Music - Part 2
is a jaguar on a rock,
stars spangled in the night,
flowers in a field,
a girl with ruffled hair,
a sign of ecstasy.
is the organ and the choir,
angels exquisite in praise,
and the rainbow colours
in the clouds.
is the violin, gliding fantasies
of sculpture in marble,
coral in the sea.
is a man defying all,
a trance with glazed eyes,
ice melting in a bowl;
trumpets, bugles - gold,
silver shimmering on the waves.
is the lamps lighted up in streets
of empty dark,
a fire in the heart,
a beauty in the shade with raven hair,
an eagle in the sky, alone
and flights of swallows
is the harmony of chords,
culmination of life's sounds,
the universe in peace.
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The Campaign, A Poem, To His Grace The Duke Of Marlborough
While crowds of princes your deserts proclaim,
Proud in their number to enrol your name;
While emperors to you commit their cause,
And Anna's praises crown the vast applause;
Accept, great leader, what the Muse recites,
That in ambitious verse attempts your fights.
Fir'd and transported with a theme so new,
Ten thousand wonders opening to my view
Shine forth at once; sieges and storms appear,
And wars and conquests fill the' important year:
Rivers of blood I see, and hills of slain,
And Iliad rising out of one campaign.
The haughty Gaul beheld, with towering pride,
His ancient bounds enlarg'd on every side;
Pyrene's lofty barriers were subdued,
And in the midst of his wide empire stood;
Ausonia's states, the victor to restrain,
Opposed their Alps and Apennines in vain,
Nor found themselves, with strength of rocks immur'd,
Behind their everlasting hills secur'd;
The rising Danube its long race began,
And half its course through the new conquests ran;
Amaz'd and anxious for her soverign's fates,
Germania trembled through a hundred states;
Great Leopold himself was seiz'd with fear;
He gaz'd around, but saw no succour near;
He gaz'd, and half-abandon'd to despair.
His hopes on heaven, and confidence in pray;
To Britain's queen the nations turn their eyes,
On her resolves the western world relies,
Confiding still, amidst its dire alarms,
In Anna's conncils, and in Churchill's arms.
Thrice happy Britain, from the kingdoms rent,
To fit the guardian of the continent!
That sees her bravest son advanc'd so high,
And flourishing so near her prince's eye;
Thy favourites grow not up by fortune's sport,
Or from the crimes or follies of a court;
On the firm basis of desert they rise,
From long-try'd faith and friendship's holy tyes:
Their soverign's well-distinguish'd smiles they share,
Her ornaments in peace, her strength in war;
The nation thanks them with a public voice,
By showers of blessings heaven approves their choice;
Envy itself is dumb, in wonder lost,
And factions strive who shall applaud them most.
Soon as soft vernal breezes warm the sky,
Britannia's colours in the zephyrs fly;
Her chief already has his march begun,
Crossing the provinces himself had won,
Till the Moselle, appearing from afar,
Retards the progress of the moving war.
Delightful stream, had nature bid her fall
In distant climes far from the perjur'd Gaul;
But now a purchase to the sword she lies;
Her harvests for uncertain owners rise,
Each vineyard doubtful of its master grows,
And to the victor's bowl each vintage flows.
The discontented shades of slaughter'd hosts,
That wander'd on her banks, her heroes ghosts
Hop'd, when they saw Britannia's arms appear,
The vengeance due to their great deaths was near.
Our godlike leader, ere the stream he past,
The mighty scheme of all his labours cast,
Forming the wondrous year within his thought;
His bosom glow'd with battles yet unfought.
The long laborious march he first surveys,
And joins the distant Danube to the Maese,
Between whose floods such pathless forests grow,
Such mountains rise, so many rivers flow:
The toil looks lovely in the hero's eyes,
And danger serves but to enhance the prize.
Big with the fate of Europe, he renews
His dreadful course, and the proud foe pursues!
Infected by the burning Scorpion's heat,
the sultry gales round his chas'd temples beat,
Till on the borders of the Maine he finds
Defensive shadows, and refreshing winds.
Our British youth, with in-born freedom bold,
Unnumber'd scenes of servitude behold,
Nations of slaves, with tyranny debas'd,
(Their maker's image more than half defac'd)
Hourly instructed, as they urge their toil,
To prize their queen, and love their native soil.
Still to the rising sun they take their way
Through clouds of dust, and gain upon the day.
When now the Neckar on its friendly coast
With cooling streams revives the fainting host,
That chearfully his labours past forgets,
The mid-night watches, and the noon-day heats.
O'er prostrate towns and palaces they pass
(Now cover'd o'er with woods, and hid in grass),
Breathing revenge; whilst anger and disdain
Fire every breast, and boil in every vein:
Here shatter'd walls, like broken rocks, from far
Rise up in hideous views, the guilt of war,
Whilst here the vine o'er hills of ruin climbs,
Industrious to conceal great Bourbon's crimes.
At length the fame of England's hero drew
Eugenio to the glorious interview.
Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
Demand alliance, and in friendship burn:
A sudden friendship, while with stretch'd-out rays
They meet each other, mingling blaze with blaze,
Polish'd in courts, and harden'd in the field,
Renown'd for conquest, and in council skill'd,
Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood
Of mounting spirits, and fermenting blood;
Lodg'd in the soul, with virtue over-rul'd,
Inflam'd by reason, and by reason cool'd,
In hours of peace content to be unknown,
And only in the field of battle shown:
To souls like these, in mutual fiendship join'd,
Heaven dares intrust the cause of human-kind.
Britannia's graceful sons appear in arms,
Her harrass'd troops the hero's presence warms,
Whilst the high hills and rivers all around
With thundering peals of British shouts resound:
Doubling their speed, they march with fresh delight,
Eager for glory, and require the fight.
So the stanch hound the trembling deer pursues,
And smells his footsteps in the tainted dews,
The tedious track unraveling by degrees:
But when the scent comes warm in every breeze,
Fir'd at the near approach he shoots away
On his full stretch, and bears upon his prey.
The march concludes, the various realms are past;
Th' immortal Schellenberg appears at last:
Like hills th' aspiring ramparts rise on high,
Like valley's at their feet the trenches lie;
Batteries on batteries guard each fatal pass,
Threatening destruction; rows of hollow brass,
Tube behind tube, the dreadful entrance keep,
Whilst in thier wombs ten thousand thunders sleep,
Great Churchill owns, charm'd with the glorious sight,
His march o'er-paid by such a promis'd fight.
The western sun now shot a feeble ray,
And faintly scatter'd the remains of day:
Ev'ning approach'd; but oh what host of foes
Were never to behold that evening close!
Thickening their ranks, and wedg'd in firm array,
The close-compacted Britons win their way;
In vain the cannon their throng'd war defac'd
With tracts of death, and laid the battle waste;
Still pressing forward to the fight, they broke
Through flames of sulphur, and a night of smoke,
Till slaughter'd legions fill'd the trench below,
And bore their fierce avengers to the foe.
High on the works the mingling hosts engage;
The battle, kindled into tenfold rage,
With showers of bullets and with storms of fire
Burns in full fury; heaps on heaps expire,
Nations with nations mix'd confus'dly die,
And lsot in one promiscuous carnage lie.
How many generous Britons meet their doom,
New to the field, and heroes in the bloom!
Th' illustrious youghts, that left their native shore
To march where Britons never march'd before
(O fatal love of fame! O glorious heat
Only destructive to the brave and great!)
After such toils o'ercome, such dangers past,
Stretch'd on Bavarian ramparts breathe their last.
But hold, my Muse, may no complaints appear
Nor blot the day with an ungrateful tear:
While Marlborough lives, Britannia's stars dispense
A friendly light, and shine in innocence.
Plunging through seas of blood his fiery steed
Where-e'er his friends retire, or foes succeed;
Those he supports, these drives to sudden flight,
And turns the various fortune of the fight.
Forbear, great man, renown'd in arms, forbear
To Brave the thickest terrors of the war,
Nor hazard thus, confus'd in crowds of foes,
Britannia's safety, and the world's repose;
Let nations anxious for thy life abate
This scorn of danger, and contempt of fate:
Thou liv'st not for thyself; thy Queen demands
Conquest and peace from thy victorious hands;
Kingdoms and empires in thy fortunes join,
And Europe's destiny depends on thine.
At length the long-disputed pass they gain
By crowded armies fortify'd in vain;
The war breaks in, the fierce Bavarians yield,
And see their camp with British legions fill'd.
So Belgian mounds bear on their shatter'd sides
The sea's whole weight increas'd with swelling tides;
But if the rushing wave a passage finds,
Enrag'd by watery moons, and warring winds,
The trembling peasant sees his country round
Cover'd with tempests, and in oceans drown'd.
The few surviving foes disperst in flight,
(Refuse of swords,a nd gleanings of a fight)
In every rustling wind the victor hear,
And Marlborough's form in every shadow fear,
Till the dark cope of night with kind embrace
Befriends the rout, and covers their disgrace.
To Donavert, with unresisted force,
The gay victorious army bends its course.
The growth of meadows, and the pride of fields,
Whatever spoils Bavaria's summer yields
(The Danube's great increase), Britannia shares,
The food of armies and support of wars:
With magazines of death, destructive balls,
And cannon doom'd to batter Landau's walls,
The victor finds each hidden cavern stor'd,
And turns their fury on their guilty Lord.
Deluded prince! how is thy greatness crost,
And all the gaudy dream of empire lost,
That proudly set thee on a fancy'd throne,
And made imaginary realms thy own!
Thy troops, that now behind the Danube join,
Shall shortly seek for shelter from the Rhine,
Nor find it there! Surrounded with alarms,
Thou hop'st the assistance fo the Gallic arms;
The Gallic arms in safety shall advance,
And crowd thy standards with the power of France,
While, to exalt thy doom, th' aspiring Gaul
Shares thy destruction, and adorns thy fall.
Unbounded courage and compassion join'd,
Tempering each other in the victor's mind,
Alternately proclaim him good and great,
And make the Hero and the Man compleat,
Long did he strive th' obdurate foe to gain
By proffer'd grace, but long he strove in vain;
Till, fir'd at length, he thinks it vain to spare
His rising wrath, and gives a loose to war.
In vengeance rous'd, the soldier fills his hand
With sword and fire, and ravages the land,
A thousand villages to ashes turns,
In crackling flames a thousand harvests burns.
To the thick woods the wolly flocks retreat,
And mixt with bellowing herds confus'dly bleat:
Their trembling lofds the common shade partake,
And cries of infants sound in every brake:
The listening soldier fixt in sorrow stands,
Loth to obey his leader's just commands:
The leader grieves, by generous pity sway'd,
To see his just commands so well obey'd.
But now the trumpet terrible from far
In shriller clangors animates the war;
Confederate drums in fuller concert beat,
And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Gallia's proud standards, to Bavaria's join'd,
Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind;
the daring prince his blasted hopes renews,
And, while the thick embattled host he views
Stretched out in deep array, and dreadful length,
His hearts dilates, and glories in his strength.
The fatal day its mighty course began,
That the griev'd world had long desir'd in vain;
States that their new captivity bemoan'd,
Armies of martyrs that in exile groan'd,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
And prayers in bitterness of soul preferr'd,
Europe's loud cries, that Providence assail'd,
And Anna's ardent vows at length prevail'd;
The day was come when heaven design'd to show
His care and conduct of the world below.
Behold in awful march and dread array
The long extended squadrons shape thier way!
Death, in approaching terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control:
Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul,
O'erlook the foe, advantag'd by his post,
Lessen his nmbers,a nd contract his host;
Though fens and floods possest the middle space,
That unprovok'd they would have fear'd to pass;
Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands,
When her proud foe rang'd on their borders stands.
But O, my Muse, what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle join'd!
Methinks I hear the drums tumultuous sound
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound,
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise.
'Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was prov'd,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war:
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
So when an angel by divine command
With rising tempests shaks a guilty land,
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past,
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
But see the haughty houshold troops advance!
The dread of Europe, and the pride of France.
The war's whole art each private soldier knows,
And with a General's love of conquest glows;
Proudly he marches on, and void of fear
Laughs at the shaking of the British spear:
Vain insolence! with native freedom brave,
The meanest Briton scorns the highest slave;
Contempt and fury fire their souls by turns,
Each nation's glory in each warrior burns:
Each fights, as in his arm th' important day
And all the fate of his great monarch lay:
A thousand glorious actions, that might claim
Truimphant laurels, and immortal fame,
Confus'd in crouds of glorious actions lie,
And troops of heroes undistinguish'd die.
O Dormer, how can I behold thy fate,
And not the wonders of thy youth relate!
How can I see the gay, the brave, the young,
Fall in the cloud of war, and lie usung!
In joys of conquest he resigns his breath,
And, fill'd with England's glory, smiles in death.
The rout begins, the Gallic squadrons run,
Compell'd in crouds to meet the fate they shun;
Thousands of fiery steeds with wounds transfix'd,
Floatting in gore, with their dead masters mixt,
'Midst heaps of spears and standards driven around,
Lie in the Danube's bloody whirl-pools drown'd
Troops of bold youths, born on the distant Soane,
Or sounding borders of the rapid Rhone,
Or where the Seine her flowery fields divides,
Or where the Loire through winding vineyards glides,
In heaps the rolling billows sweep away,
And into Scythian seas their bloated corps convey.
From Blenheim's towers the Gaul, with wild affright,
Beholds the various havock of the fight;
His waving banners, that so oft had stood
Planted in fields of death and streams of blood,
So wont the guarded enemy to reach,
And rise triumphant in the fatal breach,
Or pierce the broken foe's remotest lines,
The hardy veteran with tears resigns.
Unfortunate Tallard! Oh, who can name
The pangs of rage, of sorrow, and of shame,
That with mixt tumult in thy bosom swell'd,
When first thou saw'st thy bravest troops repell'd,
Thine only son pierc'd with a deadly wound,
Chok'd in his blood, and gasping on the ground,
Thyself in bondage by the victor kept!
The chief, the father, and the captive, wept.
An English Muse is touch'd with generous woe,
And in th'unhappy man forgets the foe!
Greatly distrest! they loud complaints forbear,
Blame not the turns of fate, and chance of war;
Give thy brave foes their due, nor blush to own
The fatal field by such great leaders won,
The field whence fam'd Eugenio bore away
Only the second honours of the day.
With floods of gore that from the vanquish'd fell
The marshes stagnate, and the rivers swell.
Mountains of slain lie heap'd upon the ground,
Or midst the roarings of the Danube drown'd;
Whole captive hosts the conqueror detains
In painful bondage, and inglorious chains;
Ev'n those who 'scape the fetters and the sword,
Nor seek the fortunes of a happier lord,
Their raging King dishonours, to compleat
Marlborough's great work, and finish the defeat.
From Memminghen's high domes, and Augsburg's walls,
The distant battle drives th' insulting Gauls;
Freed by the terror of the victor's name
The rescued States his great protection claim;
Whilst Ulme th' approach of her deliverer waits,
And longs to open her obsequious gates.
The hero's breast still swells with great designs,
In every thought the towering genius shines;
If to the foe his dreadful course he bends,
O'er the wide continent his march extends;
If sieges in his labouring thoughts are form'd
Camps are assaulted, and an army storm'd:
If to the sight of his active soul is bent
The fate of Europe turns on its event.
What distant land, what region, can afford
An action worthy his victorious sword?
Where will he next the flying Gaul defeat,
To make the series of his toils compleat?
Where the swoln Rhine rushing with all its force
Divides the hostile nations in its course,
While each contracts its bounds, or wider grows,
Enlarg'd or straighten'd as the river flows,
On Gallia's side a mighty bulwark stands,
That all the wide-extended plain commands;
Twice, since the war was kindled, has it try'd
The victor's rage, and twice has chang'd its side;
As oft whole armies, with the prize o'erjoy'd,
Have the long summer on its walls employ'd.
Hither our mighty chief his arms directs,
Hence future triumphs from the war expects;
And though the dog-star had its course begun,
Carries his arms still nearer to the sun:
Fixt on the glorious action, he forgets
The change of seasons, and increase of heats;
No toils are painful that can danger show,
No climes unlovely, that contain a foe.
The roving Gaul, to his own bounds restrain'd,
Learns to incamp within his native land,
But soon as the victorious host he spies,
From hill to hill, from stream to stream he flies:
Such dire impressions in his heart remain
Of Marlboroough's sword, and Hochsset's fatal plain:
In vain Britannia's mighty chief besets
Their shady coverts, and obscure retreats;
They fly the conqueror's approaching fame,
That bears the force of armies in his name.
Austria's young monarch, whose imperial sway
Sceptres and thrones are destin'd to obey,
Whose boasted ancertry so high extends,
That in the pagan gods his lineage ends,
Comes from afar, in gratitude to own
The geat supporter of his father's throne:
What tides of glory to his bosom ran,
Clasp'd in th' embrace of the godlike man!
How were his eyes with pleasing wonder fixt
To see such fire with so much sweetness mixt,
Such easy greatness, such a graceful port,
So turn'd and finish'd for the camp or court!
Achilles thus was form'd with every grace,
And Nireus shone but in the second place;
Thus the great father of almighty Rome
(Divinely flusht with an immortal bloom
That Cytherea's fragrant breath bestow'd)
In all the charms of his bright mother glow'd.
The royal youth by Marlborough's presence charm'd,
Taught by his counsels, by his actions warm'd,
On Landau with redoubled fury falls,
Discharges all his thunder on its walls,
O'er mines and caves of death provokes the fight,
And leans to conquer in the hero's fight.
The British chief, for mighty toils renown'd,
Increas'd in titles, and with conquests crown'd,
To Belgian coasts his tedious march renews,
And the long windings of the Rhine pursues,
Clearing its borders from usurping foes,
Amd blest by rescued nations as he goes.
Treves fears no more, freed from its dire alarms;
And Traerbach feels the terror of his arms:
Seated on rocks her proud foundations shake,
While Marlborough presses to the bold attack,
Plants all his batteries, bids his cannon roar,
And shows how Landau might have fall'n before.
Scar'd at his near approach, great Louis fears
Vengeance reserv'd for his declining years,
Forgets his thirst of universal sway,
And scarce can teach is subjects to obey;
His arms he finds on vain attempts employ'd,
Th' ambitious projects for his race destroy'd,
The works of ages sunk in one campaign,
And lives of millions sacrific'd in vain.
Such are th' effects of Anna's royal cares:
By her, Britannia, great in foreign wars,
Ranges through nations, wheresoe'er disjoin'd,
Without the wonted aid of sea and wind,
By her th' unfetter'd Ister's states are free,
And taste the sweets of English liberty:
But who can tell the joys of those that lie
Beneath the constant influence of her eye!
Whilst in diffusive showers her bounties fall
Like heaven's indulgence, and descend on all,
Secure the happy, succour the distrest,
Make every subject glad, and a whole people blest.
Thus would I fain Britannia's wars rehearse,
In the smooth records of a faithful verse;
That, if such numbers can o'er time prevail,
May tell posterity the wondrous tale.
When actions, unadorn'd, are faint and weak,
Cities and countries must be taught to speak;
Gods may descend in factions from the skies,
And rivers from their oozy beds arise;
Fiction may deck the truth wth spurious rays,
And round the hero cast a borrow'd blaze.
Marlborough's exploits appear divinely bright,
And proudly shine in their own native light;
Rais'd of themselves, their genuine charms they boast,
And those who paint them truest praise them most.
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Rock & Roll All Night
You show us everything you got, you keep on dancin and rudent gets hot and you drive us wild we'll drive a crazy. And you say you wanna go for a spin, the partys just began so let me in , and you drive us wild well drive ya crazy, ya keep on shoutin you keep on shoutin.(chorus) I wanna rock & roll all night, and party every day. i wanna rock and roll all night and party every day.
The inkstand is full of ink, and the paper lies white and unspotted,
in the round of light thrown by a candle. Puffs of darkness sweep into
the corners, and keep rolling through the room behind his chair. The air
is silver and pearl, for the night is liquid with moonlight.
See how the roof glitters, like ice!
Over there, a slice of yellow cuts into the silver-blue, and beside it stand
two geraniums, purple because the light is silver-blue, to-night.
See! She is coming, the young woman with the bright hair.
She swings a basket as she walks, which she places on the sill,
between the geranium stalks. He laughs, and crumples his paper
as he leans forward to look. 'The Basket Filled with Moonlight',
what a title for a book!
The bellying clouds swing over the housetops.
He has forgotten the woman in the room with the geraniums. He is beating
his brain, and in his eardrums hammers his heavy pulse. She sits
on the window-sill, with the basket in her lap. And tap! She cracks a nut.
And tap! Another. Tap! Tap! Tap! The shells ricochet upon the roof,
and get into the gutters, and bounce over the edge and disappear.
'It is very queer,' thinks Peter, 'the basket was empty, I'm sure.
How could nuts appear from the atmosphere?'
The silver-blue moonlight makes the geraniums purple, and the roof glitters
Five o'clock. The geraniums are very gay in their crimson array.
The bellying clouds swing over the housetops, and over the roofs goes Peter
to pay his morning's work with a holiday.
'Annette, it is I. Have you finished? Can I come?'
Peter jumps through the window.
'Dear, are you alone?'
'Look, Peter, the dome of the tabernacle is done. This gold thread
is so very high, I am glad it is morning, a starry sky would have
seen me bankrupt. Sit down, now tell me, is your story going well?'
The golden dome glittered in the orange of the setting sun. On the walls,
at intervals, hung altar-cloths and chasubles, and copes, and stoles,
and coffin palls. All stiff with rich embroidery, and stitched with
so much artistry, they seemed like spun and woven gems, or flower-buds
new-opened on their stems.
Annette looked at the geraniums, very red against the blue sky.
'No matter how I try, I cannot find any thread of such a red.
My bleeding hearts drip stuff muddy in comparison. Heigh-ho! See my little
pecking dove? I'm in love with my own temple. Only that halo's wrong.
The colour's too strong, or not strong enough. I don't know. My eyes
are tired. Oh, Peter, don't be so rough; it is valuable. I won't do
any more. I promise. You tyrannise, Dear, that's enough. Now sit down
and amuse me while I rest.'
The shadows of the geraniums creep over the floor, and begin to climb
the opposite wall.
Peter watches her, fluid with fatigue, floating, and drifting,
and undulant in the orange glow. His senses flow towards her,
where she lies supine and dreaming. Seeming drowned in a golden halo.
The pungent smell of the geraniums is hard to bear.
He pushes against her knees, and brushes his lips across her languid hands.
His lips are hot and speechless. He woos her, quivering, and the room
is filled with shadows, for the sun has set. But she only understands
the ways of a needle through delicate stuffs, and the shock of one colour
on another. She does not see that this is the same, and querulously murmurs
'Peter, I don't want it. I am tired.'
And he, the undesired, burns and is consumed.
There is a crescent moon on the rim of the sky.
'Go home, now, Peter. To-night is full moon. I must be alone.'
'How soon the moon is full again! Annette, let me stay. Indeed, Dear Love,
I shall not go away. My God, but you keep me starved! You write
`No Entrance Here', over all the doors. Is it not strange, my Dear,
that loving, yet you deny me entrance everywhere. Would marriage
strike you blind, or, hating bonds as you do, why should I be denied
the rights of loving if I leave you free? You want the whole of me,
you pick my brains to rest you, but you give me not one heart-beat.
Oh, forgive me, Sweet! I suffer in my loving, and you know it. I cannot
feed my life on being a poet. Let me stay.'
'As you please, poor Peter, but it will hurt me if you do. It will
crush your heart and squeeze the love out.'
He answered gruffly, 'I know what I'm about.'
'Only remember one thing from to-night. My work is taxing and I must
have sight! I MUST!'
The clear moon looks in between the geraniums. On the wall,
the shadow of the man is divided from the shadow of the woman
by a silver thread.
They are eyes, hundreds of eyes, round like marbles! Unwinking, for there
are no lids. Blue, black, gray, and hazel, and the irises are cased
in the whites, and they glitter and spark under the moon. The basket
is heaped with human eyes. She cracks off the whites and throws them away.
They ricochet upon the roof, and get into the gutters, and bounce
over the edge and disappear. But she is here, quietly sitting
on the window-sill, eating human eyes.
The silver-blue moonlight makes the geraniums purple, and the roof shines
How hot the sheets are! His skin is tormented with pricks,
and over him sticks, and never moves, an eye. It lights the sky with blood,
and drips blood. And the drops sizzle on his bare skin, and he smells them
burning in, and branding his body with the name 'Annette'.
The blood-red sky is outside his window now. Is it blood or fire?
Merciful God! Fire! And his heart wrenches and pounds 'Annette!'
The lead of the roof is scorching, he ricochets, gets to the edge,
bounces over and disappears.
The bellying clouds are red as they swing over the housetops.
The air is of silver and pearl, for the night is liquid with moonlight.
How the ruin glistens, like a palace of ice! Only two black holes swallow
the brilliance of the moon. Deflowered windows, sockets without sight.
A man stands before the house. He sees the silver-blue moonlight,
and set in it, over his head, staring and flickering, eyes of geranium red.
Why you so inquisitive of my whereabouts?
My night school's still dark
and the road I walk
Tar always black!
On the way,
I see rare night flowers,
They too have pearly white teeth
when they smile?
O the white Goddess
as passing clouds.
The white board in the gloomy class
Colored teacher writes on
with a piece of black chalk
A poem to recite;
covers the old pauper's graveyard
It's the garden of Eden?
But in cruel Autumn
When the flowers withered
It's still the pauper's graveyard? '
[ From Father have I my stature,
my zest for earnest living;
From little Mother
my gay nature,
My love of story-telling.]-Goethe
Immortal Robert Burns of Ayr,
There's but few poets can with you compare;
Some of your poems and songs are very fine:
To "Mary in Heaven" is most sublime;
And then again in your "Cottar's Saturday Night,"
Your genius there does shine most bright,
As pure as the dewdrops of the night.
Your "Tam O'Shanter" is very fine,
Both funny, racy, and divine,
From John O'Groats to Dumfries
All critics consider it to be a masterpiece,
And, also, you have said the same,
Therefore they are not to blame.
And in my own opinion both you and they are right,
For your genius there does sparkle bright,
Which I most solemnly declare
To thee, Immortal Bard of Ayr!
Your "Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon"
Is sweet and melodious in its tune,
And the poetry is moral and sublime,
And in my opinion nothing can be more fine.
Your "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled"
Is most beautiful to hear sung or read;
For your genius there does shine as bright,
Like unto the stars of night
Immortal Bard of Ayr! I must conclude my muse
To speak in praise of thee does not refuse,
For you were a mighty poet, few could with you compare,
And also an honour to Scotland, for your genius it is rare.
Beowulf's Expedition To Heort
Thus then, much care-worn,
The son of Healfden
Nor might the prudent hero
His woes avert.
The war was too hard,
Too loath and longsome,
That on the people came,
Dire wrath and grim,
Of night-woes the worst.
This from home heard
Good among the Goths,
He was of mankind
In might the strongest,
At that day
Of this life,
Noble and stalwart.
He bade him a sea-ship,
A goodly one, prepare.
Quoth he, the war-king,
Over the swan's road,
Seek he would
The mighty monarch,
Since he wanted men.
For him that journey
His prudent fellows
Straight made ready,
Those that loved him.
They excited their souls,
The omen they beheld.
Had the good-man
Of the Gothic people
Of those that keenest
He might find,
Some fifteen men.
The sea-wood sought he.
The warrior showed,
And first went forth.
The ship was on the waves,
Boat under the cliffs.
The barons ready
To the prow mounted.
The streams they whirled
The sea against the sands.
The chieftains bore
On the naked breast
The men shoved off,
Men on their willing way,
The bounden wood.
Then went over the sea-waves,
Hurried by the wind,
The ship with foamy neck,
Most like a sea-fowl,
Till about one hour
Of the second day
The curved prow
Had passed onward
So that the sailors
The land saw,
The shore-cliffs shining,
And broad sea-noses.
Then was the sea-sailing
Of the Earl at an end.
Then up speedily
The Weather people
On the land went,
The sea-bark moored,
Their mail-sarks shook,
God thanked they,
That to them the sea-journey
Easy had been.
Then from the wall beheld
The warden of the Scyldings,
He who the sea-cliffs
Had in his keeping,
Bear o'er the balks
The bright shields,
The war-weapons speedily.
Him the doubt disturbed
In his mind's thought,
What these men might be.
Went then to the shore,
On his steed riding,
The Thane of Hrothgar.
Before the host he shook
His warden's-staff in hand,
In measured words demanded:
'What men are ye
Host in harness,
Who thus the brown keel
Over the water-street
Hither over the sea?
I these boundaries
As shore-warden hold,
That in the Land of the Danes
With a ship-crew
Scathe us might. . . .
Ne'er saw I mightier
Earl upon earth
Than is your own,
Hero in harness.
Not seldom this warrior
Is in weapons distinguished;
Never his beauty belies him,
His peerless countenance!
Now would I fain
Your origin know,
Ere ye forth
As false spies
Into the Land of the Danes
Now, ye dwellers afar-off!
Ye sailors of the sea!
Listen to my
Quickest is best
To make known
Whence your coming may be.'
Crow and Moon
On the sky...
'Your clour was
Very night....why...? '
Crow say for moon
'I am day time bird
My clour was night...You
Night time sky girl how is
Your clour was day...! '
Moon run in side the clouds...!
Voices Of The Night : Flowers
Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
One who dwelleth by the Castle Rhine,
When he called the flowers, so blue and golden
Stars, that in the earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we do read our history
As astrologers and seers of eld;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery,
Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wonderous truths, and manifold as wonderous,
God has written in those stars above;
But not less in the bright flowers under us
Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation,
Written all over this great world of ours;
Making evident our own creation,
In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing,
Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part
Of the self-same, universal being,
Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining,
Blossoms flaunting the bright of day,
Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining,
Buds that open only to decay.
Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues,
Flaunting gayly in the golden light;
Large desires, with most uncertain isssues,
Tender wishes, blossoming at night!
These in flowers and men are more than seeming;
Workings are they of the self-same powers,
Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming,
Seeith in himself and in the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing,
Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born;
Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing,
Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn;
Not alone in Spring's armorial beaing,
And in Summer's green-emblazoned field,
But in the arms of brave old Autumn's wearing,
In the centre of his brazen shield;
Not alone in meadows and green alleys,
On the mountain-top, and by the brink
Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys,
Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink;
Not alone in her vast dome of glory,
Not on graves of bird and beast alone,
But in old cathedrals, high and hoary,
On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone.
In the cottage of the rudest peasant,
In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers,
Speaking of the Past unto the Present,
Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers;
In all places, then, and in all seasons,
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,
How akin they are to human things.
And with child-like, credulous affection
We behold their tender buds expand;
Emblems of our own great resurrection.
Emblems of the bright and better land.
The Light Doesn't Talk To The Flowers Anymore
The light doesn't talk to the flowers anymore
the way it used to. I can feel a lot of shadows touching my face
as if it were written in braille. Acid in the rain.
Tears of dry ice in the housewell. Weathervanes
knocking at the door to get out of the storms
they used to revel in, and the storms themselves,
no kamikazes riding a divine wind against the Mongols,
at best, a mango-flavoured tempest in a Japanese teapot.
And even Zen can't put an edge on the full moon
to cut through everything like a harvest being threshed.
No songs from the birds that used to wake me up in the morning,
only these spiders weaving their smokey laryngeal webs
like a voice that got stuck in the throat of a chimney
when it forgot, when you sing from the heart,
you don't need a medium or a seance. Not even an art
that's interested in what you're saying unless
you're obeying a grammar of headstones that don't know
what you're talking about until it's not worth
bringing up anymore in anybody's language
whether the metaphors are living or not. Words in a bonebox.
Locks and bars on our eyes. Dumb-bells stuck through our tongues
like someone was doing voodoo on the leaves
or the baton of a drum major in a parade
that's never going to come, afraid to leave home on its own.
Since I was a boy in the late Cretaceous,
I've always wondered about the timing
of the asteroids and comets and why
they had such an impact upon the dinosaurs.
But I hear they were already on their way to extinction
because of the earth's own volcanic activity,
and, at worst, the asteroid just accelerated
the flywheel of birth and death a bit.
Bad spin on an antiquated myth of origin.
Better luck next time, but right now the mammals
have evolved so far beyond that they're destroying themselves
in a long, slow nuclear winter of attrition
that's putting a pillow over everybody's face
like the cloud cover of a screening myth with an air force
that buffers the light with our own ashes
and much prefers smouldering to ignition.
What did Berryman say in a letter to Wang Wei,
centuries after the fact, just before he jumped from a bridge
into an ice-covered river with the Pulitzer Prize in his hands? -
O to talk to you in a freedom from ten thousand things.
Be dust myself pretty soon. Not now. Or words to that effect.
But just the same, it's hard to get into the skull
of the man anymore without the flame of a candle or a dragon
to see where you're going in case you nudge an atom the wrong way
and bring on another astronomical catastrophe inadvertently.
Minefield covered in snow like a pioneer cemetery
buried on the hilltop of an avalanche with a view of the valley below.
Dangerous, too, to move among the stars freely
like a rogue planet without a starmap, causing perturbations
in the orbits of the shepherd moons on an exploratory flyby
to see if there's any kind of intelligent life you can identify with.
The nights are getting darker. The stars are moving further apart.
Sooner or later everything tends toward empty space
until there isn't even any room left in it for itself.
And nothing ever dawns upon you there but endless entropy
and time comes to a sudden halt where spaces runs out
and the bones of the fossilized stars are left like empty chairs
in a dark auditorium with bad acoustics.
I'll write it on the wind now, while I have the chance.
I'll write it like a fire in smoke at a ghost dance.
I'll write it in blood and tears and rivers and stars.
I'll write it in scars and wounds as deep as roses.
I'll write it on the skins of the snakes that I've shed
like serpent fire running up the lunar thread of my spinal cord
like a lightning rod tattooing the clouds of unknowing
with the insights of fireflies into the mysterious darkness of life,
who know that one glimpse is enough of a Big Bang
to satisfy even the blind who go looking for their eyes
with their eyes like a windfall in a thunderstorm of picture-music
though they're still hanging on to the same old lifeline
like an umbilical cord between the backdoor and the barn
in blizzard of stars and butterflies. I'll write it in light.
I'll write it on the eyelids of eclipses and occultations alike.
I'll write it on the foreheads of the mute rocks
in runic striations of glaciers retreating north in tears,
I'll write it on my bones before I'm buried under the hearthstones
with a big rock on my chest like an asteroid
rolled over a cave to make sure I'll never rise again
like Jesus and Muhammad said I would if I was good,
or Ali Baba and the forty thieves muttering their shibboleths
on the thresholds of an artificial paradise, in case I wasn't.
Now is the light. Now is the loving and the living.
Now is the hour for the hidden nightbirds to raise their voices
in the sacred groves of the moon to celebrate
the brevity of their own longing for the unattainable
blossoming on the dead branch of their aspiration.
There's only so much time, and then, in a moment or two, forever.
The heart sings awhile like a red-winged black bird on a green bough.
And then the eyeless silence of the stars
who have looked down upon nothing for 14.3 billion lightyears
and watched the fireflies dancing to the music
of their own tiny hearts, lockets of light, of insight,
that open like seeds and eyes sown into the abyss
to let all winged things, and even star-nosed moles can fly,
out of the cages of their earthbound solitude like dragons
taken down like occult books from their hardwood shelves,
with the wingspan of constellations singing in the night to themselves.
I Want To Make A Contribution
I want to make a contribution.
I want to leave something on the stairs of the temple
in the dead of the night and steal away like a shadow,
hoping my small gift of a gift is well-received.
That the stars don't think they're wasting their light
to shine down upon it. Nor the wind resent the seeds it carries.
Fifty years of poetry. Painting the picture-music
the darkness pours into my heart and my heart conveys to my ears.
I can taste thousands of wildflowers like eyes in my blood.
I can taste the homelessness of the rogue stars in my tears,
and pull the wounded swords I cull like thorns of the rose
from the stone of my brain that fell in the farmer's field
like a rock through the window of the abyss
and make it clear as Merlin locked in his tower of glass,
that the stars only look fixed from a distance,
up close and intimate as atoms they're in a frenzy of creation
like a cloud of gnats in the last rapture of the sunset
radioactive with the bliss of being alive to know this.
That we're all longing for home in the lap of an expansive awareness
that threw the starmaps away the moment we were born
into the radiance of things that let go of the light
as if they knew something they just couldn't keep to themselves
without doing great injury to the flowers of life
that space was mind, and time was its emotional life
and as the dark mother said to her last incarnation
as it was stepping through the doorway into a stranger,
we're just going to wing it from here on end.
I want to be a strong storm tree twisted and bent by the wind
like the last letter of a sacred alphabet with no alpha or omega
to mark where things begin and end like death in life.
And wind up like a windfall of sweet fruit without end.
I want to make something of my falling, I want to honour
the table I eat at like iron and carbon and oxygen
by bringing something back for what I have received
without asking, or making a decision when I was not aware
of some unimaginable god that holds me personally responsible for it.
What a sleight to humans everywhere matter enjoins them
in a common labour to resonate so perfectly with the light
that lucidity isn't the exclusive property of the unknown,
and just because it's dark, the new moon of the black swan
shedding the feathers of the white, doesn't mean, it's not enlightened.
Though I come like a bird to a windowsill, though I pass
like a star from the window, though I sing of death
on the green bough, though I sing of life on the dead,
though I have been a dragon, a kitten, and a bee,
though I have floundered in sorrows like a lifeboat
way over my head, and lived through starless nights of fear
pulled down like executioners hoods over my eyes,
waiting to see what the morning brings that's vital,
I have not trafficked with my life like a pimp in a flower bed.
I have endured whatever excruciating transfigurations
I've ever had to go through, naked as a knife of light
unsheathed from the ore of this body that can no more
be cast off on the slag heap, than my spirit can paint in blood
a mural of all the changes we've been through like stars and mud.
I want to deepen the roots of the flowering night.
I want to beseech the poppies with my eyes
for more luminous experiences of cadmium red light
for more mystery among the stars than even they're aware of,
for more moons in the apple, more suns in the bread,
for more crazy wisdom than there is the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
I want to show the pine-cones they're pagodas as well
and point out where the mourning doves nest under their eyelids
and the shamans dwell in the upper branches of their evergreens
waiting to see if down will come cradle, baby and all,
or the next ascent is a red-tailed hawk at liberty
to fall upon whatever it likes, raising the snake of the lowest
up into the mystic delirium of the highest
to feather its scales in boas of oxymoronic light.
I want to intensify the dark until people can find
their way home by it, stars that broke into themselves
like morning glory tangled in an old bicycle wheel.
A pine-cone would do, a locket of sky, a piece of straw,
I could offer anything I wanted to, all those nests and pockets
I made in my pillow for years like a cat with a catcher's mitt
trying to find the perfect spot for its nightmare to sleep.
Or any one of a hundred cornerstones that were never built upon
or were torn down before the first brick laid.
Or I could lay my life down like a grain of wheat
among millions, at the feet of a silo so immaculately empty
it's never needed a single one of us, or all the animals
that bleated and bellowed and bled upon the earth
because we started drinking blood long before
we turned to bread like a better body to sacrifice.
Or my eyes like little thumb-drives of everything they've seen.
A gift of a gift as was given to me without a giver,
the ashes of a dead butterfly on a pyre of autumn leaves,
without ritual, celestial spin, I just want to come by myself
like a human in confusion we make the labour of our lives
as if I were stepping out of the trees like a white-tailed buck
come down to the river to drink from the moonlight
and add my reflection to the water that gave it to me,
with my head bowed toward the earth like a broken branch
heavy with the scarred fruits of life that have sweetened
like the moon over the years, poems I can recite by heart,
like the names of the stars and the flowers and the birds
and the ghosts of all those sad, passionate women who
tried so hard to be happy their tears clung like eyes
to the mystery of the windows they kept looking through
as if they were resilvering the mirrors of old telescopes
with the dew of a morning from a long time ago
witching in the dark for stars to explain their loss.
I want to bring a word that's been so deeply hidden in the open
like the flower of a rootless tree, it's got no colour of its own,
no seed, no leaf, no humming bird or bee, the tuning fork
of the nightbird, but no song, no honey, no nectar,
no likeness anywhere to compare it with, demonic or benign,
no meaning no mouth has ever wrapped itself around
like the atmosphere of a habitable planet, though the wind has tried,
a word so indelibly original it can't be washed out
like the whisper of a watercolour in the ear of a solar flare,
a word so private it gets said over the graves of the sacred syllables
that died in the mouths of men like the names of their gods,
not a prayer, not a mantra, not the shriek of a war-cry,
not a curse, not a blessing, not the answer to anything,
and I want to say the unsayable so unsayably free of veils
no junkie in the snakepit of a burning spoon, no lover
thawing virgin watersheds in the nunnery of Madame Moon
has ever stood so naked in their own eyes
even the emptiness inside felt overdressed for the occasion.
Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan
In a nation of one hundred fine, mob-hearted, lynching, relenting, repenting millions,
There are plenty of sweeping, swinging, stinging, gorgeous things to shout about,
And knock your old blue devils out.
I brag and chant of Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan,
Candidate for president who sketched a silver Zion,
The one American Poet who could sing outdoors,
He brought in tides of wonder, of unprecedented splendor,
Wild roses from the plains, that made hearts tender,
All the funny circus silks
Of politics unfurled,
Bartlett pears of romance that were honey at the cores,
And torchlights down the street, to the end of the world.
There were truths eternal in the gap and tittle-tattle.
There were real heads broken in the fustian and the rattle.
There were real lines drawn:
Not the silver and the gold,
But Nebraska's cry went eastward against the dour and old,
The mean and cold.
It was eighteen ninety-six, and I was just sixteen
And Altgeld ruled in Springfield, Illinois,
When there came from the sunset Nebraska's shout of joy:
In a coat like a deacon, in a black Stetson hat
He scourged the elephant plutocrats
With barbed wire from the Platte.
The scales dropped from their mighty eyes.
They saw that summer's noon
A tribe of wonders coming
To a marching tune.
Oh the longhorns from Texas,
The jay hawks from Kansas,
The plop-eyed bungaroo and giant giassicus,
The varmint, chipmunk, bugaboo,
The horn-toad, prairie-dog and ballyhoo,
From all the newborn states arow,
Bidding the eagles of the west fly on,
Bidding the eagles of the west fly on.
The fawn, prodactyl, and thing-a-ma-jig,
The rackaboor, the hellangone,
The whangdoodle, batfowl and pig,
The coyote, wild-cat and grizzly in a glow,
In a miracle of health and speed, the whole breed abreast,
The leaped the Mississippi, blue border of the West,
From the Gulf to Canada, two thousand miles long:-
Against the towns of Tubal Cain,
Ah,-- sharp was their song.
Against the ways of Tubal Cain, too cunning for the young,
The longhorn calf, the buffalo and wampus gave tongue.
These creatures were defending things Mark Hanna never dreamed:
The moods of airy childhood that in desert dews gleamed,
The gossamers and whimsies,
The monkeyshines and didoes
Rank and strange
Of the canyons and the range,
The ultimate fantastics
Of the far western slope,
And of prairie schooner children
Born beneath the stars,
Beneath falling snows,
Of the babies born at midnight
In the sod huts of lost hope,
With no physician there,
Except a Kansas prayer,
With the Indian raid a howling through the air.
And all these in their helpless days
By the dour East oppressed,
Making their mistakes for them,
Crucifying half the West,
Till the whole Atlantic coast
Seemed a giant spiders' nest.
And these children and their sons
At last rode through the cactus,
A cliff of mighty cowboys
On the lope,
With gun and rope.
And all the way to frightened Maine the old East heard them call,
And saw our Bryan by a mile lead the wall
Of men and whirling flowers and beasts,
The bard and prophet of them all.
Prairie avenger, mountain lion,
Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan,
Gigantic troubadour, speaking like a siege gun,
Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the West,
And just a hundred miles behind, tornadoes piled across the sky,
Blotting out sun and moon,
A sign on high.
Headlong, dazed and blinking in the weird green light,
The scalawags made moan,
Afraid to fight.
When Bryan came to Springfield , and Altgeld gave him greeting,
Rochester was deserted, Divernon was deserted,
Mechanicsburg, Riverton, Chickenbristle, Cotton Hill,
Empty: for all Sangamon drove to the meeting-
In silver-decked racing cart,
Buggy, buckboard, carryall,
Carriage, phaeton, whatever would haul,
And silver-decked farm wagons gritted, banged and rolled,
With the new tale of Bryan by the iron tires told.
The State House loomed afar,
A speck, a hive, a football, a captive balloon!
And the town was all one spreading wing of bunting, plumes, and sunshine,
Every rag and flag and Bryan picture sold,
When the rigs in many a dusty line
Jammed our streets at noon,
And joined the wild parade against the power of gold.
We roamed, we boys from High School,
With mankind, while Springfield gleamed, silk-lined.
Oh, Tom Dines, and Art Fitzgerald,
And the gangs that they could get!
I can hear them yelling yet.
Helping the incantation,
With every bridle gone,
Ridding the world of the low down mean,
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on,
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on,
We were bully, wild and woolly,
Never yet curried below the knees.
We saw flowers in the air,
Fair as the Pleiades, bright as Orion,
-Hopes of all mankind,
Made rare, resistless, thrice refined.
Oh, we bucks from every Springfield ward!
Colts of democracy-
Yet time-winds out of Chaos from the star-fields of the Lord.
The long parade rolled on. I stood by my best girl.
She was a cool young citizen, with wise and laughing eyes.
With my necktie by my ear, I was stepping on my dear,
But she kept like a pattern without a shaken curl.
She wore in her hair a brave prairie rose.
Her gold chums cut her, for that was not the pose.
No Gibson Girl would wear it in that fresh way.
But we were fairy Democrats, and this was our day.
The earth rocked like the ocean, the sidewalk was a deck.
The houses for the moment were lost in the wide wreck.
And the bands played strange and stranger music as they trailed along.
Against the ways of Tubal Cain,
Ah, sharp was their song!
The demons in the bricks, the demons in the grass,
The demons in the bank-vaults peered out to see us pass,
And the angels in the trees, the angels in the grass,
The angels in the flags, peered out to see us pass.
And the sidewalk was our chariot, and the flowers bloomed higher,
And the street turned to silver and the grass turned to fire,
And then it was but grass, and the town was there again,
A place for women and men.
Then we stood where we could see
And the speaker's stand.
And Bryan took the platform.
And he was introduced.
And he lifted his hand
And cast a new spell.
Progressive silence fell
In Springfield, in Illinois, around the world.
Then we heard these glacial boulders across the prairie rolled:
'The people have a right to make their own mistakes....
You shall not crucify mankind
Upon a cross of gold.'
And everybody heard him-
In the streets and State House yard.
And everybody heard him in Springfield, in Illinois,
Around and around and around the world,
That danced upon its axis
And like a darling broncho whirled.
July, August, suspense,
Wall Street lost to sense.
August, September, October,
And the whole East down like a wind-smashed fence.
Then Hanna to the rescue, Hanna of Ohio,
Rallying the roller-tops,
Rallying the bucket-shops.
Threatening drouth and death,
Rallying the trusts against the bawling flannelmouth;
Invading misers' cellars, tin-cans, socks,
Melting down the rocks,
Pouring out the long green to a million workers,
Spondulix by the mountain-load, to stop each new tornado,
And beat the cheapskate, blatherskite,
Populistic, anarchistic, deacon-desperado.
Election night at midnight:
Boy Brian's defeat.
Defeat of western silver.
Defeat of the wheat.
Victory of letterfiles
And plutocrats in miles
With dollar signs upon their coats,
Diamond watchchains on their vests and spats on their feet.
Victory of custodians, Plymouth Rock,
And all that inbred landlord stock.
Victory of the neat.
Defeat of the aspen groves of Colorado valleys,
The blue bells of the Rockies,
And blue bonnets of old Texas, by the Pittsburg alleys.
Defeat of alfalfa and the Mariposa lily.
Defeat of the Pacific and the long Mississippi.
Defeat of the young by the old and the silly.
Defeat of tornadoes by the poison vats supreme.
Defeat of my boyhood, defeat of my dream.
Where is McKinley, that respectable McKinley,
The man without an angle or a tangle,
Who soothed down the city man and soothed down the farmer,
The German, the Irish, the Southerner, the Northerner,
Who climbed every greasy pole, and slipped through every crack;
Who soothed down the gambling hall, the bar-room, the church,
The devil-vote, the angel vote, the neutral vote,
The desperately wicked, and their victims on the rack,
The gold vote, the silver vote, the brass vote, the lead vote,
Where is McKinley, Mark Hanna's McKinley,
His slave, his echo, his suit of clothes?
Gone to join the shadows, with the pomps of that time,
And the flames of that summer's prairie rose.
Where is Cleveland whom the Democratic platform
Read from the party in a glorious hour?
Gone to join the shadows with pitchfork Tillman,
And sledge-hammer Altgeld who wrecked his power.
Where is Hanna, bulldog Hanna,
Low-browed Hanna, who said: Stand pat'?
Gone to his place with old Pierpont Morgan.
Gone somewhere...with lean rat Platt.
Where is Roosevelt, the young dude cowboy,
Who hated Bryan, then aped his way?
Gone to join the shadows with might Cromwell
And tall King Saul, till the Judgement day.
Where is Altgeld, brave as the truth,
Whose name the few still say with tears?
Gone to join the ironies with Old John Brown,
Whose fame rings loud for a thousand years.
Where is that boy, that Heaven-born Bryan,
That Homer Bryan, who sang from the West?
Gone to join the shadows with Altgeld the Eagle,
Where the kings and the slaves and the troubadours rest.
Hero And Leander. The Sixth Sestiad
No longer could the Day nor Destinies
Delay the Night, who now did frowning rise
Into her throne; and at her humorous breasts
Visions and Dreams lay sucking: all men's rests
Fell like the mists of death upon their eyes,
Day's too-long darts so kill'd their faculties.
The Winds yet, like the flowers, to cease began;
For bright Leucote, Venus' whitest swan,
That held sweet Hero dear, spread her fair wings,
Like to a field of snow, and message brings
From Venus to the Fates, t'entreat them lay
Their charge upon the Winds their rage to stay,
That the stern battle of the seas might cease,
And guard Leander to his love in peace.
The Fates consent;--ay me, dissembling Fates!
They showed their favours to conceal their hates,
And draw Leander on, lest seas too high
Should stay his too obsequious destiny:
Who like a fleering slavish parasite,
In warping profit or a traitorous sleight,
Hoops round his rotten body with devotes,
And pricks his descant face full of false notes;
Praising with open throat, and oaths as foul
As his false heart, the beauty of an owl;
Kissing his skipping hand with charmed skips,
That cannot leave, but leaps upon his lips
Like a cock-sparrow, or a shameless quean
Sharp at a red-lipp'd youth, and naught doth mean
Of all his antic shows, but doth repair
More tender fawns, and takes a scatter'd hair
From his tame subject's shoulder; whips and calls
For everything he lacks; creeps 'gainst the walls
With backward humbless, to give needless way:
Thus his false fate did with Leander play.
First to black Eurus flies the white Leucote
(Born 'mongst the negroes in the Levant sea,
On whose curl'd heads the glowing sun doth rise),
And shows the sovereign will of Destinies,
To have him cease his blasts; and down he lies.
Next, to the fenny Notus course she holds,
And found him leaning, with his arms in folds,
Upon a rock, his white hair full of showers;
And him she chargeth by the fatal powers,
To hold in his wet cheeks his cloudy voice.
To Zephyr then that doth in flowers rejoice:
To snake-foot Boreas next she did remove,
And found him tossing of his ravished love,
To heat his frosty bosom hid in snow;
Who with Leucote's sight did cease to blow.
Thus all were still to Hero's heart's desire;
Who with all speed did consecrate a fire
Of flaming gums and comfortable spice,
To light her torch, which in such curious price
She held, being object to Leander's sight,
That naught but fires perfumed must give it light.
She loved it so, she griev'd to see it burn,
Since it would waste, and soon to ashes turn:
Yet, if it burned not, 'twere not worth her eyes;
What made it nothing, gave it all the prize.
Sweet torch, true glass of our society!
What man does good, but he consumes thereby?
But thou wert loved for good, held high, given show;
Poor virtue loathed for good, obscured, held low:
Do good, be pined,--be deedless good, disgraced;
Unless we feed on men, we let them fast.
Yet Hero with these thoughts her torch did spend:
When bees make wax, Nature doth not intend
It should be made a torch; but we, that know
The proper virtue of it, make it so,
And, when 'tis made, we light it: nor did Nature
Propose one life to maids; but each such creature
Makes by her soul the best of her free state,
Which without love is rude, disconsolate,
And wants love's fire to make it mild and bright,
Till when, maids are but torches wanting light.
Thus 'gainst our grief, not cause of grief, we fight:
The right of naught is glean'd, but the delight.
Up went she: but to tell how she descended,
Would God she were dead, or my verse ended!
She was the rule of wishes, sum, and end,
For all the parts that did on love depend:
Yet cast the torch his brightness further forth;
But what shines nearest best, holds truest worth.
Leander did not through such tempests swim
To kiss the torch, although it lighted him:
But all his powers in her desires awaked,
Her love and virtues clothed him richly naked.
Men kiss but fire that only shows pursue;
Her torch and Hero, figure show and virtue.
Now at opposed Abydos naught was heard
But bleating flocks, and many a bellowing herd,
Slain for the nuptials; cracks of falling woods;
Blows of broad axes; pourings out of floods.
The guilty Hellespont was mix'd and stained
With bloody torrents that the shambles rained;
Not arguments of feast, but shows that bled,
Foretelling that red night that followed.
More blood was spilt, more honours were addrest,
Than could have graced any happy feast;
Rich banquets, triumphs, every pomp employs
His sumptuous hand; no miser's nuptial joys.
Air felt continual thunder with the noise
Made in the general marriage-violence;
And no man knew the cause of this expense,
But the two hapless lords, Leander's sire,
And poor Leander, poorest where the fire
Of credulous love made him most rich surmis'd:
As short was he of that himself he prized,
As is an empty gallant full of form,
That thinks each look an act, each drop a storm,
That falls from his brave breathings; most brought up
In our metropolis, and hath his cup
Brought after him to feasts; and much palm bears
For his rare judgment in th' attire he wears;
Hath seen the hot Low-Countries, not their heat,
Observes their rampires and their buildings yet;
And, for your sweet discourse with mouths, is heard
Giving instructions with his very beard;
Hath gone with an ambassador, and been
A great man's mate in travelling, even to Rhene;
And then puts all his worth in such a face
As he saw brave men make, and strives for grace
To get his news forth: as when you descry
A ship, with all her sail contends to fly
Out of the narrow Thames with winds unapt,
Now crosseth here, then there, then this way rapt,
And then hath one point reach'd, then alters all,
And to another crooked reach doth fall
Of half a bird-bolt's shoot, keeping more coil
Than if she danc'd upon the ocean's toil;
So serious is his trifling company,
In all his swelling ship of vacantry
And so short of himself in his high thought
Was our Leander in his fortunes brought,
And in his fort of love that he thought won;
But otherwise he scorns comparison.
O sweet Leander, thy large worth I hide
In a short grave! ill-favour'd storms must chide
Thy sacred favour; I in floods of ink
Must drown thy graces, which white papers drink,
Even as thy beauties did the foul black seas;
I must describe the hell of thy decease,
That heaven did merit: yet I needs must see
Our painted fools and cockhorse peasantry
Still, still usurp, with long lives, loves, and lust,
The seats of Virtue, cutting short as dust
Her dear-bought issue: ill to worse converts,
And tramples in the blood of all deserts.
Night close and silent now goes fast before
The captains and the soldiers to the shore,
On whom attended the appointed fleet
At Sestos' bay, that should Leander meet,
Who feigned he in another ship would pass:
Which must not be, for no one mean there was
To get his love home, but the course he took.
Forth did his beauty for his beauty look,
And saw her through her torch, as you behold
Sometimes within the sun a face of gold,
Formed in strong thoughts, by that tradition's force
That says a god sits there and guides his course.
His sister was with him; to whom he show'd
His guide by sea, and said, 'Oft have you view'd
In one heaven many stars, but never yet
In one star many heavens till now were met.
See, lovely sister! see, now Hero shines,
No heaven but her appears; each star repines,
And all are clad in clouds, as if they mourned
To be by influence of earth out-burned.
Yet doth she shine, and teacheth Virtue's train
Still to be constant in hell's blackest reign,
Though even the gods themselves do so entreat them
As they did hate, and earth as she would eat them.'
Off went his silken robe, and in he leapt,
Whom the kind waves so licorously cleapt,
Thickening for haste, one in another, so,
To kiss his skin, that he might almost go
To Hero's tower, had that kind minute lasted.
But now the cruel Fates with Ate hasted
To all the winds, and made them battle fight
Upon the Hellespont, for either's right
Pretended to the windy monarchy;
And forth they brake, the seas mixed with the sky,
And tossed distressed Leander, being in hell,
As high as heaven: bliss not in height doth dwell.
The Destinies sate dancing on the waves,
To see the glorious Winds with mutual braves
Consume each other: O, true glass, to see
How ruinous ambitious statists be
To their own glories! Poor Leander cried
For help to sea-born Venus she denied;
To Boreas, that, for his Atthaea's sake
He would some pity on his Hero take,
And for his own love's sake, on his desires;
But Glory never blows cold Pity's fires.
Then call'd he Neptune, who, through all the noise,
Knew with affright his wreck'd Leander's voice,
And up he rose; for haste his forehead hit
'Gainst heaven's hard crystal; his proud waves he smit
With his forked sceptre, that could not obey;
Much greater powers than Neptune's gave them sway.
They loved Leander so, in groans they brake
When they came near him; and such space did take
'Twixt one another, loath to issue on,
That in their shallow furrows earth was shown,
And the poor lover took a little breath:
But the curst Fates sate spinning of his death
On every wave, and with the servile Winds
Tumbled them on him. And now Hero finds,
By that she felt, her dear Leander's state:
She wept, and prayed for him to every Fate;
And every Wind that whipped her with her hair
About the face, she kissed and spake it fair,
Kneeled to it, gave it drink out of her eyes
To quench his thirst: but still their cruelties
Even her poor torch envied, and rudely beat
The baiting flame from that dear food it eat;
Dear, for it nourish'd her Leander's life;
Which with her robe she rescued from their strife;
But silk too soft was such hard hearts to break;
And she, dear soul, even as her silk, faint, weak,
Could not preserve it; out, O, out it went!
Leander still call'd Neptune, that now rent
His brackish curls, and tore his wrinkled face,
Where tears in billows did each other chase;
And, burst with ruth, he hurl'd his marble mace
At the stern Fates: it wounded Lachesis
That drew Leander's thread, and could not miss
The thread itself, as it her hand did hit,
But smote it full, and quite did sunder it.
The more kind Neptune raged, the more he razed
His love's life's fort, and kill'd as he embraced:
Anger doth still his own mishap increase;
If any comfort live, it is in peace.
O thievish Fates, to let blood, flesh, and sense,
Build two fair temples for their excellence,
To robe it with a poisoned influence!
Though souls' gifts starve, the bodies are held dear
In ugliest things; sense-sport preserves a bear:
But here naught serves our turns: O heaven and earth,
How most-most wretched is our human birth!
And now did all the tyrannous crew depart,
Knowing there was a storm in Hero's heart,
Greater than they could make, and scorn'd their smart.
She bow'd herself so low out of her tower,
That wonder 'twas she fell not ere her hour,
With searching the lamenting waves for him:
Like a poor snail, her gentle supple limb
Hung on her turret's top, so most downright,
As she would dive beneath the darkness quite,
To find her jewel;--jewel!--her Leander,
A name of all earth's jewels pleas'd not her
Like his dear name: 'Leander, still my choice,
Come naught but my Leander! O my voice,
Turn to Leander! henceforth be all sounds,
Accents and phrases, that show all griefs' wounds,
Analyzed in Leander! O black change!
Trumpets, do you, with thunder of your clange,
Drive out this change's horror! My voice faints:
Where all joy was, now shriek out all complaints!'
Thus cried she; for her mixed soul could tell
Her love was dead: and when the Morning fell
Prostrate upon the weeping earth for woe,
Blushes, that bled out of her cheeks, did show
Leander brought by Neptune, bruis'd and torn
With cities' ruins he to rocks had worn,
To filthy usuring rocks, that would have blood,
Though they could get of him no other good.
She saw him, and the sight was much-much more
Than might have serv'd to kill her: should her store
Of giant sorrows speak?--Burst,--die,--bleed,
And leave poor plaints to us that shall succeed.
She fell on her love's bosom, hugged it fast,
And with Leander's name she breathed her last.
Neptune for pity in his arms did take them,
Flung them into the air, and did awake them
Like two sweet birds, surnam'd th' Acanthides,
Which we call Thistle-warps, that near no seas
Dare ever come, but still in couples fly,
And feed on thistle-tops, to testify
The hardness of their first life in their last;
The first, in thorns of love, that sorrows past:
And so most beautiful their colours show,
As none (so little) like them; her sad brow
A sable velvet feather covers quite,
Even like the forehead-cloth that, in the night,
Or when they sorrow, ladies use to wear:
Their wings, blue, red, and yellow, mixed appear:
Colours that, as we construe colours, paint
Their states to life;--the yellow shows their saint,
The dainty Venus, left them; blue their truth;
The red and black, ensigns of death and ruth.
And this true honour from their love-death sprung,--
They were the first that ever poet sung.
The Prisoner of Chillon
Sonnet on Chillon
Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart -
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd -
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar - for 'twas trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard! - May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
My hair is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,
And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd-forbidden fare;
But this was for my father's faith
I suffer'd chains and courted death;
That father perish'd at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling place;
We were seven-who now are one,
Six in youth, and one in age,
Finish'd as they had begun,
Proud of Persecution's rage;
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have seal'd,
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied;-
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.
There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For years-I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.
They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three-yet, each alone;
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight:
And thus together-yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but join'd in heart,
'Twas still some solace in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope, or legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,
A grating sound, not full and free,
As they of yore were wont to be:
It might be fancy-but to me
They never sounded like our own.
I was the eldest of the three
And to uphold and cheer the rest
I ought to do-and did my best-
And each did well in his degree.
The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him, with eyes as blue as heaven-
For him my soul was sorely moved:
And truly might it be distress'd
To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day-
(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles, being free)-
A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's gone,
Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun:
And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flow'd like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe
Which he abhorr'd to view below.
The other was as pure of mind,
But form'd to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank
With joy:-but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,
I saw it silently decline-
And so perchance in sooth did mine:
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,
Had followed there the deer and wolf;
To him this dungeon was a gulf,
And fetter'd feet the worst of ills.
Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,
Which round about the wave inthralls:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made-and like a living grave
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay:
We heard it ripple night and day;
Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,
And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.
I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captives' tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or him?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;
But why delay the truth?-he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand-nor dead,-
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died-and they unlock'd his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine-it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.
I might have spared my idle prayer-
They coldly laugh'd-and laid him there:
The flat and turfless earth above
The being we so much did love;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such Murder's fitting monument!
But he, the favourite and the flower,
Most cherish'd since his natal hour,
His mother's image in fair face
The infant love of all his race
His martyr'd father's dearest thought,
My latest care, for whom I sought
To hoard my life, that his might be
Less wretched now, and one day free;
He, too, who yet had held untired
A spirit natural or inspired-
He, too, was struck, and day by day
Was wither'd on the stalk away.
Oh, God! it is a fearful thing
To see the human soul take wing
In any shape, in any mood:
I've seen it rushing forth in blood,
I've seen it on the breaking ocean
Strive with a swoln convulsive motion,
I've seen the sick and ghastly bed
Of Sin delirious with its dread:
But these were horrors-this was woe
Unmix'd with such-but sure and slow:
He faded, and so calm and meek,
So softly worn, so sweetly weak,
So tearless, yet so tender-kind,
And grieved for those he left behind;
With all the while a cheek whose bloom
Was as a mockery of the tomb
Whose tints as gently sunk away
As a departing rainbow's ray;
An eye of most transparent light,
That almost made the dungeon bright;
And not a word of murmur-not
A groan o'er his untimely lot,-
A little talk of better days,
A little hope my own to raise,
For I was sunk in silence-lost
In this last loss, of all the most;
And then the sighs he would suppress
Of fainting Nature's feebleness,
More slowly drawn, grew less and less:
I listen'd, but I could not hear;
I call'd, for I was wild with fear;
I knew 'twas hopeless, but my dread
Would not be thus admonishèd;
I call'd, and thought I heard a sound-
I burst my chain with one strong bound,
And rushed to him:-I found him not,
I only stirred in this black spot,
I only lived, I only drew
The accursed breath of dungeon-dew;
The last, the sole, the dearest link
Between me and the eternal brink,
Which bound me to my failing race
Was broken in this fatal place.
One on the earth, and one beneath-
My brothers-both had ceased to breathe:
I took that hand which lay so still,
Alas! my own was full as chill;
I had not strength to stir, or strive,
But felt that I was still alive-
A frantic feeling, when we know
That what we love shall ne'er be so.
I know not why
I could not die,
I had no earthly hope-but faith,
And that forbade a selfish death.
What next befell me then and there
I know not well-I never knew-
First came the loss of light, and air,
And then of darkness too:
I had no thought, no feeling-none-
Among the stones I stood a stone,
And was, scarce conscious what I wist,
As shrubless crags within the mist;
For all was blank, and bleak, and grey;
It was not night-it was not day;
It was not even the dungeon-light,
So hateful to my heavy sight,
But vacancy absorbing space,
And fixedness-without a place;
There were no stars, no earth, no time,
No check, no change, no good, no crime
But silence, and a stirless breath
Which neither was of life nor death;
A sea of stagnant idleness,
Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless!
A light broke in upon my brain,-
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased, and then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard,
And mine was thankful till my eyes
Ran over with the glad surprise,
And they that moment could not see
I was the mate of misery;
But then by dull degrees came back
My senses to their wonted track;
I saw the dungeon walls and floor
Close slowly round me as before,
I saw the glimmer of the sun
Creeping as it before had done,
But through the crevice where it came
That bird was perch'd, as fond and tame,
And tamer than upon the tree;
A lovely bird, with azure wings,
And song that said a thousand things,
And seemed to say them all for me!
I never saw its like before,
I ne'er shall see its likeness more:
It seem'd like me to want a mate,
But was not half so desolate,
And it was come to love me when
None lived to love me so again,
And cheering from my dungeon's brink,
Had brought me back to feel and think.
I know not if it late were free,
Or broke its cage to perch on mine,
But knowing well captivity,
Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine!
Or if it were, in wingèd guise,
A visitant from Paradise;
For-Heaven forgive that thought! the while
Which made me both to weep and smile-
I sometimes deem'd that it might be
My brother's soul come down to me;
But then at last away it flew,
And then 'twas mortal well I knew,
For he would never thus have flown-
And left me twice so doubly lone,-
Lone as the corse within its shroud,
Lone as a solitary cloud,
A single cloud on a sunny day,
While all the rest of heaven is clear,
A frown upon the atmosphere,
That hath no business to appear
When skies are blue, and earth is gay.
A kind of change came in my fate,
My keepers grew compassionate;
I know not what had made them so,
They were inured to sights of woe,
But so it was:-my broken chain
With links unfasten'd did remain,
And it was liberty to stride
Along my cell from side to side,
And up and down, and then athwart,
And tread it over every part;
And round the pillars one by one,
Returning where my walk begun,
Avoiding only, as I trod,
My brothers' graves without a sod;
For if I thought with heedless tread
My step profaned their lowly bed,
My breath came gaspingly and thick,
And my crush'd heart felt blind and sick.
I made a footing in the wall,
It was not therefrom to escape,
For I had buried one and all,
Who loved me in a human shape;
And the whole earth would henceforth be
A wider prison unto me:
No child, no sire, no kin had I,
No partner in my misery;
I thought of this, and I was glad,
For thought of them had made me mad;
But I was curious to ascend
To my barr'd windows, and to bend
Once more, upon the mountains high,
The quiet of a loving eye.
I saw them-and they were the same,
They were not changed like me in frame;
I saw their thousand years of snow
On high-their wide long lake below,
And the blue Rhone in fullest flow;
I heard the torrents leap and gush
O'er channell'd rock and broken bush;
I saw the white-wall'd distant town,
And whiter sails go skimming down;
And then there was a little isle,
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;
A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor,
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o'er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.
The fish swam by the castle wall,
And they seem'd joyous each and all;
The eagle rode the rising blast,
Methought he never flew so fast
As then to me he seem'd to fly;
And then new tears came in my eye,
And I felt troubled-and would fain
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o'er one we sought to save,-
And yet my glance, too much opprest,
Had almost need of such a rest.
It might be months, or years, or days-
I kept no count, I took no note-
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair.
And thus when they appear'd at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage-and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made
And watch'd them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are:-even I
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh.
The Nuptials Of Attila
Flat as to an eagle's eye,
Earth hung under Attila.
Sign for carnage gave he none.
In the peace of his disdain,
Sun and rain, and rain and sun,
Cherished men to wax again,
Crawl, and in their manner die.
On his people stood a frost.
Like the charger cut in stone,
Rearing stiff, the warrior host,
Which had life from him alone,
Craved the trumpet's eager note,
As the bridled earth the Spring.
Rusty was the trumpet's throat.
He let chief and prophet rave;
Venturous earth around him string
Threads of grass and slender rye,
Wave them, and untrampled wave.
O for the time when God did cry,
Eye and have, my Attila!
Scorn of conquest filled like sleep
Him that drank of havoc deep
When the Green Cat pawed the globe:
When the horsemen from his bow
Shot in sheaves and made the foe
Crimson fringes of a robe,
Trailed o'er towns and fields in woe;
When they streaked the rivers red,
When the saddle was the bed.
Attila, my Attila!
He breathed peace and pulled a flower.
Eye and have, my Attila!
This was the damsel Ildico,
Rich in bloom until that hour:
Shyer than the forest doe
Twinkling slim through branches green.
Yet the shyest shall be seen.
Make the bed for Attila!
Seen of Attila, desired,
She was led to him straightway:
Radiantly was she attired;
Rifled lands were her array,
Jewels bled from weeping crowns,
Gold of woeful fields and towns.
She stood pallid in the light.
How she walked, how withered white,
From the blessing to the board,
She who would have proudly blushed,
Women whispered, asking why,
Hinting of a youth, and hushed.
Was it terror of her lord?
Was she childish? was she sly?
Was it the bright mantle's dye
Drained her blood to hues of grief
Like the ash that shoots the spark?
See the green tree all in leaf:
See the green tree stripped of bark! -
Make the bed for Attila!
Round the banquet-table's load
Scores of iron horsemen rode;
Chosen warriors, keen and hard;
Grain of threshing battle-dints;
Attila's fierce body-guard,
Smelling war like fire in flints.
Grant them peace be fugitive!
Iron-capped and iron-heeled,
Each against his fellow's shield
Smote the spear-head, shouting, Live,
Attila! my Attila!
Eagle, eagle of our breed,
Eagle, beak the lamb, and feed!
Have her, and unleash us! live,
Attila! my Attila!
He was of the blood to shine
Bronze in joy, like skies that scorch.
Beaming with the goblet wine
In the wavering of the torch,
Looked he backward on his bride.
Eye and have, my Attila!
Fair in her wide robe was she:
Where the robe and vest divide,
Fair she seemed surpassingly:
Soft, yet vivid as the stream
Danube rolls in the moonbeam
Through rock-barriers: but she smiled
Never, she sat cold as salt:
Open-mouthed as a young child
Wondering with a mind at fault.
Make the bed for Attila!
Under the thin hoop of gold
Whence in waves her hair outrolled,
'Twixt her brows the women saw
Shadows of a vulture's claw
Gript in flight: strange knots that sped
Closing and dissolving aye:
Such as wicked dreams betray
When pale dawn creeps o'er the bed.
They might show the common pang
Known to virgins, in whom dread
Hunts their bliss like famished hounds;
While the chiefs with roaring rounds
Tossed her to her lord, and sang
Praise of him whose hand was large,
Cheers for beauty brought to yield,
Chirrups of the trot afield,
Hurrahs of the battle-charge.
Those rock-faces hung with weed
Reddened: their great days of speed,
Slaughter, triumph, flood and flame,
Like a jealous frenzy wrought,
Scoffed at them and did them shame,
Quaffing idle, conquering nought.
O for the time when God decreed
Earth the prey of Attila!
God called on thee in his wrath,
Trample it to mire! 'Twas done.
Swift as Danube clove our path
Down from East to Western sun.
Huns! behold your pasture, gaze,
Take, our king said: heel to flank
(Whisper it, the war-horse neighs!)
Forth we drove, and blood we drank
Fresh as dawn-dew: earth was ours:
Men were flocks we lashed and spurned:
Fast as windy flame devours,
Flame along the wind, we burned.
Arrow javelin, spear, and sword!
Here the snows and there the plains;
On! our signal: onward poured
Torrents of the tightened reins,
Foaming over vine and corn
Hot against the city-wall.
Whisper it, you sound a horn
To the grey beast in the stall!
Yea, he whinnies at a nod.
O for sound of the trumpet-notes!
O for the time when thunder-shod,
He that scarce can munch his oats,
Hung on the peaks, brooded aloof,
Champed the grain of the wrath of God,
Pressed a cloud on the cowering roof,
Snorted out of the blackness fire!
Scarlet broke the sky, and down,
Hammering West with print of his hoof,
He burst out of the bosom of ire
Sharp as eyelight under thy frown,
Attila, my Attila!
Ravaged cities rolling smoke
Thick on cornfields dry and black,
Wave his banners, bear his yoke.
Track the lightning, and you track
Attila. They moan: 'tis he!
Bleed: 'tis he! Beneath his foot
Leagues are deserts charred and mute;
Where he passed, there passed a sea.
Attila, my Attila!
- Who breathed on the king cold breath?
Said a voice amid the host,
He is Death that weds a ghost,
Else a ghost that weds with Death?
Ildico's chill little hand
Shuddering he beheld: austere
Stared, as one who would command
Sight of what has filled his ear:
Plucked his thin beard, laughed disdain.
Feast, ye Huns! His arm be raised,
Like the warrior, battle-dazed,
Joining to the fight amain.
Make the bed for Attila!
Silent Ildico stood up.
King and chief to pledge her well,
Shocked sword sword and cup on cup,
Clamouring like a brazen bell.
Silent stepped the queenly slave.
Fair, by heaven! she was to meet
On a midnight, near a grave,
Flapping wide the winding-sheet.
Death and she walked through the crowd,
Out beyond the flush of light.
Ceremonious women bowed
Following her: 'twas middle night.
Then the warriors each on each
Spied, nor overloudly laughed;
Like the victims of the leech,
Who have drunk of a strange draught.
Attila remained. Even so
Frowned he when he struck the blow,
Brained his horse, that stumbled twice,
On a bloody day in Gaul,
Bellowing, Perish omens! All
Marvelled at the sacrifice,
But the battle, swinging dim,
Rang off that axe-blow for him.
Attila, my Attila!
Brightening over Danube wheeled
Star by star; and she, most fair,
Sweet as victory half-revealed,
Seized to make him glad and young;
She, O sweet as the dark sign
Given him oft in battles gone,
When the voice within said, Dare!
And the trumpet-notes were sprung
Rapturous for the charge in line:
She lay waiting: fair as dawn
Wrapped in folds of night she lay;
Secret, lustrous; flaglike there,
Waiting him to stream and ray,
With one loosening blush outflung,
Colours of his hordes of horse
Ranked for combat; still he hung
Like the fever dreading air,
Cursed of heat; and as a corse
Gathers vultures, in his brain
Images of her eyes and kiss
Plucked at the limbs that could remain
Loitering nigh the doors of bliss.
Make the bed for Attila!
Passion on one hand, on one,
Destiny led forth the Hun.
Heard ye outcries of affright,
Voices that through many a fray,
In the press of flag and spear,
Warned the king of peril near?
Men were dumb, they gave him way,
Eager heads to left and right,
Like the bearded standard, thrust,
As in battle, for a nod
From their lord of battle-dust.
Attila, my Attila!
Slow between the lines he trod.
Saw ye not the sun drop slow
On this nuptial day, ere eve
Pierced him on the couch aglow?
Attila, my Attila!
Here and there his heart would cleave
Clotted memory for a space:
Some stout chief's familiar face,
Choicest of his fighting brood,
Touched him, as 'twere one to know
Ere he met his bride's embrace.
Attila, my Attila!
Twisting fingers in a beard
Scant as winter underwood,
With a narrowed eye he peered;
Like the sunset's graver red
Up old pine-stems. Grave he stood
Eyeing them on whom was shed
Burning light from him alone.
Attila, my Attila!
Red were they whose mouths recalled
Where the slaughter mounted high,
High on it, o'er earth appalled,
He; heaven's finger in their sight
Raising him on waves of dead,
Up to heaven his trumpets blown.
O for the time when God's delight
Crowned the head of Attila!
Hungry river of the crag
Stretching hands for earth he came:
Force and Speed astride his name
Pointed back to spear and flag.
He came out of miracle cloud,
Lightning-swift and spectre-lean.
Now those days are in a shroud:
Have him to his ghostly queen.
Make the bed for Attila!
One, with winecups overstrung,
Cried him farewell in Rome's tongue.
Who? for the great king turned as though
Wrath to the shaft's head strained the bow.
Nay, not wrath the king possessed,
But a radiance of the breast.
In that sound he had the key
Of his cunning malady.
Lo, where gleamed the sapphire lake,
Leo, with his Rome at stake,
Drew blank air to hues and forms;
Whereof Two that shone distinct,
Linked as orbed stars are linked,
Clear among the myriad swarms,
In a constellation, dashed
Full on horse and rider's eyes
Sunless light, but light it was -
Light that blinded and abashed,
Froze his members, bade him pause,
Caught him mid-gallop, blazed him home.
Attila, my Attila!
What are streams that cease to flow?
What was Attila, rolled thence,
Cheated by a juggler's show?
Like that lake of blue intense,
Under tempest lashed to foam,
Lurid radiance, as he passed,
Filled him, and around was glassed,
When deep-voiced he uttered, Rome!
Rome! the word was: and like meat
Flung to dogs the word was torn.
Soon Rome's magic priests shall bleat
Round their magic Pope forlorn!
Loud they swore the king had sworn
Vengeance on the Roman cheat,
Ere he passed, as, grave and still,
Danube through the shouting hill:
Sworn it by his naked life!
Eagle, snakes these women are:
Take them on the wing! but war,
Smoking war's the warrior's wife!
Then for plunder! then for brides
Won without a winking priest! -
Danube whirled his train of tides
Black toward the yellow East.
Make the bed for Attila!
Chirrups of the trot afield,
Hurrahs of the battle-charge,
How they answered, how they pealed,
When the morning rose and drew
Bow and javelin, lance and targe,
In the nuptial casement's view!
Attila, my Attila!
Down the hillspurs, out of tents
Glimmering in mid-forest, through
Mists of the cool morning scents,
Forth from city-alley, court,
Arch, the bounding horsemen flew,
Joined along the plains of dew,
Raced and gave the rein to sport,
Closed and streamed like curtain-rents
Fluttered by a wind, and flowed
Into squadrons: trumpets blew,
Chargers neighed, and trappings glowed
Brave as the bright Orient's.
Look on the seas that run to greet
Sunrise: look on the leagues of wheat:
Look on the lines and squares that fret
Leaping to level the lance blood-wet.
Tens of thousands, man and steed,
Tossing like field-flowers in Spring;
Ready to be hurled at need
Whither their great lord may sling.
Finger Romeward, Romeward, King!
Attila, my Attila!
Still the woman holds him fast
As a night-flag round the mast.
Nigh upon the fiery noon,
Out of ranks a roaring burst.
'Ware white women like the moon!
They are poison: they have thirst
First for love, and next for rule.
Jealous of the army, she?
Ho, the little wanton fool!
We were his before she squealed
Blind for mother's milk, and heeled
Kicking on her mother's knee.
His in life and death are we:
She but one flower of a field.
We have given him bliss tenfold
In an hour to match her night:
Attila, my Attila!
Still her arms the master hold,
As on wounds the scarf winds tight.
Over Danube day no more,
Like the warrior's planted spear,
Stood to hail the King: in fear
Western day knocked at his door.
Attila, my Attila!
Sudden in the army's eyes
Rolled a blast of lights and cries:
Flashing through them: Dead are ye!
Dead, ye Huns, and torn piecemeal!
See the ordered army reel
Stricken through the ribs: and see,
Wild for speed to cheat despair,
Horsemen, clutching knee to chin,
Crouch and dart they know not where.
Attila, my Attila!
Faces covered, faces bare,
Light the palace-front like jets
Of a dreadful fire within.
Beating hands and driving hair
Start on roof and parapets.
Dust rolls up; the slaughter din.
- Death to them who call him dead!
Death to them who doubt the tale!
Choking in his dusty veil,
Sank the sun on his death-bed.
Make the bed for Attila!
'Tis the room where thunder sleeps.
Frenzy, as a wave to shore
Surging, burst the silent door,
And drew back to awful deeps
Breath beaten out, foam-white. Anew
Howled and pressed the ghastly crew,
Like storm-waters over rocks.
Attila, my Attila!
One long shaft of sunset red
Laid a finger on the bed.
Horror, with the snaky locks,
Shocked the surge to stiffened heaps,
Hoary as the glacier's head
Faced to the moon. Insane they look.
God it is in heaven who weeps
Fallen from his hand the Scourge he shook.
Make the bed for Attila!
Square along the couch, and stark,
Like the sea-rejected thing
Sea-sucked white, behold their King.
Attila, my Attila!
Beams that panted black and bright,
Scornful lightnings danced their sight:
Him they see an oak in bud,
Him an oaklog stripped of bark:
Him, their lord of day and night,
White, and lifting up his blood
Dumb for vengeance. Name us that,
Huddled in the corner dark
Humped and grinning like a cat,
Teeth for lips!--'tis she! she stares,
Glittering through her bristled hairs.
Rend her! Pierce her to the hilt!
She is Murder: have her out!
What! this little fist, as big
As the southern summer fig!
She is Madness, none may doubt.
Death, who dares deny her guilt!
Death, who says his blood she spilt!
Make the bed for Attila!
Torch and lamp and sunset-red
Fell three-fingered on the bed.
In the torch the beard-hair scant
With the great breast seemed to pant:
In the yellow lamp the limbs
Wavered, as the lake-flower swims:
In the sunset red the dead
Dead avowed him, dry blood-red.
Hatred of that abject slave,
Earth, was in each chieftain's heart.
Earth has got him, whom God gave,
Earth may sing, and earth shall smart!
Attila, my Attila!
Thus their prayer was raved and ceased.
Then had Vengeance of her feast
Scent in their quick pang to smite
Which they knew not, but huge pain
Urged them for some victim slain
Swift, and blotted from the sight.
Each at each, a crouching beast,
Glared, and quivered for the word.
Each at each, and all on that,
Humped and grinning like a cat,
Head-bound with its bridal-wreath.
Then the bitter chamber heard
Vengeance in a cauldron seethe.
Hurried counsel rage and craft
Yelped to hungry men, whose teeth
Hard the grey lip-ringlet gnawed,
Gleaming till their fury laughed.
With the steel-hilt in the clutch,
Eyes were shot on her that froze
In their blood-thirst overawed;
Burned to rend, yet feared to touch.
She that was his nuptial rose,
She was of his heart's blood clad:
Oh! the last of him she had! -
Could a little fist as big
As the southern summer fig,
Push a dagger's point to pierce
Ribs like those? Who else! They glared
Each at each. Suspicion fierce
Many a black remembrance bared.
Attila, my Attila!
Death, who dares deny her guilt!
Death, who says his blood she spilt!
Traitor he, who stands between!
Swift to hell, who harms the Queen!
She, the wild contention's cause,
Combed her hair with quiet paws.
Make the bed for Attila!
Night was on the host in arms.
Night, as never night before,
Hearkened to an army's roar
Breaking up in snaky swarms:
Torch and steel and snorting steed,
Hunted by the cry of blood,
Cursed with blindness, mad for day.
Where the torches ran a flood,
Tales of him and of the deed
Showered like a torrent spray.
Fear of silence made them strive
Loud in warrior-hymns that grew
Hoarse for slaughter yet unwreaked.
Ghostly Night across the hive,
With a crimson finger drew
Letters on her breast and shrieked.
Night was on them like the mould
On the buried half alive.
Night, their bloody Queen, her fold
Wound on them and struck them through.
Make the bed for Attila!
Earth has got him whom God gave,
Earth may sing, and earth shall smart!
None of earth shall know his grave.
They that dig with Death depart.
Attila, my Attila!
Thus their prayer was raved and passed:
Passed in peace their red sunset:
Hewn and earthed those men of sweat
Who had housed him in the vast,
Where no mortal might declare,
There lies he--his end was there!
Attila, my Attila!
Kingless was the army left:
Of its head the race bereft.
Every fury of the pit
Tortured and dismembered it.
Lo, upon a silent hour,
When the pitch of frost subsides,
Danube with a shout of power
Loosens his imprisoned tides:
Wide around the frighted plains
Shake to hear his riven chains,
Dreadfuller than heaven in wrath,
As he makes himself a path:
High leap the ice-cracks, towering pile
Floes to bergs, and giant peers
Wrestle on a drifted isle;
Island on ice-island rears;
Dissolution battles fast:
Big the senseless Titans loom,
Through a mist of common doom
Striving which shall die the last:
Till a gentle-breathing morn
Frees the stream from bank to bank.
So the Empire built of scorn
Agonized, dissolved and sank.
Of the Queen no more was told
Than of leaf on Danube rolled.
Make the bed for Attila!
The Princess (part 2)
At break of day the College Portress came:
She brought us Academic silks, in hue
The lilac, with a silken hood to each,
And zoned with gold; and now when these were on,
And we as rich as moths from dusk cocoons,
She, curtseying her obeisance, let us know
The Princess Ida waited: out we paced,
I first, and following through the porch that sang
All round with laurel, issued in a court
Compact of lucid marbles, bossed with lengths
Of classic frieze, with ample awnings gay
Betwixt the pillars, and with great urns of flowers.
The Muses and the Graces, grouped in threes,
Enringed a billowing fountain in the midst;
And here and there on lattice edges lay
Or book or lute; but hastily we past,
And up a flight of stairs into the hall.
There at a board by tome and paper sat,
With two tame leopards couched beside her throne,
All beauty compassed in a female form,
The Princess; liker to the inhabitant
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun,
Than our man's earth; such eyes were in her head,
And so much grace and power, breathing down
From over her arched brows, with every turn
Lived through her to the tips of her long hands,
And to her feet. She rose her height, and said:
'We give you welcome: not without redound
Of use and glory to yourselves ye come,
The first-fruits of the stranger: aftertime,
And that full voice which circles round the grave,
Will rank you nobly, mingled up with me.
What! are the ladies of your land so tall?'
'We of the court' said Cyril. 'From the court'
She answered, 'then ye know the Prince?' and he:
'The climax of his age! as though there were
One rose in all the world, your Highness that,
He worships your ideal:' she replied:
'We scarcely thought in our own hall to hear
This barren verbiage, current among men,
Light coin, the tinsel clink of compliment.
Your flight from out your bookless wilds would seem
As arguing love of knowledge and of power;
Your language proves you still the child. Indeed,
We dream not of him: when we set our hand
To this great work, we purposed with ourself
Never to wed. You likewise will do well,
Ladies, in entering here, to cast and fling
The tricks, which make us toys of men, that so,
Some future time, if so indeed you will,
You may with those self-styled our lords ally
Your fortunes, justlier balanced, scale with scale.'
At those high words, we conscious of ourselves,
Perused the matting: then an officer
Rose up, and read the statutes, such as these:
Not for three years to correspond with home;
Not for three years to cross the liberties;
Not for three years to speak with any men;
And many more, which hastily subscribed,
We entered on the boards: and 'Now,' she cried,
'Ye are green wood, see ye warp not. Look, our hall!
Our statues!--not of those that men desire,
Sleek Odalisques, or oracles of mode,
Nor stunted squaws of West or East; but she
That taught the Sabine how to rule, and she
The foundress of the Babylonian wall,
The Carian Artemisia strong in war,
The Rhodope, that built the pyramid,
Clelia, Cornelia, with the Palmyrene
That fought Aurelian, and the Roman brows
Of Agrippina. Dwell with these, and lose
Convention, since to look on noble forms
Makes noble through the sensuous organism
That which is higher. O lift your natures up:
Embrace our aims: work out your freedom. Girls,
Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed:
Drink deep, until the habits of the slave,
The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite
And slander, die. Better not be at all
Than not be noble. Leave us: you may go:
Today the Lady Psyche will harangue
The fresh arrivals of the week before;
For they press in from all the provinces,
And fill the hive.'
She spoke, and bowing waved
Dismissal: back again we crost the court
To Lady Psyche's: as we entered in,
There sat along the forms, like morning doves
That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch,
A patient range of pupils; she herself
Erect behind a desk of satin-wood,
A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed,
And on the hither side, or so she looked,
Of twenty summers. At her left, a child,
In shining draperies, headed like a star,
Her maiden babe, a double April old,
Aglaïa slept. We sat: the Lady glanced:
Then Florian, but not livelier than the dame
That whispered 'Asses' ears', among the sedge,
'My sister.' 'Comely, too, by all that's fair,'
Said Cyril. 'Oh hush, hush!' and she began.
'This world was once a fluid haze of light,
Till toward the centre set the starry tides,
And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast
The planets: then the monster, then the man;
Tattooed or woaded, winter-clad in skins,
Raw from the prime, and crushing down his mate;
As yet we find in barbarous isles, and here
Among the lowest.'
Thereupon she took
A bird's-eye-view of all the ungracious past;
Glanced at the legendary Amazon
As emblematic of a nobler age;
Appraised the Lycian custom, spoke of those
That lay at wine with Lar and Lucumo;
Ran down the Persian, Grecian, Roman lines
Of empire, and the woman's state in each,
How far from just; till warming with her theme
She fulmined out her scorn of laws Salique
And little-footed China, touched on Mahomet
With much contempt, and came to chivalry:
When some respect, however slight, was paid
To woman, superstition all awry:
However then commenced the dawn: a beam
Had slanted forward, falling in a land
Of promise; fruit would follow. Deep, indeed,
Their debt of thanks to her who first had dared
To leap the rotten pales of prejudice,
Disyoke their necks from custom, and assert
None lordlier than themselves but that which made
Woman and man. She had founded; they must build.
Here might they learn whatever men were taught:
Let them not fear: some said their heads were less:
Some men's were small; not they the least of men;
For often fineness compensated size:
Besides the brain was like the hand, and grew
With using; thence the man's, if more was more;
He took advantage of his strength to be
First in the field: some ages had been lost;
But woman ripened earlier, and her life
Was longer; and albeit their glorious names
Were fewer, scattered stars, yet since in truth
The highest is the measure of the man,
And not the Kaffir, Hottentot, Malay,
Nor those horn-handed breakers of the glebe,
But Homer, Plato, Verulam; even so
With woman: and in arts of government
Elizabeth and others; arts of war
The peasant Joan and others; arts of grace
Sappho and others vied with any man:
And, last not least, she who had left her place,
And bowed her state to them, that they might grow
To use and power on this Oasis, lapt
In the arms of leisure, sacred from the blight
Of ancient influence and scorn.
She rose upon a wind of prophecy
Dilating on the future; 'everywhere
Who heads in council, two beside the hearth,
Two in the tangled business of the world,
Two in the liberal offices of life,
Two plummets dropt for one to sound the abyss
Of science, and the secrets of the mind:
Musician, painter, sculptor, critic, more:
And everywhere the broad and bounteous Earth
Should bear a double growth of those rare souls,
Poets, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the world.'
She ended here, and beckoned us: the rest
Parted; and, glowing full-faced welcome, she
Began to address us, and was moving on
In gratulation, till as when a boat
Tacks, and the slackened sail flaps, all her voice
Faltering and fluttering in her throat, she cried
'My brother!' 'Well, my sister.' 'O,' she said,
'What do you here? and in this dress? and these?
Why who are these? a wolf within the fold!
A pack of wolves! the Lord be gracious to me!
A plot, a plot, a plot to ruin all!'
'No plot, no plot,' he answered. 'Wretched boy,
How saw you not the inscription on the gate,
LET NO MAN ENTER IN ON PAIN OF DEATH?'
'And if I had,' he answered, 'who could think
The softer Adams of your Academe,
O sister, Sirens though they be, were such
As chanted on the blanching bones of men?'
'But you will find it otherwise' she said.
'You jest: ill jesting with edge-tools! my vow
Binds me to speak, and O that iron will,
That axelike edge unturnable, our Head,
The Princess.' 'Well then, Psyche, take my life,
And nail me like a weasel on a grange
For warning: bury me beside the gate,
And cut this epitaph above my bones;
~Here lies a brother by a sister slain,
All for the common good of womankind.~'
'Let me die too,' said Cyril, 'having seen
And heard the Lady Psyche.'
I struck in:
'Albeit so masked, Madam, I love the truth;
Receive it; and in me behold the Prince
Your countryman, affianced years ago
To the Lady Ida: here, for here she was,
And thus (what other way was left) I came.'
'O Sir, O Prince, I have no country; none;
If any, this; but none. Whate'er I was
Disrooted, what I am is grafted here.
Affianced, Sir? love-whispers may not breathe
Within this vestal limit, and how should I,
Who am not mine, say, live: the thunderbolt
Hangs silent; but prepare: I speak; it falls.'
'Yet pause,' I said: 'for that inscription there,
I think no more of deadly lurks therein,
Than in a clapper clapping in a garth,
To scare the fowl from fruit: if more there be,
If more and acted on, what follows? war;
Your own work marred: for this your Academe,
Whichever side be Victor, in the halloo
Will topple to the trumpet down, and pass
With all fair theories only made to gild
A stormless summer.' 'Let the Princess judge
Of that' she said: 'farewell, Sir--and to you.
I shudder at the sequel, but I go.'
'Are you that Lady Psyche,' I rejoined,
'The fifth in line from that old Florian,
Yet hangs his portrait in my father's hall
(The gaunt old Baron with his beetle brow
Sun-shaded in the heat of dusty fights)
As he bestrode my Grandsire, when he fell,
And all else fled? we point to it, and we say,
The loyal warmth of Florian is not cold,
But branches current yet in kindred veins.'
'Are you that Psyche,' Florian added; 'she
With whom I sang about the morning hills,
Flung ball, flew kite, and raced the purple fly,
And snared the squirrel of the glen? are you
That Psyche, wont to bind my throbbing brow,
To smoothe my pillow, mix the foaming draught
Of fever, tell me pleasant tales, and read
My sickness down to happy dreams? are you
That brother-sister Psyche, both in one?
You were that Psyche, but what are you now?'
'You are that Psyche,' said Cyril, 'for whom
I would be that for ever which I seem,
Woman, if I might sit beside your feet,
And glean your scattered sapience.'
Then once more,
'Are you that Lady Psyche,' I began,
'That on her bridal morn before she past
From all her old companions, when the kind
Kissed her pale cheek, declared that ancient ties
Would still be dear beyond the southern hills;
That were there any of our people there
In want or peril, there was one to hear
And help them? look! for such are these and I.'
'Are you that Psyche,' Florian asked, 'to whom,
In gentler days, your arrow-wounded fawn
Came flying while you sat beside the well?
The creature laid his muzzle on your lap,
And sobbed, and you sobbed with it, and the blood
Was sprinkled on your kirtle, and you wept.
That was fawn's blood, not brother's, yet you wept.
O by the bright head of my little niece,
You were that Psyche, and what are you now?'
'You are that Psyche,' Cyril said again,
'The mother of the sweetest little maid,
That ever crowed for kisses.'
'Out upon it!'
She answered, 'peace! and why should I not play
The Spartan Mother with emotion, be
The Lucius Junius Brutus of my kind?
Him you call great: he for the common weal,
The fading politics of mortal Rome,
As I might slay this child, if good need were,
Slew both his sons: and I, shall I, on whom
The secular emancipation turns
Of half this world, be swerved from right to save
A prince, a brother? a little will I yield.
Best so, perchance, for us, and well for you.
O hard, when love and duty clash! I fear
My conscience will not count me fleckless; yet--
Hear my conditions: promise (otherwise
You perish) as you came, to slip away
Today, tomorrow, soon: it shall be said,
These women were too barbarous, would not learn;
They fled, who might have shamed us: promise, all.'
What could we else, we promised each; and she,
Like some wild creature newly-caged, commenced
A to-and-fro, so pacing till she paused
By Florian; holding out her lily arms
Took both his hands, and smiling faintly said:
'I knew you at the first: though you have grown
You scarce have altered: I am sad and glad
To see you, Florian. ~I~ give thee to death
My brother! it was duty spoke, not I.
My needful seeming harshness, pardon it.
Our mother, is she well?'
With that she kissed
His forehead, then, a moment after, clung
About him, and betwixt them blossomed up
From out a common vein of memory
Sweet household talk, and phrases of the hearth,
And far allusion, till the gracious dews
Began to glisten and to fall: and while
They stood, so rapt, we gazing, came a voice,
'I brought a message here from Lady Blanche.'
Back started she, and turning round we saw
The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood,
Melissa, with her hand upon the lock,
A rosy blonde, and in a college gown,
That clad her like an April daffodilly
(Her mother's colour) with her lips apart,
And all her thoughts as fair within her eyes,
As bottom agates seen to wave and float
In crystal currents of clear morning seas.
So stood that same fair creature at the door.
Then Lady Psyche, 'Ah--Melissa--you!
You heard us?' and Melissa, 'O pardon me
I heard, I could not help it, did not wish:
But, dearest Lady, pray you fear me not,
Nor think I bear that heart within my breast,
To give three gallant gentlemen to death.'
'I trust you,' said the other, 'for we two
Were always friends, none closer, elm and vine:
But yet your mother's jealous temperament--
Let not your prudence, dearest, drowse, or prove
The Danaïd of a leaky vase, for fear
This whole foundation ruin, and I lose
My honour, these their lives.' 'Ah, fear me not'
Replied Melissa; 'no--I would not tell,
No, not for all Aspasia's cleverness,
No, not to answer, Madam, all those hard things
That Sheba came to ask of Solomon.'
'Be it so' the other, 'that we still may lead
The new light up, and culminate in peace,
For Solomon may come to Sheba yet.'
Said Cyril, 'Madam, he the wisest man
Feasted the woman wisest then, in halls
Of Lebanonian cedar: nor should you
(Though, Madam, ~you~ should answer, ~we~ would ask)
Less welcome find among us, if you came
Among us, debtors for our lives to you,
Myself for something more.' He said not what,
But 'Thanks,' she answered 'Go: we have been too long
Together: keep your hoods about the face;
They do so that affect abstraction here.
Speak little; mix not with the rest; and hold
Your promise: all, I trust, may yet be well.'
We turned to go, but Cyril took the child,
And held her round the knees against his waist,
And blew the swollen cheek of a trumpeter,
While Psyche watched them, smiling, and the child
Pushed her flat hand against his face and laughed;
And thus our conference closed.
And then we strolled
For half the day through stately theatres
Benched crescent-wise. In each we sat, we heard
The grave Professor. On the lecture slate
The circle rounded under female hands
With flawless demonstration: followed then
A classic lecture, rich in sentiment,
With scraps of thunderous Epic lilted out
By violet-hooded Doctors, elegies
And quoted odes, and jewels five-words-long
That on the stretched forefinger of all Time
Sparkle for ever: then we dipt in all
That treats of whatsoever is, the state,
The total chronicles of man, the mind,
The morals, something of the frame, the rock,
The star, the bird, the fish, the shell, the flower,
Electric, chemic laws, and all the rest,
And whatsoever can be taught and known;
Till like three horses that have broken fence,
And glutted all night long breast-deep in corn,
We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke:
'Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we.'
'They hunt old trails' said Cyril 'very well;
But when did woman ever yet invent?'
'Ungracious!' answered Florian; 'have you learnt
No more from Psyche's lecture, you that talked
The trash that made me sick, and almost sad?'
'O trash' he said, 'but with a kernel in it.
Should I not call her wise, who made me wise?
And learnt? I learnt more from her in a flash,
Than in my brainpan were an empty hull,
And every Muse tumbled a science in.
A thousand hearts lie fallow in these halls,
And round these halls a thousand baby loves
Fly twanging headless arrows at the hearts,
Whence follows many a vacant pang; but O
With me, Sir, entered in the bigger boy,
The Head of all the golden-shafted firm,
The long-limbed lad that had a Psyche too;
He cleft me through the stomacher; and now
What think you of it, Florian? do I chase
The substance or the shadow? will it hold?
I have no sorcerer's malison on me,
No ghostly hauntings like his Highness. I
Flatter myself that always everywhere
I know the substance when I see it. Well,
Are castles shadows? Three of them? Is she
The sweet proprietress a shadow? If not,
Shall those three castles patch my tattered coat?
For dear are those three castles to my wants,
And dear is sister Psyche to my heart,
And two dear things are one of double worth,
And much I might have said, but that my zone
Unmanned me: then the Doctors! O to hear
The Doctors! O to watch the thirsty plants
Imbibing! once or twice I thought to roar,
To break my chain, to shake my mane: but thou,
Modulate me, Soul of mincing mimicry!
Make liquid treble of that bassoon, my throat;
Abase those eyes that ever loved to meet
Star-sisters answering under crescent brows;
Abate the stride, which speaks of man, and loose
A flying charm of blushes o'er this cheek,
Where they like swallows coming out of time
Will wonder why they came: but hark the bell
For dinner, let us go!'
And in we streamed
Among the columns, pacing staid and still
By twos and threes, till all from end to end
With beauties every shade of brown and fair
In colours gayer than the morning mist,
The long hall glittered like a bed of flowers.
How might a man not wander from his wits
Pierced through with eyes, but that I kept mine own
Intent on her, who rapt in glorious dreams,
The second-sight of some Astræan age,
Sat compassed with professors: they, the while,
Discussed a doubt and tost it to and fro:
A clamour thickened, mixt with inmost terms
Of art and science: Lady Blanche alone
Of faded form and haughtiest lineaments,
With all her autumn tresses falsely brown,
Shot sidelong daggers at us, a tiger-cat
In act to spring.
At last a solemn grace
Concluded, and we sought the gardens: there
One walked reciting by herself, and one
In this hand held a volume as to read,
And smoothed a petted peacock down with that:
Some to a low song oared a shallop by,
Or under arches of the marble bridge
Hung, shadowed from the heat: some hid and sought
In the orange thickets: others tost a ball
Above the fountain-jets, and back again
With laughter: others lay about the lawns,
Of the older sort, and murmured that their May
Was passing: what was learning unto them?
They wished to marry; they could rule a house;
Men hated learned women: but we three
Sat muffled like the Fates; and often came
Melissa hitting all we saw with shafts
Of gentle satire, kin to charity,
That harmed not: then day droopt; the chapel bells
Called us: we left the walks; we mixt with those
Six hundred maidens clad in purest white,
Before two streams of light from wall to wall,
While the great organ almost burst his pipes,
Groaning for power, and rolling through the court
A long melodious thunder to the sound
Of solemn psalms, and silver litanies,
The work of Ida, to call down from Heaven
A blessing on her labours for the world.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
Adam: A Sacred Drama. Act 1.
CHORUS OF ANGELS, Singing the Glory of God.
To Heaven's bright lyre let Iris be the bow,
Adapt the spheres for chords, for notes the stars;
Let new-born gales discriminate the bars,
Nor let old Time to measure times be slow.
Hence to new Music of the eternal Lyre
Add richer harmony and praise to praise;
For him who now his wondrous might displays,
And shows the Universe its awful Sire.
O Thou who ere the World or Heaven was made,
Didst in thyself, that World, that Heaven enjoy,
How does thy bounty all its powers employ;
What inexpressive good hast thou displayed!
O Thou of sovereign love almighty source,
Who knowest to make thy works thy love express,
Let pure devotion's fire the soul possess,
And give the heart and hand a kindred force.
Then shalt thou hear how, when the world began,
Thy life-producing voice gave myriads birth,
Called forth from nothing all in Heaven and Earth
Blessed in thy light Eagles in the Sun.
Scene I. -- God The Father. -- Chorus of Angels.
Raise from this dark abyss thy horrid visage,
O Lucifer! aggrieved by light so potent,
Shrink from the blaze of these refulgent planets
And pant beneath the rays of no fierce sun;
Read in the sacred volumes of the sky,
The mighty wonders of a hand divine.
Behold, thou frantic rebel,
How easy is the task,
To the great Sire of Worlds,
To raise his his empyrean seat sublime:
Thither whence pride hath fallen.
From thence with bitter grief,
Inhabitant of fire, and mole of darkness,
Let the perverse behold,
Despairing his escape and my compassion,
His own perdition in another's good,
And Heaven now closed to him, to others opened;
And sighing from the bottom of his heart,
Let him in homage to my power exclaim,
Ah, this creative Sire,
(Wretch as I am) I see,
Hath need of nothing but himself alone
To re-establish all.
The Seraphim Sing.
O scene worth heavenly musing,
With sun and moon their glorious light diffusing;
Where to angelic voices,
Sphere circling sphere rejoices,
How dost thou rise, exciting
Man to fond contemplation
Of his benign creation!
The Cherubim Sing.
The volume of the stars,
The sovereign Author planned,
Inscribing it with his eternal hand,
And his benignant aim
Their beams in lucid characters proclaim;
And man in these delighting,
Feels their bright beams inviting,
And seems, though prisoned in these mortal bars,
Walking on earth to mingle with the stars.
God The Father.
Angels, desert your Heaven! with you to Earth,
That Power descends, whom Heaven accompanies;
Let each spectator of these works sublime
Behold, with meek devotion,
Earth into flesh transformed, and clay to man,
Man to a sovereign lord,
And souls to seraphim.
The Seraphim Sing.
Now let us cleave the sky with wings of gold,
The world be paradise,
Since to its fruitful breast
Now the great Sovereign of our quire descends;
Now let us cleave the sky with wings of gold;
Strew yourselves flowers beneath the step divine,
Ye rivals of the stars!
Summoned from every sphere
Ye gems of heaven, heaven's radiant wealth appear;
Now let us cleave the sky with wings of gold!
God The Father.
Behold, ye springing herbs and new-born flowers,
The step that used to press the stars alone
And the sun's spacious road,
This day begins, along the sylvan scene,
To leave its grand impression;
To low materials now I stretch my hand,
To form a work sublime.
The Angels Sing.
Lament, lament in anguish,
Angel to God rebellious!
See, on a sudden rise
The creature doomed to fill thy radiant seat!
Foolish thy pride took fire
Contemplating thy birth;
But he o'er pride shall triumph,
Acknowledging he sprung from humble dust.
From hence he shall acquire
As much as thou hast lost;
Since he supreme Inhabitant of Heaven
Receives the humble, and dethrones the proud.
God The Father.
Adam, arise, since I do thee impart
A spirit warm from my benignant breath:
Arise, arise, first man,
And joyous let the world
Embrace its living miniature in thee!
Adam. O marvels new, O hallowed, O divine,
Eternal object of the angel host:
Why do I not possess tongues numerous
As now the stars in heaven?
Now then, before
A thing of earth so mean,
See I the great Artificer divine?
Mighty Ruler supernal,
If 'tis denied this tongue
To match my obligation with my thanks,
Behold my heart's affection,
And hear it speaking clearer than my tongue,
And to thee bending lower
Than this my humble knee.
Now, now, O Lord, in ecstasy devout,
Let my mind mount, and passing all the clouds,
Passing each sphere, even up to heaven ascend,
And there behold the stars, a seat for man!
Thou Lord, who all the fire of genuine love
Convertest to thyself,
Transform me into thee, that I a part
Even of thyself, may thus acquire the power
To offer praises not unworthy thee.
The Angels Sing.
To smile in paradise,
Great demigod of earth, direct thy step;
There like the tuneful spheres,
Circle the murmuring rills
Of limpid water bright;
There the melodious birds
Rival angelic quires;
There lovely flowers profuse
Appear as vivid stars;
The snow rose is there,
A silver moon, the heliotrope a sun:
What more can be desired,
By earth's new lord in fair corporeal vest,
Than in the midst of earth to find a heaven?
Adam. O ye harmonious birds!
Bright scene of lovely flowers.
But what delightful slumber
Falls on my closing eyes?
I lay me down, adieu
Unclouded light of day, sweet air adieu!
God The Father.
Adam, behold I come,
Son dear to me, thou son
Of an indulgent sire;
Behold the hand that never works in vain;
Behold the hand that joined the elements,
That added heaven to heavens,
That filled the stars with light,
Gave lustre to the moon,
Prescribed the sun his course,
And now supports the world,
And forms a solid stage for thy firm step.
Now sleeping, Adam from thy opened side
The substance I will take
That shall have woman's name, and lovely form.
The Angels Sing.
Immortal works of an immortal Maker!
Ye high and blessed seats
Of this delightful world,
Ye starry seats of heaven,
Trophies divine, productions pre-ordained;
O power! O energy!
Which out of shadowy horror formed the Sun!
Eve. What heavenly melody pervades my heart,
Ere yet the sound my ear! inviting me
To gaze on wonders, what do I behold,
What transformations new;
Is earth become the heaven?
Do I behold his light
Whose splendour dazzles the meridian sun?
Am I the creature of that plastic hand,
Who formed of nought the angels and the heavens?
Thou sovereign Lord! whom lowly I adore,
A love so tender penetrates my heart,
That while my tongue ventures on utterance,
The words with difficulty
Find passage from my lips;
For in a tide of tears,
(That sighs have caused to flow) they seem absorbed.
Thou pure celestial love
Of the benignant power,
Who pleased to manifest on earth his glory,
Now to this world descends,
To draw from abject clay
The governor of all created things:
Lord of the hallowed and concealed affection.
Thou in whom love glows with such fervent flame,
Inspirit even my tongue
With suitable reply, that these dear vales
And sylvan scenes may hear
Thanks, that to thee I should devote, my Sire,
But if my tongue be mute, speak thou, my heart.
God The Father.
Adam, awake! and cease
To meditate in rapturous trance profound
Things holy and abstruse,
And the deep secrets of the Trinal Lord.
Adam. Where am I? where have I been? what Sun
Of triple influence that dims the day
Now from my eye withdraws, where is he vanished?
O hallowed miracles
Of this imperial seat,
Of these resplendent suns,
Which though divided, form
A single ray of light immeasurable,
Embellishing all Heaven,
And giving grace and lustre
To every winged Seraph;
Divine mysterious light,
Flowing from sovereign Good,
To him alone thou art known,
Who mounts to thee an eagle in his faith.
What rose of snowy hue and sacred form,
In these celestial bowers,
Wet with Empyreal dews, have I beheld
Opening its bosom to the suns! or rather
One of these suns making the rose its Heaven;
And in a moment's space,
(O marvels most sublime,)
With deluges of light,
And in a lily's form,
Rise from that lovely virgin bosom blest.
Can suns be lilies then,
And lilies children of the maiden rose?
God The Father.
The Heaven's too lofty, and too low the world;
Suffice it that in vain
Man's humble intellect
Attempts to sound the depths of deeds divine:
Press in the fond embraces of thy heart
The consort of thy bosom,
And let her name be Eve.
Adam. O my beloved companion,
Support my existence,
My glory and my power,
Flesh of my flesh, and of my bone the bone,
Behold I clasp thy bosom
In plenitude of pure and hallowed love.
God The Father.
I leave you now, my children; rest in peace,
Receive my blessing, and so fruitful prove
That for your offspring earth may scarce suffice:
Man, be thou lord of all that now the sun
Warms or the ocean laves; impose a name
On every thing that flies, or runs, or swims.
Now through the ear descending to your soul
Receive the immutable decree; hear, Adam,
Let thy companion hear, and in your hearts
Made abode of love,
Cherish the mighty word!
Of fruits whatever from a spreading branch
Each copious tree may offer to your hands,
Of dainty viands whatsoe'er abound
In this delightful garden,
This paradise of flowers,
The gay delight of man,
The treasure of the earth,
The wonder of the world, the work of God,
These, O my son, these thou art free to taste:
But of the Tree comprising Good and Evil
Under the pain of dying
To him who knows not death,
Be now the fruit forbidden!
I leave ye now, and through my airy road,
Departing from the world, return to Heaven.
The Seraphim Sing.
Let every airy cloud on earth descend,
And luminous and light
Repose with God upon this glowing sphere!
Then let the stars descend,
Descend the moon and sun,
Forming bright steps to the empyreal world,
And each rejoice that the supreme Creator
Has deigned to visit what his hand produced.
Adam. O scene of splendour, viewing which I see
The glories of my God in lovelier light,
How through my eyes do you console my heart!
See, at a single nod of our great Sire,
(Dear partner of my life,)
Fire bursting forth with elemental power!
The Sea, Heaven, Earth, their properties assume,
And air grows air, although there were before
Nor fire, nor heaven, nor air, nor earth, nor sea.
Behold the azure sky, in which ofttimes
The lovely glittering star
Shall wake the dawn, attired in heavenly light,
The herald of the morn,
To spread the boundless lustre of the day;
Then shall the radiant sun,
To gladden all the world,
Diffuse abroad his energy of light;
And when his eye is weary of the earth,
The pure and silvery moon
And the minuter stars
Shall form the pomp of night.
Behold where fire o'er every element,
Lucid and light, assumes its lofty seat!
Behold the simple field of spotless air
Made the support of variegated birds,
That with their tuneful notes
Guide the delightful hours!
See the great bosom of the fertile earth
With flowers embellished and with fruits mature!
See on her verdant brow she seems to bear
Hills as her crown, and as her sceptre trees!
Behold the ocean's fair cerulean plain,
That 'midst its humid sands and vales profound,
And 'midst its silent and its scaly tribes,
Rolls over buried gold and precious pearl,
And crimson coral raising to the sky
Its wavy head with herbs and amber crowned!
Stupendous all proclaim
Their Maker's power and glory.
Eve. All manifest thy might,
Or Architect divine!
Adam. Dear partner, let us go
Where to invite our step
God's other wonders shine, a countless tribe.
Lucifer. Who from my dark abyss
Calls me to gaze on this excess of light?
What miracles unseen
Showest thou to me, O God?
Art thou then tired of residence in heaven?
Why hast thou formed on earth
This lovely paradise?
And wherefore place in it
Two earthly demi-gods of human mould?
Say thou vile architect,
Forming thy work of dust,
What will befall this naked, helpless man,
The sole inhabitant of glens and woods?
Does he then dream of treading on the stars?
Heaven is impoverished, and I, alone
The cause, enjoy the ruin I produced.
Let him unite above
Star upon star, moon, sun,
And let his Godhead toil
To re-adorn and re-illume his Heaven!
Since in the end derision
Shall prove his works, and all his efforts vain:
For Lucifer alone was that full light
Which scattered radiance o'er the plains of heaven.
But these his present fires, are shade and smoke,
Base counterfeits of my more potent beams.
I reck not what he means to make his heaven,
Nor care I what his creature man may be.
Too obstinate and firm
Is my undaunted thought,
In proving that I am implacable
'Gainst Heaven, 'gainst Man, the Angels, and their God.
SCENE III. -- Satan, Beelzebub, and Lucifer.
Satan. To light, to light to raise the embattled brows,
A symbol of the firm and generous heart
That ardent dwells in the unconquered breast.
Must we then suffer such excessive wrong?
And shall we not with hands, thus talon-armed,
Tear out the stars from their celestial seat;
And as our sign of conquest,
Down in our dark abyss
Shall we not force the sun, and moon to blaze,
Since we are those, who in dread feats of arms
Warring amongst the stars,
Made the bright face of Heaven turn pale with fear.
To arms! to arms! redoubted Beelzebub!
Ere yet 'tis heard around,
To our great wrong and memorable shame,
That by the race of man (mean child of clay)
The stars expect a new sublimity.
Beelzebub. I burn with such fierce flame,
Such stormy venom deluges my soul,
That with intestine rage
My groans like thunder sound, my looks are lightning,
And my extorted tears are fiery showers!
'Tis needful therefore from my brow to shake
The hissing sperents that o'erstrade my visage,
To gaze upon these mighty works of Heaven,
And the new demi-gods.
Silent be he, who thinks
(Now that this man is formed,)
To imitate his voice and thus exclaim,
Distressful Satan, ye unhappy spirits,
How wretched is your lot, from being first,
Fallen and degenerate, lost as ye are;
Heaven was your station once, your seat the stars,
And your great Maker God!
Now abject wretches, having lost for ever,
Eternal morn and each celestial light,
Heaven calls you now the denizens of woe
Instead of moving in the solar road,
You press the plains of everlasting night;
And for your golden tresses,
And looks angelical,
Your locks are snaky, and your glance malign,
Your burning lips a murky vapour breathe,
And every tongue now teems with blasphemy,
And all blaspheming raise
A cloud sulphereous of foam and fire
Armed with the eagle's talon, feet of goat,
And dragon's wing, your residence in fire,
Profoundest Tartarus unblest and dark,
The theatre of anguish,
That shuts itself against the beams of day,
Since that dread angel, born to brook no law,
To desolate the sky
And raise the powers of Hell,
Ought to breathe sanguine fire, and on his brow
Display the ensign of sublimest horrow.
Satan. Though armed with talons keen, and eagle beak,
Snaky our tresses, and our aspect fierce,
Cloven our feet, our frames with horror plumed,
And though our deep abode
Be fixed in shadowy scenes of darkest night,
Let us be angels still in dignity;
As far surpassing others as the Lord
Of highest power, his low and humble slaves.
If far from heaven our pennons we expand,
Let us remember still
That we alone are lords, and they are slaves;
And that resigning meaner seats in heaven,
We in their stead have raised a royal throne
Immense and massy, where the mighty chief
Of all our legions hither lifts his brow,
Than the proud mountain that upholds your heaven;
And there with heaven still waging endless war,
Threatening the stars, our adversaries ever,
Bears a dread sceptre kindling into flame,
That while he wheels it round, darts forth a blaze
More dazzling than the sun's meridian ray.
Lucifer. 'Tis time to show my power, my brave compeers,
Magnanimous and mighty
Angels endowed with martial potency,
I know the grief that gives you living death,
Is to see man exalted
To stations so sublime,
That all created things to him submit;
Since ye already doubt,
That to those lofty seats of flaming glory,
(Our treasure once and pride, but now renounced,)
This pair shall one day rise
With all the numerous train
Of their posterity.
Satan. Great Lord of the infernal deep abyss,
To thee I bow, and speak
The anguish of my soul,
That for this man, grows hourly more severe,
Fearing the Incarnation of the Word.
Lucifer. Can it be true, that from so little dust
A deity shall rise!
That flesh, that deity, that lofty power,
That chains us to the deep?
To this vile clod of earth,
He who himself yet claims to be adored?
Shall angels then do homage thus to men?
And can then flesh impure
Give to angelic nature higher powers?
Can it be true, and to devise the mode
Escape our intellect, ours who so dear
Have bought the boast of wisdom?
I yet am He, I am,
Who would not suffer that above in heaven,
Your lofty nature should submit to outrage,
When that insensate wish
Possessed the tyrant of the starry throne,
That you should prostrate fall,
Before the Incarnate Word:
I am that Spirit, I, who for your sake
Collecting dauntless courage to the north
Led you far distant from the senseless will,
Of him who boasts to have created heaven.
And ye are those, your ardour speaks you well,
And your bold hearts that o'er the host of heaven
Gave me assurance of proud victory.
Arise! let glory's glame
Blaze in your breast, nor be it ever heard,
That him whom ye disdain
To worship in the sky,
Ye stoop to worship in the depth of hell!
Such were your oaths to me,
By your inestimable worth in arms,
Your worth, alas, so great
That heaven itself deserved not to enjoy it.
Oh, 'twere an outrage and a shame too great,
Were we not ready to revenge it all;
I see already flaming in your looks,
The matchless valour of your ardent hearts;
Already see your pinions spread in air,
To overwhelm the world and highest heaven.
That, all creation sunk in the abyss,
This mortal may be found
Instantly crushed, and buried in his birth.
Satan. At length pronounce thy orders!
Say what thou wilt, and with a hundred tongues
Speak, speak! that instant in a hundred works
Satan may toil, and Hell strain all her powers.
Lucifer. Behold, to smooth the rough and arduous way
By which they deem they may ascend to glory,
Behold a God assumes
A human form in vain!
A mode too prompt and easy,
To crush the race of mortals,
The ancient God affords to new-born man.
Nature herself too much inclines, or rather
Forces this creature, to support his life,
Frequent to feed on various viands; hence
Since on delicious dainties
His bitter fall depends,
He may be tempted now to fruit forbidden,
And by the paths of death,
As he was nothing once, return to nothing.
Beelzebub. Great Angel! greatly thought!
Lucifer. Rather the noble spirit
Of higher towering thought prompts me to speak,
That God perchance indignant that his hands
Have stooped to stain themselves in abject clay,
Seeing how different angel is from man,
Repenting of his work,
Forbad him to support his frail existence
Upon this sweet allurement; hence to sin
Prompted by natural motives, though tyrannic,
He should himself the earth's destroyer prove,
Converting his vile clay to dust again;
And plucking up again
The rooted world, thus to the highest heaven
Open a faithful passage,
Repenting of his wrong to us of old
Its ornaments sublime!
Satan. Pardon, O pardon, if my humble thought
Aspiring by my tongue
Too high, perhaps offend your sovereign ear!
Long as this man shall rest
Alive, and breathe on earth,
Exhausted we must bear
Fierce war, in endless terror of the Word.
Lucifer. Man yet shall rest alive, he yet shall breathe
And sinning even to death,
This new-made race of mortals
Shall cover all the earth,
And reign o'er all its creatures;
His soul shall prove eternal,
The image of his God.
Yet shall the Incarnate Word, I trust, be foiled.
Beelzebub. Oh! precious tidings to angelic ears,
That heal the wounds of all our shattered host.
Lucifer. Let man exist to sin, since he by sinning
Shall make the weight of sin his heritage,
Which shall be in his race
So that mankind existing but to sin,
And sinning still to death,
And still to error born,
In evil hour the Word
Will wear the sinner's form, if rightly deemed
The enemy of sin.
Now rise, ye Spirits, from the dark abyss,
You who would rest assured
That man the sinner is now doomed to death.
SCENE IV. -- Melecano, Lurcone, Lucifer, Satan, and Beelzebub.
Melecano. Command us, mighty Lord; what are thy wishes?
Wouldst thou extinguish the new-risen sun?
Behold what stores I bring
Of darkness and of fire!
Alas! with fury Melecano burns.
Lurcone. Behold Lurcone, thou supreme of Hell,
Who 'gainst the highest heaven
Pants to direct his rage, whence light of limb,
Though loaded deep with wrath,
He stands with threatening aspect in thy presence.
Lucifer. Thou, Melecan, assume the name of Pride;
Lurcone, thou of Envy; both united,
(Since power combined with power
Acquires new force) to man direct your way;
Nor him alone essay, it is my will
That woman also mourn;
Contrive that she may murmur at her God,
Because in birth not prior to the man;
Since every future man is now ordained
To draw his life from woman, with such thoughts
Let her wax envious, that she cannot soar
Above the man, as high as now below him.
Hence, Lurcon, be it thine to make her proud;
Let her give law to her Creator God,
Wishing o'er man priority of birth.
Melecano. Behold, where Melecan, a dog in fierceness,
The savage dog of hell,
Darts growling to his prey!
He flies, and he returns
All covered and all drenched with human gore.
Lurcone. I rapid too depart,
And on a swifter wing
Than through the cloudless air
Darts the keen eagle to his earthly prey.
Behold, I too return,
My beak with carnage filled, and talons full.
Lucifer. Haste, Arfarat and Ruspican, rise all,
Rise from the centre to survey the earth!
SCENE V. -- Ruspican, Arfarat, Lucifer, Satan, and Beelzebub.
Ruspican. Soon as I heard the name of Ruspican,
With rapid pinions spread, I sought the skies,
To bend before the great Tartarean chief,
And aggravate the woes
Of this new mortal blest with air and light.
Arfarat. Scarce had thy mighty voice
Re-echoed through the deep,
When the Tartarean fires
Flying I left for this serener sky,
Forth from my lips, and heart,
Breathing fierce rancour 'gainst the life of man.
Lucifer. Fly, Ruspican, with all your force and fury!
Since now I call thee by the name of Anger,
Find Eve, and tell her that the fair endowment
Of her free will, deserves not she should live
In vassalage to man;
That she alone in value far exceeds
All that the sun in his bright circle warms;
That she from flesh, man from the meaner dust
Arose to life, in the fair garden she
Created pure, he in the baser field.
Ruspican. I joy to change the name of Ruspican
For Anger, dark and deadly:
Hence now by my tremendous aid, destructive
And deadly be this day!
Behold I go with all my force and fury;
Behold I now transfuse
My anger all into the breast of woman!
Lucifer. Of Avarice I give,
O Arfarat, to thee the name and works;
Go, see, contend, and conquer!
Contrive that wandering Eve,
With down-cast eyes, may in the fruitful garden
Search with solicitude for hidden treasure:
Then stimulate her heart,
To wish no other Lord,
Except herself, of Eden and the world.
Arfarat. See me already plumed
With wings of gems and gold;
See with an eye of sapphire
I gaze upon the fair.
Behold to her I speak,
With lips that emulate the ruby's lustre.
Receive now as thy own
(Thus I accost her) all the world's vast wealth!
If she reject my gift
Then will I tempt her with a shower of pearls,
A fashion yet unknown;
Thus will she melt, and thus I hope at last
In chains of gold to drag her to destruction.
Lucifer. Rise, Guliar, Dulciato, and Maltia!
To make the band of enemies complete,
That, like a deadly Hydra,
Shall dart against this man
Your seven crests portentous and terrific.
SCENE VI. -- Maltia, Dulciato, Guliar, Lucifer, Satan, and Beelzebub.
Behold! we come with emulation fierce
To your severe command,
In prompt obedience let us rise to heaven;
Let us with wrath assail
This human enemy of abject clay.
Lucifer. Maltia, thou shalt take the name of Sloth:
Sudden invest thyself with drowsy charms
And mischievous repose;
Now wait on Eve, in slothfulness absorbed,
Let all this pomp of flowers,
And all these tuneful birds
Be held by her in scorn:
And from her consort flying,
Now let her feel no wishes but for death.
Maltia. What shall I say? shall I, to others mute,
Announce to thee my sanguinary works?
Savage and silent, I
Would be loquatious in my deed alone.
Lucifer. Thee, Dulciato, we name Luxury;
Haste thee to Eve, and fill her with desires
To decorate her fragile form with flowers,
To bind her tresses with a golden fillet,
With various vain devices to allure
A new-found paramour;
And to her heart suggest,
That to exchange her love may prove delightful.
Dulciato. Can Lord so mighty, from his humble slave,
Demand no higher task?
The way to purchase honour
Now will I teach all Hell,
By the completion of my glorious triumph.
Already Eve beside a crystal fount
Exults to vanquish the vermilion rose
With cheeks of sweeter bloom,
And to exceed the lily
By her yet whiter bosom;
Now beauteous threads of gold
She thinks her tresses floating in the air;
Now amorous and charming,
Her radiant eyes she reckons suns of love,
Fit to inflame the very coldest heart.
Lucifer. Guliar, be thou called Gluttony: now go
Reveal to Eve that the forbidden fruit
Is manna all within,
And that such food in heaven
Forms the repast of angels and of God.
Guliar. Of all the powerful foes
Leagued against man, Guliar is only he
Who can induce him to oppose his Maker;
Hence rapidly I fly
To work the woe of mortals.
Satan. To arms, to arms! to ruin and to blood
Yes, now to blood, infernal leeches all!
Again, again proclaiming war to Heaven,
And let us put to flight
Every audacious foe
That ventures to disturb our ancient peace.
Beelzebub. Now, now, great chief, with feet
That testify thy triumph,
I see thee crush the sun,
The moon, and all the stars;
For where thy radiance shines,
O Lucifer! all other beams are blind.
Lucifer. Away. Heaven shudders at the mighty ruin
That threatens it form our infernal host:
Already I behold the moon opaque,
And light-supplying sun,
The wandering stars, and fixt,
With terror pale, and sinking in eclipse.
Vision Of Columbus - Book 1
Long had the Sage, the first who dared to brave
The unknown dangers of the western wave,
Who taught mankind where future empires lay
In these fair confines of descending day,
With cares o'erwhelm'd, in life's distressing gloom,
Wish'd from a thankless world a peaceful tomb;
While kings and nations, envious of his name,
Enjoy'd his toils and triumph'd o'er his fame,
And gave the chief, from promised empire hurl'd,
Chains for a crown, a prison for a world.
Now night and silence held their lonely reign,
The half-orb'd moon declining to the main;
Descending clouds, o'er varying ether driven,
Obscured the stars and shut the eye from heaven;
Cold mists through opening grates the cell invade,
And deathlike terrors haunt the midnight shade;
When from a visionary, short repose,
That raised new cares and temper'd keener woes,
Columbus woke, and to the walls address'd
The deep-felt sorrows of his manly breast.
Here lies the purchase, here the wretched spoil,
Of painful years and persevering toil:
For these dread walks, this hideous haunt of pain,
I traced new regions o'er the pathless main,
Dared all the dangers of the dreary wave,
Hung o'er its clefts and topp'd the surging grave,
Saw billowy seas, in swelling mountains roll,
And bursting thunders rock the reddening pole,
Death rear his front in every dreadful form,
Gape from beneath and blacken in the storm;
Till, tost far onward to the skirts of day,
Where milder suns dispens'd a smiling ray,
Through brighter skies my happier sails descry'd
The golden banks that bound the western tide,
And gave the admiring world that bounteous shore
Their wealth to nations and to kings their power
Oh land of transport! dear, delusive coast,
To these fond, aged eyes forever lost!
No more thy gladdening vales I travel o'er,
For me thy mountains rear the head no more,
For me thy rocks no sparkling gems unfold,
Or streams luxuriant wear their paths in gold;
From realms of promised peace forever borne,
I hail dread anguish, and in secret mourn
But dangers past, fair climes explored in vain,
And foes triumphant shew but half my pain
Dissembling friends, each earlier joy who gave,
And fired my youth the storms of fate to brave,
Swarm'd in the sunshine of my happier days,
Pursued the fortune and partook the praise,
Bore in my doubtful cause a twofold part,
The garb of friendship and the viper's heart,
Pass my loath'd cell with smiles of sour disdain,
Insult my woes and triumph in my pain.
One gentle guardian Heaven indulgent gave,
And now that guardian slumbers in the grave
Hear from above, thou dear departed shade,
As once my joys, my present sorrows aid,
Burst my full heart, afford that last relief,
Breathe back my sighs and re-inspire my grief;
Still in my sight thy royal form appears,
Reproves my silence and demands my tears
On that blest hour my soul delights to dwell,
When thy protection bade the canvass swell,
When kings and courtiers found their factions vain,
Blind Superstition shrunk beneath her chain,
The sun's glad beam led on the circling way,
And isles rose beauteous in the western day
But o'er those silvery shores, that fair domain,
What crowds of tyrants fix their horrid reign!
Again fair Freedom seeks her kindred skies,
Truth leaves the world, and Isabella dies
Oh, lend thy friendly shroud to veil my sight,
That these pain'd eyes may dread no more the light,
These welcome shades conclude my instant doom,
And this drear mansion moulder to a tomb
Thus mourn'd the hapless chief; a thundering sound
Roll'd round the shuddering walls and shook the ground;
O'er all the dome, where solemn arches bend,
The roofs unfold and streams of light descend;
The growing splendor fill'd the astonish'd room,
And gales ethereal breathed a glad perfume;
Mild in the midst a radiant seraph shone,
Robed in the vestments of the rising sun;
Tall rose his stature, youth's primeval grace
Moved o'er his limbs and wanton'd in his face,
His closing wings, in golden plumage drest,
With gentle sweep came folding o'er his breast,
His locks in rolling ringlets glittering hung,
And sounds melodious moved his heavenly tongue
Rise, trembling Chief, to scenes of rapture, rise,
This voice awaits thee from the approving skies;
Thy just complaints, in heavenly audience known
Call mild compassion from the indulgent throne;
Let grief no more awake the piteous strain,
Nor think thy piety or toils are vain
Tho' faithless men thy injured worth despise,
Depress all virtue and insult the skies,
Yet look thro' nature, Heaven's own conduct trace,
What power divine sustains the unthankful race!
From that great Source, that life-inspiring Soul,
Suns drew their light and systems learn'd to roll,
Time walk'd the silent round, and life began,
And God's fair image stamp'd the mind of man
Down the long vale, where rolling years descend,
To thy own days, behold his care extend;
From one eternal Spring, what love proceeds!
Smiles in the seraph, in the Saviour bleeds,
Shines through all worlds, that fill the bounds of space,
And lives and brightens in thy favour'd race.
Yet no return the almighty Power can know,
From earth to heaven no just reward can flow,
Men spread their wants, the all-bounteous hand supplies,
And gives the joys that mortals dare despise
In these dark vales where blinded faction sways,
Wealth pride and conquest claim the palm of praise,
Aw'd into slaves, while groping millions groan,
And blood-stain'd steps lead upwards to a throne
Far other wreaths thy virtuous temples claim,
Far nobler honours build thy sacred name,
Thine be the joys the immortal mind that grace
Pleas'd with the toils, that bless thy kindred race,
Now raise thy ravish'd soul to scenes more bright,
The glorious fruits ascending on thy sight;
For, wing'd with speed, from brighter worlds I came,
To sooth thy grief and show thy distant fame
As that great Seer, whose animating rod
Taught Israel's sons the wonder-working God,
Who led, thro' dreary wastes, the murmuring band
To the fair confines of the promised land,
Oppress'd with years, from Pisgah's beauteous height,
O'er boundless regions cast the raptured sight;
The joys of unborn nations warm'd his breast,
Repaid his toils and sooth'd his soul to rest;
Thus, o'er thy subject wave, shalt thou behold
Far happier realms their future charms unfold,
In nobler pomp another Pisgah rise,
Beneath whose foot thine own Canaumlan lies;
There, rapt in vision, hail the distant clime,
And taste the blessings of remotest time
The Seraph spoke; and now before them lay
(The doors unbarr'd) a steep ascending way,
That, through disparting shades, arose on high,
Reach'd o'er the hills and lengthen'd up the sky,
Oped a fair summit, graced with rising flowers,
Sweet odours breathing through celestial bowers,
O'er proud Hispanian spires, it looks sublime,
Subjects the Alps and levels all the clime
Led by the Power, the hero gain'd the height,
A touch from heaven sublimed his mortal sight,
And, calm beneath them, flow'd the western main,
Far stretch'd, immense, a sky-encircled plain;
No sail, no isle, no cloud invests the bound,
Nor billowy surge disturbs the unvaried round;
Till, deep in distant heavens, the sun's dim ray
Topp'd unknown cliffs and call'd them up to day;
Slow glimmering into sight wide regions drew,
And rose and brighten'd on the expanding view;
Fair sweep the waves, the lessening ocean smiles,
And breathes the fragrance of a thousand isles;
Near and more near the long-drawn coasts arise,
Bays stretch their arms and mountains lift the skies,
The lakes, unfolding, point the streams their way,
The plains the hills their lengthening skirts display,
The vales draw forth, high walk the approaching groves,
And all the majesty of nature moves.
O'er the wild climes his eyes delighted rove,
Where lands extend and glittering waters move;
He saw through central realms, the winding shore
Spread the deep gulph, his sail had traced before,
The rocky isthmus meet the raging tide,
Join distant lands and neighbouring seas divide,
On either side the shores unbounded bend,
Push wide their waves and to the poles ascend;
While two fair continents united rise,
Broad as the main and lengthen'd with the skies.
Such views around them spread, when thus the Guide,
Here bounteous earth displays her noblest pride,
Ages unborn shall bless the happy day,
When thy bold streamers steer'd the trackless way,
O'er these delightful realms thy sons shall tread.
And following millions trace the path you led
Behold yon isles, where first the flag, unfurl'd,
Waved peaceful triumph o'er the newfound world,
Where, aw'd to silence, savage bands gave place,
And hail'd with joy the sun-descended race.
See there the banks that purest waters lave,
Swift Oronoque rolls back the ocean's wave,
The well known current cleaves the lofty coast,
Where Paria's walks thy former footsteps boast
These scanty shores no more thy joys shall bound,
See nobler prospects lead their swelling round,
Nature's sublimest scenes before thee roll,
And years and empires open on thy soul
High to yon seats exalt thy roving view,
Where Quito's lofty plains o'erlook Peru,
On whose broad base, like clouds together driven,
A world exalted props the skirts of heaven
From south to north what long, blue fronts arise!
Ridge over ridge, and lost in ambient skies!
Approaching near, they heave expanding bounds,
The yielding concave bends sublimer rounds,
Earth's loftiest towers there lift the daring height,
And all the Andes fill the bounded sight
Round the low base what sloping breaches bend!
Hills form on hills and trees o'er trees extend,
Ascending, whitening, how the craggs are lost!
O'erwhelm'd with summits of eternal frost;
Broad fields of ice give back the morning ray,
Like walls of suns or heaven's perennial day
There folding storms on eastern pinions ride,
Veil the black heavens and wrap the mountain's side,
The thunders rake the craggs, the rains descend,
And the long lightnings o'er the vallies bend,
While blasts unburden'd sweep the cliffs of snow,
The whirlwinds wheel above, the floods convolve below.
There molten rocks, explosive rend their tomb,
And dread volcanoes ope the nations' doom,
Wild o'er the regions pour the floods of fire,
The shores heave backward and the seas retire
There slumbering vengeance waits the Almighty call,
Long ages hence to shake some guilty wall;
Thy pride, O Lima, swells the sulph'rous wave,
And fanes and priests and idols croud thy grave
But cease, my son, these dread events to trace,
Nor learn the woes that wait thy kindred race.
Beyond those glimmering hills, in lands unknown,
O'er the wide gulph, beyond the flaming zone,
Thro' milder climes, see gentler mountains rise,
Where yon dim regions bound the northern skies
Back from the shore ascending champaigns run,
And lift their heights to hail the eastern sun,
Through all the midland realm, to yon blue pole,
The green hills lengthen and the rivers roll
So spoke the blest Immortal; when, more near,
The northern climes in various pomp appear;
Lands yet unknown, and streams without a name
Rise into vision and demand their fame
As when some saint, in heaven's sublime abode,
Extends his views o'er all the works of God;
While earth's fair circuit in his presence rolls,
Here glows the centre and there point the poles;
O'er land and sea his eyes sublimely rove,
And joys of mortals kindle heaven with love;
With equal glance the great Observer's sight
Ranged the low vale or climb'd the cloudly height,
As, led by heaven's own light, his raptured mind,
Explored the realms that here await mankind
Now the still morn had tinged the mountain's brow
And rising radiance warm'd the plains below;
Stretch'd o'er Virginian hills, in long array,
The beauteous Alleganies met the day
From sultry Mobile's rich Floridian shore,
To where Ontario bids hoarse Laurence roar,
O'er the clear mountain-tops and winding streams,
Rose a pure azure, streak'd with orient beams;
Fair spread the scene, the hero gazed sublime,
And thus in prospect hail'd the happy clime
Blest shores of fame, conceal'd in earlier days
To lure my steps to trace the untempted seas!
And blest the race my guardian Saint shall lead,
Where these tall forests wave the beckoning head
Thro' each wide ridge what various treasures shine!
Sleep there ye diamonds, and ye ores refine
Exalt your heads ye oaks, ye pines ascend
Till future navies bid your branches bend,
Then spread the canvass o'er the subject sea,
Explore new worlds and teach the old your sway
He said, and northward cast his wondering eyes,
Where other cliffs, in other climes, arise,
Where bleak Acadia spreads the dangerous coast,
And isles and shoals their latent horrors boast,
High in the distant heaven, the hoary height
Heaves the glad sailor an eternal light
Nor could those hills, unnoticed, raise their head,
That look sublime o'er Hudson's winding bed;
Tho' no bold fiction rear them to the skies,
And neighbouring summits far superior rise,
Yet the blue Kaatskill, where the storms divide,
Would lift the heavens from Atlas' labouring pride
Awhile the ridgy heights his notice claim,
And hills unnumber'd rose without a name,
Which placed, in pomp, on any eastern shore,
Taurus would shrink, the Alps be sung no more;
For here great nature, more exalted show'd
The last ascending footsteps of her God.
He saw those mountains ope their watery store,
Floods leave their caves and seek the distant shore,
Down the long hills and through the subject plain,
Roll the delightful currents to the main;
Whose numerous channels cleave the lengthening strand,
And heave their banks where future towns must stand;
He stretch'd his eager glance from pole to pole
Traced all their sources and explored the whole
First, from the dreadful Andes' opening side,
He saw Maranon lead his sovereign tide.
A thousand hills for him dissolve their snow,
A thousand streams obedient bend below,
From distant lands their devious courses wind,
Sweep beds of ore and leave their gold behind,
In headlong cataracts indignant heave,
Rush to his opening banks and swell the sweeping wave
Ucayla, chief of all his mighty sons,
From Cusco's bounds a lengthening circuit runs;
Yutay moves gently in a shorter course,
And rapid Yatva pours a gathering force;
Far in a wild, by nameless tributes fed,
The silent Chavar wears a lonely bed;
Aloft, where northern Quito sits on high,
The roaring Napo quits his misty sky,
Down the long steeps, in whitening torrents driven,
Like Nile descending from his fabled heaven
While other waves and lakes unknown to fame,
Discharge their urns and fill the swelling stream,
That, far, from clime to clime, majestic goes,
Enlarging widening deepening as it flows;
Approaching ocean hears the distant roar,
Moves up the bed, nor finds the expected shore;
His freshening waves, with high and hoary tide,
Whelm back the flood, and isles and champaigns hide,
Till mingling waters lead the downward sweep,
And waves and trees and banks roll whirling to the deep
Now, where the sun in milder glory beams,
Brazilia's hills pour down their spreading streams,
The smiling lakes their opening sides display,
And winding vales prolong the devious way;
He saw Xaraya's diamond banks unfold,
And Paraguay's deep channel paved with gold,
Saw proud Potosi lift his glittering head,
Whence the clear Plata wears his tinctur'd bed;
Rich with the spoils of many a distant mine,
In one broad silver sea their floods combine;
Wide o'er the realms its annual bounties spread,
By nameless streams from various mountains fed;
The thirsty regions wait its glad return,
And drink their future harvests from its urn.
Round the cold climes, beneath the southern sky,
Thy path, Magellan, caught the hero's eye;
The long cleft ridges oped the widening way
Fair gleaming westward to the Placid Sea
Soon as the distant wave was seen to roll,
His ancient wishes fill'd his rising soul,
Warm from his heaving heart an anxious sigh
Breathed o'er his lips; he turn'd his moisten'd eye,
And thus besought the Angel. Speak, my guide,
Where leads the pass? and whence yon purple tide?
Deep in the blue horizon, widely spread,
What liquid realms in blending ether fade!
How the dim waters skirt the bounds of day!
No lands behind them rise, no streamers in them play
In those low skies extends the boundless main,
I sought so long, and sought, alas, in vain
Restore, celestial Power, my youthful morn,
Call back my years and bid my fame return;
Grant me to trace, beyond that pathless sea,
Some happier shore from lust of empire free;
In that far world to fix a peaceful bower,
From envy safe, and curst Ovando's power
Since joys of mortals claim thy guardian care,
Oh bless the nations and regard my prayer:
There rest forever kingdoms unexplored,
A God creating, and no God adored
Earth's happiest realms shall endless darkness hide?
And seas forever roll their useless tide?
Grant, heavenly guide, the welcome task to dare,
One venturous bark, and be my life thy care.
The hero spoke; the Seraph mild replies,
While warm compassion soften'd in his eyes;
Though still to virtuous deeds thy mind aspires,
And heavenly visions kindle new desires;
Yet hear with reverence what attends thy state,
Nor pass the confines of eternal fate
Led by this sacred light thy soul shall see,
That half mankind shall owe their bliss to thee,
And joyous empires claim their future birth,
In these fair bounds of sea-encircled earth;
While unborn times, by thine example prest,
Shall call forth heroes to explore the rest
Beyond those seas, the well-known climes arise,
Where morning splendors gild the eastern skies
The circling course to India's happy shores,
Round Afric's coast, bold Gama now explores;
Another pass these opening straits provide,
Nor long shall rest the daring search untry'd;
This watery glade shall open soon to fame,
Here a lost hero fix his lasting name,
From that new main in furious waves be tost,
And fall neglected on the barbarous coast
But see the chief from Albion's strand arise,
Speed in his pinions, fame before his eyes;
Hither, O Drake, display the hastening sails,
Widen ye passes, and awake ye gales,
Move thou before him, heaven-revolving sun,
Wind his long course, and teach him where to run,
Earth's distant shores in circling bands unite,
Lands, learn your fame, and oceans, roll in light,
Round all the beauteous globe his flag be hurl'd,
A new Columbus to the astonish'd world
He spoke; and silent tow'rd the northern sky,
Wide o'er the realms the hero cast his eye;
Saw the long floods pour forth their watery stores,
And wind their currents to the opening shores;
While midland seas and lonely lakes display
Their glittering glories to the beams of day
Thy capes, Virginia, towering from the tide,
Raised up their arms and branch'd their borders wide;
Whose broad embrace in circling extent lay,
Round the calm bosom of thy beauteous bay
Where commerce since has wing'd her channel'd flight
Each spreading stream lay brightening to the light;
York led his wave, imbank'd in mazy pride,
And nobler James fell winding by his side;
Back tow'rd the distant hills, through many a vale,
Wild Rappahanock seem'd to lure the sail,
While, far o'er all, in sea-like azure spread,
The great Potowmac swept his lordly bed.
When thus he saw the mingling waters play,
And seas, in lost disorder, idly stray,
Where frowning forests stretch the dusky wing,
And deadly damps forbid the flowers to spring,
No seasons clothe the field with beauteous grain,
No buoyant ship attempt the useless main,
With fond impatience, Heavenly Seer, he cry'd,
When shall my children cross the lonely tide?
Here, here, my sons, the hand of culture bring,
Here teach the lawns to smile, the groves to sing;
Ye sacred floods, no longer vainly glide,
Ye harvests, load them, and ye forests, ride,
Bear the deep burden from the joyous swain,
And tell the world where peace and plenty reign
Now round the coast, where other floods invite,
He fondly turn'd; they fill'd his eager sight:
Here Del'ware's waves the yielding shores invade,
And here bold Hudson oped a glassy glade;
Thy parent stream, fair Hartford, met his eye,
Far lessening upward to the northern sky;
No watery gleams thro' happier valleys shine,
Nor drinks the sea a lovlier wave than thine
Bright Charles and Mystick laved their bloomy isles,
And gay Piscatuway caught his passing smiles;
Swift Kenebeck, descending from on high,
Swept the tall hills and lengthen'd down the sky;
When hoarse resounding through the gaping shore,
He heard cold Laurence' dreadful surges roar
Tho' softening May had waked the vernal blade,
And happier climes her fragrant garb display'd,
Yet howling winter, in this bleak domain,
Shook the wide waste and held his gloomy reign;
Still groans the flood, in frozen fetters bound,
And isles of ice his threatening front surround,
Clothed in white majesty, the foaming main
Leads up the tide and tempts the wintery chain,
Billows on billows lift the maddening brine,
And seas and clouds in battling conflict join,
The dash'd wave struggling heaves in swelling sweep,
Wide crash the portals of the frozen deep,
Till forced alost, high-bounding in the air,
Moves the blear ice and sheds a hideous glare,
The torn foundations on the surface ride,
And wrecks of winter load the downward tide
When now the stream had oped its northern course,
He traced the current to its milder source;
There, far retired, the Angellic Power displays
Earth's sweetest charms, her own imbosom'd seas
Ontario's banks, fair opening on the north,
With sweep majestic, pour'd his Laurence forth;
Above, bold Erie's wave sublimely stood,
Look'd o'er the cliff and heaved the headlong flood,
Far circling in the north, great Huron spread,
And Michigan o'erwhelm'd a western bed;
While, stretch'd in circling majesty away,
The deep Superior closed the setting day
Here all the midland seas their waves unite,
And gleam in grandeur to the hero's sight;
Wide opening round them lands delightful spread,
Deep groves innumerous cast a solemn shade;
Slow moved the settling mist in lurid streams,
And dusky radiance brown'd the glimmering beams;
O'er all the great Discoverer wondering stood,
And thus address'd the messenger of good
What lonely walks, what wonderous wilds are these?
What branching vales run smiling to their seas?
The peaceful seats, reserved by Heaven to grace,
The virtuous toils of some illustrious race
But why these regions form'd so fair in vain?
And why so distant rolls the unconscious main?
These desert fountains must forever rest,
Of man unseen, by native beasts possest;
For, see, no ship can point the streamer here,
No opening pass, no spreading ocean near;
Eternal winter clothes the shelvy shores,
Where yon far northern son of ocean roars;
Or should some bark the daring entrance brave,
And climes by culture warm his lessening wave,
Yon frightful cataract exalts the brow,
And frowns defiance to the world below.
To whom the Seraph. Here extended lies
The happiest realm that feels the fostering skies;
Led by this arm thy sons shall hither come,
And streams obedient yield the heroes room;
Nor think no pass can find the distant main,
Or heaven's last polish touch'd these climes in vain
Behold, from yon fair lake, the current led,
And silent waves adorn its infant head;
Far south thro' happy regions see it wind,
By gathering floods and nobler fountains join'd,
Yon opening gulph receive the beauteous wave,
And thy known isles its freshening current lave;
There lies the path some future ship shall trace,
And waft to these wide vales thy kindred race
The hero saw the blooming isles ascend
And round the gulph the circling shore extend,
He saw fair Missisippi wind his way,
Through all the western boundless tracts of day;
Where Alleganies stretch the morning shade,
From lone Oswago to the gulphy glade,
Where absent suns their midnight circles ride,
Pours the long current of his rushing tide
Unnumber'd branches from the channel stray,
Akansa here, and there Missouri lay,
Rouge roll'd his wave along the western wild,
And broad Ohio's northern beauties smiled
Retiring far round Hudson's frozen bay,
Where lessening circles shrink beyond the day,
The shivering shrubs scarce brave the dismal clime,
Snows ever-rising with the years of time;
The beasts all whitening roam the lifeless plain,
And caves unfrequent scoop the couch for man
Where Spring's coy steps, in cold Canadia, stray,
And joyless seasons hold unequal sway,
He saw the pine its daring mantle rear,
Break the rude blast and mock the inclement year,
Secure the limits of the angry skies,
And bid all southern vegetation rise
Wild o'er the vast, impenetrable round,
The untrod bowers of shadowy nature frown'd;
The neighbouring cedar waved its honours wide,
The fir's tall boughs, the oak's resistless pride,
The branching beach, the aspin's trembling shade,
Veil'd the dim heavens and brown'd the dusky glade
Here in huge crouds those sturdy sons of earth,
In frosty regions, claim a nobler birth;
Where heavy trunks the sheltering dome requires,
And copious fuel feeds the wintery fires
While warmer suns, that southern climes emblaze,
A cool deep umbrage o'er the woodland raise;
Floridia's blooming shores around him spread,
And Georgian hills erect their shady head;
Beneath tall trees, in livelier verdure gay,
Long level walks a humble garb display;
The infant corn, unconscious of its worth,
Points the green spire and bends the foliage forth;
Sweeten'd on flowery banks, the passing air
Breathes all the untasted fragrance of the year;
Unbidden harvests o'er the regions rise,
And blooming life repays the genial skies.
Where circling shores around the gulph extend,
The bounteous groves with richer burdens bend;
Spontaneous fruits the uplifted palms unfold,
The beauteous orange waves a load of gold,
The untaught vine, the wildly-wanton cane
Bloom on the waste, and clothe the enarbour'd plain,
The rich pimento scents the neighbouring skies,
And woolly clusters o'er the cotton rise
Here, in one view, the same glad branches bring
The fruits of autumn and the flowers of spring;
No wintery blasts the unchanging year deform,
Nor beasts unshelter'd fear the pinching storm;
But vernal breezes o'er the blossoms rove,
And breathe the ripen'd juices thro' the grove
Beneath the crystal wave's inconstant light,
Pearls undistinguish'd sparkle on the sight;
From opening earth, in living lustre, shine
The various treasures of the blazing mine;
Hills, cleft before him, all their stores unfold,
The quick mercurius and the burning gold;
Gems of unnumber'd hues, in bright array,
Illume the changing rocks and shed the beams of day
When now the Chief had travel'd with his eye,
O'er each fair clime that meets the incumbent sky;
The stream, the mountain, forest, vale and plain,
And isle and coast, and wide untravers'd main;
He cast, o'er all, the immeasurable glance,
And all past views in one broad vision dance
Skirting the western heavens and each far pole,
With blending skies Pacific oceans roll,
Atlantic surges lead their swelling round,
And distant straits the polar confines bound
The western coasts their long, high summits heave,
And look majestic o'er the subject wave;
While, on the lowly east, the winding strand
Draws from the silent sea and gently steals to land
Orlando Furioso Canto 6
Ariodantes has, a worthy meed,
With his loved bride, the fief of Albany.
Meantime Rogero, on the flying steed,
Arrives in false Alcina's empery:
There from a myrtle-tree her every deed,
A human myrtle hears, and treachery,
And thence would go; but they who first withdrew
Him from one strife, engage him in a new.
Wretched that evil man who lives in trust
His secret sin is safe in his possession!
Since, if nought else, the air, the very dust
In which the crime is buried, makes confession,
And oftentimes his guilt compels the unjust,
Though sometime unarraigned in worldly session,
To be his own accuser, and bewray,
So God has willed, deeds hidden from the day.
The unhappy Polinesso hopes had nursed,
Wholly his secret treason to conceal.
By taking off Dalinda, who was versed
In this, and only could the fact reveal;
And adding thus a second to his first
Offence, but hurried on the dread appeal,
Which haply he had stunned, at least deferred;
But he to self-destruction blindly spurred.
And forfeited estate, and life, and love
Of friends at once, and honour, which was more.
The cavalier unknown, I said above,
Long of the king and court entreated sore,
At length the covering helmet did remove,
And showed a visage often seen before,
The cherished face of Ariodantes true,
Of late lamented weeping Scotland through;
Ariodantes, whom with tearful eye
His brother and Geneura wept as dead,
And king, and people, and nobility:
Such light his goodness and his valour shed.
The pilgrim therefore might appear to lie
In what he of the missing warrior said.
Yet was it true that from a headland, he
Had seen him plunge into the foaming sea.
But, as it oft befalls despairing wight,
Who grisly Death desires till he appear;
But loathes what he had sought, on nearer sight;
So painful seems the cruel pass and drear.
Thus, in the sea engulphed, the wretched knight,
Repentant of his deed, was touched with fear;
And, matchless both for spirit and for hand,
Beat back the billows, and returned to land.
And, now despising, as of folly bred,
The fond desire which did to death impell,
Thence, soaked and dripping wet, his way did tread,
And halted at a hermit's humble cell:
And housed within the holy father's shed,
There secretly awhile designed to dwell;
Till to his ears by rumour should be voiced,
If his Geneura sorrowed or rejoiced.
At first he heard that, through excess of woe,
The miserable damsel well-nigh died:
For so abroad the doleful tidings go,
'Twas talked of in the island, far and wide:
Far other proof than that deceitful show,
Which to his cruel grief he thought he spied!
And next against the fair Geneura heard
Lurcanio to her sire his charge preferred:
Nor for his brother felt less enmity
Than was the love he lately bore the maid;
For he too foul, and full of cruelty,
Esteemed the deed, although for him essayed;
And, hearing after, in her jeopardy,
That none appeared to lend the damsel aid,
Because so puissant was Lurcanio's might,
All dreaded an encounter with the knight,
And that who well the youthful champion knew,
Believed he was so wary and discreet,
That, had what he related been untrue,
He never would have risqued so rash a feat,
- For this the greater part the fight eschew,
Fearing in wrongful cause the knight to meet -
Ariodantes (long his doubts are weighed)
Will meet his brother in Geneura's aid.
'Alas! (he said) I cannot bear to see
Thus by my cause the royal damsel die;
My death too bitter and too dread would be,
Did I, before my own, her death descry;
For still my lady, my divinity
She is; - the light and comfort of my eye.
Her, right or wrong, I cannot choose but shield,
And for her safety perish in the field.
'I know I choose the wrong, and be it so!
And in the cause shall die: nor this would move;
But that, alas! my death, as well I know,
Will such a lovely dame's destruction prove,
To death I with one only comfort go,
That, if her Polinesso bears her love,
To her will manifestly be displayed,
That hitherto he moves not in her aid.
'And me, so wronged by her, the maid shall view
Encounter death in her defence; and he,
My brother, who such flames of discord blew,
Shall pay the debt of vengeance due to me.
For well I ween to make Lurcanio rue
(Informed of the event) his cruelty,
Who will have thought to venge me with his brand,
And will have slain me with his very hand.'
He, having this concluded in his thought,
Made new provision of arms, steed, and shield;
Black was the vest and buckler which he bought,
Where green and yellow striped the sable field:
By hazard found, with him a squire he brought,
A stranger in that country; and, concealed
(As is already told) the unhappy knight,
Against his brother came, prepared for fight.
And yielding to his natural inclination,
And at the suit of all his court beside,
And mostly at Rinaldo's instigation,
Assigned the youth the damsel as his bride.
Albany's duchy, now in sequestration,
Late Polinesso's, who in duel died,
Could not be forfeited in happier hour;
Since this the monarch made his daughter's dower.
Rinaldo for Dalinda mercy won;
Who from her fault's due punishment went free.
She, satiate of the world, (and this to shun,
The damsel so had vowed) to God will flee:
And hence, in Denmark's land, to live a nun,
Straight from her native Scotland sailed the sea.
But it is time Rogero to pursue,
Who on his courser posts the welkin through.
Although Rogero is of constant mind,
Not from his cheek the wonted hues depart.
I ween that faster than a leaf i' the wind
Fluttered within his breast the stripling's heart.
All Europe's region he had left behind
In his swift course; and, issuing in that part,
Passed by a mighty space, the southern sound
Where great Alcides fixed the sailor's bound.
That hippogryph, huge fowl, and strange to sight,
Bears off the warrior with such rapid wing,
He would have distanced, in his airy flight,
The thunder bearing bird of Aether's king:
Nor other living creature soars such height,
Him in his mighty swiftness equalling.
I scarce believe that bolt, or lightning flies,
Or darts more swiftly from the parted skies.
When the huge bird his pinions long had plied,
In a straight line, without one stoop or bend,
He, tired of air, with sweeping wheel and wide,
Began upon an island to descend;
Like that fair region, whither, long unspied
Of him, her wayward mood did long offend,
Whilom in vain, through strange and secret sluice,
Passed under sea the Virgin Arethuse.
A more delightful place, wherever hurled
Through the whole air, Rogero had not found:
And, had he ranged the universal world,
Would not have seen a lovelier in his round,
Than that, where, wheeling wide, the courser furled
His spreading wings, and lighted on the ground,
'Mid cultivated plain, delicious hill,
Moist meadow, shady bank, and crystal rill.
Small thickets, with the scented laurel gay,
Cedar, and orange, full of fruit and flower,
Myrtle and palm, with interwoven spray,
Pleached in mixed modes, all lovely, form a bower;
And, breaking with their shade the scorching ray,
Make a cool shelter from the noontide hour.
And nightingales among those branches wing
Their flight, and safely amorous descants sing.
Amid red roses and white lilies there,
Which the soft breezes freshen as they fly,
Secure the cony haunts, and timid hare,
And stag, with branching forehead broad and high.
These, fearless of the hunter's dart or snare,
Feed at their ease, or ruminating lie:
While, swarming in those wilds, from tuft or steep
Dun deer or nimble goat, disporting, leap.
When the hyppogryph above the island hung,
And had approached so nigh that landscape fair,
That, if his rider from the saddle sprung,
He might the leap with little danger dare,
Rogero lit the grass and flowers among,
But held him, lest he should remount the air:
And to a myrtle, nigh the rolling brine,
Made fast, between a bay-tree and a pine.
And there, close-by where rose a bubbling fount,
Begirt the fertile palm and cedar-tree,
He drops the shield, the helmet from his front
Uplifts, and, either hand from gauntlet free,
Now turning to the beach, and now the mount,
Catches the gales which blow from hill or sea,
And, with a joyous murmur, lightly stir
The lofty top of beech, or feathery fir:
And, now, to bathe his burning lips he strains;
Now dabbles in the crystal wave, to chase
The scorching heat which rages in his veins,
Caught from the heavy corslet's burning case.
Nor is it marvel if the burden pains;
No ramble his in square or market-place!
Three thousand miles, without repose, he went,
And still, at speed, in ponderous armour pent.
Meanwhile the courser by the myrtle's side,
Whom he left stabled in the cool retreat,
Started at something in the wood descried,
Scared by I know not what; and in his heat
So made the myrtle shake where he was tied,
He brought a shower of leaves about his feet;
He made the myrtle shake and foliage fall,
But, struggling, could not loose himself withal.
As in a stick to feed the chimney rent,
Where scanty pith ill fills the narrow sheath,
The vapour, in its little channel pent,
Struggles, tormented by the fire beneath;
And, till its prisoned fury find a vent,
Is heard to hiss and bubble, sing and seethe:
So the offended myrtle inly pined,
Groaned, murmured, and at last unclosed its rind:
And hence a clear, intelligible speech
Thus issued, with a melancholy sound;
'If, as thy cheer and gentle presence teach,
Thou courteous art and good, his reign unbound,
Release me from this monster, I beseech:
Griefs of my own inflict sufficient wound:
Nor need I, compassed with such ills about,
Other new pain to plague me from without.'
At the first sound, Rogero turns to see
Whence came the voice, and, in unused surprise,
Stands, when he finds it issues from the tree;
And swiftly to remove the courser hies.
Then, with a face suffused with crimson, he
In answer to the groaning myrtle, cries;
'Pardon! and, whatsoe'er thou art, be good,
Spirit of man, or goddess of the wood!
'Unweeting of the wonderous prodigy
Of spirit, pent beneath the knotty rind,
To your fair leaf and living body I
Have done this scathe and outrage undesigned.
But not the less for that, to me reply,
What art thou, who, in rugged case confined,
Dost live and speak? And so may never hail
From angry heaven your gentle boughs assail!
'And if I now or ever the despite
I did thee can repair, or aid impart,
I, by that lady dear, my promise plight,
Who in her keeping has my better part,
To strive with word and deed, till thou requite
The service done with praise and grateful heart.'
Rogero said; and, as he closed his suit,
That gentle myrtle shook from top to root.
Next drops were seen to stand upon the bark,
As juice is sweated by the sapling-spray,
New-severed, when it yields to flame and spark,
Sometime in vain kept back and held at bay.
And next the voice began: 'My story dark,
Forced by thy courteous deed, I shall display; -
What once I was - by whom, through magic lore,
Changed to a myrtle on the pleasant shore.
'A peer of France, Astolpho was my name,
Whilom a paladin, sore feared in fight;
Cousin I was to two of boundless fame,
Orlando and Rinaldo. I by right
Looked to all England's crown; my lawful claim
After my royal father, Otho hight.
More dames than one my beauty served to warm,
And in conclusion wrought my single harm.
'Returning from those isles, whose eastern side
The billows of the Indian ocean beat,
Where good Rinaldo and more knights beside
With me were pent in dark and hollow seat,
Thence, rescued by illustrious Brava's pride,
Whose prowess freed us from that dark retreat,
Westward I fared along the sandy shores,
On which the stormy north his fury pours.
'Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we
Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand,
Where stood a mansion seated by the sea:
Puissant Alcina owned the house and land.
We found her, where, without her dwelling, she
Had taken on the beach her lonely stand;
And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore,
What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore.
'Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred,
And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap;
Thither the seal or porpus' wallowing herd
Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep;
Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word,
And mullet hurry through the briny deep,
With monstrous backs above the water, sail
Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale.
'There we behold a mighty whale, of size
The hugest yet in any water seen:
More than eleven paces, to our eyes,
His back appears above the surface green:
And (for still firm and motionless he lies,
And such the distance his two ends between)
We all are cheated by the floating pile,
And idly take the monster for an isle.
'Alcina made the ready fish obey
By simple words and by mere magic lore:
Born with Morgana - but I cannot say
If at one birth, or after or before.
As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay;
Who showed it in the countenance she wore:
Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent,
To part me from the friends with whom I went.
'She came towards us with a cheerful face,
With graceful gestures, and a courteous air,
And said: 'So you my lodging please to grace,
Sir cavalier, and will with me repair,
You shall behold the wonders of my chace,
And note the different sorts of fish I snare;
Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light,
And more in number than the stars of night:
' 'And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet,
That the rude sea grows civil at her song,
Wont at this hour her music to repeat,
(With that she showed the monster huge and long
- I said it seemed an island - as her seat)
Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.'
I, that was always wilful, at her wish,
I now lament my rashness, climb the fish.
'To Dudon and Rinaldo's signal blind,
I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay.
With laughing face Alcina mounts behind,
Leaving the other two beside the bay.
The obedient fish performs the task assigned,
And through the yielding water works his way.
Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare,
Too far from land my folly to repair.
'To aid me swam Mount Alban's cavalier,
And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise;
For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near,
Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies.
I know not after what befel the peer:
This while Alcina to console me tries,
And all that day, and night which followed, me
Detained upon that monster in mid-sea,
'Till to this isle we drifted with the morn,
Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share;
By that usurper from a sister torn,
Who was her father's universal heir:
For that she only was in wedlock born,
And for those other two false sisters were
(So well-instructed in the story, said
One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred.
'As these are practised in iniquity,
And full of every vice and evil art;
So she, who ever lives in chastity,
Wisely on better things has set her heart.
Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy,
Those others are, to drive her from her part:
And more than once their armies have o'errun
Her realm, and towns above a hundred won.
'Nor at this hour a single span of ground
Would Logistilla (such her name) command,
But that a mountain here, and there a sound,
Protects the remnant from the invading band.
'Tis thus the mountain and the river bound
England, and part it from the Scottish land.
Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest,
Till of her scanty remnant dispossest.
'Because in wickedness and vice were bred
The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame.
But, to return to what I lately said,
And to relate how I a plant became;
Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed
With full delights; nor I a weaker flame
For her, within my burning heart did bear,
Beholding her so courteous and so fair.
'Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure,
I weened that I each separate good had won,
Which to mankind is dealt in different measure,
Little or more to some, and much to none.
I evermore contemplated my treasure,
Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon:
In her my every fancy, every hope
Centered and ended as their common scope.
'By her I was as much beloved, or more;
Nor did Alcina now for other care;
She left her every lover; for before,
Others, in truth, the fairy's love did share:
I was her close adviser evermore;
And served by her, where they commanded were.
With me she counselled, and to me referred;
Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word.
'Why touch my wounds, to aggravate my ill,
And that, alas! without the hope of cure?
Why thus the good possessed remember still,
Amid the cruel penance I endure?
When kindest I believed Alcina's will,
And fondly deemed my happiness secure,
From me the heart she gave, the fay withdrew,
And yielded all her soul to love more new.
'Late I discerned her light and fickle bent,
Still loving and unloving at a heat:
Two months, I reigned not more, no sooner spent,
Than a new paramour assumed my seat;
And me, with scorn, she doomed to banishment,
From her fair grace cast out. 'Tis then I weet
I share a thousand lovers' fate, whom she
Had to like pass reduced, all wrongfully.
'And these, because they should not scatter bruits,
Roaming the world, of her lascivious ways,
She, up and down the fruitful soil, transmutes
To olive, palm, or cedar, firs or bays.
These, as you see me changed, Alcina roots;
While this transformed into a monster strays;
Another melts into a liquid rill;
As suits that haughty fairy's wanton will.
'Thou, too, that to this fatal isle art led
By way unwonted and till now unknown,
That some possessor of the fairy's bed,
May be for thee transformed to wave or stone,
Thou shalt, with more than mortal pleasures fed,
Have from Alcina seigniory and throne;
But shalt be sure to join the common flock,
Transformed to beast or fountain, plant or rock.
'I willingly to thee this truth impart,
Not that I hope with profit to advise:
Yet 'twill be better, that informed, in part,
Of her false ways, she harm not by surprise.
Perhaps, as faces differ, and in art
And wit of man an equal difference lies,
Thou may'st some remedy perchance apply
To the ill, which thousand others could not fly.'
The good Rogero, who from Fame had learned
That he was cousin to the dame he wooed,
Lamented much the sad Astolpho, turned
From his true form, to barren plant and rude:
And for her love, for whom so sore he burned,
Would gladly serve the stripling if he cou'd:
But, witless how to give the wished relief,
Might but console the unhappy warrior's grief.
As best he could, he strove to soothe his pain;
Then asked him, if to Logistil's retreat
Were passage, whether over hill or plain;
That he might so eschew Alcina's seat.
- `There was a way', the myrtle said again,
- `But rough with stones, and rugged to the feet -
If he, some little further to the right,
Would scale the Alpine mountain's very height:
`But that he must not think he shall pursue
The intended journey far; since by the way
He will encounter with a frequent crew,
And fierce, who serve as rampart to the fay,
That block the road against the stranger, who
Would break her bounds, and the deserter stay.'
Rogero thanked the tree for all, and taught,
Departed thence with full instructions fraught.
The courser from the myrtle he untied,
And by the bridle led behind him still;
Nor would he, as before, the horse bestride,
Lest he should bear him off against his will:
He mused this while how safely he might find
A passage to the land of Logistil;
Firm in his purpose every nerve to strain,
Lest empire over him Alcina gain.
He to remount the steed, and through the air
To spur him to a new career again
Now thought; but doubted next, in fear to fare
Worse on the courser, restive to the rein.
'No, I will win by force the mountain stair,'
Rogero said; (but the resolve was vain)
Nor by the beach two miles his way pursued,
Ere he Alcina's lovely city viewed.
A lofty wall at distance meets his eye
Which girds a spacious town within its bound;
It seems as if its summit touched the sky,
And all appears like gold from top to ground.
Here some one says it is but alchemy
- And haply his opinion is unsound -
And haply he more wittily divines:
For me, I deem it gold because it shines.
When he was nigh the city-walls, so bright,
The world has not their equal, he the straight
And spacious way deserts, the way which dight
Across the plain, conducted to the gate;
And by that safer road upon the right,
Strains now against the mountain; but, in wait,
Encounters soon the crowd of evil foes,
Who furiously the Child's advance oppose.
Was never yet beheld a stranger band,
Of mien more hideous, or more monstrous shape.
Formed downwards from neck like men, he scanned
Some with the head of cat, and some of ape;
With hoof of goat that other stamped the sand;
While some seemed centaurs, quick in fight and rape;
Naked, or mantled in outlandish skin.
These doting sires, those striplings bold in sin.
This gallops on a horse without a bit;
This backs the sluggish ass, or bullock slow;
These mounted on the croup of centaur sit:
Those perched on eagle, crane, or estridge, go.
Some male, some female, some hermaphrodit,
These drain the cup and those the bungle blow.
One bore a corded ladder, one a book;
One a dull file, or bar of iron shook.
The captain of this crew, which blocked the road,
Appeared, with monstrous paunch and bloated face;
Who a slow tortoise for a horse bestrode,
That passing sluggishly with him did pace:
Down looked, some here, some there, sustained the load,
For he was drunk, and kept him in his place.
Some wipe his brows and chin from sweat which ran,
And others with their vests his visage fan.
One, with a human shape and feet, his crest,
Fashioned like hound, in neck and ears and head,
Bayed at the gallant Child with angry quest,
To turn him to the city whence he fled.
'That will I never, while of strength possessed
To brandish this,' the good Rogero said:
With that his trenchant faulchion he displayed,
And pointed at him full the naked blade.
That monster would have smote him with a spear,
But swiftly at his foe Rogero sprung,
Thrust at his paunch, and drove his faulchion sheer
Through his pierced back a palm; his buckler flung
Before him, and next sallied there and here:
But all too numerous was the wicked throng.
Now grappled from behind, now punched before,
He stands, and plies the crowd with warfare sore.
One to the teeth, another to the breast,
Of that foul race he cleft; since no one steeled
In mail, his brows with covering helmet dressed,
Or fought, secured by corslet or by shield;
Yet is he so upon all quarters pressed,
That it would need the Child, to clear the field,
And to keep off the wicked crew which swarms,
More than Briareus' hundred hands and arms.
If he had thought the magic shield to show,
(I speak of that the necromancer bore,
Which dazed the sight of the astonished foe,
Left at his saddle by the wizard Moor)
That hideous band, in sudden overthrow,
Blinded by this, had sunk the knight before.
But haply he despised such mean as vile,
And would prevail by valour, not by guile.
This as it may: the Child would meet his fate,
Ere by so vile a band be prisoner led;
When, lo! forth issuing from the city's gate,
Whose wall appeared like shining gold I said,
Two youthful dames, not born in low estate,
If measured by their mien and garb, nor bred
By swain, in early wants and troubles versed;
But amid princely joys in palace nursed!
On unicorn was seated either fair,
A beast than spotless ermine yet more white;
So lovely were the damsels, and so rare
Their garb, and with such graceful fashion dight,
That he who closely viewed the youthful pair,
Would need a surer sense than mortal sight,
To judge between the two. With such a mien
Embodied Grace and Beauty would be seen.
Into the mead rode this and the other dame,
Where the foul crew opposed the Child's retreat.
The rabble scattered as the ladies came,
Who with extended hand the warrior greet.
He, with a kindling visage, red with shame,
Thanked the two damsels for their gentle feat;
And was content upon their will to wait,
With them returning to that golden gate.
Above, a cornice round the gateway goes,
Somedeal projecting from the colonnade,
In which is not a single part but glows,
With rarest gems of India overlaid.
Propp'd at four points, the portal did repose
On columns of one solid diamond made.
Whether what met the eye was false or true,
Was never sight more fair or glad to view.
Upon the sill and through the columns there,
Ran young and wanton girls, in frolic sport;
Who haply yet would have appeared more fair,
Had they observed a woman's fitting port.
All are arrayed in green, and garlands wear
Of the fresh leaf. Him these in courteous sort,
With many proffers and fair mien entice,
And welcome to this opening Paradise:
For so with reason I this place may call,
Where, it is my belief, that Love had birth;
Where life is spent in festive game and ball,
And still the passing moments fleet in mirth.
Here hoary-headed Thought ne'er comes at all,
Nor finds a place in any bosom. Dearth,
Nor yet Discomfort, never enter here,
Where Plenty fills her horn throughout the year.
Here, where with jovial and unclouded brow,
Glad April seems to wear a constant smile,
Troop boys and damsels: One, whose fountains flow,
On the green margin sings in dulcet style;
Others, the hill or tufted tree below,
In dance, or no mean sport the hours beguile.
While this, who shuns the revellers' noisy cheer,
Tells his love sorrows in his comrade's ear.
Above the laurel and pine-tree's height,
Through the tall beech and shaggy fir-tree's spray,
Sport little loves, with desultory flight:
These, at their conquests made, rejoiced and gay:
These, with the well-directed shaft, take sight
At hearts, and those spread nets to catch their prey;
One wets his arrows in the brook which winds,
And one on whirling stone the weapon grinds.
To good Rogero here was brought a steed,
Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue;
Who was caparisoned with costly weed,
Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view.
That other winged horse, which, at his need,
Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew,
The friendly damsels to a youth consigned,
Who led him at a slower pace behind.
That kindly pair who, by the wicked band
Offended fate, had saved the youthful knight;
The wicked crew, that did the Child withstand,
When he the road had taken on his right,
Exclaimed, 'Fair sir, your works already scanned
By us, who are instructed of your might,
Embolden us, in our behalf, to pray
You will the prowess of your arm assay.
'We soon shall reach a bottom which divides
The plain into two parts: A cruel dame
A bridge maintains, which there a stream bestrides,
Eriphila the savage beldam's name;
Who cheats, and robs, and scathes, whoever rides
To the other shore, a giantess in frame;
Who has long poisonous teeth her prey to tear,
And scratches with her talons like a bear.
'Besides that she infests the public way,
Which else were free; she often ranging through
All this fair garden, puts in disarray
This thing or that. Of the assassin crew,
That people who without the portal gay,
Lately with brutal rage assaulted you,
Many her sons, the whole her followers call,
As greedy and inhospitable all.'
'For you not only her I would assail,
But do a hundred battles, well content:
Then of my person, where it may avail,
Dispose (Rogero said) to you intent.
Silver and land to conquer, plate or mail
I swear not, I, in warlike cuirass pent;
But to afford my aid to others due;
And, most of all, to beauteous dames like you.'
Their grateful thanks the ladies, worthily
Bestowed on such a valiant champion, paid:
They talking thus the bridge and river see,
And at her post the haughty dame arraid
(Sapphire and emerald decked the panoply)
In arms of gold: but I awhile delay
Till other strain the issue of the fray.
HE was a Grecian lad, who coming home
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily
Stood at his galley's prow, and let the foam
Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously,
And holding wave and wind in boy's despite
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and stormy night
Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky,
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear,
And bade the pilot head her lustily
Against the nor'west gale, and all day long
Held on his way, and marked the rowers' time with measured song,
And when the faint Corinthian hills were red
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay,
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head,
And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray,
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen-soled,
And a rich robe stained with the fishes' juice
Which of some swarthy trader he had bought
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse,
And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought,
And by the questioning merchants made his way
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when the labouring day
Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud,
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet
Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat
Watched the young swains his frolic playmates bring
The firstling of their little flock, and the shy shepherd fling
The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang
His studded crook against the temple wall
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang
Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall;
And then the clear-voiced maidens 'gan to sing,
And to the altar each man brought some goodly offering,
A beechen cup brimming with milky foam,
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery
Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb
Dripping with oozy gold which scarce the bee
Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil
Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce and white-tusked
Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid
To please Athena, and the dappled hide
Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade
Had met the shaft; and then the herald cried,
And from the pillared precinct one by one
Went the glad Greeks well pleased that they their simple vows had
And the old priest put out the waning fires
Save that one lamp whose restless ruby glowed
For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyres
Came fainter on the wind, as down the road
In joyous dance these country folk did pass,
And with stout hands the warder closed the gates of polished brass.
Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe,
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine,
And the rose-petals falling from the wreath
As the night breezes wandered through the shrine,
And seemed to be in some entrancèd swoon
Till through the open roof above the full and brimming moon
Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor,
When from his nook upleapt the venturous lad,
And flinging wide the cedar-carven door
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad
And armed for battle! the gaunt Griffin glared
From the huge helm, and the long lance of wreck and ruin flared
Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled
The Gorgon's head its leaden eyeballs rolled,
And writhed its snaky horrors through the shield,
And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold
In passion impotent, while with blind gaze
The blinking owl between the feet hooted in shrill amaze.
The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp
Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen tramp
Of horses smite the waves, and a wild blast
Divide the folded curtains of the night,
And knelt upon the little poop, and prayed in holy fright.
And guilty lovers in their venery
Forgat a little while their stolen sweets,
Deeming they heard dread Dian's bitter cry;
And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats
Ran to their shields in haste precipitate,
Or strained black-bearded throats across the dusky parapet.
For round the temple rolled the clang of arms,
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble fear,
And the air quaked with dissonant alarums
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear,
And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed,
And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from the cavalcade.
Ready for death with parted lips he stood,
And well content at such a price to see
That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood,
The marvel of that pitiless chastity,
Ah! well content indeed, for never wight
Since Troy's young shepherd prince had seen so wonderful a sight.
Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air
Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh,
And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair,
And from his limbs he threw the cloak away,
For whom would not such love make desperate,
And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with hands violate
Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown,
And bared the breasts of polished ivory,
Till from the waist the peplos falling down
Left visible the secret mystery
Which to no lover will Athena show,
The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the bossy hills of snow.
Those who have never known a lover's sin
Let them not read my ditty, it will be
To their dull ears so musicless and thin
That they will have no joy of it, but ye
To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile,
Ye who have learned who Eros is,--O listen yet a-while.
A little space he let his greedy eyes
Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight
Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries,
And then his lips in hungering delight
Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck
He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion's will to check.
Never I ween did lover hold such tryst,
For all night long he murmured honeyed word,
And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed
Her pale and argent body undisturbed,
And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed
His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy breast.
It was as if Numidian javelins
Pierced through and through his wild and whirling brain,
And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins
In exquisite pulsation, and the pain
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning flew.
They who have never seen the daylight peer
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain,
And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear
And worshipped body risen, they for certain
Will never know of what I try to sing,
How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.
The moon was girdled with a crystal rim,
The sign which shipmen say is ominous
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim,
And the low lightening east was tremulous
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn,
Ere from the silent sombre shrine this lover had withdrawn.
Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan,
And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed,
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran
Like a young fawn unto an olive wood
Which in a shady valley by the well-built city stood.
And sought a little stream, which well he knew,
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout
The green and crested grebe he would pursue,
Or snare in woven net the silver trout,
And down amid the startled reeds he lay
Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited for the day.
On the green bank he lay, and let one hand
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly,
And soon the breath of morning came and fanned
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly
The tangled curls from off his forehead, while
He on the running water gazed with strange and secret smile.
And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes,
And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke
Curled through the air across the ripening oats,
And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed
As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy cattle strayed.
And when the light-foot mower went afield
Across the meadows laced with threaded dew,
And the sheep bleated on the misty weald,
And from its nest the waking corn-crake flew,
Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream
And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful could seem,
Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said,
'It is young Hylas, that false runaway
Who with a Naiad now would make his bed
Forgetting Herakles,' but others, 'Nay,
It is Narcissus, his own paramour,
Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can allure.'
And when they nearer came a third one cried,
'It is young Dionysos who has hid
His spear and fawnskin by the river side
Weary of hunting with the Bassarid,
And wise indeed were we away to fly
They live not long who on the gods immortal come to spy.'
So turned they back, and feared to look behind,
And told the timid swain how they had seen
Amid the reeds some woodland God reclined,
And no man dared to cross the open green,
And on that day no olive-tree was slain,
Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair domain.
Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail
Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound
Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail
Hoping that he some comrade new had found,
And gat no answer, and then half afraid
Passed on his simple way, or down the still and silent glade
A little girl ran laughing from the farm
Not thinking of love's secret mysteries,
And when she saw the white and gleaming arm
And all his manlihood, with longing eyes
Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity
Watched him a-while, and then stole back sadly and wearily.
Far off he heard the city's hum and noise,
And now and then the shriller laughter where
The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air,
And now and then a little tinkling bell
As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the mossy well.
Through the grey willows danced the fretful gnat,
The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree,
In sleek and oily coat the water-rat
Breasting the little ripples manfully
Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to bough
Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept across the slough.
On the faint wind floated the silky seeds,
As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass,
The ousel-cock splashed circles in the reeds
And flecked with silver whorls the forest's glass,
Which scarce had caught again its imagery
Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the dragonfly.
But little care had he for any thing
Though up and down the beech the squirrel played,
And from the copse the linnet 'gan to sing
To her brown mate her sweetest serenade,
Ah! little care indeed, for he had seen
The breasts of Pallas and the naked wonder of the Queen.
But when the herdsman called his straggling goats
With whistling pipe across the rocky road,
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes
Boomed through the darkening woods, and seemed to bode
Of coming storm, and the belated crane
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull big drops of rain
Fell on the pattering fig-leaves, up he rose,
And from the gloomy forest went his way
Past sombre homestead and wet orchard-close,
And came at last unto a little quay,
And called his mates a-board, and took his seat
On the high poop, and pushed from land, and loosed the dripping
And steered across the bay, and when nine suns
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold,
And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told
Their dearest secret to the downy moth
That will not fly at noonday, through the foam and surging froth
Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked
As though the lading of three argosies
Were in the hold, and flapped its wings, and shrieked,
And darkness straightway stole across the deep,
Sheathed was Orion's sword, dread Mars himself fled down the steep,
And the moon hid behind a tawny mask
Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean's marge
Rose the red plume, the huge and hornèd casque,
The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe!
And clad in bright and burnished panoply
Athena strode across the stretch of sick and shivering sea!
To the dull sailors' sight her loosened locks
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her feet
Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks,
And marking how the rising waters beat
Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried
To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to windward side.
But he, the over-bold adulterer,
A dear profaner of great mysteries,
An ardent amorous idolater,
When he beheld those grand relentless eyes
Laughed loud for joy, and crying out 'I come'
Leapt from the lofty poop into the chill and churning foam.
Then fell from the high heaven one bright star,
One dancer left the circling galaxy,
And back to Athens on her clattering car
In all the pride of venged divinity
Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank,
And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy lover sank.
And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew
With mocking hoots after the wrathful Queen,
And the old pilot bade the trembling crew
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen
Close to the stern a dim and giant form,
And like a dipping swallow the stout ship dashed through the storm.
And no man dared to speak of Charmides
Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought,
And when they reached the strait Symplegades
They beached their galley on the shore, and sought
The toll-gate of the city hastily,
And in the market showed their brown and pictured pottery.
But some good Triton-god had ruth, and bare
The boy's drowned body back to Grecian land,
And mermaids combed his dank and dripping hair
And smoothed his brow, and loosed his clenching hand,
Some brought sweet spices from far Araby,
And others bade the halcyon sing her softest lullaby.
And when he neared his old Athenian home,
A mighty billow rose up suddenly
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam
Lay diapered in some strange fantasy,
And clasping him unto its glassy breast,
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon a venturous quest!
Now where Colonos leans unto the sea
There lies a long and level stretch of lawn,
The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee
For it deserts Hymettus, and the Faun
Is not afraid, for never through the day
Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd lads at play.
But often from the thorny labyrinth
And tangled branches of the circling wood
The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth
Hurling the polished disk, and draws his hood
Over his guilty gaze, and creeps away,
Nor dares to wind his horn, or--else at the first break of day
The Dyrads come and throw the leathern ball
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent
Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal
For fear of bold Poseidon's ravishment,
And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes,
Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple beard should rise.
On this side and on that a rocky cave,
Hung with the yellow-bell'd laburnum, stands,
Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing wave
Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands,
As though it feared to be too soon forgot
By the green rush, its playfellow,--and yet, it is a spot
So small, that the inconstant butterfly
Could steal the hoarded honey from each flower
Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy
Its over-greedy love,--within an hour
A sailor boy, were he but rude enow
To land and pluck a garland for his galley's painted prow,
Would almost leave the little meadow bare,
For it knows nothing of great pageantry,
Only a few narcissi here and there
Stand separate in sweet austerity,
Dotting the unmown grass with silver stars,
And here and there a daffodil waves tiny scimetars.
Hither the billow brought him, and was glad
Of such dear servitude, and where the land
Was virgin of all waters laid the lad
Upon the golden margent of the strand,
And like a lingering lover oft returned
To kiss those pallid limbs which once with intense fire burned,
Ere the wet seas had quenched that holocaust,
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead,
Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost
Had withered up those lilies white and red
Which, while the boy would through the forest range,
Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal counterchange.
And when at dawn the woodnymphs, hand-in-hand,
Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied
The boy's pale body stretched upon the sand,
And feared Poseidon's treachery, and cried,
And like bright sunbeams flitting through a glade,
Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy ambuscade.
Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be
So dread a thing to feel a sea-god's arms
Crushing her breasts in amorous tyranny,
And longed to listen to those subtle charms
Insidious lovers weave when they would win
Some fencèd fortress, and stole back again, nor thought it sin
To yield her treasure unto one so fair,
And lay beside him, thirsty with love's drouth,
Called him soft names, played with his tangled hair,
And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth
Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid
Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and then, fond renegade,
Returned to fresh assault, and all day long
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy,
And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song,
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy
Who would not with her maidenhood entwine,
Nor knew that three days since his eyes had looked on Proserpine,
Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done,
But said, 'He will awake, I know him well,
He will awake at evening when the sun
Hangs his red shield on Corinth's citadel,
This sleep is but a cruel treachery
To make me love him more, and in some cavern of the sea
Deeper than ever falls the fisher's line
Already a huge Triton blows his horn,
And weaves a garland from the crystalline
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn
The emerald pillars of our bridal bed,
For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral-crownèd head,
We two will sit upon a throne of pearl,
And a blue wave will be our canopy,
And at our feet the water-snakes will curl
In all their amethystine panoply
Of diamonded mail, and we will mark
The mullets swimming by the mast of some storm-foundered bark,
Vermilion-finned with eyes of bossy gold
Like flakes of crimson light, and the great deep
His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold,
And we will see the painted dolphins sleep
Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks
Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures his monstrous flocks.
And tremulous opal-hued anemones
Will wave their purple fringes where we tread
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies
Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck,
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining limbs will deck.'
But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun
With gaudy pennon flying passed away
Into his brazen House, and one by one
The little yellow stars began to stray
Across the field of heaven, ah! then indeed
She feared his lips upon her lips would never care to feed,
And cried, 'Awake, already the pale moon
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave
Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune,
The croaking frogs are out, and from the cave
The night-jar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass,
And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps through the dusky
Nay, though thou art a God, be not so coy,
For in yon stream there is a little reed
That often whispers how a lovely boy
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead,
Who when his cruel pleasure he had done
Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft into the sun.
Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still
With great Apollo's kisses, and the fir
Whose clustering sisters fringe the sea-ward hill
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher
Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen
The mocking eyes of Hermes through the poplar's silvery sheen.
Even the jealous Naiads call me fair,
And every morn a young and ruddy swain
Wooes me with apples and with locks of hair,
And seeks to soothe my virginal disdain
By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love;
But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged dove
With little crimson feet, which with its store
Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore
At day-break, when her amorous comrade had
Flown off in search of berried juniper
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that earliest vintager
Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy
For my poor lips, his joyous purity
And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy
A Dryad from her oath to Artemis;
For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made to kiss,
His argent forehead, like a rising moon
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows,
Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier spouse
For Cytheræa, the first silky down
Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young limbs are strong and
And he is rich, and fat and fleecy herds
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie,
And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly
To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead
Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe on oaten reed.
And yet I love him not, it was for thee
I kept my love, I knew that thou would'st come
To rid me of this pallid chastity;
Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam
Of all the wide Ægean, brightest star
Of ocean's azure heavens where the mirrored planets are!
I knew that thou would'st come, for when at first
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of Spring
Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst
To myriad multitudinous blossoming
Which mocked the midnight with its mimic moons
That did not dread the dawn, and first the thrushes' rapturous tunes
Startled the squirrel from its granary,
And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane,
Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy
Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein
Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood,
And the wild winds of passion shook my slim stem's maidenhood.
The trooping fawns at evening came and laid
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs
And on my topmost branch the blackbird made
A little nest of grasses for his spouse,
And now and then a twittering wren would light
On a thin twig which hardly bare the weigh of such delight.
I was the Attic shepherd's trysting place,
Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay,
And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis chase
The timorous girl, till tired out with play
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair,
And turned, and looked, and fled no more from such delightful snare.
Then come away unto my ambuscade
Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy
For amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify
The dearest rites of love, there in the cool
And green recesses of its farthest depth there is a pool,
The ouzel's haunt, the wild bee's pasturage,
For round its rim great creamy lilies float
Through their flat leaves in verdant anchorage,
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat
Steered by a dragon-fly,--be not afraid
To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely the place were made
For lovers such as we, the Cyprian Queen,
One arm around her boyish paramour,
Strays often there at eve, and I have seen
The moon strip off her misty vestiture
For young Endymion's eyes, be not afraid,
The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret glade.
Nay if thou wil'st, back to the beating brine,
Back to the boisterous billow let us go,
And walk all day beneath the hyaline
Huge vault of Neptune's watery portico,
And watch the purple monsters of the deep
Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen Xiphias leap.
For if my mistress find me lying here
She will not ruth or gentle pity show,
But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow,
And draw the feathered notch against her breast,
And loose the archèd cord, ay, even now upon the quest
I hear her hurrying feet,--awake, awake,
Thou laggard in love's battle! once at least
Let me drink deep of passion's wine, and slake
My parchèd being with the nectarous feast
Which even Gods affect! O come Love come,
Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine azure home.'
Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering trees
Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air
Grew conscious of a God, and the grey seas
Crawled backward, and a long and dismal blare
Blew from some tasselled horn, a sleuth-hound bayed,
And like a flame a barbèd reed flew whizzing down the glade.
And where the little flowers of her breast
Just brake into their milky blossoming,
This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest,
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering,
And ploughed a bloody furrow with its dart,
And dug a long red road, and cleft with wingèd death her heart.
Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry
On the boy's body fell the Dryad maid,
Sobbing for incomplete virginity,
And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead,
And all the pain of things unsatisfied,
And the bright drops of crimson youth crept down her throbbing
Ah! pitiful it was to hear her moan,
And very pitiful to see her die
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known
The joy of passion, that dread mystery
Which not to know is not to live at all,
And yet to know is to be held in death's most deadly thrall.
But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere,
Who with Adonis all night long had lain
Within some shepherd's hut in Arcady,
On team of silver doves and gilded wane
Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar
From mortal ken between the mountains and the morning star,
And when low down she spied the hapless pair,
And heard the Oread's faint despairing cry,
Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air
As though it were a viol, hastily
She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume,
And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and saw their dolorous
For as a gardener turning back his head
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows
With careless scythe too near some flower bed,
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose,
And with the flower's loosened loveliness
Strews the brown mould, or as some shepherd lad in wantonness
Driving his little flock along the mead
Treads down two daffodils which side by side
Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride,
Treads down their brimming golden chalices
Under light feet which were not made for such rude ravages,
Or as a schoolboy tired of his book
Flings himself down upon the reedy grass
And plucks two water-lilies from the brook,
And for a time forgets the hour glass,
Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his way,
And lets the hot sun kill them, even so these lovers lay.
And Venus cried, 'It is dread Artemis
Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty,
Or else that mightier may whose care it is
To guard her strong and stainless majesty
Upon the hill Athenian,--alas!
That they who loved so well unloved into Death's house should pass.
So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl
In the great golden waggon tenderly,
Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl
Just threaded with a blue vein's tapestry
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest.
And then each pigeon spread its milky van,
The bright car soared into the dawning sky,
And like a cloud the aerial caravan
Passed over the Ægean silently,
Till the faint air was troubled with the song
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.
But when the doves had reached their wonted goal
Where the wide stair of orbèd marble dips
Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips
And passed into the void, and Venus knew
That one fair maid the less would walk amid her retinue,
And bade her servants carve a cedar chest
With all the wonder of this history,
Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest
Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky
On the low hills of Paphos, and the faun
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings on till dawn.
Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere
The morning bee had stung the daffodil
With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair
The waking stag had leapt across the rill
And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept
Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their bodies slept.
And when day brake, within that silver shrine
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous,
Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine
That she whose beauty made Death amorous
Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord,
And let Desire pass across dread Charon's icy ford.
In melancholy moonless Acheron,
Far from the goodly earth and joyous day,
Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun
Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May
Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor,
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethæan well
Young Charmides was lying, wearily
He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel,
And with its little rifled treasury
Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream,
And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a
When as he gazed into the watery glass
And through his brown hair's curly tangles scanned
His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass
Across the mirror, and a little hand
Stole into his, and warm lips timidly
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their secret forth into a sigh.
Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw,
And ever nigher still their faces came,
And nigher ever did their young mouths draw
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame,
And longing arms around her neck he cast,
And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath came hot and fast,
And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss,
And all her maidenhood was his to slay,
And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss
Their passion waxed and waned,--O why essay
To pipe again of love too venturous reed!
Enough, enough that Erôs laughed upon that flowerless mead.
Too venturous poesy O why essay
To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings
O'er daring Icarus and bid thy lay
Sleep hidden in the lyre's silent strings,
Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill,
Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned Sappho's golden quill!
Enough, enough that he whose life had been
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame,
Could in the loveless land of Hades glean
One scorching harvest from those fields of flame
Where passion walks with naked unshod feet
And is not wounded,--ah! enough that once their lips could meet
In that wild throb when all existences
Seem narrowed to one single ecstasy
Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress
Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone
Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne
Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed her zone.
Alastor: or, the Spirit of Solitude
Earth, Ocean, Air, belovèd brotherhood!
If our great Mother has imbued my soul
With aught of natural piety to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even,
With sunset and its gorgeous ministers,
And solemn midnight's tingling silentness;
If Autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood,
And Winter robing with pure snow and crowns
Of starry ice the gray grass and bare boughs;
If Spring's voluptuous pantings when she breathes
Her first sweet kisses,--have been dear to me;
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast
I consciously have injured, but still loved
And cherished these my kindred; then forgive
This boast, belovèd brethren, and withdraw
No portion of your wonted favor now!
Mother of this unfathomable world!
Favor my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my bed
In charnels and on coffins, where black death
Keeps record of the trophies won from thee,
Hoping to still these obstinate questionings
Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost,
Thy messenger, to render up the tale
Of what we are. In lone and silent hours,
When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness,
Like an inspired and desperate alchemist
Staking his very life on some dark hope,
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks
With my most innocent love, until strange tears,
Uniting with those breathless kisses, made
Such magic as compels the charmèd night
To render up thy charge; and, though ne'er yet
Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and deep noonday thought,
Has shone within me, that serenely now
And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre
Suspended in the solitary dome
Of some mysterious and deserted fane,
I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain
May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.
There was a Poet whose untimely tomb
No human hands with pious reverence reared,
But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds
Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid
Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness:
A lovely youth,--no mourning maiden decked
With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath,
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:
Gentle, and brave, and generous,--no lorn bard
Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh:
He lived, he died, he sung in solitude.
Strangers have wept to hear his passionate notes,
And virgins, as unknown he passed, have pined
And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes.
The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to burn,
And Silence, too enamoured of that voice,
Locks its mute music in her rugged cell.
By solemn vision and bright silver dream
His infancy was nurtured. Every sight
And sound from the vast earth and ambient air
Sent to his heart its choicest impulses.
The fountains of divine philosophy
Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great,
Or good, or lovely, which the sacred past
In truth or fable consecrates, he felt
And knew. When early youth had passed, he left
His cold fireside and alienated home
To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness
Has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought
With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men,
His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps
He like her shadow has pursued, where'er
The red volcano overcanopies
Its fields of snow and pinnacles of ice
With burning smoke, or where bitumen lakes
On black bare pointed islets ever beat
With sluggish surge, or where the secret caves,
Rugged and dark, winding among the springs
Of fire and poison, inaccessible
To avarice or pride, their starry domes
Of diamond and of gold expand above
Numberless and immeasurable halls,
Frequent with crystal column, and clear shrines
Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chrysolite.
Nor had that scene of ampler majesty
Than gems or gold, the varying roof of heaven
And the green earth, lost in his heart its claims
To love and wonder; he would linger long
In lonesome vales, making the wild his home,
Until the doves and squirrels would partake
From his innocuous band his bloodless food,
Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks,
And the wild antelope, that starts whene'er
The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend
Her timid steps, to gaze upon a form
More graceful than her own.
His wandering step,
Obedient to high thoughts, has visited
The awful ruins of the days of old:
Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste
Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers
Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids,
Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange,
Sculptured on alabaster obelisk
Or jasper tomb or mutilated sphinx,
Dark Æthiopia in her desert hills
Conceals. Among the ruined temples there,
Stupendous columns, and wild images
Of more than man, where marble daemons watch
The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men
Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around,
He lingered, poring on memorials
Of the world's youth: through the long burning day
Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor, when the moon
Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades
Suspended he that task, but ever gazed
And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind
Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw
The thrilling secrets of the birth of time.
Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food,
Her daily portion, from her father's tent,
And spread her matting for his couch, and stole
From duties and repose to tend his steps,
Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe
To speak her love, and watched his nightly sleep,
Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips
Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath
Of innocent dreams arose; then, when red morn
Made paler the pale moon, to her cold home
Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned.
The Poet, wandering on, through Arabie,
And Persia, and the wild Carmanian waste,
And o'er the aërial mountains which pour down
Indus and Oxus from their icy caves,
In joy and exultation held his way;
Till in the vale of Cashmire, far within
Its loneliest dell, where odorous plants entwine
Beneath the hollow rocks a natural bower,
Beside a sparkling rivulet he stretched
His languid limbs. A vision on his sleep
There came, a dream of hopes that never yet
Had flushed his cheek. He dreamed a veilèd maid
Sate near him, talking in low solemn tones.
Her voice was like the voice of his own soul
Heard in the calm of thought; its music long,
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held
His inmost sense suspended in its web
Of many-colored woof and shifting hues.
Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme,
And lofty hopes of divine liberty,
Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy,
Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood
Of her pure mind kindled through all her frame
A permeating fire; wild numbers then
She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous sobs
Subdued by its own pathos; her fair hands
Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp
Strange symphony, and in their branching veins
The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale.
The beating of her heart was heard to fill
The pauses of her music, and her breath
Tumultuously accorded with those fits
Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose,
As if her heart impatiently endured
Its bursting burden; at the sound he turned,
And saw by the warm light of their own life
Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil
Of woven wind, her outspread arms now bare,
Her dark locks floating in the breath of night,
Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips
Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly.
His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess
Of love. He reared his shuddering limbs, and quelled
His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet
Her panting bosom:--she drew back awhile,
Then, yielding to the irresistible joy,
With frantic gesture and short breathless cry
Folded his frame in her dissolving arms.
Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night
Involved and swallowed up the vision; sleep,
Like a dark flood suspended in its course,
Rolled back its impulse on his vacant brain.
Roused by the shock, he started from his trance--
The cold white light of morning, the blue moon
Low in the west, the clear and garish hills,
The distinct valley and the vacant woods,
Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled
The hues of heaven that canopied his bower
Of yesternight? The sounds that soothed his sleep,
The mystery and the majesty of Earth,
The joy, the exultation? His wan eyes
Gaze on the empty scene as vacantly
As ocean's moon looks on the moon in heaven.
The spirit of sweet human love has sent
A vision to the sleep of him who spurned
Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues
Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade;
He overleaps the bounds. Alas! alas!
Were limbs and breath and being intertwined
Thus treacherously? Lost, lost, forever lost
In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep,
That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of death
Conduct to thy mysterious paradise,
O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds
And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake
Lead only to a black and watery depth,
While death's blue vault with loathliest vapors hung,
Where every shade which the foul grave exhales
Hides its dead eye from the detested day,
Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms?
This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his heart;
The insatiate hope which it awakened stung
His brain even like despair.
While daylight held
The sky, the Poet kept mute conference
With his still soul. At night the passion came,
Like the fierce fiend of a distempered dream,
And shook him from his rest, and led him forth
Into the darkness. As an eagle, grasped
In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast
Burn with the poison, and precipitates
Through night and day, tempest, and calm, and cloud,
Frantic with dizzying anguish, her blind flight
O'er the wide aëry wilderness: thus driven
By the bright shadow of that lovely dream,
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night,
Through tangled swamps and deep precipitous dells,
Startling with careless step the moon-light snake,
He fled. Red morning dawned upon his flight,
Shedding the mockery of its vital hues
Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on
Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep
Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud;
Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs
Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind
Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on,
Day after day, a weary waste of hours,
Bearing within his life the brooding care
That ever fed on its decaying flame.
And now his limbs were lean; his scattered hair,
Sered by the autumn of strange suffering,
Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand
Hung like dead bone within its withered skin;
Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone,
As in a furnace burning secretly,
From his dark eyes alone. The cottagers,
Who ministered with human charity
His human wants, beheld with wondering awe
Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer,
Encountering on some dizzy precipice
That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit of Wind,
With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet
Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused
In its career; the infant would conceal
His troubled visage in his mother's robe
In terror at the glare of those wild eyes,
To remember their strange light in many a dream
Of after times; but youthful maidens, taught
By nature, would interpret half the woe
That wasted him, would call him with false names
Brother and friend, would press his pallid hand
At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path
Of his departure from their father's door.
At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore
He paused, a wide and melancholy waste
Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged
His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there,
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds.
It rose as he approached, and, with strong wings
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course
High over the immeasurable main.
His eyes pursued its flight:--'Thou hast a home,
Beautiful bird! thou voyagest to thine home,
Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy neck
With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy.
And what am I that I should linger here,
With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes,
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers
In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven
That echoes not my thoughts?' A gloomy smile
Of desperate hope wrinkled his quivering lips.
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly
Its precious charge, and silent death exposed,
Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure,
With doubtful smile mocking its own strange charms.
Startled by his own thoughts, he looked around.
There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight
Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind.
A little shallop floating near the shore
Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze.
It had been long abandoned, for its sides
Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints
Swayed with the undulations of the tide.
A restless impulse urged him to embark
And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's waste;
For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves
The slimy caverns of the populous deep.
The day was fair and sunny; sea and sky
Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind
Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves.
Following his eager soul, the wanderer
Leaped in the boat; he spread his cloak aloft
On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat,
And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea
Like a torn cloud before the hurricane.
As one that in a silver vision floats
Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds
Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly
Along the dark and ruffled waters fled
The straining boat. A whirlwind swept it on,
With fierce gusts and precipitating force,
Through the white ridges of the chafèd sea.
The waves arose. Higher and higher still
Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge
Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp.
Calm and rejoicing in the fearful war
Of wave ruining on wave, and blast on blast
Descending, and black flood on whirlpool driven
With dark obliterating course, he sate:
As if their genii were the ministers
Appointed to conduct him to the light
Of those belovèd eyes, the Poet sate,
Holding the steady helm. Evening came on;
The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues
High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray
That canopied his path o'er the waste deep;
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east,
Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks
O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of Day;
Night followed, clad with stars. On every side
More horribly the multitudinous streams
Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war
Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to mock
The calm and spangled sky. The little boat
Still fled before the storm; still fled, like foam
Down the steep cataract of a wintry river;
Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave;
Now leaving far behind the bursting mass
That fell, convulsing ocean; safely fled--
As if that frail and wasted human form
Had been an elemental god.
The moon arose; and lo! the ethereal cliffs
Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone
Among the stars like sunlight, and around
Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the waves
Bursting and eddying irresistibly
Rage and resound forever.--Who shall save?--
The boat fled on,--the boiling torrent drove,--
The crags closed round with black and jagged arms,
The shattered mountain overhung the sea,
And faster still, beyond all human speed,
Suspended on the sweep of the smooth wave,
The little boat was driven. A cavern there
Yawned, and amid its slant and winding depths
Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on
With unrelaxing speed.--'Vision and Love!'
The Poet cried aloud, 'I have beheld
The path of thy departure. Sleep and death
Shall not divide us long.'
The boat pursued
The windings of the cavern. Daylight shone
At length upon that gloomy river's flow;
Now, where the fiercest war among the waves
Is calm, on the unfathomable stream
The boat moved slowly. Where the mountain, riven,
Exposed those black depths to the azure sky,
Ere yet the flood's enormous volume fell
Even to the base of Caucasus, with sound
That shook the everlasting rocks, the mass
Filled with one whirlpool all that ample chasm;
Stair above stair the eddying waters rose,
Circling immeasurably fast, and laved
With alternating dash the gnarlèd roots
Of mighty trees, that stretched their giant arms
In darkness over it. I' the midst was left,
Reflecting yet distorting every cloud,
A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm.
Seized by the sway of the ascending stream,
With dizzy swiftness, round and round and round,
Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose,
Till on the verge of the extremest curve,
Where through an opening of the rocky bank
The waters overflow, and a smooth spot
Of glassy quiet 'mid those battling tides
Is left, the boat paused shuddering.--Shall it sink
Down the abyss? Shall the reverting stress
Of that resistless gulf embosom it?
Now shall it fall?--A wandering stream of wind
Breathed from the west, has caught the expanded sail,
And, lo! with gentle motion between banks
Of mossy slope, and on a placid stream,
Beneath a woven grove, it sails, and, hark!
The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar
With the breeze murmuring in the musical woods.
Where the embowering trees recede, and leave
A little space of green expanse, the cove
Is closed by meeting banks, whose yellow flowers
Forever gaze on their own drooping eyes,
Reflected in the crystal calm. The wave
Of the boat's motion marred their pensive task,
Which naught but vagrant bird, or wanton wind,
Or falling spear-grass, or their own decay
Had e'er disturbed before. The Poet longed
To deck with their bright hues his withered hair,
But on his heart its solitude returned,
And he forbore. Not the strong impulse hid
In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame,
Had yet performed its ministry; it hung
Upon his life, as lightning in a cloud
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods
Of night close over it.
The noonday sun
Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves,
Scooped in the dark base of their aëry rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar forever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as, led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death,
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt some bank,
Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate. The oak,
Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang
Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks, and, as gamesome infants' eyes,
With gentle meanings, and most innocent wiles,
Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make network of the dark blue light of day
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns
Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen
Sends from its woods of musk-rose twined with jasmine
A soul-dissolving odor to invite
To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell
Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
Like vaporous shapes half-seen; beyond, a well,
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
Images all the woven boughs above,
And each depending leaf, and every speck
Of azure sky darting between their chasms;
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star,
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon,
Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.
Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld
Their own wan light through the reflected lines
Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth
Of that still fountain; as the human heart,
Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave,
Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard
The motion of the leaves--the grass that sprung
Startled and glanced and trembled even to feel
An unaccustomed presence--and the sound
Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs
Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit seemed
To stand beside him--clothed in no bright robes
Of shadowy silver or enshrining light,
Borrowed from aught the visible world affords
Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;
But undulating woods, and silent well,
And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming,
Held commune with him, as if he and it
Were all that was; only--when his regard
Was raised by intense pensiveness--two eyes,
Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought,
And seemed with their serene and azure smiles
To beckon him.
Obedient to the light
That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing
The windings of the dell. The rivulet,
Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine
Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell
Among the moss with hollow harmony
Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones
It danced, like childhood laughing as it went;
Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept,
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud
That overhung its quietness.--'O stream!
Whose source is inaccessibly profound,
Whither do thy mysterious waters tend?
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness,
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs,
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course,
Have each their type in me; and the wide sky
And measureless ocean may declare as soon
What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud
Contains thy waters, as the universe
Tell where these living thoughts reside, when stretched
Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs shall waste
I' the passing wind!'
Beside the grassy shore
Of the small stream he went; he did impress
On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught
Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one
Roused by some joyous madness from the couch
Of fever, he did move; yet not like him
Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame
Of his frail exultation shall be spent,
He must descend. With rapid steps he went
Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow
Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now
The forest's solemn canopies were changed
For the uniform and lightsome evening sky.
Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed
The struggling brook; tall spires of windlestrae
Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope,
And nought but gnarlèd roots of ancient pines
Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots
The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here
Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away,
The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin
And white, and where irradiate dewy eyes
Had shone, gleam stony orbs:--so from his steps
Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade
Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds
And musical motions. Calm he still pursued
The stream, that with a larger volume now
Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there
Fretted a path through its descending curves
With its wintry speed. On every side now rose
Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms,
Lifted their black and barren pinnacles
In the light of evening, and its precipice
Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above,
'Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and yawning caves,
Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues
To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass expands
Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks,
And seems with its accumulated crags
To overhang the world; for wide expand
Beneath the wan stars and descending moon
Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams,
Dim tracts and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom
Of leaden-colored even, and fiery hills
Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge
Of the remote horizon. The near scene,
In naked and severe simplicity,
Made contrast with the universe. A pine,
Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy
Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant blast
Yielding one only response at each pause
In most familiar cadence, with the howl,
The thunder and the hiss of homeless streams
Mingling its solemn song, whilst the broad river
Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path,
Fell into that immeasurable void,
Scattering its waters to the passing winds.
Yet the gray precipice and solemn pine
And torrent were not all;--one silent nook
Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain,
Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks,
It overlooked in its serenity
The dark earth and the bending vault of stars.
It was a tranquil spot that seemed to smile
Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped
The fissured stones with its entwining arms,
And did embower with leaves forever green
And berries dark the smooth and even space
Of its inviolated floor; and here
The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore
In wanton sport those bright leaves whose decay,
Red, yellow, or ethereally pale,
Rivals the pride of summer. 'T is the haunt
Of every gentle wind whose breath can teach
The wilds to love tranquillity. One step,
One human step alone, has ever broken
The stillness of its solitude; one voice
Alone inspired its echoes;--even that voice
Which hither came, floating among the winds,
And led the loveliest among human forms
To make their wild haunts the depository
Of all the grace and beauty that endued
Its motions, render up its majesty,
Scatter its music on the unfeeling storm,
And to the damp leaves and blue cavern mould,
Nurses of rainbow flowers and branching moss,
Commit the colors of that varying cheek,
That snowy breast, those dark and drooping eyes.
The dim and hornèd moon hung low, and poured
A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge
That overflowed its mountains. Yellow mist
Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and drank
Wan moonlight even to fulness; not a star
Shone, not a sound was heard; the very winds,
Danger's grim playmates, on that precipice
Slept, clasped in his embrace.--O storm of death,
Whose sightless speed divides this sullen night!
And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still
Guiding its irresistible career
In thy devastating omnipotence,
Art king of this frail world! from the red field
Of slaughter, from the reeking hospital,
The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy bed
Of innocence, the scaffold and the throne,
A mighty voice invokes thee! Ruin calls
His brother Death! A rare and regal prey
He hath prepared, prowling around the world;
Glutted with which thou mayst repose, and men
Go to their graves like flowers or creeping worms,
Nor ever more offer at thy dark shrine
The unheeded tribute of a broken heart.
When on the threshold of the green recess
The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew that death
Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled,
Did he resign his high and holy soul
To images of the majestic past,
That paused within his passive being now,
Like winds that bear sweet music, when they breathe
Through some dim latticed chamber. He did place
His pale lean hand upon the rugged trunk
Of the old pine; upon an ivied stone
Reclined his languid head; his limbs did rest,
Diffused and motionless, on the smooth brink
Of that obscurest chasm;--and thus he lay,
Surrendering to their final impulses
The hovering powers of life. Hope and Despair,
The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or fear
Marred his repose; the influxes of sense
And his own being, unalloyed by pain,
Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed
The stream of thought, till he lay breathing there
At peace, and faintly smiling. His last sight
Was the great moon, which o'er the western line
Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended,
With whose dun beams inwoven darkness seemed
To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills
It rests; and still as the divided frame
Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood,
That ever beat in mystic sympathy
With Nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler still;
And when two lessening points of light alone
Gleamed through the darkness, the alternate gasp
Of his faint respiration scarce did stir
The stagnate night:--till the minutest ray
Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in his heart.
It paused--it fluttered. But when heaven remained
Utterly black, the murky shades involved
An image silent, cold, and motionless,
As their own voiceless earth and vacant air.
Even as a vapor fed with golden beams
That ministered on sunlight, ere the west
Eclipses it, was now that wondrous frame--
No sense, no motion, no divinity--
A fragile lute, on whose harmonious strings
The breath of heaven did wander--a bright stream
Once fed with many-voicèd waves--a dream
Of youth, which night and time have quenched forever--
Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered now.
Oh, for Medea's wondrous alchemy,
Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth gleam
With bright flowers, and the wintry boughs exhale
From vernal blooms fresh fragrance! Oh, that God,
Profuse of poisons, would concede the chalice
Which but one living man has drained, who now,
Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that feels
No proud exemption in the blighting curse
He bears, over the world wanders forever,
Lone as incarnate death! Oh, that the dream
Of dark magician in his visioned cave,
Raking the cinders of a crucible
For life and power, even when his feeble hand
Shakes in its last decay, were the true law
Of this so lovely world! But thou art fled,
Like some frail exhalation, which the dawn
Robes in its golden beams,--ah! thou hast fled!
The brave, the gentle and the beautiful,
The child of grace and genius. Heartless things
Are done and said i' the world, and many worms
And beasts and men live on, and mighty Earth
From sea and mountain, city and wilderness,
In vesper low or joyous orison,
Lifts still its solemn voice:--but thou art fled--
Thou canst no longer know or love the shapes
Of this phantasmal scene, who have to thee
Been purest ministers, who are, alas!
Now thou art not! Upon those pallid lips
So sweet even in their silence, on those eyes
That image sleep in death, upon that form
Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let no tear
Be shed--not even in thought. Nor, when those hues
Are gone, and those divinest lineaments,
Worn by the senseless wind, shall live alone
In the frail pauses of this simple strain,
Let not high verse, mourning the memory
Of that which is no more, or painting's woe
Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery
Their own cold powers. Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o' the world, are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade.
It is a woe "too deep for tears," when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope;
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature's vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.