A weak man has doubts before a decision, a strong man has them afterwards.
Mother Nature Has Them On Trial
Their entire value systems,
Are based on gold!
Yet they have undermined the people,
Where this resource is in abundance.
And have murdered those most deserving.
Just to keep themselves nourished,
With a thirst to deceive.
Like they have bled and devalued,
Their own existence with greed...
Now Mother Nature has them on trial!
And they can not perceive this...
Or conceive it to believe!
Whatever It Is That Has Them Possessed
Your children exemplify,
Some of the most atrocious behavior...
We have ever witnessed.
They are disobedient, obnoxious...
Rude and disrespectful.
And they have no regard for others. Period!
What are you saying?
My children do not possess leadership qualities? '
That may be true.
Whatever it is that has them possessed,
We are requesting you take them elsewhere...
To allow that possession an outlet to thrive.
But here, their behavior is not condoned.
And here is the brick your son threw through my window.
I signed and dated it for you as a reminder.
The Poor Of The Borough. Letter XXI: Abel Keene
A QUIET, simple man was Abel Keene,
He meant no harm, nor did he often mean;
He kept a school of loud rebellious boys,
And growing old, grew nervous with the noise;
When a kind merchant hired his useful pen,
And made him happiest of accompting men;
With glee he rose to every easy day,
When half the labour brought him twice the pay.
There were young clerks, and there the
Choice spirits all, who wish'd him to be one;
It must, no question, give them lively joy,
Hopes long indulged to combat and destroy;
At these they levelled all their skill and
He fell not quickly, but he fell at length:
They quoted books, to him both bold and new,
And scorn'd as fables all he held as true;
'Such monkish stories, and such nursery lies,'
That he was struck with terror and surprise.
'What! all his life had he the laws obey'd,
Which they broke through and were not once afraid?
Had he so long his evil passions check'd,
And yet at last had nothing to expect?
While they their lives in joy and pleasure led,
And then had nothing at the end to dread?
Was all his priest with so much zeal convey'd
A part! a speech! for which the man was paid!
And were his pious books, his solemn prayers,
Not worth one tale of the admir'd Voltaire's?
Then was it time, while yet some years remain'd,
To drink untroubled and to think unchain'd,
And on all pleasues, which his purse could give,
Freely to seize, and while he lived, to live.'
Much time he pass'd in this important strife,
The bliss or bane of his remaining life;
For converts all are made with care and grief,
And pangs attend the birth of unbelief;
Nor pass they soon;--with awe and fear he took
The flowery way, and cast back many a look.
The youths applauded much his wise design,
With weighty reasoning o'er their evening wine;
And much in private 'twould their mirth improve,
To hear how Abel spake of life and love;
To hear him own what grievous pains it cost,
Ere the old saint was in the sinner lost,
Ere his poor mind, with every deed alarm'd,
By wit was settled, and by vice was charm'd.
For Abel enter'd in his bold career,
Like boys on ice, with pleasure and with fear;
Lingering, yet longing for the joy, he went,
Repenting now, now dreading to repent:
With awkward pace, and with himself at war,
Far gone, yet frighten'd that he went so far;
Oft for his efforts he'd solicit praise,
And then proceed with blunders and delays:
The young more aptly passions' calls pursue,
But age and weakness start at scenes so new,
And tremble, when they've done, for all they dared
At length example Abel's dread removed,
With small concern he sought the joys he loved;
Not resting here, he claim'd his share of fame,
And first their votary, then their wit became;
His jest was bitter and his satire bold,
When he his tales of formal brethren told;
What time with pious neighbours he discuss'd,
Their boasted treasure and their boundless trust:
'Such were our dreams,' the jovial elder cried;
'Awake and live,' his youthful friends replied.
Now the gay clerk a modest drab despised,
And clad him smartly, as his friends advised;
So fine a coat upon his back he threw,
That not an alley-boy old Abel knew;
Broad polish'd buttons blazed that coat upon,
And just beneath the watch's trinkets shone, -
A splendid watch, that pointed out the time,
To fly from business and make free with crime:
The crimson waistcoat and the silken hose
Rank'd the lean man among the Borough beaux:
His raven hair he cropp'd with fierce disdain,
And light elastic locks encased his brain:
More pliant pupil who could hope to find,
Se deck'd in person and so changed in mind?
When Abel walked the streets, with pleasent mien
He met his friends, delighted to be seen;
And when he rode along the public way,
No beau so gaudy, and no youth so gay.
His pious sister, now an ancient maid,
For Abel fearing, first in secret pray'd;
Then thus in love and scorn her notions she
'Alas! my brother! can I see thee pace
Hoodwink'd to hell, and not lament thy case,
Nor stretch my feeble hand to stop thy headlong
Lo! thou art bound; a slave in Satan's chain;
The righteous Abel turn'd the wretched Cain;
His brother's blood against the murderer cried,
Against thee thine, unhappy suicide!
Are all our pious nights and peaceful days,
Our evening readings and our morning praise,
Our spirits' comfort in the trials sent,
Our hearts' rejoicings in the blessings lent,
All that o'er grief a cheering influence shed,
Are these for ever and for ever fled?
'When in the years gone by, the trying years,
When faith and hope had strife with wants and
Thy nerves have trembled till thou couldst not eat
(Dress'd by this hand) thy mess of simple meat;
When, grieved by fastings, gall'd by fates severe,
Slow pass'd the days of the successless year;
Still in these gloomy hours, my brother then
Had glorious views, unseen by prosperous men:
And when thy heart has felt its wish denied,
What gracious texts hast thou to grief applied;
Till thou hast enter'd in thine humble bed,
By lofty hopes and heavenly musings fed;
Then I have seen thy lively looks express
The spirit's comforts in the man's distress.
'Then didst thou cry, exulting, 'Yes, 'tis fit,
'Tis meet and right, my heart! that we submit:'
And wilt thou, Abel, thy new pleasures weigh
Against such triumphs?--Oh? repent and pray.
'What are thy pleasures?--with the gay to sit,
And thy poor brain torment for awkward wit;
All thy good thoughts (thou hat'st them) to
And give a wicked pleasure to the vain;
Thy long, lean frame by fashion to attire,
That lads may laugh and wantons may admire;
To raise the mirth of boys, and not to see,
Unhappy maniac! that they laugh at thee
'These boyish follies, which alone the boy
Can idly act, or gracefully enjoy,
Add new reproaches to thy fallen state,
And make men scorn what they would only hate.
'What pains, my brother, dost thou take to prove
A taste for follies which thou canst not love!
Why do thy stiffening limbs the steed bestride -
That lads may laugh to see thou canst not ride?
And why (I feel the crimson tinge my cheek)
Dost thou by night in Diamond-Alley sneak?
'Farewell! the parish will thy sister keep,
Where she in peace shall pray and sing and sleep,
Save when for thee she mourns, thou wicked,
When youth is fallen, there's hope the young may
But fallen age for ever hopeless lies;
Torn up by storms, and placed in earth once more,
The younger tree may sun and soil restore;
But when the old and sapless trunk lies low,
No care or soil can former life bestow;
Reserved for burning is the worthless tree -
And what, O Abel! is reserved for thee?'
These angry words our hero deeply felt,
Though hard his heart, and indisposed to melt!
To gain relief he took a glass the more,
And then went on as careless as before;
Thenceforth, uncheck'd, amusements he partook,
And (save his ledger) saw no decent book;
Him found the merchant punctual at his task,
And that performed, he'd nothing more to ask;
He cared not how old Abel play'd the fool,
No master he, beyond the hours of school:
Thus they proceeding, had their wine and joke,
Till merchant Dixon felt a warning stroke,
And, after struggling half a gloomy week,
Left his poor clerk another friend to seek.
Alas! the son, who led the saint astray,
Forgot the man whose follies made him gay;
He cared no more for Abel in his need,
Than Abel cared about his hackney steed:
He now, alas! had all his earnings spent,
And thus was left to languish and repent;
No school nor clerkship found he in the place,
Now lost to fortune, as before to grace.
For town-relief the grieving man applied,
And begg'd with tears what some with scorn denied;
Others look'd down upon the glowing vest,
And frowning, ask'd him at what price he dress'd?
Happy for him his country's laws are mild,
They must support him, though they still reviled;
Grieved, abject, scorn'd, insulted, and betray'd,
Of God unmindful, and of man afraid, -
No more he talk'd; 'twas pain, 'twas shame to
His heart was sinking, and his frame was weak.
His sister died with such serene delight,
He once again began to think her right;
Poor like himself, the happy spinster lay,
And sweet assurance bless'd her dying-day:
Poor like the spinster, he, when death was nigh,
Assured of nothing, felt afraid to die.
The cheerful clerks who sometimes pass'd the door,
Just mention'd 'Abel!' and then thought no more.
So Abel, pondering on his state forlorn,
Look'd round for comfort, and was chased by scorn.
And now we saw him on the beach reclined,
Or causeless walking in the wintry wind;
And when it raised a loud and angry sea,
He stood and gazed, in wretched reverie:
He heeded not the frost, the rain, the snow,
Close by the sea he walk'd alone and slow:
Sometimes his frame through many an hour he spread
Upon a tombstone, moveless as the dead;
And was there found a sad and silent place,
There would he creep with slow and measured pace;
Then would he wander by the river's side,
And fix his eyes upon the falling tide;
The deep dry ditch, the rushes in the fen,
And mossy crag-pits were his lodgings then:
There, to his discontented thought a prey,
The melancholy mortal pined away.
The neighb'ring poor at length began to speak
Of Abel's ramblings--he'd been gone a week;
They knew not where, and little care they took
For one so friendless and so poor to look.
At last a stranger, in a pedlar's shed,
Beheld him hanging--he had long been dead.
He left a paper, penn'd at sundry times,
Entitled thus--'My Groanings and my Crimes!'
'I was a Christian man, and none could lay
Aught to my charge; I walk'd the narrow way:
All then was simple faith, serene and pure,
My hope was stedfast and my prospects sure;
Then was I tried by want and sickness sore,
But these I clapp'd my shield of faith before,
And cares and wants and man's rebukes I bore:
Alas! new foes assail'd me; I was vain,
They stung my pride and they confused my brain:
Oh! these deluders! with what glee they saw
Their simple dupe transgress the righteous law;
'Twas joy to them to view that dreadful strife,
When faith and frailty warr'd for more than life;
So with their pleasures they beguiled the heart,
Then with their logic they allay'd the smart;
They proved (so thought I then) with reasons
That no man's feelings ever lead him wrong:
And thus I went, as on the varnish'd ice,
The smooth career of unbelief and vice.
Oft would the youths, with sprightly speech and
Their witty tales of naughty priests unfold;
'Twas all a craft,' they said, 'a cunning trade;
Not she the priests, but priests Religion made.'
So I believed:'--No, Abel! to thy grief:
So thou relinquish'dst all that was belief: -
'I grew as very flint, and when the rest
Laugh'd at devotion, I enjoy'd the jest;
But this all vanish'd like the morning-dew,
When unemploy'd, and poor again I grew;
Yea! I was doubly poor, for I was wicked too.
'The mouse that trespass'd and the treasure
Found his lean body fitted to the hole;
Till, having fatted, he was forced to stay,
And, fasting, starve his stolen bulk away:
Ah ! worse for me--grown poor, I yet remain
In sinful bonds, and pray and fast in vain.
'At length I thought, although these friends of
Have spread their net, and caught their prey
Though my hard heart could not for mercy call,
Because though great my grief, my faith was small;
Yet, as the sick on skilful men rely,
The soul diseased may to a doctor fly.
'A famous one there was, whose skill had wrought
Cures past belief, and him the sinners sought;
Numbers there were defiled by mire and filth,
Whom he recovered by his goodly tilth:
'Come then,' I said, 'let me the man behold,
And tell my case:'--I saw him and I told.
'With trembling voice, 'Oh! reverend sir,' I
'I once believed, and I was then misled;
And now such doubts my sinful soul beset,
I dare not say that I'm a Christian yet;
Canst thou, good sir, by thy superior skill,
Inform my judgment and direct my will?
Ah! give thy cordial; let my soul have rest,
And be the outward man alone distress'd;
For at my state I tremble.'--'Tremble more,'
Said the good man, 'and then rejoice therefore!
'Tis good to tremble; prospects then are fair,
When the lost soul is plunged in deep despair:
Once thou wert simply honest, just, and pure,
Whole, as thou thought'st, and never wish'd a cure:
Now thou hast plunged in folly, shame, disgrace,
Now thou'rt an object meet for healing grace;
No merit thine, no virtue, hope, belief,
Nothing hast thou, but misery, sin, and grief;
The best, the only titles to relief.'
'What must I do,' I said, 'my soul to free?' -
'Do nothing, man; it will be done for thee.'
'But must I not, my reverend guide, believe?' -
'If thou art call'd, thou wilt the faith receive.'
'But I repent not.'--Angry he replied,
'If thou art call'd, though needest nought beside:
Attend on us, and if 'tis Heaven's decree,
The call will come,--if not, ah! woe for thee.'
'There then I waited, ever on the watch,
A spark of hope, a ray of light to catch;
His words fell softly like the flakes of snow,
But I could never find my heart o'erflow:
He cried aloud, till in the flock began
The sigh, the tear, as caught from man to man;
They wept and they rejoiced, and there was I
Hard as a flint, and as the desert dry:
To me no tokens of the call would come,
I felt my sentence, and received my doom;
But I complain'd--'Let thy repinings cease,
Oh! man of sin, for they thy guilt increase;
It bloweth where it listeth;--die in peace.'
- In peace, and perish?' I replied; 'impart
Some better comfort to a burthen'd heart.'
'Alas!' the priest return'd, 'can I direct
The heavenly call?--Do I proclaim th' elect?
Raise not thy voice against th' Eternal will,
But take thy part with sinners, and be still.'
'Alas, for me! no more the times of peace
Are mine on earth--in death my pains may cease.
'Foes to my soul! ye young seducers, know
What serious ills from your amusements flow;
Opinions you with so much ease profess,
Overwhelm the simple and their minds oppress:
Let such be happy, nor with reasons strong,
That make them wretched, prove their notions wrong;
Let them proceed in that they deem the way,
Fast when they will, and at their pleasure pray:
Yes, I have pity for my brethren's lot,
And so had Dives, but it help'd him not:
And is it thus?--I'm full of doubts: --Adieu!
Perhaps his reverence is mistaken too.'
- quotes about poverty
- quotes about illness
- quotes about seduction
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about boys
- quotes about pain
- quotes about worry
- quotes about paying
- quotes about elders
Poor little diary, with its simple thoughts,
its good resolves, its "Studied French an hour,"
"Read Modern History," "Trimmed up my grey hat,"
"Darned stockings," "Tatted," "Practised my new song,"
"Went to the daily service," "Took Bess soup,"
"Went out to tea." Poor simple diary!
and did I write it? Was I this good girl,
this budding colourless young rose of home?
did I so live content in such a life,
seeing no larger scope, nor asking it,
than this small constant round -- old clothes to mend,
new clothes to make, then go and say my prayers,
or carry soup, or take a little walk
and pick the ragged-robins in the hedge?
Then for ambition, (was there ever life
that could forego that?) to improve my mind
and know French better and sing harder songs;
for gaiety, to go, in my best white
well washed and starched and freshened with new bows,
and take tea out to meet the clergyman.
No wishes and no cares, almost no hopes,
only the young girl's hazed and golden dreams
that veil the Future from her.
So long since:
and now it seems a jest to talk of me
as if I could be one with her, of me
who am ...... me.
And what is that? My looking-glass
answers it passably; a woman sure,
no fiend, no slimy thing out of the pools,
a woman with a ripe and smiling lip
that has no venom in its touch I think,
with a white brow on which there is no brand;
a woman none dare call not beautiful,
not womanly in every woman's grace.
Aye let me feed upon my beauty thus,
be glad in it like painters when they see
at last the face they dreamed but could not find
look from their canvass on them, triumph in it,
the dearest thing I have. Why, 'tis my all,
let me make much of it: is it not this,
this beauty, my own curse at once and tool
to snare men's souls -- (I know what the good say
of beauty in such creatures) -- is it not this
that makes me feel myself a woman still,
some little pride, some little --
Here's a jest!
what word will fit the sense but modesty?
A wanton I but modest!
I'm not drunk in the streets, ply not for hire
at infamous corners with my likenesses
of the humbler kind; yes, modesty's my word --
'twould shape my mouth well too, I think I'll try:
"Sir, Mr What-you-will, Lord Who-knows-what,
my present lover or my next to come,
value me at my worth, fill your purse full,
for I am modest; yes, and honour me
as though your schoolgirl sister or your wife
could let her skirts brush mine or talk of me;
for I am modest."
Well, I flout myself:
but yet, but yet --
Fie, poor fantastic fool,
why do I play the hypocrite alone,
who am no hypocrite with others by?
where should be my "But yet"? I am that thing
called half a dozen dainty names, and none
dainty enough to serve the turn and hide
the one coarse English worst that lurks beneath:
just that, no worse, no better.
And, for me,
I say let no one be above her trade;
I own my kindredship with any drab
who sells herself as I, although she crouch
in fetid garrets and I have a home
all velvet and marqueterie and pastilles,
although she hide her skeleton in rags
and I set fashions and wear cobweb lace:
the difference lies but in my choicer ware,
that I sell beauty and she ugliness;
our traffic's one -- I'm no sweet slaver-tongue
to gloze upon it and explain myself
a sort of fractious angel misconceived --
our traffic's one: I own it. And what then?
I know of worse that are called honourable.
Our lawyers, who, with noble eloquence
and virtuous outbursts, lie to hang a man,
or lie to save him, which way goes the fee:
our preachers, gloating on your future hell
for not believing what they doubt themselves:
our doctors, who sort poisons out by chance,
and wonder how they'll answer, and grow rich:
our journalists, whose business is to fib
and juggle truths and falsehoods to and fro:
our tradesmen, who must keep unspotted names
and cheat the least like stealing that they can:
our -- all of them, the virtuous worthy men
who feed on the world's follies, vices, wants,
and do their businesses of lies and shams
honestly, reputably, while the world
claps hands and cries "good luck," which of their trades,
their honourable trades, barefaced like mine,
all secrets brazened out, would shew more white?
And whom do I hurt more than they? as much?
The wives? Poor fools, what do I take from them
worth crying for or keeping? If they knew
what their fine husbands look like seen by eyes
that may perceive there are more men than one!
But, if they can, let them just take the pains
to keep them: 'tis not such a mighty task
to pin an idiot to your apron-string;
and wives have an advantage over us,
(the good and blind ones have), the smile or pout
leaves them no secret nausea at odd times.
Oh they could keep their husbands if they cared,
but 'tis an easier life to let them go,
and whimper at it for morality.
Oh! those shrill carping virtues, safely housed
from reach of even a smile that should put red
on a decorous cheek, who rail at us
with such a spiteful scorn and rancourousness,
(which maybe is half envy at the heart),
and boast themselves so measurelessly good
and us so measurelessly unlike them,
what is their wondrous merit that they stay
in comfortable homes whence not a soul
has ever thought of tempting them, and wear
no kisses but a husband's upon lips
there is no other man desires to kiss --
refrain in fact from sin impossible?
How dare they hate us so? what have they done,
what borne, to prove them other than we are?
What right have they to scorn us -- glass-case saints,
Dianas under lock and key -- what right
more than the well-fed helpless barn-door fowl
to scorn the larcenous wild-birds?
Pshaw, let be!
Scorn or no scorn, what matter for their scorn?
I have outfaced my own -- that's harder work.
Aye let their virtuous malice dribble on --
mock snowstorms on the stage -- I'm proof long since:
I have looked coolly on my what and why,
and I accept myself.
Oh I'll endorse
the shamefullest revilings mouthed at me,
cry "True! Oh perfect picture! Yes, that's I!"
and add a telling blackness here and there,
and then dare swear you, every nine of ten,
my judges and accusers, I'd not change
my conscience against yours, you who tread out
your devil's pilgrimage along the roads
that take in church and chapel, and arrange
a roundabout and decent way to hell.
Well, mine's a short way and a merry one:
so says my pious hash of ohs and ahs,
choice texts and choicer threats, appropriate names,
(Rahabs and Jezebels), some fierce Tartuffe
hurled at me through the post. We had rare fun
over that tract digested with champagne.
Where is it? where's my rich repertory
of insults biblical? 'I prey on souls' --
only my men have oftenest none I think:
'I snare the simple ones' -- but in these days
there seem to be none simple and none snared,
and most men have their favourite sinnings planned
to do them civilly and sensibly:
'I braid my hair' -- but braids are out of date:
'I paint my cheeks' -- I always wear them pale:
'I -- '
Pshaw! the trash is savourless to-day:
one cannot laugh alone. There, let it burn.
What, does the windy dullard think one needs
his wisdom dove-tailed on to Solomon's,
his threats out-threatening God's, to teach the news
that those who need not sin have safer souls?
We know it, but we've bodies to save too;
and so we earn our living.
Well lit, tract!
at least you've made me a good leaping blaze.
Up, up, how the flame shoots! and now 'tis dead.
Oh proper finish, preaching to the last --
no such bad omen either; sudden end,
and no sad withering horrible old age.
How one would clutch at youth to hold it tight!
and then to know it gone, to see it gone,
be taught its absence by harsh, careless looks,
to live forgotten, solitary, old --
the cruellest word that ever woman learns.
Old -- that's to be nothing, or to be at best
a blurred memorial that in better days
there was a woman once with such a name.
No, no, I could not bear it: death itself
shews kinder promise ...... even death itself,
since it must come one day --
Oh this grey gloom!
This rain, rain, rain, what wretched thoughts it brings!
Death: I'll not think of it.
Will no one come?
'Tis dreary work alone.
Why did I read
that silly diary? Now, sing song, ding dong,
come the old vexing echoes back again,
church bells and nursery good-books, back again
upon my shrinking ears that had forgotten --
I hate the useless memories: 'tis fools' work
singing the hacknied dirge of 'better days:'
best take Now kindly, give the past good-bye,
whether it were a better or a worse.
Yes, yes, I listened to the echoes once,
the echoes and the thoughts from the old days.
The worse for me: I lost my richest friend,
and that was all the difference. For the world
would not have that flight known. How they'd roar:
"What! Eulalie, when she refused us all,
'ill' and 'away,' was doing Magdalene,
tears, ashes, and her Bible, and then off
hide her in a Refuge ... for a week!"
A wild whim that, to fancy I could change
my new self for my old, because I wished!
since then, when in my languid days there comes
that craving, like homesickness, to go back
to the good days, the dear old stupid days,
to the quiet and the innocence, I know
'tis a sick fancy and try palliatives.
What is it? You go back to the old home,
and 'tis not your home, has no place for you,
and, if it had, you could not fit you in it.
And could I fit me to my former self?
If I had had the wit, like some of us,
to sow my wild-oats into three per cents,
could I not find me shelter in the peace
of some far nook where none of them would come,
nor whisper travel from this scurrilous world,
that gloats and moralizes through its leers,
to blast me with my fashionable shame?
There I might -- oh my castle in the clouds!
and where's its rent? -- but there, were there a there,
I might again live the grave blameless life
among such simple pleasures, simple cares:
but could they be my pleasures, be my cares?
The blameless life, but never the content --
never. How could I henceforth be content
in any life but one that sets the brain
in a hot merry fever with its stir?
what would there be in quiet rustic days,
each like the other, full of time to think,
to keep one bold enough to live at all?
Quiet is hell, I say -- as if a woman
could bear to sit alone, quiet all day,
and loathe herself, and sicken on her thoughts.
They tried it at the Refuge, and I failed:
I could not bear it. Dreary hideous room,
coarse pittance, prison rules, one might bear these
and keep one's purpose; but so much alone,
and then made faint and weak and fanciful
by change from pampering to half-famishing --
good God, what thoughts come! Only one week more
and 'twould have ended: but in one day more
I must have killed myself. And I loathe death,
the dreadful foul corruption, with who knows
what future after it.
Well, I came back,
Back to my slough. Who says I had my choice?
Could I stay there to die of some mad death?
and if I rambled out into the world,
sinless but penniless, what else were that
but slower death, slow pining shivering death
by misery and hunger? Choice! what choice
of living well or ill? could I have that?
and who would give it me? I think indeed
some kind hand, a woman's -- I hate men --
had stretched itself to help me to firm ground,
taken a chance and risked my falling back,
could have gone my way not falling back:
but, let her be all brave, all charitable,
how could she do it? Such a trifling boon,
little work to live by, 'tis not much,
and I might have found will enough to last:
but where's the work? More sempstresses than shirts;
and defter hands at white work than are mine
drop starved at last: dressmakers, milliners,
too many too they say; and then their trades
need skill, apprenticeship. And who so bold
as hire me for their humblest drudgery?
not even for scullery slut; not even, I think,
for governess, although they'd get me cheap.
And after all it would be something hard,
with the marts for decent women overfull,
if I could elbow in and snatch a chance
and oust some good girl so, who then perforce
must come and snatch her chance among our crowd.
Why, if the worthy men who think all's done
if we'll but come where we can hear them preach,
could bring us all, or any half of us,
into their fold, teach all us wandering sheep,
or only half of us, to stand in rows
and baa them hymns and moral songs, good lack,
what would they do with us? what could they do?
Just think! with were't but half of us on hand
to find work for ... or husbands. Would they try
to ship us to the colonies for wives?
Well, well; I know the wise ones talk and talk:
"Here's cause, here's cure:" "No, here it is and here:"
and find society to blame, or law,
the Church, the men, the women, too few schools,
too many schools, too much, too little taught:
somewhere or somehow someone is to blame:
but I say all the fault's with God himself
who puts too many women in the world.
We ought to die off reasonably and leave
as many as the men want, none to waste.
Here's cause; the woman's superfluity:
and for the cure, why, if it were the law,
say, every year, in due percentages,
balancing them with men as the times need,
to kill off female infants, 'twould make room;
and some of us would not have lost too much,
losing life ere we know what it can mean.
The other day I saw a woman weep
beside her dead child's bed: the little thing
lay smiling, and the mother wailed half mad,
shrieking to God to give it back again.
I could have laughed aloud: the little girl
living had but her mother's life to live;
there she lay smiling, and her mother wept
to know her gone!
My mother would have wept.
Oh mother, mother, did you ever dream,
you good grave simple mother, you pure soul
no evil could come nigh, did you once dream
in all your dying cares for your lone girl
left to fight out her fortune all alone
that there would be this danger? -- for your girl,
taught by you, lapped in a sweet ignorance,
scarcely more wise of what things sin could be
than some young child a summer six months old
where in the north the summer makes a day,
of what is darkness ... darkness that will come
to-morrow suddenly. Thank God at least
for this much of my life, that when you died,
that when you kissed me dying, not a thought
of this made sorrow for you, that I too
was pure of even fear.
Oh yes, I thought,
still new in my insipid treadmill life,
(my father so late dead), and hopeful still
here might be something pleasant somewhere in it,
some sudden fairy come, no doubt, to turn
any pumpkin to a chariot, I thought then
that I might plod, and plod, and drum the sounds
of useless facts into unwilling ears,
tease children with dull questions half the day,
then con dull answers in my room at night
ready for next day's questions, mend quill pens
and cut my fingers, add up sums done wrong
and never get them right; teach, teach, and teach --
what I half knew, or not at all -- teach, teach
for years, a lifetime -- I!
And yet, who knows?
it might have been, for I was patient once,
and willing, and meant well; it might have been
had I but still clung on in my first place --
a safe dull place, where mostly there were smiles
but never merry-makings; where all days
jogged on sedately busy, with no haste;
where all seemed measured out, but margins broad:
a dull home but a peaceful, where I felt
my pupils would be dear young sisters soon,
and felt their mother take me to her heart,
motherly to all lonely harmless things.
But I must have a conscience, must blurt out
my great discovery of my ignorance!
And who required it of me? And who gained?
What did it matter for a more or less
the girls learnt in their schoolbooks, to forget
in their first season? We did well together:
they loved me and I them: but I went off
to housemaid's pay, six crossgrained brats to teach,
wrangles and jangles, doubts, disgrace ... then this;
and they had a perfection found for them,
who has all ladies' learning in her head
abridged and scheduled, speaks five languages,
knows botany and conchology and globes,
draws, paints, plays, sings, embroiders, teaches all
on a patent method never known to fail:
and now they're finished and, I hear, poor things,
are the worst dancers and worst dressers out.
And where's their profit of those prison years
all gone to make them wise in lesson books?
who wants his wife to know weeds' Latin names?
who ever chose a girl for saying dates?
or asked if she had learned to trace a map?
Well, well, the silly rules this silly world
makes about women! This is one of them.
Why must there be pretence of teaching them
what no one ever cares that they should know,
what, grown out of the schoolroom, they cast off
like the schoolroom pinafore, no better fit
for any use of real grown-up life,
for any use to her who seeks or waits
the husband and the home, for any use,
for any shallowest pretence of use,
to her who has them? Do I not know this,
I like my betters, that a woman's life,
her natural life, her good life, her one life,
is in her husband, God on earth to her,
and what she knows and what she can and is
is only good as it brings good to him?
Oh God, do I not know it? I the thing
of shame and rottenness, the animal
that feed men's lusts and prey on them, I, I,
who should not dare to take the name of wife
on my polluted lips, who in the word
hear but my own reviling, I know that.
I could have lived by that rule, how content:
my pleasure to make him some pleasure, pride
to be as he would have me, duty, care,
to fit all to his taste, rule my small sphere
to his intention; then to lean on him,
be guided, tutored, loved -- no not that word,
that loved which between men and women means
all selfishness, all putrid talk, all lust,
all vanity, all idiocy -- not loved
but cared for. I've been loved myself, I think,
some once or twice since my poor mother died,
but cared for, never: -- that a word for homes,
kind homes, good homes, where simple children come
and ask their mother is this right or wrong,
because they know she's perfect, cannot err;
their father told them so, and he knows all,
being so wise and good and wonderful,
even enough to scold even her at times
and tell her everything she does not know.
Ah the sweet nursery logic!
Fool! thrice fool!
do I hanker after that too? Fancy me
infallible nursery saint, live code of law!
me preaching! teaching innocence to be good!
Yet the baby thing that woke
and wailed an hour or two, and then was dead,
was mine, and had he lived ...... why then my name
would have been mother. But 'twas well he died:
I could have been no mother, I, lost then
beyond his saving. Had he come before
and lived, come to me in the doubtful days
when shame and boldness had not grown one sense,
for his sake, with the courage come of him,
I might have struggled back.
But how? But how?
His father would not then have let me go:
his time had not yet come to make an end
of my 'for ever' with a hireling's fee
and civil light dismissal. None but him
to claim a bit of bread of if I went,
child or no child: would he have given it me?
He! no; he had not done with me. No help,
no help, no help. Some ways can be trodden back,
but never our way, we who one wild day
have given goodbye to what in our deep hearts
the lowest woman still holds best in life,
good name -- good name though given by the world
that mouths and garbles with its decent prate,
and wraps it in respectable grave shams,
and patches conscience partly by the rule
of what one's neighbour thinks but something more
by what his eyes are sharp enough to see.
How I could scorn it with its Pharisees,
if it could not scorn me: but yet, but yet --
oh God, if I could look it in the face!
Oh I am wild, am ill, I think, to night:
will no one come and laugh with me? No feast,
no merriment to-night. So long alone!
Will no one come?
At least there's a new dress
to try, and grumble at -- they never fit
to one's ideal. Yes, a new rich dress,
with lace like this too, that's a soothing balm
for any fretting woman, cannot fail,
I've heard men say it ... and they know so well
what's in all women's hearts, especially
women like me.
No help! no help! no help!
How could it be? It was too late long since --
even at the first too late. Whose blame is that?
there are some kindly people in the world,
but what can they do? If one hurls oneself
into a quicksand, what can be the end,
but that one sinks and sinks? Cry out for help?
Ah yes, and, if it came, who is so strong
to strain from the firm ground and lift one out?
And how, so firmly clutching the stretched hand,
as death's pursuing terror bids, even so,
how can one reach firm land, having to foot
the treacherous crumbling soil that slides and gives
and sucks one in again? Impossible path!
No, why waste struggles, I or any one?
what is must be. What then? I, where I am,
sinking and sinking; let the wise pass by
and keep their wisdom for an apter use,
let me sink merrily as I best may.
Only, I think, my brother -- I forgot
he stopped his brotherhood some years ago --
but if he had been just so much less good
as to remember mercy. Did he think
how once I was his sister, prizing him
as sisters do, content to learn for him
the lesson girls with brothers all must learn,
to do without?
I have heard girls lament
that doing so without all things one would,
but I saw never aught to murmur at,
for men must be made ready for their work,
and women all have more or less their chance
of husbands to work for them, keep them safe
like summer roses in soft greenhouse air
that never guess 'tis winter out of doors:
no, I saw never aught to murmur at,
content with stinted fare and shabby clothes
and cloistered silent life to save expense,
teaching myself out of my borrowed books,
while he for some one pastime, (needful true
to keep him of his rank, 'twas not his fault),
spent in a month what could have given me
my teachers for a year.
'Twas no one's fault:
for could he be launched forth on the rude sea
of this contentious world and left to find
oars and the boatman's skill by some good chance?
'Twas no one's fault: yet still he might have thought
of our so different youths, and owned at least
'tis pitiful when a mere nerveless girl,
untutored, must put forth upon that sea,
not in the woman's true place, the wife's place,
to trust a husband and be borne along,
but impotent blind pilot to herself.
Merciless, merciless -- like the prudent world
that will not have the flawed soul prank itself
with a hoped second virtue, will not have
the woman fallen once lift up herself ......
lest she should fall again. Oh how his taunts,
his loathing fierce reproaches, scarred and seared,
like branding iron hissing in a wound!
And it was true -- that killed me: and I felt
a hideous hopeless shame kill out my heart,
and knew myself for ever that he said,
that which I was -- Oh it was true, true, true.
No, not true then. I was not all that then.
Oh, I have drifted on before mad winds
6 and made ignoble shipwreck, not to-day
could any breeze of heaven prosper me
into the track again, nor any hand
snatch me out of the whirlpool I have reached;
Nay he judged very well: he knew
repentance was too dear a luxury
for a beggar's buying, knew it earns no bread --
and knew me a too base and nerveless thing
to bear my first fault's sequel and just die.
And how could he have helped me? Held my hand,
owned me for his, fronted the angry world
clothed with my ignominy? Or maybe
taken me to his home to damn him worse?
What did I look for? for what less would serve
that he could do, a man without a purse?
He meant me well, he sent me that five pounds,
much to him then; and, if he bade me work
and never vex him more with news of me,
we both knew him too poor for pensioners.
I see he did his best; I could wish now
sending it back I had professed some thanks.
But there! I was too wretched to be meek:
it seemed to me as if he, every one,
the whole great world, were guilty of my guilt,
abettors and avengers: in my heart
I gibed them back their gibings; I was wild.
I see clear now and know one has one's life
in hand at first to spend or spare or give
like any other coin; spend it or give
or drop it in the mire, can the world see
you get your value for it, or bar back
the hurrying of its marts to grope it up
and give it back to you for better use?
And if you spend or give that is your choice;
and if you let it slip that's your choice too,
you should have held it firmer. Yours the blame,
and not another's, not the indifferent world's
which goes on steadily, statistically,
and count by censuses not separate souls --
and if it somehow needs to its worst use
so many lives of women, useless else,
it buys us of ourselves, we could hold back,
free all of us to starve, and some of us,
(those who have done no ill and are in luck),
to slave their lives out and have food and clothes
until they grow unserviceably old.
Oh I blame no one -- scarcely even myself.
It was to be: the very good in me
has always turned to hurt; all I thought right
at the hot moment, judged of afterwards,
Why, look at it, had I taken
the pay my dead child's father offered me
for having been its mother, I could then
have kept life in me, (many have to do it,
that swarm in the back alleys, on no more,
cold sometimes, mostly hungry, but they live);
I could have gained a respite trying it,
and maybe found at last some humble work
to eke the pittance out. Not I, forsooth,
I must have spirit, must have womanly pride,
must dash back his contemptuous wages, I,
who had not scorned to earn them, dash them back
the fiercer that he dared to count our boy
in my appraising: and yet now I think
I might have taken it for my dead boy's sake;
it would have been his gift.
But I went forth
with my fine scorn, and whither did it lead?
Money's the root of evil do they say?
money is virtue, strength: money to me
would then have been repentance: could I live
upon my idiot's pride?
Well, it fell soon.
I had prayed Edward might believe me dead,
and yet I begged of him -- That's like me too,
beg of him and then send him back his alms!
What if he gave as to a whining wretch
that holds her hand and lies? I am less to him
than such a one; her rags do him no wrong,
but I, I, wrong him merely that I live,
being his sister. Could I not at least
have still let him forget me? But 'tis past:
and naturally he may hope I am long dead.
Good God! to think that we were what we were
one to the other ... and now!
He has done well;
married a sort of heiress, I have heard,
a dapper little madam, dimple cheeked
and dimple brained, who makes him a good wife --
No doubt she'd never own but just to him,
and in a whisper, she can even suspect
that we exist, we other women things:
what would she say if she could learn one day
she has a sister-in-law! So he and I
must stand apart till doomsday.
But the jest,
to think how she would look! -- Her fright, poor thing!
The notion! -- I could laugh outright ...... or else,
for I feel near it, roll on the ground and sob.
Well, after all, there's not much difference
between the two sometimes.
Was that the bell?
Some one at last, thank goodness. There's a voice,
and that's a pleasure. Whose though? Ah I know.
Why did she come alone, the cackling goose?
why not have brought her sister? -- she tells more
and titters less. No matter; half a loaf
is better than no bread.
Oh, is it you?
Most welcome, dear: one gets so moped alone.
XII. The Book and the Ring
Here were the end, had anything an end:
Thus, lit and launched, up and up roared and soared
A rocket, till the key o' the vault was reached,
And wide heaven held, a breathless minute-space,
In brilliant usurpature: thus caught spark,
Rushed to the height, and hung at full of fame
Over men's upturned faces, ghastly thence,
Our glaring Guido: now decline must be.
In its explosion, you have seen his act,
By my power—may-be, judged it by your own,—
Or composite as good orbs prove, or crammed
With worse ingredients than the Wormwood Star.
The act, over and ended, falls and fades:
What was once seen, grows what is now described,
Then talked of, told about, a tinge the less
In every fresh transmission; till it melts,
Trickles in silent orange or wan grey
Across our memory, dies and leaves all dark,
And presently we find the stars again.
Follow the main streaks, meditate the mode
Of brightness, how it hastes to blend with black!
After that February Twenty-Two,
Since our salvation, Sixteen-Ninety-Eight,
Of all reports that were, or may have been,
Concerning those the day killed or let live,
Four I count only. Take the first that comes.
A letter from a stranger, man of rank,
Venetian visitor at Rome,—who knows,
On what pretence of busy idleness?
Thus he begins on evening of that day.
"Here are we at our end of Carnival;
"Prodigious gaiety and monstrous mirth,
"And constant shift of entertaining show:
"With influx, from each quarter of the globe,
"Of strangers nowise wishful to be last
"I' the struggle for a good place presently
"When that befalls fate cannot long defer.
"The old Pope totters on the verge o' the grave:
"You see, Malpichi understood far more
"Than Tozzi how to treat the ailments: age,
"No question, renders these inveterate.
"Cardinal Spada, actual Minister,
"Is possible Pope; I wager on his head,
"Since those four entertainments of his niece
"Which set all Rome a-stare: Pope probably—
"Though Colloredo has his backers too,
"And San Cesario makes one doubt at times:
"Altieri will be Chamberlain at most.
"A week ago the sun was warm like May,
"And the old man took daily exercise
"Along the river-side; he loves to see
"That Custom-house he built upon the bank,
"For, Naples born, his tastes are maritime:
"But yesterday he had to keep in-doors
"Because of the outrageous rain that fell.
"On such days the good soul has fainting-fits,
"Or lies in stupor, scarcely makes believe
"Of minding business, fumbles at his beads.
"They say, the trust that keeps his heart alive
"Is that, by lasting till December next,
"He may hold Jubilee a second time,
"And, twice in one reign, ope the Holy Doors.
"By the way, somebody responsible
"Assures me that the King of France has writ
"Fresh orders: Fénelon will be condemned:
"The Cardinal makes a wry face enough,
"Having a love for the delinquent: still,
"He's the ambassador, must press the point.
"Have you a wager too, dependent here?
"Now, from such matters to divert awhile,
"Hear of to-day's event which crowns the week,
"Casts all the other wagers into shade.
"Tell Dandolo I owe him fifty drops
"Of heart's blood in the shape of gold zecchines!
"The Pope has done his worst: I have to pay
"For the execution of the Count, by Jove!
"Two days since, I reported him as safe,
"Re-echoing the conviction of all Rome:
"Who could suspect its one deaf ear—the Pope's?
"But prejudices grow insuperable,
"And that old enmity to Austria, that
"Passion for France and France's pageant-king
"(Of which, why pause to multiply the proofs
"Now scandalously rife in Europe's mouth?)
"These fairly got the better in our man
"Of justice, prudence, and esprit de corps,
"And he persisted in the butchery.
"Also, 't is said that in his latest walk
"To that Dogana-by-the-Bank he built,
"The crowd,—he suffers question, unrebuked,—
"Asked, 'Whether murder was a privilege
"'Only reserved for nobles like the Count?'
"And he was ever mindful of the mob.
"Martinez, the Cæsarian Minister,
"—Who used his best endeavours to spare blood,
"And strongly pleaded for the life 'of one,'
"Urged he, 'I may have dined at table with!'—
"He will not soon forget the Pope's rebuff,
"—Feels the slight sensibly, I promise you!
"And but for the dissuasion of two eyes
"That make with him foul weather or fine day,
"He had abstained, nor graced the spectacle:
"As it was, barely would he condescend
"Look forth from the palchetto where he sat
"Under the Pincian: we shall hear of this.
"The substituting, too, the People's Square
"For the out-o'-the-way old quarter by the Bridge,
"Was meant as a conciliatory sop
"To the mob; it gave one holiday the more.
"But the French Embassy might unfurl flag,—
"Still the good luck of France to fling a foe!
"Cardinal Bouillon triumphs properly.
"Palchetti were erected in the Place,
"And houses, at the edge of the Three Streets,
"Let their front windows at six dollars each:
"Anguisciola, that patron of the arts,
"Hired one; our Envoy Contarini too.
"Now for the thing; no sooner the decree
"Gone forth,—'t is four-and-twenty hours ago,—
"Than Acciaiuoli and Panciatichi,
"Old friends, indeed compatriots of the man,
"Being pitched on as the couple properest
"To intimate the sentence yesternight,
"Were closeted ere cock-crow with the Count.
"They both report their efforts to dispose
"The unhappy nobleman for ending well,
"Despite the natural sense of injury,
"Were crowned at last with a complete success.
"And when the Company of Death arrived
"At twenty-hours,—the way they reckon here,—
"We say, at sunset, after dinner-time,—
"The Count was led down, hoisted up on car,
"Last of the five, as heinousest, you know:
"Yet they allowed one whole car to each man.
"His intrepidity, nay, nonchalance,
"As up he stood and down he sat himself,
"Struck admiration into those who saw.
"Then the procession started, took the way
"From the New Prisons by the Pilgrim's Street,
"The street of the Governo, Pasquin's Street,
"(Where was stuck up, mid other epigrams,
"A quatrain … but of all that, presently!)
"The Place Navona, the Pantheon's Place,
"Place of the Column, last the Corso's length,
"And so debouched thence at Mannaia's foot
"I' the Place o' the People. As is evident,
"(Despite the malice,—plainly meant, I fear,
"By this abrupt change of locality,—
"The Square's no such bad place to head and hang)
"We had the titillation as we sat
"Assembled, (quality in conclave, ha?)
"Of, minute after minute, some report
"How the slow show was winding on its way
"Now did a car run over, kill a man,
"Just opposite a pork-shop numbered Twelve:
"And bitter were the outcries of the mob
"Against the Pope: for, but that he forbids
"The Lottery, why, Twelve were Tern Quatern!
"Now did a beggar by Saint Agnes, lame
"From his youth up, recover use of leg,
"Through prayer of Guido as he glanced that way:
"So that the crowd near crammed his hat with coin.
"Thus was kept up excitement to the last,
"—Not an abrupt out-bolting, as of yore,
"From Castle, over Bridge and on to block,
"And so all ended ere you well could wink!
"To mount the scaffold-steps, Guido was last
"Here also, as atrociousest in crime.
"We hardly noticed how the peasants died,
"They dangled somehow soon to right and left,
"And we remained all ears and eyes, could give
"Ourselves to Guido undividedly,
"As he harangued the multitude beneath.
"He begged forgiveness on the part of God,
"And fair construction of his act from men,
"Whose suffrage he entreated for his soul,
"Suggesting that we should forthwith repeat
"A Pater and an Ave, with the hymn
"Salve Regina Coeli, for his sake.
"Which said, he turned to the confessor, crossed
"And reconciled himself, with decency,
"Oft glancing at Saint Mary's opposite,
"Where they possess, and showed in shrine to-day,
"The blessed Umbilicus of our Lord,
"(A relic 't is believed no other church
"In Rome can boast of)—then rose up, as brisk
"Knelt down again, bent head, adapted neck,
"And, with the name of Jesus on his lips,
"Received the fatal blow.
"The headsman showed
"The head to the populace. Must I avouch
"We strangers own to disappointment here?
"Report pronounced him fully six feet high,
"Youngish, considering his fifty years,
"And, if not handsome, dignified at least.
"Indeed, it was no face to please a wife!
"His friends say, this was caused by the costume:
"He wore the dress he did the murder in,
"That is, a just-a-corps of russet serge,
"Black camisole, coarse cloak of baracan
"(So they style here the garb of goat's-hair cloth)
"White hat and cotton cap beneath, poor Count
"Preservative against the evening dews
"During the journey from Arezzo. Well,
"So died the man, and so his end was peace;
"Whence many a moral were to meditate.
"Spada,—you may bet Dandolo,—is Pope!
"Now for the quatrain!"
No, friend, this will do!
You've sputtered into sparks. What streak comes next?
A letter: Don Giacinto Arcangeli,
Doctor and Proctor, him I made you mark
Buckle to business in his study late,
The virtuous sire, the valiant for the truth,
Acquaints his correspondent,—Florentine,
By name Cencini, advocate as well,
Socius and brother-in-the-devil to match,—
A friend of Franceschini, anyhow,
And knit up with the bowels of the case,—
Acquaints him, (in this paper that I touch)
How their joint effort to obtain reprieve
For Guido had so nearly nicked the nine
And ninety and one over,—folk would say
At Tarocs,—or succeeded,—in our phrase.
To this Cencini's care I owe the Book,
The yellow thing I take and toss once more,—
How will it be, my four-years'-intimate,
When thou and I part company anon?—
'T was he, the "whole position of the case,"
Pleading and summary, were put before;
Discreetly in my Book he bound them all,
Adding some three epistles to the point.
Here is the first of these, part fresh as penned,
The sand, that dried the ink, not rubbed away,
Though penned the day whereof it tells the deed:
Part—extant just as plainly, you know where,
Whence came the other stuff, went, you know how,
To make the Ring that's all but round and done.
"Late they arrived, too late, egregious Sir,
"Those same justificative points you urge
"Might benefit His Blessed Memory
"Count Guido Franceschini now with God:
"Since the Court,—to state things succinctly,—styled
"The Congregation of the Governor,
"Having resolved on Tuesday last our cause
"I' the guilty sense, with death for punishment,
"Spite of all pleas by me deducible
"In favour of said Blessed Memory,—
"I, with expenditure of pains enough,
"Obtained a respite, leave to claim and prove
"Exemption from the law's award,—alleged
"The power and privilege o' the Clericate:
"To which effect a courier was despatched.
"But ere an answer from Arezzo came,
"The Holiness of our Lord the Pope (prepare!)
"Judging it inexpedient to postpone
"The execution of such sentence passed,
"Saw fit, by his particular cheirograph,
"To derogate, dispense with privilege,
"And wink at any hurt accruing thence
"To Mother Church through damage of her son:
"Also, to overpass and set aside
"That other plea on score of tender age,
"Put forth by me to do Pasquini good,
"One of the four in trouble with our friend.
"So that all five, to-day, have suffered death
"With no distinction save in dying,—he,
"Decollate by mere due of privilege,
"The rest hanged decently and in order. Thus
"Came the Count to his end of gallant man,
"Defunct in faith and exemplarity:
"Nor shall the shield of his great House lose shine
"Thereby, nor its blue banner blush to red.
"This, too, should yield sustainment to our hearts—
"He had commiseration and respect
"In his decease from universal Rome,
"Quantum est hominum venustiorum,
"The nice and cultivated everywhere:
"Though, in respect of me his advocate,
"Needs must I groan o'er my debility,
"Attribute the untoward event o' the strife
"To nothing but my own crass ignorance
"Which failed to set the valid reasons forth,
"Find fit excuse: such is the fate of war!
"May God compensate us the direful blow
"By future blessings on his family,
"Whereof I lowly beg the next commands;
"—Whereto, as humbly, I confirm myself…"
And so forth,—follow name and place and date.
On next leaf—
"There, old fox, show the clients t' other side
"And keep this corner sacred, I beseech!
"You and your pleas and proofs were what folk call
"Pisan assistance, aid that comes too late,
"Saves a man dead as nail in post of door.
"Had I but time and space for narrative!
"What was the good of twenty Clericates
"When Somebody's thick headpiece once was bent
"On seeing Guido's drop into the bag?
"How these old men like giving youth a push!
"So much the better: next push goes to him,
"And a new Pope begins the century.
"Much good I get by my superb defence!
"But argument is solid and subsists,
"While obstinacy and ineptitude
"Accompany the owner to his tomb—
"What do I care how soon? Beside, folk see!
"Rome will have relished heartily the show,
"Yet understood the motives, never fear,
"Which caused the indecent change o' the People's Place
"To the People's Playground,—stigmatize the spite
"Which in a trice precipitated things!
"As oft the moribund will give a kick
"To show they are not absolutely dead,
"So feebleness i' the socket shoots its last,
"A spirt of violence for energy!
"But thou, Cencini, brother of my breast,
"O fox whose home is 'mid the tender grape,
"Whose couch in Tuscany by Themis' throne,
"Subject to no such … best I shut my mouth
"Or only open it again to say,
"This pother and confusion fairly laid,
"My hands are empty and my satchel lank.
"Now then for both the Matrimonial Cause
"And the Case of Gomez! Serve them hot and hot!
"Reliqua differamus in crastinum!
"The impatient estafette cracks whip outside:
"Still, though the earth should swallow him who swears
"And me who make the mischief, in must slip—
"My boy, your godson, fat-chaps Hyacinth,
"Enjoyed the sight while Papa plodded here.
"I promised him, the rogue, a month ago,
"The day his birthday was, of all the days,
"That if I failed to save Count Guido's head,
"Cinuccio should at least go see it chopped
"From trunk—'So, latinize your thanks! quoth I.
"'That I prefer, hoc malim,' raps me out
"The rogue: you notice the subjunctive? Ah!
"Accordingly he sat there, bold in box,
"Proud as the Pope behind the peacock-fans:
"Whereon a certain lady-patroness
"For whom I manage things (my boy in front,
"Her Marquis sat the third in evidence;
"Boys have no eyes nor ears save for the show)
"'This time, Cintino,' was her sportive word,
"When whiz and thump went axe and mowed lay man,
"And folk could fall to the suspended chat,
"'This time, you see, Bottini rules the roast,
"'Nor can Papa with all his eloquence
"'Be reckoned on to help as heretofore!'
"Whereat Cinone pouts; then, sparkishly—
"'Papa knew better than aggrieve his Pope,
"'And baulk him of his grudge against our Count,
"'Else he'd have argued-off Bottini's' . . what?
"'His nose,'—the rogue! well parried of the boy!
"He's long since out of Cæsar (eight years old)
"And as for tripping in Eutropius … well,
"Reason the more that we strain every nerve
"To do him justice, mould a model-mouth,
"A Bartolus-cum-Baldo for next age:
"For that I purse the pieces, work the brain,
"And want both Gomez and the marriage-case,
"Success with which shall plaster aught of pate
"That's broken in me by Bottini's flail,
"And bruise his own, belike, that wags and brags.
"Adverti supplico humiliter
"Quod don't the fungus see, the fop divine
"That one hand drives two horses, left and right?
"With this rein did I rescue from the ditch
"The fortune of our Franceschini, keep
"Unsplashed the credit of a noble House,
"And set the fashionable cause at Rome
"A-prancing till bystanders shouted ware!'
"The other rein's judicious management
"Suffered old Somebody to keep the pace,
"Hobblingly play the roadster: who but he
"Had his opinion, was not led by the nose
"In leash of quibbles strung to look like law!
"You'll soon see,—when I go to pay devoir
"And compliment him on confuting me,—
"If, by a back-swing of the pendulum,
"Grace be not, thick and threefold, consequent.
"'I must decide as I see proper, Don!
"'I'm Pope, I have my inward lights for guide.
"'Had learning been the matter in dispute,
"'Could eloquence avail to gainsay fact,
"'Yours were the victory, be comforted!'
"Cinuzzo will be gainer by it all.
"Quick then with Gomez, hot and hot next case!"
Follows, a letter, takes the other side.
Tall blue-eyed Fisc whose head is capped with cloud,
Doctor Bottini,—to no matter who,
Writes on the Monday two days afterward.
Now shall the honest championship of right,
Crowned with success, enjoy at last, unblamed,
Moderate triumph! Now shall eloquence
Poured forth in fancied floods for virtue's sake,
(The print is sorrowfully dyked and dammed,
But shows where fain the unbridled force would flow,
Finding a channel)—now shall this refresh
The thirsty donor with a drop or two!
Here has been truth at issue with a lie:
Let who gained truth the day have handsome pride
In his own prowess! Eh! What ails the man?
"Well, it is over, ends as I foresaw:
"Easily proved, Pompilia's innocence!
"Catch them entrusting Guido's guilt to me
"Who had, as usual, the plain truth to plead.
"I always knew the clearness of the stream
"Would show the fish so thoroughly, child might prong
"The clumsy monster: with no mud to splash,
"Small credit to lynx-eye and lightning-spear!
"This Guido,—(much sport he contrived to make,
"Who at first twist, preamble of the cord,
"Turned white, told all, like the poltroon he was!)—
"Finished, as you expect, a penitent,
"Fully confessed his crime, and made amends,
"And, edifying Rome last Saturday,
"Died like a saint, poor devil! That's the man
"The gods still give to my antagonist:
"Imagine how Arcangeli claps wing
"And crows! 'Such formidable facts to face,
"'So naked to attack, my client here,
"'And yet I kept a month the Fisc at bay,
"'And in the end had foiled him of the prize
"'By this arch-stroke, this plea of privilege,
"'But that the Pope must gratify his whim,
"'Put in his word, poor old man,—let it pass!'
"—Such is the cue to which all Rome responds.
"What with the plain truth given me to uphold,
"And, should I let truth slip, the Pope at hand
"To pick up, steady her on legs again,
"My office turns a pleasantry indeed!
"Not that the burly boaster did one jot
"O' the little was to do—young Spreti's work!
"But for him,—mannikin and dandiprat,
"Mere candle-end and inch of cleverness
"Stuck on Arcangeli's save-all,—but for him
"The spruce young Spreti, what is bad were worse!
"I looked that Rome should have the natural gird
"At advocate with case that proves itself;
"I knew Arcangeli would grin and brag:
"But what say you to one impertinence
"Might move a stone? That monk, you are to know,
"That barefoot Augustinian whose report
"O' the dying woman's words did detriment
"To my best points it took the freshness from,
"—That meddler preached to purpose yesterday
"At San Lorenzo as a winding-up
"O' the show which proved a treasure to the church.
"Out comes his sermon smoking from the press:
"Its text—'Let God be true, and every man
"'A liar'—and its application, this
"The longest-winded of the paragraphs,
"I straight unstitch, tear out and treat you with:
"'T is piping hot and posts through Rome to-day.
"Remember it, as I engage to do!
"But if you rather be disposed to see
"In the result of the long trial here,—
"This dealing doom to guilt and doling praise
"To innocency,—any proof that truth
"May look for vindication from the world,
"Much will you have misread the signs, I say.
"God, who seems acquiescent in the main
"With those who add 'So will he ever sleep'—
"Flutters their foolishness from time to time,
"Puts forth His right-hand recognizably;
"Even as, to fools who deem He needs must right
"Wrong on the instant, as if earth were heaven,
"He wakes remonstrance—'Passive, Lord, how long?'
"Because Pompilia's purity prevails,
"Conclude you, all truth triumphs in the end?
"So might those old inhabitants of the ark,
"Witnessing haply their dove's safe return,
"Pronounce there was no danger, all the while
"O' the deluge, to the creature's counterparts,
"Aught that beat wing i' the world, was white or soft,—
"And that the lark, the thrush, the culver too,
"Might equally have traversed air, found earth,
"And brought back olive-branch in unharmed bill.
"Methinks I hear the Patriarch's warning voice—
"'Though this one breast, by miracle, return,
"'No wave rolls by, in all the waste, but bears
"'Within it some dead dove-like thing as dear,
"'Beauty made blank and harmlessness destroyed!'
"How many chaste and noble sister-fames
"Wanted the extricating hand, so lie
"Strangled, for one Pompilia proud above
"The welter, plucked from the world's calumny,
"Stupidity, simplicity,—who cares?
"Romans! An elder race possessed your land
"Long ago, and a false faith lingered still,
"As shades do though the morning-star be out.
"Doubtless some pagan of the twilight-day
"Has often pointed to a cavern-mouth
"Obnoxious to beholders, hard by Rome,
"And said,—nor he a bad man, no, nor fool,
"Only a man born blind like all his mates,—
"'Here skulk in safety, lurk, defying law,
"'The devotees to execrable creed,
"'Adoring—with what culture … Jove, avert
"'Thy vengeance from us worshippers of thee!…
"'What rites obscene—their idol-god, an Ass!'
"So went the word forth, so acceptance found,
"So century re-echoed century,
"Cursed the accursed,—and so, from sire to son,
"You Romans cried 'The offscourings of our race
"'Corrupt within the depths there: fitly fiends
"'Perform a temple-service o'er the dead:
"'Child, gather garment round thee, pass nor pry!'
"Thus groaned your generations: till the time
"Grew ripe, and lightning had revealed, belike,—
"Thro' crevice peeped into by curious fear,—
"Some object even fear could recognize
"I' the place of spectres; on the illumined wall,
"To-wit, some nook, tradition talks about,
"Narrow and short, a corpse's length, no more:
"And by it, in the due receptacle,
"The little rude brown lamp of earthenware,
"The cruse, was meant for flowers but now held blood,
"The rough-scratched palm-branch, and the legend left
"Pro Christo. Then the mystery lay clear:
"The abhorred one was a martyr all the time,
"Heaven's saint whereof earth was not worthy. What?
"Do you continue in the old belief?
"Where blackness bides unbroke, must devils brood?
"Is it so certain not another cell
"O' the myriad that make up the catacomb
"Contains some saint a second flash would show?
"Will you ascend into the light of day
"And, having recognized a martyr's shrine,
"Go join the votaries that gape around
"Each vulgar god that awes the market-place?
"Are these the objects of your praising? See!
"In the outstretched right hand of Apollo, there,
"Lies screened a scorpion: housed amid the folds
"Of Juno's mantle lurks a centipede!
"Each statue of a god were fitlier styled
"Demon and devil. Glorify no brass
"That shines like burnished gold in noonday glare,
"For fools! Be otherwise instructed, you!
"And preferably ponder, ere ye judge,
"Each incident of this strange human play
"Privily acted on a theatre
"That seemed secure from every gaze but God's,—
"Till, of a sudden, earthquake laid wall low
"And let the world perceive wild work inside
"And how, in petrifaction of surprise,
"The actors stood,—raised arm and planted foot,—
"Mouth as it made, eye as it evidenced,
"Despairing shriek, triumphant hate,—transfixed,
"Both he who takes and she who yields the life.
"As ye become spectators of this scene,
"Watch obscuration of a pearl-pure fame
"By vapoury films, enwoven circumstance,
"—A soul made weak by its pathetic want
"Of just the first apprenticeship to sin
"Which thenceforth makes the sinning soul secure
"From all foes save itself, souls' truliest foe,—
"Since egg turned snake needs fear no serpentry,—
"As ye behold this web of circumstance
"Deepen the more for every thrill and throe,
"Convulsive effort to disperse the films
"And disenmesh the fame o' the martyr,—mark
"How all those means, the unfriended one pursues,
"To keep the treasure trusted to her breast,
"Each struggle in the flight from death to life,
"How all, by procuration of the powers
"Of darkness, are transformed,—no single ray,
"Shot forth to show and save the inmost star,
"But, passed as through hell's prism, proceeding black
"To the world that hates white: as ye watch, I say,
"Till dusk and such defacement grow eclipse
"By,—marvellous perversity of man!—
"The inadequacy and inaptitude
"Of that self-same machine, that very law
"Man vaunts, devised to dissipate the gloom,
"Rescue the drowning orb from calumny,
"—Hear law, appointed to defend the just,
"Submit, for best defence, that wickedness
"Was bred of flesh and innate with the bone
"Borne by Pompilia's spirit for a space,
"And no mere chance fault, passionate and brief:
"Finally, when ye find,—after this touch
"Of man's protection which intends to mar
"The last pin-point of light and damn the disc,—
"One wave of the hand of God amid the worlds
"Bid vapour vanish, darkness flee away,
"And let the vexed star culminate in peace
"Approachable no more by earthly mist—
"What I call God's hand,—you, perhaps,—mere chance
"Of the true instinct of an old good man
"Who happens to hate darkness and love light,—
"In whom too was the eye that saw, not dim,
"The natural force to do the thing he saw,
"Nowise abated,—both by miracle,—
"All this well pondered,—I demand assent
"To the enunciation of my text
"In face of one proof more that 'God is true
"'And every man a liar'—that who trusts
"To human testimony for a fact
"Gets this sole fact—himself is proved a fool;
"Man's speech being false, if but by consequence
"That only strength is true: while man is weak,
"And, since truth seems reserved for heaven not earth,
"Plagued here by earth's prerogative of lies,
"Should learn to love and long for what, one day,
"Approved by life's probation, he may speak.
"For me, the weary and worn, who haply prompt
"To mirth or pity, as I move the mood,—
"A friar who glides unnoticed to the grave,
"With these bare feet, coarse robe and rope-girt waist,—
"I have long since renounced your world, ye know:
"Yet what forbids I weigh the prize forgone,
"The worldly worth? I dare, as I were dead,
"Disinterestedly judge this and that
"Good ye account good: but God tries the heart.
"Still, if you question me of my content
"At having put each human pleasure by,
"I answer, at the urgency of truth:
"As this world seems, I dare not say I know
"—Apart from Christ's assurance which decides—
"Whether I have not failed to taste much joy.
"For many a doubt will fain perturb my choice—
"Many a dream of life spent otherwise—
"How human love, in varied shapes, might work
"As glory, or as rapture, or as grace:
"How conversancy with the books that teach,
"The arts that help,—how, to grow good and great,
"Rather than simply good, and bring thereby
"Goodness to breathe and live, nor, born i' the brain,
"Die there,—how these and many another gift
"Of life are precious though abjured by me.
"But, for one prize, best meed of mightiest man,
"Arch-object of ambition,—earthly praise,
"Repute o' the world, the flourish of loud trump,
"The softer social fluting,—Oh, for these,
"—No, my friends! Fame,—that bubble which, world-wide
"Each blows and bids his neighbour lend a breath,
"That so he haply may behold thereon
"One more enlarged distorted false fool's-face,
"Until some glassy nothing grown as big
"Send by a touch the imperishable to suds,—
"No, in renouncing fame, my loss was light,
"Choosing obscurity, my chance was well!"
Didst ever touch such ampollosity
As the monk's own bubble, let alone its spite?
What's his speech for, but just the fame he flouts?
How he dares reprehend both high and low,
Nor stoops to turn the sentence "God is true
"And every man a liar—save the Pope
"Happily reigning—my respects to him!"
And so round off the period. Molinism
Simple and pure! To what pitch get we next?
I find that, for first pleasant consequence,
Gomez, who had intended to appeal
From the absurd decision of the Court,
Declines, though plain enough his privilege,
To call on help from lawyers any more—
Resolves earth's liars may possess the world,
Till God have had sufficiency of both:
So may I whistle for my job and fee!
But, for this virulent and rabid monk,—
If law be an inadequate machine,
And advocacy, froth and impotence,
We shall soon see, my blatant brother! That's
Exactly what I hope to show your sort!
For, by a veritable piece of luck,
The providence, you monks round period with,
All may be gloriously retrieved. Perpend!
That Monastery of the Convertites
Whereto the Court consigned Pompilia first,
—Observe, if convertite, why, sinner then,
Or what's the pertinency of award?—
And whither she was late returned to die,
—Still in their jurisdiction, mark again!—
That thrifty Sisterhood, for perquisite,
Claims every piece whereof may die possessed
Each sinner in the circuit of its walls.
Now, this Pompilia seeing that, by death
O' the couple, all their wealth devolved on her,
Straight utilized the respite ere decease,
By regular conveyance of the goods
She thought her own, to will and to devise,—
Gave all to friends, Tighetti and the like,
In trust for him she held her son and heir,
Gaetano,—trust which ends with infancy:
So willing and devising, since assured
The justice of the Court would presently
Confirm her in her rights and exculpate,
Re-integrate and rehabilitate—
Place her as, through my pleading, now she stands.
But here's the capital mistake: the Court
Found Guido guilty,—but pronounced no word
About the innocency of his wife:
I grounded charge on broader base, I hope!
No matter whether wife be true or false,
The husband must not push aside the law,
And punish of a sudden: that's the point:
Gather from out my speech the contrary!
It follows that Pompilia, unrelieved
By formal sentence from imputed fault,
Remains unfit to have and to dispose
Of property which law provides shall lapse.
Wherefore the Monastery claims its due:
And whose, pray, whose the office, but the Fisc's?
Who but I institute procedure next
Against the person of dishonest life,
Pompilia whom last week I sainted so?
I it is teach the monk what scripture means,
And that the tongue should prove a two-edged sword,
No axe sharp one side, blunt the other way,
Like what amused the town at Guido's cost!
Astræa redux! I've a second chance
Before the self-same Court o' the Governor
Who soon shall see volte-face and chop, change sides.
Accordingly, I charge you on your life,
Send me with all despatch the judgment late
O' the Florence Rota Court, confirmative
O' the prior judgment at Arezzo, clenched
Again by the Granducal signature,
Wherein Pompilia is convicted, doomed,
And only destined to escape through flight
The proper punishment. Send me the piece,—
I'll work it! And this foul-mouthed friar shall find
His Noah's-dove that brought the olive back
Turn into quite the other sooty scout,
The raven, Noah first put forth the ark,
Which never came back but ate carcasses!
No adequate machinery in law?
No power of life and death i' the learned tongue?
Methinks I am already at my speech,
Startle the world with "Thou, Pompilia, thus?
"How is the fine gold of the Temple dim!"
And so forth. But the courier bids me close,
And clip away one joke that runs through Rome,
Side by side with the sermon which I send.
How like the heartlessness of the old hunks
Arcangeli! His Count is hardly cold,
The client whom his blunders sacrificed,
When somebody must needs describe the scene—
How the procession ended at the church
That boasts the famous relic: quoth our brute,
"Why, that's just Martial's phrase for 'make an end'—
"Ad umbilicum sic perventum est!"
The callous dog,—let who will cut off head,
He cuts a joke and cares no more than so!
I think my speech shall modify his mirth.
"How is the fine gold dim!"—but send the piece!
Alack, Bottini, what is my next word
But death to all that hope? The Instrument
Is plain before me, print that ends my Book
With the definitive verdict of the Court,
Dated September, six months afterward,
(Such trouble and so long the old Pope gave!)
"In restitution of the perfect fame
"Of dead Pompilia, quondam Guido's wife,
"And warrant to her representative
"Domenico Tighetti, barred hereby,
"While doing duty in his guardianship,
"From all molesting, all disquietude,
"Each perturbation and vexation brought
"Or threatened to be brought against the heir
"By the Most Venerable Convent called
"Saint Mary Magdalen o' the Convertites
'I' the Corso."
Justice done a second time!
Well judged, Marc Antony, Locum-tenens
O' the Governor, a Venturini too!
For which I save thy name,—last of the list!
Next year but one, completing his nine years
Of rule in Rome, died Innocent my Pope
—By some account, on his accession-day.
If he thought doubt would do the next age good,
'T is pity he died unapprised what birth
His reign may boast of, be remembered by—
Terrible Pope, too, of a kind,—Voltaire.
And so an end of all i' the story. Strain
Never so much my eyes, I miss the mark
If lived or died that Gaetano, child
Of Guido and Pompilia: only find,
Immediately upon his father's death,
A record, in the annals of the town—
That Porzia, sister of our Guido, moved
The Priors of Arezzo and their head
Its Gonfalonier to give loyally
A public attestation of the right
O' the Franceschini to all reverence—
Apparently because of the incident
O' the murder,—there's no mention made o' the crime,
But what else could have caused such urgency
To cure the mob, just then, of greediness
For scandal, love of lying vanity,
And appetite to swallow crude reports
That bring annoyance to their betters?—bane
Which, here, was promptly met by antidote.
I like and shall translate the eloquence
Of nearly the worst Latin ever writ:
"Since antique time whereof the memory
"Holds the beginning, to this present hour,
"The Franceschini ever shone, and shine
"Still i' the primary rank, supreme amid
"The lustres of Arezzo, proud to own
"In this great family, the flag-bearer,
"Guide of her steps and guardian against foe,—
"As in the first beginning, so to-day!"
There, would you disbelieve the annalist,
Go rather by the babble of a bard?
I thought, Arezzo, thou hadst fitter souls,
Petrarch,—nay, Buonarroti at a pinch,
To do thee credit as vexillifer!
Was it mere mirth the Patavinian meant,
Making thee out, in his veracious page,
Founded by Janus of the Double Face?
Well, proving of such perfect parentage,
Our Gaetano, born of love and hate,
Did the babe live or die? I fain would find!
What were his ancies if he grew a man?
Was he proud,—a true scion of the stock
Which bore the blazon, shall make bright my page—
Shield, Azure, on a Triple Mountain, Or,
A Palm-tree, Proper, whereunto is tied
A Greyhound, Rampant, striving in the slips?
Or did he love his mother, the base-born,
And fight i' the ranks, unnoticed by the world?
Such, then, the final state o' the story. So
Did the Star Wormwood in a blazing fall
Frighten awhile the waters and lie lost.
So did this old woe fade from memory:
Till after, in the fulness of the days,
I needs must find an ember yet unquenched,
And, breathing, blow the spark to flame. It lives,
If precious be the soul of man to man.
So, British Public, who may like me yet,
(Marry and amen!) learn one lesson hence
Of many which whatever lives should teach:
This lesson, that our human speech is naught,
Our human testimony false, our fame
And human estimation words and wind.
Why take the artistic way to prove so much?
Because, it is the glory and good of Art,
That Art remains the one way possible
Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine at least.
How look a brother in the face and say
"Thy right is wrong, eyes hast thou yet art blind,
"Thine ears are stuffed and stopped, despite their length:
"And, oh, the foolishness thou countest faith!"
Say this as silverly as tongue can troll—
The anger of the man may be endured,
The shrug, the disappointed eyes of him
Are not so bad to bear—but here's the plague
That all this trouble comes of telling truth,
Which truth, by when it reaches him, looks false,
Seems to be just the thing it would supplant,
Nor recognizable by whom it left:
While falsehood would have done the work of truth.
But Art,—wherein man nowise speaks to men,
Only to mankind,—Art may tell a truth
Obliquely, do the thing shall breed the thought,
Nor wrong the thought, missing the mediate word.
So may you paint your picture, twice show truth,
Beyond mere imagery on the wall,—
So, note by note, bring music from your mind,
Deeper than ever e'en Beethoven dived,—
So write a book shall mean beyond the facts,
Suffice the eye and save the soul beside.
And save the soul! If this intent save mine,—
If the rough ore be rounded to a ring,
Render all duty which good ring should do,
And, failing grace, succeed in guardianship,—
Might mine but lie outside thine, Lyric Love,
Thy rare gold ring of verse (the poet praised)
Linking our England to his Italy!
- quotes about Rome
- quotes about innocence
- quotes about saint
- quotes about language
- quotes about luck
- quotes about Mary Magdalene
- quotes about receiving
- quotes about victory
- quotes about walls
Metamorphoses: Book The Seventh
THE Argonauts now stemm'd the foaming tide,
And to Arcadia's shore their course apply'd;
Where sightless Phineus spent his age in grief,
But Boreas' sons engage in his relief;
And those unwelcome guests, the odious race
Of Harpyes, from the monarch's table chase.
With Jason then they greater toils sustain,
And Phasis' slimy banks at last they gain,
Here boldly they demand the golden prize
Of Scythia's king, who sternly thus replies:
That mighty labours they must first o'ercome,
Or sail their Argo thence unfreighted home.
The Story of Meanwhile Medea, seiz'd with fierce desire,
Medea and By reason strives to quench the raging fire;
Jason But strives in vain!- Some God (she said)
And reason's baffl'd council countermands.
What unseen Pow'r does this disorder move?
'Tis love,- at least 'tis like, what men call love.
Else wherefore shou'd the king's commands appear
To me too hard?- But so indeed they are.
Why shou'd I for a stranger fear, lest he
Shou'd perish, whom I did but lately see?
His death, or safety, what are they to me?
Wretch, from thy virgin-breast this flame expel,
And soon- Oh cou'd I, all wou'd then be well!
But love, resistless love, my soul invades;
Discretion this, affection that perswades.
I see the right, and I approve it too,
Condemn the wrong- and yet the wrong pursue.
Why, royal maid, shou'dst thou desire to wed
A wanderer, and court a foreign bed?
Thy native land, tho' barb'rous, can present
A bridegroom worth a royal bride's content:
And whether this advent'rer lives, or dies,
In Fate, and Fortune's fickle pleasure lies.
Yet may be live! for to the Pow'rs above,
A virgin, led by no impulse of love,
So just a suit may, for the guiltless, move.
Whom wou'd not Jason's valour, youth and blood
Invite? or cou'd these merits be withstood,
At least his charming person must encline
The hardest heart- I'm sure 'tis so with mine!
Yet, if I help him not, the flaming breath
Of bulls, and earth-born foes, must be his death.
Or, should he through these dangers force his way,
At last he must be made the dragon's prey.
If no remorse for such distress I feel,
I am a tigress, and my breast is steel.
Why do I scruple then to see him slain,
And with the tragick scene my eyes prophane?
My magick's art employ, not to asswage
The Salvages, but to enflame their rage?
His earth-born foes to fiercer fury move,
And accessary to his murder prove?
The Gods forbid- But pray'rs are idle breath,
When action only can prevent his death.
Shall I betray my father, and the state,
To intercept a rambling hero's fate;
Who may sail off next hour, and sav'd from harms
By my assistance, bless another's arms?
Whilst I, not only of my hopes bereft,
But to unpity'd punishment am left.
If he is false, let the ingrateful bleed!
But no such symptom in his looks I read.
Nature wou'd ne'er have lavish'd so much grace
Upon his person, if his soul were base.
Besides, he first shall plight his faith, and swear
By all the Gods; what therefore can'st thou fear?
Medea haste, from danger set him free,
Jason shall thy eternal debtor be.
And thou, his queen, with sov'raign state
By Graecian dames the Kind Preserver call'd.
Hence idle dreams, by love-sick fancy bred!
Wilt thou, Medea, by vain wishes led,
To sister, brother, father bid adieu?
Forsake thy country's Gods, and country too?
My father's harsh, my brother but a child,
My sister rivals me, my country's wild;
And for its Gods, the greatest of 'em all
Inspires my breast, and I obey his call.
That great endearments I forsake, is true,
But greater far the hopes that I pursue:
The pride of having sav'd the youths of Greece
(Each life more precious than our golden fleece);
A nobler soil by me shall be possest,
I shall see towns with arts and manners blest;
And, what I prize above the world beside,
Enjoy my Jason- and when once his bride,
Be more than mortal, and to Gods ally'd.
They talk of hazards I must first sustain,
Of floating islands justling in the main;
Our tender barque expos'd to dreadful shocks
Of fierce Charybdis' gulf, and Scylla's rocks,
Where breaking waves in whirling eddies rowl,
And rav'nous dogs that in deep caverns howl:
Amidst these terrors, while I lye possest
Of him I love, and lean on Jason's breast,
In tempests unconcern'd I will appear,
Or, only for my husband's safety fear.
Didst thou say husband?- canst thou so deceive
Thy self, fond maid, and thy own cheat believe?
In vain thou striv'st to varnish o'er thy shame,
And grace thy guilt with wedlock's sacred name.
Pull off the coz'ning masque, and oh! in time
Discover and avoid the fatal crime.
She ceas'd- the Graces now, with kind surprize,
And virtue's lovely train, before her eyes
Present themselves, and vanquish'd Cupid flies.
She then retires to Hecate's shrine, that stood
Far in the covert of a shady wood:
She finds the fury of her flames asswag'd,
But, seeing Jason there, again they rag'd.
Blushes, and paleness did by turns invade
Her tender cheeks, and secret grief betray'd.
As fire, that sleeping under ashes lyes,
Fresh-blown, and rous'd, does up in blazes rise,
So flam'd the virgin's breast-
New kindled by her lover's sparkling eyes.
For chance, that day, had with uncommon grace
Adorn'd the lovely youth, and through his face
Display'd an air so pleasing as might charm
A Goddess, and a Vestal's bosom warm.
Her ravish'd eyes survey him o'er and o'er,
As some gay wonder never seen before;
Transported to the skies she seems to be,
And thinks she gazes on a deity.
But when he spoke, and prest her trembling hand,
And did with tender words her aid demand,
With vows, and oaths to make her soon his bride,
She wept a flood of tears, and thus reply'd:
I see my error, yet to ruin move,
Nor owe my fate to ignorance, but love:
Your life I'll guard, and only crave of you
To swear once more- and to your oath be true.
He swears by Hecate he would all fulfil,
And by her grandfather's prophetick skill,
By ev'ry thing that doubting love cou'd press,
His present danger, and desir'd success.
She credits him, and kindly does produce
Enchanted herbs, and teaches him their use:
Their mystick names, and virtues he admires,
And with his booty joyfully retires.
The Impatient for the wonders of the day,
Dragon's Teeth Aurora drives the loyt'ring stars away.
transform'd to Now Mars's mount the pressing people fill,
Men The crowd below, the nobles crown the hill;
The king himself high-thron'd above the rest,
With iv'ry scepter, and in purple drest.
Forthwith the brass-hoof'd bulls are set at
Whose furious nostrils sulph'rous flame discharge:
The blasted herbage by their breath expires;
As forges rumble with excessive fires,
And furnaces with fiercer fury glow,
When water on the panting mass ye throw;
With such a noise, from their convulsive breast,
Thro' bellowing throats, the struggling vapour
Yet Jason marches up without concern,
While on th' advent'rous youth the monsters turn
Their glaring eyes, and, eager to engage,
Brandish their steel-tipt horns in threatning rage:
With brazen hoofs they beat the ground, and choak
The ambient air with clouds of dust and smoak:
Each gazing Graecian for his champion shakes,
While bold advances he securely makes
Thro' sindging blasts; such wonders magick art
Can work, when love conspires, and plays his part.
The passive savages like statues stand,
While he their dew-laps stroaks with soothing hand;
To unknown yokes their brawny necks they yield,
And, like tame oxen, plow the wond'ring field.
The Colchians stare; the Graecians shout, and raise
Their champion's courage with inspiring praise.
Embolden'd now, on fresh attempts he goes,
With serpent's teeth the fertile furrows sows;
The glebe, fermenting with inchanted juice,
Makes the snake's teeth a human crop produce.
For as an infant, pris'ner to the womb,
Contented sleeps, 'till to perfection come,
Then does the cell's obscure confinement scorn,
He tosses, throbs, and presses to be born;
So from the lab'ring Earth no single birth,
But a whole troop of lusty youths rush forth;
And, what's more strange, with martial fury warm'd,
And for encounter all compleatly arm'd;
In rank and file, as they were sow'd, they stand,
Impatient for the signal of command.
No foe but the Aemonian youth appears;
At him they level their steel-pointed spears;
His frighted friends, who triumph'd, just before,
With peals of sighs his desp'rate case deplore:
And where such hardy warriors are afraid,
What must the tender, and enamour'd maid?
Her spirits sink, the blood her cheek forsook;
She fears, who for his safety undertook:
She knew the vertue of the spells she gave,
She knew the force, and knew her lover brave;
But what's a single champion to an host?
Yet scorning thus to see him tamely lost,
Her strong reserve of secret arts she brings,
And last, her never-failing song she sings.
Wonders ensue; among his gazing foes
The massy fragment of a rock he throws;
This charm in civil war engag'd 'em all;
By mutual wounds those Earth-born brothers fall.
The Greeks, transported with the strange success,
Leap from their seats the conqu'ror to caress;
Commend, and kiss, and clasp him in their arms:
So would the kind contriver of the charms;
But her, who felt the tenderest concern,
Honour condemns in secret flames to burn;
Committed to a double guard of fame,
Aw'd by a virgin's, and a princess' name.
But thoughts are free, and fancy unconfin'd,
She kisses, courts, and hugs him in her mind;
To fav'ring Pow'rs her silent thanks she gives,
By whose indulgence her lov'd hero lives.
One labour more remains, and, tho' the last,
In danger far surmounting all the past;
That enterprize by Fates in store was kept,
To make the dragon sleep that never slept,
Whose crest shoots dreadful lustre; from his jaws
A tripple tire of forked stings he draws,
With fangs, and wings of a prodigious size:
Such was the guardian of the golden prize.
Yet him, besprinkled with Lethaean dew,
The fair inchantress into slumber threw;
And then, to fix him, thrice she did repeat
The rhyme, that makes the raging winds retreat,
In stormy seas can halcyon seasons make,
Turn rapid streams into a standing lake;
While the soft guest his drowzy eye-lids seals,
Th' ungarded golden fleece the stranger steals;
Proud to possess the purchase of his toil,
Proud of his royal bride, the richer spoil;
To sea both prize, and patroness he bore,
And lands triumphant on his native shore.
Old Aeson Aemonian matrons, who their absence mourn'd,
restor'd to Rejoyce to see their prosp'rous sons return'd:
Youth Rich curling fumes of incense feast the skies,
An hecatomb of voted victims dies,
With gilded horns, and garlands on their head,
And all the pomp of death, to th' altar led.
Congratulating bowls go briskly round,
Triumphant shouts in louder musick drown'd.
Amidst these revels, why that cloud of care
On Jason's brow? (to whom the largest share
Of mirth was due)- His father was not there.
Aeson was absent, once the young, and brave,
Now crush'd with years, and bending to the grave.
At last withdrawn, and by the crowd unseen,
Pressing her hand (with starting sighs between),
He supplicates his kind, and skilful queen.
O patroness! preserver of my life!
(Dear when my mistress, and much dearer wife)
Your favours to so vast a sum amount,
'Tis past the pow'r of numbers to recount;
Or cou'd they be to computation brought,
The history would a romance be thought:
And yet, unless you add one favour more,
Greater than all that you conferr'd before,
But not too hard for love and magick skill,
Your past are thrown away, and Jason's wretched
The morning of my life is just begun,
But my declining father's race is run;
From my large stock retrench the long arrears,
And add 'em to expiring Aeson's years.
Thus spake the gen'rous youth, and wept the rest.
Mov'd with the piety of his request,
To his ag'd sire such filial duty shown,
So diff'rent from her treatment of her own,
But still endeav'ring her remorse to hide,
She check'd her rising sighs, and thus reply'd.
How cou'd the thought of such inhuman wrong
Escape (said she) from pious Jason's tongue?
Does the whole world another Jason bear,
Whose life Medea can to yours prefer?
Or cou'd I with so dire a change dispence,
Hecate will never join in that offence:
Unjust is the request you make, and I
In kindness your petition shall deny;
Yet she that grants not what you do implore,
Shall yet essay to give her Jason more;
Find means t' encrease the stock of Aeson's years,
Without retrenchment of your life's arrears;
Provided that the triple Goddess join
A strong confed'rate in my bold design.
Thus was her enterprize resolv'd; but still
Three tedious nights are wanting to fulfil
The circling crescents of th' encreasing moon;
Then, in the height of her nocturnal noon,
Medea steals from court; her ankles bare,
Her garments closely girt, but loose her hair;
Thus sally'd, like a solitary sprite,
She traverses the terrors of the night.
Men, beasts, and birds in soft repose lay
No boistrous wind the mountain-woods alarm'd;
Nor did those walks of love, the myrtle-trees,
Of am'rous Zephir hear the whisp'ring breeze;
All elements chain'd in unactive rest,
No sense but what the twinkling stars exprest;
To them (that only wak'd) she rears her arm,
And thus commences her mysterious charms.
She turn'd her thrice about, as oft she threw
On her pale tresses the nocturnal dew;
Then yelling thrice a most enormous sound,
Her bare knee bended on the flinty ground.
O night (said she) thou confident and guide
Of secrets, such as darkness ought to hide;
Ye stars and moon, that, when the sun retires,
Support his empire with succeeding fires;
And thou, great Hecate, friend to my design;
Songs, mutt'ring spells, your magick forces join;
And thou, O Earth, the magazine that yields
The midnight sorcerer drugs; skies, mountains,
Ye wat'ry Pow'rs of fountain, stream, and lake;
Ye sylvan Gods, and Gods of night, awake,
And gen'rously your parts in my adventure take.
Oft by your aid swift currents I have led
Thro' wand'ring banks, back to their fountain head;
Transformed the prospect of the briny deep,
Made sleeping billows rave, and raving billows
Made clouds, or sunshine; tempests rise, or fall;
And stubborn lawless winds obey my call:
With mutter'd words disarm'd the viper's jaw;
Up by the roots vast oaks, and rocks cou'd draw,
Make forests dance, and trembling mountains come,
Like malefactors, to receive their doom;
Earth groan, and frighted ghosts forsake their
Thee, Cynthia, my resistless rhymes drew down,
When tinkling cymbals strove my voice to drown;
Nor stronger Titan could their force sustain,
In full career compell'd to stop his wain:
Nor could Aurora's virgin blush avail,
With pois'nous herbs I turn'd her roses pale;
The fury of the fiery bulls I broke,
Their stubborn necks submitting to my yoke;
And when the sons of Earth with fury burn'd,
Their hostile rage upon themselves I turn'd;
The brothers made with mutual wounds to bleed,
And by their fatal strife my lover freed;
And, while the dragon slept, to distant Greece,
Thro' cheated guards, convey'd the golden fleece.
But now to bolder action I proceed,
Of such prevailing juices now have need,
That wither'd years back to their bloom can bring,
And in dead winter raise a second spring.
And you'll perform't-
You will; for lo! the stars, with sparkling fires,
Presage as bright success to my desires:
And now another happy omen see!
A chariot drawn by dragons waits for me.
With these last words he leaps into the wain,
Stroaks the snakes' necks, and shakes the golden
That signal giv'n, they mount her to the skies,
And now beneath her fruitful Tempe lies,
Whose stories she ransacks, then to Crete she
There Ossa, Pelion, Othrys, Pindus, all
To the fair ravisher, a booty fall;
The tribute of their verdure she collects,
Nor proud Olympus' height his plants protects.
Some by the roots she plucks; the tender tops
Of others with her culling sickle crops.
Nor could the plunder of the hills suffice,
Down to the humble vales, and meads she flies;
Apidanus, Amphrysus, the next rape
Sustain, nor could Enipeus' bank escape;
Thro' Beebe's marsh, and thro' the border rang'd
Whose pasture Glaucus to a Triton chang'd.
Now the ninth day, and ninth successive night,
Had wonder'd at the restless rover's flight;
Mean-while her dragons, fed with no repast,
But her exhaling simples od'rous blast,
Their tarnish'd scales, and wrinkled skins had
At last return'd before her palace gate,
Quitting her chariot, on the ground she sate;
The sky her only canopy of state.
All conversation with her sex she fled,
Shun'd the caresses of the nuptial bed:
Two altars next of grassy turf she rears,
This Hecate's name, that Youth's inscription bears;
With forest-boughs, and vervain these she crown'd;
Then delves a double trench in lower ground,
And sticks a black-fleec'd ram, that ready stood,
And drench'd the ditches with devoted blood:
New wine she pours, and milk from th' udder warm,
With mystick murmurs to compleat the charm,
And subterranean deities alarm.
To the stern king of ghosts she next apply'd,
And gentle Proserpine, his ravish'd bride,
That for old Aeson with the laws of Fate
They would dispense, and lengthen his short date;
Thus with repeated pray'rs she long assails
Th' infernal tyrant and at last prevails;
Then calls to have decrepit Aeson brought,
And stupifies him with a sleeping draught;
On Earth his body, like a corpse, extends,
Then charges Jason and his waiting friends
To quit the place, that no unhallow'd eye
Into her art's forbidden secrets pry.
This done, th' inchantress, with her locks unbound,
About her altars trips a frantick round;
Piece-meal the consecrated wood she splits,
And dips the splinters in the bloody pits,
Then hurles 'em on the piles; the sleeping sire
She lustrates thrice, with sulphur, water, fire.
In a large cauldron now the med'cine boils,
Compounded of her late-collected spoils,
Blending into the mesh the various pow'rs
Of wonder-working juices, roots, and flow'rs;
With gems i' th' eastern ocean's cell refin'd,
And such as ebbing tides had left behind;
To them the midnight's pearly dew she flings,
A scretch-owl's carcase, and ill boding wings;
Nor could the wizard wolf's warm entrails scape
(That wolf who counterfeits a human shape).
Then, from the bottom of her conj'ring bag,
Snakes' skins, and liver of a long-liv'd stag;
Last a crow's head to such an age arriv'd,
That he had now nine centuries surviv'd;
These, and with these a thousand more that grew
In sundry soils, into her pot she threw;
Then with a wither'd olive-bough she rakes
The bubling broth; the bough fresh verdure takes;
Green leaves at first the perish'd plant surround,
Which the next minute with ripe fruit were crown'd.
The foaming juices now the brink o'er-swell;
The barren heath, where-e'er the liquor fell,
Sprang out with vernal grass, and all the pride
Of blooming May- When this Medea spy'd,
She cuts her patient's throat; th' exhausted blood
Recruiting with her new enchanted flood;
While at his mouth, and thro' his op'ning wound,
A double inlet her infusion found;
His feeble frame resumes a youthful air,
A glossy brown his hoary beard and hair.
The meager paleness from his aspect fled,
And in its room sprang up a florid red;
Thro' all his limbs a youthful vigour flies,
His empty'd art'ries swell with fresh supplies:
Gazing spectators scarce believe their eyes.
But Aeson is the most surpriz'd to find
A happy change in body and in mind;
In sense and constitution the same man,
As when his fortieth active year began.
Bacchus, who from the clouds this wonder view'd,
Medea's method instantly pursu'd,
And his indulgent nurse's youth renew'd.
The Death of Thus far obliging love employ'd her art,
Pelias But now revenge must act a tragick part;
Medea feigns a mortal quarrel bred
Betwixt her, and the partner of her bed;
On this pretence to Pelias' court she flies,
Who languishing with age and sickness lies:
His guiltless daughters, with inveigling wiles,
And well dissembled friendship, she beguiles:
The strange achievements of her art she tells,
With Aeson's cure, and long on that she dwells,
'Till them to firm perswasion she has won,
The same for their old father may be done:
For him they court her to employ her skill,
And put upon the cure what price she will.
At first she's mute, and with a grave pretence
Of difficulty, holds 'em in suspense;
Then promises, and bids 'em, from the fold
Chuse out a ram, the most infirm and old;
That so by fact their doubts may be remov'd,
And first on him the operation prov'd.
A wreath-horn'd ram is brought, so far o'er-grown
With years, his age was to that age unknown
Of sense too dull the piercing point to feel,
And scarce sufficient blood to stain the steel.
His carcass she into a cauldron threw,
With drugs whose vital qualities she knew;
His limbs grow less, he casts his horns, and years,
And tender bleatings strike their wond'ring ears.
Then instantly leaps forth a frisking lamb,
That seeks (too young to graze) a suckling dam.
The sisters, thus confirm'd with the success,
Her promise with renew'd entreaty press;
To countenance the cheat, three nights and days
Before experiment th' inchantress stays;
Then into limpid water, from the springs,
Weeds, and ingredients of no force she flings;
With antique ceremonies for pretence
And rambling rhymes without a word of sense.
Mean-while the king with all his guards lay bound
In magick sleep, scarce that of death so sound;
The daughters now are by the sorc'ress led
Into his chamber, and surround his bed.
Your father's health's concern'd, and can ye stay?
Unnat'ral nymphs, why this unkind delay?
Unsheath your swords, dismiss his lifeless blood,
And I'll recruit it with a vital flood:
Your father's life and health is in your hand,
And can ye thus like idle gazers stand?
Unless you are of common sense bereft,
If yet one spark of piety is left,
Dispatch a father's cure, and disengage
The monarch from his toilsome load of age:
Come- drench your weapons in his putrid gore;
'Tis charity to wound, when wounding will restore.
Thus urg'd, the poor deluded maids proceed,
Betray'd by zeal, to an inhumane deed,
And, in compassion, make a father bleed.
Yes, she who had the kindest, tend'rest heart,
Is foremost to perform the bloody part.
Yet, tho' to act the butchery betray'd,
They could not bear to see the wounds they made;
With looks averted, backward they advance,
Then strike, and stab, and leave the blows to
Waking in consternation, he essays
(Weltring in blood) his feeble arms to raise:
Environ'd with so many swords- From whence
This barb'rous usage? what is my offence?
What fatal fury, what infernal charm,
'Gainst a kind father does his daughters arm?
Hearing his voice, as thunder-struck they stopt,
Their resolution, and their weapons dropt:
Medea then the mortal blow bestows,
And that perform'd, the tragick scene to close,
His corpse into the boiling cauldron throws.
Then, dreading the revenge that must ensue,
High mounted on her dragon-coach she flew;
And in her stately progress thro' the skies,
Beneath her shady Pelion first she spies,
With Othrys, that above the clouds did rise;
With skilful Chiron's cave, and neighb'ring ground,
For old Cerambus' strange escape renown'd,
By nymphs deliver'd, when the world was drown'd;
Who him with unexpected wings supply'd,
When delug'd hills a safe retreat deny'd.
Aeolian Pitane on her left hand
She saw, and there the statu'd dragon stand;
With Ida's grove, where Bacchus, to disguise
His son's bold theft, and to secure the prize,
Made the stoln steer a stag to represent;
Cocytus' father's sandy monument;
And fields that held the murder'd sire's remains,
Where howling Moera frights the startled plains.
Euryphilus' high town, with tow'rs defac'd
By Hercules, and matrons more disgrac'd
With sprouting horns, in signal punishment,
From Juno, or resenting Venus sent.
Then Rhodes, which Phoebus did so dearly prize,
And Jove no less severely did chastize;
For he the wizard native's pois'ning sight,
That us'd the farmer's hopeful crops to blight,
In rage o'erwhelm'd with everlasting night.
Cartheia's ancient walls come next in view,
Where once the sire almost a statue grew
With wonder, which a strange event did move,
His daughter turn'd into a turtle-dove.
Then Hyrie's lake, and Tempe's field o'er-ran,
Fam'd for the boy who there became a swan;
For there enamour'd Phyllius, like a slave,
Perform'd what tasks his paramour would crave.
For presents he had mountain-vultures caught,
And from the desart a tame lion brought;
Then a wild bull commanded to subdue,
The conquer'd savage by the horns he drew;
But, mock'd so oft, the treatment he disdains,
And from the craving boy this prize detains.
Then thus in choler the resenting lad:
Won't you deliver him?- You'll wish you had:
Nor sooner said, but, in a peevish mood,
Leapt from the precipice on which he stood:
The standers-by were struck with fresh surprize,
Instead of falling, to behold him rise
A snowy swan, and soaring to the skies.
But dearly the rash prank his mother cost,
Who ignorantly gave her son for lost;
For his misfortune wept, 'till she became
A lake, and still renown'd with Hyrie's name.
Thence to Latona's isle, where once were seen,
Transform'd to birds, a monarch, and his queen.
Far off she saw how old Cephisus mourn'd
His son, into a seele by Phoebus turn'd;
And where, astonish'd at a stranger sight,
Eumelus gaz'd on his wing'd daughter's flight.
Aetolian Pleuron she did next survey,
Where sons a mother's murder did essay,
But sudden plumes the matron bore away.
On her right hand, Cyllene, a fair soil,
Fair, 'till Menephron there the beauteous hill
Attempted with foul incest to defile.
Her harness'd dragons now direct she drives
For Corinth, and at Corinth she arrives;
Where, if what old tradition tells, be true,
In former ages men from mushrooms grew.
But here Medea finds her bed supply'd,
During her absence, by another bride;
And hopeless to recover her lost game,
She sets both bride and palace in a flame.
Nor could a rival's death her wrath asswage,
Nor stopt at Creon's family her rage,
She murders her own infants, in despight
To faithless Jason, and in Jason's sight;
Yet e'er his sword could reach her, up she springs,
Securely mounted on her dragon's wings.
The Story of From hence to Athens she directs her flight,
Aegeus Where Phineus, so renown'd for doing right;
Where Periphas, and Polyphemon's neece,
Soaring with sudden plumes amaz'd the towns of
Here Aegeus so engaging she addrest,
That first he treats her like a royal guest;
Then takes the sorc'ress for his wedded wife;
The only blemish of his prudent life.
Mean-while his son, from actions of renown,
Arrives at court, but to his sire unknown.
Medea, to dispatch a dang'rous heir
(She knew him), did a pois'nous draught prepare;
Drawn from a drug, was long reserv'd in store
For desp'rate uses, from the Scythian shore;
That from the Echydnaean monster's jaws
Deriv'd its origin, and this the cause.
Thro' a dark cave a craggy passage lies,
To ours, ascending from the nether skies;
Thro' which, by strength of hand, Alcides drew
Chain'd Cerberus, who lagg'd, and restive grew,
With his blear'd eyes our brighter day to view.
Thrice he repeated his enormous yell,
With which he scares the ghosts, and startles Hell;
At last outragious (tho' compell'd to yield)
He sheds his foam in fury on the field,-
Which, with its own, and rankness of the ground,
Produc'd a weed, by sorcerers renown'd,
The strongest constitution to confound;
Call'd Aconite, because it can unlock
All bars, and force its passage thro' a rock.
The pious father, by her wheedles won,
Presents this deadly potion to his son;
Who, with the same assurance takes the cup,
And to the monarch's health had drank it up,
But in the very instant he apply'd
The goblet to his lips, old Aegeus spy'd
The iv'ry hilted sword that grac'd his side.
That certain signal of his son he knew,
And snatcht the bowl away; the sword he drew,
Resolv'd, for such a son's endanger'd life,
To sacrifice the most perfidious wife.
Revenge is swift, but her more active charms
A whirlwind rais'd, that snatch'd her from his
While conjur'd clouds their baffled sense surprize,
She vanishes from their deluded eyes,
And thro' the hurricane triumphant flies.
The gen'rous king, altho' o'er-joy'd to find
His son was safe, yet bearing still in mind
The mischief by his treach'rous queen design'd;
The horrour of the deed, and then how near
The danger drew, he stands congeal'd with fear.
But soon that fear into devotion turns,
With grateful incense ev'ry altar burns;
Proud victims, and unconscious of their fate,
Stalk to the temple, there to die in state.
In Athens never had a day been found
For mirth, like that grand festival, renown'd.
Promiscuously the peers, and people dine,
Promiscuously their thankful voices join,
In songs of wit, sublim'd by spritely wine.
To list'ning spheres their joint applause they
And thus resound their matchless Theseus' praise.
Great Theseus! Thee the Marathonian plain
Admires, and wears with pride the noble stain
Of the dire monster's blood, by valiant Theseus
That now Cromyon's swains in safety sow,
And reap their fertile field, to thee they owe.
By thee th' infested Epidaurian coast
Was clear'd, and now can a free commerce boast.
The traveller his journey can pursue,
With pleasure the late dreadful valley view,
And cry, Here Theseus the grand robber slew.
Cephysus' cries to his rescu'd shore,
The merciless Procrustes is no more.
In peace, Eleusis, Ceres' rites renew,
Since Theseus' sword the fierce Cercyon slew.
By him the tort'rer Sinis was destroy'd,
Of strength (but strength to barb'rous use
That tops of tallest pines to Earth could bend,
And thus in pieces wretched captives rend.
Inhuman Scyron now has breath'd his last,
And now Alcatho's roads securely past;
By Theseus slain, and thrown into the deep:
But Earth nor Sea his scatter'd bones wou'd keep,
Which, after floating long, a rock became,
Still infamous with Scyron's hated name.
When Fame to count thy acts and years proceeds,
Thy years appear but cyphers to thy deeds.
For thee, brave youth, as for our common-wealth,
We pray; and drink, in yours, the publick health.
Your praise the senate, and plebeians sing,
With your lov'd name the court, and cottage ring.
You make our shepherds and our sailors glad,
And not a house in this vast city's sad.
But mortal bliss will never come sincere,
Pleasure may lead, but grief brings up the rear;
While for his sons' arrival, rev'ling joy
Aegeus, and all his subjects does employ;
While they for only costly feasts prepare,
His neighb'ring monarch, Minos, threatens war:
Weak in land-forces, nor by sea more strong,
But pow'rful in a deep resented wrong
For a son's murder, arm'd with pious rage;
Yet prudently before he would engage,
To raise auxiliaries resolv'd to sail,
And with the pow'rful princes to prevail.
First Anaphe, then proud Astypalaea gains,
By presents that, and this by threats obtains:
Low Mycone, Cymolus, chalky soil,
Tall Cythnos, Scyros, flat Seriphos' isle;
Paros, with marble cliffs afar display'd;
Impregnable Sithonia; yet betray'd
To a weak foe by a gold-admiring maid,
Who, chang'd into a daw of sable hue,
Still hoards up gold, and hides it from the view.
But as these islands chearfully combine,
Others refuse t' embark in his design.
Now leftward with an easy sail he bore,
And prosp'rous passage to Oenopia's shore;
Oenopia once, but now Aegina call'd,
And with his royal mother's name install'd
By Aeacus, under whose reign did spring
The Myrmidons, and now their reigning king.
Down to the port, amidst the rabble, run
The princes of the blood; with Telamon,
Peleus the next, and Phocus the third son:
Then Aeacus, altho' opprest with years,
To ask the cause of their approach appears.
That question does the Gnossian's grief renew,
And sighs from his afflicted bosom drew;
Yet after a short solemn respite made,
The ruler of the hundred cities said:
Assist our arms, rais'd for a murder'd son,
In this religious war no risque you'll run:
Revenge the dead- for who refuse to give
Rest to their urns, unworthy are to live.
What you request, thus Aeacus replies,
Not I, but truth and common faith denies;
Athens and we have long been sworn allies:
Our leagues are fix'd, confed'rate are our pow'rs,
And who declare themselves their foes, are ours.
Minos rejoins, Your league shall dearly cost
(Yet, mindful how much safer 'twas to boast,
Than there to waste his forces, and his fame,
Before in field with his grand foe he came),
Parts without blows- nor long had left the shore,
E're into port another navy bore,
With Cephalus, and all his jolly crew;
Th' Aeacides their old acquaintance knew:
The princes bid him welcome, and in state
Conduct the heroe to their palace gate;
Who entr'ring, seem'd the charming mein to wear,
As when in youth he paid his visit there.
In his right hand an olive-branch he holds,
And, salutation past, the chief unfolds
His embassy from the Athenian state,
Their mutual friendship, leagues of ancient date;
Their common danger, ev'ry thing cou'd wake
Concern, and his address successful make:
Strength'ning his plea with all the charms of
And those, with all the charms of eloquence.
Then thus the king: Like suitors do you stand
For that assistance which you may command?
Athenians, all our listed forces use
(They're such as no bold service will refuse);
And when y' ave drawn them off, the Gods be
Fresh legions can within our isle be rais'd:
So stock'd with people, that we can prepare
Both for domestick, and for distant war,
Ours, or our friends' insulters to chastize.
Long may ye flourish thus, the prince replies.
Strange transport seiz'd me as I pass'd along,
To meet so many troops, and all so young,
As if your army did of twins consist;
Yet amongst them my late acquaintance miss'd:
Ev'n all that to your palace did resort,
When first you entertain'd me at your court;
And cannot guess the cause from whence cou'd spring
So vast a change- Then thus the sighing king:
Illustrious guest, to my strange tale attend,
Of sad beginning, but a joyful end:
The whole to a vast history wou'd swell,
I shall but half, and that confus'dly, tell.
That race whom so deserv'dly you admir'd,
Are all into their silent tombs retir'd:
They fell; and falling, how they shook my state,
Thought may conceive, but words can ne'er relate.
The Story of A dreadful plague from angry Juno came,
Ants chang'd To scourge the land, that bore her rival's name;
to Men Before her fatal anger was reveal'd,
And teeming malice lay as yet conceal'd,
All remedies we try, all med'cines use,
Which Nature cou'd supply, or art produce;
Th' unconquer'd foe derides the vain design,
And art, and Nature foil'd, declare the cause
At first we only felt th' oppressive weight
Of gloomy clouds, then teeming with our fate,
And lab'ring to discarge unactive heat:
But ere four moons alternate changes knew,
With deadly blasts the fatal South-wind blew,
Infected all the air, and poison'd as it flew.
Our fountains too a dire infection yield,
For crowds of vipers creep along the field,
And with polluted gore, and baneful steams,
Taint all the lakes, and venom all the streams.
The young disease with milder force began,
And rag'd on birds, and beasts, excusing Man.
The lab'ring oxen fall before the plow,
Th' unhappy plow-men stare, and wonder how:
The tabid sheep, with sickly bleatings, pines;
Its wool decreasing, as its strength declines:
The warlike steed, by inward foes compell'd,
Neglects his honours, and deserts the field;
Unnerv'd, and languid, seeks a base retreat,
And at the manger groans, but wish'd a nobler fate:
The stags forget their speed, the boars their rage,
Nor can the bears the stronger herds engage:
A gen'ral faintness does invade 'em all,
And in the woods, and fields, promiscuously they
The air receives the stench, and (strange to say)
The rav'nous birds and beasts avoid the prey:
Th' offensive bodies rot upon the ground,
And spread the dire contagion all around.
But now the plague, grown to a larger size,
Riots on Man, and scorns a meaner prize.
Intestine heats begin the civil war,
And flushings first the latent flame declare,
And breath inspir'd, which seem'd like fiery air.
Their black dry tongues are swell'd, and scarce can
And short thick sighs from panting lung are drove.
They gape for air, with flatt'ring hopes t' abate
Their raging flames, but that augments their heat.
No bed, no cov'ring can the wretches bear,
But on the ground, expos'd to open air,
They lye, and hope to find a pleasing coolness
The suff'ring Earth with that oppression curst,
Returns the heat which they imparted first.
In vain physicians would bestow their aid,
Vain all their art, and useless all their trade;
And they, ev'n they, who fleeting life recall,
Feel the same Pow'rs, and undistinguish'd fall.
If any proves so daring to attend
His sick companion, or his darling friend,
Th' officious wretch sucks in contagious breath,
And with his friend does sympathize in death.
And now the care and hopes of life are past,
They please their fancies, and indulge their taste;
At brooks and streams, regardless of their shame,
Each sex, promiscuous, strives to quench their
Nor do they strive in vain to quench it there,
For thirst, and life at once extinguish'd are.
Thus in the brooks the dying bodies sink,
But heedless still the rash survivors drink.
So much uneasy down the wretches hate,
They fly their beds, to struggle with their fate;
But if decaying strength forbids to rise,
The victim crawls and rouls, 'till on the ground he
Each shuns his bed, as each wou'd shun his tomb,
And thinks th' infection only lodg'd at home.
Here one, with fainting steps, does slowly creep
O'er heaps of dead, and strait augments the heap;
Another, while his strength and tongue prevail'd,
Bewails his friend, and falls himself bewail'd:
This with imploring looks surveys the skies,
The last dear office of his closing eyes,
But finds the Heav'ns implacable, and dies.
What now, ah! what employ'd my troubled mind?
But only hopes my subjects' fate to find.
What place soe'er my weeping eyes survey,
There in lamented heaps the vulgar lay;
As acorns scatter when the winds prevail,
Or mellow fruit from shaken branches fall.
You see that dome which rears its front so high:
'Tis sacred to the monarch of the sky:
How many there, with unregarded tears,
And fruitless vows, sent up successless pray'rs?
There fathers for expiring sons implor'd,
And there the wife bewail'd her gasping lord;
With pious off'rings they'd appease the skies,
But they, ere yet th' attoning vapours rise,
Before the altars fall, themselves a sacrifice:
They fall, while yet their hands the gums contain,
The gums surviving, but their off'rers slain.
The destin'd ox, with holy garlands crown'd,
Prevents the blow, and feels th' expected wound:
When I my self invok'd the Pow'rs divine,
To drive the fatal pest from me and mine;
When now the priest with hands uplifted stood,
Prepar'd to strike, and shed the sacred blood,
The Gods themselves the mortal stroke bestow,
The victim falls, but they impart the blow:
Scarce was the knife with the pale purple stain'd,
And no presages cou'd be then obtain'd,
From putrid entrails, where th' infection reign'd.
Death stalk'd around with such resistless sway,
The temples of the Gods his force obey,
And suppliants feel his stroke, while yet they
Go now, said he, your deities implore
For fruitless aid, for I defie their pow'r.
Then with a curst malicious joy survey'd
The very altars, stain'd with trophies of the dead.
The rest grown mad, and frantick with despair,
Urge their own fate, and so prevent the fear.
Strange madness that, when Death pursu'd so fast,
T' anticipate the blow with impious haste.
No decent honours to their urns are paid,
Nor cou'd the graves receive the num'rous dead;
For, or they lay unbury'd on the ground,
Or unadorn'd a needy fun'ral found:
All rev'rence past, the fainting wretches fight
For fun'ral piles which were another's right.
Unmourn'd they fall: for, who surviv'd to mourn?
And sires, and mothers unlamented burn:
Parents, and sons sustain an equal fate,
And wand'ring ghosts their kindred shadows meet.
The dead a larger space of ground require,
Nor are the trees sufficient for the fire.
Despairing under grief's oppressive weight,
And sunk by these tempestuous blasts of Fate,
O Jove, said I, if common fame says true,
If e'er Aegina gave those joys to you,
If e'er you lay enclos'd in her embrace,
Fond of her charms, and eager to possess;
O father, if you do not yet disclaim
Paternal care, nor yet disown the name;
Grant my petitions, and with speed restore
My subjects num'rous as they were before,
Or make me partner of the fate they bore.
I spoke, and glorious lightning shone around,
And ratling thunder gave a prosp'rous sound;
So let it be, and may these omens prove
A pledge, said I, of your returning love.
By chance a rev'rend oak was near the place,
Sacred to Jove, and of Dodona's race,
Where frugal ants laid up their winter meat,
Whose little bodies bear a mighty weight:
We saw them march along, and hide their store,
And much admir'd their number, and their pow'r;
Admir'd at first, but after envy'd more.
Full of amazement, thus to Jove I pray'd,
O grant, since thus my subjects are decay'd,
As many subjects to supply the dead.
I pray'd, and strange convulsions mov'd the oak,
Which murmur'd, tho' by ambient winds unshook:
My trembling hands, and stiff-erected hair,
Exprest all tokens of uncommon fear;
Yet both the earth and sacred oak I kist,
And scarce cou'd hope, yet still I hop'd the best;
For wretches, whatsoe'er the Fates divine,
Expound all omens to their own design.
But now 'twas night, when ev'n distraction wears
A pleasing look, and dreams beguile our cares,
Lo! the same oak appears before my eyes,
No Eyes to Kiss
It is sad when love dissipates
In a cruel, sunless season;
When sympathy ceases
And kind hearts become stone;
When a man is separated from family
And wanders alone.
I fear the days
When there will be
No eyes to kiss
And inner, hopeful vision
One has to embrace someone
From a place of genuine tenderness
Before he becomes a breathing corpse
Awaiting his flowerless grave.
Until Suitable Rescue Has Been Achieved
So it is 'not' quicksand!
And this is my interpretation...
It is a de-elevation,
Of a resettling horizon.
And the vertical descending,
Is to keep one's faith...
In the restoration of hope.
And any observation to the contrary...
Is to be ignored until suitable rescue has been achieved.'
Should I make that announcement 'now'?
Or when suitable rescue has been achieved?
'It is still too premature to assess the situation.
Let's get to the bottom of this first,
Before any decision is made that may be cause for alarm.'
Not a Sight For the Weak
An obsession that has addicted...
With traditions held thick,
With desires and things to aspire and climb...
Higher to obtain those symbolic dreams.
And a dripping of teases to attach and cling...
To a love for toys!
And entertainment needs.
Has descended upon the people...
That brings an economy to its knees.
This greed has fed generations,
To depend on things to hoard.
Things to establish a standard lived...
For all to score luxurious rewards,
While those fighting in troubled wars...
Are the ones who should receive,
Such accolades and applause that greets.
Suffer they today from conflicts and sefishness.
From an evil corruption taught.
Just to obtain a slice that pieces an ego to feel,
Accepted and complete.
A deceiving sought...
That depletes their pockets.
And this conformity to be like one's neighbor...
Has brought entire cities and states to the floor.
Slamming the doors where they labored.
To unite together in a massive state of denial!
Still this has them fantasized and deluded.
A demoralized society once revered now begs.
With hopes to prolong their decadent ways...
In stubborn mindsets that dreads,
In fear to cause anguish and weeping.
Even though their pleas will not soon see them retreat,
From the glares they give to the homelessness...
Ignored and left,
Unaddressed as one would do to pests.
This leaves a sea of stunned faces...
Bracing together in chilling air.
Standing in lines on streets they abandoned,
Back during the times they fled to flea 'minorities'.
When their eyes would dismiss,
Those helpless and hungry,
Those now prioritized...
To be the first to be served to eat!
And this upsets,
Those who were accustomed...
To sniffing their upturned noses,
As they passed those distressed.
While observing the changes,
Of what has come.
To have sit on their shoulders,
With bitterness to weight on bended backs.
And try hard to hide their pride and tears.
Reminiscing a greed...
With a reality close and now feared.
And much too near to their pretensions.
To express digressions obsessed with love.
Is not a sight for the weak.
They have chosen to standby their values!
And what they valued has them living their lives lived bleak.
With a hope that something recognizable returns...
For an evaluation to be given and kept on their terms.
But the motivating of negotiation days have been fading.
Long before they waited in impatience to debate.
In an openness that lifts voices screaming.
And faces tormented with mental illness...
That is too real, to fake or smother one's heartbreak.
Is in the vision!
The bright blessed day with joy we see
The bright blessed day with joy we see
Rise out of the sea at dawning;
It lightens the sky unceasingly,
Our gain and delight adorning!
As children of light we sense that soon
Dark night will give way to morning!
Our Lord chose the blessed midnight hour
To come down without our knowing,
Then clear in the east in dawn’s pale bower
The sun’s hues in strength were growing:
Then light filled the sky, in which the earth
Shall shimmer with inner glowing!
Were each forest tree to come alive,
And each leaf a voice be granted,
The law of God’s mercy they’d contrive
In vain in words to have chanted;
Since Life’s Light now shines for ever more,
In old and young firmly planted!
Yea, though every blade of grass could speak,
In meadow or field or clearing,
A thanksgiving hymn they could not seek
To sing for our human hearing,
Befitting the day, for light and life,
While eons their course are steering.
In vain would the weak man try who chose
To conquer the mountain summit,
The eagle is wily, though, and knows
The wind will not let it plummet,
And even the small blithe lark can brave
The sky and yet overcome it.
The river so brash with thund’rous noise
From crag-face comes downwards crashing
The streams down below have no such voice,
Though murmur with gentle plashing,
So gently they wind through grassy lea
Up under the lime trees splashing!
So thank we our God, our father good,
As larks in their dawn-time chorus,
For each day he gave, as so we should
For life he from death won for us,
For all that has nurtured human souls
For thousands of years before us!
As long as we see the golden day,
And woods are the Danes’ own bowers,
We’ll deck every pew with sprigs of may
And forefathers’ graves with flowers
A wonderful feast of life and joy,
A Whitsuntide gift that’s ours!
And then from our eyes will start to flow
Mild tears like a stream now thriving,
And streams join and to a river grow
That fain for Life’s Source is striving
It secretly gains, like some deep sigh,
So early yet late arriving!
And no day can have so long a growth
That evening cannot be sighted,
Its light and its setting sun are both
What God in his church has lighted;
But ever again it dawns anew
For hearts who in morn delighted!
Let day gently glide this Whitsuntide,
With haloing rays full-flashing!
The hours pleasing God as past they slide,
As meadowland stream soft-plashing,
So joyously now the last one winds,
Up under the lime trees splashing!
Like gold is the dawn just moments old,
When day from its death is rising,
Yet we too are kissed with lips of gold
By sunset so sweet-enticing,
Then every dull gaze will glint afresh,
Pale cheeks with new blush surprising!
We’ll journey then to our fatherland,
Where no day lies still thereafter,
Where stands a strong castle, proud and grand,
Whose halls all resound with laughter,
And there we will talk till time is done
In light with our friends hereafter!
Dead Man's Dump
The plunging limbers over the shattered track
Racketed with their rusty freight,
Stuck out like many crowns of thorns,
And the rusty stakes like sceptres old
To stay the flood of brutish men
Upon our brothers dear.
The wheels lurched over sprawled dead
But pained them not, though their bones crunched,
Their shut mouths made no moan.
They lie there huddled, friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them
From night till night and now.
Earth has waited for them,
All the time of their growth
Fretting for their decay:
Now she has them at last!
In the strength of their strength
Suspended--stopped and held.
What fierce imaginings their dark souls lit?
Earth! have they gone into you!
Somewhere they must have gone,
And flung on your hard back
Is their soul's sack
Emptied of God-ancestralled essences.
Who hurled them out? Who hurled?
None saw their spirits' shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.
What of us who, flung on the shrieking pyre,
Walk, our usual thoughts untouched,
Our lucky limbs as on ichor fed,
Immortal seeming ever?
Perhaps when the flames beat loud on us,
A fear may choke in our veins
And the startled blood may stop.
The air is loud with death,
The dark air spurts with fire,
The explosions ceaseless are.
Timelessly now, some minutes past,
Those dead strode time with vigorous life,
Till the shrapnel called `An end!'
But not to all. In bleeding pangs
Some borne on stretchers dreamed of home,
Dear things, war-blotted from their hearts.
Maniac Earth! howling and flying, your bowel
Seared by the jagged fire, the iron love,
The impetuous storm of savage love.
Dark Earth! dark Heavens! swinging in chemic smoke,
What dead are born when you kiss each soundless soul
With lightning and thunder from your mined heart,
Which man's self dug, and his blind fingers loosed?
A man's brains splattered on
A stretcher-bearer's face;
His shook shoulders slipped their load,
But when they bent to look again
The drowning soul was sunk too deep
For human tenderness.
They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.
Burnt black by strange decay
Their sinister faces lie,
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motion have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.
Here is one not long dead;
His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.
Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hoofs of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight.
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face.
An Indian Giver is known as one who would give you something then take it back
The term came to be many years ago through some misunderstandings to be exact
Under normal circumstances I would not call myself an Indian Giver ‘cause I’m really not that way
But I have to say that I’m an Indian Giver now because I’m taking back something I gave away
I gave away something I shouldn’t have to someone many years ago that belonged only to me
That thing that I gave away so long ago to someone it didn’t belong to, was my own personal identity
I gave it away when I accepted their view of me, my life, what I do, where I go and who I spend my time with
But my identity was given to me by God who created me and gave me identity as a gift
It began when an event took place in my life that they didn’t approve of and said things that broke my heart
As the years have come and gone away, things they say to and about me seem to tear me apart
You see, I started seeking their approval for everything I did always concerned about what they thought
Then when they did not approve of something I did, I began to beat up on myself a whole lot
It was like if they didn’t approve then what I was doing was somehow wrong or bad in some kind of way
God would even tell me the outcome if I shared it with them, but I would share things with them anyway
As time went by things got worse ‘cause I got angry if I felt they were passing judgment on me
Instead of calmly telling them that I didn’t receive their judgment I became more bound rather than free
It’s a shame that things have to get so bad before we make a decision to do something about them
Then we run to God in prayer wanting Him to do something ‘cause we know we can’t do anything without Him
If we had gone to God in prayer at first instead of going through years of self destruction
We could have avoided a lot of grief, pain, anger and sleep, not to mention our destiny’s interruption
When you allow rejection, judgment and condemnation to come in, you give away your identity
When it is God who created you to be who and the way you are, and if anyone is to judge it is He
No one else has a Heaven or Hell to place you in, nor does anyone have a right to control you
But, when their thoughts, opinions, judgments and negativity get you out of character, that’s exactly what they do
The sooner you realize what has taken place in your life to cause you so much hurt
The process of healing can begin to make you whole and put satan under your feet in the dirt
You see, rejection, low self-esteem, fear of man and deep hurt are all spirits invoked by the enemy
They’re strategically designed to steal your joy, kill your dreams and destroy your vision so you can’t see
The devil will pull out all stops to get you, including using people at church, work, family and close friends
When he sees what buttons affect you and distort your true character, he’ll use them again and again
We’ve been sent as sheep in the midst of wolves so we must be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves
This is not always an easy thing to do, so we must constantly be in communication with our Heavenly Father above
With His help we will overcome the wiles of the devil, we will be whole and our blessings will flow like a river
As we take back what rightfully belongs to us, our God-given identity, when we become an Indian Giver
On Mr. Howard's Account Of Lazarettos
Mortal! who, armed with holy fortitude,
The path of good right onward hast pursued;
May HE, to whose eternal throne on high
The sufferers of the earth with anguish cry,
Be thy protector! On that dreary road
That leads thee patient to the last abode
Of wretchedness, in peril and in pain,
May HE thy steps direct, thy heart sustain!
'Mid scenes, where pestilence in darkness flies;
In caverns, where deserted misery lies;
So safe beneath His shadow thou may'st go,
To cheer the dismal wastes of human woe.
O CHARITY! our helpless nature's pride,
Thou friend to him who knows no friend beside,
Is there in morning's breath, or the sweet gale
That steals o'er the tired pilgrim of the vale,
Cheering with fragrance fresh his weary frame,
Aught like the incense of thy sacred flame?
Is aught in all the beauties that adorn
The azure heaven, or purple lights of morn;
Is aught so fair in evening's lingering gleam,
As from thine eye the meek and pensive beam
That falls like saddest moonlight on the hill
And distant grove, when the wide world is still!
Thine are the ample views, that unconfined
Stretch to the utmost walks of human kind:
Thine is the spirit that with widest plan
Brother to brother binds, and man to man.
But who for thee, O Charity! will bear
Hardship, and cope with peril and with care!
Who, for thy sake, will social sweets forego
For scenes of sickness, and the sights of woe!
Who, for thy sake, will seek the prison's gloom,
Where ghastly Guilt implores her lingering doom;
Where Penitence unpitied sits, and pale,
That never told to human ears her tale;
Where Agony, half-famished, cries in vain;
Where dark Despondence murmurs o'er her chain;
Where gaunt Disease is wasted to the bone,
And hollow-eyed Despair forgets to groan!
Approving Mercy marks the vast design,
And proudly cries--HOWARD, the task be thine!
Already 'mid the darksome vaults profound,
The inner prison deep beneath the ground,
Consoling hath thy tender look appeared:
In horror's realm the voice of peace is heard!
Be the sad scene disclosed; fearless unfold
The grating door--the inmost cell behold!
Thought shrinks from the dread sight; the paly lamp
Burns faint amid the infectious vapours damp;
Beneath its light full many a livid mien,
And haggard eye-ball, through the dusk are seen.
In thought I see thee, at each hollow sound,
With humid lids oft anxious gaze around.
But oh! for him who, to yon vault confined,
Has bid a long farewell to human kind;
His wasted form, his cold and bloodless cheek,
A tale of sadder sorrow seem to speak:
Of friends, perhaps now mingled with the dead;
Of hope, that, like a faithless flatterer, fled
In the utmost hour of need; or of a son
Cast to the bleak world's mercy; or of one
Whose heart was broken, when the stern behest
Tore him from pale affection's bleeding breast.
Despairing, from his cold and flinty bed,
With fearful muttering he has raised his head:
What pitying spirit, what unwonted guest,
Strays to this last retreat, these shades unblest?
From life and light shut out, beneath this cell
Long have I bid the cheering sun farewell.
I heard for ever closed the jealous door,
I marked my bed on the forsaken floor,
I had no hope on earth, no human friend:
Let me unpitied to the dust descend!
Cold is his frozen heart--his eye is reared
To Heaven no more--and on his sable beard
The tear has ceased to fall. Thou canst not bring
Back to his mournful heart the morn of spring;--
Thou canst not bid the rose of health renew
Upon his wasted cheek its crimson hue;
But at thy look, (ere yet to hate resigned,
He murmurs his last curses on mankind),
At thy kind look one tender thought shall rise,
And his full soul shall thank thee ere he dies!
Oh ye, who list to Pleasure's vacant song,
As in her silken train ye troop along;
Who, like rank cowards, from affliction fly,
Or, whilst the precious hours of life pass by,
Lie slumbering in the sun! Awake, arise,
To these instructive pictures turn your eyes;
The awful view with other feelings scan,
And learn from HOWARD what man owes to man!
These, Virtue! are thy triumphs, that adorn
Fitliest our nature, and bespeak us born
For loftier action; not to gaze and run
From clime to clime; nor flutter in the sun,
Dragging a droning flight from flower to flower,
Like summer insects in a gaudy hour;
Nor yet o'er love-sick tales with fancy range,
And cry--'Tis pitiful, 'tis wondrous strange!
But on life's varied views to look around,
And raise expiring sorrow from the ground:--
And he who thus has borne his part assigned
In the sad fellowship of human kind,
Or for a moment soothed the bitter pain
Of a poor brother, has not lived in vain!
But 'tis not that Compassion should bestow
An unavailing tear on want or woe:
Lo! fairer Order rises from thy plan,
Befriending virtue, and adorning man.
That Comfort cheers the dark abode of pain,
Where wan Disease prayed for relief in vain;
That Mercy soothes the hard behest of law;
That Misery smiles upon her bed of straw;
That the dark felon's clan no more, combined,
Murmur in murderous leagues against mankind;
That to each cell, a mild yet mournful guest,
Contrition comes, and calms the laboring breast,
Whilst long-forgotten tears of virtue flow;
Thou, generous friend of all--to thee we owe!
To thee, that Pity sees her views expand
To many a cheerless haunt, and distant land!
Whilst warm Philanthropy extends her ray,
Wide as the world, and general as the day!
HOWARD! I view those deeds, and think how vain
The triumphs of weak man, the feeble strain
That Flattery brings to Conquest's crimson car,
Amid the bannered host, and the proud tents of war!
From realm to realm the hideous War-fiend hies
Wide o'er the wasted earth; before him flies
Affright, on pinions fleeter than the wind;
Whilst Death and Desolation fast behind
The havoc of his echoing march pursue:
Meantime his steps are bathed in the warm dew
Of bloodshed, and of tears;--but his dread name
Shall perish--the loud clarion of his fame
One day shall cease, and, wrapt in hideous gloom,
Forgetfulness bestride his shapeless tomb!
But bear thou fearless on;--the God of all,
To whom the afflicted kneel, the friendless call,
From His high throne of mercy shall approve
The holy deeds of Mercy and of Love:
For when the vanities of life's brief day
Oblivion's hurrying wing shall sweep away,
Each act by Charity and Mercy done,
High o'er the wrecks of time, shall live alone,
Immortal as the heavens, and beauteous bloom
To other worlds, and realms beyond the tomb.
At The Gate
THE monastery towers, as pure and fair
As virgin vows, reached up white hands to Heaven;
The walls, to guard the hidden heart of prayer,
Were strong as sin, and white as sin forgiven;
And there came holy men, by world's woe driven;
And all about the gold-green meadows lay
Flower-decked, like children dear that keep May-holiday.
'Here,' said the Abbot, 'let us spend our days,
Days sweetened by the lilies of pure prayer,
Hung with white garlands of the rose of praise;
And, lest the World should enter with her snare--
Enter and laugh and take us unaware
With her red rose, her purple and her gold--
Choose we a stranger's hand the porter's keys to hold.'
They chose a beggar from the world outside
To keep their worldward door for them, and he,
Filled with a humble and adoring pride,
Built up a wall of proud humility
Between the monastery's sanctity
And the poor, foolish, humble folk who came
To ask for love and care, in the dear Saviour's name.
For when the poor crept to the guarded gate
To ask for succour, when the tired asked rest,
When weary souls, bereft and desolate,
Craved comfort, when the murmur of the oppressed
Surged round the grove where prayer had made her nest,
The porter bade such take their griefs away,
And at some other door their bane and burden lay.
'For this,' he said, 'is the white house of prayer,
Where day and night the holy voices rise
Through the chill trouble of our earthly air,
And enter at the gate of Paradise.
Trample no more our flower-fields in such wise,
Nor crave the alms of our deep-laden bough;
The prayers of holy men are alms enough, I trow.'
So, seeing that no sick or sorrowing folk
Came ever to be healed or comforted,
The Abbot to his brothers gladly spoke:
'God has accepted our poor prayers,' he said;
'Over our land His answering smile is spread.
He has put forth His strong and loving hand,
And sorrow and sin and pain have ceased in all the land.
'So make we yet more rich our hymns of praise,
Warm we our prayers against our happy heart.
Since God hath taken the gift of all our days
To make a spell that bids all wrong depart,
Has turned our praise to balm for the world's smart,
Fulfilled of prayer and praise be every hour,
For God transfigures praise, and transmutes prayer, to power.'
So went the years. The flowers blossomed now
Untrampled by the dusty, weary feet;
Unbroken hung the green and golden bough,
For none came now to ask for fruit or meat,
For ghostly food, or common bread to eat;
And dreaming, praying, the monks were satisfied,
Till, God remembering him, the beggar-porter died.
When they had covered up the foolish head,
And on the foolish loving heart heaped clay,
'Which of us, brothers, now,' the Abbot said,
'Will face the world, to keep the world away?'
But all their hearts were hard with prayer, and 'Nay,'
They cried, 'ah, bid us not our prayers to leave;
Ah, father, not to-day, for this is Easter Eve'.
And, while they murmured, to their midst there came
A beggar saying, 'Brothers, peace, be still!
I am your Brother, in our Father's name,
And I will be your porter, if ye will,
Guarding your gate with what I have of skill'.
So all they welcomed him and closed the door,
And gat them gladly back unto their prayers once more.
But, lo! no sooner did the prayer arise,
A golden flame athwart the chancel dim,
Then came the porter crying, 'Haste, arise!
A sick old man waits you to tend on him;
And many wait--a knight whose wound gapes grim,
A red-stained man, with red sins to confess,
A mother pale, who brings her child for you to bless'.
The brothers hastened to the gate, and there
With unaccustomed hand and voice they tried
To ease the body's pain, the spirit's care;
But ere the task was done, the porter cried:
'Behold, the Lord sets your gate open wide,
For here be starving folk who must be fed,
And little ones that cry for love and daily bread!'
And, with each slow-foot hour, came ever a throng
Of piteous wanderers, sinful folk and sad,
And still the brothers ministered, but long
The day seemed, with no prayer to make them glad;
No holy, meditative joys they had,
No moment's brooding-place could poor prayer find,
Mid all those heart to heal and all those wounds to bind.
And when the crowded, sunlit day at last
Left the field lonely with its trampled flowers,
Into the chapel's peace the brothers passed
To quell the memory of those hurrying hours.
'Our holy time,' they said, 'once more is ours!
Come, let us pay our debt of prayer and praise,
Forgetting in God's light the darkness of man's ways!'
But, ere their voices reached the first psalm's end,
They heard a new, strange rustling round their house;
Then came the porter: 'Here comes many a friend,
Pushing aside your budding orchard boughs;
Come, brothers, justify your holy vows.
Here be God's patient, poor, four-footed things
Seek healing at God's well, whence loving-kindness springs.'
Then cried the Abbot in a vexed amaze,
'Our brethren we must aid, if 'tis God's will;
But the wild creatures of the forest ways
Himself God heals with His Almighty skill.
And charity is good, and love--but still
God shall not look in vain for the white prayers
We send on silver feet to climb the starry stairs;
'For, of all worthy things, prayer has most worth,
It rises like sweet incense up to heaven,
And from God's hand falls back upon the earth,
Being of heavenly bread the accepted leaven.
Through prayer is virtue saved and sin forgiven;
In prayer the impulse and the force are found
That bring in purple and gold the fruitful seasons round.
'For prayer comes down from heaven in the sun
That giveth life and joy to all things made;
Prayer falls in rain to make broad rivers run
And quickens the seeds in earth's brown bosom laid;
By prayer the red-hung branch is earthward weighed,
By prayer the barn grows full, and full the fold,
For by man's prayer God works his wonders manifold.'
The porter seemed to bow to the reproof;
But when the echo of the night's last prayer
Died in the mystery of the vaulted roof,
A whispered memory in the hallowed air,
The Abbot turned to find him standing there.
'Brother,' he said, 'I have healed the woodland things
And they go happy and whole--blessing Love's ministerings,
'And, having healed them, I shall crave your leave
To leave you--for to-night I journey far.
But I have kept your gate this Easter Eve,
And now your house to heaven shines like a star
To show the Angels where God's children are;
And in this day your house has served God more
Than in the praise and prayer of all its years before.
'Yet I must leave you, though I fain would stay,
For there are other gates I go to keep
Of houses round whose walls, long day by day,
Shut out of hope and love, poor sinners weep--
Barred folds that keep out God's poor wandering sheep--
I must teach these that gates where God comes in
Must not be shut at all to pain, or want, or sin.
'The voice of prayer is very soft and weak,
And sorrow and sin have voices very strong;
Prayer is not heard in heaven when those twain speak,
The voice of prayer faints in the voice of wrong
By the just man endured--oh, Lord, how long?--
If ye would have your prayers in heaven be heard,
Look that wrong clamour not with too intense a word.
'But when true love is shed on want and sin,
Their cry is changed, and grows to such a voice
As clamours sweetly at heaven to be let in--
Such sound as makes the saints in heaven rejoice;
Pure gold of prayer, purged of the vain alloys
Of idleness--that is the sound most dear
Of all the earthly sounds God leans from heaven to hear.
'Oh, brother, I must leave thee, and for me
The work is heavy, and the burden great.
Thine be this charge I lay upon thee: See
That never again stands barred thy abbey gate;
Look that God's poor be not left desolate;
Ah me! that chidden my shepherds needs must be
When my poor wandering sheep have so great need of me.
'Brother, forgive thy Brother if he chide,
Thy Brother loves thee--and has loved--for see
The nails are in my hands, and in my side
The spear-wound; and the thorns weigh heavily
Upon my brow--brother, I died for thee--
For thee, and for my sheep that are astray,
And rose to live for thee, and them, on Easter Day!'
'My Master and my Lord!' the Abbot cried.
But, where that face had been, shone the new day;
Only on the marble by the Abbot's side,
Where those dear feet had stood, a lily lay--
A lily white for the white Easter Day.
He sought the gate--no sorrow clamoured there--
And, not till then, he dared to sink his soul in prayer.
And from that day himself he kept the gate
Wide open; and the poor from far and wide,
The weary, and wicked, and disconsolate,
Came there for succour and were not denied;
The sick were healed, the repentant sanctified;
And from their hearts rises more prayer and praise
Than ever the abbey knew in all its prayer-filled days.
And there the Heavenly vision comes no more,
Only, each Easter now, a lily sweet
Lies white and dewy on the chancel floor
Where once had stood the beloved wounded feet;
And the old Abbot feels the nearing beat
Of wings that bring him leave at last to go
And meet his Master, where the immortal lilies grow.
Julian and Maddalo (excerpt)
I rode one evening with Count Maddalo
Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow
Of Adria towards Venice: a bare strand
Of hillocks, heap'd from ever-shifting sand,
Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds,
Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds,
Is this; an uninhabited sea-side,
Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried,
Abandons; and no other object breaks
The waste, but one dwarf tree and some few stakes
Broken and unrepair'd, and the tide makes
A narrow space of level sand thereon,
Where 'twas our wont to ride while day went down.
This ride was my delight. I love all waste
And solitary places; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be:
And such was this wide ocean, and this shore
More barren than its billows; and yet more
Than all, with a remember'd friend I love
To ride as then I rode; for the winds drove
The living spray along the sunny air
Into our faces; the blue heavens were bare,
Stripp'd to their depths by the awakening north;
And, from the waves, sound like delight broke forth
Harmonizing with solitude, and sent
Into our hearts aëreal merriment.
So, as we rode, we talk'd; and the swift thought,
Winging itself with laughter, linger'd not,
But flew from brain to brain--such glee was ours,
Charg'd with light memories of remember'd hours,
None slow enough for sadness: till we came
Homeward, which always makes the spirit tame.
This day had been cheerful but cold, and now
The sun was sinking, and the wind also.
Our talk grew somewhat serious, as may be
Talk interrupted with such raillery
As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn
The thoughts it would extinguish: 'twas forlorn,
Yet pleasing, such as once, so poets tell,
The devils held within the dales of Hell
Concerning God, freewill and destiny:
Of all that earth has been or yet may be,
All that vain men imagine or believe,
Or hope can paint or suffering may achieve,
We descanted, and I (for ever still
Is it not wise to make the best of ill?)
Argu'd against despondency, but pride
Made my companion take the darker side.
The sense that he was greater than his kind
Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind
By gazing on its own exceeding light.
Meanwhile the sun paus'd ere it should alight,
Over the horizon of the mountains--Oh,
How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
Of Heaven descends upon a land like thee,
Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!
Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the towers
Of cities they encircle! It was ours
To stand on thee, beholding it: and then,
Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men
Were waiting for us with the gondola.
As those who pause on some delightful way
Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood
Looking upon the evening, and the flood
Which lay between the city and the shore,
Pav'd with the image of the sky.... The hoar
And aëry Alps towards the North appear'd
Through mist, an heaven-sustaining bulwark rear'd
Between the East and West; and half the sky
Was roof'd with clouds of rich emblazonry
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
Down the steep West into a wondrous hue
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
Where the swift sun yet paus'd in his descent
Among the many-folded hills: they were
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
As seen from Lido thro' the harbour piles,
The likeness of a clump of peakèd isles--
And then--as if the Earth and Sea had been
Dissolv'd into one lake of fire, were seen
Those mountains towering as from waves of flame
Around the vaporous sun, from which there came
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made
Their very peaks transparent. "Ere it fade,"
Said my companion, "I will show you soon
A better station"--so, o'er the lagune
We glided; and from that funereal bark
I lean'd, and saw the city, and could mark
How from their many isles, in evening's gleam,
Its temples and its palaces did seem
Like fabrics of enchantment pil'd to Heaven.
I was about to speak, when--"We are even
Now at the point I meant," said Maddalo,
And bade the gondolieri cease to row.
"Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well
If you hear not a deep and heavy bell."
I look'd, and saw between us and the sun
A building on an island; such a one
As age to age might add, for uses vile,
A windowless, deform'd and dreary pile;
And on the top an open tower, where hung
A bell, which in the radiance sway'd and swung;
We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue:
The broad sun sunk behind it, and it toll'd
In strong and black relief. "What we behold
Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,"
Said Maddalo, "and ever at this hour
Those who may cross the water, hear that bell
Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell,
To vespers." "As much skill as need to pray
In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they
To their stern Maker," I replied. "O ho!
You talk as in years past," said Maddalo.
" 'Tis strange men change not. You were ever still
Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel,
A wolf for the meek lambs--if you can't swim
Beware of Providence." I look'd on him,
But the gay smile had faded in his eye.
"And such," he cried, "is our mortality,
And this must be the emblem and the sign
Of what should be eternal and divine!
And like that black and dreary bell, the soul,
Hung in a heaven-illumin'd tower, must toll
Our thoughts and our desires to meet below
Round the rent heart and pray--as madmen do
For what? they know not--till the night of death,
As sunset that strange vision, severeth
Our memory from itself, and us from all
We sought and yet were baffled." I recall
The sense of what he said, although I mar
The force of his expressions. The broad star
Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill,
And the black bell became invisible,
And the red tower look'd gray, and all between
The churches, ships and palaces were seen
Huddled in gloom;--into the purple sea
The orange hues of heaven sunk silently.
We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola
Convey'd me to my lodgings by the way.
The following morn was rainy, cold and dim:
Ere Maddalo arose, I call'd on him,
And whilst I waited with his child I play'd;
A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made,
A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being,
Graceful without design and unforeseeing,
With eyes--Oh speak not of her eyes!--which seem
Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam
With such deep meaning, as we never see
But in the human countenance: with me
She was a special favourite: I had nurs'd
Her fine and feeble limbs when she came first
To this bleak world; and she yet seem'd to know
On second sight her ancient playfellow,
Less chang'd than she was by six months or so;
For after her first shyness was worn out
We sate there, rolling billiard balls about,
When the Count enter'd. Salutations past--
"The word you spoke last night might well have cast
A darkness on my spirit--if man be
The passive thing you say, I should not see
Much harm in the religions and old saws
(Though I may never own such leaden laws)
Which break a teachless nature to the yoke:
Mine is another faith"--thus much I spoke
And noting he replied not, added: "See
This lovely child, blithe, innocent and free;
She spends a happy time with little care,
While we to such sick thoughts subjected are
As came on you last night. It is our will
That thus enchains us to permitted ill.
We might be otherwise. We might be all
We dream of happy, high, majestical.
Where is the love, beauty, and truth we seek
But in our mind? and if we were not weak
Should we be less in deed than in desire?"
"Ay, if we were not weak--and we aspire
How vainly to be strong!" said Maddalo:
"You talk Utopia." "It remains to know,"
I then rejoin'd, "and those who try may find
How strong the chains are which our spirit bind;
Brittle perchance as straw.... We are assur'd
Much may be conquer'd, much may be endur'd,
Of what degrades and crushes us. We know
That we have power over ourselves to do
And suffer--what, we know not till we try;
But something nobler than to live and die:
So taught those kings of old philosophy
Who reign'd, before Religion made men blind;
And those who suffer with their suffering kind
Yet feel their faith, religion." "My dear friend,"
Said Maddalo, "my judgement will not bend
To your opinion, though I think you might
Make such a system refutation-tight
As far as words go. I knew one like you
Who to this city came some months ago,
With whom I argu'd in this sort, and he
Is now gone mad--and so he answer'd me--
Poor fellow! but if you would like to go
We'll visit him, and his wild talk will show
How vain are such aspiring theories."
"I hope to prove the induction otherwise,
And that a want of that true theory, still,
Which seeks a 'soul of goodness' in things ill
Or in himself or others, has thus bow'd
His being. There are some by nature proud,
Who patient in all else demand but this--
To love and be belov'd with gentleness;
And being scorn'd, what wonder if they die
Some living death? this is not destiny
But man's own wilful ill."
As thus I spoke
Servants announc'd the gondola, and we
Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea
Sail'd to the island where the madhouse stands.
Songs in Absence
Farewell, farewell! Her vans the vessel tries,
His iron might the potent engine plies:
Haste, winged words, and ere ’tis useless, tell,
Farewell, farewell, yet once again, farewell.
The docks, the streets, the houses past us fly,
Without a strain the great ship marches by;
Ye fleeting banks take up the words we tell,
And say for us yet once again, farewell.
The waters widen—on without a strain
The strong ship moves upon the open main;
She knows the seas, she hears the true waves swell,
She seems to say farewell, again farewell.
The billows whiten and the deep seas heave;
Fly once again, sweet words, to her I leave,
With winds that blow return, and seas that swell,
Farewell, farewell, say once again, farewell.
Fresh in my face and rippling to my feet
The winds and waves an answer soft repeat,
In sweet, sweet words far brought they seem to tell,
Farewell, farewell, yet once again, farewell.
Night gathers fast; adieu, thou fading shore!
The land we look for next must lie before;
Hence, foolish tears! weak thoughts, no more rebel,
Farewell, farewell, a last, a last farewell.
Yet not, indeed, ah not till more than sea
And more than space divide my love and me,
Till more than waves and winds between us swell,
Farewell, a last, indeed, a last farewell.
Ye flags of Piccadilly,
Where I posted up and down,
And wished myself so often
Well away from you and town,—
Are the people walking quietly
And steady on their feet,
Cabs and omnibuses plying
Just as usual in the street?
Do the houses look as upright
As of old they used to be,
And does nothing seem affected
By the pitching of the sea?
Through the Green Park iron railings
Do the quick pedestrians pass?
Are the little children playing
Round the plane-tree in the grass?
This squally wild north-wester
With which our vessel fights,
Does it merely serve with you to
Carry up some paper kites?
Ye flags of Piccadilly,
Which I hated so, I vow
I could wish with all my heart
You were underneath me now!
Come home, come home! and where is home for me,
Whose ship is driving o’er the trackless sea?
To the frail bark here plunging on its way,
To the wild waters, shall I turn and say
To the plunging bark, or to the salt sea foam,
You are my home.
Fields once I walked in, faces once I knew,
Familiar things so old my heart believed them true,
These far, far back, behind me lie, before
The dark clouds mutter, and the deep seas roar,
And speak to them that ’neath and o’er them roam
No words of home.
Beyond the clouds, beyond the waves that roar,
There may indeed, or may not be, a shore,
Where fields as green, and hands and hearts as true,
The old forgotten semblance may renew,
And offer exiles driven far o’er the salt sea foam
But toil and pain must wear out many a day,
And days bear weeks, and weeks bear months away,
Ere, if at all, the weary traveller hear,
With accents whispered in his wayworn ear,
A voice he dares to listen to, say, Come
To thy true home.
Come home, come home! and where a home hath he
Whose ship is driving o’er the driving sea?
Through clouds that mutter, and o’er waves that roar,
Say, shall we find, or shall we not, a shore
That is, as is not ship or ocean foam,
Indeed our home?
Green fields of England! wheresoe’er
Across this watery waste we fare,
Your image at our hearts we bear
Green fields of England, everywhere.
Sweet eyes in England, I must flee
Past where the waves’ last confines be,
Ere your loved smile I cease to see,
Sweet eyes in England, dear to me.
Dear home in England, safe and fast
If but in thee my lot lie cast,
The past shall seem a nothing past
To thee, dear home, if won at last;
Dear home in England, won at last.
Come back, come back, behold with straining mast
And swelling sail, behold her steaming fast;
With one new sun to see her voyage o’er,
With morning light to touch her native shore.
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back, while westward labouring by,
With sailless yards, a bare black hulk we fly.
See how the gale we fight with sweeps her back,
To our lost home, on our forsaken track.
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back, across the flying foam,
We hear faint far-off voices call us home,
Come back, ye seem to say; ye seek in vain;
We went, we sought, and homeward turned again.
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back; and whither back or why?
To fan quenched hopes, forsaken schemes to try;
Walk the old fields; pace the familiar street;
Dream with the idlers, with the bards compete.
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back; and whither and for what?
To finger idly some old Gordian knot,
Unskilled to sunder, and too weak to cleave,
And with much toil attain to half-believe.
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back; yea back, indeed, do go
Sighs panting thick, and tears that want to flow;
Fond fluttering hopes upraise their useless wings,
And wishes idly struggle in the strings;
Come back, come back.
Come back, come back, more eager than the breeze,
The flying fancies sweep across the seas,
And lighter far than ocean’s flying foam,
The heart’s fond message hurries to its home.
Come back, come back
Come back, come back!
Back flies the foam; the hoisted flag streams back;
The long smoke wavers on the homeward track,
Back fly with winds things which the winds obey,
The strong ship follows its appointed way.
Some future day when what is now is not,
When all old faults and follies are forgot,
And thoughts of difference passed like dreams away,
We’ll meet again, upon some future day.
When all that hindered, all that vexed our love,
As tall rank weeds will climb the blade above,
When all but it has yielded to decay,
We’ll meet again upon some future day.
When we have proved, each on his course alone,
The wider world, and learnt what’s now unknown,
Have made life clear, and worked out each a way,
We’ll meet again,—we shall have much to say.
With happier mood, and feelings born anew,
Our boyhood’s bygone fancies we’ll review,
Talk o’er old talks, play as we used to play,
And meet again, on many a future day.
Some day, which oft our hearts shall yearn to see,
In some far year, though distant yet to be,
Shall we indeed,—ye winds and waters, say!—
Meet yet again, upon some future day?
Where lies the land to which the ship would go?
Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away,
Far, far behind, is all that they can say.
On sunny noons upon the deck’s smooth face,
Linked arm in arm, how pleasant here to pace;
Or, o’er the stern reclining, watch below
The foaming wake far widening as we go.
On stormy nights when wild north-westers rave,
How proud a thing to fight with wind and wave!
The dripping sailor on the reeling mast
Exults to bear, and scorns to wish it past.
Where lies the land to which the ship would go?
Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away,
Far, far behind, is all that they can say.
The mighty ocean rolls and raves,
To part us with its angry waves;
But arch on arch from shore to shore,
In a vast fabric reaching o’er,
With careful labours daily wrought
By steady hope and tender thought,
The wide and weltering waste above—
Our hearts have bridged it with their love.
There fond anticipations fly
To rear the growing structure high;
Dear memories upon either side
Combine to make it large and wide.
There, happy fancies day by day,
New courses sedulously lay;
There soft solicitudes, sweet fears,
And doubts accumulate, and tears.
While the pure purpose of the soul,
To form of many parts a whole,
To make them strong and hold them true,
From end to end, is carried through.
Then when the waters war between,
Upon the masonry unseen,
Secure and swift, from shore to shore,
With silent footfall travelling o’er,
Our sundered spirits come and go.
Hither and thither, to and fro,
Pass and repass, now linger near,
Now part, anew to reappear.
With motions of a glad surprise,
We meet each other’s wondering eyes,
At work, at play, when people talk,
And when we sleep, and when we walk.
Each dawning day my eyelids see
You come, methinks, across to me,
And I, at every hour anew
Could dream I travelled o’er to you.
That out of sight is out of mind
Is true of most we leave behind;
It is not sure, nor can be true,
My own and only love, of you.
They were my friends, ’twas sad to part;
Almost a tear began to start;
But yet as things run on they find
That out of sight is out of mind.
For men, that will not idlers be,
Must lend their hearts to things they see;
And friends who leave them far behind,
When out of sight are out of mind.
I blame it not; I think that when
The cold and silent meet again,
Kind hearts will yet as erst be kind,
’Twas ‘out of sight,’ was ‘out of mind.’
I knew it when we parted, well,
I knew it, but was loth to tell;
I felt before, what now I find,
That ‘out of sight’ is ‘out of mind.’
That friends, however friends they were,
Still deal with things as things occur,
And that, excepting for the blind,
What’s out of sight is out of mind.
But love, the poets say, is blind;
So out of sight and out of mind
Need not, nor will, I think, be true,
My own and only love, of you.
Were you with me, or I with you,
There’s nought, methinks, I might not do;
Could venture here, and venture there,
And never fear, nor ever care.
To things before, and things behind,
Could turn my thoughts, and turn my mind,
On this and that, day after day,
Could dare to throw myself away.
Secure, when all was o’er, to find
My proper thought, my perfect mind,
And unimpaired receive anew
My own and better self in you.
Am I with you, or you with me?
Or in some blessed place above,
Where neither lands divide nor sea,
Are we united in our love?
Oft while in longing here I lie,
That wasting ever still endures;
My soul out from me seems to fly,
And half-way, somewhere, meet with yours.
Somewhere—but where I cannot guess—
Beyond, may be, the bound of space,
The liberated spirits press
And meet, bless heaven, and embrace.
It seems not either here nor there,
Somewhere between us up above,
A region of a clearer air,
The dwelling of a purer love.
Were I with you, or you with me,
My love, how happy should we be;
Day after day it is sad cheer
To have you there, while I am here.
My darling’s face I cannot see,
My darling’s voice is mute for me,
My fingers vainly seek the hair
Of her that is not here, but there.
In a strange land, to her unknown,
I sit and think of her alone;
And in that happy chamber where
We sat, she sits, nor has me there.
Yet still the happy thought recurs
That she is mine, as I am hers,
That she is there, as I am here,
And loves me, whether far or near.
The mere assurance that she lives
And loves me, full contentment gives;
I need not doubt, despond, or fear,
For, she is there, and I am here.
Were you with me, or I with you,
There’s nought methinks I could not do;
And nothing that, for your dear sake,
I might not dare to undertake.
With thousands standing by as fit,
More keen, perhaps more needing it,
To be the first some job to spy,
And jump and call out, Here am I!
O for one’s miserable self
To ask a pittance of the pelf,
To claim, however small, a share,
Which other men might think so fair:
It was not worth it! a first time
A thought upon it seemed a crime;
To stoop and pick the dirty pence,
A taint upon one’s innocence.
My own! with nothing sordid, base,
Or mean, we would our love disgrace;
Yet something I methinks could do,
Were you with me, or I with you:
Some misconstruction would sustain;
Count some humiliation gain;
Make unabashed a righteous claim,
And profess merit without shame:
Apply for service; day by day
Seek honest work for honest pay,
Without a fear by any toil
The over-cleanly hand to soil:
Secure in safety to return,
And every pettiness unlearn;
And unimpaired still find anew
My own and better self in you.
O ship, ship, ship,
That travellest over the sea,
What are the tidings, I pray thee,
Thou bearest hither to me?
Are they tidings of comfort and joy,
That shall make me seem to see
The sweet lips softly moving
And whispering love to me?
Or are they of trouble and grief,
Estrangement, sorrow, and doubt,
To turn into torture my hopes,
And drive me from Paradise out?
O ship, ship, ship,
That comest over the sea,
Whatever it be thou bringest,
Come quickly with it to me.
Old Pictures in Florence
The morn when first it thunders in March,
The eel in the pond gives a leap, they say:
As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch
Of the villa-gate this warm March day,
No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled
In the valley beneath where, white and wide
And washed by the morning water-gold,
Florence lay out on the mountain-side.
River and bridge and street and square
Lay mine, as much at my beck and call,
Through the live translucent bath of air,
As the sights in a magic crystal ball.
And of all I saw and of all I praised,
The most to praise and the best to see
Was the startling bell-tower Giotto raised:
But why did it more than startle me?
Giotto, how, with that soul of yours,
Could you play me false who loved you so?
Some slights if a certain heart endures
Yet it feels, I would have your fellows know!
I' faith, I perceive not why I should care
To break a silence that suits them best,
But the thing grows somewhat hard to bear
When I find a Giotto join the rest.
On the arch where olives overhead
Print the blue sky with twig and leaf,
(That sharp-curled leaf which they never shed)
'Twixt the aloes, I used to lean in chief,
And mark through the winter afternoons,
By a gift God grants me now and then,
In the mild decline of those suns like moons,
Who walked in Florence, besides her men.
They might chirp and chaffer, come and go
For pleasure or profit, her men alive—
My business was hardly with them, I trow,
But with empty cells of the human hive;
—With the chapter-room, the cloister-porch,
The church's apsis, aisle or nave,
Its crypt, one fingers along with a torch,
Its face set full for the sun to shave.
Wherever a fresco peels and drops,
Wherever an outline weakens and wanes
Till the latest life in the painting stops,
Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains:
One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick,
Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster,
—A lion who dies of an ass's kick,
The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.
For oh, this world and the wrong it does
They are safe in heaven with their backs to it,
The Michaels and Rafaels, you hum and buzz
Round the works of, you of the little wit!
Do their eyes contract to the earth's old scope,
Now that they see God face to face,
And have all attained to be poets, I hope?
'Tis their holiday now, in any case.
Much they reck of your praise and you!
But the wronged great souls—can they be quit
Of a world where their work is all to do,
Where you style them, you of the little wit,
Old Master This and Early the Other,
Not dreaming that Old and New are fellows:
A younger succeeds to an elder brother,
Da Vincis derive in good time from Dellos.
And here where your praise might yield returns,
And a handsome word or two give help,
Here, after your kind, the mastiff girns
And the puppy pack of poodles yelp.
What, not a word for Stefano there,
Of brow once prominent and starry,
Called Nature's Ape and the world's despair
For his peerless painting? (See Vasari.)
There stands the Master. Study, my friends,
What a man's work comes to! So he plans it,
Performs it, perfects it, makes amends
For the toiling and moiling, and then, sic transit!
Happier the thrifty blind-folk labour,
With upturned eye while the hand is busy,
Not sidling a glance at the coin of their neighbour!
'Tis looking downward that makes one dizzy.
"If you knew their work you would deal your dole."
May I take upon me to instruct you?
When Greek Art ran and reached the goal,
Thus much had the world to boast in fructu—
The Truth of Man, as by God first spoken,
Which the actual generations garble,
Was re-uttered, and Soul (which Limbs betoken)
And Limbs (Soul informs) made new in marble.
So, you saw yourself as you wished you were,
As you might have been, as you cannot be;
Earth here, rebuked by Olympus there:
And grew content in your poor degree
With your little power, by those statues' godhead,
And your little scope, by their eyes' full sway,
And your little grace, by their grace embodied,
And your little date, by their forms that stay.
You would fain be kinglier, say, than I am?
Even so, you will not sit like Theseus.
You would prove a model? The Son of Priam
Has yet the advantage in arms' and knees' use.
You're wroth—can you slay your snake like Apollo?
You're grieved—still Niobe's the grander!
You live—there's the Racers' frieze to follow:
You die—there's the dying Alexander.
So, testing your weakness by their strength,
Your meagre charms by their rounded beauty,
Measured by Art in your breadth and length,
You learned—to submit is a mortal's duty.
—When I say "you" 'tis the common soul,
The collective, I mean: the race of Man
That receives life in parts to live in a whole,
And grow here according to God's clear plan.
Growth came when, looking your last on them all,
You turned your eyes inwardly one fine day
And cried with a start—What if we so small
Be greater and grander the while than they?
Are they perfect of lineament, perfect of stature?
In both, of such lower types are we
Precisely because of our wider nature;
For time, theirs—ours, for eternity.
To-day's brief passion limits their range;
It seethes with the morrow for us and more.
They are perfect—how else? they shall never change:
We are faulty—why not? we have time in store.
The Artificer's hand is not arrested
With us; we are rough-hewn, nowise polished:
They stand for our copy, and, once invested
With all they can teach, we shall see them abolished.
'Tis a life-long toil till our lump be leaven—
The better! What's come to perfection perishes.
Things learned on earth, we shall practise in heaven:
Works done least rapidly, Art most cherishes.
Thyself shalt afford the example, Giotto!
Thy one work, not to decrease or diminish,
Done at a stroke, was just (was it not?) "O!"
Thy great Campanile is still to finish.
Is it true that we are now, and shall be hereafter,
But what and where depend on life's minute?
Hails heavenly cheer or infernal laughter
Our first step out of the gulf or in it?
Shall Man, such step within his endeavour,
Man's face, have no more play and action
Than joy which is crystallized for ever,
Or grief, an eternal petrifaction?
On which I conclude, that the early painters,
To cries of "Greek Art and what more wish you?"—
Replied, "To become now self-acquainters,
"And paint man man, whatever the issue!
"Make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray,
"New fears aggrandize the rags and tatters:
"To bring the invisible full into play!
"Let the visible go to the dogs—what matters?"
Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory
For daring so much, before they well did it.
The first of the new, in our race's story,
Beats the last of the old; 'tis no idle quiddit.
The worthies began a revolution,
Which if on earth you intend to acknowledge,
Why, honour them now! (ends my allocution)
Nor confer your degree when the folk leave college.
There's a fancy some lean to and others hate—
That, when this life is ended, begins
New work for the soul in another state,
Where it strives and gets weary, loses and wins:
Where the strong and the weak, this world's congeries,
Repeat in large what they practised in small,
Through life after life in unlimited series;
Only the scale's to be changed, that's all.
Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen
By the means of Evil that Good is best,
And, through earth and its noise, what is heaven's serene,—
When our faith in the same has stood the test—
Why, the child grown man, you burn the rod,
The uses of labour are surely done;
There remaineth a rest for the people of God:
And I have had troubles enough, for one.
But at any rate I have loved the season
Of Art's spring-birth so dim and dewy;
My sculptor is Nicolo the Pisan,
My painter—who but Cimabue?
Nor ever was man of them all indeed,
From these to Ghiberti and Ghirlandaio,
Could say that he missed my critic-meed.
So, now to my special grievance—heigh ho!
Their ghosts still stand, as I said before,
Watching each fresco flaked and rasped,
Blocked up, knocked out, or whitewashed o'er:
—No getting again what the church has grasped!
The works on the wall must take their chance;
"Works never conceded to England's thick clime!"
(I hope they prefer their inheritance
Of a bucketful of Italian quick-lime.)
When they go at length, with such a shaking
Of heads o'er the old delusion, sadly
Each master his way through the black streets taking,
Where many a lost work breathes though badly—
Why don't they bethink them of who has merited?
Why not reveal, while their pictures dree
Such doom, how a captive might be out-ferreted?
Why is it they never remember me?
Not that I expect the great Bigordi,
Nor Sandro to hear me, chivalric, bellicose;
Nor the wronged Lippino; and not a word I
Say of a scrap of Fra Angelico's:
But are you too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,
To grant me a taste of your intonaco,
Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye?
Not a churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco?
Could not the ghost with the close red cap,
My Pollajolo, the twice a craftsman,
Save me a sample, give me the hap
Of a muscular Christ that shows the draughtsman?
No Virgin by him the somewhat petty,
Of finical touch and tempera crumbly—
Could not Alesso Baldovinetti
Contribute so much, I ask him humbly?
Margheritone of Arezzo,
With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret
(Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so,
You bald old saturnine poll-clawed parrot?)
Not a poor glimmering Crucifixion,
Where in the foreground kneels the donor?
If such remain, as is my conviction,
The hoarding it does you but little honour.
They pass; for them the panels may thrill,
The tempera grow alive and tinglish;
Their pictures are left to the mercies still
Of dealers and stealers, Jews and the English,
Who, seeing mere money's worth in their prize,
Will sell it to somebody calm as Zeno
At naked High Art, and in ecstasies
Before some clay-cold vile Carlino!
No matter for these! But Giotto, you,
Have you allowed, as the town-tongues babble it,—
Oh, never! it shall not be counted true—
That a certain precious little tablet
Which Buonarroti eyed like a lover,—
Was buried so long in oblivion's womb
And, left for another than I to discover,
Turns up at last! and to whom?—to whom?
I, that have haunted the dim San Spirito,
(Or was it rather the Ognissanti?)
Patient on altar-step planting a weary toe!
Nay, I shall have it yet! Detur amanti!
My Koh-i-noor-or (if that's a platitude)
Jewel of Giamschid, the Persian Sofi's eye
So, in anticipative gratitude,
What if I take up my hope and prophesy?
When the hour grows ripe, and a certain dotard
Is pitched, no parcel that needs invoicing,
To the worse side of the Mont Saint Gothard,
We shall begin by way of rejoicing;
None of that shooting the sky (blank cartridge),
Nor a civic guard, all plumes and lacquer,
Hunting Radetzky's soul like a partridge
Over Morello with squib and cracker.
This time we'll shoot better game and bag 'em hot—
No mere display at the stone of Dante,
But a kind of sober Witanagemot
(Ex: "Casa Guidi," quod videas ante)
Shall ponder, once Freedom restored to Florence,
How Art may return that departed with her.
Go, hated house, go each trace of the Loraine's,
And bring us the days of Orgagna hither!
How we shall prologize, how we shall perorate,
Utter fit things upon art and history,
Feel truth at blood-heat and falsehood at zero rate,
Make of the want of the age no mystery;
Contrast the fructuous and sterile eras,
Show—monarchy ever its uncouth cub licks
Out of the bear's shape into Chimæra's,
While Pure Art's birth is still the republic's.
Then one shall propose in a speech (curt Tuscan,
Expurgate and sober, with scarcely an "issimo,")
To end now our half-told tale of Cambuscan,
And turn the bell-tower's alt to altissimo:
And fine as the beak of a young beccaccia
The Campanile, the Duomo's fit ally,
Shall soar up in gold full fifty braccia,
Completing Florence, as Florence Italy.
Shall I be alive that morning the scaffold
Is broken away, and the long-pent fire,
Like the golden hope of the world, unbaffled
Springs from its sleep, and up goes the spire
While "God and the People" plain for its motto,
Thence the new tricolour flaps at the sky?
At least to foresee that glory of Giotto
And Florence together, the first am I!
A Reading Of Life--With The Persuader
Who murmurs, hither, hither: who
Where nought is audible so fills the ear?
Where nought is visible can make appear
A veil with eyes that waver through,
Like twilight's pledge of blessed night to come,
Or day most golden? All unseen and dumb,
She breathes, she moves, inviting flees,
Is lost, and leaves the thrilled desire
To clasp and strike a slackened lyre,
Till over smiles of hyacinth seas,
Flame in a crystal vessel sails
Beneath a dome of jewelled spray,
For land that drops the rosy day
On nights of throbbing nightingales.
Landward did the wonder flit,
Or heart's desire of her, all earth in it.
We saw the heavens fling down their rose;
On rapturous waves we saw her glide;
The pearly sea-shell half enclose;
The shoal of sea-nymphs flush the tide;
And we, afire to kiss her feet, no more
Behold than tracks along a startled shore,
With brightened edges of dark leaves that feign
An ambush hoped, as heartless night remain.
More closely, warmly: hither, hither! she,
The very she called forth by ripened blood
For its next breath of being, murmurs; she,
Allurement; she, fulfilment; she,
The stream within us urged to flood;
Man's cry, earth's answer, heaven's consent; O she,
Maid, woman and divinity;
Our over-earthly, inner-earthly mate
Unmated; she, our hunger and our fruit
Untasted; she our written fate
Unread; Life's flowering, Life's root:
Unread, divined; unseen, beheld;
The evanescent, ever-present she,
Great Nature's stern necessity
In radiance clothed, to softness quelled;
With a sword's edge of sweetness keen to take
Our breath for bliss, our hearts for fulness break.
The murmur hushes down, the veil is rent.
Man's cry, earth's answer, heaven's consent,
Her form is given to pardoned sight,
And lets our mortal eyes receive
The sovereign loveliness of celestial white;
Adored by them who solitarily pace,
In dusk of the underworld's perpetual eve,
The paths among the meadow asphodel,
Remembering. Never there her face
Is planetary; reddens to shore sea-shell
Around such whiteness the enamoured air
Of noon that clothes her, never there.
Daughter of light, the joyful light,
She stands unveiled to nuptial sight,
Sweet in her disregard of aid
Divine to conquer or persuade.
A fountain jets from moss; a flower
Bends gently where her sunset tresses shower.
By guerdon of her brilliance may be seen
With eyelids unabashed the passion's Queen.
Shorn of attendant Graces she can use
Her natural snares to make her will supreme.
A simple nymph it is, inclined to muse
Before the leader foot shall dip in stream:
One arm at curve along a rounded thigh;
Her firm new breasts each pointing its own way
A knee half bent to shade its fellow shy,
Where innocence, not nature, signals nay.
The bud of fresh virginity awaits
The wooer, and all roseate will she burst:
She touches on the hour of happy mates;
Still is she unaware she wakens thirst.
And while commanding blissful sight believe
It holds her as a body strained to breast,
Down on the underworld's perpetual eve
She plunges the possessor dispossessed;
And bids believe that image, heaving warm,
Is lost to float like torch-smoke after flame;
The phantom any breeze blows out of form;
A thirst's delusion, a defeated aim.
The rapture shed the torture weaves;
The direst blow on human heart she deals:
The pain to know the seen deceives;
Nought true but what insufferably feels.
And stabs of her delicious note,
That is as heavenly light to hearing, heard
Through shelter leaves, the laughter from her throat,
We answer as the midnight's morning's bird.
She laughs, she wakens gleeful cries;
In her delicious laughter part revealed;
Yet mother is she more of moans and sighs,
For longings unappeased and wounds unhealed.
Yet would she bless, it is her task to bless:
Yon folded couples, passing under shade,
Are her rich harvest; bidden caress, caress,
Consume the fruit in bloom; not disobeyed.
We dolorous complainers had a dream,
Wrought on the vacant air from inner fire,
We saw stand bare of her celestial beam
The glorious Goddess, and we dared desire.
Thereat are shown reproachful eyes, and lips
Of upward curl to meanings half obscure;
And glancing where a wood-nymph lightly skips
She nods: at once that creature wears her lure.
Blush of our being between birth and death:
Sob of our ripened blood for its next breath:
Her wily semblance nought of her denies;
Seems it the Goddess runs, the Goddess hies,
The generous Goddess yields. And she can arm
Her dwarfed and twisted with her secret charm;
Benevolent as Earth to feed her own.
Fully shall they be fed, if they beseech.
But scorn she has for them that walk alone;
Blanched men, starved women, whom no arts can pleach.
The men as chief of criminals she disdains,
And holds the reason in perceptive thought.
More pitiable, like rivers lacking rains,
Kissing cold stones, the women shrink for drought.
Those faceless discords, out of nature strayed,
Rank of the putrefaction ere decayed,
In impious singles bear the thorny wreaths:
Their lives are where harmonious Pleasure breathes
For couples crowned with flowers that burn in dew.
Comes there a tremor of night's forest horn
Across her garden from the insaner crew,
She darkens to malignity of scorn.
A shiver courses through her garden-grounds:
Grunt of the tusky boar, the baying hounds,
The hunter's shouts, are heard afar, and bring
Dead on her heart her crimsoned flower of Spring.
These, the irreverent of Life's design,
Division between natural and divine
Would cast; these vaunting barrenness for best,
In veins of gathered strength Life's tide arrest;
And these because the roses flood their cheeks,
Vow them in nature wise as when Love speaks.
With them is war; and well the Goddess knows
What undermines the race who mount the rose;
How the ripe moment, lodged in slumberous hours,
Enkindled by persuasion overpowers:
Why weak as are her frailer trailing weeds,
The strong when Beauty gleams o'er Nature's needs,
And timely guile unguarded finds them lie.
They who her sway withstand a sea defy,
At every point of juncture must be proof;
Nor look for mercy from the incessant surge
Her forces mixed of craft and passion urge
For the one whelming wave to spring aloof.
She, tenderness, is pitiless to them
Resisting in her godhead nature's truth.
No flower their face shall be, but writhen stem;
Their youth a frost, their age the dirge for youth.
These miserably disinclined,
The lamentably unembraced,
Insult the Pleasures Earth designed
To people and beflower the waste.
Wherefore the Pleasures pass them by:
For death they live, in life they die.
Her head the Goddess from them turns,
As from grey mounds of ashes in bronze urns.
She views her quivering couples unconsoled,
And of her beauty mirror they become,
Like orchard blossoms, apple, pear and plum,
Free of the cloud, beneath the flood of gold.
Crowned with wreaths that burn in dew,
Her couples whirl, sun-satiated,
Athirst for shade, they sigh, they wed,
They play the music made of two:
Oldest of earth, earth's youngest till earth's end:
Cunninger than the numbered strings,
For melodies, for harmonies,
For mastered discords, and the things
Not vocable, whose mysteries
Are inmost Love's, Life's reach of Life extend.
Is it an anguish overflowing shame
And the tongue's pudency confides to her,
With eyes of embers, breath of incense myrrh,
The woman's marrow in some dear youth's name,
Then is the Goddess tenderness
Maternal, and she has a sister's tones
Benign to soothe intemperate distress,
Divide despair from hope, and sighs from moans.
Her gentleness imparts exhaling ease
To those of her milk-bearer votaries
As warm of bosom-earth as she; of the source
Direct; erratic but in heart's excess;
Being mortal and ill-matched for Love's great force;
Like green leaves caught with flames by his impress.
And pray they under skies less overcast,
That swiftly may her star of eve descend,
Her lustrous morning star fly not too fast,
To lengthen blissful night will she befriend.
Unfailing her reply to woman's voice
In supplication instant. Is it man's,
She hears, approves his words, her garden scans,
And him: the flowers are various, he has choice.
Perchance his wound is deep; she listens long;
Enjoys what music fills the plaintive song;
And marks how he, who would be hawk at poise
Above the bird, his plaintive song enjoys.
She reads him when his humbled manhood weeps
To her invoked: distraction is implored.
A smile, and he is up on godlike leaps
Above, with his bright Goddess owned the adored.
His tales of her declare she condescends;
Can share his fires, not always goads and rends:
Moreover, quits a throne, and must enclose
A queenlier gem than woman's wayside rose.
She bends, he quickens; she breathes low, he springs
Enraptured; low she laughs, his woes disperse;
Aloud she laughs and sweeps his varied strings.
'Tis taught him how for touch of mournful verse
Rarely the music made of two ascends,
And Beauty's Queen some other way is won.
Or it may solve the riddle, that she lends
Herself to all, and yields herself to none,
Save heavenliest: though claims by men are raised
In hot assurance under shade of doubt:
And numerous are the images bepraised
As Beauty's Queen, should passion head the rout.
Be sure the ruddy hue is Love's: to woo
Love's Fountain we must mount the ruddy hue.
That is her garden's precept, seen where shines
Her blood-flower, and its unsought neighbour pines.
Daughter of light, the joyful light,
She bids her couples face full East,
Reflecting radiance, even when from her feast
Their outstretched arms brown deserts disunite,
The lion-haunted thickets hold apart.
In love the ruddy hue declares great heart;
High confidence in her whose aid is lent
To lovers lifting the tuned instrument,
Not one of rippled strings and funeral tone.
And doth the man pursue a tightened zone,
Then be it as the Laurel God he runs,
Confirmed to win, with countenance the Sun's.
Should pity bless the tremulous voice of woe
He lifts for pity, limp his offspring show.
For him requiring woman's arts to please
Infantile tastes with babe reluctances,
No race of giants! In the woman's veins
Persuasion ripely runs, through hers the pains.
Her choice of him, should kind occasion nod,
Aspiring blends the Titan with the God;
Yet unto dwarf and mortal, she, submiss
In her high Lady's mandate, yields the kiss;
And is it needed that Love's daintier brute
Be snared as hunter, she will tempt pursuit.
She is great Nature's ever intimate
In breast, and doth as ready handmaid wait,
Until perverted by her senseless male,
She plays the winding snake, the shrinking snail,
The flying deer, all tricks of evil fame,
Elusive to allure, since he grew tame.
Hence has the Goddess, Nature's earliest Power,
And greatest and most present, with her dower
Of the transcendent beauty, gained repute
For meditated guile. She laughs to hear
A charge her garden's labyrinths scarce confute,
Her garden's histories tell of to all near.
Let it be said, But less upon her guile
Doth she rely for her immortal smile.
Still let the rumour spread, and terror screens
To push her conquests by the simplest means.
While man abjures not lustihead, nor swerves
From earth's good labours, Beauty's Queen he serves.
Her spacious garden and her garden's grant
She offers in reward for handsome cheer:
Choice of the nymphs whose looks will slant
The secret down a dewy leer
Of corner eyelids into haze:
Many a fair Aphrosyne
Like flower-bell to honey-bee:
And here they flicker round the maze
Bewildering him in heart and head:
And here they wear the close demure,
With subtle peeps to reassure:
Others parade where love has bled,
And of its crimson weave their mesh:
Others to snap of fingers leap,
As bearing breast with love asleep.
These are her laughters in the flesh.
Or would she fit a warrior mood,
She lights her seeming unsubdued,
And indicates the fortress-key.
Or is it heart for heart that craves,
She flecks along a run of waves
The one to promise deeper sea.
Bands of her limpid primitives,
Or patterned in the curious braid,
Are the blest man's; and whatsoever he gives,
For what he gives is he repaid.
Good is it if by him 'tis held
He wins the fairest ever welled
From Nature's founts: she whispers it: Even I
Not fairer! and forbids him to deny,
Else little is he lover. Those he clasps,
Intent as tempest, worshipful as prayer, -
And be they doves or be they asps, -
Must seem to him the sovereignty fair;
Else counts he soon among life's wholly tamed.
Him whom from utter savage she reclaimed,
Half savage must he stay, would he be crowned
The lover. Else, past ripeness, deathward bound,
He reasons; and the totterer Earth detests,
Love shuns, grim logic screws in grasp, is he.
Doth man divide divine Necessity
From Joy, between the Queen of Beauty's breasts
A sword is driven; for those most glorious twain
Present her; armed to bless and to constrain.
Of this he perishes; not she, the throned
On rocks that spout their springs to the sacred mounts.
A loftier Reason out of deeper founts
Earth's chosen Goddess bears: by none disowned
While red blood runs to swell the pulse, she boasts,
And Beauty, like her star, descends the sky;
Earth's answer, heaven's consent unto man's cry,
Uplifted by the innumerable hosts.
Quickened of Nature's eye and ear,
When the wild sap at high tide smites
Within us; or benignly clear
To vision; or as the iris lights
On fluctuant waters; she is ours
Till set of man: the dreamed, the seen;
Flushing the world with odorous flowers:
A soft compulsion on terrene
By heavenly: and the world is hers
While hunger after Beauty spurs.
So is it sung in any space
She fills, with laugh at shallow laws
Forbidding love's devised embrace,
The music Beauty from it draws.
Wat Tyler - Act III
PIERS (meeting JOHN BALL.)
You look disturb'd, my father?
Piers, I am so.
Jack Straw has forced the Tower: seized the Archbishop,
And beheaded him.
The curse of insurrection!
Aye, Piers! our nobles level down their vassals—
Keep them at endless labour like their brutes,
Degrading every faculty by servitude:
Repressing all the energy of the mind.
We must not wonder then, that like wild beasts,
When they have burst their chains, with brutal rage
They revenge them on their tyrants.
He was oppressive to his humble vassals:
Proud, haughty, avaricious.—
A true high-priest!
Preaching humility with his mitre on!
Praising up alms and Christian charity
Even whilst his unforgiving hand distress'd
His honest tenants.
He deserv'd his fate then.
Justice can never link with cruelty.
Is there among the catalogue of crimes
A sin so black that only Death can expiate?
Will Reason never rouse her from her slumbers,
And darting thro' the veil her eagle eye,
See in the sable garment of the law
Revenge conceal'd? —This high priest has been haughty—
He has oppress'd his vassals: tell me, Piers,
Does his Death remedy the ills he caused?
Were it not better to repress his power
Of doing wrong—that so his future life
Might expiate the evils of the past,
And benefit mankind?
But must not vice
Is not punishment revenge?
The momentary violence of anger
May be excus'd: the indignant heart will throb
Against oppression, and the outstretch'd arm
Resent its injured feelings: the Collector
Insulted Alice, and roused the keen emotions
Of a fond father. Tyler murder'd him.
Murder'd!—a most harsh word.
Yes, murder'd him:
His mangled feelings prompted the bad act,
And Nature will almost commend the deed
That Justice blames: but will the awaken'd feelings
Plead with their heart-emoving eloquence
For the cool deliberate murder of Revenge?
Would you, Piers, in your calmer hour of reason
Condemn an erring brother to be slain?
Cut him at once from all the joys of life,
All hopes of reformation! to revenge
The deed his punishment cannot recall?
My blood boil'd in me at the fate of Tyler,
Yet I revenged not.
Oh my Christian father!
They would not argue thus humanely on us,
Were we within their power.
I know they would not!
But we must pity them that they are vicious,
Not imitate their vice.
Alas, poor Tyler!
I do repent me much that I stood back,
When he advanced fearless in rectitude
To meet these royal assassins.
Not for myself,
Tho' I have lost an honest virtuous friend,
Mourn I the death of Tyler: he was one
Gifted with the strong energy of mind,
Quick to perceive the right, and prompt to act
When Justice needed: he would listen to me
With due attention, yet not yielding lightly
What had to him seem'd good; severe in virtue
He awed the ruder people whom he led
By his stern rectitude.
Witness that day
When they destroy'd the palace of the Gaunt;
And hurl'd the wealth his avarice had amass'd,
Amid the fire: the people, fierce in zeal,
Threw in the flames the wretch whose selfish hand
Purloin'd amid the tumult.
The death of Tyler, for my country's sake.
I shudder lest posterity enslav'd
Should rue his murder!—who shall now control
The giddy multitude, blind to their own good,
And listening with avidity to the tale
Of courtly falsehood!
The King must perform
His plighted promise.
(Cry without) —The Charter!—the Charter!
(Enter Mob and Herald.)
Read it out—read it out.
Aye, aye, let's hear the Charter.
Richard Plantagenet, by the grace of God,
King of England, Ireland, France, Scotland,
and the town of Berwick upon Tweed, to all
whom it may concern, These presents,
Whereas our loving subjects have complained
to us of the heavy burdens they endure,
particularly from our late enacted
poll-tax; and whereas they have risen in
arms against our officers, and demanded the
abolition of personal slavery, vassalage, and
manorial rights; we, ever ready in our sovereign
mercy to listen to the petitions of our
loving subjects, do annul all these grievances.
Huzza! long live the king!
And do of our royal mercy, grant a free
pardon to all who may have been anyways
concerned in the late insurrections. All this
shall be faithfully performed on our royal
word. So help us God.
God save the King.
(Loud and repeated shouts.)
Now then depart in quiet to your homes.
Nay, my good friend—the people will remain
Embodied peaceably, till Parliament
Confirm the royal charter: tell your king so:
We will await the Charter's confirmation,
Meanwhile comporting ourselves orderly
As peaceful citizens, not risen in tumult,
But to redress their evils.
Exit Herald, &c. HOB, PIERS, and
JOHN BALL, remain.
'Twas well order'd.
I place but little trust in courtly faith.
We must remain embodied; else the king
Will plunge again in royal luxury;
And when the storm of danger is past over,
Forget his promises.
Aye, like an aguish sinner,
He'll promise to repent when the fit's on him,
When well recover'd, laugh at his own terrors.
Oh ! I am grieved that we must gain so little!
Why are not all these empty ranks abolish'd;
King, slave, and lord, 'ennobl'd into MAN?'
Are we not equal all?—have you not told me
Equality is the sacred right of man,
Inalienable, tho' by force withheld?
Even so: but Piers, my frail and fallible judgment
Knows hardly to decide if it be right,
Peaceably to return; content with little,
With this half restitution of our rights,
Or boldly to proceed through blood and slaughter,
Till we should all be equal and all happy.
I chose the milder way:—perhaps I erred.
I fear me—by the mass, the unsteady people
Are flocking homewards! how the multitude
Go thou, my son, and stay them.
Carter, do you exert your influence.
All depends on their stay: my mind is troubl'd,
And I would fain compose my thoughts for action.
(Exeunt HOB and PIERS.)
Father of mercies! I do fear me much
That I have err'd: thou gav'st my ardent mind
To pierce the mists of superstitious falsehood;—
Gav'st me to know the truth. I should have urg'd it
Thro' every op, perhaps,
The seemly voice of pity has deceiv'd me,
And all this mighty movement ends in ruin!
I fear me, I have been like the weak leech,
Who, sparing to cut deep, with cruel mercy
Mangles his patient without curing him.
What means this tumult? hark! the clang of arms!
God of eternal justice! the false monarch
Has broke his plighted vow!
Enter PIERS, wounded.
Fly, fly, my father—the perjur'd king—fly! fly!
Nay, nay, my child—I dare abide my fate,
Let me bind up thy wounds.
'Tis useless succour,
They seek thy life; fly, fly, my honour'd father.
Fain would I die in peace to hope thee safe.
I shall soon join thee, Tyler!—they are murdering
Our unsuspecting brethren: half unarm'd,
Trusting too fondly to the tyrant's vows,
They were dispersing:—the streets swim with blood.
O! save thyself.
This is that old seditious heretic.
(Seizes JOHN BALL.)
And here the young spawn of rebellion;
My orders ar'n't to spare him.
Come, you old stirrer-up of insurrection,
You bell-wether of the mob—you ar'n't to die
(They lead off JOHN BALL—the tumult
increases—Mob fly across the Stage—
the Troops pursue them—loud cries and
KING, WALWORTH, PHILPOT, SIR JOHN TRESILIAN, &c.
My liege, 'twas wisely order'd to destroy
The dunghill rabble, but take prisoner
That old seditious priest: his strange wild notions
Of this equality, when well exposed,
Will create ridicule, and shame the people
Of their late tumults.
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
Aye, there's nothing like
A fair free open trial, where the king
Can chuse his jury and appoint his judges.
Walworth, I must thank you for my deliverance;
'Twas a bold deed to stab him in the parley!
Kneel down, and rise a knight, Sir William Walworth.
I left them hotly at it. Smithfield smoked
With the rebels' blood: your troops fought loyally,
There's not a man of them will lend an ear
SIR WILLIAM WALWORTH.
Is John Ball secur'd?
They have seiz'd him.
Enter Guards with JOHN BALL.
We've brought the old villain.
An old mischief-maker—
Why there's fifteen hundred of the mob are kill'd,
All thro' his preaching!
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
Prisoner! are you the arch-rebel, John Ball?
I am John Ball; but I am not a rebel.
Take ye the name, who, arrogant in strength,
Rebel against the people's sovereignty.
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
John Ball, you are accus'd of stirring up
The poor deluded people to rebellion;
Not having the fear of God and of the king
Before your eyes; of preaching up strange notions
Heretical and treasonous; such as saying
That kings have not a right from heaven to govern;
That all mankind are equal; and that ranks
And the distinctions of society,
Aye, and the sacred rights of property
Are evil and oppressive:—plead you guilty
To this most heavy charge?
If it be guilt—
To preach what you are pleas'd to call strange notions.
That all mankind as brethren must be equal;
That privileg'd orders of society
Are evil and oppressive; that the right
Of property is a juggle to deceive
The poor whom you oppress;—I plead me guilty.
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
It is against the custom of this court
That the prisoner should plead guilty.
Why then put you
The needless question?—Sir Judge, let me save
The vain and empty insult of a trial.
What I have done, that I dare justify.
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
Did you not tell the mob they were oppress'd,
And preach upon the equality of man;
With evil intent thereby to stir them up
To tumult and rebellion?
That I told them
That all mankind are equal, is most true:
Ye came as helpless infants to the world:
Ye feel alike the infirmities of nature;
And at last moulder into common clay.
Why then these vain distinctions!—bears not the earth
Food in abundance?—must your granaries
O'erflow with plenty, while the poor man starves?
Sir Judge, why sit you there clad in your furs?
Why are your cellars stor'd with choicest wines?
Your larders hung with dainties, while your vassal,
As virtuous, and as able too by nature,
Tho' by your selfish tyranny depriv'd
Of mind's improvement, shivers in his rags,
And starves amid the plenty he creates.
I have said this is wrong, and I repeat it—
And there will be a time when this great truth
Shall be confess'd—be felt by all mankind.
The electric truth shall run from man to man,
And the blood-cemented pyramid of greatness
Shall fall before the flash!
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN
How darest thou insult this sacred court,
Blaspheming all the dignities of rank?
How could the Government be carried on
Without the sacred orders of the king,
And the nobility?
Tell me, Sir Judge,
What does the government avail the peasant?
Would not he plow his field and sow the corn,
Aye, and in peace enjoy the harvest too:
Would not the sunshine and the dews descend,
Tho' neither King nor Parliament existed?
Do your Court Politics ought matter him?
Would he be warring even unto the death
With his French neighbours?—Charles and
The people fight and suffer:—think ye, Sirs,
If neither country had been cursed with a chief,
The peasants would have quarrell'd?
This is treason!
The patience of the court has been insulted—
Condemn the foul mouth'd, contumacious rebel.
SIR JOHN TRESILIAN.
John Ball, whereas you are accused before us
Of stirring up the people to rebellion,
And preaching to them strange and dangerous doctrines;
And whereas your behavior to the court
Has been most insolent and contumacious;
Insulting Majesty—and since you have pleaded
Guilty to all these charges; I condemn you
To death: you shall be hanged by the neck,
But not till you are dead—your bowels opened—
Your heart torn out and burnt before your face—
Your traitorous head be sever'd from your body—
Your body quartered, and exposed upon
The city gates—a terrible example—
And the Lord God have mercy on your soul!
Why be it so. I can smile at your vengeance,
For I am arm'd with rectitude of soul.
The truth, which all my life I have divulg'd
And am now doom'd in torment to expire for,
Shall still survive—the destin'd hour must come,
When it shall blaze with sun-surpassing splendor,
And the dark mists of prejudice and falsehood
Fade in its strong effulgence. Flattery's incense
No more shall shadow round the gore-dyed throne;
That altar of oppression, fed with rites,
More savage than the Priests of Moloch taught,
Shall be consumed amid the fire of Justice;
The ray of truth shall emanate around,
And the whole world be lighted!
Drag him hence—
Away with him to death! order the troops
Now to give quarter and make prisoners—
Let the blood-reeking sword of war be sheathed,
That the law may take vengeance on the rebels.
MY LIFE is bitter with thy love; thine eyes
Blind me, thy tresses burn me, thy sharp sighs
Divide my flesh and spirit with soft sound,
And my blood strengthens, and my veins abound.
I pray thee sigh not, speak not, draw not breath;
Let life burn down, and dream it is not death.
I would the sea had hidden us, the fire
(Wilt thou fear that, and fear not my desire?)
Severed the bones that bleach, the flesh that cleaves,
And let our sifted ashes drop like leaves.
I feel thy blood against my blood: my pain
Pains thee, and lips bruise lips, and vein stings vein.
Let fruit be crushed on fruit, let flower on flower,
Breast kindle breast, and either burn one hour.
Why wilt thou follow lesser loves? are thine
Too weak to bear these hands and lips of mine?
I charge thee for my life’s sake, O too sweet
To crush love with thy cruel faultless feet,
I charge thee keep thy lips from hers or his,
Sweetest, till theirs be sweeter than my kiss:
Lest I too lure, a swallow for a dove,
Erotion or Erinna to my love.
I would my love could kill thee; I am satiated
With seeing thee live, and fain would have thee dead.
I would earth had thy body as fruit to eat,
And no mouth but some serpent’s found thee sweet.
I would find grievous ways to have thee slain,
Intense device, and superflux of pain;
Vex thee with amorous agonies, and shake
Life at thy lips, and leave it there to ache;
Strain out thy soul with pangs too soft to kill,
Intolerable interludes, and infinite ill;
Relapse and reluctation of the breath,
Dumb tunes and shuddering semitones of death.
I am weary of all thy words and soft strange ways,
Of all love’s fiery nights and all his days,
And all the broken kisses salt as brine
That shuddering lips make moist with waterish wine,
And eyes the bluer for all those hidden hours
That pleasure fills with tears and feeds from flowers,
Fierce at the heart with fire that half comes through,
But all the flower-like white stained round with blue;
The fervent underlid, and that above
Lifted with laughter or abashed with love;
Thine amorous girdle, full of thee and fair,
And leavings of the lilies in thine hair.
Yea, all sweet words of thine and all thy ways,
And all the fruit of nights and flower of days,
And stinging lips wherein the hot sweet brine
That Love was born of burns and foams like wine,
And eyes insatiable of amorous hours,
Fervent as fire and delicate as flowers,
Coloured like night at heart, but cloven through
Like night with flame, dyed round like night with blue,
Clothed with deep eyelids under and above—
Yea, all thy beauty sickens me with love;
Thy girdle empty of thee and now not fair,
And ruinous lilies in thy languid hair.
Ah, take no thought for Love’s sake; shall this be,
And she who loves thy lover not love thee?
Sweet soul, sweet mouth of all that laughs and lives,
Mine is she, very mine; and she forgives.
For I beheld in sleep the light that is
In her high place in Paphos, heard the kiss
Of body and soul that mix with eager tears
And laughter stinging through the eyes and ears;
Saw Love, as burning flame from crown to feet,
Imperishable, upon her storied seat;
Clear eyelids lifted toward the north and south,
A mind of many colours, and a mouth
Of many tunes and kisses; and she bowed,
With all her subtle face laughing aloud,
Bowed down upon me, saying, ‘Who doth thee wrong,
Sappho?’ but thou—thy body is the song,
Thy mouth the music; thou art more than I,
Though my voice die not till the whole world die;
Though men that hear it madden; though love weep,
Though nature change, though shame be charmed to sleep.
Ah, wilt thou slay me lest I kiss thee dead?
Yet the queen laughed from her sweet heart and said:
‘Even she that flies shall follow for thy sake,
And she shall give thee gifts that would not take,
Shall kiss that would not kiss thee’ (yea, kiss me)
‘When thou wouldst not’—when I would not kiss thee!
Ah, more to me than all men as thou art,
Shall not my songs assuage her at the heart?
Ah, sweet to me as life seems sweet to death,
Why should her wrath fill thee with fearful breath?
Nay, sweet, for is she God alone? hath she
Made earth and all the centuries of the sea,
Taught the sun ways to travel, woven most fine
The moonbeams, shed the starbeams forth as wine,
Bound with her myrtles, beaten with her rods,
The young men and the maidens and the gods?
Have we not lips to love with, eyes for tears,
And summer and flower of women and of years?
Stars for the foot of morning, and for noon
Sunlight, and exaltation of the moon;
Waters that answer waters, fields that wear
Lilies, and languor of the Lesbian air?
Beyond those flying feet of fluttered doves,
Are there not other gods for other loves?
Yea, though she scourge thee, sweetest, for my sake,
Blossom not thorns and flowers not blood should break.
Ah that my lips were tuneless lips, but pressed
To the bruised blossom of thy scourged white breast!
Ah that my mouth for Muses’ milk were fed
On the sweet blood thy sweet small wounds had bled!
That with my tongue I felt them, and could taste
The faint flakes from thy bosom to the waist!
That I could drink thy veins as wine, and eat
Thy breasts like honey! that from face to feet
Thy body were abolished and consumed,
And in my flesh thy very flesh entombed!
Ah, ah, thy beauty! like a beast it bites,
Stings like an adder, like an arrow smites.
Ah sweet, and sweet again, and seven times sweet,
The paces and the pauses of thy feet!
Ah sweeter than all sleep or summer air
The fallen fillets fragrant from thine hair!
Yea, though their alien kisses do me wrong,
Sweeter thy lips than mine with all their song;
Thy shoulders whiter than a fleece of white,
And flower-sweet fingers, good to bruise or bite
As honeycomb of the inmost honey-cells,
With almond-shaped and roseleaf-coloured shells
And blood like purple blossom at the tips
Quivering; and pain made perfect in thy lips
For my sake when I hurt thee; O that I
Durst crush thee out of life with love, and die,
Die of thy pain and my delight, and be
Mixed with thy blood and molten into thee!
Would I not plague thee dying overmuch?
Would I not hurt thee perfectly? not touch
Thy pores of sense with torture, and make bright
Thine eyes with bloodlike tears and grievous light?
Strike pang from pang as note is struck from note,
Catch the sob’s middle music in thy throat,
Take thy limbs living, and new-mould with these
A lyre of many faultless agonies?
Feed thee with fever and famine and fine drouth,
With perfect pangs convulse thy perfect mouth,
Make thy life shudder in thee and burn afresh,
And wring thy very spirit through the flesh?
Cruel? but love makes all that love him well
As wise as heaven and crueller than hell.
Me hath love made more bitter toward thee
Than death toward man; but were I made as he
Who hath made all things to break them one by one,
If my feet trod upon the stars and sun
And souls of men as his have alway trod,
God knows I might be crueller than God.
For who shall change with prayers or thanksgivings
The mystery of the cruelty of things?
Or say what God above all gods and years
With offering and blood-sacrifice of tears,
With lamentation from strange lands, from graves
Where the snake pastures, from scarred mouths of slaves,
From prison, and from plunging prows of ships
Through flamelike foam of the sea’s closing lips—
With thwartings of strange signs, and wind-blown hair
Of comets, desolating the dim air,
When darkness is made fast with seals and bars,
And fierce reluctance of disastrous stars,
Eclipse, and sound of shaken hills, and wings
Darkening, and blind inexpiable things—
With sorrow of labouring moons, and altering light
And travail of the planets of the night,
And weeping of the weary Pleiads seven,
Feeds the mute melancholy lust of heaven?
Is not his incense bitterness, his meat
Murder? his hidden face and iron feet
Hath not man known, and felt them on their way
Threaten and trample all things and every day?
Hath he not sent us hunger? who hath cursed
Spirit and flesh with longing? filled with thirst
Their lips who cried unto him? who bade exceed
The fervid will, fall short the feeble deed,
Bade sink the spirit and the flesh aspire,
Pain animate the dust of dead desire,
And life yield up her flower to violent fate?
Him would I reach, him smite, him desecrate,
Pierce the cold lips of God with human breath,
And mix his immortality with death.
Why hath he made us? what had all we done
That we should live and loathe the sterile sun,
And with the moon wax paler as she wanes,
And pulse by pulse feel time grow through our veins?
Thee too the years shall cover; thou shalt be
As the rose born of one same blood with thee,
As a song sung, as a word said, and fall
Flower-wise, and be not any more at all,
Nor any memory of thee anywhere;
For never Muse has bound above thine hair
The high Pierian flower whose graft outgrows
All summer kinship of the mortal rose
And colour of deciduous days, nor shed
Reflex and flush of heaven about thine head,
Nor reddened brows made pale by floral grief
With splendid shadow from that lordlier leaf.
Yea, thou shalt be forgotten like spilt wine,
Except these kisses of my lips on thine
Brand them with immortality; but me—
Men shall not see bright fire nor hear the sea,
Nor mix their hearts with music, nor behold
Cast forth of heaven with feet of awful gold
And plumeless wings that make the bright air blind,
Lightning, with thunder for a hound behind
Hunting through fields unfurrowed and unsown—
But in the light and laughter, in the moan
And music, and in grasp of lip and hand
And shudder of water that makes felt on land
The immeasurable tremor of all the sea,
Memories shall mix and metaphors of me.
Like me shall be the shuddering calm of night,
When all the winds of the world for pure delight
Close lips that quiver and fold up wings that ache;
When nightingales are louder for love’s sake,
And leaves tremble like lute-strings or like fire;
Like me the one star swooning with desire
Even at the cold lips of the sleepless moon,
As I at thine; like me the waste white noon,
Burnt through with barren sunlight; and like me
The land-stream and the tide-stream in the sea.
I am sick with time as these with ebb and flow,
And by the yearning in my veins I know
The yearning sound of waters; and mine eyes
Burn as that beamless fire which fills the skies
With troubled stars and travailing things of flame;
And in my heart the grief consuming them
Labours, and in my veins the thirst of these,
And all the summer travail of the trees
And all the winter sickness; and the earth,
Filled full with deadly works of death and birth,
Sore spent with hungry lusts of birth and death,
Has pain like mine in her divided breath;
Her spring of leaves is barren, and her fruit
Ashes; her boughs are burdened, and her root
Fibrous and gnarled with poison; underneath
Serpents have gnawn it through with tortuous teeth
Made sharp upon the bones of all the dead,
And wild birds rend her branches overhead.
These, woven as raiment for his word and thought,
These hath God made, and me as these, and wrought
Song, and hath lit it at my lips; and me
Earth shall not gather though she feed on thee.
As a shed tear shalt thou be shed; but I—
Lo, earth may labour, men live long and die,
Years change and stars, and the high God devise
New things, and old things wane before his eyes
Who wields and wrecks them, being more strong than they—
But, having made me, me he shall not slay.
Nor slay nor satiate, like those herds of his
Who laugh and live a little, and their kiss
Contents them, and their loves are swift and sweet,
And sure death grasps and gains them with slow feet,
Love they or hate they, strive or bow their knees—
And all these end; he hath his will of these.
Yea, but albeit he slay me, hating me—
Albeit he hide me in the deep dear sea
And cover me with cool wan foam, and ease
This soul of mine as any soul of these,
And give me water and great sweet waves, and make
The very sea’s name lordlier for my sake,
The whole sea sweeter—albeit I die indeed
And hide myself and sleep and no man heed,
Of me the high God hath not all his will.
Blossom of branches, and on each high hill
Clear air and wind, and under in clamorous vales
Fierce noises of the fiery nightingales,
Buds burning in the sudden spring like fire,
The wan washed sand and the waves’ vain desire,
Sails seen like blown white flowers at sea, and words
That bring tears swiftest, and long notes of birds
Violently singing till the whole world sings—
I Sappho shall be one with all these things,
With all high things for ever; and my face
Seen once, my songs once heard in a strange place,
Cleave to men’s lives, and waste the days thereof
With gladness and much sadness and long love.
Yea, they shall say, earth’s womb has borne in vain
New things, and never this best thing again;
Borne days and men, borne fruits and wars and wine,
Seasons and songs, but no song more like mine.
And they shall know me as ye who have known me here,
Last year when I loved Atthis, and this year
When I love thee; and they shall praise me, and say
‘She hath all time as all we have our day,
Shall she not live and have her will’—even I?
Yea, though thou diest, I say I shall not die.
For these shall give me of their souls, shall give
Life, and the days and loves wherewith I live,
Shall quicken me with loving, fill with breath,
Save me and serve me, strive for me with death.
Alas, that neither moon nor snow nor dew
Nor all cold things can purge me wholly through,
Assuage me nor allay me nor appease,
Till supreme sleep shall bring me bloodless ease;
Till time wax faint in all his periods;
Till fate undo the bondage of the gods,
And lay, to slake and satiate me all through,
Lotus and Lethe on my lips like dew,
And shed around and over and under me
Thick darkness and the insuperable sea.