By the country road I was going silent.
It was deserted and long in the view.
The accordeons had started playing suddenly,
And the silence waved her hands, being confused.
And there was wedding, wedding, wedding singing,
And was dancing.
And wings were carrying it far and far.
And there was a little place to wedding funning!
Was not enough place in the earth and sky!
Under play of the rural orchestra the wind joked
With the bride's white veil trying to twine.
The bridegroom was so serious, the bride was
Inconceivably, amazingly young.
The troikas passed by with the sound ringing,
* troika - three horses, harnessed together
And I felt the breath of spring, fresh and new.
I was going alone and unmarried,
And regretted of me being not a groom.
Somewhere was wedding, wedding, wedding singing
And was dancing.
And wings were carrying it far and far.
And there was a little place to wedding funning!
Was not enough place in the earth and sky!
- quotes about wedding
- quotes about dance
- quotes about sky
- quotes about Earth
- quotes about countries
- quotes about sound
- quotes about wind
- quotes about white
The Wisdom Of Merlyn
These are the time--words of Merlyn, the voice of his age recorded,
All his wisdom of life, the fruit of tears in his youth, of joy in his manhood hoarded,
All the wit of his years unsealed, to the witless alms awarded.
These are his time--gifts of song, his help to the heavy--laden,
Words of an expert of life, who has gathered its sins in his sack, its virtues to grieve and gladden,
Speaking aloud as one who is strong to the heart of man, wife and maiden.
For he is Merlyn of old, the once young, the still robed in glory,
Ancient of days though he be, with wisdom only for wealth and the crown of his locks grown hoary,
Yet with the rage of his soul untamed, the skill of his lips in story.
He dares not unhouselled die, who has seen, who has known, who has tasted
What of the splendours of Time, of the wise wild joys of the Earth, of the newness of pleasures quested,
All that is neither of then nor now, Truth's naked self clean--breasted,
Things of youth and of strength, the Earth with its infinite pity,
Glories of mountain and plain, of streams that wind from the hills to the insolent human city,
Dark with its traders of human woe enthroned in the seats of the mighty.
Fair things nobler than Man before the day of his ruling,
Free in their ancient peace, ere he came to change, to destroy, to hinder with his schooling,
Asking naught that was his to give save freedom from his fooling.
Beautiful, wonderful, wise, a consonant law--ruled heaven,
Garden ungardened yet, in need yet hardly of God to walk there noon or even,
Beast and bird and flower in its place, Earth's wonders more than seven.
Of these he would speak and confess, to the young who regard not their heirship,
Of beauty to boys who are blind, of might to the impotent strong, to the women who crowd Time's fair ship,
Of pearls deep hid in Love's Indian seas, the name of the God they worship.
Thus let it be with Merlyn before his daylight is ended,
One last psalm of his life, the light of it lipped with laughter, the might of it mixed and blended
Still with the subtle sweet need of tears than Pleasure's self more splendid,
Psalm and hymn of the Earth expounding what Time teaches,
Creed no longer of wrath, of silent issueless hopes, of a thing which beyond Man's reach is,
Hope deferred till the heart grows sick, while the preacher vainly preaches.
Nay but a logic of life, which needeth no deferring,
Life with its birthright love, the sun the wind and the rain in multiple pleasure stirring
Under the summer leaves at noon, with no sad doubt of erring,
No sad legend of sin, since his an innocent Eden
Is, and a garden of grace, its gateway clear of the sword, its alleys not angel--ridden,
Its tree of life at the lips of all and never a fruit forbidden.
Merlyn is no vain singer to vex men's ears in the street,
Nay, nor a maid's unbidden. He importuneth none with his song, be it never so wild and sweet.
She that hath ears to hear, let her hear; he will not follow her feet.
Merlyn makes no petition. He asketh of no man alms.
Prince and prophet is he, a monarch, a giver of gifts, a lord of the open plams,
Sueth he naught, not at God's own hand, though he laudeth the Lord in psalms.
Merlyn would speak his message only to hearts that are strong,
To him that hath courage to climb, who would gather time's samphire flowers, who would venture the crags among.
To her who would lesson her soul to fear, with love for sermon and song.
Merlyn hath arms of pity, the weak he would hold to his soul,
Make them partakers of truth, of the ancient weal of the Earth, of the life--throb from Pole to Pole.
He would hold them close; he would dry their tears; with a kiss he would make them whole.
Thus would he sing and to thee, thou child with the eyes of passion
Watching his face in the dark, in the silent light of the stars, while he in his godlike fashion
Maketh his mock at the fears of men, nor spareth to lay the lash on.
Thus would thy Merlyn devise, ere the days of his years be numbered,
Now at threescore and ten. He would leave his word to the world, his soul of its load uncumbered.
Then would he lay his ear to the grave, and sleep as his childhood slumbered.
What is the fruit of Wisdom? To learn the proportion of things;
To know the ant from the lion, the whale from the crest of the wave, the ditty the grasshopper sings
From the chaunt of the full--fledged Paradise bird as he shakes the dew from his wings.
There is one thing more than knowledge, a harvest garnered by few:
To tutor the heart to achieve, to fashion the act to the hand, to do and not yearn to do,
To say to the wish of the soul ``I will,'' to have gathered the flower where it grew.
I was young, and they told me ``Tarry. The rash in the nets are taken.
If there be doubt of thy deed, abstain, lest the day of danger behold thee by these forsaken,
Lest thou lie in the lion's den thou hast roused, with the eyes thou hast dared to waken.''
They spake, but I answered ``Nay, who waiteth shall take no quarry.
Pleasure is fleet as the roe; in the vales he feedeth to--day, but at nightwhen the eyes grow weary
Lo, he hath passed to the desolate hills; he is gone. Nay, he may not tarry.''
For Joy too needeth a net. He cometh tame to thy hand,
Asketh an alms of thy life, to serve thee, thy jubilant slave, if thou wouldst but understand.
Then is thy moment, O Man, for the noose, be it steel or a silken band.
Therefore, where doubt is, do! Thou shalt stumble in thine endeavour,
Ay, till thy knees be sore, thy back with the arrows of grief, and thou stand with an empty quiver.
Yet shall thy heart prevail through its pain, for pain is a mastering lever.
Wouldst thou be wise, O Man? At the knees of a woman begin.
Her eyes shall teach thee thy road, the worth of the thing called pleasure, the joy of the thing called sin.
Else shalt thou go to thy grave in pain for the folly that might have been.
For know, the knowledge of women the beginning of wisdom is.
Who had seven hundred wives and concubines hundreds three, as we read in the book of bliss?
Solomon, wisest of men and kings, and ``all of them princesses.''
Yet, be thou stronger than they. To be ruled of a woman is ill.
Life hath an hundred ways, beside the way of her arms, to give thee of joy thy fill.
Only is love of thy life the flower. Be thine the ultimate will.
A right way is to be happy, a wrong way too. Then beware.
Leave the colt in his stall, he shall grow to a thankless jade, be he never so fat and fair.
Sloth is a crime. Rise up, young fool, and grasp thy joy by the hair.
What is the motto of youth? There is only one. Be thou strong.
Do thy work and achieve, with thy brain, with thy hands, with thy heart, the deeds which to strength belong.
Strike each day thy blow for the right, or failing strike for the wrong.
He that would gain let him give. The shut hand hardly shall win.
Open thy palms to the poor, O thou of the indigent heart. There shall pleas ure be poured therein.
Use thy soul to the cord of joy. If thou sin must, strongly sin.
Cast thy whole heart away. The Earth, philosophers tell,
Leaps to a pebble thrown, be it never so little; it moved to the bidding of that which fell.
Throw thy heart! Thou shalt move the world, though thou fall on the floor of Hell.
Few have the courage of loving. Faint hearts! The loss is theirs.
Few of their idlest whims. ``I would win to Rome ere I die,'' one cried in his daily cares,
Yet plods on on 'Change to his grave, the slave of his stocks and shares.
Learn to appraise thy desires, to weigh the wares of thy heart.
If thou wouldst play with pleasure, avoid Love's passionate tides, its perilous Ocean chart,
Hug the shores of Love's inland seas, and buy thy joys in the mart.
Love lightly, but marry at leisure. Wild Love is a flower of the field
Waiting all hands to gather and ours. If we leave it another will win it and kneel where we kneeled.
Marriage is one tame garden rose in a garden fenced and sealed.
O thou who art sitting silent! Youth, with the eyelids of grief!
How shall I rouse thee to wit? Thou hast stolen the joy of our world. Thouscornest its vain relief.
Nay, she is here. Be thy tongue set free. Play up, thou eloquent thief.
Doubt not thy absolution, sinner, who darest to sin.
So thou prevail in the end, she shall hold thee guiltless of guile, a hero, a paladin.
The end in her eyes hath thee justified, whatever thy means have been.
Love is of body and body, the physical passion of joy;
The desire of the man for the maid, her nakedness strained to his own; the mother's who suckles her boy
With the passionate flow of her naked breast. All else is a fraudulent toy.
Of the house where Love is the master thy beauty may hold the key.
It shall open the hall--door wide, shout loud thy name to its lord. Yet, wouldst thou its full guest be,
Bring with thee other than beauty, wit. Then sit at the feast made free.
``To talk of love is to make love.'' Truly, a maxim of price.
Nathless the noblest soul, shouldst thou tell her of passionate things and fail to gaze in her eyes,
Shall hold thee cheap in her woman's pride, a clown for thy courtesies.
Love hath two mountain summits, the first where pleasure was born
Faint in the cloud--land of light, a vision of possible hope; the second a tempest--torn
Crag where passion is lord and king. Betwixt them what vales forlorn!
Happiness needs to be learned. In youth the ideal woman
Gazed at afar was a dream, a priceless untouchable prize, while she in your arms, too human,
Mocked you with love. 'Tis an art learned late; alas, and the whole by no man.
O! thou in the purple gendered. Thou needst pain for thy case.
Lose thy health or thy heart. Be bowed in thy soul's despond. Be whelmed in a world's disgrace.
So shall thy eyes be unsealed of pride and see Love face to face.
If thou wouldst win love, speak. She shall read the truth on thy lips.
Spoken vows shall prevail, the spell of thy eloquent hand, the flame of thy finger--tips.
Write? She is reading another's eyes while thy sad pen dips and dips.
Thou hast ventured a letter of passion, in ease of thy passionate heart?
Nay, be advised; there is fear, mischance in the written word, when lovers are far apart.
Pain is betrayed by the subtle pen where lips prevailed without art.
Love is a fire. In the lighting, it raiseth a treacherous smoke,
Telling its tale to the world; but anon, growing clear in its flame, may be hid by an old wife's cloak,
And the world learn nothing more and forget the knowledge its smouldering woke.
Comes there a trouble upon thee? Be silent, nor own the debt.
Friendship kicks at the goda; thy naked state is its shame; thou hast angered these with thy fret.
Wait. The world shall forgive thy sin. It asks but leave to forget.
The world is an indolent house--shrew. It scolds but cares not to know
Whether in fancy or fact. What it thinks we have done, that it scourges; the true thing we did it lets go.
What matter? We fare less ill than our act, ay, all of us; more be our woe!
There are days when wisdom is witless, when folly is noble, sublime.
Let us thank the dear gods for our madness, the rush of the blood in our veins, the exuberant pulsings of Time,
And pray, while we sin the forbidden sin, we be spared our penance of crime.
There are habits and customs of passion. Long loves are a tyrannous debt.
But to some there is custom of change, the desire of the untrodden ways, with sunshine of days that were wet,
Of the four fair wives of love's kindly law by licence of Mahomet.
Experience all is of use, save one, to have angered a friend.
Break thy heart for a maid; another shall love thee anon. The gold shall return thou didst spend,
Ay, and thy beaten back grow whole. But friendship's grave is the end.
Why do I love thee, brother? We have shared what things in our youth,
Battle and siege and triumph, together, always together, in wanderings North and South.
But one thing shared binds nearer than all, the kisses of one sweet mouth.
He that hath loved the mother shall love the daughter no less,
Sister the younger sister. There are tones how sweet to his ear, gestures that plead and press,
Echoes fraught with remembered things that cry in the silences.
Fly from thy friend in his fortune, his first days of wealth, of fame;
Or, if thou needest to meet him, do thou as the children of Noah, walk back wards and guard thee from blame.
He who saw found forgiveness none. With thee it were haply the same.
Bridegroom, thy pride is unseemly. Thou boastest abroad, with a smile,
Thou hast read our humanity's riddle. Nay, wait yet a year with thy bride; she shall lesson thee wiser the while.
Then shalt thou blush for thy words to--day, the shame of thy innocent guile.
The love of a girl is a taper lit on a windy night.
Awhile it lightens our darkness, consoles with its pure sudden flame, and the shadows around it grow white.
Anon with a rain--gust of tears it is gone, and we blink more blind for the light.
Sage, thou art proud of thy knowledge, what mountains and marvels seen!
Thou hast loved how madly, how often! hast known what wiles of the heart, what ways of maid, wife and quean!
Yet shalt thou still be betrayed by love, befooled like a boy on the green.
Oh, there is honour in all love. Have lips once kissed thee, be dumb,
Save in their only praise. To cheapen the thing thou hast loved is to bite at thyself thy thumb,
To shout thy own fool's fault to the world, and beat thy shame on a drum.
Who hath dared mock at thy beauty, Lady? Who deemeth thee old?
If he had seen thee anon in the tender light of thine eyes, as I saw thee, what tales had he told
Of ruined kingdoms and kings for one, of misers spending their gold!
Friendship or Love? You ask it: which binds with the stronger tether?
Friendship? Thy comrade of youth, who laughed with thee on thy road? What ailed him in that rough weather,
When to thy bosom Love's angel crept, twin tragedies locked together?
Friendship is fostered with gifts. Be it so; little presents? Yes.
Friendship! But ah, not Love, since love is itself Love's gift and it angereth him to have less.
Woe to the lover who dares to bring more wealth than his tenderness.
This to the woman: Forbear his gifts, the man's thou wouldst hold.
Cheerfully he shall give and thou nothing guess, yet anon he shall weigh thee in scales of his gold.
Woe to thee then if the charge be more than a heartache's cost all told.
Thou art tempted, a passion unworthy? Long struggle hath dulled thy brain?
How shalt thou save thee, poor soul? How buy back the peace of thy days? If of rest thou be fain,
Oft is there virtue in yielding all; thou shalt not be tempted again.
Sacrifice truly is noble. Yet, Lady, ponder thy fate.
Many a victory, won in tears by her who forbore, hath ruined her soul's estate.
Virtue's prize was too dear a whim, the price agreed to too great.
Virtue or vice? Which, think you, should need more veil for her face?
Virtue hath little fear; she goeth in unchaste guise; she ventureth all disgrace.
Poor Vice hid in her shame sits dumb while a stranger taketh her place.
Chastity? Who is unchaste? The church--wed wife, without blame
Yielding her body nightly, a lack--love indolent prize, to the lord of her legal shame?
Or she, the outlawed passionate soul? Their carnal act is the same.
In youth it is well thou lovest. The fire in thee burneth strong.
Choose whom thou wilt, it kindleth; a beggar--maid or a queen, she shall carry the flame along.
Only in age to be loved is best; her right shall repair thy wrong.
Lady, wouldst fly with thy lover? Alas, he loves thee to--day.
How shall it be to--morrow? He saw thee a bird in the air, a rose on its thorny spray.
He would take thee? What shalt thou be in his hand? A burden to bear alway.
Women love beauty in women, a thing to uphold, to adore,
To vaunt for all womanhood's fame, a seemly sweet fitness of body, adorned with all virtuous lore.
Beauty, but not of the kind men prize. On that they would set small store.
What is there cruel as fear? A falcon rending her prey
Showeth an evil eye, but to him she loveth is kind; her rage she shall put away.
But a frightened woman hath pity none. Though she love thee, yet shall she slay.
Show not thy sin to thy son. He shall judge thee harder than these.
All the servants of Noah beheld his shame in the house and loyally held their peace.
Ham alone at his father laughed, made jest of his nakedness.
Cast not loose thy religion, whether believing or no.
Heavy it is with its rule, a burden laid on thy back, a sombre mask at the show.
Yet shall it cloak thee in days of storm, a shield when life's whirlwinds blow.
As to the tree its ivy, so virtue is to the soul.
All the winter long it clothed us in leafage green, and the forest paid us its toll.
Now it is Spring and the rest rejoice while we stand drear in our dole.
Thy love of children is well. Yet a peril lurketh therein.
See lest thy sloth take excuse of thy fondness. Nay, coward art thou, and thine is the pestilent sin.
Shift wouldst thou thy burden of life, the blame of thy ``might have been.''
Courage we all find enough to bear the mischance of our friends.
How many tortured souls have gone to their self--made graves through wreck of their own mad ends:
But no man yet hath his weazand slit for his neighbour's pain in amends.
Fear not to change thy way, since change is of growth, life's sign.
The Child in his growing body, the Sage in his gathered lore, the Saint in his growths divine,
All find pleasure but Age which weeps the unchanging years' decline.
Whence is our fountain of tears? We weep in childhood for pain,
Anon for triumph in manhood, the sudden glory of praise, the giant mastered and slain.
Age weeps only for love renewed and pleasure come back again.
What is our personal self? A fading record of days
Held in our single brain, memory linked with memory back to our childhood's ways.
Beyond it what? A tradition blurred of gossip and nursemaid says.
Why dost thou plain of thine age, O thou with the beard that is thin?
Art thou alone in thy home? Is there none at thy side, not one, to deem thee a man among men?
Nay, thou art young while she holds thy hand, be thy years the threescore and ten.
The world is untimely contrived. It gives us our sunshine in summer,
Its laughing face in our youth, when we need it not to be gay, being each one his own best mummer.
All its frown is for life that goes, its smile for the last new comer.
Europe a horologe is, ill mounted and clogged with grime,
Asia a clock run down. Its hands on the dial are still; its hours are toldby no chime.
Nathless, twice in the twenty--four, it shall tell thee exactly the time.
What is the profit of knowledge? Ah none, though to know not is pain!
We grieve like a child in the dark; we grope for a chink at the door, for a way of escape from the chain;
We beat on life's lock with our bleeding hands, till it opens. And where is the gain?
I have tried all pleasures but one, the last and sweetest; it waits.
Childhood, the childhood of age, to totter again on the lawns, to have done with the loves and the hates,
To gather the daisies, and drop them, and sleep on the nursing knees of the Fates.
I asked of the wise man ``Tell me, what age is the age of pleasure?
Twenty years have I lived. I have spread my meshes in vain. I have taken a paltry treasure.
Where is the heart of the gold?'' And he, ``I will tell thee anon at leisure.''
I pleaded at thirty ``Listen. I have played, I have lost, I have won.
I have loved in joy and sorrow. My life is a burden grown with the thought of its sands outrun.
Where is the joy of our years? At forty?'' ``Say it is just begun.''
At forty I made love's mourning. I stood alone with my foes,
Foot to foot with my Fate, as a man at grips with a man, returning blows for blows.
In the joy of battle ``'Tis here'' I cried. But the wise man, ``Nay, who knows?''
At fifty I walked sedately. At sixty I took my rest.
I had learned the good with the evil. I troubled my soul no more, I had reached the Isles of the Blest.
The sage was dead who had warned my fears. I was wise, I too, with the best.
What do we know of Being? Our own? How short lived, how base!
That which is not our own? The eternal enrolment of stars, the voids and the silences!
The enormous might of the mindless globes whirling through infinite space!
The infinite Great overhead, the infinite Little beneath!
The turn of the cellular germ, the giddy evolving of life in the intricate struggle for breath,
The microbe, the mote alive in the blood, the eyeless atom of death!
Yet which is the greater Being? We have dreamed of a life--giving God,
Him, the mind of the Sun, the conscious brain--flower of Space, with a cosmic form and abode,
With thought and pity and power of will, Humanity's ethical code.
We have dreamed, but we do not believe. Be He here, be He not, 'tis as one.
His Godhead, how does it help? He is far. He is blind to our need. Nay, nay, He is less than the Sun,
Less than the least of the tremulous stars, than our old scorned idols of stone.
For He heareth not, nor seeth. As we to the motes in our blood,
So is He to our lives, a possible symbol of power, a formula half understood.
But the voice of Him, where? the hand grip, where? A child's cry lost in a wood.
Therefore is Matter monarch, the eternal the infinite Thing,
The ``I that am'' which reigneth, which showeth no shadow of change, while humanities wane and spring,
Which saith ``Make no vain Gods before me, who only am Lord and King.''
What then is Merlyn's message, his word to thee weary of pain,
Man, on thy desolate march, thy search for an adequate cause, for a thread, for a guiding rein,
Still in the maze of thy doubts and fears, to bring thee thy joy again?
Thou hast tried to climb to the sky; thou hast called it a firmament;
Thou hast found it a thing infirm, a heaven which is no haven, a bladder punctured and rent,
A mansion frail as the rainbow mist, as thy own soul impotent.
Thou hast clung to a dream in thy tears; thou hast stayed thy rage with a hope;
Thou hast anchored thy wreck to a reed, a cobweb spread for thy sail, with sand for thy salvage rope;
Thou hast made thy course with a compass marred, a toy for thy telescope.
What hast thou done with thy days? Bethink thee, Man, that alone,
Thou of all sentient things, hast learned to grieve in thy joy, hast earned thee the malison
Of going sad without cause of pain, a weeper and woebegone.
Why? For the dream of a dream of another than this fair life
Joyous to all but thee, by every creature beloved in its spring--time of passion rife,
By every creature but only thee, sad husband with sadder wife,
Scared at thought of the end, at the simple logic of death,
Scared at the old Earth's arms outstretched to hold thee again, thou child of an hour, of a breath,
Seeking refuge with all but her, the mother that comforteth.
Merlyn's message is this: he would bid thee have done with pride.
What has it brought thee but grief, thy parentage with the Gods, thy kinship with beasts denied?
What thy lore of a life to come in a cloud--world deified?
O thou child which art Man, distraught with a shadow of ill!
O thou fool of thy dreams, thou gatherer rarely of flowers but of fungi ofevil smell,
Posion growths of the autumn woods, rank mandrake and mort--morell!
Take thy joy with the rest, the bird, the beast of the field,
Each one wiser than thou, which frolic in no dismay, which seize what the seasons yield,
And lay thee down when thy day is done content with the unrevealed.
Take the thing which thou hast. Forget thy kingdom unseen.
Lean thy lips on the Earth; she shall bring new peace to thy eyes with her healing vesture green.
Drink once more at her fount of love, the one true hippocrene.
O thou child of thy fears! Nay, shame on thy childish part
Weeping when called to thy bed. Take cheer. When the shadows come, when the crowd is leaving the mart,
Then shalt thou learn that thou needest sleep, Death's kindly arms for thy heart.
- quotes about strength
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about wisdom
- quotes about friendship
- quotes about youth
- quotes about worry
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about pain
- quotes about victory
Goin down that country road,
Leavin behind that heavy load.
Gettin away from the city life,
Society causes too many fights.
Down my country road.
Down my country road, oh.
Down my country road.
Down my country road, road, road.
Too much killin and too many wars,
Women and children must be shuttin their doors.
Protect your country and for this you must die,
They take your life but they dont tell you why.
A Country Road
I sat on the milk-ramp by a road that had
yet to be covered in black, weird asphalt.
Sunday, the sky was eternally blue, could
when I stood up just, see the ocean it was
azure too. Fed up now, but I didn’t want
to leave before I had seen a drifting cloud
across the immaculate sky.
Saw a tall-ship cross the sea; for a time
it balanced on the horizon, sailed upside
down till it sank into a void. Fell asleep,
awoke just as the sun disappeared too;
a car stopped, driver offered me a lift,
but I imperially waved him off, wanted
to keep my reveries a little longer.
Take to the highway wont you lend me your name
Your way and my way seem to be one in the same
Momma dont understand it
She wants to know where I been
Id have to be some kind of natural born fool
To want to pass that way again
But you know I could feel it
On a country road
Sail on home to jesus wont you good girls and boys
Im all in pieces, you can have your own choice
I could seen a heavenly band full of angels
And theyre a comin to set me free
Dont know much about the wild wind
But I can tell that its bound to because I could feel it
On a country road
Guess my feet know where the want me to go
Walking on a country road
Walk on down, walk on down, walk on down
Walk on down, walk on down a country road yeah
La la la la la la la
Yeah walking on a country road
Walking on a country road
Saw you turnin down main street in your big, black fancy car
You were dressed up fit to kill, with a pretty girl on your arm
You spun around and you headed up town
Where the neon lights all shine
Left me choking in a cloud of dust
You never pay me no mind
Youre livin in the fast lane
I guess Im just too slow
I never wore silk or fancy furs
Just plain ole calico
Ill never be a fast lane lover
And theyre the only kind you take up town
I am just a country road
That you keep turnin down
If you ever hit a dead end street
If its love that youre looking for
You can always turn around
And beat a path right to my door
Do I have to draw you a map
You seem to know your way around
So when youre tired of spinnin your wheels
Baby, we can go to town
Ill never be a fast lane lover
And theyre the only kind you take up town
I am just a country road
That you keep turnin down
I am just a country road
That you keep turnin down
Take to the highway wont you lend me your name
Your way and my way seem to be one and the same
Mamma dont understand it
She wants to know where Ive been
Id have to be some kind of natural born fool
To want to pass that way again
But I could feel it
On a country road
Sail on home to jesus wont you good girls and boys
Im all in pieces, you can have your own choice
But I can hear a heavenly band full of angels
And theyre coming to set me free
I dont know nothing bout the why or when
But I can tell that its bound to be
Because I could feel it, child, yeah
On a country road
I guess my feet know where they want me to go
Walking on a country road
Take to the highway wont you lend me your name
Your way and my way seem to be one and the same, child
Mamma dont understand it
She wants to know where Ive been
Id have to be some kind of natural born fool
To want to pass that way again
But I could feel it
On a country road
Walk on down, walk on down, walk on down
Walk on down, walk on down a country road
Walking on a country road
Wednesday's Child (Sheffield Wednesday Soccer Club)
It eats soccer. It breathes soccer. It lives soccer. It fades when it's team fades and it blooms when it's team blooms. It has the letters S.W. permanently etched upon it's brain and it probably even arranges it's Monopoly money in S.W. formations. What is it, you ask? It's a soccer fan. You knew that, didn't you? But it isn't just any soccer fan. It is specifically a Sheffield Wednesday soccer fan. Or addict, for want of a better word.
Yes, of course, even I know about Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Man. United fans. They're the normal, run-of-the-mill type but Owls supporters are really Something Else!
I have had the somewhat dubious good fortune of becoming rather well acquainted with one of these strange 'animals' but until today, I'd managed to evade any one-to-one discourse on the merits or demerits of one man's passion for his team. On the face of it, you could say I asked for it. In a weak moment, I queried how his team had fared over the past week or so. It was like asking a hypochondriac the state of his health.
Well, there I was, supposedly having a cup of tea with his wife, my friend Sheila. But Sheila knew the signs and, together with two equally clued-up daughters, had opportunely beaten a hasty retreat into the garden. They had long since paid their dues. Now, it was my turn.
It was a reasonably tentative beginning. It is more than probable that Ken, the addict, suspected I would never stay the course but feeling somewhat emotionally trapped by the knowledge that he had no sons with whom to share his enthrallment of the game, what else could I do but don my interested-looking mask, take a deep breath and settle back to hear him out. By tacit consent, we both knew that I was a victim of sorts. Destiny rides again!
My heart sunk a little when I realised that he was starting from scratch. From the actual day when his team first started playing. His enthusiasm was boundless but somehow I found myself becoming absorbed in what he was saying. His eyes took on a bright, azure sparkle and his mouth was motoring at twice the speed of sound as it travelled back and forth in time. I stared in mute fascination. This was for real! This was the guy's life. Dear Lord, where was I when enthusiasm for anything was dished out? I raised my eyes Heavenwards and found myself looking straight into those of a grey, woolly owl who was peering down at me from a built-in show-case. The Sheffield Wednesday Football Club mascot. I knew I was a gonner when I found myself asking how the Club had come to be so named.
Sheffield Wednesday, as we know it today, Ken told me, came into being in 1867 as the football section of the Wednesday Cricket Club, which had been in existence since 1820. The cricket club had been the creation of a group of Sheffield craftsmen who gave it the name 'Wednesday' for the simple reason that that was the day when they took regular afternoons off to pursue their sporting enthusiasms.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the meeting at which the football section was formed took place on a Wednesday and this, at a local sporting pub, The Adelphi. Members of the cricket club called the meeting because they wanted a way of keeping everybody together during the winter months but the step was probably partly inspired by the dramatic increase in football's popularity in the town over the previous ten years.
Ken's eyes misted over somewhat as he proudly told me that it had been Sheffield who had led the way in organised football even before the birth of the national FA in 1863. So Wednesday no doubt felt it appropriate to have their own football section. At the very least, it would mean that their players would not be tempted to drift off to other clubs at the end of the summer and forget to return in the following spring.
The founders could not have imagined that the infant football section would become the dominant partner. So strong, in fact, that within sixteen years it would break free and Wednesday Football Club would become one of the most famous names in English football - and a force in the professional game to boot (no pun intended!) Would they also have believed that the Cricket Club would survive only until 1924 and then die through lack of support, so that today, it is all but forgotten.
By now, there was no doubt that Ken knew he had my attention for I was leaning forward in my chair, hanging onto every word. Vortex-like, my concentration was being pulled and drawn into the centre of what could only be described as the secret world of the soccer-addict; a passionate and breathtaking intensity which would encompass anything related thereto, from a humble soccer boot to a moth-eaten ticket to some long-ago and memorable match played.
'Look! ' he said, paging through a well-thumbed book, 'here's a picture of Wednesday's first match at Olive Grove. This site was bought from the Duke of Norfolk. Did you know that? ' As if I would! But no reply was necessary as he pressed on regardless to tell me about how officials at the time were unable to persuade either Preston or Aston Villa to provide the opposition for a match but Blackburn Rovers did decide to accept the invitation to play. Things weren't going too well but I wanted to fall off my chair to show him how thrilled I was too when Wednesday recovered from a three-goal deficit to draw 4-4 but he wouldn't have noticed. He was in another world.
And then he was down in the depths again as he showed me pictures of headlines proclaiming how Dooley had broken his leg at Deepdale way back in 1953. It was to be the end of the big centre-forward's career. Oh, shame, Ken, I said. And I really meant it.
1954-55 proved to be a disastrous season with Wednesday finishing bottom of the table, nine points below relegation companions Leicester City. The Owls won only 8 games, losing 24 and conceding 100 goals. However, Ken assured me, they won the Second Division Championship in 1955-56 with three points to spare and in the following season they finished mid-table. But, oh dear, by 1957-58 they were down again. The Addict's voice faded and I thought he had been called by the angels.
'And then....? ' I encouraged. Momentarily, he seemed to surface.
'Go on, get along with you, ' he said with a half-smile, 'you're not really interested.'
'Oh, I am, I am, ' I protested gamely, whereupon he went on to tell me all about the so-called bribes scandal or betting-coup revelations which broke in the Sunday newspapers of 1964. Not only did Wednesday suffer in terms of its reputation but it also lost two of its best players.
The situation sounded sufficiently grave for me to try my mournful-look but no, it wasn't necessary as The Addict changed course and went on to tell me the good news about how in 1971, that bloke Dooley, (who'd broken his leg 18 years or so earlier and subsequently had to have it amputated) had been made manager of the club. He was still an idol in the city and the folk-hero of Hillsborough. But his magic was limited and he proved that he was as human as anyone else in his lack of anticipated performance.
But Sheila was rattling crockery in the kitchen and the thought of a nice cup of tea was becoming more and more enticing. Escape was out of the question. We still had about twenty years more to work through! There's a limit to a body's endurance and a feminine mind's appreciation of a predominantly masculine interest.
So, a little less stoically now, I went 'up' with the Owls and 'down' with the Owls as we travelled through from one Division to another over a timespan of many years. But much of their pain was to dissolve in relief when in 1985, they reached their highest position for 25 years by coming fifth in the FA Cup semi-Final. Even if they did lose to Everton.
In that same year, Wednesday were to equalise in the dying seconds of the match with Chelsea. They were 3-O up at half-time and I can well imagine how Ken had nearly fallen off his chair when hearing on the BBC World Service later that evening that the game had ended at 4-4. He still hasn't got over the sheer horror of it all.
There was no stopping him now and I just had to give in and hear about how the next time round, Chelsea lost the toss with the Owls' Chairman tossing the coin and the replay going to Stamford Bridge. Wednesday lost 2-1 proving that the Chelsea bogey had struck again. 'We can't even beat a bunch of pensioners, ' the Addict grinned. I was impressed by his ability not to take himself and his beloved team too seriously.
'And last year, you actually visited the Club, didn't you? ' I asked, determined to hastily gobble up the few remaining years so that I could go and have my tea. I knew of course that the highlight of his addicthood had been when Wednesday were promoted to First Division by beating Man. United in the Rumbelows League Cup Final at Wembley and didn't want to go into all that lot again. Like I said, there's a limit........
'Ah yes, ' he replied dreamily. Even he was beginning to tire. But no, not yet. I had a feeling we were about to move into extra time. More like injury-time, one would say.
'Come, ' he said, leading me towards a cupboard filled with everything and anything that could have any association whatsoever with his team. I'd seen it all before and I would see it again, but there's an indisputable thrill of sharing both old-time and current mementoes and memorabilia of a soccer club, some six thousand miles away, right here in the living room of one of its most ardent supporters.
T-shirts, windcheaters, scarves, video tapes, mugs, knick-knacks too numerous to mention plus a crumpled Olympic Gallery Wembley Ticket which held pride of place amongst his souvenirs. He had them all and each one had its own special significance. Photographs, too, of his own personal stars, newspaper cuttings... the list is unending. But here is happiness. The room exudes the real, intrinsic essence of an out-and-out Wednesday-Addict.
I don't think he even noticed when I quietly left the room. His thoughts were in another country. In another city. Far away, on the playing fields of a soccer-fan's own and very special Eden.
It is now mid-February in the year of 1992 and last week Arsenal nearly brought about the demise of The Addict. Wednesday were trounced 7-1 in what was to be one of their biggest defeats in the history of the club. I need say no more, save that 'Wednesday's Child' is recovering slowly. His colour has returned to a pinker shade of pale and he still lies very quietly in his little wooden cot with his arms tightly wrapped around a furry, woolly owl in a blue and white striped shirt.
On A Winter Afternoon
A gray mare standing beside
The snow covered wooden fence.
The fence along a country road
Icy and well traveled.
Cars and trucks passing by;
Few noticing the gray mare
Breathing hot fog
From her nostrils.
The gray mare noticing all
Passing by, the wind in her hair,
Ruffling her mane. Patiently,
Standing by the snow covered
Awaiting her masters return
From work to bring her safely
Across the country road
To her home, the red barn,
And a meal of winter hay.
Deep Inside Of You
(sung with beth neilson chapman) written by: neil diamond and beth neilson chapman
Good morning, I love you
Now that youre here where you belong
I want to be the man you need
Just tell me, you love me
Because I need to hear it too
Just let me be the one
You carry deep inside of you
I need you beside me
The road is so long
You run thru my heart
Like the words of a bitter sweet song
Ill travel the whole world
Across the earth, around the sun
If I could be the one
You carry deep inside of you
Without you beside me
The road is so long
You live in my heart
And it hurts when I think of you gone
I need you, in my way
I have no right to love so true
But let me be the one
The one who lives deep inside of you
Just let me be the one
You carry deep inside of you
Old Barnard -- A Monkish Tale
OLD BARNARD was still a lusty hind,
Though his age was full fourscore;
And he us'd to go
Thro' hail and snow,
To a neighb'ring town,
With his old coat brown,
To beg, at his GRANDSON'S door!
OLD BARNARD briskly jogg'd along,
When the hail and snow did fall;
And, whatever the day,
He was always gay,
Did the broad Sun glow,
Or the keen wind blow,
While he begg'd in his GRANDSON'S Hall.
His GRANDSON was a Squire, and he
Had houses, and lands, and gold;
And a coach beside,
And horses to ride,
And a downy bed
To repose his head,
And he felt not the winter's cold.
Old BARNARD had neither house nor lands,
Nor gold to buy warm array;
Nor a coach to carry,
His old bones weary
Nor beds of feather
In freezing weather,
To sleep the long nights away.
But BARNARD a quiet conscience had,
No guile did his bosom know;
And when Ev'ning clos'd,
His old bones repos'd,
Tho' the wintry blast
O'er his hovel past,
And he slept, while the winds did blow!
But his GRANDSON, he could never sleep
'Till the Sun began to rise;
For a fev'rish pain
Oppress'd his brain,
And he fear'd some evil
And dream'd of the Devil,
Whenever he clos'd his eyes!
And whenever he feasted the rich and gay,
The Devil still had his joke;
For however rare
The sumptuous fare,
When the sparkling glass
Was seen to pass,--
He was fearful the draught would choke!
And whenever, in fine and costly geer,
The Squire went forth to ride:
The owl would cry,
And the raven fly
Across his road,
While the sluggish toad
Would crawl by his Palfry's side.
And he could not command the Sunny day,
For the rain would wet him through;
And the wind would blow
Where his nag did go,
And the thunder roar,
And the torrents pour,
And he felt the chill Evening dew.
And the cramp would wring his youthful bones,
And would make him groan aloud;
And the doctor's art
Could not cure the heart,
While the conscience still
Was o'ercharg'd with ill;
And he dream'd of the pick-axe and shroud.
And why could Old BARNARD sweetly sleep,
Since so poor, and so old was he?
Because he could say
At the close of day,
"I have done no wrong
"To the weak or strong,
"And so, Heaven look kind on me!"
One night, the GRANDSON hied him forth,
To a MONK, that liv'd hard by;
"O ! Father !" said he,
"I am come to thee,
"For I'm sick of sin,
"And would fain begin
"To repent me, before I die!"
"I must pray for your Soul; the MONK replied,
"But will see you to-morrow, ere noon:
Then the MONK flew straight
To Old BARNARD'S gate,
And he bade him haste
O'er the dewy waste,
By the light of the waning Moon.
In the Monkish cell did old BARNARD wait,
And his GRANDSON went thither soon;
In a habit of grey
Ere the dawn of day,
With a cowl and cross,
On the sill of moss,
He knelt by the light of the Moon.
"O! shrive me, Father!" the GRANDSON cried,
"For the Devil is waiting for me!
"I have robb'd the poor,
"I have shut my door,
"And kept out the good
"When they wanted food,--
"And I come for my pardon, to Thee."
"Get home young Sinner," Old BARNARD said,
And your GRANDSIRE quickly see;
"Give him half your store ,
"For he's old, and poor,
"And avert each evil
"And cheat the Devil,--
By making him rich as thee ."
The SQUIRE obey'd; and Old BARNARD now
Is rescued from every evil:
For he fears no wrong,
From the weak or strong,
And the Squire can snore,
When the loud winds roar,
For he dreams no more of THE DEVIL!
Early Works - Midnight Journey With My Love
As the big red ball
from the sky does fall
and evening does call,
I take a journey with my love
on a starlit bay
with a view of the Milky Way.
Brushing our fingers through the water
and listen as someone serenades
while a million violins
seem to play in the wind
as I take a journey,
a midnight journey with my love.
The leaves from the trees
fall gently on the water
as the golden moon
throws a cascade of colour
upon the bay
as I take a journey,
a midnight journey with my love.
This I think was written in the late 1960s. I wrote many pieces then with a great number of rhymes in them.
The Missionary - Canto Eighth
The morn returns, and, reddening, seems to shed
One ray of glory on the patriot-dead.
Round the dark stone, the victor-chiefs behold!
Still on their locks the gouts of gore hang cold!
There stands the brave Caupolican, the pride
Of Chili, young Lautaro, by his side!
Near the grim circle, pendent from the wood,
Twelve hundred Spanish heads are dripping blood.
Shrill sound the notes of death: in festive dance,
The Indian maids with myrtle boughs advance;
The tinkling sea-shells on their ancles ring,
As, hailing thus the victor-youth, they sing:--
SONG OF INDIAN MAIDS.
Oh, shout for Lautaro, the young and the brave!
The arm of whose strength was uplifted to save,
When the steeds of the strangers came rushing amain,
And the ghosts of our fathers looked down on the slain!
'Twas eve, and the noise of the battle was o'er,
Five thousand brave warriors were cold in their gore;
When, in front, young Lautaro invincible stood,
And the horses and iron-men rolled in their blood!
As the snows of the mountain are swept by the blast,
The earthquake of death o'er the white men has passed;
Shout, Chili, in triumph! the battle is won,
And we dance round the heads that are black in the sun!
Lautaro, as if wrapt in thought profound,
Oft turned an anxious look inquiring round.
He is not here!--Say, does my father live?
Ere eager voices could an answer give,
With faltering footsteps and declining head,
And slowly by an aged Indian led,
Wounded and weak the mountain chief appears:
Live, live! Lautaro cried, with bursting tears,
And fell upon his neck, and, kissing, pressed,
With folding arms, his gray hairs to his breast.
Oh, live! I am thy son--thy long-lost child!
The warrior raised his look, and faintly smiled;
Chili, my country, is avenged! he cried:
My son!--then sunk upon a shield--and died.
Lautaro knelt beside him, as he bowed,
And kissed his bleeding breast, and wept aloud.
The sounds of sadness through the circle ran,
When thus, with lifted axe, Caupolican:
What, for our fathers, brothers, children, slain,
Canst thou repay, ruthless, inhuman Spain?
Here, on the scene with recent slaughter red,
To sooth the spirits of the brave who bled,
Raise we, to-day, the war-feast of the dead.
Bring forth the chief in bonds! Fathers, to-day
Devote we to our gods the noblest prey!
Lautaro turned his eyes, and, gazing round,
Beheld Valdivia and Anselmo bound!
One stood in arms, as with a stern despair,
His helmet cleft in twain, his temples bare,
Where streaks of blood that dropped upon his mail,
Served but to show his face more deadly pale:
His eyebrows, dark and resolute, he bent,
And stood, composed, to wait the dire event.
Still on the cross his looks Anselmo cast,
As if all thought of this vain world was passed,
And in a world of light, without a shade,
Ev'n now his meek and guileless spirit strayed.
Where stood the Spanish chief, a muttering sound
Rose, and each club was lifted from the ground;
When, starting from his father's corse, his sword
Waving before his once-triumphant lord,
Lautaro cried, My breast shall meet the blow:
But save--save him, to whom my life I owe!
Valdivia marked him with unmoving eye,
Then looked upon his bonds, nor deigned reply;
When Harratomac, stealing with slow pace,
And lifting high his iron-jagged mace,
Smote him to earth; a thousand voices rose,
Mingled with shouts and yells, So fall our foes!
Lautaro gave to tears a moment's space,
As black in death he marked Valdivia's face,
Then cried--Chiefs, friends, and thou, Caupolican,
Oh, spare this innocent and holy man!
He never sailed, rapacious, o'er the deep,
The gold of blood-polluted lands to heap;
He never gave the armed hosts his aid,
But meekly to the Mighty Spirit prayed,
That in all lands the sounds of woe might cease,
And brothers of the wide world dwell in peace!
The victor-youth saw generous sympathy
Already steal to every warrior's eye;
Then thus again: Oh, if this filial tear
Bear witness my own father was most dear;
If this uplifted arm, this bleeding steel
Speak for my country what I felt and feel;
If, at this hour, I meet her high applause,
While my heart beats still ardent in her cause;--
Hear, and forgive these tears that grateful flow,
Oh! hear, how much to this poor man I owe!
I was a child--when to my sire's abode,
In Chillan's vale, the armed horsemen rode:
Me, whilst my father cold and breathless lay,
Far off the crested soldiers bore away,
And for a captive sold. No friend was near,
To mark a young and orphan stranger's tear!
This humble man, with kind parental care,
Snatched me from slavery--saved from dark despair;
And as my years increased, protected, fed,
And breathed a father's blessings on my head.
A Spanish maid was with him: need I speak?
Behold, affection's tear still wets my cheek!
Years, as they passed, matured in ripening grace
Her form unfolding, and her beauteous face:
She heard my orphan tale; she loved to hear,
And sometimes for my fortunes dropped a tear.
I could have bowed to direst ills resigned,
But wept at looks so sweet, at words so kind.
Valdivia saw me, now in blooming age,
And claimed me from the father as his page;
The chief too cherished me, yea, saved my life,
When in Peru arose the civil strife.
Yet still remembering her I loved so well,
Oft I returned to the gray father's cell:
His voice instructed me; recalled my youth
From rude idolatry to heavenly truth:
Of this hereafter; he my darkling mind
Cleared, and from low and sensual thoughts refined.
Then first, with feelings new impressed, I strove
To hide the tear of tenderness and love:
Amid the fairest maidens of Peru,
My eyes, my heart, one only object knew:
I lived that object's love and faith to share;
He saw, and blessed us with a father's prayer.
Here, at Valdivia's last and stern command,
I came, a stranger in my native land!
Anselmo (so him call--now most in need--
And standing here in bonds, for whom I plead)
Came, by our chief so summoned, and for aid
To the Great Spirit of the Christians prayed:
Here as a son I loved him, but I left
A wife, a child, of my fond cares bereft,
Never to see again; for death awaits
My entrance now in Lima's jealous gates.
Caupolican, didst thou thy father love?
Did his last dying look affection move?
Pity this aged man; unbend thy brow:
He was my father--is my father, now!
Consenting mercy marks each warrior's mien.
But who is this, what pallid form is seen,
As crushed already by the fatal blow,
Bound, and with looks white as a wreath of snow,
Her hands upon her breast, scarce drawn her breath,
A Spanish woman knelt, expecting death,
Whilst, borne by a dark warrior at her side,
An infant shrunk from the red plumes, and cried!
Injured maid of Spain!
Me!--me! oh, take me to thine arms again!
She heard his voice, and, by the scene oppressed,
With one faint sigh fell senseless on his breast.
Caupolican, with warm emotion, cried,
Live, live! Lautaro and his beauteous bride!
Live, aged father!--and forthwith commands
A warrior to unbind Anselmo's hands.
She raised her head: his eyes first met her view,
As round Lautaro's neck her arms she threw,
Ah, no! she feebly spoke; it is not true!
It is some form of the distempered brain!
Then hid her face upon his breast again.
Dark flashing eyes, terrific, glared around:
Here, his brains scattered by the deadly wound,
The Spanish chief lay on the gory ground.
With lowering brows, and mace yet drooping blood,
And clotted hair, there Mariantu stood.
Anselmo here, sad, yet in sorrow mild,
Appeared: she cried, A blessing on your child,
And knelt, as slow revived her waking sense,
And then, with looks aghast, Oh bear us hence!
Now all the assembled chiefs, assenting, cried,
Live, live! Lautaro and his beauteous bride!
With eager arms Lautaro snatched his boy,
And kissed him in an agony of joy;
Then to Anselmo gave, who strove to speak,
And felt the tear first burning on his cheek:
The infant held his neck with strict embrace,
And kissed his pale emaciated face.
From the dread scene, wet with Valdivia's gore,
His wan and trembling charge Lautaro bore.
There was a bank, where slept the summer-light,
A small stream whispering went in mazes bright,
And stealing from the sea, the western wind
Waved the magnolias on the slope inclined:
The woodpecker, in glittering plumage green,
And echoing bill, beneath the boughs was seen;
And, arched with gay and pendent flowers above,
The floripondio its rich trellis wove.
Lautaro bent, with looks of love and joy,
O'er his yet trembling wife and beauteous boy:
Oh, by what miracle, beloved! say,
Hast thou escaped the perils of the way
From Lima, where our humble dwelling stood,
To these tumultuous scenes, this vale of blood?
Roused by his voice, as from the sleep of death,
Faint she replied, with slow-recovering breath,
Who shall express, when thou, best friend! wert gone,
How sunk my heart!--deserted and alone!
Would I were with thee! oft I sat and sighed,
When the pale moon shone on the silent tide--
At length resolved, I sought thee o'er the seas:
The brave bark cheer'ly went before the breeze,
That arms and soldiers to Valdivia bore,
From Lima bound to Chili's southern shore:
I seized the fair occasion--ocean smiled,
As to the sire I bore his lisping child.
The storm arose: with loud and sudden shock
The vessel sunk, disparting on a rock.
Some mariners, amidst the billows wild,
Scarce saved, in one small boat, me and my child.
What I have borne, a captive since that day--
Forgive these tears--I scarce have heart to say!
None pitied, save one gentle Indian maid--
A wild maid--of her looks I was afraid;
Her long black hair upon her shoulders fell,
And in her hand she bore a wreathed shell.
Lautaro for a moment turned aside,
And, Oh, my sister! with faint voice he cried.
Already free from sorrow and alarms,
I clasped in thought a husband in my arms,
When a dark warrior, stationed on the height,
Who held his solitary watch by night,
Before me stood, and lifting high his lance,
Exclaimed: No further, on thy life, advance!
Faint, wearied, sinking to the earth with dread,
Back to the dismal cave my steps he led.
Only at eve, within the craggy cleft,
Some water, and a cake of maize, were left.
The thirteenth sun unseen went down the sky;
When morning came, they brought me forth to die;
But hushed be every sigh, each boding fear,
Since all I sought on earth, and all I love, is here!
Her infant raised his hands, with glistening eye,
To reach a large and radiant butterfly,
That fluttered near his face; with looks of love,
And truth and tenderness, Lautaro strove
To calm her wounded heart; the holy sire,
His eyes faint-lighted with a transient fire,
Hung o'er them, and to Heaven his prayer addressed,
While, with uplifted hands, he wept and blest.
An aged Indian came, with feathers crowned,
And knelt before Lautaro on the ground.
What tidings, Indian?
When I led thy sire,
Whom late thou saw'st upon his shield expire,
Son of our Ulmen, didst thou mark no trace,
In these sad looks, of a remembered face?
Dost thou remember Izdabel? Look here!
It is thy father's hatchet and his spear.
Friend of my infant days, how I rejoice,
Lautaro cried, once more to hear that voice!
Life like a dream, since last we met, has fled--
Oh, my beloved sister, thou art dead!
I come to guide thee through untrodden ways,
To the lone valley, where thy father's days
Were passed; where every cave and every tree,
From morn to morn, reminded him of thee!
Lautaro cried: Here, faithful Indian, stay;
I have a last sad duty yet to pay.
A little while we part:--thou here remain.
He spake, and passed like lightning o'er the plain.
Ah, cease, Castilian maid, thy vain alarms!
See where he comes--his father in his arms!
Now lead, he cried. The Indian, sad and still,
Paced on from wood to vale, from vale to hill;
Her infant tired, and hushed a while to rest,
Smiled, in a dream, upon its mother's breast;
The pensive mother gray Anselmo led;
Behind, Lautaro bore his father dead.
Beneath the branching palms they slept at night;
The small birds waked them ere the morning light.
Before their path, in distant view, appeared
The mountain-smoke, that its dark column reared
O'er Andes' summits, in the pale blue sky,
Lifting their icy pinnacles so high.
Four days they onward held their eastern way;
On the fifth rising morn, before them lay
Chillan's lone glen, amid whose windings green,
The Warrior's loved and last abode was seen.
No smoke went up, a stillness reigned around,
Save where the waters fell with soothing sound,
Save where the Thenca sang so loud and clear,
And the bright humming-bird was spinning near.
Yet here all human tumults seemed to cease,
And sunshine rested on the spot of peace;
The myrtles bloomed as fragrant and as green
As if Lautaro scarce had left the scene;
And in his ear the falling waters' spray
Seemed swelling with the sounds of yesterday.
Where yonder rock the aged cedars shade,
There shall my father's bones in peace be laid.
Beneath the cedar's shade they dug the ground;
The small and sad communion gathered round.
Beside the grave stood aged Izdabel,
And broke the spear, and cried: Farewell, farewell!
Lautaro hid his face, and sighed Adieu!
As the stone hatchet in the grave he threw.
The little child that to its mother clung,
Stretched out its arm, then on her garment hung,
With sidelong looks, half-shrinking, half-amazed,
And dropped its flowers, unconscious, as it gazed.
And now Anselmo, his pale brow inclined,
The honoured relics, dust to dust, consigned
With Christian rites, and sung, on bending knee,
'Eternam pacem dona, Domine.'
Then rising up he closed the holy book;
And lifting in the beam his lighted look,
(The cross, with meekness, folded on his breast),
Here, too, he cried, my bones in peace shall rest!
Few years remain to me, and never more
Shall I behold, O Spain! thy distant shore!
Here lay my bones, that the same tree may wave
O'er the poor Christian's and the Indian's grave.
Oh, may it (when the sons of future days
Shall hear our tale and on the hillock gaze),
Oh, may it teach, that charity should bind,
Where'er they roam, the brothers of mankind!
The time shall come, when wildest tribes shall hear
Thy voice, O Christ! and drop the slaughtering spear.
Yet we condemn not him who bravely stood,
To seal his country's freedom with his blood;
And if, in after-times, a ruthless band
Of fell invaders sweep my native land,
May she, by Chili's stern example led,
Hurl back his thunder on the assailant's head;
Sustained by Freedom, strike the avenging blow,
And learn one virtue from her ancient foe!
The Troubadour. Canto 4
IT was a wild and untrain'd bower,
Enough to screen from April shower,
Or shelter from June's hotter hour,
Tapestried with starry jessamines,
The summer's gold and silver mines;
With a moss seat, and its turf set
With crowds of the white violet.
And close beside a fountain play'd,
Dim, cool, from its encircling shade;
And lemon trees grew round, as pale
As never yet to them the gale
Had brought a message from the sun
To say their summer task was done.
It was a very solitude
For love in its despairing mood,
With just enough of breath and bloom,
With just enough of calm and gloom,
To suit a heart where love has wrought
His wasting work, with saddest thought;
Where all its sickly fantasies
May call up suiting images:
With flowers like hopes that spring and fade
As only for a mockery made,
And shadows of the boughs that fall
Like sorrow drooping over all.
And LEILA , loveliest! can it be
Such destiny is made for thee?
Yes, it is written on thy brow
The all thy lip may not avow,--
All that in woman's heart can dwell,
Save by a blush unutterable.
Alas! that ever RAYMOND came
To light thy cheek and heart to flame,--
A hidden fire, but not the less
Consuming in its dark recess.
She had leant by his couch of pain,
When throbbing pulse and bursting vein
Fierce spoke the fever, when fate near
Rode on the tainted atmosphere;
And though that parch'd lip spoke alone
Of other love, in fondest tone,
And though the maiden knew that death
Might be upon his lightest breath,
Yet never by her lover's side
More fondly watch'd affianced bride,--
With pain or fear more anxious strove,
Than LEILA watch'd another's love.
But he was safe!--that very day
Farewell, it had been her's to say;
And he was gone to his own land,
To seek another maiden's hand.
Who that had look'd on her that morn,
Could dream of all her heart had borne;
Her cheek was red, but who could know
'Twas flushing with the strife below;--
Her eye was bright, but who could tell
It shone with tears she strove to quell;--
Her voice was gay, her step was light;
And, beaming, beautiful, and bright,
It was as if life could confer
Nothing but happiness on her.
Ah! who could think that all so fair
Was semblance, and but misery there.
'Tis strange with how much power and pride
The softness is of love allied;
How much of power to force the breast
To be in outward show at rest,--
How much of pride that never eye
May look upon its agony!
Ah! little will the lip reveal
Of all the burning heart can feel.
But this was past, and she was now
With clasped hands prest to her brow,
And head bow'd down upon her knee,
And heart-pulse throbbing audibly,
And tears that gush'd like autumn rain,
The more for that they gush'd in vain.
Oh! why should woman ever love,
Trusting to one false star above;
And fling her little chance away
Of sunshine for its treacherous ray.
At first ELVIRA had not sought
To break upon her lonely thought.
But it was now the vesper time,
And she return'd not at the chime
Of holy bells,--she knew the hour:--
At last they search'd her favourite bower;
Beside the fount they found the maid
On head bow'd down, as if she pray'd;
Her long black hair fell like a veil,
Making her pale brow yet more pale.
'Twas strange to look upon her face,
Then turn and see its shadowy trace
Within the fountain; one like stone,
So cold, so colourless, so lone,--
A statue nymph, placed there to show
How far the sculptor's art could go.
The other, and that too the shade,
In light and crimson warmth array'd;
For the red glow of day declining,
Was now upon the fountain shining,
And the shape in its mirror bright
Of sparkling waves caught warmth and light.
ELVIRA spoke not, though so near,
Her words lay mute in their own fear:
At last she whisper'd LEILA'S name,--
No answer from the maiden came.
She took one cold hand in her own,
Started, and it dropp'd lifeless down!
She gazed upon the fixed eye,
And read in it mortality.
And lingers yet that maiden's tale
A legend of the lemon vale:
They say that never from that hour
Has flourish'd there a single flower,--
The jasmine droop'd, the violets died,
Nothing grew by that fountain side,
Save the pale pining lemon trees,
And the dark weeping cypresses.--
And now when to the twilight star
The lover wakes his lone guitar,
Or maiden bids a song impart
All that is veil'd in her own heart,
The wild and mournful tale they tell
Of her who loved, alas! too well.--
And where was RAYMOND , where was he?
Borne homeward o'er the rapid sea,
While sunny days and favouring gales
Brought welcome speed to the white sails,--
With bended knee, and upraised hand,
He stood upon his native land,
With all that happiness can be
When resting on futurity.
On, on he went, and o'er the plain
He rode an armed knight again;
He urged his steed with hand and heel,
It bounded concious of the steel,
And never yet to RAYMOND'S eye
Spread such an earth, shone such a sky,
Blew such sweet breezes o'er his brow,
As those his native land had now.
He thought upon young EVA'S name,
And felt that she was still the same;
He thought on AMIRALD , his child
Had surely his dark cares beguiled;
He thought upon the welcome sweet
It would be his so soon to meet:
And never had the star of hope
Shone on a lovelier horoscope.
And evening shades were on the hour
When RAYMOND rode beneath the tower
Remember'd well, for ADELINE
Had there been his heart's summer queen.
Could this be it?--he knew the heath
Which, lake-like, spread its walls beneath,--
He saw the dark old chesnut wood
Which had for ages by it stood;
And but for these the place had been
As one that he had never seen.
The walls were rent, the gates were gone,
No red light from the watch tower shone.
He enter'd, and the hall was bare,
It show'd the spoiler had been there;
Even upon the very hearth
The green grass found a place of birth.
Oh, vanity! that the stone wall
May sooner than a blossom fall;
The tower in its strength may be
Laid low before the willow tree.
There stood the wood, subject to all
The autumn wind, the winter fall,--
There stood the castle which the rain
And wind had buffetted in vain,--
But one in ruins stood beside
The other green in its spring pride.
And RAYMOND paced the lonely hall
As if he feared his own footfall.
It is the very worst, the gloom
Of a deserted banquet-room,
To see the spider's web outvie
The torn and faded tapestry,--
To shudder at the cold damp air,
Then think how once were burning there
The incense vase with odour glowing,
The silver lamp its softness throwing
O'er cheeks as beautiful and bright
As roses bathed in summer light,--
How through the portals sweeping came
Proud cavalier and high-born dame,
With gems like stars 'mid raven curls,
And snow-white plumes and wreathed pearls--
Gold cups, whose lighted flames made dim
The sparkling stones around the brim;--
Soft voices answering to the lute,
The swelling harp, the sigh-waked flute,--
The glancing lightness of the dance,--
Then, starting sudden from thy trance,
Gaze round the lonely place and see
Its silence and obscurity:
Then commune with thine heart, and say
These are the foot-prints of decay,--
And I, even thus shall pass away.
And RAYMOND turn'd him to depart,
With darken'd brow and heavy heart.
Can outrage or can time remove
The sting, the scar of slighted love?
He could not look upon the scene
And not remember ADELINE ,
Fair queen of gone festivity,--
Oh, where was it, and where was she!
At distance short a village lay,
And thither RAYMOND took his way,
And in its hostel shelter found,
While the dark night was closing round.
It was a cheerful scene, the hearth
Was bright with wood-fire and with mirth,
And in the midst a harper bent
O'er his companion instrument:
'Twas an old man, his hair was grey,--
For winter tracks in snow its way,--
But yet his dark, keen eye was bright,
With somewhat of its youthful light;
Like one whose path of life had made
Its course through mingled sheen and shade,
But one whose buoyant spirit still
Pass'd lightly on through good or ill,--
One reckless if borne o'er the sea
In storm or in tranquillity;
The same to him, as if content
Were his peculiar element.
'Tis strange how the heart can create
Or colour from itself its fate;
We make ourselves our own distress,
We are ourselves our happiness.
And many a song and many a lay,
Had pass'd the cheerful hour away,
When one pray'd that he would relate,
His tale of the proud ladye's fate,--
The lady ADELINE ;--the name
Like lightning upon RAYMOND came!
And swept the harper o'er his chords
As that he paused for minstrel words,
Or stay'd till silence should prevail,
When thus the old man told the tale.
THE PROUD LADYE.
OH , what could the ladye's beauty match,
An it were not the ladye's pride;
An hundred knights from far and near
Woo'd at that ladye's side.
The rose of the summer slept on her cheek,
Its lily upon her breast,
And her eye shone forth like the glorious star
That rises the first in the west.
There were some that woo'd for her land and gold,
And some for her noble name,
And more that woo'd for her loveliness;
But her answer was still the same.
'There is a steep and lofty wall,
Where my warders trembling stand,
He who at speed shall ride round its height,
For him shall be my hand.'
Many turn'd away from the deed,
The hope of their wooing o'er;
But many a young knight mounted the steed
He never mounted more.
At last there came a youthful knight,
From a strange and far countrie,
The steed that he rode was white as the foam
Upon a stormy sea.
And she who had scorn'd the name of love,
Now bow'd before its might,
And the ladye grew meek as if disdain
Were not made for that stranger knight.
She sought at first to steal his soul
By dance, song, and festival;
At length on bended knee she pray'd
He would not ride the wall.
But gaily the young knight laugh'd at her fears,
And flung him on his steed,--
There was not a saint in the calendar
That she pray'd not to in her need.
She dared not raise her eyes to see
If heaven had granted her prayer,
Till she heard a light step bound to her side,--
The gallant knight stood there!
And took the ladye ADELINE
From her hair a jewell'd band,
But the knight repell'd the offer'd gift,
And turn'd from the offer'd hand.
And deemest thou that I dared this deed,
Ladye, for love of thee;
The honour that guides the soldier's lance
Is mistress enough for me.
Enough for me to ride the ring,
The victor's crown to wear;
But not in honour of the eyes
Of any ladye there.
I had a brother whom I lost
Through thy proud crueltie,
And far more was to me his love,
Than woman's love can be.
I came to triumph o'er the pride
Through which that brother fell,
I laugh to scorn thy love and thee,
And now, proud dame, farewell!
And from that hour the ladye pined,
For love was in her heart,
And on her slumber there came dreams
She could not bid depart.
Her eye lost all its starry light,
Her cheek grew wan and pale,
Till she hid her faded loveliness
Beneath the sacred veil.
And she cut off her long dark hair,
And bade the world farewell,
And she now dwells a veiled nun
In Saint Marie's cell.
AND what were RAYMOND'S dreams that night?
The morning's gift of crimson light
Waked not his sleep, for his pale cheek
Did not of aught like slumber speak;
Though not upon a morn like this
Should RAYMOND turn to aught but bliss.
To-day, when EVA will be prest,
Ere evening, to his throbbing breast,--
To-day, when all his own will be
That cheer'd his long captivity.
Care to the wind of heaven was flung
As the young knight to stirrup sprung.
He reach'd the castle; save one, all
Rush'd to his welcome in the hall.
He gazed, but there no EVA came,
Scarce his low voice named EVA'S name!
'Our EVA , she is far away
Amid the young, the fair, the gay.
At Thoulouse, now the bright resort
Of beauty and the Minstrel Court;
For this time it is hers to set
The victor's brow with violet.
Her father,--but you're worn and pale,--
Come, the wine cup will aid my tale.'
The greeting of the elder knight,
The cheerful board, the vintage bright,
Not all could chase from RAYMOND'S soul,
The cloud that o'er its gladness stole;
And soon, pretending toil, he sought
A solitude for lonely thought.--
'Tis strange how much of vanity
Almost unconciously will be
With our best feelings mix'd, and now
But that, what shadows RAYMOND'S brow.
He had deem'd a declining flower,
Pining in solitary bower,
He should find EVA , sad and lone,--
He sought the cage, the bird had flown,
With burnish'd plume, and careless wing,
A follower of the sunny Spring.
He pictured her the first of all
In masque, and dance, and festival,--
With cheek at its own praises burning,
And eyes but on adorers turning,
The lady of the tournament,
For whose bright sake the lance was sent;
While minstrels borrow'd from her name
The beauty which they paid by fame:
Beloved! not even his hot brain
Dared whisper,--loving too again.
But the next morn, and RAYMOND bent
His steps to that fair Parliament,
While pride and hasty anger strove
Against his memory and his love.
But leave we him awhile to rave
Against the faith which, like the wave,
By every grain of sand can be
Moved from its own tranquillity,
Till settled he that woman's mind
Was but a leaf before the wind,--
Left to remain, retreat, advance,
Without a destiny but chance.--
And where is EVA ? on her cheek
Is there aught that of love may speak?
Amid the music and perfume
That, mingling, fill yon stately room
A maiden sits, around her chair
Stand others who, with graceful care,
Bind Indian jewels in her hair.
'Tis EVA ! on one side a stand
Of dark wood from the Ethiop's land
Is cover'd with all gems that deck
A maiden's arm, or maiden's neck:
The diamond with its veins of light,
The sapphire like a summer night,
The ruby rich as it had won
A red gift from the setting sun,
And white pearls, such as might have been
A bridal offering for a queen.
On the side opposite were thrown,
Rainbow-like mix'd, a sparkling zone,
A snow-white veil, a purple vest
Embroider'd with a golden crest.
Before, the silver mirror's trace
Is the sweet shadow of her face,
Placed as appealing to her eyes
For the truth of the flatteries,
With which her gay attendants seek
To drive all sadness from her cheek.--
She heard them not; she reck'd not how
They wreath'd the bright hair o'er her brow,
Whate'er its sunny grace might be
There was an eye that would not see.
They told of words of royal praise,
They told of minstrel's moonlight lays,
Of youthful knights who swore to die
For her least smile, her lightest sigh.
But he was gone, her young, her brave,
Her heart was with him in the grave.
Wearied, for ill the heart may bear
Light words in which it has no share,
She turn'd to a pale maid, who, mute,
Dreaming of song leant o'er her lute;
And at her sign, that maiden's words
Came echo-like to its sweet chords,--
It was a low and silver tone,
And very sad, like sorrow's own;
She sang of love as it will be,
And has been in reality,--
Of fond hearts broken and betray'd,
Of roses opening but to fade,
Of wither'd hope, and wasted bloom,
Of the young warrior's early tomb;
And the while her dark mournful eye
Held with her words deep sympathy.
And EVA listen'd;--music's power
Is little felt in sunlit hour;
But hear its voice when hopes depart,
Like swallows, flying from the heart
On which the summer's late decline
Has set a sadness and a sign;
When friends whose commune once we sought
For every bosom wish and thought,
Have given in our hour of need
Such a support as gives the reed,--
When we have seen the green grass grow
Over what once was life below;
How deeply will the spirit feel
The lute, the song's sweet-voiced appeal;
And how the heart drink in their sighs
As echoes they from Paradise.
'Tis done: the last bright gem is set
In EVA'S sparkling coronet;
A soil on her rich veil appears,--
Unsuiting here--and is it tears!
Her father met her, he was proud
To lead his daughter through the crowd,
And see the many eyes that gazed,
Then mark the blush their gazing raised;
And for his sake, she forced away
The clouds that on her forehead lay,
The sob rose in her throat, 'twas all,
The tears swam, but they dared not fall;
And the pale lip put on a smile,
Alas it was too sad for guile!
A beautiful and festal day
Shone summer bright o'er the array,
And purple banners work'd in gold,
And azure pennons spread their fold,
O'er the rich awnings which were round
The galleries that hemm'd in the ground,
The green and open space, where met
The Minstrels of the Violet;
And two or three old stately trees
Soften'd the sun, skreen'd from the breeze.
And there came many a lovely dame,
With cheek of rose, and eye of flame;
And many a radiant arm was raised,
Whose rubies in the sunshine blazed;
And many a white veil swept the air
Only than what they hid less fair;
And placed at his own beauty's feet
Found many a youthful knight his seat,
And flung his jewell'd cap aside,
And wore his scarf with gayer pride,
And whisper'd soft and gallant things,
And bade the bards' imaginings
Whenever love awoke the tone,
With their sweet passion plead his own.
Beneath an azure canopy,
Blue as the sweep of April's sky,
Upon a snowy couch reclined
Like a white cloud before the wind,
Leant EVA :--there was many a tent
More royal, more magnificent,
With purple, gold, and crimson swelling,
But none so like a fairy dwelling:
One curtain bore her father's crest,
But summer flowers confined the rest;
And, at her feet, the ground was strew'd
With the June's rainbow multitude:
Beside her knelt a page, who bore
A vase with jewels sparkling o'er,
And in that shining vase was set
The prize,--THE GOLDEN VIOLET.
Alas for her whom ev'ry eye
Worshipp'd like a divinity!
Alas for her whose ear was fill'd
With flatteries like sweet woods distill'd!
Alas for EVA ! bloom and beam,
Music and mirth, came like a dream,
In which she mingled not,--apart
From all in heaviness of heart.
There were soft tales pour'd in her ear,
She look'd on many a cavalier,
Wander'd her eye round the glad scene,
It was as if they had not been;--
To ear, eye, heart, there only came
Her RAYMOND'S image, RAYMOND'S name!
There is a flower, a snow-white flower,
Fragile as if a morning shower
Would end its being, and the earth
Forget to what it gave a birth;
And it looks innocent and pale,
Slight as the least force could avail
To pluck it from its bed, and yet
Its root in depth and strength is set.
The July sun, the autumn rain,
Beat on its slender stalk in vain;--
Around it spreads, despite of care,
Till the whole garden is its share;
And other plants must fade and fall
Beneath its deep and deadly thrall.
This is love's emblem; it is nurst
In all unconciousness at first,
Too slight, too fair, to wake distrust;
No sign how that an after hour
Will rue and weep its fatal power.
'Twas thus with EVA ; she had dream'd
Of love as his first likeness seem'd,
A sweet thought o'er which she might brood,
The treasure of her solitude;
But tidings of young RAYMOND'S fate
Waken'd her from her dream too late,
Even her timid love could be
The ruling star of destiny.
And when a calmer mood prevail'd
O'er that whose joy her father hail'd,
Too well he saw how day by day
Some other emblem of decay
Came on her lip, and o'er her brow,
Which only she would disallow;
The cheek the lightest word could flush
Not with health's rose, but the heart's gush
Of feverish anxiousness; he caught
At the least hope, and vainly sought
By change, by pleasure, to dispell
Her sorrow from its secret cell.
In vain;--what can reanimate
A heart too early desolate?
It had been his, it could not save,
But it could follow to his grave.
The trumpets peal'd their latest round,
Stole from the flutes a softer sound,
Swell'd the harp to each master's hand,
As onward came the minstrel band!
And many a bright cheek grew more bright,
And many a dark eye flash'd with light,
As bent the minstrel o'er his lute,
And urged the lover's plaining suit,
Or swept a louder chord, and gave
Some glorious history of the brave.
At last from 'mid the crowd one came,
Unknown himself, unknown his name,
Both knight and bard,--the stranger wore
The garb of a young Troubadour;
His dark green mantle loosely flung,
Conceal'd the form o'er which it hung;
And his cap, with its shadowy plume,
Hid his face by its raven gloom.
Little did EVA'S careless eye
Dream that it wander'd RAYMOND by,
Though his first tone thrill'd every vein,
It only made her turn again,
Forget the scene, the song, and dwell
But on what memory felt too well.
THE SONG OF THE TROUBADOUR.
IN some valley low and lone,
Where I was the only one
Of the human dwellers there,
Would I dream away my care:
I'd forget how in the world
Snakes lay amid roses curl'd,
I'd forget my once distress
For young Love's insidiousness.
False foes, and yet falser friends,
Seeming but for their own ends;
Pleasures known but by their wings,
Yet remember'd by their stings;
Gold's decrease, and health's decay,
I will fly like these away,
To some lovely solitude,
Where the nightingale's young brood
Lives amid the shrine of leaves,
Which the wild rose round them weaves,
And my dwelling shall be made
Underneath the beech-tree's shade.
Twining ivy for the walls
Over which the jasmine falls,
Like a tapestry work'd with gold
And pearls around each emerald fold:
And my couches shall be set
With the purple violet,
And the white ones too, inside
Each a blush to suit a bride.
That flower which of all that live,
Lovers, should be those who give,
Primroses, for each appears
Pale and wet with many tears.
Alas tears and pallid check
All too often love bespeak!
There the gilderose should fling
Silver treasures to the spring,
And the bright laburnum's tresess
Seeking the young wind's caresses;
In the midst an azure lake,
Where no oar e'er dips to break
The clear bed of its blue rest,
Where the halcyon builds her nest;
And amid the sedges green,
And the water-flag's thick screen,
The solitary swan resides;
And the bright kingfisher hides,
With its colours rich like those
Which the bird of India shows.--
Once I thought that I would seek
Some fair creature, young and meek,
Whose most gentle smile would bless
My too utter loneliness;
But I then remember'd all
I had suffer'd from Love's thrall,
And I thought I 'd not again
Enter in the lion's den;
But, with my wrung heart now free,
So I thought I still will be.
Love is like a kingly dome,
Yet too often sorrow's home;
Sometimes smiles, but oftener tears,
Jealousies, and hopes, and fears,
A sweet liquor sparkling up,
But drank from a poison'd cup.
Would you guard your heart from care
Love must never enter there.
I will dwell with summer flowers,
Fit friends for the summer hours,
My companions honey-bees,
And birds, and buds, and leaves, and trees,
And the dew of the twilight,
And the thousand stars of night:
I will cherish that sweet gift,
The least earthly one now left
Of the gems of Paradise,
Poesy's delicious sighs.
Ill may that soft spirit bear
Crowds' or cities' healthless air;
Was not her sweet breathing meant
To echo the low murmur sent
By the flowers, and by the rill,
When all save the wind is still?
As if to tell of those fair things
High thoughts, pure imaginings,
That recall how bright, how fair,
In our other state we were.
And at last, when I have spent
A calm life in mild content,
May my spirit pass away
As the early leaves decay:
Spring shakes her gay coronal,
One sweet breath, and then they fall.
Only let the red-breast bring
Moss to strew me with, and sing,
One low mournful dirge to tell
I have bid the world farewell.
AND praise rang forth, the prize is won,
Young minstrel, thou hast equal none!
They led him to the lady's seat,
And knelt he down at EVA'S feet;
She bent his victor brow to deck,
And, fainting, sunk upon his neck!
The cap and plume aside were thrown,
'Twas as the grave restored its own,
And sent its victim forth to share
Light, life, and hope, and sun, and air.
That day the feast spread gay and bright
In honour of the youthful knight,
And it was EVA'S fairy hand
Met RAYMOND'S in the saraband,
And it was EVA'S ear that heard
Many a low and love-tuned word.--
And life seem'd as a sunny stream,
And hope awaked as from a dream;
But what has minstrel left to tell
When love has not an obstacle?
My lute is hush'd, and mute its chords,
The heart and happiness have no words!
MY tale is told, the glad sunshine
Fell over its commencing line,--
It was a morn in June, the sun
Was blessing all it shone upon,
The sky was clear as not a cloud
Were ever on its face allow'd;
The hill whereon I stood was made
A pleasant place of summer shade
By the green elms which seem'd as meant
To make the noon a shadowy tent.
I had been bent half sleep, half wake,
Dreaming those rainbow dreams that take
The spirit prisoner in their chain,
Too beautiful to be quite vain,--
Enough if they can soothe or cheer
One moment's pain or sorrow here.
And I was happy; hope and fame
Together on my visions came,
For memory had just dipp'd her wings
In honey dews, and sunlit springs,--
My brow burnt with its early wreath,
My soul had drank its first sweet breath
Of praise, and yet my cheek was flushing,
My heart with the full torrent gushing
Of feelings whose delighted mood
Was mingling joy and gratitude.
Scarce possible it seem'd to be
That such praise could be meant for me.--
Enured to coldness and neglect,
My spirit chill'd, my breathing check'd,
All that can crowd and crush the mind,
Friends even more than fate unkind,
And fortunes stamp'd with the pale sign
That marks and makes autumn's decline.
How could I stand in the sunshine,
And marvel not that it was mine?
One word, if ever happiness
In its most passionate excess
Offer'd its wine to human lip,
It has been mine that cup to sip.
I may not say with what deep dread
The words of my first song were said,
I may not say how much delight
Has been upon my minstrel flight.--
'Tis vain, and yet my heart would say
Somewhat to those who made my way
A path of light, with power to kill,
To check, to crush, but not the will.
Thanks for the gentleness that lent
My young lute such encouragement,
When scorn had turn'd my heart to stone,
Oh, their's be thanks and benison!
Back to the summer hill again,
When first I thought upon this strain,
And music rose upon the air,
I look'd below, and, gather'd there,
Rode soldiers with their breast-plates glancing,
Helmets and snow-white feathers dancing,
And trumpets at whose martial sound
Prouder the war horse trod the ground,
And waved their flag with many a name
Of battles and each battle fame.
And as I mark'd the gallant line
Pass through the green lane's serpentine,
And as I saw the boughs give way
Before the crimson pennons' play;
To other days my fancy went,
Call'd up the stirring tournament,
The dark-eyed maiden who for years
Kept the vows seal'd by parting tears,
While he who own'd her plighted hand
Was fighting in the Holy Land.
The youthful knight with his gay crest,
His ladye's scarf upon a breast
Whose truth was kept, come life, come death,--
Alas! has modern love such faith?
I thought how in the moon-lit hour
The minstrel hymn'd his maiden's bower,
His helm and sword changed for the lute
And one sweet song to urge his suit.
Floated around me moated hall,
And donjon keep, and frowning wall;
I saw the marshall'd hosts advance,
I gazed on banner, brand, and lance;
The murmur of a low song came
Bearing one only worshipp'd name;
And my next song, I said, should be
A tale of gone-by chivalry.
My task is done, the tale is told,
The lute drops from my wearied hold;
Spreads no green earth, no summer sky
To raise fresh visions for my eye,
The hour is dark, the winter rain
Beats cold and harsh against the pane,
Where, spendthrift like, the branches twine,
Worn, knotted, of a leafless vine;
And the wind howls in gusts around,
As omens were in each drear sound,--
Omens that bear upon their breath
Tidings of sorrow, pain, and death.
Thus should it be,--I could not bear
The breath of flowers, the sunny air
Upon that ending page should be
Which ONE will never, never see.
Yet who will love it like that one,
Who cherish as he would have done,
My father! albeit but in vain
This clasping of a broken chain,
And albeit of all vainest things
That haunt with sad imaginings,
None has the sting of memory;
Yet still my spirit turns to thee,
Despite of long and lone regret,
Rejoicing it cannot forget.
I would not lose the lightest thought
With one remembrance of thine fraught,--
And my heart said no name, but thine
Should be on this last page of mine.
My father, though no more, thine ear
Censure or praise of mine can hear,
It soothes me to embalm thy name
With all my hope, my pride, my fame,
Treasures of Fancy's fairy hall,--
Thy name most precious far of all.
My page is wet with bitter tears,--
I cannot but think of those years
When happiness and I would wait
On summer evenings by the gate,
And keep o'er the green fields our watch
The first sound of thy step to catch,
Then run for the first kiss, and word,--
An unkind one I never heard.
But these are pleasant memories,
And later years have none like these:
They came with griefs, and pains, and cares,
All that the heart breaks while it bears;
Desolate as I feel alone
I should not weep that thou art gone.
Alas! the tears that still will fall
Are selfish in their fond recall;--
If ever tears could win from Heaven
A loved one, and yet be forgiven,
Mine surely might; I may not tell
The agony of my farewell!
A single tear I had not shed,--
'Twas the first time I mourn'd the dead:--
It was my heaviest loss, my worst,--
My father!--and was thine the first!
Farewell! in my heart is a spot
Where other griefs and cares come not,
Hallow'd by love, by memory kept,
And deeply honour'd, deeply wept.
My own dead father, time may bring
Chance, change, upon his rainbow-wing,
But never will thy name depart
The household god of thy child's heart,
Until thy orphan girl may share
The grave where her best feelings are.
Never, dear father, love can be,
Like the dear love I had for thee!
The Bride's Prelude
“Sister,” said busy Amelotte
To listless Aloÿse;
“Along your wedding-road the wheat
Bends as to hear your horse's feet,
And the noonday stands still for heat.”
Amelotte laughed into the air
With eyes that sought the sun:
But where the walls in long brocade
Were screened, as one who is afraid
Sat Aloÿse within the shade.
And even in shade was gleam enough
To shut out full repose
From the bride's 'tiring-chamber, which
Was like the inner altar-niche
Whose dimness worship has made rich.
Within the window's heaped recess
The light was counterchanged
In blent reflexes manifold
From perfume-caskets of wrought gold
And gems the bride's hair could not hold,
All thrust together: and with these
A slim-curved lute, which now,
At Amelotte's sudden passing there,
Was swept in somewise unaware,
And shook to music the close air.
Against the haloed lattice-panes
The bridesmaid sunned her breast;
Then to the glass turned tall and free,
And braced and shifted daintily
Her loin-belt through her côte-hardie.
The belt was silver, and the clasp
Of lozenged arm-bearings;
A world of mirrored tints minute
The rippling sunshine wrought into 't,
That flushed her hand and warmed her foot.
At least an hour had Aloÿse—
Her jewels in her hair—
Her white gown, as became a bride,
Quartered in silver at each side—
Sat thus aloof, as if to hide.
Over her bosom, that lay still,
The vest was rich in grain,
With close pearls wholly overset:
Around her throat the fastenings met
Of chevesayle and mantelet.
Her arms were laid along her lap
With the hands open: life
Itself did seem at fault in her:
Beneath the drooping brows, the stir
Of thought made noonday heavier.
Long sat she silent; and then raised
Her head, with such a gasp
As while she summoned breath to speak
Fanned high that furnace in the cheek
But sucked the heart-pulse cold and weak.
(Oh gather round her now, all ye
Past seasons of her fear,—
Sick springs, and summers deadly cold!
To flight your hovering wings unfold,
For now your secret shall be told.
Ye many sunlights, barbed with darts
Of dread detecting flame,—
Gaunt moonlights that like sentinels
Went past with iron clank of bells,—
Draw round and render up your spells!)
“Sister,” said Aloÿse, “I had
A thing to tell thee of
Long since, and could not. But do thou
Kneel first in prayer awhile, and bow
Thine heart, and I will tell thee now.”
Amelotte wondered with her eyes;
But her heart said in her:
“Dear Aloÿse would have me pray
Because the awe she feels to-day
Must need more prayers than she can say.”
So Amelotte put by the folds
That covered up her feet,
And knelt,—beyond the arras'd gloom
And the hot window's dull perfume,—
Where day was stillest in the room.
“Queen Mary, hear,” she said, “and say
To Jesus the Lord Christ,
This bride's new joy, which He confers,
New joy to many ministers,
And many griefs are bound in hers.”
The bride turned in her chair, and hid
Her face against the back,
And took her pearl-girt elbows in
Her hands, and could not yet begin,
But shuddering, uttered, “Urscelyn!”
Most weak she was; for as she pressed
Her hand against her throat,
Along the arras she let trail
Her face, as if all heart did fail,
And sat with shut eyes, dumb and pale.
Amelotte still was on her knees
As she had kneeled to pray.
Deeming her sister swooned, she thought,
At first, some succour to have brought;
But Aloÿse rocked, as one distraught.
She would have pushed the lattice wide
To gain what breeze might be;
But marking that no leaf once beat
The outside casement, it seemed meet
Not to bring in more scent and heat.
So she said only: “Aloÿse,
Sister, when happened it
At any time that the bride came
To ill, or spoke in fear of shame,
When speaking first the bridegroom's name?”
A bird had out its song and ceased
Ere the bride spoke. At length
She said: “The name is as the thing:—
Sin hath no second christening,
And shame is all that shame can bring.
“In divers places many an while
I would have told thee this;
But faintness took me, or a fit
Like fever. God would not permit
That I should change thine eyes with it.
“Yet once I spoke, hadst thou but heard:—
That time we wandered out
All the sun's hours, but missed our way
When evening darkened, and so lay
The whole night covered up in hay.
“At last my face was hidden: so,
Having God's hint, I paused
Not long; but drew myself more near
Where thou wast laid, and shook off fear,
And whispered quick into thine ear
“Something of the whole tale. At first
I lay and bit my hair
For the sore silence thou didst keep:
Till, as thy breath came long and deep,
I knew that thou hadst been asleep.
“The moon was covered, but the stars
Lasted till morning broke.
Awake, thou told'st me that thy dream
Had been of me,—that all did seem
At jar,—but that it was a dream.
“I knew God's hand and might not speak.
After that night I kept
Silence and let the record swell:
Till now there is much more to tell
Which must be told out ill or well.”
She paused then, weary, with dry lips
Apart. From the outside
By fits there boomed a dull report
From where i' the hanging tennis-court
The bridegroom's retinue made sport.
The room lay still in dusty glare,
Having no sound through it
Except the chirp of a caged bird
That came and ceased: and if she stirred,
Amelotte's raiment could be heard.
Quoth Amelotte: “The night this chanced
Was a late summer night
Last year! What secret, for Christ's love,
Keep'st thou since then? Mary above!
What thing is this thou speakest of?
“Mary and Christ! Lest when 'tis told
I should be prone to wrath,—
This prayer beforehand! How she errs
Soe'er, take count of grief like hers,
Whereof the days are turned to years!”
She bowed her neck, and having said,
Kept on her knees to hear;
And then, because strained thought demands
Quiet before it understands,
Darkened her eyesight with her hands.
So when at last her sister spoke,
She did not see the pain
O' the mouth nor the ashamèd eyes,
But marked the breath that came in sighs
And the half-pausing for replies.
This was the bride's sad prelude-strain:—
“I' the convent where a girl
I dwelt till near my womanhood,
I had but preachings of the rood
And Aves told in solitude
“To spend my heart on: and my hand
Had but the weary skill
To eke out upon silken cloth
Christ's visage, or the long bright growth
Of Mary's hair, or Satan wroth.
“So when at last I went, and thou,
A child not known before,
Didst come to take the place I left,—
My limbs, after such lifelong theft
Of life, could be but little deft
“In all that ministers delight
To noble women: I
Had learned no word of youth's discourse,
Nor gazed on games of warriors,
Nor trained a hound, nor ruled a horse.
“Besides, the daily life i' the sun
Made me at first hold back.
To thee this came at once; to me
It crept with pauses timidly;
I am not blithe and strong like thee.
“Yet my feet liked the dances well,
The songs went to my voice,
The music made me shake and weep;
And often, all night long, my sleep
Gave dreams I had been fain to keep.
“But though I loved not holy things,
To hear them scorned brought pain,—
They were my childhood; and these dames
Were merely perjured in saints' names
And fixed upon saints' days for games.
“And sometimes when my father rode
To hunt with his loud friends,
I dared not bring him to be quaff'd,
As my wont was, his stirrup-draught,
Because they jested so and laughed.
“At last one day my brothers said,
‘The girl must not grow thus,—
Bring her a jennet,—she shall ride.’
They helped my mounting, and I tried
To laugh with them and keep their side,
“But brakes were rough and bents were steep
Upon our path that day:
My palfrey threw me; and I went
Upon men's shoulders home, sore spent,
While the chase followed up the scent.
“Our shrift-father (and he alone
Of all the household there
Had skill in leechcraft) was away
When I reached home. I tossed, and lay
Sullen with anguish the whole day.
“For the day passed ere some one brought
To mind that in the hunt
Rode a young lord she named, long bred
Among the priests, whose art (she said)
Might chance to stand me in much stead.
“I bade them seek and summon him:
But long ere this, the chase
Had scattered, and he was not found.
I lay in the same weary stound,
Therefore, until the night came round.
“It was dead night and near on twelve
When the horse-tramp at length
Beat up the echoes of the court:
By then, my feverish breath was short
With pain the sense could scarce support.
“My fond nurse sitting near my feet
Rose softly,—her lamp's flame
Held in her hand, lest it should make
My heated lids, in passing, ache;
And she passed softly, for my sake.
“Returning soon, she brought the youth
They spoke of. Meek he seemed,
But good knights held him of stout heart.
He was akin to us in part,
And bore our shield, but barred athwart.
“I now remembered to have seen
His face, and heard him praised
For letter-lore and medicine,
Seeing his youth was nurtured in
Priests' knowledge, as mine own had been.”
The bride's voice did not weaken here,
Yet by her sudden pause
She seemed to look for questioning;
Or else (small need though) 'twas to bring
Well to her mind the bygone thing.
Her thought, long stagnant, stirred by speech,
Gave her a sick recoil;
As, dip thy fingers through the green
That masks a pool,—where they have been
The naked depth is black between.
Amelotte kept her knees; her face
Was shut within her hands,
As it had been throughout the tale;
Her forehead's whiteness might avail
Nothing to say if she were pale.
Although the lattice had dropped loose,
There was no wind; the heat
Being so at rest that Amelotte
Heard far beneath the plunge and float
Of a hound swimming in the moat.
Some minutes since, two rooks had toiled
Home to the nests that crowned
Ancestral ash-trees. Through the glare
Beating again, they seemed to tear
With that thick caw the woof o' the air.
But else, 'twas at the dead of noon
Absolute silence; all,
From the raised bridge and guarded sconce
To green-clad places of pleasaùnce
Where the long lake was white with swans.
Amelotte spoke not any word
Nor moved she once; but felt
Between her hands in narrow space
Her own hot breath upon her face,
And kept in silence the same place.
Aloÿse did not hear at all
The sounds without. She heard
The inward voice (past help obey'd)
Which might not slacken nor be stay'd,
But urged her till the whole were said.
Therefore she spoke again: “That night
But little could be done:
My foot, held in my nurse's hands,
He swathed up heedfully in bands,
And for my rest gave close commands.
“I slept till noon, but an ill sleep
Of dreams: through all that day
My side was stiff and caught the breath;
Next day, such pain as sickeneth
Took me, and I was nigh to death.
“Life strove, Death claimed me for his own
Through days and nights: but now
'Twas the good father tended me,
Having returned. Still, I did see
The youth I spoke of constantly.
“For he would with my brothers come
To stay beside my couch,
And fix my eyes against his own,
Noting my pulse; or else alone,
To sit at gaze while I made moan.
“(Some nights I knew he kept the watch,
Because my women laid
The rushes thick for his steel shoes.)
Through many days this pain did use
The life God would not let me lose.
“At length, with my good nurse to aid,
I could walk forth again:
And still, as one who broods or grieves,
At noons I'd meet him and at eves,
With idle feet that drove the leaves.
“The day when I first walked alone
Was thinned in grass and leaf,
And yet a goodly day o' the year:
The last bird's cry upon mine ear
Left my brain weak, it was so clear.
“The tears were sharp within mine eyes.
I sat down, being glad,
And wept; but stayed the sudden flow
Anon, for footsteps that fell slow;
'Twas that youth passed me, bowing low.
“He passed me without speech; but when,
At least an hour gone by,
Rethreading the same covert, he
Saw I was still beneath the tree,
He spoke and sat him down with me.
“Little we said; nor one heart heard
Even what was said within;
And, faltering some farewell, I soon
Rose up; but then i' the autumn noon
My feeble brain whirled like a swoon.
“He made me sit. ‘Cousin, I grieve
Your sickness stays by you.’
‘I would,’ said I, ‘that you did err
So grieving. I am wearier
Than death, of the sickening dying year.’
“He answered: ‘If your weariness
Accepts a remedy,
I hold one and can give it you.’
I gazed: ‘What ministers thereto,
Be sure,’ I said, “that I will do.’
“He went on quickly:—'Twas a cure
He had not ever named
Unto our kin lest they should stint
Their favour, for some foolish hint
Of wizardry or magic in't:
“But that if he were let to come
Within my bower that night,
(My women still attending me,
He said, while he remain'd there,) he
Could teach me the cure privily.
“I bade him come that night. He came;
But little in his speech
Was cure or sickness spoken of,
Only a passionate fierce love
That clamoured upon God above.
“My women wondered, leaning close
Aloof. At mine own heart
I think great wonder was not stirr'd.
I dared not listen, yet I heard
His tangled speech, word within word.
“He craved my pardon first,—all else
Wild tumult. In the end
He remained silent at my feet
Fumbling the rushes. Strange quick heat
Made all the blood of my life meet.
“And lo! I loved him. I but said,
If he would leave me then,
His hope some future might forecast.
His hot lips stung my hand: at last
My damsels led him forth in haste.”
The bride took breath to pause; and turned
Her gaze where Amelotte
Knelt,—the gold hair upon her back
Quite still in all its threads,—the track
Of her still shadow sharp and black.
That listening without sight had grown
To stealthy dread; and now
That the one sound she had to mark
Left her alone too, she was stark
Afraid, as children in the dark.
Her fingers felt her temples beat;
Then came that brain-sickness
Which thinks to scream, and murmureth;
And pent between her hands, the breath
Was damp against her face like death.
Her arms both fell at once; but when
She gasped upon the light,
Her sense returned. She would have pray'd
To change whatever words still stay'd
Behind, but felt there was no aid.
So she rose up, and having gone
Within the window's arch
Once more, she sat there, all intent
On torturing doubts, and once more bent
To hear, in mute bewilderment.
But Aloÿse still paused. Thereon
Amelotte gathered voice
In somewise from the torpid fear
Coiled round her spirit. Low but clear
She said: “Speak, sister; for I hear.”
But Aloÿse threw up her neck
And called the name of God:—
“Judge, God, 'twixt her and me to-day!
She knows how hard this is to say,
Yet will not have one word away.”
Her sister was quite silent. Then
Afresh:—“Not she, dear Lord!
Thou be my judge, on Thee I call!”
She ceased,—her forehead smote the wall:
“Is there a God,” she said “at all”?
Amelotte shuddered at the soul,
But did not speak. The pause
Was long this time. At length the bride
Pressed her hand hard against her side,
And trembling between shame and pride
Said by fierce effort: “From that night
Often at nights we met:
That night, his passion could but rave:
The next, what grace his lips did crave
I knew not, but I know I gave.”
Where Amelotte was sitting, all
The light and warmth of day
Were so upon her without shade
That the thing seemed by sunshine made
Most foul and wanton to be said.
She would have questioned more, and known
The whole truth at its worst,
But held her silent, in mere shame
Of day. 'Twas only these words came:—
“Sister, thou hast not said his name.”
“Sister,” quoth Aloÿse, “thou know'st
His name. I said that he
Was in a manner of our kin.
Waiting the title he might win,
They called him the Lord Urscelyn.”
The bridegroom's name, to Amelotte
Thus in this dreadful history,—
Was dreadful to her; as might be
Thine own voice speaking unto thee.
The day's mid-hour was almost full;
Upon the dial-plate
The angel's sword stood near at One.
An hour's remaining yet; the sun
Will not decrease till all be done.
Through the bride's lattice there crept in
At whiles (from where the train
Of minstrels, till the marriage-call,
Loitered at windows of the wall,)
Stray lute-notes, sweet and musical.
They clung in the green growths and moss
Against the outside stone;
Low like dirge-wail or requiem
They murmured, lost 'twixt leaf and stem:
There was no wind to carry them.
Amelotte gathered herself back
Into the wide recess
That the sun flooded: it o'erspread
Like flame the hair upon her head
And fringed her face with burning red.
All things seemed shaken and at change:
A silent place o' the hills
She knew, into her spirit came:
Within herself she said its name
And wondered was it still the same.
The bride (whom silence goaded) now
Said strongly,—her despair
By stubborn will kept underneath:—
“Sister, 'twere well thou didst not breathe
That curse of thine. Give me my wreath.”
“Sister,” said Amelotte, “abide
In peace. Be God thy judge,
As thou hast said—not I. For me,
I merely will thank God that he
Whom thou hast lovèd loveth thee.”
Then Aloÿse lay back, and laughed
With wan lips bitterly,
Saying, “Nay, thank thou God for this,—
That never any soul like his
Shall have its portion where love is.”
Weary of wonder, Amelotte
Sat silent: she would ask
No more, though all was unexplained:
She was too weak; the ache still pained
Her eyes,—her forehead's pulse remained.
The silence lengthened. Aloÿse
Was fain to turn her face
Apart, to where the arras told
Two Testaments, the New and Old,
In shapes and meanings manifold.
One solace that was gained, she hid.
Her sister, from whose curse
Her heart recoiled, had blessed instead:
Yet would not her pride have it said
How much the blessing comforted.
Only, on looking round again
After some while, the face
Which from the arras turned away
Was more at peace and less at bay
With shame than it had been that day.
She spoke right on, as if no pause
Had come between her speech:
“That year from warmth grew bleak and pass'd,”
She said; “the days from first to last
How slow,—woe's me! the nights how fast!
“From first to last it was not known:
My nurse, and of my train
Some four or five, alone could tell
What terror kept inscrutable:
There was good need to guard it well.
“Not the guilt only made the shame,
But he was without land
And born amiss. He had but come
To train his youth here at our home,
And, being man, depart therefrom.
‘Of the whole time each single day
Brought fear and great unrest:
It seemed that all would not avail
Some once,—that my close watch would fail,
And some sign, somehow, tell the tale.
“The noble maidens that I knew,
My fellows, oftentimes
Midway in talk or sport, would look
A wonder which my fears mistook,
To see how I turned faint and shook.
“They had a game of cards, where each
By painted arms might find
What knight she should be given to.
Ever with trembling hand I threw
Lest I should learn the thing I knew.
“And once it came. And Aure d'Honvaulx
Held up the bended shield
And laughed: ‘Gramercy for our share!—
If to our bridal we but fare
To smutch the blazon that we bear!’
“But proud Denise de Villenbois
Kissed me, and gave her wench
The card, and said: ‘If in these bowers
You women play at paramours,
You must not mix your game with ours.’
“And one upcast it from her hand:
‘Lo! see how high he'll soar!’
But then their laugh was bitterest;
For the wind veered at fate's behest
And blew it back into my breast.
“Oh! if I met him in the day
Or heard his voice,—at meals
Or at the Mass or through the hall,—
A look turned towards me would appal
My heart by seeming to know all.
“Yet I grew curious of my shame,
And sometimes in the church,
On hearing such a sin rebuked,
Have held my girdle-glass unhooked
To see how such a woman looked.
“But if at night he did not come,
I lay all deadly cold
To think they might have smitten sore
And slain him, and as the night wore,
His corpse be lying at my door.
“And entering or going forth,
Our proud shield o'er the gate
Seemed to arraign my shrinking eyes.
With tremors and unspoken lies
The year went past me in this wise.
“About the spring of the next year
An ailing fell on me;
(I had been stronger till the spring
'Twas mine old sickness gathering,
I thought; but 'twas another thing.
“I had such yearnings as brought tears,
And a wan dizziness:
Motion, like feeling, grew intense;
Sight was a haunting evidence
And sound a pang that snatched the sense.
“It now was hard on that great ill
Which lost our wealth from us
And all our lands. Accursed be
The peevish fools of liberty
Who will not let themselves be free!
“The Prince was fled into the west:
A price was on his blood,
But he was safe. To us his friends
He left that ruin which attends
The strife against God's secret ends.
“The league dropped all asunder,—lord,
Gentle and serf. Our house
Was marked to fall. And a day came
When half the wealth that propped our name
Went from us in a wind of flame.
“Six hours I lay upon the wall
And saw it burn. But when
It clogged the day in a black bed
Of louring vapour, I was led
Down to the postern, and we fled.
“But ere we fled, there was a voice
Which I heard speak, and say
That many of our friends, to shun
Our fate, had left us and were gone,
And that Lord Urscelyn was one.
“That name, as was its wont, made sight
And hearing whirl. I gave
No heed but only to the name:
I held my senses, dreading them,
And was at strife to look the same.
“We rode and rode. As the speed grew,
The growth of some vague curse
Swarmed in my brain. It seemed to me
Numbed by the swiftness, but would be—
That still—clear knowledge certainly.
“Night lapsed. At dawn the sea was there
And the sea-wind: afar
The ravening surge was hoarse and loud,
And underneath the dim dawn-cloud
Each stalking wave shook like a shroud.
“From my drawn litter I looked out
Unto the swarthy sea,
And knew. That voice, which late had cross'd
Mine ears, seemed with the foam uptoss'd:
I knew that Urscelyn was lost.
“Then I spake all: I turned on one
And on the other, and spake:
My curse laughed in me to behold
Their eyes: I sat up, stricken cold,
Mad of my voice till all was told.
“Oh! of my brothers, Hugues was mute,
And Gilles was wild and loud,
And Raoul strained abroad his face,
As if his gnashing wrath could trace
Even there the prey that it must chase.
“And round me murmured all our train,
Hoarse as the hoarse-tongued sea;
Till Hugues from silence louring woke,
And cried: ‘What ails the foolish folk?
Know ye not frenzy's lightning-stroke?’
“But my stern father came to them
And quelled them with his look,
Silent and deadly pale. Anon
I knew that we were hastening on,
My litter closed and the light gone.
“And I remember all that day
The barren bitter wind
Without, and the sea's moaning there
That I first moaned with unaware,
And when I knew, shook down my hair.
“Few followed us or faced our flight:
Once only I could hear,
Far in the front, loud scornful words,
And cries I knew of hostile lords,
And crash of spears and grind of swords.
“It was soon ended. On that day
Before the light had changed
We reached our refuge; miles of rock
Bulwarked for war; whose strength might mock
Sky, sea, or man, to storm or shock.
“Listless and feebly conscious, I
Lay far within the night
Awake. The many pains incurred
That day,—the whole, said, seen or heard,—
Stayed by in me as things deferred.
“Not long. At dawn I slept. In dreams
All was passed through afresh
From end to end. As the morn heaved
Towards noon, I, waking sore aggrieved,
That I might die, cursed God, and lived.
“Many days went, and I saw none
Except my women. They
Calmed their wan faces, loving me;
And when they wept, lest I should see,
Would chaunt a desolate melody.
“Panic unthreatened shook my blood
Each sunset, all the slow
Subsiding of the turbid light.
I would rise, sister, as I might,
And bathe my forehead through the night
“To elude madness. The stark walls
Made chill the mirk: and when
We oped our curtains, to resume
Sun-sickness after long sick gloom,
The withering sea-wind walked the room.
“Through the gaunt windows the great gales
Bore in the tattered clumps
Of waif-weed and the tamarisk-boughs;
And sea-mews, 'mid the storm's carouse,
Were flung, wild-clamouring, in the house.
“My hounds I had not; and my hawk,
Which they had saved for me,
Wanting the sun and rain to beat
His wings, soon lay with gathered feet;
And my flowers faded, lacking heat.
“Such still were griefs: for grief was still
A separate sense, untouched
Of that despair which had become
My life. Great anguish could benumb
My soul,—my heart was quarrelsome.
“Time crept. Upon a day at length
My kinsfolk sat with me:
That which they asked was bare and plain:
I answered: the whole bitter strain
Was again said, and heard again.
“Fierce Raoul snatched his sword, and turned
The point against my breast.
I bared it, smiling: ‘To the heart
Strike home,’ I said; ‘another dart
Wreaks hourly there a deadlier smart.’
“'Twas then my sire struck down the sword,
And said with shaken lips:
‘She from whom all of you receive
Your life, so smiled; and I forgive.’
Thus, for my mother's sake, I live.
“But I, a mother even as she,
Turned shuddering to the wall:
For I said: ‘Great God! and what would I do,
When to the sword, with the thing I knew,
I offered not one life but two!’
“Then I fell back from them, and lay
Outwearied. My tired sense
Soon filmed and settled, and like stone
I slept; till something made me moan,
And I woke up at night alone.
“I woke at midnight, cold and dazed;
Because I found myself
Seated upright, with bosom bare,
Upon my bed, combing my hair,
Ready to go, I knew not where.
“It dawned light day,—the last of those
Long months of longing days.
That noon, the change was wrought on me
In somewise,—nought to hear or see,—
Only a trance and agony.”
The bride's voice failed her, from no will
To pause. The bridesmaid leaned,
And where the window-panes were white,
Looked for the day: she knew not quite
If there were either day or night.
It seemed to Aloÿse that the whole
Day's weight lay back on her
Like lead. The hours that did remain
Beat their dry wings upon her brain
Once in mid-flight, and passed again.
There hung a cage of burnt perfumes
In the recess: but these,
For some hours, weak against the sun,
Had simmered in white ash. From One
The second quarter was begun.
They had not heard the stroke. The air,
Though altered with no wind,
Breathed now by pauses, so to say:
Each breath was time that went away,—
Each pause a minute of the day.
I' the almonry, the almoner,
Hard by, had just dispensed
Church-dole and march-dole. High and wide
Now rose the shout of thanks, which cried
On God that He should bless the bride.
Its echo thrilled within their feet,
And in the furthest rooms
Was heard, where maidens flushed and gay
Wove with stooped necks the wreaths alway
Fair for the virgin's marriage-day.
The mother leaned along, in thought
After her child; till tears,
Bitter, not like a wedded girl's,
Fell down her breast along her curls,
And ran in the close work of pearls.
The speech ached at her heart. She said:
“Sweet Mary, do thou plead
This hour with thy most blessed Son
To let these shameful words atone,
That I may die when I have done.”
The thought ached at her soul. Yet now:—
“Itself—that life” (she said,)
“Out of my weary life—when sense
Unclosed, was gone. What evil men's
Most evil hands had borne it thence
“I knew, and cursed them. Still in sleep
I have my child; and pray
To know if it indeed appear
As in my dream's perpetual sphere,
That I—death reached—may seek it there.
“Sleeping, I wept; though until dark
A fever dried mine eyes
Kept open; save when a tear might
Be forced from the mere ache of sight.
And I nursed hatred day and night.
“Aye, and I sought revenge by spells;
And vainly many a time
Have laid my face into the lap
Of a wise woman, and heard clap
Her thunder, the fiend's juggling trap.
“At length I feared to curse them, lest
From evil lips the curse
Should be a blessing; and would sit
Rocking myself and stifling it
With babbled jargon of no wit.
“But this was not at first: the days
And weeks made frenzied months
Before this came. My curses, pil'd
Then with each hour unreconcil'd,
Still wait for those who took my child.”
She stopped, grown fainter. “Amelotte,
Surely,” she said, “this sun
Sheds judgment-fire from the fierce south:
It does not let me breathe: the drouth
Is like sand spread within my mouth.”
The bridesmaid rose. I' the outer glare
Gleamed her pale cheeks, and eyes
Sore troubled; and aweary weigh'd
Her brows just lifted out of shade;
And the light jarred within her head.
'Mid flowers fair-heaped there stood a bowl
With water. She therein
Through eddying bubbles slid a cup,
And offered it, being risen up,
Close to her sister's mouth, to sup.
The freshness dwelt upon her sense,
Yet did not the bride drink;
But she dipped in her hand anon
And cooled her temples; and all wan
With lids that held their ache, went on.
“Through those dark watches of my woe,
Time, an ill plant, had waxed
Apace. That year was finished. Dumb
And blind, life's wheel with earth's had come
Whirled round: and we might seek our home.
“Our wealth was rendered back, with wealth
Snatched from our foes. The house
Had more than its old strength and fame:
But still 'neath the fair outward claim
I rankled,—a fierce core of shame.
“It chilled me from their eyes and lips
Upon a night of those
First days of triumph, as I gazed
Listless and sick, or scarcely raised
My face to mark the sports they praised.
“The endless changes of the dance
Bewildered me: the tones
Of lute and cithern struggled tow'rds
Some sense; and still in the last chords
The music seemed to sing wild words.
“My shame possessed me in the light
And pageant, till I swooned.
But from that hour I put my shame
From me, and cast it over them
By God's command and in God's name
“For my child's bitter sake. O thou
Once felt against my heart
With longing of the eyes,—a pain
Since to my heart for ever,—then
Beheld not, and not felt again!”
She scarcely paused, continuing:—
“That year drooped weak in March;
And April, finding the streams dry,
Choked, with no rain, in dust: the sky
Shall not be fainter this July.
“Men sickened; beasts lay without strength;
The year died in the land.
But I, already desolate,
Said merely, sitting down to wait,—
‘The seasons change and Time wears late.’
“For I had my hard secret told,
In secret, to a priest;
With him I communed; and he said
The world's soul, for its sins, was sped,
And the sun's courses numberèd.
“The year slid like a corpse afloat:
None trafficked,—who had bread
Did eat. That year our legions, come
Thinned from the place of war, at home
Found busier death, more burdensome.
“Tidings and rumours came with them,
The first for months. The chiefs
Sat daily at our board, and in
Their speech were names of friend and kin:
One day they spoke of Urscelyn.
“The words were light, among the rest:
Quick glance my brothers sent
To sift the speech; and I, struck through,
Sat sick and giddy in full view:
Yet did none gaze, so many knew.
“Because in the beginning, much
Had caught abroad, through them
That heard my clamour on the coast:
But two were hanged; and then the most
Held silence wisdom, as thou know'st.
“That year the convent yielded thee
Back to our home; and thou
Then knew'st not how I shuddered cold
To kiss thee, seeming to enfold
To my changed heart myself of old.
“Then there was showing thee the house,
So many rooms and doors;
Thinking the while how thou wouldst start
If once I flung the doors apart
Of one dull chamber in my heart.
“And yet I longed to open it;
And often in that year
Of plague and want, when side by side
We've knelt to pray with them that died,
My prayer was, ‘Show her what I hide!’”
The Forest Sanctuary - Part II.
Bring me the sounding of the torrent-water,
With yet a nearer swell-fresh breeze, awake!
And river, darkening ne'er with hues of slaughter
Thy wave's pure silvery green,-and shining lake,
Spread far before my cabin, with thy zone
Of ancient woods, ye chainless things and lone!
Send voices through the forest aisles, and make
Glad music round me, that my soul may dare,
Cheer'd by such tones, to look back on a dungeon's air!
Oh, Indian hunter of the desert's race!
That with the spear at times, or bended bow,
Dost cross my footsteps in thy fiery chase
Of the swift elk or blue hill's flying roe;
Thou that beside the red night-fire thou heapest,
Beneath the cedars and the star-light sleepest,
Thou know'st not, wanderer-never may'st thou know!-
Of the dark holds wherewith man cumbers earth,
To shut from human eyes the dancing seasons' mirth.
There, fetter'd down from day, to think the while
How bright in Heaven the festal sun is glowing,
Making earth's loneliest places, with his smile,
Flush like the rose; and how the streams are flowing
With sudden sparkles through the shadowy grass,
And water-flowers, all trembling as they pass;
And how the rich dark summer-trees are bowing
With their full foliage;-this to know, and pine
Bound unto midnight's heart, seems a stern lot-'twas mine.
Wherefore was this?-Because my soul had drawn
Light from the book whose words are grav'd in light!
There, at its well-head, had I found the dawn,
And day, and noon of freedom:-but too bright
It shines on that which man to man hath given,
And call'd the truth-the very truth, from Heaven!
And therefore seeks he, in his brother's sight,
To cast the mote; and therefore strives to bind
With his strong chains to earth, what is not earth's-the mind!
It is a weary and a bitter task
Back from the lip the burning word to keep,
And to shut out Heaven's air with falsehood's mask,
And in the dark urn of the soul to heap
Indignant feelings-making even of thought
A buried treasure, which may but be sought
When shadows are abroad-and night-and sleep.
I might not brook it long-and thus was thrown
Into that grave-like cell, to wither there alone.
And I a child of danger, whose delights
Were on dark hills and many-sounding seas-
I that amidst the Cordillera heights
Had given Castilian banners to the breeze,
And the full circle of the rainbow seen
There, on the snows; and in my country been
A mountain wanderer, from the Pyrenees
To the Morena crags-how left I not
Life, or the soul's life quench'd, on that sepulchral spot?
Because Thou didst not leave me, oh, my God!
Thou wert with those that bore the truth of old
Into the deserts from the oppressor's rod,
And made the caverns of the rock their fold,
And in the hidden chambers of the dead,
Our guiding lamp with fire immortal fed,
And met when stars met, by their beams to hold
The free heart's communing with Thee,-and Thou
Wert in the midst, felt, own'd-the strengthener then as now!
Yet once I sank. Alas! man's wavering mind!
Wherefore and whence the gusts that o'er it blow?
How they bear with them, floating uncombin'd,
The shadows of the past, that come and go,
As o'er the deep the old long-buried things,
Which a storm's working to the surface brings!
Is the reed shaken, and must we be so,
With every wind?-So, Father! must we be,
Till we can fix undimm'd our stedfast eyes on Thee.
Once my soul died within me. What had thrown
That sickness o'er it?-Even a passing thought
Of a clear spring, whose side, with flowers o'ergrown,
Fondly and oft my boyish steps had sought!
Perchance the damp roof's water-drops, that fell
Just then, low tinkling through my vaulted cell,
Intensely heard amidst the stillness, caught
Some tone from memory, of the music, welling
Ever with that fresh rill, from its deep rocky dwelling.
But so my spirit's fever'd longings wrought,
Wakening, it might be, to the faint sad sound,
That from the darkness of the walls they brought
A lov'd scene round me, visibly around.
Yes! kindling, spreading, brightening, hue by hue,
Like stars from midnight, through the gloom it grew,
That haunt of youth, hope, manhood!-till the bound
Of my shut cavern seem'd dissolv'd, and I
Girt by the solemn hills and burning pomp of sky.
I look'd-and lo! the clear broad river flowing,
Past the old Moorish ruin on the steep,
The lone tower dark against a Heaven all glowing,
Like seas of glass and fire!-I saw the sweep
Of glorious woods far down the mountain side,
And their still shadows in the gleaming tide,
And the red evening on its waves asleep;
And midst the scene-oh! more than all-there smil'd
My child's fair face, and hers, the mother of my child!
With their soft eyes of love and gladness rais'd
Up to the flushing sky, as when we stood
Last by that river, and in silence gaz'd
On the rich world of sunset:-but a flood
Of sudden tenderness my soul oppress'd,
And I rush'd forward with a yearning breast,
To clasp-alas! a vision!-Wave and wood,
And gentle faces, lifted in the light
Of day's last hectic blush, all melted from my sight.
Then darkness!-oh! th' unutterable gloom
That seem'd as narrowing round me, making less
And less my dungeon, when, with all its bloom,
That bright dream vanish'd from my loneliness!
It floated off, the beautiful!-yet left
Such deep thirst in my soul, that thus bereft,
I lay down, sick with passion's vain excess,
And pray'd to die.-How oft would sorrow weep
Her weariness to death, if he might come like sleep!
But I was rous'd-and how?-It is no tale
Even midst thy shades, thou wilderness, to tell!
I would not have my boy's young cheek made pale,
Nor haunt his sunny rest with what befel
In that drear prison-house.-His eye must grow
More dark with thought, more earnest his fair brow,
More high his heart in youthful strength must swell;
So shall it fitly burn when all is told:-
Let childhood's radiant mist the free child yet enfold!
It is enough that through such heavy hours,
As wring us by our fellowship of clay,
I liv'd, and undegraded. We have powers
To snatch th' oppressor's bitter joy away!
Shall the wild Indian, for his savage fame,
Laugh and expire, and shall not truth's high name
Bear up her martyrs with all-conquering sway?
It is enough that Torture may be vain-
I had seen Alvar die-the strife was won from Pain.
And faint not, heart of man! though years wane slow!
There have been those that from the deepest caves,
And cells of night, and fastnesses, below
The stormy dashing of the ocean-waves,
Down, farther down than gold lies hid, have nurs'd
A quenchless hope, and watch'd their time, and burst
On the bright day, like wakeners from the graves!
I was of such at last!-unchain'd I trod
This green earth, taking back my freedom from my God!
That was an hour to send its fadeless trace
Down life's far sweeping tide!-A dim, wild night,
Like sorrow, hung upon the soft moon's face,
Yet how my heart leap'd in her blessed light!
The shepherd's light-the sailor's on the sea-
The hunter's homeward from the mountains free,
Where its lone smile makes tremulously bright
The thousand streams!-I could but gaze through tears-
Oh! what a sight is Heaven, thus first beheld for years!
The rolling clouds!-they have the whole blue space
Above to sail in-all the dome of sky!
My soul shot with them in their breezy race
O'er star and gloom!-but I had yet to fly,
As flies the hunted wolf. A secret spot,
And strange, I knew-the sunbeam knew it not;-
Wildest of all the savage glens that lie
In far sierras, hiding their deep springs,
And travers'd but by storms, or sounding eagles' wings.
Ay, and I met the storm there!-I had gain'd
The covert's heart with swift and stealthy tread:
A moan went past me, and the dark trees rain'd
Their autumn foliage rustling on my head;
A moan-a hollow gust-and there I stood
Girt with majestic night, and ancient wood,
And foaming water.-Thither might have fled
The mountain Christian with his faith of yore,
When Afric's tambour shook the ringing western shore!
But through the black ravine the storm came swelling-
Mighty thou art amidst the hills, thou blast!
In thy lone course the kingly cedars felling,
Like plumes upon the path of battle cast!
A rent oak thunder'd down beside my cave-
Booming it rush'd, as booms a deep sea-wave;
A falcon soar'd; a startled wild-deer pass'd;
A far-off bell toll'd faintly through the roar-
How my glad spirit swept forth with the winds once more!
And with the arrowy lightnings!-for they flash'd,
Smiting the branches in their fitful play,
And brightly shivering where the torrents dash'd
Up, even to crag and eagle's nest, their spray!
And there to stand amidst the pealing strife,
The strong pines groaning with tempestuous life,
And all the mountain-voices on their way,-
Was it not joy?-'twas joy in rushing might,
After those years that wove but one long dead of night!
There came a softer hour, a lovelier moon,
And lit me to my home of youth again,
Through the dim chesnut shade, where oft at noon,
By the fount's flashing burst, my head had lain,
In gentle sleep: but now I pass'd as one
That may not pause where wood-streams whispering run,
Or light sprays tremble to a bird's wild strain,
Because th' avenger's voice is in the wind,
The foe's quick rustling step close on the leaves behind.
My home of youth!-oh! if indeed to part
With the soul's lov'd ones be a mournful thing,
When we go forth in buoyancy of heart,
And bearing all the glories of our spring
For life to breathe on,-is it less to meet,
When these are faded?-who shall call it sweet?
-Even though love's mingling tears may haply bring
Balm as they fall, too well their heavy showers
Teach us how much is lost of all that once was ours!
Not by the sunshine, with its golden glow,
Nor the green earth, nor yet the laughing sky,
Nor the faint flower-scents, as they come and go
In the soft air, like music wandering by;
-Oh! not by these, th' unfailing, are we taught
How time and sorrow on our frames have wrought,
But by the sadden'd eye, the darken'd brow,
Of kindred aspects, and the long dim gaze,
Which tells us we are chang'd,-how chang'd from other days!
Before my father-in my place of birth,
I stood an alien. On the very floor
Which oft had trembled to my boyish mirth,
The love that rear'd me, knew my face no more!
There hung the antique armour, helm and crest,
Whose every stain woke childhood in my breast,
There droop'd the banner, with the marks it bore
Of Paynim spears; and I, the worn in frame
And heart, what there was I?-another and the same!
Then bounded in a boy, with clear dark eye-
-How should he know his father?-when we parted,
From the soft cloud which mantles infancy,
His soul, just wakening into wonder, darted
Its first looks round. Him follow'd one, the bride
Of my young days, the wife how lov'd and tried!
Her glance met mine-I could not speak-she started
With a bewilder'd gaze;-until there came
Tears to my burning eyes, and from my lips her name.
She knew me then!-I murmur'd 'Leonor!'
And her heart answer'd!-oh! the voice is known
First from all else, and swiftest to restore
Love's buried images with one low tone,
That strikes like lightning, when the cheek is faded,
And the brow heavily with thought o'ershaded,
And all the brightness from the aspect gone!
-Upon my breast she sunk, when doubt was fled,
Weeping as those may weep, that meet in woe and dread.
For there we might not rest. Alas! to leave
Those native towers, and know that they must fall
By slow decay, and none remain to grieve
When the weeds cluster'd on the lonely wall!
We were the last-my boy and I-the last
Of a long line which brightly thence had pass'd!
My father bless'd me as I left his hall-
-With his deep tones and sweet, tho' full of years,
He bless'd me there, and bath'd my child's young head with tears.
I had brought sorrow on his grey hairs down,
And cast the darkness of my branded name
(For so he deem'd it) on the clear renown,
My own ancestral heritage of fame.
And yet he bless'd me!-Father! if the dust
Lie on those lips benign, my spirit's trust
Is to behold thee yet, where grief and shame
Dim the bright day no more; and thou wilt know
That not thro' guilt thy son thus bow'd thine age with woe!
And thou, my Leonor! that unrepining,
If sad in soul, didst quit all else for me,
When stars-the stars that earliest rise-are shining,
How their soft glance unseals each thought of thee!
For on our flight they smil'd;-their dewy rays,
Thro' the last olives, lit thy tearful gaze
Back to the home we never more might see;
So pass'd we on, like earth's first exiles, turning
Fond looks where hung the sword above their Eden burning.
It was a woe to say-'Farewell, my Spain!
The sunny and the vintage land, farewell!'
-I could have died upon the battle plain
For thee, my country! but I might not dwell
In thy sweet vales, at peace.-The voice of song
Breathes, with the myrtle scent, thy hills along;
The citron's glow is caught from shade and dell;
But what are these?-upon thy flowery sod
I might not kneel, and pour my free thoughts out to God!
O'er the blue deep I fled, the chainless deep!
-Strange heart of man! that ev'n midst woe swells high,
When thro' the foam he sees his proud bark sweep,
Flinging out joyous gleams to wave and sky!
Yes! it swells high, whate'er he leaves behind;
His spirit rises with the rising wind;
For, wedded to the far futurity,
On, on, it bears him ever, and the main
Seems rushing, like his hope, some happier shore to gain.
Not thus is woman. Closely her still heart
Doth twine itself with ev'n each lifeless thing,
Which, long remember'd, seem'd to bear its part
In her calm joys. For ever would she cling,
A brooding dove, to that sole spot of earth
Where she hath loved, and given her children birth,
And heard their first sweet voices. There may Spring
Array no path, renew no flower, no leaf,
But hath its breath of home, its claim to farewell grief.
I look'd on Leonor, and if there seem'd
A cloud of more than pensiveness to rise,
In the faint smiles that o'er her features gleam'd,
And the soft darkness of her serious eyes,
Misty with tender gloom; I call'd it nought
But the fond exile's pang, a lingering thought
Of her own vale, with all its melodies
And living light of streams. Her soul would rest
Beneath your shades, I said, bowers of the gorgeous west!
Oh! could we live in visions! could we hold
Delusion faster, longer, to our breast,
When it shuts from us, with its mantle's fold,
That which we see not, and are therefore blest!
But they, our lov'd and loving, they to whom
We have spread out our souls in joy and gloom,
Their looks and accents, unto ours address'd,
Have been a language of familiar tone
Too long to breathe, at last, dark sayings and unknown.
I told my heart 'twas but the exile's woe
Which press'd on that sweet bosom;-I deceiv'd
My heart but half:-a whisper faint and low,
Haunting it ever, and at times believ'd,
Spoke of some deeper cause. How oft we seem
Like those that dream, and know the while they dream,
Midst the soft falls of airy voices griev'd,
And troubled, while bright phantoms round them play,
By a dim sense that all will float and fade away!
Yet, as if chasing joy, I woo'd the breeze,
To speed me onward with the wings of morn.
-Oh! far amidst the solitary seas,
Which were not made for man, what man hath borne,
Answering their moan with his!-what thou didst bear,
My lost and loveliest! while that secret care
Grew terror, and thy gentle spirit, worn
By its dull brooding weight, gave way at last,
Beholding me as one from hope for ever cast!
For unto thee, as thro' all change, reveal'd
Mine inward being lay. In other eyes
I had to bow me yet, and make a shield,
To fence my burning bosom, of disguise;
By the still hope sustain'd, ere long to win
Some sanctuary, whose green retreats within,
My thoughts unfetter'd to their source might rise,
Like songs and scents of morn.-But thou didst look
Thro' all my soul, and thine even unto fainting shook.
Fall'n, fall'n, I seem'd-yet, oh! not less belov'd,
Tho' from thy love was pluck'd the early pride,
And harshly, by a gloomy faith reproved,
And sear'd with shame!-tho' each young flower had died,
There was the root,-strong, living, not the less
That all it yielded now was bitterness;
Yet still such love as quits not misery's side,
Nor drops from guilt its ivy-like embrace,
Nor turns away from death's its pale heroic face.
Yes! thou hadst follow'd me thro' fear and flight;
Thou wouldst have follow'd had my pathway led
Even to the scaffold; had the flashing light
Of the rais'd axe made strong men shrink with dread,
Thou, midst the hush of thousands, wouldst have been
With thy clasp'd hands beside me kneeling seen,
And meekly bowing to the shame thy head-
-The shame!-oh! making beautiful to view
The might of human love-fair thing! so bravely true!
There was thine agony-to love so well
Where fear made love life's chastener.-Heretofore
Whate'er of earth's disquiet round thee fell,
Thy soul, o'erpassing its dim bounds, could soar
Away to sunshine, and thy clear eye speak
Most of the skies when grief most touch'd thy cheek.
Now, that far brightness faded! never more
Couldst thou lift heavenwards for its hope thy heart,
Since at Heaven's gate it seem'd that thou and I must part.
Alas! and life hath moments when a glance
(If thought to sudden watchfulness be stirr'd,)
A flush-a fading of the cheek perchance.
A word-less, less-the cadence of a word,
Lets in our gaze the mind's dim veil beneath,
Thence to bring haply knowledge fraught with death!
-Even thus, what never from thy lip was heard
Broke on my soul.-I knew that in thy sight
I stood-howe'er belov'd-a recreant from the light!
Thy sad sweet hymn, at eve, the seas along,-
-Oh! the deep soul it breath'd!-the love, the woe,
The fervor, pour'd in that full gush of song,
As it went floating through the fiery glow
Of the rich sunset!-bringing thoughts of Spain,
With all her vesper-voices, o'er the main,
Which seem'd responsive in its murmuring flow.
-' Ave sanctissima! '-how oft that lay
Hath melted from my heart the martyr-strength away!
'Tis night-fall on the sea;
Ora pro nobis!
Our souls rise to thee!
Watch us, while shadows lie
O'er the dim water spread;
Hear the heart's lonely sigh,
-Thine , too, hath bled!
Thou that hast look'd on death,
Aid us when death is near!
Whisper of Heaven to faith;
Sweet mother, hear!
Ora pro nobis!
The wave must rock our sleep,
Ora, mater, ora!
Thou star of the deep!
'Ora pro nobis, mater!' -What a spell
Was in those notes, with day's last glory dying
On the flush'd waters!-seem'd they not to swell
From the far dust, wherein my sires were lying
With crucifix and sword?-Oh! yet how clear
Comes their reproachful sweetness to mine ear!
'Ora!' -with all the purple waves replying,
All my youth's visions rising in the strain-
-And I had thought it much to bear the rack and chain!
Torture!-the sorrow of affection's eye,
Fixing its meekness on the spirit's core,
Deeper, and teaching more of agony,
May pierce than many swords!-and this I bore
With a mute pang. Since I had vainly striven
From its free springs to pour the truth of Heaven
Into thy trembling soul, my Leonor!
Silence rose up where hearts no hope could share:
-Alas! for those that love, and may not blend in prayer!
We could not pray together midst the deep,
Which, like a floor of sapphire, round us lay,
Through days of splendour, nights too bright for sleep,
Soft, solemn, holy!-We were on our way
Unto the mighty Cordillera-land,
With men whom tales of that world's golden strand
Had lur'd to leave their vines.-Oh! who shall say
What thoughts rose in us, when the tropic sky
Touch'd all its molten seas with sunset's alchemy?
Thoughts no more mingled!-Then came night-th' intense
Dark blue-the burning stars!-I saw thee shine
Once more, in thy serene magnificence,
O Southern Cross! as when thy radiant sign
First drew my gaze of youth.-No, not as then;
I had been stricken by the darts of men
Since those fresh days, and now thy light divine
Look'd on mine anguish, while within me strove
The still small voice against the might of suffering love.
But thou, the clear, the glorious! thou wert pouring
Brilliance and joy upon the crystal wave,
While she that met thy ray with eyes adoring,
Stood in the lengthening shadow of the grave!
-Alas! I watch'd her dark religious glance,
As it still sought thee through the Heaven's expanse,
Bright Cross!-and knew not that I watch'd what gave
But passing lustre-shrouded soon to be-
A soft light found no more-no more on earth or sea!
I knew not all-yet something of unrest
Sat on my heart. Wake, ocean-wind! I said;
Waft us to land, in leafy freshness drest,
Where through rich clouds of foliage o'er her head,
Sweet day may steal, and rills unseen go by,
Like singing voices, and the green earth lie
Starry with flowers, beneath her graceful tread!
-But the calm bound us midst the glassy main;
Ne'er was her step to bend earth's living flowers again.
Yes! as if Heaven upon the waves were sleeping,
Vexing my soul with quiet, there they lay,
All moveless through their blue transparence keeping,
The shadows of our sails, from day to day;
While she-oh! strongest is the strong heart's woe-
And yet I live! I feel the sunshine's glow-
And I am he that look'd, and saw decay
Steal o'er the fair of earth, th' ador'd too much!
-It is a fearful thing to love what death may touch.
A fearful thing that love and death may dwell
In the same world!-She faded on-and I-
Blind to the last, there needed death to tell
My trusting soul that she could fade to die!
Yet, ere she parted, I had mark'd a change,
-But it breath'd hope-'twas beautiful, though strange:
Something of gladness in the melody
Of her low voice, and in her words a flight
Of airy thought-alas! too perilously bright!
And a clear sparkle in her glance, yet wild,
And quick, and eager, like the flashing gaze
Of some all wondering and awakening child,
That first the glories of the earth surveys.
-How could it thus deceive me?-she had worn
Around her, like the dewy mists of morn,
A pensive tenderness through happiest days,
And a soft world of dreams had seem'd to lie
Still in her dark, and deep, and spiritual eye.
And I could hope in that strange fire!-she died,
She died, with all its lustre on her mien!
-The day was melting from the waters wide,
And through its long bright hours her thoughts had been,
It seem'd, with restless and unwonted yearning,
To Spain's blue skies and dark sierras turning
For her fond words were all of vintage-scene,
And flowering myrtle, and sweet citron's breath-
-Oh! with what vivid hues life comes back oft on death!
And from her lips the mountain-songs of old,
In wild faint snatches, fitfully had sprung;
Songs of the orange bower, the Moorish hold,
The 'Rio verde', on her soul that hung,
And thence flow'd forth.-But now the sun was low,
And watching by my side its last red glow,
That ever stills the heart, once more she sung
Her own soft 'Ora, mater!' -and the sound
Was even like love's farewell-so mournfully profound.
The boy had dropp'd to slumber at our feet;-
-'And I have lull'd him to his smiling rest
Once more!' she said:-I rais'd him-it was sweet,
Yet sad, to see the perfect calm which bless'd
His look that hour;-for now her voice grew weak;
And on the flowery crimson of his cheek,
With her white lips a long, long kiss she press'd,
Yet light, to wake him not.-Then sank her head
Against my bursting heart.-What did I clasp?-the dead!
I call'd-to call what answers not our cries-
By that we lov'd to stand unseen, unheard,
With the loud passion of our tears and sighs
To see but some cold glistering ringlet stirr'd,
And in the quench'd eye's fixedness to gaze,
All vainly searching for the parted rays;
This is what waits us!-Dead!-with that chill word
To link our bosom-names!-For this we pour
Our souls upon the dust-nor tremble to adore!
But the true parting came!-I look'd my last
On the sad beauty of that slumbering face;
How could I think the lovely spirit pass'd,
Which there had left so tenderly its trace?
Yet a dim awfulness was on the brow-
No! not like sleep to look upon art Thou,
Death, death!-She lay, a thing for earth's embrace,
To cover with spring-wreaths.-For earth's?-the wave
That gives the bier no flowers-makes moan above her grave!
On the mid-seas a knell!-for man was there,
Anguish and love-the mourner with his dead!
A long low-rolling knell-a voice of prayer-
Dark glassy waters, like a desert spread,-
And the pale-shining Southern Cross on high,
Its faint stars fading from a solemn sky,
Where mighty clouds before the dawn grew red;-
Were these things round me?-Such o'er memory sweep
Wildly when aught brings back that burial of the deep.
Then the broad lonely sunrise!-and the plash
Into the sounding waves!-around her head
They parted, with a glancing moment's flash,
Then shut-and all was still. And now thy bed
Is of their secrets, gentlest Leonor!
Once fairest of young brides!-and never more,
Lov'd as thou wert, may human tear be shed
Above thy rest!-No mark the proud seas keep,
To show where he that wept may pause again to weep.
So the depths took thee!-Oh! the sullen sense
Of desolation in that hour compress'd!
Dust going down, a speck, amidst th' immense
And gloomy waters, leaving on their breast
The trace a weed might leave there!-Dust!-the thing
Which to the heart was as a living spring
Of joy, with fearfulness of love possess'd,
Thus sinking!-Love, joy, fear, all crush'd to this-
And the wide Heaven so far-so fathomless th' abyss!
Where the line sounds not, where the wrecks lie low,
What shall wake thence the dead?-Blest, blest are they
That earth to earth entrust; for they may know
And tend the dwelling whence the slumberer's clay
Shall rise at last, and bid the young flowers bloom,
That waft a breath of hope around the tomb,
And kneel upon the dewy turf to pray!
But thou, what cave hath dimly chamber'd thee?
Vain dreams!-oh! art thou not where there is no more sea?
The wind rose free and singing:-when for ever,
O'er that sole spot of all the watery plain,
I could have bent my sight with fond endeavour
Down, where its treasure was, its glance to strain;
Then rose the reckless wind!-Before our prow
The white foam flash'd-ay, joyously-and thou
Wert left with all the solitary main
Around thee-and thy beauty in my heart,
And thy meek sorrowing love-oh! where could that depart?
I will not speak of woe; I may not tell-
Friend tells not such to friend-the thoughts which rent
My fainting spirit, when its wild farewell
Across the billows to thy grave was sent,
Thou, there most lonely!-He that sits above,
In his calm glory, will forgive the love
His creatures bear each other, ev'n if blent
With a vain worship; for its close is dim
Ever with grief, which leads the wrung soul back to Him!
And with a milder pang if now I bear
To think of thee in thy forsaken rest,
If from my heart be lifted the despair,
The sharp remorse with healing influence press'd,
If the soft eyes that visit me in sleep
Look not reproach, though still they seem to weep;
It is that He my sacrifice hath bless'd,
And fill'd my bosom, through its inmost cell,
With a deep chastening sense that all at last is well.
Yes! thou art now-Oh! wherefore doth the thought
Of the wave dashing o'er thy long bright hair,
The sea-weed into its dark tresses wrought,
The sand thy pillow-thou that wert so fair!
Come o'er me still?-Earth, earth!-it is the hold
Earth ever keeps on that of earthy mould!
But thou art breathing now in purer air,
I well believe, and freed from all of error,
Which blighted here the root of thy sweet life with terror.
And if the love which here was passing light
Went with what died not-Oh! that this we knew,
But this!-that through the silence of the night,
Some voice, of all the lost ones and the true,
Would speak, and say, if in their far repose,
We are yet aught of what we were to those
We call the dead!-their passionate adieu,
Was it but breath, to perish?-Holier trust
Be mine!-thy love is there, but purified from dust!
A thing all heavenly!-clear'd from that which hung
As a dim cloud between us, heart and mind!
Loos'd from the fear, the grief, whose tendrils flung
A chain, so darkly with its growth entwin'd.
This is my hope!-though when the sunset fades,
When forests rock the midnight on their shades,
When tones of wail are in the rising wind,
Across my spirit some faint doubt may sigh;
For the strong hours will sway this frail mortality!
We have been wanderers since those days of woe,
Thy boy and I!-As wild birds tend their young,
So have I tended him-my bounding roe!
The high Peruvian solitudes among;
And o'er the Andes-torrents borne his form,
Where our frail bridge hath quiver'd midst the storm.
-But there the war-notes of my country rung,
And, smitten deep of Heaven and man, I fled
To hide in shades unpierc'd a mark'd and weary head.
But he went on in gladness-that fair child!
Save when at times his bright eye seem'd to dream,
And his young lips, which then no longer smil'd,
Ask'd of his mother!-that was but a gleam
Of Memory, fleeting fast; and then his play
Through the wide Llanos cheer'd again our way,
And by the mighty Oronoco stream,
On whose lone margin we have heard at morn,
From the mysterious rocks, the sunrise-music borne.
So like a spirit's voice! a harping tone,
Lovely, yet ominous to mortal ear,
Such as might reach us from a world unknown,
Troubling man's heart with thrills of joy and fear!
'Twas sweet!-yet those deep southern shades oppress'd
My soul with stillness, like the calms that rest
On melancholy waves: I sigh'd to hear
Once more earth's breezy sounds, her foliage fann'd,
And turn'd to seek the wilds of the red hunter's land.
And we have won a bower of refuge now,
In this fresh waste, the breath of whose repose
Hath cool'd, like dew, the fever of my brow,
And whose green oaks and cedars round me close,
As temple-walls and pillars, that exclude
Earth's haunted dreams from their free solitude;
All, save the image and the thought of those
Before us gone; our lov'd of early years,
Gone where affection's cup hath lost the taste of tears.
I see a star-eve's first-born!-in whose train
Past scenes, words, looks, come back. The arrowy spire
Of the lone cypress, as of wood-girt fane,
Rests dark and still amidst a heaven of fire;
The pine gives forth its odours, and the lake
Gleams like one ruby, and the soft winds wake,
Till every string of nature's solemn lyre
Is touch'd to answer; its most secret tone
Drawn from each tree, for each hath whispers all its own.
And hark! another murmur on the air,
Not of the hidden rills, or quivering shades!
-That is the cataract's, which the breezes bear,
Filling the leafy twilight of the glades
With hollow surge-like sounds, as from the bed
Of the blue mournful seas, that keep the dead:
But they are far!-the low sun here pervades
Dim forest-arches, bathing with red gold
Their stems, till each is made a marvel to behold,
Gorgeous, yet full of gloom!-In such an hour,
The vesper-melody of dying bells
Wanders through Spain, from each grey convent's tower
O'er shining rivers pour'd, and olive-dells,
By every peasant heard, and muleteer,
And hamlet, round my home:-and I am here,
Living again through all my life's farewells,
In these vast woods, where farewell ne'er was spoken,
And sole I lift to Heaven a sad heart-yet unbroken!
In such an hour are told the hermit's beads;
With the white sail the seaman's hymn floats by:
Peace be with all! whate'er their varying creeds,
With all that send up holy thoughts on high!
Come to me, boy!-by Guadalquivir's vines,
By every stream of Spain, as day declines,
Man's prayers are mingled in the rosy sky.
-We, too, will pray; nor yet unheard, my child!
Of Him whose voice we hear at eve amidst the wild.
At eve?-oh! through all hours!-From dark dreams oft
Awakening, I look forth, and learn the might
Of solitude, while thou art breathing soft,
And low, my lov'd one! on the breast of night:
I look forth on the stars-the shadowy sleep
Of forests-and the lake, whose gloomy deep
Sends up red sparkles to the fire-flies' light.
A lonely world!-even fearful to man's thought,
But for His presence felt, whom here my soul hath sought.
The King of the Vasse
A LEGEND OF THE BUSH.
MY tale which I have brought is of a time
Ere that fair Southern land was stained with crime,
Brought thitherward in reeking ships and cast
Like blight upon the coast, or like a blast
From angry levin on a fair young tree,
That stands thenceforth a piteous sight to see.
So lives this land to-day beneath the sun,—
A weltering plague-spot, where the hot tears run,
And hearts to ashes turn, and souls are dried
Like empty kilns where hopes have parched and died.
Woe's cloak is round her,—she the fairest shore
In all the Southern Ocean o'er and o'er.
Poor Cinderella! she must bide her woe,
Because an elder sister wills it so.
Ah! could that sister see the future day
When her own wealth and strength are shorn away,
A.nd she, lone mother then, puts forth her hand
To rest on kindred blood in that far land;
Could she but see that kin deny her claim
Because of nothing owing her but shame,—
Then might she learn 'tis building but to fall,
If carted rubble be the basement-wall.
But this my tale, if tale it be, begins
Before the young land saw the old land's sins
Sail up the orient ocean, like a cloud
Far-blown, and widening as it neared,—a shroud
Fate-sent to wrap the bier of all things pure,
And mark the leper-land while stains endure.
In the far days, the few who sought the West
Were men all guileless, in adventurous quest
Of lands to feed their flocks and raise their grain,
And help them live their lives with less of pain
Than crowded Europe lets her children know.
From their old homesteads did they seaward go,
As if in Nature's order men must flee
As flow the streams,—from inlands to the sea.
In that far time, from out a Northern land,
With home-ties severed, went a numerous band
Of men and wives and children, white-haired folk:
Whose humble hope of rest at home had broke,
As year was piled on year, and still their toil
Had wrung poor fee from -Sweden's rugged soil.
One day there gathered from the neighboring steads,
In Jacob Eibsen's, five strong household heads,—
Five men large-limbed and sinewed, Jacob's sons,
Though he was hale, as one whose current runs
In stony channels, that the streamlet rend,
But keep it clear and full unto the end.
Eight sons had Jacob Eibsen,—three still boys,
And these five men, who owned of griefs and joys
The common lot; and three tall girls beside,
Of whom the eldest was a blushing bride
One year before. Old-fashioned times and men,
And wives and maidens, were in Sweden then.
These five came there for counsel: they were tired
Of hoping on for all the heart desired;
And Jacob, old but mighty-thewed as youth,
In all their words did sadly own the truth,
And said unto them, 'Wealth cannot be found
In Sweden now by men who till the ground.
I've thought at times of leaving this bare place,
And holding seaward with a seeking face
For those new lands they speak of, where men thrive.
Alone .I've thought of this-; but now you five—
Five brother men of Eibsen blood—shall say
If our old stock from here must wend their way,
And seek a home where anxious sires can give
To every child enough whereon to live.'
Then each took thought in silence. Jacob gazed
Across them at the pastures worn and grazed
By ill-fed herds; his glance to corn-fields passed,
Where stunted oats, worse each year than the last,
And blighted barley, grew amongst the stones,
That showed ungainly, like earth's fleshless bones.
He sighed, and turned away. 'Sons, let me know
What think you?'
Each one answered firm, 'We go.'
And then they said, 'We want no northern wind
To chill us more, or driving hail to blind.
But let us sail where south winds fan the sea,
And happier we and all our race shall be.'
And so in time there started for the coast,
With farm and household gear, this Eibsen host;
And there, with others, to a good ship passed,
Which soon of Sweden's hills beheld the last.
I know not of their voyage, nor how they
Did wonder-stricken sit, as day by day,
'Neath tropic rays, they saw the smooth sea swell
And heave; while night by night the north-star fell,
Till last they watched him burning on the sea;
Nor how they saw, and wondered it could be,
Strange beacons rise before them as they gazed:
Nor how their hearts grew light when southward blazed
Five stars in blessed shape,—the Cross! whose flame
Seemed shining welcome as the wanderers came.
My story presses from this star-born hope
To where on young New Holland's western slope
These Northern-farming folk found homes at last,
And all their thankless toil seemed now long past.
Nine fruitful years chased over, and nigh all
Of life was sweet. But one dark dropp of gall
Had come when first they landed, like a sign
Of some black woe; and deep in Eibsen's wine
Of life it hid, till in the sweetest cup
The old man saw its shape come shuddering up.
And first it came in this wise: when their ship
Had made the promised land, and every lip
Was pouring praise for what the eye did meet,—
For all the air was yellow as with heat
Above the peaceful sea and dazzling sand
That wooed each other round the beauteous land,
Where inward stretched the slumbering forest's green,—
When first these sights from off the deck were seen,
There rose a wailing stern wards, and the men
Who dreamt of heaven turned to earth agen,
And heard the direful cause with bated breath,—
The land's first gleam had brought the blight of death!
The wife of Eibsen held her six-years' son,
Her youngest, and in secret best-loved one,
Close to her lifeless: his had been the cry
That first horizonwards bent every eye;
And from that opening sight of sand and tree
Like one deep spell-bound did he seem to be,
And moved by some strange phantasy; his eyes
Were wide distended as in glad surprise
At something there he saw; his arms reached o'er
The vessel's side as if to greet the shore,
And sounds came from his lips like sobs of joy.
A brief time so; and then the blue-eyed boy
Sank down convulsed, as if to him appeared
Strange sights that they saw not; and all afeard
Grew the late joyous people with vague dread;
And loud the mother wailed above her dead.
The ship steered in and found a bay, and then
The anchor plunged aweary-like: the men
Breathed breaths of rest at treading land agen.
Upon the beach by Christian men untrod
The wanderers kneeling offered up to God
The land's first-fruits; and nigh the kneeling band
The burdened mother sat upon the sand,
And still she wailed, not praying.
'Neath the wood
That lined the beach a crowd of watchers stood:
Tall men spear-armed, with skins like dusky night,
And aspect blended of deep awe and fright.
The ship that morn they saw, like some vast bird,
Come sailing toward their country; and they heard
The voices now of those strange men whose eyes
Were turned aloft, who spake unto the skies!
They heard and feared, not knowing, that first prayer,
But feared not when the wail arose, for there
Was some familiar thing did not appall,—
Grief, common heritage and lot of all.
They moved and breathed more freely at the cry,
And slowly from the wood, and timorously,
They one by one emerged upon the beach.
The white men saw, and like to friends did reach
Their hands unarmed; and soon the dusky crowd
Drew nigh and stood where wailed the mother loud.
They claimed her kindred, they could understand
That woe was hers and theirs; whereas the band
Of white-skinned men did not as brethren seem.
But now, behold! a man, whom one would deem
From eye and mien, wherever met, a King,
Did stand beside the woman. No youth's spring
Was in the foot that naked pressed the sand;
No warrior's might was in the long dark hand
That waved his people backward; no bright gold.
Of lace or armor glittered; gaunt and old,—
A belt, half apron, made of emu-down,
Upon his loins; upon his head no crown
Save only that which eighty years did trace
In whitened hair above his furrowed face.
Nigh nude he was: a short fur boka hung
In toga-folds upon his back, but flung
From his right arm and shoulder,—ever there
The spear-arm of the warrior is bare.
So stood he nigh the woman, gaunt and wild
But king-like, spearless, looking on the child
That lay with livid face upon her knees.
Thus long and fixed he gazed, as one who sees
A symbol hidden in a simple thing,
And trembles at its meaning: so the King
Fell trembling there, and from his breast there broke
A cry, part joy, part fear; then to his folk
With upraised hands he spoke one guttural word,
And said it over thrice; and when they heard,
They, too, were stricken with strange fear and joy.
The white-haired King then to the breathless boy
Drew closer still, while all the dusky crowd
In weird abasement to the earth were bowed.
Across his breast the aged ruler wore
A leathern thong or belt; whate'er it bore
Was hidden 'neath the boka. As he drew
Anigh the mother, from his side he threw
Far back the skin that made his rich-furred robe,
And showed upon the belt a small red globe
Of carven wood, bright-polished, as with years:
When this they saw, deep grew his people's fears,
And to the white sand were their foreheads pressed.
The King then raised his arms, as if he blest
The youth who lay there seeming dead and cold;
Then took the globe and oped it, and behold!
Within it, bedded in the carven case,
There lay a precious thing for that rude race
To hold, though it as God they seemed to prize, —
A Pearl of purest hue and wondrous size!
And as the sunbeams kissed it, from the dead
The dusk King looked, and o'er his snowy head
With both long hands he raised the enthroned gem,
And turned him toward the strangers: e'en on them
Before the lovely Thing, an awe did fall
To see that worship deep and mystical,
That King with upraised god, like rev' rent priest
With elevated Host at Christian feast.
Then to the mother turning slow, the King
Took out the Pearl, and laid the beauteous Thing
Upon the dead boy's mouth and brow and breast,
And as it touched him, lo! the awful rest
Of death was broken, and the youth uprose!
* * * * * * *
Nine years passed over since on that fair shore
The wanderers knelt,—but wanderers they no more.
With hopeful hearts they bore the promise-pain
Of early labor, and soon bending grain
And herds and homesteads and a teeming soil
A thousand-fold repaid their patient toil.
Nine times the sun's high glory glared above,
As if his might set naught on human love,
But yearned to scorn and scorch the things that grew
On man's poor home, till all the forest's hue
Of blessed green was burned to dusty brown;
And still the ruthless rays rained fiercely down,
Till insects, reptiles, shriveled as they lay,
And piteous cracks, like lips, in parching clay
Sent silent pleadings skyward,—as if she,
The fruitful, generous mother, plaintively
Did wail for water. Lo! her cry is heard,
And swift, obedient to the Ruler's word,
From Southern Iceland sweeps the cool sea breeze,
To fan the earth and bless the suffering trees,
And bear dense clouds with bursting weight of rain
To soothe with moisture all the parching pain.
Oh, Mercy's sweetest symbol! only they
Who see the earth agape in burning day,
Who watch its living things thirst-stricken lie,
And turn from brazen heaven as they die,—
Their hearts alone, the shadowy cloud can prize
That veils the sun,—as to poor earth-dimmed eyes
The sorrow comes to veil our joy's dear face,
All rich-in mercy and in God's sweet grace!
Thrice welcome, clouds from seaward, settling down
O'er thirsting nature! Now the trees' dull brown
Is washed away, and leaflet buds appear,
And youngling undergrowth, and far and near
The bush is whispering in her pent-up glee,
As myriad roots bestir them to be free,
And drink the soaking moisture; while bright heaven
Shows clear, as inland are the spent clouds driven;
And oh! that arch, that sky's intensate hue!
That deep, God-painted, unimagined blue
Through which the golden sun now smiling sails,
And sends his love to fructify the vales
That late he seemed to curse! Earth throbs and heaves
With pregnant prescience of life and leaves;
The shadows darken 'neath the tall trees' screen,
While round their stems the rank and velvet green
Of undergrowth is deeper still; and there,
Within the double shade and steaming air,
The scarlet palm has fixed its noxious root,
And hangs the glorious poison of its fruit;
And there, 'mid shaded green and shaded light,
The steel-blue silent birds take rapid flight
From earth to tree and tree to earth; and there
The crimson-plumaged parrot cleaves the air
Like flying fire, and huge brown owls awake
To watch, far down, the stealing carpet snake,
Fresh-skinned and glowing in his changing dyes,
With evil wisdom in the cruel eyes
That glint like gems as o'er his head flits by
The blue-black armor of the emperor-fly;
And all the humid earth displays its powers
Of prayer, with incense from the hearts of flowers
That load the air with beauty and with wine
Of mingled color, as with one design
Of making there a carpet to be trod,
In woven splendor, by the feet of God!
And high o'erhead is color: round and round
The towering gums and tuads, closely wound
Like cables, creep the climbers to the sun,
And over all the reaching branches run
And hang, and still send shoots that climb and wind
Till every arm and spray and leaf is twined,
And miles of trees, like brethren joined in love,
Are drawn and laced; while round them and above,
When all is knit, the creeper rests for days
As gathering might, and then one blinding blaze
Of very glory sends, in wealth and strength,
Of scarlet flowers o'er the forest's length!
Such scenes as these have subtile power to trace
Their clear-lined impress on the mind and face;
And these strange simple folk, not knowing why,
Grew more and more to silence; and the eye,
The quiet eye of Swedish gray, grew deep
With listening to the solemn rustling sweep
From wings of Silence, and the earth's great psalm
Intoned forever by the forest's calm.
But most of all was younger Jacob changed:
From morn till night, alone, the woods he ranged,
To kindred, pastime, sympathy estranged.
Since that first day of landing from the ship
When with the Pearl on brow and breast and lip
The aged King had touched him and he rose,
His former life had left him, and he chose
The woods as home, the wild, uncultured men
As friends and comrades. It were better then,
His brethren said, the boy had truly died
Than they should live to be by him denied,
As now they were. He lived in somber mood,
He spoke no word to them, he broke no food
That they did eat: his former life was dead,—
The soul brought back was not the soul that fled!
'Twas Jacob's form and feature, but the light
Within his eyes was strange unto their sight.
His mother's grief was piteous to see;
Unloving was he to the rest, but she
Held undespairing hope that deep within
Her son's changed heart was love that she might win
By patient tenderness; and so she strove
For nine long years, but won no look of love!
At last his brethren gazed on him with awe,
And knew untold that from the form they saw
Their brother's gentle mind was sure dispelled,
And now a gloomy savage soul it held.
From that first day, close intercourse he had
With those who raised him up,—fierce men, unclad,
Spear-armed and wild, in all their ways uncouth,
And strange to every habit of his youth.
His food they brought, his will they seemed to crave,
The wildest bushman tended like a slave;
He worked their charms, their hideous chants he sung;
Though dumb to all his own, their guttural tongue
He often spoke in tones of curt command,
And kinged it proudly o'er the dusky band.
And once each year there gathered from afar
A swarming host, as if a sudden war
Had called them forth, and with them did they bring
In solemn, savage pomp the white-haired King,
Who year by year more withered was and weak;
And he would lead the youth apart and speak
Some occult words, and from the carven case
Would take the Pearl and touch the young man's face,
And hold it o'er him blessing; while the crowd,
As on the shore, in dumb abasement bowed.
And when the King had closed the formal rite,
The rest held savage revelry by night,
Round blazing fires, with dance and orgies base,
That roused the sleeping echoes of the place,
Which down the forest vistas moaned the din,
Like spirits pure beholding impious sin.
Nine times they gathered thus; but on the last
The old king's waning life seemed well-nigh past.
His feeble strength had failed: he walked no more,
But on a woven spear-wood couch they bore
With careful tread the form that barely gasped,
As if the door of death now hung unhasped,
Awaiting but a breath to swing, and show
The dim eternal plain that stretched below.
The tenth year waned: the cloistered bush was stilled,
The earth lay sleeping, while the clouds distilled
In ghostly veil their blessing. Thin and white,
Through opening trees the moonbeams cleft the night,
And showed the somber arches, taller far
Than grandest aisles of built cathedrals are.
And up those dim-lit aisles in silence streamed
Tall men with trailing spears, until it seemed,
So many lines converged of endless length,
A nation there was gathered in its strength.
Around one spot was kept a spacious ring,
Where lay the body of the white-haired King,
Which all the spearmen gathered to behold
Upon its spear-wood litter, stiff and cold.
All naked, there the dusky corse was laid
Beneath a royal tuad's mourning shade;
Upon the breast was placed the carven case
That held the symbol of their ancient race,
And eyes awe-stricken saw the mystic Thing
That soon would clothe another as their King!
The midnight moon was high and white o'erhead,
And threw a ghastly pallor round the dead
That heightened still the savage pomp and state
In which they stood expectant, as for Fate
To move and mark with undisputed hand
The one amongst them to the high command.
And long they stood unanswered; each on each
Had looked in vain for motion or for speech:
Unmoved as ebon statues, grand and tall,
They ringed the shadowy circle, silent all.
Then came a creeping tremor, as a breeze
With cooling rustle moves the summer trees
Before the thunder crashes on the ear;
The dense ranks turn expectant, as they hear
A sound, at first afar, but nearing fast;
The outer crowd divides, as waves are cast
On either side a tall ship's cleaving bow,
Or mold is parted by the fearless plow
That leaves behind a passage clear and broad:
So through the murmuring multitude a road
Was cleft with power, up which in haughty swing
A figure stalking broke the sacred ring.
And stood beside the body of the King!
'Twas Jacob Eibsen, sad and gloomy-browed,
Who bared his neck and breast, one moment bowed
Above the corse, and then stood proud and tall,
And held the carven case before them all!
A breath went upward like a smothered fright
From every heart, to see that face, so white,
So foreign to their own, but marked with might
From source unquestioned, and to them divine;
Whilst he, the master of the mystic sign,
Then oped the case and took the Pearl and raised,
As erst the King had done, and upward gazed,
As swearing fealty to God on high!
But ere the oath took form, there thrilled a cry
Of shivering horror through the hush of night;
And there before him, blinded by the sight
Of all his impious purpose, brave with love,
His mother stood, and stretched her arms above
To tear the idol from her darling's hand;
But one fierce look, and rang a harsh command
In Jacob's voice, that smote her like a sword.
A thousand men sprang forward at the word,
To tear the mother from the form of stone,
And cast her forth; but, as he stood alone,
The keen, heart-broken wail that cut the air
Went two-edged through him, half reproach, half prayer.
But all unheeding, he nor marked her cry
By sign or look within the gloomy eye;
But round his body bound the carven case,
And swore the fealty with marble face.
As fades a dream before slow-waking sense,
The shadowy host, that late stood fixed and dense,
Began to melt; and as they came erewhile,
The streams flowed backward through each moonlit aisle;
And soon he stood alone within the place,
Their new-made king,—their king with pallid face,
Their king with strange foreboding and unrest,
And half-formed thoughts, like dreams, within his breast.
Like Moses' rod, that mother's cry of woe
Had struck for water; but the fitful flow
That weakly welled and streamed did seem to mock
Before it died forever on the rock.
The sun rose o'er the forest, and his light
Made still more dreamlike all the evil night.
Day streamed his glory down the aisles' dim arch,
All hushed and shadowy like a pillared church;
And through the lonely bush no living thing
Was seen, save now and then a garish wing
Of bird low-flying on its silent way.
But woeful searchers spent the weary day
In anxious dread, and found not what they sought,—
Their mother and their brother: evening brought
A son and father to the lonesome place
That saw the last night's scene; and there, her face
Laid earthward, speaking dumbly to her heart,
They found her, as the hands that tore apart
The son and mother flung her from their chief,
And with one cry her heart had spent its grief.
They bore the cold earth that so late did move
In household happiness and works of love,
Unto their rude home, lonely now; and he
Who laid her there, from present misery
Did turn away, half-blinded by his tears,
To see with inward eye the far-off years
When Swedish toil was light and hedgerows sweet;
Where, when the toil was o'er, he used to meet
A simple gray-eyed girl, with sun-browned face,
Whose love had won his heart, and whose sweet grace
Had blessed for threescore years his humble life.
So Jacob Eibsen mourned his faithful wife,
And found the world no home when she was gone.
The days that seemed of old to hurry on
Now dragged their course, and marred the wish that grew,
When first he saw her grave, to sleep there too.
But though to him, whose yearning hope outran
The steady motion of the seasons' plan,
The years were slow in coming, still their pace
With awful sureness left a solemn trace,
Like dust that settles on an open page,
On Jacob Eibsen's head, bent down with age;
And ere twice more the soothing rains had come,
The old man had his wish, and to his home,
Beneath the strange trees' shadow where she lay,
They bore the rude-made bier; and from that day,
When round the parent graves the brethren stood,
Their new-made homesteads were no longer good,
But marked they seemed by some o'erhanging dread
That linked the living with the dreamless dead.
Grown silent with the woods the men were all,
But words were needed not to note the pall
That each one knew hung o'er them. Duties now,
With straying herds or swinging scythe, or plow,
Were cheerless tasks: like men they were who wrought
A weary toil that no repayment brought.
And when the seasons came and went, and still
The pall was hanging o'er them, with one will
They yoked their oxen teams and piled the loads
Of gear selected for the aimless roads
That nature opens through the bush; and when
The train was ready, women-folk and men
Went over to the graves and wept and prayed,
Then rose and turned away, but still delayed
Ere leaving there forever those poor mounds.
The next bright sunrise heard the teamsters' sounds
Of voice and whip a long day's march away;
And wider still the space grew day by day
From their old resting-place: the trackless wood
Still led them on with promises of good,
As when the mirage leads a thirsty band
With palm-tree visions o'er the arid sand.
I Snow not where they settled down at last:
Their lives and homes from out my tale have passed,
And left me naught, or seeming naught, to trace
But cheerless record of the empty place,
Where long unseen the palm-thatched cabins stood,
And made more lonely still the lonesome wood.
Long lives of men passed over; but the years
That line men's faces with hard cares and tears,
Pass lightly o'er a forest, leaving there
No wreck of young disease or old despair;
For trees are mightier than men, and Time,
When left by cunning Sin and dark-browed Crime
To work alone, hath ever gentle mood.
Unchanged the pillars and the arches stood,
But shadowed taller vistas; and the earth,
That takes and gives the ceaseless death and birth,
Was blooming still, as once it bloomed before
When sea-tired eyes beheld the beauteous shore.
But man's best work is weak, nor stands nor grows
Like Nature's simplest. Every breeze that blows,
Health-bearing to the forest, plays its part
In hasting graveward all his humble art.
Beneath the trees the cabins still remained,
By all the changing seasons seared and stained;
Grown old and weirdlike, as the folk might grow
In such a place, who left them long ago.
Men came, and wondering found the work of men
Where they had deemed them first. The savage then
Heard through the wood the axe's death watch stroke
For him and all his people: odorous smoke
Of burning sandal rose where white men dwelt,
Around the huts; but they had shuddering felt
The weird, forbidden aspect of the spot,
And left the place untouched to mold and rot.
The woods grew blithe with labor: all around,
From point to point, was heard the hollow sound,
The solemn, far-off clicking on the ear
That marks the presence of the pioneer.
And children came like flowers to bless the toil
That reaped rich fruitage from the virgin soil;
And through, the woods they wandered fresh and fair,
To feast on all the beauties blooming there.
But always did they shun the spot where grew,
From earth once tilled, the flowers of rarest hue.
There wheat grown wild in rank luxuriance spread,
And fruits grown native; but a sudden tread
Or bramble's fall would foul goanos wake,
Or start the chilling rustle of the snake;
And diamond eyes of these and thousand more
Gleamed out from ruined roof and wall and floor.
The new-come people, they whose axes rung
Throughout the forest, spoke the English tongue,
And never knew that men of other race
From Europe's fields had settled in the place;
But deemed these huts were built some long-past day
By lonely seamen who were cast away
And thrown upon the coast, who there had built
Their homes, and lived until some woe or guilt
Was bred among them, and they fled the sight
Of scenes that held a horror to the light.
But while they thought such things, the spell that hung,
And cast its shadow o'er the place, was strung
To utmost tension that a breath would break,
And show between the rifts the deep blue lake
Of blessed peace,—as next to sorrow lies
A stretch of rest, rewarding hopeful eyes.
And while such things bethought this 'new-come folk,
That breath was breathed, the olden spell was broke:
From far away within the unknown land,
O'er belts of forest and o'er wastes of sand,
A cry came thrilling, like a cry of pain
From suffering heart and half-awakened brain;
As one thought dead who wakes within the tomb,
And, reaching, cries for sunshine in the gloom.
In that strange country's heart, whence comes the breath
Of hot disease and pestilential death,
Lie leagues of wooded swamp, that from the hills
Seem stretching meadows; but the flood that fills
Those valley-basins has the hue of ink,
And dismal doorways open on the brink,
Beneath the gnarled arms of trees that grow
All leafless to the top, from roots below
The Lethe flood; and he who enters there
Beneath their screen sees rising, ghastly-bare,
Like mammoth bones within a charnel dark,
The white and ragged stems of paper-bark,
That drip down moisture with a ceaseless drip,
From lines that run like cordage of a ship;
For myriad creepers struggle to the light,
And twine and mat o'erhead in murderous fight
For life and sunshine, like another race
That wars on brethren for the highest place.
Between the water and the matted screen,
The baldhead vultures, two and two, are seen
In dismal grandeur, with revolting face
Of foul grotesque, like spirits of the place;
And now and then a spear-shaped wave goes by,
Its apex glittering with an evil eye
That sets above its enemy and prey,
As from the wave in treacherous, slimy way
The black snake winds, and strikes the bestial bird,
Whose shriek-like wailing on the hills is heard.
Beyond this circling swamp, a circling waste
Of baked and barren desert land is placed,—
A land of awful grayness, wild and stark,
Where man will never leave a deeper mark,
On leagues of fissured clay and scorching stones,
Than may be printed there by bleaching bones.
Within this belt, that keeps a savage guard,
As round a treasure sleeps a dragon ward,
A forest stretches far of precious trees;
Whence came, one day, an odor-laden breeze
Of jam-wood bruised, and sandal sweet in smoke.
For there long dwelt a numerous native folk
In that heart-garden of the continent,—
There human lives with aims and fears were spent,
And marked by love and hate and peace and pain,
And hearts well-filled and hearts athirst for gain,
And lips that clung, and faces bowed in shame;
For, wild or polished, man is still the same,
And loves and hates and envies in the wood,
With spear and boka and with manners rude,
As loves and hates his brother shorn and sleek,
Who learns by lifelong practice how to speak
With oily tongue, while in his heart below
Lies rankling poison that he dare not show.
Afar from all new ways this people dwelt,
And knew no books, and to no God had knelt,
And had no codes to rule them writ in blood;
But savage, selfish, nomad-lived and rude,
With human passions fierce from unrestraint,
And free as their loose limbs; with every taint
That earth can give to that which God has given;
Their nearest glimpse of Him, o'er-arching heaven,
Where dwelt the giver and preserver,—Light,
Who daily slew and still was slain by Night.
A savage people they, and prone to strife;
Yet men grown weak with years had spent a life
Of peace unbroken, and their sires, long dead,
Had equal lives of peace unbroken led.
It was no statute's bond or coward fear
Of retribution kept the shivering spear
In all those years from fratricidal sheath;
But one it was who ruled them,—one whom Death
Had passed as if he saw not,—one whose word
Through all that lovely central land was heard
And bowed to, as of yore the people bent,
In desert wanderings, to a leader sent
To guide and guard them to a promised land.
O'er all the Austral tribes he held command,—
A man unlike them and not of their race,
A man of flowing hair and pallid face,
A man who strove by no deft juggler's art
To keep his kingdom in the people's heart,
Nor held his place by feats of brutal might
Or showy skill, to please the savage sight;
But one who ruled them as a King of kings,
A man above, not of them,—one who brings,
To prove his kingship to the low and high,
The inborn power of the regal eye.
Like him of Sinai with the stones of law,
Whose people almost worshiped when they saw
The veiled face whereon God's glory burned;
But yet who, mutable as water, turned
From that veiled ruler who had talked with God,
To make themselves an idol from a clod:
So turned one day this savage Austral race
Against their monarch with the pallid face.
The young men knew him not, the old had heard
In far-off days, from men grown old, a word
That dimly lighted up the mystic choice
Of this their alien King,—how once a voice
Was heard by their own monarch calling clear,
And leading onward, where as on a bier
A dead child lay upon a woman's knees;
Whom when the old King saw, like one who sees
Far through the mist of common life, he spoke
And touched him with the Pearl, and he awoke,
And from that day the people owned his right
To wear the Pearl and rule them, when the light
Had left their old King's eyes. But now, they said,
The men who owned that right were too long dead;
And they were young and strong and held their spears
In idle resting through this white King's fears,
Who still would live to rule them till they changed
Their men to puling women, and estranged
To Austral hands the spear and coila grew.
And so they rose against him, and they slew
The white-haired men who raised their hands to warn,
And true to ancient trust in warning fell,
While o'er them rang the fierce revolters' yell.
Then midst the dead uprose the King in scorn,
Like some strong, hunted thing that stands at bay
To win a brief but desperate delay.
A moment thus, and those within the ring
'Gan backward press from their unarmed King,
Who swept his hand as though he bade them fly,
And brave no more the anger of his eye.
The heaving crowd grew still before that face,
And watched him take the ancient carven case,
And ope it there, and take the Pearl and stand
As once before he stood, with upraised hand
And upturned eyes of inward worshiping.
Awe-struck and dumb, once more they owned him King,
And humbly crouched before him; when a sound,
A whirring sound that thrilled them, passed o'erhead,
And with a spring they rose. a spear had sped
With aim unerring and with deathful might,
And split the awful center of their sight,—
The upraised Pearl! A moment there it shone
Before the spear-point,—then forever gone!
* * * * * * *
The spell that long the ruined huts did shroud
Was rent and scattered, as a hanging cloud
In moveless air is torn and blown away
By sudden gust uprising; and one day
When evening's lengthened shadows came to hush
The children's voices, and the awful bush
Was lapt in somber stillness, and on high
Above the arches stretched the frescoed sky,—
When all the scene such chilling aspect wore
As marked one other night long years before,
When through the reaching trees the moonlight shone
Upon a prostrate form, and o'er it one
With kingly gesture. Now the light is shed
No more on youthful brow and daring head,
But on a man grown weirdly old, whose face
Keeps turning ever to some new-found place
That rises up before him like a dream;
And not unlike a dreamer does he seem,
Who might have slept, unheeding time's sure flow,
And woke to find a world he does not know.
His long white hair flows o'er a form low bowed
By wondrous weight of years: he speaks aloud
In garbled Swedish words, with piteous wist,
As long-lost objects rise through memory's mist.
Again and once again his pace he stays,
As crowding images of other days
Loom up before him dimly, and he sees
A vague, forgotten friendship in the trees
That reach their arms in welcome; but agen
These olden glimpses vanish, and dark men
Are round him, dumb and crouching, and he stands
With guttural sentences and upraised hands,
That hold a carven case,—but empty now,
Which makes more pitiful the aged brow
Full-turned to those tall tuads that did hear
A son's fierce mandate and a mother's prayer.
Ah, God! what memories can live of these,
Save only with the half-immortal trees
That saw the death of one, the other lost!
The weird-like figure now the bush has crost
And stands within the ring, and turns and moans,
With arms out-reaching and heart-piercing tones,
And groping hands, as one a long time blind
Who sees a glimmering light on eye and mind.
From tree to sky he turns, from sky to earth,
And gasps as one to whom a second birth
Of wondrous meaning is an instant shown.
Who is this wreck of years, who all alone,
In savage raiment and with words unknown,
Bows down like some poor penitent who fears
The wrath of God provoked?—this man who hears
Around him now, wide circling through the wood,
The breathing stillness of a multitude?
Who catches dimly through his straining sight
The misty vision of an impious rite?
Who hears from one a cry that rends his heart,
And feels that loving arms are torn apart,
And by his mandate fiercely thrust aside?
Who is this one who crouches where she died,
With face laid earthward as her face was laid,
And prays for her as she for him once prayed?
'Tis Jacob Eibsen, Jacob Eibsen's son,
Whose occult life and mystic rule are done,
And passed away the memory from his brain.
'Tis Jacob Eibsen, who has come again
To roam the woods, and see the mournful gleams
That flash and linger of his old-time dreams.
The morning found him where he sank to rest
Within the mystic circle: on his breast
With withered hands, as to the dearest place,
He held and pressed the empty carven case.
That day he sought the dwellings of his folk;
And when he found them, once again there broke
The far-off light upon him, and he cried
From that wrecked cabin threshold for a guide
To lead him, old and weary, to his own.
And surely some kind spirit heard his moan,
And led him to the graves where they were laid.
The evening found him in the tuads' shade,
And like a child at work upon the spot
Where they were sleeping, though he knew it not.
Next day the children found him, and they gazed
In fear at first, for they were sore amazed
To see a man so old they never knew,
Whose garb was savage, and whose white hair grew
And flowed upon his shoulders; but their awe
Was changed to love and pity when they saw
The simple work he wrought at; and they came
And gathered flowers for him, and asked his name,
And laughed at his strange language; and he smiled
To hear them laugh, as though himself a child.
Ere that brief day was o'er, from far and near
The children gathered, wondering; and though fear
Of scenes a long time shunned at first restrained,
The spell was broken, and soon naught remained
But gladsome features,, where of old was dearth
Of happy things and cheery sounds of mirth.
The lizards fled, the snakes and bright-eyed things
Found other homes, where childhood never sings;
And all because poor Jacob, old and wild,
White-haired and fur-clad, was himself a child.
Each day he lived amid these scenes, his ear
Heard far-off voices growing still more clear;
And that dim light that first he saw in gleams
Now left him only in his troubled dreams.
From far away the children loved to come
And play and work with Jacob at his home.
He learned their simple words with childish lip,
And told them often of a white-sailed ship
That sailed across a mighty sea, and found
A beauteous harbor, all encircled round
With flowers and tall green trees; but when they asked
What did the shipmen then, his mind was tasked
Beyond its strength, and Jacob shook his head,
And with them laughed, for all he knew was said.
The brawny sawyers often ceased their toil,
As Jacob with the children passed, to smile
With rugged pity on their simple play;
Then, gazing after the glad group, would say
How strange it was to see that snowy hair
And time-worn figure with the children fair.
So Jacob Eibsen lived through years of joy,—
A patriarch in age, in heart a boy.
Unto the last he told them of the sea
And white-sailed ship; and ever lovingly,
Unto the end, the garden he had made
He tended daily, 'neath the tuads' shade.
But one bright morning, when the children came
And roused the echoes calling Jacob's name,
The echoes only answered back the sound.
They sought within the huts, but nothing found
Save loneliness and shadow, falling chill
On every sunny searcher: boding ill,
They tried each well-known haunt, and every throat
Sent far abroad the bush man's cooing note.
But all in vain their searching: twilight fell,
And sent them home their sorrowing tale to tell.
That night their elders formed a torch-lit chain
To sweep the gloomy bush; and not in vain,—
For when the moon at midnight hung o'erhead,
The weary searchers found poor Jacob—dead!
He lay within the tuad ring, his face
Laid earthward on his hands; and all the place
Was dim with shadow where the people stood.
And as they gathered there, the circling wood
Seemed filled with awful whisperings, and stirred
By things unseen; and every bushman heard,
From where the corse lay plain within their sight,
A woman's heart-wail rising on the night.
For over all the darkness and the fear
That marked his life from childhood, shining clear,
An arch, like God's bright rainbow, stretched above,
And joined the first and last,—his mother's love.
They dug a grave beneath the tuads' shade,
Where all unknown to them the bones were laid
Of Jacob's kindred; and a prayer was said
In earnest sorrow for the unknown dead,
Hound which the children grouped.
Upon the breast
The hands were folded in eternal rest;
But still they held, as dearest to that place
Where life last throbbed, the empty carven case.
Canto the Sixteenth
The antique Persians taught three useful things,
To draw the bow, to ride, and speak the truth.
This was the mode of Cyrus, best of kings --
A mode adopted since by modern youth.
Bows have they, generally with two strings;
Horses they ride without remorse or ruth;
At speaking truth perhaps they are less clever,
But draw the long bow better now than ever.
The cause of this effect, or this defect, --
"For this effect defective comes by cause," --
Is what I have not leisure to inspect;
But this I must say in my own applause,
Of all the Muses that I recollect,
Whate'er may be her follies or her flaws
In some things, mine's beyond all contradiction
The most sincere that ever dealt in fiction.
And as she treats all things, and ne'er retreats
From any thing, this epic will contain
A wilderness of the most rare conceits,
Which you might elsewhere hope to find in vain.
'T is true there be some bitters with the sweets,
Yet mix'd so slightly, that you can't complain,
But wonder they so few are, since my tale is
"De rebus cunctis et quibusdam aliis."
But of all truths which she has told, the most
True is that which she is about to tell.
I said it was a story of a ghost --
What then? I only know it so befell.
Have you explored the limits of the coast,
Where all the dwellers of the earth must dwell?
'T is time to strike such puny doubters dumb as
The sceptics who would not believe Columbus.
Some people would impose now with authority,
Turpin's or Monmouth Geoffry's Chronicle;
Men whose historical superiority
Is always greatest at a miracle.
But Saint Augustine has the great priority,
Who bids all men believe the impossible,
Because 't is so. Who nibble, scribble, quibble, he
Quiets at once with "quia impossibile."
And therefore, mortals, cavil not at all;
Believe: -- if 't is improbable you must,
And if it is impossible, you shall:
'T is always best to take things upon trust.
I do not speak profanely, to recall
Those holier mysteries which the wise and just
Receive as gospel, and which grow more rooted,
As all truths must, the more they are disputed:
I merely mean to say what Johnson said,
That in the course of some six thousand years,
All nations have believed that from the dead
A visitant at intervals appears;
And what is strangest upon this strange head,
Is, that whatever bar the reason rears
'Gainst such belief, there's something stronger still
In its behalf, let those deny who will.
The dinner and the soirée too were done,
The supper too discuss'd, the dames admired,
The banqueteers had dropp'd off one by one --
The song was silent, and the dance expired:
The last thin petticoats were vanish'd, gone
Like fleecy Clouds into the sky retired,
And nothing brighter gleam'd through the saloon
Than dying tapers -- and the peeping moon.
The evaporation of a joyous day
Is like the last glass of champagne, without
The foam which made its virgin bumper gay;
Or like a system coupled with a doubt;
Or like a soda bottle when its spray
Has sparkled and let half its spirit out;
Or like a billow left by storms behind,
Without the animation of the wind;
Or like an opiate, which brings troubled rest,
Or none; or like -- like nothing that I know
Except itself; -- such is the human breast;
A thing, of which similitudes can show
No real likeness, -- like the old Tyrian vest
Dyed purple, none at present can tell how,
If from a shell-fish or from cochineal.
So perish every tyrant's robe piece-meal!
But next to dressing for a rout or ball,
Undressing is a woe; our robe de chambre
May sit like that of Nessus, and recall
Thoughts quite as yellow, but less clear than amber.
Titus exclaim'd, "I've lost a day!" Of all
The nights and days most people can remember
(I have had of both, some not to be disdain'd),
I wish they 'd state how many they have gain'd.
And Juan, on retiring for the night,
Felt restless, and perplex'd, and compromised:
He thought Aurora Raby's eyes more bright
Than Adeline (such is advice) advised;
If he had known exactly his own plight,
He probably would have philosophised:
A great resource to all, and ne'er denied
Till wanted; therefore Juan only sigh'd.
He sigh'd; -- the next resource is the full moon,
Where all sighs are deposited; and now
It happen'd luckily, the chaste orb shone
As clear as such a climate will allow;
And Juan's mind was in the proper tone
To hail her with the apostrophe -- "O thou!"
Of amatory egotism the Tuism,
Which further to explain would be a truism.
But lover, poet, or astronomer,
Shepherd, or swain, whoever may behold,
Feel some abstraction when they gaze on her:
Great thoughts we catch from thence (besides a cold
Sometimes, unless my feelings rather err);
Deep secrets to her rolling light are told;
The ocean's tides and mortals' brains she sways,
And also hearts, if there be truth in lays.
Juan felt somewhat pensive, and disposed
For contemplation rather than his pillow:
The Gothic chamber, where he was enclosed,
Let in the rippling sound of the lake's billow,
With all the mystery by midnight caused;
Below his window waved (of course) a willow;
And he stood gazing out on the cascade
That flash'd and after darken'd in the shade.
Upon his table or his toilet, -- which
Of these is not exactly ascertain'd
(I state this, for I am cautious to a pitch
Of nicety, where a fact is to be gain'd), --
A lamp burn'd high, while he leant from a niche,
Where many a Gothic ornament remain'd,
In chisell'd stone and painted glass, and all
That time has left our fathers of their hall.
Then, as the night was clear though cold, he threw
His chamber door wide open -- and went forth
Into a gallery, of a sombre hue,
Long, furnish'd with old pictures of great worth,
Of knights and dames heroic and chaste too,
As doubtless should be people of high birth.
But by dim lights the portraits of the dead
Have something ghastly, desolate, and dread.
The forms of the grim knight and pictured saint
Look living in the moon; and as you turn
Backward and forward to the echoes faint
Of your own footsteps -- voices from the urn
Appear to wake, and shadows wild and quaint
Start from the frames which fence their aspects stern,
As if to ask how you can dare to keep
A vigil there, where all but death should sleep.
And the pale smile of beauties in the grave,
The charms of other days, in starlight gleams,
Glimmer on high; their buried locks still wave
Along the canvas; their eyes glance like dreams
On ours, or spars within some dusky cave,
But death is imaged in their shadowy beams.
A picture is the past; even ere its frame
Be gilt, who sate hath ceased to be the same.
As Juan mused on mutability,
Or on his mistress -- terms synonymous --
No sound except the echo of his sigh
Or step ran sadly through that antique house;
When suddenly he heard, or thought so, nigh,
A supernatural agent -- or a mouse,
Whose little nibbling rustle will embarrass
Most people as it plays along the arras.
It was no mouse, but lo! a monk, array'd
In cowl and beads and dusky garb, appear'd,
Now in the moonlight, and now lapsed in shade,
With steps that trod as heavy, yet unheard;
His garments only a slight murmur made;
He moved as shadowy as the sisters weird,
But slowly; and as he pass'd Juan by,
Glanced, without pausing, on him a bright eye.
Juan was petrified; he had heard a hint
Of such a spirit in these halls of old,
But thought, like most men, there was nothing in 't
Beyond the rumour which such spots unfold,
Coin'd from surviving superstition's mint,
Which passes ghosts in currency like gold,
But rarely seen, like gold compared with paper.
And did he see this? or was it a vapour?
Once, twice, thrice pass'd, repass'd -- the thing of air,
Or earth beneath, or heaven, or t' other place;
And Juan gazed upon it with a stare,
Yet could not speak or move; but, on its base
As stands a statue, stood: he felt his hair
Twine like a knot of snakes around his face;
He tax'd his tongue for words, which were not granted,
To ask the reverend person what he wanted.
The third time, after a still longer pause,
The shadow pass'd away -- but where? the hall
Was long, and thus far there was no great cause
To think his vanishing unnatural:
Doors there were many, through which, by the laws
Of physics, bodies whether short or tall
Might come or go; but Juan could not state
Through which the spectre seem'd to evaporate.
He stood -- how long he knew not, but it seem'd
An age -- expectant, powerless, with his eyes
Strain'd on the spot where first the figure gleam'd;
Then by degrees recall'd his energies,
And would have pass'd the whole off as a dream,
But could not wake; he was, he did surmise,
Waking already, and return'd at length
Back to his chamber, shorn of half his strength.
All there was as he left it: still his taper
Burnt, and not blue, as modest tapers use,
Receiving sprites with sympathetic vapour;
He rubb'd his eyes, and they did not refuse
Their office; he took up an old newspaper;
The paper was right easy to peruse;
He read an article the king attacking,
And a long eulogy of "patent blacking."
This savour'd of this world; but his hand shook --
He shut his door, and after having read
A paragraph, I think about Horne Tooke,
Undrest, and rather slowly went to bed.
There, couch'd all snugly on his pillow's nook,
With what he had seen his phantasy he fed;
And though it was no opiate, slumber crept
Upon him by degrees, and so he slept.
He woke betimes; and, as may be supposed,
Ponder'd upon his visitant or vision,
And whether it ought not to be disclosed,
At risk of being quizz'd for superstition.
The more he thought, the more his mind was posed:
In the mean time, his valet, whose precision
Was great, because his master brook'd no less,
Knock'd to inform him it was time to dress.
He dress'd; and like young people he was wont
To take some trouble with his toilet, but
This morning rather spent less time upon 't;
Aside his very mirror soon was put;
His curls fell negligently o'er his front,
His clothes were not curb'd to their usual cut,
His very neckcloth's Gordian knot was tied
Almost an hair's breadth too much on one side.
And when he walk'd down into the saloon,
He sate him pensive o'er a dish of tea,
Which he perhaps had not discover'd soon,
Had it not happen'd scalding hot to be,
Which made him have recourse unto his spoon;
So much distrait he was, that all could see
That something was the matter -- Adeline
The first -- but what she could not well divine.
She look'd, and saw him pale, and turn'd as pale
Herself; then hastily look'd down, and mutter'd
Something, but what's not stated in my tale.
Lord Henry said his muffin was ill butter'd;
The Duchess of Fitz-Fulke play'd with her veil,
And look'd at Juan hard, but nothing utter'd.
Aurora Raby with her large dark eyes
Survey'd him with a kind of calm surprise.
But seeing him all cold and silent still,
And everybody wondering more or less,
Fair Adeline enquired, "If he were ill?"
He started, and said, "Yes -- no -- rather -- yes."
The family physician had great skill,
And being present, now began to express
His readiness to feel his pulse and tell
The cause, but Juan said, "He was quite well."
"Quite well; yes, -- no." -- These answers were mysterious,
And yet his looks appear'd to sanction both,
However they might savour of delirious;
Something like illness of a sudden growth
Weigh'd on his spirit, though by no means serious:
But for the rest, as he himself seem'd loth
To state the case, it might be ta'en for granted
It was not the physician that he wanted.
Lord Henry, who had now discuss'd his chocolate,
Also the muffin whereof he complain'd,
Said, Juan had not got his usual look elate,
At which he marvell'd, since it had not rain'd;
Then ask'd her Grace what news were of the duke of late?
Her Grace replied, his Grace was rather pain'd
With some slight, light, hereditary twinges
Of gout, which rusts aristocratic hinges.
Then Henry turn'd to Juan, and address'd
A few words of condolence on his state:
"You look," quoth he, "as if you had had your rest
Broke in upon by the Black Friar of late."
"What friar?" said Juan; and he did his best
To put the question with an air sedate,
Or careless; but the effort was not valid
To hinder him from growing still more pallid.
"Oh! have you never heard of the Black Friar?
The spirit of these walls?" -- "In truth not I."
"Why Fame -- but Fame you know's sometimes a liar --
Tells an odd story, of which by and by:
Whether with time the spectre has grown shyer,
Or that our sires had a more gifted eye
For such sights, though the tale is half believed,
The friar of late has not been oft perceived.
"The last time was -- " -- "I pray," said Adeline --
(Who watch'd the changes of Don Juan's brow,
And from its context thought she could divine
Connexions stronger then he chose to avow
With this same legend) -- "if you but design
To jest, you'll choose some other theme just now,
Because the present tale has oft been told,
And is not much improved by growing old."
"Jest!" quoth Milor; "why, Adeline, you know
That we ourselves -- 't was in the honey-moon --
"Saw --" -- "Well, no matter. t was so long ago;
But, come, I'll set your story to a tune."
Graceful as Dian, when she draws her bow,
She seized her harp, whose strings were kindled soon
As touch'd, and plaintively began to play
The air of "'T was a Friar of Orders Gray."
"But add the words," cried Henry, "which you made;
For Adeline is half a poetess,"
Turning round to the rest, he smiling said.
Of course the others could not but express
In courtesy their wish to see display'd
By one three talents, for there were no less --
The voice, the words, the harper's skill, at once
Could hardly be united by a dunce.
After some fascinating hesitation, --
The charming of these charmers, who seem bound,
I can't tell why, to this dissimulation, --
Fair Adeline, with eyes fix'd on the ground
At first, then kindling into animation,
Added her sweet voice to the lyric sound,
And sang with much simplicity, -- a merit
Not the less precious, that we seldom hear it.
Beware! beware! of the Black Friar,
Who sitteth by Norman stone,
For he mutters his prayer in the midnight air,
And his mass of the days that are gone.
When the Lord of the Hill, Amundeville,
Made Norman Church his prey,
And expell'd the friars, one friar still
Would not be driven away.
Though he came in his might, with King Henry's right,
To turn church lands to lay,
With sword in hand, and torch to light
Their walls, if they said nay;
A monk remain'd, unchased, unchain'd,
And he did not seem form'd of clay,
For he 's seen in the porch, and he's seen in the church,
Though he is not seen by day.
And whether for good, or whether for ill,
It is not mine to say;
But still with the house of Amundeville
He abideth night and day.
By the marriage-bed of their lords, 't is said,
He flits on the bridal eve;
And 't is held as faith, to their bed of death
He comes -- but not to grieve.
When an heir is born, he's heard to mourn,
And when aught is to befall
That ancient line, in the "we moonshine
He walks from hall to hall.
His form you may trace, but not his face,
'T is shadow'd by his cowl;
But his eyes may be seen from the folds between,
And they seem of a parted soul.
But beware! beware! of the Black Friar,
He still retains his sway,
For he is yet the church's heir
Whoever may be the lay.
Amundeville is lord by day,
But the monk is lord by night;
Nor wine nor wassail could raise a vassal
To question that friar's right.
Say nought to him as he walks the hall,
And he'll say nought to you;
He sweeps along in his dusky pall,
As o'er the grass the dew.
Then grammercy! for the Black Friar;
Heaven sain him, fair or foul!
And whatsoe'er may be his prayer,
Let ours be for his soul.
The lady's voice ceased, and the thrilling wires
Died from the touch that kindled them to sound;
And the pause follow'd, which when song expires
Pervades a moment those who listen round;
And then of course the circle much admires,
Nor less applauds, as in politeness bound,
The tones, the feeling, and the execution,
To the performer's diffident confusion.
Fair Adeline, though in a careless way,
As if she rated such accomplishment
As the mere pastime of an idle day,
Pursued an instant for her own content,
Would now and then as 't were without display,
Yet with display in fact, at times relent
To such performances with haughty smile,
To show she could, if it were worth her while.
Now this (but we will whisper it aside)
Was -- pardon the pedantic illustration --
Trampling on Plato's pride with greater pride,
As did the Cynic on some like occasion;
Deeming the sage would be much mortified,
Or thrown into a philosophic passion,
For a spoil'd carpet -- but the "Attic Bee"
Was much consoled by his own repartee.
Thus Adeline would throw into the shade
(By doing easily, whene'er she chose,
What dilettanti do with vast parade)
Their sort of half profession; for it grows
To something like this when too oft display'd;
And that it is so everybody knows
Who have heard Miss That or This, or Lady T'other,
Show off -- to please their company or mother.
Oh! the long evenings of duets and trios!
The admirations and the speculations;
The "Mamma Mia's!" and the "Amor Mio's!"
The "Tanti palpiti's" on such occasions:
The "Lasciami's," and quavering "Addio's!"
Amongst our own most musical of nations;
With "Tu mi chamas's" from Portingale,
To soothe our ears, lest Italy should fail.
In Babylon's bravuras -- as the home
Heart-ballads of Green Erin or Gray Highlands,
That bring Lochaber back to eyes that roam
O'er far Atlantic continents or islands,
The calentures of music which o'ercome
All mountaineers with dreams that they are nigh lands,
No more to be beheld but in such visions --
Was Adeline well versed, as compositions.
She also had a twilight tinge of "Blue,"
Could write rhymes, and compose more than she wrote,
Made epigrams occasionally too
Upon her friends, as everybody ought.
But still from that sublimer azure hue,
So much the present dye, she was remote;
Was weak enough to deem Pope a great poet,
And what was worse, was not ashamed to show it.
Aurora -- since we are touching upon taste,
Which now-a-days is the thermometer
By whose degrees all characters are class'd --
Was more Shakspearian, if I do not err.
The worlds beyond this world's perplexing waste
Had more of her existence, for in her
There was a depth of feeling to embrace
Thoughts, boundless, deep, but silent too as Space.
Not so her gracious, graceful, graceless Grace,
The full-grown Hebe of Fitz-Fulke, whose mind,
If she had any, was upon her face,
And that was of a fascinating kind.
A little turn for mischief you might trace
Also thereon, -- but that's not much; we find
Few females without some such gentle leaven,
For fear we should suppose us quite in heaven.
I have not heard she was at all poetic,
Though once she was seen reading the Bath Guide,
And Hayley's Triumphs, which she deem'd pathetic,
Because she said her temper had been tried
So much, the bard had really been prophetic
Of what she had gone through with -- since a bride.
But of all verse, what most ensured her praise
Were sonnets to herself, or bouts rimés.
'T were difficult to say what was the object
Of Adeline, in bringing this same lay
To bear on what appear'd to her the subject
Of Juan's nervous feelings on that day.
Perhaps she merely had the simple project
To laugh him out of his supposed dismay;
Perhaps she might wish to confirm him in it,
Though why I cannot say -- at least this minute.
But so far the immediate effect
Was to restore him to his self-propriety,
A thing quite necessary to the elect,
Who wish to take the tone of their society:
In which you cannot be too circumspect,
Whether the mode be persiflage or piety,
But wear the newest mantle of hypocrisy,
On pain of much displeasing the gynocracy.
And therefore Juan now began to rally
His spirits, and without more explanation
To jest upon such themes in many a sally.
Her Grace, too, also seized the same occasion,
With various similar remarks to tally,
But wish'd for a still more detail'd narration
Of this same mystic friar's curious doings,
About the present family's deaths and wooings.
Of these few could say more than has been said;
They pass'd as such things do, for superstition
With some, while others, who had more in dread
The theme, half credited the strange tradition;
And much was talk'd on all sides on that head:
But Juan, when cross-question'd on the vision,
Which some supposed (though he had not avow'd it)
Had stirr'd him, answer'd in a way to cloud it.
And then, the mid-day having worn to one,
The company prepared to separate;
Some to their several pastimes, or to none,
Some wondering 't was so early, some so late.
There was a goodly match too, to be run
Between some greyhounds on my lord's estate,
And a young race-horse of old pedigree
Match'd for the spring, whom several went to see.
There was a picture-dealer who had brought
A special Titian, warranted original,
So precious that it was not to be bought,
Though princes the possessor were besieging all.
The king himself had cheapen'd it, but thought
The civil list he deigns to accept (obliging all
His subjects by his gracious acceptation)
Too scanty, in these times of low taxation.
But as Lord Henry was a connoisseur, --
The friend of artists, if not arts, -- the owner,
With motives the most classical and pure,
So that he would have been the very donor,
Rather than seller, had his wants been fewer,
So much he deem'd his patronage an honour,
Had brought the capo d'opera, not for sale,
But for his judgment -- never known to fail.
There was a modern Goth, I mean a Gothic
Bricklayer of Babel, call'd an architect,
Brought to survey these grey walls, which though so thick,
Might have from time acquired some slight defect;
Who after rummaging the Abbey through thick
And thin, produced a plan whereby to erect
New buildings of correctest conformation,
And throw down old -- which he call'd restoration.
The cost would be a trifle -- an "old song,"
Set to some thousands ('t is the usual burden
Of that same tune, when people hum it long) --
The price would speedily repay its worth in
An edifice no less sublime than strong,
By which Lord Henry's good taste would go forth in
Its glory, through all ages shining sunny,
For Gothic daring shown in English money.
There were two lawyers busy on a mortgage
Lord Henry wish'd to raise for a new purchase;
Also a lawsuit upon tenures burgage,
And one on tithes, which sure are Discord's torches,
Kindling Religion till she throws down her gage,
"Untying" squires "to fight against the churches;"
There was a prize ox, a prize pig, and ploughman,
For Henry was a sort of Sabine showman.
There were two poachers caught in a steel trap,
Ready for gaol, their place of convalescence;
There was a country girl in a close cap
And scarlet cloak (I hate the sight to see, since --
Since -- since -- in youth, I had the sad mishap --
But luckily I have paid few parish fees since):
That scarlet cloak, alas! unclosed with rigour,
Presents the problem of a double figure.
A reel within a bottle is a mystery,
One can't tell how it e'er got in or out;
Therefore the present piece of natural history
I leave to those who are fond of solving doubt;
And merely state, though not for the consistory,
Lord Henry was a justice, and that Scout
The constable, beneath a warrant's banner,
Had bagg'd this poacher upon Nature's manor.
Now justices of peace must judge all pieces
Of mischief of all kinds, and keep the game
And morals of the country from caprices
Of those who have not a license for the same;
And of all things, excepting tithes and leases,
Perhaps these are most difficult to tame:
Preserving partridges and pretty wenches
Are puzzles to the most precautious benches.
The present culprit was extremely pale,
Pale as if painted so; her cheek being red
By nature, as in higher dames less hale
'T is white, at least when they just rise from bed.
Perhaps she was ashamed of seeming frail,
Poor soul! for she was country born and bred,
And knew no better in her immorality
Than to wax white -- for blushes are for quality.
Her black, bright, downcast, yet espiègle eye,
Had gather'd a large tear into its corner,
Which the poor thing at times essay'd to dry,
For she was not a sentimental mourner
Parading all her sensibility,
Nor insolent enough to scorn the scorner,
But stood in trembling, patient tribulation,
To be call'd up for her examination.
Of course these groups were scatter'd here and there,
Not nigh the gay saloon of ladies gent.
The lawyers in the study; and in air
The prize pig, ploughman, poachers; the men sent
From town, viz., architect and dealer, were
Both busy (as a general in his tent
Writing despatches) in their several stations,
Exulting in their brilliant lucubrations.
But this poor girl was left in the great hall,
While Scout, the parish guardian of the frail,
Discuss'd (he hated beer yclept the "small")
A mighty mug of moral double ale.
She waited until justice could recall
Its kind attentions to their proper pale,
To name a thing in nomenclature rather
Perplexing for most virgins -- a child's father.
You see here was enough of occupation
For the Lord Henry, link'd with dogs and horses.
There was much bustle too, and preparation
Below stairs on the score of second courses;
Because, as suits their rank and situation,
Those who in counties have great land resources
Have "Public days," when all men may carouse,
Though not exactly what's call'd "open house."
But once a week or fortnight, uninvited
(Thus we translate a general invitation),
All country gentlemen, esquired or knighted,
May drop in without cards, and take their station
At the full board, and sit alike delighted
With fashionable wines and conversation;
And, as the isthmus of the grand connection,
Talk o'er themselves the past and next election.
Lord Henry was a great electioneerer,
Burrowing for boroughs like a rat or rabbit;
But county contests cost him rather dearer,
Because the neighbouring Scotch Earl of Giftgabbit
Had English influence in the self-same sphere here;
His son, the Honourable Dick Dicedrabbit,
Was member for the "other interest" (meaning
The same self-interest, with a different leaning).
Courteous and cautious therefore in his county,
He was all things to all men, and dispensed
To some civility, to others bounty,
And promises to all -- which last commenced
To gather to a somewhat large amount, he
Not calculating how much they condensed;
But what with keeping some, and breaking others,
His word had the same value as another's.
A friend to freedom and freeholders -- yet
No less a friend to government -- he held,
That he exactly the just medium hit
'Twixt place and patriotism -- albeit compell'd,
Such was his sovereign's pleasure (though unfit,
He added modestly, when rebels rail'd),
To hold some sinecures he wish'd abolish'd,
But that with them all law would be demolish'd.
He was "free to confess" (whence comes this phrase?
Is 't English? No -- 't is only parliamentary)
That innovation's spirit now-a-days
Had made more progress than for the last century.
He would not tread a factious path to praise,
Though for the public weal disposed to venture high;
As for his place, he could but say this of it,
That the fatigue was greater than the profit.
Heaven, and his friends, knew that a private life
Had ever been his sole and whole ambition;
But could he quit his king in times of strife,
Which threaten'd the whole country with perdition?
When demagogues would with a butcher's knife
Cut through and through (oh! damnable incision!)
The Gordian or the Geordi-an knot, whose strings
Have tied together commons, lords, and kings.
Sooner "come Place into the civil list
And champion him to the utmost" -- he would keep it,
Till duly disappointed or dismiss'd:
Profit he care not for, let others reap it;
But should the day come when place ceased to exist,
The country would have far more cause to weep it:
For how could it go on? Explain who can!
He gloried in the name of Englishman.
He was as independent -- ay, much more --
Than those who were not paid for independence,
As common soldiers, or a common -- shore,
Have in their several arts or parts ascendance
O'er the irregulars in lust or gore,
Who do not give professional attendance.
Thus on the mob all statesmen are as eager
To prove their pride, as footmen to a beggar.
All this (save the last stanza) Henry said,
And thought. I say no more -- I've said too much;
For all of us have either heard or read --
Off -- or upon the hustings -- some slight such
Hints from the independent heart or head
Of the official candidate. I'll touch
No more on this -- the dinner-bell hath rung,
And grace is said; the grace I should have sung --
But I'm too late, and therefore must make play.
'T was a great banquet, such as Albion old
Was wont to boast -- as if a glutton's tray
Were something very glorious to behold.
But 't was a public feast and public day, --
Quite full, right dull, guests hot, and dishes cold,
Great plenty, much formality, small cheer,
And every body out of their own sphere.
The squires familiarly formal, and
My lords and ladies proudly condescending;
The very servants puzzling how to hand
Their plates -- without it might be too much bending
From their high places by the sideboard's stand --
Yet, like their masters, fearful of offending.
For any deviation from the graces
Might cost both man and master too -- their places.
There were some hunters bold, and coursers keen,
Whose hounds ne'er err'd, nor greyhounds deign'd to lurch;
Some deadly shots too, Septembrizers, seen
Earliest to rise, and last to quit the search
Of the poor partridge through his stubble screen.
There were some massy members of the church,
Takers of tithes, and makers of good matches,
And several who sung fewer psalms than catches.
There were some country wags too -- and, alas!
Some exiles from the town, who had been driven
To gaze, instead of pavement, upon grass,
And rise at nine in lieu of long eleven.
And lo! upon that day it came to pass,
I sate next that o'erwhelming son of heaven,
The very powerful parson, Peter Pith,
The loudest wit I e'er was deafen'd with.
I knew him in his livelier London days,
A brilliant diner out, though but a curate;
And not a joke he cut but earn'd its praise,
Until preferment, coming at a sure rate
(O Providence! how wondrous are thy ways!
Who would suppose thy gifts sometimes obdurate?),
Gave him, to lay the devil who looks o'er Lincoln,
A fat fen vicarage, and nought to think on.
His jokes were sermons, and his sermons jokes;
But both were thrown away amongst the fens;
For wit hath no great friend in aguish folks.
No longer ready ears and short-hand pens
Imbibed the gay bon-mot, or happy hoax:
The poor priest was reduced to common sense,
Or to coarse efforts very loud and long,
To hammer a horse laugh from the thick throng.
There is a difference, says the song, "between
A beggar and a queen," or was (of late
The latter worse used of the two we've seen --
But we'll say nothing of affairs of state);
A difference "'twixt a bishop and a dean,"
A difference between crockery ware and plate,
As between English beef and Spartan broth --
And yet great heroes have been bred by both.
But of all nature's discrepancies, none
Upon the whole is greater than the difference
Beheld between the country and the town,
Of which the latter merits every preference
From those who have few resources of their own,
And only think, or act, or feel, with reference
To some small plan of interest or ambition --
Both which are limited to no condition.
But en avant! The light loves languish o'er
Long banquets and too many guests, although
A slight repast makes people love much more,
Bacchus and Ceres being, as we know
Even from our grammar upwards, friends of yore
With vivifying Venus, who doth owe
To these the invention of champagne and truffles:
Temperance delights her, but long fasting ruffles.
Dully past o'er the dinner of the day;
And Juan took his place, he knew not where,
Confused, in the confusion, and distrait,
And sitting as if nail'd upon his chair:
Though knives and forks clank'd round as in a fray,
He seem'd unconscious of all passing there,
Till some one, with a groan, exprest a wish
(Unheeded twice) to have a fin of fish.
On which, at the third asking of the bans,
He started; and perceiving smiles around
Broadening to grins, he colour'd more than once,
And hastily -- as nothing can confound
A wise man more than laughter from a dunce --
Inflicted on the dish a deadly wound,
And with such hurry, that ere he could curb it
He had paid his neighbour's prayer with half a turbot.
This was no bad mistake, as it occurr'd,
The supplicator being an amateur;
But others, who were left with scarce a third,
Were angry -- as they well might, to be sure.
They wonder'd how a young man so absurd
Lord Henry at his table should endure;
And this, and his not knowing how much oats
Had fallen last market, cost his host three votes.
They little knew, or might have sympathised,
That he the night before had seen a ghost,
A prologue which but slightly harmonised
With the substantial company engross'd
By matter, and so much materialised,
That one scarce knew at what to marvel most
Of two things -- how (the question rather odd is)
Such bodies could have souls, or souls such bodies.
But what confused him more than smile or stare
From all the 'squires and 'squiresses around,
Who wonder'd at the abstraction of his air,
Especially as he had been renown'd
For some vivacity among the fair,
Even in the country circle's narrow bound
(For little things upon my lord's estate
Were good small talk for others still less great) --
Was, that he caught Aurora's eye on his,
And something like a smile upon her cheek.
Now this he really rather took amiss:
In those who rarely smile, their smiles bespeak
A strong external motive; and in this
Smile of Aurora's there was nought to pique
Or hope, or love, with any of the wiles
Which some pretend to trace in ladies' smiles.
'T was a mere quiet smile of contemplation,
Indicative of some surprise and pity;
And Juan grew carnation with vexation,
Which was not very wise, and still less witty,
Since he had gain'd at least her observation,
A most important outwork of the city --
As Juan should have known, had not his senses
By last night's ghost been driven from their defences.
But what was bad, she did not blush in turn,
Nor seem embarrass'd -- quite the contrary;
Her aspect was as usual, still -- not stern --
And she withdrew, but cast not down, her eye,
Yet grew a little pale -- with what? concern?
I know not; but her colour ne'er was high --
Though sometimes faintly flush'd -- and always clear,
As deep seas in a sunny atmosphere.
But Adeline was occupied by fame
This day; and watching, witching, condescending
To the consumers of fish, fowl, and game,
And dignity with courtesy so blending,
As all must blend whose part it is to aim
(Especially as the sixth year is ending)
At their lord's, son's, or similar connection's
Safe conduct through the rocks of re-elections.
Though this was most expedient on the whole,
And usual -- Juan, when he cast a glance
On Adeline while playing her grand rôle,
Which she went through as though it were a dance,
Betraying only now and then her soul
By a look scarce perceptibly askance
(Of weariness or scorn), began to feel
Some doubt how much of Adeline was real;
So well she acted all and every part
By turns -- with that vivacious versatility,
Which many people take for want of heart.
They err -- 't is merely what is call'd mobility,
A thing of temperament and not of art,
Though seeming so, from its supposed facility;
And false -- though true; for surely they're sincerest
Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest.
This makes your actors, artists, and romancers,
Heroes sometimes, though seldom -- sages never;
But speakers, bards, diplomatists, and dancers,
Little that's great, but much of what is clever;
Most orators, but very few financiers,
Though all Exchequer chancellors endeavour,
Of late years, to dispense with Cocker's rigours,
And grow quite figurative with their figures.
The poets of arithmetic are they
Who, though they prove not two and two to be
Five, as they might do in a modest way,
Have plainly made it out that four are three,
Judging by what they take, and what they pay.
The Sinking Fund's unfathomable sea,
That most unliquidating liquid, leaves
The debt unsunk, yet sinks all it receives.
While Adeline dispensed her airs and graces,
The fair Fitz-Fulke seem'd very much at ease;
Though too well bred to quiz men to their faces,
Her laughing blue eyes with a glance could seize
The ridicules of people in all places --
That honey of your fashionable bees --
And store it up for mischievous enjoyment;
And this at present was her kind employment.
However, the day closed, as days must close;
The evening also waned -- and coffee came.
Each carriage was announced, and ladies rose,
And curtsying off, as curtsies country dame,
Retired: with most unfashionable bows
Their docile esquires also did the same,
Delighted with their dinner and their host,
But with the Lady Adeline the most.
Some praised her beauty; others her great grace;
The warmth of her politeness, whose sincerity
Was obvious in each feature of her face,
Whose traits were radiant with the rays of verity.
Yes; she was truly worthy her high place!
No one could envy her deserved prosperity.
And then her dress -- what beautiful simplicity
Draperied her form with curious felicity!
Meanwhile Sweet Adeline deserved their praises,
By an impartial indemnification
For all her past exertion and soft phrases,
In a most edifying conversation,
Which turn'd upon their late guests' miens and faces,
And families, even to the last relation;
Their hideous wives, their horrid selves and dresses,
And truculent distortion of their tresses.
True, she said little -- 't was the rest that broke
Forth into universal epigram;
But then 't was to the purpose what she spoke:
Like Addison's "faint praise," so wont to damn,
Her own but served to set off every joke,
As music chimes in with a melodrame.
How sweet the task to shield an absent friend!
I ask but this of mine, to -- not defend.
There were but two exceptions to this keen
Skirmish of wits o'er the departed; one
Aurora, with her pure and placid mien;
And Juan, too, in general behind none
In gay remark on what he had heard or seen,
Sate silent now, his usual spirits gone:
In vain he heard the others rail or rally,
He would not join them in a single sally.
'T is true he saw Aurora look as though
She approved his silence; she perhaps mistook
Its motive for that charity we owe
But seldom pay the absent, nor would look
Farther -- it might or might not be so.
But Juan, sitting silent in his nook,
Observing little in his reverie,
Yet saw this much, which he was glad to see.
The ghost at least had done him this much good,
In making him as silent as a ghost,
If in the circumstances which ensued
He gain'd esteem where it was worth the most.
And certainly Aurora had renew'd
In him some feelings he had lately lost,
Or harden'd; feelings which, perhaps ideal,
Are so divine, that I must deem them real: --
The love of higher things and better days;
The unbounded hope, and heavenly ignorance
Of what is call'd the world, and the world's ways;
The moments when we gather from a glance
More joy than from all future pride or praise,
Which kindle manhood, but can ne'er entrance
The heart in an existence of its own,
Of which another's bosom is the zone.
Who would not sigh Ai ai Tan Kytherheian
That hath a memory, or that had a heart?
Alas! her star must fade like that of Dian:
Ray fades on ray, as years on years depart.
Anacreon only had the soul to tie an
Unwithering myrtle round the unblunted dart
Of Eros: but though thou hast play'd us many tricks,
Still we respect thee, "Alma Venus Genetrix!"
And full of sentiments, sublime as billows
Heaving between this world and worlds beyond,
Don Juan, when the midnight hour of pillows
Arrived, retired to his; but to despond
Rather than rest. Instead of poppies, willows
Waved o'er his couch; he meditated, fond
Of those sweet bitter thoughts which banish sleep,
And make the worldling sneer, the youngling weep.
The night was as before: he was undrest,
Saving his night-gown, which is an undress;
Completely sans culotte, and without vest;
In short, he hardly could be clothed with less:
But apprehensive of his spectral guest,
He sate with feelings awkward to express
(By those who have not had such visitations),
Expectant of the ghost's fresh operations.
And not in vain he listen'd; -- Hush! what's that?
I see -- I see -- Ah, no! -- 't is not -- yet 't is --
Ye powers! it is the -- the -- the -- Pooh! the cat!
The devil may take that stealthy pace of his!
So like a spiritual pit-a-pat,
Or tiptoe of an amatory Miss,
Gliding the first time to a rendezvous,
And dreading the chaste echoes of her shoe.
Again -- what is 't? The wind? No, no -- this time
It is the sable friar as before,
With awful footsteps regular as rhyme,
Or (as rhymes may be in these days) much more.
Again through shadows of the night sublime,
When deep sleep fell on men, and the world wore
The starry darkness round her like a girdle
Spangled with gems -- the monk made his blood curdle.
A noise like to wet fingers drawn on glass,
Which sets the teeth on edge; and a slight clatter,
Like showers which on the midnight gusts will pass,
Sounding like very supernatural water,
Came over Juan's ear, which throbb'd, alas!
For immaterialism's a serious matter;
So that even those whose faith is the most great
In souls immortal, shun them tête-à-tête.
Were his eyes open? -- Yes! and his mouth too.
Surprise has this effect -- to make one dumb,
Yet leave the gate which eloquence slips through
As wide as if a long speech were to come.
Nigh and more nigh the awful echoes drew,
Tremendous to a mortal tympanum:
His eyes were open, and (as was before
Stated) his mouth. What open'd next? -- the door.
It open'd with a most infernal creak,
Like that of hell. "Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi che entrate!" The hinge seem'd to speak,
Dreadful as Dante's rima, or this stanza;
Or -- but all words upon such themes are weak:
A single shade's sufficient to entrance
Hero -- for what is substance to a spirit?
Or how is 't matter trembles to come near it?
The door flew wide, -- not swiftly, but, as fly
The sea-gulls, with a steady, sober flight, --
And then swung back; nor close -- but stood awry,
Half letting in long shadows on the light,
Which still in Juan's candlesticks burn'd high,
For he had two, both tolerably bright,
And in the door-way, darkening darkness, stood
The sable friar in his solemn hood.
Don Juan shook, as erst he had been shaken
The night before; but being sick of shaking,
He first inclined to think he had been mistaken;
And then to be ashamed of such mistaking;
His own internal ghost began to awaken
Within him, and to quell his corporal quaking --
Hinting that soul and body on the whole
Were odds against a disembodied soul.
And then his dread grew wrath, and his wrath fierce,
And he arose, advanced -- the shade retreated;
But Juan, eager now the truth to pierce,
Follow'd, his veins no longer cold, but heated,
Resolved to thrust the mystery carte and tierce,
At whatsoever risk of being defeated:
The ghost stopp'd, menaced, then retired, until
He reach'd the ancient wall, then stood stone still.
Juan put forth one arm -- Eternal powers!
It touched no soul, nor body, but the wall,
On which the moonbeams fell in silvery showers,
Chequer'd with all the tracery of the hall;
He shudder'd, as no doubt the bravest cowers
When he can't tell what 't is that doth appal.
How odd, a single hobgoblin's non-entity
Should cause more fear than a whole host's identity.
But still the shade remain'd: the blue eyes glared,
And rather variably for stony death:
Yet one thing rather good the grave had spared,
The ghost had a remarkably sweet breath.
A straggling curl show'd he had been fair-hair'd;
A red lip, with two rows of pearls beneath,
Gleam'd forth, as through the casement's ivy shroud
The moon peep'd, just escaped from a grey cloud.
And Juan, puzzled, but still curious, thrust
His other arm forth -- Wonder upon wonder!
It press'd upon a hard but glowing bust,
Which beat as if there was a warm heart under.
He found, as people on most trials must,
That he had made at first a silly blunder,
And that in his confusion he had caught
Only the wall, instead of what he sought.
The ghost, if ghost it were, seem'd a sweet soul
As ever lurk'd beneath a holy hood:
A dimpled chin, a neck of ivory, stole
Forth into something much like flesh and blood;
Back fell the sable frock and dreary cowl,
And they reveal'd -- alas! that e'er they should!
In full, voluptuous, but not o'ergrown bulk,
The phantom of her frolic Grace -- Fitz-Fulke!
ONE eve it happened when I sate alone,
Alone upon the terrace of my tower,
A book upon my knees, to counterfeit
The reading that I never read at all,
While Marian, in the garden down below,
Knelt by the fountain (I could just hear thrill
The drowsy silence of the exhausted day)
And peeled a new fig from that purple heap
In the grass beside her,–turning out the red
To feed her eager child, who sucked at it
With vehement lips across a gap of air
As he stood opposite, face and curls a-flame
With that last sun-ray, crying, 'give me, give,'
And stamping with imperious baby-feet,
(We're all born princes)–something startled me,–
The laugh of sad and innocent souls, that breaks
Abruptly, as if frightened at itself;
'Twas Marian laughed. I saw her glance above
In sudden shame that I should hear her laugh,
And straightway dropped my eyes upon my book,
And knew, the first time, 'twas Boccaccio's tales,
The Falcon's,–of the lover who for love
Destroyed the best that loved him. Some of us
Do it still, and then we sit and laugh no more.
Laugh you, sweet Marian! you've the right to laugh,
Since God himself is for you, and a child!
For me there's somewhat less,–and so, I sigh.
The heavens were making room to hold the night,
The sevenfold heavens unfolding all their gates
To let the stars out slowly (prophesied
In close-approaching advent, not discerned),
While still the cue-owls from the cypresses
Of the Poggio called and counted every pulse
Of the skyey palpitation. Gradually
The purple and transparent shadows slow
Had filled up the whole valley to the brim,
And flooded all the city, which you saw
As some drowned city in some enchanted sea,
Cut off from nature,–drawing you who gaze,
With passionate desire, to leap and plunge,
And find a sea-king with a voice of waves,
And treacherous soft eyes, and slippery locks
You cannot kiss but you shall bring away
Their salt upon your lips. The duomo-bell
Strikes ten, as if it struck ten fathoms down,
So deep; and fifty churches answer it
The same, with fifty various instances.
Some gaslights tremble along squares and streets
The Pitti's palace-front is drawn in fire:
And, past the quays, Maria Novella's Place,
In which the mystic obelisks stand up
Triangular, pyramidal, each based
On a single trine of brazen tortoises,
To guard that fair church, Buonarroti's Bride,
That stares out from her large blind dial-eyes,
Her quadrant and armillary dials, black
With rhythms of many suns and moons, in vain
Enquiry for so rich a soul as his,–
Methinks I have plunged, I see it all so clear . . .
And, oh my heart . . .the sea-king!
In my ears
The sound of waters. There he stood, my king!
I felt him, rather than beheld him. Up
I rose, as if he were my king indeed,
And then sate down, in trouble at myself,
And struggling for my woman's empery.
'Tis pitiful; but women are so made:
We'll die for you, perhaps,–'tis probable:
But we'll not spare you an inch of our full height:
We'll have our whole just stature,–five feet four,
Though laid out in our coffins: pitiful!
–'You, Romney!––Lady Waldemar is here?'
He answered in a voice which was not his,
'I have her letter; you shall read it soon:
But first, I must be heard a little, I,
Who have waited long and travelled far for that,
Although you thought to have shut a tedious book
And farewell. Ah, you dog-eared such a page,
And here you find me.'
Did he touch my hand,
Or but my sleeve? I trembled, hand and foot,–
He must have touched me.–'Will you sit?' I asked,
And motioned to a chair; but down he sate,
A little slowly, as a man in doubt,
Upon the couch beside me,–couch and chair
Being wheeled upon the terrace.
'You are come,
My cousin Romney?–this is wonderful.
But all is wonder on such summer-nights;
And nothing should surprise us any more,
Who see that miracle of stars. Behold.'
I signed above, where all the stars were out,
As if an urgent heat had started there
A secret writing from a sombre page,
A blank last moment, crowded suddenly
With hurrying splendours.
'Then you do not know–
'Yes, I know,' I said, 'I know.
I had the news from Vincent Carrington.
And yet I did not think you'd leave the work
In England, for so much even,–though, of course,
You'll make a work-day of your holiday,
And turn it to our Tuscan people's use,–
Who much need helping since the Austrian boar
(So bold to cross the Alp by Lombardy
And dash his brute front unabashed against
The steep snow-bosses of that shield of God,
Who soon shall rise in wrath and shake it clear
Came hither also,–raking up our vines
And olive-gardens with his tyrannous tusks,
And rolling on our maize with all his swine.'
'You had the news from Vincent Carrington,'
He echoed,–picking up the phrase beyond,
As if he knew the rest was merely talk
To fill a gap and keep out a strong wind,–
'You had, then, Vincent's personal news?'
I answered, 'All that ruined world of yours
Seems crumbling into marriage. Carrington
Has chosen wisely.'
'Do you take it so?'
He cried, 'and is it possible at last' . .
He paused there,–and then, inward to himself,
'Too much at last, too late!–yet certainly' . .
(And there his voice swayed as an Alpine plank
That feels a passionate torrent underneath)
'The knowledge, if I had known it, first or last,
Had never changed the actual case for me.
And best, for her, at this time.'
Nay, I thought,
He loves Kate Ward, it seems, now, like a man,
Because he has married Lady Waldemar.
Ah, Vincent's letter said how Leigh was moved
To hear that Vincent was betrothed to Kate.
With what cracked pitchers go we to deep wells
In this world! Then I spoke,–'I did not think,
My cousin, you had ever known Kate Ward.'
'In fact I never knew her. 'Tis enough
That Vincent did, before he chose his wife
For other reasons than those topaz eyes
I've heard of. Not to undervalue them,
For all that. One takes up the world with eyes.'
–Including Romney Leigh, I thought again,
Albeit he knows them only by repute.
How vile must all men be, since he's a man.
His deep pathetic voice, as if he guessed
I did not surely love him, took the word;
'You never got a letter from Lord Howe
A month back, dear Aurora?'
'None,' I said.
'I felt it was so,' he replied: 'Yet, strange!
Sir Blaise Delorme has passed through Florence?'
By chance I saw him in Our Lady's church,
(I saw him, mark you, but he saw not me)
Clean-washed in holy-water from the count
Of things terrestrial,–letters and the rest;
He had crossed us out together with his sins.
Ay, strange; but only strange that good Lord Howe
Preferred him to the post because of pauls.
For me I'm sworn never to trust a man–
At least with letters.'
'There were facts to tell,–
To smooth with eye and accent. Howe supposed . .
Well, well, no matter! there was dubious need;
You heard the news from Vincent Carrington.
And yet perhaps you had been startled less
To see me, dear Aurora, if you had read
–Now he sets me down as vexed.
I think I've draped myself in woman's pride
To a perfect purpose. Oh, I'm vexed, it seems!
My friend Lord Howe deputes his friend Sir Blaise
To break as softly as a sparrow's egg
That lets a bird out tenderly, the news
Of Romney's marriage to a certain saint;
To smooth with eye and accent,–indicate
His possible presence. Excellently well
You've played your part, my Lady Waldemar,–
As I've played mine.
'Dear Romney,' I began,
'You did not use, of old, to be so like
A Greek king coming from a taken Troy,
'Twas needful that precursors spread your path
With three-piled carpets, to receive your foot
And dull the sound of't. For myself, be sure
Although it frankly ground the gravel here
I still could bear it. Yet I'm sorry, too,
To lose this famous letter, which Sir Blaise
Has twisted to a lighter absently
To fire some holy taper with: Lord Howe
Writes letters good for all things but to lose;
And many a flower of London gossipry
Has dropt wherever such a stem broke off,–
Of course I know that, lonely among my vines,
Where nothing's talked of, save the blight again,
And no more Chianti! Still the letter's use
As preparation . . . . . Did I start indeed?
Last night I started at a cochchafer,
And shook a half-hour after. Have you learnt
No more of women, 'spite of privilege,
Than still to take account too seriously
Of such weak flutterings? Why, we like it, sir,–
We get our powers and our effects that way.
The trees stand stiff and still at time of frost,
If no wind tears them; but, let summer come,
When trees are happy,–and a breath avails
To set them trembling through a million leaves
In luxury of emotion. Something less
It takes to move a woman: let her start
And shake at pleasure,–nor conclude at yours,
The winter's bitter,–but the summer's green.'
He answered, 'Be the summer ever green
With you, Aurora!–though you sweep your sex
With somewhat bitter gusts from where you live
Above them,–whirling downward from your heights
Your very own pine-cones, in a grand disdain
Of the lowland burrs with which you scatter them.
So high and cold to others and yourself,
A little less to Romney, were unjust,
And thus, I would not have you. Let it pass:
I feel content, so. You can bear indeed
My sudden step beside you: but for me,
'Twould move me sore to hear your softened voice,–
Aurora's voice,–if softened unaware
In pity of what I am.'
Ah friend, I thought,
As husband of the Lady Waldemar
You're granted very sorely pitiable!
And yet Aurora Leigh must guard her voice
From softening in the pity of your case,
As if from lie or licence. Certainly
We'll soak up all the slush and soil of life
With softened voices, ere we come to you.
At which I interrupted my own thought
And spoke out calmly. 'Let us ponder, friend,
Whate'er our state, we must have made it first;
And though the thing displease us, ay, perhaps
Displease us warrantably, never doubt
That other states, thought possible once, and then
Rejected by the instinct of our lives,–
If then adopted, had displeased us more
Than this, in which the choice, the will, the love,
Has stamped the honour of a patent act
From henceforth. What we choose, may not be good;
But, that we choose it, proves it good for us
Potentially, fantastically, now
Or last year, rather than a thing we saw,
And saw no need for choosing. Moths will burn
Their wings,–which proves that light is good for moths,
Or else they had flown not, where they agonise.'
'Ay, light is good,' he echoed, and there paused.
And then abruptly, . . 'Marian. Marian's well?'
I bowed my head but found no word. 'Twas hard
To speak of her to Lady Waldemar's
New husband. How much did he know, at last?
How much? how little?––He would take no sign,
But straight repeated,–'Marian. Is she well?'
'She's well,' I answered.
She was there in sight
An hour back, but the night had drawn her home;
Where still I heard her in an upper room,
Her low voice singing to the child in bed,
Who restless with the summer-heat and play
And slumber snatched at noon, was long sometimes
At falling off, and took a score of songs
And mother-hushes, ere she saw him sound.
'She's well,' I answered.
'Here?' he asked.
He stopped and sighed. 'That shall be presently,
But now this must be. I have words to say,
And would be alone to say them, I with you,
And no third troubling.'
'Speak then,' I returned,
'She will not vex you.'
At which, suddenly
He turned his face upon me with its smile,
As if to crush me. 'I have read your book,
'You have read it,' I replied,
'And I have writ it,–we have done with it.
And now the rest?'
'The rest is like the first,'
He answered,–'for the book is in my heart,
Lives in me, wakes in me, and dreams in me:
My daily bread tastes of it,–and my wine
Which has no smack of it, I pour it out;
It seems unnatural drinking.'
I took the word up; 'Never waste your wine.
The book lived in me ere it lived in you;
I know it closer than another does,
And that it's foolish, feeble, and afraid,
And all unworthy so much compliment.
Beseech you, keep your wine,–and, when you drink,
Still wish some happier fortune to your friend,
Than even to have written a far better book.'
He answered gently, 'That is consequent:
The poet looks beyond the book he has made,
Or else he had not made it. If a man
Could make a man, he'd henceforth be a god
In feeling what a little thing is man:
It is not my case. And this special book,
I did not make it, to make light of it:
It stands above my knowledge, draws me up;
'Tis high to me. It may be that the book
Is not so high, but I so low, instead;
Still high to me. I mean no compliment:
I will not say there are not, young or old,
Male writers, ay, or female,–let it pass,
Who'll write us richer and completer books.
A man may love a woman perfectly,
And yet by no means ignorantly maintain
A thousand women have not larger eyes:
Enough that she alone has looked at him
With eyes that, large or small, have won his soul.
And so, this book, Aurora,–so, your book.'
'Alas,' I answered, 'is it so, indeed?'
And then was silent.
'Is it so, indeed,'
He echoed, 'that alas is all your word?'
I said,–'I'm thinking of a far-off June,
When you and I, upon my birthday once,
Discoursed of life and art, with both untried.
I'm thinking, Romney, how 'twas morning then,
And now 'tis night.'
'And now,' he said, tis night.'
'I'm thinking,' I resumed, tis somewhat sad
That if I had known, that morning in the dew,
My cousin Romney would have said such words
On such a night, at close of many years,
In speaking of a future book of mine,
It would have pleased me better as a hope,
Than as an actual grace it can at all.
That's sad, I'm thinking.'
'Ay,' he said, tis night.'
'And there,' I added lightly, 'are the stars!
And here, we'll talk of stars, and not of books.'
'You have the stars,' he murmured,–'it is well.
Be like them! shine, Aurora, on my dark,
Though high and cold and only like star,
And for this short night only,–you, who keep
The same Aurora of the bright June-day
That withered up the flowers before my face,
And turned my from the garden evermore
Because I was not worthy. Oh, deserved,
Deserved! That I, who verily had not learnt
God's lesson half, attaining as a dunce
To obliterate good words with fractious thumbs
And cheat myself of the context,–I should push
Aside, with male ferocious impudence,
The world's Aurora who had conned her part
On the other side the leaf! ignore her so,
Because she was a woman and a queen,
And had no beard to bristle through her song,–
My teacher, who has taught me with a book,
My Miriam, whose sweet mouth, when nearly drowned
I still heard singing on the shore! Deserved,
That here I should look up unto the stars
And miss the glory' . .
'Can I understand?'
I broke in. 'You speak wildly, Romney Leigh,
Or I hear wildly. In that morning-time
We recollect, the roses were too red,
The trees too green, reproach too natural
If one should see not what the other saw:
And now, it's night, remember; we have shades
In place of colours; we are now grown cold,
And old, my cousin Romney. Pardon me,–
I'm very happy that you like my book,
And very sorry that I quoted back
A ten years' birthday; 'twas so mad a thing
In any woman, I scarce marvel much
You took it for a venturous piece of spite,
Provoking such excuses, as indeed
I cannot call you slack in.'
He answered sadly, 'something, if but so.
This night is softer than an English day,
And men may well come hither when they're sick,
To draw in easier breath from larger air.
'Tis thus with me; I've come to you,–to you,
My Italy of women, just to breathe
My soul out once before you, ere I go,
As humble as God makes me at the last,
(I thank Him) quite out of the way of men,
And yours, Aurora,–like a punished child,
His cheeks all blurred with tears and naughtiness,
To silence in a corner. I am come
To speak, beloved' . .
'Wisely, cousin Leigh,
And worthily of us both!'
For this time I must speak out and confess
That I, so truculent in assumption once,
So absolute in dogma, proud in aim,
And fierce in expectation,–I, who felt
The whole world tugging at my skirts for help,
As if no other man than I, could pull,
Nor woman, but I led her by the hand,
Nor cloth hold, but I had it in my coat,–
Do know myself to-night for what I was
On that June-day, Aurora. Poor bright day,
Which meant the best . . a woman and a rose, . .
And which I smote upon the cheek with words,
Until it turned and rent me! Young you were,
That birthday, poet, but you talked the right:
While I, . . I built up follies like a wall
To intercept the sunshine and your face.
Your face! that's worse.'
'Speak wisely, cousin Leigh.'
'Yes, wisely, dear Aurora, though too late:
But then, not wisely. I was heavy then,
And stupid, and distracted with the cries
Of tortured prisoners in the polished brass
Of that Phalarian bull, society,–
Which seems to bellow bravely like ten bulls,
But, if you listen, moans and cries instead
Despairingly, like victims tossed and gored
And trampled by their hoofs. I heard the cries
Too close: I could not hear the angels lift
A fold of rustling air, nor what they said
To help my pity. I beheld the world
As one great famishing carnivorous mouth,–
A huge, deserted, callow, black, bird Thing,
With piteous open beak that hurt my heart,
Till down upon the filthy ground I dropped,
And tore the violets up to get the worms.
Worms, worms, was all my cry: an open mouth,
A gross want, bread to fill it to the lips,
No more! That poor men narrowed their demands
To such an end, was virtue, I supposed,
Adjudicating that to see it so
Was reason. Oh, I did not push the case
Up higher, and ponder how it answers, when
The rich take up the same cry for themselves,
Professing equally,–'an open mouth
A gross want, food to fill us, and no more!'
Why that's so far from virtue, only vice
Finds reason for it! That makes libertines:
That slurs our cruel streets from end to end
With eighty thousand women in one smile,
Who only smile at night beneath the gas:
The body's satisfaction and no more,
Being used for argument against the soul's,
Her too! the want, here too, implying the right.
–How dark I stood that morning in the sun,
My best Aurora, though I saw your eyes,–
When first you told me . . oh, I recollect
The words . . and how you lifted your white hand,
And how your white dress and your burnished curls
Went greatening round you in the still blue air,
As if an inspiration from within
Had blown them all out when you spoke the same,
Even these,–'You will not compass your poor ends
'Of barley-feeding and material ease,
'Without the poet's individualism
'To work your universal. It takes a soul,
'To move a body,–it takes a high-souled man,
'To move the masses . . even to a cleaner stye:
'It takes the ideal, to blow an inch inside
'The dust of the actual: and your Fouriers failed
'Because not poets enough to understand
'That life develops from within.' I say
Your words,–I could say other words of yours
For none of all your words has been more lost
Than sweet verbena, which, being brushed against,
Will hold you three hours after by the smell,
In spite of long walks on the windy hills.
But these words dealt in sharper perfume,–these
Were ever on me, stinging through my dreams,
And saying themselves for ever o'er my acts
Like some unhappy verdict. That I failed,
Is certain. Stye or no stye, to contrive
The swine's propulsion toward the precipice,
Proved easy and plain. I subtly organised
And ordered, built the cards up higher and higher,
Till, some one breathing, all fell flat again!
In setting right society's wide wrong,
Mere life's so fatal! So I failed indeed
Once, twice, and oftener,–hearing through the rents
Of obstinate purpose, still those words of yours,
'You will not compass your poor ends, not you! '
But harder than you said them; every time
Still farther from your voice, until they came
To overcrow me with triumphant scorn
Which vexed me to resistance. Set down this
For condemnation,–I was guilty here:
I stood upon my deed and fought my doubt,
As men will,–for I doubted,–till at last
My deed gave way beneath me suddenly,
And left me what I am. The curtain dropped,
My part quite ended, all the footlights quenched.
My own soul hissing at me through the dark,
I, ready for confession,–I was wrong,
I've sorely failed; I've slipped the ends of life,
I yield; you have conquered.'
'Stay,' I answered him;
'I've something for your hearing, also. I
Have failed too.'
'You!' he said, 'you're very great:
The sadness of your greatness fits you well:
As if the plume upon a hero's casque
Should nod a shadow upon his victor face.'
I took him up austerely,–'You have read
My book but not my heart; for recollect,
'Tis writ in Sanscrit, which you bungle at.
I've surely failed, I know; if failure means
To look back sadly on work gladly done,–
To wander on my mountains of Delight,
So called, (I can remember a friend's words
As well as you, sir,) weary and in want
Of even a sheep-path, thinking bitterly . .
Well, well! no matter. I but say so much,
To keep you, Romney Leigh, from saying more,
And let you feel I am not so high indeed,
That I can bear to have you at my foot,–
Or safe, that I can help you. That June-day,
Too deeply sunk in craterous sunsets now
For you or me to dig it up alive;
To pluck it out all bleeding with spent flame
At the roots, before those moralising stars
We have got instead,–that poor lost day, you said
Some words as truthful as the thing of mine
You care to keep in memory: and I hold
If I, that day, and, being the girl I was,
Had shown a gentler spirit, less arrogance,
It had not hurt me. Ah, you'll not mistake
The point here. I but only think, you see,
More justly, that's more humbly, of myself,
Than when I tried a crown on and supposed . . .
Nay, laugh, sir,–I'll laugh with you!–pray you, laugh.
I've had so many birthdays since that day,
I've learnt to prize mirth's opportunities,
Which come too seldom. Was it you who said
I was not changed? the same Aurora? Ah,
We could laugh there, too! Why, Ulysses' dog
Knew him, and wagged his tail and died: but if
I had owned a dog, I too, before my Troy,
And if you brought him here, . . I warrant you
He'd look into my face, bark lustily,
And live on stoutly, as the creatures will
Whose spirits are not troubled by long loves.
A dog would never know me, I'm so changed;
Much less a friend . . except that you're misled
By the colour of the hair, the trick of the voice,
Like that of Aurora Leigh's.'
'Sweet trick of voice
I would be a dog for this, to know it at last,
And die upon the falls of it. O love,
O best Aurora! are you then so sad,
You scarcely had been sadder as my wife?'
'Your wife, sir! I must certainly be changed,
If I, Aurora, can have said a thing
So light, it catches at the knightly spurs
Of a noble gentleman like Romney Leigh,
And trips him from his honourable sense
Of what befits' . .
'You wholly misconceive,'
I returned,–'I'm glad of it:
But keep from misconception, too, yourself:
I am not humbled to so low a point,
Nor so far saddened. If I am sad at all,
Ten layers of birthdays on a woman's head,
Are apt to fossilise her girlish mirth,
Though ne'er so merry: I'm perforce more wise,
And that, in truth, means sadder. For the rest,
Look here, sir: I was right upon the whole,
That birthday morning. 'Tis impossible
To get at men excepting through their souls,
However open their carnivorous jaws;
And poets get directlier at the soul,
Than any of you oeconomists:–for which,
You must not overlook the poet's work
When scheming for the world's necessities.
The soul's the way. Not even Christ himself
Can save man else than as He hold man's soul;
And therefore did He come into our flesh,
As some wise hunter creeping on his knees
With a torch, into the blackness of some cave,
To face and quell the beast there,–take the soul,
And so possess the whole man, body and soul.
I said, so far, right, yes; not farther, though:
We both were wrong that June-day,–both as wrong
As an east wind had been. I who talked of art,
And you who grieved for all men's griefs . . . what then?
We surely made too small a part for God
In these things. What we are, imports us more
Than what we eat; and life you've granted me,
Develops from within. But innermost
Of the inmost, most interior of the interne,
God claims his own, Divine humanity
Renewing nature,–or the piercingest verse,
Prest in by subtlest poet, still must keep
As much upon the outside of a man,
As the very bowl, in which he dips his beard.
–And then, . . the rest. I cannot surely speak.
Perhaps I doubt more than you doubted then,
If I, the poet's veritable charge,
Have borne upon my forehead. If I have,
It might feel somewhat liker to a crown,
The foolish green one even.–Ah, I think,
And chiefly when the sun shines, that I've failed.
But what then, Romney? Though we fail indeed,
You . . I . . a score of such weak workers, . . He
Fails never. If He cannot work by us,
He will work over us. Does he want a man,
Much less a woman, think you? Every time
The star winks there, so many souls are born,
Who shall work too. Let our own be calm:
We should be ashamed to sit beneath those stars,
Impatient that we're nothing.'
'Could we sit
Just so for ever, sweetest friend,' he said,
'My failure would seem better than success.
And yet, indeed, your book has dealt with me
More gently, cousin, than you ever will!
The book brought down entire the bright June-day,
And set me wandering in the garden-walks,
And let me watch the garland in a place,
You blushed so . . nay, forgive me; do not stir:
I only thank the book for what it taught,
And what, permitted. Poet, doubt yourself;
But never doubt that you're a poet to me
From henceforth. Ah, you've written poems, sweet,
Which moved me in secret as the sap is moved
In still March branches, signless as a stone:
But this last book o'ercame me like soft rain
Which falls at midnight, when the tightened bark
Breaks out into unhesitating buds,
And sudden protestations of the spring.
In all your other books I saw but you:
A man may see the moon so, in a pond,
And not the nearer therefore to the moon,
Nor use the sight . . except to drown himself
And so I forced my heart back from the sigh
For what had I, I thought, to do with her,–
Aurora . . Romney? But, in this last book,
You showed me something separate from yourself,
Beyond you; and I bore to take it in,
And let it draw me. You have shown me truths,
O June-day friend, that help me now at night,
When June is over! truths not yours, indeed,
But set within my reach by means of you:
Presented by your voice and verse the way
To take them clearest. Verily I was wrong;
And verily, many thinkers of this age,
Ay, many Christian teachers, half in heaven,
Are wrong in just my sense, who understood
Our natural world too insularly, as if
No spiritual counterpart completed it
Consummating its meaning, rounding all
To justice and perfection, line by line,
Form by form, nothing single, nor alone,–
The great below clenched by the great above;
Shade here authenticating substance there;
The body proving spirit, as the effect
The cause: we, meantime, being too grossly apt
To hold the natural, as dogs a bone,
(Though reason and nature beat us in the face),
So obstinately, that we'll break our teeth
Or ever we let go. For everywhere
We're too materialistic,–eating clay,
(Like men of the west) instead of Adam's corn
And Noah's wine; clay by handfuls, clay by lumps,
Until we're filled up to the throat with clay,
And grow the grimy colour of the ground
On which we are feeding. Ay, materialist
The age's name is. God himself, with some,
Is apprehended as the bare result
Of what his hand materially has made,
Expressed in such an algebraic sign,
Called God;–that is, to put it otherwise,
They add up nature to a naught of God
And cross the quotient. There are many, even,
Whose names are written in the Christian church
To no dishonour,–diet still on mud,
And splash the altars with it. You might think
The clay, Christ laid upon their eyelids when,
Still blind, he called them to the use of sight,
Remained there to retard its exercise
With clogging incrustations. Close to heaven,
They see, for mysteries, through the open doors,
Vague puffs of smoke from pots of earthenware;
And fain would enter, when their time shall come,
With quite a different body than St. Paul
Has promised,–husk and chaff, the whole barley-corn,
Or where's the resurrection?'
'Thus it is,'
I sighed. And he resumed with mournful face.
'Beginning so, and filling up with clay
The wards of this great key, the natural world,
And fumbling vainly therefore at the lock
Of the spiritual,–we feel ourselves shut in
With all the wild-beast roar of struggling life,
The terrors and compunctions of our souls,
As saints with lions,–we who are not saints,
And have no heavenly lordship in our stare
To awe them backward! Ay, we are forced so pent
To judge the whole too partially, . . confound
Conclusions. Is there any common phrase
Significant, when the adverb's heard alone,
The verb being absent, and the pronoun out?
But we distracted in the roar of life,
Still insolently at God's adverb snatch,
And bruit against Him that his thought is void,
His meaning hopeless;–cry, that everywhere
The government is slipping from his hand,
Unless some other Christ . . say Romney Leigh . .
Come up, and toil and moil, and change the world,
For which the First has proved inadequate,
However we talk bigly of His work
And piously of His person. We blaspheme
At last, to finish that doxology,
Despairing on the earth for which He died.'
'So now,' I asked, 'you have more hope of men?'
'I hope,' he answered: 'I am come to think
That God will have his work done, as you said,
And that we need not be disturbed too much
For Romney Leigh or others having failed
With this or that quack nostrum,–recipes
For keeping summits by annulling depths,
For learning wrestling with long lounging sleeves,
And perfect heroism without a scratch.
We fail,–what then? Aurora, if I smiled
To see you, in your lovely morning-pride,
Try on the poet's wreath which suits the noon,–
(Sweet cousin, walls must get the weather-stain
Before they grow the ivy!) certainly
I stood myself there worthier of contempt,
Self-rated, in disastrous arrogance,
As competent to sorrow for mankind
And even their odds. A man may well despair,
Who counts himself so needful to success.
I failed. I throw the remedy back on God,
And sit down here beside you, in good hope.'
'And yet, take heed,' I answered, 'lest we lean
Too dangerously on the other side,
And so fail twice. Be sure, no earnest work
Of any honest creature, howbeit weak,
Imperfect, ill-adapted, fails so much,
It is not gathered as a grain of sand
To enlarge the sum of human action used
For carrying out God's end. No creature works
So ill, observe, that therefore he's cashiered.
The honest earnest man must stand and work:
The woman also; otherwise she drops
At once below the dignity of man,
Accepting serfdom. Free men freely work:
Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease.'
He cried, 'True. After Adam, work was curse;
The natural creature labours, sweats and frets.
But, after Christ, work turns to privilege;
And henceforth one with our humanity,
The Six-day Worker, working still in us,
Has called us freely to work on with Him
In high companionship. So happiest!
I count that Heaven itself is only work
To a surer issue. Let us work, indeed,–
But, no more, work as Adam . . nor as Leigh
Erewhile, as if the only man on earth,
Responsible for all the thistles blown
And tigers couchant,–struggling in amaze
Against disease and winter,–snarling on
For ever, that the world's not paradise.
Oh cousin, let us be content, in work,
To do the thing we can, and not presume
To fret because it's little. 'Twill employ
Seven men, they say, to make a perfect pin!
Who makes the head, content to miss the point,–
Who makes the point, agreed to leave the join:
And if a man should cry, 'I want a pin,
'And I must make it straightway, head and point,'–
His wisdom is not worth the pin he wants.
Seven men to a pin,–and not a man too much!
Seven generations, haply, to this world,
To right it visibly, a finger's breadth,
And mend its rents a little. Oh, to storm
And say,–'This world here is intolerable;
'I will not eat this corn, nor drink this wine,
'Nor love this woman, flinging her my soul
'Without a bond for't, as a lover should,
'Nor use the generous leave of happiness
'As not too good for using generously'–
(Since virtue kindles at the touch of joy,
Like a man's cheek laid on a woman's hand;
And God, who knows it, looks for quick returns
From joys)!–to stand and claim to have a life
Beyond the bounds of the individual man,
And raise all personal cloisters of the soul
To build up public stores and magazines,
As if God's creatures otherwise were lost,
The builder surely saved by any means!
To think,–I have a pattern on my nail,
And I will carve the world new after it,
And solve so, these hard social questions,–nay,
Impossible social questions,–since their roots
Strike deep in Evil's own existence here,
Which God permits because the question's hard
To abolish evil nor attaint free-will.
Ay, hard to God, but not to Romney Leigh!
For Romney has a pattern on his nail,
(Whatever may be lacking on the Mount)
And not being overnice to separate
What's element from what's convention, hastes
By line on line, to draw you out a world,
Without your help indeed, unless you take
His yoke upon you and will learn of him,–
So much he has to teach! so good a world!
The same, the whole creation's groaning for!
No rich nor poor, no gain nor loss nor stint,
No potage in it able to exclude
A brother's birthright, and no right of birth,
The potage,–both secured to every man;
And perfect virtue dealt out like the rest,
Gratuitously, with the soup at six,
To whoso does not seek it.'
I interrupted,–'I had a cousin once
I held in reverence. If he strained too wide,
It was not to take honour, but give help;
The gesture was heroic. If his hand
Accomplished nothing . . (well, it is not proved)
That empty hand thrown impotently out
Were sooner caught, I think, by One in heaven,
Than many a hand that reaped a harvest in
And keeps the scythe's glow on it. Pray you, then,
For my sake merely, use less bitterness
In speaking of my cousin.'
'Ah,' he said,
'Aurora! when the prophet beats the ass,
The angel intercedes.' He shook his head–
'And yet to mean so well, and fail so foul,
Expresses ne'er another beast than man;
The antithesis is human. Harken, dear;
There's too much abstract willing, purposing,
In this poor world. We talk by aggregates,
And think by systems; and, being used to face
Our evils in statistics, are inclined
To cap them with unreal remedies
Drawn out in haste on the other side the slate.'
'That's true,' I answered, fain to throw up thought
And make a game of't; 'Oh, we generalise
Enough to please you. If we pray at all,
We pray no longer for our daily bread,
But next centenary's harvests. If we give,
Our cup of water is not tendered till
We lay down pipes and found a Company
With Branches. Ass or angel, 'tis the same:
A woman cannot do the thing she ought,
Which means whatever perfect thing she can,
In life, in art, in science, but she fears
To let the perfect action take her part
And rest there: she must prove what she can do
Before she does it,–prate of woman's rights,
Of woman's mission, woman's function, till
The men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry,
'A woman's function plainly is . . to talk.
Poor souls, they are very reasonably vexed!
They cannot hear each other speak.'
An artist, judge so?'
'I, an artist,–yes,
Because, precisely, I'm an artist, sir,
And woman,–if another sate in sight,
I'd whisper,–soft, my sister! not a word!
By speaking we prove only we can speak:
Which he, the man here, never doubted. What
He doubts, is whether we can do the thing
With decent grace, we've not yet done at all:
Now, do it; bring your statue,–you have room!
He'll see it even by the starlight here;
And if 'tis e'er so little like the god
Who looks out from the marble silently
Along the track of his own shining dart
Through the dusk of ages,–there's no need to speak;
The universe shall henceforth speak for you,
And witness, 'She who did this thing, was born
To do it,–claims her license in her work.'
–And so with more works. Whoso cures the plague,
Though twice a woman, shall be called a leech:
Who rights a land's finances, is excused
For touching coppers, though her hands be white,–
But we, we talk!'
'It is the age's mood,'
He said; 'we boast, and do not. We put up
Hostelry signs where'er we lodge a day,–
Some red colossal cow, with mighty paps
A Cyclops' fingers could not strain to milk;
Then bring out presently our saucer-full
of curds. We want more quiet in our works,
More knowledge of the bounds in which we work;
More knowledge that each individual man
Remains an Adam to the general race,
Constrained to see, like Adam, that he keep
His personal state's condition honestly,
Or vain all thoughts of his to help the world,
Which still must be developed from its one,
If bettered in its many. We, indeed,
Who think to lay it out new like a park,
We take a work on us which is not man's;
For God alone sits far enough above,
To speculate so largely. None of us
(Not Romney Leigh) is mad enough to say,
We'll have a grove of oaks upon that slope
And sink the need of acorns. Government,
If veritable and lawful, is not given
By imposition of the foreign hand,–
Nor chosen from a pretty pattern-book
Of some domestic idealogue, who sits
And coldly chooses empire, where as well
He might republic. Genuine government
Is but the expression of a nation, good
Or less good,–even as all society,
Howe'er unequal, monstrous, crazed and cursed,
Is but the expression of men's single lives,
The loud sum of the silent units. What,
We'd change the aggregate and yet retain
Each separate figure? Whom do we cheat by that?
Now, not even Romney.'
'Cousin, you are sad.
Did all your social labour at Leigh Hall
And elsewhere, come to nought then?'
'It was nought,'
He answered mildly. 'There is room indeed,
For statues still, in this large world of God's,
But not for vacuums,–so I am not sad:
Not sadder than is good for what I am.
My vain phalanstery dissolved itself;
My men and women of disordered lives,
I brought in orderly to dine and sleep,
Broke up those waxen masks I made them wear,
With fierce contortions of the natural face;
And cursed me for my tyrannous constraint
In forcing crooked creatures to live straight;
And set the country hounds upon my back
To bite and tear me for my wicked deed
Of trying to do good without the church
Or even the squires, Aurora. Do you mind
Your ancient neighbours? The great book-club teems
With 'sketches,' 'summaries,' and 'last tracts' but twelve,
On socialistic troublers of close bonds
Betwixt the generous rich and grateful poor.
The vicar preached from 'Revelations,' (till
The doctor woke) and found me with 'the frogs'
On three successive Sundays; ay, and stopped
To weep a little (for he's getting old)
That such perdition should o'ertake a man
Of such fair acres,–in the parish, too!
He printed his discourses 'by request;'
And if your book shall sell as his did, then
Your verses are less good than I suppose.
The women of the neighbourhood subscribed,
And sent me a copy bound in scarlet silk,
Tooled edges, blazoned with the arms of Leigh:
I own that touched me.'
'What, the pretty ones?
'Otherwise the effect was small.
I had my windows broken once or twice
By liberal peasants, naturally incensed
At such a vexer of Arcadian peace,
Who would not let men call their wives their own
To kick like Britons,–and made obstacles
When things went smoothly as a baby drugged,
Toward freedom and starvation; bringing down
The wicked London tavern-thieves and drabs,
To affront the blessed hillside drabs and thieves
With mended morals, quotha,–fine new lives!–
My windows paid for't. I was shot at, once,
By an active poacher who had hit a hare
From the other barrel, tired of springeing game
So long upon my acres, undisturbed,
And restless for the country's virtue, (yet
He missed me)–ay, and pelted very oft
In riding through the village. 'There he goes,
'Who'd drive away our Christian gentlefolks,
'To catch us undefended in the trap
'He baits with poisonous cheese, and locks us up
'In that pernicious prison of Leigh Hall
'With all his murderers! Give another name,
'And say Leigh Hell, and burn it up with fire.'
And so they did at last, Aurora.'
'You never heard it, cousin? Vincent's news
Came stinted, then.'
'They did? they burnt Leigh Hall?'
'You're sorry, dear Aurora? Yes indeed,
They did it perfectly: a thorough work,
And not a failure, this time. Let us grant
'Tis somewhat easier, though, to burn a house
Than build a system:–yet that's easy, too,
In a dream. Books, pictures,–ay, the pictures what,
You think your dear Vandykes would give them pause?
Our proud ancestral Leighs with those peaked beards,
Or bosoms white as foam thrown up on rocks
From the old-spent wave. Such calm defiant looks
They flared up with! now, nevermore they'll twit
The bones in the family-vault with ugly death.
Not one was rescued, save the Lady Maud,
Who threw you down, that morning you were born,
The undeniable lineal mouth and chin,
To wear for ever for her gracious sake;
For which good deed I saved her: the rest went:
And you, your sorry, cousin. Well, for me,
With all my phalansterians safely out,
(Poor hearts, they helped the burners, it was said,
And certainly a few clapped hands and yelled)
The ruin did not hurt me as it might,–
As when for instance I was hurt one day,
A certain letter being destroyed. In fact,
To see the great house flare so . . oaken floors,
Our fathers made so fine with rushes once,
Before our mothers furbished them with trains,–
Carved wainscots, panelled walls, the favourite slide
For draining off a martyr, (or a rogue)
The echoing galleries, half a half-mile long,
And all the various stairs that took you up
And took you down, and took you round about
Upon their slippery darkness, recollect,
All helping to keep up one blazing jest;
The flames through all the casements pushing forth,
Like red-hot devils crinkled into snakes,
All signifying,–'Look you, Romney Leigh,
'We save the people from your saving, here,
'Yet so as by fire! we make a pretty show
'Besides,–and that's the best you've ever done.'–
–To see this, almost moved myself to clap!
The 'vale et plaude' came, too, with effect,
When, in the roof fell, and the fire, that paused,
Stunned momently beneath the stroke of slates
And tumbling rafters, rose at once and roared,
And wrapping the whole house, (which disappeared
In a mounting whirlwind of dilated flame,)
Blew upward, straight, its drift of fiery chaff
In the face of heaven, . . which blenched and ran up higher.'
'Sometimes when I dream,' he said,
'I hear the silence after; 'twas so still.
For all those wild beasts, yelling, cursing round,
Were suddenly silent, while you counted five!
So silent, that you heard a young bird fall
From the top-nest in the neighbouring rookery
Through edging over-rashly toward the light.
The old rooks had already fled too far,
To hear the screech they fled with, though you saw
Some flying on still, like scatterings of dead leaves
In autumn-gusts, seen dark against the sky:
All flying,–ousted, like the house of Leigh.'
'Evidently 'twould have been
A fine sight for a poet, sweet, like you,
To make the verse blaze after. I myself,
Even I, felt something in the grand old trees,
Which stood that moment like brute Druid gods,
Amazed upon the rim of ruin, where,
As into a blackened socket, the great fire
Had dropped,–still throwing up splinters now and then,
To show them grey with all their centuries,
Left there to witness that on such a day
The house went out.'
'While you counted five
I seemed to feel a little like a Leigh,–
But then it passed, Aurora. A child cried;
And I had enough to think of what to do
With all those houseless wretches in the dark,
And ponder where they'd dance the next time, they
Who had burnt the viol.'
'Did you think of that?
Who burns his viol will not dance, I know,
To cymbals, Romney.'
'O my sweet sad voice,'
He cried,–'O voice that speaks and overcomes!
The sun is silent, but Aurora speaks.'
'Alas,' I said; 'I speak I know not what:
I'm back in childhood, thinking as a child,
A foolish fancy–will it make you smile?
I shall not from the window of my room
Catch sight of those old chimneys any more.'
'No more,' he answered. 'If you pushed one day
Through all the green hills to our father's house,
You'd come upon a great charred circle where
The patient earth was singed an acre round;
With one stone-stair, symbolic of my life,
Ascending, winding, leading up to nought!
'Tis worth a poet's seeing. Will you go?'
I made no answer. Had I any right
To weep with this man, that I dared to speak!
A woman stood between his soul and mine,
And waved us off from touching evermore
With those unclean white hands of hers. Enough.
We had burnt our viols and were silent.
The silence lengthened till it pressed. I spoke,
To breathe: 'I think you were ill afterward.'
'More ill,' he answered, 'had been scarcely ill.
I hoped this feeble fumbling at life's knot
Might end concisely,–but I failed to die,
As formerly I failed to live,–and thus
Grew willing, having tried all other ways,
To try just God's. Humility's so good,
When pride's impossible. Mark us, how we make
Our virtues, cousin, from our worn-out sins,
Which smack of them from henceforth. Is it right,
For instance, to wed here, while you love there?
And yet because a man sins once, the sin
Cleaves to him, in necessity to sin;
That if he sin not so, to damn himself,
He sins so, to damn others with himself:
And thus, to wed here, loving there, becomes
A duty. Virtue buds a dubious leaf
Round mortal brows; your ivy's better, dear.
–Yet she, 'tis certain, is my very wife;
The very lamb left mangled by the wolves
Through my own bad shepherding: and could I choose
But take her on my shoulder past this stretch
Of rough, uneasy wilderness, poor lamb,
Poor child, poor child?–Aurora, my beloved,
I will not vex you any more to-night;
But, having spoken what I came to say,
The rest shall please you. What she can, in me,–
Protection, tender liking, freedom, ease,
She shall have surely, liberally, for her
And hers, Aurora. Small amends they'll make
For hideous evils (which she had not known
Except by me) and for this imminent loss,
This forfeit presence of a gracious friend,
Which also she must forfeit for my sake,
Since, . . . drop your hand in mine a moment, sweet,
We're parting!–Ah, my snowdrop, what a touch,
As if the wind had swept it off! you grudge
Your gelid sweetness on my palm but so,
A moment? angry, that I could not bear
You . . speaking, breathing, living, side by side
With some one called my wife . . and live, myself?
Nay, be not cruel–you must understand!
Your lightest footfall on a floor of mine
Would shake the house, my lintel being uncrossed
'Gainst angels: henceforth it is night with me,
And so, henceforth, I put the shutters up;
Auroras must not come to spoil my dark.'
He smiled so feebly, with an empty hand
Stretched sideway from me,–as indeed he looked
To any one but me to give him help,–
And, while the moon came suddenly out full,
The double rose of our Italian moons,
Sufficient, plainly, for the heaven and earth,
(The stars, struck dumb and washed away in dews
Of golden glory, and the mountains steeped
In divine languor) he, the man, appeared
So pale and patient, like the marble man
A sculptor puts his personal sadness in
To join his grandeur of ideal thought,–
As if his mallet struck me from my height
Of passionate indignation, I who had risen
Pale,–doubting, paused, . . . . Was Romney mad indeed?
Had all this wrong of heart made sick the brain?
Then quiet, with a sort of tremulous pride,
'Go, cousin,' I said coldly. 'A farewell
Was sooner spoken 'twixt a pair of friends
In those old days, than seems to suit you now:
And if, since then, I've writ a book or two,
I'm somewhat dull still in the manly art
Of phrase and metaphrase. Why, any man
Can carve a score of white Loves out of snow,
As Buonarroti down in Florence there,
And set them on the wall in some safe shade,
As safe, sir, as your marriage! very good;
Though if a woman took one from the ledge
To put it on the table by her flowers,
And let it mind her of a certain friend,
'Twould drop at once, (so better,) would not bear
Her nail-mark even, where she took it up
A little tenderly; so best, I say:
For me, I would not touch so light a thing,
And risk to spoil it half an hour before
The sun shall shine to melt it; leave it there.
I'm plain at speech, direct in purpose: when
I speak, you'll take the meaning as it is,
And not allow for puckerings in the silks
By clever stitches. I'm a woman, sir,
And use the woman's figures naturally,
As you, the male license. So, I wish you well.
I'm simply sorry for the griefs you've had–
And not for your sake only, but mankind's.
This race is never grateful: from the first,
One fills their cup at supper with pure wine,
Which back they give at cross-time on a sponge,
In bitter vinegar.'
He murmured,–'by so much less pitiable!
God's self would never have come down to die,
Could man have thanked him for it.'
'Tis patent that, whatever,' I resumed,
'You suffered from this thanklessness of men,
You sink no more than Moses' bulrush-boat,
When once relieved of Moses; for you're light,
You're light, my cousin! which is well for you,
And manly. For myself,–now mark me, sir,
They burnt Leigh Hall; but if, consummated
To devils, heightened beyond Lucifers,
They had burnt instead a star or two, of those
We saw above there just a moment back,
Before the moon abolished them,–destroyed
And riddled them in ashes through a sieve
On the head of the foundering universe,–what then?
If you and I remained still you and I,
It would not shift our places as mere friends,
Nor render decent you should toss a phrase
Beyond the point of actual feeling!–nay
You shall not interrupt me: as you said,
We're parting. Certainly, not once or twice,
To-night you've mocked me somewhat, or yourself,
And I, at least, have not deserved it so
That I should meet it unsurprised. But now,
Enough: we're parting . . parting. Cousin Leigh,
I wish you well through all the acts of life
And life's relation, wedlock, not the least;
And it shall 'please me,' in your words, to know
You yield your wife, protection, freedom, ease,
And very tender liking. May you live
So happy with her, Romney, that your friends
May praise her for it. Meantime, some of us
Are wholly dull in keeping ignorant
Of what she has suffered by you, and what debt
Of sorrow your rich love sits down to pay:
But if 'tis sweet for love to pay its debt,
'Tis sweeter still for love to give its gift;
and you, be liberal in the sweeter way,–
You can, I think. At least, as touches me,
You owe her, cousin Romney, no amends;
She is not used to hold my gown so fast,
You need entreat her now to let it go:
The lady never was a friend of mine,
Nor capable,–I thought you knew as much,–
Of losing for your sake so poor a prize
As such a worthless friendship. Be content,
Good cousin, therefore, both for her and you!
I'll never spoil your dark, nor dull your noon,
Nor vex you when you're merry, nor when you rest:
You shall not need to put a shutter up
To keep out this Aurora. Ah, your north
Can make Auroras which vex nobody,
Scarce known from evenings! also, let me say,
My larks fly higher than some windows. Right;
You've read your Leighs. Indeed 'twould shake a house,
If such as I came in with outstretched hand,
Still warm and thrilling from the clasp of one . .
Of one we know, . . to acknowledge, palm to palm,
As mistress there . . the Lady Waldemar.'
'Now God be with us' . . with a sudden clash
Of voice he interrupted–'what name's that?
You spoke a name, Aurora.'
I would that, Romney, I could name your wife
Nor wound you, yet be worthy.'
'Are we mad?'
He echoed–'wife! mine! Lady Waldemar!
I think you said my wife.' He sprang to his feet,
And threw his noble head back toward the moon
As one who swims against a stormy sea,
And laughed with such a helpless, hopeless scorn,
I stood and trembled.
'May God judge me so,'
He said at last,–'I came convicted here,
And humbled sorely if not enough. I came,
Because this woman from her crystal soul
Had shown me something which a man calls light:
Because too, formerly, I sinned by her
As, then and ever since, I have, by God,
Through arrogance of nature,–though I loved . .
Whom best, I need not say, . . since that is writ
Too plainly in the book of my misdeeds;
And thus I came here to abase myself,
And fasten, kneeling, on her regent brows
A garland which I startled thence one day
Of her beautiful June-youth. But here again
I'm baffled!–fail in my abasement as
My aggrandisement: there's no room left for me,
At any woman's foot, who misconceives
My nature, purpose, possible actions. What!
Are you the Aurora who made large my dreams
To frame your greatness? you conceive so small?
You stand so less than woman, through being more,
And lose your natural instinct, like a beast,
Through intellectual culture? since indeed
I do not think that any common she
Would dare adopt such fancy-forgeries
For the legible life-signature of such
As I, with all my blots: with all my blots!
At last then, peerless cousin, we are peers–
At last we're even. Ah, you've left your height:
And here upon my level we take hands,
And here I reach you to forgive you, sweet,
And that's a fall, Aurora. Long ago
You seldom understood me,–but, before,
I could not blame you. Then you only seemed
So high above, you could not see below;
But now I breathe,–but now I pardon!–nay,
We're parting. Dearest, men have burnt my house,
Maligned my motives,–but not one, I swear,
Has wronged my soul as this Aurora has,
Who called the Lady Waldemar my wife.'
'Not married to her! yet you said' . .
Nay, read the lines' (he held a letter out)
'She sent you through me.'
By the moonlight there,
I tore the meaning out with passionate haste
Much rather than I read it. Thus it ran.
I sing the fates of Gebir. He had dwelt
Among those mountain-caverns which retain
His labours yet, vast halls and flowing wells,
Nor have forgotten their old master's name
Though severed from his people here, incensed
By meditating on primeval wrongs,
He blew his battle-horn, at which uprose
Whole nations; here, ten thousand of most might
He called aloud, and soon Charoba saw
His dark helm hover o'er the land of Nile,
What should the virgin do? should royal knees
Bend suppliant, or defenceless hands engage
Men of gigantic force, gigantic arms?
For 'twas reported that nor sword sufficed,
Nor shield immense nor coat of massive mail,
But that upon their towering heads they bore
Each a huge stone, refulgent as the stars.
This told she Dalica, then cried aloud:
'If on your bosom laying down my head
I sobbed away the sorrows of a child,
If I have always, and Heaven knows I have,
Next to a mother's held a nurse's name,
Succour this one distress, recall those days,
Love me, though 'twere because you loved me then.'
But whether confident in magic rites
Or touched with sexual pride to stand implored,
Dalica smiled, then spake: 'Away those fears.
Though stronger than the strongest of his kind,
He falls-on me devolve that charge; he falls.
Rather than fly him, stoop thou to allure;
Nay, journey to his tents: a city stood
Upon that coast, they say, by Sidad built,
Whose father Gad built Gadir; on this ground
Perhaps he sees an ample room for war.
Persuade him to restore the walls himself
In honour of his ancestors, persuade -
But wherefore this advice? young, unespoused,
Charoba want persuasions! and a queen!'
'O Dalica!' the shuddering maid exclaimed,
'Could I encounter that fierce, frightful man?
Could I speak? no, nor sigh!'
'And canst thou reign?'
Cried Dalica; 'yield empire or comply.'
Unfixed though seeming fixed, her eyes downcast,
The wonted buzz and bustle of the court
From far through sculptured galleries met her ear;
Then lifting up her head, the evening sun
Poured a fresh splendour on her burnished throne-
The fair Charoba, the young queen, complied.
But Gebir when he heard of her approach
Laid by his orbed shield, his vizor-helm,
His buckler and his corset he laid by,
And bade that none attend him; at his side
Two faithful dogs that urge the silent course,
Shaggy, deep-chested, crouched; the crocodile,
Crying, oft made them raise their flaccid ears
And push their heads within their master's hand.
There was a brightening paleness in his face,
Such as Diana rising o'er the rocks
Showered on the lonely Latmian; on his brow
Sorrow there was, yet nought was there severe.
But when the royal damsel first he saw,
Faint, hanging on her handmaids, and her knees
Tottering, as from the motion of the car,
His eyes looked earnest on her, and those eyes
Showed, if they had not, that they might have loved,
For there was pity in them at that hour.
With gentle speech, and more with gentle looks
He soothed her; but lest Pity go beyond,
And crossed Ambition lose her lofty aim,
Bending, he kissed her garment and retired.
He went, nor slumbered in the sultry noon
When viands, couches, generous wines persuade
And slumber most refreshes, nor at night,
When heavy dews are laden with disease,
And blindness waits not there for lingering age.
Ere morning dawned behind him, he arrived
At those rich meadows where young Tamar fed
The royal flocks entrusted to his care.
'Now,' said he to himself, 'will I repose
At least this burthen on a brother's breast.'
His brother stood before him. He, amazed,
Reared suddenly his head, and thus began:
'Is it thou, brother! Tamar, is it thou!
Why, standing on the valley's utmost verge,
Lookest thou on that dull and dreary shore
Where many a league Nile blackens all the sand.
And why that sadness? when I passed our sheep
The dew-drops were not shaken off the bar;
Therefore if one be wanting 'tis untold.'
'Yes, one is wanting, nor is that untold.'
Said Tamar; 'and this dull and dreary shore
Is neither dull nor dreary at all hours.'
Whereon the tear stole silent down his cheek,
Silent, but not by Gebir unobserved:
Wondering he gazed awhile, and pitying spake:
'Let me approach thee; does the morning light
Scatter this wan suffusion o'er thy brow,
This faint blue lustre under both thine eyes?'
'O brother, is this pity or reproach?'
Cried Tamar; 'cruel if it be reproach,
If pity, oh, how vain!'
'Whate'er it be
That grieves thee, I will pity: thou but speak
And I can tell thee, Tamar, pang for pang.'
'Gebir! then more than brothers are we now!
Everything, take my hand, will I confess.
I neither feed the flock nor watch the fold;
How can I, lost in love? But, Gebir, why
That anger which has risen to your cheek?
Can other men? could you?-what, no reply!
And still more anger, and still worse concealed!
Are these your promises, your pity this?'
'Tamar, I well may pity what I feel-
Mark me aright-I feel for thee-proceed-
Relate me all.'
'Then will I all relate,'
Said the young shepherd, gladdened from his heart.
''Twas evening, though not sunset, and springtide
Level with these green meadows, seemed still higher.
'Twas pleasant; and I loosened from my neck
The pipe you gave me, and began to play.
Oh, that I ne'er had learnt the tuneful art!
It always brings us enemies or love!
Well, I was playing, when above the waves
Some swimmer's head methought I saw ascend;
I, sitting still, surveyed it, with my pipe
Awkwardly held before my lips half-closed.
Gebir! it was a nymph! a nymph divine!
I cannot wait describing how she came,
How I was sitting, how she first assumed
The sailor; of what happened there remains
Enough to say, and too much to forget.
The sweet deceiver stepped upon this bank
Before I was aware; for with surprise
Moments fly rapid as with love itself.
Stooping to tune afresh the hoarsened reed,
I heard a rustling, and where that arose
My glance first lighted on her nimble feet.
Her feet resembled those long shells explored
By him who to befriend his steed's dim sight
Would blow the pungent powder in the eye.
Her eyes too! O immortal gods! her eyes
Resembled-what could they resemble? what
Ever resemble those! E'en her attire
Was not of wonted woof nor vulgar art:
Her mantle showed the yellow samphire-pod,
Her girdle the dove-coloured wave serene.
'Shepherd,' said she, 'and will you wrestle now
And with the sailor's hardier race engage?'
I was rejoiced to hear it, and contrived
How to keep up contention; could I fail
By pressing not too strongly, yet to press?
'Whether a shepherd, as indeed you seem,
Or whether of the hardier race you boast,
I am not daunted, no; I will engage.
But first,' said she, 'what wager will you lay?'
'A sheep,' I answered; 'add whate'er you will.'
'I cannot,' she replied, 'make that return:
Our hided vessels in their pitchy round
Seldom, unless from rapine, hold a sheep.
But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
Within, and they that lustre have imbibed
In the sun's palace porch, where when unyoked
His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave:
Shake one and it awakens, then apply
Its polished lips to your attentive ear,
And it remembers its august abodes,
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.
And I have others given me by the nymphs,
Of sweeter sound than any pipe you have.
But we, by Neptune, for no pipe contend -
This time a sheep I win, a pipe the next.'
Now came she forward eager to engage,
But first her dress, her bosom then surveyed,
And heaved it, doubting if she could deceive.
Her bosom seemed, enclosed in haze like heaven,
To baffle touch, and rose forth undefined:
Above her knees she drew the robe succinct,
Above her breast, and just below her arms.
'This will preserve my breath when tightly bound,
If struggle and equal strength should so constrain.'
Thus, pulling hard to fasten it, she spake,
And, rushing at me, closed: I thrilled throughout
And seemed to lessen and shrink up with cold.
Again with violent impulse gushed my blood,
And hearing nought external, thus absorbed,
I heard it, rushing through each turbid vein,
Shake my unsteady swimming sight in air.
Yet with unyielding though uncertain arms
I clung around her neck; the vest beneath
Rustled against our slippery limbs entwined:
Often mine springing with eluded force
Started aside, and trembled till replaced:
And when I most succeeded, as I thought,
My bosom and my throat felt so compressed
That life was almost quivering on my lips,
Yet nothing was there painful! these are signs
Of secret arts and not of human might-
What arts I cannot tell-I only know
My eyes grew dizzy, and my strength decayed.
I was indeed o'ercome! with what regret,
And more, with what confusion, when I reached
The fold, and yielding up the sheep, she cried:
'This pays a shepherd to a conquering maid.'
She smiled, and more of pleasure than disdain
Was in her dimpled chin and liberal lip,
And eyes that languished, lengthening, just like love.
She went away; I on the wicker gate
Leant, and could follow with my eyes alone.
The sheep she carried easy as a cloak;
But when I heard its bleating, as I did,
And saw, she hastening on, its hinder feet
Struggle and from her snowy shoulder slip -
One shoulder its poor efforts had unveiled -
Then all my passions mingling fell in tears;
Restless then ran I to the highest ground
To watch her-she was gone-gone down the tide -
And the long moonbeam on the hard wet sand
Lay like a jasper column half-upreared.'
'But, Tamar! tell me, will she not return?
'She will return, yet not before the moon
Again is at the full; she promised this,
Though when she promised I could not reply.'
'By all the gods I pity thee! go on -
Fear not my anger, look not on my shame;
For when a lover only hears of love
He finds his folly out, and is ashamed.
Away with watchful nights and lonely days,
Contempt of earth and aspect up to heaven,
Within contemplation, with humility,
A tattered cloak that pride wears when deformed,
Away with all that hides me from myself,
Parts me from others, whispers I am wise-
From our own wisdom less is to be reaped
Than from the barest folly of our friend.
Tamar! thy pastures, large and rich, afford
Flowers to thy bees and herbage to thy sheep,
But, battened on too much, the poorest croft
Of thy poor neighbour yields what thine denies.'
They hastened to the camp, and Gebir there
Resolved his native country to forego,
And ordered, from those ruins to the right
They forthwith raise a city: Tamar heard
With wonder, though in passing 'twas half-told,
His brother's love, and sighed upon his own.
The Gadite men the royal charge obey.
Now fragments weighed up from th' uneven streets
Leave the ground black beneath; again the sun
Shines into what were porches, and on steps
Once warm with frequentation-clients, friends,
All morning, satchelled idlers all mid-day,
Lying half-up and languid though at games.
Some raise the painted pavement, some on wheels
Draw slow its laminous length, some intersperse
Salt waters through the sordid heaps, and seize
The flowers and figures starting fresh to view.
Others rub hard large masses, and essay
To polish into white what they misdeem
The growing green of many trackless years.
Far off at intervals the axe resounds
With regular strong stroke, and nearer home
Dull falls the mallet with long labour fringed.
Here arches are discovered, there huge beams
Resist the hatchet, but in fresher air
Soon drop away: there spreads a marble squared
And smoothened; some high pillar for its base
Chose it, which now lies ruined in the dust.
Clearing the soil at bottom, they espy
A crevice: they, intent on treasure, strive
Strenuous, and groan, to move it: one exclaims,
'I hear the rusty metal grate; it moves!'
Now, overturning it, backward they start,
And stop again, and see a serpent pant,
See his throat thicken, and the crisped scales
Rise ruffled, while upon the middle fold
He keeps his wary head and blinking eye,
Curling more close and crouching ere he strike.
Go mighty men, invade far cities, go -
And be such treasure portions to your heirs.
Six days they laboured: on the seventh day
Returning, all their labours were destroyed.
'Twas not by mortal hand, or from their tents
'Twere visible; for these were now removed
Above, here neither noxious mist ascends
Nor the way wearies ere the work begin.
There Gebir, pierced with sorrow, spake these words:
'Ye men of Gades, armed with brazen shields,
And ye of near Tartessus, where the shore
Stoops to receive the tribute which all owe
To Boetis and his banks for their attire,
Ye too whom Durius bore on level meads,
Inherent in your hearts is bravery:
For earth contains no nation where abounds
The generous horse and not the warlike man.
But neither soldier now nor steed avails:
Nor steed nor soldier can oppose the gods:
Nor is there ought above like Jove himself;
Nor weighs against his purpose, when once fixed,
Aught but, with supplicating knee, the prayers.
Swifter than light are they, and every face,
Though different, glows with beauty; at the throne
Of mercy, when clouds shut it from mankind,
They fall bare-bosomed, and indignant Jove
Drops at the soothing sweetness of their voice
The thunder from his hand; let us arise
On these high places daily, beat our breast,
Prostrate ourselves and deprecate his wrath.'
The people bowed their bodies and obeyed:
Nine mornings with white ashes on their heads,
Lamented they their toil each night o'erthrown.
And now the largest orbit of the year,
Leaning o'er black Mocattam's rubied brow,
Proceeded slow, majestic, and serene,
Now seemed not further than the nearest cliff,
And crimson light struck soft the phosphor wave.
Then Gebir spake to Tamar in these words:
'Tamar! I am thy elder and thy king,
But am thy brother too, nor ever said,
'Give me thy secret and become my slave:'
But haste thee not away; I will myself
Await the nymph, disguised in thy attire.'
Then starting from attention Tamar cried:
'Brother! in sacred truth it cannot be!
My life is yours, my love must be my own:
Oh, surely he who seeks a second love
Never felt one, or 'tis not one I feel.'
But Gebir with complacent smile replied:
'Go then, fond Tamar, go in happy hour-
But ere thou partest ponder in thy breast
And well bethink thee, lest thou part deceived,
Will she disclose to thee the mysteries
Of our calamity? and unconstrained?
When even her love thy strength had to disclose.
My heart indeed is full, but witness heaven!
My people, not my passion, fills my heart.'
'Then let me kiss thy garment,' said the youth,
'And heaven be with thee, and on me thy grace.'
Him then the monarch thus once more addressed:
'Be of good courage: hast thou yet forgot
What chaplets languished round thy unburnt hair,
In colour like some tall smooth beech's leaves
Curled by autumnal suns?'
Excites a pleasant, soothes a painful shame!
'These,' amid stifled blushes Tamar said,
'Were of the flowering raspberry and vine:
But, ah! the seasons will not wait for love;
Seek out some other now.'
They parted here:
And Gebir bending through the woodlands culled
The creeping vine and viscous raspberry,
Less green and less compliant than they were;
And twisted in those mossy tufts that grow
On brakes of roses when the roses fade:
And as he passes on, the little hinds
That shake for bristly herds the foodful bough,
Wonder, stand still, gaze, and trip satisfied;
Pleased more if chestnut, out of prickly husk
Shot from the sandal, roll along the glade.
And thus unnoticed went he, and untired
Stepped up the acclivity; and as he stepped,
And as the garlands nodded o'er his brow,
Sudden from under a close alder sprang
Th' expectant nymph, and seized him unaware.
He staggered at the shock; his feet at once
Slipped backward from the withered grass short-grazed;
But striking out one arm, though without aim,
Then grasping with his other, he enclosed
The struggler; she gained not one step's retreat,
Urging with open hands against his throat
Intense, now holding in her breath constrained,
Now pushing with quick impulse and by starts,
Till the dust blackened upon every pore.
Nearer he drew her and yet nearer, clasped
Above the knees midway, and now one arm
Fell, and her other lapsing o'er the neck
Of Gebir swung against his back incurved,
The swoll'n veins glowing deep, and with a groan
On his broad shoulder fell her face reclined.
But ah, she knew not whom that roseate face
Cooled with its breath ambrosial; for she stood
High on the bank, and often swept and broke
His chaplets mingled with her loosened hair.
Whether while Tamar tarried came desire,
And she grown languid loosed the wings of love,
Which she before held proudly at her will,
And nought but Tamar in her soul, and nought
Where Tamar was that seemed or feared deceit,
To fraud she yielded what no force had gained -
Or whether Jove in pity to mankind,
When from his crystal fount the visual orbs
He filled with piercing ether and endued
With somewhat of omnipotence, ordained
That never two fair forms at once torment
The human heart and draw it different ways,
And thus in prowess like a god the chief
Subdued her strength nor softened at her charms-
The nymph divine, the magic mistress, failed.
Recovering, still half resting on the turf,
She looked up wildly, and could now descry
The kingly brow, arched lofty for command.
'Traitor!' said she, undaunted, though amaze
Threw o'er her varying cheek the air of fear,
'Thinkest thou thus that with impunity
Thou hast forsooth deceived me? dar'st thou deem
Those eyes not hateful that have seen me fall?
O heaven! soon may they close on my disgrace.
Merciless man, what! for one sheep estranged
Hast thou thrown into dungeons and of day
Amerced thy shepherd? hast thou, while the iron
Pierced through his tender limbs into his soul,
By threats, by tortures, torn out that offence,
And heard him (oh, could I!) avow his love?
Say, hast thou? cruel, hateful!-ah my fears!
I feel them true! speak, tell me, are they true?'
She blending thus entreaty with reproach
Bent forward, as though falling on her knee
Whence she had hardly risen, and at this pause
Shed from her large dark eyes a shower of tears.
Th' Iberian king her sorrow thus consoled.
'Weep no more, heavenly damsel, weep no more:
Neither by force withheld, or choice estranged
Thy Tamar lives, and only lives for thee.
Happy, thrice happy, you! 'tis me alone
Whom heaven and earth and ocean with one hate
Conspire on, and throughout each path pursue.
Whether in waves beneath or skies above
Thou hast thy habitation, 'tis from heaven,
From heaven alone, such power, such charms, descend.
Then oh! discover whence that ruin comes
Each night upon our city, whence are heard
Those yells of rapture round our fallen walls:
In our affliction can the gods delight,
Or meet oblation for the nymphs are tears?'
He spake, and indignation sank in woe.
Which she perceiving, pride refreshed her heart,
Hope wreathed her mouth with smiles, and she exclaimed:
'Neither the gods afflict you, nor the nymphs.
Return me him who won my heart, return
Him whom my bosom pants for, as the steeds
In the sun's chariot for the western wave,
The gods will prosper thee, and Tamar prove
How nymphs the torments that they cause assuage.
Promise me this! indeed I think thou hast,
But 'tis so pleasing, promise it once more.'
'Once more I promise,' cried the gladdened king,
'By my right hand and by myself I swear,
And ocean's gods and heaven's gods I adjure,
Thou shalt be Tamar's, Tamar shalt be thine.'
Then she, regarding him long fixed, replied:
'I have thy promise, take thou my advice.
Gebir, this land of Egypt is a land
Of incantation, demons rule these waves;
These are against thee, these thy works destroy.
Where thou hast built thy palace, and hast left
The seven pillars to remain in front,
Sacrifice there, and all these rites observe.
Go, but go early, ere the gladsome Hours,
Strew saffron in the path of rising Morn,
Ere the bee buzzing o'er flowers fresh disclosed
Examine where he may the best alight
Nor scatter off the bloom, ere cold-lipped herds
Crop the pale herbage round each other's bed,
Lead seven bulls, well pastured and well formed,
Their neck unblemished and their horns unringed,
And at each pillar sacrifice thou one.
Around each base rub thrice the black'ning blood,
And burn the curling shavings of the hoof;
And of the forehead locks thou also burn:
The yellow galls, with equal care preserved,
Pour at the seventh statue from the north.'
He listened, and on her his eyes intent
Perceived her not, and she had disappeared -
So deep he pondered her important words.
And now had morn arisen and he performed
Almost the whole enjoined him: he had reached
The seventh statue, poured the yellow galls,
The forelock from his left he had released
And burnt the curling shavings of the hoof
Moistened with myrrh; when suddenly a flame
Spired from the fragrant smoke, nor sooner spired
Down sank the brazen fabric at his feet.
He started back, gazed, nor could aught but gaze,
And cold dread stiffened up his hair flower-twined;
Then with a long and tacit step, one arm
Behind, and every finger wide outspread,
He looked and tottered on a black abyss.
He thought he sometimes heard a distant voice
Breathe through the cavern's mouth, and further on
Faint murmurs now, now hollow groans reply.
Therefore suspended he his crook above,
Dropped it, and heard it rolling step by step:
He entered, and a mingled sound arose
Like one (when shaken from some temple's roof
By zealous hand, they and their fretted nest)
Of birds that wintering watch in Memnon's tomb,
And tell the halcyons when spring first returns.
On, for the spirit of that matchless man
Whom Nature led throughout her whole domain,
While he embodied breathed etherial air!
Though panting in the play-hour of my youth
I drank of Avon too, a dangerous draught,
That roused within the feverish thirst of song,
Yet never may I trespass o'er the stream
Of jealous Acheron, nor alive descend
The silent and unsearchable abodes
Of Erebus and Night, nor unchastised
Lead up long-absent heroes into day.
When on the pausing theatre of earth
Eve's shadowy curtain falls, can any man
Bring back the far-off intercepted hills,
Grasp the round rock-built turret, or arrest
The glittering spires that pierce the brow of Heaven?
Rather can any with outstripping voice
The parting sun's gigantic strides recall?
Twice sounded GEBIR! twice th' Iberian king
Thought it the strong vibration of the brain
That struck upon his ear; but now descried
A form, a man, come nearer: as he came
His unshorn hair grown soft in these abodes
Waved back, and scattered thin and hoary light.
Living, men called him Aroar, but no more
In celebration or recording verse
His name is heard, no more by Arnon's side
The well-walled city which he reared remains.
Gebir was now undaunted-for the brave
When they no longer doubt no longer fear-
And would have spoken, but the shade began,
'Brave son of Hesperus! no mortal hand
Has led thee hither, nor without the gods
Penetrate thy firm feet the vast profound.
Thou knowest not that here thy fathers lie,
The race of Sidad; theirs was loud acclaim
When living, but their pleasure was in war;
Triumphs and hatred followed: I myself
Bore, men imagined, no inglorious part:
The gods thought otherwise, by whose decree
Deprived of life, and more, of death deprived,
I still hear shrieking through the moonless night
Their discontented and deserted shades.
Observe these horrid walls, this rueful waste!
Here some refresh the vigour of the mind
With contemplation and cold penitence:
Nor wonder while thou hearest that the soul
Thus purified hereafter may ascend
Surmounting all obstruction, nor ascribe
The sentence to indulgence; each extreme
Has tortures for ambition; to dissolve
In everlasting languor, to resist
Its impulse, but in vain: to be enclosed
Within a limit, and that limit fire;
Severed from happiness, from eminence,
And flying, but hell bars us, from ourselves.
Yet rather all these torments most endure
Than solitary pain and sad remorse
And towering thoughts on their own breast o'er-turned
And piercing to the heart: such penitence,
Such contemplation theirs! thy ancestors
Bear up against them, nor will they submit
To conquering Time the asperities of Fate;
Yet could they but revisit earth once more,
How gladly would they poverty embrace,
How labour, even for their deadliest foe!
It little now avails them to have raised
Beyond the Syrian regions, and beyond
Phoenicia, trophies, tributes, colonies:
Follow thou me-mark what it all avails.'
Him Gebir followed, and a roar confused
Rose from a river rolling in its bed,
Not rapid, that would rouse the wretched souls,
Nor calmly, that might lull then to repose;
But with dull weary lapses it upheaved
Billows of bale, heard low, yet heard afar.
For when hell's iron portals let out night,
Often men start and shiver at the sound,
And lie so silent on the restless couch
They hear their own hearts beat. Now Gebir breathed
Another air, another sky beheld.
Twilight broods here, lulled by no nightingale
Nor wakened by the shrill lark dewy-winged,
But glowing with one sullen sunless heat.
Beneath his foot nor sprouted flower nor herb
Nor chirped a grasshopper. Above his head
Phlegethon formed a fiery firmament:
Part were sulphurous clouds involving, part
Shining like solid ribs of molten brass;
For the fierce element which else aspires
Higher and higher and lessens to the sky,
Below, earth's adamantine arch rebuffed.
Gebir, though now such languor held his limbs,
Scarce aught admired he, yet he this admired;
And thus addressed him then the conscious guide.
'Beyond that river lie the happy fields;
From them fly gentle breezes, which when drawn
Against yon crescent convex, but unite
Stronger with what they could not overcome.
Thus they that scatter freshness through the groves
And meadows of the fortunate, and fill
With liquid light the marble bowl of earth,
And give her blooming health and spritely force,
Their fire no more diluted, nor its darts
Blunted by passing through thick myrtle bowers,
Neither from odours rising half dissolved,
Point forward Phlegethon's eternal flame;
And this horizon is the spacious bow
Whence each ray reaches to the world above.'
The hero pausing, Gebir then besought
What region held his ancestors, what clouds,
What waters, or what gods, from his embrace.
Aroar then sudden, as though roused, renewed.
'Come thou, if ardour urges thee and force
Suffices-mark me, Gebir, I unfold
No fable to allure thee-on! behold
Thy ancestors!' and lo! with horrid gasp
The panting flame above his head recoiled,
And thunder through his heart and life blood throbbed.
Such sound could human organs once conceive,
Cold, speechless, palsied, not the soothing voice
Of friendship or almost of Deity
Could raise the wretched mortal from the dust;
Beyond man's home condition they! with eyes
Intent, and voice desponding, and unheard
By Aroar, though he tarried at his side.
'They know me not,' cried Gebir, 'O my sires,
Ye know me not! they answer not, nor hear.
How distant are they still! what sad extent
Of desolation must we overcome!
Aroar, what wretch that nearest us? what wretch
Is that with eyebrows white, and slanting brow?
Listen! him yonder who bound down supine,
Shrinks yelling from that sword there engine-hung;
He too among my ancestors?'
Iberia bore him, but the breed accursed
Inclement winds blew blighting from north-east.'
'He was a warrior then, nor feared the gods?'
'Gebir, he feared the Demons, not the Gods;
Though them indeed his daily face adored,
And was no warrior, yet the thousand lives
Squandered as stones to exercise a sling!
And the tame cruelty and cold caprice -
Oh, madness of mankind! addressed, adored!
O Gebir! what are men, or where are gods!
Behold the giant next him, how his feet
Plunge floundering mid the marshes yellow-flowered,
His restless head just reaching to the rocks,
His bosom tossing with black weeds besmeared,
How writhes he twixt the continent and isle!
What tyrant with more insolence e'er claimed
Dominion? when from the heart of Usury
Rose more intense the pale-flamed thirst for gold?
And called forsooth DELIVERER! False or fools
Who praised the dull-eared miscreant, or who hoped
To soothe your folly and disgrace with praise!
Hearest thou not the harp's gay simpering air
And merriment afar? then come, advance;
And now behold him! mark the wretch accursed
Who sold his people to a rival king-
Self-yoked they stood two ages unredeemed.'
'Oh, horror! what pale visage rises there?
Speak, Aroar! me perhaps mine eyes deceive,
Inured not, yet methinks they there descry
Such crimson haze as sometimes drowns the moon.
What is yon awful sight? why thus appears
That space between the purple and the crown?'
'I will relate their stories when we reach
Our confines,' said the guide; 'for thou, O king,
Differing in both from all thy countrymen,
Seest not their stories and hast seen their fates.
But while we tarry, lo again the flame
Riseth, and murmuring hoarse, points straighter, haste!
'Tis urgent, we must hence.'
'Then, oh, adieu!'
Cried Gebir, and groaned loud, at last a tear
Burst from his eyes turned back, and he exclaimed,
'Am I deluded? O ye powers of hell,
Suffer me-Oh, my fathers!-am I torn-'
He spake, and would have spoken more, but flames
Enwrapped him round and round intense; he turned,
And stood held breathless in a ghost's embrace.
'Gebir, my son, desert me not! I heard
Thy calling voice, nor fate withheld me more:
One moment yet remains; enough to know
Soon will my torments, soon will thine, expire.
Oh, that I e'er exacted such a vow!
When dipping in the victim's blood thy hand,
First thou withdrew'st it, looking in my face
Wondering; but when the priest my will explained,
Then swearest thou, repeating what he said,
How against Egypt thou wouldst raise that hand
And bruise the seed first risen from our line.
Therefore in death what pangs have I endured!
Racked on the fiery centre of the sun,
Twelve years I saw the ruined world roll round.
Shudder not-I have borne it-I deserved
My wretched fate-be better thine-farewell.'
'Oh, stay, my father! stay one moment more.
Let me return thee that embrace-'tis past-
Aroar! how could I quit it unreturned!
And now the gulf divides us, and the waves
Of sulphur bellow through the blue abyss.
And is he gone for ever! and I come
In vain?' Then sternly said the guide, 'In vain!
Sayst thou? what wouldst thou more? alas, O prince,
None come for pastime here! but is it nought
To turn thy feet from evil? is it nought
Of pleasure to that shade if they are turned?
For this thou camest hither: he who dares
To penetrate this darkness, nor regards
The dangers of the way, shall reascend
In glory, nor the gates of hell retard
His steps, nor demon's nor man's art prevail.
Once in each hundred years, and only once,
Whether by some rotation of the world,
Or whether willed so by some power above,
This flaming arch starts back, each realm descries
Its opposite, and Bliss from her repose
Freshens and feels her own security.'
'Security!' cried out the Gadite king,
'And feel they not compassion?'
'Child of Earth,'
Calmly said Aroar at his guest's surprise,
'Some so disfigured by habitual crimes,
Others are so exalted, so refined,
So permeated by heaven, no trace remains
Graven on earth: here Justice is supreme;
Compassion can be but where passions are.
Here are discovered those who tortured Law
To silence or to speech, as pleased themselves:
Here also those who boasted of their zeal
And loved their country for the spoils it gave.
Hundreds, whose glitt'ring merchandise the lyre
Dazzled vain wretches drunk with flattery,
And wafted them in softest airs to Heav'n,
Doomed to be still deceived, here still attune
The wonted strings and fondly woo applause:
Their wish half granted, they retain their own,
But madden at the mockery of the shades.
Upon the river's other side there grow
Deep olive groves; there other ghosts abide,
Blest indeed they, but not supremely blest.
We cannot see beyond, we cannot see
Aught but our opposite, and here are fates
How opposite to ours! here some observed
Religious rites, some hospitality:
Strangers, who from the good old men retired,
Closed the gate gently, lest from generous use
Shutting and opening of its own accord,
It shake unsettled slumbers off their couch:
Some stopped revenge athirst for slaughter, some
Sowed the slow olive for a race unborn.
These had no wishes, therefore none are crowned;
But theirs are tufted banks, theirs umbrage, theirs
Enough of sunshine to enjoy the shade,
And breeze enough to lull them to repose.'
Then Gebir cried: 'Illustrious host, proceed.
Bring me among the wonders of a realm
Admired by all, but like a tale admired.
We take our children from their cradled sleep,
And on their fancy from our own impress
Etherial forms and adulating fates:
But ere departing for such scenes ourselves
We seize their hands, we hang upon their neck,
Our beds cling heavy round us with our tears,
Agony strives with agony-just gods!
Wherefore should wretched mortals thus believe,
Or wherefore should they hesitate to die?'
Thus while he questioned, all his strength dissolved
Within him, thunder shook his troubled brain,
He started, and the cavern's mouth surveyed
Near, and beyond his people; he arose,
And bent toward them his bewildered way.
The king's lone road, his visit, his return,
Were not unknown to Dalica, nor long
The wondrous tale from royal ears delayed.
When the young queen had heard who taught the rites
Her mind was shaken, and what first she asked
Was, whether the sea-maids were very fair,
And was it true that even gods were moved
By female charms beneath the waves profound,
And joined to them in marriage, and had sons-
Who knows but Gebir sprang then from the gods!
He that could pity, he that could obey,
Flattered both female youth and princely pride,
The same ascending from amid the shades
Showed Power in frightful attitude: the queen
Marks the surpassing prodigy, and strives
To shake off terror in her crowded court,
And wonders why she trembles, nor suspects
How Fear and Love assume each other's form,
By birth and secret compact how allied.
Vainly (to conscious virgins I appeal),
Vainly with crouching tigers, prowling wolves,
Rocks, precipices, waves, storms, thunderbolts,
All his immense inheritance, would Fear
The simplest heart, should Love refuse, assail:
Consent-the maiden's pillowed ear imbibes
Constancy, honour, truth, fidelity,
Beauty and ardent lips and longing arms;
Then fades in glimmering distance half the scene,
Then her heart quails and flutters and would fly-
'Tis her beloved! not to her! ye Powers!
What doubting maid exacts the vow? behold
Above the myrtles his protesting hand!
Such ebbs of doubt and swells of jealousy
Toss the fond bosom in its hour of sleep
And float around the eyelids and sink through.
Lo! mirror of delight in cloudless days,
Lo! thy reflection: 'twas when I exclaimed,
With kisses hurried as if each foresaw
Their end, and reckoned on our broken bonds,
And could at such a price such loss endure:
'Oh, what to faithful lovers met at morn,
What half so pleasant as imparted fears!'
Looking recumbent how love's column rose
Marmoreal, trophied round with golden hair,
How in the valley of one lip unseen
He slumbered, one his unstrung low impressed.
Sweet wilderness of soul-entangling charms!
Led back by memory, and each blissful maze
Retracing, me with magic power detain
Those dimpled cheeks, those temples violet-tinged,
Those lips of nectar and those eyes of heaven!
Charoba, though indeed she never drank
The liquid pearl, or twined the nodding crown,
Or when she wanted cool and calm repose
Dreamed of the crawling asp and grated tomb,
Was wretched up to royalty: the jibe
Struck her, most piercing where love pierced before,
From those whose freedom centres in their tongue,
Handmaidens, pages, courtiers, priests, buffoons.
Congratulations here, there prophecies,
Here children, not repining at neglect
While tumult sweeps them ample room for play,
Everywhere questions answered ere begun,
Everywhere crowds, for everywhere alarm.
Thus winter gone, nor spring (though near) arrived,
Urged slanting onward by the bickering breeze
That issues from beneath Aurora's car,
Shudder the sombrous waves; at every beam
More vivid, more by every breath impelled,
Higher and higher up the fretted rocks
Their turbulent refulgence they display.
Madness, which like the spiral element
The more it seizes on the fiercer burns,
Hurried them blindly forward, and involved
In flame the senses and in gloom the soul.
Determined to protect the country's gods
And asking their protection, they adjure
Each other to stand forward, and insist
With zeal, and trample under foot the slow;
And disregardful of the Sympathies
Divine, those Sympathies whose delicate hand
Touching the very eyeball of the heart,
Awakens it, not wounds it nor inflames,
Blind wretches! they with desperate embrace
Hang on the pillar till the temple fall.
Oft the grave judge alarms religious wealth
And rouses anger under gentle words.
Woe to the wiser few who dare to cry
'People! these men are not your enemies,
Inquire their errand, and resist when wronged.'
Together childhood, priesthood, womanhood,
The scribes and elders of the land, exclaim,
'Seek they not hidden treasure in the tombs?
Raising the ruins, levelling the dust,
Who can declare whose ashes they disturb!
Build they not fairer cities than our own,
Extravagant enormous apertures
For light, and portals larger, open courts
Where all ascending all are unconfined,
And wider streets in purer air than ours?
Temples quite plain with equal architraves
They build, nor bearing gods like ours embossed.
Oh, profanation! Oh, our ancestors!'
Though all the vulgar hate a foreign face,
It more offends weak eyes and homely age,
Dalica most, who thus her aim pursued.
'My promise, O Charoba, I perform.
Proclaim to gods and men a festival
Throughout the land, and bid the strangers eat;
Their anger thus we haply may disarm.'
'O Dalica,' the grateful queen replied,
'Nurse of my childhood, soother of my cares,
Preventer of my wishes, of my thoughts,
Oh, pardon youth, oh, pardon royalty!
If hastily to Dalica I sued,
Fear might impel me, never could distrust.
Go then, for wisdom guides thee, take my name,
Issue what most imports and best beseems,
And sovereignty shall sanction the decree.'
And now Charoba was alone, her heart
Grew lighter; she sat down, and she arose,
She felt voluptuous tenderness, but felt
That tenderness for Dalica; she praised
Her kind attention, warm solicitude,
Her wisdom-for what wisdom pleased like hers!
She was delighted; should she not behold
Gebir? she blushed; but she had words to speak,
She formed them and re-formed them, with regret
That there was somewhat lost with every change;
She could replace them-what would that avail?-
Moved from their order they have lost their charm.
While thus she strewed her way with softest words,
Others grew up before her, but appeared
A plenteous rather than perplexing choice:
She rubbed her palms with pleasure, heaved a sigh,
Grew calm again, and thus her thoughts revolved-
'But he descended to the tombs! the thought
Thrills me, I must avow it, with affright.
And wherefore? shows he not the more beloved
Of heaven? or how ascends he back to day?
Then has he wronged me? could he want a cause
Who has an army and was bred to reign?
And yet no reasons against rights he urged,
He threatened not, proclaimed not; I approached,
He hastened on; I spake, he listened; wept,
He pitied me; he loved me, he obeyed;
He was a conqueror, still am I a queen.'
She thus indulged fond fancies, when the sound
Of timbrels and of cymbals struck her ear,
And horns and howlings of wild jubilee.
She feared, and listened to confirm her fears;
One breath sufficed, and shook her refluent soul.
Smiting, with simulated smile constrained,
Her beauteous bosom, 'Oh, perfidious man!
Oh, cruel foe!' she twice and thrice exclaimed,
'Oh, my companions equal-aged! my throne,
My people! Oh, how wretched to presage
This day, how tenfold wretched to endure!'
She ceased, and instantly the palace rang
With gratulation roaring into rage-
'Twas her own people. 'Health to Gebir! health
To our compatriot subjects! to our queen!
Health and unfaded youth ten thousand years!'
Then went the victims forward crowned with flowers,
Crowned were tame crocodiles, and boys white-robed
Guided their creaking crests across the stream.
In gilded barges went the female train,
And hearing others ripple near, undrew
The veil of sea-green awning: if they found
Whom they desired, how pleasant was the breeze!
If not, the frightful water forced a sigh.
Sweet airs of music ruled the rowing palms,
Now rose they glistening and aslant reclined,
Now they descended, and with one consent
Plunging, seemed swift each other to pursue,
And now to tremble wearied o'er the wave.
Beyond and in the suburbs might be seen
Crowds of all ages: here in triumph passed
Not without pomp, though raised with rude device,
The monarch and Charoba; there a throng
Shone out in sunny whiteness o'er the reeds.
Nor could luxuriant youth, or lapsing age
Propped by the corner of the nearest street,
With aching eyes and tottering knees intent,
Loose leathery neck and worm-like lip outstretched,
Fix long the ken upon one form, so swift
Through the gay vestures fluttering on the bank,
And through the bright-eyed waters dancing round,
Wove they their wanton wiles and disappeared.
Meantime, with pomp august and solemn, borne
On four white camels tinkling plates of gold,
Heralds before and Ethiop slaves behind,
Each with the signs of office in his hand,
Each on his brow the sacred stamp of years,
The four ambassadors of peace proceed.
Rich carpets bear they, corn and generous wine,
The Syrian olive's cheerful gift they bear,
With stubborn goats that eye the mountain tops
Askance and riot with reluctant horn,
And steeds and stately camels in their train.
The king, who sat before his tent, descried
The dust rise reddened from the setting sun.
Through all the plains below the Gadite men
Were resting from their labour; some surveyed
The spacious site ere yet obstructed-walls
Already, soon will roofs have interposed;
Some ate their frugal viands on the steps
Contented; some, remembering home, prefer
The cot's bare rafters o'er the gilded dome,
And sing, for often sighs, too, end in song:
'In smiling meads how sweet the brook's repose,
To the rough ocean and red restless sands!
Where are the woodland voices that increased
Along the unseen path on festal days,
When lay the dry and outcast arbutus
On the fane step, and the first privet-flowers
Threw their white light upon the vernal shrine?'
Some heedless trip along with hasty step
Whistling, and fix too soon on their abodes:
Haply and one among them with his spear
Measures the lintel, if so great its height
As will receive him with his helm unlowered.
But silence went throughout, e'en thoughts were hushed,
When to full view of navy and of camp
Now first expanded the bare-headed train.
Majestic, unpresuming, unappalled,
Onward they marched, and neither to the right
Nor to the left, though there the city stood,
Turned they their sober eyes; and now they reached
Within a few steep paces of ascent
The lone pavilion of the Iberian king.
He saw them, he awaited them, he rose,
He hailed them, 'Peace be with you:' they replied,
'King of the western world, be with you peace.'
Once a fair city, courted then by king,
Mistress of nations, thronged by palaces,
Raising her head o'er destiny, her face
Glowing with pleasure and with palms refreshed,
Now pointed at by Wisdom or by Wealth,
Bereft of beauty, bare of ornaments,
Stood in the wilderness of woe, Masar.
Ere far advancing, all appeared a plain;
Treacherous and fearful mountains, far advanced.
Her glory so gone down, at human step
The fierce hyena frighted from the walls
Bristled his rising back, his teeth unsheathed,
Drew the long growl and with slow foot retired.
Yet were remaining some of ancient race,
And ancient arts were now their sole delight:
With Time's first sickle they had marked the hour
When at their incantation would the Moon
Start back, and shuddering shed blue blasted light.
The rifted rays they gathered, and immersed
In potent portion of that wondrous wave,
Which, hearing rescued Israel, stood erect,
And led her armies through his crystal gates.
Hither (none shared her way, her counsel none)
Hied the Masarian Dalica: 'twas night,
And the still breeze fell languid on the waste.
She, tired with journey long and ardent thoughts
Stopped; and before the city she descried
A female form emerge above the sands.
Intent she fixed her eyes, and on herself
Relying, with fresh vigour bent her way;
Nor disappeared the woman, but exclaimed,
One hand retaining tight her folded vest,
'Stranger, who loathest life, there lies Masar.
Begone, nor tarry longer, or ere morn
The cormorant in his solitary haunt
Of insulated rock or sounding cove
Stands on thy bleached bones and screams for prey.
My lips can scatter them a hundred leagues,
So shrivelled in one breath as all the sands
We tread on could not in as many years.
Wretched who die nor raise their sepulchre!
But Dalica unawed
(Though in her withered but still firm right-hand
Held up with imprecations hoarse and deep
Glimmered her brazen sickle, and enclosed
Within its figured curve the fading moon)
Spake thus aloud. 'By yon bright orb of Heaven,
In that most sacred moment when her beam
Guided first thither by the forked shaft,
Strikes through the crevice of Arishtah's tower-'
'Sayst thou?' astonished cried the sorceress,
'Woman of outer darkness, fiend of death,
From what inhuman cave, what dire abyss,
Hast thou invisible that spell o'erheard?
What potent hand hath touched thy quickened corse,
What song dissolved thy cerements, who unclosed
Those faded eyes and filled them from the stars?
But if with inextinguished light of life
Thou breathest, soul and body unamerced,
Then whence that invocation? who hath dared
Those hallowed words, divulging, to profane?'
Dalica cried, 'To heaven, not earth, addressed,
Prayers for protection cannot be profane.'
Here the pale sorceress turned her face aside
Wildly, and muttered to herself amazed;
'I dread her who, alone at such an hour,
Can speak so strangely, who can thus combine
The words of reason with our gifted rites,
Yet will I speak once more.-If thou hast seen
The city of Charoba, hast thou marked
The steps of Dalica?'
Of Dalica has then our rites divulged.'
'Her sister's, mother's, and her own.'
'How sayst thou never? one would think,
Presumptuous, thou wert Dalica.'
Woman, and who art thou?'
With close embrace,
Clung the Masarian round her neck, and cried:
'Art thou then not my sister? ah, I fear
The golden lamps and jewels of a court
Deprive thine eyes of strength and purity.
O Dalica, mine watch the waning moon,
For ever patient in our mother's art,
And rest on Heaven suspended, where the founts
Of Wisdom rise, where sound the wings of Power;
Studies intense of strong and stern delight!
And thou too, Dalica, so many years
Weaned from the bosom of thy native land,
Returnest back and seekest true repose.
Oh, what more pleasant than the short-breathed sigh
When laying down your burden at the gate,
And dizzy with long wandering, you embrace
The cool and quiet of a homespun bed.'
'Alas,' said Dalica, 'though all commend
This choice, and many meet with no control,
Yet none pursue it! Age by Care oppressed
Feels for the couch, and drops into the grave.
The tranquil scene lies further still from Youth:
Frenzied Ambition and desponding Love
Consume Youth's fairest flowers; compared with Youth
Age has a something something like repose.
Myrthyr, I seek not here a boundary
Like the horizon, which, as you advance,
Keeping its form and colour, yet recedes;
But mind my errand, and my suit perform.
Twelve years ago Charoba first could speak:
If her indulgent father asked her name,
She would indulge him too, and would reply
'What? why, Charoba!' raised with sweet surprise,
And proud to shine a teacher in her turn.
Show her the graven sceptre; what its use?
'Twas to beat dogs with, and to gather flies.
She thought the crown a plaything to amuse
Herself, and not the people, for she thought
Who mimic infant words might infant toys:
But while she watched grave elders look with awe
On such a bauble, she withheld her breath;
She was afraid her parents should suspect
They had caught childhood from her in a kiss;
She blushed for shame, and feared-for she believed.
Yet was not courage wanting in the child.
No; I have often seen her with both hands
Shake a dry crocodile of equal height,
And listen to the shells within the scales,
And fancy there was life, and yet apply
The jagged jaws wide open to her ear.
Past are three summers since she first beheld
The ocean; all around the child await
Some exclamation of amazement here:
She coldly said, her long-lashed eyes abased,
'Is this the mighty ocean? is this all!'
That wondrous soul Charoba once possessed,
Capacious then as earth or heaven could hold,
Soul discontented with capacity,
Is gone, I fear, for ever. Need I say
She was enchanted by the wicked spells
Of Gebir, whom with lust of power inflamed
The western winds have landed on our coast?
I since have watched her in each lone retreat,
Have heard her sigh and soften out the name,
Then would she change it for Egyptian sounds
More sweet, and seem to taste them on her lips,
Then loathe them-Gebir, Gebir still returned.
Who would repine, of reason not bereft!
For soon the sunny stream of youth runs down,
And not a gadfly streaks the lake beyond.
Lone in the gardens, on her gathered vest
How gently would her languid arm recline!
How often have I seen her kiss a flower,
And on cool mosses press her glowing cheek!
Nor was the stranger free from pangs himself.
Whether by spell imperfect, or while brewed
The swelling herbs infected him with foam,
Oft have the shepherds met him wandering
Through unfrequented paths, oft overheard
Deep groans, oft started from soliloquies
Which they believe assuredly were meant
For spirits who attended him unseen.
But when from his illuded eyes retired
That figure Fancy fondly chose to raise,
He clasped the vacant air and stood and gazed;
Then owning it was folly, strange to tell,
Burst into peals of laughter at his woes.
Next, when his passion had subsided, went
Where from a cistern, green and ruined, oozed
A little rill, soon lost; there gathered he
Violets, and harebells of a sister bloom,
Twining complacently their tender stems
With plants of kindest pliability.
These for a garland woven, for a crown
He platted pithy rushes, and ere dusk
The grass was whitened with their roots nipped off.
These threw he, finished, in the little rill
And stood surveying them with steady smile:
But such a smile as that of Gebir bids
To Comfort a defiance, to Despair
A welcome, at whatever hour she please.
Had I observed him I had pitied him;
I have observed Charoba, I have asked
If she loved Gebir.
'Love him!' she exclaimed
With such a start of terror, such a flush
Of anger, 'I love Gebir? I in love?'
And looked so piteous, so impatient looked-
And burst, before I answered, into tears.
Then saw I, plainly saw I, 'twas not love;
For such her natural temper, what she likes
She speaks it out, or rather she commands.
And could Charoba say with greater ease
Bring me a water-melon from the Nile,'
Than, if she loved him, 'Bring me him I love.'
Therefore the death of Gebir is resolved.'
'Resolved indeed,' cried Myrthyr, nought surprised,
'Precious my arts! I could without remorse
Kill, though I hold thee dearer than the day,
E'en thee thyself, to exercise my arts.
Look yonder! mark yon pomp of funeral!
Is this from fortune or from favouring stars?
Dalica, look thou yonder, what a train!
What weeping! Oh, what luxury! Come, haste,
Gather me quickly up these herbs I dropped,
And then away-hush! I must unobserved
From those two maiden sisters pull the spleen:
Dissemblers! how invidious they surround
The virgin's tomb, where all but virgins weep.'
'Nay, hear me first,' cried Dalica; ''tis hard
To perish to attend a foreign king.'
'Perish! and may not then mine eye alone
Draw out the venom drop, and yet remain
Enough? the portion cannot be perceived.'
Away she hastened with it to her home,
And, sprinkling thrice flesh sulphur o'er the hearth,
Took up a spindle with malignant smile,
And pointed to a woof, nor spake a word;
'Twas a dark purple, and its dye was dread.
Plunged in a lonely house, to her unknown,
Now Dalica first trembled: o'er the roof
Wandered her haggard eyes-'twas some relief.
The massy stones, though hewn most roughly, showed
The hand of man had once at least been there:
But from this object sinking back amazed,
Her bosom lost all consciousness, and shook
As if suspended in unbounded space.
Her thus entranced the sister's voice recalled.
'Behold it here dyed once again! 'tis done.'
Dalica stepped, and felt beneath her feet
The slippery floor, with mouldered dust bestrewn;
But Myrthyr seized with bare bold-sinewed arm
The grey cerastes, writhing from her grasp,
And twisted off his horn, nor feared to squeeze
The viscous poison from his glowing gums.
Nor wanted there the root of stunted shrub
Which he lays ragged, hanging o'er the sands,
And whence the weapons of his wrath are death:
Nor the blue urchin that with clammy fin
Holds down the tossing vessel for the tides.
Together these her scient hand combined,
And more she added, dared I mention more.
Which done, with words most potent, thrice she dipped
The reeking garb; thrice waved it through the air:
She ceased; and suddenly the creeping wool
Shrunk up with crisped dryness in her hands.
'Take this,' she cried, 'and Gebir is no more.'
Now to Aurora borne by dappled steeds,
The sacred gate of orient pearl and gold,
Smitten with Lucifer's light silver wand,
Expanded slow to strains of harmony:
The waves beneath in purpling rows, like doves
Glancing with wanton coyness tow'rd their queen,
Heaved softly; thus the damsel's bosom heaves
When from her sleeping lover's downy cheek,
To which so warily her own she brings
Each moment nearer, she perceives the warmth
Of coming kisses fanned by playful dreams.
Ocean and earth and heaven was jubilee.
For 'twas the morning pointed out by Fate
When an immortal maid and mortal man
Should share each other's nature knit in bliss.
The brave Iberians far the beach o'erspread
Ere dawn with distant awe; none hear the mew,
None mark the curlew flapping o'er the field;
Silence held all, and fond expectancy.
Now suddenly the conch above the sea
Sounds, and goes sounding through the woods profound.
They, where they hear the echo, turn their eyes,
But nothing see they, save a purple mist
Roll from the distant mountain down the shore:
It rolls, it sails, it settles, it dissolves-
Now shines the nymph to human eye revealed,
And leads her Tamar timorous o'er the waves.
Immortals crowding round congratulate
The shepherd; he shrinks back, of breath bereft:
His vesture clinging closely round his limbs
Unfelt, while they the whole fair form admire,
He fears that he has lost it, then he fears
The wave has moved it, most to look he fears.
Scarce the sweet-flowing music he imbibes,
Or sees the peopled ocean; scarce he sees
Spio with sparkling eyes, and Beroe
Demure, and young Ione, less renowned,
Not less divine, mild-natured; Beauty formed
Her face, her heart Fidelity; for gods
Designed, a mortal too Ione loved.
These were the nymphs elected for the hour
Of Hesperus and Hymen; these had strewn
The bridal bed, these tuned afresh the shells,
Wiping the green that hoarsened them within:
These wove the chaplets, and at night resolved
To drive the dolphins from the wreathed door.
Gebir surveyed the concourse from the tents,
The Egyptian men around him; 'twas observed
By those below how wistfully he looked,
From what attention with what earnestness
Now to his city, now to theirs, he waved
His hand, and held it, while they spake, outspread.
They tarried with him, and they shared the feast.
They stooped with trembling hand from heavy jars
The wines of Gades gurgling in the bowl;
Nor bent they homeward till the moon appeared
To hang midway betwixt the earth and skies.
'Twas then that leaning o'er the boy beloved,
In Ocean's grot where Ocean was unheard,
'Tamar!' the nymph said gently, 'come awake!
Enough to love, enough to sleep, is given,
Haste we away.' This Tamar deemed deceit,
Spoken so fondly, and he kissed her lips,
Nor blushed he then, for he was then unseen.
But she arising bade the youth arise.
'What cause to fly?' said Tamar; she replied,
'Ask none for flight, and feign none for delay.'
'Oh, am I then deceived! or am I cast
From dreams of pleasure to eternal sleep,
And, when I cease to shudder, cease to be!'
She held the downcast bridegroom to her breast,
Looked in his face and charmed away his fears.
She said not 'Wherefore leave I then embraced
You a poor shepherd, or at most a man,
Myself a nymph, that now I should deceive?'
She said not-Tamar did, and was ashamed.
Him overcome her serious voice bespake.
'Grief favours all who bear the gift of tears!
Mild at first sight he meets his votaries
And casts no shadow as he comes along:
But after his embrace the marble chills
The pausing foot, the closing door sounds loud,
The fiend in triumph strikes the roof, then falls
The eye uplifted from his lurid shade.
Tamar, depress thyself, and miseries
Darken and widen: yes, proud-hearted man!
The sea-bird rises as the billows rise;
Nor otherwise when mountain floods descend
Smiles the unsullied lotus glossy-haired.
Thou, claiming all things, leanest on thy claim
Till overwhelmed through incompliancy.
Tamar, some silent tempest gathers round!'
'Round whom?' retorted Tamar; 'thou describe
The danger, I will dare it.'
'Who will dare
What is unseen?'
'The man that is unblessed.'
'But wherefore thou? It threatens not thyself,
Nor me, but Gebir and the Gadite host.'
'The more I know, the more a wretch am I.'
Groaned deep the troubled youth, 'still thou proceed.'
'Oh, seek not destined evils to divine,
Found out at last too soon! cease here the search,
'Tis vain, 'tis impious, 'tis no gift of mine:
I will impart far better, will impart
What makes, when winter comes, the sun to rest
So soon on ocean's bed his paler brow,
And night to tarry so at spring's return.
And I will tell sometimes the fate of men
Who loosed from drooping neck the r
The Bride Of The Greek Isle
Fear! I'm a Greek, and how should I fear death?
A slave, and wherefore should I dread my freedom?
I will not live degraded ~
Come from the woods with the citron-flowers,
Come with your lyres for the festal hours,
Maids of bright Scio! They came, and the breeze
Bore their sweet songs o'er the Grecian seas;?
They came, and Eudora stood rob'd and crown'd,
The bride of the morn, with her train around.
Jewels flash'd out from her braided hair,
Like starry dews midst the roses there;
Pearls on her bosom quivering shone,
Heav'd by her heart thro' its golden zone;
But a brow, as those gems of the ocean pale,
Gleam'd from beneath her transparent veil;
Changeful and faint was her fair cheek's hue,
Though clear as a flower which the light looks through;
And the glance of her dark resplendent eye,
For the aspect of woman at times too high,
Lay floating in mists, which the troubled stream
Of the soul sent up o'er its fervid beam.
She look'd on the vine at her father's door,
Like one that is leaving his native shore;
She hung o'er the myrtle once call'd her own,
As it greenly wav'd by the threshold stone;
She turn'd?and her mother's gaze brought back
Each hue of her childhood's faded track.
Oh! hush the song, and let her tears
Flow to the dream of her early years!
Holy and pure are the drops that fall
When the young bride goes from her father's hall;
She goes unto love yet untried and new,
She parts from love which hath still been true;
Mute be the song and the choral strain,
Till her heart's deep well-spring is clear again!
She wept on her mother's faithful breast,
Like a babe that sobs itself to rest;
She wept yet laid her hand awhile
In his that waited her dawning smile?
Her soul's affianced, nor cherish'd less
For the gush of nature's tenderness!
She lifted her graceful head at last?
The choking swell of her heart was past;
And her lovely thoughts from their cells found way
In the sudden flow of a plaintive lay.
The Bride's Farewell:
Why do I weep? to leave the vine
Whose clusters o'er me bend,
The myrtle yet, oh! call it mine!
The flowers I lov'd to tend.
A thousand thoughts of all things dear,
Like shadows o'er me sweep,
I leave my sunny childhood here,
Oh, therefore let me weep!
I leave thee, sister! we have play'd
Thro' many a joyous hour,
Where the silvery green of the olive shade
Hung dim o'er fount and bower.
Yes, thou and I, by stream, by shore,
In song, in prayer, in sleep,
Have been as we may be no more,
Kind sister, let me weep!
I leave thee, father! Eve's bright moon
Must now light other feet,
With the gather'd grapes, and the lyre in tune,
Thy homeward step to greet.
Thou, in whose voice, to bless thy child,
Lay tones of love so deep,
Whose eye o'er all my youth hath smiled
I leave thee! let me weep!
Mother! I leave thee! on thy breast,
Pouring out joy and wo,
I have found that holy place of rest
Still changeless yet I go!
Lips, that have lull'd me with your strain,
Eyes, that have watch'd my sleep!
Will earth give love like yours again!
Sweet mother! let me weep!
And like a slight young tree, that throws
The weight of rain from its drooping boughs,
Once more she wept. But a changeful thing
Is the human heart, as a mountain spring,
That works its way, thro' the torrent's foam,
To the bright pool near it, the lily's home!
It is well! the cloud, on her soul that lay,
Hath melted in glittering drops away.
Wake again, mingle, sweet flute and lyre!
She turns to her lover, she leaves her sire.
Mother! on earth it must still be so,
Thou rearest the lovely to see them go!
They are moving onward, the bridal throng,
Ye may track their way by the swells of song;
Ye may catch thro' the foliage their white robes' gleam,
Like a swan midst the reeds of a shadowy stream.
Their arms bear up garlands, their gliding tread
Is over the deep-vein'd violet's bed;
They have light leaves around them, blue skies above,
An arch for the triumph of youth and love!
Still and sweet was the home that stood
In the flowering depths of a Grecian wood,
With the soft green light o'er its low roof spread,
As if from the glow of an emerald shed,
Pouring thro' lime-leaves that mingled on high,
Asleep in the silence of noon's clear sky.
Citrons amidst their dark foliage glow'd,
Making a gleam round the lone abode;
Laurels o'erhung it, whose faintest shiver
Scatter'd out rays like a glancing river;
Stars of the jasmine its pillars crown'd,
Vine-stalks its lattice and walls had bound,
And brightly before it a fountain's play
Flung showers thro' a thicket of glossy bay,
To a cypress which rose in that flashing rain,
Like one tall shaft of some fallen fane.
And thither Ianthis had brought his bride,
And the guests were met by that fountain-side;
They lifted the veil from Eudora's face,
It smiled out softly in pensive grace,
With lips of love, and a brow serene,
Meet for the soul of the deep wood-scene.
Bring wine, bring odours! the board is spread?
Bring roses! a chaplet for every head!
The wine-cups foam'd, and the rose was shower'd
On the young and fair from the world embower'd;
The sun looked not on them in that sweet shade,
The winds amid scented boughs were laid;
And there came by fits, thro' some wavy tree,
A sound and a gleam of the moaning sea.
Hush! be still! was that no more
Than the murmur from the shore?
Silence! did thick rain-drops beat
On the grass like trampling feet?
Fling down the goblet, and draw the sword!
The groves are fill'd with a pirate horde!
Thro' the dim olives their sabres shine;
Now must the red blood stream for wine!
The youths from the banquet to battle sprang,
The woods with the shriek of the maidens rang;
Under the golden-fruited boughs
There were flashing poniards and dark'ning brows,
Footsteps, o'er garland and lyre that fled,
And the dying soon on a greensward bed.
Eudora, Eudora! thou dost not fly!
She saw but Ianthis before her lie,
With the blood from his breast in a gushing flow,
Like a child's large tears in its hour of wo,
And a gathering film in his lifted eye,
That sought his young bride out mournfully.
She knelt down beside him, her arms she wound,
Like tendrils, his drooping neck around,
As if the passion of that fond grasp
Might chain in life with its ivy-clasp.
But they tore her thence in her wild despair,
The sea's fierce rovers they left him there;
They left to the fountain a dark-red vein,
And on the wet violets a pile of slain,
And a hush of fear thro' the summer grove,
So clos'd the triumph of youth and love!
Gloomy lay the shore that night,
When the moon, with sleeping light,
Bath'd each purple Sciote hill,
Gloomy lay the shore, and still.
O'er the wave no gay guitar
Sent its floating music far;
No glad sound of dancing feet
Woke, the starry hours to greet.
But a voice of mortal wo,
In its changes wild or low,
Thro' the midnight's blue repose,
From the sea-beat rocks arose,
As Eudora's mother stood
Gazing o'er th' Egean flood,
With a fix'd and straining eye?
Oh! was the spoilers' vessel nigh?
Yes! there, becalm'd in silent sleep,
Dark and alone on a breathless deep,
On a sea of molten silver, dark,
Brooding it frown'd that evil bark!
There its broad pennon a shadow cast,
Moveless and black from the tall, still mast,
And the heavy sound of its flapping sail,
Idly and vainly wooed the gale.
Hush'd was all else: Had ocean's breast
Rock'd e'en Eudora that hour to rest?
To rest? the waves tremble! what piercing cry
Bursts from the heart of the ship on high?
What light through the heavens, in a sudden spire,
Shoots from the deck up? Fire! 'tis fire!
There are wild forms hurrying to and fro,
Seen darkly clear on that lurid glow;
There are shout, and signal-gun, and call,
And the dashing of water, but fruitless all!
Man may not fetter, nor ocean tame
The might and wrath of the rushing flame!
It hath twined the mast like a glittering snake,
That coils up a tree from a dusky brake;
It hath touch'd the sails, and their canvass rolls
Away from its breath into shrivell'd scrolls;
It hath taken the flag's high place in air,
And redden'd the stars with its wavy glare;
And sent out bright arrows, and soar'd in glee,
To a burning mount midst the moonlight sea.
The swimmers are plunging from stern and prow.
Eudora! Eudora! where, where art thou?
The slave and his master alike are gone.
Mother! who stands on the deck alone?
The child of thy bosom! and lo! a brand
Blazing up high in her lifted hand!
And her veil flung back, and her free dark hair
Sway'd by the flames as they rock and flare;
And her fragile form to its loftiest height
Dilated, as if by the spirit's might,
And her eye with an eagle-gladness fraught,
Oh! could this work be of woman wrought?
Yes! 'twas her deed! by that haughty smile
It was hers?She hath kindled her funeral pile!
Never might shame on that bright head be,
Her blood was the Greek's, and hath made her free!
Proudly she stands, like an Indian bride
On the pyre with the holy dead beside;
But a shriek from her mother hath caught her ear,
As the flames to her marriage-robe draw near,
And starting, she spreads her pale arms in vain
To the form they must never infold again.
One moment more, and her hands are clasp'd,
Fallen is the torch they had wildly grasp'd,
Her sinking knee unto Heaven is bow'd,
And her last look rais'd thro' the smoke's dim shroud,
And her lips as in prayer for her pardon move:
Now the night gathers o'er youth and love!