.
He was the first to see, and first to show
His friends the marks of the successful blow.
Nor shall thy valour want the praises due,
He said; a virtuous envy seiz'd the crew.
They shout; the shouting animates their hearts,
And all at once employ their thronging darts:
But out of order thrown, in air they joyn,
And multitude makes frustrate the design.
With both his hands the proud Ancaeus takes,
And flourishes his double-biting ax:
Then, forward to his fate, he took a stride
Before the rest, and to his fellows cry'd,
Give place, and mark the diff'rence, if you can,
Between a woman warrior, and a man,
The boar is doom'd; nor though Diana lend
Her aid, Diana can her beast defend.
Thus boasted he; then stretch'd, on tiptoe stood,
Secure to make his empty promise good.
But the more wary beast prevents the blow,
And upward rips the groin of his audacious foe.
Ancaeus falls; his bowels from the wound
Rush out, and clotted blood distains the ground.
Perithous, no small portion of the war,
Press'd on, and shook his lance: to whom from far
Thus Theseus cry'd; O stay, my better part,
My more than mistress; of my heart, the heart.
The strong may fight aloof; Ancaeus try'd
His force too near, and by presuming dy'd:
He said, and while he spake his javelin threw,
Hissing in air th' unerring weapon flew;
But on an arm of oak, that stood betwixt
The marks-man and the mark, his lance he fixt.
Once more bold Jason threw, but fail'd to wound
The boar, and slew an undeserving hound,
And thro' the dog the dart was nail'd to ground.
Two spears from Meleager's hand were sent,
With equal force, but various in th' event:
The first was fix'd in earth, the second stood
On the boar's bristled back, and deeply drank his
blood.
Now while the tortur'd savage turns around,
And flings about his foam, impatient of the wound,
The wound's great author close at hand provokes
His rage, and plies him with redoubled strokes;
Wheels, as he wheels; and with his pointed dart
Explores the nearest passage to his heart.
Quick, and more quick he spins in giddy gires,
Then falls, and in much foam his soul expires.
This act with shouts heav'n-high the friendly band
Applaud, and strain in theirs the victor's hand.
Then all approach the slain with vast surprize,
Admire on what a breadth of earth he lies,
And scarce secure, reach out their spears afar,
And blood their points, to prove their partnership
of war.
But he, the conqu'ring chief, his foot impress'd
On the strong neck of that destructive beast;
And gazing on the nymph with ardent eyes,
Accept, said he, fair Nonacrine, my prize,
And, though inferior, suffer me to join
My labours, and my part of praise, with thine:
At this presents her with the tusky head
And chine, with rising bristles roughly spread.
Glad she receiv'd the gift; and seem'd to take
With double pleasure, for the giver's sake.
The rest were seiz'd with sullen discontent,
And a deaf murmur through the squadron went:
All envy'd; but the Thestyan brethren show'd
The least respect, and thus they vent their spleen
aloud:
Lay down those honour'd spoils, nor think to share,
Weak woman as thou art, the prize of war:
Ours is the title, thine a foreign claim,
Since Meleagrus from our lineage came.
Trust not thy beauty; but restore the prize,
Which he, besotted on that face, and eyes,
Would rend from us: at this, enflam'd with spite,
From her they snatch the gift, from him the giver's
right.
But soon th' impatient prince his fauchion drew,
And cry'd, Ye robbers of another's due,
Now learn the diff'rence, at your proper cost,
Betwixt true valour, and an empty boast.
At this advanc'd, and sudden as the word,
In proud Plexippus' bosom plung'd the sword:
Toxeus amaz'd, and with amazement slow,
Or to revenge, or ward the coming blow,
Stood doubting; and while doubting thus he stood,
Receiv'd the steel bath'd in his brother's blood.
Pleas'd with the first, unknown the second news;
Althaea to the temples pays their dues
For her son's conquest; when at length appear
Her grisly brethren stretch'd upon the bier:
Pale at the sudden sight, she chang'd her cheer,
And with her cheer her robes; but hearing tell
The cause, the manner, and by whom they fell,
'Twas grief no more, or grief and rage were one
Within her soul; at last 'twas rage alone;
Which burning upwards in succession, dries
The tears, that stood consid'ring in her eyes.
There lay a log unlighted on the hearth,
When she was lab'ring in the throws of birth
For th' unborn chief; the fatal sisters came,
And rais'd it up, and toss'd it on the flame:
Then on the rock a scanty measure place
Of vital flax, and turn'd the wheel apace;
And turning sung, To this red brand and thee,
O new born babe, we give an equal destiny;
So vanish'd out of view. The frighted dame
Sprung hasty from her bed, and quench'd the flame:
The log, in secret lock'd, she kept with care,
And that, while thus preserv'd, preserv'd her heir.
This brand she now produc'd; and first she strows
The hearth with heaps of chips, and after blows;
Thrice heav'd her hand, and heav'd, she thrice
repress'd:
The sister and the mother long contest,
Two doubtful titles, in one tender breast:
And now her eyes, and cheeks with fury glow,
Now pale her cheeks, her eyes with pity flow:
Now low'ring looks presage approaching storms,
And now prevailing love her face reforms:
Resolv'd, she doubts again; the tears she dry'd
With burning rage, are by new tears supply'd;
And as a ship, which winds and waves assail
Now with the current drives, now with the gale,
Both opposite, and neither long prevail:
She feels a double force, by turns obeys
Th' imperious tempest, and th' impetuous seas:
So fares Althaea's mind, she first relents
With pity, of that pity then repents:
Sister, and mother long the scales divide,
But the beam nodded on the sister's side.
Sometimes she softly sigh'd, then roar'd aloud;
But sighs were stifled in the cries of blood.
The pious, impious wretch at length decreed,
To please her brothers' ghost, her son should
bleed:
And when the fun'ral flames began to rise,
Receive, she said, a sister's sacrifice;
A mother's bowels burn: high in her hand,
Thus while she spoke, she held the fatal brand;
Then thrice before the kindled pile she bow'd,
And the three Furies thrice invok'd aloud:
Come, come, revenging sisters, come, and view
A sister paying her dead brothers due:
A crime I punish, and a crime commit;
But blood for blood, and death for death is fit:
Great crimes must be with greater crimes repaid,
And second fun'rals on the former laid.
Let the whole houshold in one ruin fall,
And may Diana's curse o'ertake us all.
Shall Fate to happy Oenus still allow
One son, while Thestius stands depriv'd of two?
Better three lost, than one unpunish'd go.
Take then, dear ghosts (while yet admitted new
In Hell you wait my duty), take your due:
A costly off'ring on your tomb is laid,
When with my blood the price of yours is paid.
Ah! whither am I hurry'd? Ah! forgive,
Ye shades, and let your sister's issue live;
A mother cannot give him death; tho' he
Deserves it, he deserves it not from me.
Then shall th' unpunish'd wretch insult the
slain,
Triumphant live, nor only live, but reign?
While you, thin shades, the sport of winds, are
tost
O'er dreary plains, or tread the burning coast.
I cannot, cannot bear; 'tis past, 'tis done;
Perish this impious, this detested son:
Perish his sire, and perish I withal;
And let the house's heir, and the hop'd kingdom
fall.
Where is the mother fled, her pious love,
And where the pains with which ten months I strove!
Ah! had'st thou dy'd, my son, in infant years,
Thy little herse had been bedew'd with tears.
Thou liv'st by me; to me thy breath resign;
Mine is the merit, the demerit thine.
Thy life by double title I require;
Once giv'n at birth, and once preserv'd from fire:
One murder pay, or add one murder more,
And me to them who fell by thee restore.
I would, but cannot: my son's image stands
Before my sight; and now their angry hands
My brothers hold, and vengeance these exact;
This pleads compassion, and repents the fact.
He pleads in vain, and I pronounce his doom:
My brothers, though unjustly, shall o'ercome.
But having paid their injur'd ghosts their due,
My son requires my death, and mine shall his
pursue.
At this, for the last time, she lifts her hand,
Averts her eyes, and, half unwilling, drops the
brand.
The brand, amid the flaming fewel thrown,
Or drew, or seem'd to draw, a dying groan;
The fires themselves but faintly lick'd their prey,
Then loath'd their impious food, and would have
shrunk away.
Just then the heroe cast a doleful cry,
And in those absent flames began to fry:
The blind contagion rag'd within his veins;
But he with manly patience bore his pains:
He fear'd not Fate, but only griev'd to die
Without an honest wound, and by a death so dry.
Happy Ancaeus, thrice aloud he cry'd,
With what becoming fate in arms he dy'd!
Then call'd his brothers, sisters, sire around,
And, her to whom his nuptial vows were bound,
Perhaps his mother; a long sigh she drew,
And his voice failing, took his last adieu.
For as the flames augment, and as they stay
At their full height, then languish to decay,
They rise and sink by fits; at last they soar
In one bright blaze, and then descend no more:
Just so his inward heats, at height, impair,
'Till the last burning breath shoots out the soul
in air.
Now lofty Calidon in ruins lies;
All ages, all degrees unsluice their eyes,
And Heav'n, and Earth resound with murmurs, groans,
and cries.
Matrons and maidens beat their breasts, and tear
Their habits, and root up their scatter'd hair:
The wretched father, father now no more,
With sorrow sunk, lies prostrate on the floor,
Deforms his hoary locks with dust obscene,
And curses age, and loaths a life prolong'd with
pain.
By steel her stubborn soul his mother freed,
And punish'd on her self her impious deed.
Had I a hundred tongues, a wit so large
As could their hundred offices discharge;
Had Phoebus all his Helicon bestow'd
In all the streams, inspiring all the God;
Those tongues, that wit, those streams, that God in
vain
Would offer to describe his sisters' pain:
They beat their breasts with many a bruizing blow,
'Till they turn livid, and corrupt the snow.
The corps they cherish, while the corps remains,
And exercise, and rub with fruitless pains;
And when to fun'ral flames 'tis born away,
They kiss the bed on which the body lay:
And when those fun'ral flames no longer burn
(The dust compos'd within a pious urn),
Ev'n in that urn their brother they confess,
And hug it in their arms, and to their bosoms
press.
His tomb is rais'd; then, stretch'd along the
ground,
Those living monuments his tomb surround:
Ev'n to his name, inscrib'd, their tears they pay,
'Till tears, and kisses wear his name away.
But Cynthia now had all her fury spent,
Not with less ruin than a race content:
Excepting Gorge, perish'd all the seed,
And her whom Heav'n for Hercules decreed.
Satiate at last, no longer she pursu'd
The weeping sisters; but With Wings endu'd,
And horny beaks, and sent to flit in air;
Who yearly round the tomb in feather'd flocks
repair.
The Theseus mean-while acquitting well his share
Transformation In the bold chace confed'rate like a war,
of the Naiads To Athens' lofty tow'rs his march ordain'd,
By Pallas lov'd, and where Erectheus reign'd.
But Achelous stop'd him on the way,
By rains a deluge, and constrain'd his stay.
O fam'd for glorious deeds, and great by blood,
Rest here, says he, nor trust the rapid flood;
It solid oaks has from its margin tore,
And rocky fragments down its current bore,
The murmur hoarse, and terrible the roar.
Oft have I seen herds with their shelt'ring fold
Forc'd from the banks, and in the torrent roul'd;
Nor strength the bulky steer from ruin freed,
Nor matchless swiftness sav'd the racing steed.
In cataracts when the dissolving snow
Falls from the hills, and floods the plains below;
Toss'd by the eddies with a giddy round,
Strong youths are in the sucking whirlpools
drown'd.
'Tis best with me in safety to abide,
'Till usual bounds restrain the ebbing tide,
And the low waters in their channel glide.
Theseus perswaded, in compliance bow'd:
So kind an offer, and advice so good,
O Achelous, cannot be refus'd;
I'll use them both, said he; and both he us'd.
The grot he enter'd, pumice built the hall,
And tophi made the rustick of the wall;
The floor, soft moss, an humid carpet spread,
And various shells the chequer'd roof inlaid.
'Twas now the hour when the declining sun
Two thirds had of his daily journey run;
At the spread table Theseus took his place,
Next his companions in the daring chace;
Perithous here, there elder Lelex lay,
His locks betraying age with sprinkled grey.
Acharnia's river-God dispos'd the rest,
Grac'd with the equal honour of the feast,
Elate with joy, and proud of such a guest.
The nymphs were waiters, and with naked feet
In order serv'd the courses of the meat.
The banquet done, delicious wine they brought,
Of one transparent gem the cup was wrought.
Then the great heroe of this gallant train,
Surveying far the prospect of the main:
What is that land, says he, the waves embrace?
(And with his finger pointed at the place);
Is it one parted isle which stands alone?
How nam'd? and yet methinks it seems not one.
To whom the watry God made this reply;
'Tis not one isle, but five; distinct they lye;
'Tis distance which deceives the cheated eye.
But that Diana's act may seem less strange,
These once proud Naiads were, before their change.
'Twas on a day more solemn than the rest,
Ten bullocks slain, a sacrificial feast:
The rural Gods of all the region near
They bid to dance, and taste the hallow'd cheer.
Me they forgot: affronted with the slight,
My rage, and stream swell'd to the greatest height;
And with the torrent of my flooding store,
Large woods from woods, and fields from fields I
tore.
The guilty nymphs, oh! then, remembring me,
I, with their country, wash'd into the sea;
And joining waters with the social main,
Rent the gross land, and split the firm champagne.
Since, the Echinades, remote from shore
Are view'd as many isles, as nymphs before.
Perimele But yonder far, lo, yonder does appear
turn'd into An isle, a part to me for ever dear.
an Island From that (it sailors Perimele name)
I doating, forc'd by rape a virgin's fame.
Hippodamas's passion grew so strong,
Gall'd with th' abuse, and fretted at the wrong,
He cast his pregnant daughter from a rock;
I spread my waves beneath, and broke the shock;
And as her swimming weight my stream convey'd,
I su'd for help divine, and thus I pray'd:
O pow'rful thou, whose trident does command
The realm of waters, which surround the land;
We sacred rivers, wheresoe'er begun,
End in thy lot, and to thy empire run.
With favour hear, and help with present aid;
Her whom I bear 'twas guilty I betray'd.
Yet if her father had been just, or mild,
He would have been less impious to his child;
In her, have pity'd force in the abuse;
In me, admitted love for my excuse.
O let relief for her hard case be found,
Her, whom paternal rage expell'd from ground,
Her, whom paternal rage relentless drown'd.
Grant her some place, or change her to a place,
Which I may ever clasp with my embrace.
His nodding head the sea's great ruler bent,
And all his waters shook with his assent.
The nymph still swam, tho' with the fright
distrest,
I felt her heart leap trembling in her breast;
But hardning soon, whilst I her pulse explore,
A crusting Earth cas'd her stiff body o'er;
And as accretions of new-cleaving soil
Inlarg'd the mass, the nymph became an isle.
The Story of Thus Achelous ends: his audience hear
Baucis and With admiration, and admiring, fear
Philemon The Pow'rs of Heav'n; except Ixion's Son,
Who laugh'd at all the Gods, believ'd in none:
He shook his impious head, and thus replies.
These legends are no more than pious lies:
You attribute too much to heav'nly sway,
To think they give us forms, and take away.
The rest of better minds, their sense declar'd
Against this doctrine, and with horror heard.
Then Lelex rose, an old experienc'd man,
And thus with sober gravity began;
Heav'n's pow'r is infinite: Earth, Air, and Sea,
The manufacture mass, the making Pow'r obey:
By proof to clear your doubt; in Phrygian ground
Two neighb'ring trees, with walls encompass'd
round,
Stand on a mod'rate rise, with wonder shown,
One a hard oak, a softer linden one:
I saw the place, and them, by Pittheus sent
To Phrygian realms, my grandsire's government.
Not far from thence is seen a lake, the haunt
Of coots, and of the fishing cormorant:
Here Jove with Hermes came; but in disguise
Of mortal men conceal'd their deities;
One laid aside his thunder, one his rod;
And many toilsome steps together trod:
For harbour at a thousand doors they knock'd,
Not one of all the thousand but was lock'd.
At last an hospitable house they found,
A homely shed; the roof, not far from ground,
Was thatch'd with reeds, and straw, together bound.
There Baucis and Philemon liv'd, and there
Had liv'd long marry'd, and a happy pair:

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Metamorphoses: Book The Eleventh

HERE, while the Thracian bard's enchanting strain
Sooths beasts, and woods, and all the listn'ing
plain,
The female Bacchanals, devoutly mad,
In shaggy skins, like savage creatures, clad,
Warbling in air perceiv'd his lovely lay,
And from a rising ground beheld him play.
When one, the wildest, with dishevel'd hair,
That loosely stream'd, and ruffled in the air;
Soon as her frantick eye the lyrist spy'd,
See, see! the hater of our sex, she cry'd.
Then at his face her missive javelin sent,
Which whiz'd along, and brusht him as it went;
But the soft wreathes of ivy twisted round,
Prevent a deep impression of the wound.
Another, for a weapon, hurls a stone,
Which, by the sound subdu'd as soon as thrown,
Falls at his feet, and with a seeming sense
Implores his pardon for its late offence.
The Death of But now their frantick rage unbounded grows,
Orpheus Turns all to madness, and no measure knows:
Yet this the charms of musick might subdue,
But that, with all its charms, is conquer'd too;
In louder strains their hideous yellings rise,
And squeaking horn-pipes eccho thro' the skies,
Which, in hoarse consort with the drum, confound
The moving lyre, and ev'ry gentle sound:
Then 'twas the deafen'd stones flew on with speed,
And saw, unsooth'd, their tuneful poet bleed.
The birds, the beasts, and all the savage crew
Which the sweet lyrist to attention drew,
Now, by the female mob's more furious rage,
Are driv'n, and forc'd to quit the shady stage.
Next their fierce hands the bard himself assail,
Nor can his song against their wrath prevail:
They flock, like birds, when in a clustring flight,
By day they chase the boding fowl of night.
So crowded amphitheatres survey
The stag, to greedy dogs a future prey.
Their steely javelins, which soft curls entwine
Of budding tendrils from the leafy vine,
For sacred rites of mild religion made,
Are flung promiscuous at the poet's head.
Those clods of earth or flints discharge, and these
Hurl prickly branches sliver'd from the trees.
And, lest their passion shou'd be unsupply'd,
The rabble crew, by chance, at distance spy'd
Where oxen, straining at the heavy yoke,
The fallow'd field with slow advances broke;
Nigh which the brawny peasants dug the soil,
Procuring food with long laborious toil.
These, when they saw the ranting throng draw near,
Quitted their tools, and fled, possest with fear.
Long spades, and rakes of mighty size were found,
Carelesly left upon the broken ground.
With these the furious lunaticks engage,
And first the lab'ring oxen feel their rage;
Then to the poet they return with speed,
Whose fate was, past prevention, now decreed:
In vain he lifts his suppliant hands, in vain
He tries, before, his never-failing strain.
And, from those sacred lips, whose thrilling sound
Fierce tygers, and insensate rocks cou'd wound,
Ah Gods! how moving was the mournful sight!
To see the fleeting soul now take its flight.
Thee the soft warblers of the feather'd kind
Bewail'd; for thee thy savage audience pin'd;
Those rocks and woods that oft thy strain had led,
Mourn for their charmer, and lament him dead;
And drooping trees their leafy glories shed.
Naids and Dryads with dishevel'd hair
Promiscuous weep, and scarfs of sable wear;
Nor cou'd the river-Gods conceal their moan,
But with new floods of tears augment their own.
His mangled limbs lay scatter'd all around,
His head, and harp a better fortune found;
In Hebrus' streams they gently roul'd along,
And sooth'd the waters with a mournful song.
Soft deadly notes the lifeless tongue inspire,
A doleful tune sounds from the floating lyre;
The hollows banks in solemn consort mourn,
And the sad strain in ecchoing groans return.
Now with the current to the sea they glide,
Born by the billows of the briny tide;
And driv'n where waves round rocky Lesbos roar,
They strand, and lodge upon Methymna's shore.
But here, when landed on the foreign soil,
A venom'd snake, the product of the isle
Attempts the head, and sacred locks embru'd
With clotted gore, and still fresh-dropping blood.
Phoebus, at last, his kind protection gives,
And from the fact the greedy monster drives:
Whose marbled jaws his impious crime atone,
Still grinning ghastly, tho' transform'd to stone.
His ghost flies downward to the Stygian shore,
And knows the places it had seen before:
Among the shadows of the pious train
He finds Eurydice, and loves again;
With pleasure views the beauteous phantom's charms,
And clasps her in his unsubstantial arms.
There side by side they unmolested walk,
Or pass their blissful hours in pleasing talk;
Aft or before the bard securely goes,
And, without danger, can review his spouse.
The Thracian Bacchus, resolving to revenge the wrong,
Women Of Orpheus murder'd, on the madding throng,
transform'd to Decreed that each accomplice dame should stand
Trees Fix'd by the roots along the conscious land.
Their wicked feet, that late so nimbly ran
To wreak their malice on the guiltless man,
Sudden with twisted ligatures were bound,
Like trees, deep planted in the turfy ground.
And, as the fowler with his subtle gins,
His feather'd captives by the feet entwines,
That flutt'ring pant, and struggle to get loose,
Yet only closer draw the fatal noose;
So these were caught; and, as they strove in vain
To quit the place, they but encreas'd their pain.
They flounce and toil, yet find themselves
controul'd;
The root, tho' pliant, toughly keeps its hold.
In vain their toes and feet they look to find,
For ev'n their shapely legs are cloath'd with rind.
One smites her thighs with a lamenting stroke,
And finds the flesh transform'd to solid oak;
Another, with surprize, and grief distrest,
Lays on above, but beats a wooden breast.
A rugged bark their softer neck invades,
Their branching arms shoot up delightful shades;
At once they seem, and are, a real grove,
With mossy trunks below, and verdant leaves above.
The Fable of Nor this suffic'd; the God's disgust remains,
Midas And he resolves to quit their hated plains;
The vineyards of Tymole ingross his care,
And, with a better choir, he fixes there;
Where the smooth streams of clear Pactolus roll'd,
Then undistinguish'd for its sands of gold.
The satyrs with the nymphs, his usual throng,
Come to salute their God, and jovial danc'd along.
Silenus only miss'd; for while he reel'd,
Feeble with age, and wine, about the field,
The hoary drunkard had forgot his way,
And to the Phrygian clowns became a prey;
Who to king Midas drag the captive God,
While on his totty pate the wreaths of ivy nod.
Midas from Orpheus had been taught his lore,
And knew the rites of Bacchus long before.
He, when he saw his venerable guest,
In honour of the God ordain'd a feast.
Ten days in course, with each continu'd night,
Were spent in genial mirth, and brisk delight:
Then on th' eleventh, when with brighter ray
Phosphor had chac'd the fading stars away,
The king thro' Lydia's fields young Bacchus sought,
And to the God his foster-father brought.
Pleas'd with the welcome sight, he bids him soon
But name his wish, and swears to grant the boon.
A glorious offer! yet but ill bestow'd
On him whose choice so little judgment show'd.
Give me, says he (nor thought he ask'd too much),
That with my body whatsoe'er I touch,
Chang'd from the nature which it held of old,
May be converted into yellow gold.
He had his wish; but yet the God repin'd,
To think the fool no better wish could find.
But the brave king departed from the place,
With smiles of gladness sparkling in his face:
Nor could contain, but, as he took his way,
Impatient longs to make the first essay.
Down from a lowly branch a twig he drew,
The twig strait glitter'd with a golden hue:
He takes a stone, the stone was turn'd to gold;
A clod he touches, and the crumbling mold
Acknowledg'd soon the great transforming pow'r,
In weight and substance like a mass of ore.
He pluck'd the corn, and strait his grasp appears
Fill'd with a bending tuft of golden ears.
An apple next he takes, and seems to hold
The bright Hesperian vegetable gold.
His hand he careless on a pillar lays.
With shining gold the fluted pillars blaze:
And while he washes, as the servants pour,
His touch converts the stream to Danae's show'r.
To see these miracles so finely wrought,
Fires with transporting joy his giddy thought.
The ready slaves prepare a sumptuous board,
Spread with rich dainties for their happy lord;
Whose pow'rful hands the bread no sooner hold,
But its whole substance is transform'd to gold:
Up to his mouth he lifts the sav'ry meat,
Which turns to gold as he attempts to eat:
His patron's noble juice of purple hue,
Touch'd by his lips, a gilded cordial grew;
Unfit for drink, and wondrous to behold,
It trickles from his jaws a fluid gold.
The rich poor fool, confounded with surprize,
Starving in all his various plenty lies:
Sick of his wish, he now detests the pow'r,
For which he ask'd so earnestly before;
Amidst his gold with pinching famine curst;
And justly tortur'd with an equal thirst.
At last his shining arms to Heav'n he rears,
And in distress, for refuge, flies to pray'rs.
O father Bacchus, I have sinn'd, he cry'd,
And foolishly thy gracious gift apply'd;
Thy pity now, repenting, I implore;
Oh! may I feel the golden plague no more.
The hungry wretch, his folly thus confest,
Touch'd the kind deity's good-natur'd breast;
The gentle God annull'd his first decree,
And from the cruel compact set him free.
But then, to cleanse him quite from further harm,
And to dilute the relicks of the charm,
He bids him seek the stream that cuts the land
Nigh where the tow'rs of Lydian Sardis stand;
Then trace the river to the fountain head,
And meet it rising from its rocky bed;
There, as the bubling tide pours forth amain,
To plunge his body in, and wash away the stain.
The king instructed to the fount retires,
But with the golden charm the stream inspires:
For while this quality the man forsakes,
An equal pow'r the limpid water takes;
Informs with veins of gold the neighb'ring land,
And glides along a bed of golden sand.
Now loathing wealth, th' occasion of his woes,
Far in the woods he sought a calm repose;
In caves and grottos, where the nymphs resort,
And keep with mountain Pan their sylvan court.
Ah! had he left his stupid soul behind!
But his condition alter'd not his mind.
For where high Tmolus rears his shady brow,
And from his cliffs surveys the seas below,
In his descent, by Sardis bounded here,
By the small confines of Hypaepa there,
Pan to the nymphs his frolick ditties play'd,
Tuning his reeds beneath the chequer'd shade.
The nymphs are pleas'd, the boasting sylvan plays,
And speaks with slight of great Apollo's lays.
Tmolus was arbiter; the boaster still
Accepts the tryal with unequal skill.
The venerable judge was seated high
On his own hill, that seem'd to touch the sky.
Above the whisp'ring trees his head he rears,
From their encumbring boughs to free his ears;
A wreath of oak alone his temples bound,
The pendant acorns loosely dangled round.
In me your judge, says he, there's no delay:
Then bids the goatherd God begin, and play.
Pan tun'd the pipe, and with his rural song
Pleas'd the low taste of all the vulgar throng;
Such songs a vulgar judgment mostly please,
Midas was there, and Midas judg'd with these.
The mountain sire with grave deportment now
To Phoebus turns his venerable brow:
And, as he turns, with him the listning wood
In the same posture of attention stood.
The God his own Parnassian laurel crown'd,
And in a wreath his golden tresses bound,
Graceful his purple mantle swept the ground.
High on the left his iv'ry lute he rais'd,
The lute, emboss'd with glitt'ring jewels, blaz'd
In his right hand he nicely held the quill,
His easy posture spoke a master's skill.
The strings he touch'd with more than human art,
Which pleas'd the judge's ear, and sooth'd his
heart;
Who soon judiciously the palm decreed,
And to the lute postpon'd the squeaking reed.
All, with applause, the rightful sentence heard,
Midas alone dissatisfy'd appear'd;
To him unjustly giv'n the judgment seems,
For Pan's barbarick notes he most esteems.
The lyrick God, who thought his untun'd ear
Deserv'd but ill a human form to wear,
Of that deprives him, and supplies the place
With some more fit, and of an ampler space:
Fix'd on his noddle an unseemly pair,
Flagging, and large, and full of whitish hair;
Without a total change from what he was,
Still in the man preserves the simple ass.
He, to conceal the scandal of the deed,
A purple turbant folds about his head;
Veils the reproach from publick view, and fears
The laughing world would spy his monstrous ears.
One trusty barber-slave, that us'd to dress
His master's hair, when lengthen'd to excess,
The mighty secret knew, but knew alone,
And, tho' impatient, durst not make it known.
Restless, at last, a private place he found,
Then dug a hole, and told it to the ground;
In a low whisper he reveal'd the case,
And cover'd in the earth, and silent left the
place.
In time, of trembling reeds a plenteous crop
From the confided furrow sprouted up;
Which, high advancing with the ripening year,
Made known the tiller, and his fruitless care:
For then the rustling blades, and whisp'ring wind,
To tell th' important secret, both combin'd.
The Building of Phoebus, with full revenge, from Tmolus flies,
Troy Darts thro' the air, and cleaves the liquid skies;
Near Hellespont he lights, and treads the plains
Where great Laomedon sole monarch reigns;
Where, built between the two projecting strands,
To Panomphaean Jove an altar stands.
Here first aspiring thoughts the king employ,
To found the lofty tow'rs of future Troy.
The work, from schemes magnificent begun,
At vast expence was slowly carry'd on:
Which Phoebus seeing, with the trident God
Who rules the swelling surges with his nod,
Assuming each a mortal shape, combine
At a set price to finish his design.
The work was built; the king their price denies,
And his injustice backs with perjuries.
This Neptune cou'd not brook, but drove the main,
A mighty deluge, o'er the Phrygian plain:
'Twas all a sea; the waters of the deep
From ev'ry vale the copious harvest sweep;
The briny billows overflow the soil,
Ravage the fields, and mock the plowman's toil.
Nor this appeas'd the God's revengeful mind,
For still a greater plague remains behind;
A huge sea-monster lodges on the sands,
And the king's daughter for his prey demands.
To him that sav'd the damsel, was decreed
A set of horses of the Sun's fine breed:
But when Alcides from the rock unty'd
The trembling fair, the ransom was deny'd.
He, in revenge, the new-built walls attack'd,
And the twice-perjur'd city bravely sack'd.
Telamon aided, and in justice shar'd
Part of the plunder as his due reward:
The princess, rescu'd late, with all her charms,
Hesione, was yielded to his arms;
For Peleus, with a Goddess-bride, was more
Proud of his spouse, than of his birth before:
Grandsons to Jove there might be more than one,
But he the Goddess had enjoy'd alone.
The Story of For Proteus thus to virgin Thetis said,
Thetis and Fair Goddess of the waves, consent to wed,
Peleus And take some spritely lover to your bed.
A son you'll have, the terror of the field,
To whom in fame, and pow'r his sire shall yield.
Jove, who ador'd the nymph with boundless love,
Did from his breast the dangerous flame remove.
He knew the Fates, nor car'd to raise up one,
Whose fame and greatness should eclipse his own,
On happy Peleus he bestow'd her charms,
And bless'd his grandson in the Goddess' arms:
A silent creek Thessalia's coast can show;
Two arms project, and shape it like a bow;
'Twould make a bay, but the transparent tide
Does scarce the yellow-gravell'd bottom hide;
For the quick eye may thro' the liquid wave
A firm unweedy level beach perceive.
A grove of fragrant myrtle near it grows,
Whose boughs, tho' thick, a beauteous grot
disclose;
The well-wrought fabrick, to discerning eyes,
Rather by art than Nature seems to rise.
A bridled dolphin oft fair Thetis bore
To this her lov'd retreat, her fav'rite shore.
Here Peleus seiz'd her, slumbring while she lay,
And urg'd his suit with all that love could say:
But when he found her obstinately coy,
Resolv'd to force her, and command the joy;
The nymph, o'erpowr'd, to art for succour flies
And various shapes the eager youth surprize:
A bird she seems, but plies her wings in vain,
His hands the fleeting substance still detain:
A branchy tree high in the air she grew;
About its bark his nimble arms he threw:
A tyger next she glares with flaming eyes;
The frighten'd lover quits his hold, and flies:
The sea-Gods he with sacred rites adores,
Then a libation on the ocean pours;
While the fat entrails crackle in the fire,
And sheets of smoak in sweet perfume aspire;
'Till Proteus rising from his oozy bed,
Thus to the poor desponding lover said:
No more in anxious thoughts your mind employ,
For yet you shall possess the dear expected joy.
You must once more th' unwary nymph surprize,
As in her cooly grot she slumbring lies;
Then bind her fast with unrelenting hands,
And strain her tender limbs with knotted bands.
Still hold her under ev'ry different shape,
'Till tir'd she tries no longer to escape.
Thus he: then sunk beneath the glassy flood,
And broken accents flutter'd, where he stood.
Bright Sol had almost now his journey done,
And down the steepy western convex run;
When the fair Nereid left the briny wave,
And, as she us'd, retreated to her cave.
He scarce had bound her fast, when she arose,
And into various shapes her body throws:
She went to move her arms, and found 'em ty'd;
Then with a sigh, Some God assists ye, cry'd,
And in her proper shape stood blushing by his side.
About her waiste his longing arms he flung,
From which embrace the great Achilles sprung.
The Peleus unmix'd felicity enjoy'd
Transformation (Blest in a valiant son, and virtuous bride),
of Daedalion 'Till Fortune did in blood his hands imbrue,
And his own brother by curst chance he slew:
Then driv'n from Thessaly, his native clime,
Trachinia first gave shelter to his crime;
Where peaceful Ceyx mildly fill'd the throne,
And like his sire, the morning planet, shone;
But now, unlike himself, bedew'd with tears,
Mourning a brother lost, his brow appears.
First to the town with travel spent, and care,
Peleus, and his small company repair:
His herds, and flocks the while at leisure feed,
On the rich pasture of a neighb'ring mead.
The prince before the royal presence brought,
Shew'd by the suppliant olive what he sought;
Then tells his name, and race, and country right,
But hides th' unhappy reason of his flight.
He begs the king some little town to give,
Where they may safe his faithful vassals live.
Ceyx reply'd: To all my bounty flows,
A hospitable realm your suit has chose.
Your glorious race, and far-resounding fame,
And grandsire Jove, peculiar favours claim.
All you can wish, I grant; entreaties spare;
My kingdom (would 'twere worth the sharing) share.
Tears stop'd his speech: astonish'd Peleus pleads
To know the cause from whence his grief proceeds.
The prince reply'd: There's none of ye but deems
This hawk was ever such as now it seems;
Know 'twas a heroe once, Daedalion nam'd,
For warlike deeds, and haughty valour fam'd;
Like me to that bright luminary born,
Who wakes Aurora, and brings on the morn.
His fierceness still remains, and love of blood,
Now dread of birds, and tyrant of the wood.
My make was softer, peace my greatest care;
But this my brother wholly bent on war;
Late nations fear'd, and routed armies fled
That force, which now the tim'rous pigeons dread.
A daughter he possess'd, divinely fair,
And scarcely yet had seen her fifteenth year;
Young Chione: a thousand rivals strove
To win the maid, and teach her how to love.
Phoebus, and Mercury by chance one day
From Delphi, and Cyllene past this way;
Together they the virgin saw: desire
At once warm'd both their breasts with am'rous
fire.
Phoebus resolv'd to wait 'till close of day;
But Mercury's hot love brook'd no delay;
With his entrancing rod the maid he charms,
And unresisted revels in her arms.
'Twas night, and Phoebus in a beldam's dress,
To the late rifled beauty got access.
Her time compleat nine circling moons had run;
To either God she bore a lovely son:
To Mercury Autolycus she brought,
Who turn'd to thefts and tricks his subtle thought;
Possess'd he was of all his father's slight,
At will made white look black, and black look
white.
Philammon born to Phoebus, like his sire,
The Muses lov'd, and finely struck the lyre,
And made his voice, and touch in harmony conspire.
In vain, fond maid, you boast this double birth,
The love of Gods, and royal father's worth,
And Jove among your ancestors rehearse!
Could blessings such as these e'er prove a curse?
To her they did, who with audacious pride,
Vain of her own, Diana's charms decry'd.
Her taunts the Goddess with resentment fill;
My face you like not, you shall try my skill.
She said; and strait her vengeful bow she strung,
And sent a shaft that pierc'd her guilty tongue:
The bleeding tongue in vain its accents tries;
In the red stream her soul reluctant flies.
With sorrow wild I ran to her relief,
And try'd to moderate my brother's grief.
He, deaf as rocks by stormy surges beat,
Loudly laments, and hears me not intreat.
When on the fun'ral pile he saw her laid,
Thrice he to rush into the flames assay'd,
Thrice with officious care by us was stay'd.
Now, mad with grief, away he fled amain,
Like a stung heifer that resents the pain,
And bellowing wildly bounds along the plain.
O'er the most rugged ways so fast he ran,
He seem'd a bird already, not a man:
He left us breathless all behind; and now
In quest of death had gain'd Parnassus' brow:
But when from thence headlong himself he threw,
He fell not, but with airy pinions flew.
Phoebus in pity chang'd him to a fowl,
Whose crooked beak and claws the birds controul,
Little of bulk, but of a warlike soul.
A hawk become, the feather'd race's foe,
He tries to case his own by other's woe.
A Wolf turn'd While they astonish'd heard the king relate
into Marble These wonders of his hapless brother's fate;
The prince's herdsman at the court arrives,
And fresh surprize to all the audience gives.
O Peleus, Peleus! dreadful news I bear,
He said; and trembled as he spoke for fear.
The worst, affrighted Peleus bid him tell,
Whilst Ceyx too grew pale with friendly zeal.
Thus he began: When Sol mid-heav'n had gain'd,
And half his way was past, and half remain'd,
I to the level shore my cattle drove,
And let them freely in the meadows rove.
Some stretch'd at length admire the watry plain,
Some crop'd the herb, some wanton swam the main.
A temple stands of antique make hard by,
Where no gilt domes, nor marble lure the eye;
Unpolish'd rafters bear its lowly height,
Hid by a grove, as ancient, from the sight.
Here Nereus, and the Nereids they adore;
I learnt it from the man who thither bore
His net, to dry it on the sunny shore.
Adjoyns a lake, inclos'd with willows round,
Where swelling waves have overflow'd the mound,
And, muddy, stagnate on the lower ground.
From thence a russling noise increasing flies,
Strikes the still shore; and frights us with
surprize,
Strait a huge wolf rush'd from the marshy wood,
His jaws besmear'd with mingled foam, and blood,
Tho' equally by hunger urg'd, and rage,
His appetite he minds not to asswage;
Nought that he meets, his rabid fury spares,
But the whole herd with mad disorder tears.
Some of our men who strove to drive him thence,
Torn by his teeth, have dy'd in their defence.
The echoing lakes, the sea, and fields, and shore,
Impurpled blush with streams of reeking gore.
Delay is loss, nor have we time for thought;
While yet some few remain alive, we ought
To seize our arms, and with confederate force
Try if we so can stop his bloody course.
But Peleus car'd not for his ruin'd herd;
His crime he call'd to mind, and thence inferr'd,
That Psamathe's revenge this havock made,
In sacrifice to murder'd Phocus' shade.
The king commands his servants to their arms;
Resolv'd to go; but the loud noise alarms
His lovely queen, who from her chamber flew,
And her half-plaited hair behind her threw:
About his neck she hung with loving fears,
And now with words, and now with pleading tears,
Intreated that he'd send his men alone,
And stay himself, to save two lives in one.
Then Peleus: Your just fears, o queen, forget;
Too much the offer leaves me in your debt.
No arms against the monster I shall bear,
But the sea nymphs appease with humble pray'r.
The citadel's high turrets pierce the sky,
Which home-bound vessels, glad, from far descry;
This they ascend, and thence with sorrow ken
The mangled heifers lye, and bleeding men;
Th' inexorable ravager they view,
With blood discolour'd, still the rest pursue:
There Peleus pray'd submissive tow'rds the sea,
And deprecates the ire of injur'd Psamathe.
But deaf to all his pray'rs the nymph remain'd,
'Till Thetis for her spouse the boon obtain'd.
Pleas'd with the luxury, the furious beast,
Unstop'd, continues still his bloody feast:
While yet upon a sturdy bull he flew,
Chang'd by the nymph, a marble block he grew.
No longer dreadful now the wolf appears,
Bury'd in stone, and vanish'd like their fears.
Yet still the Fates unhappy Peleus vex'd;
To the Magnesian shore he wanders next.
Acastus there, who rul'd the peaceful clime,
Grants his request, and expiates his crime.
The Story of These prodigies affect the pious prince,
Ceyx and But more perplex'd with those that happen'd since,
Alcyone He purposes to seek the Clarian God,
Avoiding Delphi, his more fam'd abode,
Since Phlegyan robbers made unsafe the road.
Yet could he not from her he lov'd so well,
The fatal voyage, he resolv'd, conceal;
But when she saw her lord prepar'd to part,
A deadly cold ran shiv'ring to her heart;
Her faded cheeks are chang'd to boxen hue,
And in her eyes the tears are ever new.
She thrice essay'd to speak; her accents hung,
And falt'ring dy'd unfinish'd on her tongue,
And vanish'd into sighs: with long delay
Her voice return'd, and found the wonted way.
Tell me, my lord, she said, what fault unknown
Thy once belov'd Alcyone has done?
Whither, ah, whither, is thy kindness gone!
Can Ceyx then sustain to leave his wife,
And unconcern'd forsake the sweets of life?
What can thy mind to this long journey move?
Or need'st thou absence to renew thy love?
Yet, if thou go'st by land, tho' grief possess
My soul ev'n then, my fears will be the less.
But ah! be warn'd to shun the watry way,
The face is frightful of the stormy sea:
For late I saw a-drift disjointed planks,
And empty tombs erected on the banks.
Nor let false hopes to trust betray thy mind,
Because my sire in caves constrains the wind,
Can with a breath their clam'rous rage appease,
They fear his whistle, and forsake the seas:
Not so; for once indulg'd, they sweep the main;
Deaf to the call, or hearing, hear in vain;
But bent on mischief bear the waves before,
And not content with seas, insult the shore,
When ocean, air, and Earth, at once ingage,
And rooted forests fly before their rage:
At once the clashing clouds to battel move,
And lightnings run across the fields above:
I know them well, and mark'd their rude comport,
While yet a child within my father's court:
In times of tempest they command alone,
And he but sits precarious on the throne:
The more I know, the more my fears augment;
And fears are oft prophetick of th' event.
But if not fears, or reasons will prevail,
If Fate has fix'd thee obstinate to sail,
Go not without thy wife, but let me bear
My part of danger with an equal share,
And present, what I suffer only fear:
Then o'er the bounding billows shall we fly,
Secure to live together, or to die.
These reasons mov'd her warlike husband's heart,
But still he held his purpose to depart:
For as he lov'd her equal to his life,
He would not to the seas expose his wife;
Nor could be wrought his voyage to refrain,
But sought by arguments to sooth her pain:
Nor these avail'd; at length he lights on one,
With which so difficult a cause he won:
My love, so short an absence cease to fear,
For by my father's holy flame I swear,
Before two moons their orb with light adorn,
If Heav'n allow me life, I will return.
This promise of so short a stay prevails;
He soon equips the ship, supplies the sails,
And gives the word to launch; she trembling views
This pomp of death, and parting tears renews:
Last with a kiss, she took a long farewel,
Sigh'd with a sad presage, and swooning fell:
While Ceyx seeks delays, the lusty crew,
Rais'd on their banks, their oars in order drew
To their broad breasts, the ship with fury flew.
The queen recover'd, rears her humid eyes,
And first her husband on the poop espies,
Shaking his hand at distance on the main;
She took the sign, and shook her hand again.
Still as the ground recedes, contracts her view
With sharpen'd sight, 'till she no longer knew
The much-lov'd face; that comfort lost supplies
With less, and with the galley feeds her eyes;
The galley born from view by rising gales,
She follow'd with her sight the flying sails:
When ev'n the flying sails were seen no more,
Forsaken of all sight she left the shore.
Then on her bridal bed her body throws,
And sought in sleep her wearied eyes to close:
Her husband's pillow, and the widow'd part
Which once he press'd, renew'd the former smart.
And now a breeze from shoar began to blow,
The sailors ship their oars, and cease to row;
Then hoist their yards a-trip, and all their sails
Let fall, to court the wind, and catch the gales:
By this the vessel half her course had run,
Both shoars were lost to sight, when at the close
Of day a stiffer gale at east arose:
The sea grew white, the rouling waves from far,
Like heralds, first denounce the watry war.
This seen, the master soon began to cry,
Strike, strike the top-sail; let the main-sheet
fly,
And furl your sails: the winds repel the sound,
And in the speaker's mouth the speech is drown'd.
Yet of their own accord, as danger taught
Each in his way, officiously they wrought;
Some stow their oars, or stop the leaky sides,
Another bolder, yet the yard bestrides,
And folds the sails; a fourth with labour laves
Th' intruding seas, and waves ejects on waves.
In this confusion while their work they ply,
The winds augment the winter of the sky,
And wage intestine wars; the suff'ring seas
Are toss'd, and mingled, as their tyrants please.
The master would command, but in despair
Of safety, stands amaz'd with stupid care,
Nor what to bid, or what forbid he knows,
Th' ungovern'd tempest to such fury grows:
Vain is his force, and vainer is his skill;
With such a concourse comes the flood of ill;
The cries of men are mix'd with rattling shrowds;
Seas dash on seas, and clouds encounter clouds:
At once from east to west, from pole to pole,
The forky lightnings flash, the roaring thunders
roul.
Now waves on waves ascending scale the skies,
And in the fires above the water fries:
When yellow sands are sifted from below,
The glittering billows give a golden show:
And when the fouler bottom spews the black
The Stygian dye the tainted waters take:
Then frothy white appear the flatted seas,
And change their colour, changing their disease,
Like various fits the Trachin vessel finds,
And now sublime, she rides upon the winds;
As from a lofty summit looks from high,
And from the clouds beholds the nether sky;
Now from the depth of Hell they lift their sight,
And at a distance see superior light;
The lashing billows make a loud report,
And beat her sides, as batt'ring rams a fort:
Or as a lion bounding in his way,
With force augmented, bears against his prey,
Sidelong to seize; or unapal'd with fear,
Springs on the toils, and rushes on the spear:
So seas impell'd by winds, with added pow'r
Assault the sides, and o'er the hatches tow'r.
The planks (their pitchy cov'ring wash'd away)
Now yield; and now a yawning breach display:
The roaring waters with a hostile tide
Rush through the ruins of her gaping side.
Mean-time in sheets of rain the sky descends,
And ocean swell'd with waters upwards tends;
One rising, falling one, the Heav'ns and sea
Meet at their confines, in the middle way:
The sails are drunk with show'rs, and drop with
rain,
Sweet waters mingle with the briny main.
No star appears to lend his friendly light;
Darkness, and tempest make a double night;
But flashing fires disclose the deep by turns,
And while the lightnings blaze, the water burns.
Now all the waves their scatter'd force unite,
And as a soldier foremost in the fight,
Makes way for others, and an host alone
Still presses on, and urging gains the town;
So while th' invading billows come a-breast,
The hero tenth advanc'd before the rest,
Sweeps all before him with impetuous sway,
And from the walls descends upon the prey;
Part following enter, part remain without,
With envy hear their fellows' conqu'ring shout,
And mount on others' backs, in hopes to share
The city, thus become the seat of war.
An universal cry resounds aloud,
The sailors run in heaps, a helpless crowd;
Art fails, and courage falls, no succour near;
As many waves, as many deaths appear.
One weeps, and yet despairs of late relief;
One cannot weep, his fears congeal his grief,
But stupid, with dry eyes expects his fate:
One with loud shrieks laments his lost estate,
And calls those happy whom their fun'rals wait.
This wretch with pray'rs and vows the Gods
implores,
And ev'n the skies he cannot see, adores.
That other on his friends his thoughts bestows,
His careful father, and his faithful spouse.
The covetous worldling in his anxious mind,
Thinks only on the wealth he left behind.
All Ceyx his Alcyone employs,
For her he grieves, yet in her absence joys:
His wife he wishes, and would still be near,
Not her with him, but wishes him with her:
Now with last looks he seeks his native shoar,
Which Fate has destin'd him to see no more;
He sought, but in the dark tempestuous night
He knew not whither to direct his sight.
So whirl the seas, such darkness blinds the sky,
That the black night receives a deeper dye.
The giddy ship ran round; the tempest tore
Her mast, and over-board the rudder bore.
One billow mounts, and with a scornful brow,
Proud of her conquest gain'd, insults the waves
below;
Nor lighter falls, than if some giant tore
Pindus and Athos with the freight they bore,
And toss'd on seas; press'd with the pond'rous
blow,
Down sinks the ship within th' abyss below:
Down with the vessel sink into the main
The many, never more to rise again.
Some few on scatter'd planks, with fruitless care,
Lay hold, and swim; but while they swim, despair.
Ev'n he who late a scepter did command,
Now grasps a floating fragment in his hand;
And while he struggles on the stormy main,
Invokes his father, and his wife's, in vain.
But yet his consort is his greatest care,
Alcyone he names amidst his pray'r;
Names as a charm against the waves and wind;
Most in his mouth, and ever in his mind.
Tir'd with his toil, all hopes of safety past,
From pray'rs to wishes he descends at last;
That his dead body, wafted to the sands,
Might have its burial from her friendly hands,
As oft as he can catch a gulp of air,
And peep above the seas, he names the fair;
And ev'n when plung'd beneath, on her he raves,
Murm'ring Alcyone below the waves:
At last a falling billow stops his breath,
Breaks o'er his head, and whelms him underneath.
That night, his heav'nly form obscur'd with tears,
And since he was forbid to leave the skies,
He muffled with a cloud his mournful eyes.
Mean-time Alcyone (his fate unknown)
Computes how many nights he had been gone.
Observes the waining moon with hourly view,
Numbers her age, and wishes for a new;
Against the promis'd time provides with care,
And hastens in the woof the robes he was to wear:
And for her self employs another loom,
New-dress'd to meet her lord returning home,
Flatt'ring her heart with joys, that never were to
come:
She fum'd the temples with an od'rous flame,
And oft before the sacred altars came,
To pray for him, who was an empty name.
All Pow'rs implor'd, but far above the rest
To Juno she her pious vows address'd,
Her much-lov'd lord from perils to protect,
And safe o'er seas his voyage to direct:
Then pray'd, that she might still possess his
heart,
And no pretending rival share a part;
This last petition heard of all her pray'r,
The rest, dispers'd by winds, were lost in air.
But she, the Goddess of the nuptial bed,
Tir'd with her vain devotions for the dead,
Resolv'd the tainted hand should be repell'd,
Which incense offer'd, and her altar held:
Then Iris thus bespoke: Thou faithful maid,
By whom thy queen's commands are well convey'd,
Haste to the house of sleep, and bid the God
Who rules the night by visions with a nod,
Prepare a dream, in figure, and in form
Resembling him, who perish'd in the storm;
This form before Alcyone present,
To make her certain of the sad event.
Indu'd with robes of various hue she flies,
And flying draws an arch (a segment of the skies):
Then leaves her bending bow, and from the steep
Descends, to search the silent house of sleep.
The House of Near the Cymmerians, in his dark abode,
Sleep Deep in a cavern, dwells the drowzy God;
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising sun,
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon;
But lazy vapours round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight, and a doubtful sky:
No crowing cock does there his wings display,
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day;
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb with nightly noise the sacred peace;
Nor beast of Nature, nor the tame are nigh,
Nor trees with tempests rock'd, nor human cry;
But safe repose without an air of breath
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death.
An arm of Lethe, with a gentle flow
Arising upwards from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o'er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps.
Around its entry nodding poppies grow,
And all cool simples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And passing, sheds it on the silent plains:
No door there was th' unguarded house to keep,
On creaking hinges turn'd, to break his sleep.
But in the gloomy court was rais'd a bed,
Stuff'd with black plumes, and on an ebon-sted:
Black was the cov'ring too, where lay the God,
And slept supine, his limbs display'd abroad:
About his head fantastick visions fly,
Which various images of things supply,
And mock their forms; the leaves on trees not more,
Nor bearded ears in fields, nor sands upon the
shore.
The virgin ent'ring bright, indulg'd the day
To the brown cave, and brush'd the dreams away:
The God disturb'd with this new glare of light,
Cast sudden on his face, unseal'd his sight,
And rais'd his tardy head, which sunk again,
And sinking, on his bosom knock'd his chin;
At length shook off himself, and ask'd the dame,
(And asking yawn'd) for what intent she came.
To whom the Goddess thus: O sacred rest,
Sweet pleasing sleep, of all the Pow'rs the best!
O peace of mind, repairer of decay,
Whose balms renew the limbs to labours of the day,
Care shuns thy soft approach, and sullen flies
away!
Adorn a dream, expressing human form,
The shape of him who suffer'd in the storm,
And send it flitting to the Trachin court,
The wreck of wretched Ceyx to report:
Before his queen bid the pale spectre stand,
Who begs a vain relief at Juno's hand.
She said, and scarce awake her eyes could keep,
Unable to support the fumes of sleep;
But fled, returning by the way she went,
And swerv'd along her bow with swift ascent.
The God, uneasy 'till he slept again,
Resolv'd at once to rid himself of pain;
And, tho' against his custom, call'd aloud,
Exciting Morpheus from the sleepy crowd:
Morpheus, of all his numerous train, express'd
The shape of man, and imitated best;
The walk, the words, the gesture could supply,
The habit mimick, and the mein bely;
Plays well, but all his action is confin'd,
Extending not beyond our human kind.
Another, birds, and beasts, and dragons apes,
And dreadful images, and monster shapes:
This demon, Icelos, in Heav'n's high hall
The Gods have nam'd; but men Phobetor call.
A third is Phantasus, whose actions roul
On meaner thoughts, and things devoid of soul;
Earth, fruits, and flow'rs he represents in dreams,
And solid rocks unmov'd, and running streams.
These three to kings, and chiefs their scenes
display,
The rest before th' ignoble commons play.
Of these the chosen Morpheus is dispatch'd;
Which done, the lazy monarch, over-watch'd,
Down from his propping elbow drops his head,
Dissolv'd in sleep, and shrinks within his bed.
Darkling the demon glides, for flight prepar'd,
So soft, that scarce his fanning wings are heard.
To Trachin, swift as thought, the flitting shade,
Thro' air his momentary journey made:
Then lays aside the steerage of his wings,
Forsakes his proper form, assumes the king's;
And pale, as death, despoil'd of his array,
Into the queen's apartment takes his way,
And stands before the bed at dawn of day:
Unmov'd his eyes, and wet his beard appears;
And shedding vain, but seeming real tears;
The briny waters dropping from his hairs.
Then staring on her with a ghastly look,
And hollow voice, he thus the queen bespoke.
Know'st thou not me? Not yet, unhappy wife?
Or are my features perish'd with my life?
Look once again, and for thy husband lost,
Lo all that's left of him, thy husband's ghost!
Thy vows for my return were all in vain,
The stormy south o'ertook us in the main,
And never shalt thou see thy living lord again.
Bear witness, Heav'n, I call'd on thee in death,
And while I call'd, a billow stop'd my breath.
Think not, that flying fame reports my fate;
I present, I appear, and my own wreck relate.
Rise, wretched widow, rise; nor undeplor'd
Permit my soul to pass the Stygian ford;
But rise, prepar'd in black, to mourn thy perish'd
lord.
Thus said the player-God; and adding art
Of voice and gesture, so perform'd his part,
She thought (so like her love the shade appears)
That Ceyx spake the words, and Ceyx shed the tears;
She groan'd, her inward soul with grief opprest,
She sigh'd, she wept, and sleeping beat her breast;
Then stretch'd her arms t' embrace his body bare;
Her clasping arms inclose but empty air:
At this, not yet awake, she cry'd, O stay;
One is our fate, and common is our way!

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John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 04

O, for that warning voice, which he, who saw
The Apocalypse, heard cry in Heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
Woe to the inhabitants on earth! that now,
While time was, our first parents had been warned
The coming of their secret foe, and 'scaped,
Haply so 'scaped his mortal snare: For now
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
The tempter ere the accuser of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell:
Yet, not rejoicing in his speed, though bold
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt; which nigh the birth
Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself; horrour and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The Hell within him; for within him Hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: Now conscience wakes despair,
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;
Sometimes towards Heaven, and the full-blazing sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tower:
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began.
O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned,
Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
Of Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down
Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King:
Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high
I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome still paying, still to owe,
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then
O, had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferiour Angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition! Yet why not some other Power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
O, then, at last relent: Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of Hell.
With diadem and scepter high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery: Such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
Would highth recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore? Ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow,
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep:
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging, peace;
All hope excluded thus, behold, in stead
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;
Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least
Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As Man ere long, and this new world, shall know.
Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face
Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair;
Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld.
For heavenly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware,
Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud; and was the first
That practised falsehood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:
Yet not enough had practised to deceive
Uriel once warned; whose eye pursued him down
The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount
Saw him disfigured, more than could befall
Spirit of happy sort; his gestures fierce
He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the champaign head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
Access denied; and overhead upgrew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend,
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise upsprung;

Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighbouring round.
And higher than that wall a circling row
Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed:
On which the sun more glad impressed his beams
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed
That landskip: And of pure now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair: Now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who fail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambick, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest; with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles:
So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend,
Who came their bane; though with them better pleased
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume
That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse
Of Tobit's son, and with a vengeance sent
From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.
Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill
Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;
But further way found none, so thick entwined,
As one continued brake, the undergrowth
Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed
All path of man or beast that passed that way.
One gate there only was, and that looked east
On the other side: which when the arch-felon saw,
Due entrance he disdained; and, in contempt,
At one flight bound high over-leaped all bound
Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within
Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve
In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,
Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the fold:
Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,
In at the window climbs, or o'er the tiles:
So clomb this first grand thief into God's fold;
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew, and on the tree of life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew,
Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life
Thereby regained, but sat devising death
To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only used
For prospect, what well used had been the pledge
Of immortality. So little knows
Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.
Beneath him with new wonder now he views,
To all delight of human sense exposed,
In narrow room, Nature's whole wealth, yea more,
A Heaven on Earth: For blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in the east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretched her line
From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Of where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar: In this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordained;
Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the tree of life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and next to life,
Our death, the tree of knowledge, grew fast by,
Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill
Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown
That mountain as his garden-mould high raised
Upon the rapid current, which, through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up-drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Watered the garden; thence united fell
Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,
Which from his darksome passage now appears,
And now, divided into four main streams,
Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account;
But rather to tell how, if Art could tell,
How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy errour under pendant shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierced shade
Imbrowned the noontide bowers: Thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true,
If true, here only, and of delicious taste:
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,
Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose:
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant; mean while murmuring waters fall
Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned
Her crystal mirrour holds, unite their streams.
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Led on the eternal Spring. Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower by gloomy Dis
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove
Of Daphne by Orontes, and the inspired
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle
Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,
Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,
Hid Amalthea, and her florid son
Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea's eye;
Nor where Abassin kings their issue guard,
Mount Amara, though this by some supposed
True Paradise under the Ethiop line
By Nilus' head, enclosed with shining rock,
A whole day's journey high, but wide remote
From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend
Saw, undelighted, all delight, all kind
Of living creatures, new to sight, and strange
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,
Godlike erect, with native honour clad
In naked majesty seemed lords of all:
And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,)
Whence true authority in men; though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;
For contemplation he and valour formed;
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him:
His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:
She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed;
Then was not guilty shame, dishonest shame
Of nature's works, honour dishonourable,
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind
With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,
And banished from man's life his happiest life,
Simplicity and spotless innocence!
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight
Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair,
That ever since in love's embraces met;
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain side
They sat them down; and, after no more toil
Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed
To recommend cool Zephyr, and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell,
Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline
On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers:
The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems
Fair couple, linked in happy nuptial league,
Alone as they. About them frisking played
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase
In wood or wilderness, forest or den;
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed
His?kithetmroboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass
Couched, and now filled with pasture gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,
Declined, was hasting now with prone career
To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale
Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose:
When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood,
Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad.
O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold!
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced
Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps,
Not Spirits, yet to heavenly Spirits bright
Little inferiour; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.
Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh
Your change approaches, when all these delights
Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe;
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy;
Happy, but for so happy ill secured
Long to continue, and this high seat your Heaven
Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe
As now is entered; yet no purposed foe
To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,
Though I unpitied: League with you I seek,
And mutual amity, so strait, so close,
That I with you must dwell, or you with me
Henceforth; my dwelling haply may not please,
Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such
Accept your Maker's work; he gave it me,
Which I as freely give: Hell shall unfold,
To entertain you two, her widest gates,
And send forth all her kings; there will be room,
Not like these narrow limits, to receive
Your numerous offspring; if no better place,
Thank him who puts me loth to this revenge
On you who wrong me not for him who wronged.
And should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, as I do, yet publick reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarged,
By conquering this new world, compels me now
To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.
So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,
The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds.
Then from his lofty stand on that high tree
Down he alights among the sportful herd
Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,
Now other, as their shape served best his end
Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,
To mark what of their state he more might learn,
By word or action marked. About them round
A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;
Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied
In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play,
Straight couches close, then, rising, changes oft
His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,
Whence rushing, he might surest seize them both,
Griped in each paw: when, Adam first of men
To first of women Eve thus moving speech,
Turned him, all ear to hear new utterance flow.
Sole partner, and sole part, of all these joys,
Dearer thyself than all; needs must the Power
That made us, and for us this ample world,
Be infinitely good, and of his good
As liberal and free as infinite;
That raised us from the dust, and placed us here
In all this happiness, who at his hand
Have nothing merited, nor can perform
Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires
From us no other service than to keep
This one, this easy charge, of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only tree
Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life;
So near grows death to life, whate'er death is,
Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou knowest
God hath pronounced it death to taste that tree,
The only sign of our obedience left,
Among so many signs of power and rule
Conferred upon us, and dominion given
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights:
But let us ever praise him, and extol
His bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers,
Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.
To whom thus Eve replied. O thou for whom
And from whom I was formed, flesh of thy flesh,
And without whom am to no end, my guide
And head! what thou hast said is just and right.
For we to him indeed all praises owe,
And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee
Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou
Like consort to thyself canst no where find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awaked, and found myself reposed
Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
Bending to look on me: I started back,
It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love: There I had fixed
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warned me; 'What thou seest,
'What there thou seest, fair Creature, is thyself;
'With thee it came and goes: but follow me,
'And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
'Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he
'Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy
'Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear
'Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called
'Mother of human race.' What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a platane; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth watery image: Back I turned;
Thou following cryedst aloud, 'Return, fair Eve;
'Whom flyest thou? whom thou flyest, of him thou art,
'His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent
'Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
'Substantial life, to have thee by my side
'Henceforth an individual solace dear;
'Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
'My other half:' With that thy gentle hand
Seised mine: I yielded;and from that time see
How beauty is excelled by manly grace,
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.
So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreproved,
And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight
Both of her beauty, and submissive charms,
Smiled with superiour love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds
That shed Mayflowers; and pressed her matron lip
With kisses pure: Aside the Devil turned
For envy; yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained.
Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two,
Imparadised in one another's arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfilled with pain of longing pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gained
From their own mouths: All is not theirs, it seems;
One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge called,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidden
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt
Equal with Gods: aspiring to be such,
They taste and die: What likelier can ensue
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied;
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet
Some wandering Spirit of Heaven by fountain side,
Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw
What further would be learned. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed!
So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,
But with sly circumspection, and began
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his roam
Mean while in utmost longitude, where Heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Levelled his evening rays: It was a rock
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of the angelick guards, awaiting night;
About him exercised heroick games
The unarmed youth of Heaven, but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds: He thus began in haste.
Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at highth of noon came to my sphere
A Spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly Man,
God's latest image: I described his way
Bent all on speed, and marked his aery gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured:
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him: One of the banished crew,
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find.
To whom the winged warriour thus returned.
Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,
Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sitst,
See far and wide: In at this gate none pass
The vigilance here placed, but such as come
Well known from Heaven; and since meridian hour
No creature thence: If Spirit of other sort,
So minded, have o'er-leaped these earthly bounds
On purpose, hard thou knowest it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.
But if within the circuit of these walks,
In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom
Thou tellest, by morrow dawning I shall know.
So promised he; and Uriel to his charge
Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised
Bore him slope downward to the sun now fallen
Beneath the Azores; whether the prime orb,
Incredible how swift, had thither rolled
Diurnal, or this less volubil earth,
By shorter flight to the east, had left him there
Arraying with reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.
Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleased: Now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires: Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve. Fair Consort, the hour
Of night, and all things now retired to rest,
Mind us of like repose; since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Successive; and the timely dew of sleep,
Now falling with soft slumbrous weight, inclines
Our eye-lids: Other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest;
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings God takes no account.
To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth:
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease;
Mean while, as Nature wills, night bids us rest.
To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned
My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst
Unargued I obey: So God ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine: To know no more
Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time;
All seasons, and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds: pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night,
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:
But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;
Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?
To whom our general ancestor replied.
Daughter of God and Man, accomplished Eve,
These have their course to finish round the earth,
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Ministring light prepared, they set and rise;
Lest total Darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In Nature and all things; which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise:
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night: How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to others note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonick number joined, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.
Thus talking, hand in hand alone they passed
On to their blissful bower: it was a place
Chosen by the sovran Planter, when he framed
All things to Man's delightful use; the roof
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side
Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamin,
Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought
Mosaick; underfoot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone
Of costliest emblem: Other creature here,
Bird, beast, insect, or worm, durst enter none,
Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower
More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph
Nor Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,
With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs,
Espoused Eve decked first her nuptial bed;
And heavenly quires the hymenaean sung,
What day the genial Angel to our sire
Brought her in naked beauty more adorned,
More lovely, than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endowed with all their gifts, and O! too like
In sad event, when to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared
Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged
On him who had stole Jove's authentick fire.
Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,
Both turned, and under open sky adored
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven,
Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe,
And starry pole: Thou also madest the night,
Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day,
Which we, in our appointed work employed,
Have finished, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
Ordained by thee; and this delicious place
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.
But thou hast promised from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.
This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and, eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids encrease; who bids abstain
But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man?
Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else!
By thee adulterous Lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestick sweets,
Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.
Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition; nor in court-amours,
Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenate, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These, lulled by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,
Blest pair; and O!yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more.
Now had night measured with her shadowy cone
Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the Cherubim,
Forth issuing at the accustomed hour, stood armed
To their night watches in warlike parade;
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake.
Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south
With strictest watch; these other wheel the north;
Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part,
Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.
From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.
Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed
Search through this garden, leave unsearched no nook;
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,
Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.
This evening from the sun's decline arrived,
Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escaped
The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt:
Such, where ye find, seise fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct
In search of whom they sought: Him there they found
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
Assaying by his devilish art to reach
The organs of her fancy, and with them forge
Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise
At least distempered, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falshood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: Up he starts
Discovered and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun some magazine to store
Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;
So started up in his own shape the Fiend.
Back stept those two fair Angels, half amazed
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon.
Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell
Comest thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,
Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?
Know ye not then said Satan, filled with scorn,
Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate
For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar:
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,
The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin
Your message, like to end as much in vain?
To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn.
Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,
Or undiminished brightness to be known,
As when thou stoodest in Heaven upright and pure;
That glory then, when thou no more wast good,
Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now
Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.
But come, for thou, be sure, shalt give account
To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep
This place inviolable, and these from harm.
So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible: Abashed the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined
His loss; but chiefly to find here observed
His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed
Undaunted. If I must contend, said he,
Best with the best, the sender, not the sent,
Or all at once; more glory will be won,
Or less be lost. Thy fear, said Zephon bold,
Will save us trial what the least can do
Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.
The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;
But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb: To strive or fly
He held it vain; awe from above had quelled
His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh
The western point, where those half-rounding guards
Just met, and closing stood in squadron joined,
A waiting next command. To whom their Chief,
Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud.
O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet
Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;
And with them comes a third of regal port,
But faded splendour wan; who by his gait
And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest;
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.
He scarce had ended, when those two approached,
And brief related whom they brought, where found,
How busied, in what form and posture couched.
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake.
Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed
To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have power and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place;
Employed, it seems, to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss!
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow.
Gabriel? thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise,
And such I held thee; but this question asked
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain!
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doomed! Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt
And boldly venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who knowest only good,
But evil hast not tried: and wilt object
His will who bounds us! Let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance: Thus much what was asked.
The rest is true, they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm.
Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied.
O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison 'scaped,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to 'scape his punishment!
So judge thou still, presumptuous! till the wrath,
Which thou incurrest by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provoked.
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose? or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous Chief!
The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleged
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.
To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern.
Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
Insulting Angel! well thou knowest I stood
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience what behoves
From hard assays and ill successes past
A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried:
I, therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate abyss, and spy
This new created world, whereof in Hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted Powers
To settle here on earth, or in mid air;
Though for possession put to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dare against;
Whose easier business were to serve their Lord
High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practised distances to cringe, not fight,
To whom the warriour Angel soon replied.
To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader but a liear traced,
Satan, and couldst thou faithful add? O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of Fiends, fit body to fit head.
Was this your discipline and faith engaged,
Your military obedience, to dissolve
Allegiance to the acknowledged Power supreme?
And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou
Once fawned, and cringed, and servily adored
Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
But mark what I arreed thee now, Avant;
Fly neither whence thou fledst! If from this hour
Within these hallowed limits thou appear,
Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chained,
And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.
So threatened he; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied.
Then when I am thy captive talk of chains,
Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then
Far heavier load thyself expect to feel
From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King
Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers,
Us'd to the yoke, drawest his triumphant wheels
In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved.
While thus he spake, the angelick squadron bright
Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns
Their phalanx, and began to hem him round
With ported spears, as thick as when a field
Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends
Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind
Sways them; the careful plowman doubting stands,
Left on the threshing floor his hopeless sheaves
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:
His stature reached the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horrour plumed; nor wanted in his grasp
What seemed both spear and shield: Now dreadful deeds
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the elements
At least had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn
With violence of this conflict, had not soon
The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weighed,
The pendulous round earth with balanced air
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles and realms: In these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight:
The latter quick up flew, and kicked the beam,
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend.
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou knowest mine;
Neither our own, but given: What folly then
To boast what arms can do? since thine no more
Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now
To trample thee as mire: For proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign;
Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak,
If thou resist. The Fiend looked up, and knew
His mounted scale aloft: Nor more;but fled
Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night.

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The Door Of Humility

ENGLAND
We lead the blind by voice and hand,
And not by light they cannot see;
We are not framed to understand
The How and Why of such as He;

But natured only to rejoice
At every sound or sign of hope,
And, guided by the still small voice,
In patience through the darkness grope;

Until our finer sense expands,
And we exchange for holier sight
The earthly help of voice and hands,
And in His light behold the Light.

I

Let there be Light! The self-same Power
That out of formless dark and void
Endued with life's mysterious dower
Planet, and star, and asteroid;

That moved upon the waters' face,
And, breathing on them His intent,
Divided, and assigned their place
To, ocean, air, and firmament;

That bade the land appear, and bring
Forth herb and leaf, both fruit and flower,
Cattle that graze, and birds that sing,
Ordained the sunshine and the shower;

That, moulding man and woman, breathed
In them an active soul at birth
In His own image, and bequeathed
To them dominion over Earth;

That, by whatever is, decreed
His Will and Word shall be obeyed,
From loftiest star to lowliest seed;-
The worm and me He also made.

And when, for nuptials of the Spring
With Summer, on the vestal thorn
The bridal veil hung flowering,
A cry was heard, and I was born.

II

To be by blood and long descent
A member of a mighty State,
Whose greatness, sea-girt, but unpent
By ocean, makes the world more great;

That, ranging limitless, hath won
A Rule more wide than that of Rome,
And, journeying onward with the sun,
In every zone hath found a home;

That, keeping old traditions fast,
Still hails the things that are to be,
And, firmly rooted in the Past,
On Law hath grafted Liberty;-

That is a birthright nobler far
Than princely claim or Right Divine
From far-off rapine, wanton war,
And I could feel this birthright mine.

And not the lowliest hand that drives
Or share or loom, if so it be
Of British strain, but thence derives
A patent of nobility.

III

The guiding of the infant years
Onward to good, away from guile,
A mother's humanising tears,
A father's philosophic smile;

Refining beauty, gentle ways,
The admonitions of the wise,
The love that watches, helps, and prays,
And pities, but doth ne'er despise;

An ancient Faith, abiding hope,
The charity that suffers long,
But flames with sacred zeal to cope
With man's injustice, nature's wrong;

Melodious leisure, learnëd shelf,
Discourse of earnest, temperate mind,
The playful wit that of itself
Flashes, but leaves no wound behind;

The knowledge gleaned from Greece and Rome,
From studious Teuton, sprightly Gaul,
The lettered page, the mellow tome,
And poets' wisdom more than all;-

These, when no lips severe upbraid,
But counsel rather than control,
In budding boyhood lend their aid
To sensibility of soul.

IV

But, more than mentor, mother, sire,
Can lend to shape the future man
With help of learning or of lyre,
Of ancient rule, or modern plan,

Is that which with our breath we bring
Into the world, we know not whence,
That needs nor care nor fostering,
Because an instinct and a sense.

And days and years are all forgot
When Nature's aspect, growth, and grace,
And veering moods, to me were not
The features of the Loved One's face.

The cloud whose shadow skims the lake,
The shimmering haze of summer noon,
The voice of April in the brake,
The silence of the mounting moon,

Swaying of bracken on the hill,
The murmur of the vagrant stream,
These motions of some unseen Will,
These babblings of some heavenly dream,

Seemed tokens of divine desire
To hold discourse with me, and so
To touch my lips with hallowed fire,
And tell me things I ought to know.

I gazed and listened, all intent,
As to the face and voice of Fate,
But what they said, or what they meant,
I could surmise not, nor translate.

They did but lure me to unrest,
Unanswered questioning, longings vain,
As when one scans some palimpsest
No erudition can explain;

But left me with a deep distaste
For common speech, that still did seem
More meaningless than mountain waste,
Less human than the far-off stream.

So that a stranger in the land
Wherein I moved, where'er I went,
I dwelt, whom none could understand,
Or exorcise my discontent.

And I to them, and they to me
Seemed from two different planets come,
And, save to flower and wild-bird's glee,
My heart was deaf, my soul was dumb.

V

But slowly dawned a happier time
When I began to apprehend,
And catch, as in some poet's rhyme,
The intimations of a friend;

When Nature spake no unknown tongue,
But language kindred to my thought,
Till everything She said, I sung,
In notes unforced, in words unsought.

And I to Her so closely drew,
The seasons round, in mind and mood,
I felt at length as if we knew
Self-same affection, self-same feud:

That both alike scorned worldly aim,
Profit, applause, parade, and pride,
Whereby the love of generous fame
And worthy deeds grows petrified.

I did as yet not understand
Nature is far more vast than I,
Deep as the ocean, wide as land,
And overarching as the sky;

And but responded to my call,
And only felt and fed my need,
Because She doth the same for all
Who to her pity turn and plead.

VI

Shall man have mind, and Nature none,
Shall I, not she, have soul and heart?
Nay, rather, if we be not one,
Each is of each the counterpart.

She too may have within her breast
A conscience, if not like to yours,
A sense of rightness ill at rest,
Long as her waywardness endures.

And hence her thunder, earthquakes, hail,
Her levin bolts, her clouds' discharge:
She sins upon a larger scale,
Because She is herself more large.

Hence, too, when She hath pierced with pain
The heart of man, and wrecked his years,
The pity of the April rain,
And late repentance of her tears.

She is no better, worse, than we;
We can but say she seems more great,
That half her will, like ours, is free,
And half of it is locked in Fate.

Nor need we fear that we should err
Beyond our scope in reasoning thus,-
That there must be a God for Her,
If that there be a God for us.

VII

The chiming of the Sabbath bell,
The silence of the Sabbath fields,
Over the hamlet cast a spell
To which the gracious spirit yields.

Sound is there none of wheel or wain,
Husht stands the anvil, husht the forge,
No shout is heard in rustic lane,
No axe resounds in timbered gorge.

No flail beats time on granary floor,
The windmill's rushing wings are stayed,
And children's glee rings out no more
From hedgerow bank or primrose glade.

The big-boned team that firm and slow
Draw yoked, are free to couch or stray;
The basking covey seem to know
None will invade their peace to-day.

And speckless swains, and maidens neat,
Through rustic porch, down cottage stair,
Demurely up the village street
Stream onward to the House of Prayer.

They kneel as they were taught to kneel
In childhood, and demand not why,
But, as they chant or answer, feel
A vague communion with the sky.

VIII

But when the impetuous mind is spurred
To range through epochs great but gone,
And, heedless of dogmatic word,
With fearless ardour presses on,

Confronting pulpit, sceptre, shrine,
With point by Logic beaten out,
And, questioning tenets deemed divine
With human challenge, human doubt,

Hoists Reason's sail, and for the haze
Of ocean quits Tradition's shore,
Awhile he comes, and kneels, and prays,
Then comes and kneels, but prays no more;

And only for the love he bears
To those who love him, and who reared
His frame to genuflexion, shares
In ritual, vain, if still revered.

His Gods are many or are none,
Saturn and Mithra, Christ and Jove,
Consorting, as the Ages run,
With Vestal choir or Pagan drove.

Abiding still by Northern shores,
He sees far off on Grecian coast
Veiled Aphrodite, but adores
Minerva and Apollo most.

Beauty of vision, voice, and mind,
Enthrall him so, that unto him
All Creeds seem true, if he but find
Siren, or saint, or seraphim.

And thus once more he dwells apart,
His inward self enswathed in mist,
Blending with poet's pious heart
The dreams of pagan Hedonist.

IX

If Beauty be the Spirit's quest,
Its adoration, creed, and shrine,
Wherein its restlessness finds rest,
And earthly type of the Divine,

Must there for such not somewhere be
A blending of all beauteous things
In some one form wherein we see
The sum of our imaginings?

The smile on mountain's musing brow,
Sunrise and sunset, moon and star,
Wavelets around the cygnet's prow,
Glamour anear and charm afar;

The silence of the silvery pool,
Autumn's reserve and Summer's fire,
Slow vanishings of Winter's rule
To free full voice of April's choir;-

The worshippers of Beauty find
In maiden form, and face, and tress;
Faint intimations of her mind
And undulating loveliness.

X

Bound, runnels, bound, bound on, and flow!
Sing, merle and mavis, pair and sing!
Gone is the Winter, fled the snow,
And all that lives is flushed with Spring.

Harry the woods, young truant folk,
For flowers to deck your cottage sills,
And, underneath my orchard oak,
Cluster, ye golden daffodils!

Unfettered by domestic vow,
Cuckoo, proclaim your vagrant loves,
And coo upon the self-same bough,
Inseparable turtle-doves.

Soar, laverock, soar on song to sky,
And with the choir of Heaven rejoice!
You cannot be more glad than I,
Who feel Her gaze, and hear Her voice:

Who see Her cheek more crimson glow,
And through Her veins love's current stream,
And feel a fear She doth but know
Is kin to joy and dawning dream.

Bound, rivulets, bound, bound on, and flow!
Sing, merle and mavis, pair and sing!
Gone from the world are want and woe,
And I myself am one with Spring.

XI

They err who say that Love is blind,
Or, if it be, 'tis but in part,
And that, if for fair face it find
No counterpart in mind and heart,

It dwells on that which it beholds,
Fair fleshly vision void of soul,
Deeming, illusioned, this enfolds,
Longing's fulfilment, end, and whole.

Were such my hapless carnal lot,
I too might evanescent bliss
Embrace, fierce-fancied, fast forgot,
Then leave for some fresh loveliness.

But April gaze, and Summer tress,
With something of Autumnal thought,
In Her seem blent to crown and bless
A bond I long in dreams have sought.

She looks as though She came to grace
The earth, from world less soiled than this,
Around her head and virgin face
Halo of heavenly holiness.

XII

He who hath roamed through various lands,
And, wheresoe'er his steps are set,
The kindred meaning understands
Of spire, and dome, and minaret;

By Roman river, Stamboul's sea,
In Peter's or Sophia's shrine,
Acknowledges with reverent knee
The presence of the One Divine;

Who, to the land he loves so well
Returning, towards the sunset hour
Wends homeward, feels yet stronger spell
In lichened roof and grey church-tower;

Round whose foundations, side by side,
Sleep hamlet wit and village sage,
While loud the blackbird cheers his bride
Deep in umbrageous Vicarage.

XIII

Was it that sense which some aver
Foreshadows Fate it doth not see,
That gave unwittingly to Her
The name, for ever dear to me,

Borne by that tearful Mother whom,
Nigh unto Ostia's shelving sand,
Augustine laid in lonely tomb,
Ere sailing for his Afric land?

But I at least should have foreseen,
When Monica to me had grown
Familiar word, that names may mean
More than by word and name is shown;

That nought can keep two lives apart
More than divorce 'twixt mind and mind,
Even though heart be one with heart;-
Alas! Alas! Yes, Love is blind.

XIV

How could I think of jarring Creeds,
And riddles that unread remain,
Or ask if Heaven's indulgence heeds
Broils born of man's polemic brain,

And pause because my venturous mind
Had roamed through tracks of polar thought,
Whence mightiest spirits turn back blind,
Since finding not the thing they sought,

When Love, with luring gifts in hand,
Beauty, refinement, smile, caress,
Heart to surmise and understand,
And crowning grace of holiness,

Stood there before me, and, with gaze
I had been purblind not to see,
Said, ``I to you will, all my days,
Give what you yearn to give to me''?

Must both then sorrow, while we live,
Because, rejoicing, I forgot
Something there was I could not give,
Because, alas! I had it not.

XV

She comes from Vicarage Garden, see!
Radiant as morning, lithe and tall,
Fresh lilies in her hand, but She
The loveliest lily of them all.

The thrushes in their fluting pause,
The bees float humming round her head,
Earth, air, and heaven shine out because
They hear her voice, and feel her tread.

Up in the fretted grey church-tower,
That rustic gaze for miles can see,
The belfry strikes the silvery hour,
Announcing her propinquity.

And I who, fearful to be late,
Passed long since through the deerpark pale,
And loitered by the churchyard gate,
Once more exclaim, ``Hail! loved one! hail!''

We pass within, and up the nave,
Husht, because Heaven seems always there,
Wend choirward, where, devoutly grave,
She kneels, to breathe a silent prayer.

She takes the flowers I too have brought,
Blending them deftly with her own,
And ranges them, as quick as thought,
Around the white-draped altar-throne.

How could she know my gaze was not
On things unseen, but fixed on Her,
That, as She prayed, I all forgot
The worship in the worshipper?-

While She beheld, as in a glass,
The Light Divine, that I but sought
Sight of her soul?-Alas! Alas!
Love is yet blinder than I thought.

XVI

Who hath not seen a little cloud
Up from the clear horizon steal,
And, mounting lurid, mutter loud
Premonitory thunder-peal?

Husht grows the grove, the summer leaf
Trembles and writhes, as if in pain,
And then the sky, o'ercharged with grief,
Bursts into drenching tears of rain.

I through the years had sought to hide
My darkening doubts from simple sight.
'Tis sacrilegious to deride
Faith of unquestioning neophyte.

And what, methought, is Doubt at best?
A sterile wind through seeded sedge
Blowing for nought, an empty nest
That lingers in a leafless hedge.

Pain, too, there is we should not share
With others lest it mar their joy;
There is a quiet bliss in prayer
None but the heartless would destroy.

But just as Love is quick divined
From heightened glow or visage pale,
The meditations of the Mind
Disclose themselves through densest veil.

And 'tis the unloving and least wise
Who through life's inmost precincts press,
And with unsympathetic eyes
Outrage our sacred loneliness.

Then, when their sacrilegious gaze
The mournful void hath half surmised,
To some more tender soul they raise
The veil of ignorance it prized.

XVII

`What though I write farewell I could
Not utter, lest your gaze should chide,
'Twill by your love be understood
My love is still, dear, at your side.

``Nor must we meet to speak goodbye,
Lest that my Will should lose its choice,
And conscience waver, for then I
Should see your face and hear your voice.

``But, when you find yourself once more,
Come back, come back and look for me,
Beside the little lowly door,
The Doorway of Humility.''

XVIII

There! Peace at last! The far-off roar
Of human passion dies away.
``Welcome to our broad shade once more,''
The waning woodlands seem to say:

The music of the vagrant wind,
That wandered aimlessly, is stilled;
The songless branches all remind
That Summer's glory is fulfilled.

The fluttering of the falling leaves
Dimples the leaden pool awhile;
So Age impassively receives
Youth's tale of troubles with a smile.

Thus, as the seasons steal away,
How much is schemed, how little done,
What splendid plans at break of day!
What void regrets at set of sun!

The world goes round, for you, for me,
For him who sleeps, for him who strives,
And the cold Fates indifferent see
Crowning or failure of our lives.

Then fall, ye leaves, fade, summer breeze!
Grow, sedges, sere on every pool!
Let each old glowing impulse freeze,
Let each old generous project cool!

It is not wisdom, wit, nor worth,
Self-sacrifice nor friendship true,
Makes venal devotees of earth
Prostrate themselves and worship you.

The consciousness of sovran powers,
The stubborn purpose, steadfast will,
Have ever, in this world of ours,
Achieved success, achieve it still.

Farewell, ye woods! No more I sit;
Great voices in the distance call.
If this be peace, enough of it!
I go. Fall, unseen foliage, fall!

XIX

Nay, but repress rebellious woe!
In grief 'tis not that febrile fool,
Passion, that can but overthrow,
But Resignation, that should rule.

In patient sadness lurks a gift
To purify the life it stings,
And, as the days move onward, lift
The lonely heart to loftier things;

Bringing within one's ripening reach
The sceptre of majestic Thought,
Wherefrom one slowly learns to teach
The Wisdom to oneself it taught.

And unto what can man aspire,
On earth, more worth the striving for,
Than to be Reason's loftier lyre,
And reconciling monitor;

To strike a more resounding string
And deeper notes of joy and pain,
Than such as but lamenting sing,
Or warble but a sensuous strain:

So, when my days are nearly sped,
And my last harvest labours done,
That I may have around my head
The halo of a setting sun.

Yet even if be heard above
Such selfish hope, presumptuous claim,
Better one hour of perfect love
Than an eternity of Fame!

XX

Where then for grief seek out the cure?
What scenes will bid my smart to cease?
High peaks should teach one to endure,
And lakes secluded bring one peace.

Farewell awhile, then, village bells,
Autumnal wood and harvest wain!
And welcome, as it sinks or swells,
The music of the mighty main,

That seems to say, now loud, now low,
Rising or falling, sweet or shrill,
``I pace, a sentry, to and fro,
To guard your Island fortress still.''

The roses falter on their stalk,
The late peach reddens on the wall,
The flowers along the garden walk
Unheeded fade, unheeded fall.

My gates unopened drip with rain,
The wolf-hound wends from floor to floor,
And, listening for my voice in vain,
Waileth along the corridor.

Within the old accustomed place
Where we so oft were wont to be,
Kneeling She prays, while down her face
The fruitless tears fall silently.


SWITZERLAND

XXI
Rain, wind, and rain. The writhing lake
Scuds to and fro to scape their stroke:
The mountains veil their heads, and make
Of cloud and mist a wintry cloak.

Through where the arching pinewoods make
Dusk cloisters down the mountain side,
The loosened avalanches take
Valeward their way, with death for guide,

And toss their shaggy manes and fling
To air their foam and tawny froth,
From ledge and precipice bound and spring,
With hungry roar and deepening wrath;

Till, hamlet homes and orchards crushed,
And, rage for further ravin stayed,
They slumber, satiated, husht,
Upon the ruins they have made.

I rise from larch-log hearth, and, lone,
Gaze on the spears of serried rain,
That faster, nigher, still are blown,
Then stream adown the window pane.

The peasant's goatskin garments drip,
As home he wends with lowered head,
Shakes off the drops from lid and lip,
Then slinks within his châlet shed.

The cattle bells sound dull and hoarse,
The boats rock idly by the shore;
Only the swollen torrents course
With faster feet and fuller roar.

Mournful, I shape a mournful song,
And ask the heavens, but ask in vain,
``How long, how long?'' Ah! not so long
As, in my heart, rain, wind, and rain.

XXII

I ask the dark, the dawn, the sun,
The domeward-pointing peaks of snow,
Lofty and low alike, but none
Will tell me what I crave to know.

My mind demands, ``Whence, Whither, Why?''
From mountain slope and green defile,
And wait the answer. The reply-
A far-off irresponsive smile.

I ask the stars, when mortals sleep,
The pensive moon, the lonely winds;
But, haply if they know, they keep
The secret of secluded minds.

Shall I in vain, then, strive to find,
Straining towards merely fancied goal?
Where in the lily lurks the mind,
Where in the rose discern the soul?

More mindless still, stream, pasture, lake,
The mountains yet more heartless seem,
And life's unceasing quest and ache
Only a dream within a dream.

We know no more, though racked with thought
Than he who, in yon châlet born,
Gives not the riddle, Life, a thought,
But lays him down and sleeps till morn.

Sometimes he kneels; I cannot kneel,
So suffer from a wider curse
Than Eden's outcasts, for I feel
An exile in the universe.

The rudeness of his birth enures
His limbs to every season's stings,
And, never probing, so endures
The sadness at the heart of things.

When lauwine growls, and thunder swells,
Their far-off clamour sounds to me
But as the noise of clanging bells
Above a silent sanctuary.

It is their silence that appals,
Their aspect motionless that awes,
When searching spirit vainly calls
On the effect to bare the Cause.

I get no answer, near or far;
The mountains, though they soar so high,
And scale the pathless ether, are
No nearer unto God than I.

There dwells nor mystery nor veil
Round the clear peaks no foot hath trod;
I, gazing on their frontage pale,
See but the waning ghost of God.

Is Faith then but a drug for sleep,
And Hope a fondly soothing friend
That bids us, when it sees us weep,
Wait for the End that hath no end?

Then do I hear voice unforgot
Wailing across the distance dim,
``Think, dear! If God existeth not,
Why are you always seeking Him?''

XXIII

Like glowing furnace of the forge,
How the winds rise and roar, as they
Up twisting valley, craggy gorge,
Seek, and still seek, to storm their way;

Then, baffled, up the open slope
With quickening pulses scale and pant,
Indomitably bent to cope
With bristling fronts of adamant.

All through the day resounds the strife,
Then doth at sunset hour subside:
So the fierce passions of our life
Slowly expire at eventide.

By Nature we are ne'er misled;
We see most truly when we dream.
A singer wise was he who said,
``Follow the gleam! Follow the gleam!''

XXIV

I dreamed, last night, again I stood,
Silent, without the village shrine,
While She in modest maidenhood
Left, fondly clasped, her hand in mine.

And, with a face as cerecloth white,
And tears like those that by the bier
Of loved one lost make dim the sight,
She poured her sorrows in mine ear.

``I love your voice, I love your gaze,
But there is something dearer still,
The faith that kneels, the hope that prays,
And bows before the Heavenly Will.

``Not where hills rise, or torrents roll,
Seek Him, nor yet alone, apart;
He dwells within the troubled soul,
His home is in the human heart.

``Withal, the peaceful mountains may
'Twixt doubt and yearning end the strife:
So ponder, though you cannot pray,
And think some meaning into life:

``Nor like to those that cross the main
To wander witless through strange land,
Hearing unmastered tongues, disdain
The speech they do not understand.

``Firm stands my faith that they who sound
The depths of doubt Faith yet will save:
They are like children playing round
A still remembered mother's grave;

``Not knowing, when they wax more old,
And somewhat can her vision share,
She will the winding-sheet unfold,
And beckon them to evening prayer.''

Then, with my hand betwixt her hands,
She laid her lips upon my brow,
And, as to one who understands,
Said, ``Take once more my vestal vow.

``No other gaze makes mine to glow,
No other footstep stirs my heart,
To me you only dearer grow,
Dearer and nearer, more apart.

``Whene'er you come with humble mind,
The little Door stands open wide,
And, bending low, you still will find
Me waiting on the other side.''

Her silence woke me. . . . To your breast
Fold me, O sleep! and seal mine ears;
That She may roam through my unrest
Till all my dreams are drenched with tears!

XXV

Why linger longer, subject, here,
Where Nature sits and reigns alone,
Inspiring love not, only fear,
Upon her autocratic throne?

Her edicts are the rigid snow,
The wayward winds, the swaying branch;
She hath no pity to bestow,
Her law the lawless avalanche.

Though soon cascades will bound and sing,
That now but drip with tears of ice,
And upland meadows touched by Spring
Blue gentian blend with edelweiss,

Hence to the Land of youthful dreams,
The Land that taught me all I know.
Farewell, lone mountain-peaks and streams;
Yet take my thanks before I go.

You gave me shelter when I fled,
But sternly bade me stem my tears,
Nor aimless roam with rustling tread
'Mong fallen leaves of fruitless years.

ITALY

XXVI

Upon the topmost wheel-track steep,
The parting of two nations' ways,
Athwart stone cross engraven deep,
The name ``Italia'' greets the gaze!

I trembled, when I saw it first,
With joy, my boyish longings fed,
The headspring of my constant thirst,
The altar of my pilgrim tread.

Now once again the magic word,
So faintly borne to Northern home,
Sounds like a silvery trumpet heard
Beneath some universal dome.

The forests soften to a smile,
A smile the very mountains wear,
Through mossy gorge and grassed defile
Torrents race glad and debonair.

From casement, balcony and door,
Hang golden gourds, droops tear-tipped vine,
And sun-bronzed faces bask before
Thin straw-swathed flasks of last year's wine.

Unyoked, the patient sleek-skinned steers
Take, like their lords, no heed of time.
Hark! now the evening star appears,
Ave Maria belfries chime.

The maidens knit, and glance, and sing,
With glowing gaze 'neath ebon tress,
And, like to copse-buds sunned by Spring,
Seem burgeoning into tenderness.

On waveless lake where willows weep,
The Borromean Islands rest
As motionless as babe asleep
Upon a slumbering Mother's breast.

O Land of sunshine, song, and Love!
Whether thy children reap or sow,
Of Love they chant on hills above,
Of Love they sing in vale below.

But what avail the love-linked hands,
And love-lit eyes, to them that roam
Passionless through impassioned lands,
Since they have left their heart at home!

XXVII

Among my dreams, now known as dreams
In this my reawakened life,
I thought that by historic streams,
Apart from stress, aloof from strife,

By rugged paths that twist and twine
Through olive slope and chesnut wood
Upward to mediaeval shrine,
Or high conventual brotherhood,

Along the mountain-curtained track
Round peaceful lake where wintry bands
Halt briefly but to bivouac
Ere blustering on to Northern lands;-

Through these, through all I first did see,
With me to share my raptures none,
That nuptialled Monica would be
My novice and companion:

That we should float from mere to mere,
And sleep within some windless cove,
With nightingales to lull the ear,
From ilex wood and orange grove;

Linger at hamlets lost to fame,
That still wise-wandering feet beguile,
To gaze on frescoed wall or frame
Lit by Luini's gracious smile.

Now, but companioned by my pain,
Among each well-remembered scene
I can but let my Fancy feign
The happiness that might have been;

Imagine that I hear her voice,
Imagine that I feel her hand,
And I, enamoured guide, rejoice
To see her swift to understand.

Alack! Imagination might
As lief with rustic Virgil roam,
Reverent, or, welcomed guest, alight
At Pliny's philosophic home;

Hear one majestically trace
Rome's world-wide sway from wattled wall,
And read upon the other's face
The omens of an Empire's fall.

XXVIII

Like moonlight seen through forest leaves,
She shines upon me from afar,
What time men reap the ripened sheaves,
And Heaven rains many a falling star.

I gaze up to her lofty height,
And feel how far we dwell apart:
O if I could, this night, this night,
Fold her full radiance to my heart!

But She in Heaven, and I on earth,
Still journey on, but each alone;
She, maiden Queen of sacred birth,
Who with no consort shares her throne.

XXIX

What if She ever thought She saw
The self within myself prefer
Communion with the silent awe
Of far-off mountains more than Her;

That Nature hath the mobile grace
To make life with our moods agree,
And so had grown the Loved One's face,
Since it nor checked nor chided me;

Or from the tasks that irk and tire
I sought for comfort from the Muse,
Because it grants the mind's desire
All that familiar things refuse.

How vain such thought! The face, the form,
Of mountain summits but express,
Clouded or clear, in sun or storm,
Feebly Her spirit's loftiness.

Did I explore from pole to pole,
In Nature's aspect I should find
But faint reflections of Her soul,
Dim adumbrations of Her mind.

O come and test with lake, with stream,
With mountain, which the stronger be,
Thou, my divinest dearest dream,
My Muse, and more than Muse, to me!

XXX

They tell me that Jehovah speaks
In silent grove, on lonely strand,
And summit of the mountain peaks;
Yet there I do not understand.

The stars, disdainful of my thought,
Majestic march toward their goal,
And to my nightly watch have brought
No explanation to my soul.

The truth I seek I cannot find,
In air or sky, on land or sea;
If the hills have their secret mind,
They will not yield it up to me:

Like one who lost mid lonely hills
Still seeks but cannot find his way,
Since guide is none save winding rills,
That seem themselves, too, gone astray.

And so from rise to set of sun,
At glimmering dawn, in twilight haze,
I but behold the face of One
Who veils her face, and weeps, and prays.

What know I that She doth not know?
What I know not, She understands:
With heavenly gifts She overflows,
While I have only empty hands.

O weary wanderer! Best forego
This questioning of wind and wave.
For you the sunshine and the snow,
The womb, the cradle, and the grave.


XXXI

How blest, when organ concords swell,
And anthems are intoned, are they
Who neither reason nor rebel,
But meekly bow their heads and pray.

And such the peasants mountain-bred,
Who hail to-day with blithe accord
Her Feast Who to the Angel said,
``Behold the Handmaid of the Lord!''

Downward they wind from pastoral height,
Or hamlet grouped round shattered towers,
To wend to shrine more richly dight,
And bring their gift of wilding flowers;

Their gifts, their griefs, their daily needs,
And lay these at Her statue's base,
Who never, deem they, intercedes
Vainly before the Throne of Grace.

Shall I, because I stand apart,
A stranger to their pious vows,
Scorn their humility of heart
That pleads before the Virgin Spouse,

Confiding that the Son will ne'er,
If in His justice wroth with them,
Refuse to harken to Her prayer
Who suckled Him in Bethlehem?

Of all the intercessors born
By man's celestial fancy, none
Hath helped the sorrowing, the forlorn,
Lowly and lone, as She hath done.

The maiden faithful to Her shrine
Bids demons of temptation flee,
And mothers fruitful as the vine
Retain their vestal purity.

Too trustful love, by lust betrayed,
And by cold worldlings unforgiven,
Unto Her having wept and prayed,
Faces its fate, consoled and shriven.

The restless, fiercely probing mind
No honey gleans, though still it stings.
What comfort doth the spirit find
In Reason's endless reasonings?

They have no solace for my grief,
Compassion none for all my pain:
They toss me like the fluttering leaf,
And leave me to the wind and rain.


XXXII

If Conscience be God's Law to Man,
Then Conscience must perforce arraign
Whatever falls beneath the ban
Of that allotted Suzerain.

And He, who bids us not to swerve,
Whither the wayward passions draw,
From its stern sanctions, must observe
The limits of the self-same Law.

Yet, if obedient Conscience scan
The sum of wrongs endured and done
Neither by act nor fault of Man,
They rouse it to rebellion.

Life seems of life by life bereft
Through some immitigable curse,
And Man sole moral being left
In a non-moral Universe.

My Conscience would my Will withstand,
Did Will project a world like this:
Better Eternal vacuum still,
Than murder, lust, and heartlessness!

If Man makes Conscience, then being good
Is only being worldly wise,
And universal brotherhood
A comfortable compromise.

O smoke of War! O blood-steeped sod!
O groans of fratricidal strife!
Who will explain the ways of God,
That I may be at peace with life!

The moral riddle 'tis that haunts,
Primeval and unending curse,
Racking the mind when pulpit vaunts
A Heaven-created Universe.

Yet whence came Life, and how begin?
Rolleth the globe by choice or chance?
Dear Lord! Why longer shut me in
This prison-house of ignorance!


FLORENCE


XXXIII

City acclaimed ere Dante's days
Fair, and baptized in field of flowers,
Once more I scan with tender gaze
Your glistening domes, your storied towers.

I feel as if long years had flown
Since first with eager heart I came,
And, girdled by your mountain zone,
Found you yet fairer than your fame.

It was the season purple-sweet
When figs are plump, and grapes are pressed,
And all your sons with following feet
Bore a dead Poet to final rest.

You seemed to fling your gates ajar,
And softly lead me by the hand,
Saying, ``Behold! henceforth you are
No stranger in the Tuscan land.''

And though no love my love can wean
From native crag and cradling sea,
Yet Florence from that hour hath been
More than a foster-nurse to me.

When mount I terraced slopes arrayed
In bridal bloom of peach and pear,
While under olive's phantom shade
Lupine and beanflower scent the air,

The wild-bees hum round golden bay,
The green frog sings on fig-tree bole,
And, see! down daisy-whitened way
Come the slow steers and swaying pole.

The fresh-pruned vine-stems, curving, bend
Over the peaceful wheaten spears,
And with the glittering sunshine blend
Their transitory April tears.

O'er wall and trellis trailed and wound,
Hang roses blushing, roses pale;
And, hark! what was that silvery sound?
The first note of the nightingale.

Curtained, I close my lids and dream
Of Beauty seen not but surmised,
And, lulled by scent and song, I seem
Immortally imparadised.

When from the deep sweet swoon I wake
And gaze past slopes of grape and grain,
Where Arno, like some lonely lake,
Silvers the far-off seaward plain,

I see celestial sunset fires
That lift us from this earthly leaven,
And darkly silent cypress spires
Pointing the way from hill to Heaven.

Then something more than mortal steals
Over the wavering twilight air,
And, messenger of nightfall, peals
From each crowned peak a call to prayer.

And now the last meek prayer is said,
And, in the hallowed hush, there is
Only a starry dome o'erhead,
Propped by columnar cypresses.


XXXIV

Re-roaming through this palaced town,
I suddenly, 'neath grim-barred pile,
Catch sight of Dante's awful frown,
Or Leonardo's mystic smile;

Then, swayed by memory's fancy, stroll
To where from May-day's flaming pyre
Savonarola's austere soul
Went up to Heaven in tongues of fire;

Or Buonarroti's plastic hand
Made marble block from Massa's steep
Dawn into Day at his command,
Then plunged it into Night and Sleep.

No later wanderings can dispel
The glamour of the bygone years;
And, through the streets I know so well,
I scarce can see my way for tears.


XXXV

A sombre shadow seems to fall
On comely altar, transept fair;
The saints are still on frescoed wall,
But who comes thither now for prayer?

Men throng from far-off stranger land,
To stare, to wonder, not to kneel,
With map and guide-book in their hand
To tell them what to think and feel.

They scan, they prate, they marvel why
The figures still expressive glow,
Oblivious they were painted by
Adoring Frà Angelico.

Did Dante from his tomb afar
Return, his wrongs redressed at last,
And see you, Florence, as you are,
Half alien to your gracious Past,

Finding no Donatello now,
No reverent Giotto 'mong the quick,
To glorify ascetic vow
Of Francis or of Dominic;

Self-exiled by yet sterner fate
Than erst, he would from wandering cease,
And, ringing at monastic gate,
Plead, ``I am one who craves for peace.''

And what he sought but ne'er could find,
Shall I, less worthy, hope to gain,
The freedom of the tranquil mind,
The lordship over loss and pain?

More than such peace I found when I
Did first, in unbound youth, repair
To Tuscan shrine, Ausonian sky.
I found it, for I brought it there.


XXXVI

Yet Art brings peace, itself is Peace,
And, as I on these frescoes gaze,
I feel all fretful tumults cease
And harvest calm of mellower days.

For Soul too hath its seasons. Time,
That leads Spring, Summer, Autumn, round,
Makes our ephemeral passions chime
With something permanent and profound.

And, as in Nature, April oft
Strives to revert to wintry hours,
But shortly upon garth and croft
Re-sheds warm smiles and moistening showers,

Or, for one day, will Autumn wear
The gayer garments of the Spring,
And then athwart the wheatfields bare
Again her graver shadows fling;

So, though the Soul hath moods that veer,
And seem to hold no Rule in awe,
Like the procession of the year,
It too obeys the sovran Law.

Nor Art itself brings settled peace,
Until the mind is schooled to know
That gusts subside and tumults cease
Only in sunset's afterglow.

Life's contradictions vanish then,
Husht thought replacing clashing talk
Among the windy ways of men.
'Tis in the twilight Angels walk.


ROME


XXXVII

The last warm gleams of sunset fade
From cypress spire and stonepine dome,
And, in the twilight's deepening shade,
Lingering, I scan the wrecks of Rome.

Husht the Madonna's Evening Bell;
The steers lie loosed from wain and plough;
The vagrant monk is in his cell,
The meek nun-novice cloistered now.

Pedant's presumptuous voice no more
Vexes the spot where Caesar trod,
And o'er the pavement's soundless floor
Come banished priest and exiled God.

The lank-ribbed she-wolf, couched among
The regal hillside's tangled scrubs,
With doting gaze and fondling tongue
Suckles the Vestal's twin-born cubs.

Yet once again Evander leads
Æneas to his wattled home,
And, throned on Tiber's fresh-cut reeds,
Talks of burnt Troy and rising Rome.

From out the tawny dusk one hears
The half-feigned scream of Sabine maids,
The rush to arms, then swift the tears
That separate the clashing blades.

The Lictors with their fasces throng
To quell the Commons' rising roar,
As Tullia's chariot flames along,
Splashed with her murdered father's gore.

Her tresses free from band or comb,
Love-dimpled Venus, lithe and tall,
And fresh as Fiumicino's foam,
Mounts her pentelic pedestal.

With languid lids, and lips apart,
And curving limbs like wave half-furled,
Unarmed she dominates the heart,
And without sceptre sways the world.

Nerved by her smile, avenging Mars
Stalks through the Forum's fallen fanes,
Or, changed of mien and healed of scars,
Threads sylvan slopes and vineyard plains.

With waves of song from wakening lyre
Apollo routs the wavering night,
While, parsley-crowned, the white-robed choir
Wind chanting up the Sacred Height,

Where Jove, with thunder-garlands wreathed,
And crisp locks frayed like fretted foam,
Sits with his lightnings half unsheathed,
And frowns against the foes of Rome.

You cannot kill the Gods. They still
Reclaim the thrones where once they reigned,
Rehaunt the grove, remount the rill,
And renovate their rites profaned.

Diana's hounds still lead the chase,
Still Neptune's Trident crests the sea,
And still man's spirit soars through space
On feathered heels of Mercury.

No flood can quench the Vestals' Fire;
The Flamen's robes are still as white
As ere the Salii's armoured choir
Were drowned by droning anchorite.

The saint may seize the siren's seat,
The shaveling frown where frisked the Faun;
Ne'er will, though all beside should fleet,
The Olympian Presence be withdrawn.

Here, even in the noontide glare,
The Gods, recumbent, take their ease;
Go look, and you will find them there,
Slumbering behind some fallen frieze.

But most, when sunset glow hath paled,
And come, as now, the twilight hour,
In vesper vagueness dimly veiled
I feel their presence and their power.

What though their temples strew the ground,
And to the ruin owls repair,
Their home, their haunt, is all around;
They drive the cloud, they ride the air.

And, when the planets wend their way
Along the never-ageing skies,
``Revere the Gods'' I hear them say;
``The Gods are old, the Gods are wise.''

Build as man may, Time gnaws and peers
Through marble fissures, granite rents;
Only Imagination rears
Imperishable monuments.

Let Gaul and Goth pollute the shrine,
Level the altar, fire the fane:
There is no razing the Divine;
The Gods return, the Gods remain.


XXXVIII

Christ is arisen. The place wherein
They laid Him shows but cerements furled,
And belfry answers belfry's din
To ring the tidings round the world.

Grave Hierarchs come, an endless band,
In jewelled mitre, cope embossed,
Who bear Rome's will to every land
In all the tongues of Pentecost.

Majestic, along marble floor,
Walk Cardinals in blood-red robe,
Martyrs for Faith and Christ no more,
Who gaze as though they ruled the globe.

With halberds bare and doublets slashed,
Emblems that war will never cease,
Come martial guardians, unabashed,
And march afront the Prince of Peace.

Then, in his gestatorial Chair
See Christ's vicegerent, bland, benign,
To crowds all prostrate as in prayer
Lean low, and make the Holy Sign.

Then trumpets shrill, and organ peals,
Throughout the mighty marble pile,
Whileas a myriad concourse kneels
In dense-packed nave and crowded aisle.

Hark to the sudden hush! Aloft
From unseen source in empty dome
Swells prayerful music silvery-soft,
Borne from far-off celestial Home.

Then, when the solemn rite is done,
The worshippers stream out to where
Dance fountains glittering in the sun,
While expectation fills the air.

Now on high balcony He stands,
And-save for the Colonna curse,-
Blesses with high-uplifted hands
The City and the Universe.

Christ is arisen! But scarce as when,
On the third day of death and gloom,
Came ever-loving Magdalen
With tears and spices to His tomb.


XXXIX

The Tiber winds its sluggish way
Through niggard tracts whence Rome's command
Once cast the shadow of her sway,
O'er Asian city, Afric sand.

Nor even yet doth She resign
Her sceptre. Still the spell is hers,
Though she may seem a rifled shrine
'Mid circumjacent sepulchres.

One after one, they came, they come,
Gaul, Goth, Savoy, to work their will;
She answers, when She most seems dumb,
``I wore the Crown, I wear it still.

``From Jove I first received the gift,
I from Jehovah wear it now,
Nor shall profane invader lift
The diadem from off my brow.

``The Past is mine, and on the Past
The Future builds; and Time will rear
The next strong structure on the last,
Where men behold but shattered tier.

``The Teuton hither hies to teach,
To prove, disprove, to delve and probe.
Fool! Pedant! Does he think to reach
The deep foundations of the globe?''

For me, I am content to tread
On Sabine dust and Gothic foe.
Leave me to deepening silent dread
Of vanished Empire's afterglow.

In this Imperial wilderness
Why rashly babble and explore?
O, let me know a little less,
So I may feel a little more!


XL

For upward of one thousand years,
Here men and women prayed to Jove,
With smiles and incense, gifts and tears,
In secret shrine, or civic grove;

And, when Jove did not seem to heed,
Sought Juno's mediatorial power,
Or begged fair Venus intercede
And melt him in his amorous hour.

Sages invoked Minerva's might;
The Poet, ere he struck the lyre,
Prayed to the God of Song and Light
To touch the strings with hallowed fire.

With flaming herbs were altars smoked
Sprinkled with blood and perfumed must,
And gods and goddesses invoked
To second love or sanction lust.

And did they hear and heed the prayer,
Or, through that long Olympian reign,
Were they divinities of air
Begot of man's fantastic brain?

In Roman halls their statues still
Serenely stand, but no one now
Ascends the Capitolian Hill,
To render thanks, or urge the vow.

Through now long centuries hath Rome
Throned other God, preached other Creed,
That here still have their central home,
And feed man's hope, content his need.

Against these, too, will Time prevail?
No! Let whatever gestates, be,
Secure will last the tender tale
From Bethlehem to Calvary.

Throughout this world of pain and loss,
Man ne'er will cease to bend his knee
To Crown of Thorns, to Spear, to Cross,
And Doorway of Humility.


XLI

If Reason be the sole safe guide
In man implanted from above,
Why crave we for one only face,
Why consecrate the name of Love?

Faces there are no whit less fair,
Yet ruddier lip, more radiant eye,
Same rippling smile, same auburn hair,
But not for us. Say, Reason, why.

Why bound our hearts when April pied
Comes singing, or when hawthorn blows?
Doth logic in the lily hide,
And where's the reason in the rose?

Why weld our keels and launch our ships,
If Reason urge some wiser part,
Kiss England's Flag with dying lips
And fold its glories to the heart?

In this gross world we touch and see,
If Reason be no trusty guide,
For world unseen why should it be
The sole explorer justified?

The homing swallow knows its nest,
Sure curves the comet to its goal,
Instinct leads Autumn to its rest,
And why not Faith the homing soul?

Is Reason so aloof, aloft,
It doth not 'gainst itself rebel,
And are not Reason's reasonings oft
By Reason proved unreasonable?

He is perplexed no more, who prays,
``Hail, Mary Mother, full of grace!''
O drag me from Doubt's endless maze,
And let me see my Loved One's face!


XLII

``Upon this rock!'' Yet even here
Where Christian God ousts Pagan wraith,
Rebellious Reason whets its spear,
And smites upon the shield of Faith.

On sacred mount, down seven-hilled slopes,
Fearless it faces foe and friend,
Saying to man's immortal hopes,
``Whatso began, perforce must end.''

Not men alone, but gods too, die;
Fanes are, like hearths, left bare and lone;
This earth will into fragments fly,
And Heaven itself be overthrown.

Why then should Man immortal be?
He is but fleeting form, to fade,
Like momentary cloud, or sea
Of waves dispersed as soon as made.

Yet if 'tis Force, not Form, survives,
Meseems therein that one may find
Some comfort for distressful lives;
For, if Force ends not, why should Mind?

Is Doubt more forceful than Belief?
The doctor's cap than friar's cowl?
O ripeness of the falling leaf!
O wisdom of the moping owl!

Man's Mind will ever stand apart
From Science, save this have for goal
The evolution of the heart,
And sure survival of the Soul.


XLIII

The Umbilicum lonely stands
Where once rose porch and vanished dome;
But he discerns who understands
That every road may lead to Rome.

Enthroned in Peter's peaceful Chair,
The spiritual Caesar sways
A wider Realm of earth and air
Than trembled at Octavian's gaze.

His universal arms embrace
The saint, the sinner, and the sage,
And proffer refuge, comfort, grace
To tribulation's pilgrimage.

Here scientific searchers find
Precursors for two thousand years,
Who in a drouthy world divined
Fresh springs for human doubts and fears.

Here fair chaste Agnes veils her face
From prowlers of the sensual den,
And pity, pardon, and embrace
Await repentant Magdalen.

Princess and peasant-mother wend
To self-same altar, self-same shrine,
And Cardinal and Patriarch bend
Where lepers kneel, and beggars whine.

And is there then, in my distress,
No road, no gate, no shrine, for me?
The answer comes, ``Yes, surely, yes!
The Doorway of Humility.''

O rival Faiths! O clamorous Creeds!
Would you but hush your strife in prayer,
And raise one Temple for our needs,
Then, then, we all might worship there.

But dogma new with dogma old
Clashes to soothe the spirit's grief,
And offer to the unconsoled
Polyglot Babel of Belief!


XLIV

The billows roll, and rise, and break,
Around me; fixedly shine the stars
In clear dome overhead, and take
Their course, unheeding earthly jars.

Yet if one's upward gaze could be
But stationed where the planets are,
The star were restless as the sea,
The sea be tranquil as the star.

Hollowed like cradle, then like grave,
Now smoothly curved, now shapeless spray,
Withal the undirected wave
Forms, and reforms, and knows its way.

Then, waters, bear me on where He,
Ere death absolved at Christian font,
Removed Rome's menaced majesty
Eastward beyond the Hellespont.

Foreseeing not what Fate concealed,
But Time's caprice would there beget,
That Cross would unto Crescent yield,
Caesar and Christ to Mahomet.

Is it then man's predestined state
To search for, ne'er to find, the Light?
Arise, my Star, illuminate
These empty spaces of the Night!


XLV

Last night I heard the cuckoo call
Among the moist green glades of home,
And in the Chase around the Hall
Saw the May hawthorn flower and foam.

Deep in the wood where primrose stars
Paled before bluebell's dazzling reign,
The nightingale's sad sobbing bars
Rebuked the merle's too joyful strain.

The kine streamed forth from stall and byre,
The foal frisked round its mother staid,
The meads, by sunshine warmed, took fire,
And lambs in pasture, bleating, played.

The uncurbed rivulets raced to where
The statelier river curled and wound,
And trout, of human step aware,
Shot through the wave without a sound.

Adown the village street, as clear
As in one's wakeful mid-day hours,
Beheld I Monica drawing near,
Her vestal lap one crib of flowers.

Lending no look to me, she passed
By the stone path, as oft before,
Between old mounds Spring newly grassed,
And entered through the Little Door.

Led by her feet, I hastened on,
But, ere my feverish steps could get
To the low porch, lo! Morning shone
On Moslem dome and minaret!


CONSTANTINOPLE

XLVI

Now Vesper brings the sunset hour,
And, where crusading Knighthood trod,
Muezzin from his minaret tower
Proclaims, ``There is no God but God!''

Male God who shares his godhead with
No Virgin Mother's sacred tear,
But finds on earth congenial kith
In wielders of the sword and spear:

Male God who on male lust bestows
The ruddy lip, the rounded limb,
And promises, at battle's close,
Houri, not saint nor seraphim.

Swift through the doubly-guarded stream,
Shoots the caïque 'neath oarsmen brisk,
While from its cushioned cradle gleam
The eyes of yashmaked odalisque.

Unchanged adown the changing years,
Here where the Judas blossoms blaze,
Against Sophia's marble piers
The scowling Muslim lean and gaze;

And still at sunset's solemn hour,
Where Christ's devout Crusader trod,
Defiant from the minaret's tower
Proclaim, ``There is no God but God!''


XLVII

Three rival Rituals. One revered
In that loved English hamlet where,
With flowers in Vicarage garden reared,
She decks the altar set for prayer:

Another, where majestic Rome,
With fearless Faith and flag unfurled
'Gainst Doubt's ephemeral wave and foam,
Demands obedience from the world.

The third, where now I stand, and where
Two hoary Continents have met,
And Islam guards from taint and tare
Monistic Creed of Mahomet.

Yet older than all three, but banned
To suffer still the exile's doom
From shrine where Turkish sentries stand,
And Christians wrangle round Christ's tomb.

Where then find Creed, divine or dead,
All may embrace, and none contemn?-
Remember Who it was that said,
``Not here, nor at Jerusalem!''


ATHENS


XLVIII

To Acrocorinth's brow I climb,
And, lulled in retrospective bliss,
Descry, as through the mists of time,
Faintly the far Acropolis.

Below me, rivers, mountains, vales,
Wide stretch of ancient Hellas lies:
Symbol of Song that never fails,
Parnassus communes with the skies.

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