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It's Funny

It's funny how the minutes seem to fly away
When I hang out around you every single day
It's funny how the hours seem to disappear
When you come over and we're both together here
It's funny how the words I say seem to just fade out
When you explain to me you know what they're about
It's funny how the songs we sing seem to matter less
When you and I prepare so slowly to confess...

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Do You Know What They Are Doing?

slowly
they burn
little things
at night
to build
a fire

you know
what they
are really
doing?

they are
gathering
little things
to keep
the fire
alive

and they
keep telling
stories
to keep
themselves
intact.

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Ripopgodazippa

Ripopgodazippa, ripopgodazippa
If u flick of the pink plush, then this brother trippa
Start down at the bass then stop at the treble
Circle the midrange and up go me levels
Precious by chant is rockin the box
This cannot be foreplay cuz this be 2 hot
Up go the left thigh on me shoulder there
Up go the right and me blood pressure there
With my tongue in the cheek of the gold underwear
One yank of the teeth and they off on the chair
Chorus:
Ripopgodazippa, ripopgodazippa
If u flick of the pink plush, then this brother trippa
My girlie, how in the world did u learn this that u know?
Ripopgodazippa, etc. etc. so
This bench that I normally use 4 the weights
My girl, she lay me down and try my soul 2 take
And devilish this night she was before as Im layin there
She take it all the way down, the girl go down 2 the hair
She wouldnt move a muscle 4 what seemed like days
My heart stop beating and I died this way
Chorus
Ripopgodazippa
I lay me girl down on the fake lamb fur
Its fake but its still soft as whats between her
Lavender oil come from the bottle like I do
Whenever I think about me zippa rippin so good
All down the body and devil between the thighs
Ripop go zippa and u get a big surprise
Chorus
Ripopgodazippa
Instead of walking inside, I just knock on the door
I take a look around until she beggin me more, more, more!
When I finally come inside, Im standin perfectly still
I cant take no more! pump u then I will
I just wanna call your name, but I dont know what 2 say
Ripopgodazippa
If ure always with me
Ull never have 2 call me
Touch, touch
Hey
Chorus
Ripopgodazippa (ripopgodazippa)
Etc. etc. so
Ripopgodazippa

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How The Lover Chooses

Forever to be the home of heaven in which we all wish to rest our head.
Together even happily ever after death does us part.
Souls intertwined and attached.
Bound by a pact.
The kinda deal that one would never want make with the devil.
But love acts and once started it can not be stopped.
A flame that burns eternal.
No matter what one does it can not be extinguished, put out.
A once in a life time kind thing.
A smile, a kiss, a touch.
A lovers path to lust.
Theirs just never a enough.
Even as our bones decay and turn to dust.
A must of musts.
In a course of multiple follow through's.
As if say upon every fork in the road, I'll always take the one to be with you.
Committed beyond the greatest commitment.
A promise lock deep within.
And in this life you march on as if everyday is precious and new.
Cause time is always short.
Even when one is lost in the moment.
They still know what they have to gain and lose.
And this is how they choose.

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Hippodromania; Or, Whiffs From The Pipe

Part I
Visions in the Smoke
Rest, and be thankful! On the verge
Of the tall cliff rugged and grey,
But whose granite base the breakers surge,
And shiver their frothy spray,
Outstretched, I gaze on the eddying wreath
That gathers and flits away,
With the surf beneath, and between my teeth
The stem of the 'ancient clay'.

With the anodyne cloud on my listless eyes,
With its spell on my dreamy brain,
As I watch the circling vapours rise
From the brown bowl up to the sullen skies,
My vision becomes more plain,
Till a dim kaleidoscope succeeds
Through the smoke-rack drifting and veering,
Like ghostly riders on phantom steeds
To a shadowy goal careering.

In their own generation the wise may sneer,
They hold our sports in derision;
Perchance to sophist, or sage, or seer,
Were allotted a graver vision.
Yet if man, of all the Creator plann'd,
His noblest work is reckoned,
Of the works of His hand, by sea or by land,
The horse may at least rank second.

Did they quail, those steeds of the squadrons light,
Did they flinch from the battle's roar,
When they burst on the guns of the Muscovite,
By the echoing Black Sea shore?
On! on! to the cannon's mouth they stride,
With never a swerve nor a shy,
Oh! the minutes of yonder maddening ride,
Long years of pleasure outvie!

No slave, but a comrade staunch, in this,
Is the horse, for he takes his share,
Not in peril alone, but in feverish bliss,
And in longing to do and dare.
Where bullets whistle, and round shot whiz,
Hoofs trample, and blades flash bare,
God send me an ending as fair as his
Who died in his stirrups there!

The wind has slumbered throughout the day,
Now a fitful gust springs over the bay,
My wandering thoughts no longer stray,
I'll fix my overcoat buttons;
Secure my old hat as best I may
(And a shocking bad one it is, by the way),
Blow a denser cloud from my stunted clay,
And then, friend BELL, as the Frenchmen say,
We'll 'go back again to our muttons'.

There's a lull in the tumult on yonder hill,
And the clamour has grown less loud,
Though the Babel of tongues is never still,
With the presence of such a crowd.
The bell has rung. With their riders up
At the starting post they muster,
The racers stripp'd for the 'Melbourne Cup',
All gloss and polish and lustre;
And the course is seen, with its emerald sheen,
By the bright spring-tide renew'd,
Like a ribbon of green stretched out between
The ranks of the multitude.

The flag is lowered. 'They're off!' 'They come!'
The squadron is sweeping on;
A sway in the crowd-a murmuring hum:
'They're here!' 'They're past!' 'They're gone!'
They came with the rush of the southern surf,
On the bar of the storm-girt bay;
And like muffled drums on the sounding turf
Their hoof-strokes echo away.

The rose and black draws clear of the ruck,
And the murmur swells to a roar,
As the brave old colours that never were struck,
Are seen with the lead once more.
Though the feathery ferns and grasses wave
O'er the sod where Lantern sleeps,
Though the turf is green on Fisherman's grave,
The stable its prestige keeps.

Six lengths in front she scours along,
She's bringing the field to trouble;
She's tailing them off, she's running strong,
She shakes her head and pulls double.
Now Minstrel falters and Exile flags,
The Barb finds the pace too hot,
And Toryboy loiters, and Playboy lags,
And the BOLT of Ben Bolt is shot.

That she never may be caught this day,
Is the worst that the public wish her.
She won't be caught: she comes right away;
Hurrah for Seagull and Fisher!
See, Strop falls back, though his reins are slack,
Sultana begins to tire,
And the top-weight tells on the Sydney crack,
And the pace on 'the Gippsland flyer'.

The rowels, as round the turn they sweep,
Just graze Tim Whiffler's flanks;
Like the hunted deer that flies through the sheep,
He strides through the beaten ranks.
Daughter of Omen, prove your birth,
The colt will take lots of choking;
The hot breath steams at your saddle girth,
From his scarlet nostril smoking.

The shouts of the Ring for a space subside,
And slackens the bookmaker's roar;
Now, Davis, rally; now, Carter, ride,
As man never rode before.
When Sparrowhawk's backers cease to cheer,
When Yattendon's friends are dumb,
When hushed is the clamour for Volunteer-
Alone in the race they come!

They're neck and neck; they're head and head;
They're stroke for stroke in the running;
The whalebone whistles, the steel is red,
No shirking as yet nor shunning.
One effort, Seagull, the blood you boast
Should struggle when nerves are strained;-
With a rush on the post, by a neck at the most,
The verdict for Tim is gained.

Tim Whiffler wins. Is blood alone
The sine qua non for a flyer?
The breed of his dam is a myth unknown,
And we've doubts respecting his sire.
Yet few (if any) those proud names are,
On the pages of peerage or stud,
In whose 'scutcheon lurks no sinister bar,
No taint of the base black blood.

Aye, Shorthouse, laugh-laugh loud and long,
For pedigree you're a sticker;
You may be right, I may be wrong,
Wiseacres both! Let's liquor.
Our common descent we may each recall
To a lady of old caught tripping,
The fair one in fig leaves, who d--d us all
For a bite at a golden pippin.

When first on this rocky ledge I lay,
There was scarce a ripple in yonder bay,
The air was serenely still;
Each column that sailed from my swarthy clay
Hung loitering long ere it passed away,
Though the skies wore a tinge of leaden grey,
And the atmosphere was chill.
But the red sun sank to his evening shroud,
Where the western billows are roll'd,
Behind a curtain of sable cloud,
With a fringe of scarlet and gold;
There's a misty glare in the yellow moon,
And the drift is scudding fast,
There'll be storm, and rattle, and tempest soon,
When the heavens are overcast.
The neutral tint of the sullen sea
Is fleck'd with the snowy foam,
And the distant gale sighs drearilie,
As the wanderer sighs for his home.
The white sea-horses toss their manes
On the bar of the southern reef,
And the breakers moan, and-by Jove, it rains
(I thought I should come to grief):
Though it can't well damage my shabby hat,
Though my coat looks best when it's damp;
Since the shaking I got (no matter where at),
I've a mortal dread of the cramp.
My matches are wet, my pipe's put out,
And the wind blows colder and stronger;
I'll be stiff, and sore, and sorry, no doubt,
If I lie here any longer.

Part II
The Fields of Coleraine


On the fields of Col'raine there'll be labour in vain
Before the Great Western is ended,
The nags will have toil'd, and the silks will be soil'd,
And the rails will require to be mended.

For the gullies are deep, and the uplands are steep,
And mud will of purls be the token,
And the tough stringy-bark, that invites us to lark,
With impunity may not be broken.

Though Ballarat's fast, and they say he can last,
And that may be granted hereafter,
Yet the judge's decision to the Border division
Will bring neither shouting nor laughter.

And Blueskin, I've heard that he goes like a bird,
And I'm told that to back him would pay me;
He's a good bit of stuff, but not quite good enough,
'Non licuit credere famae.'

Alfred ought to be there, we all of us swear
By the blood of King Alfred, his sire;
He's not the real jam, by the blood of his dam,
So I sha'n't put him down as a flyer.

Now, Hynam, my boy, I wish you great joy,
I know that when fresh you can jump, sir;
But you'll scarce be in clover, when you're ridden all over,
And punished from shoulder to rump, sir.

Archer goes like a shot, they can put on their pot,
And boil it to cover expenses;
Their pot will boil over, the run of his dover
He'll never earn over big fences.

There's a horse in the race, with a blaze on his face,
And we know he can gallop a docker!
He's proved himself stout, of his speed there's no doubt,
And his jumping's according to Cocker.

When Hynam's outstripp'd, and when Alfred is whipp'd,
To keep him in sight of the leaders,
While Blueskin runs true, but his backers look blue,
For his rider's at work with the bleeders;

When his carcase of beef brings 'the bullock' to grief,
And the rush of the tartan is ended;
When Archer's in trouble-who's that pulling double,
And taking his leaps unextended?

He wins all the way, and the rest-sweet, they say,
Is the smell of the newly-turned plough, friend,
But you smell it too close when it stops eyes and nose,
And you can't tell your horse from your cow, friend.


Part III
Credat Judaeus Apella


Dear Bell,-I enclose what you ask in a letter,
A short rhyme at random, no more and no less,
And you may inser it, for want of a better,
Or leave it, it doesn't much matter, I guess;
And as for a tip, why, there isn't much in it,
I may hit the right nail, but first, I declare,
I haven't a notion what's going to win it
(The Champion, I mean), and what's more, I don't care.
Imprimis, there's Cowra-few nags can go quicker
Than she can-and Smith takes his oath she can fly;
While Brown, Jones, and Robinson swear she's a sticker,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.

There's old Volunteer, I'd be sorry to sneer
At his chance; he'll be there, if he goes at the rate
He went at last year, when a customer queer,
Johnny Higgerson, fancied him lock'd in the straight;
I've heard that the old horse has never been fitter,
I've heard all performances past he'll outvie;
He may gallop a docker, and finish a splitter,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.

I know what they say, sir, 'The Hook' he can stay, sir,
And stick to his work like a sleuth-hound or beagle;
He stays 'with a HOOK', and he sticks in the clay, sir;
I'd rather, for choice, pop my money on Seagull;
I'm told that the Sydney division will rue, sir,
Their rashness in front of the stand when they spy,
With a clear lead, the white jacket spotted with blue, sir,
But 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.

There's The Barb-you may talk of your flyers and stayers,
All bosh-when he strips you can see his eye range
Round his rivals, with much the same look as Tom Sayers
Once wore when he faced the big novice, Bill Bainge.
Like Stow, at our hustings, confronting the hisses
Of roughs, with his queer Mephistopheles' smile;
Like Baker, or Baker's more wonderful MRS.,
The terror of blacks at the source of the Nile;
Like Triton 'mid minnows; like hawk among chickens;
Like-anything better than everything else:
He stands at the post. Now they're off! the plot thickens!
Quoth Stanley to Davis, 'How is your pulse?'
He skims o'er the smooth turf, he scuds through the mire,
He waits with them, passes them, bids them good-bye!
Two miles and three-quarters, cries Filgate, 'He'll tire.'
Oh! 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.

Lest my tale should come true, let me give you fair warning,
You may 'shout' some cheroots, if you like, no champagne
For this child-'Oh! think of my head in the morning,'
Old chap, you don't get me on that lay again.
The last time those games I look'd likely to try on,
Says Bradshawe, 'You'll feel very sheepish and shy
When you are haul'd up and caution'd by D--g--y and L--n,'
Oh! 'credat Judaeus Apella', say I.

This writing bad verses is very fatiguing,
The brain and the liver against it combine,
And nerves with digestion in concert are leaguing,
To punish excess in the pen and ink line;
Already I feel just as if I'd been rowing
Hard all-on a supper of onions and tripe
(A thing I abhor), but my steam I've done blowing,
I am, my dear BELL, yours truly, 'The Pipe'.

P.S.-Tell J. P., if he fancies a good 'un,
That old chestnut pony of mine is for sale.
N.B.-His forelegs are uncommonly wooden,
I fancy the near one's beginning to fail,
And why shouldn't I do as W--n does oft,
And swear that a cripple is sound-on the Bible-
Hold hard! though the man I allude to is soft,
He's game to go in for an action of libel.


Part IV
Banker's Dream


Of chases and courses dogs dream, so do horses-
Last night I was dozing and dreaming,
The crowd and the bustle were there, and the rustle
Of the silk in the autumn sky gleaming.

The stand throng'd with faces, the broadcloth and laces,
The booths, and the tents, and the cars,
The bookmakers' jargon, for odds making bargain,
The nasty stale smell of cigars.

We formed into line, 'neath the merry sunshine,
Near the logs at the end of the railing;
'Are you ready, boys? Go!' cried the starter, and low
Sank the flag, and away we went sailing.

In the van of the battle we heard the stones rattle,
Some slogging was done, but no slaughter,
A shout from the stand, and the whole of our band
Skimm'd merrily over the water.

Two fences we clear'd, and the roadway we near'd,
When three of our troop came to trouble;
Like a bird on the wing, or a stone from a sling,
Flew Cadger, first over the double.

And Western was there, head and tail in the air,
And Pondon was there, too-what noodle
Could so name a horse? I should feel some remorse
If I gave such a name to a poodle.

In and out of the lane, to the racecourse again,
Craig's pony was first, I was third,
And Ingleside lit in my tracks, with the bit
In his teeth, and came up 'like a bird'.

In the van of the battle we heard the rails rattle,
Says he, 'Though I don't care for shunning
My share of the raps, I shall look out for gaps,
When the light weight's away with the running.'

At the fence just ahead the outsider still led,
The chestnut play'd follow my leader;
Oh! the devil a gap, he went into it slap,
And he and his jock took a header.

Says Ingleside, 'Mate, should the pony go straight,
You've no time to stop or turn restive;'
Says I, 'Who means to stop? I shall go till I drop;'
Says he, 'Go it, old cuss, gay and festive.'

The fence stiff and tall, just beyond the log wall,
We cross'd, and the walls, and the water,-
I took off too near, a small made fence to clear,
And just touch'd the grass with my snorter.

At the next post and rail up went Western's bang tail,
And down (by the very same token)
To earth went his nose, for the panel he chose
Stood firm and refused to be broken.

I dreamt someone said that the bay would have made
The race safe if he'd STOOD a while longer;
IF he had,-but, like if, there the panel stands stiff-
He stood, but the panel stood stronger.

In and out of the road, with a clear lead still show'd
The violet fluted with amber;
Says Johnson, 'Old man, catch him now if you can,
'Tis the second time round you'll remember.'

At the road once again, pulling hard on the rein,
Craig's pony popp'd in and popp'd out;
I followed like smoke and the pace was no joke,
For his friends were beginning to shout.

And Ingleside came to my side, strong and game,
And once he appear'd to outstrip me,
But I felt the steel gore, and I shot to the fore,
Only Cadger seem'd likely to whip me.

In the van of the battle I heard the logs rattle,
His stroke never seem'd to diminish,
And thrice I drew near him, and thrice he drew clear,
For the weight served him well at the finish.

Ha! Cadger goes down, see, he stands on his crown-
Those rails take a power of clouting-
A long sliding blunder-he's up-well, I wonder
If now it's all over but shouting.

All loosely he's striding, the amateur's riding
All loosely, some reverie locked in
Of a 'vision in smoke', or a 'wayfaring bloke',
His poetical rubbish concocting.

Now comes from afar the faint cry, 'Here they are,'
'The violet winning with ease,'
'Fred goes up like a shot,' 'Does he catch him or not?'
Level money, I'll take the cerise.

To his haunches I spring, and my muzzle I bring
To his flank, to his girth, to his shoulder;
Through the shouting and yelling I hear my name swelling,
The hearts of my backers grow bolder.

Neck and neck! head and head! staring eye! nostril spread!
Girth and stifle laid close to the ground!
Stride for stride! stroke for stroke! through one hurdle we've broke!
On the splinters we've lit with one bound.

And 'Banker for choice' is the cry, and one voice
Screams 'Six to four once upon Banker;'
'Banker wins,' 'Banker's beat,' 'Cadger wins,' 'A dead heat'-
Ah! there goes Fred's whalebone a flanker.

Springs the whip with a crack! nine stone ten on his back,
Fit and light he can race like the devil;
I draw past him-'tis vain; he draws past me again,
Springs the whip! and again we are level.

Steel and cord do their worst, now my head struggles first!
That tug my last spurt has expended-
Nose to nose! lip to lip! from the sound of the whip
He strains to the utmost extended.

How they swim through the air, as we roll to the chair,
Stand, faces, and railings flit past;
Now I spring * * *
from my lair with a snort and a stare,
Rous'd by Fred with my supper at last.


Part V
Ex Fumo Dare Lucem
['Twixt the Cup and the Lip]


Prologue


Calm and clear! the bright day is declining,
The crystal expanse of the bay,
Like a shield of pure metal, lies shining
'Twixt headlands of purple and grey,
While the little waves leap in the sunset,
And strike with a miniature shock,
In sportive and infantine onset,
The base of the iron-stone rock.

Calm and clear! the sea-breezes are laden
With a fragrance, a freshness, a power,
With a song like the song of a maiden,
With a scent like the scent of a flower;
And a whisper, half-weird, half-prophetic,
Comes home with the sigh of the surf;-
But I pause, for your fancies poetic
Never rise from the level of 'Turf'.

Fellow-bungler of mine, fellow-sinner,
In public performances past,
In trials whence touts take their winner,
In rumours that circulate fast,
In strains from Prunella or Priam,
Staying stayers, or goers that go,
You're much better posted than I am,
'Tis little I care, less I know.

Alas! neither poet nor prophet
Am I, though a jingler of rhymes-
'Tis a hobby of mine, and I'm off it
At times, and I'm on it at times;
And whether I'm off it or on it,
Your readers my counsels will shun,
Since I scarce know Van Tromp from Blue Bonnet,
Though I might know Cigar from the Nun.

With 'visions' you ought to be sated
And sicken'd by this time, I swear
That mine are all myths self-created,
Air visions that vanish in air;
If I had some loose coins I might chuck one,
To settle this question and say,
'Here goes! this is tails for the black one,
And heads for my fav'rite the bay.'

And must I rob Paul to pay Peter,
Or Peter defraud to pay Paul?
My rhymes, are they stale? if my metre
Is varied, one chime rings through all:
One chime-though I sing more or sing less,
I have but one string to my lute,
And it might have been better if, stringless
And songless, the same had been mute.

Yet not as a seer of visions,
Nor yet as a dreamer of dreams,
I send you these partial decisions
On hackney'd, impoverish'd themes;
But with song out of tune, sung to pass time,
Flung heedless to friends or to foes,
Where the false notes that ring for the last time,
May blend with some real ones, who knows?


The Race


On the hill they are crowding together,
In the stand they are crushing for room,
Like midge-flies they swarm on the heather,
They gather like bees on the broom;
They flutter like moths round a candle-
Stale similes, granted, what then?
I've got a stale subject to handle,
A very stale stump of a pen.

Hark! the shuffle of feet that are many,
Of voices the many-tongued clang-
'Has he had a bad night?' 'Has he any
Friends left?'-How I hate your turf slang;
'Tis stale to begin with, not witty,
But dull, and inclined to be coarse,
But bad men can't use (more's the pity)
Good words when they slate a good horse.

Heu! heu! quantus equis (that's Latin
For 'bellows to mend' with the weeds),
They're off! lights and shades! silk and satin!
A rainbow of riders and steeds!
And one shows in front, and another
Goes up and is seen in his place,
Sic transit (more Latin)-Oh! bother,
Let's get to the end of the race.

* * * * *

See, they come round the last turn careering,
Already Tait's colours are struck,
And the green in the vanguard is steering,
And the red's in the rear of the ruck!
Are the stripes in the shade doom'd to lie long?
Do the blue stars on white skies wax dim?
Is it Tamworth or Smuggler? 'Tis Bylong
That wins-either Bylong or Tim.

As the shell through the breach that is riven
And sapp'd by the springing of mines,
As the bolt from the thunder-cloud driven,
That levels the larches and pines,
Through yon mass parti-colour'd that dashes
Goal-turn'd, clad in many-hued garb,
From rear to van, surges and flashes
The yellow and black of The Barb.

Past The Fly, falling back on the right, and
The Gull, giving way on the left,
Past Tamworth, who feels the whip smite, and
Whose sides by the rowels are cleft;
Where Tim and the chestnut together
Still bear of the battle the brunt,
As if eight stone twelve were a feather,
He comes with a rush to the front.

Tim Whiffler may yet prove a Tartar,
And Bylong's the horse that can stay,
But Kean is in trouble-and Carter
Is hard on the satin-skinn'd bay;
And The Barb comes away unextended,
Hard held, like a second Eclipse,
While behind the hoof-thunder is blended
With the whistling and crackling of whips.


Epilogue


He wins; yes, he wins upon paper,
He hasn't yet won upon turf,
And these rhymes are but moonshine and vapour,
Air-bubbles and spume from the surf.
So be it, at least they are given
Free, gratis, for just what they're worth,
And (whatever there may be in heaven)
There's little worth much upon earth.

When, with satellites round them the centre,
Of all eyes, hard press'd by the crowd,
The pair, horse and rider, re-enter
The gate, 'mid a shout long and loud,
You may feel, as you might feel, just landed
Full length on the grass from the clip
Of a vicious cross-counter, right-handed,
Or upper-cut whizzing from hip.

And that's not so bad if you're pick'd up
Discreetly, and carefully nursed;
Loose teeth by the sponge are soon lick'd up,
And next time you MAY get home first.
Still I'm not sure you'd like it exactly
(Such tastes as a rule are acquired),
And you'll find in a nutshell this fact lie,
Bruised optics are not much admired.

Do I bore you with vulgar allusions?
Forgive me, I speak as I feel,
I've pondered and made my conclusions-
As the mill grinds the corn to the meal;
So man striving boldly but blindly,
Ground piecemeal in Destiny's mill,
At his best, taking punishment kindly,
Is only a chopping-block still.

Are we wise? Our abstruse calculations
Are based on experience long;
Are we sanguine? Our high expectations
Are founded on hope that is strong;
Thus we build an air-castle that crumbles
And drifts till no traces remain,
And the fool builds again while he grumbles,
And the wise one laughs, building again.

'How came they to pass, these rash blunders,
These false steps so hard to defend?'
Our friend puts the question and wonders,
We laugh and reply, 'Ah! my friend,
Could you trace the first stride falsely taken,
The distance misjudged, where or how,
When you pick'd yourself up, stunn'd and shaken,
At the fence 'twixt the turf and the plough?'

In the jar of the panel rebounding!
In the crash of the splintering wood!
In the ears to the earth shock resounding!
In the eyes flashing fire and blood!
In the quarters above you revolving!
In the sods underneath heaving high!
There was little to aid you in solving
Such questions-the how or the why.

And destiny, steadfast in trifles,
Is steadfast for better or worse
In great things, it crushes and stifles,
And swallows the hopes that we nurse.
Men wiser than we are may wonder,
When the future they cling to so fast,
To the roll of that destiny's thunder,
Goes down with the wrecks of the past.

* * * * *

The past! the dead past! that has swallow'd
All the honey of life and the milk,
Brighter dreams than mere pastimes we've follow'd,
Better things than our scarlet or silk;
Aye, and worse things-that past is it really
Dead to us who again and again
Feel sharply, hear plainly, see clearly,
Past days with their joy and their pain?

Like corpses embalm'd and unburied
They lie, and in spite of our will,
Our souls on the wings of thought carried,
Revisit their sepulchres still;
Down the channels of mystery gliding,
They conjure strange tales, rarely read,
Of the priests of dead Pharaohs presiding
At mystical feasts of the dead.

Weird pictures arise, quaint devices,
Rude emblems, baked funeral meats,
Strong incense, rare wines, and rich spices,
The ashes, the shrouds, and the sheets;
Does our thraldom fall short of completeness
For the magic of a charnel-house charm,
And the flavour of a poisonous sweetness,
And the odour of a poisonous balm?

And the links of the past-but, no matter,
For I'm getting beyond you, I guess,
And you'll call me 'as mad as a hatter'
If my thoughts I too freely express;
I subjoin a quotation, pray learn it,
And with the aid of your lexicon tell us
The meaning thereof-'Res discernit
Sapiens, quas confundit asellus.'

Already green hillocks are swelling,
And combing white locks on the bar,
Where a dull, droning murmur is telling
Of winds that have gather'd afar;
Thus we know not the day, nor the morrow,
Nor yet what the night may bring forth,
Nor the storm, nor the sleep, nor the sorrow,
Nor the strife, nor the rest, nor the wrath.

Yet the skies are still tranquil and starlit,
The sun 'twixt the wave and the west
Dies in purple, and crimson, and scarlet,
And gold; let us hope for the best,
Since again from the earth his effulgence
The darkness and damp-dews shall wipe.
Kind reader, extend your indulgence
To this the last lay of 'The Pipe'.

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The Happiest Girl in the World

A week ago; only a little week:
it seems so much much longer, though that day
is every morning still my yesterday;
as all my life 'twill be my yesterday,
for all my life is morrow to my love.
Oh fortunate morrow! Oh sweet happy love!

A week ago; and I am almost glad
to have him now gone for this little while,
that I may think of him and tell myself
what to be his means, now that I am his,
and know if mine is love enough for him,
and make myself believe it all is true.

A week ago; and it seems like a life,
and I have not yet learned to know myself:
I am so other than I was, so strange,
grown younger and grown older all in one;
and I am not so sad and not so gay;
and I think nothing, only hear him think.

That morning, waking, I remembered him
"Will he be here to-day? he often comes; --
and is it for my sake or to kill time?"
and, wondering "Will he come?" I chose the dress
he seemed to like the best, and hoped for him;
and did not think I could quite love him yet.
And did I love him then with all my heart?
or did I wait until he held my hands
and spoke "Say, shall it be?" and kissed my brow,
and I looked at him and he knew it all?

And did I love him from the day we met?
but I more gladly danced with some one else
who waltzed more smoothly and was merrier:
and did I love him when he first came here?
but I more gladly talked with some one else
whose words were readier and who sought me more.
When did I love him? How did it begin?

The small green spikes of snowdrops in the spring
are there one morning ere you think of them;
still we may tell what morning they pierced up:
June rosebuds stir and open stealthily,
and every new blown rose is a surprise;
still we can date the day when one unclosed:
but how can I tell when my love began?

Oh, was it like the young pale twilight star
that quietly breaks on the vacant sky,
is sudden there and perfect while you watch,
and, though you watch, you have not seen it dawn,
the star that only waited and awoke?

But he knows when he loved me; for he says
the first time we had met he told a friend
"The sweetest dewy daisy of a girl,
but not the solid stuff to make a wife;"
and afterwards the first time he was here,
when I had slipped away into our field
to watch alone for sunset brightening on
and heard them calling me, he says he stood
and saw me come along the coppice walk
beneath the green and sparkling arch of boughs,
and, while he watched the yellow lights that played
with the dim flickering shadows of the leaves
over my yellow hair and soft pale dress,
flitting across me as I flitted through,
he whispered inly, in so many words,
"I see my wife; this is my wife who comes,
and seems to bear the sunlight on with her:"
and that was when he loved me, so he says.

Yet is he quite sure? was it only then?
and had he had no thought which I could feel?
for why was it I knew that he would watch,
and all the while thought in my silly heart,
as I advanced demurely, it was well
I had on the pale dress with sweeping folds
which took the light and shadow tenderly,
and that the sunlights touched my hair and cheek,
because he'd note it all and care for it?

Oh vain and idle poor girl's heart of mine,
content with that coquettish mean content!
He, with his man's straight purpose, thinking "wife,"
and I but that 'twas pleasant to be fair
and that 'twas pleasant he should count me fair.
But oh, to think he should be loving me
and I be no more moved out of myself!
The sunbeams told him, but they told me nought,
except that maybe I was looking well.
And oh had I but known! Why did no bird,
trilling its own sweet lovesong, as I passed,
so musically marvellously glad,
sing one for me too, sing me "It is he,"
sing "Love him," and "You love him: it is he,"
that I might then have loved him when he loved,
that one dear moment might be date to both?

And must I not be glad he hid his thought
and did not tell me then, when it was soon
and I should have been startled, and not known
how he is just the one man I can love,
and, only with some pain lest he were pained,
and nothing doubting, should have answered "No."
How strange life is! I should have answered "No."
Oh, can I ever be half glad enough
he is so wise and patient and could wait!

He waited as you wait the reddening fruit
which helplessly is ripening on the tree,
and not because it tries or longs or wills,
only because the sun will shine on it:
but he who waited was himself that sun.

Oh was it worth the waiting? was it worth?
For I am half afraid love is not love,
this love which only makes me rest in him
and be so happy and so confident,
this love which makes me pray for longest days
that I may have them all to use for him,
this love which almost makes me yearn for pain
that I might have borne something for his sake,
this love which I call love, is less than love.
Where are the fires and fevers and the pangs?
where is the anguish of too much delight,
and the delirious madness at a kiss,
the flushing and the paling at a look,
and passionate ecstasy of meeting hands?
where is the eager weariness at time
that will not bate a single measured hour
to speed to us the far-off wedding day?
I am so calm and wondering, like a child
who, led by a firm hand it knows and trusts
along a stranger country beautiful
with a bewildering beauty to new eyes
if they be wise to know what they behold,
finds newness everywhere but no surprise,
and takes the beauty as an outward part
of being led so kindly by the hand.
I am so cold: is mine but a child's heart,
and not a woman's fit for such a man?
Alas am I too cold, am I too dull,
can I not love him as another could?
And oh, if love be fire, what love is mine
that is but like the pale subservient moon
who only asks to be earth's minister?
And, oh, if love be whirlwind, what is mine
that is but like a little even brook
which has no aim but flowing to the sea,
and sings for happiness because it flows?

Ah well, I would that I could love him more
and not be only happy as I am;
I would that I could love him to his worth,
with that forgetting all myself in him,
that subtle pain of exquisite excess,
that momentary infinite sharp joy,
I know by books but cannot teach my heart:
and yet I think my love must needs be love,
since he can read me through -- oh happy strange,
my thoughts that were my secrets all for me
grown instantly his open easy book! --
since he can read me through, and is content.

And yesterday, when they all went away,
save little Amy with her daisy chains,
and left us in that shadow of tall ferns,
and the child, leaning on me, fell asleep,
and I, tired by the afternoon long walk,
said "I could almost gladly sleep like her,"
did he not answer, drawing down my head,
"Sleep, darling, let me see you rest on me,"
and when the child, awaking, wakened me,
did he not say "Dear, you have made me glad,
for, seeing you so sleeping peacefully,
I feel that you do love me utterly,
no questionings, no regrettings, but at rest."

Oh yes, my good true darling, you spoke well
"No questionings, no regrettings, but at rest:"
what should I question, what should I regret,
now I have you who are my hope and rest?

I am the feathery wind-wafted seed
that flickered idly half a merry morn,
now thralled into the rich life-giving earth
to root and bud and waken into leaf
and make it such poor sweetness as I may;
the prisoned seed that never more shall float
the frolic playfellow of summer winds
and mimic the free changeful butterfly;
the prisoned seed that prisoned finds its life
and feels its pulses stir, and grows, and grows.
Oh love, who gathered me into yourself,
oh love, I am at rest in you, and live.

And shall I for so many coming days
be flower and sweetness to him? Oh pale flower,
grow, grow, and blossom out, and fill the air,
feed on his richness, grow, grow, blossom out,
and fill the air, and be enough for him.

Oh crystal music of the air-borne lark,
so falling, nearer, nearer, from the sky,
are you a message to me of dear hopes?
oh trilling gladness, flying down to earth,
have you brought answer of sweet prophecy?
have you brought answer to the thoughts in me?
Oh happy answer, and oh happy thoughts!
and which is the bird's carol, which my heart's?

My love, my love, my love! And I shall be
so much to him, so almost everything:
and I shall be the friend whom he will trust,
and I shall be the child whom he will teach,
and I shall be the servant he will praise,
and I shall be the mistress he will love,
and I shall be his wife. Oh days to come,
will ye not pass like gentle rhythmic steps
that fall to sweetest music noiselessly?

But I have known the lark's song half sound sad,
and I have seen the lake, which rippled sun,
toss dimmed and purple in a sudden wind;
and let me laugh a moment at my heart
that thinks the summer-time must all be fair,
that thinks the good days always must be good:
yes let me laugh a moment -- may be weep.

But no, but no, not laugh; for through my joy
I have been wise enough to know the while
some tears and some long hours are in all lives,
in every promised land some thorn plants grow,
some tangling weeds as well as laden vines:
and no, not weep; for is not my land fair,
my land of promise flushed with fruit and bloom?
and who would weep for fear of scattered thorns?
and very thorns bear oftentimes sweet fruits.

Oh the black storm that breaks across the lake
ruffles the surface, leaves the deeps at rest --
deep in our hearts there always will be rest:
oh summer storms fall sudden as they rose,
the peaceful lake forgets them while they die --
our hearts will always have it summer time.

All rest, all summer time. My love, my love,
I know it will be so; you are so good,
and I, near you, shall grow at last like you;
and you are tender, patient -- oh I know
you will bear with me, help me, smile to me,
and let me make you happy easily;
and I, what happiness could I have more
than that dear labour of a happy wife?
I would not have another. Is it wrong,
and is it selfish that I cannot wish,
that I, who yet so love the clasping hand
and innocent fond eyes of little ones,
I cannot wish that which I sometimes read
is women's dearest wish hid in their love,
to press a baby creature to my breast?
Oh is it wrong? I would be all for him,
not even children coming 'twixt us two
to call me from his service to serve them;
and maybe they would steal too much of love,
for, since I cannot love him now enough,
what would my heart be halved? or would it grow?
But he perhaps would love me something less,
finding me not so always at his side.

Together always, that was what he said;
together always. Oh dear coming days!
O dear dear present days that pass too fast,
although they bring such rainbow morrows on!
that pass so fast, and yet, I know not why,
seem always to encompass so much time.
And I should fear I were too happy now,
and making this poor world too much my Heaven,
but that I feel God nearer and it seems
as if I had learned His love better too.

So late already! The sun dropping down,
and under him the first long line of red --
my truant should be here again by now,
is come maybe. I will not seek him, I;
he would be vain and think I cared too much;
I will wait here, and he shall seek for me,
and I will carelessly -- Oh his dear step --
he sees me, he is coming; my own love!

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I Walk And Sing In Joy The Songs Of Others

I WALK AND SING IN JOY THE SONGS OF OTHERS

I walk and sing in Joy the songs of others
I have no mind for a poem of my own –

How can Exuberance be so useless?

I long for a poem as justification-

I write in my mind words like these
And feel I love my own Poetry –

But now there is Doubt
And the song of my own
I write to sing
Sober and serious
Demands its correction
And is rewritten and rewritten again
In a Silence without Joy.

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Things are never what they seem

Funny how things are never what they seem
love is and illusive dream, coming and going like the tides of the sea
but like a mystical animal that doesnt exist many still choose to believe
but maybe, some how, some way, love can be discovered
and feelings that have long stayed dormant will be uncovered
the sensation will rattle your bones and fill your soul
and you discover that love is what makes life whole
but until then the emotions shall remain concealed
and love, yet another dream unfulfilled
It seems it only appears to those who believe, who dare to dream
Funny how things are never what they seem

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I Know how You Feel

I find it quite amusing,
That those who do not know others...
Can tell anyone how the one unknown,
Spends their time...
In a doing to them unseen or shown.

I like that expression...'I know how you feel.'

Really?
Then you wouldn't mind if I took a sledgehammer,
And hit you over the head with it a few times?
And if you wait here for a second...
I will call around to see if I could rent a Mac Truck,
To knock you down to roll over at least twice.~

People have no clue what others go through.
Even those living together,
Will say they know nothing of what the others do.
And they may be brothers, fathers, mothers and sisters too.

People do not care about anyone else,
Unless it is to the best of their interest.

And those who do show and express a genuine interest...
They are not suspected to be human.
At least not to have suffered through the experience,
Of being one.

Only those that have laid down like a welcome mat,
To have crap and all kinds of dirt rubbed on their backs...
Can say they qualify to raise a high eyebrow.
Or express an opinion no one likes to hear.
And that's the point of view everyone should respect.
Not the one created by someone pretending to know,
What they don't.

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The Little Girl's Song

Do not mind my crying, Papa, I am not crying for pain.
Do not mind my shaking, Papa, I am not shaking with fear;
Tho' the wild wild wind is bideous to hear,
And I see the snow and the rain.
When will you come back again,
Papa, Papa?


Somebody else that you love, Papa,
Somebody else that you dearly love
Is weary, like me, because you're away.
Sometimes I see her lips tremble and move,
And I seem to know what they're going to say;
And every day, and all the long day,
I long to cry, 'Oh Mamma, Mamma,
When will Papa come back again?'
But before I can say it I see the pain
Creeping up on her white white cheek,
As the sweet sad sunshine creeps up the white wall,
And then I am sorry, and fear to speak;
And slowly the pain goes out of her cheek,
As the sad sweet sunshine goes from the wall.
Oh, I wish I were grown up wise and tall,
That I might throw my arms round her neck
And say, 'Dear Mamma, oh, what is it all
That I see and see and do not see
In your white white face all the livelong day?'
But she hides her grief from a child like me.
When will you come back again,
Papa, Papa?


Where were you going, Papa, Papa?
All this long while have you been on the sea?
When she looks as if she saw far away,
Is she thinking of you, and what does she see?
Are the white sails blowing,
And the blue men rowing,
And are you standing on the high deck
Where we saw you stand till the ship grew gray,
And we watched and watched till the ship was a speck,
And the dark came first to you, far away?
I wish I could see what she can see,
But she hides her grief from a child like me.
When will you come back again,
Papa, Papa?


Don't you remember, Papa, Papa,
How we used to sit by the fire, all three,
And she told me tales while I sat on her knee,
And heard the winter winds roar down the street,
And knock like men at the window pane,
And the louder they roared, oh, it seemed more sweet
To be warm and warm as we used to be,
Sitting at night by the fire, all three?
When will you come back again,
Papa, Papa?


Papa, I like to sit by the fire;
Why does she sit far away in the cold?
If I had but somebody wise and old,
That every day I might cry and say,
'Is she changed, do you think, or do I forget?
Was she always as white as she is to-day?
Did she never carry her head up higher?'
Papa, Papa, if I could but know!
Do you think her voice was always so low?
Did I always see what I seem to see
When I wake up at night and her pillow is wet?
You used to say her hair it was gold-
It looks like silver to me.
But still she tells the same tale that she told,
She sings the same songs when I sit on her knee,
And the house goes on as it went long ago,
When we lived together, all three.
Sometimes my heart seems to sink, Papa,
And I feel as if I could be happy no more.
Is she changed, do you think, Papa,
Or did I dream she was brighter before?
She makes me remember my snowdrop, Papa,
That I forgot in thinking of you,
The sweetest snowdrop that ever I knew!
But I put it out of the sun and the rain:
It was green and white when I put it away,
It had one sweet bell and green leaves four;
It was green and white when I found it that day,
It had one pale bell and green leaves four,
But I was not glad of it any more.
Was it changed, do you think, Papa,
Or did I dream it was brighter before?


Do not mind my crying, Papa,
I am not crying for pain.
Do not mind my shaking, Papa,
I am not shaking for fear;
Tho' the wild wild wind is hideous to hear,
And I see the snow and the rain.
When will you come back again,
Papa, Papa?

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Raise The Flag

[ Brother J ]
Descending from the tribes of Africa
Inspired by the great black leaders
[ Professor X ]
Vanglorious
This is protected
By the Red, the Black and the Green
With a key
Zoom
(Dynamic
Articulate
Perceptive
Courageous
Outspoken)
[ VERSE 1: Brother J ]
One man is not a nation, Brother builds a Clan
Certer than the circle creates the better man
The colors, the brothers, the key, the motherland
This causes to assemble this blackman
Red, Black and Green are the colors of the flag on the rise
Cause a nation should be guised
Another flowing, as I comfort sons and daughters
Knowledge leads the way, so I flow like Nile's waters
African-American rebel of authority
Majority, while I'm so-called minority
Sometimes they ask me, "Why are you the rebel?
Is that the way you choose, attain the bass and treble?"
Yup - "Brother, don't get deep," that's what they tellin me
Just like a sell-out, while society
Gets stronger and stronger, my race gets weaker and weaker
Maybe I can make a difference through a mic and a speaker
So my lyrics flow different than a hip-hop be bop
Mic controller who turns out to be the flop
My wisdom God-given, excercised 'pon a rhythm
Power postive and strictly Bible, that's how I'm livin
Fortress we establish high, so none attack it
Back to the ways of our mathmatic blackness
They can't solve it, it's somethin they can't catch
Took respect off our lives, so now I'm snatchin it back
Power flows in the nation, there is life in the key
Let us all bind together in the Red, the Black, the Green
[ VERSE 2: Brother J ]
One vanglorious way, through the heart, unified
And that should be the guide
For the younger nation, so they can build the tribes
After and beyond keep the colors alive
A message through lyrics and beats composed
Bring composure outstanding direct to those
Who understand what was taken, xeroxed and stripped naked
Today's pig shall be tomorrow's bacon
Education brings false words, what do they teach?
Everything that I learned I had to self-reach
What do you know of a race that's dyin hourly?
The smartest men in the world, they in a bowery
Or either trapped or brain-washed on a come-up
Kicked to the butt, wake up, are you some kind of nut?
Are you blind, can't you see what's never seen?
We need some unity within the colors of the (Red, Black and Green)
[ VERSE 3: Brother J ]
Garvey-like brotherhood flows with the vibe
And with the key, the flag is kept alive
The sense of power, native to a different land
Originality, fact that I understand
A black fist, black power and a black man
X Clan take a stand with the other hand
Usin this as a gimmick, yo man, I'll catch you
Fetch you, kick my foot and then direct you
In the right path, succotash
Don't ask me 'bout the aftermath
You do what? Don't make me laugh
Dummy, I am protected by forces beyond you
Think before you step before the rebel, silly mortal, you
Wearin Mother's tags, and you don't know what they mean
All you are concerned with is greedy man's green
Sportin your medaillons, cause they matchin with your outfit
Your posse's wearin it, man, that's so illegit
Without definition you represent the fraudulent
Blessed with blackness, but now you're just doggin it
Tooth for tooth, and a man for man
Ignorance take a pause and we'll all understand
Independence is one thing when unity is stronger
No one to realize the pressure last longer
I'm just one man who fears for the worst
Cause if we don't take a stand someone will step first
And then...
[ Professor X ]
No justice, no peace
Father Moses, Osiris, Oisis
Patrice Lumumba
Malcolm X
Marcus Garvey
Sonny Carson
The Blackwatch
Sissy!

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Raise The Flag

[ Brother J ]
Descending from the tribes of Africa
Inspired by the great black leaders
[ Professor X ]
Vanglorious
This is protected
By the Red, the Black and the Green
With a key
Zoom
(Dynamic
Articulate
Perceptive
Courageous
Outspoken)
[ VERSE 1: Brother J ]
One man is not a nation, Brother builds a Clan
Certer than the circle creates the better man
The colors, the brothers, the key, the motherland
This causes to assemble this blackman
Red, Black and Green are the colors of the flag on the rise
Cause a nation should be guised
Another flowing, as I comfort sons and daughters
Knowledge leads the way, so I flow like Nile's waters
African-American rebel of authority
Majority, while I'm so-called minority
Sometimes they ask me, "Why are you the rebel?
Is that the way you choose, attain the bass and treble?"
Yup - "Brother, don't get deep," that's what they tellin me
Just like a sell-out, while society
Gets stronger and stronger, my race gets weaker and weaker
Maybe I can make a difference through a mic and a speaker
So my lyrics flow different than a hip-hop be bop
Mic controller who turns out to be the flop
My wisdom God-given, excercised 'pon a rhythm
Power postive and strictly Bible, that's how I'm livin
Fortress we establish high, so none attack it
Back to the ways of our mathmatic blackness
They can't solve it, it's somethin they can't catch
Took respect off our lives, so now I'm snatchin it back
Power flows in the nation, there is life in the key
Let us all bind together in the Red, the Black, the Green
[ VERSE 2: Brother J ]
One vanglorious way, through the heart, unified
And that should be the guide
For the younger nation, so they can build the tribes
After and beyond keep the colors alive
A message through lyrics and beats composed
Bring composure outstanding direct to those
Who understand what was taken, xeroxed and stripped naked
Today's pig shall be tomorrow's bacon
Education brings false words, what do they teach?
Everything that I learned I had to self-reach
What do you know of a race that's dyin hourly?
The smartest men in the world, they in a bowery
Or either trapped or brain-washed on a come-up
Kicked to the butt, wake up, are you some kind of nut?
Are you blind, can't you see what's never seen?
We need some unity within the colors of the (Red, Black and Green)
[ VERSE 3: Brother J ]
Garvey-like brotherhood flows with the vibe
And with the key, the flag is kept alive
The sense of power, native to a different land
Originality, fact that I understand
A black fist, black power and a black man
X Clan take a stand with the other hand
Usin this as a gimmick, yo man, I'll catch you
Fetch you, kick my foot and then direct you
In the right path, succotash
Don't ask me 'bout the aftermath
You do what? Don't make me laugh
Dummy, I am protected by forces beyond you
Think before you step before the rebel, silly mortal, you
Wearin Mother's tags, and you don't know what they mean
All you are concerned with is greedy man's green
Sportin your medaillons, cause they matchin with your outfit
Your posse's wearin it, man, that's so illegit
Without definition you represent the fraudulent
Blessed with blackness, but now you're just doggin it
Tooth for tooth, and a man for man
Ignorance take a pause and we'll all understand
Independence is one thing when unity is stronger
No one to realize the pressure last longer
I'm just one man who fears for the worst
Cause if we don't take a stand someone will step first
And then...
[ Professor X ]
No justice, no peace
Father Moses, Osiris, Oisis
Patrice Lumumba
Malcolm X
Marcus Garvey
Sonny Carson
The Blackwatch
Sissy!

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Guillaume Apollinaire

The Bestiary: or Orpheus’s Procession

(Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée)

Orpheus

Admire the vital power
And nobility of line:
Its the voice that the light made us understand here
That Hermes Trismegistus writes of in Pimander.


The Tortoise

From magic Thrace, O delerium!
My sure fingers sound the strings.
The creatures pass to the sounds
Of my tortoise, and the songs I sing.


The Horse

My harsh dreams knew the riding of you
My gold-charioted fate will be your lovely car
That for reins will hold tight to frenzy,
My verses, the patterns of all poetry.


The Tibetan Goat

The fleece of this goat and even
That gold one which cost such pain
To Jason’s not worth a sou towards
The tresses with which I’m taken.


The Serpent

You set yourself against beauty.
And how many women have been
victims of your cruelty!
Eve, Eurydice, Cleopatra:
I know three or four more after.


The Cat

I wish there to be in my house:
A woman possessing reason,
A cat among books passing by,
Friends for every season
Lacking whom I’m barely alive.


The Lion

O lion, miserable image
Of kings lamentably chosen,
Now youre only born in a cage
In Hamburg, among the Germans.


The Hare

Don’t be fearful and lascivious
Like the hare and the amorous.
But always let your brain weave
The full form that conceives.


The Rabbit

There’s another cony I remember
That I’d so like to take alive.
Its haunt is there among the thyme
In the valleys of the Land of Tender.


The Dromedary

With his four dromedaries
Don Pedro of Alfaroubeira
Travels the world and admires her.
He does what I would rather
If I’d those four dromedaries.


The Mouse

Sweet days, the mice of time,
You gnaw my life, moon by moon.
God! I’ve twenty eight years soon,
and badly spent ones I imagine.


The Elephant

I carry treasure in my mouth,
As an elephant his ivory.
At the price of flowing words,
Purple death!…I buy my glory.


Orpheus

Look at this pestilential tribe
Its thousand feet, its hundred eyes:
Beetles, insects, lice
And microbes more amazing
Than the world’s seventh wonder
And the palace of Rosamunde!


The Caterpillar

Work leads us to riches.
Poor poets, work on!
The caterpillar’s endless sigh
Becomes the lovely butterfly.

The Fly

The songs that our flies know
Were taught to them in Norway
By flies who are they say
Divinities of snow.


The Flea

Fleas, friends, lovers too,
How cruel are those who love us!
All our blood pours out for them.
The well-beloved are wretched then.


The Grasshopper

Heres the slender grasshopper
The food that fed Saint John.
May my verse be similar,
A treat for the best of men.


Orpheus

His heart was the bait: the heavens were the pond!
For, fisherman, what fresh or seawater catch
equals him, either in form or savour,
that lovely divine fish, Jesus, My Saviour?


The Dolphin

Dolphins, playing in the sea
The wave is bitter gruel.
Does my joy sometimes erupt?
Yet life is still so cruel.


The Octopus
Hurling his ink at skies above,
Sucking the blood of what he loves
And finding it delicious,
Is myself the monster, vicious.


The Jellyfish

Medusas, miserable heads
With hairs of violet
You enjoy the hurricane
And I enjoy the very same.


The Lobster

Uncertainty, O my delights
You and I we go
As lobsters travel onwards, quite
Backwards, Backwards, O.


The Carp

In your pools, and in your ponds,
Carp, you indeed live long!
Is it that death forgets to free
You fishes of melancholy?


Orpheus

The female of the Halcyon,
Love, the seductive Sirens,
All know the fatal songs
Dangerous and inhuman.
Don’t listen to those cursed birds
But Paradisial Angels’ words.


The Sirens

Do I know where your ennui’s from, Sirens,
When you grieve so widely under the stars?
Sea, I am like you, filled with broken voices,
And my ships, singing, give a name to the years.


The Dove

Dove, both love and spirit
Who engendered Jesus Christ,
Like you I love a Mary.
And so with her I marry.


The Peacock

In spreading out his fan, this bird,
Whose plumage drags on earth, I fear,
Appears more lovely than before,
But makes his derrière appear.


The Owl

My poor heart’s an owl
One woos, un-woos, re-woos.
Of blood, of ardour, he’s the fowl.
I praise those who love me, too.


Ibis

Yes, I’ll pass fearful shadows
O certain death, let it be so!
Latin mortal dreadful word,
Ibis, Nile’s native bird.


The Ox

This cherubim sings the praises
Of Paradise where, with Angels,
We’ll live once more, dear friends,
When the good God intends.

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The Angel In The House. Book I. Canto I.

Preludes.

I The Impossibility
Lo, Love's obey'd by all. 'Tis right
That all should know what they obey,
Lest erring conscience damp delight,
And folly laugh our joys away.
Thou Primal Love, who grantest wings
And voices to the woodland birds,
Grant me the power of saying things
Too simple and too sweet for words!

II Love's Reality
I walk, I trust, with open eyes;
I've travell'd half my worldly course;
And in the way behind me lies
Much vanity and some remorse;
I've lived to feel how pride may part
Spirits, tho' match'd like hand and glove;
I've blush'd for love's abode, the heart;
But have not disbelieved in love;
Nor unto love, sole mortal thing
Of worth immortal, done the wrong
To count it, with the rest that sing,
Unworthy of a serious song;
And love is my reward; for now,
When most of dead'ning time complain,
The myrtle blooms upon my brow,
Its odour quickens all my brain.

III The Poet's Confidence
The richest realm of all the earth
Is counted still a heathen land:
Lo, I, like Joshua, now go forth
To give it into Israel's hand.
I will not hearken blame or praise;
For so should I dishonour do
To that sweet Power by which these Lays
Alone are lovely, good, and true;
Nor credence to the world's cries give,
Which ever preach and still prevent
Pure passion's high prerogative
To make, not follow, precedent.
From love's abysmal ether rare
If I to men have here made known
New truths, they, like new stars, were there
Before, though not yet written down.
Moving but as the feelings move,
I run, or loiter with delight,
Or pause to mark where gentle Love
Persuades the soul from height to height,
Yet, know ye, though my words are gay
As David's dance, which Michal scorn'd,
If kindly you receive the Lay,
You shall be sweetly help'd and warn'd.


The Cathedral Close.

I
Once more I came to Sarum Close,
With joy half memory, half desire,
And breathed the sunny wind that rose
And blew the shadows o'er the Spire,
And toss'd the lilac's scented plumes,
And sway'd the chestnut's thousand cones,
And fill'd my nostrils with perfumes,
And shaped the clouds in waifs and zones,
And wafted down the serious strain
Of Sarum bells, when, true to time,
I reach'd the Dean's, with heart and brain
That trembled to the trembling chime.

II
'Twas half my home, six years ago.
The six years had not alter'd it:
Red-brick and ashlar, long and low,
With dormers and with oriels lit.
Geranium, lychnis, rose array'd
The windows, all wide open thrown;
And some one in the Study play'd
The Wedding-March of Mendelssohn.
And there it was I last took leave:
'Twas Christmas: I remember'd now
The cruel girls, who feign'd to grieve,
Took down the evergreens; and how
The holly into blazes woke
The fire, lighting the large, low room
A dim, rich lustre of old oak
And crimson velvet's glowing gloom.


III
No change had touch'd Dean Churchill: kind,
By widowhood more than winters bent,
And settled in a cheerful mind,
As still forecasting heaven's content.
Well might his thoughts be fix'd on high,
Now she was there! Within her face
Humility and dignity
Were met in a most sweet embrace.
She seem'd expressly sent below
To teach our erring minds to see
The rhythmic change of time's swift flow
As part of still eternity.
Her life, all honour, observed, with awe
Which cross experience could not mar,
The fiction of the Christian law
That all men honourable are;
And so her smile at once conferr'd
High flattery and benign reproof;
And I, a rude boy, strangely stirr'd,
Grew courtly in my own behoof.
The years, so far from doing her wrong,
Anointed her with gracious balm,
And made her brows more and more young
With wreaths of amaranth and palm.

IV
Was this her eldest, Honor; prude,
Who would not let me pull the swing;
Who, kiss'd at Christmas, call'd me rude,
And, sobbing low, refused to sing?
How changed! In shape no slender Grace,
But Venus; milder than the dove;
Her mother's air; her Norman face;
Her large sweet eyes, clear lakes of love.
Mary I knew. In former time
Ailing and pale, she thought that bliss
Was only for a better clime,
And, heavenly overmuch, scorn'd this.
I, rash with theories of the right,
Which stretch'd the tether of my Creed,
But did not break it, held delight
Half discipline. We disagreed.
She told the Dean I wanted grace.
Now she was kindest of the three,
And soft wild roses deck'd her face.
And, what, was this my Mildred, she
To herself and all a sweet surprise?
My Pet, who romp'd and roll'd a hoop?
I wonder'd where those daisy eyes
Had found their touching curve and droop.

V
Unmannerly times! But now we sat
Stranger than strangers; till I caught
And answer'd Mildred's smile; and that
Spread to the rest, and freedom brought.
The Dean talk'd little, looking on,
Of three such daughters justly vain.
What letters they had had from Bonn,
Said Mildred, and what plums from Spain!
By Honor I was kindly task'd
To excuse my never coming down
From Cambridge; Mary smiled and ask'd
Were Kant and Goethe yet outgrown?
And, pleased, we talk'd the old days o'er;
And, parting, I for pleasure sigh'd.
To be there as a friend, (since more),
Seem'd then, seems still, excuse for pride;
For something that abode endued
With temple-like repose, an air
Of life's kind purposes pursued
With order'd freedom sweet and fair.
A tent pitch'd in a world not right
It seem'd, whose inmates, every one,
On tranquil faces bore the light
Of duties beautifully done,
And humbly, though they had few peers,
Kept their own laws, which seem'd to be
The fair sum of six thousand years'
Traditions of civility.

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Epipsychidion: Passages Of The Poem, Or Connected Therewith

Here, my dear friend, is a new book for you;
I have already dedicated two
To other friends, one female and one male,--
What you are, is a thing that I must veil;
What can this be to those who praise or rail?
I never was attached to that great sect
Whose doctrine is that each one should select
Out of the world a mistress or a friend,
And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend
To cold oblivion-though 'tis in the code
Of modern morals, and the beaten road
Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread
Who travel to their home among the dead
By the broad highway of the world-and so
With one sad friend, and many a jealous foe,
The dreariest and the longest journey go.


Free love has this, different from gold and clay,
That to divide is not to take away.
Like ocean, which the general north wind breaks
Into ten thousand waves, and each one makes
A mirror of the moon -- like some great glass,
Which did distort whatever form might pass,
Dashed into fragments by a playful child,
Which then reflects its eyes and forehead mild;
Giving for one, which it could ne'er express,
A thousand images of loveliness.


If I were one whom the loud world held wise,
I should disdain to quote authorities
In commendation of this kind of love:--
Why there is first the God in heaven above,
Who wrote a book called Nature, 'tis to be
Reviewed, I hear, in the next Quarterly;
And Socrates, the Jesus Christ of Greece,
And Jesus Christ Himself, did never cease
To urge all living things to love each other,
And to forgive their mutual faults, and smother
The Devil of disunion in their souls.


. . .

I love you!-- Listen, O embodied Ray
Of the great Brightness; I must pass away
While you remain, and these light words must be
Tokens by which you may remember me.
Start not-the thing you are is unbetrayed,
If you are human, and if but the shade
Of some sublimer spirit . . .


. . .

And as to friend or mistress, 'tis a form;
Perhaps I wish you were one. Some declare
You a familiar spirit, as you are;
Others with a . . . more inhuman
Hint that, though not my wife, you are a woman;
What is the colour of your eyes and hair?
Why, if you were a lady, it were fair
The world should know-but, as I am afraid,
The Quarterly would bait you if betrayed;
And if, as it will be sport to see them stumble
Over all sorts of scandals, hear them mumble
Their litany of curses-some guess right,
And others swear you're a Hermaphrodite;
Like that sweet marble monster of both sexes,
Which looks so sweet and gentle that it vexes
The very soul that the soul is gone
Which lifted from her limbs the veil of stone.


. . .

It is a sweet thing, friendship, a dear balm,
A happy and auspicious bird of calm,
Which rides o'er life's ever tumultuous Ocean;
A God that broods o'er chaos in commotion;
A flower which fresh as Lapland roses are,
Lifts its bold head into the world's frore air,
And blooms most radiantly when others die,
Health, hope, and youth, and brief prosperity;
And with the light and odour of its bloom,
Shining within the dungeon and the tomb;
Whose coming is as light and music are
'Mid dissonance and gloom -- a star
Which moves not 'mid the moving heavens alone--
A smile among dark frowns-a gentle tone
Among rude voices, a belovèd light,
A solitude, a refuge, a delight.
If I had but a friend! Why, I have three
Even by my own confession; there may be
Some more, for what I know, for 'tis my mind
To call my friends all who are wise and kind,--
And these, Heaven knows, at best are very few;
But none can ever be more dear than you.
Why should they be? My muse has lost her wings,
Or like a dying swan who soars and sings,
I should describe you in heroic style,
But as it is, are you not void of guile?
A lovely soul, formed to be blessed and bless:
A well of sealed and secret happiness;
A lute which those whom Love has taught to play
Make music on to cheer the roughest day,
And enchant sadness till it sleeps? . . .


. . .

To the oblivion whither I and thou,
All loving and all lovely, hasten now
With steps, ah, too unequal! may we meet
In one Elysium or one winding-sheet!


If any should be curious to discover
Whether to you I am a friend or lover,
Let them read Shakespeare's sonnets, taking thence
A whetstone for their dull intelligence
That tears and will not cut, or let them guess
How Diotima, the wise prophetess,
Instructed the instructor, and why he
Rebuked the infant spirit of melody
On Agathon's sweet lips, which as he spoke
Was as the lovely star when morn has broke
The roof of darkness, in the golden dawn,
Half-hidden, and yet beautiful.


I'll pawn
My hopes of Heaven-you know what they are worth--
That the presumptuous pedagogues of Earth,
If they could tell the riddle offered here
Would scorn to be, or being to appear
What now they seem and are -- but let them chide,
They have few pleasures in the world beside;
Perhaps we should be dull were we not chidden,
Paradise fruits are sweetest when forbidden.
Folly can season Wisdom, Hatred Love.


. . .

Farewell, if it can be to say farewell
To those who . . .


. . .

I will not, as most dedicators do,
Assure myself and all the world and you,
That you are faultless -- would to God they were
Who taunt me with your love! I then should wear
These heavy chains of life with a light spirit,
And would to God I were, or even as near it
As you, dear heart. Alas! what are we? Clouds
Driven by the wind in warring multitudes,
Which rain into the bosom of the earth,
And rise again, and in our death and birth,
And through our restless life, take as from heaven
Hues which are not our own, but which are given,
And then withdrawn, and with inconstant glance
Flash from the spirit to the countenance.
There is a Power, a Love, a Joy, a God
Which makes in mortal hearts its brief abode,
A Pythian exhalation, which inspires
Love, only love -- a wind which o'er the wires
Of the soul's giant harp
There is a mood which language faints beneath;
You feel it striding, as Almighty Death
His bloodless steed . . .


. . .

And what is that most brief and bright delight
Which rushes through the touch and through the sight,
And stands before the spirit's inmost throne,
A naked Seraph? None hath ever known.
Its birth is darkness, and its growth desire;
Untameable and fleet and fierce as fire,
Not to be touched but to be felt alone,
It fills the world with glory -- and is gone.


. . .

It floats with rainbow pinions o'er the stream
Of life, which flows, like a . . . dream
Into the light of morning, to the grave
As to an ocean . . .


. . .

What is that joy which serene infancy
Perceives not, as the hours content them by,
Each in a chain of blossoms, yet enjoys
The shapes of this new world, in giant toys
Wrought by the busy . . . ever new?
Remembrance borrows Fancy's glass, to show
These forms more . . . sincere
Than now they are, than then, perhaps, they were.
When everything familiar seemed to be
Wonderful, and the immortality
Of this great world, which all things must inherit,
Was felt as one with the awakening spirit,
Unconscious of itself, and of the strange
Distinctions which in its proceeding change
It feels and knows, and mourns as if each were
A desolation . . .


. . .

Were it not a sweet refuge, Emily,
For all those exiles from the dull insane
Who vex this pleasant world with pride and pain,
For all that band of sister-spirits known
To one another by a voiceless tone?


. . .

If day should part us night will mend division
And if sleep parts us -- we will meet in vision
And if life parts us -- we will mix in death
Yielding our mite [?] of unreluctant breath
Death cannot part us -- we must meet again
In all in nothing in delight in pain:
How, why or when or where-it matters not
So that we share an undivided lot . . .


. . .

And we will move possessing and possessed
Wherever beauty on the earth's bare [?] breast
Lies like the shadow of thy soul -- till we
Become one being with the world we see . . .

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The American Way

1
I am a great American
I am almost nationalistic about it!
I love America like a madness!
But I am afraid to return to America
I'm even afraid to go into the American Express—


2
They are frankensteining Christ in America
in their Sunday campaigns
They are putting the fear of Christ in America
under their tents in their Sunday campaigns
They are driving old ladies mad with Christ in America
They are televising the gift of healing and the fear of hell
in America under their tents in their Sunday
campaigns
They are leaving their tents and are bringing their Christ
to the stadiums of America in their Sunday
campaigns
They are asking for a full house an all get out
for their Christ in the stadiums of America
They are getting them in their Sunday and Saturday
campaigns
They are asking them to come forward and fall on their
knees
because they are all guilty and they are coming
forward
in guilt and are falling on their knees weeping their
guilt
begging to be saved O Lord O Lord in their Monday
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
and Sunday campaigns

3
It is a time in which no man is extremely wondrous
It is a time in which rock stupidity
outsteps the 5th Column as the sole enemy in America
It is a time in which ignorance is a good Ameri-cun
ignorance is excused only where it is so
it is not so in America
Man is not guilty Christ is not to be feared
I am telling you the American Way is a hideous monster
eating Christ making Him into Oreos and Dr. Pepper
the sacrament of its foul mouth
I am telling you the devil is impersonating Christ in America
America's educators & preachers are the mental-dictators
of false intelligence they will not allow America
to be smart
they will only allow death to make America smart
Educators & communicators are the lackeys of the
American Way
They enslave the minds of the young
and the young are willing slaves (but not for long)
because who is to doubt the American Way
is not the way?


The duty of these educators is no different
than the duty of a factory foreman
Replica production make all the young think alike
dress alike believe alike do alike
Togetherness this is the American Way
The few great educators in America are weak & helpless
They abide and so uphold the American Way
Wars have seen such men they who despised things about them
but did nothing and they are the most dangerous
Dangerous because their intelligence is not denied
and so give faith to the young
who rightfully believe in their intelligence
Smoke this cigarette doctors smoke this cigarette
and doctors know
Educators know but they dare not speak their know
The victory that is man is made sad in this fix
Youth can only know the victory of being born
all else is stemmed until death be the final victory
and a merciful one at that
If America falls it will be the blame of its educators
preachers communicators alike
America today is America's greatest threat
We are old when we are young
America is always new the world is always new
The meaning of the world is birth not death
Growth gone in the wrong direction
The true direction grows ever young
In this direction what grows grows old
A strange mistake a strange and sad mistake
for it has grown into an old thing
while all else around it is new
Rockets will not make it any younger—
And what made America decide to grow?
I do not know I can only hold it to the strangeness in man
And America has grown into the American Way—
To be young is to be ever purposeful limitless
To grow is to know limit purposelessness
Each age is a new age
How outrageous it is that something old and sad
from the pre-age incorporates each new age—
Do I say the Declaration of Independence is old?
Yes I say what was good for 1789 is not good for 1960
It was right and new to say all men were created equal
because it was a light then
But today it is tragic to say it
today it should be fact—
Man has been on earth a long time
One would think with his mania for growth
he would, by now, have outgrown such things as
constitutions manifestos codes commandments
that he could well live in the world without them
and know instinctively how to live and be
—for what is being but the facility to love?


Was not that the true goal of growth, love?
Was not that Christ?
But man is strange and grows where he will
and chalks it all up to Fate whatever be—
America rings with such strangeness
It has grown into something strange and
the American is good example of this mad growth
The boy man big baby meat
as though the womb were turned backwards
giving birth to an old man
The victory that is man does not allow man
to top off his empirical achievement with death
The Aztecs did it by yanking out young hearts
at the height of their power
The Americans are doing it by feeding their young to the
Way
For it was not the Spaniard who killed the Aztec
but the Aztec who killed the Aztec
Rome is proof Greece is proof all history is proof
Victory does not allow degeneracy
It will not be the Communists will kill America
no but America itself—
The American Way that sad mad process
is not run by any one man or organization
It is a monster born of itself existing of its self
The men who are employed by this monster
are employed unknowingly
They reside in the higher echelons of intelligence
They are the educators the psychiatrists the ministers
the writers the politicians the communicators
the rich the entertainment world
And some follow and sing the Way because they sincerely
believe it to be good
And some believe it holy and become minutemen in it
Some are in it simply to be in
And most are in it for gold
They do not see the Way as monster
They see it as the 'Good Life'
What is the Way?
The Way was born out of the American Dream a
nightmare—
The state of Americans today compared to the Americans
of the 18th century proves the nightmare—
Not Franklin not Jefferson who speaks for America today
but strange red-necked men of industry
and the goofs of show business
Bizarre! Frightening! The Mickey Mouse sits on the throne
and Hollywood has a vast supply—
Could grammar school youth seriously look upon
a picture of George Washington and 'Herman Borst'
the famous night club comedian together at Valley
Forge?
Old old and decadent gone the dignity
the American sun seems headed for the grave
O that youth might raise it anewl
The future depends solely on the young
The future is the property of the young
What the young know the future will know
What they are and do the future will be and do
What has been done must not be done again
Will the American Way allow this?
No.
I see in every American Express
and in every army center in Europe
I see the same face the same sound of voice
the same clothes the same walk
I see mothers & fathers no
difference among them
Replicas
They not only speak and walk and think alike
they have the same facel
What did this monstrous thing?
What regiments a people so?

How strange is nature's play on America
Surely were Lincoln alive today
he could never be voted President not with his
looks—
Indeed Americans are babies all in the embrace
of Mama Way
Did not Ike, when he visited the American Embassy in
Paris a year ago, say to the staff—'Everything is fine, just drink
Coca Cola, and everything will be all right.'
This is true, and is on record
Did not American advertising call for TOGETHERNESS?
not orgiasticly like today's call
nor as means to stem violence
This is true, and is on record.
Are not the army centers in Europe ghettos?
They are, and O how sad how lost!
The PX newsstands are filled with comic books
The army movies are always Doris Day
What makes a people huddle so?
Why can't they be universal?
Who has smelled them so?
This is serious! I do not mock or hate this
I can only sense some mad vast conspiracy!
Helplessness is all it is!
They are caught caught in the Way—
And those who seek to get out of the Way
can not
The Beats are good example of this
They forsake the Way's habits
and acquire for themselves their own habits
And they become as distinct and regimented and lost
as the main flow
because the Way has many outlets
like a snake of many tentacles—
There is no getting out of the Way
The only way out is the death of the Way
And what will kill the Way but a new consciousness
Something great and new and wonderful must happen
to free man from this beast
It is a beast we can not see or even understand
For it be the condition of our minds
God how close to science fiction it all seemsl
As if some power from another planet
incorporated itself in the minds of us all
It could well bel
For as I live I swear America does not seem like America
to me

Americans are a great people
I ask for some great and wondrous event
that will free them from the Way
and make them a glorious purposeful people once
again
I do not know if that event is due deserved
or even possible
I can only hold that man is the victory of life
And I hold firm to American man

I see standing on the skin of the Way
America to be as proud and victorious as St.
Michael on the neck of the fallen Lucifer—

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Masque Of Pandora

THE WORKSHOP OF HEPHAESTUS

HEPHAESTUS (standing before the statue of Pandora.)
Not fashioned out of gold, like Hera's throne,
Nor forged of iron like the thunderbolts
Of Zeus omnipotent, or other works
Wrought by my hands at Lemnos or Olympus,
But moulded in soft clay, that unresisting
Yields itself to the touch, this lovely form
Before me stands, perfect in every part.
Not Aphrodite's self appeared more fair,
When first upwafted by caressing winds
She came to high Olympus, and the gods
Paid homage to her beauty. Thus her hair
Was cinctured; thus her floating drapery
Was like a cloud about her, and her face
Was radiant with the sunshine and the sea.

THE VOICE OF ZEUS.
Is thy work done, Hephaestus?

HEPHAESTUS.
It is finished!

THE VOICE.
Not finished till I breathe the breath of life
Into her nostrils, and she moves and speaks.

HEPHAESTUS.
Will she become immortal like ourselves?

THE VOICE.
The form that thou hast fashioned out of clay
Is of the earth and mortal; but the spirit,
The life, the exhalation of my breath,
Is of diviner essence and immortal.
The gods shall shower on her their benefactions,
She shall possess all gifts: the gift of song,
The gift of eloquence, the gift of beauty,
The fascination and the nameless charm
That shall lead all men captive.

HEPHAESTUS.
Wherefore? wherefore?

(A wind shakes the house.)

I hear the rushing of a mighty wind
Through all the halls and chambers of my house!
Her parted lips inhale it, and her bosom
Heaves with the inspiration. As a reed
Beside a river in the rippling current
Bends to and fro, she bows or lifts her head.
She gazes round about as if amazed;
She is alive; she breathes, but yet she speaks not!

(PANDORA descends from the pedestal.)

CHORUS OF THE GRACES

AGLAIA.
In the workshop of Hephaestus
What is this I see?
Have the Gods to four increased us
Who were only three?
Beautiful in form and feature,
Lovely as the day,
Can there be so fair a creature
Formed of common clay?

THALIA.
O sweet, pale face! O lovely eyes of azure,
Clear as the waters of a brook that run
Limpid and laughing in the summer sun!
O golden hair that like a miser's treasure
In its abundance overflows the measure!
O graceful form, that cloudlike floatest on
With the soft, undulating gait of one
Who moveth as if motion were a pleasure!
By what name shall I call thee? Nymph or Muse,
Callirrhoe or Urania? Some sweet name
Whose every syllable is a caress
Would best befit thee; but I cannot choose,
Nor do I care to choose; for still the same,
Nameless or named, will be thy loveliness.

EUPHROSYNE.
Dowered with all celestial gifts,
Skilled in every art
That ennobles and uplifts
And delights the heart,
Fair on earth shall be thy fame
As thy face is fair,
And Pandora be the name
Thou henceforth shalt bear.

II.

OLYMPUS

HERMES (putting on his sandals.)
Much must he toil who serves the Immortal Gods,
And I, who am their herald, most of all.
No rest have I, nor respite. I no sooner
Unclasp the winged sandals from my feet,
Than I again must clasp them, and depart
Upon some foolish errand. But to-day
The errand is not foolish. Never yet
With greater joy did I obey the summons
That sends me earthward. I will fly so swiftly
That my caduceus in the whistling air
Shall make a sound like the Pandaean pipes,
Cheating the shepherds; for to-day I go,
Commissioned by high-thundering Zeus, to lead
A maiden to Prometheus, in his tower,
And by my cunning arguments persuade him
To marry her. What mischief lies concealed
In this design I know not; but I know
Who thinks of marrying hath already taken
One step upon the road to penitence.
Such embassies delight me. Forth I launch
On the sustaining air, nor fear to fall
Like Icarus, nor swerve aside like him
Who drove amiss Hyperion's fiery steeds.
I sink, I fly! The yielding element
Folds itself round about me like an arm,
And holds me as a mother holds her child.

III.

TOWER OF PROMETHEUS ON MOUNT CAUCASUS

PROMETHEUS.
I hear the trumpet of Alectryon
Proclaim the dawn. The stars begin to fade,
And all the heavens are full of prophecies
And evil auguries. Blood-red last night
I saw great Kronos rise; the crescent moon
Sank through the mist, as if it were the scythe
His parricidal hand had flung far down
The western steeps. O ye Immortal Gods,
What evil are ye plotting and contriving?

(HERMES and PANDORA at the threshold.)

PANDORA.
I cannot cross the threshold. An unseen
And icy hand repels me. These blank walls
Oppress me with their weight!

PROMETHEUS.
Powerful ye are,
But not omnipotent. Ye cannot fight
Against Necessity. The Fates control you,
As they do us, and so far we are equals!

PANDORA.
Motionless, passionless, companionless,
He sits there muttering in his beard. His voice
Is like a river flowing underground!

HERMES.
Prometheus, hail!

PROMETHEUS.
Who calls me?

HERMES.
It is I.
Dost thou not know me?

PROMETHEUS.
By thy winged cap
And winged heels I know thee. Thou art Hermes,
Captain of thieves! Hast thou again been stealing
The heifers of Admetus in the sweet
Meadows of asphodel? or Hera's girdle?
Or the earth-shaking trident of Poseidon?

HERMES.
And thou, Prometheus; say, hast thou again
Been stealing fire from Helios' chariot-wheels
To light thy furnaces?

PROMETHEUS.
Why comest thou hither
So early in the dawn?

HERMES.
The Immortal Gods
Know naught of late or early. Zeus himself
The omnipotent hath sent me.

PROMETHEUS.
For what purpose?

HERMES.
To bring this maiden to thee.

PROMETHEUS.
I mistrust
The Gods and all their gifts. If they have sent her
It is for no good purpose.

HERMES.
What disaster
Could she bring on thy house, who is a woman?

PROMETHEUS.
The Gods are not my friends, nor am I theirs.
Whatever comes from them, though in a shape
As beautiful as this, is evil only.
Who art thou?

PANDORA.
One who, though to thee unknown,
Yet knoweth thee.

PROMETHEUS.
How shouldst thou know me, woman?

PANDORA.
Who knoweth not Prometheus the humane?

PROMETHEUS.
Prometheus the unfortunate; to whom
Both Gods and men have shown themselves ungrateful.
When every spark was quenched on every hearth
Throughout the earth, I brought to man the fire
And all its ministrations. My reward
Hath been the rock and vulture.

HERMES.
But the Gods
At last relent and pardon.

PROMETHEUS.
They relent not;
They pardon not; they are implacable,
Revengeful, unforgiving!

HERMES.
As a pledge
Of reconciliation they have sent to thee
This divine being, to be thy companion,
And bring into thy melancholy house
The sunshine and the fragrance of her youth.

PROMETHEUS.
I need them not. I have within myself
All that my heart desires; the ideal beauty
Which the creative faculty of mind
Fashions and follows in a thousand shapes
More lovely than the real. My own thoughts
Are my companions; my designs and labors
And aspirations are my only friends.

HERMES.
Decide not rashly. The decision made
Can never be recalled. The Gods implore not,
Plead not, solicit not; they only offer
Choice and occasion, which once being passed
Return no more. Dost thou accept the gift?

PROMETHEUS.
No gift of theirs, in whatsoever shape
It comes to me, with whatsoever charm
To fascinate my sense, will I receive.
Leave me.

PANDORA.
Let us go hence. I will not stay.

HERMES.
We leave thee to thy vacant dreams, and all
The silence and the solitude of thought,
The endless bitterness of unbelief,
The loneliness of existence without love.

CHORUS OF THE FATES

CLOTHO.
How the Titan, the defiant,
The self-centred, self-reliant,
Wrapped in visions and illusions,
Robs himself of life's best gifts!
Till by all the storm-winds shaken,
By the blast of fate o'ertaken,
Hopeless, helpless, and forsaken,
In the mists of his confusions
To the reefs of doom he drifts!

LACHESIS.
Sorely tried and sorely tempted,
From no agonies exempted,
In the penance of his trial,
And the discipline of pain;
Often by illusions cheated,
Often baffled and defeated
In the tasks to be completed,
He, by toil and self-denial,
To the highest shall attain.


ATROPOS.
Tempt no more the noble schemer;
Bear unto some idle dreamer
This new toy and fascination,
This new dalliance and delight!
To the garden where reposes
Epimetheus crowned with roses,
To the door that never closes
Upon pleasure and temptation,
Bring this vision of the night!

IV.

THE AIR

HERMES (returning to Olympus.)
As lonely as the tower that he inhabits,
As firm and cold as are the crags about him,
Prometheus stands. The thunderbolts of Zeus
Alone can move him; but the tender heart
Of Epimetheus, burning at white heat,
Hammers and flames like all his brother's forges!
Now as an arrow from Hyperion's bow,
My errand done, I fly, I float, I soar
Into the air, returning to Olympus.
O joy of motion! O delight to cleave
The infinite realms of space, the liquid ether,
Through the warm sunshine and the cooling cloud,
Myself as light as sunbeam or as cloud!
With one touch of my swift and winged feet,
I spurn the solid earth, and leave it rocking
As rocks the bough from which a bird takes wing.

V.

THE HOUSE OF EPIMETHEUS

EPIMETHEUS.
Beautiful apparition! go not hence!
Surely thou art a Goddess, for thy voice
Is a celestial melody, and thy form
Self-poised as if it floated on the air!

PANDORA.
No Goddess am I, nor of heavenly birth,
But a mere woman fashioned out of clay
And mortal as the rest.

EPIMETHEUS.
Thy face is fair;
There is a wonder in thine azure eyes
That fascinates me. Thy whole presence seems
A soft desire, a breathing thought of love.
Say, would thy star like Merope's grow dim
If thou shouldst wed beneath thee?

PANDORA.
Ask me not;
I cannot answer thee. I only know
The Gods have sent me hither.

EPIMETHEUS.
I believe,
And thus believing am most fortunate.
It was not Hermes led thee here, but Eros,
And swifter than his arrows were thine eves
In wounding me. There was no moment's space
Between my seeing thee and loving thee.
O, what a telltale face thou hast! Again
I see the wonder in thy tender eyes.

PANDORA.
They do but answer to the love in thine,
Yet secretly I wonder thou shouldst love me.
Thou knowest me not.

EPIMETHEUS.
Perhaps I know thee better
Than had I known thee longer. Yet it seems
That I have always known thee, and but now
Have found thee. Ah, I have been waiting long.

PANDORA.
How beautiful is this house! The atmosphere
Breathes rest and comfort, and the many chambers
Seem full of welcomes.

EPIMETHEUS.
They not only seem,
But truly are. This dwelling and its master
Belong to thee.

PANDORA.
Here let me stay forever!
There is a spell upon me.

EPIMETHEUS.
Thou thyself
Art the enchantress, and I feel thy power
Envelop me, and wrap my soul and sense
In an Elysian dream.

PANDORA.
O, let me stay.
How beautiful are all things round about me,
Multiplied by the mirrors on the walls!
What treasures hast thou here! Yon oaken chest,
Carven with figures and embossed with gold,
Is wonderful to look upon! What choice
And precious things dost thou keep hidden in it?

EPIMETHEUS.
I know not. 'T is a mystery.

PANDORA.
Hast thou never
Lifted the lid?

EPIMETHEUS.
The oracle forbids.
Safely concealed there from all mortal eyes
Forever sleeps the secret of the Gods.
Seek not to know what they have hidden from thee,
Till they themselves reveal it.

PANDORA.
As thou wilt.

EPIMETHEUS.
Let us go forth from this mysterious place.
The garden walks are pleasant at this hour;
The nightingales among the sheltering boughs
Of populous and many-nested trees
Shall teach me how to woo thee, and shall tell me
By what resistless charms or incantations
They won their mates.

PANDORA.
Thou dost not need a teacher.

(They go out.)

CHORUS OF THE EUMENIDES.
What the Immortals
Confide to thy keeping,
Tell unto no man;
Waking or sleeping,
Closed be thy portals
To friend as to foeman.

Silence conceals it;
The word that is spoken
Betrays and reveals it;
By breath or by token
The charm may be broken.

With shafts of their splendors
The Gods unforgiving
Pursue the offenders,
The dead and the living!
Fortune forsakes them,
Nor earth shall abide them,
Nor Tartarus hide them;
Swift wrath overtakes them!

With useless endeavor,
Forever, forever,
Is Sisyphus rolling
His stone up the mountain!
Immersed in the fountain,
Tantalus tastes not
The water that wastes not!
Through ages increasing
The pangs that afflict him,
With motion unceasing
The wheel of Ixion
Shall torture its victim!

VI.

IN THE GARDEN

EPIMETHEUS.
Yon snow-white cloud that sails sublime in ether
Is but the sovereign Zeus, who like a swan
Flies to fair-ankled Leda!

PANDORA.
Or perchance
Ixion's cloud, the shadowy shape of Hera,
That bore the Centaurs.

EPIMETHEUS.
The divine and human.

CHORUS OF BIRDS.
Gently swaying to and fro,
Rocked by all the winds that blow,
Bright with sunshine from above
Dark with shadow from below,
Beak to beak and breast to breast
In the cradle of their nest,
Lie the fledglings of our love.

ECHO.
Love! love!

EPIMETHEUS.
Hark! listen! Hear how sweetly overhead
The feathered flute-players pipe their songs of love,
And echo answers, love and only love.

CHORUS OF BIRDS.
Every flutter of the wing,
Every note of song we sing,
Every murmur, every tone,
Is of love and love alone.

ECHO.
Love alone!

EPIMETHEUS.
Who would not love, if loving she might be
Changed like Callisto to a star in heaven?

PANDORA.
Ah, who would love, if loving she might be
Like Semele consumed and burnt to ashes?

EPIMETHEUS.
Whence knowest thou these stories?

PANDORA.
Hermes taught me;
He told me all the history of the Gods.

CHORUS OF REEDS.
Evermore a sound shall be
In the reeds of Arcady,
Evermore a low lament
Of unrest and discontent,
As the story is retold
Of the nymph so coy and cold,
Who with frightened feet outran
The pursuing steps of Pan.

EPIMETHEUS.
The pipe of Pan out of these reeds is made,
And when he plays upon it to the shepherds
They pity him, so mournful is the sound.
Be thou not coy and cold as Syrinx was.

PANDORA.
Nor thou as Pan be rude and mannerless.

PROMETHEUS (without).
Ho! Epimetheus!

EPIMETHEUS.
'T is my brother's voice;
A sound unwelcome and inopportune
As was the braying of Silenus' ass,
Once heard in Cybele's garden.

PANDORA.
Let me go.
I would not be found here. I would not see him.

(She escapes among the trees.)

CHORUS OF DRYADES.
Haste and hide thee,
Ere too late,
In these thickets intricate;
Lest Prometheus
See and chide thee,
Lest some hurt
Or harm betide thee,
Haste and hide thee!

PROMETHEUS (entering.)
Who was it fled from here? I saw a shape
Flitting among the trees.

EPIMETHEUS.
It was Pandora.

PROMETHEUS.
O Epimetheus! Is it then in vain
That I have warned thee? Let me now implore.
Thou harborest in thy house a dangerous guest.

EPIMETHEUS.
Whom the Gods love they honor with such guests.

PROMETHEUS.
Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.

EPIMETHEUS.
Shall I refuse the gifts they send to me?

PROMETHEUS.
Reject all gifts that come from higher powers.

EPIMETHEUS.
Such gifts as this are not to be rejected.

PROMETHEUS.
Make not thyself the slave of any woman.

EPIMETHEUS.
Make not thyself the judge of any man.

PROMETHEUS.
I judge thee not; for thou art more than man;
Thou art descended from Titanic race,
And hast a Titan's strength, and faculties
That make thee godlike; and thou sittest here
Like Heracles spinning Omphale's flax,
And beaten with her sandals.

EPIMETHEUS.
O my brother!
Thou drivest me to madness with thy taunts.

PROMETHEUS.
And me thou drivest to madness with thy follies.
Come with me to my tower on Caucasus:
See there my forges in the roaring caverns,
Beneficent to man, and taste the joy
That springs from labor. Read with me the stars,
And learn the virtues that lie hidden in plants,
And all things that are useful.

EPIMETHEUS.
O my brother!
I am not as thou art. Thou dost inherit
Our father's strength, and I our mother's weakness:
The softness of the Oceanides,
The yielding nature that cannot resist.

PROMETHEUS.
Because thou wilt not.

EPIMETHEUS.
Nay; because I cannot.

PROMETHEUS.
Assert thyself; rise up to thy full height;
Shake from thy soul these dreams effeminate,
These passions born of indolence and ease.
Resolve, and thou art free. But breathe the air
Of mountains, and their unapproachable summits
Will lift thee to the level of themselves.

EPIMETHEUS.
The roar of forests and of waterfalls,
The rushing of a mighty wind, with loud
And undistinguishable voices calling,
Are in my ear!

PROMETHEUS.
O, listen and obey.

EPIMETHEUS.
Thou leadest me as a child, I follow thee.

(They go out.)

CHORUS OF OREADES.
Centuries old are the monntains;
Their foreheads wrinkled and rifted
Helios crowns by day,
Pallid Selene by night;
From their bosoms uptossed
The snows are driven and drifted,
Like Tithonus' beard
Streaming dishevelled and white.

Thunder and tempest of wind
Their trumpets blow in the vastness;
Phantoms of mist and rain,
Cloud and the shadow of cloud,
Pass and repass by the gates
Of their inaccessible fastness;
Ever unmoved they stand,
Solemn, eternal, and proud,

VOICES OF THE WATERS.
Flooded by rain and snow
In their inexhaustible sources,
Swollen by affluent streams
Hurrying onward and hurled
Headlong over the crags,
The impetuous water-courses,
Rush and roar and plunge
Down to the nethermost world.

Say, have the solid rocks
Into streams of silver been melted,
Flowing over the plains,
Spreading to lakes in the fields?
Or have the mountains, the giants,
The ice-helmed, the forest-belted,
Scattered their arms abroad;
Flung in the meadows their shields?

VOICES OF THE WINDS.
High on their turreted cliffs
That bolts of thunder have shattered,
Storm-winds muster and blow
Trumpets of terrible breath;
Then from the gateways rush,
And before them routed and scattered
Sullen the cloud-rack flies,
Pale with the pallor of death.

Onward the hurricane rides,
And flee for shelter the shepherds;
White are the frightened leaves,
Harvests with terror are white;
Panic seizes the herds,
And even the lions and leopards,
Prowling no longer for prey,
Crouch in their caverns with fright.

VOICES OF THE FOREST.
Guarding the mountains around
Majestic the forests are standing,
Bright are their crested helms,
Dark is their armor of leaves;
Filled with the breath of freedom
Each bosom subsiding, expanding,
Now like the ocean sinks,
Now like the ocean upheaves.

Planted firm on the rock,
With foreheads stern and defiant,
Loud they shout to the winds,
Loud to the tempest they call;
Naught but Olympian thunders,
That blasted Titan and Giant,
Them can uproot and o'erthrow,
Shaking the earth with their fall.

CHORUS OF OREADES.
These are the Voices Three
Of winds and forests and fountains,
Voices of earth and of air,
Murmur and rushing of streams,
Making together one sound,
The mysterious voice of the mountains,
Waking the sluggard that sleeps,
Waking the dreamer of dreams.

These are the Voices Three,
That speak of endless endeavor,
Speak of endurance and strength,
Triumph and fulness of fame,
Sounding about the world,
An inspiration forever,
Stirring the hearts of men,
Shaping their end and their aim.

VII.

THE HOUSE OF EPIMETHEUS

PANDORA.
Left to myself I wander as I will,
And as my fancy leads me, through this house,
Nor could I ask a dwelling more complete
Were I indeed the Goddess that he deems me.
No mansion of Olympus, framed to be
The habitation of the Immortal Gods,
Can be more beautiful. And this is mine
And more than this, the love wherewith he crowns me.
As if impelled by powers invisible
And irresistible, my steps return
Unto this spacious hall. All corridors
And passages lead hither, and all doors
But open into it. Yon mysterious chest
Attracts and fascinates me. Would I knew
What there lies hidden! But the oracle
Forbids. Ah me! The secret then is safe.
So would it be if it were in my keeping.
A crowd of shadowy faces from the mirrors
That line these walls are watching me. I dare not
Lift up the lid. A hundred times the act
Would be repeated, and the secret seen
By twice a hundred incorporeal eyes.

(She walks to the other side of the hall.)

My feet are weary, wandering to and fro,
My eyes with seeing and my heart with waiting.
I will lie here and rest till he returns,
Who is my dawn, my day, my Helios.

(Throws herself upon a couch, and falls asleep.)

ZEPHYRUS.
Come from thy caverns dark and deep.
O son of Erebus and Night;
All sense of hearing and of sight
Enfold in the serene delight
And quietude of sleep!

Set all the silent sentinels
To bar and guard the Ivory Gate,
And keep the evil dreams of fate
And falsehood and infernal hate
Imprisoned in their cells.

But open wide the Gate of Horn,
Whence, beautiful as planets, rise
The dreams of truth, with starry eyes,
And all the wondrous prophecies
And visions of the morn.

CHORUS OF DREAMS FROM THE IVORY GATE.
Ye sentinels of sleep,
It is in vain ye keep
Your drowsy watch before the Ivory Gate;
Though closed the portal seems,
The airy feet of dreams
Ye cannot thus in walls incarcerate.

We phantoms are and dreams
Born by Tartarean streams,
As ministers of the infernal powers;
O son of Erebus
And Night, behold! we thus
Elude your watchful warders on the towers!

From gloomy Tartarus
The Fates have summoned us
To whisper in her ear, who lies asleep,
A tale to fan the fire
Of her insane desire
To know a secret that the Gods would keep.

This passion, in their ire,
The Gods themselves inspire,
To vex mankind with evils manifold,
So that disease and pain
O'er the whole earth may reign,
And nevermore return the Age of Gold.

PANDORA (waking).
A voice said in my sleep: 'Do not delay:
Do not delay; the golden moments fly!
The oracle hath forbidden; yet not thee
Doth it forbid, but Epimetheus only!'
I am alone. These faces in the mirrors
Are but the shadows and phantoms of myself;
They cannot help nor hinder. No one sees me,
Save the all-seeing Gods, who, knowing good
And knowing evil, have created me
Such as I am, and filled me with desire
Of knowing good and evil like themselves.

(She approaches the chest.)

I hesitate no longer. Weal or woe,
Or life or death, the moment shall decide.

(She lifts the lid. A dense mist rises from
the chest, and fills the room. PANDORA
falls senseless on the floor. Storm without.)

CHORUS OF DREAMS FROM THE GATE OF HORN.
Yes, the moment shall decide!
It already hath decided;
And the secret once confided
To the keeping of the Titan
Now is flying far and wide,
Whispered, told on every side,
To disquiet and to frighten.

Fever of the heart and brain,
Sorrow, pestilence, and pain,
Moans of anguish, maniac laughter,
All the evils that hereafter
Shall afflict and vex mankind,
All into the air have risen
From the chambers of their prison;
Only Hope remains behind.

VIII.

IN THE GARDEN

EPIMETHEUS.
The storm is past, but it hath left behind it
Ruin and desolation. All the walks
Are strewn with shattered boughs; the birds are silent;
The flowers, downtrodden by the wind, lie dead;
The swollen rivulet sobs with secret pain,
The melancholy reeds whisper together
As if some dreadful deed had been committed
They dare not name, and all the air is heavy
With an unspoken sorrow! Premonitions,
Foreshadowings of some terrible disaster
Oppress my heart. Ye Gods, avert the omen!

PANDORA (coming from the house).
O Epimetheus, I no longer dare
To lift mine eyes to thine, nor hear thy voice,
Being no longer worthy of thy love.

EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
Forgive me not, but kill me.

EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
I pray for death, not pardon.

EPIMETHEUS.
What hast thou done?

PANDORA.
I dare not speak of it.

EPIMETHEUS.
Thy pallor and thy silence terrify me!

PANDORA.
I have brought wrath and ruin on thy house!
My heart hath braved the oracle that guarded
The fatal secret from us, and my hand
Lifted the lid of the mysterious chest!

EPIMETHEUS.
Then all is lost! I am indeed undone.

PANDORA.
I pray for punishment, and not for pardon.

EPIMETHEUS.
Mine is the fault not thine. On me shall fall
The vengeance of the Gods, for I betrayed
Their secret when, in evil hour, I said
It was a secret; when, in evil hour,
I left thee here alone to this temptation.
Why did I leave thee?

PANDORA.
Why didst thou return?
Eternal absence would have been to me
The greatest punishment. To be left alone
And face to face with my own crime, had been
Just retribution. Upon me, ye Gods,
Let all your vengeance fall!

EPIMETHEUS.
On thee and me.
I do not love thee less for what is done,
And cannot be undone. Thy very weakness
Hath brought thee nearer to me, and henceforth
My love will have a sense of pity in it,
Making it less a worship than before.

PANDORA.
Pity me not; pity is degradation.
Love me and kill me.

EPIMETHEUS.
Beautiful Pandora!
Thou art a Goddess still!

PANDORA.
I am a woman;
And the insurgent demon in my nature,
That made me brave the oracle, revolts
At pity and compassion. Let me die;
What else remains for me?

EPIMETHEUS.
Youth, hope, and love:
To build a new life on a ruined life,
To make the future fairer than the past,
And make the past appear a troubled dream.
Even now in passing through the garden walks
Upon the ground I saw a fallen nest
Ruined and full of rain; and over me
Beheld the uncomplaining birds already
Busy in building a new habitation.

PANDORA.
Auspicious omen!

EPIMETHEUS.
May the Eumenides
Put out their torches and behold us not,
And fling away their whips of scorpions
And touch us not.

PANDORA.
Me let them punish.
Only through punishment of our evil deeds,
Only through suffering, are we reconciled
To the immortal Gods and to ourselves.

CHORUS OF THE EUMENIDES.
Never shall souls like these
Escape the Eumenides,
The daughters dark of Acheron and Night!
Unquenched our torches glare,
Our scourges in the air
Send forth prophetic sounds before they smite.

Never by lapse of time
The soul defaced by crime
Into its former self returns again;
For every guilty deed
Holds in itself the seed
Of retribution and undying pain.

Never shall be the loss
Restored, till Helios
Hath purified them with his heavenly fires;
Then what was lost is won,
And the new life begun,
Kindled with nobler passions and desires.

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Avon's Harvest

Fear, like a living fire that only death
Might one day cool, had now in Avon’s eyes
Been witness for so long of an invasion
That made of a gay friend whom we had known
Almost a memory, wore no other name
As yet for us than fear. Another man
Than Avon might have given to us at least
A futile opportunity for words
We might regret. But Avon, since it happened,
Fed with his unrevealing reticence
The fire of death we saw that horribly
Consumed him while he crumbled and said nothing.

So many a time had I been on the edge,
And off again, of a foremeasured fall
Into the darkness and discomfiture
Of his oblique rebuff, that finally
My silence honored his, holding itself
Away from a gratuitous intrusion
That likely would have widened a new distance
Already wide enough, if not so new.
But there are seeming parallels in space
That may converge in time; and so it was
I walked with Avon, fought and pondered with him,
While he made out a case for So-and-so,
Or slaughtered Whats-his-name in his old way,
With a new difference. Nothing in Avon lately
Was, or was ever again to be for us,
Like him that we remembered; and all the while
We saw that fire at work within his eyes
And had no glimpse of what was burning there.

So for a year it went; and so it went
For half another year—when, all at once,
At someone’s tinkling afternoon at home
I saw that in the eyes of Avon’s wife
The fire that I had met the day before
In his had found another living fuel.
To look at her and then to think of him,
And thereupon to contemplate the fall
Of a dim curtain over the dark end
Of a dark play, required of me no more
Clairvoyance than a man who cannot swim
Will exercise in seeing that his friend
Off shore will drown except he save himself.
To her I could say nothing, and to him
No more than tallied with a long belief
That I should only have it back again
For my chagrin to ruminate upon,
Ingloriously, for the still time it starved;
And that would be for me as long a time
As I remembered Avon—who is yet
Not quite forgotten. On the other hand,
For saying nothing I might have with me always
An injured and recriminating ghost
Of a dead friend. The more I pondered it
The more I knew there was not much to lose,
Albeit for one whose delving hitherto
Had been a forage of his own affairs,
The quest, however golden the reward,
Was irksome—and as Avon suddenly
And soon was driven to let me see, was needless.
It seemed an age ago that we were there
One evening in the room that in the days
When they could laugh he called the Library.
“He calls it that, you understand,” she said,
“Because the dictionary always lives here.
He’s not a man of books, yet he can read,
And write. He learned it all at school.”—He smiled,
And answered with a fervor that rang then
Superfluous: “Had I learned a little more
At school, it might have been as well for me.”
And I remember now that he paused then,
Leaving a silence that one had to break.
But this was long ago, and there was now
No laughing in that house. We were alone
This time, and it was Avon’s time to talk.

I waited, and anon became aware
That I was looking less at Avon’s eyes
Than at the dictionary, like one asking
Already why we make so much of words
That have so little weight in the true balance.
“Your name is Resignation for an hour,”
He said; “and I’m a little sorry for you.
So be resigned. I shall not praise your work,
Or strive in any way to make you happy.
My purpose only is to make you know
How clearly I have known that you have known
There was a reason waited on your coming,
And, if its in me to see clear enough,
To fish the reason out of a black well
Where you see only a dim sort of glimmer
That has for you no light.”

I see the well,”
I said, “but there’s a doubt about the glimmer—
Say nothing of the light. I’m at your service;
And though you say that I shall not be happy,
I shall be if in some way I may serve.
To tell you fairly now that I know nothing
Is nothing more than fair.”—“You know as much
As any man alive—save only one man,
If he’s alive. Whether he lives or not
Is rather for time to answer than for me;
And that’s a reason, or a part of one,
For your appearance here. You do not know him,
And even if you should pass him in the street
He might go by without your feeling him
Between you and the world. I cannot say
Whether he would, but I suppose he might.”

And I suppose you might, if urged,” I said,
Say in what water it is that we are fishing.
You that have reasons hidden in a well,
Not mentioning all your nameless friends that walk
The streets and are not either dead or living
For company, are surely, one would say
To be forgiven if you may seem distraught—
I mean distrait. I don’t know what I mean.
I only know that I am at your service,
Always, yet with a special reservation
That you may deem eccentric. All the same
Unless your living dead man comes to life,
Or is less indiscriminately dead,
I shall go home.”

“No, you will not go home,”
Said Avon; “or I beg that you will not.”
So saying, he went slowly to the door
And turned the key. “Forgive me and my manners,
But I would be alone with you this evening.
The key, as you observe, is in the lock;
And you may sit between me and the door,
Or where you will. You have my word of honor
That I would spare you the least injury
That might attend your presence here this evening.”

I thank you for your soothing introduction,
Avon,” I said. “Go on. The Lord giveth,
The Lord taketh away. I trust myself
Always to you and to your courtesy.
Only remember that I cling somewhat
Affectionately to the old tradition.”—
I understand you and your part,” said Avon;
And I dare say its well enough, tonight,
We play around the circumstance a little.
I’ve read of men that half way to the stake
Would have their little joke. Its well enough;
Rather a waste of time, but well enough.”

I listened as I waited, and heard steps
Outside of one who paused and then went on;
And, having heard, I might as well have seen
The fear in his wife’s eyes. He gazed away,
As I could see, in helpless thought of her,
And said to me: “Well, then, it was like this.
Some tales will have a deal of going back .
In them before they are begun. But this one
Begins in the beginning—when he came.
I was a boy at school, sixteen years old,
And on my way, in all appearances,
To mark an even-tempered average
Among the major mediocrities
Who serve and earn with no especial noise
Or vast reward. I saw myself, even then,
A light for no high shining; and I feared
No boy or man—having, in truth, no cause.
I was enough a leader to be free,
And not enough a hero to be jealous.
Having eyes and ears, I knew that I was envied,
And as a proper sort of compensation
Had envy of my own for two or three—
But never felt, and surely never gave,
The wound of any more malevolence
Than decent youth, defeated for a day,
May take to bed with him and kill with sleep.
So, and so far, my days were going well,
And would have gone so, but for the black tiger
That many of us fancy is in waiting,
But waits for most of us in fancy only.
For me there was no fancy in his coming,
Though God knows I had never summoned him,
Or thought of him. To this day I’m adrift
And in the dark, out of all reckoning,
To find a reason why he ever was,
Or what was ailing Fate when he was born
On this alleged God-ordered earth of ours.
Now and again there comes one of his kind—
By chance, we say. I leave all that to you.
Whether it was an evil chance alone,
Or some invidious juggling of the stars,
Or some accrued arrears of ancestors
Who throve on debts that I was here to pay,
Or sins within me that I knew not of,
Or just a foretaste of what waits in hell
For those of us who cannot love a worm,—
Whatever it was, or whence or why it was,
One day there came a stranger to the school.
And having had one mordacious glimpse of him
That filled my eyes and was to fill my life,
I have known Peace only as one more word
Among the many others we say over
That have an airy credit of no meaning.
One of these days, if I were seeing many
To live, I might erect a cenotaph
To Job’s wife. I assume that you remember;
If you forget, she’s extant in your Bible.”

Now this was not the language of a man
Whom I had known as Avon, and I winced
Hearing it—though I knew that in my heart
There was no visitation of surprise.
Unwelcome as it was, and off the key
Calamitously, it overlived a silence
That was itself a story and affirmed
A savage emphasis of honesty
That I would only gladly have attuned
If possible, to vinous innovation.
But his indifferent wassailing was always
Too far within the measure of excess
For that; and then there were those eyes of his.
Avon indeed had kept his word with me,
And there was not much yet to make me happy.

So there we were,” he said, “we two together,
Breathing one air. And how shall I go on
To say by what machinery the slow net
Of my fantastic and increasing hate
Was ever woven as it was around us?
I cannot answer; and you need not ask
What undulating reptile he was like,
For such a worm as I discerned in him
Was never yet on earth or in the ocean,
Or anywhere else than in my sense of him.
Had all I made of him been tangible,
The Lord must have invented long ago
Some private and unspeakable new monster
Equipped for such a thing’s extermination;
Whereon the monster, seeing no other monster
Worth biting, would have died with his work done.
There’s a humiliation in it now,
As there was then, and worse than there was then;
For then there was the boy to shoulder it
Without the sickening weight of added years
Galling him to the grave. Beware of hate
That has no other boundary than the grave
Made for it, or for ourselves. Beware, I say;
And I’m a sorry one, I fear, to say it,
Though for the moment we may let that go
And while I’m interrupting my own story
I’ll ask of you the favor of a look
Into the street. I like it when its empty.
There’s only one man walking? Let him walk.
I wish to God that all men might walk always,
And so, being busy, love one another more.”

“Avon,” I said, now in my chair again,
“Although I may not be here to be happy,
If you are careless, I may have to laugh.
I have disliked a few men in my life,
But never to the scope of wishing them
To this particular pedestrian hell
Of your affection. I should not like that.
Forgive me, for this time it was your fault.”

He drummed with all his fingers on his chair,
And, after a made smile of acquiescence,
Took up again the theme of his aversion,
Which now had flown along with him alone
For twenty years, like Io’s evil insect,
To sting him when it would. The decencies
Forbade that I should look at him for ever,
Yet many a time I found myself ashamed
Of a long staring at him, and as often
Essayed the dictionary on the table,
Wondering if in its interior
There was an uncompanionable word
To say just what was creeping in my hair,
At which my scalp would shrink,—at which, again,
I would arouse myself with a vain scorn,
Remembering that all this was in New York—
As if that were somehow the banishing
For ever of all unseemly presences—
And listen to the story of my friend,
Who, as I feared, was not for me to save,
And, as I knew, knew also that I feared it.

“Humiliation,” he began again,
“May be or not the best of all bad names
I might employ; and if you scent remorse,
There may be growing such a flower as that
In the unsightly garden where I planted,
Not knowing the seed or what was coming of it.
I’ve done much wondering if I planted it;
But our poor wonder, when it comes too late,
Fights with a lath, and one that solid fact
Breaks while it yawns and looks another way
For a less negligible adversary.
Away with wonder, then; though I’m at odds
With conscience, even tonight, for good assurance
That it was I, or chance and I together,
Did all that sowing. If I seem to you
To be a little bitten by the question,
Without a miracle it might be true;
The miracle is to me that I’m not eaten
Long since to death of it, and that you sit
With nothing more agreeable than a ghost.
If you had thought a while of that, you might,
Unhappily, not have come; and your not coming
Would have been desolation—not for you,
God save the mark!—for I would have you here.
I shall not be alone with you to listen;
And I should be far less alone tonight
With you away, make what you will of that.

I said that we were going back to school,
And we may say that we are there—with him.
This fellow had no friend, and, as for that,
No sign of an apparent need of one,
Save always and alone—myself. He fixed
His heart and eyes on me, insufferably,—
And in a sort of Nemesis-like way,
Invincibly. Others who might have given
A welcome even to him, or I’ll suppose so
Adorning an unfortified assumption
With gold that might come off with afterthought—
Got never, if anything, more out of him
Than a word flung like refuse in their faces,
And rarely that. For God knows what good reason,
He lavished his whole altered arrogance
On me; and with an overweening skill,
Which had sometimes almost a cringing in it,
Found a few flaws in my tight mail of hate
And slowly pricked a poison into me
In which at first I failed at recognizing
An unfamiliar subtle sort of pity.
But so it was, and I believe he knew it;
Though even to dream it would have been absurd—
Until I knew it, and there was no need
Of dreaming. For the fellow’s indolence,
And his malignant oily swarthiness
Housing a reptile blood that I could see
Beneath it, like hereditary venom
Out of old human swamps, hardly revealed
Itself the proper spawning-ground of pity.
But so it was. Pity, or something like it,
Was in the poison of his proximity;
For nothing else that I have any name for
Could have invaded and so mastered me
With a slow tolerance that eventually
Assumed a blind ascendency of custom
That saw not even itself. When I came in,
Often I’d find him strewn along my couch
Like an amorphous lizard with its clothes on,
Reading a book and waiting for its dinner.
His clothes were always odiously in order,
Yet I should not have thought of him as clean—
Not even if he had washed himself to death
Proving it. There was nothing right about him.
Then he would search, never quite satisfied,
Though always in a measure confident,
My eyes to find a welcome waiting in them,
Unwilling, as I see him now, to know
That it would never be there. Looking back,
I am not sure that he would not have died
For me, if I were drowning or on fire,
Or that I would not rather have let myself
Die twice than owe the debt of my survival
To him, though he had lost not even his clothes.
No, there was nothing right about that fellow;
And after twenty years to think of him
I should be quite as helpless now to serve him
As I was then. I mean—without my story.
Be patient, and you’ll see just what I mean—
Which is to say, you won’t. But you can listen,
And that’s itself a large accomplishment
Uncrowned; and may be, at a time like this,
A mighty charity. It was in January
This evil genius came into our school,
And it was June when he went out of it
If I may say that he was wholly out
Of any place that I was in thereafter.
But he was not yet gone. When we are told
By Fate to bear what we may never bear,
Fate waits a little while to see what happens;
And this time it was only for the season
Between the swift midwinter holidays
And the long progress into weeks and months
Of all the days that followed—with him there
To make them longer. I would have given an eye,
Before the summer came, to know for certain
That I should never be condemned again
To see him with the other; and all the while
There was a battle going on within me
Of hate that fought remorse—if you must have it
Never to win,… never to win but once,
And having won, to lose disastrously,
And as it was to prove, interminably—
Or till an end of living may annul,
If so it be, the nameless obligation
That I have not the Christian revenue
In me to pay. A man who has no gold,
Or an equivalent, shall pay no gold
Until by chance or labor or contrivance
He makes it his to pay; and he that has
No kindlier commodity than hate,
Glossed with a pity that belies itself
In its negation and lacks alchemy
To fuse itself to—love, would you have me say?
I don’t believe it. No, there is no such word.
If I say tolerance, there’s no more to say.
And he who sickens even in saying that—
What coin of God has he to pay the toll
To peace on earth? Good will to men—oh, yes!
That’s easy; and it means no more than sap,
Until we boil the water out of it
Over the fire of sacrifice. I’ll do it;
And in a measurable way I’ve done it
But not for him. What are you smiling at?
Well, so it went until a day in June.
We were together under an old elm,
Which now, I hope, is gone—though its a crime
In me that I should have to wish the death
Of such a tree as that. There were no trees
Like those that grew at school—until he came.
We stood together under it that day,
When he, by some ungovernable chance,
All foreign to the former crafty care
That he had used never to cross my favor,
Told of a lie that stained a friend of mine
With a false blot that a few days washed off.
A trifle now, but a boy’s honor then—
Which then was everything. There were some words
Between us, but I don’t remember them.
All I remember is a bursting flood
Of half a year’s accumulated hate,
And his incredulous eyes before I struck him.
He had gone once too far; and when he knew it,
He knew it was all over; and I struck him.
Pound for pound, he was the better brute;
But bulking in the way then of my fist
And all there was alive in me to drive it,
Three of him misbegotten into one
Would have gone down like him—and being larger,
Might have bled more, if that were necessary.
He came up soon; and if I live for ever,
The vengeance in his eyes, and a weird gleam
Of desolation—it I make you see it
Will be before me as it is tonight.
I shall not ever know how long it was
I waited his attack that never came;
It might have been an instant or an hour
That I stood ready there, watching his eyes,
And the tears running out of them. They made
Me sick, those tears; for I knew, miserably,
They were not there for any pain he felt.
I do not think he felt the pain at all.
He felt the blow.… Oh, the whole thing was bad—
So bad that even the bleaching suns and rains
Of years that wash away to faded lines,
Or blot out wholly, the sharp wrongs and ills
Of youth, have had no cleansing agent in them
To dim the picture. I still see him going
Away from where I stood; and I shall see him
Longer, sometime, than I shall see the face
Of whosoever watches by the bed
On which I die—given I die that way.
I doubt if he could reason his advantage
In living any longer after that
Among the rest of us. The lad he slandered,
Or gave a negative immunity
No better than a stone he might have thrown
Behind him at his head, was of the few
I might have envied; and for that being known,
My fury became sudden history,
And I a sudden hero. But the crown
I wore was hot; and I would happily
Have hurled it, if I could, so far away
That over my last hissing glimpse of it
There might have closed an ocean. He went home
The next day, and the same unhappy chance
That first had fettered me and my aversion
To his unprofitable need of me
Brought us abruptly face to face again
Beside the carriage that had come for him.
We met, and for a moment we were still—
Together. But I was reading in his eyes
More than I read at college or at law
In years that followed. There was blankly nothing
For me to say, if not that I was sorry;
And that was more than hate would let me say
Whatever the truth might be. At last he spoke,
And I could see the vengeance in his eyes,
And a cold sorrow—which, if I had seen
Much more of it, might yet have mastered me.
But I would see no more of it. ‘Well, then,’
He said, ‘have you thought yet of anything
Worth saying? If so, there’s time. If you are silent,
I shall know where you are until you die.’
I can still hear him saying those words to me
Again, without a loss or an addition;
I know, for I have heard them ever since.
And there was in me not an answer for them
Save a new roiling silence. Once again
I met his look, and on his face I saw
There was a twisting in the swarthiness
That I had often sworn to be the cast
Of his ophidian mind. He had no soul.
There was to be no more of him—not then.
The carriage rolled away with him inside,
Leaving the two of us alive together
In the same hemisphere to hate each other.
I don’t know now whether he’s here alive,
Or whether he’s here dead. But that, of course,
As you would say, is only a tired man’s fancy.
You know that I have driven the wheels too fast
Of late, and all for gold I do not need.
When are we mortals to be sensible,
Paying no more for life than life is worth?
Better for us, no doubt, we do not know
How much we pay or what it is we buy.”
He waited, gazing at me as if asking
The worth of what the universe had for sale
For one confessed remorse. Avon, I knew,
Had driven the wheels too fast, and not for gold.

“If you had given him then your hand,” I said,
And spoken, though it strangled you, the truth,
I should not have the melancholy honor
Of sitting here alone with you this evening.
If only you had shaken hands with him,
And said the truth, he would have gone his way.
And you your way. He might have wished you dead,
But he would not have made you miserable.
At least,” I added, indefensibly,
“That’s what I hope is true.”

He pitied me,
But had the magnanimity not to say so.
“If only we had shaken hands,” he said,
And I had said the truth, we might have been
In half a moment rolling on the gravel.
If I had said the truth, I should have said
That never at any moment on the clock
Above us in the tower since his arrival
Had I been in a more proficient mood
To throttle him. If you had seen his eyes
As I did, and if you had seen his face
At work as I did, you might understand.
I was ashamed of it, as I am now,
But that’s the prelude to another theme;
For now I’m saying only what had happened
If I had taken his hand and said the truth.
The wise have cautioned us that where there’s hate
There’s also fear. The wise are right sometimes.
There may be now, but there was no fear then.
There was just hatred, hauled up out of hell
For me to writhe in; and I writhed in it.”

I saw that he was writhing in it still;
But having a magnanimity myself,
I waited. There was nothing else to do
But wait, and to remember that his tale,
Though well along, as I divined it was,
Yet hovered among shadows and regrets
Of twenty years ago. When he began
Again to speak, I felt them coming nearer.

“Whenever your poet or your philosopher
Has nothing richer for us,” he resumed,
“He burrows among remnants, like a mouse
In a waste-basket, and with much dry noise
Comes up again, having found Time at the bottom
And filled himself with its futility.
‘Time is at once,’ he says, to startle us,
‘A poison for us, if we make it so,
And, if we make it so, an antidote
For the same poison that afflicted us.’
I’m witness to the poison, but the cure
Of my complaint is not, for me, in Time.
There may be doctors in eternity
To deal with it, but they are not here now.
There’s no specific for my three diseases
That I could swallow, even if I should find it,
And I shall never find it here on earth.”

“Mightn’t it be as well, my friend,” I said,
“For you to contemplate the uncompleted
With not such an infernal certainty?”

And mightn’t it be as well for you, my friend,”
Said Avon, “to be quiet while I go on?
When I am done, then you may talk all night—
Like a physician who can do no good,
But knows how soon another would have his fee
Were he to tell the truth. Your fee for this
Is in my gratitude and my affection;
And I’m not eager to be calling in
Another to take yours away from you,
Whatever its worth. I like to think I know.
Well then, again. The carriage rolled away
With him inside; and so it might have gone
For ten years rolling on, with him still in it,
For all it was I saw of him. Sometimes
I heard of him, but only as one hears
Of leprosy in Boston or New York
And wishes it were somewhere else. He faded
Out of my scene—yet never quite out of it:
I shall know where you are until you die,’
Were his last words; and they are the same words
That I received thereafter once a year,
Infallibly on my birthday, with no name;
Only a card, and the words printed on it.
No, I was never rid of him—not quite;
Although on shipboard, on my way from here
To Hamburg, I believe that I forgot him.
But once ashore, I should have been half ready
To meet him there, risen up out of the ground,
With hoofs and horns and tail and everything.
Believe me, there was nothing right about him,
Though it was not in Hamburg that I found him.
Later, in Rome, it was we found each other,
For the first time since we had been at school.
There was the same slow vengeance in his eyes
When he saw mine, and there was a vicious twist
On his amphibious face that might have been
On anything else a smile—rather like one
We look for on the stage than in the street.
I must have been a yard away from him
Yet as we passed I felt the touch of him
Like that of something soft in a dark room.
There’s hardly need of saying that we said nothing,
Or that we gave each other an occasion
For more than our eyes uttered. He was gone
Before I knew it, like a solid phantom;
And his reality was for me some time
In its achievement—given that one’s to be
Convinced that such an incubus at large
Was ever quite real. The season was upon us
When there are fitter regions in the world—
Though God knows he would have been safe enough—
Than Rome for strayed Americans to live in,
And when the whips of their itineraries
Hurry them north again. I took my time,
Since I was paying for it, and leisurely
Went where I would—though never again to move
Without him at my elbow or behind me.
My shadow of him, wherever I found myself,
Might horribly as well have been the man—
Although I should have been afraid of him
No more than of a large worm in a salad.
I should omit the salad, certainly,
And wish the worm elsewhere. And so he was,
In fact; yet as I go on to grow older,
I question if there’s anywhere a fact
That isn’t the malevolent existence
Of one man who is dead, or is not dead,
Or what the devil it is that he may be.
There must be, I suppose, a fact somewhere,
But I don’t know it. I can only tell you
That later, when to all appearances
I stood outside a music-hall in London,
I felt him and then saw that he was there.
Yes, he was there, and had with him a woman
Who looked as if she didn’t know. I’m sorry
To this day for that woman—who, no doubt,
Is doing well. Yes, there he was again;
There were his eyes and the same vengeance in them
That I had seen in Rome and twice before—
Not mentioning all the time, or most of it,
Between the day I struck him and that evening.
That was the worst show that I ever saw,
But you had better see it for yourself
Before you say so too. I went away,
Though not for any fear that I could feel
Of him or of his worst manipulations,
But only to be out of the same air
That made him stay alive in the same world
With all the gentlemen that were in irons
For uncommendable extravagances
That I should reckon slight compared with his
Offence of being. Distance would have made him
A moving fly-speck on the map of life,—
But he would not be distant, though his flesh
And bone might have been climbing Fujiyama
Or Chimborazo—with me there in London,
Or sitting here. My doom it was to see him,
Be where I might. That was ten years ago;
And having waited season after season
His always imminent evil recrudescence,
And all for nothing, I was waiting still,
When the Titanic touched a piece of ice
And we were for a moment where we are,
With nature laughing at us. When the noise
Had spent itself to names, his was among them;
And I will not insult you or myself
With a vain perjury. I was far from cold.
It seemed as for the first time in my life
I knew the blessedness of being warm;
And I remember that I had a drink,
Having assuredly no need of it.
Pity a fool for his credulity,
If so you must. But when I found his name
Among the dead, I trusted once the news;
And after that there were no messages
In ambush waiting for me on my birthday.
There was no vestige yet of any fear,
You understand—if that’s why you are smiling.”

I said that I had not so much as whispered
The name aloud of any fear soever,
And that I smiled at his unwonted plunge
Into the perilous pool of Dionysus.
“Well, if you are so easily diverted
As that,” he said, drumming his chair again,
You will be pleased, I think, with what is coming;
And though there be divisions and departures,
Imminent from now on, for your diversion
I’ll do the best I can. More to the point,
I know a man who if his friends were like him
Would live in the woods all summer and all winter,
Leaving the town and its iniquities
To die of their own dust. But having his wits,
Henceforth he may conceivably avoid
The adventure unattended. Last October
He took me with him into the Maine woods,
Where, by the shore of a primeval lake,
With woods all round it, and a voyage away
From anything wearing clothes, he had reared somehow
A lodge, or camp, with a stone chimney in it,
And a wide fireplace to make men forget
Their sins who sat before it in the evening,
Hearing the wind outside among the trees
And the black water washing on the shore.
I never knew the meaning of October
Until I went with Asher to that place,
Which I shall not investigate again
Till I be taken there by other forces
Than are innate in my economy.
You may not like it,’ Asher said, ‘but Asher
Knows what is good. So put your faith in Asher,
And come along with him. He’s an odd bird,
Yet I could wish for the world’s decency
There might be more of him. And so it was
I found myself, at first incredulous,
Down there with Asher in the wilderness,
Alive at last with a new liberty
And with no sore to fester. He perceived
In me an altered favor of God’s works,
And promptly took upon himself the credit,
Which, in a fashion, was as accurate
As one’s interpretation of another
Is like to be. So for a frosty fortnight
We had the sunlight with us on the lake,
And the moon with us when the sun was down.
‘God gave his adjutants a holiday,’
Asher assured me, ‘when He made this place’;
And I agreed with him that it was heaven,—
Till it was hell for me for then and after.

“There was a village miles away from us
Where now and then we paddled for the mail
And incidental small commodities
That perfect exile might require, and stayed
The night after the voyage with an antique
Survival of a broader world than ours
Whom Asher called The Admiral. This time,
A little out of sorts and out of tune
With paddling, I let Asher go alone,
Sure that his heart was happy. Then it was
That hell came. I sat gazing over there
Across the water, watching the sun’s last fire
Above those gloomy and indifferent trees
That might have been a wall around the world,
When suddenly, like faces over the lake,
Out of the silence of that other shore
I was aware of hidden presences
That soon, no matter how many of them there were,
Would all be one. I could not look behind me,
Where I could hear that one of them was breathing,
For, if I did, those others over there
Might all see that at last I was afraid;
And I might hear them without seeing them,
Seeing that other one. You were not there;
And it is well for you that you don’t know
What they are like when they should not be there.
And there were chilly doubts of whether or not
I should be seeing the rest that I should see
With eyes, or otherwise. I could not be sure;
And as for going over to find out,
All I may tell you now is that my fear
Was not the fear of dying, though I knew soon
That all the gold in all the sunken ships
That have gone down since Tyre would not have paid
For me the ferriage of myself alone
To that infernal shore. I was in hell,
Remember; and if you have never been there
You may as well not say how easy it is
To find the best way out. There may not be one.
Well, I was there; and I was there alone—
Alone for the first time since I was born;
And I was not alone. That’s what it is
To be in hell. I hope you will not go there.
All through that slow, long, desolating twilight
Of incoherent certainties, I waited;
Never alone—never to be alone;
And while the night grew down upon me there,
I thought of old Prometheus in the story
That I had read at school, and saw mankind
All huddled into clusters in the dark,
Calling to God for light. There was a light
Coming for them, but there was none for me
Until a shapeless remnant of a moon
Rose after midnight over the black trees
Behind me. I should hardly have confessed
The heritage then of my identity
To my own shadow; for I was powerless there,
As I am here. Say what you like to say
To silence, but say none of it to me
Tonight. To say it now would do no good,
And you are here to listen. Beware of hate,
And listen. Beware of hate, remorse, and fear,
And listen. You are staring at the damned,
But yet you are no more the one than he
To say that it was he alone who planted
The flower of death now growing in his garden.
Was it enough, I wonder, that I struck him?
I shall say nothing. I shall have to wait
Until I see whats coming, if it comes,
When I’m a delver in another garden—
If such an one there be. If there be none,
All’s well—and over. Rather a vain expense,
One might affirm—yet there is nothing lost.
Science be praised that there is nothing lost.”

I’m glad the venom that was on his tongue
May not go down on paper; and I’m glad
No friend of mine alive, far as I know,
Has a tale waiting for me with an end
Like Avon’s. There was here an interruption,
Though not a long one—only while we heard,
As we had heard before, the ghost of steps
Faintly outside. We knew that she was there
Again; and though it was a kindly folly,
I wished that Avon’s wife would go to sleep.

I was afraid, this time, but not of man—
Or man as you may figure him,” he said.
It was not anything my eyes had seen
That I could feel around me in the night,
There by that lake. If I had been alone,
There would have been the joy of being free,
Which in imagination I had won
With unimaginable expiation—
But I was not alone. If you had seen me,
Waiting there for the dark and looking off
Over the gloom of that relentless water,
Which had the stillness of the end of things
That evening on it, I might well have made
For you the picture of the last man left
Where God, in his extinction of the rest,
Had overlooked him and forgotten him.
Yet I was not alone. Interminably
The minutes crawled along and over me,
Slow, cold, intangible, and invisible,
As if they had come up out of that water.
How long I sat there I shall never know,
For time was hidden out there in the black lake,
Which now I could see only as a glimpse
Of black light by the shore. There were no stars
To mention, and the moon was hours away
Behind me. There was nothing but myself,
And what was coming. On my breast I felt
The touch of death, and I should have died then.
I ruined good Asher’s autumn as it was,
For he will never again go there alone,
If ever he goes at all. Nature did ill
To darken such a faith in her as his,
Though he will have it that I had the worst
Of her defection, and will hear no more
Apologies. If it had to be for someone,
I think it well for me it was for Asher.
I dwell on him, meaning that you may know him
Before your last horn blows. He has a name
That’s like a tree, and therefore like himself—
By which I mean you find him where you leave him.
I saw him and The Admiral together
While I was in the dark, but they were far—
Far as around the world from where I was;
And they knew nothing of what I saw not
While I knew only I was not alone.
I made a fire to make the place alive,
And locked the door. But even the fire was dead,
And all the life there was was in the shadow
It made of me. My shadow was all of me;
The rest had had its day, and there was night
Remaining—only night, that’s made for shadows,
Shadows and sleep and dreams, or dreams without it.
The fire went slowly down, and now the moon,
Or that late wreck of it, was coming up;
And though it was a martyr’s work to move,
I must obey my shadow, and I did.
There were two beds built low against the wall,
And down on one of them, with all my clothes on,
Like a man getting into his own grave,
I lay—and waited. As the firelight sank,
The moonlight, which had partly been consumed
By the black trees, framed on the other wall
A glimmering window not far from the ground.
The coals were going, and only a few sparks
Were there to tell of them; and as they died
The window lightened, and I saw the trees.
They moved a little, but I could not move,
More than to turn my face the other way;
And then, if you must have it so, I slept.
We’ll call it so—if sleep is your best name
For a sort of conscious, frozen catalepsy
Wherein a man sees all there is around him
As if it were not real, and he were not
Alive. You may call it anything you please
That made me powerless to move hand or foot,
Or to make any other living motion
Than after a long horror, without hope,
To turn my face again the other way.
Some force that was not mine opened my eyes,
And, as I knew it must be,—it was there.”

Avon covered his eyes—whether to shut
The memory and the sight of it away,
Or to be sure that mine were for the moment
Not searching his with pity, is now no matter.
My glance at him was brief, turning itself
To the familiar pattern of his rug,
Wherein I may have sought a consolation—
As one may gaze in sorrow on a shell,
Or a small apple. So it had come, I thought;
And heard, no longer with a wonderment,
The faint recurring footsteps of his wife,
Who, knowing less than I knew, yet knew more.
Now I could read, I fancied, through the fear
That latterly was living in her eyes,
To the sure source of its authority.
But he went on, and I was there to listen:

And though I saw it only as a blot
Between me and my life, it was enough
To make me know that he was watching there—
Waiting for me to move, or not to move,
Before he moved. Sick as I was with hate
Reborn, and chained with fear that was more than fear,
I would have gambled all there was to gain
Or lose in rising there from where I lay
And going out after it. ‘Before the dawn,’
I reasoned, ‘there will be a difference here.
Therefore it may as well be done outside.’
And then I found I was immovable,
As I had been before; and a dead sweat
Rolled out of me as I remembered him
When I had seen him leaving me at school.
I shall know where you are until you die,’
Were the last words that I had heard him say;
And there he was. Now I could see his face,
And all the sad, malignant desperation
That was drawn on it after I had struck him,
And on my memory since that afternoon.
But all there was left now for me to do
Was to lie there and see him while he squeezed
His unclean outlines into the dim room,
And half erect inside, like a still beast
With a face partly man’s, came slowly on
Along the floor to the bed where I lay,
And waited. There had been so much of waiting,
Through all those evil years before my respite—
Which now I knew and recognized at last
As only his more venomous preparation
For the vile end of a deceiving peace—
That I began to fancy there was on me
The stupor that explorers have alleged
As evidence of nature’s final mercy
When tigers have them down upon the earth
And wild hot breath is heavy on their faces.
I could not feel his breath, but I could hear it;
Though fear had made an anvil of my heart
Where demons, for the joy of doing it,
Were sledging death down on it. And I saw
His eyes now, as they were, for the first time—
Aflame as they had never been before
With all their gathered vengeance gleaming in them,
And always that unconscionable sorrow
That would not die behind it. Then I caught
The shadowy glimpse of an uplifted arm,
And a moon-flash of metal. That was all.…

When I believed I was alive again
I was with Asher and The Admiral,
Whom Asher had brought with him for a day
With nature. They had found me when they came;
And there was not much left of me to find.
I had not moved or known that I was there
Since I had seen his eyes and felt his breath;
And it was not for some uncertain hours
After they came that either would say how long
That might have been. It should have been much longer.
All you may add will be your own invention,
For I have told you all there is to tell.
Tomorrow I shall have another birthday,
And with it there may come another message—
Although I cannot see the need of it,
Or much more need of drowning, if that’s all
Men drown for—when they drown. You know as much
As I know about that, though I’ve a right,
If not a reason, to be on my guard;
And only God knows what good that will do.
Now you may get some air. Good night!—and thank you.”
He smiled, but I would rather he had not.

I wished that Avon’s wife would go to sleep,
But whether she found sleep that night or not
I do not know. I was awake for hours,
Toiling in vain to let myself believe
That Avon’s apparition was a dream,
And that he might have added, for romance,
The part that I had taken home with me
For reasons not in Avon’s dictionary.
But each recurrent memory of his eyes,
And of the man himself that I had known
So long and well, made soon of all my toil
An evanescent and a vain evasion;
And it was half as in expectancy
That I obeyed the summons of his wife
A little before dawn, and was again
With Avon in the room where I had left him,
But not with the same Avon I had left.
The doctor, an august authority,
With eminence abroad as well as here,
Looked hard at me as if I were the doctor
And he the friend. “I have had eyes on Avon
For more than half a year,” he said to me,
And I have wondered often what it was
That I could see that I was not to see.
Though he was in the chair where you are looking,
I told his wife—I had to tell her something—
It was a nightmare and an aneurism;
And so, or partly so, I’ll say it was.
The last without the first will be enough
For the newspapers and the undertaker;
Yet if we doctors were not all immune
From death, disease, and curiosity,
My diagnosis would be sorry for me.
He died, you know, because he was afraid—
And he had been afraid for a long time;
And we who knew him well would all agree
To fancy there was rather more than fear.
The door was locked inside—they broke it in
To find him—but she heard him when it came.
There are no signs of any visitors,
Or need of them. If I were not a child
Of science, I should say it was the devil.
I don’t believe it was another woman,
And surely it was not another man.”

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VII. Pompilia

I am just seventeen years and five months old,
And, if I lived one day more, three full weeks;
'T is writ so in the church's register,
Lorenzo in Lucina, all my names
At length, so many names for one poor child,
—Francesca Camilla Vittoria Angela
Pompilia Comparini,—laughable!
Also 't is writ that I was married there
Four years ago: and they will add, I hope,
When they insert my death, a word or two,—
Omitting all about the mode of death,—
This, in its place, this which one cares to know,
That I had been a mother of a son
Exactly two weeks. It will be through grace
O' the Curate, not through any claim I have;
Because the boy was born at, so baptized
Close to, the Villa, in the proper church:
A pretty church, I say no word against,
Yet stranger-like,—while this Lorenzo seems
My own particular place, I always say.
I used to wonder, when I stood scarce high
As the bed here, what the marble lion meant,
With half his body rushing from the wall,
Eating the figure of a prostrate man—
(To the right, it is, of entry by the door)
An ominous sign to one baptized like me,
Married, and to be buried there, I hope.
And they should add, to have my life complete,
He is a boy and Gaetan by name—
Gaetano, for a reason,—if the friar
Don Celestine will ask this grace for me
Of Curate Ottoboni: he it was
Baptized me: he remembers my whole life
As I do his grey hair.

All these few things
I know are true,—will you remember them?
Because time flies. The surgeon cared for me,
To count my wounds,—twenty-two dagger-wounds,
Five deadly, but I do not suffer much—
Or too much pain,—and am to die to-night.

Oh how good God is that my babe was born,
—Better than born, baptized and hid away
Before this happened, safe from being hurt!
That had been sin God could not well forgive:
He was too young to smile and save himself.
When they took two days after he was born,
My babe away from me to be baptized
And hidden awhile, for fear his foe should find,—
The country-woman, used to nursing babes,
Said "Why take on so? where is the great loss?
"These next three weeks he will but sleep and feed,
"Only begin to smile at the month's end;
"He would not know you, if you kept him here,
"Sooner than that; so, spend three merry weeks
"Snug in the Villa, getting strong and stout,
"And then I bring him back to be your own,
"And both of you may steal towe know where!"
The month—there wants of it two weeks this day!
Still, I half fancied when I heard the knock
At the Villa in the dusk, it might prove she—
Come to say "Since he smiles before the time,
"Why should I cheat you out of one good hour?
"Back I have brought him; speak to him and judge!"
Now I shall never see him; what is worse,
When he grows up and gets to be my age,
He will seem hardly more than a great boy;
And if he asks "What was my mother like?"
People may answer "Like girls of seventeen"—
And how can he but think of this and that,
Lucias, Marias, Sofias, who titter or blush
When he regards them as such boys may do?
Therefore I wish someone will please to say
I looked already old though I was young;
Do I not … say, if you are by to speak …
Look nearer twenty? No more like, at least,
Girls who look arch or redden when boys laugh,
Than the poor Virgin that I used to know
At our street-corner in a lonely niche,—
The babe, that sat upon her knees, broke off,—
Thin white glazed clay, you pitied her the more:
She, not the gay ones, always got my rose.

How happy those are who know how to write!
Such could write what their son should read in time,
Had they a whole day to live out like me.
Also my name is not a common name,
"Pompilia," and may help to keep apart
A little the thing I am from what girls are.
But then how far away, how hard to find
Will anything about me have become,
Even if the boy bethink himself and ask!
No father that he ever knew at all,
Nor ever had—no, never had, I say!
That is the truth,—nor any mother left,
Out of the little two weeks that she lived,
Fit for such memory as might assist:
As good to as no family, no name,
Not even poor old Pietro's name, nor hers,
Poor kind unwise Violante, since it seems
They must not be my parents any more.
That is why something put it in my head
To call the boy "Gaetano"—no old name
For sorrow's sake; I looked up to the sky
And took a new saint to begin anew.
One who has only been made saint—how long?
Twenty-five years: so, carefuller, perhaps,
To guard a namesake than those old saints grow,
Tired out by this time,—see my own five saints!

On second thoughts, I hope he will regard
The history of me as what someone dreamed,
And get to disbelieve it at the last:
Since to myself it dwindles fast to that,
Sheer dreaming and impossibility,—
Just in four days too! All the seventeen years,
Not once did a suspicion visit me
How very different a lot is mine
From any other woman's in the world.
The reason must be, 't was by step and step
It got to grow so terrible and strange.
These strange woes stole on tiptoe, as it were,
Into my neighbourhood and privacy,
Sat down where I sat, laid them where I lay;
And I was found familiarised with fear,
When friends broke in, held up a torch and cried
"Why, you Pompilia in the cavern thus,
"How comes that arm of yours about a wolf?
"And the soft length,—lies in and out your feet
"And laps you round the knee,—a snake it is!"
And so on.

Well, and they are right enough,
By the torch they hold up now: for first, observe,
I never had a father,—no, nor yet
A mother: my own boy can say at least
"I had a mother whom I kept two weeks!"
Not I, who little used to doubt … I doubt
Good Pietro, kind Violante, gave me birth?
They loved me always as I love my babe
(—Nearly so, that is—quite so could not be—)
Did for me all I meant to do for him,
Till one surprising day, three years ago,
They both declared, at Rome, before some judge
In some Court where the people flocked to hear,
That really I had never been their child,
Was a mere castaway, the careless crime
Of an unknown man, the crime and care too much
Of a woman known too well,—little to these,
Therefore, of whom I was the flesh and blood:
What then to Pietro and Violante, both
No more my relatives than you or you?
Nothing to them! You know what they declared.

So with my husband,—just such a surprise,
Such a mistake, in that relationship!
Everyone says that husbands love their wives,
Guard them and guide them, give them happiness;
'T is duty, law, pleasure, religion: well,
You see how much of this comes true in mine!
People indeed would fain have somehow proved
He was no husband: but he did not hear,
Or would not wait, and so has killed us all.
Then there is … only let me name one more!
There is the friend,—men will not ask about,
But tell untruths of, and give nicknames to,
And think my lover, most surprise of all!
Do only hear, it is the priest they mean,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi: a priest—love,
And love me! Well, yet people think he did.
I am married, he has taken priestly vows,
They know that, and yet go on, say, the same,
"Yes, how he loves you!" "That was love"—they say,
When anything is answered that they ask:
Or else "No wonder you love him"—they say.
Then they shake heads, pity much, scarcely blame—
As if we neither of us lacked excuse,
And anyhow are punished to the full,
And downright love atones for everything!
Nay, I heard read out in the public Court
Before the judge, in presence of my friends,
Letters't was said the priest had sent to me,
And other letters sent him by myself,
We being lovers!

Listen what this is like!
When I was a mere child, my mother … that's
Violante, you must let me call her so
Nor waste time, trying to unlearn the word …
She brought a neighbour's child of my own age
To play with me of rainy afternoons;
And, since there hung a tapestry on the wall,
We two agreed to find each other out
Among the figures. "Tisbe, that is you,
"With half-moon on your hair-knot, spear in hand,
"Flying, but no wings, only the great scarf
"Blown to a bluish rainbow at your back:
"Call off your hound and leave the stag alone!"
"—And there are you, Pompilia, such green leaves
"Flourishing out of your five finger-ends,
"And all the rest of you so brown and rough:
"Why is it you are turned a sort of tree?"
You know the figures never were ourselves
Though we nicknamed them so. Thus, all my life,—
As well what was, as what, like this, was not,—
Looks old, fantastic and impossible:
I touch a fairy thing that fades and fades.
—Even to my babe! I thought, when he was born,
Something began for once that would not end,
Nor change into a laugh at me, but stay
For evermore, eternally quite mine.
Well, so he is,—but yet they bore him off,
The third day, lest my husband should lay traps
And catch him, and by means of him catch me.
Since they have saved him so, it was well done:
Yet thence comes such confusion of what was
With what will be,—that late seems long ago,
And, what years should bring round, already come,
Till even he withdraws into a dream
As the rest do: I fancy him grown great,
Strong, stern, a tall young man who tutors me,
Frowns with the others "Poor imprudent child!
"Why did you venture out of the safe street?
"Why go so far from help to that lone house?
"Why open at the whisper and the knock?"
Six days ago when it was New Year's-day,
We bent above the fire and talked of him,
What he should do when he was grown and great.
Violante, Pietro, each had given the arm
I leant on, to walk by, from couch to chair
And fireside,—laughed, as I lay safe at last,
"Pompilia's march from bed to board is made,
"Pompilia back again and with a babe,
"Shall one day lend his arm and help her walk!"
Then we all wished each other more New Years.
Pietro began to scheme—"Our cause is gained;
"The law is stronger than a wicked man:
"Let him henceforth go his way, leave us ours!
"We will avoid the city, tempt no more
"The greedy ones by feasting and parade,—
"Live at the other villa, we know where,
"Still farther off, and we can watch the babe
"Grow fast in the good air; and wood is cheap
"And wine sincere outside the city gate.
"I still have two or three old friends will grope
"Their way along the mere half-mile of road,
"With staff and lantern on a moonless night
"When one needs talk: they'll find me, never fear,
"And I'll find them a flask of the old sort yet!"
Violante said "You chatter like a crow:
"Pompilia tires o' the tattle, and shall to bed:
"Do not too much the first day,—somewhat more
"To-morrow, and, the next, begin the cape
"And hood and coat! I have spun wool enough."
Oh what a happy friendly eve was that!

And, next day, about noon, out Pietro went—
He was so happy and would talk so much,
Until Violante pushed and laughed him forth
Sight-seeing in the cold,—"So much to see
"I' the churches! Swathe your throat three times!" she cried,
"And, above all, beware the slippery ways,
"And bring us all the news by supper-time!"
He came back late, laid by cloak, staff and hat,
Powdered so thick with snow it made us laugh,
Rolled a great log upon the ash o' the hearth,
And bade Violante treat us to a flask,
Because he had obeyed her faithfully,
Gone sight-see through the seven, and found no church
To his mind like San Giovanni—"There's the fold,
"And all the sheep together, big as cats!
"And such a shepherd, half the size of life,
"Starts up and hears the angel"—when, at the door,
A tap: we started up: you know the rest.

Pietro at least had done no harm, I know;
Nor even Violante, so much harm as makes
Such revenge lawful. Certainly she erred—
Did wrong, how shall I dare say otherwise?—
In telling that first falsehood, buying me
From my poor faulty mother at a price,
To pass off upon Pietro as his child.
If one should take my babe, give him a name,
Say he was not Gaetano and my own,
But that some other woman made his mouth
And hands and feet,—how very false were that!
No good could come of that; and all harm did.
Yet if a stranger were to represent
"Needs must you either give your babe to me
"And let me call him mine for evermore,
"Or let your husband get him"—ah, my God,
That were a trial I refuse to face!
Well, just so here: it proved wrong but seemed right
To poor Violante—for there lay, she said,
My poor real dying mother in her rags,
Who put me from her with the life and all,
Poverty, pain, shame and disease at once,
To die the easier by what price I fetched—
Also (I hope) because I should be spared
Sorrow and sin,—why may not that have helped?
My father,—he was no one, any one,—
The worse, the likelier,—call him—he who came,
Was wicked for his pleasure, went his way,
And left no trace to track by; there remained
Nothing but me, the unnecessary life,
To catch up or let fall,—and yet a thing
She could make happy, be made happy with,
This poor Violante,—who would frown thereat?

Well, God, you see! God plants us where we grow.
It is not that because a bud is born
At a wild briar's end, full i' the wild beast's way,
We ought to pluck and put it out of reach
On the oak-tree top,—say "There the bud belongs!"
She thought, moreover, real lies were lies told
For harm's sake; whereas this had good at heart,
Good for my mother, good for me, and good
For Pietro who was meant to love a babe,
And needed one to make his life of use,
Receive his house and land when he should die.
Wrong, wrong and always wrong! how plainly wrong:
For see, this fault kept pricking, as faults do,
All the same at her heart: this falsehood hatched,
She could not let it go nor keep it fast.
She told me so,—the first time I was found
Locked in her arms once more after the pain,
When the nuns let me leave them and go home,
And both of us cried all the cares away,—
This it was set her on to make amends,
This brought about the marriage—simply this!
Do let me speak for her you blame so much!
When Paul, my husband's brother, found me out,
Heard there was wealth for who should marry me,
So, came and made a speech to ask my hand
For Guido,—she, instead of piercing straight
Through the pretence to the ignoble truth,
Fancied she saw God's very finger point,
Designate just the time for planting me
(The wild-briar slip she plucked to love and wear)
In soil where I could strike real root, and grow,
And get to be the thing I called myself:
For, wife and husband are one flesh, God says,
And I, whose parents seemed such and were none,
Should in a husband have a husband now,
Find nothing, this time, but was what it seemed,
—All truth and no confusion any more.
I know she meant all good to me, all pain
To herself,—since how could it be aught but pain,
To give me up, so, from her very breast,
The wilding flower-tree-branch that, all those years,
She had got used to feel for and find fixed?
She meant well: has it been so ill i' the main?
That is but fair to ask: one cannot judge
Of what has been the ill or well of life,
The day that one is dying,—sorrows change
Into not altogether sorrow-like;
I do see strangeness but scarce misery,
Now it is over, and no danger more.
My child is safe; there seems not so much pain.
It comes, most like, that I am just absolved,
Purged of the past, the foul in me, washed fair,—
One cannot both have and not have, you know,—
Being right now, I am happy and colour things.
Yes, everybody that leaves life sees all
Softened and bettered: so with other sights:
To me at least was never evening yet
But seemed far beautifuller than its day,
For past is past.

There was a fancy came,
When somewhere, in the journey with my friend,
We stepped into a hovel to get food;
And there began a yelp here, a bark there,—
Misunderstanding creatures that were wroth
And vexed themselves and us till we retired.
The hovel is life: no matter what dogs bit
Or cats scratched in the hovel I break from,
All outside is lone field, moon and such peace—
Flowing in, filling up as with a sea
Whereon comes Someone, walks fast on the white,
Jesus Christ's self, Don Celestine declares,
To meet me and calm all things back again.

Beside, up to my marriage, thirteen years
Were, each day, happy as the day was long:
This may have made the change too terrible.
I know that when Violante told me first
The cavalier—she meant to bring next morn,
Whom I must also let take, kiss my hand—
Would be at San Lorenzo the same eve
And marry me,—which over, we should go
Home both of us without him as before,
And, till she bade speak, I must hold my tongue,
Such being the correct way with girl-brides,
From whom one word would make a father blush,—
I know, I say, that when she told me this,
—Well, I no more saw sense in what she said
Than a lamb does in people clipping wool;
Only lay down and let myself be clipped.
And when next day the cavalier who came—
(Tisbe had told me that the slim young man
With wings at head, and wings at feet, and sword
Threatening a monster, in our tapestry,
Would eat a girl else,—was a cavalier)
When he proved Guido Franceschini,—old
And nothing like so tall as I myself
Hook-nosed and yellow in a bush of beard,
Much like a thing I saw on a boy's wrist,
He called an owl and used for catching birds,—
And when he took my hand and made a smile—
Why, the uncomfortableness of it all
Seemed hardly more important in the case
Than,—when one gives you, say, a coin to spend,—
Its newness or its oldness; if the piece
Weigh properly and buy you what you wish,
No matter whether you get grime or glare!
Men take the coin, return you grapes and figs.
Here, marriage was the coin, a dirty piece
Would purchase me the praise of those I loved:
About what else should I concern myself?

So, hardly knowing what a husband meant,
I supposed this or any man would serve,
No whit the worse for being so uncouth:
For I was ill once and a doctor came
With a great ugly hat, no plume thereto,
Black jerkin and black buckles and black sword,
And white sharp beard over the ruff in front,
And oh so lean, so sour-faced and austere!—
Who felt my pulse, made me put out my tongue,
Then oped a phial, dripped a drop or two
Of a black bitter something,—I was cured!
What mattered the fierce beard or the grim face?
It was the physic beautified the man,
Master Malpichi,—never met his match
In Rome, they said,—so ugly all the same!

However, I was hurried through a storm,
Next dark eve of December's deadest day
How it rained!—through our street and the Lion's-mouth
And the bit of Corso,—cloaked round, covered close,
I was like something strange or contraband,—
Into blank San Lorenzo, up the aisle,
My mother keeping hold of me so tight,
I fancied we were come to see a corpse
Before the altar which she pulled me toward.
There we found waiting an unpleasant priest
Who proved the brother, not our parish friend,
But one with mischief-making mouth and eye,
Paul, whom I know since to my cost. And then
I heard the heavy church-door lock out help
Behind us: for the customary warmth,
Two tapers shivered on the altar. "Quick—
"Lose no time!" cried the priest. And straightway down
From … what's behind the altar where he hid—
Hawk-nose and yellowness and bush and all,
Stepped Guido, caught my hand, and there was I
O' the chancel, and the priest had opened book,
Read here and there, made me say that and this,
And after, told me I was now a wife,
Honoured indeed, since Christ thus weds the Church,
And therefore turned he water into wine,
To show I should obey my spouse like Christ.
Then the two slipped aside and talked apart,
And I, silent and scared, got down again
And joined my mother who was weeping now.
Nobody seemed to mind us any more,
And both of us on tiptoe found our way
To the door which was unlocked by this, and wide.
When we were in the street, the rain had stopped,
All things looked better. At out own house-door,
Violante whispered "No one syllable
"To Pietro! Girl-brides never breathe a word!"
"—Well treated to a wetting, draggle-tails!"
Laughed Pietro as he opened—"Very near
"You made me brave the gutter's roaring sea
"To carry off from roost old dove and young,
"Trussed up in church, the cote, by me, the kite!
"What do these priests mean, praying folk to death
"On stormy afternoons, with Christmas close
"To wash our sins off nor require the rain?"
Violante gave my hand a timely squeeze,
Madonna saved me from immodest speech,
I kissed him and was quiet, being a bride.
When I saw nothing more, the next three weeks,
Of Guido—"Nor the Church sees Christ" thought I:
"Nothing is changed however, wine is wine
"And water only water in our house.
"Nor did I see that ugly doctor since
"That cure of the illness: just as I was cured,
"I am married,—neither scarecrow will return."

Three weeks, I chuckled—"How would Giulia stare,
"And Tecla smile and Tisbe laugh outright,
"Were it not impudent for brides to talk!"—
Until one morning, as I sat and sang
At the broidery-frame alone i' the chamber,—loud
Voices, two, three together, sobbings too,
And my name, "Guido," "Paolo," flung like stones
From each to the other! In I ran to see.
There stood the very Guido and the priest
With sly face,—formal but nowise afraid,—
While Pietro seemed all red and angry, scarce
Able to stutter out his wrath in words;
And this it was that made my mother sob,
As he reproached her—"You have murdered us,
"Me and yourself and this our child beside!"
Then Guido interposed "Murdered or not,
"Be it enough your child is now my wife!
"I claim and come to take her." Paul put in,
"Consider—kinsman, dare I term you so?—
"What is the good of your sagacity
"Except to counsel in a strait like this?
"I guarantee the parties man and wife
"Whether you like or loathe it, bless or ban.
"May spilt milk be put back within the bowl—
"The done thing, undone? You, it is, we look
"For counsel to, you fitliest will advise!
"Since milk, though spilt and spoilt, does marble good,
"Better we down on knees and scrub the floor,
"Than sigh, 'the waste would make a syllabub!'
"Help us so turn disaster to account,
"So predispose the groom, he needs shall grace
"The bride with favour from the very first,
"Not begin marriage an embittered man!"
He smiled,—the game so wholly in his hands!
While fast and faster sobbed Violante—"Ay,
"All of us murdered, past averting now!
"O my sin, O my secret!" and such like.

Then I began to half surmise the truth;
Something had happened, low, mean, underhand,
False, and my mother was to blame, and I
To pity, whom all spoke of, none addressed:
I was the chattel that had caused a crime.
I stood mute,—those who tangled must untie
The embroilment. Pietro cried "Withdraw, my child!
"She is not helpful to the sacrifice
"At this stage,—do you want the victim by
"While you discuss the value of her blood?
"For her sake, I consent to hear you talk:
"Go, child, and pray God help the innocent!

I did go and was praying God, when came
Violante, with eyes swollen and red enough,
But movement on her mouth for make-believe
Matters were somehow getting right again.
She bade me sit down by her side and hear.
"You are too young and cannot understand,
"Nor did your father understand at first.
"I wished to benefit all three of us,
"And when he failed to take my meaning,—why,
"I tried to have my way at unaware—
"Obtained him the advantage he refused.
"As if I put before him wholesome food
"Instead of broken victual,—he finds change
"I' the viands, never cares to reason why,
"But falls to blaming me, would fling the plate
"From window, scandalize the neighbourhood,
"Even while he smacks his lips,—men's way, my child!
"But either you have prayed him unperverse
"Or I have talked him back into his wits:
"And Paolo was a help in time of need,—
"Guido, not much—my child, the way of men!
"A priest is more a woman than a man,
"And Paul did wonders to persuade. In short,
"Yes, he was wrong, your father sees and says;
"My scheme was worth attempting: and bears fruit,
"Gives you a husband and a noble name,
"A palace and no end of pleasant things.
"What do you care about a handsome youth?
"They are so volatile, and tease their wives!
"This is the kind of man to keep the house.
"We lose no daughter,—gain a son, that's all:
"For 't is arranged we never separate,
"Nor miss, in our grey time of life, the tints
"Of you that colour eve to match with morn.
"In good or ill, we share and share alike,
"And cast our lots into a common lap,
"And all three die together as we lived!
"Only, at Arezzo,—that's a Tuscan town,
"Not so large as this noisy Rome, no doubt,
"But older far and finer much, say folk,—
"In a great palace where you will be queen,
"Know the Archbishop and the Governor,
"And we see homage done you ere we die.
"Therefore, be good and pardon!"—"Pardon what?
"You know things, I am very ignorant:
"All is right if you only will not cry!"

And so an end! Because a blank begins
From when, at the word, she kissed me hard and hot,
And took me back to where my father leaned
Opposite Guido—who stood eyeing him,
As eyes the butcher the cast panting ox
That feels his fate is come, nor struggles more,—
While Paul looked archly on, pricked brow at whiles
With the pen-point as to punish triumph there,—
And said "Count Guido, take your lawful wife
"Until death part you!"

All since is one blank,
Over and ended; a terrific dream.
It is the good of dreams—so soon they go!
Wake in a horror of heart-beats, you may—
Cry "The dread thing will never from my thoughts!"
Still, a few daylight doses of plain life,
Cock-crow and sparrow-chirp, or bleat and bell
Of goats that trot by, tinkling, to be milked;
And when you rub your eyes awake and wide,
Where is the harm o' the horror? Gone! So here.
I know I wake,—but from what? Blank, I say!
This is the note of evil: for good lasts.
Even when Don Celestine bade "Search and find!
"For your soul's sake, remember what is past,
"The better to forgive it,"—all in vain!
What was fast getting indistinct before,
Vanished outright. By special grace perhaps,
Between that first calm and this last, four years
Vanish,—one quarter of my life, you know.
I am held up, amid the nothingness,
By one or two truths only—thence I hang,
And there I live,—the rest is death or dream,
All but those points of my support. I think
Of what I saw at Rome once in the Square
O' the Spaniards, opposite the Spanish House:
There was a foreigner had trained a goat,
A shuddering white woman of a beast,
To climb up, stand straight on a pile of sticks
Put close, which gave the creature room enough:
When she was settled there he, one by one,
Took away all the sticks, left just the four
Whereon the little hoofs did really rest,
There she kept firm, all underneath was air.
So, what I hold by, are my prayer to God,
My hope, that came in answer to the prayer,
Some hand would interpose and save me—hand
Which proved to be my friend's hand: and,—blest bliss,—
That fancy which began so faint at first,
That thrill of dawn's suffusion through my dark,
Which I perceive was promise of my child,
The light his unborn face sent long before,—
God's way of breaking the good news to flesh.
That is all left now of those four bad years.
Don Celestine urged "But remember more!
"Other men's faults may help me find your own.
"I need the cruelty exposed, explained,
"Or how can I advise you to forgive?"
He thought I could not properly forgive
Unless I ceased forgetting,—which is true:
For, bringing back reluctantly to mind
My husband's treatment of me,—by a light
That's later than my life-time, I review
And comprehend much and imagine more,
And have but little to forgive at last.
For now,—be fair and say,—is it not true
He was ill-used and cheated of his hope
To get enriched by marriage? Marriage gave
Me and no money, broke the compact so:
He had a right to ask me on those terms,
As Pietro and Violante to declare
They would not give me: so the bargain stood:
They broke it, and he felt himself aggrieved,
Became unkind with me to punish them.
They said 't was he began deception first,
Nor, in one point whereto he pledged himself,
Kept promise: what of that, suppose it were?
Echoes die off, scarcely reverberate
For ever,—why should ill keep echoing ill,
And never let our ears have done with noise?
Then my poor parents took the violent way
To thwart him,—he must needs retaliate,—wrong,
Wrong, and all wrong,—better say, all blind!
As I myself was, that is sure, who else
Had understood the mystery: for his wife
Was bound in some sort to help somehow there.
It seems as if I might have interposed,
Blunted the edge of their resentment so,
Since he vexed me because they first vexed him;
"I will entreat them to desist, submit,
"Give him the money and be poor in peace,—
"Certainly not go tell the world: perhaps
"He will grow quiet with his gains."

Yes, say
Something to this effect and you do well!
But then you have to see first: I was blind.
That is the fruit of all such wormy ways,
The indirect, the unapproved of God:
You cannot find their author's end and aim,
Not even to substitute your good for bad,
Your straight for the irregular; you stand
Stupefied, profitless, as cow or sheep
That miss a man's mind, anger him just twice
By trial at repairing the first fault.
Thus, when he blamed me, "You are a coquette,
"A lure-owl posturing to attract birds,
"You look love-lures at theatre and church,
"In walk, at window!"—that, I knew, was false:
But why he charged me falsely, whither sought
To drive me by such charge,—how could I know?
So, unaware, I only made things worse.
I tried to soothe him by abjuring walk,
Window, church, theatre, for good and all,
As if he had been in earnest: that, you know,
Was nothing like the object of his charge.
Yes, when I got my maid to supplicate
The priest, whose name she read when she would read
Those feigned false letters I was forced to hear
Though I could read no word of,—he should cease
Writing,—nay, if he minded prayer of mine,
Cease from so much as even pass the street
Whereon our house looked,—in my ignorance
I was just thwarting Guido's true intent;
Which was, to bring about a wicked change
Of sport to earnest, tempt a thoughtless man
To write indeed, and pass the house, and more,
Till both of us were taken in a crime.
He ought not to have wished me thus act lies,
Simulate folly: but,—wrong or right, the wish,—
I failed to apprehend its drift. How plain
It follows,—if I fell into such fault,
He also may have overreached the mark,
Made mistake, by perversity of brain,
I' the whole sad strange plot, the grotesque intrigue
To make me and my friend unself ourselves,
Be other man and woman than we were!
Think it out, you who have the time! for me,—
I cannot say less; more I will not say.
Leave it to God to cover and undo!
Only, my dulness should not prove too much!
—Not prove that in a certain other point
Wherein my husband blamed me,—and you blame,
If I interpret smiles and shakes of head,—
I was dull too. Oh, if I dared but speak!
Must I speak? I am blamed that I forwent
A way to make my husband's favour come.
That is true: I was firm, withstood, refused …
—Women as you are, how can I find the words?

I felt there was just one thing Guido claimed
I had no right to give nor he to take;
We being in estrangement, soul from soul:
Till, when I sought help, the Archbishop smiled,
Inquiring into privacies of life,
—Said I was blameable—(he stands for God)
Nowise entitled to exemption there.
Then I obeyed,—as surely had obeyed
Were the injunction "Since your husband bids,
"Swallow the burning coal he proffers you!"
But I did wrong, and he gave wrong advice
Though he were thrice Archbishop,—that, I know!—
Now I have got to die and see things clear.
Remember I was barely twelve years old—
A child at marriage: I was let alone
For weeks, I told you, lived my child-life still
Even at Arezzo, when I woke and found
First … but I need not think of that again—
Over and ended! Try and take the sense
Of what I signify, if it must be so.
After the first, my husband, for hate's sake,
Said one eve, when the simpler cruelty
Seemed somewhat dull at edge and fit to bear,
"We have been man and wife six months almost:
"How long is this your comedy to last?
"Go this night to my chamber, not your own!"
At which word, I did rush—most true the charge—
And gain the Archbishop's house—he stands for God—
And fall upon my knees and clasp his feet,
Praying him hinder what my estranged soul
Refused to bear, though patient of the rest:
"Place me within a convent," I implored—
"Let me henceforward lead the virgin life
"You praise in Her you bid me imitate!"
What did he answer? "Folly of ignorance!
"Know, daughter, circumstances make or mar
"Virginity,—'t is virtue or 't is vice.
"That which was glory in the Mother of God
"Had been, for instance, damnable in Eve
"Created to be mother of mankind.
"Had Eve, in answer to her Maker's speech
"'Be fruitful, multiply, replenish earth'—
"Pouted 'But I choose rather to remain
"'Single'—why, she had spared herself forthwith
"Further probation by the apple and snake,
"Been pushed straight out of Paradise! For see—
"If motherhood be qualified impure,
"I catch you making God command Eve sin!
"—A blasphemy so like these Molinists',
"I must suspect you dip into their books."
Then he pursued "'T was in your covenant!"

No! There my husband never used deceit.
He never did by speech nor act imply
"Because of our souls' yearning that we meet
"And mix in soul through flesh, which yours and mine
"Wear and impress, and make their visible selves,
"—All which means, for the love of you and me,
"Let us become one flesh, being one soul!"
He only stipulated for the wealth;
Honest so far. But when he spoke as plain—
Dreadfully honest also—"Since our souls
"Stand each from each, a whole world's width between,
"Give me the fleshly vesture I can reach
"And rend and leave just fit for hell to burn!"—
Why, in God's name, for Guido's soul's own sake
Imperilled by polluting mine,—I say,
I did resist; would I had overcome!

My heart died out at the Archbishop's smile;
It seemed so stale and worn a way o' the world,
As though 't were nature frowning—"Here is Spring,
"The sun shines as he shone at Adam's fall,
"The earth requires that warmth reach everywhere:
"What, must your patch of snow be saved forsooth
"Because you rather fancy snow than flowers?"
Something in this style he began with me.
Last he said, savagely for a good man,
"This explains why you call your husband harsh,
"Harsh to you, harsh to whom you love. God's Bread!
"The poor Count has to manage a mere child
"Whose parents leave untaught the simplest things
"Their duty was and privilege to teach,—
"Good wives' instruction, gossips' lore: they laugh
"And leave the Count the task,—or leave it me!"
Then I resolved to tell a frightful thing.
"I am not ignorant,—know what I say,
"Declaring this is sought for hate, not love.
"Sir, you may hear things like almighty God.
"I tell you that my housemate, yes—the priest
"My husband's brother, Canon Girolamo—
"Has taught me what depraved and misnamed love
"Means, and what outward signs denote the sin,
"For he solicits me and says he loves,
"The idle young priest with nought else to do.
"My husband sees this, knows this, and lets be.
"Is it your counsel I bear this beside?"
"—More scandal, and against a priest this time!
"What, 't is the Canon now?"—less snappishly—
"Rise up, my child, for such a child you are,
"The rod were too advanced a punishment!
"Let's try the honeyed cake. A parable!
"'Without a parable spake He not to them.'
"There was a ripe round long black toothsome fruit,
"Even a flower-fig, the prime boast of May:
"And, to the tree, said … either the spirit o' the fig,
"Or, if we bring in men, the gardener,
"Archbishop of the orchard—had I time
"To try o' the two which fits in best: indeed
"It might be the Creator's self, but then
"The tree should bear an apple, I suppose,—
"Well, anyhow, one with authority said
"'Ripe fig, burst skin, regale the fig-pecker—
"'The bird whereof thou art a perquisite!'
"'Nay,' with a flounce, replied the restif fig,
"'I much prefer to keep my pulp myself:
"'He may go breakfastless and dinnerless,
"'Supperless of one crimson seed, for me!'
"So, back she flopped into her bunch of leaves.
"He flew off, left her,—did the natural lord,—
"And lo, three hundred thousand bees and wasps
"Found her out, feasted on her to the shuck:
"Such gain the fig's that gave its bird no bite!
"The moral,—fools elude their proper lot,
"Tempt other fools, get ruined all alike.
"Therefore go home, embrace your husband quick!
"Which if his Canon brother chance to see,
"He will the sooner back to book again."

So, home I did go; so, the worst befell:
So, I had proof the Archbishop was just man,
And hardly that, and certainly no more.
For, miserable consequence to me,
My husband's hatred waxed nor waned at all,
His brother's boldness grew effrontery soon,
And my last stay and comfort in myself
Was forced from me: henceforth I looked to God
Only, nor cared my desecrated soul
Should have fair walls, gay windows for the world.
God's glimmer, that came through the ruin-top,
Was witness why all lights were quenched inside:
Henceforth I asked God counsel, not mankind.

So, when I made the effort, freed myself,
They said—"No care to save appearance here!
"How cynic,—when, how wanton, were enough!"
—Adding, it all came of my mother's life—
My own real mother, whom I never knew,
Who did wrong (if she needs must have done wrong)
Through being all her life, not my four years,
At mercy of the hateful: every beast
O' the field was wont to break that fountain-fence,
Trample the silver into mud so murk
Heaven could not find itself reflected there.
Now they cry "Out on her, who, plashy pool,
"Bequeathed turbidity and bitterness
"To the daughter-stream where Guido dipt and drank!"
Well, since she had to bear this brand—let me!
The rather do I understand her now,
From my experience of what hate calls love,—
Much love might be in what their love called hate.
If she sold … what they call, sold … me her child—
I shall believe she hoped in her poor heart
That I at least might try be good and pure,
Begin to live untempted, not go doomed
And done with ere once found in fault, as she.
Oh and, my mother, it all came to this?
Why should I trust those that speak ill of you,
When I mistrust who speaks even well of them?
Why, since all bound to do me good, did harm,
May not you, seeming as you harmed me most,
Have meant to do most good—and feed your child
From bramble-bush, whom not one orchard-tree
But drew bough back from, nor let one fruit fall?
This it was for you sacrificed your babe?
Gained just this, giving your heart's hope away
As I might give mine, loving it as you,
If … but that never could be asked of me!

There, enough! I have my support again,
Again the knowledge that my babe was, is,
Will be mine only. Him, by death, I give
Outright to God, without a further care,—
But not to any parent in the world,—
So to be safe: why is it we repine?
What guardianship were safer could we choose?
All human plans and projects come to nought:
My life, and what I know of other lives,
Prove that: no plan nor project! God shall care!

And now you are not tired? How patient then
All of you,—Oh yes, patient this long while
Listening, and understanding, I am sure!
Four days ago, when I was sound and well
And like to live, no one would understand.
People were kind, but smiled "And what of him,
"Your friend, whose tonsure the rich dark-brown hides?
"There, there!—your lover, do we dream he was?
"A priest too—never were such naughtiness!
"Still, he thinks many a long think, never fear,
"After the shy pale lady,—lay so light
"For a moment in his arms, the lucky one!"
And so on: wherefore should I blame you much?
So we are made, such difference in minds,
Such difference too in eyes that see the minds!
That man, you misinterpret and misprise—
The glory of his nature, I had thought,
Shot itself out in white light, blazed the truth
Through every atom of his act with me:
Yet where I point you, through the crystal shrine,
Purity in quintessence, one dew-drop,
You all descry a spider in the midst.
One says "The head of it is plain to see,"
And one, "They are the feet by which I judge,"
All say, "Those films were spun by nothing else."

Then, I must lay my babe away with God,
Nor think of him again, for gratitude.
Yes, my last breath shall wholly spend itself
In one attempt more to disperse the stain,
The mist from other breath fond mouths have made,
About a lustrous and pellucid soul:
So that, when I am gone but sorrow stays,
And people need assurance in their doubt
If God yet have a servant, man a friend,
The weak a saviour and the vile a foe,—
Let him be present, by the name invoked,
Giuseppe-Maria Caponsacchi!

There,
Strength comes already with the utterance!
I will remember once more for his sake
The sorrow: for he lives and is belied.
Could he be here, how he would speak for me!
I had been miserable three drear years
In that dread palace and lay passive now,
When I first learned there could be such a man.
Thus it fell: I was at a public play,
In the last days of Carnival last March,
Brought there I knew not why, but now know well.
My husband put me where I sat, in front;
Then crouched down, breathed cold through me from behind,
Stationed i' the shadow,—none in front could see,—
I, it was, faced the stranger-throng beneath,
The crowd with upturned faces, eyes one stare,
Voices one buzz. I looked but to the stage,
Whereon two lovers sang and interchanged
"True life is only love, love only bliss:
"I love thee—thee I love!" then they embraced.
I looked thence to the ceiling and the walls,—
Over the crowd, those voices and those eyes,—
My thoughts went through the roof and out, to Rome
On wings of music, waft of measured words,—
Set me down there, a happy child again
Sure that to-morrow would be festa-day,
Hearing my parents praise past festas more,
And seeing they were old if I was young,
Yet wondering why they still would end discourse
With "We must soon go, you abide your time,
"And,—might we haply see the proper friend
"Throw his arm over you and make you safe!"

Sudden I saw him; into my lap there fell
A foolish twist of comfits, broke my dream
And brought me from the air and laid me low,
As ruined as the soaring bee that's reached
(So Pietro told me at the Villa once)
By the dust-handful. There the comfits lay:
I looked to see who flung them, and I faced
This Caponsacchi, looking up in turn.
Ere I could reason out why, I felt sure,
Whoever flung them, his was not the hand,—
Up rose the round face and good-natured grin
Of one who, in effect, had played the prank,
From covert close beside the earnest face,—
Fat waggish Conti, friend of all the world.
He was my husband's cousin, privileged
To throw the thing: the other, silent, grave,
Solemn almost, saw me, as I saw him.

There is a psalm Don Celestine recites,
"Had I a dove's wings, how I fain would flee!"
The psalm runs not "I hope, I pray for wings,"—
Not "If wings fall from heaven, I fix them fast,"—
Simply "How good it were to fly and rest,
"Have hope now, and one day expect content!
"How well to do what I shall never do!"
So I said "Had there been a man like that,
"To lift me with his strength out of all strife
"Into the calm, how I could fly and rest!
"I have a keeper in the garden here
"Whose sole employment is to strike me low
"If ever I, for solace, seek the sun.
"Life means with me successful feigning death,
"Lying stone-like, eluding notice so,
"Forgoing here the turf and there the sky.
"Suppose that man had been instead of this!"

Presently Conti laughed into my ear,
—Had tripped up to the raised place where I sat—
"Cousin, I flung them brutishly and hard!
"Because you must be hurt, to look austere
"As Caponsacchi yonder, my tall friend
"A-gazing now. Ah, Guido, you so close?
"Keep on your knees, do! Beg her to forgive!
"My cornet battered like a cannon-ball.
"Good-bye, I'm gone!"—nor waited the reply.

That night at supper, out my husband broke,
"Why was that throwing, that buffoonery?
"Do you think I am your dupe? What man would dare
"Throw comfits in a stranger lady's lap?
"'T was knowledge of you bred such insolence
"In Caponsacchi; he dared shoot the bolt,
"Using that Conti for his stalking-horse.
"How could you see him this once and no more,
"When he is always haunting hereabout
"At the street-corner or the palace-side,
"Publishing my shame and your impudence?
"You are a wanton,—I a dupe, you think?
"O Christ, what hinders that I kill her quick?"
Whereat he drew his sword and feigned a thrust.

All this, now,—being not so strange to me,
Used to such misconception day by day
And broken-in to bear,—I bore, this time,
More quietly than woman should perhaps;
Repeated the mere truth and held my tongue.

Then he said, "Since you play the ignorant,
"I shall instruct you. This amour,—commenced
"Or finished or midway in act, all's one,—
"'T is the town-talk; so my revenge shall be.
"Does he presume because he is a priest?
"I warn him that the sword I wear shall pink
"His lily-scented cassock through and through,
"Next time I catch him underneath your eaves!"
But he had threatened with the sword so oft
And, after all, not kept his promise. All
I said was "Let God save the innocent!
"Moreover death is far from a bad fate.
"I shall go pray for you and me, not him;
"And then I look to sleep, come death or, worse,
"Life." So, I slept.

There may have elapsed a week,
When Margherita,—called my waiting-maid,
Whom it is said my husband found too fair—
Who stood and heard the charge and the reply,
Who never once would let the matter rest
From that night forward, but rang changes still
On this the thrust and that the shame, and how
Good cause for jealousy cures jealous fools,
And what a paragon was this same priest
She talked about until I stopped my ears,—
She said, "A week is gone; you comb your hair,
"Then go mope in a corner, cheek on palm,
"Till night comes round again,—so, waste a week
"As if your husband menaced you in sport.
"Have not I some acquaintance with his tricks?
"Oh no, he did not stab the serving-man
"Who made and sang the rhymes about me once!
"For why? They sent him to the wars next day.
"Nor poisoned he the foreigner, my friend
"Who wagered on the whiteness of my breast,—
"The swarth skins of our city in dispute:
"For, though he paid me proper compliment,
"The Count well knew he was besotted with
"Somebody else, a skin as black as ink,
"(As all the town knew save my foreigner)
"He found and wedded presently,—'Why need
"'Better revenge?'—the Count asked. But what's here?
"A priest that does not fight, and cannot wed,
"Yet must be dealt with! If the Count took fire
"For the poor pastime of a minute,—me
"What were the conflagration for yourself,
"Countess and lady-wife and all the rest?
"The priest will perish; you will grieve too late:
"So shall the city-ladies' handsomest
"Frankest and liberalest gentleman
"Die for you, to appease a scurvy dog
"Hanging's too good for. Is there no escape?
"Were it not simple Christian charity
"To warn the priest be on his guard,—save him
"Assured death, save yourself from causing it?
"I meet him in the street. Give me a glove,
"A ring to show for token! Mum's the word!"

I answered "If you were, as styled, my maid,
"I would command you: as you are, you say,
"My husband's intimate,—assist his wife
"Who can do nothing but entreat 'Be still!'
"Even if you speak truth and a crime is planned,
"Leave help to God as I am forced to do!
"There is no other help, or we should craze,
"Seeing such evil with no human cure.
"Reflect that God, who makes the storm desist,
"Can make an angry violent heart subside.
"Why should we venture teach Him governance?
"Never address me on this subject more!"

Next night she said "But I went, all the same,
"—Ay, saw your Caponsacchi in his house,
"And come back stuffed with news I must outpour.
"I told him 'Sir, my mistress is a stone:
"'Why should you harm her for no good you get?
"'For you do harm her—prowl about our place
"'With the Count never distant half the street,
"'Lurking at every corner, would you look!
"T is certain she has witched you with a spell.
"'Are there not other beauties at your beck?
"'We all know, Donna This and Monna That
"'Die for a glance of yours, yet here you gaze!
"'Go make them grateful, leave the stone its cold!'
"And he—oh, he turned first white and then red,
"And then—'To her behest I bow myself,
"'Whom I love with my body and my soul:
"'Only a word i' the bowing! See, I write
"'One little word, no harm to see or hear!
"'Then, fear no further!' This is what he wrote.
"I know you cannot read,—therefore, let me!
"'My idol!'" …

But I took it from her hand
And tore it into shreds. "Why, join the rest
"Who harm me? Have I ever done you wrong?
"People have told me 't is you wrong myself:
"Let it suffice I either feel no wrong
"Or else forgive it,—yet you turn my foe!
"The others hunt me and you throw a noose!"

She muttered "Have your wilful way!" I slept.

Whereupon … no, I leave my husband out
It is not to do him more hurt, I speak.
Let it suffice, when misery was most,
One day, I swooned and got a respite so.
She stooped as I was slowly coming to,
This Margherita, ever on my trace,
And whispered—"Caponsacchi!"

If I drowned,
But woke afloat i' the wave with upturned eyes,
And found their first sight was a star! I turned—
For the first time, I let her have her will,
Heard passively,—"The imposthume at such head,
"One touch, one lancet-puncture would relieve,—
"And still no glance the good physician's way
"Who rids you of the torment in a trice!
"Still he writes letters you refuse to hear.
"He may prevent your husband, kill himself,
"So desperate and all fordone is he!
"Just hear the pretty verse he made to-day!
"A sonnet from Mirtillo. 'Peerless fair …'
"All poetry is difficult to read,
"—The sense of it is, anyhow, he seeks
"Leave to contrive you an escape from hell,
"And for that purpose asks an interview.
"I can write, I can grant it in your name,
"Or, what is better, lead you to his house.
"Your husband dashes you against the stones;
"This man would place each fragment in a shrine:
"You hate him, love your husband!"

I returned
"It is not true I love my husband,—no,
"Nor hate this man. I listen while you speak,
"—Assured that what you say is false, the same:
"Much as when once, to me a little child,
"A rough gaunt man in rags, with eyes on fire,
"A crowd of boys and idlers at his heels,
"Rushed as I crossed the Square, and held my head
"In his two hands, 'Here's she will let me speak!
"'You little girl, whose eyes do good to mine,
"'I am the Pope, am Sextus, now the Sixth;
"'And that Twelfth Innocent, proclaimed to-day,
"'Is Lucifer disguised in human flesh!
"'The angels, met in conclave, crowned me!'—thus
"He gibbered and I listened; but I knew
"All was delusion, ere folk interposed
"'Unfasten him, the maniac!' Thus I know
"All your report of Caponsacchi false,
"Folly or dreaming; I have seen so much
"By that adventure at the spectacle,
"The face I fronted that one first, last time:
"He would belie it by such words and thoughts.
"Therefore while you profess to show him me,
"I ever see his own face. Get you gone!"

"—That will I, nor once open mouth again,—
"No, by Saint Joseph and the Holy Ghost!
"On your head be the damage, so adieu!"
And so more days, more deeds I must forget,
Till … what a strange thing now is to declare!
Since I say anything, say all if true!
And how my life seems lengthened as to serve!
It may be idle or inopportune,
But, true?—why, what was all I said but truth,
Even when I found that such as are untrue
Could only take the truth in through a lie?
Now—I am speaking truth to the Truth's self:
God will lend credit to my words this time.

It had got half through April. I arose
One vivid daybreak,—who had gone to bed
In the old way my wont those last three years,
Careless until, the cup drained, I should die.
The last sound in my ear, the over-night,
Had been a something let drop on the sly
In prattle by Margherita, "Soon enough
"Gaieties end, now Easter's past: a week,
"And the Archbishop gets him back to Rome,—
"Everyone leaves the town for Rome, this Spring,—
"Even Caponsacchi, out of heart and hope,
"Resigns himself and follows with the flock."
I heard this drop and drop like rain outside
Fast-falling through the darkness while she spoke:
So had I heard with like indifference,
"And Michael's pair of wings will arrive first
"At Rome, to introduce the company,
"And bear him from our picture where he fights
"Satan,—expect to have that dragon loose
"And never a defender!"—my sole thought
Being still, as night came, "Done, another day!
"How good to sleep and so get nearer death!"—
When, what, first thing at daybreak, pierced the sleep
With a summons to me? Up I sprang alive,
Light in me, light without me, everywhere
Change! A broad yellow sunbeam was let fall
From heaven to earth,—a sudden drawbridge lay,
Along which marched a myriad merry motes,
Mocking the flies that crossed them and recrossed
In rival dance, companions new-born too.
On the house-eaves, a dripping shag of weed
Shook diamonds on each dull grey lattice-square,
As first one, then another bird leapt by,
And light was off, and lo was back again,
Always with one voice,—where are two such joys?—
The blessed building-sparrow! I stepped forth,
Stood on the terrace,—o'er the roofs, such sky!
My heart sang, "I too am to go away,
"I too have something I must care about,
"Carry away with me to Rome, to Rome!
"The bird brings hither sticks and hairs and wool,
"And nowhere else i' the world; what fly breaks rank,
"Falls out of the procession that befits,
"From window here to window there, with all
"The world to choose,—so well he knows his course?
"I have my purpose and my motive too,
"My march to Rome, like any bird or fly!
"Had I been dead! How right to be alive!
"Last night I almost prayed for leave to die,
"Wished Guido all his pleasure with the sword
"Or the poison,—poison, sword, was but a trick,
"Harmless, may God forgive him the poor jest!
"My life is charmed, will last till I reach Rome!
"Yesterday, but for the sin,—ah, nameless be
"The deed I could have dared against myself!
"Now—see if I will touch an unripe fruit,
"And risk the health I want to have and use!
"Not to live, now, would be the wickedness,—
"For life means to make haste and go to Rome
"And leave Arezzo, leave all woes at once!"

Now, understand here, by no means mistake!
Long ago had I tried to leave that house
When it seemed such procedure would stop sin;
And still failed more the more I tried—at first
The Archbishop, as I told you,—next, our lord
The Governor,—indeed I found my way,
I went to the great palace where he rules,
Though I knew well 't was he who,—when I gave
A jewel or two, themselves had given me,
Back to my parents,—since they wanted bread,
They who had never let me want a nosegay,—he
Spoke of the jail for felons, if they kept
What was first theirs, then mine, so doubly theirs,
Though all the while my husband's most of all!
I knew well who had spoke the word wrought this:
Yet, being in extremity, I fled
To the Governor, as I say,—scarce opened lip
Whenthe cold cruel snicker close behind—
Guido was on my trace, already there,
Exchanging nod and wink for shrug and smile,
And I—pushed back to him and, for my pains
Paid with … but why remember what is past?
I sought out a poor friar the people call
The Roman, and confessed my sin which came
Of their sin,—that fact could not be repressed,—
The frightfulness of my despair in God:
And, feeling, through the grate, his horror shake,
Implored him, "Write for me who cannot write,
"Apprise my parents, make them rescue me!
"You bid me be courageous and trust God:
"Do you in turn dare somewhat, trust and write
"'Dear friends, who used to be my parents once,
"'And now declare you have no part in me,
"'This is some riddle I want wit to solve,
"'Since you must love me with no difference.
"'Even suppose you altered,—there's your hate,
"'To ask for: hate of you two dearest ones
"'I shall find liker love than love found here,
"'If husbands love their wives. Take me away
"'And hate me as you do the gnats and fleas,
"'Even the scorpions! How I shall rejoice!'
"Write that and save me!" And he promised—wrote
Or did not write; things never changed at all:
He was not like the Augustinian here!
Last, in a desperation I appealed
To friends, whoever wished me better days,
To Guillichini, that's of kin,—"What, I
"Travel to Rome with you? A flying gout
"Bids me deny my heart and mind my leg!"
Then I tried Conti, used to brave—laugh back
The louring thunder when his cousin scowled
At me protected by his presence: "You
"Who well know what you cannot save me from,—
"Carry me off! What frightens you, a priest?"
He shook his head, looked grave—"Above my strength!
"Guido has claws that scratch, shows feline teeth;
"A formidabler foe than I dare fret:
"Give me a dog to deal with, twice the size!
"Of course I am a priest and Canon too,
"But . . by the bye . . though both, not quite so bold
"As he, my fellow-Canon, brother-priest,
"The personage in such ill odour here
"Because of the reports—pure birth o' the brain!
"Our Caponsacchi, he's your true Saint George
"To slay the monster, set the Princess free,
"And have the whole High-Altar to himself:
'I always think so when I see that piece
"I' the Pieve, that's his church and mine, you know:
"Though you drop eyes at mention of his name!"

That name had got to take a half-grotesque
Half-ominous, wholly enigmatic sense,
Like any by-word, broken bit of song
Born with a meaning, changed by mouth and mouth
That mix it in a sneer or smile, as chance
Bids, till it now means nought but ugliness
And perhaps shame.

—All this intends to say,
That, over-night, the notion of escape
Had seemed distemper, dreaming; and the name,—
Not the man, but the name of him, thus made
Into a mockery and disgrace,—why, she
Who uttered it persistently, had laughed,
"I name his name, and there you start and wince
"As criminal from the red tongs' touch!"—yet now,
Now, as I stood letting morn bathe me bright,
Choosing which butterfly should bear my news,—
The white, the brown one, or that tinier blue,—
The Margherita, I detested so,
In she came—"The fine day, the good Spring time!
"What, up and out at window? That is best.
"No thought of Caponsacchi?—who stood there
"All night on one leg, like the sentry crane,
"Under the pelting of your water-spout—
"Looked last look at your lattice ere he leave
"Our city, bury his dead hope at Rome.
"Ay, go to looking-glass and make you fine,
"While he may die ere touch one least loose hair
"You drag at with the comb in such a rage!"

I turned—"Tell Caponsacchi he may come!"

"Tell him to come? Ah, but, for charity,
"A truce to fooling! Come? What,—come this eve?
"Peter and Paul! But I see through the trick!
"Yes, come, and take a flower-pot on his head,
"Flung from your terrace! No joke, sincere truth?"

How plainly I perceived hell flash and fade
O' the face of her,—the doubt that first paled joy,
Then, final reassurance I indeed
Was caught now, never to be free again!
What did I care?—who felt myself of force
To play with silk, and spurn the horsehair-springe.

"But—do you know that I have bade him come,
"And in your own name? I presumed so much,
"Knowing the thing you needed in your heart.
"But somehow—what had I to show in proof?
"He would not come: half-promised, that was all,
"And wrote the letters you refused to read.
"What is the message that shall move him now?"

"After the Ave Maria, at first dark,
"I will be standing on the terrace, say!"

"I would I had a good long lock of hair
"Should prove I was not lying! Never mind!"

Off she went—"May he not refuse, that's all—
"Fearing a trick!"

I answered, "He will come."
And, all day, I sent prayer like incense up
To God the strong, God the beneficent,
God ever mindful in all strife and strait,
Who, for our own good, makes the need extreme,
Till at the last He puts forth might and saves.
An old rhyme came into my head and rang
Of how a virgin, for the faith of God,
Hid herself, from the Paynims that pursued,
In a cave's heart; until a thunderstone,
Wrapped in a flame, revealed the couch and prey
And they laughed—"Thanks to lightning, ours at last!"
And she cried "Wrath of God, assert His love!
"Servant of God, thou fire, befriend His child!"
And lo, the fire she grasped at, fixed its flash,
Lay in her hand a calm cold dreadful sword
She brandished till pursuers strewed the ground,
So did the souls within them die away,
As o'er the prostrate bodies, sworded, safe,
She walked forth to the solitudes and Christ:
So should I grasp the lightning and be saved!

And still, as the day wore, the trouble grew
Whereby I guessed there would be born a star,
Until at an intense throe of the dusk,
I started up, was pushed, I dare to say,
Out on the terrace, leaned and looked at last
Where the deliverer waited me: the same
Silent and solemn face, I first descried
At the spectacle, confronted mine once more.

So was that minute twice vouchsafed me, so
The manhood, wasted then, was still at watch
To save me yet a second time: no change
Here, though all else changed in the changing world!

I spoke on the instant, as my duty bade,
In some such sense as this, whatever the phrase.

"Friend, foolish words were borne from you to me;
"Your soul behind them is the pure strong wind,
"Not dust and feathers which its breath may bear:
"These to the witless seem the wind itself,
"Since proving thus the first of it they feel.
"If by mischance you blew offence my way,
"The straws are dropt, the wind desists no whit,
"And how such strays were caught up in the street
"And took a motion from you, why inquire?
"I speak to the strong soul, no weak disguise.
"If it be truth,—why should I doubt it truth?—
"You serve God specially, as priests are bound,
"And care about me, stranger as I am,
"So far as wish my good,—that miracle
"I take to intimate He wills you serve
"By saving me,—what else can He direct?
"Here is the service. Since a long while now,
"I am in course of being put to death:
"While death concerned nothing but me, I bowed
"The head and bade, in heart, my husband strike.
"Now I imperil something more, it seems,
"Something that's truelier me than this myself,
"Something I trust in God and you to save.
"You go to Rome, they tell me: take me there,
"Put me back with my people!"

He replied—
The first word I heard ever from his lips,
All himself in it,—an eternity
Of speech, to match the immeasurable depth
O' the soul that then broke silence—"I am yours."

So did the star rise, soon to lead my step,
Lead on, nor pause before it should stand still
Above the House o' the Babe,—my babe to be,
That knew me first and thus made me know him,
That had his right of life and claim on mine,
And would not let me die till he was born,
But pricked me at the heart to save us both,
Saying "Have you the will? Leave God the way!"
And the way was Caponsacchi—"mine," thank God!
He was mine, he is mine, he will be mine.

No pause i' the leading and the light! I know,
Next night there was a cloud came, and not he:
But I prayed through the darkness till it broke
And let him shine. The second night, he came.

"The plan is rash; the project desperate:
"In such a flight needs must I risk your life,
"Give food for falsehood, folly or mistake,
"Ground for your husband's rancour and revenge"—
So he began again, with the same face.
I felt that, the same loyalty—one star
Turning now red that was so white before—
One service apprehended newly: just
A word of mine and there the white was back!

"No, friend, for you will take me! 'T is yourself
"Risk all, not I,—who let you, for I trust
"In the compensating great God: enough!
"I know you: when is it that you will come?"

"To-morrow at the day's dawn." Then I heard
What I should do: how to prepare for flight
And where to fly.

That night my husband bade
"—You, whom I loathe, beware you break my sleep
"This whole night! Couch beside me like the corpse
"I would you were!" The rest you know, I think—
How I found Caponsacchi and escaped.

And this man, men call sinner? Jesus Christ!
Of whom men said, with mouths Thyself mad'st once,
"He hath a devil"—say he was Thy saint,
My Caponsacchi! Shield and show—unshroud
In Thine own time the glory of the soul
If aught obscure,—if ink-spot, from vile pens
Scribbling a charge against him—(I was glad
Then, for the first time, that I could not write)—
Flirted his way, have flecked the blaze!

For me,
'T is otherwise: let men take, sift my thoughts
—Thoughts I throw like the flax for sun to bleach!
I did pray, do pray, in the prayer shall die,
"Oh, to have Caponsacchi for my guide!"
Ever the face upturned to mine, the hand
Holding my hand across the world,—a sense
That reads, as only such can read, the mark
God sets on woman, signifying so
She should—shall peradventure—be divine;
Yet 'ware, the while, how weakness mars the print
And makes confusion, leaves the thing men see,
—Not this man sees,—who from his soul, re-writes
The obliterated charter,—love and strength
Mending what's marred. "So kneels a votarist,
"Weeds some poor waste traditionary plot
"Where shrine once was, where temple yet may be,
"Purging the place but worshipping the while,
"By faith and not by sight, sight clearest so,—
"Such way the saints work,"—says Don Celestine.
But I, not privileged to see a saint
Of old when such walked earth with crown and palm,
If I call "saint" what saints call something else—
The saints must bear with me, impute the fault
To a soul i' the bud, so starved by ignorance,
Stinted of warmth, it will not blow this year
Nor recognize the orb which Spring-flowers know.
But if meanwhile some insect with a heart
Worth floods of lazy music, spendthrift joy—
Some fire-fly renounced Spring for my dwarfed cup,
Crept close to me, brought lustre for the dark,
Comfort against the cold,—what though excess
Of comfort should miscall the creature—sun?
What did the sun to hinder while harsh hands
Petal by petal, crude and colourless,
Tore me? This one heart gave me all the Spring!
Is all told? There's the journey: and where's time
To tell you how that heart burst out in shine?
Yet certain points do press on me too hard.
Each place must have a name, though I forget:
How strange it was—there where the plain begins
And the small river mitigates its flow—
When eve was fading fast, and my soul sank,
And he divined what surge of bitterness,
In overtaking me, would float me back
Whence I was carried by the striding day
So,—"This grey place was famous once," said he—
And he began that legend of the place
As if in answer to the unspoken fear,
And told me all about a brave man dead,
Which lifted me and let my soul go on!
How did he know too,—at that town's approach
By the rock-side,—that in coming near the signs
Of life, the house-roofs and the church and tower,
I saw the old boundary and wall o' the world
Rise plain as ever round me, hard and cold,
As if the broken circlet joined again,
Tightened itself about me with no break,—
As if the town would turn Arezzo's self,—
The husband there,—the friends my enemies,
All ranged against me, not an avenue
To try, but would be blocked and drive me back
On him,—this other, … oh the heart in that!
Did not he find, bring, put into my arms
A new-born babe?—and I saw faces beam
Of the young mother proud to teach me joy,
And gossips round expecting my surprise
At the sudden hole through earth that lets in heaven.
I could believe himself by his strong will
Had woven around me what I thought the world
We went along in, every circumstance,
Towns, flowers and faces, all things helped so well!
For, through the journey, was it natural
Such comfort should arise from first to last?
As I look back, all is one milky way;
Still bettered more, the more remembered, so
Do new stars bud while I but search for old,
And fill all gaps i' the glory, and grow him—
Him I now see make the shine everywhere.
Even at the last when the bewildered flesh,
The cloud of weariness about my soul
Clogging too heavily, sucked down all sense,—
Still its last voice was, "He will watch and care;
"Let the strength go, I am content: he stays!"
I doubt not he did stay and care for all—
From that sick minute when the head swam round,
And the eyes looked their last and died on him,
As in his arms he caught me, and, you say,
Carried me in, that tragical red eve,
And laid me where I next returned to life
In the other red of morning, two red plates
That crushed together, crushed the time between,
And are since then a solid fire to me,—
When in, my dreadful husband and the world
Broke,—and I saw him, master, by hell's right,
And saw my angel helplessly held back
By guards that helped the malice—the lamb prone,
The serpent towering and triumphant—then
Came all the strength back in a sudden swell,
I did for once see right, do right, give tongue
The adequate protest: for a worm must turn
If it would have its wrong observed by God.
I did spring up, attempt to thrust aside
That ice-block 'twixt the sun and me, lay low
The neutralizer of all good and truth.
If I sinned so,—never obey voice more
O' the Just and Terrible, who bids us—"Bear!"
Not—"Stand by, bear to see my angels bear!"
I am clear it was on impulse to serve God
Not save myself,—no—nor my child unborn!
Had I else waited patiently till now?—
Who saw my old kind parents, silly-sooth
And too much trustful, for their worst of faults,
Cheated, brow-beaten, stripped and starved, cast out
Into the kennel: I remonstrated,
Then sank to silence, for,—their woes at end,
Themselves gone,—only I was left to plague.
If only I was threatened and belied,
What matter? I could bear it and did bear;
It was a comfort, still one lot for all:
They were not persecuted for my sake
And I, estranged, the single happy one.
But when at last, all by myself I stood
Obeying the clear voice which bade me rise,
Not for my own sake but my babe unborn,
And take the angel's hand was sent to help—
And found the old adversary athwart the path—
Not my hand simply struck from the angel's, but
The very angel's self made foul i' the face
By the fiend who struck there,—that I would not bear,
That only I resisted! So, my first
And last resistance was invincible.
Prayers move God; threats, and nothing else, move men!
I must have prayed a man as he were God
When I implored the Governor to right
My parents' wrongs: the answer was a smile.
The Archbishop,—did I clasp his feet enough,
Hide my face hotly on them, while I told
More than I dared make my own mother know?
The profit was—compassion and a jest.
This time, the foolish prayers were done with, right
Used might, and solemnized the sport at once.
All was against the combat: vantage, mine?
The runaway avowed, the accomplice-wife,
In company with the plan-contriving priest?
Yet, shame thus rank and patent, I struck, bare,
At foe from head to foot in magic mail,
And off it withered, cobweb-armoury
Against the lightning! 'T was truth singed the lies
And saved me, not the vain sword nor weak speech!

You see, I will not have the service fail!
I say, the angel saved me: I am safe!
Others may want and wish, I wish nor want
One point o' the circle plainer, where I stand
Traced round about with white to front the world.
What of the calumny I came across,
What o' the way to the end?—the end crowns all.
The judges judged aright i' the main, gave me
The uttermost of my heart's desire, a truce
From torture and Arezzo, balm for hurt,
With the quiet nuns,—God recompense the good!
Who said and sang away the ugly past.
And, when my final fortune was revealed,
What safety while, amid my parents' arms,
My babe was given me! Yes, he saved my babe:
It would not have peeped forth, the bird-like thing,
Through that Arezzo noise and trouble: back
Had it returned nor ever let me see!
But the sweet peace cured all, and let me live
And give my bird the life among the leaves
God meant him! Weeks and months of quietude,
I could lie in such peace and learn so much—
Begin the task, I see how needful now,
Of understanding somewhat of my past,—
Know life a little, I should leave so soon.
Therefore, because this man restored my soul,
All has been right; I have gained my gain, enjoyed
As well as suffered,—nay, got foretaste too
Of better life beginning where this ends—
All through the breathing-while allowed me thus,
Which let good premonitions reach my soul
Unthwarted, and benignant influence flow
And interpenetrate and change my heart,
Uncrossed by what was wicked,—nay, unkind.
For, as the weakness of my time drew nigh,
Nobody did me one disservice more,
Spoke coldly or looked strangely, broke the love
I lay in the arms of, till my boy was born,
Born all in love, with nought to spoil the bliss
A whole long fortnight: in a life like mine
A fortnight filled with bliss is long and much.
All women are not mothers of a boy,
Though they live twice the length of my whole life,
And, as they fancy, happily all the same.
There I lay, then, all my great fortnight long,
As if it would continue, broaden out
Happily more and more, and lead to heaven:
Christmas before me,—was not that a chance?
I never realized God's birth before—
How He grew likest God in being born.
This time I felt like Mary, had my babe
Lying a little on my breast like hers.
So all went on till, just four days ago—
The night and the tap.

Oh it shall be success
To the whole of our poor family! My friends
… Nay, father and mother,—give me back my word!
They have been rudely stripped of life, disgraced
Like children who must needs go clothed too fine,
Carry the garb of Carnival in Lent.
If they too much affected frippery,
They have been punished and submit themselves,
Say no word: all is over, they see God
Who will not be extreme to mark their fault
Or He had granted respite: they are safe.
For that most woeful man my husband once,
Who, needing respite, still draws vital breath,
I—pardon him? So far as lies in me,
I give him for his good the life he takes,
Praying the world will therefore acquiesce.
Let him make God amends,—none, none to me
Who thank him rather that, whereas strange fate
Mockingly styled him husband and me wife,
Himself this way at least pronounced divorce,
Blotted the marriage-bond: this blood of mine
Flies forth exultingly at any door,
Washes the parchment white, and thanks the blow.
We shall not meet in this world nor the next,
But where will God be absent? In His face
Is light, but in His shadow healing too:
Let Guido touch the shadow and be healed!
And as my presence was importunate,—
My earthly good, temptation and a snare,—
Nothing about me but drew somehow down
His hate upon me,—somewhat so excused
Therefore, since hate was thus the truth of him,—
May my evanishment for evermore
Help further to relieve the heart that cast
Such object of its natural loathing forth!
So he was made; he nowise made himself:
I could not love him, but his mother did.
His soul has never lain beside my soul
But for the unresisting body.—thanks!
He burned that garment spotted by the flesh.
Whatever he touched is rightly ruined: plague
It caught, and disinfection it had craved
Still but for Guido; I am saved through him
So as by fire; to him—thanks and farewell!

Even for my babe, my boy, there's safety thence—
From the sudden death of me, I mean: we poor
Weak souls, how we endeavour to be strong!
I was already using up my life,—
This portion, now, should do him such a good,
This other go to keep off such an ill!
The great life; see, a breath and it is gone!
So is detached, so left all by itself
The little life, the fact which means so much.
Shall not God stoop the kindlier to His work,
His marvel of creation, foot would crush,
Now that the hand He trusted to receive
And hold it, lets the treasure fall perforce?
The better; He shall have in orphanage
His own way all the clearlier: if my babe
Outlived the hour—and he has lived two weeks—
It is through God who knows I am not by.
Who is it makes the soft gold hair turn black,
And sets the tongue, might lie so long at rest,
Trying to talk? Let us leave God alone!
Why should I doubt He will explain in time
What I feel now, but fail to find the words?
My babe nor was, nor is, nor yet shall be
Count Guido Franceschini's child at all—
Only his mother's, born of love not hate!
So shall I have my rights in after-time.
It seems absurd, impossible to-day;
So seems so much else, not explained but known!

Ah! Friends, I thank and bless you every one!
No more now: I withdraw from earth and man
To my own soul, compose myself for God.

Well, and there is more! Yes, my end of breath
Shall bear away my soul in being true!
He is still here, not outside with the world,
Here, here, I have him in his rightful place!
'T is now, when I am most upon the move,
I feel for what I verily find—again
The face, again the eyes, again, through all,
The heart and its immeasurable love
Of my one friend, my only, all my own,
Who put his breast between the spears and me.
Ever with Caponsacchi! Otherwise
Here alone would be failure, loss to me
How much more loss to him, with life debarred
From giving life, love locked from love's display,
The day-star stopped its task that makes night morn!
O lover of my life, O soldier-saint,
No work begun shall ever pause for death!
Love will be helpful to me more and more
I' the coming course, the new path I must tread—
My weak hand in thy strong hand, strong for that!
Tell him that if I seem without him now,
That's the world's insight! Oh, he understands!
He is at Civita—do I once doubt
The world again is holding us apart?
He had been here, displayed in my behalf
The broad brow that reverberates the truth,
And flashed the word God gave him, back to man!
I know where the free soul is flown! My fate
Will have been hard for even him to bear:
Let it confirm him in the trust of God,
Showing how holily he dared the deed!
And, for the rest,—say, from the deed, no touch
Of harm came, but all good, all happiness,
Not one faint fleck of failure! Why explain?
What I see, oh, he sees and how much more!
Tell him,—I know not wherefore the true word
Should fade and fall unuttered at the last—
It was the name of him I sprang to meet
When came the knock, the summons and the end.
"My great heart, my strong hand are back again!"
I would have sprung to these, beckoning across
Murder and hell gigantic and distinct
O' the threshold, posted to exclude me heaven:
He is ordained to call and I to come!
Do not the dead wear flowers when dressed for God?
Say,—I am all in flowers from head to foot!
Say,—not one flower of all he said and did,
Might seem to flit unnoticed, fade unknown,
But dropped a seed, has grown a balsam-tree
Whereof the blossoming perfumes the place
At this supreme of moments! He is a priest;
He cannot marry therefore, which is right:
I think he would not marry if he could.
Marriage on earth seems such a counterfeit,
Mere imitation of the inimitable:
In heaven we have the real and true and sure.
'T is there they neither marry nor are given
In marriage but are as the angels: right,
Oh how right that is, how like Jesus Christ
To say that! Marriage-making for the earth,
With gold so much,—birth, power, repute so much,
Or beauty, youth so much, in lack of these!
Be as the angels rather, who, apart,
Know themselves into one, are found at length
Married, but marry never, no, nor give
In marriage; they are man and wife at once
When the true time is: here we have to wait
Not so long neither! Could we by a wish
Have what we will and get the future now,
Would we wish aught done undone in the past?
So, let him wait God's instant men call years;
Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul,
Do out the duty! Through such souls alone
God stooping shows sufficient of His light
For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise.

poem by from The Ring and the BookReport problemRelated quotes
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The Song We Sing Together In Joy Uplifts Us

THE SONG WE SING TOGETHER IN JOY UPLIFTS US

The song we sing together in joy uplifts us-
The praise of God is our own praise and inspiration -
When we pray with others
We become better with them -
The joy of Hallel
Is what gives the holiday its true tone-
Sing and praise-
Rejoice and love-
Our souls more near
God above.

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