For she had a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, "Go hang!"
She loved not the savor of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch.
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
Better Than My Last
When will I put my pen to rest?
After I achieve my best written poem,
And the next best one...
To satisfy that one as my best!
'But how will you know
Which one of those to decide as your best? '
I am not the one to decide,
Nor is my pride being tested
Or teased to enter contests to best!
I love what I do.
And I am flattered that I am read.
But my head is not swollen,
With thoughts to impress.
I am thankful to be grateful...
To realize I am blessed!
That alone brings me happiness!
And be read too?
What more can someone like me,
From gifts I have choose?
To sell millions of books?
To be in the hands of everyone?
Even those preparing meals to cook?
But that alone wouldn't complete my day!
I'd still be looking for a better way,
To better best with something else to say!
In a way I have not said today.
If it is God's will to have it that way!
But I will confess...
I do have thoughts of having my 'next' one,
Better than my last...
Considered my very best yet!
- quotes about cooking
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about books
- quotes about poetry
- quotes about happiness
- quotes about beauty
- quotes about school
- quotes about divine
- quotes about time
She Did It
I set to sea on a ship called emptiness
Cast away on the island of loneliness
Lookin for love
Ooh, and I was lookin for love
I didnt think she could hear my s.o.s.
But she appeared like an angel of tenderness
Sent from above
Oh, she was bringing me love
Oh, mama, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
Ooh, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
Looking back, making love was meaningless
Till she touched me with her warmth
And a gentleness Id never known
Ooh, and she was guiding me home
Now I see all the things in life I missed
Till she opened up my eyes to the limitless
Wonder of love
Oh, and now Im ready for love
Oh, mama, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
Ooh, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
I never knew what love was about
Till she came and stole away my heart
Now Im alive and I know it
And all I ever wanna do is show it
Oh, mama, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
Ooh, she did it
Woh mama, she did it, yeah
The Boys And Girls I Went To School With
The boys and girls I went to school with from me now far away
And even some of them not living now where the dead are they lay
And in distant flights of fancy I fancy I see them yet
And them I still remember and them I won't forget.
The boys and girls I went to school with the years have left them slow
And were I to meet them on the street perhaps them I''d not know
For the years they leave us looking older and there''s no turning back the hands of time
And those I went to school with like me now long past their prime.
Many of the boys and girls I went to school with live distant from Millstreet
And we well might be strangers now if by chance we did meet
In my mental pictures of them they have not aged a day
But reality is different and 'tis always been that way.
Many of the boys and girls I went to school with in Millstreet our Home -town
Have left that green old countryside where Finnow babbles down
For to join with the great Blackwater on it''s journey to the sea
Still their innocence and youthfulness will always be with me.
The changes keep on happening and nothing seems to last
Still we cling on to our memories and we can''t deny our past
And though we may now be strangers were we to meet again
The boys and girls I went to school with young in my thoughts remain.
She Says She Is Not The Fourth Woman
I give her the benefit of the doubt
Well, when I wrote that poem she was inside my head
And I dived as a submarine
Into a little sea of understanding
And she is the periscope
There are waves and
Some uncertain destinations
Where to go
Where to stop
How to describe the places above land
She was in my mind when I wrote that
And I gave her a lot of forms:
And I was so sure about her, because
She once told me
About her agitations
I got premonitions though that when she reads it
She will deny herself
The pleasure of seeing her own movie
Her own character in the game
That she loves and she is
Indeed, she says she is not.
I give her
Due process. She may not be that fourth woman
But to my mind
she is and she giggles in my brain
And she even asks me: how much is that brain?
That pound of flesh? Did you buy me respect?
Darling, my brain is yours through and through
My flesh is just a finger away, a lip away, a tongue away
Respect is not for sale,
it is earned
with time, and
Now, I give respect you respect.
You are that fourth woman.
You are the woman of my life.
I appear to you naked.
Touch me. Feel me.
Say that you love me.
Tell me that you care.
I am your submarine. You will be my sea and I will not be afraid
Of uncertain destinations. I am bound to be lost anyway.
Niobe In Distress For Her Children Slain By Apollo, From Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI. And From A View Of The Painting Of Mr. Richard Wilson
Apollo's wrath to man the dreadful spring
Of ills innum'rous, tuneful goddess, sing!
Thou who did'st first th' ideal pencil give,
And taught'st the painter in his works to live,
Inspire with glowing energy of thought,
What Wilson painted, and what Ovid wrote.
Muse! lend thy aid, nor let me sue in vain,
Tho' last and meanest of the rhyming train!
O guide my pen in lofty strains to show
The Phrygian queen, all beautiful in woe.
'Twas where Maeonia spreads her wide domain
Niobe dwelt, and held her potent reign:
See in her hand the regal sceptre shine,
The wealthy heir of Tantalus divine,
He most distinguish'd by Dodonean Jove,
To approach the tables of the gods above:
Her grandsire Atlas, who with mighty pains
Th' ethereal axis on his neck sustains:
Her other grandsire on the throne on high
Rolls the loud-pealing thunder thro' the sky.
Her spouse, Amphion, who from Jove too springs,
Divinely taught to sweep the sounding strings.
Seven sprightly sons the royal bed adorn,
Seven daughters beauteous as the op'ning morn,
As when Aurora fills the ravish'd sight,
And decks the orient realms with rosy light
From their bright eyes the living splendors play,
Nor can beholders bear the flashing ray.
Wherever, Niobe, thou turn'st thine eyes,
New beauties kindle, and new joys arise!
But thou had'st far the happier mother prov'd,
If this fair offspring had been less belov'd:
What if their charms exceed Aurora's teint.
No words could tell them, and no pencil paint,
Thy love too vehement hastens to destroy
Each blooming maid, and each celestial boy.
Now Manto comes, endu'd with mighty skill,
The past to explore, the future to reveal.
Thro' Thebes' wide streets Tiresia's daughter came,
Divine Latona's mandate to proclaim:
The Theban maids to hear the orders ran,
When thus Maeonia's prophetess began:
'Go, Thebans! great Latona's will obey,
'And pious tribute at her altars pay:
'With rights divine, the goddess be implor'd,
'Nor be her sacred offspring unador'd.'
Thus Manto spoke. The Theban maids obey,
And pious tribute to the goddess pay.
The rich perfumes ascend in waving spires,
And altars blaze with consecrated fires;
The fair assembly moves with graceful air,
And leaves of laurel bind the flowing hair.
Niobe comes with all her royal race,
With charms unnumber'd, and superior grace:
Her Phrygian garments of delightful hue,
Inwove with gold, refulgent to the view,
Beyond description beautiful she moves
Like heav'nly Venus, 'midst her smiles and loves:
She views around the supplicating train,
And shakes her graceful head with stern disdain,
Proudly she turns around her lofty eyes,
And thus reviles celestial deities:
'What madness drives the Theban ladies fair
'To give their incense to surrounding air?
'Say why this new sprung deity preferr'd?
'Why vainly fancy your petitions heard?
'Or say why Caeus offspring is obey'd,
'While to my goddesship no tribute's paid?
'For me no altars blaze with living fires,
'No bullock bleeds, no frankincense transpires,
'Tho' Cadmus' palace, not unknown to fame,
'And Phrygian nations all revere my name.
'Where'er I turn my eyes vast wealth I find,
'Lo! here an empress with a goddess join'd.
'What, shall a Titaness be deify'd,
'To whom the spacious earth a couch deny'd!
'Nor heav'n, nor earth, nor sea receiv'd your queen,
'Till pitying Delos took the wand'rer in.
'Round me what a large progeny is spread!
'No frowns of fortune has my soul to dread.
'What if indignant she decrease my train
'More than Latona's number will remain;
'Then hence, ye Theban dames, hence haste away,
'Nor longer off'rings to Latona pay;
'Regard the orders of Amphion's spouse,
'And take the leaves of laurel from your brows.'
Niobe spoke. The Theban maids obey'd,
Their brows unbound, and left the rights unpaid.
The angry goddess heard, then silence broke
On Cynthus' summit, and indignant spoke;
'Phoebus! behold, thy mother in disgrace,
'Who to no goddess yields the prior place
'Except to Juno's self, who reigns above,
'The spouse and sister of the thund'ring Jove.
'Niobe, sprung from Tantalus, inspires
'Each Theban bosom with rebellious fires;
'No reason her imperious temper quells,
'But all her father in her tongue rebels;
'Wrap her own sons for her blaspheming breath,
'Apollo! wrap them in the shades of death.'
Latona ceas'd, and ardent thus replies
The God, whose glory decks th' expanded skies.
'Cease thy complaints, mine be the task assign'd
'To punish pride, and scourge the rebel mind.'
This Phoebe join'd.--They wing their instant flight;
Thebes trembled as th' immortal pow'rs alight.
With clouds incompass'd glorious Phoebus stands;
The feather'd vengeance quiv'ring in his hands.
Near Cadmus' walls a plain extended lay,
Where Thebes' young princes pass'd in sport the day:
There the bold coursers bounded o'er the plains,
While their great masters held the golden reins.
Ismenus first the racing pastime led,
And rul'd the fury of his flying steed.
'Ah me,' he sudden cries, with shrieking breath,
While in his breast he feels the shaft of death;
He drops the bridle on his courser's mane,
Before his eyes in shadows swims the plain,
He, the first-born of great Amphion's bed,
Was struck the first, first mingled with the dead.
Then didst thou, Sipylus, the language hear
Of fate portentous whistling in the air:
As when th' impending storm the sailor sees
He spreads his canvas to the fav'ring breeze,
So to thine horse thou gav'st the golden reins,
Gav'st him to rush impetuous o'er the plains:
But ah! a fatal shaft from Phoebus' hand
Smites thro' thy neck, and sinks thee on the sand.
Two other brothers were at wrestling found,
And in their pastime claspt each other round:
A shaft that instant from Apollo's hand
Transfixt them both, and stretcht them on the sand:
Together they their cruel fate bemoan'd,
Together languish'd, and together groan'd:
Together too th' unbodied spirits fled,
And sought the gloomy mansions of the dead.
Alphenor saw, and trembling at the view,
Beat his torn breast, that chang'd its snowy hue.
He flies to raise them in a kind embrace;
A brother's fondness triumphs in his face:
Alphenor fails in this fraternal deed,
A dart dispatch'd him (so the fates decreed:)
Soon as the arrow left the deadly wound,
His issuing entrails smoak'd upon the ground.
What woes on blooming Damasichon wait!
His sighs portend his near impending fate.
Just where the well-made leg begins to be,
And the soft sinews form the supple knee,
The youth sore wounded by the Delian god
Attempts t' extract the crime-avenging rod,
But, whilst he strives the will of fate t' avert,
Divine Apollo sends a second dart;
Swift thro' his throat the feather'd mischief flies,
Bereft of sense, he drops his head, and dies.
Young Ilioneus, the last, directs his pray'r,
And cries, 'My life, ye gods celestial! spare.'
Apollo heard, and pity touch'd his heart,
But ah! too late, for he had sent the dart:
Thou too, O Ilioneus, art doom'd to fall,
The fates refuse that arrow to recal.
On the swift wings of ever flying Fame
To Cadmus' palace soon the tidings came:
Niobe heard, and with indignant eyes
She thus express'd her anger and surprise:
'Why is such privilege to them allow'd?
'Why thus insulted by the Delian god?
'Dwells there such mischief in the pow'rs above?
'Why sleeps the vengeance of immortal Jove?'
For now Amphion too, with grief oppress'd,
Had plung'd the deadly dagger in his breast.
Niobe now, less haughty than before,
With lofty head directs her steps no more
She, who late told her pedigree divine,
And drove the Thebans from Latona's shrine,
How strangely chang'd!--yet beautiful in woe,
She weeps, nor weeps unpity'd by the foe.
On each pale corse the wretched mother spread
Lay overwhelm'd with grief, and kiss'd her dead,
Then rais'd her arms, and thus, in accents slow,
'Be sated cruel Goddess! with my woe;
'If I've offended, let these streaming eyes,
'And let this sev'nfold funeral suffice:
'Ah! take this wretched life you deign'd to save,
'With them I too am carried to the grave.
'Rejoice triumphant, my victorious foe,
'But show the cause from whence your triumphs flow?
'Tho' I unhappy mourn these children slain,
'Yet greater numbers to my lot remain.'
She ceas'd, the bow string twang'd with awful sound,
Which struck with terror all th' assembly round,
Except the queen, who stood unmov'd alone,
By her distresses more presumptuous grown.
Near the pale corses stood their sisters fair
In sable vestures and dishevell'd hair;
One, while she draws the fatal shaft away,
Faints, falls, and sickens at the light of day.
To sooth her mother, lo! another flies,
And blames the fury of inclement skies,
And, while her words a filial pity show,
Struck dumb--indignant seeks the shades below.
Now from the fatal place another flies,
Falls in her flight, and languishes, and dies.
Another on her sister drops in death;
A fifth in trembling terrors yields her breath;
While the sixth seeks some gloomy cave in vain,
Struck with the rest, and mingled with the slain.
One only daughter lives, and she the least;
The queen close clasp'd the daughter to her breast:
'Ye heav'nly pow'rs, ah spare me one,' she cry'd,
'Ah! spare me one,' the vocal hills reply'd:
In vain she begs, the Fates her suit deny,
In her embrace she sees her daughter die.
* 'The queen of all her family bereft,
'Without or husband, son, or daughter left,
'Grew stupid at the shock. The passing air
'Made no impression on her stiff'ning hair.
* This Verse to the End is the Work of another Hand.
'The blood forsook her face: amidst the flood
'Pour'd from her cheeks, quite fix'd her eye-balls
'Her tongue, her palate both obdurate grew,
'Her curdled veins no longer motion knew;
'The use of neck, and arms, and feet was gone,
'And ev'n her bowels hard'ned into stone:
'A marble statue now the queen appears,
'But from the marble steal the silent tears.'
Book Seventh [Residence in London]
SIX changeful years have vanished since I first
Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze
Which met me issuing from the City's walls)
A glad preamble to this Verse: I sang
Aloud, with fervour irresistible
Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting,
From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side
To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth
(So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream,
That flowed awhile with unabating strength,
Then stopped for years; not audible again
Before last primrose-time. Beloved Friend!
The assurance which then cheered some heavy thoughts
On thy departure to a foreign land
Has failed; too slowly moves the promised work.
Through the whole summer have I been at rest,
Partly from voluntary holiday,
And part through outward hindrance. But I heard,
After the hour of sunset yester-even,
Sitting within doors between light and dark,
A choir of redbreasts gathered somewhere near
My threshold,--minstrels from the distant woods
Sent in on Winter's service, to announce,
With preparation artful and benign,
That the rough lord had left the surly North
On his accustomed journey. The delight,
Due to this timely notice, unawares
Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said,
'Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be
Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds,
Will chant together.' Thereafter, as the shades
Of twilight deepened, going forth, I spied
A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume
Or canopy of yet unwithered fern,
Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen
Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here
No less than sound had done before; the child
Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself,
The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills,
Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir
Of Winter that had warbled at my door,
And the whole year breathed tenderness and love.
The last night's genial feeling overflowed
Upon this morning, and my favourite grove,
Tossing in sunshine its dark boughs aloft,
As if to make the strong wind visible,
Wakes in me agitations like its own,
A spirit friendly to the Poet's task,
Which we will now resume with lively hope,
Nor checked by aught of tamer argument
That lies before us, needful to be told.
Returned from that excursion, soon I bade
Farewell for ever to the sheltered seats
Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower,
And every comfort of that privileged ground,
Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among
The unfenced regions of society.
Yet, undetermined to what course of life
I should adhere, and seeming to possess
A little space of intermediate time
At full command, to London first I turned,
In no disturbance of excessive hope,
By personal ambition unenslaved,
Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed,
From dangerous passions free. Three years had flown
Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock
Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced
Her endless streets, a transient visitant:
Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind
Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly,
And life and labour seem but one, I filled
An idler's place; an idler well content
To have a house (what matter for a home?)
That owned him; living cheerfully abroad
With unchecked fancy ever on the stir,
And all my young affections out of doors.
There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned
Of airy palaces, and gardens built
By Genii of romance; or hath in grave
Authentic history been set forth of Rome,
Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis;
Or given upon report by pilgrim friars,
Of golden cities ten months' journey deep
Among Tartarian wilds--fell short, far short,
Of what my fond simplicity believed
And thought of London--held me by a chain
Less strong of wonder and obscure delight.
Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot
For me beyond its ordinary mark,
'Twere vain to ask; but in our flock of boys
Was One, a cripple from his birth, whom chance
Summoned from school to London; fortunate
And envied traveller! When the Boy returned,
After short absence, curiously I scanned
His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth,
From disappointment, not to find some change
In look and air, from that new region brought,
As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him;
And every word he uttered, on my ears
Fell flatter than a caged parrot's note,
That answers unexpectedly awry,
And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things
Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears
Almost as deeply seated and as strong
In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived
For my enjoyment. Would that I could now
Recall what then I pictured to myself,
Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad,
The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last,
Nor least, Heaven bless him! the renowned Lord Mayor.
Dreams not unlike to those which once begat
A change of purpose in young Whittington,
When he, a friendless and a drooping boy,
Sate on a stone, and heard the bells speak out
Articulate music. Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.
Oh, wondrous power of words, by simple faith
Licensed to take the meaning that we love!
Vauxhall and Ranelagh! I then had heard
Of your green groves, and wilderness of lamps
Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical,
And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes,
Floating in dance, or warbling high in air
The songs of spirits! Nor had Fancy fed
With less delight upon that other class
Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent:
The River proudly bridged; the dizzy top
And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; the tombs
Of Westminster; the Giants of Guildhall;
Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates,
Perpetually recumbent; Statues--man,
And the horse under him--in gilded pomp
Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares;
The Monument, and that Chamber of the Tower
Where England's sovereigns sit in long array,
Their steeds bestriding,--every mimic shape
Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore,
Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed,
Or life or death upon the battle-field.
Those bold imaginations in due time
Had vanished, leaving others in their stead:
And now I looked upon the living scene;
Familiarly perused it; oftentimes,
In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased
Through courteous self-submission, as a tax
Paid to the object by prescriptive right.
Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes--
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe--
On strangers, of all ages; the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din;
The comers and the goers face to face,
Face after face; the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman's honours overhead:
Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page,
With letters huge inscribed from top to toe,
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints;
There, allegoric shapes, female or male,
Or physiognomies of real men,
Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea,
Boyle, Shakspeare, Newton, or the attractive head
Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day.
Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length,
Escaped as from an enemy, we turn
Abruptly into some sequestered nook,
Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud!
At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort,
And sights and sounds that come at intervals,
We take our way. A raree-show is here,
With children gathered round; another street
Presents a company of dancing dogs,
Or dromedary, with an antic pair
Of monkeys on his back; a minstrel band
Of Savoyards; or, single and alone,
An English ballad-singer. Private courts,
Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes
Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike
The very shrillest of all London cries,
May then entangle our impatient steps;
Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares,
To privileged regions and inviolate,
Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers
Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.
Thence back into the throng, until we reach,
Following the tide that slackens by degrees,
Some half-frequented scene, where wider streets
Bring straggling breezes of suburban air.
Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls;
Advertisements, of giant-size, from high
Press forward, in all colours, on the sight;
These, bold in conscious merit, lower down;
'That', fronted with a most imposing word,
Is, peradventure, one in masquerade.
As on the broadening causeway we advance,
Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong
In lineaments, and red with over-toil.
'Tis one encountered here and everywhere;
A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short,
And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb
Another lies at length, beside a range
Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed
Upon the smooth flint stones: the Nurse is here,
The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself,
The military Idler, and the Dame,
That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps.
Now homeward through the thickening hubbub, where
See, among less distinguishable shapes,
The begging scavenger, with hat in hand;
The Italian, as he thrids his way with care,
Steadying, far-seen, a frame of images
Upon his head; with basket at his breast
The Jew; the stately and slow-moving Turk,
With freight of slippers piled beneath his arm!
Enough;--the mighty concourse I surveyed
With no unthinking mind, well pleased to note
Among the crowd all specimens of man,
Through all the colours which the sun bestows,
And every character of form and face:
The Swede, the Russian; from the genial south,
The Frenchman and the Spaniard; from remote
America, the Hunter-Indian; Moors,
Malays, Lascars, the Tartar, the Chinese,
And Negro Ladies in white muslin gowns.
At leisure, then, I viewed, from day to day,
The spectacles within doors,--birds and beasts
Of every nature, and strange plants convened
From every clime; and, next, those sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to show.
I do not here allude to subtlest craft,
By means refined attaining purest ends,
But imitations, fondly made in plain
Confession of man's weakness and his loves.
Whether the Painter, whose ambitious skill
Submits to nothing less than taking in
A whole horizon's circuit, do with power,
Like that of angels or commissioned spirits,
Fix us upon some lofty pinnacle,
Or in a ship on waters, with a world
Of life, and life-like mockery beneath,
Above, behind, far stretching and before;
Or more mechanic artist represent
By scale exact, in model, wood or clay,
From blended colours also borrowing help,
Some miniature of famous spots or things,--
St. Peter's Church; or, more aspiring aim,
In microscopic vision, Rome herself;
Or, haply, some choice rural haunt,--the Falls
Of Tivoli; and, high upon that steep,
The Sibyl's mouldering Temple! every tree,
Villa, or cottage, lurking among rocks
Throughout the landscape; tuft, stone scratch minute--
All that the traveller sees when he is there.
Add to these exhibitions, mute and still,
Others of wider scope, where living men,
Music, and shifting pantomimic scenes,
Diversified the allurement. Need I fear
To mention by its name, as in degree,
Lowest of these and humblest in attempt,
Yet richly graced with honours of her own,
Half-rural Sadler's Wells? Though at that time
Intolerant, as is the way of youth
Unless itself be pleased, here more than once
Taking my seat, I saw (nor blush to add,
With ample recompense) giants and dwarfs,
Clowns, conjurors, posture-masters, harlequins,
Amid the uproar of the rabblement,
Perform their feats. Nor was it mean delight
To watch crude Nature work in untaught minds;
To note the laws and progress of belief;
Though obstinate on this way, yet on that
How willingly we travel, and how far!
To have, for instance, brought upon the scene
The champion, Jack the Giant-killer: Lo!
He dons his coat of darkness; on the stage
Walks, and achieves his wonders, from the eye
Of living Mortal covert, 'as the moon
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.'
Delusion bold! and how can it be wrought?
The garb he wears is black as death, the word
'Invisible' flames forth upon his chest.
Here, too, were 'forms and pressures of the time,'
Rough, bold, as Grecian comedy displayed
When Art was young; dramas of living men,
And recent things yet warm with life; a sea-fight,
Shipwreck, or some domestic incident
Divulged by Truth and magnified by Fame;
Such as the daring brotherhood of late
Set forth, too serious theme for that light place--
I mean, O distant Friend! a story drawn
From our own ground,--the Maid of Buttermere,--
And how, unfaithful to a virtuous wife
Deserted and deceived, the Spoiler came
And wooed the artless daughter of the hills,
And wedded her, in cruel mockery
Of love and marriage bonds. These words to thee
Must needs bring back the moment when we first,
Ere the broad world rang with the maiden's name,
Beheld her serving at the cottage inn;
Both stricken, as she entered or withdrew,
With admiration of her modest mien
And carriage, marked by unexampled grace.
We since that time not unfamiliarly
Have seen her,--her discretion have observed,
Her just opinions, delicate reserve,
Her patience, and humility of mind
Unspoiled by commendation and the excess
Of public notice--an offensive light
To a meek spirit suffering inwardly.
From this memorial tribute to my theme
I was returning, when, with sundry forms
Commingled--shapes which met me in the way
That we must tread--thy image rose again,
Maiden of Buttermere! She lives in peace
Upon the spot where she was born and reared;
Without contamination doth she live
In quietness, without anxiety:
Beside the mountain chapel, sleeps in earth
Her new-born infant, fearless as a lamb
That, thither driven from some unsheltered place,
Rests underneath the little rock-like pile
When storms are raging. Happy are they both--
Mother and child!--These feelings, in themselves
Trite, do yet scarcely seem so when I think
On those ingenuous moments of our youth
Ere we have learnt by use to slight the crimes
And sorrows of the world. Those simple days
Are now my theme; and, foremost of the scenes,
Which yet survive in memory, appears
One, at whose centre sate a lovely Boy,
A sportive infant, who, for six months' space,
Not more, had been of age to deal about
Articulate prattle--Child as beautiful
As ever clung around a mother's neck,
Or father fondly gazed upon with pride.
There, too, conspicuous for stature tall
And large dark eyes, beside her infant stood
The mother; but, upon her cheeks diffused,
False tints too well accorded with the glare
From play-house lustres thrown without reserve
On every object near. The Boy had been
The pride and pleasure of all lookers-on
In whatsoever place, but seemed in this
A sort of alien scattered from the clouds.
Of lusty vigour, more than infantine
He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose
Just three parts blown--a cottage-child--if e'er,
By cottage-door on breezy mountain-side,
Or in some sheltering vale, was seen a babe
By Nature's gifts so favoured. Upon a board
Decked with refreshments had this child been placed
'His' little stage in the vast theatre,
And there he sate, surrounded with a throng
Of chance spectators, chiefly dissolute men
And shameless women, treated and caressed;
Ate, drank, and with the fruit and glasses played,
While oaths and laughter and indecent speech
Were rife about him as the songs of birds
Contending after showers. The mother now
Is fading out of memory, but I see
The lovely Boy as I beheld him then
Among the wretched and the falsely gay,
Like one of those who walked with hair unsinged
Amid the fiery furnace. Charms and spells
Muttered on black and spiteful instigation
Have stopped, as some believe, the kindliest growths.
Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever!
But with its universal freight the tide
Hath rolled along, and this bright innocent,
Mary! may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.
Four rapid years had scarcely then been told
Since, travelling southward from our pastoral hills,
I heard, and for the first time in my life,
The voice of woman utter blasphemy--
Saw woman as she is, to open shame
Abandoned, and the pride of public vice;
I shuddered, for a barrier seemed at once
Thrown in that from humanity divorced
Humanity, splitting the race of man
In twain, yet leaving the same outward form.
Distress of mind ensued upon the sight,
And ardent meditation. Later years
Brought to such spectacle a milder sadness,
Feelings of pure commiseration, grief
For the individual and the overthrow
Of her soul's beauty; farther I was then
But seldom led, or wished to go; in truth
The sorrow of the passion stopped me there.
But let me now, less moved, in order take
Our argument. Enough is said to show
How casual incidents of real life,
Observed where pastime only had been sought,
Outweighed, or put to flight, the set events
And measured passions of the stage, albeit
By Siddons trod in the fulness of her power.
Yet was the theatre my dear delight;
The very gilding, lamps and painted scrolls,
And all the mean upholstery of the place,
Wanted not animation, when the tide
Of pleasure ebbed but to return as fast
With the ever-shifting figures of the scene,
Solemn or gay: whether some beauteous dame
Advanced in radiance through a deep recess
Of thick entangled forest, like the moon
Opening the clouds; or sovereign king, announced
With flourishing trumpet, came in full-blown state
Of the world's greatness, winding round with train
Of courtiers, banners, and a length of guards;
Or captive led in abject weeds, and jingling
His slender manacles; or romping girl
Bounced, leapt, and pawed the air; or mumbling sire,
A scare-crow pattern of old age dressed up
In all the tatters of infirmity
All loosely put together, hobbled in,
Stumping upon a cane with which he smites,
From time to time, the solid boards, and makes them
Prate somewhat loudly of the whereabout
Of one so overloaded with his years.
But what of this! the laugh, the grin, grimace,
The antics striving to outstrip each other,
Were all received, the least of them not lost,
With an unmeasured welcome. Through the night,
Between the show, and many-headed mass
Of the spectators, and each several nook
Filled with its fray or brawl, how eagerly
And with what flashes, as it were, the mind
Turned this way--that way! sportive and alert
And watchful, as a kitten when at play,
While winds are eddying round her, among straws
And rustling leaves. Enchanting age and sweet!
Romantic almost, looked at through a space,
How small, of intervening years! For then,
Though surely no mean progress had been made
In meditations holy and sublime,
Yet something of a girlish child-like gloss
Of novelty survived for scenes like these;
Enjoyment haply handed down from times
When at a country-playhouse, some rude barn
Tricked out for that proud use, if I perchance
Caught, on a summer evening through a chink
In the old wall, an unexpected glimpse
Of daylight, the bare thought of where I was
Gladdened me more than if I had been led
Into a dazzling cavern of romance,
Crowded with Genii busy among works
Not to be looked at by the common sun.
The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, and the curious props
By which the world of memory and thought
Exists and is sustained. More lofty themes,
Such as at least do wear a prouder face,
Solicit our regard; but when I think
Of these, I feel the imaginative power
Languish within me; even then it slept,
When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart
Was more than full; amid my sobs and tears
It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth.
For though I was most passionately moved
And yielded to all changes of the scene
With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm
Passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind;
Save when realities of act and mien,
The incarnation of the spirits that move
In harmony amid the Poet's world,
Rose to ideal grandeur, or, called forth
By power of contrast, made me recognise,
As at a glance, the things which I had shaped,
And yet not shaped, had seen and scarcely seen,
When, having closed the mighty Shakspeare's page,
I mused, and thought, and felt, in solitude.
Pass we from entertainments, that are such
Professedly, to others titled higher,
Yet, in the estimate of youth at least,
More near akin to those than names imply,--
I mean the brawls of lawyers in their courts
Before the ermined judge, or that great stage
Where senators, tongue-favoured men, perform,
Admired and envied. Oh! the beating heart,
When one among the prime of these rose up,--
One, of whose name from childhood we had heard
Familiarly, a household term, like those,
The Bedfords, Glosters, Salsburys, of old,
Whom the fifth Harry talks of. Silence! hush!
This is no trifler, no short-flighted wit,
No stammerer of a minute, painfully
Delivered, No! the Orator hath yoked
The Hours, like young Aurora, to his car:
Thrice welcome Presence! how can patience e'er
Grow weary of attending on a track
That kindles with such glory! All are charmed,
Astonished; like a hero in romance,
He winds away his never-ending horn;
Words follow words, sense seems to follow sense:
What memory and what logic! till the strain
Transcendent, superhuman as it seemed,
Grows tedious even in a young man's ear.
Genius of Burke! forgive the pen seduced
By specious wonders, and too slow to tell
Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men,
Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides,
And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught,
Rapt auditors! from thy most eloquent tongue--
Now mute, for ever mute in the cold grave.
I see him,--old, but vigorous in age,--
Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start
Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe
The younger brethren of the grove. But some--
While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth,
Against all systems built on abstract rights,
Keen ridicule; the majesty proclaims
Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time;
Declares the vital power of social ties
Endeared by Custom; and with high disdain,
Exploding upstart Theory, insists
Upon the allegiance to which men are born--
Some--say at once a froward multitude--
Murmur (for truth is hated, where not loved)
As the winds fret within the Aeolian cave,
Galled by their monarch's chain. The times were big
With ominous change, which, night by night, provoked
Keen struggles, and black clouds of passion raised;
But memorable moments intervened,
When Wisdom, like the Goddess from Jove's brain,
Broke forth in armour of resplendent words,
Startling the Synod. Could a youth, and one
In ancient story versed, whose breast had heaved
Under the weight of classic eloquence,
Sit, see, and hear, unthankful, uninspired?
Nor did the Pulpit's oratory fail
To achieve its higher triumph. Not unfelt
Were its admonishments, nor lightly heard
The awful truths delivered thence by tongues
Endowed with various power to search the soul;
Yet ostentation, domineering, oft
Poured forth harangues, how sadly out of place!--
There have I seen a comely bachelor,
Fresh from a toilette of two hours, ascend
His rostrum, with seraphic glance look up,
And, in a tone elaborately low
Beginning, lead his voice through many a maze
A minuet course; and, winding up his mouth,
From time to time, into an orifice
Most delicate, a lurking eyelet, small,
And only not invisible, again
Open it out, diffusing thence a smile
Of rapt irradiation, exquisite.
Meanwhile the Evangelists, Isaiah, Job,
Moses, and he who penned, the other day,
The Death of Abel, Shakspeare, and the Bard
Whose genius spangled o'er a gloomy theme
With fancies thick as his inspiring stars,
And Ossian (doubt not--'tis the naked truth)
Summoned from streamy Morven--each and all
Would, in their turns, lend ornaments and flowers
To entwine the crook of eloquence that helped
This pretty Shepherd, pride of all the plains,
To rule and guide his captivated flock.
I glance but at a few conspicuous marks,
Leaving a thousand others, that, in hall,
Court, theatre, conventicle, or shop,
In public room or private, park or street,
Each fondly reared on his own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. Folly, vice,
Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress,
And all the strife of singularity,
Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense--
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. Such candidates for regard,
Although well pleased to be where they were found,
I did not hunt after, nor greatly prize,
Nor made unto myself a secret boast
Of reading them with quick and curious eye;
But, as a common produce, things that are
To-day, to-morrow will be, took of them
Such willing note, as, on some errand bound
That asks not speed, a traveller might bestow
On sea-shells that bestrew the sandy beach,
Or daisies swarming through the fields of June.
But foolishness and madness in parade,
Though most at home in this their dear domain,
Are scattered everywhere, no rarities,
Even to the rudest novice of the Schools.
Me, rather, it employed, to note, and keep
In memory, those individual sights
Of courage, or integrity, or truth,
Or tenderness, which there, set off by foil,
Appeared more touching. One will I select--
A Father--for he bore that sacred name;--
Him saw I, sitting in an open square,
Upon a corner-stone of that low wall,
Wherein were fixed the iron pales that fenced
A spacious grass-plot; there, in silence, sate
This One Man, with a sickly babe outstretched
Upon his knee, whom he had thither brought
For sunshine, and to breathe the fresher air.
Of those who passed, and me who looked at him,
He took no heed; but in his brawny arms
(The Artificer was to the elbow bare,
And from his work this moment had been stolen)
He held the child, and, bending over it,
As if he were afraid both of the sun
And of the air, which he had come to seek,
Eyed the poor babe with love unutterable.
As the black storm upon the mountain top
Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so
That huge fermenting mass of human-kind
Serves as a solemn back-ground, or relief,
To single forms and objects, whence they draw,
For feeling and contemplative regard,
More than inherent liveliness and power.
How oft, amid those overflowing streets,
Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said
Unto myself, 'The face of every one
That passes by me is a mystery!'
Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed
By thoughts of what and whither, when and how,
Until the shapes before my eyes became
A second-sight procession, such as glides
Over still mountains, or appears in dreams;
And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond
The reach of common indication, lost
Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten
Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare)
Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face,
Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest
Wearing a written paper, to explain
His story, whence he came, and who he was.
Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round
As with the might of waters; and apt type
This label seemed of the utmost we can know,
Both of ourselves and of the universe;
And, on the shape of that unmoving man,
His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed,
As if admonished from another world.
Though reared upon the base of outward things,
Structures like these the excited spirit mainly
Builds for herself; scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,--the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still:
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts; at late hours
Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains
Are falling hard, with people yet astir,
The feeble salutation from the voice
Of some unhappy woman, now and then
Heard as we pass, when no one looks about,
Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear,
Are falsely catalogued; things that are, are not,
As the mind answers to them, or the heart
Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then,
To times, when half the city shall break out
Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear?
To executions, to a street on fire,
Mobs, riots, or rejoicings? From these sights
Take one,--that ancient festival, the Fair,
Holden where martyrs suffered in past time,
And named of St. Bartholomew; there, see
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!--
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Upon some showman's platform. What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,--a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
Below, the open space, through every nook
Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive
With heads; the midway region, and above,
Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls,
Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies;
With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles,
And children whirling in their roundabouts;
With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes,
And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd
Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons
Grimacing, writhing, screaming,--him who grinds
The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves,
Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum,
And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks,
The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel,
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.--
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,
Are here--Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.
Oh, blank confusion! true epitome
Of what the mighty City is herself,
To thousands upon thousands of her sons,
Living amid the same perpetual whirl
Of trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end--
Oppression, under which even highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
This, of all acquisitions, first awaits
On sundry and most widely different modes
Of education, nor with least delight
On that through which I passed. Attention springs,
And comprehensiveness and memory flow,
From early converse with the works of God
Among all regions; chiefly where appear
Most obviously simplicity and power.
Think, how the everlasting streams and woods,
Stretched and still stretching far and wide, exalt
The roving Indian, on his desert sands:
What grandeur not unfelt, what pregnant show
Of beauty, meets the sun-burnt Arab's eye:
And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone,
Its currents; magnifies its shoals of life
Beyond all compass; spreads, and sends aloft
Armies of clouds,--even so, its powers and aspects
Shape for mankind, by principles as fixed,
The views and aspirations of the soul
To majesty. Like virtue have the forms
Perennial of the ancient hills; nor less
The changeful language of their countenances
Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts,
However multitudinous, to move
With order and relation. This, if still,
As hitherto, in freedom I may speak,
Not violating any just restraint,
As may be hoped, of real modesty,--
This did I feel, in London's vast domain.
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony.
- quotes about travel
- quotes about gardens
- quotes about diversity
- quotes about walls
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about shopping
- quotes about mountains
- quotes about monkeys
- quotes about intellect
Canto the Eleventh
When Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"
And proved it -- 't was no matter what he said:
They say his system 't is in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it? I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the world a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.
What a sublime discovery 't was to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all's ideal -- all ourselves! -- I'll stake the
World (be it what you will) that that's no schism.
Oh Doubt! -- if thou be'st Doubt, for which some take thee;
But which I doubt extremely -- thou sole prism
Of the Truth's rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven's brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.
For ever and anon comes Indigestion,
(Not the most "dainty Ariel") and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of beings, stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The world, which at the worst's a glorious blunder --
If it be chance; or if it be according
To the old text, still better: -- lest it should
Turn out so, we'll say nothing 'gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They're right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what no one ever could
Decide, and everybody one day will
Know very clearly -- or at least lie still.
And therefore will I leave off metaphysical
Discussion, which is neither here nor there:
If I agree that what is, is; then this I call
Being quite perspicuous and extremely fair;
The truth is, I've grown lately rather phthisical:
I don't know what the reason is -- the air
Perhaps; but as I suffer from the shocks
Of illness, I grow much more orthodox.
The first attack at once proved the Divinity
(But that I never doubted, nor the Devil);
The next, the Virgin's mystical virginity;
The third, the usual Origin of Evil;
The fourth at once establish'd the whole Trinity
On so uncontrovertible a level,
That I devoutly wish'd the three were four,
On purpose to believe so much the more.
To our Theme. -- The man who has stood on the Acropolis,
And look'd down over Attica; or he
Who has sail'd where picturesque Constantinople is,
Or seen Timbuctoo, or hath taken tea
In small-eyed China's crockery-ware metropolis,
Or sat amidst the bricks of Nineveh,
May not think much of London's first appearance --
But ask him what he thinks of it a year hence?
Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity;
While every thing around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard, -- and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum: --
I say, Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation,
Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to 't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.
"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
'T is only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear:
Here" -- he was interrupted by a knife,
With, -- "Damn your eyes! your money or your life!" --
These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
May find himself within that isle of riches
Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.
Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought 't was only their "Salam,"
Or "God be with you!" -- and 't is not absurd
To think so: for half English as I am
(To my misfortune), never can I say
I heard them wish "God with you," save that way; --
Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding --
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
And roar'd out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
"Oh Jack! I'm floor'd by that 'ere bloody Frenchman!"
On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan's suite, late scatter'd at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish'd he had been less hasty with his flint.
"Perhaps," thought he, "it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up; I'll help you with the load."
But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh for a glass of max! We've miss'd our booty;
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, -- he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying, "Give Sal that!" -- and died.
The cravat stain'd with bloody drops fell down
Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
A thorough varmint, and a real swell,
Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.
Don Juan, having done the best he could
In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as "Crowner's quest" allow'd, pursued
His travels to the capital apace; --
Esteeming it a little hard he should
In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been obliged to slay a freeborn native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.
He from the world had cut off a great man,
Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bow Street's ban)
On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark, with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime, so swell, so nutty, and so knowing?
But Tom's no more -- and so no more of Tom.
Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 't is
Not long before the most of them go home.
Hail! Thamis, Hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other "tons,"
Which makes us wish ourselves in town at once; --
Through Groves, so call'd as being void of trees
(Like lucus from no light); through prospects named
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
Nor much to climb; through little boxes framed
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
With "To be let" upon their doors proclaim'd;
Through "Rows" most modestly call'd "Paradise,"
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice; --
Through coaches, drays, choked turnpikes, and a whirl
Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of "purl,"
There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distill'd into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas); --
Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
Upon the Guide-book's privilege. The sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party cross'd the bridge, --
That's rather fine. The gentle sound of Thamis --
Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream,
Though hardly heard through multifarious "damme's" --
The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where fame is
A spectral resident -- whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile --
Make this a sacred part of Albion's isle.
The Druids' groves are gone -- so much the better:
Stone-Henge is not -- but what the devil is it? --
But Bedlam still exists with its sage fetter,
That madmen may not bite you on a visit;
The Bench too seats or suits full many a debtor;
The Mansion House too (though some people quiz it)
To me appears a stiff yet grand erection;
But then the Abbey's worth the whole collection.
The line of lights, too, up to Charing Cross,
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation
Like gold as in comparison to dross,
Match'd with the Continent's illumination,
Whose cities Night by no means deigns to gloss.
The French were not yet a lamp-lighting nation,
And when they grew so -- on their new-found lantern,
Instead of wicks, they made a wicked man turn.
A row of gentlemen along the streets
Suspended may illuminate mankind,
As also bonfires made of country seats;
But the old way is best for the purblind:
The other looks like phosphorus on sheets,
A sort of ignis fatuus to the mind,
Which, though 't is certain to perplex and frighten,
Must burn more mildly ere it can enlighten.
But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes
Could recommence to hunt his honest man,
And found him not amidst the various progenies
Of this enormous city's spreading span,
'T were not for want of lamps to aid his dodging his
Yet undiscover'd treasure. What I can,
I've done to find the same throughout life's journey,
But see the world is only one attorney.
Over the stones still rattling up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages, but waxing thinner
As thunder'd knockers broke the long seal'd spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party as night fell, --
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursued his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James's Palace and St. James's "Hells."
They reach'd the hotel: forth stream'd from the front door
A tide of well-clad waiters, and around
The mob stood, and as usual several score
Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound
In decent London when the daylight's o'er;
Commodious but immoral, they are found
Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage. --
But Juan now is stepping from his carriage
Into one of the sweetest of hotels,
Especially for foreigners -- and mostly
For those whom favour or whom fortune swells,
And cannot find a bill's small items costly.
There many an envoy either dwelt or dwells
(The den of many a diplomatic lost lie),
Until to some conspicuous square they pass,
And blazon o'er the door their names in brass.
Juan, whose was a delicate commission,
Private, though publicly important, bore
No title to point out with due precision
The exact affair on which he was sent o'er.
'T was merely known, that on a secret mission
A foreigner of rank had graced our shore,
Young, handsome, and accomplish'd, who was said
(In whispers) to have turn'd his sovereign's head.
Some rumour also of some strange adventures
Had gone before him, and his wars and loves;
And as romantic heads are pretty painters,
And, above all, an Englishwoman's roves
Into the excursive, breaking the indentures
Of sober reason wheresoe'er it moves,
He found himself extremely in the fashion,
Which serves our thinking people for a passion.
I don't mean that they are passionless, but quite
The contrary; but then 't is in the head;
Yet as the consequences are as bright
As if they acted with the heart instead,
What after all can signify the site
Of ladies' lucubrations? So they lead
In safety to the place for which you start,
What matters if the road be head or heart?
Juan presented in the proper place,
To proper placemen, every Russ credential;
And was received with all the due grimace
By those who govern in the mood potential,
Who, seeing a handsome stripling with smooth face,
Thought (what in state affairs is most essential)
That they as easily might do the youngster,
As hawks may pounce upon a woodland songster.
They err'd, as agéd men will do; but by
And by we'll talk of that; and if we don't,
'T will be because our notion is not high
Of politicians and their double front,
Who live by lies, yet dare not boldly lie: --
Now what I love in women is, they won't
Or can't do otherwise than lie, but do it
So well, the very truth seems falsehood to it.
And, after all, what is a lie? 'T is but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy
Historians, heroes, lawyers. priests, to put
A fact without some leaven of a lie.
The very shadow of true Truth would shut
Up annals, revelations, poesy,
And prophecy -- except it should be dated
Some years before the incidents related.
Praised be all liars and all lies! Who now
Can tax my mild Muse with misanthropy?
She rings the world's "Te Deum," and her brow
Blushes for those who will not: -- but to sigh
Is idle; let us like most others bow,
Kiss hands, feet, any part of majesty,
After the good example of "Green Erin,"
Whose shamrock now seems rather worse for wearing.
Don Juan was presented, and his dress
And mien excited general admiration --
I don't know which was more admired or less:
One monstrous diamond drew much observation,
Which Catherine in a moment of "ivresse"
(In love or brandy's fervent fermentation)
Bestow'd upon him, as the public learn'd;
And, to say truth, it had been fairly earn'd.
Besides the ministers and underlings,
Who must be courteous to the accredited
Diplomatists of rather wavering kings,
Until their royal riddle's fully read,
The very clerks, -- those somewhat dirty springs
Of office, or the house of office, fed
By foul corruption into streams, -- even they
Were hardly rude enough to earn their pay:
And insolence no doubt is what they are
Employ'd for, since it is their daily labour,
In the dear offices of peace or war;
And should you doubt, pray ask of your next neighbour,
When for a passport, or some other bar
To freedom, he applied (a grief and a bore),
If he found not his spawn of taxborn riches,
Like lap-dogs, the least civil sons of b-----s.
But Juan was received with much "empressement:" --
These phrases of refinement I must borrow
From our next neighbours' land, where, like a chessman,
There is a move set down for joy or sorrow
Not only in mere talking, but the press. Man
In islands is, it seems, downright and thorough,
More than on continents -- as if the sea
(See Billingsgate) made even the tongue more free.
And yet the British "Damme"'s rather Attic:
Your continental oaths are but incontinent,
And turn on things which no aristocratic
Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent
This subject quote; as it would be schismatic
In politesse, and have a sound affronting in 't: --
But "Damme"'s quite ethereal, though too daring --
Platonic blasphemy, the soul of swearing.
For downright rudeness, ye may stay at home;
For true or false politeness (and scarce that
Now) you may cross the blue deep and white foam --
The first the emblem (rarely though) of what
You leave behind, the next of much you come
To meet. However, 't is no time to chat
On general topics: poems must confine
Themselves to unity, like this of mine.
In the great world, -- which, being interpreted,
Meaneth the west or worst end of a city,
And about twice two thousand people bred
By no means to be very wise or witty,
But to sit up while others lie in bed,
And look down on the universe with pity, --
Juan, as an inveterate patrician,
Was well received by persons of condition.
He was a bachelor, which is a matter
Of import both to virgin and to bride,
The former's hymeneal hopes to flatter;
And (should she not hold fast by love or pride)
'T is also of some moment to the latter:
A rib's a thorn in a wed gallant's side,
Requires decorum, and is apt to double
The horrid sin -- and what's still worse, the trouble.
But Juan was a bachelor -- of arts,
And parts, and hearts: he danced and sung, and had
An air as sentimental as Mozart's
Softest of melodies; and could be sad
Or cheerful, without any "flaws or starts,"
Just at the proper time; and though a lad,
Had seen the world -- which is a curious sight,
And very much unlike what people write.
Fair virgins blush'd upon him; wedded dames
Bloom'd also in less transitory hues;
For both commodities dwell by the Thames,
The painting and the painted; youth, ceruse,
Against his heart preferr'd their usual claims,
Such as no gentleman can quite refuse:
Daughters admired his dress, and pious mothers
Inquired his income, and if he had brothers.
The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses"
Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the honey-moon's last kisses
Have waned into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlook'd -- and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sigh'd, and paid it.
The Blues, that tender tribe who sigh o'er sonnets,
And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
Advanced in all their azure's highest hue:
They talk'd bad French or Spanish, and upon its
Late authors ask'd him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?
Juan, who was a little superficial,
And not in literature a great Drawcansir,
Examined by this learnéd and especial
Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.
However, he replied at hazard, with
A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learned lucubrations pith,
And pass'd for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
(Who at sixteen translated "Hercules Furens"
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.
Juan knew several languages -- as well
He might -- and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplish'd belle,
Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss Mævia Mannish,
Both long'd extremely to be sung in Spanish.
However, he did pretty well, and was
Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty "greatest living poets,"
As every paltry magazine can show its.
In twice five years the "greatest living poet,"
Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 't is an imaginary thing.
Even I -- albeit I'm sure I did not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king --
Was reckon'd a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.
But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
My Leipsic, and my Mount Saint Jean seems Cain:
"La Belle Alliance" of dunces down at zero,
Now that the Lion's fall'n, may rise again:
But I will fall at least as fell my hero;
Nor reign at all, or as a monarch reign;
Or to some lonely isle of gaolers go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.
Sir Walter reign'd before me; Moore and Campbell
Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus hath a psalmodic amble
Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol -- by the hilts?
Still he excels that artificial hard
Labourer in the same vineyard, though the vine
Yields him but vinegar for his reward, --
That neutralised dull Dorus of the Nine;
That swarthy Sporus, neither man nor bard;
That ox of verse, who ploughs for every line: --
Cambyses' roaring Romans beat at least
The howling Hebrews of Cybele's priest. --
Then there's my gentle Euphues, who, they say,
Sets up for being a sort of moral me;
He'll find it rather difficult some day
To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouth'd Boeotian "Savage Landor"
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.
John Keats, who was kill'd off by one critique,
Just as he really promised something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'T is strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.
The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
To that which none will gain -- or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances; they're too numerous, like the thirty
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals wax'd but dirty.
This is the literary lower empire,
Where the prætorian bands take up the matter; --
A "dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"
The insolent soldiery to soothe and flatter,
With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire.
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them what an intellectual war is.
I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks; -- but it is hardly worth my while
With such small gear to give myself concern:
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy,
And glides away, assured she never hurts ye.
My Juan, whom I left in deadly peril
Amongst live poets and blue ladies, past
With some small profit through that field so sterile,
Being tired in time, and, neither least nor last,
Left it before he had been treated very ill;
And henceforth found himself more gaily class'd
Amongst the higher spirits of the day,
The sun's true son, no vapour, but a ray.
His morns he pass'd in business -- which, dissected,
Was like all business a laborious nothing
That leads to lassitude, the most infected
And Centaur Nessus garb of mortal clothing,
And on our sofas makes us lie dejected,
And talk in tender horrors of our loathing
All kinds of toil, save for our country's good --
Which grows no better, though 't is time it should.
His afternoons he pass'd in visits, luncheons,
Lounging and boxing; and the twilight hour
In riding round those vegetable puncheons
Call'd "Parks," where there is neither fruit nor flower
Enough to gratify a bee's slight munchings;
But after all it is the only "bower"
(In Moore's phrase), where the fashionable fair
Can form a slight acquaintance with fresh air.
Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world!
Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar
Through street and square fast flashing chariots hurl'd
Like harness'd meteors; then along the floor
Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirl'd;
Then roll the brazen thunders of the door,
Which opens to the thousand happy few
An earthly paradise of "Or Molu."
There stands the noble hostess, nor shall sink
With the three-thousandth curtsy; there the waltz,
The only dance which teaches girls to think,
Makes one in love even with its very faults.
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond their brink,
And long the latest of arrivals halts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemn'd to climb,
And gain an inch of staircase at a time.
Thrice happy he who, after a survey
Of the good company, can win a corner,
A door that's in or boudoir out of the way,
Where he may fix himself like small "Jack Horner,"
And let the Babel round run as it may,
And look on as a mourner, or a scorner,
Or an approver, or a mere spectator,
Yawning a little as the night grows later.
But this won't do, save by and by; and he
Who, like Don Juan, takes an active share,
Must steer with care through all that glittering sea
Of gems and plumes and pearls and silks, to where
He deems it is his proper place to be;
Dissolving in the waltz to some soft air,
Or proudlier prancing with mercurial skill
Where Science marshals forth her own quadrille.
Or, if he dance not, but hath higher views
Upon an heiress or his neighbour's bride,
Let him take care that that which he pursues
Is not at once too palpably descried.
Full many an eager gentleman oft rues
His haste: impatience is a blundering guide,
Amongst a people famous for reflection,
Who like to play the fool with circumspection.
But, if you can contrive, get next at supper;
Or, if forestalled, get opposite and ogle: --
Oh, ye ambrosial moments! always upper
In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle,
Which sits for ever upon memory's crupper,
The ghost of vanish'd pleasures once in vogue! Ill
Can tender souls relate the rise and fall
Of hopes and fears which shake a single ball.
But these precautionary hints can touch
Only the common run, who must pursue,
And watch, and ward; whose plans a word too much
Or little overturns; and not the few
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Whom a good mien, especially if new,
Or fame, or name, for wit, war, sense, or nonsense,
Permits whate'er they please, or did not long since.
Our hero, as a hero, young and handsome,
Noble, rich, celebrated, and a stranger,
Like other slaves of course must pay his ransom,
Before he can escape from so much danger
As will environ a conspicuous man. Some
Talk about poetry, and "rack and manger,"
And ugliness, disease, as toil and trouble; --
I wish they knew the life of a young noble.
They are young, but know not youth -- it is anticipated;
Handsome but wasted, rich without a sou;
Their vigour in a thousand arms is dissipated;
Their cash comes from, their wealth goes to a Jew;
Both senates see their nightly votes participated
Between the tyrant's and the tribunes' crew;
And having voted, dined, drunk, gamed, and whored,
The family vault receives another lord.
"Where is the world?" cries Young, at eighty" -- "Where
The world in which a man was born?" Alas!
Where is the world of eight years past? 'T was there --
I look for it -- 't is gone, a globe of glass!
Crack'd, shiver'd, vanish'd, scarcely gazed on, ere
A silent change dissolves the glittering mass.
Statesmen, chiefs, orators, queens, patriots, kings,
And dandies, all are gone on the wind's wings.
Where is Napoleon the Grand? God knows.
Where little Castlereagh? The devil can tell:
Where Grattan, Curran, Sheridan, all those
Who bound the bar or senate in their spell?
Where is the unhappy Queen, with all her woes?
And where the Daughter, whom the Isles loved well?
Where are those martyr'd saints the Five per Cents?
And where -- oh, where the devil are the rents?
Where's Brummel? Dish'd. Where's Long Pole Wellesley? Diddled.
Where's Whitbread? Romilly? Where's George the Third?
Where is his will? (That's not so soon unriddled.)
And where is "Fum" the Fourth, our "royal bird?"
Gone down, it seems, to Scotland to be fiddled
Unto by Sawney's violin, we have heard:
"Caw me, caw thee" -- for six months hath been hatching
This scene of royal itch and loyal scratching.
Where is Lord This? And where my Lady That?
The Honourable Mistresses and Misses?
Some laid aside like an old Opera hat,
Married, unmarried, and remarried (this is
An evolution oft performed of late).
Where are the Dublin shouts -- and London hisses?
Where are the Grenvilles? Turn'd as usual. Where
My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were.
Where are the Lady Carolines and Franceses?
Divorced or doing thereanent. Ye annals
So brilliant, where the list of routs and dances is, --
Thou Morning Post, sole record of the panels
Broken in carriages, and all the phantasies
Of fashion, -- say what streams now fill those channels?
Some die, some fly, some languish on the Continent,
Because the times have hardly left them one tenant.
Some who once set their caps at cautious dukes,
Have taken up at length with younger brothers:
Some heiresses have bit at sharpers' hooks:
Some maids have been made wives, some merely mothers;
Others have lost their fresh and fairy looks:
In short, the list of alterations bothers.
There's little strange in this, but something strange is
The unusual quickness of these common changes.
Talk not of seventy years as age; in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
The humblest individual under heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through.
I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new:
Nought's permanent among the human race,
Except the Whigs not getting into place.
I have seen Napoleon, who seem'd quite a Jupiter,
Shrink to a Saturn. I have seen a Duke
(No matter which) turn politician stupider,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my "blue Peter,"
And sail for a new theme: -- I have seen -- and shook
To see it -- the king hiss'd, and then caress'd;
But don't pretend to settle which was best.
I have seen the Landholders without a rap --
I have seen Joanna Southcote -- I have seen --
The House of Commons turn'd to a tax-trap --
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen --
I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap --
I have seen a Congress doing all that's mean --
I have seen some nations like o'erloaded asses
Kick off their burthens, meaning the high classes.
I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
Interminable -- not eternal -- speakers --
I have seen the funds at war with house and land --
I have seen the country gentlemen turn squeakers --
I have seen the people ridden o'er like sand
By slaves on horseback -- I have seen malt liquors
Exchanged for "thin potations" by John Bull --
I have seen john half detect himself a fool. --
But "carpe diem," Juan, "carpe, carpe!"
To-morrow sees another race as gay
And transient, and devour'd by the same harpy.
"Life's a poor player," -- then "play out the play,
Ye villains!" above all keep a sharp eye
Much less on what you do than what you say:
Be hypocritical, be cautious, be
Not what you seem, but always what you see.
But how shall I relate in other cantos
Of what befell our hero in the land,
Which 't is the common cry and lie to vaunt as
A moral country? But I hold my hand --
For I disdain to write an Atalantis;
But 't is as well at once to understand,
You are not a moral people, and you know it
Without the aid of too sincere a poet.
What Juan saw and underwent shall be
My topic, with of course the due restriction
Which is required by proper courtesy;
And recollect the work is only fiction,
And that I sing of neither mine nor me,
Though every scribe, in some slight turn of diction,
Will hint allusions never meant. Ne'er doubt
This -- when I speak, I don't hint, but speak out.
Whether he married with the third or fourth
Offspring of some sage husband-hunting countess,
Or whether with some virgin of more worth
(I mean in Fortune's matrimonial bounties)
He took to regularly peopling Earth,
Of which your lawful awful wedlock fount is, --
Or whether he was taken in for damages,
For being too excursive in his homages, --
Is yet within the unread events of time.
Thus far, go forth, thou lay, which I will back
Against the same given quantity of rhyme,
For being as much the subject of attack
As ever yet was any work sublime,
By those who love to say that white is black.
So much the better! -- I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.
If She Did Know About My Love For Her (In Answer To Sara Teasdale) (Roundel)
If she did know about my love for her
never again would my painful tears flow,
constantly we would still be together,
if she did know.
Like a great fountain our joy would overflow,
in all her longings there would be no other
always I would see her bright smile glow,
while daily she would small flowers gather;
even in times of cold winter and snow
we would kiss, embrace each other rather,
if she did know…
She Had Been Nice
Of course she was loved,
By those who delighted in her leadership.
She did nothing controversial.
Or incited conflict.
And she was stylish wherever she went.
Publicly she was always pleasant.
And in a calm voice she always spoke.
But when she left office and the government in shambles...
Everyone knew her guidance was a joke.
She wasn't about disturbances.
Under someone's watch...
Can billions of crumbs,
Be left as a deficit to sit on an exposed table...
Without a cleaning of it ordered to be done.
Of course she was loved,
By those who delighted in her leadership.
She did nothing controversial.
Or incited conflict.
She had been nice!
And people liked it.
Although with smiles,
Their quality of lifestyles...
Has diminished drastically.
And for some not to be in existence.
But she was 'nice'.
And people liked it!
'Where is she now? '
~She has mysteriously decided,
To spend more time with her family.
Just before the storm began.~
I Had A Talk With A Woman Just A While Ago
I had a talk with a woman just a while ago
Well, she is not just a woman,
She is that woman
The other woman,
That he always brags about,
Witty, witty, tweedy, tweet,
To me, forgive me, but she is
Witty too, wait,
I wish him dead and for weeks I will be wearing black
Tradition they say,
It will be my color of good riddance
Of this bastard of that woman
Sleeping in bed squeezing some drops of life
To lengthen that sense of agony,
Waiting on a chair
In a hospital room as though I am a passenger
On a plane on a flight to nowhere
Well, at least I have shown some chunks of my
Being nasty and
This touch of class that money always
But I showed my wit,
And she did not believe it,
At least, I am consoled,
I am the lie
And she will be the truth for a time
Another encounter, with a web cam this time,
When black will be the color of the week,
Or I will
Compromise for white,
Just in case, she still insists that I am still a lie
Just like him with her in some greenish spacious cyber bed.
Just a while ago, I had a talk with that woman,
she will feel what I feel she will.
The Boys' And Girls' Thanksgiving of 1892
Never since the race was started,
Had a boy in any clime,
Cause to be so thankful-hearted,
As the boys of present time.
Not a girl in old times living-
Let the world talk as it may-
Found such reasons for Thanksgiving,
As the girls who live to-day!
Grandmas, in their corners sitting,
Toiling till the day grew late,
What knew they with endless knitting,
Of the jolly roller-skate?
Grandpas sitting by the fender,
Reading by the faggots' blaze,
What knew they of modern splendor
Found in incandescent rays?
Where they toiled in bitter weather,
Braving rain and snow and sleet,
Gathering sticks of wood together,
We have radiators' heat.
But these fruits of modern science
They first planted seed by seed,
In their strength and self-reliance
We may find a noble creed.
With the dawn of great inventions,
Came the anti-warring days.
Men are sick of armed contentions,
God be thanked with heart-felt praise.
Once a boy was trained for fighting,
Now the world is better taught,
'Tis an age when wrongs are righting
By the force of common thought.
Once a girl was trained for sewing,
Spinning, knitting, nothing more.
She must never think of knowing
Aught of things outside her door.
If she soared above her spinning,
If she sought a life more broad,
She was looked upon as sinning
'Gainst the laws of man and God.
Now a girl is taught she's human,
Brain and body, soul and heart-
All are needed by the woman
Who to-day would play her part.
Swift and sure the world advances,
Let the critic carp who may.
God be praised for all the chances
Boys and girls enjoy to-day.
The Bush Fire
“’TIS nine o’clock:—to bed!” cried Egremont,
Who with his youthful household (for ’tis now
Long since) inhabited a lonely home
In the Australian wilderness, that then
As with an unshorn fleece of gloomy wood
Robed the vast bulk of all the mighty Isle.
But ere retiring finally, he went
Forth as his wont was, to survey the night.
’Twas clear and silent: and the stirless woods
Seemed dreaming in the witch-light of the moon
As like a boat of stained pearl, she hung
Amid the ridges of a wavy cloud—
The only cloud in heaven. While Egremont
Looked thus abroad observingly, he marked
All around him, listing the horizon’s verge,
A broad unusual upward glaring gleam,
Such a drear radiance as the setting sun
Effuses when the atmosphere is stormy.
What this might be he wondered—but not long;
Divining soon the cause—a vast Bush Fire!
But deeming it too distant yet for harm,
During the night betiding, to repose
With his bed-faring household he retired.
Sound was their sleep: for honesty of life
Is somewhat lumpish when ’tis once a-bed.
And now the darkness of the night was past,
When with the dreams of Egremont, a strange
And momently approaching roar began
To mingle and insinuate through them more
And more of its own import, till a Fire
Huge as the world was their sole theme: and then
He started from his sleep to find the type
A warning! for what else however terrible,
Might breathe with a vitality so fierce
As that which reigned without?
Scarce did he wait
To clothe himself ere forth he rushed; and lo,
Within the circling forest he beheld
A vast and billowy belt of writhing fire,
That shed a wild and lurid splendour up
Against the whitening dawn, come raging on!
Raging and roaring as with ten thousand tongues
That prophesied destruction. On it came,
A dreadful apparition—such as Fear
Conceives when dreaming of the front of hell!
No time was there to lose. “Up—up!” he cried
To all the house. Instantly all within
Was haste and wonder, and in briefest space
The whole-roused family were staring out
In speechless admiration, such as kept
Even Terror dormant;—till more urgently
The voice of Egremont again was heard:—
“Lose not a moment! Follow me at once,
Each with whatever he can grasp of use
And carry unincumbered!”
A narrow strip of clearing 1 like a glade
Stretched out tow’rds a bald summit. Thitherward
The perilled people now were hurrying all,
While in their front, beneath the ridge, a dense
Extent of brushwood into which the Fire’s
Bright teeth were eating hungrily, still brought
The danger nearer! Shall they reach that hill
Unscathed, their only refuge? Will they speed
Past the red-rushing peril? Onward yet!
And onward!—till at length the summit’s gained,
And halting, they look back—in safety all,
But no sooner had they past
That fearful brush, than a vast swathe of flame
Lifted and hurried forward by the wind
Over their very passage track, was pitched
With a loud thud like thunder into it—
With such a thud as the sea-swell gives up
From under the ledges of some hanging cliff!
And in an instant all its depth of shade
Was as a lake of hell! And hark! as then,
Even like a ghastly pyramid its mass
Of flames went surging up—up with them still
A cry of mortal agony was heard
Ascending, all so terrible, indeed,
That they who heard it, never, until then,
Might deem a voice so earnest in its fear,
So strenuous in its anguish could have being
In the live bosom of the suffering Earth!
But soon did they divine, even to their loss,
Its import:—there a giant steed, their best,
Had taken refuge, there to die!
In safety now upon that hill’s bare top—
Egremont and his household looked abroad,
Astonished at the terrors of the time!
Soon sunk their rooftree in the fiery surge,
Which entering next a high-grassed bottom, thick
With bark-ringed trees all standing bleak and leafless,
Tenfold more terrible in its ravage grew,
Upclimbing to their very tops! As when
Upon some day of national festival,
From the tall spars of the ship-crowded port
Innumerous flags in one direction all
Tongue outward, writhing in the wind: even so,
From those dry boles where still the dead bark clings
And from their multifarious mass above
Of leafless boughs, myriads of flaming tongues
Lick upward, or aloft in narrowing flakes
Stream out,—and thence upon the tortured blast
Bicker and flap in one inconstant blaze!
Scared forward by the roaring of the Fire,
A flight of parrots o’er the upper ridge
Comes whizzing, and then sweeping down, alights
Amid the oaks that fringe the base of yon
Precipitous terrace, being deterred from still
Proceeding by the smoke uprolled in front
Like a dim-moving range of spectral mountains.
There they abide, and listen in their fear
To the tremendous riot of the flames
Beyond the ridge line, that keep nearing fast
Though yet unseen from thence—unseen, till now
Furiously seizing on the withered grove
That tops the terrace, all whose spiry shafts
Rush upward, and then culminating, bend
Sheer o’er the oaks wherein the birds are lodged.
All are in flight at once, but from above
As suddenly, a mightier burst of flame
Outsheeteth o’er them!—Down they dip, but it
Keeps swooping with them even to the ground—
Where, in a moment after, all are seen
To writhe convulsed—blasted and plumeless all!
Thus through the day the conflagration raged:
And when the wings of night o’erspread the scene,
Not even their starry blazonry wore such
An aggregated glory to the eye,
As did the blazing dead wood of the forest—
On all hands blazing! Mighty sapless gums
Amid their living kindred, stood all fire—
Boles, branches, all!—like flaming ghosts of trees,
Come from the past within the whiteman’s pale
To typify a doom. Such was the prospect:
Illuminated cities were but jests
Compared to it for splendor. But enough!
Where are the words to paint the million shapes
And unimaginable freaks of Fire,
When holding thus its monster carnival
In the primeval forest all night long?
The Bay Of Seven Islands
FROM the green Amesbury hill which bears the name
Of that half mythic ancestor of mine
Who trod its slopes two hundred years ago,
Down the long valley of the Merrimac,
Midway between me and the river's mouth,
I see thy home, set like an eagle's nest
Among Deer Island's immemorial pines,
Crowning the crag on which the sunset breaks
Its last red arrow. Many a tale and song,
Which thou bast told or sung, I call to mind,
Softening with silvery mist the woods and hills,
The out-thrust headlands and inreaching bays
Of our northeastern coast-line, trending where
The Gulf, midsummer, feels the chill blockade
Of icebergs stranded at its northern gate.
To thee the echoes of the Island Sound
Answer not vainly, nor in vain the moan
Of the South Breaker prophesying storm.
And thou hast listened, like myself, to men
Sea-periled oft where Anticosti lies
Like a fell spider in its web of fog,
Or where the Grand Bank shallows with the wrecks
Of sunken fishers, and to whom strange isles
And frost-rimmed bays and trading stations seem
Familiar as Great Neck and Kettle Cove,
Nubble and Boon, the common names of home.
So let me offer thee this lay of mine,
Simple and homely, lacking much thy play
Of color and of fancy. If its theme
And treatment seem to thee befitting youth
Rather than age, let this be my excuse
It has beguiled some heavy hours and called
Some pleasant memories up; and, better still,
Occasion lent me for a kindly word
To one who is my neighbor and my friend.
. . . . . . . . . .
The skipper sailed out of the harbor mouth,
Leaving the apple-bloom of the South
For the ice of the Eastern seas,
In his fishing schooner Breeze.
Handsome and brave and young was he,
And the maids of Newbury sighed to see
His lessening white sail fall
Under the sea's blue wall.
Through the Northern Gulf and the misty screen
Of the isles of Mingan and Madeleine,
St. Paul's and Blanc Sablon,
The little Breeze sailed on,
Backward and forward, along the shore
Of lorn and desolate Labrador,
And found at last her way
To the Seven Islands Bay.
The little hamlet, nestling below
Great hills white with lingering snow,
With its tin-roofed chapel stood
Half hid in the dwarf spruce wood;
Green-turfed, flower-sown, the last outpost
Of summer upon the dreary coast,
With its gardens small and spare,
Sad in the frosty air.
Hard by where the skipper's schooner lay,
A fisherman's cottage looked away
Over isle and bay, and. behind
On mountains dim-defined.
And there twin sisters, fair and young,
Laughed with their stranger guest, and sung
In their native tongue the lays
Of the old Provencal days.
Alike were they, save the faint outline
Of a scar on Suzette's forehead fine;
And both, it so befell,
Loved the heretic stranger well.
Both were pleasant to look upon,
But the heart of the skipper clave to one;
Though less by his eye than heart
He knew the twain apart.
Despite of alien race and creed,
Well did his wooing of Marguerite speed;
And the mother's wrath was vain
As the sister's jealous pain.
The shrill-tongued mistress her house forbade,
And solemn warning was sternly said
By the black-robed priest, whose word
As law the hamlet heard.
But half by voice and half by signs
The skipper said, 'A warm sun shines
On the green-banked Merrimac;
Wait, watch, till I come back.
'And when you see, from my mast head,
The signal fly of a kerchief red,
My boat on the shore shall wait;
Come, when the night is late.'
Ah! weighed with childhood's haunts and friends,
And all that the home sky overbends,
Did ever young love fail
To turn the trembling scale?
Under the night, on the wet sea sands,
Slowly unclasped their plighted hands
One to the cottage hearth,
And one to his sailor's berth.
What was it the parting lovers heard?
Nor leaf, nor ripple, nor wing of bird,
But a listener's stealthy tread
On the rock-moss, crisp and dead.
He weighed his anchor, and fished once more
By the black coast-line of Labrador;
And by love and the north wind driven,
Sailed back to the Islands Seven.
In the sunset's glow the sisters twain
Saw the Breeze come sailing in again;
Said Suzette, 'Mother dear,
The heretic's sail is here.'
'Go, Marguerite, to your room, and hide;
Your door shall be bolted!' the mother cried:
While Suzette, ill at ease,
Watched the red sign of the Breeze.
At midnight, down to the waiting skiff
She stole in the shadow of the cliff;
And out of the Bay's mouth ran
The schooner with maid and man.
And all night long, on a restless bed,
Her prayers to the Virgin Marguerite said
And thought of her lover's pain
Waiting for her in vain.
Did he pace the sands? Did he pause to hear
The sound of her light step drawing near?
And, as the slow hours passed,
Would he doubt her faith at last?
But when she saw through the misty pane,
The morning break on a sea of rain,
Could even her love avail
To follow his vanished sail?
Meantime the Breeze, with favoring wind,
Left the rugged Moisic hills behind,
And heard from an unseen shore
The falls of Manitou roar.
On the morrow's morn, in the thick, gray weather
They sat on the reeling deck together,
Lover and counterfeit,
Of hapless Marguerite.
With a lover's hand, from her forehead fair
He smoothed away her jet-black hair.
What was it his fond eyes met?
The scar of the false Suzette!
Fiercely he shouted: 'Bear away
East by north for Seven Isles Bay!'
The maiden wept and prayed,
But the ship her helm obeyed.
Once more the Bay of the Isles they found
They heard the bell of the chapel sound,
And the chant of the dying sung
In the harsh, wild Indian tongue.
A feeling of mystery, change, and awe
Was in all they heard and all they saw
Spell-bound the hamlet lay
In the hush of its lonely bay.
And when they came to the cottage door,
The mother rose up from her weeping sore,
And with angry gestures met
The scared look of Suzette.
'Here is your daughter,' the skipper said;
'Give me the one I love instead.'
But the woman sternly spake;
'Go, see if the dead will wake!'
He looked. Her sweet face still and white
And strange in the noonday taper light,
She lay on her little bed,
With the cross at her feet and head.
In a passion of grief the strong man bent
Down to her face, and, kissing it, went
Back to the waiting Breeze,
Back to the mournful seas.
Never again to the Merrimac
And Newbury's homes that bark came back.
Whether her fate she met
On the shores of Carraquette,
Miscou, or Tracadie, who can say?
But even yet at Seven Isles Bay
Is told the ghostly tale
Of a weird, unspoken sail,
In the pale, sad light of the Northern day
Seen by the blanketed Montagnais,
Or squaw, in her small kyack,
Crossing the spectre's track.
On the deck a maiden wrings her hands;
Her likeness kneels on the gray coast sands;
One in her wild despair,
And one in the trance of prayer.
She flits before no earthly blast,
The red sign fluttering from her mast,
Over the solemn seas,
The ghost of the schooner Breeze!
Elegy For Whatever Had A Pattern In It
Now that the Summer of Love has become the moss of tunnels
And the shadowy mouths of tunnels & all the tunnels lead into the city,
I'm going to put the one largely forgotten, swaying figure of Ediesto Huerta
Right in front of you so you can watch him swamp fruit
Out of an orchard in the heat of an August afternoon, I'm going to let you
Keep your eyes on him as he lifts & swings fifty-pound boxes of late
Elberta peaches up to me where I'm standing on a flatbed trailer & breathing in
Tractor exhaust so thick it bends the air, bends things seen through it
So that they seem to swim through the air.
It is a lousy job, & no one has to do it, & we do it.
We do it so that I can show you even what isn't there,
What's hidden. And signed by Time itself. And set spinning,
And is only a spider, after all, with its net waiting for what falls,
For what flies into it, & ages, & turns gray in a matter of minutes. The web
Is nothing's blueprint, bleached by the sun & whitened by it, it's what's left
After we've vanished, after we become what falls apart when anyone
Touches it, eyelash & collarbone dissolving into air, & time touching
The boxes we are wrapped in like gifts & splintering them
Into wood again, at the edge of a wood.
Black Widow is a name no one ever tinkered with or tried to change.
If you turn her on her back you can see the blood red hourglass figure
She carries on her belly,
Small as the design of a pirate I saw once on a tab of blotter acid
Before I took half of it, & a friend took the other, & then the two of us
Walked down to the empty post office beside the lake to look,
For some reason, at the wanted posters. We liked a little drama
In the ordinary then. Now a spider's enough.
And this one, in the legend she inhabits, is famous, & the male dies.
She eats its head after the eggs are fertilized.
It's the hourglass on her belly I remember, & the way the figure of it,
Figure eight of Time & Infinity, looked like something designed,
Etched or embossed upon the slick undershell, & the way there was,
The first time I saw it, a stillness in the pattern that was not
The stillness of the leaves or the stillness of the sky over the leaves.
After the male dies she goes off & the eggs
Live in the fraying sail
Of an abandoned web strung up in the corner of a picking box or beneath
Some slowly yellowing grape leaf among hundreds of other
Leaves, in autumn, the eggs smaller than the o in this typescript
Or a handwritten apostrophe in ink.
What do they represent but emptiness, some gold camp settlement
In the Sierras swept clean by smallpox, & wind?
Canal school with its three rooms, its bell & the rope you rang it with
And no one there in the empty sunlight, ring & after ring & echo.
It magnifies & I can't explain it.
Piedra, Conejo, Parlier. Stars & towns, blown fire & wind.
Deneb & Altair, invisible kindling, nothing above nothing.
It magnifies & I can't explain it.
Expressionless spinster, carrying Time's signature preserved & signed
In blood & hidden beneath you, you move two steps
To the right & hold still, then one step to the left,
And hold still again, motionless as the web you wait in.
Motionless as the story you wait in & inhabit but did not spin
And did not repeat. You wait in the beehive hairdo of the girl
Sitting across from me in class, wait in your eggs,
Wait in the hair the girl teases & sprays once more at recess.
Lipstick, heels, tight sweater, leather anklet.
The story has no point but stillness itself, absence in a school desk,
The hacked and scratched names visible in the varnished wood,
No one there, the bell with its ring & after ring & echo.
In class, I remember, she would look back at me with a gaze deeper
Than calm, blanker than a pond's scummed & motionless surface,
Beneath which there was nothing, nothing taking the shape of someone
Who had already drowned but could not die, & so sat in class
Because she had to, because that was the law.
Mrs. Avery went on & on at the blackboard so we could know
Who Magellan & Vizcaino had been, or sometimes she would make
The boy who spoke only Spanish read from a book,
Watch him as he used his forefinger to point at each syllable
He would read, read & mispronounce, & stumble over, & go on.
And this isn't much of a story either, but it's one I know:
One afternoon in August, two black widow spiders bit Ediesto Huerta.
He killed them both & went on working,
Went on swinging the boxes up to me. In a few minutes the sweat
Bathed his face until it glistened, & still he went on working;
And when I asked him to stop he would not & instead
Seemed to begin to dance slowly in the rhythms of the work,
Swing & heft & turning back for another box, then
Swing, heft, & turning back again. And within a half hour or so,
Without him resting once but merely swinging box after box
Of peaches up to me in the heat, the fever broke.
In the middle of turning away again, he stopped dancing,
He stopped working. He seemed to be listening to something, & then
He passed out & fell flat on his back. It looked as if he had gone to sleep
For a moment. I let the idling tractor sputter & die, & by the time
I reached him, he had awakened, &, in the next moment, his face
Began twitching, his arms & legs danced to something without music
And then stiffened, his jaws clenched & his eyes fluttered open
And turned a pure white. I made a stick from a peach limb & tore
The leaves & shoots off it & stuck it between his teeth
As I heard one was supposed to, &, in this way, almost
Killed him by suffocation, & so took the stick out & threw it away.
And later lifted him by the one arm he extended to me & pulled him up onto
The bed of the trailer. He dangled his legs off the rear of it.
We sat there, saying nothing.
It was so quiet we could hear the birds around us in the trees.
And then he turned to me, &, addressing me in a name as old as childhood,
Said, 'Hey Cowboy, you wanna cigarette?'
In the story, no one can remember whether it was car theft or burglary,
But in fact, Ediesto Huerta was tried & convicted of something, & so, afterward,
Became motionless & silent in the web spun around him by misfortune.
In the penitentiary the lights stay on forever,
Cell after cell after cell, they call their names out, caught in time.
Ring, & after ring, & echo.
In the story, the girl always dies of spider bites,
When in fact she disappeared by breaking into the jagged pieces of glass
Littering the roadsides & glinting in the empty light that shines there. 6
All we are is representation, what we appear to be & are, & are not,
And representation is all we remember,
Something hesitating & looking back & caught for a moment.
God in the design on a spider's belly, standing for time & infinity,
Looks back, looks back just once, then never again.
We go without a trace, I am thinking. We go & there's no one there,
No one to meet us on the long drive lined with orange trees,
Cypresses, the bleaching fronds of palm trees,
And though the town is still there when I return to it, when I'm gone
The track is empty beside the station, & the station is boarded up,
Boarded over, the town is overgrown with leaves, with weeds
Tall as windowsills, window glass out & dark inside the shops.
The classrooms & school are gone & the bell, & the rope
To ring it with, & the boy reading form the book, forefinger
On a syllable he can't pronounce & stumbles over again & again.
All we are is representation, what we are & are not,
Clear & then going dark again, all we are
Is the design or insignia that misrepresents what we are, & stays
Behind, & looks back at us without expression, empty road in sunlight.
I once drove in a '48 Jimmy truck with three tons of fruit
On it & the flooring beneath the clutch so worn away I could see
The road go past beneath me, the oil flecked light & shadow
Picking up speed. Angel & Johnny Dominguez, Ediesto Huerta,
Jaime Vaca & Coronado Solares, Querido Flacco
And the one called Dead Rat & the one called Camelias;
We go without a trace, I am thinking.
Today you were lying in bed, drinking tea, reading the newspaper,
A look of concentration on your face, of absorption in some
Story or other.
It looked so peaceful, you reading, the bed, the sunlight over everything.
There is a blueprint of something never finished, something I'll never
Find my way out of, some web where the light rocks, back & forth,
Holding me in a time that's gone, bee at the windowsill & the cold
Coming back as it has to, tapping at the glass.
The figure in the hourglass & the body swinging in the rhythm of its work.
The body reclining in bed, forgetting what it is, & who.
While the night goes on with its work, the stars & the shapes they make,
Cold vein in the leaf & in the wind,
What are we but what we offer up?
Gifts we give, things for oblivion to look at, & puzzle over, & set aside.
Oblivion resting his cheek against a child's striped rubber ball
In the photograph I have of him, head on the table & resting his cheek
Against the cool surface of the ball, the one that is finished spinning, the one
He won't give back.
Oblivion who has my face in the photograph, my cheek resting
Against a child's striped ball.
Oblivion with his blown fires, & empty towns...
Oblivion who would be nothing without us, I am thinking,
As if we're put on the earth to forget the ending, & wander.
And walk alone. And walk in the midst of great crowds,
And never come back.
The Grand Question Debated: Whether Hamilton’s Bawn Should Be Turned Into A Barrack Or Malt-House
Thus spoke to my lady the knight full of care,
'Let me have your advice in a weighty affair.
This Hamilton's bawn, while it sticks in my hand
I lose by the house what I get by the land;
But how to dispose of it to the best bidder,
For a barrack or malt-house, we now must consider.
'First, let me suppose I make it a malt-house,
Here I have computed the profit will fall t'us:
There's nine hundred pounds for labour and grain,
I increase it to twelve, so three hundred remain;
A handsome addition for wine and good cheer,
Three dishes a-day, and three hogsheads a-year;
With a dozen large vessels my vault shall be stored;
No little scrub joint shall come on my board;
And you and the Dean no more shall combine
To stint me at night to one bottle of wine;
Nor shall I, for his humour, permit you to purloin
A stone and a quarter of beef from my sir-loin.
If I make it a barrack, the crown is my tenant;
My dear, I have ponder'd again and again on't:
In poundage and drawbacks I lose half my rent,
Whatever they give me, I must be content,
Or join with the court in every debate;
And rather than that, I would lose my estate.'
Thus ended the knight; thus began his meek wife:
'It must, and it shall be a barrack, my life.
I'm grown a mere mopus; no company comes
But a rabble of tenants, and rusty dull rums.
With parsons what lady can keep herself clean?
I'm all over daub'd when I sit by the Dean.
But if you will give us a barrack, my dear,
The captain I'm sure will always come here;
I then shall not value his deanship a straw,
For the captain, I warrant, will keep him in awe;
Or, should he pretend to be brisk and alert,
Will tell him that chaplains should not be so pert;
That men of his coat should be minding their prayers,
And not among ladies to give themselves airs.'
Thus argued my lady, but argued in vain;
The knight his opinion resolved to maintain.
But Hannah, who listen'd to all that was past,
And could not endure so vulgar a taste,
As soon as her ladyship call'd to be dress'd,
Cried, 'Madam, why surely my master's possess'd,
Sir Arthur the maltster! how fine it will sound!
I'd rather the bawn were sunk under ground.
But, madam, I guess'd there would never come good,
When I saw him so often with Darby and Wood.
And now my dream's out; for I was a-dream'd
That I saw a huge rat—O dear, how I scream'd!
And after, methought, I had lost my new shoes;
And Molly, she said, I should hear some ill news.
'Dear Madam, had you but the spirit to tease,
You might have a barrack whenever you please:
And, madam, I always believed you so stout,
That for twenty denials you would not give out.
If I had a husband like him, I purtest,
Till he gave me my will, I would give him no rest;
And, rather than come in the same pair of sheets
With such a cross man, I would lie in the streets:
But, madam, I beg you, contrive and invent,
And worry him out, till he gives his consent.
Dear madam, whene'er of a barrack I think,
An I were to be hang'd, I can't sleep a wink:
For if a new crotchet comes into my brain,
I can't get it out, though I'd never so fain.
I fancy already a barrack contrived
At Hamilton's bawn, and the troop is arrived;
Of this to be sure, Sir Arthur has warning,
And waits on the captain betimes the next morning.
'Now see, when they meet, how their honours behave;
'Noble captain, your servant'—'Sir Arthur, your slave;
You honour me much'—'The honour is mine.'—
''Twas a sad rainy night'—'But the morning is fine.'—
'Pray, how does my lady?'—'My wife's at your service.'—
'I think I have seen her picture by Jervas.'—
'Good-morrow, good captain'—'I'll wait on you down'—
'You shan't stir a foot'—'You'll think me a clown.'—
'For all the world, captain, not half an inch farther'—
'You must be obey'd—Your servant, Sir Arthur!
My humble respects to my lady unknown.'—
'I hope you will use my house as your own.''
'Go bring me my smock, and leave off your prate,
Thou hast certainly gotten a cup in thy pate.'
'Pray, madam, be quiet: what was it I said?
You had like to have put it quite out of my head.
Next day to be sure, the captain will come,
At the head of his troop, with trumpet and drum.
Now, madam, observe how he marches in state:
The man with the kettle-drum enters the gate:
Dub, dub, adub, dub. The trumpeters follow.
Tantara, tantara; while all the boys holla.
See now comes the captain all daub'd with gold lace:
O la! the sweet gentleman! look in his face;
And see how he rides like a lord of the land,
With the fine flaming sword that he holds in his hand;
And his horse, the dear creter, it prances and rears;
With ribbons in knots at its tail and its ears:
At last comes the troop, by word of command,
Drawn up in our court; when the captain cries, STAND!
Your ladyship lifts up the sash to be seen,
For sure I had dizen'd you out like a queen.
The captain, to show he is proud of the favour,
Looks up to your window, and cocks up his beaver;
(His beaver is cock'd: pray, madam, mark that,
For a captain of horse never takes off his hat,
Because he has never a hand that is idle,
For the right holds the sword, and the left holds the bridle
Then flourishes thrice his sword in the air,
As a compliment due to a lady so fair;
(How I tremble to think of the blood it has spilt!)
Then he lowers down the point, and kisses the hilt.
Your ladyship smiles, and thus you begin:
'Pray, captain, be pleased to alight and walk in.'
The captain salutes you with congee profound,
And your ladyship curtseys half way to the ground.
'Kit, run to your master, and bid him come to us;
I'm sure he'll be proud of the honour you do us;
And, captain, you'll do us the favour to stay,
And take a short dinner here with us to-day:
You're heartily welcome; but as for good cheer,
You come in the very worst time of the year;
If I had expected so worthy a guest—'
'Lord, madam! your ladyship sure is in jest;
You banter me, madam; the kingdom must grant—'
'You officers, captain, are so complaisant!''—
'Hist, hussey, I think I hear somebody coming '—
'No madam: 'tis only Sir Arthur a-humming.
To shorten my tale, (for I hate a long story,)
The captain at dinner appears in his glory;
The dean and the doctor have humbled their pride,
For the captain's entreated to sit by your side;
And, because he's their betters, you carve for him first;
The parsons for envy are ready to burst.
The servants, amazed, are scarce ever able
To keep off their eyes, as they wait at the table;
And Molly and I have thrust in our nose,
To peep at the captain in all his fine clo'es.
Dear madam, be sure he's a fine spoken man,
Do but hear on the clergy how glib his tongue ran;
And, 'madam,' says he, 'if such dinners you give,
You'll ne'er want for parsons as long as you live.
I ne'er knew a parson without a good nose;
But the devil's as welcome, wherever he goes:
G—d d—n me! they bid us reform and repent,
But, z—s! by their looks, they never keep Lent:
Mister curate, for all your grave looks, I'm afraid
You cast a sheep's eye on her ladyship's maid:
I wish she would lend you her pretty white hand
In mending your cassock, and smoothing your band:
(For the Dean was so shabby, and look'd like a ninny,
That the captain supposed he was curate to Jinny.)
'Whenever you see a cassock and gown,
A hundred to one but it covers a clown.
Observe how a parson comes into a room;
G—d d—n me, he hobbles as bad as my groom;
A scholard, when just from his college broke loose,
Can hardly tell how to cry bo to a goose;
Your Noveds, and Bluturks, and Omurs, and stuff
By G—, they don't signify this pinch of snuff.
To give a young gentleman right education,
The army's the only good school in the nation:
My schoolmaster call'd me a dunce and a fool,
But at cuffs I was always the cock of the school;
I never could take to my book for the blood o' me,
And the puppy confess'd he expected no good o' me.
He caught me one morning coquetting his wife,
But he maul'd me, I ne'er was so maul'd in my life:
So I took to the road, and, what's very odd,
The first man I robb'd was a parson, by G—.
Now, madam, you'll think it a strange thing to say,
But the sight of a book makes me sick to this day.
'Never since I was born did I hear so much wit,
And, madam, I laugh'd till I thought I should split.
So then you look'd scornful, and snift at the Dean,
As who should say, 'Now, am I skinny and lean?'
But he durst not so much as once open his lips,
And the doctor was plaguily down in the hips.'
Thus merciless Hannah ran on in her talk,
Till she heard the Dean call, 'Will your ladyship walk?'
Her ladyship answers, 'I'm just coming down:'
Then, turning to Hannah, and forcing a frown,
Although it was plain in her heart she was glad,
Cried, 'Hussey, why sure the wench is gone mad!
How could these chimeras get into your brains!—
Come hither and take this old gown for your pains.
But the Dean, if this secret should come to his ears,
Will never have done with his gibes and his jeers:
For your life, not a word of the matter I charge ye:
Give me but a barrack, a fig for the clergy.'
We give the world to understand,
Our thriving Dean has purchased land;
A purchase which will bring him clear
Above his rent four pounds a-year;
Provided to improve the ground,
He will but add two hundred pound;
And from his endless hoarded store,
To build a house, five hundred more.
Sir Arthur, too, shall have his will,
And call the mansion Drapier's-Hill;
That, when a nation, long enslaved,
Forgets by whom it once was saved;
When none the Drapier's praise shall sing,
His signs aloft no longer swing,
His medals and his prints forgotten,
And all his handkerchiefs are rotten,
His famous letters made waste paper,
This hill may keep the name of Drapier;
In spite of envy, flourish still,
And Drapier's vie with Cooper's-Hill.
The Canon Of Aughrim
You ask me of English honour, whether your Nation is just?
Justice for us is a word divine, a name we revere,
Alas, no more than a name, a thing laid by in the dust.
The world shall know it again, but not in this month or year.
Honour? Oh no, you profane it. Justice? What words! What deeds!
Look at the suppliant Earth with its living burden of men.
Here and to Hindostan the nations and kings and creeds
Praise your name as a god's, the god of their children slain.
Which of us doubts your justice? It is not here in the West,
After six hundred years of pitiless legal war,
The sons of our soil are in doubt. They know, who have borne it, best:
The world is famished for justice. You give us a stone, your law.
These are its fruits. Yet, think you, the Ireland where men weep
Once was a jubilant land and dear to the Saints of God.
All you have made it to--day is a hell to conquer and keep,
Yours by the right of the strongest hand, the right of the rod.
History tells the story in signs deep writ on the soil,
Plain and clear in indelible type both for fools and wise.
Here is no need of books, of any expositor's coil.
He who runs may read, and he may weep who has eyes.
This is the plain of Aughrim, renowned in our Irish story
Because of the blood that was shed, the last in arms by our sons,
A fight in battle array, with more of grief than of glory,
Where as a Nation we died to dirge of your English guns.
So the Chroniclers tell us, and turn in silence their page,
Ending the fighting here. I tell you the Chroniclers lie.
Spite of the hush of the dead, the battle from age to age
Flames on still through the land, and still at men's hands men die.
Look! I will show you the footsteps of those who have died at your hand,
Done to death by your law, alas, and not by the sword,
Only their work remaining, a nations's track in the sand,
Ridge and furrow of ancient fields half hid in the sward.
Step by step they retreated. You fenced them out with your Pale,
Back from township and city and cornland fair by the Sea.
Waterford, Youghal and Wexford you took and the Golden Vale.
Tears were their portion assigned: for you their demesnes in fee.
Back to the forest and bog. They shouldered their spades like men,
Fought with the wolf and the rock and the hunger which holds the hill.
Still new homesteads arose where fever lurked in the fen,
Still your law was a sword that hunted and dogged them still.
Magistrate, landlord, bailiff, process--server and spy,
These were the dogs of your pack, which scented the land's increase.
Vainly, like hares, they lay in the forms they had fashioned to die.
Justice hunted them forth by the hand of the Justice of Peace.
Look at it closer, thus, and shading your eyes with your hand,
Far as a bird could reach, to the utmost edge of the plain,
What do you see but grass! And what do you understand?
Cattle that graze on the grass.--Alas, you have looked in vain.
See with my eyes. They are older than yours, but more keen in their love.
See what I saw as a boy in the fields, as a priest by the ways.
See what I saw in anger with angels watching above
Hiding their faces for shame in the day of the terrible days.
Horsemen and footmen and guns. They were here. I have seen them, though some
Say that two hundred years have passed since the battle was stilled.
Ay, and the cry of the wounded, drowned by the beat of the drum.
Did I not hear with my ears how it rose like the wail of a child?
I was a student then, a boy, in the days now forgotten,
When for our school--house the chapel must serve, for our master the priest.
Many a Latin theme have I scrawled on the altar rails rotten,
Thinking no more of the house of God than the house of the least.
Yet we were saints in Aughrim. An Eden the plain then stood,
Covered with gardens round, a happy and holy place,
Rich in the generations of those who had shed their blood,
Bound to their faith by the martyr's bond and the power of grace.
They do us wrong who affirm the Irish people are sad.
Sad we are in the lands afar, but not in our home.
Oh, if you knew the gladness with which our people are glad,
Well might you grieve for your own, the poor in your towns of doom.
Here, God knows it, we hunger. But hunger, a little, is well,
Man with full stomach is proud, his heart is shut to the poor.
Well, too, is persecution, since thus through its sting we rebel,
Clinging yet more to our love and our hate in the homes we adore.
Mine is a mission of peace, to save men's souls in the world,
Not to make converts to Hell, for Ireland's sake even, you say.
Why should I preach of rebellion, and hatred, words impotent hurled
Each like a spear from the lips to strike whom it lists in the fray?
Hark. You shall hear it. This parish was mine. I remember it all
Tilled in squares, like a chess--board, each house and holding apart.
Down where the nettles grow you may mark the line of the wall
Bounding the chapel field where our dead lie heart on heart.
It was not the famine killed them. God knows in that evil year
He pressed us a little hard, but he spared us our lives and joy.
Only the old and weak were taken. The rest stood clear,
Quit of their debt to Death. God struck, but not to destroy.
The wolves of the world were fiercer. The wolves of the world to--day
Go in sheep's clothing all, with names that the world applauds.
Nobody now draws sword or spear with intent to slay.
Death is done with a sigh, and mercy tightens the cords.
It was a woman did it. Her father, the lawyer Blake,
Purchased the land for a song,--some say, or less, for a debt
Owed by the former Lord, a broken spendthrift and rake--
And left it hers when he died with all he could grip or get.
Timothy Blake was not loved. He had too much in his heart
Of the law of tenures, for love. No word men spoke in his praise.
Yet, in his lawyer's way, and deeds and titles apart,
All were allowed to live who paid their rent in his days.
Little Miss Blake was his daughter. A pink--faced school--girl she came
First from Dublin city to live in her father's house,
She and her dogs and horses, unconscious of shame or blame.
Who would have guessed her cruel with manners meek as a mouse?
Nothing in truth was further, or further seemed, from her heart,
Set as it was on pleasure and undisturbed with pain,
So she might ride with the hounds when winter brought round its sport,
Or angle a trout from the river, than war with her fellow men.
She was fastidious, too, with her English education,
And pained at want and squalor, things hard she should understand.
The sight of poverty touched the sense of what was due to her station,
And still in her earlier years she gave with an open hand.
The village was poor to look at, a row of houses, no more,
With just four walls and the thatch in holes where the fowls passed through.
A shame to us all, she averred, and her, so near to her door,
She sent us for slates to the quarry and bade us build them anew.
The Chapel, too, was unsightly. A Protestant she, and yet
Decency needs must be in a house of prayer, she said.
Perched on a rising ground in sight of her windows set,
Its shapeless walls were her grief. She built it a new facade.
What was it changed her heart? God knows. I know not. Some say
She set her fancy on one above her in rank and pride.
Young Lord Clair at the Castle had danced with her. Then one day
Dancing and she were at odds. He had taken an English bride.
This, or it may be less, a foolish word from a friend,
A jest repeated to ears already wounded and sore,
A pang of jealousy roused for the sake of some private end,
Or only the greed of gain, of more begotten of more.
These were the days of plenty, of prices rising, men thought
Still to rise for ever, and all were eager to buy.
Landlord with landlord vied, and tenant with tenant bought.
Riches make selfish souls, and gain has an evil eye.
Oh! the economist fraud, with wealth of nations for text,
How has it robbed the poor of their one poor right to live!
Only the fields grow fat. The men that delve them are vexed,
Scourged with the horse--leech cry of the daughter of hunger, ``give.''
Why should I blame this woman? She practised what all men preach,
Duty to Man a little, but much to herself and land.
She made two blades of grass to grow in the place of each.
She took two guineas for one. What more would your laws demand?
If in her way men died, Economy's rules are stern,
Stern as the floods and droughts, the tempests and fires and seas.
Men but cumber the land whose labour is weak to earn
More than their board and bed; much cattle were worthy these.
So those argued who served her. What wonder if she too grew
Hard in her dealings around, and grudged their lands to the poor?
Cary, her agent, died. The day she engaged the new,
Grief stepped into the village, and Death sat down at the door.
Rent? Who speaks of the rent? We Irish who till the soil,
Are ever ready to pay the tribute your laws impose;
You, the conquering race, have portioned to each his toil;
We, the conquered, bring the ransom due to our woes.
Here is no case of justice, of just debts made or unjust.
Contracts 'twixt freemen are, not here, where but one is free.
No man argues of right, who pays the toll that he must;
Life is dear to all, and rent is the leave to be.
No. None argued of rent. Each paid, or he could not pay,
Much as the seasons willed, in fatness or hungry years.
Blake's old rental was high. She raised it, and none said nay;
Then she raised it again, and made a claim for arrears.
Joyce was her agent now. The rules of Charity bind
Somewhat my tongue in speech, for even truths wrongs endured;
All I will say is this, in Joyce you might see combined,
Three worst things, a lawyer, money--lender, and steward.
His was the triple method, to harass by legal plan,
Ruin by note of hand, and serve with the Crown's decree;
One by one in his snare he trapped the poor to a man,
Left them bare in the street, and turned in their doors the key.
How many Christian hearts have I seen thus flouted with scorn,
Turned adrift on the world in the prime of life and their pride!
How many lips have I heard curse out the day they were born,
Souls absolved in their anger to die on the bare hill--side!
All for Miss Blake and the law, and Joyce's profit on fees!
All for Imperial order, to see the Queen's writ run!
All for the honour of England, mistress of half the seas!
All in the name of justice, the purest under the sun!
Pitiful God of justice! You speak of order and law?
Order! the law of blood which sets the stoat on the track;
Law! the order of death which has glutted the soldier's maw,
When Hell lies drunk in a city the morning after a sack.
Order and law and justice! All noble things, but defiled,
Made to stink in men's nostrils, a carrion refuse of good,
Till God Himself is debased in the work of His hands beguiled,
And good and bad are as one in the mind of the multitude.
All in vain we argue who preach submission to Heaven.
Even to us who know it, such mercy is hard to find.
How then submission to Man by whom no quarter is given?
Vainly and thrice in vain. That nut has too hard a rind.
Then men rise in their anger. Another justice they seek.
Maxims of right prevail traced down from a pagan age;
These take the place of the gospel your laws have robbed from the weak.
Who shall convince them of wrong, or turn the worm from his rage?
Which are the first fruits of freedom? Truth, Courage, Compassion. A man,
Nursed from his childhood in right and guarded close by the law,
Why should he trifle with virtue or doubt to do what he can
Fearless in sight of the world, his life without failure or flaw?
All things come to the strong, power, riches, fair living, repute,
Conscience of worth and of virtue, plain speaking and dealing as plain.
Oh, fair words are easy to speak when the world spreads its pearls at your foot.
Free is humanity's fetter with pleasure gilding the chain.
The Englishman's word, who shall doubt it? The poor Celt, truly, he lies.
Fie on his houghing of cattle, his blunderbuss fired from the hedge!
Witness swears falsely to murder. You throw up your innocent eyes,
Rightly, for murder and lying set honest teeth upon edge.
Yet, mark how circumstance alters. You plant your Englishman down
Strange on the banks of the Nile or Niger to shift with new life.
All things are stronger than he. He fears men's fanatic frown,
Straightway fawns at their knees, his fingers clutching the knife.
He is kindly. Yet, think you he spares them, the servant, the cattle, the child,
The wife he has wedded in falsehood, the Prince who clothed him in gold?
Out on such womanly scruples! He boasts the friends he beguiled,
The poisoned wells on his track, the poor slaves starved on the wold.
This is necessity's law? Ay, truly. Necessity teaches
Sternly the Devil's truth, and he that hath ears may hear.
Only the grace of God interprets the wrong Hell preaches.
Only the patience of perfect love can cast out fear.
Joyce was found on his doorstep, stone dead, one Sunday morning,
Shot by an unknown hand, a charge of slugs in his chest,
The blow had fallen unheard, without either sign or warning,
Save for the notice--to--quit pinned to the dead man's breast.
Oh, that terrible morning of grief to angels and men!
I who knew, none better, the truth that until that day
Sin in its larger sense was hardly within the ken
Of these poor peasant souls, what dared I devise or say?
A deed of terror? Yes. A murder? Yes. A foul crime?
True, but a signal of battle, the first blood spilt in a war.
Who could foresee the sequence of wrong to the end of time?
Who would listen to peace with the red flag waving afar?
War, war, war, was the issue in all men's minds as they stood
Watching the constable force paraded that afternoon,
War of the ancient sort when men lay wait in a wood
Spying the Norman camps low crouched in a waning moon.
Group with group they whispered. Their eyes looked strangely and new,
Lit with the guilty knowledge as thoughts of the dead would pass.
It was a pitiful sight to mark how the anger grew
In souls that had prayed as children that very morning at Mass.
The answer to Joyce's murder was swift. Two strokes of the pen,
Set by Miss Blake's fair hand on parchment white as her face,
Gave what remained of the parish, lands, tenements, chapel, and mill,
All to a Scotch stock farmer to hold on a single lease.
Here stands the story written. The parchment itself could show
Hardly more of their death than this great desolate plain.
The poor potato trenches they dug, how greenly they grow!
Grass, all grass for ever, the graves of our women and men!
And did all die? You ask it. I ask you in turn, ``What is death?''
Death by disease or battle, with gaping wounds for a door:
Through it the prisoned soul runs forth with the prisoned breath,
And what is lost for the one the other gains it and more:
This is the death of the body. Some died thus, fortunate ones,
Here and there a woman taken in labour of birth,
Here and there a man struck down on his cold hearth stones,
Here and there a child, or grey beard bent to the earth.
Heaven in pity took them. Their innocent souls received
All that the Church can give of help on the onward way.
Here as they lived they died, believing all they believed.
Here their bodies rest, clay kneaded with kindred clay.
Every eviction in Ireland brings one such physical loss,
Weak ones left by the road, grief touching the feeble brain.
None of us mourn such dead who hold the creed of the Cross,
Counting as sure their certain hope of eternal gain.
Not for these is my anger. Love grieves, but the cicatrice closes,
Ending in peace of heart. The dead are doubly our own.
But what of that other death for which love strews no roses,
Death of the altered soul, lost, perished, forever gone?
Deep in the gulf of your cities they lie, the poor lorn creatures,
Made in God's image once, His folded innocent sheep,
Now misused and profaned, in speech and form and features
Living like devils and dying like dogs in incestuous sleep.
Seek them where I have found them, in New York, Liverpool, London,
Cursing and cursed of all, a pustulous human growth,
These same Irish children God made for His glory, undone,
Ay, and undoing your law, while black Hell gapes for you both.
There! You asked for the truth. You have it plain from my lips.
Scientists tell us the world has no direction or plan,
Only a struggle of Nature, each beast and nation at grips,
Still the fittest surviving and he the fittest who can.
You are that fittest, the lion to--day in your strength. To--morrow?
Well, who knows what other will come with a wider jaw?
Justly, you say, the nations give place and yield in their sorrow;
Vainly, you say, Christ died in face of the natural law.
Would you have me believe it? I tell you, if it were so,
If I were not what I am, a priest instructed in grace,
Knowing the truth of the Gospel and holding firm what I know,
Where should I be at this hour? Nay, surely not in this place.
Granted your creed of destruction, your right of the strong to devour,
Granted your law of Nature that he shall live who can kill,
Find me the law of submission shall stay the weak in his hour,
His single hour of vengeance, or set a rein on his will.
Where should I be, even I? Not surely here with my tears,
Weeping an old man's grief at wrongs which are past regret,
Healing here a little and helping there with my prayers,
All for the sake of Nature, to fill the teeth she has whet!
Not a priest at Aughrim. My place would be down with those
Poor lost souls of Ireland, who, loving her far away,
Not too wisely but well, deep down in your docks lie close,
Waiting the night of ruin which needs must follow your day.
England's lion is fat. Full--bellied with fortune he sleeps;
Why disturb his slumber with ominous news of ill?
Softly from under his paw the prey he has mangled creeps,
Deals his blow in the back, and all the carcase is still.
Logic and counter--logic. You talk of cowardice rarely!
Dynamite under your ships might make even your cheek white.
Treacherous? Oh, you are jesting. The natural law works fairly,
He that has cunning shall live, and he that has poison bite.
Only I dare not believe it. I hold the justice of Heaven
Larger than all the science, and welled from a purer fount;
God as greater than Nature, His law than the wonders seven,
Darwin's sermon on Man redeemed by that on the Mount.
Thus spoke the Canon of Aughrim, and raised in silence his hands,
Seeming to bless the battle his eyes had seen on the plain.
Order and law, he murmured, a Nation's track in the sands,
Ridge and furrow of grass, the graves of our women and men.
Happy the bard (though few such bards we find)
Who, 'bove controlment, dares to speak his mind;
Dares, unabash'd, in every place appear,
And nothing fears, but what he ought to fear:
Him Fashion cannot tempt, him abject Need
Cannot compel, him Pride cannot mislead
To be the slave of Greatness, to strike sail
When, sweeping onward with her peacock's tail,
Quality in full plumage passes by;
He views her with a fix'd, contemptuous eye,
And mocks the puppet, keeps his own due state,
And is above conversing with the great.
Perish those slaves, those minions of the quill,
Who have conspired to seize that sacred hill
Where the Nine Sisters pour a genuine strain,
And sunk the mountain level with the plain;
Who, with mean, private views, and servile art,
No spark of virtue living in their heart,
Have basely turn'd apostates; have debased
Their dignity of office; have disgraced,
Like Eli's sons, the altars where they stand,
And caused their name to stink through all the land;
Have stoop'd to prostitute their venal pen
For the support of great, but guilty men;
Have made the bard, of their own vile accord,
Inferior to that thing we call a lord.
What is a lord? Doth that plain simple word
Contain some magic spell? As soon as heard,
Like an alarum bell on Night's dull ear,
Doth it strike louder, and more strong appear
Than other words? Whether we will or no,
Through Reason's court doth it unquestion'd go
E'en on the mention, and of course transmit
Notions of something excellent; of wit
Pleasing, though keen; of humour free, though chaste;
Of sterling genius, with sound judgment graced;
Of virtue far above temptation's reach,
And honour, which not malice can impeach?
Believe it not--'twas Nature's first intent,
Before their rank became their punishment,
They should have pass'd for men, nor blush'd to prize
The blessings she bestow'd; she gave them eyes,
And they could see; she gave them ears--they heard;
The instruments of stirring, and they stirr'd;
Like us, they were design'd to eat, to drink,
To talk, and (every now and then) to think;
Till they, by Pride corrupted, for the sake
Of singularity, disclaim'd that make;
Till they, disdaining Nature's vulgar mode,
Flew off, and struck into another road,
More fitting Quality, and to our view
Came forth a species altogether new,
Something we had not known, and could not know,
Like nothing of God's making here below;
Nature exclaim'd with wonder--'Lords are things,
Which, never made by me, were made by kings.'
A lord (nor let the honest and the brave,
The true old noble, with the fool and knave
Here mix his fame; cursed be that thought of mine,
Which with a B---- and E---- should Grafton join),
A lord (nor here let Censure rashly call
My just contempt of some, abuse of all,
And, as of late, when Sodom was my theme,
Slander my purpose, and my Muse blaspheme,
Because she stops not, rapid in her song,
To make exceptions as she goes along,
Though well she hopes to find, another year,
A whole minority exceptions here),
A mere, mere lord, with nothing but the name,
Wealth all his worth, and title all his fame,
Lives on another man, himself a blank,
Thankless he lives, or must some grandsire thank
For smuggled honours, and ill-gotten pelf;
A bard owes all to Nature, and himself.
Gods! how my soul is burnt up with disdain,
When I see men, whom Phoebus in his train
Might view with pride, lackey the heels of those
Whom Genius ranks among her greatest foes!
And what's the cause? Why, these same sons of Scorn,
No thanks to them, were to a title born,
And could not help it; by chance hither sent,
And only deities by accident.
Had Fortune on our getting chanced to shine,
Their birthright honours had been yours or mine,
'Twas a mere random stroke; and should the Throne
Eye thee with favour, proud and lordly grown,
Thou, though a bard, might'st be their fellow yet:
But Felix never can be made a wit.
No, in good faith--that's one of those few things
Which Fate hath placed beyond the reach of kings:
Bards may be lords, but 'tis not in the cards,
Play how we will, to turn lords into bards.
A bard!--a lord!--why, let them, hand in hand,
Go forth as friends, and travel through the land;
Observe which word the people can digest
Most readily, which goes to market best,
Which gets most credit, whether men will trust
A bard, because they think he may be just,
Or on a lord will chose to risk their gains,
Though privilege in that point still remains.
A bard!--a lord!--let Reason take her scales,
And fairly weigh those words, see which prevails,
Which in the balance lightly kicks the beam,
And which, by sinking, we the victor deem.
'Tis done, and Hermes, by command of Jove,
Summons a synod in the sacred grove,
Gods throng with gods to take their chairs on high,
And sit in state, the senate of the sky,
Whilst, in a kind of parliament below,
Men stare at those above, and want to know
What they're transacting: Reason takes her stand
Just in the midst, a balance in her hand,
Which o'er and o'er she tries, and finds it true:
From either side, conducted full in view,
A man comes forth, of figure strange and queer;
We now and then see something like them here.
The first was meagre, flimsy, void of strength,
But Nature kindly had made up in length
What she in breadth denied; erect and proud,
A head and shoulders taller than the crowd,
He deem'd them pigmies all; loose hung his skin
O'er his bare bones; his face so very thin,
So very narrow, and so much beat out,
That physiognomists have made a doubt,
Proportion lost, expression quite forgot,
Whether it could be call'd a face or not;
At end of it, howe'er, unbless'd with beard,
Some twenty fathom length of chin appear'd;
With legs, which we might well conceive that Fate
Meant only to support a spider's weight,
Firmly he strove to tread, and with a stride,
Which show'd at once his weakness and his pride,
Shaking himself to pieces, seem'd to cry,
'Observe, good people, how I shake the sky.'
In his right hand a paper did he hold,
On which, at large, in characters of gold,
Distinct, and plain for those who run to see,
Saint Archibald had wrote L, O, R, D.
This, with an air of scorn, he from afar
Twirl'd into Reason's scales, and on that bar,
Which from his soul he hated, yet admired,
Quick turn'd his back, and, as he came, retired.
The judge to all around his name declared;
Each goddess titter'd, each god laugh'd, Jove stared,
And the whole people cried, with one accord,
'Good Heaven bless us all, is that a Lord!'
Such was the first--the second was a man
Whom Nature built on quite a different plan;
A bear, whom, from the moment he was born,
His dam despised, and left unlick'd in scorn;
A Babel, which, the power of Art outdone,
She could not finish when she had begun;
An utter Chaos, out of which no might,
But that of God, could strike one spark of light.
Broad were his shoulders, and from blade to blade
A H---- might at full length have laid;
Vast were his bones, his muscles twisted strong;
His face was short, but broader than 'twas long;
His features, though by Nature they were large,
Contentment had contrived to overcharge,
And bury meaning, save that we might spy
Sense lowering on the penthouse of his eye;
His arms were two twin oaks; his legs so stout
That they might bear a Mansion-house about;
Nor were they, look but at his body there,
Design'd by Fate a much less weight to bear.
O'er a brown cassock, which had once been black,
Which hung in tatters on his brawny back,
A sight most strange, and awkward to behold,
He threw a covering of blue and gold.
Just at that time of life, when man, by rule,
The fop laid down, takes up the graver fool,
He started up a fop, and, fond of show,
Look'd like another Hercules turn'd beau,
A subject met with only now and then,
Much fitter for the pencil than the pen;
Hogarth would draw him (Envy must allow)
E'en to the life, was Hogarth living now.
With such accoutrements, with such a form,
Much like a porpoise just before a storm,
Onward he roll'd; a laugh prevail'd around;
E'en Jove was seen to simper; at the sound
(Nor was the cause unknown, for from his youth
Himself he studied by the glass of Truth)
He joined their mirth; nor shall the gods condemn,
If, whilst they laugh at him, he laugh'd at them.
Judge Reason view'd him with an eye of grace,
Look'd through his soul, and quite forgot his face,
And, from his hand received, with fair regard
Placed in her other scale the name of Bard.
Then, (for she did as judges ought to do,
She nothing of the case beforehand knew,
Nor wish'd to know; she never stretch'd the laws,
Nor, basely to anticipate a cause,
Compell'd solicitors, no longer free,
To show those briefs she had no right to see)
Then she with equal hand her scales held out,
Nor did the cause one moment hang in doubt;
She held her scales out fair to public view,
The Lord, as sparks fly upwards, upwards flew,
More light than air, deceitful in the weight;
The Bard, preponderating, kept his state;
Reason approved, and with a voice, whose sound
Shook earth, shook heaven, on the clearest ground
Pronouncing for the Bards a full decree,
Cried--'Those must honour them, who honour me;
They from this present day, where'er I reign,
In their own right, precedence shall obtain;
Merit rules here: be it enough that Birth
Intoxicates, and sways the fools of earth.'
Nor think that here, in hatred to a lord,
I've forged a tale, or alter'd a record;
Search when you will, (I am not now in sport)
You'll find it register'd in Reason's court.
Nor think that Envy here hath strung my lyre,
That I depreciate what I most admire,
And look on titles with an eye of scorn,
Because I was not to a title born.
By Him that made me, I am much more proud,
More inly satisfied to have a crowd
Point at me as I pass, and cry--'That's he--
A poor but honest bard, who dares be free
Amidst corruption,' than to have a train
Of flickering levee slaves, to make me vain
Of things I ought to blush for; to run, fly,
And live but in the motion of my eye;
When I am less than man, my faults to adore,
And make me think that I am something more.
Recall past times, bring back the days of old,
When the great noble bore his honours bold,
And in the face of peril, when he dared
Things which his legal bastard, if declared,
Might well discredit; faithful to his trust,
In the extremest points of justice, just,
Well knowing all, and loved by all he knew,
True to his king, and to his country true;
Honest at court, above the baits of gain,
Plain in his dress, and in his manners plain;
Moderate in wealth, generous, but not profuse,
Well worthy riches, for he knew their use;
Possessing much, and yet deserving more,
Deserving those high honours which he wore
With ease to all, and in return gain'd fame
Which all men paid, because he did not claim.
When the grim war was placed in dread array,
Fierce as the lion roaring for his prey,
Or lioness of royal whelps foredone;
In peace, as mild as the departing sun,
A general blessing wheresoe'er he turn'd,
Patron of learning, nor himself unlearn'd;
Ever awake at Pity's tender call,
A father of the poor, a friend to all;
Recall such times, and from the grave bring back
A worth like this, my heart shall bend, or crack,
My stubborn pride give way, my tongue proclaim,
And every Muse conspire to swell his fame,
Till Envy shall to him that praise allow
Which she cannot deny to Temple now.
This justice claims, nor shall the bard forget,
Delighted with the task, to pay that debt,
To pay it like a man, and in his lays,
Sounding such worth, prove his own right to praise.
But let not pride and prejudice misdeem,
And think that empty titles are my theme;
Titles, with me, are vain, and nothing worth;
I reverence virtue, but I laugh at birth.
Give me a lord that's honest, frank, and brave,
I am his friend, but cannot be his slave;
Though none, indeed, but blockheads would pretend
To make a slave, where they may make a friend;
I love his virtues, and will make them known,
Confess his rank, but can't forget my own.
Give me a lord, who, to a title born,
Boasts nothing else, I'll pay him scorn with scorn.
What! shall my pride (and pride is virtue here)
Tamely make way if such a wretch appear?
Shall I uncover'd stand, and bend my knee
To such a shadow of nobility,
A shred, a remnant? he might rot unknown
For any real merit of his own,
And never had come forth to public note
Had he not worn, by chance, his father's coat.
To think a M---- worth my least regards,
Is treason to the majesty of bards.
By Nature form'd (when, for her honour's sake,
She something more than common strove to make,
When, overlooking each minute defect,
And all too eager to be quite correct,
In her full heat and vigour she impress'd
Her stamp most strongly on the favour'd breast)
The bard, (nor think too lightly that I mean
Those little, piddling witlings, who o'erween
Of their small parts, the Murphys of the stage,
The Masons and the Whiteheads of the age,
Who all in raptures their own works rehearse,
And drawl out measured prose, which they call verse)
The real bard, whom native genius fires,
Whom every maid of Castaly inspires,
Let him consider wherefore he was meant,
Let him but answer Nature's great intent,
And fairly weigh himself with other men,
Would ne'er debase the glories of his pen,
Would in full state, like a true monarch, live,
Nor bate one inch of his prerogative.
Methinks I see old Wingate frowning here,
(Wingate may in the season be a peer,
Though now, against his will, of figures sick,
He's forced to diet on arithmetic,
E'en whilst he envies every Jew he meets,
Who cries old clothes to sell about the streets)
Methinks (his mind with future honours big,
His Tyburn bob turn'd to a dress'd bag wig)
I hear him cry--'What doth this jargon mean?
Was ever such a damn'd dull blockhead seen?
Majesty!--Bard!--Prerogative!--DisdainHath got into, and turn'd the fellow's brain:
To Bethlem with him--give him whips and straw--
I'm very sensible he's mad in law.
A saucy groom, who trades in reason, thus
To set himself upon a par with us;
If this _here's_ suffered, and if that _there_ fool,
May, when he pleases, send us all to school,
Why, then our only business is outright
To take our caps, and bid the world good night.
I've kept a bard myself this twenty years,
But nothing of this kind in him appears;
He, like a thorough true-bred spaniel, licks
The hand which cuffs him, and the foot which kicks;
He fetches and he carries, blacks my shoes,
Nor thinks it a discredit to his Muse;
A creature of the right chameleon hue,
He wears my colours, yellow or true blue,
Just as I wear them: 'tis all one to him
Whether I change through conscience, or through whim.
Now this is something like; on such a plan
A bard may find a friend in a great man;
But this proud coxcomb--zounds, I thought that all
Of this queer tribe had been like my old Paul.'
Injurious thought! accursed be the tongue
On which the vile insinuation hung,
The heart where 'twas engender'd; cursed be those,
Those bards, who not themselves alone expose,
But me, but all, and make the very name
By which they're call'd a standing mark of shame.
Talk not of custom--'tis the coward's plea,
Current with fools, but passes not with me;
An old stale trick, which Guilt hath often tried
By numbers to o'erpower the better side.
Why tell me then that from the birth of Rhyme,
No matter when, down to the present time,
As by the original decree of Fate,
Bards have protection sought amongst the great;
Conscious of weakness, have applied to them
As vines to elms, and, twining round their stem,
Flourish'd on high; to gain this wish'd support
E'en Virgil to Maecenas paid his court?
As to the custom, 'tis a point agreed,
But 'twas a foolish diffidence, not need,
From which it rose; had bards but truly known
That strength, which is most properly their own,
Without a lord, unpropp'd they might have stood,
And overtopp'd those giants of the wood.
But why, when present times my care engage,
Must I go back to the Augustan age?
Why, anxious for the living, am I led
Into the mansions of the ancient dead?
Can they find patrons nowhere but at Rome,
And must I seek Maecenas in the tomb?
Name but a Wingate, twenty fools of note
Start up, and from report Maecenas quote;
Under his colours lords are proud to fight,
Forgetting that Maecenas was a knight:
They mention him, as if to use his name
Was, in some measure, to partake his fame,
Though Virgil, was he living, in the street
Might rot for them, or perish in the Fleet.
See how they redden, and the charge disclaim--
Virgil, and in the Fleet!--forbid it, Shame!
Hence, ye vain boasters! to the Fleet repair,
And ask, with blushes ask, if Lloyd is there!
Patrons in days of yore were men of sense,
Were men of taste, and had a fair pretence
To rule in letters--some of them were heard
To read off-hand, and never spell a word;
Some of them, too, to such a monstrous height
Was learning risen, for themselves could write,
And kept their secretaries, as the great
Do many other foolish things, for state.
Our patrons are of quite a different strain,
With neither sense nor taste; against the grain
They patronise for Fashion's sake--no more--
And keep a bard, just as they keep a whore.
Melcombe (on such occasions I am loth
To name the dead) was a rare proof of both.
Some of them would be puzzled e'en to read,
Nor could deserve their clergy by their creed;
Others can write, but such a Pagan hand,
A Willes should always at our elbow stand:
Many, if begg'd, a Chancellor, of right,
Would order into keeping at first sight.
Those who stand fairest to the public view
Take to themselves the praise to others due,
They rob the very spital, and make free
With those, alas! who've least to spare. We see
---- hath not had a word to say,
Since winds and waves bore Singlespeech away.
Patrons, in days of yore, like patrons now,
Expected that the bard should make his bow
At coming in, and every now and then
Hint to the world that they were more than men;
But, like the patrons of the present day,
They never bilk'd the poet of his pay.
Virgil loved rural ease, and, far from harm,
Maecenas fix'd him in a neat, snug farm,
Where he might, free from trouble, pass his days
In his own way, and pay his rent in praise.
Horace loved wine, and, through his friend at court,
Could buy it off the quay in every port:
Horace loved mirth, Maecenas loved it too;
They met, they laugh'd, as Goy and I may do,
Nor in those moments paid the least regard
To which was minister, and which was bard.
Not so our patrons--grave as grave can be,
They know themselves, they keep up dignity;
Bards are a forward race, nor is it fit
That men of fortune rank with men of wit:
Wit, if familiar made, will find her strength--
'Tis best to keep her weak, and at arm's length.
'Tis well enough for bards, if patrons give,
From hand to mouth, the scanty means to live.
Such is their language, and their practice such;
They promise little, and they give not much.
Let the weak bard, with prostituted strain,
Praise that proud Scot whom all good men disdain;
What's his reward? Why, his own fame undone,
He may obtain a patent for the run
Of his lord's kitchen, and have ample time,
With offal fed, to court the cook in rhyme;
Or (if he strives true patriots to disgrace)
May at the second table get a place;
With somewhat greater slaves allow'd to dine,
And play at crambo o'er his gill of wine.
And are there bards, who, on creation's file,
Stand rank'd as men, who breathe in this fair isle
The air of freedom, with so little gall,
So low a spirit, prostrate thus to fall
Before these idols, and without a groan
Bear wrongs might call forth murmurs from a stone?
Better, and much more noble, to abjure
The sight of men, and in some cave, secure
From all the outrages of Pride, to feast
On Nature's salads, and be free at least.
Better, (though that, to say the truth, is worse
Than almost any other modern curse)
Discard all sense, divorce the thankless Muse,
Critics commence, and write in the Reviews;
Write without tremor, Griffiths cannot read;
No fool can fail, where Langhorne can succeed.
But (not to make a brave and honest pride
Try those means first, she must disdain when tried)
There are a thousand ways, a thousand arts,
By which, and fairly, men of real parts
May gain a living, gain what Nature craves;
Let those, who pine for more, live, and be slaves.
Our real wants in a small compass lie,
But lawless appetite, with eager eye,
Kept in a constant fever, more requires,
And we are burnt up with our own desires.
Hence our dependence, hence our slavery springs;
Bards, if contented, are as great as kings.
Ourselves are to ourselves the cause of ill;
We may be independent, if we will.
The man who suits his spirit to his state
Stands on an equal footing with the great;
Moguls themselves are not more rich, and he
Who rules the English nation, not more free.
Chains were not forged more durable and strong
For bards than others, but they've worn them long,
And therefore wear them still; they've quite forgot
What Freedom is, and therefore prize her not.
Could they, though in their sleep, could they but know
The blessings which from Independence flow;
Could they but have a short and transient gleam
Of Liberty, though 'twas but in a dream,
They would no more in bondage bend their knee,
But, once made freemen, would be always free.
The Muse, if she one moment freedom gains,
Can nevermore submit to sing in chains.
Bred in a cage, far from the feather'd throng,
The bird repays his keeper with his song;
But if some playful child sets wide the door,
Abroad he flies, and thinks of home no more,
With love of liberty begins to burn,
And rather starves than to his cage return.
Hail, Independence!--by true reason taught,
How few have known, and prized thee as they ought!
Some give thee up for riot; some, like boys,
Resign thee, in their childish moods, for toys;
Ambition some, some avarice, misleads,
And in both cases Independence bleeds.
Abroad, in quest of thee, how many roam,
Nor know they had thee in their reach at home;
Some, though about their paths, their beds about,
Have never had the sense to find thee out:
Others, who know of what they are possess'd,
Like fearful misers, lock thee in a chest,
Nor have the resolution to produce,
In these bad times, and bring thee forth for use.
Hail, Independence!--though thy name's scarce known,
Though thou, alas! art out of fashion grown,
Though all despise thee, I will not despise,
Nor live one moment longer than I prize
Thy presence, and enjoy: by angry Fate
Bow'd down, and almost crush'd, thou cam'st, though late,
Thou cam'st upon me, like a second birth,
And made me know what life was truly worth.
Hail, Independence!--never may my cot,
Till I forget thee, be by thee forgot:
Thither, oh! thither, oftentimes repair;
Cotes, whom thou lovest too, shall meet thee there.
All thoughts but what arise from joy give o'er,
Peace dwells within, and law shall guard the door.
O'erweening Bard! Law guard thy door! What law?
The law of England. To control and awe
Those saucy hopes, to strike that spirit dumb,
Behold, in state, Administration come!
Why, let her come, in all her terrors too;
I dare to suffer all she dares to do.
I know her malice well, and know her pride,
I know her strength, but will not change my side.
This melting mass of flesh she may control
With iron ribs--she cannot chain my soul.
No--to the last resolved her worst to bear,
I'm still at large, and independent there.
Where is this minister? where is the band
Of ready slaves, who at his elbow stand
To hear, and to perform his wicked will?
Why, for the first time, are they slow to ill?
When some grand act 'gainst law is to be done,
Doth ---- sleep; doth blood-hound ---- run
To L----, and worry those small deer,
When he might do more precious mischief here?
Doth Webb turn tail? doth he refuse to draw
Illegal warrants, and to call them law?
Doth ----, at Guildford kick'd, from Guildford run,
With that cold lump of unbaked dough, his son,
And, his more honest rival Ketch to cheat,
Purchase a burial-place where three ways meet?
Believe it not; ---- is ---- still,
And never sleeps, when he should wake to ill:
---- doth lesser mischiefs by the by,
The great ones till the term in _petto_ lie:
---- lives, and, to the strictest justice true,
Scorns to defraud the hangman of his due.
O my poor Country!--weak, and overpower'd
By thine own sons--ate to the bone--devour'd
By vipers, which, in thine own entrails bred,
Prey on thy life, and with thy blood are fed,
With unavailing grief thy wrongs I see,
And, for myself not feeling, feel for thee.
I grieve, but can't despair--for, lo! at hand
Freedom presents a choice, but faithful band
Of loyal patriots; men who greatly dare
In such a noble cause; men fit to bear
The weight of empires; Fortune, Rank, and Sense,
Virtue and Knowledge, leagued with Eloquence,
March in their ranks; Freedom from file to file
Darts her delighted eye, and with a smile
Approves her honest sons, whilst down her cheek,
As 'twere by stealth, (her heart too full to speak)
One tear in silence creeps, one honest tear,
And seems to say, Why is not Granby here?'
O ye brave few, in whom we still may find
A love of virtue, freedom, and mankind!
Go forth--in majesty of woe array'd,
See at your feet your Country kneels for aid,
And, (many of her children traitors grown)
Kneels to those sons she still can call her own;
Seeming to breathe her last in every breath,
She kneels for freedom, or she begs for death--
Fly, then, each duteous son, each English chief,
And to your drooping parent bring relief.
Go forth--nor let the siren voice of Ease
Tempt ye to sleep, whilst tempests swell the seas;
Go forth--nor let Hypocrisy, whose tongue
With many a fair, false, fatal art is hung,
Like Bethel's fawning prophet, cross your way,
When your great errand brooks not of delay;
Nor let vain Fear, who cries to all she meets,
Trembling and pale, 'A lion in the streets,'
Damp your free spirits; let not threats affright,
Nor bribes corrupt, nor flatteries delight:
Be as one man--concord success ensures--
There's not an English heart but what is yours.
Go forth--and Virtue, ever in your sight,
Shall be your guide by day, your guard by night--
Go forth--the champions of your native land,
And may the battle prosper in your hand--
It may, it must--ye cannot be withstood--
Be your hearts honest, as your cause is good!
Paradise Lost: Book 08
The Angel ended, and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he a while
Thought him still speaking, still stood fixed to hear;
Then, as new waked, thus gratefully replied.
What thanks sufficient, or what recompence
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allayed
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed
This friendly condescension to relate
Things, else by me unsearchable; now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator! Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of Heaven and Earth consisting; and compute
Their magnitudes; this Earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her numbered stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible, (for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal,) merely to officiate light
Round this opacous Earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night; in all her vast survey
Useless besides; reasoning I oft admire,
How Nature wise and frugal could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
Repeated; while the sedentary Earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.
So spake our sire, and by his countenance seemed
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestick from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touched by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferred
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour joined?
With Goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended; for on her, as Queen,
A pomp of winning Graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile thus replied.
To ask or search, I blame thee not; for Heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wonderous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years:
This to attain, whether Heaven move or Earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
From Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scanned by them who ought
Rather admire; or, if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabrick of the Heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter; when they come to model Heaven
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive
To save appearances; how gird the sphere
With centrick and eccentrick scribbled o'er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb:
Already by thy reasoning this I guess,
Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest
That bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less not bright, nor Heaven such journeys run,
Earth sitting still, when she alone receives
The benefit: Consider first, that great
Or bright infers not excellence: the Earth
Though, in comparison of Heaven, so small,
Nor glistering, may of solid good contain
More plenty than the sun that barren shines;
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,
But in the fruitful Earth; there first received,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to Earth are those bright luminaries
Officious; but to thee, Earth's habitant.
And for the Heaven's wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretched out so far;
That Man may know he dwells not in his own;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodged in a small partition; and the rest
Ordained for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his Omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual: Me thou thinkest not slow,
Who since the morning-hour set out from Heaven
Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived
In Eden; distance inexpressible
By numbers that have name. But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the Heavens, to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it moved;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on Earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Placed Heaven from Earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be center to the world; and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wandering course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these
The planet earth, so stedfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Moved contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun's beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray. What if that light,
Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon be as a star,
Enlightening her by day, as she by night
This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants: Her spots thou seest
As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce
Fruits in her softened soil for some to eat
Allotted there; and other suns perhaps,
With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light;
Which two great sexes animate the world,
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in Nature unpossessed
By living soul, desart and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, conveyed so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whether thus these things, or whether not;
But whether the sun, predominant in Heaven,
Rise on the earth; or earth rise on the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin;
Or she from west her silent course advance,
With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears thee soft with the smooth hair along;
Sollicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;
Leave them to God above; him serve, and fear!
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise:
Think only what concerns thee, and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree;
Contented that thus far hath been revealed
Not of Earth only, but of highest Heaven.
To whom thus Adam, cleared of doubt, replied.
How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of Heaven, Angel serene!
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way; nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us; unless we ourselves
Seek them with wandering thoughts, and notions vain.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;
Till warned, or by experience taught, she learn,
That, not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle; but, to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom: What is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence:
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful; whence, haply, mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour, deigned.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance: now, hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard;
And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise;
Inviting thee to hear while I relate;
Fond! were it not in hope of thy reply:
For, while I sit with thee, I seem in Heaven;
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.
To whom thus Raphael answered heavenly meek.
Nor are thy lips ungraceful, Sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly his gifts hath also poured
Inward and outward both, his image fair:
Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace
Attends thee; and each word, each motion, forms;
Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on Earth
Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire
Gladly into the ways of God with Man:
For God, we see, hath honoured thee, and set
On Man his equal love: Say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befel,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion toward the gates of Hell;
Squared in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work;
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mixed.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt;
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as Sovran King; and to inure
Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut,
The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong;
But long ere our approaching heard within
Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we returned up to the coasts of light
Ere sabbath-evening: so we had in charge.
But thy relation now; for I attend,
Pleased with thy words no less than thou with mine.
So spake the Godlike Power, and thus our Sire.
For Man to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Induced me. As new waked from soundest sleep,
Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,
In balmy sweat; which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward Heaven my wondering eyes I turned,
And gazed a while the ample sky; till, raised
By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung,
As thitherward endeavouring, and upright
Stood on my feet: about me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these,
Creatures that lived and moved, and walked, or flew;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled;
With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflowed.
Myself I then perused, and limb by limb
Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigour led:
But who I was, or where, or from what cause,
Knew not; to speak I tried, and forthwith spake;
My tongue obeyed, and readily could name
Whate'er I saw. Thou Sun, said I, fair light,
And thou enlightened Earth, so fresh and gay,
Ye Hills, and Dales, ye Rivers, Woods, and Plains,
And ye that live and move, fair Creatures, tell,
Tell, if ye saw, how I came thus, how here?--
Not of myself;--by some great Maker then,
In goodness and in power pre-eminent:
Tell me, how may I know him, how adore,
From whom I have that thus I move and live,
And feel that I am happier than I know.--
While thus I called, and strayed I knew not whither,
From where I first drew air, and first beheld
This happy light; when, answer none returned,
On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers,
Pensive I sat me down: There gentle sleep
First found me, and with soft oppression seised
My droused sense, untroubled, though I thought
I then was passing to my former state
Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve:
When suddenly stood at my head a dream,
Whose inward apparition gently moved
My fancy to believe I yet had being,
And lived: One came, methought, of shape divine,
And said, 'Thy mansion wants thee, Adam; rise,
'First Man, of men innumerable ordained
'First Father! called by thee, I come thy guide
'To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepared.'
So saying, by the hand he took me raised,
And over fields and waters, as in air
Smooth-sliding without step, last led me up
A woody mountain; whose high top was plain,
A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees
Planted, with walks, and bowers; that what I saw
Of Earth before scarce pleasant seemed. Each tree,
Loaden with fairest fruit that hung to the eye
Tempting, stirred in me sudden appetite
To pluck and eat; whereat I waked, and found
Before mine eyes all real, as the dream
Had lively shadowed: Here had new begun
My wandering, had not he, who was my guide
Up hither, from among the trees appeared,
Presence Divine. Rejoicing, but with awe,
In adoration at his feet I fell
Submiss: He reared me, and 'Whom thou soughtest I am,'
Said mildly, 'Author of all this thou seest
'Above, or round about thee, or beneath.
'This Paradise I give thee, count it thine
'To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat:
'Of every tree that in the garden grows
'Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth:
'But of the tree whose operation brings
'Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set
'The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith,
'Amid the garden by the tree of life,
'Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
'And shun the bitter consequence: for know,
'The day thou eatest thereof, my sole command
'Transgressed, inevitably thou shalt die,
'From that day mortal; and this happy state
'Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world
'Of woe and sorrow.' Sternly he pronounced
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Returned, and gracious purpose thus renewed.
'Not only these fair bounds, but all the Earth
'To thee and to thy race I give; as lords
'Possess it, and all things that therein live,
'Or live in sea, or air; beast, fish, and fowl.
'In sign whereof, each bird and beast behold
'After their kinds; I bring them to receive
'From thee their names, and pay thee fealty
'With low subjection; understand the same
'Of fish within their watery residence,
'Not hither summoned, since they cannot change
'Their element, to draw the thinner air.'
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment; each bird stooped on his wing.
I named them, as they passed, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endued
My sudden apprehension: But in these
I found not what methought I wanted still;
And to the heavenly Vision thus presumed.
O, by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpassest far my naming; how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man? for whose well being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
Thou hast provided all things: But with me
I see not who partakes. In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or, all enjoying, what contentment find?
Thus I presumptuous; and the Vision bright,
As with a smile more brightened, thus replied.
What callest thou solitude? Is not the Earth
With various living creatures, and the air
Replenished, and all these at thy command
To come and play before thee? Knowest thou not
Their language and their ways? They also know,
And reason not contemptibly: With these
Find pastime, and bear rule; thy realm is large.
So spake the Universal Lord, and seemed
So ordering: I, with leave of speech implored,
And humble deprecation, thus replied.
Let not my words offend thee, Heavenly Power;
My Maker, be propitious while I speak.
Hast thou not made me here thy substitute,
And these inferiour far beneath me set?
Among unequals what society
Can sort, what harmony, or true delight?
Which must be mutual, in proportion due
Given and received; but, in disparity
The one intense, the other still remiss,
Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove
Tedious alike: Of fellowship I speak
Such as I seek, fit to participate
All rational delight: wherein the brute
Cannot be human consort: They rejoice
Each with their kind, lion with lioness;
So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined:
Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape;
Worse then can man with beast, and least of all.
Whereto the Almighty answered, not displeased.
A nice and subtle happiness, I see,
Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice
Of thy associates, Adam! and wilt taste
No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary.
What thinkest thou then of me, and this my state?
Seem I to thee sufficiently possessed
Of happiness, or not? who am alone
From all eternity; for none I know
Second to me or like, equal much less.
How have I then with whom to hold converse,
Save with the creatures which I made, and those
To me inferiour, infinite descents
Beneath what other creatures are to thee?
He ceased; I lowly answered. To attain
The highth and depth of thy eternal ways
All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things!
Thou in thyself art perfect, and in thee
Is no deficience found: Not so is Man,
But in degree; the cause of his desire
By conversation with his like to help
Or solace his defects. No need that thou
Shouldst propagate, already Infinite;
And through all numbers absolute, though One:
But Man by number is to manifest
His single imperfection, and beget
Like of his like, his image multiplied,
In unity defective; which requires
Collateral love, and dearest amity.
Thou in thy secresy although alone,
Best with thyself accompanied, seekest not
Social communication; yet, so pleased,
Canst raise thy creature to what highth thou wilt
Of union or communion, deified:
I, by conversing, cannot these erect
From prone; nor in their ways complacence find.
Thus I emboldened spake, and freedom used
Permissive, and acceptance found; which gained
This answer from the gracious Voice Divine.
Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleased;
And find thee knowing, not of beasts alone,
Which thou hast rightly named, but of thyself;
Expressing well the spirit within thee free,
My image, not imparted to the brute;
Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee
Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike;
And be so minded still: I, ere thou spakest,
Knew it not good for Man to be alone;
And no such company as then thou sawest
Intended thee; for trial only brought,
To see how thou couldest judge of fit and meet:
What next I bring shall please thee, be assured,
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.
He ended, or I heard no more; for now
My earthly by his heavenly overpowered,
Which it had long stood under, strained to the highth
In that celestial colloquy sublime,
As with an object that excels the sense
Dazzled and spent, sunk down; and sought repair
Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, called
By Nature as in aid, and closed mine eyes.
Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell
Of fancy, my internal sight; by which,
Abstract as in a trance, methought I saw,
Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape
Still glorious before whom awake I stood:
Who stooping opened my left side, and took
From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,
And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed:
The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands;
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Man-like, but different sex; so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained
And in her looks; which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked
To find her, or for ever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure:
When out of hope, behold her, not far off,
Such as I saw her in my dream, adorned
With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow
To make her amiable: On she came,
Led by her heavenly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by his voice; nor uninformed
Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud.
This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair! but fairest this
Of all thy gifts! nor enviest. I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me: Woman is her name;of Man
Extracted: for this cause he shall forego
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.
She heard me thus; and though divinely brought,
Yet innocence, and virgin modesty,
Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth,
That would be wooed, and not unsought be won,
Not obvious, not obtrusive, but, retired,
The more desirable; or, to say all,
Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,
Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned:
I followed her; she what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn: All Heaven,
And happy constellations, on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the Earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening-star
On his hill top, to light the bridal lamp.
Thus have I told thee all my state, and brought
My story to the sum of earthly bliss,
Which I enjoy; and must confess to find
In all things else delight indeed, but such
As, used or not, works in the mind no change,
Nor vehement desire; these delicacies
I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and flowers,
Walks, and the melody of birds: but here
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt,
Commotion strange! in all enjoyments else
Superiour and unmoved; here only weak
Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance.
Or Nature failed in me, and left some part
Not proof enough such object to sustain;
Or, from my side subducting, took perhaps
More than enough; at least on her bestowed
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.
For well I understand in the prime end
Of Nature her the inferiour, in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel;
In outward also her resembling less
His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O'er other creatures: Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best:
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; Wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanced, and like Folly shows;
Authority and Reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and Nobleness their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelick placed.
To whom the Angel with contracted brow.
Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part;
Do thou but thine; and be not diffident
Of Wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou needest her nigh,
By attributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceivest.
For, what admirest thou, what transports thee so,
An outside? fair, no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;
Not thy subjection: Weigh with her thyself;
Then value: Oft-times nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed; of that skill the more thou knowest,
The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows:
Made so adorn for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou mayest love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.
But if the sense of touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other; think the same vouchsafed
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulged, if aught
Therein enjoyed were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her society thou findest
Attractive, human, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not,
Wherein true love consists not: Love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale
By which to heavenly love thou mayest ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause,
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.
To whom thus, half abashed, Adam replied.
Neither her outside formed so fair, nor aught
In procreation common to all kinds,
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem,)
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions mixed with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair
More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.
Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foiled,
Who meet with various objects, from the sense
Variously representing; yet, still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love, thou blamest me not; for Love, thou sayest,
Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heavenly Spirits, and how their love
Express they? by looks only? or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?
To whom the Angel, with a smile that glowed
Celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue,
Answered. Let it suffice thee that thou knowest
Us happy, and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoyest,
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence; and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars;
Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring, nor restrained conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more; the parting sun
Beyond the Earth's green Cape and verdant Isles
Hesperian sets, my signal to depart.
Be strong, live happy, and love! But, first of all,
Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgement to do aught, which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,
The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the Blest: Stand fast;to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel.
So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Followed with benediction. Since to part,
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal Messenger,
Sent from whose sovran goodness I adore!
Gentle to me and affable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be honoured ever
With grateful memory: Thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return!
So parted they; the Angel up to Heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.
So, they ring bell, give orders, pay, depart
Amid profuse acknowledgment from host
Who well knows what may bring the younger back.
They light cigar, descend in twenty steps
The 'calm acclivity,' inhale—beyond
Tobacco's balm—the better smoke of turf
And wood fire,—cottages at cookery
I' the morning,—reach the main road straitening on
'Twixt wood and wood, two black walls full of night
Slow to disperse, though mists thin fast before
The advancing foot, and leave the flint-dust fine
Each speck with its fire-sparkle. Presently
The road's end with the sky's beginning mix
In one magnificence of glare, due East,
So high the sun rides,—May's the merry month.
They slacken pace: the younger stops abrupt.
Discards cigar, looks his friend full in face.
"All right; the station comes in view at end;
Five minutes from the beech-clump, there you are!
I say: let's halt, let's borrow yonder gate
Of its two magpies, sit and have a talk!
Do let a fellow speak a moment! More
I think about and less I like the thing—
No, you must let me! Now, be good for once!
Ten thousand pounds be done for, dead and damned!
We played for love, not hate: yes, hate! I hate
Thinking you beg or borrow or reduce
To strychnine some poor devil of a lord
Licked at Unlimited Loo. I had the cash
To lose—you knew that!—lose and none the less
Whistle to-morrow: it's not every chap
Affords to take his punishment so well!
Now, don't be angry with a friend whose fault
Is that he thinks—upon my soul, I do—
Your head the best head going. Oh, one sees
Names in the newspaper—great this, great that,
Gladstone, Carlyle, the Laureate:—much I care!
Others have their opinion, I keep mine:
Which means—by right you ought to have the things
I want a head for. Here's a pretty place,
My cousin's place, and presently my place.
Not yours! I'll tell you how it strikes a man.
My cousin's fond of music and of course
Plays the piano (it won't be for long!)
A brand-new bore she calls a 'semi-grand,'
Rosewood and pearl, that blocks the drawing-room.
And cost no end of money. Twice a week
Down comes Herr Somebody and seats himself.
Sets to work teaching—with his teeth on edge—
I've watched the rascal. 'Does he play first-rate?'
I ask: 'I rather think so,' answers she—
'He's What's-his-Name!'—'Why give you lessons then?'—
'I pay three guineas and the train beside.'—
'This instrument, has he one such at home?'—
'He? Has to practise on a table-top,
When he can't hire the proper thing.'—'I see!
You've the piano, he the skill, and God
The distribution of such gifts.' So here:
After your teaching, I shall sit and strum
Polkas on this piano of a Place
You'd make resound with Rule Britannia!"
I don't say but this pretty cousin's place,
Appendaged with your million, tempts my hand
As key-board I might touch with some effect."
"Then, why not have obtained the like? House, land,
Money, are things obtainable, you see.
By clever head-work: ask my father else!
You, who teach me, why not have learned, yourself?
Played like Herr Somebody with power to thump
And flourish and the rest, not bend demure
Pointing out blunders—' Sharp, not natural!
Permit me—on the black key use the thumb!'
There's some fatality, I'm sure! You say
'Marry the cousin, that's your proper move!'
And I do use the thumb and hit the sharp:
You should have listened to your own head's hint.
As I to you! The puzzle's past my power.
How you have managed—with such stuff, such means—
Not to be rich nor great nor happy man:
Of which three good things where's a sign at all?
Just look at Dizzy! Come,—what tripped your heels?
Instruct a goose that boasts wings and can't fly!
I wager I have guessed it!—never found
The old solution of the riddle fail!
'Who was the Woman?' I don't ask, but—' Where
I' the path of life stood she who tripped you?' "
You truly are! I own to fifty years.
Why don't I interpose and cut out—you?
Compete with five-and-twenty? Age, my boy!"
"Old man, no nonsense!—even to a boy
That's ripe at least for rationality
Rapped into him, as may be mine was, once!
I've had my small adventure lesson me
Over the knuckles!—likely, I forget
The sort of figure youth cuts now and then,
Competing with old shoulders but young head
Despite the fifty grizzling years!"
Then that means—just the bullet in the blade
Which brought Dalmatia on the brain,—that, too.
Came of a fatal creature? Can't pretend 100
Now for the first time to surmise as much!
Make a clean breast! Recount! a secret's safe
'Twixt you, me and the gate-post!"
Neither, to never have surmised your wish!
It's no use,—case of unextracted ball—
Winces at finger-touching. Let things be!"
"Ah, if you love your love still! I hate mine."
"I can't hate."
"I won't teach you; and won't tell
You, therefore, what you please to ask of me:
As if I, also, may not have my ache!"
"My sort of ache? No, no! and yet—perhaps!
All comes of thinking you superior still.
But live and learn! I say! Time 's up! Good jump!
You old, indeed! I fancy there's a cut
Across the wood, a grass path: shall we try?
It's venturesome, however!"
"Stop, my boy!
Don't think I'm stingy of experience! Life
—It's like this wood we leave. Should you and I
Go wandering about there, though the gaps
We went in and came out by were opposed
As the two poles, still, somehow, all the same,
By nightfall we should probably have chanced
On much the same main points of interest—
Both of us measured girth of mossy trunk,
Stript ivy from its strangled prey, clapped hands
At squirrel, sent a fir-cone after crow,
And so forth,—never mind what time betwixt.
So in our lives; allow I entered mine
Another way than you: 't is possible
I ended just by knocking head against
That plaguy low-hung branch yourself began
By getting bump from; as at last you too
May stumble o'er that stump which first of all
Bade me walk circumspectly. Head and feet
Are vulnerable both, and I, foot-sure,
Forgot that ducking down saves brow from bruise.
I, early old, played young man four years since
And failed confoundedly: so, hate alike
Failure and who caused failure,—curse her cant!"
"Oh, I see! You, though somewhat past the prime,
Were taken with a rosebud beauty! Ah—
But how should chits distinguish? She admired
Your marvel of a mind, I'll undertake!
But as to body ... nay, I mean ... that is,
When years have told on face and figure...."
Mister Sufficiently-Instructed! Such
No doubt was bound to be the consequence
To suit your self-complacency: she liked
My head enough, but loved some heart beneath
Some head with plenty of brown hair a-top
After my young friend's fashion! What becomes
Of that fine speech you made a minute since
About the man of middle age you found
A formidable peer at twenty-one?
So much for your mock-modesty! and yet
I back your first against this second sprout
Of observation, insight, what you please.
My middle age, Sir, had too much success!
It's odd: my case occurred four years ago—
I finished just while you commenced that turn
I' the wood of life that takes us to the wealth
Of honeysuckle, heaped for who can reach.
Now, I don't boast: it's bad style, and beside,
The feat proves easier than it looks: I plucked
Full many a flower unnamed in that bouquet
(Mostly of peonies and poppies, though!)
Good nature sticks into my button-hole.
Therefore it was with nose in want of snuff
Rather than Ess or Psidium, that I chanced
On what—so far from 'rosebud beauty' .... Well—
She's dead: at least you never heard her name;
She was no courtly creature, had nor birth
Nor breeding—mere fine-lady-breeding; but
Oh, such a wonder of a woman! Grand
As a Greek statue! Stick fine clothes on that,
Style that a Duchess or a Queen,—you know,
Artists would make an outcry: all the more,
That she had just a statue's sleepy grace
Which broods o'er its own beauty. Nay, her fault
(Don't laugh!) was just perfection: for suppose
Only the little flaw, and I had peeped
Inside it, learned what soul inside was like.
At Rome some tourist raised the grit beneath
A Venus' forehead with his whittling-knife—
I wish,—now,—I had played that brute, brought blood
To surface from the depths I fancied chalk!
As it was, her mere face surprised so much
That I stopped short there, struck on heap, as stares
The cockney stranger at a certain bust
With drooped eyes,—she's the thing I have in mind,—
Down at my Brother's. All sufficient prize—
Such outside! Now,—confound me for a prig!—
Who cares? I'll make a clean breast once for all!
Beside, you've heard the gossip. My life long
I've been a woman-liker,—liking means
Loving and so on. There's a lengthy list
By this time I shall have to answer for—
So say the good folk: and they don't guess half—
For the worst is, let once collecting-itch
Possess you, and, with perspicacity, 200
Keeps growing such a greediness that theft
Follows at no long distance,—there's the fact!
I knew that on my Leporello-list
Might figure this, that, and the other name
Of feminine desirability,
But if I happened to desire inscribe,
Along with these, the only Beautiful—
Here was the unique specimen to snatch
Or now or never. 'Beautiful' I said—
'Beautiful' say in cold blood,—boiling then
To tune of 'Haste, secure whate'er the cost
This rarity, die in the act, be damned,
So you complete collection, crown your list!'
It seemed as though the whole world, once aroused
By the first notice of such wonder's birth,
Would break bounds to contest my prize with me
The first discoverer, should she but emerge
From that safe den of darkness where she dozed
Till I stole in, that country-parsonage
Where, country-parson's daughter, motherless,
Brotherless, sisterless, for eighteen years
She had been vegetating lily-like.
Her father was my brother's tutor, got
The living that way: him I chanced to see—
Her I saw—her the world would grow one eye
To see, I felt no sort of doubt at all!
'Secure her!' cried the devil: 'afterward
Arrange for the disposal of the prize!'
The devil's doing! yet I seem to think—
Now, when all's done,—think with 'a head reposed'
In French phrase—hope I think I meant to do
All requisite for such a rarity
When I should be at leisure, have due time
To learn requirement. But in evil day—
Bless me, at week's end, long as any year,
The father must begin 'Young Somebody,
Much recommended—for I break a rule—
Comes here to read, next Long Vacation.' 'Young!'
That did it. Had the epithet been 'rich,'
' Noble,' ' a genius,' even ' handsome,'—but
—'Young! ' "
"I say—just a word! I want to know—
You are not married?"
"Nor ever were?"
"Oh, then—never mind! Go on!
I had a reason for the question."
You could not be the young man?"
Certainly—if you never married her!"
"That I did not: and there's the curse, you'll see!
Nay, all of it's one curse, my life's mistake
Which, nourished with manure that's warranted
To make the plant bear wisdom, blew out full
In folly beyond field-flower-foolishness!
The lies I used to tell my womankind,
Knowing they disbelieved me all the time
Though they required my lies, their decent due,
This woman—not so much believed, I'll say,
As just anticipated from my mouth:
Since being true, devoted, constant—she
Found constancy, devotion, truth, the plain
And easy commonplace of character.
No mock-heroics but seemed natural
To her who underneath the face, I knew
Was fairness' self, possessed a heart, I judged
Must correspond in folly just as far
Beyond the common,—and a mind to match,—
Not made to puzzle conjurers like me
Who, therein, proved the fool who fronts you, Sir,
And begs leave to cut short the ugly rest!
'Trust me!' I said: she trusted. 'Marry me!'
Or rather, 'We are married: when, the rite?'
That brought on the collector's next-day qualm
At counting acquisition's cost. There lay
My marvel, there my purse more light by much
Because of its late lie-expenditure:
Ill-judged such moment to make fresh demand—
To cage as well as catch my rarity!
So, I began explaining. At first word
Outbroke the horror. 'Then, my truths were lies!'
I tell you, such an outbreak, such new strange
As supernaturally grand as face
Was fair beyond example—that at once
Either I lost—or, if it please you, found
My senses,—stammered somehow— 'Jest! and now,
Earnest! Forget all else but—heart has loved,
Does love, shall love you ever! take the hand!'
Not she! no marriage for superb disdain,
"Yes, it's different,—
It's only like in being four years since.
I see now!"
"Well, what did disdain do next,
"That's past me: did not marry you!—
That's the main thing I care for, I suppose.
Turned nun, or what?"
"Why, married in a month
Some parson, some smug crop-haired smooth-chinned sort
Of curate-creature, I suspect,—dived down,
Down, deeper still, and came up somewhere else—
I don't know where—I've not tried much to know,—
In short, she's happy: what the clodpoles call
'Countrified' with a vengeance! leads the life
Respectable and all that drives you mad:
Still—where, I don't know, and that's best for both." 300
"Well, that she did not like you, I conceive.
But why should you hate her, I want to know?"
"My good young friend,—because or her or else
Malicious Providence I have to hate.
For, what I tell you proved the turning-point
Of my whole life and fortune toward success
Or failure. If I drown, I lay the fault
Much on myself who caught at reed not rope,
But more on reed which, with a packthread's pith,
Had buoyed me till the minute's cramp could thaw
And I strike out afresh and so be saved.
It's easy saying—I had sunk before,
Disqualified myself by idle days
And busy nights, long since, from holding hard
On cable, even, had fate cast me such!
You boys don't know how many times men fail
Perforce o' the little to succeed i' the large,
Husband their strength, let slip the petty prey,
Collect the whole power for the final pounce.
My fault was the mistaking man's main prize
For intermediate boy's diversion; clap
Of boyish hands here frightened game away
Which, once gone, goes forever. Oh, at first
I took the anger easily, nor much
Minded the anguish—having learned that storms
Subside, and teapot-tempests are akin.
Time would arrange things, mend whate'er might be
Somewhat amiss; precipitation, eh?
Reason and rhyme prompt—reparation! Tiffs
End properly in marriage and a dance!
I said 'We'll marry, make the past a blank'—
And never was such damnable mistake!
That interview, that laying bare my soul,
As it was first, so was it last chance—one
And only. Did I write? Back letter came
Unopened as it went. Inexorable
She fled, I don't know where, consoled herself
With the smug curate-creature: chop and change!
Sure am I, when she told her shaveling all
His Magdalen's adventure, tears were shed,
Forgiveness evangelically shown,
'Loose hair and lifted eye,'—as some one says.
And now, he's worshipped for his pains, the sneak!"
"Well, but your turning-point of life,—what's here
To hinder you contesting Finsbury
With Orton, next election? I don't see...."
"Not you! But I see. Slowly, surely, creeps
Day by day o'er me the conviction—here
Was life's prize grasped at, gained, and then let go!
—That with her—may be, for her—I had felt
Ice in me melt, grow steam, drive to effect
Any or all the fancies sluggish here
I' the head that needs the hand she would not take
And I shall never lift now. Lo, your wood—
Its turnings which I likened life to! Well,—
There she stands, ending every avenue,
Her visionary presence on each goal
I might have gained had we kept side by side!
Still string nerve and strike foot? Her frown forbids:
The steam congeals once more: I'm old again!
Therefore I hate myself—but how much worse
Do not I hate who would not understand,
Let me repair things—no, but sent a-slide
My folly falteringly, stumblingly
Down, down and deeper down until I drop
Upon—the need of your ten thousand pounds
And consequently loss of mine! I lose
Character, cash, nay, common-sense itself
Recounting such a lengthy cock-and-bull
Adventure—lose my temper in the act...."
"And lose beside,—if I may supplement
The list of losses,—train and ten-o'clock!
Hark, pant and puff, there travels the swart sign!
So much the better! You're my captive now!
I'm glad you trust a fellow: friends grow thick
This way—that's twice said; we were thickish, though,
Even last night, and, ere night comes again,
I prophesy good luck to both of us!
For see now!—back to 'balmy eminence'
Or 'calm acclivity,' or what's the word!
Bestow you there an hour, concoct at ease
A sonnet for the Album, while I put
Bold face on, best foot forward, make for house,
March in to aunt and niece, and tell the truth—
(Even white-lying goes against my taste
After your little story). Oh, the niece
Is rationality itself! The aunt—
If she's amenable to reason too—
Why, you stooped short to pay her due respect,
And let the Duke wait (I'll work well the Duke).
If she grows gracious, I return for you;
If thunder's in the air, why—bear your doom,
Dine on rump-steaks and port, and shake the dust
Of aunty from your shoes as off you go
By evening-train, nor give the thing a thought
How you shall pay me—that's as sure as fate,
Old fellow! Off with you, face left about!
Yonder's the path I have to pad. You see,
I'm in good spirits, God knows why! Perhaps
Because the woman did not marry you 400
—Who look so hard at me,—and have the right,
One must be fair and own."
The two stand still
Under an oak.
"Look here!" resumes the youth.
"I never quite knew how I came to like
You—so much—whom I ought not court at all;
Nor how you had a leaning just to me
Who am assuredly not worth your pains.
For there must needs be plenty such as you
Somewhere about,—although I can't say where,—
Able and willing to teach all you know;
While—how can you have missed a score like me
With money and no wit, precisely each
A pupil for your purpose, were it—ease
Fool's poke of tutor's honorarium-fee?
And yet, howe'er it came about, I felt
At once my master: you as prompt descried
Your man, I warrant, so was bargain struck.
Now, these same lines of liking, loving, run
Sometimes so close together they converge—
Life's great adventures—you know what I mean—
In people. Do you know, as you advanced,
It got to be uncommonly like fact
We two had fallen in with—liked and loved
Just the same woman in our different ways?
I began life—poor groundling as I prove—
Winged and ambitious to fly high: why not?
There's something in 'Don Quixote' to the point,
My shrewd old father used to quote and praise—
'Am I born man?' asks Sancho: 'being man,
By possibility I may be Pope!'
So, Pope I meant to make myself, by step
And step, whereof the first should be to find
A perfect woman; and I tell you this—
If what I fixed on, in the order due
Of undertakings, as next step, had first
Of all disposed itself to suit my tread,
And I had been, the day I came of age,
Returned at head of poll for Westminster
—Nay, and moreover summoned by the Queen
At week's end, when my maiden-speech bore fruit,
To form and head a Tory ministry—
It would not have seemed stranger, no, nor been
More strange to me, as now I estimate,
Than what did happen—sober truth, no dream.
I saw my wonder of a woman,—laugh,
I'm past that!—in Commemoration-week.
A plenty have I seen since, fair and foul,—
With eyes, too, helped by your sagacious wink;
But one to match that marvel—no least trace,
Least touch of kinship and community!
The end was—I did somehow state the fact,
Did, with no matter what imperfect words,
One way or other give to understand
That woman, soul and body were her slave
Would she but take, but try them—any test
Of will, and some poor test of power beside:
So did the strings within my brain grow tense
And capable of ... hang similitudes!
She answered kindly but beyond appeal.
'No sort of hope for me, who came too late.
She was another's. Love went—mine to her,
Hers just as loyally to some one else.'
Of course! I might expect it! Nature's law—
Given the peerless woman, certainly
Somewhere shall be the peerless man to match!
I acquiesced at once, submitted me
In something of a stupor, went my way.
I fancy there had been some talk before
Of somebody—her father or the like—
To coach me in the holidays,—that's how
I came to get the sight and speech of her,—
But I had sense enough to break off sharp,
Save both of us the pain."
"Quite right there!"
Quite wrong, it happens! Now comes worst of all!
Yes, I did sulk aloof and let alone
The lovers—I disturb the angel-mates?"
"Seraph paired off with cherub!"
"Thank you! While
I never plucked up courage to inquire
Who he was, even,—certain-sure of this,
That nobody I knew of had blue wings
And wore a star-crown as he needs must do,—
Some little lady,—plainish, pock-marked girl,—
Finds out my secret in my woful face,
Comes up to me at the Apollo Ball,
And pityingly pours her wine and oil
This way into the wound: 'Dear f-f-friend,
Why waste affection thus on—must I say,
A somewhat worthless object? Who's her choice—
Irrevocable as deliberate—
Out of the wide world? I shall name no names—
But there's a person in society,
Who, blessed with rank and talent, has grown gray
In idleness and sin of every sort
Except hypocrisy: he's thrice her age,
A by-word for "successes with the sex"
As the French say—and, as we ought to say,
Consummately a liar and a rogue,
Since—show me where's the woman won without
The help of this one lie which she believes—
That—never mind how things have come to pass, 500
And let who loves have loved a thousand times—
All the same he now loves her only, loves
Her ever! if by "won" you just mean "sold,"
That's quite another compact. Well, this scamp,
Continuing descent from bad to worse,
Must leave his fine and fashionable prey
(Who—fathered, brothered, husbanded,—are hedged
About with thorny danger) and apply
His arts to this poor country ignorance
Who sees forthwith in the first rag of man
Her model hero! Why continue waste
On such a woman treasures of a heart
Would yet find solace,—yes, my f-f-friend—
In some congenial—fiddle-diddle-dee?'"
"Pray, is the pleasant gentleman described
Exact the portrait which my 'f-f-friends'
Recognize as so like? 'T is evident
You half surmised the sweet original
Could be no other than myself, just now!
Your stop and start were flattering!"
Caricature's allowed for in a sketch!
The longish nose becomes a foot in length,
The swarthy cheek gets copper-colored,—still,
Prominent beak and dark-hued skin are facts:
And 'parson's daughter' — 'young man coachable' —
'Elderly party' — 'four years since' —were facts
To fasten on, a moment! Marriage, though—
That made the difference, I hope."
I never married; wish I had—and then
Unwish it: people kill their wives, sometimes!
I hate my mistress, but I'm murder-free.
In your case, where's the grievance? You came last,
The earlier bird picked up the worm. Suppose
You, in the glory of your twenty-one,
Had happened to precede myself! 't is odds
But this gigantic juvenility,
This offering of a big arm's bony hand—
I'd rather shake than feel shake me, I know—
Had moved my dainty mistress to admire
An altogether new Ideal—deem
Idolatry less due to life's decline
Productive of experience, powers mature
By dint of usage, the made man—no boy
That's all to make! I was the earlier bird—
And what I found, I let fall: what you missed
Who is the fool that blames you for?"
For nothing, everything! For finding out
She, whom I worshipped, was a worshipper
In turn of... but why stir up settled mud?
She married him—the fifty-years-old rake—
How you have teazed the talk from me! At last
My secret's told you. I inquired no more,
Nay, stopped ears when informants unshut mouth;
Enough that she and he live, deuce take where,
Married and happy, or else miserable—
It's 'Cut-the-pack;' she turned up ace or knave
And I left Oxford, England, dug my hole
Out in Dalmatia, till you drew me thence
Badger-like,— 'Back to London' was the word—
'Do things, a many, there, you fancy hard,
I'll undertake are easy!' —the advice.
I took it, had my twelvemonth's fling with you —
(Little hand holding large hand pretty tight
For all its delicacy—eh, my lord?)
Until when, t'other day, I got a turn
Somehow and gave up tired: and 'Rest!' bade you,
'Marry your cousin, double your estate,
And take your ease by all means!' So, I loll
On this the springy sofa, mine next month—
Or should loll, but that you must needs beat rough
The very down you spread me out so smooth.
I wish this confidence were still to make!
Ten thousand pounds? You owe me twice the sum
For stirring up the black depths! There's repose
Or, at least, silence when misfortune seems
All that one has to bear; but folly—yes,
Folly, it all was! Fool to be so meek,
So humble,—such a coward rather say!
Fool, to adore the adorer of a fool!
Not to have faced him, tried (a useful hint)
My big and bony, here, against the bunch
Of lily-coloured five with signet-ring,
Most like, for little-finger's sole defence—
Much as you flaunt the blazon there! I grind
My teeth, that bite my very heart, to think—
To know I might have made that woman mine
But for the folly of the coward—know—
Or what's the good of my apprenticeship
This twelvemonth to a master in the art?
Mine—had she been mine—just one moment mine
For honour, for dishonour—anyhow,
So that my life, instead of stagnant... Well,
You've poked and proved stagnation is not sleep—
"Hang you for an ungrateful goose!
All this means—I who since I knew you first
Have helped you to conceit yourself this cock
O' the dunghill with all hens to pick and choose—
Ought to have helped you when shell first was chipped
By chick that wanted prompting 'Use the spur!'
While I was elsewhere putting mine to use. 600
As well might I blame you who kept aloof,
Seeing you could not guess I was alive,
Never advised me 'Do as I have done—
Reverence such a jewel as your luck
Has scratched up to enrich unworthiness!'
As your behaviour was, should mine have been,
—Faults which we both, too late, are sorry for—
Opposite ages, each with its mistake:
'If youth but would—if age but could,' you know.
Don't let us quarrel! Come, we're—young and old—
Neither so badly off! Go you your way,
Cut to the Cousin! I'll to Inn, await
The issue of diplomacy with Aunt,
And wait my hour on 'calm acclivity'
In rumination manifold—perhaps
About ten thousand pounds I have to pay!"
Over the sea, past Crete, on the Syrian shore to the southward,
Dwells in the well-tilled lowland a dark-haired AEthiop people,
Skilful with needle and loom, and the arts of the dyer and carver,
Skilful, but feeble of heart; for they know not the lords of Olympus,
Lovers of men; neither broad-browed Zeus, nor Pallas Athene,
Teacher of wisdom to heroes, bestower of might in the battle;
Share not the cunning of Hermes, nor list to the songs of Apollo.
Fearing the stars of the sky, and the roll of the blue salt water,
Fearing all things that have life in the womb of the seas and the livers,
Eating no fish to this day, nor ploughing the main, like the Phoenics,
Manful with black-beaked ships, they abide in a sorrowful region,
Vexed with the earthquake, and flame, and the sea-floods, scourge of
Whelming the dwellings of men, and the toils of the slow-footed oxen,
Drowning the barley and flax, and the hard-earned gold of the harvest,
Up to the hillside vines, and the pastures skirting the woodland,
Inland the floods came yearly; and after the waters a monster,
Bred of the slime, like the worms which are bred from the slime of the Nile-
Shapeless, a terror to see; and by night it swam out to the seaward,
Daily returning to feed with the dawn, and devoured of the fairest,
Cattle, and children, and maids, till the terrified people fled inland.
Fasting in sackcloth and ashes they came, both the king and his people,
Came to the mountain of oaks, to the house of the terrible sea-gods,
Hard by the gulf in the rocks, where of old the world-wide deluge
Sank to the inner abyss; and the lake where the fish of the goddess,
Holy, undying, abide; whom the priests feed daily with dainties.
There to the mystical fish, high-throned in her chamber of cedar,
Burnt they the fat of the flock; till the flame shone far to the seaward.
Three days fasting they prayed; but the fourth day the priests of the
Cunning in spells, cast lots, to discover the crime of the people.
All day long they cast, till the house of the monarch was taken,
Cepheus, king of the land; and the faces of all gathered blackness.
Then once more they cast; and Cassiopoeia was taken,
Deep-bosomed wife of the king, whom oft far-seeing Apollo
Watched well-pleased from the welkin, the fairest of AEthiop women:
Fairest, save only her daughter; for down to the ankle her tresses
Rolled, blue-black as the night, ambrosial, joy to beholders.
Awful and fair she arose, most like in her coming to Here,
Queen before whom the Immortals arise, as she comes on Olympus,
Out of the chamber of gold, which her son Hephaestos has wrought her.
Such in her stature and eyes, and the broad white light of her forehead.
Stately she came from her place, and she spoke in the midst of the people.
'Pure are my hands from blood: most pure this heart in my bosom.
Yet one fault I remember this day; one word have I spoken;
Rashly I spoke on the shore, and I dread lest the sea should have heard it.
Watching my child at her bath, as she plunged in the joy of her girlhood,
Fairer I called her in pride than Atergati, queen of the ocean.
Judge ye if this be my sin, for I know none other.' She ended;
Wrapping her head in her mantle she stood, and the people were silent.
Answered the dark-browed priests, 'No word, once spoken, returneth,
Even if uttered unwitting. Shall gods excuse our rashness?
That which is done, that abides; and the wrath of the sea is against us;
Hers, and the wrath of her brother, the Sun-god, lord of the sheepfolds.
Fairer than her hast thou boasted thy daughter? Ah folly! for hateful,
Hateful are they to the gods, whoso, impious, liken a mortal,
Fair though he be, to their glory; and hateful is that which is likened,
Grieving the eyes of their pride, and abominate, doomed to their anger.
What shall be likened to gods? The unknown, who deep in the darkness
Ever abide, twyformed, many-handed, terrible, shapeless.
Woe to the queen; for the land is defiled, and the people accursed.
Take thou her therefore by night, thou ill-starred Cassiopoeia,
Take her with us in the night, when the moon sinks low to the westward;
Bind her aloft for a victim, a prey for the gorge of the monster,
Far on the sea-girt rock, which is washed by the surges for ever;
So may the goddess accept her, and so may the land make atonement,
Purged by her blood from its sin: so obey thou the doom of the rulers.'
Bitter in soul they went out, Cepheus and Cassiopoeia,
Bitter in soul; and their hearts whirled round, as the leaves in the eddy.
Weak was the queen, and rebelled: but the king, like a shepherd of people,
Willed not the land should waste; so he yielded the life of his daughter.
Deep in the wane of the night, as the moon sank low to the westward,
They by the shade of the cliffs, with the horror of darkness around them,
Stole, as ashamed, to a deed which became not the light of the sunshine,
Slowly, the priests, and the queen, and the virgin bound in the galley,
Slowly they rowed to the rocks: but Cepheus far in the palace
Sate in the midst of the hall, on his throne, like a shepherd of people,
Choking his woe, dry-eyed, while the slaves wailed loudly around him.
They on the sea-girt rock, which is washed by the surges for ever,
Set her in silence, the guiltless, aloft with her face to the eastward.
Under a crag of the stone, where a ledge sloped down to the water;
There they set Andromeden, most beautiful, shaped like a goddess,
Lifting her long white arms wide-spread to the walls of the basalt,
Chaining them, ruthless, with brass; and they called on the might of the
'Mystical fish of the seas, dread Queen whom AEthiops honour,
Whelming the land in thy wrath, unavoidable, sharp as the sting-ray,
Thou, and thy brother the Sun, brain-smiting, lord of the sheepfold,
Scorching the earth all day, and then resting at night in thy bosom,
Take ye this one life for many, appeased by the blood of a maiden,
Fairest, and born of the fairest, a queen, most priceless of victims.'
Thrice they spat as they went by the maid: but her mother delaying
Fondled her child to the last, heart-crushed; and the warmth of her weeping
Fell on the breast of the maid, as her woe broke forth into wailing.
'Daughter! my daughter! forgive me! Oh curse not the murderess! Curse
How have I sinned, but in love? Do the gods grudge glory to mothers?
Loving I bore thee in vain in the fate-cursed bride-bed of Cepheus,
Loving I fed thee and tended, and loving rejoiced in thy beauty,
Blessing thy limbs as I bathed them, and blessing thy locks as I combed them;
Decking thee, ripening to woman, I blest thee: yet blessing I slew thee!
How have I sinned, but in love? Oh swear to me, swear to thy mother,
Never to haunt me with curse, as I go to the grave in my sorrow,
Childless and lone: may the gods never send me another, to slay it!
See, I embrace thy knees-soft knees, where no babe will be fondled-
Swear to me never to curse me, the hapless one, not in the death-pang.'
Weeping she clung to the knees of the maid; and the maid low answered-
'Curse thee! Not in the death-pang!' The heart of the lady was lightened.
Slowly she went by the ledge; and the maid was alone in the darkness.
Watching the pulse of the oars die down, as her own died with them,
Tearless, dumb with amaze she stood, as a storm-stunned nestling
Fallen from bough or from eave lies dumb, which the home-going herdsman
Fancies a stone, till he catches the light of its terrified eyeball.
So through the long long hours the maid stood helpless and hopeless,
Wide-eyed, downward gazing in vain at the black blank darkness.
Feebly at last she began, while wild thoughts bubbled within her-
'Guiltless I am: why thus, then? Are gods more ruthless than mortals?
Have they no mercy for youth? no love for the souls who have loved them?
Even as I loved thee, dread sea, as I played by thy margin,
Blessing thy wave as it cooled me, thy wind as it breathed on my forehead,
Bowing my head to thy tempest, and opening my heart to thy children,
Silvery fish, wreathed shell, and the strange lithe things of the water,
Tenderly casting them back, as they gasped on the beach in the sunshine,
Home to their mother-in vain! for mine sits childless in anguish!
O false sea! false sea! I dreamed what I dreamed of thy goodness;
Dreamed of a smile in thy gleam, of a laugh in the plash of thy ripple:
False and devouring thou art, and the great world dark and despiteful.'
Awed by her own rash words she was still: and her eyes to the seaward
Looked for an answer of wrath: far off, in the heart of the darkness,
Blight white mists rose slowly; beneath them the wandering ocean
Glimmered and glowed to the deepest abyss; and the knees of the maiden
Trembled and sunk in her fear, as afar, like a dawn in the midnight,
Rose from their seaweed chamber the choir of the mystical sea-maids.
Onward toward her they came, and her heart beat loud at their coming,
Watching the bliss of the gods, as they wakened the cliffs with their
Onward they came in their joy, and before them the roll of the surges
Sank, as the breeze sank dead, into smooth green foam-flecked marble,
Awed; and the crags of the cliff, and the pines of the mountain were silent.
Onward they came in their joy, and around them the lamps of the sea-nymphs,
Myriad fiery globes, swam panting and heaving; and rainbows
Crimson and azure and emerald, were broken in star-showers, lighting
Far through the wine-dark depths of the crystal, the gardens of Nereus,
Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean.
Onward they came in their joy, more white than the foam which they
Laughing and singing, and tossing and twining, while eager, the Tritons
Blinded with kisses their eyes, unreproved, and above them in worship
Hovered the terns, and the seagulls swept past them on silvery pinions
Echoing softly their laughter; around them the wantoning dolphins
Sighed as they plunged, full of love; and the great sea-horses which bore
Curved up their crests in their pride to the delicate arms of the maidens,
Pawing the spray into gems, till a fiery rainfall, unharming,
Sparkled and gleamed on the limbs of the nymphs, and the coils of the mermen.
Onward they went in their joy, bathed round with the fiery coolness,
Needing nor sun nor moon, self-lighted, immortal: but others,
Pitiful, floated in silence apart; in their bosoms the sea-boys,
Slain by the wrath of the seas, swept down by the anger of Nereus;
Hapless, whom never again on strand or on quay shall their mothers
Welcome with garlands and vows to the temple, but wearily pining
Gaze over island and bay for the sails of the sunken; they heedless
Sleep in soft bosoms for ever, and dream of the surge and the sea-maids.
Onward they passed in their joy; on their brows neither sorrow nor anger;
Self-sufficing, as gods, never heeding the woe of the maiden.
She would have shrieked for their mercy: but shame made her dumb; and their
Stared on her careless and still, like the eyes in the house of the idols.
Seeing they saw not, and passed, like a dream, on the murmuring ripple.
Stunned by the wonder she gazed, wide-eyed, as the glory departed.
'O fair shapes! far fairer than I! Too fair to be ruthless!
Gladden mine eyes once more with your splendour, unlike to my fancies;
You, then, smiled in the sea-gleam, and laughed in the plash of the ripple.
Awful I deemed you and formless; inhuman, monstrous as idols;
Lo, when ye came, ye were women, more loving and lovelier, only;
Like in all else; and I blest you: why blest ye not me for my worship?
Had you no mercy for me, thus guiltless? Ye pitied the sea-boys:
Why not me, then, more hapless by far? Does your sight and your knowledge
End with the marge of the waves? Is the world which ye dwell in not our
Over the mountain aloft ran a rush and a roll and a roaring;
Downward the breeze came indignant, and leapt with a howl to the water,
Roaring in cranny and crag, till the pillars and clefts of the basalt
Rang like a god-swept lyre, and her brain grew mad with the noises;
Crashing and lapping of waters, and sighing and tossing of weed-beds,
Gurgle and whisper and hiss of the foam, while thundering surges
Boomed in the wave-worn halls, as they champed at the roots of the mountain.
Hour after hour in the darkness the wind rushed fierce to the landward,
Drenching the maiden with spray; she shivering, weary and drooping,
Stood with her heart full of thoughts, till the foam-crests gleamed in the
Leaping and laughing around, and the east grew red with the dawning.
Then on the ridge of the hills rose the broad bright sun in his glory,
Hurling his arrows abroad on the glittering crests of the surges,
Gilding the soft round bosoms of wood, and the downs of the coastland;
Gilding the weeds at her feet, and the foam-laced teeth of the ledges,
Showing the maiden her home through the veil of her locks, as they floated
Glistening, damp with the spray, in a long black cloud to the landward.
High in the far-off glens rose thin blue curls from the homesteads;
Softly the low of the herds, and the pipe of the outgoing herdsman,
Slid to her ear on the water, and melted her heart into weeping.
Shuddering, she tried to forget them; and straining her eyes to the seaward,
Watched for her doom, as she wailed, but in vain, to the terrible Sun-god.
'Dost thou not pity me, Sun, though thy wild dark sister be ruthless;
Dost thou not pity me here, as thou seest me desolate, weary,
Sickened with shame and despair, like a kid torn young from its mother?
What if my beauty insult thee, then blight it: but me-Oh spare me!
Spare me yet, ere he be here, fierce, tearing, unbearable! See me,
See me, how tender and soft, and thus helpless! See how I shudder,
Fancying only my doom. Wilt thou shine thus bright, when it takes me?
Are there no deaths save this, great Sun? No fiery arrow,
Lightning, or deep-mouthed wave? Why thus? What music in shrieking,
Pleasure in warm live limbs torn slowly? And dar'st thou behold them!
Oh, thou hast watched worse deeds! All sights are alike to thy brightness!
What if thou waken the birds to their song, dost thou waken no sorrow;
Waken no sick to their pain; no captive to wrench at his fetters?
Smile on the garden and fold, and on maidens who sing at the milking;
Flash into tapestried chambers, and peep in the eyelids of lovers,
Showing the blissful their bliss-Dost love, then, the place where thou
Lovest thou cities aflame, fierce blows, and the shrieks of the widow?
Lovest thou corpse-strewn fields, as thou lightest the path of the vulture?
Lovest thou these, that thou gazest so gay on my tears, and my mother's,
Laughing alike at the horror of one, and the bliss of another?
What dost thou care, in thy sky, for the joys and the sorrows of mortals?
Colder art thou than the nymphs: in thy broad bright eye is no seeing.
Hadst thou a soul-as much soul as the slaves in the house of my father,
Wouldst thou not save? Poor thralls! they pitied me, clung to me weeping,
Kissing my hands and my feet-What, are gods more ruthless than mortals?
Worse than the souls which they rule? Let me die: they war not with ashes!'
Sudden she ceased, with a shriek: in the spray, like a hovering foam-bow,
Hung, more fair than the foam-bow, a boy in the bloom of his manhood,
Golden-haired, ivory-limbed, ambrosial; over his shoulder
Hung for a veil of his beauty the gold-fringed folds of the goat-skin,
Bearing the brass of his shield, as the sun flashed clear on its clearness.
Curved on his thigh lay a falchion, and under the gleam of his helmet
Eyes more blue than the main shone awful; around him Athene
Shed in her love such grace, such state, and terrible daring.
Hovering over the water he came, upon glittering pinions,
Living, a wonder, outgrown from the tight-laced gold of his sandals;
Bounding from billow to billow, and sweeping the crests like a sea-gull;
Leaping the gulfs of the surge, as he laughed in the joy of his leaping.
Fair and majestic he sprang to the rock; and the maiden in wonder
Gazed for a while, and then hid in the dark-rolling wave of her tresses,
Fearful, the light of her eyes; while the boy (for her sorrow had awed him)
Blushed at her blushes, and vanished, like mist on the cliffs at the sunrise.
Fearful at length she looked forth: he was gone: she, wild with amazement,
Wailed for her mother aloud: but the wail of the wind only answered.
Sudden he flashed into sight, by her side; in his pity and anger
Moist were his eyes; and his breath like a rose-bed, as bolder and bolder,
Hovering under her brows, like a swallow that haunts by the house-eaves,
Delicate-handed, he lifted the veil of her hair; while the maiden
Motionless, frozen with fear, wept loud; till his lips unclosing
Poured from their pearl-strung portal the musical wave of his wonder.
'Ah, well spoke she, the wise one, the gray-eyed Pallas Athene,-
Known to Immortals alone are the prizes which lie for the heroes
Ready prepared at their feet; for requiring a little, the rulers
Pay back the loan tenfold to the man who, careless of pleasure,
Thirsting for honour and toil, fares forth on a perilous errand
Led by the guiding of gods, and strong in the strength of Immortals.
Thus have they led me to thee: from afar, unknowing, I marked thee,
Shining, a snow-white cross on the dark-green walls of the sea-cliff;
Carven in marble I deemed thee, a perfect work of the craftsman.
Likeness of Amphitrite, or far-famed Queen Cythereia.
Curious I came, till I saw how thy tresses streamed in the sea-wind,
Glistening, black as the night, and thy lips moved slow in thy wailing.
Speak again now-Oh speak! For my soul is stirred to avenge thee;
Tell me what barbarous horde, without law, unrighteous and heartless,
Hateful to gods and to men, thus have bound thee, a shame to the sunlight,
Scorn and prize to the sailor: but my prize now; for a coward,
Coward and shameless were he, who so finding a glorious jewel
Cast on the wayside by fools, would not win it and keep it and wear it,
Even as I will thee; for I swear by the head of my father,
Bearing thee over the sea-wave, to wed thee in Argos the fruitful,
Beautiful, meed of my toil no less than this head which I carry,
Hidden here fearful-Oh speak!'
But the maid, still dumb with amazement,
Watered her bosom with weeping, and longed for her home and her mother.
Beautiful, eager, he wooed her, and kissed off her tears as he hovered,
Roving at will, as a bee, on the brows of a rock nymph-haunted,
Garlanded over with vine, and acanthus, and clambering roses,
Cool in the fierce still noon, where streams glance clear in the mossbeds,
Hums on from blossom to blossom, and mingles the sweets as he tastes them.
Beautiful, eager, he kissed her, and clasped her yet closer and closer,
Praying her still to speak-
'Not cruel nor rough did my mother
Bear me to broad-browed Zeus in the depths of the brass-covered dungeon;
Neither in vain, as I think, have I talked with the cunning of Hermes,
Face unto face, as a friend; or from gray-eyed Pallas Athene
Learnt what is fit, and respecting myself, to respect in my dealings
Those whom the gods should love; so fear not; to chaste espousals
Only I woo thee, and swear, that a queen, and alone without rival
By me thou sittest in Argos of Hellas, throne of my fathers,
Worshipped by fair-haired kings: why callest thou still on thy mother?
Why did she leave thee thus here? For no foeman has bound thee; no foeman
Winning with strokes of the sword such a prize, would so leave it behind
Just as at first some colt, wild-eyed, with quivering nostril,
Plunges in fear of the curb, and the fluttering robes of the rider;
Soon, grown bold by despair, submits to the will of his master,
Tamer and tamer each hour, and at last, in the pride of obedience,
Answers the heel with a curvet, and arches his neck to be fondled,
Cowed by the need that maid grew tame; while the hero indignant
Tore at the fetters which held her: the brass, too cunningly tempered,
Held to the rock by the nails, deep wedged: till the boy, red with anger,
Drew from his ivory thigh, keen flashing, a falchion of diamond-
'Now let the work of the smith try strength with the arms of Immortals!'
Dazzling it fell; and the blade, as the vine-hook shears off the vine-bough,
Carved through the strength of the brass, till her arms fell soft on his
Once she essayed to escape: but the ring of the water was round her,
Round her the ring of his arms; and despairing she sank on his bosom.
Then, like a fawn when startled, she looked with a shriek to the seaward.
'Touch me not, wretch that I am! For accursed, a shame and a hissing,
Guiltless, accurst no less, I await the revenge of the sea-gods.
Yonder it comes! Ah go! Let me perish unseen, if I perish!
Spare me the shame of thine eyes, when merciless fangs must tear me
Piecemeal! Enough to endure by myself in the light of the sunshine
Guiltless, the death of a kid!'
But the boy still lingered around her,
Loth, like a boy, to forego her, and waken the cliffs with his laughter.
'Yon is the foe, then? A beast of the sea? I had deemed him immortal.
Titan, or Proteus' self, or Nereus, foeman of sailors:
Yet would I fight with them all, but Poseidon, shaker of mountains,
Uncle of mine, whom I fear, as is fit; for he haunts on Olympus,
Holding the third of the world; and the gods all rise at his coming.
Unto none else will I yield, god-helped: how then to a monster,
Child of the earth and of night, unreasoning, shapeless, accursed?'
'Art thou, too, then a god?'
'No god I,' smiling he answered;
'Mortal as thou, yet divine: but mortal the herds of the ocean,
Equal to men in that only, and less in all else; for they nourish
Blindly the life of the lips, untaught by the gods, without wisdom:
Shame if I fled before such!'
In her heart new life was enkindled,
Worship and trust, fair parents of love: but she answered him sighing.
'Beautiful, why wilt thou die? Is the light of the sun, then, so
Worthless to sport with thy fellows in flowery glades of the forest,
Under the broad green oaks, where never again shall I wander,
Tossing the ball with my maidens, or wreathing the altar in garlands,
Careless, with dances and songs, till the glens rang loud to our laughter.
Too full of death the sad earth is already: the halls full of weepers,
Quarried by tombs all cliffs, and the bones gleam white on the sea-floor,
Numberless, gnawn by the herds who attend on the pitiless sea-gods,
Even as mine will be soon: and yet noble it seems to me, dying,
Giving my life for a people, to save to the arms of their lovers
Maidens and youths for a while: thee, fairest of all, shall I slay thee?
Add not thy bones to the many, thus angering idly the dread ones!
Either the monster will crush, or the sea-queen's self overwhelm thee,
Vengeful, in tempest and foam, and the thundering walls of the surges.
Why wilt thou follow me down? can we love in the black blank darkness?
Love in the realms of the dead, in the land where all is forgotten?
Why wilt thou follow me down? is it joy, on the desolate oozes,
Meagre to flit, gray ghosts in the depths of the gray salt water?
Beautiful! why wilt thou die, and defraud fair girls of thy manhood?
Surely one waits for thee longing, afar in the isles of the ocean.
Go thy way; I mine; for the gods grudge pleasure to mortals.'
Sobbing she ended her moan, as her neck, like a storm-bent lily,
Drooped with the weight of her woe, and her limbs sank, weary with watching,
Soft on the hard-ledged rock: but the boy, with his eye on the monster,
Clasped her, and stood, like a god; and his lips curved proud as he answered-
'Great are the pitiless sea-gods: but greater the Lords of Olympus;
Greater the AEgis-wielder, and greater is she who attends him.
Clear-eyed Justice her name is, the counsellor, loved of Athene;
Helper of heroes, who dare, in the god-given might of their manhood,
Greatly to do and to suffer, and far in the fens' and the forests
Smite the devourers of men, Heaven-hated, brood of the giants,
Twyformed, strange, without like, who obey not the golden-haired Rulers.
Vainly rebelling they rage, till they die by the swords of the heroes,
Even as this must die; for I burn with the wrath of my father,
Wandering, led by Athene; and dare whatsoever betides me.
Led by Athene I won from the gray-haired terrible sisters
Secrets hidden from men, when I found them asleep on the sand-hills,
Keeping their eye and their tooth, till they showed me the perilous pathway
Over the waterless ocean, the valley that led to the Gorgon.
Her too I slew in my craft, Medusa, the beautiful horror;
Taught by Athene I slew her, and saw not herself, but her image,
Watching the mirror of brass, in the shield which a goddess had lent me.
Cleaving her brass-scaled throat, as she lay with her adders around her,
Fearless I bore off her head, in the folds of the mystical goat-skin
Hide of Amaltheie, fair nurse of the AEgis-wielder.
Hither I bear it, a gift to the gods, and a death to my foe-men,
Freezing the seer to stone; to hide thine eyes from the horror.
Kiss me but once, and I go.'
Then lifting her neck, like a sea-bird
Peering up over the wave, from the foam-white swells of her bosom,
Blushing she kissed him: afar, on the topmost Idalian summit
Laughed in the joy of her heart, far-seeing, the queen Aphrodite.
Loosing his arms from her waist he flew upward, awaiting the sea-beast.
Onward it came from the southward, as bulky and black as a galley,
Lazily coasting along, as the fish fled leaping before it;
Lazily breasting the ripple, and watching by sandbar and headland,
Listening for laughter of maidens at bleaching, or song of the fisher,
Children at play on the pebbles, or cattle that pawed on the sand-hills.
Rolling and dripping it came, where bedded in glistening purple
Cold on the cold sea-weeds lay the long white sides of the maiden,
Trembling, her face in her hands, and her tresses afloat on the water.
As when an osprey aloft, dark-eyebrowed, royally crested,
Flags on by creek and by cove, and in scorn of the anger of Nereus
Ranges, the king of the shore; if he see on a glittering shallow,
Chasing the bass and the mullet, the fin of a wallowing dolphin,
Halting, he wheels round slowly, in doubt at the weight of his quarry,
Whether to clutch it alive, or to fall on the wretch like a plummet,
Stunning with terrible talon the life of the brain in the hindhead:
Then rushes up with a scream, and stooping the wrath of his eyebrows
Falls from the sky, like a star, while the wind rattles hoarse in his
Over him closes the foam for a moment; and then from the sand-bed
Rolls up the great fish, dead, and his side gleams white in the sunshine.
Thus fell the boy on the beast, unveiling the face of the Gorgon;
Thus fell the boy on the beast; thus rolled up the beast in his horror,
Once, as the dead eyes glared into his; then his sides, death-sharpened,
Stiffened and stood, brown rock, in the wash of the wandering water.
Beautiful, eager, triumphant, he leapt back again to his treasure;
Leapt back again, full blest, toward arms spread wide to receive him.
Brimful of honour he clasped her, and brimful of love she caressed him,
Answering lip with lip; while above them the queen Aphrodite
Poured on their foreheads and limbs, unseen, ambrosial odours,
Givers of longing, and rapture, and chaste content in espousals.
Happy whom ere they be wedded anoints she, the Queen Aphrodite!
Laughing she called to her sister, the chaste Tritonid Athene,
'Seest thou yonder thy pupil, thou maid of the AEgis-wielder?
How he has turned himself wholly to love, and caresses a damsel,
Dreaming no longer of honour, or danger, or Pallas Athene?
Sweeter, it seems, to the young my gifts are; so yield me the stripling;
Yield him me now, lest he die in his prime, like hapless Adonis.'
Smiling she answered in turn, that chaste Tritonid Athene:
'Dear unto me, no less than to thee, is the wedlock of heroes;
Dear, who can worthily win him a wife not unworthy; and noble,
Pure with the pure to beget brave children, the like of their father.
Happy, who thus stands linked to the heroes who were, and who shall be;
Girdled with holiest awe, not sparing of self; for his mother
Watches his steps with the eyes of the gods; and his wife and his children
Move him to plan and to do in the farm and the camp and the council.
Thence comes weal to a nation: but woe upon woe, when the people
Mingle in love at their will, like the brutes, not heeding the future.'
Then from her gold-strung loom, where she wrought in her chamber of cedar,
Awful and fair she arose; and she went by the glens of Olympus;
Went by the isles of the sea, and the wind never ruffled her mantle;
Went by the water of Crete, and the black-beaked fleets of the Phoenics;
Came to the sea-girt rock which is washed by the surges for ever,
Bearing the wealth of the gods, for a gift to the bride of a hero.
There she met Andromeden and Persea, shaped like Immortals;
Solemn and sweet was her smile, while their hearts beat loud at her coming;
Solemn and sweet was her smile, as she spoke to the pair in her wisdom.
'Three things hold we, the Rulers, who sit by the founts of Olympus,
Wisdom, and prowess, and beauty; and freely we pour them on mortals;
Pleased at our image in man, as a father at his in his children.
One thing only we grudge to mankind: when a hero, unthankful,
Boasts of our gifts as his own, stiffnecked, and dishonours the givers,
Turning our weapons against us. Him Ate follows avenging;
Slowly she tracks him and sure, as a lyme-hound; sudden she grips him,
Crushing him, blind in his pride, for a sign and a terror to folly.
This we avenge, as is fit; in all else never weary of giving.
Come, then, damsel, and know if the gods grudge pleasure to mortals.'
Loving and gentle she spoke: but the maid stood in awe, as the goddess
Plaited with soft swift finger her tresses, and decked her in jewels,
Armlet and anklet and earbell; and over her shoulders a necklace,
Heavy, enamelled, the flower of the gold and the brass of the mountain.
Trembling with joy she gazed, so well Haephaistos had made it,
Deep in the forges of AEtna, while Charis his lady beside him
Mingled her grace in his craft, as he wrought for his sister Athene.
Then on the brows of the maiden a veil bound Pallas Athene;
Ample it fell to her feet, deep-fringed, a wonder of weaving.
Ages and ages agone it was wrought on the heights of Olympus,
Wrought in the gold-strung loom, by the finger of cunning Athene.
In it she wove all creatures that teem in the womb of the ocean;
Nereid, siren, and triton, and dolphin, and arrowy fishes
Glittering round, many-hued, on the flame-red folds of the mantle.
In it she wove, too, a town where gray-haired kings sat in judgment;
Sceptre in hand in the market they sat, doing right by the people,
Wise: while above watched Justice, and near, far-seeing Apollo.
Round it she wove for a fringe all herbs of the earth and the water,
Violet, asphodel, ivy, and vine-leaves, roses and lilies,
Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean:
Now from Olympus she bore it, a dower to the bride of a hero.
Over the limbs of the damsel she wrapt it: the maid still trembled,
Shading her face with her hands; for the eyes of the goddess were awful.
Then, as a pine upon Ida when southwest winds blow landward,
Stately she bent to the damsel, and breathed on her: under her breathing
Taller and fairer she grew; and the goddess spoke in her wisdom.
'Courage I give thee; the heart of a queen, and the mind of Immortals;
Godlike to talk with the gods, and to look on their eyes unshrinking;
Fearing the sun and the stars no more, and the blue salt water;
Fearing us only, the lords of Olympus, friends of the heroes;
Chastely and wisely to govern thyself and thy house and thy people,
Bearing a godlike race to thy spouse, till dying I set thee
High for a star in the heavens, a sign and a hope to the seamen,
Spreading thy long white arms all night in the heights of the aether,
Hard by thy sire and the hero thy spouse, while near thee thy mother
Sits in her ivory chair, as she plaits ambrosial tresses.
All night long thou wilt shine; all day thou wilt feast on Olympus,
Happy, the guest of the gods, by thy husband, the god-begotten.'
Blissful, they turned them to go: but the fair-tressed Pallas Athene
Rose, like a pillar of tall white cloud, toward silver Olympus;
Far above ocean and shore, and the peaks of the isles and the mainland;
Where no frost nor storm is, in clear blue windless abysses,
High in the home of the summer, the seats of the happy Immortals,
Shrouded in keen deep blaze, unapproachable; there ever youthful
Hebe, Harmonie, and the daughter of Jove, Aphrodite,
Whirled in the white-linked dance with the gold-crowned Hours and the Graces,
Hand within hand, while clear piped Phoebe, queen of the woodlands.
All day long they rejoiced: but Athene still in her chamber
Bent herself over her loom, as the stars rang loud to her singing,
Chanting of order and right, and of foresight, warden of nations;
Chanting of labour and craft, and of wealth in the port and the garner;
Chanting of valour and fame, and the man who can fall with the foremost,
Fighting for children and wife, and the field which his father bequeathed
Sweetly and solemnly sang she, and planned new lessons for mortals:
Happy, who hearing obey her, the wise unsullied Athene.