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Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

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John Adams

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

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John Adams

Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

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The Chinese Son

I come to thee, my mother! the black sky
Is swollen with its thunder, and the air
Seems palpable with darkness, save when high,
The lurid lightning streams a ruddy glare
Across the heavens, rousing from their lair
The deep-voiced thunders! how the mounting storm
Strides o'er the firmament! yet I can dare
Its fiercest terrors, mother, that my arm
May wind its shield of love around thy sleeping form.

What uproar! raging winds, and smiting hail,
The lightning's blaze, and deaf'ning thunder's crash,
Let loose at once for havoc! I should quail
Before the terrors of the forked flash,
Did not the thought of thee triumphant dash
All selfish fears aside, and bid me fly
To kneel beside thy grave; the rain-drops plash
Heavily round thee from the rifted sky;
Yet I am here, fear not—beside thy couch I lie.

Thou canst not hear me—the storm brings not now,
One terror to thy bosom—yet 't is sweet
To call to mind the smile, wherewith thy brow
Was wont in by-gone days my step to greet,
When o'er the earth the summer tempest beat,
And the loosed thunder shook the heavens—but when
Was there a look of mine that did not meet
A smile of love from thee? the world of men
A friend, like thou hast been, will never yield again.

Oh! mother, mother, how could love like thine
Pass from the earth away! on other eyes,
The glances of maternal love will shine,
And still on other hearts the blessing lies,
That made mine blissful; yet far less they prize
That boon of happiness—and in their glee,
Around their spirits gather many ties
Of joy and tenderness—but all to me
That made the earth seem bright, is sepulchred with thee.

They sometimes strive to lead me to the halls,
Where wine and mirth the fleeting moments wing,
But on my clouded spirit sadness falls,
More darkly then, than when the cave-glooms fling
Their shadows round me, and the night-winds sing
Through the torn rocks their melancholy dirge,
Or when as now the echoing thunder rings
O'er the wide heavens, and the mad gales urge
Unto an answering cry, the overmastering surge.

The storms of nature pass, and soon no trace
Is left to mark their ravage—but long years
Pass lingeringly onward, nor efface
The deep-cut channel of our burning tears,
Or aching scars, that wasting sorrow sears
Upon the breast: lo! even now, a gleam
Of moonlight through the broken clouds appears,
To bless the earth again. I fain would dream,
It was a smile of thine, to bless me with its beam.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Song Of Hiawatha XX: The Famine

Oh the long and dreary Winter!
Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam
Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes
Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none,
Saw no track of deer or rabbit,
In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest
Fell, and could not rise from weakness,
Perished there from cold and hunger.
Oh the famine and the fever!
Oh the wasting of the famine!
Oh the blasting of the fever!
Oh the wailing of the children!
Oh the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them,
And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
Came two other guests, as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy,
Waited not to be invited
Did not parley at the doorway
Sat there without word of welcome
In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow
At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: 'Behold me!
I am Famine, Bukadawin!'
And the other said: 'Behold me!
I am Fever, Ahkosewin!'
And the lovely Minnehaha
Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered,
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning
At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest
Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow,
In his face a stony firmness;
On his brow the sweat of anguish
Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting,
With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest
On his snow-shoes strode he forward.
'Gitche Manito, the Mighty!'
Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish,
'Give your children food, O father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha,
For my dying Minnehaha!'
Through the far-resounding forest,
Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation,
But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands,
'Minnehaha! Minnehaha!'
All day long roved Hiawatha
In that melancholy forest,
Through the shadow of whose thickets,
In the pleasant days of Summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten Summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward
From the land of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets,
And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the lovely Laughing Water
Said with voice that did not tremble,
'I will follow you, my husband!'
In the wigwam with Nokomis,
With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever,
She was lying, the Beloved,
She, the dying Minnehaha.
'Hark!' she said; 'I hear a rushing,
Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!'
'No, my child!' said old Nokomis,
'`T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!'
'Look!' she said; 'I see my father
Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam
In the land of the Dacotahs!'
'No, my child!' said old Nokomis.
'`T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!'
'Ah!' said she, 'the eyes of Pauguk
Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy fingers
Clasping mine amid the darkness!
Hiawatha! Hiawatha!'
And the desolate Hiawatha,
Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains,
Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness,
'Hiawatha! Hiawatha!'
Over snow-fields waste and pathless,
Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha,
Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing:
'Wahonowin! Wahonowin!
Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are!
Wahonowin!. Wahonowin!'
And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down, still and speechless,
On the bed of Minnehaha,
At the feet of Laughing Water,
At those willing feet, that never
More would lightly run to meet him,
Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered,
Seven long days and nights he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there,
Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha;
In the snow a grave they made her
In the forest deep and darksome
Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine,
Covered her with snow, like ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted,
On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey
To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning In the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
Might not leave her in the darkness.
'Farewell!' said he, 'Minnehaha!
Farewell, O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you,
All my thoughts go onward with you!
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer,
Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body.
Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!'

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Famine, The

Oh the long and dreary Winter!
Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam
Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes
Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none,
Saw no track of deer or rabbit,
In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest
Fell, and could not rise from weakness,
Perished there from cold and hunger.
Oh the famine and the fever!
Oh the wasting of the famine!
Oh the blasting of the fever!
Oh the wailing of the children!
Oh the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them,
And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
Came two other guests, as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy,
Waited not to be invited
Did not parley at the doorway
Sat there without word of welcome
In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow
At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: "Behold me!
I am Famine, Bukadawin!"
And the other said: "Behold me!
I am Fever, Ahkosewin!"
And the lovely Minnehaha
Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered,
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning
At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest
Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow,
In his face a stony firmness;
On his brow the sweat of anguish
Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting,
With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest
On his snow-shoes strode he forward.
"Gitche Manito, the Mighty!"
Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish,
"Give your children food, O father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha,
For my dying Minnehaha!"
Through the far-resounding forest,
Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation,
But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands,
"Minnehaha! Minnehaha!"
All day long roved Hiawatha
In that melancholy forest,
Through the shadow of whose thickets,
In the pleasant days of Summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten Summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward
From the land of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets,
And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the lovely Laughing Water
Said with voice that did not tremble,
"I will follow you, my husband!"
In the wigwam with Nokomis,
With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever,
She was lying, the Beloved,
She, the dying Minnehaha.
"Hark!" she said; "I hear a rushing,
Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis,
"`T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!"
"Look!" she said; "I see my father
Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam
In the land of the Dacotahs!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis.
"`T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!"
"Ah!" said she, "the eyes of Pauguk
Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy fingers
Clasping mine amid the darkness!
Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
And the desolate Hiawatha,
Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains,
Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness,
"Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
Over snow-fields waste and pathless,
Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha,
Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing:
"Wahonowin! Wahonowin!
Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are!
Wahonowin!. Wahonowin!"
And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down, still and speechless,
On the bed of Minnehaha,
At the feet of Laughing Water,
At those willing feet, that never
More would lightly run to meet him,
Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered,
Seven long days and nights he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there,
Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha;
In the snow a grave they made her
In the forest deep and darksome
Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine,
Covered her with snow, like ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted,
On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey
To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning In the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
Might not leave her in the darkness.
"Farewell!" said he, "Minnehaha!
Farewell, O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you,
All my thoughts go onward with you!
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer,
Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body.
Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!"

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Famine

Oh the long and dreary Winter!
Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam
Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes
Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none,
Saw no track of deer or rabbit,
In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest
Fell, and could not rise from weakness,
Perished there from cold and hunger.
Oh the famine and the fever!
Oh the wasting of the famine!
Oh the blasting of the fever!
Oh the wailing of the children!
Oh the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them,
And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
Came two other guests, as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy,
Waited not to be invited
Did not parley at the doorway
Sat there without word of welcome
In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow
At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: "Behold me!
I am Famine, Bukadawin!"
And the other said: "Behold me!
I am Fever, Ahkosewin!"
And the lovely Minnehaha
Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered,
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning
At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest
Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow,
In his face a stony firmness;
On his brow the sweat of anguish
Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting,
With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest
On his snow-shoes strode he forward.
"Gitche Manito, the Mighty!"
Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish,
"Give your children food, O father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha,
For my dying Minnehaha!"
Through the far-resounding forest,
Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation,
But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands,
"Minnehaha! Minnehaha!"
All day long roved Hiawatha
In that melancholy forest,
Through the shadow of whose thickets,
In the pleasant days of Summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten Summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward
From the land of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets,
And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the lovely Laughing Water
Said with voice that did not tremble,
"I will follow you, my husband!"
In the wigwam with Nokomis,
With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever,
She was lying, the Beloved,
She, the dying Minnehaha.
"Hark!" she said; "I hear a rushing,
Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis,
"`T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!"
"Look!" she said; "I see my father
Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam
In the land of the Dacotahs!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis.
"`T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!"
"Ah!" said she, "the eyes of Pauguk
Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy fingers
Clasping mine amid the darkness!
Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
And the desolate Hiawatha,
Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains,
Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness,
"Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
Over snow-fields waste and pathless,
Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha,
Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing:
"Wahonowin! Wahonowin!
Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are!
Wahonowin!. Wahonowin!"
And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down, still and speechless,
On the bed of Minnehaha,
At the feet of Laughing Water,
At those willing feet, that never
More would lightly run to meet him,
Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered,
Seven long days and nights he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there,
Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha;
In the snow a grave they made her
In the forest deep and darksome
Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine,
Covered her with snow, like ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted,
On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey
To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning In the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
Might not leave her in the darkness.
"Farewell!" said he, "Minnehaha!
Farewell, O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you,
All my thoughts go onward with you!
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer,
Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body.
Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!"

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Charlotte Brontë

Frances

She will not sleep, for fear of dreams,
But, rising, quits her restless bed,
And walks where some beclouded beams
Of moonlight through the hall are shed.

Obedient to the goad of grief,
Her steps, now fast, now lingering slow,
In varying motion seek relief
From the Eumenides of woe.

Wringing her hands, at intervals--
But long as mute as phantom dim--
She glides along the dusky walls,
Under the black oak rafters grim.

The close air of the grated tower
Stifles a heart that scarce can beat,
And, though so late and lone the hour,
Forth pass her wandering, faltering feet;

And on the pavement spread before
The long front of the mansion grey,
Her steps imprint the night-frost hoar,
Which pale on grass and granite lay.

Not long she stayed where misty moon
And shimmering stars could on her look,
But through the garden archway soon
Her strange and gloomy path she took.

Some firs, coeval with the tower,
Their straight black boughs stretched o'er her head;
Unseen, beneath this sable bower,
Rustled her dress and rapid tread.

There was an alcove in that shade,
Screening a rustic seat and stand;
Weary she sat her down, and laid
Her hot brow on her burning hand.

To solitude and to the night,
Some words she now, in murmurs, said;
And trickling through her fingers white,
Some tears of misery she shed.

"God help me in my grievous need,
God help me in my inward pain;
Which cannot ask for pity's meed,
Which has no licence to complain,

"Which must be borne; yet who can bear,
Hours long, days long, a constant weight--
The yoke of absolute despair,
A suffering wholly desolate?

"Who can for ever crush the heart,
Restrain its throbbing, curb its life?
Dissemble truth with ceaseless art,
With outward calm mask inward strife?"

She waited--as for some reply;
The still and cloudy night gave none;
Ere long, with deep-drawn, trembling sigh,
Her heavy plaint again begun.

"Unloved--I love; unwept--I weep;
Grief I restrain--hope I repress:
Vain is this anguish--fixed and deep;
Vainer, desires and dreams of bliss.

"My love awakes no love again,
My tears collect, and fall unfelt;
My sorrow touches none with pain,
My humble hopes to nothing melt.

"For me the universe is dumb,
Stone-deaf, and blank, and wholly blind;
Life I must bound, existence sum
In the strait limits of one mind;

"That mind my own. Oh! narrow cell;
Dark--imageless--a living tomb!
There must I sleep, there wake and dwell
Content, with palsy, pain, and gloom."

Again she paused; a moan of pain,
A stifled sob, alone was heard;
Long silence followed--then again
Her voice the stagnant midnight stirred.

"Must it be so? Is this my fate?
Can I nor struggle, nor contend?
And am I doomed for years to wait,
Watching death's lingering axe descend?

"And when it falls, and when I die,
What follows? Vacant nothingness?
The blank of lost identity?
Erasure both of pain and bliss?

"I've heard of heaven--I would believe;
For if this earth indeed be all,
Who longest lives may deepest grieve;
Most blest, whom sorrows soonest call.

"Oh! leaving disappointment here,
Will man find hope on yonder coast?
Hope, which, on earth, shines never clear,
And oft in clouds is wholly lost.

"Will he hope's source of light behold,
Fruition's spring, where doubts expire,
And drink, in waves of living gold,
Contentment, full, for long desire?

"Will he find bliss, which here he dreamed?
Rest, which was weariness on earth?
Knowledge, which, if o'er life it beamed,
Served but to prove it void of worth?

"Will he find love without lust's leaven,
Love fearless, tearless, perfect, pure,
To all with equal bounty given;
In all, unfeigned, unfailing, sure?

"Will he, from penal sufferings free,
Released from shroud and wormy clod,
All calm and glorious, rise and see
Creation's Sire--Existence' God?

"Then, glancing back on Time's brief woes,
Will he behold them, fading, fly;
Swept from Eternity's repose,
Like sullying cloud from pure blue sky?

"If so, endure, my weary frame;
And when thy anguish strikes too deep,
And when all troubled burns life's flame,
Think of the quiet, final sleep;

"Think of the glorious waking-hour,
Which will not dawn on grief and tears,
But on a ransomed spirit's power,
Certain, and free from mortal fears.

"Seek now thy couch, and lie till morn,
Then from thy chamber, calm, descend,
With mind nor tossed, nor anguish-torn,
But tranquil, fixed, to wait the end.

"And when thy opening eyes shall see
Mementos, on the chamber wall,
Of one who has forgotten thee,
Shed not the tear of acrid gall.

"The tear which, welling from the heart,
Burns where its drop corrosive falls,
And makes each nerve, in torture, start,
At feelings it too well recalls:

"When the sweet hope of being loved
Threw Eden sunshine on life's way:
When every sense and feeling proved
Expectancy of brightest day.

"When the hand trembled to receive
A thrilling clasp, which seemed so near,
And the heart ventured to believe
Another heart esteemed it dear.

"When words, half love, all tenderness,
Were hourly heard, as hourly spoken,
When the long, sunny days of bliss
Only by moonlight nights were broken.

"Till, drop by drop, the cup of joy
Filled full, with purple light was glowing,
And Faith, which watched it, sparkling high
Still never dreamt the overflowing.

"It fell not with a sudden crashing,
It poured not out like open sluice;
No, sparkling still, and redly flashing,
Drained, drop by drop, the generous juice.

"I saw it sink, and strove to taste it,
My eager lips approached the brim;
The movement only seemed to waste it;
It sank to dregs, all harsh and dim.

"These I have drunk, and they for ever
Have poisoned life and love for me;
A draught from Sodom's lake could never
More fiery, salt, and bitter, be.

"Oh! Love was all a thin illusion
Joy, but the desert's flying stream;
And glancing back on long delusion,
My memory grasps a hollow dream.

"Yet whence that wondrous change of feeling,
I never knew, and cannot learn;
Nor why my lover's eye, congealing,
Grew cold and clouded, proud and stern.

"Nor wherefore, friendship's forms forgetting,
He careless left, and cool withdrew;
Nor spoke of grief, nor fond regretting,
Nor ev'n one glance of comfort threw.

"And neither word nor token sending,
Of kindness, since the parting day,
His course, for distant regions bending,
Went, self-contained and calm, away.

"Oh, bitter, blighting, keen sensation,
Which will not weaken, cannot die,
Hasten thy work of desolation,
And let my tortured spirit fly!

"Vain as the passing gale, my crying;
Though lightning-struck, I must live on;
I know, at heart, there is no dying
Of love, and ruined hope, alone.

"Still strong and young, and warm with vigour,
Though scathed, I long shall greenly grow;
And many a storm of wildest rigour
Shall yet break o'er my shivered bough.

"Rebellious now to blank inertion,
My unused strength demands a task;
Travel, and toil, and full exertion,
Are the last, only boon I ask.

"Whence, then, this vain and barren dreaming
Of death, and dubious life to come?
I see a nearer beacon gleaming
Over dejection's sea of gloom.

"The very wildness of my sorrow
Tells me I yet have innate force;
My track of life has been too narrow,
Effort shall trace a broader course.

"The world is not in yonder tower,
Earth is not prisoned in that room,
'Mid whose dark panels, hour by hour,
I've sat, the slave and prey of gloom.

"One feeling--turned to utter anguish,
Is not my being's only aim;
When, lorn and loveless, life will languish,
But courage can revive the flame.

"He, when he left me, went a roving
To sunny climes, beyond the sea;
And I, the weight of woe removing,
Am free and fetterless as he.

"New scenes, new language, skies less clouded,
May once more wake the wish to live;
Strange, foreign towns, astir, and crowded,
New pictures to the mind may give.

"New forms and faces, passing ever,
May hide the one I still retain,
Defined, and fixed, and fading never,
Stamped deep on vision, heart, and brain.

"And we might meet--time may have changed him;
Chance may reveal the mystery,
The secret influence which estranged him;
Love may restore him yet to me.

"False thought--false hope--in scorn be banished!
I am not loved--nor loved have been;
Recall not, then, the dreams scarce vanished;
Traitors! mislead me not again!

"To words like yours I bid defiance,
'Tis such my mental wreck have made;
Of God alone, and self-reliance,
I ask for solace--hope for aid.

"Morn comes--and ere meridian glory
O'er these, my natal woods, shall smile,
Both lonely wood and mansion hoary
I'll leave behind, full many a mile."

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There Was A Poem Long Ago

THERE WAS A POEM LONG AGO

There was a poem long ago
A poem of youth and hope
Now there are other poems
Poems of age and sorrow.
There was a poem once
Of love – and happiness in love
Now there is a poem of lovelessness
And sadness.
There was a poem once
Of the long and distant open road
Now there is a poem of the dead end.
There was a poem once
That believed in Poetry
Now there is a poem that knows
Even the most beautiful worlds of words
End in dust
There was a poem once – long ago.

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Her

I was a laughing child
That did not know and
Did not fathom
Time was catching up with me when
Everywhere behind me
Whether looking towards the future or
Leaving the past behind,
Her eyes, hazel in the daylight’s shadow and
Her hair, thick, with wisps of gray,
Would frame her countenance,
So young and beautiful, and
Her hands, thin, delicate and pristine, as
Those of an artist…

Rain would fall in torrents the day
I decided no longer to fear the
Raucous sounds about our home-
She would bake bread and sing tunes,
Leaving me to wonder why
She had stayed in bed for days and nights past-

Those days went by quickly as
The second hand spun around the clock
Above the kitchen table- under which
I would play-
Though always in solitude,
I was an Indian, a princess or
On the best of days a queen-

It was a wonder that
Years later
I was the same laughing child
Weeping tears of despair,
Dark shadows cast upon the walls of
My bedroom would
Obliterate any sunlight left in our lives…

Her eyes, hazel in the daylight’s shadows,
Now tear filled as her hair,
Now gray in the dark of the world outside …

Her laughter, now was transforming to deadly silence;
Flowers stood limply in a vase in the middle of the kitchen table where
She would sit, her head resting between her hands-
Long and thin as those of an artist,
Wrinkled, now, years later-
A tear cascading down her cheek-

I hardly understood
Life’s meaning-
My life was far from under that same table-
My world so very small,
But all mine and mine alone-
I had picked those flowers-
Wilted dandelions- and a single rose
From father’s garden-
Though always alone,
Never laughing, never weeping,
Never smiling-

At night, stars were falling and
My thoughts were screaming
“Come back! Come back! ”
That was the moment I first heard them-
The unfamiliar voices-
She would sit at the same table,
Not noticing the dandelions, but only the rose-
The second hand spun as quickly around the clock as
My world was spiraling out of control-
And she would sit on the edge of her
Wrought iron framed queen sized bed
Her head resting in her hands
Still long, thin and like those of an artist-
Frozen
Still…

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Mostly Slavonic

I.—
Peter Michaelov

It was Peter the Barbarian put an apron in his bag
And rolled up the honoured bundle that Australians call a swag;
And he tramped from Darkest Russia, that it might be dark no more,
Dreaming of a port, and shipping, as no monarch dreamed before.
Of a home, and education, and of children staunch and true,
Like my father in the fifties—and his name was Peter, too.
(He could build a ship—or fiddle, out of wood, or bark, or hide—.
Sail one round the world and play the other one at eventide.)

Russia’s Peter (not my father) went to Holland in disguise,
Where he laboured as a shipwright underneath those gloomy skies;
Later on he went to England (which the Kaiser now—condemns)
Where he studied as a ship-smith by old Deptford on the Thames—
And no doubt he knew the rope-walk—(and the rope’s end too, he knew)—
Learned to build a ship and sail it—learned the business through and through.
And I’d like to say my father mastered navigation too.
(He was born across in Norway, educated fairly well,
And he grafted in a ship-yard by the Port of Arundel.)

“Peter Michaelov” (not Larsen) his work was by no means done;
For he learned to make a ploughshare, and he learned to make a gun.
Russian soldiers must have clothing, so he laboured at the looms,
And he studied, after hours, building forts and building booms.
He would talk with all and sundry, merchants and adventurers—
Whaling men from Nova Scotia, and with ancient mariners.
Studied military systems (of which Austria’s was the best).
Hospitals and even bedlams—class distinctions and the rest.

There was nothing he neglected that was useful to be known—
And he even studied Wowsers, who had no creed of his own.
And, lest all that he accomplished should as miracles appear,
It must always be remembered he’d a secret Fund for Beer.
When he tramped to toil and exile he was only twenty-five,
With a greater, grander object than had any man alive.
And perhaps the lad was bullied, and was sad for all we know—
Though it isn’t very likely that he’d take a second blow.
He had brains amongst the brainless, and, what that thing means I knew,
For before I found my kingdom, I had slaved in workshops too.

But they never dreamed, the brainless, boors that used to sneer and scoff,
That the dreamy lad beside them—known as “Dutchy Mickyloff”—
Was a genius and a poet, and a Man—no matter which—
Was the Czar of all the Russias!—Peter Michaelovich.


Sweden struck ere he was ready—filled the land with blood and tears—
But he broke the power of Sweden though it took him nine long years.
For he had to train his army—He was great in training men—
And no foreign foe in Russia have had easy times since then.

Then the Port, as we must have one—His a work of mighty drains—
(Ours of irrigation channels—or it should be, on the plains).
So he brought from many countries strong adventures with brains.
It was marshes to horizons, it was pestilential bogs;
It was stoneless, it was treeless, so he brought Norwegian logs.
’Twas a land without a people, ’twas a land without a law;
But the lonely Gulf of Finland heard the axe and heard the saw;
He compelled the population to that desert land and lone—
Shifted them by tens of thousands as we’ll have to shift our own.
He imported stone and mortar (he supplied the labouring gang),
Brought his masons from all Russia—let the other towns go hang;
Brought his carpenters from Venice—they knew how to make a port!
Till he heard the church bells ringing in the town of Petersfort!
Brought his shipbuilders from Holland, built his navy feverishly—
Till the Swedish fleet was shattered and the Baltic routes were free,
And his Port was on the Neva and his Ships were on the sea!


Petrograd upon the Neva! and the Man who saw it through!—
Stately Canberra on the Cotter!—and the men who build it too!

Russian Peter was “inhuman,” so the wise historians say—
What’s the use of being human in a land like ours to-day,
Till a race of stronger people wipe the Sickly Whites away?
Let them have it, who will have it—those who do not understand—
“Peter lived and died a savage”—but he civilized the land.
And, as it is at present, so ’twas always in the past—
’Twas his nearest and his dearest that broke Peter’s heart at last.


He was more than half a heathen, if historians are true;
But he used to whack his missus as a Christian ought to do—
And he should have done it sooner—but that trouble isn’t new.
We’d have saved a lot of bother had we whacked our women, too.
Peter more than whacked his subjects, ere the change was brought about.
And, in some form or another, we shall have to use the knout,
If we wish to build a nation—else we’ll have to do without.
And be wretched slaves and exiles, homeless in the Southern Sea,
When an Asiatic Nation hath “rough hewn” our destiny.

II.—
The Brandenburgers

Things have been mixed up in Europe till there’s nothing in a name,
So it doesn’t really matter whence the Brandenburgers came;
But they did no pioneering as our fathers did of old—
Only bullied, robbed and murdered till they bought the land with gold.
And they settled down in Prussia to the bane of Germany,
With a spike upon the helmet where three brazen balls should be.
And they swaggered, swigged and swindled, and by bullying held sway,
And they blindly inter-married till they’re madmen to this day.
And the lovely nights in Munich are as memories of the dead;
Night is filled with nameless terrors, day is filled with constant dread.
But Bavaria the peaceful, ere the lurid star is set,
She shall lead her neighbours on to pluck the Prussian Eagles yet.

We’ll pass over little Denmark, as the brave historians can,
Austria suffered at Sadowa, France was sorry at Sedan.
And for England’s acquiescence in the crime she suffers too.
Meanwhile Denmark drained her marshes, planted grain and battled through.
(We, who never knew what war is—who had gold without the pain—
Never locked a western river that might save a western plain.)
You may say the Danes were pirates, and so leave them on the shelf?
Given youth and men and money, I would pirate some myself!
Why should I be so excited for another nation’s pains?
I am prejudiced and angry, for my forefathers were Danes.
What have I to do with nations? Or the battle’s lurid stars?—
I am Henry, son of Peter, who was Peter, son of Lars;
Lars the son of Nils—But never mind from whence our lineage springs—
Yes, my forefathers wore helmets, but their helmets wore the wings—
(There’s a feather for your bonnet, there is unction for your souls!)
And the wings bore us to England, and Australia and the Poles.
What did we for little Denmark? Well, we sent our thousands through;
But, without the guns or money, what could Scandinavia do?
(It is true of some Australians, by the sea or sandwaste lone,
That they hold their father’s country rather dearer than their own.
But the track is plain before them, and they know who blazed the track,
To the work our Foreign Fathers did in Early Days, Out Back.
As a mate can do no mean thing in the bushman’s creed and song,
So a fellow’s father’s country [seems to me] can do no wrong.)

Where was I? The Wrong of Denmark—or the chastening of her soul?
And perhaps her rulers “got it” where ’twas needed, on the whole.
’Twas the gentlemen of Poland crushed the spirit of the Pole,
Till he didn’t care which nation he was knouted by, and served;
So the gentlemen of Poland got wiped out, as they deserved.
Freedom shrieked (where was no freedom), and perhaps she shrieked for shame.
But let Kosciusko slumber—we’ve immortalised his name.
By the poets and the tenors have our tender souls been wrenched;
And, on many a suffering Christian, Polish Jews have been avenged.


III.—
The Blue Danube

Where the skies are blue in winter by the Adriatic Sea,
And the summer skies are bluer even than our own can be;
In the shadow of a murder, weak from war and sore afraid;
By the ocean-tinted Danube stood the city of Belgrade.
Danube of the love-lit starlight, Danube of the dreamy waltz—
And Belgrade bowed down in ashes for her crimes and for her faults.
And the Prussian-driven Austrians who’d been driven oft before,
From Vienna’s cultured city marched reluctantly to war.

Just to clear a path for Prussia, and her bloodhounds to the sea;
To the danger of the white world and the shame of Germany.
And a blacker fate than Belgium’s stared the Servians in the face.
But Belgrade had many soldiers of the old Slavonic race,
And her gun-crews manned the Danube, small and weak, but undismayed—
And Belgrade remembered Russia, and she called on her for aid.


And there came a secret message and a sign from Petrograd,
And the Servian arm was strengthened and the Servian heart was glad.
For the message in plain English, from the City of Snow,
Simply said: “I’m sending Ivan by the shortest route I know.”
So then Servia bid defiance, for she knew her friend was true;
And her guns along the Danube added blue smoke to the blue.

IV.—
The Peasantry

Who are these in rags and sheepskin, mangy fur-caps, matted hair?
Who are these with fearsome whiskers, black and wiry everywhere?
Who are these in blanket putties—canvas, rag, or green-hide shoes?
These with greasy bags and bundles grimy as the Russian flues?
Never song nor cheer amongst them, never cry of “What’s the News?”
Packed on cattle-trains and ox-carts, from the north and south and east;
Trudging from the marsh and forest, where the man is like the beast?
On the lonely railway platforms, bending round the village priest;
Here and there the village scholar, everywhere the country clowns?
They’re reservists of old Russia pouring in to Russian towns!


Women’s faces, gaunt and haggard, start and startle here and there,
White and whiter by the contrast to the shawls that hide their hair.
Black-shawled heads—the shrouds of sorrow! Eyes of Fear without a name!
Through the length and breadth of Europe, God! their eyes are all the same!
Famous Artist of the Present, wasting Art and wasting Life,
With your daughters for your models, or your everlasting wife—
With your kids for nymphs and fairies, or your Studies in “the Nood”—
Exercise imagination, and forget your paltry brood!
Take an old Bulgarian widow who has lost her little store,
Who has lost her sons in battle, paint her face, and call it “War.”

V.—
The Russian March

Russian mist, and cold, and darkness, on the weary Russian roads;
And the sound of Russian swear-words, and the whack of Russian goads;
There’s the jerk of tightened traces and of taughtened bullock-chains—
’Tis the siege guns and the field guns, and the ammunition trains.
There’s the grind of tires unceasing, where the metal caps the clay;
And the “clock,” “clock,” “clock” of axles going on all night and day.
And the groaning undercarriage and the king pin and the wheel,
And the rear wheels, which are fore wheels, with their murd’rous loads of steel.

Here and there the sound of cattle in the mist and in the sleet,
And the scrambling start of horses, and the ceaseless splosh of feet.
There’s the short, sharp, sudden order such as drivers give to slaves,
And a ceaseless, soughing, sighing, like the sound of sea-worn caves
When a gale is slowly dying and the darkness hides the waves,
And the ghostly phosphorescence flashes past the rocky arch
Like the wraiths of vanished armies. . . . It is Ivan on the march!
’Tis an army that is marching over other armies’ graves.


“Halt!”
Clamp of bits and gathering silence—here and there a horse’s stamp;
Sounds of chains relaxed, and harness, like the teamsters come to camp.
Sounds of boxes moved in waggons, and of axes on a log—
And the wild and joyous barking of the regimental dog!
Sounds of pots and pans and buckets, and the clink of chain and hook—
And the blasphemous complaining of the Universal Cook.
Mist and mist and mellowed moonlight—night in more than ghostly robes;
And the lanterns and the camp fires like dim lights in frosted globes.
Silence deep of satisfaction. Sounds of laughter murmuring—
And the fragrance of tobacco! Are you Ivan? Ivan! Sing!

“I am Ivan! Yes, I’m Ivan, from the mist and from the mirk;
From the night of “Darkest Russia” where Oppression used to lurk—
And it’s many weary winters since I started Christian work;
But you feared the power of Ivan, and you nursed the rotten Turk.
Nurse him now! Or nurse him later, when his green-black blood hath laved
Wounds upon your hands and “honour” that his gratitude engraved;
Poison teeth on hands that shielded, poison fangs on hands that saved.

“No one doubted Ivan’s honour, no one doubted Ivan’s vow,
And the simple word of Ivan, none would dream of doubting now;
Yet you cherished, for your purpose, lies you heard and lies you spread,
And you triumphed for a Spectre over Ivan’s murdered dead!
You were fearful of my power in the rolling of my drums—
Now you tremble lest it fail me when To-morrow’s Morrow comes!

I had sought to conquer no land save what was by right my own—
I took Finland, I took Poland, but I left their creeds alone.
I, the greater, kindlier Tyrant, bade them live and showed them how—
They are free, and they are happy, and they’re marching with me now—
Marching to the War of Ages—marching to the War of Wars—
Hear the rebel songs of Warsaw! Hear the hymn of Helsingfors!
From the Danube to Siberia and the northern lights aflame.
Many freed and peaceful millions bless the day when Ivan came.
Travel through the mighty Russland—study, learn and understand
That my people are contented, for my people have their land.

It was spring-time in Crimea, coming cold and dark and late,
When I signed the terms you offered, for I knew that I could wait;
When I bowed to stronger nations or to Universal Fate.
And the roofs of guiltless kinsmen blazed across my frontiers still,
Where the bloody hordes of Islam came to ravish, rob and kill;
And the lands were laid in ashes over many a field and hill;
And the groans of tortured peasants (dreaming yet and sullen-mad)—
And the shrieks of outraged daughters echoed still in Petrograd;
So we taught and trained and struggled, and we cursed the Western Powers,
While we suffered in the awful silence of your God, and ours.

“For the safety of the White Race and the memory of Christ,
Once again I marched on Turkey, only to be sacrificed,
To the Sea-Greed of the Nations, by the pandering of the weak,
And the treachery in Athens of the lying, cheating Greek.
Once again I forced the Balkans over snow and rock and moss,
Once again I saw the passes stormed with unavailing loss;
Once again I saw the Crescent reeling back before the Cross,
And the ships of many nations on the billows dip and toss.

Once again my grey battalions, that had come with Christian aid,
Stood before Constantinople! Ah, you wish that we had stayed!
But the Powers raised their fingers, fearful even once again,
With the jealous fear that lingers even now (and shall remain);
Frigid as the polar regions were your hearts to others’ pain—
So I dragged my weary legions back to Russia—once again.

“Thrice again they raised their fingers when I came with purpose true,
And I bowed and smirked and grovelled as I had been used to do.
Till my kin in bloody visions saw their homes in ruins laid
From the Danube to the ocean, from the ocean to Belgrade;
I was ready, for the last time, when they called on me for aid.

From the Dardanelles, denied me, shall my outward march be set;
And you’ll see my fleets of commerce sail the Adriatic yet.”

Grey Day
.
Daybreak on the world of Europe! Daybreak from the Eastern arch;
Hear the startling sound of bugles! Load and limber up and march!
On! for Ivan and his children, Peace and Rest and Morning Star!
On for Truth and Right and Justice. On for Russia and the Czar!

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Byron

I shall soon be six-and-twenty. Is there anything in the future that can possibly console us for not being always twenty-five?

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You nailed me

You nailed me
To the garden fence with a kiss,
Translucent-blood then wet my lids
Like sunlight after a heavy-shower.
Apple-fresh the goblet-cup opened
Its olive pores of greenwood.

I held you, too tightly at first limb for limb.
Then o'er the oil and water mixed, before parting?
"Virginity is a yellow bruise that grapples
Like a naked swimmer" inherently drowning…
Expounding: for some forbidden fruit.

It's now then you gaze at me as though
Your Eden had already over grown…
Chopping backward at some underpass
Your eyes droop like summer scorched nettles…
That reveals me as an unremitting, wilderness.

Even now the air!
Still pollenates that long-off aspersed-seed.
Even now—when your garden fence
No-longer beckons me into that over-leap
The nature of the slug,
Is still here abundant to smother and cling.

Yes, it was right then I too did not live up to you…
For you was a flower of the golden meadow
And I, I was a flower of the woodland-vine.
You were a primrose and I a jungle climbing fig
In memories bound up of your distant sunlight

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I Wished It

You neither came forward
Nor looked backward
To reassure me of sweet words
That was spoken in presence of lord

It was total surprise
But that did not cut much ice
I was well prepared
And almost dared

I wished it to happen
But not all of sudden
You were to come in open
Declare your resolve and assert it even

Oh, you did not look at me
As if I was bonded lover but let free
That I had all the options open
I could miss and go even

This attitude puzzled me even long before
You were unique and liked you therefore
You were to come and say nothing
Just to look at and assure for something

'Dear can you not speak word in my ears'? I whispered
I have waited to hear it for all these years, I murmured
You are still silent and remain unmoved
Your commitment to me is still not proved

I was shaken from half asleep stage
You just slipped near and managed
'My eyes are not closed to neglect' you finally said
You were heard saying 'It is my humble act'

It is not surprise but well thought over
Balance act and impregnable shield or cover
I was with you forever and would remain so
You venture into lovely world and surely go

If that was the love he intended
Why was I all the time offended?
I shamed and downed the eyes
What was I for all these years to ask why?

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G.K. Chesterton

Book VIII: The Scouring of the Horse

In the years of the peace of Wessex,
When the good King sat at home;
Years following on that bloody boon
When she that stands above the moon
Stood above death at Ethandune
And saw his kingdom come--

When the pagan people of the sea
Fled to their palisades,
Nailed there with javelins to cling
And wonder smote the pirate king,
And brought him to his christening
And the end of all his raids.

(For not till the night's blue slate is wiped
Of its last star utterly,
And fierce new signs writ there to read,
Shall eyes with such amazement heed,
As when a great man knows indeed
A greater thing than he.)

And there came to his chrism-loosing
Lords of all lands afar,
And a line was drawn north-westerly
That set King Egbert's empire free,
Giving all lands by the northern sea
To the sons of the northern star.

In the days of the rest of Alfred,
When all these things were done,
And Wessex lay in a patch of peace,
Like a dog in a patch of sun--

The King sat in his orchard,
Among apples green and red,
With the little book in his bosom
And the sunshine on his head.

And he gathered the songs of simple men
That swing with helm and hod,
And the alms he gave as a Christian
Like a river alive with fishes ran;
And he made gifts to a beggar man
As to a wandering god.

And he gat good laws of the ancient kings,
Like treasure out of the tombs;
And many a thief in thorny nook,
Or noble in sea-stained turret shook,
For the opening of his iron book,
And the gathering of the dooms.

Then men would come from the ends of the earth,
Whom the King sat welcoming,
And men would go to the ends of the earth
Because of the word of the King.

For folk came in to Alfred's face
Whose javelins had been hurled
On monsters that make boil the sea,
Crakens and coils of mystery.
Or thrust in ancient snows that be
The white hair of the world.

And some had knocked at the northern gates
Of the ultimate icy floor,
Where the fish freeze and the foam turns black,
And the wide world narrows to a track,
And the other sea at the world's back
Cries through a closed door.

And men went forth from Alfred's face,
Even great gift-bearing lords,
Not to Rome only, but more bold,
Out to the high hot courts of old,
Of negroes clad in cloth of gold,
Silence, and crooked swords,

Scrawled screens and secret gardens
And insect-laden skies--
Where fiery plains stretch on and on
To the purple country of Prester John
And the walls of Paradise.

And he knew the might of the Terre Majeure,
Where kings began to reign;
Where in a night-rout, without name,
Of gloomy Goths and Gauls there came
White, above candles all aflame,
Like a vision, Charlemagne.

And men, seeing such embassies,
Spake with the King and said:
"The steel that sang so sweet a tune
On Ashdown and on Ethandune,
Why hangs it scabbarded so soon,
All heavily like lead?

"Why dwell the Danes in North England,
And up to the river ride?
Three more such marches like thine own
Would end them; and the Pict should own
Our sway; and our feet climb the throne
In the mountains of Strathclyde."

And Alfred in the orchard,
Among apples green and red,
With the little book in his bosom,
Looked at green leaves and said:

"When all philosophies shall fail,
This word alone shall fit;
That a sage feels too small for life,
And a fool too large for it.

"Asia and all imperial plains
Are too little for a fool;
But for one man whose eyes can see
The little island of Athelney
Is too large a land to rule.

"Haply it had been better
When I built my fortress there,
Out in the reedy waters wide,
I had stood on my mud wall and cried:
'Take England all, from tide to tide--
Be Athelney my share.'

"Those madmen of the throne-scramble--
Oppressors and oppressed--
Had lined the banks by Athelney,
And waved and wailed unceasingly,
Where the river turned to the broad sea,
By an island of the blest.

"An island like a little book
Full of a hundred tales,
Like the gilt page the good monks pen,
That is all smaller than a wren,
Yet hath high towns, meteors, and men,
And suns and spouting whales;

"A land having a light on it
In the river dark and fast,
An isle with utter clearness lit,
Because a saint had stood in it;
Where flowers are flowers indeed and fit,
And trees are trees at last.

"So were the island of a saint;
But I am a common king,
And I will make my fences tough
From Wantage Town to Plymouth Bluff,
Because I am not wise enough
To rule so small a thing."

And it fell in the days of Alfred,
In the days of his repose,
That as old customs in his sight
Were a straight road and a steady light,
He bade them keep the White Horse white
As the first plume of the snows.

And right to the red torchlight,
From the trouble of morning grey,
They stripped the White Horse of the grass
As they strip it to this day.

And under the red torchlight
He went dreaming as though dull,
Of his old companions slain like kings,
And the rich irrevocable things
Of a heart that hath not openings,
But is shut fast, being full.

And the torchlight touched the pale hair
Where silver clouded gold,
And the frame of his face was made of cords,
And a young lord turned among the lords
And said: "The King is old."

And even as he said it
A post ran in amain,
Crying: "Arm, Lord King, the hamlets arm,
In the horror and the shade of harm,
They have burnt Brand of Aynger's farm--
The Danes are come again!

"Danes drive the white East Angles
In six fights on the plains,
Danes waste the world about the Thames,
Danes to the eastward--Danes!"

And as he stumbled on one knee,
The thanes broke out in ire,
Crying: "Ill the watchmen watch, and ill
The sheriffs keep the shire."

But the young earl said: "Ill the saints,
The saints of England, guard
The land wherein we pledge them gold;
The dykes decay, the King grows old,
And surely this is hard,

"That we be never quit of them;
That when his head is hoar
He cannot say to them he smote,
And spared with a hand hard at the throat,
'Go, and return no more.' "

Then Alfred smiled. And the smile of him
Was like the sun for power.
But he only pointed: bade them heed
Those peasants of the Berkshire breed,
Who plucked the old Horse of the weed
As they pluck it to this hour.

"Will ye part with the weeds for ever?
Or show daisies to the door?
Or will you bid the bold grass
Go, and return no more?

"So ceaseless and so secret
Thrive terror and theft set free;
Treason and shame shall come to pass
While one weed flowers in a morass;
And like the stillness of stiff grass
The stillness of tyranny.

"Over our white souls also
Wild heresies and high
Wave prouder than the plumes of grass,
And sadder than their sigh.

"And I go riding against the raid,
And ye know not where I am;
But ye shall know in a day or year,
When one green star of grass grows here;
Chaos has charged you, charger and spear,
Battle-axe and battering-ram.

"And though skies alter and empires melt,
This word shall still be true:
If we would have the horse of old,
Scour ye the horse anew.

"One time I followed a dancing star
That seemed to sing and nod,
And ring upon earth all evil's knell;
But now I wot if ye scour not well
Red rust shall grow on God's great bell
And grass in the streets of God."

Ceased Alfred; and above his head
The grand green domes, the Downs,
Showed the first legions of the press,
Marching in haste and bitterness
For Christ's sake and the crown's.

Beyond the cavern of Colan,
Past Eldred's by the sea,
Rose men that owned King Alfred's rod,
From the windy wastes of Exe untrod,
Or where the thorn of the grave of God
Burns over Glastonbury.

Far northward and far westward
The distant tribes drew nigh,
Plains beyond plains, fell beyond fell,
That a man at sunset sees so well,
And the tiny coloured towns that dwell
In the corners of the sky.

But dark and thick as thronged the host,
With drum and torch and blade,
The still-eyed King sat pondering,
As one that watches a live thing,
The scoured chalk; and he said,

"Though I give this land to Our Lady,
That helped me in Athelney,
Though lordlier trees and lustier sod
And happier hills hath no flesh trod
Than the garden of the Mother of God
Between Thames side and the sea,

"I know that weeds shall grow in it
Faster than men can burn;
And though they scatter now and go,
In some far century, sad and slow,
I have a vision, and I know
The heathen shall return.

"They shall not come with warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

"Not with the humour of hunters
Or savage skill in war,
But ordering all things with dead words,
Strings shall they make of beasts and birds,
And wheels of wind and star.

"They shall come mild as monkish clerks,
With many a scroll and pen;
And backward shall ye turn and gaze,
Desiring one of Alfred's days,
When pagans still were men.

"The dear sun dwarfed of dreadful suns,
Like fiercer flowers on stalk,
Earth lost and little like a pea
In high heaven's towering forestry,
--These be the small weeds ye shall see
Crawl, covering the chalk.

"But though they bridge St. Mary's sea,
Or steal St. Michael's wing--
Though they rear marvels over us,
Greater than great Vergilius
Wrought for the Roman king;

"By this sign you shall know them,
The breaking of the sword,
And man no more a free knight,
That loves or hates his lord.

"Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And Man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

"What though they come with scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them,
That they ruin and make dark;

"By all men bond to Nothing,
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed,
Too blind to be abhorred;

"By terror and the cruel tales
Of curse in bone and kin,
By weird and weakness winning,
Accursed from the beginning,
By detail of the sinning,
And denial of the sin;

"By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast of the world,
And the end of the world's desire;

"By God and man dishonoured,
By death and life made vain,
Know ye the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again--

"When is great talk of trend and tide,
And wisdom and destiny,
Hail that undying heathen
That is sadder than the sea.

"In what wise men shall smite him,
Or the Cross stand up again,
Or charity or chivalry,
My vision saith not; and I see
No more; but now ride doubtfully
To the battle of the plain."

And the grass-edge of the great down
Was cut clean as a lawn,
While the levies thronged from near and far,
From the warm woods of the western star,
And the King went out to his last war
On a tall grey horse at dawn.

And news of his far-off fighting
Came slowly and brokenly
From the land of the East Saxons,
From the sunrise and the sea.

From the plains of the white sunrise,
And sad St. Edmund's crown,
Where the pools of Essex pale and gleam
Out beyond London Town--

In mighty and doubtful fragments,
Like faint or fabled wars,
Climbed the old hills of his renown,
Where the bald brow of White Horse Down
Is close to the cold stars.

But away in the eastern places
The wind of death walked high,
And a raid was driven athwart the raid,
The sky reddened and the smoke swayed,
And the tall grey horse went by.

The gates of the great river
Were breached as with a barge,
The walls sank crowded, say the scribes,
And high towers populous with tribes
Seemed leaning from the charge.

Smoke like rebellious heavens rolled
Curled over coloured flames,
Mirrored in monstrous purple dreams
In the mighty pools of Thames.

Loud was the war on London wall,
And loud in London gates,
And loud the sea-kings in the cloud
Broke through their dreaming gods, and loud
Cried on their dreadful Fates.

And all the while on White Horse Hill
The horse lay long and wan,
The turf crawled and the fungus crept,
And the little sorrel, while all men slept,
Unwrought the work of man.

With velvet finger, velvet foot,
The fierce soft mosses then
Crept on the large white commonweal
All folk had striven to strip and peel,
And the grass, like a great green witch's wheel,
Unwound the toils of men.

And clover and silent thistle throve,
And buds burst silently,
With little care for the Thames Valley
Or what things there might be--

That away on the widening river,
In the eastern plains for crown
Stood up in the pale purple sky
One turret of smoke like ivory;
And the smoke changed and the wind went by,
And the King took London Town.

poem by from The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)Report problemRelated quotes
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A Letter From Li Po

Fanfare of northwest wind, a bluejay wind
announces autumn, and the equinox
rolls back blue bays to a far afternoon.
Somewhere beyond the Gorge Li Po is gone,
looking for friendship or an old love's sleeve
or writing letters to his children, lost,
and to his children's children, and to us.
What was his light? of lamp or moon or sun?
Say that it changed, for better or for worse,
sifted by leaves, sifted by snow; on mulberry silk
a slant of witch-light; on the pure text
a slant of genius; emptying mind and heart
for winecups and more winecups and more words.
What was his time? Say that it was a change,
but constant as a changing thing may be,
from chicory's moon-dark blue down the taut scale
to chicory's tenderest pink, in a pink field
such as imagination dreams of thought.
But of the heart beneath the winecup moon
the tears that fell beneath the winecup moon
for children lost, lost lovers, and lost friends,
what can we say but that it never ends?
Even for us it never ends, only begins.
Yet to spell down the poem on her page,
margining her phrases, parsing forth
the sevenfold prism of meaning, up the scale
from chicory pink to blue, is to assume
Li Po himself: as he before assumed
the poets and the sages who were his.
Like him, we too have eaten of the word:
with him are somewhere lost beyond the Gorge:
and write, in rain, a letter to lost children,
a letter long as time and brief as love.

II

And yet not love, not only love. Not caritas
or only that. Nor the pink chicory love,
deep as it may be, even to moon-dark blue,
in which the dragon of his meaning flew
for friends or children lost, or even
for the beloved horse, for Li Po's horse:
not these, in the self's circle so embraced:
too near, too dear, for pure assessment: no,
a letter crammed and creviced, crannied full,
storied and stored as the ripe honeycomb
with other faith than this. As of sole pride
and holy loneliness, the intrinsic face
worn by the always changing shape between
end and beginning, birth and death.
How moves that line of daring on the map?
Where was it yesterday, or where this morning
when thunder struck at seven, and in the bay
the meteor made its dive, and shed its wings,
and with them one more Icarus? Where struck
that lightning-stroke which in your sleep you saw
wrinkling across the eyelid? Somewhere else?
But somewhere else is always here and now.
Each moment crawls that lightning on your eyelid:
each moment you must die. It was a tree
that this time died for you: it was a rock
and with it all its local web of love:
a chimney, spilling down historic bricks:
perhaps a skyful of Ben Franklin's kites.
And with them, us. For we must hear and bear
the news from everywhere: the hourly news,
infinitesimal or vast, from everywhere.

III

Sole pride and loneliness: it is the state
the kingdom rather of all things: we hear
news of the heart in weather of the Bear,
slide down the rungs of Cassiopeia's Chair,
still on the nursery floor, the Milky Way;
and, if we question one, must question all.
What is this ‘man'? How far from him is ‘me'?
Who, in this conch-shell, locked the sound of sea?
We are the tree, yet sit beneath the tree,
among the leaves we are the hidden bird,
we are the singer and are what is heard.
What is this ‘world'? Not Li Po's Gorge alone,
and yet, this too might be. ‘The wind was high
north of the White King City, by the fields
of whistling barley under cuckoo sky,'
where, as the silkworm drew her silk, Li Po
spun out his thoughts of us. ‘Endless as silk'
(he said) ‘these poems for lost loves, and us,'
and, ‘for the peachtree, blooming in the ditch.'
Here is the divine loneliness in which
we greet, only to doubt, a voice, a word,
the smoke of a sweetfern after frost, a face
touched, and loved, but still unknown, and then
a body, still mysterious in embrace.
Taste lost as touch is lost, only to leave
dust on the doorsill or an ink-stained sleeve:
and yet, for the inadmissible, to grieve.
Of leaf and love, at last, only to doubt:
from world within or world without, kept out.

IV

Caucus of robins on an alien shore
as of the Ho-Ho birds at Jewel Gate
southward bound and who knows where and never late
or lost in a roar at sea. Rovers of chaos
each one the ‘Rover of Chao,' whose slight bones
shall put to shame the swords. We fly with these,
have always flown, and they
stay with us here, stand still and stay,
while, exiled in the Land of Pa, Li Po
still at the Wine Spring stoops to drink the moon.
And northward now, for fall gives way to spring,
from Sandy Hook and Kitty Hawk they wing,
and he remembers, with the pipes and flutes,
drunk with joy, bewildered by the chance
that brought a friend, and friendship, how, in vain,
he strove to speak, ‘and in long sentences,' his pain.
Exiled are we. Were exiles born. The ‘far away,'
language of desert, language of ocean, language of sky,
as of the unfathomable worlds that lie
between the apple and the eye,
these are the only words we learn to say.
Each morning we devour the unknown. Each day
we find, and take, and spill, or spend, or lose,
a sunflower splendor of which none knows the source.
This cornucopia of air! This very heaven
of simple day! We do not know, can never know,
the alphabet to find us entrance there.
So, in the street, we stand and stare,
to greet a friend, and shake his hand,
yet know him beyond knowledge, like ourselves;
ocean unknowable by unknowable sand.

V

The locust tree spills sequins of pale gold
in spiral nebulae, borne on the Invisible
earthward and deathward, but in change to find
the cycles to new birth, new life. Li Po
allowed his autumn thoughts like these to flow,
and, from the Gorge, sends word of Chouang's dream.
Did Chouang dream he was a butterfly?
Or did the butterfly dream Chouang? If so,
why then all things can change, and change again,
the sea to brook, the brook to sea, and we
from man to butterfly; and back to man.
This 'I,' this moving ‘I,' this focal ‘I,'
which changes, when it dreams the butterfly,
into the thing it dreams of; liquid eye
in which the thing takes shape, but from within
as well as from without: this liquid ‘I':
how many guises, and disguises, this
nimblest of actors takes, how many names
puts on and off, the costumes worn but once,
the player queen, the lover, or the dunce,
hero or poet, father or friend,
suiting the eloquence to the moment's end;
childlike, or bestial; the language of the kiss
sensual or simple; and the gestures, too,
as slight as that with which an empire falls,
or a great love's abjured; these feignings, sleights,
savants, or saints, or fly-by-nights,
the novice in her cell, or wearing tights
on the high wire above a hell of lights:
what's true in these, or false? which is the ‘I'
of 'I's'? Is it the master of the cadence, who
transforms all things to a hoop of flame, where through
tigers of meaning leap? And are these true,
the language never old and never new,
such as the world wears on its wedding day,
the something borrowed with something chicory blue?
In every part we play, we play ourselves;
even the secret doubt to which we come
beneath the changing shapes of self and thing,
yes, even this, at last, if we should call
and dare to name it, we would find
the only voice that answers is our own.
We are once more defrauded by the mind.

Defrauded? No. It is the alchemy by which we grow.
It is the self becoming word, the word
becoming world. And with each part we play
we add to cosmic Sum and cosmic sum.
Who knows but one day we shall find,
hidden in the prism at the rainbow's foot,
the square root of the eccentric absolute,
and the concentric absolute to come.

VI

The thousand eyes, the Argus ‘I's' of love,
of these it was, in verse, that Li Po wove
the magic cloak for his last going forth,
into the Gorge for his adventure north.
What is not seen or said? The cloak of words
loves all, says all, sends back the word
whether from Green Spring, and the yellow bird
'that sings unceasing on the banks of Kiang,'
or 'from the Green Moss Path, that winds and winds,
nine turns for every hundred steps it winds,
up the Sword Parapet on the road to Shuh.'
‘Dead pinetrees hang head-foremost from the cliff.
The cataract roars downward. Boulders fall
Splitting the echoes from the mountain wall.
No voice, save when the nameless birds complain,
in stunted trees, female echoing male;
or, in the moonlight, the lost cuckoo's cry,
piercing the traveller's heart. Wayfarer from afar,
why are you here? what brings you here? why here?'

VII

Why here. Nor can we say why here. The peachtree bough
scrapes on the wall at midnight, the west wind
sculptures the wall of fog that slides
seaward, over the Gulf Stream.
The rat
comes through the wainscot, brings to his larder
the twinned acorn and chestnut burr. Our sleep
lights for a moment into dream, the eyes
turn under eyelids for a scene, a scene,
o and the music, too, of landscape lost.
And yet, not lost. For here savannahs wave
cressets of pampas, and the kingfisher
binds all that gold with blue.
Why here? why here?
Why does the dream keep only this, just this C?
Yes, as the poem or the music do?

The timelessness of time takes form in rhyme:
the lotus and the locust tree rehearse
a four-form song, the quatrain of the year:
not in the clock's chime only do we hear
the passing of the Now into the past,
the passing into future of the Now:
hut in the alteration of the bough
time becomes visible, becomes audible,
becomes the poem and the music too:
time becomes still, time becomes time, in rhyme.
Thus, in the Court of Aloes, Lady Yang
called the musicians from the Pear Tree Garden,
called for Li Po, in order that the spring,
tree-peony spring, might so be made immortal.
Li Po, brought drunk to court, took up his brush,
but washed his face among the lilies first,
then wrote the song of Lady Flying Swallow:
which Hsuang Sung, the emperor, forthwith played,
moving quick fingers on a flute of jade.
Who will forget that afternoon? Still, still,
the singer holds his phrase, the rising moon
remains unrisen. Even the fountain's falling blade
hangs in the air unbroken, and says: Wait!

VIII

Text into text, text out of text. Pretext
for scholars or for scholiasts. The living word
springs from the dying, as leaves in spring
spring from dead leaves, our birth from death.
And all is text, is holy text. Sheepfold Hill
becomes its name for us, anti yet is still
unnamed, unnamable, a book of trees
before it was a book for men or sheep,
before it was a book for words. Words, words,
for it is scarlet now, and brown, and red,
and yellow where the birches have not shed,
where, in another week, the rocks will show.
And in this marriage of text and thing how can we know
where most the meaning lies? We climb the hill
through bullbriar thicket and the wild rose, climb
past poverty-grass and the sweet-scented bay
scaring the pheasant from his wall, but can we say
that it is only these, through these, we climb,
or through the words, the cadence, and the rhyme?
Chang Hsu, calligrapher of great renown,
needed to put but his three cupfuls down
to tip his brush with lightning. On the scroll,
wreaths of cloud rolled left and right, the sky
opened upon Forever. Which is which?
The poem? Or the peachtree in the ditch?
Or is all one? Yes, all is text, the immortal text,
Sheepfold Hill the poem, the poem Sheepfold Hill,
and we, Li Po, the man who sings, sings as he climbs,
transposing rhymes to rocks and rocks to rhymes.
The man who sings. What is this man who sings?
And finds this dedicated use for breath
for phrase and periphrase of praise between
the twin indignities of birth and death?
Li Yung, the master of the epitaph,
forgetting about meaning, who himself
had added 'meaning' to the book of >things,'
lies who knows where, himself sans epitaph,
his text, too, lost, forever lost ...
And yet, no,
text lost and poet lost, these only flow
into that other text that knows no year.
The peachtree in the poem is still here.
The song is in the peachtree and the ear.

IX

The winds of doctrine blow both ways at once.
The wetted finger feels the wind each way,
presaging plums from north, and snow from south.
The dust-wind whistles from the eastern sea
to dry the nectarine and parch the mouth.
The west wind from the desert wreathes the rain
too late to fill our wells, but soon enough,
the four-day rain that bears the leaves away.
Song with the wind will change, but is still song
and pierces to the rightness in the wrong
or makes the wrong a rightness, a delight.
Where are the eager guests that yesterday
thronged at the gate? Like leaves, they could not stay,
the winds of doctrine blew their minds away,
and we shall have no loving-cup tonight.
No loving-cup: for not ourselves are here
to entertain us in that outer year,
where, so they say, we see the Greater Earth.
The winds of doctrine blow our minds away,
and we are absent till another birth.

X

Beyond the Sugar Loaf, in the far wood,
under the four-day rain, gunshot is heard
and with the falling leaf the falling bird
flutters her crimson at the huntsman's foot.
Life looks down at death, death looks up at life,
the eyes exchange the secret under rain,
rain all the way from heaven: and all three
know and are known, share and are shared, a silent
moment of union and communion.
Have we come
this way before, and at some other time?
Is it the Wind Wheel Circle we have come?
We know the eye of death, and in it too
the eye of god, that closes as in sleep,
giving its light, giving its life, away:
clouding itself as consciousness from pain,
clouding itself, and then, the shutter shut.
And will this eye of god awake again?
Or is this what he loses, loses once,
but always loses, and forever lost?
It is the always and unredeemable cost
of his invention, his fatigue. The eye
closes, and no other takes its place.
It is the end of god, each time, each time.

Yet, though the leaves must fall, the galaxies
rattle, detach, and fall, each to his own
perplexed and individual death, Lady Yang
gone with the inkberry's vermilion stalk,
the peony face behind a fan of frost,
the blue-moon eyebrow behind a fan of rain,
beyond recall by any alchemist
or incantation from the Book of Change:
unresumable, as, on Sheepfold Hill,
the fir cone of a thousand years ago:
still, in the loving, and the saying so,
as when we name the hill, and, with the name,
bestow an essence, and a meaning, too:
do we endow them with our lives?
They move
into another orbit: into a time
not theirs: and we become the bell to speak
this time: as we become new eyes
with which they see, the voice
in which they find duration, short or long,
the chthonic and hermetic song.
Beyond Sheepfold Hill,
gunshot again, the bird flies forth to meet
predestined death, to look with conscious sight
into the eye of light
the light unflinching that understands and loves.
And Sheepfold Hill accepts them, and is still.

XI

The landscape and the language are the same.
And we ourselves are language and are land,
together grew with Sheepfold Hill, rock, and hand,
and mind, all taking substance in a thought
wrought out of mystery: birdflight and air
predestined from the first to be a pair:
as, in the atom, the living rhyme
invented her divisions, which in time,
and in the terms of time, would make and break
the text, the texture, and then all remake.
This powerful mind that can by thinking take
the order of the world and all remake,
will it, for joy in breaking, break instead
its own deep thought that thought itself be dead?
Already in our coil of rock and hand,
hidden in the cloud of mind, burning, fading,
under the waters, in the eyes of sand,
was that which in its time would understand.
Already in the Kingdom of the Dead
the scrolls were waiting for the names and dates
and what would there irrevocably be said.
The brush was in the hand, the poem was in the love,
the praise was in the word. The ‘Book of Lives'
listed the name, Li Po, as an Immortal;
and it was time to travel. Not, this year,
north to the Damask City, or the Gorge,
but, by the phoenix borne, swift as the wind,
to the Jade Palace Portal. There
look through the clouded to the clear
and there watch evil like a brush-stroke disappear
in the last perfect rhyme
of the begin-all-end-all poem, time.

XII

Northwest by north. The grasshopper weathervane
bares to the moon his golden breastplate, swings
in his predicted circle, gilded legs and wings
bright with frost, predicting frost. The tide
scales with moon-silver, floods the marsh, fulfils
Payne Creek and Quivett Creek, rises to lift
the fishing-boats against a jetty wall;
and past them floods the plankton and the weed
and limp sea-lettuce for the horseshoe crab
who sleeps till daybreak in his nest of reed.
The hour is open as the mind is open.
Closed as the mind is closed. Opens as the hand opens
to receive the ghostly snowflakes of the moon, closes
to feel the sunbeams of the bloodstream warm
our human inheritance of touch. The air tonight
brings back, to the all-remembering world, its ghosts,
borne from the Great Year on the Wind Wheel Circle.
On that invisible wave we lift, we too,
and drag at secret moorings,
stirred by the ancient currents that gave us birth.
And they are here, Li Po and all the others,
our fathers and our mothers: the dead leaf's footstep
touches the grass: those who were lost at sea
and those the innocents the too-soon dead:
all mankind
and all it ever knew is here in-gathered,
held in our hands, and in the wind
breathed by the pines on Sheepfold Hill.
How still the Quaker Graveyard, the Meeting House
how still, where Cousin Abiel, on a night like this,
now long since dead, but then how young,
how young, scuffing among the dead leaves after frost
looked up and saw the Wine Star, listened and heard
borne from all quarters the Wind Wheel Circle word:
the father within him, the mother within him, the self
coming to self through love of each for each.
In this small mute democracy of stones
is it Abiel or Li Po who lies
and lends us against death our speech?
They are the same, and it is both who teach.
The poets and the prophecies are ours:
and these are with us as we turn, in turn,
the leaves of love that fill the Book of Change.

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Tale XIV

THE STRUGGLES OF CONSCIENCE.

A serious Toyman in the city dwelt,
Who much concern for his religion felt;
Reading, he changed his tenets, read again,
And various questions could with skill maintain;
Papist and Quaker if we set aside,
He had the road of every traveller tried;
There walk'd a while, and on a sudden turn'd
Into some by-way he had just discern'd:
He had a nephew, Fulham: --Fulham went
His Uncle's way, with every turn content;
He saw his pious kinsman's watchful care,
And thought such anxious pains his own might spare,
And he the truth obtain'd, without the toil, might

share.
In fact, young Fulham, though he little read,
Perceived his uncle was by fancy led;
And smiled to see the constant care he took,
Collating creed with creed, and book with book.
At length the senior fix'd; I pass the sect
He call'd a Church, 'twas precious and elect;
Yet the seed fell not in the richest soil,
For few disciples paid the preacher's toil;
All in an attic room were wont to meet,
These few disciples, at their pastor's feet;
With these went Fulham, who, discreet and grave,
Follow'd the light his worthy uncle gave;
Till a warm Preacher found the way t'impart
Awakening feelings to his torpid heart:
Some weighty truths, and of unpleasant kind,
Sank, though resisted, in his struggling mind:
He wish'd to fly them, but, compell'd to stay,
Truth to the waking Conscience found her way;
For though the Youth was call'd a prudent lad,
And prudent was, yet serious faults he had -
Who now reflected--'Much am I surprised;
I find these notions cannot be despised:
No! there is something I perceive at last,
Although my uncle cannot hold it fast;
Though I the strictness of these men reject,
Yet I determine to be circumspect:
This man alarms me, and I must begin
To look more closely to the things within:
These sons of zeal have I derided long,
But now begin to think the laugher's wrong!
Nay, my good uncle, by all teachers moved,
Will be preferr'd to him who none approved; -
Better to love amiss than nothing to have loved.'
Such were his thoughts, when Conscience first

began
To hold close converse with th' awaken'd man:
He from that time reserved and cautious grew,
And for his duties felt obedience due;
Pious he was not, but he fear'd the pain
Of sins committed, nor would sin again:
Whene'er he stray'd, he found his Conscience rose,
Like one determined what was ill t'oppose,
What wrong t'accuse, what secret to disclose;
To drag forth every latent act to light,
And fix them fully in the actor's sight:
This gave him trouble, but he still confess'd
The labour useful, for it brought him rest.
The Uncle died, and when the Nephew read
The will, and saw the substance of the dead -
Five hundred guineas, with a stock in trade -
He much rejoiced, and thought his fortune made;
Yet felt aspiring pleasure at the sight,
And for increase, increasing appetite;
Desire of profit idle habits check'd
(For Fulham's virtue was to be correct);
He and his Conscience had their compact made -
'Urge me with truth, and you will soon persuade;
But not,' he cried, 'for mere ideal things
Give me to feel those terror-breeding stings.'
'Let not such thoughts,' she said, 'your mind

confound;
Trifles may wake me, but they never wound;
In them indeed there is a wrong and right,
But you will find me pliant and polite;
Not like a Conscience of the dotard kind,
Awake to dreams, to dire offences blind:
Let all within be pure, in all beside
Be your own master, governor, and guide;
Alive to danger, in temptation strong,
And I shall sleep our whole existence long.'
'Sweet be thy sleep,' said Fulham; 'strong must

be
The tempting ill that gains access to me:
Never will I to evil deed consent;
Or, if surprised, oh! how will I repent!
Should gain be doubtful, soon would I restore
The dangerous good, or give it to the poor;
Repose for them my growing wealth shall buy,
Or build--who knows?--an hospital like Guy.
Yet why such means to soothe the smart within,
While firmly purposed to renounce the sin?'
Thus our young Trader and his Conscience dwelt
In mutual love, and great the joy they felt;
But yet in small concerns, in trivial things,
'She was,' he said, 'too ready with the stings;'
And he too apt, in search of growing gains,
To lose the fear of penalties and pains:
Yet these were trifling bickerings, petty jars,
Domestic strifes, preliminary wars;
He ventured little, little she express'd
Of indignation, and they both had rest.
Thus was he fix d to walk the worthy way,
When profit urged him to a bold essay: -
A time was that when all at pleasure gamed
In lottery chances, yet a law unblamed:
This Fulham tried; who would to him advance
A pound or crown, he gave in turn a chance
For weighty prize--and should they nothing share,
They had their crown or pound in Fulham's ware;
Thus the old stores within the shop were sold
For that which none refuses, new or old.
Was this unjust? yet Conscience could not rest,
But made a mighty struggle in the breast,
And gave th' aspiring man an early proof
That should they war he would have work enough:
'Suppose,' said she, 'your vended numbers rise
The same with those which gain each real prize,
(Such your proposal), can you ruin shun?' -
'A hundred thousand,' he replied, 'to one.'
'Still it may happen.'--'I the sum must pay.'
'You know you cannot.'--'I can run away.'
'That is dishonest.'--'Nay, but you must wink
At a chance hit: it cannot be, I think.
Upon my conduct as a whole decide,
Such trifling errors let my virtues hide.
Fail I at meeting? am I sleepy there?
My purse refuse I with the priest to share?
Do I deny the poor a helping hand?
Or stop the wicked women in the Strand?
Or drink at club beyond a certain pitch?
Which are your charges? Conscience, tell me

which?'
''Tis well,' said she, 'but--' 'Nay, I pray,

have done:
Trust me, I will not into danger run.'
The lottery drawn, not one demand was made;
Fulham gain'd profit and increase of trade.
'See now,' said he--for Conscience yet arose -
'How foolish 'tis such measures to oppose:
Have I not blameless thus my state advanced?'
'Still,' mutter'd Conscience, 'still it might have

chanced.'
'Might!' said our hero: 'who is so exact
As to inquire what might have been a fact?'
Now Fulham's shop contain'd a curious view
Of costly trifles, elegant and new:
The papers told where kind mammas might buy
The gayest toys to charm an infant's eye;
Where generous beaux might gentle damsels please,
And travellers call who cross the land or seas,
And find the curious art, the neat device,
Of precious value and of trifling price.
Here Conscience rested, she was pleased to find
No less an active than an honest mind;
But when he named his price, and when he swore
His Conscience check'd him that he ask'd no more,
When half he sought had been a large increase
On fair demand, she could not rest in peace;
(Beside th' affront to call th' adviser in,
Who would prevent, to justify the sin):
She therefore told him that 'he vainly tried
To soothe her anger, conscious that he lied;
If thus he grasp'd at such usurious gains,
He must deserve, and should expect her pains.'
The charge was strong; he would in part confess
Offence there was--But, who offended less?
'What! is a mere assertion call'd a lie?
And if it be, are men compell'd to buy?
'Twas strange that Conscience on such points should

dwell,
While he was acting (he would call it) well;
He bought as others buy, he sold as others sell;
There was no fraud, and he demanded cause
Why he was troubled when he kept the laws?'
'My laws!' said Conscience. 'What,' said he, '

are thine?
Oral or written, human or divine?
Show me the chapter, let me see the text;
By laws uncertain subjects are perplex'd:
Let me my finger on the statute lay,
And I shall feel it duty to obey.'
'Reflect,' said Conscience, ''twas your own

desire
That I should warn you--does the compact tire?
Repent you this?--then bid me not advise,
And rather hear your passions as they rise:
So you may counsel and remonstrance shun;
But then remember it is war begun;
And you may judge from some attacks, my friend,
What serious conflicts will on war attend.'
'Nay, but,' at length the thoughtful man

replied,
'I say not that; I wish you for my guide;
Wish for your checks and your reproofs--but then
Be like a conscience of my fellow-men;
Worthy I mean, and men of good report,
And not the wretches who with Conscience sport:
There's Bice, my friend, who passes off his grease
Of pigs for bears', in pots a crown apiece;
His Conscience never checks him when he swears
The fat he sells is honest fat of bears;
And so it is, for he contrives to give
A drachm to each--'tis thus that tradesmen live;
Now why should you and I be over-nice?
What man is held in more repute than Bice?'
Here ended the dispute; but yet 'twas plain
The parties both expected strife again:
Their friendship cool'd, he look'd about and saw
Numbers who seem'd unshackled by his awe;
While like a schoolboy he was threatened still,
Now for the deed, now only for the will:
Here Conscience answered 'To thy neighbour's guide
Thy neighbour leave, and in thine own confide.'
Such were each day the charges and replies,
When a new object caught the trader's eyes;
A Vestry-patriot, could he gain the name,
Would famous make him, and would pay the fame.
He knew full well the sums bequeath'd in charge
For schools, for almsmen, for the poor, were large;
Report had told, and he could feel it true,
That most unfairly dealt the trusted few;
No partners would they in their office take,
Nor clear accounts at annual meetings make.
Aloud our hero in the vestry spoke
Of hidden deeds, and vow'd to draw the cloak;
It was the poor man's cause, and he for one
Was quite determined to see justice done:
His foes affected, laughter, then disdain,
They too were Ioud; and threat'ning, but in vain;
The pauper's friend, their foe, arose and spoke

again;
Fiercely he cried, 'Your garbled statements show
That you determine we shall nothing know;
But we shall bring your hidden crimes to light,
Give you to shame, and to the poor their right.'
Virtue like this might some approval ask -
But Conscience sternly said, 'You wear a mask!'
'At least,' said Fulham, 'if I have a view
To serve myself, I serve the public too.'
Fulham, though check'd, retain'd his former

zeal,
And this the cautious rogues began to feel:
'Thus will he ever bark,' in peevish tone
An elder cried--'the cur must have a bone.'
They then began to hint, and to begin
Was all they needed--it was felt within:
In terms less veil'd an offer then was made;
Though distant still, it fail'd not to persuade:
More plainly then was every point proposed,
Approved, accepted, and the bargain closed.
The exulting paupers hail'd their Friend's success,
And bade adieu to murmurs and distress.
Alas! their Friend had now superior light,
And, view'd by that, he found that all was right;
'There were no errors, the disbursements small;
This was the truth, and truth was due to all.'
And rested Conscience? No! she would not rest,
Yet was content with making a protest:
Some acts she now with less resistance bore,
Nor took alarm so quickly as before:
Like those in towns besieged, who every ball
At first with terror view, and dread them all;
But, grown familiar with the scenes, they fear
The clanger less, as it approaches near;
So Conscience, more familiar with the view
Of growing evils, less attentive grew:
Yet he, who felt some pain and dreaded more,
Gave a peace-offering to the angry poor.
Thus had he quiet--but the time was brief;
From his new triumph sprang a cause of grief;
In office join'd, and acting with the rest,
He must admit the sacramental test.
Now, as a sectary, he had all his life,
As he supposed, been with the Church at strife: -
No rules of hers, no laws had he perused,
Nor knew the tenets he by rote abused;
Yet Conscience here arose more fierce and strong
Than when she told of robbery and wrong.
'Change his religion! No! he must be sure
That was a blow no Conscience eould endure.'
Though friend to Virtue, yet she oft abides
In early notions, fix'd by erring guides;
And is more startled by a call from those,
Than when the foulest crimes her rest oppose:
By error taught, by prejudice misled,
She yields her rights, and Fancy rules instead;
When Conscience all her stings and terror deals,
Not as Truth dictates, but as Fancy feels:
And thus within our hero's troubled breast,
Crime was less torture than the odious test.
New forms, new measures, he must now embrace,
With sad conviction that they warr'd with grace;
To his new church no former friend would come,
They scarce preferr'd her to the Church of Rome;
But thinking much, and weighing guilt and gain,
Conscience and he commuted for her pain;
Then promised Fulham to retain his creed,
And their peculiar paupers still to feed;
Their attic-room (in secret) to attend,
And not forget he was the preacher's friend:
Thus he proposed, and Conscience, troubled, tried,
And wanting peace, reluctantly complied.
Now, care subdued, and apprehensions gone,
In peace our hero went aspiring on;
But short the period--soon a quarrel rose,
Fierce in the birth, and fatal in the close;
With times of truce between, which rather proved
That both were weary, than that either loved.
Fulham e'en now disliked the heavy thrall,
And for her death would in his anguish call,
As Rome's mistaken friend exclaimed, 'Let Carthage

fall,'
So felt our hero, so his wish express'd,
Against this powerful sprite--delenda est:
Rome in her conquest saw not danger near,
Freed from her rival and without a fear;
So, Conscience conquer'd, men perceive how free,
But not how fatal, such a state must be.
Fatal, not free, our hero's; foe or friend,
Conscience on him was destined to attend:
She dozed indeed, grew dull, nor seem'd to spy
Crime following crime, and each of deeper dye;
But all were noticed, and the reckoning time
With her account came on--crime following crime.
This, once a foe, now Brother in the Trust,
Whom Fulham late described as fair and just,
Was the sole Guardian of a wealthy maid,
Placed in his power, and of his frown afraid:
Not quite an idiot, for her busy brain
Sought, by poor cunning, trifling points to gain;
Success in childish projects her delight,
She took no heed of each important right.
The friendly parties met--the Guardian cried,
'I am too old; my sons have each a bride:
Martha, my ward, would make an easy wife:
On easy terms I'll make her yours for life;
And then the creature is so weak and mild.
She may be soothed and threaten'd as a child.'
'Yet not obey,' said Fulham, 'for your fools,
Female and male, are obstinate as mules.'
Some points adjusted, these new friends agreed,
Proposed the day, and hurried on the deed.
''Tis a vile act,' said Conscience. 'It will

prove,'
Replied the bolder man, 'an act of love:
Her wicked guardian might the girl have sold
To endless misery for a tyrant's gold;
Now may her life be happy--for I mean
To keep my temper even and serene.'
'I cannot thus compound,' the spirit cried,
'Nor have my laws thus broken and defied:
This is a fraud, a bargain for a wife;
Expect my vengeance, or amend your life.'
The Wife was pretty, trifling, childish, weak;
She could not think, but would not cease to speak.
This he forbade--she took the caution ill,
And boldly rose against his sovereign will;
With idiot-cunning she would watch the hour,
When friends were present, to dispute his power:
With tyrant-craft, he then was still and calm,
But raised in private terror and alarm:
By many trials, she perceived how far
To vex and tease, without an open war;
And he discovered that so weak a mind
No art could lead, and no compulsion bind;
The rudest force would fail such mind to tame,
And she was callous to rebuke and shame;
Proud of her wealth, the power of law she knew,
And would assist him in the spending too:
His threat'ning words with insult she defied,
To all his reasoning with a stare replied;
And when he begg'd her to attend, would say,
'Attend I will--but let me have my way.'
Nor rest had Conscience: 'While you merit pain
From me,' she cried, 'you seek redress in vain.'
His thoughts were grievous: 'All that I possess
From this vile bargain adds to my distress;
To pass a life with one who will not mend,
Who cannot love, nor save, nor wisely spend,
Is a vile prospect, and I see no end:
For if we part, I must of course restore
Much of her money, and must wed no more.
'Is there no way?'--Here Conscience rose in

power, -
'Oh! fly the danger of this fatal hour;
I am thy Conscience, faithful, fond, and true:
Ah, fly this thought, or evil must ensue;
Fall on thy knees, and pray with all thy soul,
Thy purpose banish, thy design control:
Let every hope of such advantage cease,
Or never more expect a moment's peace.'
Th' affrighten'd man a due attention paid,
Felt the rebuke, and the command obey'd.
Again the wife rebell'd, again express'd
A love for pleasure--a contempt of rest;
'She whom she pleased would visit, would receive
Those who pleased her, nor deign to ask for leave.'
'One way there is,' said he; 'I might contrive
Into a trap this foolish thing to drive:
Who pleased her, said she?--I'll be certain who.'
'Take heed,' said Conscience 'what thou mean'st to

do;
Ensnare thy wife?'--'Why, yes,' he must confess,
'It might be wrong, but there was no redress;
Beside to think,' said he, 'is not to sin.'
'Mistaken man!' replied the power within.
No guest unnoticed to the lady came,
He judged th' event with mingled joy and shame;
Oft he withdrew, and seem'd to leave her free,
But still as watchful as a lynx was he;
Meanwhile the wife was thoughtless, cool, and gay,
And, without virtue, had no wish to stray.
Though thus opposed, his plans were not

resign'd;
'Revenge,' said he, 'will prompt that daring mind;
Refused supplies, insulted and distress'd,
Enraged with me, and near a favourite guest -
Then will her vengeance prompt the daring deed,
And I shall watch, detect her, and be freed.'
There was a youth--but let me hide the name,
With all the progress of this deed of shame;
He had his views--on him the husband cast
His net, and saw him in his trammels fast.
'Pause but a moment--think what you intend,'
Said the roused Sleeper: 'I am yet a friend.
Must all our days in enmity be spent?'
'No!' and he paused--'I surely shall repent:'
Then hurried on--the evil plan was laid,
The wife was guilty, and her friend betray'd,
And Fulham gain'd his wish, and for his will was

paid.
Had crimes less weighty on the spirit press'd,
This troubled Conscience might have sunk to rest;
And, like a foolish guard, been bribed to peace,
By a false promise, that offence should cease;
Past faults had seem'd familiar to the view,
Confused if many, and obscure though true;
And Conscience, troubled with the dull account,
Had dropp'd her tale, and slumber'd o'er th'

amount:
But, struck by daring guilt, alert she rose,
Disturb'd, alarm'd, and could no more repose:
All hopes of friendship and of peace were past,
And every view with gloom was overcast.
Hence from that day, that day of shame and sin,
Arose the restless enmity within:
On no resource could Fulham now rely,
Doom'd all expedients, and in vain, to try;
For Conscience, roused, sat boldly on her throne,
Watch'd every thought, attack'd the foe alone,
And with envenom'd sting drew forth the inward

groan:
Expedients fail'd that brought relief before,
In vain his alms gave comfort to the poor,
Give what he would, to him the comfort came no

more:
Not prayer avail'd, and when (his crimes confess'd)
He felt some ease, she said, 'Are they redress'd?
You still retain the profit, and be sure,
Long as it lasts, this anguish shall endure.'
Fulham still tried to soothe her, cheat,

mislead,
But Conscience laid her finger on the deed,
And read the crime with power, and all that must

succeed:
He tried t'expel her, but was sure to find
Her strength increased by all that he design'd;
Nor ever was his groan more loud and deep
Than when refresh'd she rose from momentary sleep.
Now desperate grown, weak, harass'd, and afraid,
From new allies he sought for doubtful aid;
To thought itself he strove to bid adieu,
And from devotions to diversions flew;
He took a poor domestic for a slave
(Though avarice grieved to see the price he gave);
Upon his board, once frugal, press'd a load
Of viands rich the appetite to goad;
The long protracted meal, the sparkling cup,
Fought with his gloom, and kept his courage up:
Soon as the morning came, there met his eyes
Accounts of wealth, that he might reading rise;
To profit then he gave some active hours,
Till food and wine again should renovate his

powers:
Yet, spite of all defence, of every aid,
The watchful Foe her close attention paid;
In every thoughtful moment on she press'd,
And gave at once her dagger to his breast;
He waked at midnight, and the fears of sin,
As waters through a bursten dam, broke in;
Nay, in the banquet, with his friends around,
When all their cares and half their crimes were

drown'd,
Would some chance act awake the slumbering fear,
And care and crime in all their strength appear:
The news is read, a guilty victim swings,
And troubled looks proclaim the bosom-stings:
Some pair are wed; this brings the wife in view;
And some divorced; this shows the parting too:
Nor can he hear of evil word or deed,
But they to thought, and thought to sufferings

lead.
Such was his life--no other changes came,
The hurrying day, the conscious night the same;
The night of horror--when he starting cried
To the poor startled sinner at his side,
'Is it in law? am I condemned to die?
Let me escape!--I'll give--oh! let me fly -
How! but a dream!--no judges! dungeon! chain!
Or these grim men!--I will not sleep again -
Wilt thou, dread being! thus thy promise keep?
Day is thy time--and wilt thou murder sleep?
Sorrow and want repose, and wilt thou come,
Nor give one hour of pure untroubled gloom?
'Oh! Conscience! Conscience! man's most faithful

friend,
Him canst thou comfort, ease, relieve, defend;
But if he will thy friendly checks forego,
Thou art, oh? woe for me, his deadliest foe?'

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A Map Of Culture

Culture


Contents

What is Culture?

The Importance of Culture

Culture Varies

Culture is Critical

The Sociobiology Debate

Values, Norms, and Social Control

Signs and Symbols

Language

Terms and Definitions

Approaches to the Study of Culture

Are We Prisoners of Our Culture?



What is Culture?


I prefer the definition used by Ian Robertson: 'all the shared products of society: material and nonmaterial' (Our text defines it in somewhat more ponderous terms- 'The totality of learned, socially transmitted behavior. It includes ideas, values, and customs (as well as the sailboats, comic books, and birth control devices) of groups of people' (p.32) .

Back to Contents


The Importance of Culture


The concepts, culture and society are closely related. Culture is defined as all the products of society- material and nonmaterial; Society consists of interacting people living in the same territory who share a common culture. We really can't have one without the other (unless you want to call archaeological remains and historical records 'culture') . People in society create culture; culture shapes the way people interact and understand the world around them.

Culture determines what we know- the sum of all the angles in a triangle; what a screw driver is used for; how to use a computer to find out where Peloponnesians are...

Culture also determines what we don't know- how to catch a fish by hand; how to build a dugout canoe and navigate the South Seas without chart or compass.

Culture determines what we want to be- lawyer; dairy farmer; computer programmer; doctor; shaman; pearl diver



Culture Varies


It varies with the physical setting or geography: (A good example here is music. Think of all the differences in music that are related to geography. We're a mixed society in the United States, but think of the regional origins of much of our our music: Clogging in Tennessee; Cajun music (Zydeko) in Louisiana; City music vs. Country/Western Music, etc.)

It also varies with time: Have you ever tried to read Beowulf; Shakespeare; work a slide rule; drive a buggy; understand Victorian morality and ethics? I asked my young daughter if she wanted to go to a record store. 'What's a record? ', she asked. (Her generation has been exposed only to tapes and CDs) .

Think of culture as a stream flowing down through the centuries from one generation to another. Each generation contributes something to this stream, but in each generation something is left behind, some sediment drops to the bottom and is lost to society, (Bierstedt) . Examples of things lost to society the art of stained glass window making, violin making (The greatest violins ever produced by man were made in Cremona, Northern Italy in the mid 16th century) . (Science 84 5: 2 pp 3643) .

Culture is Critical to the Survival of Human Race


Because of the nature of the animal that we are. Unlike most animals that are specially adapted to the environment in which they live, we lack special physical characteristics such as long fangs, sharp teeth, claws, fur, feathers, or scales; or even physiological behavior patterns such as hibernation, to enable us to survive in a hostile environment. But, like the higher primates, (which we are one type of) , we share a number of important characteristics:

Characteristics of all primates:

Sociable: (Primates are gregarious and like to be in groups)
Smart: (large brain/body weight ratio) Humans' brains are most complex.
Sensitive hands: (All primates have an opposing thumb) .
Sound: (Primates are extremely vocal) .
Stand: (All primates can assume an erect posture which frees the hands):

Biological characteristics possessed by humans, alone:

Sex and Mating: (Year around mating- Unlike other primates, we lack a special breeding season. This, has important implications for gender roles) .
Schooling: (The young have a long period of dependence on adults. This also has implications for gender roles) .
Symbolic Speech: (Although there are numerous examples of chimpanzees being taught to use symbols to communicate, humans alone have developed a highly complex system of symbolic speech) .
Locomotion: (Humans alone, walk erect) .

Humans possess a highly developed, complex brain, which allows us to communicate symbolically, to learn quickly, and to innovate. We lack instincts (or if they do exist they are not readily apparent) . It is our culture that enables us to survive as a species. Culture provides answers to such basic problems as finding shelter, food, and clothing. Culture provides guidance for our every day lives; social organization which keeps us from tearing each other apart.

Every generation has to learn from scratch the culture of its society or it will perish. All the basic institutions of society that we discussed earlier; the economy, education, religion, recreation, politics represent needs that society must meet. Ways of meeting these needs are handed down from one generation to the next. They represent our culture. What we lack in physical attributes and strength, we make up for in our ability to communicate and learn culture from one generation to the next.

This, in my opinion, is precisely why Sociology is so important. It's humankind's almost total reliance upon socially transmitted patterns of behavior that enable it to survive. Society and culture are the subject matter of Sociology.


The Sociobiology Debate

There is a school of thought, Sociobiology, which sees much of human behavior as being instinctual. Sociologists generally hold that culture evolved (or developed) due to the influence of values (ideas) or due to changes in the material base of society (technology fire, the wheel, the computer) . They usually argue that biology (genetic programming) has a limited role. Sociobiologists, claim that human culture and social behavior derive from a process of natural selection and genetic transmission. Our genes predispose us to certain patterns of behavior unique from other animals. Sociobiologists support their argument by citing a number of 'cultural universals' found in all societies. They say that this is evidence of the influence of genetic factors. Examples have been drawn from the work of anthropologist, George Murdock (1945) who argued that all societies demonstrated some form of the following:

athletic sports

laws

bodily adornment

medicine

cooking (meal preparation)

incest taboos

cooperative labor

music

courtship

myths

dancing

num erals

dream analysis

personal names

family feasting

property rights

folk law

sexual restrictions

funeral ceremonies

religion

food taboos

toilet training

games

tool making

gift giving

weather making

Sociobiologists argue that human behavior ultimately is derived from our biology rather than learning. According to Murdock, all societies have incest taboos. Why? One biological argument would be that in-breeding can produce genetic defects, or that it may reinforce undesirable traits (such as hemophilia or mental instability) . Incest taboos force a group to broaden its gene pool which reduces the probability of passing along 'dysfunctional' traits. One could apply this argument to the Catholic Church: By forbidding priests and nuns to marry, it forced the recruitment of individuals from outside the church to keep the gene pool fresh. (This would prevent the formation of 'religious royal families' and the decline of the faith when a feeble minded monarch emerged) .

But there are problems with this argument. Referring to incest: Why is incest defined differently from one society to another? The range of variation is tremendous! Some societies have allowed marriage between brothers and sisters. Others forbid it between relatives closer than first cousins. Still others have restrictions going out even further; requiring individuals to marry outside the tribe. If there is a genetic basis for the incest taboo, why is there so much variation? Another point is that just as 'dysfunctional traits' can be reinforced through inbreeding; so can 'desirable' characteristics. (Dog breeders and horse breeders do this very thing) .

If everything were programmed genetically, we would expect to see little variation across societies in the way people handled the affairs of their everyday lives. But there are tremendous differences in...

the sports that we play and the way we play them
the families that we form and the ways we form them
the various ways in which we court our spouses
the friends we make and the way we make them
the tools we make and how we use them
the languages we invent and the way we speak them
the food we eat and how we eat it
the religions we form and how we practice them
the laws and customs we make and how we observe them.

The key point is that this behavior is learned. Humans can change culture without changing genes. Biology sets the stage by giving us unique capabilities that distinguish us from other species; culture determines how we use those unique capabilities.


Values, Norms, and Social Control

Values are socially shared ideas about what is 'right' and 'wrong; ' 'good' and 'bad' in society. Values are general ideas- broad and abstract. They vary from one society to another and one way to study society is to examine the values held by its members. Values are important because it is from them that we derive the norms or rules that govern our everyday lives. Values help guide conduct in unfamiliar situations and may lead to the formation of specific norms. Generally speaking, we tend to hold on to our values and are unlikely to compromise them. American values have been intensively studied by numerous scholars:

American values (Robin Williams) :

achievement and success

freedom

activity and work

conformity

humanitarianism

science/technology

progress

nationalism/patriotism

material comfort

democracy

efficiency/p racticality

individualism

equality

racial/ethnic superiority

American values (Talcott Parsons) :

instrumental activism

maximization of opportunity for individuals and sub collectives

progress

pragmatic acceptance of authority

economic production

objection to pretensions of generalized superiority of status

technology and science

Individuals as well as entire societies may experience value conflict. A great example of value conflict at the individual level is provided by the 1941 movie, 'Sergeant York, ' (starring Gary Cooper) . The movie tells the story of Alvin Cullum York, regarded as one of the outstanding heroes of World War I, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for killing 20 enemy soldiers and capturing over 100 prisoners. At first, York was a conscientious objector who held deep religions convictions against killing. The value conflict in this case involved the Sixth Commandment's prohibition against killing and what he felt were his duties as a patriotic American- to answer his country's call. Cooper, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sgt. York, did a wonderful job showing how individuals 'freeze up' and are unable to do anything until they resolve these kinds of internal value conflicts.

One very powerful example of a value conflict at the societal level is the current debate over abortion. Values are not readily compromised and it is often impossible to find 'common ground' in these kinds of disputes. The debate over slavery and states' rights in the 1850s is an example of a value conflict that was eventually resolved through war- the bloodiest war in this nation's history. The deplorable state of affairs we are now observing in what was formerly Yugoslavia, is essentially another value conflict.


Norms are derived from a society's overall values. Values determine norms. Remember, norms are classified into several types.

Folkways (weak norms customs, etiquette; three meals a day, wearing shoes to class, tipping after a meal, taking same seat in class)
Mores (strong norms considered vital to our well-being, values, morals; cheating on spouse, child abuse and murder)
Laws (Norms established and punished by the state with punishments fixed in advance: written or encoded mores, folkways, and taboos; from traffic laws to laws against rape and murder) .
Taboos (Very strong norms whose violation is considered loathsome and disgusting)

Social Control is the means by which society ensures that its members follow approved norms. Norms are supported by sanctions- positive and negative; formal and informal; which are used to bring people into line.

Informal:
Positive (informal) sanction: give child a candy bar for behaving
Negative (informal) sanction: give a child a stern look for talking in church
Formal:
Positive (formal) sanction: combat soldier gets Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism
Negative (formal) sanction: person gets speeding ticket for doing 56 mph in a 55 mph zone

Back to Contents

Signs and Symbols

There is an important difference between signs and symbols that you should know. Symbols set man apart from animals. Animals use signs.

Signs are representational: There is a direct connection between the sign and the reality it refers to. The meaning is clear and unambiguous. Sort of like stimulus and response. There is no need to interpret meanings.

Smoke indicates that fire is present (or will soon be present)
The family dog scratches the door to the back yard- It wants to go outside. It gets its bowl- It wants food. (The bowl is directly related to food) . It lays down belly-up- It displays submission.

Symbols are interpretative:

A symbol is an object, gesture, sound, color, or design which stands for something other than itself. We humans give meaning to these things. Examples- wedding band; leather jacket; sports car; the length and color of a person's hair; (punk rockers; T.V. ministries where people are neatly dressed; flag burnings) . Symbols may have multiple meanings. Example- the cross on a church steeple; a burning cross; a red cross on the side of an ambulance. (A smile can take on many different meanings) . Symbols can change meaning over time. Example- 'V' sign was once obscene. It stood for victory in World War II. During the Vietnam War it meant peace. Symbols are capable of stirring up deep emotions. In the debate over abortion, individuals don't classify themselves as 'pro' or 'anti' abortion. Rather, they use the terms 'pro-choice', or 'pro-life'- 'choice' and 'life' are two important values in U.S. society. People often disagree over whether or not a symbol is appropriate for a given place or circumstance. Several years ago, there was much debate over whether or not McDonalds' 'golden arches, ' an internationally recognized symbol in its own right, should be displayed so prominently over the VCU Student Commons' entrances. Eventually, the arches were taken down.


Language

Most people feel that language is unique to human beings. Other species use signs with genetically fixed meanings and can learn to respond to specified stimuli- (Pavlov's dogs salivating at the ring of a bell) - but only humans can be said to have language. Language consists primarily of verbal and written symbols with rules for putting them together. (Language also consists of the nonverbal expressions which accompany speech in face-to-face interaction. Raising an eyebrow or winking an eye often relays more meaning than a hundred words. We can therefore modify our definition to include 'verbal, visual, and written symbols and their associated rules for putting them together.'

Is language really unique to humans? There are a number of very interesting studies that suggest that certain animals have a highly developed capacity for language. Click on the links, below for some serious and scholarly references on animal communication.

§ Birds

§ Chimpanzees

§ Gorillas

This next site has some interesting material on

§ Dolphins and Whales



Language is truly the 'keystone to culture' for without it, we could not pass on the collective experience of society and the lessons it teaches for survival. It is the primary way that we pass on our culture from one generation to the next. It enables us to store meanings so we don't have to relearn everything with each generation.
Language allows us to create worlds we've never seen and develop new ideas to explain the world around us. A good example is atomic theory. Before the advent of the scanning electron microscope men had predicted the existence of atoms and molecules using the symbols of language. Language also allows us to develop new ideas to apply to the future.
George Orwell realized the importance of language in his epic work,1984. Why did the rulers of Oceania develop 'Newspeak'? They wanted to restrict the creative ability of humankind so they wouldn't have the concepts of freedom, free enterprise, individuality. 'The purpose of newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the worldview and mental habits proper to devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.' (Orwell, p.246)

The SapirWhorf Hypothesis states that language not only reproduces our ideas, but it also shapes the way we think. It orders our reality. It may prevent people from being aware of things in the environment and focuses our attention on certain things. Examples:

Sexist language shapes our thinking about women. Coaches who ridiculed male players when they weren't playing well by calling them ladies? Language that treats women as objects; 'chick, fox, babe, hot cakes, skirts, etc. will tend to make us think of women as objects, not people.
Racist language, ethnic language; Micks, Spicks, Whops, Pollocks, Degos, Ollies, etc. tend to lower our image of people.
Color: The human eye can discern thousands of different shades of color, yet in our society we identify only 6 to 8 particular ones. A tribe in New Guinea breaks colors into categories of 'warm' and 'cold' (so much for the science of spectroscopy in that society) !
The Eskimos have many different words for snow. Unless we ski a lot, most of us use one- 'snow.'
Christian missionaries in Hawaii were shocked to find no word or concept for sin.
In (North) American society, we tend to treat physical objects as if they had wills of their own. If a pen rolls off a table, we'll say 'It fell off.' or 'It rolled off the table and fell on the floor.' The Russian culture works differently. Their response would be something like 'They did it.' or 'They caused it to fall on the floor.'

Are we slaves to our language? The language we speak predisposes us to see the world in certain ways, but language is extremely flexible. As we find ourselves lacking words to describe new ideas, machines, processes, and technologies, we coin new terms and phrases. 'Black holes, ' 'Quarks, ' and even 'Supply side economics, ' are all creations of the mind and examples showing where language has lagged behind conceptual ideas in the mind.


Terms and Definitions


Related terms and definitions:

Cultural universals: These imply practices common to every culture. We've already discussed the Anthropologist, George Murdock's proposed list of general traits found in every culture. It seems that there are a large number of very general traits common to all cultures, but no specific ones like what, exactly, defines murder, incest, etc. in a society?
Ethnocentrism: This is the tendency to judge other cultures by the standards of our own. ('Body Ritual Among the Nacirema') .
Cultural relativism: The recognition that one culture cannot be arbitrarily judged by the standards of another. We need to adopt this stance when studying other cultures.
Cultural Integration: Culture is not a random assemblage of skills, customs, values, and beliefs. These elements are woven into a definite pattern and are somehow related to one another.
Cultural Diversity: Common culture gives us a sense of identity but there is a great deal of variation among groups. We witness cultural diversity on both the international and national levels. We've already talked about regional differences when we compared the North with the South in the United States.
Subcultures: Within a culture there may exist groups of people who have their own distinct sets of values, customs, and lifestyles. (Italian Americans, African Americans, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, the young, the middle-aged, the old, etc.) . We can even say that there is a subculture of college life.
Countercultures: a counterculture that is fundamentally at odds with the dominant culture. (The youth movement of the 1960's, for example) .
Real and Ideal culture: Ideal culture is what the values say we believe in, what we should practice, while real culture is what actually exists. Often there is a discrepancy between the two resulting in cultural strain.

Approaches to the Study of Culture

There are several approaches to the study of culture. Here are two examples:

Functionalism looks at the roles that components of culture play in maintaining the social order as a whole. What are the consequences for a society if we remove or change one element of its culture? (i.e. in America, the computer) . The problem with this approach is that it tends to overlook change when stressing the functional relationships between variables. It also has a pejorative or negative view of unbalance in the system, even when such unbalance may mean social improvement.

.

The Ecological approach examines the culture of a given society in relation to the total environment in which it exists. For example, why do people in India let sacred cows roam the streets by the millions (100 million) when so many people are hungry? One reason is that cows are needed to produce the oxen which Indian farmers must have to plow the fields. Without them, even more people will starve. Also, the cows produce over 700 million tons of manure each year. Half of it is used for fertilizer; the other half is used for fuel. When the cows die, they are eaten by the untouchables or outcasts who are the hungriest people in the population. The cows' hides are used in the leather industry.



Are we prisoners of our Culture?

No. Culture does make humans what they are, but humans also make culture. We constantly make changes to our culture. It guides us through life, but we also change and modify it to our needs and desires. If we could not do this, everything would be the same from generation to generation just like the bees and termites. It's hard for 2. Processes of cultural change: Cultural change is usually slow and deliberate. When changes occur in one cultural element (the economy) changes can be expected elsewhere (politics) . Things generally tend to be linked together.

There are three mechanisms by which cultural change occurs:

Discovery the perception or recognition of something that already exists- fire, the New World.
Invention combining old knowledge to produce something that did not exist before, the compass, for example.
Diffusion the spread of cultural elements from one culture to another. i.e. gun powder from China to the West. Most cultural change occurs in this manner- (Linton's 'One hundred Percent American' article) .

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Book First [Introduction-Childhood and School Time]

OH there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.
What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale
Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove
Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream
Shall with its murmur lull me into rest?
The earth is all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again!
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind
Come fast upon me: it is shaken off,
That burthen of my own unnatural self,
The heavy weight of many a weary day
Not mine, and such as were not made for me.
Long months of peace (if such bold word accord
With any promises of human life),
Long months of ease and undisturbed delight
Are mine in prospect; whither shall I turn,
By road or pathway, or through trackless field,
Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing
Upon the river point me out my course?

Dear Liberty! Yet what would it avail
But for a gift that consecrates the joy?
For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven
Was blowing on my body, felt within
A correspondent breeze, that gently moved
With quickening virtue, but is now become
A tempest, a redundant energy,
Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both,
And their congenial powers, that, while they join
In breaking up a long-continued frost,
Bring with them vernal promises, the hope
Of active days urged on by flying hours,--
Days of sweet leisure, taxed with patient thought
Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high,
Matins and vespers of harmonious verse!

Thus far, O Friend! did I, not used to make
A present joy the matter of a song,
Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains
That would not be forgotten, and are here
Recorded: to the open fields I told
A prophecy: poetic numbers came
Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe
A renovated spirit singled out,
Such hope was mine, for holy services.
My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's
Internal echo of the imperfect sound;
To both I listened, drawing from them both
A cheerful confidence in things to come.

Content and not unwilling now to give
A respite to this passion, I paced on
With brisk and eager steps; and came, at length,
To a green shady place, where down I sate
Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice
And settling into gentler happiness.
'Twas autumn, and a clear and placid day,
With warmth, as much as needed, from a sun
Two hours declined towards the west; a day
With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass,
And in the sheltered and the sheltering grove
A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts
Encouraged and dismissed, till choice was made
Of a known Vale, whither my feet should turn,
Nor rest till they had reached the very door
Of the one cottage which methought I saw.
No picture of mere memory ever looked
So fair; and while upon the fancied scene
I gazed with growing love, a higher power
Than Fancy gave assurance of some work
Of glory there forthwith to be begun,
Perhaps too there performed. Thus long I mused,
Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon,
Save when, amid the stately grove of oaks,
Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup
Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once
To the bare earth dropped with a startling sound.
From that soft couch I rose not, till the sun
Had almost touched the horizon; casting then
A backward glance upon the curling cloud
Of city smoke, by distance ruralised;
Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive,
But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took,
Even with the chance equipment of that hour,
The road that pointed toward the chosen Vale.
It was a splendid evening, and my soul
Once more made trial of her strength, nor lacked
Aeolian visitations; but the harp
Was soon defrauded, and the banded host
Of harmony dispersed in straggling sounds,
And lastly utter silence! 'Be it so;
Why think of anything but present good?'
So, like a home-bound labourer, I pursued
My way beneath the mellowing sun, that shed
Mild influence; nor left in me one wish
Again to bend the Sabbath of that time
To a servile yoke. What need of many words?
A pleasant loitering journey, through three days
Continued, brought me to my hermitage.
I spare to tell of what ensued, the life
In common things--the endless store of things,
Rare, or at least so seeming, every day
Found all about me in one neighbourhood--
The self-congratulation, and, from morn
To night, unbroken cheerfulness serene.
But speedily an earnest longing rose
To brace myself to some determined aim,
Reading or thinking; either to lay up
New stores, or rescue from decay the old
By timely interference: and therewith
Came hopes still higher, that with outward life
I might endue some airy phantasies
That had been floating loose about for years,
And to such beings temperately deal forth
The many feelings that oppressed my heart.
That hope hath been discouraged; welcome light
Dawns from the east, but dawns to disappear
And mock me with a sky that ripens not
Into a steady morning: if my mind,
Remembering the bold promise of the past,
Would gladly grapple with some noble theme,
Vain is her wish; where'er she turns she finds
Impediments from day to day renewed.

And now it would content me to yield up
Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts
Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend!
The Poet, gentle creature as he is,
Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times;
His fits when he is neither sick nor well,
Though no distress be near him but his own
Unmanageable thoughts: his mind, best pleased
While she as duteous as the mother dove
Sits brooding, lives not always to that end,
But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on
That drive her as in trouble through the groves;
With me is now such passion, to be blamed
No otherwise than as it lasts too long.

When, as becomes a man who would prepare
For such an arduous work, I through myself
Make rigorous inquisition, the report
Is often cheering; for I neither seem
To lack that first great gift, the vital soul,
Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort
Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers,
Subordinate helpers of the living mind:
Nor am I naked of external things,
Forms, images, nor numerous other aids
Of less regard, though won perhaps with toil
And needful to build up a Poet's praise.
Time, place, and manners do I seek, and these
Are found in plenteous store, but nowhere such
As may be singled out with steady choice;
No little band of yet remembered names
Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope
To summon back from lonesome banishment,
And make them dwellers in the hearts of men
Now living, or to live in future years.
Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking
Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea,
Will settle on some British theme, some old
Romantic tale by Milton left unsung;
More often turning to some gentle place
Within the groves of Chivalry, I pipe
To shepherd swains, or seated harp in hand,
Amid reposing knights by a river side
Or fountain, listen to the grave reports
Of dire enchantments faced and overcome
By the strong mind, and tales of warlike feats,
Where spear encountered spear, and sword with sword
Fought, as if conscious of the blazonry
That the shield bore, so glorious was the strife;
Whence inspiration for a song that winds
Through ever-changing scenes of votive quest
Wrongs to redress, harmonious tribute paid
To patient courage and unblemished truth,
To firm devotion, zeal unquenchable,
And Christian meekness hallowing faithful loves.
Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate
How vanquished Mithridates northward passed,
And, hidden in the cloud of years, became
Odin, the Father of a race by whom
Perished the Roman Empire: how the friends
And followers of Sertorius, out of Spain
Flying, found shelter in the Fortunate Isles,
And left their usages, their arts and laws,
To disappear by a slow gradual death,
To dwindle and to perish one by one,
Starved in those narrow bounds: but not the soul
Of Liberty, which fifteen hundred years
Survived, and, when the European came
With skill and power that might not be withstood,
Did, like a pestilence, maintain its hold
And wasted down by glorious death that race
Of natural heroes: or I would record
How, in tyrannic times, some high-souled man,
Unnamed among the chronicles of kings,
Suffered in silence for Truth's sake: or tell,
How that one Frenchman, through continued force
Of meditation on the inhuman deeds
Of those who conquered first the Indian Isles,
Went single in his ministry across
The Ocean; not to comfort the oppressed,
But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about
Withering the Oppressor: how Gustavus sought
Help at his need in Dalecarlia's mines:
How Wallace fought for Scotland; left the name
Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower,
All over his dear Country; left the deeds
Of Wallace, like a family of Ghosts,
To people the steep rocks and river banks,
Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul
Of independence and stern liberty.
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts;
Some variegated story, in the main
Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts
Before the very sun that brightens it,
Mist into air dissolving! Then a wish,
My last and favourite aspiration, mounts
With yearning toward some philosophic song
Of Truth that cherishes our daily life;
With meditations passionate from deep
Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse
Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre;
But from this awful burthen I full soon
Take refuge and beguile myself with trust
That mellower years will bring a riper mind
And clearer insight. Thus my days are past
In contradiction; with no skill to part
Vague longing, haply bred by want of power,
From paramount impulse not to be withstood,
A timorous capacity, from prudence,
From circumspection, infinite delay.
Humility and modest awe, themselves
Betray me, serving often for a cloak
To a more subtle selfishness; that now
Locks every function up in blank reserve,
Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye
That with intrusive restlessness beats off
Simplicity and self-presented truth.
Ah! better far than this, to stray about
Voluptuously through fields and rural walks,
And ask no record of the hours, resigned
To vacant musing, unreproved neglect
Of all things, and deliberate holiday.
Far better never to have heard the name
Of zeal and just ambition, than to live
Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour
Turns recreant to her task; takes heart again,
Then feels immediately some hollow thought
Hang like an interdict upon her hopes.
This is my lot; for either still I find
Some imperfection in the chosen theme,
Or see of absolute accomplishment
Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself,
That I recoil and droop, and seek repose
In listlessness from vain perplexity,
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave,
Like a false steward who hath much received
And renders nothing back.
Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved
To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song,
And, from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flowed along my dreams? For this, didst thou,
O Derwent! winding among grassy holms
Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,
Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts
To more than infant softness, giving me
Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind
A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.

When he had left the mountains and received
On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers
That yet survive, a shattered monument
Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed
Along the margin of our terrace walk;
A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved.
Oh, many a time have I, a five years' child,
In a small mill-race severed from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer's day;
Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again
Alternate, all a summer's day, or scoured
The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves
Of yellow ragwort; or, when rock and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height,
Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport
A naked savage, in the thunder shower.

Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear:
Much favoured in my birth-place, and no less
In that beloved Vale to which erelong
We were transplanted;--there were we let loose
For sports of wider range. Ere I had told
Ten birth-days, when among the mountain slopes
Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped
The last autumnal crocus, 'twas my joy
With store of springes o'er my shoulder hung
To range the open heights where woodcocks run
Along the smooth green turf. Through half the night,
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied
That anxious visitation;--moon and stars
Were shining o'er my head. I was alone,
And seemed to be a trouble to the peace
That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befell
In these night wanderings, that a strong desire
O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird
Which was the captive of another's toil
Became my prey; and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

Nor less, when spring had warmed the cultured Vale,
Moved we as plunderers where the mother-bird
Had in high places built her lodge; though mean
Our object and inglorious, yet the end
Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung
Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass
And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock
But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed)
Suspended by the blast that blew amain,
Shouldering the naked crag, oh, at that time
While on the perilous ridge I hung alone,
With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind
Blow through my ear! the sky seemed not a sky
Of earth--and with what motion moved the clouds!

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society. How strange, that all
The terrors, pains, and early miseries,
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused
Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part,
And that a needful part, in making up
The calm existence that is mine when I
Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end!
Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ;
Whether her fearless visitings, or those
That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light
Opening the peaceful clouds; or she would use
Severer interventions, ministry
More palpable, as best might suit her aim.

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cave, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my bark,--
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought
That givest to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion, not in vain
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things--
With life and nature--purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me
With stinted kindness. In November days,
When vapours rolling down the valley made
A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods,
At noon and 'mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine;
Mine was it in the fields both day and night,
And by the waters, all the summer long.

And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom,
I heeded not their summons: happy time
It was indeed for all of us--for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six,--I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel,
We hissed along the polished ice in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase
And woodland pleasures,--the resounding horn,
The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle; with the din
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while far distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars
Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.
Not seldom from the uproar I retired
Into a silent bay, or sportively
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
To cut across the reflex of a star
That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed
Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes,
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me--even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round!
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep.

Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills!
And Souls of lonely places! can I think
A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed
Such ministry, when ye, through many a year
Haunting me thus among my boyish sports,
On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills,
Impressed, upon all forms, the characters
Of danger or desire; and thus did make
The surface of the universal earth,
With triumph and delight, with hope and fear,
Work like a sea?
Not uselessly employed,
Might I pursue this theme through every change
Of exercise and play, to which the year
Did summon us in his delightful round.

We were a noisy crew; the sun in heaven
Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours;
Nor saw a band in happiness and joy
Richer, or worthier of the ground they trod.
I could record with no reluctant voice
The woods of autumn, and their hazel bowers
With milk-white clusters hung; the rod and line,
True symbol of hope's foolishness, whose strong
And unreproved enchantment led us on
By rocks and pools shut out from every star,
All the green summer, to forlorn cascades
Among the windings hid of mountain brooks.
--Unfading recollections! at this hour
The heart is almost mine with which I felt,
From some hill-top on sunny afternoons,
The paper kite high among fleecy clouds
Pull at her rein like an impetuous courser;
Or, from the meadows sent on gusty days,
Beheld her breast the wind, then suddenly
Dashed headlong, and rejected by the storm.

Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt,
A ministration of your own was yours;
Can I forget you, being as you were
So beautiful among the pleasant fields
In which ye stood? or can I here forget
The plain and seemly countenance with which
Ye dealt out your plain comforts? Yet had ye
Delights and exultations of your own.
Eager and never weary we pursued
Our home-amusements by the warm peat-fire
At evening, when with pencil, and smooth slate
In square divisions parcelled out and all
With crosses and with cyphers scribbled o'er,
We schemed and puzzled, head opposed to head
In strife too humble to be named in verse:
Or round the naked table, snow-white deal,
Cherry or maple, sate in close array,
And to the combat, Loo or Whist, led on
A thick-ribbed army; not, as in the world,
Neglected and ungratefully thrown by
Even for the very service they had wrought,
But husbanded through many a long campaign.
Uncouth assemblage was it, where no few
Had changed their functions: some, plebeian cards
Which Fate, beyond the promise of their birth,
Had dignified, and called to represent
The persons of departed potentates.
Oh, with what echoes on the board they fell!
Ironic diamonds,--clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades,
A congregation piteously akin!
Cheap matter offered they to boyish wit,
Those sooty knaves, precipitated down
With scoffs and taunts, like Vulcan out of heaven:
The paramount ace, a moon in her eclipse,
Queens gleaming through their splendour's last decay,
And monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained
By royal visages. Meanwhile abroad
Incessant rain was falling, or the frost
Raged bitterly, with keen and silent tooth;
And, interrupting oft that eager game,
From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice
The pent-up air, struggling to free itself,
Gave out to meadow grounds and hills a loud
Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves
Howling in troops along the Bothnic Main.

Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace
How Nature by extrinsic passion first
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,
And made me love them, may I here omit
How other pleasures have been mine, and joys
Of subtler origin; how I have felt,
Not seldom even in that tempestuous time,
Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense
Which seem, in their simplicity, to own
An intellectual charm; that calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union between life and joy.

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth,
And twice five summers on my mind had stamped
The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain
Of waters coloured by impending clouds.

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade,
And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills
Sent welcome notice of the rising moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these
A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense
Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league
Of shining water, gathering as it seemed,
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light,
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits
Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood
And is forgotten; even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true,
By chance collisions and quaint accidents
(Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed
Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain
Nor profitless, if haply they impressed
Collateral objects and appearances,
Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep
Until maturer seasons called them forth
To impregnate and to elevate the mind.
--And if the vulgar joy by its own weight
Wearied itself out of the memory,
The scenes which were a witness of that joy
Remained in their substantial lineaments
Depicted on the brain, and to the eye
Were visible, a daily sight; and thus
By the impressive discipline of fear,
By pleasure and repeated happiness,
So frequently repeated, and by force
Of obscure feelings representative
Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright,
So beautiful, so majestic in themselves,
Though yet the day was distant, did become
Habitually dear, and all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.
I began
My story early--not misled, I trust,
By an infirmity of love for days
Disowned by memory--ere the breath of spring
Planting my snowdrops among winter snows:
Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend! so prompt
In sympathy, that I have lengthened out
With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale.
Meanwhile, my hope has been, that I might fetch
Invigorating thoughts from former years;
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature
To honourable toil. Yet should these hopes
Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught
To understand myself, nor thou to know
With better knowledge how the heart was framed
Of him thou lovest; need I dread from thee
Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit
Those recollected hours that have the charm
Of visionary things, those lovely forms
And sweet sensations that throw back our life,
And almost make remotest infancy
A visible scene, on which the sun is shining?

One end at least hath been attained; my mind
Hath been revived, and if this genial mood
Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down
Through later years the story of my life.
The road lies plain before me;--'tis a theme
Single and of determined bounds; and hence
I choose it rather at this time, than work
Of ampler or more varied argument,
Where I might be discomfited and lost:
And certain hopes are with me, that to thee
This labour will be welcome, honoured Friend!

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Thespis: Act I

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

GODS

Jupiter, Aged Diety
Apollo, Aged Diety
Mars, Aged Diety
Diana, Aged Diety
Mercury

THESPIANS

Thespis
Sillimon
TimidonTipseion
Preposteros
Stupidas
Sparkeio n
Nicemis
Pretteia
Daphne
Cymon

ACT I - Ruined Temple on the Summit of Mount Olympus


[Scene--The ruins of the The Temple of the Gods, on summit of
Mount Olympus. Picturesque shattered columns, overgrown with
ivy, etc. R. and L. with entrances to temple (ruined) R. Fallen
columns on the stage. Three broken pillars 2 R.E. At the back of
stage is the approach from the summit of the mountain. This
should be "practicable" to enable large numbers of people to
ascend and descend. In the distance are the summits of adjacent
mountains. At first all this is concealed by a thick fog, which
clears presently. Enter (through fog) Chorus of Stars coming off
duty as fatigued with their night's work]

CHO. Through the night, the constellations,
Have given light from various stations.
When midnight gloom falls on all nations,
We will resume our occupations.

SOLO. Our light, it's true, is not worth mention;
What can we do to gain attention.
When night and noon with vulgar glaring
A great big moon is always flaring.

[During chorus, enter Diana, an elderly goddess. She is carefully
wrapped up in cloaks, shawls, etc. A hood is over her head, a
respirator in her mouth, and galoshes on her feet. During the
chorus, she takes these things off and discovers herself dressed
in the usual costume of the Lunar Diana, the goddess of the moon.

DIA. [shuddering] Ugh. How cold the nights are. I don't know how
it is, but I seem to feel the night air a good deal more than I
used to. But it is time for the sun to be rising. [Calls] Apollo.

AP. [within] Hollo.

DIA. I've come off duty--it's time for you to be getting up.

[Enter Apollo. He is an elderly "buck" with an air of assumed
juvenility and is dressed in dressing gown and smoking cap.

AP. [yawning] I shan't go out today. I was out yesterday and the
day before and I want a little rest. I don't know how it is,but I
seem to feel my work a great deal more than I used to.

DIA. I am sure these short days can't hurt you. Why you don't
rise til six and you're in bed again by five; you should have a
turn at my work and see how you like that--out all night.

AP. My dear sister, I don't envy you--though I remember when I
did--but that was when I was a younger sun. I don't think I'm
quite well. Perhaps a little change of air will do me good. I've
a mind to show myself in London this winter. They'll be very glad
to see me. No. I shan't go out today. I shall send them this
fine, thick wholesome fog and they won't miss me. It's the best
substitute for a blazing sun--and like most substitutes, nothing
at all like the real thing.

[Fog clears away and discovers the scene described. Hurried
music. Mercury shoots up from behind precipice at the back of
stage. He carries several parcels afterwards described. He sits
down, very much fatigued.]

MER. Home at last. A nice time I've had of it.

DIA. You young scamp you've been out all night again. This is the
third time you've been out this week.

MER. Well you're a nice one to blow me up for that.

DIA. I can't help being out all night.

MER. And I can't help being down all night. The nature of Mercury
requires that he should go down when the sun sets, and rise again
when the sun rises.

DIA. And what have you been doing?

MER. Stealing on commission. There's a set of false teeth and a
box of Life Pills for Jupiter--an invisible peruke and a bottle
of hair dye--that's for Apollo--a respirator and a pair of
galoshes--that's for Cupid--a full bottomed chignon, some
auricomous fluid, a box of pearl-powder, a pot of rouge, and a
hare's foot--that's for Venus.

DIA. Stealing. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

MER. Oh, as the god of thieves I must do something to justify my
position.

DIA.and AP. [contemptuously] Your position.

MER. Oh, I know it's nothing to boast of even on earth. Up here,
it's simply contemptible. Now that you gods are too old for your
work, you've made me the miserable drudge of Olympus--groom,
valet, postman, butler, commissionaire, maid of all work, parish
beadle, and original dustman.

AP. Your Christmas boxes ought to be something considerable.

MER. They ought to be but they're not. I'm treated abominably.
I make everybody and I'm nobody. I go everywhere and I'm
nowhere. I do everything and I'm nothing. I've made thunder for
Jupiter, odes for Apollo, battles for Mars, and love for Venus.
I've married couples for Humen and six weeks afterwards, I've
divorced them for Cupid, and in return I get all the kicks while
they pocket the halfpence. And in compensation for robbing me of
the halfpence in question, what have they done for me.

AP. Why they've--ha.ha.ha. they've made you the god of thieves.

MER. Very self denying of them. There isn't one of them who
hasn't a better claim to the distinction than I have.

Oh, I'm the celestial drudge,
For morning to night I must stop at it.
On errands all day I must trudge,
And stick to my work til I drop at it.
In summer I get up at one.
(As a good-natured donkey I'm ranked for it.)
then I go and I light up the sun.
And Phoebus Apollo gets thanked for it.
Well, well, it's the way of the world.
And will be through all its futurity.
Though noodles are baroned and earled,
There's nothing for clever obscurity.

I'm the slave of the Gods, neck and heels,
And I'm bound to obey, though I rate at 'em.
And I not only order their meals,
But I cook 'em and serve'em and wait at 'em.
Then I make all their nectar, I do.
(What a terrible liquor to rack us is.)
And whenever I mix them a brew,
Why all the thanksgivings are Bacchus's.
Well, well, it's the way of the world, etc.....

The reading and writing I teach.
And spelling-books many I've edited.
And for bringing those arts within reach,
That donkey Minerva gets credited.
Then I scrape at the stars with a knife,
And plate-powder the moon (on the days for it).
And I hear all the world and his wife
Awarding Diana the praise for it.
Well, well, it's the way of the world, etc....

[After song--very loud and majestic music is heard]

DIA and MER [looking off] Why, who's this? Jupiter, by Jove.

[Enter Jupiter, an extremely old man, very decrepit, with very
thin straggling white beard, he wears a long braided dressing
gown, handsomely trimmed, and a silk night-cap on his head.
Mercury falls back respectfully as he enters.]

JUP. Good day, Diana. Ah, Apollo. Well, well, well, what's the
matter? What's the matter?

DIA. Why that young scamp Mercury says that we do nothing, and
leave all the duties of Olympus to him. Will you believe it, he
actually says that our influence on earth is dropping down to
nil.

JUP. Well, well. Don't be hard on the lad. To tell you the
truth, I'm not sure that he's far wrong. Don't let it go any
further, but, between ourselves, the sacrifices and votive
offerings have fallen off terribly of late. Why, I can remember
the time when people offered us human sacrifices, no mistake
about it, human sacrifices. Think of that.

DIA. Ah. Those good old days.

JUP. Then it fell off to oxen, pigs, and sheep.

AP. Well, there are worse things than oxen, pigs and sheep.

JUP. So I've found to my cost. My dear sir, between ourselves,
it's dropped off from one thing to another until it has
positively dwindled down to preserved Australian beef. What do
you think of that?

AP. I don't like it at all.

JUP. You won't mention it. It might go further.

DIA. It couldn't fare worse.

JUP. In short, matters have come to such a crisis that there's no
mistake about it--something must be done to restore our
influence, the only question is, what?

MER. [Coming forward in great alarm. Enter Mars]
Oh incident unprecedented.
I hardly can believe it's true.

MARS. Why, bless the boy, he's quite demented.
Why, what's the matter, sir, with you?

AP. Speak quickly, or you'll get a warming.

MER. Why, mortals up the mount are swarming
Our temple on Olympus storming,
In hundreds--aye in thousands, too.

ALL. Goodness gracious
How audacious
Earth is spacious
Why come here?
Our impeding
Their proceeding
Were good breeding
That is clear.

DIA. Jupiter, hear my plea.
Upon the mount if they light.
There'll be an end of me.
I won't be seen by daylight.

AP. Tartarus is the place
These scoundrels you should send to--
Should they behold my face.
My influence there's an end to.

JUP. [looking over precipice]
What fools to give themselves
so much exertion

DIA. A government survey I'll make assertion.

AP. Perhaps the Alpine clubs their diversion.

MER. They seem to be more like a "Cook's" excursion.

ALL. Goodness gracious, etc.

AP. If, mighty Jove, you value your existence,
Send them a thunderbolt with your regards.

JUP. My thunderbolts, though valid at a distance,
Are not effective at a hundred yards.

MER. Let the moon's rays, Diana, strike 'em flighty,
Make 'em all lunatics in various styles.

DIA. My lunar rays unhappily are mighty
Only at many hundred thousand miles.

ALL. Goodness gracious, etc...

[Exeunt Jupiter, Apollo, Diana, and Mercury into ruined temple]

[Enter Sparkeion and Nicemis climbing mountain at back.]

SPAR. Here we are at last on the very summit, and we've left the
others ever so far behind. Why, what's this?

NICE. A ruined palace. A palace on the top of a mountain. I
wonder who lives here? Some mighty kind, I dare say, with wealth
beyond all counting who came to live up here--

SPAR. To avoid his creditors. It's a lovely situation for a
country house though it's very much out of repair.

NICE. Very inconvenient situation.

SPAR. Inconvenient.

NICE. Yes, how are you to get butter, milk, and eggs up here? No
pigs, no poultry, no postman. Why, I should go mad.

SPAR. What a dear little practical mind it is. What a wife you
will make.

NICE. Don't be too sure--we are only partly married--the marriage
ceremony lasts all day.

SPAR. I have no doubt at all about it. We shall be as happy as a
king and queen, though we are only a strolling actor and actress.

NICE. It's very nice of Thespis to celebrate our marriage day by
giving the company a picnic on this lovely mountain.

SPAR. And still more kind to allow us to get so much ahead of all
the others. Discreet Thespis. [kissing her]

NICE,. There now, get away, do. Remember the marriage ceremony
is not yet completed.

SPAR. But it would be ungrateful to Thespis's discretion not to
take advantage of it by improving the opportunity.

NICE. Certainly not; get away.

SPAR. On second thought the opportunity's so good it don't admit
of improvement. There. [kisses her]

NICE. How dare you kiss me before we are quite married?

SPAR. Attribute it to the intoxicating influence of the mountain
air.

NICE. Then we had better do down again. It is not right to
expose ourselves to influences over which we have no control.

SPAR. Here far away from all the world,
Dissension and derision,
With Nature's wonders all unfurled
To our delighted vision,
With no one here
(At least in sight)
To interfere
With our delight,
And two fond lovers sever,
Oh do not free,
Thine hand from mine,
I swear to thee
My love is ever thine
For ever and for ever.

NICE. On mountain top the air is keen,
And most exhilarating,
And we say things we do not mean
In moments less elating.
So please to wait
For thoughts that crop,
En tete-a-tete,
On mountain top,
May not exactly tally
With those that you
May entertain,
Returning to
The sober plain
Of yon relaxing valley

SPAR. Very well--if you won't have anything to say to me, I know
who will.

NICE. Who will?

SPAR. Daphne will.

NICE. Daphne would flirt with anybody.

SPAR. Anybody would flirt with Daphne. She is quite as pretty as
you and has twice as much back-hair.

NICE. She has twice as much money, which may account for it.

SPAR. At all events, she has appreciation. She likes good looks.

NICE. We all like what we haven;t got.

SPAR. She keeps her eyes open.

NICE. Yes--one of them.

SPAR. Which one.

NICE. The one she doesn't wink with.

SPAR. Well, I was engaged to her for six months and if she still
makes eyes at me, you must attribute it to force of habit.
Besides--remember--we are only half-married at present.

NICE. I suppose you mean that you are going to treat me as
shamefully as you treated her. Very well, break it off if you
like. I shall not offer any objection. Thespis used to be very
attentive to me. I'd just as soon be a manager's wife as a fifth-
rate actor's.

[Chorus heard, at first below, then enter Daphne, Pretteia,
Preposteros, Stupidas, Tipseion, Cymon, and other members of
Thespis's company climbing over rocks at back. All carry small
baskets.]

CHO. [with dance] Climbing over rocky mountain
Skipping rivulet and fountain,
Passing where the willows quiver
By the ever rolling river,
Swollen with the summer rain.
Threading long and leafy mazes,
Dotted with unnumbered daisies,
Scaling rough and rugged passes,
Climb the hearty lads and lasses,
Til the mountain-top they gain.

FIRST VOICE. Fill the cup and tread the measure
Make the most of fleeting leisure.
Hail it as a true ally
Though it perish bye and bye.

SECOND VOICE. Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure,
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly.

THIRD VOICE. Far away from grief and care,
High up in the mountain air,
Let us live and reign alone,
In a world that's all our own.

FOURTH VOICE. Here enthroned in the sky,
Far away from mortal eye,
We'll be gods and make decrees,
Those may honor them who please.

CHO. Fill the cup and tread the measure...etc.

[After Chorus and Couples enter, Thespis climbing over rocks]

THES. Bless you, my people, bless you. Let the revels commence.
After all, for thorough, unconstrained unconventional enjoyment
give me a picnic.

PREP. [very gloomily] Give him a picnic, somebody.

THES. Be quiet, Preposteros. Don't interrupt.

PREP. Ha. Ha. Shut up again. But no matter.

[Stupidas endeavors, in pantomime, to reconcile him. Throughout
the scene Prep shows symptoms of breaking out into a furious
passion, and Stupidas does all he can to pacify and restrain
him.]

THES. The best of a picnic is that everybody contributes what he
pleases, and nobody knows what anybody else has brought til the
last moment. Now, unpack everybody and let's see what there is
for everybody.

NICE. I have brought you--a bottle of soda water--for the claret-
cup.

DAPH. I have brought you--lettuce for the lobster salad.

SPAR. A piece of ice--for the claret-cup.

PRETT. A bottle of vinegar--for the lobster salad.

CYMON. A bunch of burrage for the claret-cup.

TIPS. A hard boiled egg--for the lobster salad.

STUP. One lump of sugar for the claret-cup.

PREP. He has brought one lump of sugar for the claret-cup? Ha.
Ha. Ha. [laughing melodramatically]

STUP. Well, Preposteros, what have you brought?

PREP. I have brought two lumps of the very best salt for the
lobster salad.

THES. Oh--is that all?

PREP. All. Ha. Ha. He asks if it is all. {Stup. consoles him]

THES. But, I say--this is capital so far as it goes. Nothing
could be better, but it doesn't go far enough. The claret, for
instance. I don't insist on claret--or a lobster--I don't insist
on lobster, but a lobster salad without a lobster, why it isn't
lobster salad. Here, Tipseion.

TIP. [a very drunken, bloated fellow, dressed, however, with
scrupulous accuracy and wearing a large medal around his neck] My
master. [Falls on his knees to Thes. and kisses his robe.]

THES. Get up--don't be a fool. Where's the claret? We arranged
last week that you were to see to that.

TIPS. True, dear master. But then I was a drunkard.

THES. You were.

TIPS. You engaged me to play convivial parts on the strength of
my personal appearance.

THES. I did.

TIPS. Then you found that my habits interfered with my duties as
low comedian.

THES. True.

TIPS. You said yesterday that unless I took the pledge you would
dismiss me from your company.

THES. Quite so.

TIPS. Good. I have taken it. It is all I have taken since
yesterday. My preserver. [embraces him]

THES. Yes, but where's the wine?

TIPS. I left it behind that I might not be tempted to violate my
pledge.

PREP. Minion. [Attempts to get at him, is restrained by Stupidas]

THES. Now, Preposteros, what is the matter with you?

PREP. It is enough that I am down-trodden in my profession. I
will not submit to imposition out of it. It is enough that as
your heavy villain I get the worst of it every night in a combat
of six. I will not submit to insult in the day time. I have come
out. Ha. Ha. to enjoy myself.

THES. But look here, you know--virtue only triumphs at night from
seven to ten--vice gets the best of it during the other twenty
one hours. Won't that satisfy you? [Stupidas endeavours to
pacify him.]

PREP. [Irritated to Stupidas] Ye are odious to my sight. Get out
of it.

STUP. [In great terror] What have I done?

THES. Now what is it. Preposteros, what is it?

PREP. I a -- hate him and would have his life.

THES. [to Stup.] That's it--he hates you and would have your
life. Now go and be merry.

STUP. Yes, but why does he hate me?

THES. Oh--exactly. [to Prep.] Why do you hate him?

PREP. Because he is a minion.

THES. He hates you because you are a minion. It explains itself.
Now go and enjoy yourselves. Ha. Ha. It is well for those who can
laugh--let them do so--there is no extra charge. The light-
hearted cup and the convivial jest for them--but for me--what is
there for me?

SILLI. There is some claret-cup and lobster salad [handing some]

THES. [taking it] Thank you. [Resuming] What is there for me but
anxiety--ceaseless gnawing anxiety that tears at my very vitals
and rends my peace of mind asunder? There is nothing whatever
for me but anxiety of the nature I have just described. The
charge of these thoughtless revellers is my unhappy lot. It is
not a small charge, and it is rightly termed a lot because there
are many. Oh why did the gods make me a manager?

SILL. [as guessing a riddle] Why did the gods make him a manager?

SPAR. Why did the gods make him a manager.

DAPH. Why did the gods make him a manager?

PRETT. Why did the gods make him a manager?

THES. No--no--what are you talking about? What do you mean?

DAPH. I've got it--no don't tell us.

ALL. No--no--because--because

THES. [annoyed] It isn't a conundrum. It's misanthropical
question.

DAPH. [Who is sitting with Spar. to the annoyance of Nice. who is
crying alone] I'm sure I don't know. We do not want you. Don't
distress yourself on our account--we are getting on very
comfortably--aren't we Sparkeion.

SPAR. We are so happy that we don't miss the lobster or the
claret. What are lobster and claret compared with the society of
those we love? [embracing Daphne.]

DAPH. Why, Nicemis, love, you are eating nothing. Aren't you
happy dear?

NICE. [spitefully] You are quite welcome to my share of
everything. I intend to console myself with the society of my
manager. [takes Thespis' arm affectionately].

THES. Here I say--this won't do, you know--I can't allow it--at
least before my company--besides, you are half-married to
Sparkeion. Sparkeion, here's your half-wife impairing my
influence before my company. Don't you know the story of the
gentleman who undermined his influence by associating with his
inferiors?

ALL. Yes, yes--we know it.

PREP. [formally] I do not know it. It's ever thus. Doomed to
disappointment from my earliest years. [Stup. endeavours to
console him]

THES. There--that's enough. Preposteros--you shall hear it.

I once knew a chap who discharged a function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
He was conspicuous exceeding,
For his affable ways, and his easy breeding.
Although a chairman of directions,
He was hand in glove with the ticket inspectors.
He tipped the guards with brand new fivers,
And sang little songs to the engine drivers.
'Twas told to me with great compunction,
By one who had discharged with unction
A chairman of directors function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
Fol diddle, lol diddle, lol lol lay.

Each Christmas day he gave each stoker
A silver shovel and a golden poker.
He'd button holw flowers for the ticket sorters
And rich Bath-buns for the outside porters.
He'd moun the clerks on his first-class hunters,
And he build little villas for the road-side shunters,
And if any were fond of pigeon shooting,
He'd ask them down to his place at Tooting.
Twas told to me....etc.

In course of time there spread a rumour
That he did all this from a sense of humour.
So instead of signalling and stoking,
They gave themselves up to a course of joking.
Whenever they knew that he was riding,
They shunted his train on a lonely siding,
Or stopped all night in the middle of a tunnel,
On the plea that the boiler was a-coming through the funnel.
Twas told to me...etc.

It he wished to go to Perth or Stirling,
His train through several counties whirling,
Would set him down in a fit of larking,
At four a.m. in the wilds of Barking.
This pleased his whim and seemed to strike it,
But the general public did not like it.
The receipts fell, after a few repeatings,
And he got it hot at the annual meetings.
Twas told to me...etc.

He followed out his whim with vigour,
The shares went down to a nominal figure.
These are the sad results proceeding
From his affable ways and his easy breeding.
The line, with its rais and guards and peelers,
Was sold for a song to marine store dealers
The shareholders are all in the work'us,
And he sells pipe-lights in the Regent Circus.
Twas told to me...etc.

It's very hard. As a man I am naturally of an easy disposition.
As a manager, I am compelled to hold myself aloof, that my
influence may not be deteriorated. As a man I am inclined to
fraternize with the pauper--as a manager I am compelled to walk
around like this: Don't know yah. Don't know yah. Don't know yah.

[Strides haughtily about the stage. Jupiter, Mars, and Apollo, in
full Olympian costume appear on the three broken columns.
Thespians scream.]

JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.

THES. Don't know ya. Don't know yah.

JUP, MARS, AP. [seated on broken pillars] Presumptuous mortal.

THES. I do not know you. I do not know you.

JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.

THES. Remove this person.

[Stup and Prep seize Ap and Mars]

JUP. Stop, you evidently don't know me. Allow me to offer you my
card. [Throws flash paper]

THES. Ah yes, it's very pretty, but we don't want any at present.
When we do our Christmas piece, I'll let you know. [Changing his
manner] Look here, you know this is a private party and we
haven't the pleasure of your acquaintance. There are a good many
other mountains about, if you must have a mountain all to
yourself. Don't make me let myself down before my company.
[Resuming] Don't know yah, Don't know yah.

JUP. I am Jupiter, the king of the gods. This is Apollo. This is
Mars. [All kneel to them except Thespis]

THES. Oh. Then as I'm a respectable man, and rather particular
about the company I keep, I think I'll go.

JUP. No--no--stop a bit. We want to consult you on a matter of
great importance. There. Now we are alone. Who are you?

THES. I am Thespis of the Thessalian Theatres.

JUP. The very man we want. Now as a judge of what the public
likes are you impressed with my appearance as father of the gods?

THES. Well to be candid with you, I am not. In fact I'm
disappointed.

JUP. Disappointed?

THES. Yes, you see you're so much out of repair. No, you don't
come up to my idea of the part. Bless you, I've played you often.

JUP. You have.

THES. To be sure I have.

JUP. And how have you dressed the part.

THES. Fine commanding party in the prime of life. Thunderbolt--
full beard--dignified manner--a good eal of this sort of thin
"Don't know ya. Don't know yah. Don't know yah.

JUP. [much affected] I--I'm very much obliged to you. It's very
good of you. I--I--I used to be like that. I can't tell you how
much I feel it. And do you find I'm an impressive character to
play?

THES. Well no, I can't say you are. In fact we don't you you
much out of burlesque.

JUP. Burlesque!

THES. Yes, it's a painful subject, drop it, drop it. The fact
is, you are not the gods you were--you're behind your age.

JUP. Well, but what are we to do? We feel that we ought to do
something, but we don't know what.

THES. Why don't you all go down to earth, incog, mingle with the
world, hear and see what people think of you, and judge for
yourselves as to the best means to take to restore your
influence?

JUP. Ah, but what's to become of Olympus in the meantime?

THES. Lor' bless you, don't distress yourself about that. I've a
very good company, used to take long parts on the shortest
notice. Invest us with your powers and we'll fill your places
till you return.

JUP. [aside] The offer is tempting. But suppose you fail?

THES. Fail. Oh, we never fail in our profession. We've nothing
but great successes.

JUP. Then it's a bargain.

THES. It's a bargain. [they shake hands on it]

JUP. And that you may not be entirely without assistance, we will
leave you Mercury and whenever you find yourself in a difficulty
you can consult him. [enter Mercury]

JUP. So that's arranged--you take my place, my boy,
While we make trial of a new existence.
At length I will be able to enjoy
The pleasures I have envied from a distance.

MER. Compelled upon Olympus here to stop,
While the other gods go down to play the hero.
Don't be surprised if on this mountain top
You find your Mercury is down at zero.

AP. To earth away to join in mortal acts.
And gather fresh materials to write on.
Investigate more closely, several facts,
That I for centuries have thrown some light on.

DIA. I, as the modest moon with crescent bow.
Have always shown a light to nightly scandal,
I must say I'd like to go below,
And find out if the game is worth the candle.

[enter all thespians, summoned by Mercury]

MER. Here come your people.

THES. People better now.

THES. While mighty Jove goes down below
With all the other deities.
I fill his place and wear his "clo,"
The very part for me it is.
To mother earth to make a track,
They are all spurred and booted, too.
And you will fill, till they come back,
The parts you best are suited to.

CHO. Here's a pretty tale for future Iliads and Odysseys
Mortals are about to personate the gods and goddesses.
Now to set the world in order, we will work in unity.
Jupiter's perplexity is Thespis's opportunity.

SPAR. Phoebus am I, with golden ray,
The god of day, the god of day.
When shadowy night has held her sway,
I make the goddesses fly.
Tis mine the task to wake the world,
In slumber curled, in slumber curled.
By me her charms are all unfurled
The god of day am I.

CHO. The god of day, the god of day,
The park shall our Sparkeion play,
Ha Ha, etc.
The rarest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha ha etc.

NICE. I am the moon, the lamp of night.
I show a light -- I show a light.
With radiant sheen I put to flight
The shadows of the sky.
By my fair rays, as you're aware,
Gay lovers swear--gay lovers swear,
While greybeards sleep away their care,
The lamp of night am I.

CHO. The lamp of night-the lamp of night.
Nicemis plays, to her delight.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share,
Ha Ha Ha Ha

TIM. Mighty old Mars, the god of war,
I'm destined for--I'm destined for.
A terribly famous conqueror,
With sword upon his thigh.
When armies meet with eager shout
And warlike rout, and warlike rout,
You'll find me there without a doubt.
The God of War am I.

CHO. The god of war, the god of war
Great Timidon is destined for.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha Ha Ha Ha

DAPH. When, as the fruit of warlike deeds,
The soldier bleed, the soldier bleeds,
Calliope crowns heroic deeds,
With immortality.
From mere oblivion I reclaim
The soldier's name, the soldier's name
And write it on the roll of fame,
The muse of fame am I.

CHO. The muse of fame, the muse of fame.
Callipe is Daphne's name.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.

TUTTI. Here's a pretty tale.

[Enter procession of old Gods, they come down very much
astonished at all they see, then passing by, ascent the platform
that leads to the descent at the back.]

GODS. We will go,
Down below,
Revels rare,
We will share.
Ha Ha Ha
With a gay
Holiday
All unknown,
And alone
Ha Ha Ha.

TUTTI. Here's a pretty tale.

[The gods, including those who have lately entered in procession
group themselves on rising ground at back. The Thespians kneeling
bid them farewell.]

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