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Rabindranath Tagore

Storm of midnight, like a giant child awakened in the untimely dark, has begun to play and shout.

aphorism by from Stray Birds (1916), translated by Rabindranath TagoreReport problemRelated quotes
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The Garden-Chair

TWO PORTRAITS.

A PLEASANT picture, full of meanings deep,
Old age, calm sitting in the July sun,
On withered hands half-leaning--feeble hands,
That after their life-labors, light or hard,
Their girlish broideries, their marriage-ringed
Domestic duties, their sweet cradle cares,
Have dropped into the quiet-folded ease
Of fourscore years. How peacefully the eyes
Face us! Contented, unregretful eyes,
That carry in them the whole tale of life
With its one moral--'Thus all was--thus best.'
Eyes now so near unto their closing mild
They seem to pierce direct through all that maze,
As eyes immortal do.

Here--Youth. She stands
Under the roses, with elastic foot
Poised to step forward; eager-eyed, yet grave
Beneath the mystery of the unknown To-come,
Though longing for its coming. Firm prepared
(So say the lifted head and close, sweet mouth)
For any future: though the dreamy hope
Throned on her girlish forehead, whispers fond,
'Surely they err who say that life is hard;
Surely it shall not be with me as these.'

God knows: He only. And so best, dear child,
Thou woman-statured, sixteen-year-old child,
Meet bravely the impenetrable Dark
Under thy roses. Bud and blossom thou
Fearless as they--if thou art planted safe,
Whether for gathering or for withering, safe
In the King's garden.

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Tennants Anster Fair

I.

'TIS the middle watch of a summer's night -
The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;
Nought is seen in the vault on high
But the moon, and the stars, and the cloudless sky,
And the flood which rolls its milky hue,
A river of light on the welkin blue.
The moon looks down on old Cronest,
She mellows the shades on his shaggy breast,
And seems his huge gray form to throw
In a sliver cone on the wave below;

His sides are broken by spots of shade,
By the walnut bough and the cedar made,
And through their clustering branches dark
Glimmers and dies the fire-fly's spark -
Like starry twinkles that momently break
Through the rifts of the gathering tempest's rack.

II.

The stars are on the moving stream,
And fling, as its ripples gently flow,
A burnished length of wavy beam
In an eel-like, spiral line below;
The winds are whist, and the owl is still,
The bat in the shelvy rock is hid,
And nought is heard on the lonely hill
But the cricket's chirp, and the answer shrill
Of the gauze-winged katy-did;
And the plaint of the wailing whip-poor-will,
Who moans unseen, and ceaseless sings,
Ever a note of wail and wo,
Till morning spreads her rosy wings,
And earth and sky in her glances glow.

III.

'Tis the hour of fairy ban and spell:
The wood-tick has kept the minutes well;
He has counted them all with click and stroke,
Deep in the heart of the mountain oak,
And he has awakened the sentry elve
Who sleeps with him in the haunted tree,
To bid him ring the hour of twelve,
And call the fays to their revelry;
Twelve small strokes on his tinkling bell -
('Twas made of the white snail's pearly shell:- )
"Midnight comes, and all is well!
Hither, hither, wing your way!
'Tis the dawn of the fairy day."

IV.

They come from beds of lichen green,
They creep from the mullen's velvet screen;
Some on the backs of beetles fly
From the silver tops of moon-touched trees,
Where they swung in their cobweb hammocks high,
And rock'd about in the evening breeze;
Some from the hum-bird's downy nest -
They had driven him out by elfin power,
And pillowed on plumes of his rainbow breast,
Had slumbered there till the charmed hour;
Some had lain in the scoop of the rock,
With glittering ising-stars inlaid;
And some had opened the four-o'clock,
And stole within its purple shade.
And now they throng the moonlight glade,
Above - below - on every side,
Their little minim forms arrayed
In the tricksy pomp of fairy pride!

V.

They come not now to print the lea,
In freak and dance around the tree,
Or at the mushroom board to sup,
And drink the dew from the buttercup; -
A scene of sorrow waits them now,
For an Ouphe has broken his vestal vow;
He has loved an earthly maid,
And left for her his woodland shade;
He has lain upon her lip of dew,
And sunned him in her eye of blue,
Fann'd her cheek with his wing of air,
Played in the ringlets of her hair,
And, nestling on her snowy breast,
Forgot the lily-king's behest.
For this the shadowy tribes of air
To the elfin court must haste away:-
And now they stand expectant there,
To hear the doom of the Culprit Fay.

VI.

The throne was reared upon the grass
Of spice-wood and of sassafras;
On pillars of mottled tortoise-shell
Hung the burnished canopy -
And o'er it gorgeous curtains fell
Of the tulip's crimson drapery.
The monarch sat on his judgment-seat,
On his brow the crown imperial shone,
The prisoner Fay was at his feet,
And his peers were ranged around the throne.
He waved his sceptre in the air,
He looked around and calmly spoke;
His brow was grave and his eye severe,
But his voice in a softened accent broke:

VII.

"Fairy! Fairy! list and mark,
Thou hast broke thine elfin chain,
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
And thy wings are dyed with a deadly stain -
Thou hast sullied thine elfin purity
In the glance of a mortal maiden's eye,
Thou hast scorned our dread decree,
And thou shouldst pay the forfeit high,
But well I know her sinless mind
Is pure as the angel forms above,
Gentle and meek, and chaste and kind,
Such as a spirit well might love;
Fairy! had she spot or taint,
Bitter had been thy punishment.
Tied to the hornet's shardy wings;
Tossed on the pricks of nettles' stings;
Or seven long ages doomed to dwell
With the lazy worm in the walnut-shell;
Or every night to writhe and bleed
Beneath the tread of the centipede;
Or bound in a cobweb dungeon dim,
Your jailer a spider huge and grim,
Amid the carrion bodies to lie,
Of the worm, and the bug, and the murdered fly:
These it had been your lot to bear,
Had a stain been found on the earthly fair.
Now list, and mark our mild decree -
Fairy, this your doom must be:

VIII.

"Thou shalt seek the beach of sand
Where the water bounds the elfin land,
Thou shalt watch the oozy brine
Till the sturgeon leaps in the bright moonshine,
Then dart the glistening arch below,
And catch a drop from his silver bow.
The water-sprites will wield their arms
And dash around, with roar and rave,
And vain are the woodland spirits' charms,
They are the imps that rule the wave.
Yet trust thee in thy single might,
If thy heart be pure and thy spirit right,
Thou shalt win the warlock fight.

IX.

"If the spray-bead gem be won,
The stain of thy wing is washed away,
But another errand must be done
Ere thy crime be lost for aye;
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
Thou must re-illume its spark.
Mount thy steed and spur him high
To the heaven's blue canopy;
And when thou seest a shooting star,
Follow it fast, and follow it far -
The last faint spark of its burning train
Shall light the elfin lamp again.
Thou hast heard our sentence, Fay;
Hence! to the water-side, away!"

X.

The goblin marked his monarch well;
He spake not, but he bowed him low,
Then plucked a crimson colen-bell,
And turned him round in act to go.
The way is long, he cannot fly,
His soiled wing has lost its power,
And he winds adown the mountain high,
For many a sore and weary hour.
Through dreary beds of tangled fern,
Through groves of nightshade dark and dern,
Over the grass and through the brake,
Where toils the ant and sleeps the snake;
Now o'er the violet's azure flush
He skips along in lightsome mood;
And now he thrids the bramble bush,
Till its points are dyed in fairy blood.
He has leapt the bog, he has pierced the briar,
He has swum the brook, and waded the mire,
Till his spirits sank, and his limbs grew weak,
And the red waxed fainter in his cheek.
He had fallen to the ground outright,
For rugged and dim was his onward track,
But there came a spotted toad in sight,
And he laughed as he jumped upon her back;
He bridled her mouth with a silk-weed twist;
He lashed her sides with an osier thong;
And now through evening's dewy mist,
With leap and spring they bound along,
Till the mountain's magic verge is past,
And the beach of sand is reached at last.

XI.

Soft and pale is the moony beam,
Moveless still the glassy stream,
The wave is clear, the beach is bright
With snowy shells and sparkling stones;
The shore-surge comes in ripples light,
In murmurings faint and distant moans;
And ever afar in the silence deep
Is heard the splash of the sturgeon's leap,
And the bend of his graceful bow is seen -
A glittering arch of silver sheen,
Spanning the wave of burnished blue,
And dripping with gems of the river dew.

XII.

The elfin cast a glance around,
As he lighted down from his courser toad,
Then round his breast his wings he wound,
And close to the river's brink he strode;
He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer,
Above his head his arms he threw,
Then tossed a tiny curve in air,
And headlong plunged in the waters blue.

XIII.

Up sprung the spirits of the waves,
From sea-silk beds in their coral caves,
With snail-plate armour snatched in haste,
They speed their way through the liquid waste;
Some are rapidly borne along
On the mailed shrimp or the prickly prong,
Some on the blood-red leeches glide,
Some on the stony star-fish ride,
Some on the back of the lancing squab,
Some on the sidelong soldier-crab;
And some on the jellied quarl, that flings
At once a thousand streamy stings -
They cut the wave with the living oar
And hurry on to the moonlight shore,
To guard their realms and chase away
The footsteps of the invading Fay.

XIV.

Fearlessly he skims along,
His hope is high, and his limbs are strong,
He spreads his arms like the swallow's wing,
And throws his feet with a frog-like fling;
His locks of gold on the waters shine,
At his breast the tiny foam-beads rise,
His back gleams bright above the brine,
And the wake-line foam behind him lies.
But the water-sprites are gathering near
To check his course along the tide;
Their warriors come in swift career
And hem him round on every side;
On his thigh the leech has fixed his hold,
The quarl's long arms are round him roll'd,
The prickly prong has pierced his skin,
And the squab has thrown his javelin,
The gritty star has rubbed him raw,
And the crab has struck with his giant claw;
He howls with rage, and he shrieks with pain,
He strikes around, but his blows are vain;
Hopeless is the unequal fight,
Fairy! nought is left but flight.

XV.

He turned him round and fled amain
With hurry and dash to the beach again;
He twisted over from side to side,
And laid his cheek to the cleaving tide.
The strokes of his plunging arms are fleet,
And with all his might he flings his feet,
But the water-sprites are round him still,
To cross his path and work him ill.
They bade the wave before him rise;
They flung the sea-fire in his eyes,
And they stunned his ears with the scallop stroke,
With the porpoise heave and the drum-fish croak.
Oh! but a weary wight was he
When he reached the foot of the dog-wood tree;
- Gashed and wounded, and stiff and sore,
He laid him down on the sandy shore;
He blessed the force of the charmed line,
And he banned the water-goblin's spite,
For he saw around in the sweet moonshine,
Their little wee faces above the brine,
Giggling and laughing with all their might
At the piteous hap of the Fairy wight.

XVI.

Soon he gathered the balsam dew
From the sorrel leaf and the henbane bud;
Over each wound the balm he drew,
And with cobweb lint he stanched the blood.
The mild west wind was soft and low,
It cooled the heat of his burning brow,
And he felt new life in his sinews shoot,
As he drank the juice of the cal'mus root;
And now he treads the fatal shore,
As fresh and vigorous as before.

XVII.

Wrapped in musing stands the sprite:
'Tis the middle wane of night,
His task is hard, his way is far,
But he must do his errand right
Ere dawning mounts her beamy car,
And rolls her chariot wheels of light;
And vain are the spells of fairy-land,
He must work with a human hand.

XVIII.

He cast a saddened look around,
But he felt new joy his bosom swell,
When, glittering on the shadowed ground,
He saw a purple muscle shell;
Thither he ran, and he bent him low,
He heaved at the stern and he heaved at the bow,
And he pushed her over the yielding sand,
Till he came to the verge of the haunted land.
She was as lovely a pleasure boat
As ever fairy had paddled in,
For she glowed with purple paint without,
And shone with silvery pearl within;
A sculler's notch in the stern he made,
An oar he shaped of the bootle blade;
Then spung to his seat with a lightsome leap,
And launched afar on the calm blue deep.

XIX.

The imps of the river yell and rave;
They had no power above the wave,
But they heaved the billow before the prow,
And they dashed the surge against her side,
And they struck her keel with jerk and blow,
Till the gunwale bent to the rocking tide.
She wimpled about in the pale moonbeam,
Like a feather that floats on a wind tossed-stream;
And momently athwart her track
The quarl upreared his island back,
And the fluttering scallop behind would float,
And patter the water about the boat;
But he bailed her out with his colen-bell,
And he kept her trimmed with a wary tread,
While on every side like lightening fell
The heavy strokes of his bootle-blade.

XX.

Onward still he held his way,
Till he came where the column of moonshine lay,
And saw beneath the surface dim
The brown-backed sturgeon slowly swim:
Around him were the goblin train -
But he sculled with all his might and main,
And followed wherever the sturgeon led,
Till he saw him upward point his head;
Then he dropped his paddle blade,
And held his colen goblet up
To catch the drop in its crimson cup.

XXI.

With sweeping tail and quivering fin,
Through the wave the sturgeon flew,
And, like the heaven-shot javelin,
He sprug above the waters blue.
Instant as the star-fall light,
He plunged him in the deep again,
But left an arch of silver bright
The rainbow of the moony main.
It was a strange and lovely sight
To see the puny goblin there;
He seemed an angel form of light,
With azure wing and sunny hair,
Throned on a cloud of purple fair,
Circled with blue and edged with white,
And sitting at the fall of even
Beneath the bow of summer heaven.

XXII.

A moment and its lustre fell,
But ere it met the billow blue,
He caught within his crimson bell,
A droplet of its sparkling dew -
Joy to thee, Fay! thy task is done,
Thy wings are pure, for the gem is won -
Cheerly ply thy dripping oar,
And haste away to the elfin shore.

XXIII.

He turns, and lo! on either side
The ripples on his path divide;
And the track o'er which his boat must pass
Is smooth as a sheet of polished glass.
Around, their limbs the sea-nymphs lave,
With snowy arms half swelling out,
While on the glossed and gleamy wave
Their sea-green ringlets loosely float;
They swim around with smile and song;
They press the bark with pearly hand,
And gently urge her course along,
Toward the beach of speckled sand;
And, as he lightly leapt to land,
They bade adieu with nod and bow,
Then gayly kissed each little hand,
And dropped in the crystal deep below.

XXIV.

A moment staied the fairy there;
He kissed the beach and breathed a prayer,
Then spread his wings of gilded blue,
And on to the elfin court he flew;
As ever ye saw a bubble rise,
And shine with a thousand changing dyes,
Till lessening far through ether driven,
It mingles with the hues of heaven:
As, at the glimpse of morning pale,
The lance-fly spreads his silken sail,
And gleams with blendings soft and bright,
Till lost in the shades of fading night;
So rose from earth the lovely Fay -
So vanished, far in heaven away!

Up, Fairy! quit thy chick-weed bower,
The cricket has called the second hour,
Twice again, and the lark will rise
To kiss the streaking of the skies -
Up! thy charmed armour don,
Thou'lt need it ere the night be gone.

XXV.

He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of the thistle down:
The corslet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee's golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes,
Was formed of the wings of butterflies;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug queen,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandished bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he bestrode his fire-fly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle seed,
And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.

XXVI.

The moth-fly, as he shot in air,
Crept under the leaf, and hid her there;
The katy-did forgot its lay,
The prowling gnat fled fast away,
The fell mosqueto checked his drone
And folded his wings till the Fay was gone,
And the wily beetle dropped his head,
And fell on the ground as if he were dead;
They crouched them close in the darksome shade,
They quaked all o'er with awe and fear,
For they had felt the blue-bent blade,
And writhed at the prick of the elfin spear;
Many a time on a summer's night,
When the sky was clear and the moon was bright,
They had been roused from the haunted ground,
By the yelp and bay of the fairy hound;
They had heard the tiny bugle horn,
They had heard of twang of the maize-silk string,
When the vine-twig bows were tightly drawn,
And the nettle-shaft through the air was borne,
Feathered with down the hum-bird's wing.
And now they deemed the courier ouphe,
Some hunter sprite of the elfin ground;
And they watched till they saw him mount the roof
That canopies the world around;
Then glad they left their covert lair,
And freaked about in the midnight air.

XXVII.

Up to the vaulted firmament
His path the fire-fly courser bent,
And at every gallop on the wind,
He flung a glittering spark behind;
He flies like a feather in the blast
Till the first light cloud in heaven is past,
But the shapes of air have begun their work,
And a drizzly mist is round him cast,
He cannot see through the mantle murk,
He shivers with cold, but he urges fast,
Through storm and darkness, sleet and shade,
He lashes his steed and spurs amain,
For shadowy hands have twitched the rein,
And flame-shot tongues around him played,
And near him many a fiendish eye
Glared with a fell malignity,
And yells of rage, and shrieks of fear,
Came screaming on his startled ear.

XXVIII.

His wings are wet around his breast,
The plume hangs dripping from his crest,
His eyes are blur'd with the lightning's glare,
And his ears are stunned with the thunder's blare,
But he gave a shout, and his blade he drew,
He thrust before and he struck behind,
Till he pierced their cloudy bodies through,
And gashed their shadowy limbs of wind;
Howling the misty spectres flew,
They rend the air with frightful cries,
For he has gained the welkin blue,
And the land of clouds beneath him lies.

XXIX.

Up to the cope careering swift
In breathless motion fast,
Fleet as the swallow cuts the drift,
Or the sea-roc rides the blast,
The sapphire sheet of eve is shot,
The sphered moon is past,
The earth but seems a tiny blot
On a sheet of azure cast.
O! it was sweet in the clear moonlight,
To tread the starry plain of even,
To meet the thousand eyes of night,
And feel the cooling breath of heaven!
But the Elfin made no stop or stay
Till he came to the bank of the milky-way,
Then he checked his courser's foot,
And watched for the glimpse of the planet-shoot.

XXX.

Sudden along the snowy tide
That swelled to meet their footstep's fall,
The sylphs of heaven were seen to glide,
Attired in sunset's crimson pall;
Around the Fay they weave the dance,
They skip before him on the plain,
And one has taken his wasp-sting lance,
And one upholds his bridle rein;
With warblings wild they lead him on
To where through clouds of amber seen,
Studded with stars, resplendent shone
The palace of the sylphid queen.
Its spiral columns gleaming bright
Were streamers of the northern light;
Its curtain's light and lovely flush
Was of the morning's rosy blush,
And the ceiling fair that rose aboon
The white and feathery fleece of noon.

XXXI.

But oh! how fair the shape that lay
Beneath a rainbow bending bright,
She seemed to the entranced Fay
The loveliest of the forms of light;
Her mantle was the purple rolled
At twilight in the west afar;
'Twas tied with threads of dawning gold,
And buttoned with a sparkling star.
Her face was like the lily roon
That veils the vestal planet's hue;
Her eyes, two beamlets from the moon,
Set floating in the welkin blue.
Her hair is like the sunny beam,
And the diamond gems which round it gleam
Are the pure drops of dewy even
That ne'er have left their native heaven.

XXXII.

She raised her eyes to the wondering sprite,
And they leapt with smiles, for well I ween
Never before in the bowers of light
Had the form of an earthly Fay been seen.
Long she looked in his tiny face;
Long with his butterfly cloak she played;
She smoothed his wings of azure lace,
And handled the tassel of his blade;
And as he told in accents low
The story of his love and wo,
She felt new pains in her bosom rise,
And the tear-drop started in her eyes.
And 'O sweet spirit of earth,' she cried,
'Return no more to your woodland height,
But ever here with me abide
In the land of everlasting light!
Within the fleecy drift we'll lie,
We'll hang upon the rainbow's rim;
And all the jewels of the sky
Around thy brow shall brightly beam!
And thou shalt bathe thee in the stream
That rolls its whitening foam aboon,
And ride upon the lightning's gleam,
And dance upon the orbed moon!
We'll sit within the Pleiad ring,
We'll rest on Orion's starry belt,
And I will bid my sylphs to sing
The song that makes the dew-mist melt;
Their harps are of the umber shade,
That hides the blush of waking day,
And every gleamy string is made
Of silvery moonshine's lengthened ray;
And thou shalt pillow on my breast,
While heavenly breathings float around,
And, with the sylphs of ether blest,
Forget the joys of fairy ground.'

XXXIII.

She was lovely and fair to see
And the elfin's heart beat fitfully;
But lovelier far, and still more fair,
The earthly form imprinted there;
Nought he saw in the heavens above
Was half so dear as his mortal love,
For he thought upon her looks so meek,
And he thought of the light flush on her cheek;
Never again might he bask and lie
On that sweet cheek and moonlight eye,
But in his dreams her form to see,
To clasp her in his reverie,
To think upon his virgin bride,
Was worth all heaven and earth beside.

XXXIV.

'Lady,' he cried, 'I have sworn to-night,
On the word of a fairy knight,
To do my sentence-task aright;
My honour scarce is free from stain,
I may not soil its snows again;
Betide me weal, betide me wo,
Its mandate must be answered now.'
Her bosom heaved with many a sigh,
The tear was in her drooping eye;
But she led him to the palace gate,
And called the sylphs who hovered there,
And bade them fly and bring him straight
Of clouds condensed a sable car.
With charm and spell she blessed it there,
From all the fiends of upper air;
Then round him cast the shadowy shroud,
And tied his steed behind the cloud;
And pressed his hand as she bade him fly
Far to the verge of the northern sky,
For by its wane and wavering light
There was a star would fall to-night.

XXXV.

Borne after on the wings of the blast,
Northward away, he speeds him fast,
And his courser follows the cloudy wain
Till the hoof-strokes fall like pattering rain.
The clouds roll backward as he flies,
Each flickering star behind him lies,
And he has reached the northern plain,
And backed his fire-fly steed again,
Ready to follow in its flight
The streaming of the rocket-light.

XXXVI.

The star is yet in the vault of heaven,
But its rocks in the summer gale;
And now 'tis fitful and uneven,
And now 'tis deadly pale;
And now 'tis wrapp'd in sulphur smoke,
And quenched is its rayless beam,
And now with a rattling thunder-stroke
It bursts in flash and flame.
As swift as the glance of the arrowy lance
That the storm-spirit flings from high,
The star-shot flew o'er the welkin blue,
As it fell from the sheeted sky.
As swift as the wind in its trail behind
The elfin gallops along,
The fiends of the clouds are bellowing loud,
But the sylphid charm is strong;
He gallops unhurt in the shower of fire,
While the cloud-fiends fly from the blaze;
He watches each flake till its sparks expire,
And rides in the light of its rays.
But he drove his steed to the lightning's speed,
And caught a glimmering spark;
Then wheeled around to the fairy ground,
And sped through the midnight dark.

Ouphe and goblin! imp and sprite!
Elf of eve! and starry Fay!
Ye that love the moon's soft light,
Hither - hither wend your way;
Twine ye in the jocund ring,
Sing and trip it merrily,
Hand to hand, and wing to wing,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

Hail the wanderer again,
With dance and song, and lute and lyre,
Pure his wing and strong his chain,
And doubly bright his fairy fire.
Twine ye in an airy round,
Brush the dew and print the lea;
Skip and gambol, hop and bound,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

The beetle guards our holy ground,
He flies about the haunted place,
And if mortal there be found,
He hums in his ears and flaps his face;
The leaf-harp sounds our roundelay,
The owlet's eyes our lanterns be;
Thus we sing, and dance and play,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

But hark! from tower on tree-top high,
The sentry elf his call has made,
A streak is in the eastern sky,
Shapes of moonlight! flit and fade!
The hill-tops gleam in morning's spring,
The sky-lark shakes his dappled wing,
The day-glimpse glimmers on the lawn,
The cock has crowed, the Fays are gone.

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The Culprit Fay

'TIS the middle watch of a summer's night -
The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;
Nought is seen in the vault on high
But the moon, and the stars, and the cloudless sky,
And the flood which rolls its milky hue,
A river of light on the welkin blue.
The moon looks down on old Cronest,
She mellows the shades on his shaggy breast,
And seems his huge gray form to throw
In a sliver cone on the wave below;

His sides are broken by spots of shade,
By the walnut bough and the cedar made,
And through their clustering branches dark
Glimmers and dies the fire-fly's spark -
Like starry twinkles that momently break
Through the rifts of the gathering tempest's rack.

II.

The stars are on the moving stream,
And fling, as its ripples gently flow,
A burnished length of wavy beam
In an eel-like, spiral line below;
The winds are whist, and the owl is still,
The bat in the shelvy rock is hid,
And nought is heard on the lonely hill
But the cricket's chirp, and the answer shrill
Of the gauze-winged katy-did;
And the plaint of the wailing whip-poor-will,
Who moans unseen, and ceaseless sings,
Ever a note of wail and wo,
Till morning spreads her rosy wings,
And earth and sky in her glances glow.

III.

'Tis the hour of fairy ban and spell:
The wood-tick has kept the minutes well;
He has counted them all with click and stroke,
Deep in the heart of the mountain oak,
And he has awakened the sentry elve
Who sleeps with him in the haunted tree,
To bid him ring the hour of twelve,
And call the fays to their revelry;
Twelve small strokes on his tinkling bell -
('Twas made of the white snail's pearly shell:- )
'Midnight comes, and all is well!
Hither, hither, wing your way!
'Tis the dawn of the fairy day.'

IV.

They come from beds of lichen green,
They creep from the mullen's velvet screen;
Some on the backs of beetles fly
From the silver tops of moon-touched trees,
Where they swung in their cobweb hammocks high,
And rock'd about in the evening breeze;
Some from the hum-bird's downy nest -
They had driven him out by elfin power,
And pillowed on plumes of his rainbow breast,
Had slumbered there till the charmed hour;
Some had lain in the scoop of the rock,
With glittering ising-stars inlaid;
And some had opened the four-o'clock,
And stole within its purple shade.
And now they throng the moonlight glade,
Above - below - on every side,
Their little minim forms arrayed
In the tricksy pomp of fairy pride!

V.

They come not now to print the lea,
In freak and dance around the tree,
Or at the mushroom board to sup,
And drink the dew from the buttercup; -
A scene of sorrow waits them now,
For an Ouphe has broken his vestal vow;
He has loved an earthly maid,
And left for her his woodland shade;
He has lain upon her lip of dew,
And sunned him in her eye of blue,
Fann'd her cheek with his wing of air,
Played in the ringlets of her hair,
And, nestling on her snowy breast,
Forgot the lily-king's behest.
For this the shadowy tribes of air
To the elfin court must haste away:-
And now they stand expectant there,
To hear the doom of the Culprit Fay.

VI.

The throne was reared upon the grass
Of spice-wood and of sassafras;
On pillars of mottled tortoise-shell
Hung the burnished canopy -
And o'er it gorgeous curtains fell
Of the tulip's crimson drapery.
The monarch sat on his judgment-seat,
On his brow the crown imperial shone,
The prisoner Fay was at his feet,
And his peers were ranged around the throne.
He waved his sceptre in the air,
He looked around and calmly spoke;
His brow was grave and his eye severe,
But his voice in a softened accent broke:

VII.

'Fairy! Fairy! list and mark,
Thou hast broke thine elfin chain,
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
And thy wings are dyed with a deadly stain -
Thou hast sullied thine elfin purity
In the glance of a mortal maiden's eye,
Thou hast scorned our dread decree,
And thou shouldst pay the forfeit high,
But well I know her sinless mind
Is pure as the angel forms above,
Gentle and meek, and chaste and kind,
Such as a spirit well might love;
Fairy! had she spot or taint,
Bitter had been thy punishment.
Tied to the hornet's shardy wings;
Tossed on the pricks of nettles' stings;
Or seven long ages doomed to dwell
With the lazy worm in the walnut-shell;
Or every night to writhe and bleed
Beneath the tread of the centipede;
Or bound in a cobweb dungeon dim,
Your jailer a spider huge and grim,
Amid the carrion bodies to lie,
Of the worm, and the bug, and the murdered fly:
These it had been your lot to bear,
Had a stain been found on the earthly fair.
Now list, and mark our mild decree -
Fairy, this your doom must be:

VIII.

'Thou shalt seek the beach of sand
Where the water bounds the elfin land,
Thou shalt watch the oozy brine
Till the sturgeon leaps in the bright moonshine,
Then dart the glistening arch below,
And catch a drop from his silver bow.
The water-sprites will wield their arms
And dash around, with roar and rave,
And vain are the woodland spirits' charms,
They are the imps that rule the wave.
Yet trust thee in thy single might,
If thy heart be pure and thy spirit right,
Thou shalt win the warlock fight.

IX.

'If the spray-bead gem be won,
The stain of thy wing is washed away,
But another errand must be done
Ere thy crime be lost for aye;
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
Thou must re-illume its spark.
Mount thy steed and spur him high
To the heaven's blue canopy;
And when thou seest a shooting star,
Follow it fast, and follow it far -
The last faint spark of its burning train
Shall light the elfin lamp again.
Thou hast heard our sentence, Fay;
Hence! to the water-side, away!'

X.

The goblin marked his monarch well;
He spake not, but he bowed him low,
Then plucked a crimson colen-bell,
And turned him round in act to go.
The way is long, he cannot fly,
His soiled wing has lost its power,
And he winds adown the mountain high,
For many a sore and weary hour.
Through dreary beds of tangled fern,
Through groves of nightshade dark and dern,
Over the grass and through the brake,
Where toils the ant and sleeps the snake;
Now o'er the violet's azure flush
He skips along in lightsome mood;
And now he thrids the bramble bush,
Till its points are dyed in fairy blood.
He has leapt the bog, he has pierced the briar,
He has swum the brook, and waded the mire,
Till his spirits sank, and his limbs grew weak,
And the red waxed fainter in his cheek.
He had fallen to the ground outright,
For rugged and dim was his onward track,
But there came a spotted toad in sight,
And he laughed as he jumped upon her back;
He bridled her mouth with a silk-weed twist;
He lashed her sides with an osier thong;
And now through evening's dewy mist,
With leap and spring they bound along,
Till the mountain's magic verge is past,
And the beach of sand is reached at last.

XI.

Soft and pale is the moony beam,
Moveless still the glassy stream,
The wave is clear, the beach is bright
With snowy shells and sparkling stones;
The shore-surge comes in ripples light,
In murmurings faint and distant moans;
And ever afar in the silence deep
Is heard the splash of the sturgeon's leap,
And the bend of his graceful bow is seen -
A glittering arch of silver sheen,
Spanning the wave of burnished blue,
And dripping with gems of the river dew.

XII.

The elfin cast a glance around,
As he lighted down from his courser toad,
Then round his breast his wings he wound,
And close to the river's brink he strode;
He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer,
Above his head his arms he threw,
Then tossed a tiny curve in air,
And headlong plunged in the waters blue.

XIII.

Up sprung the spirits of the waves,
From sea-silk beds in their coral caves,
With snail-plate armour snatched in haste,
They speed their way through the liquid waste;
Some are rapidly borne along
On the mailed shrimp or the prickly prong,
Some on the blood-red leeches glide,
Some on the stony star-fish ride,
Some on the back of the lancing squab,
Some on the sidelong soldier-crab;
And some on the jellied quarl, that flings
At once a thousand streamy stings -
They cut the wave with the living oar
And hurry on to the moonlight shore,
To guard their realms and chase away
The footsteps of the invading Fay.

XIV.

Fearlessly he skims along,
His hope is high, and his limbs are strong,
He spreads his arms like the swallow's wing,
And throws his feet with a frog-like fling;
His locks of gold on the waters shine,
At his breast the tiny foam-beads rise,
His back gleams bright above the brine,
And the wake-line foam behind him lies.
But the water-sprites are gathering near
To check his course along the tide;
Their warriors come in swift career
And hem him round on every side;
On his thigh the leech has fixed his hold,
The quarl's long arms are round him roll'd,
The prickly prong has pierced his skin,
And the squab has thrown his javelin,
The gritty star has rubbed him raw,
And the crab has struck with his giant claw;
He howls with rage, and he shrieks with pain,
He strikes around, but his blows are vain;
Hopeless is the unequal fight,
Fairy! nought is left but flight.

XV.

He turned him round and fled amain
With hurry and dash to the beach again;
He twisted over from side to side,
And laid his cheek to the cleaving tide.
The strokes of his plunging arms are fleet,
And with all his might he flings his feet,
But the water-sprites are round him still,
To cross his path and work him ill.
They bade the wave before him rise;
They flung the sea-fire in his eyes,
And they stunned his ears with the scallop stroke,
With the porpoise heave and the drum-fish croak.
Oh! but a weary wight was he
When he reached the foot of the dog-wood tree;
- Gashed and wounded, and stiff and sore,
He laid him down on the sandy shore;
He blessed the force of the charmed line,
And he banned the water-goblin's spite,
For he saw around in the sweet moonshine,
Their little wee faces above the brine,
Giggling and laughing with all their might
At the piteous hap of the Fairy wight.

XVI.

Soon he gathered the balsam dew
From the sorrel leaf and the henbane bud;
Over each wound the balm he drew,
And with cobweb lint he stanched the blood.
The mild west wind was soft and low,
It cooled the heat of his burning brow,
And he felt new life in his sinews shoot,
As he drank the juice of the cal'mus root;
And now he treads the fatal shore,
As fresh and vigorous as before.

XVII.

Wrapped in musing stands the sprite:
'Tis the middle wane of night,
His task is hard, his way is far,
But he must do his errand right
Ere dawning mounts her beamy car,
And rolls her chariot wheels of light;
And vain are the spells of fairy-land,
He must work with a human hand.

XVIII.

He cast a saddened look around,
But he felt new joy his bosom swell,
When, glittering on the shadowed ground,
He saw a purple muscle shell;
Thither he ran, and he bent him low,
He heaved at the stern and he heaved at the bow,
And he pushed her over the yielding sand,
Till he came to the verge of the haunted land.
She was as lovely a pleasure boat
As ever fairy had paddled in,
For she glowed with purple paint without,
And shone with silvery pearl within;
A sculler's notch in the stern he made,
An oar he shaped of the bootle blade;
Then spung to his seat with a lightsome leap,
And launched afar on the calm blue deep.

XIX.

The imps of the river yell and rave;
They had no power above the wave,
But they heaved the billow before the prow,
And they dashed the surge against her side,
And they struck her keel with jerk and blow,
Till the gunwale bent to the rocking tide.
She wimpled about in the pale moonbeam,
Like a feather that floats on a wind tossed-stream;
And momently athwart her track
The quarl upreared his island back,
And the fluttering scallop behind would float,
And patter the water about the boat;
But he bailed her out with his colen-bell,
And he kept her trimmed with a wary tread,
While on every side like lightening fell
The heavy strokes of his bootle-blade.

XX.

Onward still he held his way,
Till he came where the column of moonshine lay,
And saw beneath the surface dim
The brown-backed sturgeon slowly swim:
Around him were the goblin train -
But he sculled with all his might and main,
And followed wherever the sturgeon led,
Till he saw him upward point his head;
Then he dropped his paddle blade,
And held his colen goblet up
To catch the drop in its crimson cup.

XXI.

With sweeping tail and quivering fin,
Through the wave the sturgeon flew,
And, like the heaven-shot javelin,
He sprug above the waters blue.
Instant as the star-fall light,
He plunged him in the deep again,
But left an arch of silver bright
The rainbow of the moony main.
It was a strange and lovely sight
To see the puny goblin there;
He seemed an angel form of light,
With azure wing and sunny hair,
Throned on a cloud of purple fair,
Circled with blue and edged with white,
And sitting at the fall of even
Beneath the bow of summer heaven.

XXII.

A moment and its lustre fell,
But ere it met the billow blue,
He caught within his crimson bell,
A droplet of its sparkling dew -
Joy to thee, Fay! thy task is done,
Thy wings are pure, for the gem is won -
Cheerly ply thy dripping oar,
And haste away to the elfin shore.

XXIII.

He turns, and lo! on either side
The ripples on his path divide;
And the track o'er which his boat must pass
Is smooth as a sheet of polished glass.
Around, their limbs the sea-nymphs lave,
With snowy arms half swelling out,
While on the glossed and gleamy wave
Their sea-green ringlets loosely float;
They swim around with smile and song;
They press the bark with pearly hand,
And gently urge her course along,
Toward the beach of speckled sand;
And, as he lightly leapt to land,
They bade adieu with nod and bow,
Then gayly kissed each little hand,
And dropped in the crystal deep below.

XXIV.

A moment staied the fairy there;
He kissed the beach and breathed a prayer,
Then spread his wings of gilded blue,
And on to the elfin court he flew;
As ever ye saw a bubble rise,
And shine with a thousand changing dyes,
Till lessening far through ether driven,
It mingles with the hues of heaven:
As, at the glimpse of morning pale,
The lance-fly spreads his silken sail,
And gleams with blendings soft and bright,
Till lost in the shades of fading night;
So rose from earth the lovely Fay -
So vanished, far in heaven away!

* * * * * * * * *

Up, Fairy! quit thy chick-weed bower,
The cricket has called the second hour,
Twice again, and the lark will rise
To kiss the streaking of the skies -
Up! thy charmed armour don,
Thou'lt need it ere the night be gone.

XXV.

He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of the thistle down:
The corslet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee's golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes,
Was formed of the wings of butterflies;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug queen,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandished bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he bestrode his fire-fly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle seed,
And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.

XXVI.

The moth-fly, as he shot in air,
Crept under the leaf, and hid her there;
The katy-did forgot its lay,
The prowling gnat fled fast away,
The fell mosqueto checked his drone
And folded his wings till the Fay was gone,
And the wily beetle dropped his head,
And fell on the ground as if he were dead;
They crouched them close in the darksome shade,
They quaked all o'er with awe and fear,
For they had felt the blue-bent blade,
And writhed at the prick of the elfin spear;
Many a time on a summer's night,
When the sky was clear and the moon was bright,
They had been roused from the haunted ground,
By the yelp and bay of the fairy hound;
They had heard the tiny bugle horn,
They had heard of twang of the maize-silk string,
When the vine-twig bows were tightly drawn,
And the nettle-shaft through the air was borne,
Feathered with down the hum-bird's wing.
And now they deemed the courier ouphe,
Some hunter sprite of the elfin ground;
And they watched till they saw him mount the roof
That canopies the world around;
Then glad they left their covert lair,
And freaked about in the midnight air.

XXVII.

Up to the vaulted firmament
His path the fire-fly courser bent,
And at every gallop on the wind,
He flung a glittering spark behind;
He flies like a feather in the blast
Till the first light cloud in heaven is past,
But the shapes of air have begun their work,
And a drizzly mist is round him cast,
He cannot see through the mantle murk,
He shivers with cold, but he urges fast,
Through storm and darkness, sleet and shade,
He lashes his steed and spurs amain,
For shadowy hands have twitched the rein,
And flame-shot tongues around him played,
And near him many a fiendish eye
Glared with a fell malignity,
And yells of rage, and shrieks of fear,
Came screaming on his startled ear.

XXVIII.

His wings are wet around his breast,
The plume hangs dripping from his crest,
His eyes are blur'd with the lightning's glare,
And his ears are stunned with the thunder's blare,
But he gave a shout, and his blade he drew,
He thrust before and he struck behind,
Till he pierced their cloudy bodies through,
And gashed their shadowy limbs of wind;
Howling the misty spectres flew,
They rend the air with frightful cries,
For he has gained the welkin blue,
And the land of clouds beneath him lies.

XXIX.

Up to the cope careering swift
In breathless motion fast,
Fleet as the swallow cuts the drift,
Or the sea-roc rides the blast,
The sapphire sheet of eve is shot,
The sphered moon is past,
The earth but seems a tiny blot
On a sheet of azure cast.
O! it was sweet in the clear moonlight,
To tread the starry plain of even,
To meet the thousand eyes of night,
And feel the cooling breath of heaven!
But the Elfin made no stop or stay
Till he came to the bank of the milky-way,
Then he checked his courser's foot,
And watched for the glimpse of the planet-shoot.

XXX.

Sudden along the snowy tide
That swelled to meet their footstep's fall,
The sylphs of heaven were seen to glide,
Attired in sunset's crimson pall;
Around the Fay they weave the dance,
They skip before him on the plain,
And one has taken his wasp-sting lance,
And one upholds his bridle rein;
With warblings wild they lead him on
To where through clouds of amber seen,
Studded with stars, resplendent shone
The palace of the sylphid queen.
Its spiral columns gleaming bright
Were streamers of the northern light;
Its curtain's light and lovely flush
Was of the morning's rosy blush,
And the ceiling fair that rose aboon
The white and feathery fleece of noon.

XXXI.

But oh! how fair the shape that lay
Beneath a rainbow bending bright,
She seemed to the entranced Fay
The loveliest of the forms of light;
Her mantle was the purple rolled
At twilight in the west afar;
'Twas tied with threads of dawning gold,
And buttoned with a sparkling star.
Her face was like the lily roon
That veils the vestal planet's hue;
Her eyes, two beamlets from the moon,
Set floating in the welkin blue.
Her hair is like the sunny beam,
And the diamond gems which round it gleam
Are the pure drops of dewy even
That ne'er have left their native heaven.

XXXII.

She raised her eyes to the wondering sprite,
And they leapt with smiles, for well I ween
Never before in the bowers of light
Had the form of an earthly Fay been seen.
Long she looked in his tiny face;
Long with his butterfly cloak she played;
She smoothed his wings of azure lace,
And handled the tassel of his blade;
And as he told in accents low
The story of his love and wo,
She felt new pains in her bosom rise,
And the tear-drop started in her eyes.
And 'O sweet spirit of earth,' she cried,
'Return no more to your woodland height,
But ever here with me abide
In the land of everlasting light!
Within the fleecy drift we'll lie,
We'll hang upon the rainbow's rim;
And all the jewels of the sky
Around thy brow shall brightly beam!
And thou shalt bathe thee in the stream
That rolls its whitening foam aboon,
And ride upon the lightning's gleam,
And dance upon the orbed moon!
We'll sit within the Pleiad ring,
We'll rest on Orion's starry belt,
And I will bid my sylphs to sing
The song that makes the dew-mist melt;
Their harps are of the umber shade,
That hides the blush of waking day,
And every gleamy string is made
Of silvery moonshine's lengthened ray;
And thou shalt pillow on my breast,
While heavenly breathings float around,
And, with the sylphs of ether blest,
Forget the joys of fairy ground.'

XXXIII.

She was lovely and fair to see
And the elfin's heart beat fitfully;
But lovelier far, and still more fair,
The earthly form imprinted there;
Nought he saw in the heavens above
Was half so dear as his mortal love,
For he thought upon her looks so meek,
And he thought of the light flush on her cheek;
Never again might he bask and lie
On that sweet cheek and moonlight eye,
But in his dreams her form to see,
To clasp her in his reverie,
To think upon his virgin bride,
Was worth all heaven and earth beside.

XXXIV.

'Lady,' he cried, 'I have sworn to-night,
On the word of a fairy knight,
To do my sentence-task aright;
My honour scarce is free from stain,
I may not soil its snows again;
Betide me weal, betide me wo,
Its mandate must be answered now.'
Her bosom heaved with many a sigh,
The tear was in her drooping eye;
But she led him to the palace gate,
And called the sylphs who hovered there,
And bade them fly and bring him straight
Of clouds condensed a sable car.
With charm and spell she blessed it there,
From all the fiends of upper air;
Then round him cast the shadowy shroud,
And tied his steed behind the cloud;
And pressed his hand as she bade him fly
Far to the verge of the northern sky,
For by its wane and wavering light
There was a star would fall to-night.

XXXV.

Borne after on the wings of the blast,
Northward away, he speeds him fast,
And his courser follows the cloudy wain
Till the hoof-strokes fall like pattering rain.
The clouds roll backward as he flies,
Each flickering star behind him lies,
And he has reached the northern plain,
And backed his fire-fly steed again,
Ready to follow in its flight
The streaming of the rocket-light.

XXXVI.

The star is yet in the vault of heaven,
But its rocks in the summer gale;
And now 'tis fitful and uneven,
And now 'tis deadly pale;
And now 'tis wrapp'd in sulphur smoke,
And quenched is its rayless beam,
And now with a rattling thunder-stroke
It bursts in flash and flame.
As swift as the glance of the arrowy lance
That the storm-spirit flings from high,
The star-shot flew o'er the welkin blue,
As it fell from the sheeted sky.
As swift as the wind in its trail behind
The elfin gallops along,
The fiends of the clouds are bellowing loud,
But the sylphid charm is strong;
He gallops unhurt in the shower of fire,
While the cloud-fiends fly from the blaze;
He watches each flake till its sparks expire,
And rides in the light of its rays.
But he drove his steed to the lightning's speed,
And caught a glimmering spark;
Then wheeled around to the fairy ground,
And sped through the midnight dark.

* * * * * * * * *

Ouphe and goblin! imp and sprite!
Elf of eve! and starry Fay!
Ye that love the moon's soft light,
Hither - hither wend your way;
Twine ye in the jocund ring,
Sing and trip it merrily,
Hand to hand, and wing to wing,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

Hail the wanderer again,
With dance and song, and lute and lyre,
Pure his wing and strong his chain,
And doubly bright his fairy fire.
Twine ye in an airy round,
Brush the dew and print the lea;
Skip and gambol, hop and bound,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

The beetle guards our holy ground,
He flies about the haunted place,
And if mortal there be found,
He hums in his ears and flaps his face;
The leaf-harp sounds our roundelay,
The owlet's eyes our lanterns be;
Thus we sing, and dance and play,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree.

But hark! from tower on tree-top high,
The sentry elf his call has made,
A streak is in the eastern sky,
Shapes of moonlight! flit and fade!
The hill-tops gleam in morning's spring,
The sky-lark shakes his dappled wing,
The day-glimpse glimmers on the lawn,
The cock has crowed, the Fays are gone.

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The Bridal Of Triermain

Introduction.
I.
Come Lucy! while 'tis morning hour
The woodland brook we needs must pass;
So, ere the sun assume his power,
We shelter in our poplar bower,
Where dew lies long upon the flower,
Though vanish'd from the velvet grass.
Curbing the stream, this stony ridge
May serve us for a silvan bridge;
For here, compell'd to disunite,
Round petty isles the runnels glide,
And chafing off their puny spite,
The shallows murmurers waste their might,
Yielding to footstep free and light
A dry-shod pass from side to side.

II.
Nay, why this hesitating pause?
And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws,
Why sidelong eye the streamlet's brim?
Titania's foot without a slip,
Like, thine, though timid, light, and slim,
From stone to stone might safely trip,
Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip
That binds her slipper's silken rim.
Or trust thy lover's strength; nor fear
That this same stalwart arm of mine,
Which could yon oak's prone trunk uprear,
Shall shrink beneath, the burden dear
Of form so slender, light, and fine;
So! now, the danger dared at last,
Look back, and smile at perils past!

III.
And now we reach the favourite glade,
Paled in copsewood, cliff, and stone,
Where never harsher sounds invade,
To break affection's whispering tone,
Than the deep breeze that waves the shade,
Than the small brooklet's feeble moan.
Come! rest thee on thy wonted seat;
Moss'd is the stone, the turf is green,
A place where lovers best may meet
Who would not that their love be seen.
The boughs, that dim the summer sky,
Shall hide us from each lurking spy,
That fain would spread the invidious tale,
How Lucy of the lofty eye,
Noble in birth, in fortunes high,
She for whom lords and barons sigh,
Meets her poor Arthur in the dale.

IV.
How deep that blush! - how deep that sigh!
And why does Lucy shun mine eye?
Is it because that crimson draws
Its colour from some secret cause,
Some hidden movement of the breast
She would not that her Arthur guess'd?
O! quicker far is lovers' ken
Than the dull glance of common men,
And, by strange sympathy, can spell
The thoughts the loved one will not tell!
And mine, in Lucy's blush, saw met
The hues of pleasure and regret;
Pride mingled in the sigh her voice,
And shared with Love the crimson glow;
Well pleased that thou art Arthur's choice,
Yet shamed thine own is placed so low:
Thou turn'st thy self-confessing cheek,
As if to meet the breeze's cooling:
Then, Lucy, hear thy tutor speak,
For Love, too, has his hours of schooling.

V.
Too oft my anxious eye has spied
That secret grief thou fain wouldst hide,
The passing pang of humbled pride;
Too oft, when through the splendid hall,
The load-star of each heart and eye,
My fair one leads the glittering ball,
Will her stol'n glance on Arthur fall,
With such a blush and such a sigh!
Thou wouldst not yield, for wealth or rank,
The heart thy worth and beauty won,
Nor leave me on this mossy bank,
To meet a rival on a throne:
Why, then, should vain repinings rise,
That to thy lover fate denies
A nobler name, a wide domain,
A Baron's birth, a menial train,
Since Heaven assign'd him, for his part,
A lyre, a falchion, and a heart?

VI.
My sword - its master must be dumb;
But, when a soldier names my name,
Approach, my Lucy! fearless come,
Nor dread to hear of Arthur's shame.
My heart! 'mid all yon courtly crew
Of lordly rank and lofty line,
Is there to love and honour true,
That boasts a pulse so warm as mine?
They praised thy diamonds' lustre rare -
Match'd with thine eyes, I thought it faded;
They praised the pearls that bound thy hair-
I saw only the locks they braided;
They talk'd of wealthy dower and land,
And titles of high birth the token -
I thought of Lucy's heart and hand,
Nor knew the sense of what was spoken.
And yet, if rank'd in Fortune's roll,
I might have learn'd their choice unwise,
Who rate the dower above the soul,
And Lucy's diamonds o'er her eyes.

VII.
My lyre - it is an idle toy,
That borrows accents not its own,
Like warbler of Colombian sky,
That sings in a mimic tone.
Ne'er did it sound o'er sainted well,
Nor boasts it aught of Border spell;
It strings no feudal slogan pour,
Its heroes draw no broad claymore;
No shouting clans applauses raise,
Because it sung their father's praise;
On Scottish moor, or English down,
It ne'er was graced with fair renown;
Norwon - best meed to minstrel true -
One favouring smile from fair BUCCLEUCH!
By one poor streamlet sounds its tone,
And heard by one dear maid alone.

VIII.
But, if thou bid'st, these tones shall tell
Of errant knight, and damozelle;
Of a dread knot a Wizard tied,
In punishment of maiden's pride,
In notes of marvel and of fear,
That best may charm romantic ear.
For Lucy loves (like COLLINS, ill-starred name,
Whose lay's requital was that tardy fame,
Who bound no laurel round his living head,
Should hang it o'er his monument when dead)
For Lucy loves to tread enchanted strand,
And thread, like him, the maze of fairy land;
Of golden battlements to view the gleam,
And slumber soft by some Elysian stream;
Such lays she loves; and, such my Lucy's choice,
What other song can claim her Poet's voice?


Canto I.


I.
Where is the maiden of mortal strain
That may match with the Baron of Triermain?
She must be lovely, and constant, and kind,
Holy and pure, and humble of mind,
Blithe of cheer, and gentle of mood,
Courteous, and generous, and noble of blood,
Lovely as the sun's first ray
When it breaks the clouds of an April day;
Constant and true as the widow'd dove,
Kind as a minstrel that sings of love;
Pure as the fountain in rocky cave,
Where never sunbeam kiss'd the wave;
Humble as a maiden that loves in vain,
Holy as a hermit's vesper strain;
Gentle as a breeze that but whispers and dies,
Yet blithe as the light leaves that dance in its sighs;
Courteous as monarch the morn he is crown'd,
Generous as spring-dews that bless the glad ground;
Noble her blood as the currents that met
In the veins of the noblest Plantangenet:
Such must her form be, her mood and her strain,
That shall match with Sir Roland of Triermain.

II.
Sir Roland de Vaux he hath laid him to sleep,
His blood it was fever'd, his breathing was deep.
He had been pricking against the Scot,
The foray was long, and the skirmish hot;
His dinted helm and his buckler's plight
Bore token of a stubborn fight.
All in the castle must hold them still,
Harpers must lull him to his rest
With the slow soft tunes he loves the best,
Till sleep sink down upon his breast
Like the dew on a summer hill.

III.
It was the dawn of an autumn day;
The sun was struggling with a frost-fog grey,
That like a silvery crape was spread
Round Skiddaw's dim and distant head,
And faintly gleam'd each painted pane
Of the lordly halls of Triermain,
When that Baron bold awoke.
Starting he woke, and loudly did call,
Rousing his menials in bower and hall,
While hastily he spoke.

IV.
'Hearken, my minstrels! which of ye all
Touch'd his harp with that dying fall,
So sweet, so soft, so faint,
It seem'd an angel's whisper'd call
To an expiring saint?
And harken, my merry men! what time or where
Did she pass, that maid with her heavenly brow,
With her look so sweet and her eyes so fair,
And her graceful step and her angel air,
And the eagle plume in her dark-brown hair,
That pass'd from my bower e'en now?'

V.
Answer'd him Richard de Bretville - he
Was chief of the Baron's minstrelsy:
'Silent, noble chieftain, we
Have sat since midnight close,
When such lulling sounds as the brooklet sings
Murmur'd from our melting strings
And hush'd you to repose.
Had a harp-note sounded here
It had caught my watchful ear,
Although it fell as faint and shy
As bashful maiden's half-form'd sigh,
When she thinks her lover near.'
Answer'd Philip of Fasthwaite tall -
He kept guard in the outer hall:
'Since at eve our watch took post,
Not a foot has thy portal cross'd;
Else had I heard the steps, though low
And light they fell, as when the earth receives,
In morn of frost, the wither'd leaves
That drop when no winds blow.'

VI.
'Then come thou hither, Henry, my page,
Whom I saved from the sack of Hermitage,
When that dark castle, tower, and spire,
Rose to the skies a pile of fire.
And redden'd all the Nine-stane Hill,
And the shrieks of death, that wildly broke
Through devouring flame and smothering smoke,
Made the warrior's heart-blood chill.
The trustiest thou of all my train,
My fleetest courser thou must rein,
And ride to Lyulph's tower,
And from the Baron of Treirmain
Greet well that sage of power.
He is sprung from Druid sires,
And British bards that tuned their lyres
To Arthur's and Pendragon's praise,
And his who sleeps at Dunmailraise.
Gifted like his gifted race,
He the characters can trace,
Graven deep in elder time,
Upon Helvellyn's cliffs sublime;
Sign and sigil well doth he know,
And can bode of weal and woe,
Of kingdoms' fall, and fate of wars,
From mystic dreams and course of stars.
He shall tell if middle earth,
To that enchanting shape gave birth,
Of if t'was but an airy thing,
Such as fantastic slumbers bring,
Fram'd from the rainbow's varying dyes
Or fading tints of western skies.
For, by the Blessed Rood I swear,
If that fair form breathe vital air,
No other maiden by my side
Shall ever rest De Vaux's bride!'

VII.
The faithful Page he mounts his steed,
And soon he cross'd green Irthing's mead,
Dash'd o'er Kirkoswald's verdant plain,
And Eden barr'd his course in vain.
He pass'd red Penrith's Table Round,
For feats of chivalry renown'd.
Left Mayburgh's mound and stones of power,
By Druid's raised in magic hour,
And traced the Eamont's winding way,
Till Ulfo's lake beneath him lay.

VIII.
Onward he rode, the pathway still
Winding betwixt the lake and hill;
Till, on the fragment of a rock,
Struck from its base by lightning shock,
He saw the hoary Sage;
The silver moss and lichen twined,
With fern and deer-hair check'd and lined,
A cushion fit for age;
And o'er him shook the aspen-tree,
A restless, rustling canopy.
Then sprung young Henry from his selle,
And greeted Lyulph grave;
And then his master's tale did tell,
And then for counsel crave.
The Man of Years mused long and deep,
Of time's lost treasures taking keep,
And then, as rousing from a sleep,
His solemn answer gave.

IX.
'That maid is born of middle earth,
And may of man be won,
Though there have glided since her birth
Five hundred years and one,
But where's the knight in all the north
That dare the adventure follow forth,
So perilous to knightly worth,
In the valley of Saint John?
Listen, youth, to what I tell,
And bind it on thy memory well;
Nor muse that I commence the rhyme
Far distant 'mid the wrecks of time.
The mystic tale, by bard and sage,
Is handed down from Merlin's age.


X.


LYULPH'S TALE

'King Arthur has ridden from merry Carlisle
When Pentecost was o'er:
He journey'd like errant-knight the while,
And sweetly the summer sun did smile
On mountain, moss, and moor.
Above his solitary track
Rose Glaramara's ridgy back,
Amid whose yawning gulfs the sun
Cast umber'd radiance red and dun,
Though never sunbeam could discern
The surface of that sable tarn,
In whose black mirror you may spy
The stars, while noontide lights the sky.
The gallant King he skirted still
The margin of that mighty hill;
Rock upon rocks incumbent hung,
And torrents down the gullies flung,
Join'd the rude river that brawl'd on,
Recoiling now from crag and stone,
Now diving deep from human ken,
And raving down its darksome glen.
The Monarch judged this desert wild,
With such romantic ruin piled,
Was theatre by Nature's hand
For feat of high achievement plann'd.

XI.
'O rather he chose, that Monarch bold,
On vent'rous quest to ride,
In plate and mail, by wood and wold,
Than, with ermine trapp'd and cloth of gold,
In princely bower to bide:
The bursting crash of a foeman's spear
As it shiver'd against his mail,
Was merrier music to his ear
Than courtier's whisper'd tale:
And the clash of Caliburn more dear,
When on the hostile casque it rung,
Than all the lays
To their monarch's praise
That the harpers of Reged sung.
He loved better to rest by wood or river,
Than in bower of his bride, Dame Guenever,
For he left that lady, so lovely of cheer,
To follow adventures of danger and fear;
And the frank-hearted Monarch full little did wot
That she smiled in his absence, on brave Lancelot.


XII.
'He rode, till over down and dell
The shade more broad and deeper fell;
And though around the mountain's head
Flow'd streams of purple, and gold, and red,
Dark at the base, unblest by beam
Frown'd the black rocks, and roar'd the stream.
With toil the King his way pursued
By lonely Threlkeld's waste and wood,
Till on his course obliquely shone
The narrow valley of SAINT JOHN,
Down sloping to the western sky,
Where lingering sunbeams love to lie.
Right glad to feel those beams again,
The King drew up his charger's rein;
With gauntlet raised he screen'd his sight,
As dazzled with the level light,
And, from beneath his glove of mail,
Scann'd at his ease his the lovely vale,
While 'gainst the sun his armour bright
Gleam'd ruddy like the beacon's light.

XIII.
'Paled in by many a lofty hill,
The narrow dale lay smooth and still,
And, down its verdant bosom led,
A winding brooklet found its bed.
But, midmost of the vale, a mound
Arose with airy turrets crown'd,
Buttress, and rampire's circling bound
And mighty keep and tower;
Seem'd some primeval giant's hand
The castle's massive walls had plann'd,
A ponderous bulwark to withstand
Ambitious Nimrod's power.
Above the moated entrance slung,
The balanced drawbridge trembling hung,
As jealous of a foe;
Wicket of oak, as iron hard,
With iron studded, clench'd, and barr'd,
And prong'd portcullis, join'd to guard
The gloomy pass below.
But the grey walls, no banners crown'd,
Upon the watch-tower's airy round
No warder stood his horn to sound,
No guard beside the drawbridge was found,
And, where the Gothic gateway frown'd
Glanced neither bill nor bow.

XIV.
'Beneath the castle's gloomy pride
In ample round did Arthur ride
Three times; nor living thing he spied,
Nor heard a living sound,
Save that, awakening from her dream,
The owlet now began to scream,
In concert with the rushing stream,
That wash'd the battled mound.
He lighted from his goodly steed,
And left him to graze on bank and mead;
And slowly he climb'd the narrow way
That reach'd the entrance grim and grey,
And he stood the outward arch below,
And his bugle-horn prepared to blow,
In summons blithe and bold,
Deeming to rouse from iron sleep
The guardian of this dismal Keep,
Which well he guess'd the hold
Of wizard stern, or goblin grim,
Or pagan of gigantic limb,
The tyrant of the wold.

XV.
'The ivory bugle's golden tip
Twice touch'd the Monarch's manly lip,
And twice his hand withdrew.
Think not but Arthur's heart was good!
His shield was cross'd by the blessed rood,
Had a pagan host before him stood
He had charged them through and through;
Yet the silence of that ancient place
Sunk on his heart, and he paused a space
Ere yet his horn he blew.
But, instant as its 'larum rung,
The castle gate was open flung,
Portcullis rose with crashing groan
Full harshly up its groove of stone;
And down the trembling drawbridge cast;
The vaulted arch before him lay,
With nought to bar the gloomy way,
And onward Arthur paced, with hand
On Caliburn's resistless brand.

XVI.
'An hundred torches, flashing bright,
Dispell'd at once the gloomy night
That lour'd along the walls,
And show'd the King's astonish'd sight
The inmates of the halls.
Nor wizard stern, nor goblin grim,
Nor giant huge of form and limb,
Nor heathen knight, was there;
But the cressets, which odours flung aloft,
Show'd by their yellow light and soft,
A band of damsels fair.
Onward they came, like summer wave
That dances to the shore;
An hundred voices welcome gave,
And welcome o'er and o'er!
An hundred lovely hands assail
The bucklers of the Monarch's mail,
And busy labour'd to unhasp
Rivet of steel and iron clasp,
One wrapp'd him in a mantle fair,
And one flung odours on his hair;
His short curl'd ringlets one smooth'd down,
One wreath'd them in a myrtle crown.
A bride upon her wedding-day
Was tended ne'er by troop so gay.

XVII.
'Loud laugh'd they all,- the King, in vain,
With questions task'd the giddy train;
Let him entreat, or crave, or call,
'Twas one reply - loud laugh'd they all.
Then o'er him mimic chains they fling,
Framed of the fairest flowers of spring.
While some of their gentle force unite
Onwards to drag the wondering knight;
Some, bolder, urge his pace with blows,
Dealt with the lily or the rose.
Behind him were in triumph borne
The warlike arms he late had worn.
Four of the train combined to rear
The terrors of Tintadgel's spear;
Two, laughing at their lack of strength,
Dragg'd Caliburn in cumbrous length;
One, while she aped a martial stride,
Placed on her brows the helmit's pride;
Then scream'd, 'twixt laughter and surprise,
To feel its depth o'erwhelm her eyes.
With revel-shout, and triumph-song,
Thus gaily march'd the giddy throng.

XVIII.
'Through many a gallery and hall
They led, I ween, their royal thrall;
At length, beneath a fair arcade
Their march and song at once they staid.
The eldest maiden of the band
(The lovely maid was scarce eighteen)
Raised, with imposing air, her hand
And reverent silence did command,
On entrance of their Queen,
And they were mute, - But as a glance
They steal on Arthur's countenance
Bewilder'd with surprise,
Their smother'd mirth again 'gan speak,
In archly dimpled chin and cheek,
And laughter-lighted eyes.

XIX.
'The attributes of those high days
Now only live in minstrel lays;
For Nature, now exhausted, still
Was then profuse of good and ill.
Strength was gigantic, valour high,
And wisdom soar'd beyond the sky,
And beauty had such matchless beam
As lights not now a lover's dream.
Yet e'en in that romantic age,
Ne'er were such charms by mortal seen,
As Arthur's dazzled eyes engage,
When forth on that enchanted stage,
With glittering train of maid and page,
Advanced the castle's Queen!
While up the hall she slowly pass'd
Her dark eye on the King she cast,
That flash'd expression strong;
The longer dwelt that lingering look,
Her cheek the livelier colour took,
And scarce the shame-faced King could brook
The gaze that lasted long.
A sage, who had that look espied,
Where kindling passion strove with pride,
Had whispered, 'Prince, beware!
From the chafed tiger rend the prey,
Rush on the lion when at bay
Bar the fell dragon's blighted way,
But shun that lovely snare!'

XX.
'At once, that inward strife suppress'd,
The dame approach'd her warlike guest,
With greeting in that fair degree,
Where female pride and courtesy
Are blended with such passing art
As awes at once and charms the heart.
A courtly welcome first she gave,
Then of his goodness 'gan to crave
Construction fair and true
Of her light maidens' idle mirth
Who drew from lovely glens their birth,
Nor knew to pay to stranger worth
And dignity their due;
Then she pray'd that he would rest
That night her castle's honour'd guest.
The Monarch meetly thanks express'd;
The banquet rose at her behest;
With lay and tale, and laugh and jest,
Apace the evening flew.

XXI.
'The Lady sate the Monarch by,
Now in her turn abash'd and shy,
And with indifference seem'd to hear
They toys he whisper'd in her ear.
Her bearing modest was and fair,
Yet shadows of constraint were there,
That show'd an over-cautious care
Some inward thought to hide;
Oft did she pause in full reply,
And oft cast down her large dark eye,
Oft check'd the soft voluptuous sigh
That heav'd her bosom's pride.
Slight symptoms these, but shepherds know
How hot the mid-day sun shall glow
From the midst of morning sky;
And so the wily Monarch guess'd
That this assumed restraint express'd
More ardent passions in the breast
Than ventured to the eye.
Closer he press'd, while beakers rang,
While maidens laugh'd and minstrels sang,
Still closer to her ear -
But why pursue the common tale?
Or wherefore show how knights prevail
When ladies dare to hear?
Or wherefore, trace, from what slight cause
Its source one tyrant passion draws,
Till, mastering all within,
Where lives the man that has not tried
How mirth can into folly glide,
And folly into sin?

Canto II.


I.
'Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away!
The Saxon stern, the pagan Dane,
Maraud on Britain's shores again.
Arthur, of Christendom the flower,
Lies loitering in a lady's bower;
The horn, that foemen wont to fear,
Sounds but to wake the Cumbrian deer,
And Caliburn, the British pride,
Hangs useless by a lover's side.

II.
'Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away!
Heroic plans in pleasure drown'd,
He thinks not of the Table Round;
In lawless love dissolved his life,
He thinks not of his beauteous wife:
Better he loves to snatch a flower
From the bosom of his paramour,
Than from a Saxon knight to wrest
The honours of his heathen crest!
Better to wreathe, 'mid tresses brown,
The heron's plume her hawk struck down,
Than o'er the alter give to flow
The banners of a Paynim foe.
Thus, week by week, and day by day,
His life inglorious glides away:
But she, that soothes his dream, with fear
Beholds his hour of waking near!

III.
'Much force have mortal charms to stay
Our peace in Virtue's toilsome way;
But Guendolen's might far outshine
Each maid of merely mortal line.
Her mother was of human birth,
Her sire a Genie of the earth,
In days of old deem'd to preside
O'er lovers' wiles and beauty's pride,
By youths and virgins worshipp'd long
With festive dance and choral song,
Till, when the cross to Britain came,
On heathen alters died the flame.
Now, deep in Wastdale solitude,
The downfall of his rights he rued,
And, born of his resentment heir,
He train'd to guile that lady fair,
To sink in slothful sin and shame
The champions of the Christian name.
Well skill'd to keep vain thoughts alive,
And all to promise, nought to give;
The timid youth had hope in store,
The bold and pressing gain'd no more.
As wilder'd children leave their home
After the rainbow's arch to roam,
Her lovers barter'd fair esteem,
Faith, fame, and honour, for a dream.

IV.
'Her sire's soft arts the soul to tame
She practised thus, till Arthur came;
Then frail humanity had part,
And all the mother claim'd her heart.
Forgot each rule her father gave,
Sunk from a princess to a slave,
Too late must Guendolen deplore;
He, that has all, can hope no more!
Now must she see her lover strain,
At every turn, her feeble chain;
Watch, to new-bind each knot, and shrink
To view each fast-decaying link.
Art she invokes to Nature's aid,
Her vest to zone, her locks to braid;
Each varied pleasure heard her call,
The feast, the tourney, and the ball:
Her storied lore she next applies,
Taxing her mind to aid her eyes;
Now more than mortal wise, and then
In female softness sunk again;
Now, raptured, with each wish complying,
With feigned reluctance now denying:
Each charm she varied, to retain
A varying heart, and all in vain!

V.
'Thus in the garden's narrow bound,
Flank'd by some castle's Gothic round,
Fain would the artist's skill provide
The limits of his realms to hide.
The walks in labyrinths he twines,
Shade after shade with skill combines,
With many a varied flowery knot,
And copse, and arbour, decks the spot,
Tempting the hasty foot to stay,
And linger on the lovely way;
Vain art! vain hope! 'tis fruitless all!
At length we reach the bounding wall,
And, sick of flower and trim-dress'd tree,
Long for rough glades and forest free.

VI.
'Three summer months had scantly flown
When Arthur, in embarrass'd tone,
Spoke of his liegemen and his throne;
Said, all too long had been his stay,
And duties, which a monarch sway,
Duties, unknown to humbler men,
Must tear her knight from Guendolen.
She listen'd silently the while,
Her mood express'd in bitter smile;
Beneath her eye must Arthur quail,
And oft resume the unfinish'd tale.
Confessing, by his downcast eye,
The wrong he sought to justify.
He ceased. A moment mute she gazed,
And then her looks to heaven she rais'd;
One palm her temples veiled, to hide
The tear that sprung in spite of pride;
The other for an instant press'd
The foldings of her silken vest!

VII.
'At her reproachful sign and look,
The hint the Monarch's conscience took.
Eager he spoke - 'No, lady, no!
Deem not of British Arthur so,
Nor think he can deserter prove
To the dear pledge of mutual love.
I swear by sceptre and by sword,
As belted knight and Britain's lord,
That if a boy shall claim my care,
That boy is born a kingdom's heir;
But if a maiden Fate allows,
To choose that maid a fitting spouse,
A summer-day in lists shall strive
My knights, the bravest knights alive,
And he, the best and bravest tried,
Shall Arthur's daughter claim for bride.'
He spoke, with voice resolved and high;
The lady deign'd him not reply.

VIII.
'At dawn of morn, ere on the brake
His matins did a warbler make,
Or stirr'd his wing to brush away
A single dewdrop from the spray,
Ere yet a sunbeam, through the mist,
The castle-battlements had kiss'd,
The gates revolve, the drawbridge falls,
And Arthur sallies from the walls.
Doff'd his soft garb of Persia's loom,
And steel from spur to helmet-plume,
His Lybian steed full proudly trode,
And joyful neigh'd beneath his load.
The Monarch gave a passing sigh
To penitence and pleasures by,
When, lo! to his astonish'd ken
Appear'd the form of Guendolen.

IX.
'Beyond the outmost wall she stood,
Attired like huntress of the wood:
Sandall'd her feet, her ankles bare,
And eagle-plumage deck'd her hair;
Firm was her look, her bearing bold,
And in her hand a cup of gold.
'Thou goest!' she said, 'and ne'er again
Must we two meet, in joy or pain.
Full fain would I this hour delay,
Though weak the wish - yet, wilt thou stay?
No! thou look'st forward. Still, attend!
Part we like lover and like friend.'
She raised the cup - 'Not this the juice
The sluggish vines of earth produce;
Pledge we, at parting, in the draught
Which Genii love!' She said, and quaff'd;
And strange unwonted lustres fly
From her flush'd cheek and sparkling eye.

X.
'The courteous Monarch bent him low,
And, stooping down from saddlebow,
Lifted the cup, in act to drink.
A drop escaped the goblet's brink -
Intense as liquid fire from hell,
Upon the charger's neck it fell.
Screaming with agony and fright,
He bolted twenty feet upright!
The peasant still can show the dint
Where his hoofs lighted on the flint.
From Arthur's hand the goblet flew,
Scattering a shower of fiery dew,
That burn'd and blighted where it fell!
The frantic steed rush'd up the dell,
As whistles from the bow the reed;
Nor bit nor rein could check his speed
Until he gain'd the hill;
Then breath and sinew fail'd apace
And, reeling from the desperate race,
He stood, exhausted, still.
The Monarch, breathless and amazed,
Back on the fatal castle gazed:
Nor tower nor donjon could he spy,
Darkening against the morning sky;
But, on the spot where they once frown'd,
The lonely streamlet brawl'd around
A tufted knoll, where dimly shone
Fragments of rock and rifted stone.
Musing on this strange hap a while,
The King wends back to fair Carlisle;
And cares, that cumber royal sway,
Wore memory of the past away.

XI.
'Full fifteen years and more were sped,
Each brought new wreaths to Arthur's head.
Twelve bloody fields, with glory fought,
The Saxons to subjection brought:
Rython, the mighty giant, slain
By his good brand, relieved Bretagne:
The Pictish Gillamore in fight,
And Roman Lucius, own'd his might;
And wide were through the world renown'd
The glories of his Table Round.
Each knight who sought adventurous fame,
To the bold court of Britain came,
And all who suffer'd causeless wrong,
From tyrant proud, or faitour strong,
Sought Arthur's presence, to complain,
Nor there for aid implored in vain.

XII.
'For this the King, with pomp and pride,
Held solemn court at Whitsuntide,
And summon'd Prince and Peer,
All who owed homage for their land
Or who craved knighthood from his hand,
Or who had succour to demand,
To come from far and near.
At such high tide were glee and game
Mingled with feats of martial fame,
For many a stranger champion came
In lists to break a spear;
And not a knight in Arthur's host,
Save that he trode on some foreign coast,
But at this Feast of Pentecost
Before him must appear.
Ah, Minstrels! when the Table Round
Arose, with all its warriors crown'd,
There was a theme for bards to sound
In triumph to their string!
Five hundred years are past and gone,
But Time shall draw his dying groan
Ere he behold the British throne
Begirt with such a ring!

XIII.
'The heralds named the appointed spot,
As Caerleon or Camelot,
Or Carlisle fair and free.
At Penrith, now, the feast was set,
And in fair Eamont's vale were met
The flower of Chivalry.
There Galahad sate with manly grace,
Yet maiden meekness in his face;
There Morolt of the iron mace,
And love-lorn Tristrem there:
And Dinadam with lively glance,
And Lanval with the fairy lance,
And Mordred with his look askance,
Brunor and Bevidere.
Why should I tell of numbers more?
Sir Cay, Sir Banier, Sir Bore,
Sir Carodac the keen,
The gentle Gawain's courteous lore,
Hector de Mares and Pellinore,
And Lancelot, that evermore
Look'd stol'n-wise on the Queen.

XIV.
'When wine and mirth did most abound,
And harpers play'd their blithest round,
A shrilly trumpet shook the ground,
And marshals cleared the ring;
A maiden, on a palfrey white,
Heading a band of damsels bright,
Paced through the circle, to alight
And kneel before the King.
Arthur, with strong emotion, saw
Her graceful boldness check'd by awe,
Her dress, like huntress of the wold,
Her bow and baldric trapp'd with gold,
Her sandall'd feet, her ankles bare,
And the eagle-plume that deck'd her hair.
Graceful her veil she backward flung;
The King, as from his seat he sprung,
Almost cried 'Guendolen!'
But 'twas a face more frank and wild,
Betwixt the woman and the child,
Where less of magic beauty smiled
Than of the race of men;
And in the forehead's haughty grace
The lines of Britain's royal race,
Pendragon's, you might ken.

XV.
'Faltering, yet gracefully she said -
'Great Prince! behold an orphan maid,
In her departed mother's name,
A father's vow'd protection claim!
The vow was sworn in desert lone,
In the deep valley of Saint John.'
At once the King the suppliant raised,
And kiss'd her brow, her beauty praised;
His vow, he said, should well be kept,
Ere in the sea the sun was dipp'd;
Then, conscious, glanced upon his queen;
But she, unruffled at the scene
Of human frailty, construed mild,
Look'd upon Lancelot, and smiled.

XVI.
''Up! up! each knight of gallant crest,
Take buckler, spear, and brand!
He that to-day shall bear him best
Shall win my Gyneth's hand.
And Arthur's daughter, when a bride,
Shall bring a noble dower;
Both fair Strath-Clyde and Reged wide,
And Carlisle town and tower.'
Then might you hear each valiant knight
To page and squire that cried,
'Bring my armour bright, and my courser wight!
'Tis not each day that a warrior's might
May win a royal bride.'
Then cloaks and caps of maintenance
In haste aside they fling;
The helmets glance, and gleams the lance,
And the steel-weaved hauberks ring.
Small care had they of their peaceful array, -
They might gather it that wolde;
For brake and bramble glitter'd gay
With pearls and cloth of gold.

XVII.
'Within trumpet sound of the Table Round
Were fifty champions free,
And they all arise to fight that prize,
They all arise but three.
Nor love's fond troth, nor wedlock's oath,
One gallant could withhold,
For priests will allow of a broken vow
For penance or for gold.
But sigh and glance from ladies bright
Among the troop were thrown,
To plead their right, and true-love plight,
And 'plain of honor flown.
The knights they busied them so fast,
With buckling spur and belt,
That sigh and look, by ladies cast,
Were neither seen or felt.
From pleading, or upbraiding glance,
Each gallant turns aside,
And only thought, 'If speeds my lance,
A queen becomes my bride!
She has fair Strath-Clyde, and Reged wide,
And Carlisle tower and town;
She is the loveliest maid, beside,
That ever heir'd a crown.'
So in haste their coursers they bestride,
And strike their visors down.

XVIII.
'The champions, arm'd in martial sort,
Have throng'd into the list,
And but three knights of Arthur's court
Are from the tourney miss'd.
And still these lovers' fame survives
For faith so constant shown, -
There were two who loved their neighbors' wives,
And one who loved his own.
The first was Lancelot de Lac,
The second Tristrem bold,
The third was valiant Carodac,
Who won the cup of gold,
What time, of all King Arthur's crew
(Thereof came jeer and laugh)
He, as the mate of lady true,
Alone the cup could quaff.
Though envy's tongue would fain surmise
That, but for very shame,
Sir Carodac, to fight that prize,
Had given both cup and dame;
Yet, since but one of that fair court
Was true to wedlock's shrine,
Brand him who will with base report,
He shall be free from mine.

XIX.
'Now caracoled the steeds in air,
Now plumes and pennons wanton'd fair,
As all around the lists so wide
In panoply the champions ride.
King Arthur saw, with startled eye,
The flower of chivalry march by,
The bulwark of the Christian creed,
The kingdom's shield in hour of need.
Too late he thought him of the woe
Might from their civil conflict flow;
For well he knew they would not part
Till cold was many a gallant heart.
His hasty vow he 'gan to rue,
And Gyneth then apart he drew;
To her his leading-staff resign'd,
But added caution grave and kind.

XX.
''Thou see'st, my child, as promise-bound,
I bid the trump for tourney sound.
Take thou my warder, as the queen
And umpire of the martial scene;
But mark thou this: as Beauty bright
Is polar star to valiant knight,
As at her word his sword he draws,
His fairest guerdon her applause,
So gentle maid should never ask
Of knighthood vain and dangerous task;
And Beauty's eyes should ever be
Like the twin stars that soothe the sea,
And Beauty's breath shall whisper peace,
And bid the storm of battle cease.
I tell thee this, lest all too far
These knights urge tourney into war.
Blithe at the trumpet let them go,
And fairly counter blow for blow;
No striplings these, who succour need
For a razed helm or a falling steed.
But, Gyneth, when the strife grows warm,
And threatens death or deadly harm,
Thy sire entreats, thy king commands,
Thou drop the warder from thy hands.
Trust thou thy father with thy fate,
Doubt not he choose thee fitting mate;
Nor be it said, through Gyneth's pride
A rose of Arthur's chaplet died.'

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I wondered In Her Heart Like A Lonely Child

I wondered in her heart like a lonely child,
Care free- Her blood feeding my soul,
Lost like a sweet aura escaping a fresh rose,
It is I her heart sings for, beat after beat.

I love her with all of me-
All of love,
I have the sum of all love in the world in me,
A love stronger than the strength of all of love.

Today I look for her,
Tomorrow I look at her,
After- I look into her,
Take my hand- Take me to the paradise in your eyes.

Darling, breath of my breath,
Warmth of my Sun, wings of my soul-
Please, to the paradise in your eyes,
There- forgotten by all but remembered by death.

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Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Long way from my home
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Oh, sometimes I wish I could fly
Fly like a bird up in the sky
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Closer to my home
Motherless children have a hard time
Motherless children have-a such a hard time
Motherless children have such a really hard time
A long way from home
Sometimes I feel like freedom is near
Sometimes I feel like freedom is here
Sometimes I feel like freedom is so near
But were so far from home

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Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Long way from my home
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Oh, sometimes I wish I could fly
Fly like a bird up in the sky
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Closer to my home
Motherless children have a hard time
Motherless children have-a such a hard time
Motherless children have such a really hard time
A long way from home
Sometimes I feel like freedom is near
Sometimes I feel like freedom is here
Sometimes I feel like freedom is so near
But were so far from home

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Patrick White

The Night Dances With Itself Like An Only Child

The night dances with itself like an only child
to the sounds of its own silence
when it thinks no one is watching.
Every falling leaf, a gesture of the hands,
poised, a word, a bird, a butterfly on a branch,
a sacred syllable from an alphabet that can dance,
caught in the updraft of a momentary insight
of falling to paradise like a flightfeather of light,
and landing the move just right, just so, with perfect timing.

The maples by day, easels for hot palette paintings,
red shift through red, orange, yellow, green
from the outside in toward the trunk, same
as a rainbow, same as the dynastic colours of a sunset.
Same as the fires of life returning to the root.
Same as the starmaps of the visionaries
flying like shamans from the nests they were fledged in.
Same as the ripening of the fruits of the earth,
or roses with green stars under their eyelids.

Different instruments, different voices,
the wind, the rasping of the leaves, the beaver
slapping the startled flesh of the water at my approach,
a twig snapping its drumstick on a rim shot
and the crow, and the squeaking bats, and the lapping
of the waves like the plectra of an aquamarine harpsichord
at the whole notes of the rocks, but a confluence
of picture-music washing the roots of the dead violins
of the wild irises and the timpani of cattails along the mindstream.

Merrily, merrily, row your boat, life is but a dream.
But to judge from the windfalls of green planets
shaken from the black walnut trees, it's a dream
that's urgent with the myriad realities of a multiverse
waking up in a place like here, and a time like now
with a lavish appetite for inhabiting itself
as if appearance weren't just the rind
that had to be peeled away like the skin and the shell
of the meat of the real, the shapes of the known worlds
the rat snakes shed like intimate illusions
that have naturally outgrown themselves,
the new moon in the arms of the old, like a nightsky
leaving the Milky Way, a mythically deflated windsock
tangled in the tree line like a runway that tried to fly by itself.

Now the Great Shedding as the earth turns
like the old abandoned mill wheel upstream
like a circular waterclock making linear time
take its tail in its mouth like an eternal recurrence
that's always pouring itself out of itself like life
into the emptiness between the equinox of one thought
and the solstice of the next like the silence between heartbeats,
the night between the stars, like the inseparable gap
between the distant moon and the intimacy of the moon's reflection
on the newly surfaced dark skin of the water sequencing
its pentatonic scales to the seasonal themes of the mindstream
you can't step into twice, as Heraclitus said in Ephesus long ago,
though it seems that way if all you're doing is dogpaddling
like a delinquent green apple on a snow covered bough, instead
of going along with the perennial renewal of the flow
by letting go of your water skin with its lunar tattoo
like the bright vacancy of an old silo of the light
for the dark abundance of the new insight
into the nature of life when it full in October.

The fall. This hour of my becoming
when everything is burning like the sumac
with the fires of life but nothing is consumed.
Because fire doesn't burn fire and death is unperishing.
And autumn is no less of a transformation than spring
as this new day dances as readily with the old woman
watching from her kitchen window as it does the young girl,
than the rain is to the tides of a lunar ocean
swaying in its shadows as if it were dancing
with its river reeds like a lonely child
in the embrace of her imagination,
like a poet in the grip of his crazy wisdom
flirting like a firefly with the dragons of his madness
without listening to the search parties of the lighthouses
bellowing like the foghorns of mournful trains back on shore
being swept away into the distance like nightwatchmen
and unconvincing ghosts. Things are unmooring
like lifeboats full of seeds and the souls of the dead
taking to their wings like the oars of waterbirds,
and the lowest of earthbound snakes
are dreaming of feathering their scales
into the vans of a dragon firewalking with stars
around the wobbling axis of the earth
on a potter's wheel, turning it like sentient starmud
that's fired up in autumn like an urn that burns like a kiln.

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Patrick White

Five Dolphin Swimming Off The Bow Of My Forehead

Five dolphins swimming off the bow of my forehead,
glancing encounters with the moon that lacquers their skin.
I'm in a lifeboat under the full sail of a blank page
just to keep up with them, though I know I'm moving
into deeper night seas of awareness, too far out
to make it back to shore in time to make the curfews
of the lighthouses trying to keep the shore-huggers apart
from the salvagers who run down to the shores in a storm
taking over from the mermaids like a nightshift of scavengers,
who want to run you up on the rocks just as surely
by holding their lanterns out like the tinfoil constellations
of false hopes on the event horizons of precipitous cliff walls.

I revel in the glee, the ecstasy, the rapture
that doesn't mean anyone's coming to save me
of running free with my imagination for the pure joy
of living with it as the only known antidote
to the decrescent moon that had its fangs pulled.
I give my flightfeathers up to the wind off the sea at night
like a seagull to a sky burial that sheds them like apple bloom.
Mediocrity thinks that words are the sounds you make
like the names of things when you're beating
on a hollow log of a muse. Amplified echoes
of a weak pulse. Thunder without lightning. Life
without water and blood. Sex without lust.

But words are living creatures with an integrity
and mystic specificity of their own that don't need
anyone's voice to animate them, because
long before anyone was born to stick them like fingers
and things of the world into their mouths,
words were speaking for themselves
like nightbirds in the woods, the shriek of the hawk
as it whistles by like an arrow between the talons
of its parentheses, the hermit thrush and the mockingbird
that speak in the tongues of words they've cloned from sound.
How else do you think the fox in winter,
following the pheasants tracks learned to print,
and then later the leafless trees taught it cursive script?

Sweesh-ka-ka in Kwakiutl means robin.
You can almost hear it on a green bough
outside your window in the spring when the crows
from their island rookeries are squabbling for squatter's rights
with hopeful migrants from the south of winter.
You can hear it in the way a star splinters on a moonless night
like a chandelier in an ice storm. I don't write
as if I've been talking to foreign ministers all my life
with urgent messages from an abandoned embassy in Babylon
that shredded all its clay tablets like papers
for my eyes only to keep them out of the hands of my enemies.
Words aren't memos to feel something you didn't yesterday.
Or the gravestones of dead metaphors to help you recollect
things you've buried in your past like a bone box of loveletters.

Abracadabra. Grammar is magic. Words cast spells on the stars
that turn them into bulls and fish. Black and white magicians,
witches, sylphs, sibyls, incubi and sorceresses
that can curse or bless the dancing ballerina on top
of that music box you keep like a secret aviary in your larynx
to jinx the silence of a false dawn with the sound of rain.
Can't you hear the mirrors crying to be liberated
from the same old reflections on love you bare before them?
Words aren't a collection of old shoes you've shed in a closet
full of skeletons like flesh and snakeskins
you're never going to wear again. However long
the firewalk you've got to go barefoot if you ever want
to wear wings on your heels whose flightplans
don't need to be measured by the width of your feet.

Words are demons. Words are wounded angels. Words
are drunks slumped three stairs up on the fire-escapes of hell.
Words are dragons that swallow the cosmic eggs
of sacred syllables trying to break out of their shells
like fledglings. They're not the vicars of your moral life.
They're not forensic evidence of how wonderful you were.
They're not the yarrow sticks that wrote the Book of Changes.
They're not a memory system for the absently-minded
collective unconscious talking in its sleep
elliptically to archetypes of the definite article. Isn't The...
enough of a biography to factualize the fictions
and fictionalize the facts of anyone over the course
of a lifetime drilling wells into a watershed of mirages
to get to the bottom of things like a shipwreck in a desert
when it rains? Everybody gets wordy about things
they know nothing about. In the beginning was the word
and so on and so on sound begat sound, but what gets lost
in translation like the prequel of the lightning flash
before the rolling thunder, is the genesis
of the imagination playing by itself in the dark
like a blind child listening to the rain on the roof
crying its eyes out for things that can't be seen in the light.

Comb, coma, comet, comma. Ball, ballet, ballistic, symbol.
The dead word in the living voice of the undertaker
as he combs the hair of your corpse, isn't poetry.
It's just another night light on in a morgue
without a midnight or a dawn to know what hour it is.
Don't be fooled by the luster of the polished stone.
Or the transparency of the crystal skull. The dark ore
conjures more stars to the window than the candle lures moths.
You miss the point of your seeing altogether like a black dwarf
if you go out to look at Orion on a winter night
and come back in singing the praises of your lenses.
The gold of the rainbow pours from the ore of the storm.
You don't need to bury yourself alive to mine it
or make a sluice of your tongue, a forge of your heart
to refine it. Or open your mouth like Crassus
among the Parthians to wear the corona of your eclipse
like a sun that shines at midnight, coal in a wedding ring.

Five dolphins swimming off the bow of my forehead like Delphinus
nudging a poetic sailor who jumped over board from Job's Coffin,
or the Black Turtle of the North to the Chinese astronomers
on a nightwatch without an astrolabe ashore
as Nicolaus Venator from Palermo repeats
his Latin name infernally backwards in the dark mirror
of the nightsky like the alpha and beta of its two brightest stars.

Note: The poetic sailor referred to is Arion, the poet reputed to have been saved from drowning by a dolphin. Nicolaus Venator is the Latin name of the astronomer, Niccolo Cacciatore, which, spelled backwards, was given to the two brightest stars of the constellation, Sualocin and Rotanev, though, modestly, only of the fourth magnitude.

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To Hope

OH come, thou power divine,
Thou lovely spirit with the wings of light,
And let thy dewy eyes
Shed their sweet influences on my soul;
Oh let me hear thy voice,
Whose sound thrills with a keener, deeper bliss,
Than the shrill jubilance the bird of joy
Pours on the air!
Or the child babblings of the gladsome rill
When, issuing first from out its mossy couch
In venturesome delight, it frisks in glee
Adown the hoary mountain, silver-fraught.

Oh come!
Where I do lie drenched in my bitter tears,
And drowning in dejection: haunted by
The pale gaunt fears that spectre-like rush forth
In shadowy swarms from out the brains's black cells,
Like glaring madmen in confusion 'scaped
From out their dens, whirling with shambling limbs
In whooping dances through the startled dusk,
And pouncing wildly on my shiv'ring soul,
Where in her hour of weakness prostrate she
Doth palpitate in terror, like a deer,
That hunted by the swift pursuing hounds,
Wounded and bleeding, sinks upon the ground,
While with hoarse croaks the ravening birds of prey
Wheel close and closer, darkening all the air.
But thou--
Come breathe upon me with thy balmy breath,
Like a young wind, born in the rosèd east,
That leapeth boy-like from the lap of morn,
To blow the land all clear from crouching fogs:

Thus drive thou hence the phantoms; cleanse my soul!
Thou sweet enchantress, with the magic spells!
Wails there a heart, lone on the populous earth,--
Like a weak infant lost within the night
That crieth piteously in helplessness,
And pusheth its blind limbs with gestures scared
Against the gloom,--
Then with an airy footfall glidest thou
Gently anigh, as softly as a cloud,
When one alone in crimson glory slides
Along the twilight sky: tak'st the bewildered thing
Into thine arms, thy fair and downy arms,
And rock'st it on thy bosom--singing low
An old, old song, old as the flowers that bloom,
And like them ever young; till dreams rise up,
Like cool white mists from out the heart of hills,
And lie dew-sweet upon it in its sleep!

Sits there an orphan girl with sunken cheeks,
And red-rimmed eyes, high up beneath the leads,
Stitching with aching fingers all the night
Beside the meagre flame, to earn her bread,
And feed with scanty fuel the low fire
Of life, while the shrill blast
Dashes the rain against the rattling panes,
And down the chimney roars with smoke and wet;--
Then comest thou, with memories all dim
And faint, with beauty from the childish years,
Transposing them into the time to come
With a new lustre of the full-grown heart.
Where the bare walls stood with a hungry stare,
The golden cornfields, weighed down by their wealth,
Sway to and fro; purling the brook flows on;
And, like a bit of sky drawn down by love,
Wilds of forget-me-nots run riot round;
And meadows scent the air; and lowing kine
Are driven home; and silver geese hiss loud
Within the pools; and childhood's silver laughs
Ring o'er the green like chimes of silver bells
In the clear atmosphere; and through green boughs
Curls up the smoke from many a thatchèd roof,
Flushed all the land with roseate floods of eve,
While large and full glows low the harvest moon,
There as through homely fields she lightly walks,
And one is by her side, and whispers low,
And thine, oh hope! the future's kindling glow.

Rocks there a sailor on a reeling ship,
That staggers blindly like a brain-struck man,
Around the staring cliffs!
While the wild blast, the fiddler of the deep,
Wakes such mad music on his shrieking strings
That the fierce elements in huge delight
Vault from their torpor, rearing giant heights!
Ha! The maned billows from abysmal deeps
Leap like live Alps, and catch the tearing clouds
That dizzy haste along the wilds of sky;
Tossing them round in labyrinthic whirls
To the witch light of lightning, and the roar
Of thunder, in its crashing clattering fall.
Yea, while the ocean yawneth for its prey,
Yelling with starvèd jaws around the hull,
Man's sole frail guardian from the fangs of death,--
Thou softly float'st,
Like to the dove that bore the olive branch
Across the waste of waters, to his side. . . .
No longer sees he then the wide wild sea,
No longer hears he the tempestuous blast:
But where the cottage leans against the cliff,
The evening star shedding its peace adown,
He lifts the latch, and with one bound of joy
He stands in the low room, beside the hearth,
Where sits his winsome wife, and rocks her babe
With lullabies; and heaving one big sob
He strains her to his breast, her whom he thought
On this side of the grave to see no more!
Then does she take him by the hand, and leads
Him round from cot to cot, where with round cheeks
His children lie, sleep-flushed, 'twixt snow-white sheets,
And snatching up the youngest in his arms,
With an untameable emotion, weeps
His kisses on him, till it opens wide
Large dream-dew'd eyes, and lisps with cherry mouth,
'Oh, Dada, Dada!'----That thou dost for him!

Wanders the patriot on a stranger shore,
And exile from the land he loved too well:
Within his heart
The festering wound a thankless nation strikes,
When cloud-capp'd by its ignorance and fear,
And goaded on by spurring king and priest,
Like a mad dog it turns and bites the hand
Stretched out to heal.
He sees his friends fall off like rotten leaves
That scrambling flee the tempest-girted oak;
He sees the enemies he boldly braved,
Forging the red-hot slanders wherewithal
To scorch his writhing soul!
Alone in the wide world, alone he stands;
Alone, save where beyond the roaring seas
His mother weeps, and weeps, oh God! through him.
Then, blowing from dead deserts the simoom
Of doubt breathes on him, with its killing breath,
With'ring the flowers of faith, the groves of youth,
And buffeting his heart on cruel waves
Of wind, e'en like a quiv'ring autumn leaf.
Oh, is it strange?
That in the midnight, on the dark there grow
Pale faces sweating blood, and wrapped in shrouds,
Turning reproachful eyes upon his eyes,
And asking dumbly, 'Wherefore did we die,
And spill the wine-filled goblets of our youth
On barren soil that will not teem with birth?'
That brides, like broken lilies whirled along
By arrowy streams, glide past and sadly sob,
'Thou'st mowed us down, and mowed us down in vain!'
That infants thrill the silence with their wail,
'Why are we fatherless, if fatherland
Is still denied?' And that his heartstrings quake
With sobs of mothers' hearts that hopeless break?
Strange that his purpose, that did seem so fair,
With a white blaze of light around her head,
Which fell like orient beams on nations' brows,
Should wane before his terror-stricken eyes?
And that in direst agony of soul
His noble nature tott'ring on her base,
Should question if his deeds were rightful deeds?
Stirred up by God's own living breath, or pushed
By hot ambition's ravenous desire?
And if the aim that drew were but a dream
By which his visionary youth was mocked,
As travellers in the desert by the shine
Of fair false waters?--At that torturing thought
Smells of cold graves struck damp upon his brow,
Till his wilds eyes grew void, and limp his limbs,
And he had dropped resistless in the jaws
Of madness or of death!
Hadst thou not come, perennial presence! bright
As Phosphorus in the dim morning skies!
And poured thy morning sunbeams on his heart,
And blown thy morning breezes on his soul,
Till freshly born the world, and on him smiled
With eyes as tender as his mother's were,
When sowing love upon his cradled self.
Then back plucked he his purpose, fixed it firm
In iron steadfastness upon his soul,
And called on faith, where with upturnèd eyes
Above the clouds she treads the mountain peaks,
And on that love, which boundless as the sky,
Stretches o'er all mankind its azured vault.
Then rose he, set his trustful eyes on high,
And set his heart among the lowly born:
For in the vasty glimmerings of the dawn
He saw such visions of the things to be,
Such heights of being ascended, and such love
And justice throning on the seats of men,
That with unflagging steps he calmly trod
The walks of martyrdom! Oh, crown his brows
With buds of those full summers of the race!

Mourns there an aged mother, lying low
Upon the lowly grave,
Round which the autumn moans her mournful dirge,
And shivering cadence of the shrunken leaves
Keeps saddest measure with the wailing wind;
While the pale glimm'rings of the waning moon
Fall in cold tears upon the unknown tomb,
Beneath whose sod, washed by the ghastly mists,
Lies he, her one sole flower, that on the breast
Of life bloomed for her all the days and nights;
In the midsummer of his lusty life
Devoured by that grim beast, whose reeking breath
Is saturated with the blood of man--
The twin of pestilence--the foul firstborn
Of her who spinneth in the nether gloom
The phantasms that turn mad the brains of men,
And him whose savage lusts and greedy soul
Would make his footstool on the necks of men!
Oh here, even here like a stray beam of light
That glides unscared in sacred tenderness
Across the heavy vapours, brooding blind
In shapeless masses o'er a joyless tarn
Deep sunk in mountains,--even here the gleam
Of thy gold hair makes music in the dark,
Cradlest the head of grief on thy warm breast,
Whisperest in tones sweeter than honeycomb
Of that new heaven where death shall be no more,
Nor grief, nor crying, neither shall there be
More pain; for former things have passed away.
And with thy wings of light around her soul,
And with thy dewy eyes upon her heart,
Death takes her gently like a cherubim
By the shrunk hand, and leads her to her rest.
* * * * *
Oh Hope! thou consolation of the soul!
Flash forth, and like a sun strike on the clouds
Of dull despondency, that pour their rain
In showers upon the sad heart's shivering soil;
Flash forth, and force each drop e'en as it falls
To glass thy loveliness, and on the cloud
Frowning in dumb defiance, paint such bloom
Etherial, that its blackness but becomes
A foil on which thy brightness brighter beams,
Till spanned with rainbow-glory the sad soul
Glistens in glimmering smiles through all her tears,
And life shone through by white eternity,
Circled with calm as by a covenant,
Is born in beauty of the bitter tears,
Like Aphrodite from the salt sea waves.

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Fragments from 'Genius Lost

Prelude
I SEE the boy-bard neath life’s morning skies,
While hope’s bright cohorts guess not of defeat,
And ardour lightens from his earnest eyes,
And faith’s cherubic wings around his being beat.

Loudly the echo of his soul repeats
Those deathless strains that witched the world of old;
While to the deeds, his high heart proudly beats,
Of names within them, treasured like heroic gold.

To love he lights the ode of vocal fire,
And yearns in song o’er freedom’s sacred throes,
Or pours a pious incense from his lyre,
Wherever o’er the grave a martyre-glory glows.

Or as he wanders waking dreams arise,
And paint new Edens on the future’s scroll,
While on the wings of rapture he outflies
The faltering mood that warns in his prophetic soul.

“All doubt away!” he cries in trustful mood;
“From Time’s unknown the perfect yet shall rise;
And this full heart attests how much of God
Might dwell with man beneath these purple-clouded skies!”

Thus holiest shapes inhabit his desire,
And love’s dream-turtles sing along his way;
Thus faith keeps mounting, like a skylark, higher,
As hope engoldens more the morning of his day.

But ah! Too high that harp-like heart is strung,
To bear the jar of this harsh world’s estate;
And ’tis betrayed by that too fervent tongue
How burns the fire within, that bodes a wayward fate.

Soon on the morning’s wings shall fancy flee,
And world-damps quench love’s spiritual flame,
And his wild powers, now as the wild waves free,
Be reef-bound by low wants and beaten down by shame.


Now mark him in the city’s weltering crowd
Haggard and pale; and yet, in his distress,
How quick to scorn the vile—defy the pround—
Grim, cold, and distant now—then seized with recklessness.
Yet oft what agony his pride assails,
When life’s first morning faith to thought appears
Lost in the shadowy past, and nought avails
Her calling to the lost—then blood is in his tears.

Henceforth must his sole comrade be despair,
Sole wanderer by his side in ways forlorn;
And as a root-wrenched vine no more may bear,
No more by this dry wood shall fruit be borne.

No more! And every care of life, in woe
And desperation, to the wind is hurled!
He thanks dull wondering pity with a blow,
And leaps, though into hell, out of the cruel world.


First Love
I, even when a child,
Had fondly brooded, with a glowing cheek
And asking heart, with lips apart, and breath
Hushed to such silence as the matron dove
Preserves while warming into life her young,
Over the secretely-disclosing hope
Of finding in the fulness of my youth
Some sweet, congenial one to love, to call
My own. And one has been whose soul
Felt to its depth the influence of mine,
Albeit between us the sweet name of Love
Passed never, to bring blooming to the check
Those rosy shames that burn it on the heart—
Symbol of heaven, sole synonym of God!—
Yet not the less a sympathy that heard,
Through many a whisper, Love’s sweet spirit-self,
Low breathing in the silence of our souls,
Knit us together with a still consent.

And she was beautiful in outward shape,
As lovely in her mind. Such eyes she had
As burn in the far depths of passionate thought,
While yet the visionary heart of youth
Is lonely in its hope! Cherries were ne’er
More ruby-rich, more delicately full,
Than were her lips; and, when her young heart would,
A smile, ineffably enchanting, played
The unwitting conqueress there.

Her light, round form
Had grace in every impulse, motions fair
As her life’s purity; her being all
Was as harmonious to the mind, as are
Most perfect strains of purest tones prolonged,
To music-loving ears.

But full of dole
Her mortal fate to me! Ere sixteen springs
Had bloomed about her being, a most fell
And secret malady did feel amid
The roses of her cheeks, her lips—but still,
Felon-like, shunned the lustre of her eyes,
That more replendent grew. And so, before
Those glowing orbs had turned their starry light
Upon one human face with other troth
Than a meek daughter or fond sister yields;
Ere her white arms and heaving bosom held
A nestling other than the weary head
Of sickness or a stranger babe, the grass
That whistled dry in the autumnal wind,
Was billowing round her grave.

And yet I live
Within a world that knoweth her no more.

. . . . .
’Tis well when misery’s harassed son
For shelter to the grave doth go,
As to his mountain-hold may run
The hunted roe.
Yet when, beneath benignant skies,
The angle Grace herself appears
But Death’s born bride, the stoniest eyes
Might break in tears.


Chorus of the Hours
Ah! That Death
Should ever, like a drear, untimely night,
Descent upon the loved, in Love’s despite!
Ah! That a little breath
Expiring from the world, should leave each scene,
Where its warm influence before hath been,
So empty to the heart in its despair
Of all but misery—misery everywhere!


Thus in the morning of my life have I
No happiness rooted in the earth, to hold
My spirit to the actual. All my hopes
Are blown away by adverse chilling winds,
Blown sheer away, out of the world, to seek
Such solace as may be derived from far
And lonely flights of faith. Yet even these
Only divert, not satisfy, my soul;
Still, when her wings refuse them, wearied out
By so wild-will’d an aeronaut as I,
Having no nearer comfort, even as now,
Their foregone influence do I meditate,
Tracing them upward in their heavenward track.
As through an ocean of uprolling mist
Amid the morning Alps, a morning bird
Keeps soaring, trustful of the risen sun—
Who then is turning all the mountain tops
To diamond islets washed by waves of gold,
That shatter as they surge—keeps soaring, till
It shoots at length into the cloudless light,
And gleams a bird of fire; so faith upmounts
Through the earth’s misty tribulations, up
Into the clear of the eternal world,
Unfainting, fervent, till, with happy wings
Outspreading full amid the rays of God
It glories, gleaming like the Alpine bird.
But wearying in her flight, even faith returns,
As does the bird—returns into the mist
That shutteth down all less adventurous life,
But stronger for the mighty vision left
And for the heavenly warmth upon her wings.


Once,—did I only stand in thought beside
The grave of one who had for freedom died,
Or on some spot made holy by the vow
Of tuneful love, though of an ancient day,—
My very life would thrill—and am I now
Journeying away
From that fraternal interest which cast
Around me then the feeling of the past?
I know not; but my heart no more will leap
Even to the trump of some Homeric lay:
Bad progress is it, if from that I keep
Journeying away!


Misery
As the moaning wild waves ever
Fret around some lonely isle,
There are griefs that no endeavour
Stilleth even for a while,
Beating at my heart for ever,
Beating at it now,
Beating at my heart—and aching
Upward to my brow.

Like the wild clouds flying over
High above all human reach,
There are joys that I their lover
Cannot even scale in speech;
Flying o’er my head for ever
Flying o’er it now;
Flying o’er my head—and shading
With despair my brow.


Chorus of the Hours
Alas! The veriest human clod
Is happier than he,
On whom the majesty,
And the mystery
Of thought, had fallen like the fire of God!
Ah! Those by nature gifted to pursue
The beautiful and true
Have chiefly in dishonour trod
The regions they redeemed—as even yet they do!

And where are they, to gods upgrown,
Shall drive this darksome doom?
Ye suffering sons of Genius, you
Must dissipate the gloom
That clouds you even as of old
In its mist so deadly cold!
With your own injuries, let stern thought
Of the most desolate deathless of those
Who with the power of darkness fought,
(Each in his age, whereon his spirit rose,
As rises some peculiar star of night
To burn eternally apart,)
Yea, let stern thought of those
Now nerve you to re-urge the lengthened fight;
And for those others,
Your future brothers,
Now follow victory with unflinching heart!


Looking Beyond
Yes, it is well, in this our cold grim earth
To steal an hour for meditation free;
To die in body, and with all the mind
Thus freed, to bridge with might beams of thought
The depth of the Eternal. Even on me
Such mood sometimes descends, the precious gift
Of pitying Urania, then I fly,
Even as a stork mid evening’s purple clouds
In mid-Elysiums—Paradises fair
Perhaps in stars consummated, whereon
The once earth-treading votaries of Truth
In soul reside, until a period when
Knowledge, advancing them from height to height,
And Love, grown perfect, shall have nurtured forth
Angelic wings for heaven.

But by these
I mean not such as with sour faces boast;
Blind moles of fear, who deem thy honour God
By offering up on outraged human hearts,
As upon blood-stained altars, every gay
And happy feeling, every rose wish
That sweetens human souls: and who, convened
In their dull tabernacles, all at once
Behowl the Diety as dogs the moon,
Or deprecate his wrath with grovelling rites,
And boisterous groans, that from stentorian lungs
Are grunted, swine-like, forth! Oh no! For such
The paradise of fools full wide extends
Her dismal gates!

I speak not thus in scorn;
Scorn is not sweet to me; but when the rights
Of man are trampled on; when villains sit
In the high places of the land, and sport
With what the just hold sacred; when mere wealth
Can win its Nestor’s favour, and the sleek
Regard even of its saints, and when religion
Itself is ever in a bad extreme—
A bloated pomp of mystery and show,
Or a most crude and coarse perversity,
Vile as a beggar’s raiment—then the scorn
Of indignation, then the brave disgust
Of righteous shame and honest hate, put forth
In tones like God’s own thunder burst aboard,
Are things the thin-souled scoundrel never feels.

Enough. The good I deem leave vain disputes
On things that are, and must be from their kind,
Mainly unknown, and still with faithful heed
Have care of those God gave them light to see
Strewn round their daily being: and of such
Rightfully choosing, and to fitting ends
Well shaping all, upbuild with honest hands
A true and simple life; and in the jars
Of national factions they alway, despite
Of frowning kings and banning priests afford
Their aid to freedom.


Yet will there come a day, though not to me,
When excellence of being shall be sought
Not only thus in vision, but within
The actual round of this diurnal world,—
A day whose light shall chase the clouds that veil
Upon the mountain tops of old repute
The imaginary gods of wrongful power,
And pierce thence downward to the vales of toil,
Healing and blessing all men—the great day
Of knowledge. Then the accident of birth—
That empty imposition! Or the claim
Of wealth—that earthly and most gnomish cheat!
Shall neither arrogate to any, proud
Distinctions as of right, nor qualify
Any by its sole influence for power
Over his fellows, but all men shall stand
Proudly beneath the fair wide roof of heaven,
As God-created equals, each the sire
Of his own worth, and the joint sanctioner
Of all political pertainment, all
Moral and social honour.
Yea, for such
Is Freedom’s charter traced upon the heart
Of our humanity, whene’er ’tis rid
Of the foul scroff of vice, and on the brain
Built godlike, when disclouded by God’s light
Of a too old distemper’s fatal rout,
Of boastful hell-suggested superstitions
And customs born of Error. And let none
Despair of such an advent; for, as when
Some solemn wood’s familiar cadences,
Deepening and deepening all around, portend
The salutary storm, even so the wide
Pervading instinct of a sure revolt
Against the ancient tyrannies of the earth
Roams on before it in the living stress
Of knowledge, omening the unborn change
By harshening still to the fine ear of thought
The daily jar of customary wrongs.

And let none fear that earthly power, or aught
Less than Omnipotence, can still or stay
The solemn prelude that for ever thus
Keeps deepening round and onward in the front
Of that great victory over wrong, which time
Shall witness—wrong and its abettors, all
Whom lust of sway unsanctioned by the truth
Shall to the last disnature; for the spirit
It first evokes—a mighty will to think—
Doth thenceforth charge it with oracular tones
That may not be mistaken.

Yea, great thoughts
With great thoughts coalescing through the world,
Into the future of all progress pour
Sun-prophecies, there quickening what were else
Nascent too long.

Chorus of the Hours
O why is not this beauteous earth
The Eden men imagine—the fair seat
Of fruitful peace, pure love, and sunny mirth?
And why are its prime souls, though so complete
In apprehension of a Godlike state,
The subjects ever of fraternal hate—
Oppressing or oppressed,
That so the portion is of all, deceit
And fear, and anger, sorrow, and unrest?

There’s not one bright enduring thing
In this great round of nature that appears—
No shining stars, no river murmuring,
No morn-crowned hill, no golden evening scene,
That hath not glimmered and distorted been
Through the dim mist of tears—
Tears not as blood from some wrung human brain,
Throbbing and aching with unpitied pain!

There is not one green mound, existent long
In any region, nor old wayside stone,
On which some weary child of social wrong
Hath sat not—there, alone,
To bite his pallid lip and heave the unheeded groan!

And such hath been the state of man
Since first the race’s recreancy began;
And thus his piety is scared away
From earth, its proper home,
To seek vague heavens above the source of day;
Or out beyond the gorgeous gloom
Wherewith dusk evening curtains up the west;
There flying, like the psalmist’s dove, to rest
In sinless gardens of perpetual bloom
And islands of the blest.


Ah! My heart
Is like a core of fire within my breast,
And by this agony is all my mind
Shaken away from its tenacious hold
Of time and sensuous things. Now come, thou meek
Religious trust, that sometime to my soul
Fliest friendly, like a heaven-descended dove,
With wings that whisper of the peace of God!
Come, and assure it now, that all thus seen
Of evil, by the patience of the One
Almighty Master of the Universe,
Is but allowed, to dash our vain repose
On Time’s foundations, and all mad belief
In human consequence; that, finally,
Amid the death of expectations fond,—
Discoveries diurnal that the pomps
And pleasures of the world are but bright mists
Concealing, mid its heights of pomp and shame,
Its depths of degradation,—that all weal,
Beauty, and peace, even in their permanence,
Are but the florid riches of a soil
That crusts the cone of some yet masked volcano,
Whose darling fires but wait the dread command:
“Up, to the work appointed! ”—we at length,
Even thus admonished, thus in hope and heart
Subdued and chastened, might be so constrained
To look between the thunder-bearing clouds
That darken over this mysterious ball s
Blind face, for surer, better things beyond
Its flying scenes of doubtful good, commixed
With evident evil: yea, conclude at last
That wereso in the universe of God
Our better home may be, it is not here;
Then here why build we?


O! Then, farewell,
Fancy and Hope, twin angels of the past!
Thee, Fancy, chiefly of my younger life
The spiritual spouse, farewell! With all
Thy pictured equipage: the shapes sublime
Of universal liberty and right,
Dethroning tyrants and investing worth
Alone with power and honour; and with these
Fair visions that come shining to the heart
Like evening stars from a serener air
Of generosity, in rapture high
At rival excellence; of charity
Living in secret for her own sweet sake;
Of mercy lifting up a fallen foe;
Of pity yearning o’er the child of shame;
Unselfish love, and resolute friendship—all,
Even to common trust—farewell! These lights
May never burn in the grey dome of time
or constellate for me the world again!
No more! No, never more.


The Cemetery
Here, only here
In the dark dwellings of this silent city
Is rest for the world-weary. Slander here,
Disease and poverty, forego their victim;
The fox of envy and the wolf of scorn
Snarl not within these gates. The enemy
Who comes to triumph o’er the powerless bones
That once he feared, still hates—even as he comes,
By the dismaying silence smitten, stops,
Listening for some far reproachful voice
Heard only through the mystery of his soul,
And, shuddering, asks forgiveness. Slept I here,
And should an enemy so plead, and might
My injured spirit, hovering over, hear—
The boon were granted. O that here, even now,
The sense were frozen to forgetfulness
That I, upon this populous star of God,
This earth that I was born to, and have loved,
Am utterly uncared-for and alone!


Whither?
Alas! These thoughts are storming all my soul
With madness—yea, the madness of despair!
And though my reason lifting up its strength
As desperately confronts them, just as well
Might the poor castaway, who helpless stands
On some bleak rock in the mid ocean, preach
Obedience to the breakers surging round
That perilous point, as I (in this wild gloom)
Strive to o’ercome them—And why should I strive?
No, rather let them howl like midnight wolves
Within my failing brain, and gnaw and tug
At my sick heart, their bitter food, for they
Will help me to my one desire—death.


Be his rest who sleeps below,
Done to death by toil and woe,
Sound and sweet.
So much in fortune did he lack,
So little meet
Of kindness, as with bleeding feet
He journeyed life’s most barren track,
That only hate in its deceit,
Not love, not pity, would entreat
To have him back.
But he sleeps well where many a bloom
That might not grace his living home
Pranks the raised sod:
Tokening, perhaps, that one who here
Missed the world’s smile, hath met elsewhere
The smile of God.

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The Ghetto

I

Cool, inaccessible air
Is floating in velvety blackness shot with steel-blue lights,
But no breath stirs the heat
Leaning its ponderous bulk upon the Ghetto
And most on Hester street…

The heat…
Nosing in the body's overflow,
Like a beast pressing its great steaming belly close,
Covering all avenues of air…

The heat in Hester street,
Heaped like a dray
With the garbage of the world.

Bodies dangle from the fire escapes
Or sprawl over the stoops…
Upturned faces glimmer pallidly -
Herring-yellow faces, spotted as with a mold,
And moist faces of girls
Like dank white lilies,
And infants' faces with open parched mouths that suck at the air
as at empty teats.

Young women pass in groups,
Converging to the forums and meeting halls,
Surging indomitable, slow
Through the gross underbrush of heat.
Their heads are uncovered to the stars,
And they call to the young men and to one another
With a free camaraderie.
Only their eyes are ancient and alone…

The street crawls undulant,
Like a river addled
With its hot tide of flesh
That ever thickens.
Heavy surges of flesh
Break over the pavements,
Clavering like a surf -
Flesh of this abiding
Brood of those ancient mothers who saw the dawn break over Egypt…
And turned their cakes upon the dry hot stones
And went on
Till the gold of the Egyptians fell down off their arms…
Fasting and athirst…
And yet on…

Did they vision - with those eyes darkly clear,
That looked the sun in the face and were not blinded -
Across the centuries
The march of their enduring flesh?
Did they hear -
Under the molten silence
Of the desert like a stopped wheel -
(And the scorpions tick-ticking on the sand…
The infinite procession of those feet?

II

I room at Sodos' - in the little green room that was Bennie's -
With Sadie
And her old father and her mother,
Who is not so old and wears her own hair.

Old Sodos no longer makes saddles.
He has forgotten how.
He has forgotten most things - even Bennie who stays away
and sends wine on holidays -
And he does not like Sadie's mother
Who hides God's candles,
Nor Sadie
Whose young pagan breath puts out the light -
That should burn always,
Like Aaron's before the Lord.

Time spins like a crazy dial in his brain,
And night by night
I see the love-gesture of his arm
In its green-greasy coat-sleeve
Circling the Book,
And the candles gleaming starkly
On the blotched-paper whiteness of his face,
Like a miswritten psalm…
Night by night
I hear his lifted praise,
Like a broken whinnying
Before the Lord's shut gate.

Sadie dresses in black.
She has black-wet hair full of cold lights
And a fine-drawn face, too white.
All day the power machines
Drone in her ears…
All day the fine dust flies
Till throats are parched and itch
And the heat - like a kept corpse -
Fouls to the last corner.

Then - when needles move more slowly on the cloth
And sweaty fingers slacken
And hair falls in damp wisps over the eyes -
Sped by some power within,
Sadie quivers like a rod…
A thin black piston flying,
One with her machine.

She - who stabs the piece-work with her bitter eye
And bids the girls: 'Slow down -
You'll have him cutting us again!'
She - fiery static atom,
Held in place by the fierce pressure all about -
Speeds up the driven wheels
And biting steel - that twice
Has nipped her to the bone.

Nights, she reads
Those books that have most unset thought,
New-poured and malleable,
To which her thought
Leaps fusing at white heat,
Or spits her fire out in some dim manger of a hall,
Or at a protest meeting on the Square,
Her lit eyes kindling the mob…
Or dances madly at a festival.
Each dawn finds her a little whiter,
Though up and keyed to the long day,
Alert, yet weary… like a bird
That all night long has beat about a light.

The Gentile lover, that she charms and shrews,
Is one more pebble in the pack
For Sadie's mother,
Who greets him with her narrowed eyes
That hold some welcome back.
'What's to be done?' she'll say,
'When Sadie wants she takes…
Better than Bennie with his Christian woman…
A man is not so like,
If they should fight,
To call her Jew…'

Yet when she lies in bed
And the soft babble of their talk comes to her
And the silences…
I know she never sleeps
Till the keen draught blowing up the empty hall
Edges through her transom
And she hears his foot on the first stairs.

Sarah and Anna live on the floor above.
Sarah is swarthy and ill-dressed.
Life for her has no ritual.
She would break an ideal like an egg for the winged thing at the core.
Her mind is hard and brilliant and cutting like an acetylene torch.
If any impurities drift there, they must be burnt up as in a clear flame.
It is droll that she should work in a pants factory.
- Yet where else… tousled and collar awry at her olive throat.
Besides her hands are unkempt.
With English… and everything… there is so little time.
She reads without bias -
Doubting clamorously -
Psychology, plays, science, philosophies -
Those giant flowers that have bloomed and withered, scattering their seed…
- And out of this young forcing soil what growth may come -
what amazing blossomings.

Anna is different.
One is always aware of Anna, and the young men turn their heads
to look at her.
She has the appeal of a folk-song
And her cheap clothes are always in rhythm.
When the strike was on she gave half her pay.
She would give anything - save the praise that is hers
And the love of her lyric body.

But Sarah's desire covets nothing apart.
She would share all things…
Even her lover.

III

The sturdy Ghetto children
March by the parade,
Waving their toy flags,
Prancing to the bugles -
Lusty, unafraid…
Shaking little fire sticks
At the night -
The old blinking night -
Swerving out of the way,
Wrapped in her darkness like a shawl.

But a small girl
Cowers apart.
Her braided head,
Shiny as a black-bird's
In the gleam of the torch-light,
Is poised as for flight.
Her eyes have the glow
Of darkened lights.

She stammers in Yiddish,
But I do not understand,
And there flits across her face
A shadow
As of a drawn blind.
I give her an orange,
Large and golden,
And she looks at it blankly.
I take her little cold hand and try to draw her to me,
But she is stiff…
Like a doll…

Suddenly she darts through the crowd
Like a little white panic
Blown along the night -
Away from the terror of oncoming feet…
And drums rattling like curses in red roaring mouths…
And torches spluttering silver fire
And lights that nose out hiding-places…
To the night -
Squatting like a hunchback
Under the curved stoop -
The old mammy-night
That has outlived beauty and knows the ways of fear -
The night - wide-opening crooked and comforting arms,
Hiding her as in a voluminous skirt.

The sturdy Ghetto children
March by the parade,
Waving their toy flags,
Prancing to the bugles,
Lusty, unafraid.
But I see a white frock
And eyes like hooded lights
Out of the shadow of pogroms
Watching… watching…

IV

Calicoes and furs,
Pocket-books and scarfs,
Razor strops and knives
(Patterns in check…

Olive hands and russet head,
Pickles red and coppery,
Green pickles, brown pickles,
(Patterns in tapestry…

Coral beads, blue beads,
Beads of pearl and amber,
Gewgaws, beauty pins -
Bijoutry for chits -
Darting rays of violet,
Amethyst and jade…
All the colors out to play,
Jumbled iridescently…
(Patterns in stained glass
Shivered into bits!)

Nooses of gay ribbon
Tugging at one's sleeve,
Dainty little garters
Hanging out their sign…
Here a pout of frilly things -
There a sonsy feather…
(White beards, black beards
Like knots in the weave…

And ah, the little babies -
Shiny black-eyed babies -
(Half a million pink toes
Wriggling altogether.)
Baskets full of babies
Like grapes on a vine.

Mothers waddling in and out,
Making all things right -
Picking up the slipped threads
In Grand street at night -
Grand street like a great bazaar,
Crowded like a float,
Bulging like a crazy quilt
Stretched on a line.

But nearer seen
This litter of the East
Takes on a garbled majesty.

The herded stalls
In dissolute array…
The glitter and the jumbled finery
And strangely juxtaposed
Cans, paper, rags
And colors decomposing,
Faded like old hair,
With flashes of barbaric hues
And eyes of mystery…
Flung
Like an ancient tapestry of motley weave
Upon the open wall of this new land.

Here, a tawny-headed girl…
Lemons in a greenish broth
And a huge earthen bowl
By a bronzed merchant
With a tall black lamb's wool cap upon his head…
He has no glance for her.
His thrifty eyes
Bend - glittering, intent
Their hoarded looks
Upon his merchandise,
As though it were some splendid cloth
Or sumptuous raiment
Stitched in gold and red…

He seldom talks
Save of the goods he spreads -
The meager cotton with its dismal flower -
But with his skinny hands
That hover like two hawks
Above some luscious meat,
He fingers lovingly each calico,
As though it were a gorgeous shawl,
Or costly vesture
Wrought in silken thread,
Or strange bright carpet
Made for sandaled feet…

Here an old grey scholar stands.
His brooding eyes -
That hold long vistas without end
Of caravans and trees and roads,
And cities dwindling in remembrance -
Bend mostly on his tapes and thread.

What if they tweak his beard -
These raw young seed of Israel
Who have no backward vision in their eyes -
And mock him as he sways
Above the sunken arches of his feet -
They find no peg to hang their taunts upon.
His soul is like a rock
That bears a front worn smooth
By the coarse friction of the sea,
And, unperturbed, he keeps his bitter peace.

What if a rigid arm and stuffed blue shape,
Backed by a nickel star
Does prod him on,
Taking his proud patience for humility…
All gutters are as one
To that old race that has been thrust
From off the curbstones of the world…
And he smiles with the pale irony
Of one who holds
The wisdom of the Talmud stored away
In his mind's lavender.

But this young trader,
Born to trade as to a caul,
Peddles the notions of the hour.
The gestures of the craft are his
And all the lore
As when to hold, withdraw, persuade, advance…
And be it gum or flags,
Or clean-all or the newest thing in tags,
Demand goes to him as the bee to flower.
And he - appraising
All who come and go
With his amazing
Slight-of-mind and glance
And nimble thought
And nature balanced like the scales at nought -
Looks Westward where the trade-lights glow,
And sees his vision rise -
A tape-ruled vision,
Circumscribed in stone -
Some fifty stories to the skies.

V

As I sit in my little fifth-floor room -
Bare,
Save for bed and chair,
And coppery stains
Left by seeping rains
On the low ceiling
And green plaster walls,
Where when night falls
Golden lady-bugs
Come out of their holes,
And roaches, sepia-brown, consort…
I hear bells pealing
Out of the gray church at Rutgers street,
Holding its high-flung cross above the Ghetto,
And, one floor down across the court,
The parrot screaming:
Vorwärts… Vorwärts…

The parrot frowsy-white,
Everlastingly swinging
On its iron bar.

A little old woman,
With a wig of smooth black hair
Gummed about her shrunken brows,
Comes sometimes on the fire escape.
An old stooped mother,
The left shoulder low
With that uneven droopiness that women know
Who have suckled many young…
Yet I have seen no other than the parrot there.

I watch her mornings as she shakes her rugs
Feebly, with futile reach
And fingers without clutch.
Her thews are slack
And curved the ruined back
And flesh empurpled like old meat,
Yet each conspires
To feed those guttering fires
With which her eyes are quick.

On Friday nights
Her candles signal
Infinite fine rays
To other windows,
Coupling other lights,
Linking the tenements
Like an endless prayer.

She seems less lonely than the bird
That day by day about the dismal house
Screams out his frenzied word…
That night by night -
If a dog yelps
Or a cat yawls
Or a sick child whines,
Or a door screaks on its hinges,
Or a man and woman fight -
Sends his cry above the huddled roofs:
Vorwärts… Vorwärts…

VI

In this dingy cafe
The old men sit muffled in woollens.
Everything is faded, shabby, colorless, old…
The chairs, loose-jointed,
Creaking like old bones -
The tables, the waiters, the walls,
Whose mottled plaster
Blends in one tone with the old flesh.

Young life and young thought are alike barred,
And no unheralded noises jolt old nerves,
And old wheezy breaths
Pass around old thoughts, dry as snuff,
And there is no divergence and no friction
Because life is flattened and ground as by many mills.

And it is here the Committee -
Sweet-breathed and smooth of skin
And supple of spine and knee,
With shining unpouched eyes
And the blood, high-powered,
Leaping in flexible arteries -
The insolent, young, enthusiastic, undiscriminating Committee,
Who would placard tombstones
And scatter leaflets even in graves,
Comes trampling with sacrilegious feet!

The old men turn stiffly,
Mumbling to each other.
They are gentle and torpid and busy with eating.
But one lifts a face of clayish pallor,
There is a dull fury in his eyes, like little rusty grates.
He rises slowly,
Trembling in his many swathings like an awakened mummy,
Ridiculous yet terrible.
- And the Committee flings him a waste glance,
Dropping a leaflet by his plate.

A lone fire flickers in the dusty eyes.
The lips chant inaudibly.
The warped shrunken body straightens like a tree.
And he curses…
With uplifted arms and perished fingers,
Claw-like, clutching…
So centuries ago
The old men cursed Acosta,
When they, prophetic, heard upon their sepulchres
Those feet that may not halt nor turn aside for ancient things.

VII

Here in this room, bare like a barn,
Egos gesture one to the other -
Naked, unformed, unwinged
Egos out of the shell,
Examining, searching, devouring -
Avid alike for the flower or the dung…
(Having no dainty antennae for the touch and withdrawal -
Only the open maw…

Egos cawing,
Expanding in the mean egg…
Little squat tailors with unkempt faces,
Pale as lard,
Fur-makers, factory-hands, shop-workers,
News-boys with battling eyes
And bodies yet vibrant with the momentum of long runs,
Here and there a woman…

Words, words, words,
Pattering like hail,
Like hail falling without aim…
Egos rampant,
Screaming each other down.
One motions perpetually,
Waving arms like overgrowths.
He has burning eyes and a cough
And a thin voice piping
Like a flute among trombones.

One, red-bearded, rearing
A welter of maimed face bashed in from some old wound,
Garbles Max Stirner.
His words knock each other like little wooden blocks.
No one heeds him,
And a lank boy with hair over his eyes
Pounds upon the table.
- He is chairman.

Egos yet in the primer,
Hearing world-voices
Chanting grand arias…
Majors resonant,
Stunning with sound…
Baffling minors
Half-heard like rain on pools…
Majestic discordances
Greater than harmonies…
- Gleaning out of it all
Passion, bewilderment, pain…

Egos yearning with the world-old want in their eyes -
Hurt hot eyes that do not sleep enough…
Striving with infinite effort,
Frustrate yet ever pursuing
The great white Liberty,
Trailing her dissolving glory over each hard-won barricade -
Only to fade anew…

Egos crying out of unkempt deeps
And waving their dreams like flags -
Multi-colored dreams,
Winged and glorious…

A gas jet throws a stunted flame,
Vaguely illumining the groping faces.
And through the uncurtained window
Falls the waste light of stars,
As cold as wise men's eyes…
Indifferent great stars,
Fortuitously glancing
At the secret meeting in this shut-in room,
Bare as a manger.

VIII

Lights go out
And the stark trunks of the factories
Melt into the drawn darkness,
Sheathing like a seamless garment.

And mothers take home their babies,
Waxen and delicately curled,
Like little potted flowers closed under the stars.

Lights go out
And the young men shut their eyes,
But life turns in them…

Life in the cramped ova
Tearing and rending asunder its living cells…
Wars, arts, discoveries, rebellions, travails, immolations,
cataclysms, hates…
Pent in the shut flesh.
And the young men twist on their beds in languor and dizziness
unsupportable…
Their eyes - heavy and dimmed
With dust of long oblivions in the gray pulp behind -
Staring as through a choked glass.
And they gaze at the moon - throwing off a faint heat -
The moon, blond and burning, creeping to their cots
Softly, as on naked feet…
Lolling on the coverlet… like a woman offering her white body.

Nude glory of the moon!
That leaps like an athlete on the bosoms of the young girls stripped
of their linens;
Stroking their breasts that are smooth and cool as mother-of-pearl
Till the nipples tingle and burn as though little lips plucked at them.
They shudder and grow faint.
And their ears are filled as with a delirious rhapsody,
That Life, like a drunken player,
Strikes out of their clear white bodies
As out of ivory keys.

Lights go out…
And the great lovers linger in little groups, still passionately debating,
Or one may walk in silence, listening only to the still summons of Life -
Life making the great Demand…
Calling its new Christs…
Till tears come, blurring the stars
That grow tender and comforting like the eyes of comrades;
And the moon rolls behind the Battery
Like a word molten out of the mouth of God.

Lights go out…
And colors rush together,
Fusing and floating away…
Pale worn gold like the settings of old jewels…
Mauves, exquisite, tremulous, and luminous purples
And burning spires in aureoles of light
Like shimmering auras.

They are covering up the pushcarts…
Now all have gone save an old man with mirrors -
Little oval mirrors like tiny pools.
He shuffles up a darkened street
And the moon burnishes his mirrors till they shine like phosphorus…
The moon like a skull,
Staring out of eyeless sockets at the old men trundling home the pushcarts.

IX

A sallow dawn is in the sky
As I enter my little green room.
Sadie's light is still burning…
Without, the frail moon
Worn to a silvery tissue,
Throws a faint glamour on the roofs,
And down the shadowy spires
Lights tip-toe out…
Softly as when lovers close street doors.

Out of the Battery
A little wind
Stirs idly - as an arm
Trails over a boat's side in dalliance -
Rippling the smooth dead surface of the heat,
And Hester street,
Like a forlorn woman over-born
By many babies at her teats,
Turns on her trampled bed to meet the day.

LIFE!
Startling, vigorous life,
That squirms under my touch,
And baffles me when I try to examine it,
Or hurls me back without apology.
Leaving my ego ruffled and preening itself.

Life,
Articulate, shrill,
Screaming in provocative assertion,
Or out of the black and clotted gutters,
Piping in silvery thin
Sweet staccato
Of children's laughter,

Or clinging over the pushcarts
Like a litter of tiny bells
Or the jingle of silver coins,
Perpetually changing hands,
Or like the Jordan somberly
Swirling in tumultuous uncharted tides,
Surface-calm.

Electric currents of life,
Throwing off thoughts like sparks,
Glittering, disappearing,
Making unknown circuits,
Or out of spent particles stirring
Feeble contortions in old faiths
Passing before the new.

Long nights argued away
In meeting halls
Back of interminable stairways -
In Roumanian wine-shops
And little Russian tea-rooms…

Feet echoing through deserted streets
In the soft darkness before dawn…
Brows aching, throbbing, burning -
Life leaping in the shaken flesh
Like flame at an asbestos curtain.

Life -
Pent, overflowing
Stoops and façades,
Jostling, pushing, contriving,
Seething as in a great vat…

Bartering, changing, extorting,
Dreaming, debating, aspiring,
Astounding, indestructible
Life of the Ghetto…

Strong flux of life,
Like a bitter wine
Out of the bloody stills of the world…
Out of the Passion eternal.

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The Marriage Of Tirzah And Ahirad

IT is the dead of night:
Yet more than noonday light
Beams far and wide from many a gorgeous hall.
Unnumbered harps are tinkling,
Unnumbered lamps are twinkling,
In the great city of the fourfold wall.
By the brazen castle's moat,
The sentry hums a livelier note.
The ship-boy chaunts a shriller lay
From the galleys in the bay.
Shout, and laugh, and hurrying feet
Sound from mart and square and street,
From the breezy laurel shades,
From the granite colonnades,
From the golden statue's base,
From the stately market-place,
Where, upreared by captive hands,
The great Tower of Triumph stands,
All its pillars in a blaze
With the many-coloured rays,
Which lanthorns of ten thousand dyes
Shed on ten thousand panoplies.
But closest is the throng,
And loudest is the song,
In that sweet garden by the river side,
The abyss of myrtle bowers,
The wilderness of flowers,
Where Cain hath built the palace of his pride.
Such palace ne'er shall be again
Among the dwindling race of men.
From all its threescore gates the light
Of gold and steel afar was thrown;
Two hundred cubits rose in height
The outer wall of polished stone.
On the top was ample space
For a gallant chariot race,
Near either parapet a bed
Of the richest mould was spread,
Where amidst flowers of every scent and hue
Rich orange trees, and palms, and giant cedars grew.

In the mansion's public court
All is revel, song, and sport;
For there, till morn shall tint the east,
Menials and guards prolong the feast.
The boards with painted vessels shine;
The marble cisterns foam with wine.
A hundred dancing girls are there
With zoneless waists and streaming hair;
And countless eyes with ardour gaze,
And countless hands the measure beat,
As mix and part in amorous maze
Those floating arms and bounding feet.
But none of all the race of Cain,
Save those whom he hath deigned to grace
With yellow robe and sapphire chain,
May pass beyond that outer space.
For now within the painted hall
The Firstborn keeps high festival.
Before the glittering valves all night
Their post the chosen captains hold.
Above the portal's stately height
The legend flames in lamps of gold:
'In life united and in death
'May Tirzah and Ahirad be,
'The bravest he of all the sons of Seth,
'Of all the house of Cain the loveliest she.'

Through all the climates of the earth
This night is given to festal mirth.
The long continued war is ended.
The long divided lines are blended.
Ahirad's bow shall now no more
Make fat the wolves with kindred gore.
The vultures shall expect in vain
Their banquet from the sword of Cain.
Without a guard the herds and flocks
Along the frontier moors and rocks
From eve to morn may roam:
Nor shriek, nor shout, nor reddened sky,
Shall warn the startled hind to fly
From his beloved home.
Nor to the pier shall burghers crowd
With straining necks and faces pale,
And think that in each flitting cloud
They see a hostile sail.
The peasant without fear shall guide
Down smooth canal or river wide
His painted bark of cane,
Fraught, for some proud bazaar's arcades,
With chestnuts from his native shades,
And wine, and milk, and grain.
Search round the peopled globe to-night,
Explore each continent and isle,
There is no door without a light,
No face without a smile.
The noblest chiefs of either race,
From north and south, from west and east,
Crowd to the painted hall to grace
The pomp of that atoning feast.
With widening eyes and labouring breath
Stand the fair-haired sons of Seth,
As bursts upon their dazzled sight
The endless avenue of light,
The bowers of tulip, rose, and palm,
The thousand cressets fed with balm,
The silken vests, the boards piled high
With amber, gold, and ivory,
The crystal founts whence sparkling flow
The richest wines o'er beds of snow,
The walls where blaze in living dyes
The king's three hundred victories.
The heralds point the fitting seat
To every guest in order meet,
And place the highest in degree
Nearest th' imperial canopy.
Beneath its broad and gorgeous fold,
With naked swords and shields of gold,
Stood the seven princes of the tribes of Nod.
Upon an ermine carpet lay
Two tiger cubs in furious play,
Beneath the emerald throne where sat the signed of God.

Over that ample forehead white
The thousandth year returneth.
Still, on its commanding height,
With a fierce and blood-red light,
The fiery token burneth.
Wheresoe'er that mystic star
Blazeth in the van of war,
Back recoil before its ray
Shield and banner, bow and spear,
Maddened horses break away
From the trembling charioteer.
The fear of that stern king doth lie
On all that live beneath the sky:
All shrink before the mark of his despair,
The seal of that great curse which he alone can bear.
Blazing in pearls and diamonds' sheen.
Tirzah, the young Ahirad's bride,
Of humankind the destined queen,
Sits by her great forefather's side.
The jetty curls, the forehead high,
The swan like neck, the eagle face,
The glowing cheek, the rich dark eye,
Proclaim her of the elder race.
With flowing locks of auburn hue,
And features smooth, and eye of blue,
Timid in love as brave in arms,
The gentle heir of Seth askance
Snatches a bashful, ardent glance
At her majestic charms;
Blest when across that brow high musing flashes
A deeper tint of rose,
Thrice blest when from beneath the silken lashes
Of her proud eye she throws
The smile of blended fondness and disdain
Which marks the daughters of the house of Cain.

All hearts are light around the hall
Save his who is the lord of all.
The painted roofs, the attendant train,
The lights, the banquet, all are vain.
He sees them not. His fancy strays
To other scenes and other days.
A cot by a lone forest's edge,
A fountain murmuring through the trees,
A garden with a wildflower hedge,
Whence sounds the music of the bees,
A little flock of sheep at rest
Upon a mountain's swarthy breast.
On his rude spade he seems to lean
Beside the well remembered stone,
Rejoicing o'er the promised green
Of the first harvest man hath sown.
He sees his mother's tears;
His father's voice he hears,
Kind as when first it praised his youthful skill.
And soon a seraph-child,
In boyish rapture wild,
With a light crook comes bounding from the hill,
Kisses his hands, and strokes his face,
And nestles close in his embrace.
In his adamantine eye
None might discern his agony;
But they who had grown hoary next his side,
And read his stern dark face with deepest skill,
Could trace strange meanings in that lip of pride,
Which for one moment quivered and was still.
No time for them to mark or him to feel
Those inward stings; for clarion, flute, and lyre,
And the rich voices of a countless quire,
Burst on the ear in one triumphant peal.
In breathless transport sits the admiring throng,
As sink and swell the notes of Jubal's lofty song.

'Sound the timbrel, strike the lyre,
Wake the trumpet's blast of fire,
Till the gilded arches ring.
Empire, victory, and fame,
Be ascribed unto the name
Of our father and our king.
Of the deeds which he hath done,
Of the spoils which he hath won,
Let his grateful children sing.
When the deadly fight was fought,
When the great revenge was wrought,
When on the slaughtered victims lay
The minion stiff and cold as they,
Doomed to exile, sealed with flame,
From the west the wanderer came.
Six score years and six he strayed
A hunter through the forest shade.
The lion's shaggy jaws he tore,
To earth he smote the foaming boar,
He crushed the dragon's fiery crest,
And scaled the condor's dizzy nest;
Till hardy sons and daughters fair
Increased around his woodland lair.
Then his victorious bow unstrung
On the great bison's horn he hung.
Giraffe and elk he left to hold
The wilderness of boughs in peace,
And trained his youth to pen the fold,
To press the cream, and weave the fleece.
As shrunk the streamlet in its bed,
As black and scant the herbage grew,
O'er endless plains his flocks he led
Still to new brooks and postures new.
So strayed he till the white pavilions
Of his camp were told by millions,
Till his children's households seven
Were numerous as the stars of heaven.
Then he bade us rove no more;
And in the place that pleased him best,
On the great river's fertile shore,
He fixed the city of his rest.
He taught us then to bind the sheaves,
To strain the palm's delicious milk,
And from the dark green mulberry leaves
To cull the filmy silk.
Then first from straw-built mansions roamed
O'er flower-beds trim the skilful bees;
Then first the purple wine vats foamed
Around the laughing peasant's knees;
And olive-yards, and orchards green,
O'er all the hills of Nod were seen.

'Of our father and our king
Let his grateful children sing.
From him our race its being draws,
His are our arts, and his our laws.
Like himself he bade us be,
Proud, and brave, and fierce, and free.
True, through every turn of fate,
In our friendship and our hate.
Calm to watch, yet prompt to dare;
Quick to feel, yet firm to bear;
Only timid, only weak,
Before sweet woman's eye and cheek.
We will not serve, we will not know,
The God who is our father's foe.
In our proud cities to his name
No temples rise, no altars flame.
Our flocks of sheep, our groves of spice,
To him afford no sacrifice.
Enough that once the House of Cain
Hath courted with oblation vain
The sullen power above.
Henceforth we bear the yoke no more;
The only gods whom we adore
Are glory, vengeance, love.

'Of our father and our king
Let his grateful children sing.
What eye of living thing may brook
On his blazing brow to look?
What might of living thing may stand
Against the strength of his right hand?
First he led his armies forth
Against the Mammoths of the north,
What time they wasted in their pride
Pasture and vineyard far and wide.
Then the White River's icy flood
Was thawed with fire and dyed with blood,
And heard for many a league the sound
Of the pine forests blazing round,
And the death-howl and trampling din
Of the gigantic herd within.
From the surging sea of flame
Forth the tortured monsters came;
As of breakers on the shore
Was their onset and their roar;
As the cedar-trees of God
Stood the stately ranks of Nod.
One long night and one short day
The sword was lifted up to slay.
Then marched the firstborn and his sons
O'er the white ashes of the wood,
And counted of that savage brood
Nine times nine thousand skeletons.

'On the snow with carnage red
The wood is piled, the skins are spread.
A thousand fires illume the sky;
Round each a hundred warriors lie.
But, long ere half the night was spent,
Forth thundered from the golden tent
The rousing voice of Cain.
A thousand trumps in answer rang
And fast to arms the warriors sprang
O'er all the frozen plain.
A herald from the wealthy bay
Hath come with tidings of dismay.
From the western ocean's coast
Seth hath led a countless host,
And vows to slay with fire and sword
All who call not on the Lord.
His archers hold the mountain forts;
His light armed ships blockade the ports;
His horsemen tread the harvest down.
On twelve proud bridges he hath passed
The river dark with many a mast,
And pitched his mighty camp at last
Before the imperial town.

'On the south and on the west,
Closely was the city prest.
Before us lay the hostile powers.
The breach was wide between the towers.
Pulse and meal within were sold
For a double weight of gold.
Our mighty father had gone forth
Two hundred marches to the north.
Yet in that extreme of ill
We stoutly kept his city still;
And swore beneath his royal wall,
Like his true sons to fight and fall.

'Hark, hark, to gong and horn,
Clarion, and fife, and drum,
The morn, the fortieth morn,
Fixed for the great assault is come.
Between the camp and city spreads
A waving sea of helmed heads.
From the royal car of Seth
Was hung the blood-reg flag of death:
At sight of that thrice-hallowed sign
Wide flew at once each banner's fold;
The captains clashed their arms of gold;
The war cry of Elohim rolled
Far down their endless line.
On the northern hills afar
Pealed an answering note of war.
Soon the dust in whirlwinds driven,
Rushed across the northern heaven.
Beneath its shroud came thick and loud
The tramp as of a countless crowd;
And at intervals were seen
Lance and hauberk glancing sheen;
And at intervals were heard
Charger's neigh and battle word.

'Oh what a rapturous cry
From all the city's thousand spires arose,
With what a look the hollow eye
Of the lean watchman glared upon the foes,
With what a yell of joy the mother pressed
The moaning baby to her withered breast;
When through the swarthy cloud that veiled the plain
Burst on his children's sight the flaming brow of Cain!'

There paused perforce that noble song;
For from all the joyous throng,
Burst forth a rapturous shout which drowned
Singer's voice and trumpet's sound.
Thrice that stormy clamour fell,
Thrice rose again with mightier swell.
The last and loudest roar of all
Had died along the painted wall.
The crowd was hushed; the minstrel train
Prepared to strike the chords again;
When on each ear distinctly smote
A low and wild and wailing note.
It moans again. In mute amaze
Menials, and guests, and harpers gaze.
They look above, beneath, around,
No shape doth own that mournful sound.
It comes not from the tuneful quire;
It comes not from the feasting peers.
There is no tone of earthly lyre
So soft, so sad, so full of tears.
Then a strange horror came on all
Who sate at that high festival.
The far famed harp, the harp of gold,
Dropped from Jubal's trembling hold.
Frantic with dismay the bride
Clung to her Ahirad's side.
And the corpse-like hue of dread
Ahirad's haughty face o'erspread.
Yet not even in that agony of awe
Did the young leader of the fair-haired race
From Tirzah's shuddering grasp his hand withdraw,
Or turn his eyes from Tirzah's livid face.
The tigers to their lord retreat,
And crouch and whine beneath his feet.
Prone sink to earth the golden shielded seven.
All hearts are cowed save his alone
Who sits upon the emerald throne;
For he hath heard Elohim speak from heaven.
Still thunders in his ear the peal;
Still blazes on his front the seal:
And on the soul of the proud king
No terror of created thing
From sky, or earth, or hell, hath power
Since that unutterable hour.

He rose to speak, but paused, and listening stood,
Not daunted, but in sad and curious mood,
With knitted brow, and searching eye of fire.
A deathlike silence sank on all around,
And through the boundless space was heard no sound,
Save the soft tones of that mysterious lyre.
Broken, faint, and low,
At first the numbers flow.
Louder, deeper, quicker, still
Into one fierce peal they swell,
And the echoing palace fill
With a strange funereal yell.
A voice comes forth. But what, or where?
On the earth, or in the air?
Like the midnight winds that blow
Round a lone cottage in the snow,
With howling swell and sighing fall,
It wails along the trophied hall.
In such a wild and dreary moan
The watches of the Seraphim
Poured out all night their plaintive hymn
Before the eternal throne.
Then, when from many a heavenly eye
Drops as of earthly pity fell
For her who had aspire too high,
For him who loved too well.
When, stunned by grief, the gentle pair
From the nuptial garden fair,
Linked in a sorrowful caress,
Strayed through the untrodden wilderness;
And close behind their footsteps came
The desolating sword of flame,
And drooped the cedared alley's pride,
And fountains shrank, and roses died.

'Rejoice, O Son of God, rejoice,'
Sang that melancholy voice,
'Rejoice, the maid is fair to see;
The bower is decked for her and thee;
The ivory lamps around it throw
A soft and pure and mellow glow.
Where'er the chastened lustre falls
On roof or cornice, floor or walls,
Woven of pink and rose appear
Such words as love delights to hear.
The breath of myrrh, the lute's soft sound,
Float through the moonlight galleries round.
O'er beds of violet and through groves of spice,
Lead thy proud bride into the nuptial bower;
For thou hast bought her with a fearful price,
And she hath dowered thee with a fearful dower.
The price is life. The dower is death.
Accursed loss! Accursed gain!
For her thou givest the blessedness of Seth,
And to thine arms she brings the curse of Cain.

Round the dark curtains of the fiery throne
Pauses awhile the voice of sacred song:
From all the angelic ranks goes forth a groan,
'How long, O Lord, how long?'
The still small voice makes answer, 'Wait and see,
Oh sons of glory, what the end shall be.'

'But, in the outer darkness of the place
Where God hath shown his power without his grace,
Is laughter and the sound of glad acclaim,
Loud as when, on wings of fire,
Fulfilled of his malign desire,
From Paradise the conquering serpent came.
The giant ruler of the morning star
From off his fiery bed
Lifts high his stately head,
Which Michael's sword hath marked with many a scar.
At his voice the pit of hell
Answers with a joyous yell,
And flings her dusky portals wide
For the bridegroom and the bride.

'But louder still shall be the din
In the halls of Death and Sin,
When the full measure runneth o'er,
When mercy can endure no more,
When he who vainly proffers grace,
Comes in his fury to deface
The fair creation of his hand;
When from the heaven streams down amain
For forty days the sheeted rain;
And from his ancient barriers free,
With a deafening roar the sea
Comes foaming up the land.
Mother, cast thy babe aside:
Bridegroom, quit thy virgin bride:
Brother, pass thy brother by:
'Tis for life, for life, ye fly.
Along the drear horizon raves
The swift advancing line of waves.
On: on: their frothy crests appear
Each moment nearer, and more near.
Urge the dromedary's speed;
Spur to death the reeling steed;
If perchance ye yet may gain
The mountains that o'erhang the plain.

'Oh thou haughty land of Nod,
Hear the sentence of thy God.
Thou hast said, 'Of all the hills
Whence, after autumn rains, the rills
In silver trickle down,
The fairest is that mountain white
Which intercepts the morning light
From Cain's imperial town.
On its first and gentlest swell
Are pleasant halls where nobles dwell;
And marble porticoes are seen
Peeping through terraced gardens green.
Above are olives, palms, and vines;
And higher yet the dark-blue pines;
And highest on the summit shines
The crest of everlasting ice.
Here let the God of Abel own
That human art hath wonders shown
Beyond his boasted paradise.'

'Therefore on that proud mountain's crown
Thy few surviving sons and daughters
Shall see their latest sun go down
Upon a boundless waste of waters.
None salutes and none replies;
None heaves a groan or breathes a prayer
They crouch on earth with tearless eyes,
And clenched hands, and bristling hair.
The rain pours on: no star illumes
The blackness of the roaring sky.
And each successive billow booms
Nigher still and still more nigh.
And now upon the howling blast
The wreaths of spray come thick and fast;
And a great billow by the tempest curled
Falls with a thundering crash; and all is o'er.
In what is left of all this glorious world?
A sky without a beam, a sea without a shore.

'Oh thou fair land, where from their starry home
Cherub and seraph oft delight to roam,
Thou city of the thousand towers,
Thou palace of the golden stairs,
Ye gardens of perennial flowers,
Ye moted gates, ye breezy squares;
Ye parks amidst whose branches high
Oft peers the squirrel's sparkling eye;
Ye vineyards, in whose trellised shade
Pipes many a youth to many a maid;
Ye ports where rides the gallant ship,
Ye marts where wealthy burghers meet;
Ye dark green lanes which know the trip
Of woman's conscious feet;
Ye grassy meads where, when the day is done,
The shepherd pens his fold;
Ye purple moors on which the setting sun
Leaves a rich fringe of gold;
Ye wintry deserts where the larches grow;
Ye mountains on whose everlasting snow
No human foot hath trod;
Many a fathom shall ye sleep
Beneath the grey and endless deep,
In the great day of the revenge of God.'

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The Troubadour. Canto 1

CALL to mind your loveliest dream,--
When your sleep is lull'd by a mountain stream,
When your pillow is made of the violet,
And over your head the branches are met
Of a lime-tree cover'd with bloom and bees,
When the roses' breath is on the breeze,
When odours and light on your eyelids press
With summer's delicious idleness;
And upon you some shadowy likeness may glance
Of the faery banks of the bright Durance;
Just where at first its current flows
'Mid willows and its own white rose,--
Its clear and early tide, or ere
A shade, save trees, its waters bear.

The sun, like an Indian king, has left
To that fair river a royal gift
Of gold and purple; no longer shines
His broad red disk o'er that forest of pines
Sweeping beneath the burning sky
Like a death-black ocean, whose billows lie
Dreaming dark dreams of storm in their sleep
When the wings of the tempest shall over them sweep.
--And with its towers cleaving the red
Of the sunset clouds, and its shadow spread
Like a cloak before it, darkening the ranks
Of the light young trees on the river's banks,
And ending there, as the waters shone
Too bright for shadows to rest upon,
A castle stands; whose windows gleam
Like the golden flash of a noon-lit stream
Seen through the lily and water-flags' screen:
Just so shine those panes through the ivy green,
A curtain to shut out sun and air,
Which the work of years has woven there.
--But not in the lighted pomp of the west
Looks the evening its loveliest;
Enter yon turret, and round you gaze
On what the twilight east displays:
One star, pure, clear, as if it shed
The dew on each young flower's head;
And, like a beauty of southern clime,
Her veil thrown back for the first time,
Pale, timid as she feared to own
Her claim upon the midnight throne,
Shows the fair moon her crescent sign.
--Beneath, in many a serpentine,
The river wanders; chesnut trees
Spread their old boughs o'er cottages
Where the low roofs and porticoes
Are cover'd with the Provence rose.
And there are vineyards: none might view
The fruit o'er which the foliage weaves;
And olive groves, pale as the dew
Crusted its silver o'er the leaves.
And there the castle garden lay
With tints in beautiful array:
Its dark green walks, its fountains falling,
Its tame birds to each other calling;
The peacock with its orient rings,
The silver pheasant's gleaming wings;
And on the breeze rich odours sent
Sweet messages, as if they meant
To rouse each sleeping sense to all
The loveliness of evening's fall.--
That lonely turret, is it not
A minstrel's own peculiar spot?
Thus with the light of shadowy grey
To dream the pleasant hours away.

Slight columns were around the hall
With wreathed and fluted pedestal
Of green Italian marble made,
In likeness of the palm-trees' shade;
And o'er the ceiling starry showers
Mingled with many-colour'd flowers,
With crimson roses o'er her weeping,
There lay that royal maiden sleeping--
DANAE , she whom gold could move--
How could it move her heart to love?
Between the pillars the rich fold
Of tapestry fell, inwrought with gold,
And many-colour'd silks which gave,
Strange legends of the fair and brave.
And there the terrace covered o'er
With summer's fair and scented store;
As grateful for the gentle care
That had such pride to keep it fair.

And, gazing, as if heart and eye
Were mingled with that lovley sky,
There stood a youth, slight as not yet
With manhood's strength and firmness set;
But on his cold, pale cheek were caught
The traces of some deeper thought,
A something seen of pride and gloom,
Not like youth's hour of light and bloom:
A brow of pride, a lip of scorn,--
Yet beautiful in scorn and pride--
A conscious pride, as if he own'd
Gems hidden from the world beside;
And scorn, as he cared not to learn
Should others prize those gems or spurn.
He was the last of a proud race
Who left him but his sword and name,
And boyhood past in restless dreams
Of future deeds and future fame.

But there were other dearer dreams
Than the light'ning flash of these war gleams
That fill'd the depths of RAYMOND'S heart;
For his was now the loveliest part
Of the young poet's life, when first,
In solitude and silence nurst,
His genius rises like a spring
Unnoticed in its wandering;
Ere winter cloud or summer ray
Have chill'd, or wasted it away,
When thoughts with their own beauty fill'd
Shed their own richness over all,
As waters from sweet woods distill'd
Breathe perfume out where'er they fall.
I know not whether Love can fling
A deeper witchery from his wing
Than falls sweet Power of Song from thine.
Yet, ah! the wreath that binds thy shrine,
Though seemingly all bloom and light,
Hides thorn and canker, worm and blight.
Planet of wayward destinies
Thy victims are thy votaries!
Alas! for him whose youthful fire
Is vowed and wasted on the lyre,--
Alas! for him who shall essay,
The laurel's long and dreary way!
Mocking will greet, neglect will chill
His spirit's gush, his bosom's thrill;
And, worst of all, that heartless praise
Echoed from what another says.
He dreams a dream of life and light,
And grasps the rainbow that appears
Afar all beautiful and bright,
And finds it only formed of tears.
Ay, let him reach the goal, let fame
Pour glory's sunlight on his name,
Let his songs be on every tongue,
And wealth and honours round him flung:
Then let him show his secret thought,
Will it not own them dearly bought?
See him in weariness fling down
The golden harp, the violet crown;
And sigh for all the toil, the care,
The wrong that he has had to bear;
Then wish the treasures of his lute
Had been, like his own feelings, mute,
And curse the hour when that he gave
To sight that wealth, his lord and slave.

But RAYMOND was in the first stage
Of life's enchanted pilgrimage:
'Tis not for Spring to think on all
The sear and waste of Autumn's fall:--
Enough for him to watch beside
The bursting of the mountain tide,
To wander through the twilight shade
By the dark, arching pine-boughs made,
And at the evening's starlit hour
To seek for some less shadowy bower,
Where dewy leaf, and flower pale,
Made the home of the nightingale.
Or he would seek the turret hall,
And there, unheard, unseen of all,
When even the night winds were mute,
His rich tones answer'd to the lute;
And in his pleasant solitude
He would forget his wayward mood,
And pour his spirit forth when none
Broke on his solitude, save one.

There is a light step passing by
Like the distant sound of music's sigh;
It is that fair and gentle child,
Whose sweetness has so oft beguiled,
Like sunlight on a stormy day,
His almost sullenness away.

They said she was not of mortal birth,
And her face was fairer than face of earth:
What is the thing to liken it to?
A lily just dipp'd in the summer dew--
Parian marble--snow's first fall?--
Her brow was fairer than each and all.
And so delicate was each vein's soft blue,
'Twas not like blood that wander'd through.
Rarely upon that cheek was shed,
By health or by youth, one tinge of red;
And never closest look could descry,
In shine, or in shade, the hue of her eye:
But as it were made of light, it changed,
With every sunbeam that over it ranged;
And that eye could look through the long dark lash,
With the moon's dewy smile, or the lightning's flash.
Her silken tresses, so bright and so fair,
Stream'd like a banner of light on the air,
And seldom its sunny wealth around
Was chaplet of flowers or ribbon bound;
But amid the gold of its thousand curls
Was twisted a braid of snow-white pearls,--
They said 'twas a charmed spell; that before,
This braid her nameless mother wore;
And many were the stories wild
Whisper'd of the neglected child.

LORD AMIRALD , (thus the tale was told),
The former lord of the castle-hold,--
LORD AMIRALD had followed the chase
Till he was first and last in the race;
The blood-dy'd sweat hung on his steed,
Each breath was a gasp, yet he stay'd not his speed.
Twice the dust and foam had been wash'd
By the mountain torrent that over them dash'd;
But still the stag held on his way,
Till a forest of pine trees before them lay,
And bounding and crashing boughs declare
The stag and the hunter have enter'd there.
On, on they went, till a greenwood screen
Lay AMIRALD and his prey between:
He has heard the creature sink on the ground,
And the branches give way at his courser's bound.

The spent stag on the grass is laid;
But over him is leant a maid,
Her arms and fair hair glistening
With the bright waters of the spring;
And AMIRALD paused, and gazed, as seeing
Were grown the sole sense of his being.

At first she heard him not, but bent
Upon her pitying task intent;
The summer clouds of hair that hung
Over her brow were backwards flung,
She saw him! Her first words were prayer
Her gasping favourite's life to spare;
But her next tones were soft and low,
And on her cheek a mantling glow
Play'd like a rainbow; and the eye
That raised in pleading energy,
Shed, starlike, its deep beauty round,
Seem'd now as if to earth spell-bound.--
They parted: but each one that night
Thought on the meeting at twilight.

It matters not, how, day by day,
Love made his sure but secret way.
Oh, where is there the heart but knows
Love's first steps are upon the rose!

And here were all which still should be
Nurses to Love's sweet infancy,--
Hope, mystery, absence:--then each thought
A something holy with it brought.
Their sighs were breathed, their vows were given
Before the face of the high Heaven,
Link'd not with courtly vanities,
But birds and blossoms, leaves and trees:--
Love was not made for palace pride,
For halls and domes--they met beside
A marble fountain, overgrown
With moss, that made it nature's own,
Though through the green shone veins of snow,
Like the small Fairy's paved ways,
As if a relic left to show
The luxury of departed days,
And show its nothingness. The wave
That princely brows was wont to lave
Was left now for the wild bird's bill,
And the red deer to drink their fill.
Yet still it was as fair a spot
As in its once more splendid lot:
Around, the dark sweep of the pine
Guarded it like a wood-nymph's shrine,
And the gold-spotted moss was set
With crowds of the white violet.
One only oak grew by the spring,
The forest's patriarch and king;
A nightingale had built her nest
In the green shadow of its rest;
And in its hollow trunk the bees
Dwelt in their honey palaces;
And underneath its shelter stood,
Leant like a beauty o'er the flood
Watching each tender bud unclose,
A beautiful white Provence rose;--
Yet wan and pale as that it knew
What changing skies and sun could do;
As that it knew, and, knowing, sigh'd,
The vanity of summer pride;
As watching could put off the hour
When falls the leaf and fades the flower.
Alas! that every lovely thing
Lives only but for withering,--
That spring rainbows and summer shine
End but in autumn's pale decline.

And here the lovers met, what hour
The bee departed from the flower,
And droop'd the bud at being left,
Or as ashamed of each sweet theft,
What hour the soft wind bore along
The nightingale's moonlighted song.

And AMIRALD heard her father's name,
He whose it was, was link'd with fame:
Though driven from his heritage,
A hunted exile in his age,
For that he would not bend the knee,
And draw the sword at Rome's decree.

She led him to the lonely cot,
And almost AMIRALD wish'd his lot
Had been cast in that humbler life,
Over whose peace the hour of strife
Passes but like the storm at sea
That wakes not earth's tranquillity.

In secret were they wed, not then
Had AMIRALD power to fling again
The banner of defiance wide
To priestly pomp and priestly pride;
But day by day more strong his hand,
And more his friends, and soon the brand
That in its wrongs and silence slept
Had from its blood-stain'd scabbard leapt.
But here are told such varying tales
That none may know where truth prevails;
For there were hints of murder done,
And deeds of blood that well might shun
All knowledge; but the wildest one
Was most believed: 'twas whisper'd round
Lord AMIRALD in hunting found
An evil spirit, but array'd
In semblance of a human maid;
That 'twas some holy word whose force
Broke off their sinful intercourse.
But this is sure, one evening late
Lord AMIRALD reach'd his castle gate,
And blood was on his spurs of gold,
And blood was on his mantle's fold,--
He flung it back, and on his arm
A fair young child lay pillow'd warm;
It stretch'd its little hands and smiled,
And AMIRALD said it was his child,
And bade the train their aid afford
Suiting the daughter of their Lord.

Then sought his brother, but alone;
Yet there were some who heard a tone
Of stifled agony, a prayer
His child should meet a father's care;
And as he past the hall again
He call'd around his vassal train,
And bade them own his brother's sway.
Then past himself like a dream away,--
And from that hour none heard his name,
No tale, no tidings of him came,
Save a vague murmur, that he fell
In fighting with the Infidel.

But his fair child grew like a flower
Springing in March's earlier hour,
'Mid storm and chill, yet loveliest--
Though somewhat paler than the rest.

Perhaps it was her orphan'd state,
So young, so fair, so desolate,--
Somewhat of likeness in their fate
Made RAYMOND'S heart for her confess
Its hidden depths of tenderness.
Neglected both; and those that pine
In love's despair and hope's decline,
Can love the most when some sweet spell
Breaks the seal on affection's well,
And bids its waters flow like light
Returning to the darken'd sight.
And while his fallen fortunes taught
RAYMOND'S proud solitude of thought,
His spirit's cold, stern haughtiness
In her was gentle mournfulness.
The cold north wind which bows to earth
The lightness of the willow's birth
Bends not the mountain cedar trees;
Folding their branches from the breeze,
They stand as if they could defy
The utmost rage of storm and sky.
And she, she would have thought it sin
To harbour one sweet thought within,
In whose delight he had no part,--
He was the world of her young heart.
A childish fondness, yet revealing
Somewhat of woman's deeper feeling,--
Else wherefore is that crimson blush,
As her cheek felt her bosom's rush
Upon her face, while pausing now
Her eyes are raised to RAYMOND'S brow,
Who, lute-waked to a ballad old,
A legend of the fair and bold.

BALLAD.

HE raised the golden cup from the board,
It sparkled with purple wealth,
He kist the brim her lip had prest,
And drank to his ladye's health.

Ladye, to-night I pledge thy name,
To-morrow thou shalt pledge mine;
Ever the smile of beauty should light
The victor's blood-red wine.

There are some flowers of brightest bloom
Amid thy beautiful hair,
Give me those roses, they shall be
The favour I will wear.

For ere their colour is wholly gone,
Or the breath of their sweetness fled,
They shall be placed in thy curls again,
But dy'd of a deeper red.

The warrior rode forth in the morning light,
And beside his snow-white plume
Were the roses wet with the sparkling dew,
Like pearls on their crimson bloom.

The maiden stood on her highest tower,
And watch'd her knight depart;
She dash'd the tear aside, but her hand
Might not still her beating heart.

All day she watch'd the distant clouds
Float on the distant air,
A crucifix upon her neck,
And on her lips a prayer.

The sun went down, and twilight came
With her banner of pearlin grey,
And then afar she saw a band
Wind down the vale their way.

They came like victors, for high o'er their ranks
Were their crimson colours borne;
And a stranger penon droop'd beneath,
But that was bow'd and torn:

But she saw no white steed first in the ranks,
No rider that spurr'd before;
But the evening shadows were closing fast,
And she could see no more.

She turn'd from her watch on the lonely tower
In haste to reach the hall,
And as she sprang down the winding stair
She heard the drawbridge fall.

A hundred harps their welcome rung,
Then paused as if in fear;
The ladye enter'd the hall, and saw
Her true knight stretch'd on his bier!

THE song ceased, yet not with its tone
Is the minstrel's vision wholly flown;
But there he stood as if he had sent
His spirit to rove on the element.

But EVA broke on his trance, and the while
Play'd o'er her lip a sigh and a smile;--
'Now turn thee from that evening sky,
And the dreaming thoughts that are passing by,
And give me those buds, thou hast pluck'd away
The leaves of the rose round which they lay;
Yet still the boon thrice fair will be,
And give them for my tidings to me.
A herald waits in the court to claim
Aid in the Lady of Clarin's name;
And well you know the fair CLOTILDE
Will have her utmost prayer fulfill'd.
Go to the hall at once, and ask
That thine may be the glorious task
To spread the banner to the day
And lead the vassals to the fray.'--

He rush'd to the crowded hall, and there
He heard the herald's words declare
The inroad on her lands, the wrong
The lonely Countess suffer'd long,
And now SIR HERBERT'S arm'd array
Before her very castle lay;
But surely there was many a knight
Whose sword would strike for lady's right;
And surely many a lover's hand
In such a cause would draw the brand.

And rush'd the blood, and flash'd the light
To RAYMOND'S cheek, from RAYMOND'S eye,
When he stood forth and claim'd the fight,
And spoke of death and victory,
Those words that thrill the heart when first
Forth the young warrior's soul has burst.
And smiled the castle lord to see
His ward's impetuous energy.

'Well! get thy sword, the dawning day
Shall see thee lead my best array;
Suits it young warrior well to fight
For lady's cause and lady's right?
'Tis just a field for knight to win
His maiden spurs and honours in.'

And RAYMOND felt as if a gush
Of thousand waters in one rush
Were on his heart, as if the dreams
Of what, alas! life only seems,
Wild thoughts and noontide revelries,
Were turn'd into realities.
Impatient, restless, first his steed
Was hurried to its utmost speed:
And next his falchion's edge was tried,
Then waved the helmet's plume of pride,
Then wandering through the courts and hall,
He paused in none yet pass'd through all.

But there was one whose gentle heart
Could ill take its accustom'd part
In RAYMOND'S feelings, one who deem'd
That almost unkind RAYMOND seem'd:--
If thus the very name of war,
Could fill so utterly each thought,
How durst she hope, that when afar
EVA would be to memory brought.
Oh, she had yet the task to learn
How often woman's heart must turn
To feed upon its own excess
Of deep yet passionate tenderness!
How much of grief the heart must prove
That yields a sanctuary to love!

And ever since the crimson day
Had faded into twilight grey,
She had been in the gallery, where
Hung, pictured, knight and lady fair,
Where haughty brow, and lovely face,
Show'd youth and maiden of her race.

With both it was a favourite spot,
And names and histories which had not
A record save in the dim light
Tradition throws on memory's night
To them were treasures; they could tell
What from the first crusade befell.

There could not be a solitude
More fitted for a pensive mood
Than this old gallery,--the light
Of the full moon came coldly bright--
A silvery stream, save where a stain
Fell from the pictured window pane,--
A ruby flush, a purple dye,
Like the last sun-streak on the sky,
And lighted lip, and cheek of bloom
Almost in mockery of the tomb.

How sad, how strange to think the shade,
The copy faint of beauty made,
Should be the only wreck that death
Shall leave of so much bloom and breath.
The cheek, long since the earth-worm's prey,
Beside the lovely of to-day
Here smiles as bright, as fresh, as fair,
As if of the same hour it were.

There pass'd a step along the hall,
And EVA started as if all
Her treasures, secret until now,
Burnt in the blush upon her brow.
There was a something in their meeting,
A conscious trembling in her greeting,
As coldness from his eye might hide
The struggle of her love and pride;
Then fears of all too much revealing
Vanish'd with a reproachful feeling.

What, coldness! when another day
And RAYMOND would be far away,
When that to-morrow's rising sun
Might be the last he look'd upon!

'Come, EVA , dear! by the moonlight
We'll visit all our haunts to night.
I could not lay me down to rest,
For, like the feathers in my crest,
My thoughts are waving to and fro.
Come, EVA , dear! I could not go
Without a pilgrimage to all
Of garden, nook, and waterfall,--
Where, amid birds, and leaves, and flowers,
And gales that cool'd the sunny hours,
With legend old, and plaining song,
We found not summer's day too long.'

Through many a shadowy spot they past,
Looking its loveliest and its last,
Until they paused beneath the shade
Of cypress and of roses made,--
The one so sad, the one so fair,
Just blent as love and sorrow are.
And RAYMOND prayed the maiden gather,
And twine in a red wreath together
The roses. 'No,' she sigh'd 'not these
Sweet children of the sun and breeze,
Born for the beauty of a day,
Dying as all fair things decay
When loveliest,--these may not be,
RAYMOND , my parting gift to thee.'
From next her heart, where it had lain,
She took an amber scented chain,
To which a cross of gold was hung,
And round the warrior's neck she flung
The relique, while he kiss'd away
The warm tears that upon it lay.
And mark'd they not the pale, dim sky
Had lost its moonlit brilliancy,
When suddenly a bugle rang,--
Forth at its summons RAYMOND sprang,
But turn'd again to say farewell
To her whose gushing teardrops fell
Like summer rain,--but he is gone!
And EVA weeps, and weeps alone.

Dark was the shade of that old tower
In the grey light of morning's hour;
And cold and pale the maiden leant
Over the heavy battlement,
And look'd upon the armed show
That hurrying throng'd the court below:
With her white robe and long bright hair,
A golden veil flung on the air,
Like Peace prepared from earth to fly,
Yet pausing, ere she wing'd on high,
In pity for the rage and crime
That forced her to some fairer clime.
When suddenly her pale cheek burn'd,
For RAYMOND'S eye to her's was turn'd;
But like a meteor past its flame--
She was too sad for maiden shame.

She heard the heavy drawbridge fall,
And RAYMOND rode the first of all;
But when he came to the green height
Which hid the castle from his sight,
With useless spur and slacken'd rein,
He was the laggard of the train.
They paused upon the steep ascent,
And spear, and shield, and breast-plate sent
A light, as if the rising day
Upon a mirror flash'd its ray.
They pass on, EVA only sees
A chance plume waving in the breeze,
And then can see no more--but borne
Upon the echo, came the horn;
At last nor sight nor sound declare
Aught of what pass'd that morning there.

Sweet sang the birds, light swept the breeze,
And play'd the sunlight o'er the trees,
And roll'd the river's depths of blue
Quiet as they were wont to do.
And EVA felt as if of all
Her heart were sole memorial.

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The Minstrel ; Or, The Progress Of Genius - Book II.

I.
Of chance or change O let not man complain,
Else shall he never never cease to wail:
For, from the imperial dome, to where the swain
Rears the lone cottage in the silent dale,
All feel the assault of fortune's fickle gale;
Art, empire, earth itself to change are doom'd;
Earthquakes have raised to heaven the humble vale,
And gulphs the mountain's mighty mass entomb'd,
And where the Atlantic rolls wide continents have bloom'd.

II.
But sure to foreign climes we need not range,
Nor search the ancient records of our race,
To learn the dire effects of time and change,
Which in ourselves, alas! we daily trace.
Yet at the darken'd eye, the wither'd face,
Or hoary hair, I never will repine:
But spare, O Time, whate'er of mental grace,
Of candour, love, or sympathy divine,
Whate'er of fancy's ray, of friendship's flame is mine.

III.
So I, obsequious to Truth's dread command,
Shall here without reluctance change my lay,
And smile to the Gothic lyre with harsher hand;
Now when I leave that flowery path for aye
Of childhood, where I sported many a day,
Warbling and sauntering carelessly along;
Where every face was innocent and gay,
Each vale romantic, tuneful every tongue,
Sweet, wild, and artless all, as Edwin's infant song.

IV.
'Perish the lore that deadens young desire,'
Is the soft tenor of my song no more.
Edwin, though loved of Heaven, must not aspire
To bliss, which mortals never knew before.
On trembling wings let youthful fancy soar,
Nor always haunt the sunny realms of joy;
But now and then the shades of life explore;
Though many a sound and sight of wo annoy,
And many a qualm of care his rising hopes destroy.

V.
Vigour from toil, from trouble patience grows.
The weakly bosom, warm in summer bower,
Some tints of transient beauty may disclose;
But soon it withers in the chilling hour.
Mark yonder oak. Superior to the power
Of all the warring winds of heaven they rise,
And from the stormy promontory tower,
And toss their giant arms amid the skies,
While each assailing blast increase the strength supplies.

VI.
And now the downy cheek and deepen'd voice
Gave dignity to Edwin's blooming prime;
And walks of wider circuit were his choice,
And vales more wild, and mountains more sublime.
One evening, as he framed the careless rhyme,
It was his chance to wander far abroad,
And o'er a lonely eminence to climb,
Which heretofore his foot had never trode;
A vale appear'd below, a deep retired abode.

VII.
Thither he hied enamour'd of the scene:
For rocks on rocks piled, as by magic spell,
Here scorch'd with lightning, there with ivy green,
Fenced from the north and east this savage del;
Southward a mountain rose with easy swell,
Whose long long groves eternal murmur made,
And toward the western sun a streamlet fell,
Where, through the cliffs, the eye, remote, survey'd
Blue hills, and glittering waves, and skies in gold array'd.

VIII.
Along this narrow valley you might see
The wild deer sporting on the meadow ground,
And, here and there, a solitary tree,
Or mossy stone, or rock with woodbine crown'd.
Oft did the cliffs reverberate the sound
Of parted fragments tumbling from on high;
And from the summit of that craggy mound
The perching eagle oft was heard to cry,
Or on resounding wings to shoot athwart the sky.

IX.
One cultivated spot there was, that spread
Its flowery bosom to the noonday beam,
Where many a rose-bud rears its blushing head,
And herbs for food with future plenty teem.
Sooth'd by the lulling sound of grove and stream
Romantic visions swarm on Edwin's soul:
He minded not the sun's last trembling gleam,
Nor heard from afar the twilight curfew toll; -
When slowly on his ear these moving accents stole.

X.
'Hail, awful scenes, that calm the troubled breast,
And woo the weary to profound repose;
Can passion's wildest uproar lay to rest,
And whisper comfort to the man of woes!
Here Innocence may wander, safe from foes,
And Contemplation soar on seraph wings.
O Solitude, the man who thee forgoes,
When lucre lures him, or ambition stings,
Shall never know the source whence real grandeur springs.

XI.
'Vain man, is grandeur given to gay attire?
Then let the butterfly thy pride upbraid: -
To friends, attendant, armies, bought with hire?
It is thy weakness that requires their aid, -
To palaces, with gold and gems inlay'd?
They fear the thief, and tremble in the storm; -
To hosts, through carnage who to conquests wade?
Behold the victor vanquish'd by the worm!
Behold, what deeds of wo the locust can perform!

XII.
'True dignity is his, whose tranquil mind
Virtue has raised above the things below,
Who, every hope and fear to heaven resign'd,
Shrinks not, though Fortune aim her deadliest blow.'
- This strain from 'midst the rocks was heard to flow
In solemn sounds. Now beam'd the evening star,
And from embattled clouds emerging slow,
Cynthia came riding on her silver car;
And hoary mountain-cliffs shone faintly from afar.

XIII.
Soon did the solemn voice its theme renew;
(While Edwin wrapp'd in wonder listening stood)
'Ye tools and toys of tyranny, adieu,
Scorn'd by the wise, and hated by the good!
Ye only can engage the service brood
Of Levity and Lust, who all their days,
Ashamed of truth and liberty, have woo'd,
And hugg'd the chain, that glittering on their gaze
Seems to outshine the pomp of heaven's empyreal blaze.

XIV.
'Like them, abandon'd to ambition's sway,
I sought for glory in the paths of guile;
And fawn'd and smiled to plunder and betray,
Myself betray'd and plunder'd all the while;
So gnaw'd the viper the corroding file.
But now with pangs of keen remorse I rue
Those years of trouble and debasement vile -
Yet why should I this cruel theme pursue!
Fly, fly, detested thoughts, for ever from my view.

XV.
'The gusts of appetite, the clouds of care,
And storms of disappointment, all o'erpass'd,
Henceforth no earthly hope with heaven shall share
This heart where peace serenely shines at last.
And if for me no treasure be amass'd,
And if no future age shall hear my name,
I lurk the more secure from fortune's blast,
And with more leisure feed this pious flame,
Whose rapture far transcends the fairest hopes of fame.

XVI.
'The end and the reward of toil is rest.
Be all my prayer for virtue and for peace.
Of wealth and fame, of pomp and power possess'd,
Who ever felt his weight of wo decrease!
Ah! what avails the lore of Rome and Greece,
The lay heaven-prompted, and harmonious
The dust of Ophir, or the Tyrian fleece,
All that art, fortune, enterprise, can bring,
If envy, scorn, remorse, or pride the bosom wring?

XVII.
'Let Vanity adorn the marble tomb
With trophies, rhymes, and scutcheons of renown,
In the deep dungeon of some Gothic dome,
Where night and desolation ever frown.
Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,
With here and there a violet bestrown,
Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave;
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.

XVIII.
'And thither let the village swain repair;
And, light of heart the village maiden gay,
To deck with flowers her half-dishevel'd hair,
And celebrate the merry morn of May;
There let the shepherd's pipe the livelong day,
Fill all the grove with love's bewitching wo;
And when mild Evening comes with mantle gray,
Let not the blooming band make haste to go,
No ghosts nor spell my long and last abode shall know.

XIX.
'For though I fly to 'scape from fortune's rage,
And bear the scars of envy, spite, and scorn,
Yet with mankind no horrid war I wage,
Yet with no impious spleen my breast is torn;
For virtue lost, and ruin'd man, I mourn.
O man, creation's pride, heaven's darling child,
Whom nature's best, divinest gifts adorn,
Why from thy home are truth and joy exiled,
And all thy favourite haunts with blood and tears defiled!

XX.
'Along yon glittering sky what glory streams!
What majesty attends night's lovely queen;
Fair laugh our valleys in the vernal beams;
And mountains rise, and oceans roll between,
And all conspire to beautify the scene.
But, in the mental world, what chaos drear!
What forms of mournful, loathsome, furious mien!
O when shall Eternal Morn appear,
These dreadful forms to chase, this chaos dark to clear.

XXI.
'O thou, at whose creative smile, yon heaven,
In all the pomp of beauty, life, and light,
Rose from th' abyss; when dark Confusion, driven
Down down the bottomless profound of night,
Fled, where he ever flies thy piercing sight!
O glance on these sad shades one pitying ray,
To blast the fury of oppressive might,
Melt the hard heart to love and mercy's sway,
And cheer the wandering soul, and light him on the way.'

XXII.
Silence ensued: and Edwin raised his eyes
In tears, for grief lay heavy at his heart.
'And it is thus in courtly life (he cries)
That man to man acts a betrayer's part!
And dares he thus the gifts of Heaven pervert,
Each social instinct, and sublime desire! -
Hail poverty! if honour, wealth, and art,
If what the great pursue, and learn'd admire,
Thus dissipate and quench the soul's ethereal fire!'

XXIII.
He said, and turn'd away; nor did the sage
O'erhear, in silent orisons employ'd.
The youth, his rising sorrow to assuage,
Home as he hied, the evening scene enjoy'd:
For now no cloud obscures the starry void;
The yellow moonlight sleeps on all the hills;
Nor is the mind with startling sounds annoy'd,
A soothing murmur the lone region fills
Of groves, and dying gales, and melancholy rills.

XXIV.
But he from day to day more anxious grew,
The voice still seem'd to vibrate on his ear,
Nor durst he hope the Hermit's tale untrue;
For man he seem'd to love, and Heaven to fear;
And none speaks false, where there is none to hear.
'Yet can man's gentle heart become so fell!
No more in vain conjecture let me wear
My hours away, but seek the Hermit's cell;
'Tis he my doubt can clear, perhaps my care dispel.'

XXV.
At early dawn the youth his journey took,
And many a mountain pass'd, and valley wide,
Then reach'd the wild; where, in a flowery nook
And seated on a mossy stone, he spied
An ancient man: his harp lay him beside.
A stag sprung from the pasture at his call,
And, kneeling, lick'd the wither'd hand, that tied
A wreathe of woodbine round his antlers tall,
And hung his lofty neck with many a floweret small.

XXVI.
And now the hoary sage arose, and saw
The wanderer approaching: innocence
Smiled on his glowing cheek, but modest awe
Depress'd his eye, that fear'd to give offence.
'Who art thou, courteous stranger? and from whence?
Why roam thy steps to this abandon'd dale?'
'A shepherd-boy (the youth replied) far hence
My habitation; hear my artless tale;
Nor levity nor falsehood shall thine ear assail.

XXVII.
'Late as I roam'd, intent on Nature's charms,
I reach'd at eve this wilderness profound;
And, leaning where yon oak expands her arms,
Heard these rude cliffs thine awful voice rebound,
(For in thy speech I recognise the sound.)
You mourn'd for ruin'd man, and virtue lost,
And seem'd to feel of keen remorse the wound,
Pondering on former days, by guilt engross'd,
Or in the giddy storm of dissipation toss'd.

XXVIII.
'But say, in courtly life can craft be learn'd
Where knowledge opens, and exalts the soul?
Where Fortune lavishes her gifts unearn'd,
Can selfishness the liberal heart control?
Is glory there achieved by arts, as foul
As those which felons, fiends, and furies plan?
Spiders ensnare, snakes poison, tygers prowl;
Love is the godlike attribute of man.
O teach a simple youth this mystery to scan.

XXIX.
'Or else the lamentable strain disclaim,
And give me back the calm, contended mind;
Which, late exulting, view'd, in Nature's frame,
Goodness untainted, wisdom unconfined,
Grace, grandeur, and utility combined.
Restore those tranquill days, that saw me still
Well pleased with all, but most with human kind;
When Fancy roam'd through Nature's works at will,
Uncheck'd by cold distrust, and uninform'd of ill.'

XXX.
'Wouldest thou (the sage replied) in peace return
To the gay dreams of fond romantic youth,
Leave me to hide, in this remote sojourn,
From every gentle ear the dreadful truth:
For if my desultory strain with ruth
And indignation make thine eyes o'erflow,
Alas! what comfort could thy anguish soot,
Shouldst thou th' extent of human folly know.
Be ignorance thy choice, where knowledge leads to wo.

XXXI.
'But let untender thoughts afar be driven;
Nor venture to arraign the dread decree;
For know, to man, as candidate for heaven,
The voice of the Eternal said, Be free;
And this divine prerogative to thee
Does virtue, happiness, and heaven convey:
For virtue is the child of liberty,
And happiness of virtue; nor can they
Be free to keep the path who are not free to stray.

XXXII.
'Yet leave me not. I would allay that grief,
Which else might thy young virtue overpower;
And in thy converse I shall find relief,
When the dark shades of melancholy lower;
For solitude has many a dreary hour,
Even when exempt from grief, remorse, and pain:
Come often then; for, haply, in my bower
Amusement then, knowledge, wisdom thou may'st gain
If I one soul improve, I have not lived in vain.'

XXXIII.
And now, at length, to Edwin's ardent gaze
The Muse of history unrolls her page,
But few, alas! the scenes her art displays
To charm his fancy, or his heart engage,
Here Chiefs their thirst of power in blood assuage,
And straight their flames with tenfold fierceness burn:
Here smiling Virtue prompts the patriot's rage,
But lo, ere long, is left alone to mourn,
And languish in the dust, and clasp th' abandon'd urn.

XXXIV.
'Ah, what avails (he said) to trace the springs,
That whirl of empire the stupendous wheel!
Ah, what have I to do with conquering kings,
Hands drench'd in blood, and breasts begirt with steel!
To those, whom Nature taught to think and feel,
Heroes, alas! are things of small concern.
Could History man's secret heart reveal,
And what imports a heaven-born mind to learn,
Her transcripts to explore what bosom would not yearn!

XXXV.
'This praise, O Cheronean Sage, is thine.
(Why should this praise to thee alone belong!)
All else from Nature's moral path decline,
Lured by the toys that captivate the throng;
To herd in cabinets, and camps, among
Spoil, carnage, and the cruel pomp of pride;
Or chaunt of heraldry the drowsy song,
How tyrant blood, o'er many a region wide,
Rolls to a thousand thrones its execrable tide.

XXXVI.
'O who of man the story will unfold,
Ere victory and empire wrought annoy,
In that elysian age (misnamed of gold)
The age of love and innocence, and joy,
When all were great and free! man's sole employ
To deck the bosom of his parent earth;
Or toward his bower the murmuring stream decoy,
To aid the floweret's long-expected birth,
And lull the bed of peace, and crown the board of mirth.

XXXVII.
'Sweet were your shades, O ye primeval groves,
Whose boughs to man his food and shelter lent,
Pure in his pleasures, happy in his loves,
His eye still smiling, and his heart content.
Then, hand in hand, Health, Sport, and Labour went.
Nature supplied the wish she taught to crave.
None prowl'd for prey, none watch'd to circumvent,
To all an equal lot Heaven's bounty gave;
No vassal fear'd his lord, no tyrant fear'd his slave.

XXXVIII.
'But ah! th' Historic Muse has never dared
To pierce those hallow'd bowers: 'tis Fancy's beam
Pour'd on the vision of th' enraptured Bard,
That paints the charms of that delicious theme.
Then hail sweet Fancy's ray! and hail the dream
That weans the weary soul from guilt and wo!
Careless what others of my choice may deem,
I long where Love and Fancy lead to go,
And meditate on heaven; enough of earth I know.

XXXIX.
'I cannot blame thy choice (the Sage replied)
For soft and smooth are Fancy's flowery ways,
And yet even there, if left without a guide,
The young adventurer unsafely plays.
Eyes dazzled long by Fiction's gaudy rays,
In modest Truth no light nor beauty find.
And who, my child, would trust the meteor-blaze,
That soon must fail, and leave the wanderer blind,
More dark and helpless far, than if it ne'er had shined!

XL.
'Fancy enervates, while it soothes, the heart
And, while it dazzles, wounds the mental sight;
To joy each heightening charm it can impart,
But wraps the hour of wo in tenfold night.
And often, where no real ills affright,
Its visionary fiends, and endless train,
Assail with equal or superior might,
And thro' the throbbing heart, and dizzy brain,
And shivering nerves, shoot stings of more than mortal pain.

XLI.
'And yet, alas! the real ills of life
Claim the full vigour of a mind prepared,
Prepared for patient, long, laborious strife,
Its guide Experience, and Truth its guard.
We fare on earth as other men have fared;
Were they successful? Let not us despair.
Was disappointment oft their sole reward?
Yet shall their tale instruct, if it declare
How they have borne the load ourselves are doom'd to bear.

XLII.
'What charms th' Historic Muse adorn, from spoils,
And blood, and tyrants, when she wings her flight,
To hail the patriot Prince, whose pious toils
Sacred to science; liberty, and right,
And peace, through every age divinely bright
Shall shine the boast and wonder of mankind!
Sees yonder sun, from his meridian height,
A lovelier scene, than Virtue thus enshrined
In power, and man with man for mutual aid combined?

XLIII.
'Hail sacred Polity, by Freedom rear'd!
Hail sacred Freedom, when by Law restrain'd?
Without you what were man? A grovelling herd
In darkness, wretchedness, and want enchain'd.
Sublimed by you, the Greek and Roman reign'd
In arts unrivall'd: O, to latest days,
In Albion may your influence unprofaned
To godlike worth the generous bosom raise,
And prompt the Sage's lore, and fire the Poet's lays!

XLIV.
'But now let other themes our care engage,
For lo, with modest, yet majestic grace,
To curb Imagination's lawless rage,
And from within the cherish'd heart to brace,
Philosophy appears. The gloomy race
By Indolence and moping Fancy bred,
Fear, Discontent, Solicitude give place,
And Hope and Courage brighten in their stead,
While on the kindling soul her vital beams are shed.

XLV.
'Then waken from long lethargy to life,
The seeds of happiness, and powers of thought;
Then jarring appetites forego their strife,
A strife by ignorance to madness wrought.
Pleasure by savage man is dearly bought
With fell revenge, lust that defies control,
With gluttony and death. The mind untaught
Is a dark waste, where fiends and tempests howl;
As Phoebus to the world, is Science to the soul.

XLVI.
'And Reason now through Number, Time, and Space,
Darts the keen lustre of her serious eye,
And learns from facts compared, the laws to trace,
Whose long progression leads to Deity.
Can mortal strength presume to soar so high!
Can mortal sight, so oft bedimm'd with tears,
Such glory bear! - for lo, the shadows fly
From Nature's face; Confusion disappears,
And order charms the eyes, and harmony the ears.

XLVII.
'In the deep windings of the grove, no more
The hag obscene, and grisly phantom dwell;
Nor in the fall of mountain-stream, or roar
Of winds, is heard the angry spirit's yell;
No wizard mutters the tremendous spell,
Nor sinks convulsive in prophetic swoon;
Nor bids the noise of drums and trumpets swell,
To ease of fancied pangs the labouring moon,
Or chase the shade that blots the blazing orb of noon.

XLVIII.
'Many a long-lingering year, in lonely isle,
Stunn'd with th' eternal turbulence of waves,
Lo, with dim eyes, that never learn'd to smile,
And trembling hands, the famish'd native craves
O Heaven his wretched fare: shivering in caves,
Or scorch'd on rocks, he pines from day to day;
But Science gives the word; and lo, he braves
The surge and tempest, lighted by her ray,
And to a happier land wafts merrily away.

XLIX.
'And even where Nature loads the teeming plain
With the full pomp of vegetable store,
Her beauty, unimproved, is deadly bane;
Dark woods and rankling wilds, from shore to shore,
Stretch their enormous gloom; which to explore
Even Fancy trembles, in her sprightliest mood;
For there each eyeball gleams with lust of gore,
Nestles each murderous and each monstrous brood,
Plague lurks in every shade, and teams from every flood.

L.
''Twas from Philosophy man learn'd to tame
The soil by plenty to intemperance fed.
Lo, from the echoing axe, and thundering flame,
Poison and plague and yelling rage are fled.
The waters, bursting from their slimy bed,
Bring health and melody to every vale:
And, from the breezy main, and mountain's head,
Ceres and Flora, to the sunny dale,
To fan their glowing charms, invite the fluttering gale;

LI.
'What dire necessities on every hand
Our art, our strength, our fortitude require
Of foes intestine what a numerous band
Against this little throb of life conspire!
Yet Science can elude their fatal ire
A while, and turn aside Death's levell'd dart,
Sooth the sharp pang, allay the fever's fire,
And brace the nerves once more, and cheer the heart,
And yet a few soft nights and balmy days impart.

LII.
'Nor less to regulate man's moral frame
Science exerts her all-composing sway,
Flutters thy breast with fear, or pants for fame,
Or pines to Indolence and Spleen a prey,
Or Avarice, a fiend more fierce than they?
Flee to the shade of Academus' grove;
Where cares molest not, discord melts away
In harmony, and the pure passions prove
How sweet the words of truth breathed from the lips of Love.

LIII.
'What cannot Art and Industry perform,
When Science plans the progress of their toil!
They smile at penury, disease, and storm;
And oceans from their mighty mounds recoil,
When tyrants scourge, or demagogues embroil
A land, or when the rabble's headlong rage
Order transforms to anarchy and spoil,
Deep-versed in man the philosophic Sage
Prepares with lenient hand their frenzy to assuage.

LIV.
''Tis he alone, whose comprehensive mind,
From situation, temper, soil, and clime
Explored, a nation's various powers can bind
And various orders, in one form sublime
Of polity, that, 'midst the wrecks of time,
Secure shall lift its head on high, nor fear
Th' assault of foreign or domestic crime,
While public faith, and public love sincere,
And Industry and Law maintain their sway severe.

LV.
Enraptured by the Hermit's strain, the Youth
Proceeds the path of Science to explore.
And now, expanding to the beams of Truth,
New energies, and charms unknown before,
His mind discloses: Fancy now no more
Wantons on fickle pinion through the skies;
But fix'd in aim, and conscious of her power,
Sublime from cause to cause exults to rise,
Creation's blended stores arranging as she flies.

LVI.
Nor love of novelty alone inspires,
Their laws and nice dependencies to scan;
For, mindful of the aids that life requires,
And of the services man owes to man,
He meditates new arts on Nature's plan;
The cold desponding breast of Sloth to warm,
The flame of Industry and Genius fan,
And Emulation's noble rage alarm,
And the long hours of Toil and Solitude to charm.

LVII.
But she, who set on fire his infant heart,
And all his dreams, and all his wanderings shared,
And bless'd the Muse, and her celestial art,
Still claim th' Enthusiastic's fond and first regard
From Nature's beauties variously compared
And variously combined, he learns to frame
Those forms of bright perfection, which the Bard,
While boundless hopes and boundless views inflame,
Enamour'd consecrates to never-dying fame.

LVIII.
Of late, with cumbersome, though pompous show,
Edwin would oft his flowery rhyme deface,
Through ardour to adorn; but Nature now
To his experienced eye a modest grace
Presents, where Ornament the second place
Holds, to intrinsic worth and just design
Subservient still. Simplicity apace
Tempers his rage: he owns her charm divine,
And clear th' ambiguous phrase, and lops th' unwieldy line.

LIX.
Fain would I sing (much yet unsung remains)
What sweet delirium o'er his bosom stole,
When the great Shepherd of the Mantuan plains
His deep majestic melody 'gan roll:
Fain would I sing, what transport storm'd his soul,
How the red current throbb'd his veins along,
When, like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Gracefully terrible, sublimely strong,
Homer raised high to heaven the loud, th' impetuous song.

LX.
And how his lyre, though rude her first essays,
Now skill'd to sooth, to triumph, to complain,
Warbling at will through each harmonious maze,
Was taught to modulate the artful strain,
I fain would sing: - but ah! I strive in vain -
Sight from a breaking heart my voice confound -
With trembling step to join yon weeping train,
I haste, where gleams funereal glare around,
And, mix'd with shrieks of wo, the knells of death resound.

LXI.
Adieu, ye lays, that Fancy's flowers adorn,
The soft amusement of the vacant mind!
He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn,
He, whom each Virtue fired! each Grace refined,
Friend, teacher, pattern, darling of mankind! -
He sleeps in dust, - Ah, how should I pursue
My theme! - To heart-consuming grief resign'd,
Here on his recent grave I fix my view,
And pour my bitter tears. - Ye flowery lays, adieu!

LXII.
Art thou, my
Gregory
, for ever fled!
And am I left to unavailing wo!
When fortune's storms assail this weary head,
Where cares long since have shed untimely snow
Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go!
No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers
Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow,
My hopes to cherish, and allay my fears -
'Tis meet that I should mourn: - flow forth afresh my tears.

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Wind-Clouds And Star-Drifts

FROM THE YOUNG ASTRONOMER'S POEM

I.

AMBITION

ANOTHER clouded night; the stars are hid,
The orb that waits my search is hid with them.
Patience! Why grudge an hour, a month, a year,
To plant my ladder and to gain the round
That leads my footsteps to the heaven of fame,
Where waits the wreath my sleepless midnights won?
Not the stained laurel such as heroes wear
That withers when some stronger conqueror's heel
Treads down their shrivelling trophies in the dust;
But the fair garland whose undying green
Not time can change, nor wrath of gods or men!

With quickened heart-beats I shall hear tongues
That speak my praise; but better far the sense
That in the unshaped ages, buried deep
In the dark mines of unaccomplished time
Yet to be stamped with morning's royal die
And coined in golden days,--in those dim years
I shall be reckoned with the undying dead,
My name emblazoned on the fiery arch,
Unfading till the stars themselves shall fade.
Then, as they call the roll of shining worlds,
Sages of race unborn in accents new
Shall count me with the Olympian ones of old,
Whose glories kindle through the midnight sky
Here glows the God of Battles; this recalls
The Lord of Ocean, and yon far-off sphere
The Sire of Him who gave his ancient name
To the dim planet with the wondrous rings;
Here flames the Queen of Beauty's silver lamp,
And there the moon-girt orb of mighty Jove;
But this, unseen through all earth's ions past,
A youth who watched beneath the western star
Sought in the darkness, found, and shewed to men;
Linked with his name thenceforth and evermore
So shall that name be syllabled anew
In all the tongues of all the tribes of men:
I that have been through immemorial years
Dust in the dust of my forgotten time
Shall live in accents shaped of blood-warm breath,
Yea, rise in mortal semblance, newly born
In shining stone, in undecaying bronze,
And stand on high, and look serenely down
On the new race that calls the earth its own.

Is this a cloud, that, blown athwart my soul,
Wears a false seeming of the pearly stain
Where worlds beyond the world their mingling rays
Blend in soft white,--a cloud that, born of earth,
Would cheat the soul that looks for light from heaven?
Must every coral-insect leave his sign
On each poor grain he lent to build the reef,
As Babel's builders stamped their sunburnt clay,
Or deem his patient service all in vain?
What if another sit beneath the shade
Of the broad elm I planted by the way,--
What if another heed the beacon light
I set upon the rock that wrecked my keel,--
Have I not done my task and served my kind?
Nay, rather act thy part, unnamed, unknown,
And let Fame blow her trumpet through the world
With noisy wind to swell a fool's renown,
Joined with some truth he stumbled blindly o'er,
Or coupled with some single shining deed
That in the great account of all his days
Will stand alone upon the bankrupt sheet
His pitying angel shows the clerk of Heaven.
The noblest service comes from nameless hands,
And the best servant does his work unseen.
Who found the seeds of fire and made them shoot,
Fed by his breath, in buds and flowers of flame?
Who forged in roaring flames the ponderous stone,
And shaped the moulded metal to his need?
Who gave the dragging car its rolling wheel,
And tamed the steed that whirls its circling round?
All these have left their work and not their names,--
Why should I murmur at a fate like theirs?
This is the heavenly light; the pearly stain
Was but a wind-cloud drifting o'er the stars!

II.

REGRETS

BRIEF glimpses of the bright celestial spheres,
False lights, false shadows, vague, uncertain gleams,
Pale vaporous mists, wan streaks of lurid flame,
The climbing of the upward-sailing cloud,
The sinking of the downward-falling star,--
All these are pictures of the changing moods
Borne through the midnight stillness of my soul.

Here am I, bound upon this pillared rock,
Prey to the vulture of a vast desire
That feeds upon my life. I burst my bands
And steal a moment's freedom from the beak,
The clinging talons and the shadowing plumes;
Then comes the false enchantress, with her song;

'Thou wouldst not lay thy forehead in the dust
Like the base herd that feeds and breeds and dies
Lo, the fair garlands that I weave for thee,
Unchanging as the belt Orion wears,
Bright as the jewels of the seven-starred Crown,
The spangled stream of Berenice's hair!'
And so she twines the fetters with the flowers
Around my yielding limbs, and the fierce bird
Stoops to his quarry,--then to feed his rage
Of ravening hunger I must drain my blood
And let the dew-drenched, poison-breeding night
Steal all the freshness from my fading cheek,
And leave its shadows round my caverned eyes.
All for a line in some unheeded scroll;
All for a stone that tells to gaping clowns,
'Here lies a restless wretch beneath a clod
Where squats the jealous nightmare men call
Fame!'

I marvel not at him who scorns his kind
And thinks not sadly of the time foretold
When the old hulk we tread shall be a wreck,
A slag, a cinder drifting through the sky
Without its crew of fools! We live too long,
And even so are not content to die,
But load the mould that covers up our bones
With stones that stand like beggars by the road
And show death's grievous wound and ask for tears;
Write our great books to teach men who we are,
Sing our fine songs that tell in artful phrase
The secrets of our lives, and plead and pray
For alms of memory with the after time,
Those few swift seasons while the earth shall wear
Its leafy summers, ere its core grows cold
And the moist life of all that breathes shall die;
Or as the new-born seer, perchance more wise,
Would have us deem, before its growing mass,
Pelted with star-dust, stoned with meteor-balls,
Heats like a hammered anvil, till at last
Man and his works and all that stirred itself
Of its own motion, in the fiery glow
Turns to a flaming vapor, and our orb
Shines a new sun for earths that shall be born.

I am as old as Egypt to myself,
Brother to them that squared the pyramids
By the same stars I watch. I read the page
Where every letter is a glittering world,
With them who looked from Shinar's clay-built towers,
Ere yet the wanderer of the Midland sea
Had missed the fallen sister of the seven.
I dwell in spaces vague, remote, unknown,
Save to the silent few, who, leaving earth,
Quit all communion with their living time.
I lose myself in that ethereal void,
Till I have tired my wings and long to fill
My breast with denser air, to stand, to walk
With eyes not raised above my fellow-men.
Sick of my unwalled, solitary realm,
I ask to change the myriad lifeless worlds
I visit as mine own for one poor patch
Of this dull spheroid and a little breath
To shape in word or deed to serve my kind.
Was ever giant's dungeon dug so deep,
Was ever tyrant's fetter forged so strong,
Was e'er such deadly poison in the draught
The false wife mingles for the trusting fool,
As he whose willing victim is himself,
Digs, forges, mingles, for his captive soul?

III.

SYMPATHIES

THE snows that glittered on the disk of Mars
Have melted, and the planet's fiery orb
Rolls in the crimson summer of its year;
But what to me the summer or the snow
Of worlds that throb with life in forms unknown,
If life indeed be theirs; I heed not these.
My heart is simply human; all my care
For them whose dust is fashioned like mine own;
These ache with cold and hunger, live in pain,
And shake with fear of worlds more full of woe;
There may be others worthier of my love,
But such I know not save through these I know.

There are two veils of language, hid beneath
Whose sheltering folds, we dare to be ourselves;
And not that other self which nods and smiles
And babbles in our name; the one is Prayer,
Lending its licensed freedom to the tongue
That tells our sorrows and our sins to Heaven;
The other, Verse, that throws its spangled web
Around our naked speech and makes it bold.
I, whose best prayer is silence; sitting dumb
In the great temple where I nightly serve
Him who is throned in light, have dared to claim
The poet's franchise, though I may not hope
To wear his garland; hear me while I tell
My story in such form as poets use,
But breathed in fitful whispers, as the wind
Sighs and then slumbers, wakes and sighs again.

Thou Vision, floating in the breathless air
Between me and the fairest of the stars,
I tell my lonely thoughts as unto thee.
Look not for marvels of the scholar's pen
In my rude measure; I can only show
A slender-margined, unillumined page,
And trust its meaning to the flattering eye
That reads it in the gracious light of love.
Ah, wouldst thou clothe thyself in breathing shape
And nestle at my side, my voice should lend
Whate'er my verse may lack of tender rhythm
To make thee listen.

I have stood entranced
When, with her fingers wandering o'er the keys,
The white enchantress with the golden hair
Breathed all her soul through some unvalued rhyme;
Some flower of song that long had lost its bloom;
Lo! its dead summer kindled as she sang!
The sweet contralto, like the ringdove's coo,
Thrilled it with brooding, fond, caressing tones,
And the pale minstrel's passion lived again,
Tearful and trembling as a dewy rose
The wind has shaken till it fills the air
With light and fragrance. Such the wondrous charm
A song can borrow when the bosom throbs
That lends it breath.

So from the poet's lips
His verse sounds doubly sweet, for none like him
Feels every cadence of its wave-like flow;
He lives the passion over, while he reads,
That shook him as he sang his lofty strain,
And pours his life through each resounding line,
As ocean, when the stormy winds are hushed,
Still rolls and thunders through his billowy caves.


IV.

MASTER AND SCHOLAR

LET me retrace the record of the years
That made me what I am. A man most wise,
But overworn with toil and bent with age,
Sought me to be his scholar,-me, run wild
From books and teachers,-kindled in my soul
The love of knowledge; led me to his tower,
Showed me the wonders of the midnight realm
His hollow sceptre ruled, or seemed to rule,
Taught me the mighty secrets of the spheres,
Trained me to find the glimmering specks of light
Beyond the unaided sense, and on my chart
To string them one by one, in order due,
As on a rosary a saint his beads.
I was his only scholar; I became
The echo to his thought; whate'er he knew
Was mine for asking; so from year to year
W e wrought together, till there came a time
When I, the learner, was the master half
Of the twinned being in the dome-crowned tower.

Minds roll in paths like planets; they revolve,
This in a larger, that a narrower ring,
But round they come at last to that same phase,
That selfsame light and shade they showed before.
I learned his annual and his monthly tale,
His weekly axiom and his daily phrase,
I felt them coming in the laden air,
And watched them laboring up to vocal breath,
Even as the first-born at his father's board
Knows ere he speaks the too familiar jest
Is on its way, by some mysterious sign
Forewarned, the click before the striking bell.

He shrivelled as I spread my growing leaves,
Till trust and reverence changed to pitying care;
He lived for me in what he once had been,
But I for him, a shadow, a defence,
The guardian of his fame, his guide, his staff,
Leaned on so long he fell if left alone.
I was his eye, his ear, his cunning hand,
Love was my spur and longing after fame,
But his the goading thorn of sleepless age
That sees its shortening span, its lengthening shades,
That clutches what it may with eager grasp,
And drops at last with empty, outstretched hands.
All this he dreamed not. He would sit him down
Thinking to work his problems as of old,
And find the star he thought so plain a blur,
The columned figures labyrinthine wilds
Without my comment, blind and senseless scrawls
That vexed him with their riddles; he would strive
And struggle for a while, and then his eye
Would lose its light, and over all his mind
The cold gray mist would settle; and erelong
The darkness fell, and I was left alone.


V.

ALONE

ALONE! no climber of an Alpine cliff,
No Arctic venturer on the waveless sea,
Feels the dread stillness round him as it chills
The heart of him who leaves the slumbering earth
To watch the silent worlds that crowd the sky.
Alone! And as the shepherd leaves his flock
To feed upon the hillside, he meanwhile
Finds converse in the warblings of the pipe
Himself has fashioned for his vacant hour,
So have I grown companion to myself,
And to the wandering spirits of the air
That smile and whisper round us in our dreams.
Thus have I learned to search if I may know
The whence and why of all beneath the stars
And all beyond them, and to weigh my life
As in a balance,--poising good and ill
Against each other,--asking of the Power
That flung me forth among the whirling worlds,
If I am heir to any inborn right,
Or only as an atom of the dust
That every wind may blow where'er it will.


VI.

QUESTIONING

I AM not humble; I was shown my place,
Clad in such robes as Nature had at hand;
Took what she gave, not chose; I know no shame,
No fear for being simply what I am.
I am not proud, I hold my every breath
At Nature's mercy. I am as a babe
Borne in a giant's arms, he knows not where;
Each several heart-beat, counted like the coin
A miser reckons, is a special gift
As from an unseen hand; if that withhold
Its bounty for a moment, I am left
A clod upon the earth to which I fall.

Something I find in me that well might claim
The love of beings in a sphere above
This doubtful twilight world of right and wrong;
Something that shows me of the self-same clay
That creeps or swims or flies in humblest form.
Had I been asked, before I left my bed
Of shapeless dust, what clothing I would wear,
I would have said, More angel and less worm;
But for their sake who are even such as I,
Of the same mingled blood, I would not choose
To hate that meaner portion of myself
Which makes me brother to the least of men.

I dare not be a coward with my lips
Who dare to question all things in my soul;
Some men may find their wisdom on their knees,
Some prone and grovelling in the dust like slaves;
Let the meek glowworm glisten in the dew;
I ask to lift my taper to the sky
As they who hold their lamps above their heads,
Trusting the larger currents up aloft,
Rather than crossing eddies round their breast,
Threatening with every puff the flickering blaze.

My life shall be a challenge, not a truce!
This is my homage to the mightier powers,
To ask my boldest question, undismayed
By muttered threats that some hysteric sense
Of wrong or insult will convulse the throne
Where wisdom reigns supreme; and if I err,
They all must err who have to feel their way
As bats that fly at noon; for what are we
But creatures of the night, dragged forth by day,
Who needs must stumble, and with stammering steps
Spell out their paths in syllables of pain?

Thou wilt not hold in scorn the child who dares
Look up to Thee, the Father,--dares to ask
More than thy wisdom answers. From thy hand
The worlds were cast; yet every leaflet claims
From that same hand its little shining sphere
Of star-lit dew; thine image, the great sun,
Girt with his mantle of tempestuous flame,
Glares in mid-heaven; but to his noon-tide blaze
The slender violet lifts its lidless eye,
And from his splendor steals its fairest hue,
Its sweetest perfume from his scorching fire.


VII.

WORSHIP

FROM my lone turret as I look around
O'er the green meadows to the ring of blue,
From slope, from summit, and from half-hid vale
The sky is stabbed with dagger-pointed spires,
Their gilded symbols whirling in the wind,
Their brazen tongues proclaiming to the world,
'Here truth is sold, the only genuine ware;
See that it has our trade-mark! You will buy
Poison instead of food across the way,
The lies of -----' this or that, each several name
The standard's blazon and the battle-cry
Of some true-gospel faction, and again
The token of the Beast to all beside.
And grouped round each I see a huddling crowd
Alike in all things save the words they use;
In love, in longing, hate and fear the same.

Whom do we trust and serve? We speak of one
And bow to many; Athens still would find
The shrines of all she worshipped safe within
Our tall barbarian temples, and the thrones
That crowned Olympus mighty as of old.
The god of music rules the Sabbath choir;
The lyric muse must leave the sacred nine
To help us please the dilettante's ear;
Plutus limps homeward with us, as we leave
The portals of the temple where we knelt
And listened while the god of eloquence
(Hermes of ancient days, but now disguised
In sable vestments) with that other god
Somnus, the son of Erebus and Nox,
Fights in unequal contest for our souls;
The dreadful sovereign of the under world
Still shakes his sceptre at us, and we hear
The baying of the triple-throated hound;
Eros is young as ever, and as fair
The lovely Goddess born of ocean's foam.

These be thy gods, O Israel! Who is he,
The one ye name and tell us that ye serve,
Whom ye would call me from my lonely tower
To worship with the many-headed throng?
Is it the God that walked in Eden's grove
In the cool hour to seek our guilty sire?
The God who dealt with Abraham as the sons
Of that old patriarch deal with other men?
The jealous God of Moses, one who feels
An image as an insult, and is wroth
With him who made it and his child unborn?
The God who plagued his people for the sin
Of their adulterous king, beloved of him,--
The same who offers to a chosen few
The right to praise him in eternal song
While a vast shrieking world of endless woe
Blends its dread chorus with their rapturous hymn?
Is this the God ye mean, or is it he
Who heeds the sparrow's fall, whose loving heart
Is as the pitying father's to his child,
Whose lesson to his children is 'Forgive,'
Whose plea for all, 'They know not what they do'?


VIII.

MANHOOD

I CLAIM the right of knowing whom I serve,
Else is my service idle; He that asks
My homage asks it from a reasoning soul.
To crawl is not to worship; we have learned
A drill of eyelids, bended neck and knee,
Hanging our prayers on hinges, till we ape
The flexures of the many-jointed worm.
Asia has taught her Allahs and salaams
To the world's children,-we have grown to men!
We who have rolled the sphere beneath our feet
To find a virgin forest, as we lay
The beams of our rude temple, first of all
Must frame its doorway high enough for man
To pass unstooping; knowing as we do
That He who shaped us last of living forms
Has long enough been served by creeping things,
Reptiles that left their footprints in the sand
Of old sea-margins that have turned to stone,
And men who learned their ritual; we demand
To know Him first, then trust Him and then love
When we have found Him worthy of our love,
Tried by our own poor hearts and not before;
He must be truer than the truest friend,
He must be tenderer than a woman's love,
A father better than the best of sires;
Kinder than she who bore us, though we sin
Oftener than did the brother we are told
We--poor ill-tempered mortals--must forgive,
Though seven times sinning threescore times and
ten.

This is the new world's gospel: Be ye men!
Try well the legends of the children's time;
Ye are the chosen people, God has led
Your steps across the desert of the deep
As now across the desert of the shore;
Mountains are cleft before you as the sea
Before the wandering tribe of Israel's sons;
Still onward rolls the thunderous caravan,
Its coming printed on the western sky,
A cloud by day, by night a pillared flame;
Your prophets are a hundred unto one
Of them of old who cried, 'Thus saith the Lord;'
They told of cities that should fall in heaps,
But yours of mightier cities that shall rise
Where yet the lonely fishers spread their nets,
Where hides the fox and hoots the midnight owl;
The tree of knowledge in your garden grows
Not single, but at every humble door;
Its branches lend you their immortal food,
That fills you with the sense of what ye are,
No servants of an altar hewed and carved
From senseless stone by craft of human hands,
Rabbi, or dervish, brahmin, bishop, bonze,
But masters of the charm with which they work
To keep your hands from that forbidden tree!

Ye that have tasted that divinest fruit,
Look on this world of yours with opened eyes!
Y e are as gods! Nay, makers of your gods,--
Each day ye break an image in your shrine
And plant a fairer image where it stood
Where is the Moloch of your fathers' creed,
Whose fires of torment burned for span--long babes?
Fit object for a tender mother's love!
Why not? It was a bargain duly made
For these same infants through the surety's act
Intrusted with their all for earth and heaven,
By Him who chose their guardian, knowing well
His fitness for the task,--this, even this,
Was the true doctrine only yesterday
As thoughts are reckoned,--and to--day you hear
In words that sound as if from human tongues
Those monstrous, uncouth horrors of the past
That blot the blue of heaven and shame the earth
As would the saurians of the age of slime,
Awaking from their stony sepulchres
And wallowing hateful in the eye of day!


IX.

RIGHTS

WHAT am I but the creature Thou hast made?
What have I save the blessings Thou hast lent?
What hope I but thy mercy and thy love?
Who but myself shall cloud my soul with fear?
Whose hand protect me from myself but thine?
I claim the rights of weakness, I, the babe,
Call on my sire to shield me from the ills
That still beset my path, not trying me
With snares beyond my wisdom or my strength,
He knowing I shall use them to my harm,
And find a tenfold misery in the sense
That in my childlike folly I have sprung
The trap upon myself as vermin use,
Drawn by the cunning bait to certain doom.
Who wrought the wondrous charm that leads us on
To sweet perdition, but the selfsame power
That set the fearful engine to destroy
His wretched offspring (as the Rabbis tell),
And hid its yawning jaws and treacherous springs
In such a show of innocent sweet flowers
It lured the sinless angels and they fell?
Ah! He who prayed the prayer of all mankind
Summed in those few brief words the mightiest plea
For erring souls before the courts of heaven,--
_Save us from being tempted_,--lest we fall!

If we are only as the potter's clay
Made to be fashioned as the artist wills,
And broken into shards if we offend
The eye of Him who made us, it is well;
Such love as the insensate lump of clay
That spins upon the swift-revolving wheel
Bears to the hand that shapes its growing form,--
Such love, no more, will be our hearts' return
To the great Master-workman for his care,--
Or would be, save that this, our breathing clay,
Is intertwined with fine innumerous threads
That make it conscious in its framer's hand;
And this He must remember who has filled
These vessels with the deadly draught of life,--
Life, that means death to all it claims. Our love
Must kindle in the ray that streams from heaven,
A faint reflection of the light divine;
The sun must warm the earth before the rose
Can show her inmost heart-leaves to the sun.

He yields some fraction of the Maker's right
Who gives the quivering nerve its sense of pain;
Is there not something in the pleading eye
Of the poor brute that suffers, which arraigns
The law that bids it suffer? Has it not
A claim for some remembrance in the book
That fills its pages with the idle words
Spoken of men? Or is it only clay,
Bleeding and aching in the potter's hand,
Yet all his own to treat it as He will
And when He will to cast it at his feet,
Shattered, dishonored, lost forevermore?
My dog loves me, but could he look beyond
His earthly master, would his love extend
To Him who--Hush! I will not doubt that He
Is better than our fears, and will not wrong
The least, the meanest of created things!

He would not trust me with the smallest orb
That circles through the sky; He would not give
A meteor to my guidance; would not leave
The coloring of a cloudlet to my hand;
He locks my beating heart beneath its bars
And keeps the key himself; He measures out
The draughts of vital breath that warm my blood,
Winds up the springs of instinct which uncoil,
Each in its season; ties me to my home,
My race, my time, my nation, and my creed
So closely that if I but slip my wrist
Out of the band that cuts it to the bone,
Men say, 'He hath a devil;' He has lent
All that I hold in trust, as unto one
By reason of his weakness and his years
Not fit to hold the smallest shred in fee
Of those most common things he calls his own,--
And yet--my Rabbi tells me--He has left
The care of that to which a million worlds
Filled with unconscious life were less than naught,
Has left that mighty universe, the Soul,
To the weak guidance of our baby hands,
Let the foul fiends have access at their will,
Taking the shape of angels, to our hearts,--
Our hearts already poisoned through and through
With the fierce virus of ancestral sin;
Turned us adrift with our immortal charge,
To wreck ourselves in gulfs of endless woe.

If what my Rabbi tells me is the truth
Why did the choir of angels sing for joy?
Heaven must be compassed in a narrow space,
And offer more than room enough for all
That pass its portals; but the under-world,
The godless realm, the place where demons forge
Their fiery darts and adamantine chains,
Must swarm with ghosts that for a little while
Had worn the garb of flesh, and being heirs
Of all the dulness of their stolid sires,
And all the erring instincts of their tribe,
Nature's own teaching, rudiments of 'sin,'
Fell headlong in the snare that could not fail
To trap the wretched creatures shaped of clay
And cursed with sense enough to lose their souls!

Brother, thy heart is troubled at my word;
Sister, I see the cloud is on thy brow.
He will not blame me, He who sends not peace,
But sends a sword, and bids us strike amain
At Error's gilded crest, where in the van
Of earth's great army, mingling with the best
And bravest of its leaders, shouting loud
The battle-cries that yesterday have led
The host of Truth to victory, but to-day
Are watchwords of the laggard and the slave,
He leads his dazzled cohorts. God has made
This world a strife of atoms and of spheres;
With every breath I sigh myself away
And take my tribute from the wandering wind
To fan the flame of life's consuming fire;
So, while my thought has life, it needs must burn,
And, burning, set the stubble-fields ablaze,
Where all the harvest long ago was reaped
And safely garnered in the ancient barns.
But still the gleaners, groping for their food,
Go blindly feeling through the close-shorn straw,
While the young reapers flash, their glittering steel
Where later suns have ripened nobler grain!


X.

TRUTHS

THE time is racked with birth-pangs; every hour
Brings forth some gasping truth, and truth newborn
Looks a misshapen and untimely growth,
The terror of the household and its shame,
A monster coiling in its nurse's lap
That some would strangle, some would only starve;
But still it breathes, and passed from hand to hand,
And suckled at a hundred half-clad breasts,
Comes slowly to its stature and its form,
Calms the rough ridges of its dragon-scales,
Changes to shining locks its snaky hair,
And moves transfigured into angel guise,
Welcomed by all that cursed its hour of birth,
And folded in the same encircling arms
That cast it like a serpent from their hold!

If thou wouldst live in honor, die in peace,
Have the fine words the marble-workers learn
To carve so well, upon thy funeral-stone,
And earn a fair obituary, dressed
In all the many-colored robes of praise,
Be deafer than the adder to the cry
Of that same foundling truth, until it grows
To seemly favor, and at length has won
The smiles of hard-mouthed men and light-lipped dames;
Then snatch it from its meagre nurse's breast,
Fold it in silk and give it food from gold;
So shalt thou share its glory when at last
It drops its mortal vesture, and, revealed
In all the splendor of its heavenly form,
Spreads on the startled air its mighty wings!

Alas! how much that seemed immortal truth
That heroes fought for, martyrs died to save,
Reveals its earth-born lineage, growing old
And limping in its march, its wings unplumed,
Its heavenly semblance faded like a dream!
Here in this painted casket, just unsealed,
Lies what was once a breathing shape like thine,
Once loved as thou art loved; there beamed the eyes
That looked on Memphis in its hour of pride,
That saw the walls of hundred-gated Thebes,
And all the mirrored glories of the Nile.
See how they toiled that all-consuming time
Might leave the frame immortal in its tomb;
Filled it with fragrant balms and odorous gums
That still diffuse their sweetness through the air,
And wound and wound with patient fold on fold
The flaxen bands thy hand has rudely torn!
Perchance thou yet canst see the faded stain
Of the sad mourner's tear.


XI.

IDOLS

BUT what is this?
The sacred beetle, bound upon the breast
Of the blind heathen! Snatch the curious prize,
Give it a place among thy treasured spoils,
Fossil and relic,--corals, encrinites,
The fly in amber and the fish in stone,
The twisted circlet of Etruscan gold,
Medal, intaglio, poniard, poison-ring,--
Place for the Memphian beetle with thine hoard!

AM longer than thy creed has blest the world
This toy, thus ravished from thy brother's breast,
Was to the heart of Mizraim as divine,
As holy, as the symbol that we lay
On the still bosom of our white-robed dead,
And raise above their dust that all may know
Here sleeps an heir of glory. Loving friends,
With tears of trembling faith and choking sobs,
And prayers to those who judge of mortal deeds,
Wrapped this poor image in the cerement's fold
That Isis and Osiris, friends of man,
Might know their own and claim the ransomed soul.

An idol? Man was born to worship such!
An idol is an image of his thought;
Sometimes he carves it out of gleaming stone,
And sometimes moulds it out of glittering gold,
Or rounds it in a mighty frescoed dome,
Or lifts it heavenward in a lofty spire,
Or shapes it in a cunning frame of words,
Or pays his priest to make it day by day;
For sense must have its god as well as soul;
A new-born Dian calls for silver shrines,
And Egypt's holiest symbol is our own,
The sign we worship as did they of old
When Isis and Osiris ruled the world.

Let us be true to our most subtle selves,
We long to have our idols like the rest.
Think! when the men of Israel had their God
Encamped among them, talking with their chief,
Leading them in the pillar of the cloud
And watching o'er them in the shaft of fire,
They still must have an image; still they longed
For somewhat of substantial, solid form
Whereon to hang their garlands, and to fix
Their wandering thoughts and gain a stronger hold
For their uncertain faith, not yet assured
If those same meteors of the day and night
Were not mere exhalations of the soil.
Are we less earthly than the chosen race?
Are we more neighbors of the living God
Than they who gathered manna every morn,
Reaping where none had sown, and heard the voice
Of him who met the Highest in the mount,
And brought them tables, graven with His hand?
Yet these must have their idol, brought their gold,
That star-browed Apis might be god again;
Yea, from their ears the women brake the rings
That lent such splendors to the gypsy brown
Of sunburnt cheeks,--what more could woman do
To show her pious zeal? They went astray,
But nature led them as it leads us all.
We too, who mock at Israel's golden calf
And scoff at Egypt's sacred scarabee,
Would have our amulets to clasp and kiss,
And flood with rapturous tears, and bear with us
To be our dear companions in the dust;
Such magic works an image in our souls.

Man is an embryo; see at twenty years
His bones, the columns that uphold his frame
Not yet cemented, shaft and capital,
Mere fragments of the temple incomplete.
At twoscore, threescore, is he then full grown?
Nay, still a child, and as the little maids
Dress and undress their puppets, so he tries
To dress a lifeless creed, as if it lived,
And change its raiment when the world cries shame!

We smile to see our little ones at play
So grave, so thoughtful, with maternal care
Nursing the wisps of rags they call their babes;--
Does He not smile who sees us with the toys
We call by sacred names, and idly feign
To be what we have called them? He is still
The Father of this helpless nursery-brood,
Whose second childhood joins so close its first,
That in the crowding, hurrying years between
We scarce have trained our senses to their task
Before the gathering mist has dimmed our eyes,
And with our hollowed palm we help our ear,
And trace with trembling hand our wrinkled names,
And then begin to tell our stories o'er,
And see--not hear--the whispering lips that say,
'You know? Your father knew him.--This is he,
Tottering and leaning on the hireling's arm,'--
And so, at length, disrobed of all that clad
The simple life we share with weed and worm,
Go to our cradles, naked as we came.


XII.

LOVE

WHAT if a soul redeemed, a spirit that loved
While yet on earth and was beloved in turn,
And still remembered every look and tone
Of that dear earthly sister who was left
Among the unwise virgins at the gate,--
Itself admitted with the bridegroom's train,--
What if this spirit redeemed, amid the host
Of chanting angels, in some transient lull
Of the eternal anthem, heard the cry
Of its lost darling, whom in evil hour
Some wilder pulse of nature led astray
And left an outcast in a world of fire,
Condemned to be the sport of cruel fiends,
Sleepless, unpitying, masters of the skill
To wring the maddest ecstasies of pain
From worn-out souls that only ask to die,--
Would it not long to leave the bliss of heaven,--
Bearing a little water in its hand
To moisten those poor lips that plead in vain
With Him we call our Father? Or is all
So changed in such as taste celestial joy
They hear unmoved the endless wail of woe;
The daughter in the same dear tones that hushed
Her cradle slumbers; she who once had held
A babe upon her bosom from its voice
Hoarse with its cry of anguish, yet the same?

No! not in ages when the Dreadful Bird
Stamped his huge footprints, and the Fearful Beast
Strode with the flesh about those fossil bones
We build to mimic life with pygmy hands,--
Not in those earliest days when men ran wild
And gashed each other with their knives of stone,
When their low foreheads bulged in ridgy brows
And their flat hands were callous in the palm
With walking in the fashion of their sires,
Grope as they might to find a cruel god
To work their will on such as human wrath
Had wrought its worst to torture, and had left
With rage unsated, white and stark and cold,
Could hate have shaped a demon more malign
Than him the dead men mummied in their creed
And taught their trembling children to adore!

Made in his image! Sweet and gracious souls
Dear to my heart by nature's fondest names,
Is not your memory still the precious mould
That lends its form to Him who hears my prayer?
Thus only I behold Him, like to them,
Long-suffering, gentle, ever slow to wrath,
If wrath it be that only wounds to heal,
Ready to meet the wanderer ere he reach
The door he seeks, forgetful of his sin,
Longing to clasp him in a father's arms,
And seal his pardon with a pitying tear!

Four gospels tell their story to mankind,
And none so full of soft, caressing words
That bring the Maid of Bethlehem and her Babe
Before our tear-dimmed eyes, as his who learned
In the meek service of his gracious art
The tones which, like the medicinal balms
That calm the sufferer's anguish, soothe our souls.
Oh that the loving woman, she who sat
So long a listener at her Master's feet,
Had left us Mary's Gospel,--all she heard
Too sweet, too subtle for the ear of man!
Mark how the tender-hearted mothers read
The messages of love between the lines
Of the same page that loads the bitter tongue
Of him who deals in terror as his trade
With threatening words of wrath that scorch like flame
They tell of angels whispering round the bed
Of the sweet infant smiling in its dream,
Of lambs enfolded in the Shepherd's arms,
Of Him who blessed the children; of the land
Where crystal rivers feed unfading flowers,
Of cities golden-paved with streets of pearl,
Of the white robes the winged creatures wear,
The crowns and harps from whose melodious strings
One long, sweet anthem flows forevermore!
We too had human mothers, even as Thou,
Whom we have learned to worship as remote
From mortal kindred, wast a cradled babe.
The milk of woman filled our branching veins,
She lulled us with her tender nursery-song,
And folded round us her untiring arms,
While the first unremembered twilight yeas
Shaped us to conscious being; still we feel
Her pulses in our own,--too faintly feel;
Would that the heart of woman warmed our creeds!

Not from the sad-eyed hermit's lonely cell,
Not from the conclave where the holy men
Glare on each other, as with angry eyes
They battle for God's glory and their own,
Till, sick of wordy strife, a show of hands
Fixes the faith of ages yet unborn,--
Ah, not from these the listening soul can hear
The Father's voice that speaks itself divine!
Love must be still our Master; till we learn
What he can teach us of a woman's heart,
We know not His whose love embraces all.

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The King of the Vasse

A LEGEND OF THE BUSH.


MY tale which I have brought is of a time
Ere that fair Southern land was stained with crime,
Brought thitherward in reeking ships and cast
Like blight upon the coast, or like a blast
From angry levin on a fair young tree,
That stands thenceforth a piteous sight to see.
So lives this land to-day beneath the sun,—
A weltering plague-spot, where the hot tears run,
And hearts to ashes turn, and souls are dried
Like empty kilns where hopes have parched and died.
Woe's cloak is round her,—she the fairest shore
In all the Southern Ocean o'er and o'er.
Poor Cinderella! she must bide her woe,
Because an elder sister wills it so.
Ah! could that sister see the future day
When her own wealth and strength are shorn away,
A.nd she, lone mother then, puts forth her hand
To rest on kindred blood in that far land;
Could she but see that kin deny her claim
Because of nothing owing her but shame,—
Then might she learn 'tis building but to fall,
If carted rubble be the basement-wall.

But this my tale, if tale it be, begins
Before the young land saw the old land's sins
Sail up the orient ocean, like a cloud
Far-blown, and widening as it neared,—a shroud
Fate-sent to wrap the bier of all things pure,
And mark the leper-land while stains endure.
In the far days, the few who sought the West
Were men all guileless, in adventurous quest
Of lands to feed their flocks and raise their grain,
And help them live their lives with less of pain
Than crowded Europe lets her children know.
From their old homesteads did they seaward go,
As if in Nature's order men must flee
As flow the streams,—from inlands to the sea.

In that far time, from out a Northern land,
With home-ties severed, went a numerous band
Of men and wives and children, white-haired folk:
Whose humble hope of rest at home had broke,
As year was piled on year, and still their toil
Had wrung poor fee from -Sweden's rugged soil.
One day there gathered from the neighboring steads,
In Jacob Eibsen's, five strong household heads,—
Five men large-limbed and sinewed, Jacob's sons,
Though he was hale, as one whose current runs
In stony channels, that the streamlet rend,
But keep it clear and full unto the end.
Eight sons had Jacob Eibsen,—three still boys,
And these five men, who owned of griefs and joys
The common lot; and three tall girls beside,
Of whom the eldest was a blushing bride
One year before. Old-fashioned times and men,
And wives and maidens, were in Sweden then.
These five came there for counsel: they were tired
Of hoping on for all the heart desired;
And Jacob, old but mighty-thewed as youth,
In all their words did sadly own the truth,
And said unto them, 'Wealth cannot be found
In Sweden now by men who till the ground.
I've thought at times of leaving this bare place,
And holding seaward with a seeking face
For those new lands they speak of, where men thrive.
Alone .I've thought of this-; but now you five—
Five brother men of Eibsen blood—shall say
If our old stock from here must wend their way,
And seek a home where anxious sires can give
To every child enough whereon to live.'

Then each took thought in silence. Jacob gazed
Across them at the pastures worn and grazed
By ill-fed herds; his glance to corn-fields passed,
Where stunted oats, worse each year than the last,
And blighted barley, grew amongst the stones,
That showed ungainly, like earth's fleshless bones.
He sighed, and turned away. 'Sons, let me know
What think you?'

Each one answered firm, 'We go.'
And then they said, 'We want no northern wind
To chill us more, or driving hail to blind.
But let us sail where south winds fan the sea,
And happier we and all our race shall be.'
And so in time there started for the coast,
With farm and household gear, this Eibsen host;
And there, with others, to a good ship passed,
Which soon of Sweden's hills beheld the last.

I know not of their voyage, nor how they
Did wonder-stricken sit, as day by day,
'Neath tropic rays, they saw the smooth sea swell
And heave; while night by night the north-star fell,
Till last they watched him burning on the sea;
Nor how they saw, and wondered it could be,
Strange beacons rise before them as they gazed:
Nor how their hearts grew light when southward blazed
Five stars in blessed shape,—the Cross! whose flame
Seemed shining welcome as the wanderers came.

My story presses from this star-born hope
To where on young New Holland's western slope
These Northern-farming folk found homes at last,
And all their thankless toil seemed now long past.
Nine fruitful years chased over, and nigh all
Of life was sweet. But one dark dropp of gall
Had come when first they landed, like a sign
Of some black woe; and deep in Eibsen's wine
Of life it hid, till in the sweetest cup
The old man saw its shape come shuddering up.
And first it came in this wise: when their ship
Had made the promised land, and every lip
Was pouring praise for what the eye did meet,—
For all the air was yellow as with heat
Above the peaceful sea and dazzling sand
That wooed each other round the beauteous land,
Where inward stretched the slumbering forest's green,—
When first these sights from off the deck were seen,
There rose a wailing stern wards, and the men
Who dreamt of heaven turned to earth agen,
And heard the direful cause with bated breath,—
The land's first gleam had brought the blight of death!

The wife of Eibsen held her six-years' son,
Her youngest, and in secret best-loved one,
Close to her lifeless: his had been the cry
That first horizonwards bent every eye;
And from that opening sight of sand and tree
Like one deep spell-bound did he seem to be,
And moved by some strange phantasy; his eyes
Were wide distended as in glad surprise
At something there he saw; his arms reached o'er
The vessel's side as if to greet the shore,
And sounds came from his lips like sobs of joy.

A brief time so; and then the blue-eyed boy
Sank down convulsed, as if to him appeared
Strange sights that they saw not; and all afeard
Grew the late joyous people with vague dread;
And loud the mother wailed above her dead.
The ship steered in and found a bay, and then
The anchor plunged aweary-like: the men
Breathed breaths of rest at treading land agen.

Upon the beach by Christian men untrod
The wanderers kneeling offered up to God
The land's first-fruits; and nigh the kneeling band
The burdened mother sat upon the sand,
And still she wailed, not praying.

'Neath the wood
That lined the beach a crowd of watchers stood:
Tall men spear-armed, with skins like dusky night,
And aspect blended of deep awe and fright.
The ship that morn they saw, like some vast bird,
Come sailing toward their country; and they heard
The voices now of those strange men whose eyes
Were turned aloft, who spake unto the skies!

They heard and feared, not knowing, that first prayer,
But feared not when the wail arose, for there
Was some familiar thing did not appall,—
Grief, common heritage and lot of all.
They moved and breathed more freely at the cry,
And slowly from the wood, and timorously,
They one by one emerged upon the beach.
The white men saw, and like to friends did reach
Their hands unarmed; and soon the dusky crowd
Drew nigh and stood where wailed the mother loud.
They claimed her kindred, they could understand
That woe was hers and theirs; whereas the band
Of white-skinned men did not as brethren seem.
But now, behold! a man, whom one would deem
From eye and mien, wherever met, a King,
Did stand beside the woman. No youth's spring
Was in the foot that naked pressed the sand;
No warrior's might was in the long dark hand
That waved his people backward; no bright gold.
Of lace or armor glittered; gaunt and old,—
A belt, half apron, made of emu-down,
Upon his loins; upon his head no crown
Save only that which eighty years did trace
In whitened hair above his furrowed face.
Nigh nude he was: a short fur boka hung
In toga-folds upon his back, but flung
From his right arm and shoulder,—ever there
The spear-arm of the warrior is bare.

So stood he nigh the woman, gaunt and wild
But king-like, spearless, looking on the child
That lay with livid face upon her knees.
Thus long and fixed he gazed, as one who sees
A symbol hidden in a simple thing,
And trembles at its meaning: so the King
Fell trembling there, and from his breast there broke
A cry, part joy, part fear; then to his folk
With upraised hands he spoke one guttural word,
And said it over thrice; and when they heard,
They, too, were stricken with strange fear and joy.

The white-haired King then to the breathless boy
Drew closer still, while all the dusky crowd
In weird abasement to the earth were bowed.
Across his breast the aged ruler wore
A leathern thong or belt; whate'er it bore
Was hidden 'neath the boka. As he drew
Anigh the mother, from his side he threw
Far back the skin that made his rich-furred robe,
And showed upon the belt a small red globe
Of carven wood, bright-polished, as with years:
When this they saw, deep grew his people's fears,
And to the white sand were their foreheads pressed.

The King then raised his arms, as if he blest
The youth who lay there seeming dead and cold;
Then took the globe and oped it, and behold!
Within it, bedded in the carven case,
There lay a precious thing for that rude race
To hold, though it as God they seemed to prize, —
A Pearl of purest hue and wondrous size!

And as the sunbeams kissed it, from the dead
The dusk King looked, and o'er his snowy head
With both long hands he raised the enthroned gem,
And turned him toward the strangers: e'en on them
Before the lovely Thing, an awe did fall
To see that worship deep and mystical,
That King with upraised god, like rev' rent priest
With elevated Host at Christian feast.

Then to the mother turning slow, the King
Took out the Pearl, and laid the beauteous Thing
Upon the dead boy's mouth and brow and breast,
And as it touched him, lo! the awful rest
Of death was broken, and the youth uprose!

* * * * * * *

Nine years passed over since on that fair shore
The wanderers knelt,—but wanderers they no more.
With hopeful hearts they bore the promise-pain
Of early labor, and soon bending grain
And herds and homesteads and a teeming soil
A thousand-fold repaid their patient toil.

Nine times the sun's high glory glared above,
As if his might set naught on human love,
But yearned to scorn and scorch the things that grew
On man's poor home, till all the forest's hue
Of blessed green was burned to dusty brown;
And still the ruthless rays rained fiercely down,
Till insects, reptiles, shriveled as they lay,
And piteous cracks, like lips, in parching clay
Sent silent pleadings skyward,—as if she,
The fruitful, generous mother, plaintively
Did wail for water. Lo! her cry is heard,
And swift, obedient to the Ruler's word,
From Southern Iceland sweeps the cool sea breeze,
To fan the earth and bless the suffering trees,
And bear dense clouds with bursting weight of rain
To soothe with moisture all the parching pain.

Oh, Mercy's sweetest symbol! only they
Who see the earth agape in burning day,
Who watch its living things thirst-stricken lie,
And turn from brazen heaven as they die,—
Their hearts alone, the shadowy cloud can prize
That veils the sun,—as to poor earth-dimmed eyes
The sorrow comes to veil our joy's dear face,
All rich-in mercy and in God's sweet grace!

Thrice welcome, clouds from seaward, settling down
O'er thirsting nature! Now the trees' dull brown
Is washed away, and leaflet buds appear,
And youngling undergrowth, and far and near
The bush is whispering in her pent-up glee,
As myriad roots bestir them to be free,
And drink the soaking moisture; while bright heaven
Shows clear, as inland are the spent clouds driven;
And oh! that arch, that sky's intensate hue!
That deep, God-painted, unimagined blue
Through which the golden sun now smiling sails,
And sends his love to fructify the vales
That late he seemed to curse! Earth throbs and heaves
With pregnant prescience of life and leaves;
The shadows darken 'neath the tall trees' screen,
While round their stems the rank and velvet green
Of undergrowth is deeper still; and there,
Within the double shade and steaming air,
The scarlet palm has fixed its noxious root,
And hangs the glorious poison of its fruit;
And there, 'mid shaded green and shaded light,
The steel-blue silent birds take rapid flight
From earth to tree and tree to earth; and there
The crimson-plumaged parrot cleaves the air
Like flying fire, and huge brown owls awake
To watch, far down, the stealing carpet snake,
Fresh-skinned and glowing in his changing dyes,
With evil wisdom in the cruel eyes
That glint like gems as o'er his head flits by
The blue-black armor of the emperor-fly;
And all the humid earth displays its powers
Of prayer, with incense from the hearts of flowers
That load the air with beauty and with wine
Of mingled color, as with one design
Of making there a carpet to be trod,
In woven splendor, by the feet of God!

And high o'erhead is color: round and round
The towering gums and tuads, closely wound
Like cables, creep the climbers to the sun,
And over all the reaching branches run
And hang, and still send shoots that climb and wind
Till every arm and spray and leaf is twined,
And miles of trees, like brethren joined in love,
Are drawn and laced; while round them and above,
When all is knit, the creeper rests for days
As gathering might, and then one blinding blaze
Of very glory sends, in wealth and strength,
Of scarlet flowers o'er the forest's length!

Such scenes as these have subtile power to trace
Their clear-lined impress on the mind and face;
And these strange simple folk, not knowing why,
Grew more and more to silence; and the eye,
The quiet eye of Swedish gray, grew deep
With listening to the solemn rustling sweep
From wings of Silence, and the earth's great psalm
Intoned forever by the forest's calm.

But most of all was younger Jacob changed:
From morn till night, alone, the woods he ranged,
To kindred, pastime, sympathy estranged.
Since that first day of landing from the ship
When with the Pearl on brow and breast and lip
The aged King had touched him and he rose,
His former life had left him, and he chose
The woods as home, the wild, uncultured men
As friends and comrades. It were better then,
His brethren said, the boy had truly died
Than they should live to be by him denied,
As now they were. He lived in somber mood,
He spoke no word to them, he broke no food
That they did eat: his former life was dead,—
The soul brought back was not the soul that fled!
'Twas Jacob's form and feature, but the light
Within his eyes was strange unto their sight.

His mother's grief was piteous to see;
Unloving was he to the rest, but she
Held undespairing hope that deep within
Her son's changed heart was love that she might win
By patient tenderness; and so she strove
For nine long years, but won no look of love!

At last his brethren gazed on him with awe,
And knew untold that from the form they saw
Their brother's gentle mind was sure dispelled,
And now a gloomy savage soul it held.
From that first day, close intercourse he had
With those who raised him up,—fierce men, unclad,
Spear-armed and wild, in all their ways uncouth,
And strange to every habit of his youth.
His food they brought, his will they seemed to crave,
The wildest bushman tended like a slave;
He worked their charms, their hideous chants he sung;
Though dumb to all his own, their guttural tongue
He often spoke in tones of curt command,
And kinged it proudly o'er the dusky band.

And once each year there gathered from afar
A swarming host, as if a sudden war
Had called them forth, and with them did they bring
In solemn, savage pomp the white-haired King,
Who year by year more withered was and weak;
And he would lead the youth apart and speak
Some occult words, and from the carven case
Would take the Pearl and touch the young man's face,
And hold it o'er him blessing; while the crowd,
As on the shore, in dumb abasement bowed.
And when the King had closed the formal rite,
The rest held savage revelry by night,
Round blazing fires, with dance and orgies base,
That roused the sleeping echoes of the place,
Which down the forest vistas moaned the din,
Like spirits pure beholding impious sin.

Nine times they gathered thus; but on the last
The old king's waning life seemed well-nigh past.
His feeble strength had failed: he walked no more,
But on a woven spear-wood couch they bore
With careful tread the form that barely gasped,
As if the door of death now hung unhasped,
Awaiting but a breath to swing, and show
The dim eternal plain that stretched below.

The tenth year waned: the cloistered bush was stilled,
The earth lay sleeping, while the clouds distilled
In ghostly veil their blessing. Thin and white,
Through opening trees the moonbeams cleft the night,
And showed the somber arches, taller far
Than grandest aisles of built cathedrals are.
And up those dim-lit aisles in silence streamed
Tall men with trailing spears, until it seemed,
So many lines converged of endless length,
A nation there was gathered in its strength.

Around one spot was kept a spacious ring,
Where lay the body of the white-haired King,
Which all the spearmen gathered to behold
Upon its spear-wood litter, stiff and cold.
All naked, there the dusky corse was laid
Beneath a royal tuad's mourning shade;
Upon the breast was placed the carven case
That held the symbol of their ancient race,
And eyes awe-stricken saw the mystic Thing
That soon would clothe another as their King!
The midnight moon was high and white o'erhead,
And threw a ghastly pallor round the dead
That heightened still the savage pomp and state
In which they stood expectant, as for Fate
To move and mark with undisputed hand
The one amongst them to the high command.
And long they stood unanswered; each on each
Had looked in vain for motion or for speech:
Unmoved as ebon statues, grand and tall,
They ringed the shadowy circle, silent all.

Then came a creeping tremor, as a breeze
With cooling rustle moves the summer trees
Before the thunder crashes on the ear;
The dense ranks turn expectant, as they hear
A sound, at first afar, but nearing fast;
The outer crowd divides, as waves are cast
On either side a tall ship's cleaving bow,
Or mold is parted by the fearless plow
That leaves behind a passage clear and broad:
So through the murmuring multitude a road
Was cleft with power, up which in haughty swing
A figure stalking broke the sacred ring.
And stood beside the body of the King!

'Twas Jacob Eibsen, sad and gloomy-browed,
Who bared his neck and breast, one moment bowed
Above the corse, and then stood proud and tall,
And held the carven case before them all!
A breath went upward like a smothered fright
From every heart, to see that face, so white,
So foreign to their own, but marked with might
From source unquestioned, and to them divine;
Whilst he, the master of the mystic sign,
Then oped the case and took the Pearl and raised,
As erst the King had done, and upward gazed,
As swearing fealty to God on high!

But ere the oath took form, there thrilled a cry
Of shivering horror through the hush of night;
And there before him, blinded by the sight
Of all his impious purpose, brave with love,
His mother stood, and stretched her arms above
To tear the idol from her darling's hand;
But one fierce look, and rang a harsh command
In Jacob's voice, that smote her like a sword.
A thousand men sprang forward at the word,
To tear the mother from the form of stone,
And cast her forth; but, as he stood alone,
The keen, heart-broken wail that cut the air
Went two-edged through him, half reproach, half prayer.

But all unheeding, he nor marked her cry
By sign or look within the gloomy eye;
But round his body bound the carven case,
And swore the fealty with marble face.

As fades a dream before slow-waking sense,
The shadowy host, that late stood fixed and dense,
Began to melt; and as they came erewhile,
The streams flowed backward through each moonlit aisle;
And soon he stood alone within the place,
Their new-made king,—their king with pallid face,
Their king with strange foreboding and unrest,
And half-formed thoughts, like dreams, within his breast.
Like Moses' rod, that mother's cry of woe
Had struck for water; but the fitful flow
That weakly welled and streamed did seem to mock
Before it died forever on the rock.

The sun rose o'er the forest, and his light
Made still more dreamlike all the evil night.
Day streamed his glory down the aisles' dim arch,
All hushed and shadowy like a pillared church;
And through the lonely bush no living thing
Was seen, save now and then a garish wing
Of bird low-flying on its silent way.

But woeful searchers spent the weary day
In anxious dread, and found not what they sought,—
Their mother and their brother: evening brought
A son and father to the lonesome place
That saw the last night's scene; and there, her face
Laid earthward, speaking dumbly to her heart,
They found her, as the hands that tore apart
The son and mother flung her from their chief,
And with one cry her heart had spent its grief.

They bore the cold earth that so late did move
In household happiness and works of love,
Unto their rude home, lonely now; and he
Who laid her there, from present misery
Did turn away, half-blinded by his tears,
To see with inward eye the far-off years
When Swedish toil was light and hedgerows sweet;
Where, when the toil was o'er, he used to meet
A simple gray-eyed girl, with sun-browned face,
Whose love had won his heart, and whose sweet grace
Had blessed for threescore years his humble life.
So Jacob Eibsen mourned his faithful wife,
And found the world no home when she was gone.
The days that seemed of old to hurry on
Now dragged their course, and marred the wish that grew,
When first he saw her grave, to sleep there too.
But though to him, whose yearning hope outran
The steady motion of the seasons' plan,
The years were slow in coming, still their pace
With awful sureness left a solemn trace,
Like dust that settles on an open page,
On Jacob Eibsen's head, bent down with age;
And ere twice more the soothing rains had come,
The old man had his wish, and to his home,
Beneath the strange trees' shadow where she lay,
They bore the rude-made bier; and from that day,
When round the parent graves the brethren stood,
Their new-made homesteads were no longer good,
But marked they seemed by some o'erhanging dread
That linked the living with the dreamless dead.
Grown silent with the woods the men were all,
But words were needed not to note the pall
That each one knew hung o'er them. Duties now,
With straying herds or swinging scythe, or plow,
Were cheerless tasks: like men they were who wrought
A weary toil that no repayment brought.
And when the seasons came and went, and still
The pall was hanging o'er them, with one will
They yoked their oxen teams and piled the loads
Of gear selected for the aimless roads
That nature opens through the bush; and when
The train was ready, women-folk and men
Went over to the graves and wept and prayed,
Then rose and turned away, but still delayed
Ere leaving there forever those poor mounds.

The next bright sunrise heard the teamsters' sounds
Of voice and whip a long day's march away;
And wider still the space grew day by day
From their old resting-place: the trackless wood
Still led them on with promises of good,
As when the mirage leads a thirsty band
With palm-tree visions o'er the arid sand.

I Snow not where they settled down at last:
Their lives and homes from out my tale have passed,
And left me naught, or seeming naught, to trace
But cheerless record of the empty place,
Where long unseen the palm-thatched cabins stood,
And made more lonely still the lonesome wood.
Long lives of men passed over; but the years
That line men's faces with hard cares and tears,
Pass lightly o'er a forest, leaving there
No wreck of young disease or old despair;
For trees are mightier than men, and Time,
When left by cunning Sin and dark-browed Crime
To work alone, hath ever gentle mood.
Unchanged the pillars and the arches stood,
But shadowed taller vistas; and the earth,
That takes and gives the ceaseless death and birth,
Was blooming still, as once it bloomed before
When sea-tired eyes beheld the beauteous shore.

But man's best work is weak, nor stands nor grows
Like Nature's simplest. Every breeze that blows,
Health-bearing to the forest, plays its part
In hasting graveward all his humble art.

Beneath the trees the cabins still remained,
By all the changing seasons seared and stained;
Grown old and weirdlike, as the folk might grow
In such a place, who left them long ago.

Men came, and wondering found the work of men
Where they had deemed them first. The savage then
Heard through the wood the axe's death watch stroke
For him and all his people: odorous smoke
Of burning sandal rose where white men dwelt,
Around the huts; but they had shuddering felt
The weird, forbidden aspect of the spot,
And left the place untouched to mold and rot.
The woods grew blithe with labor: all around,
From point to point, was heard the hollow sound,
The solemn, far-off clicking on the ear
That marks the presence of the pioneer.
And children came like flowers to bless the toil
That reaped rich fruitage from the virgin soil;
And through, the woods they wandered fresh and fair,
To feast on all the beauties blooming there.
But always did they shun the spot where grew,
From earth once tilled, the flowers of rarest hue.
There wheat grown wild in rank luxuriance spread,
And fruits grown native; but a sudden tread
Or bramble's fall would foul goanos wake,
Or start the chilling rustle of the snake;
And diamond eyes of these and thousand more
Gleamed out from ruined roof and wall and floor.
The new-come people, they whose axes rung
Throughout the forest, spoke the English tongue,
And never knew that men of other race
From Europe's fields had settled in the place;
But deemed these huts were built some long-past day
By lonely seamen who were cast away
And thrown upon the coast, who there had built
Their homes, and lived until some woe or guilt
Was bred among them, and they fled the sight
Of scenes that held a horror to the light.

But while they thought such things, the spell that hung,
And cast its shadow o'er the place, was strung
To utmost tension that a breath would break,
And show between the rifts the deep blue lake
Of blessed peace,—as next to sorrow lies
A stretch of rest, rewarding hopeful eyes.
And while such things bethought this 'new-come folk,
That breath was breathed, the olden spell was broke:
From far away within the unknown land,
O'er belts of forest and o'er wastes of sand,
A cry came thrilling, like a cry of pain
From suffering heart and half-awakened brain;
As one thought dead who wakes within the tomb,
And, reaching, cries for sunshine in the gloom.

In that strange country's heart, whence comes the breath
Of hot disease and pestilential death,
Lie leagues of wooded swamp, that from the hills
Seem stretching meadows; but the flood that fills
Those valley-basins has the hue of ink,
And dismal doorways open on the brink,
Beneath the gnarled arms of trees that grow
All leafless to the top, from roots below
The Lethe flood; and he who enters there
Beneath their screen sees rising, ghastly-bare,
Like mammoth bones within a charnel dark,
The white and ragged stems of paper-bark,
That drip down moisture with a ceaseless drip,
From lines that run like cordage of a ship;
For myriad creepers struggle to the light,
And twine and mat o'erhead in murderous fight
For life and sunshine, like another race
That wars on brethren for the highest place.
Between the water and the matted screen,
The baldhead vultures, two and two, are seen
In dismal grandeur, with revolting face
Of foul grotesque, like spirits of the place;
And now and then a spear-shaped wave goes by,
Its apex glittering with an evil eye
That sets above its enemy and prey,
As from the wave in treacherous, slimy way
The black snake winds, and strikes the bestial bird,
Whose shriek-like wailing on the hills is heard.

Beyond this circling swamp, a circling waste
Of baked and barren desert land is placed,—
A land of awful grayness, wild and stark,
Where man will never leave a deeper mark,
On leagues of fissured clay and scorching stones,
Than may be printed there by bleaching bones.
Within this belt, that keeps a savage guard,
As round a treasure sleeps a dragon ward,
A forest stretches far of precious trees;
Whence came, one day, an odor-laden breeze
Of jam-wood bruised, and sandal sweet in smoke.
For there long dwelt a numerous native folk
In that heart-garden of the continent,—
There human lives with aims and fears were spent,
And marked by love and hate and peace and pain,
And hearts well-filled and hearts athirst for gain,
And lips that clung, and faces bowed in shame;
For, wild or polished, man is still the same,
And loves and hates and envies in the wood,
With spear and boka and with manners rude,
As loves and hates his brother shorn and sleek,
Who learns by lifelong practice how to speak
With oily tongue, while in his heart below
Lies rankling poison that he dare not show.

Afar from all new ways this people dwelt,
And knew no books, and to no God had knelt,
And had no codes to rule them writ in blood;
But savage, selfish, nomad-lived and rude,
With human passions fierce from unrestraint,
And free as their loose limbs; with every taint
That earth can give to that which God has given;
Their nearest glimpse of Him, o'er-arching heaven,
Where dwelt the giver and preserver,—Light,
Who daily slew and still was slain by Night.

A savage people they, and prone to strife;
Yet men grown weak with years had spent a life
Of peace unbroken, and their sires, long dead,
Had equal lives of peace unbroken led.
It was no statute's bond or coward fear
Of retribution kept the shivering spear
In all those years from fratricidal sheath;
But one it was who ruled them,—one whom Death
Had passed as if he saw not,—one whose word
Through all that lovely central land was heard
And bowed to, as of yore the people bent,
In desert wanderings, to a leader sent
To guide and guard them to a promised land.
O'er all the Austral tribes he held command,—
A man unlike them and not of their race,
A man of flowing hair and pallid face,
A man who strove by no deft juggler's art
To keep his kingdom in the people's heart,
Nor held his place by feats of brutal might
Or showy skill, to please the savage sight;
But one who ruled them as a King of kings,
A man above, not of them,—one who brings,
To prove his kingship to the low and high,
The inborn power of the regal eye.
Like him of Sinai with the stones of law,
Whose people almost worshiped when they saw
The veiled face whereon God's glory burned;
But yet who, mutable as water, turned
From that veiled ruler who had talked with God,
To make themselves an idol from a clod:
So turned one day this savage Austral race
Against their monarch with the pallid face.
The young men knew him not, the old had heard
In far-off days, from men grown old, a word
That dimly lighted up the mystic choice
Of this their alien King,—how once a voice
Was heard by their own monarch calling clear,
And leading onward, where as on a bier
A dead child lay upon a woman's knees;
Whom when the old King saw, like one who sees
Far through the mist of common life, he spoke
And touched him with the Pearl, and he awoke,
And from that day the people owned his right
To wear the Pearl and rule them, when the light
Had left their old King's eyes. But now, they said,
The men who owned that right were too long dead;
And they were young and strong and held their spears
In idle resting through this white King's fears,
Who still would live to rule them till they changed
Their men to puling women, and estranged
To Austral hands the spear and coila grew.
And so they rose against him, and they slew
The white-haired men who raised their hands to warn,
And true to ancient trust in warning fell,
While o'er them rang the fierce revolters' yell.
Then midst the dead uprose the King in scorn,
Like some strong, hunted thing that stands at bay
To win a brief but desperate delay.
A moment thus, and those within the ring
'Gan backward press from their unarmed King,
Who swept his hand as though he bade them fly,
And brave no more the anger of his eye.
The heaving crowd grew still before that face,
And watched him take the ancient carven case,
And ope it there, and take the Pearl and stand
As once before he stood, with upraised hand
And upturned eyes of inward worshiping.

Awe-struck and dumb, once more they owned him King,
And humbly crouched before him; when a sound,
A whirring sound that thrilled them, passed o'erhead,
And with a spring they rose. a spear had sped
With aim unerring and with deathful might,
And split the awful center of their sight,—
The upraised Pearl! A moment there it shone
Before the spear-point,—then forever gone!

* * * * * * *
The spell that long the ruined huts did shroud
Was rent and scattered, as a hanging cloud
In moveless air is torn and blown away
By sudden gust uprising; and one day
When evening's lengthened shadows came to hush
The children's voices, and the awful bush
Was lapt in somber stillness, and on high
Above the arches stretched the frescoed sky,—
When all the scene such chilling aspect wore
As marked one other night long years before,
When through the reaching trees the moonlight shone
Upon a prostrate form, and o'er it one
With kingly gesture. Now the light is shed
No more on youthful brow and daring head,
But on a man grown weirdly old, whose face
Keeps turning ever to some new-found place
That rises up before him like a dream;
And not unlike a dreamer does he seem,
Who might have slept, unheeding time's sure flow,
And woke to find a world he does not know.
His long white hair flows o'er a form low bowed
By wondrous weight of years: he speaks aloud
In garbled Swedish words, with piteous wist,
As long-lost objects rise through memory's mist.
Again and once again his pace he stays,
As crowding images of other days
Loom up before him dimly, and he sees
A vague, forgotten friendship in the trees
That reach their arms in welcome; but agen
These olden glimpses vanish, and dark men
Are round him, dumb and crouching, and he stands
With guttural sentences and upraised hands,
That hold a carven case,—but empty now,
Which makes more pitiful the aged brow
Full-turned to those tall tuads that did hear
A son's fierce mandate and a mother's prayer.

Ah, God! what memories can live of these,
Save only with the half-immortal trees
That saw the death of one, the other lost!

The weird-like figure now the bush has crost
And stands within the ring, and turns and moans,
With arms out-reaching and heart-piercing tones,
And groping hands, as one a long time blind
Who sees a glimmering light on eye and mind.
From tree to sky he turns, from sky to earth,
And gasps as one to whom a second birth
Of wondrous meaning is an instant shown.
Who is this wreck of years, who all alone,
In savage raiment and with words unknown,
Bows down like some poor penitent who fears
The wrath of God provoked?—this man who hears
Around him now, wide circling through the wood,
The breathing stillness of a multitude?
Who catches dimly through his straining sight
The misty vision of an impious rite?
Who hears from one a cry that rends his heart,
And feels that loving arms are torn apart,
And by his mandate fiercely thrust aside?
Who is this one who crouches where she died,
With face laid earthward as her face was laid,
And prays for her as she for him once prayed?

'Tis Jacob Eibsen, Jacob Eibsen's son,
Whose occult life and mystic rule are done,
And passed away the memory from his brain.
'Tis Jacob Eibsen, who has come again
To roam the woods, and see the mournful gleams
That flash and linger of his old-time dreams.

The morning found him where he sank to rest
Within the mystic circle: on his breast
With withered hands, as to the dearest place,
He held and pressed the empty carven case.

That day he sought the dwellings of his folk;
And when he found them, once again there broke
The far-off light upon him, and he cried
From that wrecked cabin threshold for a guide
To lead him, old and weary, to his own.
And surely some kind spirit heard his moan,
And led him to the graves where they were laid.
The evening found him in the tuads' shade,
And like a child at work upon the spot
Where they were sleeping, though he knew it not.
Next day the children found him, and they gazed
In fear at first, for they were sore amazed
To see a man so old they never knew,
Whose garb was savage, and whose white hair grew
And flowed upon his shoulders; but their awe
Was changed to love and pity when they saw
The simple work he wrought at; and they came
And gathered flowers for him, and asked his name,
And laughed at his strange language; and he smiled
To hear them laugh, as though himself a child.
Ere that brief day was o'er, from far and near
The children gathered, wondering; and though fear
Of scenes a long time shunned at first restrained,
The spell was broken, and soon naught remained
But gladsome features,, where of old was dearth
Of happy things and cheery sounds of mirth.
The lizards fled, the snakes and bright-eyed things
Found other homes, where childhood never sings;
And all because poor Jacob, old and wild,
White-haired and fur-clad, was himself a child.
Each day he lived amid these scenes, his ear
Heard far-off voices growing still more clear;
And that dim light that first he saw in gleams
Now left him only in his troubled dreams.

From far away the children loved to come
And play and work with Jacob at his home.
He learned their simple words with childish lip,
And told them often of a white-sailed ship
That sailed across a mighty sea, and found
A beauteous harbor, all encircled round
With flowers and tall green trees; but when they asked
What did the shipmen then, his mind was tasked
Beyond its strength, and Jacob shook his head,
And with them laughed, for all he knew was said.

The brawny sawyers often ceased their toil,
As Jacob with the children passed, to smile
With rugged pity on their simple play;
Then, gazing after the glad group, would say
How strange it was to see that snowy hair
And time-worn figure with the children fair.

So Jacob Eibsen lived through years of joy,—
A patriarch in age, in heart a boy.
Unto the last he told them of the sea
And white-sailed ship; and ever lovingly,
Unto the end, the garden he had made
He tended daily, 'neath the tuads' shade.

But one bright morning, when the children came
And roused the echoes calling Jacob's name,
The echoes only answered back the sound.
They sought within the huts, but nothing found
Save loneliness and shadow, falling chill
On every sunny searcher: boding ill,
They tried each well-known haunt, and every throat
Sent far abroad the bush man's cooing note.
But all in vain their searching: twilight fell,
And sent them home their sorrowing tale to tell.
That night their elders formed a torch-lit chain
To sweep the gloomy bush; and not in vain,—
For when the moon at midnight hung o'erhead,
The weary searchers found poor Jacob—dead!

He lay within the tuad ring, his face
Laid earthward on his hands; and all the place
Was dim with shadow where the people stood.
And as they gathered there, the circling wood
Seemed filled with awful whisperings, and stirred
By things unseen; and every bushman heard,
From where the corse lay plain within their sight,
A woman's heart-wail rising on the night.
For over all the darkness and the fear
That marked his life from childhood, shining clear,

An arch, like God's bright rainbow, stretched above,
And joined the first and last,—his mother's love.

They dug a grave beneath the tuads' shade,
Where all unknown to them the bones were laid
Of Jacob's kindred; and a prayer was said
In earnest sorrow for the unknown dead,
Hound which the children grouped.

Upon the breast
The hands were folded in eternal rest;
But still they held, as dearest to that place
Where life last throbbed, the empty carven case.

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Sprouting like strings of purple morning glories (cavatina)

Sprouting like strings of purple morning glories
our love grows wild;
with vines reaching, stretching, opening;
like a small child
believing in the magic of the light,
with nothing mild
funnels reach flaring blossoms to the sun
while all kinds of barriers are overrun.

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Act like a giant

So you want to be a giant?
Doing big things, going great places
People that are big and small, knowing your name
Being recognize as power figure to almost all,
One who wins and changes the game
As you grow and become notarized a public figure,
What shall remain the same?
As in remaining grounded,
To never face shame
Just humbly remember
For which you came,
As you reach your goals
your life is now changed

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Winter storm

Storm clouds spread
like a sinister monster
blurring out the moon
and stars
and the night is black
and all natural light
is blotted out.

Flying rain is set alight
by creeping thunder bolts
that spread over the dark sky
and crab like
twists pinching here and there.

Fog is in the meadows
and creeps up to higher places
to be everywhere
and it’s icy
and the chill freezes.

Big rocks of hail
fall like bombs
from the sky
and crush and dent
before they splatter

Around the house
bolts thunder
and plants are beaten to threads
and branches whip
upon the roof.

The power is cut
and every thing outside
is really dark,
but sparks hisses and flies
from the hot fireplace
at the chimney.

Candles burn romantic
in the hot lounge
while we share supper
and drink dark red wine
from crystal glasses.

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