Life and Fate
Life and Fate
by the sin of birth:
when then can we
from our history?
How white and level the plain
How white and level the plain
That stretches to the sea-ridge
The sea-ridge beyond which
The sea roars in and out
And laps against the giant rocks
I startle - the moon’s light
Which I thought feeble --
Clearly the plain before me lights
And the dark bosom of the sea
Entering and going silver shines
When the moon-rays with the dark waves commix
No sound save for my steps and the sea’s waves
And here and there a few cool gusts of wind.
No-body save for me - the rest so silent is:
The temples high above in black silhouette
Rise like pointed turrets to the sky
In silent draped and in dress funereal
I walk, I think, I look at the seas,
Tears come to my eyes and fall and fall
- quotes about Moon
- quotes about sound
- quotes about walking
- quotes about black
- quotes about wind
- quotes about white
- quotes about height
- quotes about sky
- quotes about eyes
Who Can See And Feel / The Trees As They Are
WHO CAN SEE AND FEEL/ THE TREES AS THEY ARE
Who can see and feel
The trees as they are
The wind as it rains
The light as it trails
The clouds of dust
Who can know the way
Of a stream
That feels deeper
Into the heart
Of all water sounds?
And beyond all being
Who can find the name of G-d
When no one knows
Who or why or where of how
All is Great and Good?
Look How Limited And Dim That Point Of View Is
Racists can't help but be crazy.
Look how limited and dim that point of view is!
And to the extreme the protection of insecurities.
Racists can't help but be crazy.
Remember those cowboy and indian days.
And the cavalry lead by John Wayne...
Saved every studio making movies,
In old Hollywood.
And our sense of greatness,
Was raised to new heights.
We taught our picked enemies how to fight!
Look how limited and dim that point of view is!
Racists can't help but be crazy.
And in denial many wont admit it in public.
As if their mindset does not reflect their ideals.
Any human being can feel the insignifance of it!
Racists can't help but be crazy.
Look how limited and dim that point of view is!
And to the extreme the protection of insecurities.
Look how the punching of holes in a once floating boat,
Racists can't help but be crazy.
And many just lay on the beach to tan.
Without knowing a thing about swimming!
Or which deeds to uphold in respect and demand.
Look how limited and dim that point of view is!
And I'm just observing it.
Not passing judgement on this at all.
I choose not to stall my forward pace.
I choose to widen my perceptions...
As I move my mind into a broader space.
The Landgrave Hermann held a gathering
Of minstrels, minnesingers, troubadours,
At Wartburg in his palace, and the knight,
Sir Tannhauser of France, the greatest bard,
Inspired with heavenly visions, and endowed
With apprehension and rare utterance
Of noble music, fared in thoughtful wise
Across the Horsel meadows. Full of light,
And large repose, the peaceful valley lay,
In the late splendor of the afternoon,
And level sunbeams lit the serious face
Of the young knight, who journeyed to the west,
Towards the precipitous and rugged cliffs,
Scarred, grim, and torn with savage rifts and chasms,
That in the distance loomed as soft and fair
And purple as their shadows on the grass.
The tinkling chimes ran out athwart the air,
Proclaiming sunset, ushering evening in,
Although the sky yet glowed with yellow light.
The ploughboy, ere he led his cattle home,
In the near meadow, reverently knelt,
And doffed his cap, and duly crossed his breast,
Whispering his 'Ave Mary,' as he heard
The pealing vesper-bell. But still the knight,
Unmindful of the sacred hour announced,
Disdainful or unconscious, held his course.
'Would that I also, like yon stupid wight,
Could kneel and hail the Virgin and believe!'
He murmured bitterly beneath his breath.
'Were I a pagan, riding to contend
For the Olympic wreath, O with what zeal,
What fire of inspiration, would I sing
The praises of the gods! How may my lyre
Glorify these whose very life I doubt?
The world is governed by one cruel God,
Who brings a sword, not peace. A pallid Christ,
Unnatural, perfect, and a virgin cold,
They give us for a heaven of living gods,
Beautiful, loving, whose mere names were song;
A creed of suffering and despair, walled in
On every side by brazen boundaries,
That limit the soul's vision and her hope
To a red hell or and unpeopled heaven.
Yea, I am lost already,-even now
Am doomed to flaming torture for my thoughts.
O gods! O gods! where shall my soul find peace?'
He raised his wan face to the faded skies,
Now shadowing into twilight; no response
Came from their sunless heights; no miracle,
As in the ancient days of answering gods.
With a long, shuddering sigh he glanced to earth,
Finding himself among the Horsel cliffs.
Gray, sullen, gaunt, they towered on either side;
Scant shrubs sucked meagre life between the rifts
Of their huge crags, and made small darker spots
Upon their wrinkled sides; the jaded horse
Stumbled upon loose, rattling, fallen stones,
Amidst the gathering dusk, and blindly fared
Through the weird, perilous pass. As darkness waxed,
And an oppressive mystery enwrapped
The roadstead and the rocks, Sir Tannhauser
Fancied he saw upon the mountain-side
The fluttering of white raiment. With a sense
Of wild joy and horror, he gave pause,
For his sagacious horse that reeked of sweat,
Trembling in every limb, confirmed his thought,
That nothing human scaled that haunted cliff.
The white thing seemed descending,-now a cloud
It looked, and now a rag of drifted mist,
Torn in the jagged gorge precipitous,
And now an apparition clad in white,
Shapely and real,-then he lost it quite,
Gazing on nothing with blank, foolish face.
As with wide eyes he stood, he was aware
Of a strange splendor at his very side,
A presence and a majesty so great,
That ere he saw, he felt it was divine.
He turned, and, leaping from his horse, fell prone,
In speechless adoration, on the earth,
Before the matchless goddess, who appeared
With no less freshness of immortal youth
Than when first risen from foam of Paphian seas.
He heard delicious strains of melody,
Such as his highest muse had ne'er attained,
Float in the air, while in the distance rang,
Harsh and discordant, jarring with those tones,
The gallop of his frightened horse's hoofs,
Clattering in sudden freedom down the pass.
A voice that made all music dissonance
Then thrilled through heart and flesh of that prone knight,
Triumphantly: 'The gods need but appear,
And their usurped thrones are theirs again!'
Then tenderly: 'Sweet knight, I pray thee, rise;
Worship me not, for I desire thy love.
Look on me, follow me, for I am fain
Of thy fair, human face.' He rose and looked,
Stirred by that heavenly flattery to the soul.
Her hair, unbraided and unfilleted,
Rained in a glittering shower to the ground,
And cast forth lustre. Round her zone was clasped
The scintillant cestus, stiff with flaming gold,
Thicker with restless gems than heaven with stars.
She might have flung the enchanted wonder forth;
Her eyes, her slightest gesture would suffice
To bind all men in blissful slavery.
She sprang upon the mountain's dangerous side,
With feet that left their print in flowers divine,-
Flushed amaryllis and blue hyacinth,
Impurpled amaranth and asphodel,
Dewy with nectar, and exhaling scents
Richer than all the roses of mid-June.
The knight sped after her, with wild eyes fixed
Upon her brightness, as she lightly leapt
From crag to crag, with flying auburn hair,
Like a gold cloud, that lured him ever on,
Higher and higher up the haunted cliff.
At last amidst a grove of pines she paused,
Until he reached her, breathing hard with haste,
Delight, and wonder. Then upon his hand
She placed her own, and all his blood at once
Tingled and hotly rushed to brow and cheek,
At the supreme caress; but the mere touch
Infused fresh life, and when she looked at him
With gracious tenderness, he felt himself
Strong suddenly to bear the blinding light
Of those great eyes. 'Dear knight,' she murmured low,
'For love of me, wilt thou accord this boon,-
To grace my weary home in banishment?'
His hungry eyes gave answer ere he spoke,
In tones abrupt that startled his own ears
With their strange harshness; but with thanks profuse
She guided him, still holding his cold hand
In her warm, dainty palm, unto a cave,
Whence a rare glory issued, and a smell
Of spice and roses, frankincense and balm.
They entering stood within a marble hall,
With straight, slim pillars, at whose farther end
The goddess led him to a spiral flight
Of stairs, descending always 'midst black gloom
Into the very bowels of the earth.
Down these, with fearful swiftness, they made way,
The knight's feet touching not the solid stair,
But sliding down as in a vexing dream,
Blind, feeling but that hand divine that still
Empowered him to walk on empty air.
Then he was dazzled by a sudden blaze,
In vast palace filled with reveling folk.
Cunningly pictured on the ivory walls
Were rolling hills, cool lakes, and boscage green,
And all the summer landscape's various pomp.
The precious canopy aloft was carved
In semblance of the pleached forest trees,
Enameled with the liveliest green, wherethrough
A light pierced, more resplendent than the day.
O'er the pale, polished jasper of the floor
Of burnished metal, fretted and embossed
With all the marvelous story of her birth
Painted in prodigal splendor of rich tincts,
And carved by heavenly artists,-crystal seas,
And long-haired Nereids in their pearly shells,
And all the wonder of her lucent limbs
Sphered in a vermeil mist. Upon the throne
She took her seat, the knight beside her still,
Singing on couches of fresh asphodel,
And the dance ceased, and the flushed revelers came
In glittering phalanx to adore their queen.
Beautiful girls, with shining delicate heads,
Crested with living jewels, fanned the air
With flickering wings from naked shoulders soft.
Then with preluding low, a thousand harps,
And citherns, and strange nameless instruments,
Sent through the fragrant air sweet symphonies,
And the winged dancers waved in mazy rounds,
With changing lustres like a summer sea.
Fair boys, with charming yellow hair crisp-curled,
And frail, effeminate beauty, the knight saw,
But of strong, stalwart men like him were none.
He gazed thereon bewitched, until the hand
Of Venus, erst withdrawn, now fell again
Upon his own, and roused him from his trance.
He looked on her, and as he looked, a cloud
Auroral, flaming as at sunrising,
Arose from nothing, floating over them
In luminous folds, like that vermilion mist
Penciled upon the throne, and as it waxed
In density and brightness, all the throng
Of festal dancers, less and less distinct,
Grew like pale spirits in a vague, dim dream,
And vanished altogether; and these twain,
Shut from the world in that ambrosial cloud,
Now with a glory inconceivable,
Vivid and conflagrant, looked each on each.
All hours came laden with their own delights
In that enchanted place, wherein Time
Knew no divisions harsh of night and day,
But light was always, and desire of sleep
Was satisfied at once with slumber soft,
Desire of food with magical repast,
By unseen hands on golden tables spread.
But these the knight accepted like a god,
All less was lost in that excess of joy,
The crowning marvel of her love for him,
Assuring him of his divinity.
Meanwhile remembrance of the earth appeared
Like the vague trouble of a transient dream,-
The doubt, the scruples, the remorse for thoughts
Beyond his own control, the constant thirst
For something fairer than his life, more real
Than airy revelations of his Muse.
Here was his soul's desire satisfied.
All nobler passions died; his lyre he flung
Recklessly forth, with vows to dedicate
His being to herself. She knew and seized
The moment of her mastery, and conveyed
The lyre beyond his sight and memory.
With blandishment divine she changed for him,
Each hour, her mood; a very woman now,
Fantastic, voluble, affectionate,
And jealous of the vague, unbodied air,
Exacting, penitent, and pacified,
All in a breath. And often she appeared
Majestic with celestial wrath, with eyes
That shot forth fire, and a heavy brow,
Portentous as the lowering front of heaven,
When the reverberant, sullen thunder rolls
Among the echoing clouds. Thus she denounced
Her ancient, fickle worshippers, who left
Her altars desecrate, her fires unfed,
Her name forgotten. 'But I reign, I reign!'
She would shrill forth, triumphant; 'yea, I reign.
Men name me not, but worship me unnamed,
Beauty and Love within their heart of hearts;
Not with bent knees and empty breath of words,
But with devoted sacrifice of lives.'
Then melting in a moment, she would weep
Ambrosial tears, pathetic, full of guile,
Accusing her own base ingratitude,
In craving worship, when she had his heart,
Her priceless knight, her peerless paladin,
Her Tannhauser; then, with an artful glance
Of lovely helplessness, entreated him
Not to desert her, like the faithless world,
For these unbeautiful and barbarous gods,
Or she would never cease her prayers to Jove,
Until he took from her the heavy curse
Of immortality. With closer vows,
The knight then sealed his worship and forswore
All other aims and deeds to serve her cause.
Thus passed unnoted seven barren years
Of reckless passion and voluptuous sloth,
Undignified by any lofty thought
In his degraded mind, that sometime was
Endowed with noble capability.
From revelry to revelry he passed,
Craving more pungent pleasure momently,
And new intoxications, and each hour
The siren goddess answered his desires.
Once when she left him with a weary sense
Of utter lassitude, he sat alone,
And, raising listless eyes, he saw himself
In a great burnished mirror, wrought about
With cunning imagery of twisted vines.
He scarcely knew those sunken, red-rimmed eyes,
For his who in the flush of manhood rode
Among the cliffs, and followed up the crags
The flying temptress; and there fell on him
A horror of her beauty, a disgust
For his degenerate and corrupted life,
With irresistible, intense desire,
To feel the breath of heaven on his face.
Then as Fate willed, who rules above the gods,
He saw, within the glass, behind him glide
The form of Venus. Certain of her power,
She had laid by, in fond security,
The enchanted cestus, and Sir Tannhauser,
With surfeited regard, beheld her now,
No fairer than the women of the earth,
Whom with serenity and health he left,
Duped by a lovely witch. Before he moved,
She knew her destiny; and when he turned,
He seemed to drop a mask, disclosing thus
An alien face, and eyes with vision true,
That for long time with glamour had been blind.
Hiding the hideous rage within her breast,
With girlish simpleness of folded hands,
Auroral blushes, and sweet, shamefast mien,
She spoke: 'Behold, my love, I have cast forth
All magic, blandishments and sorcery,
For I have dreamed a dream so terrible,
That I awoke to find my pillow stained
With tears as of real woe. I thought my belt,
By Vulcan wrought with matchless skill and power,
Was the sole bond between us; this being doffed,
I seemed to thee an old, unlovely crone,
Wrinkled by every year that I have seen.
Thou turnedst from me with a brutal sneer,
So that I woke with weeping. Then I rose,
And drew the glittering girdle from my zone,
Jealous thereof, yet full of fears, and said,
'If it be this he loves, then let him go!
I have no solace as a mortal hath,
No hope of change or death to comfort me
Through all eternity; yet he is free,
Though I could hold him fast with heavy chains,
Bound in perpetual imprisonment.'
Tell me my vision was a baseless dream;
See, I am kneeling, and kiss thy hands,-
In pity, look on me, before thy word
Condemns me to immortal misery!'
As she looked down, the infernal influence
Worked on his soul again; for she was fair
Beyond imagination, and her brow
Seemed luminous with high self-sacrifice.
He bent and kissed her head, warm, shining, soft,
With its close-curling gold, and love revived.
But ere he spoke, he heard the distant sound
Of one sweet, smitten lyre, and a gleam
Of violent anger flashed across the face
Upraised to his in feigned simplicity
And singleness of purpose. Then he sprang,
Well-nigh a god himself, with sudden strength
to vanquish and resist, beyond her reach,
Crying, 'My old Muse calls me, and I hear!
Thy fateful vision is no baseless dream;
I will be gone from this accursed hall!'
Then she, too, rose, dilating over him,
And sullen clouds veiled all her rosy limbs,
Unto her girdle, and her head appeared
Refulgent, and her voice rang wrathfully:
'Have I cajoled and flattered thee till now,
To lose thee thus! How wilt thou make escape?
ONCE BEING MINE THOU ART FOREVER MINE:
Yea, not my love, but my poor slave and fool.'
But he, with both hands pressed upon his eyes,
Against that blinding lustre, heeded not
Her thundered words, and cried in sharp despair,
'Help me, O Virgin Mary! and thereat,
The very bases of the hall gave way,
The roof was rived, the goddess disappeared,
And Tannhauser stood free upon the cliff,
Amidst the morning sunshine and fresh air.
Around him were the tumbled blocks and crags,
Huge ridges and sharp juts of flinty peaks,
Black caves, and masses of the grim, bald rock.
The ethereal, unfathomable sky,
Hung over him, the valley lay beneath,
Dotted with yellow hayricks, that exhaled
Sweet, healthy odors to the mountain-top.
He breathed intoxicate the infinite air,
And plucked the heather blossoms where they blew,
Reckless with light and dew, in crannies green,
And scarcely saw their darling bells for tears.
No sounds of labor reached him from the farms
And hamlets trim, nor from the furrowed glebe;
But a serene and sabbath stillness reigned,
Till broken by the faint, melodious chimes
Of the small village church that called to prayer.
He hurried down the rugged, scarped cliff,
And swung himself from shelving granite slopes
To narrow foot-holds, near wide-throated chasms,
Tearing against the sharp stones his bleeding hands,
With long hair flying from his dripping brow,
Uncovered head, and white, exalted face.
No memory had he of his smooth ascent,
No thought of fear upon those dreadful hills;
He only heard the bell, inviting him
To satisfy the craving of his heart,
For worship 'midst his fellow men. He reached
The beaten, dusty road, and passed thereon
The pious peasants faring towards the church,
And scarce refrained from greeting them like friends
Dearly beloved, after long absence met.
How more than fair the sunburnt wenches looked,
In their rough, homespun gowns and coifs demure,
After the beauty of bare, rosy limbs,
And odorous, loose hair! He noted not
Suspicious glances on his garb uncouth,
His air extravagant and face distraught,
With bursts of laughter from the red-cheeked boys,
And prudent crossings of the women's breasts.
He passed the flowering close about the church,
And trod the well worn-path, with throbbing heart,
The little heather-bell between his lips,
And his eyes fastened on the good green grass.
Thus entered he the sanctuary, lit
With frequent tapers, and with sunbeams stained
Through painted glass. How pure and innocent
The waiting congregation seemed to him,
Kneeling, or seated with calm brows upraised!
With faltering strength, he cowered down alone,
And held sincere communion with the Lord,
For one brief moment, in a sudden gush
Of blessed tears. The minister of God
Rose to invoke a blessing on his flock,
And then began the service,-not in words
To raise the lowly, and to heal the sick,
But an alien tongue, with phrases formed,
And meaningless observances. The knight,
Unmoved, yet thirsting for the simple word
That might have moved him, held his bitter thoughts,
But when in his own speech a new priest spake,
Looked up with hope revived, and heard the text:
'Go, preach the Gospel unto all the world.
He that believes and is baptized, is saved.
He that believeth not, is damned in hell!'
He sat with neck thrust forth and staring eyes;
The crowded congregation disappeared;
He felt alone in some black sea of hell,
While a great light smote one exalted face,
Vivid already with prophetic fire,
Whose fatal mouth now thundered forth his doom.
He longed in that void circle to cry out,
With one clear shriek, but sense and voice seemed bound,
And his parched tongue clave useless to his mouth.
As the last words resounded through the church,
And once again the pastor blessed his flock,
Who, serious and subdued, passed slowly down
The arrow aisle, none noted, near the wall,
A fallen man with face upon his knees,
A heap of huddled garments and loose hair,
Unconscious 'mid the rustling, murmurous stir,
'Midst light and rural smell of grass and flowers,
Let in athwart the doorway. One lone priest,
Darkening the altar lights, moved noiselessly,
Now with the yellow glow upon his face,
Now a black shadow gliding farther on,
Amidst the smooth, slim pillars of hewn ash.
But from the vacant aisles he heard at once
A hollow sigh, heaved from a depth profound.
Upholding his last light above his head,
And peering eagerly amidst the stalls,
He cried, 'Be blest who cometh in God's name.'
Then the gaunt form of Tannhauser arose.
'Father, I am a sinner, and I seek
Forgiveness and help, by whatso means
I can regain the joy of peace with God.'
'The Lord hath mercy on the penitent.
'Although thy sins be scarlet,' He hath said,
'Will I not make them white as wool?' Confess,
And I will shrive you.' Thus the good priest moved
Towards the remorseful knight and pressed his hand.
But shrinking down, he drew his fingers back
From the kind palm, and kissed the friar's feet.
'Thy pure hand is anointed, and can heal.
The cool, calm pressure brings back sanity,
And what serene, past joys! yet touch me not,
My contact is pollution,-hear, O hear,
While I disburden my charged soul.' He lay,
Casting about for words and strength to speak.
'O father, is there help for such a one,'
In tones of deep abasement he began,
'Who hath rebelled against the laws of God,
With pride no less presumptuous than his
Who lost thereby his rank in heaven?' 'My son,
There is atonement for all sins,-or slight
Or difficult, proportioned to the crime.
Though this may be the staining of thy hands
With blood of kinsmen or of fellow-men.'
'My hands are white,-my crime hath found no name,
This side of hell; yet though my heart-strings snap
To live it over, let me make the attempt.
I was a knight and bard, with such a gift
Of revelation that no hour of life
Lacked beauty and adornment, in myself
The seat and centre of all happiness.
What inspiration could my lofty Muse
Draw from those common and familiar themes,
Painted upon the windows and the walls
Of every church,-the mother and her child,
The miracle and mystery of the birth,
The death, the resurrection? Fool and blind!
That saw not symbols of eternal truth
In that grand tragedy and victory,
Significant and infinite as life.
What tortures did my skeptic soul endure,
At war against herself and all mankind!
The restless nights of feverish sleeplessness,
With balancing of reasons nicely weighed;
The dawn that brought no hope nor energy,
The blasphemous arraignment of the Lord,
Taxing His glorious divinity
With all the grief and folly of the world.
Then came relapses into abject fear,
And hollow prayer and praise from craven heart.
Before a sculptured Venus I would kneel,
Crown her with flowers, worship her, and cry,
'O large and noble type of our ideal,
At least my heart and prayer return to thee,
Amidst a faithless world of proselytes.
Madonna Mary, with her virgin lips,
And eyes that look perpetual reproach,
Insults and is a blasphemy on youth.
Is she to claim the worship of a man
Hot with the first rich flush of ripened life?'
Realities, like phantoms, glided by,
Unnoted 'midst the torment and delights
Of my conflicting spirit, and I doffed
the modest Christian weeds of charity
And fit humility, and steeled myself
In pagan panoply of stoicism
And self-sufficing pride. Yet constantly
I gained men's charmed attention and applause,
With the wild strains I smote from out my lyre,
To me the native language of my soul,
To them attractive and miraculous,
As all things whose solution and whose source
Remain a mystery. Then came suddenly
The summons to attend the gathering
Of minstrels at the Landgrave Hermann's court.
Resolved to publish there my pagan creed
In harmonies so high and beautiful
That all the world would share my zeal and faith,
I journeyed towards the haunted Horsel cliffs.
O God! how may I tell you how SHE came,
The temptress of a hundred centuries,
Yet fresh as April? She bewitched my sense,
Poisoned my judgment with sweet flatteries,
And for I may not guess how many years
Held me a captive in degrading bonds.
There is no sin of lust so lewd and foul,
Which I learned not in that alluring hell,
Until this morn, I snapped the ignoble tie,
By calling on the Mother of our Lord.
O for the power to stand again erect,
And look men in the eyes! What penitence,
What scourging of the flesh, what rigid fasts,
What terrible privations may suffice
To cleanse me in the sight of God and man?'
Ill-omened silence followed his appeal.
Patient and motionless he lay awhile,
Then sprang unto his feet with sudden force,
Confronting in his breathless vehemence,
With palpitating heart, the timid priest.
'Answer me, as you hope for a response,
One day, at the great judgment seat yourself.'
'I cannot answer,' said the timid priest,
'I have not understood.' 'Just God! is this
The curse Thou layest upon me? I outstrip
The sympathy and brotherhood of men,
So far removed is my experience
From their clean innocence. Inspire me,
Prompt me to words that bring me near to them!
Father,' in gentler accents he resumed,
'Thank Heaven at your every orison
That sin like mine you cannot apprehend.
More than the truth perchance I have confessed,
But I have sinned, and darkly,-this is true;
And I have suffered, and am suffering now.
Is there no help in your great Christian creed
Of liberal charity, for such a one?'
'My son,' the priest replied, 'your speech distraught
Hath quite bewildered me. I fain would hope
That Christ's large charity can reach your sin,
But I know naught. I cannot but believe
That the enchantress who first tempted you
Must be the Evil one,-your early doubt
Was the possession of your soul by him.
Travel across the mountain to the town,
The first cathedral town upon the road
That leads to Rome,-a sage and reverend priest,
The Bishop Adrian, bides there. Say you have come
From his leal servant, Friar Lodovick;
He hath vast lore and great authority,
And may absolve you freely of your sin.'
Over the rolling hills, through summer fields,
By noisy villages and lonely lanes,
Through glowing days, when all the landscape stretched
Shimmering in the heat, a pilgrim fared
Towards the cathedral town. Sir Tannhauser
Had donned the mournful sackcloth, girt his loins
With a coarse rope that ate into his flesh,
Muffled a cowl about his shaven head,
Hung a great leaden cross around his neck;
And bearing in his hands a knotty staff,
With swollen, sandaled feet he held his course.
He snatched scant rest at twilight or at dawn,
When his forced travel was least difficult.
But most he journeyed when the sky, o'ercast,
Uprolled its threatening clouds of dusky blue,
And angry thunder grumbled through the hills,
And earth grew dark at noonday, till the flash
Of the thin lightning through the wide sky leapt.
And tumbling showers scoured along the plain.
Then folk who saw the pilgrim penitent,
Drenched, weird, and hastening as as to some strange doom,
Swore that the wandering Jew had crossed their land,
And the Lord Christ had sent the deadly bolt
Harmless upon his cursed, immortal head.
At length the hill-side city's spires and roofs,
With all its western windows smitten red
By a rich sunset, and with massive towers
Of its cathedral overtopping all,
greeted his sight. Some weary paces more,
And as the twilight deepened in the streets,
He stood within the minster. How serene,
In sculptured calm of centuries, it seemed!
How cool and spacious all the dim-lit aisles,
Still hazy with fumes of frankincense!
The vesper had been said, yet here and there
A wrinkled beldam, or mourner veiled,
Or burly burgher on the cold floor knelt,
And still the organist, with wandering hands,
Drew from the keys mysterious melodies,
And filled the church with flying waifs of song,
That with ethereal beauty moved the soul
To a more tender prayer and gentler faith
Than choral anthems and the solemn mass.
A thousand memories, sweet to bitterness,
Rushed on the knight and filled his eyes with tears;
Youth's blamelessness and faith forever lost,
The love of his neglected lyre, his art,
Revived by these aerial harmonies.
He was unworthy now to touch the strings,
Too base to stir men's soul to ecstasy
And high resolves, as in the days agone;
And yet, with all his spirit's earnestness,
He yearned to feel the lyre between his hands,
To utter all the trouble of his life
Unto the Muse who understands and helps.
Outworn with travel, soothed to drowsiness
By dying music and sweet-scented air,
His limbs relaxed, and sleep possessed his frame.
Auroral light the eastern oriels touched,
When with delicious sense of rest he woke,
Amidst the cast and silent empty aisles.
'God's peace hath fallen upon me in this place;
This is my Bethel; here I feel again
A holy calm, if not of innocence,
Yet purest after that, the calm serene
Of expiation and forgiveness.'
He spake, and passed with staff and wallet forth
Through the tall portal to the open square,
And turning, paused to look upon the pile.
The northern front against the crystal sky
Loomed dark and heavy, full of sombre shade,
With each projecting buttress, carven cross,
Gable and mullion, tipped with laughing light
By the slant sunbeams of the risen morn.
The noisy swallows wheeled above their nests,
Builded in hidden nooks about the porch.
No human life was stirring in the square,
Save now and then a rumbling market-team,
Fresh from the fields and farms without the town.
He knelt upon the broad cathedral steps,
And kissed the moistened stone, while overhead
The circling swallows sang, and all around
The mighty city lay asleep and still.
To stranger's ears must yet again be made
The terrible confession; yet again
A deathly chill, with something worse than fear,
Seized the knight's heart, who knew his every word
Widened the gulf between his kind and him.
The Bishop sat with pomp of mitred head,
In pride of proven virtue, hearkening to all
With cold, official apathy, nor made
A sign of pity nor encouragement.
The friar understood the pilgrim's grief,
The language of his eyes; his speech alone
Was alien to these kind, untutored ears.
But this was truly to be misconstrued,
To tear each palpitating word alive
From out the depths of his remorseful soul,
And have it weighed with the precision cool
And the nice logic of a reasoning mind.
This spiritual Father judged his crime
As the mad mischief of a reckless boy,
That call for strict, immediate punishment.
But Tannhauser, who felt himself a man,
Though base, yet fallen through passions and rare gifts
Of an exuberant nature rankly rich,
And knew his weary head was growing gray
With a life's terrible experience,
Found his old sense of proper worth revive;
But modestly he ended: 'Yet I felt,
O holy Father, in the church, this morn,
A strange security, a peace serene,
As though e'en yet the Lord regarded me
With merciful compassion; yea, as though
Even so vile a worm as I might work
Mine own salvation, through repentant prayers.'
'Presumptuous man, it is no easy task
To expiate such sin; a space of prayer
That deprecates the anger of the Lord,
A pilgrimage through pleasant summer lands,
May not atone for years of impious lust;
Thy heart hath lied to thee in offering hope.'
'Is there no hope on earth?' the pilgrim sighed.
'None through thy penance,' said the saintly man.
'Yet there may be through mediation, help.
There is a man who by a blameless life
Hath won the right to intercede with God.
No sins of his own flesh hath he to purge,-
The Cardinal Filippo,-he abides,
Within the Holy City. Seek him out;
This is my only counsel,-through thyself
Can be no help and no forgiveness.'
How different from the buoyant joy of morn
Was this discouraged sense of lassitude,
The Bishop's words were ringing in his ears,
Measured and pitiless, and blent with these,
The memory of the goddess' last wild cry,-
'ONCE BEING MINE, THOU ART FOREVER MINE.'
Was it the truth, despite his penitence,
And the dedication of his thought to God,
That still some portion of himself was hers,
Some lust survived, some criminal regret,
For her corrupted love? He searched his heart:
All was remorse, religious and sincere,
And yet her dreadful curse still haunted him;
For all men shunned him, and denied him help,
Knowing at once in looking on his face,
Ploughed with deep lines and prematurely old,
That he had struggled with some deadly fiend,
And that he was no longer kin to them.
Just past the outskirts of the town, he stopped,
To strengthen will and courage to proceed.
The storm had broken o'er the sultry streets,
But now the lessening clouds were flying east,
And though the gentle shower still wet his face,
The west was cloudless while the sun went down,
And the bright seven-colored arch stood forth,
Against the opposite dull gray. There was
A beauty in the mingled storm and peace,
Beyond clear sunshine, as the vast, green fields
Basked in soft light, though glistening yet with rain.
The roar of all the town was now a buzz
Less than the insects' drowsy murmuring
That whirred their gauzy wings around his head.
The breeze that follows on the sunsetting
Was blowing whiffs of bruised and dripping grass
Into the heated city. But he stood,
Disconsolate with thoughts of fate and sin,
Still wrestling with his soul to win it back
From her who claimed it to eternity.
Then on the delicate air there came to him
The intonation of the minster bells,
Chiming the vespers, musical and faint.
He knew not what of dear and beautiful
There was in those familiar peals, that spake
Of his first boyhood and his innocence,
Leading him back, with gracious influence,
To pleasant thoughts and tender memories,
And last, recalling the fair hour of hope
He passed that morning in the church. Again,
The glad assurance of God's boundless love
Filled all his being, and he rose serene,
And journeyed forward with a calm content.
Southward he wended, and the landscape took
A warmer tone, the sky a richer light.
The gardens of the graceful, festooned with hops,
With their slight tendrils binding pole to pole,
Gave place to orchards and the trellised grape,
The hedges were enwreathed with trailing vines,
With clustering, shapely bunches, 'midst the growth
Of tangled greenery. The elm and ash
Less frequent grew than cactus, cypresses,
And golden-fruited or large-blossomed trees.
The far hills took the hue of the dove's breast,
Veiled in gray mist of olive groves. No more
He passed dark, moated strongholds of grim knights,
But terraces with marble-paven steps,
With fountains leaping in the sunny air,
And hanging gardens full of sumptuous bloom.
Then cloisters guarded by their dead gray walls,
Where now and then a golden globe of fruit
Or full-flushed flower peered out upon the road,
Nodding against the stone, and where he heard
Sometimes the voices of the chanting monks,
Sometimes the laugh of children at their play,
Amidst the quaint, old gardens. But these sights
Were in the suburbs of the wealthy towns.
For many a day through wildernesses rank,
Or marshy, feverous meadow-lands he fared,
The fierce sun smiting his close-muffled head;
Or 'midst the Alpine gorges faced the storm,
That drave adown the gullies melted snow
And clattering boulders from the mountain-tops.
At times, between the mountains and the sea
Fair prospects opened, with the boundless stretch
Of restless, tideless water by his side,
And their long wash upon the yellow sand.
Beneath this generous sky the country-folk
Could lead a freer life,-the fat, green fields
Offered rich pasturage, athwart the air
Rang tinkling cow-bells and the shepherds' pipes.
The knight met many a strolling troubadour,
Bearing his cithern, flute, or dulcimer;
And oft beneath some castle's balcony,
At night, he heard their mellow voices rise,
Blent with stringed instruments or tambourines,
Chanting some lay as natural as a bird's.
Then Nature stole with healthy influence
Into his thoughts; his love of beauty woke,
His Muse inspired dreams as in the past.
But after this came crueler remorse,
And he would tighten round his loins the rope,
And lie for hours beside some wayside cross,
And feel himself unworthy to enjoy
The splendid gift and privilege of life.
Then forth he hurried, spurred by his desire
To reach the City of the Seven Hills,
And gain his absolution. Some leagues more
Would bring him to the vast Campagna land,
When by a roadside well he paused to rest.
'T was noon, and reapers in the field hard by
Lay neath the trees upon the sun-scorched grass.
But from their midst one came towards the well,
Not trudging like a man forespent with toil,
But frisking like a child at holiday,
With light steps. The pilgrim watched him come,
And found him scarcely older than a child,
A large-mouthed earthen pitcher in his hand,
And a guitar upon his shoulder slung.
A wide straw hat threw all his face in shade,
But doffing this, to catch whatever breeze
Might stir among the branches, he disclosed
A charming head of rippled, auburn hair,
A frank, fair face, as lovely as a girls,
With great, soft eyes, as mild and grave as kine's.
Above his head he slipped the instrument,
And laid it with his hat upon the turf,
Lowered his pitcher down the well-head cool,
And drew it dripping upward, ere he saw
The watchful pilgrim, craving (as he thought)
The precious draught. 'Your pardon, holy sir,
Drink first,' he cried, 'before I take the jar
Unto my father in the reaping-field.'
Touched by the cordial kindness of the lad,
The pilgrim answered,-'Thanks, my thirst is quenched
From mine own palm.' The stranger deftly poised
The brimming pitcher on his head, and turned
Back to the reaping-folk, while Tannhauser
Looked after him across the sunny fields,
Clasping each hand about his waist to bear
The balanced pitcher; then, down glancing, found
The lad's guitar near by, and fell at once
To striking its tuned string with wandering hands,
And pensive eyes filled full of tender dreams.
'Yea, holy sir, it is a worthless thing,
And yet I love it, for I make it speak.'
The boy again stood by him and dispelled
His train of fantasies half sweet, half sad.
'That was not in my thought,' the knight replied.
'Its worth is more than rubies; whoso hath
The art to make this speak is raised thereby
Above all loneliness or grief or fear.'
More to himself than to the lad he spake,
Who, understanding not, stood doubtfully
At a loss for answer; but the knight went on:
'How came it in your hands, and who hath tuned
your voice to follow it.' 'I am unskilled,
Good father, but my mother smote its strings
To music rare.' Diverted from one theme,
Pleased with the winsome candor of the boy,
The knight encouraged him to confidence;
Then his own gift of minstrelsy revealed,
And told bright tales of his first wanderings,
When in lords' castles and kings' palaces
Men still made place for him, for in his land
The gift was rare and valued at its worth,
And brought great victory and sounding fame.
Thus, in retracing all his pleasant youth,
His suffering passed as though it had not been.
Wide-eyed and open-mouthed the boy gave ear,
His fair face flushing with the sudden thoughts
That went and came,-then, as the pilgrim ceased,
Drew breath and spake: 'And where now is your lyre?'
The knight with both hands hid his changed, white face,
Crying aloud, 'Lost! lost! forever lost!'
Then, gathering strength, he bared his face again
Unto the frightened, wondering boy, and rose
With hasty fear. 'Ah, child, you bring me back
Unwitting to remembrance of my grief,
For which I donned eternal garb of woe;
And yet I owe you thanks for one sweet hour
Of healthy human intercourse and peace.
'T is not for me to tarry by the way.
Farewell!' The impetuous, remorseful boy,
Seeing sharp pain on that kind countenance,
Fell at his feet and cried, 'Forgive my words,
Witless but innocent, and leave me not
Without a blessing.' Moved unutterably,
The pilgrim kissed with trembling lips his head,
And muttered, 'At this moment would to God
That I were worthy!' Then waved wasted hands
Over the youth in act of blessing him,
But faltered, 'Cleanse me through his innocence,
O heavenly Father!' and with quickening steps
Hastened away upon the road to Rome.
The noon was past, the reapers drew broad swaths
With scythes sun-smitten 'midst the ripened crop.
Thin shadows of the afternoon slept soft
On the green meadows as the knight passed forth.
He trudged amidst the sea of poisonous flowers
On the Campagna's undulating plain,
With Rome, the many-steepled, many-towered,
Before him regnant on her throne of hills.
A thick blue cloud of haze o'erhung the town,
But the fast-sinking sun struck fiery light
From shining crosses, roofs, and flashing domes.
Across his path an arching bridge of stone
Was raised above a shrunken yellow stream,
Hurrying with the light on every wave
Towards the great town and outward to the sea.
Upon the bridge's crest he paused, and leaned
Against the barrier, throwing back his cowl,
And gazed upon the dull, unlovely flood
That was the Tiber. Quaggy banks lay bare,
Muddy and miry, glittering in the sun,
And myriad insects hovered o'er the reeds,
Whose lithe, moist tips by listless airs were stirred.
When the low sun had dropped behind the hills,
He found himself within the streets of Rome,
Walking as in a sleep, where naught seemed real.
The chattering hubbub of the market-place
Was over now; but voices smote his ear
Of garrulous citizens who jostled past.
Loud cries, gay laughter, snatches of sweet song,
The tinkling fountains set in gardens cool
About the pillared palaces, and blent
With trickling of the conduits in the squares,
The noisy teams within the narrow streets,-
All these the stranger heard and did not hear,
While ringing bells pealed out above the town,
And calm gray twilight skies stretched over it.
Wide open stood the doors of every church,
And through the porches pressed a streaming throng.
Vague wonderment perplexed him, at the sight
Of broken columns raised to Jupiter
Beside the cross, immense cathedrals reared
Upon a dead faith's ruins; all the whirl
And eager bustle of the living town
Filling the storied streets, whose very stones
Were solemn monuments, and spake of death.
Although he wrestled with himself, the thought
Of that poor, past religion smote his heart
With a huge pity and deep sympathy,
Beyond the fervor which the Church inspired.
Where was the noble race who ruled the world,
Moulded of purest elements, and stuffed
With sternest virtues, every man a king,
Wearing the purple native in his heart?
These lounging beggars, stealthy monks and priests,
And womanish patricians filled their place.
Thus Tannhauser, still half an infidel,
Pagan through mind and Christian through the heart,
Fared thoughtfully with wandering, aimless steps,
Till in the dying glimmer of the day
He raised his eyes and found himself alone
Amid the ruined arches, broken shafts,
And huge arena of the Coliseum.
He did not see it as it was, dim-lit
By something less than day and more than night,
With wan reflections of the rising moon
Rather divined than seen on ivied walls,
And crumbled battlements, and topless columns-
But by the light of all the ancient days,
Ringed with keen eager faces, living eyes,
Fixed on the circus with a savage joy,
Where brandished swords flashed white, and human blood
Streamed o'er the thirsty dust, and Death was king.
He started, shuddering, and drew breath to see
The foul pit choked with weeds and tumbled stones,
The cross raised midmost, and the peaceful moon
Shining o'er all; and fell upon his knees,
Restored to faith in one wise, loving God.
Day followed day, and still he bode in Rome,
Waiting his audience with the Cardinal,
And from the gates, on pretext frivolous,
Passed daily forth,-his Eminency slept,-
Again, his Eminency was fatigued
By tedious sessions of the Papal court,
And thus the patient pilgrim was referred
Unto a later hour. At last the page
Bore him a missive with Filippo's seal,
That in his name commended Tannhauser
Unto the Pope. The worn, discouraged knight
Read the brief scroll, then sadly forth again,
Along the bosky alleys of the park,
Passed to the glare and noise of summer streets.
'Good God!' he muttered, 'Thou hast ears for all,
And sendest help and comfort; yet these men,
Thy saintly ministers, must deck themselves
With arrogance, and from their large delight
In all the beauty of the beauteous earth,
And peace of indolent, untempted souls,
Deny the hungry outcast a bare word.'
Yet even as he nourished bitter thoughts,
He felt a depth of clear serenity,
Unruffled in his heart beneath it all.
No outward object now had farther power
To wound him there, for the brooding o'er those deeps
Of vast contrition was boundless hope.
Yet not to leave a human chance untried,
He sought the absolution of the Pope.
In a great hall with airy galleries,
Thronged with high dignitaries of the Church,
He took his seat amidst the humblest friars.
Through open windows came sweet garden smells,
Bright morning light, and twittered song of birds.
Around the hall flashed gold and sunlit gems,
And splendid wealth of color,-white-stoled priests,
And scarlet cardinals, and bishops clad
In violet vestments,-while beneath the shade
Of the high gallery huddled dusky shapes,
With faded, travel-tattered, sombre smocks,
And shaven heads, and girdles of coarse hemp;
Some, pilgrims penitent like Tannhauser;
Some, devotees to kiss the sacred feet.
The brassy blare of trumpets smote the air,
Shrill pipes and horns with swelling clamor came,
And through the doorway's wide-stretched tapestries
Passed the Pope's trumpeters and mace-bearers,
His vergers bearing slender silver wands,
Then mitred bishops, red-clad cardinals,
The stalwart Papal Guard with halberds raised,
And then, with white head crowned with gold ingemmed,
The vicar of the lowly Galilean,
Holding his pastoral rod of smooth-hewn wood,
With censer swung before and peacock fans
Waved constantly by pages, either side.
Attended thus, they bore him to his throne,
And priests and laymen fell upon their knees.
Then, after pause of brief and silent prayer,
The pilgrims singly through the hall defiled,
To kiss the borders of the papal skirts,
Smiting their foreheads on the paven stone;
Some silent, abject, some accusing them
Of venial sins in accents of remorse,
Craving his grace, and passing pardoned forth.
Sir Tannhauser came last, no need for him
To cry 'Peccavi,' and crook suppliant knees.
His gray head rather crushed than bowed, his face
Livid and wasted, his deep thoughtful eyes,
His tall gaunt form in those unseemly weeds,
Spake more than eloquence. His hollow voice
Brake silence, saying, 'I am Tannhauser.
For seven years I lived apart from men,
Within the Venusberg.' A horror seized
The assembled folk; some turbulently rose;
Some clamored, 'From the presence cast him forth!'
But the knight never ceased his steady gaze
Upon the Pope. At last,-'I have not spoken
To be condemned,' he said, 'by such as these.
Thou, spiritual Father, answer me.
Look thou upon me with the eyes of Christ.
Can I through expiation gain my shrift,
And work mine own redemption?' 'Insolent man!'
Thundered the outraged Pope, 'is this the tone
Wherewith thou dost parade thy loathsome sin?
Down on thy knees, and wallow on the earth!
Nay, rather go! there is no ray of hope,
No gleam, through cycles of eternity,
For the redemption of a soul like thine.
Yea, sooner shall my pastoral rod branch forth
In leaf and blossom, and green shoots of spring,
Than Christ will pardon thee.' And as he spoke,
He struck the rod upon the floor with force
That gave it entrance 'twixt two loosened tiles,
So that it stood, fast-rooted and alone.
The knight saw naught, he only heard his judge
Ring forth his curses, and the court cry out
'Anathema!' and loud, and blent therewith,
Derisive laughter in the very hall,
And a wild voice that thrilled through flesh and heart:
'ONCE BEING MINE, THOU ART FOREVER MINE!'
Half-mad he clasped both hands upon his brow,
Amidst the storm of voices, till they died,
And all was silence, save the reckless song
Of a young bird upon a twig without.
Then a defiant, ghastly face he raised,
And shrieked, ''T is false! I am no longer thine!'
And through the windows open to the park,
Rushed forth, beyond the sight and sound of men.
By church nor palace paused he, till he passed
All squares and streets, and crossed the bridge of stone,
And stood alone amidst the broad expanse
Of the Campagna, twinkling in the heat.
He knelt upon a knoll of turf, and snapped
The cord that held the cross about his neck,
And far from him the leaden burden flung.
'O God! I thank Thee, that my faith in Thee
Subsists at last, through all discouragements.
Between us must no type nor symbol stand,
No mediator, were he more divine
Than the incarnate Christ. All forms, all priests,
I part aside, and hold communion free
Beneath the empty sky of noon, with naught
Between my nothingness and thy high heavens-
Spirit with spirit. O, have mercy, God!
Cleanse me from lust and bitterness and pride,
Have mercy in accordance with my faith.'
Long time he lay upon the scorching grass,
With his face buried in the tangled weeds.
Ah! who can tell the struggles of his soul
Against its demons in that sacred hour,
The solitude, the anguish, the remorse?
When shadows long and thin lay on the ground,
Shivering with fever, helpless he arose,
But with a face divine, ineffable,
Such as we dream the face of Israel,
When the Lord's wrestling angel, at gray dawn,
Blessed him, and disappeared.
Upon the marsh,
All night, he wandered, striving to emerge
From the wild, pathless plain,-now limitless
And colorless beneath the risen moon;
Outstretching like a sea, with landmarks none,
Save broken aqueducts and parapets,
And ruined columns glinting 'neath the moon.
His dress was dank and clinging with the dew;
A thousand insects fluttered o'er his head,
With buzz and drone; unseen cicadas chirped
Among the long, rank grass, and far and near
The fire-flies flickered through the summer air.
Vague thoughts and gleams prophetic filled his brain.
'Ah, fool!' he mused, 'to look for help from men.
Had they the will to aid, they lack the power.
In mine own flesh and soul the sin had birth,
Through mine own anguish it must be atoned.
Our saviours are not saints and ministers,
But tear-strung women, children soft of heart,
Or fellow-sufferers, who, by some chance word,
Some glance of comfort, save us from despair.
These I have found, thank heaven! to strengthen trust
In mine own kind, when all the world grew dark.
Make me not proud in spirit, O my God!
Yea, in thy sight I am one mass of sin,
One black and foul corruption, yet I know
My frailty is exceeded by thy love.
Neither is this the slender straw of hope,
Whereto I, drowning, cling, but firm belief,
That fills my inmost soul with vast content.
As surely as the hollow faiths of old
Shriveled to dust before one ray of Truth,
So will these modern temples pass away,
Piled upon rotten doctrines, baseless forms,
And man will look in his own breast for help,
Yea, search for comfort his own inward reins,
Revere himself, and find the God within.
Patience and patience!' Through the sleepless night
He held such thoughts; at times before his eyes
Flashed glimpses of the Church that was to be,
Sublimely simple in the light serene
Of future ages; then the vision changed
To the Pope's hall, thronged with high priests, who hurled
Their curses on him. Staggering, he awoke
Unto the truth, and found himself alone,
Beneath the awful stars. When dawn's first chill
Crept though the shivering grass and heavy leaves,
Giddy and overcome, he fell and slept
Upon the dripping weeds, nor dreamed nor stirred,
Until the wide plain basked in noon's broad light.
He dragged his weary frame some paces more,
Unto a solitary herdsman's hut,
Which, in the vagueness of the moonlit night,
Was touched with lines of beauty, till it grew
Fair as the ruined works of ancient art,
Now squat and hideous with its wattled roof,
Decaying timbers, and loose door wide oped,
Half-fallen from the hinge. A drowsy man,
Bearded and burnt, in shepherd habit lay,
Stretched on the floor, slow-munching, half asleep,
His frugal fare; for thus, at blaze of noon,
The shepherds sought a shelter from the sun,
Leaving their vigilant dogs beside their flock.
The knight craved drink and bread, and with respect
For pilgrim weeds, the Roman herdsman stirred
His lazy length, and shared with him his meal.
Refreshed and calm, Sir Tannhauser passed forth,
Yearning with morbid fancy once again
To see the kind face of the minstrel boy
He met beside the well. At set of sun
He reached the place; the reaping-folk were gone,
The day's toil over, yet he took his seat.
A milking-girl with laden buckets full,
Came slowly from the pasture, paused and drank.
From a near cottage ran a ragged boy,
And filled his wooden pail, and to his home
Returned across the fields. A herdsman came,
And drank and gave his dog to drink, and passed,
Greeting the holy man who sat there still,
Awaiting. But his feeble pulse beat high
When he descried at last a youthful form,
Crossing the field, a pitcher on his head,
Advancing towards the well. Yea, this was he,
The same grave eyes, and open, girlish face.
But he saw not, amidst the landscape brown,
The knight's brown figure, who, to win his ear,
Asked the lad's name. 'My name is Salvator,
To serve you, sir,' he carelessly replied,
With eyes and hands intent upon his jar,
Brimming and bubbling. Then he cast one glance
Upon his questioner, and left the well,
Crying with keen and sudden sympathy,
'Good Father, pardon me, I knew you not.
Ah! you have travelled overmuch: your feet
Are grimed with mud and wet, your face is changed,
Your hands are dry with fever.' But the knight:
'Nay, as I look on thee, I think the Lord
Wills not that I should suffer any more.'
'Then you have suffered much,' sighed Salvator,
With wondering pity. 'You must come with me;
My father knows of you, I told him all.
A knight and minstrel who cast by his lyre,
His health and fame, to give himself to God,-
Yours is a life indeed to be desired!
If you will lie with us this night, our home
Will verily be blessed.' By kindness crushed,
Wandering in sense and words, the broken knight
Resisted naught, and let himself be led
To the boy's home. The outcast and accursed
Was welcomed now by kindly human hands;
Once more his blighted spirit was revived
By contact with refreshing innocence.
There, when the morning broke upon the world,
The humble hosts no longer knew their guest.
His fleshly weeds of sin forever doffed,
Tannhauser lay and smiled, for in the night
The angel came who brings eternal peace.
Far into Wartburg, through all Italy,
In every town the Pope sent messengers,
Riding in furious haste; among them, one
Who bore a branch of dry wood burst in bloom;
The pastoral rod had borne green shoots of spring,
And leaf and blossom. God is merciful.
- quotes about forgiveness
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about palaces
- quotes about gardens
- quotes about Rome
- quotes about victory
- quotes about travel
- quotes about language
- quotes about health
Hero And Leander. The Third Sestiad
New light gives new directions, fortunes new,
To fashion our endeavours that ensue.
More harsh, at least more hard, more grave and high
Our subject runs, and our stern Muse must fly.
Love's edge is taken off, and that light flame,
Those thoughts, joys, longings, that before became
High unexperienc'd blood, and maids' sharp plights,
Must now grow staid, and censure the delights,
That, being enjoy'd, ask judgment; now we praise,
As having parted: evenings crown the days.
And now, ye wanton Loves, and young Desires,
Pied Vanity, the mint of strange attires,
Ye lisping Flatteries, and obsequious Glances,
Relentful Musics, and attractive Dances,
And you detested Charms constraining love!
Shun love's stoln sports by that these lovers prove.
By this, the sovereign of heaven's golden fires,
And young Leander, lord of his desires,
Together from their lovers' arms arose:
Leander into Hellespontus throws
His Hero-handled body, whose delight
Made him disdain each other epithite.
And as amidst th' enamour'd waves he swims,
The god of gold of purpose gilt his limbs,
That, this word _gilt_ including double sense,
The double guilt of his incontinence
Might be express'd, that had no stay t' employ
The treasure which the love-god let him joy
In his dear Hero, with such sacred thrift
As had beseem'd so sanctified a gift;
But, like a greedy vulgar prodigal,
Would on the stock dispend, and rudely fall,
Before his time, to that unblessed blessing
Which, for lust's plague, doth perish with possessing:
Joy graven in sense, like snow in water, wasts:
Without preserve of virtue, nothing lasts.
What man is he, that with a wealthy eye
Enjoys a beauty richer than the sky,
Through whose white skin, softer than soundest sleep,
With damask eyes the ruby blood doth peep,
And runs in branches through her azure veins,
Whose mixture and first fire his love attains;
Whose both hands limit both love's deities,
And sweeten human thoughts like Paradise;
Whose disposition silken is and kind,
Directed with an earth-exempted mind;--
Who thinks not heaven with such a love is given?
And who, like earth, would spend that dower of heaven,
With rank desire to joy it all at first?
What simply kills our hunger, quencheth thirst,
Clothes but our nakedness, and makes us live,
Praise doth not any of her favours give:
But what doth plentifully minister
Beauteous apparel and delicious cheer,
So order'd that it still excites desire,
And still gives pleasure freeness to aspire,
The palm of Bounty ever moist preserving;
To Love's sweet life this is the courtly carving.
Thus Time and all-states-ordering Ceremony
Had banish'd all offence: Time's golden thigh
Upholds the flowery body of the earth
In sacred harmony, and every birth
Of men and actions makes legitimate;
Being us'd aright, the use of time is fate.
Yet did the gentle flood transfer once more
This prize of love home to his father's shore;
Where he unlades himself on that false wealth
That makes few rich,--treasures compos'd by stealth;
And to his sister, kind Hermione
(Who on the shore kneel'd, praying to the sea
For his return), he all love's goods did show,
In Hero seis'd for him, in him for Hero.
His most kind sister all his secrets knew,
And to her, singing, like a shower, he flew,
Sprinkling the earth, that to their tombs took in
Streams dead for love, to leave his ivory shin,
Which yet a snowy foam did leave above,
As soul to the dead water that did love;
And from hence did the first white roses spring
(For love is sweet and fair in everything),
And all the sweeten'd shore, as he did go,
Was crown'd with odorous roses, white as snow.
Love-blest Leander was with love so fill'd,
That love to all that touch'd him he instill'd;
And as the colours of all things we see,
To our sight's powers communicated be,
So to all objects that in compass came
Of any sense he had, his senses' flame
Flow'd from his parts with force so virtual,
It fir'd with sense things mere insensual.
Now, with warm baths and odours comforted,
When he lay down, he kindly kiss'd his bed,
As consecrating it to Hero's right,
And vow'd thereafter, that whatever sight
Put him in mind of Hero or her bliss,
Should be her altar to prefer a kiss.
Then laid he forth his late-enriched arms,
In whose white circle Love writ all his charms,
And made his characters sweet Hero's limbs,
When on his breast's warm sea she sideling swims;
And as those arms, held up in circle, met,
He said, 'See, sister, Hero's carquenet!
Which she had rather wear about her neck,
Than all the jewels that do Juno deck.'
But, as he shook with passionate desire
To put in flame his other secret fire,
A music so divine did pierce his ear,
As never yet his ravish'd sense did hear;
When suddenly a light of twenty hues
Brake through the roof, and, like the rainbow, views,
Amaz'd Leander: in whose beams came down
The goddess Ceremony, with a crown
Of all the stars; and Heaven with her descended:
Her flaming hair to her bright feet extended,
By which hung all the bench of deities;
And in a chain, compact of ears and eyes,
She led Religion: all her body was
Clear and transparent as the purest glass,
For she was all presented to the sense:
Devotion, Order, State, and Reverence,
Her shadows were; Society, Memory;
All which her sight made live, her absence die.
A rich disparent pentacle she wears,
Drawn full of circles and strange characters.
Her face was changeable to every eye;
One way look'd ill, another graciously;
Which while men view'd, they cheerful were and holy,
But looking off, vicious and melancholy.
The snaky paths to each observed law
Did Policy in her broad bosom draw.
One hand a mathematic crystal sways,
Which, gathering in one line a thousand rays
From her bright eyes, Confusion burns to death,
And all estates of men distinguisheth:
By it Morality and Comeliness
Themselves in all their sightly figures dress.
Her other hand a laurel rod applies,
To beat back Barbarism and Avarice,
That follow'd, eating earth and excrement
And human limbs; and would make proud ascent
To seats of gods, were Ceremony slain.
The Hours and Graces bore her glorious train;
And all the sweets of our society
Were spher'd and treasur'd in her bounteous eye.
Thus she appear'd, and sharply did reprove
Leander's bluntness in his violent love;
Told him how poor was substance without rites,
Like bills unsign'd; desires without delights;
Like meats unseason'd; like rank corn that grows
On cottages, that none or reaps or sows;
Not being with civil forms confirm'd and bounded,
For human dignities and comforts founded;
But loose and secret all their glories hide;
Fear fills the chamber, Darkness decks the bride.
She vanish'd, leaving pierc'd Leander's heart
With sense of his unceremonious part,
In which, with plain neglect of nuptial rites,
He close and flatly fell to his delights:
And instantly he vow'd to celebrate
All rites pertaining to his married state.
So up he gets, and to his father goes,
To whose glad ears he doth his vows disclose.
The nuptials are resolv'd with utmost power;
And he at night would swim to Hero's tower,
From whence he meant to Sestos' forked bay
To bring her covertly, where ships must stay,
Sent by his father, throughly rigg'd and mann'd,
To waft her safely to Abydos' strand.
There leave we him; and with fresh wing pursue
Astonish'd Hero, whose most wished view
I thus long have foreborne, because I left her
So out of countenance, and her spirits bereft her:
To look on one abash'd is impudence,
When of slight faults he hath too deep a sense.
Her blushing het her chamber; she look'd out,
And all the air she purpled round about;
And after it a foul black day befell,
Which ever since a red morn doth foretell,
And still renews our woes for Hero's woe;
And foul it prov'd because it figur'd so
The next night's horror; which prepare to hear;
I fail, if it profane your daintiest ear.
Then, ho, most strangely-intellectual fire,
That, proper to my soul, hast power t' inspire
Her burning faculties, and with the wings
Of thy unsphered flame visit'st the springs
Of spirits immortal! Now (as swift as Time
Doth follow Motion) find th' eternal clime
Of his free soul, whose living subject stood
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood,
And drunk to me half this Musaean story,
Inscribing it to deathless memory:
Confer with it, and make my pledge as deep,
That neither's draught be consecrate to sleep;
Tell it how much his late desires I tender
(If yet it know not), and to light surrender
My soul's dark offspring, willing it should die
To loves, to passions, and society.
Sweet Hero, left upon her bed alone,
Her maidenhead, her vows, Leander gone,
And nothing with her but a violent crew
Of new-come thoughts, that yet she never knew,
Even to herself a stranger, was much like
Th' Iberian city that War's hand did strike
By English force in princely Essex' guide,
When Peace assur'd her towers had fortified,
And golden-finger'd India had bestow'd
Such wealth on her, that strength and empire flow'd
Into her turrets, and her virgin waist
The wealthy girdle of the sea embraced;
Till our Leander, that made Mars his Cupid,
For soft love-suits, with iron thunders chid;
Swum to her towers, dissolv'd her virgin zone;
Led in his power, and made Confusion
Run through her streets amaz'd, that she suppos'd
She had not been in her own walls enclos'd,
But rapt by wonder to some foreign state,
Seeing all her issue so disconsolate,
And all her peaceful mansions possess'd
With war's just spoil, and many a foreign guest
From every corner driving an enjoyer,
Supplying it with power of a destroyer.
So far'd fair Hero in th' expugned fort
Of her chaste bosom; and of every sort
Strange thoughts possess'd her, ransacking her breast
For that that was not there, her wonted rest.
She was a mother straight, and bore with pain
Thoughts that spake straight, and wish'd their mother slain;
She hates their lives, and they their own and hers:
Such strife still grows where sin the race prefers:
Love is a golden bubble, full of dreams,
That waking breaks, and fills us with extremes.
She mus'd how she could look upon her sire,
And not shew that without, that was intire;
For as a glass is an inanimate eye,
And outward forms embraceth inwardly,
So is the eye an animate glass, that shows
In-forms without us; and as Phoebus throws
His beams abroad, though he in clouds be clos'd,
Still glancing by them till he find oppos'd
A loose and rorid vapour that is fit
T' event his searching beams, and useth it
To form a tender twenty-colour'd eye,
Cast in a circle round about the sky;
So when our fiery soul, our body's star,
(That ever is in motion circular,)
Conceives a form, in seeking to display it
Through all our cloudy parts, it doth convey it
Forth at the eye, as the most pregnant place,
And that reflects it round about the face.
And this event, uncourtly Hero thought,
Her inward guilt would in her looks have wrought;
For yet the world's stale cunning she resisted,
To bear foul thoughts, yet forge what looks she listed,
And held it for a very silly sleight,
To make a perfect metal counterfeit,
Glad to disclaim herself, proud of an art
That makes the face a pandar to the heart.
Those be the painted moons, whose lights profane
Beauty's true Heaven, at full still in their wane;
Those be the lapwing-faces that still cry,
'Here 'tis!' when that they vow is nothing nigh:
Base fools! when every moorish fool can teach
That which men think the height of human reach.
But custom, that the apoplexy is
Of bed-rid nature and lives led amiss,
And takes away all feeling of offence,
Yet braz'd not Hero's brow with impudence;
And this she thought most hard to bring to pass,
To seem in countenance other than she was,
As if she had two souls, one for the face,
One for the heart, and that they shifted place
As either list to utter or conceal
What they conceiv'd, or as one soul did deal
With both affairs at once, keeps and ejects
Both at an instant contrary effects;
Retention and ejection in her powers
Being acts alike; for this one vice of ours,
That forms the thought, and sways the countenance,
Rules both our motion and our utterance.
These and more grave conceits toil'd Hero's spirits;
For, though the light of her discoursive wits
Perhaps might find some little hole to pass
Through all these worldly cinctures, yet, alas!
There was a heavenly flame encompass'd her,--
Her goddess, in whose fane she did prefer
Her virgin vows, from whose impulsive sight
She knew the black shield of the darkest night
Could not defend her, nor wit's subtlest art:
This was the point pierc'd Hero to the heart;
Who, heavy to the death, with a deep sigh,
And hand that languished, took a robe was nigh,
Exceeding large, and of black cypres made,
In which she sate, hid from the day in shade,
Even over head and face, down to her feet;
Her left hand made it at her bosom meet,
Her right hand lean'd on her heart-bowing knee,
Wrapp'd in unshapeful folds, 'twas death to see;
Her knee stay'd that, and that her falling face;
Each limb help'd other to put on disgrace:
No form was seen, where form held all her sight;
But like an embryon that saw never light,
Or like a scorched statue made a coal
With three-wing'd lightning, or a wretched soul
Muffled with endless darkness, she did sit:
The night had never such a heavy spirit.
Yet might a penetrating eye well see
How fast her clear tears melted on her knee
Through her black veil, and turn'd as black as it,
Mourning to be her tears. Then wrought her wit
With her broke vow, her goddess' wrath, her fame,--
All tools that enginous despair could frame:
Which made her strew the floor with her torn hair,
And spread her mantle piece-meal in the air.
Like Jove's son's club, strong passion struck her down,
And with a piteous shriek enforc'd her swoun:
Her shriek made with another shriek ascend
The frighted matron that on her did tend;
And as with her own cry her sense was slain,
So with the other it was called again.
She rose, and to her bed made forced way,
And laid her down even where Leander lay;
And all this while the red sea of her blood
Ebb'd with Leander: but now turn'd the flood,
And all her fleet of spirits came swelling in,
With child of sail, and did hot fight begin
With those severe conceits she too much marked:
And here Leander's beauties were embarked.
He came in swimming, painted all with joys,
Such as might sweeten hell: his thought destroys
All her destroying thoughts; she thought she felt
His heart in hers, with her contentions melt,
And chide her soul that it could so much err,
To check the true joys he deserved in her.
Her fresh-heat blood cast figures in her eyes,
And she suppos'd she saw in Neptune's skies
How her star wander'd, wash'd in smarting brine,
For her love's sake, that with immortal wine
Should be embath'd, and swim in more heart's-ease
Than there was water in the Sestian seas.
Then said her Cupid-prompted spirit, 'Shall I
Sing moans to such delightsome harmony?
Shall slick-tongu'd Fame, patch'd up with voices rude,
The drunken bastard of the multitude
(Begot when father Judgment is away,
And, gossip-like, says because others say,
Takes news as if it were too hot to eat,
And spits it slavering forth for dog-fees meat),
Make me, for forging a fantastic vow,
Presume to bear what makes grave matrons bow?
Good vows are never broken with good deeds,
For then good deeds were bad: vows are but seeds,
And good deeds fruits; even those good deeds that grow
From other stocks than from th' observed vow.
That is a good deed that prevents a bad:
Had I not yielded, slain myself I had.
Hero Leander is, Leander Hero;
Such virtue love hath to make one of two.
If, then, Leander did my maidenhead git,
Leander being myself, I still retain it:
We break chaste vows when we live loosely ever,
But bound as we are, we live loosely never:
Two constant lovers being join'd in one,
Yielding to one another, yield to none.
We know not how to vow till love unblind us,
And vows made ignorantly never bind us.
Too true it is, that, when 'tis gone, men hate
The joy as vain they took in love's estate:
But that's since they have lost the heavenly light
Should show them way to judge of all things right.
When life is gone, death must implant his terror:
As death is foe to life, so love to error.
Before we love, how range we through this sphere,
Searching the sundry fancies hunted here:
Now with desire of wealth transported quite
Beyond our free humanity's delight;
Now with ambition climbing falling towers,
Whose hope to scale, our fear to fall devours;
Now rapt with pastimes, pomp, all joys impure:
In things without us no delight is sure.
But love, with all joys crowned, within doth sit:
O goddess, pity love, and pardon it!'
Thus spake she weeping: but her goddess' ear
Burn'd with too stern a heat, and would not hear.
Ay me! hath heaven's strait fingers no more graces
For such as Hero than for homeliest faces?
Yet she hoped well, and in her sweet conceit
Weighing her arguments, she thought them weight,
And that the logic of Leander's beauty,
And them together, would bring proofs of duty;
And if her soul, that was a skilful glance
Of heaven's great essence, found such imperance
In her love's beauties, she had confidence
Jove loved him too, and pardoned her offence:
Beauty in heaven and earth this grace doth win,
It supples rigour, and it lessens sin.
Thus, her sharp wit, her love, her secrecy,
Trooping together, made her wonder why
She should not leave her bed, and to the temple;
Her health said she must live; her sex, dissemble.
She viewed Leander's place, and wished he were
Turned to his place, so his place were Leander.
'Ay me,' said she, 'that love's sweet life and sense
Should do it harm! my love had not gone hence
Had he been like his place: O blessed place,
Image of constancy! Thus my love's grace
Parts nowhere, but it leaves something behind
Worth observation: he renowns his kind:
His motion is, like heaven's, orbicular,
For where he once is, he is ever there.
This place was mine; Leander, now 'tis thine;
Thou being myself, then it is double mine,
Mine, and Leander's mine, Leander's mine.
O, see what wealth it yields me, nay, yields him!
For I am in it, he for me doth swim.
Rich, fruitful love, that, doubling self estates,
Elixir-like contracts, though separates!
Dear place, I kiss thee, and do welcome thee,
As from Leander ever sent to me.'
Gone With The Sin
I love your skin oh so white
I love your touch cold as ice
And I love every single tear you cry
I just love the way youre losing your life
Ohohohohoh my baby, how beautiful you are
Ohohohohoh my darling, completely torn apart
Youre gone with the sin my baby and beautiful you are
Youre gone with the sin my darling
I adore the despair in your eyes
I worship your lips once red as wine
I crave for your scent sending shivers down my spine
I just love the way youre running out of life
Ohohohohoh my baby, how beautiful you are
Ohohohohoh my darling, completely torn apart
Youre gone with the sin my baby and beautiful you are
Youre gone with the sin my darling
2x repeat refrain
Gone With The Sin
I love your skin oh so white
I love your touch cold as ice
And i love every single tear you cry
I just love the way you're losing your life
Ohohohohoh my baby, how beautiful you are
Ohohohohoh my darling, completely torn apart
You're gone with the sin my baby and beautiful you are
You're gone with the sin my darling
I adore the despair in your eyes
I worship your lips once red as wine
I crave for your scent sending shivers down my spine
I just love the way you're running out of life
Ohohohohoh my baby, how beautiful you are
Ohohohohoh my darling, completely torn apart
You're gone with the sin my baby and beautiful you are
You're gone with the sin my darling
2x repeat refrain
How hard for me, the splendor of this crown and robe
-- How hard for me, the splendor of this crown and robe,
amidst my shame --
-- In stony Troezen will be an infamous calamity,
the royal staircase will grow red with disgrace,
. . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . .
and for the mother in love,
the black sun will rise.
-- O, if hate would boil in my breast --
but see, the admission itself
has fallen from my lips.
-- Phedre burns in a black flame
in broad daylight.
The funeral torch fumes
in broad white daylight.
Dread your mother, Hippolytus:
Phedre -- night -- watche s over you
in broad white day.
-- I have stained the sun with black love . . .
Death from a bottle will cool my ardor --
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
-- We are afraid, we do not dare
relieve the king's grief.
Wounded by Theseus, night
fell upon him. But we,
with a funeral song bringing home the dead,
will pacify the black sun
of wild and sleepless passion.
I found him looking into my eyes
I blushed & smiled
But no romance can ever fall upon
I married the best man
I found myself falling for him
No he isnt my husband
He is the dark stranger
who came right out of my dreams
I stayed away from trouble
Stayed away from him..
It shouldn't hurt me but it did
Whereever I went My Heart
My Broken heart sought for him
Longed to love
To be loved
It wasn't long before - I
Body Heart and Soul - To
this man of my dreams
The best daughter ever- She
sinned & hurt us through
How did she manage to sin - When
Her husband loves her through
Always thought she was perfect
Too good to be true - Maybe
he used black magic - To
swipe her off her feet
For my daughter is not the one
To loose us to the devil - I
will fight till I die to
make sure my daughter never
lives with the devilish man
I love him - I plead
Just let me go
I will never be happy
Living so far away
Now that I ve seen love
Now that I ve seen passion
How do I let it go
When I see that I can be Happy
Like never ever before
Let me go people
Let me go to my man
Let me free
Let me love & be loved
By the man of my dreams....
All All And All The Dry Worlds Lever
All all and all the dry worlds lever,
Stage of the ice, the solid ocean,
All from the oil, the pound of lava.
City of spring, the governed flower,
Turns in the earth that turns the ashen
Towns around on a wheel of fire.
How now my flesh, my naked fellow,
Dug of the sea, the glanded morrow,
Worm in the scalp, the staked and fallow.
All all and all, the corpse's lover,
Skinny as sin, the foaming marrow,
All of the flesh, the dry worlds lever.
Fear not the waking world, my mortal,
Fear not the flat, synthetic blood,
Nor the heart in the ribbing metal.
Fear not the tread, the seeded milling,
The trigger and scythe, the bridal blade,
Nor the flint in the lover's mauling.
Man of my flesh, the jawbone riven,
Know now the flesh's lock and vice,
And the cage for the scythe-eyed raver.
Know, O my bone, the jointed lever,
Fear not the screws that turn the voice,
And the face to the driven lover.
All all and all the dry worlds couple,
Ghost with her ghost, contagious man
With the womb of his shapeless people.
All that shapes from the caul and suckle,
Stroke of mechanical flesh on mine,
Square in these worlds the mortal circle.
Flower, flower the people's fusion,
O light in zenith, the coupled bud,
And the flame in the flesh's vision.
Out of the sea, the drive of oil,
Socket and grave, the brassy blood,
Flower, flower, all all and all.
Elegy XVI. He Suggests the Advantage of Birth To a Person of Merit
When genius, graced with lineal splendour, glows,
When title shines, with ambient virtues crown'd,
Like some fair almond's flowery pomp it shows,
The pride, the perfume, of the regions round.
Then learn, ye Fair! to soften splendour's ray;
Endure the swain, the youth of low degree;
Let meekness join'd its temperate beam display;
'Tis the mild verdure that endears the tree.
Pity the sandall'd swain, the shepherd's boy;
He sighs to brighten a neglected name;
Foe to the dull applause of vulgar joy,
He mourns his lot; he wishes, merits fame.
In vain to groves and pathless vales we fly;
Ambition there the bowery haunt invades;
Fame's awful rays fatigue the courtier's eye,
But gleam still lovely through the chequer'd shades.
Vainly, to guard from Love's unequal chain,
Has Fortune rear'd us in the rural grove;
Should --'s eyes illume the desert plain,
Even I may wonder, and even I must love.
Not unregarded sighs the lowly hind;
Though you contemn, the gods respect his vow;
Vindictive rage awaits the scornful mind,
And vengeance, too severe! the gods allow.
On Sarum's plain I met a wandering fair;
The look of sorrow, lovely still, she bore;
Loose flow'd the soft redundance of her hair,
And on her brow a flowery wreath she wore.
Oft stooping as she stray'd, she cull'd the pride
Of every plain; she pillaged every grove!
The fading chaplet daily she supplied,
And still her hand some various garland wove.
Erroneous Fancy shaped her wild attire:
From Bethlem's walls the poor lymphatic stray'd;
Seem'd with her air, her accent, to conspire,
When, as wild Fancy taught her, thus she said:
'Hear me, dear Youth! oh, bear an hapless maid,
Sprung from the scepter'd line of ancient kings!
Scorn'd by the world, I ask thy tender aid;
Thy gentle voice shall whisper kinder things.
'The world is frantic-fly the race profane-.
Nor I, nor you, shall its compassion move:
Come, friendly let us wander and complain;
And tell me, Shepherd! hast thou seen my love?
'My love is young-but other loves are young;
And other loves are fair, and so is mine;
An air divine discloses whence he sprung;
He is my love, who boasts that air divine.
'No vulgar Damon robs me of my rest;
Ianthe listens to no vulgar vow;
A prince, from gods descended, fires her breast;
A brilliant crown distinguishes his brow.
'What! shall I stain the glories of my race,
More clear, more lovely bright, than Hesper's beam?
The porcelain pure with vulgar dirt debase?
Or mix with puddle the pellucid stream?
'See through these veins the sapphire current shine!
'Twas Jove's own nectar gave th' ethereal hue:
Can base plebeian forms contend with mine,
Display the lovely white, or match the blue?
'The painter strove to trace its azure ray;
He changed his colours, and in vain he strove:
He frown'd-I, smiling, view'd the faint essay:
Poor youth! he little knew it flow'd from Jove.
'Pitying his toil, the wondrous truth I told,
How amorous Jove trepann'd a mortal fair;
How through the race the generous current roll'd,
And mocks the poet's art and painter's care.
'Yes, from the gods, from earliest Saturn, sprung
Our sacred race, through demi-gods convey'd,
And he, allied to PhÅ“bus, ever young,
My godlike boy! must wed their duteous maid.
'Oft, when a mortal vow profanes my ear,
My sire's dread fury murmurs through the sky;
And should I yield-his instant rage appears;
He darts th' uplifted vengeance-and I die.
'Have you not heard unwonted thunders roll?
Have you not seen more horrid lightnings glare?
'Twas then a vulgar love ensnared my soul;
'Twas then-I hardly 'scaped the fatal snare.
''Twas then a peasant pour'd his amorous vow,
All as I listen'd to his vulgar strain;-
Yet such his beauty-would my birth allow,
Dear were the youth, and blissful were the plain.
'But, oh, I faint! why wastes my vernal bloom,
In fruitless searches ever doom'd to rove?
My nightly dreams the toilsome path resume,
And I shall die-before I find my love.
'When last I slept, methought my ravish'd eye
On distant heaths his radiant form survey'd;
Though night's thick clouds encompass'd all the sky,
The gems that bound his brow dispell'd the shade.
'O how this bosom kindled at the sight!
Led by their beams I urged the pleasing chase,
Till, on a sudden, these withheld their light-
All, all things envy the sublime embrace.
'But now no more-Behind the distant grove
Wanders my destined youth, and chides my stay:
See, see! he grasps the steel-Forbear, my Love-
Ianthe comes; thy princess hastes away.'
Scornful she spoke, and, heedless of reply,
The lovely maniac bounded o'er the plain,
The piteous victim of an angry sky!
Ah me! the victim of her proud disdain.
Book IV - Part 02 - Existence And Character Of The Images
But since I've taught already of what sort
The seeds of all things are, and how distinct
In divers forms they flit of own accord,
Stirred with a motion everlasting on,
And in what mode things be from them create,
And since I've taught what the mind's nature is,
And of what things 'tis with the body knit
And thrives in strength, and by what mode uptorn
That mind returns to its primordials,
Now will I undertake an argument-
One for these matters of supreme concern-
That there exist those somewhats which we call
The images of things: these, like to films
Scaled off the utmost outside of the things,
Flit hither and thither through the atmosphere,
And the same terrify our intellects,
Coming upon us waking or in sleep,
When oft we peer at wonderful strange shapes
And images of people lorn of light,
Which oft have horribly roused us when we lay
In slumber- that haply nevermore may we
Suppose that souls get loose from Acheron,
Or shades go floating in among the living,
Or aught of us is left behind at death,
When body and mind, destroyed together, each
Back to its own primordials goes away.
And thus I say that effigies of things,
And tenuous shapes from off the things are sent,
From off the utmost outside of the things,
Which are like films or may be named a rind,
Because the image bears like look and form
With whatso body has shed it fluttering forth-
A fact thou mayst, however dull thy wits,
Well learn from this: mainly, because we see
Even 'mongst visible objects many be
That send forth bodies, loosely some diffused-
Like smoke from oaken logs and heat from fires-
And some more interwoven and condensed-
As when the locusts in the summertime
Put off their glossy tunics, or when calves
At birth drop membranes from their body's surface,
Or when, again, the slippery serpent doffs
Its vestments 'mongst the thorns- for oft we see
The breres augmented with their flying spoils:
Since such takes place, 'tis likewise certain too
That tenuous images from things are sent,
From off the utmost outside of the things.
For why those kinds should drop and part from things,
Rather than others tenuous and thin,
No power has man to open mouth to tell;
Especially, since on outsides of things
Are bodies many and minute which could,
In the same order which they had before,
And with the figure of their form preserved,
Be thrown abroad, and much more swiftly too,
Being less subject to impediments,
As few in number and placed along the front.
For truly many things we see discharge
Their stuff at large, not only from their cores
Deep-set within, as we have said above,
But from their surfaces at times no less-
Their very colours too. And commonly
The awnings, saffron, red and dusky blue,
Stretched overhead in mighty theatres,
Upon their poles and cross-beams fluttering,
Have such an action quite; for there they dye
And make to undulate with their every hue
The circled throng below, and all the stage,
And rich attire in the patrician seats.
And ever the more the theatre's dark walls
Around them shut, the more all things within
Laugh in the bright suffusion of strange glints,
The daylight being withdrawn. And therefore, since
The canvas hangings thus discharge their dye
From off their surface, things in general must
Likewise their tenuous effigies discharge,
Because in either case they are off-thrown
From off the surface. So there are indeed
Such certain prints and vestiges of forms
Which flit around, of subtlest texture made,
Invisible, when separate, each and one.
Again, all odour, smoke, and heat, and such
Streams out of things diffusedly, because,
Whilst coming from the deeps of body forth
And rising out, along their bending path
They're torn asunder, nor have gateways straight
Wherethrough to mass themselves and struggle abroad.
But contrariwise, when such a tenuous film
Of outside colour is thrown off, there's naught
Can rend it, since 'tis placed along the front
Ready to hand. Lastly those images
Which to our eyes in mirrors do appear,
In water, or in any shining surface,
Must be, since furnished with like look of things,
Fashioned from images of things sent out.
There are, then, tenuous effigies of forms,
Like unto them, which no one can divine
When taken singly, which do yet give back,
When by continued and recurrent discharge
Expelled, a picture from the mirrors' plane.
Nor otherwise, it seems, can they be kept
So well conserved that thus be given back
Figures so like each object.
Now then, learn
How tenuous is the nature of an image.
And in the first place, since primordials be
So far beneath our senses, and much less
E'en than those objects which begin to grow
Too small for eyes to note, learn now in few
How nice are the beginnings of all things-
That this, too, I may yet confirm in proof:
First, living creatures are sometimes so small
That even their third part can nowise be seen;
Judge, then, the size of any inward organ-
What of their sphered heart, their eyes, their limbs,
The skeleton?- How tiny thus they are!
And what besides of those first particles
Whence soul and mind must fashioned be?- Seest not
How nice and how minute? Besides, whatever
Exhales from out its body a sharp smell-
The nauseous absinth, or the panacea,
Strong southernwood, or bitter centaury-
If never so lightly with thy [fingers] twain
Perchance [thou touch] a one of them
Then why not rather know that images
Flit hither and thither, many, in many modes,
Bodiless and invisible?
Haply thou holdest that those images
Which come from objects are the sole that flit,
Others indeed there be of own accord
Begot, self-formed in earth's aery skies,
Which, moulded to innumerable shapes,
Are borne aloft, and, fluid as they are,
Cease not to change appearance and to turn
Into new outlines of all sorts of forms;
As we behold the clouds grow thick on high
And smirch the serene vision of the world,
Stroking the air with motions. For oft are seen
The giants' faces flying far along
And trailing a spread of shadow; and at times
The mighty mountains and mountain-sundered rocks
Going before and crossing on the sun,
Whereafter a monstrous beast dragging amain
And leading in the other thunderheads.
Now [hear] how easy and how swift they be
Engendered, and perpetually flow off
From things and gliding pass away....
For ever every outside streams away
From off all objects, since discharge they may;
And when this outside reaches other things,
As chiefly glass, it passes through; but where
It reaches the rough rocks or stuff of wood,
There 'tis so rent that it cannot give back
An image. But when gleaming objects dense,
As chiefly mirrors, have been set before it,
Nothing of this sort happens. For it can't
Go, as through glass, nor yet be rent- its safety,
By virtue of that smoothness, being sure.
'Tis therefore that from them the images
Stream back to us; and howso suddenly
Thou place, at any instant, anything
Before a mirror, there an image shows;
Proving that ever from a body's surface
Flow off thin textures and thin shapes of things.
Thus many images in little time
Are gendered; so their origin is named
Rightly a speedy. And even as the sun
Must send below, in little time, to earth
So many beams to keep all things so full
Of light incessant; thus, on grounds the same,
From things there must be borne, in many modes,
To every quarter round, upon the moment,
The many images of things; because
Unto whatever face of things we turn
The mirror, things of form and hue the same
Respond. Besides, though but a moment since
Serenest was the weather of the sky,
So fiercely sudden is it foully thick
That ye might think that round about all murk
Had parted forth from Acheron and filled
The mighty vaults of sky- so grievously,
As gathers thus the storm-clouds' gruesome night,
Do faces of black horror hang on high-
Of which how small a part an image is
There's none to tell or reckon out in words.
Now come; with what swift motion they are borne,
These images, and what the speed assigned
To them across the breezes swimming on-
So that o'er lengths of space a little hour
Alone is wasted, toward whatever region
Each with its divers impulse tends- I'll tell
In verses sweeter than they many are;
Even as the swan's slight note is better far
Than that dispersed clamour of the cranes
Among the southwind's aery clouds. And first,
One oft may see that objects which are light
And made of tiny bodies are the swift;
In which class is the sun's light and his heat,
Since made from small primordial elements
Which, as it were, are forward knocked along
And through the interspaces of the air
To pass delay not, urged by blows behind;
For light by light is instantly supplied
And gleam by following gleam is spurred and driven.
Thus likewise must the images have power
Through unimaginable space to speed
Within a point of time,- first, since a cause
Exceeding small there is, which at their back
Far forward drives them and propels, where, too,
They're carried with such winged lightness on;
And, secondly, since furnished, when sent off,
With texture of such rareness that they can
Through objects whatsoever penetrate
And ooze, as 'twere, through intervening air.
Besides, if those fine particles of things
Which from so deep within are sent abroad,
As light and heat of sun, are seen to glide
And spread themselves through all the space of heaven
Upon one instant of the day, and fly
O'er sea and lands and flood the heaven, what then
Of those which on the outside stand prepared,
When they're hurled off with not a thing to check
Their going out? Dost thou not see indeed
How swifter and how farther must they go
And speed through manifold the length of space
In time the same that from the sun the rays
O'erspread the heaven? This also seems to be
Example chief and true with what swift speed
The images of things are borne about:
That soon as ever under open skies
Is spread the shining water, all at once,
If stars be out in heaven, upgleam from earth,
Serene and radiant in the water there,
The constellations of the universe-
Now seest thou not in what a point of time
An image from the shores of ether falls
Unto the shores of earth? Wherefore, again,
And yet again, 'tis needful to confess
Hero And Leander. The Sixth Sestiad
No longer could the Day nor Destinies
Delay the Night, who now did frowning rise
Into her throne; and at her humorous breasts
Visions and Dreams lay sucking: all men's rests
Fell like the mists of death upon their eyes,
Day's too-long darts so kill'd their faculties.
The Winds yet, like the flowers, to cease began;
For bright Leucote, Venus' whitest swan,
That held sweet Hero dear, spread her fair wings,
Like to a field of snow, and message brings
From Venus to the Fates, t'entreat them lay
Their charge upon the Winds their rage to stay,
That the stern battle of the seas might cease,
And guard Leander to his love in peace.
The Fates consent;--ay me, dissembling Fates!
They showed their favours to conceal their hates,
And draw Leander on, lest seas too high
Should stay his too obsequious destiny:
Who like a fleering slavish parasite,
In warping profit or a traitorous sleight,
Hoops round his rotten body with devotes,
And pricks his descant face full of false notes;
Praising with open throat, and oaths as foul
As his false heart, the beauty of an owl;
Kissing his skipping hand with charmed skips,
That cannot leave, but leaps upon his lips
Like a cock-sparrow, or a shameless quean
Sharp at a red-lipp'd youth, and naught doth mean
Of all his antic shows, but doth repair
More tender fawns, and takes a scatter'd hair
From his tame subject's shoulder; whips and calls
For everything he lacks; creeps 'gainst the walls
With backward humbless, to give needless way:
Thus his false fate did with Leander play.
First to black Eurus flies the white Leucote
(Born 'mongst the negroes in the Levant sea,
On whose curl'd heads the glowing sun doth rise),
And shows the sovereign will of Destinies,
To have him cease his blasts; and down he lies.
Next, to the fenny Notus course she holds,
And found him leaning, with his arms in folds,
Upon a rock, his white hair full of showers;
And him she chargeth by the fatal powers,
To hold in his wet cheeks his cloudy voice.
To Zephyr then that doth in flowers rejoice:
To snake-foot Boreas next she did remove,
And found him tossing of his ravished love,
To heat his frosty bosom hid in snow;
Who with Leucote's sight did cease to blow.
Thus all were still to Hero's heart's desire;
Who with all speed did consecrate a fire
Of flaming gums and comfortable spice,
To light her torch, which in such curious price
She held, being object to Leander's sight,
That naught but fires perfumed must give it light.
She loved it so, she griev'd to see it burn,
Since it would waste, and soon to ashes turn:
Yet, if it burned not, 'twere not worth her eyes;
What made it nothing, gave it all the prize.
Sweet torch, true glass of our society!
What man does good, but he consumes thereby?
But thou wert loved for good, held high, given show;
Poor virtue loathed for good, obscured, held low:
Do good, be pined,--be deedless good, disgraced;
Unless we feed on men, we let them fast.
Yet Hero with these thoughts her torch did spend:
When bees make wax, Nature doth not intend
It should be made a torch; but we, that know
The proper virtue of it, make it so,
And, when 'tis made, we light it: nor did Nature
Propose one life to maids; but each such creature
Makes by her soul the best of her free state,
Which without love is rude, disconsolate,
And wants love's fire to make it mild and bright,
Till when, maids are but torches wanting light.
Thus 'gainst our grief, not cause of grief, we fight:
The right of naught is glean'd, but the delight.
Up went she: but to tell how she descended,
Would God she were dead, or my verse ended!
She was the rule of wishes, sum, and end,
For all the parts that did on love depend:
Yet cast the torch his brightness further forth;
But what shines nearest best, holds truest worth.
Leander did not through such tempests swim
To kiss the torch, although it lighted him:
But all his powers in her desires awaked,
Her love and virtues clothed him richly naked.
Men kiss but fire that only shows pursue;
Her torch and Hero, figure show and virtue.
Now at opposed Abydos naught was heard
But bleating flocks, and many a bellowing herd,
Slain for the nuptials; cracks of falling woods;
Blows of broad axes; pourings out of floods.
The guilty Hellespont was mix'd and stained
With bloody torrents that the shambles rained;
Not arguments of feast, but shows that bled,
Foretelling that red night that followed.
More blood was spilt, more honours were addrest,
Than could have graced any happy feast;
Rich banquets, triumphs, every pomp employs
His sumptuous hand; no miser's nuptial joys.
Air felt continual thunder with the noise
Made in the general marriage-violence;
And no man knew the cause of this expense,
But the two hapless lords, Leander's sire,
And poor Leander, poorest where the fire
Of credulous love made him most rich surmis'd:
As short was he of that himself he prized,
As is an empty gallant full of form,
That thinks each look an act, each drop a storm,
That falls from his brave breathings; most brought up
In our metropolis, and hath his cup
Brought after him to feasts; and much palm bears
For his rare judgment in th' attire he wears;
Hath seen the hot Low-Countries, not their heat,
Observes their rampires and their buildings yet;
And, for your sweet discourse with mouths, is heard
Giving instructions with his very beard;
Hath gone with an ambassador, and been
A great man's mate in travelling, even to Rhene;
And then puts all his worth in such a face
As he saw brave men make, and strives for grace
To get his news forth: as when you descry
A ship, with all her sail contends to fly
Out of the narrow Thames with winds unapt,
Now crosseth here, then there, then this way rapt,
And then hath one point reach'd, then alters all,
And to another crooked reach doth fall
Of half a bird-bolt's shoot, keeping more coil
Than if she danc'd upon the ocean's toil;
So serious is his trifling company,
In all his swelling ship of vacantry
And so short of himself in his high thought
Was our Leander in his fortunes brought,
And in his fort of love that he thought won;
But otherwise he scorns comparison.
O sweet Leander, thy large worth I hide
In a short grave! ill-favour'd storms must chide
Thy sacred favour; I in floods of ink
Must drown thy graces, which white papers drink,
Even as thy beauties did the foul black seas;
I must describe the hell of thy decease,
That heaven did merit: yet I needs must see
Our painted fools and cockhorse peasantry
Still, still usurp, with long lives, loves, and lust,
The seats of Virtue, cutting short as dust
Her dear-bought issue: ill to worse converts,
And tramples in the blood of all deserts.
Night close and silent now goes fast before
The captains and the soldiers to the shore,
On whom attended the appointed fleet
At Sestos' bay, that should Leander meet,
Who feigned he in another ship would pass:
Which must not be, for no one mean there was
To get his love home, but the course he took.
Forth did his beauty for his beauty look,
And saw her through her torch, as you behold
Sometimes within the sun a face of gold,
Formed in strong thoughts, by that tradition's force
That says a god sits there and guides his course.
His sister was with him; to whom he show'd
His guide by sea, and said, 'Oft have you view'd
In one heaven many stars, but never yet
In one star many heavens till now were met.
See, lovely sister! see, now Hero shines,
No heaven but her appears; each star repines,
And all are clad in clouds, as if they mourned
To be by influence of earth out-burned.
Yet doth she shine, and teacheth Virtue's train
Still to be constant in hell's blackest reign,
Though even the gods themselves do so entreat them
As they did hate, and earth as she would eat them.'
Off went his silken robe, and in he leapt,
Whom the kind waves so licorously cleapt,
Thickening for haste, one in another, so,
To kiss his skin, that he might almost go
To Hero's tower, had that kind minute lasted.
But now the cruel Fates with Ate hasted
To all the winds, and made them battle fight
Upon the Hellespont, for either's right
Pretended to the windy monarchy;
And forth they brake, the seas mixed with the sky,
And tossed distressed Leander, being in hell,
As high as heaven: bliss not in height doth dwell.
The Destinies sate dancing on the waves,
To see the glorious Winds with mutual braves
Consume each other: O, true glass, to see
How ruinous ambitious statists be
To their own glories! Poor Leander cried
For help to sea-born Venus she denied;
To Boreas, that, for his Atthaea's sake
He would some pity on his Hero take,
And for his own love's sake, on his desires;
But Glory never blows cold Pity's fires.
Then call'd he Neptune, who, through all the noise,
Knew with affright his wreck'd Leander's voice,
And up he rose; for haste his forehead hit
'Gainst heaven's hard crystal; his proud waves he smit
With his forked sceptre, that could not obey;
Much greater powers than Neptune's gave them sway.
They loved Leander so, in groans they brake
When they came near him; and such space did take
'Twixt one another, loath to issue on,
That in their shallow furrows earth was shown,
And the poor lover took a little breath:
But the curst Fates sate spinning of his death
On every wave, and with the servile Winds
Tumbled them on him. And now Hero finds,
By that she felt, her dear Leander's state:
She wept, and prayed for him to every Fate;
And every Wind that whipped her with her hair
About the face, she kissed and spake it fair,
Kneeled to it, gave it drink out of her eyes
To quench his thirst: but still their cruelties
Even her poor torch envied, and rudely beat
The baiting flame from that dear food it eat;
Dear, for it nourish'd her Leander's life;
Which with her robe she rescued from their strife;
But silk too soft was such hard hearts to break;
And she, dear soul, even as her silk, faint, weak,
Could not preserve it; out, O, out it went!
Leander still call'd Neptune, that now rent
His brackish curls, and tore his wrinkled face,
Where tears in billows did each other chase;
And, burst with ruth, he hurl'd his marble mace
At the stern Fates: it wounded Lachesis
That drew Leander's thread, and could not miss
The thread itself, as it her hand did hit,
But smote it full, and quite did sunder it.
The more kind Neptune raged, the more he razed
His love's life's fort, and kill'd as he embraced:
Anger doth still his own mishap increase;
If any comfort live, it is in peace.
O thievish Fates, to let blood, flesh, and sense,
Build two fair temples for their excellence,
To robe it with a poisoned influence!
Though souls' gifts starve, the bodies are held dear
In ugliest things; sense-sport preserves a bear:
But here naught serves our turns: O heaven and earth,
How most-most wretched is our human birth!
And now did all the tyrannous crew depart,
Knowing there was a storm in Hero's heart,
Greater than they could make, and scorn'd their smart.
She bow'd herself so low out of her tower,
That wonder 'twas she fell not ere her hour,
With searching the lamenting waves for him:
Like a poor snail, her gentle supple limb
Hung on her turret's top, so most downright,
As she would dive beneath the darkness quite,
To find her jewel;--jewel!--her Leander,
A name of all earth's jewels pleas'd not her
Like his dear name: 'Leander, still my choice,
Come naught but my Leander! O my voice,
Turn to Leander! henceforth be all sounds,
Accents and phrases, that show all griefs' wounds,
Analyzed in Leander! O black change!
Trumpets, do you, with thunder of your clange,
Drive out this change's horror! My voice faints:
Where all joy was, now shriek out all complaints!'
Thus cried she; for her mixed soul could tell
Her love was dead: and when the Morning fell
Prostrate upon the weeping earth for woe,
Blushes, that bled out of her cheeks, did show
Leander brought by Neptune, bruis'd and torn
With cities' ruins he to rocks had worn,
To filthy usuring rocks, that would have blood,
Though they could get of him no other good.
She saw him, and the sight was much-much more
Than might have serv'd to kill her: should her store
Of giant sorrows speak?--Burst,--die,--bleed,
And leave poor plaints to us that shall succeed.
She fell on her love's bosom, hugged it fast,
And with Leander's name she breathed her last.
Neptune for pity in his arms did take them,
Flung them into the air, and did awake them
Like two sweet birds, surnam'd th' Acanthides,
Which we call Thistle-warps, that near no seas
Dare ever come, but still in couples fly,
And feed on thistle-tops, to testify
The hardness of their first life in their last;
The first, in thorns of love, that sorrows past:
And so most beautiful their colours show,
As none (so little) like them; her sad brow
A sable velvet feather covers quite,
Even like the forehead-cloth that, in the night,
Or when they sorrow, ladies use to wear:
Their wings, blue, red, and yellow, mixed appear:
Colours that, as we construe colours, paint
Their states to life;--the yellow shows their saint,
The dainty Venus, left them; blue their truth;
The red and black, ensigns of death and ruth.
And this true honour from their love-death sprung,--
They were the first that ever poet sung.
Coplas De Manrique (From The Spanish)
O let the soul her slumbers break,
Let thought be quickened, and awake;
Awake to see
How soon this life is past and gone,
And death comes softly stealing on,
Swiftly our pleasures glide away,
Our hearts recall the distant day
With many sighs;
The moments that are speeding fast
We heed not, but the past,-the past,
More highly prize.
Onward its course the present keeps,
Onward the constant current sweeps,
Till life is done;
And, did we judge of time aright,
The past and future in their flight
Would be as one.
Let no one fondly dream again,
That Hope and all her shadowy train
Will not decay;
Fleeting as were the dreams of old,
Remembered like a tale that's told,
They pass away.
Our lives are rivers, gliding free
To that unfathomed, boundless sea,
The silent grave!
Thither all earthly pomp and boast
Roll, to be swallowed up and lost
In one dark wave.
Thither the mighty torrents stray,
Thither the brook pursues its way,
And tinkling rill,
There all are equal; side by side
The poor man and the son of pride
Lie calm and still.
I will not here invoke the throng
Of orators and sons of song,
The deathless few;
Fiction entices and deceives,
And, sprinkled o'er her fragrant leaves,
Lies poisonous dew.
To One alone my thoughts arise,
The Eternal Truth, the Good and Wise,
To Him I cry,
Who shared on earth our common lot,
But the world comprehended not
This world is but the rugged road
Which leads us to the bright abode
Of peace above;
So let us choose that narrow way,
Which leads no traveller's foot astray
From realms of love,
Our cradle is the starting-place,
Life is the running of the race,
We reach the goal
When, in the mansions of the blest,
Death leaves to its eternal rest
The weary soul.
Did we but use it as we ought,
This world would school each wandering thought
To its high state.
Faith wings the soul beyond the sky,
Up to that better world on high,
For which we wait.
Yes, the glad messenger of love,
To guide us to our home above,
The Saviour came;
Born amid mortal cares and fears.
He suffered in this vale of tears
A death of shame.
Behold of what delusive worth
The bubbles we pursue on earth,
The shapes we chase,
Amid a world of treachery!
They vanish ere death shuts the eye,
And leave no trace.
Time steals them from us, chances strange,
Disastrous accident, and change,
That come to all;
Even in the most exalted state,
Relentless sweeps the stroke of fate;
The strongest fall.
Tell me, the charms that lovers seek
In the clear eye and blushing cheek,
The hues that play
O'er rosy lip and brow of snow,
When hoary age approaches slow,
Ah; where are they?
The cunning skill, the curious arts,
The glorious strength that youth imparts
In life's first stage;
These shall become a heavy weight,
When Time swings wide his outward gate
To weary age.
The noble blood of Gothic name,
Heroes emblazoned high to fame,
In long array;
How, in the onward course of time,
The landmarks of that race sublime
Were swept away!
Some, the degraded slaves of lust,
Prostrate and trampled in the dust,
Shall rise no more;
Others, by guilt and crime, maintain
The scutcheon, that without a stain,
Their fathers bore.
Wealth and the high estate of pride,
With what untimely speed they glide,
How soon depart!
Bid not the shadowy phantoms stay,
The vassals of a mistress they,
Of fickle heart.
These gifts in Fortune's hands are found;
Her swift revolving wheel turns round,
And they are gone!
No rest the inconstant goddess knows,
But changing, and without repose,
Still hurries on.
Even could the hand of avarice save
Its gilded baubles till the grave
Reclaimed its prey,
Let none on such poor hopes rely;
Life, like an empty dream, flits by,
And where are they?
Earthly desires and sensual lust
Are passions springing from the dust,
They fade and die;
But in the life beyond the tomb,
They seal the immortal spirits doom
The pleasures and delights, which mask
In treacherous smiles life's serious task,
What are they, all,
But the fleet coursers of the chase,
And death an ambush in the race,
Wherein we fall?
No foe, no dangerous pass, we heed,
Brook no delay, but onward speed
With loosened rein;
And, when the fatal snare is near,
We strive to check our mad career,
But strive in vain.
Could we new charms to age impart,
And fashion with a cunning art
The human face,
As we can clothe the soul with light,
And make the glorious spirit bright
With heavenly grace,
How busily each passing hour
Should we exert that magic power,
What ardor show,
To deck the sensual slave of sin,
Yet leave the freeborn soul within,
In weeds of woe!
Monarchs, the powerful and the strong,
Famous in history and in song
Of olden time,
Saw, by the stern decrees of fate,
Their kingdoms lost, and desolate
Their race sublime.
Who is the champion? who the strong?
Pontiff and priest, and sceptred throng?
On these shall fall
As heavily the hand of Death,
As when it stays the shepherd's breath
Beside his stall.
I speak not of the Trojan name,
Neither its glory nor its shame
Has met our eyes;
Nor of Rome's great and glorious dead,
Though we have heard so oft, and read,
Little avails it now to know
Of ages passed so long ago,
Nor how they rolled;
Our theme shall be of yesterday,
Which to oblivion sweeps away,
Like day's of old.
Where is the King, Don Juan? Where
Each royal prince and noble heir
Of Aragon ?
Where are the courtly gallantries?
The deeds of love and high emprise,
In battle done?
Tourney and joust, that charmed the eye,
And scarf, and gorgeous panoply,
And nodding plume,
What were they but a pageant scene?
What but the garlands, gay and green,
That deck the tomb?
Where are the high-born dames, and where
Their gay attire, and jewelled hair,
And odors sweet?
Where are the gentle knights, that came
To kneel, and breathe love's ardent flame,
Low at their feet?
Where is the song of Troubadour?
Where are the lute and gay tambour
They loved of yore?
Where is the mazy dance of old,
The flowing robes, inwrought with gold,
The dancers wore?
And he who next the sceptre swayed,
Henry, whose royal court displayed
Such power and pride;
O, in what winning smiles arrayed,
The world its various pleasures laid
His throne beside!
But O how false and full of guile
That world, which wore so soft a smile
But to betray!
She, that had been his friend before,
Now from the fated monarch tore
Her charms away.
The countless gifts, the stately walls,
The loyal palaces, and halls
All filled with gold;
Plate with armorial bearings wrought,
Chambers with ample treasures fraught
Of wealth untold;
The noble steeds, and harness bright,
And gallant lord, and stalwart knight,
In rich array,
Where shall we seek them now? Alas!
Like the bright dewdrops on the grass,
They passed away.
His brother, too, whose factious zeal
Usurped the sceptre of Castile,
Unskilled to reign;
What a gay, brilliant court had he,
When all the flower of chivalry
Was in his train!
But he was mortal; and the breath,
That flamed from the hot forge of Death,
Blasted his years;
Judgment of God! that flame by thee,
When raging fierce and fearfully,
Was quenched in tears!
Spain's haughty Constable, the true
And gallant Master, whom we knew
Most loved of all;
Breathe not a whisper of his pride,
He on the gloomy scaffold died,
The countless treasures of his care,
His villages and villas fair,
His mighty power,
What were they all but grief and shame,
Tears and a broken heart, when came
The parting hour?
His other brothers, proud and high,
Masters, who, in prosperity,
Might rival kings;
Who made the bravest and the best
The bondsmen of their high behest,
What was their prosperous estate,
When high exalted and elate
With power and pride?
What, but a transient gleam of light,
A flame, which, glaring at its height,
Grew dim and died?
So many a duke of royal name,
Marquis and count of spotless fame,
And baron brave,
That might the sword of empire wield,
All these, O Death, hast thou concealed
In the dark grave!
Their deeds of mercy and of arms,
In peaceful days, or war's alarms,
When thou dost show.
O Death, thy stern and angry face,
One stroke of thy all-powerful mace
Unnumbered hosts, that threaten nigh,
Pennon and standard flaunting high,
And flag displayed;
High battlements intrenched around,
Bastion, and moated wall, and mound,
And covered trench, secure and deep,
All these cannot one victim keep,
O Death, from thee,
When thou dost battle in thy wrath,
And thy strong shafts pursue their path
O World! so few the years we live,
Would that the life which thou dost give
Were life indeed!
Alas! thy sorrows fall so fast,
Our happiest hour is when at last
The soul is freed.
Our days are covered o'er with grief,
And sorrows neither few nor brief
Veil all in gloom;
Left desolate of real good,
Within this cheerless solitude
No pleasures bloom.
Thy pilgrimage begins in tears,
And ends in bitter doubts and fears,
Or dark despair;
Midway so many toils appear,
That he who lingers longest here
Knows most of care.
Thy goods are bought with many a groan,
By the hot sweat of toil alone,
And weary hearts;
Fleet-footed is the approach of woe,
But with a lingering step and slow
Its form departs.
And he, the good man's shield and shade,
To whom all hearts their homage paid,
As Virtue's son,
Roderic Manrique, he whose name
Is written on the scroll of Fame,
His signal deeds and prowess high
Demand no pompous eulogy.
Ye saw his deeds!
Why should their praise in verse be sung?
The name, that dwells on every tongue,
No minstrel needs.
To friends a friend; how kind to all
The vassals of this ancient hall
And feudal fief!
To foes how stern a foe was he!
And to the valiant and the free
How brave a chief!
What prudence with the old and wise:
What grace in youthful gayeties;
In all how sage!
Benignant to the serf and slave,
He showed the base and falsely brave
A lion's rage.
His was Octavian's prosperous star,
The rush of Caesar's conquering car
At battle's call;
His, Scipio's virtue; his, the skill
And the indomitable will
His was a Trajan's goodness, his
A Titus' noble charities
And righteous laws;
The arm of Hector, and the might
Of Tully, to maintain the right
In truth's just cause;
The clemency of Antonine,
Aurelius' countenance divine,
Firm, gentle, still;
The eloquence of Adrian,
And Theodosius' love to man,
And generous will;
In tented field and bloody fray,
An Alexander's vigorous sway
And stern command;
The faith of Constantine; ay, more,
The fervent love Camillus bore
His native land.
He left no well-filled treasury,
He heaped no pile of riches high,
Nor massive plate;
He fought the Moors, and, in their fall,
City and tower and castled wall
Were his estate.
Upon the hard-fought battle-ground,
Brave steeds and gallant riders found
A common grave;
And there the warrior's hand did gain
The rents, and the long vassal train,
That conquest gave.
And if, of old, his halls displayed
The honored and exalted grade
His worth had gained,
So, in the dark, disastrous hour,
Brothers and bondsmen of his power
His hand sustained.
After high deeds, not left untold,
In the stern warfare, which of old
'T was his to share,
Such noble leagues he made, that more
And fairer regions, than before,
His guerdon were.
These are the records, half effaced,
Which, with the hand of youth, he traced
On history's page;
But with fresh victories he drew
Each fading character anew
In his old age.
By his unrivalled skill, by great
And veteran service to the state,
By worth adored,
He stood, in his high dignity,
The proudest knight of chivalry,
Knight of the Sword.
He found his cities and domains
Beneath a tyrant's galling chains
And cruel power;
But by fierce battle and blockade,
Soon his own banner was displayed
From every tower.
By the tried valor of his hand,
His monarch and his native land
Were nobly served;
Let Portugal repeat the story,
And proud Castile, who shared the glory
His arms deserved.
And when so oft, for weal or woe,
His life upon the fatal throw
Had been cast down;
When he had served, with patriot zeal,
Beneath the banner of Castile,
His sovereign's crown;
And done such deeds of valor strong,
That neither history nor song
Can count them all;
Then, on Ocana's castled rock,
Death at his portal came to knock,
With sudden call,
Saying, 'Good Cavalier, prepare
To leave this world of toil and care
With joyful mien;
Let thy strong heart of steel this day
Put on its armor for the fray,
The closing scene.
'Since thou hast been, in battle-strife,
So prodigal of health and life,
For earthly fame,
Let virtue nerve thy heart again;
Loud on the last stern battle-plain
They call thy name.
'Think not the struggle that draws near
Too terrible for man, nor fear
To meet the foe;
Nor let thy noble spirit grieve,
Its life of glorious fame to leave
On earth below.
'A life of honor and of worth
Has no eternity on earth,
'T is but a name;
And yet its glory far exceeds
That base and sensual life, which leads
To want and shame.
'The eternal life, beyond the sky,
Wealth cannot purchase, nor the high
And proud estate;
The soul in dalliance laid, the spirit
Corrupt with sin, shall not inherit
A joy so great.
'But the good monk, in cloistered cell,
Shall gain it by his book and bell,
His prayers and tears;
And the brave knight, whose arm endures
Fierce battle, and against the Moors
His standard rears.
'And thou, brave knight, whose hand has poured
The life-blood of the Pagan horde
O'er all the land,
In heaven shalt thou receive, at length,
The guerdon of thine earthly strength
And dauntless hand.
'Cheered onward by this promise sure,
Strong in the faith entire and pure
Thou dost profess,
Depart, thy hope is certainty,
The third, the better life on high
Shalt thou possess.'
'O Death, no more, no more delay;
My spirit longs to flee away,
And be at rest;
The will of Heaven my will shall be,
I bow to the divine decree,
To God's behest.
'My soul is ready to depart,
No thought rebels, the obedient heart
Breathes forth no sigh;
The wish on earth to linger still
Were vain, when 't is God's sovereign will
That we shall die.
'O thou, that for our sins didst take
A human form, and humbly make
Thy home on earth;
Thou, that to thy divinity
A human nature didst ally
By mortal birth,
'And in that form didst suffer here
Torment, and agony, and fear,
By thy redeeming grace alone,
And not for merits of my own,
O, pardon me!'
As thus the dying warrior prayed,
Without one gathering mist or shade
Upon his mind;
Encircled by his family,
Watched by affection's gentle eye
So soft and kind;
His soul to Him, who gave it, rose;
God lead it to its long repose,
Its glorious rest!
And, though the warrior's sun has set,
Its light shall linger round us yet,
Bright, radiant, blest.
Hero And Leander. The Fourth Sestiad
Now from Leander's place she rose, and found
Her hair and rent robe scatter'd on the ground;
Which taking up, she every piece did lay
Upon an altar, where in youth of day
She us'd t' exhibit private sacrifice:
Those would she offer to the deities
Of her fair goddess and her powerful son,
As relics of her late-felt passion;
And in that holy sort she vow'd to end them,
In hope her violent fancies, that did rend them,
Would as quite fade in her love's holy fire,
As they should in the flames she meant t' inspire.
Then put she on all her religious weeds,
That decked her in her secret sacred deeds;
A crown of icicles, that sun nor fire
Could ever melt, and figur'd chaste desire;
A golden star shined in her naked breast,
In honour of the queen-light of the east.
In her right hand she held a silver wand,
On whose bright top Peristera did stand.
Who was a nymph, but now transformed a dove,
And in her life was dear in Venus' love;
And for her sake she ever since that time
Choosed doves to draw her coach through heaven's blue clime.
Her plenteous hair in curled billows swims
On her bright shoulder: her harmonious limbs
Sustained no more but a most subtile veil,
That hung on them, as it durst not assail
Their different concord; for the weakest air
Could raise it swelling from her beauties fair;
Nor did it cover, but adumbrate only
Her most heart-piercing parts, that a blest eye
Might see, as it did shadow, fearfully,
All that all-love-deserving paradise:
It was as blue as the most freezing skies;
Near the sea's hue, for thence her goddess came:
On it a scarf she wore of wondrous frame;
In midst whereof she wrought a virgin's face,
From whose each cheek a fiery blush did chase
Two crimson flames, that did two ways extend,
Spreading the ample scarf to either end;
Which figur'd the division of her mind,
Whiles yet she rested bashfully inclin'd,
And stood not resolute to wed Leander;
This serv'd her white neck for a purple sphere,
And cast itself at full breadth down her back:
There, since the first breath that begun the wrack
Of her free quiet from Leander's lips,
She wrought a sea, in one flame, full of ships;
But that one ship where all her wealth did pass,
Like simple merchants' goods, Leander was;
For in that sea she naked figured him;
Her diving needle taught him how to swim,
And to each thread did such resemblance give,
For joy to be so like him it did live:
Things senseless live by art, and rational die
By rude contempt of art and industry.
Scarce could she work, but, in her strength of thought,
She fear'd she prick'd Leander as she wrought,
And oft would shriek so, that her guardian, frighted,
Would startling haste, as with some mischief cited:
They double life that dead things' griefs sustain;
They kill that feel not their friends' living pain.
Sometimes she fear'd he sought her infamy;
And then, as she was working of his eye,
She thought to prick it out to quench her ill;
But, as she prick'd, it grew more perfect still:
Trifling attempts no serious acts advance;
The fire of love is blown by dalliance.
In working his fair neck she did so grace it,
She still was working her own arms t' embrace it:
That, and his shoulders, and his hands were seen
Above the stream; and with a pure sea-green
She did so quaintly shadow every limb,
All might be seen beneath the waves to swim.
In this conceited scarf she wrought beside
A moon in change, and shooting stars did glide
In number after her with bloody beams;
Which figur'd her affects in their extremes,
Pursuing nature in her Cynthian body,
And did her thoughts running on change imply;
For maids take more delight, when they prepare,
And think of wives' states, than when wives they are.
Beneath all these she wrought a fisherman,
Drawing his nets from forth the ocean;
Who drew so hard, ye might discover well
The toughen'd sinews in his neck did swell:
His inward strains drave out his blood-shot eyes,
And springs of sweat did in his forehead rise;
Yet was of naught but of a serpent sped,
That in his bosom flew and stung him dead:
And this by Fate into her mind was sent,
Not wrought by mere instinct of her intent.
At the scarf's other end her hand did frame,
Near the fork'd point of the divided flame,
A country virgin keeping of a vine,
Who did of hollow bulrushes combine
Snares for the stubble-loving grasshopper,
And by her lay her scrip that nourish'd her.
Within a myrtle shade she sate and sung;
And tufts of waving reeds above her sprung,
Where lurked two foxes, that, while she applied
Her trifling snares, their thieveries did divide,
One to the vine, another to her scrip,
That she did negligently overslip;
By which her fruitful vine and wholesome fare
She suffered spoiled to make a childish snare.
These ominous fancies did her soul express,
And every finger made a prophetess,
To show what death was hid in love's disguise,
And make her judgment conquer Destinies.
O, what sweet forms fair ladies' souls do shroud,
Were they made seen and forced through their blood;
If through their beauties, like rich work through lawn,
They would set forth their minds with virtues drawn,
In letting graces from their fingers fly,
To still their eyas thoughts with industry;
That their plied wits in numbered silks might sing
Passion's huge conquest, and their needles leading
Affection prisoner through their own-built cities,
Pinioned with stones and Arachnean ditties.
Proceed we now with Hero's sacrifice:
She odours burned, and from their smoke did rise
Unsavoury fumes, that air with plagues inspired;
And then the consecrated sticks she fired.
On whose pale flames an angry spirit flew,
And beat it down still as it upward grew;
The virgin tapers that on th' altar stood,
When she inflam'd them, burned as red as blood;
All sad ostents of that too near success,
That made such moving beauties motionless.
Then Hero wept; but her affrighted eyes
She quickly wrested from the sacrifice,
Shut them, and inwards for Leander looked,
Search'd her soft bosom, and from thence she plucked
His lovely picture; which when she had viewed,
Her beauties were with all love's joys renewed;
The odours sweeten'd, and the fires burned clear,
Leander's form left no ill object there:
Such was his beauty, that the force of light,
Whose knowledge teacheth wonders infinite,
The strength of number and proportion,
Nature had placed in it to make it known,
Art was her daughter, and what human wits
For study lost, entombed in drossy spirits.
After this accident (which for her glory
Hero could not but make a history),
Th' inhabitants of Sestos and Abydos
Did every year, with feasts propitious,
To fair Leander's picture sacrifice:
And they were persons of especial price
That were allowed it, as an ornament
T' enrich their houses, for the continent
Of the strange virtues all approved it held;
For even the very look of it repelled
All blastings, witchcrafts, and the strifes of nature
In those diseases that no herbs could cure;
The wolfy sting of avarice it would pull,
And make the rankest miser bountiful;
It kill'd the fear of thunder and of death;
The discords that conceit engendereth
'Twixt man and wife, it for the time would cease;
The flames of love it quench'd, and would increase;
Held in a prince's hand, it would put out
The dreadful'st comet; it would ease all doubt
Of threaten'd mischiefs; it would bring asleep
Such as were mad; it would enforce to weep
Most barbarous eyes; and many more effects
This picture wrought, and sprung Leandrian sects;
Of which was Hero first; for he whose form,
Held in her hand, clear'd such a fatal storm,
From hell she thought his person would defend her,
Which night and Hellespont would quickly send her.
With this confirm'd, she vow'd to banish quite
All thought of any check to her delight;
And, in contempt of silly bashfulness,
She would the faith of her desires profess,
Where her religion should be policy,
To follow love with zeal her piety;
Her chamber her cathedral-church should be,
And her Leander her chief deity;
For in her love these did the gods forego;
And though her knowledge did not teach her so,
Yet did it teach her this, that what her heart
Did greatest hold in her self-greatest part,
That she did make her god; and 'twas less naught
To leave gods in profession and in thought,
Than in her love and life; for therein lies
Most of her duties and their dignities;
And, rail the brain-bald world at what it will,
That's the grand atheism that reigns in it still.
Yet singularity she would use no more,
For she was singular too much before;
But she would please the world with fair pretext:
Love would not leave her conscience perplext:
Great men that will have less do for them, still
Must bear them out, though th' acts be ne'er so ill;
Meanness must pander be to Excellence;
Pleasure atones Falsehood and Conscience:
Dissembling was the worst, thought Hero then,
And that was best, now she must live with men.
O virtuous love, that taught her to do best
When she did worst, and when she thought it least!
Thus would she still proceed in works divine,
And in her sacred state of priesthood shine,
Handling the holy rites with hands as bold,
As if therein she did Jove's thunder hold,
And need not fear those menaces of error,
Which she at others threw with greatest terror.
O lovely Hero, nothing is thy sin,
Weigh'd with those foul faults other priests are in!
That having neither faiths, nor works, nor beauties,
T' engender any 'scuse for slubbered duties,
With as much countenance fill their holy chairs,
And sweat denouncements 'gainst profane affairs,
As if their lives were cut out by their places,
And they the only fathers of the graces.
Now, as with settled mind she did repair
Her thoughts to sacrifice her ravished hair
And her torn robe, which on the altar lay,
And only for religion's fire did stay,
She heard a thunder by the Cyclops beaten,
In such a volley as the world did threaten,
Given Venus as she parted th' airy sphere,
Descending now to chide with Hero here:
When suddenly the goddess' waggoners,
The swans and turtles that, in coupled pheres,
Through all worlds' bosoms draw her influence,
Lighted in Hero's window, and from thence
To her fair shoulders flew the gentle doves,--
Graceful _AEdone_ that sweet pleasure loves,
And ruff-foot Chreste with the tufted crown;
Both which did kiss her, though their goddess frown.
The swans did in the solid flood, her glass,
Proin their fair plumes; of which the fairest was
Jove-lov'd Leucote, that pure brightness is;
The other bounty-loving Dapsilis.
All were in heaven, now they with Hero were:
But Venus' looks brought wrath, and urged fear.
Her robe was scarlet; black her head's attire:
And through her naked breast shin'd streams of fire,
As when the rarified air is driven
In flashing streams, and opes the darken'd heaven.
In her white hand a wreath of yew she bore;
And, breaking th' icy wreath sweet Hero wore,
She forc'd about her brows her wreath of yew,
And said, 'Now, minion, to thy fate be true,
Though not to me; endure what this portends:
Begin where lightness will, in shame it ends.
Love makes thee cunning; thou art current now,
By being counterfeit: thy broken vow
Deceit with her pied garters must rejoin,
And with her stamp thou countenances must coin;
Coyness, and pure deceits, for purities,
And still a maid wilt seem in cozen'd eyes,
And have an antic face to laugh within,
While thy smooth looks make men digest thy sin.
But since thy lips (least thought forsworn) forswore,
Be never virgin's vow worth trusting more!'
When Beauty's dearest did her goddess hear
Breathe such rebukes 'gainst that she could not clear,
Dumb sorrow spake aloud in tears and blood,
That from her grief-burst veins, in piteous flood,
From the sweet conduits of her favour fell.
The gentle turtles did with moans make swell
Their shining gorges; the while black-ey'd swans
Did sing as woful epicedians,
As they would straightways die: when Pity's queen,
The goddess Ecte, that had ever been
Hid in a watery cloud near Hero's cries,
Since the first instant of her broken eyes,
Gave bright Leucote voice, and made her speak,
To ease her anguish, whose swoln breast did break
With anger at her goddess, that did touch
Hero so near for that she us'd so much;
And, thrusting her white neck at Venus, said:
'Why may not amorous Hero seem a maid,
Though she be none, as well as you suppress
In modest cheeks your inward wantonness?
How often have we drawn you from above,
T' exchange with mortals rites for rites in love!
Why in your priest, then, call you that offence,
That shines in you, and is your influence?'
With this, the Furies stopp'd Leucote's lips,
Enjoin'd by Venus; who with rosy whips
Beat the kind bird. Fierce lightning from her eyes
Did set on fire fair Hero's sacrifice,
Which was her torn robe and enforced hair;
And the bright flame became a maid most fair
For her aspect: her tresses were of wire,
Knit like a net, where hearts set all on fire,
Struggled in pants, and could not get releast;
Her arms were all with golden pincers drest,
And twenty-fashioned knots, pulleys, and brakes,
And all her body girt with painted snakes;
Her down-parts in a scorpion's tail combined,
Freckled with twenty colours; pied wings shined
Out of her shoulders; cloth had never dye,
Nor sweeter colours never viewed eye,
In scorching Turkey, Cares, Tartary,
Than shined about this spirit notorious;
Nor was Arachne's web so glorious.
Of lightning and of shreds she was begot;
More hold in base dissemblers is there not.
Her name was Eronusis. Venus flew
From Hero's sight, and at her chariot drew
This wondrous creature to so steep a height,
That all the world she might command with sleight
Of her gay wings; and then she bade her haste,--
Since Hero had dissembled, and disgraced
Her rites so much,--and every breast infect
With her deceits: she made her architect
Of all dissimulation; and since then
Never was any trust in maids or men.
O, it spited
Fair Venus' heart to see her most delighted,
And one she choos'd, for temper of her mind
To be the only ruler of her kind,
So soon to let her virgin race be ended!
Not simply for the fault a whit offended,
But that in strife for chasteness with the Moon,
Spiteful Diana bade her show but one
That was her servant vow'd, and liv'd a maid;
And, now she thought to answer that upbraid,
Hero had lost her answer: who knows not
Venus would seem as far from any spot
Of light demeanour, as the very skin
'Twixt Cynthia's brows? sin is asham'd of sin.
Up Venus flew, and scarce durst up for fear
Of Phoebe's laughter, when she pass'd her sphere:
And so most ugly-clouded was the light,
That day was hid in day; night came ere night;
And Venus could not through the thick air pierce,
Till the day's king, god of undaunted verse,
Because she was so plentiful a theme
To such as wore his laurel anademe.
Like to a fiery bullet made descent,
And from her passage those fat vapours rent,
That being not throughly rarified to rain,
Melted like pitch, as blue as any vein;
And scalding tempests made the earth to shrink
Under their fervour, and the world did think
In every drop a torturing spirit flew,
It pierc'd so deeply, and it burn'd so blue.
Betwixt all this and Hero, Hero held
Leander's picture, as a Persian shield;
And she was free from fear of worst success:
The more ill threats us, we suspect the less:
As we grow hapless, violence subtle grows,
Dumb, deaf, and blind, and comes when no man knows.
Book Thirteenth [Imagination And Taste, How Impaired And Restored Concluded]
FROM Nature doth emotion come, and moods
Of calmness equally are Nature's gift:
This is her glory; these two attributes
Are sister horns that constitute her strength.
Hence Genius, born to thrive by interchange
Of peace and excitation, finds in her
His best and purest friend; from her receives
That energy by which he seeks the truth,
From her that happy stillness of the mind
Which fits him to receive it when unsought.
Such benefit the humblest intellects
Partake of, each in their degree; 'tis mine
To speak, what I myself have known and felt;
Smooth task! for words find easy way, inspired
By gratitude, and confidence in truth.
Long time in search of knowledge did I range
The field of human life, in heart and mind
Benighted; but, the dawn beginning now
To re-appear, 'twas proved that not in vain
I had been taught to reverence a Power
That is the visible quality and shape
And image of right reason; that matures
Her processes by steadfast laws; gives birth
To no impatient or fallacious hopes,
No heat of passion or excessive zeal,
No vain conceits; provokes to no quick turns
Of self-applauding intellect; but trains
To meekness, and exalts by humble faith;
Holds up before the mind intoxicate
With present objects, and the busy dance
Of things that pass away, a temperate show
Of objects that endure; and by this course
Disposes her, when over-fondly set
On throwing off incumbrances, to seek
In man, and in the frame of social life,
Whate'er there is desirable and good
Of kindred permanence, unchanged in form
And function, or, through strict vicissitude
Of life and death, revolving. Above all
Were re-established now those watchful thoughts
Which, seeing little worthy or sublime
In what the Historian's pen so much delights
To blazon--power and energy detached
From moral purpose--early tutored me
To look with feelings of fraternal love
Upon the unassuming things that hold
A silent station in this beauteous world.
Thus moderated, thus composed, I found
Once more in Man an object of delight,
Of pure imagination, and of love;
And, as the horizon of my mind enlarged,
Again I took the intellectual eye
For my instructor, studious more to see
Great truths, than touch and handle little ones.
Knowledge was given accordingly; my trust
Became more firm in feelings that had stood
The test of such a trial; clearer far
My sense of excellence--of right and wrong:
The promise of the present time retired
Into its true proportion; sanguine schemes,
Ambitious projects, pleased me less; I sought
For present good in life's familiar face,
And built thereon my hopes of good to come.
With settling judgments now of what would last
And what would disappear; prepared to find
Presumption, folly, madness, in the men
Who thrust themselves upon the passive world
As Rulers of the world; to see in these,
Even when the public welfare is their aim,
Plans without thought, or built on theories
Vague and unsound; and having brought the books
Of modern statists to their proper test,
Life, human life, with all its sacred claims
Of sex and age, and heaven-descended rights,
Mortal, or those beyond the reach of death;
And having thus discerned how dire a thing
Is worshipped in that idol proudly named
'The Wealth of Nations,' 'where' alone that wealth
Is lodged, and how increased; and having gained
A more judicious knowledge of the worth
And dignity of individual man,
No composition of the brain, but man
Of whom we read, the man whom we behold
With our own eyes--I could not but inquire--
Not with less interest than heretofore,
But greater, though in spirit more subdued--
Why is this glorious creature to be found
One only in ten thousand? What one is,
Why may not millions be? What bars are thrown
By Nature in the way of such a hope?
Our animal appetites and daily wants,
Are these obstructions insurmountable?
If not, then others vanish into air.
'Inspect the basis of the social pile:
Inquire,' said I, 'how much of mental power
And genuine virtue they possess who live
By bodily toil, labour exceeding far
Their due proportion, under all the weight
Of that injustice which upon ourselves
Ourselves entail.' Such estimate to frame
I chiefly looked (what need to look beyond?)
Among the natural abodes of men,
Fields with their rural works; recalled to mind
My earliest notices; with these compared
The observations made in later youth,
And to that day continued.--For, the time
Had never been when throes of mighty Nations
And the world's tumult unto me could yield,
How far soe'er transported and possessed,
Full measure of content; but still I craved
An intermingling of distinct regards
And truths of individual sympathy
Nearer ourselves. Such often might be gleaned
From the great City, else it must have proved
To me a heart-depressing wilderness;
But much was wanting: therefore did I turn
To you, ye pathways, and ye lonely roads;
Sought you enriched with everything I prized,
With human kindnesses and simple joys.
Oh! next to one dear state of bliss, vouchsafed,
Alas! to few in this untoward world,
The bliss of walking daily in life's prime
Through field or forest with the maid we love,
While yet our hearts are young, while yet we breathe
Nothing but happiness, in some lone nook,
Deep vale, or anywhere, the home of both,
From which it would be misery to stir:
Oh! next to such enjoyment of our youth,
In my esteem, next to such dear delight,
Was that of wandering on from day to day
Where I could meditate in peace, and cull
Knowledge that step by step might lead me on
To wisdom; or, as lightsome as a bird
Wafted upon the wind from distant lands,
Sing notes of greeting to strange fields or groves,
Which lacked not voice to welcome me in turn:
And, when that pleasant toil had ceased to please,
Converse with men, where if we meet a face
We almost meet a friend, on naked heaths
With long long ways before, by cottage bench,
Or well-spring where the weary traveller rests.
Who doth not love to follow with his eye
The windings of a public way? the sight,
Familiar object as it is, hath wrought
On my imagination since the morn
Of childhood, when a disappearing line,
One daily present to my eyes, that crossed
The naked summit of a far-off hill
Beyond the limits that my feet had trod,
Was like an invitation into space
Boundless, or guide into eternity.
Yes, something of the grandeur which invests
The mariner, who sails the roaring sea
Through storm and darkness, early in my mind
Surrounded, too, the wanderers of the earth;
Grandeur as much, and loveliness far more.
Awed have I been by strolling Bedlamites;
From many other uncouth vagrants (passed
In fear) have walked with quicker step; but why
Take note of this? When I began to enquire,
To watch and question those I met, and speak
Without reserve to them, the lonely roads
Were open schools in which I daily read
With most delight the passions of mankind,
Whether by words, looks, sighs, or tears, revealed;
There saw into the depth of human souls,
Souls that appear to have no depth at all
To careless eyes. And--now convinced at heart
How little those formalities, to which
With overweening trust alone we give
The name of Education, have to do
With real feeling and just sense; how vain
A correspondence with the talking world
Proves to the most; and called to make good search
If man's estate, by doom of Nature yoked
With toil, be therefore yoked with ignorance;
If virtue be indeed so hard to rear,
And intellectual strength so rare a boon--
I prized such walks still more, for there I found
Hope to my hope, and to my pleasure peace
And steadiness, and healing and repose
To every angry passion. There I heard,
From mouths of men obscure and lowly, truths
Replete with honour; sounds in unison
With loftiest promises of good and fair.
There are who think that strong affection, love
Known by whatever name, is falsely deemed
A gift, to use a term which they would use,
Of vulgar nature; that its growth requires
Retirement, leisure, language purified
By manners studied and elaborate;
That whoso feels such passion in its strength
Must live within the very light and air
Of courteous usages refined by art.
True is it, where oppression worse than death
Salutes the being at his birth, where grace
Of culture hath been utterly unknown,
And poverty and labour in excess
From day to day pre-occupy the ground
Of the affections, and to Nature's self
Oppose a deeper nature; there, indeed,
Love cannot be; nor does it thrive with ease
Among the close and overcrowded haunts
Of cities, where the human heart is sick,
And the eye feeds it not, and cannot feed.
--Yes, in those wanderings deeply did I feel
How we mislead each other; above all,
How books mislead us, seeking their reward
From judgments of the wealthy Few, who see
By artificial lights; how they debase
The Many for the pleasure of those Few;
Effeminately level down the truth
To certain general notions, for the sake
Of being understood at once, or else
Through want of better knowledge in the heads
That framed them; flattering self-conceit with words,
That, while they most ambitiously set forth
Extrinsic differences, the outward marks
Whereby society has parted man
From man, neglect the universal heart.
Here, calling up to mind what then I saw,
A youthful traveller, and see daily now
In the familiar circuit of my home,
Here might I pause, and bend in reverence
To Nature, and the power of human minds,
To men as they are men within themselves.
How oft high service is performed within,
When all the external man is rude in show,--
Not like a temple rich with pomp and gold,
But a mere mountain chapel, that protects
Its simple worshippers from sun and shower.
Of these, said I, shall be my song; of these,
If future years mature me for the task,
Will I record the praises, making verse
Deal boldly with substantial things; in truth
And sanctity of passion, speak of these,
That justice may be done, obeisance paid
Where it is due: thus haply shall I teach,
Inspire; through unadulterated ears
Pour rapture, tenderness, and hope,--my theme
No other than the very heart of man,
As found among the best of those who live--
Not unexalted by religious faith,
Nor uninformed by books, good books, though few--
In Nature's presence: thence may I select
Sorrow, that is not sorrow, but delight;
And miserable love, that is not pain
To hear of, for the glory that redounds
Therefrom to human kind, and what we are.
Be mine to follow with no timid step
Where knowledge leads me: it shall be my pride
That I have dared to tread this holy ground,
Speaking no dream, but things oracular;
Matter not lightly to be heard by those
Who to the letter of the outward promise
Do read the invisible soul; by men adroit
In speech, and for communion with the world
Accomplished; minds whose faculties are then
Most active when they are most eloquent,
And elevated most when most admired.
Men may be found of other mould than these,
Who are their own upholders, to themselves
Encouragement, and energy, and will,
Expressing liveliest thoughts in lively words
As native passion dictates. Others, too,
There are among the walks of homely life
Still higher, men for contemplation framed,
Shy, and unpractised in the strife of phrase;
Meek men, whose very souls perhaps would sink
Beneath them, summoned to such intercourse:
Theirs is the language of the heavens, the power,
The thought, the image, and the silent joy:
Words are but under-agents in their souls;
When they are grasping with their greatest strength,
They do not breathe among them: this I speak
In gratitude to God, Who feeds our hearts
For His own service; knoweth, loveth us,
When we are unregarded by the world.
Also, about this time did I receive
Convictions still more strong than heretofore,
Not only that the inner frame is good,
And graciously composed, but that, no less,
Nature for all conditions wants not power
To consecrate, if we have eyes to see,
The outside of her creatures, and to breathe
Grandeur upon the very humblest face
Of human life. I felt that the array
Of act and circumstance, and visible form,
Is mainly to the pleasure of the mind
What passion makes them; that meanwhile the forms
Of Nature have a passion in themselves,
That intermingles with those works of man
To which she summons him; although the works
Be mean, have nothing lofty of their own;
And that the Genius of the Poet hence
May boldly take his way among mankind
Wherever Nature leads; that he hath stood
By Nature's side among the men of old,
And so shall stand for ever. Dearest Friend!
If thou partake the animating faith
That Poets, even as Prophets, each with each
Connected in a mighty scheme of truth,
Have each his own peculiar faculty,
Heaven's gift, a sense that fits him to perceive
Objects unseen before, thou wilt not blame
The humblest of this band who dares to hope
That unto him hath also been vouchsafed
An insight that in some sort he possesses,
A privilege whereby a work of his,
Proceeding from a source of untaught things,
Creative and enduring, may become
A power like one of Nature's. To a hope
Not less ambitious once among the wilds
Of Sarum's Plain, my youthful spirit was raised;
There, as I ranged at will the pastoral downs
Trackless and smooth, or paced the bare white roads
Lengthening in solitude their dreary line,
Time with his retinue of ages fled
Backwards, nor checked his flight until I saw
Our dim ancestral Past in vision clear;
Saw multitudes of men, and, here and there,
A single Briton clothed in wolf-skin vest,
With shield and stone-axe, stride across the wold;
The voice of spears was heard, the rattling spear
Shaken by arms of mighty bone, in strength,
Long mouldered, of barbaric majesty.
I called on Darkness--but before the word
Was uttered, midnight darkness seemed to take
All objects from my sight; and lo! again
The Desert visible by dismal flames;
It is the sacrificial altar, fed
With living men--how deep the groans! the voice
Of those that crowd the giant wicker thrills
The monumental hillocks, and the pomp
Is for both worlds, the living and the dead.
At other moments--(for through that wide waste
Three summer days I roamed) where'er the Plain
Was figured o'er with circles, lines, or mounds,
That yet survive, a work, as some divine,
Shaped by the Druids, so to represent
Their knowledge of the heavens, and image forth
The constellations--gently was I charmed
Into a waking dream, a reverie
That, with believing eyes, where'er I turned,
Beheld long-bearded teachers, with white wands
Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky,
Alternately, and plain below, while breath
Of music swayed their motions, and the waste
Rejoiced with them and me in those sweet sounds.
This for the past, and things that may be viewed
Or fancied in the obscurity of years
From monumental hints: and thou, O Friend!
Pleased with some unpremeditated strains
That served those wanderings to beguile, hast said
That then and there my mind had exercised
Upon the vulgar forms of present things,
The actual world of our familiar days,
Yet higher power; had caught from them a tone,
An image, and a character, by books
Not hitherto reflected. Call we this
A partial judgment--and yet why? for 'then'
We were as strangers; and I may not speak
Thus wrongfully of verse, however rude,
Which on thy young imagination, trained
In the great City, broke like light from far.
Moreover, each man's Mind is to herself
Witness and judge; and I remember well
That in life's every-day appearances
I seemed about this time to gain clear sight
Of a new world--a world, too, that was fit
To be transmitted, and to other eyes
Made visible; as ruled by those fixed laws
Whence spiritual dignity originates,
Which do both give it being and maintain
A balance, an ennobling interchange
Of action from without and from within;
The excellence, pure function, and best power
Both of the objects seen, and eye that sees.
The Sage Enamoured And The Honest Lady
One fairest of the ripe unwedded left
Her shadow on the Sage's path; he found,
By common signs, that she had done a theft.
He could have made the sovereign heights resound
With questions of the wherefore of her state:
He on far other but an hour before
Intent. And was it man, or was it mate,
That she disdained? or was there haply more?
About her mouth a placid humour slipped
The dimple, as you see smooth lakes at eve
Spread melting rings where late a swallow dipped.
The surface was attentive to receive,
The secret underneath enfolded fast.
She had the step of the unconquered, brave,
Not arrogant; and if the vessel's mast
Waved liberty, no challenge did it wave.
Her eyes were the sweet world desired of souls,
With something of a wavering line unspelt.
They hold the look whose tenderness condoles
For what the sister in the look has dealt
Of fatal beyond healing; and her tones
A woman's honeyed amorous outvied,
As when in a dropped viol the wood-throb moans
Among the sobbing strings, that plain and chide
Like infants for themselves, less deep to thrill
Than those rich mother-notes for them breathed round.
Those voices are not magic of the will
To strike love's wound, but of love's wound give sound,
Conveying it; the yearnings, pains and dreams.
They waft to the moist tropics after storm,
When out of passion spent thick incense steams,
And jewel-belted clouds the wreck transform.
Was never hand on brush or lyre to paint
Her gracious manners, where the nuptial ring
Of melody clasped motion in restraint:
The reed-blade with the breeze thereof may sing.
With such endowments armed was she and decked
To make her spoken thoughts eclipse her kind;
Surpassing many a giant intellect,
The marvel of that cradled infant mind.
It clenched the tiny fist, it curled the toe;
Cherubic laughed, enticed, dispensed, absorbed;
And promised in fair feminine to grow
A Sage's match and mate, more heavenly orbed.
Across his path the spouseless Lady cast
Her shadow, and the man that thing became.
His youth uprising called his age the Past.
This was the strong grey head of laurelled name,
And in his bosom an inverted Sage
Mistook for light of morn the light which sank.
But who while veins run blood shall know the page
Succeeding ere we turn upon our blank?
Comes Beauty with her tale of moon and cloud,
Her silvered rims of mystery pointing in
To hollows of the half-veiled unavowed,
Where beats her secret life, grey heads will spin
Quick as the young, and spell those hieroglyphs
Of phosphorescent dusk, devoutly bent;
They drink a cup to whirl on dizzier cliffs
For their shamed fall, which asks, why was she sent!
Why, and of whom, and whence; and tell they truth,
The legends of her mission to beguile?
Hard likeness to the toilful apes of youth
He bore at times, and tempted the sly smile;
And not on her soft lips was it descried.
She stepped her way benevolently grave:
Nor sign that Beauty fed her worm of pride,
By tossing victim to the courtier knave,
Let peep, nor of the naughty pride gave sign.
Rather 'twas humbleness in being pursued,
As pilgrim to the temple of a shrine.
Had he not wits to pierce the mask he wooed?
All wisdom's armoury this man could wield;
And if the cynic in the Sage it pleased
Traverse her woman's curtain and poor shield,
For new example of a world diseased;
Showing her shrineless, not a temple, bare;
A curtain ripped to tatters by the blast;
Yet she most surely to this man stood fair:
He worshipped like the young enthusiast,
Named simpleton or poet. Did he read
Right through, and with the voice she held reserved
Amid her vacant ruins jointly plead?
Compassion for the man thus noble nerved
The pity for herself she felt in him,
To wreak a deed of sacrifice, and save;
At least, be worthy. That our soul may swim,
We sink our heart down bubbling under wave.
It bubbles till it drops among the wrecks.
But, ah! confession of a woman's breast:
She eminent, she honoured of her sex!
Truth speaks, and takes the spots of the confessed,
To veil them. None of women, save their vile,
Plays traitor to an army in the field.
The cries most vindicating most defile.
How shall a cause to Nature be appealed,
When, under pressure of their common foe,
Her sisters shun the Mother and disown,
On pain of his intolerable crow
Above the fiction, built for him, o'erthrown?
Irrational he is, irrational
Must they be, though not Reason's light shall wane
In them with ever Nature at close call,
Behind the fiction torturing to sustain;
Who hear her in the milk, and sometimes make
A tongueless answer, shivered on a sigh:
Whereat men dread their lofty structure's quake
Once more, and in their hosts for tocsin ply
The crazy roar of peril, leonine
For injured majesty. That sigh of dames
Is rare and soon suppressed. Not they combine
To shake the structure sheltering them, which tames
Their lustier if not wilder: fixed are they,
In elegancy scarce denoting ease;
And do they breathe, it is not to betray
The martyr in the caryatides.
Yet here and there along the graceful row
Is one who fetches breath from deeps, who deems,
Moved by a desperate craving, their old foe
May yield a trustier friend than woman seems,
And aid to bear the sculptured floral weight
Massed upon heads not utterly of stone:
May stamp endurance by expounding fate.
She turned to him, and, This you seek is gone;
Look in, she said, as pants the furnace, brief,
Frost-white. She gave his hearing sight to view
The silent chamber of a brown curled leaf:
Thing that had throbbed ere shot black lightning through.
No further sign of heart could he discern:
The picture of her speech was winter sky;
A headless figure folding a cleft urn,
Where tears once at the overflow were dry.
So spake she her first utterance on the rack.
It softened torment, in the funeral hues
Round wan Romance at ebb, but drove her back
To listen to herself, herself accuse
Harshly as Love's imperial cause allowed.
She meant to grovel, and her lover praised
So high o'er the condemnatory crowd,
That she perforce a fellow phoenix blazed.
The picture was of hand fast joined to hand,
Both pushed from angry skies, their grasp more pledged
Under the threatened flash of a bright brand
At arm's length up, for severing action edged.
Why, then Love's Court of Honour contemplate;
And two drowned shorecasts, who, for the life esteemed
Above their lost, invoke an advocate
In Passion's purity, thereby redeemed.
Redeemed, uplifted, glimmering on a throne,
The woman stricken by an arrow falls.
His advocate she can be, not her own,
If, Traitress to thy sex! one sister calls.
Have we such scenes of drapery's mournfulness
On Beauty's revelations, witched we plant,
Over the fair shape humbled to confess,
An angel's buckler, with loud choiric chant.
No knightly sword to serve, nor harp of bard,
The lady's hand in her physician's knew.
She had not hoped for them as her award,
When zig-zag on the tongue electric flew
Her charge of counter-motives, none impure:
But muteness whipped her skin. She could have said,
Her free confession was to work his cure,
Show proofs for why she could not love or wed.
Were they not shown? His muteness shook in thrall
Her body on the verge of that black pit
Sheer from the treacherous confessional,
Demanding further, while perusing it.
Slave is the open mouth beneath the closed.
She sank; she snatched at colours; they were peel
Of fruit past savour, in derision rosed.
For the dark downward then her soul did reel.
A press of hideous impulse urged to speak:
A novel dread of man enchained her dumb.
She felt the silence thicken, heard it shriek,
Heard Life subsiding on the eternal hum:
Welcome to women, when, between man's laws
And Nature's thirsts, they, soul from body torn,
Give suck at breast to a celestial cause,
Named by the mouth infernal, and forsworn.
Nathless her forehead twitched a sad content,
To think the cure so manifest, so frail
Her charm remaining. Was the curtain's rent
Too wide? he but a man of that herd male?
She saw him as that herd of the forked head
Butting the woman harrowed on her knees,
Clothed only in life's last devouring red.
Confession at her fearful instant sees
Judicial Silence write the devil fact
In letters of the skeleton: at once,
Swayed on the supplication of her act,
The rabble reading, roaring to denounce,
She joins. No longer colouring, with skips
At tangles, picture that for eyes in tears
Might swim the sequence, she addressed her lips
To do the scaffold's office at his ears.
Into the bitter judgement of that herd
On women, she, deeming it present, fell.
Her frenzy of abasement hugged the word
They stone with, and so pile their citadel
To launch at outcasts the foul levin bolt.
As had he flung it, in her breast it burned.
Face and reflect it did her hot revolt
From hardness, to the writhing rebel turned;
Because the golden buckler was withheld,
She to herself applies the powder-spark,
For joy of one wild demon burst ere quelled,
Perishing to astound the tyrant Dark.
She had the Scriptural word so scored on brain,
It rang through air to sky, and rocked a world
That danced down shades the scarlet dance profane;
Most women! see! by the man's view dustward hurled,
Impenitent, submissive, torn in two.
They sink upon their nature, the unnamed,
And sops of nourishment may get some few,
In place of understanding, scourged and shamed.
Barely have seasoned women understood
The great Irrational, who thunders power,
Drives Nature to her primitive wild wood,
And courts her in the covert's dewy hour;
Returning to his fortress nigh night's end,
With execration of her daughters' lures.
They help him the proud fortress to defend,
Nor see what front it wears, what life immures,
The murder it commits; nor that its base
Is shifty as a huckster's opening deal
For bargain under smoothest market face,
While Gentleness bids frigid Justice feel,
Justice protests that Reason is her seat;
Elect Convenience, as Reason masked,
Hears calmly cramped Humanity entreat;
Until a sentient world is overtasked,
And rouses Reason's fountain-self: she calls
On Nature; Nature answers: Share your guilt
In common when contention cracks the walls
Of the big house which not on me is built.
The Lady said as much as breath will bear;
To happier sisters inconceivable:
Contemptible to veterans of the fair,
Who show for a convolving pearly shell,
A treasure of the shore, their written book.
As much as woman's breath will bear and live
Shaped she to words beneath a knotted look,
That held as if for grain the summing sieve.
Her judge now brightened without pause, as wakes
Our homely daylight after dread of spells.
Lips sugared to let loose the little snakes
Of slimy lustres ringing elfin bells
About a story of the naked flesh,
Intending but to put some garment on,
Should learn, that in the subject they enmesh,
A traitor lurks and will be known anon.
Delusion heating pricks the torpid doubt,
Stationed for index down an ancient track:
And ware of it was he while she poured out
A broken moon on forest-waters black.
Though past the stage where midway men are skilled
To scan their senses wriggling under plough,
When yet to the charmed seed of speech distilled,
Their hearts are fallow, he, and witless how,
Loathing, had yielded, like bruised limb to leech,
Not handsomely; but now beholding bleed
Soul of the woman in her prostrate speech,
The valour of that rawness he could read.
Thence flashed it, as the crimson currents ran
From senses up to thoughts, how she had read
Maternally the warm remainder man
Beneath his crust, and Nature's pity shed,
In shedding dearer than heart's blood to light
His vision of the path mild Wisdom walks.
Therewith he could espy Confession's fright;
Her need of him: these flowers grow on stalks;
They suck from soil, and have their urgencies
Beside and with the lovely face mid leaves.
Veins of divergencies, convergencies,
Our botanist in womankind perceives;
And if he hugs no wound, the man can prize
That splendid consummation and sure proof
Of more than heart in her, who might despise,
Who drowns herself, for pity up aloof
To soar and be like Nature's pity: she
Instinctive of what virtue in young days
Had served him for his pilot-star on sea,
To trouble him in haven. Thus his gaze
Came out of rust, and more than the schooled tongue
Was gifted to encourage and assure.
He gave her of the deep well she had sprung;
And name it gratitude, the word is poor.
But name it gratitude, is aught as rare
From sex to sex? And let it have survived
Their conflict, comes the peace between the pair,
Unknown to thousands husbanded and wived:
Unknown to Passion, generous for prey:
Unknown to Love, too blissful in a truce.
Their tenderest of self did each one slay;
His cloak of dignity, her fleur de luce;
Her lily flower, and his abolla cloak,
Things living, slew they, and no artery bled.
A moment of some sacrificial smoke
They passed, and were the dearer for their dead.
He learnt how much we gain who make no claims.
A nightcap on his flicker of grey fire
Was thought of her sharp shudder in the flames,
Confessing; and its conjured image dire,
Of love, the torrent on the valley dashed;
The whirlwind swathing tremulous peaks; young force,
Visioned to hold corrected and abashed
Our senile emulous; which rolls its course
Proud to the shattering end; with these few last
Hot quintessential drops of bryony juice,
Squeezed out in anguish: all of that once vast!
And still, though having skin for man's abuse,
Though no more glorying in the beauteous wreath
Shot skyward from a blood at passionate jet,
Repenting but in words, that stand as teeth
Between the vivid lips; a vassal set;
And numb, of formal value. Are we true
In nature, never natural thing repents;
Albeit receiving punishment for due,
Among the group of this world's penitents;
Albeit remorsefully regretting, oft
Cravenly, while the scourge no shudder spares.
Our world believes it stabler if the soft
Are whipped to show the face repentance wears.
Then hear it, in a moan of atheist gloom,
Deplore the weedy growth of hypocrites;
Count Nature devilish, and accept for doom
The chasm between our passions and our wits!
Affecting lunar whiteness, patent snows,
It trembles at betrayal of a sore.
Hers is the glacier-conscience, to expose
Impurities for clearness at the core.
She to her hungered thundering in breast,
YE SHALL NOT STARVE, not feebly designates
The world repressing as a life repressed,
Judged by the wasted martyrs it creates.
How Sin, amid the shades Cimmerian,
Repents, she points for sight: and she avers,
The hoofed half-angel in the Puritan
Nigh reads her when no brutish wrath deters.
Sin against immaturity, the sin
Of ravenous excess, what deed divides
Man from vitality; these bleed within;
Bleed in the crippled relic that abides.
Perpetually they bleed; a limb is lost,
A piece of life, the very spirit maimed.
But culprit who the law of man has crossed
With Nature's dubiously within is blamed;
Despite our cry at cutting of the whip,
Our shiver in the night when numbers frown,
We but bewail a broken fellowship,
A sting, an isolation, a fall'n crown.
Abject of sinners is that sensitive,
The flesh, amenable to stripes, miscalled
Incorrigible: such title do we give
To the poor shrinking stuff wherewith we are walled;
And, taking it for Nature, place in ban
Our Mother, as a Power wanton-willed,
The shame and baffler of the soul of man,
The recreant, reptilious. Do thou build
Thy mind on her foundations in earth's bed;
Behold man's mind the child of her keen rod,
For teaching how the wits and passions wed
To rear that temple of the credible God;
Sacred the letters of her laws, and plain,
Will shine, to guide thy feet and hold thee firm:
Then, as a pathway through a field of grain,
Man's laws appear the blind progressive worm,
That moves by touch, and thrust of linking rings
The which to endow with vision, lift from mud
To level of their nature's aims and springs,
Must those, the twain beside our vital flood,
Now on opposing banks, the twain at strife
(Whom the so rosy ferryman invites
To junction, and mid-channel over Life,
Unmasked to the ghostly, much asunder smites)
Instruct in deeper than Convenience,
In higher than the harvest of a year.
Only the rooted knowledge to high sense
Of heavenly can mount, and feel the spur
For fruitfullest advancement, eye a mark
Beyond the path with grain on either hand,
Help to the steering of our social Ark
Over the barbarous waters unto land.
For us the double conscience and its war,
The serving of two masters, false to both,
Until those twain, who spring the root and are
The knowledge in division, plight a troth
Of equal hands: nor longer circulate
A pious token for their current coin,
To growl at the exchange; they, mate and mate,
Fair feminine and masculine shall join
Upon an upper plane, still common mould,
Where stamped religion and reflective pace
A statelier measure, and the hoop of gold
Rounds to horizon for their soul's embrace.
Then shall those noblest of the earth and sun
Inmix unlike to waves on savage sea.
But not till Nature's laws and man's are one,
Can marriage of the man and woman be.
He passed her through the sermon's dull defile.
Down under billowy vapour-gorges heaved
The city and the vale and mountain-pile.
She felt strange push of shuttle-threads that weaved.
A new land in an old beneath her lay;
And forth to meet it did her spirit rush,
As bride who without shame has come to say,
Husband, in his dear face that caused her blush.
A natural woman's heart, not more than clad
By station and bright raiment, gathers heat
From nakedness in trusted hands: she had
The joy of those who feel the world's heart beat,
After long doubt of it as fire or ice;
Because one man had helped her to breathe free;
Surprised to faith in something of a price
Past the old charity in chivalry:-
Our first wild step to right the loaded scales
Displaying women shamefully outweighed.
The wisdom of humaneness best avails
For serving justice till that fraud is brayed.
Her buried body fed the life she drank.
And not another stripping of her wound!
The startled thought on black delirium sank,
While with her gentle surgeon she communed,
And woman's prospect of the yoke repelled.
Her buried body gave her flowers and food;
The peace, the homely skies, the springs that welled;
Love, the large love that folds the multitude.
Soul's chastity in honesty, and this
With beauty, made the dower to men refused.
And little do they know the prize they miss;
Which is their happy fortune! Thus he mused
For him, the cynic in the Sage had play
A hazy moment, by a breath dispersed;
To think, of all alive most wedded they,
Whom time disjoined! He needed her quick thirst
For renovated earth: on earth she gazed,
With humble aim to foot beside the wise.
Lo, where the eyelashes of night are raised
Yet lowly over morning's pure grey eyes.
Hero and Leander: The First Sestiad
On Hellespont, guilty of true-love's blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoined by Neptune's might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offered as a dower his burning throne,
Where she should sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies.
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reached to the ground beneath.
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives.
Many would praise the sweet smell as she passed,
When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And, beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebblestone,
Which, lightened by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silvered used she,
And branched with blushing coral to the knee;
Where sparrows perched of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold.
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which, as she went, would chirrup through the bills.
Some say for her the fairest Cupid pined
And looking in her face was strooken blind.
But this is true: so like was one the other,
As he imagined Hero was his mother.
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And, with still panting rocked, there took his rest.
So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft.
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffered wrack,
Since Hero's time hath half the world been black.
Amorous Leander, beautiful and young,
(whose tragedy divine Musaeus sung,)
Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allured the vent'rous youth of Greece
To hazard more than for the golden fleece.
Fair Cynthia wished his arms might be her sphere;
Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.
His body was as straight as Circe's wand;
Jove might have sipped out nectar from his hand.
Even as delicious meat is to the taste,
So was his neck in touching, and surpassed
The white of Pelop's shoulder. I could tell ye
How smooth his breast was and how white his belly;
And whose immortal fingers did imprint
That heavenly path with many a curious dint
That runs along his back, but my rude pen
Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,
Much less of powerful gods. Let it suffice
That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes,
Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his
That leaped into the water for a kiss
Of his own shadow and, despising many,
Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.
Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen
Enamoured of his beauty had he been.
His presence made the rudest peasant melt
That in the vast uplandish country dwelt.
The barbarous Thracian soldier, moved with nought,
Was moved with him and for his favour sought.
Some swore he was a maid in man's attire,
For in his looks were all that men desire,
A pleasant smiling cheek, a speaking eye,
A brow for love to banquet royally;
And such as knew he was a man, would say,
'Leander, thou art made for amorous play.
Why art thou not in love, and loved of all?
Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall.'
The men of wealthy Sestos every year,
(For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheeked Adonis) kept a solemn feast.
Thither resorted many a wandering guest
To meet their loves.
Such as had none at all,
Came lovers home from this great festival.
For every street like to a firmament
Glistered with breathing stars who, where they went,
Frighted the melancholy earth which deemed
Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seemed,
As if another Phaeton had got
The guidance of the sun's rich chariot.
But far above the loveliest Hero shined
And stole away th' enchanted gazer's mind,
For like sea nymphs' enveigling Harmony,
So was her beauty to the standers by.
Nor that night-wandering, pale, and wat'ry star
(When yawning dragons draw her thirling car
From Latmus' mount up to the gloomy sky
Where, crowned with blazing light and majesty,
She proudly sits) more overrules the flood
Than she the hearts of those that near her stood.
Even as, when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,
Wretched Ixion's shaggy footed race,
Incensed with savage heat, gallop amain
From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain.
So ran the people forth to gaze upon her,
And all that viewed her were enamoured on her.
And as in fury of a dreadful fight,
Their fellows being slain or put to flight,
Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead strooken,
So at her presence all surprised and tooken,
Await the sentence of her scornful eyes.
He whom she favours lives, the other dies.
There might you see one sigh, another rage;
And some, (their violent passions to assuage)
Compile sharp satires, but alas too late,
For faithful love will never turn to hate.
And many seeing great princes were denied
Pin'd as they went, and thinking on her died.
On this feast day, O cursed day and hour,
Went Hero thorough Sestos from her tower
To Venus' temple, where unhappily
As after chanced, they did each other spy.
So fair a church as this had Venus none.
The walls were of discoloured jasper stone
Wherein was Proteus carved, and o'erhead
A lively vine of green sea agate spread,
Where by one hand lightheaded Bacchus hung,
And, with the other, wine from grapes out wrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was.
The town of Sestos called it Venus' glass.
There might you see the gods in sundry shapes
Committing heady riots, incest, rapes.
For know, that underneath this radiant floor
Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower,
Jove slyly stealing from his sister's bed,
To dally with Idalian Ganymede,
And for his love Europa bellowing loud,
And tumbling with the Rainbow in a cloud;
Blood quaffing Mars heaving the iron net
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set;
Love kindling fire to burn such towns as Troy;
Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy
That now is turned into a cypress tree,
Under whose shade the wood gods love to be.
And in the midst a silver altar stood.
There Hero, sacrificing turtle's blood,
Vailed to the ground, vailing her eyelids close,
And modestly they opened as she rose.
Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head,
And thus Leander was enamoured.
Stone still he stood, and evermore he gazed
Till with the fire that from his countenance blazed
Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook.
Such force and virtue hath an amorous look.
It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin
We wish that one should lose, the other win.
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots like in each respect.
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?
He kneeled, but unto her devoutly prayed.
Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said,
'Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him; '
And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him.
He started up, she blushed as one ashamed,
Wherewith Leander much more was inflamed.
He touched her hand; in touching it she trembled.
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled.
These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands;
True love is mute, and oft amazed stands.
Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled,
The air with sparks of living fire was spangled,
And night, deep drenched in misty Acheron,
Heaved up her head, and half the world upon
Breathed darkness forth (dark night is Cupid's day) .
And now begins Leander to display
Love's holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears,
Which like sweet music entered Hero's ears,
And yet at every word she turned aside,
And always cut him off as he replied.
At last, like to a bold sharp sophister,
With cheerful hope thus he accosted her.
'Fair creature, let me speak without offence.
I would my rude words had the influence
To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine,
Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine.
Be not unkind and fair; misshapen stuff
Are of behaviour boisterous and rough.
O shun me not, but hear me ere you go.
God knows I cannot force love as you do.
My words shall be as spotless as my youth,
Full of simplicity and naked truth.
This sacrifice, (whose sweet perfume descending
From Venus' altar, to your footsteps bending)
Doth testify that you exceed her far,
To whom you offer, and whose nun you are.
Why should you worship her? Her you surpass
As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass.
A diamond set in lead his worth retains;
A heavenly nymph, beloved of human swains,
Receives no blemish, but ofttimes more grace;
Which makes me hope, although I am but base:
Base in respect of thee, divine and pure,
Dutiful service may thy love procure.
And I in duty will excel all other,
As thou in beauty dost exceed Love's mother.
Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon,
As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one.
A stately builded ship, well rigged and tall,
The ocean maketh more majestical.
Why vowest thou then to live in Sestos here
Who on Love's seas more glorious wouldst appear?
Like untuned golden strings all women are,
Which long time lie untouched, will harshly jar.
Vessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine.
What difference betwixt the richest mine
And basest mould, but use? For both, not used,
Are of like worth. Then treasure is abused
When misers keep it; being put to loan,
In time it will return us two for one.
Rich robes themselves and others do adorn;
Neither themselves nor others, if not worn.
Who builds a palace and rams up the gate
Shall see it ruinous and desolate.
Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish.
Lone women like to empty houses perish.
Less sins the poor rich man that starves himself
In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,
Than such as you. His golden earth remains
Which, after his decease, some other gains.
But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,
When you fleet hence, can be bequeathed to none.
Or, if it could, down from th'enameled sky
All heaven would come to claim this legacy,
And with intestine broils the world destroy,
And quite confound nature's sweet harmony.
Well therefore by the gods decreed it is
We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.
One is no number; maids are nothing then
Without the sweet society of men.
Wilt thou live single still? One shalt thou be,
Though never singling Hymen couple thee.
Wild savages, that drink of running springs,
Think water far excels all earthly things,
But they that daily taste neat wine despise it.
Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,
Compared with marriage, had you tried them both,
Differs as much as wine and water doth.
Base bullion for the stamp's sake we allow;
Even so for men's impression do we you,
By which alone, our reverend fathers say,
Women receive perfection every way.
This idol which you term virginity
Is neither essence subject to the eye
No, nor to any one exterior sense,
Nor hath it any place of residence,
Nor is't of earth or mould celestial,
Or capable of any form at all.
Of that which hath no being do not boast;
Things that are not at all are never lost.
Men foolishly do call it virtuous;
What virtue is it that is born with us?
Much less can honour be ascribed thereto;
Honour is purchased by the deeds we do.
Believe me, Hero, honour is not won
Until some honourable deed be done.
Seek you for chastity, immortal fame,
And know that some have wronged Diana's name?
Whose name is it, if she be false or not
So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot?
But you are fair, (ay me) so wondrous fair,
So young, so gentle, and so debonair,
As Greece will think if thus you live alone
Some one or other keeps you as his own.
Then, Hero, hate me not nor from me fly
To follow swiftly blasting infamy.
Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath.
Tell me, to whom mad'st thou that heedless oath? '
'To Venus,' answered she and, as she spake,
Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brake
A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face
Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace
To Jove's high court.
He thus replied: 'The rites
In which love's beauteous empress most delights
Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel,
Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil.
Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn
For thou in vowing chastity hast sworn
To rob her name and honour, and thereby
Committ'st a sin far worse than perjury,
Even sacrilege against her deity,
Through regular and formal purity.
To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands.
Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.'
Thereat she smiled and did deny him so,
As put thereby, yet might he hope for moe.
Which makes him quickly re-enforce his speech,
And her in humble manner thus beseech.
'Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve,
Yet for her sake, whom you have vowed to serve,
Abandon fruitless cold virginity,
The gentle queen of love's sole enemy.
Then shall you most resemble Venus' nun,
When Venus' sweet rites are performed and done.
Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life,
But Pallas and your mistress are at strife.
Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous,
But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus,
Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice.
Fair fools delight to be accounted nice.
The richest corn dies, if it be not reaped;
Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept.'
These arguments he used, and many more,
Wherewith she yielded, that was won before.
Hero's looks yielded but her words made war.
Women are won when they begin to jar.
Thus, having swallowed Cupid's golden hook,
The more she strived, the deeper was she strook.
Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still
And would be thought to grant against her will.
So having paused a while at last she said,
'Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid?
Ay me, such words as these should I abhor
And yet I like them for the orator.'
With that Leander stooped to have embraced her
But from his spreading arms away she cast her,
And thus bespake him: 'Gentle youth, forbear
To touch the sacred garments which I wear.
Upon a rock and underneath a hill
Far from the town (where all is whist and still,
Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand,
Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land,
Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus
In silence of the night to visit us)
My turret stands and there, God knows, I play.
With Venus' swans and sparrows all the day.
A dwarfish beldam bears me company,
That hops about the chamber where I lie,
And spends the night (that might be better spent)
In vain discourse and apish merriment.
Come thither.' As she spake this, her tongue tripped,
For unawares 'come thither' from her slipped.
And suddenly her former colour changed,
And here and there her eyes through anger ranged.
And like a planet, moving several ways,
At one self instant she, poor soul, assays,
Loving, not to love at all, and every part
Strove to resist the motions of her heart.
And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such
As might have made heaven stoop to have a touch,
Did she uphold to Venus, and again
Vowed spotless chastity, but all in vain.
Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings,
Her vows above the empty air he flings,
All deep enraged, his sinewy bow he bent,
And shot a shaft that burning from him went,
Wherewith she strooken, looked so dolefully,
As made love sigh to see his tyranny.
And as she wept her tears to pearl he turned,
And wound them on his arm and for her mourned.
Then towards the palace of the destinies
Laden with languishment and grief he flies,
And to those stern nymphs humbly made request
Both might enjoy each other, and be blest.
But with a ghastly dreadful countenance,
Threatening a thousand deaths at every glance,
They answered Love, nor would vouchsafe so much
As one poor word, their hate to him was such.
Hearken a while and I will tell you why.
Heaven's winged herald, Jove-borne Mercury,
The selfsame day that he asleep had laid
Enchanted Argus, spied a country maid
Whose careless hair instead of pearl t'adorn it
Glistered with dew, as one that seemed to scorn it;
Her breath as fragrant as the morning rose,
Her mind pure, and her tongue untaught to gloze.
Yet proud she was (for lofty pride that dwells
In towered courts is oft in shepherds' cells.)
And too too well the fair vermilion knew,
And silver tincture of her cheeks, that drew
The love of every swain. On her this god
Enamoured was, and with his snaky rod
Did charm her nimble feet, and made her stay,
The while upon a hillock down he lay
And sweetly on his pipe began to play,
And with smooth speech her fancy to assay,
Till in his twining arms he locked her fast
And then he wooed with kisses; and at last,
As shepherds do, her on the ground he laid
And, tumbling in the grass, he often strayed
Beyond the bounds of shame, in being bold
To eye those parts which no eye should behold.
And, like an insolent commanding lover
Boasting his parentage, would needs discover
The way to new Elysium, but she,
Whose only dower was her chastity,
Having striv'n in vain was now about to cry
And crave the help of shepherds that were nigh.
Herewith he stayed his fury, and began
To give her leave to rise. Away she ran;
After went Mercury who used such cunning
As she, to hear his tale, left off her running.
Maids are not won by brutish force and might,
But speeches full of pleasure, and delight.
And, knowing Hermes courted her, was glad
That she such loveliness and beauty had
As could provoke his liking, yet was mute
And neither would deny nor grant his suit.
Still vowed he love. She, wanting no excuse
To feed him with delays, as women use,
Or thirsting after immortality, -
All women are ambitious naturally -
Imposed upon her lover such a task
As he ought not perform nor yet she ask.
A draught of flowing nectar she requested,
Wherewith the king of gods and men is feasted.
He, ready to accomplish what she willed,
Stole some from Hebe (Hebe Jove's cup filled)
And gave it to his simple rustic love.
Which being known (as what is hid from Jove?)
He inly stormed and waxed more furious
Than for the fire filched by Prometheus,
And thrusts him down from heaven. He, wandering here,
In mournful terms, with sad and heavy cheer,
Complained to Cupid. Cupid for his sake,
To be revenged on Jove did undertake.
And those on whom heaven, earth, and hell relies,
I mean the adamantine Destinies,
He wounds with love, and forced them equally
To dote upon deceitful Mercury.
They offered him the deadly fatal knife
That shears the slender threads of human life.
At his fair feathered feet the engines laid
Which th' earth from ugly Chaos' den upweighed.
These he regarded not but did entreat
That Jove, usurper of his father's seat,
Might presently be banished into hell,
And aged Saturn in Olympus dwell.
They granted what he craved, and once again
Saturn and Ops began their golden reign.
Murder, rape, war, lust, and treachery,
Were with Jove closed in Stygian empery.
But long this blessed time continued not.
As soon as he his wished purpose got
He reckless of his promise did despise
The love of th' everlasting Destinies.
They seeing it both love and him abhorred
And Jupiter unto his place restored.
And but that Learning in despite of Fate
Will mount aloft and enter heaven gate
And to the seat of Jove itself advance,
Hermes had slept in hell with Ignorance.
Yet as a punishment they added this,
That he and Poverty should always kiss.
And to this day is every scholar poor;
Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor.
Likewise the angry Sisters thus deluded,
To venge themselves on Hermes, have concluded
That Midas' brood shall sit in honour's chair,
To which the Muses' sons are only heir;
And fruitful wits, that in aspiring are,
Shall discontent run into regions far;
And few great lords in virtuous deeds shall joy
But be surprised with every garish toy,
And still enrich the lofty servile clown,
Who with encroaching guile keeps learning down.
Then Muse not Cupid's suit no better sped,
Seeing in their loves the Fates were injured.
Hero And Leander. The Fifth Sestiad
Now was bright Hero weary of the day,
Thought an Olympiad in Leander's stay.
Sol and the soft-foot Hours hung on his arms,
And would not let him swim, foreseeing his harms:
That day Aurora double grace obtain'd
Of her love Phoebus; she his horses reign'd,
Set on his golden knee, and, as she list,
She pull'd him back; and as she pull'd she kiss'd,
To have him turn to bed: he lov'd her more,
To see the love Leander Hero bore:
Examples profit much; ten times in one,
In persons full of note, good deeds are done.
Day was so long, men walking fell asleep;
The heavy humours that their eyes did steep
Made them fear mischiefs. The hard streets were beds
For covetous churls and for ambitious heads,
That, spite of Nature, would their business ply:
All thought they had the falling epilepsy,
Men grovell'd so upon the smother'd ground;
And pity did the heart of Heaven confound.
The Gods, the Graces, and the Muses came
Down to the Destinies, to stay the frame
Of the true lovers' deaths, and all world's tears:
But Death before had stopp'd their cruel ears.
All the celestials parted mourning then,
Pierc'd with our human miseries more than men:
Ah, nothing doth the world with mischief fill,
But want of feeling one another's ill!
With their descent the day grew something fair,
And cast a brighter robe upon the air.
Hero, to shorten time with merriment,
For young Alcmane and bright Mya sent,
Two lovers that had long crav'd marriage-dues
At Hero's hands: but she did still refuse;
For lovely Mya was her consort vow'd
In her maid state, and therefore not allow'd
To amorous nuptials: yet fair Hero now
Intended to dispense with her cold vow,
Since hers was broken, and to marry her:
The rites would pleasing matter minister
To her conceits, and shorten tedious day.
They came; sweet Music usher'd th' odorous way,
And wanton Air in twenty sweet forms danced
After her fingers; Beauty and Love advanced
Their ensigns in the downless rosy faces
Of youths and maids led after by the Graces.
For all these Hero made a friendly feast,
Welcom'd them kindly, did much love protest,
Winning their hearts with all the means she might.
That, when her fault should chance t' abide the light
Their loves might cover or extenuate it,
And high in her worst fate make pity sit.
She married them; and in the banquet came,
Borne by the virgins. Hero striv'd to frame
Her thoughts to mirth: ay me! but hard it is
To imitate a false and forced bliss;
Ill may a sad mind forge a merry face,
Nor hath constrained laughter any grace.
Then laid she wine on cares to make them sink:
Who fears the threats of Fortune, let him drink.
To these quick nuptials enter'd suddenly
Admired Teras with the ebon thigh;
A nymph that haunted the green Sestian groves,
And would consort soft virgins in their loves,
At gaysome triumphs and on solemn days,
Singing prophetic elegies and lays,
And fingering of a silver lute she tied
With black and purple scarfs by her left side.
Apollo gave it, and her skill withal,
And she was term'd his dwarf, she was so small:
Yet great in virtue, for his beams enclosed
His virtues in her; never was proposed
Riddle to her, or augury, strange or new,
But she resolv'd it; never slight tale flew
From her charm'd lips without important sense,
Shown in some grave succeeding consequence.
This little sylvan, with her songs and tales,
Gave such estate to feasts and nuptials,
That though ofttimes she forewent tragedies,
Yet for her strangeness still she pleas'd their eyes;
And for her smallness they admir'd her so,
They thought her perfect born, and could not grow.
All eyes were on her. Hero did command
An altar decked with sacred state should stand
At the feast's upper end, close by the bride,
On which the pretty nymph might sit espied.
Then all were silent; every one so hears,
As all their senses climb'd into their ears:
And first this amorous tale, that fitted well
Fair Hero and the nuptials, she did tell.
_The Tale of Teras._
Hymen, that now is god of nuptial rites,
And crowns with honour Love and his delights,
Of Athens was a youth, so sweet of face,
That many thought him of the female race;
Such quickening brightness did his clear eyes dart,
Warm went their beams to his beholder's heart,
In such pure leagues his beauties were combin'd,
That there your nuptial contracts first were signed;
For as proportion, white and crimson, meet
In beauty's mixture, all right clear and sweet,
The eye responsible, the golden hair,
And none is held, without the other, fair;
All spring together, all together fade;
Such intermix'd affections should invade
Two perfect lovers; which being yet unseen,
Their virtues and their comforts copied been
In beauty's concord, subject to the eye;
And that, in Hymen, pleased so matchlessly,
That lovers were esteemed in their full grace,
Like form and colour mixed in Hymen's face;
And such sweet concord was thought worthy then
Of torches, music, feasts, and greatest men:
So Hymen look'd that even the chastest mind
He mov'd to join in joys of sacred kind;
For only now his chin's first down consorted
His head's rich fleece in golden curls contorted;
And as he was so loved, he loved so too:
So should best beauties bound by nuptials, do.
Bright Eucharis, who was by all men said
The noblest, fairest, and the richest maid
Of all th' Athenian damsels, Hymen lov'd
With such transmission, that his heart remov'd
From his white breast to hers: but her estate,
In passing his, was so interminate
For wealth and honour, that his love durst feed
On naught but sight and hearing, nor could breed
Hope of requital, the grand prize of love;
Nor could he hear or see, but he must prove
How his rare beauty's music would agree
With maids in consort; therefore robbed he
His chin of those same few first fruits it bore,
And, clad in such attire as virgins wore,
He kept them company, and might right well,
For he did all but Eucharis excel
In all the fair of beauty! yet he wanted
Virtue to make his own desires implanted
In his dear Eucharis; for women never
Love beauty in their sex, but envy ever.
His judgment yet, that durst not suit address,
Nor, past due means, presume of due success,
Reason gat Fortune in the end to speed
To his best prayers: but strange it seemed, indeed,
That Fortune should a chaste affection bless:
Preferment seldom graceth bashfulness.
Nor grac'd it Hymen yet; but many a dart,
And many an amorous thought, enthralled his heart,
Ere he obtained her; and he sick became,
Forced to abstain her sight; and then the flame
Raged in his bosom. O, what grief did fill him!
Sight made him sick, and want of sight did kill him.
The virgins wonder'd where Diaetia stay'd,
For so did Hymen term himself, a maid.
At length with sickly looks he greeted them:
Tis strange to see 'gainst what an extreme stream
A lover strives; poor Hymen look'd so ill,
That as in merit he increased still
By suffering much, so he in grace decreas'd:
Women are most won, when men merit least:
If Merit look not well, Love bids stand by;
Love's special lesson is to please the eye.
And Hymen soon recovering all he lost,
Deceiving still these maids, but himself most,
His love and he with many virgin dames,
Noble by birth, noble by beauty's flames,
Leaving the town with songs and hallow'd lights
To do great Ceres Eleusina rites
Of zealous sacrifice, were made a prey
To barbarous rovers, that in ambush lay,
And with rude hands enforc'd their shining spoil,
Far from the darkened city, tired with toil:
And when the yellow issue of the sky
Came trooping forth, jealous of cruelty
To their bright fellows of this under-heaven,
Into a double night they saw them driven,--
A horrid cave, the thieves' black mansion;
Where, weary of the journey they had gone,
Their last night's watch, and drunk with their sweet gains,
Dull Morpheus enter'd, laden with silken chains,
Stronger than iron, and bound the swelling veins
And tired senses of these lawless swains.
But when the virgin lights thus dimly burn'd,
O, what a hell was heaven in! how they mourn'd
And wrung their hands, and wound their gentle forms
Into the shapes of sorrow! golden storms
Fell from their eyes; as when the sun appears,
And yet it rains, so show'd their eyes their tears:
And, as when funeral dames watch a dead corse,
Weeping about it, telling with remorse
What pains he felt, how long in pain he lay,
How little food he ate, what he would say;
And then mix mournful tales of other's deaths,
Smothering themselves in clouds of their own breaths;
At length, one cheering other, call for wine;
The golden bowl drinks tears out of their eyne,
As they drink wine from it; and round it goes,
Each helping other to relieve their woes;
So cast these virgins' beauties mutual rays,
One lights another, face the face displays;
Lips by reflection kissed, and hands hands shook,
Even by the whiteness each of other took.
But Hymen now used friendly Morpheus' aid,
Slew every thief, and rescued every maid:
And now did his enamour'd passion take
Heart from his hearty deed, whose worth did make
His hope of bounteous Eucharis more strong;
And now came Love with Proteus, who had long
Juggled the little god with prayers and gifts,
Ran through all shapes and varied all his shifts,
To win Love's stay with him, and make him love him.
And when he saw no strength of sleight could move him,
To make him love or stay, he nimbly turned
Into Love's self, he so extremely burned.
And thus came Love, with Proteus and his power,
T' encounter Eucharis: first, like the flower
That Juno's milk did spring, the silver lily,
He fell on Hymen's hand, who straight did spy
The bounteous godhead, and with wondrous joy
Offer'd it Eucharis. She, wonderous coy,
Drew back her hand: the subtle flower did woo it,
And, drawing it near, mixed so you could not know it:
As two clear tapers mix in one their light,
So did the lily and the hand their white.
She viewed it; and her view the form bestows
Amongst her spirits; for, as colour flows
From superficies of each thing we see,
Even so with colours forms emitted be;
And where Love's form is, Love is; Love is form:
He entered at the eye; his sacred storm
Rose from the hand, Love's sweetest instrument:
It stirred her blood's sea so, that high it went,
And beat in bashful waves 'gainst the white shore
Of her divided cheeks; it raged the more,
Because the tide went 'gainst the haughty wind
Of her estate and birth: and, as we find,
In fainting ebbs, the flowery Zephyr hurls
The green-haired Hellespont, broke in silver curls,
'Gainst Hero's tower; but in his blast's retreat,
The waves obeying him, they after beat,
Leaving the chalky shore a great way pale,
Then moist it freshly with another gale;
So ebbed and flowed the blood in Eucharis' face,
Coyness and Love strived which had greatest grace;
Virginity did fight on Coyness' side,
Fear of her parent's frowns and female pride
Loathing the lower place, more than it loves
The high contents desert and virtue moves.
With Love fought Hymen's beauty and his valure,
Which scarce could so much favour yet allure
To come to strike, but fameless idle stood:
Action is fiery valour's sovereign good.
But Love, once entered, wished no greater aid
Than he could find within; thought thought betray'd;
The bribed, but incorrupted, garrison
Sung 'Io Hymen;' there those songs begun,
And Love was grown so rich with such a gain,
And wanton with the ease of his free reign,
That he would turn into her roughest frowns
To turn them out; and thus he Hymen crowns
King of his thoughts, man's greatest empery:
This was his first brave step to deity.
Home to the mourning city they repair,
With news as wholesome as the morning air,
To the sad parents of each saved maid:
But Hymen and his Eucharis had laid
This plat to make the flame of their delight
Round as the moon at full, and full as bright.
Because the parents of chaste Eucharis
Exceeding Hymen's so, might cross their bliss;
And as the world rewards deserts, that law
Cannot assist with force; so when they saw
Their daughter safe, take vantage of their own,
Praise Hymen's valour much, nothing bestown;
Hymen must leave the virgins in a grove
Far off from Athens, and go first to prove,
If to restore them all with fame and life,
He should enjoy his dearest as his wife.
This told to all the maids, the most agree:
The riper sort, knowing what 'tis to be
The first mouth of a news so far derived,
And that to hear and bear news brave folks lived.
As being a carriage special hard to bear
Occurrents, these occurrents being so dear,
They did with grace protest, they were content
T' accost their friends with all their compliment,
For Hymen's good; but to incur their harm,
There he must pardon them. This wit went warm
To Adolesche's brain, a nymph born high,
Made all of voice and fire, that upwards fly:
Her heart and all her forces' nether train
Climb'd to her tongue, and thither fell her brain,
Since it could go no higher; and it must go;
All powers she had, even her tongue, did so:
In spirit and quickness she much joy did take,
And loved her tongue, only for quickness' sake;
And she would haste and tell. The rest all stay:
Hymen goes one, the nymph another way;
And what became of her I'll tell at last:
Yet take her visage now;--moist-lipped, long-faced,
Thin like an iron wedge, so sharp and tart,
As 'twere of purpose made to cleave Love's heart:
Well were this lovely beauty rid of her.
And Hymen did at Athens now prefer
His welcome suit, which he with joy aspired:
A hundred princely youths with him retired
To fetch the nymphs; chariots and music went;
And home they came: heaven with applauses rent.
The nuptials straight proceed, whiles all the town,
Fresh in their joys, might do them most renown.
First, gold-locked Hymen did to church repair,
Like a quick offering burned in flames of hair;
And after, with a virgin firmament
The godhead-proving bride attended went
Before them all: she looked in her command,
As if form-giving Cypria's silver hand
Gripped all their beauties, and crushed out one flame;
She blushed to see how beauty overcame
The thoughts of all men. Next, before her went
Five lovely children, decked with ornament
Of her sweet colours, bearing torches by;
For light was held a happy augury
Of generation, whose efficient right
Is nothing else but to produce to light.
The odd disparent number they did choose,
To show the union married loves should use,
Since in two equal parts it will not sever,
But the midst holds one to rejoin it ever,
As common to both parts: men therefore deem
That equal number gods do not esteem,
Being authors of sweet peace and unity,
But pleasing to th' infernal empery,
Under whose ensigns Wars and Discords fight,
Since an even number you may disunite
In two parts equal, naught in middle left
To reunite each part from other reft;
And five they hold in most especial prize,
Since 'tis the first odd number that doth rise
From the two foremost numbers' unity,
That odd and even are; which are two and three;
For one no number is; but thence doth flow
The powerful race of number. Next, did go
A noble matron, that did spinning bear
A huswife's rock and spindle, and did wear
A wether's skin, with all the snowy fleece,
To intimate that even the daintiest piece
And noblest-born dame should industrious be:
That which does good disgraceth no degree.
And now to Juno's temple they are come,
Where her grave priest stood in the marriage-room:
On his right arm did hang a scarlet veil,
And from his shoulders to the ground did trail,
On either side, ribands of white and blue:
With the red veil he hid the bashful hue
Of the chaste bride, to show the modest shame,
In coupling with a man, should grace a dame.
Then took he the disparent silks, and tied
The lovers by the waists, and side to side,
In token that thereafter they must bind
In one self-sacred knot each other's mind.
Before them on an altar he presented
Both fire and water, which was first invented,
Since to ingenerate every human creature
And every other birth produc'd by Nature,
Moisture and heat must mix; so man and wife
For human race must join in nuptial life.
Then one of Juno's birds, the painted jay,
He sacrific'd and took the gall away;
All which he did behind the altar throw,
In sign no bitterness of hate should grow,
'Twixt married loves, nor any least disdain.
Nothing they spake, for 'twas esteem'd too plain
For the most silken mildness of a maid,
To let a public audience hear it said,
She boldly took the man; and so respected
Was bashfulness in Athens, it erected
To chaste Agneia, which is Shamefacedness,
A sacred temple, holding her a goddess.
And now to feasts, masks, and triumphant shows,
The shining troops returned, even till earth-throes
Brought forth with joy the thickest part of night,
When the sweet nuptial song, that used to cite
All to their rest, was by Phemonoee sung,
First Delphian prophetess, whose graces sprung
Out of the Muses' well: she sung before
The bride into her chamber; at which door
A matron and a torch-bearer did stand:
A painted box of confits in her hand
The matron held, and so did other some
That compassed round the honour'd nuptial room.
The custom was, that every maid did wear,
During her maidenhead, a silken sphere
About her waist, above her inmost weed,
Knit with Minerva's knot, and that was freed
By the fair bridegroom on the marriage-night,
With many ceremonies of delight:
And yet eternized Hymen's tender bride,
To suffer it dissolved so, sweetly cried.
The maids that heard, so loved and did adore her,
They wished with all their hearts to suffer for her.
So had the matrons, that with confits stood
About the chamber, such affectionate blood,
And so true feeling of her harmless pains,
That every one a shower of confits rains;
For which the bride-youths scrambling on the ground,
In noise of that sweet hail her cries were drown'd.
And thus blest Hymen joyed his gracious bride,
And for his joy was after deified.
The saffron mirror by which Phoebus' love,
Green Tellus, decks her, now he held above
The cloudy mountains: and the noble maid,
Sharp-visaged Adolesche, that was stray'd
Out of her way, in hasting with her news,
Not till this hour th' Athenian turrets views;
And now brought home by guides, she heard by all,
That her long kept occurrents would be stale,
And how fair Hymen's honours did excel
For those rare news which she came short to tell.
To hear her dear tongue robbed of such a joy,
Made the well-spoken nymph take such a toy,
That down she sunk: when lightning from above
Shrunk her lean body, and, for mere free love,
Turn'd her into the pied-plum'd Psittacus,
That now the Parrot is surnam'd by us,
Who still with counterfeit confusion prates
Naught but news common to the common'st mates.--
This told, strange Teras touch'd her lute, and sung
This ditty, that the torchy evening sprung.
Come, come, dear Night! Love's mart of kisses,
Sweet close to his ambitious line,
The fruitful summer of his blisses!
Love's glory doth in darkness shine.
O come, soft rest of cares! come, Night!
Come, naked Virtue's only tire,
The reaped harvest of the light,
Bound up in sheaves of sacred fire!
Love calls to war;
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.
Come, Night, and lay thy velvet hand
On glorious Day's outfacing face;
And all thy crowned flames command,
For torches to our nuptial grace!
Love calls to war;
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.
No need have we of factious Day,
To cast, in envy of thy peace,
Her balls of discord in thy way:
Here Beauty's day doth never cease;
Day is abstracted here,
And varied in a triple sphere.
Hero, Alcmane, Mya, so outshine thee,
Ere thou come here, let Thetis thrice refine thee.
Love calls to war;
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.
The evening star I see:
Rise, youths! the evening star
Helps Love to summon war;
Both now embracing be.
Rise, youths! Love's rite claims more than banquets; rise!
Now the bright marigolds, that deck the skies,
Phoebus' celestial flowers, that, contrary
To his flowers here, ope when he shuts his eye,
And shuts when he doth open, crown your sports:
Now Love in Night, and Night in Love exhorts
Courtship and dances: all your parts employ,
And suit Night's rich expansure with your joy.
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes:
Rise, youths! Love's rite claims more than banquets; rise!
Rise, virgins! let fair nuptial loves enfold
Your fruitless breasts: the maidenheads ye hold
Are not your own alone, but parted are;
Part in disposing them your parents share,
And that a third part is; so must ye save
Your loves a third, and you your thirds must have.
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes:
Rise, youths! Love's rite claims more than banquets; rise!
Herewith the amorous spirit, that was so kind
To Teras' hair, and comb'd it down with wind,
Still as it, comet-like, brake from her brain,
Would needs have Teras gone, and did refrain
To blow it down: which, staring up, dismay'd
The timorous feast; and she no longer stay'd;
But, bowing to the bridegroom and the bride,
Did, like a shooting exhalation, glide
Out of their sights: the turning of her back
Made them all shriek, it look'd so ghastly black.
O hapless Hero! that most hapless cloud
Thy soon-succeeding tragedy foreshow'd.
Thus all the nuptial crew to joys depart;
But much-wronged Hero stood Hell's blackest dart:
Whose wound because I grieve so to display,
I use digressions thus t' increase the day.
The Watch At Midnight
Dead stars, beneath the midnight's granite cope
and round your dungeon-gulf that blindly grope
and fall not, since no lower than any place
needs when the wing is dash'd and foil'd the face:
is this your shadow on the watcher's thought
imposed, or rather hath his anguish taught
the dumb and suffering dark to send you out,
reptile, the doubles of his lurking doubt,
in coasts of night that well might be supposed
the exiled hall of chaos late-deposed,
to haunt across this hour's desuetude,
immense, that whelms in monumental mood
the broad waste of his spirit, stonily
strewn with the wreck of his eternity?
The plumes of night, unfurl'd
and eyed with fire, are whirl'd
slowly above this watch, funereal:
the vast is wide, and yet
no way lies open; set
no bar, but the flat deep rises, a placid wall.
Some throne thou think'st to win
or pride of thy far kin;
this incomplete and dusty hour to achieve:
know that the hour is one,
eternally deferr'd, thy grasp a Danaid sieve.
O weary realm, O height
the which exhausted flight
familiar finds, home of its prompting ill!
here, there, or there, or there,
even the same despair;
rest in thy place, O fool, the heart eludes thee still.
Rest — and a new abyss
suddenly yawns, of this
the moment sole, and yet the counterpart:
and thou must house it, thou,
within thy fleshy Now,
thyself the abyss that shrinks, the unbounded hermit-heart:
the mightier heart untold
whose paining depths enfold
all loneliness, all height, all vision'd shores;
and the abyss uncrown'd,
blank failure thro' each bound
from the consummate point thy broken hope implores.
The trees that thro' the tuneful morn had made
bride-dusk for beams that pierce the melting shade,
or thro' the opulent afternoon had stood
lordly, absorb'd in hieratic mood, —
now stricken with misgiving of the night
rise black and ominous, as who invite
some fearful coming whose foreblown wind shall bow,
convuls'd and shuddering, each dishevell'd brow:
the garden that had sparkled thro' its sheen
all day, a self-sufficing gem serene,
hiding in emerald depths the vision'd white
of limbs that follow their own clear delight,
exhales towards the inaccessible skies,
commencing, failing, broken, scents or sighs:
O mother, only,
where that thou hidest thee,
crown for the lonely brow,
bosom for the spent wanderer,
or balm for ache:
O heart too vast to find,
whelming our little desire:
we wander and fail —
But on the zenith, mass'd, a glittering throng,
the distant stars dropt a disdainful song:
They said, because their parcel-thought
might nor her shadowy vast embrace,
nor be refurl'd within that nought
which is the hid heart of all place,
they said: She is not anywhere!
have we not sought her and not seen?
nor is there found in earth or air
a sign to tell if she hath been!
— O fools and blind, not to have found!
is her desire not as your own?
stirs she not in the arms that round
a hopeless clasp, lone with the lone!
And the tense lips towards her bliss
in secret cells of anguish'd prayer
might know her in the broken kiss
she prompts nor, prompting, fails to share.
We drift from age to age nor waste
our strenuous song's exultant tone,
disdaining or to rest or haste:
because each place is still our throne.
The anguish'd doubt broods over Eden; night
hangs her rent banners thro' the viewless height;
trophies and glories whence a trouble streams
of lamentable valour in old dreams:
out of its blank the watcher's soul is stirr'd
to take unto itself some olden word:
O thou that achest, pulse o' the unwed vast,
now in the distant centre of my brain
dizzily narrow'd, now beyond the last
calm circle widening of the starry plain,
where, on the scatter'd edge of my surmise,
the twilit dreams fail off and rule is spent
vainly on vagrant bands the gulfs invite
to break away to the dark: they, backward sent,
tho' dumb, with dire infection in their eyes,
startle the central seat: — O pulse of night,
passing the hard throb of sun-smitten blood
when the noon-world is fused in fire and blent
with my then unattained hero-mood;
what will with me the imperious instinct
that hounds the gulfs together on that place
vanishing utterly out of mortal trace,
the citadel where I would seem distinct —
if not thou ween'st a vanity, my deep
unlighted still, the which thy refluent sweep
intolerably dilates, a tide that draws
with lunatic desire, distraught and fond,
to some dark moon of vastness, hung beyond
our little limits of familiar cause,
as tho' the tense and tortured voids should dash
ruining amorously together, a clash
portentous with some rose of thinnest flame,
secret, exhaled in the annull'd abyss,
that, with this soul, passes in that fell kiss
and to the soft-sprung flush all sanctity
surrenders, centring in the blossom'd Name,
as the dark wings of silence lovingly
hover above the adventurous song that fares
forth to the void and finds no lip that shares
its rapture, just the great wings spreading wide.
O mother thou or sister or my bride,
inevitable, whom this hour in me declares,
were thine of old such rhythmic pangs that bore
my shivering soul, wind-waif upon the shore
that is a wavering twilight, thence astray
beneath the empty plainness of the day?
me thy first want conceived to some dim end,
that my unwelcom'd love might henceward tend
to the dumb home that draws it in thy breast
and the veil'd couch of some divine incest,
where thou didst wait some hour of sharp delight
to wither up in splendour the stark night
and haggard shame that ceremented thy dearth,
with purest diamond-blaze, some overbirth
of the dark fire thy foresight did enmesh
within this hither and thither harried flesh?
Ay, yet obscurely stirs, a monstrous worm
in the rear cavern of my dazzled thought,
a memory that wavers, formless form
of superhuman nuptials, clasp'd and caught
unto the breast that is our loathed tomb:
then, issuing from the violated womb,
tremendous birth of dreadful prodigies
begotten on the apocalyptic skies:
one moment's hope, one thrill alone was given
of pinions beating up the parting heaven;
but straight thereon the spectral mirk was riven
by shapes of snaky horror, grisly jaw,
cold fear, and scaly fold, and endless maw.
What terror clutch'd me, even as ecstasy
smote dire across transfigured mystery?
and whose the sin that doom'd thee to disgrace,
to haunt the shapeless dark, a burning face,
eyes that would cling to mine and lips that seek
some baffled kiss, some word they may not speak,
condemn'd to yearn where the worn foam is hoar
and vain against the unshaken nightly shore.
Nightly thy tempting comes, when the dark breeze
scatters my thought among the unquiet trees
and sweeps it, with dead leaves, o'er widow'd lands
and kingdoms conquer'd by no human hands;
nightly thou wouldst exalt me in the deep,
crown'd with the morn that shines beyond our sleep,
nightly renew those nuptials, and re-win
virginity, and shed the doubtful sin:
but I am born into dividual life
and I have ta'en the woman for my wife,
a flowery pasture fenced and soft with streams,
fill'd with slow ease and fresh with eastern beams
of coolest silver on the sliding wave:
such refuge the derisive morning gave,
shaped featly in thy similitude, to attract
earthward the gusty soul thy temptings rack'd.
I sicken with the long unsatisfied
waiting: the sombre gulfs of night divide:
no dawn is shown that keeps its grace nor soon
degraded not to brutal fires of noon;
and heavy on my soul the tyrant lays
his hand, and dazzles with his common blaze
eyes that are fain, when evening brings the dew,
to cool them in the grasses: few, how few
are now the hours that thou mayst claim as thine!
— And shall I not take heart? if no divine
revealment star me with the diadem
hermetic, magian, alchemic gem,
shall I not feel the earth with firmer tread
if abdicating to the viewless dead
the invaluable round of nothingness?
Kingdom awaits me, homage, swords, liesse,
battle, broad fame in fable, song: shall I
confide all hope to scanty shapes that fly
in dreams, whom even if they be all I know
not, or fore-runners of the One? I go,
shaking them from my spirit, to rule and mould
in mine own shape the gods that shall be old.
— Nay, not thus lightly, heart the winds have mock'd!
wings of fierce winds that o'er the star-strown height
sweep, and adown the wide world-ways unlock'd
feign for thy trouble a last conclusive fight:
O heart wherethro' these insolent powers stray,
pass and repass, and thou dost foolish hold
aught else inspires them than their cynic play,
the aimless idle sport they plann'd of old
to while the waste hours of their tedious state
and shall pursue when thou art seal'd in dust,
thou latest toy, framed for this silly fate,
to watch their pastime turning, tremble and trust
some deathless gain for thee should issue of it
imblazed in stars on some thy kindred's brow;
O thou, all laughable for thy short wit,
not lightly thus shalt thou put off their slight
and steady thee to build in their despite
secure, some seat, and hold thy being safe,
joying in this at last that thou art thou,
distinct, no longer in wilful tides a waif:
O heart the winds have emptied of all clear
and natural impulse, O wasted brain
and spirit expent with straining from thy sphere,
turn thee to earth, if that be not a cheat,
and, childlike, lay thee in her torpid lap,
there to reflush these flaccid veins with sap
from spilth of sleep, where herbs of drowsy bane
spring in slow shade and death is sprinkled sweet,
with promis'd coolness dark — perchance a lure..
Thou sleep, at least, receive and wrap me sure
in midmost of thy softness, that no flare,
disastrous, from some rending of the veil,
nor dawn from springs beyond thy precincts, rare
with revelation, risen, or dewy-pale
exhaled from fields of death, disturb that full
absorption of robustness, and I wake
in placid large content, replete and dull,
fast-grown to earth, whom winds no longer shake.
Thick sleep, with error of the tangled wood,
and vapour from the evening marsh of sense,
and smoothness of the glide of Lethe, would
inaugurate his dullard innocence,
cool'd of his calenture, elaborate brute:
but, all deceitful of his craven hope,
the devious and covert ways of dream
shall lead him out upon no temper'd beam
or thick-grass'd ease, where herbs of soothing shoot
in asphodel, but on the shuddering scope
and the chill touch of endless distances
still thronging on the wingless soul that flees
along the self-pursuing path, to find
the naked night before it and behind.
What night is this, made denser, in his breast
or round him, suddenly or first confest
after its gradual thickening complete?
as tho' the mighty current, bearing fleet
the unresting stars, had here devolved its lees,
stagnant, contempt, on recreant destinies;
as tho' a settling of tremendous pens,
above the desolate dream, had shed immense
addition to the incumbence of despair
downward, across this crypt of stirless air,
from some henceforth infrangible attitude,
upon his breast, that knows no dawn renew'd,
builded enormously, each brazen stage,
with rigor of his hope in hopeless age
mummied, and look that turns his thew to stone:
even hers, that is his strangling sphinx, made known
with, on her breast, his fore-erected tomb,
engraven deep, the letters of his doom.
Terrible, if he will not have me else,
I lurk to seize and strangle, in the cells
where he hath made a dusk round his delight:
whether he woo the bride's incarnate bright
and natural rose to shimmer thro' the dense
of odour-motes whereby the brooding sense
flows forth beyond its aching bounds and lies,
full-brimm'd and sombre, around her clear disguise
that saturates the dusk with secret gold;
or the miraculous rose of Heaven to unfold
out from its heart of ruby fire and rain
unceasing drift of petals, and maintain
a tabernacle about the little hour
where his eternity hath phantom power:
and terrible I am moulded in the stone
that clamps for ever, rigid, stark, alone,
round nought but absence of the man he was,
some cell of that cold space against whose laws
he seeks a refuge in his inner deep
of love, and soften'd fire, and quicken'd sleep,
tho' knowing that I, the bride his sin dethroned
and exiled to the wastes that lie disown'd,
can bring that icy want even to the heart
of his most secret bliss, that he shall start
aghast, to see its burning centre fade
and know his hope, the impious, vain, unmade.
Lo now, beneath the watch of knitted boughs
he lies, close-folded to his newer spouse,
creature of morn, that hath ordain'd its fresh
dew and cool glimmer in her crystal flesh
sweetly be mix'd, with quicken'd breath of leaves
and the still charm the spotless dawning weaves.
But I have set my hand upon his soul
and moulded it to my unseen control;
and he hath slept within my shadowy hair
and guards a memory how in my far lair
the forces of tremendous passion stir:
my spectral face shall come between his eyes
and the soft face of her, my name shall rise,
unutter'd, in each thought that goes to her;
and in the quiet waters of her gaze
shall lurk a siren-lure that beckons him
down halls of death and sinful chambers dim:
he shall not know her nor her gentle ways
nor rest, content, by her sufficing source,
but, under stress of the veil'd stars, shall force
her simple bloom to perilous delight
adulterate with pain, some nameless night
stain'd with miasm of flesh become a tomb:
then baffled hope, some torch o' the blood to illume
and flush the jewel hid beyond all height,
and sombre rage that burst the holy bourne
of garden-joy, murdering innocence,
and the distraught desire to bring a kiss
unto the fleeting centre of the abyss,
discovering the eternal lack, shall spurn
even that sun-god's garden of pure sense,
not wisely wasted with insensate will.
I am his bride and was and shall be still,
tho' infamous as devil's dam, a fear
to wives that watch the cradle-side and hear
how I devour the newling flesh, and none
shall void my claim upon his latest son,
because the father fell beneath my harm,
not god invented late, nor anxious charm;
tho' with the chemic mind he holds in trust
to show me gem, he celebrate the dust;
dumb earth, in garb of borrow'd beauty dight
by the fond day that curtains him in light;
green pleasaunces, whose smiling would attest
his heart true-born of her untroubled breast
and leaves that beckon on the woodland ways
of the stream-side, where expectation strays
of water-brides, swift blight to them that see,
because the waters are to mirror me:—
of these his hunted thought, seeking retreat
in narrow light, and some sure bosom-heat
to cherish him, and friendly face of kin,
shall mould him fancied ancestors, to win
some certitude that he is in his home
rescued from any doom that bids him roam,
and him the blossom of the day presume,
unheeding that its roots are in my womb
nor song may breathe a magic unconfest
of the anterior silence of my breast:
but I shall lurk within the sightless stare
of his impassive idols, housing there
an unknown that allures and makes him fain
to perish for his creatures' fancied gain;
and they shall gaze and see not while his brood
befouls their stony presence with much blood,
their children's, and their captive enemies',
stretch'd out, exenterate, on those callous knees,
and, last, their own, ere some ill-fortuned field
drink all of it, since faith forbids them yield
and brings to learn in full, the fool's just trade,
the gratitude of gods themselves have made.
Last, since a pinch of dust may quench the eyes
that took the azure curve of stainless skies
and still the fiercest heart, he seeks to whelm
infinite yearning with a little realm,
beating together with ungentle hands,
enslaved, the trembling spawn of generous lands,
whom he shall force, a busy swarm, to raise,
last bulwarks of his whelming discontent,
heaven-threatening Babels, iron Ninevehs
square-thought with rigid will, a monument
of stony rage in high defiant stones
eternized with blasphemous intent,
and carve the mountain-cone to hide his bones,
a wonder to blank tribes of shrunken days:
but in that cave before his upstart gates
where elder night endures unshaken, waits
that foe of settled peace, the smiling sphinx,
or foul Echidna's mass'd insidious links,
reminding him that all is vanities;
and when, at last, o'er his nine roods he lies,
stretch'd in the sarcophage whereover grief
makes way before one huge gust of relief,
not the wing-blast of his vain shade shall drive
his wizen'd captives from their dungeon-hive,
and make a solitude about his bed;
nor the chill thought petrific his low head
exudes in rays of darkness, that beyond
this perturb'd sphere congeal, an orb of dread:
I, Lilith, on his tomb immensely throned,
with viewless face and viewless vans outspread;
in the wide waste of his unhallow'd work,
calm coils of fear, my serpent-brood shall lurk;
and I shall muse above the little dust
that was the flesh that held my word in trust.
Warrior and prince and poet, thou that fain
over some tract of lapsing years wouldst reign
nor know'st the crown that all thy wants confess
is Lilith's own, the round of nothingness:
warrior, whose witless game is but to feel
thyself authentic thro' the wielded steel
and give thy ghost assurance that thou art,
what aimless endless wars shall make thy heart
arena for the wheeling of their play!
king, that wast mighty in the easy way
of thy desire, what time these thews were young,
how bitter is the wisdom on thy tongue
in the late season, when a westering sun
shows thee thy work, that it is evil done!
O priest and poet, thou that makest God,
woe, when the path of thine illusion, trod
even to the end, reveals thee thy worn face,
eternal hermit of the unhallow'd place!
O man, the coward hope of thy despair
to be confounded with the driven air,
the grass that grows and knows not, the kind herds
that are not wrought with dreams nor any words,
to hollow out some refuge sunk as deep
as that was high thou hadst not sense to keep,
and here thy vexing shade to obliterate
ensuring that it rise not, soon or late,
thou knowing I claim thee whole when that thou art dead.
Go forth: be great, O nothing. I have said.
Thus in her hour of wrath, o'er Adam's head
Lilith, then first reveal'd, a name of dread,
thus in her hour of sorrow: and the rage,
that drove the giant-hunters in that age
since whelm'd beneath the weltering cataclysm,
was the mad flight from her instant abysm
and iron sadness and unsatisfied
despair of kings that by Euphrates' side
rein the wing'd steer or grasp the stony mane
of lions dared, if so they might obtain
surcease of lingering unnamed distress.
And if she kept the word forgetfulness
absorb'd, sole ear of sunken sleep, it is
to them that wander thro' Persepolis,
Ekbatan, or where else o'er arrow'd bricks
her snakes make the dry noise of trodden sticks,
known and well-known how that revolt was dash'd
and cruel keeps with lustral silence wash'd.
A name of dread reveal'd: and tho' forgot
in strenuous times to whom the lyre was not,
yet, when her hour awoke, the peoples heard
her coming and the winds no more deferr'd
that sweep along the expected day of wrath,
and rear'd the soaring aisles along her path
to house the massive gloom where she might dwell,
conjectured, hovering, impenetrable,
while o'er the mortal terror crouch'd beneath
the shuddering organ pour'd black wave of death;
when man withheld his hand from life, in fear
to find her, temptress, in the flesh most dear
or on the lowliest ways of simple peace —
vain-weening he that thus their feud might cease:
ay, and the cynic days that thought them blest
to know this earth a plunder-ground confest
and calm within them of the glutted beast
knew her, the emptiness that, when the feast
hath quench'd its lamps, makes, in the invaded hall,
stray'd steps, reverberated from the wall,
sound on the ear like some portentous stride,
companion's fixt, to mock our tread, beside,
nor near and show his apprehended guise
familiar, ease to our intended eyes.
Lilith, a name of dread: yet was her pain
and loving to her chosen ones not vain
hinted, who know what weight of gelid tears
afflicts the widow'd uplands of the spheres,
and whence the enrapturing breaths are sent that bring
a perfume of the secular flowering
of the far-bleeding rose of Paradise,
that mortal hearts in censer-fume arise
unto the heart that were an ardent peace,
and whence the sibyl-hints of song, that cease
in pale and thrilling silence, lest they wrong
her beauty, whose love bade live their fleeting throng,
even hers, who is the silence of our thought,
as he that sleeps in hush'd Valvins hath taught.
She is the night: all horror is of her
heap'd, shapeless, on the unclaim'd chaotic marsh
or huddled on the looming sepulchre
where the incult and scanty herb is harsh.
She is the night: all terror is of her
when the distemper'd dark begins to boil
with wavering face of larve and oily blur
of pallor on her suffocating coil.
Or majesty is hers, when marble gloom
supports her, calm, with glittering signs severe
and grandeur of metallic roof of doom,
far in the windows of our broken sphere.
Or she can be all pale, under no moon
or star, with veiling of the glamour cloud,
all pale, as were the fainting secret soon
to be exhaled, bride-robed in clinging shroud.
For she is night, and knows each wooing mood:
and her warm breasts are near in the charm'd air
of summer eve, and lovingly delude
the aching brow that craves their tender care.
The wooing night: all nuptials are of her;
and she the musky golden cloud that hangs
on maiden blood that burns, a boding stir
shot thro' with flashes of alluring pangs,
far off, in creeks that slept unvisited
or moved so smoothly that no ripple creas'd
their mirror'd slip of blue, till that sweet dread
melted the air and soft sighs stole, releas'd;
and she the shame of brides, veiling the white
of bosoms that for sharp fulfilment yearn;
she is the obscure centre of delight
and steals the kiss, the kiss she would return
deepen'd with all the abysm that under speech
moves shudderingly, or as that gulf is known
to set the astonied spouses each from each
across the futile sea of sighs, alone.
All mystery, and all love, beyond our ken,
she woos us, mournful till we find her fair:
and gods and stars and songs and souls of men
are the sparse jewels in her scatter'd hair.
This rose, the lips that kiss, and the young breast
they kindle, flush'd throughout its waking snows;
and this, that tremulous on the morning blows,
heart's youth some golden dew of dream hath blest;
auroras, grace and sooth! no tragic west
shed splendid the red anger of your close:
how soon within this wandering barrow grows
the canker'd heap of petals once caress'd!
Old odours of the rose are sickening; night,
hasten above the corpse of old delight,
if in decay the heart cherish some heat,
to breed new spice within the charnel-mould,
that eyes unseal'd with living dew may greet
the morning of the deathless rose of gold.