Titania: Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
Griselda: A Society Novel In Verse - Chapter IV
How shall I take up this vain parable
And ravel out its issue? Heaven and Hell,
The principles of good and evil thought,
Embodied in our lives, have blindly fought
Too long for empire in my soul to leave
Much for its utterance, much that it can grieve.
A soldier on the battlefield of life,
I have grown callous to the signs of strife,
And feel the wounds of others and my own
With scarce a tremor and without a groan.
I have seen many perish in their sins,
Known much of frailty and inconsequence,
And if I laughed once, now I dare not be
Other than sad at man's insanity.
Therefore, in all humility of years,
Colder and wiser for hopes drowned in tears,
And seeking no more quarries for my mirth,
Who most need pity of the sons of earth,
I dip in kindlier ink my chastened pen,
And fill of my lost tale what leaves remain.
Years passed. Griselda from my wandering sight
Had waned and vanished, like a meteor bright,
Leaving no pathway in my manhood's heaven
Save only memories vaguely unforgiven
Of something fair and sad, which for a day
Had lit its zenith and had gone its way.
Rome and the Prince, the tale that I had heard,
Griselda's beauty--all that once had stirred
My curious thought to wonder and regret,
In the vexed problem of her woman's fate,
Had yielded place to the world's work--day cares,
The wealth it covets and the toil it dares.
I was no more a boy, when idle chance
And that light favour which attends romance
Brought me once more within the transient spell
Of other days, and dreams of Lady L.
'Twas in September--(I have always found
That month in my life's record dangerous ground,
Whether it be due to some unreasoned stress
Of the mad stars which dog our happiness,
Or whether, since in truth most things are due
To natural causes, if our blindness knew,
To the strong law of Nature's first decay,
Warning betimes of time that cannot stay,
And summer perishing, and hours to come,
Lit by less hope in the year's martyrdom;
And so we needs must seize at any cost
Fleet pleasure's hem lest all our day be lost)--
'Twas in September, at a country house
In the Midland shires, where I had come, God knows,
Without a fancy but of such light sort
As manhood ventures in the realms of sport
With that dear god of slaughter England's sons
Adore with incense--smoke and roar of guns,
That this new chapter opens. Who had guessed
So rare a phoenix housed in such a nest?
For we, in truth, were no wise company,
Men strong and joyous, keen of hand and eye,
And shrewd for pleasure, but whose subtlest wit
Was still to jest at life while using it,
And jest at love, as at a fruit low hung
To all men's lips, no matter whence it sprung.
A fool's philosophy, yet dear to youth
Bred without knowledge of the nobler truth,
And seeming wisdom, till the bitter taste
Of grief has come to cure its overhaste.
Naught was there, in the scene nor in the parts
Played by the actors, worthy serious hearts,
Or worthy her whose passion trod a stage
High o'er the frailties of our prurient age,
Griselda and her unattained fair dream
Of noble deeds and griefs unknown to them.
How came she there? Our hostess was a woman
Less famed for wisdom than a heart all human
Rich in life's gifts, a wealthy generous soul,
But still too fair and still too bountiful.
The rest, mad hoydens of the world, whose worth
Lay mired with folly, earthiest of the earth.
How came she there? When I, unconscious all
Of such high presence at our festival,
Heard her name bandied in the general hum
Of hungry tongues, which told the guests had come,
And saw in converse with our host the form,
Familiar once in sunshine and in storm,
Of her who was to me the type and sign
Of all things noble, not to say Divine,
Breathing the atmosphere of that vain house,
My heart stopped beating. Half incredulous,
I looked and questioned in my neighbours' eyes,
Seeking the sense of this supreme surprise.
My thought took words, as at the table set
Men's lips were loosed, discoursing while they ate,
And each to each. Beside me, of the crew
Of gilded youths who swelled the retinue
Of our fair hostess in her daily lot
Of hunting laughter when field sports were not,
Sat one, a joyous boy, whom fashion's freak,
A mad--cap purse--string and a beardless cheek,
Had set pre--eminent in pleasure's school
To play the hero and to play the fool
For those few years which are the summer's day
Of fashion's foils ere they are cast away.
Young Jerry Manton! Happy fortune's son!
What heights of vanity your creed had won,
Creed of adventure, and untiring words
And songs and loves as brainless as a bird's.
Who would not envy you your lack of sense,
Your lawless jibes, your wealth of insolence,
The glory of your triumphs unconcealed
In pleasure's inmost and most sacred field?
Who would not share the sunshine of your mirth,
Your god--like smile, your consciousness of worth,
The keenness of your wit in the world's ways,
Your heart so callous to its blame or praise?
Him I addressed, in pursuance of my doubt
How such a prodigy had come about.
Young Manton eyed me. ``Every road,'' he said,
``Leads--well--to Rome.'' He laughed and shook his head,
As if in censure of a thought less sage.
``My lady's thirty is a dangerous age,
And of the three where most misfortunes come
Is the worst strewn with wrecks in Christendom.''
``You see,'' he added, ``we are not all wise
In all dilemmas and all companies,
And there are times and seasons when the best
Has need of an hour's frolic with the rest,
If only to set free the importunate load
Of trouble pressing on an uphill road.
Women's first snare is vanity. At twenty
Praises are pleasant, be they ne'er so plenty;
And some, the foolish ones, are thus soon caught
Seeking to justify the flattery taught.
These are the spendthrifts, dear ingenuous souls,
Whose names emblazoned stand on pleasure's rolls,
Manning the hosts of mirth. Apart from them,
More serious or less eager in their aim,
The wise ones wait like birds that hold aloof,
Conscious of danger and the cloven hoof.
Yet there are times.'' He paused awhile and sighed.
``The second snare,'' said he ``is set less wide;
It stands midway between the dawn of youth
And beauty's sunset, with its naked truth,
A danger hidden cunningly in flowers
And the wild drowsing of the noontide hours.
Here fall the elect, the chosen virtuous few,
Who have outlived the worst the storm could do,
But faint when it is over, through mere stress
Of their mortality's first weariness.
'Tis hard to see youth perish, even when
Ourselves to the mad warrant have set pen;
And for the wisest there are days of grief
And secret doubts and hours of unbelief
In all things but the one forbidden bliss
Churchmen forbid and poets call a kiss.
Why should we wonder? 'Tis a kindlier fate
At least than that, the last, which comes too late,
The old fool's folly nursed at forty--five.
Griselda is an angel, but alive,
Believe me, to her wings.'' A fatuous flush
Mantled his face, not quite perhaps a blush,
But something conscious, as of one who knows.
``Virtue and pleasure are not always foes,''
He sighed. ``And much depends upon the man.''
I turned impatient. There, behind her fan,
At the far table's end, Griselda's eyes
Were watching us, half hid by its disguise,
But conscious too, as if a secret string
Had vibrated 'twixt her and that vain thing.
The cynic boy, whose word was in my ear,
Dishonouring to me and him and her.
Our eyes met, and hers fell; a sudden pain
Touched me of memory, and in every vein
Ran jealous anger at young Manton's wit,
While, half aloud, I flung my curse on it.
Later, I found Griselda gravely gay,
And glad to see me in the accustomed way
Of half affection my long zeal had won,
Her face no older, though the years had spun
Some threads unnoticed in her fair brown hair
Of lighter hue than I remembered there,
Less silver streaked than gold. All else had grown
Fairer with time, and tenderer in its tone,
As when in August woods a second burst
Of leaves is seen more golden than the first.
A woman truly to be loved--but loving?
There was the riddle wit despaired of proving,
For who can read the stars? I sat with her
The evening through, and rose up happier.
In all that crowd there was no single face
Worthy her notice, not to say her grace,
And once again her charm was on my soul.
``If she love any''--this was still the goal
Of my night thoughts in argument with fear--
``Say what they will, the lover is not here.''
Not here! And yet, at parting, she had pressed
Manton's sole hand, and nodded to the rest.
Four days I lived in my fool's paradise,
Importuning Griselda's changing eyes
With idle flattery. I found her mood
Softer than once in her young womanhood,
Yet restless and uncertain. There were hours
Of a wild gaiety, when all the powers
Of her keen mind were in revolt with folly,
Others bedimmed with wordless melancholy.
Once too or twice she shocked me with a phrase
Of doubtful sense, revealing thoughts and ways
New to her past, an echo of the noise
Of that mad world we lived in and its joys:
Such things were sacrilege. I could not see
Unmoved my angel smirched with vanity,
Even though, it seemed at moments, for my sake.
Her laughter, when she laughed, made my heart ache,
And I had spared some pain to see her sad
Rather than thus unseasonably glad.
Who would have dreamed it? Each new idle day,
When, tired with sport, we rested from the fray,
Five jovial shooters, jaded by the sun,
Seeking refreshment at the stroke of noon,--
There, with the luncheon carts all trimly dight,
Stood Lady L., to the fool crowd's delight.
You would have thought her life had always been
Passed in the stubbles, as, with questions keen,
She eyed the bags and parleyed with the ``guns'';
Rome's matron she with us the Goths and Huns.
Young Manton proudly spread for her his coat
Under a hedge, and she resented not.
Resented! Why resent? Nay, smiles were there,
And a swift look of pleasure, still more rare,
Pleasure and gratitude, as though the act
Had been of chivalry in form and fact
Transcending Raleigh's. Ay, indeed! Resent!
That eye were blind which doubted what it meant.
And still I doubted. Vanity dies hard.
And love, however starving of reward,
And youth's creed of belief. It seemed a thing
Monstrous, impossible, bewildering,
As tales of dwarfs and giants gravely told
By men of science, and transmuted gold,
And magic potions turning men to beasts,
And lewd witch Sabbaths danced by unfrocked priests.
Griselda! Manton! In what mood or tense
Could folly conjugate such dreams to sense,
Or draw the contract not in terms absurd
Of such a friendship or of act or word?
Where was the common thought between the two--
Even of partridges--the other knew?
Manton--Griselda! Nay 'twere fabulous,
A mere profanity, to argue thus;
Only I watched them closer when they strayed
To gather blackberries, as boy and maid
In a first courting, and her eager eyes
Turned as he spoke, and laughter came unwise
Before she answered, and an hour was flown,
Before he joined the rest and she was gone.
O Love! what an absurdity thou art,
How heedless of proportion, whole or part!
Time, place, occasion, what are they to thee?
Thou playest the wanton with Solemnity,
The prince with Poverty, the rogue with Worth,
The fool with all the Wisdoms of the Earth.
Thou art a leveller, more renowned than Death,
For he, when in his rage he stops our breath,
Leaves us at least the harvest of our years,
The right to be heroic in our tears.
But thou dost only mock. Thou art a king
Dealing with slaves, who waits no questioning
But gives--to this a province and a crown,
To that a beggar's staff and spangled gown;
And when some weep their undeserved disgrace,
Plucks at their cheeks and smites them in the face.
Thou hast no reverence, no respect for right.
Virtue to thee is a lewd appetite,
Remorse a pastime, modesty a lure,
And love, the malady, love's only cure.
Griselda, in her love at thirty--three
Was the supreme fool of felicity.
Reason and she had taken separate roads,
A spectacle of mirth for men and gods.
And the world laughed--discreetly in its sleeves--
At her poor artless shifts and make--believes.
For it was true, true to the very text,
This whispered thing that had my soul perplexed,
Manton was her beloved--by what art,
What mute equation of the human heart,
What blind jibe of dame Fortune, who shall say?
The road of passion is no king's highway,
Mapped out with finger--posts for all to see,
But each soul journeys on it separately,
And only those who have walked its mazes through
Remember on what paths the wild flowers grew.
Ay, who shall say? Nor had the truth been sung,
Save for the incontinence of Manton's tongue,
Wagging in argument on certain themes,
With boast of craft in pleasure's stratagems.
``For Love'' ('twas thus he made his parable
In cynic phrase, as hero of his tale,
One evening when the others were abed,
And we two sat on smoking, head to head,
Discoursing in that tone of men scarce friends,
Who prate philosophy to candle ends),
``Love, though its laws have not as yet been written
By any Balzac for our modern Britain,
And though perhaps there is no strategy
Youth can quite count upon or argue by,
Is none the less an art, with some few rules
Wise men observe, who would outrun the fools.
Now, for myself'' (here Manton spread his hands
With professorial wave in white wrist--bands)
``I hold it as a maxim always wise
In making love to deal with contraries.
Colours, books tell us, to be strongly blent,
Need opposite colours for their complement,
And so too women whose ill--reasoning mind
Requires some contradiction to be kind.
It is not enough in this late year of grace
To answer fools with their own foolishness--
Rather with your best wisdom. You will need
Your folly to perplex some wiser head.
And so my maxim is, whatever least
Women expect, that thing will serve you best.
Thus, with young souls in their first unfledged years,
Ask their opinion as philosophers:
Consult their knowledge in the ways of life.
The repute of sin will please a too chaste wife.
Your deference keep for harlots: these you touch
Best by your modesty, which makes them blush.
With a proud beauty deal out insolence,
And bear her fence down with a stronger fence.
She will be angry, but a softer cheek
Turn to the smiter who has proved her weak.
And so with wisdom: meet it with surprise,
Laugh at it idly gazing in its eyes,
Leave it no solid ground for its fair feet,
And lead it lightly where love's waters meet.
Even virtue--virtue of the noblest type,
The fair sad woman, whose romance is ripe,
Needs but a little knowledge to be led,
Perhaps less than the rest if truth be said.
You must not parley with her. Words are vain,
And you might wake some half forgotten pain.
Avoid her soul. It is a place too strong
For your assaulting, and a siege were long.
Others have failed before it. Touch it not,
But march beyond, nor fire a single shot.
The fields of pleasure less defended lie:
These are your vantage--ground for victory.
Strike boldly for possession and command;
An hour may win it, if you hold her hand.
I knew one once:'' . . . I would have stopped him here
But for the shame which held me prisoner;
And his undaunted reassuring smile,
Commanding confidence. ``I knew once on a while,''
He said, ``a woman whom the world called proud,
A saintly soul, untouched by the vain crowd,
Who had survived all battle, siege, and sack,
Love ever led with armies at his back,
Yet fell at last to the mere accident
Of a chance meeting, for another meant,
Her lover had not dared it, had he known,
But faces in the dark are all as one.
You know the rhyme.'' But at this point I rose,
Fearing what worse his folly might disclose,
And having learned my lesson of romance,
A sadder man and wiser for the chance,
Bade him good night: (it was in truth good--bye,
For pretexting next morning some small lie
Of business calling me in haste to town,
I fled the house). He looked me up and down,
Yawned, rose to light his candle at the lamp,
Pressed with warm hand my own hand which was damp,
And as he sauntered cheerily to bed,
I heard him sing--they linger in my head--
The first staves of a ballad, then the fashion
With the young bloods who shape their love and passion
At the music--halls of the Metropolis;
What I remember of the song was this:
But, no, I cannot write it. There are things
Too bitter in their taste, and this one stings
My soul to a mad anger even yet.
I seem to hear the voices of the pit
Lewdly discoursing of incestuous scenes,
Bottom the weaver's and the enamoured queen's.
Alas, Titania! thou poor soul, alas!
How art thou fallen, and to what an ass!
The Lament Of Tasso
Long years!--It tries the thrilling frame to bear
And eagle-spirit of a child of Song--
Long years of outrage, calumny, and wrong;
Imputed madness, prison'd solitude,
And the mind's canker in its savage mood,
When the impatient thirst of light and air
Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,
Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,
Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain,
With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;
And bare, at once, Captivity display'd
Stands scoffing through the never-open'd gate,
Which nothing through its bars admits, save day,
And tasteless food, which I have eat alone
Till its unsocial bitterness is gone;
And I can banquet like a beast of prey,
Sullen and lonely, crouching in the cave
Which is my lair, and--it may be--my grave.
All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,
But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;
For I have battled with mine agony,
And made me wings wherewith to overfly
The narrow circus of my dungeon wall,
And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall,
And revell'd among men and things divine,
And pour'd my spirit over Palestine,
In honour of the sacred war for Him,
The God who was on earth and is in heaven,
For He has strengthen'd me in heart and limb.
That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,
I have employ'd my penance to record
How Salem's shrine was won and how adored.
But this is o'er--my pleasant task is done:--
My long-sustaining friend of many years!
If I do blot thy final page with tears,
Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.
But thou, my young creation! my soul's child!
Which ever playing round me came and smiled,
And woo'd me from myself with thy sweet sight,
Thou too art gone--and so is my delight:
And therefore do I weep and inly bleed
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
Thou too art ended--what is left me now?
For I have anguish yet to bear--and how?
I know not that--but in the innate force
Of my own spirit shall be found resource.
I have not sunk, for I had no remorse,
Nor cause for such: they call'd me mad — and why?
O Leonora! wilt not thou reply?
I was indeed delirious in my heart
To lift my love so loft as thou art;
But still my frenzy was not of the mind;
I knew my fault, and feel my punishment
Not less because I suffer it unbent.
That thou wert beautiful, and I not blind,
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind;
But let them go, or torture as they will,
My heart can multiply thine image still;
Successful love may sate itself away,
The wretched are the faithful; 'tis their fate
To have all feeling save the one decay,
And every passion into one dilate,
As rapid rivers into ocean pour;
But ours is fathomless, and hath no shore.
Above me, hark! the long and maniac cry
Of minds and bodies in captivity,
And hark! the lash and the increasing howl,
And the half-inarticulate blasphemy!
There be some here with worse than frenzy foul,
Some who do still goad on the o'erlabour'd mind,
And dim the little light that's left behind
With needless torture, as their tyrant will
Is wound up to the lust of doing ill:
With these and with their victims am I class'd,
'Mid sounds and sights like these long years have passed;
'Mid sounds and sights like these my life may close:
So let it be--for then I shall repose.
I have been patient, let me be so yet;
I had forgotten half I would forget,
But it revives--oh! I would it were my lot
To be forgetful as I am forgot!--
Feel I not wroth with those who bade me dwell
In this vast lazar-house of many woes?
Where laughter is not mirth, nor thought the mind,
Nor words a language, nor even men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell--
For we are crowded in our solitudes--
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes Madness in her babbling moods;--
While all can hear, none heed his neighbour's call--
None! save that One, the veriest wretch of all,
Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between Distraction and Disease.
Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here?
Who have debased me in the minds of men,
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear?
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,
And teach them inward Sorrow's stifled groan?
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress,
Which undermines our Stoical success?
No!--still too proud to be vindictive--I
Have pardon'd princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, Sister of my Sovereign! for thy sake
I week all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest;
Thy brother hates--but I can not detest;
Though pitiest not--but I can not forsake.
Look on a love which knows not to despair,
But all unquench'd is still my better part,
Dwelling deep in my shut and silent heart,
As dwells the gather'd lightning in its cloud,
Encompass'd with its dark and rolling shroud,
Till struck--forth flies the all-ethereal dart!
And thus at the collision of thy name
The vivid thought still flashes through my frame,
And for a moment all things as they were
Flit by me;--they are gone--I am the same.
And yet my love without ambition grew;
I knew thy state, my station, and I knew
A Princess was no love-mate for a bard;
I told it not, I breathed it not, it was
Sufficient to itself, its own reward;
And if my eyes reveal'd it, they, alas!
Were punish'd by the silentness of thine,
And yet I did not venture to repine.
Thou wert to me a crystal-girded shrine
Worshipp'd at holy distance, and around
Hallow'd and meekly kiss'd the saintly ground;
Nor for thou wert a princess, but that Love
Had robed thee with a glory, and array'd
Thy lineaments in a beauty that dismay'd--
Oh! not dismay'd--but awed, like One above!
And in that sweet severity there was
A something which all softness did surpass--
I know not how--thy genius master'd mine--
My star stood still before thee:--if it were
Presumptuous thus to love without design,
That sad fatality hath cost me dear;
But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me--but for thee.
The very love which lock'd me to my chain
Hath lighten'd half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast,
And foil the ingenuity of Pain.
It is no marvel--from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love--which did pervade
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,
And rocks, whereby they grew, a paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dream'd uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the Wise
Shook their white aged heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in woe.
And that the only lesson was a blow;
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt
Return'd and wept alone, and dream'd again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain;
And the whole heart exhaled into One Want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day
I found the thing I sought--and that was thee;
And then I lost my being all to be
Absorb'd in thine--the world was pass'd away--
Thou didst annihilate the earth to me!
I loved all Solitude--but little thought
To spend I know not what of life, remote
From all communion with existence, save
The maniac and his tyrant;--had I been
Their fellow, many years ere this had seen
My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave,
But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave?
Perchance in such a cell we suffer more
Than the wreck'd sailor on his desert shore:
The world is all before him--mine is here,
Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier.
What though he perish, he may lift his eye
And with a dying glance upbraid the sky--
I will not raise my own in such reproof,
Although 'tis clouded by my dungeon roof.
Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,
But with a sense of its decay:--I see
Unwonted lights along my prison shine,
And a strange demon, who is vexing me
With pilfering pranks and petty pains, below
The feeling of the healthful and the free;
But much to One, who long hath suffer'd so,
Sickness of heart, and narrowness of place,
And all that must be borne, or can debase.
I thought my enemies had been but Man,
But spirits may be leagued with them--all Earth
Abandons--Heaven forgets me--in the dearth
Of such defence the Powers of Evil can,
It may be, tempt me further--and prevail
Against the outworn creature they assail.
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved
Like steel in tempering fire?--because I loved?
Because I loved what not to love, and see,
Was more or less than mortal, and than me.
I once was quick in feeling--that is o'er;--
My scars are callous, or I should have dash'd
My brain against these bars, as the sun flash'd
In mockery through them;--If I bear and bore
The much I have recounted, and the more
Which hath no words,--'tis that I would not die
And sanction with self-slaughter the dull lie
Which snared me here, and with the brand of shame
Stamp Madness deep into memory,
And woo Compassion to a blighted name,
Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
No — it shall be immortal!--and I make
A future temple of my present cell,
Which nations yet shall visit for my sake.
While thou, Ferrara! when no longer dwell
The ducal chiefs within thee, shalt fall down,
And crumbling piecemeal view thy hearthless halls.
A poet's wreath shall be thine only crown--
A poet's dungeon thy most far renown,
While strangers wander o'er thy unpeopled walls!
And thou, Leonora!--thou--who wert ashamed
That such as I could love--who blush'd to hear
To less than monarchs that thou couldst be dear,
Go! tell thy brother, that my heart, untamed
By grief, years, weariness--and it may be
A taint of that he would impute to me,
From long infection of a den like this,
Where the mind rots congenial with the abyss--
Adores thee still;--and add--that when the towers
And battlements which guard his joyous hours
Of banquet, dance, and revel are forgot,
Or left untended in a dull repose,
This--this--shall be a consecrated spot!
But thou--when all that Birth and Beauty throws
Of magic round thee is extinct--shalt have
One half the laurel which o'ershades my grave.
No power in death can tear our names apart,
As none in life could rend thee from my heart.
Yes, Leonora! it shall be our fate
To be entwined for ever--but too late!
- quotes about time
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about corruption
- quotes about eyes
- quotes about intellect
- quotes about love
- quotes about hate
- quotes about forgiveness
Adam: A Sacred Drama. Act 2.
SCENE I. -- CHORUS OF ANGELS Singing.
Now let us garlands weave
Of all the fairest flowers,
Now at this early dawn,
For new-made man, and his companion dear;
Let all with festive joy,
And with melodious song,
Of the great Architect
Applaud this noblest work,
And speak the joyous sound,
Man is the wonder both of Earth and Heaven.
Your warbling now suspend,
You pure angelic progeny of God,
Behold the labour emulous of Heaven!
Behold the woody scene,
Decked with a thousand flowers of grace divine;
Here man resides, here ought he to enjoy
In his fair mate eternity of bliss.
How exquisitely sweet
This rich display of flowers,
This airy wild of fragrance,
So lovely to the eye,
And to the sense so sweet.
O the sublime Creator,
How marvellous his works, and more his power!
Such is the sacred flame
Of his celestial love,
Not able to confine it in himself,
He breathed, as fruitful sparks
From his creative breast,
The Angels, Heaven, Man, Woman, and the World.
Yes, mighty Lord! yes, hallowed love divine!
Who, ever in thyself completely blest,
Unconscious of a want,
Who from thyself alone, and at thy will,
Bright with beignant flames,
Without the aid of matter or of form,
By efficacious power
Hast of mere nothing formed
The whole angelic host
With potency endowed,
And that momentous gift,
Either by sin to fall,
Or by volition stand.
Hence, our Almighty Maker,
To render us more worthy of his Heaven,
And to confirm us in eternal grace,
Presented to our homage
The pure Incarnate Word;
That as a recompense for hallowed toil
So worthily achieved,
We might adore him humble;
For there's a written law
In the records of Heaven,
That not a work of God that breathes and lives,
And is endowed with reason,
Shall hold a seat in Heaven,
If it incline not first with holy zeal,
In tender adoration to the Word.
Justly each Spirit in the realms above,
And all of mortal race,
And every foe to Heaven,
Should bow the knee in reverence of the Word;
Since this is he whom from eternity
God in the awful depth
Of his sublime and fruitful mind produced;
He is not accident, but substance true,
As rare as perfect, and as truly great
As his high Author holy and divine.
This living Word, image express of God,
Is a resemblance of his mighty substance;
Whence he is called the Son, the Son of God,
Even as the Father, God;
The generated Word
By generation yields not unto time,
Since from eternity the eternal Father
Produced his Son, whence he rejoices there,
Great offspring of great Father there for ever!
For ever he is born,
There he is fed, and fostered
With plenitude of grace
Imparted by his Sire:
There was the Father ever, and the Son
Was ever at his side, or in the Father;
Nor younger is the Son
Than his Almighty Sire,
Nor elder is the Father
Than his eternal Son.
O Son, O Sire, O God, O Man, O Word,
Let all with bended knee,
With humble adoration reverence you!
O Lucifer, now doomed to endless pain,
Hadst thou been joined with us
In worship of the Word,
How hadst thou now been blessed in thy God!
But thou in pride alone, yes, thou alone
In thy great wisdom foolish,
Hast scorned the Paragon,
And wouldst not reverence the Incarnate God;
Whence by thy folly thou hast fallen as far
As thy proud soul expected to ascend.
Monster of fierceness, dwell
In thy obscure recess!
And for thy weighty crime
Incessant feel and infinite thy pain,
For infinite has been thy vast offence.
Reside for ever in the deep abyss,
For well the world's eternal Master knows
Again to fill those high celestial seats,
That by your ruin you have vacant left;
Behold man fashioned from the earth, who lives,
Like plants that vegetate;
See in a moment's space
How the pure breath of life,
Breathed on his visage by the power divine,
Endows the wondrous creature with a soul,
A pure immortal soul,
That graced, and lovely with exalted powers,
Shines the great faithful image of its God.
Behold it has the gift to merit highly,
The option to deserve or heaven or hell,
In free will perfect, as the first of angels.
Yes, man alone was formed in just derision
Of all the infernal host,
As lord of this fair world and all that lives,
The ornament of all,
The miracle of nature,
The perfect heir of heaven,
Related to the angels,
Adopted son of God,
And semblance of the Holy Trinity;
What couldst thou hope for more, what more attain,
In whom the eternal Lord
Has now vouchsafed in signalise his power?
How singular and worthy is his form,
Upright in stature, meek in dignity;
Well fashioned are his limbs, and his complexion
Well tempered, with a high majestic brow,
A brow turned upward to his native sky;
In language eloquent, in thought sublime,
For contemplation of his Maker formed.
Placed in a state of innocence is man;
Primeval justice is his blessed gift,
Hence are his senses to his reason subject,
His body to his mind,
Enjoying reason as his prime endowment.
Supernal love held him too highly dear,
To let him dwell alone;
And thence of lovely woman
(Fair faithful aid) bestowed on man the gift,
Adam, 'tis thine alone
To keep thy duty to thy Lord unstained;
In his command of the forbidden fruit,
Thy gift of freedom keep inviolate;
And though he fashioned thee without thy aid,
Think not without thy aid he means to save thee!
But since, descending from the heights of heaven,
We come as kind attendants upon man,
Now let us haste to Eden's flowery banks.
ALL THE ANGELS SING.
Now take we happy flight
To Paradise, adorned with fairest flowers;
There let us almost worship
The mighty lord of this transcendent world,
And joyous let us sing
This flowery heaven, and Adam as its God.
Adam. O mighty Lord of mighty things sublime?
O my supreme Creator!
O bounteous in thy love
To me thy humble servant, such rare blessings
With liberal hand thou givest,
Where'er I turn my eyes,
I see myself revered.
Approach ye animals that range the field!
And ye now close your variegated wings,
Ye pleasing birds! in me you look on Adam,
On him ordained to name
All things that gracious God has made for man;
And praise, with justice praise
Him who created me, who made you all,
And in his bounteous love with me rejoice.
But what do I behold? blest that I am,
My dear, my sweet companion!
Who comes to hail me with a gift of flowers,
And with these sylvan honours crown my brow.
Go! stately lion, go! and thou with scales
Rhinoceros, whose pride can strike to earth
The unconquered elephant!
Thou fiery courser bound along the fields,
And with thy neighing shake the echoing vale;
Thou camel, and all here, or beast, or bird,
Retire, in homage to approaching Eve!
Eve. Oh what delight more dear,
Than that, which Adam in my sight enjoys,
Draws him far off from me? Ye tender flowers,
Where may I find on you
The traces of his step?
Lurcone. See man and woman! hide thyself and watch!
Adam. No more fatigue my eyes,
Nor with thy animated glances dart
Such radiance lightning round:
Turn the clear Heaven of thy serener face
To him who loves its light;
See thy beloved Adam,
Behold him, my sweet love;
O thou, who art alone
Joy of the world, and dear delight of man!
Lurcone. Dread the approach of evil!
Guliar. Dread the deceit of hell!
Eve. By sovereign content
I feel my tongue enchained;
But though my voice be mute,
My countenance may seem more eloquent,
Expressing, though in silence, all my joy.
Adam. O my companion dear!
Lurcone. And soon perchance thy foe!
Adam. O thou my sweetest life!
Guliar. Perchance thy bitter death!
Eve. Take, gentle Adam, from my hand these flowers;
With these, my gift, let me entwine thy locks.
Adam. Ye lilies, and ye shrubs of showy hue,
Jasmine as ivory pure,
Ye spotless graces of the shining field;
And thou most lovely rose
Of tint most delicate,
Fair consort of the morn,
Delighted to imbibe
The genial dew of Heaven,
Rich vegetation's vermil-tinctured gem,
April's enchanting herald,
Thou flower supremely blest,
And queen of all the flowers,
Thou form'st around my locks
A garland of such fragrance,
That up to Heaven itself
Thy balmy sweets ascend.
Let us in pure embraces
So twine ourselves, my love,
That we may seem united,
One well-compact, and intricate acanthus.
Lurcone. Soon shall the fetters of infernal toil
So spread around ye both,
The indissoluble bond,
No mortal effort shall have power to break!
Eve. Now, that with flowers so lovely
We have adorned our tresses,
Here let us both with humble reverence kneel,
And praise our mighty Maker.
From this my thirsting heart
No longer can refrain.
Adam. At thy engaging words,
And thy pure heart's desire,
On these pure herbs and flowers,
I bend my willing knee in hallowed bliss.
Lurcone. Away! far off must I
From act so meekly just
Furious depart and leave the light of day.
Guliar. I must partake thy flight,
And follow thee, alas, surcharged with grief.
Adam. Now that these herbs and flowers to our bent knees
Such easy rest afford,
Let us with zealous ardour raise our eyes,
Contemplating with praise our mighty Maker!
First then, devout and favoured Eve, do thou
With sacred notes invite
To deeds so fair thy Adam.
Eve. My Lord Omnipotent,
In his celestial essence
Is first, supreme, unlimited, alone,
He no beginning had, no end will have.
Adam. My sovereign Lord, so great
Is irresistible, terrific, just,
Gracious, benign, indulgent,
Divine, unspotted, holy, loving, good,
In justice most revered,
Ancient of days, in his sublimest court.
Eve. He rests in highest Heaven,
Yet more exalted in his boundless self;
Thence his all-searching eye looks down on all;
Nought is from him concealed,
Since all exists in him:
Without him nothing could retain existence,
Nor is there aught that he
For his perfection needs,
Except himself alone.
Adam. He every place pervades,
But is confined in none:
In him the limits of all grandeur lie,
But he exists unlimited by space.
Eve. Above the universe himself he raised,
Yet he behind it rests;
The whole he now encircles, now pervades,
Now dwells apart from all,
So great, the universe
To comprehend him fails.
Adam. If he to all inclines,
In his just balance all he justly weighs:
From him if all things flow,
All things in him acknowledge their support,
But he on nothing rests.
Eve. To time my great director is not subject,
For time in him sees no vicissitude:
In awful and sublime eternity
One being stands for ever;
For ever stands one instant,
And hence this power assumes the name of God.
Adam. It is indeed a truth,
That my eternal mighty Lord is God;
This deity incomprehensible
That, ere the heaven was made,
Dwelt only in himself, and heaven in him.
Eve, let us joyous rise; in other scenes,
With admiration of celestial splendour
And of this lovely world,
With notes of hallowed bliss
Let us again make the glad air resound.
Eve. Lead on, my faithful guide;
Quick is my willing foot to follow thee,
Since my fond soul believes
That I in praising heaven to heaven ascend,
So my pure bosom feels
Full of divine content.
Adam. To speak on every theme
Our mighty Maker made thee eloquent,
So that in praising heaven thou seemest there.
My fair associate! treasure of my life!
Upon the wings of this exalted praise
Devotion soars so high, that if her feet
Rest on the earth, her spirit reaches heaven.
SCENE III. -- The Serpent, Satan, Spirits.
Serpent. To arms, to battle, O ye sons of power!
Ye warring spirits of the infernal field!
A new and wondrous war
Awaits you now, within the lists of earth;
Most strange indeed the mode
Of warring there, if triumph, war's great end,
Proves its beginning now.
Behold the sun himself turn pale with terror,
Behold the day obscured!
Behold each rapid bird directs his flight
Where thickest foliage spreads,
But shelter seeks in vain;
The leaves of every bough,
As with a palsy struck,
Affright him more, and urge his wings to flight.
I would not as a warrior take the field
Against the demi-goddess girt with angels,
Since she has now been used
To gaze on spirits tender and benign,
Not such as I, of semblance rough and fierce,
For battles born to subjugate the sky.
In human form I would not
Defy her to a great imprtant conflict,
The world she knows contains one only man.
Nor would I of the tiger
Or the imperious lion
Or other animal assume the shape;
For well she knows they could not reason with her,
Who are of reason void.
To make her knowledge vain,
That I exist to the eternal Maker,
A source of endless fear,
Wrapt in the painted serpent's scaly folds,
Part of myself I hide, giving the rest
A human semblance and a damsel's face.
Great things I tell thee, and behold I see
My adversary prompt to parley with me.
Of novelty to hear
How eager woman is!
Now, now I loose my tongue,
And shall entangle her in many a snare.
Satan. But what discordant sound
Rises from hell, where all was lately concord?
Why do hoarse trumpets bellow through the deep?
SCENE IV. -- Volan, the Serpent, Spirits, Satan.
Volan. Great Lord, ordained to found infernal realms,
And look with scorn upon the pomp of heaven,
Behold thy Volan fly
To pay his homage at thy scaly feet!
The chieftains of Avernus,
The prime infernal powers
To rise in rivalship
Of heaven in all, as in that lofty seat,
The Word to us revealed,
The source of such great strife,
They wish, that on the Earth
A goddess should prepare a throne for man,
And lead him to contemn
His own Almighty Maker:
Yet more the inhabitants of fire now wish
That having conquered Man,
And with such triumph gay,
To the great realms of deep and endless flames
Ye both with exultation may descend:
Then shall I see around
Hell dart its rays, and hold the sun in scorn
But if this man resist,
Then losing every hope
Of farther victory,
They wish that on the throne
Of triumph he may as a victor sit,
Who teaches it to move,
And thou perform the office
With an afflicted partner,
With him, who labours to conduct the car;
That clothed in horrid pomp
The region of Avernus,
May speak itself the seat of endless pain,
And at the sound of inauspicious trumpets
The heavens may shake, the universe re-echo.
SCENE V. -- Vain Glory drawn by a Giant, Volan, the Serpent, Satan, and Spirits.
Vain Glory. King of Avernus, at this harp's glad sound
I weave a starry garland for thy locks,
For well I see thy lovely scales portend
Honour to me, ruin and shame to man.
I am Vain Glory, and I sit on high,
Exulting Victress of the Mighty Giant:
He has his front in heaven, on earth his feet,
A faithful image of man's mighty worth:
But shake not thou with fear! strong as he is
So brittle is the crown of glass he wears
That at my breath, which drives him fiercely on,
Man loses power, and falls a prey to Death.
Serpent. Angel, or Goddess, from thy lofty triumph
Descend with me at the desire of Hell!
Haste to a human conflict;
You all so light and quick,
That by your movement not a leaf is shaken
In all these woods around,
Your mighty triumphs now together hide;
Now that in silence we may pass unseen,
Quick let us enter neighbouring Paradise.
Vain Glory. Wherefore delay? Point out the path we go;
Since prompt to follow thee,
Full as I am of haughtiness and pride,
With expeditious foot
I will advance
Among these herbs and flowers,
And let infernal laurels
Circle thy towering crest and circle mine!
Serpent. What tribes of beauteous flowers,
And plants how new and vivid!
How desolate shall I
Soon make these verdant scenes of plant and flower!
Behold! how with my foot
I now as much depress them,
As they shoot forth with pride to rear their heads:
Behold! their humid life
I wither with my step of blasting fire.
How I enjoy, as I advance through these
Fair bowers of rapid growth,
To poison with my breath the leaf and flower,
Embittering all these sweet and blooming fruits.
We are arrived, behold the lovely tree
Prohibited by heaven,
There mount, and be embowered
In the thick foliage of a wood so fair!
Vain Glory. See, I prepare to climb:
I am already high,
And in the leaves concealed.
Climb thou, great chief, and rapidly encircle,
And with thy scaly serpent train ascend
The tree; be quick, since now arising higher
I can discern where lonely Eve advances.
Serpent. Behold, enraged I twine around the trunk
With these my painted and empoisoned folds;
Behold, I breathe towards this woman, love,
Though hate is in my heart:
Behold me now; more beautiful than ever,
Though now of each pestiferous cruel monster
In poison and in rage, I am the model;
Now I behold her, now
In silence I conceal my gift of speech,
Among these leaves embowered.
SCENE VI. -- Eve, Serpent, and Vain Glory.
Eve. I ought, the servant of a Mighty Lord,
A servant low and humble,
With reverential knee bending to earth,
I ought to praise the boundless love of him,
Since he has made me queen
Of all the sun delights to view on earth.
But if to heaven I raise my eyes and heart,
Clearly can Eve not see
She was created for these great, eternal,
So that in spirit or in mortal frame,
She ever must enjoy or earth or heaven.
Hence this fair flowering tree
Wreathing abroad its widely branching arms,
As if desirous to contend with heaven,
Seems willing in my locks
To spread a shining heaven of verdant leaves;
And if I pass among the herbs and flowers,
Those, I behold, that by my step are pressed,
Arise more beautiful; the very buds
Expand, to form festoons
To decorate the grassy scene around.
Other new flowers with freshest beauty fair,
That stand from me sequestered,
Formed into groups or scattered in the vale,
Seem with delight to view me, and to say
The neighbouring flowers rejoice
To give thy foot support,
But we, aspiring Eagles,
From far behold thy visage,
Mild portraiture of the Almighty form.
While other plants and flowers,
Wishing that I may form my seat among them,
Above their native growth
So seem to raise themselves, that of sweet flowers
A fragrant hedge they form;
And others in a thousand tender ties,
Form on the ground so intricate a snare,
That the incautious hand which aims to free
The captive foot, must be itself ensnared.
If food I wish, or draught,
Lo! various fruit, lo! honey, milk, and manna;
Behold, from many a fount and many a rill,
The crystal beauty of the cooling stream.
If melody, behold the tuneful birds,
Behold angelic bands!
If welcome day,
Or mild and wished-for night,
Behold the sun, behold the moon and stars!
If I a friend require,
Adam, sweet friend, replies;
And if my God in heaven, the Eternal Maker
Dwells not unmindful, but regards my speech,
If creatures subject to my will I wish,
Lo! at my side all subject to my will.
What more can I desire, what more obtain?
Now nothing more, my Sovereign,
Eve is with honour loaded.
But what's before me? do I wake or dream?
Among these boughs I see
A human visage fair; what! are there then
More than myself and Adam,
Who view the glorious sun?
O marvellous, though I am distant far,
I yet discern the truth; with arms, with hands,
A human breast it has,
The rest is serpent all:
Oh, how the sun, emblazing with his rays
These gorgeous scales with glowing colours bright,
O'erwhelms my dazzled eyes!
I would approach it.
Serpent. Now, then, at length you see
I have precisely ta'en the semblance fit,
To overcome this woman.
Eve. The nearer I approach, more and more lovely
His semblance seems of emerald and sapphire,
Now ruby and now amethyst, and now
Of jasper, pearl, and flaming chrysolite
Each fold it waving forms around the trunk
Of this fair flowering tree!
Serpent. I will assail my foe.
Come to survey me better,
Thou dazzler of the eye,
Enchantress of the soul,
Soft idol of the heart,
Fair nymph, approach! Lo, I display myself,
Survey me all; now satisfy thine eyes;
View me attentive, paragon of beauty,
Thou noblest ornament of all the world,
Thou lovely pomp of nature,
Thou little paradise,
To whom all things do homage!
Where lonely from thy friend, thy Adam, far
Where art thou? now advancing where
The numerous bands of Angels
Become such fond admirers of thy beauty?
Happy I deem myself, supremely happy,
Since, 'tis my blessed lot,
With two fond eyes alone to gaze on that,
Which with unnumbered eyes, heaven scarce surveys.
Trust me if all the loveliness of heaven
Would wrap itself within a human veil,
Nought but thy beauteous bosom
Could form a mansion worthy such a guest.
How well I see, full well
That she above with thy light agile feet,
Imprints her step in heaven, and there she smiles
With thy enchanting lip,
To scatter joy around those blessed spheres;
Yes, with thy lips above,
She breathes, she speaks, she pauses,
And with thine eyes communicates a lustre
To all that's fair in heaven or fair on earth.
Eve. And who art thou, so eager
To lavish praise on me?
Yet never did mine eyes see form like thine.
Serpent. Can I be silent now?
Too much, too much, I pant
To please the lovely model of all grace.
Know when the world was fashioned out of nought
And this most fruitful garden,
I was ordained to dwell a gardener here,
By him who cultivates
The fair celestials fields:
Here joyful I ascend,
To watch that no voracious bird may seize
On such delicious fruit;
Here it is my delight,
Though all be marvellously fair around,
Lily to blend with lily, rose with rose,
And now the fragrant hedge
To form, and now between the groups of flowers,
And o'er the tender herb
To guide the current of the crystal stream.
Oh, what sweet scenes to captivate the eye
Of such a lovely virgin,
Will I disclose around;
Thou, if thou canst return
To this alluring spot,
And ever with fresh myrtle and new flowers,
More beauteous thou shalt find it;
This wondrous faculty I boast infused
By thy supernal Maker,
To guard in plant and flower their life and fragrance.
Eve. Since I have found thee courteous
No less than wise, reveal to me thy name;
Speak it to me, unless
I seek to know too much.
Serpent. Wisdom, I name myself,
Sometimes I Life am called,
For this my double nature, since I am
One part a serpent and the other human.
Eve. Strange things this day I hear; but tell me why
Thou serpent art combined with human form?
Serpent. I will inform thee; when the sovereign God
On nothing resting, yet gave force to all.
To balance all things in an even scale
The sage of heaven desired,
And not from opposite extremities
To pass without a medium justly founded:
Hence 'tween the brute and man
It pleased him to create this serpent kind;
And even this participates in reason,
And with a human face has human speech.
But what can fail to honour with submission,
The demi-god of earth?
Oh! if proportioned to thy charms, or equal
To the desert of man,
You had high knowledge, doubt not but in all
Ye would be reckoned as immortal gods;
Since the prime power of lofty science is
One of the first and greatest
Of attributes divine: Oh, could this be,
Descending from the base
Of this engaging plant,
How as a goddess should I here adore thee!
Eve. What, dost thou think so little then the sum
Of knowledge given to man? does he not know
Of every living herb and flower and plant,
Of minerals and of unnumbered gems,
Of fish, of fowl, and every animal,
In water or n earth, of fire, of air,
Of this fair starry heaven,
And of the moon and sun,
The virtues most concealed?
Serpent. Ah, this is nothing; since it only serves
To make the common things of nature known;
And I, although I am
Greatly inferior in my rank to man,
Yet, one by one, even I can number these,
More worthy it would be
To know both good and ill;
This, this is the supreme
Intelligence, and mysteries most high,
That on the earth would make you like to God.
Eve. That which hath power sufficient to import
This knowledge so sublime of good and ill,
(But mixt with mortal anguish,)
Is this forbidden tree, on which thou sittest.
Serpent. And tell me why a law
So bitter rises from a fruit so sweet?
Where then, where is the sense
That you so lately boasted as sublime?
Observe, if it be just,
That man so brave, so lovely, man that rules
The world with skilful hand, man that so much
Pleased his creating God, when power almighty
Fashioned the wonders both of earth and heaven,
That man at last a little fruit should crush,
And all be formed for nothing, or at best
But for a moment's space?
No, no, far from thee, far be such a doubt!
Let colour to thy cheek, and to thy lip
The banished rose return!
Say, -- but I know -- thy heart
Within thee speaks the language that I speak!
Eve. The Lord commanded me I should not taste
This fruit; and to obey him is my joy.
Serpent. If 'tis forbidden thee
To taste a fruit so fair,
Heaven does not choose that man should be a God,
But thou with courtesy, to my kind voice
Lend an attentive ear: say, if your Maker
Required such strict obedience, that you might
Depend but on his word to move and guard you;
Was there not power sufficient in the laws
Sublime of hope, of faith, and charity
Why then, fair creature, why, without occasion
Thus should he multiply his laws for man,
For ever outraging with such a yoke
Your precious liberty, and of great lords
Making you slaves, nay, in one point inferior
Even to the savage beasts,
Whom he would not reduce to any law?
Who does not know that loading you so much
With precepts, he has lessened the great blessing
Of joyous being, that your God first gave you?
Perchance he dreaded that ye soon might grow
His equals both, in knowledge, and be Gods?
No, for though like to God you might become
By such experiment, the difference still
Between you must be great, since this your knowledge,
And acquisition of divinity,
Could be but imitation, and effect
Of the first cause divine that dwells above.
And can it then be true,
That such a vital hand
Can do a deadly deed?
Oh, hadst thou tasted this, how wouldst thou gain
Advantage of the Lord, how then with him
Would thy conversing tongue,
Accuse the latent mysteries of heaven!
For other flowers and other plants, and fields,
And elements, and spheres,
Far different suns, and different moons, and stars
There are above, from those thou viewest here
Buried below these; all to thee are near,
Observe how near! but at the very distance
This apple is from thee. Extend thy hand,
Boldly extend it, -- ah! why dost thou pause?
Eve. What should I do? Who counsels me, O God?
Hope bids me live, and fear at once destroys me.
But say, how art thou able
To know such glorious things exist above,
And that on earth, one thus may equal God,
By feeding on this apple,
If thou in heaven wert never,
And ne'er permitted of the fruit to taste?
Serpent. Ah! is there ought I can deny to her
Whose happiness I wish? Now listen to me.
When of this garden I was made the keeper,
By him who fashioned thee,
All he has said to thee, to me he said;
And opening to me heaven's eternal bosom,
With all his infinite celestial pomp,
He satiated my eyes, and then thus spake:
Thy paradise thou hast enjoyed, O Serpent,
No more thou shalt behold it; now retain
Memory of heaven on earth,
Which thou mayst do by feeding on such fruit.
A heavenly seat alone is fit for man,
For that's the seat of beauty;
Since thou art partly man, and partly brute,
'Tis just thou dwell on earth;
The world was made for various beasts to dwell in,
He added, nor canst thou esteem it hard,
Serpent and man, to dwell on earth for ever,
Since thou already in thy human portion
Most fully hast enjoyed thy bliss above.
Thus I eternal live,
Forming my banquet of this savoury fruit,
And Paradise is open to my eyes,
By the intelligence, through me transfused
From this delicious viand.
Eve. Alas! what should I do? to whom apply?
My heart, what is thy counsel?
Serpent. 'Tis true, thy sovereign has imposed upon thee,
Under the pain of death,
To taste not of this fruit;
And to secure from thee
A dainty so delightful,
The watchful guard he made me
Of this forbidden tree;
So that if I consent, both man and thou,
His beautiful companion,
May rise to equal God in happiness.
'Tis but too true that to participate
In food and beverage with savage beasts,
Gives us in this similitude to them;
It is not just you both,
Works of a mighty Maker,
Great offspring of a great God,
Should in a base condition,
Among these groves and woods,
Lead a life equal to the lowest beast.
Eve. Ah! why art thou so eager
That I should taste of this forbidden food?
Serpent. Wouldst thou that I should tell?
Eve. 'Tis all my wish.
Serpent. Now lend thine ear, now arch
With silent wonder, both thy beauteous brows!
For two proud joys of mine,
Not for thy good alone, I wish to make thee
This liberal overture, and swear to keep
Silence while thou shalt seize the fruit denied.
First to avenge that high unworthy wrong
Done me by God, in fashioning my shape;
For I was deemed the refuse of his heaven,
For these my scaly parts,
That ever like a snake I trail behind;
And then, because he should to me alone
Have given this world, and o'er the numerous beasts
Have made me lord, not wholly of their kind;
But this my empire mighty and supreme,
O'er all these living things,
While man is doomed
To breathe on vital air,
Must seem but low and servile vassalage;
Since man, and only man
Was chosen high and mighty lord of all
This wondrous scene, and he thus raised to grandeur
Was newly formed of nought.
But when the fairest of all Eden's fruits
Is snatched and tasted, when you rise to Gods,
'Tis just that both ascending from this world,
Should reach the higher spheres
So that on earth to make me
Of every creature lord,
Of human error I my virtue make:
Know, that command is grateful even to God,
Grateful to man, and grateful to the serpent.
Eve. I yield obedience, ah! what is't I do?
Serpent. Rather what do you not? Ah, boldly taste,
Make me a god on earth, thyself in heaven.
Eve. Alas, how I perceive
A chilling tremour wander through my bones,
That turns my heart to ice!
Serpent. It is thy mortal part that now begins
To languish, as o'ercome by the divine,
Which o'er its lowly partner
In excellence ascends.
Behold the pleasant plant,
More lovely and more rich
Than if it raised to heaven branches of gold,
And bore the beauteous emerald as leaves,
With roots of coral and a trunk of silver.
Behold this jewelled fruit,
That gives enjoyment of a state divine!
How fair it is, and how
It takes new colours from the solar rays,
Bright as the splendid train
Of the gay peacock, when he whirls it round
Full in the sun, and lights his thousand eyes!
Behold how it invites!
'Tis all delicious, it is sweetness all;
Its charms are not deceitful,
Thine eye can view them well.
Now take it! Now I watch
In any angel spy thee! Dost thou pause?
Up! for once more I am thy guide; at last
The victory is thine!
Eve. At length behold me the exalted mistress
Of this most lovely fruit!
But why, alas, does my cold brow distil
These drops that overwhelm me?
Serpent. Lovely Virgin,
Will not our reason tell us
Supreme felicity is bought with pain?
Who from my brow will wipe
These drops of keener pain?
Who dissipate the dread that loads my heart?
Eve. Tell me what wouldst thou? tell me who afflicts thee?
Serpent. The terror of thy Lord; and hence I pray thee?
That when thou hast enjoyed
That sweet forbidden fruit,
When both of you become eternal gods,
That you would guard me from the wrath of heaven;
Since well indeed may he,
Whom we call God, kindle his wrath against me
Having to you imparted
Taste of this fruit against his high command.
But tell him, my desire
To make me lord of this inferior world,
Like man a god in heaven,
Rendered me mute while Eve attained the apple.
Eve. The gift I owe thee, Serpent, well deserves
That I should ne'er forget thee.
Serpent. Now in these verdant leaves I hide myself
Till thou with sounds of joy
Shalt call and re-assure me.
Eve. Now then conceal thyself, I promise thee
To be thy shield against the wrath of God.
O what delicious odour! 'tis so sweet
That I can well believe
That all the lovely flowers
From this derive their fragrance.
These dewy leaves to my conception seem
Moistened with manna, rather than with dew.
Ah, it was surely right
That fruit so exquisite
Should flourish to impart new life to man,
Not waste its sweets upon the wind and sun.
Nothing for any ill
To man could spring from God's creative hand:
Since he for man assuredly has felt
Such warmth of love unbounded, I will taste it.
How sweet it is! how far
Surpassing all the fruits of every kind,
Assembled in this soil!
But where is Adam now? Oh, Adam! Adam!
He answers not; then thou with speed depart
To find him; but among these flowers and leaves
Conceal this lovely apple, lest the angels,
Descrying it, forbid.
Adam to taste its sweets,
And so from man be made a mighty God.
Serpent. Extinguish in the waves thy rays, O sun!
No more distribute life!
Thus Lucifer ordains, and thus the apple!
Man, man is now subdued!
Vain Glory. O joyous day! O day
To Hell of triumph, and of shame to Heaven!
Eve has enjoyed the apple,
And now contrives that man may taste it too.
Now see by direst fate
Life is exchanged for death!
Now I exulting sing,
And hence depart with pride,
Since man's high boast is crushed,
And his bright day now turned to hideous night!
- quotes about fashion
- quotes about victory
- quotes about height
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about apples
- quotes about language
- quotes about equality
- quotes about food
The Holy Grail
From noiseful arms, and acts of prowess done
In tournament or tilt, Sir Percivale,
Whom Arthur and his knighthood called The Pure,
Had passed into the silent life of prayer,
Praise, fast, and alms; and leaving for the cowl
The helmet in an abbey far away
From Camelot, there, and not long after, died.
And one, a fellow-monk among the rest,
Ambrosius, loved him much beyond the rest,
And honoured him, and wrought into his heart
A way by love that wakened love within,
To answer that which came: and as they sat
Beneath a world-old yew-tree, darkening half
The cloisters, on a gustful April morn
That puffed the swaying branches into smoke
Above them, ere the summer when he died
The monk Ambrosius questioned Percivale:
`O brother, I have seen this yew-tree smoke,
Spring after spring, for half a hundred years:
For never have I known the world without,
Nor ever strayed beyond the pale: but thee,
When first thou camest--such a courtesy
Spake through the limbs and in the voice--I knew
For one of those who eat in Arthur's hall;
For good ye are and bad, and like to coins,
Some true, some light, but every one of you
Stamped with the image of the King; and now
Tell me, what drove thee from the Table Round,
My brother? was it earthly passion crost?'
`Nay,' said the knight; `for no such passion mine.
But the sweet vision of the Holy Grail
Drove me from all vainglories, rivalries,
And earthly heats that spring and sparkle out
Among us in the jousts, while women watch
Who wins, who falls; and waste the spiritual strength
Within us, better offered up to Heaven.'
To whom the monk: `The Holy Grail!--I trust
We are green in Heaven's eyes; but here too much
We moulder--as to things without I mean--
Yet one of your own knights, a guest of ours,
Told us of this in our refectory,
But spake with such a sadness and so low
We heard not half of what he said. What is it?
The phantom of a cup that comes and goes?'
`Nay, monk! what phantom?' answered Percivale.
`The cup, the cup itself, from which our Lord
Drank at the last sad supper with his own.
This, from the blessd land of Aromat--
After the day of darkness, when the dead
Went wandering o'er Moriah--the good saint
Arimathan Joseph, journeying brought
To Glastonbury, where the winter thorn
Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord.
And there awhile it bode; and if a man
Could touch or see it, he was healed at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappeared.'
To whom the monk: `From our old books I know
That Joseph came of old to Glastonbury,
And there the heathen Prince, Arviragus,
Gave him an isle of marsh whereon to build;
And there he built with wattles from the marsh
A little lonely church in days of yore,
For so they say, these books of ours, but seem
Mute of this miracle, far as I have read.
But who first saw the holy thing today?'
`A woman,' answered Percivale, `a nun,
And one no further off in blood from me
Than sister; and if ever holy maid
With knees of adoration wore the stone,
A holy maid; though never maiden glowed,
But that was in her earlier maidenhood,
With such a fervent flame of human love,
Which being rudely blunted, glanced and shot
Only to holy things; to prayer and praise
She gave herself, to fast and alms. And yet,
Nun as she was, the scandal of the Court,
Sin against Arthur and the Table Round,
And the strange sound of an adulterous race,
Across the iron grating of her cell
Beat, and she prayed and fasted all the more.
`And he to whom she told her sins, or what
Her all but utter whiteness held for sin,
A man wellnigh a hundred winters old,
Spake often with her of the Holy Grail,
A legend handed down through five or six,
And each of these a hundred winters old,
From our Lord's time. And when King Arthur made
His Table Round, and all men's hearts became
Clean for a season, surely he had thought
That now the Holy Grail would come again;
But sin broke out. Ah, Christ, that it would come,
And heal the world of all their wickedness!
"O Father!" asked the maiden, "might it come
To me by prayer and fasting?" "Nay," said he,
"I know not, for thy heart is pure as snow."
And so she prayed and fasted, till the sun
Shone, and the wind blew, through her, and I thought
She might have risen and floated when I saw her.
`For on a day she sent to speak with me.
And when she came to speak, behold her eyes
Beyond my knowing of them, beautiful,
Beyond all knowing of them, wonderful,
Beautiful in the light of holiness.
And "O my brother Percivale," she said,
"Sweet brother, I have seen the Holy Grail:
For, waked at dead of night, I heard a sound
As of a silver horn from o'er the hills
Blown, and I thought, `It is not Arthur's use
To hunt by moonlight;' and the slender sound
As from a distance beyond distance grew
Coming upon me--O never harp nor horn,
Nor aught we blow with breath, or touch with hand,
Was like that music as it came; and then
Streamed through my cell a cold and silver beam,
And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail,
Rose-red with beatings in it, as if alive,
Till all the white walls of my cell were dyed
With rosy colours leaping on the wall;
And then the music faded, and the Grail
Past, and the beam decayed, and from the walls
The rosy quiverings died into the night.
So now the Holy Thing is here again
Among us, brother, fast thou too and pray,
And tell thy brother knights to fast and pray,
That so perchance the vision may be seen
By thee and those, and all the world be healed."
`Then leaving the pale nun, I spake of this
To all men; and myself fasted and prayed
Always, and many among us many a week
Fasted and prayed even to the uttermost,
Expectant of the wonder that would be.
`And one there was among us, ever moved
Among us in white armour, Galahad.
"God make thee good as thou art beautiful,"
Said Arthur, when he dubbed him knight; and none,
In so young youth, was ever made a knight
Till Galahad; and this Galahad, when he heard
My sister's vision, filled me with amaze;
His eyes became so like her own, they seemed
Hers, and himself her brother more than I.
`Sister or brother none had he; but some
Called him a son of Lancelot, and some said
Begotten by enchantment--chatterers they,
Like birds of passage piping up and down,
That gape for flies--we know not whence they come;
For when was Lancelot wanderingly lewd?
`But she, the wan sweet maiden, shore away
Clean from her forehead all that wealth of hair
Which made a silken mat-work for her feet;
And out of this she plaited broad and long
A strong sword-belt, and wove with silver thread
And crimson in the belt a strange device,
A crimson grail within a silver beam;
And saw the bright boy-knight, and bound it on him,
Saying, "My knight, my love, my knight of heaven,
O thou, my love, whose love is one with mine,
I, maiden, round thee, maiden, bind my belt.
Go forth, for thou shalt see what I have seen,
And break through all, till one will crown thee king
Far in the spiritual city:" and as she spake
She sent the deathless passion in her eyes
Through him, and made him hers, and laid her mind
On him, and he believed in her belief.
`Then came a year of miracle: O brother,
In our great hall there stood a vacant chair,
Fashioned by Merlin ere he past away,
And carven with strange figures; and in and out
The figures, like a serpent, ran a scroll
Of letters in a tongue no man could read.
And Merlin called it "The Siege perilous,"
Perilous for good and ill; "for there," he said,
"No man could sit but he should lose himself:"
And once by misadvertence Merlin sat
In his own chair, and so was lost; but he,
Galahad, when he heard of Merlin's doom,
Cried, "If I lose myself, I save myself!"
`Then on a summer night it came to pass,
While the great banquet lay along the hall,
That Galahad would sit down in Merlin's chair.
`And all at once, as there we sat, we heard
A cracking and a riving of the roofs,
And rending, and a blast, and overhead
Thunder, and in the thunder was a cry.
And in the blast there smote along the hall
A beam of light seven times more clear than day:
And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail
All over covered with a luminous cloud.
And none might see who bare it, and it past.
But every knight beheld his fellow's face
As in a glory, and all the knights arose,
And staring each at other like dumb men
Stood, till I found a voice and sware a vow.
`I sware a vow before them all, that I,
Because I had not seen the Grail, would ride
A twelvemonth and a day in quest of it,
Until I found and saw it, as the nun
My sister saw it; and Galahad sware the vow,
And good Sir Bors, our Lancelot's cousin, sware,
And Lancelot sware, and many among the knights,
And Gawain sware, and louder than the rest.'
Then spake the monk Ambrosius, asking him,
`What said the King? Did Arthur take the vow?'
`Nay, for my lord,' said Percivale, `the King,
Was not in hall: for early that same day,
Scaped through a cavern from a bandit hold,
An outraged maiden sprang into the hall
Crying on help: for all her shining hair
Was smeared with earth, and either milky arm
Red-rent with hooks of bramble, and all she wore
Torn as a sail that leaves the rope is torn
In tempest: so the King arose and went
To smoke the scandalous hive of those wild bees
That made such honey in his realm. Howbeit
Some little of this marvel he too saw,
Returning o'er the plain that then began
To darken under Camelot; whence the King
Looked up, calling aloud, "Lo, there! the roofs
Of our great hall are rolled in thunder-smoke!
Pray Heaven, they be not smitten by the bolt."
For dear to Arthur was that hall of ours,
As having there so oft with all his knights
Feasted, and as the stateliest under heaven.
`O brother, had you known our mighty hall,
Which Merlin built for Arthur long ago!
For all the sacred mount of Camelot,
And all the dim rich city, roof by roof,
Tower after tower, spire beyond spire,
By grove, and garden-lawn, and rushing brook,
Climbs to the mighty hall that Merlin built.
And four great zones of sculpture, set betwixt
With many a mystic symbol, gird the hall:
And in the lowest beasts are slaying men,
And in the second men are slaying beasts,
And on the third are warriors, perfect men,
And on the fourth are men with growing wings,
And over all one statue in the mould
Of Arthur, made by Merlin, with a crown,
And peaked wings pointed to the Northern Star.
And eastward fronts the statue, and the crown
And both the wings are made of gold, and flame
At sunrise till the people in far fields,
Wasted so often by the heathen hordes,
Behold it, crying, "We have still a King."
`And, brother, had you known our hall within,
Broader and higher than any in all the lands!
Where twelve great windows blazon Arthur's wars,
And all the light that falls upon the board
Streams through the twelve great battles of our King.
Nay, one there is, and at the eastern end,
Wealthy with wandering lines of mount and mere,
Where Arthur finds the brand Excalibur.
And also one to the west, and counter to it,
And blank: and who shall blazon it? when and how?--
O there, perchance, when all our wars are done,
The brand Excalibur will be cast away.
`So to this hall full quickly rode the King,
In horror lest the work by Merlin wrought,
Dreamlike, should on the sudden vanish, wrapt
In unremorseful folds of rolling fire.
And in he rode, and up I glanced, and saw
The golden dragon sparkling over all:
And many of those who burnt the hold, their arms
Hacked, and their foreheads grimed with smoke, and seared,
Followed, and in among bright faces, ours,
Full of the vision, prest: and then the King
Spake to me, being nearest, "Percivale,"
(Because the hall was all in tumult--some
Vowing, and some protesting), "what is this?"
`O brother, when I told him what had chanced,
My sister's vision, and the rest, his face
Darkened, as I have seen it more than once,
When some brave deed seemed to be done in vain,
Darken; and "Woe is me, my knights," he cried,
"Had I been here, ye had not sworn the vow."
Bold was mine answer, "Had thyself been here,
My King, thou wouldst have sworn." "Yea, yea," said he,
"Art thou so bold and hast not seen the Grail?"
`"Nay, lord, I heard the sound, I saw the light,
But since I did not see the Holy Thing,
I sware a vow to follow it till I saw."
`Then when he asked us, knight by knight, if any
Had seen it, all their answers were as one:
"Nay, lord, and therefore have we sworn our vows."
`"Lo now," said Arthur, "have ye seen a cloud?
What go ye into the wilderness to see?"
`Then Galahad on the sudden, and in a voice
Shrilling along the hall to Arthur, called,
"But I, Sir Arthur, saw the Holy Grail,
I saw the Holy Grail and heard a cry--
`O Galahad, and O Galahad, follow me.'"
`"Ah, Galahad, Galahad," said the King, "for such
As thou art is the vision, not for these.
Thy holy nun and thou have seen a sign--
Holier is none, my Percivale, than she--
A sign to maim this Order which I made.
But ye, that follow but the leader's bell"
(Brother, the King was hard upon his knights)
"Taliessin is our fullest throat of song,
And one hath sung and all the dumb will sing.
Lancelot is Lancelot, and hath overborne
Five knights at once, and every younger knight,
Unproven, holds himself as Lancelot,
Till overborne by one, he learns--and ye,
What are ye? Galahads?--no, nor Percivales"
(For thus it pleased the King to range me close
After Sir Galahad); "nay," said he, "but men
With strength and will to right the wronged, of power
To lay the sudden heads of violence flat,
Knights that in twelve great battles splashed and dyed
The strong White Horse in his own heathen blood--
But one hath seen, and all the blind will see.
Go, since your vows are sacred, being made:
Yet--for ye know the cries of all my realm
Pass through this hall--how often, O my knights,
Your places being vacant at my side,
This chance of noble deeds will come and go
Unchallenged, while ye follow wandering fires
Lost in the quagmire! Many of you, yea most,
Return no more: ye think I show myself
Too dark a prophet: come now, let us meet
The morrow morn once more in one full field
Of gracious pastime, that once more the King,
Before ye leave him for this Quest, may count
The yet-unbroken strength of all his knights,
Rejoicing in that Order which he made."
`So when the sun broke next from under ground,
All the great table of our Arthur closed
And clashed in such a tourney and so full,
So many lances broken--never yet
Had Camelot seen the like, since Arthur came;
And I myself and Galahad, for a strength
Was in us from this vision, overthrew
So many knights that all the people cried,
And almost burst the barriers in their heat,
Shouting, "Sir Galahad and Sir Percivale!"
`But when the next day brake from under ground--
O brother, had you known our Camelot,
Built by old kings, age after age, so old
The King himself had fears that it would fall,
So strange, and rich, and dim; for where the roofs
Tottered toward each other in the sky,
Met foreheads all along the street of those
Who watched us pass; and lower, and where the long
Rich galleries, lady-laden, weighed the necks
Of dragons clinging to the crazy walls,
Thicker than drops from thunder, showers of flowers
Fell as we past; and men and boys astride
On wyvern, lion, dragon, griffin, swan,
At all the corners, named us each by name,
Calling, "God speed!" but in the ways below
The knights and ladies wept, and rich and poor
Wept, and the King himself could hardly speak
For grief, and all in middle street the Queen,
Who rode by Lancelot, wailed and shrieked aloud,
"This madness has come on us for our sins."
So to the Gate of the three Queens we came,
Where Arthur's wars are rendered mystically,
And thence departed every one his way.
`And I was lifted up in heart, and thought
Of all my late-shown prowess in the lists,
How my strong lance had beaten down the knights,
So many and famous names; and never yet
Had heaven appeared so blue, nor earth so green,
For all my blood danced in me, and I knew
That I should light upon the Holy Grail.
`Thereafter, the dark warning of our King,
That most of us would follow wandering fires,
Came like a driving gloom across my mind.
Then every evil word I had spoken once,
And every evil thought I had thought of old,
And every evil deed I ever did,
Awoke and cried, "This Quest is not for thee."
And lifting up mine eyes, I found myself
Alone, and in a land of sand and thorns,
And I was thirsty even unto death;
And I, too, cried, "This Quest is not for thee."
`And on I rode, and when I thought my thirst
Would slay me, saw deep lawns, and then a brook,
With one sharp rapid, where the crisping white
Played ever back upon the sloping wave,
And took both ear and eye; and o'er the brook
Were apple-trees, and apples by the brook
Fallen, and on the lawns. "I will rest here,"
I said, "I am not worthy of the Quest;"
But even while I drank the brook, and ate
The goodly apples, all these things at once
Fell into dust, and I was left alone,
And thirsting, in a land of sand and thorns.
`And then behold a woman at a door
Spinning; and fair the house whereby she sat,
And kind the woman's eyes and innocent,
And all her bearing gracious; and she rose
Opening her arms to meet me, as who should say,
"Rest here;" but when I touched her, lo! she, too,
Fell into dust and nothing, and the house
Became no better than a broken shed,
And in it a dead babe; and also this
Fell into dust, and I was left alone.
`And on I rode, and greater was my thirst.
Then flashed a yellow gleam across the world,
And where it smote the plowshare in the field,
The plowman left his plowing, and fell down
Before it; where it glittered on her pail,
The milkmaid left her milking, and fell down
Before it, and I knew not why, but thought
"The sun is rising," though the sun had risen.
Then was I ware of one that on me moved
In golden armour with a crown of gold
About a casque all jewels; and his horse
In golden armour jewelled everywhere:
And on the splendour came, flashing me blind;
And seemed to me the Lord of all the world,
Being so huge. But when I thought he meant
To crush me, moving on me, lo! he, too,
Opened his arms to embrace me as he came,
And up I went and touched him, and he, too,
Fell into dust, and I was left alone
And wearying in a land of sand and thorns.
`And I rode on and found a mighty hill,
And on the top, a city walled: the spires
Pricked with incredible pinnacles into heaven.
And by the gateway stirred a crowd; and these
Cried to me climbing, "Welcome, Percivale!
Thou mightiest and thou purest among men!"
And glad was I and clomb, but found at top
No man, nor any voice. And thence I past
Far through a ruinous city, and I saw
That man had once dwelt there; but there I found
Only one man of an exceeding age.
"Where is that goodly company," said I,
"That so cried out upon me?" and he had
Scarce any voice to answer, and yet gasped,
"Whence and what art thou?" and even as he spoke
Fell into dust, and disappeared, and I
Was left alone once more, and cried in grief,
"Lo, if I find the Holy Grail itself
And touch it, it will crumble into dust."
`And thence I dropt into a lowly vale,
Low as the hill was high, and where the vale
Was lowest, found a chapel, and thereby
A holy hermit in a hermitage,
To whom I told my phantoms, and he said:
`"O son, thou hast not true humility,
The highest virtue, mother of them all;
For when the Lord of all things made Himself
Naked of glory for His mortal change,
`Take thou my robe,' she said, `for all is thine,'
And all her form shone forth with sudden light
So that the angels were amazed, and she
Followed Him down, and like a flying star
Led on the gray-haired wisdom of the east;
But her thou hast not known: for what is this
Thou thoughtest of thy prowess and thy sins?
Thou hast not lost thyself to save thyself
As Galahad." When the hermit made an end,
In silver armour suddenly Galahad shone
Before us, and against the chapel door
Laid lance, and entered, and we knelt in prayer.
And there the hermit slaked my burning thirst,
And at the sacring of the mass I saw
The holy elements alone; but he,
"Saw ye no more? I, Galahad, saw the Grail,
The Holy Grail, descend upon the shrine:
I saw the fiery face as of a child
That smote itself into the bread, and went;
And hither am I come; and never yet
Hath what thy sister taught me first to see,
This Holy Thing, failed from my side, nor come
Covered, but moving with me night and day,
Fainter by day, but always in the night
Blood-red, and sliding down the blackened marsh
Blood-red, and on the naked mountain top
Blood-red, and in the sleeping mere below
Blood-red. And in the strength of this I rode,
Shattering all evil customs everywhere,
And past through Pagan realms, and made them mine,
And clashed with Pagan hordes, and bore them down,
And broke through all, and in the strength of this
Come victor. But my time is hard at hand,
And hence I go; and one will crown me king
Far in the spiritual city; and come thou, too,
For thou shalt see the vision when I go."
`While thus he spake, his eye, dwelling on mine,
Drew me, with power upon me, till I grew
One with him, to believe as he believed.
Then, when the day began to wane, we went.
`There rose a hill that none but man could climb,
Scarred with a hundred wintry water-courses--
Storm at the top, and when we gained it, storm
Round us and death; for every moment glanced
His silver arms and gloomed: so quick and thick
The lightnings here and there to left and right
Struck, till the dry old trunks about us, dead,
Yea, rotten with a hundred years of death,
Sprang into fire: and at the base we found
On either hand, as far as eye could see,
A great black swamp and of an evil smell,
Part black, part whitened with the bones of men,
Not to be crost, save that some ancient king
Had built a way, where, linked with many a bridge,
A thousand piers ran into the great Sea.
And Galahad fled along them bridge by bridge,
And every bridge as quickly as he crost
Sprang into fire and vanished, though I yearned
To follow; and thrice above him all the heavens
Opened and blazed with thunder such as seemed
Shoutings of all the sons of God: and first
At once I saw him far on the great Sea,
In silver-shining armour starry-clear;
And o'er his head the Holy Vessel hung
Clothed in white samite or a luminous cloud.
And with exceeding swiftness ran the boat,
If boat it were--I saw not whence it came.
And when the heavens opened and blazed again
Roaring, I saw him like a silver star--
And had he set the sail, or had the boat
Become a living creature clad with wings?
And o'er his head the Holy Vessel hung
Redder than any rose, a joy to me,
For now I knew the veil had been withdrawn.
Then in a moment when they blazed again
Opening, I saw the least of little stars
Down on the waste, and straight beyond the star
I saw the spiritual city and all her spires
And gateways in a glory like one pearl--
No larger, though the goal of all the saints--
Strike from the sea; and from the star there shot
A rose-red sparkle to the city, and there
Dwelt, and I knew it was the Holy Grail,
Which never eyes on earth again shall see.
Then fell the floods of heaven drowning the deep.
And how my feet recrost the deathful ridge
No memory in me lives; but that I touched
The chapel-doors at dawn I know; and thence
Taking my war-horse from the holy man,
Glad that no phantom vext me more, returned
To whence I came, the gate of Arthur's wars.'
`O brother,' asked Ambrosius,--`for in sooth
These ancient books--and they would win thee--teem,
Only I find not there this Holy Grail,
With miracles and marvels like to these,
Not all unlike; which oftentime I read,
Who read but on my breviary with ease,
Till my head swims; and then go forth and pass
Down to the little thorpe that lies so close,
And almost plastered like a martin's nest
To these old walls--and mingle with our folk;
And knowing every honest face of theirs
As well as ever shepherd knew his sheep,
And every homely secret in their hearts,
Delight myself with gossip and old wives,
And ills and aches, and teethings, lyings-in,
And mirthful sayings, children of the place,
That have no meaning half a league away:
Or lulling random squabbles when they rise,
Chafferings and chatterings at the market-cross,
Rejoice, small man, in this small world of mine,
Yea, even in their hens and in their eggs--
O brother, saving this Sir Galahad,
Came ye on none but phantoms in your quest,
No man, no woman?'
Then Sir Percivale:
`All men, to one so bound by such a vow,
And women were as phantoms. O, my brother,
Why wilt thou shame me to confess to thee
How far I faltered from my quest and vow?
For after I had lain so many nights
A bedmate of the snail and eft and snake,
In grass and burdock, I was changed to wan
And meagre, and the vision had not come;
And then I chanced upon a goodly town
With one great dwelling in the middle of it;
Thither I made, and there was I disarmed
By maidens each as fair as any flower:
But when they led me into hall, behold,
The Princess of that castle was the one,
Brother, and that one only, who had ever
Made my heart leap; for when I moved of old
A slender page about her father's hall,
And she a slender maiden, all my heart
Went after her with longing: yet we twain
Had never kissed a kiss, or vowed a vow.
And now I came upon her once again,
And one had wedded her, and he was dead,
And all his land and wealth and state were hers.
And while I tarried, every day she set
A banquet richer than the day before
By me; for all her longing and her will
Was toward me as of old; till one fair morn,
I walking to and fro beside a stream
That flashed across her orchard underneath
Her castle-walls, she stole upon my walk,
And calling me the greatest of all knights,
Embraced me, and so kissed me the first time,
And gave herself and all her wealth to me.
Then I remembered Arthur's warning word,
That most of us would follow wandering fires,
And the Quest faded in my heart. Anon,
The heads of all her people drew to me,
With supplication both of knees and tongue:
"We have heard of thee: thou art our greatest knight,
Our Lady says it, and we well believe:
Wed thou our Lady, and rule over us,
And thou shalt be as Arthur in our land."
O me, my brother! but one night my vow
Burnt me within, so that I rose and fled,
But wailed and wept, and hated mine own self,
And even the Holy Quest, and all but her;
Then after I was joined with Galahad
Cared not for her, nor anything upon earth.'
Then said the monk, `Poor men, when yule is cold,
Must be content to sit by little fires.
And this am I, so that ye care for me
Ever so little; yea, and blest be Heaven
That brought thee here to this poor house of ours
Where all the brethren are so hard, to warm
My cold heart with a friend: but O the pity
To find thine own first love once more--to hold,
Hold her a wealthy bride within thine arms,
Or all but hold, and then--cast her aside,
Foregoing all her sweetness, like a weed.
For we that want the warmth of double life,
We that are plagued with dreams of something sweet
Beyond all sweetness in a life so rich,--
Ah, blessd Lord, I speak too earthlywise,
Seeing I never strayed beyond the cell,
But live like an old badger in his earth,
With earth about him everywhere, despite
All fast and penance. Saw ye none beside,
None of your knights?'
`Yea so,' said Percivale:
`One night my pathway swerving east, I saw
The pelican on the casque of our Sir Bors
All in the middle of the rising moon:
And toward him spurred, and hailed him, and he me,
And each made joy of either; then he asked,
"Where is he? hast thou seen him--Lancelot?--Once,"
Said good Sir Bors, "he dashed across me--mad,
And maddening what he rode: and when I cried,
`Ridest thou then so hotly on a quest
So holy,' Lancelot shouted, `Stay me not!
I have been the sluggard, and I ride apace,
For now there is a lion in the way.'
`Then Sir Bors had ridden on
Softly, and sorrowing for our Lancelot,
Because his former madness, once the talk
And scandal of our table, had returned;
For Lancelot's kith and kin so worship him
That ill to him is ill to them; to Bors
Beyond the rest: he well had been content
Not to have seen, so Lancelot might have seen,
The Holy Cup of healing; and, indeed,
Being so clouded with his grief and love,
Small heart was his after the Holy Quest:
If God would send the vision, well: if not,
The Quest and he were in the hands of Heaven.
`And then, with small adventure met, Sir Bors
Rode to the lonest tract of all the realm,
And found a people there among their crags,
Our race and blood, a remnant that were left
Paynim amid their circles, and the stones
They pitch up straight to heaven: and their wise men
Were strong in that old magic which can trace
The wandering of the stars, and scoffed at him
And this high Quest as at a simple thing:
Told him he followed--almost Arthur's words--
A mocking fire: "what other fire than he,
Whereby the blood beats, and the blossom blows,
And the sea rolls, and all the world is warmed?"
And when his answer chafed them, the rough crowd,
Hearing he had a difference with their priests,
Seized him, and bound and plunged him into a cell
Of great piled stones; and lying bounden there
In darkness through innumerable hours
He heard the hollow-ringing heavens sweep
Over him till by miracle--what else?--
Heavy as it was, a great stone slipt and fell,
Such as no wind could move: and through the gap
Glimmered the streaming scud: then came a night
Still as the day was loud; and through the gap
The seven clear stars of Arthur's Table Round--
For, brother, so one night, because they roll
Through such a round in heaven, we named the stars,
Rejoicing in ourselves and in our King--
And these, like bright eyes of familiar friends,
In on him shone: "And then to me, to me,"
Said good Sir Bors, "beyond all hopes of mine,
Who scarce had prayed or asked it for myself--
Across the seven clear stars--O grace to me--
In colour like the fingers of a hand
Before a burning taper, the sweet Grail
Glided and past, and close upon it pealed
A sharp quick thunder." Afterwards, a maid,
Who kept our holy faith among her kin
In secret, entering, loosed and let him go.'
To whom the monk: `And I remember now
That pelican on the casque: Sir Bors it was
Who spake so low and sadly at our board;
And mighty reverent at our grace was he:
A square-set man and honest; and his eyes,
An out-door sign of all the warmth within,
Smiled with his lips--a smile beneath a cloud,
But heaven had meant it for a sunny one:
Ay, ay, Sir Bors, who else? But when ye reached
The city, found ye all your knights returned,
Or was there sooth in Arthur's prophecy,
Tell me, and what said each, and what the King?'
Then answered Percivale: `And that can I,
Brother, and truly; since the living words
Of so great men as Lancelot and our King
Pass not from door to door and out again,
But sit within the house. O, when we reached
The city, our horses stumbling as they trode
On heaps of ruin, hornless unicorns,
Cracked basilisks, and splintered cockatrices,
And shattered talbots, which had left the stones
Raw, that they fell from, brought us to the hall.
`And there sat Arthur on the das-throne,
And those that had gone out upon the Quest,
Wasted and worn, and but a tithe of them,
And those that had not, stood before the King,
Who, when he saw me, rose, and bad me hail,
Saying, "A welfare in thine eye reproves
Our fear of some disastrous chance for thee
On hill, or plain, at sea, or flooding ford.
So fierce a gale made havoc here of late
Among the strange devices of our kings;
Yea, shook this newer, stronger hall of ours,
And from the statue Merlin moulded for us
Half-wrenched a golden wing; but now--the Quest,
This vision--hast thou seen the Holy Cup,
That Joseph brought of old to Glastonbury?"
`So when I told him all thyself hast heard,
Ambrosius, and my fresh but fixt resolve
To pass away into the quiet life,
He answered not, but, sharply turning, asked
Of Gawain, "Gawain, was this Quest for thee?"
`"Nay, lord," said Gawain, "not for such as I.
Therefore I communed with a saintly man,
Who made me sure the Quest was not for me;
For I was much awearied of the Quest:
But found a silk pavilion in a field,
And merry maidens in it; and then this gale
Tore my pavilion from the tenting-pin,
And blew my merry maidens all about
With all discomfort; yea, and but for this,
My twelvemonth and a day were pleasant to me."
`He ceased; and Arthur turned to whom at first
He saw not, for Sir Bors, on entering, pushed
Athwart the throng to Lancelot, caught his hand,
Held it, and there, half-hidden by him, stood,
Until the King espied him, saying to him,
"Hail, Bors! if ever loyal man and true
Could see it, thou hast seen the Grail;" and Bors,
"Ask me not, for I may not speak of it:
I saw it;" and the tears were in his eyes.
`Then there remained but Lancelot, for the rest
Spake but of sundry perils in the storm;
Perhaps, like him of Cana in Holy Writ,
Our Arthur kept his best until the last;
"Thou, too, my Lancelot," asked the king, "my friend,
Our mightiest, hath this Quest availed for thee?"
`"Our mightiest!" answered Lancelot, with a groan;
"O King!"--and when he paused, methought I spied
A dying fire of madness in his eyes--
"O King, my friend, if friend of thine I be,
Happier are those that welter in their sin,
Swine in the mud, that cannot see for slime,
Slime of the ditch: but in me lived a sin
So strange, of such a kind, that all of pure,
Noble, and knightly in me twined and clung
Round that one sin, until the wholesome flower
And poisonous grew together, each as each,
Not to be plucked asunder; and when thy knights
Sware, I sware with them only in the hope
That could I touch or see the Holy Grail
They might be plucked asunder. Then I spake
To one most holy saint, who wept and said,
That save they could be plucked asunder, all
My quest were but in vain; to whom I vowed
That I would work according as he willed.
And forth I went, and while I yearned and strove
To tear the twain asunder in my heart,
My madness came upon me as of old,
And whipt me into waste fields far away;
There was I beaten down by little men,
Mean knights, to whom the moving of my sword
And shadow of my spear had been enow
To scare them from me once; and then I came
All in my folly to the naked shore,
Wide flats, where nothing but coarse grasses grew;
But such a blast, my King, began to blow,
So loud a blast along the shore and sea,
Ye could not hear the waters for the blast,
Though heapt in mounds and ridges all the sea
Drove like a cataract, and all the sand
Swept like a river, and the clouded heavens
Were shaken with the motion and the sound.
And blackening in the sea-foam swayed a boat,
Half-swallowed in it, anchored with a chain;
And in my madness to myself I said,
`I will embark and I will lose myself,
And in the great sea wash away my sin.'
I burst the chain, I sprang into the boat.
Seven days I drove along the dreary deep,
And with me drove the moon and all the stars;
And the wind fell, and on the seventh night
I heard the shingle grinding in the surge,
And felt the boat shock earth, and looking up,
Behold, the enchanted towers of Carbonek,
A castle like a rock upon a rock,
With chasm-like portals open to the sea,
And steps that met the breaker! there was none
Stood near it but a lion on each side
That kept the entry, and the moon was full.
Then from the boat I leapt, and up the stairs.
There drew my sword. With sudden-flaring manes
Those two great beasts rose upright like a man,
Each gript a shoulder, and I stood between;
And, when I would have smitten them, heard a voice,
`Doubt not, go forward; if thou doubt, the beasts
Will tear thee piecemeal.' Then with violence
The sword was dashed from out my hand, and fell.
And up into the sounding hall I past;
But nothing in the sounding hall I saw,
No bench nor table, painting on the wall
Or shield of knight; only the rounded moon
Through the tall oriel on the rolling sea.
But always in the quiet house I heard,
Clear as a lark, high o'er me as a lark,
A sweet voice singing in the topmost tower
To the eastward: up I climbed a thousand steps
With pain: as in a dream I seemed to climb
For ever: at the last I reached a door,
A light was in the crannies, and I heard,
`Glory and joy and honour to our Lord
And to the Holy Vessel of the Grail.'
Then in my madness I essayed the door;
It gave; and through a stormy glare, a heat
As from a seventimes-heated furnace, I,
Blasted and burnt, and blinded as I was,
With such a fierceness that I swooned away--
O, yet methought I saw the Holy Grail,
All palled in crimson samite, and around
Great angels, awful shapes, and wings and eyes.
And but for all my madness and my sin,
And then my swooning, I had sworn I saw
That which I saw; but what I saw was veiled
And covered; and this Quest was not for me."
`So speaking, and here ceasing, Lancelot left
The hall long silent, till Sir Gawain--nay,
Brother, I need not tell thee foolish words,--
A reckless and irreverent knight was he,
Now boldened by the silence of his King,--
Well, I will tell thee: "O King, my liege," he said,
"Hath Gawain failed in any quest of thine?
When have I stinted stroke in foughten field?
But as for thine, my good friend Percivale,
Thy holy nun and thou have driven men mad,
Yea, made our mightiest madder than our least.
But by mine eyes and by mine ears I swear,
I will be deafer than the blue-eyed cat,
And thrice as blind as any noonday owl,
To holy virgins in their ecstasies,
`"Deafer," said the blameless King,
"Gawain, and blinder unto holy things
Hope not to make thyself by idle vows,
Being too blind to have desire to see.
But if indeed there came a sign from heaven,
Blessd are Bors, Lancelot and Percivale,
For these have seen according to their sight.
For every fiery prophet in old times,
And all the sacred madness of the bard,
When God made music through them, could but speak
His music by the framework and the chord;
And as ye saw it ye have spoken truth.
`"Nay--but thou errest, Lancelot: never yet
Could all of true and noble in knight and man
Twine round one sin, whatever it might be,
With such a closeness, but apart there grew,
Save that he were the swine thou spakest of,
Some root of knighthood and pure nobleness;
Whereto see thou, that it may bear its flower.
`"And spake I not too truly, O my knights?
Was I too dark a prophet when I said
To those who went upon the Holy Quest,
That most of them would follow wandering fires,
Lost in the quagmire?--lost to me and gone,
And left me gazing at a barren board,
And a lean Order--scarce returned a tithe--
And out of those to whom the vision came
My greatest hardly will believe he saw;
Another hath beheld it afar off,
And leaving human wrongs to right themselves,
Cares but to pass into the silent life.
And one hath had the vision face to face,
And now his chair desires him here in vain,
However they may crown him otherwhere.
`"And some among you held, that if the King
Had seen the sight he would have sworn the vow:
Not easily, seeing that the King must guard
That which he rules, and is but as the hind
To whom a space of land is given to plow.
Who may not wander from the allotted field
Before his work be done; but, being done,
Let visions of the night or of the day
Come, as they will; and many a time they come,
Until this earth he walks on seems not earth,
This light that strikes his eyeball is not light,
This air that smites his forehead is not air
But vision--yea, his very hand and foot--
In moments when he feels he cannot die,
And knows himself no vision to himself,
Nor the high God a vision, nor that One
Who rose again: ye have seen what ye have seen."
`So spake the King: I knew not all he meant.'
Paint body art beautiful
her majesty the hand
with nail graffiti polish
pain in henna red
paint in henna black
paint paint my heart
paint body art faithful
faithful to the strokes
paint in strokes divine
paint in strokes of red
paint in strokes of black
paint paint my heart
Sweet birth……Sweet home
Dropped in you in eighty one
Tudun-Murtala thou art my birth home
So sweet so solace a home
The home is so serene
In thee I still live
Thou scent fragrance
Thou art beautiful to my eye
Sweet birth……Sweet home
May I die in thee
And my tomb build in thee
And no one can disturb me
Thou art so solace a home
From The Spanish Of Placido
Enough of love! Let break its every hold!
Ended my youthful folly! for I know
That, like the dazzling, glister-shedding snow,
Celia, thou art beautiful, but cold.
I do not find in thee that warmth which glows,
Which, all these dreary days, my heart has sought,
That warmth without which love is lifeless, naught
More than a painted fruit, a waxen rose.
Such love as thine, scarce can it bear love's name,
Deaf to the pleading notes of his sweet lyre,
A frank, impulsive heart I wish to claim,
A heart that blindly follows its desire.
I wish to embrace a woman full of flame,
I want to kiss a woman made of fire.
Hymn Of The Sun
Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of the sun,
Oh living God,
When thou rises in the eastern horizon
Thou fillest every land with thy beauty
Thou art beautiful, great, glittering, high above every land
And thou carriest them all away captive;
Thou bindest by your love
Though you are far away
The roster are crowing
And the people are getting ready to start the new day
When the sun is shining we are all happy
It put happiness in our lives
The sun illuminates the sky
It is a big ball of fire
Bigger than a soccer ball
The sun is perfect in the sky
White and pure, white and perfect
Radiant is the sun, to perfect to be hold, giver of light and life
Your light is like a memory, a dream that fills the eyes, be they open, Be they close
In the morning, you are new, in the evening old
Born in the morning, you deliver the sun, to the world also
We glorify you
We praise you
We worship you
There is no other like you
The First Canzone Of The Convito
From The Italian Of Dante
Ye who intelligent the Third Heaven move,
Hear the discourse which is within my heart,
Which cannot be declared, it seems so new.
The Heaven whose course follows your power and art,
Oh, gentle creatures that ye are! me drew,
And therefore may I dare to speak to you,
Even of the life which now I live--and yet
I pray that ye will hear me when I cry,
And tell of mine own heart this novelty;
How the lamenting Spirit moans in it, 10
And how a voice there murmurs against her
Who came on the refulgence of your sphere.
A sweet Thought, which was once the life within
This heavy heart, man a time and oft
Went up before our Father’s feet, and there
It saw a glorious Lady throned aloft;
And its sweet talk of her my soul did win,
So that I said, ‘Thither I too will fare.’
That Thought is fled, and one doth now appear
Which tyrannizes me with such fierce stress,
That my heart trembles--ye may see it leap--
And on another Lady bids me keep
Mine eyes, and says--Who would have blessedness
Let him but look upon that Lady’s eyes,
Let him not fear the agony of sighs.
This lowly Thought, which once would talk with me
Of a bright seraph sitting crowned on high,
Found such a cruel foe it died, and so
My Spirit wept, the grief is hot even now--
And said, Alas for me! how swift could flee
That piteous Thought which did my life console!
And the afflicted one ... questioning
Mine eyes, if such a Lady saw they never,
And why they would...
I said: ‘Beneath those eyes might stand for ever
He whom ... regards must kill with...
To have known their power stood me in little stead,
Those eyes have looked on me, and I am dead.’
‘Thou art not dead, but thou hast wandered,
Thou Soul of ours, who thyself dost fret,’
A Spirit of gentle Love beside me said;
For that fair Lady, whom thou dost regret,
Hath so transformed the life which thou hast led,
Thou scornest it, so worthless art thou made.
And see how meek, how pitiful, how staid,
Yet courteous, in her majesty she is.
And still call thou her Woman in thy thought;
Her whom, if thou thyself deceivest not,
Thou wilt behold decked with such loveliness,
That thou wilt cry [Love] only Lord, lo! here
Thy handmaiden, do what thou wilt with her.
My song, I fear that thou wilt find but few
Who fitly shall conceive thy reasoning
Of such hard matter dost thou entertain.
Whence, if by misadventure chance should bring
Thee to base company, as chance may do,
Quite unaware of what thou dost contain,
I prithee comfort thy sweet self again,
My last delight; tell them that they are dull,
And bid them own that thou art beautiful.
Written At Sea
What is my quarrel with thee, beautiful sea,
That thus I cannot love thy waves or thee,
Or hear thy voice but it tormenteth me?
Why do I hate thee, who art beautiful
Beyond all beauty, when the nights are cool,
And the stars fade because the moon is full?
Why do I hate thee? Thou art new and young,
And life is thine for loving, and thy tongue
Hath tones that I have known and loved and sung.
Thou hast a smile which would my smiling greet;
Thy brave heart beateth as my own doth beat,
And thou hast tears which should be true and sweet.
Thou art a creature, strong and fair and brave,
Such as I might have given the world to have
And love and cherish;--and thou art my slave.
I have my home in thee. Thy arms enfold
Me all night long, and I am rocked and rolled,
And thou art never weary of thy hold.
Thou art a woman in thy constancy,
And worthy better love than mine could be;
And yet, behold, I cannot suffer thee.
If thou wert dumb; if thou wert like the sky,
Which has not learned to speak our misery
In any voice less rude than the wind's cry;
If thou wert wholly young and didst not know
The secret of our ancient human woe,
Or if thou knewest it wholly as I know;
Or yet if thou wert old with all these years;
If thou wert dull to hopes and loves and fears;
If thou wert blind and couldst not see our tears;
If thou wert bounded by some rocky shore,
And hadst not given thyself thus wholly o'er
To our poor single selves with all thy store;
If thou wert not in thy immensity,
A single circle circling with the sky,
Where we must still be centres changelessly;
If thou wert other than thou art; alas,
If thou wert not of water, but a mass
Of formless earth, a waveless plain of grass;
If thou wert shapeless as the mountains are;
If thou wert clad in some discordant wear;
If thou wert not so blue and trim and fair;
If thou wert decked with towns and villages;
If there was heard, across the silent seas,
The music of church bells upon the breeze;
If thou wert this; or if thou wert not near,
But I could only sit apart and hear
The beating of thy waves, and find it drear,
But wild and quite unknown, and far from me;
Sea, if thou couldst no longer be the sea,
Then I could love thee as thou lovest me.
If thou wouldst have me love thee, beautiful sea,
Build up a wall of dark 'twixt thee and me;
Let me not see thee; call the night to thee.
League with the winds; rise up, and send them driven
To roll mad clouds about thy back at even.
Make thee a desolation of the heaven.
Thou shouldst compel me, with thy angry voice,
To choose 'twixt death and thee; and, at the choice,
If my cheek grew not pale, thou might'st rejoice,
And I might love thee, oh thou monstrous sea;
But now I cannot love thy waves or thee,
Or bear thy beauty in my misery.
Ode To The Moon
Mother of light! how fairly dost thou go
Over those hoary crests, divinely led!—
Art thou that huntress of the silver bow,
Fabled of old? Or rather dost thou tread
Those cloudy summits thence to gaze below,
Like the wild Chamois from her Alpine snow,
Where hunter never climb'd,—secure from dread?
How many antique fancies have I read
Of that mild presence! and how many wrought!
Wondrous and bright,
Upon the silver light,
Chasing fair figures with the artist, Thought!
What art thou like?—Sometimes I see thee ride
A far-bound galley on its perilous way,
Whilst breezy waves toss up their silvery spray;—
Sometimes behold thee glide,
Cluster'd by all thy family of stars,
Like a lone widow, through the welkin wide,
Whose pallid cheek the midnight sorrow mars;—
Sometimes I watch thee on from steep to steep,
Timidly lighted by thy vestal torch,
Till in some Latmian cave I see thee creep,
To catch the young Endymion asleep,—
Leaving thy splendor at the jagged porch!—
Oh, thou art beautiful, howe'er it be!
Huntress, or Dian, or whatever named;
And he, the veriest Pagan, that first framed
A silver idol, and ne'er worshipp'd thee!—
It is too late—or thou should'st have my knee—
Too late now for the old Ephesian vows,
And not divine the crescent on thy brows!—
Yet, call thee nothing but the mere mild Moon,
Behind those chestnut boughs,
Casting their dappled shadows at my feet;
I will be grateful for that simple boon,
In many a thoughtful verse and anthem sweet,
And bless thy dainty face when'er we meet.
In nights far gone,—ay, far away and dead,—
Before Care-fretted, with a lidless eye,—
I was thy wooer on my little bed,
Letting the early hours of rest go by,
To see thee flood the heaven with milky light,
And feed thy snow-white swans, before I slept;
For thou wert then purveyor of my dreams,—
Thou wert the fairies' armourer, that kept
Their burnish'd helms, and crowns, and corslets bright,
Their spears, and glittering mails;
And ever thou didst spill in winding streams
Sparkles and midnight gleams,
For fishes to new gloss their ardent scales!—
Why sighs?—why creeping tears?—why clasped hands?—
Is it to count the boy's expended dow'r?
That fairies since have broke their gifted wands?
That young Delight, like any o'erblown flower,
Gave, one by one, its sweet leaves to the ground?—
Why then, fair Moon, for all thou mark'st no hour,
Thou art a sadder dial to old Time
Than ever I have found
On sunny garden-plot, or moss-grown tow'r,
Motto'd with stern and melancholy rhyme.
Why should I grieve for this?—Oh I must yearn
Whilst Time, conspirator with Memory,
Keeps his cold ashes in an ancient urn,
Richly emboss'd with childhood's revelry,
With leaves and cluster'd fruits, and flow'rs eterne,—
(Eternal to the world, though not to me),
Aye there will those brave sports and blossoms be,
The deathless wreath, and undecay'd festoon,
When I am hearsed within,—
Less than the pallid primrose to the Moon,
That now she watches through a vapor thin.
So let it be:—Before I lived to sigh,
Thou wert in Avon, and a thousand rills,
Beautiful Orb! and so, whene'er I lie
Trodden, thou wilt be gazing from thy hills.
Blest be thy loving light, where'er it spills,
And blessëd thy fair face, O Mother mild!
Still shine, the soul of rivers as they run,
Still lend thy lonely lamp to lovers fond,
And blend their plighted shadows into one:—
Still smile at even on the bedded child,
And close his eyelids with thy silver wand!
To Italy (1818)
My country, I the walls, the arches see,
The columns, statues, and the towers
Deserted, of our ancestors;
But, ah, the glory I do not behold,
The laurel and the sword, that graced
Our sires of old.
Now, all unarmed, a naked brow,
A naked breast dost thou display.
Ah, me, how many wounds, what stains of blood!
Oh, what a sight art thou,
Most beautiful of women! I
To heaven cry aloud, and to the world:
'Who hath reduced her to this pass?
Say, say!' And worst of all, alas,
See, both her arms in chains are bound!
With hair dishevelled, and without a veil
She sits, disconsolate, upon the ground,
And hides her face between her knees,
As she bewails her miseries.
Oh, weep, my Italy, for thou hast cause;
Thou, who wast born the nations to subdue,
As victor, and as victim, too!
Oh, if thy eyes two living fountains were,
The volume of their tears could ne'er express
Thy utter helplessness, thy shame;
Thou, who wast once the haughty dame,
And, now, the wretched slave.
Who speaks, or writes of thee,
That must not bitterly exclaim:
'She once was great, but, oh, behold her now'?
Why hast thou fallen thus, oh, why?
Where is the ancient force?
Where are the arms, the valor, constancy?
Who hath deprived thee of thy sword?
What treachery, what skill, what labor vast,
Or what o'erwhelming horde
Whose fierce, invading tide, thou could'st not stem,
Hath robbed thee of thy robe and diadem?
From such a height how couldst thou fall so low?
Will none defend thee? No?
No son of thine? For arms, for arms, I call;
Alone I'll fight for thee, alone will fall.
And from my blood, a votive offering,
May flames of fire in every bosom spring!
Where are thy sons? The sound of arms I hear,
Of chariots, of voices, and of drums;
From foreign lands it comes,
For which thy children fight.
Oh, hearken, hearken, Italy! I see,--
Or is it but a dream?--
A wavering of horse and foot,
And smoke, and dust, and flashing swords,
That like the lightning gleam.
Art thou not comforted? Dost turn away
Thy eyes, in horror, from the doubtful fray?
Ye gods, ye gods. Oh, can it be?
The youth of Italy
Their hireling swords for other lands have bared!
Oh, wretched he in war who falls,
Not for his native shores,
His loving wife and children dear,
But, fighting for another's gain,
And by another's foe is slain!
Nor can he say, as his last breath he draws,
'My mother-land, beloved, ah see,
The life thou gav'st, I render back to thee!'
Oh fortunate and dear and blessed,
The ancient days, when rushed to death the brave,
In crowds, their country's life to save!
And you, forever glorious,
Where Persia, Fate itself, could not withstand
The fiery zeal of that devoted band!
Do not the trees, the rocks, the waves,
The mountains, to each passer-by,
With low and plaintive voice tell
The wondrous tale of those who fell,
Heroes invincible who gave
Their lives, their Greece to save?
Then cowardly as fierce,
Xerxes across the Hellespont retired,
A laughing-stock to all succeeding time;
And up Anthela's hill, where, e'en in death
The sacred Band immortal life obtained,
Simonides slow-climbing, thoughtfully,
Looked forth on sea and shore and sky.
And then, his cheeks with tears bedewed,
And heaving breast, and trembling foot, he stood,
His lyre in hand and sang:
'O ye, forever blessed,
Who bared your breasts unto the foeman's lance,
For love of her, who gave you birth;
By Greece revered, and by the world admired,
What ardent love your youthful minds inspired,
To rush to arms, such perils dire to meet,
A fate so hard, with loving smiles to greet?
Her children, why so joyously,
Ran ye, that stern and rugged pass to guard?
As if unto a dance,
Or to some splendid feast,
Each one appeared to haste,
And not grim death Death to brave;
But Tartarus awaited ye,
And the cold Stygian wave;
Nor were your wives or children at your side,
When, on that rugged shore,
Without a kiss, without a tear, ye died.
But not without a fearful blow
To Persians dealt, and their undying shame.
As at a herd of bulls a lion glares,
Then, plunging in, upon the back
Of this one leaps, and with his claws
A passage all along his chine he tears,
And fiercely drives his teeth into his sides,
Such havoc Grecian wrath and valor made
Amongst the Persian ranks, dismayed.
Behold each prostrate rider and his steed;
Behold the chariots, and the fallen tents,
A tangled mass their flight impede;
And see, among the first to fly,
The tyrant, pale, and in disorder wild!
See, how the Grecian youths,
With blood barbaric dyed,
And dealing death on every side,
By slow degrees by their own wounds subdued,
The one upon the other fall. Farewell,
Ye heroes blessed, whose names shall live,
While tongue can speak, or pen your story tell!
Sooner the stars, torn from their spheres, shall hiss,
Extinguished in the bottom of the sea,
Than the dear memory, and love of you,
Shall suffer loss, or injury.
Your tomb an altar is; the mothers here
Shall come, unto their little ones to show
The lovely traces of your blood. Behold,
Ye blessed, myself upon the ground I throw,
And kiss these stones, these clods
Whose fame, unto the end of time,
Shall sacred be in every clime.
Oh, had I, too, been here with you,
And this dear earth had moistened with my blood!
But since stern Fate would not consent
That I for Greece my dying eyes should close,
In conflict with her foes,
Still may the gracious gods accept
The offering I bring,
And grant to me the precious boon,
Your Hymn of Praise to sing!'
The Birth of The War-God (Canto Fourth ) - Rati's Lament
Sad, solitary, helpless, faint, forlorn,
Woke Káma's darling from her swoon to mourn.
Too soon her gentle soul returned to know
The pangs of widowhood—that word of woe.
Scarce could she raise her, trembling, from the ground,
Scarce dared to bend her anxious gaze around,
Unconscious yet those greedy eyes should never
Feed on his beauty more—gone, gone for ever.
'Speak to me, Káma! why so silent? give
One word in answer—doth my Káma live?'
There on the turf his dumb cold ashes lay,
Whose soul that fiery flash had scorched away.
She clasped the dank earth in her wild despair,
Her bosom stained, and rent her long bright hair,
Till hill and valley caught the mourner's cry,
And pitying breezes echoed sigh for sigh.
'Oh thou wast beautiful: fond lovers sware
Their own bright darlings were like Káma, fair.
Sure woman's heart is stony: can it be
That I still live while this is all of thee?
Where art thou, Káma? Could my dearest leave
His own fond Rati here alone to grieve?
So must the sad forsaken lotus die
When her bright river leaves his channel dry.
Káma, dear Káma, call again to mind
How thou wast ever gentle, I was kind.
Let not my prayer, thy Rati's prayer, be vain;
Come as of old, and bless these eyes again!
Wilt thou not hear me? Think of those sweet hours
When I would bind thee with my zone of flowers,
Those soft gay fetters o'er thee fondly wreathing,
Thine only punishment when gently breathing
In tones of love thy heedless sigh betrayed
The name, dear traitor! of some rival maid.
Then would I pluck a floweret from my tress
And beat thee till I forced thee to confess,
While in my play the falling leaves would cover
The eyes—the bright eyes—of my captive lover.
And then those words that made me, oh, so blest—
'Dear love, thy home is in my faithful breast!'
Alas, sweet words, too blissful to be true,
Or how couldst thou have died, nor Rati perish too?
Yes, I will fly to thee, of thee bereft,
And leave this world which thou, my life, hast left.
Cold, gloomy, now this wretched world must be,
For all its pleasures came from only thee.
When night has veiled the city in its shade,
Thou, only thou, canst soothe the wandering maid,
And guide her trembling at the thunder's roar
Safe through the darkness to her lover's door.
In vain the wine-cup, as it circles by,
Lisps in her tongue and sparkles in her eye.
Long locks are streaming, and the cheek glows red:
But all is mockery, Love—dear Love—is dead.
The Moon, sweet spirit, shall lament for thee,
Late, dim, and joyless shall his rising be.
Days shall fly on, and he forget to take
His full bright glory, mourning for thy sake.
Say, Káma, say, whose arrow now shall be
The soft green shoot of thy dear mango tree,
The favourite spray which Köils love so well,
And praise in sweetest strain its wondrous spell?
This line of bees which strings thy useless bow
Hums mournful echo to my cries of woe.
Come in thy lovely shape and teach again
The Köil's mate, that knows the tender strain,
Her gentle task to waft to longing ears
The lover's hope, the distant lover's fears.
Come, bring once more that ecstasy of bliss,
The fond dear look, the smile, and ah! that kiss!
Fainting with woe, my soul refuses rest
When memory pictures how I have been blest.
See, thou didst weave a garland, love, to deck
With all spring's fairest buds thy Rati's neck.
Sweet are those flowers as they were culled to-day,
And is my Káma's form more frail than they?
His pleasant task my lover had begun,
But stern Gods took him ere the work was done;
Return, my Káma, at thy Rati's cry,
And stain this foot which waits the rosy dye.
Now will I hie me to the fatal pile,
And ere heaven's maids have hailed thee with a smile,
Or on my love their winning glances thrown,
I will be there, and claim thee for mine own.
Yet though I come, my lasting shame will be
That I have lived one moment after thee.
Ah, how shall I thy funeral rites prepare,
Gone soul and body to the viewless air?
'With thy dear Spring I've seen thee talk and smile,
Shaping an arrow for thy bow the while.
Where is he now, thy darling friend, the giver
Of many a bright sweet arrow for thy quiver?
Is he too sent upon death's dreary path,
Scorched by the cruel God's inexorable wrath?'
Stricken in spirit by her cries of woe,
Like venomed arrows from a mighty bow,
A moment fled, and gentle Spring was there,
To ask her grief, to soothe her wild despair.
She beat her breast more wildly than before,
With greater floods her weeping eyes ran o'er.
When friends are nigh the spirit finds relief
In the full gushing torrent of its grief.
'Turn, gentle friend, thy weeping eyes, and see
That dear companion who was all to me.
His crumbling dust with which the breezes play,
Bearing it idly in their course away,
White as the silver feathers of a dove,
Is all that's left me of my murdered love.
Now come, my Káma. Spring, who was so dear,
Longs to behold thee. Oh, appear, appear!
Fickle to women Love perchance may bend
His ear to listen to a faithful friend.
Remember, he walked ever at thy side
O'er bloomy meadows in the warm spring-tide,
That Gods above, and men, and fiends below
Should own the empire of thy mighty bow,
That ruthless bow, which pierces to the heart,
Strung with a lotus-thread, a flower its dart.
As dies a torch when winds sweep roughly by,
So is my light for ever fled, and I,
The lamp his cheering rays no more illume,
Am wrapt in darkness, misery and gloom.
Fate took my love, and spared the widow's breath,
Yet fate is guilty of a double death.
When the wild monster tramples on the ground
The tree some creeper garlands closely round,
Reft of the guardian which it thought so true,
Forlorn and withered, it must perish too.
Then come, dear friend, the true one's pile prepare,
And send me quickly to my husband there.
Call it not vain: the mourning lotus dies
When the bright Moon, her lover, quits the skies.
When sinks the red cloud in the purple west,
Still clings his bride, the lightning, to his breast.
All nature keeps the eternal high decree:
Shall woman fail? I come, my love, to thee!
Now on the pile my faint limbs will I throw,
Clasping his ashes, lovely even so,—
As if beneath my weary frame were spread
Soft leaves and blossoms for a flowery bed.
And oh, dear comrade (for in happier hours
Oft have I heaped a pleasant bed of flowers
For thee and him beneath the spreading tree),
Now quickly raise the pile for Love and me.
And in thy mercy gentle breezes send
To fan the flame that wafts away thy friend,
And shorten the sad moments that divide
Impatient Káma from his Rati's side;
Set water near us in a single urn,
We'll sip in heaven from the same in turn;
And let thine offering to his spirit be
Sprays fresh and lovely from the mango tree,
Culled when the round young buds begin to swell,
For Káma loved those fragrant blossoms well.'
As Rati thus complained in faithful love,
A heavenly voice breathed round her from above,
Falling in pity like the gentle rain
That brings the dying herbs to life again:
'Bride of the flower-armed God, thy lord shall be
Not ever distant, ever deaf to thee.
Give me thine ear, sad lady, I will tell
Why perished Káma, whom thou lovedst well.
The Lord of Life in every troubled sense
Too warmly felt his fair child's influence.
He quenched the fire, but mighty vengeance came
On Káma, fanner of the unholy flame.
When Śiva by her penance won has led
Himálaya's daughter to her bridal bed,
His bliss to Káma shall the God repay,
And give again the form he snatched away.
Thus did the gracious God, at Justice' prayer,
The term of Love's sad punishment declare.
The Gods, like clouds, are fierce and gentle too,
Now hurl the bolt, now dropp sweet heavenly dew.
Live, widowed lady, for thy lover's arms
Shall clasp again—oh, fondly clasp—thy charms.
In summer-heat the streamlet dies away
Beneath the fury of the God of Day:
Then, in due season, comes the pleasant rain,
And all is fresh, and fair, and full again.'
Thus breathed the spirit from the viewless air,
And stilled the raging of her wild despair;
While Spring consoled with every soothing art,
Cheered by that voice from heaven, the mourner's heart,
Who watched away the hours, so sad and slow,
That brought the limit of her weary woe,
As the pale moon, quenched by the conquering light
Of garish day, longs for its own dear night.
The White Doe Of Rylstone, Or, The Fate Of The Nortons - Canto Second
THE Harp in lowliness obeyed;
And first we sang of the greenwood shade
And a solitary Maid;
Beginning, where the song must end,
With her, and with her sylvan Friend;
The Friend who stood before her sight,
Her only unextinguished light;
Her last companion in a dearth
Of love, upon a hopeless earth.
For She it was--this Maid, who wrought
Meekly, with foreboding thought,
In vermeil colours and in gold
An unblest work; which, standing by,
Her Father did with joy behold,--
Exulting in its imagery;
A Banner, fashioned to fulfil
Too perfectly his headstrong will:
For on this Banner had her hand
Embroidered (such her Sire's command)
The sacred Cross; and figured there
The five dear wounds our Lord did bear;
Full soon to be uplifted high,
And float in rueful company!
It was the time when England's Queen
Twelve years had reigned, a Sovereign dread;
Nor yet the restless crown had been
Disturbed upon her virgin head;
But now the inly-working North
Was ripe to send its thousands forth,
A potent vassalage, to fight
In Percy's and in Neville's right,
Two Earls fast leagued in discontent,
Who gave their wishes open vent;
And boldly urged a general plea,
The rites of ancient piety
To be triumphantly restored,
By the stern justice of the sword!
And that same Banner, on whose breast
The blameless Lady had exprest
Memorials chosen to give life
And sunshine to a dangerous strife;
That Banner, waiting for the Call,
Stood quietly in Rylstone-hall.
It came; and Francis Norton said,
'O Father! rise not in this fray--
The hairs are white upon your head;
Dear Father, hear me when I say
It is for you too late a day!
Bethink you of your own good name:
A just and gracious Queen have we,
A pure religion, and the claim
Of peace on our humanity.--
'Tis meet that I endure your scorn;
I am your son, your eldest born;
But not for lordship or for land,
My Father, do I clasp your knees;
The Banner touch not, stay your hand,
This multitude of men disband,
And live at home in blameless ease;
For these my brethren's sake, for me;
And, most of all, for Emily!'
Tumultuous noises filled the hall;
And scarcely could the Father hear
That name--pronounced with a dying fall--
The name of his only Daughter dear,
As on the banner which stood near
He glanced a look of holy pride,
And his moist eyes were glorified;
Then did he seize the staff, and say:
'Thou, Richard, bear'st thy father's name,
Keep thou this ensign till the day
When I of thee require the same:
Thy place be on my better hand;--
And seven as true as thou, I see,
Will cleave to this good cause and me.'
He spake, and eight brave sons straightway
All followed him, a gallant band!
Thus, with his sons, when forth he came
The sight was hailed with loud acclaim
And din of arms and minstrelsy,
From all his warlike tenantry,
All horsed and harnessed with him to ride,--
A voice to which the hills replied!
But Francis, in the vacant hall,
Stood silent under dreary weight,--
A phantasm, in which roof and wall
Shook, tottered, swam before his sight;
A phantasm like a dream of night!
Thus overwhelmed, and desolate,
He found his way to a postern-gate;
And, when he waked, his languid eye
Was on the calm and silent sky;
With air about him breathing sweet,
And earth's green grass beneath his feet;
Nor did he fail ere long to hear
A sound of military cheer,
Faint--but it reached that sheltered spot;
He heard, and it disturbed him not.
There stood he, leaning on a lance
Which he had grasped unknowingly,
Had blindly grasped in that strong trance,
That dimness of heart-agony;
There stood he, cleansed from the despair
And sorrow of his fruitless prayer.
The past he calmly hath reviewed:
But where will be the fortitude
Of this brave man, when he shall see
That Form beneath the spreading tree,
And know that it is Emily?
He saw her where in open view
She sate beneath the spreading yew--
Her head upon her lap, concealing
In solitude her bitter feeling:
'Might ever son 'command' a sire,
The act were justified to-day.'
This to himself--and to the Maid,
Whom now he had approached, he said--
'Gone are they,--they have their desire;
And I with thee one hour will stay,
To give thee comfort if I may.'
She heard, but looked not up, nor spake;
And sorrow moved him to partake
Her silence; then his thoughts turned round,
And fervent words a passage found.
'Gone are they, bravely, though misled;
With a dear Father at their head!
The Sons obey a natural lord;
The Father had given solemn word
To noble Percy; and a force
Still stronger, bends him to his course.
This said, our tears to-day may fall
As at an innocent funeral.
In deep and awful channel runs
This sympathy of Sire and Sons;
Untried our Brothers have been loved
With heart by simple nature moved;
And now their faithfulness is proved:
For faithful we must call them, bearing
That soul of conscientious daring.
--There were they all in circle--there
Stood Richard, Ambrose, Christopher,
John with a sword that will not fail,
And Marmaduke in fearless mail,
And those bright Twins were side by side;
And there, by fresh hopes beautified,
Stood He, whose arm yet lacks the power
Of man, our youngest, fairest flower!
I, by the right of eldest born,
And in a second father's place,
Presumed to grapple with their scorn,
And meet their pity face to face;
Yea, trusting in God's holy aid,
I to my Father knelt and prayed;
And one, the pensive Marmaduke,
Methought, was yielding inwardly,
And would have laid his purpose by,
But for a glance of his Father's eye,
Which I myself could scarcely brook.
Then be we, each and all, forgiven!
Thou, chiefly thou, my Sister dear,
Whose pangs are registered in heaven--
The stifled sigh, the hidden tear,
And smiles, that dared to take their place,
Meek filial smiles, upon thy face,
As that unhallowed Banner grew
Beneath a loving old Man's view.
Thy part is done--thy painful part;
Be thou then satisfied in heart!
A further, though far easier, task
Than thine hath been, my duties ask;
With theirs my efforts cannot blend,
I cannot for such cause contend;
Their aims I utterly forswear;
But I in body will be there.
Unarmed and naked will I go,
Be at their side, come weal or woe:
On kind occasions I may wait,
See, hear, obstruct, or mitigate.
Bare breast I take and an empty hand.'--
Therewith he threw away the lance,
Which he had grasped in that strong trance,
Spurned it, like something that would stand
Between him and the pure intent
Of love on which his soul was bent.
'For thee, for thee, is left the sense
Of trial past without offence
To God or man; such innocence,
Such consolation, and the excess
Of an unmerited distress;
In that thy very strength must lie.
--O Sister, I could prophesy!
The time is come that rings the knell
Of all we loved, and loved so well:
Hope nothing, if I thus may speak
To thee, a woman, and thence weak:
Hope nothing, I repeat; for we
Are doomed to perish utterly:
'Tis meet that thou with me divide
The thought while I am by thy side,
Acknowledging a grace in this,
A comfort in the dark abyss.
But look not for me when I am gone,
And be no farther wrought upon:
Farewell all wishes, all debate,
All prayers for this cause, or for that!
Weep, if that aid thee; but depend
Upon no help of outward friend;
Espouse thy doom at once, and cleave
To fortitude without reprieve.
For we must fall, both we and ours--
This Mansion and these pleasant bowers,
Walks, pools, and arbours, homestead, hall--
Our fate is theirs, will reach them all;
The young horse must forsake his manger,
And learn to glory in a Stranger;
The hawk forget his perch; the hound
Be parted from his ancient ground:
The blast will sweep us all away--
One desolation, one decay!
And even this Creature!' which words saying,
He pointed to a lovely Doe,
A few steps distant, feeding, straying;
Fair creature, and more white than snow!
'Even she will to her peaceful woods
Return, and to her murmuring floods,
And be in heart and soul the same
She was before she hither came;
Ere she had learned to love us all,
Herself beloved in Rylstone-hall.
--But thou, my Sister, doomed to be
The last leaf on a blasted tree;
If not in vain we breathed the breath
Together of a purer faith;
If hand in hand we have been led,
And thou, (O happy thought this day
Not seldom foremost in the way;
If on one thought our minds have fed,
And we have in one meaning read;
If, when at home our private weal
Hath suffered from the shock of zeal,
Together we have learned to prize
Forbearance and self-sacrifice;
If we like combatants have fared,
And for this issue been prepared;
If thou art beautiful, and youth
And thought endue thee with all truth--
Be strong;--be worthy of the grace
Of God, and fill thy destined place:
A Soul, by force of sorrows high,
Uplifted to the purest sky
Of undisturbed humanity!'
He ended,--or she heard no more;
He led her from the yew-tree shade,
And at the mansion's silent door,
He kissed the consecrated Maid;
And down the valley then pursued,
Alone, the armed Multitude.
RHAICOS was born amid the hills wherefrom
Gnidos the light of Caria is discern’d
And small are the white-crested that play near,
And smaller onward are the purple waves.
Thence festal choirs were visible, all crown’d
With rose and myrtle if they were inborn;
If from Pandion sprang they, on the coast
Where stern Athenè rais’d her citadel,
Then olive was entwin’d with violets
Cluster’d in bosses, regular and large;
For various men wore various coronals,
But one was their devotion; ’t was to her
Whose laws all follow, her whose smile withdraws
The sword from Ares, thunderbolt from Zeus,
And whom in his chill caves the mutable
Of mind, Poseidon, the sea-king, reveres,
And whom his brother, stubborn Dis, hath pray’d
To turn in pity the averted cheek
Of her he bore away, with promises,
Nay, with loud oath before dread Styx itself,
To give her daily more and sweeter flowers
Than he made drop from her on Enna’s dell.
Rhaicos was looking from his father’s door
At the long trains that hasten’d to the town
From all the valleys, like bright rivulets
Gurgling with gladness, wave outrunning wave,
And thought it hard he might not also go
And offer up one prayer, and press one hand,
He knew not whose. The father call’d him in
And said, “Son Rhaicos! those are idle games;
Long enough I have liv’d to find them so.”
And ere he ended, sigh’d; as old men do
Always, to think how idle such games are.
“I have not yet,” thought Rhaicos in his heart,
And wanted proof.
“Suppose thou go and help
Echion at the hill, to bark yon oak
And lop its branches off, before we delve
About the trunk and ply the root with axe:
This we may do in winter.”
For thence he could see farther, and see more
Of those who hurried to the city-gate.
Echion he found there, with naked arm
Swart-hair’d, strong-sinew’d, and his eyes intent
Upon the place where first the axe should fall:
He held it upright. “There are bees about,
Or wasps, or hornets,” said the cautious eld,
“Look sharp, O son of Thallinos!” The youth
Inclin’d his ear, afar, and warily,
And cavern’d in his hand. He heard a buzz
At first, and then the sound grew soft and clear,
And then divided into what seem’d tune,
And there were words upon it, plaintive words.
He turn’d, and said, “Echion! do not strike
That tree: it must be hollow; for some god
Speaks from within. Come thyself near.” Again
Both turn’d toward it: and behold! there sat
Upon the moss below, with her two palms
Pressing it, on each side, a maid in form.
Downcast were her long eyelashes, and pale
Her cheek, but never mountain-ash display’d
Berries of color like her lip so pure,
Nor were the anemones about her hair
Soft, smooth, and wavering like the face beneath.
“What dost thou here?” Echion, half-afraid,
Half-angry, cried. She lifted up her eyes,
But nothing spake she. Rhaicos drew one step
Backward, for fear came likewise over him,
But not such fear: he panted, gasp’d drew in 70
His breath, and would have turn’d it into words,
But could not into one.
“O send away
That sad old man!” said she. The old man went
Without a warning from his master’s son,
Glad to escape, for sorely he now fear’d
And the axe shone behind him in their eyes.
Hamad. And wouldst thou too shed the most innocent
Of blood? No vow demands it; no god wills
The oak to bleed.
Rhaicos. Who art thou? whence? why here?
And whither wouldst thou go? Among the rob’d
In white or saffron, or the hue that most
Resembles dawn or the clear sky, is none
Array’d as thou art. What so beautiful
As that gray robe which clings about thee close,
Like moss to stones adhering, leaves to trees,
Yet lets thy bosom rise and fall in turn,
As, touch’d by zephyrs, fall and rise the boughs
Of graceful platan by the river-side?
Hamad. Lovest thou well thy father’s house?
I love it, well I love it, yet would leave
For thine, where’er it be, my father’s house,
With all the marks upon the door, that show
My growth at every birthday since the third,
And all the charms, o’erpowering evil eyes,
My mother nail’d for me against my bed,
And the Cydonian bow (which thou shalt see)
Won in my race last spring from Eutychos.
Hamad. Bethink thee what it is to leave a home
Thou never yet hast left, one night, one day.
Rhaicos. No, ’t is not hard to leave it: ’t is not hard
To leave, O maiden, that paternal home
If there be one on earth whom we may love
First, last, for ever; one who says that she
Will love for ever too. To say which word,
Only to say it, surely is enough.
It shows such kindness—if ’t were possible
We at the moment think she would indeed.
Hamad. Who taught thee all this folly at thy age?
Rhaicos. I have seen lovers and have learn’d to love.
Hamad. But wilt thou spare the tree?
Rhaicos. My father wants
The bark; the tree may hold its place awhile.
Hamad. Awhile? thy father numbers then my days?
Rhaicos. Are there no others where the moss beneath
Is quite as tufty? Who would send thee forth
Or ask thee why thou tarriest? Is thy flock
Hamad. I have no flock: I kill
Nothing that breathes, that stirs, that feels the air,
The sun, the dew. Why should the beautiful
(And thou art beautiful) disturb the source
Whence springs all beauty? Hast thou never heard
Rhaicos. Heard of them I have:
Tell me some tale about them. May I sit
Beside thy feet? Art thou not tired? The herbs
Are very soft; I will not come too nigh;
Do but sit there, nor tremble so, nor doubt.
Stay, stay an instant: let me first explore
If any acorn of last year be left
Within it; thy thin robe too ill protects
Thy dainty limbs against the harm one small
Acorn may do. Here ’s none. Another day
Trust me; till then let me sit opposite.
Hamad. I seat me; be thou seated, and content.
Rhaicos. O sight for gods! ye men below! adore
The Aphroditè! Is she there below?
Or sits she here before me? as she sate
Before the shepherd on those heights that shade
The Hellespont, and brought his kindred woe.
Hamad. Reverence the higher Powers; nor deem amiss
Of her who pleads to thee, and would repay—
Ask not how much—but very much. Rise not:
No, Rhaicos, no! Without the nuptial vow
Love is unholy. Swear to me that none
Of mortal maids shall ever taste thy kiss,
Then take thou mine; then take it, not before.
Rhaicos. Hearken, all gods above! O Aphroditè!
O Herè! Let my vow be ratified!
But wilt thou come into my father’s house?
Hamad. Nay: and of mine I cannot give thee part.
Rhaicos. Where is it?
Hamad. In this oak.
Rhaicos. Ay; now begins
The tale of Hamadryad: tell it through.
Hamad. Pray of thy father never to cut down
My tree; and promise him, as well thou mayst,
That every year he shall receive from me
More honey than will buy him nine fat sheep,
More wax than he will burn to all the gods.
Why fallest thou upon thy face? Some thorn
May scratch it, rash young man! Rise up; for shame!
Rhaicos. For shame I cannot rise. O pity me!
I dare not sue for love—but do not hate!
Let me once more behold thee—not once more,
But many days: let me love on—unlov’d!
I aim’d too high: on my own head the bolt
Falls back, and pierces to the very brain.
Hamad. Go—rather go, than make me say I love.
Rhaicos. If happiness is immortality,
(And whence enjoy it else the gods above?)
I am immortal too: my vow is heard—
Hark! on the left—Nay, turn not from me now,
I claim my kiss.
Hamad. Do men take first, then claim?
Do thus the seasons run their course with them?
Her lips were seal’d; her head sank on his breast.
’T is said that laughs were heard within the wood:
But who should hear them? and whose laughs? and why?
Savory was the smell and long past noon,
Thallinos! in thy house; for marjoram,
Basil and mint, and thyme and rosemary,
Were sprinkled on the kid’s well roasted length,
A waiting Rhaicos. Home he came at last,
Not hungry, but pretending hunger keen,
With head and eyes just o’er the maple plate.
“Thou see’st but badly, coming from the sun,
Boy Rhaicos!” said the father. “That oak’s bark
Must have been tough, with little sap between;
It ought to run; but it and I are old.”
Rhaicos, although each morsel of the bread
Increas’d by chewing, and the meat grew cold
And tasteless to his palate, took a draught
Of gold-bright wine, which, thirsty as he was,
He thought not of, until his father fill’d
The cup, averring water was amiss,
But wine had been at all times pour’d on kid.
It was religion.
He thus fortified
Said, not quite boldly, and not quite abash’d,
“Father, that oak is Zeus’s own; that oak
Year after year will bring thee wealth from wax
And honey. There is one who fears the gods
And the gods love—that one”
(He blush’d, nor said
“Has promis’d this, and may do more.
Thou hast not many moons to wait until
The bees have done their best; if then there come
Nor wax nor honey, let the tree be hewn.”
“Zeus hath bestow’d on thee a prudent mind,”
Said the glad sire: “but look thou often there,
And gather all the honey thou canst find
In every crevice, over and above
What has been promis’d; would they reckon that?”
Rhaicos went daily; but the nymph as oft,
Invisible. To play at love, she knew,
Stopping its breathings when it breathes most soft,
Is sweeter than to play on any pipe.
She play’d on his: she fed upon his sighs;
They pleas’d her when they gently wav’d her hair,
Cooling the pulses of her purple veins,
And when her absence brought them out, they pleas’d.
Even among the fondest of them all,
What mortal or immortal maid is more
Content with giving happiness than pain?
One day he was returning from the wood
Despondently. She pitied him, and said
“Come back!” and twin’d her fingers in the hem
Above his shoulder. Then she led his steps
To a cool rill that ran o’er level sand
Through lentisk and through oleander; there
Bath’d she his feet, lifting them on her lap
When bath’d, and drying them in both her hands.
He dar’d complain; for those who most are lov’d
Most dare it; but not harsh was his complaint.
“O thou inconstant!” said he, “if stern law
Bind thee, or will, stronger than sternest law,
O, let me know henceforward when to hope
The fruit of love that grows for me but here.”
He spake; and pluck’d it from its pliant stem.
“Impatient Rhaicos! Why thus intercept
The answer I would give? There is a bee
Whom I have fed, a bee who knows my thoughts
And executes my wishes: I will send
That messenger. If ever thou art false,
Drawn by another, own it not, but drive
My bee away: then shall I know my fate,
And—for thou must be wretched—weep at thine.
But often as my heart persuades to lay
Its cares on thine and throb itself to rest,
Expect her with thee, whether it be morn
Or eve, at any time when woods are safe.”
Day after day the Hours beheld them blest,
And season after season: years had past,
Blest were they still. He who asserts that Love
Ever is sated of sweet things, the same
Sweet things he fretted for in earlier days,
Never, by Zeus! lov’d he a Hamadryad.
The nights had now grown longer, and perhaps
The Hamadryads find them lone and dull
Among their woods; one did, alas! She call’d
Her faithful bee: ’t was when all bees should sleep,
And all did sleep but hers. She was sent forth
To bring that light which never wintry blast
Blows out, nor rain nor snow extinguishes,
The light that shines from loving eyes upon
Eyes that love back, till they can see no more.
Rhaicos was sitting at his father’s hearth:
Between them stood the table, not o’er-spread
With fruits which autumn now profusely bore,
Nor anise cakes, nor odorous wine; but there
The draft-board was expanded; at which game
Triumphant sat old Thallinos; the son
Was puzzled, vex’d, discomfited, distraught.
A buzz was at his ear: up went his hand
And it was heard no longer. The poor bee
Return’d (but not until the morn shone bright)
And found the Hamadryad with her head
Upon her aching wrist, and show’d one wing
Half-broken off, the other’s meshes marr’d,
And there were bruises which no eye could see
Saving a Hamadryad’s.
At this sight
Down fell the languid brow, both hands fell down,
A shriek was carried to the ancient hall
Of Thallinos: he heard it not: his son
Heard it, and ran forthwith into the wood.
No bark was on the tree, no leaf was green,
The trunk was riven through. From that day forth
Nor word nor whisper sooth’d his ear, nor sound
Even of insect wing; but loud laments
The woodmen and the shepherds one long year
Heard day and night; for Rhaicos would not quit
The solitary place, but moan’d and died.
Hence milk and honey wonder not, O guest,
To find set duly on the hollow stone.
The Song of Songs
The Bride and the Daughters of Jerusalem
The Song of songs, which is Solomon's.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:
for thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savor of thy good ointments
thy name is as ointment poured forth,
therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee:
the King hath brought me into his chambers:
we will be glad and rejoice in thee,
we will remember thy love more than wine:
the upright love thee.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
as the tents of Kedar,
as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black,
because the sun hath looked upon me:
my mother's children were angry with me;
they made me the keeper of the vineyards;
but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest,
where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon:
for why should I be as one that turneth aside
by the flocks of thy companions?
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women,
go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock,
and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
The Bride and the Bridegroom
I have compared thee, O my love,
to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels,
thy neck with chains of gold.
We will make thee borders of gold
with studs of silver.
While the King sitteth at his table,
my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me;
he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire
in the vineyards of Enge'di.
Behold, thou art fair, my love;
behold, thou art fair;
thou hast doves' eyes.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant:
also our bed is green.
The beams of our house are cedar,
and our rafters of fir.
I am the rose of Sharon,
and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down under his shadow with great delight,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons,
comfort me with apples:
for I am sick of love.
His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
till he please.
The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he cometh
leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart:
behold, he standeth behind our wall,
he looketh forth at the windows,
showing himself through the lattice.
My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
the fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance,
let me hear thy voice;
for sweet is thy voice,
and thy countenance is comely.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines:
for our vines have tender grapes.
My beloved is mine, and I am his:
he feedeth among the lilies.
Until the day break,
and the shadows flee away,
turn, my beloved,
and be thou like a roe or a young hart
upon the mountains of Bether.
The Bride's Reverie
By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now, and go about the city
in the streets, and in the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me:
to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
It was but a little that I passed from them,
but I found him whom my soul loveth:
I held him, and would not let him go,
until I had brought him into my mother's house,
and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
till he please.
The Wedding Procession
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
with all powders of the merchant?
Behold his bed, which is Solomon's;
threescore valiant men are about it,
of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords,
being expert in war:
every man hath his sword upon his thigh
because of fear in the night.
King Solomon made himself a chariot
of the wood of Lebanon.
He made the pillars thereof of silver,
the bottom thereof of gold,
the covering of it of purple,
the midst thereof being paved with love,
for the daughters of Jerusalem.
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon
with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him
in the day of his espousals,
and in the day of the gladness of his heart.
The Bridegroom Praises the Bride
Behold, thou art fair, my love;
behold, thou art fair;
thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks:
thy hair is as a flock of goats,
that appear from mount Gil'e-ad.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn,
which came up from the washing;
whereof every one bear twins,
and none is barren among them.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,
and thy speech is comely:
thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory,
whereon there hang a thousand bucklers,
all shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins,
which feed among the lilies.
Until the day break,
and the shadows flee away,
I will get me to the mountain of myrrh,
and to the hill of frankincense.
Thou art all fair, my love;
there is no spot in thee.
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse,
with me from Lebanon:
look from the top of Ama'na,
from the top of Shenir and Hermon,
from the lions' dens,
from the mountains of the leopards.
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse;
thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes,
with one chain of thy neck.
How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse!
How much better is thy love than wine!
and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb:
honey and milk are under thy tongue;
and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse;
a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits;
camphire, with spikenard,
spikenard and saffron;
calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense;
myrrh and aloes,
with all the chief spices:
a fountain of gardens,
a well of living waters,
and streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind;
and come, thou south;
blow upon my garden,
that the spices thereof may flow out.
Let my beloved come into his garden,
and eat his pleasant fruits.
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse:
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends; drink,
yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
The Distress of Separation
I sleep, but my heart waketh:
it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying,
Open to me, my sister, my love,
my dove, my undefiled:
for my head is filled with dew,
and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat;
how shall I put it on?
I have washed my feet;
how shall I defile them?
My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door,
and my bowels were moved for him.
I rose up to open to my beloved;
and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh,
upon the handles of the lock.
I opened to my beloved;
but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone:
my soul failed when he spake:
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.
The watchmen that went about the city found me,
they smote me, they wounded me;
the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him,
that I am sick of love.
The Bride Praises the Bridegroom
What is thy beloved more than another beloved,
O thou fairest among women?
What is thy beloved more than another beloved,
that thou dost so charge us?
My beloved is white and ruddy,
the chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the most fine gold;
his locks are bushy, and black as a raven:
his eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters,
washed with milk, and fitly set:
his cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers:
his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh:
his hands are as gold rings set with the beryl:
his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires:
his legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold:
his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars:
his mouth is most sweet:
yea, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.
The Mutual Delight of the Bride and Bridegroom
Whither is thy beloved gone,
O thou fairest among women?
Whither is thy beloved turned aside?
that we may seek him with thee.
My beloved is gone down into his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to feed in the gardens,
and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved's,
and my beloved is mine:
he feedeth among the lilies.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah,
comely as Jerusalem,
terrible as an army with banners.
Turn away thine eyes from me,
for they have overcome me:
thy hair is as a flock of goats
that appear from Gil'e-ad:
thy teeth are as a flock of sheep
which go up from the washing,
whereof every one beareth twins,
and there is not one barren among them.
As a piece of a pomegranate
are thy temples within thy locks.
There are threescore queens,
and fourscore concubines,
and virgins without number.
My dove, my undefiled is but one;
she is the only one of her mother,
she is the choice one of her that bare her.
The daughters saw her, and blessed her;
yea, the queens and the concubines,
and they praised her.
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning,
fair as the moon, clear as the sun,
and terrible as an army with banners?
I went down into the garden of nuts
to see the fruits of the valley,
and to see whether the vine flourished,
and the pomegranates budded.
Or ever I was aware,
my soul made me like the chariots of Ammin'adib.
Return, return, O Shu'lamite;
return, return, that we may look upon thee.
What will ye see in the Shu'lamite?
As it were the company of two armies.
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter!
The joints of thy thighs are like jewels,
the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor:
thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory;
thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon,
by the gate of Bath–rab'bim:
thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon
which looketh toward Damascus.
Thine head upon thee is like Carmel,
and the hair of thine head like purple;
the King is held in the galleries.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
This thy stature is like to a palm tree,
and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
I said, I will go up to the palm tree,
I will take hold of the boughs thereof:
now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine,
and the smell of thy nose like apples;
and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved,
that goeth down sweetly,
causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.
I am my beloved's,
and his desire is toward me.
Come, my beloved,
let us go forth into the field;
let us lodge in the villages.
Let us get up early to the vineyards;
let us see if the vine flourish,
whether the tender grape appear,
and the pomegranates bud forth:
there will I give thee my loves.
The mandrakes give a smell,
and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old,
which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.
O that thou wert as my brother,
that sucked the breasts of my mother!
When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee;
yea, I should not be despised.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house,
who would instruct me:
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine
of the juice of my pomegranate.
His left hand should be under my head,
and his right hand should embrace me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
until he please.
Love Is Strong as Death
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved?
I raised thee up under the apple tree:
there thy mother brought thee forth;
there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart,
as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death;
jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire,
which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it:
if a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
it would utterly be contemned.
We have a little sister,
and she hath no breasts:
what shall we do for our sister
in the day when she shall be spoken for?
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver:
and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers:
then was I in his eyes as one that found favor.
Solomon had a vineyard at Ba'al–ha'mon;
he let out the vineyard unto keepers;
every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me:
thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand,
and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens,
the companions hearken to thy voice:
cause me to hear it.
Make haste, my beloved,
and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart
upon the mountains of spices.
Thou burden of all songs the earth hath sung,
Thou retrospect in Time's reverted eyes,
Thou metaphor of everything that dies,
That dies ill-starred, or dies beloved and young
And therefore blest and wise,-
O be less beautiful, or be less brief,
Thou tragic splendour, strange, and full of fear!
In vain her pageant shall the Summer rear?
At thy mute signal, leaf by golden leaf,
Crumbles the gorgeous year.
Ah, ghostly as remembered mirth, the tale
Of Summer's bloom, the legend of the Spring!
And thou, too, flutterest an impatient wing,
Thou presence yet more fugitive and frail,
Thou most unbodied thing,
Whose very being is thy going hence,
And passage and departure all thy theme;
Whose life doth still a splendid dying seem,
And thou at height of thy magnificence
A figment and a dream.
Stilled is the virgin rapture that was June,
And cold is August's panting heart of fire;
And in the storm-dismantled forest-choir
For thine own elegy thy winds attune
Their wild and wizard lyre:
And poignant grows the charm of thy decay,
The pathos of thy beauty, and the sting,
Thou parable of greatness vanishing!
For me, thy woods of gold and skies of grey
With speech fantastic ring.
For me, to dreams resigned, there come and go,
'Twixt mountains draped and hooded night and morn,
Elusive notes in wandering wafture borne,
From undiscoverable lips that blow
An immaterial horn;
And spectral seem thy winter-boding trees,
Thy ruinous bowers and drifted foliage wet-
Past and Future in sad bridal met,
O voice of everything that perishes,
And soul of all regret!
Chained to the years by the measureless wrong of man,
Here I hang, here I suffer, here I cry,
Since the light sprang forth from the dark, and the day began;
Since the sky was sundered and saved from the sea,
And the mouth of the beast was warm on the breast of the sod,
And the bird's feed glimmered like rings on the blossoming tree,
And the rivers ran silver with scales, and the earth was thronged
With creatures lovely and sane and wild and free;
Till the Image of God arose from the dust and trod
Woman and beast and bird into slavery.
Who has wronged me? Man who all earth has wronged:
Who has mocked me? Man, who made mock of God.
CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.
Nay, what do you seek?
If of men we be chained,
Our chains be of gold,
If the fetters we break
What conquest is gained?
Shall a hill-top out-spread a pavilion more safe than our palace hold?
Without toil, we are fed,
We have gold to our hire,
We have kings at out thrall,
And made smooth is our bed
For the fools of desire.
We falter the world with our eyelids, at our laughter men scatter and fall.
What is freedom but danger,
And death, and disaster?
We are safe: Fool, to crave
The unknown, the stranger!
More fettered the back than the burden; man bows; he is slave to a slave!
Yes, in most bitter waters have they drowned
My spirit, And my soul grows grey on sleep!
What if with wreaths my empty hands are bound?
I am slave for all their roses, and I keep
A tryst with cunning, and a troth with tears.
Time has kissed out my lips, and I am dumb.
I am so long called fool, I am become
That fool-of street or shrine. By body bears
Burden of men and children. I have been
All that man has desired or dreamed of me.
I have trodden a double-weary way-with Sin,
Or with Sin's pale, cold sister Chastity.
I am a thing of twilight. I am afraid.
Dull now and tame now; of myself so shamed.
Fortressed against redemption; visited
Of the old dream so seldom, as things tamed
forget the life that their wild brother leads.
I am a hurt beast flinching at the light.
I have been palaced from sun, and night
Runs in my blood, and all night's blushless deeds!
CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.
Oh world so blind, so dumb to our desiring,--
To the vague cry and clamour of our being!
Oh world so dark to our supreme aspiring,--
To the pitiful strange travail of our freeing!--
We weary not for love and lips to love us;
These have been ours too often and too long;
We have been hived too close; too sweet above us
Tastes the bees mouth to our honey-wearied tongue.
Not love, not love! Love was our first undoing,
We have lived too long on heart-beats. None can tame
The mind's new hunger, famished and pursuing,
Unleashed, and crying its oppressor's name.
All that the world could give man's mind inherits:
Two paths were set us. Baffled, weeping, yearning,
Tossed between God and man, rebellious spirits,
We wandered, now escaped and unreturning.
We are arming, waking, terribly unfolding,
The spent world shudders in a new creation,
A dread and pitiless flowering beholding,
Burst from the dark root of our long frustration!
Did God but build this temple for desire
That man defraud my birthright with a kiss?
Did he not give me a spirit to aspire
Beyond man's fortress and necessities?
Man chains the thing he fears, who fears the free;
No wildest beast was tamed as I was tamed,
No prey has been so tracked, no flesh so shamed;
Man hunts no quarry as he hunted me.
Of all the things created, one alone
Rose from the earth his equal; only the might
Of his brute strength could bid my soul renounce
Its claim-forswear its just, predestined right.
To what poor shape of folly am I grown,
In whom God breathed an equal spirit once!
CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.
Oh sheltering arms that have bound you,
Oh hearts you have shaped to your will!
The lordliest lovers have crowned you,
They have knelt as they kneel to you still.
Why speak you so ill of such lovers,
Why question the will of such lords?
From your lips, from your laughter, Love offers
The world on a litter off swords,
They have borne for you death and disasters,
They have held you with kingdoms at stake.
The kings of the earth and the masters
Were poets and fools for your sake!
Was I made free for all their swords and songs?
Do fairest songs sung to caged birds sound sweet?
Did their spears hold the door whence came my wrongs?
Did they sing my spirit and the hurt of it?
There was no battle for my freedom's sake;
They never sang pity of me. Not those
Who laud it cage the eagle: not those who break
The delicate stem most deeply love the rose.
If we have taken the path towards the hills
They have noosed our feet, they have kenneled us again.
If we have dared for separate minds and wills,
We have marched to men's laughter, and the mock of men.
Oh lords, if you be strong why fear to raise
Our groping, pitiful bodies from the dust?
If you were pre-ordained to shape our ways,
Why has your power shaped that way so ill?
Only the hireling master wreaks his will
On slaves, lest rulers they become at last,
And his poor hour of pride is waned and passed:
The rightful lord never fears to be just.
CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.
Stars, you run your course unchidden;
Sun, the sky puts forth no hand
To constrain you; unforbidden
Clouds in aëry harness stand;
And unchallenged comes the moon up, right and slow upon the land.
Dew, no shadow moves behind you
To avert your glittering;
Wind, your race is undenied you;
Lightning, you have room to spring!
For the great, free hand of Nature gives sweet leave to everything.
One great law controls their being,--
To their utmost bids them rise;
From the snowdrop, her bell freeing,
To the bow that leaps the skies;
For the universal order of the world in freedom lies.
But one lies here lost and driven
From the free primeval way,
From the rights that she was given,
That she asks of man to-day;
For her soul has faced her masters, and her spirit stands at bay.
I am the Last Begotten. I am the Rose
Flung for the bed of kings. I am the Cause
Of this world's ills, its follies and its woes;
I am the unclean, the carnal, I make men pause
From God. I am Sex, and ll vain bodily Lust
That men desire and spit on, and would not lose
For the bride of Heaven. I am the little Dust
Blown from their bitter mouths. I am the Way
of death. I am the soiled and spotted One
Bidden in silence to the Church's feast;
Yea, of all bitterest foes, the crafty priest
Is mine; no hand has flung a crueler stone;
Of all oppressors him I most accuse.
I m the Fool that led the world astray,
My motherhood the fruits of my first sin.
I am the Slave to whom sick masters pray.
I am the Mother. I am Magdalen.
I am the Dæmon, I drink at dead men's lips.
My grail is blood at midnight. I am burned
In which craft. I am the Weal of the world's whips.
No age has risen that has not seen me scorned.
I am the Harlot, the Accursed Thing, the Prey;
Bartered for bread; like cattle willed away;
Sold at the shambles. I am the Chastity
Men breed for spoiling. I am the soul at bay.
I am what men have made and marred of me.
CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.
Oh, behold, oh, beware,
Andromeda! . . .
A wing on the air,
A step on the sands!
Oh be silent lest he
Who is master prepare,
As of old at your plea,
A new chain for your hands.
Oh, behold, oh, beware,
She hears not, her cries
Still tremble the air.
O sands, set a snare
For him. Merciful skies,
Uncradle your mist!
O crag, beak your breast
In murdering stone!
O lightning, untwist
Your fang from the cloud!
O winds, shriek aloud
Till the sea heave and groan,
And unlock its white thunder
Till its legions be hurled,
And the beach quakes thereunder . . .
Oh, Fool of the World!
(PERSEUS appears on the sands near ANDROMEDA.)
Who crieth with a cry long heard of me?
The rebel spirit of woman that would be free.
How is she named whose wild lips so crave?
This is the World's Fool. This is the Slave.
Who has wronged her?
The ancient spirit of man.
Long was she chained?
Since the world began.
Who are her masters?
The lords of pride and lust.
Whence comes she?
Where goes she?
CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.
Is he fooled by her hair,
Is he tranced by her eyes,
That he draweth him near,
That he speaketh him wise? . . .
He has spoken again,
He has taken her hands,
He has loosened her chain,
Unfettered she stands!
Stand there! Behold the new, uncharted day-
Not as a fool made sweet for fools to kiss;
Not as a saint to whom sick masters pray;
no more the sad shell singing of men's lust;
No more the sum of priest's pale sophistries;
But as men stand, unchallenged, equal, free,
Each path to take and every race to run.
Stand forth, O shining equal in the sun!
Unfold, unspring, outblossomfrom the dust,
O divinist playfellow even as we!
Where is he who chained me? I am weak.
I crouch still, whom the years forbade to stand.
The chain is still remembered on my neck,
There are the marks of slaves still in this hand.
No more shall he who chained you forge that chain;
He has looked upon Medusa, and has seen
What he has made of woman. To him turned
Is the last face (who shall never see again)
With its hissing, furious hair, the eyelids burned
With the eye's hate, slime where the lips have been,
That tumbled death upon him like a stone;
And in your name Medusa smiled and spurned
A dying face more dreadful than her own.
The shackled feet of centuries cannot keep
Pace yet with feet that have outstripped the world.
For the maimed even the riven way is steep.
I am so strange to greatness, I am hurled
Unsceptered to my glory! I am now
Almost what you have called me, as things take
The colour of names men give them; as things grow
Fierce if dubbed fierce, and weak if branded weak,
And fools if given no name but foolishness.
I have been branded fool in life and art,--
Always a little lower, always the less,
Until the intolerable prompting has grown part
Of all I do; my labouring brain and heart
By that self-doubt are shadowed and undone.
Let me walk long beside you in the sun,
Race, wrestle with you, grow wise and swift and strong.
For I shall speak but foolish words at first W
ho was hindered of wisdom since the world began.
I shall blunder and be so wayward who was nursed
On fear and folly by the laws of man.
You shall not be less sweet that you are wise,
And not less beautiful that you are strong.
I shall not see the scorn leap in your eyes?
Your wisdom will not make my weakness wrong?
To the freed soul of woman I make my vow!
Hand in hand we will walk in the sunrise now,
No more implacable foes, but face to face,
As masters of the world, and it shall be
Under an equal law, with equal grace-
A world where life is proud and sane and free.
Life must be borne. Together let us bear it!
There is no other answer to the vexed,
Sad problem of the world.
Together, free of spirit,
Of body free, one minded, equal sexed.
I claim of man a thousand centuries!
Shall one poor decade serve to make me wise
When men have knelt so long at wisdom's knees?
Till the last day grows dim to the last eyes!
Let us go forth. Comrade and friend at last.
Comrade and friend! For me a new day lies,
Splendid and strange. For you the night is passed.
CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.
They rise, they go forth, foot by foot, hand in hand.
He goes not before, nor she after; together they stand.
He is no less though she be the more. Thus they meet,
Long sundered, whom life made for union, now at rest, now complete.
They are separate and free, they are woven and one,
And the world has grown quiet; between them the battle is done.
For this is the dream, the ideal, the designate plan,
So slow of fulfillment, so sure, God's prevision of man.
Shared burden, shared wonder, shared vision and strife:
In their fellowship only is found the perfection, of life.
From what clear wells of wonder
Upspringing and upspringing,
From what rock cleft asunder
Leaps this stream cool and bright?
What secret joy thereunder
Its heart in ceaseless music upon the lyre of light?
To what high aëry choiring
This hour her way is winging,
Her dewey troth to plight?
This golden hour aspiring
Above the glad bells ringing,
More sweet than sweet bird's music, more fleet than fleet bird's flight?
What joy and hope here clinging,
With gentle fingers twining,
In wrapt and mystic rite?
What love unblind is bringing
Two mortals swift and shining,
With faces to the morning, with footsteps from the night?
Once in the world’s first prime,
When nothing lived or stirred,
Nothing but new-born Time,
Nor was there even a bird –
The Silence spoke to a Star,
But do not dare repeat
What it said to its love afar:
It was too sweet, too sweet.
But there, in the fair world’s youth,
Ere sorrow had drawn breath,
When nothing was known but Truth,
Nor was there even death,
The Star to Silence wed,
And the Sun was priest that day,
And they made their bridal-bed
High in the Milky Way.
For the great white star had heard
Her silent lover’s speech;
It needed no passionate word
To pledge them each to each.
O lady fair and far,
Hear, oh, hear, and apply!
Thou the beautiful Star –
The voiceless silence, I.
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream
The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.
Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man--
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem'd
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask'd thee, "Give me immortality."
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men who care not how they give.
But thy strong Hours indignant work'd their wills,
And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me,
And tho' they could not end me, left me maim'd
To dwell in presence of immortal youth,
Immortal age beside immortal youth,
And all I was in ashes. Can thy love
Thy beauty, make amends, tho' even now,
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide,
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears
To hear me? Let me go: take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men,
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?
A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From any pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew'd.
Thy cheek begins to redden thro' the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosen'd manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.
Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
In silence, then before thine answer given
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek.
Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
"The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts."
Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
In days far-off, and with what other eyes
I used to watch if I be he that watch'd
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings;
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood
Glow with the glow that slowly crimson'd all
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay,
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss'd
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
While Ilion like a mist rose into towers.
Yet hold me not for ever in thine East;
How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
Of happy men that have the power to die,
And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.