A Tailor who sailed from Quebec,
In a storm ventur'd once upon deck,
But the waves of the sea,
Were as strong as could be,
And he tumbled in up to his neck.
The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
The man who sailed around his soul
From east to west, from pole to pole
With ego as his drunken captain
Greed, the mutineer, had trapped all reason in the hold
The man who walked across his heart
Who took no compass, guide or chart
To rope and tar his blood congealed
When he found his self revealed ugly and cold
And the sirens that sing
By your nose with its ring
Theyll drag you in
For your sins
Now he sits all alone
And its no place like home
Its empty skin
A bag to keep lifes souvenirs in
The man who sailed around his soul
The man who sailed around his soul
The man who sailed around his soul
Came back again to find a hole
Where once he thought compassion and the truth
Had laid to warm his freezing carcass on return
The man who walked across his heart
Was doomed to journey from the start
Of every love affair hed broken
All the lies hed ever spoken
Tattooed on his arm
And the jellyfish stings
Even angels with wings
Who look too deep
And dare to peep
Now he sits all alone
Knowing flesh blood and bone
He found the treasure hed been seeking
The man who sailed around his soul
- quotes about frost
- quotes about walking
- quotes about men
- quotes about life
- quotes about nose
- quotes about travel
- quotes about peace
- quotes about blood
- quotes about worry
And There Were Those Who Sailed East
yes we learned later that there were those
who sailed towards the east
and they became our forefathers
before they died they left their voices
on the mouths of the waves
and gentle as they are
they settled permanently
on the shores of the earth
there were those who stayed
on nipa huts and wrote their books
on bamboo shoots and they
thought that all these would be lost
after the whites have fulfilled their
conquest. But they were wrong.
some found a way to survive on
the lips of their mouths
words handed from one child's palm
to another and we found them
transported by the winds of their times
from one meadow to another
their treasures now embedded
in the tattoos of our oily brown skins.
- quotes about white
- quotes about voice
- quotes about books
- quotes about brown
- quotes about wind
- quotes about death
- quotes about childhood
- quotes about school
- quotes about Earth
The Child and the Mariner
A dear old couple my grandparents were,
And kind to all dumb things; they saw in Heaven
The lamb that Jesus petted when a child;
Their faith was never draped by Doubt: to them
Death was a rainbow in Eternity,
That promised everlasting brightness soon.
An old seafaring man was he; a rough
Old man, but kind; and hairy, like the nut
Full of sweet milk. All day on shore he watched
The winds for sailors' wives, and told what ships
Enjoyed fair weather, and what ships had storms;
He watched the sky, and he could tell for sure
What afternoons would follow stormy morns,
If quiet nights would end wild afternoons.
He leapt away from scandal with a roar,
And if a whisper still possessed his mind,
He walked about and cursed it for a plague.
He took offence at Heaven when beggars passed,
And sternly called them back to give them help.
In this old captain's house I lived, and things
That house contained were in ships' cabins once:
Sea-shells and charts and pebbles, model ships;
Green weeds, dried fishes stuffed, and coral stalks;
Old wooden trunks with handles of spliced rope,
With copper saucers full of monies strange,
That seemed the savings of dead men, not touched
To keep them warm since their real owners died;
Strings of red beads, methought were dipped in blood,
And swinging lamps, as though the house might move;
An ivory lighthouse built on ivory rocks,
The bones of fishes and three bottled ships.
And many a thing was there which sailors make
In idle hours, when on long voyages,
Of marvellous patience, to no lovely end.
And on those charts I saw the small black dots
That were called islands, and I knew they had
Turtles and palms, and pirates' buried gold.
There came a stranger to my granddad's house,
The old man's nephew, a seafarer too;
A big, strong able man who could have walked
Twm Barlum's hill all clad in iron mail
So strong he could have made one man his club
To knock down others -- Henry was his name,
No other name was uttered by his kin.
And here he was, sooth illclad, but oh,
Thought I, what secrets of the sea are his!
This man knows coral islands in the sea,
And dusky girls heartbroken for white men;
More rich than Spain, when the Phoenicians shipped
Silver for common ballast, and they saw
Horses at silver mangers eating grain;
This man has seen the wind blow up a mermaid's hair
Which, like a golden serpent, reared and stretched
To feel the air away beyond her head.
He begged my pennies, which I gave with joy --
He will most certainly return some time
A self-made king of some new land, and rich.
Alas that he, the hero of my dreams,
Should be his people's scorn; for they had rose
To proud command of ships, whilst he had toiled
Before the mast for years, and well content;
Him they despised, and only Death could bring
A likeness in his face to show like them.
For he drank all his pay, nor went to sea
As long as ale was easy got on shore.
Now, in his last long voyage he had sailed
From Plymouth Sound to where sweet odours fan
The Cingalese at work, and then back home --
But came not near my kin till pay was spent.
He was not old, yet seemed so; for his face
Looked like the drowned man's in the morgue, when it
Has struck the wooden wharves and keels of ships.
And all his flesh was pricked with Indian ink,
His body marked as rare and delicate
As dead men struck by lightning under trees
And pictured with fine twigs and curlèd ferns;
Chains on his neck and anchors on his arms;
Rings on his fingers, bracelets on his wrist;
And on his breast the Jane of Appledore
Was schooner rigged, and in full sail at sea.
He could not whisper with his strong hoarse voice,
No more than could a horse creep quietly;
He laughed to scorn the men that muffled close
For fear of wind, till all their neck was hid,
Like Indian corn wrapped up in long green leaves;
He knew no flowers but seaweeds brown and green,
He knew no birds but those that followed ships.
Full well he knew the water-world; he heard
A grander music there than we on land,
When organ shakes a church; swore he would make
The sea his home, though it was always roused
By such wild storms as never leave Cape Horn;
Happy to hear the tempest grunt and squeal
Like pigs heard dying in a slaughterhouse.
A true-born mariner, and this his hope --
His coffin would be what his cradle was,
A boat to drown in and be sunk at sea;
Salted and iced in Neptune's larder deep.
This man despised small coasters, fishing-smacks;
He scorned those sailors who at night and morn
Can see the coast, when in their little boats
They go a six days' voyage and are back
Home with their wives for every Sabbath day.
Much did he talk of tankards of old beer,
And bottled stuff he drank in other lands,
Which was a liquid fire like Hell to gulp,
But Paradise to sip.
And so he talked;
Nor did those people listen with more awe
To Lazurus -- whom they had seen stone dead --
Than did we urchins to that seaman's voice.
He many a tale of wonder told: of where,
At Argostoli, Cephalonia's sea
Ran over the earth's lip in heavy floods;
And then again of how the strange Chinese
Conversed much as our homely Blackbirds sing.
He told us how he sailed in one old ship
Near that volcano Martinique, whose power
Shook like dry leaves the whole Caribbean seas;
And made the sun set in a sea of fire
Which only half was his; and dust was thick
On deck, and stones were pelted at the mast.
Into my greedy ears such words that sleep
Stood at my pillow half the night perplexed.
He told how isles sprang up and sank again,
Between short voyages, to his amaze;
How they did come and go, and cheated charts;
Told how a crew was cursed when one man killed
A bird that perched upon a moving barque;
And how the sea's sharp needles, firm and strong,
Ripped open the bellies of big, iron ships;
Of mighty icebergs in the Northern seas,
That haunt the far hirizon like white ghosts.
He told of waves that lift a ship so high
That birds could pass from starboard unto port
Under her dripping keel.
Oh, it was sweet
To hear that seaman tell such wondrous tales:
How deep the sea in parts, that drownèd men
Must go a long way to their graves and sink
Day after day, and wander with the tides.
He spake of his own deeds; of how he sailed
One summer's night along the Bosphorus,
And he -- who knew no music like the wash
Of waves against a ship, or wind in shrouds --
Heard then the music on that woody shore
Of nightingales,and feared to leave the deck,
He thought 'twas sailing into Paradise.
To hear these stories all we urchins placed
Our pennies in that seaman's ready hand;
Until one morn he signed on for a long cruise,
And sailed away -- we never saw him more.
Could such a man sink in the sea unknown?
Nay, he had found a land with something rich,
That kept his eyes turned inland for his life.
'A damn bad sailor and a landshark too,
No good in port or out' -- my granddad said.
The Odyssey: Book 12
"After we were clear of the river Oceanus, and had got out into
the open sea, we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where there
is dawn and sunrise as in other places. We then drew our ship on to
the sands and got out of her on to the shore, where we went to sleep
and waited till day should break.
"Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I
sent some men to Circe's house to fetch the body of Elpenor. We cut
firewood from a wood where the headland jutted out into the sea, and
after we had wept over him and lamented him we performed his funeral
rites. When his body and armour had been burned to ashes, we raised
a cairn, set a stone over it, and at the top of the cairn we fixed the
oar that he had been used to row with.
"While we were doing all this, Circe, who knew that we had got
back from the house of Hades, dressed herself and came to us as fast
as she could; and her maid servants came with her bringing us bread,
meat, and wine. Then she stood in the midst of us and said, 'You
have done a bold thing in going down alive to the house of Hades,
and you will have died twice, to other people's once; now, then,
stay here for the rest of the day, feast your fill, and go on with
your voyage at daybreak tomorrow morning. In the meantime I will
tell Ulysses about your course, and will explain everything to him
so as to prevent your suffering from misadventure either by land or
"We agreed to do as she had said, and feasted through the livelong
day to the going down of the sun, but when the sun had set and it came
on dark, the men laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables
of the ship. Then Circe took me by the hand and bade me be seated away
from the others, while she reclined by my side and asked me all
about our adventures.
"'So far so good,' said she, when I had ended my story, 'and now pay
attention to what I am about to tell you- heaven itself, indeed,
will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too
close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children
will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great
heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still
rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your
men's ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you
can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you
stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must
lash the rope's ends to the mast itself, that you may have the
pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you,
then they must bind you faster.
"'When your crew have taken you past these Sirens, I cannot give you
coherent directions as to which of two courses you are to take; I will
lay the two alternatives before you, and you must consider them for
yourself. On the one hand there are some overhanging rocks against
which the deep blue waves of Amphitrite beat with terrific fury; the
blessed gods call these rocks the Wanderers. Here not even a bird
may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father
Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father
Jove has to send another to make up their number; no ship that ever
yet came to these rocks has got away again, but the waves and
whirlwinds of fire are freighted with wreckage and with the bodies
of dead men. The only vessel that ever sailed and got through, was the
famous Argo on her way from the house of Aetes, and she too would have
gone against these great rocks, only that Juno piloted her past them
for the love she bore to Jason.
"'Of these two rocks the one reaches heaven and its peak is lost
in a dark cloud. This never leaves it, so that the top is never
clear not even in summer and early autumn. No man though he had twenty
hands and twenty feet could get a foothold on it and climb it, for
it runs sheer up, as smooth as though it had been polished. In the
middle of it there is a large cavern, looking West and turned
towards Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so
high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it.
Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be
that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no
one- not even a god- could face her without being terror-struck. She
has twelve mis-shapen feet, and six necks of the most prodigious
length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with
three rows of teeth in each, all set very close together, so that they
would crunch any one to death in a moment, and she sits deep within
her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock,
fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she can
catch, of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems. No ship ever
yet got past her without losing some men, for she shoots out all her
heads at once, and carries off a man in each mouth.
"'You will find the other rocks lie lower, but they are so close
together that there is not more than a bowshot between them. [A
large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it], and under it lies the
sucking whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she
vomit forth her waters, and three times she sucks them down again; see
that you be not there when she is sucking, for if you are, Neptune
himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive
ship by as fast as you can, for you had better lose six men than
your whole crew.'
"'Is there no way,' said I, 'of escaping Charybdis, and at the
same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?'
"'You dare-devil,' replied the goddess, you are always wanting to
fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten
even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is
savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for
it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can,
for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armour,
she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up
another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full
speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla's dam, bad
luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon
"'You will now come to the Thrinacian island, and here you will
see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep belonging to the sun-god-
seven herds of cattle and seven flocks of sheep, with fifty head in
each flock. They do not breed, nor do they become fewer in number, and
they are tended by the goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie, who are
children of the sun-god Hyperion by Neaera. Their mother when she
had borne them and had done suckling them sent them to the
Thrinacian island, which was a long way off, to live there and look
after their father's flocks and herds. If you leave these flocks
unharmed, and think of nothing but getting home, you may yet after
much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm them, then I forewarn
you of the destruction both of your ship and of your comrades; and
even though you may yourself escape, you will return late, in bad
plight, after losing all your men.'
"Here she ended, and dawn enthroned in gold began to show in heaven,
whereon she returned inland. I then went on board and told my men to
loose the ship from her moorings; so they at once got into her, took
their places, and began to smite the grey sea with their oars.
Presently the great and cunning goddess Circe befriended us with a
fair wind that blew dead aft, and stayed steadily with us, keeping our
sails well filled, so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear,
and let her go as wind and helmsman headed her.
"Then, being much troubled in mind, I said to my men, 'My friends,
it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the prophecies
that Circe has made me, I will therefore tell you about them, so
that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open. First she
said we were to keep clear of the Sirens, who sit and sing most
beautifully in a field of flowers; but she said I might hear them
myself so long as no one else did. Therefore, take me and bind me to
the crosspiece half way up the mast; bind me as I stand upright,
with a bond so fast that I cannot possibly break away, and lash the
rope's ends to the mast itself. If I beg and pray you to set me
free, then bind me more tightly still.'
"I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before we
reached the island of the two Sirens, for the wind had been very
favourable. Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm; there was not a
breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water, so the men furled the
sails and stowed them; then taking to their oars they whitened the
water with the foam they raised in rowing. Meanwhile I look a large
wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword. Then I kneaded the wax
in my strong hands till it became soft, which it soon did between
the kneading and the rays of the sun-god son of Hyperion. Then I
stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to
the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing
themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship
was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore
and began with their singing.
"'Come here,' they sang, 'renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean
name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without
staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who
listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know
all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before
Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the
"They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear
them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me
free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes
bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of
the Sirens' voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and
"Immediately after we had got past the island I saw a great wave
from which spray was rising, and I heard a loud roaring sound. The men
were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars, for the
whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters, but the ship
stayed where it was, for the men had left off rowing. I went round,
therefore, and exhorted them man by man not to lose heart.
"'My friends,' said I, 'this is not the first time that we have been
in danger, and we are in nothing like so bad a case as when the
Cyclops shut us up in his cave; nevertheless, my courage and wise
counsel saved us then, and we shall live to look back on all this as
well. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say, trust in Jove and row on
with might and main. As for you, coxswain, these are your orders;
attend to them, for the ship is in your hands; turn her head away from
these steaming rapids and hug the rock, or she will give you the
slip and be over yonder before you know where you are, and you will be
the death of us.'
"So they did as I told them; but I said nothing about the awful
monster Scylla, for I knew the men would not on rowing if I did, but
would huddle together in the hold. In one thing only did I disobey
Circe's strict instructions- I put on my armour. Then seizing two
strong spears I took my stand on the ship Is bows, for it was there
that I expected first to see the monster of the rock, who was to do my
men so much harm; but I could not make her out anywhere, though I
strained my eyes with looking the gloomy rock all over and over
"Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind, for on the one
hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Charybdis kept sucking up
the salt water. As she vomited it up, it was like the water in a
cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire, and the spray
reached the top of the rocks on either side. When she began to suck
again, we could see the water all inside whirling round and round, and
it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could
see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the
men were at their wit's ends for fear. While we were taken up with
this, and were expecting each moment to be our last, Scylla pounced
down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking
at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and
feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was
carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last
despairing cry. As a fisherman, seated, spear in hand, upon some
jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor little
fishes, and spears them with the ox's horn with which his spear is
shod, throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one by
one- even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock and
munch them up at the mouth of her den, while they screamed and
stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony. This was the
most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyages.
"When we had passed the [Wandering] rocks, with Scylla and
terrible Charybdis, we reached the noble island of the sun-god,
where were the goodly cattle and sheep belonging to the sun
Hyperion. While still at sea in my ship I could bear the cattle lowing
as they came home to the yards, and the sheep bleating. Then I
remembered what the blind Theban prophet Teiresias had told me, and
how carefully Aeaean Circe had warned me to shun the island of the
blessed sun-god. So being much troubled I said to the men, 'My men,
I know you are hard pressed, but listen while I tell you the
prophecy that Teiresias made me, and how carefully Aeaean Circe warned
me to shun the island of the blessed sun-god, for it was here, she
said, that our worst danger would lie. Head the ship, therefore,
away from the island.'
"The men were in despair at this, and Eurylochus at once gave me
an insolent answer. 'Ulysses,' said he, 'you are cruel; you are very
strong yourself and never get worn out; you seem to be made of iron,
and now, though your men are exhausted with toil and want of sleep,
you will not let them land and cook themselves a good supper upon this
island, but bid them put out to sea and go faring fruitlessly on
through the watches of the flying night. It is by night that the winds
blow hardest and do so much damage; how can we escape should one of
those sudden squalls spring up from South West or West, which so often
wreck a vessel when our lords the gods are unpropitious? Now,
therefore, let us obey the of night and prepare our supper here hard
by the ship; to-morrow morning we will go on board again and put out
"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. I saw that
heaven meant us a mischief and said, 'You force me to yield, for you
are many against one, but at any rate each one of you must take his
solemn oath that if he meet with a herd of cattle or a large flock
of sheep, he will not be so mad as to kill a single head of either,
but will be satisfied with the food that Circe has given us.'
"They all swore as I bade them, and when they had completed their
oath we made the ship fast in a harbour that was near a stream of
fresh water, and the men went ashore and cooked their suppers. As soon
as they had had enough to eat and drink, they began talking about
their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten; this set
them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a sound
"In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted their
places, Jove raised a great gale of wind that flew a hurricane so that
land and sea were covered with thick clouds, and night sprang forth
out of the heavens. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave wherein
the sea-nymphs hold their courts and dances, and I called the men
together in council.
"'My friends,' said I, 'we have meat and drink in the ship, let us
mind, therefore, and not touch the cattle, or we shall suffer for
it; for these cattle and sheep belong to the mighty sun, who sees
and gives ear to everything. And again they promised that they would
"For a whole month the wind blew steadily from the South, and
there was no other wind, but only South and East. As long as corn
and wine held out the men did not touch the cattle when they were
hungry; when, however, they had eaten all there was in the ship,
they were forced to go further afield, with hook and line, catching
birds, and taking whatever they could lay their hands on; for they
were starving. One day, therefore, I went up inland that I might
pray heaven to show me some means of getting away. When I had gone far
enough to be clear of all my men, and had found a place that was
well sheltered from the wind, I washed my hands and prayed to all
the gods in Olympus till by and by they sent me off into a sweet
"Meanwhile Eurylochus had been giving evil counsel to the men,
'Listen to me,' said he, 'my poor comrades. All deaths are bad
enough but there is none so bad as famine. Why should not we drive
in the best of these cows and offer them in sacrifice to the
immortal Rods? If we ever get back to Ithaca, we can build a fine
temple to the sun-god and enrich it with every kind of ornament; if,
however, he is determined to sink our ship out of revenge for these
homed cattle, and the other gods are of the same mind, I for one would
rather drink salt water once for all and have done with it, than be
starved to death by inches in such a desert island as this is.'
"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. Now the
cattle, so fair and goodly, were feeding not far from the ship; the
men, therefore drove in the best of them, and they all stood round
them saying their prayers, and using young oak-shoots instead of
barley-meal, for there was no barley left. When they had done
praying they killed the cows and dressed their carcasses; they cut out
the thigh bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some
pieces of raw meat on top of them. They had no wine with which to make
drink-offerings over the sacrifice while it was cooking, so they
kept pouring on a little water from time to time while the inward
meats were being grilled; then, when the thigh bones were burned and
they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small and put
the pieces upon the spits.
"By this time my deep sleep had left me, and I turned back to the
ship and to the sea shore. As I drew near I began to smell hot roast
meat, so I groaned out a prayer to the immortal gods. 'Father Jove,' I
exclaimed, 'and all you other gods who live in everlasting bliss,
you have done me a cruel mischief by the sleep into which you have
sent me; see what fine work these men of mine have been making in my
"Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we had
been killing his cows, whereon he flew into a great rage, and said
to the immortals, 'Father Jove, and all you other gods who live in
everlasting bliss, I must have vengeance on the crew of Ulysses' ship:
they have had the insolence to kill my cows, which were the one
thing I loved to look upon, whether I was going up heaven or down
again. If they do not square accounts with me about my cows, I will go
down to Hades and shine there among the dead.'
"'Sun,' said Jove, 'go on shining upon us gods and upon mankind over
the fruitful earth. I will shiver their ship into little pieces with a
bolt of white lightning as soon as they get out to sea.'
"I was told all this by Calypso, who said she had heard it from
the mouth of Mercury.
"As soon as I got down to my ship and to the sea shore I rebuked
each one of the men separately, but we could see no way out of it, for
the cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at once to
show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the cattle crawled
about, and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows, and the
meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a noise just as cows do.
"For six days my men kept driving in the best cows and feasting upon
them, but when Jove the son of Saturn had added a seventh day, the
fury of the gale abated; we therefore went on board, raised our masts,
spread sail, and put out to sea. As soon as we were well away from the
island, and could see nothing but sky and sea, the son of Saturn
raised a black cloud over our ship, and the sea grew dark beneath
it. We not get on much further, for in another moment we were caught
by a terrific squall from the West that snapped the forestays of the
mast so that it fell aft, while all the ship's gear tumbled about at
the bottom of the vessel. The mast fell upon the head of the
helmsman in the ship's stern, so that the bones of his head were
crushed to pieces, and he fell overboard as though he were diving,
with no more life left in him.
"Then Jove let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went round
and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning
struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were carried about in
the water round the ship, looking like so many sea-gulls, but the
god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home again.
"I stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from her keel
(which drifted about by itself) and struck the mast out of her in
the direction of the keel; but there was a backstay of stout
ox-thong still hanging about it, and with this I lashed the mast and
keel together, and getting astride of them was carried wherever the
winds chose to take me.
"[The gale from the West had now spent its force, and the wind got
into the South again, which frightened me lest I should be taken
back to the terrible whirlpool of Charybdis. This indeed was what
actually happened, for I was borne along by the waves all night, and
by sunrise had reacfied the rock of Scylla, and the whirlpool. She was
then sucking down the salt sea water, but I was carried aloft toward
the fig tree, which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. I
could not plant my feet anywhere so as to stand securely, for the
roots were a long way off and the boughs that overshadowed the whole
pool were too high, too vast, and too far apart for me to reach
them; so I hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge
my mast and raft again- and a very long while it seemed. A juryman
is not more glad to get home to supper, after having been long
detained in court by troublesome cases, than I was to see my raft
beginning to work its way out of the whirlpool again. At last I let go
with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the sea, bard by my raft
on to which I then got, and began to row with my hands. As for Scylla,
the father of gods and men would not let her get further sight of
me- otherwise I should have certainly been lost.]
"Hence I was carried along for nine days till on the tenth night the
gods stranded me on the Ogygian island, where dwells the great and
powerful goddess Calypso. She took me in and was kind to me, but I
need say no more about this, for I told you and your noble wife all
about it yesterday, and I hate saying the same thing over and over
Pharsalia - Book IX: Cato
Yet in those ashes on the Pharian shore,
In that small heap of dust, was not confined
So great a shade; but from the limbs half burnt
And narrow cell sprang forth and sought the sky
Where dwells the Thunderer. Black the space of air
Upreaching to the poles that bear on high
The constellations in their nightly round;
There 'twixt the orbit of the moon and earth
Abide those lofty spirits, half divine,
Who by their blameless lives and fire of soul
Are fit to tolerate the pure expanse
That bounds the lower ether: there shall dwell,
Where nor the monument encased in gold,
Nor richest incense, shall suffice to bring
The buried dead, in union with the spheres,
Pompeius' spirit. When with heavenly light
His soul was filled, first on the wandering stars
And fixed orbs he bent his wondering gaze;
Then saw what darkness veils our earthly day
And scorned the insults heaped upon his corse.
Next o'er Emathian plains he winged his flight,
And ruthless Caesar's standards, and the fleet
Tossed on the deep: in Brutus' blameless breast
Tarried awhile, and roused his angered soul
To reap the vengeance; last possessed the mind
Of haughty Cato.
He while yet the scales
Were poised and balanced, nor the war had given
The world its master, hating both the chiefs,
Had followed Magnus for the Senate's cause
And for his country: since Pharsalia's field
Ran red with carnage, now was all his heart
Bound to Pompeius. Rome in him received
Her guardian; a people's trembling limbs
He cherished with new hope and weapons gave
Back to the craven hands that cast them forth.
Nor yet for empire did he wage the war
Nor fearing slavery: nor in arms achieved
Aught for himself: freedom, since Magnus fell,
The aim of all his host. And lest the foe
In rapid course triumphant should collect
His scattered bands, he sought Corcyra's gulfs
Concealed, and thence in ships unnumbered bore
The fragments of the ruin wrought in Thrace.
Who in such mighty armament had thought
A routed army sailed upon the main
Thronging the sea with keels? Round Malea's cape
And Taenarus open to the shades below
And fair Cythera's isle, th' advancing fleet
Sweeps o'er the yielding wave, by northern breeze
Borne past the Cretan shores. But Phycus dared
Refuse her harbour, and th' avenging hand
Left her in ruins. Thus with gentle airs
They glide along the main and reach the shore
From Palinurus named; for not alone
On seas Italian, Pilot of the deep,
Hast thou thy monument; and Libya too
Claims that her waters pleased thy soul of yore.
Then in the distance on the main arose
The shining canvas of a stranger fleet,
Or friend or foe they knew not. Yet they dread
In every keel the presence of that chief
Their fear-compelling conqueror. But in truth
That navy tears and sorrow bore, and woes
To make e'en Cato weep.
For when in vain
Cornelia prayed her stepson and the crew
To stay their flight, lest haply from the shore
Back to the sea might float the headless corse;
And when the flame arising marked the place
Of that unhallowed rite, 'Fortune, didst thou
Judge me unfit,' she cried, 'to light the pyre
To cast myself upon the hero dead,
The lock to sever, and compose the limbs
Tossed by the cruel billows of the deep,
To shed a flood of tears upon his wounds,
And from the flickering flame to bear away
And place within the temples of the gods
All that I could, his dust? That pyre bestows
No honour, haply by some Pharian hand
Piled up in insult to his mighty shade.
Happy the Crassi lying on the waste
Unburied. To the greater shame of heaven
Pompeius has such funeral. And shall this
For ever be my lot? her husbands slain
Cornelia ne'er enclose within the tomb,
Nor shed the tear beside the urn that holds
The ashes of the loved? Yet for my grief
What boots or monument or ordered pomp?
Dost thou not, impious, upon thy heart
Pompeius' image, and upon thy soul
Bear ineffaceable? Dust closed in urns
Is for the wife who would survive her lord
Not such as thee, Cornelia! And yet
Yon scanty light that glimmers from afar
Upon the Pharian shore, somewhat of thee
Recalls, Pompeius! Now the flame sinks down
And smoke drifts up across the eastern sky
Bearing thine ashes, and the rising wind
Sighs hateful in the sail. To me no more
Dearer than this whatever land may yield
Pompeius' victory, nor the frequent car
That carried him in triumph to the hill;
Gone is that happy husband from my thoughts;
Here did I lose the hero whom I knew;
Here let me stay; his presence shall endear
The sands of Nile where fell the fatal blow.
Thou, Sextus, brave the chances of the war
And bear Pompeius' standard through the world.
For thus thy father spake within mine ear:
`When sounds my fatal hour let both my sons
Urge on the war; nor let some Caesar find
Room for an empire, while shall live on earth
Still one in whom Pompeius' blood shall run.
This your appointed task; all cities strong
In freedom of their own, all kingdoms urge
To join the combat; for Pompeius calls.
Nor shall a chieftain of that famous name
Ride on the seas and fail to find a fleet.
Urged by his sire's unconquerable will
And mindful of his rights, mine heir shall rouse
All nations to the conflict. One alone,
(Should he contend for freedom) may ye serve;
Cato, none else!' Thus have I kept the faith;
Thy plot prevailed upon me, and I lived
Thy mandate to discharge. Now through the void
Of space, and shades of Hell, if such there be,
I follow; yet how distant be my doom
I know not: first my spirit must endure
The punishment of life, which saw thine end
And could survive it; sighs shall break my heart,
Tears shall dissolve it: sword nor noose I need
Nor headlong plunge. 'Twere shameful since thy death,
Were aught but grief required to cause my own.'
She seeks the cabin, veiled, in funeral garb,
In tears to find her solace, and to love
Grief in her husband's room; no prayers were hers
For life, as were the sailors'; nor their shout
Roused by the height of peril, moved her soul,
Nor angered waves: but sorrowing there she lay,
Resigned to death and welcoming the storm.
First reached they Cyprus on the foamy brine;
Then as the eastern breeze more gently held
The favouring deep, they touched the Libyan shore
Where stood the camp of Cato. Sad as one
Who deep in fear presages ills to come,
Cnaeus beheld his brother and his band
Of patriot comrades. Swift into the wave
He leaps and cries, 'Where, brother, is our sire?
Still stands our country mistress of the world,
Or are we fallen, Rome with Magnus' death
Rapt to the shades?' Thus he: but Sextus said
'Oh happy thou who by report alone
Hear'st of the deed that chanced on yonder shore!
These eyes that saw, my brother, share the guilt.
Not Caesar wrought the murder of our sire,
Nor any captain worthy in the fray.
He fell beneath the orders of a king
Shameful and base, while trusting to the gods
Who shield the guest; a king who in that land
By his concession ruled: (this the reward
For favours erst bestowed). Within my sight
Pierced through with wounds our noble father fell:
Yet deeming not the petty prince of Nile
So fell a deed would dare, to Egypt's strand
I thought great Caesar come. But worse than all,
Worse than the wounds which gaped upon his frame
Struck me with horror to the inmost heart,
Our murdered father's head, shorn from the trunk
And borne aloft on javelin; this sight,
As rumour said, the cruel victor asked
To feast his eyes, and prove the bloody deed.
For whether ravenous birds and Pharian dogs
Have torn his corse asunder, or a fire
Consumed it, which with stealthy flame arose
Upon the shore, I know not. For the parts
Devoured by destiny I only blame
The gods: I weep the part preserved by men.'
Thus Sextus spake: and Cnaeus at the words
Flamed into fury for his father's shame.
'Sailors, launch forth our navies, by your oars
Forced through the deep though wind and sea oppose:
Captains, lead on: for civil strife ne'er gave
So great a prize; to lay in earth the limbs
Of Magnus, and avenge him with the blood
Of that unmanly tyrant. Shall I spare
Great Alexander's fort, nor sack the shrine
And plunge his body in the tideless marsh?
Nor drag Amasis from the Pyramids,
And all their ancient Kings, to swim the Nile?
Torn from his tomb, that god of all mankind
Isis, unburied, shall avenge thy shade;
And veiled Osiris shall I hurl abroad
In mutilated fragments; and the form
Of sacred Apis; and with these their gods
Shall light a furnace, that shall burn the head
They held in insult. Thus their land shall pay
The fullest penalty for the shameful deed.
No husbandman shall live to till the fields
Nor reap the benefit of brimming Nile.
Thou only, Father, gods and men alike
Fallen and perished, shalt possess the land.'
Such were the words he spake; and soon the fleet
Had dared the angry deep: but Cato's voice
While praising, calmed the youthful chieftain's rage.
Meanwhile, when Magnus' fate was known, the air
Sounded with lamentations which the shore
Re-echoed; never through the ages past,
By history recorded, was it known
That thus a people mourned their ruler's death.
Yet more when worn with tears, her pallid cheek
Veiled by her loosened tresses, from the ship
Cornelia came, they wept and beat the breast.
The friendly land once gained, her husband's garb,
His arms and spoils, embroidered deep in gold,
Thrice worn of old upon the sacred hill
She placed upon the flame. Such were for her
The ashes of her spouse: and such the love
Which glowed in every heart, that soon the shore
Blazed with his obsequies. Thus at winter-tide
By frequent fires th' Apulian herdsman seeks
To render to the fields their verdant growth;
Till blaze Garganus' uplands and the meads
Of Vultur, and the pasture of the herds
By warm Matinum.
Yet Pompeius' shade
Nought else so gratified, not all the blame
The people dared to heap upon the gods,
For him their hero slain, as these few words
From Cato's noble breast instinct with truth:
'Gone is a citizen who though no peer
Of those who disciplined the state of yore
In due submission to the bounds of right,
Yet in this age irreverent of law
Has played a noble part. Great was his power,
But freedom safe: when all the plebs was prone
To be his slaves, he chose the private gown;
So that the Senate ruled the Roman state,
The Senate's ruler: nought by right of arms
He e'er demanded: willing took he gifts
Yet from a willing giver: wealth was his
Vast, yet the coffers of the State he filled
Beyond his own. He seized upon the sword,
Knew when to sheath it; war did he prefer
To arts of peace, yet armed loved peace the more.
Pleased took he power, pleased he laid it down:
Chaste was his home and simple, by his wealth
Untarnished. Mid the peoples great his name
And venerated: to his native Rome
He wrought much good. True faith in liberty
Long since with Marius and Sulla fled:
Now when Pompeius has been reft away
Its counterfeit has perished. Now unshamed
Shall seize the despot on Imperial power,
Unshamed shall cringe the Senate. Happy he
Who with disaster found his latest breath
And met the Pharian sword prepared to slay.
Life might have been his lot, in despot rule,
Prone at his kinsman's throne. Best gift of all
The knowledge how to die; next, death compelled.
If cruel Fortune doth reserve for me
An alien conqueror, may Juba be
As Ptolemaeus. So he take my head
My body grace his triumph, if he will.'
More than had Rome resounded with his praise
Words such as these gave honour to the shade
Of that most noble dead.
Meanwhile the crowd
Weary of warfare, since Pompeius' fall,
Broke into discord, as their ancient chief
Cilician called them to desert the camp.
But Cato hailed them from the furthest beach:
'Untamed Cilician, is thy course now set
For Ocean theft again; Pompeius gone,
Once more a pirate?' Thus he spake, and gazed
At all the stirring throng; but one whose mind
Was fixed on flight, thus answered, 'Pardon, chief,
'Twas love of Magnus, not of civil war,
That led us to the fight: his side was ours:
With him whom all the world preferred to peace,
Our cause is perished. Let us seek our homes
Long since unseen, our children and our wives.
If nor the rout nor dread Pharsalia's field
Nor yet Pompeius' death shall close the war,
Whence comes the end? The vigour of a life
For us is vanished: in our failing years
Give us at least some pious hand to speed
The parting soul, and light the funeral pyre.
Scarce even to its captains civil strife
Concedes due burial. Nor in our defeat
Does Fortune threaten us with the savage yoke
Of distant nations. In the garb of Rome
And with her rights, I leave thee. Who had been
Second to Magnus living, he shall be
My first hereafter: to that sacred shade
Be the prime honour. Chance of war appoints
My lord but not my leader. Thee alone
I followed, Magnus; after thee the fates.
Nor hope we now for victory, nor wish;
For all our Thracian army is fled
In Caesar's victory, whose potent star
Of fortune rules the world, and none but he
Has power to keep or save. That civil war
Which while Pompeius lived was loyalty
Is impious now. If in the public right
Thou, patriot Cato, find'st thy guide, we seek
The standards of the Consul.' Thus he spake
And with him leaped into the ship a throng
Of eager comrades.
Then was Rome undone,
For all the shore was stirring with a crowd
Athirst for slavery. But burst these words
From Cato's blameless breast: 'Then with like vows
As Caesar's rival host ye too did seek
A lord and master! not for Rome the fight,
But for Pompeius! For that now no more
Ye fight for tyranny, but for yourselves,
Not for some despot chief, ye live and die;
Since now 'tis safe to conquer and no lord
Shall rob you, victors, of a world subdued --
Ye flee the war, and on your abject necks
Feel for the absent yoke; nor can endure
Without a despot! Yet to men the prize
Were worth the danger. Magnus might have used
To evil ends your blood; refuse ye now,
With liberty so near, your country's call?
Now lives one tyrant only of the three;
Thus far in favour of the laws have wrought
The Pharian weapons and the Parthian bow;
Not you, degenerate! Begone, and spurn
This gift of Ptolemaeus. Who would think
Your hands were stained with blood? The foe will deem
That you upon that dread Thessalian day
First turned your backs. Then flee in safety, flee!
By neither battle nor blockade subdued
Caesar shall give you life! O slaves most base,
Your former master slain, ye seek his heir!
Why doth it please you not yet more to earn
Than life and pardon? Bear across the sea
Metellus' daughter, Magnus' weeping spouse,
And both his sons; outstrip the Pharian gift,
Nor spare this head, which, laid before the feet
Of that detested tyrant, shall deserve
A full reward. Thus, cowards, shall ye learn
In that ye followed me how great your gain.
Quick to your task and purchase thus with blood
Your claim on Caesar. Dastardly is flight
Which crime commends not.'
Cato thus recalled
The parting vessels. So when bees in swarm
Desert their waxen cells, forget the hive
Ceasing to cling together, and with wings
Untrammelled seek the air, nor slothful light
On thyme to taste its bitterness -- then rings
The Phrygian gong -- at once they pause aloft
Astonied; and with love of toil resumed
Through all the flowers for their honey store
In ceaseless wanderings search; the shepherd joys,
Sure that th' Hyblaean mead for him has kept
His cottage store, the riches of his home.
Now in the active conduct of the war
Were brought to discipline their minds, untaught
To bear repose; first on the sandy shore
Toiling they learned fatigue: then stormed thy walls,
Cyrene; prizeless, for to Cato's mind
'Twas prize enough to conquer. Juba next
He bids attack, though Nature on the path
Had placed the Syrtes; which his sturdy heart
Aspired to conquer. Either at the first
When Nature gave the universe its form
She left this region neither land nor sea;
Not wholly shrunk, so that it should receive
The ocean flood; nor firm enough to stand
Against its buffets -- all the pathless coast
Lies in uncertain shape; the land by earth
Is parted from the deep; on sandy banks
The seas are broken, and from shoal to shoal
The waves advance to sound upon the shore.
Nature, in spite, thus left her work undone,
Unfashioned to men's use -- Or else of old
A foaming ocean filled the wide expanse,
But Titan feeding from the briny depths
His burning fires (near to the zone of heat)
Reduced the waters; and the sea still fights
With Phoebus' beams, which in the length of time
Drank deeper of its fountains.
When the main
Struck by the oars gave passage to the fleet,
Black from the sky rushed down a southern gale
Upon his realm, and from the watery plain
Drave back th' invading ships, and from the shoals
Compelled the billows, and in middle sea
Raised up a bank. Forth flew the bellying sails
Beyond the prows, despite the ropes that dared
Resist the tempest's fury; and for those
Who prescient housed their canvas to the storm,
Bare-masted they were driven from their course.
Best was their lot who gained the open waves
Of ocean; others lightened of their masts
Shook off the tempest; but a sweeping tide
Hurried them southwards, victor of the gale.
Some freed of shallows on a bank were forced
Which broke the deep: their ship in part was fast,
Part hanging on the sea; their fates in doubt.
Fierce rage the waves till hems them in the land;
Nor Auster's force in frequent buffets spent
Prevails upon the shore. High from the main
By seas inviolate one bank of sand,
Far from the coast arose; there watched in vain
The storm-tossed mariners, their keel aground,
No shore descrying. Thus in sea were lost
Some portion, but the major part by helm
And rudder guided, and by pilots' hands
Who knew the devious channels, safe at length
Floated the marsh of Triton loved (as saith
The fable) by that god, whose sounding shell
All seas and shores re-echo; and by her,
Pallas, who springing from her father's head
First lit on Libya, nearest land to heaven,
(As by its heat is proved); here on the brink
She stood, reflected in the placid wave
And called herself Tritonis. Lethe's flood
Flows silent near, in fable from a source
Infernal sprung, oblivion in his stream;
Here, too, that garden of the Hesperids
Where once the sleepless dragon held his watch,
Shorn of its leafy wealth. Shame be on him
Who calls upon the poet for the proof
Of that which in the ancient days befell;
But here were golden groves by yellow growth
Weighed down in richness, here a maiden band
Were guardians; and a serpent, on whose eyes
Sleep never fell, was coiled around the trees,
Whose branches bowed beneath their ruddy load.
But great Alcides stripped the bending boughs,
And bore their shining apples (thus his task
Accomplished) to the court of Argos' king.
Driven on the Libyan realms, more fruitful here,
Pompeius stayed the fleet, nor further dared
In Garamantian waves. But Cato's soul
Leaped in his breast, impatient of delay,
To pass the Syrtes by a landward march,
And trusting to their swords, 'gainst tribes unknown
To lead his legions. And the storm which closed
The main to navies gave them hope of rain;
Nor biting frosts they feared, in Libyan clime;
Nor suns too scorching in the falling year.
Thus ere they trod the deserts, Cato spake:
'Ye men of Rome, who through mine arms alone
Can find the death ye covet, and shall fall
With pride unbroken should the fates command,
Meet this your weighty task, your high emprise
With hearts resolved to conquer. For we march
On sterile wastes, burnt regions of the world;
Scarce are the wells, and Titan from the height
Burns pitiless, unclouded; and the slime
Of poisonous serpents fouls the dusty earth.
Yet shall men venture for the love of laws
And country perishing, upon the sands
Of trackless Libya; men who brave in soul
Rely not on the end, and in attempt
Will risk their all. 'Tis not in Cato's thoughts
On this our enterprise to lead a band
Blind to the truth, unwitting of the risk.
Nay, give me comrades for the danger's sake,
Whom I shall see for honour and for Rome
Bear up against the worst. But whose needs
A pledge of safety, to whom life is sweet,
Let him by fairer journey seek his lord.
First be my foot upon the sand; on me
First strike the burning sun; across my path
The serpent void his venom; by my fate
Know ye your perils. Let him only thirst
Who sees me at the spring: who sees me seek
The shade, alone sink fainting in the heat;
Or whoso sees me ride before the ranks
Plodding their weary march: such be the lot
Of each, who, toiling, finds in me a chief
And not a comrade. Snakes, thirst, burning sand
The brave man welcomes, and the patient breast
Finds happiness in labour. By its cost
Courage is sweeter; and this Libyan land
Such cloud of ills can furnish as might make
Men flee unshamed.' 'Twas thus that Cato spake,
Kindling the torch of valour and the love
Of toil: then reckless of his fate he strode
The desert path from which was no return:
And Libya ruled his destinies, to shut
His sacred name within a narrow tomb.
One-third of all the world, if fame we trust,
Is Libya; yet by winds and sky she yields
Some part to Europe; for the shores of Nile
No more than Scythian Tanais are remote
From furthest Gades, where with bending coast,
Yielding a place to Ocean, Europe parts
From Afric shores. Yet falls the larger world
To Asia only. From the former two
Issues the Western wind; but Asia's right
Touches the Southern limits and her left
The Northern tempest's home; and of the East
She's mistress to the rising of the Sun.
All that is fertile of the Afric lands
Lies to the west, but even here abound
No wells of water: though the Northern wind,
Infrequent, leaving us with skies serene,
Falls there in showers. Not gold nor wealth of brass
It yields the seeker: pure and unalloyed
Down to its lowest depths is Libyan soil.
Yet citron forests to Maurusian tribes
Were riches, had they known; but they, content,
Lived 'neath the shady foliage, till gleamed
The axe of Rome amid the virgin grove,
To bring from furthest limits of the world
Our banquet tables and the fruit they bear.
But suns excessive and a scorching air
Burn all the glebe beside the shifting sands:
There die the harvests on the crumbling mould;
No root finds sustenance, nor kindly Jove
Makes rich the furrow nor matures the vine.
Sleep binds all nature and the tract of sand
Lies ever fruitless, save that by the shore
The hardy Nasamon plucks a scanty grass.
Unclothed their race, and living on the woes
Worked by the cruel Syrtes on mankind;
For spoilers are they of the luckless ships
Cast on the shoals: and with the world by wrecks
Their only commerce.
Here at Cato's word
His soldiers passed, in fancy from the winds
That sweep the sea secure: here on them fell
Smiting with greater strength upon the shore,
Than on the ocean, Auster's tempest force,
And yet more fraught with mischief: for no crags
Repelled his strength, nor lofty mountains tamed
His furious onset, nor in sturdy woods
He found a bar; but free from reining hand,
Raged at his will o'er the defenceless earth.
Nor did he mingle dust and clouds of rain
In whirling circles, but the earth was swept
And hung in air suspended, till amazed
The Nasamon saw his scanty field and home
Reft by the tempest, and the native huts
From roof to base were hurried on the blast.
Not higher, when some all-devouring flame
Has seized upon its prey, in volumes dense
Rolls up the smoke, and darkens all the air.
Then with fresh might he fell upon the host
Of marching Romans, snatching from their feet
The sand they trod. Had Auster been enclosed
In some vast cavernous vault with solid walls
And mighty barriers, he had moved the world
Upon its ancient base and made the lands
To tremble: but the facile Libyan soil
By not resisting stood, and blasts that whirled
The surface upwards left the depths unmoved.
Helmet and shield and spear were torn away
By his most violent breath, and borne aloft
Through all the regions of the boundless sky;
Perchance a wonder in some distant land,
Where men may fear the weapons from the heaven
There falling, as the armour of the gods,
Nor deem them ravished from a soldier's arm.
'Twas thus on Numa by the sacred fire
Those shields descended which our chosen priests
Bear on their shoulders; from some warlike race
By tempest rapt, to be the prize of Rome.
Fearing the storm prone fell the host to earth
Winding their garments tight, and with clenched hands
Gripping the earth: for not their weight alone
Withstood the tempest which upon their frames
Piled mighty heaps, and their recumbent limbs
Buried in sand. At length they struggling rose
Back to their feet, when lo! around them stood,
Forced by the storm, a growing bank of earth
Which held them motionless. And from afar
Where walls lay prostrate, mighty stones were hurled,
Thus piling ills on ills in wondrous form:
No dwellings had they seen, yet at their feet
Beheld the ruins. All the earth was hid
In vast envelopment, nor found they guide
Save from the stars, which as in middle deep
Flamed o'er them wandering: yet some were hid
Beneath the circle of the Libyan earth
Which tending downwards hid the Northern sky.
When warmth dispersed the tempest-driven air,
And rose upon the earth the flaming day,
Bathed were their limbs in sweat, but parched and dry
Their gaping lips; when to a scanty spring
Far off beheld they came, whose meagre drops
All gathered in the hollow of a helm
They offered to their chief. Caked were their throats
With dust, and panting; and one little drop
Had made him envied. 'Wretch, and dost thou deem
Me wanting in a brave man's heart?' he cried,
'Me only in this throng? And have I seemed
Tender, unfit to bear the morning heat?
He who would quench his thirst 'mid such a host,
Doth most deserve its pangs.' Then in his wrath
Dashed down the helmet, and the scanty spring,
Thus by their leader spurned, sufficed for all.
Now had they reached that temple which possess
Sole in all Libya, th' untutored tribes
Of Garamantians. Here holds his seat
(So saith the story) a prophetic Jove,
Wielding no thunderbolts, nor like to ours,
The Libyan Hammen of the curved horn.
No wealth adorns his fane by Afric tribes
Bestowed, nor glittering hoard of Eastern gems.
Though rich Arabians, Ind and Ethiop
Know him alone as Jove, still is he poor
Holding his shrine by riches undefiled
Through time, and god as of the olden days
Spurns all the wealth of Rome. That here some god
Dwells, witnesses the only grove
That buds in Libya -- for that which grows
Upon the arid dust which Leptis parts
From Berenice, knows no leaves; alone
Hammon uprears a wood; a fount the cause
Which with its waters binds the crumbling soil.
Yet shall the Sun when poised upon the height
Strike through the foliage: hardly can the tree
Protect its trunk, and to a little space
His rays draw in the circle of the shade.
Here have men found the spot where that high band
Solstitial divides in middle sky
The zodiac stars: not here oblique their course,
Nor Scorpion rises straighter than the Bull,
Nor to the Scales does Ram give back his hours,
Nor does Astraea bid the Fishes sink
More slowly down: but watery Capricorn
Is equal with the Crab, and with the Twins
The Archer; neither does the Lion rise
Above Aquarius. But the race that dwells
Beyond the fervour of the Libyan fires
Sees to the South that shadow which with us
Falls to the North: slow Cynosure sinks
For them below the deep; and, dry with us,
The Wagon plunges; far from either pole,
No star they know that does not seek the main,
But all the constellations in their course
Whirl to their vision through the middle sky.
Before the doors the Eastern peoples stood
Seeking from horned Jove to know their fates:
Yet to the Roman chief they yielded place,
Whose comrades prayed him to entreat the gods
Famed through the Libyan world, and judge the voice
Renowned from distant ages. First of these
Was Labienus: 'Chance,' he said, 'to us
The voice and counsel of this mighty god
Has offered as we march; from such a guide
To know the issues of the war, and learn
To track the Syrtes. For to whom on earth
If not to blameless Cato, shall the gods
Entrust their secrets? Faithful thou at least,
Their follower through all thy life hast been;
Now hast thou liberty to speak with Jove.
Ask impious Caesar's fates, and learn the laws
That wait our country in the future days:
Whether the people shall be free to use
Their rights and customs, or the civil war
For us is wasted. To thy sacred breast,
Lover of virtue, take the voice divine;
Demand what virtue is and guide thy steps
By heaven's high counsellor.'
But Cato, full
Of godlike thoughts borne in his quiet breast,
This answer uttered, worthy of the shrines:
'What, Labienus, dost thou bid me ask?
Whether in arms and freedom I should wish
To perish, rather than endure a king?
Is longest life worth aught? And doth its term
Make difference? Can violence to the good
Do injury? Do Fortune's threats avail
Outweighed by virtue? Doth it not suffice
To aim at deeds of bravery? Can fame
Grow by achievement? Nay! No Hammen's voice
Shall teach us this more surely than we know.
Bound are we to the gods; no voice we need;
They live in all our acts, although the shrine
Be silent: at our birth and once for all
What may be known the author of our being
Revealed; nor Chose these thirsty sands to chaunt
To few his truth, whelmed in the dusty waste.
God has his dwelling in all things that be,
In earth and air and sea and starry vault,
In virtuous deeds; in all that thou can'st see,
In all thy thoughts contained. Why further, then,
Seek we our deities? Let those who doubt
And halting, tremble for their coming fates,
Go ask the oracles. No mystic words,
Make sure my heart, but surely-coming Death.
Coward alike and brave, we all must die.
Thus hath Jove spoken: seek to know no more.'
Thus Cato spake, and faithful to his creed
He parted from the temple of the god
And left the oracle of Hammon dumb.
Bearing his javelin, as one of them
Before the troops he marched: no panting slave
With bending neck, no litter bore his form.
He bade them not, but showed them how to toil.
Spare in his sleep, the last to sip the spring
When at some rivulet to quench their thirst
The eager ranks pressed onward, he alone
Until the humblest follower might drink
Stood motionless. If for the truly good
Is fame, and virtue by the deed itself,
Not by sucoessful issue, should be judged,
Yield, famous ancestors! Fortune, not worth
Gained you your glory. But such name as his
Who ever merited by successful war
Or slaughtered peoples? Rather would I lead
With him his triumph through the pathless sands
And Libya's bounds, than in Pompeius' car
Three times ascend the Capitol, or break
The proud Jugurtha. Rome! in him behold
His country's father, worthiest of thy vows;
A name by which men shall not blush to swear,
Whom, should'st thou break the fetters from thy neck,
Thou may'st in distant days decree divine.
Now was the heat more dense, and through that clime
Than which no further on the Southern side
The gods permit, they trod; and scarcer still
The water, till in middle sands they found
One bounteous spring which clustered serpents held
Though scaroe the space sufficed. By thirsting snakes
The fount was thronged and asps pressed on the marge.
But when the chieftain saw that speedy fate
Was on the host, if they should leave the well
Untasted, 'Vain,' he cried, 'your fear of death.
Drink, nor delay: 'tis from the threatening tooth
Men draw their deaths, and fatal from the fang
Issues the juice if mingled with the blood;
The cup is harmless.' Then he sipped the fount,
Still doubting, and in all the Libyan waste
There only was he first to touch the stream.
Why fertile thus in death the pestilent air
Of Libya, what poison in her soil
Her several nature mixed, my care to know
Has not availed: but from the days of old
A fabled story has deceived the world.
Far on her limits, where the burning shore
Admits the ocean fervid from the sun
Plunged in its waters, lay Medusa's fields
Untilled; nor forests shaded, nor the plough
Furrowed the soil, which by its mistress' gaze
Was hardened into stone: Phorcus, her sire.
Malevolent nature from her body first
Drew forth these noisome pests; first from her jaws
Issued the sibilant rattle of serpent tongues;
Clustered around her head the poisonous brood
Like to a woman's hair, wreathed on her neck
Which gloried in their touch; their glittering heads
Advanced towards her; and her tresses kempt
Dripped down with viper's venom. This alone
Thou hast, accursed one, which men can see
Unharmed; for who upon that gaping mouth
Looked and could dread? To whom who met her glance,
Was death permitted? Fate delayed no more.
But ere the victim feared had struck him down:
Perished the limbs while living, and the soul
Grew stiff and stark ere yet it fled the frame.
Men have been frenzied by the Furies' locks,
Not killed; and Cerberus at Orpheus' song
Ceased from his hissing, and Alcides saw
The Hydra ere he slew. This monster born
Brought horror with her birth upon her sire
Phorcus, in second order God of Waves,
And upon Ceto and the Gorgon brood,
Her sisters. She could threat the sea and sky
With deadly calm unknown, and from the world
Bid cease the soil. Borne down by instant weight
Fowls fell from air, and beasts were fixed in stone.
Whole Ethiop tribes who tilled the neighbouring lands
Rigid in marble stood. The Gorgon sight
No creature bore and even her serpents turned
Back from her visage. Atlas in his place
Beside the Western columns, by her look
Was turned to rocks; and when on snakes of old
Phlegraean giants stood and frighted heaven,
She made them mountains, and the Gorgon head
Borne on Athena's bosom closed the war.
Here born of Danae and the golden shower,
Floating on wings Parrhasian, by the god
Arcadian given, author of the lyre
And wrestling art, came Perseus, down from heaven
Swooping. Cyllenian Harp did he bear
Still crimson from another monster slain,
The guardian of the heifer loved by Jove.
This to her winged brother Pallas lent
Price of the monster's head: by her command
Upon the limits of the Libyan land
He sought the rising sun, with flight averse,
Poised o'er Medusa's realm; a burnished shield
Of yellow brass upon his other arm,
Her gift, he bore: in which she bade him see
The fatal face unscathed. Nor yet in sleep
Lay all the monster, for such total rest
To her were death -- so fated: serpent locks
In vigilant watch, some reaching forth defend
Her head, while others lay upon her face
And slumbering eyes. Then hero Perseus shook
Though turned averse; trembled his dexter hand:
But Pallas held, and the descending blade
Shore the broad neck whence sprang the viper brood.
What visage bore the Gorgon as the steel
Thus reft her life! what poison from her throat
Breathed! from her eyes what venom of death distilled!
The goddess dared not look, and Perseus' face
Had frozen, averse, had not Athena veiled
With coils of writhing snakes the features dead.
Then with the Gorgon head the hero flew
Uplifted on his wings and sought the sky.
Shorter had been his voyage through the midst
Of Europe's cities; but Athena bade
To spare her peoples and their fruitful lands;
For who when such an airy courser passed
Had not looked up to heaven? Western winds
Now sped his pinions, and he took his course
O'er Libya's regions, from the stars and suns
Veiled by no culture. Phoebus' nearer track
There burns the soil, and loftiest on the sky
There fails the night, to shade the wandering moon,
If o'er forgetful of her course oblique,
Straight through the stars, nor bending to the North
Nor to the South, she hastens. Yet that earth,
In nothing fertile, void of fruitful yield,
Drank in the poison of Medusa's blood,
Dripping in dreadful dews upon the soil,
And in the crumbling sands by heat matured.
First from the dust was raised a gory clot
In guise of Asp, sleep-bringing, swollen of neck:
Full was the blood and thick the poison drop
That were its making; in no other snake
More copious held. Greedy of warmth it seeks
No frozen world itself, nor haunts the sands
Beyond the Nile; yet has our thirst of gain
No shame nor limit, and this Libyan death,
This fatal pest we purchase for our own.
Haemorrhois huge spreads out his scaly coils,
Who suffers not his hapless victims' blood
To stay within their veins. Chersydros sprang
To life, to dwell within the doubtful marsh
Where land nor sea prevails. A cloud of spray
Marked fell Chelyder's track: and Cenchris rose
Straight gliding to his prey, his belly tinged
With various spots unnumbered, more than those
Which paint the Theban marble; horned snakes
With spines contorted: like to torrid sand
Ammodytes, of hue invisible:
Sole of all serpents Scytale to shed
In vernal frosts his slough; and thirsty Dipsas;
Dread Amphisbaena with his double head
Tapering; and Natrix who in bubbling fount
Fuses his venom. Greedy Prester swells
His foaming jaws; Pareas, head erect
Furrows with tail alone his sandy path;
Swift Jaculus there, and Seps whose poisonous juice
Makes putrid flesh and frame: and there upreared
His regal head, and frighted from his track
With sibilant terror all the subject swam,
Baneful ere darts his poison, Basilisk
In sands deserted king. Ye serpents too
Who in all other regions harmless glide
Adored as gods, and bright with golden scales,
In those hot wastes are deadly; poised in air
Whole herds of kine ye follow, and with coils
Encircling close, crush in the mighty bull.
Nor does the elephant in his giant bulk,
Nor aught, find safety; and ye need no fang
Nor poison, to compel the fatal end.
Amid these pests undaunted Cato urged
His desert journey on. His hardy troops
Beneath his eyes, pricked by a scanty wound,
In strangest forms of death unnumbered fall.
Tyrrhenian Aulus, bearer of a flag,
Trod on a Dipsas; quick with head reversed
The serpent struck; no mark betrayed the tooth:
The aspect of the wound nor threatened death,
Nor any evil; but the poison germ
In silence working as consuming fire
Absorbed the moisture of his inward frame,
Draining the natural juices that were spread
Around his vitals; in his arid jaws
Set flame upon his tongue: his wearied limbs
No sweat bedewed; dried up, the fount of tears
Fled from his eyelids. Tortured by the fire
Nor Cato's sternness, nor of his sacred charge
The honour could withhold him; but he dared
To dash his standard down, and through the plains
Raging, to seek for water that might slake
The fatal venom thirsting at his heart.
Plunge him in Tanais, in Rhone and Po,
Pour on his burning tongue the flood of Nile,
Yet were the fire unquenched. So fell the fang
Of Dipsas in the torrid Libyan lands;
In other climes less fatal. Next he seeks
Amid the sands, all barren to the depths,
For moisture: then returning to the shoals
Laps them with greed -- in vain -- the briny draught
Scarce quenched the thirst it made. Nor knowing yet
The poison in his frame, he steels himself
To rip his swollen veins and drink the gore.
Cato bids lift the standard, lest his troops
May find in thirst a pardon for the deed.
But on Sabellus' yet more piteous death
Their eyes were fastened. Clinging to his skin
A Seps with curving tooth, of little size,
He seized and tore away, and to the sands
Pierced with his javelin. Small the serpent's bulk;
None deals a death more horrible in form.
For swift the flesh dissolving round the wound
Bared the pale bone; swam all his limbs in blood;
Wasted the tissue of his calves and knees:
And all the muscles of his thighs were thawed
In black distilment, and file membrane sheath
Parted, that bound his vitals, which abroad
Flowed upon earth: yet seemed it not that all
His frame was loosed, for by the venomous drop
Were all the bands that held his muscles drawn
Down to a juice; the framework of his chest
Was bare, its cavity, and all the parts
Hid by the organs of life, that make the man.
So by unholy death there stood revealed
His inmost nature. Head and stalwart arms,
And neck and shoulders, from their solid mass
Melt in corruption. Not more swiftly flows
Wax at the sun's command, nor snow compelled
By southern breezes. Yet not all is said:
For so to noxious humours fire consumes
Our fleshly frame; but on the funeral pyre
What bones have perished? These dissolve no less
Than did the mouldered tissues, nor of death
Thus swift is left a trace. Of Afric pests
Thou bear'st the palm for hurtfulness: the life
They snatch away, thou only with the life
The clay that held it.
Lo! a different fate,
Not this by melting! for a Prester's fang
Nasidius struck, who erst in Marsian fields
Guided the ploughshare. Burned upon his face
A redness as of flame: swollen the skin,
His features hidden, swollen all his limbs
Till more than human: and his definite frame
One tumour huge concealed. A ghastly gore
Is puffed from inwards as the virulent juice
Courses through all his body; which, thus grown,
His corselet holds not. Not in caldron so
Boils up to mountainous height the steaming wave;
Nor in such bellying curves does canvas bend
To Eastern tempests. Now the ponderous bulk
Rejects the limbs, and as a shapeless trunk
Burdens the earth: and there, to beasts and birds
A fatal feast, his comrades left the corse
Nor dared to place, yet swelling, in the tomb.
But for their eyes the Libyan pests prepared
More dreadful sights. On Tullus great in heart,
And bound to Cato with admiring soul,
A fierce Haemorrhois fixed. From every limb,
(As from a statue saffron spray is showered
In every part) there spouted forth for blood
A sable poison: from the natural pores
Of moisture, gore profuse; his mouth was filled
And gaping nostrils, and his tears were blood.
Brimmed full his veins; his very sweat was red;
All was one wound.
Then piteous Levus next
In sleep was victim, for around his heart
Stood still the blood congealed: no pain he felt
Of venomous tooth, but swift upon him fell
Death, and he sought the shades; more swift to kill
No draught in poisonous cups from ripened plants
Of direst growth Sabaean wizards brew.
Lo! Upon branchless trunk a serpent, named
By Libyans Jaculus, rose in coils to dart
His venom from afar. Through Paullus' brain
It rushed, nor stayed; for in the wound itself
Was death. Then did they know how slowly flies,
Flung from a sling, the stone; how gently speed
Through air the shafts of Scythia.
Murrus, the lance by which thou didst transfix
A Basilisk? Swift through the weapon ran
The poison to his hand: he draws his sword
And severs arm and shoulder at a blow:
Then gazed secure upon his severed hand
Which perished as he looked. So had'st thou died,
And such had been thy fate!
Whoe'er had thought
A scorpion had strength o'er death or fate?
Yet with his threatening coils and barb erect
He won the glory of Orion slain;
So bear the stars their witness. And who would fear
Thy haunts, Salpuga? Yet the Stygian Maids
Have given thee power to snap the fatal threads.
Thus nor the day with brightness, nor the night
With darkness gave them peace. The very earth
On which they lay they feared; nor leaves nor straw
They piled for couches, but upon the ground
Unshielded from the fates they laid their limbs,
Cherished beneath whose warmth in chill of night
The frozen pests found shelter; in whose jaws
Harmless the while, the lurking venom slept.
Nor did they know the measure of their march
Accomplished, nor their path; the stars in heaven
Their only guide. 'Return, ye gods,' they cried,
In frequent wail, 'the arms from which we fled.
Give back Thessalia. Sworn to meet the sword
Why, lingering, fall we thus? In Caesar's place
The thirsty Dipsas and the horned snake
Now wage the warfare. Rather let us seek
That region by the horses of the sun
Scorched, and the zone most torrid: let us fall
Slain by some heavenly cause, and from the sky
Descend our fate! Not, Africa, of thee
Complain we, nor of Nature. From mankind
Cut off, this quarter, teeming thus with pests
She gave to snakes, and to the barren fields
Denied the husbandman, nor wished that men
Should perish by their venom. To the realms
Of serpents have we come. Hater of men,
Receive thy vengeance, whoso of the gods
Severed this region upon either hand,
With death in middle space. Our march is set
Through thy sequestered kingdom, and the host
Which knows thy secret seeks the furthest world.
Perchance some greater wonders on our path
May still await us; in the waves be plunged
Heaven's constellations, and the lofty pole
Stoop from its height. By further space removed
No land, than Juba's realm; by rumour's voice
Drear, mournful. Haply for this serpent land
There may we long, where yet some living thing
Gives consolation. Not my native land
Nor European fields I hope for now
Lit by far other suns, nor Asia's plains.
But in what land, what region of the sky,
Where left we Africa? But now with frosts
Cyrene stiffened: have we changed the laws
Which rule the seasons, in this little space?
Cast from the world we know, 'neath other skies
And stars we tread; behind our backs the home
Of southern tempests: Rome herself perchance
Now lies beneath our feet. Yet for our fates
This solace pray we, that on this our track
Pursuing Caesar with his host may come.'
Thus was their stubborn patience of its plaints
Disburdened. But the bravery of their chief
Forced them to bear their toils. Upon the sand,
All bare, he lies and dares at every hour
Fortune to strike: he only at the fate
Of each is present, flies to every call;
And greatest boon of all, greater than life,
Brought strength to die. To groan in death was shame
In such a presence. What power had all the ills
Possessed upon him? In another's breast
He conquers misery, teaching by his mien
That pain is powerless.
Hardly aid at length
Did Fortune, wearied of their perils, grant.
Alone unharmed of all who till the earth,
By deadly serpents, dwells the Psyllian race.
Potent as herbs their song; safe is their blood,
Nor gives admission to the poison germ
E'en when the chant has ceased. Their home itself
Placed in such venomous tract and serpent-thronged
Gained them this vantage, and a truce with death,
Else could they not have lived. Such is their trust
In purity of blood, that newly born
Each babe they prove by test of deadly asp
For foreign lineage. So the bird of Jove
Turns his new fledglings to the rising sun
And such as gaze upon the beams of day
With eves unwavering, for the use of heaven
He rears; but such as blink at Phoebus' rays
Casts from the nest. Thus of unmixed descent
The babe who, dreading not the serpent touch,
Plays in his cradle with the deadly snake.
Nor with their own immunity from harm
Contented do they rest, but watch for guests
Who need their help against the noisome plague.
Now to the Roman standards are they come,
And when the chieftain bade the tents be fixed,
First all the sandy space within the lines
With song they purify and magic words
From which all serpents flee: next round the camp
In widest circuit from a kindled fire
Rise aromatic odours: danewort burns,
And juice distils from Syrian galbanum;
Then tamarisk and costum, Eastern herbs,
Strong panacea mixt with centaury
From Thrace, and leaves of fennel feed the flames,
And thapsus brought from Eryx: and they burn
Larch, southern-wood and antlers of a deer
Which lived afar. From these in densest fumes,
Deadly to snakes, a pungent smoke arose;
And thus in safety passed the night away.
But should some victim feel the fatal fang
Upon the march, then of this magic race
Were seen the wonders, for a mighty strife
Rose 'twixt the Psyllian and the poison germ.
First with saliva they anoint the limbs
That held the venomous juice within the wound;
Nor suffer it to spread. From foaming mouth
Next with continuous cadence would they pour
Unceasing chants -- nor breathing space nor pause --
Else spreads the poison: nor does fate permit
A moment's silence. Oft from the black flesh
Flies forth the pest beneath the magic song:
But should it linger nor obey the voice,
Repugmant to the summons, on the wound
Prostrate they lay their lips and from the depths
Now paling draw the venom. In their mouths,
Sucked from the freezing flesh, they hold the death,
Then spew it forth; and from the taste shall know
The snake they conquer.
Aided thus at length
Wanders the Roman host in better guise
Upon the barren fields in lengthy march.
Twice veiled the moon her light and twice renewed;
Yet still, with waning or with growing orb
Saw Cato's steps upon the sandy waste.
But more and more beneath their feet the dust
Began to harden, till the Libyan tracts
Once more were earth, and in the distance rose
Some groves of scanty foliage, and huts
Of plastered straw unfashioned: and their hearts
Leaped at the prospect of a better land.
How fled their sorrow! how with growing joy
They met the savage lion in the path!
In tranquil Leptis first they found retreat:
And passed a winter free from heat and rain.
When Caesar sated with Emathia's slain
Forsook the battlefield, all other cares
Neglected, he pursued his kinsman fled,
On him alone intent: by land his steps
He traced in vain; then, rumour for his guide,
He crossed the sea and reached the Thracian strait
For love renowned; where on the mournful shore
Rose Hero's tower, and Helle born of cloud
Took from the rolling waves their former name.
Nowhere with shorter space the sea divides
Europe from Asia; though Pontus parts
By scant division from Byzantium's hold
Chalcedon oyster-rich: and small the strait
Through which Propontis pours the Euxine wave.
Then marvelling at their ancient fame, he seeks
Sigeum's sandy beach and Simois' stream,
Rhoeteum noble for its Grecian tomb,
And all the hero's shades, the theme of song.
Next by the town of Troy burnt down of old
Now but a memorable name, he turns
His steps, and searches for the mighty stones
Relics of Phoebus' wall. But bare with age
Forests of trees and hollow mouldering trunks
Pressed down Assaracus' palace, and with roots
Wearied, possessed the temples of the gods.
All Pergamus with densest brake was veiled
And even her stones were perished. He beheld
Thy rock, Hesione; the hidden grove,
Anchises' nuptial chamber; and the cave
Where sat the arbiter; the spot from which
Was snatched the beauteous youth; the mountain lawn
Where played Oenone. Not a stone but told
The story of the past. A little stream
Scarce trickling through the arid plain he passed,
Nor knew 'twas Xanthus: deep in grass he placed,
Careless, his footstep; but the herdsman cried
'Thou tread'st the dust of Hector.' Stones confused
Lay at his feet in sacred shape no more:
'Look on the altar of Jove,' thus spake the guide,
'God of the household, guardian of the home.'
O sacred task of poets, toil supreme,
Which rescuing all things from allotted fate
Dost give eternity to mortal men!
Grudge not the glory, Caesar, of such fame.
For if the Latian Muse may promise aught,
Long as the heroes of the Trojan time
Shall live upon the page of Smyrna's bard,
So long shall future races read of thee
In this my poem; and Pharsalia's song
Live unforgotten in the age to come.
When by the ancient grandeur of the place
The chieftain's sight was filled, of gathered turf
Altars he raised: and as the sacred flame
Cast forth its odours, these not idle vows
Gave to the gods, 'Ye deities of the dead,
Who watch o'er Phrygian ruins: ye who now
Lavinia's homes inhabit, and Alba's height:
Gods of my sire Aeneas, in whose fanes
The Trojan fire still burns: pledge of the past
Mysterious Pallas, of the inmost shrine,
Unseen of men! here in your ancient seat,
Most famous offspring of Iulus' race,
I call upon you and with pious hand
Burn frequent offerings. To my emprise
Give prosperous ending! Here shall I replace
The Phrygian peoples, here with glad return
Italia's sons shall build another Troy,
Here rise a Roman Pergamus.'
He seeks his fleet, and eager to regain
Time spent at Ilium, to the favouring breeze
Spreads all his canvas. Past rich Asia borne,
Rhodes soon he left while foamed the sparkling main
Beneath his keels; nor ceased the wind to stretch
His bending sails, till on the seventh night
The Pharian beam proclaimed Egyptian shores.
But day arose, and veiled the nightly lamp
Ere rode his barks on waters safe from storm.
Then Caesar saw that tumult held the shore,
And mingled voices of uncertain sound
Struck on his ear: and trusting not himself
To doubtful kingdoms, of uncertain troth,
He kept his ships from land.
But from the king
Came his vile minion forth upon the wave,
Bearing his dreadful gift, Pompeius' head,
Wrapped in a covering of Pharian wool.
First took he speech and thus in shameless words
Commends the murder: 'Conqueror of the world,
First of the Roman race, and, what as yet
Thou dost not know, safe by thy kinsman slain;
This gift receive from the Pellaean king,
Sole trophy absent from the Thracian field,
To crown thy toils on lands and on the deep.
Here in thine absence have we placed for thee
An end upon the war. Here Magnus came
To mend his fallen fortunes; on our swords
Here met his death. With such a pledge of faith
Here have we bought thee, Caesar; with his blood
Seal we this treaty. Take the Pharian realm
Sought by no bloodshed, take the rule of Nile,
Take all that thou would'st give for Magnus' life:
And hold him vassal worthy of thy camp
To whom the fates against thy son-in-law
Such power entrusted; nor hold thou the deed
Lightly accomplished by the swordsman's stroke,
And so the merit. Guest ancestral he
Who was its victim; who, his sire expelled,
Gave back to him the sceptre. For a deed
So great, thou'lt find a name -- or ask the world.
If 'twas a crime, thou must confess the debt
To us the greater, for that from thy hand
We took the doing.'
Then he held and showed
Unveiled the head. Now had the hand of death
Passed with its changing touch upon the face:
Nor at first sight did Caesar on the gift
Pass condemnation; nor avert his gaze,
But dwelt upon the features till he knew
The crime accomplished. Then when truth was sure
The loving father rose, and tears he shed
Which flowed at his command, and glad in heart
Forced from his breast a groan: thus by the flow
Of feigned tears and grief he hoped to hide
His joy else manifest: and the ghastly boon
Sent by the king disparaging, professed
Rather to mourn his son's dissevered head,
Than count it for a debt. For thee alone,
Magnus, he durst not fail to find a tear:
He, Caesar, who with mien unaltered spurned
The Roman Senate, and with eyes undimmed
Looked on Pharsalia's field. O fate most hard!
Didst thou with impious war pursue the man
Whom 'twas thy lot to mourn? No kindred ties
No memory of thy daughter and her son
Touch on thy heart. Didst think perchance that grief
Might help thy cause 'mid lovers of his name?
Or haply, moved by envy of the king,
Griev'st that to other hands than thine was given
To shed the captive's life-blood? and complain'st
Thy vengeance perished and the conquered chief
Snatched from thy haughty hand? Whate'er the cause
That urged thy grief, 'twas far removed from love.
Was this forsooth the object of thy toil
O'er lands and oceans, that without thy ken
He should not perish? Nay! but well was reft
From thine arbitrament his fate. What crime
Did cruel Fortune spare, what depth of shame
To Roman honour! since she suffered not,
Perfidious traitor, while yet Magnus lived,
That thou should'st pity him!
Thus by words he dared,
To gain their credence in his sembled grief:
'Hence from my sight with thy detested gift,
Thou minion, to thy King. Worse does your crime
Deserve from Caesar than from Magnus' hands.
The only prize that civil war affords
Thus have we lost -- to bid the conquered live.
If but the sister of this Pharian king
Were not by him detested, by the head
Of Cleopatra had I paid this gift.
Such were the fit return. Why did he draw
His separate sword, and in the toil that's ours
Mingle his weapons? In Thessalia's field
Gave we such right to the Pellaean blade?
Magnus as partner in the rule of Rome
I had not brooked; and shall I tolerate
Thee, Ptolemaeus? In vain with civil wars
Thus have we roused the nations, if there be
Now any might but Caesar's. If one land
Yet owned two masters, I had turned from yours
The prows of Latium; but fame forbids,
Lest men should whisper that I did not damn
This deed of blood, but feared the Pharian land.
Nor think ye to deceive; victorious here
I stand: else had my welcome at your hands
Been that of Magnus; and that neck were mine
But for Pharsalia's chance. At greater risk
So seems it, than we dreamed of, took we arms;
Exile, and Magnus' threats, and Rome I knew,
Not Ptolemaeus. But we spare the boy:
Pass by the murder. Let the princeling know
We give no more than pardon for his crime.
And now in honour of the mighty dead,
Not merely that the earth may hide your guilt,
Lay ye the chieftain's head within the tomb;
With proper sepulture appease his shade
And place his scattered ashes in an urn.
Thus may he know my coming, and may hear
Affection's accents, and my fond complaints.
Me sought he not, but rather, for his life,
This Pharian vassal; snatching from mankind
The happy morning which had shown the world
A peace between us. But my prayers to heaven
No favouring answer found; that arms laid down
In happy victory, Magnus, once again
I might embrace thee, begging thee to grant
Thine ancient love to Caesar, and thy life.
Thus for my labours with a worthy prize
Content, thine equal, bound in faithful peace,
I might have brought thee to forgive the gods
For thy disaster; thou had'st gained for me
From Rome forgiveness.'
Thus he spake, but found
No comrade in his tears; nor did the host
Give credit to his grief. Deep in their breasts
They hide their groans, and gaze with joyful front
(O famous Freedom!) on the deed of blood:
And dare to laugh when mighty Caesar wept.
Who Benefits From A Not Getting Of It?
No one's here to endure pain or suffering.
No one can explain to what gain pain brings.
Who benefits from sacrificing love?
Who benefits from sacrificing joy?
Who benefits from,
A not getting of it?
Who benefits from,
A missing of this?
Who benefits from sacrificing love?
Who benefits from,
A not getting of it.
Who benefits from,
A missing of this.
Who benefits from sacrificing joy.
Who benefits from,
Not getting it.
Who benefits from,
A missing of this.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
No one's here to endure pain or suffering.
No one can explain to what gain pain brings.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Who benefits from a not getting of it.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Who benefits from a not getting of it.
Who benefits from a not getting of it.
Are not getting...
What prophets are saying 'bout powers of love.
Who benefits from a not getting of it?
Love A Mortal Who Writes
This be a farce dictation.
Love a being who writes
Because a writer
Is a liar.
I will lie about how the
Night flames with the warm waters
But you will never believe me
For I am a liar
With a pen and a paper.
Love a writer
For a writer is a soldier
Regardless of state:
A drunken soldier.
An arrogant soldier.
A morose soldier.
A burning soldier.
For he is a liar.
He is a prolix garden
Of petty things.
He makes the moon an empire,
And the Sun, an asylum.
He will lie about certain things
With sheer beauty
That none of you
Why love a liar, you might ask?
Listen to a painter as he lies
And he will guise himself with
A shallow palette of colors.
Listen to a businessman lie,
And he will be easily defeated
In a warfare of witticism.
Listen to a doctor lie
But then again, science cannot
Feign states or even a love.
And you can think of any other
Occupation that holds a lie,
And I will tell you
That we are all mortals
Capable of erring,
A mortal who writes elegantly
Will tell an elegant lie -
That is sure.
The world of mendacity
Is a thing that he loathes.
He will come to his senses
And stop lying.
Love a being who writes
For he is a liar -
A liar turned one
Because of many other lies.
A writer can hold a flame
Without getting his hands burned.
A writer can swim through
Oceans of filth
And not drown.
A writer can go on a warfare
With only himself / herself alone
And that is what
The others lack.
A chivalry of the heart,
For the world that lies
Behind the verses from
A flamboyant tongue
Will appear a lie to some,
But to those who can read
Adeptly, will take these
As genuinely stable truths.
Love a mortal who writes,
For a mortal who exudes
Confidences in pen and paper
Will learn the ways
And change his
And tell you
All the truths
That you take
I rose in the dark, felt my way through the room,
We have no en-suite so I groped in the gloom,
The bladder is dicky at my time of life
So I tried to get out without waking the wife.
But outside the door stood a figure I knew
From the Halloween Party the wife had been to,
A monkey, who stood like a simian guard
Holding something quite furry, and rigid and hard!
I said, 'Step aside! I must get to the loo
Or there may be an accident, all over you! '
So he did, with a grunt, and I staggered away
Down the hall to the loo, at the break of the day.
But when I returned he had quite disappeared
And I entered the bedroom to see what I feared,
For there on the bed causing all sorts of strife
He was up to his armpits in Molly, my wife!
I called out - 'Old chap! Now that's not really nice
Coming in from the jungle and bonking my wife! '
He just went on grunting and humping away
As my wife lay there snoring, ignoring the day.
'I know what your name is! ' I said, 'Ken de Groot!
I was there, watched you hiring that old monkey suit!
You're from the same club, you're a first order bat
But I don't think it's cricket what you're playing at! '
The wife kept on snoring, I thought it was strange
With her legs round his neck, like some act, pre-arranged,
But I didn't dare wake her, she might have a fit
If she woke to a monkey just doing his bit!
He got up and left, I was sadly distressed
Though I tried not to show it, she woke up and dressed.
'Is there anything wrong my sweet possum? ' I said,
'Nothing dear... but I dreamt of a monkey in bed! '
The following morning it happened again,
I rushed to the loo as the monkey went in,
I tore off his mask; not de Groot - Eddie Burns!
It seems the whole Cricket Club takes it in turns!
Then day after day it was more like a zoo,
Not just monkeys, but rhino's, and elephants too,
They start before dawn and they line up three deep
While my neighbour's say: 'How d'you expect us to sleep? '
While Molly still slumbers away every morn,
The rhino turns up once a week with his horn,
I knew when I met her she'd always kept pets,
But now she gets checked every week at the vets!
So bowing to fate, I threw open the door
The Cricket Club loves dressing up, I keep score.
I stand by the door - not to watch what they did
But to bolster my pension each day - fifty quid!
5 December 2009
The Norsemen ( From Narrative and Legendary Poems )
GIFT from the cold and silent Past!
A relic to the present cast,
Left on the ever-changing strand
Of shifting and unstable sand,
Which wastes beneath the steady chime
And beating of the waves of Time!
Who from its bed of primal rock
First wrenched thy dark, unshapely block?
Whose hand, of curious skill untaught,
Thy rude and savage outline wrought?
The waters of my native stream
Are glancing in the sun's warm beam;
From sail-urged keel and flashing oar
The circles widen to its shore;
And cultured field and peopled town
Slope to its willowed margin down.
Yet, while this morning breeze is bringing
The home-life sound of school-bells ringing,
And rolling wheel, and rapid jar
Of the fire-winged and steedless car,
And voices from the wayside near
Come quick and blended on my ear,--
A spell is in this old gray stone,
My thoughts are with the Past alone!
A change! -- The steepled town no more
Stretches along the sail-thronged shore;
Like palace-domes in sunset's cloud,
Fade sun-gilt spire and mansion proud:
Spectrally rising where they stood,
I see the old, primeval wood;
Dark, shadow-like, on either hand
I see its solemn waste expand;
It climbs the green and cultured hill,
It arches o'er the valley's rill,
And leans from cliff and crag to throw
Its wild arms o'er the stream below.
Unchanged, alone, the same bright river
Flows on, as it will flow forever!
I listen, and I hear the low
Soft ripple where its water go;
I hear behind the panther's cry,
The wild-bird's scream goes thrilling by,
And shyly on the river's brink
The deer is stooping down to drink.
But hard! -- from wood and rock flung back,
What sound come up the Merrimac?
What sea-worn barks are those which throw
The light spray from each rushing prow?
Have they not in the North Sea's blast
Bowed to the waves the straining mast?
Their frozen sails the low, pale sun
Of Thulë's night has shone upon;
Flapped by the sea-wind's gusty sweep
Round icy drift, and headland steep.
Wild Jutland's wives and Lochlin's daughters
Have watched them fading o'er the waters,
Lessening through driving mist and spray,
Like white-winged sea-birds on their way!
Onward they glide, -- and now I view
Their iron-armed and stalwart crew;
Joy glistens in each wild blue eye,
Turned to green earth and summer sky.
Each broad, seamed breast has cast aside
Its cumbering vest of shaggy hide;
Bared to the sun and soft warm air,
Streams back the Northmen's yellow hair.
I see the gleam of axe and spear,
A sound of smitten shields I hear,
Keeping a harsh and fitting time
To Saga's chant, and Runic rhyme;
Such lays as Zetland's Scald has sung,
His gray and naked isles among;
Or mutter low at midnight hour
Round Odin's mossy stone of power.
The wolf beneath the Arctic moon
Has answered to that startling rune;
The Gael has heard its stormy swell,
The light Frank knows its summons well;
Iona's sable-stoled Culdee
Has heard it sounding o'er the sea,
And swept, with hoary beard and hair,
His altar's foot in trembling prayer!
'T is past, -- the 'wildering vision dies
In darkness on my dreaming eyes!
The forest vanishes in air,
Hill-slope and vale lie starkly bare;
I hear the common tread of men,
And hum of work-day life again;
The mystic relic seems alone
A broken mass of common stone;
And if it be the chiselled limb
Of Berserker or idol grim,
A fragment of Valhalla's Thor,
The stormy Viking's god of War,
Or Praga of the Runic lay,
Or love-awakening Siona,
I know not, -- for no graven line,
Nor Druid mark, nor Runic sign,
Is left me here, by which to trace
Its name, or origin, or place.
Yet, for this vision of the Past,
This glance upon its darkness cast,
My spirit bows in gratitude
Before the Giver of all good,
Who fashioned so the human mind,
That, from the waste of Time behind,
A simple stone, or mound of earth,
Can summon the departed forth;
Quicken the Past to life again,
The Present lose in what hath been,
And in their primal freshness show
The buried forms of long ago.
As if a portion of that Thought
By which the Eternal will is wrought,
Whose impulse fills anew with breath
The frozen solitude of Death,
To mortal mind were sometimes lent,
To mortal musing sometimes sent,
To whisper -- even when it seems
But Memory's fantasy of dreams --
Through the mind's waste of woe and sin,
Of an immortal origin!
The delectable ballad of the waller lot
Up yonder in Buena Park
There is a famous spot,
In legend and in history
Yclept the Waller Lot.
There children play in daytime
And lovers stroll by dark,
For 't is the goodliest trysting-place
In all Buena Park.
Once on a time that beauteous maid,
Sweet little Sissy Knott,
Took out her pretty doll to walk
Within the Waller Lot.
While thus she fared, from Ravenswood
Came Injuns o'er the plain,
And seized upon that beauteous maid
And rent her doll in twain.
Oh, 't was a piteous thing to hear
Her lamentations wild;
She tore her golden curls and cried:
"My child! My child! My child!"
Alas, what cared those Injun chiefs
How bitterly wailed she?
They never had been mothers,
And they could not hope to be!
"Have done with tears," they rudely quoth,
And then they bound her hands;
For they proposed to take her off
To distant border lands.
But, joy! from Mr. Eddy's barn
Doth Willie Clow behold
The sight that makes his hair rise up
And all his blood run cold.
He put his fingers in his mouth
And whistled long and clear,
And presently a goodly horde
Of cow-boys did appear.
Cried Willie Clow: "My comrades bold,
Haste to the Waller Lot,
And rescue from that Injun band
Our charming Sissy Knott!"
"Spare neither Injun buck nor squaw,
But smite them hide and hair!
Spare neither sex nor age nor size,
And no condition spare!"
Then sped that cow-boy band away,
Full of revengeful wrath,
And Kendall Evans rode ahead
Upon a hickory lath.
And next came gallant Dady Field
And Willie's brother Kent,
The Eddy boys and Robbie James,
On murderous purpose bent.
For they were much beholden to
That maid - in sooth, the lot
Were very, very much in love
With charming Sissy Knott.
What wonder? She was beauty's queen,
And good beyond compare;
Moreover, it was known she was
Her wealthy father's heir!
Now when the Injuns saw that band
They trembled with affright,
And yet they thought the cheapest thing
To do was stay and fight.
So sturdily they stood their ground,
Nor would their prisoner yield,
Despite the wrath of Willie Clow
And gallant Dady Field.
Oh, never fiercer battle raged
Upon the Waller Lot,
And never blood more freely flowed
Than flowed for Sissy Knott!
An Injun chief of monstrous size
Got Kendall Evans down,
And Robbie James was soon o'erthrown
By one of great renown.
And Dady Field was sorely done,
And Willie Clow was hurt,
And all that gallant cow-boy band
Lay wallowing in the dirt.
But still they strove with might and main
Till all the Waller Lot
Was strewn with hair and gouts of gore -
All, all for Sissy Knott!
Then cried the maiden in despair:
"Alas, I sadly fear
The battle and my hopes are lost,
Unless some help appear!"
Lo, as she spoke, she saw afar
The rescuer looming up -
The pride of all Buena Park,
Clow's famous yellow pup!
"Now, sick'em, Don," the maiden cried,
"Now, sick'em, Don!" cried she;
Obedient Don at once complied -
As ordered, so did he.
He sicked'em all so passing well
That, overcome by fright,
The Indian horde gave up the fray
And safety sought in flight.
They ran and ran and ran and ran
O'er valley, plain, and hill;
And if they are not walking now,
Why, then, they're running still.
The cow-boys rose up from the dust
With faces black and blue;
"Remember, beauteous maid," said they,
"We've bled and died for you!"
"And though we suffer grievously,
We gladly hail the lot
That brings us toils and pains and wounds
For charming Sissy Knott!"
But Sissy Knott still wailed and wept,
And still her fate reviled;
For who could patch her dolly up -
Who, who could mend her child?
Then out her doting mother came,
And soothed her daughter then;
"Grieve not, my darling, I will sew
Your dolly up again!"
Joy soon succeeded unto grief,
And tears were soon dried up,
And dignities were heaped upon
Clow's noble yellow pup.
Him all that goodly company
Did as deliverer hail -
They tied a ribbon round his neck,
Another round his tail.
And every anniversary day
Upon the Waller Lot
They celebrate the victory won
For charming Sissy Knott.
And I, the poet of these folk,
Am ordered to compile
This truly famous history
In good old ballad style.
Which having done as to have earned
The sweet rewards of fame,
In what same style I did begin
I now shall end the same.
So let us sing: Long live the King,
Long live the Queen and Jack,
Long live the ten-spot and the ace,
And also all the pack.
The Wreck of the Barque Lynton
A sad tale of the sea, I will unfold,
About Mrs Lingard, that Heroine bold;
Who struggled hard in the midst of the hurricane wild,
To save herself from being drowned, and her darling child.
'Twas on the 8th of September, the Barque "Lynton" sailed for Aspinwall,
And the crew on board, numbered thirteen in all;
And the weather at the time, was really very fine,
On the morning that the ill-fated vessel left the Tyne.
And on the 19th of November, they hove in sight of Aspinwall,
But little did they think there was going to be a squall;
When all on a sudden, the sea came rolling in,
And a sound was heard in the heavens, of a rather peculiar din.
Then the vivid lightning played around them, and the thunder did roar,
And the rain came pouring down, and lashed the barque all o'er;
Then the Captain's Wife and Children were ordered below,
And every one on board began to run to and fro.
Then the hurricane in all its fury, burst upon them,
And the sea in its madness, washed the deck from stem to stem;
And the rain poured in torrents, and the waves seemed mountains high,
Then all on board the barque, to God for help, did loudly cry.
And still the wind blew furiously, and the darkness was intense,
Which filled the hearts of the crew with great suspense,
Then the ill-fated vessel struck, and began to settle down,
Then the poor creatures cried. God save us, or else we'll drown!
Then Mrs Lingard snatched to her breast, her darling child,
While loudly roared the thunder, and the hurricane wild;
And she cried, oh! God of heaven, save me and my darling child,
Or else we'll perish in the hurricane wild.
'Twas then the vessel turned right over, and they were immersed in the sea,
Still the poor souls struggled hard to save their lives, most heroically;
And everyone succeeded in catching hold of the keel garboard streak,
While with cold and fright, their hearts were like to break.
Not a word or a shriek came from Mrs Lingard, the Captain's wife,
While she pressed her child to her bosom, as dear she loved her life;
Still the water dashed over them again and again,
And about one o'clock, the boy, Hall, began to complain.
Then Mrs Lingard put his cold hands into her bosom,
To warm them because with cold he was almost frozen,
And at the same time clasping her child Hilda to her breast,
While the poor boy Hall closely to her prest.
And there the poor creatures lay huddled together with fear,
And the weary night seemed to them more like a year,
And they saw the natives kindling fires on the shore,
To frighten wild animals away, that had begun to roar.
Still the big waves broke over them, which caused them to exclaim,
Oh! God, do thou save us for we are suffering pain;
But, alas, the prayers they uttered were all in vain,
Because the boy Hall and Jonson were swept from the wreck and never rose again.
Then bit by bit the vessel broke up, and Norberg was swept away,
Which filled the rest of the survivors hearts with great dismay;
But at length the longed for morning dawned at last,
Still with hair streaming in the wind, Mrs Lingard to the wreck held fast.
Then Captain Lingard still held on with Lucy in his arms,
Endeavouring to pacify the child from the storms alarms;
And at last the poor child's spirits began to sink,
And she cried in pitiful accents, papa! papa! give me a drink.
And in blank amazement the Captain looked all round about,
And he cried Lucy dear I cannot find you a drink I doubt,
Unless my child God sends it to you,
Then he sank crying Lucy, my dear child, and wife, adieu! adieu!
'Twas then a big wave swept Lucy and the Carpenter away,
Which filled Mrs Lingard's heart with great dismay,
And she cried Mr Jonson my dear husband and child are gone,
But still she held to the wreck while the big waves rolled on.
For about 38 hours they suffered on the wreck,
At length they saw a little boat which seemed like a speck,
Making towards them on the top of a wave,
Buffetting with the billows fearlessly and brave.
And when the boat to them drew near,
Poor souls they gave a feeble cheer,
While the hurricane blew loud and wild,
Yet the crew succeeded in saving Mrs Lingard and her child.
Also, the Steward and two sailors named Christophers and Eversen,
Able-bodied and expert brave seamen.
And they were all taken to a French Doctor's and attended to,
And they caught the yellow fever, but the Lord brought them through.
And on the 6th of December they embarked on board the ship Moselle,
All in high spirits, and in health very well,
And arrived at Southampton on the 29th of December,
A day which the survivors will long remember.
The Character Of Holland
Holland, that scarce deserves the name of Land,
As but th'Off-scouring of the Brittish Sand;
And so much Earth as was contributed
By English Pilots when they heav'd the Lead;
Or what by th' Oceans slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrackt Cockle and the Muscle-shell;
This indigested vomit of the Sea
Fell to the Dutch by just Propriety.
Glad then, as Miners that have found the Oar,
They with mad labour fish'd the Land to Shoar;
And div'd as desperately for each piece
Of Earth, as if't had been of Ambergreece;
Collecting anxiously small Loads of Clay,
Less then what building Swallows bear away;
Transfursing into them their Dunghil Soul.
How did they rivet, with Gigantick Piles,
Thorough the Center their new-catched Miles;
And to the stake a strugling Country bound,
Where barking Waves still bait the forced Ground;
Building their watry Babel far more high
To reach the Sea, then those to scale the Sky.
Yet still his claim the Injur'd Ocean laid,
And oft at Leap-frog ore their Steeples plaid:
As if on purpose it on Land had come
To shew them what's their Mare Liberum.
A daily deluge over them does boyl;
The Earth and Water play at Level-coyl;
The Fish oft-times the Burger dispossest,
And sat not as a Meat but as a Guest;
And oft the Tritons and the Sea-Nymphs saw
Whole sholes of Dutch serv'd up for Cabillan;
Or as they over the new Level rang'd
For pickled Herring, pickled Heeren chang'd.
Nature, it seem'd, asham'd of her mistake,
Would throw their land away at Duck and Drake.
Therefore Necessity, that first made Kings,
Something like Government among them brings.
For as with Pygmees who best kills the Crane,
Among the hungry he that treasures Grain,
Among the blind the one-ey'd blinkard reigns,
So rules among the drowned he that draines.
Not who first see the rising Sun commands,
But who could first discern the rising Lands.
Who best could know to pump an Earth so leak
Him they their Lord and Country's Father speak.
To make a Bank was a great Plot of State;
Invent a Shov'l and be a Magistrate.
Hence some small Dyke-grave unperceiv'd invades
The Pow'r, and grows as 'twere a King of Spades.
But for less envy some Joynt States endures,
Who look like a Commission of the Sewers.
For these Half-anders, half wet, and half dry,
Nor bear strict service, nor pure Liberty.
'Tis probable Religion after this
Came next in order; which they could not miss.
How could the Dutch but be converted, when
Th' Apostles were so many Fishermen?
Besides the Waters of themselves did rise,
And, as their Land, so them did re-baptise.
Though Herring for their God few voices mist,
And Poor-John to have been th' Evangelist.
Faith, that could never Twins conceive before,
Never so fertile, spawn'd upon this shore:
More pregnant then their Marg'ret, that laid down
For Hans-in-Kelder of a whole Hans-Town.
Sure when Religion did it self imbark,
And from the east would Westward steer its Ark,
It struck, and splitting on this unknown ground,
Each one thence pillag'd the first piece he found:
Hence Amsterdam, Turk-Christian-Pagan-Jew,
Staple of Sects and Mint of Schisme grew;
That Bank of Conscience, where not one so strange
Opinion but finds Credit, and Exchange.
In vain for Catholicks our selves we bear;
The Universal Church is onely there.
Nor can Civility there want for Tillage,
Where wisely for their Court they chose a Village.
How fit a Title clothes their Governours,
Themselves the Hogs as all their Subjects Bores
Let it suffice to give their Country Fame
That it had one Civilis call'd by Name,
Some Fifteen hundred and more years ago,
But surely never any that was so.
See but their Mairmaids with their Tails of Fish,
Reeking at Church over the Chafing-Dish.
A vestal Turf enshrin'd in Earthen Ware
Fumes through the loop-holes of wooden Square.
Each to the Temple with these Altars tend,
But still does place it at her Western End:
While the fat steam of Female Sacrifice
Fills the Priests Nostrils and puts out his Eyes.
Or what a Spectacle the Skipper gross,
A Water-Hercules Butter-Coloss,
Tunn'd up with all their sev'ral Towns of Beer;
When Stagg'ring upon some Land, Snick and Sneer,
They try, like Statuaries, if they can,
Cut out each others Athos to a Man:
And carve in their large Bodies, where they please,
The Armes of the United Provinces.
But when such Amity at home is show'd;
What then are their confederacies abroad?
Let this one court'sie witness all the rest;
When their hole Navy they together prest,
Not Christian Captives to redeem from Bands:
Or intercept the Western golden Sands:
No, but all ancient Rights and Leagues must vail,
Rather then to the English strike their sail;
to whom their weather-beaten Province ows
It self, when as some greater Vessal tows
A Cock-boat tost with the same wind and fate;
We buoy'd so often up their Sinking State.
Was this Jus Belli & Pacis; could this be
Cause why their Burgomaster of the Sea
Ram'd with Gun-powder, flaming with Brand wine,
Should raging hold his Linstock to the Mine?
While, with feign'd Treaties, they invade by stealth
Our sore new circumcised Common wealth.
Yet of his vain Attempt no more he sees
Then of Case-Butter shot and Bullet-Cheese.
And the torn Navy stagger'd with him home,
While the Sea laught it self into a foam,
'Tis true since that (as fortune kindly sports,)
A wholesome Danger drove us to our ports.
While half their banish'd keels the Tempest tost,
Half bound at home in Prison to the frost:
That ours mean time at leisure might careen,
In a calm Winter, under Skies Serene.
As the obsequious Air and waters rest,
Till the dear Halcyon hatch out all its nest.
The Common wealth doth by its losses grow;
And, like its own Seas, only Ebbs to flow.
Besides that very Agitation laves,
And purges out the corruptible waves.
And now again our armed Bucentore
Doth yearly their Sea-Nuptials restore.
And how the Hydra of seaven Provinces
Is strangled by our Infant Hercules.
Their Tortoise wants its vainly stretched neck;
Their Navy all our Conquest or our Wreck:
Or, what is left, their Carthage overcome
Would render fain unto our better Rome.
Unless our Senate, lest their Youth disuse,
The War, (but who would) Peace if begg'd refuse.
For now of nothing may our State despair,
Darling of Heaven, and of Men the Care;
Provided that they be what they have been,
Watchful abroad, and honest still within.
For while our Neptune doth a Trident shake, Blake,
Steel'd with those piercing Heads, Dean, Monck and
And while Jove governs in the highest Sphere,
Vainly in Hell let Pluto domineer.
Bell's Palsy VIII - From Hale to Pale
Bell's Palsy VIII - From Hale to Pale
Transpiration rains, stains sheets
as fiery fever overheats,
resistance encounters fixèd frown
as shivers flow from toe to crown.
Flesh challenges a viral band
subcutaneous and underhand.
From hale to pale man's tale must meet
trail end conclusion with heartbeats
accelerating 'til, peaks spanned,
the pulse falls silent, pride unmanned.
To other matters turns a town
whose wit walls tall Time whittles down.
Hope's promises spin scope's deceits,
will's health spills wealth, itself defeats,
to common earth uncommon noun
descends, all ends, worms' winding gown.
No guarantees, none understand
Canute's complaint, tide's vain command.
Mind wanders, speech seems out of reach
to numb lips dumb, example teach
of soundless song, numb tongue can't preach.
Imagination plays the clown
with hopes and fears, tears can't course down
for lachrymosal saraband
well tainted, dries, laments waste land.
4 December 2007 revised 9 January 2009
Bell's Palsy IX - Unexpected
The blow fell unexpectedly. Through senses
stablized, peripheral vision dropped,
s[l]ight blurring, palsy light, field, focus cropped,
by hanging eyelid slack. One lacked defences.
The body, ill-prepared, lost eye lined fences
symetrical because some muscles stopped
reflex reflections, on the hop caught, flopped
out dry-eyed. For most, the shock immense is.
Hospital - with zero sum expenses -
in Paris proved eye-opener when chopped
capacity de[p]leted. For who've shopped
around for cheap insurance, confidence is
dependant upon damage to the brain
until luck sets the record straight again.
4 December 2007 slightly revised 9 January 2009
Bell's Palsy X - Date With Ephemerality
Death draws our existential veil ajar
As far too close for comfort end appears
To jar hour conscious introspection, clears
External trappings' deck of pimped pomp's power.
Will fades as spade cold ashes stirs. Spark's char
Is comfort cold indeed. Tomorrow fears
Today's pearled sweat beads lead to heedless bier.
Hope, scope, ambitions, fall as shooting star
Evanescence illustrates - space-bar
Perpetuation mocks as farce, 'tis clear,
Hence now, tomorrow nothing, presses here.
EMotions on Time's oceans fade afar.
ERA over, memory departs,
LIfe That Yearns Time spurns, fresh cycle starts.
4 December 2007
Bell's Palsy XI - Schemes Dreamed
Before the clock rang four nine sonnets sprang
spontaneous as rain on window pane
drummed up old drams while drowning out cold pain,
symphonic salvoes which strange pattern sang.
Mouth, paralysed, retained an acrid tang,
mind free, yet captive, found both loss and gain,
schemes dreamed to conjur up lost wit again,
discomfort caught, dismissed eye's mist, lip's hang.
Nor cause for whimpers, nor earth-shaking bang,
life side tied, right maintains refrain
in sonnet write from which one can't refrain,
ignoring rhyme rules homonyms would ban.
Beside a lamplit bed one, shadowed, lies,
Another bed, with other ties, sad sighs.
5 December 2007
Bell's Palsy XII - On Dort
Numb, number seven optic nerve
from sacred mission seemed to swerve,
no forewarning was observed,
nor premonition ere encore.
Facial features paralysed,
symetry quite jeopordized,
lip and eye anaesthetized,
and no volition, so 'on dort'.
5 December 2007
Bell's Palsy XIII - Virus, Virus
Virus, virus striking fast,
will you get your man at last?
brush his pomp and pride away,
no tomorrow for today?
In life's nerveless nervy vale
gods and goods prove no avail.
What withstands bands viral? Use
of eye and mouth the fates refuse,
as what once bloomed for one sweet hour
finds doomed, entombed, its finite power.
Palsy puts an end to winking,
but it should not stop one thinking,
There is something missing, missing,
where mouth, unmoving, miss kissing.
Eyelid slack, blue view unblinking,
tearless turns upon scene drinking
in absudity cross-crissing
reference points, all bliss dismissing.
Virus, virus failing fast,
crisis now seems over, passed
to other eyes, their season seize
with seizure he who sees soon flees.
Although one week, weak overcast
impatient patient lay downcast,
modern medicine soon frees
the system from discomfort's freeze
as tears cascade to show again
that happiness may flow sans peine.
5 December 2007 revised and expanded 9 January 2009
Bell's Palsy 1 Penned stroke on stroke penned - Optimistic In...Sight
December turns November's page.
priorities, age must reguage
of ease so superficial
the tenets, try to disengage
from palsy interstitial,
periphery extend sans rage
Paralysis as passing stage
perceived though prejudicial
as challenge met we trust will wage
war on clock lock official,
ensuring both for sot and sage
return to strength initial
(c) Jonathan Robin written written 3 December 2007 following a minor Bell's Palsy stroke 30 November 2007 no° 1 of a series of variations on a theme. Joint copyright extended to the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet http: //www.icdri.org
Bell ’s Palsy II – Number Seven Optic Nerve
Number seven optic nerve, now numb,
taken for granted, normally ignored,
leaves facial features slanted. Voice, not dumb,
answers questions with weak monochord.
Flesh elastic flaccid has become,
control relinquished, hanging on a word.
Vision peripheral blurred. Though rule of thumb
Provides for time-line, faculties restored,
Frustration, hope, play hide-and-seek, mind glum,
stares awry at some lop-sided smile. Record
of former glory plays back yet stays mum.
May this as an example serve, health granted
For future learning curve can’t be transplanted.
3 December 2007 revised 8 August 2008
Bell's Palsy III - Recounting Countdown
Ache, Pain, Depression, urgently await
attention as emergencies are laid
side by side, some prostrate, some afraid,
upon their stretchers shored by metal gate.
Space occupied all patients would vacate
but hold their breath in queue, minds dwell on spade,
'til rest for good or evil is repaid
as egos and identities deflate.
One stroke starts life, one more: it is too late
to draw conclusions, seek to be obeyed,
order, plan, or question fate, for, frayed,
lifes braid unravels, saint and reprobate
have date with waters of forgetfulness,
all waves goodbye. 'Unknown at that address.'
3 December 2007
Bell's Palsy IV - Shocks and Spills
There seems no antidotage panacea
reversing wrinkles, shrinkles, age's ills.
Alzheimer and ten thousand shocks and spills
'that flesh is heir to' when sense slows, goes queer.
Alert at ninety, by all near held dear,
is not the common lot, sight fails, slight chills
mutate despite most modern doctors' wills.
None stem time's tide. Horizons disappear.
Thus treat each day as treat, ignoring fear
and angst that fear of fear itself instills
as petal power from past pride's flower fills
time's rills as, falling, death's felt calling near.
Paralysis if temporary finds
incentive to reboot inventive minds.
4 December 2007 revised 9 January 2009
Bell's Palsy V - Perpetual Paradox
Tomorrow and tomorrow once appeared
to set [h]our petty pace 'til end of time,
where openly men close door showing climb
must fall precede, all seed from cropped corn sheared.
To slime returns those who, too highly geared,
presume on life's lease until palsy's rhyme -
Bell rung, wrung peace, piecemeal cut off in prime.
Paradox perpetual, decks cleared,
stage silent, godless or godfearing jeered,
or curtain cheered at end of pantomime,
no castle under lime, soaked sods turn grime
to mock man's half-cock pride ride disappeared.
No longer cocky, finite jokes, choked, fade,
Cock crows, then silence, banter's banner frayed.
4 December 2007 revised 8 August 2008
Bell's Palsy VI - The Years
Challenge met, or coward debt, the years
inter regrets, bets lost or won. Fame flamed
soon's watered down, crown tumbled, wild time tamed.
Abandonned aims, irrelevance, tapped tears
exchange youth's free spring for shoe-string trapped fears
with all but self unjustifiably blamed
through insecurity or shame self-shamed.
First wait, then weight, agenda filled soon clears,
slate empty, sleight of hand forgotten, biers
prepared as palsy claims both hale and maimed,
'to sleep perchance to dream', game unacclaimed,
today here, gone tomorrow, sorrow steers
triumph towards forgetfulness, ignored
are shallow minds, emotions deep outpoured.
4 December 2007 revised 9 January 2009
Bell's Palsy VII - Unwinking Wit
Who once dissolved defenses, insight deep,
now lies constrained, can't set smile's record straight,
remains in limbo, rhyming wait with weight,
while unresponsive muscles seek lost sleep.
Awake, asleep, dry eye must ever peep,
asleep, awake, lop-sided lips mouth late
and early struggle to articulate.
Paralysis struck swiftly, on guard keep
a wary eye while weary brain can't weep,
aware must wait while nearve link reprobate
plays tricks twixt life and Styx, active, probate.
Wit winks while eyelid left behind can't creep.
Two thirds recuperation prognosis
seems lot or little turning on Fate's kiss.
4 December 2007
She stood at Greenwich, motionless amid
The ever-shifting crowd of passengers.
I marked a big tear quivering on the lid
Of her deep-lustrous eye, and knew that hers
Were days of bitterness. But, 'Oh! what stirs'
I said 'such storm within so fair a breast?'
Even as I spoke, two apoplectic curs
Came feebly up: with one wild cry she prest
Each singly to her heart, and faltered, 'Heaven be blest!'
Yet once again I saw her, from the deck
Of a black ship that steamed towards Blackwall.
She walked upon MY FIRST. Her stately neck
Bent o'er an object shrouded in her shawl:
I could not see the tears--the glad tears--fall,
Yet knew they fell. And 'Ah,' I said, 'not puppies,
Seen unexpectedly, could lift the pall
From hearts who KNOW what tasting misery's cup is,
As Niobe's, or mine, or Mr. William Guppy's.'
* * *
Spake John Grogblossom the coachman to Eliza Spinks the cook:
'Mrs. Spinks,' says he, 'I've foundered: 'Liza dear, I'm overtook.
Druv into a corner reglar, puzzled as a babe unborn;
Speak the word, my blessed 'Liza; speak, and John the coachman's yourn.'
Then Eliza Spinks made answer, blushing, to the coachman John:
'John, I'm born and bred a spinster: I've begun and I'll go on.
Endless cares and endless worrits, well I knows it, has a wife:
Cooking for a genteel family, John, it's a goluptious life!
'I gets 20 pounds per annum--tea and things o' course not reckoned, -
There's a cat that eats the butter, takes the coals, and breaks MY
There's soci'ty--James the footman;--(not that I look after him;
But he's aff'ble in his manners, with amazing length of limb -
'Never durst the missis enter here until I've said 'Come in':
If I saw the master peeping, I'd catch up the rolling-pin.
Christmas-boxes, that's a something; perkisites, that's something too;
And I think, take all together, John, I won't be on with you.'
John the coachman took his hat up, for he thought he'd had enough;
Rubbed an elongated forehead with a meditative cuff;
Paused before the stable doorway; said, when there, in accents mild,
'She's a fine young 'oman, cook is; but that's where it is, she's
* * *
I have read in some not marvellous tale,
(Or if I have not, I've dreamed)
Of one who filled up the convivial cup
Till the company round him seemed
To be vanished and gone, tho' the lamps upon
Their face as aforetime gleamed:
And his head sunk down, and a Lethe crept
O'er his powerful brain, and the young man slept.
Then they laid him with care in his moonlit bed:
But first--having thoughtfully fetched some tar -
Adorned him with feathers, aware that the weather's
Uncertainty brings on at nights catarrh.
They staid in his room till the sun was high:
But still did the feathered one give no sign
Of opening a peeper--he might be a sleeper
Such as rests on the Northern or Midland line.
At last he woke, and with profound
Bewilderment he gazed around;
Dropped one, then both feet to the ground,
But never spake a word:
Then to my WHOLE he made his way;
Took one long lingering survey;
And softly, as he stole away,
Remarked, 'By Jove, a bird!'
If you've seen a short man swagger tow'rds the footlights at Shoreditch,
Sing out 'Heave aho! my hearties,' and perpetually hitch
Up, by an ingenious movement, trousers innocent of brace,
Briskly flourishing a cudgel in his pleased companion's face;
If he preluded with hornpipes each successive thing he did,
From a sun-browned cheek extracting still an ostentatious quid;
And expectorated freely, and occasionally cursed:-
Then have you beheld, depicted by a master's hand, MY FIRST.
O my countryman! if ever from thy arm the bolster sped,
In thy school-days, with precision at a young companion's head;
If 'twas thine to lodge the marble in the centre of the ring,
Or with well-directed pebble make the sitting hen take wing:
Then do thou--each fair May morning, when the blue lake is as glass,
And the gossamers are twinkling star-like in the beaded grass;
When the mountain-bee is sipping fragrance from the bluebell's lip,
And the bathing-woman tells you, Now's your time to take a dip:
When along the misty valleys fieldward winds the lowing herd,
And the early worm is being dropped on by the early bird;
And Aurora hangs her jewels from the bending rose's cup,
And the myriad voice of Nature calls thee to MY SECOND up:-
Hie thee to the breezy common, where the melancholy goose
Stalks, and the astonished donkey finds that he is really loose;
There amid green fern and furze-bush shalt thou soon MY WHOLE behold,
Rising 'bull-eyed and majestic'--as Olympus queen of old:
Kneel,--at a respectful distance,--as they kneeled to her, and try
With judicious hand to put a ball into that ball-less eye:
Till a stiffness seize thy elbows, and the general public wake -
Then return, and, clear of conscience, walk into thy well-earned steak.
Ere yet 'knowledge for the million'
Came out 'neatly bound in boards;'
When like Care upon a pillion
Matrons rode behind their lords:
Rarely, save to hear the Rector,
Forth did younger ladies roam;
Making pies, and brewing nectar
From the gooseberry-trees at home.
They'd not dreamed of Pan or Vevay;
Ne'er should into blossom burst
At the ball or at the levee;
Never come, in fact, MY FIRST:
Nor illumine cards by dozens
With some labyrinthine text,
Nor work smoking-caps for cousins
Who were pounding at MY NEXT.
Now have skirts, and minds, grown ampler;
Now not all they seek to do
Is create upon a sampler
Beasts which Buffon never knew:
But their venturous muslins rustle
O'er the cragstone and the snow,
Or at home their biceps muscle
Grows by practising the bow.
Worthier they those dames who, fable
Says, rode 'palfreys' to the war
With gigantic Thanes, whose 'sable
Destriers caracoled' before;
Smiled, as--springing from the war-horse
As men spring in modern 'cirques' -
They plunged, ponderous as a four-horse
Coach, among the vanished Turks:-
In the good times when the jester
Asked the monarch how he was,
And the landlady addrest her
Guests as 'gossip' or as 'coz';
When the Templar said, 'Gramercy,'
Or, ''Twas shrewdly thrust, i' fegs,'
To Sir Halbert or Sir Percy
As they knocked him off his legs:
And, by way of mild reminders
That he needed coin, the Knight
Day by day extracted grinders
From the howling Israelite:
And MY WHOLE in merry Sherwood
Sent, with preterhuman luck,
Missiles--not of steel but firwood -
Thro' the two-mile-distant buck.
Evening threw soberer hue
Over the blue sky, and the few
Poplars that grew just in the view
Of the hall of Sir Hugo de Wynkle:
'Answer me true,' pleaded Sir Hugh,
(Striving to woo no matter who,)
'What shall I do, Lady, for you?
'Twill be done, ere your eye may twinkle.
Shall I borrow the wand of a Moorish enchanter,
And bid a decanter contain the Levant, or
The brass from the face of a Mormonite ranter?
Shall I go for the mule of the Spanish Infantar -
(That _R_, for the sake of the line, we must grant her,) -
And race with the foul fiend, and beat in a canter,
Like that first of equestrians Tam o' Shanter?
I talk not mere banter--say not that I can't, or
By this MY FIRST--(a Virginia planter
Sold it me to kill rats)--I will die instanter.'
The Lady bended her ivory neck, and
Whispered mournfully, 'Go for--MY SECOND.'
She said, and the red from Sir Hugh's cheek fled,
And 'Nay,' did he say, as he stalked away
The fiercest of injured men:
'Twice have I humbled my haughty soul,
And on bended knee I have pressed MY WHOLE -
But I never will press it again!'
On pinnacled St. Mary's
Lingers the setting sun;
Into the street the blackguards
Are skulking one by one:
Butcher and Boots and Bargeman
Lay pipe and pewter down;
And with wild shout come tumbling out
To join the Town and Gown.
And now the undergraduates
Come forth by twos and threes,
From the broad tower of Trinity,
From the green gate of Caius:
The wily bargeman marks them,
And swears to do his worst;
To turn to impotence their strength,
And their beauty to MY FIRST.
But before Corpus gateway
MY SECOND first arose,
When Barnacles the freshman
Was pinned upon the nose:
Pinned on the nose by Boxer,
Who brought a hobnailed herd
From Barnwell, where he kept a van,
Being indeed a dogsmeat man,
Vendor of terriers, blue or tan,
And dealer in MY THIRD.
'Twere long to tell how Boxer
Was 'countered' on the cheek,
And knocked into the middle
Of the ensuing week:
How Barnacles the Freshman
Was asked his name and college;
And how he did the fatal facts
He called upon the Proctor
Next day at half-past ten;
Men whispered that the Freshman cut
A different figure then:-
That the brass forsook his forehead,
The iron fled his soul,
As with blanched lip and visage wan
Before the stony-hearted Don
He kneeled upon MY WHOLE.
Sikes, housebreaker, of Houndsditch,
But so surpassingly profane
He never was before,
As on a night in winter,
When--softly as he stole
In the dim light from stair to stair,
Noiseless as boys who in her lair
Seek to surprise a fat old hare -
He barked his shinbone, unaware
Encountering MY WHOLE.
As pours the Anio plainward,
When rains have swollen the dykes,
So, with such noise, poured down MY FIRST,
Stirred by the shins of Sikes.
The Butler Bibulus heard it;
And straightway ceased to snore,
And sat up, like an egg on end,
While men might count a score:
Then spake he to Tigerius,
A Buttons bold was he:
'Buttons, I think there's thieves about;
Just strike a light and tumble out;
If you can't find one, go without,
And see what you may see.'
But now was all the household,
Almost, upon its legs,
Each treading carefully about
As if they trod on eggs.
With robe far-streaming issued
And close behind him,--stout and true
And tender as the North, -
Came Mrs. P., supporting
On her broad arm her fourth.
Betsy the nurse, who never
From largest beetle ran,
And--conscious p'raps of pleasing caps -
The housemaids, formed the van:
And Bibulus the Butler,
His calm brows slightly arched;
(No mortal wight had ere that night
Seen him with shirt unstarched
And Bob, the shockhaired knifeboy,
Wielding two Sheffield blades,
And James Plush of the sinewy legs,
The love of lady's maids:
And charwoman and chaplain
Stood mingled in a mass,
And 'Things,' thought he of Houndsditch,
'Is come to a pretty pass.'
Beyond all things a Baby
Is to the schoolgirl dear;
Next to herself the nursemaid loves
Her dashing grenadier;
Only with life the sailor
Parts from the British flag;
While one hope lingers, the cracksman's fingers
Drop not his hard-earned 'swag.'
But, as hares do MY SECOND
Thro' green Calabria's copses,
As females vanish at the sight
Of short-horns and of wopses;
So, dropping forks and teaspoons,
The pride of Houndsditch fled,
Dumbfoundered by the hue and cry
He'd raised up overhead.
* * *
They gave him--did the Judges -
As much as was his due.
And, Saxon, should'st thou e'er be led
To deem this tale untrue;
Then--any night in winter,
When the cold north wind blows,
And bairns are told to keep out cold
By tallowing the nose:
When round the fire the elders
Are gathered in a bunch,
And the girls are doing crochet,
And the boys are reading Punch:-
Go thou and look in Leech's book;
There haply shalt thou spy
A stout man on a staircase stand,
With aspect anything but bland,
And rub his right shin with his hand,
To witness if I lie.
A Lay of St. Gengulphus
'Non multo post, Gengulphus, in domo sua dormiens, occisus est a quodam clerico qui cum uxore sua adulterare solebat. Cujus corpus dum in fereto in sepulturam portaretur, multi infirmi de tactu sanati sunt.'
'Cum hoc illius uxori referretur ab ancilla sua, scilicet dominum suum quam martyrem sanctum miracula facere, irridens illa, et subsurrans, ait, 'Ita Gengulphus miracula facitat ut pulvinarium meum cantat,' &c. &c.-- Wolfii Memorab.
Gengulphus comes from the Holy Land,
With his scrip, and his bottle, and sandal shoon;
Full many a day has he been away,
Yet his Lady deems him return'd full soon.
Full many a day has he been away,
Yet scarce had he crossed ayont the sea,
Ere a spruce young spark of a Learned Clerk
Had called on his Lady and stopp'd to tea.
This spruce young guest, so trimly drest,
Stay'd with that Lady, her revels to crown;
They laugh'd; and they ate, and they drank of the best,
And they turn'd the old Castle quite upside down.
They would walk in the park, that spruce young Clerk,
With that frolicsome Lady so frank and free,
Trying balls and plays, and all manner of ways,
To get rid of what French people call Ennui.
Now the festive board, with viands is stored,
Savoury dishes be there, I ween,
Rich puddings and big, and a barbecued pig,
And oxtail soup in a China tureen.
There's a flagon of ale as large as a pail --
When, cockle on hat, and staff in hand,
While on nought they are thinking save eating and drinking,
Gengulphus walks in from the Holy Land!
'You must be pretty deep to catch weazels asleep,'
Says the proverb: that is, 'take the Fair unawares;'
A maid, o'er the banisters chancing to peep,
Whispers, 'Ma'am, here's Gengulphus a-coming upstairs.'
Pig, pudding, and soup, the electrified group,
With the flagon, pop under the sofa in haste,
And contrive to deposit the Clerk in the closet,
As the dish least of all to Gengulphus's taste.
Then oh! what rapture, what joy was exprest,
When 'poor dear Gengulphus' at last appear'd!
She kiss'd, and she press'd 'the dear man' to her breast,
In spite of his great, long, frizzly beard.
Such hugging and squeezing! 'twas almost unpleasing,
A smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye;
She was so very glad, that she seem'd half mad,
And did not know whether to laugh or to cry.
Then she calls up the maid, and the table cloth's laid,
And she sends for a pint of the best Brown Stout;
On the fire, too, she pops some nice mutton chops,
And she mixes a stiff glass of 'Cold Without.'
Then again she began at the 'poor dear' man;
She press'd him to drink, and she press'd him to eat,
And she brought a foot-pan with hot water and bran,
To comfort his 'poor dear' travel-worn feet.
'Nor night nor day since he'd been away,
Had she had any rest' she 'vow'd and declared.'
She 'never could eat one morsel of meat,
For thinking how 'poor dear' Gengulphus fared.'
She 'really did think she had not slept a wink
Since he left her, although he'd been absent so long.'
He here shook his head,-- right little he said;
But he thought she was 'coming it rather too strong.'
Now his palate she tickles with the chops and the pickles,
Till, so great the effect of that stiff gin grog,
His weaken'd body, subdued by the toddy,
Falls out of the chair, and he lies like a log.
Then out comes the Clerk from his secret lair;
He lifts up the legs, and she raises the head,
And, between them, this most reprehensible pair
Undress poor Gengulphus, and put him to bed.
Then the bolster they place athwart his face,
And his night-cap into his mouth they cram;
And she pinches his nose underneath the clothes,
Till the 'poor dear soul' went off like a lamb.
And now they try'd the deed to hide;
For a little bird whisper'd, 'Perchance you may swing;
Here's a corpse in the case with a sad swell'd face,
And a 'Crowner's Quest' is a queer sort of thing!'
So the Clerk and the Wife, they each took a knife,
And the nippers that nipp'd the loaf-sugar for tea;
With the edges and points they sever'd the joints
At the clavicle, elbow, hip, ankle, and knee.
Thus, limb from limb, they dismember'd him
So entirely, that e'en when they came to his wrists,
With those great sugar nippers they nipp'd off his 'flippers,'
As the Clerk, very flippantly, term'd his fists.
When they'd cut off his head, entertaining a dread
Lest folks should remember Gengulphus's face,
They determined to throw it, where no one could know it,
Down the well, and the limbs in some different place.
But first the long beard from the chin they shear'd,
And managed to stuff that sanctified hair,
With a good deal of pushing, all into the cushion,
That filled up the seat of a large arm-chair.
They contrived to pack up the trunk in a sack,
Which they hid in an osier-bed outside the town,
The Clerk bearing arms, legs, and all on his back,
As the late Mr. Greenacre served Mrs. Brown.
But to see now how strangely things sometimes turn out,
And that in a manner the least expected!
Who could surmise a man ever could rise
Who'd been thus carbonado'd, cut up, and dissected?
No doubt 'twould surprise the pupils at Guy's;
I am no unbeliever -- no man can say that o' me --
But St. Thomas himself would scarce trust his own eyes,
If he saw such a thing in his School of Anatomy.
You may deal as you please with Hindoos or Chinese,
Or a Mussulman making his heathen salaam, or
A Jew or a Turk, but it's other guess work
When a man has to do with a Pilgrim or Palmer.
By chance the Prince Bishop, a Royal Divine,
Sends his cards round the neighbourhood next day, and urges his
Wish to receive a snug party to dine
Of the resident clergy, the gentry, and burgesses.
At a quarter past five they are all alive
At the palace, for coaches are fast rolling in;
And to every guest his card had expressed
'Half past' as the hour for 'a greasy chin.'
Some thirty are seated, and handsomely treated
With the choicest Rhine wines in his Highness's stock;
When a Count of the Empire, who felt himself heated,
Requested some water to mix with his Hock.
The Butler, who saw it, sent a maid out to draw it,
But scarce had she given the windlass a twirl,
Ere Gengulphus's head from the well's bottom said
In mild accents, 'Do help us out, that's a good girl!'
Only fancy her dread when she saw a great head
In her bucket;-- with fright she was ready to drop:--
Conceive, if you can, how she roar'd and she ran,
With the head rolling after her bawling out 'Stop!'
She ran and she roar'd till she came to the board
Where the Prince Bishop sat with his party around,
When Gengulphus's poll, which continued to roll
At her heels, on the table bounced up with a bound.
Never touching the cates, or the dishes or plates,
The decanters or glasses, the sweetmeats or fruits,
The head smiles, and begs them to bring him his legs,
As a well-spoken gentleman asks for his boots.
Kicking open the casement, to each one's amazement,
Straight a right leg steps in, all impediment scorns,
And near the head stopping, a left follows hopping
Behind,-- for the left Leg was troubled with corns.
Next, before the beholders, two great brawny shoulders,
And arms on their bent elbows dance through the throng,
While two hands assist, though nipped off at the wrist,
The said shoulders in bearing a body along.
They march up to the head, not one syllable said,
For the thirty guests all stare in wonder and doubt,
As the limbs in their sight arrange and unite,
Till Gengulphus, though dead, looks as sound as a trout.
I will venture to say, from that hour to this day,
Ne'er did such an assembly behold such a scene;
Or a table divide fifteen guests of a side
With a dead body placed in the centre between.
Yes, they stared -- well they might at so novel a sight:
No one uttered a whisper, a sneeze, or a hem,
But sat all bolt upright, and pale with affright;
And they gazed at the dead man, the dead man at them.
The Prince Bishop's Jester, on punning intent,
As he view'd the whole thirty, in jocular terms
Said, 'They put him in mind of a Council of Trente
Engaged in reviewing the Diet of Worms.'
But what should they do?-- Oh! nobody knew
What was best to be done, either stranger or resident.
The Chancellor's self read his Puffendorf through
In vain, for his books could not furnish a precedent.
The Prince Bishop muttered a curse and a prayer,
Which his double capacity hit to a nicety;
His Princely, or Lay half induced him to swear,
His Episcopal moiety said 'Benedicite!'
The Coroner sat on the body that night,
And the jury agreed,-- not a doubt could they harbour,--
'That the chin of the corpse -- the sole thing brought to light --
Had been recently shaved by a very bad barber.'
They sent out Von Taünsend, Von Bürnie, Von Roe,
Von Maine, and Von Rowantz -- through châlets and châteaux,
Towns, villages, hamlets, they told them to go,
And they stuck up placards on the walls of the Stadthaus.
Whereas, a dead Gentleman, surname unknown,
Has been recently found at his Highness's banquet,
Rather shabbily drest in an Amice, or gown
In appearance resembling a second-hand blanket;
'And Whereas, there's great reason indeed to suspect
That some ill-disposed person or persons, with malice
Aforethought, have kill'd and begun to dissect
The said Gentleman, not very far from the palace;
'This is to give notice!-- Whoever shall seize,
And such person or persons to justice surrender,
Shall receive -- such Reward -- as his Highness shall please
On conviction of him, the aforesaid offender.
'And, in order the matter more clearly to trace
To the bottom, his Highness, the Prince Bishop, further,
Of his clemency, offers free Pardon and Grace
To all such as have not been concern'd in the murther.
'Done this day, at our palace,-- July twenty-five,--
(Signed) Johann Von Rüssell. N.B.
Deceased rather in years -- had a squint when alive;
And smells slightly of gin -- linen mark'd with a G.'
The Newspapers, too, made no little ado,
Though a different version each managed to dish up;
Some said 'the Prince Bishop had run a man through,'
Others said 'an assassin had kill'd the Prince Bishop.'
The 'Ghent Herald' fell foul of the 'Bruxelles Gazette,'
The 'Bruxelles Gazette,' with much sneering ironical,
Scorn'd to remain in the 'Ghent Herald's' debt,
And the 'Amsterdam Times' quizzed the 'Nuremberg Chronicle.'
In one thing, indeed, all the journals agreed,
Spite of 'politics,' 'bias,' or 'party collision;'
Viz: to 'give,' when they'd 'further accounts' of the deed,
'Full particulars' soon, in 'a later Edition.'
But now, while on all sides they rode and they ran,
Trying all sorts of means to discover the caitiffs,
Losing patience, the holy Gengulphus began
To think it high time to 'astonish the natives.'
First, a Rittmeister's Frau, who was weak in both eyes,
And supposed the most short-sighted woman in Holland,
Found greater relief, to her joy and surprize,
From one glimpse of his 'squint' than from glasses by Dollond.
By the slightest approach to the tip of his Nose,
Megrims, headache, and vapours were put to the rout;
And one single touch of his precious Great Toes
Was a certain specific for chilblains and gout.
Rheumatics,-- sciatica,-- tic-douloureux!
Apply to his shin-bones -- not one of them lingers;--
All bilious complaints in an instant withdrew,
If the patient was tickled with one of his fingers.
Much virtue was found to reside in his thumbs;
When applied to the chest, they cured scantness of breathing,
Sea-sickness, and colick; or, rubbed on the gums,
Were remarkably soothing to infants in teething.
Whoever saluted the nape of his neck,
Where the mark remained visible still of the knife,
Notwithstanding east winds perspiration might check,
Was safe from sore-throat for the rest of his life.
Thus, while each acute, and each chronic complaint,
Giving way, proved an influence clearly divine,
They perceived the dead Gentleman must be a Saint,
So they lock'd him up, body and bones, in a shrine.
Through country and town his new Saintship's renown,
As a first-rate physician, kept daily increasing,
Till, as Alderman Curtis told Alderman Brown,
It seemed as if 'wonders had never done ceasing.'
The Three Kings of Cologne began, it was known,
A sad falling off in their off' rings to find;
His feats were so many -- still the greatest of any,--
In every sense of the word, was -- behind;
For the German Police were beginning to cease
From exertions which each day more fruitless appear'd,
When Gengulphus himself, his fame still to increase,
Unravell'd the whole by the help of -- his beard!
If you look back you'll see the aforesaid barbe gris,
When divorced from the chin of its murder'd proprietor,
Had been stuffed in the seat of a kind of settee,
Or double-arm'd chair, to keep the thing quieter.
It may seem rather strange, that it did not arrange
Itself in its place when the limbs join'd together;
P'rhaps it could not get out, for the cushion was stout,
And constructed of good, strong, maroon-colour'd leather.
Or, what is more likely, Gengulphus might choose,
For Saints, e'en when dead, still retain their volition,
It should rest there, to aid some particular views
Produced by his very peculiar position.
Be that as it may, the very first day
That the widow Gengulphus sat down on that settee,
What occurr'd almost frighten'd her senses away,
Beside scaring her hand-maidens, Gertrude and Betty.
They were telling their mistress the wonderful deeds
Of the new Saint, to whom all the Town said their orisons;
And especially how, as regards invalids,
His miraculous cures far outrivall'd Von Morison's.
'The cripples,' said they, 'fling their crutches away,
And people born blind now can easily see us!'--
But she, (we presume, a disciple of Hume,)
Shook her head, and said angrily, 'Credat Judæus!'
'Those rascally liars, the Monks and the Friars,
To bring grist to their mill, these devices have hit on.--
He works miracles!-- pooh!-- I'd believe it of you
Just as soon, you great Geese, or the chair that I sit on!'
The Chair!-- at that word -- it seems really absurd,
But the truth must be told,-- what contortions and grins
Distorted her face!-- She sprang up from the place
Just as though she'd been sitting on needles and pins!
For, as if the Saint's beard the rash challenge had heard
Which she utter'd, of what was beneath her forgetful,
Each particular hair stood on end in the chair,
Like a porcupine's quills when the animal's fretful.
That stout maroon leather, they pierced altogether,
Like tenter-hooks holding when clenched from within,
And the maids cried 'Good gracious! how very tenacious!'
-- They as well might endeavour to pull off her skin!
She shriek'd with the pain, but all efforts were vain;
In vain did they strain every sinew and muscle,--
The cushion stuck fast!-- From that hour to her last
She could never get rid of that comfortless 'Bustle!'
And e'en as Macbeth, when devising the death
Of his King, heard 'the very stones prate of his whereabouts;'
So this shocking bad wife heard a voice all her life
Crying 'Murder!' resound from the cushion,-- or thereabouts.
With regard to the Clerk, we are left in the dark,
As to what his fate was; but I cannot imagine he
Got off scot-free, though unnoticed it be
Both by Ribadaneira and Jacques de Voragine:
For cut-throats, we're sure, can be never secure,
And 'History's Muse' still to prove it her pen holds,
As you'll see, if you look in a rather scarce book,
'God's Revenge against Murder,' by one Mr. Reynolds.
Now, you grave married Pilgrims, who wander away,
Like Ulysses of old, (vide Homer and Naso,)
Don't lengthen your stay to three years and a day!
And when you are coming home, just write and say so!
And you, learned Clerks, who're not given to roam,
Stick close to your books, nor lose sight of decorum;
Don't visit a house when the master's from home!
Shun drinking,-- and study the 'Vitæ Sanctorum!'
Above all, you gay Ladies, who fancy neglect
In your spouses, allow not your patience to fail;
But remember Gengulphus's wife!-- and reflect
On the moral enforced by her terrible tale
IT HATH been seen and yet it shall be seen
That out of tender mouths God’s praise hath been
Made perfect, and with wood and simple string
He hath played music sweet as shawm-playing
To please himself with softness of all sound;
And no small thing but hath been sometime found
Full sweet of use, and no such humbleness
But God hath bruised withal the sentences
And evidence of wise men witnessing;
No leaf that is so soft a hidden thing
It never shall get sight of the great sun;
The strength of ten has been the strength of one,
And lowliness has waxed imperious.
There was in Rome a man Theophilus
Of right great blood and gracious ways, that had
All noble fashions to make people glad
And a soft life of pleasurable days;
He was a goodly man for one to praise,
Flawless and whole upward from foot to head;
His arms were a red hawk that alway fed
On a small bird with feathers gnawed upon,
Beaten and plucked about the bosom-bone
Whereby a small round fleck like fire there was:
They called it in their tongue lampadias;
This was the banner of the lordly man.
In many straits of sea and reaches wan
Full of quick wind, and many a shaken firth,
It had seen fighting days of either earth,
Westward or east of waters Gaditane
(This was the place of sea-rocks under Spain
Called after the great praise of Hercules)
And north beyond the washing Pontic seas,
Far windy Russian places fabulous,
And salt fierce tides of storm-swoln Bosphorus.
Now as this lord came straying in Rome town
He saw a little lattice open down
And after it a press of maidens’ heads
That sat upon their cold small quiet beds
Talking, and played upon short-stringèd lutes;
And other some ground perfume out of roots
Gathered by marvellous moons in Asia;
Saffron and aloes and wild cassia,
Coloured all through and smelling of the sun;
And over all these was a certain one
Clothed softly, with sweet herbs about her hair
And bosom flowerful; her face more fair
Than sudden-singing April in soft lands:
Eyed like a gracious bird, and in both hands
She held a psalter painted green and red.
This Theophile laughed at the heart, and said;
Now God so help me hither and St. Paul,
As by the new time of their festival
I have good will to take this maid to wife.
And herewith fell to fancies of her life
And soft half-thoughts that ended suddenly.
This is man’s guise to please himself, when he
Shall not see one thing of his pleasant things,
Nor with outwatch of many travailings
Come to be eased of the least pain he hath
For all his love and all his foolish wrath
And all the heavy manner of his mind.
Thus is he like a fisher fallen blind
That casts his nets across the boat awry
To strike the sea, but lo, he striketh dry
And plucks them back all broken for his pain
And bites his beard and casts across again
And reaching wrong slips over in the sea.
So hath this man a strangled neck for fee,
For all his cost he chuckles in his throat.
This Theophile that little hereof wote
Laid wait to hear of her what she might be:
Men told him she had name of Dorothy,
And was a lady of a worthy house.
Thereat this knight grew inly glorious
That he should have a love so fair of place.
She was a maiden of most quiet face,
Tender of speech, and had no hardihood
But was nigh feeble of her fearful blood;
Her mercy in her was so marvellous
From her least years, that seeing her school-fellows
That read beside her stricken with a rod,
She would cry sore and say some word to God
That he would ease her fellow of his pain.
There is no touch of sun or fallen rain
That ever fell on a more gracious thing.
In middle Rome there was in stone-working
The church of Venus painted royally.
The chapels of it were some two or three,
In each of them her tabernacle was
And a wide window of six feet in glass
Coloured with all her works in red and gold.
The altars had bright cloths and cups to hold
The wine of Venus for the services,
Made out of honey and crushed wood-berries
That shed sweet yellow through the thick wet red,
That on high days was borne upon the head
Of Venus’ priest for any man to drink;
So that in drinking he should fall to think
On some fair face, and in the thought thereof
Worship, and such should triumph in his love.
For this soft wine that did such grace and good
Was new trans-shaped and mixed with Love’s own blood,
That in the fighting Trojan time was bled;
For which came such a woe to Diomed
That he was stifled after in hard sea.
And some said that this wine-shedding should be
Made of the falling of Adonis’ blood,
That curled upon the thorns and broken wood
And round the gold silk shoes on Venus’ feet;
The taste thereof was as hot honey sweet
And in the mouth ran soft and riotous.
This was the holiness of Venus’ house.
It was their worship, that in August days
Twelve maidens should go through those Roman ways
Naked, and having gold across their brows
And their hair twisted in short golden rows,
To minister to Venus in this wise:
And twelve men chosen in their companies
To match these maidens by the altar-stair,
All in one habit, crowned upon the hair.
Among these men was chosen Theophile.
This knight went out and prayed a little while,
Holding queen Venus by her hands and knees;
I will give thee twelve royal images
Cut in glad gold, with marvels of wrought stone
For thy sweet priests to lean and pray upon,
Jasper and hyacinth and chrysopras,
And the strange Asian thalamite that was
Hidden twelve ages under heavy sea
Among the little sleepy pearls, to be
A shrine lit over with soft candle-flame
Burning all night red as hot brows of shame,
So thou wilt be my lady without sin.
Goddess that art all gold outside and in,
Help me to serve thee in thy holy way.
Thou knowest, Love, that in my bearing day
There shone a laughter in the singing stars
Round the gold-ceilèd bride-bed wherein Mars
Touched thee and had thee in your kissing wise.
Now therefore, sweet, kiss thou my maiden’s eyes
That they may open graciously towards me;
And this new fashion of thy shrine shall be
As soft with gold as thine own happy head.
The goddess, that was painted with face red
Between two long green tumbled sides of sea,
Stooped her neck sideways, and spake pleasantly:
Thou shalt have grace as thou art thrall of mine.
And with this came a savour of shed wine
And plucked-out petals from a rose’s head:
And softly with slow laughs of lip she said,
Thou shalt have favour all thy days of me.
Then came Theophilus to Dorothy,
Saying: O sweet, if one should strive or speak
Against God’s ways, he gets a beaten cheek
For all his wage and shame above all men.
Therefore I have no will to turn again
When God saith “go,” lest a worse thing fall out.
Then she, misdoubting lest he went about
To catch her wits, made answer somewhat thus:
I have no will, my lord Theophilus,
To speak against this worthy word of yours;
Knowing how God’s will in all speech endures,
That save by grace there may no thing be said.
Then Theophile waxed light from foot to head,
And softly fell upon this answering.
It is well seen you are a chosen thing
To do God service in his gracious way.
I will that you make haste and holiday
To go next year upon the Venus stair,
Covered none else, but crowned upon your hair,
And do the service that a maiden doth.
She said: but I that am Christ’s maid were loth
To do this thing that hath such bitter name.
Thereat his brows were beaten with sore shame
And he came off and said no other word.
Then his eyes chanced upon his banner-bird,
And he fell fingering at the staff of it
And laughed for wrath and stared between his feet,
And out of a chafed heart he spake as thus:
Lo how she japes at me Theophilus,
Feigning herself a fool and hard to love;
Yet in good time for all she boasteth of
She shall be like a little beaten bird.
And while his mouth was open in that word
He came upon the house Janiculum,
Where some went busily, and other some
Talked in the gate called the gate glorious.
The emperor, which was one Gabalus,
Sat over all and drank chill wine alone.
To whom is come Theophilus anon,
And said as thus: Beau sire, Dieu vous aide.
And afterward sat under him, and said
All this thing through as ye have wholly heard.
This Gabalus laughed thickly in his beard.
Yea, this is righteousness and maiden rule.
Truly, he said, a maid is but a fool.
And japed at them as one full villainous,
In a lewd wise, this heathen Gabalus,
And sent his men to bind her as he bade.
Thus have they taken Dorothy the maid,
And haled her forth as men hale pick-purses:
A little need God knows they had of this,
To hale her by her maiden gentle hair.
Thus went she lowly, making a soft prayer,
As one who stays the sweet wine in his mouth,
Murmuring with eased lips, and is most loth
To have done wholly with the sweet of it.
Christ king, fair Christ, that knowest all men’s wit
And all the feeble fashion of my ways,
O perfect God, that from all yesterdays
Abidest whole with morrows perfected,
I pray thee by thy mother’s holy head
Thou help me to do right, that I not slip:
I have no speech nor strength upon my lip,
Except thou help me who art wise and sweet.
Do this too for those nails that clove thy feet,
Let me die maiden after many pains.
Though I be least among thy handmaidens,
Doubtless I shall take death more sweetly thus.
Now have they brought her to King Gabalus,
Who laughed in all his throat some breathing-whiles:
By God, he said, if one should leap two miles,
He were not pained about the sides so much.
This were a soft thing for a man to touch.
Shall one so chafe that hath such little bones?
And shook his throat with thick and chuckled moans
For laughter that she had such holiness.
What aileth thee, wilt thou do services?
It were good fare to fare as Venus doth.
Then said this lady with her maiden mouth,
Shamefaced, and something paler in the cheek:
Now, sir, albeit my wit and will to speak
Give me no grace in sight of worthy men,
For all my shame yet know I this again,
I may not speak, nor after downlying
Rise up to take delight in lute-playing,
Nor sing nor sleep, nor sit and fold my hands,
But my soul in some measure understands
God’s grace laid like a garment over me.
For this fair God that out of strong sharp sea
Lifted the shapely and green-coloured land,
And hath the weight of heaven in his hand
As one might hold a bird, and under him
The heavy golden planets beam by beam
Building the feasting-chambers of his house,
And the large world he holdeth with his brows
And with the light of them astonisheth
All place and time and face of life and death
And motion of the north wind and the south,
And is the sound within his angel’s mouth
Of singing words and words of thanksgiving,
And is the colour of the latter spring
And heat upon the summer and the sun,
And is beginning of all things begun
And gathers in him all things to their end,
And with the fingers of his hand doth bend
The stretched-out sides of heaven like a sail,
And with his breath he maketh the red pale
And fills with blood faint faces of men dead,
And with the sound between his lips are fed
Iron and fire and the white body of snow,
And blossom of all trees in places low,
And small bright herbs about the little hills,
And fruit pricked softly with birds’ tender bills,
And flight of foam about green fields of sea,
And fourfold strength of the great winds that be
Moved always outward from beneath his feet,
And growth of grass and growth of sheavèd wheat
And all green flower of goodly-growing lands;
And all these things he gathers with his hands
And covers all their beauty with his wings;
The same, even God that governs all these things,
Hath set my feet to be upon his ways.
Now therefore for no painfulness of days
I shall put off this service bound on me.
Also, fair sir, ye know this certainly,
How God was in his flesh full chaste and meek
And gave his face to shame, and either cheek
Gave up to smiting of men tyrannous.
And here with a great voice this Gabalus
Cried out and said: By God’s blood and his bones,
This were good game betwixen night and nones
For one to sit and hearken to such saws:
I were as lief fall in some big beast’s jaws
As hear these women’s jaw-teeth chattering;
By God a woman is the harder thing,
One may not put a hook into her mouth.
Now by St. Luke I am so sore adrouth
For all these saws I must needs drink again.
But I pray God deliver all us men
From all such noise of women and their heat.
That is a noble scripture, well I weet,
That likens women to an empty can;
When God said that he was a full wise man.
I trow no man may blame him as for that.
And herewithal he drank a draught, and spat,
And said: Now shall I make an end hereof.
Come near all men and hearken for God’s love,
And ye shall hear a jest or twain, God wot.
And spake as thus with mouth full thick and hot;
But thou do this thou shalt be shortly slain.
Lo, sir, she said, this death and all his pain
I take in penance of my bitter sins.
Yea now, quoth Gabalus, this game begins.
Lo, without sin one shall not live a span.
Lo, this is she that would not look on man
Between her fingers folded in thwart wise.
See how her shame hath smitten in her eyes
That was so clean she had not heard of shame.
Certes, he said, by Gabalus my name,
This two years back I was not so well pleased.
This were good mirth for sick men to be eased
And rise up whole and laugh at hearing of.
I pray thee show us something of thy love,
Since thou wast maid thy gown is waxen wide.
Yea, maid I am, she said, and somewhat sighed,
As one who thought upon the low fair house
Where she sat working, with soft bended brows
Watching her threads, among the school-maidens.
And she thought well now God had brought her thence
She should not come to sew her gold again.
Then cried King Gabalus upon his men
To have her forth and draw her with steel gins.
And as a man hag-ridden beats and grins
And bends his body sidelong in his bed,
So wagged he with his body and knave’s head,
Gaping at her, and blowing with his breath.
And in good time he gat an evil death
Out of his lewdness with his cursèd wives:
His bones were hewn asunder as with knives
For his misliving, certes it is said.
But all the evil wrought upon this maid,
It were full hard for one to handle it.
For her soft blood was shed upon her feet,
And all her body’s colour bruised and faint.
But she, as one abiding God’s great saint,
Spake not nor wept for all this travail hard.
Wherefore the king commanded afterward
To slay her presently in all men’s sight.
And it was now an hour upon the night
And winter-time, and a few stars began.
The weather was yet feeble and all wan
For beating of a weighty wind and snow.
And she came walking in soft wise and slow,
And many men with faces piteous.
Then came this heavy cursing Gabalus,
That swore full hard into his drunken beard;
And faintly after without any word
Came Theophile some paces off the king.
And in the middle of this wayfaring
Full tenderly beholding her he said:
There is no word of comfort with men dead
Nor any face and colour of things sweet;
But always with lean cheeks and lifted feet
These dead men lie all aching to the blood
With bitter cold, their brows withouten hood
Beating for chill, their bodies swathed full thin:
Alas, what hire shall any have herein
To give his life and get such bitterness?
Also the soul going forth bodiless
Is hurt with naked cold, and no man saith
If there be house or covering for death
To hide the soul that is discomforted.
Then she beholding him a little said:
Alas, fair lord, ye have no wit of this;
For on one side death is full poor of bliss
And as ye say full sharp of bone and lean:
But on the other side is good and green
And hath soft flower of tender-coloured hair
Grown on his head, and a red mouth as fair
As may be kissed with lips; thereto his face
Is as God’s face, and in a perfect place
Full of all sun and colour of straight boughs
And waterheads about a painted house
That hath a mile of flowers either way
Outward from it, and blossom-grass of May
Thickening on many a side for length of heat,
Hath God set death upon a noble seat
Covered with green and flowered in the fold,
In likeness of a great king grown full old
And gentle with new temperance of blood;
And on his brows a purfled purple hood,
They may not carry any golden thing;
And plays some tune with subtle fingering
On a small cithern, full of tears and sleep
And heavy pleasure that is quick to weep
And sorrow with the honey in her mouth;
And for this might of music that he doth
Are all souls drawn toward him with great love
And weep for sweetness of the noise thereof
And bow to him with worship of their knees;
And all the field is thick with companies
Of fair-clothed men that play on shawms and lutes
And gather honey of the yellow fruits
Between the branches waxen soft and wide:
And all this peace endures in either side
Of the green land, and God beholdeth all.
And this is girdled with a round fair wall
Made of red stone and cool with heavy leaves
Grown out against it, and green blossom cleaves
To the green chinks, and lesser wall-weed sweet,
Kissing the crannies that are split with heat,
And branches where the summer draws to head.
And Theophile burnt in the cheek, and said:
Yea, could one see it, this were marvellous.
I pray you, at your coming to this house,
Give me some leaf of all those tree-branches;
Seeing how so sharp and white our weather is,
There is no green nor gracious red to see.
Yea, sir, she said, that shall I certainly.
And from her long sweet throat without a fleck
Undid the gold, and through her stretched-out neck
The cold axe clove, and smote away her head:
Out of her throat the tender blood full red
Fell suddenly through all her long soft hair.
And with good speed for hardness of the air
Each man departed to his house again.
Lo, as fair colour in the face of men
At seed-time of their blood, or in such wise
As a thing seen increaseth in men’s eyes,
Caught first far off by sickly fits of sight—
So a word said, if one shall hear aright,
Abides against the season of its growth.
This Theophile went slowly as one doth
That is not sure for sickness of his feet;
And counting the white stonework of the street,
Tears fell out of his eyes for wrath and love,
Making him weep more for the shame thereof
Than for true pain: so went he half a mile.
And women mocked him, saying: Theophile,
Lo, she is dead; what shall a woman have
That loveth such an one? so Christ me save,
I were as lief to love a man new-hung.
Surely this man has bitten on his tongue,
This makes him sad and writhled in his face.
And when they came upon the paven place
That was called sometime the place amorous
There came a child before Theophilus
Bearing a basket, and said suddenly:
Fair sir, this is my mistress Dorothy
That sends you gifts; and with this he was gone.
In all this earth there is not such an one
For colour and straight stature made so fair.
The tender growing gold of his pure hair
Was as wheat growing, and his mouth as flame.
God called him Holy after his own name;
With gold cloth like fire burning he was clad.
But for the fair green basket that he had,
It was filled up with heavy white and red;
Great roses stained still where the first rose bled,
Burning at heart for shame their heart withholds:
And the sad colour of strong marigolds
That have the sun to kiss their lips for love;
The flower that Venus’ hair is woven of,
The colour of fair apples in the sun,
Late peaches gathered when the heat was done
And the slain air got breath; and after these
The fair faint-headed poppies drunk with ease,
And heaviness of hollow lilies red.
Then cried they all that saw these things, and said
It was God’s doing, and was marvellous.
And in brief while this knight Theophilus
Is waxen full of faith, and witnesseth
Before the king of God and love and death,
For which the king bade hang him presently.
A gallows of a goodly piece of tree
This Gabalus hath made to hang him on.
Forth of this world lo Theophile is gone
With a wried neck, God give us better fare
Than his that hath a twisted throat to wear;
But truly for his love God hath him brought
There where his heavy body grieves him nought
Nor all the people plucking at his feet;
But in his face his lady’s face is sweet,
And through his lips her kissing lips are gone:
God send him peace, and joy of such an one.
This is the story of St. Dorothy.
I will you of your mercy pray for me
Because I wrote these sayings for your grace,
That I may one day see her in the face.
O POOR, sad hearts that struggle on and wait,
Like shipwrecked sailors on a spar at sea,
Through deepening glooms, if haply, soon or late,
Some day-dawn glimmer of what is to be,
Not knowing Christ, nor gladdened by His Love
And Life indwelling—to you I dedicate
These humble musings, praying that from above,
On you, being faithful found, the light may shine
Of Life incarnate and of Love divine.
Take, then, these thoughts, in loving memory
Of those dead hearts that brought it first to me.
DOWN by the sea, in infinite solitude
And wrapt in darkness, save when gleams of light
Broke from the moon aslant the hurrying clouds
That fled the wind, lay Justin, worn with grief,
And heart-sick with vain searching after God.
He heeded not the cold white foam that crept
In silence round his feet, nor the tall sedge
That sighed like lonely forest round his head;
His heart was weary of this weight of being,
Weary of all the mystery of life,
Weary of all the littleness of men,
And the dark riddle that he could not solve—
Why men should be, why pain and sin and death,
And where were hid the lineaments of God.
No voice was near. Behind, a lofty cape,
Whose iron face was scarred by many a storm,
Loomed threatening in the dark, and cleft the main,
And laid its giant hand upon the deep.
One grizzled oak tree crowned it, and the surf
Broke ever at its base, with ceaseless voice
Powerless to mar its silent majesty.
Sweet was the loneliness to Justin, sweet
Perturbèd nature, as in harmony
With the dark thoughts that beat upon his soul.
Nor speechless long he lay. The tide of grief,
O'erflowing the narrow limits of the mind,
Broke from him, and in burning word he cried:
"O God, if God there be in this foul chase!
O Fate, if Fate it be that drives us thus!
O Chance, if it be Thou that mouldeth all!
Stern Power, whate'er Thy name, that sit'st sublime
Above creation, throned creation's Lord,
With feet upon the spheres, whose flaming arms
Scatter new worlds form age to age, to roll
Thro' the dim cycles of all time, to bloom
Into warm life—what iron law impels,
Or wanton cruelty in the eternal deep
Of mind supreme, Thee to send sin and death
To prey thus on the creatures of Thine hands,
Until the while skulls crumble back to earth
From whence they sprung? O Chance! O Fate! O God!
My soul is broken with the clang of worlds;
The universe is discord all to me,
I see dark planets roll o'er human graves;
I feel them quivering with the cries of souls.
I know no more. O Power, whose face is veiled
From man in Thine own greatness,—Thou, whom I
Thro' weary years have sought, but sought in vain,
In every shadow upon every hill,
In the sweet features of a child, or on
The illimitable sea, in heat, in cold,
And in the rain that clothes the earth with buds,
And in the breath of things invisible,
Till, worn and helpless, now I long for death,—
Let me before I die hear some still voice
(If such indeed there be), some undertone
That, flowing from eternity thro' all
The jarring voices that now rend the soul,
Shall blend them into one long harmony:
So let me hearing die, and dying rest."
He ceased, and, sweet as after day of storm
Flows the still sea at even—the winds and waves
Asleep in purple mists—a silence crept
Over the worlds and flooded Justin's soul;
And in the silence Justin heard a voice,
And the warm throbbing of a human heart.
And thro' the darkness moved the form of Christ,
White-robed, with crown of thorns and those sad eyes
That saw His Mother weep beside the cross.
Then form innumerable throats uprose
One glorious music, one great hymn of praise
From all creation, th' universal sounds
Of tireless nature,—thunders of the sea
On clouded crags where arctic winds at night
Tear at its foaming lips, a land of ice
And spectral suns; the deep-toned mountains, too,
All shadow-clad in forests, send their voice
From caverns subterranean, where the newts
And blind-worms fear no day; the lion's roar
On viewless waste; the thundering cataract,
And huge leviathan. Nor only these,
But from the laughing groves and vine-clad hills
And valleys come sweet sounds—the notes of birds,
The hum of insects, when the meridian sun
Drives the glad reapers to their noonday meal,
By leaf-arched brook; and lowings from the fold,
In cooler evening, when the maidens ply
Their daily task; the children's innocent mirth,
And angels' songs, cloud-wafted from the deep
Of heaven's blue; and, fainter still, the sounds
Of far-off worlds and the orbed universe.
But that which ran thro' all, and linked them all
In one long harmony—that undertone
Which made them music—was the voice of Christ
And the soft beating of His human heart.
A calm light stole on Justin, and a peace,
Unknown before, unutterable, deep
Within the spirit's depths—a new-born sense
As if his heart had eyes, and every eye
Saw God thro' all in His own loveliness.
The vision passed, and slowly Justin rose,
Unwilling quickly to disturb the peace
Which his strange dream had poured into his soul,
And the last accents of the voice that yet
Throbbed in his heart and kindled all his love.
There was a stillness and a hush o'er nature,
The sweet expectancy of early dawn
That waits its king; the wind had fall'n, the sea
And shore spoke but in whispers; only birds
Felt not the universal awe, but from their nests,
Dew-sprinkled, woke with songs the sleeping woods,
Through which, a faded beauty, peered the moon.
Then, turning, Justin suddenly beheld
A man of years, with long dark robes and hair
Whiter than sea-foam in the moonlight seen,
Strewn on black rocks, who, seeing Justin rise,
Moved nearer to him, saying, "O my son!
For son thou art in this new faith whereto
I call thee, seeing thou wilt be born again
By water and the washing of thy soul
Form its vain creeds, me hath the Father sent
(In His great mercy loving thee and all)
To be a witness to thee of thy dream,
To solve the mysteries thou couldst not solve
By thine own searching, and to lead thee now
To that dear Voice thou heard'st, and lay thine head
Upon the Heart that filled thy soul with peace."
So by the sea, among the frowning rocks,
They sat in converse, while the aged priest
Led Justin's spirit onward thro' the gloom
Of vain philosophies, as one who guides
An alpine traveller up some dizzy height,
Where opening views expand at every step
Thro' lessening mist, till Justin gazed at last
Upon a manger rude, and, sleeping, lain therein,
He saw the features of the Son of God.
"My Father," then cried Justin, "now my heart
Reads the bright message of my dream. I see
How vain and futile all philosophies,
But this the last which burns into my soul
With fire of love so wondrous; yet I see
How even they, with weak and tremulous hand,
Point toward the Christ and lead men up to Him.
I now descry His footsteps in dead years,
He guiding me unconscious, knowing Him not.
When first my limbs, full-grown in sinewy youth,
Felt the strong life within, my spirit glad
Moved like broad day enshrined in cloudless skies;
No care I knew, no sorrow grieved my heart,
But all was joy—a throbbing, flowing joy.
I wandered thro' the forests and the wilds,
On mountain height, above the birth of storms;
I heard unmoved the thunder at my feet,
And tottering crags that filled abysmal depths
With shattered pinnacles, and voices dread
That made earth tremble to its central fire;
I heard the lion's roar, but felt no fear:
The many-fingered forests clapped their hands,
They breathed my life, the lions were free as I,—
I felt all nature and myself were one;
Birds, beasts, and insects, breathing flowers and trees,
And charmèd life linked us in brotherhood.
I watched the rising sun from day to day
Surprise the world with glories ever new.
No clouds obscured; the rosy hands of dawn
But lifted us to realms of joyousness
And deepening light. No thought of setting day
Saddened my heart, and in the silent eve
I saw the new sun, like a golden seed,
Hid in the crimson bosom of the old,
Full of fresh life and hope and songs of birds,
To wake the morn. The fish and I were friends;
Their silvery shinings could no swifter pierce
The lucid depths and shallows than could I;
They were my brothers, too, for thy had life,
And life meant joy, and joy was brotherhood.
My comrades laughed, and called me, ‘ocean's king,'
‘Neptune, the ocean's king.' ‘Not so,' said I;
‘Call me not king, but rather friend of all!'
Thus passed the years, till one day in a wood,
As I lay dreaming by a moss-edged pool,
Whose twinkling eyes were laughing at the trees
That laughed in golden glories overhead,
While burnished beetles, green and amber-hued,
Skimmed o'er its waves, I heard a strange wild note,
Above the notes of birds, so beautiful,
It thrilled my soul, and made my pulses glow
With warmer life. The leaves were pushed aside,
And, stepping thro' the shadows, came a youth,
God-like in motion, tall and supple-limbed,
Drenched with the dappled sunlight, and begirt
With skin of leopard clasped about the waist
With silver. Pendant from his neck there hung
A shell, such as Apollo found at dawn,
Sea-voiced and singing to the plaintive wind,
Careless who heard. This, when he held and struck
With skilful hand, gave forth divinest sounds,
Softer than the low humming of the bees,
And sweeter than the trill of nightingale;
Or, stern and powerful, as his mood would change,
Like the loud voice that fills the midnight trees
And runs before the chariot of the storm,
Startling all nature, crying, ‘Lo! he comes,
The Storm-God comes!' or, shrill as winter winds
That wail at evening round the woodman's hut,
When close-drawn lattice and the blazing hearth
And meal well earned make glad the hearts within
Of children and of sire. ‘O youth!' I cried,
Gaining my speech at last, ‘fain would I know
The art that can so charm the sense,—not birds
Or aught on earth so beautiful. Could I
But follow thee in all thy wanderings,
But hear thee play and drink my spirit's fill
Of those wild melodies, how would not joy
Grow more intense! After such wakening life
Were poor indeed, the common lot of beasts
And flowers; but man I see is higher,
(Tho' till this hour content). These strains have roused
Immortal sense within of something great;
Unutterable longings chafe the soul,
Dreams of the gods, and voices of dead years.
The liquid strains so thrilled me with their power
That, with expanded consciousness, I saw
The birth of empires, heard the rolling spheres,
Masts snapped at sea, and, in strange concourse blent,
The din of cities, cries of wasted hearts,
Marshalling of steeds, ravings of fevered men;
While, over all the moaning of a sea,
And faint, a voice growing stronger, ‘Is this all?'
If Music has such power, She, and not life,
Must be man's good. Oh, let me follow Thee,
Her worshipper, for She can satisfy.'
Then, with a smile like sunlight on his face,
He sang this song in answer, carelessly—
‘O Soul, glad Soul, what wert thou without song?
Morns never smiling, wilds without a tree,
A waste of voiceless twilight wide and long,
Dark rivers dying in eternal sea,
O Soul, sad Soul, that wert thou without song.
‘O Soul, sad Soul, the rivers have to die,
Morn grows to eve, trees wither by the way,
Clouds hide the sun and tears fall from the sky;
But Music lives though earth should melt away.
Oh! joy, glad Soul, she will not let thee die.'
"He scarce had ceased when such a pain convulsed
His features as the agony that comes
At death, and with one ringing cry he shook
An adder from his foot, then wildly fled,
With face distorted, blanched with deadly fear,
Eyes glaring madly, thro' the tangled glade,
Like some chased stag that hears the hounds behind,
Nor recks what lies before. I followed fast,
But swift as wind he fled. A river deep
And rapid flowed hard by, whose rocky sides,
Upheaved by some convulsion, frowning stood
To guard its narrow channel. There a cliff
Stretched half across the stream, and at its foot
The hurrying waters curled in many a fold
Of creamy white. Him, on the rocks I found
There lying, prostrate, racked with anguish sore,
And cold with coming death; his foaming lips
Were bloodless, and his limbs, all stained and torn,
Writhed helplessly. I brought green moss and placed
For pillow 'neath his head; I laved his brow
And face and clotted hair; but all in vain
I strove, for ever a wild look would come
In his dark eyes, and shade of ghastly fear.
Colder he grew, and silent, till at length
I thought him dead, and wondered, pitying him,
And his fair form so helpless on the sand,
As some white statue fallen from its niche,
Broken irreparably. A sudden thought
Flashed on my mind. The shell—the shell was there,
Still round his neck. If I could strike some sounds
Of that new power that had so swayed my soul,
What might not chance! For music should indeed,
If god of men, be master over death,
And light up fire within the chilling breast.
I seized the shell and struck it: one low sound
Broke from it, dying among the cliffs and roar
Of current, soft as a child's moan in dreams.
But, ere I touched again, with a wild laugh
That made the forests ring and scared the owls
From their day-sleep, and drove them hooting out
In blinding sunlight, suddenly he sprang,
Clutched with mad hands the shell, and, crushing it,
Flung the white fragments in the waves below.
He saw them sink, then crying aloud, ‘'Tis vain!
'Tis vain; the shadow comes!' he fell back dead.
O death-cry in the roaring of the waves,
O death-cry in the stillness of the rocks,
O death-cry in the laughing of the trees!
The shadow passing by had fallen on me,
Never to rise. So thought I then. I broke
Into loud weeping thus that life should end,
In pain and loathsomeness, the fairest flower
Of nature dying unfruitful. Stygian dark
And horrors of the shades passed over me,
Cries of the Furies and the torrents roar
Rang in my ears, and voices out of hell
Re-echoed, ‘Vain! 'tis vain; the shadow comes!'
I hid the dead with moss, then turned and fled,
I cared not whither, so that I might fly
From the dark thoughts that drove me night and day,
And sights of death that haunted me. All changed
The glorious world! and rapine, lust, and death
Glared in each face, and blasted all but wilds
Where man was not. Then, Father, came the thought
That in that higher nature might be peace
Which music roused, but could not satisfy;
So sought I wisdom and the secret, dread,
Of life and death, nor knew I where to find.
I journeyed to the blazing East, and there,
In blinding simooms and a sun that scorched
League upon league of sand, I stood before
The stony monster that primeval hands,
Fraught with mad longings, shaped with giant tools
From mountain-side. O passionless cold lips!
O smile of scorn! O glance of burning hate!
I placed my lips against its stony mouth,
On fire to hear, tho' hearing were to die,
The secret of the Sphinx. I heard the birth
And death of empires, heard the rolling spheres,
Masts snapped at sea, and, in strange concourse blent,
The din of cities, cries of wasted hearts,
Marshalling of steeds, ravings of fevered men,
While over all the moaning of a sea,
And faint a voice, growing stronger, ‘This is all.'
And this was all; and so I journeyed home,
Heart-sick, and with dark thoughts that gnawed my soul
As fire eats out a tree, when thunder-clouds
Darken the woods, and lightning blasts the stems,
With fruit half-ripe. The unexpressed desire
For something further than the furthest star,
For something deeper than the lowest deep,
For something behind all, thro' all, in all,
Drove me to fathom all philosophy.
Thus long time sought I God, not knowing, in fire,
In cold, in light, and, mole-like, closed my eyes,
And groped thro' nature, while the truth I sought
Was at my door, His hand upon my latch,
And I too blind to see, for the dark shade
Of things material hung upon my sight.
Oh, Father, I was fearful lest the truth
Should grind my soul to powder if I found.
For what was I but man? and God, the God
Of this great universe, what should He care
For one worn heart among a myriad stars?
If I should find—what should I find, indeed,
But some great power my senses could not grasp,
A part of some vast whole I could not see,
And I no more to Him than breathing clay?
What link between the Maker and the made?
For men can draw no nourishment from stones
And things in nature save thro' beasts and flowers,
Which link the two; and so, methought, if God
Should be the God I deem Him, how can He,
The hidden Force that blindly moves the world,
Soothe the fierce hunger in the soul of man
That craves for love? What sympathy between
The finite and the infinite? Life itself
Grew hard to breathe beneath eternal clouds;
No sun, no goal, to cheer it. But I see
In this dear Christ the answer of my soul;
The pledge of God's great love; the link that binds
The Godhead and the manhood into one;
The undertone that makes one harmony
Of our existence, giving life and peace
And love for men where once a fruitless search
Thro' the blind forces of the universe
In weary years shut out the light of day,
And dried the fount of love within the soul."
He ceased, and answered lovingly the Sage:
"Son, I perceive that now thy soul hath found
The peace it sought, and in the rifted Side
A hiding-place and shelter form the blast.
Now I perceive the Spirit, as at first,
Moves on the troubled waters of thy mind,
And from dark chaos bringeth light and peace.
And now in this still hour, when every day
On the dim altar lies the Son of God,
That offering of which the prophet spake,*
And feeds His children with their daily bread,
Let us speak on of those high themes that lift
The soul from out the trammels of this life
Up to the throne of God; and so, perchance,
As on that country road at eventide,
The risen One shall come with gentle voice
And set our hearts on fire."†
Thus they conversed,
Unconscious of aught else in trance divine.
And, as a mist rising from vale and hill
Discloses fields, and further off the dawn
On the broad sea, until there rolls unveiled
The long full glory of the landscape, thus,
As Justin sat, clearer his vision grew
Of this new faith, until he saw the Christ
Come towards him thro' the mists of dying creeds
That once had shrouded Him. And thus they spake;
And Justin learned how suffering here and sin
Resisted were but powers to try the soul,
And forge it out more strong for this hard life,
More bright for that hereafter, and that Christ,
Informing all the soul with His great love,
Can purge the thoughts and bend the stubborn will.
For other creeds but touch the edge of being,
But this new life breathes life into our life;
For Christ hath trod our path before, and conquered all,
In the cold desert and upon the cross,
With bleeding hands and feet.
Then, kneeling down
Upon the cold, hard rocks, with lifted face
Turned to the glimmering east, he cried, "O God!
Lord of innumerable worlds which move,
Zone upon zone, thro' that thick night which hangs
About Thy feet for ever—Thou, whose voice
From the dead earth can frame the souls of men,
The lips that murmur praises, and the eyes
That kindle into love—O Thou, from whom
In the blind past flowed forth the light and power
That make creation circle round Thy throne
Thro' all the ages—Thou, to whom alone
Time's self is dead, and death is but new life
That flows unseen thro' this great universe,
Reframing all and springing in new forms
More worthy Thee—O Thou, in whom unite
The past, the present, and the future—Thou,
The centre of all time, the great I AM,
Heart of eternity, —in Thee I find,
O God, my God, the resting-place I sought,
In Thee I find the answer of my quest,
In Thee the satisfaction of my soul.
I thank Thee Thou hast led me like a child
To these sweet streams for which my soul hath longed
Thro' the dim past. And now I see anew
How all creation, like some pyramid,
Built on a waste of ages as the sands
Of a great desert, doth on every side,
Step upon step, lead upward to Thy throne.
Inscrutable Thy ways, O God, and yet
Thro' the thick clouds that hide Thy face there comes
A beam of light, the offspring of Thy love;
For in my dreams I heard a human voice,
And the warm beating of a human heart
Throbbing thro' nature; and I saw far off
In the dim void the suffering face of Christ.
O Christ in God! O God in Christ! O God!
Pledge of the Father's love, O Fount of light!
Thine was the voice that stilled my fearful heart,
Thine was the heart that filled my soul with peace.
O Christ, the centre of humanity!
O God, the heart of this great universe!
O Christ in God! Thou linkest all to Thee
By Thy torn side and bleeding hands and feet.
How can we fear, tho' long and loud the storm,
If thro' the darkness comes a human voice?
How can we tremble, when our head is laid
Upon that breast where beasts a human heart?
O Man in God, that bringest God to men!
O God in Man, that liftest man to God!
Effulgence of the essence which, divine,
Without Thee incommunicable were;
Strong Light to light all mysteries, and Thou,
The perfect rest I sought through weary years
On trackless wastes! Behold, in faith and love,
O God, my God, I come, I come to Thee."
He ceased, and, slowly rising from his knees,
He saw the priest afar with tearful eyes,
And arms outstretched in thankfulness, and said,
"I would be born again in this new faith,
My Father, by the washing of my soul
Form its dark stains, for I am but a babe,
And would learn life anew." So, silent, moved
They to the shore, absorbed in thoughts too deep
For earthly speech, and silence fell awhile
Upon the earth in reverence to its God,
And sky and ocean seemed to wait in awe.
There, by the long white ripples on the shore,
The priest stooped down in that still hour, and took
A handful form the waves, the eternal sea,
That, like the love of God, flows over all,
Or height or depth, and levels all, and thus
Baptized he Justin in the Triune Name,
And on his forehead made the holy sign;
And, as the water fell on him, the sun
Rose in full glory, and the sky grew bright,
And angels sang far off, for day had dawned
Upon the ocean and in Justin's soul.
Then spake the priest, "My son, in this calm sea
I read thy life, all stillness now and peace,
In the sweet morning 'neath the new-born day.
But see, the wind now breaks it into waves,
Which, rising form their sleep, each tipped with light,
Make that long golden pathway to the sun.
So shall it be with thee. Thy soul now yearns
To rest for ever at the feet of Christ;
But suffering, pain, and toil shall sweep across
Its stillness, and the strife of noisy tongues,
And persecution, cold, and nakedness
Shall break its surface; but each pain shall be
Bright with the love of Christ, and all thy life
Shall be a path to lead men up to Him."
So the priest parted, blessing him, and Justin
Rose from his knees and moved among all men,
And reasoned with them of the love of God
And his dear Christ, and led men up to Him
From false philosophies, until at last
His life set in the crimson of his blood,
And rose in splendour near the throne of God.
The Odyssey: Book 5
And now, as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus- harbinger of
light alike to mortals and immortals- the gods met in council and with
them, Jove the lord of thunder, who is their king. Thereon Minerva
began to tell them of the many sufferings of Ulysses, for she pitied
him away there in the house of the nymph Calypso.
"Father Jove," said she, "and all you other gods that live in
everlasting bliss, I hope there may never be such a thing as a kind
and well-disposed ruler any more, nor one who will govern equitably. I
hope they will be all henceforth cruel and unjust, for there is not
one of his subjects but has forgotten Ulysses, who ruled them as
though he were their father. There he is, lying in great pain in an
island where dwells the nymph Calypso, who will not let him go; and he
cannot get back to his own country, for he can find neither ships
nor sailors to take him over the sea. Furthermore, wicked people are
now trying to murder his only son Telemachus, who is coming home
from Pylos and Lacedaemon, where he has been to see if he can get news
of his father."
"What, my dear, are you talking about?" replied her father, "did you
not send him there yourself, because you thought it would help Ulysses
to get home and punish the suitors? Besides, you are perfectly able to
protect Telemachus, and to see him safely home again, while the
suitors have to come hurry-skurrying back without having killed him."
When he had thus spoken, he said to his son Mercury, "Mercury, you
are our messenger, go therefore and tell Calypso we have decreed
that poor Ulysses is to return home. He is to be convoyed neither by
gods nor men, but after a perilous voyage of twenty days upon a raft
he is to reach fertile Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, who are
near of kin to the gods, and will honour him as though he were one
of ourselves. They will send him in a ship to his own country, and
will give him more bronze and gold and raiment than he would have
brought back from Troy, if he had had had all his prize money and
had got home without disaster. This is how we have settled that he
shall return to his country and his friends."
Thus he spoke, and Mercury, guide and guardian, slayer of Argus, did
as he was told. Forthwith he bound on his glittering golden sandals
with which he could fly like the wind over land and sea. He took the
wand with which he seals men's eyes in sleep or wakes them just as
he pleases, and flew holding it in his hand over Pieria; then he
swooped down through the firmament till he reached the level of the
sea, whose waves he skimmed like a cormorant that flies fishing
every hole and corner of the ocean, and drenching its thick plumage in
the spray. He flew and flew over many a weary wave, but when at last
he got to the island which was his journey's end, he left the sea
and went on by land till he came to the cave where the nymph Calypso
He found her at home. There was a large fire burning on the
hearth, and one could smell from far the fragrant reek of burning
cedar and sandal wood. As for herself, she was busy at her loom,
shooting her golden shuttle through the warp and singing
beautifully. Round her cave there was a thick wood of alder, poplar,
and sweet smelling cypress trees, wherein all kinds of great birds had
built their nests- owls, hawks, and chattering sea-crows that occupy
their business in the waters. A vine loaded with grapes was trained
and grew luxuriantly about the mouth of the cave; there were also four
running rills of water in channels cut pretty close together, and
turned hither and thither so as to irrigate the beds of violets and
luscious herbage over which they flowed. Even a god could not help
being charmed with such a lovely spot, so Mercury stood still and
looked at it; but when he had admired it sufficiently he went inside
Calypso knew him at once- for the gods all know each other, no
matter how far they live from one another- but Ulysses was not within;
he was on the sea-shore as usual, looking out upon the barren ocean
with tears in his eyes, groaning and breaking his heart for sorrow.
Calypso gave Mercury a seat and said: "Why have you come to see me,
Mercury- honoured, and ever welcome- for you do not visit me often?
Say what you want; I will do it for be you at once if I can, and if it
can be done at all; but come inside, and let me set refreshment before
As she spoke she drew a table loaded with ambrosia beside him and
mixed him some red nectar, so Mercury ate and drank till he had had
enough, and then said:
"We are speaking god and goddess to one another, one another, and
you ask me why I have come here, and I will tell you truly as you
would have me do. Jove sent me; it was no doing of mine; who could
possibly want to come all this way over the sea where there are no
cities full of people to offer me sacrifices or choice hecatombs?
Nevertheless I had to come, for none of us other gods can cross
Jove, nor transgress his orders. He says that you have here the most
ill-starred of alf those who fought nine years before the city of King
Priam and sailed home in the tenth year after having sacked it. On
their way home they sinned against Minerva, who raised both wind and
waves against them, so that all his brave companions perished, and
he alone was carried hither by wind and tide. Jove says that you are
to let this by man go at once, for it is decreed that he shall not
perish here, far from his own people, but shall return to his house
and country and see his friends again."
Calypso trembled with rage when she heard this, "You gods," she
exclaimed, to be ashamed of yourselves. You are always jealous and
hate seeing a goddess take a fancy to a mortal man, and live with
him in open matrimony. So when rosy-fingered Dawn made love to
Orion, you precious gods were all of you furious till Diana went and
killed him in Ortygia. So again when Ceres fell in love with Iasion,
and yielded to him in a thrice ploughed fallow field, Jove came to
hear of it before so long and killed Iasion with his thunder-bolts.
And now you are angry with me too because I have a man here. I found
the poor creature sitting all alone astride of a keel, for Jove had
struck his ship with lightning and sunk it in mid ocean, so that all
his crew were drowned, while he himself was driven by wind and waves
on to my island. I got fond of him and cherished him, and had set my
heart on making him immortal, so that he should never grow old all his
days; still I cannot cross Jove, nor bring his counsels to nothing;
therefore, if he insists upon it, let the man go beyond the seas
again; but I cannot send him anywhere myself for I have neither
ships nor men who can take him. Nevertheless I will readily give him
such advice, in all good faith, as will be likely to bring him
safely to his own country."
"Then send him away," said Mercury, "or Jove will be angry with
you and punish you"'
On this he took his leave, and Calypso went out to look for Ulysses,
for she had heard Jove's message. She found him sitting upon the beach
with his eyes ever filled with tears, and dying of sheer
home-sickness; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was
forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he,
that would have it so. As for the day time, he spent it on the rocks
and on the sea-shore, weeping, crying aloud for his despair, and
always looking out upon the sea. Calypso then went close up to him
"My poor fellow, you shall not stay here grieving and fretting
your life out any longer. I am going to send you away of my own free
will; so go, cut some beams of wood, and make yourself a large raft
with an upper deck that it may carry you safely over the sea. I will
put bread, wine, and water on board to save you from starving. I
will also give you clothes, and will send you a fair wind to take
you home, if the gods in heaven so will it- for they know more about
these things, and can settle them better than I can."
Ulysses shuddered as he heard her. "Now goddess," he answered,
"there is something behind all this; you cannot be really meaning to
help me home when you bid me do such a dreadful thing as put to sea on
a raft. Not even a well-found ship with a fair wind could venture on
such a distant voyage: nothing that you can say or do shall mage me go
on board a raft unless you first solemnly swear that you mean me no
Calypso smiled at this and caressed him with her hand: "You know a
great deal," said she, "but you are quite wrong here. May heaven above
and earth below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx-
and this is the most solemn oath which a blessed god can take- that
I mean you no sort of harm, and am only advising you to do exactly
what I should do myself in your place. I am dealing with you quite
straightforwardly; my heart is not made of iron, and I am very sorry
When she had thus spoken she led the way rapidly before him, and
Ulysses followed in her steps; so the pair, goddess and man, went on
and on till they came to Calypso's cave, where Ulysses took the seat
that Mercury had just left. Calypso set meat and drink before him of
the food that mortals eat; but her maids brought ambrosia and nectar
for herself, and they laid their hands on the good things that were
before them. When they had satisfied themselves with meat and drink,
Calypso spoke, saying:
"Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, so you would start home to your
own land at once? Good luck go with you, but if you could only know
how much suffering is in store for you before you get back to your own
country, you would stay where you are, keep house along with me, and
let me make you immortal, no matter how anxious you may be to see this
wife of yours, of whom you are thinking all the time day after day;
yet I flatter myself that at am no whit less tall or well-looking than
she is, for it is not to be expected that a mortal woman should
compare in beauty with an immortal."
"Goddess," replied Ulysses, "do not be angry with me about this. I
am quite aware that my wife Penelope is nothing like so tall or so
beautiful as yourself. She is only a woman, whereas you are an
immortal. Nevertheless, I want to get home, and can think of nothing
else. If some god wrecks me when I am on the sea, I will bear it and
make the best of it. I have had infinite trouble both by land and
sea already, so let this go with the rest."
Presently the sun set and it became dark, whereon the pair retired
into the inner part of the cave and went to bed.
When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Ulysses put
on his shirt and cloak, while the goddess wore a dress of a light
gossamer fabric, very fine and graceful, with a beautiful golden
girdle about her waist and a veil to cover her head. She at once set
herself to think how she could speed Ulysses on his way. So she gave
him a great bronze axe that suited his hands; it was sharpened on both
sides, and had a beautiful olive-wood handle fitted firmly on to it.
She also gave him a sharp adze, and then led the way to the far end of
the island where the largest trees grew- alder, poplar and pine,
that reached the sky- very dry and well seasoned, so as to sail
light for him in the water. Then, when she had shown him where the
best trees grew, Calypso went home, leaving him to cut them, which
he soon finished doing. He cut down twenty trees in all and adzed them
smooth, squaring them by rule in good workmanlike fashion. Meanwhile
Calypso came back with some augers, so he bored holes with them and
fitted the timbers together with bolts and rivets. He made the raft as
broad as a skilled shipwright makes the beam of a large vessel, and he
filed a deck on top of the ribs, and ran a gunwale all round it. He
also made a mast with a yard arm, and a rudder to steer with. He
fenced the raft all round with wicker hurdles as a protection
against the waves, and then he threw on a quantity of wood. By and
by Calypso brought him some linen to make the sails, and he made these
too, excellently, making them fast with braces and sheets. Last of
all, with the help of levers, he drew the raft down into the water.
In four days he had completed the whole work, and on the fifth
Calypso sent him from the island after washing him and giving him some
clean clothes. She gave him a goat skin full of black wine, and
another larger one of water; she also gave him a wallet full of
provisions, and found him in much good meat. Moreover, she made the
wind fair and warm for him, and gladly did Ulysses spread his sail
before it, while he sat and guided the raft skilfully by means of
the rudder. He never closed his eyes, but kept them fixed on the
Pleiads, on late-setting Bootes, and on the Bear- which men also
call the wain, and which turns round and round where it is, facing
Orion, and alone never dipping into the stream of Oceanus- for Calypso
had told him to keep this to his left. Days seven and ten did he
sail over the sea, and on the eighteenth the dim outlines of the
mountains on the nearest part of the Phaeacian coast appeared,
rising like a shield on the horizon.
But King Neptune, who was returning from the Ethiopians, caught
sight of Ulysses a long way off, from the mountains of the Solymi.
He could see him sailing upon the sea, and it made him very angry,
so he wagged his head and muttered to himself, saying, heavens, so the
gods have been changing their minds about Ulysses while I was away
in Ethiopia, and now he is close to the land of the Phaeacians,
where it is decreed that he shall escape from the calamities that have
befallen him. Still, he shall have plenty of hardship yet before he
has done with it."
Thereon he gathered his clouds together, grasped his trident,
stirred it round in the sea, and roused the rage of every wind that
blows till earth, sea, and sky were hidden in cloud, and night
sprang forth out of the heavens. Winds from East, South, North, and
West fell upon him all at the same time, and a tremendous sea got
up, so that Ulysses' heart began to fail him. "Alas," he said to
himself in his dismay, "what ever will become of me? I am afraid
Calypso was right when she said I should have trouble by sea before
I got back home. It is all coming true. How black is Jove making
heaven with his clouds, and what a sea the winds are raising from
every quarter at once. I am now safe to perish. Blest and thrice blest
were those Danaans who fell before Troy in the cause of the sons of
Atreus. Would that had been killed on the day when the Trojans were
pressing me so sorely about the dead body of Achilles, for then I
should have had due burial and the Achaeans would have honoured my
name; but now it seems that I shall come to a most pitiable end."
As he spoke a sea broke over him with such terrific fury that the
raft reeled again, and he was carried overboard a long way off. He let
go the helm, and the force of the hurricane was so great that it broke
the mast half way up, and both sail and yard went over into the sea.
For a long time Ulysses was under water, and it was all he could do to
rise to the surface again, for the clothes Calypso had given him
weighed him down; but at last he got his head above water and spat out
the bitter brine that was running down his face in streams. In spite
of all this, however, he did not lose sight of his raft, but swam as
fast as he could towards it, got hold of it, and climbed on board
again so as to escape drowning. The sea took the raft and tossed it
about as Autumn winds whirl thistledown round and round upon a road.
It was as though the South, North, East, and West winds were all
playing battledore and shuttlecock with it at once.
When he was in this plight, Ino daughter of Cadmus, also called
Leucothea, saw him. She had formerly been a mere mortal, but had
been since raised to the rank of a marine goddess. Seeing in what
great distress Ulysses now was, she had compassion upon him, and,
rising like a sea-gull from the waves, took her seat upon the raft.
"My poor good man," said she, "why is Neptune so furiously angry
with you? He is giving you a great deal of trouble, but for all his
bluster he will not kill you. You seem to be a sensible person, do
then as I bid you; strip, leave your raft to drive before the wind,
and swim to the Phaecian coast where better luck awaits you. And here,
take my veil and put it round your chest; it is enchanted, and you can
come to no harm so long as you wear it. As soon as you touch land take
it off, throw it back as far as you can into the sea, and then go away
again." With these words she took off her veil and gave it him. Then
she dived down again like a sea-gull and vanished beneath the dark
But Ulysses did not know what to think. "Alas," he said to himself
in his dismay, "this is only some one or other of the gods who is
luring me to ruin by advising me to will quit my raft. At any rate I
will not do so at present, for the land where she said I should be
quit of all troubles seemed to be still a good way off. I know what
I will do- I am sure it will be best- no matter what happens I will
stick to the raft as long as her timbers hold together, but when the
sea breaks her up I will swim for it; I do not see how I can do any
better than this."
While he was thus in two minds, Neptune sent a terrible great wave
that seemed to rear itself above his head till it broke right over the
raft, which then went to pieces as though it were a heap of dry
chaff tossed about by a whirlwind. Ulysses got astride of one plank
and rode upon it as if he were on horseback; he then took off the
clothes Calypso had given him, bound Ino's veil under his arms, and
plunged into the sea- meaning to swim on shore. King Neptune watched
him as he did so, and wagged his head, muttering to himself and
saying, "'There now, swim up and down as you best can till you fall in
with well-to-do people. I do not think you will be able to say that
I have let you off too lightly." On this he lashed his horses and
drove to Aegae where his palace is.
But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all
the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused
a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till
Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe.
Thereon he floated about for two nights and two days in the water,
with a heavy swell on the sea and death staring him in the face; but
when the third day broke, the wind fell and there was a dead calm
without so much as a breath of air stirring. As he rose on the swell
he looked eagerly ahead, and could see land quite near. Then, as
children rejoice when their dear father begins to get better after
having for a long time borne sore affliction sent him by some angry
spirit, but the gods deliver him from evil, so was Ulysses thankful
when he again saw land and trees, and swam on with all his strength
that he might once more set foot upon dry ground. When, however, he
got within earshot, he began to hear the surf thundering up against
the rocks, for the swell still broke against them with a terrific
roar. Everything was enveloped in spray; there were no harbours
where a ship might ride, nor shelter of any kind, but only
headlands, low-lying rocks, and mountain tops.
Ulysses' heart now began to fail him, and he said despairingly to
himself, "Alas, Jove has let me see land after swimming so far that
I had given up all hope, but I can find no landing place, for the
coast is rocky and surf-beaten, the rocks are smooth and rise sheer
from the sea, with deep water close under them so that I cannot
climb out for want of foothold. I am afraid some great wave will
lift me off my legs and dash me against the rocks as I leave the
water- which would give me a sorry landing. If, on the other hand, I
swim further in search of some shelving beach or harbour, a
hurricane may carry me out to sea again sorely against my will, or
heaven may send some great monster of the deep to attack me; for
Amphitrite breeds many such, and I know that Neptune is very angry
While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with
such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and
torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do. He caught hold
of the rock with both hands and clung to it groaning with pain till
the wave retired, so he was saved that time; but presently the wave
came on again and carried him back with it far into the sea-tearing
his hands as the suckers of a polypus are torn when some one plucks it
from its bed, and the stones come up along with it even so did the
rocks tear the skin from his strong hands, and then the wave drew
him deep down under the water.
Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his
own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him.
He swam seaward again, beyond reach of the surf that was beating
against the land, and at the same time he kept looking towards the
shore to see if he could find some haven, or a spit that should take
the waves aslant. By and by, as he swam on, he came to the mouth of
a river, and here he thought would be the best place, for there were
no rocks, and it afforded shelter from the wind. He felt that there
was a current, so he prayed inwardly and said:
"Hear me, O King, whoever you may be, and save me from the anger
of the sea-god Neptune, for I approach you prayerfully. Any one who
has lost his way has at all times a claim even upon the gods,
wherefore in my distress I draw near to your stream, and cling to
the knees of your riverhood. Have mercy upon me, O king, for I declare
myself your suppliant."
Then the god stayed his stream and stilled the waves, making all
calm before him, and bringing him safely into the mouth of the
river. Here at last Ulysses' knees and strong hands failed him, for
the sea had completely broken him. His body was all swollen, and his
mouth and nostrils ran down like a river with sea-water, so that he
could neither breathe nor speak, and lay swooning from sheer
exhaustion; presently, when he had got his breath and came to
himself again, he took off the scarf that Ino had given him and
threw it back into the salt stream of the river, whereon Ino
received it into her hands from the wave that bore it towards her.
Then he left the river, laid himself down among the rushes, and kissed
the bounteous earth.
"Alas," he cried to himself in his dismay, "what ever will become of
me, and how is it all to end? If I stay here upon the river bed
through the long watches of the night, I am so exhausted that the
bitter cold and damp may make an end of me- for towards sunrise
there will be a keen wind blowing from off the river. If, on the other
hand, I climb the hill side, find shelter in the woods, and sleep in
some thicket, I may escape the cold and have a good night's rest,
but some savage beast may take advantage of me and devour me."
In the end he deemed it best to take to the woods, and he found
one upon some high ground not far from the water. There he crept
beneath two shoots of olive that grew from a single stock- the one
an ungrafted sucker, while the other had been grafted. No wind,
however squally, could break through the cover they afforded, nor
could the sun's rays pierce them, nor the rain get through them, so
closely did they grow into one another. Ulysses crept under these
and began to make himself a bed to lie on, for there was a great
litter of dead leaves lying about- enough to make a covering for two
or three men even in hard winter weather. He was glad enough to see
this, so he laid himself down and heaped the leaves all round him.
Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor,
hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to
get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with
leaves; and Minerva shed a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his
eyelids, and made him lose all memories of his sorrows.
Battle Of Hastings - I
O CHRYSTE, it is a grief for me to tell;
HOW manie a nobil erle and valrous knyghte
In fyghtynge for Kynge Harrold noblie fell,
Al sleyne in Hastyngs feeld in bloudie fyghte.
O sea! our teeming donore han thy floude,
Han anie fructuous entendement,
Thou wouldst have rose and sank wyth tydes of bloude,
Before Duke Wyllyam's knyghts han hither went;
Whose cowart arrows manie erles sleyne,
And brued the feeld wyth bloude as season rayne.
And of his knyghtes did eke full manie die,
All passyng hie, of mickle myghte echone,
Whose poygnant arrowes, typp'd with destynie,
Caus'd manie wydowes to make myckle mone.
Lordynges, avaunt, that chycken-harted are,
From out of hearynge quicklie now deparle;
Full well I wote, to synge of bloudie warre
Will greeve your tenderlie and mayden harte.
Go, do the weaklie womman inn mann's geare,
And scond your mansion if grymm war come there.
Soone as the erlie maten belle was tolde,
And sonne was come to byd us all good daie,
Bothe armies on the feeld, both brave and bolde,
Prepar'd for fyghte in champyon arraie.
As when two bulles, destynde for Hocktide fyghte,
Are yoked bie the necke within a sparre,
Theie rend the erthe, and travellyrs affryghte,
Lackynge to gage the sportive bloudie warre;
Soe lacked Harroldes menne to come to blowes,
The Normans lacked for to wielde their bowes.
Kynge Harrolde turnynge to hys leegemen spake;
My merrie men, be not caste downe in mynde;
Your onlie lode for aye to mar or make,
Before yon sunne has donde his welke, you'll fynde.
Your lovyng wife, who erst dyd rid the londe
Of Lurdanes, and the treasure that you han,
Wyll falle into the Normanne robber's honde,
Unlesse with honde and harte you plaie the manne.
Cheer up youre hartes, chase sorrowe farre awaie,
Godde and Seyncte Cuthbert be the worde to daie.
And thenne Duke Wyllyam to his knyghtes did saie;
My merrie menne, be bravelie everiche;
Gif I do gayn the honore of the daie,
Ech one of you I will make myckle riche.
Beer you in mynde, we for a kyngdomm fyghte;
Lordshippes and honores echone shall possesse;
Be this the worde to daie, God and my Ryghte;
Ne doubte but God will oure true cause blesse.
The clarions then sounded sharpe and shrille;
Deathdoeynge blades were out intent to kille.
And brave Kyng Harrolde had nowe donde hys saie;
He threwe wythe myghte amayne hys shorte horse-spear,
The noise it made the duke to turn awaie,
And hytt his knyghte, de Beque, upon the ear.
His cristede beaver dyd him smalle abounde;
The cruel spear went thorough all his hede;
The purpel blonde came goushynge to the ground;
And at Duke Wyllyam's feet he tumbled deade:
So fell the myghtie tower of Standrip, whenne
It felte the furie of the Danish menne.
O Afflem, son of Cuthbert, holie Sayncte,
Come ayde thy freend, and shewe Duke Wyllyams payne;
Take up thy pencyl, all hys features paincte;
Thy coloryng excells a synger strayne.
Duke Wyllyam sawe hys freende sleyne piteouslie,
Hys lovynge freende whome he muche honored,
For he han lovd hym from puerilitie,
And theie together bothe han bin ybred:
O! in Duke Wyllyam's harte it raysde a flame,
To whiche the rage of emptie wolves is tame.
He tooke a brasen crosse-bowe in his honde,
And drewe it harde with all hys myghte amein,
Ne doubtyng but the bravest in the londe
Han by his soundynge arrowe-lede bene sleyne.
Alured's stede, the fynest stede alive,
Bye comelie forme knowlached from the rest;
But nowe his destind howre did aryve,
The arrowe hyt upon his milkwhite breste.
So have I seen a ladie-smock soe white,
Blown in the mornynge, and mowd downe at night.
With thilk a force it dyd his bodie gore,
That in his tender guttes it entered,
In veritee a fulle clothe yarde or more,
And downe with flaiten noyse he sunken dede
Brave Alured, benethe his faithfull horse,
Was smeerd all over withe the gorie duste,
And on hym laie the recer's lukewarme corse,
That Alured coulde not hymself aluste.
The standyng Normans drew theyr bowe echone,
And broght full manie Englysh champyons downe.
The Normans kept aloofe, at distaunce stylle,
The Englysh nete but short horse-spears could welde;
The Englysh manie dethe-sure dartes did kille,
And manie arrowes twang'd upon the sheelde.
Kynge Haroldes knyghts desir'de for hendie stroke,
And marched furious o'er the bloudie pleyne,
In bodie close, and made the pleyne to smoke;
Theire sheelds rebounded arrowes back agayne.
The Normans stode aloof; nor hede the same,
Their arrowes woulde do dethe, tho' from far of they came.
Duke Wyllyam drewe agen hys arrowe strynge,
An arrowe withe a sylver-hede drewe he;
The arrowe dauncynge in the ayre dyd synge,
And hytt the horse of Tosselyn on the knee.
At this brave Tosslyn threwe his short horse-speare;
Duke Wyllyam stooped to avoyde the blowe;
The yrone weapon hummed in his eare,
And hitte Sir Doullie Naibor on the prowe.
Upon his helme foe surious was the stroke,
It splete his bever, and the ryvets broke.
Downe fell the beaver by Tosslyn splete in tweine,
And onn his hede expos'd a punie wounde,
But on Destoutvilles sholder came ameine,
And fell'd the champyon to the bloudie grounde.
Then Doullie myghte his bowestrynge drewe,
Enthoughte to gyve brave Tosslyn bloudie wounde,
But Harolde's asenglave stopp'd it as it flewe,
And it fell bootless on the bloudie grounde.
Siere Doullie, when he sawe hys venge thus broke,
Death-doynge blade from out the scabard toke.
And now the battail closde on everych syde,
And face to face appeard the knyghts full brave;
They lifted up theire bylles with myckle pryde,
And manie woundes unto the Normans gave.
So have I sene two weirs at once give grounde,
White fomyng hygh to rorynge combat runne;
In roaryng dyn and heaven-breaking sounde,
Burste waves on waves, and spangle in the sunne;
And when their myghte in burstynge waves is fled,
Like cowards, stele alonge their ozy bede.
Yonge Egelrede, a knyghte of comelie mien,
Affynd unto the kynge of Dynefarre,
At echone tylte and tourney he was seene,
And lov'd to be amonge the bloudie warre;
He couch'd hys launce, and ran wyth mickle myghte
Ageinste the brest of Sieur de Bonoboe;
He grond and sunken on the place of fyghte,
O Chryste! to fele his wounde, his harte was woe.
Ten thousand thoughtes push'd in upon his mynde,
Not for hymself, but those he left behynde.
He dy'd and leffed wyfe and chyldren tweine,
Whom he wyth cheryshment did dearlie love;
In England's court, in goode Kynge Edwarde's regne,
He wonne the tylte, and ware her crymson glove;
And thence unto the place where he was borne,
Together with hys welthe & better wyfe,
To Normandie he dyd perdie returne,
In peace and quietnesse to lead his lyfe;
And now with sovrayn Wyllyam he came,
To die in battel, or get welthe and fame.
Then, swefte as lyghtnynge, Egelredus set
Agaynst du Barlie of the mounten head;
In his dere hartes bloude his longe launce was wett,
And from his courser down he tumbled dede.
So have I sene a mountayne oak, that longe
Has caste his shadowe to the mountayne syde,
Brave all the wyndes, tho' ever they so stronge,
And view the briers belowe with self-taught pride;
But, whan throwne downe by mightie thunder stroke,
He'de rather bee a bryer than an oke.
Then Egelred dyd in a declynie
Hys launce uprere with all hys myghte ameine,
And strok Fitzport upon the dexter eye,
And at his pole the spear came out agayne.
Butt as he drewe it forthe, an arrowe fledde
Wyth mickle myght lent from de Tracy's bowe,
And at hys syde the arrowe entered,
And oute the crymson streme of bloude gan flowe;
In purple strekes it dyd his armer staine,
And smok'd in puddles on the dustie plaine.
But Egelred, before he sunken downe,
With all his myghte amein his spear besped,
It hytte Bertrammil Manne upon the crowne,
And bothe together quicklie sunken dede.
So have I seen a roche o'er others hang;
Who stronglie plac'd laughde at his slippry state,
But when he falls with heaven-peercynge bange
That he the sleeve unravels all theire fate,
And broken onn the beech thys lesson speak,
The stronge and firme should not defame the weake.
Howel ap Jevah came from Matraval,
Where he by chaunce han slayne a noble's son,
And now was come to fyghte at Harold's call,
And in the battel he much goode han done;
Unto Kyng Harold he foughte mickle near,
For he was yeoman of the bodie guard;
And with a targyt and a fyghtyng spear,
He of his boddie han kepte watch and ward
True as a shadow to a substant thynge,
So true he guarded Harold hys good kynge.
But when Egelred tumbled to the grounde,
He from Kynge Harolde quicklie dyd advaunce,
And strooke de Tracie thilk a crewel wounde,
Hys harte and lever came out on the launce.
And then retreted for to guarde his kynge,
On dented launce he bore the harte awaie;
An arrowe came from Auffroie Griel's strynge,
Into hys heele betwyxt hys yron staie;
The grey-goose pynion, that thereon was sett,
Eftsoons wyth stnokyng crymson blond was wett.
His bloude at this was waxen flaminge hotte,
Without adoe he turned once agayne,
And hytt de Griel thilk a blowe, God wote,
Maugre hys helm, he splete his hede in twayne.
This Auffroie was a manne of mickle pryde,
Whose featliest bewty ladden in his face;
His chaunce in warr he ne before han tryde,
But lyv'd in love and Rosaline's embrace;
And like a useless weede amonge the haie
Amonge the sleine warriours Griel laie.
Kynge Harolde then he putt his yeomen bie,
And ferslie ryd into the bloudie fyghte;
Erle Ethelwolf, and Goodrick, and Alfie,
Cuthbert, and Goddard, mical menne of myghte,
Ethelwin, Ethelbert, and Edwyn too,
Effred the famous, and Erle Ethelwarde,
Kynge Harolde's leegemenn, erlies hie and true,
Rode after hym, his bodie for to guarde;
The reste of erlies, fyghtynge other wheres,
Stained with Norman bloude theire fyghtynge speres.
As when some ryver with the season raynes
White fomynge hie doth breke the bridges oft,
Oerturns the hamelet and all conteins,
And layeth oer the hylls a muddie soft;
So Harold ranne upon his Normanne foes.
And layde the greate and small upon the grounde,
And delte among them thilke a store of blowes,
Full manie a Normanne fell by him dede wounde;
So who he be that ouphant faieries strike,
Their soules will wander to Kynge Offa's dyke.
Fitz Salnarville, Duke William's favourite knyghte,
To noble Edelwarde his life dyd yielde;
Withe hys tylte launce hee stroke with thilk a myghte,
The Norman's bowels steemde upon the feeld.
Old Salnarville beheld hys son lie ded,
Against Erle Edelward his bowe-strynge drewe;
But Harold at one blowe made tweine his head;
He dy'd before the poignant arrowe slew.
So was the hope of all the issue gone,
And in one battle fell the sire and son.
De Aubignee rod fercely thro' the fyghte,
To where the boddie of Salnarville laie;
Quod he; And art thou ded, thou manne of myghte?
I'll be revengd, or die for thee this daie.
Die then thou shalt, Erle Ethelwarde he said;
I am a cunnynge Erle, and that can tell;
Then drewe hys swerde, and ghastlie cut hys hede,
And on his freend eftsoons he lifeless fell,
Stretch'd on the bloudie pleyne; great God forefend,
It be the fate of no such trustie freende!
Then Egwin Sieur Pikeny did attaque;
He turned aboute and vilely souten flie;
But Egwyn cutt so deepe into his backe,
He rolled on the grounde and soon dyd die.
His distant sonne, Sire Romara de Biere,
Soughte to revenge his fallen kynsman's lote,
But soone Erle Cuthbert's dented fyghtyng spear
Stucke in his harte, and stayd his speed, God wote.
He tumbled downe close by hys kynsman's syde,
Myngle their stremes of pourple bloude, and dy'd.
And now an arrowe from a bowe unwote
Into Erle Cuthbert's harte eftsoons dyd flee;
Who dying sayd; ah me! how hard my lote!
Now slayne, mayhap, of one of lowe degree.
So have I seen a leafie elm of yore
Have been the pride and glorie of the pleine;
But, when the spendyng landlord is growne poore,
It falls benethe the axe of some rude sweine;
And like the oke, the sovran of the woode,
It's fallen boddie tells you how it stoode.
When Edelward perceevd Erle Cuthbert die,
On Hubert strongest of the Normanne crewe,
As wolfs when hungred on the cattel flie,
So Edelward amaine upon him slewe.
With thilk a force he hyt hym to the grounde;
And was demasing howe to take his life,
When he behynde received a ghastlie wounde
Gyven by de Torcie, with a stabbyng knyfe;
Base trecherous Normannes, if such actes you doe,
The conquer'd maie clame victorie of you.
The erlie felt de Torcie's trecherous knyfe
Han made his crymson bloude and spirits floe;
And knowlachyng he soon must quyt this lyfe,
Resolved Hubert should too with hym goe.
He held hys trustie swerd against his breste,
And down he fell, and peerc'd him to the harte;
And both together then did take their reste,
Their soules from corpses unaknell'd depart;
And both together soughte the unknown shore,
Where we shall goe, where manie's gon before.
Kynge Harolde Torcie's trechery dyd spie,
And hie alofe his temper'd swerde dyd welde,
Cut offe his arm; and made the bloude to flie,
His proofe steel armoure did him littel sheelde;
And not contente, he splete his hede in twaine,
And down he tumbled on the bloudie grounde;
Mean while the other erlies on the playne
Gave and received manie a bloudie wounde,
Such as the arts in warre han learnt with care,
But manie knyghtes were women in men's geer.
Herrewald, borne on Sarim's spreddyng plaine,
Where Thor's fam'd temple manie ages stoode;
Where Druids, auncient preests, did ryghtes ordaine,
And in the middle shed the victyms bloude;
Where auncient Bards dyd their verses synge
Of Cæsar conquer'd, and his mighty hoste,
And how old Tynyan, necromancing kynge,
Wreck'd all hys shyppyng on the Brittish coaste,
And made hym in his tatter'd barks to flie,
'Till Tynyan's dethe and opportunity.
To make it more renomed than before,
(I, tho a Saxon, yet the truthe will telle)
The Saxonnes steynd the place wyth Brittish gore,
Where nete but bloud of sacrifices felle.
Tho' Chrystians, stylle they thoghte mouche of the pile,
And here theie mett when causes dyd it neede;
'Twas here the auncient Elders of the Isle
Dyd by the trecherie of Hengist bleede;
O Hengist! han thy cause bin good and true,
Thou wouldst such murdrous acts as these eschew.
The erlie was a manne of hie degree,
And han that daie full manie Normannes sleine;
Three Norman Champyons of hie degree
He lefte to smoke upon the bloudie pleine.
The Sier Fitzbotevilleine did then advaunce,
And with his bowe he smote the erlies hede;
Who eftsoons gored hym with his tylting launce,
And at his horses feet he tumbled dede.
His partyng spirit hovered o'er the floude
Of soddayne roushynge mouche lov'd pourple bloude.
De Viponte then, a squier of low degree,
An arrowe drewe with all his myghte ameine;
The arrowe graz'd upon the erlies knee,
A punie wounde, that causd but littel peine.
So have I seene a Dolthead place a stone,
Enthoghte to staie a driving rivers course;
But better han it bin to lett alone,
It onlie drives it on with mickle force;
The erlie, wounded by so base a hynde,
Rays'd furyous doyngs in his noble mynde.
The Siere Chatillion, yonger of that name,
Advaunced next before the erlie's syghte;
His fader was a manne of mickle fame,
And he renomde and valorous in fyghte.
Chatillion his trustie swerd forth drew;
The Erle drawes his, menne both of mickle myghte;
And at eche other vengouslie they flewe,
As mastie dogs at Hocktide set to fyghte;
Bothe scornd to yeelde, and bothe abhor'de to flie,
Resolv'd to vanquishe, or resolv'd to die.
Chatillion hyt the erlie on the hede,
Thatt splytte eftsoons his cristed helm in twayne;
Whiche he perforce withe target covered,
And to the battel went with myghte ameine.
The erlie hytte Chatillion thilke a blowe
Upon his breste, his harte was plein to see;
He tumbled at the horses feet alsoe,
And in dethe panges he seez'd the recer's knee.
Faste as the ivy rounde the oke doth clymbe,
So faste he dying gryp'd the recer's lymbe.
The recer then beganne to flynge and kicke,
And toste the erlie farr off to the grounde;
The erlie's squier then a swerde did sticke
Into his harte, a dedlie ghastlie wounde;
And downe he felle upon the crymson pleine,
Upon Chatillion's soulless corse of claie;
A puddlie streme of bloude flow'd oute ameine;
Stretch'd out at length besmer'd with gore he laie;
As some tall oke fell'd from the greenie plaine,
To live a second time upon the main.
The erlie nowe an horse and beaver han,
And nowe agayne appered on the feeld;
And manie a mickle knyghte and mightie manne
To his dethe-doyng swerd his life did yeeld;
When Siere de Broque an arrowe longe lett flie,
Intending Herewaldus to have sleyne;
It miss'd; butt hytte Edardus on the eye,
And at his pole came out with horrid payne.
Edardus felle upon the bloudie grounde,
His noble soule came roushyng from the wounde.
Thys Herewald perceevd, and full of ire
He on the Siere de Broque with furie came;
Quod he; thou'st slaughtred my beloved squier,
But I will be revenged for the same.
Into his bowels then his launce he thruste,
And drew thereout a steemie drerie lode;
Quod he; these offals are for ever curst,
Shall serve the choughs, and rooks, and dawes, for foode.
Then on the pleine the steemie lode hee throwde,
Smokynge wyth lyfe, and dy'd with crymson bloude.
Fitz Broque, who saw his father killen lie,
Ah me! sayde he; what woeful syghte I seel
But now I must do somethyng more than sighe;
And then an arrowe from the bowe drew he.
Beneth the erlie's navil came the darte;
Fitz Broque on foote han drawne it from the bowe;
And upwards went into the erlie's harte,
And out the crymson streme of bloude 'gan flowe.
As fromm a hatch, drawne with a vehement geir,
White rushe the burstynge waves, and roar along the weir.
The Erle with one honde grasp'd the recer's mayne,
And with the other he his launce besped;
And then felle bleedyng on the bloudie plaine.
His launce it hytte Fitz Broque upon the hede;
Upon his hede it made a wounde full slyghte,
But peerc'd his shoulder, ghastlie wounde inferne,
Before his optics daunced a shade of nyghte,
Whyche soone were closed ynn a sleepe eterne.
The noble erlie than, withote a grone,
Took flyghte, to fynde the regyons unknowne.
Brave Alured from binethe his noble horse
Was gotten on his leggs, with bloude all smore;
And now eletten on another horse,
Eftsoons he withe his launce did manie gore.
The cowart Norman knyghtes before hym fledde,
And from a distaunce sent their arrowes keene;
But noe such destinie awaits his hedde,
As to be sleyen by a wighte so meene.
Tho oft the oke falls by the villen's shock,
'Tys moe than hyndes can do, to move the rock.
Upon du Chatelet he ferselie sett,
And peerc'd his bodie with a force full grete;
The asenglave of his tylt-launce was wett,
The rollynge bloude alonge the launce did fleet.
Advauncynge, as a mastie at a bull,
He rann his launce into Fitz Warren's harte;
From Partaies bowe, a wight unmercifull,
Within his owne he felt a cruel darte;
Close by the Norman champyons he han sleine,
He fell; and mixd his bloude with theirs upon the pleine.
Erle Ethelbert then hove, with clinie just,
A launce, that stroke Partaie upon the thighe,
And pinn'd him downe unto the gorie duste;
Cruel, quod he, thou cruellie shalt die.
With that his launce he enterd at his throte;
He scritch'd and screem'd in melancholie mood;
And at his backe eftsoons came out, God wote,
And after it a crymson streme of bloude.
In agonie and peine he there dyd lie,
While life and dethe strove for the masterrie,
He gryped hard the bloudie murdring launce,
And in a grone he left this mortel lyfe.
Behynde the erlie Fiscampe did advaunce,
Bethoghte to kill him with a stabbynge knife;
But Egward, who perceevd his fowle intent,
Eftsoons his trustie swerde he forthwyth drewe,
And thilke a cruel blowe to Fiscampe sent,
That soule and bodie's bloude at one gate flewe.
Thilk deeds do all deserve, whose deeds so fowle
Will black theire earthlie name, if not their soule.
When lo! an arrowe from Walleris honde,
Winged with fate and dethe daunced alonge;
And slewe the noble flower of Powyslonde,
Howel ap Jevah, who yclepd the stronge.
Whan he the first mischaunce received han,
With horsemans haste he from the armie rodde;
And did repaire unto the cunnynge manne,
Who sange a charme, that dyd it mickle goode;
Then praid Seyncte Cuthbert, and our holie Dame
To blesse his labour, and to heal the same.
Then drewe the arrowe, and the wounde did seck,
And putt the teint of holie herbies on;
And putt a rowe of bloude-stones round his neck;
And then did say; go, champyon, get agone.
And now was comynge Harrolde to defend,
And metten with Walleris cruel darte;
His sheelde of wolf-skinn did him not attend,
The arrow peerced into his noble harte.
As some tall oke, hewn from the mountayne hed,
Fall to the pleine; so fell the warriour dede.
His countryman, brave Mervyn ap Teudor,
Who love of hym han from his country gone,
When he perceevd his friend lie in his gore,
As furious as a mountayne wolf he ranne.
As ouphant faieries, whan the moone sheenes bryghte,
In littel circles daunce upon the greene,
All living creatures flie far from their syghte,
Ne by the race of destinie be seen;
For what he be that ouphant faieries stryke,
Their soules will wander to Kyng Offa's dyke.
So from the face of Mervyn Tewdor brave
The Normans eftsoons fled awaie aghaste;
And lefte behynde their bowe and asenglave,
For fear of hym, in thilk a cowart haste.
His garb sufficient were to move affryghte;
A wolf skin girded round his myddle was;
A bear skyn, from Norwegians wan in fyghte,
Was tytend round his shoulders by the claws.
So Hercules, 'tis sunge, much like to him,
Upon his sholder wore a lyon's skin.
Upon his thyghes and harte-swefte legges he wore
A hugie goat skyn, all of one grete peice;
A boar skyn sheelde on his bare armes he bore;
His gauntletts were the skynn of harte of greece.
They fledde; he followed close upon their heels,
Vowynge vengeance for his deare countrymanne;
And Siere de Sancelotte his vengeance feels;
He peerc'd hys backe, and out the bloude ytt ranne.
His bloude went downe the swerde unto his arme,
In springing rivulet, alive and warme.
His swerde was shorte, and broade, and myckle keene,
And no mann's bone could stonde to stoppe itts waie;
The Normann's harte in partes two cutt cleane,
He clos'd his eyne, and clos'd hys eyne for aie.
Then with his swerde he sett on Fitz du Valle,
A knyghte mouch famous for to runne at tylte;
With thilk a furie on hym he dyd falle,
Into his neck he ranne the swerde and hylte;
As myghtie lyghtenynge often has been founde
To drive an oke into unfallow'd grounde.
And with the swerde, that in his neck yet stoke,
The Norman fell unto the bloudie grounde;
And with the fall ap Tewdore's swerde he broke,
And bloude afreshe came trickling from the wounde
As whan the hyndes, before a mountayne wolfe,
Flie from his paws, and angrie vysage grym;
But when he falls into the pittie golphe,
They dare hym to his bearde, and battone hym;
And cause he fryghted them so muche before,
Lyke cowart hyndes, they battone hym the more.
So, whan they sawe ap Tewdore was bereft
Of his keen swerde, thatt wroghte thilke great dismaie
They turned about, eftsoons upon hym lept,
And full a score engaged in the fraie.
Mervyn ap Tewdore, ragyng as a bear,
Seiz'd on the beaver of the Sier de Laque;
And wring'd his hedde with such a vehement gier,
His visage was turned round unto his backe.
Backe to his harte retyr'd the useless gore,
And felle upon the pleine to rise no more.
Then on the mightie Siere Fitz Pierce he flew,
And broke his helm and seiz'd hym bie the throte.
Then manie Normann knyghtes their arrowes drew,
That enter'd into Mervyn's harte, God woote.
In dying panges he gryp'd his throte more stronge,
And from their sockets started out his eyes;
And from his mouthe came out his blameless tonge
And bothe in peyne and anguishe eftsoon dies.
As some rude rocke torne from his bed of claie,
Stretch'd onn the pleyne the brave ap Tewdore laie.
And now Erle Ethelbert and Egward came
Brave Mervyn from the Normannes to assist;
A myghtie siere, Fitz Chatulet bie name,
An arrowe drew, that dyd them littel list.
Erle Egward points his launce at Chatulet,
And Ethelbert at Walleris set his;
And Egwald dyd the siere a hard blowe hytt,
But Ethelbert by a myschaunce dyd miss.
Fear laide Walleris flat upon the strande,
He ne deserved a death from erlies hande.
Betwyxt the ribbes of Sire Fitz Chatelet
The poynted launce of Egward did ypass;
The distaunt syde thereof was ruddie wet,
And he fell breathless on the bloudie grass.
As cowart Walleris laie on the grounde,
The dreaded weapon hummed oer his heade,
And hytt the squier thylke a lethal wounde,
Upon his fallen lorde he tumbled dead.
Oh shame to Norman armes! a lord a slave,
A captyve villeyn than a lorde more brave!
From Chatelet hys launce Erle Egward drew,
And hit Wallerie on the dexter cheek;
Peerc'd to his braine, and cut his tongue in two.
There, knyght, quod he, let that thy actions speak --
Shakuntala Act 1
King Dushyant in a chariot, pursuing an antelope, with a bow and quiver, attended by his Charioteer.
Suta (Charioteer). [Looking at the antelope, and then at the king]
When I cast my eye on that black antelope, and on thee, O king, with thy braced bow, I see before me, as it were, the God Mahésa chasing a hart (male deer), with his bow, named Pináca, braced in his left hand.
King Dushyant: The fleet animal has given us a long chase. Oh! there he runs, with his neck bent gracefully, looking back, from time to time, at the car (chariot) which follows him. Now, through fear of a descending shaft, he contracts his forehand, and extends his flexible haunches; and now, through fatigue, he pauses to nibble the grass in his path with his mouth half opened. See how he springs and bounds with long steps, lightly skimming the ground, and rising high in the air! And now so rapid is his flight, that he is scarce discernible!
Suta: The ground was uneven, and the horses were checked in their course. He has taken advantage of our delay. It is level now, and we may easily overtake him.
King Dushyant: Loosen the reins.
Suta: As the king commands. – [He drives the car first at full speed, and then gently.] – He could not escape. The horses were not even touched by the clouds of dust which they raised; they tossed their manes, erected their ears, and rather glided than galloped over the smooth plain.
King Dushyant: They soon outran the swift antelope. –Objects which, from their distance, appeared minute, presently became larger: what was really divided, seemed united, as we passed; and what was in truth bent, seemed straight. So swift was the motion of the wheels, that nothing, for many moments, was either distant or near. [He fixes an arrow in his bowstring.]
[Behind the scenes.] He must not be slain. This antelope, O king, has an asylum in our forest: he must not be slain.
Suta: [Listening and Looking.] Just as the animal presents a fair mark for our arrow, two hermits are advancing to interrupt your aim
King Dushyant: Then stop the car.
Suta: The king is obeyed. [He draws in the reins.]
Enter a Hermit and his Pupil.
Hermit: [Raising his hands.] Slay not, O mighty sovereign, slay not a poor fawn, who has found a place of refuge. No, surely, no; he must not be hurt. An arrow in the delicate body of a deer would be like fire in bale of cotton. Compared with thy keen shafts, how weak must be the tender hide of a young antelope! Replace quickly, oh! replace the arrow which thou hast aimed. The weapons of you kings and warriors are destined for the relief of the oppressed, not for the destruction of the guiltless.
King Dushyant: [Saluting them.] It is replaced.
[He places the arrow in his quiver.]
Hermit: [With joy] Worthy is that act of thee, most illustrious; of monarchs; worthy, indeed, of a prince descended from Puru. Mayst thou have a son adorned with virtues, a sovereign of the world!
Pupil: [Elevating both his hands.] Oh! by all means, may thy son be adorned with every virtue, a sovereign of the world!
King Dushyant: [Bowing to them.] My head bears with reverence the order of a Bráhmin
Hermit: Great king, we came hither to collect wood for a solemn sacrifice; and this forest, and the banks of the Malini, affords an asylum to the wild animals protected by Shakuntala, (Shakuntala) whom our holy preceptor Kanva has received as a sacred deposit. If you have no other avocation, enter yon grove, and let the rights of hospitality be duly performed. Having seen with your own eyes the virtuous behaviour of those whose only wealth is their piety, but whose worldly cares are now at an end, you will then exclaim, 'How many good subjects are defended by this arm, which the bowstring has made callous!'
King Dushyant: Is the master of your family at home?
Hermit: Our preceptor is gone to Sómatirt'ha, in hopes of deprecating some calamity, with which destiny threatens the irreproachable Shakuntala, and he has charged her, in his absence, to receive all guests with due honour.
King Dushyant: Holy man, I will attend her; and she, having observed my devotion, will report it favourably to the venerable sage.
Both: Be it so; and we depart on our own business. [The Hermit and his Pupil go out.]
King Dushyant: Drive on Suta. By visiting the abode of holiness, we shall purify our souls.
Suta: As the king (may his life be long!) commands. [He drives on.]
King Dushyant:[Looking on all sides.] That we are near the dwelling–place of pious hermits, would clearly have appeared, even if it had not been told.
Suta: By what marks?
King Dushyant: Do you not observe them? See under yon trees the hallowed grains which have been scattered on the ground, while the tender female parrots were feeding their unfledged young in their pendent nest. Mark in other places the shining pieces of polished stone which have bruised the oil fruit of the sacred Ingudì. Look at the young fawns, which, having acquired confidence in man, and accustomed themselves to the sound of his voice, frisk at pleasure, without varying their course. Even the surface of the river is reddened with lines of consecrated bark, which float down its stream.
Look again; the roots of yon trees are bathed in the waters of holy pools, which quiver as the breeze plays upon them; and the glowing lustre of yon fresh leaves is obscured, for a time, by smoke that rises from oblations of clarified butter. See too, where the young roes (deers) graze, without apprehension from our approach, on the lawn before yonder garden, where the tops of the sacrificial grass, cut for some religious rite, are sprinkled around.
Suta: I now observe holy habitation.
Dushm. [Turning aside.] This awful (awe inspiring)sanctuary, my friend, must not be violated. Here, therefore, stop the car; that I may descend.
Char. I hold in the reins. The king may descend at his pleasure.
King Dushyant:[Having descended, and looking at his own dress.] Groves devoted to religion must be entered in humbler habiliments (garments). Take these regal ornaments;–[the Charioteer receives them] –and, whilst I am observing those who inhabit this retreat, let the horses be watered and dressed.
Suta: Be it as you direct! [He goes out.]
King Dushyant: [Walking around and looking.] Now then I enter the sanctuary. –[He enters the grove.] –Oh! this place must be holy, my right arm throbs. –[Pausing and considering.] –What new acquisition does this omen promise in a sequestered grove? But the gates of predestined events are in all places open.
[Behind the Scenes.] Come hither, my beloved companions; Oh! come hither.
King Dushyant: [Listening.] Hah! I hear female voices to the right of yon arbour (tree). I am resolved to know who are conversing. –[He walks round and looks.] –There are some damsels, I see, belonging to the hermit's family who carry water–pots of different sizes proportioned to their strength, and are going to water the delicate plants. Oh! how charmingly they look! If the beauty of maids who dwell in woodland retreats cannot easily be found in the recesses of a palace, the garden flowers must make room for the blossoms of the forest, which excel them in colour and fragrance. [He stands gazing at them.]
Enter Shakuntala, Anusuya, and Priyamvada.
Anusuya: O my Shakuntala, it is in thy society that the trees of our father Canna seem to me delightful; it well becomes thee, who art soft as the fresh–blown Mallicá, to fill with water the canals which have been dug round these tender shrubs.
Shakuntala: It is not only in obedience to our father that I thus employ myself, though that were a sufficient motive, but I really feel the affection of a sister for these young plants. [Watering them.]
Priyamvada: My beloved friend, the shrubs which you have watered flower in the summer, which is now begun: let us give water to those which have passed their flowering time; for our virtue will be the greater when it is wholly disinterested.
Shakuntala: Excellent advice! [Watering other plants.]
King Dushyant: [Aside in transport.] How! is that Kanva's daughter, Shakuntala? –[With surprise.] –The venerable sage must have an unfeeling heart, since he has allotted a mean employment to so lovely a girl, and has dressed her in a coarse mantle of woven bark. He, who could with that so beautiful a creature, who at first sight ravishes my soul, should endure the hardships of his austere devotion, would attempt, I suppose, to cleave the hard wood Samì with a leaf of the blue lotos (lotus). Let me retire behind this tree, that I may gaze on her charms without diminishing her confidence. [He retires.]
Shakuntala: My friend Priyamvada has tied this mantle of bark so closely over my bosom that it gives me pain: Anusúuya, I request you to untie it.
[Anusuya unties the mantle.]
Priyamvada: [Laughing.] Well, my sweet friend, enjoy, while you may, that youthful prime, which gives your bosom so beautiful a swell.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Admirably spoken, Priyamvada! No; her charms cannot be hidden, even though a robe of intertwisted fibres be thrown over her shoulders, and conceal a part of her bosom, like a veil of yellow leaves enfolding a radiant flower. The water lily, though dark moss may settle on its head, is nevertheless beautiful; and the moon with dewy beams is rendered yet brighter by its black spots. The bark itself acquires elegance from the features of a girl with antelope's eyes, and rather augments than diminishes my ardour. Many are the rough stalks which support the water lily; but many and exquisite are the blossoms which hang on them.
Shakuntala: [Looking before her.] Yon Amra tree, my friends, points with the finger of its leaves, which the gale gently agitates, and seems inclined to whisper some secret. I will go near it. [They all approach the tree.]
Priyamvada: O my Shakuntala, let us remain some time in this shade.
Shakuntala: Why here particularly?
Priyamvada: Because the Amra tree seems wedded to you, who are graceful as the blooming creeper which twines round it.
Shakuntala: Properly are you named Priyamvada, or speaking lovingly (kindly).
King Dushyant: [Aside.] She speaks truly. Yes; her lip glows like the tender leaflet; her arms resemble two flexible stalks; and youthful beauty shines, like a blossom, in all her lineaments.
Anusuya: See, my Shakuntala, how yon fresh Malicá, which you have surnamed Vanàdósini, or Delight of the Grove, has chosen the sweet Amra for her bridegroom.
Shakuntala: [Approaching, and looking at it with pleasure.] How charming is the season, when the nuptials even of plants are thus publicly celebrated! [She stands admiring it.]
Priyamvada: [Smiling.] Do you know, my Anusuya, why Shakuntala gazes on the plants with such rapture?
Anusuya: No, indeed: I was trying to guess. Pray, tell me.
Priyamvada: 'As the Grove's Delight is united to a suitable tree, thus I too hope for a bridegroom to my mind.' –That is her private thought at this moment.
Shakuntala Such are the sights of your own imagination. [Inverting the water–pot.]
Anusuya: Here is a plant, Shakuntala, which you have forgotten, though it has grown up, like yourself, under the fostering care of our father Kanva.
Shakuntala: Then I shall forget myself. –O wonderful! –[approaching the plant.] –O Priyamvada! [looking at it with joy] I have delightful tidings for you.
Priyamvada: What tidings, my beloved, for me?
Shakuntala: This Madhavi–creeper, though it be not the usual time for flowering, is covered with gay blossoms from its root to its top.
Both. [Approaching it hastily.] Is it really so, sweet friend?
Shakuntala: Is it so? Look yourselves.
Priyamvada: [With eagerness] From this omen, Shakuntala, I announce you an excellent husband, who will very soon take you by the hand. [Both girls look at Shakuntala.]
Shakuntala [Displeased.] A strange fancy of yours!
Priyamvada: Indeed, my beloved, I speak not jestingly. I heard something from our father Kanva. Your nurture of these plants has prospered; and thence it is, that I foretell your approaching nuptials.
Anusuya: It is thence, my Priyamvada, that she has watered them with so much alacrity.
Shakuntala: The Madhavi plant is my sister; can I do otherwise than cherish her?
[Pouring water on it.]
King Dushyant: [Aside.] I fear she is of the same religious order with her foster–father. Or has a mistaken apprehension risen in my mind? My warm heart is so attached to her, that she cannot but be a fit match for a man of the military class. The doubts which awhile perplex the good, are soon removed by the prevalence of their strong inclinations. I am enamoured of her, and she cannot, therefore, be the daughter of a Brahmin, whom I could not marry.
Shakuntala: [Moving her head.] Alas! a bee has left the blossom of this Mallicá, and is fluttering round my face. [She expresses uneasiness.]
King Dushyant: [Aside, with affection.] How often have I seen our court damsels affectedly turn their heads aside from some roving insect, merely to display their graces! But this rural charmer knits her brows, and gracefully moves her eyes through fear only, without art or affectation. Oh! happy– bee, who touchest the corner of that eye beautifully trembling; who, approaching the tip of that ear, murmurs as softly as if thou wert whispering a secret of love; and who sippest nectar, while she waves her graceful hand, from that lip, which contains all the treasures of delight! Whilst I am solicitous to know in what family she was born, thou art enjoying bliss, which to me would be supreme felicity.
Shakuntala: Disengage me, I entreat, from this importunate insect, which quite baffles my efforts.
Priyamvada: What power have we to deliver you? The king Dushmanta is the sole defender of our consecrated groves.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] This is a good occasion for me to discover myself –[advancing a little.] –I must not, I will not, fear. Yet –[checking himself and retiring] –my royal character will thus abruptly be known to them. No; I will appear as a simple stranger, and claim the duties of hospitality.
Shakuntala: This impudent bee will not rest. I will remove to another space. –[Stepping aside and looking round] –Away! away! He follows me wherever I go. Deliver me, oh! deliver me from this distress.
King Dushyant: [Advancing hastily.] Ah! While the race of Puru govern the world, and restrain even the most profligate, by good laws well administered, has any man the audacity to molest the lovely daughters of pious hermits? [They look at him with emotion.]
Anusuya: Sir, no man is here audacious; but this damsel, our beloved friend, was teased by a fluttering bee. [Both girls look at Shakuntala.]
King Dushyant: [Approaching her.] Damsel, may thy devotion prosper! [Shakuntala looks on the ground, bashful and silent.]
Anusuya: Our guest must be received with due honours.
Priyamvada: Stranger, you are welcome. Go, my Shakuntala; bring from the cottage a basket of fruit and flowers. This river will, in the mean time, supply water for his feet. [Looking at the water-pots.]
King Dushyant: Holy maid, the gentleness of thy speech does me sufficient honour.
Anusuya: Sit down awhile on this bank of earth, spread with the leaves of Septaperna: the shade is refreshing, and our lord must want repose after his journey.
King Dushyant: You too must all be fatigued by your hospitable attentions; rest yourselves, therefore, with me.
Priyamvada: [Aside to Shakuntala] Come, let us all be seated: our guest is contented with our reception of him. [They all seat themselves.]
Shakuntala: [Aside.] At the sight of this youth I feel an emotion scarce consistent with a grove devoted to piety.
King Dushyant: [Gazing at them alternately.] How well your friendship agrees, holy damsels, with the charming equality of your ages, and of your beauties!
Priyamvada: [Aside to Anusuya.] Who can this be, my Anusuya? The union of delicacy with robustness in his form, and of sweetness with dignity in his discourse, indicate a character fit for ample dominion.
Anusuya: [Aside to Priyamvada.] I too have been admiring him. I must ask him a few questions. –[Aloud.] Your sweet speech, Sir, gives me confidence. What imperial family is embellished by our noble guest? What is his native country? Surely it must be afflicted by his absence from it. What, I pray, could induce you to humiliate that exalted form of yours by visiting a forest peopled only by simple anchorites?
Shakuntala: [Aside.] Perplex not thyself, O my heart! let the faithful Anusuúya direct with her counsel the thoughts which rise in thee.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] How shall I reveal, or how shall I disguise myself? –[Musing.] –Be it so. [Aloud to Anusuúya.] Excellent lady, I am a student of the Véda, dwelling in the city of our king, descended from Puru; and, being occupied in the discharge of religious and moral duties, am come hither to behold the sanctuary of virtue.
Anusuya: Holy men, employed like you, are our lords and masters. [Shakuntala looks modest, yet with affection; while her companions gaze alternately at her and at the king.]
Anusuya: [Aside to Shakuntala] Oh! if our venerable father were present–
Shakuntala: What if he were?
Anusuya: He would entertain our guest with a variety of refreshments.
Shakuntala: [Pretending displeasure.]Go too; you had some other idea in your head; I will not listen to you. [She sits apart.]
King Dushyant: [Aside to Anusúuya and Priyamvada] In my turn, holy damsels, allow me to ask one question concerning your lovely friend.
Both. The request, Sir, does us honour.
King Dushyant: The sage Kanva, I know, is ever intent upon the great Being; and must have declined all earthly connections. How then can this damsel be, as it is said, his daughter?
Anusuya: Let our lord hear. There is, in the family of Cusa, a pious prince of extensive power, eminent in devotion and in arms.
King Dushyant: You speak, no doubt, of Kausika, the sage and monarch.
Anusuya: Know, Sir, that he is in truth her father; while Canna bears that reverend name, because he brought her up, since she was left an infant.
King Dushyant: Left? The word excites my curiosity; and raises in me a desire of knowing her whole story.
Anusuya: You shall hear it, Sir, in few words. –When that sage king had begun to gather the fruits of his austere devotion, the gods of Swarga (heaven) became apprehensive of his increasing power, and sent the nymph Ménacà (Menaka) to frustrate, by her allurements, the full effect of his austerities.
King Dushyant: Is a mortal's austerity (piety) so tremendous to the inferior deities? What was the event?
Anusuya: In the bloom of the vernal season, Causica, beholding the beauty of the celestial nymph, and wasted (overpowered) by the gale of desire. –[She stops and looks modest.]
King Dushyant: I now see the whole. Shakuntala then is the daughter of a king, by a nymph of the lower heaven.
Anusuya: Even so.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] The desire of my heart is gratified. –[Aloud.] How, indeed, could her transcendent beauty be the portion of mortal birth? Yon light, that sparkles with tremulous beams, proceeds not from a terrestrial cavern. [Sacontalá fits modestly, with her eyes on the ground.]
King Dushyant: [Again aside.] Happy man that I am! Now has my fancy an ample range. Yet, having heard the pleasantry of her companions on the subject of her nuptials, I am divided with anxious doubt, whether she be not wholly destined for a religious life.
Priyamvada: [Smiling, and looking first at Shakuntala, then at the king.] Our lord seems desirous of asking other questions.
[Shakuntala rebukes Priyamvada with her hand.]
King Dushyant: You know my very heart. I am, indeed, eager to learn the whole of this charmer's life; and must put one question more.
Priyamvada: Why should you muse on it so long? –[Aside.] One would think this religious man was forbidden by his vows to court a pretty woman.
King Dushyant: This I ask. Is the strict rule of a hermit so far to be observed by Kanva, that he cannot dispose of his daughter in marriage, but must check the natural impulse of juvenile love? Can she (oh preposterous fate!) be destined to reside for life among her favourite antelopes, the black lustre of whose eyes is far surpassed by hers?
Priyamvada. Hitherto, Sir, our friend has lived happily in this consecrated forest, the abode of her spiritual father; but it is now his intention to unite her with a bridegroom equal to herself.
King Dushyant: [Aside, with ecstasy.] Exult, oh my heart, exult. All doubt is removed; and what before thou could have dreaded as a flame, may now be approached as a gem inestimable.
Shakuntala. [Seemingly angry.] Anusúuya I will stay here no longer.
Anusuya. Why so, I pray?
Shakuntala. I will go to the holy matron Gautami, and let her know how impertinently our Priyamvada has been prattling. [She rises.]
Anusuya. It will not be decent, my love, for an inhabitant of this hallowed wood to retire before a guest has received complete honour. [Shakuntala, giving no answer to go.]
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Is she then departing? –[He rises, as if going to stop her, but check himself.] –The actions of a passionate lover are as precipitate as his mind is agitated. Thus I, whose passion impelled me to follow the hermit's daughter, am restrained by a sense of duty.
Priyamvada. [Going upto Shakuntala} My angry friend, you must not retire.
Shakuntala: [Stepping back and frowning.] What should detain me?
Priyamvada. You owe me the labour, according to our agreement, of watering two more shrubs. Pay me first, to acquit your conscience, and then depart, if you please. [Holding her.]
King Dushyant: The damsel is fatigued, I imagine, by pouring so much water on the cherished plants. Her arms, graced with palms like fresh blossoms, hang carelessly down; her bosom heaves with strong breathing; and now her dishevelled locks, from which the string has dropped, are held by one of her lovely hands. Suffer me, therefore, thus to discharge the debt. –[Giving his ring to Priyamvada Both damsels, reading the name Dushyant, inscribed on the ring, look surprised at each other.] –It is a toy unworthy of your fixed attention; but I value it as a gift from the king.
Priyamvada. Then you ought not, Sir, to part with it. Her debt is from this moment discharged on your word only. [She returns the ring.]
Anusuya. You are now released, Shakuntala, by this benevolent lord –or favoured, perhaps, by a monarch himself. To what place will you now retire?
Shakuntala: [Aside.] Must I not wonder at all this if I preserve my senses?
Priyamvada: Are not you going, Shakuntala?
Shakuntala: Am I your subject? I shall go when it pleases me.
King Dushyant: [Aside, looking at Shakuntala] Either she is affected towards me, as I am towards her, or I am distracted with joy. She mingles not her discourse with mine; yet, when I speak, she listens attentively. She commands not her actions in my presence; and her eyes are engaged on me alone.
[Behind the scenes.] Oh pious hermits, preserve the animals of this hallowed forest! The king Dushyanta is hunting in it. The dust raised by the hoofs of his horses, which pound tile pebbles ruddy as early dawn, falls like a swarm of blighting insects on the consecrated boughs which sustain your mantles of woven bark, moist with the water of the stream in which you have bathed.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Alas! my officers, who are searching for me, have indiscreetly disturbed this holy retreat.
[Again behind the scenes.] Beware, ye hermits, of yon elephant, who comes overturning all that oppose him; now he fixes his trunk with violence on a lofty branch that obstructs his way; and now he is entangled in the twining stalks of the Vratati. How are our sacred rites interrupted! How are the protected herds dispersed! The wild elephant, alarmed at the new appearance of a car, lays our forest waste.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] How unwillingly am I offending the devout forests! Yes; I must go to them instantly.
Priyamvada: Noble stranger, we are confounded with dread of the enraged elephant. With your permission, therefore, we retire to the hermit's cottage.
Anusuya. O Shakuntala, the venerable matron will be much distressed on your account. Come quickly, that we may be all safe together.
Shakuntala: [Walking slowly.] I am stopped, alas! by a sudden pain in my side.
King Dushyant: Be not alarmed, amiable damsels. It shall be my care that no disturbance happen in your sacred groves.
Priyamvada: Excellent stranger, we were wholly unacquainted with your station, and you will forgive us, we hope, for the offence of intermitting awhile the honours due to you: but we humbly request that you will give us once more the pleasure of seeing you, though you have not now been received with perfect hospitality.
King Dushyant: You depreciate your own merits. The sight of you, sweet damsels, has sufficiently honoured me.
Shakuntala: My foot, O Anusúya is hurt by this painted blade of Kusha grass; and now my loose vest of bark is caught by a branch of the Curuvaca. Help me to disentangle myself, and support me. [She goes out, looking from time to time at Dushmanta, and supported by the damsels.]
King Dushyant: [Sighing.] They are all departed; and I too, alas! must depart. For how short a moment have I been blessed with a sight of the incomparable Shakuntala I will send my attendants to the city, and take my station at no great distance from this forest. I cannot, in truth, divert my mind from the sweet occupation of gazing on her. How, indeed, should I otherwise occupy it? My body moves onward; but my restless heart runs back to her; like a light flag borne on a staff against the wind, and fluttering in an opposite direction.[He goes out.]