Losing the war of tobacco..
Losing the war of tobacco..
I'm losing the war that has consumed my life.
Tobacco is my war that I fight along side
Tobacco is in the life I live in
Tobacco is the war I'm losing
Tobacco has consumed my life
To walk is an action from the head,
It requires patience and easygoingness,
Offered by easiness,
Instilling calmness to the head, beauty to the brain,
A charm is brave as the system is strong,
We fight along side the pressing people,
Racing onwards is a goal too stupendous;
Instead of feeling fire the legs can carry,
And more than one person works this way,
Fortunately, the pressure is greater on the return
To bedazzle the mind with success.
We see a reminder to the soul,
That to walk requires a patient pair of legs,
One of us is in the process of walking
Yet defeat looms when in this process.
He Found Himself By Losing
He found himself by losing!
Race after race,
Kept him paced with rejecting,
His innervision coming from within himself.
And he had no plans to schedule a meeting,
He had fallen in love,
With beating himself down!
Something he knew he did,
But not honest enough to admit...
He himself has done it!
Infatuated with self loothing,
A smile feared to show upon his face!
He seemed to enjoy the company
Of low self esteem.
He prowled on the scene to display
His thoughtless and mean side.
Establishing his disposition.
He has found himself by losing,
Concepts of restrictions.
When he slipped and fell on an outspoken yell
That evoked his truth to rescue him,
It was not liked!
And nothing about it,
Struck a note of excitement.
From those who thought his mind had snapped!
He stopped revolving on that dog track!
And barked back to reveal his discomfort.
He has found himself,
By losing myths...
That dragons can not do anything more,
Than blow flame.
Or become upset when little things annoy.
He found himself...
And the right to throw his uptight caution to the wind.
He has found himself by losing...
And leaving that losing self he felt behind,
With excuses to abuse that made this all begin.
- quotes about dogs
- quotes about attitutde
- quotes about worry
- quotes about peace
- quotes about hate
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about wind
- quotes about independence
The Animals’ Status
It is quite uncommon for a friend
To commit many acts of obedience;
Fierce acts comprise the solid alleys
Of the thoughts we lust for and desire.
Maybe friends stay at home, like an enemy
That salvages the savages of the past.
Obey those human beings all in the night,
Losing is confusion, passion has been.
The conversationalists embrace me
As spoken words are flying towards me.
Let obedience be disobedience
When the flight of animals makes them high
In status, in esteem.
- quotes about flying
- quotes about animals
- quotes about violence
- quotes about friendship
- quotes about time
- quotes about past
- quotes about height
- quotes about home
- quotes about words
The Chances Of Winning
life is like a game, you lost and you win
losing is winning where it fall and
winning is losing where it stand
all the day through, you gain, but nothing
has been done
what makes it defferent, when everything
is nothing and what makes it something
when everthing is nothing
life is just, but a game to play... make the
best for it, for you win for something, that
will make you something out of nothing
many years have gone, yet! it seems
that those are just a dream, a dream that
i stand for none and end with gone
i now live for something, that the only chances
I'll make, will leads me to do something
the best of the game, i have to stand for my
chances of winning is something out of nothing
winning is a matter of chances of nothing.....
just do it... right
The Song Remembers When
I was standing at the counter
I was waiting for the change
When I heard that old familiar music start
It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart
After taking every detour
Getting lost and losing track
So that even if I wanted
I could not find my way back
After driving out the memory
Of the way things might have been
After Id forgotten all about us
The song remembers when
We were rolling through the rockies
We were up above the clouds
When a station out of jackson played that song
And it seemed to fit the moment
And the moment seemed to freeze
When we turned the music up and sang along
And there was a God in heaven
And the world made perfect sense
We were young and were in love
And we were easy to convince
We were headed straight for eden
It was just around the bend
And though I have forgotten all about it
The song remembers when
I guess something must have happened
And we must have said goodbye
And my heart must have been broken
Though I cant recall just why
The song remembers when
Well, for all the miles between us
And for all the time thats passed
You would think I havent gotten very far
And I hope my hasty heart
Will forgive me just this once
If I stop to wonder how on earth you are
But thats just a lot of water
Underneath a bridge I burned
And theres no use in backtracking
Around corners I have turned
Still I guess some things we bury
Are just bound to rise again
For even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when
Yeah, and even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when
Power paves from cave to grave
Man has paddled to the powerful and strong,
Worshipping what would not to his wish wield,
Commanding weak-kneed, committing all wrong,
E'er since the days of caves and battlefield,
Power from the days of cave, power to the grave,
Power in the name of principles to save.
He that rises to heights of stratosphere,
He that holds power to heart's near and dear,
Afraid of honest peer, always in fear
Of losing power, scared that law may interfere,
Afraid, flow of power may interrupt,
To him does power conspire to corrupt.
And today stray caps in sarkari house,
Looking holy in chair, or harmless cows,
The polling polls once return them to rule,
Turn in to bull as crown's precious jewel,
The powerhouse ready power to disburse,
To nurse cronies from people's tax-paid purse.
Each power cap, a poisonous creature,
Each having an exaggerated view
Of his cap, that evaporates not unlike dew,
But grasping-to-the-grave as its feature,
Crying out still like starving babes— ‘give, give',
Like hungry maw it knows but to receive.
But we that glibly put power to hell-hands—
Hands alas of a power-hungry tyrant,
Ne'er once cavil that they've turned faceless friends
To people, nor are fair to trust ere lent,
Nor wonder why their face is now turned ‘way,
The face that had begged and beseeched one day.
We that should know well democracy's staple:
Unbridled power we aught abolish;
In practice yet, we push up our own people,
So, long as power prevails, rulers and ruled
Shall ever be, so be the shahs, slavish,
Our own tools exploiting O the exploited fools!
We too know well: power roots down from the mind,
Rooting humane, gentle virtue, scarce vice,
Greater the power, greater the grab we find;
The voter scarce bewares; power, a loaded dice,
Fails, as a diamond should dazzle, to strike
Beholders no less than holders alike!
Dignifying the meanest of the means,
Magnifying whilst the midgets of smallish minds,
Deigning dignity to the contemptible scenes,
To exalted chair lowly that e'er winds,
If it can intoxicate best of hearts,
I shudder to think, what it can to warts.
Laws are oft laid power to perpetuate,
And in the statute lie on power's cue,
Let the civil acquiescing most not wait
To stall the slavery of week-kneed few;
Power per se seldom corrupts, I trust,
What does is her illegitimate child called lust.
Beware; power concedes naught without clamour,
It watches, if people submit to more,
To know what injustice and wrong to lever,
And would last till resisted, words or war;
Rare if wisdom with power marries so well,
For, their loyalty lasts but a short spell.
Beware O much-ruled man, the strong ne'er lust
For power, rooted ‘tis in the weak, unjust;
If human mind prone to pride is without,
O how much more would it with power's clout!
Man, a power-admiring vainest of toad,
A slave in mind, he loves a tyrant odd.
He is the power-providing ready plug,
The parent raising corruptible child,
Now bribing with sweet, now letting pass drug,
Under his cold nose are these habits piled;
He indulges till spread wide is the pestilence,
The child he's taxing his parent's patience.
Beware; a switch-less power be to a prince,
As wine and woman work as a red rag,
Bribe to a bureaucrat, for long, long since,
Avarice to old age, musk to the stag,
Vanity to vain, to greedy a gratis grant;
Ah, of all passions, lust of power is most fragrant.
- Satire | 03.05.11 |
At The Saturday Club
THIS is our place of meeting; opposite
That towered and pillared building: look at it;
King's Chapel in the Second George's day,
Rebellion stole its regal name away,--
Stone Chapel sounded better; but at last
The poisoned name of our provincial past
Had lost its ancient venom; then once more
Stone Chapel was King's Chapel as before.
(So let rechristened North Street, when it can,
Bring back the days of Marlborough and Queen Anne!)
Next the old church your wandering eye will meet--
A granite pile that stares upon the street--
Our civic temple; slanderous tongues have said
Its shape was modelled from St. Botolph's head,
Lofty, but narrow; jealous passers-by
Say Boston always held her head too high.
Turn half-way round, and let your look survey
The white facade that gleams across the way,--
The many-windowed building, tall and wide,
The palace-inn that shows its northern side
In grateful shadow when the sunbeams beat
The granite wall in summer's scorching heat.
This is the place; whether its name you spell
Tavern, or caravansera, or hotel.
Would I could steal its echoes! you should find
Such store of vanished pleasures brought to mind
Such feasts! the laughs of many a jocund hour
That shook the mortar from King George's tower;
Such guests! What famous names its record boasts,
Whose owners wander in the mob of ghosts!
Such stories! Every beam and plank is filled
With juicy wit the joyous talkers spilled,
Ready to ooze, as once the mountain pine
The floors are laid with oozed its turpentine!
A month had flitted since The Club had met;
The day came round; I found the table set,
The waiters lounging round the marble stairs,
Empty as yet the double row of chairs.
I was a full half hour before the rest,
Alone, the banquet-chamber's single guest.
So from the table's side a chair I took,
And having neither company nor book
To keep me waking, by degrees there crept
A torpor over me,--in short, I slept.
Loosed from its chain, along the wreck-strown track
Of the dead years my soul goes travelling back;
My ghosts take on their robes of flesh; it seems
Dreaming is life; nay, life less life than dreams,
So real are the shapes that meet my eyes.
They bring no sense of wonder, no surprise,
No hint of other than an earth-born source;
All seems plain daylight, everything of course.
How dim the colors are, how poor and faint
This palette of weak words with which I paint!
Here sit my friends; if I could fix them so
As to my eyes they seem, my page would glow
Like a queen's missal, warm as if the brush
Of Titian or Velasquez brought the flush
Of life into their features. Ay de mi!
If syllables were pigments, you should see
Such breathing portraitures as never man
Found in the Pitti or the Vatican.
Here sits our POET, Laureate, if you will.
Long has he worn the wreath, and wears it still.
Dead? Nay, not so; and yet they say his bust
Looks down on marbles covering royal dust,
Kings by the Grace of God, or Nature's grace;
Dead! No! Alive! I see him in his place,
Full-featured, with the bloom that heaven denies
Her children, pinched by cold New England skies,
Too often, while the nursery's happier few
Win from a summer cloud its roseate hue.
Kind, soft-voiced, gentle, in his eye there shines
The ray serene that filled Evangeline's.
Modest he seems, not shy; content to wait
Amid the noisy clamor of debate
The looked-for moment when a peaceful word
Smooths the rough ripples louder tongues have stirred.
In every tone I mark his tender grace
And all his poems hinted in his face;
What tranquil joy his friendly presence gives!
How could. I think him dead? He lives! He lives!
There, at the table's further end I see
In his old place our Poet's vis-a-vis,
The great PROFESSOR, strong, broad-shouldered, square,
In life's rich noontide, joyous, debonair.
His social hour no leaden care alloys,
His laugh rings loud and mirthful as a boy's,--
That lusty laugh the Puritan forgot,--
What ear has heard it and remembers not?
How often, halting at some wide crevasse
Amid the windings of his Alpine pass,
High up the cliffs, the climbing mountaineer,
Listening the far-off avalanche to hear,
Silent, and leaning on his steel-shod staff,
Has heard that cheery voice, that ringing laugh,
From the rude cabin whose nomadic walls
Creep with the moving glacier as it crawls
How does vast Nature lead her living train
In ordered sequence through that spacious brain,
As in the primal hour when Adam named
The new-born tribes that young creation claimed!--
How will her realm be darkened, losing thee,
Her darling, whom we call _our_ AGASSIZ!
But who is he whose massive frame belies
The maiden shyness of his downcast eyes?
Who broods in silence till, by questions pressed,
Some answer struggles from his laboring breast?
An artist Nature meant to dwell apart,
Locked in his studio with a human heart,
Tracking its eaverned passions to their lair,
And all its throbbing mysteries laying bare.
Count it no marvel that he broods alone
Over the heart he studies,--'t is his own;
So in his page, whatever shape it wear,
The Essex wizard's shadowed self is there,--
The great ROMANCER, hid beneath his veil
Like the stern preacher of his sombre tale;
Virile in strength, yet bashful as a girl,
Prouder than Hester, sensitive as Pearl.
From his mild throng of worshippers released,
Our Concord Delphi sends its chosen priest,
Prophet or poet, mystic, sage, or seer,
By every title always welcome here.
Why that ethereal spirit's frame describe?
You know the race-marks of the Brahmin tribe,
The spare, slight form, the sloping shoulders' droop,
The calm, scholastic mien, the clerkly stoop,
The lines of thought the sharpened features wear,
Carved by the edge of keen New England air.
List! for he speaks! As when a king would choose
The jewels for his bride, he might refuse
This diamond for its flaw,--find that less bright
Than those, its fellows, and a pearl less white
Than fits her snowy neck, and yet at last,
The fairest gems are chosen, and made fast
In golden fetters; so, with light delays
He seeks the fittest word to fill his phrase;
Nor vain nor idle his fastidious quest,
His chosen word is sure to prove the best.
Where in the realm of thought, whose air is song,
Does he, the Buddha of the West, belong?
He seems a winged Franklin, sweetly wise,
Born to unlock the secrets of the skies;
And which the nobler calling,--if 't is fair
Terrestrial with celestial to compare,--
To guide the storm-cloud's elemental flame,
Or walk the chambers whence the lightning came,
Amidst the sources of its subtile fire,
And steal their effluence for his lips and lyre?
If lost at times in vague aerial flights,
None treads with firmer footstep when he lights;
A soaring nature, ballasted with sense,
Wisdom without her wrinkles or pretence,
In every Bible he has faith to read,
And every altar helps to shape his creed.
Ask you what name this prisoned spirit bears
While with ourselves this fleeting breath it shares?
Till angels greet him with a sweeter one
In heaven, on earth we call him EMERSON.
I start; I wake; the vision is withdrawn;
Its figures fading like the stars at dawn;
Crossed from the roll of life their cherished names,
And memory's pictures fading in their frames;
Yet life is lovelier for these transient gleams
Of buried friendships; blest is he who dreams!
Pharsalia - Book VII: The Battle
Ne'er to the summons of the Eternal laws
More slowly Titan rose, nor drave his steeds,
Forced by the sky revolving, up the heaven,
With gloomier presage; wishing to endure
The pangs of ravished light, and dark eclipse;
And drew the mists up, not to feed his flames,
But lest his light upon Thessalian earth
Might fall undimmed.
Pompeius on that morn,
To him the latest day of happy life,
In troubled sleep an empty dream conceived.
For in the watches of the night he heard
Innumerable Romans shout his name
Within his theatre; the benches vied
To raise his fame and place him with the gods;
As once in youth, when victory was won
O'er conquered tribes where swift Iberus flows,
And where Sertorius' armies fought and fled,
The west subdued, with no less majesty
Than if the purple toga graced the car,
He sat triumphant in his pure white gown
A Roman knight, and heard the Senate's cheer.
Perhaps, as ills drew near, his anxious soul,
Shunning the future wooed the happy past;
Or, as is wont, prophetic slumber showed
That which was not to be, by doubtful forms
Misleading; or as envious Fate forbade
Return to Italy, this glimpse of Rome
Kind Fortune gave. Break not his latest sleep,
Ye sentinels; let not the trumpet call
Strike on his ear: for on the morrow's night
Shapes of the battle lost, of death and war
Shall crowd his rest with terrors. Whence shalt thou
The poor man's happiness of sleep regain?
Happy if even in dreams thy Rome could see
Once more her captain! Would the gods had given
To thee and to thy country one day yet
To reap the latest fruit of such a love:
Though sure of fate to come! Thou marchest on
As though by heaven ordained in Rome to die;
She, conscious ever of her prayers for thee
Heard by the gods, deemed not the fates decreed
Such evil destiny, that she should lose
The last sad solace of her Magnus' tomb.
Then young and old had blent their tears for thee,
And child unbidden; women torn their hair
And struck their bosoms as for Brutus dead.
But now no public woe shall greet thy death
As erst thy praise was heard: but men shall grieve
In silent sorrow, though the victor's voice
Amid the clash of arms proclaims thy fall;
Though incense smoke before the Thunderer's shrine,
And shouts of welcome bid great Caesar hail.
The stars had fled before the growing morn,
When eager voices (as the fates drew on
The world to ruin) round Pompeius' tent
Demand the battle signal. What! by those
So soon to perish, shall the sign be asked,
Their own, their country's doom? Ah! fatal rage
That hastens on the hour; no other sun
Upon this living host shall rise again.
'Pompeius fears!' they cry. 'He's slow to act;
Too 'kind to Caesar; and he fondly rules
A world of subject peoples; but with peace
Such rule were ended.' Eastern kings no less,
And peoples, eager for their distant homes,
Already murmured at the lengthy war.
Thus hath it pleased the gods, when woe impends
On guilty men, to make them seem its cause.
We court disaster, crave the fatal sword.
Of Magnus' camp Pharsalia was the prayer;
For Tullius, of all the sons of Rome
Chief orator, beneath whose civil rule
Fierce Catiline at the peace-compelling axe
Trembled and fled, arose, to Magnus' ear
Bearing the voice of all. To him was war
Grown hateful, and he longed once more to hear
The Senate's plaudits; and with eloquent lips
He lent persuasion to the weaker cause.
'Fortune, Pompeius, for her gifts to thee
Asks this one boon, that thou should'st use her now.
Here at thy feet thy leading captains lie;
And here thy monarchs, and a suppliant world
Entreats thee prostrate for thy kinsman's fall.
So long shall Caesar plunge the world in war?
Swift was thy tread when these proud nations fell;
How deep their shame, and justly, should delay
Now mar thy conquests! Where thy trust in Fate,
Thy fervour where? Ingrate! Dost dread the gods,
Or think they favour not the Senate's cause?
Thy troops unbidden shall the standards seize
And conquer; thou in shame be forced to win.
If at the Senate's orders and for us
The war is waged, then give to us the right
To choose the battle-field. Why dost thou keep
From Caesar's throat the swords of all the world?
The weapon quivers in the eager hand:
Scarce one awaits the signal. Strike at once,
Or without thee the trumpets sound the fray.
Art thou the Senate's comrade or her lord?
We wait your answer.'
But Pompeius groaned;
His mind was adverse, but he felt the fates
Opposed his wish, and knew the hand divine.
'Since all desire it, and the fates prevail,
So let it be; your leader now no more,
I share the labours of the battle-field.
Let Fortune roll the nations of the earth
In one red ruin; myriads of mankind
See their last sun to-day. Yet, Rome, I swear,
This day of blood was forced upon thy son.
Without a wound, the prizes of the war
Might have been thine, and he who broke the peace
In peace forgotten. Whence this lust for crime?
Shall bloodless victories in civil war
Be shunned, not sought? We've ravished from our foe
All boundless seas, and land; his starving troops
Have snatched earth's crop half-grown, in vain attempt
Their hunger to appease; they prayed for death,
Sought for the sword-thrust, and within our ranks
Were fain to mix their life-blood with your own.
Much of the war is done: the conscript youth
Whose heart beats high, who burns to join the fray
(Though men fight hard in terror of defeat),
The shock of onset need no longer fear.
Bravest is he who promptly meets the ill
When fate commands it and the moment comes,
Yet brooks delay, in prudence; and shall we,
Our happy state enjoying, risk it all?
Trust to the sword the fortunes of the world?
Not victory, but battle, ye demand.
Do thou, O Fortune, of the Roman state
Who mad'st Pompeius guardian, from his hands
Take back the charge grown weightier, and thyself
Commit its safety to the chance of war.
Nor blame nor glory shall be mine to-day.
Thy prayers unjustly, Caesar, have prevailed:
We fight! What wickedness, what woes on men,
Destruction on what realms this dawn shall bring!
Crimson with Roman blood yon stream shall run.
Would that (without the ruin of our cause)
The first fell bolt hurled on this cursed day
Might strike me lifeless! Else, this battle brings
A name of pity or a name of hate.
The loser bears the burden of defeat;
The victor wins, but conquest is a crime.'
Thus to the soldiers, burning for the fray,
He yields, forbidding, and throws down the reins.
So may a sailor give the winds control
Upon his barque, which, driven by the seas,
Bears him an idle burden. Now the camp
Hums with impatience, and the brave man's heart
With beats tumultuous throbs against his breast;
And all the host had standing in their looks
The paleness of the death that was to come.
On that day's fight 'twas manifest that Rome
And all the future destinies of man
Hung trembling; and by weightier dread possessed,
They knew not danger. Who would fear for self
Should ocean rise and whelm the mountain tops,
And sun and sky descend upon the earth
In universal chaos? Every mind
Is bent upon Pompeius, and on Rome.
They trust no sword until its deadly point
Glows on the sharpening stone; no lance will serve
Till straightened for the fray; each bow is strung
Anew, and arrows chosen for their work
Fill all the quivers; horsemen try the curb
And fit the bridle rein and whet the spur.
If toils divine with human may compare,
'Twas thus, when Phlegra bore the giant crew,
In Etna's furnace glowed the sword of Mars,
Neptunus' trident felt the flame once more;
And great Apollo after Python slain
Sharpened his darts afresh: on Pallas' shield
Was spread anew the dread Medusa's hair;
And broad Sicilia trembled at the blows
Of Vulcan forging thunderbolts for Jove.
Yet Fortune failed not, as they sought the field,
In various presage of the ills to come;
All heaven opposed their march: portentous fire
In columns filled the plain, and torches blazed:
And thirsty whirlwinds mixed with meteor bolts
Smote on them as they strode, whose sulphurous flames
Perplexed the vision. Crests were struck from helms;
The melted sword-blade flowed upon the hilt:
The spear ran liquid, and the hurtful steel
Smoked with a sulphur that had come from heaven.
Nay, more, the standards, hid by swarms of bees
Innumerable, weighed the bearer down,
Scarce lifted from the earth; bedewed with tears;
No more of Rome the standards, or her state.
And from the altar fled the frantic bull
To fields afar; nor was a victim found
To grace the sacrifice of coming doom.
But thou, Caesar, to what gods of ill
Didst thou appeal? What furies didst thou call,
What powers of madness and what Stygian Kings
Whelmed in th' abyss of hell? Didst favour gain
By sacrifice in this thine impious war?
Strange sights were seen; or caused by hands divine
Or due to fearful fancy. Haemus' top
Plunged headlong in the valley, Pindus met
With high Olympus, while at Ossa's feet
Red ran Baebeis, and Pharsalia's field
Gave warlike voices forth in depth of night.
Now darkness came upon their wondering gaze,
Now daylight pale and wan, their helmets wreathed
In pallid mist; the spirits of their sires
Hovered in air, and shades of kindred dead
Passed flitting through the gloom. Yet to the host
Conscious of guilty prayers which sought to shed
The blood of sires and brothers, earth and air
Distraught, and horrors seething in their hearts
Gave happy omen of the end to come.
Was't strange that peoples whom their latest day
Of happy life awaited (if their minds
Foreknew the doom) should tremble with affright?
Romans who dwelt by far Araxes' stream,
And Tyrian Gades, in whatever clime,
'Neath every sky, struck by mysterious dread
Were plunged in sorrow -- yet rebuked the tear,
For yet they knew not of the fatal day.
Thus on Euganean hills where sulphurous fumes
Disclose the rise of Aponus from earth,
And where Timavus broadens in the meads,
An augur spake: 'This day the fight is fought,
The arms of Caesar and Pompeius meet
To end the impious conflict.' Or he saw
The bolts of Jupiter, predicting ill;
Or else the sky discordant o'er the space
Of heaven, from pole to pole; or else perchance
The sun was sad and misty in the height
And told the battle by his wasted beams.
By Nature's fiat that Thessalian day
Passed not as others; if the gifted sense
Of reading portents had been given to all,
All men had known Pharsalia. Gods of heaven!
How do ye mark the great ones of the earth!
The world gives tokens of their weal or woe;
The sky records their fates: in distant climes
To future races shall their tale be told,
Or by the fame alone of mighty deeds
Had in remembrance, or by this my care
Borne through the centuries: and men shall read
In hope and fear the story of the war
And breathless pray, as though it were to come,
For that long since accomplished; and for thee
Thus far, Pompeius, shall that prayer be given.
Reflected from their arms, th' opposing sun
Filled all the slope with radiance as they marched
In ordered ranks to that ill-fated fight,
And stood arranged for battle. On the left
Thou, Lentulus, had'st charge; two legions there,
The fourth, and bravest of them all, the first:
While on the right, Domitius, ever stanch,
Though fates be adverse, stood: in middle line
The hardy soldiers from Cilician lands,
In Scipio's care; their chief in Libyan days,
To-day their comrade. By Enipeus' pools
And by the rivulets, the mountain troops
Of Cappadocia, and loose of rein
Thy squadrons, Pontus: on the firmer ground
Galatia's tetrarchs and the greater kings;
And all the purple-robed, the slaves of Rome.
Numidian hordes were there from Afric shores,
There Creta's host and Ituraeans found
Full space to wing their arrows; there the tribes
From brave Iberia clashed their shields, and there
Gaul stood arrayed against her ancient foe.
Let all the nations be the victor's prize,
None grace in future a triumphal car;
This fight demands the slaughter of a world.
Caesar that day to send his troops for spoil
Had left his tent, when on the further hill
Behold! his foe descending to the plain.
The moment asked for by a thousand prayers
Is come, which puts his fortune on the risk
Of imminent war, to win or lose it all.
For burning with desire of kingly power
His eager soul ill brooked the small delay
This civil war compelled: each instant lost
Robbed from his due! But when at length he knew
The last great conflict come, the fight supreme,
Whose prize the leadership of all the world:
And felt the ruin nodding to its fall:
Swiftest to strike, yet for a little space
His rage for battle failed; the spirit bold
To pledge itself the issue, wavered now:
For Magnus' fortunes gave no room for hope,
Though Caesar's none for fear. Deep in his soul
Such doubt was hidden, as with mien and speech
That augured victory, thus the chief began:
'Ye conquerors of a world, my hope in all,
Prayed for so oft, the dawn of fight is come.
No more entreat the gods: with sword in hand
Seize on our fates; and Caesar in your deeds
This day is great or little. This the day
For which I hold since Rubicon was passed
Your promise given: for this we flew to arms:
For this deferred the triumphs we had won,
And which the foe refused: this gives you back
Your homes and kindred, and the peaceful farm,
Your prize for years of service in the field.
And by the fates' command this day shall prove
Whose quarrel juster: for defeat is guilt
To him on whom it falls. If in my cause
With fire and sword ye did your country wrong,
Strike for acquittal! Should another judge
This war, not Caesar, none were blameless found.
Not for my sake this battle, but for you,
To give you, soldiers, liberty and law
'Gainst all the world. Wishful myself for life
Apart from public cares, and for the gown
That robes the private citizen, I refuse
To yield from office till the law allows
Your right in all things. On my shoulders rest
All blame; all power be yours. Nor deep the blood
Between yourselves and conquest. Grecian schools
Of exercise and wrestling send us here
Their chosen darlings to await your swords;
And scarcely armed for war, a dissonant crowd
Barbaric, that will start to hear our trump,
Nay, their own clamour. Not in civil strife
Your blows shall fall -- the battle of to-day
Sweeps from the earth the enemies of Rome.
Dash through these cowards and their vaunted kings:
One stroke of sword and all the world is yours.
Make plain to all men that the crowds who decked
Pompeius' hundred pageants scarce were fit
For one poor triumph. Shall Armenia care
Who leads her masters, or barbarians shed
One drop of blood to make Pompeius chief
O'er our Italia? Rome, 'tis Rome they hate
And all her children; yet they hate the most
Those whom they know. My fate is in the hands
Of you, mine own true soldiers, proved in all
The wars we fought in Gallia. When the sword
Of each of you shall strike, I know the hand:
The javelin's flight to me betrays the arm
That launched it hurtling: and to-day once more
I see the faces stern, the threatening eyes,
Unfailing proofs of victory to come.
E'en now the battle rushes on my sight;
Kings trodden down and scattered senators
Fill all th' ensanguined plain, and peoples float
Unnumbered on the crimson tide of death.
Enough of words -- I but delay the fates;
And you who burn to dash into the fray,
Forgive the pause. I tremble with the hopes
Thus finding utterance. I ne'er have seen
The mighty gods so near; this little field
Alone dividing us; their hands are full
Of my predestined honours: for 'tis I
Who when this war is done shall have the power
O'er all that peoples, all that kings enjoy
To shower it where I will. But has the pole
Been moved, or in its nightly course some star
Turned backwards, that such mighty deeds should pass
Here on Thessalian earth? To-day we reap
Of all our wars the harvest or the doom.
Think of the cross that threats us, and the chain,
Limbs hacked asunder, Caesar's head displayed
Upon the rostra; and that narrow field
Piled up with slaughter: for this hostile chief
Is savage Sulla's pupil. 'Tis for you,
If conquered, that I grieve: my lot apart
Is cast long since. This sword, should one of you
Turn from the battle ere the foe be fled,
Shall rob the life of Caesar. O ye gods,
Drawn down from heaven by the throes of Rome,
May he be conqueror who shall not draw
Against the vanquished an inhuman sword,
Nor count it as a crime if men of Rome
Preferred another's standard to his own.
Pompeius' sword drank deep Italian blood
When cabined in yon space the brave man's arm
No more found room to strike. But you, I pray,
Touch not the foe who turns him from the fight,
A fellow citizen, a foe no more.
But while the gleaming weapons threaten still,
Let no fond memories unnerve the arm,
No pious thought of father or of kin;
But full in face of brother or of sire,
Drive home the blade. Unless the slain be known
Your foes account his slaughter as a crime;
Spare not our camp, but lay the rampart low
And fill the fosse with ruin; not a man
But holds his post within the ranks to-day.
And yonder tents, deserted by the foe,
Shall give us shelter when the rout is done.'
Scarce had he paused; they snatch the hasty meal,
And seize their armour and with swift acclaim
Welcome the chief's predictions of the day,
Tread low their camp when rushing to the fight;
And take their post: nor word nor order given,
In fate they put their trust. Nor, had'st thou placed
All Caesars there, all striving for the throne
Of Rome their city, had their serried ranks
With speedier tread dashed down upon the foe.
But when Pompeius saw the hostile troops
Move forth in order and demand the fight,
And knew the gods' approval of the day,
He stood astonied, while a deadly chill
Struck to his heart -- omen itself of woe,
That such a chief should at the call to arms,
Thus dread the issue: but with fear repressed,
Borne on his noble steed along the line
Of all his forces, thus he spake: 'The day
Your bravery demands, that final end
Of civil war ye asked for, is at hand.
Put forth your strength, your all; the sword to-day
Does its last work. One crowded hour is charged
With nations' destinies. Whoe'er of you
Longs for his land and home, his wife and child,
Seek them with sword. Here in mid battle-field,
The gods place all at stake. Our better right
Bids us expect their favour; they shall dip
Your brands in Caesar's blood, and thus shall give
Another sanction to the laws of Rome,
Our cause of battle. If for him were meant
An empire o'er the world, had they not put
An end to Magnus' life? That I am chief
Of all these mingled peoples and of Rome
Disproves an angry heaven. See here combined
All means of victory. Noble men have sought
Unasked the risks of war. Our soldiers boast
Ancestral statues. If to us were given
A Curius, if Camillus were returned,
Or patriot Decius to devote his life,
Here would they take their stand. From furthest east
All nations gathered, cities as the sand
Unnumbered, give their aid: a world complete
Serves 'neath our standards. North and south and all
Who have their being 'neath the starry vault,
Here meet in arms conjoined: And shall we not
Crush with our closing wings this paltry foe?
Few shall find room to strike; the rest with voice
Must be content to aid: for Caesar's ranks
Suffice not for us. Think from Rome's high walls
The matrons watch you with their hair unbound;
Think that the Senate hoar, too old for arms,
With snowy locks outspread; and Rome herself,
The world's high mistress, fearing now, alas!
A despot -- all exhort you to the fight.
Think that the people that is and that shall be
Joins in the prayer -- in freedom to be born,
In freedom die, their wish. If 'mid these vows
Be still found place for mine, with wife and child,
So far as Imperator may, I bend
Before you suppliant -- unless this fight
Be won, behold me exile, your disgrace,
My kinsman's scorn. From this, 'tis yours to save.
Then save! Nor in the latest stage of life,
Let Magnus be a slave.'
Then burned their souls
At these his words, indignant at the thought,
And Rome rose up within them, and to die
Thus alike with hearts aflame
Moved either host to battle, one in fear
And one in hope of empire. These hands shall do
Such work as not the rolling centuries
Not all mankind though free from sword and war
Shall e'er make good. Nations that were to live
This fight shall crush, and peoples pre-ordained
To make the history of the coming world
Shall come not to the birth. The Latin names
Shall sound as fables in the ears of men,
And ruins loaded with the dust of years
Shall hardly mark her cities. Alba's hill,
Home of our gods, no human foot shall tread,
Save of some Senator at the ancient feast
By Numa's orders founded -- he compelled
Serves his high office. Void and desolate
Are Veii, Cora and Laurentum's hold;
Yet not the tooth of envious time destroyed
These storied monuments -- 'twas civil war
That rased their citadels. Where now hath fled
The teeming life that once Italia knew?
Not all the earth can furnish her with men:
Untenanted her dwellings and her fields:
Slaves till her soil: one city holds us all:
Crumbling to ruin, the ancestral roof
Finds none on whom to fall; and Rome herself,
Void of her citizens, draws within her gates
The dregs of all the world. That none might wage
A civil war again, thus deeply drank
Pharsalia's fight the life-blood of her sons.
Dark in the calendar of Rome for aye,
The days when Allia and Cannae fell:
And shall Pharsalus' morn, darkest of all,
Stand on the page unmarked? Alas, the fates!
Not plague nor pestilence nor famine's rage,
Not cities given to the flames, nor towns
Trembling at shock of earthquake shall weigh down
Such heroes lost, when Fortune's ruthless hand
Lops at one blow the gift of centuries,
Leaders and men embattled. How great art thou,
Rome, in thy fall! Stretched to the widest bounds
War upon war laid nations at thy feet
Till flaming Titan nigh to either pole
Beheld thine empire; and the furthest east
Was almost thine, till day and night and sky
For thee revolved, and all the stars could see
Throughout their course was Roman. But the fates
In one dread day of slaughter and despair
Turned back the centuries and spoke thy doom.
And now the Indian fears the axe no more
Once emblem of thy power, now no more
The girded Consul curbs the Getan horde,
Or in Sarmatian furrows guides the share:
Still Parthia boasts her triumphs unavenged:
Foul is the public life; and Freedom, fled
To furthest Earth beyond the Tigris' stream,
And Rhine's broad river, wandering at her will
'Mid Teuton hordes and Scythian, though by sword
Sought, yet returns not. Would that from the day
When Romulus, aided by the vulture's flight,
Ill-omened, raised within that hateful grove
Rome's earliest walls, down to the crimsoned field
In dire Thessalia fought, she ne'er had known
Italia's peoples! Did the Bruti strike
In vain for liberty? Why laws and rights
Sanctioned by all the annals designate
With consular titles? Happier far the Medes
And blest Arabia, and the Eastern lands
Held by a kindlier fate in despot rule!
That nation serves the worst which serves with shame.
No guardian gods watch over us from heaven:
Jove is no king; let ages whirl along
In blind confusion: from his throne supreme
Shall he behold such carnage and restrain
His thunderbolts? On Mimas shall he hurl
His fires, on Rhodope and Oeta's woods
Unmeriting such chastisement, and leave
This life to Cassius' hand? On Argos fell
At grim Thyestes' feast untimely night
By him thus hastened; shall Thessalia's land
Receive full daylight, wielding kindred swords
In fathers' hands and brothers'? Careless of men
Are all the gods. Yet for this day of doom
Such vengeance have we reaped as deities
May give to mortals; for these wars shall raise
Our parted Caesars to the gods; and Rome
Shall deck their effigies with thunderbolts,
And stars and rays, and in the very fanes
Swear by the shades of men.
With swift advance
They seize the space that yet delays the fates
Till short the span dividing. Then they gaze
For one short moment where may fall the spear,
What hand may deal their death, what monstrous task
Soon shall be theirs; and all in arms they see,
In reach of stroke, their brothers and their sires
With front opposing; yet to yield their ground
It pleased them not. But all the host was dumb
With horror; cold upon each loving heart,
Awe-struck, the life-blood pressed; and all men held
With arms outstretched their javelins for a time,
Poised yet unthrown. Now may th' avenging gods
Allot thee, Crastinus, not such a death
As all men else do suffer! In the tomb
May'st thou have feeling and remembrance still!
For thine the hand that first flung forth the dart,
Which stained with Roman blood Thessalia's earth.
Madman! To speed thy lance when Caesar's self
Still held his hand! Then from the clarions broke
The strident summons, and the trumpets blared
Responsive signal. Upward to the vault
The sound re-echoes where nor clouds may reach
Nor thunder penetrate; and Haemus' slopes
Reverberate to Pelion the din;
Pindus re-echoes; Oeta's lofty rocks
Groan, and Pangaean cliffs, till at their rage
Borne back from all the earth they shook for fear.
Unnumbered darts they hurl, with prayers diverse;
Some hope to wound: others, in secret, yearn
For hands still innocent. Chance rules supreme,
And wayward Fortune upon whom she wills
Makes fall the guilt. Yet for the hatred bred
By civil war suffices spear nor lance,
Urged on their flight afar: the hand must grip
The sword and drive it to the foeman's heart.
But while Pompeius' ranks, shield wedged to shield,
Were ranged in dense array, and scarce had space
To draw the blade, came rushing at the charge
Full on the central column Caesar's host,
Mad for the battle. Man nor arms could stay
The crash of onset, and the furious sword
Clove through the stubborn panoply to the flesh,
There only stayed. One army struck -- their foes
Struck not in answer; Magnus' swords were cold,
But Caesar's reeked with slaughter and with guilt.
Nor Fortune lingered, but decreed the doom
Which swept the ruins of a world away.
Soon as withdrawn from all the spacious plain,
Pompeius' horse was ranged upon the flanks;
Passed through the outer files, the lighter armed
Of all the nations joined the central strife,
With divers weapons armed, but all for blood
Of Rome athirst: then blazing torches flew,
Arrows and stones. and ponderous balls of lead
Molten by speed of passage through the air.
There Ituraean archers and the Mede
Winged forth their countless shafts till all the sky
Grew dark with missiles hurled; and from the night
Brooding above, Death struck his victims down,
Guiltless such blow, while all the crime was heaped
Upon the Roman spear. In line oblique
Behind the standards Caesar in reserve
Had placed some companies of foot, in fear
The foremost ranks might waver. These at his word,
No trumpet sounding, break upon the ranks
Of Magnus' horsemen where they rode at large
Flanking the battle. They, unshamed of fear
And careless of the fray, when first a steed
Pierced through by javelin spurned with sounding hoof
The temples of his rider, turned the rein,
And through their comrades spurring from the field
In panic, proved that not with warring Rome
Barbarians may grapple. Then arose
Immeasurable carnage: here the sword,
There stood the victim, and the victor's arm
Wearied of slaughter. Oh, that to thy plains,
Pharsalia, might suffice the crimson stream
From hosts barbarian, nor other blood
Pollute thy fountains' sources! these alone
Shall clothe thy pastures with the bones of men!
Or if thy fields must run with Roman blood
Then spare the nations who in times to come
Must be her peoples!
Now the terror spread
Through all the army, and the favouring fates
Decreed for Caesar's triumph: and the war
Ceased in the wider plain, though still ablaze
Where stood the chosen of Pompeius' force,
Upholding yet the fight. Not here allies
Begged from some distant king to wield the sword:
Here were the Roman sons, the sires of Rome,
Here the last frenzy and the last despair:
Here, Caesar, was thy crime: and here shall stay
My Muse repelled: no poesy of mine
Shall tell the horrors of the final strife,
Nor for the coming ages paint the deeds
Which civil war permits. Be all obscured
In deepest darkness! Spare the useless tear
And vain lament, and let the deeds that fell
In that last fight of Rome remain unsung.
But Caesar adding fury to the breasts
Already flaming with the rage of war,
That each might bear his portion of the guilt
Which stained the host, unflinching through the ranks
Passed at his will. He looked upon the brands,
These reddened only at the point, and those
Streaming with blood and gory, to the hilt:
He marks the hand which trembling grasped the sword,
Or held it idle, and the cheek that grew
Pale at the blow, and that which at his words
Glowed with the joy of battle: midst the dead
He treads the plain and on each gaping wound
Presses his hand to keep the life within.
Thus Caesar passed: and where his footsteps fell
As when Bellona shakes her crimson lash,
Or Mavors scourges on the Thracian mares
When shunning the dread face on Pallas' shield,
He drives his chariot, there arose a night
Dark with huge slaughter and with crime, and groans
As of a voice immense, and sound of alms
As fell the wearer, and of sword on sword
Crashed into fragments. With a ready hand
Caesar supplies the weapon and bids strike
Full at the visage; and with lance reversed
Urges the flagging ranks and stirs the fight.
Where flows the nation's blood, where beats the heart,
Knowing, he bids them spare the common herd,
But seek the senators -- thus Rome he strikes,
Thus the last hold of Freedom. In the fray,
Then fell the nobles with their mighty names
Of ancient prowess; there Metellus' sons,
Corvini, Lepidi, Torquati too,
Not once nor twice the conquerors of kings,
First of all men, Pompeius' name except,
Lay dead upon the field.
But, Brutus, where,
Where was thy sword? 'Veiled by a common helm
Unknown thou wanderest. Thy country's pride,
Hope of the Senate, thou (for none besides);
Thou latest scion of that race of pride,
Whose fearless deeds the centuries record,
Tempt not the battle, nor provoke the doom!
Awaits thee on Philippi's fated field
Thy Thessaly. Not here shalt thou prevail
'Gainst Caesar's life. Not yet hath he surpassed
The height of power and deserved a death
Noble at Brutus' hands -- then let him live,
Thy fated victim!
There upon the field
Lay all the honour of Rome; no common stream
Mixed with the purple tide. And yet of all
Who noble fell, one only now I sing,
Thee, brave Domitius. Whene'er the day
Was adverse to the fortunes of thy chief
Thine was the arm which vainly stayed the fight.
Vanquished so oft by Caesar, now 'twas thine
Yet free to perish. By a thousand wounds
Came welcome death, nor had thy conqueror power
Again to pardon. Caesar stood and saw
The dark blood welling forth and death at hand,
And thus in words of scorn: 'And dost thou lie,
Domitius, there? And did Pompeius name
Thee his successor, thee? Why leavest thou then
His standards helpless?' But the parting life
Still faintly throbbed within Domitius' breast,
Thus finding utterance: 'Yet thou hast not won
Thy hateful prize, for doubtful are the fates;
Nor thou the master, Caesar; free as yet,
With great Pompeius for my leader still,
Warring no more, I seek the silent shades,
Yet with this hope in death, that thou subdued
To Magnus and to me in grievous guise
May'st pay atonement.' So he spake: no more;
Then closed his eyes in death.
'Twere shame to shed,
When thus a world was perishing, the tear
Meet for each fate, or sing the wound that reft
Each life away. Through forehead and through throat
The pitiless weapon clove its deadly path,
Or forced the entrails forth: one fell to earth
Prone at the stroke; one stood though shorn of limb;
Glanced from this breast unharmed the quivering spear;
That it transfixed to earth. Here from the veins
Spouted the life-blood, till the foeman's arms
Were crimsoned. One his brother slew, nor dared
To spoil the corse, till severed from the neck
He flung the head afar. Another dashed
Full in his father's teeth the fatal sword,
By murderous frenzy striving to disprove
His kinship with the slain. Yet for each death
We find no separate dirge, nor weep for men
When peoples fell. Thus, Rome, thy doom was wrought
At dread Pharsalus. Not, as in other fields,
By soldiers slain, or captains; here were swept
Whole nations to the death; Assyria here,
Achaia, Pontus; and the blood of Rome
Gushing in torrents forth, forbade the rest
To stagnate on the plain. Nor life was reft,
Nor safety only then; but reeled the world
And all her manifold peoples at the blow
In that day's battle dealt; nor only then
Felt, but in all the times that were to come.
Those swords gave servitude to every age
That shall be slavish; by our sires was shaped
For us our destiny, the despot yoke.
Yet have we trembled not, nor feared to bare
Our throats to slaughter, nor to face the foe:
We bear the penalty for others' shame.
Such be our doom; yet, Fortune, sharing not
In that last battle, 'twas our right to strike
One blow for freedom ere we served our lord.
Now saw Pompeius, grieving, that the gods
Had left his side, and knew the fates of Rome
Passed from his governance; yet all the blood
That filled the field scarce brought him to confess
His fortunes fled. A little hill he sought
Whence to descry the battle raging still
Upon the plain, which when he nearer stood
The warring ranks concealed. Thence did the chief
Gaze on unnumbered swords that flashed in air
And sought his ruin; and the tide of blood
In which his host had perished. Yet not as those
Who, prostrate fallen, would drag nations down
To share their evil fate, Pompeius did.
Still were the gods thought worthy of his prayers
To give him solace, in that after him
Might live his Romans. 'Spare, ye gods,' he said,
'Nor lay whole peoples low; my fall attained,
The world and Rome may stand. And if ye need
More bloodshed, here on me, my wife, and sons
Wreak out your vengeance -- pledges to the fates
Such have we given. Too little for the war
Is our destruction? Doth the carnage fail,
The world escaping? Magnus' fortunes lost,
Why doom all else beside him?' Thus he cried,
And passed amid his standards, and recalled
His vanquished host that rushed on fate declared.
Not for his sake such carnage should be wrought.
So thought Pompeius; nor the foeman's sword
He feared, nor death; but lest upon his fall
To quit their chief his soldiers might refuse,
And o'er his prostrate corpse a world in arms
Might find its ruin: or perchance he wished
From Caesar's eager eyes to veil his death.
In vain, unhappy! for the fates decree
He shall behold, shorn from the bleeding trunk,
Again thy visage. And thou, too, his spouse,
Beloved Cornelia, didst cause his flight;
Thy longed-for features; yet he shall not die
When thou art present.
Then upon his steed,
Though fearing not the weapons at his back,
Pompeius fled, his mighty soul prepared
To meet his destinies. No groan nor tear,
But solemn grief as for the fates of Rome,
Was in his visage, and with mien unchanged
He saw Pharsalia's woes, above the frowns
Or smiles of Fortune; in triumphant days
And in his fall, her master. The burden laid
Of thine impending fate, thou partest free
To muse upon the happy days of yore.
Hope now has fled; but in the fleeting past
How wast thou great! Seek thou the wars no more,
And call the gods to witness that for thee
Henceforth dies no man. In the fights to come
On Afric's mournful shore, by Pharos' stream
And fateful Munda; in the final scene
Of dire Pharsalia's battle, not thy name
Doth stir the war and urge the foeman's arm,
But those great rivals biding with us yet,
Caesar and Liberty; and not for thee
But for itself the dying Senate fought,
When thou had'st fled the combat.
Find'st thou not
Some solace thus in parting from the fight
Nor seeing all the horrors of its close?
Look back upon the dead that load the plain,
The rivers turbid with a crimson stream;
Then pity thou thy victor. How shall he
Enter the city, who on such a field
Finds happiness? Trust thou in Fortune yet,
Her favourite ever; and whate'er, alone
In lands unknown, an exile, be thy lot,
Whate'er thy sufferings 'neath the Pharian king,
'Twere worse to conquer. Then forbid the tear,
Cease, sounds of woe, and lamentation cease,
And let the world adore thee in defeat,
As in thy triumphs. With unfaltering gaze,
Look on the suppliant kings, thy subjects still;
Search out the realms and cities which they hold,
Thy gift, Pompeius; and a fitting place
Choose for thy death.
First witness of thy fall,
And of thy noble bearing in defeat,
Larissa. Weeping, yet with gifts of price
Fit for a victor, from her teeming gates
Poured forth her citizens, their homes and fanes
Flung open; wishing it had been their lot
With thee to share disaster. Of thy name
Still much survives, unto thy former self
Alone inferior, still could'st thou to arms
All nations call and challenge fate again.
But thus he spake: 'To cities nor to men
Avails the conquered aught; then pledge your faith
To him who has the victory.' Caesar trod
Pharsalia's slaughter, while his daughter's spouse
Thus gave him kingdoms; but Pompeius fled
'Mid sobs and groans and blaming of the gods
For this their fierce commandment; and he fled
Full of the fruits and knowledge of the love
The peoples bore him, which he knew not his
In times of happiness.
When Italian blood
Flowed deep enough upon the fatal field,
Caesar bade halt, and gave their lives to those
Whose death had been no gain. But that their camp
Might not recall the foe, nor calm of night
Banish their fears, he bids his cohorts dash,
While Fortune glowed and terror filled the plain,
Straight on the ramparts of the conquered foe.
Light was the task to urge them to the spoil;
'Soldiers,' he said, 'the victory is ours,
Full and triumphant: there doth lie the prize
Which you have won, not Caesar; at your feet
Behold the booty of the hostile camp.
Snatched from Hesperian nations ruddy gold,
And all the riches of the Orient world,
Are piled within the tents. The wealth of kings
And of Pompeius here awaits its lords.
Haste, soldiers, and outstrip the flying foe;
E'en now the vanquished of Pharsalia's field
Anticipate your spoils.' No more he said,
But drave them, blind with frenzy for the gold,
To spurn the bodies of their fallen sires,
And trample chiefs in dashing on their prey.
What rampart had restrained them as they rushed
To seize the prize for wickedness and war
And learn the price of guilt? And though they found
In ponderous masses heaped for need of war
The trophies of a world, yet were their minds
Unsatisfied, that asked for all. Whate'er
Iberian mines or Tagus bring to day,
Or Arimaspians from golden sands
May gather, had they seized; still had they thought
Their guilt too cheaply sold. When pledged to them
Was the Tarpeian rock, for victory won,
And all the spoils of Rome, by Caesar's word,
Shall camps suffice them?
Then plebeian limbs
On senators' turf took rest, on kingly couch
The meanest soldier; and the murderer lay
Where yesternight his brother or his sire.
In raving dreams within their waking brains
Yet raged the battle, and the guilty hand
Still wrought its deeds of blood, and restless sought
The absent sword-hilt. Thou had'st said that groans
Issued from all the plain, that parted souls
Had breathed a life into the guilty soil,
That earthly darkness teemed with gibbering ghosts
And Stygian terrors. Victory foully won
Thus claimed its punishment. The slumbering sense
Already heard the hiss of vengeful flames
As from the depths of Acheron. One saw
Deep in the trances of the night his sire
And one his brother slain. But all the dead
In long array were visioned to the eyes
Of Caesar dreaming. Not in other guise
Orestes saw the Furies ere he fled
To purge his sin within the Scythian bounds;
Nor in more fierce convulsions raged the soul
Of Pentheus raving; nor Agave's mind
When she had known her son. Before his gaze
Flashed all the javelins which Pharsalia saw,
Or that avenging day when drew their blades
The Roman senators; and on his couch,
Infernal monsters from the depths of hell
Scourged him in slumber. Thus his guilty mind
Brought retribution. Ere his rival died
The terrors that enfold the Stygian stream
And black Avernus, and the ghostly slain
Broke on his sleep.
Yet when the golden sun
Unveiled the butchery of Pharsalia's field
He shrank not from its horror, nor withdrew
His feasting gaze. There rolled the streams in flood
With crimson carnage; there a seething heap
Rose shrouding all the plain, now in decay
Slow settling down; there numbered he the host
Of Magnus slain; and for the morn's repast
That spot he chose whence he might watch the dead,
And feast his eyes upon Emathia's field
Concealed by corpses; of the bloody sight
Insatiate, he forbad the funeral pyre,
And cast Emathia in the face of heaven.
Nor by the Punic victor was he taught,
Who at the close of Cannae's fatal fight
Laid in the earth the Roman consul dead,
To find fit burial for his fallen foes;
For these were all his countrymen, nor yet
His ire by blood appeased. Yet ask we not
For separate pyres or sepulchres apart
Wherein to lay the ashes of the fallen:
Burn in one holocaust the nations slain;
Or should it please thy soul to torture more
Thy kinsman, pile on high from Oeta's slopes
And Pindus' top the woods: thus shall he see
While fugitive on the deep the blaze that marks
Thessalia. Yet by this idle rage
Nought dost thou profit; for these corporal frames
Bearing innate from birth the certain germs
Of dissolution, whether by decay
Or fire consumed, shall fall into the lap
Of all-embracing nature. Thus if now
Thou should'st deny the pyre, still in that flame
When all shall crumble, earth and rolling seas
And stars commingled with the bones of men,
These too shall perish. Where thy soul shall go
These shall companion thee; no higher flight
In airy realms is thine, nor smoother couch
Beneath the Stygian darkness; for the dead
No fortune favours, and our Mother Earth
All that is born from her receives again,
And he whose bones no tomb or urn protects
Yet sleeps beneath the canopy of heaven.
And thou, proud conqueror, who would'st deny
The rites of burial to thousands slain,
Why flee thy field of triumph? Why desert
This reeking plain? Drink, Caesar, of the streams,
Drink if thou can'st, and should it be thy wish
Breathe the Thessalian air; but from thy grasp
The earth is ravished, and th' unburied host,
Routing their victor, hold Pharsalia's field.
Then to the ghastly harvest of the war
Came all the beasts of earth whose facile sense
Of odour tracks the bodies of the slain.
Sped from his northern home the Thracian wolf;
Bears left their dens and lions from afar
Scenting the carnage; dogs obscene and foul
Their homes deserted: all the air was full
Of gathering fowl, who in their flight had long
Pursued the armies. Cranes who yearly change
The frosts of Thracia for the banks of Nile,
This year delayed their voyage. As ne'er before
The air grew dark with vultures' hovering wings,
Innumerable, for every grove and wood
Sent forth its denizens; on every tree
Dripped from their crimsoned beaks a gory dew.
Oft on the conquerors and their impious arms
Or purple rain of blood, or mouldering flesh
Fell from the lofty heaven; or limbs of men
From weary talons dropped. Yet even so
The peoples passed not all into the maw
Of ravening beast or fowl; the inmost flesh
Scarce did they touch, nor limbs -- thus lay the dead
Scorned by the spoiler; and the Roman host
By sun and length of days, and rain from heaven,
At length was mingled with Emathia's plain.
Ill-starred Thessalia! By what hateful crime
Didst thou offend that thus on thee alone
Was laid such carnage? By what length of years
Shalt thou be cleansed from the curse of war?
When shall the harvest of thy fields arise
Free from their purple stain? And when the share
Cease to upturn the slaughtered hosts of Rome?
First shall the battle onset sound again,
Again shall flow upon thy fated earth
A crimson torrent. Thus may be o'erthrown
Our sires' memorials; those erected last,
Or those which pierced by ancient roots have spread
Through broken stones their sacred urns abroad.
Thus shall the ploughman of Haemonia gaze
On more abundant ashes, and the rake
Pass o'er more frequent bones. Wert, Thracia, thou.
Our only battlefield, no sailor's hand
Upon thy shore should make his cable fast;
No spade should turn, the husbandman should flee
Thy fields, the resting-place of Roman dead;
No lowing kine should graze, nor shepherd dare
To leave his fleecy charge to browse at will
On fields made fertile by our mouldering dust;
All bare and unexplored thy soil should lie,
As past man's footsteps, parched by cruel suns,
Or palled by snows unmelting! But, ye gods,
Give us to hate the lands which bear the guilt;
Let not all earth be cursed, though not all
Be blameless found.
'Twas thus that Munda's fight
And blood of Mutina, and Leucas' cape,
And sad Pachynus, made Philippi pure.
Orlando Furioso Canto 18
Gryphon is venged. Sir Mandricardo goes
In search of Argier's king. Charles wins the fight.
Marphisa Norandino's men o'erthrows.
Due pains Martano's cowardice requite.
A favouring wind Marphisa's gallery blows,
For France with Gryphon bound and many a knight.
The field Medoro and Cloridano tread,
And find their monarch Dardinello dead.
High minded lord! your actions evermore
I have with reason lauded, and still laud;
Though I with style inapt, and rustic lore,
You of large portion of your praise defraud:
But, of your many virtues, one before
All others I with heart and tongue applaud,
- That, if each man a gracious audience finds,
No easy faith your equal judgment blinds.
Often, to shield the absent one from blame,
I hear you this, or other, thing adduce;
Or him you let, at least, an audience claim,
Where still one ear is open to excuse:
And before dooming men to scaith and shame,
To see and hear them ever is your use;
And ere you judge another, many a day,
And month, and year, your sentence to delay.
Had Norandine been with your care endued,
What he by Gryphon did, he had not done.
Profit and fame have from your rule accrued:
A stain more black than pitch he cast upon
His name: through him, his people were pursued
And put to death by Olivero's son;
Who at ten cuts or thrusts, in fury made,
Some thirty dead about the waggon laid.
Whither fear drives, in rout, the others all,
Some scattered here, some there, on every side,
Fill road and field; to gain the city-wall
Some strive, and smothered in the mighty tide,
One on another, in the gateway fall.
Gryphon, all thought of pity laid aside,
Threats not nor speaks, but whirls his sword about,
Well venging on the crowd their every flout.
Of those who to the portal foremost fleed,
The readiest of the crowd their feet to ply,
Part, more intent upon their proper need
Than their friends' peril, raise the draw-bridge high:
Part, weeping and with deathlike visage, speed,
Nor turn their eyes behind them as they fly:
While, through the ample city, outcry loud,
And noise, and tumult rises from the crowd.
Two nimble Gryphon seizes, mid the train,
When to their woe the bridge is raised; of one,
Upon the field the warrior strews the brain,
Which he bears out on a hard grinding stone;
Seized by the breast, the other of the twain
Over the city-wall by him is thrown,
Fear chills the townsmen's marrow, when they spy
The luckless wretch descending from the sky.
Many there were who feared in their alarms,
Lest o'er the wall Sir Gryphon would have vaulted;
Nor greater panic seized upon those swarms,
Than if the soldan had the town assaulted.
The sound of running up and down, of arms,
Of cry of Muezzins, on high exalted;
Of drums and trumpets, heaven, 'twould seem, rebounded,
And, that the world was by the noise confounded.
But I will to another time delay,
What chanced on this occasion, to recount.
'Tis meet I follow Charles upon his way,
Hurrying in search of furious Rodomont,
Who did the monarch's suffering people slay.
I said, with him, the danger to affront,
Went Namus, Oliver, the Danish peer,
Avino, Avolio, Otho and Berlinghier.
Eight lances' shock, that eight such warriors guide,
Which all at once against the king they rest,
Endured the stout and scaly serpent's hide,
In which the cruel Moor his limbs had drest.
As a barque rights itself, - the sheet untied,
Which held its sail, - by growing wind opprest;
So speedily Sir Rodomont arose,
Though a hill had been uprooted by the blows.
Rainier and Guido, Richard, Salomon,
Ivan, Ughetto, Turpin, and the twain -
Angiolin, Angelier - false Ganellon,
And Mark and Matthew from St. Michael's plain,
With the eight of whom I spake, all set upon
The foe, with Edward and Sir Arimane;
Who leading succours from the English shore,
Had lodged them in the town short time before.
Not so, well-keyed into the solid stone,
Groans upon Alpine height the castle good,
When by rude Boreas' rage or Eurus' strown,
Uptorn are ash and fir in mountain wood,
As groans Sir Rodomont, with pride o'erblown,
Inflamed with anger and with thirst of blood:
And, as the thunder and the lightning's fire
Fly coupled, such his vengeance and his ire.
He at his head took aim who stood most nigh;
Ughetto was the miserable wight,
Whom to the teeth he clove, and left to die;
Though of good temper was his helmet bright.
As well the others many strokes let fly
At him, himself; which all the warrior smite,
But harm (so hard the dragon's hide) no more,
Than needle can the solid anvil score.
All the defences, round, abandoned are,
The unpeopled city is abandoned all;
For, where the danger is the greater, there
The many give their aid, at Charles' call:
Through every street they hurry to the square,
Since flying nought avails, from work and wall.
Their bosoms so the monarch's presence warms,
That each again takes courage, each takes arms.
As when within the closely-fastened cage
Of an old lioness, well used to fight,
An untamed bull is prisoned, to engage
The savage monster, for the mob's delight;
The cubs, who see him cresting in his rage,
And round the den loud-bellowing, to the sight
Of the huge beast's enormous horns unused,
Cower at a distance, timid and confused;
But if the mother spring at him, and hang,
Fixing her cruel tusks into his ear,
Her whelps as well will blood their greedy fang,
And, bold in her defence, assail the steer:
One bites his paunch, and one his back: so sprang
That band upon the paynim cavalier.
From roof and window, and from place more nigh,
Poured in a ceaseless shower, the weapons fly.
Of cavaliers and footmen such the squeeze,
That hardly can the place the press contain:
They cluster there as thick as swarming bees,
Who thither from each passage troop amain.
So that, were they unarmed, and with more ease
Than stalks or turnips he could cleave the train,
Ill Rodomont in twenty days would clear
The gathering crowd, united far and near.
Unknowing how himself from thence to free,
The paynim by this game is angered sore,
Who little thins the gathering rabblery,
Staining the ground with thousands slain or more;
And all the while, in his extremity,
Finds that his breath comes thicker than before;
And sees he cannot pierce the hostile round,
Unless he thence escape while strong and sound.
The monarch rolls about his horrid eyes,
And sees that foes all outlets barricade;
But, at the cost of countless enemies,
A path shall quickly by his hand be made.
Where Fury calls him, lo! the felon hies,
And brandishes on high his trenchant blade,
To assail the newly entered British band,
Which Edward and Sir Ariman command.
He who has seen the fence, in well-thonged square,
(Against whose stakes the eddying crowd is born)
By wild bull broken, that has had to bear,
Through the long day, dogs, blows, and ceaseless scorn;
Who hunts the scattered people here and there,
And this, or that, now hoists upon his horn;
Let him as such, or fiercer yet, account,
When he breaks forth, the cruel Rodomont.
At one cross-blow fifteen or twenty foes
He hews, as many leaves without a bead,
At cross or downright-stroke; as if he rows
Trashes in vineyard or in willow-bed,
At last all smeared with blood the paynim goes,
Safe from the place, which he has heaped with dead;
And wheresoe'er he turns his steps, are left
Heads, arms, and other members, maimed and cleft.
He from the square retires in such a mode,
None can perceive that danger him appals;
But, during this, what were the safest road,
By which to sally, he to thought recals.
He comes at last to where the river flowed
Below the isle, and past without the walls.
In daring men at arms and mob increase,
Who press him sore, nor let him part in peace.
As the high-couraged beast, whom hunters start
In the wild Nomade or Massilian chace,
Who, even in flying, shows his noble heart,
And threatening seeks his lair with sluggish pace;
From that strange wood of sword, and spear, and dart,
Turns Rodomont, with action nothing base;
And still impeded by the galling foe,
Makes for the river with long steps and slow.
He turned upon the rabble-rout who bayed
Behind him, thrice or more, by anger driven,
And stained anew his falchion, by whose blade
More than a hundred deadly wounds were given.
But reason, finally, his fury stayed
Before the bloody carnage stank to heaven;
And he, with better counsel, from the side
Cast himself down into Seine's foaming tide.
Athwart the current swam, with arms and all,
As if by corks upborn, the cavalier.
Though thou Antaeus bred'st, and Hannibal,
O Africa! thou never bred'st his peer! -
When now across the stream, without the wall,
He turned, and saw the royal town appear,
- To have traversed all the city moved his ire,
Leaving it undestroyed by sword or fire;
And him so sorely anger stung and pride,
Thither he thought a second time to go;
And from his inmost bosom groaned and sighed,
Nor would depart until he laid it low.
But he saw one along the river-side
Approach, who made him rage and hate forego;
Strait shall you hear who 'twas, approached the king,
But first I have to say of other thing.
I have of haughty Discord now to say,
To whom the archangel Michael gave command,
To heat to enmity and fierce affray
The best of Agramant's besieging band.
She went that evening from the abbey gray,
Her task committing to another's hand;
- Left it to Fraud to feed, till her return,
The war, and make the fires she kindled burn;
And she believed, that she with greater power
Should go, did Pride with her as well repair;
And she (for all were guested in one bower)
In search of her had little way to fare.
Pride went with her; but, that in hall or tower,
A vicar too her charge might duly bear,
She for those days she absent thought to be,
For her lieutenant left Hypocrisy.
The implacable Discord went, and with the dame,
(Companion of the enterprise, was Pride)
Upon her road; and found that, by the same,
Was journeying to the paynim camp, beside,
Comfortless Jealousy, with whom there came
A little dwarf, attending as a guide;
Who erst had been sent forward with advice
To Sarza's king, by beauteous Doralice.
When she fell into Mandricardo's hand,
(I have before recounted when and where)
She had in secret given the dwarf command,
He to the king should with the tidings fare;
By whom she hoped not vainly would be scanned
The tale her messenger was charged to bear,
But wonderous deeds be done for her relief,
With sad and signal vengeance on the thief.
Jealousy had that little dwarf espied,
And kenned the reason of his mission too,
And joined him, journeying with him side by side,
Deeming that she therein a part might do.
Discord, with pleasure, Jealousy decried,
But with more joy, when she the occasion knew
Which thither brought the dame, who much (she wist)
Might in the task she had in hand assist.
Of means to embroil the Sarzan and the son
Of Agrican, she deems herself possest.
A certain mode to enrage these two is won;
And other means may work upon the rest.
She thither with the dwarfish page is gone,
Where the fierce Pagan in his clutch had prest
Proud Paris, and they reached the river strand,
Exactly as the felon swam to land.
As soon as the redoubted Rodomont
Knew in the dwarf the courier of his dame,
He all his rage extinguished, cleared his front,
And felt his courage brighten into flame.
All else he deems the courier may recount,
Save that a wight had wrought him scaith and shame,
And cries (encountering him with chearful brow)
'How fares our lady? wither sent art thou?'
'Nor mine nor thine that lady will I say,
Who is another's thrall,' the dwarf replied.
'We, on our road, encountered yesterday
A knight, who seized and bore away the bride.'
Jealousy, upon this, took up the play,
And, cold as asp, embraced the king: her guide
Pursued his tale, relating how the train,
Their mistress taken, by one man were slain.
Her flint and steel, fell Discord, as he said,
Took forth, and somewhile hammered on the stone.
Pride, underneath, the ready tinder spread,
And the quick fire was in a moment blown:
This on the paynim's soul so fiercely fed,
He could not find a resting place: 'mid groan
And sob he storms, with horrid face and eye,
Which threat the elements and ample sky.
As tiger rages, who in vain descends
Into her den, and finds herself alone,
And, circling all the cavern, comprehends,
At last, that her beloved young are gone;
To ire, to rage like hers his wrath extends:
Nor night the king regards, nor rock, nor stone,
Nor stream: - Nor length of way nor storm arrest
The speed with which he on the plunderer prest.
So raging, to the pigmy dwarf who bore
The news, exclaimed the king, 'Now hence away!'
Nor horse he waits, nor carriage, nor, before
Departing, deigns to his a word to say.
He hurries with such speed, that not with more
The lizard darts at noon across the way.
Horse had he none, but be he whose he might,
Would make his own the first which came in sight.
Discord at this, who read his secret thought,
Exclaimed, as she looked smilingly on Pride,
Through her he to a courser should be brought,
By which new cause of strife should be supplied;
And, that by him no other might be caught,
She from his path would keep all steeds beside;
And knew already where the prize to seek.
- But her I leave, again of Charles to speak.
When, on the Saracen's departure, spent,
About King Charles, was the consuming flame,
He ranged his troops anew: some warriors went
To strengthen feeble posts which succours claim;
The rest against the Saracens are sent,
To give the foe checkmate and end the game;
And from St. German's to Saint Victor's gates,
He pours the host, which on his signal waits.
He these at Saint Marcellus' gate, where lay,
Outstretched a large circumference of plain,
Bade one another wait, in one array,
To reunite against the paynim train.
Inflaming every one to smite and slay,
In guise, that for a record should remain,
He made the various troops fall in below
Their banners, and the battle-signal blow.
Agramant has remounted in his sell,
While this is doing in his foe's despite,
And with the stripling who loved Isabel,
Is waging perilous and fearful fight.
Lurcanio with Sobrino strives as well;
Rinaldo a troop encounters, whom the knight,
With Valour and with Fortune for his guide,
Charges, and breaks, and routs on every side.
While so the battle stands, king Charlemagne
Falls on the rear guard of the paynim foe,
Where bold Marsilius halts the flower of Spain,
And forms the host, his royal flag below.
On these king Charlemagne impels his train,
Who, foot with horse to flank, against them go.
While so the deafening drum and trumpet sounds,
'Twould seem the spacious world the din rebounds.
The Saracenic squadrons had begun
To bend, and all the army of the Moor
Had turned, disordered, broken, and undone,
Never to be arrayed or rallied more,
But that Grandonio stood, and Falsiron,
Tried oftentimes in greater ill before,
With Serpentine and Balugantes proud,
And the renowned Ferrau, who cried aloud:
'O valiant men,' he - 'O companions,' cries,
'O brethren, stand, and yet your place maintain;
Like cobweb-threads our cruel enemies
Will find their works, if we our part sustain.
What this day Fortune offers to our eyes,
If now we conquer, see the praise, the gain! -
If conquered, see the utter loss and shame
Which will for ever wait upon your name!'
He in this time a mighty lance had spanned,
And spurred at once against Sir Berlinghier,
Who Argaliffa guided with his hand,
And broke his helmet's frontal with the spear,
Cast him on earth, and with the cruel brand
Unhorsed perhaps eight other warriors near.
His mighty strokes discharging, at each blow,
He ever laid at least one horseman low.
In other part, Rinaldo, in his mood,
Has slain more enemies than I can say,
Before the warlike knight no order stood;
You might have seen the ample camp give way.
No less Zerbino and Lurcanio good
Do deeds, which will be told in every day;
This, with a thrust, has bold Balastro slain,
That Finaduro's helm has cleft in twain.
The first was of the Alzerban army head,
Ruled by Tardocco some short time before;
The other one the valiant squadrons led
Of Saphi, and Morocco, and Zamor.
'Where, 'mid the paynims,' might to me be said,
'Is knight whose sword can cleave or lance can gore?'
But step by step I go, and as I wind
My way, leave none who merits praise behind.
Zumara's king is not forgotten here,
Dardinel, who Sir Dulphin of the mount,
Claude of the wood, and Hubert, with the spear,
(Of Mirford he) and Elio did dismount,
And, with the faulchion, Stamford's cavalier,
Sir Anselm, Raymond and Sir Pinnamont
From London-town; though valiant were the twain;
Two stunned, one wounded, the four others slain.
Yet will his squadron not so firmly stand,
Maugre the valour which his deeds display,
So firmly, as to wait the Christian band,
In number less, but steadier in array,
More used to joust and manage of the brand,
And all things appertaining to the gray.
Setta and Morocco turned, and, seized with dread,
Zumara and Canaries' islesmen fled.
But faster than the rest Alzerba flies,
Whom Dardinel opposed, and now with sore
Reproach, and now with prayer he moves, and tries
What best he deems their courage may restore.
'If good Almontes has deserved,' he cries,
'That you should by his memory set such store,
Now shall be seen - be seen, if you will me,
His son, abandon in such jeopardy.
'For sake of my green youth, I pray you stand,
That youth whereon your hopes were wont to feed,
And suffer not that, scattered by the brand,
To Africa be lost our noble seed.
Save you united go, be sure the land
Is shut against you, wheresoe'er you speed.
Too high a wall to climb is mountain-steep,
The yawning sea a ditch too wide to leap.
'Far better 'tis to perish than to be
Torn by these dogs, or lie at their control.
Since vain is every other remedy,
Wait, friends, for love of Heaven, the advancing shoal:
They are not gifted with more lives than we;
Have but one pair of hands, have but one soul.'
So saying, the bold youth, amid the crew
Of enemies, the Earl of Huntley slew.
Almontes' memory, through the Moorish bands,
Makes every bosom with such ardour glow,
They deem 'tis better to use arms and hands
In fight, than turn their backs upon the foe.
Taller than all William of Burnwich stands,
An Englishman, whom Dardinel brings low,
And equals with the rest; then smites upon,
And cleaves, the head of Cornish Aramon.
Down fell this Aramon, and to afford
Him succour, thitherward his brother made;
But from the shoulder him Zumara's lord
Cleft to the fork, with his descending blade;
Next Bogio de Vergalla's belly gored,
And from his debt absolved (the forfeit paid)
Who to return within six months, if life
Were granted him, had promised to his wife.
Lurcanio next met Dardinello's eye;
He upon earth Dorchino had laid low,
Pierced through the throat, and hapless Gardo nigh
Cleft to the teeth; at him, as all too slow,
He from Altheus vainly seeks to fly,
Whom as his heart Lurcanio loves, a blow
Upon his head behind the Scotchman speeds;
And. slaughtered by the stroke, the warrior bleeds.
Dardinel, to avenge him, took a spear,
And, should he lay the fierce Lurcanio dead,
Vowed to his Mahomet, if he could hear,
The mosque should have his empty arms; this said,
Ranging the field in haste, that cavalier
He in the flank, with thrust so full and dread,
Encountered, that it went through either side:
And he to his to strip the baron cried.
From me it sure were needless to demand,
If Ariodantes, when his brother fell,
Was grieved; if he with his avenging hand
Among the damned would send Sir Dardinell;
But all access the circling troops withstand
And bar, no less baptized than infidel:
Yet would he venge himself, and with his blade,
Now here, now there, an open passage made.
He charges, chases, breaks, and overthrows
Whoever cross him on the crowded plain;
And Dardinello, who his object knows,
Would fain the wish content; but him the train
Impedes as well, which round about him flows,
And renders aye his every purpose vain.
If one on all sides thins the Moorish rank,
The other slays Scot, Englishman, and Frank.
Fortune still blocked their path throughout the day,
So that they met not, 'mid that chivalry,
And kept one as a mightier champion's prey;
For rarely man escapes his destiny.
Behold the good Rinaldo turns that way!
That, for this one no refuge there might be.
Lo! good Rinaldo comes: him Fortune guides,
And for his sword King Dardinel provides.
But here enough for this one while is shown
Of their illustrious doings in the west;
'Tis time I seek Sir Gryphon, and make known
How he, with fury burning in his breast,
That rabble-rout had broke and overthrown,
Struck with more fear than ever men possest.
Thither speeds Norandine on that alarm,
And for his guard above a thousand arm.
King Norandine, girt with peer and knight,
Seeing on every side the people fly,
Rides to the gates, with squadron duly dight,
And at his hest the portals open fly.
Meanwhile Sir Gryphon, having put to flight
The weak and worthless rabble far and nigh,
The scorned arms (to keep him from that train),
Such as they were, took up and donned again.
And nigh a temple strongly walled, and round
Whose base a moat for its protection goes,
Upon a little bridge takes up his ground,
That him his enemies may not enclose.
Lo! loudly shouting, and with threatening sound,
A mighty squadron through the gateway flows.
The valiant Gryphon changes not his place,
And shows how small his fear by act and face.
But when, approaching near, he saw the band,
He sallied forth to meet them by the way;
And wielding still his sword in either hand,
Made cruel havoc in the close array.
Then on the narrow bridge resumed his stand,
Nor there his hunters only held at bay:
Anew he sallied, and returned anew,
Aye leaving bloody signs when he withdrew.
Fore-stroke and back he deals, and on the ground
Horsemen and foot o'erthrows on every side:
This while the ample mob the knight surround,
And more and more the warfare rages wide.
At length Sir Gryphon fears he shall be drowned,
(So waxed their numbers) in the increasing tide;
And hurt in the left shoulder, through his mail,
And thigh, his wind as well begins to fail.
But Valour, who so oft befriends her own,
Makes him find grace in Norandino's eyes;
Who, while alarmed, he hurries there, o'erthrown
So many men, such heaps of dead espies,
While he views wounds, which Hector's hand alone
He weens could deal, - to him all testifies
That he had put an undeserved shame
Upon a cavalier of mighty name.
Next seeing him more near, whose falchion's sweep
Had dealt such deaths amid his chivalry,
And raised about himself that horrid heap,
And stained the water with that bloody dye,
He thought that he beheld Horatius keep,
Singly, the bridge against all Tuscany;
And vext, and anxious to remove the stain,
Recalled his men, and that with little pain.
And, lifting his bare hand, in sign affied,
From ancient times, of treaty and of truce,
Repenting him, he to Sir Gryphon cried,
'It grieves me sorely, and I cannot choose
But own my sin: let counsels which misguide,
And my own little wit, such fault excuse.
What by the vilest knight I thought to do,
I to the best on earth have done in you.
'And though the bitter injuries and shame
That have to thee through ignorance been done,
Are equalled, and all cancelled by thy fame,
And merged, in truth, in glory thou hast won;
Whatever satisfaction thou canst claim,
Within my power or knowledge, count upon,
When I know how atonement may be made,
By city, castle, or by money paid.
'Demand of me this kingdom's moiety,
And from this day thou its possessor art,
Since not alone thy worth deserves this fee,
But merits, I with this should give my heart;
Then, pledge of faith and lasting love, to me,
In the meanwhile, thy friendly hand impart.'
So saying, from his horse the king descended,
And towards Gryphon his right-hand extended.
When he beheld the monarch's altered cheer,
Who bent to clasp his neck, towards him paced,
His sword and rancour laid aside, the peer
Him humbly underneath the hips embraced.
King Norandine, who saw the sanguine smear
Of his two wounds, bade seek a leech in haste;
And bade them softly with the knight resort
Towards the town, and lodge him in his court.
Here, wounded, he remained some days before
He could bear arms: but him, in the design
Of seeking out Sir Aquilant once more,
And good Astolpho, left in Palestine,
I quit; they vainly did his path explore,
After Sir Gryphon left the holy shrine,
Through Solyma in every place of note,
And many, from the Holy Land remote.
One and the other are alike to seek
In the inquiry where the knight may use;
But they encounter with the pilgrim-Greek,
Who of false Origilla gives them news;
Relating, as of her he haps to speak,
That towards Antioch she her way pursues,
By a new leman of that city charmed,
Who her with fierce and sudden flame had warmed.
Aquilant asked him, if he had possest
Sir Gryphon of the news to them conveyed,
Who, hearing that he had, surmised the rest, -
Where he was gone, and by what motive swayed:
He followed Origille, was manifest,
And had in quest of her for Antioch made,
To take her from his rival, and with view
On him some memorable scathe to do.
Aquilant brooked not Gryphon such a feat,
Without him, and alone, should thus assay,
And took his armour and pursued his beat;
But first besought the duke he would delay
To visit France and his paternal seat,
Till he from Antioch measured back his way.
At Joppa he embarks, who deems by sea
The better and securer way to be.
From the south-east up-sprung so strong a breeze,
And which for Gryphon's galley blew so right,
That the third day he Tyre's famed city sees,
And lesser Joppa quick succeeds to sight.
By Zibellotto and Baruti flees,
(Cyprus to larboard left) the galley light;
From Tripoli to Tortosa shapes her way,
And so to Lizza and Lajazzo's bay.
From thence, towards the east the pilot veered
Her ready tiller, prompt his course to scan;
And straightway for the wide Orontes steered,
And watched his time, and for the harbour ran.
Aquilant, when his bark the margin neared,
Bade lower the bridge, and issued, horse and man,
It armour, and along the river wended,
Up-stream, till he his way at Antioch ended.
To inform himself of that Martano bent;
And heard that he to Antioch was addrest,
With Origilla, where a tournament
Was to be solemnized by royal hest.
To track whom Aquilant was so intent,
Assured that Gryphon had pursued his quest,
He Antioch left again that very day,
But not by sea again would take his way.
He towards Lidia and Larissa goes,
- At rich Aleppo makes a longer stay.
God, to make plain that he, even here, bestows
On evil and on good their fitting pay,
At a league's distance from Mamuga, throws
Martano in the avenging brother's way,
Martano travelling with the tourney's prize,
Displayed before his horse in showy wise.
Sir Aquilant believed, at the first show,
His brother he in vile Martano spied.
For arms and vest, more white than virgin snow,
The coward in the warrior's sight belied,
And sprang towards him, with that joyful 'Oh!'
By which delight is ever signified;
But changed his look and tone, when, nearer brought
He sees that he is not the wight he sought:
And through that evil woman's treachery,
Deemed Gryphon murdered by the cavalier;
And, 'Tell me,' he exclaimed, 'thou, who must be
Traitor and thief - both written in thy cheer -
Whence are these arms? and wherefore do I thee
View on the courser of my brother dear?
Say is my brother slaughtered or alive?
How didst thou him of horse and arms deprive?'
When Origille hears him, in affright
She turns her palfrey, and for flight prepares:
But Aquilant, more quick, in her despite,
Arrests the traitress, ere she further fares.
At the loud threats of that all furious knight,
By whom he so was taken unawares,
Martan' turns pale and trembles like a leaf,
Nor how to act or answer knows the thief.
Aquilant thundered still, and, to his dread,
A falchion, pointed at his gullet, shewed,
And swore with angry menaces, the head
From him and Origille should be hewed,
Save in all points the very truth be said.
Awhile on this ill-starred Martano chewed,
Revolving still what pretext he might try
To lessen his grave fault, then made reply:
'Know, sir, you see my sister in this dame,
And one of good and virtuous parents born,
Though she has lately led a life of shame,
And been by Gryphon foully brought to scorn;
And, for I loathed such blot upon our name,
Yet weened that she could ill by force be torn
From such a puissant wight, I laid a scheme
Her by address and cunning to redeem.
'With her I planned the means, who in her breast
Nursed the desire a better life to prove,
That she, when Gryphon was retired to rest,
In silence from the warrior should remove.
This done: lest he should follow on our quest,
And so undo the web we vainly wove,
Him we deprived of horse and arm, and we
Are hither come together, as you see.'
His cunning might have proved of good avail,
For Aquilant believed him easily;
And, save in taking Gryphon's horse and mail,
He to the knight had done no injury;
But that he wrought so high the specious tale,
As manifested plainly, 'twas a lie.
In all 'twas perfect, save that he the dame
Had for his sister vouched with whom he came.
Aquilant had in Antioch chanced to know
She was his concubine, - well certified
Of this by many, - and in furious glow
Exclaimed; 'Thou falsest robber, thou hast lied!'
And dealt, with that, the recreant such a blow,
He drove two grinders down his throat; then tied
(Not sought Martano with his foe to cope)
The caitiff's arms behind him with a rope.
And, though she for excuse tried many wiles,
Did thus as well by Origille untrue;
And till he reached Damascus' lofty piles,
Them by town, street, or farm, behind him drew:
And will a thousand times a thousand miles,
With sorrow and with suffering, drag the two,
Till he his brother find; who, at his pleasure,
May vengeance to the guilty couple measure.
Sir Aquilant made squires and beasts as well
Return with him, and to Damascus came;
And heard Renown, throughout the city, swell,
Plying her ample wings, Sir Gryphon's name.
Here, great and little - every one, could tell
'Twas he that in the tourney won such fame,
And had, by one that ill deserved his trust,
Been cheated of the honours of the just.
Pointing him out to one another's sight,
The hostile people all Martano bayed;
'And is not this (they cried) that ribald wight
Who in another's spoils himself arrayed,
And who the valour of a sleeping knight,
With his own shame and infamy o'erlaid?
And this the woman of ungrateful mood,
Who aids the wicked and betrays the good?'
Others exclaimed, 'How fittingly combined,
Marked with one stamp, and of one race are they!'
Some loudly cursed them, and some raved behind,
While others shouted, 'Hang, burn, quarter, slay!'
The throng to view them prest, with fury blind,
And to the square before them made its way.
The monarch of the tidings was advised,
And these above another kingdom prized.
Attended with few squires the Syrian king,
As then he chanced to be, came forth with speed,
And with Sir Aquilant encountering,
Who Gryphon had avenged with worthy deed,
Him honoured with fair cheer, and home would bring,
And in his palace lodged, as fitting meed;
Having the prisoned pair, with his consent,
First in the bottom of a turret pent.
Thither they go, where Gryphon from his bed
Has not as yet, since he was wounded, stirred;
Who at his brother's coming waxes red,
Surmising well he of his case has heard:
And after Aquilant his say had said,
And him somedeal reproached, the three conferred
As to what penance to the wicked two,
So fallen into their hands, was justly due.
'Tis Aquilant's, 'tis Norandino's will
A thousand tortures shall their guerdon be:
But Gryphon, who the dame alone can ill
Excuse, entreats for both impunity;
And many matters urges with much skill.
But well is answered: and 'tis ruled, to flea
Martano's body with the hangman's scourge,
And only short of death his penance urge.
Bound is the wretch, but not 'mid grass and flower,
Whose limbs beneath the hangman's lashes burn
All the next morn: they prison in the tower
Origille, till Lucina shall return;
To whom the counselling lords reserve the power
To speak the woman's sentence, mild or stern.
Harboured, till Gryphon can bear arms, at court,
Aquilant fleets the time in fair disport.
The valiant Norandino could not choose
(Made by such error temperate and wise),
But full of penitence and sorrow, muse,
With downcast spirit, and in mournful guise,
On having bid his men a knight misuse,
Whom all should worthily reward and prize;
So that he, night and morning, in his thought,
How to content the injured warrior sought.
And he determined, in the public sight
O' the city, guilty of that injury,
With all such honour as to perfect knight
Could by a puissant monarch rendered be,
Him with the glorious guerdon to requite,
Which had been ravished by such treachery:
And hence, within a month, proclaimed the intent
To hold another solemn tournament.
For which he made what stately preparation
Was possible to make by sceptered king.
Hence Fame divulged the royal proclamation
Throughout all Syria's land, with nimble wing,
Phoenicia and Palestine; till the relation
Of this in good Astolpho's ears did ring;
Who, with the lord who ruled that land in trust,
Resolved he would be present at the just.
For a renowned and valiant cavalier
Has the true history vaunted, Sansonnet,
By Roland christened, Charles (I said), the peer
Over the Holy Land as ruler set:
He with the duke takes up his load, to steer
Thither, where Rumour speaks the champions met.
So that his ears, on all sides in the journey,
Are filled with tidings of Damascus' tourney.
Thither the twain their way those countries through,
By easy stages and by slow, addrest,
That fresh upon the day of joust the two
Might in Damascus-town set up their rest.
When at the meeting of cross-ways they view
A person, who, in movement and in vest,
Appears to be a man, but is a maid;
And marvellously fierce, in martial raid.
Marphisa was the warlike virgin's name,
And such her worth, she oft with naked brand
Had pressed Orlando sore in martial game,
And him who had Mount Alban in command;
And ever, night and day, the armed dame
Scowered, here and there, by hill and plain, the land;
Hoping with errant cavalier to meet,
And win immortal fame by glorious feat.
When Sansonnetto and the English knight
She sees approaching her, in warlike weed,
Who seem two valiant warriors in her sight,
As of large bone, and nerved for doughty deed,
On them she fain would prove her martial might,
And to defy the pair has moved her steed.
When, eyeing the two warriors, now more near,
Marphisa recognized the duke and peer.
His pleasing ways she did in mind retrace,
When arms in far Catay with her he bore
Called him by name, nor would in iron case;
Retain her hand, upraised the casque she wore,
And him, advanced, to meet with glad embrace,
Though, of all living dames and those of yore,
The proudest, she; nor with less courteous mien
The paladin salutes the martial queen.
They questioned one another of their way;
And when the duke has said (who first replied)
That he Damascus seeks, where to assay
Their virtuous deeds, all knights of valour tried
The Syrian king invites, in martial play, -
The bold Marphisa, at his hearing cried,
(Ever to prove her warlike prowess bent)
'I will be with you at this tournament.'
To have such a comrade either cavalier
Is much rejoiced. They to Damascus go,
And in a suburb, of the city clear,
Are lodged, upon the day before the show;
And, till her aged lover, once so dear,
Aurora roused, their humble roof below,
In greater ease the weary warriors rested
Than had they been in costly palace guested.
And when the clear and lucid sun again
Its shining glories all abroad had spread,
The beauteous lady armed, and warriors twain,
Having first couriers to the city sped,
Who, when 'twas time, reported to the train,
That, to see truncheons split in contest dread,
King Norandine had come into the square
In which the cruel games appointed were.
Straight to the city ride the martial band,
And, through the high-street, to the crowded place;
Where, waiting for the royal signal, stand,
Ranged here and there, the knights of gentle race.
The guerdons destined to the conqueror's hand,
In that day's tourney, were a tuck and mace
Richly adorned, and, with them, such a steed
As to the winning lord were fitting meed.
Norandine, sure that, in the martial game,
Both prizes destined for the conquering knight,
As well as one and the other tourney's fame,
Must be obtained by Gryphon, named the white,
To give him all that valiant man could claim,
Nor could he give the warrior less, with right,
The armour, guerdon of this final course
Placed with the tuck and mace and noble horse.
The arms which in the former joust the due
Of valiant Gryphon were, who all had gained,
(With evil profit, by the wretch untrue,
Martan' usurped, who Gryphon's bearing feigned)
To be hung up on high in public view
With the rich-flourished tuck, the king ordained,
And fastened at the saddle of the steed
The mace, that Gryphon might win either meed.
But from effecting what he had intended
He was prevented by the warlike maid;
Who late into the crowded square had wended,
With Sansonnet and England's duke arrayed,
Seeing the arms of which I spoke suspended,
She straight agnized the harness she surveyed,
Once hers, and dear to her; as matters are
Esteemed by us as excellent and rare;
Though, as a hindrance, she upon the road
Had left the arms, when, to retrieve her sword,
She from her shoulders slipt the ponderous load,
And chased Brunello, worthy of the cord.
More to relate were labour ill bestowed,
I deem, nor further of the tale record.
Enough for me, by you 'tis understood,
How here she found anew her armour good.
You shall take with you, when by manifest
And certain tokens they by her were known,
She, for no earthly thing, the iron vest
And weapons for a day would have foregone.
She thinks not if this mode or that be best
To have them, anxious to regain her own;
But t'wards the arms with hand extended hies,
And without more regard takes down the prize.
And throwing some on earth, it chanced that more
Than was her own she in her hurry took.
The Syrian king, who was offended sore,
Raised war against her with a single look.
For ill the wrong his angered people bore,
And, to avenge him, lance and falchion shook;
Remembering not, on other day, how dear
They paid for scathing errant cavalier.
No wishful child more joyfully, 'mid all
The flowers of spring-tide, yellow, blue, and red,
Finds itself, nor at concert or at ball
Dame beauteous and adorned, than 'mid the tread
Of warlike steeds, and din of arms, and fall
Of darts, and push of spears. - where blood is shed,
And death is dealt, in the tumultuous throng, -
SHE finds herself beyond all credence strong.
She spurred her courser, and with lance in rest,
Imperious at the foolish rabble made,
And - through the neck impaled or through the breast, -
Some pierced, some prostrate at the encounter layed.
Next this or that she with the falchion prest;
The head from one she severed with the blade,
And from that other cleft: another sank,
Short of right arm or left, or pierced in flank.
Bold Sansonnetto and Astolpho near,
Who had, with her, their limbs in harness dight,
Though they for other end in arms appear,
Seeing the maid and crowd engaged in fight,
First lower the helmet's vizor, next the spear,
And with their lances charge the mob outright:
Then bare their falchions, and, amid the crew,
A passage with the trenchant weapons hew.
The errant cavaliers who to that stage,
To joust, from different lands had made resort,
Seeing them warfare with such fury wage,
And into mourning changed the expected sport,
Because all knew not what had moved the rage
Of the infuriate people in that sort,
Nor what the insult offered to the king,
Suspended stood in doubt and wondering.
Of these, some will the crowded rabble's band
(Too late repentant of the feat) befriend:
Those, favouring not the natives of the land
More than the foreigners, to part them wend.
Others more wary, with their reins in hand,
Sit watching how the mischief is to end.
Gryphon and Aquilant are of the throng
Which hurry forward to avenge the wrong.
The pair of warlike brethren witnessing
The monarch's drunken eyes with venom fraught,
And having heard from many in the ring
The occasion which the furious strife had wrought,
Himself no whit less injured than the king
Of Syria's land, offended Gryphon thought.
Each knight, in haste, supplied himself with spear,
And thundering vengeance drove in full career.
On Rabican, pricked forth before his hand,
Valiant Astolpho, from the other bound,
With the enchanted lance of gold in hand,
Which at the first encounter bore to ground
What knights he smote with it; and on the sand
Laid Gryphon first; next Aquilant he found,
And scarcely touched the border of his shield,
Ere he reversed the warrior on the field.
From lofty saddle Sansonnet o'erthrew,
Famous for price and prowess, many a knight.
To the outlet of the square the mob withdrew;
The monarch raged with anger and despite.
Meanwhile, of the first cuirass and the new
Possest, as well as either helmet bright,
Marphisa, when she all in flight discerned,
Conqueror towards her suburb-inn returned.
Sansonnet and Astolpho are not slow
In following t'wards the gate the martial maid,
(The mob dividing all to let them go)
And halt when they have reached the barricade.
Gryphon and Aquilant, who saw with woe
Themselves on earth at one encounter laid,
Their drooping heads, opprest with shame, decline,
Nor dare appear before King Norandine.
Seizing their steeds and mounting, either son
Of Oliver to seek their foemen went:
With many of his vassals too is gone
The king; on death or vengeance all intent.
The foolish rabble cry, 'Lay on, lay on.'
And stand at distance and await the event.
Gryphon arrived where the three friends had gained
A bridge, and facing round the post maintained.
He, at the first approach, Astolpho knew,
For still the same device had been his wear,
Even from the day he charmed Orrilo slew,
His horse, his arms the same: him not with care
Sir Gryphon had remarked, nor stedfast view,
When late he jousted with him in the square:
He knows him here and greets; next prays him show
Who the companions are that with him go;
And why they had those arms, without the fear
Of Syria's king, pulled down, and to his slight.
Of his champions England's cavalier,
Sir Gryphon courteously informed aright.
But little of those arms, pursued the peer,
He knew, which were the occasion of the fight;
But (for he thither with Marphisa came
And Sansonnet) had armed to aid the dame.
While he and Gryphon stood in colloquy,
Aquilant came, and knew Astolpho good,
Whom he heard speaking with his brother nigh,
And, though of evil purpose, changed his mood.
Of Norandine's trooped many, these to spy;
But came not nigh the warriors where they stood:
And seeing them in conference, stood clear,
Listening, in silence, and intent to hear.
Some one who hears Marphisa hold is there,
Famed, through the world, for matchless bravery,
His courser turns, and bids the king have care,
Save he would lose his Syrian chivalry,
To snatch his court, before all slaughtered are,
From the hand of Death and of Tisiphone:
For that 'twas verily Marphisa, who
Had borne away the arms in public view.
As Norandine is told that name of dread,
Through the Levant so feared on every side,
Whose mention made the hair on many a head
Bristle, though she was often distant wide.
He fears the ill may happen which is said,
Unless against the mischief he provide;
And hence his meiny, who have changed their ire
Already into fear, he bids retire.
The sons of Oliver, on the other hand,
With Sansonnetto and the English knight,
So supplicate Marphisa, she her brand
Puts up, and terminates the cruel fight;
And to the monarch next, amid his brand,
Cries, proudly, 'Sir, I know not by what right
Thou wouldst this armour, not thine own, present
To him who conquers in thy tournament.
'Mine are these arms, which I, upon a day,
Left on the road which leads from Armeny,
Because, parforce a-foot, I sought to stay
A robber, who had sore offended me.
The truth of this my ensign may display.
Which here is seen, if it be known to thee.'
With that she on the plate which sheathed the breast
(Cleft in three places) showed a crown imprest.
'To me this an Armenian merchant gave,
'Tis true,' replied the king, 'some days ago;
And had you raised your voice, the arms to crave,
You should have had them, whether yours or no.
For, notwithstanding I to Gryphon gave
The armour, I so well his nature know,
He freely would resign the gift he earned,
That it by me to you might be returned.
'Your allegation needs not to persuade
These arms are yours - that they your impress bear;
Your word suffices me, by me more weighed
Than all that other witness could declare.
To grant them yours is but a tribute paid
To Virtue, worthy better prize to wear.
Now have the arms, and let us make accord;
And let some fairer gift the knight reward.'
Gryphon, who little had those arms at heart,
But much to satisfy the king was bent,
Replied: 'You recompense enough impart,
Teaching me how your wishes to content.'
- 'Here is my honour all at sake,' apart,
'Meseemeth,' said Marphisa, and forewent
Her claim for Gryphon's sake, with courteous cheer;
And, as his gift, in fine received the gear.
To the city, their rejoicings to renew,
In love and peace they measured back their way.
Next came the joust, of which the honour due,
And prize was Sansonnet's; since from the fray
Abstained Astolpho and the brethren two,
And bold Marphisa, best of that array,
Like faithful friends and good companions; fain
That Sansonnet the tourney's meed should gain.
Eight days or ten in joy and triumph dwell
The knights with Norandine; but with such strong
Desire of France the warriors' bosoms swell,
Which will not let them thence be absent long,
They take their leave. Marphisa, who as well
Thither would go, departs the troop among.
Marphisa had long time, with sword and lance,
Desired to prove the paladins of France;
And make experiment, if they indeed
Such worth as is by Rumour voiced display.
Sansonnet leaves another, in his stead,
The city of Jerusalem to sway,
And now these five, in chosen squadron speed,
Who have few peers in prowess, on their way.
Dismist by Norandine, to Tripoli
They wend, and to the neighbouring haven hie.
And there a carack find, about to steer
For western countries, taking in her store:
They, with the patron, for themselves and gear,
And horses, make accord; a seaman hoar
Of Luna he: the heavens, on all sides clear,
Vouch many days' fair weather. From the shore
They loose, with sky serene, and every sail
Of the yare vessel stretched by favouring gale.
The island of the amorous deity
Breathed upon them an air, in her first port,
Which not alone to man does injury,
But moulders iron, and here life is short;
- A marsh the cause, - and Nature certainly
Wrongs Famagosta, poisoning, in such sort,
That city with Constantia's fen malign,
To all the rest of Cyprus so benign.
The noxious scents that from the marish spring,
After short sojourn there, compel their flight.
The barque to a south-easter every wing
Extends, and circles Cyprus to the right,
Makes Paphos' island next, and, anchoring,
The crew and warriors on the beach alight;
Those to ship merchandize, and these, at leisure,
To view the laughing land of Love and Pleasure.
Inland six miles or seven from thence, a way
Scales, with an easy rise, a pleasant hill;
Which myrtle, orange, cedar-tree, and bay,
And other perfumed plants by thousands fill;
Thyme, marjoram, crocus, rose, and lily gay
From odoriferous leaf such sweets distill,
That they who sail the sea the fragrance bland,
Scent in each genial gale which blows from land.
A fruitful rill, by limpid fountain fed,
Waters, all round about, the fertile space.
The land of Venus truly may be said
That passing joyous and delightful place:
For every maid and wife, who there is bred,
Is through the world beside, unmatched in grace:
And Venus wills, till their last hour be tolled,
That Love should warm their bosoms, young and old.
'Twas here they heard the same which they before
Of the orc and of Lucina, erst had heard
In Syria; how she to return once more
In Nicosia, to her lord prepared.
Thence (a fair wind now blowing from the shore)
His bark for sea the ready Patron cleared,
Hawled up his anchor, westward turned the head
Of the good ship, and all his canvas spread.
To the north wind, which blew upon their right,
Stretching to seaward, they their sails untie:
When lo! a south-south-wester, which seemed light,
In the beginning, while the sun was high,
And afterwards increased in force t'wards night,
Raised up the sea against them mountains high;
With such dread flashes, and loud peals of thunder,
As Heaven, to swallow all in fire, would sunder.
The clouds their gloomy veil above them strain,
Nor suffer sun or star to cheer the view.
Above the welkin roared, beneath the main;
On every side the wind and tempest grew;
Which, with sharp piercing cold and blinding rain,
Afflicted sore the miserable crew.
While aye descending night, with deeper shade,
The vext and fearful billows overlayed.
The sailors, in this war of wind and flood,
Were prompt to manifest their vaunted art.
One blowing through the shrilling whistle stood,
And with the signal taught the rest their part.
One clears the best bower anchor: one is good
To lower, this other to hawl home or start
The braces; one from deck the lumber cast,
And this secured the tiller, that the mast.
The cruel wind increased throughout the night,
Which grew more dismal and more dark than hell.
The wary Patron stood to sea outright,
Where he believed less broken was the swell;
And turned his prow to meet, with ready sleight,
The buffets of the dreadful waves which fell;
Never without some hope, that at day-break
The storm might lull, or else its fury slake.
It lulls not, nor its fury slakes, but grown
Wilder, shows worse by day, - if this be day,
Which but by reckoning of the hours is known,
And not by any cheering light or ray.
Now, with more fear (his weaker hope o'erthrown).
The sorrowing Patron to the wind gives way,
He veers his barque before the cruel gale,
And scowers the foaming sea with humble sail.
While Fortune on the sea annoys this crew,
She grants those others small repose by land,
Those left in France, who one another slew, -
The men of England and the paynim band.
These bold Rinaldo broke and overthrew;
Nor troops nor banners spread before him stand:
I speak of him, who his Baiardo fleet
Had spurred the gallant Dardinel to meet.
The shield, of which Almontes' son was vain,
That of the quarters, good Rinaldo spied;
And deemed him bold, and of a valiant strain,
Who with Orlando's ensign dared to ride.
Approaching nearer, this appeared more plain,
When heaps of slaughtered men he round him eyed.
'Better it were,' he cried, 'to overthrow
This evil plant, before it shoot and grow.'
Each to retreat betook him, where the peer
His face directed, and large passage made.
Nor less the Saracens than faithful, clear
The way, so reverenced is Fusberta's blade.
Save Dardinel, Mount Alban's cavalier,
Saw none, nor he to chase his prey delayed.
To whom, 'He cast upon thee mickle care,
Poor child, who of that buckler left thee heir.
'I seek thee out to prove (if thou attend
My coming) how thou keep'st the red and white,
For thou, save this from me thou canst defend,
Canst ill defend it from Orlando's might.'
To him the king: 'Now clearly comprehend,
I what I bear, as well defend in fight;
And I more honour hope than trouble dread
From my paternal quartering, white and red.
'Have thou no hope to make me fly, or yield
To thee my quarters, though a child I be;
My life shalt thou take from me, if my shield;
But I, in God, well hope the contrary.
- This as it may! - shall none, in fighting field,
Say that I ever shamed my ancestry.'
So said, and grasping in his hand the sword,
The youthful king assailed Mount Alban's lord.
Upon all parts, a freezing fear goes through
The heart blood of each trembling paynim nigh,
When they amazed the fierce Rinaldo view;
Who charged the monarch with such enmity,
As might a lion, which a bullock, new
To stings of love, should in a meadow spy.
The Moor smote first, but fruitless was his task,
Who beat in vain upon Mambrino's casque.
Rinaldo smiled, and said: 'I'd have thee know
If I am better skilled to find the vein.'
He spurs, and lets with that the bridle go,
And a thrust pushes with such might and main,
- A thrust against the bosom of his foe,
That at his back the blade appears again.
Forth issued blood and soul, and from his sell
Lifeless and cold the reeling body fell.
As languishes the flower of purple hue,
Which levelled by the passing ploughshare lies;
Or as the poppy, overcharged with dew,
In garden droops its head in piteous wise:
From life the leader of Zumara's crew
So past, his visage losing all its dyes;
So passed from life; and perished with their king,
The heart and hope of all his following.
As waters will sometime their course delay,
Stagnant, and penned in pool by human skill,
Which, when the opposing dyke is broke away,
Fall, and with mighty noise the country fill:
'Twas so the Africans, who had some stay,
While Dardinello valour did instil,
Fled here and there, dismayed on every side,
When they him hurtling form his sell descried.
Letting the flyers fly, of those who stand
Firm in their place, Rinaldo breaks the array;
Ariodantes kills on every hand;
Who ranks well nigh Rinaldo on that day.
These Leonetto's, those Zerbino's brand
O'erturns, all rivals in the glorious fray.
Well Charles and Oliver their parts have done,
Turpin and Ogier, Guido and Salomon.
In peril were the Moors, that none again
Should visit Heatheness, that day opprest:
But that the wise and wary king of Spain,
Gathered, and from the field bore off the rest:
To sit down with his loss he better gain
Esteemed, that here to hazard purse and vest:
Better some remnant of the host to save,
Than bid whole squadrons stand and find a grave.
He bids forthwith the Moorish ensigns be
Borne to the camp, which fosse and rampart span.
With the bold monarch of Andology,
The valiant Portuguese, and Stordilan.
He sends to pray the king of Barbary,
To endeavour to retire, as best be can;
Who will no little praise that day deserve,
If he his person and his place preserve.
That king, who deemed himself in desperate case,
Nor ever more Biserta hoped to see;
For, with so horrible and foul a face
He never Fortune had beheld, with glee
Heard that Marsilius had contrived to place
Part of his host in full security;
And faced about his banners and bade beat
Throughout his broken squadrons a retreat.
But the best portion neither signal knew,
Nor listened to the drum or trumpet's sound.
So scared, so crowded is the wretched crew,
That many in Seine's neighbouring stream are drowned,
Agramant, who would form the band anew,
(With him Sobrino) scowers the squadrons round;
And with them every leader good combines
To bring the routed host within their lines.
But nought by sovereign or Sobrino done,
Who, toiling, them with prayer or menace stirred,
To march, where their ill-followed flags are gone.
Can bring (I say not all) not even a third.
Slaughtered or put to flight are two for one
Who 'scapes, - nor he unharmed: among that herd,
Wounded is this behind, and that before,
And wearied, one and all, and harassed sore.
And even within their lines, in panic sore,
They by the Christian bands are held in chase;
And of all needful matters little store
Was made there, for provisioning the place.
Charlemagne wisely by the lock before
Would grapple Fortune, when she turned her face,
But that dark night upon the field descended,
And hushed all earthly matters and suspended:
By the Creator haply hastened, who
Was moved to pity for the works he made.
The blood in torrents ran the country through,
Flooding the roads: while on the champaign laid
Were eighty thousand of the paynim crew,
Cut off that day by the destroying blade:
Last trooped from caverns, at the midni
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,--
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.
PART THE FIRST
In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pre
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward,
Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant,
Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates
Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.
West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains
Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of hemlock,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting
Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway.
There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset
Lighted the village street and gilded the vanes on the chimneys,
Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors
Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens,
Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens,
Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,
Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment.
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers,--
Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of their owners;
There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas,
Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pre,
Dwelt on his goodly acres: and with him, directing his household,
Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village.
Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters;
Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes;
White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden,
Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal,
Wearing her Norman cap and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings,
Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom,
Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness--a more ethereal beauty--
Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer
Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady
Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath
Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.
Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse,
Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by the roadside,
Built o'er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.
Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown
Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.
Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard,
There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the harrows;
There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio,
Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame
Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.
Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In each one
Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase,
Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft.
There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates
Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes
Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pre
Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household.
Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,
Fixed his eyes upon her as the saint of his deepest devotion;
Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment!
Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,
And, as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps,
Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;
Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,
Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered
Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.
But, among all who came, young Gabriel only was welcome;
Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,
Who was a mighty man in the village, and honored of all men;
For, since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations,
Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
Basil was Benedict's friend. Their children from earliest childhood
Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician,
Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters
Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the plain-song.
But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed,
Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.
There at the door they stood, with wondering eyes to behold him
Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything,
Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel
Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.
Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness
Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and crevice,
Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows,
And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes,
Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.
Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle,
Down the hillside hounding, they glided away o'er the meadow.
Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters,
Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow
Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings;
Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow!
Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children.
He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning,
Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened thought into action.
She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman.
"Sunshine of Saint Eulalie" was she called; for that was the sunshine
Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with apples
She, too, would bring to her husband's house delight and abundance,
Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.
Now had the season returned, when the nights grow colder and longer,
And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the ice-bound,
Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands,
Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Bees, with prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their honey
Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian bunters asserted
Cold would the winter be, for thick was the fur of the foxes.
Such was the advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm-yards,
Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him;
While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow,
Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.
Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness.
Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight descending
Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the homestead.
Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each other,
And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.
Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's beautiful heifer,
Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from her collar,
Quietly paced and slow, as if conscious of human affection.
Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside,
Where was their favorite pasture. Behind them followed the watch-dog,
Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct,
Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly
Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers;
Regent of flocks was he when the shepherd slept; their protector,
When from the forest at night, through the starry silence, the wolves howled.
Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes,
Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odor.
Cheerily neighed the steeds, with dew on their manes and their fetlocks,
While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles,
Painted with brilliant dyes, and adorned with tassels of crimson,
Nodded in bright array, like hollyhocks heavy with blossoms.
Patiently stood the cows meanwhile, and yielded their udders
Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence
Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended.
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farm-yard,
Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness;
Heavily closed, with a jarring sound, the valves of the barn-doors,
Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a season was silent.
In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmer
Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths
Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him,
Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic,
Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.
Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair
Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresser
Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas,
Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before him
Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards.
Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated,
Spinning flax for the loom, that stood in the corner behind her.
Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle,
While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a bagpipe,
Followed the old man's songs and united the fragments together.
As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases,
Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the altar,
So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus as they sat, there were footsteps heard, and, suddenly lifted,
Sounded the wooden latch, and the door swung back on its hinges.
Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith,
And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him.
"Welcome!" the farmer exclaimed, as their footsteps paused of the threshold.
"Welcome, Basil, my friend! Come, take thy place on the settle
Close by the chimney-side, which is always empty without thee;
Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco;
Never so much thyself art thou as when through the curling
Smoke of the pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams
Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes."
Then, with a smile of content, thus answered Basil the blacksmith,
Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside:--
"Benedict Bellefontaine, thou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad!
Ever in cheerfullest mood art thou, when others are filled with
Gloomy forebodings of ill, and see only ruin before them.
Happy art thou, as if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe."
Pausing a moment, to take the pipe that Evangeline brought him,
And with a coal from the embers had lighted, he slowly continued:--
"Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors
Ride in the Gaspereau's mouth, with their cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded
On the morrow to meet in the church, where his Majesty's mandate
Will be proclaimed as law in the land. Alas! in the mean time
Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people."
Then made answer the farmer:--"Perhaps some friendlier purpose
Brings these ships to our shores. Perhaps the harvests in England
By untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted,
And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children."
"Not so thinketh the folk in the village," said, warmly, the blacksmith,
Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued:--
"Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau Sejour, nor Port Royal.
Many already have fled to the forest, and lurk on its outskirts,
Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow.
Arms have been taken from us, and warlike weapons of all kinds;
Nothing is left but the blacksmith's sledge and the scythe of the mower."
Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer:--
"Safer are we unarmed, in the midst of our flocks and our cornfields,
Safer within these peaceful dikes, besieged by the ocean,
Than our fathers in forts, besieged by the enemy's cannon.
Fear no evil, my friend, and to-night may no shadow of sorrow
Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract.
Built are the house and the barn. The merry lads of the village
Strongly have built them and well; and, breaking the glebe round about them,
Filled the barn with hay, and the house with food for a twelvemonth.
Rene Leblanc will be here anon, with his papers and inkhorn.
Shall we not then be glad, and rejoice in the joy of our children?"
As apart by the window she stood, with her hand in her lover's,
Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken,
And, as they died on his lips, the worthy notary entered.
Bent like a laboring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean,
Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public;
Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maize, hung
Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows
Sat astride on his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal.
Father of twenty children was he, and more than a hundred
Children's children rode on his knee, and heard his great watch tick.
Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive,
Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English.
Now, though warier grown, without all guile or suspicion,
Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and simple, and childlike.
He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children;
For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest,
And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses,
And of the white Letiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened
Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children;
And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable,
And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell,
And of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horseshoes,
With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.
Then up rose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith,
Knocked from his pipe the ashes, and slowly extending his right hand,
"Father Leblanc," he exclaimed, "thou hast heard the talk in the village,
And, perchance, canst tell us some news of these ships and their errand."
Then with modest demeanor made answer the notary public,--
"Gossip enough have I heard, in sooth, yet am never the wiser;
And what their errand may be I know not better than others.
Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention
Brings them here, for we are at peace; and why then molest us?"
"God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible blacksmith;
"Must we in all things look for the how, and the why, and the wherefore?
Daily injustice is done, and might is the right of the strongest!"
But, without heeding his warmth, continued the notary public,--
"Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice
Triumphs; and well I remember a story, that often consoled me,
When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal."
This was the old man's favorite tale, and he loved to repeat it
When his neighbors complained that any injustice was done them.
"Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember,
Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand,
And in its right a sword, as an emblem that justice presided
Over the laws of the land, and the hearts and homes of the people.
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance,
Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them.
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted;
Might took the place of right, and the weak were oppressed, and the mighty
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman's palace
That a necklace of pearls was lost, and erelong a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
She, after form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold,
Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended,
Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronze, and hurled in wrath from its left hand
Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance,
And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie,
Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven."
Silenced, but not convinced, when the story was ended, the blacksmith
Stood like a man who fain would speak, but findeth no language;
All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his face, as the vapors
Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.
Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table,
Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of Grand-Pre;
While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and inkhorn,
Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties,
Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.
Orderly all things proceeded, and duly and well were completed,
And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin.
Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table
Three times the old man's fee in solid pieces of silver;
And the notary rising, and blessing the bride and the bridegroom,
Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his lip, he solemnly bowed and departed,
While in silence the others sat and mused by the fireside,
Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner.
Soon was the game begun. In friendly contention the old men
Laughed at each lucky hit, or unsuccessful manoeuver,
Laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach was made in the king-row
Meanwhile apart, in the twilight gloom of a window's embrasure,
Sat the lovers, and whispered together, beholding the moon rise
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.
Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus was the evening passed. Anon the bell from the belfry
Rang out the hour of nine, the village curfew, and straightway
Rose the guests and departed; and silence reigned in the household.
Many a farewell word and sweet good-night on the door-step
Lingered long in Evangeline's heart, and filled it with gladness.
Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearth-stone,
And on the oaken stairs resounded the tread of the farmer.
Soon with a soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.
Up the staircase moved a luminous space in the darkness,
Lighted less by the lamp than the shining face of the maiden.
Silent she passed the hall, and entered the door of her chamber.
Simple that chamber was, with its curtains of white, and its clothes-press
Ample and high, on whose spacious shelves were carefully folded
Linen and woollen stuffs, by the hand of Evangeline woven.
This was the precious dower she would bring to her husband in marriage,
Better than flocks and herds, being proofs of her skill as a housewife.
Soon she extinguished her lamp, for the mellow and radiant moonlight
Streamed through the windows, and lighted the room, till the heart of the maiden
Swelled and obeyed its power, like the tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fair, exceeding fair to behold, as she stood with
Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber!
Little she dreamed that below, among the trees of the orchard,
Waited her lover and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of him, and at times a feeling of sadness
Passed o'er her soul, as the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight
Flitted across the floor and darkened the room for a moment.
And, as she gazed from the window, she saw serenely the moon pass
Forth from the folds of a cloud, and one star follow her footsteps,
As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar!
Pleasantly rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pre.
Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas,
Where the ships, with their wavering shadows, were riding at anchor.
Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labor
Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
Now from the country around, from the farms and neighboring hamlets,
Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk
Made the bright air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows,
Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward,
Group after group appeared, and joined, or passed on the highway.
Long ere noon, in the village all sounds of labor were silenced.
Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors
Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together.
Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted;
For with this simple people, who lived like brothers together,
All things were held in common, and what one had was another's.
Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father;
Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness
Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard,
Stript of its golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;
There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press and the beehives,
Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.
Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white
Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler
Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle,
Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres, and Le Carillon de Dunkerque,
And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.
Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them.
Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline, Benedict's daughter!
Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith!
So passed the morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat.
Thronged erelong was the church with men. Without, in the churchyard,
Waited the women. They stood by the graves, and hung on the headstones
Garlands of autumn-leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the ships, and marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor
Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement,--
Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous portal
Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commander, and spoke from the steps of the altar,
Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission.
"You are convened this day," he said, "by his Majesty's orders.
Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness,
Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch;
Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds
Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there
Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people!
Prisoners now I declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!"
As, when the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer,
Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows,
Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs,
Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their enclosures;
So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger,
And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the door-way.
Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith,
As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by the billows.
Flushed was his face and distorted with passion; and wildly he shouted,--
"Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests!"
More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention,
Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician
Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence
All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people;
Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake he, as, after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
"What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my life have I labored among you, and taught you,
Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another!
Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations?
Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
Lo! where the crucified Christ from his cross is gazing upon you!
See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, 'O Father, forgive them!'
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us,
Let us repeat it now, and say, 'O Father, forgive them!'"
Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people
Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak,
While they repeated his prayer, and said, "O Father, forgive them!"
Then came the evening service. The tapers gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the priest and the people responded,
Not with their lips alone, but their hearts; and the Ave Maria
Sang they, and fell on their knees, and their souls, with devotion translated,
Rose on the ardor of prayer, like Elijah ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of ill, and on all sides
Wandered, wailing, from house to house the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stood, with her right hand
Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sun, that, descending,
Lighted the village street with mysterious splendor, and roofed each
Peasant's cottage with golden thatch, and emblazoned its windows.
Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table;
There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fragrant with wild-flowers;
There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;
And, at the head of the board, the great arm-chair of the farmer.
Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's door, as the sunset
Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen,
And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended,--
Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and forgiveness, and patience!
Then, all-forgetful of self, she wandered into the village,
Cheering with looks and words the mournful hearts of the women,
As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed,
Urged by their household cares, and the weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sun, and in golden, glimmering vapors
Veiled the light of his face, like the Prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church Evangeline lingered.
All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows
Stood she, and listened and looked, till, overcome by emotion,
"Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer
Came from the graves of the dead, nor the gloomier grave of the living.
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
Smouldered the fire on the hearth, on the board was the supper untasted,
Empty and drear was each room, and haunted with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.
In the dead of the night she heard the disconsolate rain fall
Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window.
Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder
Told her that God was in heaven, and governed the world he created!
Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of Heaven;
Soothed was her troubled soul, and she peacefully slumbered till
Four times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth day
Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farm-house.
Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful procession,
Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women,
Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the sea-shore,
Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings,
Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.
Close at their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen,
While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach
Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants.
All day long between the shore and the ships did the boats ply;
All day long the wains came laboring down from the village.
Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to his setting,
Echoed far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard.
Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors
Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession
Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers.
Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country,
Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn,
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices,
Sang with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions:--
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!
Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!"
Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the wayside
Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them
Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence,
Not overcome with grief, but strong in the hour of affliction,--
Calmly and sadly she waited, until the procession approached her,
And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion.
Team then filled her eyes, and, eagerly running to meet him,
Clasped she his hands, and laid her head on his shoulder, and whispered,--
"Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another
Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever mischances may happen!"
Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly paused, for her father
Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect!
Gone was the glow from his cheek, and the fire from his eye, and his footstep
Heavier seemed with the weight of the heavy heart in his bosom.
But with a smile and a sigh, she clasped his neck and embraced him,
Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.
There disorder prevailed, and the tumult and stir of embarking.
Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion
Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers, too late, saw their children
Left on the land, extending their arms, with wildest entreaties.
So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried,
While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father.
Half the task was not done when the sun went down, and the twilight
Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean
Fled away from the shore, and left the line of the sand-beach
Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp and the slippery sea-weed.
Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons,
Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle,
All escape cut off by the sea, and the sentinels near them,
Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers.
Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean,
Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebbles, and leaving
Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors.
Then, as the night descended, the herds returned from their pastures;
Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders;
Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farm-yard,--
Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid.
Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded,
Rose no smoke from the roofs, and gleamed no lights from the windows.
But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled,
Built of the drift-wood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest.
Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered,
Voices of women were heard, and of men, and the crying of children.
Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth to hearth in his parish,
Wandered the faithful priest, consoling and blessing and cheering,
Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore.
Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father,
And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man,
Haggard and hollow and wan, and without either thought or emotion,
E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken.
Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him,
Vainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not
But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering fire-light.
"Benedicite!" murmured the priest, in tones of compassion.
More he fain would have said, but his heart was full, and his accents
Faltered and paused on his lips, as the feet of a child on a threshold,
Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the awful presence of sorrow.
Silently, therefore, he laid his hand on the head of the maiden,
Raising his tearful eyes to the silent stars that above them
Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
Then sat he down at her side, and they wept together in silence.
Suddenly rose from the south a light, as in autumn the blood-red
Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven, and o'er the horizon
Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow,
Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and piling huge shadows together.
Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village,
Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the ships that lay in the roadstead.
Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes of flame were
Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like the quivering hands of a martyr.
Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatch, and, uplifting,
Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from a hundred house-tops
Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard.
Speechless at first they stood, then cried aloud in their anguish,
"We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pre!"
Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farm-yards,
Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle
Came on the evening breeze, by the barking of dogs interrupted.
Then rose a sound of dread, such as startles the sleeping encampments
Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska,
When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind,
Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river.
Such was the sound that arose on the night, as the herds and the horses
Broke through their folds and fences, and madly rushed o'er the meadows.
Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless, the priest and the maiden
Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them;
And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion,
Lo! from his seat he had fallen, and stretched abroad on the sea-shore
Motionless lay his form, from which the soul had departed.
Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head, and the maiden
Knelt at her father's side, and wailed aloud in her terror.
Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with her head on his bosom.
Through the long night she lay in deep, oblivious slumber;
And when she woke from the trance, she beheld a multitude near her.
Faces of friends she beheld, that were mournfully gazing upon her,
Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of saddest compassion.
Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape,
Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the faces around her,
And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses.
Then a familiar voice she heard, as it said to the people,--
"Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season
Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile,
Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard."
Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the sea-side,
Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches,
But without bell or book, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pre.
And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow,
Lo! with a mournful sound, like the voice of a vast congregation,
Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled its roar with the dirges.
'T was the returning tide, that afar from the waste of the ocean,
With the first dawn of the day, came heaving and hurrying landward.
Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking;
And with the ebb of the tide the ships sailed out of the harbor,
Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in
PART THE SECOND
Many a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pre,
When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed,
Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into exile.
Exile without an end, and without an example in story.
Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians landed;
Scattered were they, like flakes of snow, when the wind from the northeast
Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city,
From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas,--
From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters
Seizes the hills in his hands, and drags them down to the ocean,
Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth.
Friends they sought and homes; and many, despairing, heart-broken,
Asked of the earth but a grave, and no longer a friend nor a fireside.
Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards.
Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered,
Lowly and meek in spirit, and patiently suffering all things.
Fair was she and young; but, alas! before her extended,
Dreary and vast and silent, the desert of life, with its pathway
Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her,
Passions long extinguished, and hopes long dead and abandoned,
As the emigrant's way o'er the Western desert is marked by
Camp-fires long consumed, and bones that bleach in the sunshine.
Something there was in her life incomplete, imperfect, unfinished;
As if a morning of June, with all its music and sunshine,
Suddenly paused in the sky, and, fading, slowly descended
Into the east again, from whence it late had arisen.
Sometimes she lingered in towns, till, urged by the fever within her,
Urged by a restless longing, the hunger and thirst of the spirit,
She would commence again her endless search and endeavor;
Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and gazed on the crosses and tombstones,
Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that perhaps in its bosom
He was already at rest, and she longed to slumber beside him.
Sometimes a rumor, a hearsay, an inarticulate whisper,
Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward.
Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him,
But it was long ago, in some far-off place or forgotten.
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" they said; yes! we have seen him.
He was with Basil the blacksmith, and both have gone to the prairies;
Coureurs-des-Bois are they, and famous hunters and trappers."
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "O yes! we have seen him.
He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana."
Then would they say, "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer?
Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others
Who have hearts as tender and true, and spirits as loyal?
Here is Baptiste Leblanc, the notary's son, who has loved thee
Many a tedious year; come, give him thy hand and be happy!
Thou art too fair to be left to braid St. Catherine's tresses."
Then would Evangeline answer, serenely but sadly, "I cannot!
Whither my heart has gone, there follows my hand, and not elsewhere.
For when the heart goes before, like a lamp, and illumines the pathway,
Many things are made clear, that else lie hidden in darkness."
Thereupon the priest, her friend and father-confessor,
Said, with a smile, "O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee!
Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
Patience; accomplish thy labor; accomplish thy work of affection!
Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.
Therefore accomplish thy labor of love, till the heart is made godlike,
Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered more worthy of heaven!"
Cheered by the good man's words, Evangeline labored and waited.
Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean,
But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whispered, "Despair not?"
Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheerless discomfort
Bleeding, barefooted, over the shards and thorns of existence.
Let me essay, O Muse! to follow the wanderer's footsteps;--
Not through each devious path, each changeful year of existence;
But as a traveller follows a streamlet's course through the valley:
Far from its margin at times, and seeing the gleam of its water
Here and there, in some open space, and at intervals only;
Then drawing nearer its banks, through sylvan glooms that conceal it,
Though he behold it not, he can hear its continuous murmur;
Happy, at length, if he find the spot where it reaches an outlet.
It was the month of May. Far down the Beautiful River,
Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash,
Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi,
Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed by Acadian boatmen.
It was a band of exiles: a raft, as it were, from the shipwrecked
Nation, scattered along the coast, now floating together,
Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune;
Men and women and children, who, guided by hope or by hearsay,
Sought for their kith and their kin among the few-acred farmers
On the Acadian coast, and the prairies of fair Opelousas.
With them Evangeline went, and her guide, the Father Felician.
Onward o'er sunken sands, through a wilderness sombre with forests,
Day after day they glided adown the turbulent river;
Night after night, by their blazing fires, encamped on its borders.
Now through rushing chutes, among green islands, where plumelike
Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests, they swept with the current,
Then emerged into broad lagoons, where silvery sand-bars
Lay in the stream, and along the wimpling waves of their margin,
Shining with snow-white plumes, large flocks of pelicans waded.
Level the landscape grew, and along the shores of the river,
Shaded by china-trees, in the midst of luxuriant gardens,
Stood the houses of planters, with negro-cabins and dove-cots.
They were approaching the region where reigns perpetual summer,
Where through the Golden Coast, and groves of orange and citron,
Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the eastward.
They, too, swerved from their course; and, entering the Bayou of Plaquemine,
Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and devious waters,
Which, like a network of steel, extended in every direction.
Over their heads the towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress
Met in a dusky arch, and trailing mosses in mid-air
Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals.
Deathlike the silence seemed, and unbroken, save by the herons
Home to their roasts in the cedar-trees returning at sunset,
Or by the owl, as he greeted the moon with demoniac laughter.
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water,
Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar sustaining the arches,
Down through whose broken vaults it fell as through chinks in a ruin.
Dreamlike, and indistinct, and strange were all things around them;
And o'er their spirits there came a feeling of wonder and sadness,--
Strange forebodings of ill, unseen and that cannot be compassed.
As, at the tramp of a horse's hoof on the turf of the prairies,
Far in advance are closed the leaves of the shrinking mimosa,
So, at the hoof-beats of fate, with sad forebodings of evil,
Shrinks and closes the heart, ere the stroke of doom has attained it.
But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a vision, that faintly
Floated before her eyes, and beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her,
And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.
Then in his place, at the prow of the boat, rose one of the oarsmen,
And, as a signal sound, if others like them peradventure
Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streams, blew a blast on his bugle.
Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors leafy the blast rang,
Breaking the seal of silence, and giving tongues to the forest.
Soundless above them the banners of moss just stirred to the music.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance,
Over the watery floor, and beneath the reverberant branches;
But not a voice replied; no answer came from the darkness;
And, when the echoes had ceased, like a sense of pain was the silence.
Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen rowed through the midnight,
Silent at times, then singing familiar Canadian boat-songs,
Such as they sang of old on their own Acadian rivers,
While through the night were heard the mysterious sounds of the desert,
Far off,--indistinct,--as of wave or wind in the forest,
Mixed with the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from the shades; and before them
Lay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the Atchafalaya.
Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations
Made by the passing oars, and, resplendent in beauty, the lotus
Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.
Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms,
And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands,
Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses,
Near to whose shores they glided along, invited to slumber.
Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.
Under the boughs of Wachita willows, that grew by the margin,
Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward,
Tired with their midnight toil, the weary travellers slumbered.
Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar.
Swinging from its great arms, the trumpet-flower and the grapevine
Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob,
On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascending, descending,
Were the swift humming-birds, that flitted from blossom to blossom.
Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it.
Filled was her heart with love, and the dawn of an opening heaven
Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Nearer, ever nearer, among the numberless islands,
Darted a light, swift boat, that sped away o'er the water,
Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers.
Northward its prow was turned, to the land of the bison and beaver.
At the helm sat a youth, with countenance thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his brow, and a sadness
Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written.
Gabriel was it, who, weary with waiting, unhappy and restless,
Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.
Swiftly they glided along, close under the lee of the island,
But by the opposite bank, and behind a screen of palmettos,
So that they saw not the boat, where it lay concealed in the willows,
All undisturbed by the dash of their oars, and unseen, were the sleepers,
Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.
Swiftly they glided away, like the shade of a cloud on the prairie.
After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance,
As from a magic trance the sleepers awoke, and the maiden
Said with a sigh to the friendly priest, "O Father Felician!
Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.
Is it a foolish dream, an idle and vague superstition?
Or has an angel passed, and revealed the truth to my spirit?"
Then, with a blush, she added, "Alas for my credulous fancy!
Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning."
But made answer the reverend man, and he smiled as he answered,--
"Daughter, thy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning.
Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface
Is as the tossing buoy, that betrays where the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what the world calls illusions.
Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the southward,
On the banks of the Teche, are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom,
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.
Beautiful is the land, with its prairies and forests of fruit-trees;
Under the feet a garden of flowers, and the bluest of heavens
Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana."
With these words of cheer they arose and continued their journey.
Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon
Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;
Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest
Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.
Hanging between two skies, a cloud with edges of silver,
Floated the boat, with its dripping oars, on the motionless water.
Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness.
Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling
Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her.
Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers,
Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water,
Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music,
That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness
Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation;
Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision,
As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops
Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.
With such a prelude as this, and hearts that throbbed with emotion,
Slowly they entered the Teche, where it flows through the green Opelousas,
And, through the amber air, above the crest of the woodland,
Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighboring dwelling;--
Sounds of a horn they heard, and the distant lowing of cattle.
Near to the bank of the river, o'ershadowed by oaks, from whose branches
Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted,
Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide,
Stood, secluded and still, the house of the herdsman. A garden
Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms,
Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers
Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully fitted together.
Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported,
Rose-wreathed, vine-encircled, a broad and spacious veranda,
Haunt of the humming-bird and the bee, extended around it.
At each end of the house, amid the flowers of the garden,
Stationed the dove-cots were, as love's perpetual symbol,
Scenes of endless wooing, and endless contentions of rivals.
Silence reigned o'er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine
Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow,
And from its chimney-top, ascending and slowly expanding
Into the evening air, a thin blue column of smoke rose.
In the rear of the house, from the garden gate, ran a pathway
Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie,
Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
Full in his track of light, like ships with shadowy canvas
Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics,
Stood a cluster of trees, with tangled cordage of grapevines.
Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie,
Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle and stirrups,
Sat a herdsman, arrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero
Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds of kine, that were grazing
Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the vapory freshness
That uprose from the river, and spread itself over the landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his side, and expanding
Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a blast, that resounded
Wildly and sweet and far, through the still damp air of the evening.
Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle
Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
Silent a moment they gazed, then bellowing rushed o'er the prairie,
And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade in the distance.
Then, as the herdsman turned to the house, through the gate of the garden
Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazement, and forward
Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder;
When they beheld his face, they recognized Basil the blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome was, as he led his guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer
I. The Ring and the Book
Do you see this Ring?
'T is Rome-work, made to match
(By Castellani's imitative craft)
Etrurian circlets found, some happy morn,
After a dropping April; found alive
Spark-like 'mid unearthed slope-side figtree-roots
That roof old tombs at Chiusi: soft, you see,
Yet crisp as jewel-cutting. There's one trick,
(Craftsmen instruct me) one approved device
And but one, fits such slivers of pure gold
As this was,—such mere oozings from the mine,
Virgin as oval tawny pendent tear
At beehive-edge when ripened combs o'erflow,—
To bear the file's tooth and the hammer's tap:
Since hammer needs must widen out the round,
And file emboss it fine with lily-flowers,
Ere the stuff grow a ring-thing right to wear.
That trick is, the artificer melts up wax
With honey, so to speak; he mingles gold
With gold's alloy, and, duly tempering both,
Effects a manageable mass, then works:
But his work ended, once the thing a ring,
Oh, there's repristination! Just a spirt
O' the proper fiery acid o'er its face,
And forth the alloy unfastened flies in fume;
While, self-sufficient now, the shape remains,
The rondure brave, the lilied loveliness,
Gold as it was, is, shall be evermore:
Prime nature with an added artistry—
No carat lost, and you have gained a ring.
What of it? 'T is a figure, a symbol, say;
A thing's sign: now for the thing signified.
Do you see this square old yellow Book, I toss
I' the air, and catch again, and twirl about
By the crumpled vellum covers,—pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since?
Examine it yourselves! I found this book,
Gave a lira for it, eightpence English just,
(Mark the predestination!) when a Hand,
Always above my shoulder, pushed me once,
One day still fierce 'mid many a day struck calm,
Across a Square in Florence, crammed with booths,
Buzzing and blaze, noontide and market-time,
Toward Baccio's marble,—ay, the basement-ledge
O' the pedestal where sits and menaces
John of the Black Bands with the upright spear,
'Twixt palace and church,—Riccardi where they lived,
His race, and San Lorenzo where they lie.
This book,—precisely on that palace-step
Which, meant for lounging knaves o' the Medici,
Now serves re-venders to display their ware,—
Mongst odds and ends of ravage, picture-frames
White through the worn gilt, mirror-sconces chipped,
Bronze angel-heads once knobs attached to chests,
(Handled when ancient dames chose forth brocade)
Modern chalk drawings, studies from the nude,
Samples of stone, jet, breccia, porphyry
Polished and rough, sundry amazing busts
In baked earth, (broken, Providence be praised!)
A wreck of tapestry, proudly-purposed web
When reds and blues were indeed red and blue,
Now offered as a mat to save bare feet
(Since carpets constitute a cruel cost)
Treading the chill scagliola bedward: then
A pile of brown-etched prints, two crazie each,
Stopped by a conch a-top from fluttering forth
—Sowing the Square with works of one and the same
Master, the imaginative Sienese
Great in the scenic backgrounds—(name and fame
None of you know, nor does he fare the worse:)
From these … Oh, with a Lionard going cheap
If it should prove, as promised, that Joconde
Whereof a copy contents the Louvre!—these
I picked this book from. Five compeers in flank
Stood left and right of it as tempting more—
A dogseared Spicilegium, the fond tale
O' the Frail One of the Flower, by young Dumas,
Vulgarized Horace for the use of schools,
The Life, Death, Miracles of Saint Somebody,
Saint Somebody Else, his Miracles, Death and Life,—
With this, one glance at the lettered back of which,
And "Stall!" cried I: a lira made it mine.
Here it is, this I toss and take again;
Small-quarto size, part print part manuscript:
A book in shape but, really, pure crude fact
Secreted from man's life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since.
Give it me back! The thing's restorative
I'the touch and sight.
That memorable day,
(June was the month, Lorenzo named the Square)
I leaned a little and overlooked my prize
By the low railing round the fountain-source
Close to the statue, where a step descends:
While clinked the cans of copper, as stooped and rose
Thick-ankled girls who brimmed them, and made place
For marketmen glad to pitch basket down,
Dip a broad melon-leaf that holds the wet,
And whisk their faded fresh. And on I read
Presently, though my path grew perilous
Between the outspread straw-work, piles of plait
Soon to be flapping, each o'er two black eyes
And swathe of Tuscan hair, on festas fine:
Through fire-irons, tribes of tongs, shovels in sheaves,
Skeleton bedsteads, wardrobe-drawers agape,
Rows of tall slim brass lamps with dangling gear,—
And worse, cast clothes a-sweetening in the sun:
None of them took my eye from off my prize.
Still read I on, from written title-page
To written index, on, through street and street,
At the Strozzi, at the Pillar, at the Bridge;
Till, by the time I stood at home again
In Casa Guidi by Felice Church,
Under the doorway where the black begins
With the first stone-slab of the staircase cold,
I had mastered the contents, knew the whole truth
Gathered together, bound up in this book,
Print three-fifths, written supplement the rest.
Better translate—"A Roman murder-case:
"Position of the entire criminal cause
"Of Guido Franceschini, nobleman,
"With certain Four the cutthroats in his pay,
"Tried, all five, and found guilty and put to death
"By heading or hanging as befitted ranks,
"At Rome on February Twenty Two,
"Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight:
"Wherein it is disputed if, and when,
"Husbands may kill adulterous wives, yet 'scape
"The customary forfeit."
Word for word,
So ran the title-page: murder, or else
Legitimate punishment of the other crime,
Accounted murder by mistake,—just that
And no more, in a Latin cramp enough
When the law had her eloquence to launch,
But interfilleted with Italian streaks
When testimony stooped to mother-tongue,—
That, was this old square yellow book about.
Now, as the ingot, ere the ring was forged,
Lay gold, (beseech you, hold that figure fast!)
So, in this book lay absolutely truth,
Fanciless fact, the documents indeed,
Primary lawyer-pleadings for, against,
The aforesaid Five; real summed-up circumstance
Adduced in proof of these on either side,
Put forth and printed, as the practice was,
At Rome, in the Apostolic Chamber's type,
And so submitted to the eye o' the Court
Presided over by His Reverence
Rome's Governor and Criminal Judge,—the trial
Itself, to all intents, being then as now
Here in the book and nowise out of it;
Seeing, there properly was no judgment-bar,
No bringing of accuser and accused,
And whoso judged both parties, face to face
Before some court, as we conceive of courts.
There was a Hall of Justice; that came last:
For Justice had a chamber by the hall
Where she took evidence first, summed up the same,
Then sent accuser and accused alike,
In person of the advocate of each,
To weigh its worth, thereby arrange, array
The battle. 'T was the so-styled Fisc began,
Pleaded (and since he only spoke in print
The printed voice of him lives now as then)
The public Prosecutor—"Murder's proved;
"With five … what we call qualities of bad,
"Worse, worst, and yet worse still, and still worse yet;
"Crest over crest crowning the cockatrice,
"That beggar hell's regalia to enrich
"Count Guido Franceschini: punish him!"
Thus was the paper put before the court
In the next stage, (no noisy work at all,)
To study at ease. In due time like reply
Came from the so-styled Patron of the Poor,
Official mouthpiece of the five accused
Too poor to fee a better,—Guido's luck
Or else his fellows',—which, I hardly know,—
An outbreak as of wonder at the world,
A fury-fit of outraged innocence,
A passion of betrayed simplicity:
"Punish Count Guido? For what crime, what hint
"O' the colour of a crime, inform us first!
"Reward him rather! Recognize, we say,
"In the deed done, a righteous judgment dealt!
"All conscience and all courage,—there's our Count
"Charactered in a word; and, what's more strange,
"He had companionship in privilege,
"Found four courageous conscientious friends:
"Absolve, applaud all five, as props of law,
"Sustainers of society!—perchance
"A trifle over-hasty with the hand
"To hold her tottering ark, had tumbled else;
"But that's a splendid fault whereat we wink,
"Wishing your cold correctness sparkled so!"
Thus paper second followed paper first,
Thus did the two join issue—nay, the four,
Each pleader having an adjunct. "True, he killed
"—So to speak—in a certain sort—his wife,
"But laudably, since thus it happed!" quoth one:
Whereat, more witness and the case postponed.
"Thus it happed not, since thus he did the deed,
"And proved himself thereby portentousest
"Of cutthroats and a prodigy of crime,
"As the woman that he slaughtered was a saint,
"Martyr and miracle!" quoth the other to match:
Again, more witness, and the case postponed.
"A miracle, ay—of lust and impudence;
"Hear my new reasons!" interposed the first:
"—Coupled with more of mine!" pursued his peer.
"Beside, the precedents, the authorities!"
From both at once a cry with an echo, that!
That was a firebrand at each fox's tail
Unleashed in a cornfield: soon spread flare enough,
As hurtled thither and there heaped themselves
From earth's four corners, all authority
And precedent for putting wives to death,
Or letting wives live, sinful as they seem.
How legislated, now, in this respect,
Solon and his Athenians? Quote the code
Of Romulus and Rome! Justinian speak!
Nor modern Baldo, Bartolo be dumb!
The Roman voice was potent, plentiful;
Cornelia de Sicariis hurried to help
Pompeia de Parricidiis; Julia de
Something-or-other jostled Lex this-and-that;
King Solomon confirmed Apostle Paul:
That nice decision of Dolabella, eh?
That pregnant instance of Theodoric, oh!
Down to that choice example Ælian gives
(An instance I find much insisted on)
Of the elephant who, brute-beast though he were,
Yet understood and punished on the spot
His master's naughty spouse and faithless friend;
A true tale which has edified each child,
Much more shall flourish favoured by our court!
Pages of proof this way, and that way proof,
And always—once again the case postponed.
Thus wrangled, brangled, jangled they a month,
—Only on paper, pleadings all in print,
Nor ever was, except i' the brains of men,
More noise by word of mouth than you hear now—
Till the court cut all short with "Judged, your cause.
"Receive our sentence! Praise God! We pronounce
"Count Guido devilish and damnable:
"His wife Pompilia in thought, word and deed,
"Was perfect pure, he murdered her for that:
"As for the Four who helped the One, all Five—
"Why, let employer and hirelings share alike
"In guilt and guilt's reward, the death their due!"
So was the trial at end, do you suppose?
"Guilty you find him, death you doom him to?
"Ay, were not Guido, more than needs, a priest,
"Priest and to spare!"—this was a shot reserved;
I learn this from epistles which begin
Here where the print ends,—see the pen and ink
Of the advocate, the ready at a pinch!—
"My client boasts the clerkly privilege,
"Has taken minor orders many enough,
"Shows still sufficient chrism upon his pate
"To neutralize a blood-stain: presbyter,
"Primæ tonsuræ, subdiaconus,
"Sacerdos, so he slips from underneath
"Your power, the temporal, slides inside the robe
"Of mother Church: to her we make appeal
"By the Pope, the Church's head!"
A parlous plea,
Put in with noticeable effect, it seems;
"Since straight,"—resumes the zealous orator,
Making a friend acquainted with the facts,—
"Once the word 'clericality' let fall,
"Procedure stopped and freer breath was drawn
"By all considerate and responsible Rome."
Quality took the decent part, of course;
Held by the husband, who was noble too:
Or, for the matter of that, a churl would side
With too-refined susceptibility,
And honour which, tender in the extreme,
Stung to the quick, must roughly right itself
At all risks, not sit still and whine for law
As a Jew would, if you squeezed him to the wall,
Brisk-trotting through the Ghetto. Nay, it seems,
Even the Emperor's Envoy had his say
To say on the subject; might not see, unmoved,
Civility menaced throughout Christendom
By too harsh measure dealt her champion here.
Lastly, what made all safe, the Pope was kind,
From his youth up, reluctant to take life,
If mercy might be just and yet show grace;
Much more unlikely then, in extreme age,
To take a life the general sense bade spare.
'T was plain that Guido would go scatheless yet.
But human promise, oh, how short of shine!
How topple down the piles of hope we rear!
How history proves … nay, read Herodotus!
Suddenly starting from a nap, as it were,
A dog-sleep with one shut, one open orb,
Cried the Pope's great self,—Innocent by name
And nature too, and eighty-six years old,
Antonio Pignatelli of Naples, Pope
Who had trod many lands, known many deeds,
Probed many hearts, beginning with his own,
And now was far in readiness for God,—
'T was he who first bade leave those souls in peace,
Those Jansenists, re-nicknamed Molinists,
('Gainst whom the cry went, like a frowsy tune,
Tickling men's ears—the sect for a quarter of an hour
I' the teeth of the world which, clown-like, loves to chew
Be it but a straw 'twixt work and whistling-while,
Taste some vituperation, bite away,
Whether at marjoram-sprig or garlic-clove,
Aught it may sport with, spoil, and then spit forth)
"Leave them alone," bade he, "those Molinists!
"Who may have other light than we perceive,
"Or why is it the whole world hates them thus?"
Also he peeled off that last scandal-rag
Of Nepotism; and so observed the poor
That men would merrily say, "Halt, deaf and blind,
"Who feed on fat things, leave the master's self
"To gather up the fragments of his feast,
'These be the nephews of Pope Innocent!—
"His own meal costs but five carlines a day,
"Poor-priest's allowance, for he claims no more."
—He cried of a sudden, this great good old Pope,
When they appealed in last resort to him,
"I have mastered the whole matter: I nothing doubt.
"Though Guido stood forth priest from head to heel,
"Instead of, as alleged, a piece of one,—
"And further, were he, from the tonsured scalp
"To the sandaled sole of him, my son and Christ's,
"Instead of touching us by finger-tip
"As you assert, and pressing up so close
"Only to set a blood-smutch on our robe,—
"I and Christ would renounce all right in him.
"Am I not Pope, and presently to die,
"And busied how to render my account,
"And shall I wait a day ere I decide
"On doing or not doing justice here?
"Cut off his head to-morrow by this time,
"Hang up his four mates, two on either hand,
"And end one business more!"
So said, so done—
Rather so writ, for the old Pope bade this,
I find, with his particular chirograph,
His own no such infirm hand, Friday night;
And next day, February Twenty Two,
Since our salvation Sixteen Ninety Eight,
—Not at the proper head-and-hanging-place
On bridge-foot close by Castle Angelo,
Where custom somewhat staled the spectacle,
('T was not so well i' the way of Rome, beside,
The noble Rome, the Rome of Guido's rank)
But at the city's newer gayer end,—
The cavalcading promenading place
Beside the gate and opposite the church
Under the Pincian gardens green with Spring,
'Neath the obelisk 'twixt the fountains in the Square,
Did Guido and his fellows find their fate,
All Rome for witness, and—my writer adds—
Remonstrant in its universal grief,
Since Guido had the suffrage of all Rome.
This is the bookful; thus far take the truth,
The untempered gold, the fact untampered with,
The mere ring-metal ere the ring be made!
And what has hitherto come of it? Who preserves
The memory of this Guido, and his wife
Pompilia, more than Ademollo's name,
The etcher of those prints, two crazie each,
Saved by a stone from snowing broad the Square
With scenic backgrounds? Was this truth of force?
Able to take its own part as truth should,
Sufficient, self-sustaining? Why, if so—
Yonder's a fire, into it goes my book,
As who shall say me nay, and what the loss?
You know the tale already: I may ask,
Rather than think to tell you, more thereof,—
Ask you not merely who were he and she,
Husband and wife, what manner of mankind,
But how you hold concerning this and that
Other yet-unnamed actor in the piece.
The young frank handsome courtly Canon, now,
The priest, declared the lover of the wife,
He who, no question, did elope with her,
For certain bring the tragedy about,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi;—his strange course
I' the matter, was it right or wrong or both?
Then the old couple, slaughtered with the wife
By the husband as accomplices in crime,
Those Comparini, Pietro and his spouse,—
What say you to the right or wrong of that,
When, at a known name whispered through the door
Of a lone villa on a Christmas night,
It opened that the joyous hearts inside
Might welcome as it were an angel-guest
Come in Christ's name to knock and enter, sup
And satisfy the loving ones he saved;
And so did welcome devils and their death?
I have been silent on that circumstance
Although the couple passed for close of kin
To wife and husband, were by some accounts
Pompilia's very parents: you know best.
Also that infant the great joy was for,
That Gaetano, the wife's two-weeks' babe,
The husband's first-born child, his son and heir,
Whose birth and being turned his night to day—
Why must the father kill the mother thus
Because she bore his son and saved himself?
Well, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!) and will have your proper laugh
At the dark question, laugh it! I laugh first.
Truth must prevail, the proverb vows; and truth
—Here is it all i' the book at last, as first
There it was all i' the heads and hearts of Rome
Gentle and simple, never to fall nor fade
Nor be forgotten. Yet, a little while,
The passage of a century or so,
Decads thrice five, and here's time paid his tax,
Oblivion gone home with her harvesting,
And all left smooth again as scythe could shave.
Far from beginning with you London folk,
I took my book to Rome first, tried truth's power
On likely people. "Have you met such names?
"Is a tradition extant of such facts?
"Your law-courts stand, your records frown a-row:
"What if I rove and rummage?" "—Why, you'll waste
"Your pains and end as wise as you began!"
Everyone snickered: "names and facts thus old
"Are newer much than Europe news we find
"Down in to-day's Diario. Records, quotha?
"Why, the French burned them, what else do the French?
"The rap-and-rending nation! And it tells
"Against the Church, no doubt,—another gird
"At the Temporality, your Trial, of course?"
"—Quite otherwise this time," submitted I;
"Clean for the Church and dead against the world,
"The flesh and the devil, does it tell for once."
"—The rarer and the happier! All the same,
"Content you with your treasure of a book,
"And waive what's wanting! Take a friend's advice!
"It's not the custom of the country. Mend
"Your ways indeed and we may stretch a point:
"Go get you manned by Manning and new-manned
"By Newman and, mayhap, wise-manned to boot
"By Wiseman, and we'll see or else we won't!
"Thanks meantime for the story, long and strong,
"A pretty piece of narrative enough,
"Which scarce ought so to drop out, one would think,
"From the more curious annals of our kind.
"Do you tell the story, now, in off-hand style,
"Straight from the book? Or simply here and there,
"(The while you vault it through the loose and large)
"Hang to a hint? Or is there book at all,
"And don't you deal in poetry, make-believe,
"And the white lies it sounds like?"
Yes and no!
From the book, yes; thence bit by bit I dug
The lingot truth, that memorable day,
Assayed and knew my piecemeal gain was gold,—
Yes; but from something else surpassing that,
Something of mine which, mixed up with the mass,
Made it bear hammer and be firm to file.
Fancy with fact is just one fact the more;
To-wit, that fancy has informed, transpierced,
Thridded and so thrown fast the facts else free,
As right through ring and ring runs the djereed
And binds the loose, one bar without a break.
I fused my live soul and that inert stuff,
Before attempting smithcraft, on the night
After the day when,—truth thus grasped and gained,—
The book was shut and done with and laid by
On the cream-coloured massive agate, broad
'Neath the twin cherubs in the tarnished frame
O' the mirror, tall thence to the ceiling-top.
And from the reading, and that slab I leant
My elbow on, the while I read and read,
I turned, to free myself and find the world,
And stepped out on the narrow terrace, built
Over the street and opposite the church,
And paced its lozenge-brickwork sprinkled cool;
Because Felice-church-side stretched, a-glow
Through each square window fringed for festival,
Whence came the clear voice of the cloistered ones
Chanting a chant made for midsummer nights—
I know not what particular praise of God,
It always came and went with June. Beneath
I' the street, quick shown by openings of the sky
When flame fell silently from cloud to cloud,
Richer than that gold snow Jove rained on Rhodes,
The townsmen walked by twos and threes, and talked,
Drinking the blackness in default of air—
A busy human sense beneath my feet:
While in and out the terrace-plants, and round
One branch of tall datura, waxed and waned
The lamp-fly lured there, wanting the white flower.
Over the roof o' the lighted church I looked
A bowshot to the street's end, north away
Out of the Roman gate to the Roman road
By the river, till I felt the Apennine.
And there would lie Arezzo, the man's town,
The woman's trap and cage and torture-place,
Also the stage where the priest played his part,
A spectacle for angels,—ay, indeed,
There lay Arezzo! Farther then I fared,
Feeling my way on through the hot and dense,
Romeward, until I found the wayside inn
By Castelnuovo's few mean hut-like homes
Huddled together on the hill-foot bleak,
Bare, broken only by that tree or two
Against the sudden bloody splendour poured
Cursewise in day's departure by the sun
O'er the low house-roof of that squalid inn
Where they three, for the first time and the last,
Husband and wife and priest, met face to face.
Whence I went on again, the end was near,
Step by step, missing none and marking all,
Till Rome itself, the ghastly goal, I reached.
Why, all the while,—how could it otherwise?—
The life in me abolished the death of things,
Deep calling unto deep: as then and there
Acted itself over again once more
The tragic piece. I saw with my own eyes
In Florence as I trod the terrace, breathed
The beauty and the fearfulness of night,
How it had run, this round from Rome to Rome—
Because, you are to know, they lived at Rome,
Pompilia's parents, as they thought themselves,
Two poor ignoble hearts who did their best
Part God's way, part the other way than God's,
To somehow make a shift and scramble through
The world's mud, careless if it splashed and spoiled,
Provided they might so hold high, keep clean
Their child's soul, one soul white enough for three,
And lift it to whatever star should stoop,
What possible sphere of purer life than theirs
Should come in aid of whiteness hard to save.
I saw the star stoop, that they strained to touch,
And did touch and depose their treasure on,
As Guido Franceschini took away
Pompilia to be his for evermore,
While they sang "Now let us depart in peace,
"Having beheld thy glory, Guido's wife!"
I saw the star supposed, but fog o' the fen,
Gilded star-fashion by a glint from hell;
Having been heaved up, haled on its gross way,
By hands unguessed before, invisible help
From a dark brotherhood, and specially
Two obscure goblin creatures, fox-faced this,
Cat-clawed the other, called his next of kin
By Guido the main monster,—cloaked and caped,
Making as they were priests, to mock God more,—
Abate Paul, Canon Girolamo.
These who had rolled the starlike pest to Rome
And stationed it to suck up and absorb
The sweetness of Pompilia, rolled again
That bloated bubble, with her soul inside,
Back to Arezzo and a palace there—
Or say, a fissure in the honest earth
Whence long ago had curled the vapour first,
Blown big by nether firs to appal day:
It touched home, broke, and blasted far and wide.
I saw the cheated couple find the cheat
And guess what foul rite they were captured for,—
Too fain to follow over hill and dale
That child of theirs caught up thus in the cloud
And carried by the Prince o' the Power of the Air
Whither he would, to wilderness or sea.
I saw them, in the potency of fear,
Break somehow through the satyr-family
(For a grey mother with a monkey-mien,
Mopping and mowing, was apparent too,
As, confident of capture, all took hands
And danced about the captives in a ring)
—Saw them break through, breathe safe, at Rome again,
Saved by the selfish instinct, losing so
Their loved one left with haters. These I saw,
In recrudescency of baffled hate,
Prepare to wring the uttermost revenge
From body and soul thus left them: all was sure,
Fire laid and cauldron set, the obscene ring traced,
The victim stripped and prostrate: what of God?
The cleaving of a cloud, a cry, a crash,
Quenched lay their cauldron, cowered i' the dust the crew,
As, in a glory of armour like Saint George,
Out again sprang the young good beauteous priest
Bearing away the lady in his arms,
Saved for a splendid minute and no more.
For, whom i' the path did that priest come upon,
He and the poor lost lady borne so brave,
—Checking the song of praise in me, had else
Swelled to the full for God's will done on earth—
Whom but a dusk misfeatured messenger,
No other than the angel of this life,
Whose care is lest men see too much at once.
He made the sign, such God-glimpse must suffice,
Nor prejudice the Prince o' the Power of the Air,
Whose ministration piles us overhead
What we call, first, earth's roof and, last, heaven's floor,
Now grate o' the trap, then outlet of the cage:
So took the lady, left the priest alone,
And once more canopied the world with black.
But through the blackness I saw Rome again,
And where a solitary villa stood
In a lone garden-quarter: it was eve,
The second of the year, and oh so cold!
Ever and anon there flittered through the air
A snow-flake, and a scanty couch of snow
Crusted the grass-walk and the garden-mould.
All was grave, silent, sinister,—when, ha?
Glimmeringly did a pack of were-wolves pad
The snow, those flames were Guido's eyes in front,
And all five found and footed it, the track,
To where a threshold-streak of warmth and light
Betrayed the villa-door with life inside,
While an inch outside were those blood-bright eyes,
And black lips wrinkling o'er the flash of teeth,
And tongues that lolled—Oh God that madest man!
They parleyed in their language. Then one whined—
That was the policy and master-stroke—
Deep in his throat whispered what seemed a name—
"Open to Caponsacchi!" Guido cried:
"Gabriel!" cried Lucifer at Eden-gate.
Wide as a heart, opened the door at once,
Showing the joyous couple, and their child
The two-weeks' mother, to the wolves, the wolves
To them. Close eyes! And when the corpses lay
Stark-stretched, and those the wolves, their wolf-work done,
Were safe-embosomed by the night again,
I knew a necessary change in things;
As when the worst watch of the night gives way,
And there comes duly, to take cognizance,
The scrutinizing eye-point of some star—
And who despairs of a new daybreak now?
Lo, the first ray protruded on those five!
It reached them, and each felon writhed transfixed.
Awhile they palpitated on the spear
Motionless over Tophet: stand or fall?
"I say, the spear should fall—should stand, I say!"
Cried the world come to judgment, granting grace
Or dealing doom according to world's wont,
Those world's-bystanders grouped on Rome's crossroad
At prick and summons of the primal curse
Which bids man love as well as make a lie.
There prattled they, discoursed the right and wrong,
Turned wrong to right, proved wolves sheep and sheep wolves,
So that you scarce distinguished fell from fleece;
Till out spoke a great guardian of the fold,
Stood up, put forth his hand that held the crook,
And motioned that the arrested point decline:
Horribly off, the wriggling dead-weight reeled,
Rushed to the bottom and lay ruined there.
Though still at the pit's mouth, despite the smoke
O' the burning, tarriers turned again to talk
And trim the balance, and detect at least
A touch of wolf in what showed whitest sheep,
A cross of sheep redeeming the whole wolf,—
Vex truth a little longer:—less and less,
Because years came and went, and more and more
Brought new lies with them to be loved in turn.
Till all at once the memory of the thing,—
The fact that, wolves or sheep, such creatures were,—
Which hitherto, however men supposed,
Had somehow plain and pillar-like prevailed
I' the midst of them, indisputably fact,
Granite, time's tooth should grate against, not graze,—
Why, this proved sandstone, friable, fast to fly
And give its grain away at wish o' the wind.
Ever and ever more diminutive,
Base gone, shaft lost, only entablature,
Dwindled into no bigger than a book,
Lay of the column; and that little, left
By the roadside 'mid the ordure, shards and weeds.
Until I haply, wandering that lone way,
Kicked it up, turned it over, and recognized,
For all the crumblement, this abacus,
This square old yellow book,—could calculate
By this the lost proportions of the style.
This was it from, my fancy with those facts,
I used to tell the tale, turned gay to grave,
But lacked a listener seldom; such alloy,
Such substance of me interfused the gold
Which, wrought into a shapely ring therewith,
Hammered and filed, fingered and favoured, last
Lay ready for the renovating wash
O' the water. "How much of the tale was true?"
I disappeared; the book grew all in all;
The lawyers' pleadings swelled back to their size,—
Doubled in two, the crease upon them yet,
For more commodity of carriage, see!—
And these are letters, veritable sheets
That brought posthaste the news to Florence, writ
At Rome the day Count Guido died, we find,
To stay the craving of a client there,
Who bound the same and so produced my book.
Lovers of dead truth, did ye fare the worse?
Lovers of live truth, found ye false my tale?
Well, now; there's nothing in nor out o' the world
Good except truth: yet this, the something else,
What's this then, which proves good yet seems untrue?
This that I mixed with truth, motions of mine
That quickened, made the inertness malleolable
O'the gold was not mine,—what's your name for this?
Are means to the end, themselves in part the end?
Is fiction which makes fact alive, fact too?
The somehow may be thishow.
I find first
Writ down for very A B C of fact,
"In the beginning God made heaven and earth;"
From which, no matter with what lisp, I spell
And speak you out a consequence—that man,
Man,—as befits the made, the inferior thing,—
Purposed, since made, to grow, not make in turn,
Yet forced to try and make, else fail to grow,—
Formed to rise, reach at, if not grasp and gain
The good beyond him,—which attempt is growth,—
Repeats God's process in man's due degree,
Attaining man's proportionate result,—
Creates, no, but resuscitates, perhaps.
Inalienable, the arch-prerogative
Which turns thought, act—conceives, expresses too!
No less, man, bounded, yearning to be free,
May so proiect his surplusage of soul
In search of body, so add self to self
By owning what lay ownerless before,—
So find, so fill full, so appropriate forms—
That, although nothing which had never life
Shall get life from him, be, not having been,
Yet, something dead may get to live again,
Something with too much life or not enough,
Which, either way imperfect, ended once:
An end whereat man's impulse intervenes,
Makes new beginning, starts the dead alive,
Completes the incomplete and saves the thing.
Man's breath were vain to light a virgin wick,—
Half-burned-out, all but quite-quenched wicks o' the lamp
Stationed for temple-service on this earth,
These indeed let him breathe on and relume!
For such man's feat is, in the due degree,
—Mimic creation, galvanism for life,
But still a glory portioned in the scale.
Why did the mage say,—feeling as we are wont
For truth, and stopping midway short of truth,
And resting on a lie,—"I raise a ghost"?
"Because," he taught adepts, "man makes not man.
"Yet by a special gift, an art of arts,
"More insight and more outsight and much more
"Will to use both of these than boast my mates,
"I can detach from me, commission forth
"Half of my soul; which in its pilgrimage
"O'er old unwandered waste ways of the world,
"May chance upon some fragment of a whole,
"Rag of flesh, scrap of bone in dim disuse,
"Smoking flax that fed fire once: prompt therein
"I enter, spark-like, put old powers to play,
"Push lines out to the limit, lead forth last
"(By a moonrise through a ruin of a crypt)
"What shall be mistily seen, murmuringly heard,
"Mistakenly felt: then write my name with Faust's!"
Oh, Faust, why Faust? Was not Elisha once?—
Who bade them lay his staff on a corpse-face.
There was no voice, no hearing: he went in
Therefore, and shut the door upon them twain,
And prayed unto the Lord: and he went up
And lay upon the corpse, dead on the couch,
And put his mouth upon its mouth, his eyes
Upon its eyes, his hands upon its hands,
And stretched him on the flesh; the flesh waxed warm:
And he returned, walked to and fro the house,
And went up, stretched him on the flesh again,
And the eyes opened. 'T is a credible feat
With the right man and way.
Enough of me!
The Book! I turn its medicinable leaves
In London now till, as in Florence erst,
A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb,
And lights my eye, and lifts me by the hair,
Letting me have my will again with these
—How title I the dead alive once more?
Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine,
Descended of an ancient house, though poor,
A beak-nosed bushy-bearded black-haired lord,
Lean, pallid, low of stature yet robust,
Fifty years old,—having four years ago
Married Pompilia Comparini, young,
Good, beautiful, at Rome, where she was born,
And brought her to Arezzo, where they lived
Unhappy lives, whatever curse the cause,—
This husband, taking four accomplices,
Followed this wife to Rome, where she was fled
From their Arezzo to find peace again,
In convoy, eight months earlier, of a priest,
Aretine also, of still nobler birth,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi,—caught her there
Quiet in a villa on a Christmas night,
With only Pietro and Violante by,
Both her putative parents; killed the three,
Aged, they, seventy each, and she, seventeen,
And, two weeks since, the mother of his babe
First-born and heir to what the style was worth
O' the Guido who determined, dared and did
This deed just as he purposed point by point.
Then, bent upon escape, but hotly pressed,
And captured with his co-mates that same night,
He, brought to trial, stood on this defence—
Injury to his honour caused the act;
And since his wife was false, (as manifest
By flight from home in such companionship,)
Death, punishment deserved of the false wife
And faithless parents who abetted her
I' the flight aforesaid, wronged nor God nor man.
"Nor false she, nor yet faithless they," replied
The accuser; "cloaked and masked this murder glooms;
"True was Pompilia, loyal too the pair;
"Out of the man's own heart a monster curled
"Which crime coiled with connivancy at crime—
"His victim's breast, he tells you, hatched and reared;
"Uncoil we and stretch stark the worm of hell!"
A month the trial swayed this way and that
Ere judgment settled down on Guido's guilt;
Then was the Pope, that good Twelfth Innocent,
Appealed to: who well weighed what went before,
Affirmed the guilt and gave the guilty doom.
Let this old woe step on the stage again!
Act itself o'er anew for men to judge,
Not by the very sense and sight indeed—
(Which take at best imperfect cognizance,
Since, how heart moves brain, and how both move hand,
What mortal ever in entirety saw?)
—No dose of purer truth than man digests,
But truth with falsehood, milk that feeds him now,
Not strong meat he may get to bear some day—
To-wit, by voices we call evidence,
Uproar in the echo, live fact deadened down,
Talked over, bruited abroad, whispered away,
Yet helping us to all we seem to hear:
For how else know we save by worth of word?
Here are the voices presently shall sound
In due succession. First, the world's outcry
Around the rush and ripple of any fact
Fallen stonewise, plumb on the smooth face of things;
The world's guess, as it crowds the bank o' the pool,
At what were figure and substance, by their splash:
Then, by vibrations in the general mind,
At depth of deed already out of reach.
This threefold murder of the day before,—
Say, Half-Rome's feel after the vanished truth;
Honest enough, as the way is: all the same,
Harbouring in the centre of its sense
A hidden germ of failure, shy but sure,
To neutralize that honesty and leave
That feel for truth at fault, as the way is too.
Some prepossession such as starts amiss,
By but a hair's breadth at the shoulder-blade,
The arm o' the feeler, dip he ne'er so bold;
So leads arm waveringly, lets fall wide
O' the mark its finger, sent to find and fix
Truth at the bottom, that deceptive speck.
With this Half-Rome,—the source of swerving, call
Over-belief in Guido's right and wrong
Rather than in Pompilia's wrong and right:
Who shall say how, who shall say why? 'T is there—
The instinctive theorizing whence a fact
Looks to the eye as the eye likes the look.
Gossip in a public place, a sample-speech.
Some worthy, with his previous hint to find
A husband's side the safer, and no whit
Aware he is not Æacus the while,—
How such an one supposes and states fact
To whosoever of a multitude
Will listen, and perhaps prolong thereby
The not-unpleasant flutter at the breast,
Born of a certain spectacle shut in
By the church Lorenzo opposite. So, they lounge
Midway the mouth o'the street, on Corso side,
'Twixt palace Fiano and palace Ruspoli,
Linger and listen; keeping clear o' the crowd,
Yet wishful one could lend that crowd one's eyes,
(So universal is its plague of squint)
And make hearts beat our time that flutter false:
—All for the truth's sake, mere truth, nothing else!
How Half-Rome found for Guido much excuse.
Next, from Rome's other half, the opposite feel
For truth with a like swerve, like unsuccess,—
Or if success, by no skill but more luck
This time, through siding rather with the wife,
Because a fancy-fit inclined that way,
Than with the husband. One wears drab, one pink;
Who wears pink, ask him "Which shall win the race,
"Of coupled runners like as egg and egg?"
"—Why, if I must choose, he with the pink scarf."
Doubtless for some such reason choice fell here.
A piece of public talk to correspond
At the next stage of the story; just a day
Let pass and new day brings the proper change.
Another sample-speech i' the market-place
O' the Barberini by the Capucins;
Where the old Triton, at his fountain-sport,
Bernini's creature plated to the paps,
Puffs up steel sleet which breaks to diamond dust,
A spray of sparkles snorted from his conch,
High over the caritellas, out o' the way
O' the motley merchandizing multitude.
Our murder has been done three days ago,
The frost is over and gone, the south wind laughs,
And, to the very tiles of each red roof
A-smoke i' the sunshine, Rome lies gold and glad:
So, listen how, to the other half of Rome,
Pompilia seemed a saint and martyr both!
Then, yet another day let come and go,
With pause prelusive still of novelty,
Hear a fresh speaker!—neither this nor that
Half-Rome aforesaid; something bred of both:
One and one breed the inevitable three.
Such is the personage harangues you next;
The elaborated product, tertium quid:
Rome's first commotion in subsidence gives
The curd o'the cream, flower o' the wheat, as it were,
And finer sense o' the city. Is this plain?
You get a reasoned statement of the case,
Eventual verdict of the curious few
Who care to sift a business to the bran
Nor coarsely bolt it like the simpler sort.
Here, after ignorance, instruction speaks;
Here, clarity of candour, history's soul,
The critical mind, in short: no gossip-guess.
What the superior social section thinks,
In person of some man of quality
Who,—breathing musk from lace-work and brocade,
His solitaire amid the flow of frill,
Powdered peruke on nose, and bag at back,
And cane dependent from the ruffled wrist,—
Harangues in silvery and selectest phrase
'Neath waxlight in a glorified saloon
Where mirrors multiply the girandole:
Courting the approbation of no mob,
But Eminence This and All-Illustrious That
Who take snuff softly, range in well-bred ring,
Card-table-quitters for observance' sake,
Around the argument, the rational word—
Still, spite its weight and worth, a sample-speech.
How Quality dissertated on the case.
So much for Rome and rumour; smoke comes first:
Once let smoke rise untroubled, we descry
Clearlier what tongues of flame may spire and spit
To eye and ear, each with appropriate tinge
According to its food, or pure or foul.
The actors, no mere rumours of the act,
Intervene. First you hear Count Guido's voice,
In a small chamber that adjoins the court,
Where Governor and Judges, summoned thence,
Tommati, Venturini and the rest,
Find the accused ripe for declaring truth.
Soft-cushioned sits he; yet shifts seat, shirks touch,
As, with a twitchy brow and wincing lip
And cheek that changes to all kinds of white,
He proffers his defence, in tones subdued
Near to mock-mildness now, so mournful seems
The obtuser sense truth fails to satisfy;
Now, moved, from pathos at the wrong endured,
To passion; for the natural man is roused
At fools who first do wrong then pour the blame
Of their wrong-doing, Satan-like, on Job.
Also his tongue at times is hard to curb;
Incisive, nigh satiric bites the phrase,
Rough-raw, yet somehow claiming privilege
—It is so hard for shrewdness to admit
Folly means no harm when she calls black white!
—Eruption momentary at the most,
Modified forthwith by a fall o' the fire,
Sage acquiescence; for the world's the world,
And, what it errs in, Judges rectify:
He feels he has a fist, then folds his arms
Crosswise and makes his mind up to be meek.
And never once does he detach his eye
From those ranged there to slay him or to save,
But does his best man's-service for himself,
Despite,—what twitches brow and makes lip wince,—
His limbs' late taste of what was called the Cord,
Or Vigil-torture more facetiously.
Even so; they were wont to tease the truth
Out of loth witness (toying, trifling time)
By torture: 't was a trick, a vice of the age,
Here, there and everywhere, what would you have?
Religion used to tell Humanity
She gave him warrant or denied him course.
And since the course was much to his own mind,
Of pinching flesh and pulling bone from bone
To unhusk truth a-hiding in its hulls,
Nor whisper of a warning stopped the way,
He, in their joint behalf, the burly slave,
Bestirred him, mauled and maimed all recusants,
While, prim in place, Religion overlooked;
And so had done till doomsday, never a sign
Nor sound of interference from her mouth,
But that at last the burly slave wiped brow,
Let eye give notice as if soul were there,
Muttered "'T is a vile trick, foolish more than vile,
"Should have been counted sin; I make it so:
"At any rate no more of it for me—
"Nay, for I break the torture-engine thus!"
Then did Religion start up, stare amain,
Look round for help and see none, smile and say
"What, broken is the rack? Well done of thee!
"Did I forget to abrogate its use?
"Be the mistake in common with us both!
"—One more fault our blind age shall answer for,
"Down in my book denounced though it must be
"Somewhere. Henceforth find truth by milder means!"
Ah but, Religion, did we wait for thee
To ope the book, that serves to sit upon,
And pick such place out, we should wait indeed!
That is all history: and what is not now,
Was then, defendants found it to their cost.
How Guido, after being tortured, spoke.
Also hear Caponsacchi who comes next,
Man and priest—could you comprehend the coil!—
In days when that was rife which now is rare.
How, mingling each its multifarious wires,
Now heaven, now earth, now heaven and earth at once,
Had plucked at and perplexed their puppet here,
Played off the young frank personable priest;
Sworn fast and tonsured plain heaven's celibate,
And yet earth's clear-accepted servitor,
A courtly spiritual Cupid, squire of dames
By law of love and mandate of the mode.
The Church's own, or why parade her seal,
Wherefore that chrism and consecrative work?
Yet verily the world's, or why go badged
A prince of sonneteers and lutanists,
Show colour of each vanity in vogue
Borne with decorum due on blameless breast?
All that is changed now, as he tells the court
How he had played the part excepted at;
Tells it, moreover, now the second time:
Since, for his cause of scandal, his own share
I' the flight from home and husband of the wife,
He has been censured, punished in a sort
By relegation,—exile, we should say,
To a short distance for a little time,—
Whence he is summoned on a sudden now,
Informed that she, he thought to save, is lost,
And, in a breath, bidden re-tell his tale,
Since the first telling somehow missed effect,
And then advise in the matter. There stands he,
While the same grim black-panelled chamber blinks
As though rubbed shiny with the sins of Rome
Told the same oak for ages—wave-washed wall
Against which sets a sea of wickedness.
There, where you yesterday heard Guido speak,
Speaks Caponsacchi; and there face him too
Tommati, Venturini and the rest
Who, eight months earlier, scarce repressed the smile,
Forewent the wink; waived recognition so
Of peccadillos incident to youth,
Especially youth high-born; for youth means love,
Vows can't change nature, priests are only men,
And love likes stratagem and subterfuge
Which age, that once was youth, should recognize,
May blame, but needs not press too hard upon.
Here sit the old Judges then, but with no grace
Of reverend carriage, magisterial port:
For why? The accused of eight months since,—the same
Who cut the conscious figure of a fool,
Changed countenance, dropped bashful gaze to ground,
While hesitating for an answer then,—
Now is grown judge himself, terrifies now
This, now the other culprit called a judge,
Whose turn it is to stammer and look strange,
As he speaks rapidly, angrily, speech that smites:
And they keep silence, bear blow after blow,
Because the seeming-solitary man,
Speaking for God, may have an audience too,
Invisible, no discreet judge provokes.
How the priest Caponsacchi said his say.
Then a soul sighs its lowest and its last
After the loud ones,—so much breath remains
Unused by the four-days'-dying; for she lived
Thus long, miraculously long, 't was thought,
Just that Pompilia might defend herself.
How, while the hireling and the alien stoop,
Comfort, yet question,—since the time is brief,
And folk, allowably inquisitive,
Encircle the low pallet where she lies
In the good house that helps the poor to die,—
Pompilia tells the story of her life.
For friend and lover,—leech and man of law
Do service; busy helpful ministrants
As varied in their calling as their mind,
Temper and age: and yet from all of these,
About the white bed under the arched roof,
Is somehow, as it were, evolved a one,—
Small separate sympathies combined and large,
Nothings that were, grown something very much:
As if the bystanders gave each his straw,
All he had, though a trifle in itself,
Which, plaited all together, made a Cross
Fit to die looking on and praying with,
Just as well as if ivory or gold.
So, to the common kindliness she speaks,
There being scarce more privacy at the last
For mind than body: but she is used to bear,
And only unused to the brotherly look.
How she endeavoured to explain her life.
Then, since a Trial ensued, a touch o' the same
To sober us, flustered with frothy talk,
And teach our common sense its helplessness.
For why deal simply with divining-rod,
Scrape where we fancy secret sources flow,
And ignore law, the recognized machine,
Elaborate display of pipe and wheel
Framed to unchoke, pump up and pour apace
Truth till a flowery foam shall wash the world?
The patent truth-extracting process,—ha?
Let us make that grave mystery turn one wheel,
Give you a single grind of law at least!
One orator, of two on either side,
Shall teach us the puissance of the tongue
—That is, o' the pen which simulated tongue
On paper and saved all except the sound
Which never was. Law's speech beside law's thought?
That were too stunning, too immense an odds:
That point of vantage law lets nobly pass.
One lawyer shall admit us to behold
The manner of the making out a case,
First fashion of a speech; the chick in egg,
The masterpiece law's bosom incubates.
How Don Giacinto of the Arcangeli,
Called Procurator of the Poor at Rome,
Now advocate for Guido and his mates,—
The jolly learned man of middle age,
Cheek and jowl all in laps with fat and law,
Mirthful as mighty, yet, as great hearts use,
Despite the name and fame that tempt our flesh,
Constant to that devotion of the hearth,
Still captive in those dear domestic ties!—
How he,—having a cause to triumph with,
All kind of interests to keep intact,
More than one efficacious personage
To tranquillize, conciliate and secure,
And above all, public anxiety
To quiet, show its Guido in good hands,—
Also, as if such burdens were too light,
A certain family-feast to claim his care,
The birthday-banquet for the only son—
Paternity at smiling strife with law—
How he brings both to buckle in one bond;
And, thick at throat, with waterish under-eye,
Turns to his task and settles in his seat
And puts his utmost means in practice now:
Wheezes out law-phrase, whiffles Latin forth,
And, just as though roast lamb would never be,
Makes logic levigate the big crime small:
Rubs palm on palm, rakes foot with itchy foot,
Conceives and inchoates the argument,
Sprinkling each flower appropriate to the time,
—Ovidian quip or Ciceronian crank,
A-bubble in the larynx while he laughs,
As he had fritters deep down frying there.
How he turns, twists, and tries the oily thing
Shall be—first speech for Guido 'gainst the Fisc.
Then with a skip as it were from heel to head,
Leaving yourselves fill up the middle bulk
O' the Trial, reconstruct its shape august,
From such exordium clap we to the close;
Give you, if we dare wing to such a height,
The absolute glory in some full-grown speech
On the other side, some finished butterfly,
Some breathing diamond-flake with leaf-gold fans,
That takes the air, no trace of worm it was,
Or cabbage-bed it had production from.
Giovambattista o' the Bottini, Fisc,
Pompilia's patron by the chance of the hour,
To-morrow her persecutor,—composite, he,
As becomes who must meet such various calls—
Odds of age joined in him with ends of youth.
A man of ready smile and facile tear,
Improvised hopes, despairs at nod and beck,
And language—ah, the gift of eloquence!
Language that goes, goes, easy as a glove,
O'er good and evil, smoothens both to one.
Rashness helps caution with him, fires the straw,
In free enthusiastic careless fit,
On the first proper pinnacle of rock
Which offers, as reward for all that zeal,
To lure some bark to founder and bring gain:
While calm sits Caution, rapt with heavenward eye,
A true confessor's gaze, amid the glare
Beaconing to the breaker, death and hell.
"Well done, thou good and faithful" she approves:
"Hadst thou let slip a faggot to the beach,
"The crew might surely spy thy precipice
"And save their boat; the simple and the slow
"Might so, forsooth, forestall the wrecker's fee!
"Let the next crew be wise and hail in time!"
Just so compounded is the outside man,
Blue juvenile pure eye and pippin cheek,
And brow all prematurely soiled and seamed
With sudden age, bright devastated hair.
Ah, but you miss the very tones o' the voice,
The scrannel pipe that screams in heights of head,
As, in his modest studio, all alone,
The tall wight stands a-tiptoe, strives and strains,
Both eyes shut, like the cockerel that would crow,
Tries to his own self amorously o'er
What never will be uttered else than so—
Since to the four walls, Forum and Mars' Hill,
Speaks out the poesy which, penned, turns prose.
Clavecinist debarred his instrument,
He yet thrums—shirking neither turn nor trill,
With desperate finger on dumb table-edge—
The sovereign rondo, shall conclude his Suite,
Charm an imaginary audience there,
From old Corelli to young Haendel, both
I' the flesh at Rome, ere he perforce go print
The cold black score, mere music for the mind—
The last speech against Guido and his gang,
With special end to prove Pompilia pure.
How the Fisc vindicates Pompilia's fame.
Then comes the all but end, the ultimate
Judgment save yours. Pope Innocent the Twelfth,
Simple, sagacious, mild yet resolute,
With prudence, probity and—what beside
From the other world he feels impress at times,
Having attained to fourscore years and six,—
How, when the court found Guido and the rest
Guilty, but law supplied a subterfuge
And passed the final sentence to the Pope,
He, bringing his intelligence to bear
This last time on what ball behoves him drop
In the urn, or white or black, does drop a black,
Send five souls more to just precede his own,
Stand him in stead and witness, if need were,
How he is wont to do God's work on earth.
The manner of his sitting out the dim
Droop of a sombre February day
In the plain closet where he does such work,
With, from all Peter's treasury, one stool,
One table and one lathen crucifix.
There sits the Pope, his thoughts for company;
Grave but not sad,—nay, something like a cheer
Leaves the lips free to be benevolent,
Which, all day long, did duty firm and fast.
A cherishing there is of foot and knee,
A chafing loose-skinned large-veined hand with hand,—
What steward but knows when stewardship earns its wage,
May levy praise, anticipate the lord?
He reads, notes, lays the papers down at last,
Muses, then takes a turn about the room;
Unclasps a huge tome in an antique guise,
Primitive print and tongue half obsolete,
That stands him in diurnal stead; opes page,
Finds place where falls the passage to be conned
According to an order long in use:
And, as he comes upon the evening's chance,
Starts somewhat, solemnizes straight his smile,
Then reads aloud that portion first to last,
And at the end lets flow his own thoughts forth
Likewise aloud, for respite and relief,
Till by the dreary relics of the west
Wan through the half-moon window, all his light,
He bows the head while the lips move in prayer,
Writes some three brief lines, signs and seals the same,
Tinkles a hand-bell, bids the obsequious Sir
Who puts foot presently o' the closet-sill
He watched outside of, bear as superscribed
That mandate to the Governor forthwith:
Then heaves abroad his cares in one good sigh,
Traverses corridor with no arm's help,
And so to sup as a clear conscience should.
The manner of the judgment of the Pope.
Then must speak Guido yet a second time,
Satan's old saw being apt here—skin for skin,
All a man hath that will he give for life.
While life was graspable and gainable,
And bird-like buzzed her wings round Guido's brow,
Not much truth stiffened out the web of words
He wove to catch her: when away she flew
And death came, death's breath rivelled up the lies,
Left bare the metal thread, the fibre fine
Of truth, i' the spinning: the true words shone last.
How Guido, to another purpose quite,
Speaks and despairs, the last night of his life,
In that New Prison by Castle Angelo
At the bridge foot: the same man, another voice.
On a stone bench in a close fetid cell,
Where the hot vapour of an agony,
Struck into drops on the cold wall, runs down—
Horrible worms made out of sweat and tears—
There crouch, well nigh to the knees in dungeon-straw,
Lit by the sole lamp suffered for their sake,
Two awe-struck figures, this a Cardinal,
That an Abate, both of old styled friends
O' the thing part man part monster in the midst,
So changed is Franceschini's gentle blood.
The tiger-cat screams now, that whined before,
That pried and tried and trod so gingerly,
Till in its silkiness the trap-teeth joined;
Then you know how the bristling fury foams.
They listen, this wrapped in his folds of red,
While his feet fumble for the filth below;
The other, as beseems a stouter heart,
Working his best with beads and cross to ban
The enemy that comes in like a flood
Spite of the standard set up, verily
And in no trope at all, against him there
For at the prison-gate, just a few steps
Outside, already, in the doubtful dawn,
Thither, from this side and from that, slow sweep
And settle down in silence solidly,
Crow-wise, the frightful Brotherhood of Death.
Black-hatted and black-hooded huddle they,
Black rosaries a-dangling from each waist;
So take they their grim station at the door,
Torches lit, skull-and-cross-bones-banner spread,
And that gigantic Christ with open arms,
Grounded. Nor lacks there aught but that the group
Break forth, intone the lamentable psalm,
"Out of the deeps, Lord, have I cried to thee!"—
When inside, from the true profound, a sign
Shall bear intelligence that the foe is foiled,
Count Guido Franceschini has confessed,
And is absolved and reconciled with God.
Then they, intoning, may begin their march,
Make by the longest way for the People's Square,
Carry the criminal to his crime's award:
A mob to cleave, a scaffolding to reach,
Two gallows and Mannaia crowning all.
How Guido made defence a second time.
Finally, even as thus by step and step
I led you from the level of to-day
Up to the summit of so long ago,
Here, whence I point you the wide prospect round—
Let me, by like steps, slope you back to smooth,
Land you on mother-earth, no whit the worse,
To feed o' the fat o' the furrow: free to dwell,
Taste our time's better things profusely spread
For all who love the level, corn and wine,
Much cattle and the many-folded fleece.
Shall not my friends go feast again on sward,
Though cognizant of country in the clouds
Higher than wistful eagle's horny eye
Ever unclosed for, 'mid ancestral crags,
When morning broke and Spring was back once more,
And he died, heaven, save by his heart, unreached?
Yet heaven my fancy lifts to, ladder-like,—
As Jack reached, holpen of his beanstalk-rungs!
A novel country: I might make it mine
By choosing which one aspect of the year
Suited mood best, and putting solely that
On panel somewhere in the House of Fame,
Landscaping what I saved, not what I saw:
—Might fix you, whether frost in goblin-time
Startled the moon with his abrupt bright laugh,
Or, August's hair afloat in filmy fire,
She fell, arms wide, face foremost on the world,
Swooned there and so singed out the strength of things.
Thus were abolished Spring and Autumn both,
The land dwarfed to one likeness of the land,
Life cramped corpse-fashion. Rather learn and love
Each facet-flash of the revolving year!—
Red, green and blue that whirl into a white,
The variance now, the eventual unity,
Which make the miracle. See it for yourselves,
This man's act, changeable because alive!
Action now shrouds, nor shows the informing thought;
Man, like a glass ball with a spark a-top,
Out of the magic fire that lurks inside,
Shows one tint at a time to take the eye:
Which, let a finger touch the silent sleep,
Shifted a hair's-breadth shoots you dark for bright,
Suffuses bright with dark, and baffles so
Your sentence absolute for shine or shade.
Once set such orbs,—white styled, black stigmatized,—
A-rolling, see them once on the other side
Your good men and your bad men every one
From Guido Franceschini to Guy Faux,
Oft would you rub your eyes and change your names
Such, British Public, ye who like me not,
(God love you!)—whom I yet have laboured for,
Perchance more careful whoso runs may read
Than erst when all, it seemed, could read who ran,—
Perchance more careless whoso reads may praise
Than late when he who praised and read and wrote
Was apt to find himself the self-same me,—
Such labour had such issue, so I wrought
This arc, by furtherance of such alloy,
And so, by one spirt, take away its trace
Till, justifiably golden, rounds my ring.
A ring without a posy, and that ring mine?
O lyric Love, half angel and half bird
And all a wonder and a wild desire,—
Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun,
Took sanctuary within the holier blue,
And sang a kindred soul out to his face,—
Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart—
When the first summons from the darkling earth
Reached thee amid thy chambers, blanched their blue,
And bared them of the glory—to drop down,
To toil for man, to suffer or to die,—
This is the same voice: can thy soul know change?
Hail then, and hearken from the realms of help!
Never may I commence my song, my due
To God who best taught song by gift of thee,
Except with bent head and beseeching hand—
That still, despite the distance and the dark,
What was, again may be; some interchange
Of grace, some splendour once thy very thought,
Some benediction anciently thy smile:
—Never conclude, but raising hand and head
Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn
For all hope, all sustainment, all reward,
Their utmost up and on,—so blessing back
In those thy realms of help, that heaven thy home,
Some whiteness which, I judge, thy face makes proud,
Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall!
Middle of Madness
I can hear every tick of the clock.
My body is showered from nervous sweat.
Oh no my pencil tip broke,
and I must stop to sharpen it;
all the while losing time.
My mind has gone as blank
as the paper which I’m writing on.
Tick – Tock goes the clock as time moves on.
Times up the voice shots;
My hand goes limp and my pencil falls to
rest upon the edge of the paper.
I let out a big sigh of relief, for the madness has subside,
For my mid-terms are done.
Who Should I Write
When I want to write history
Apparently there are many facets that must be written
Side of the Master, winner of the war
Side of Mr. Small, who lost the war
But his position could be reversed
Mr. Little and Mr. Big winners who lost
Winning and losing in war is common
But the victim is always
the common people, who have sacrificed everything
gentlemen for gentlemen
or a victim of the ideas that are still abstract
the problem is not that common people
clothing, food, shelter
Ask The Lonely
Just ask the lonely
When you feel
That you can make it all alone
Remember no one is big enough
To go it all alone
Just ask the lonely
They know the hurting pain
Of losing the love
You can never regain
Just ask the lonely
The young and foolish
Who laugh at love and slowly run away
Confident and sure that fate
Will bring another love their way
But ask the lonely
How vainly a heart can yearn
For losing a love
That will never return
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Theyll tell you a story of sadness
A story too hard to believe
Theyll tell you
The lonliest one is me
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Ask me, Im the lonliest one of all
Forgotten But Not Gone
Weather wise a sunny bright warm day,
In fields farm hands working fresh hay.
Totally all blue was the cloudless skies,
But cloudy and raining were my eyes.
Greyhound bus leaving for Tallahassee,
On board the one truly wonderful lassie.
Back to my car teary eyed I wandered,
As to my immediate future I pondered.
In the prime of my life, brought fears,
Drafted; going overseas for two years.
In the cold hearted war, called to fight.
Would I be wounded; my life take flight.
Would I be blessed, able to return home,
Would it be I’d be forgotten while gone.
Never once thinking of losing a friend,
That our relationship would soon end.
Although hers for me would be past,
My true love to her will eternally last.
It’s said time is the healer of all pain,
My hope is we will be together again.
The Innocence of Gold
I flicked of the TV
At a news report
About another child
Lost in innocence no more
I was once
An innocent child
Living so happy
Till I was dealt
One of life's blows
And just like the children
I learn of today
Losing their innocence
That's torn from their souls
It drowns us all
In the degradation of life
I want to scream
I want to shout
Make all this carnage stop
Why do you ask?
Would I even bother to say?
I just want you to know
What its like for a child
To lose in themselves
The innocence of gold
You cry with a passion
Inside your lost soul
You know not what to say
You know not what to do
You feel so alone
You feel so used
You hide all your secrets
And you cry every day
And pray ever night
Oh God take my life
You drown in your sorrows
Every single day
And wonder each time
What have I done in my life?
To deserve such cruelty
That's dealt this cruel life
But life goes on
You learn to be brave
You learn to ignore
Your family and friends
You learn to ignore
An out stretched hand
I know I am lucky
To be here today
So I advocate for children
Still trapped in this fate
The Welsh Marches
High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam
Islanded in Severn stream;
The bridges from the steepled crest
Cross the water east and west.
The flag of morn in conqueror's state
Enters at the English gate:
The vanquished eve, as night prevails,
Bleeds upon the road to Wales.
Ages since the vanquished bled
Round my mother's marriage-bed;
There the ravens feasted far
About the open house of war:
When Severn down to Buildwas ran
Coloured with the death of man,
Couched upon her brother's grave
That Saxon got me on the slave.
The sound of fight is silent long
That began the ancient wrong;
Long the voice of tears is still
That wept of old the endless ill.
In my heart it has not died,
The war that sleeps on Severn side;
They cease not fighting, east and west,
On the marches of my breat.
Here the truceless armies yet
Trample, rolled in blood and sweat;
They kill and kill and never die;
And I think that each is I.
None will part us, none undo
The knot that makes one flesh of two,
Sick with hatred, sick with pain,
Strangling-- When shall we be slain?
When shall I be dead and rid
Of the wrong my father did?
How long, how long, till spade and hearse
Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
That 'Senior Citizen' Thing
That 'senior citizen' thing,
Isn't easy for many to face and address.
I am not comfortable with it yet.
Not to cling onto it like it is mine.
I am not prepared to declare,
Total ownership of it.
I am told I can still 'pass' for 55.
And that's young and radiant,
When one is...
On the fringes of showing 'maturity'.
And as my aches and pains,
Make attempts to ignore a fading youth...
Slowly leaving my consciousness,
With loud professions of my obsessiveness...
Is no longer in that hip hop stage!
And has gone.
I feel time has crept upon me,
And has done me wrong.
I aint crying about it.
Not in public anyway.
And if I do it is raining!
I tell people then,
How I enjoy the feeling of nature.
That 'senior citizen' thing,
Was never on my agenda when I was in my teens.
Nor did aging appear in my dreams...
When I sought ambitiously,
To waste as much time as possible.
It was not a topic of excitement.
Nor a subject to defend.
Back in those days when age was taken for granted.
My eyesight needed correction.
I had to wear glasses 'with' bi-focals.
My digestion needed anti-oxidents with more fiber.
And for no apparent reason,
I would stumble into buildings and trees.
Losing my balance.
That 'senior citizen' thing,
Isn't easy for many to face and address.
I am not comfortable with it yet.
Not to cling onto it like it is mine.
I am not prepared to declare,
Total ownership of it.
I am told I can still 'pass' for 55.
And that's young and radiant,
When one is...
On the fringes of showing 'maturity'.
Alexander The Great War Poem
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
King Philip his father engaged a new teacher
When Alexander turned thirteen.
Aristotle the greatest mind of his time
Gave Alexander his taste for the unforeseen.
Alexander dreamed of a one world empire
Held together by one king and tradition.
After his father was murdered by rivals
He ruled in his place with conviction.
Philip's death caused conquered kingdoms to rebel
And for next two years Alexander forced them to concede.
The huge Persian Empire of King Darius III
Posed the greatest threat to Greeks and their creed.
The Persian cavalry numbered over forty thousand
Plus one million foot soldiers with weapons and shield.
Alexander's troops numbered thirty thousand on the ground
Along side five thousand horsemen who dominated the field.
Alexander practiced many new methods of war
One of his most effective was called the siege train.
Several high towers would be rolled up to city walls on wheels
From which defenders were overwhelmed and slain.
He developed mechanical machines of death
Catapults, which hurled fifty pound stones.
Large arrows and burning balls of fire
Smashing walls, buildings and bones.
Soon Alexander fulfilled his prophecy
Sitting on the golden throne of Persian kings.
Possessing great treasures from conquered lands
Though his greatest need was conquest not things.
Alexander, king of Asia, would not be satisfied
His ambition and ego denied him rest.
He decided to march his armies to India
Putting the Rajahs armies and elephants to test.
The huge beasts, which were unknown in Europe
Frightened Alexander's men at the start.
In spite of their fear disciplined prevailed
As Greek spears tore holes in their heart.
Exhausted by years of hardship and battle.
His men refused to go on and Alexander gave in.
Disease, thirst, and hunger were their constant companions
From the time they left Greece till they were home again.
Alexander was physically and emotionally sick
To the point of becoming critically ill.
He died in Babylon at thirty-two
King of prophecies he pledged to fulfill.
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The Chaos Of My Unravelling Self
The chaos of my unravelling self, a snake pit
of dissonant wavelengths that yesterday the moon
wove into a flying carpet, and then undid again.
Or maybe I jumped. I don't recall.
Knowing isn't the same thing
as making sense of it all
as if you were rewiring a zodiac.
Sometimes it's wiser to know
a lot more about what you don't
than it is the little that you do.
More room for the stars.
The mystery doesn't feel so cramped.
If you're a river you've got no choice
but to trust the way things fall out
and when's the last time you heard a fire
asking for a starmap? A garden
might be a menu but most of the earth
bears what it will, and the clouds
don't ask the wind for directions.
Everything in existence is either
the will of a star or the whim of a flower.
Longing or enlightenment the same,
two sides of the same windowpane,
one floods the room with moonlight
and the other looks out in silence at it.
A good night is when you throw the moon through it.
No more distinction between outside and in.
The aviary sings differently when there's no cage
or your voice leaves the door open
for the birds to come and go.
Same with words, thoughts, emotions.
These are the waves of an oceanic universe
responding to its own weather.
Halcyon, the stars in its eyes,
or a holocaust of nautical widows
frozen in time like upstairs windows.
Whatever it is, God, light, life, love,
shape it how you will out of bone or obsidian,
out of the transparent medium of your spirit,
out of the tusks of the telescopes you're poaching,
and cherish what you need to believe
like a child of your own, if you want
your family around you when you die,
but if there's more rogue in you than rabbi,
more salmon going against the flow of the bowl
than there are goldfish, set out alone
into the waywardness of your solitude
without making an art or discipline of the abyss
by apprenticing it to your emptiness as if
you'd finally found something to belong to
that inconceivably exists, the shadow of nothing.
Be the prince that paupered his humanity
without really knowing what that was
until he walked out on himself one day,
and said enough of that. Sick of staying
within the lines, or breaking crayons
filling in the emotions of a chameleonic colouring book.
Understanding is simultaneous with living,
if you're quick enough, and if you're not
insight still travels faster than the speed of enlightenment
because it travels as light headed as you do.
Old Zen walnut. Seek it, it runs. Run from it,
it follows. Better to walk with it like a wolf
or a star peering through the crowns of the trees.
Live politely estranged from the curiosity that wonders
who you might remotely be. If it suits you.
If it's a kingdom you don't need to rule over,
acres of homelessness with a burnt out fireplace
left standing like some blackened fieldstone shrine
the birds still build their nests in like a larynx
in the throat of the wind that can sing, but can't write.
I never wanted to live like the book of total knowledge,
volume L. Knowledge has always seemed
more of a shovel to me than a door. You can
dig a garden and bury a corpse with the same tool.
Such is the paranoia of human ingenuity
we go to war with ploughshares in the defence of swords.
The painted asses of infuriated clowns.
Underground radio broadcasts of insincere love codes.
When you're the way, what else can anyone offer you?
But don't belittle yourself by mistaking it for madness.