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So Say Who Dont Need To Fake

The freedom is my destiny
The freedom is like the wind in my face
I need, because freedom is love

The water holes, the city gates
The sweetest taste, the broken street
She take me around, playing with my sound
Throw your arms around love and me

The archer without range
The elemental of fire burning you
A hand on my shoulder
Please say who don't need to fake
In this worthless place

The storm is here like her fear
And when she comes around
You know there's aura in the area of taste
But now doomed the room is

Silent the room is
Wasted the room is
Safe the room is
Lonely the room is
Gone the room is
And all your lessons with your enemy

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Freedom Love Coated

I dreamed a dream
a simple soul dream
a poetry site devoted
to freedom love coated

promoting earth care
conservation love care
protecting what remains
earth diversity life veins

promoting love for people
rainbow coloured people
other cultures human rights
sparkling like starry nights

promoting peace not war
let liberty freedom soar
let anti-war peace views
flood media war net news

peace issues seems so desirable
compassion morality justifiable
war remains a crime inadvisable
politics war promoting certifiable

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Destiny at times is changed by love

The way that life goes,
destiny at times
is changed by love
sometimes by lust
and at times
bring the change on by itself.

A poetess read the poems
of a poet at university
and his poems were alive
with something great
in the words,

while the editor saw her verses
in a negative way
and she was set
to meet him, to talk to him
at a party
which he attended with another girl.

Some call it love, others a thrill
but there she got him
under her spell
and they kissed
while they danced
in a sudden romance,
she left a mark on his neck
and he retained a ring from her ear.

Some called both lucky, happy
and great poets they were
but destiny dealt the cards,
brought separation by mental illness
and the world held him responsible
for not staying true

and in his poems
I see something of his soul
and wonder if in the same
circumstance set,
I wouldn’t have acted
just as he did?

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Underwater Love

Looking down into the water
Its hard to make out your face
If our love is drowning, then why
Do I feel so out of place?
Bubbling up to the surface
Are you getting a breath of fresh air?
Forever longing to make you mine
But I cant escape your stare...
Liquid seeps into your lungs
But your eyes look so serene
Its wonderful how the surface ripples
But youre perfect, and I cannot breathe
Forever longing to make you mine
But I cant escape your stare...
Hold me closer, keep me near
My underwater love
Hold me closer, keep me near
Ill never get enough
Touch me from below
Ill never let you go
But I cant escape

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I'll Come Runnin' (feat. Tina Arena)

When the clouds surround you
And you're lost in the dark
When the sun won't come
And there's rain in your heart
When you need somebody
And there is nobody who understans
Wrap these arms around you
Take hold of my hand
Neve have to feel alone
Oh you know where I am
Any time you call me
As fast as lightening I'll be ther by your side
I'll be standing by
I'll come runnin'
You got someone
I'll always be there
I'll love away your troubles
When you're feeling low down
I'll be the friend you need
When a friend can't be found
I'll be the rock you lean on
When this old world just leans too hard on you
You just send a signal
I'll send you my heart
Never have to be afarid
When you're wrapped in my arms
Any time you need me
The widest ocean couldn't keep me away
Just call out my name
I'll come runnin'
You got someone
I'll always be there
I'll come runnin', I'll come runnin'
I'll come runnin' Baby
When you feel down
I will be around
Arms open wide
I;ll be standing, I'll be standing by
I'll come runnin'
You got someone
I'll alwaysbe there
You got something
You can trust in
I'll always be ther
I'll come runnin', I'll come runnin'
I'll come runnin' baby

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I Want A Mom That Will Last Forever

I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom who love me whatever
I want a mom to take my hand
and make me feel like a holiday
A mom to tuck me in at night
and chase the mosters away
I want a mom to read me stories
and sing a lullaby
And if I have a bad dream, to hold me when I cry
Oh, I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom that will love me whatever, forever
And when she says to me that she'll always be there
To watch and protect me, I don't have to be scared
O, and when she says I will always love you,
I want need to worry cause i'll know that it's true
I want a mom when I get lonely, to take the time to play
A mom who can be a friend and find a rainbow when it gray
I want a mom to read me stories and sing a lullaby
And if I find a bad dream, to hold me when I cry
Chorus (repeat twice)
I want a mom
I want a mom
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom
I want a mom
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom
I want a mom that will last forever

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How Is It (We Are Here)

How is it we are here on this path we walk
In this world of pointless fear filled with empty talk
Descend from the ape as scientist-priests all think
Will they save us in the end, we're trembling on the brink
Men's mighty mine-machines digging in the ground
Stealing rare minerals where they can be found
Concrete caves with iron doors bury it again
While a starving frightened world fills the sea with grain
Her love is like a fire burning inside
Her love is so much higher it can't be denied
She sends us her glory, it's always been there
Her love's all around us, it's there for you and me to share
Men's mighty mine-machines digging in the ground
Stealing rare minerals where they can be found
Concrete caves with iron doors bury it again
While a starving frightened world fills the sea with grain
How is it we are here
How is it we are here
How is it we are here

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How Is It

How is it we are here, on this path we walk,
In this world of pointless fear, filled with empty talk,
Descending from the apes as scientist-priests all think,
Will they save us in the end, we're trembling on the brink.
Men's mighty mine-machines digging in the ground,
Stealing rare minerals where they can be found.
Concrete caves with iron doors, bury it again,
While a starving frightened world fills the sea with grain.
Her love is like a fire burning inside,
Her love is so much higher it can't be denied,
She sends us her glory, it's always been there,
Her love's all around us, it's there for you and me to share.
Men's mighty mine-machines digging in the ground,
Stealing rare minerals where they can be found.
Concrete caves with iron doors, bury it again,
While a starving frightened world fills the sea with grain.
How is it we are here
How is it we are here
How is it we are here

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Foriwaa

Enoch was the seventh from Adam and,
I am the first on your love;
So keep the fire burning on this love.
Foriwaa my love, let the sweet of Eden bath you;
And let your love shine to me always.

Life is like being in the ninth moon (Chislev) ,
And my love will look and satisfy you always;
For you are the most beautiful lady that i have ever married.
Come to my heart my sweet one,
Come and take to the land of deeper love;
For your love is the first of all the fruits on my lips,
So come and let us share this love tonight.

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Edward Thomas

The Owl

DOWNHILL I came, hungry, and yet not starved,
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the north wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry.

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

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Seek freedom

What does the sun of man want
What does mankind want
Under the sun
Is it to eat all the food
In the world and have fun
So that nobody gets nothing to feed
Or destroy the righteous and his seed
May be gather more riches
And be superior
So that others become
Poor and inferior
Or gather all the women
In the world by your side
Is this the ultimate pride
What fore does mankind want
Apart from being free and happy
You need freedom to live your destiny
So do i need freedom
Everybody needs freedom
The rich man needs freedom
So do the poor man also need freedom
The king needs freedom
So do his subjects needs freedom
The master needs freedom
So do the servant needs freedom
Freedom belongs to the old man
As well is the young man
the human society without freedom
Is an evildom
Freedom is love for one another
Freedom is the ultimate power

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Tim Tebow Poem = WHY I LOVE AMERICA, FREEDOM & OUR FLAG

WHY I LOVE AMERICA, FREEDOM & OUR FLAG

I love America because she's beautiful and free
More than any place on God's Earth.
She stands for justice and liberty for all
As her citizens prove their failure or worth.

Ever since George Washington rode off to war
There have been patriots who have pledged to serve.
They suffered the rage of combat, death and pain
And it's our admiration they've earned and deserve.

It's up to America to set God's Heavenly example
Of how humans should be free, successful and live.
It's up to us who desire to keep her free and forever great
To promote her goodness, kindness and willingness to give.

Display her colors and run up your flag
For all to see what being American stands for.
Let others know just how much you love her
By your servitude, protection, devotion and more.

NEVER BE AFRAID TO BE PROUD OF AMERICA

America, the abundant, the place I was born
I'll cherish till the day I die.
Where the bones of past heroes lie buried in the ground
Who loved her the same as I.

Her mountains are so tall they reach for the sky
With prairies where the green grasses grow.
There's billions of trees where wild birds nest
With creatures that flourish below.

That blue gold called water with which we are blessed
As raindrops or crystallized snow;
Changes to rivers and fresh water lakes
While the winds of our seasons blow.

There's the haunt of a whistle from a lonely freight train
Racing on ribbons of steel
With the harvest of farms and from the factories
Balanced in a box on a wheel.

Some cities have buildings a hundred stories tall
Structures of concrete, glass and steel.
A statue in a harbor, a present from France
Describes how, inside, we feel.

That flag on the moon with red and white stripes
Proves America's dreams come true.
A country of heroes who line up to protect
The past, the present and the few.

We'll defeat terrorism as it should be fought
Never letting Satan's horde chase us to our door.
Safeguarding our borders and system of life
As our forefathers sacrificed before.

Never be afraid to be proud of America
And march with the brave, faithful and just.
Refusing to submit to the will of our enemies
Standing firm to preserve what we trust.

FREEDOM

In their new uniforms
The young march off
Not knowing who shall return.
With a proud devotion
They brandish their flag
Leaving loved ones to wonder and yearn.

May we all be buried
By all of our children
Is an ancient tribal prayer.
They're so easy to lose
But so hard to forget
Such a burden for a parent to bear.

The taste of victory
Shall soon be forgotten
But never that which was lost.
For those rows of white headstones
In peaceful green fields
Make it easy to tally the cost.

America has survived
All attempts to destroy
Knowing the cruelty of war
And we who remain
Must help keep her free
For those who can march no more!

OUR FLAG

Our flag is fabric wove of thread
Carried by heroes live and dead.
She stands for justice and courage too
With her colors; red, white and blue.

For all who serve her, there'll be cheers
For any who die, there'll be tears
For all who love her, honor will prevail
Any who harm her, shall suffer and fail.

How many moms have cried before
As they sent their children to war?
How many dads have not returned
Because our freedom must be earned?

Wars were waged where brave men died
As patriots fought side by side.
Our flag is still the pearl of Earth
Because of those who prove her worth.

Tom Zart Poems Are Free To Share To Teach Or Show Love And Support!
By God's Poet Tom Zart
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On The Web!

To Listen To Tom Zart's Poems Go To =
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Love my freedom to love you

You love me
But I love freedom
Love my freedom to love you.

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An Ode To Freedom

Freedom, you're
Tagore's timeless poetry and everlasting lyrics.

Freedom, you're
Kazi Nazrul, the regally maned magnificent man,
rapturous in creation, oh joy.
Freedom, you're
the radiant gathering at Shahid Minar on Language Day.
Freedom, you're
the flag-draped, slogan-serenaded boisterous procession.
Freedom, you're
the farmer amidst his fields, beaming face.
Freedom, you're
the village lass's lightsome swim in mid-day pond.
Freedom, you're
the sinewy muscles on a skilled workman's sun-bronzed arms.
Freedom, you're
the glint in the eyes of a freedom fighter scouting the darkened and deserted borders.
Freedom, you're
the crisply-worded, scorching speech of a sprited scholar beneath the shade of a banyan tree.
Freedom, you're
the tumult of chats in tea-shops, public gathering and the park.
Freedom, you're
the roaring swoop of kal-boishakhi on the fiery horizon athwart.
Freedom, you're
the Meghna's heart, swelling shores in the month of Sraban.
Freedom, you're
the velvety touch, father's chivalrous prayer-mat.
Freedom, you're
the ripples on mother's unadorned sari stretched in the yard.
Freedom, you're
the hue of henna on sister's gentle hand.
Freedom, you're
a vivid placard shimmering stars gripped by a friend.

Freedom, you're
the wife's raven tresses, tempestuous in the untamed wind.
Freedom, you're:
The colorful kurta on a young boy.
The playful sunlight on a girl's supple cheeks.
Freedom, you're:
The home amidst a flower garden; the warble of koel-bird.
The twittering leaves of antediluvian banyan trees.
My notebook of poetry, to pen poems as I please.

[Translated from 'Shadinota Tumi' (Bengali) by Syed M. Islam.]

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Quia Multum Amavit

Am I not he that hath made thee and begotten thee,
I, God, the spirit of man?
Wherefore now these eighteen years hast thou forgotten me,
From whom thy life began?
Thy life-blood and thy life-breath and thy beauty,
Thy might of hands and feet,
Thy soul made strong for divinity of duty
And service which was sweet.
Through the red sea brimmed with blood didst thou not follow me,
As one that walks in trance?
Was the storm strong to break or the sea to swallow thee,
When thou wast free and France?
I am Freedom, God and man, O France, that plead with thee;
How long now shall I plead?
Was I not with thee in travail, and in need with thee,
Thy sore travail and need?
Thou wast fairest and first of my virgin-vested daughters,
Fairest and foremost thou;
And thy breast was white, though thy hands were red with slaughters,
Thy breast, a harlot's now.
O foolish virgin and fair among the fallen,
A ruin where satyrs dance,
A garden wasted for beasts to crawl and brawl in,
What hast thou done with France?
Where is she who bared her bosom but to thunder,
Her brow to storm and flame,
And before her face was the red sea cloven in sunder
And all its waves made tame?
And the surf wherein the broad-based rocks were shaking
She saw far off divide,
At the blast of the breath of the battle blown and breaking,
And weight of wind and tide;
And the ravin and the ruin of throned nations
And every royal race,
And the kingdoms and kings from the state of their high stations
That fell before her face.
Yea, great was the fall of them, all that rose against her,
From the earth's old-historied heights;
For my hands were fire, and my wings as walls that fenced her,
Mine eyes as pilot-lights.
Not as guerdons given of kings the gifts I brought her,
Not strengths that pass away;
But my heart, my breath of life, O France, O daughter,
I gave thee in that day.
Yea, the heart's blood of a very God I gave thee,
Breathed in thy mouth his breath;
Was my word as a man's, having no more strength to save thee
From this worse thing than death?
Didst thou dream of it only, the day that I stood nigh thee,
Was all its light a dream?
When that iron surf roared backwards and went by thee
Unscathed of storm or stream:
When thy sons rose up and thy young men stood together,
One equal face of fight,
And my flag swam high as the swimming sea-foam's feather,
Laughing, a lamp of light?
Ah the lordly laughter and light of it, that lightened
Heaven-high, the heaven's whole length!
Ah the hearts of heroes pierced, the bright lips whitened
Of strong men in their strength!
Ah the banner-poles, the stretch of straightening streamers
Straining their full reach out!
Ah the men's hands making true the dreams of dreamers,
The hopes brought forth in doubt!
Ah the noise of horse, the charge and thunder of drumming,
And swaying and sweep of swords!
Ah the light that led them through of the world's life coming,
Clear of its lies and lords!
By the lightning of the lips of guns whose flashes
Made plain the strayed world's way;
By the flame that left her dead old sins in ashes,
Swept out of sight of day;
By thy children whose bare feet were shod with thunder,
Their bare hands mailed with fire;
By the faith that went with them, waking fear and wonder,
Heart's love and high desire;
By the tumult of the waves of nations waking
Blind in the loud wide night;
By the wind that went on the world's waste waters, making
Their marble darkness white,
As the flash of the flakes of the foam flared lamplike, leaping
From wave to gladdening wave,
Making wide the fast-shut eyes of thraldom sleeping
The sleep of the unclean grave;
By the fire of equality, terrible, devouring,
Divine, that brought forth good;
By the lands it purged and wasted and left flowering
With bloom of brotherhood;
By the lips of fraternity that for love's sake uttered
Fierce words and fires of death,
But the eyes were deep as love's, and the fierce lips fluttered
With love's own living breath;
By thy weaponed hands, brows helmed, and bare feet spurning
The bared head of a king;
By the storm of sunrise round thee risen and burning,
Why hast thou done this thing?
Thou hast mixed thy limbs with the son of a harlot, a stranger,
Mouth to mouth, limb to limb,
Thou, bride of a God, because of the bridesman Danger,
To bring forth seed to him.
For thou thoughtest inly, the terrible bridegroom wakes me,
When I would sleep, to go;
The fire of his mouth consumes, and the red kiss shakes me,
More bitter than a blow.
Rise up, my beloved, go forth to meet the stranger,
Put forth thine arm, he saith;
Fear thou not at all though the bridesman should be Danger,
The bridesmaid should be Death.
I the bridegroom, am I not with thee, O bridal nation,
O wedded France, to strive?
To destroy the sins of the earth with divine devastation,
Till none be left alive?
Lo her growths of sons, foliage of men and frondage,
Broad boughs of the old-world tree,
With iron of shame and with pruning-hooks of bondage
They are shorn from sea to sea.
Lo, I set wings to thy feet that have been wingless,
Till the utter race be run;
Till the priestless temples cry to the thrones made kingless,
Are we not also undone?
Till the immeasurable Republic arise and lighten
Above these quick and dead,
And her awful robes be changed, and her red robes whiten,
Her warring-robes of red.
But thou wouldst not, saying, I am weary and faint to follow,
Let me lie down and rest;
And hast sought out shame to sleep with, mire to wallow,
Yea, a much fouler breast:
And thine own hast made prostitute, sold and shamed and bared it,
Thy bosom which was mine,
And the bread of the word I gave thee hast soiled, and shared it
Among these snakes and swine.
As a harlot thou wast handled and polluted,
Thy faith held light as foam,
That thou sentest men thy sons, thy sons imbruted,
To slay thine elder Rome.
Therefore O harlot, I gave thee to the accurst one,
By night to be defiled,
To thy second shame, and a fouler than the first one,
That got thee first with child.
Yet I know thee turning back now to behold me,
To bow thee and make thee bare,
Not for sin's sake but penitence, by my feet to hold me,
And wipe them with thine hair.
And sweet ointment of thy grief thou hast brought thy master,
And set before thy lord,
From a box of flawed and broken alabaster,
Thy broken spirit, poured.
And love-offerings, tears and perfumes, hast thou given me,
To reach my feet and touch;
Therefore thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee,
Because thou hast loved much.

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Arabella Stuart

And is not love in vain,
Torture enough without a living tomb?

Byron

Fermossi al fin il cor che balzò tanto.

Pindemonte

I

'TWAS but a dream!–I saw the stag leap free,
Under the boughs where early birds were singing,
I stood, o'ershadowed by the greenwood tree,
And heard, it seemed, a sudden bugle ringing
Far thro' a royal forest: then the fawn
Shot, like a gleam of light, from grassy lawn
To secret covert; and the smooth turf shook,
And lilies quiver'd by the glade's lone brook,

And young leaves trembled, as, in fleet career,
A princely band, with horn, and hound, and spear,
Like a rich masque swept forth. I saw the dance
Of their white plumes, that bore a silvery glance
Into the deep wood's heart; and all pass'd by
Save one–I met the smile of one clear eye,
Flashing out joy to mine. Yes, thou wert there,
Seymour! a soft wind blew the clustering hair
Back from thy gallant brow, as thou didst rein
Thy courser, turning from that gorgeous train,
And fling, methought, thy hunting-spear away,
And, lightly graceful in thy green array,
Bound to my side; and we, that met and parted,
Ever in dread of some dark watchful power,
Won back to childhood's trust, and fearless-hearted,
Blent the glad fulness of our thoughts that hour,
Even like the mingling of sweet streams, beneath
Dim woven leaves, and midst the floating breath
Of hidden forest flowers.

II

'Tis past!–I wake,
A captive, and alone, and far from thee,
My love and friend!–Yet fostering, for thy sake,
A quenchless hope of happiness to be,
And feeling still my woman's spirit strong,
In the deep faith which lifts from earthly wrong
A heavenward glance. I know, I know our love
Shall yet call gentle angels from above,
By its undying fervour; and prevail,
Sending a breath, as of the spring's first gale,
Thro' hearts now cold; and, raising its bright face,
With a free gush of sunny tears, erase
The characters of anguish. In this trust,
I bear, I strive, I bow not to the dust,
That I may bring thee back no faded form,
No bosom chill'd and blighted by the storm,
But all my youth's first treasures, when we meet,
Making past sorrow, by communion, sweet.


III

And thou too art in bonds!–yet droop thou not,
Oh, my belov'd!–there is one hopeless lot,
But one, and that not ours. Beside the dead
There sits the grief that mantles up its head,
Loathing the laughter and proud pomp of light,
When darkness, from the vainly-doting sight,
Covers its beautiful! 1 If thou wert gone
To the grave's bosom, with thy radiant brow,–
If thy deep-thrilling voice, with that low tone
Of earnest tenderness, which now, ev'n now,
Seems floating thro' my soul, were music taken
For ever from this world,–oh! thus forsaken,
Could I bear on?–thou liv'st, thou liv'st, thou'rt mine!
With this glad thought I make my heart a shrine,
And, by the lamp which quenchless there shall burn,
Sit, a lone watcher for the day's return.


IV

And lo! the joy that cometh with the morning,
Brightly victorious o'er the hours of care!
I have not watch'd in vain, serenely scorning
The wild and busy whispers of despair!
Thou hast sent tidings, as of heaven.–I wait
The hour, the sign, for blessed flight to thee.
Oh! for the skylark's wing that seeks its mate
As a star shoots!–but on the breezy sea
We shall meet soon.–To think of such an hour!
Will not my heart, o'erburdened by its bliss,
Faint and give way within me, as a flower
Borne down and perishing by noontide's kiss?
–Yet shall I fear that lot?–the perfect rest,
The full deep joy of dying on thy breast,
After long-suffering won? So rich a close
Too seldom crowns with peace affection's woes.


V

Sunset!–I tell each moment–from the skies
The last red splendour floats along my wall,
Like a king's banner!–Now it melts, it dies!
I see one star–I hear–'twas not the call,
Th' expected voice; my quick heart throbb'd too soon.
I must keep vigil till yon rising moon
Shower down less golden light. Beneath her beam
Thro' my lone lattice pour'd, I sit and dream
Of summer-lands afar, where holy love,
Under the vine or in the citron-grove,
May breathe from terror.
Now the night grows deep,
And silent as its clouds, and full of sleep.
I hear my veins beat.–Hark! a bell's slow chime.
My heart strikes with it.–Yet again–'tis time!
A step!–a voice!–or but a rising breeze?
–Hark! haste!–I come, to meet thee on the seas.


VI

Now never more, oh! never, in the worth
Of its pure cause, let sorrowing love on earth
Trust fondly–never more!–the hope is crush'd
That lit my life, the voice within me hush'd
That spoke sweet oracles; and I return
To lay my youth, as in a burial-urn,
Where sunshine may not find it.–All is lost!
No tempest met our barks–no billow toss'd;
Yet were they sever'd, ev'n as we must be,
That so have lov'd, so striven our hearts to free
From their close-coiling fate! In vain–in vain!
The dark links meet, and clasp themselves again,
And press out life.–Upon the deck I stood,
And a white sail came gliding o'er the flood,
Like some proud bird of ocean; then mine eye
Strained out, one moment earlier to descry
The form it ached for, and the bark's career
Seem'd slow to that fond yearning: it drew near,


Fraught with our foes!–What boots it to recall
The strife, the tears? Once more a prison-wall
Shuts the green hills and woodlands from my sight,
And joyous glance of waters to the light,
And thee, my Seymour, thee!

I will not sink!
Thou, thou hast rent the heavy chain that bound thee;
And this shall be my strength–the joy to think
That thou mayst wander with heaven's breath around thee;
And all the laughing sky! This thought shall yet
Shine o'er my heart, a radiant amulet,
Guarding it from despair. Thy bonds are broken,
And unto me, I know, thy true love's token
Shall one day be deliverance, tho' the years
Lie dim between, o'erhung with mists of tears.


VII

My friend! my friend! where art thou? Day by day,
Gliding, like some dark mournful stream, away,
My silent youth flows from me. Spring, the while,
Comes and rains beauty on the kindling boughs
Round hall and hamlet; Summer, with her smile,
Fills the green forest;–young hearts breathe their vows;
Brothers, long parted, meet; fair children rise
Round the glad board; Hope laughs from loving eyes;
All this is in the world!–These joys lie sown,
The dew of every path. On one alone
Their freshness may not fall–the stricken deer,
Dying of thirst with all the waters near.

VIII

Ye are from dingle and fresh glade, ye flowers!
By some kind hand to cheer my dungeon sent;
O'er you the oak shed down the summer showers,
And the lark's nest was where your bright cups bent,

Quivering to breeze and rain-drop, like the sheen
Of twilight stars. On you Heaven's eye hath been,
Thro' the leaves pouring its dark sultry bIue
Into your glowing hearts; the bee to you
Hath murmur'd, and the rill.–My soul grows faint
With passionate yearning, as its quick dreams paint
Your haunts by dell and stream,–the green, the free,
The full of all sweet sound,–the shut from me!

IX

There went a swift bird singing past my cell–
O Love and Freedom! ye are lovely things!
With you the peasant on the hills may dwell,
And by the streams; but Ithe blood of kings,
A proud unmingling river, thro' my veins
Flows in lone brightness,–and its gifts are chains!
–Kings!–I had silent visions of deep bliss,
Leaving their thrones far distant, and for this

I am cast under their triumphal car,
An insect to be crushed.–Oh! Heaven is far,–
Earth pitiless!

Dost thou forget me, Seymour? I am prov'd
So long, so sternly! Seymour, my belov'd!
There are such tales of holy marvels done
By strong affection, of deliverance won
Thro' its prevailing power! Are these things told
Till the young weep with rapture, and the old
Wonder, yet dare not doubt,–and thou, oh! thou,
Dost thou forget me in my hope's decay?–
Thou canst not!–thro' the silent night, ev'n now,
I, that need prayer so much, awake and pray
Still first for thee.–Oh! gentle, gentle friend!
How shall I bear this anguish to the end?

Aid!–comes there yet no aid?–the voice of blood
Passes Heaven's gate, ev'n ere the crimson flood

Sinks thro' the greensward!–is there not a cry
From the wrung heart, of power, thro' agony,
To pierce the clouds? Hear, Mercy! hear me! None
That bleed and weep beneath the smiling sun,
Have heavier cause!–yet hear!–my soul grows dark–
Who hears the last shriek from the sinking bark,
On the mid seas, and with the storm alone,
And bearing to th' abyss, unseen, unknown,
Its freight of human hearts?–th' o'ermastering wave!
Who shall tell how it rush'd–and none to save?

Thou hast forsaken me! I feel, I know,
There would be rescue if this were not so.
Thou'rt at the chase, thou'rt at the festive board,
Thou'rt where the red wine free and high is pour'd,
Thou'rt where the dancers meet!–a magic glass
Is set within my soul, and proud shapes pass,
Flushing it o'er with pomp from bower and hall;–
I see one shadow, stateliest there of all

Thine! What dost thou amidst the bright and fair,
Whispering light words, and mocking my despair?
It is not welI of thee!–my love was more
Than fiery song may breathe, deep thought explore;
And there thou smilest while my heart is dying,
With all its blighted hopes around it lying;
Ev'n thou, on whom they hung their last green leaf–
Yet smile, smile on! too bright art thou for grief.

Death!–what, is death a lock'd and treasur'd thing,
Guarded by swords of fire? 2 a hidden spring,
A fabled fruit, that I should thus endure,
As if the world within me held no cure?
Wherefore not spread free wings–Heaven, Heaven! control
These thoughts–they rush–I look into my soul
As down a gulf, and tremble at th' array
Of fierce forms crowding it! Give strength to pray,
So shall their dark host pass.

The storm is still'd.
Father in Heaven! Thou, only thou, canst sound
The heart's great deep, with floods of anguish fill'd,
For human line too fearfully profound.
Therefore, forgive, my Father! if Thy child,
Rock'd on its heaving darkness, hath grown wild,
And sinn'd in her despair! It well may be,
That Thou wouldst lead my spirit back to Thee–
By the crush'd hope too long on this world pour'd,
The stricken love which hath perchance ador'd
A mortal in Thy place! Now, let me strive
With Thy strong arm no more! Forgive, forgive!
Take me to peace!

And peace at last is nigh.
A sign is on my brow, a token sent
Th' o'erwearied dust, from home: no breeze flits by,
But calls me with a strange sweet whisper, blent
Of many mysteries.

Hark! the warning tone
Deepens–its word is Death. Alone, alone,
And sad in youth, but chasten'd, I depart,
Bowing to heaven. Yet, yet my woman's heart
Shall wake a spirit and a power to bless,
Ev'n in this hour's o'ershadowing fearfulness,
Thee, its first love!–oh! tender still, and true!
Be it forgotten if mine anguish threw
Drops from its bitter fountain on thy name,
Tho' but a moment.

Now, with fainting frame,
With soul just lingering on the flight begun,
To bind for thee its last dim thoughts in one,
I bless thee! Peace be on thy noble head,
Years of bright fame, when I am with the dead!
I bid this prayer survive me, and retain
Its might, again to bless thee, and again!
Thou hast been gather'd into my dark fate
Too much; too long, for my sake, desolate

Hath been thine exiled youth; but now take back,
From dying hands, thy freedom, and re-track
(After a few kind tears for her whose days
Went out in dreams of thee) the sunny ways
Of hope, and find thou happiness! Yet send,
Ev'n then, in silent hours, a thought, dear friend!
Down to my voiceless chamber; for thy love
Hath been to me all gifts of earth above,
Tho' bought with burning tears! It is the sting
Of death to leave that vainly-precious thing
In this cold world! What were it, then, if thou,
With thy fond eyes, wert gazing on me now?
Too keen a pang!–Farewell! and yet once more,
Farewell!–the passion of long years I pour
Into that word: thou hear'st not,–but the woe
And fervour of its tones may one day flow
To thy heart's holy place; there let them dwell–
We shall o'ersweep the grave to meet–Farewell!

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Crazed

'The Spring again hath started on the course
Wherein she seeketh Summer thro' the Earth.
I will arise and go upon my way.
It may be that the leaves of Autumn hid
His footsteps from me; it may be the snows.


'He is not dead. There was no funeral;
I wore no weeds. He must be in the Earth.
Oh where is he, that I may come to him
And he may charm the fever of my brain.


'Oh Spring, I hope that thou wilt be my friend.
Thro' the long weary Summer I toiled sore;
Having much sorrow of the envious woods
And groves that burgeoned round me where I came,
And when I would have seen him, shut him in.


'Also the Honeysuckle and wild bine
Being in love did hide him from my sight;
The Ash-tree bent above him; vicious weeds
Withheld me; Willows in the River-wind
Hissed at me, by the twilight, waving wands.


'Also, for I have told thee, oh dear Spring,
Thou knowest after I had sunk outworn
In the late summer gloom till Autumn came,
I looked up in the light of burning Woods
And entered on my wayfare when I saw
Gold on the ground and glory in the trees.


'And all my further journey thou dost know;
My toils and outcries as the lusty world
Grew thin to winter; and my ceaseless feet
In vales and on stark hills, till the first snow
Fell, and the large rain of the latter leaves.


'I hope that thou wilt be my friend, oh Spring,
And give me service of thy winds and streams.
It needs must be that he will hear thy voice,
For thou art much as I was when he woo'd
And won me long ago beside the Dee.


'If he should bend above you, oh ye streams,
And anywhere you look up into eyes
And think the star of love hath found her mate
And know, because of day, they are not stars;
Oh streams, they are the eyes of my beloved!
Oh murmur as I murmured once of old,
And he will stay beside you, oh ye streams,
And I shall clasp him when my day is come.


'Likewise I charge thee, west wind, zephyr wind,
If thou shalt hear a voice more sweet than thine
About a sunset rosetree deep in June,
Sweeter than thine, oh wind, when thou dost leap
Into the tree with passion, putting by
The maiden leaves that ruffle round their dame,
And singest and art silent,-having dropt
In pleasure on the bosom of the rose,-
Oh wind, it is the voice of my beloved;
Wake, wake, and bear me to the voice, oh wind!


'Moreover, I do think that the spring birds
Will be my willing servants. Wheresoe'er
There mourns a hen-bird that hath lost her mate
Her will I tell my sorrow-weeping hers.


'And if it be a Lark whereto I speak,
She shall be ware of how my Love went up
Sole singing to the cloud; and evermore
I hear his song, but him I cannot see.


'And if it be a female Nightingale
That pineth in the depth of silent woods,
I also will complain to her that night
Is still. And of the creeping of the winds
And of the sullen trees, and of the lone
Dumb Dark. And of the listening of the stars.
What have we done, what have we done, oh Night?


'Therefore, oh Love, the summer trees shall be
My watch-towers. Wheresoe'er thou liest bound
I will be there. For ere the spring be past
I will have preached my dolour through the land,
And not a bird but shall have all my woe.
-And whatsoever hath my woe hath me.


'I charge you, oh ye flowers fresh from the dead,
Declare if ye have seen him. You pale flowers,
Why do you quake and hang the head like me?


'You pallid flowers, why do ye watch the dust
And tremble? Ah, you met him in your caves,
And shrank out shuddering on the wintry air.


'Snowdrops, you need not gaze upon the ground,
Fear not. He will not follow ye; for then
I should be happy who am doomed to woe.


'Only I bid ye say that he is there,
That I may know my grief is to be borne,
And all my Fate is but the common lot.'


She sat down on a bank of Primroses,
Swayed to and fro, as in a wind of Thought
That moaned about her, murmuring alow,
'The common lot, oh for the common lot.'


Thus spake she, and behold a gust of grief
Smote her. As when at night the dreaming wind
Starts up enraged, and shakes the Trees and sleeps.


'Oh early Rain, oh passion of strong crying,
Say, dost thou weep, oh Rain, for him or me?
Alas, thou also goest to the Earth
And enterest as one brought home by fear.


'Rude with much woe, with expectation wild,
So dashest thou the doors and art not seen.
Whose burial did they speak of in the skies?


'I would that there were any grass-green grave
Where I might stand and say, 'Here lies my Love;'
And sigh, and look down to him, thro' the Earth.
And look up, thro' the clearing skies, and smile.'


Then the Day passed from bearing up the Heavens,
The sky descended on the Mountain tops
Unclouded; and the stars embower'd the Night.


Darkness did flood the Valley; flooding her.
And when the face of her great grief was hid,
Her callow heart, that like a nestling bird
Clamoured, sank down with plaintive pipe and slow.
Her cry was like a strange fowl in the dark:
'Alas Night,' said she; then like a faint ghost,
As tho' the owl did hoot upon the hills,
'Alas Night.' On the murky silence came
Her voice like a white sea-mew on the waste
Of the dark deep; a-sudden seen and lost
Upon the barren expanse of mid-seas
Black with the Thunder. 'Alas Night,' said she,
'Alas Night.' Then the stagnant season lay
From hill to hill. But when the waning Moon
Rose, she began with hasty step to run
The wintry mead; a wounded bird that seeks
To hide its head when all the trees are bare.
Silent,-for all her strength did bear her dread-
Silent, save when with bursting heart she cried,
Like one who wrestles in the dark with fiends,
'Alas Night.' With a dim wild voice of fear
As though she saw her sorrow by the moon.


The morning dawns: and earlier than the Lark
She murmureth, sadder than the Nightingale.


'I would I could believe me in that sleep
When on our bridal morn I thought him dead,
And dreamed and shrieked and woke upon his breast.


'Oh God, I cannot think that I am blind;
I think I see the beauty of the world.
Perchance but I am blind, and he is near.


'Even as I felt his arm before I woke,
And clinging to his bosom called on him,
And wept, and knew and knew not it was he.


'I do thank God I think that I am blind.
There is a darkness thick about my heart
And all I seem to see is as a dream;
My lids have closed, and have shut in the world.


'Oh Love, I pray thee take me by the hand;
I stretch my hand, oh Love, and quake with dread;
I thrust it, and I know not where. Ah me,
What shall not seize the dark hand of the blind?


'How know I, being blind, I am on Earth?
I am in Hell, in Hell, oh Love! I feel
There is a burning gulph before my feet!
I dare not stir-and at my back the fiends!
I wind my arms, my arms that demons scorch,
Round this poor breast, and all that thou shouldst save
From rapine. Husband, I cry out from Hell;
There is a gulph. They seize my flesh.' (She shrieked.)


'I will sink down here where I stand. All round
How know I but the burning pit doth yawn?
Here will I shrink and shrink to no more space
Than my feet cover.' (She wept.) 'So much up
My mortal touch makes honest. Oh my Life,
My Lord, my Husband! Fool that cryest in vain!
Ah Angel! What hast thou to do with Hell?


'And yet I do not ask thee, oh my Love,
To lead me to thee where thou art in Heaven.
Only I would that thou shouldst be my star,
And whatsoever Fate thy beams dispense
I am content. It shall be good to me.


'But tho' I may not see thee, oh my Love,
Yea, though mine eyes return and miss thee still,
And thou shouldst take another shape than thine,
Have pity on my lot, and lead me hence
Where I may think of thee. To the old fields
And wonted valleys where we once were blest.
Oh Love, all day I hear them, out of sight,
The far Home where the Past abideth yet
Beside the stream that prates of other days.


'My Punishment is more than I can bear.
My sorrow groweth big unto my time.
Oh Love, I would that I were mad. Oh Love,
I do not ask that thou shouldst change my Fate,
I will endure; but oh my Life, my Lord,
Being as thou art a thronèd saint in Heaven,
If thou wouldst touch me and enchant my sense,
And daze the anguish of my heart with dreams.
And change the stop of grief; and turn my soul
A little devious from the daily march
Of Reason, and the path of conscious woe
And all the truth of Life! Better, oh Love,
In fond delusion to be twice betrayed,
Than know so well and bitterly as I.
Let me be mad.' (She wept upon her knees.)


'I will arise and seek thee. This is Heaven.
I sat upon a cloud. It bore me in.
It is not so, you Heavens! I am not dead.
Alas! there have been pangs as strong as Death.
It would be sweet to know that I am dead.


'Even now I feel I am not of this world,
Which sayeth, day and night, 'For all but thee,'
And poureth its abundance night and day
And will not feed the hunger in my heart.


'I tread upon a dream, myself a dream,
I cannot write my Being on the world,
The moss grows unrespective where I tread.


'I cannot lift mine eyes to the sunshine,
Night is not for my slumber. Not for me
Sink down the dark inexorable hours.


'I would not keep or change the weary day;
I have no pleasure in the needless night,
And toss and wail that other lids may sleep.


'I am a very Leper in the Earth.
Her functions cast me out; her golden wheels
That harmless roll about unconscious Babes
Do crush me. My place knoweth me no more.


'I think that I have died, oh you sweet Heavens.
I did not see the closing of the eyes.
Perchance there is one death for all of us
Whereof we cannot see the eyelids close.


'Dear Love, I do beseech thee answer me.
Dear Love, I think men's eyes behold me not.
The air is heavy on these lips that strain
To cry; I do not warm the thing I touch;
The Lake gives back no image unto me.


'I see the Heavens as one who wakes at noon
From a deep sleep. Now shall we meet again!
The Country of the blest is hid from me
Like Morn behind the Hills. The Angel smiles.
I breathe thy name. He hurleth me from Heaven.


'Now of a truth I know thou art on Earth.
Break, break the chains that hold me back from thee.
I see the race of mortal men pass by;
The great wind of their going waves my hair;
I stretch my hands, I lay my cheek to them,
In love; they stir the down upon my cheek;
I cannot touch them, and they know not me.


'Oh God! I ask to live the saddest life!
I care not for it if I may but live!
I would not be among the dead, oh God!
I am not dead! oh God, I will not die!'


So throbbed the trouble of this crazed heart.
So on the broken mirror of her mind
In bright disorder shone the shatter'd World.
So, out of tune, in sympathetic chords,
Her soul is musical to brooks and birds,
Winds, seasons, sunshine, flowers, and maundering trees.


Hear gently all the tale of her distress.
The heart that loved her loves not now yet lives.
What the eye sees and the ear hears-the hand
That wooing led her thro' the rosy paths
Of girlhood, and the lenten lanes of Love,
The brow whereon she trembled her first kiss,
The lips that had sole privilege of hers,
The eyes wherein she saw the Universe,
The bosom where she slept the sleep of joy,
The voice that made it sacred to her sleep
With lustral vows; that which doth walk the World
Man among Men, is near her now. But He
Who wandered with her thro' the ways of Youth,
Who won the tender freedom of the lip,
Who took her to the bosom dedicate
And chaste with vows, who in the perfect whole
Of gracious Manhood was the god that stood
In her young Heaven, round whom the subject stars
Circled: in whose dear train, where'er he passed
Thronged charmèd powers; at whose advancing feet
Upspringing happy seasons and sweet times
Made fond court carolling; who but moved to stir
All things submissive, which did magnify
And wane as ever with his changing will
She changed the centre of her infinite; He
In whom she worshipped Truth, and did obey
Goodness; in whose sufficient love she felt,
Fond Dreamer! the eternal smile of all
Angels and men; round whom, upon his neck,
Her thoughts did hang; whom lacking they fell down
Distract to the earth; He whom she loved, and who
Loved her of old,-in the long days before
Chaos, the empyrean days!-(Poor heart,
She phrased it so) is no more: and O God!
Thorough all Time, and that transfigured Time
We call Eternity, will be no more.

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Byron

The Prisoner of Chillon

Sonnet on Chillon

Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart -
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd -
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar - for 'twas trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard! - May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.

I

My hair is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,
And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd-forbidden fare;
But this was for my father's faith
I suffer'd chains and courted death;
That father perish'd at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling place;
We were seven-who now are one,
Six in youth, and one in age,
Finish'd as they had begun,
Proud of Persecution's rage;
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have seal'd,
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied;-
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.

II

There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For years-I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.

III

They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three-yet, each alone;
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight:
And thus together-yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but join'd in heart,
'Twas still some solace in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope, or legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,
A grating sound, not full and free,
As they of yore were wont to be:
It might be fancy-but to me
They never sounded like our own.

IV

I was the eldest of the three
And to uphold and cheer the rest
I ought to do-and did my best-
And each did well in his degree.
The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him, with eyes as blue as heaven-
For him my soul was sorely moved:
And truly might it be distress'd
To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day-
(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles, being free)-
A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's gone,
Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun:
And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flow'd like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe
Which he abhorr'd to view below.

V

The other was as pure of mind,
But form'd to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank
With joy:-but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,
I saw it silently decline-
And so perchance in sooth did mine:
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,
Had followed there the deer and wolf;
To him this dungeon was a gulf,
And fetter'd feet the worst of ills.

VI

Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,
Which round about the wave inthralls:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made-and like a living grave
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay:
We heard it ripple night and day;
Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,
And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.

VII

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captives' tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or him?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;
But why delay the truth?-he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand-nor dead,-
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died-and they unlock'd his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine-it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.
I might have spared my idle prayer-
They coldly laugh'd-and laid him there:
The flat and turfless earth above
The being we so much did love;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such Murder's fitting monument!

VIII

But he, the favourite and the flower,
Most cherish'd since his natal hour,
His mother's image in fair face
The infant love of all his race
His martyr'd father's dearest thought,
My latest care, for whom I sought
To hoard my life, that his might be
Less wretched now, and one day free;
He, too, who yet had held untired
A spirit natural or inspired-
He, too, was struck, and day by day
Was wither'd on the stalk away.
Oh, God! it is a fearful thing
To see the human soul take wing
In any shape, in any mood:
I've seen it rushing forth in blood,
I've seen it on the breaking ocean
Strive with a swoln convulsive motion,
I've seen the sick and ghastly bed
Of Sin delirious with its dread:
But these were horrors-this was woe
Unmix'd with such-but sure and slow:
He faded, and so calm and meek,
So softly worn, so sweetly weak,
So tearless, yet so tender-kind,
And grieved for those he left behind;
With all the while a cheek whose bloom
Was as a mockery of the tomb
Whose tints as gently sunk away
As a departing rainbow's ray;
An eye of most transparent light,
That almost made the dungeon bright;
And not a word of murmur-not
A groan o'er his untimely lot,-
A little talk of better days,
A little hope my own to raise,
For I was sunk in silence-lost
In this last loss, of all the most;
And then the sighs he would suppress
Of fainting Nature's feebleness,
More slowly drawn, grew less and less:
I listen'd, but I could not hear;
I call'd, for I was wild with fear;
I knew 'twas hopeless, but my dread
Would not be thus admonishèd;
I call'd, and thought I heard a sound-
I burst my chain with one strong bound,
And rushed to him:-I found him not,
I only stirred in this black spot,
I only lived, I only drew
The accursed breath of dungeon-dew;
The last, the sole, the dearest link
Between me and the eternal brink,
Which bound me to my failing race
Was broken in this fatal place.
One on the earth, and one beneath-
My brothers-both had ceased to breathe:
I took that hand which lay so still,
Alas! my own was full as chill;
I had not strength to stir, or strive,
But felt that I was still alive-
A frantic feeling, when we know
That what we love shall ne'er be so.
I know not why
I could not die,
I had no earthly hope-but faith,
And that forbade a selfish death.

IX

What next befell me then and there
I know not well-I never knew-
First came the loss of light, and air,
And then of darkness too:
I had no thought, no feeling-none-
Among the stones I stood a stone,
And was, scarce conscious what I wist,
As shrubless crags within the mist;
For all was blank, and bleak, and grey;
It was not night-it was not day;
It was not even the dungeon-light,
So hateful to my heavy sight,
But vacancy absorbing space,
And fixedness-without a place;
There were no stars, no earth, no time,
No check, no change, no good, no crime
But silence, and a stirless breath
Which neither was of life nor death;
A sea of stagnant idleness,
Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless!

X

A light broke in upon my brain,-
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased, and then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard,
And mine was thankful till my eyes
Ran over with the glad surprise,
And they that moment could not see
I was the mate of misery;
But then by dull degrees came back
My senses to their wonted track;
I saw the dungeon walls and floor
Close slowly round me as before,
I saw the glimmer of the sun
Creeping as it before had done,
But through the crevice where it came
That bird was perch'd, as fond and tame,
And tamer than upon the tree;
A lovely bird, with azure wings,
And song that said a thousand things,
And seemed to say them all for me!
I never saw its like before,
I ne'er shall see its likeness more:
It seem'd like me to want a mate,
But was not half so desolate,
And it was come to love me when
None lived to love me so again,
And cheering from my dungeon's brink,
Had brought me back to feel and think.
I know not if it late were free,

Or broke its cage to perch on mine,
But knowing well captivity,
Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine!
Or if it were, in wingèd guise,
A visitant from Paradise;
For-Heaven forgive that thought! the while
Which made me both to weep and smile-
I sometimes deem'd that it might be
My brother's soul come down to me;
But then at last away it flew,
And then 'twas mortal well I knew,
For he would never thus have flown-
And left me twice so doubly lone,-
Lone as the corse within its shroud,
Lone as a solitary cloud,
A single cloud on a sunny day,
While all the rest of heaven is clear,
A frown upon the atmosphere,
That hath no business to appear
When skies are blue, and earth is gay.

XI

A kind of change came in my fate,
My keepers grew compassionate;
I know not what had made them so,
They were inured to sights of woe,
But so it was:-my broken chain
With links unfasten'd did remain,
And it was liberty to stride
Along my cell from side to side,
And up and down, and then athwart,
And tread it over every part;
And round the pillars one by one,
Returning where my walk begun,
Avoiding only, as I trod,
My brothers' graves without a sod;
For if I thought with heedless tread
My step profaned their lowly bed,
My breath came gaspingly and thick,
And my crush'd heart felt blind and sick.

XII

I made a footing in the wall,
It was not therefrom to escape,
For I had buried one and all,
Who loved me in a human shape;
And the whole earth would henceforth be
A wider prison unto me:
No child, no sire, no kin had I,
No partner in my misery;
I thought of this, and I was glad,
For thought of them had made me mad;
But I was curious to ascend
To my barr'd windows, and to bend
Once more, upon the mountains high,
The quiet of a loving eye.

XIII

I saw them-and they were the same,
They were not changed like me in frame;
I saw their thousand years of snow
On high-their wide long lake below,
And the blue Rhone in fullest flow;
I heard the torrents leap and gush
O'er channell'd rock and broken bush;
I saw the white-wall'd distant town,
And whiter sails go skimming down;
And then there was a little isle,
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;
A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor,
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o'er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.
The fish swam by the castle wall,
And they seem'd joyous each and all;
The eagle rode the rising blast,
Methought he never flew so fast
As then to me he seem'd to fly;
And then new tears came in my eye,
And I felt troubled-and would fain
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o'er one we sought to save,-
And yet my glance, too much opprest,
Had almost need of such a rest.

XIV

It might be months, or years, or days-
I kept no count, I took no note-
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair.
And thus when they appear'd at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage-and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made
And watch'd them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn'd to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are:-even I
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh.

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The Author

Accursed the man, whom Fate ordains, in spite,
And cruel parents teach, to read and write!
What need of letters? wherefore should we spell?
Why write our names? A mark will do as well.
Much are the precious hours of youth misspent,
In climbing Learning's rugged, steep ascent;
When to the top the bold adventurer's got,
He reigns, vain monarch, o'er a barren spot;
Whilst in the vale of Ignorance below,
Folly and Vice to rank luxuriance grow;
Honours and wealth pour in on every side,
And proud Preferment rolls her golden tide.
O'er crabbed authors life's gay prime to waste,
To cramp wild genius in the chains of taste,
To bear the slavish drudgery of schools,
And tamely stoop to every pedant's rules;
For seven long years debarr'd of liberal ease,
To plod in college trammels to degrees;
Beneath the weight of solemn toys to groan,
Sleep over books, and leave mankind unknown;
To praise each senior blockhead's threadbare tale,
And laugh till reason blush, and spirits fail;
Manhood with vile submission to disgrace,
And cap the fool, whose merit is his place,
Vice-Chancellors, whose knowledge is but small,
And Chancellors, who nothing know at all:
Ill-brook'd the generous spirit in those days
When learning was the certain road to praise,
When nobles, with a love of science bless'd,
Approved in others what themselves possess'd.
But now, when Dulness rears aloft her throne,
When lordly vassals her wide empire own;
When Wit, seduced by Envy, starts aside,
And basely leagues with Ignorance and Pride;
What, now, should tempt us, by false hopes misled,
Learning's unfashionable paths to tread;
To bear those labours which our fathers bore,
That crown withheld, which they in triumph wore?
When with much pains this boasted learning's got,
'Tis an affront to those who have it not:
In some it causes hate, in others fear,
Instructs our foes to rail, our friends to sneer.
With prudent haste the worldly-minded fool
Forgets the little which he learn'd at school:
The elder brother, to vast fortunes born,
Looks on all science with an eye of scorn;
Dependent brethren the same features wear,
And younger sons are stupid as the heir.
In senates, at the bar, in church and state,
Genius is vile, and learning out of date.
Is this--oh, death to think!--is this the land
Where Merit and Reward went hand in hand?
Where heroes, parent-like, the poet view'd,
By whom they saw their glorious deeds renew'd?
Where poets, true to honour, tuned their lays,
And by their patrons sanctified their praise?
Is this the land, where, on our Spenser's tongue,
Enamour'd of his voice, Description hung?
Where Jonson rigid Gravity beguiled,
Whilst Reason through her critic fences smiled?
Where Nature listening stood whilst Shakspeare play'd,
And wonder'd at the work herself had made?
Is this the land, where, mindful of her charge
And office high, fair Freedom walk'd at large?
Where, finding in our laws a sure defence,
She mock'd at all restraints, but those of sense?
Where, Health and Honour trooping by her side,
She spread her sacred empire far and wide;
Pointed the way, Affliction to beguile,
And bade the face of Sorrow wear a smile;
Bade those, who dare obey the generous call,
Enjoy her blessings, which God meant for all?
Is this the land, where, in some tyrant's reign,
When a weak, wicked, ministerial train,
The tools of power, the slaves of interest, plann'd
Their country's ruin, and with bribes unmann'd
Those wretches, who, ordain'd in Freedom's cause,
Gave up our liberties, and sold our laws;
When Power was taught by Meanness where to go,
Nor dared to love the virtue of a foe;
When, like a leprous plague, from the foul head
To the foul heart her sores Corruption spread;
Her iron arm when stern Oppression rear'd;
And Virtue, from her broad base shaken, fear'd
The scourge of Vice; when, impotent and vain,
Poor Freedom bow'd the neck to Slavery's chain?
Is this the land, where, in those worst of times,
The hardy poet raised his honest rhymes
To dread rebuke, and bade Controlment speak
In guilty blushes on the villain's cheek;
Bade Power turn pale, kept mighty rogues in awe,
And made them fear the Muse, who fear'd not law?
How do I laugh, when men of narrow souls,
Whom Folly guides, and Prejudice controls;
Who, one dull drowsy track of business trod,
Worship their Mammon, and neglect their God;
Who, breathing by one musty set of rules,
Dote from their birth, and are by system fools;
Who, form'd to dulness from their very youth,
Lies of the day prefer to gospel truth;
Pick up their little knowledge from Reviews,
And lay out all their stock of faith in news;
How do I laugh, when creatures, form'd like these,
Whom Reason scorns, and I should blush to please,
Rail at all liberal arts, deem verse a crime,
And hold not truth, as truth, if told in rhyme!
How do I laugh, when Publius, hoary grown
In zeal for Scotland's welfare, and his own,
By slow degrees, and course of office, drawn
In mood and figure at the helm to yawn,
Too mean (the worst of curses Heaven can send)
To have a foe, too proud to have a friend;
Erring by form, which blockheads sacred hold,
Ne'er making new faults, and ne'er mending old,
Rebukes my spirit, bids the daring Muse
Subjects more equal to her weakness choose;
Bids her frequent the haunts of humble swains,
Nor dare to traffic in ambitious strains;
Bids her, indulging the poetic whim
In quaint-wrought ode, or sonnet pertly trim,
Along the church-way path complain with Gray,
Or dance with Mason on the first of May!
'All sacred is the name and power of kings;
All states and statesmen are those mighty things
Which, howsoe'er they out of course may roll,
Were never made for poets to control.'
Peace, peace, thou dotard! nor thus vilely deem
Of sacred numbers, and their power blaspheme.
I tell thee, wretch, search all creation round,
In earth, in heaven, no subject can be found:
(Our God alone except) above whose height
The poet cannot rise, and hold his state.
The blessed saints above in numbers speak
The praise of God, though there all praise is weak;
In numbers here below the bard shall teach
Virtue to soar beyond the villain's reach;
Shall tear his labouring lungs, strain his hoarse throat,
And raise his voice beyond the trumpet's note,
Should an afflicted country, awed by men
Of slavish principles, demand his pen.
This is a great, a glorious point of view,
Fit for an English poet to pursue;
Undaunted to pursue, though, in return,
His writings by the common hangman burn
How do I laugh, when men, by fortune placed
Above their betters, and by rank disgraced,
Who found their pride on titles which they stain,
And, mean themselves, are of their fathers vain;
Who would a bill of privilege prefer,
And treat a poet like a creditor;
The generous ardour of the Muse condemn,
And curse the storm they know must break on them!
'What! shall a reptile bard, a wretch unknown,
Without one badge of merit but his own,
Great nobles lash, and lords, like common men,
Smart from the vengeance of a scribbler's pen?'
What's in this name of lord, that I should fear
To bring their vices to the public ear?
Flows not the honest blood of humble swains
Quick as the tide which swells a monarch's veins?
Monarchs, who wealth and titles can bestow,
Cannot make virtues in succession flow.
Wouldst thou, proud man! be safely placed above
The censure of the Muse? Deserve her love:
Act as thy birth demands, as nobles ought;
Look back, and, by thy worthy father taught,
Who earn'd those honours thou wert born to wear,
Follow his steps, and be his virtue's heir.
But if, regardless of the road to fame,
You start aside, and tread the paths of shame;
If such thy life, that should thy sire arise,
The sight of such a son would blast his eyes,
Would make him curse the hour which gave thee birth,
Would drive him shuddering from the face of earth,
Once more, with shame and sorrow, 'mongst the dead
In endless night to hide his reverend head;
If such thy life, though kings had made thee more
Than ever king a scoundrel made before;
Nay, to allow thy pride a deeper spring,
Though God in vengeance had made thee a king,
Taking on Virtue's wing her daring flight,
The Muse should drag thee, trembling, to the light,
Probe thy foul wounds, and lay thy bosom bare
To the keen question of the searching air.
Gods! with what pride I see the titled slave,
Who smarts beneath the stroke which Satire gave,
Aiming at ease, and with dishonest art
Striving to hide the feelings of his heart!
How do I laugh, when, with affected air,
(Scarce able through despite to keep his chair,
Whilst on his trembling lip pale Anger speaks,
And the chafed blood flies mounting to his cheeks)
He talks of Conscience, which good men secures
From all those evil moments Guilt endures,
And seems to laugh at those who pay regard
To the wild ravings of a frantic bard.
'Satire, whilst envy and ill-humour sway
The mind of man, must always make her way;
Nor to a bosom, with discretion fraught,
Is all her malice worth a single thought.
The wise have not the will, nor fools the power,
To stop her headstrong course; within the hour,
Left to herself, she dies; opposing strife
Gives her fresh vigour, and prolongs her life.
All things her prey, and every man her aim,
I can no patent for exemption claim,
Nor would I wish to stop that harmless dart
Which plays around, but cannot wound my heart;
Though pointed at myself, be Satire free;
To her 'tis pleasure, and no pain to me.'
Dissembling wretch! hence to the Stoic school,
And there amongst thy brethren play the fool;
There, unrebuked, these wild, vain doctrines preach.
Lives there a man whom Satire cannot reach?
Lives there a man who calmly can stand by,
And see his conscience ripp'd with steady eye?
When Satire flies abroad on Falsehood's wing,
Short is her life, and impotent her sting;
But when to Truth allied, the wound she gives
Sinks deep, and to remotest ages lives.
When in the tomb thy pamper'd flesh shall rot,
And e'en by friends thy memory be forgot,
Still shalt thou live, recorded for thy crimes,
Live in her page, and stink to after-times.
Hast thou no feeling yet? Come, throw off pride,
And own those passions which thou shalt not hide.
Sandwich, who, from the moment of his birth,
Made human nature a reproach on earth,
Who never dared, nor wish'd, behind to stay,
When Folly, Vice, and Meanness led the way,
Would blush, should he be told, by Truth and Wit,
Those actions which he blush'd not to commit.
Men the most infamous are fond of fame,
And those who fear not guilt, yet start at shame.
But whither runs my zeal, whose rapid force,
Turning the brain, bears Reason from her course;
Carries me back to times, when poets, bless'd
With courage, graced the science they profess'd;
When they, in honour rooted, firmly stood,
The bad to punish, and reward the good;
When, to a flame by public virtue wrought,
The foes of freedom they to justice brought,
And dared expose those slaves who dared support
A tyrant plan, and call'd themselves a Court?
Ah! what are poets now? As slavish those
Who deal in verse, as those who deal in prose.
Is there an Author, search the kingdom round,
In whom true worth and real spirit's found?
The slaves of booksellers, or (doom'd by Fate
To baser chains) vile pensioners of state;
Some, dead to shame, and of those shackles proud
Which Honour scorns, for slavery roar aloud;
Others, half-palsied only, mutes become,
And what makes Smollett write, makes Johnson dumb.
Why turns yon villain pale? Why bends his eye
Inward, abash'd, when Murphy passes by?
Dost thou sage Murphy for a blockhead take,
Who wages war with Vice for Virtue's sake?
No, no, like other worldlings, you will find
He shifts his sails and catches every wind.
His soul the shock of Interest can't endure:
Give him a pension then, and sin secure.
With laurell'd wreaths the flatterer's brows adorn:
Bid Virtue crouch, bid Vice exalt her horn;
Bid cowards thrive, put Honesty to flight,
Murphy shall prove, or try to prove it right.
Try, thou state-juggler, every paltry art;
Ransack the inmost closet of my heart;
Swear thou'rt my friend; by that base oath make way
Into my breast, and flatter to betray.
Or, if those tricks are vain; if wholesome doubt
Detects the fraud, and points the villain out;
Bribe those who daily at my board are fed,
And make them take my life who eat my bread.
On Authors for defence, for praise depend;
Pay him but well, and Murphy is thy friend:
He, he shall ready stand with venal rhymes,
To varnish guilt, and consecrate thy crimes;
To make Corruption in false colours shine,
And damn his own good name, to rescue thine.
But, if thy niggard hands their gifts withhold,
And Vice no longer rains down showers of gold,
Expect no mercy; facts, well-grounded, teach,
Murphy, if not rewarded, will impeach.
What though each man of nice and juster thought,
Shunning his steps, decrees, by Honour taught,
He ne'er can be a friend, who stoops so low
To be the base betrayer of a foe?
What though, with thine together link'd, his name
Must be with thine transmitted down to shame?
To every manly feeling callous grown,
Rather than not blast thine, he 'll blast his own.
To ope the fountain whence sedition springs,
To slander government, and libel kings;
With Freedom's name to serve a present hour,
Though born and bred to arbitrary power;
To talk of William with insidious art,
Whilst a vile Stuart's lurking in his heart;
And, whilst mean Envy rears her loathsome head,
Flattering the living, to abuse the dead,
Where is Shebbeare? Oh, let not foul reproach,
Travelling thither in a city-coach,
The pillory dare to name: the whole intent
Of that parade was fame, not punishment;
And that old staunch Whig, Beardmore, standing by,
Can in full court give that report the lie.
With rude unnatural jargon to support,
Half-Scotch, half-English, a declining court;
To make most glaring contraries unite,
And prove beyond dispute that black is white;
To make firm Honour tamely league with Shame,
Make Vice and Virtue differ but in name;
To prove that chains and freedom are but one,
That to be saved must mean to be undone,
Is there not Guthrie? Who, like him, can call
All opposites to proof, and conquer all?
He calls forth living waters from the rock;
He calls forth children from the barren stock;
He, far beyond the springs of Nature led,
Makes women bring forth after they are dead;
He, on a curious, new, and happy plan,
In wedlock's sacred bands joins man to man;
And to complete the whole, most strange, but true,
By some rare magic, makes them fruitful too;
Whilst from their loins, in the due course of years,
Flows the rich blood of Guthrie's 'English Peers.'
Dost thou contrive some blacker deed of shame,
Something which Nature shudders but to name,
Something which makes the soul of man retreat,
And the life-blood run backward to her seat?
Dost thou contrive, for some base private end,
Some selfish view, to hang a trusting friend;
To lure him on, e'en to his parting breath,
And promise life, to work him surer death?
Grown old in villany, and dead to grace,
Hell in his heart, and Tyburn in his face,
Behold, a parson at thy elbow stands,
Lowering damnation, and with open hands,
Ripe to betray his Saviour for reward,
The Atheist chaplain of an Atheist lord!
Bred to the church, and for the gown decreed,
Ere it was known that I should learn to read;
Though that was nothing, for my friends, who knew
What mighty Dulness of itself could do,
Never design'd me for a working priest,
But hoped I should have been a Dean at least:
Condemn'd, (like many more, and worthier men,
To whom I pledge the service of my pen)
Condemn'd (whilst proud and pamper'd sons of lawn,
Cramm'd to the throat, in lazy plenty yawn)
In pomp of reverend beggary to appear,
To pray, and starve on forty pounds a-year:
My friends, who never felt the galling load,
Lament that I forsook the packhorse road,
Whilst Virtue to my conduct witness bears,
In throwing off that gown which Francis wears.
What creature's that, so very pert and prim,
So very full of foppery, and whim,
So gentle, yet so brisk; so wondrous sweet,
So fit to prattle at a lady's feet;
Who looks as he the Lord's rich vineyard trod,
And by his garb appears a man of God?
Trust not to looks, nor credit outward show;
The villain lurks beneath the cassock'd beau;
That's an informer; what avails the name?
Suffice it that the wretch from Sodom came.
His tongue is deadly--from his presence run,
Unless thy rage would wish to be undone.
No ties can hold him, no affection bind,
And fear alone restrains his coward mind;
Free him from that, no monster is so fell,
Nor is so sure a blood-hound found in Hell.
His silken smiles, his hypocritic air,
His meek demeanour, plausible and fair,
Are only worn to pave Fraud's easier way,
And make gull'd Virtue fall a surer prey.
Attend his church--his plan of doctrine view--
The preacher is a Christian, dull, but true;
But when the hallow'd hour of preaching's o'er,
That plan of doctrine's never thought of more;
Christ is laid by neglected on the shelf,
And the vile priest is gospel to himself.
By Cleland tutor'd, and with Blacow bred,
(Blacow, whom, by a brave resentment led,
Oxford, if Oxford had not sunk in fame,
Ere this, had damn'd to everlasting shame)
Their steps he follows, and their crimes partakes;
To virtue lost, to vice alone he wakes,
Most lusciously declaims 'gainst luscious themes,
And whilst he rails at blasphemy, blasphemes.
Are these the arts which policy supplies?
Are these the steps by which grave churchmen rise?
Forbid it, Heaven; or, should it turn out so,
Let me and mine continue mean and low.
Such be their arts whom interest controls;
Kidgell and I have free and modest souls:
We scorn preferment which is gain'd by sin,
And will, though poor without, have peace within.

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Oscar Wilde

The Ballad Of Reading Gaol

(In memoriam
C. T. W.
Sometime trooper of the Royal Horse Guards
obiit H.M. prison, Reading, Berkshire
July 7, 1896)

I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
'THAT FELLOW'S GOT TO SWING.'

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.


Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.


He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats,
and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one's throat, before
The hangman with his gardener's gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass:
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.


II


Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In the suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its ravelled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.


For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the springtime shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer's collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men we were:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.


III


In Debtors' Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called,
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman's hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher's doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers' Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother's soul?


With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fools' Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil's Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom:
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.


That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watchers watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand.

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we - the fool, the fraud, the knave -
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another's terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savour of Remorse.


The grey cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shapes of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travellers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and long they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

'Oho!' they cried, 'The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.'

No things of air these antics were,
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs;
With the mincing step of a demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars,
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God's dreadful dawn was red.

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows' need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or to give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man's grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man's heart beat thick and quick,
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From some leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.


IV


There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived,
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood,
And makes it bleed in vain!


Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The Memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And Terror crept behind.


The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at,
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by day,
It eats the flesh and bone by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.


For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison-air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.


Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit may not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may but weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace - this wretched man -
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A requiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies:
They mocked the swollen purple throat,
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonoured grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life's appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn


V


I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know - and wise it were
If each could know the same -
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!


The vilest deeds like poison weeds,
Bloom well in prison-air;
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair.

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is a foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed, and cries to Time.


But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one's heart by night.

With midnight always in one's heart,
And twilight in one's cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.


And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?


And he of the swollen purple throat,
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul's strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ's snow-white seal.


VI


In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In a burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

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Oscar Wilde

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I

Version I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.


He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.


I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.


I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
'That fellows got to swing.'


Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one's throat, before
The hangman with his gardener's gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.

II.

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer's collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men were we:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.

III

In Debtors' Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman's hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher's doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers' Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother's soul?


With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fool's Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil's Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we-the fool, the fraud, the knave-
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another's terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savior of Remorse.

The cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and loud they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

'Oho!' they cried, 'The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.'
No things of air these antics were
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God's dreadful dawn was red.

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows' need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man's grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man's heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From a leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who live more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

IV.

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far to wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But their were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each go his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
An Horror stalked before each man,
And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.


For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace-this wretched man-
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A requiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life's appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

V.

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in goal
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know-and wise it were
If each could know the same-
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one's heart by night.

With midnight always in one's heart,
And twilight in one's cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul's strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ's snow-white seal.


VI.

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

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