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White Roses
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--- DICTIONARIES (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)



--- QUOTES [9 / 9 - 134 / 134] (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)



KEYS (10k)

   9 The Mother

NEW FULL DB (2.4M)

   9 The Mother
   9 Edith Nesbit

   8 Lisa Kleypas

   7 Conrad Potter Aiken

   3 Walt Whitman

   3 The Mother(White Roses)
   3 Glen Cook

   3 Edward George Dyson

   3 Charles Churchill

   2 Suzanne Collins

   2 Sherwood Smith

   2 Leigh Bardugo

   2 Kresley Cole

   2 John Keats
   2 Cassandra Clare

   2 Bret Easton Ellis

   2 Arthur Symons

   2 Alfred Tennyson


1:The Truth is sure to prevail in spite of all oppositions. ~ The Mother, White Roses 124,
2:Nobody can say, 'there is no hope for me.' because the Divine Grace is there. ~ The Mother, White Roses ,
3:Be quiet and confident and try to find me inside yourself, it will help you to sleep. ~ The Mother, White Roses Aug 5 1959,
4:...One must not go into the vital world without a special purpose or command and a special protection. ~ The Mother, White Roses ,
5:The eye of the Divine Consciousness shines like an eternal diamond in the depths of the Inconscient. ~ The Mother, White Roses Jan 22nd 1958,
6:Behind the sorrow and lonliness, behind the emptiness and the feeling of incapacity, there is the golden light of the Divine Presence shining soft and warm. ~ The Mother, White Roses ,
7:To lead the Divine Life does not depend on any exterior activity or circumstances. Whatever you do from the highest work to the most ordinary, you can lead the Divine Life if you are in the true consciousness and the right attitude. ~ The Mother, White Roses - I ,
8:Yes, my child, the Nature can change, completely change with the practice of Yoga - nothing is impossible for the Divine Grace - it can transform a being so totally that all that seemed for it completely impossible becomes not only possible but done. ~ The Mother, White Roses Huta,
9:It is when the contact with the psychic being is established that the heart feels this strange heaviness, the heaviness of all that is still in the Nature preventing the complete union with the soul - and this heaviness brings always tears in the eyes - but the tears are sweet and the heaviness itself is sweet if one keeps quiet and concentrated, turning inwards with surrender and confidence. ~ The Mother, White Roses ,

*** NEWFULLDB 2.4M ***

1:I can't have white roses. They symbolize death. ~ Nina Arianda
2:Then will I raise aloft the milk-white rose. ~ William Shakespeare
3:The Divine is Supreme Peace. Be with the Divine and you will be in Peace. ~ The Mother(White Roses)
4:The Truth is sure to prevail in spite of all oppositions. ~ The Mother, White Roses, 124, 14-11-1965,
5:My mother had painted the white roses red and now she claimed they grew that way. ~ Jeanette Winterson
6:Nobody can say, 'there is no hope for me.' because the Divine Grace is there.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses,
7:And soon I'll return to the white rose of Yorkshire, where the sky bathes my soul with a watering can. ~ Carrie Firestone
8:Be content and live within your heart-deep inside-it is the only way to have peace. ~ The Mother(White Roses)#sriaurobindo
9:Be quiet and confident and try to find me inside yourself, it will help you to sleep.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses, Aug 5 1959,
10:...One must not go into the vital world without a special purpose or command and a special protection.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses,
11:Be content and live within your heart-deep inside-it is the only way to have peace. ~ The Mother(White Roses)#sriaurobindo #themother
12:Be content and live within your heart-deep inside-it is the only way to have peace. ~ The Mother(White Roses) #sriaurobindo #themother
13:Do not worry about what other people may say-I am entirely satisfied with you and my blessings are always with you. ~ The MotherWhite Roses)
14:The eye of the Divine Consciousness shines like an eternal diamond in the depths of the Inconscient.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses, Jan 22nd 1958, P30, [T5],
15:Divine Light 22 May 2018 “The Divine’s Love looks to everything.” ~ The Mother White Roses, P-175, 20-09-1967 இறைவனின் பேரன்பு எல்லாவற்றையும் கவனித்துக் கொள்கிறது
16:Behind the sorrow and lonliness, behind the emptiness and the feeling of incapacity, there is the golden light of the Divine Presence shining soft and warm.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses,
17:The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
And the lily whispers, "I wait. ~ Alfred Tennyson
18:then, as though it had been waiting on a near by roof for their arrival, the moon came slanting suddenly through the vines and turned the girl's face the color of white roses. ~ F Scott Fitzgerald
19:The dove will rise above destruction
with a white rose in her beak.
over storm
over tempest.
over time and the ages.
And the petals will fall to the ground like snow. ~ Catherine Fisher
20:Whenever I have a problem, I ask the Saint (Thérèse of Lisieux) not to solve it, but to take it into her hands and to help me accept it and I almost always receive a white rose as a sign. ~ Pope Francis
21:I had to search a moment before spotting the soft glow advancing along the aisles between enemy divisions. It surrounded a child on a big white horse, bearing a standard of red emblazoned with a white rose. ~ Glen Cook
22:And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons. ~ Walt Whitman
23:A lady’s maid handed her a bouquet of white roses—a gift from Prince Severin and Princess Elle of Loire (as flowers were hard to come by in the middle of winter, Cinderella had no idea where they procured them)—and ~ K M Shea
24:And as to you corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweetscented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips . . . . I reach to the polished breasts of melons. ~ Walt Whitman
25:White rose in red rose-garden Is not so white; Snowdrops, that plead for pardon And pine for fright Because the hard East blows Over their maiden vows, Grow not as this face grows from pale to bright. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne
26:I'm not sure there are enough white roses in the world to make me forget Richard." I held up my hand before she could interrupt. "But I'm not sure there are enough cozy afternoons in all eternity to make me forget Jean-Claude. ~ Laurell K Hamilton
27:And now, a heap of roses
beside the sea, white rugosa
beside the foaming hem of shore:
brave,

waxen candles…
And we talk
as if death were a line to be crossed.
Look at them, the white roses.
Tell me where they end. ~ Mark Doty
28:What is to be remembered, I suppose I remember; everything else dissolves and vanishes: breath on an icy mirror. ~ Daniel Quinn, The Frog King, or Iron Henry, in Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.) Black Thorn, White Rose (1994), ISBN 0-380-77129-2, p. 97
29:To lead the Divine Life does not depend on any exterior activity or circumstances. Whatever you do from the highest work to the most ordinary, you can lead the Divine Life if you are in the true consciousness and the right attitude. ~ The Mother, White Roses - I,
30:His sister, clad in a high-necked white lace gown, was silhouetted against a row of black and purple robes. Poppy looked angelic, bathed in light from a narrow rectangular window, a veil cascading down her back from a neat coronet of white rosebuds. ~ Lisa Kleypas
31:Finally, someone has to make a start. We only said and wrote what many people think. They just don’t dare to express it. —SOPHIE SCHOLL AT THE WHITE ROSE TRIAL IN MUNICH, QUOTED BY RICHARD HANSER IN DEUTSCHLAND ZULIEBE (FOR THE SAKE OF GERMANY), P. 15 ~ Clive James
32:To gentle pressure, King Henry capitulated; the White Rose, aged twenty-four, was taken out into God’s light and air, in order to have his head cut off. But there is always another White Rose; the Plantagenets breed, though not unsupervised. There will always ~ Hilary Mantel
33:The red rose whispers of passion, And the white rose breathes of love; O the red rose is a falcon, And the white rose is a dove. But I send you a cream-white rosebud With a flush on its petal tips; For the love that is purest and sweetest Has a kiss of desire on the lips. ~ Tara Sue Me
34:Yes, my child, the Nature can change, completely change with the practice of Yoga - nothing is impossible for the Divine Grace - it can transform a being so totally that all that seemed for it completely impossible becomes not only possible but done. ~ The Mother, White Roses, Huta, 12,
35:That evening was the evening of the full moon. The garden was an enchanted place where all the flowers seemed white. The lilies, the daphnes, the orange-blossom, the white stocks, the white pinks, the white roses - you could see these as plainly as in the daytime; but the coloured flowers existed only as fragrance. ~ Elizabeth von Arnim
36:There has fallen a splendid tear        From the passion-flower at the gate. She is coming, my dove, my dear;        She is coming, my life, my fate; The red rose cries, ‘She is near, she is near;’        And the white rose weeps, ‘She is late;’ The larkspur listens, ‘I hear, I hear;’        And the lily whispers, ‘I wait. ~ Holly Ringland
37:No one cared about Lial Gordon, but you might have never guessed if you had seen his funeral. A herd of socialites gathered around his grave. A silk handkerchief dabbed an eye here and there. A eulogy fit for the President was poetically read, and dozens of white roses were tossed with a dramatic and well-practiced sympathy. ~ Angela Roquet
38:It's there. The white rose among the dried flowers in the vase. Shriveled and fragile, but holding on to that unnatural perfection cultivated in Snows greenhouse. I grab the vase, stumble down to the kitchen, and throw its contents into the embers. As the flowers flare up, a burst of blue flame envelops the rose and devours it. Fire beats roses again. ~ Suzanne Collins
39:The indoor picnic had been laid out in an octagonal-shaped sunroom featuring an atrium set in the center of the stone floor. Here a "white garden" planted with white roses, snowy lilies, and silver magnolias gave off a delicious scent that drifted across the table laden with linen, crystal, and silver. The white linen cloth had been scattered with pink rose petals that matched the flowered Sevres china. ~ Lisa Kleypas
40:It is when the contact with the psychic being is established that the heart feels this strange heaviness, the heaviness of all that is still in the Nature preventing the complete union with the soul - and this heaviness brings always tears in the eyes - but the tears are sweet and the heaviness itself is sweet if one keeps quiet and concentrated, turning inwards with surrender and confidence.
   ~ The Mother, White Roses,
41:And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.... And as to you corpse, I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me, I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing, I reach to the leafy lips — I reach to the polished breasts of melons. And as to you life, I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths, No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. ~ Walt Whitman
42:Bowing my head, I dipped my nose into the bouquet I'd assembled. There was flax, and forget-me-not, and hazel. There were white roses and pink ones, helenium and periwinkle, primrose, and lots and lots of bellflower. Between the tightly wrapped stems I'd packed velvety moss, barely visible, and I had sprinkled the bouquet with the purple and white petals of Grant's Mexican sage. The bouquet was enormous, and not nearly enough. ~ Vanessa Diffenbaugh
43:Cultivo una rosa blanca, En julio como en enero, Para el amigo sincero Que me da su mano franca. Y para el cruel que me arranca El corazon con que vivo, Cardo ni oruga cultivo Cultivo una rosa blanca. I have a white rose to tend In July as in January; I give it to the true friend Who offers his frank hand to me. And to the cruel one whose blows Break the heart by which I live, Thistle nor thorn do I give: For him, too, I have a white rose. ~ Jose Marti
44:Ever since Blessed Alan de la Roche re-established this devotion the voice of the people, which is the voice of God, called it the Rosary. The word Rosary means "Crown of Roses" that is to say that every time people say the Rosary devoutly they place a crown of one hundred and fifty-three red roses and sixteen white roses upon the heads of Jesus and Mary. Being heavenly flowers these roses will never fade or lose their exquisite beauty. ~ Louis de Montfort
45:Red and white, the Tudor rose that symbolized the union between the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York, blood and snow, passion and purity, fire and ice, hell and heaven, sinner and saint, conquest and surrender, whore and virgin, the red dazzle of rubies and the nacreous lustrous shimmer of pearls, innocence born from a bloody womb, the blood is the life, the cold white marble of death—a tomb effigy; red roses for the blood of martyrs. ~ Brandy Purdy
46:White Rose And Red
WHITE rose sighed in the morn,
Red rose laughed in the noon,
And 'Sweetest sweetness is ended soon,'
And 'Never heed for the thorn.'
'Love's hour passes away,'
White rose breathed in my ear;
Red rose whispered 'No need to fear;
The day is enough for day.'
Shall I heed white or red?
Shall I heed both aright?
Sighing and laughing, red and white,
'Tis 'Love her' they both have said.
~ Augusta Davies Webster
47:White roses and red roses: those were beautiful colours to think of. And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender. Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could. ~ James Joyce
48:The Fuhrer himself was the target of the fourth leaflet: "Every word that comes from Hitler's mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed." This leaflet ended with the words "We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace. ~ Russell Freedman
49:It is as I said. Your house’s emblem should not be the white rose but the old sign of eternity.” “Eternity?” I repeat, hopeful that he is going to say something reassuring at this most dark time in our days. “Yes, the snake which eats itself. The sons of York will destroy each other, one brother destroying another, uncles devouring nephews, fathers beheading sons. They are a house which has to have blood, and they will shed their own if they have no other enemy. ~ Philippa Gregory
50:It had grown darker now; it was full night already, with the swiftness of the mountainous latitudes. The square of sky over the patio was soft and dark as indigo velour, with magnificent stars like many-legged silver spiders festooned on its underside. Below them the white roses gleamed phosphorescently in the starlight, with a magnesium-like glow. There was a tiny splash from the depths of the well as a pebble or grain of dislodged earth fell in. ("The Moon Of Montezuma") ~ Cornell Woolrich
51:Trying to draw Matthew into our conversation, I said, “Look, here’s Matthew’s.” I pointed out his card; on it, a smiling young man with an oblivious expression walked a desolate land, carrying a rucksack and a single white rose. A yapping dog nipped at his heels.

Matthew tilted his head at the likeness. “In a place where nothing grows, I carry a flower. The memory of you.”

I smiled at him. “That is so sweet.”

He frowned. “That literally happened.”

“Oh. ~ Kresley Cole
52:Cultivo una rosa blanca,
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo,
Cardo ni oruga cultivo
Cultivo una rosa blanca.

I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.
And to the cruel one whose blows
Break the heart by which I live,
Thistle nor thorn do I give:
For him, too, I have a white rose. ~ Jos Mart
53:God's Acre
’NEATH the spiring of spruces
Above the blue sea,
Lo, a field of white crosses,
A garden of grief!
—And a riot of roses,
Of red and white roses,
Rich Death! all in blossom,
Fair Loss! all in leaf.
Aye, their warm cherub-cheeks
To cold marble they press;
With sweet summer-kisses
Dead names they caress;
Yon tomb, see, all garlands,
All roses this cross!
—So breathe, my lamenting!
So bloom, O my loss!
~ Blanche Edith Baughan
54:To Muriel: At The Opera
Roses and rose-buds, red and white,
Nestled between your breasts to-night,
And, lying there with drowsy breath,
Sweetly resigned themselves to death.
Ah, cruel child! that would not so
Suffer the perfumed life to go,
But, hungering for the rose's heart
Of midmost sweetness, plucked apart
Petal from petal: 'Ah!' you said
(With lips that kissed white roses red)
'To live on love and roses!'
Well,
But if the rose were Muriel?
~ Arthur Symons
55:One of my ancestors fought in the War of the Roses“, she announced haughtily, without looking round, “and in those wars you were supposed to wear a red rose or a white rose to show whose side you were on, but he was very attached to a pink rose called Lady Lavinia, which we still grow in the Hall, actually, so he ended up fighting both sides at once. He lived, too, because everyone thought it was bad luck to kill a madman. That’s what you need to know about my family: We might be pigheaded and stupid, but we do fight ~ Terry Pratchett
56:Incantation
A white well
In a black cave;
A bright shell
In a dark wave.
A white rose
Black brambles hood;
Smooth bright snows
In a dark wood.
A flung white glove
In a dark fight;
A white dove
On a wild black night.
A white door
In a dark lane;
A bright core
To bitter black pain.
A white hand
Waved from dark walls;
In a burnt black land
Bright waterfalls.
A bright spark
Where black ashes are;
In the smothering dark
One white star.
~ Elinor Morton Wylie
57:Rondeau
Ah, Manon, say, why is it we
Are one and all so fain of thee?
Thy rich red beauty debonnaire
In very truth is not more fair,
Than the shy grace and purity
That clothe the maiden maidenly;
Her gray eyes shine more tenderly
And not less bright than thine her hair;
Ah, Manon, say!
Expound, I pray, the mystery
Why wine-stained lip and languid eye,
And most unsaintly Maenad air,
Should move us more than all the rare
White roses of virginity?
Ah, Manon, say!
~ Ernest Christopher Dowson
58:Will sat where he was, gazing at the silver bowl in front of him; a white rose was floating in it, and he seemed prepared to stare at it until it went under. In the Kitchen Bridget was still singing one of her awful sad songs; the lyrics drifted in through the door: "Twas on an evening fair I went to take the air, I heard a maid making her moan; Said, 'Saw ye my father? Or ye my mother? Or saw ye my brother John? Or saw ye the lad that I love best, And his name it is Sweet William?" I may murder her, Tessa thought. Let her make a song about that. ~ Cassandra Clare
59:Bridal Eve
GOOD-NIGHT, my Heart, my Heart, good-night-Oh, good and dear and fair,
With lips of life and eyes of light
And roses in your hair.
To-morrow brings the other crown,
The orange blossoms, Sweet,
And then the rose will be cast down
With lilies at your feet.
But in your soul a garden stands
Where fair the white rose blows-God, teach my foolish clumsy hands
The way to tend my rose.
That in the white-rose garden still
The lily may bloom fair
God help my heart and soul and will
To keep the lily there.
~ Edith Nesbit
60:Will sat where he was, gazing at the silver bowl in front of him; a white rose was floating in it, and he seemed prepared to stare at it until it went under. In the Kitchen Bridget was still singing one of her awful sad songs; the lyrics drifted in through the door:


"Twas on an evening fair I went to take the air,
I heard a maid making her moan;
Said, 'Saw ye my father? Or ye my mother?
Or saw ye my brother John?
Or saw ye the lad that I love best,
And his name it is Sweet William?"

I may murder her, Tessa thought. Let her make a song about that. ~ Cassandra Clare
61:Morning
DAWN in the east, and chill dew falling-Tears of the new-born day;
Dew on the lawn, and blackbirds calling,
Music and mild mid-May.
The lilac, see, wins back the colour
Lost on the field of Night
See, the spent stars grow dimmer, duller!
Look forth, my life's delight!
Open your window, lean above me,
Rose, my white rose, my song!
Leave your white nest, love, if you love me-Night is so lonely-long.
Day is our own, and day's a-breaking;
Sweet sleepy eyes of grey,
You shall not chide an early waking
When Night grows kind as Day!
~ Edith Nesbit
62:There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate.
The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
And the lily whispers, "I wait."

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead,
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red. ~ Alfred Tennyson
63:Under National Socialism you looked in the mirror and saw your soul. You found yourself out. This applied, par excellence and a fortiori, (by many magnitudes), to the victims, or to those who lived for more than an hour and had time to confront their own reflections. And yet it also applied to everyone else, the malefactors, the collaborators, the witnesses, the conspirators, the outright martyrs (Red orchestra, White Rose, the men and women of July 20), and even the minor obstructors, like me, and like Hannah Doll. We all discovered, or helplessly revealed, who we were.
Who somebody really was. That was the Zone of interest. ~ Martin Amis
64:Outside, I take in the fact that the night is deeply dusky and warm, and that feels like a balm after the cold air inside. I notice a strong smell from the glowing white roses that hang over the churchyard gate and the dark fluttering of bats that swarm from a high corner of the church tower. Around us, as we walk in the tired grass, gravestones whose cadaverous foundations have failed them lean against one another for support. I see a Celtic cross, the contours of lichen covered stone mounds, writing everywhere, words of remembrance, and, above us, the dark, pointed leaves of the yew tree greedily sucking away the last of the light. ~ Gilly Macmillan
65:while something would be happening inside. I do not believe in evil absolute. I have recounted that philosophy in specific elsewhere in the Annals, and it affects my every observation throughout my tenure as Annalist. I believe in our side and theirs, with the good and evil decided after the fact, by those who survive. Among men you seldom find the good with one standard and the shadow with another. In our war with the Rebel, eight and nine years ago, we served the side perceived as the shadow. Yet we saw far more wickedness practiced by the adherents of the White Rose than by those of the Lady. The villains of the piece were at least straightforward. ~ Glen Cook
66:An Answer
Come, let us go into the lane, love mine,
And mark and gather what the Autumn grows:
The creamy elder mellowed into wine,
The russet hip that was the pink-white rose;
The amber woodbine into rubies turned,
The blackberry that was the bramble born;
Nor let the seeded clematis be spurned,
Nor pearls, that now are corals, of the thorn.
Look! what a lovely posy we have made
From the wild garden of the waning year.
So when, dear love, your summer is decayed,
Beauty more touching than is clustered here
Will linger in your life, and I shall cling
Closely as now, nor ask if it be Spring.
~ Alfred Austin
67:In The Rose Garden
RED roses bright, pink roses and white
That bud and blossom and fall;
The very sight of my heart's delight
Is more than worth them all!
Is worth far more than the whole sweet store
That ever a garden grew-She plucked the best to die at her breast,
But it laughed and it bloomed anew!
The red rose lay at her lips to-day,
And flushed with the joy thereof;
She said a word that the white rose heard,
And the white rose paled with love.
But the west wind blows, and my lady goes,
And she leaves the world forlorn;
And every rose that the garden grows,
Might just as well be a thorn!
~ Edith Nesbit
68:Every ruler makes enemies. The Lady is no exception. The Sons of the White Rose are everywhere.… If one chooses sides on emotion, then the Rebel is the guy to go with. He is fighting for everything men claim to honor: freedom, independence, truth, the right.… All the subjective illusions, all the eternal trigger-words. We are minions of the villain of the piece. We confess the illusion and deny the substance. There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies. We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinable pride. The politics, the ethics, the moralities, are irrelevant. ~ Glen Cook
69:Wait--we have one left," the runner said, bringing out what was surely the most expensive bouquet of all: a three-foot tall arrangement of two hundred white roses, in the palest ivory color. All the girls swooned. Almost no boys bought white roses ever. It was a big sign of commitment. But this one practically trumpeted a captured heart.
The runner set the bouquet in front of Schuyler.
Mimi raised an eyebrow. She had always won the roses lottery. What was this all about?
For me?" Schuyler asked, awestruck by the size of the thing.
She took the card from the tallest stem.
For Schuyler, who doesn't like love stories." It was not signed. ~ Melissa de la Cruz
70:Kaz rapped his cane on the stone floor. He was standing in the doorway to the tomb. “If everyone is done cuddling, we have a job to do.”
“Hold up,” said Jesper, arm still slung around Inej. “We’re not talking about the job until we figure out what those things were on the Stave.”
“What things?” asked Inej.
“Did you miss half the Stave blowing up?”
“We saw the bomb at the White Rose go off,” said Inej, “and then we heard another explosion.”
“At the Anvil,” said Nina.
“After that,” Inej said, “we ran.”
Jesper nodded sagely. “That was your big mistake. If you’d stuck around, you could have nearly been killed by a Shu guy with wings. ~ Leigh Bardugo
71:It's possible, and I stress possible, that such a moment may never come: you may not fall in love, you may not be able to or you may not wish to give your whole life to anyone, and, like me, you may turn forty-five one day and realize that you're no longer young and you have never found a choir of cupids with lyres or a bed of white roses leading to the altar. The only revenge left for you then will be to steal from life the pleasure of firm and passionate flesh - a pleasure that evaporates faster than good intentions and is the nearest thing to heaven you will find in this stinking world where everything decays, beginning with beauty and ending with memory. ~ Carlos Ruiz Zaf n
72:The Treasure
UNDER our lead we lie
While the sun and the snow go by,
And our shrouds lie close, lie close,
Like the leaves of a shut white rose
That knows not what summer knows
Before it is time to die.
You, in the sun, up there
Where the wild thyme scents the air;
Is it warm still--and sweet and gay
Up there in the wide blue day?
Do you pity us, shut away
From the fields where the flowers are fair?
Pity us here? shut in
In the dark, where the flowers begin?
The coins lie light on our eyes,
In our empty hands is the prize,
The treasure that fools and wise
Are breaking their hearts to win!
~ Edith Nesbit
73:Additional flowers had been piled into a pair of massive baskets that were strapped across the back of Beatrix's mule, Hector. The little mule led the crowd at a dignified pace, while the women walking beside him reached into the baskets and tossed fresh handfuls of petals and blossoms to the ground. A straw hat festooned with flowers had been tied to Hector's head, his ears sticking out at crooked angles through the holes at the sides.
"Good God, Albert," Christopher said ruefully to the dog beside him. "Between you and the mule, I think you got the best of the bargain." Albert had been freshly washed and trimmed, a collar of white roses fastened around his neck. ~ Lisa Kleypas
74:The Painter On Silk
There was a man
Who made his living
By painting roses
Upon silk.
He sat in an upper chamber
And painted,
And the noises of the street
Meant nothing to him.
When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums,
He thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
Bursting in the sunshine,
And smiled as he worked.
He thought only of roses,
And silk.
When he could get no more silk
He stopped painting
And only thought
Of roses.
The day the conquerors
Entered the city,
The old man
Lay dying.
He heard the bugles and drums,
And wished he could paint the roses
Bursting into sound.
~ Amy Lowell
75:Restlessness
Would I had waked this morn where Florence smiles,
A-bloom with beauty, a white rose full-blown,
Yet rich in sacred dust, in storied stone,
Precious past all the wealth of Indian islesFrom olive-hoary Fiesole to feed
On Brunelleschi's dome my hungry eye,
And see against the lotus-colored sky,
Spring the slim belfry graceful as a reed.
To kneel upon the ground where Dante trod,
To breathe the air of immortality
From Angelo and Raphael-TO BEEach sense new-quickened by a demi-god.
To hear the liquid Tuscan speech at whiles,
From citizen and peasant, to behold
The heaven of Leonardo washed with goldWould I had waked this morn where Florence smile!
~ Emma Lazarus
76:Mrs. Flanigan made this for you and dropped it off earlier. So pretty, wouldn't you agree?"...
"White roses - the bride's flower," Mrs. Norton said with a lilt in her voice. "For unity, purity, and a love stronger than death." She touched the edge of a blossom. "And, in addition, you have chrysanthemums for fidelity, optimism, joy, and long life, with the color white standing for truth and loyal love."
As if caught in a spell, Grace stared at the flowers, a lump forming in her throat, the words echoing in her mind... Joy, truth, fidelity, a love stronger than death.
Mrs. Flanigan chuckled. "Mrs. Norton, you make the bouquet sound so poetic. I'm afraid I can't take credit for such a romantic arrangement. I chose the only white flowers still blooming in my garden. ~ Debra Holland
77:so many white roses whose names won’t survive either, resistance groups and newspapers now as forgotten as soldiers waiting for the enemy veiled in snow, unknowingly digging their own graves in the forests, an entire infantry on alert among the pines and spruce, France, Belgium, elsewhere young German soldiers seeming to sleep, half-opened lips on the snow which likewise moulds itself to their boots and helmets, every one of them forever forgotten, dying for what or whom in these ice fields, oblivion or Hitler, even those still breathing on stretchers, statues of ice, petrified flesh outfitted in frost, this is the story of winter glory, cold and misery, men and horses finished off in the frigid fog, the young in uniform, hands raised and crying, I give up, enough, enough ~ Marie Claire Blais
78:Trying to draw Matthew into our conversation, I said, “Look, here’s Matthew’s.” I pointed out his card; on it, a smiling young man with an oblivious expression walked a desolate land, carrying a rucksack and a single white rose. A yapping dog nipped at his heels.

Matthew tilted his head at the likeness. “In a place where nothing grows, I carry a flower. The memory of you.”

I smiled at him. “That is so sweet.”

He frowned. “That literally happened.”

“Oh.”

Finn said, “That’s just like the image I saw the first time we met. It flashed over him.”

I nodded. “We all have those. They’re called tableaux.”

Finn held the card up next to Matthew’s face, comparing the likeness. “You look stoned, Matto.”

Matthew sighed with contentment. “Thank you. ~ Kresley Cole
79:Earlier that morning, Escoffier ad brought up a large bucket of white rose petals, white violets and vanilla orchids that he'd been thinking of creating a dish with. The pâtissier had crystalized some of the flowers, and left him a plate of meringue shells, a handful of vanilla beans and fresh cream. He wanted to create a new dish for Sarah, a sweet, something surprising, something to engage her. She'd been playing Joan of Arc, the virgin saint, a seventeen-year-old girl. It was a role she made famous, difficult at any age, but for a woman in her mid-forties, it was nearly impossible.
Escoffier tossed a handful of white rose petals into Rosa's bathwater.
The white skin. The white roses. 'The essence of Saint Joan is in shades of white, like shades of innocence.'
'Spun sugar,' he thought. 'Vanilla cream, of course. ~ N M Kelby
80:The office Halloween party was at the Royalton last week and I went as a mass murderer, complete with a sign painted on my back that read MASS MURDERER (which was decidedly lighter than the sandwich board I had constructed earlier that day that read DRILLER KILLER), and beneath those two words I had written in blood Yep, that's me and the suit was also covered with blood, some of it fake, most of it real. In one fist I clenched a hank of Victoria Bell's hair, and pinned next to my boutonniere (a small white rose) was a finger bone I'd boiled the flesh off of. As elaborate as my costume was, Craig McDermott still managed to win first place in the competition. He came as Ivan Boesky, which I thought was unfair since a lot of people thought I'd gone as Michael Milken last year. The Patty Winters Show this morning was about Home Abortion Kits. ~ Bret Easton Ellis
81:As for Nina, Genya had offered up a glorious red kefta from her collection and they’d pulled out the embroidery, altering it from blue to black. She and Genya were hardly the same size, but they’d managed to let out the seams and sew in a few extra panels.
It had felt strange to wear a proper kefta after so long. The one Nina had worn at the House of the White Rose had been a costume, cheap finery meant to impress their clientele. This was the real thing, worn by soldiers of the Second Army, made of raw silk dyed in a red only a Fabrikator could create. Did she even have a right to wear such a thing now?
When Matthias had seen her, he’d frozen in the doorway of the suite, his blue eyes shocked. They’d stood there in silence until he’d finally said, “You look very beautiful.”
“You mean I look like the enemy.”
“Both of those things have always been true.”
Then he’d simply offered her his arm. ~ Leigh Bardugo
82:The White Rose And The Red Rose
The white rose and the red rose,
So sisters two were named, yes, named.
The white one was so quiet,
The red one laughed and flamed.
But different was their doing, yes,
When came the time of wooing, yes.
The white one turned so red, so red,
The red one turned so white.
For him the red one favored,
Him father would not bless, not bless.
But him the white one favored,
He got at once his 'Yes.'
The red one now was paling, yes,
With sorrow, psalms, and wailing, yes.
The white one turned so red, so red,
The red one turned so white.
Then father grew so fearful
And had to give his 'Yes,' oh, yes!
With songs and music cheerful
The wedding rang, oh, yes!
And soon sprang children rosen, yes,
In shoes and little hosen, yes.
The red one's, they were white,-and oh,
The white one's, they were red.
~ Bjornstjerne Bjornson
83:Never coming back here, she thought.
With a groan, she levered herself into a sitting position and discovered a painful crick in her neck. Never ever. She launched herself off the bed and limped over to the door and put here eye to the viewer, was treated to a fish-eye view of a small, dapper, well-dressed man holding a bunch of white roses.
Okay. Man with flowers. Carey looked around the room. The windows opened on short tethers so guests couldn't throw furniture or each other out into the street, and she was too high to jump anyway. She looked around the room again, looking for possible weapons. There was a rickety-looking chair by the desk in the corner, but it would probably fall to bits even before she hit anyone with it. She looked through the viewer. The little man knocked again. Not urgently, not in an official we-have-come-to-take-you-to-the-gulag kind of way, but in the manner of a gentleman visiting his lady friend with a nice bunch of roses. ~ Dave Hutchinson
84:Damn Radnor," he said raspy, going to pour her another brandy. "I'm going to tear his throat out."
"I know something that would hurt him far more than that." Carefully Lottie raised a folded handkerchief to blot his damp brow.
"Oh?" His brows arched in sardonic inquiry.
Her fingers closed around the handkerchief, compressing it into a ball. She paused for a long moment before replying, while a wave of hope rose in her throat and nearly threatened to choke her. Taking the brandy from him, she took a bracing swallow. "We could try to be happy together," she said. "That is something he could never understand... something he'll never have."
She could not bring herself to look at him, afraid that she might see mockery or rejection in his eyes. But her heart slammed heavily in her chest as she felt his mouth drift along the top of her head, his lips playing wit white rose petals as they fluttered against the pinned-up silk of her braid.
"We could try," he agreed softly. ~ Lisa Kleypas
85:I look at the bushes, the clods of dirt hanging from their roots, and catch my breath as the word rose registers. I’m about to yell vicious things at Peeta when the full name comes to me. Not plain rose but evening primrose. The flower my sister was named for. I give Peeta a nod of assent and hurry back into the house, locking the door behind me. But the evil thing is inside, not out. Trembling with weakness and anxiety, I run up the stairs. My foot catches on the last step and I crash onto the floor. I force myself to rise and enter my room. The smell’s very faint but still laces the air. It’s there. The white rose among the dried flowers in the vase. Shriveled and fragile, but holding on to that unnatural perfection cultivated in Snow’s greenhouse. I grab the vase, stumble down to the kitchen, and throw its contents into the embers. As the flowers flare up, a burst of blue flame envelops the rose and devours it. Fire beats roses again. I smash the vase on the floor for good measure. Back ~ Suzanne Collins
86:A Bunch Of Roses
Roses ruddy and roses white,
What are the joys that my heart discloses?
Sitting alone in the fading light
Memories come to me here tonight
With the wonderful scent of the big red roses.
Memories come as the daylight fades
Down on the hearth where the firelight dozes;
Flicker and flutter the lights and shades,
And I see the face of a queen of maids
Whose memory comes with the scent of roses.
Visions arise of a scent of mirth,
And a ball-room belle who superbly poses -A queenly woman of queenly worth,
And I am the happiest man on earth
With a single flower from a bunch of roses.
Only her memory lives tonight -God in his wisdom her young life closes;
Over her grave may the turf be light,
Cover her coffin with roses white
She was always fond of the big white roses.
Such are the visions that fade away -Man proposes and God disposes;
Look in the glass and I see today
Only an old man, worn and grey,
Bending his head to a bunch of roses.
~ Banjo Paterson
87:There was a difference between quality and mere showiness, he thought. That notion was reinforced immediately by the appearance of Lady Aline.
She was dazzling, with strands of white pearls in her lustrous dark hair, her voluptuous body wrapped in a blue dress that molded tightly over the swell of her breasts. A double circlet of fresh white rosebuds was wrapped around one of her gloved wrists. Extending her hands in welcome, she went to a group of guests near the door of the ballroom. Her smile was a flash of magic. As he watched her, McKenna noticed something about her that had not registered during their earlier meeting... she walked differently than he remembered. Instead of exhibiting the impetuous grace she had possessed as a girl, Aline now moved with the leisurely deliberateness of a swan gliding across a still pond.
Aline's entrance attracted many gazes, and it was obvious that McKenna was not the only man who appreciated her sparkling allure. No matter how tranquil her facade, there was no concealing the luminous sensuality beneath. ~ Lisa Kleypas
88:He's on to sashimi now, fanning and curling slices of snapper and fugu into white roses on his cutting board. Before Toshio can plate the slices, Shunichi reaches over and calmly replaces the serving plate his son has chosen with an Edo-era ceramic rectangle more to his liking.
Three pieces of tempura- shrimp, eggplant, new onion- emerge hissing and golden from the black iron pot in the corner, and Toshio arranges them on small plates with wedges of Japanese lime. Before the tempura goes out, Shunichi sneaks in a few extra granules of salt while Toshio's not looking.
By now Dad is shadowing his son's every move. As Toshio waves a thin plank of sea cucumber eggs over the charcoal fire, his dad leans gently over his shoulder. "Be careful. You don't want to cook it. You just want to release its aroma."
Toshio places a fried silverfish spine on a craggy ceramic plate, tucks grated yuzu and sansho flowers into its ribs, then lays a sliver of the dried eggs over the top. The bones shatter like a potato chip, and the sea cucumber detonates in my mouth. ~ Matt Goulding
89:Is it always this awkward?" Sara asked. Her voice was hushed.
Derek turned to look at her, his gaze falling to the white rose in her hands. She had taken it from the arrangement of hothouse flowers. Nervously her fingers ruffled the fragile petals.
Self-consciously Sara sniffed the pale blossom and began to insert it back into the huge vase. "It's nice to have roses in January," she murmured. "Nothing in the world has such a lovely scent."
She was so innocently beautiful, with the disordered waves of her hair falling around her face. His muscles tightened in response. He would like to have her painted this way, standing by the table with her head turned toward him, the white flower caught in her fingers. "Bring it here," he said.
She obeyed, coming to him and handing him the rose. He closed his fingers around the plump head of the flower and pulled gently, freeing the petals from their tenuous moorings. Tossing aside the desecrated stem, he opened his hand over the bed. The petals scattered in a fragrant shower. Sara drew in a quick breath, staring at him as if mesmerized. ~ Lisa Kleypas
90:Uhland's
There were three cavaliers that went over the Rhine,
And gayly they called to the hostess for wine.
"And where is thy daughter? We would she were here,-Go fetch us that maiden to gladden our cheer!"
"I'll fetch thee thy goblets full foaming," she said,
"But in yon darkened chamber the maiden lies dead."
And lo! as they stood in the doorway, the white
Of a shroud and a dead shrunken face met their sight.
Then the first cavalier breathed a pitiful sigh,
And the throb of his heart seemed to melt in his eye,
And he cried, "Hadst thou lived, O my pretty white rose,
I ween I had loved thee and wed thee--who knows?"
The next cavalier drew aside a small space,
And stood to the wall with his hands to his face;
And this was the heart-cry that came with his tears:
"I loved her, I loved her these many long years!"
But the third cavalier kneeled him down in that place,
And, as it were holy, he kissed that dead face:
"I loved thee long years, and I love thee to-day,
And I'll love thee, dear maiden, forever and aye!"
~ Eugene Field
91:That sacred army, that Christ espoused with his blood, displayed itself in the form of a white rose, but the Angel other, that sees and sings the glory, of him who inspires it with love, as it flies, and sings the excellence that has made it as it is, descended continually into the great flower, lovely with so many petals, and climbed again to where its love lives ever, like a swarm of bees, that now plunges into the flowers, and now returns, to where their labour is turned to sweetness.
Their faces were all of living flame, their wings of gold, and the rest of them so white that snow never reached that limit. When they dropped into the flower, they offered, to tier on tier, the peace and ardour that they acquired with beating wings: and the presence of such a vast flying swarm between the flower and what was beyond it, did not dilute the vision or the splendour: because the Divine Light so penetrates the Universe, to the measure of its Value, that nothing has the power to prevent it. This kingdom, safe and happy, crowded with ancient peoples and the new, had sight and Love all turned towards one point. ~ Dante Alighieri
92:Dame Aline, somewhat younger than her husband, was a short, sturdily built woman with fair hair beneath a white lace coif, small square hands, a merry giggle. She had a mask of light freckles across her face that on feast days she hid beneath a powder of rice mixed with dried white rose-petal: a faint scent of rose hung about her even tonight, when she wore no powder. Her cheeks were full, making Hob think at first of a squirrel with acorns in its cheeks. He thought her plain, especially next to the ivory perfection of Lady Isabeau. As the evening wore on, though, she seemed more appealing to him, by reason of her blithe chatter, her delight in each jest, and above all the contrast she made with the dire ominous bulk of her husband. He sat beside her and cut her meat, as was polite: men cut for women, the younger for the elder, the lesser for the greater. When he had done, she placed her hand on his arm affectionately; she smiled in his face. Her rounded cheek, her easy laugh, lent her a childlike prettiness, and Hob wondered that she had no fear of the sinister castellan, who made even the tough-as-gristle sergeant Ranulf uneasy. ~ Douglas Nicholas
93:To The Bramble Flower
Thy fruit full well the schoolboy knows,
Wild bramble of the brake!
So put thou forth thy small white rose;
I love it for his sake.
Thou woodbines flaunt and roses glow
O'er all the fragrant bowers,
Thou need'st not be ashamed to show
Thy satin-threaded flowers;
For dull the eye, the heart is dull,
That cannot feel how fair,
Amid all beauty beautiful,
Thy tender blossoms are!
How delicate thy gauzy frill!
How rich thy branchy stem!
How soft thy voice when woods are still,
And thou sing'st hymns to them;
While silent showers are falling slow,
And 'mid the gen'ral hush!
A sweet air lifts the little bough,
Lone whispering through the bush!
The primrose to the grave is gone;
The hawthorn flower is dead;
The violet by the moss'd gray stone
Hath laid her weary head;
But thou, wild bramble! back dost bring
In all their beauteous power,
The fresh green days of life's fair spring,
And boyhood's bloss'my hour.
Scorn'd bramble of the brake! once more
Thou bidd'st me be a boy,
To gad with thee the woodlands o'er,
In freedom and in joy.
~ Ebenezer Elliott
94:Magic
What was the spell she wove for me?
Life was a common useful thing,
An eligible building site
To hold a house to shelter me.
There were no woodlands whispering;
No unimagined dreams at night
About that house had folded wing,
Disordering my life for me.
I was so safe until she came
With starry secrets in her eyes,
And on her lips the word of power.
- Like to the moon of May she came,
That makes men mad who were born wise Within her hand the only flower
Man ever plucked from Paradise;
So to my half-built house she came.
She turned my useful plot of land
Into a garden wild and fair,
Where stars in garlands hung like flowers:
A moonlit, lonely, lovely land.
Dim groves and glimmering fountains there
Embraced a secret bower of bowers,
And in its rose-ringed heart we were
Alone in that enchanted land.
What was the spell I wove for her,
Her mad dear magic to undo?
The red rose dies, the white rose dies,
The garden spits me forth with her
On the old suburban road I knew.
My house is gone, and by my side
A stranger stands with angry eyes
And lips that swear I ruined her.
~ Edith Nesbit
95:There's no use in denying it: this has been a bad week. I've started drinking my own urine. I laugh spontaneously at nothing. Sometimes I sleep under my futon. I'm flossing my teeth constantly until my gums are aching and my mouth tastes like blood. Before dinner last night at 1500 with Reed Goodrich and Jason Rust I was almost caught at a Federal Express in Times Square trying to send the mother of one of the girls I killed last week what might be a dried-up, brown heart. And to Evelyn I successfully Federal Expressed, through the office, a small box of flies along with a note, typed by Jean, saying that I never, ever wanted to see her face again and, though she doesn't really need one, to go on a fucking diet. But there are also things that the average person would think are nice that I've done to celebrate the holiday, items I've bought Jean and had delivered to her apartment this morning: Castellini cotton napkins from Bendel's, a wicker chair from Jenny B. Goode, a taffeta table throw from Barney's, a vintage chain-mail-vent purse and a vintage sterling silver dresser set from Macy's, a white pine whatnot from Conran's, an Edwardian nine-carat-gold "gate" bracelet from Bergdorfs and hundreds upon hundreds of pink and white roses. ~ Bret Easton Ellis
96:The gown Lottie had decided to wear tonight was a pale blue satin overlaid with white tulle, with a daring scooped neckline that bared the tops of her shoulders. Lottie stood in the center of the bedroom while Mrs. Trench and Harriet pulled the billowing gown over her head and helped guide her arms through the puffed sleeves of stiffened satin. It was a gown as beautiful- no, more beautiful- than any she had seen during the parties at Hampshire. Thinking of the ball she was about to attend, and Nick's reaction when he saw her, Lottie was nearly giddy with excitement.
Her light-headedness was no doubt encouraged by the fact that her corset was laced with unusual tightness, to enable Mrs. Trench to fasten the close-fitting gown. Wincing in the confinement of stays and laces, Lottie stared into the looking glass as the two women adjusted the ballgown. The transparent white tulle overslip was embroidered with sprays of white silk roses. White satin shoes, long kid gloves, and an embroidered gauze scarf were the final touches, making Lottie feel like a princess. The only flaw was her stick-straight hair, which refused to hold a curl no matter how hot the tongs were. After several fruitless attempts to create a pinned-up mass of ringlets, Lottie opted for a simple braided coil atop her head, encircled with fluffy white roses.
When Harriet and Mrs. Trench stood back to view the final results of their labors, Lottie laughed and did a quick turn, making the blue skirts whirl beneath the floating white tulle. ~ Lisa Kleypas
97:Laus Mortis
I bring to thee, for love, white roses, delicate Death!
White lilies of the valley, dropping gently tears,
The white camellia, the seal of perfect years,
The misty white azalea, flickering as a breath.
White flowers I bring, and all the flowers I bring for thee,
Discreet and comforting Death! for those pale hands of thine;
O hands that I have fled, soft hands now laid on mine,
Softer than these white flowers of life, thy hands to me,
Most comfortable Death, mother of many dreams,
And gatherer of many dreams of men,
Dreams that come desolately flying back again,
With soiled and quivering wings, from undiscovered streams.
I have been fearful of thee, mother, all life long,
For I have loved a warm, alluring, treacherous bride,
Life, and she loved thee not; to hold me from thy side,
She closed her arms about my heart, to do thee wrong.
O gay and bitter bride of such divine desires,
Too fiercely passionate Life, that wast so prodigal
Of thine eternal moments, at the end of all
Take my forgiveness: I have passed through all thy fires.
Nothing can hurt me now, and having gained and lost
All things, and having loved, and having done with life,
I come back to thy arms, mother, and now all strife
Ceases; and every homeward-flying dream, wind-tossed,
My soul that looks upon thy face and understands,
My throbbing heart that at thy touch is quieted,
And all that once desired, and all desire now dead,
Are gathered to the peace and twilight of thy hands.
~ Arthur Symons
98:P lanning a wedding can be murder. Planning weddings for a living is nothing short of suicide. “Is there a patron saint for wedding consultants? Because I think after this wedding, I just might meet the requirements.” I stood near the top of the wide marble staircase that swept down the middle of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s central foyer. Below me, dozens of tuxedo-clad waiters scurried around the enormous hall filled end to end with tables and gold ladder-backed chairs. After having draped ivory chiffon into swags on all forty tables, I massaged the red indentations left on my fingers by the heavy pins. “Annabelle, darling, I may be a lapsed Catholic, but I’m pretty sure you have to be dead to qualify for sainthood.” Richard Gerard has been one of my closest friends since I arrived in Washington, D.C. three years ago and started “Wedding Belles.” At the time he’d been the only top caterer who’d bother talking to a new wedding planner. Now I worked with him almost exclusively. “The wedding isn’t over yet.”“At least your suffering hasn’t been in vain.” Richard motioned at the room below us. “It’s divine.” The museum’s enormous hall did look magical. The side railings of the staircase were draped with a floral garland, leading to a pair of enormous white rose topiaries flanking the bottom of the stairs. Amber light washed each of the three-story limestone columns bordering the room, and white organza hung from the ceiling, creating sheer curtains that were tied back at each column with clusters of ivory roses. “I just hope the MOB is happy.” My smile disappeared as I thought ~ Laura Durham
99:Three Portraits Of Prince Charles
1731
BEAUTIFUL face of a child,
Lighted with laughter and glee,
Mirthful, and tender, and wild,
My heart is heavy for thee!
1744
Beautiful face of a youth,
As an eagle poised to fly forth
To the old land loyal of truth,
To the hills and the sounds of the North:
Fair face, daring and proud,
Lo! the shadow of doom, even now,
The fate of thy line, like a cloud,
Rests on the grace of thy brow!
1773
Cruel and angry face,
Hateful and heavy with wine,
Where are the gladness, the grace,
The beauty, the mirth that were thine?
Ah, my Prince, it were well,—
Hadst thou to the gods been dear,—
To have fallen where Keppoch fell,
With the war-pipe loud in thine ear!
To have died with never a stain
On the fair White Rose of Renown,
To have fallen, fighting in vain,
For thy father, thy faith, and thy crown!
More than thy marble pile,
With its women weeping for thee,
Were to dream in thine ancient isle,
To the endless dirge of the sea!
But the Fates deemed otherwise;
Far thou sleepest from home,
240
From the tears of the Northern skies,
In the secular dust of Rome.
A city of death and the dead,
But thither a pilgrim came,
Wearing on weary head
The crowns of years and fame:
Little the Lucrine lake
Or Tivoli said to him,
Scarce did the memories wake
Of the far-off years and dim,
For he stood by Avernus’ shore.
But he dreamed of a Northern glen,
And he murmured, over and o’er,
“For Charlie and his men:”
And his feet, to death that went,
Crept forth to St. Peter’s shrine,
And the latest Minstrel bent
O’er the last of the Stuart line.
~ Andrew Lang
100:He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, every one recognized Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem. I mean, why they recognized Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, light and power shine from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses them, and a healing virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childhood, cries out, ‘O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!’ and, as it were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd weeps and kisses the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and cry hosannah. ‘It is He—it is He!’ all repeat. ‘It must be He, it can be no one but Him!’ He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. ‘He will raise your child,’ the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest, coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. ‘If it is Thou, raise my child!’ she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce, ‘Maiden, arise!’ and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding a bunch of white roses they had put in her hand. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
101:If the threat was from the borders, it seemed unlikely that I’d find Renselaeus warriors roaming around the royal palace Athanarel. So, was there a threat at home?
Like a rival for the kingship? My thoughts went immediately to the Marquise of Merindar--and to the conversation with Shevraeth at the inn. The Marquise had made no attempt to communicate with me, and I had not even seen her subsequent to that dinner the night of my arrival. In the days since, I’d managed to lose sight of my purpose in coming.
When I’d surprised Shevraeth in the archive, it had seemed he was actually willing to discuss royal business--at least that portion that pertained to cleaning up after Galdran--for why else would he offer me a look at the old king’s papers? But I’d managed to turn the discussion into a quarrel, and so lost the chance.
I groaned aloud. What was wrong with me? As I hurried up the steps to our wing, I promised myself that next time Shevraeth tried to talk to me, I’d listen, and even if he insulted me, my family, and my land, I’d keep my tongue between my teeth.
“My own conscience demands that I make the attempt.” Would there even be another try?
I sighed as I opened my door, then Nessaren and Shevraeth and the rain went out of my mind when I saw that my letter table was not empty.
Two items awaited me. The first was a letter--and when I saw the device on the heavy seal, my heart sped: the Marquise of Merindar.
I ripped it open, to find only an invitation to a gathering three weeks hence. No hint of any personal message.
Laying it aside, I turned my gaze to the other object.
Sitting in the middle of the table was a fine little vase cut from luminous starstone, and in it, bordered by the most delicate ferns, was a single rose, just barely blooming.
One white rose. I knew what that meant, thanks to Nee: Purity of Intent. ~ Sherwood Smith
102:In The Benevolent
‘I’M OFF on the wallaby!’ cries Old Ben,
And his pipe is lit, and his swag is rolled;
‘There is nothing here for us old-time men,
But up north, I hear, they are on the gold.’
And he shuffles off with a feeble stride,
With his ragged swag and his billy black.
He is making tracks for the other side,
O’er the river deep, or the Great Divide;
But at night, dead beat, he travels back.
Then at morn next day he is off again,
With an eager light in his aged eyes,
Tramping away on his journey vain
For the land of promise beyond the rise.
Over the range there is work to do,
There is roaring life at the shanty bars.
He will tramp the plains whilst the skies are blue,
And will wander the great wide bushland through,
And be soothed to sleep by the blinking stars.
In the garden gay where the old man roams
Pied poppies sway on their supple stalks,
And the fair white rose on the soft breeze foams,
And the pansies peep by the gravelled walks;
But his brow by the breeze of the hills is fanned,
And the clink of bells to his quick ear comes.
When he shades his eyes with a withered hand,
He sees silent rivers and ranges grand,
Or a still lagoon under silver gums.
‘Are you bound out back, Dan?’ the children cry,
And they peer at him through the fence, and shout
‘Well, it’s so long, Dan,’ as he hobbles by,
With his ‘Ay, ay, sonny lad—tramping out!’
On his back he’s bearing his house and bed,
As he bore them both in his manhood’s pride,
Pressing on each day till his strength has fled
By the force of a dauntless spirit led—
There’s a rush somewhere on the Sydney side.
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Though his sight may fail and his limbs give way,
Yet no weakness touches his brave old heart,
And he cries each night: ‘At the break of day
I must strap up bluey and make a start!’
And they humour him; for the time is near
When he’ll tramp no more under changeful skies,
But will leave his travels and troubles here,
Take the track God blazed with His stars, and steer
To the Never Land just across the rise.
~ Edward George Dyson
103:The Lost Embassy
THE lilies lean to the white, white rose,
The sweet limes send to the blossomed trees,
Soft kisses borne by the golden bees-And all the world is alive, awake,
And glad to the heart for the summer's sake.
From her tower window the Princess leant,
Where the white light butterflies came and went;
She dropped soft kisses by twos and threes:
'White butterflies mine, will you carry these
To my Prince in prison? for they, who knows,
May break the spell that has held him close
And wake him and win him to stand up free
And laugh--in the sun--with me!'
White lilies, gold in the golden sun,
White Princess, gold in your golden gown-Far off lies the sad, enchanted town!
Bright wings, light wings, white wings that tire,
Though they carry the flower of the heart's desire-Will you trust to these, too white, too slight
To bring back the fruit of heart's delight?
All round and about the spell-bound town
The ways are dusty, the woods are brown;
There are no green coverts, no welcoming flowers
For little weary butterfly wings,
No dew, no lilies, no glad live things.
'Neath the sky of steel and the brazen sun
White wings, kiss-laden, dropped one by one:
By twos and threes they dropped by the way,
And only one reached the grim, gray tower
Where, witched from his kingdom, the poor Prince lay-One poor tired butterfly, smirched and gray
With the dust of the town and the weary way,
And it lit on the Prince's hand and died.
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'Bright wings, light wings, white wings,' he cried
'You, only you, might have lived and borne
My prayer to my love in her tower forlorn,
And brought back the kiss that could set me free-She might have broken the spell that lies
On my foolish heart and my foolish eyes-But no live butterflies come my way!'
The winds are cold and the skies are gray,
And all the lilies died yesterday;
The Princess leans from her steel-wrought tower
To watch for her butterflies hour by hour.
Poor little Princess, you watch in vain!
Butterflies die where the green wood browns,
And kisses sent to enchanted towns
Never come home again.
~ Edith Nesbit
104:The rose is a symbol of the inner mysteries of Witchcraft. A red rose symbolizes the mysteries as they reside in Nature, within the living things. The white rose symbolizes the Otherworld and the mysteries hidden in secret places. When a single rose appears with white petals in the center of red petals, this represents the mysteries joined together within one reality. Thorns appearing with the rose represent challenges and the dedication required to fully grasp the enlightenment of the rose. One of the symbolisms associated with the rose reveals the covenant between the Witch and the Faery. In this, we find that both are stewards of the portal that opens to the inner mysteries. The Faery holds the celestial key, and the Witch bears the terrestrial key. When the two are joined together, they form an X—the sign of the crossroads. In this formation, where the keys cross we find a third point, the in-between place at the center. This is where the portal exists, and this is where it opens between the worlds. Look at the shape of the X and you can see four pointed tip markers (the V shapes). The upper half of the X points down, and the lower half points up. On the sides of the X, you can see that the left and right halves point to the center. This shows us that when the celestial and terrestrial realms join, they pull together the left ways and the right ways. These are occult terms for esoteric and exoteric modes of consciousness. In the fusion, everything briefly loses its distinction, its ability to mask the opposite reality, and in doing so, the secret third reality emerges in the center of it all. If this sounds confusing or nonsensical, then the guardian of that portal is doing its job well. The material in this book will connect you with an entity connected to the rose and its mystery. This is the previously mentioned She of the Thorn-Blooded Rose. With her guidance, you can be directed to the portal, and through it you can meet a variety of beings and entities. However, her primary task is to connect you with the Greenwood Realm and the plant spirits within it. In your journey to encounter these spirits, you will pass through the organic memory of the earth. You'll walk upon roads of mystical concepts and be accompanied by the Old Ones of ~ Raven Grimassi
105:I also received a note from the Unknown, the first in two days. I pounced on it eagerly, for receiving his letters had come to be the most important part of my day.
Instead of the long letter I had come to anticipate, it was short.

I thank you for the fine ring. It was thoughtfully chosen and I appreciate the generous gesture, for I have to admit I would rather impute generosity than mere caprice behind the giving of a gift that cannot be worn.
Or is this a sign that you wish, after all, to alter the circumscriptions governing our correspondence?
I thought--to make myself clear--that you preferred your admirer to remain secret. I am not convinced you really wish to relinquish this game and risk the involvement inherent in a contact face-to-face.


I dropped the note on my desk, feeling as if I’d reached for a blossom and had been stung by an unseen nettle.
My first reaction was to sling back an angry retort that if gifts were to inspire such an ungallant response, then he could just return it. Except it was I who had inveighed, and at great length, against mere gallantry. In a sense he’d done me the honor of telling the truth--
And it was then that I had the shiversome insight that is probably obvious by now to any of my progeny reading this record: that our correspondence had metamorphosed into a kind of courtship.
A courtship.
As I thought back, I realized that it was our discussion of this very subject that had changed the tenor of the letters from my asking advice of an invisible mentor to a kind of long-distance friendship. The other signs were all there--the gifts, the flowers. Everything but physical proximity. And it wasn’t the unknown gentleman who could not court me in person--it was I who couldn’t be courted in person, and he knew it.
So in the end I sent back only two lines:

You have given me much to think about.
Will you wear the ring, then, if I ask you to?


I received no answer that day, or even that night. And so I sat through the beautiful concert of blended children’s voices and tried not to stare at Elenet’s profile next to the Marquis of Shevraeth, while feeling a profound sense of unhappiness, which I attributed to the silence from my Unknown.
The next morning brought no note, but a single white rose. ~ Sherwood Smith
106:It as mathematical, marriage, not, as one might expect, additional; it was exponential. This one man, nervous in a suite a size too small for his long, lean self, this woman, in a green lace dress cut to the upper thigh, with a white rose behind her ear. Christ, so young. The woman before them was a unitarian minister, and on her buzzed scalp, the grey hairs shone in a swab of sun through the lace in the window. Outside, Poughkeepsie was waking. Behind them, a man in a custodian's uniform cried softly beside a man in pajamas with a Dachshund, their witnesses, a shine in everyone's eye. One could taste the love on the air, or maybe that was sex, or maybe that was all the same then.
'I do,' she said.
'I do,' he said.
They did. They would.
Our children will be so fucking beautiful, he thought, looking at her.
Home, she thought, looking at him.
'You may kiss,' said the officiant.
They did, would.
Now they thanked everyone and laughed, and papers were signed and congratulations offered, and all stood for a moment, unwilling to leave this gentile living room where there was such softness.
The newlyweds thanked everyone again, shyly, and went out the door into the cool morning. They laughed, rosy. In they'd come integers, out they came, squared.

Her life, in the window, the parakeet, scrap of blue midday in the London dusk, ages away from what had been most deeply lived. Day on a rocky beach, creatures in the tide pool. All those ordinary afternoons, listening to footsteps in the beams of the house, and knowing the feeling behind them. Because it was so true, more than the highlights and the bright events, it was in the daily where she'd found life. The hundreds of time she'd dug in her garden, each time the satisfying chew of spade through soil, so often that this action, the pressure and release and rich dirt smell delineated the warmth she'd felt in the cherry orchard.
Or this, each day they woke in the same place, her husband waking her with a cup of coffee, the cream still swirling into the black. Almost unremarked upon this kindness, he would kiss her on the crown of her head before leaving, and she'd feel something in her rising in her body to meet him.
These silent intimacies made their marriage, not the ceremonies or parties or opening nights or occasions, or spectacular fucks. Anyway, that part was finished. A pity... ~ Lauren Groff
107:The Living Picture
HE RODE along one splendid noon,
When all the hills were lit with Spring,
And through the bushland throbbed a croon
Of every living, hopeful thing.
Between his teeth a rose he bore
As white as milk, and passing there
He tossed it with a laugh. I wore
It as it fell among my hair.
No day a-drip with golden rain,
No heat with drench of wattle scent
Can touch the heart of me again
But with that young, sweet wonder blent.
We wed upon a gusty day,
When baffled fury whipped the sea;
And now I love the swift, wet play
Of wind and rain besetting me.
I took white roses in my hand,
A white rose on my forehead shone,
For we had come to understand
White roses bloomed for us alone.
When scarce a year had gone he sped
To fight the wars. With eyes grown grim
He kissed my lips, and whispering said:
“The world we must keep sweet for him!”
He wrote of war, the soldier’s life.
“’Tis hard, my dearest, but be brave.
I did not make my love my wife
To be the mother of a slave!”
My babe was born a boy. He had
His father’s eyes, his smile, his hair,
And, oh, my soul was brimming glad—
It seemed his father’s self was there!
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But now came one who bade me still
In holy Heaven put my trust.
They’d laid my love beneath the hill,
And sealed his eyes with timeless dust.
Against my breast the babe I drew,
With strength from him to stay my fears.
I fought my fight the long days through;
He laughed and dabbled in my tears.
From my poor heart, at which it fed
With tiger teeth, I thrust despair,
And faced a world with shadow spread
And only echoes in the air.
The winter waned. One eve I went,
Led by a kindly hand to see
In moving scenes the churches rent,
The tumbled hill, the blasted lee.
Of soldiers resting by the road,
Who smoked and drowsed, a muddy rout,
One sprang alert, and forward strode,
With eager eyes to seek us out.
His fingers held a rose. He threw
The flower, and waved his cap. In me
A frenzy of assurance grew,
For, O dear God, ’twas he! ’twas he!
I called aloud. Aloft my child
I held, and nearer yet he came;
And when he understood and smiled,
My baby lisped his father’s name.
They say I fell like something dead,
But when I woke to morning’s glow
My boy sat by me on the bed,
And in his hand a rose of snow!
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~ Edward George Dyson
108:The Ghost Bereft
THE poor ghost came through the wind and rain
And passed down the old dear road again.
Thin cowered the hedges, the tall trees swayed
Like little children that shrank afraid.
The wind was wild and the night was late
When the poor ghost came to the garden gate;
Dank were the flower-beds, heavy and wet,
The weeds stood up where the rose was set.
The wind was angry, the rain beat sore
When the poor ghost came to its own house-door.
'And shall I find her a-weeping still
To think how alone I lie and chill?
'Or shall I find her happy and warm
With her dear head laid on a new love's arm?
'Or shall I find she has learned to pine
For another's love, and not for mine?
'Whatever chance, I have this to my store,
She is mine, my own, for evermore!'
So the poor ghost came through the wind and rain
Till it reached the square bright window pane.
'Oh! what is here in the room so bright?
Roses and love, and a hid delight?
'What lurks in the silence that fills the room?
A cypress wreath from a dead man's tomb?
'What sleeps? What wakes? And oh! can it be
Her heart that is breaking--and not for me?'
297
Then the poor ghost looked through the window pane,
Though all the glass was wrinkled with rain.
'Oh, there is light, at the feet and head
Twelve tall tapers about the bed.
'Oh, there are flowers, white flowers and rare,
But not the garland a bride may wear.
'Jasmine white and a white white rose,
But its scent is gone where the lost dream goes.
'Straight lilies laid on the strait white bier-But the room is empty--she is not here!
'Her body lies here, deserted, cold;
And the body that loved it creeps in the mould.
'Was there ever an hour when my Love, set free,
Would not have hastened and come to me?
'Can the soul that loved mine long ago
Be hence and away, and I not know?
'Oh, then God's judgment is on me sore,
For I have lost her for evermore!'
And the poor ghost fared through the wind and rain
To its own appointed place again.
But up in Heaven, where memories cease
Because the blessed have won to peace,
One pale saint shivered, and closer wound
The shining raiment that wrapped her round.
'Oh, fair is Heaven, and glad am I,
Yet I fain would remember the days gone by.
'The past is veiled, and I may not know,
But I think there was sorrow, long ago;
298
'The sun of Heaven is warm and bright,
But I think there is rain on the earth to-night.
'O Christ, because of Thine own sore pain
Help all poor souls in the wind and rain.'
~ Edith Nesbit
109:The air was steeped with the heady fragrance of roses, as if the entire hall had been rinsed with expensive perfume.
"Good Lord!" she exclaimed, stopping short at the sight of massive bunches of flowers being brought in from a cart outside. Mountains of white roses, some of them tightly furled buds, some in glorious full bloom. Two footmen had been recruited to assist the driver of the cart, and the three of them kept going outside to fetch bouquet after bouquet wrapped in stiff white lace paper.
"Fifteen dozen of them," Marcus said brusquely. "I doubt there's a single white rose left in London."
Aline could not believe how fast her heart was beating. Slowly she moved forward and drew a single rose from one of the bouquets. Cupping the delicate bowl of the blossom with her fingers, she bent her head to inhale its lavish perfume. Its petals were a cool brush of silk against her cheek.
"There's something else," Marcus said.
Following his gaze, Aline saw the butler directing yet another footman to pry open a huge crate filled with brick-sized parcels wrapped in brown paper. "What are they, Salter?"
"With your permission, my lady, I will find out." The elderly butler unwrapped one of the parcels with great care. He spread the waxed brown paper open to reveal a damply fragrant loaf of gingerbread, its spice adding a pungent note to the smell of the roses.
Aline put her hand over her mouth to contain a bubbling laugh, while some undefinable emotion caused her entire body to tremble. The offering worried her terribly, and at the same time, she was insanely pleased by the extravagance of it.
"Gingerbread?" Marcus asked incredulously. "Why the hell would McKenna send you an entire crate of gingerbread?"
"Because I like it," came Aline's breathless reply. "How do you know this is from McKenna?"
Marcus gave her a speaking look, as if only an imbecile would suppose otherwise.
Fumbling a little with the envelope, Aline extracted a folded sheet of paper. It was covered in a bold scrawl, the penmanship serviceable and without flourishes.


No miles of level desert, no jagged mountain heights,
no sea of endless blue
Neither words nor tears, nor silent fears
will keep me from coming back to you.



There was no signature... none was necessary. Aline closed her eyes, while her nose stung and hot tears squeezed from beneath her lashes. She pressed her lips briefly to the letter, not caring what Marcus thought.
"It's a poem," she said unsteadily. "A terrible one." It was the loveliest thing she had ever read. She held it to her cheek, then used her sleeve to blot her eyes.
"Let me see it."
Immediately Aline tucked the poem into her bodice. "No, it's private." She swallowed against the tightness of her throat, willing the surge of unruly emotion to recede. "McKenna," she whispered, "how you devastate me. ~ Lisa Kleypas
110:Via Amoris
I.
IT is not Love, this beautiful unrest,
This tremor of longing that invades my breast:
For Love is in his grave this many a year,
He will not rise--I do not wish him here.
It is not memory, for your face and eyes
Are not reflected where that dark pool lies:
It is not hope, for life makes no amends,
And hope and I are long no longer friends:
It is a ghost out of another Spring
It needs but little for its comforting-That I should hold your hand and see your face
And muse a little in this quiet place,
Where, through the silence, I can hear you sigh
And feel you sadden, O Virgin Mystery,
And know my thought has in your thought begot
Sadness, its child, and that you know it not.
II.
If this were Love, if all this bitter pain
Were but the birth-pang of Love born again,
If through the doubts and dreams resolved, smiled
The prophetic promise of the holy child,
What should I gain? The Love whose dream-lips smiled
Could never be my own and only child,
But to Love's birth would come, with the last pain,
Renunciation, also born again.
III.
If this were Love why should I turn away?
Am I not, too, made of the common clay?
Is life so fair, am I so fortunate,
I can refuse the capricious gift of Fate,
The sudden glory, the unhoped-for flowers,
The transfiguration of my earthly hours?
459
Come, Love! the house is garnished and is swept,
Washed clean with all the tears that I have wept,
Washed from the stain of my unworthy fears,
Hung with the splendid spoils of wasted years,
Lighted with lamps of hope, and curtained fast
Against the gathered darkness of the past.
I draw the bolts! I throw the portals wide,
The darkness rushes shivering to my side,
Love is not here--the darkness creeps about
My house wherein the lamps of hope die out.
Ah Love! it was not then your hand that came
Beating my door? your voice that called my name?
IV.
'It is not Love, it is not Love,' I said,
And bowed in fearful hope my trembling head.
'It is not Love, for Love could never rise
Out of the rock-hewn grave wherein he lies.'
But as I spake, the heavenly form drew near
Where close I clasped a hope grown keen as fear,
Upon my head His very hand He laid
And whispered, 'It is I, be not afraid!'
V.
And this is Love, no rose-crowned laughing guest
By whom my passionate heart should be caressed,
But one re-risen from the grave; austere,
Cold as the grave, and infinitely dear,
To follow whom I lay the whole world down,
Take up the cross, bind on the thorny crown;
And, following whom, my bleeding pilgrim feet
Find the rough pathway sure and very sweet.
The august environment of mighty wings
Shuts out the snare of vain imaginings,
For by my side, crowned with Love's death-white rose,
The Angel of Renunciation goes.
~ Edith Nesbit
111:Come Into The Garden, Maud
Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, Night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown.
For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.
All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr'd
To the dancers dancing in tune:
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.
I said to the lily, 'There is but one
With whom she has heart to be gay.
When will the dancers leave her alone?
She is weary of dance and play.'
Now half to the setting moon are gone,
And half to the rising day;
Low on the sand and loud on the stone
The last wheel echoes away.
I said to the rose, 'The brief night goes
In babble and revel and wine.
O young lordlover, what sighs are those
For one that will never be thine?
But mine, but mine,' so I sware to the rose,
'For ever and ever, mine.'
And the soul of the rose went into my blood,
As the music clash'd in the hall;
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And long by the garden lake I stood,
For I heard your rivulet fall
From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,
Our wood, that is dearer than all;
From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewelprint of your feet
In violets blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
And the valleys of Paradise.
The slender acacia would not shake
One long milk-bloom on the tree;
The white lake-blossom fell into the lake,
As the pimpernel dozed on the lea;
But the rose was awake all night for your sake,
Knowing your promise to me;
The lilies and roses were all awake,
They sigh'd for the dawn and thee.
Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
Come hither, the dances are done,
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
Queen lily and rose in one;
Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
To the flowers, and be their sun.
There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, 'She is near, she is near; '
And the white rose weeps, 'She is late; '
The larkspur listens, 'I hear, I hear; '
And the lily whispers, 'I wait.'
She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
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Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
112:A Year’s Windfalls
On the wind of January
Down flits the snow,
Travelling from the frozen North
As cold as it can blow.
Poor robin redbreast,
Look where he comes;
Let him in to feel your fire,
And toss him of your crumbs.
On the wind in February
Snowflakes float still,
Half inclined to turn to rain,
Nipping, dripping, chill.
Then the thaws swell the streams,
And swollen rivers swell the sea:—
If the winter ever ends
How pleasant it will be!
In the wind of windy March
The catkins drop down,
Curly, caterpillar-like,
Curious green and brown.
With concourse of nest-building birds
And leaf-buds by the way,
We begin to think of flowers
And life and nuts some day.
With the gusts of April
Rich fruit-tree blossoms fall,
On the hedged-in orchard-green,
From the southern wall.
Apple-trees and pear-trees
Shed petals white or pink,
Plum-trees and peach-trees;
While sharp showers sink and sink.
Little brings the May breeze
Beside pure scent of flowers,
While all things wax and nothing wanes
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In lengthening daylight hours.
Across the hyacinth beds
The wind lags warm and sweet,
Across the hawthorn tops,
Across the blades of wheat.
In the wind of sunny June
Thrives the red rose crop,
Every day fresh blossoms blow
While the first leaves drop;
White rose and yellow rose
And moss-rose choice to find,
And the cottage cabbage-rose
Not one whit behind.
On the blast of scorched July
Drives the pelting hail,
From thunderous lightning-clouds, that blot
Blue heaven grown lurid-pale.
Weedy waves are tossed ashore,
Sea-things strange to sight
Gasp upon the barren shore
And fade away in light.
In the parching August wind
Corn-fields bow the head,
Sheltered in round valley depths,
On low hills outspread.
Early leaves drop loitering down
Weightless on the breeze,
First fruits of the year's decay
From the withering trees.
In brisk wind of September
The heavy-headed fruits
Shake upon their bending boughs
And drop from the shoots;
Some glow golden in the sun,
Some show green and streaked,
Some set forth a purple bloom,
Some blush rosy-cheeked.
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In strong blast of October
At the equinox,
Stirred up in his hollow bed
Broad ocean rocks;
Plunge the ships on his bosom,
Leaps and plunges the foam,—
It's oh! for mothers' sons at sea,
That they were safe at home.
In slack wind of November
The fog forms and shifts;
All the world comes out again
When the fog lifts.
Loosened from their sapless twigs
Leaves drop with every gust;
Drifting, rustling, out of sight
In the damp or dust.
Last of all, December,
The year's sands nearly run,
Speeds on the shortest day,
Curtails the sun;
With its bleak raw wind
Lays the last leaves low,
Brings back the nightly frosts,
Brings back the snow.
~ Christina Georgina Rossetti
113:Old Meg she was a gipsy;
   And liv'd upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
   And her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries,
   Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
   Her book a church-yard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills,
   Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family
   She liv'd as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn,
   No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
   Full hard against the moon.

But every morn, of woodbine fresh
   She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen yew
   She wove, and she would sing.

And with her fingers old and brown
   She plaited mats o' rushes,
And gave them to the cottagers
   She met among the bushes.

Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
   And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore,
   A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere--
   She died full long agone!
'Keats and his companion seem to have started from Dumfries again on the 2nd of July, "through Galloway -- all very pleasant and pretty with no fatigue when one is used to it," as he writes to his sister, adding "We are in the midst of Meg Merrilies' country of whom I suppose you have heard," and giving her forthwith a copy of the poem. Lord Houghton says of this stage --

"The pedestrians passed by Solway Frith through that delightful part of Kirkcudbrightshire, the scene of 'Guy Mannering.' Keats had never read the novel, but was much struck with the character of Meg Merrilies as delineated to him by Brown. He seemed at once to realise the creation of the novelist, and, suddenly stopping in the pathway, at a point where a profusion of honeysuckles, wild rose, and fox-glove, mingled with the bramble and broom that filled up the spaces between the shattered rocks, he cried out, 'Without a shadow of a doubt on that spot has old Meg Merrilies often boiled her kettle.'"

On the 3rd of July he writes to Tom from "Auchtercairn" (meaning, I presume, Auchencairn, some six miles east of Kirkcudbright) -- "We are now in Meg Merrilies' country, and have, this morning, passed through some parts exactly suited to her. Kirkcudbright County is very beautiful, very wild, with craggy hills, somewhat in the Westmoreland fashion. We have come down from Dumfries to the sea-coast part of it. The following song you will have from Dilke, but perhaps you would like it here."

I should judge that the scene given by Brown to Lord Houghton belonged rather to the morning of the 3rd than to the evening of the 2nd; and that Keats took out his current letter to his sister at Auchencairn on pausing there to breakfast, and wrote the poem into it when he began a fresh letter to Tom with it. Thus, besides a rough draft, there would be three fair copies of the poem, one for Tom, one for Fanny, and one for Mr. Dilke.'
~ Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman, Crowell publ. 1895.
by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes

~ John Keats, Meg Merrilies

114:From The Portuguese
When I lived in the village of youth
There were lilies in all the orchards,
Flowers in the orange-gardens
For brides to wear in their hair.
It was always sunshine and summer,
Roses at every lattice,
Dreams in the eyes of maidens,
Love in the eyes of men.
When I lived in the village of youth
The doors, all the doors, stood open;
We went in and out of them laughing,
Laughing and calling each other
To shew each other our fairings,
The new shawl, the new comb, the new fan,
The new rose, the new lover.
Now I live in the town of age
Where are no orchards, no gardens.
Here, too, all the doors stand open,
But no one goes in or goes out.
We sit alone by the hearthstone
Where memories lie like ashes
Upon a hearth that is cold;
And they from the village of youth
Run by our doorsteps laughing,
Calling, to shew each other
The new shawl, the new comb, the new fan,
The new rose, the new lover.
Once we had all these things We kept them from the old people,
And now the young people have them
And will not shew them to us To us who are old and have nothing
But the white, still, heaped-up ashes
125
On the hearth where the fire went out
A very long time ago.
II
I had a mistress; I loved her.
She left me with memories bitter,
Corroding, eating my heart
As the acid eats into the steel
Etching the portrait triumphant.
Intolerable, indelible,
Never to be effaced.
A wife was mine to my heart,
Beautiful flower of my garden,
Lily I worshipped by day,
Scented rose of my nights.
Now the night wind sighing
Blows white rose petals only
Over the bed where she sleeps
Dreamless alone.
I had a son; I loved him.
Mother of God, bear witness
How all my manhood loved him
As thy womanhood loved thy Son!
When he was grown to his manhood
He crucified my heart,
And even as it hung bleeding
He laughed with his bold companions,
Mocked and turned away
With laughter into the night.
Those three I loved and lost;
But there was one who loved me
With all the fire of her heart.
Mine was the sacred altar
Where she burnt her life for my worship.
She was my slave, my servant;
Mine all she had, all she was,
All she could suffer, could be.
That was the love of my life,
126
I did not say, 'She loves me';
I was so used to her love
I never asked its name,
Till, feeling the wind blow cold
Where all the doors were left open,
And seeing a fireless hearth
And the garden deserted and weed-grown
That once was full of flowers for me,
I said, 'What has changed? What is it
That has made all the clocks stop?'
Thus I asked and they answered:
'It is thy mother who is dead.'
And now I am alone.
My son, too, some day will stand
Here, where I stand and weep.
He too will weep, knowing too late
The love that wrapped round his life.
Dear God spare him this:
Let him never know how I loved him,
For he was always weak.
He could not endure as I can.
Mother, my dear, ask God
To grant me this, for my son!
~ Edith Nesbit
115:Unredeemed
I saw the Christ down from His cross,
A tragic man lean-limbed and tall,
But weighed with suffering and loss.
His back was to a broken wall,
And out upon the tameless world
Was fixed His gaze His piercing eye
Beheld the towns to ruin hurled,
And saw the storm of death pass by.
Two thousand years it was since first
He offered to the race of men
His sovran boon, As one accurst
They nailed Him to the jibbet then,
And while they mocked Him for their mirth
He smiled, and from the hill of pain
To all the hating tribes of earth
Held forth His wondrous gift again.
To-day the thorns were on His brow,
His grief was deeper than before.
From ravaged field and city now
Arose the screams and reek of war.
The black smoke parted. Through the rift
God's sun fell on the b1oody lands.
Christ wept, for still His priceless gift
He held within His wounded hands.
Xxxx
The Living Picture
He rode along one splendid noon,
When all the hills were lit with Spring,
And through the bushland throbbed a croon
Of every living, hopeful thing.
Between his teeth a rose he bore
As white as milk, and passing there
He tossed it with a laugh. I wore
It as it fell among my hair.
174
No day a-drip with golden rain,
No heat with drench of wattle scent
Can touch the heart of me again
But with that young, sweet wonder blent.
We wed upon a gusty day,
When baffled fury whipped the sea;
And now I love the swift, wet play
Of wind and rain besetting me.
I took white roses in my hand,
A white rose on my forehead shone,
For we had come to understand
White roses bloomed for us alone.
When scarce a year had gone he sped
To fight the wars. With eyes grown grim
He kissed my lips, and whispering said:
“The world we must keep sweet for him!”
He wrote of war, the soldier's life.
“'Tis hard, my dearest, but be brave.
I did not make my love my wife
To be the mother of a slave!”
My babe was born a boy. He had
His father's eyes, his smile, his hair,
And, oh, my soul was brimming glad—
It seemed his father's self was there!
But now came one who bade me still
In holy Heaven put my trust.
They'd laid my love beneath the hill,
And sealed his eyes with timeless dust.
Against my breast the babe I drew,
With strength from him to stay my fears.
I fought my fight the long days through;
He laughed and dabbled in my tears.
From my poor heart, at which it fed
With tiger teeth, I thrust despair,
175
And faced a world with shadow spread
And only echoes in the air.
The winter waned. One eve I went,
Led by a kindly hand to see
In moving scenes the churches rent,
The tumbled hill, the blasted lee.
Of soldiers resting by the road,
Who smoked and drowsed, a muddy rout,
One sprang alert, and forward strode,
With eager eyes to seek us out.
His fingers held a rose. He threw
The flower, and waved his cap. In me
A frenzy of assurance grew,
For, O dear God, 'twas he! 'twas he!
I called aloud. Aloft my child
I held, and nearer yet he came;
And when he understood and smiled,
My baby lisped his father's name.
They say I fell like something dead,
But when I woke to morning's glow
My boy sat by me on the bed,
And in his hand a rose of snow!
~ Edward George Dyson
116:The House Of Dust: Part 02: 07: Two Lovers:
Overtones
Two lovers, here at the corner, by the steeple,
Two lovers blow together like music blowing:
And the crowd dissolves about them like a sea.
Recurring waves of sound break vaguely about them,
They drift from wall to wall, from tree to tree.
'Well, am I late?' Upward they look and laugh,
They look at the great clock's golden hands,
They laugh and talk, not knowing what they say:
Only, their words like music seem to play;
And seeming to walk, they tread strange sarabands.
'I brought you this . . . ' the soft words float like stars
Down the smooth heaven of her memory.
She stands again by a garden wall,
The peach tree is in bloom, pink blossoms fall,
Water sings from an opened tap, the bees
Glisten and murmur among the trees.
Someone calls from the house. She does not answer.
Backward she leans her head,
And dreamily smiles at the peach-tree leaves, wherethrough
She sees an infinite May sky spread
A vault profoundly blue.
The voice from the house fades far away,
The glistening leaves more vaguely ripple and sway . .
The tap is closed, the water ceases to hiss . . .
Silence . . . blue sky . . . and then, 'I brought you this . . . '
She turns again, and smiles . . . He does not know
She smiles from long ago . . .
She turns to him and smiles . . . Sunlight above him
Roars like a vast invisible sea,
Gold is beaten before him, shrill bells of silver;
He is released of weight, his body is free,
He lifts his arms to swim,
Dark years like sinister tides coil under him . . .
The lazy sea-waves crumble along the beach
With a whirring sound like wind in bells,
233
He lies outstretched on the yellow wind-worn sands
Reaching his lazy hands
Among the golden grains and sea-white shells . . .
'One white rose . . . or is it pink, to-day?'
They pause and smile, not caring what they say,
If only they may talk.
The crowd flows past them like dividing waters.
Dreaming they stand, dreaming they walk.
'Pink,—to-day!'—Face turns to dream-bright face,
Green leaves rise round them, sunshine settles upon them,
Water, in drops of silver, falls from the rose.
She smiles at a face that smiles through leaves from the mirror.
She breathes the fragrance; her dark eyes close . . .
Time is dissolved, it blows like a little dust:
Time, like a flurry of rain,
Patters and passes, starring the window-pane.
Once, long ago, one night,
She saw the lightning, with long blue quiver of light,
Ripping the darkness . . . and as she turned in terror
A soft face leaned above her, leaned softly down,
Softly around her a breath of roses was blown,
She sank in waves of quiet, she seemed to float
In a sea of silence . . . and soft steps grew remote . .
'Well, let us walk in the park . . . The sun is warm,
We'll sit on a bench and talk . . .' They turn and glide,
The crowd of faces wavers and breaks and flows.
'Look how the oak-tops turn to gold in the sunlight!
Look how the tower is changed and glows!'
Two lovers move in the crowd like a link of music,
We press upon them, we hold them, and let them pass;
A chord of music strikes us and straight we tremble;
We tremble like wind-blown grass.
What was this dream we had, a dream of music,
Music that rose from the opening earth like magic
And shook its beauty upon us and died away?
The long cold streets extend once more before us.
234
The red sun drops, the walls grow grey.
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
117:Illicit
Of what she said to me that night—no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness, verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory—
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution, only hung there,
And left me morbid. Where, then, had I heard it? ...
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust,' it said, 'dust .... and dust .... and sunlight ....
A cold clear April evening .... snow-bedraggled ....
Rain-worn snow dappling the hideous grass ....
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go ... .'
These were the phrases; but behind, beneath them,
A greater shadow moved, and in this shadow
I stood and guessed Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers?—
And had I danced, with her, upon this music?
Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood? .... No—much recenter than that.
You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow—leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound ;
Until of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And, scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it.
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted.
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all expected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
56
An April afternoon, eight years ago—
Or was it nine ?—no matter, call it nine—
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And she, who played this same thing later, playing.
She played this tune. And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap. She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide open, like a lotus,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.
'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you....
If she should ever know, or even guess it,
What would she do? Listen!—I'm not absurd....
I'm sure of it. If you had eyes for women,
To understand them, which you've never had,
You'd know it too . . . .' So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant .... while her ringers, softly,
Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure.
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it—nor conclude?
It paused .... and wandered .... paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go....
Well, April passed, with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains....
And she was right. And Miriam found it out....
And after that, when eight deep years had passed—
Or nine—we met once more, by accident.
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune? Or what, then, was intended?
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
118:The House Of Dust: Part 03: 04: Illicit
Of what she said to me that night—no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me—;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,—
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution—only hung there,
And left me morbid . . . Where, then, had I heard it? . . .
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust', it said, 'dust . . . and dust . . . and sunlight . .
A cold clear April evening . . . snow, bedraggled,
Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass . . .
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go . . . '
These were the phrases . . . but behind, beneath them
A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow
I stood and guessed . . . Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers—
And had I danced with her,—upon this music?
Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood?—No—much recenter than that.
You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow,—leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound:
Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it—
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted,
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars—;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
252
An April afternoon, eight years ago—
Or was it nine?—no matter—call it nine—
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And, she who played the same thing later, playing.
She played this tune. And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap. She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.
'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you . . .
If she should ever know, or even guess it,—
What would she do?—Listen!—I'm not absurd . . .
I'm sure of it. If you had eyes, for women—
To understand them—which you've never had—
You'd know it too . . . ' So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant . . . while her fingers, softly,
Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure . . .
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it—nor conclude?
It paused . . . and wandered . . . paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,—
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go . . .
Well, April passed with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains . . .
And she was right: and Miriam found it out . . .
And after that, when eight deep years had passed—
Or nine—we met once more,—by accident . . .
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune?—Or what, then, was intended? . . .
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
119:The Deserted Garden
I mind me in the days departed,
How often underneath the sun
With childish bounds I used to run
To a garden long deserted.
The beds and walks were vanished quite;
And wheresoe'er had struck the spade,
The greenest grasses Nature laid
To sanctify her right.
I called the place my wilderness,
For no one entered there but I;
The sheep looked in, the grass to espy,
And passed it ne'ertheless.
The trees were interwoven wild,
And spread their boughs enough about
To keep both sheep and shepherd out,
But not a happy child.
Adventurous joy it was for me!
I crept beneath the boughs, and found
A circle smooth of mossy ground
Beneath a poplar tree.
Old garden rose-trees hedged it in,
Bedropt with roses waxen-white
Well satisfied with dew and light
And careless to be seen.
Long years ago it might befall,
When all the garden flowers were trim,
The grave old gardener prided him
On these the most of all.
Some lady, stately overmuch,
Here moving with a silken noise,
Has blushed beside them at the voice
That likened her to such.
227
And these, to make a diadem,
She often may have plucked and twined,
Half-smiling as it came to mind
That few would look at them.
Oh, little thought that lady proud,
A child would watch her fair white rose,
When buried lay her whiter brows,
And silk was changed for shroud!
Nor thought that gardener, (full of scorns
For men unlearned and simple phrase,)
A child would bring it all its praise
By creeping through the thorns!
To me upon my low moss seat,
Though never a dream the roses sent
Of science or love's compliment,
I ween they smelt as sweet.
It did not move my grief to see
The trace of human step departed:
Because the garden was deserted,
The blither place for me!
Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken
Has childhood 'twixt the sun and sward;
We draw the moral afterward,
We feel the gladness then.
And gladdest hours for me did glide
In silence at the rose-tree wall:
A thrush made gladness musical
Upon the other side.
Nor he nor I did e'er incline
To peck or pluck the blossoms white;
How should I know but roses might
Lead lives as glad as mine?
To make my hermit-home complete,
228
I brought dear water from the spring
Praised in its own low murmuring,
And cresses glossy wet.
And so, I thought, my likeness grew
(Without the melancholy tale)
To 'Gentle Hermit of the Dale,'
And Angelina too.
For oft I read within my nook
Such minstrel stories; till the breeze
Made sounds poetic in the trees,
And then I shut the book.
If I shut this wherein I write
I hear no more the wind athwart
Those trees, nor feel that childish heart
Delighting in delight.
My childhood from my life is parted,
My footstep from the moss which drew
Its fairy circle round: anew
The garden is deserted.
Another thrush may there rehearse
The madrigals which sweetest are;
No more for me! myself afar
Do sing a sadder verse.
Ah me, ah me! when erst I lay
In that child's-nest so greenly wrought,
I laughed unto myself and thought
'The time will pass away.'
And still I laughed, and did not fear
But that, whene'er was past away
The childish time, some happier play
My womanhood would cheer.
I knew the time would pass away,
And yet, beside the rose-tree wall,
Dear God, how seldom, if at all,
229
Did I look up to pray!
The time is past; and now that grows
The cypress high among the trees,
And I behold white sepulchres
As well as the white rose, -When graver, meeker thoughts are given,
And I have learnt to lift my face,
Reminded how earth's greenest place
The color draws from heaven, -It something saith for earthly pain,
But more for Heavenly promise free,
That I who was, would shrink to be
That happy child again.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
120:The Blessed Damozel
The blessed damozel lean'd out
From the gold bar of Heaven;
Her eyes were deeper than the depth
Of waters still'd at even;
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.
Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,
But a white rose of Mary's gift,
For service meetly worn;
Her hair that lay along her back
Was yellow like ripe corn.
Her seem'd she scarce had been a day
One of God's choristers;
The wonder was not yet quite gone
From that still look of hers;
Albeit, to them she left, her day
Had counted as ten years.
(To one, it is ten years of years.
. . . Yet now, and in this place,
Surely she lean'd o'er me--her hair
Fell all about my face ....
Nothing: the autumn-fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)
It was the rampart of God's house
That she was standing on;
By God built over the sheer depth
The which is Space begun;
So high, that looking downward thence
She scarce could see the sun.
It lies in Heaven, across the flood
Of ether, as a bridge.
Beneath, the tides of day and night
With flame and darkness ridge
372
The void, as low as where this earth
Spins like a fretful midge.
Around her, lovers, newly met
'Mid deathless love's acclaims,
Spoke evermore among themselves
Their heart-remember'd names;
And the souls mounting up to God
Went by her like thin flames.
And still she bow'd herself and stoop'd
Out of the circling charm;
Until her bosom must have made
The bar she lean'd on warm,
And the lilies lay as if asleep
Along her bended arm.
From the fix'd place of Heaven she saw
Time like a pulse shake fierce
Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove
Within the gulf to pierce
Its path; and now she spoke as when
The stars sang in their spheres.
The sun was gone now; the curl'd moon
Was like a little feather
Fluttering far down the gulf; and now
She spoke through the still weather.
Her voice was like the voice the stars
Had when they sang together.
(Ah sweet! Even now, in that bird's song,
Strove not her accents there,
Fain to be hearken'd? When those bells
Possess'd the mid-day air,
Strove not her steps to reach my side
Down all the echoing stair?)
"I wish that he were come to me,
For he will come," she said.
"Have I not pray'd in Heaven?--on earth,
Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd?
373
Are not two prayers a perfect strength?
And shall I feel afraid?
"When round his head the aureole clings,
And he is cloth'd in white,
I'll take his hand and go with him
To the deep wells of light;
As unto a stream we will step down,
And bathe there in God's sight.
"We two will stand beside that shrine,
Occult, withheld, untrod,
Whose lamps are stirr'd continually
With prayer sent up to God;
And see our old prayers, granted, melt
Each like a little cloud.
"We two will lie i' the shadow of
That living mystic tree
Within whose secret growth the Dove
Is sometimes felt to be,
While every leaf that His plumes touch
Saith His Name audibly.
"And I myself will teach to him,
I myself, lying so,
The songs I sing here; which his voice
Shall pause in, hush'd and slow,
And find some knowledge at each pause,
Or some new thing to know."
(Alas! We two, we two, thou say'st!
Yea, one wast thou with me
That once of old. But shall God lift
To endless unity
The soul whose likeness with thy soul
Was but its love for thee?)
"We two," she said, "will seek the groves
Where the lady Mary is,
With her five handmaidens, whose names
Are five sweet symphonies,
374
Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,
Margaret and Rosalys.
"Circlewise sit they, with bound locks
And foreheads garlanded;
Into the fine cloth white like flame
Weaving the golden thread,
To fashion the birth-robes for them
Who are just born, being dead.
"He shall fear, haply, and be dumb:
Then will I lay my cheek
To his, and tell about our love,
Not once abash'd or weak:
And the dear Mother will approve
My pride, and let me speak.
"Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,
To Him round whom all souls
Kneel, the clear-rang'd unnumber'd heads
Bow'd with their aureoles:
And angels meeting us shall sing
To their citherns and citoles.
"There will I ask of Christ the Lord
Thus much for him and me:-Only to live as once on earth
With Love,--only to be,
As then awhile, for ever now
Together, I and he."
She gaz'd and listen'd and then said,
Less sad of speech than mild,-"All this is when he comes." She ceas'd.
The light thrill'd towards her, fill'd
With angels in strong level flight.
Her eyes pray'd, and she smil'd.
(I saw her smile.) But soon their path
Was vague in distant spheres:
And then she cast her arms along
The golden barriers,
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And laid her face between her hands,
And wept. (I heard her tears.)
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti
121:Nocturne Of Remembered Spring
I.
Moonlight silvers the tops of trees,
Moonlight whitens the lilac shadowed wall
And through the evening fall,
Clearly, as if through enchanted seas,
Footsteps passing, an infinite distance away,
In another world and another day.
Moonlight turns the purple lilacs blue,
Moonlight leaves the fountain hoar and old,
And the boughs of elms grow green and cold,
Our footsteps echo on gleaming stones,
The leaves are stirred to a jargon of muted tones.
This is the night we have kept, you say:
This is the moonlit night that will never die.
Through the grey streets our memories retain
Let us go back again.
II.
Mist goes up from the river to dim the stars,
The river is black and cold; so let us dance
To flare of horns, and clang of cymbals and drums;
And strew the glimmering floor with roses,
And remember, while the rich music yawns and closes,
With a luxury of pain, how silence comes.
Yes, we loved each other, long ago;
We moved like wind to a music's ebb and flow.
At a phrase from violins you closed your eyes,
And smiled, and let me lead you how young we were!
Your hair, upon that music, seemed to stir.
Let us return there, let us return, you and I;
Through changeless streets our memories retain
Let us go back again.
III.
Mist goes up from the rain steeped earth, and clings
Ghostly with lamplight among drenched maple trees.
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We walk in silence and see how the lamplight flings
Fans of shadow upon it the music's mournful pleas
Die out behind us, the door is closed at last,
A net of silver silence is softly cast
Over our thought slowly we walk,
Quietly with delicious pause, we talk,
Of foolish trivial things; of life and death,
Time, and forgetfulness, and dust and truth;
Lilacs and youth.
You laugh, I hear the after taken breath,
You darken your eyes and turn away your head
At something I have said
Some intuition that flew too deep,
And struck a plageant chord.
Tonight, tonight you will remember it as you fall asleep,
Your dream will suddenly blossom with sharp delight,
Goodnight! You say.
The leaves of the lilac dip and sway;
The purple spikes of bloom
Nod their sweetness upon us, lift again,
Your white face turns, I am caught with pain
And silence descends, and dripping of dew from eaves,
And jeweled points of leaves.
IV.
I walk in a pleasure of sorrow along the street
And try to remember you; slow drops patter;
Water upon the lilacs has made them sweet;
I brush them with my sleeve, the cool drops scatter;
And suddenly I laugh and stand and listen
As if another had laughed a gust
Rustles the leaves, the wet spikes glisten;
And it seems as though it were you who had shaken the bough,
And spilled the fragrance I pursue your face again,
It grows more vague and lovely, it eludes me now.
I remember that you are gone, and drown in pain.
Something there was I said to you I recall,
Something just as the music seemed to fall
That made you laugh, and burns me still with pleasure.
What were those words the words like dripping fire?
I remember them now, and in sweet leisure
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Rehearse the scene, more exquisite than before,
And you more beautiful, and I more wise.
Lilacs and spring, and night, and your clear eyes,
And you, in white, by the darkness of a door:
These things, like voices weaving to richest music,
Flow and fall in the cool night of my mind,
I pursue your ghost among green leaves that are ghostly,
I pursue you, but cannot find.
And suddenly, with a pang that is sweetest of all,
I become aware that I cannot remember you;
The ghost I knew
Has silently plunged in shadows, shadows that stream and fall.
V.
Let us go in and dance once more
On the dream's glimmering floor,
Beneath the balcony festooned with roses.
Let us go in and dance once more.
The door behind us closes
Against an evening purple with stars and mist.
Let us go in and keep our tryst
With music and white roses, and spin around
In swirls of sound.
Do you foresee me, married and grown old?
And you, who smile about you at this room,
Is it foretold
That you must step from tumult into gloom,
Forget me, love another?
No, you are Cleopatra, fiercely young,
Laughing upon the topmost stair of night;
Roses upon the desert must be flung;
Above us, light by light,
Weaves the delirious darkness, petal fall,
And music breaks in waves on the pillared wall;
And you are Cleopatra, and do not care.
And so, in memory, you will always be
Young and foolish, a thing of dream and mist;
And so, perhaps when all is disillusioned,
And eternal spring returns once more,
Bringing a ghost of lovelier springs remembered,
You will remember me.
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VI.
Yet when we meet we seem in silence to say,
Pretending serene forgetfulness of our youth,
"Do you remember but then why should you remember!
Do you remember a certain day,
Or evening rather, spring evening long ago,
We talked of death, and love, and time, and truth,
And said such wise things, things that amused us so
How foolish we were, who thought ourselves so wise!"
And then we laugh, with shadows in our eyes.
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
122:O SORROW!
Why dost borrow
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?--
To give maiden blushes
To the white rose bushes?
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

O Sorrow!
Why dost borrow
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?--
To give the glow-worm light?
Or, on a moonless night,
To tinge, on siren shores, the salt sea-spry?

O Sorrow!
Why dost borrow
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?--
To give at evening pale
Unto the nightingale,
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

O Sorrow!
Why dost borrow
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?--
A lover would not tread
A cowslip on the head,
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day--
Nor any drooping flower
Held sacred for thy bower,
Wherever he may sport himself and play.

To Sorrow
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
I would deceive her
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,--
And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
Cold as my fears.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: what enamour'd bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side?

And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue--
'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din--
'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June
Tall chestnuts keep away the sun and moon:--
I rush'd into the folly!

Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white
For Venus' pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ****,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
Tipsily quaffing.

'Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
Your lutes, and gentler fate?'--
'We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
A-conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our wild minstrelsy!'

'Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?'--
'For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth!
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our mad minstrelsy!'

Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads--with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
Nor care for wind and tide.

Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days' journey in a moment done;
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
On spleenful unicorn.

I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
Before the vine-wreath crown!
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
To the silver cymbals' ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.
Into these regions came I, following him,
Sick-hearted, weary--so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear,
Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.

Young Stranger!
I've been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime;
Alas! 'tis not for me!
Bewitch'd I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.

Come then, Sorrow,
Sweetest Sorrow!
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
I thought to leave thee,
And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.

There is not one,
No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
Thou art her mother,
And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade.
by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes

~ John Keats, Song Of The Indian Maid, From Endymion

123:White Nocturne
The first soft snowflakes hovering down the night,
From one white cloud that hurries beneath the stars,Whispering over the black unfrozen pool,
Silently falling on withered leaves,
Eddying slowly among bare boughs of trees,The music you are to me is as ghostly as these,
Softly falling, softly passing,
Wandering slowly on dreamless air ...
The first soft snowflakes slanting down this night
Melt on the lifted palms of your hands,
Or in the fragrant darkness of your hair ...
One of them finds your lip, and you quietly laugh,
A laught that means to say
'This was the kiss you gave me yesterday,
Or the ghost of it- ah yes, the ghost of it ...
For the ghost of it is all we have to-day ...'
The first slow snowflakes pass
Leaving a sprinkled whiteness on leaves and grass,
The cloud whirls ghostlike against the cold bright stars,
Over the long black boughs that seem to reach
Forlornly after it,
And now it is gone, and suddenly we seem
To walk in silence where before we walked in speech ...
But the silence itself is exquisite,
Like a pause in music, ghostly with overtones,
And, silent, we seem to hear
The echoes of words we spoke and heard last year.
Clearly our footsteps sound on the moistened stones,
Clearly the lamplit hill-street gleams before us,
And silently we climb,
Climbing our tragic destiny together,
From lamp to lamp up the bright street of time.
II
You sit beneath the lamp and talk to me,
With dark hair somehow turned to fire,
Your white hands lie in your lap, or touch your lips,
And your talk, like music, weaving intricately,
Plays upon me. It is a magic of white
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Touching and changing all familiar things;
It flows in the windy night,
It quietly opens secret doors, it sings,
It returns upon itself, repeats, denies,
Or takes sweet pleasure in silence. And all the while
You sit beneath the lamp, and smile,
Or turn away your eyes.
We remember, you seem to say,Choosing strange words to say it, in another way,How slowly and how inevitably we change,
How what was then familiar now grows strange ...
White valleys fall between us,
Your words become a wind, and heavily blow,
We seem to be crying across a chasm of snow,
Trying to hear the half-remembered words,
Trying to guess what we no longer know.
Yes, life changes, we are never the same ...
Your eyes grow dark with a tiny flame,
You say the words, and wait,
And a sudden terror seizes me, for I fear
That you have divined the things that I have forgotten,
Things that still shine before you white and clear.
Yes, it is strange ... You sigh, your talk flows on,
You touch your hair with your hands, and sigh,
And suddenly then it seems to me that this word,
This word so quietly said, was a terrible cry ...
And I am confused, I desire to touch your hand,
But again white chasms open, the night flows chill,
And something freezes within me, and I am still.
III
The snowflakes tick the frosted windowpane,
The night is mad with the senseless dance of flakes,
The coal fire sinks and shakes;
And I wait by the window, and look along the street,
To where in the snow, beneath a lamp,
A man and a woman stand:
He is leaning close to her face, he takes her hand,
He pleads with her, she tries to turn away ...
What is it he leans to say?
What is the savage music he plays upon her?
What chords profound with memories?
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He takes her in his arms, and she is his,
She lifts her face in the sombre light,
And together, slowly, they walk away
Whirled about by the mad dance of snow;
Down the white silent street from lamp to lamp they go,
Into the immortal night.
Where have they gone? Where will the white streets lead them?
To what tempestuous or ignoble end?
To what faint peace, or dazzling pain?
The snowflakes whirl and madden my brain,
They whirl in patterns before my eyes ...
And I see them at last in a small and sombre room,
In the yellow lamplight I see them rise;
She smiles, and lifts white hands to touch her hair:
And he waits wearily in the eternal chair.
IV
I would like to touch this snow with the wind of a dream,
With a sudden warmth of music, and turn it all
To petals of roses ... Why is it that I recall
Your two pale hands holding a bowl of roses,
Wide open like lotos flowers, floating in water?
I would like to touch this snow with the wind of a dream;
To hold the world in my hands and let it fall.
We have walked among the hills immortally white,
Golden by noon and blue by night.
I would like to touch this snow with the wind of a dream:
And hear you singing again by a starlight wall ...
You talk to me- what is it that you are saying?
April ... April ... the soft sun falls between,
The deep white chasm, the gorge of the frozen river,
Flashes with white and green;
And we are walking there by the blue river,
By the blue river scaled with golden fire,
Our feet move pace for pace through the tall grasses,
And the earth is light with desire.
Youth ... youth ... so sing we for a space ...
And darkness comes over your face,
A great cloud crosses the golden sky,
Wind shakes the leaves, you fall in the grass and cry;
336
Crying silently, hiding your face with your hands.
Youth ... youth ... so sing we for a space,
And you are crying, I know,
Because this day, this youth, this beauty, must go,
Go down into the dust.
The golden river is dark with a sudden gust,
The green of the willows is ruffled grey,
A great cloud crosses the sky,
Wind shakes the leaves, you fall in the grass and cry.
Youth ... April ... we clamour to them to stay,
And a shadow is on us, for we know that love must die.
And rising, then, we see white peaks in the distance ...
White peaks ... quiet ... peace ... eternity.
VI
Do you remember, you who smiled at me,
Under this lamp, here in this world of snow,
Do you remember, long ago ...
What was I going to tell you? What was my dream to be?
It does not matter; for all we need to say
To strike our hearts to a bitter-chorded music
Is 'do you remember ... on a certain day ...'
And all the years fall down from us like leaves,
And all this sinister world is blown away.
Take my hand and dream of youth once more,
Take my arm, and let us walk
On the wet flagstones gleaming yellow with lamps,
And along the sea-furled shore;
Or up a certain flight of marble stairs,
Resting our hands on the green-veined balustrade,
And into a room where a low-toned waltz is played,
And women rise from gilded chairs.
Ah, this has been a golden day,You lean and say,A day like music of strange rich involutions,
Swift and profound and huddled and sweet ...
The wind of it blows even into this room,
There is a hint of forests in this rich gloom ...
You smile, your eyes intensely darken at mine,
I feel the music about us heavily beat,
Waver and vanish and shine.
One white rose with a golden heart-
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Held in the cup of your handTo-day, I muse, all things will find solution,
The universe is simple to understand.
Take my arm, and let us drift
Like leaves when the wind is driven; for the day soon ends.
It is strange how such a day, with such a music,
And one white rose, will make friends more than friends.
VII
White hours like snow, white hours like eternal snow ...
Long white streets jewelled with lights ...
Our steps are muffled and silent, we scarcely know
How swiftly we cross the nights.
I would like to touch this snow with the fire of a dream,
With the mouth of a dream. And turn it all
To petals of roses ... I would like to touch you, too,
And change you into the chord of music I knew.
Can you not change?... Run back again to April?
Laugh out at me from among young lilac leaves?...
Play with your jewels, and sing!
Feeling the earth beneath you float with spring!...
You talk in an even tone, I answer you;
And all about us seems to say
Peace ... peace ... the hills and streets are cold.
You are growing cold.
VIII
Yes, we have changed, slowly and silently changed;
We are the hungry ghosts of the selves we knew;
We sit on each other's tombs and stare at death,
We are not lovely, we scarcely believe it true,And only then with a pang that is almost a cry,That once, long ago, we were the I and the you
Who shivered in music under an April sky.
White night of snow, and a thousand nights like this;
Snow on our lips like the ghost of a kiss;
And a thousand nights in a hollow second of time
We will return again,
Silently, or with trivial speech, to climb
From lamp to lamp up the white street of pain.
Yet, is it better, you say,
Painfully turning your darkened eyes away,
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To lend our souls to a quieter music at last,Remembering, when we will,
The sudden and gorgeous clashings of the past?...
Snow falls about us, the hills immortally white
Wait far off in the undisturbing night.
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
124:The Charnel Rose: A Symphony
She rose in moonlight, and stood, confronting sea,
With her bare arms uplifted,
And lifted her voice in the silence foolishly:
And her face was small, and her voice was small.
'O moon!' she cried, 'I think how you must tire
Forever circling earth, so silently;
Earth, who is dark and makes you no reply.'
She only heard the little waves rush and fall;
And saw the moon go quietly down the sky.
Like a white figurehead in the seafaring wind,
She stood in the moonlight,
And heard her voice cry, ghostly and thinned,
Over the seethe of foam,
Saying, 'O numberless waters, I think it strange
How you can always shadow her face, and change
And yet never weary of her, having no ease.'
But the sea said nothing, no word at all:
Unquietly, as in sleep, she saw it rise and fall;
And the moon spread a net of silver over the foam.
She lifted her hands and let them fall again,
Impatient of the silence. And in despair,
Hopeless of final answer against her pain,
She said, to the stealthy air,
'O air, far traveller, who from the stars are blown,
Float pollen of suns, you are an unseen sea
Lifting and bearing the words, eternally.
O air, do you not weary of your task?'
- She stood in the silence, frightened and alone,
And heard her syllables ask and ask.
And then, as she walked in the moonlight, so alone,
Lost and small in a soulless sea,
Hearing no voice make answer to her own,
From that infinity, Suddenly she was aware of a low whisper,
A dreadful heartless sound; and she stood still, There in the beach grass, on a sandy hill, -
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And heard the stars, making a ghostly whisper;
And the soulless whisper of sun and moon and tree;
And the sea, rising and falling with a blind moan.
And as she faded into the night,
A glimmer of white,
With her arms uplifted and her face bowed down;
Sinking, again, into the sleep of sands,
The sea-sands white and brown;
Or among the sea-grass rustling as one more blade,
Pushing before her face her cinquefoil hands;
Or sliding, stealthy as foam, into the sea,
With a slow seethe and whisper:
Too late to find her, yet not too late to see,
Came he, who sought forever unsatisfied,
And saw her enter and shut the darkness,
Desired and swift,
And caught at the rays of the moon, yet found but darkness,
Caught at the flash of his feet, to fill his hands
With the sleepy pour of sands.
'O moon!' he said: 'was it you I followed?
You, who put silver madness into my eyes? -'
But he only heard, in the dark, a stifled laughter,
And the rattle of dead leaves blowing.
'O wind! -' he said - 'was it you I followed?
Your hand I felt against my face? -'
But he only heard, in the dark, a stifled laughter,
And shadows crept past him. with furtive pace,
Breathing night upon him; and one by one
The ghosts of leaves flew past him, seeking the sun.
And a silent star slipped golden down the darkness,
Down the great wall, leaving no trace in the sky,
And years went with it, and worlds. And he dreamed still
Of a fleeter shadow among the shadows running,
Foam into foam, without a gesture or cry,
Leaving him there, alone, on a lonely hill.
I. Part 2
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Evening: in the twilight town
One by one the stars stepped down,
Each to assume his destined place:
And there he saw the destined face.
Her eyes were void, here eyes were deep:
She came like one who moved in sleep:
And when she looked across the night
Beneath, among, those points of light,
Into his heart she shot a pang,
As if a voice within him sang,
Sang and was silent. Down the street,
And lost in darkness, fled the feet;
Ambiguous, the street-lamp's gleam
Mocked at her eyes, and then the dream
From shuttered window, shadowed hall,
Chuckled beyond a lampless wall.
Among the crowding lights he went,
Where faces massed like lillies blent,
And this time plucked and made his own
Above snarled music's undertone:
Breathing the perfume of her hair,
He touched her arm, but suddenly there
As in a dance of shadows fleeing
(His eyes were shut for fear of seeing)
He watched red roses dropt apart
Each to disclose a charnel heart.
Ghostly with powder in the night,
Her hand upon his arm was white:
Her gown was light, and lightly blew,
A gauze of flame it burned him through.
Under the singing lamp she stood,
And smiled in subtly fugitive mood,
From depth to depth of wingless skies
Withdrawing batlike down her eyes:
And in his heart an echo came
Of quick dust quaking under flame.
Pale walls enclosed light shed
A yellow flicker across the bed.
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Loud steps rang through the street, and then
The hush of night grew deep again.
Two shadows on the wall made one What human walls were here flung down,
The light extinguished as in pain,
The weak light dying in the brain?
Green leaves pushed up through yielding air
Greedy for life she loosed her hair
With conscious and indifferent hands.
. . . High on his cliff, above hard sands,
He saw the moonlit ocean come
In ever-inward rings of foam,
Heard them break to shoot and seethe
Ever inward far beneath:
The ringed horizon rhythmic coming
And in the moonlight silent foaming:
But the dream changed: thick minutes dripped:
Between his fingers a fleet light slipped:
Was gone, was lost:
And on the sand, or in his brain,
He saw red roses fall again:
Rose-wreathed skeletons advanced
And clumsily lifted foot and danced:
And he saw the roses drop apart
Each to disclose a charnel heart.
Whose were these loathed and empty eyes?
Who, falling, in these wingless skies?
This was not she: he rose, withdrew:
One shadow on the wall made two,
The human walls stood up again:
Far in the night, or in his brain,
He heard her whisper, felt her pass,
Shadow of spirit over glass.
I. Part 3
And a silent star slipped golden down the darkness,
Taking his life with it, like a little cloud
Consumed in fire and speed, diffused in darkness:
Tangled and caught together, the days, the years,
His voice, his lifted hands,
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Were ravelled and sped; where, by the sea, he bowed
And dreamed of the foam that crept back into the sea,
And the wandering leaves that crept back into the tree.
I. Part 4
Roses, he thought, were kin to her,
Pure text of dust; and learning these
He might more surely win to her,
Speak her own tongue to pledge and please.
What vernal kinship, then, was this
That spoke and perished in a breath?
In leaves, she was near enough to kiss,
And yet, impalpable as death.
Spading dark earth, he tore apart
Exquisite roots: she fled from him.
Her stigma, in the crocus heart,
Probed for delicately, would swim
Lazily faint away on air,
Not to be caught or held: she fled
Before him, wavering, everywhere,
A summer's secret behind he shed.
Music? He found it under earth,
Quick veins of fire: he heard her sing.
Upward it broke, a springing mirth,
A fugitive and amazing thing,
It flashed before his crazy feet,
He danced upon it, it would not stay,
His hands against its brightness beat,
But still it broke in light away.
O bird - he cried - if bird you are,
Keep still those frantic wings a while! . . .
Thus dancing for the evening star,
In hope to capture it by guile.
I. Part 5
The moon rose, and the moon set;
And the stars rushed up and whirled and set;
And again they swarmed, after a shaft of sunlight;
And the dark blue dusk closed above him, like an ocean of regret.
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White trident fires were lit on the tops of towers;
Monstrous and black the towers broke the sky.
The ghostly fountain shot and tumbled in showers;
Gaunt leaves turned down above it, thirstily.
The gold fish, and the fish with fins of silver,
Quivered in lamplight, rose with sinister eye,
And darted into the darkness, silently.
The faces that looked at him were his own faces,
They streamed along the streets, they licked like fire,
Flowed with undulant paces,
Reflected in the darkness stared at him,
Contemplative, despairing,
Swept silently aside, becoming dim,
With a vague impotent gesture at the sky,
Uncontrolled and little caring;
And he watched them with an introspective eye.
To shape this world of leaderless ghostly passions Or else be mobbed by it - there was the question:
Green leaves above him whispered the slow question,
Black ripples on the pool chuckled of passions.
And between the uneasy shoulders of two trees,
Huge, against impalpable gust of blue,
A golden star slid down to leafy seas,
A star he somehow knew.
Youths tripped after him, laughing, but he fled them:
He heard them mock him, in affected tones.
Their lamia mouthes, so smiling, bade him fear them.
His own face leered at him, with timid lust,
Was overwhelmed in night.
He turned aside, and walked in graveyard dust, In the dew-dabbled, clinging dust, And terror seized him, seeing the stones so white;
And the wet grass, frozen and motionless in the moonlight;
And the green-tongued moonlight, crawling in thick dust.
Was it murky vapor, here, that dulled the stars? Or his own guilty breath that clouded heaven? Pale hands struck down with spades.
And it was he, with dew upon his face,
150
Who dug the foul earth in that dripping place,
Turning his back on heaven.
And it was he who found the desired dead;
And kissed the languid head;
While shadows frisked about him in moonlight,
Whirled and capered and leapt,
Caught each other and mimicked lust in the moonlight,
In the dew-wet dust, above the dead who slept.
But this - was it this he rose from and desired?
Black mould of leaves clung wetly about his feet.
He was lost, and alone, and tired,
A mist curled round him coldly, touched his face,
Shadows with eyes were gathering in that place;
And he dreamed of a lamplit street.
But roses fell through the darkness,
They writhed before him out of the mould,
Opened their hearts to pour out darkness,
Darkness of flesh, of lust grown old.
He struggled against them, beat,
Broke them with hands to feel the blood flow warm,
Reeled, when they opened their hearts,
Feeling them with their eyes closed push and swarm,
Thronging about his throat, pressing his mouth,
Beating his temples, choking his breath . . .
Help, you stars! - wet darkness showered upon him.
He was dissolved in a deep cold dream of death.
White fires were lit upon the tops of towers,
The towers shouldered the sky:
The ghostly fountain shot and tumbled in showers,
Gaunt leaves leaned down above it, thirstily.
And he looked with laughter upon the lamplit ripples
Each with its little image of the light,
And thought the minds of men were like black ripples,
Ripples of darkness, darkly huddled in night,
Each of them with its image of lamp or star,
Thinking itself the star.
And it seemed to him, as he looked upon them, laughing,
That he was the star they all in light reflected.
He was the god who had been rejected,
151
Stoned and trampled upon a filthy street,
Hung up in lamplight for young men to beat,
Cursed and spat upon; and all for saying
There was no life save life of fast and praying.
Or had he been a beggar, with bare feet?
Or a cruel ascetic, trampling roses down? . . .
Roses are death! he cried. He turned in hatred,
And saw red fires burst up above the town;
And a swarm of faces rising, green with hatred.
And silence descended, on dripping trees:
And dew-spats slowly spat from leaves to stones.
He had walked these gardens, he thought, before.
The fountain chuckled;
The leaves rustled, in whispers, along a shore.
And the moon rose, and the moon set;
And the stars rushed up, and swarmed, and set;
And again they swarmed, after a shaft of sunlight;
And the blue dusk closed above him, like an ocean of regret.
II. Part 1
And at times it seemed,
Walking with her of whom he subtly dreamed,
That her young body was ringed with flame,
Hover of fire,
And that she went and came,
Impalpable fiery blossom of desire,
Into his heart and out of his heart again,
With every breath, and every breath was pain.
And if he touched her hand, she drew away,
Becoming something vast; and stretched her hair
Suddenly, like black rain, across the sun.
Till he grew fearful, seeing her there,
To think that he loved such a one,
Who rose against the sky to shut out day.
But at times it seemed,
Walking with her of whom he subtly dreamed,
(Music beneath the sea)
That she was texture of earth no less than he;
Among the leaves her face
152
Gleamed with familiar grace;
And walking slowly through old gardens,
Among the cool blue cedars,
Spreading her hands in the silent dazzle of sunlight,
Her voice and the air were sweetly married;
Her laughter trembled like music out of the earth;
her body was like the cool blue cedars,
Fragrant in sunlight.
And he quivered, to think that he was the blade, in sunlight,
To flash, and strip these boughs, and spill their fragrance.
Wind hurried the last year's leaves, their shadows hurried,
And clouds blew down the sky.
Where would they be with a year gone by?
Let us be quick: there is time to overcome:
The earth grows old, the moon is already dead,
But you are young, you tremble because you love me,
It is all we have. Let nothing more be said.
What do we care for a star that floats down heaven,
That fiery tear of time?
It spoke to us once, it will not speak again,
It will be no more remembered than last year's rain;
There will be other dusks for us to walk through,
And other stars will float down heaven.
Time is undone: Between our hands it slips,
Goes out between us, the breath upon our lips.
Do not look over your shoulder to see it falling!
Shadows gather and brood, under the trees.
The world grows silent, it listens to hear us walking;
Let the star perish: we wander as we please.
Or is the earth beneath us an old star falling,
Falling through twilight to leafy seas?
The night grows damp: I will take your arm.
Follow the lanterns, lest we come to harm.
IV. Part 6
Twilight: a cold green sky.
Low massed clouds, with dazzling sinister edges,
And a sea gull, falling in high pale sunlight.
153
Dusk, - the encroachment of poisonous shadows,
The leisurely lighting of lamps;
And a gradual silence of restless trees.
Mist of twilight in my heart:
I who was always catching at fire.
Mould of black leaves under my feet;
I, whose star was desire.
Earth spins in her shadow.
Let us turn and go back
To the first of out loves The one who was moonlight and the fall of white roses!
We are struck down, we hear no music.
The moisture of night is in our hands.
Time takes us. We are eternal.
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
125:S. Patrick. You who are bent, and bald, and blind,
With a heavy heart and a wandering mind,
Have known three centuries, poets sing,
Of dalliance with a demon thing.

Oisin. Sad to remember, sick with years,
The swift innumerable spears,
The horsemen with their floating hair,
And bowls of barley, honey, and wine,
Those merry couples dancing in tune,
And the white body that lay by mine;
But the tale, though words be lighter than air.
Must live to be old like the wandering moon.

Caoilte, and Conan, and Finn were there,
When we followed a deer with our baying hounds.
With Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
And passing the Firbolgs' burial-moteds,
Came to the cairn-heaped grassy hill
Where passionate Maeve is stony-still;
And found On the dove-grey edge of the sea
A pearl-pale, high-born lady, who rode
On a horse with bridle of findrinny;
And like a sunset were her lips,
A stormy sunset on doomed ships;
A citron colour gloomed in her hair,

But down to her feet white vesture flowed,
And with the glimmering crimson glowed
Of many a figured embroidery;
And it was bound with a pearl-pale shell
That wavered like the summer streams,
As her soft bosom rose and fell.

S. Patrick. You are still wrecked among heathen dreams.

Oisin. 'Why do you wind no horn?' she said
'And every hero droop his head?
The hornless deer is not more sad
That many a peaceful moment had,
More sleek than any granary mouse,
In his own leafy forest house
Among the waving fields of fern:
The hunting of heroes should be glad.'

'O pleasant woman,' answered Finn,
'We think on Oscar's pencilled urn,
And on the heroes lying slain
On Gabhra's raven-covered plain;
But where are your noble kith and kin,
And from what country do you ride?'

'My father and my mother are
Aengus and Edain, my own name
Niamh, and my country far
Beyond the tumbling of this tide.'

'What dream came with you that you came
Through bitter tide on foam-wet feet?
Did your companion wander away
From where the birds of Aengus wing?'
Thereon did she look haughty and sweet:
'I have not yet, war-weary king,
Been spoken of with any man;
Yet now I choose, for these four feet
Ran through the foam and ran to this
That I might have your son to kiss.'

'Were there no better than my son
That you through all that foam should run?'

'I loved no man, though kings besought,
Until the Danaan poets brought
Rhyme that rhymed upon Oisin's name,
And now I am dizzy with the thought
Of all that wisdom and the fame
Of battles broken by his hands,
Of stories builded by his words
That are like coloured Asian birds
At evening in their rainless lands.'

O Patrick, by your brazen bell,
There was no limb of mine but fell
Into a desperate gulph of love!
'You only will I wed,' I cried,
'And I will make a thousand songs,
And set your name all names above,
And captives bound with leathern thongs
Shall kneel and praise you, one by one,
At evening in my western dun.'

'O Oisin, mount by me and ride
To shores by the wash of the tremulous tide,
Where men have heaped no burial-mounds,
And the days pass by like a wayward tune,
Where broken faith has never been known
And the blushes of first love never have flown;
And there I will give you a hundred hounds;
No mightier creatures bay at the moon;
And a hundred robes of murmuring silk,
And a hundred calves and a hundred sheep
Whose long wool whiter than sea-froth flows,
And a hundred spears and a hundred bows,
And oil and wine and honey and milk,
And always never-anxious sleep;
While a hundred youths, mighty of limb,
But knowing nor tumult nor hate nor strife,
And a hundred ladies, merry as birds,
Who when they dance to a fitful measure
Have a speed like the speed of the salmon herds,
Shall follow your horn and obey your whim,
And you shall know the Danaan leisure;
And Niamh be with you for a wife.'
Then she sighed gently, 'It grows late.
Music and love and sleep await,
Where I would be when the white moon climbs,
The red sun falls and the world grows dim.'

And then I mounted and she bound me
With her triumphing arms around me,
And whispering to herself enwound me;
He shook himself and neighed three times:
Caoilte, Conan, and Finn came near,
And wept, and raised their lamenting hands,
And bid me stay, with many a tear;
But we rode out from the human lands.
In what far kingdom do you go'
Ah Fenians, with the shield and bow?
Or are you phantoms white as snow,
Whose lips had life's most prosperous glow?
O you, with whom in sloping valleys,
Or down the dewy forest alleys,
I chased at morn the flying deer,
With whom I hurled the hurrying spear,
And heard the foemen's bucklers rattle,
And broke the heaving ranks of battle!
And Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
Where are you with your long rough hair?
You go not where the red deer feeds,
Nor tear the foemen from their steeds.

S. Patrick. Boast not, nor mourn with drooping head
Companions long accurst and dead,
And hounds for centuries dust and air.

Oisin. We galloped over the glossy sea:
I know not if days passed or hours,
And Niamh sang continually
Danaan songs, and their dewy showers
Of pensive laughter, unhuman sound,
Lulled weariness, and softly round
My human sorrow her white arms wound.
We galloped; now a hornless deer
Passed by us, chased by a phantom hound
All pearly white, save one red ear;
And now a lady rode like the wind
With an apple of gold in her tossing hand;
And a beautiful young man followed behind
With quenchless gaze and fluttering hair.
'Were these two born in the Danaan land,
Or have they breathed the mortal air?'

'Vex them no longer,' Niamh said,
And sighing bowed her gentle head,
And sighing laid the pearly tip
Of one long finger on my lip.

But now the moon like a white rose shone
In the pale west, and the sun'S rim sank,
And clouds atrayed their rank on rank
About his fading crimson ball:
The floor of Almhuin's hosting hall
Was not more level than the sea,
As, full of loving fantasy,
And with low murmurs, we rode on,
Where many a trumpet-twisted shell
That in immortal silence sleeps
Dreaming of her own melting hues,
Her golds, her ambers, and her blues,
Pierced with soft light the shallowing deeps.
But now a wandering land breeze came
And a far sound of feathery quires;
It seemed to blow from the dying flame,
They seemed to sing in the smouldering fires.
The horse towards the music raced,
Neighing along the lifeless waste;
Like sooty fingers, many a tree
Rose ever out of the warm sea;
And they were trembling ceaselessly,
As though they all were beating time,
Upon the centre of the sun,
To that low laughing woodland rhyme.
And, now our wandering hours were done,
We cantered to the shore, and knew
The reason of the trembling trees:
Round every branch the song-birds flew,
Or clung thereon like swarming bees;
While round the shore a million stood
Like drops of frozen rainbow light,
And pondered in a soft vain mood
Upon their shadows in the tide,
And told the purple deeps their pride,
And murmured snatches of delight;
And on the shores were many boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns, and fish-eating stoats,
And swans with their exultant throats:
And where the wood and waters meet
We tied the horse in a leafy clump,
And Niamh blew three merry notes
Out of a little silver trump;
And then an answering whispering flew
Over the bare and woody land,
A whisper of impetuous feet,
And ever nearer, nearer grew;
And from the woods rushed out a band
Of men and ladies, hand in hand,
And singing, singing all together;
Their brows were white as fragrant milk,
Their cloaks made out of yellow silk,
And trimmed with many a crimson feather;
And when they saw the cloak I wore
Was dim with mire of a mortal shore,
They fingered it and gazed on me
And laughed like murmurs of the sea;
But Niamh with a swift distress
Bid them away and hold their peace;
And when they heard her voice they ran
And knelt there, every girl and man,
And kissed, as they would never cease,
Her pearl-pale hand and the hem of her dress.
She bade them bring us to the hall
Where Aengus dreams, from sun to sun,
A Druid dream of the end of days
When the stars are to wane and the world be done.

They led us by long and shadowy ways
Where drops of dew in myriads fall,
And tangled creepers every hour
Blossom in some new crimson flower,
And once a sudden laughter sprang
From all their lips, and once they sang
Together, while the dark woods rang,
And made in all their distant parts,
With boom of bees in honey-marts,
A rumour of delighted hearts.
And once a lady by my side
Gave me a harp, and bid me sing,
And touch the laughing silver string;
But when I sang of human joy
A sorrow wrapped each merry face,
And, patrick! by your beard, they wept,
Until one came, a tearful boy;
'A sadder creature never stept
Than this strange human bard,' he cried;
And caught the silver harp away,
And, weeping over the white strings, hurled
It down in a leaf-hid, hollow place
That kept dim waters from the sky;
And each one said, with a long, long sigh,
'O saddest harp in all the world,
Sleep there till the moon and the stars die!'

And now, still sad, we came to where
A beautiful young man dreamed within
A house of wattles, clay, and skin;
One hand upheld his beardless chin,
And one a sceptre flashing out
Wild flames of red and gold and blue,
Like to a merry wandering rout
Of dancers leaping in the air;
And men and ladies knelt them there
And showed their eyes with teardrops dim,
And with low murmurs prayed to him,
And kissed the sceptre with red lips,
And touched it with their finger-tips.
He held that flashing sceptre up.
'Joy drowns the twilight in the dew,
And fills with stars night's purple cup,
And wakes the sluggard seeds of corn,
And stirs the young kid's budding horn,
And makes the infant ferns unwrap,
And for the peewit paints his cap,
And rolls along the unwieldy sun,
And makes the little planets run:
And if joy were not on the earth,
There were an end of change and birth,
And Earth and Heaven and Hell would die,
And in some gloomy barrow lie
Folded like a frozen fly;
Then mock at Death and Time with glances
And wavering arms and wandering dances.

'Men's hearts of old were drops of flame
That from the saffron morning came,
Or drops of silver joy that fell
Out of the moon's pale twisted shell;
But now hearts cry that hearts are slaves,
And toss and turn in narrow caves;
But here there is nor law nor rule,
Nor have hands held a weary tool;
And here there is nor Change nor Death,
But only kind and merry breath,
For joy is God and God is joy.'
With one long glance for girl and boy
And the pale blossom of the moon,
He fell into a Druid swoon.

And in a wild and sudden dance
We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance
And swept out of the wattled hall
And came to where the dewdrops fall
Among the foamdrops of the sea,
And there we hushed the revelry;
And, gathering on our brows a frown,
Bent all our swaying bodies down,
And to the waves that glimmer by
That sloping green De Danaan sod
Sang, 'God is joy and joy is God,
And things that have grown sad are wicked,
And things that fear the dawn of the morrow
Or the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

We danced to where in the winding thicket
The damask roses, bloom on bloom,
Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom.
And bending over them softly said,
Bending over them in the dance,
With a swift and friendly glance
From dewy eyes: 'Upon the dead
Fall the leaves of other roses,
On the dead dim earth encloses:
But never, never on our graves,
Heaped beside the glimmering waves,
Shall fall the leaves of damask roses.
For neither Death nor Change comes near us,
And all listless hours fear us,
And we fear no dawning morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

The dance wound through the windless woods;
The ever-summered solitudes;
Until the tossing arms grew still
Upon the woody central hill;
And, gathered in a panting band,
We flung on high each waving hand,
And sang unto the starry broods.
In our raised eyes there flashed a glow
Of milky brightness to and fro
As thus our song arose: 'You stars,
Across your wandering ruby cars
Shake the loose reins: you slaves of God.
He rules you with an iron rod,
He holds you with an iron bond,
Each one woven to the other,
Each one woven to his brother
Like bubbles in a frozen pond;
But we in a lonely land abide
Unchainable as the dim tide,
With hearts that know nor law nor rule,
And hands that hold no wearisome tool,
Folded in love that fears no morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

O Patrick! for a hundred years
I chased upon that woody shore
The deer, the badger, and the boar.
O patrick! for a hundred years
At evening on the glimmering sands,
Beside the piled-up hunting spears,
These now outworn and withered hands
Wrestled among the island bands.
O patrick! for a hundred years
We went a-fishing in long boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns and fish-eating stoats.
O patrick! for a hundred years
The gentle Niamh was my wife;
But now two things devour my life;
The things that most of all I hate:
Fasting and prayers.

S. Patrick.   Tell on.

Oisin.         Yes, yes,
For these were ancient Oisin's fate
Loosed long ago from Heaven's gate,
For his last days to lie in wait.
When one day by the tide I stood,
I found in that forgetfulness
Of dreamy foam a staff of wood
From some dead warrior's broken lance:
I turned it in my hands; the stains
Of war were on it, and I wept,
Remembering how the Fenians stept
Along the blood-bedabbled plains,
Equal to good or grievous chance:
Thereon young Niamh softly came
And caught my hands, but spake no word
Save only many times my name,
In murmurs, like a frighted bird.
We passed by woods, and lawns of clover,
And found the horse and bridled him,
For we knew well the old was over.
I heard one say, 'His eyes grow dim
With all the ancient sorrow of men';
And wrapped in dreams rode out again
With hoofs of the pale findrinny
Over the glimmering purple sea.
Under the golden evening light,
The Immortals moved among the fountains
By rivers and the woods' old night;
Some danced like shadows on the mountains
Some wandered ever hand in hand;
Or sat in dreams on the pale strand,
Each forehead like an obscure star
Bent down above each hooked knee,
And sang, and with a dreamy gaze
Watched where the sun in a saffron blaze
Was slumbering half in the sea-ways;
And, as they sang, the painted birds
Kept time with their bright wings and feet;
Like drops of honey came their words,
But fainter than a young lamb's bleat.

'An old man stirs the fire to a blaze,
In the house of a child, of a friend, of a brother.
He has over-lingered his welcome; the days,
Grown desolate, whisper and sigh to each other;
He hears the storm in the chimney above,
And bends to the fire and shakes with the cold,
While his heart still dreams of battle and love,
And the cry of the hounds on the hills of old.

But We are apart in the grassy places,
Where care cannot trouble the least of our days,
Or the softness of youth be gone from our faces,
Or love's first tenderness die in our gaze.
The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
She limps along in an aged whiteness;
A storm of birds in the Asian trees
Like tulips in the air a-winging,
And the gentle waves of the summer seas,
That raise their heads and wander singing,
Must murmur at last, "Unjust, unjust";
And "My speed is a weariness," falters the mouse,
And the kingfisher turns to a ball of dust,
And the roof falls in of his tunnelled house.
But the love-dew dims our eyes till the day
When God shall come from the Sea with a sigh
And bid the stars drop down from the sky,
And the moon like a pale rose wither away.'

~ William Butler Yeats, The Wanderings Of Oisin - Book I

126:The Deserted Garden
I know a village in a far-off land
Where from a sunny, mountain-girdled plain
With tinted walls a space on either hand
And fed by many an olive-darkened lane
The high-road mounts, and thence a silver band
Through vineyard slopes above and rolling grain,
Winds off to that dim corner of the skies
Where behind sunset hills a stately city lies.
Here, among trees whose overhanging shade
Strews petals on the little droves below,
Pattering townward in the morning weighed
With greens from many an upland garden-row,
Runs an old wall; long centuries have frayed
Its scalloped edge, and passers to and fro
Heard never from beyond its crumbling height
Sweet laughter ring at noon or plaintive song at night.
But here where little lizards bask and blink
The tendrils of the trumpet-vine have run,
At whose red bells the humming bird to drink
Stops oft before his garden feast is done;
And rose-geraniums, with that tender pink
That cloud-banks borrow from the setting sun,
Have covered part of this old wall, entwined
With fair plumbago, blue as evening heavens behind.
And crowning other parts the wild white rose
Rivals the honey-suckle with the bees.
Above the old abandoned orchard shows
And all within beneath the dense-set trees,
Tall and luxuriant the rank grass grows,
That settled in its wavy depth one sees
Grass melt in leaves, the mossy trunks between,
Down fading avenues of implicated green;
Wherein no lack of flowers the verdurous night
With stars and pearly nebula o'erlay;
Azalea-boughs half rosy and half white
94
Shine through the green and clustering apple-spray,
Such as the fairy-queen before her knight
Waved in old story, luring him away
Where round lost isles Hesperian billows break
Or towers loom up beneath the clear, translucent lake;
And under the deep grass blue hare-bells hide,
And myrtle plots with dew-fall ever wet,
Gay tiger-lilies flammulate and pied,
Sometime on pathway borders neatly set,
Now blossom through the brake on either side,
Where heliotrope and weedy mignonette,
With vines in bloom and flower-bearing trees,
Mingle their incense all to swell the perfumed breeze,
That sprung like Hermes from his natal cave
In some blue rampart of the curving West,
Comes up the valleys where green cornfields wave,
Ravels the cloud about the mountain crest,
Breathes on the lake till gentle ripples pave
Its placid floor; at length a long-loved guest,
He steals across this plot of pleasant ground,
Waking the vocal leaves to a sweet vernal sound.
Here many a day right gladly have I sped,
Content amid the wavy plumes to lie,
And through the woven branches overhead
Watch the white, ever-wandering clouds go by,
And soaring birds make their dissolving bed
Far in the azure depths of summer sky,
Or nearer that small huntsman of the air,
The fly-catcher, dart nimbly from his leafy lair;
Pillowed at case to hear the merry tune
Of mating warblers in the boughs above
And shrill cicadas whom the hottest noon
Keeps not from drowsy song; the mourning dove
Pours down the murmuring grove his plaintive croon
That like the voice of visionary love
Oft have I risen to seek through this green maze
(Even as my feet thread now the great world's garden-ways);
95
And, parting tangled bushes as I passed
Down beechen allies beautiful and dim,
Perhaps by some deep-shaded pool at last
My feet would pause, where goldfish poise and swim,
And snowy callas' velvet cups are massed
Around the mossy, fern-encircled brim.
Here, then, that magic summoning would cease,
Or sound far off again among the orchard trees.
And here where the blanched lilies of the vale
And violets and yellow star-flowers teem,
And pink and purple hyacinths exhale
Their heavy fume, once more to drowse and dream
My head would sink, from many an olden tale
Drawing imagination's fervid theme,
Or haply peopling this enchanting spot
Only with fair creations of fantastic thought.
For oft I think, in years long since gone by,
That gentle hearts dwelt here and gentle hands
Stored all this bowery bliss to beautify
The paradise of some unsung romance;
Here, safe from all except the loved one's eye,
'Tis sweet to think white limbs were wont to glance,
Well pleased to wanton like the flowers and share
Their simple loveliness with the enamored air.
Thrice dear to them whose votive fingers decked
The altars of First Love were these green ways,
These lawns and verdurous brakes forever flecked
With the warm sunshine of midsummer days;
Oft where the long straight allies intersect
And marble seats surround the open space,
Where a tiled pool and sculptured fountain stand,
Hath Evening found them seated, silent, hand in hand.
When twilight deepened, in the gathering shade
Beneath that old titanic cypress row,
Whose sombre vault and towering colonnade
Dwarfed the enfolded forms that moved below,
Oft with close steps these happy lovers strayed,
Till down its darkening aisle the sunset glow
96
Grew less and patterning the garden floor
Faint flakes of filtering moonlight mantled more and more.
And the strange tempest that a touch imparts
Through the mid fibre of the molten frame,
When the sweet flesh in early youth asserts
Its heyday verve and little hints enflame,
Disturbed them as they walked; from their full hearts
Welled the soft word, and many a tender name
Strove on their lips as breast to breast they strained
And the deep joy they drank seemed never, never drained.
Love's soul that is the depth of starry skies
Set in the splendor of one upturned face
To beam adorably through half-closed eyes;
Love's body where the breadth of summer days
And all the beauty earth and air comprise
Come to the compass of an arm's embrace,
To burn a moment on impassioned lips
And yield intemperate joy to quivering finger-tips,
They knew; and here where morning-glories cling
Round carven forms of carefullest artifice,
They made a bower where every outward thing
Should comment on the cause of their own bliss;
With flowers of liveliest hue encompassing
That flower that the beloved body is
That rose that for the banquet of Love's bee
Has budded all the æons of past eternity.
But their choice seat was where the garden wall,
Crowning a little summit, far and near,
Looks over tufted treetops onto all
The pleasant outer country; rising here
From rustling foliage where cuckoos call
On summer evenings, stands a belvedere,
Buff-hued, of antique plaster, overrun
With flowering vines and weatherworn by rain and sun.
Still round the turrets of this antique tower
The bougainvillea hangs a crimson crown,
Wistaria-vines and clematis in flower,
97
Wreathing the lower surface further down,
Hide the old plaster in a very shower
Of motley blossoms like a broidered gown.
Outside, ascending from the garden grove,
A crumbling stairway winds to the one room above.
And whoso mounts by this dismantled stair
Finds the old pleasure-hall, long disarrayed,
Brick-tiled and raftered, and the walls foursquare
Ringed all about with a twofold arcade.
Backward dense branches intercept the glare
Of afternoon with eucalyptus shade;
Eastward the level valley-plains expand,
Sweet as a queen's survey of her own Fairyland.
For through that frame the ivied arches make,
Wide tracts of sunny midland charm the eye,
Frequent with hamlet grove, and lucent lake
Where the blue hills' inverted contours lie;
Far to the east where billowy mountains break
In surf of snow against a sapphire sky,
Huge thunderheads loom up behind the ranges,
Changing from gold to pink as deepening sunset changes;
And over plain and far sierra spread
The fulgent rays of fading afternoon,
Showing each utmost peak and watershed
All clarified, each tassel and festoon
Of floating cloud embroidered overhead,
Like lotus-leaves on bluest waters strewn,
Flushing with rose, while all breathes fresh and free
In peace and amplitude and bland tranquillity.
Dear were such evenings to this gentle pair;
Love's tide that launched on with a blast too strong
Sweeps toward the foaming reef, the hidden snare,
Baffling with fond illusion's siren-song,
Too faint, on idle shoals, to linger there
Far from Youth's glowing dream, bore them along,
With purple sail and steered by seraph hands
To isles resplendent in the sunset of romance.
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And out of this old house a flowery fane,
A bridal bower, a pearly pleasure-dome,
They built, and furnished it with gold and grain,
And bade all spirits of beauty hither come,
And wingéd Love to enter with his train
And bless their pillow, and in this his home
Make them his priests as Hero was of yore
In her sweet girlhood by the blue Dardanian shore.
Tree-ferns, therefore, and potted palms they brought,
Tripods and urns in rare and curious taste,
Polychrome chests and cabinets inwrought
With pearl and ivory etched and interlaced;
Pendant brocades with massive braid were caught,
And chain-slung, oriental lamps so placed
To light the lounger on some low divan,
Sunken in swelling down and silks from Hindustan.
And there was spread, upon the ample floors,
Work of the Levantine's laborious loom,
Such as by Euxine or Ionian shores
Carpets the dim seraglio's scented gloom.
Each morn renewed, the garden's flowery stores
Blushed in fair vases, ochre and peach-bloom,
And little birds through wicker doors left wide
Flew in to trill a space from the green world outside.
And there was many a dainty attitude,
Bronze and eburnean. All but disarrayed,
Here in eternal doubt sweet Psyche stood
Fain of the bath's delight, yet still afraid
Lest aught in that palatial solitude
Lurked of most menace to a helpless maid.
Therefore forever faltering she stands,
Nor yet the last loose fold slips rippling from her hands.
Close by upon a beryl column, clad
In the fresh flower of adolescent grace,
They set the dear Bithynian shepherd lad,
The nude Antinous. That gentle face,
Forever beautiful, forever sad,
Shows but one aspect, moon-like, to our gaze,
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Yet Fancy pictures how those lips could smile
At revelries in Rome, and banquets on the Nile.
And there were shapes of Beauty myriads more,
Clustering their rosy bridal bed around,
Whose scented breadth a silken fabric wore
Broidered with peacock hues on creamiest ground,
Fit to have graced the barge that Cydnus bore
Or Venus' bed in her enchanted mound,
While pillows swelled in stuffs of Orient dyes,
All broidered with strange fruits and birds of Paradise.
'Twas such a bower as Youth has visions of,
Thither with one fair spirit to retire,
Lie upon rose-leaves, sleep and wake with Love
And feast on kisses to the heart's desire;
Where by a casement opening on a grove,
Wide to the wood-winds and the sweet birds' choir,
A girl might stand and gaze into green boughs,
Like Credhe at the window of her golden house.
Or most like Vivien, the enchanting fay,
Where with her friend, in the strange tower they planned,
She lies and dreams eternity away,
Above the treetops in Broceliande,
Sometimes at twilight when the woods are gray
And wolf-packs howl far out across the lande,
Waking to love, while up behind the trees
The large midsummer moon lifts-even so loved these.
For here, their pleasure was to come and sit
Oft when the sun sloped midway to the west,
Watching with sweet enjoyment interknit
The long light slant across the green earth's breast,
And clouds upon the ranges opposite,
Rolled up into a gleaming thundercrest,
Topple and break and fall in purple rain,
And mist of summer showers trail out across the plain.
Whereon the shafts of ardent light, far-flung
Across the luminous azure overhead,
Ofttimes in arcs of transient beauty hung
100
The fragmentary rainbow's green and red.
Joy it was here to love and to be young,
To watch the sun sink to his western bed,
And streaming back out of their flaming core
The vesperal aurora's glorious banners soar.
Tinging each altitude of heaven in turn,
Those fiery rays would sweep. The cumuli
That peeped above the mountain-tops would burn
Carmine a space; the cirrus-whorls on high,
More delicate than sprays of maiden fern,
Streak with pale rose the peacock-breasted sky,
Then blanch. As water-lilies fold at night,
Sank back into themselves those plumes of fervid light.
And they would watch the first faint stars appear,
The blue East blend with the blue hills below,
As lovers when their shuddering bliss draws near
Into one pulse of fluid rapture grow.
New fragrance on the freshening atmosphere
Would steal with evening, and the sunset glow
Draw deeper down into the wondrous west
Round vales of Proserpine and islands of the blest.
So dusk would come and mingle lake and shore,
The snow-peaks fade to frosty, opaline,
To pearl the doméd clouds the mountains bore,
Where late the sun's effulgent fire had been
Showing as darkness deepened more and more
The incandescent lightnings flare within,
And Night that furls the lily in the glen
And twines impatient arms would fall, and then---and then . . .
Sometimes the peasant, coming late from town
With empty panniers on his little drove
Past the old lookout when the Northern Crown
Glittered with Cygnus through the scented grove,
Would hear soft noise of lute-strings wafted down
And voices singing through the leaves above
Those songs that well from the warm heart that woos
At balconies in Merida or Vera Cruz.
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And he would pause under the garden wall,
Caught in the spell of that voluptuous strain,
With all the sultry South in it, and all
Its importunity of love and pain;
And he would wait till the last passionate fall
Died on the night, and all was still again.
Then to his upland village wander home,
Marvelling whence that flood of elfin song might come.
O lyre that Love's white holy hands caress,
Youth, from thy bosom welled their passionate lays
Sweet opportunity for happiness
So brief, so passing beautiful---O days,
When to the heart's divine indulgences
All earth in smiling ministration pays
Thine was the source whose plenitude, past over,
What prize shall rest to pluck, what secret to discover!
The wake of color that follows her when May
Walks on the hills loose-haired and daisy-crowned,
The deep horizons of a summer's day,
Fair cities, and the pleasures that abound
Where music calls, and crowds in bright array
Gather by night to find and to be found;
What were these worth or all delightful things
Without thine eyes to read their true interpretings!
For thee the mountains open glorious gates,
To thee white arms put out from orient skies,
Earth, like a jewelled bride for one she waits,
Decks but to be delicious in thine eyes,
Thou guest of honor for one day, whose fêtes
Eternity has travailed to devise;
Ah, grace them well in the brief hour they last!
Another's turn prepares, another follows fast.
Yet not without one fond memorial
Let my sun set who found the world so fair!
Frail verse, when Time the singer's coronal
Has rent, and stripped the rose-leaves from his hair,
Be thou my tablet on the temple wall!
Among the pious testimonials there,
102
Witness how sweetly on my heart as well
The miracles of dawn and starry evening fell!
Speak of one then who had the lust to feel,
And, from the hues that far horizons take,
And cloud and sunset, drank the wild appeal,
Too deep to live for aught but life's sweet sake,
Whose only motive was the will to kneel
Where Beauty's purest benediction spake,
Who only coveted what grove and field
And sunshine and green Earth and tender arms could yield--A nympholept, through pleasant days and drear
Seeking his faultless adolescent dream,
A pilgrim down the paths that disappear
In mist and rainbows on the world's extreme,
A helpless voyager who all too near
The mouth of Life's fair flower-bordered stream,
Clutched at Love's single respite in his need
More than the drowning swimmer clutches at a reed--That coming one whose feet in other days
Shall bleed like mine for ever having, more
Than any purpose, felt the need to praise
And seek the angelic image to adore,
In love with Love, its wonderful, sweet ways
Counting what most makes life worth living for,
That so some relic may be his to see
How I loved these things too and they were dear to me.
I sometimes think a conscious happiness
Mantles through all the rose's sentient vine
When summer winds with myriad calyces
Of bloom its clambering height incarnadine;
I sometimes think that cleaving lips, no less,
And limbs that crowned desires at length entwine
Are nerves through which that being drinks delight,
Whose frame is the green Earth robed round with day and night.
And such were theirs: the traveller without,
Pausing at night under the orchard trees,
Wondered and crossed himself in holy doubt,
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For through their song and in the murmuring breeze
It seemed angelic choirs were all about
Mingling in universal harmonies,
As though, responsive to the chords they woke,
All Nature into sweet epithalamium broke.
And still they think a spirit haunts the place:
'Tis said, when Night has drawn her jewelled pall
And through the branches twinkling fireflies trace
Their mimic constellations, if it fall
That one should see the moon rise through the lace
Of blossomy boughs above the garden wall,
That surely would he take great ill thereof
And famish in a fit of unexpressive love.
But this I know not, for what time the wain
Was loosened and the lily's petal furled,
Then I would rise, climb the old wall again,
And pausing look forth on the sundown world,
Scan the wide reaches of the wondrous plain,
The hamlet sites where settling smoke lay curled,
The poplar-bordered roads, and far away
Fair snowpeaks colored with the sun's last ray.
Waves of faint sound would pulsate from afar
Faint song and preludes of the summer night;
Deep in the cloudless west the evening star
Hung 'twixt the orange and the emerald light;
From the dark vale where shades crepuscular
Dimmed the old grove-girt belfry glimmering white,
Throbbing, as gentlest breezes rose or fell,
Came the sweet invocation of the evening bell.
~ Alan Seeger
127:The Botanic Garden (Part Vi)
THE LOVES OF THE PLANTS.
CANTO II.
Again the Goddess strikes the golden lyre,
And tunes to wilder notes the warbling wire;
With soft suspended step Attention moves,
And Silence hovers o'er the listening groves;
Orb within orb the charmed audience throng,
And the green vault reverberates the song.
'Breathe soft, ye Gales!' the fair CARLINA cries,
Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies.
How sweetly mutable yon orient hues,
As Morn's fair hand her opening roses strews;
How bright, when Iris blending many a ray
Binds in embroider'd wreath the brow of Day;
Soft, when the pendant Moon with lustres pale
O'er heaven's blue arch unfurls her milky veil;
While from the north long threads of silver light
Dart on swift shuttles o'er the tissued night!
'Breathe soft, ye Zephyrs! hear my fervent sighs,
Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies!'-Plume over plume in long divergent lines
On whale-bone ribs the fair Mechanic joins;
Inlays with eider down the silken strings,
And weaves in wide expanse Dædalian wings;
Round her bold sons the waving pennons binds,
And walks with angel-step upon the winds.
So on the shoreless air the intrepid Gaul
Launch'd the vast concave of his buoyant ball.Journeying on high, the silken castle glides
Bright as a meteor through the azure tides;
O'er towns and towers and temples wins its way,
Or mounts sublime, and gilds the vault of day.
Silent with upturn'd eyes unbreathing crowds
Pursue the floating wonder to the clouds;
And, flush'd with transport or benumb'd with fear,
Watch, as it rises, the diminish'd sphere.
-Now less and less!-and now a speck is seen!-
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And now the fleeting rack obtrudes between!With bended knees, raised arms, and suppliant brow
To every shrine with mingled cries they vow.'Save Him, ye Saints! who o'er the good preside;
'Bear Him, ye Winds! ye Stars benignant! guide.'
-The calm Philosopher in ether fails,
Views broader stars, and breathes in purer gales;
Sees, like a map, in many a waving line
Round Earth's blue plains her lucid waters mine;
Sees at his feet the forky lightnings glow,
And hears innocuous thunders roar below.
--Rife, great MONGOLFIER! urge thy venturous flight
High o'er the Moon's pale ice-reflected light;
High o'er the pearly Star, whose beamy horn.
Hangs in the east, gay harbinger of morn;
Leave the red eye of Mars on rapid wing;
Jove's silver guards, and Saturn's dusky ring;
Leave the fair beams, which, issuing from afar;
Play with new lustres round the Georgian star;
Shun with strong oars the Sun's attractive throne,
The sparkling zodiack, and the milky zone;
Where headlong Comets with increasing force
Through other systems bend their blazing course.For thee Cassiope her chair withdraws,
For thee the Bear retracts his shaggy paws;
High o'er the North thy golden orb shall roll,
And blaze eternal round the wondering pole.
So Argo, rising from the southern main,
Lights with new stars the blue etherial plain;
With favoring beams the mariner protects,
And the bold course, which first it steer'd, directs.
Inventress of the Woof, fair LINA flings
The flying shuttle through the dancing strings;
Inlays the broider'd weft with flowery dyes,
Quick beat the reeds, the pedals fall and rise;
Slow from the beam the lengths of warp unwind,
And dance and nod the massy weights behind.Taught by her labours, from the fertile soil
Immortal Isis clothed the banks of Nile;
And fair ARACHNE with her rival loom
Found undeserved a melancholy doom.-
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Five
Sister-nymphs with dewy fingers twine
The beamy flax, and stretch the fibre-line;
Quick eddying threads from rapid spindles reel,
Or whirl with beaten foot the dizzy wheel.
-Charm'd round the busy Fair
five
shepherds press,
Praise the nice texture of their snowy dress,
Admire the Artists, and the art approve,
And tell with honey'd words the tale of love.
So now, where Derwent rolls his dusky floods
Through vaulted mountains, and a night of woods,
The Nymph, GOSSYPIA, treads the velvet sod,
And warms with rosy smiles the watery God;
His ponderous oars to slender spindles turns,
And pours o'er massy wheels his foamy urns;
With playful charms her hoary lover wins,
And wields his trident,-while the Monarch spins.
-First with nice eye emerging Naiads cull
From leathery pods the vegetable wool;
With wiry teeth
revolving cards
release
The tanged knots, and smooth the ravell'd fleece;
Next moves the
iron-band
with fingers fine,
Combs the wide card, and forms the eternal line;
Slow, with soft lips, the
whirling Can
acquires
The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires;
With quicken'd pace
successive rollers
move,
And these retain, and those extend the
rove
Then fly the spoles, the rapid axles glow;And slowly circumvolves the labouring wheel below.
PAPYRA, throned upon the banks of Nile,
43
Spread her smooth leaf, and waved her silver style.
-The storied pyramid, the laurel'd bust,
The trophy'd arch had crumbled into dust;
The sacred symbol, and the epic song,
(Unknown the character, forgot the tongue,)
With each unconquer'd chief, or fainted maid,
Sunk undistinguish'd in Oblivion's shade.
Sad o'er the scatter'd ruins Genius sigh'd,
And infant Arts but learn'd to lisp and died.
Till to astonish'd realms PAPYRA taught
To paint in mystic colours Sound and Thought.
With Wisdom's voice to print the page sublime,
And mark in adamant the steps of Time.
-Three favour'd youths her soft attention share,
The fond disciples of the studious Fair,
Hear her sweet voice, the golden process prove;
Gaze, as they learn; and, as they listen, love.
The first
from Alpha to Omega joins
The letter'd tribes along the level lines;
Weighs with nice ear the vowel, liquid, surd,
And breaks in syllables the volant word.
Then forms
the next
upon the marshal'd plain
In deepening ranks his dexterous cypher-train;
And counts, as wheel the decimating bands,
The dews of Ægypt, or Arabia's sands,
And then
the third
on four concordant lines
Prints the lone crotchet, and the quaver joins;
Marks the gay trill, the solemn pause inscribes,
And parts with bars the undulating tribes.
Pleased round her cane-wove throne, the applauding crowd
Clap'd their rude hands, their swarthy foreheads bow'd;
With loud acclaim 'a present God!' they cry'd,
'A present God!' rebellowing shores reply'dThen peal'd at intervals with mingled swell
The echoing harp, shrill clarion, horn, and shell;
While Bards ecstatic, bending o'er the lyre,
44
Struck deeper chords, and wing'd the song with fire.
Then mark'd Astronomers with keener eyes
The Moon's refulgent journey through the skies;
Watch'd the swift Comets urge their blazing cars,
And weigh'd the Sun with his revolving Stars.
High raised the Chemists their Hermetic wands,
(And changing forms obey'd their waving hands,)
Her treasur'd gold from Earth's deep chambers tore,
Or fused and harden'd her chalybeate ore.
All with bent knee from fair PAPYRA claim
Wove by her hands the wreath of deathless fame.
-Exulting Genius crown'd his darling child,
The young Arts clasp'd her knees, and Virtue smiled.
So now DELANY forms her mimic bowers,
Her paper foliage, and her silken flowers;
Her virgin train the tender scissars ply,
Vein the green leaf, the purple petal dye:
Round wiry stems the flaxen tendril bends,
Moss creeps below, and waxen fruit impends.
Cold Winter views amid his realms of snow
DELANY'S vegetable statues blow;
Smooths his stern brow, delays his hoary wing,
And eyes with wonder all the blooms of spring.
The gentle LAPSANA, NYMPHÆA fair,
And bright CALENDULA with golden hair,
Watch with nice eye the Earth's diurnal way,
Marking her solar and sidereal day,
Her slow nutation, and her varying clime,
And trace with mimic art the march of Time;
Round his light foot a magic chain they fling,
And count the quick vibrations of his wing.First in its brazen cell reluctant roll'd
Bends the dark spring in many a steely fold;
On spiral brass is stretch'd the wiry thong,
Tooth urges tooth, and wheel drives wheel along;
In diamond-eyes the polish'd axles flow,
Smooth slides the hand, the ballance pants below.
Round the white circlet in relievo bold
A Serpent twines his scaly length in gold;
And brightly pencil'd on the enamel'd sphere
Live the fair trophies of the passing year.
-Here
45
Time's
huge fingers grasp his giant-mace,
And dash proud Superstition from her base,
Rend her strong towers and gorgeous fanes, and shed
The crumbling fragments round her guilty head.
There the gay
Hours
, whom wreaths of roses deck,
Lead their young trains amid the cumberous wreck;
And, slowly purpling o'er the mighty waste,
Plant the fair growths of Science and of Taste.
While each light
Moment
, as it dances by
With feathery foot and pleasure-twinkling eye,
Feeds from its baby-hand, with many a kiss,
The callow nestlings of domestic Bliss.
As yon gay clouds, which canopy the skies,
Change their thin forms, and lose their lucid dyes;
So the soft bloom of Beauty's vernal charms
Fades in our eyes, and withers in our arms.
-Bright as the silvery plume, or pearly shell,
The snow-white rose, or lily's virgin bell,
The fair HELLEBORAS attractive shone,
Warm'd every Sage, and every Shepherd won.Round the gay sisters press the
enamour'd bands
And seek with soft solicitude their hands.
-Ere while how chang'd!-in dim suffusion lies
The glance divine, that lighten'd in their eyes;
Cold are those lips, where smiles seductive hung,
And the weak accents linger on their tongue;
Each roseat feature fades to livid green,-Disgust with face averted shuts the scene.
So from his gorgeous throne, which awed the world,
The mighty Monarch of the east was hurl'd,
To dwell with brutes beneath the midnight storm,
By Heaven's just vengeance changed in mind and form.
-Prone to the earth He bends his brow superb,
Crops the young floret and the bladed herb;
Lolls his red tongue, and from the reedy side
46
Of slow Euphrates laps the muddy tide.
Long eagle-plumes his arching neck invest,
Steal round his arms, and clasp his sharpen'd breast;
Dark brinded hairs in bristling ranks, behind,
Rise o'er his back, and rustle in the wind,
Clothe his lank sides, his shrivel'd limbs surround,
And human hands with talons print the ground.
Silent in shining troops the Courtier-throng
Pursue their monarch as he crawls along;
E'en Beauty pleads in vain with smiles and tears,
Nor Flattery's self can pierce his pendant ears.
Two
Sister-Nymphs to Ganges' flowery brink
Bend their light steps, the lucid water drink,
Wind through the dewy rice, and nodding canes,
(As
eight
black Eunuchs guard the sacred plains),
With playful malice watch the scaly brood,
And shower the inebriate berries on the flood.Stay in your crystal chambers, silver tribes!
Turn your bright eyes, and shun the dangerous bribes;
The tramel'd net with less destruction sweeps
Your curling shallows, and your azure deeps;
With less deceit, the gilded fly beneath,
Lurks the fell hook unseen,-to taste is death!-Dim your slow eyes, and dull your pearly coat,
Drunk on the waves your languid forms shall float,
On useless fins in giddy circles play,
And Herons and Otters seize you for their prey.So, when the Saint from Padua's graceless land
In silent anguish sought the barren strand,
High on the shatter'd beech sublime He stood,
Still'd with his waving arm the babbling flood;
'To Man's dull ear,' He cry'd, 'I call in vain,
'Hear me, ye scaly tenants of the main!'Misshapen Seals approach in circling flocks,
In dusky mail the Tortoise climbs the rocks,
Torpedoes, Sharks, Rays, Porpus, Dolphins, pour
Their twinkling squadrons round the glittering shore;
47
With tangled fins, behind, huge Phocæ glide,
And Whales and Grampi swell the distant tide.
Then kneel'd the hoary Seer, to heaven address'd
His fiery eyes, and smote his sounding breast;
'Bless ye the Lord!' with thundering voice he cry'd,
'Bless ye the Lord!' the bending shores reply'd;
The winds and waters caught the sacred word,
And mingling echoes shouted 'Bless the Lord!'
The listening shoals the quick contagion feel,
Pant on the floods, inebriate with their zeal,
Ope their wide jaws, and bow their slimy heads,
And dash with frantic fins their foamy beds.
Sopha'd on silk, amid her charm-built towers,
Her meads of asphodel, and amaranth bowers,
Where Sleep and Silence guard the soft abodes,
In sullen apathy PAPAVER nods.
Faint o'er her couch in scintillating streams
Pass the thin forms of Fancy and of Dreams;
Froze by inchantment on the velvet ground
Fair youths and beauteous ladies glitter round;
On crystal pedestals they seem to sigh,
Bend the meek knee, and lift the imploring eye.
-And now the Sorceress bares her shrivel'd hand,
And circles thrice in air her ebon wand;
Flush'd with new life descending statues talk,
The pliant marble softening as they walk;
With deeper sobs reviving lovers breathe,
Fair bosoms rise, and soft hearts pant beneath;
With warmer lips relenting damsels speak,
And kindling blushes tinge the Parian cheek;
To viewless lutes aërial voices sing,
And hovering Loves are heard on rustling wing.
-She waves her wand again!-fresh horrors seize
Their stiffening limbs, their vital currents freeze;
By each cold nymph her marble lover lies,
And iron slumbers seal their glassy eyes.
So with his dread Caduceus HERMES led
From the dark regions of the imprison'd dead,
Or drove in silent shoals the lingering train
To Night's dull shore, and PLUTO'S dreary reign
So with her waving pencil CREWE commands
The realms of Taste, and Fancy's fairy lands;
48
Calls up with magic voice the shapes, that sleep
In earth's dark bosom, or unfathom'd deep;
That shrined in air on viewless wings aspire,
Or blazing bathe in elemental fire.
As with nice touch her plaistic hand she moves,
Rise the fine forms of Beauties, Graces, Loves;
Kneel to the fair Inchantress, smile or sigh,
And fade or flourish, as she turns her eye.
Fair CISTA, rival of the rosy dawn,
Call'd her light choir, and trod the dewy lawn;
Hail'd with rude melody the new-born May,
As cradled yet in April's lap she lay.
I.
'Born in yon blaze of orient sky,
'Sweet MAY! thy radiant form unfold;
'Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye,
'And wave thy shadowy locks of gold.
II.
'For Thee the fragrant zephyrs blow,
'For Thee descends the sunny shower;
'The rills in softer murmurs slow,
'And brighter blossoms gem the bower.
III.
'Light Graces dress'd in flowery wreaths
'And tiptoe Joys their hands combine;
'And Love his sweet contagion breathes,
'And laughing dances round thy shrine.
IV.
'Warm with new life the glittering throngs
'On quivering fin and rustling wing
'Delighted join their votive songs,
'And hail thee, GODDESS OF THE SPRING.'
O'er the green brinks of Severn's oozy bed,
49
In changeful rings, her sprightly troop She led;
PAN tripp'd before, where Eudness shades the mead,
And blew with glowing lip his sevenfold reed;
Emerging Naiads swell'd the jocund strain,
And aped with mimic step the dancing train.'I faint, I fall!'at noon
the Beauty cried,
'Weep o'er my tomb, ye Nymphs!'-and sunk and died.
-Thus, when white Winter o'er the shivering clime
Drives the still snow, or showers the silver rime;
As the lone shepherd o'er the dazzling rocks
Prints his steep step, and guides his vagrant flocks;
Views the green holly veil'd in network nice,
Her vermil clusters twinkling in the ice;
Admires the lucid vales, and slumbering floods,
Fantastic cataracts, and crystal woods,
Transparent towns, with seas of milk between,
And eyes with transport the refulgent scene:If breaks the sunshine o'er the spangled trees,
Or flits on tepid wing the western breeze,
In liquid dews descends the transient glare,
And all the glittering pageant melts in air.
Where Andes hides his cloud-wreath'd crest in snow,
And roots his base on burning sands below;
Cinchona, fairest of Peruvian maids
To Health's bright Goddess in the breezy glades
On Quito's temperate plain an altar rear'd,
Trill'd the loud hymn, the solemn prayer preferr'd:
Each balmy bud she cull'd, and honey'd flower,
And hung with fragrant wreaths the sacred bower;
Each pearly sea she search'd, and sparkling mine,
And piled their treasures on the gorgeous shrine;
Her suppliant voice for sickening Loxa raised,
Sweet breath'd the gale, and bright the censor blazed.
-'Divine HYGEIA! on thy votaries bend
Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!
While streaming o'er the night with baleful glare
The star of Autumn rays his misty hair;
Fierce from his fens the Giant AGUE springs,
And wrapp'd in fogs descends on vampire wings;
'Before, with shuddering limbs cold Tremor reels,
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And Fever's burning nostril dogs his heels;
Loud claps the grinning Fiend his iron hands,
Stamps with his marble feet, and shouts along the lands;
Withers the damask cheek, unnerves the strong,
And drives with scorpion-lash the shrieking throng.
Oh, Goddess! on thy kneeling votaries bend
Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!'
-HYGEIA, leaning from the blest abodes,
The crystal mansions of the immortal gods,
Saw the sad Nymph uplift her dewy eyes,
Spread her white arms, and breathe her fervid sighs;
Call'd to her fair associates, Youth, and Joy,
And shot all-radiant through the glittering sky;
Loose waved behind her golden train of hair,
Her sapphire mantle swam diffus'd in air.O'er the grey matted moss, and pansied sod,
With step sublime the glowing Goddess trod,
Gilt with her beamy eye the conscious shade,
And with her smile celestial bless'd the maid.
'Come to my arms,' with seraph voice she cries,
'Thy vows are heard, benignant Nymph! arise;
Where yon aspiring trunks fantastic wreath
Their mingled roots, and drink the rill beneath,
Yield to the biting axe thy sacred wood,
And strew the bitter foliage on the flood.'
In silent homage bow'd the blushing maid,Five
youths athletic hasten to her aid,
O'er the scar'd hills re-echoing strokes resound,
And headlong forests thunder on the ground.
Round the dark roots, rent bark, and shatter'd boughs,
From ocherous beds the swelling fountain flows;
With streams austere its winding margin laves,
And pours from vale to vale its dusky waves.
-As the pale squadrons, bending o'er the brink,
View with a sigh their alter'd forms, and drink;
Slow-ebbing life with refluent crimson breaks
O'er their wan lips, and paints their haggard cheeks;
Through each fine nerve rekindling transports dart,
Light the quick eye, and swell the exulting heart.
-Thus ISRAEL's heaven-taught chief o'er trackless lands
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Led to the sultry rock his murmuring bands.
Bright o'er his brows the forky radiance blazed,
And high in air the rod divine He raised.Wide yawns the cliff!-amid the thirsty throng
Rush the redundant waves, and shine along;
With gourds and shells and helmets press the bands,
Ope their parch'd lips, and spread their eager hands,
Snatch their pale infants to the exuberant shower,
Kneel on the shatter'd rock, and bless the Almighty Power.
Bolster'd with down, amid a thousand wants,
Pale Dropsy rears his bloated form, and pants;
'Quench me, ye cool pellucid rills!' he cries,
Wets his parch'd tongue, and rolls his hollow eyes.
So bends tormented TANTALUS to drink,
While from his lips the refluent waters shrink;
Again the rising stream his bosom laves,
And Thirst consumes him 'mid circumfluent waves.
-Divine HYGEIA, from the bending sky
Descending, listens to his piercing cry;
Assumes bright DIGITALIS' dress and air,
Her ruby cheek, white neck, and raven hair;
Four
youths protect her from the circling throng,
And like the Nymph the Goddess steps along.-O'er Him She waves her serpent-wreathed wand,
Cheers with her voice, and raises with her hand,
Warms with rekindling bloom his visage wan,
And charms the shapeless monster into man.
So when Contagion with mephitic breath
And withered Famine urged the work of death;
Marseilles' good Bishop, London's generous Mayor,
With food and faith, with medicine and with prayer,
Raised the weak head and stayed the parting sigh,
Or with new life relumed the swimming eye.-And now, PHILANTHROPY! thy rays divine
Dart round the globe from Zembla to the Line;
O'er each dark prison plays the cheering light,
Like northern lustres o'er the vault of night.From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crown'd,
Where'er Mankind and Misery are found,
O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow,
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Thy HOWARD journeying seeks the house of woe.
Down many a winding step to dungeons dank,
Where anguish wails aloud, and fetters clank;
To caves bestrew'd with many a mouldering bone,
And cells, whose echoes only learn to groan;
Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose,
No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows,
HE treads, inemulous of fame or wealth,
Profuse of toil, and prodigal of health;
With soft assuasive eloquence expands
Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching hands;
Leads stern-ey'd Justice to the dark domains,
If not to fever, to relax the chains;
Or guides awaken'd Mercy through the gloom,
And shews the prison, sister to the tomb!Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife,
To her fond husband liberty and life!-The Spirits of the Good, who bend from high
Wide o'er these earthly scenes their partial eye,
When first, array'd in VIRTUE'S purest robe,
They saw her HOWARD traversing the globe;
Saw round his brows her sun-like Glory blaze
In arrowy circles of unwearied rays;
Mistook a Mortal for an Angel-Guest,
And ask'd what Seraph-foot the earth imprest.
-Onward he moves!-Disease and Death retire,
And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire.'
Here paused the Goddess,-on HYGEIA'S shrine
Obsequious Gnomes repose the lyre divine;
Descending Sylphs relax the trembling strings,
And catch the rain-drops on their shadowy wings.
-And now her vase a modest Naiad fills
With liquid crystal from her pebbly rills;
Piles the dry cedar round her silver urn,
(Bright climbs the blaze, the crackling faggots burn),
Culls the green herb of China's envy'd bowers,
In gaudy cups the steamy treasure pours;
And, sweetly-smiling, on her bended knee
Presents the fragrant quintessence of Tea.
~ Erasmus Darwin
128:The Old Manor House
AN old house, crumbling half away, all barnacled and lichen-grown,
Of saddest, mellowest, softest grey,—with a grand history of its own—
Grand with the work and strife and tears of more than half a thousand years.
Such delicate, tender, russet tones of colour on its gables slept,
With streaks of gold betwixt the stones, where wind-sown flowers and mosses
crept:
Wild grasses waved in sun and shade o'er terrace slab and balustrade.
Around the clustered chimneys clung the ivy's wreathed and braided threads,
And dappled lights and shadows flung across the sombre browns and reds;
Where'er the graver's hand had been, it spread its tendrils bright and green.
Far-stretching branches shadowed deep the blazoned windows and broad eaves,
And rocked the faithful rooks asleep, and strewed the terraces with leaves.
A broken dial marked the hours amid damp lawns and garden bowers.
An old house, silent, sad, forlorn, yet proud and stately to the last;
Of all its power and splendour shorn, but rich with memories of the past;
And pitying, from its own decay, the gilded piles of yesterday.
Pitying the new race that passed by, with slighting note of its grey walls,—
And entertaining tenderly the shades of dead knights in its halls,
Whose blood, that soaked these hallowed sods, came down from Scandinavian
gods.
I saw it first in summer-time. The warm air hummed and buzzed with bees,
Where now the pale green hop-vines climb about the sere trunks of the trees,
And waves of roses on the ground scented the tangled glades around.
Some long fern-plumes drooped there—below; the heaven above was still and
blue;
Just here—between the gloom and glow—a cedar and an aged yew
Parted their dusky arms, to let the glory fall on Margaret.
She leaned on that old balustrade, her white dress tinged with golden air,
Her small hands loosely clasped, and laid amongst the moss and maidenhair:
I watched her, hearing, as I stood, a turtle cooing in the wood—
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Hearing a mavis far away, piping his dreamy interludes,
While gusts of soft wind, sweet with hay, swept through those garden
solitudes,—
And thinking she was lovelier e'en than my young ideal love had been.
Tall, with that subtle, sensitive grace, which made so plainly manifest
That she was born of noble race,—a cool, hushed presence, bringing rest,
Of one who felt and understood the dignity of womanhood.
Tall, with a slow, proud step and air; with skin half marble and half milk;
With twisted coils of raven hair, blue-tinged, and fine and soft as silk;
With haughty, clear-cut chin and cheek, and broad brows exquisitely Greek;
With still, calm mouth, whose dreamy smile possessed me like a haunting pain,
So rare, so sweet, so free from guile, with that slight accent of disdain;
With level, liquid tones that fell like chimings of a vesper bell;
With large, grave stag-eyes, soft, yet keen with slumbering passion, hazelbrown,
Long-lashed and dark, whose limpid sheen my thirsty spirit swallowed down;—
O poor, pale words, wherewith to paint my queen, my goddess, and my saint!
You see that oriel, ivy-grown, with the blurred sculpture underneath?
Her sweet head, like the Clytie's own, with a white stephanotis wreath
Inwoven with its coiling hair, first bent to me in greeting there.
I shall remember till I die that night when we were introduced!
The great Sir Hildebrand stood by—her cousin— scowling as he used
To scowl if e'en a poor dumb cur ventured to lift his eyes to her.
I cared not. Well I knew her grace was not for him. I watched them dance,
And knew it by her locked-up face, and her slow, haughty utterance.
I knew he chafed and raged to see how kind and sweet she was to me.
O dear old window!—nevermore the red and purple lights, that stray
Through your dim panes upon the floor on sunny summer-night, will lay
Soft rainbows on her glossy hair and the white dress she used to wear!
Those panes the ivy used to scratch—I hear it now when I'm alone!
A pair of martlets used to hatch their young ones in the sculptured stone;
Those warm slabs were the bloodhound's bed, with fine yew-needles carpeted.
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The missel-thrushes used to search there for the berries as they fell;
On that high twig, at morn, would perch a shy and shivering locustelle,—
From yon low sweep of furzy brake, we used to watch it thrill and shake.
The banksia roses twined a wreath all round that ancient coat and crest,
And trailed the time-worn steps beneath, and almost touched the martin's nest;
The honey bees swam in and out, and little lizards flashed about.
And when we flung the casement wide, the wind would play about her brow,
As she sat, etching, by my side,—I see the bright locks lifted now!
And such a view would meet our eyes of crimson woods and azure skies!
'Twas there, when fell the twilight hush, I used to feed her wistful ears,
And make her cheek and forehead flush, and her dark eyes fill full of tears,
With tales of my wild, fighting life—our bitter, brave Crimean strife.
We had, too, little concerts in that dear recess,—I used to play
Accompaniments on my violin, and she would sing “Old Robin Gray,”
And simple, tender Scottish songs of loyal love and royal wrongs.
My violin is dead for me, the dust lies thick upon the case;
And she is dead,—yet I can see e'en now the rapt and listening face;
And all about the garden floats the echo of those crying notes!
'Tis a sweet garden, is it not? So wild and tangled, nothing prim;
No quaint-cut bed, no shaven plot, no stunted bushes, stiff and trim;
Its flowers and shrubs all overblown, its long paths moss and lichen-grown.
'Twas on that terrace that we read the “Idylls,” sauntering up and down
With gentle, musing, measured tread, while leaves kept falling, gold and brown,
And mists kept rising, silver-grey, one still and peaceful autumn-day.
In those long glades we roamed apart, and studied Spanish, and the tales
Of Chaucer,—there we talked of art, and listened to the nightingales;
E'en now, when summer daylight dies, I hear their bubbling melodies.
You see that bower, half-hidden, made by the low-branching willow-tree?
We used to lounge there in the shade, and laugh, and gossip, and drink tea:
I wreathed her head with ferns, one night, and little rose-buds sweet and white.
It grew my habit, by-and-by, to gather all the flowers she wore;
She used to take them silently, or I would leave them at her door,—
And wait about till she was drest, to see them nestling on her breast.
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In that green nook she used to sit, and I would watch her as she worked.
Her face had such a spell in it, and such a subtle glamour lurked
In even the motion of her hand!—why, I could never understand.
'Twas there I tied the little strap that held her netting down, one day,
And kissed the soft palm in her lap, which she so gently drew away.
Ay me, we held our tongues for hours! and I plucked off and ate the flowers.
She would not look at me at first—I recollect it all so well!
Her delicate, downcast features, erst so pale, were tinted like a shell—
Then like the petals that enclose the inmost heart of a moss rose.
The others came and chatted round, but we could laugh and chat no more;
I propped my elbow on the ground, and watched her count her stitches o'er;
Their talk I did not comprehend,—she was too busy to attend.
The days passed on, and still we sat in our old place; but things were changed.
We were so silent after that!—so oddly formal—so estranged!
No more we met to worship art,—our little pathways branched apart.
All day I kept her face in view—scarce one low tone I failed to hear;
And, though she would not see, I knew she felt when I was far or near.
Yet brief and seldom was the chance that gave me word, or smile, or glance.
One night I came home in the gloom. The other guests were mostly gone.
A light was burning in her room, and from the lawn it shone upon
I plucked a flower for her to wear—a white rose, fringed with maidenhair.
I passed through that long corridor—those are its windows, to the west—
That I might leave it at her door,—and saw her cross her threshold, drest.
No lamps were lit,—the twilight shed a grey mist on her shiny head.
Her garments swept the oaken stairs; I stood below her, hushed and dumb;
She started, seeing me unawares, and stopped. “Come down,” I whispered;
“come!”
She waited, but I waited too;—and she had nothing else to do.
She came down, slowly, haughtily, with sweet pretence of carelessness.
I watched each step as she drew nigh, each brighter gleam on her white dress.
I did not speak, I did not stir, but all my heart went out to her.
She would have passed me, shy and still,—she would not suffer herself to mark
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That I was grown so bold, until I took her dear hands in the dark.
And then—and then—Well! she was good and patient, and she understood.
My arms were strong, and rude, and rough—because my love was so intense;
She knew the reason well enough, and so she would not take offence;
Though 'twas by force I made her stay, she did not try to get away.
Ah, then we had some happy hours—some blessed days of peace and rest!
This garden, full of shady bowers and lonely pathways, from whose breast
A thousand blending perfumes rise, became a very Paradise.
'Twas fair as the first Eden, then; and Adam had no fairer mate!
Nor grieved he more than I grieved, when the angel drove him from the gate.
When God cursed him from His high throne, He did not cast him out alone!
'Twas on that broken step we sat, where the yew branch is fall'n and bent,
And read the Colonel's letter, that recalled me to my regiment.
'Twas there, on such a night as this, I stood to give my parting kiss.
'Twas there I hugged the small Greek head upon my bosom, damp with dew;
'Twas there she soothed my grief, and said, “But I shall still belong to you.”
O my sweet Eve, with your pure eyes!—you're mine now, in God's Paradise.
I sailed, you know, within a week, en route for Malta's heat and blaze;
And tender letters came, to speak of love, and comfort, and bright days.
I tried to think it was not hard—of what was coming afterward.
I used to dream, and dream, and dream, from night till morn, from morn till
night;
My future life just then did seem so full, so beautiful, so bright!
I could not see, I could not feel, the sorrow dogging at my heel.
At length it touched me. By-and-by the letters ceased. I looked in vain;
I roamed the streets dejectedly, and gnawed my long moustache in pain.
I wrote twice—thrice; no answer still. Surely, I thought, she must be ill.
Until one evening Eyre came in, to lounge and gossip, drink and smoke,
I gave him leisure to begin; and, when his pipe was lit, he spoke,
Through curling vapour, soft and blue—“Guy, I've a piece of news for you.
“One of the girls you met last year at that poor tumble-down old place—
The dark-haired one—she with the clear white skin and sweet Madonna face,—
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She's married now, I understand, to her rich cousin Hildebrand.”
I felt my limbs grow stark and stiff; I felt my heart grow cold as lead;
I heard Eyre's quiet, musing whiff—the noise swam round and round my head.
I veiled my eyes, lest he should see their passionate, mute misery.
“I only heard,” he said, “to-day. It's out in all the papers, though.
She did not care for him, they say. But the old house was falling low—
Her father's name and fame at stake. She would do anything for his sake.
“Some mortgages foreclosed—the price of years and centuries of debt;
The manor doomed for sacrifice—or else the Lady Margaret.
Doubtless for Hildebrand's red gold the rare Madonna face was sold.
“I fancy that's the history,” he ended, in a bitter tone.
“It's not a new one, by-the-bye.” And when he went, I sat alone,
And tried to ease me with a prayer, but ground my teeth in my despair.
Then I grew stupid, numb, and tired. A fever crept through all my veins,
And wearied out my heart, and fired my dazed, tumultuous, teeming brains.
I hung suspended by a breath, for weeks and months, 'twixt life and death.
Then I recovered, and had leave to go to England— where she dwelt;
In my home climate to retrieve my broken health and strength. I felt
Twice ten years older than before. I knew I should come back no more.
Soon as I touched my native land, my feet turned toward the manor house.
They told me that Sir Hildebrand was in the Highlands, shooting grouse;
That she was in her father's care. That night I found her, sitting there,
On that third step, just where the trees cast down their greenest, coolest shade;
Her weary hands about her knees, her head against the balustrade;
And such dumb woe in her sweet eyes, uplifted to the fading skies.
She did not see me till I burst through the rose-thickets round about.
She sprang up with a cry at first—and then her arms were half stretched out—
And then caught backward, for his sake. I felt as if my heart would break.
I knew the truth. I did not care. I did not think. I flung me down,
And kissed her hands, her wrists, her hair, the very fringes of her gown;
While she sat cowering in a heap, and moaned, and shook, but could not weep.
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It was soon over. O good God, forgive me!—I was sorely tried.
'Twas a dark pathway that I trod; I could not see Thee at my side.
It was soon over. “I shall die,” she whispered, “if you stay here, Guy!
“O Guy! Guy! you were kind to me in our old days,—be kinder now,—
Be kind, and go, and let me be!” And then I felt on my hot brow
The brush of her cold finger-tips—the last soft contact of her lips.
And I obeyed her will and went, and vowed to tempt her nevermore.
I tried hard, too, to be content, and think of that which lay before.
I knew my dream of love was past, yet strove to serve her to the last.
I left my comrades—I had lost all taste for glory and for mirth—
And, without hopes or aims, I cross'd the seas and wander'd o'er the earth.
Without a light, without a guide, I drifted with the wind and tide.
My heart was broken when 'twas struck that bitter blow, and joy ran out!
Only a few stray treasures stuck—a few gleams flickered round about.
My old art-love still lingered there,—I think that kept me from despair.
With strange companions did I dwell, one scorching summer, on the heights
Of Tangiers' Moorish citadel, and mused away the days and nights.
With loose white garments and long gun, I roamed the deserts in the sun.
I painted Atlas, capped with snow, and lifted, cool, and still, and fair,
Out of the burning heat and glow, into the solemn upper air;
And Tetuan's gleaming walls I drew on fields of Mediterranean blue.
I haunted Cairo's crowded ways, and sketched carved doors and gilded grates,
Mosque-domes and minarets ablaze, and sweet dark heads with shining plaits;
And now a grave old Arab sheikh, and then a slim, straight-featured Greek.
In a swift wing-sailed boat I slid across the stream where Libya looms,
And from King Cheop's pyramid saw Pharaoh-cities, Pharaoh-tombs;
And, stretching off for many a mile, the sacred waters of the Nile.
I saw the graves of mighty states,—I saw Thebes' temple, overturned—
The City of the Hundred Gates, where Moses and Greek sages learned,
Where hungry lions prowl at noon, and hyaenas snarl at the bright moon.
I roamed through Nubian desert flats, where vultures sailed o'er burning seas;
And forests where the yellow bats hung, cloaked and hooded, from the trees;
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And marshy wastes, where crocodiles slept on the shores of sandy isles.
I followed, through long days and nights, where, with their little ones and flocks,
Had passed the wandering Israelites; I read the writing on the rocks;
And e'en these restless feet of mine tracked holy feet in Palestine.
Roaming through India's burning plains, I chased wild boars and antelopes;
Swam brawling nullahs in the rains, and haunted dew-wet mango-topes;
Shot bears and tigers in the gloom of the dense forests of Beerbhoom.
Through swathing-nets I watched at night the clear moon gild a palm-tree ledge;
And, through the flood of silver light, heard jackals at the compound-hedge;
While punkahs waved above my head, and faint airs hovered round my bed.
I mused by many a sacred tank, where lonely temples fell away,
Where the fat alligators drank, and scarlet lotus-flowers lay;
Smoked curling pipes 'neath roof and tree, the while dark nautch-girls danced to
me.
I trod the creeper-netted ground of deadly, beautiful, bright woods,
Where birds and monkeys chattered round, and serpents reared their crimson
hoods.
I dwelt 'neath breathless desert-glows, and Simla's Himalayan snows.
From the hot glades of garden reach, I wandered upward to Cabool—
From the bright Hooghly's flowering beach to the wild mountains, calm and cool.
I wept at Cawnpore's fatal well, and where our heroes fought and fell.
I roamed through Lucknow's battered gate—thick-thronged with memories so
intense!
And Delhi's ruins of wild state and old Mogul magnificence.
I pressed the rank, blood-nurtured grass that creeps along the Khyber Pass.
I sailed the Irrawaddy's stream, 'mid dense teak forests; saw the moon
Light up with broad and glittering gleam the golden Dagun of Rangoon—
The delicate, fretted temple-shells, whose roofs were rimmed with swaying bells.
In his gold palace, all alone, with square, hard face and eyes aslant,
I saw upon his royal throne the Lord of the White Elephant.
I mixed in wild, barbaric feasts with Buddha's yellow-robèd priests.
I crept with curious feet within imperial China's sacred bounds;
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I saw the Palace of Pekin, and all its fairy garden-grounds;
The green rice-fields, the tremulous rills, the white azaleas on the hills;
The tea-groves climbing mountain backs; the girls' rich robes of blue and white;
The cattle 'neath the paddy-stacks; the gilt pagodas, tall and bright;—
And in a merchant-junk I ran across the waters to Japan.
I saw, where silk-fringed mats were spread, within his laquered, bare saloon,
With his curled roofs above his head, on muffled heels, the great Tycoon.
Familiar things they were to me—the pipes, and betelnuts, and tea.
I dug in Californian ground, at Sacramento's golden brim,
With hunger, murder, all around, and fever shaking every limb;
Saw, in lush forests and rude sheds, the Dyaks roast ing pirates' heads.
I shot white condors on the brows of snowy Andes; and I chased
Wild horses, and wild bulls and cows, o'er the wide Pampas' jungle-waste;
And saw, while wandering to and fro, the silver mines of Mexico.
In Caffre waggons I was drawn up lone Cape gorges, green and steep,
And camped by river-grove and lawn, where nightly tryst the wild things keep;
Where glaring eyes without the line of circling watch-fires used to shine.
I chased o'er sandy plains and shot the ostrich,—at the reedy brink
Of pools, the lion, on the slot of antelopes that came to drink;
Giraffes, that held their heads aloof'neath the mimosa's matted roof;
And brindled gnus, and cowardly, striped shard-wolves, and, 'mid water-plants
And flags, black hippopotami, and snakes, and shrieking elephants.
From courted sickness, hunger, strife, God spared my weary, reckless life.
In the bright South Seas did I toss through wild blue nights and fainting days,
With the snow-plumaged albatross. I saw Tahiti's peaks ablaze;
And still, palm-fringed lagoons asleep o'er coral grottoes, cool and deep.
I built an Australian hut of logs, and lived alone— with just a noose,
A trap, a gun, my horse and dogs; I hunted long-legged kangaroos;
And oft I spent the calm night-hours beneath the gum-trees' forest-bowers.
I threaded miles and miles and miles, where Lena's sad, slow waters flow,
'Mid silent rocks, and woods, and isles, and drear Siberian steppes of snow;
Where pines and larches, set alight, blaze in the dark and windless night.
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I shot a wild fowl on the shore of a still, lonely mountain lake,
And, o'er the sheer white torrents' roar, heard long-drawn, plaintive echoes
wake;
Caught squirrels in their leafy huts, munching the little cedar-nuts.
I trapped the small, soft sables, stripped the bloomy fur from off their backs,
And hunted grey wolves as they slipped and snuffed and snarled down reindeer
tracks;
I brought the brown, bald eagle down from the white sea-hill's rugged crown.
I saw the oil-lamp shining through the small and dim ice window-pane;
And the near sky, so deeply blue, spangled with sparks, like golden rain;
While dogs lay tethered, left and right, howling across the arctic night.
I saw when, in my flying sledge, I swept the frozen tundra-slopes,
The white bears on some craggy ledge, far-off, where ocean blindly gropes
In her dim caves—where bones lie furled, the tokens of a vanished world.
I saw across the dread blue sky, spanning blue ice and bluer mist
(That shows where open waters lie), the bright Aurora keep her tryst,—
That arch of tinted flame—so fair! lighting the crystals in the air.
Then, all at once—I know not why—I felt I could no longer roam;
A voice seemed calling to my heart—Return to England and thy home;
I found my thoughts were yearning yet, for one more glimpse of Margaret.
So on a sudden I returned. I reached the village in the night.
At one small inn a candle burned with feeble, pale, unsteady light:
The hostess curtseyed, grave and strange. She did not know me for the change.
My broad white brows were bronzed, and scarred with lines of trouble, thought,
and
care;
My young bright eyes were dim and hard—the sunshine was no longer there;
My brown moustache was hid away in a great beard of iron-grey.
“The Manor House is habited,” to my brief question she replied.
“To-night my lady lies there dead. She's long been ailing, and she died
At noon. A happy thing for her! Were you acquainted with her, sir?
“A sweeter lady never walked! So kind and good to all the poor!
She ne'er disdained us when she talked—ne'er turned a beggar from her door.
245
Ah, sir, but we may look in vain; we ne'er shall see her likes again.
“I heard the squire's great bloodhound's bark; I woke, and shook, and held my
breath.
My man, he stirred too in the dark. Said he to me, ‘My lady's death
Is not far off. Another night she'll never see.’ And he was right.
“'Twas over in twelve hours or less. She lies there, on the golden bed,
In her old confirmation dress, with the small white cap on her head
Which bore the bishop's blessing hand,—she asked that of Sir Hildebrand.”
You see that window in the shade of those old beeches? 'Twas that room
Wherein my dear dead love was laid. I climbed the ivy in the gloom
And silence—just once more to see the face that had belonged to me.
I stood beside her. No one heard. On the great rajah's bed, alone
She lay. The night-breeze softly stirred the Cashmere curtains, and the moan
Of my wild kisses seemed to thrill the solitude. All else was still.
In the pale yellow taper light, I gazed upon her till the morn.
I see her now—so sweet and white! the fair, pure face so trouble-worn!
The thin hands folded on her breast, in peace at last, and perfect rest!
~ Ada Cambridge
129:Gotham - Book I
Far off (no matter whether east or west,
A real country, or one made in jest,
Nor yet by modern Mandevilles disgraced,
Nor by map-jobbers wretchedly misplaced)
There lies an island, neither great nor small,
Which, for distinction sake, I Gotham call.
The man who finds an unknown country out,
By giving it a name, acquires, no doubt,
A Gospel title, though the people there
The pious Christian thinks not worth his care
Bar this pretence, and into air is hurl'd
The claim of Europe to the Western world.
Cast by a tempest on the savage coast,
Some roving buccaneer set up a post;
A beam, in proper form transversely laid,
Of his Redeemer's cross the figure made-Of that Redeemer, with whose laws his life,
From first to last, had been one scene of strife;
His royal master's name thereon engraved,
Without more process the whole race enslaved,
Cut off that charter they from Nature drew,
And made them slaves to men they never knew.
Search ancient histories, consult records,
Under this title the most Christian lords
Hold (thanks to conscience) more than half the ball;
O'erthrow this title, they have none at all;
For never yet might any monarch dare,
Who lived to Truth, and breathed a Christian air,
Pretend that Christ, (who came, we all agree,
To bless his people, and to set them free)
To make a convert, ever one law gave
By which converters made him first a slave.
Spite of the glosses of a canting priest,
Who talks of charity, but means a feast;
Who recommends it (whilst he seems to feel
The holy glowings of a real zeal)
To all his hearers as a deed of worth,
To give them heaven whom they have robb'd of earth;
Never shall one, one truly honest man,
25
Who, bless'd with Liberty, reveres her plan,
Allow one moment that a savage sire
Could from his wretched race, for childish hire,
By a wild grant, their all, their freedom pass,
And sell his country for a bit of glass.
Or grant this barbarous right, let Spain and France,
In slavery bred, as purchasers advance;
Let them, whilst Conscience is at distance hurl'd,
With some gay bauble buy a golden world:
An Englishman, in charter'd freedom born,
Shall spurn the slavish merchandise, shall scorn
To take from others, through base private views,
What he himself would rather die, than lose.
Happy the savage of those early times,
Ere Europe's sons were known, and Europe's crimes!
Gold, cursed gold! slept in the womb of earth,
Unfelt its mischiefs, as unknown its worth;
In full content he found the truest wealth,
In toil he found diversion, food, and health;
Stranger to ease and luxury of courts,
His sports were labours, and his labours sports;
His youth was hardy, and his old age green;
Life's morn was vigorous, and her eve serene;
No rules he held, but what were made for use,
No arts he learn'd, nor ills which arts produce;
False lights he follow'd, but believed them true;
He knew not much, but lived to what he knew.
Happy, thrice happy now the savage race,
Since Europe took their gold, and gave them grace!
Pastors she sends to help them in their need,
Some who can't write; with others who can't read;
And on sure grounds the gospel pile to rear,
Sends missionary felons every year;
Our vices, with more zeal than holy prayers,
She teaches them, and in return takes theirs.
Her rank oppressions give them cause to rise,
Her want of prudence, means and arms supplies,
Whilst her brave rage, not satisfied with life,
Rising in blood, adopts the scalping-knife.
Knowledge she gives, enough to make them know
How abject is their state, how deep their woe;
The worth of freedom strongly she explains,
26
Whilst she bows down, and loads their necks with chains.
Faith, too, she plants, for her own ends impress'd,
To make them bear the worst, and hope the best;
And whilst she teaches, on vile Interest's plan,
As laws of God, the wild decrees of man,
Like Pharisees, of whom the Scriptures tell,
She makes them ten times more the sons of Hell.
But whither do these grave reflections tend?
Are they design'd for any, or no end?
Briefly but this--to prove, that by no act
Which Nature made, that by no equal pact
'Twixt man and man, which might, if Justice heard,
Stand good; that by no benefits conferr'd,
Or purchase made, Europe in chains can hold
The sons of India, and her mines of gold.
Chance led her there in an accursed hour;
She saw, and made the country hers by power;
Nor, drawn by virtue's love from love of fame,
Shall my rash folly controvert the claim,
Or wish in thought that title overthrown
Which coincides with and involves my own.
Europe discover'd India first; I found
My right to Gotham on the self-same ground;
I first discover'd it, nor shall that plea
To her be granted, and denied to me;
I plead possession, and, till one more bold
Shall drive me out, will that possession hold.
With Europe's rights my kindred rights I twine;
Hers be the Western world, be Gotham mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
As on a day, a high and holy day,
Let every instrument of music play,
Ancient and modern; those which drew their birth
(Punctilios laid aside) from Pagan earth,
As well as those by Christian made and Jew;
Those known to many, and those known to few;
Those which in whim and frolic lightly float,
27
And those which swell the slow and solemn note;
Those which (whilst Reason stands in wonder by)
Make some complexions laugh, and others cry;
Those which, by some strange faculty of sound,
Can build walls up, and raze them to the ground;
Those which can tear up forests by the roots,
And make brutes dance like men, and men like brutes;
Those which, whilst Ridicule leads up the dance,
Make clowns of Monmouth ape the fops of France;
Those which, where Lady Dulness with Lord Mayors
Presides, disdaining light and trifling airs,
Hallow the feast with psalmody; and those
Which, planted in our churches to dispose
And lift the mind to Heaven, are disgraced
With what a foppish organist calls Taste:
All, from the fiddle (on which every fool,
The pert son of dull sire, discharged from school,
Serves an apprenticeship in college ease,
And rises through the gamut to degrees)
To those which (though less common, not less sweet)
From famed Saint Giles's, and more famed Vine Street,
(Where Heaven, the utmost wish of man to grant,
Gave me an old house, and an older aunt)
Thornton, whilst Humour pointed out the road
To her arch cub, hath hitch'd into an ode;-All instruments (attend, ye listening spheres!
Attend, ye sons of men! and hear with ears),
All instruments (nor shall they seek one hand
Impress'd from modern Music's coxcomb band),
All instruments, self-acted, at my name
Shall pour forth harmony, and loud proclaim,
Loud but yet sweet, to the according globe,
My praises; whilst gay Nature, in a robe,
A coxcomb doctor's robe, to the full sound
Keeps time, like Boyce, and the world dances round.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
Infancy, straining backward from the breast,
28
Tetchy and wayward, what he loveth best
Refusing in his fits, whilst all the while
The mother eyes the wrangler with a smile,
And the fond father sits on t' other side,
Laughs at his moods, and views his spleen with pride,
Shall murmur forth my name, whilst at his hand
Nurse stands interpreter, through Gotham's land.
Childhood, who like an April morn appears,
Sunshine and rain, hopes clouded o'er with fears,
Pleased and displeased by starts, in passion warm,
In reason weak; who, wrought into a storm,
Like to the fretful billows of the deep,
Soon spends his rage, and cries himself asleep;
Who, with a feverish appetite oppress'd,
For trifles sighs, but hates them when possess'd;
His trembling lash suspended in the air,
Half-bent, and stroking back his long lank hair,
Shall to his mates look up with eager glee,
And let his top go down to prate of me.
Youth, who, fierce, fickle, insolent, and vain,
Impatient urges on to Manhood's reign,
Impatient urges on, yet with a cast
Of dear regard looks back on Childhood past,
In the mid-chase, when the hot blood runs high,
And the quick spirits mount into his eye;
When pleasure, which he deems his greatest wealth,
Beats in his heart, and paints his cheeks with health;
When the chafed steed tugs proudly at the rein,
And, ere he starts, hath run o'er half the plain;
When, wing'd with fear, the stag flies full in view,
And in full cry the eager hounds pursue,
Shall shout my praise to hills which shout again,
And e'en the huntsman stop to cry, Amen.
Manhood, of form erect, who would not bow
Though worlds should crack around him; on his brow
Wisdom serene, to passion giving law,
Bespeaking love, and yet commanding awe;
Dignity into grace by mildness wrought;
Courage attemper'd and refined by thought;
Virtue supreme enthroned; within his breast
The image of his Maker deep impress'd;
Lord of this earth, which trembles at his nod,
29
With reason bless'd, and only less than God;
Manhood, though weeping Beauty kneels for aid,
Though Honour calls, in Danger's form array'd,
Though clothed with sackloth, Justice in the gates,
By wicked elders chain'd, Redemption waits,
Manhood shall steal an hour, a little hour,
(Is't not a little one?) to hail my power.
Old Age, a second child, by Nature cursed
With more and greater evils than the first;
Weak, sickly, full of pains, in every breath
Railing at life, and yet afraid of death;
Putting things off, with sage and solemn air,
From day to day, without one day to spare;
Without enjoyment, covetous of pelf,
Tiresome to friends, and tiresome to himself;
His faculties impair'd, his temper sour'd,
His memory of recent things devour'd
E'en with the acting, on his shatter'd brain
Though the false registers of youth remain;
From morn to evening babbling forth vain praise
Of those rare men, who lived in those rare days,
When he, the hero of his tale, was young;
Dull repetitions faltering on his tongue;
Praising gray hairs, sure mark of Wisdom's sway,
E'en whilst he curses Time, which made him gray;
Scoffing at youth, e'en whilst he would afford
All but his gold to have his youth restored,
Shall for a moment, from himself set free,
Lean on his crutch, and pipe forth praise to me.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
Things without life shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
The snowdrop, who, in habit white and plain,
Comes on, the herald of fair Flora's train;
The coxcomb crocus, flower of simple note,
Who by her side struts in a herald's coat;
The tulip, idly glaring to the view,
30
Who, though no clown, his birth from Holland drew;
Who, once full dress'd, fears from his place to stir,
The fop of flowers, the More of a parterre;
The woodbine, who her elm in marriage meets,
And brings her dowry in surrounding sweets;
The lily, silver mistress of the vale;
The rose of Sharon, which perfumes the gale;
The jessamine, with which the queen of flowers,
To charm her god, adorns his favourite bowers,
Which brides, by the plain hand of Neatness dress'd,
Unenvied rival, wear upon their breast,
Sweet as the incense of the morn, and chaste
As the pure zone which circles Dian's waist;
All flowers, of various names, and various forms,
Which the sun into strength and beauty warms,
From the dwarf daisy, which, like infants, clings,
And fears to leave the earth from whence it springs,
To the proud giant of the garden race,
Who, madly rushing to the sun's embrace,
O'ertops her fellows with aspiring aim,
Demands his wedded love, and bears his name;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
Forming a gloom, through which, to spleen-struck minds,
Religion, horror-stamp'd, a passage finds,
The ivy crawling o'er the hallow'd cell
Where some old hermit's wont his beads to tell
By day, by night; the myrtle ever green,
Beneath whose shade Love holds his rites unseen;
The willow, weeping o'er the fatal wave
Where many a lover finds a watery grave;
The cypress, sacred held, when lovers mourn
Their true love snatch'd away; the laurel worn
By poets in old time, but destined now,
In grief, to wither on a Whitehead's brow;
The fig, which, large as what in India grows,
31
Itself a grove, gave our first parents clothes;
The vine, which, like a blushing new-made bride,
Clustering, empurples all the mountain's side;
The yew, which, in the place of sculptured stone,
Marks out the resting-place of men unknown;
The hedge-row elm; the pine, of mountain race;
The fir, the Scotch fir, never out of place;
The cedar, whose top mates the highest cloud,
Whilst his old father Lebanon grows proud
Of such a child, and his vast body laid
Out many a mile, enjoys the filial shade;
The oak, when living, monarch of the wood;
The English oak, which, dead, commands the flood;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
The showers, which make the young hills, like young lambs,
Bound and rebound; the old hills, like old rams,
Unwieldy, jump for joy; the streams which glide,
Whilst Plenty marches smiling by their side,
And from their bosom rising Commerce springs;
The winds, which rise with healing on their wings,
Before whose cleansing breath Contagion flies;
The sun, who, travelling in eastern skies,
Fresh, full of strength, just risen from his bed,
Though in Jove's pastures they were born and bred,
With voice and whip can scarce make his steeds stir,
Step by step, up the perpendicular;
Who, at the hour of eve, panting for rest,
Rolls on amain, and gallops down the west
As fast as Jehu, oil'd for Ahab's sin,
Drove for a crown, or postboys for an inn;
The moon, who holds o'er night her silver reign,
Regent of tides, and mistress of the brain,
Who to her sons, those sons who own her power,
And do her homage at the midnight hour,
Gives madness as a blessing, but dispenses
32
Wisdom to fools, and damns them with their senses;
The stars, who, by I know not what strange right,
Preside o'er mortals in their own despite,
Who, without reason, govern those who most
(How truly, judge from thence!) of reason boast,
And, by some mighty magic yet unknown,
Our actions guide, yet cannot guide their own;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
The moment, minute, hour, day, week, month, year,
Morning and eve, as they in turn appear;
Moments and minutes, which, without a crime,
Can't be omitted in accounts of time,
Or, if omitted, (proof we might afford)
Worthy by parliaments to be restored;
The hours, which, dress'd by turns in black and white,
Ordain'd as handmaids, wait on Day and Night;
The day, those hours, I mean, when light presides,
And Business in a cart with Prudence rides;
The night, those hours, I mean, with darkness hung,
When Sense speaks free, and Folly holds her tongue;
The morn, when Nature, rousing from her strife
With death-like sleep, awakes to second life;
The eve, when, as unequal to the task,
She mercy from her foe descends to ask;
The week, in which six days are kindly given
To think of earth, and one to think of heaven;
The months, twelve sisters, all of different hue,
Though there appears in all a likeness too;
Not such a likeness as, through Hayman's works,
Dull mannerist! in Christians, Jews, and Turks,
Cloys with a sameness in each female face,
But a strange something, born of Art and Grace,
Which speaks them all, to vary and adorn,
At different times of the same parents born;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
33
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
Frore January, leader of the year,
Minced-pies in van, and calves' heads in the rear;
Dull February, in whose leaden reign
My mother bore a bard without a brain;
March, various, fierce, and wild, with wind-crack'd cheeks,
By wilder Welshmen led, and crown'd with leeks;
April, with fools, and May, with bastards bless'd;
June, with White Roses on her rebel breast;
July, to whom, the Dog-star in her train,
Saint James gives oysters, and Saint Swithin rain;
August, who, banish'd from her Smithfield stand,
To Chelsea flies, with Doggett in her hand;
September, when by custom (right divine)
Geese are ordain'd to bleed at Michael's shrine,
Whilst the priest, not so full of grace as wit,
Falls to, unbless'd, nor gives the saint a bit;
October, who the cause of Freedom join'd,
And gave a second George to bless mankind;
November, who, at once to grace our earth,
Saint Andrew boasts, and our Augusta's birth;
December, last of months, but best, who gave
A Christ to man, a Saviour to the slave,
Whilst, falsely grateful, man, at the full feast,
To do God honour makes himself a beast;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
The seasons as they roll; Spring, by her side
Lechery and Lent, lay-folly and church-pride,
By a rank monk to copulation led,
34
A tub of sainted salt-fish on her head;
Summer, in light transparent gauze array'd,
Like maids of honour at a masquerade,
In bawdry gauze, for which our daughters leave
The fig, more modest, first brought up by Eve,
Panting for breath, inflamed with lustful fires,
Yet wanting strength to perfect her desires,
Leaning on Sloth, who, fainting with the heat,
Stops at each step, and slumbers on his feet;
Autumn, when Nature, who with sorrow feels
Her dread foe Winter treading on her heels,
Makes up in value what she wants in length,
Exerts her powers, and puts forth all her strength,
Bids corn and fruits in full perfection rise,
Corn fairly tax'd, and fruits without excise;
Winter, benumb'd with cold, no longer known
By robes of fur, since furs became our own;
A hag, who, loathing all, by all is loathed,
With weekly, daily, hourly, libels clothed,
Vile Faction at her heels, who, mighty grown,
Would rule the ruler, and foreclose the throne,
Would turn all state affairs into a trade,
Make laws one day, the next to be unmade,
Beggar at home, a people fear'd abroad,
And, force defeated, make them slaves by fraud;
All, one and all, shall in this chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
The year, grand circle! in whose ample round
The seasons regular and fix'd are bound,
(Who, in his course repeated o'er and o'er,
Sees the same things which he had seen before;
The same stars keep their watch, and the same sun
Runs in the track where he from first hath run;
The same moon rules the night; tides ebb and flow;
Man is a puppet, and this world a show;
Their old dull follies, old dull fools pursue,
35
And vice in nothing, but in mode, is new;
He ---- a lord (now fair befall that pride,
He lived a villain, but a lord he died)
Dashwood is pious, Berkeley fix'd as Fate,
Sandwich (thank Heaven!) first minister of state;
And, though by fools despised, by saints unbless'd,
By friends neglected, and by foes oppress'd,
Scorning the servile arts of each court elf,
Founded on honour, Wilkes is still himself)
The year, encircled with the various train
Which waits, and fills the glories of his reign,
Shall, taking up this theme, in chorus join,
And, dumb to others' praise, be loud in mine.
Rejoice, ye happy Gothamites! rejoice;
Lift up your voice on high, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness; and on every tongue,
In strains of gratitude, be praises hung,
The praises of so great and good a king:
Shall Churchill reign, and shall not Gotham sing?
Thus far in sport--nor let our critics hence,
Who sell out monthly trash, and call it sense,
Too lightly of our present labours deem,
Or judge at random of so high a theme:
High is our theme, and worthy are the men
To feel the sharpest stroke of Satire's pen;
But when kind Time a proper season brings,
In serious mood to treat of serious things,
Then shall they find, disdaining idle play,
That I can be as grave and dull as they.
Thus far in sport--nor let half patriots, those
Who shrink from every blast of Power which blows,
Who, with tame cowardice familiar grown,
Would hear my thoughts, but fear to speak their own;
Who (lest bold truths, to do sage Prudence spite,
Should burst the portals of their lips by night,
Tremble to trust themselves one hour in sleep)
Condemn our course, and hold our caution cheap;
When brave Occasion bids, for some great end,
When Honour calls the poet as a friend,
Then shall they find that, e'en on Danger's brink,
He dares to speak what they scarce dare to think.
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~ Charles Churchill
130:The Prophecy Of Famine
A SCOTS PASTORAL INSCRIBED TO JOHN WILKES, ESQ.
Nos patriam fugimus.--VIRGIL.
When Cupid first instructs his darts to fly
From the sly corner of some cook-maid's eye,
The stripling raw, just enter'd in his teens,
Receives the wound, and wonders what it means;
His heart, like dripping, melts, and new desire
Within him stirs, each time she stirs the fire;
Trembling and blushing, he the fair one views,
And fain would speak, but can't--without a Muse.
So to the sacred mount he takes his way,
Prunes his young wings, and tunes his infant lay,
His oaten reed to rural ditties frames,
To flocks and rocks, to hills and rills, proclaims,
In simplest notes, and all unpolish'd strains,
The loves of nymphs, and eke the loves of swains.
Clad, as your nymphs were always clad of yore,
In rustic weeds--a cook-maid now no more-Beneath an aged oak Lardella lies-Green moss her couch, her canopy the skies.
From aromatic shrubs the roguish gale
Steals young perfumes and wafts them through the vale.
The youth, turn'd swain, and skill'd in rustic lays,
Fast by her side his amorous descant plays.
Herds low, flocks bleat, pies chatter, ravens scream,
And the full chorus dies a-down the stream:
The streams, with music freighted, as they pass
Present the fair Lardella with a glass;
And Zephyr, to complete the love-sick plan,
Waves his light wings, and serves her for a fan.
But when maturer Judgment takes the lead,
These childish toys on Reason's altar bleed;
Form'd after some great man, whose name breeds awe,
Whose every sentence Fashion makes a law;
Who on mere credit his vain trophies rears,
And founds his merit on our servile fears;
Then we discard the workings of the heart,
244
And nature's banish'd by mechanic art;
Then, deeply read, our reading must be shown;
Vain is that knowledge which remains unknown:
Then Ostentation marches to our aid,
And letter'd Pride stalks forth in full parade;
Beneath their care behold the work refine,
Pointed each sentence, polish'd every line;
Trifles are dignified, and taught to wear
The robes of ancients with a modern air;
Nonsense with classic ornaments is graced,
And passes current with the stamp of taste.
Then the rude Theocrite is ransack'd o'er,
And courtly Maro call'd from Mincio's shore;
Sicilian Muses on our mountains roam,
Easy and free as if they were at home;
Nymphs, naiads, nereids, dryads, satyrs, fauns,
Sport in our floods, and trip it o'er our lawns;
Flowers which once flourish'd fair in Greece and Rome,
More fair revive in England's meads to bloom;
Skies without cloud, exotic suns adorn,
And roses blush, but blush without a thorn;
Landscapes, unknown to dowdy Nature, rise,
And new creations strike our wondering eyes.
For bards like these, who neither sing nor say,
Grave without thought, and without feeling gay,
Whose numbers in one even tenor flow,
Attuned to pleasure, and attuned to woe;
Who, if plain Common-Sense her visit pays,
And mars one couplet in their happy lays,
As at some ghost affrighted, start and stare,
And ask the meaning of her coming there:
For bards like these a wreath shall Mason bring,
Lined with the softest down of Folly's wing;
In Love's pagoda shall they ever doze,
And Gisbal kindly rock them to repose;
My Lord ----, to letters as to faith most true-At once their patron and example too-Shall quaintly fashion his love-labour'd dreams,
Sigh with sad winds, and weep with weeping streams;
Curious in grief (for real grief, we know,
Is curious to dress up the tale of woe),
From the green umbrage of some Druid's seat
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Shall his own works, in his own way, repeat.
Me, whom no Muse of heavenly birth inspires,
No judgment tempers when rash genius fires;
Who boast no merit but mere knack of rhyme,
Short gleams of sense, and satire out of time;
Who cannot follow where trim fancy leads,
By prattling streams, o'er flower-empurpled meads;
Who often, but without success, have pray'd
For apt Alliteration's artful aid;
Who would, but cannot, with a master's skill,
Coin fine new epithets, which mean no ill:
Me, thus uncouth, thus every way unfit
For pacing poesy, and ambling wit,
Taste with contempt beholds, nor deigns to place
Amongst the lowest of her favour'd race.
Thou, Nature, art my goddess--to thy law
Myself I dedicate! Hence, slavish awe!
Which bends to fashion, and obeys the rules
Imposed at first, and since observed by fools;
Hence those vile tricks which mar fair Nature's hue,
And bring the sober matron forth to view,
With all that artificial tawdry glare
Which virtue scorns, and none but strumpets wear!
Sick of those pomps, those vanities, that waste
Of toil, which critics now mistake for taste;
Of false refinements sick, and labour'd ease,
Which art, too thinly veil'd, forbids to please;
By Nature's charms (inglorious truth!) subdued,
However plain her dress, and 'haviour rude,
To northern climes my happier course I steer,
Climes where the goddess reigns throughout the year;
Where, undisturb'd by Art's rebellious plan,
She rules the loyal laird, and faithful clan.
To that rare soil, where virtues clustering grow,
What mighty blessings doth not England owe!
What waggon-loads of courage, wealth, and sense,
Doth each revolving day import from thence?
To us she gives, disinterested friend!
Faith without fraud, and Stuarts without end.
When we prosperity's rich trappings wear,
Come not her generous sons and take a share?
And if, by some disastrous turn of fate,
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Change should ensue, and ruin seize the state,
Shall we not find, safe in that hallow'd ground,
Such refuge as the holy martyr found?
Nor less our debt in science, though denied
By the weak slaves of prejudice and pride.
Thence came the Ramsays, names of worthy note,
Of whom one paints, as well as t'other wrote;
Thence, Home, disbanded from the sons of prayer
For loving plays, though no dull Dean was there;
Thence issued forth, at great Macpherson's call,
That old, new, epic pastoral, Fingal;
Thence Malloch, friend alike to Church and State,
Of Christ and Liberty, by grateful Fate
Raised to rewards, which, in a pious reign,
All daring infidels should seek in vain;
Thence simple bards, by simple prudence taught,
To this wise town by simple patrons brought,
In simple manner utter simple lays,
And take, with simple pensions, simple praise.
Waft me, some Muse, to Tweed's inspiring stream,
Where all the little Loves and Graces dream;
Where, slowly winding, the dull waters creep,
And seem themselves to own the power of sleep;
Where on the surface lead, like feathers, swims;
There let me bathe my yet unhallow'd limbs,
As once a Syrian bathed in Jordan's flood-Wash off my native stains, correct that blood
Which mutinies at call of English pride,
And, deaf to prudence, rolls a patriot tide.
From solemn thought which overhangs the brow
Of patriot care, when things are--God knows how;
From nice trim points, where Honour, slave to Rule,
In compliment to Folly, plays the fool;
From those gay scenes, where Mirth exalts his power,
And easy Humour wings the laughing hour;
From those soft better moments, when desire
Beats high, and all the world of man's on fire;
When mutual ardours of the melting fair
More than repay us for whole years of care,
At Friendship's summons will my Wilkes retreat,
And see, once seen before, that ancient seat,
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That ancient seat, where majesty display'd
Her ensigns, long before the world was made!
Mean narrow maxims, which enslave mankind,
Ne'er from its bias warp thy settled mind:
Not duped by party, nor opinion's slave,
Those faculties which bounteous nature gave,
Thy honest spirit into practice brings,
Nor courts the smile, nor dreads the frown of kings.
Let rude licentious Englishmen comply
With tumult's voice, and curse--they know not why;
Unwilling to condemn, thy soul disdains
To wear vile faction's arbitrary chains,
And strictly weighs, in apprehension clear,
Things as they are, and not as they appear.
With thee good humour tempers lively wit;
Enthroned with Judgment, Candour loves to sit;
And nature gave thee, open to distress,
A heart to pity, and a hand to bless.
Oft have I heard thee mourn the wretched lot
Of the poor, mean, despised, insulted Scot,
Who, might calm reason credit idle tales,
By rancour forged where prejudice prevails,
Or starves at home, or practises, through fear
Of starving, arts which damn all conscience here.
When scribblers, to the charge by interest led,
The fierce North Briton foaming at their head,
Pour forth invectives, deaf to Candour's call,
And, injured by one alien, rail at all;
On northern Pisgah when they take their stand,
To mark the weakness of that Holy Land,
With needless truths their libels to adorn,
And hang a nation up to public scorn,
Thy generous soul condemns the frantic rage,
And hates the faithful, but ill-natured page.
The Scots are poor, cries surly English pride;
True is the charge, nor by themselves denied.
Are they not, then, in strictest reason clear,
Who wisely come to mend their fortunes here?
If, by low supple arts successful grown,
They sapp'd our vigour to increase their own;
If, mean in want, and insolent in power,
They only fawn'd more surely to devour,
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Roused by such wrongs, should Reason take alarm,
And e'en the Muse for public safety arm?
But if they own ingenuous virtue's sway,
And follow where true honour points the way,
If they revere the hand by which they're fed,
And bless the donors for their daily bread,
Or, by vast debts of higher import bound,
Are always humble, always grateful found:
If they, directed by Paul's holy pen,
Become discreetly all things to all men,
That all men may become all things to them,
Envy may hate, but Justice can't condemn.
Into our places, states, and beds they creep;
They've sense to get, what we want sense to keep.
Once--be the hour accursed, accursed the place!-I ventured to blaspheme the chosen race.
Into those traps, which men call'd patriots laid,
By specious arts unwarily betray'd,
Madly I leagued against that sacred earth,
Vile parricide! which gave a parent birth:
But shall I meanly error's path pursue,
When heavenly truth presents her friendly clue?
Once plunged in ill, shall I go farther in?
To make the oath, was rash: to keep it, sin.
Backward I tread the paths I trod before,
And calm reflection hates what passion swore.
Converted, (blessed are the souls which know
Those pleasures which from true conversion flow,
Whether to reason, who now rules my breast,
Or to pure faith, like Lyttelton and West),
Past crimes to expiate, be my present aim
To raise new trophies to the Scottish name;
To make (what can the proudest Muse do more?)
E'en faction's sons her brighter worth adore;
To make her glories, stamp'd with honest rhymes,
In fullest tide roll down to latest times.
Presumptuous wretch! and shall a Muse like thine,
An English Muse, the meanest of the Nine,
Attempt a theme like this? Can her weak strain
Expect indulgence from the mighty Thane?
Should he from toils of government retire,
And for a moment fan the poet's fire;
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Should he, of sciences the moral friend,
Each curious, each important search suspend,
Leave unassisted Hill of herbs to tell,
And all the wonders of a cockleshell;
Having the Lord's good grace before his eyes,
Would not the Home step forth and gain the prize?
Or if this wreath of honour might adorn
The humble brows of one in England born,
Presumptuous still thy daring must appear;
Vain all thy towering hopes whilst I am here.
Thus spake a form, by silken smile and tone,
Dull and unvaried, for the Laureate known,
Folly's chief friend, Decorum's eldest son,
In every party found, and yet of none.
This airy substance, this substantial shade,
Abash'd I heard, and with respect obey'd.
From themes too lofty for a bard so mean,
Discretion beckons to an humbler scene;
The restless fever of ambition laid,
Calm I retire, and seek the sylvan shade.
Now be the Muse disrobed of all her pride,
Be all the glare of verse by truth supplied.
And if plain nature pours a simple strain,
Which Bute may praise, and Ossian not disdain,-Ossian, sublimest, simplest bard of all,
Whom English infidels Macpherson call,-Then round my head shall Honour's ensigns wave,
And pensions mark me for a willing slave.
Two boys, whose birth, beyond all question, springs
From great and glorious, though forgotten, kings-Shepherds, of Scottish lineage, born and bred
On the same bleak and barren mountain's head;
By niggard nature doom'd on the same rocks
To spin out life, and starve themselves and flocks;
Fresh as the morning, which, enrobed in mist,
The mountain's top with usual dulness kiss'd,
Jockey and Sawney to their labours rose;
Soon clad, I ween, where nature needs no clothes;
Where, from their youth inured to winter-skies,
Dress and her vain refinements they despise.
Jockey, whose manly high-boned cheeks to crown,
With freckles spotted, flamed the golden down,
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With meikle art could on the bagpipes play,
E'en from the rising to the setting day;
Sawney as long without remorse could bawl
Home's madrigals, and ditties from Fingal:
Oft at his strains, all natural though rude,
The Highland lass forgot her want of food;
And, whilst she scratch'd her lover into rest,
Sunk pleased, though hungry, on her Sawney's breast.
Far as the eye could reach, no tree was seen;
Earth, clad in russet, scorn'd the lively green:
The plague of locusts they secure defy,
For in three hours a grasshopper must die:
No living thing, whate'er its food, feasts there,
But the cameleon, who can feast on air.
No birds, except as birds of passage, flew;
No bee was known to hum, no dove to coo:
No streams, as amber smooth, as amber clear,
Were seen to glide, or heard to warble here:
Rebellion's spring, which through the country ran,
Furnish'd, with bitter draughts, the steady clan:
No flowers embalm'd the air, but one white rose,
Which on the tenth of June by instinct blows;
By instinct blows at morn, and when the shades
Of drizzly eve prevail, by instinct fades.
One, and but one poor solitary cave,
Too sparing of her favours, nature gave;
That one alone (hard tax on Scottish pride!)
Shelter at once for man and beast supplied.
There snares without, entangling briars spread,
And thistles, arm'd against the invader's head,
Stood in close ranks, all entrance to oppose;
Thistles now held more precious than the rose.
All creatures which, on nature's earliest plan,
Were formed to loathe and to be loathed by man,
Which owed their birth to nastiness and spite,
Deadly to touch, and hateful to the sight;
Creatures which, when admitted in the ark,
Their saviour shunn'd, and rankled in the dark,
Found place within: marking her noisome road
With poison's trail, here crawl'd the bloated toad;
There webs were spread of more than common size,
And half-starved spiders prey'd on half-starved flies;
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In quest of food, efts strove in vain to crawl;
Slugs, pinch'd with hunger, smear'd the slimy wall:
The cave around with hissing serpents rung;
On the damp roof unhealthy vapour hung;
And Famine, by her children always known,
As proud as poor, here fix'd her native throne.
Here, for the sullen sky was overcast,
And summer shrunk beneath a wintry blast-A native blast, which, arm'd with hail and rain,
Beat unrelenting on the naked swain,
The boys for shelter made; behind, the sheep,
Of which those shepherds every day _take keep_,
Sickly crept on, and, with complainings rude,
On nature seem'd to call, and bleat for food.
JOCKEY.
_Sith_ to this cave by tempest we're confined,
And within _ken_ our flocks, under the wind,
Safe from the pelting of this perilous storm,
Are laid _emong_ yon thistles, dry and warm,
What, Sawney, if by shepherds' art we try
To mock the rigour of this cruel sky?
What if we tune some merry roundelay?
Well dost thou sing, nor ill doth Jockey play.
SAWNEY.
Ah! Jockey, ill advisest thou, _I wis_,
To think of songs at such a time as this:
Sooner shall herbage crown these barren rocks,
Sooner shall fleeces clothe these ragged flocks,
Sooner shall want seize shepherds of the south,
And we forget to live from hand to mouth,
Than Sawney, out of season, shall impart
The songs of gladness with an aching heart.
JOCKEY.
Still have I known thee for a silly swain;
Of things past help, what boots it to complain?
Nothing but mirth can conquer fortune's spite;
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No sky is heavy, if the heart be light:
Patience is sorrow's salve: what can't be cured,
So Donald right areads, must be endured.
SAWNEY.
Full silly swain, _I wot_, is Jockey now.
How didst thou bear thy Maggy's falsehood? How,
When with a foreign loon she stole away,
Didst thou forswear thy pipe and shepherd's lay?
Where was thy boasted wisdom then, when I
Applied those proverbs which you now apply?
JOCKEY.
Oh, she was _bonny_! All the Highlands round
Was there a rival to my Maggy found?
More precious (though that precious is to all)
Than the rare medicine which we Brimstone call,
Or that choice plant, so grateful to the nose,
Which, in I know not what far country, grows,
Was Maggy unto me: dear do I rue
A lass so fair should ever prove untrue.
SAWNEY.
Whether with pipe or song to charm the ear,
Through all the land did Jamie find a peer?
Cursed be that year by every honest Scot,
And in the shepherd's calendar forgot,
That fatal year when Jamie, hapless swain!
In evil hour forsook the peaceful plain:
Jamie, when our young laird discreetly fled,
Was seized, and hang'd till he was dead, dead, dead.
JOCKEY.
Full sorely may we all lament that day,
For all were losers in the deadly fray.
Five brothers had I on the Scottish plains,
Well dost thou know were none more hopeful swains;
Five brothers there I lost, in manhood's pride;
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Two in the field, and three on gibbets died.
Ah, silly swains! to follow war's alarms;
Ah! what hath shepherds' life to do with arms?
SAWNEY.
Mention it not--there saw I strangers clad
In all the honours of our ravish'd plaid;
Saw the Ferrara, too, our nation's pride,
Unwilling grace the awkward victor's side.
There fell our choicest youth, and from that day
_Mote_ never Sawney tune the merry lay;
Bless'd those which fell! cursed those which still survive,
To mourn Fifteen renew'd in Forty-five!
Thus plain'd the boys, when, from her throne of turf,
With boils emboss'd, and overgrown with scurf,
Vile humours which, in life's corrupted well
Mix'd at the birth, not abstinence could quell,
Pale Famine rear'd the head; her eager eyes,
Where hunger e'en to madness seem'd to rise,
Speaking aloud her throes and pangs of heart,
Strain'd to get loose, and from their orbs to start:
Her hollow cheeks were each a deep-sunk cell,
Where wretchedness and horror loved to dwell;
With double rows of useless teeth supplied,
Her mouth, from ear to ear, extended wide,
Which, when for want of food her entrails pined,
She oped, and, cursing, swallow'd nought but wind:
All shrivell'd was her skin; and here and there,
Making their way by force, her bones lay bare:
Such filthy sight to hide from human view,
O'er her foul limbs a tatter'd plaid she threw.
Cease, cried the goddess, cease, despairing swains!
And from a parent hear what Jove ordains.
Pent in this barren corner of the isle,
Where partial fortune never deign'd to smile;
Like nature's bastards, reaping for our share
What was rejected by the lawful heir;
Unknown amongst the nations of the earth,
Or only known to raise contempt and mirth;
Long free, because the race of Roman braves
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Thought it not worth their while to make us slaves;
Then into bondage by that nation brought,
Whose ruin we for ages vainly sought;
Whom still with unslaked hate we view, and still,
The power of mischief lost, retain the will;
Consider'd as the refuse of mankind,
A mass till the last moment left behind,
Which frugal nature doubted, as it lay,
Whether to stamp with life or throw away;
Which, form'd in haste, was planted in this nook,
But never enter'd in Creation's book;
Branded as traitors who, for love of gold,
Would sell their God, as once their king they sold,-Long have we borne this mighty weight of ill,
These vile injurious taunts, and bear them still.
But times of happier note are now at hand,
And the full promise of a better land:
There, like the sons of Israel, having trod,
For the fix'd term of years ordain'd by God,
A barren desert, we shall seize rich plains,
Where milk with honey flows, and plenty reigns:
With some few natives join'd, some pliant few,
Who worship Interest and our track pursue;
There shall we, though the wretched people grieve,
Ravage at large, nor ask the owners' leave.
For us, the earth shall bring forth her increase;
For us, the flocks shall wear a golden fleece;
Fat beeves shall yield us dainties not our own,
And the grape bleed a nectar yet unknown:
For our advantage shall their harvests grow,
And Scotsmen reap what they disdain'd to sow:
For us, the sun shall climb the eastern hill;
For us, the rain shall fall, the dew distil.
When to our wishes Nature cannot rise,
Art shall be task'd to grant us fresh supplies;
His brawny arm shall drudging Labour strain,
And for our pleasure suffer daily pain:
Trade shall for us exert her utmost powers,
Hers all the toil, and all the profit ours:
For us, the oak shall from his native steep
Descend, and fearless travel through the deep:
The sail of commerce, for our use unfurl'd,
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Shall waft the treasures of each distant world:
For us, sublimer heights shall science reach;
For us, their statesman plot, their churchmen preach:
Their noblest limbs of council we'll disjoint,
And, mocking, new ones of our own appoint.
Devouring War, imprison'd in the North,
Shall, at our call, in horrid pomp break forth,
And when, his chariot-wheels with thunder hung,
Fell Discord braying with her brazen tongue,
Death in the van, with Anger, Hate, and Fear,
And Desolation stalking in the rear,
Revenge, by Justice guided, in his train,
He drives impetuous o'er the trembling plain,
Shall, at our bidding, quit his lawful prey,
And to meek, gentle, generous Peace give way.
Think not, my sons, that this so bless'd estate
Stands at a distance on the roll of fate;
Already big with hopes of future sway,
E'en from this cave I scent my destined prey.
Think not that this dominion o'er a race,
Whose former deeds shall time's last annals grace,
In the rough face of peril must be sought,
And with the lives of thousands dearly bought:
No--fool'd by cunning, by that happy art
Which laughs to scorn the blundering hero's heart,
Into the snare shall our kind neighbours fall
With open eyes, and fondly give us all.
When Rome, to prop her sinking empire, bore
Their choicest levies to a foreign shore,
What if we seized, like a destroying flood,
Their widow'd plains, and fill'd the realm with blood;
Gave an unbounded loose to manly rage,
And, scorning mercy, spared nor sex, nor age?
When, for our interest too mighty grown,
Monarchs of warlike bent possessed the throne,
What if we strove divisions to foment,
And spread the flames of civil discontent,
Assisted those who 'gainst their king made head,
And gave the traitors refuge when they fled?
When restless Glory bade her sons advance,
And pitch'd her standard in the fields of France,
What if, disdaining oaths,--an empty sound,
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By which our nation never shall be bound,-Bravely we taught unmuzzled War to roam,
Through the weak land, and brought cheap laurels home?
When the bold traitors, leagued for the defence
Of law, religion, liberty, and sense,
When they against their lawful monarch rose,
And dared the Lord's anointed to oppose,
What if we still revered the banish'd race,
And strove the royal vagrants to replace;
With fierce rebellions shook the unsettled state,
And greatly dared, though cross'd by partial fate?
These facts, which might, where wisdom held the sway,
Awake the very stones to bar our way,
There shall be nothing, nor one trace remain
In the dull region of an English brain;
Bless'd with that faith which mountains can remove,
First they shall dupes, next saints, last martyrs, prove.
Already is this game of Fate begun
Under the sanction of my darling son;
That son, of nature royal as his name,
Is destined to redeem our race from shame:
His boundless power, beyond example great,
Shall make the rough way smooth, the crooked straight;
Shall for our ease the raging floods restrain,
And sink the mountain level to the plain.
Discord, whom in a cavern under ground
With massy fetters their late patriot bound;
Where her own flesh the furious hag might tear,
And vent her curses to the vacant air;
Where, that she never might be heard of more,
He planted Loyalty to guard the door,
For better purpose shall our chief release,
Disguise her for a time, and call her Peace.
Lured by that name--fine engine of deceit!-Shall the weak English help themselves to cheat;
To gain our love, with honours shall they grace
The old adherents of the Stuart race,
Who, pointed out no matter by what name,
Tories or Jacobites, are still the same;
To soothe our rage the temporising brood
Shall break the ties of truth and gratitude,
Against their saviour venom'd falsehoods frame,
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And brand with calumny their William's name:
To win our grace, (rare argument of wit!)
To our untainted faith shall they commit
(Our faith, which, in extremest perils tried,
Disdain'd, and still disdains, to change her side)
That sacred Majesty they all approve,
Who most enjoys, and best deserves their love.
~ Charles Churchill
131:Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse!
O first-born on the mountains! by the hues
Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot,
While yet our England was a wolfish den;
Before our forests heard the talk of men;
Before the first of Druids was a child;--
Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild
Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude.
There came an eastern voice of solemn mood:--
Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine,
Apollo's garland:--yet didst thou divine
Such home-bred glory, that they cry'd in vain,
"Come hither, Sister of the Island!" Plain
Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake
A higher summons:--still didst thou betake
Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won
A full accomplishment! The thing is done,
Which undone, these our latter days had risen
On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know'st what prison
Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets
Our spirit's wings: despondency besets
Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn
Seems to give forth its light in very scorn
Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives.
Long have I said, how happy he who shrives
To thee! But then I thought on poets gone,
And could not pray:nor can I now--so on
I move to the end in lowliness of heart.--

"Ah, woe is me! that I should fondly part
From my dear native land! Ah, foolish maid!
Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade
Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields!
To one so friendless the clear freshet yields
A bitter coolness, the ripe grape is sour:
Yet I would have, great gods! but one short hour
Of native airlet me but die at home."

Endymion to heaven's airy dome
Was offering up a hecatomb of vows,
When these words reach'd him. Whereupon he bows
His head through thorny-green entanglement
Of underwood, and to the sound is bent,
Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn.

"Is no one near to help me? No fair dawn
Of life from charitable voice? No sweet saying
To set my dull and sadden'd spirit playing?
No hand to toy with mine? No lips so sweet
That I may worship them? No eyelids meet
To twinkle on my bosom? No one dies
Before me, till from these enslaving eyes
Redemption sparkles!I am sad and lost."

Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost
Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air,
Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear
A woman's sigh alone and in distress?
See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless?
Phoebe is fairer farO gaze no more:
Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty's store,
Behold her panting in the forest grass!
Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass
For tenderness the arms so idly lain
Amongst them? Feelest not a kindred pain,
To see such lovely eyes in swimming search
After some warm delight, that seems to perch
Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond
Their upper lids?Hist!      "O for Hermes' wand
To touch this flower into human shape!
That woodland Hyacinthus could escape
From his green prison, and here kneeling down
Call me his queen, his second life's fair crown!
Ah me, how I could love!My soul doth melt
For the unhappy youthLove! I have felt
So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender
To what my own full thoughts had made too tender,
That but for tears my life had fled away!
Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day,
And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true,
There is no lightning, no authentic dew
But in the eye of love: there's not a sound,
Melodious howsoever, can confound
The heavens and earth in one to such a death
As doth the voice of love: there's not a breath
Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
Of passion from the heart!"

               Upon a bough
He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now
Thirst for another love: O impious,
That he can even dream upon it thus!
Thought he, "Why am I not as are the dead,
Since to a woe like this I have been led
Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea?
Goddess! I love thee not the less: from thee
By Juno's smile I turn notno, no, no
While the great waters are at ebb and flow.
I have a triple soul! O fond pretence
For both, for both my love is so immense,
I feel my heart is cut in twain for them."

And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain.
The lady's heart beat quick, and he could see
Her gentle bosom heave tumultuously.
He sprang from his green covert: there she lay,
Sweet as a muskrose upon new-made hay;
With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes
Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries.
"Fair damsel, pity me! forgive that I
Thus violate thy bower's sanctity!
O pardon me, for I am full of grief
Grief born of thee, young angel! fairest thief!
Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith
I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith
Thou art my executioner, and I feel
Loving and hatred, misery and weal,
Will in a few short hours be nothing to me,
And all my story that much passion slew me;
Do smile upon the evening of my days:
And, for my tortur'd brain begins to craze,
Be thou my nurse; and let me understand
How dying I shall kiss that lily hand.
Dost weep for me? Then should I be content.
Scowl on, ye fates! until the firmament
Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern'd earth
Crumbles into itself. By the cloud girth
Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst
To meet oblivion."As her heart would burst
The maiden sobb'd awhile, and then replied:
"Why must such desolation betide
As that thou speakest of? Are not these green nooks
Empty of all misfortune? Do the brooks
Utter a gorgon voice? Does yonder thrush,
Schooling its half-fledg'd little ones to brush
About the dewy forest, whisper tales?
Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails
Will slime the rose to night. Though if thou wilt,
Methinks 'twould be a guilta very guilt
Not to companion thee, and sigh away
The lightthe duskthe darktill break of day!"
"Dear lady," said Endymion, "'tis past:
I love thee! and my days can never last.
That I may pass in patience still speak:
Let me have music dying, and I seek
No more delightI bid adieu to all.
Didst thou not after other climates call,
And murmur about Indian streams?"Then she,
Sitting beneath the midmost forest tree,
For pity sang this roundelay
     "O Sorrow,
     Why dost borrow
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?
     To give maiden blushes
     To the white rose bushes?
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

     "O Sorrow,
     Why dost borrow
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?
     To give the glow-worm light?
     Or, on a moonless night,
To tinge, on syren shores, the salt sea-spry?

     "O Sorrow,
     Why dost borrow
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?
     To give at evening pale
     Unto the nightingale,
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

     "O Sorrow,
     Why dost borrow
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?
     A lover would not tread
     A cowslip on the head,
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day
     Nor any drooping flower
     Held sacred for thy bower,
Wherever he may sport himself and play.

     "To Sorrow
     I bade good-morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
     But cheerly, cheerly,
     She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
     I would deceive her
     And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,
     And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
     Cold as my fears.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: what enamour'd bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
    But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm trees by a river side?

"And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue
    'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din
    'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
    To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when, in June,
Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon:
    I rush'd into the folly!

"Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
    With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms, and shoulders, enough white
    For Venus' pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ****,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
    Tipsily quaffing.

"Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
    Your lutes, and gentler fate?
We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing?
    A conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
    To our wild minstrelsy!'

"Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
    Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?
For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
    And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great God of breathless cups and chirping mirth!
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our mad minstrelsy!'

"Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
    With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriadswith song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
    Nor care for wind and tide.

"Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days' journey in a moment done:
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
    On spleenful unicorn.

"I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
    Before the vine-wreath crown!
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
    To the silver cymbals' ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
    Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Inde their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
    And all his priesthood moans;
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.
Into these regions came I following him,
Sick hearted, wearyso I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear
    Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.

     "Young stranger!
     I've been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime:
     Alas! 'tis not for me!
     Bewitch'd I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.

     "Come then, Sorrow!
     Sweetest Sorrow!
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
     I thought to leave thee
     And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.

     "There is not one,
     No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
     Thou art her mother,
     And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade."

O what a sigh she gave in finishing,
And look, quite dead to every worldly thing!
Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her;
And listened to the wind that now did stir
About the crisped oaks full drearily,
Yet with as sweet a softness as might be
Remember'd from its velvet summer song.
At last he said: "Poor lady, how thus long
Have I been able to endure that voice?
Fair Melody! kind Syren! I've no choice;
I must be thy sad servant evermore:
I cannot choose but kneel here and adore.
Alas, I must not thinkby Phoebe, no!
Let me not think, soft Angel! shall it be so?
Say, beautifullest, shall I never think?
O thou could'st foster me beyond the brink
Of recollection! make my watchful care
Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair!
Do gently murder half my soul, and I
Shall feel the other half so utterly!
I'm giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth;
O let it blush so ever! let it soothe
My madness! let it mantle rosy-warm
With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm.
This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is;
And this is sure thine other softlingthis
Thine own fair bosom, and I am so near!
Wilt fall asleep? O let me sip that tear!
And whisper one sweet word that I may know
This is this worldsweet dewy blossom!"Woe!
Woe! Woe to that Endymion! Where is he?
Even these words went echoing dismally
Through the wide foresta most fearful tone,
Like one repenting in his latest moan;
And while it died away a shade pass'd by,
As of a thunder cloud. When arrows fly
Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth
Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
Waiting for some destructionwhen lo,
Foot-feather'd Mercury appear'd sublime
Beyond the tall tree tops; and in less time
Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropt
Towards the ground; but rested not, nor stopt
One moment from his home: only the sward
He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward
Swifter than sight was goneeven before
The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise,
How they can dive in sight and unseen rise
So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
The youth of Caria plac'd the lovely dame
On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame
The other's fierceness. Through the air they flew,
High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew
Exhal'd to Phoebus' lips, away they are gone,
Far from the earth awayunseen, alone,
Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free,
The buoyant life of song can floating be
Above their heads, and follow them untir'd.
Muse of my native land, am I inspir'd?
This is the giddy air, and I must spread
Wide pinions to keep here; nor do I dread
Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance
Precipitous: I have beneath my glance
Those towering horses and their mournful freight.
Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid?
There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
From some approaching wonder, and behold
Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
Dying to embers from their native fire!

There curl'd a purple mist around them; soon,
It seem'd as when around the pale new moon
Sad Zephyr droops the clouds like weeping willow:
'Twas Sleep slow journeying with head on pillow.
For the first time, since he came nigh dead born
From the old womb of night, his cave forlorn
Had he left more forlorn; for the first time,
He felt aloof the day and morning's prime
Because into his depth Cimmerian
There came a dream, shewing how a young man,
Ere a lean bat could plump its wintery skin,
Would at high Jove's empyreal footstool win
An immortality, and how espouse
Jove's daughter, and be reckon'd of his house.
Now was he slumbering towards heaven's gate,
That he might at the threshold one hour wait
To hear the marriage melodies, and then
Sink downward to his dusky cave again.
His litter of smooth semilucent mist,
Diversely ting'd with rose and amethyst,
Puzzled those eyes that for the centre sought;
And scarcely for one moment could be caught
His sluggish form reposing motionless.
Those two on winged steeds, with all the stress
Of vision search'd for him, as one would look
Athwart the sallows of a river nook
To catch a glance at silver throated eels,
Or from old Skiddaw's top, when fog conceals
His rugged forehead in a mantle pale,
With an eye-guess towards some pleasant vale
Descry a favourite hamlet faint and far.

These raven horses, though they foster'd are
Of earth's splenetic fire, dully drop
Their full-veined ears, nostrils blood wide, and stop;
Upon the spiritless mist have they outspread
Their ample feathers, are in slumber dead,
And on those pinions, level in mid air,
Endymion sleepeth and the lady fair.
Slowly they sail, slowly as icy isle
Upon a calm sea drifting: and meanwhile
The mournful wanderer dreams. Behold! he walks
On heaven's pavement; brotherly he talks
To divine powers: from his hand full fain
Juno's proud birds are pecking pearly grain:
He tries the nerve of Phoebus' golden bow,
And asketh where the golden apples grow:
Upon his arm he braces Pallas' shield,
And strives in vain to unsettle and wield
A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings
A full-brimm'd goblet, dances lightly, sings
And tantalizes long; at last he drinks,
And lost in pleasure at her feet he sinks,
Touching with dazzled lips her starlight hand.
He blows a bugle,an ethereal band
Are visible above: the Seasons four,
Green-kyrtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn's sickle, Winter frosty hoar,
Join dance with shadowy Hours; while still the blast,
In swells unmitigated, still doth last
To sway their floating morris. "Whose is this?
Whose bugle?" he inquires: they smile"O Dis!
Why is this mortal here? Dost thou not know
Its mistress' lips? Not thou?'Tis Dian's: lo!
She rises crescented!" He looks, 'tis she,
His very goddess: good-bye earth, and sea,
And air, and pains, and care, and suffering;
Good-bye to all but love! Then doth he spring
Towards her, and awakesand, strange, o'erhead,
Of those same fragrant exhalations bred,
Beheld awake his very dream: the gods
Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods;
And Phoebe bends towards him crescented.
O state perplexing! On the pinion bed,
Too well awake, he feels the panting side
Of his delicious lady. He who died
For soaring too audacious in the sun,
Where that same treacherous wax began to run,
Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion.
His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne,
To that fair shadow'd passion puls'd its way
Ah, what perplexity! Ah, well a day!
So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow,
He could not help but kiss her: then he grew
Awhile forgetful of all beauty save
Young Phoebe's, golden hair'd; and so 'gan crave
Forgiveness: yet he turn'd once more to look
At the sweet sleeper,all his soul was shook,
She press'd his hand in slumber; so once more
He could not help but kiss her and adore.
At this the shadow wept, melting away.
The Latmian started up: "Bright goddess, stay!
Search my most hidden breast! By truth's own tongue,
I have no ddale heart: why is it wrung
To desperation? Is there nought for me,
Upon the bourne of bliss, but misery?"

These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses:
Her dawning love-look rapt Endymion blesses
With 'haviour soft. Sleep yawned from underneath.
"Thou swan of Ganges, let us no more breathe
This murky phantasm! thou contented seem'st
Pillow'd in lovely idleness, nor dream'st
What horrors may discomfort thee and me.
Ah, shouldst thou die from my heart-treachery!
Yet did she merely weepher gentle soul
Hath no revenge in it: as it is whole
In tenderness, would I were whole in love!
Can I prize thee, fair maid, all price above,
Even when I feel as true as innocence?
I do, I do.What is this soul then? Whence
Came it? It does not seem my own, and I
Have no self-passion or identity.
Some fearful end must be: where, where is it?
By Nemesis, I see my spirit flit
Alone about the darkForgive me, sweet:
Shall we away?" He rous'd the steeds: they beat
Their wings chivalrous into the clear air,
Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair.

The good-night blush of eve was waning slow,
And Vesper, risen star, began to throe
In the dusk heavens silvery, when they
Thus sprang direct towards the Galaxy.
Nor did speed hinder converse soft and strange
Eternal oaths and vows they interchange,
In such wise, in such temper, so aloof
Up in the winds, beneath a starry roof,
So witless of their doom, that verily
'Tis well nigh past man's search their hearts to see;
Whether they wept, or laugh'd, or griev'd, or toy'd
Most like with joy gone mad, with sorrow cloy'd.

Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak,
The moon put forth a little diamond peak,
No bigger than an unobserved star,
Or tiny point of fairy scymetar;
Bright signal that she only stoop'd to tie
Her silver sandals, ere deliciously
She bow'd into the heavens her timid head.
Slowly she rose, as though she would have fled,
While to his lady meek the Carian turn'd,
To mark if her dark eyes had yet discern'd
This beauty in its birthDespair! despair!
He saw her body fading gaunt and spare
In the cold moonshine. Straight he seiz'd her wrist;
It melted from his grasp: her hand he kiss'd,
And, horror! kiss'd his ownhe was alone.
Her steed a little higher soar'd, and then
Dropt hawkwise to the earth.    There lies a den,
Beyond the seeming confines of the space
Made for the soul to wander in and trace
Its own existence, of remotest glooms.
Dark regions are around it, where the tombs
Of buried griefs the spirit sees, but scarce
One hour doth linger weeping, for the pierce
Of new-born woe it feels more inly smart:
And in these regions many a venom'd dart
At random flies; they are the proper home
Of every ill: the man is yet to come
Who hath not journeyed in this native hell.
But few have ever felt how calm and well
Sleep may be had in that deep den of all.
There anguish does not sting; nor pleasure pall:
Woe-hurricanes beat ever at the gate,
Yet all is still within and desolate.
Beset with painful gusts, within ye hear
No sound so loud as when on curtain'd bier
The death-watch tick is stifled. Enter none
Who strive therefore: on the sudden it is won.
Just when the sufferer begins to burn,
Then it is free to him; and from an urn,
Still fed by melting ice, he takes a draught
Young Semele such richness never quaft
In her maternal longing. Happy gloom!
Dark Paradise! where pale becomes the bloom
Of health by due; where silence dreariest
Is most articulate; where hopes infest;
Where those eyes are the brightest far that keep
Their lids shut longest in a dreamless sleep.
O happy spirit-home! O wondrous soul!
Pregnant with such a den to save the whole
In thine own depth. Hail, gentle Carian!
For, never since thy griefs and woes began,
Hast thou felt so content: a grievous feud
Hath let thee to this Cave of Quietude.
Aye, his lull'd soul was there, although upborne
With dangerous speed: and so he did not mourn
Because he knew not whither he was going.
So happy was he, not the aerial blowing
Of trumpets at clear parley from the east
Could rouse from that fine relish, that high feast.
They stung the feather'd horse: with fierce alarm
He flapp'd towards the sound. Alas, no charm
Could lift Endymion's head, or he had view'd
A skyey mask, a pinion'd multitude,
And silvery was its passing: voices sweet
Warbling the while as if to lull and greet
The wanderer in his path. Thus warbled they,
While past the vision went in bright array.

"Who, who from Dian's feast would be away?
For all the golden bowers of the day
Are empty left? Who, who away would be
From Cynthia's wedding and festivity?
Not Hesperus: lo! upon his silver wings
He leans away for highest heaven and sings,
Snapping his lucid fingers merrily!
Ah, Zephyrus! art here, and Flora too!
Ye tender bibbers of the rain and dew,
Young playmates of the rose and daffodil,
Be careful, ere ye enter in, to fill
    Your baskets high
With fennel green, and balm, and golden pines,
Savory, latter-mint, and columbines,
Cool parsley, basil sweet, and sunny thyme;
Yea, every flower and leaf of every clime,
All gather'd in the dewy morning: hie
    Away! fly, fly!
Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven,
Aquarius! to whom king Jove has given
Two liquid pulse streams 'stead of feather'd wings,
Two fan-like fountains,thine illuminings
    For Dian play:
Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
Let thy white shoulders silvery and bare
Shew cold through watery pinions; make more bright
The Star-Queen's crescent on her marriage night:
    Haste, haste away!
Castor has tamed the planet Lion, see!
And of the Bear has Pollux mastery:
A third is in the race! who is the third,
Speeding away swift as the eagle bird?
    The ramping Centaur!
The Lion's mane's on end: the Bear how fierce!
The Centaur's arrow ready seems to pierce
Some enemy: far forth his bow is bent
Into the blue of heaven. He'll be shent,
    Pale unrelentor,
When he shall hear the wedding lutes a playing.
Andromeda! sweet woman! why delaying
So timidly among the stars: come hither!
Join this bright throng, and nimbly follow whither
    They all are going.
Danae's Son, before Jove newly bow'd,
Has wept for thee, calling to Jove aloud.
Thee, gentle lady, did he disenthral:
Ye shall for ever live and love, for all
    Thy tears are flowing.
By Daphne's fright, behold Apollo!"

                    More
Endymion heard not: down his steed him bore,
Prone to the green head of a misty hill.

His first touch of the earth went nigh to kill.
"Alas!" said he, "were I but always borne
Through dangerous winds, had but my footsteps worn
A path in hell, for ever would I bless
Horrors which nourish an uneasiness
For my own sullen conquering: to him
Who lives beyond earth's boundary, grief is dim,
Sorrow is but a shadow: now I see
The grass; I feel the solid groundAh, me!
It is thy voicedivinest! Where?who? who
Left thee so quiet on this bed of dew?
Behold upon this happy earth we are;
Let us ay love each other; let us fare
On forest-fruits, and never, never go
Among the abodes of mortals here below,
Or be by phantoms duped. O destiny!
Into a labyrinth now my soul would fly,
But with thy beauty will I deaden it.
Where didst thou melt too? By thee will I sit
For ever: let our fate stop herea kid
I on this spot will offer: Pan will bid
Us live in peace, in love and peace among
His forest wildernesses. I have clung
To nothing, lov'd a nothing, nothing seen
Or felt but a great dream! O I have been
Presumptuous against love, against the sky,
Against all elements, against the tie
Of mortals each to each, against the blooms
Of flowers, rush of rivers, and the tombs
Of heroes gone! Against his proper glory
Has my own soul conspired: so my story
Will I to children utter, and repent.
There never liv'd a mortal man, who bent
His appetite beyond his natural sphere,
But starv'd and died. My sweetest Indian, here,
Here will I kneel, for thou redeemed hast
My life from too thin breathing: gone and past
Are cloudy phantasms. Caverns lone, farewel!
And air of visions, and the monstrous swell
Of visionary seas! No, never more
Shall airy voices cheat me to the shore
Of tangled wonder, breathless and aghast.
Adieu, my daintiest Dream! although so vast
My love is still for thee. The hour may come
When we shall meet in pure elysium.
On earth I may not love thee; and therefore
Doves will I offer up, and sweetest store
All through the teeming year: so thou wilt shine
On me, and on this damsel fair of mine,
And bless our simple lives. My Indian bliss!
My river-lily bud! one human kiss!
One sigh of real breathone gentle squeeze,
Warm as a dove's nest among summer trees,
And warm with dew at ooze from living blood!
Whither didst melt? Ah, what of that!all good
We'll talk aboutno more of dreaming.Now,
Where shall our dwelling be? Under the brow
Of some steep mossy hill, where ivy dun
Would hide us up, although spring leaves were none;
And where dark yew trees, as we rustle through,
Will drop their scarlet berry cups of dew?
O thou wouldst joy to live in such a place;
Dusk for our loves, yet light enough to grace
Those gentle limbs on mossy bed reclin'd:
For by one step the blue sky shouldst thou find,
And by another, in deep dell below,
See, through the trees, a little river go
All in its mid-day gold and glimmering.
Honey from out the gnarled hive I'll bring,
And apples, wan with sweetness, gather thee,
Cresses that grow where no man may them see,
And sorrel untorn by the dew-claw'd stag:
Pipes will I fashion of the syrinx flag,
That thou mayst always know whither I roam,
When it shall please thee in our quiet home
To listen and think of love. Still let me speak;
Still let me dive into the joy I seek,
For yet the past doth prison me. The rill,
Thou haply mayst delight in, will I fill
With fairy fishes from the mountain tarn,
And thou shalt feed them from the squirrel's barn.
Its bottom will I strew with amber shells,
And pebbles blue from deep enchanted wells.
Its sides I'll plant with dew-sweet eglantine,
And honeysuckles full of clear bee-wine.
I will entice this crystal rill to trace
Love's silver name upon the meadow's face.
I'll kneel to Vesta, for a flame of fire;
And to god Phoebus, for a golden lyre;
To Empress Dian, for a hunting spear;
To Vesper, for a taper silver-clear,
That I may see thy beauty through the night;
To Flora, and a nightingale shall light
Tame on thy finger; to the River-gods,
And they shall bring thee taper fishing-rods
Of gold, and lines of Naiads' long bright tress.
Heaven shield thee for thine utter loveliness!
Thy mossy footstool shall the altar be
'Fore which I'll bend, bending, dear love, to thee:
Those lips shall be my Delphos, and shall speak
Laws to my footsteps, colour to my cheek,
Trembling or stedfastness to this same voice,
And of three sweetest pleasurings the choice:
And that affectionate light, those diamond things,
Those eyes, those passions, those supreme pearl springs,
Shall be my grief, or twinkle me to pleasure.
Say, is not bliss within our perfect seisure?
O that I could not doubt?"

               The mountaineer
Thus strove by fancies vain and crude to clear
His briar'd path to some tranquillity.
It gave bright gladness to his lady's eye,
And yet the tears she wept were tears of sorrow;
Answering thus, just as the golden morrow
Beam'd upward from the vallies of the east:
"O that the flutter of this heart had ceas'd,
Or the sweet name of love had pass'd away.
Young feather'd tyrant! by a swift decay
Wilt thou devote this body to the earth:
And I do think that at my very birth
I lisp'd thy blooming titles inwardly;
For at the first, first dawn and thought of thee,
With uplift hands I blest the stars of heaven.
Art thou not cruel? Ever have I striven
To think thee kind, but ah, it will not do!
When yet a child, I heard that kisses drew
Favour from thee, and so I kisses gave
To the void air, bidding them find out love:
But when I came to feel how far above
All fancy, pride, and fickle maidenhood,
All earthly pleasure, all imagin'd good,
Was the warm tremble of a devout kiss,
Even then, that moment, at the thought of this,
Fainting I fell into a bed of flowers,
And languish'd there three days. Ye milder powers,
Am I not cruelly wrong'd? Believe, believe
Me, dear Endymion, were I to weave
With my own fancies garlands of sweet life,
Thou shouldst be one of all. Ah, bitter strife!
I may not be thy love: I am forbidden
Indeed I amthwarted, affrighted, chidden,
By things I trembled at, and gorgon wrath.
Twice hast thou ask'd whither I went: henceforth
Ask me no more! I may not utter it,
Nor may I be thy love. We might commit
Ourselves at once to vengeance; we might die;
We might embrace and die: voluptuous thought!
Enlarge not to my hunger, or I'm caught
In trammels of perverse deliciousness.
No, no, that shall not be: thee will I bless,
And bid a long adieu."

             The Carian
No word return'd: both lovelorn, silent, wan,
Into the vallies green together went.
Far wandering, they were perforce content
To sit beneath a fair lone beechen tree;
Nor at each other gaz'd, but heavily
Por'd on its hazle cirque of shedded leaves.

Endymion! unhappy! it nigh grieves
Me to behold thee thus in last extreme:
Ensky'd ere this, but truly that I deem
Truth the best music in a first-born song.
Thy lute-voic'd brother will I sing ere long,
And thou shalt aidhast thou not aided me?
Yes, moonlight Emperor! felicity
Has been thy meed for many thousand years;
Yet often have I, on the brink of tears,
Mourn'd as if yet thou wert a forester,
Forgetting the old tale.

              He did not stir
His eyes from the dead leaves, or one small pulse
Of joy he might have felt. The spirit culls
Unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays
Through the old garden-ground of boyish days.
A little onward ran the very stream
By which he took his first soft poppy dream;
And on the very bark 'gainst which he leant
A crescent he had carv'd, and round it spent
His skill in little stars. The teeming tree
Had swollen and green'd the pious charactery,
But not ta'en out. Why, there was not a slope
Up which he had not fear'd the antelope;
And not a tree, beneath whose rooty shade
He had not with his tamed leopards play'd.
Nor could an arrow light, or javelin,
Fly in the air where his had never been
And yet he knew it not.

             O treachery!
Why does his lady smile, pleasing her eye
With all his sorrowing? He sees her not.
But who so stares on him? His sister sure!
Peona of the woods!Can she endure
Impossiblehow dearly they embrace!
His lady smiles; delight is in her face;
It is no treachery.

           "Dear brother mine!
Endymion, weep not so! Why shouldst thou pine
When all great Latmos so exalt wilt be?
Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly;
And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more.
Sure I will not believe thou hast such store
Of grief, to last thee to my kiss again.
Thou surely canst not bear a mind in pain,
Come hand in hand with one so beautiful.
Be happy both of you! for I will pull
The flowers of autumn for your coronals.
Pan's holy priest for young Endymion calls;
And when he is restor'd, thou, fairest dame,
Shalt be our queen. Now, is it not a shame
To see ye thus,not very, very sad?
Perhaps ye are too happy to be glad:
O feel as if it were a common day;
Free-voic'd as one who never was away.
No tongue shall ask, whence come ye? but ye shall
Be gods of your own rest imperial.
Not even I, for one whole month, will pry
Into the hours that have pass'd us by,
Since in my arbour I did sing to thee.
O Hermes! on this very night will be
A hymning up to Cynthia, queen of light;
For the soothsayers old saw yesternight
Good visions in the air,whence will befal,
As say these sages, health perpetual
To shepherds and their flocks; and furthermore,
In Dian's face they read the gentle lore:
Therefore for her these vesper-carols are.
Our friends will all be there from nigh and far.
Many upon thy death have ditties made;
And many, even now, their foreheads shade
With cypress, on a day of sacrifice.
New singing for our maids shalt thou devise,
And pluck the sorrow from our huntsmen's brows.
Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse
This wayward brother to his rightful joys!
His eyes are on thee bent, as thou didst poise
His fate most goddess-like. Help me, I pray,
To lureEndymion, dear brother, say
What ails thee?" He could bear no more, and so
Bent his soul fiercely like a spiritual bow,
And twang'd it inwardly, and calmly said:
"I would have thee my only friend, sweet maid!
My only visitor! not ignorant though,
That those deceptions which for pleasure go
'Mong men, are pleasures real as real may be:
But there are higher ones I may not see,
If impiously an earthly realm I take.
Since I saw thee, I have been wide awake
Night after night, and day by day, until
Of the empyrean I have drunk my fill.
Let it content thee, Sister, seeing me
More happy than betides mortality.
A hermit young, I'll live in mossy cave,
Where thou alone shalt come to me, and lave
Thy spirit in the wonders I shall tell.
Through me the shepherd realm shall prosper well;
For to thy tongue will I all health confide.
And, for my sake, let this young maid abide
With thee as a dear sister. Thou alone,
Peona, mayst return to me. I own
This may sound strangely: but when, dearest girl,
Thou seest it for my happiness, no pearl
Will trespass down those cheeks. Companion fair!
Wilt be content to dwell with her, to share
This sister's love with me?" Like one resign'd
And bent by circumstance, and thereby blind
In self-commitment, thus that meek unknown:
"Aye, but a buzzing by my ears has flown,
Of jubilee to Dian:truth I heard!
Well then, I see there is no little bird,
Tender soever, but is Jove's own care.
Long have I sought for rest, and, unaware,
Behold I find it! so exalted too!
So after my own heart! I knew, I knew
There was a place untenanted in it:
In that same void white Chastity shall sit,
And monitor me nightly to lone slumber.
With sanest lips I vow me to the number
Of Dian's sisterhood; and, kind lady,
With thy good help, this very night shall see
My future days to her fane consecrate."

As feels a dreamer what doth most create
His own particular fright, so these three felt:
Or like one who, in after ages, knelt
To Lucifer or Baal, when he'd pine
After a little sleep: or when in mine
Far under-ground, a sleeper meets his friends
Who know him not. Each diligently bends
Towards common thoughts and things for very fear;
Striving their ghastly malady to cheer,
By thinking it a thing of yes and no,
That housewives talk of. But the spirit-blow
Was struck, and all were dreamers. At the last
Endymion said: "Are not our fates all cast?
Why stand we here? Adieu, ye tender pair!
Adieu!" Whereat those maidens, with wild stare,
Walk'd dizzily away. Pained and hot
His eyes went after them, until they got
Near to a cypress grove, whose deadly maw,
In one swift moment, would what then he saw
Engulph for ever. "Stay!" he cried, "ah, stay!
Turn, damsels! hist! one word I have to say.
Sweet Indian, I would see thee once again.
It is a thing I dote on: so I'd fain,
Peona, ye should hand in hand repair
Into those holy groves, that silent are
Behind great Dian's temple. I'll be yon,
At vesper's earliest twinklethey are gone
But once, once, once again" At this he press'd
His hands against his face, and then did rest
His head upon a mossy hillock green,
And so remain'd as he a corpse had been
All the long day; save when he scantly lifted
His eyes abroad, to see how shadows shifted
With the slow move of time,sluggish and weary
Until the poplar tops, in journey dreary,
Had reach'd the river's brim. Then up he rose,
And, slowly as that very river flows,
Walk'd towards the temple grove with this lament:
"Why such a golden eve? The breeze is sent
Careful and soft, that not a leaf may fall
Before the serene father of them all
Bows down his summer head below the west.
Now am I of breath, speech, and speed possest,
But at the setting I must bid adieu
To her for the last time. Night will strew
On the damp grass myriads of lingering leaves,
And with them shall I die; nor much it grieves
To die, when summer dies on the cold sward.
Why, I have been a butterfly, a lord
Of flowers, garlands, love-knots, silly posies,
Groves, meadows, melodies, and arbour roses;
My kingdom's at its death, and just it is
That I should die with it: so in all this
We miscal grief, bale, sorrow, heartbreak, woe,
What is there to plain of? By Titan's foe
I am but rightly serv'd." So saying, he
Tripp'd lightly on, in sort of deathful glee;
Laughing at the clear stream and setting sun,
As though they jests had been: nor had he done
His laugh at nature's holy countenance,
Until that grove appear'd, as if perchance,
And then his tongue with sober seemlihed
Gave utterance as he entered: "Ha!" I said,
"King of the butterflies; but by this gloom,
And by old Rhadamanthus' tongue of doom,
This dusk religion, pomp of solitude,
And the Promethean clay by thief endued,
By old Saturnus' forelock, by his head
Shook with eternal palsy, I did wed
Myself to things of light from infancy;
And thus to be cast out, thus lorn to die,
Is sure enough to make a mortal man
Grow impious." So he inwardly began
On things for which no wording can be found;
Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown'd
Beyond the reach of music: for the choir
Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough briar
Nor muffling thicket interpos'd to dull
The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full,
Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles.
He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles,
Wan as primroses gather'd at midnight
By chilly finger'd spring. "Unhappy wight!
Endymion!" said Peona, "we are here!
What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier?"
Then he embrac'd her, and his lady's hand
Press'd, saying:" Sister, I would have command,
If it were heaven's will, on our sad fate."
At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate
And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love,
To Endymion's amaze: "By Cupid's dove,
And so thou shalt! and by the lily truth
Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!"
And as she spake, into her face there came
Light, as reflected from a silver flame:
Her long black hair swell'd ampler, in display
Full golden; in her eyes a brighter day
Dawn'd blue and full of love. Aye, he beheld
Phoebe, his passion! joyous she upheld
Her lucid bow, continuing thus; "Drear, drear
Has our delaying been; but foolish fear
Withheld me first; and then decrees of fate;
And then 'twas fit that from this mortal state
Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook'd for change
Be spiritualiz'd. Peona, we shall range
These forests, and to thee they safe shall be
As was thy cradle; hither shalt thou flee
To meet us many a time." Next Cynthia bright
Peona kiss'd, and bless'd with fair good night:
Her brother kiss'd her too, and knelt adown
Before his goddess, in a blissful swoon.
She gave her fair hands to him, and behold,
Before three swiftest kisses he had told,
They vanish'd far away!Peona went
Home through the gloomy wood in wonderment.

(line 2): This line originally began with 'O Mountain-born in the draft, where also 'while' stands cancelled in favour of 'by.'

(line 158): Keats has been supposed to have invented the variant 'spry' for 'spray' for convenience of rhyming, just as Shelley has been accused of inventing for like reasons the word 'uprest', for example, in Laon And Cythna, Canto III, Stanza xxi. Sandys, the translator of Ovid, may not be a very good authority; but he is not improbably Keats's authority for 'spry', and will certainly do in default of a better.

(line 273): The biblical dissyllabic form 'mayest' is clearly used by deliberate preference, for the line originally stood thus in the draft :
And I have told thee all that thou canst hear.

(line 298): Remember'd from its velvet summer song : The gentleness of summer wind seems to have been a cherished idea with Keats. Compare with Sleep And Poetry, line 1 --
'What is more gentle than a wind in summer?'

(line 585): This was originally a short line consisting of the words "Thine illuminings" alone. The whole stanza, ... was sent by Keats to his friend Baily for his "vote, pro or con," in a letter dated the 22nd of November 1817.

(line 668): An imagination in which Hunt would have found it difficult to discover the reality; but probably Keats had never seen the miserable platform of dry twigs that serves for "a dove's nest among summer trees."

(line 672): Endymion's imaginary home and employments as pictured in the next fifty lines may be compared with Shelley's AEgean island described so wonderfully in Epipsychidion. Both passages are thoroughly characteristic; and they show the divergence between the modes of thought and sentiment of the two men in a very marked way.

(line 885-86): A curious importation from Hebrew theology into a subject from Greek mythology. Compare St. Matthew, X, 29: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." Or, as made familiar to our childhood by the popular hymn-wright,---
'A little sparrow cannot fall,
Unnoticed, Lord, by Thee.'

In the finished manuscript the word "kist" occurs twice instead of "kiss'd" as in the first edition; but "bless'd" is not similarly transformed to "blest."

At the end of the draft Keats wrote "Burford Bridge Nov. 28, 1817--".

The imprint of Endymion is as follows:-- T. Miller, Printer, Noble Street, Cheapside. by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes
~ John Keats, Endymion - Book IV

132:The Ghost - Book Iv
Coxcombs, who vainly make pretence
To something of exalted sense
'Bove other men, and, gravely wise,
Affect those pleasures to despise,
Which, merely to the eye confined,
Bring no improvement to the mind,
Rail at all pomp; they would not go
For millions to a puppet-show,
Nor can forgive the mighty crime
Of countenancing pantomime;
No, not at Covent Garden, where,
Without a head for play or player,
Or, could a head be found most fit,
Without one player to second it,
They must, obeying Folly's call,
Thrive by mere show, or not at all
With these grave fops, who, (bless their brains!)
Most cruel to themselves, take pains
For wretchedness, and would be thought
Much wiser than a wise man ought,
For his own happiness, to be;
Who what they hear, and what they see,
And what they smell, and taste, and feel,
Distrust, till Reason sets her seal,
And, by long trains of consequences
Insured, gives sanction to the senses;
Who would not (Heaven forbid it!) waste
One hour in what the world calls Taste,
Nor fondly deign to laugh or cry,
Unless they know some reason why;
With these grave fops, whose system seems
To give up certainty for dreams,
The eye of man is understood
As for no other purpose good
Than as a door, through which, of course,
Their passage crowding, objects force,
A downright usher, to admit
New-comers to the court of Wit:
(Good Gravity! forbear thy spleen;
190
When I say Wit, I Wisdom mean)
Where (such the practice of the court,
Which legal precedents support)
Not one idea is allow'd
To pass unquestion'd in the crowd,
But ere it can obtain the grace
Of holding in the brain a place,
Before the chief in congregation
Must stand a strict examination.
Not such as those, who physic twirl,
Full fraught with death, from every curl;
Who prove, with all becoming state,
Their voice to be the voice of Fate;
Prepared with essence, drop, and pill,
To be another Ward or Hill,
Before they can obtain their ends,
To sign death-warrants for their friends,
And talents vast as theirs employ,
_Secundum artem_ to destroy,
Must pass (or laws their rage restrain)
Before the chiefs of Warwick Lane:
Thrice happy Lane! where, uncontroll'd,
In power and lethargy grown old,
Most fit to take, in this bless'd land,
The reins--which fell from Wyndham's hand,
Her lawful throne great Dulness rears,
Still more herself, as more in years;
Where she, (and who shall dare deny
Her right, when Reeves and Chauncy's by?)
Calling to mind, in ancient time,
One Garth, who err'd in wit and rhyme,
Ordains, from henceforth, to admit
None of the rebel sons of Wit,
And makes it her peculiar care
That Schomberg never shall be there.
Not such as those, whom Polly trains
To letters, though unbless'd with brains,
Who, destitute of power and will
To learn, are kept to learning still;
Whose heads, when other methods fail,
Receive instruction from the tail,
Because their sires,--a common case
191
Which brings the children to disgrace,-Imagine it a certain rule
They never could beget a fool,
Must pass, or must compound for, ere
The chaplain, full of beef and prayer,
Will give his reverend permit,
Announcing them for orders fit;
So that the prelate (what's a name?
All prelates now are much the same)
May, with a conscience safe and quiet,
With holy hands lay on that fiat
Which doth all faculties dispense,
All sanctity, all faith, all sense;
Makes Madan quite a saint appear,
And makes an oracle of Cheere.
Not such as in that solemn seat,
Where the Nine Ladies hold retreat,-The Ladies Nine, who, as we're told,
Scorning those haunts they loved of old,
The banks of Isis now prefer,
Nor will one hour from Oxford stir,-Are held for form, which Balaam's ass
As well as Balaam's self might pass,
And with his master take degrees,
Could he contrive to pay the fees.
Men of sound parts, who, deeply read,
O'erload the storehouse of the head
With furniture they ne'er can use,
Cannot forgive our rambling Muse
This wild excursion; cannot see
Why Physic and Divinity,
To the surprise of all beholders,
Are lugg'd in by the head and shoulders;
Or how, in any point of view,
Oxford hath any thing to do.
But men of nice and subtle learning,
Remarkable for quick discerning,
Through spectacles of critic mould,
Without instruction, will behold
That we a method here have got
To show what is, by what is not;
And that our drift (parenthesis
192
For once apart) is briefly this:
Within the brain's most secret cells
A certain Lord Chief-Justice dwells,
Of sovereign power, whom, one and all,
With common voice, we Reason call;
Though, for the purposes of satire,
A name, in truth, is no great matter;
Jefferies or Mansfield, which you will-It means a Lord Chief-Justice still.
Here, so our great projectors say,
The Senses all must homage pay;
Hither they all must tribute bring,
And prostrate fall before their king;
Whatever unto them is brought,
Is carried on the wings of Thought
Before his throne, where, in full state,
He on their merits holds debate,
Examines, cross-examines, weighs
Their right to censure or to praise:
Nor doth his equal voice depend
On narrow views of foe and friend,
Nor can, or flattery, or force
Divert him from his steady course;
The channel of Inquiry's clear,
No sham examination's here.
He, upright justicer, no doubt,
_Ad libitum_ puts in and out,
Adjusts and settles in a trice
What virtue is, and what is vice;
What is perfection, what defect;
What we must choose, and what reject;
He takes upon him to explain
What pleasure is, and what is pain;
Whilst we, obedient to the whim,
And resting all our faith on him,
True members of the Stoic Weal,
Must learn to think, and cease to feel.
This glorious system, form'd for man
To practise when and how he can,
If the five Senses, in alliance,
To Reason hurl a proud defiance,
And, though oft conquer'd, yet unbroke,
193
Endeavour to throw off that yoke,
Which they a greater slavery hold
Than Jewish bondage was of old;
Or if they, something touch'd with shame,
Allow him to retain the name
Of Royalty, and, as in sport,
To hold a mimic formal court;
Permitted--no uncommon thing-To be a kind of puppet king,
And suffer'd, by the way of toy,
To hold a globe, but not employ;
Our system-mongers, struck with fear,
Prognosticate destruction near;
All things to anarchy must run;
The little world of man's undone.
Nay, should the Eye, that nicest sense,
Neglect to send intelligence
Unto the Brain, distinct and clear,
Of all that passes in her sphere;
Should she, presumptuous, joy receive
Without the Understanding's leave,
They deem it rank and daring treason
Against the monarchy of Reason,
Not thinking, though they're wondrous wise,
That few have reason, most have eyes;
So that the pleasures of the mind
To a small circle are confined,
Whilst those which to the senses fall
Become the property of all.
Besides, (and this is sure a case
Not much at present out of place)
Where Nature reason doth deny,
No art can that defect supply;
But if (for it is our intent
Fairly to state the argument)
A man should want an eye or two,
The remedy is sure, though new:
The cure's at hand--no need of fear-For proof--behold the Chevalier!-As well prepared, beyond all doubt,
To put eyes in, as put them out.
But, argument apart, which tends
194
To embitter foes and separate friends,
(Nor, turn'd apostate from the Nine,
Would I, though bred up a divine,
And foe, of course, to Reason's Weal,
Widen that breach I cannot heal)
By his own sense and feelings taught,
In speech as liberal as in thought,
Let every man enjoy his whim;
What's he to me, or I to him?
Might I, though never robed in ermine,
A matter of this weight determine,
No penalties should settled be
To force men to hypocrisy,
To make them ape an awkward zeal,
And, feeling not, pretend to feel.
I would not have, might sentence rest
Finally fix'd within my breast,
E'en Annet censured and confined,
Because we're of a different mind.
Nature, who, in her act most free,
Herself delights in liberty,
Profuse in love, and without bound,
Pours joy on every creature round;
Whom yet, was every bounty shed
In double portions on our head,
We could not truly bounteous call,
If Freedom did not crown them all.
By Providence forbid to stray,
Brutes never can mistake their way;
Determined still, they plod along
By instinct, neither right nor wrong;
But man, had he the heart to use
His freedom, hath a right to choose;
Whether he acts, or well, or ill,
Depends entirely on his will.
To her last work, her favourite Man,
Is given, on Nature's better plan,
A privilege in power to err.
Nor let this phrase resentment stir
Amongst the grave ones, since indeed
The little merit man can plead
In doing well, dependeth still
195
Upon his power of doing ill.
Opinions should be free as air;
No man, whate'er his rank, whate'er
His qualities, a claim can found
That my opinion must be bound,
And square with his; such slavish chains
From foes the liberal soul disdains;
Nor can, though true to friendship, bend
To wear them even from a friend.
Let those, who rigid judgment own,
Submissive bow at Judgment's throne,
And if they of no value hold
Pleasure, till pleasure is grown cold,
Pall'd and insipid, forced to wait
For Judgment's regular debate
To give it warrant, let them find
Dull subjects suited to their mind.
Theirs be slow wisdom; be my plan,
To live as merry as I can,
Regardless, as the fashions go,
Whether there's reason for't or no:
Be my employment here on earth
To give a liberal scope to mirth,
Life's barren vale with flowers to adorn,
And pluck a rose from every thorn.
But if, by Error led astray,
I chance to wander from my way,
Let no blind guide observe, in spite,
I'm wrong, who cannot set me right.
That doctor could I ne'er endure
Who found disease, and not a cure;
Nor can I hold that man a friend
Whose zeal a helping hand shall lend
To open happy Folly's eyes,
And, making wretched, make me wise:
For next (a truth which can't admit
Reproof from Wisdom or from Wit)
To being happy here below,
Is to believe that we are so.
Some few in knowledge find relief;
I place my comfort in belief.
Some for reality may call;
196
Fancy to me is all in all.
Imagination, through the trick
Of doctors, often makes us sick;
And why, let any sophist tell,
May it not likewise make us well?
This I am sure, whate'er our view,
Whatever shadows we pursue,
For our pursuits, be what they will,
Are little more than shadows still;
Too swift they fly, too swift and strong,
For man to catch or hold them long;
But joys which in the fancy live,
Each moment to each man may give:
True to himself, and true to ease,
He softens Fate's severe decrees,
And (can a mortal wish for more?)
Creates, and makes himself new o'er,
Mocks boasted vain reality,
And is, whate'er he wants to be.
Hail, Fancy!--to thy power I owe
Deliverance from the gripe of Woe;
To thee I owe a mighty debt,
Which Gratitude shall ne'er forget,
Whilst Memory can her force employ,
A large increase of every joy.
When at my doors, too strongly barr'd,
Authority had placed a guard,
A knavish guard, ordain'd by law
To keep poor Honesty in awe;
Authority, severe and stern,
To intercept my wish'd return;
When foes grew proud, and friends grew cool,
And laughter seized each sober fool;
When Candour started in amaze,
And, meaning censure, hinted praise;
When Prudence, lifting up her eyes
And hands, thank'd Heaven that she was wise;
When all around me, with an air
Of hopeless sorrow, look'd despair;
When they, or said, or seem'd to say,
There is but one, one only way
Better, and be advised by us,
197
Not be at all, than to be thus;
When Virtue shunn'd the shock, and Pride,
Disabled, lay by Virtue's side,
Too weak my ruffled soul to cheer,
Which could not hope, yet would not fear;
Health in her motion, the wild grace
Of pleasure speaking in her face,
Dull regularity thrown by,
And comfort beaming from her eye,
Fancy, in richest robes array'd,
Came smiling forth, and brought me aid;
Came smiling o'er that dreadful time,
And, more to bless me, came in rhyme.
Nor is her power to me confined;
It spreads, it comprehends mankind.
When (to the spirit-stirring sound
Of trumpets breathing courage round,
And fifes well-mingled, to restrain
And bring that courage down again;
Or to the melancholy knell
Of the dull, deep, and doleful bell,
Such as of late the good Saint Bride
Muffled, to mortify the pride
Of those who, England quite forgot,
Paid their vile homage to the Scot;
Where Asgill held the foremost place,
Whilst my lord figured at a race)
Processions ('tis not worth debate
Whether they are of stage or state)
Move on, so very, very slow,
Tis doubtful if they move, or no;
When the performers all the while
Mechanically frown or smile,
Or, with a dull and stupid stare,
A vacancy of sense declare,
Or, with down-bending eye, seem wrought
Into a labyrinth of thought,
Where Reason wanders still in doubt,
And, once got in, cannot get out;
What cause sufficient can we find,
To satisfy a thinking mind,
Why, duped by such vain farces, man
198
Descends to act on such a plan?
Why they, who hold themselves divine,
Can in such wretched follies join,
Strutting like peacocks, or like crows,
Themselves and Nature to expose?
What cause, but that (you'll understand
We have our remedy at hand,
That if perchance we start a doubt,
Ere it is fix'd, we wipe it out;
As surgeons, when they lop a limb,
Whether for profit, fame, or whim,
Or mere experiment to try,
Must always have a styptic by)
Fancy steps in, and stamps that real,
Which, _ipso facto_, is ideal.
Can none remember?--yes, I know,
All must remember that rare show
When to the country Sense went down,
And fools came flocking up to town;
When knights (a work which all admit
To be for knighthood much unfit)
Built booths for hire; when parsons play'd,
In robes canonical array'd,
And, fiddling, join'd the Smithfield dance,
The price of tickets to advance:
Or, unto tapsters turn'd, dealt out,
Running from booth to booth about,
To every scoundrel, by retail,
True pennyworths of beef and ale,
Then first prepared, by bringing beer in,
For present grand electioneering;
When heralds, running all about
To bring in Order, turn'd it out;
When, by the prudent Marshal's care,
Lest the rude populace should stare,
And with unhallow'd eyes profane
Gay puppets of Patrician strain,
The whole procession, as in spite,
Unheard, unseen, stole off by night;
When our loved monarch, nothing both,
Solemnly took that sacred oath,
Whence mutual firm agreements spring
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Betwixt the subject and the king,
By which, in usual manner crown'd,
His head, his heart, his hands, he bound,
Against himself, should passion stir
The least propensity to err,
Against all slaves, who might prepare,
Or open force, or hidden snare,
That glorious Charter to maintain,
By which we serve, and he must reign;
Then Fancy, with unbounded sway,
Revell'd sole mistress of the day,
And wrought such wonders, as might make
Egyptian sorcerers forsake
Their baffled mockeries, and own
The palm of magic hers alone.
A knight, (who, in the silken lap
Of lazy Peace, had lived on pap;
Who never yet had dared to roam
'Bove ten or twenty miles from home,
Nor even that, unless a guide
Was placed to amble by his side,
And troops of slaves were spread around
To keep his Honour safe and sound;
Who could not suffer, for his life,
A point to sword, or edge to knife;
And always fainted at the sight
Of blood, though 'twas not shed in fight;
Who disinherited one son
For firing off an alder gun,
And whipt another, six years old,
Because the boy, presumptuous, bold
To madness, likely to become
A very Swiss, had beat a drum,
Though it appear'd an instrument
Most peaceable and innocent,
Having, from first, been in the hands
And service of the City bands)
Graced with those ensigns, which were meant
To further Honour's dread intent,
The minds of warriors to inflame,
And spur them on to deeds of fame;
With little sword, large spurs, high feather,
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Fearless of every thing but weather,
(And all must own, who pay regard
To charity, it had been hard
That in his very first campaign
His honours should be soil'd with rain)
A hero all at once became,
And (seeing others much the same
In point of valour as himself,
Who leave their courage on a shelf
From year to year, till some such rout
In proper season calls it out)
Strutted, look'd big, and swagger'd more
Than ever hero did before;
Look'd up, look'd down, look'd all around,
Like Mavors, grimly smiled and frown'd;
Seem'd Heaven, and Earth, and Hell to call
To fight, that he might rout them all,
And personated Valour's style
So long, spectators to beguile,
That, passing strange, and wondrous true,
Himself at last believed it too;
Nor for a time could he discern,
Till Truth and Darkness took their turn,
So well did Fancy play her part,
That coward still was at the heart.
Whiffle (who knows not Whiffle's name,
By the impartial voice of Fame
Recorded first through all this land
In Vanity's illustrious band?)
Who, by all-bounteous Nature meant
For offices of hardiment,
A modern Hercules at least,
To rid the world of each wild beast,
Of each wild beast which came in view,
Whether on four legs or on two,
Degenerate, delights to prove
His force on the parade of Love,
Disclaims the joys which camps afford,
And for the distaff quits the sword;
Who fond of women would appear
To public eye and public ear,
But, when in private, lets them know
201
How little they can trust to show;
Who sports a woman, as of course,
Just as a jockey shows a horse,
And then returns her to the stable,
Or vainly plants her at his table,
Where he would rather Venus find
(So pall'd, and so depraved his mind)
Than, by some great occasion led,
To seize her panting in her bed,
Burning with more than mortal fires,
And melting in her own desires;
Who, ripe in years, is yet a child,
Through fashion, not through feeling, wild;
Whate'er in others, who proceed
As Sense and Nature have decreed,
From real passion flows, in him
Is mere effect of mode and whim;
Who laughs, a very common way,
Because he nothing has to say,
As your choice spirits oaths dispense
To fill up vacancies of sense;
Who, having some small sense, defies it,
Or, using, always misapplies it;
Who now and then brings something forth
Which seems indeed of sterling worth;
Something, by sudden start and fit,
Which at a distance looks like wit,
But, on examination near,
To his confusion will appear,
By Truth's fair glass, to be at best
A threadbare jester's threadbare jest;
Who frisks and dances through the street,
Sings without voice, rides without seat,
Plays o'er his tricks, like Aesop's ass,
A gratis fool to all who pass;
Who riots, though he loves not waste,
Whores without lust, drinks without taste,
Acts without sense, talks without thought,
Does every thing but what he ought;
Who, led by forms, without the power
Of vice, is vicious; who one hour,
Proud without pride, the next will be
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Humble without humility:
Whose vanity we all discern,
The spring on which his actions turn;
Whose aim in erring, is to err,
So that he may be singular,
And all his utmost wishes mean
Is, though he's laugh'd at, to be seen:
Such, (for when Flattery's soothing strain
Had robb'd the Muse of her disdain,
And found a method to persuade
Her art to soften every shade,
Justice, enraged, the pencil snatch'd
From her degenerate hand, and scratch'd
Out every trace; then, quick as thought,
From life this striking likeness caught)
In mind, in manners, and in mien,
Such Whiffle came, and such was seen
In the world's eye; but (strange to tell!)
Misled by Fancy's magic spell,
Deceived, not dreaming of deceit,
Cheated, but happy in the cheat,
Was more than human in his own.
Oh, bow, bow all at Fancy's throne,
Whose power could make so vile an elf
With patience bear that thing, himself.
But, mistress of each art to please,
Creative Fancy, what are these,
These pageants of a trifler's pen,
To what thy power effected then?
Familiar with the human mind,
And swift and subtle as the wind,
Which we all feel, yet no one knows,
Or whence it comes, or where it goes,
Fancy at once in every part
Possess'd the eye, the head, the heart,
And in a thousand forms array'd,
A thousand various gambols play'd.
Here, in a face which well might ask
The privilege to wear a mask
In spite of law, and Justice teach
For public good to excuse the breach,
Within the furrow of a wrinkle
203
'Twixt eyes, which could not shine but twinkle,
Like sentinels i' th' starry way,
Who wait for the return of day,
Almost burnt out, and seem to keep
Their watch, like soldiers, in their sleep;
Or like those lamps, which, by the power
Of law, must burn from hour to hour,
(Else they, without redemption, fall
Under the terrors of that Hall,
Which, once notorious for a hop,
Is now become a justice shop)
Which are so managed, to go out
Just when the time comes round about,
Which yet, through emulation, strive
To keep their dying light alive,
And (not uncommon, as we find,
Amongst the children of mankind)
As they grow weaker, would seem stronger,
And burn a little, little longer:
Fancy, betwixt such eyes enshrined,
No brush to daub, no mill to grind,
Thrice waved her wand around, whose force
Changed in an instant Nature's course,
And, hardly credible in rhyme,
Not only stopp'd, but call'd back Time;
The face of every wrinkle clear'd,
Smooth as the floating stream appear'd,
Down the neck ringlets spread their flame,
The neck admiring whence they came;
On the arch'd brow the Graces play'd;
On the full bosom Cupid laid;
Suns, from their proper orbits sent,
Became for eyes a supplement;
Teeth, white as ever teeth were seen,
Deliver'd from the hand of Green,
Started, in regular array,
Like train-bands on a grand field day,
Into the gums, which would have fled,
But, wondering, turn'd from white to red;
Quite alter'd was the whole machine,
And Lady ---- ---- was fifteen.
Here she made lordly temples rise

204
Before the pious Dashwood's eyes,
Temples which, built aloft in air,
May serve for show, if not for prayer;
In solemn form herself, before,
Array'd like Faith, the Bible bore.
There over Melcombe's feather'd head-Who, quite a man of gingerbread,
Savour'd in talk, in dress, and phiz,
More of another world than this,
To a dwarf Muse a giant page,
The last grave fop of the last age-In a superb and feather'd hearse,
Bescutcheon'd and betagg'd with verse,
Which, to beholders from afar,
Appear'd like a triumphal car,
She rode, in a cast rainbow clad;
There, throwing off the hallow'd plaid,
Naked, as when (in those drear cells
Where, self-bless'd, self-cursed, Madness dwells)
Pleasure, on whom, in Laughter's shape,
Frenzy had perfected a rape,
First brought her forth, before her time,
Wild witness of her shame and crime,
Driving before an idol band
Of drivelling Stuarts, hand in hand;
Some who, to curse mankind, had wore
A crown they ne'er must think of more;
Others, whose baby brows were graced
With paper crowns, and toys of paste,
She jigg'd, and, playing on the flute,
Spread raptures o'er the soul of Bute.
Big with vast hopes, some mighty plan,
Which wrought the busy soul of man
To her full bent; the Civil Law,
Fit code to keep a world in awe,
Bound o'er his brows, fair to behold,
As Jewish frontlets were of old;
The famous Charter of our land
Defaced, and mangled in his hand;
As one whom deepest thoughts employ,
But deepest thoughts of truest joy,
Serious and slow he strode, he stalk'd;
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Before him troops of heroes walk'd,
Whom best he loved, of heroes crown'd,
By Tories guarded all around;
Dull solemn pleasure in his face,
He saw the honours of his race,
He saw their lineal glories rise,
And touch'd, or seem'd to touch, the skies:
Not the most distant mark of fear,
No sign of axe or scaffold near,
Not one cursed thought to cross his will
Of such a place as Tower Hill.
Curse on this Muse, a flippant jade,
A shrew, like every other maid
Who turns the corner of nineteen,
Devour'd with peevishness and spleen;
Her tongue (for as, when bound for life,
The husband suffers for the wife,
So if in any works of rhyme
Perchance there blunders out a crime,
Poor culprit bards must always rue it,
Although 'tis plain the Muses do it)
Sooner or later cannot fail
To send me headlong to a jail.
Whate'er my theme, (our themes we choose,
In modern days, without a Muse;
Just as a father will provide
To join a bridegroom and a bride,
As if, though they must be the players,
The game was wholly his, not theirs)
Whate'er my theme, the Muse, who still
Owns no direction but her will,
Plies off, and ere I could expect,
By ways oblique and indirect,
At once quite over head and ears
In fatal politics appears.
Time was, and, if I aught discern
Of fate, that time shall soon return,
When, decent and demure at least,
As grave and dull as any priest,
I could see Vice in robes array'd,
Could see the game of Folly play'd
Successfully in Fortune's school,
206
Without exclaiming rogue or fool.
Time was, when, nothing both or proud,
I lackey'd with the fawning crowd,
Scoundrels in office, and would bow
To cyphers great in place; but now
Upright I stand, as if wise Fate,
To compliment a shatter'd state,
Had me, like Atlas, hither sent
To shoulder up the firmament,
And if I stoop'd, with general crack,
The heavens would tumble from my back.
Time was, when rank and situation
Secured the great ones of the nation
From all control; satire and law
Kept only little knaves in awe;
But now, Decorum lost, I stand
Bemused, a pencil in my hand,
And, dead to every sense of shame,
Careless of safety and of fame,
The names of scoundrels minute down,
And libel more than half the town.
How can a statesman be secure
In all his villanies, if poor
And dirty authors thus shall dare
To lay his rotten bosom bare?
Muses should pass away their time
In dressing out the poet's rhyme
With bills, and ribands, and array
Each line in harmless taste, though gay;
When the hot burning fit is on,
They should regale their restless son
With something to allay his rage,
Some cool Castalian beverage,
Or some such draught (though they, 'tis plain,
Taking the Muse's name in vain,
Know nothing of their real court,
And only fable from report)
As makes a Whitehead's Ode go down,
Or slakes the Feverette of Brown:
But who would in his senses think,
Of Muses giving gall to drink,
Or that their folly should afford
207
To raving poets gun or sword?
Poets were ne'er designed by Fate
To meddle with affairs of state,
Nor should (if we may speak our thought
Truly as men of honour ought)
Sound policy their rage admit,
To launch the thunderbolts of Wit
About those heads, which, when they're shot,
Can't tell if 'twas by Wit or not.
These things well known, what devil, in spite,
Can have seduced me thus to write
Out of that road, which must have led
To riches, without heart or head,
Into that road, which, had I more
Than ever poet had before
Of wit and virtue, in disgrace
Would keep me still, and out of place;
Which, if some judge (you'll understand
One famous, famous through the land
For making law) should stand my friend,
At last may in a pillory end;
And all this, I myself admit,
Without one cause to lead to it?
For instance, now--this book--the Ghost-Methinks I hear some critic Post
Remark most gravely--'The first word
Which we about the Ghost have heard.'
Peace, my good sir!--not quite so fast-What is the first, may be the last,
Which is a point, all must agree,
Cannot depend on you or me.
Fanny, no ghost of common mould,
Is not by forms to be controll'd;
To keep her state, and show her skill,
She never comes but when she will.
I wrote and wrote, (perhaps you doubt,
And shrewdly, what I wrote about;
Believe me, much to my disgrace,
I, too, am in the self-same case
But still I wrote, till Fanny came
Impatient, nor could any shame
On me with equal justice fall
208
If she had never come at all.
An underling, I could not stir
Without the cue thrown out by her,
Nor from the subject aid receive
Until she came and gave me leave.
So that, (ye sons of Erudition
Mark, this is but a supposition,
Nor would I to so wise a nation
Suggest it as a revelation)
If henceforth, dully turning o'er
Page after page, ye read no more
Of Fanny, who, in sea or air,
May be departed God knows where,
Rail at jilt Fortune; but agree
No censure can be laid on me;
For sure (the cause let Mansfield try)
Fanny is in the fault, not I.
But, to return--and this I hold
A secret worth its weight in gold
To those who write, as I write now,
Not to mind where they go, or how,
Through ditch, through bog, o'er hedge and stile,
Make it but worth the reader's while,
And keep a passage fair and plain
Always to bring him back again.
Through dirt, who scruples to approach,
At Pleasure's call, to take a coach?
But we should think the man a clown,
Who in the dirt should set us down.
But to return--if Wit, who ne'er
The shackles of restraint could bear,
In wayward humour should refuse
Her timely succour to the Muse,
And, to no rules and orders tied,
Roughly deny to be her guide,
She must renounce Decorum's plan,
And get back when, and how she can;
As parsons, who, without pretext,
As soon as mention'd, quit their text,
And, to promote sleep's genial power,
Grope in the dark for half an hour,
Give no more reason (for we know
209
Reason is vulgar, mean, and low)
Why they come back (should it befall
That ever they come back at all)
Into the road, to end their rout,
Than they can give why they went out.
But to return--this book--the Ghost-A mere amusement at the most;
A trifle, fit to wear away
The horrors of a rainy day;
A slight shot-silk, for summer wear,
Just as our modern statesmen are,
If rigid honesty permit
That I for once purloin the wit
Of him, who, were we all to steal,
Is much too rich the theft to feel:
Yet in this book, where Base should join
With Mirth to sugar every line;
Where it should all be mere chit-chat,
Lively, good-humour'd, and all that;
Where honest Satire, in disgrace,
Should not so much as show her face,
The shrew, o'erleaping all due bounds,
Breaks into Laughter's sacred grounds,
And, in contempt, plays o'er her tricks
In science, trade, and politics.
By why should the distemper'd scold
Attempt to blacken men enroll'd
In Power's dread book, whose mighty skill
Can twist an empire to their will;
Whose voice is fate, and on their tongue
Law, liberty, and life are hung;
Whom, on inquiry, Truth shall find
With Stuarts link'd, time out of mind,
Superior to their country's laws,
Defenders of a tyrant's cause;
Men, who the same damn'd maxims hold
Darkly, which they avow'd of old;
Who, though by different means, pursue
The end which they had first in view,
And, force found vain, now play their part
With much less honour, much more art?
Why, at the corners of the streets,
210
To every patriot drudge she meets,
Known or unknown, with furious cry
Should she wild clamours vent? or why,
The minds of groundlings to inflame,
A Dashwood, Bute, and Wyndham name?
Why, having not, to our surprise,
The fear of death before her eyes,
Bearing, and that but now and then,
No other weapon but her pen,
Should she an argument afford
For blood to men who wear a sword?
Men, who can nicely trim and pare
A point of honour to a hair-(Honour!--a word of nice import,
A pretty trinket in a court,
Which my lord, quite in rapture, feels
Dangling and rattling with his seals-Honour!--a word which all the Nine
Would be much puzzled to define-Honour!--a word which torture mocks,
And might confound a thousand Lockes-Which--for I leave to wiser heads,
Who fields of death prefer to beds
Of down, to find out, if they can,
What honour is, on their wild plan-Is not, to take it in their way,
And this we sure may dare to say
Without incurring an offence,
Courage, law, honesty, or sense):
Men, who, all spirit, life, and soul
Neat butchers of a button-hole,
Having more skill, believe it true
That they must have more courage too:
Men who, without a place or name,
Their fortunes speechless as their fame,
Would by the sword new fortunes carve,
And rather die in fight than starve
At coronations, a vast field,
Which food of every kind might yield;
Of good sound food, at once most fit
For purposes of health and wit,
Could not ambitious Satire rest,
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Content with what she might digest?
Could she not feast on things of course,
A champion, or a champion's horse?
A champion's horse--no, better say,
Though better figured on that day,
A horse, which might appear to us,
Who deal in rhyme, a Pegasus;
A rider, who, when once got on,
Might pass for a Bellerophon,
Dropt on a sudden from the skies,
To catch and fix our wondering eyes,
To witch, with wand instead of whip,
The world with noble horsemanship,
To twist and twine, both horse and man,
On such a well-concerted plan,
That, Centaur-like, when all was done,
We scarce could think they were not one?
Could she not to our itching ears
Bring the new names of new-coin'd peers,
Who walk'd, nobility forgot,
With shoulders fitter for a knot
Than robes of honour; for whose sake
Heralds in form were forced to make,
To make, because they could not find,
Great predecessors to their mind?
Could she not (though 'tis doubtful since
Whether he plumber is, or prince)
Tell of a simple knight's advance
To be a doughty peer of France?
Tell how he did a dukedom gain,
And Robinson was Aquitain?
Tell how her city chiefs, disgraced,
Were at an empty table placed,-A gross neglect, which, whilst they live,
They can't forget, and won't forgive;
A gross neglect of all those rights
Which march with city appetites,
Of all those canons, which we find
By Gluttony, time out of mind,
Established, which they ever hold
Dearer than any thing but gold?
Thanks to my stars--I now see shore--
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Of courtiers, and of courts no more-Thus stumbling on my city friends,
Blind Chance my guide, my purpose bends
In line direct, and shall pursue
The point which I had first in view,
Nor more shall with the reader sport
Till I have seen him safe in port.
Hush'd be each fear--no more I bear
Through the wide regions of the air
The reader terrified, no more
Wild ocean's horrid paths explore.
Be the plain track from henceforth mine-Cross roads to Allen I resign;
Allen, the honor of this nation;
Allen, himself a corporation;
Allen, of late notorious grown
For writings, none, or all, his own;
Allen, the first of letter'd men,
Since the good Bishop holds his pen,
And at his elbow takes his stand,
To mend his head, and guide his hand.
But hold--once more, Digression hence-Let us return to Common Sense;
The car of Phoebus I discharge,
My carriage now a Lord Mayor's barge.
Suppose we now--we may suppose
In verse, what would be sin in prose-The sky with darkness overspread,
And every star retired to bed;
The gewgaw robes of Pomp and Pride
In some dark corner thrown aside;
Great lords and ladies giving way
To what they seem to scorn by day,
The real feelings of the heart,
And Nature taking place of Art;
Desire triumphant through the night,
And Beauty panting with delight;
Chastity, woman's fairest crown,
Till the return of morn laid down.
Then to be worn again as bright
As if not sullied in the night;
Dull Ceremony, business o'er,
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Dreaming in form at Cottrell's door;
Precaution trudging all about
To see the candles safely out,
Bearing a mighty master-key,
Habited like Economy,
Stamping each lock with triple seals;
Mean Avarice creeping at her heels.
Suppose we too, like sheep in pen,
The Mayor and Court of Aldermen
Within their barge, which through the deep,
The rowers more than half asleep,
Moved slow, as overcharged with state;
Thames groan'd beneath the mighty weight,
And felt that bauble heavier far
Than a whole fleet of men of war.
Sleep o'er each well-known faithful head
With liberal hand his poppies shed;
Each head, by Dulness render'd fit
Sleep and his empire to admit.
Through the whole passage not a word,
Not one faint, weak half-sound was heard;
Sleep had prevail'd to overwhelm
The steersman nodding o'er the helm;
The rowers, without force or skill,
Left the dull barge to drive at will;
The sluggish oars suspended hung,
And even Beardmore held his tongue.
Commerce, regardful of a freight
On which depended half her state,
Stepp'd to the helm; with ready hand
She safely clear'd that bank of sand,
Where, stranded, our west-country fleet
Delay and danger often meet,
Till Neptune, anxious for the trade,
Comes in full tides, and brings them aid.
Next (for the Muses can survey
Objects by night as well as day;
Nothing prevents their taking aim,
Darkness and light to them the same)
They pass'd that building which of old
Queen-mothers was design'd to hold;
At present a mere lodging-pen,
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A palace turn'd into a den;
To barracks turn'd, and soldiers tread
Where dowagers have laid their head.
Why should we mention Surrey Street,
Where every week grave judges meet
All fitted out with hum and ha,
In proper form to drawl out law,
To see all causes duly tried
'Twixt knaves who drive, and fools who ride?
Why at the Temple should we stay?
What of the Temple dare we say?
A dangerous ground we tread on there,
And words perhaps may actions bear;
Where, as the brethren of the seas
For fares, the lawyers ply for fees.
What of that Bridge, most wisely made
To serve the purposes of trade,
In the great mart of all this nation,
By stopping up the navigation,
And to that sand bank adding weight,
Which is already much too great?
What of that Bridge, which, void of sense
But well supplied with impudence,
Englishmen, knowing not the Guild,
Thought they might have a claim to build,
Till Paterson, as white as milk,
As smooth as oil, as soft as silk,
In solemn manner had decreed
That on the other side the Tweed
Art, born and bred, and fully grown,
Was with one Mylne, a man unknown,
But grace, preferment, and renown
Deserving, just arrived in town:
One Mylne, an artist perfect quite
Both in his own and country's right,
As fit to make a bridge as he,
With glorious Patavinity,
To build inscriptions worthy found
To lie for ever under ground.
Much more worth observation too,
Was this a season to pursue
The theme, our Muse might tell in rhyme:
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The will she hath, but not the time;
For, swift as shaft from Indian bow,
(And when a goddess comes, we know,
Surpassing Nature acts prevail.
And boats want neither oar nor sail)
The vessel pass'd, and reach'd the shore
So quick, that Thought was scarce before.
Suppose we now our City court
Safely delivered at the port.
And, of their state regardless quite,
Landed, like smuggled goods, by night,
The solemn magistrate laid down,
The dignity of robe and gown,
With every other ensign gone,
Suppose the woollen nightcap on;
The flesh-brush used, with decent state,
To make the spirits circulate,
(A form which, to the senses true,
The lickerish chaplain uses too,
Though, something to improve the plan,
He takes the maid instead of man)
Swathed, and with flannel cover'd o'er,
To show the vigour of threescore,
The vigour of threescore and ten,
Above the proof of younger men,
Suppose, the mighty Dulman led
Betwixt two slaves, and put to bed;
Suppose, the moment he lies down,
No miracle in this great town,
The drone as fast asleep as he
Must in the course of nature be,
Who, truth for our foundation take,
When up, is never half awake.
There let him sleep, whilst we survey
The preparations for the day;
That day on which was to be shown
Court pride by City pride outdone.
The jealous mother sends away,
As only fit for childish play,
That daughter who, to gall her pride,
Shoots up too forward by her side.
The wretch, of God and man accursed,
216
Of all Hell's instruments the worst,
Draws forth his pawns, and for the day
Struts in some spendthrift's vain array;
Around his awkward doxy shine
The treasures of Golconda's mine;
Each neighbour, with a jealous glare,
Beholds her folly publish'd there.
Garments well saved, (an anecdote
Which we can prove, or would not quote)
Garments well saved, which first were made
When tailors, to promote their trade,
Against the Picts in arms arose,
And drove them out, or made them clothes;
Garments immortal, without end,
Like names and titles, which descend
Successively from sire to son;
Garments, unless some work is done
Of note, not suffer'd to appear
'Bove once at most in every year,
Were now, in solemn form, laid bare,
To take the benefit of air,
And, ere they came to be employ'd
On this solemnity, to void
That scent which Russia's leather gave,
From vile and impious moth to save.
Each head was busy, and each heart
In preparation bore a part;
Running together all about
The servants put each other out,
Till the grave master had decreed,
The more haste ever the worse speed.
Miss, with her little eyes half-closed,
Over a smuggled toilette dosed;
The waiting-maid, whom story notes
A very Scrub in petticoats,
Hired for one work, but doing all,
In slumbers lean'd against the wall.
Milliners, summon'd from afar,
Arrived in shoals at Temple Bar,
Strictly commanded to import
Cart loads of foppery from Court;
With labour'd visible design,
217
Art strove to be superbly fine;
Nature, more pleasing, though more wild,
Taught otherwise her darling child,
And cried, with spirited disdain,
Be Hunter elegant and plain!
Lo! from the chambers of the East,
A welcome prelude to the feast,
In saffron-colour'd robe array'd,
High in a car, by Vulcan made,
Who work'd for Jove himself, each steed,
High-mettled, of celestial breed,
Pawing and pacing all the way,
Aurora brought the wish'd-for day,
And held her empire, till out-run
By that brave jolly groom, the Sun.
The trumpet--hark! it speaks--it swells
The loud full harmony; it tells
The time at hand when Dulman, led
By Form, his citizens must head,
And march those troops, which at his call
Were now assembled, to Guildhall,
On matters of importance great,
To court and city, church and state.
From end to end the sound makes way,
All hear the signal and obey;
But Dulman, who, his charge forgot,
By Morpheus fetter'd, heard it not;
Nor could, so sound he slept and fast,
Hear any trumpet, but the last.
Crape, ever true and trusty known,
Stole from the maid's bed to his own,
Then in the spirituals of pride,
Planted himself at Dulman's side.
Thrice did the ever-faithful slave,
With voice which might have reach'd the grave,
And broke Death's adamantine chain,
On Dulman call, but call'd in vain.
Thrice with an arm, which might have made
The Theban boxer curse his trade,
The drone he shook, who rear'd the head,
And thrice fell backward on his bed.
What could be done? Where force hath fail'd,
218
Policy often hath prevail'd;
And what--an inference most plain-Had been, Crape thought might be again.
Under his pillow (still in mind
The proverb kept, 'fast bind, fast find')
Each blessed night the keys were laid,
Which Crape to draw away assay'd.
What not the power of voice or arm
Could do, this did, and broke the charm;
Quick started he with stupid stare,
For all his little soul was there.
Behold him, taken up, rubb'd down,
In elbow-chair, and morning-gown;
Behold him, in his latter bloom,
Stripp'd, wash'd, and sprinkled with perfume;
Behold him bending with the weight
Of robes, and trumpery of state;
Behold him (for the maxim's true,
Whate'er we by another do,
We do ourselves; and chaplain paid,
Like slaves in every other trade,
Had mutter'd over God knows what,
Something which he by heart had got)
Having, as usual, said his prayers,
Go titter, totter to the stairs:
Behold him for descent prepare,
With one foot trembling in the air;
He starts, he pauses on the brink,
And, hard to credit, seems to think;
Through his whole train (the chaplain gave
The proper cue to every slave)
At once, as with infection caught,
Each started, paused, and aim'd at thought;
He turns, and they turn; big with care,
He waddles to his elbow-chair,
Squats down, and, silent for a season,
At last with Crape begins to reason:
But first of all he made a sign,
That every soul, but the divine,
Should quit the room; in him, he knows,
He may all confidence repose.
'Crape--though I'm yet not quite awake--
219
Before this awful step I take,
On which my future all depends,
I ought to know my foes and friends.
My foes and friends--observe me still-I mean not those who well or ill
Perhaps may wish me, but those who
Have't in their power to do it too.
Now if, attentive to the state,
In too much hurry to be great,
Or through much zeal,--a motive, Crape,
Deserving praise,--into a scrape
I, like a fool, am got, no doubt
I, like a wise man, should get out:
Note that remark without replies;
I say that to get out is wise,
Or, by the very self-same rule,
That to get in was like a fool.
The marrow of this argument
Must wholly rest on the event,
And therefore, which is really hard,
Against events too I must guard.
Should things continue as they stand,
And Bute prevail through all the land
Without a rival, by his aid
My fortunes in a trice are made;
Nay, honours on my zeal may smile,
And stamp me Earl of some great Isle:
But if, a matter of much doubt,
The present minister goes out,
Fain would I know on what pretext
I can stand fairly with the next?
For as my aim, at every hour,
Is to be well with those in power,
And my material point of view,
Whoever's in, to be in too,
I should not, like a blockhead, choose
To gain these, so as those to lose:
'Tis good in every case, you know,
To have two strings unto our bow.'
As one in wonder lost, Crape view'd
His lord, who thus his speech pursued:
'This, my good Crape, is my grand point;
220
And as the times are out of joint,
The greater caution is required
To bring about the point desired.
What I would wish to bring about
Cannot admit a moment's doubt;
The matter in dispute, you know,
Is what we call the _Quomodo_.
That be thy task.'--The reverend slave,
Becoming in a moment grave,
Fix'd to the ground and rooted stood,
Just like a man cut out out of wood,
Such as we see (without the least
Reflection glancing on the priest)
One or more, planted up and down,
Almost in every church in town;
He stood some minutes, then, like one
Who wish'd the matter might be done,
But could not do it, shook his head,
And thus the man of sorrow said:
'Hard is this task, too hard I swear,
By much too hard for me to bear;
Beyond expression hard my part,
Could mighty Dulman see my heart,
When he, alas! makes known a will
Which Crape's not able to fulfil.
Was ever my obedience barr'd
By any trifling nice regard
To sense and honour? Could I reach
Thy meaning without help of speech,
At the first motion of thy eye
Did not thy faithful creature fly?
Have I not said, not what I ought,
But what my earthly master taught?
Did I e'er weigh, through duty strong,
In thy great biddings, right and wrong?
Did ever Interest, to whom thou
Canst not with more devotion bow,
Warp my sound faith, or will of mine
In contradiction run to thine?
Have I not, at thy table placed,
When business call'd aloud for haste,
Torn myself thence, yet never heard
221
To utter one complaining word,
And had, till thy great work was done,
All appetites, as having none?
Hard is it, this great plan pursued
Of voluntary servitude;
Pursued without or shame, or fear,
Through the great circle of the year,
Now to receive, in this grand hour,
Commands which lie beyond my power,
Commands which baffle all my skill,
And leave me nothing but my will:
Be that accepted; let my lord
Indulgence to his slave afford:
This task, for my poor strength unfit,
Will yield to none but Dulman's wit.'
With such gross incense gratified,
And turning up the lip of pride,
'Poor Crape'--and shook his empty head-'Poor puzzled Crape!' wise Dulman said,
'Of judgment weak, of sense confined,
For things of lower note design'd;
For things within the vulgar reach,
To run of errands, and to preach;
Well hast thou judged, that heads like mine
Cannot want help from heads like thine;
Well hast thou judged thyself unmeet
Of such high argument to treat;
Twas but to try thee that I spoke,
And all I said was but a joke.
Nor think a joke, Crape, a disgrace,
Or to my person, or my place;
The wisest of the sons of men
Have deign'd to use them now and then.
The only caution, do you see,
Demanded by our dignity,
From common use and men exempt,
Is that they may not breed contempt.
Great use they have, when in the hands
Of one like me, who understands,
Who understands the time and place,
The person, manner, and the grace,
Which fools neglect; so that we find,
222
If all the requisites are join'd,
From whence a perfect joke must spring,
A joke's a very serious thing.
But to our business--my design,
Which gave so rough a shock to thine,
To my capacity is made
As ready as a fraud in trade;
Which, like broad-cloth, I can, with ease,
Cut out in any shape I please.
Some, in my circumstance, some few,
Aye, and those men of genius too,
Good men, who, without love or hate,
Whether they early rise or late,
With names uncrack'd, and credit sound,
Rise worth a hundred thousand pound,
By threadbare ways and means would try
To bear their point--so will not I.
New methods shall my wisdom find
To suit these matters to my mind;
So that the infidels at court,
Who make our city wits their sport,
Shall hail the honours of my reign,
And own that Dulman bears a brain.
Some, in my place, to gain their ends,
Would give relations up, and friends;
Would lend a wife, who, they might swear
Safely, was none the worse for wear;
Would see a daughter, yet a maid,
Into a statesman's arms betray'd;
Nay, should the girl prove coy, nor know
What daughters to a father owe,
Sooner than schemes so nobly plann'd
Should fail, themselves would lend a hand;
Would vote on one side, whilst a brother,
Properly taught, would vote on t'other;
Would every petty band forget;
To public eye be with one set,
In private with a second herd,
And be by proxy with a third;
Would, (like a queen, of whom I read,
The other day--her name is fled-In a book,--where, together bound,
223
'Whittington and his Cat' I found-A tale most true, and free from art,
Which all Lord Mayors should have by heart;
A queen oh!--might those days begin
Afresh, when queens would learn to spin-Who wrought, and wrought, but for some plot,
The cause of which I've now forgot,
During the absence of the sun
Undid what she by day had done)
Whilst they a double visage wear,
What's sworn by day, by night unswear.
Such be their arts, and such, perchance,
May happily their ends advance;
Prom a new system mine shall spring,
A _locum tenens_ is the thing.
That's your true plan. To obligate
The present ministers of state,
My shadow shall our court approach,
And bear my power, and have my coach;
My fine state-coach, superb to view,
A fine state-coach, and paid for too.
To curry favour, and the grace
Obtain of those who're out of place;
In the mean time I--that's to say,
I proper, I myself--here stay.
But hold--perhaps unto the nation,
Who hate the Scot's administration,
To lend my coach may seem to be
Declaring for the ministry,
For where the city-coach is, there
Is the true essence of the Mayor:
Therefore (for wise men are intent
Evils at distance to prevent,
Whilst fools the evils first endure,
And then are plagued to seek a cure)
No coach--a horse--and free from fear,
To make our Deputy appear,
Fast on his back shall he be tied,
With two grooms marching by his side;
Then for a horse--through all the land,
To head our solemn city-band,
Can any one so fit be found
224
As he who in Artillery-ground,
Without a rider, (noble sight!)
Led on our bravest troops to fight?
But first, Crape, for my honour's sake-A tender point--inquiry make
About that horse, if the dispute
Is ended, or is still in suit:
For whilst a cause, (observe this plan
Of justice) whether horse or man
The parties be, remains in doubt,
Till 'tis determined out and out,
That power must tyranny appear
Which should, prejudging, interfere,
And weak, faint judges overawe,
To bias the free course of law.
You have my will--now quickly run,
And take care that my will be done.
In public, Crape, you must appear,
Whilst I in privacy sit here;
Here shall great Dulman sit alone,
Making this elbow-chair my throne,
And you, performing what I bid,
Do all, as if I nothing did.'
Crape heard, and speeded on his way;
With him to hear was to obey;
Not without trouble, be assured,
A proper proxy was procured
To serve such infamous intent,
And such a lord to represent;
Nor could one have been found at all
On t'other side of London Wall.
The trumpet sounds--solemn and slow
Behold the grand procession go,
All moving on, cat after kind,
As if for motion ne'er design'd.
Constables, whom the laws admit
To keep the peace by breaking it;
Beadles, who hold the second place
By virtue of a silver mace,
Which every Saturday is drawn,
For use of Sunday, out of pawn;
Treasurers, who with empty key
225
Secure an empty treasury;
Churchwardens, who their course pursue
In the same state, as to their pew
Churchwardens of St Margaret's go,
Since Peirson taught them pride and show,
Who in short transient pomp appear,
Like almanacs changed every year;
Behind whom, with unbroken locks,
Charity carries the poor's box,
Not knowing that with private keys
They ope and shut it when they please:
Overseers, who by frauds ensure
The heavy curses of the poor;
Unclean came flocking, bulls and bears,
Like beasts into the ark, by pairs.
Portentous, flaming in the van,
Stalk'd the professor, Sheridan,
A man of wire, a mere pantine,
A downright animal machine;
He knows alone, in proper mode,
How to take vengeance on an ode,
And how to butcher Ammon's son
And poor Jack Dryden both in one:
On all occasions next the chair
He stands, for service of the Mayor,
And to instruct him how to use
His A's and B's, and P's and Q's:
O'er letters, into tatters worn,
O'er syllables, defaced and torn,
O'er words disjointed, and o'er sense,
Left destitute of all defence,
He strides, and all the way he goes
Wades, deep in blood, o'er Criss-cross-rows:
Before him every consonant
In agonies is seen to pant;
Behind, in forms not to be known,
The ghosts of tortured vowels groan.
Next Hart and Duke, well worthy grace
And city favour, came in place;
No children can their toils engage,
Their toils are turn'd to reverend age;
When a court dame, to grace his brows
226
Resolved, is wed to city-spouse,
Their aid with madam's aid must join,
The awkward dotard to refine,
And teach, whence truest glory flows,
Grave sixty to turn out his toes.
Each bore in hand a kit; and each
To show how fit he was to teach
A cit, an alderman, a mayor,
Led in a string a dancing bear.
Since the revival of Fingal,
Custom, and custom's all in all,
Commands that we should have regard,
On all high seasons, to the bard.
Great acts like these, by vulgar tongue
Profaned, should not be said, but sung.
This place to fill, renown'd in fame,
The high and mighty Lockman came,
And, ne'er forgot in Dulman's reign,
With proper order to maintain
The uniformity of pride,
Brought Brother Whitehead by his side.
On horse, who proudly paw'd the ground,
And cast his fiery eyeballs round,
Snorting, and champing the rude bit,
As if, for warlike purpose fit,
His high and generous blood disdain'd,
To be for sports and pastimes rein'd,
Great Dymock, in his glorious station,
Paraded at the coronation.
Not so our city Dymock came,
Heavy, dispirited, and tame;
No mark of sense, his eyes half-closed,
He on a mighty dray-horse dozed:
Fate never could a horse provide
So fit for such a man to ride,
Nor find a man with strictest care,
So fit for such a horse to bear.
Hung round with instruments of death,
The sight of him would stop the breath
Of braggart Cowardice, and make
The very court Drawcansir quake;
With dirks, which, in the hands of Spite,
227
Do their damn'd business in the night,
From Scotland sent, but here display'd
Only to fill up the parade;
With swords, unflesh'd, of maiden hue,
Which rage or valour never drew;
With blunderbusses, taught to ride
Like pocket-pistols, by his side,
In girdle stuck, he seem'd to be
A little moving armoury.
One thing much wanting to complete
The sight, and make a perfect treat,
Was, that the horse, (a courtesy
In horses found of high degree)
Instead of going forward on,
All the way backward should have gone.
Horses, unless they breeding lack,
Some scruple make to turn their back,
Though riders, which plain truth declares,
No scruple make of turning theirs.
Far, far apart from all the rest,
Fit only for a standing jest,
The independent, (can you get
A better suited epithet?)
The independent Amyand came,
All burning with the sacred flame
Of Liberty, which well he knows
On the great stock of Slavery grows;
Like sparrow, who, deprived of mate,
Snatch'd by the cruel hand of Fate,
From spray to spray no more will hop,
But sits alone on the house-top;
Or like himself, when all alone
At Croydon he was heard to groan,
Lifting both hands in the defence
Of interest, and common sense;
Both hands, for as no other man
Adopted and pursued his plan,
The left hand had been lonesome quite,
If he had not held up the right;
Apart he came, and fix'd his eyes
With rapture on a distant prize,
On which, in letters worthy note,
228
There 'twenty thousand pounds' was wrote.
False trap, for credit sapp'd is found
By getting twenty thousand pound:
Nay, look not thus on me, and stare,
Doubting the certainty--to swear
In such a case I should be loth-But Perry Cust may take his oath.
In plain and decent garb array'd,
With the prim Quaker, Fraud, came Trade;
Connivance, to improve the plan,
Habited like a juryman,
Judging as interest prevails,
Came next, with measures, weights, and scales;
Extortion next, of hellish race
A cub most damn'd, to show his face
Forbid by fear, but not by shame,
Turn'd to a Jew, like Gideon came;
Corruption, Midas-like, behold
Turning whate'er she touch'd to gold;
Impotence, led by Lust, and Pride,
Strutting with Ponton by her side;
Hypocrisy, demure and sad,
In garments of the priesthood clad,
So well disguised, that you might swear,
Deceived, a very priest was there;
Bankruptcy, full of ease and health,
And wallowing in well-saved wealth,
Came sneering through a ruin'd band,
And bringing B---- in her hand;
Victory, hanging down her head,
Was by a Highland stallion led;
Peace, clothed in sables, with a face
Which witness'd sense of huge disgrace,
Which spake a deep and rooted shame
Both of herself and of her name,
Mourning creeps on, and, blushing, feels
War, grim War, treading on her heels;
Pale Credit, shaken by the arts
Of men with bad heads and worse hearts,
Taking no notice of a band
Which near her were ordain'd to stand,
Well-nigh destroyed by sickly fit,
229
Look'd wistful all around for Pitt;
Freedom--at that most hallow'd name
My spirits mount into a flame,
Each pulse beats high, and each nerve strains,
Even to the cracking; through my veins
The tides of life more rapid run,
And tell me I am Freedom's son-Freedom came next, but scarce was seen,
When the sky, which appear'd serene
And gay before, was overcast;
Horror bestrode a foreign blast,
And from the prison of the North,
To Freedom deadly, storms burst forth.
A car like those, in which, we're told,
Our wild forefathers warr'd of old,
Loaded with death, six horses bear
Through the blank region of the air.
Too fierce for time or art to tame,
They pour'd forth mingled smoke and flame
From their wide nostrils; every steed
Was of that ancient savage breed
Which fell Geryon nursed; their food
The flesh of man, their drink his blood.
On the first horses, ill-match'd pair,
This fat and sleek, that lean and bare,
Came ill-match'd riders side by side,
And Poverty was yoked with Pride;
Union most strange it must appear,
Till other unions make it clear.
Next, in the gall of bitterness,
With rage which words can ill express,
With unforgiving rage, which springs
From a false zeal for holy things,
Wearing such robes as prophets wear,
False prophets placed in Peter's chair,
On which, in characters of fire,
Shapes antic, horrible, and dire
Inwoven flamed, where, to the view,
In groups appear'd a rabble crew
Of sainted devils; where, all round,
Vile relics of vile men were found,
Who, worse than devils, from the birth
230
Perform'd the work of hell on earth,
Jugglers, Inquisitors, and Popes,
Pointing at axes, wheels, and ropes,
And engines, framed on horrid plan,
Which none but the destroyer, Man,
Could, to promote his selfish views,
Have head to make or heart to use,
Bearing, to consecrate her tricks,
In her left hand a crucifix,
'Remembrance of our dying Lord,'
And in her right a two-edged sword,
Having her brows, in impious sport,
Adorn'd with words of high import,
'On earth peace, amongst men good will,
Love bearing and forbearing still,'
All wrote in the hearts' blood of those
Who rather death than falsehood chose:
On her breast, (where, in days of yore,
When God loved Jews, the High Priest wore
Those oracles which were decreed
To instruct and guide the chosen seed)
Having with glory clad and strength,
The Virgin pictured at full length,
Whilst at her feet, in small pourtray'd,
As scarce worth notice, Christ was laid,-Came Superstition, fierce and fell,
An imp detested, e'en in hell;
Her eye inflamed, her face all o'er
Foully besmear'd with human gore,
O'er heaps of mangled saints she rode;
Fast at her heels Death proudly strode,
And grimly smiled, well pleased to see
Such havoc of mortality;
Close by her side, on mischief bent,
And urging on each bad intent
To its full bearing, savage, wild,
The mother fit of such a child,
Striving the empire to advance
Of Sin and Death, came Ignorance.
With looks, where dread command was placed,
And sovereign power by pride disgraced,
Where, loudly witnessing a mind
231
Of savage, more than human kind,
Not choosing to be loved, but fear'd,
Mocking at right, Misrule appear'd.
With eyeballs glaring fiery red,
Enough to strike beholders dead,
Gnashing his teeth, and in a flood
Pouring corruption forth and blood
From his chafed jaws; without remorse
Whipping and spurring on his horse,
Whose sides, in their own blood embay'd,
E'en to the bone were open laid,
Came Tyranny, disdaining awe,
And trampling over Sense and Law;
One thing, and only one, he knew,
One object only would pursue;
Though less (so low doth passion bring)
Than man, he would be more than king.
With every argument and art
Which might corrupt the head and heart,
Soothing the frenzy of his mind,
Companion meet, was Flattery join'd;
Winning his carriage, every look
Employed, whilst it conceal'd a hook;
When simple most, most to be fear'd;
Most crafty, when no craft appear'd;
His tales, no man like him could tell;
His words, which melted as they fell,
Might even a hypocrite deceive,
And make an infidel believe,
Wantonly cheating o'er and o'er
Those who had cheated been before:-Such Flattery came, in evil hour,
Poisoning the royal ear of Power,
And, grown by prostitution great,
Would be first minister of state.
Within the chariot, all alone,
High seated on a kind of throne,
With pebbles graced, a figure came,
Whom Justice would, but dare not name.
Hard times when Justice, without fear,
Dare not bring forth to public ear
The names of those who dare offend
232
'Gainst Justice, and pervert her end!
But, if the Muse afford me grace,
Description shall supply the place.
In foreign garments he was clad;
Sage ermine o'er the glossy plaid
Cast reverend honour; on his heart,
Wrought by the curious hand of Art,
In silver wrought, and brighter far
Than heavenly or than earthly star,
Shone a White Rose, the emblem dear
Of him he ever must revere;
Of that dread lord, who, with his host
Of faithful native rebels lost,
Like those black spirits doom'd to hell,
At once from power and virtue fell:
Around his clouded brows was placed
A bonnet, most superbly graced
With mighty thistles, nor forgot
The sacred motto--'Touch me not.'
In the right hand a sword he bore
Harder than adamant, and more
Fatal than winds, which from the mouth
Of the rough North invade the South;
The reeking blade to view presents
The blood of helpless innocents,
And on the hilt, as meek become
As lamb before the shearers dumb,
With downcast eye, and solemn show
Of deep, unutterable woe,
Mourning the time when Freedom reign'd,
Fast to a rock was Justice chain'd.
In his left hand, in wax impress'd,
With bells and gewgaws idly dress'd,
An image, cast in baby mould,
He held, and seem'd o'erjoy'd to hold
On this he fix'd his eyes; to this,
Bowing, he gave the loyal kiss,
And, for rebellion fully ripe,
Seem'd to desire the antitype.
What if to that Pretender's foes
His greatness, nay, his life, he owes;
Shall common obligations bind,
233
And shake his constancy of mind?
Scorning such weak and petty chains,
Faithful to James he still remains,
Though he the friend of George appear:
Dissimulation's virtue here.
Jealous and mean, he with a frown
Would awe, and keep all merit down,
Nor would to Truth and Justice bend,
Unless out-bullied by his friend:
Brave with the coward, with the brave
He is himself a coward slave:
Awed by his fears, he has no heart
To take a great and open part:
Mines in a subtle train he springs,
And, secret, saps the ears of kings;
But not e'en there continues firm
'Gainst the resistance of a worm:
Born in a country, where the will
Of one is law to all, he still
Retain'd the infection, with full aim
To spread it wheresoe'er he came;
Freedom he hated, Law defied,
The prostitute of Power and Pride;
Law he with ease explains away,
And leads bewilder'd Sense astray;
Much to the credit of his brain,
Puzzles the cause he can't maintain;
Proceeds on most familiar grounds,
And where he can't convince, confounds;
Talents of rarest stamp and size,
To Nature false, he misapplies,
And turns to poison what was sent
For purposes of nourishment.
Paleness, not such as on his wings
The messenger of Sickness brings,
But such as takes its coward rise
From conscious baseness, conscious vice,
O'erspread his cheeks; Disdain and Pride,
To upstart fortunes ever tied,
Scowl'd on his brow; within his eye,
Insidious, lurking like a spy,
To Caution principled by Fear,
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Not daring open to appear,
Lodged covert Mischief; Passion hung
On his lip quivering; on his tongue
Fraud dwelt at large; within his breast
All that makes villain found a nest;
All that, on Hell's completest plan,
E'er join'd to damn the heart of man.
Soon as the car reach'd land, he rose,
And, with a look which might have froze
The heart's best blood, which was enough
Had hearts been made of sterner stuff
In cities than elsewhere, to make
The very stoutest quail and quake,
He cast his baleful eyes around:
Fix'd without motion to the ground,
Fear waiting on Surprise, all stood,
And horror chill'd their curdled blood;
No more they thought of pomp, no more
(For they had seen his face before)
Of law they thought; the cause forgot,
Whether it was or ghost, or plot,
Which drew them there: they all stood more
Like statues than they were before.
What could be done? Could Art, could Force.
Or both, direct a proper course
To make this savage monster tame,
Or send him back the way he came?
What neither art, nor force, nor both,
Could do, a Lord of foreign growth,
A Lord to that base wretch allied
In country, not in vice and pride,
Effected; from the self-same land,
(Bad news for our blaspheming band
Of scribblers, but deserving note)
The poison came and antidote.
Abash'd, the monster hung his head,
And like an empty vision fled;
His train, like virgin snows, which run,
Kiss'd by the burning bawdy sun,
To love-sick streams, dissolved in air;
Joy, who from absence seem'd more fair,
Came smiling, freed from slavish Awe;
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Loyalty, Liberty, and Law,
Impatient of the galling chain,
And yoke of Power, resumed their reign;
And, burning with the glorious flame
Of public virtue, Mansfield came.
~ Charles Churchill
133:The House Of Dust: Complete
I.
The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.
And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.
'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams,
I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins . . .'
The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness,
Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest,
Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.
We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music,
Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard;
We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight,
We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair,
With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word;
We flow, we descend, we turn . . . and the eternal dreamer
Moves among us like light, like evening air . . .
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night! We go our ways,
The rain runs over the pavement before our feet,
The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride. We turn our faces
To what the eternal evening brings.
Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid,
We have built a tower of stone high into the sky,
We have built a city of towers.
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Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours . . .
What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? . . .
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam . . .
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain;
Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands;
And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.
II.
One, from his high bright window in a tower,
Leans out, as evening falls,
And sees the advancing curtain of the shower
Splashing its silver on roofs and walls:
Sees how, swift as a shadow, it crosses the city,
And murmurs beyond far walls to the sea,
Leaving a glimmer of water in the dark canyons,
And silver falling from eave and tree.
One, from his high bright window, looking down,
Peers like a dreamer over the rain-bright town,
And thinks its towers are like a dream.
The western windows flame in the sun's last flare,
Pale roofs begin to gleam.
Looking down from a window high in a wall
He sees us all;
Lifting our pallid faces towards the rain,
Searching the sky, and going our ways again,
Standing in doorways, waiting under the trees . . .
There, in the high bright window he dreams, and sees
What we are blind to,—we who mass and crowd
From wall to wall in the darkening of a cloud.
The gulls drift slowly above the city of towers,
Over the roofs to the darkening sea they fly;
Night falls swiftly on an evening of rain.
The yellow lamps wink one by one again.
The towers reach higher and blacker against the sky.
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III.
One, where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand,
With wave upon slowly shattering wave,
Turned to the city of towers as evening fell;
And slowly walked by the darkening road toward it;
And saw how the towers darkened against the sky;
And across the distance heard the toll of a bell.
Along the darkening road he hurried alone,
With his eyes cast down,
And thought how the streets were hoarse with a tide of people,
With clamor of voices, and numberless faces . . .
And it seemed to him, of a sudden, that he would drown
Here in the quiet of evening air,
These empty and voiceless places . . .
And he hurried towards the city, to enter there.
Along the darkening road, between tall trees
That made a sinister whisper, loudly he walked.
Behind him, sea-gulls dipped over long grey seas.
Before him, numberless lovers smiled and talked.
And death was observed with sudden cries,
And birth with laughter and pain.
And the trees grew taller and blacker against the skies
And night came down again.
IV.
Up high black walls, up sombre terraces,
Clinging like luminous birds to the sides of cliffs,
The yellow lights went climbing towards the sky.
From high black walls, gleaming vaguely with rain,
Each yellow light looked down like a golden eye.
They trembled from coign to coign, and tower to tower,
Along high terraces quicker than dream they flew.
And some of them steadily glowed, and some soon vanished,
And some strange shadows threw.
And behind them all the ghosts of thoughts went moving,
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Restlessly moving in each lamplit room,
From chair to mirror, from mirror to fire;
From some, the light was scarcely more than a gloom:
From some, a dazzling desire.
And there was one, beneath black eaves, who thought,
Combing with lifted arms her golden hair,
Of the lover who hurried towards her through the night;
And there was one who dreamed of a sudden death
As she blew out her light.
And
And
And
And
And
there was one who turned from clamoring streets,
walked in lamplit gardens among black trees,
looked at the windy sky,
thought with terror how stones and roots would freeze
birds in the dead boughs cry . . .
And she hurried back, as snow fell, mixed with rain,
To mingle among the crowds again,
To jostle beneath blue lamps along the street;
And lost herself in the warm bright coiling dream,
With a sound of murmuring voices and shuffling feet.
And one, from his high bright window looking down
On luminous chasms that cleft the basalt town,
Hearing a sea-like murmur rise,
Desired to leave his dream, descend from the tower,
And drown in waves of shouts and laughter and cries.
V.
The snow floats down upon us, mingled with rain . . .
It eddies around pale lilac lamps, and falls
Down golden-windowed walls.
We were all born of flesh, in a flare of pain,
We do not remember the red roots whence we rose,
But we know that we rose and walked, that after a while
We shall lie down again.
The snow floats down upon us, we turn, we turn,
Through gorges filled with light we sound and flow . . .
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One is struck down and hurt, we crowd about him,
We bear him away, gaze after his listless body;
But whether he lives or dies we do not know.
One of us sings in the street, and we listen to him;
The words ring over us like vague bells of sorrow.
He sings of a house he lived in long ago.
It is strange; this house of dust was the house I lived in;
The house you lived in, the house that all of us know.
And coiling slowly about him, and laughing at him,
And throwing him pennies, we bear away
A mournful echo of other times and places,
And follow a dream . . . a dream that will not stay.
Down long broad flights of lamplit stairs we flow;
Noisy, in scattered waves, crowding and shouting;
In broken slow cascades.
The gardens extend before us . . . We spread out swiftly;
Trees are above us, and darkness. The canyon fades . . .
And we recall, with a gleaming stab of sadness,
Vaguely and incoherently, some dream
Of a world we came from, a world of sun-blue hills . . .
A black wood whispers around us, green eyes gleam;
Someone cries in the forest, and someone kills.
We
We
We
We
We
flow to the east, to the white-lined shivering sea;
reach to the west, where the whirling sun went down;
close our eyes to music in bright cafees.
diverge from clamorous streets to streets that are silent.
loaf where the wind-spilled fountain plays.
And, growing tired, we turn aside at last,
Remember our secret selves, seek out our towers,
Lay weary hands on the banisters, and climb;
Climbing, each, to his little four-square dream
Of love or lust or beauty or death or crime.
VI.
Over the darkened city, the city of towers,
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The city of a thousand gates,
Over the gleaming terraced roofs, the huddled towers,
Over a somnolent whisper of loves and hates,
The slow wind flows, drearily streams and falls,
With a mournful sound down rain-dark walls.
On one side purples the lustrous dusk of the sea,
And dreams in white at the city's feet;
On one side sleep the plains, with heaped-up hills.
Oaks and beeches whisper in rings about it.
Above the trees are towers where dread bells beat.
The fisherman draws his streaming net from the sea
And sails toward the far-off city, that seems
Like one vague tower.
The dark bow plunges to foam on blue-black waves,
And shrill rain seethes like a ghostly music about him
In a quiet shower.
Rain with a shrill sings on the lapsing waves;
Rain thrills over the roofs again;
Like a shadow of shifting silver it crosses the city;
The lamps in the streets are streamed with rain;
And sparrows complain beneath deep eaves,
And among whirled leaves
The sea-gulls, blowing from tower to lower tower,
From wall to remoter wall,
Skim with the driven rain to the rising sea-sound
And close grey wings and fall . . .
. . . Hearing great rain above me, I now remember
A girl who stood by the door and shut her eyes:
Her pale cheeks glistened with rain, she stood and shivered.
Into a forest of silver she vanished slowly . . .
Voices about me rise . . .
Voices clear and silvery, voices of raindrops,—
'We struck with silver claws, we struck her down.
We are the ghosts of the singing furies . . . '
A chorus of elfin voices blowing about me
Weaves to a babel of sound. Each cries a secret.
I run among them, reach out vain hands, and drown.
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'I am the one who stood beside you and smiled,
Thinking your face so strangely young . . . '
'I am the one who loved you but did not dare.'
'I am the one you followed through crowded streets,
The one who escaped you, the one with red-gleamed hair.'
'I am the one you saw to-day, who fell
Senseless before you, hearing a certain bell:
A bell that broke great memories in my brain.'
'I am the one who passed unnoticed before you,
Invisible, in a cloud of secret pain.'
'I am the one who suddenly cried, beholding
The face of a certain man on the dazzling screen.
They wrote me that he was dead. It was long ago.
I walked in the streets for a long while, hearing nothing,
And returned to see it again. And it was so.'
Weave, weave, weave, you streaks of rain!
I am dissolved and woven again . . .
Thousands of faces rise and vanish before me.
Thousands of voices weave in the rain.
'I am the one who rode beside you, blinking
At a dazzle of golden lights.
Tempests of music swept me: I was thinking
Of the gorgeous promise of certain nights:
Of the woman who suddenly smiled at me this day,
Smiled in a certain delicious sidelong way,
And turned, as she reached the door,
To smile once more . . .
Her hands are whiter than snow on midnight water.
Her throat is golden and full of golden laughter,
Her eyes are strange as the stealth of the moon
On a night in June . . .
She runs among whistling leaves; I hurry after;
She dances in dreams over white-waved water;
Her body is white and fragrant and cool,
Magnolia petals that float on a white-starred pool . . .
I have dreamed of her, dreaming for many nights
Of a broken music and golden lights,
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Of broken webs of silver, heavily falling
Between my hands and their white desire:
And dark-leaved boughs, edged with a golden radiance,
Dipping to screen a fire . . .
I dream that I walk with her beneath high trees,
But as I lean to kiss her face,
She is blown aloft on wind, I catch at leaves,
And run in a moonless place;
And I hear a crashing of terrible rocks flung down,
And shattering trees and cracking walls,
And a net of intense white flame roars over the town,
And someone cries; and darkness falls . . .
But now she has leaned and smiled at me,
My veins are afire with music,
Her eyes have kissed me, my body is turned to light;
I shall dream to her secret heart tonight . . . '
He rises and moves away, he says no word,
He folds his evening paper and turns away;
I rush through the dark with rows of lamplit faces;
Fire bells peal, and some of us turn to listen,
And some sit motionless in their accustomed places.
Cold rain lashes the car-roof, scurries in gusts,
Streams down the windows in waves and ripples of lustre;
The lamps in the streets are distorted and strange.
Someone takes his watch from his pocket and yawns.
One peers out in the night for the place to change.
Rain . . . rain . . . rain . . . we are buried in rain,
It will rain forever, the swift wheels hiss through water,
Pale sheets of water gleam in the windy street.
The pealing of bells is lost in a drive of rain-drops.
Remote and hurried the great bells beat.
'I am the one whom life so shrewdly betrayed,
Misfortune dogs me, it always hunted me down.
And to-day the woman I love lies dead.
I gave her roses, a ring with opals;
These hands have touched her head.
'I bound her to me in all soft ways,
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I bound her to me in a net of days,
Yet now she has gone in silence and said no word.
How can we face these dazzling things, I ask you?
There is no use: we cry: and are not heard.
'They cover a body with roses . . . I shall not see it . . .
Must one return to the lifeless walls of a city
Whose soul is charred by fire? . . . '
His eyes are closed, his lips press tightly together.
Wheels hiss beneath us. He yields us our desire.
'No, do not stare so—he is weak with grief,
He cannot face you, he turns his eyes aside;
He is confused with pain.
I suffered this. I know. It was long ago . . .
He closes his eyes and drowns in death again.'
The wind hurls blows at the rain-starred glistening windows,
The wind shrills down from the half-seen walls.
We flow on the mournful wind in a dream of dying;
And at last a silence falls.
VII.
Midnight; bells toll, and along the cloud-high towers
The golden lights go out . . .
The yellow windows darken, the shades are drawn,
In thousands of rooms we sleep, we await the dawn,
We lie face down, we dream,
We cry aloud with terror, half rise, or seem
To stare at the ceiling or walls . . .
Midnight . . . the last of shattering bell-notes falls.
A rush of silence whirls over the cloud-high towers,
A vortex of soundless hours.
'The bells have just struck twelve: I should be sleeping.
But I cannot delay any longer to write and tell you.
The woman is dead.
She died—you know the way. Just as we planned.
Smiling, with open sunlit eyes.
Smiling upon the outstretched fatal hand . . .'
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He folds his letter, steps softly down the stairs.
The doors are closed and silent. A gas-jet flares.
His shadow disturbs a shadow of balustrades.
The door swings shut behind. Night roars above him.
Into the night he fades.
Wind; wind; wind; carving the walls;
Blowing the water that gleams in the street;
Blowing the rain, the sleet.
In the dark alley, an old tree cracks and falls,
Oak-boughs moan in the haunted air;
Lamps blow down with a crash and tinkle of glass . . .
Darkness whistles . . . Wild hours pass . . .
And those whom sleep eludes lie wide-eyed, hearing
Above their heads a goblin night go by;
Children are waked, and cry,
The young girl hears the roar in her sleep, and dreams
That her lover is caught in a burning tower,
She clutches the pillow, she gasps for breath, she screams . . .
And then by degrees her breath grows quiet and slow,
She dreams of an evening, long ago:
Of colored lanterns balancing under trees,
Some of them softly catching afire;
And beneath the lanterns a motionless face she sees,
Golden with lamplight, smiling, serene . . .
The leaves are a pale and glittering green,
The sound of horns blows over the trampled grass,
Shadows of dancers pass . . .
The face smiles closer to hers, she tries to lean
Backward, away, the eyes burn close and strange,
The face is beginning to change,—
It is her lover, she no longer desires to resist,
She is held and kissed.
She closes her eyes, and melts in a seethe of flame . . .
With a smoking ghost of shame . . .
Wind, wind, wind . . . Wind in an enormous brain
Blowing dark thoughts like fallen leaves . . .
The wind shrieks, the wind grieves;
It dashes the leaves on walls, it whirls then again;
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And the enormous sleeper vaguely and stupidly dreams
And desires to stir, to resist a ghost of pain.
One, whom the city imprisoned because of his cunning,
Who dreamed for years in a tower,
Seizes this hour
Of tumult and wind. He files through the rusted bar,
Leans his face to the rain, laughs up at the night,
Slides down the knotted sheet, swings over the wall,
To fall to the street with a cat-like fall,
Slinks round a quavering rim of windy light,
And at last is gone,
Leaving his empty cell for the pallor of dawn . . .
The mother whose child was buried to-day
Turns her face to the window; her face is grey;
And all her body is cold with the coldness of rain.
He would have grown as easily as a tree,
He would have spread a pleasure of shade above her,
He would have been his father again . . .
His growth was ended by a freezing invisible shadow.
She lies, and does not move, and is stabbed by the rain.
Wind, wind, wind; we toss and dream;
We dream we are clouds and stars, blown in a stream:
Windows rattle above our beds;
We reach vague-gesturing hands, we lift our heads,
Hear sounds far off,—and dream, with quivering breath,
Our curious separate ways through life and death.
VIII.
The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city,
Over the pale grey tumbled towers,—
And settles among the roofs, the pale grey walls.
Along damp sinuous streets it crawls,
Curls like a dream among the motionless trees
And seems to freeze.
The fog slips ghostlike into a thousand rooms,
Whirls over sleeping faces,
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Spins in an atomy dance round misty street lamps;
And blows in cloudy waves over open spaces . . .
And one from his high window, looking down,
Peers at the cloud-white town,
And thinks its island towers are like a dream . . .
It seems an enormous sleeper, within whose brain
Laborious shadows revolve and break and gleam.
PART II.
I.
The round red sun heaves darkly out of the sea.
The walls and towers are warmed and gleam.
Sounds go drowsily up from streets and wharves.
The city stirs like one that is half in dream.
And the mist flows up by dazzling walls and windows,
Where one by one we wake and rise.
We gaze at the pale grey lustrous sea a moment,
We rub the darkness from our eyes,
And face our thousand devious secret mornings . . .
And do not see how the pale mist, slowly ascending,
Shaped by the sun, shines like a white-robed dreamer
Compassionate over our towers bending.
There, like one who gazes into a crystal,
He broods upon our city with sombre eyes;
He sees our secret fears vaguely unfolding,
Sees cloudy symbols shape to rise.
Each gleaming point of light is like a seed
Dilating swiftly to coiling fires.
Each cloud becomes a rapidly dimming face,
Each hurrying face records its strange desires.
We descend our separate stairs toward the day,
173
Merge in the somnolent mass that fills the street,
Lift our eyes to the soft blue space of sky,
And walk by the well-known walls with accustomed feet.
II. THE FULFILLED DREAM
More towers must yet be built—more towers destroyed—
Great rocks hoisted in air;
And he must seek his bread in high pale sunlight
With gulls about him, and clouds just over his eyes . . .
And so he did not mention his dream of falling
But drank his coffee in silence, and heard in his ears
That horrible whistle of wind, and felt his breath
Sucked out of him, and saw the tower flash by
And the small tree swell beneath him . . .
He patted his boy on the head, and kissed his wife,
Looked quickly around the room, to remember it,—
And so went out . . . For once, he forgot his pail.
Something had changed—but it was not the street—
The street was just the same—it was himself.
Puddles flashed in the sun. In the pawn-shop door
The same old black cat winked green amber eyes;
The butcher stood by his window tying his apron;
The same men walked beside him, smoking pipes,
Reading the morning paper . . .
He would not yield, he thought, and walk more slowly,
As if he knew for certain he walked to death:
But with his usual pace,—deliberate, firm,
Looking about him calmly, watching the world,
Taking his ease . . . Yet, when he thought again
Of the same dream, now dreamed three separate times,
Always the same, and heard that whistling wind,
And saw the windows flashing upward past him,—
He slowed his pace a little, and thought with horror
How monstrously that small tree thrust to meet him! . . .
He slowed his pace a little and remembered his wife.
Was forty, then, too old for work like this?
Why should it be? He'd never been afraid—
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His eye was sure, his hand was steady . . .
But dreams had meanings.
He walked more slowly, and looked along the roofs,
All built by men, and saw the pale blue sky;
And suddenly he was dizzy with looking at it,
It seemed to whirl and swim,
It seemed the color of terror, of speed, of death . . .
He lowered his eyes to the stones, he walked more slowly;
His thoughts were blown and scattered like leaves;
He thought of the pail . . . Why, then, was it forgotten?
Because he would not need it?
Then, just as he was grouping his thoughts again
About that drug-store corner, under an arc-lamp,
Where first he met the girl whom he would marry,—
That blue-eyed innocent girl, in a soft blouse,—
He waved his hand for signal, and up he went
In the dusty chute that hugged the wall;
Above the tree; from girdered floor to floor;
Above the flattening roofs, until the sea
Lay wide and waved before him . . . And then he stepped
Giddily out, from that security,
To the red rib of iron against the sky,
And walked along it, feeling it sing and tremble;
And looking down one instant, saw the tree
Just as he dreamed it was; and looked away,
And up again, feeling his blood go wild.
He gave the signal; the long girder swung
Closer to him, dropped clanging into place,
Almost pushing him off. Pneumatic hammers
Began their madhouse clatter, the white-hot rivets
Were tossed from below and deftly caught in pails;
He signalled again, and wiped his mouth, and thought
A place so high in the air should be more quiet.
The tree, far down below, teased at his eyes,
Teased at the corners of them, until he looked,
And felt his body go suddenly small and light;
Felt his brain float off like a dwindling vapor;
And heard a whistle of wind, and saw a tree
Come plunging up to him, and thought to himself,
'By God—I'm done for now, the dream was right . . .'
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III. INTERLUDE
The warm sun dreams in the dust, the warm sun falls
On bright red roofs and walls;
The trees in the park exhale a ghost of rain;
We go from door to door in the streets again,
Talking, laughing, dreaming, turning our faces,
Recalling other times and places . . .
We crowd, not knowing why, around a gate,
We crowd together and wait,
A stretcher is carried out, voices are stilled,
The ambulance drives away.
We watch its roof flash by, hear someone say
'A man fell off the building and was killed—
Fell right into a barrel . . .' We turn again
Among the frightened eyes of white-faced men,
And go our separate ways, each bearing with him
A thing he tries, but vainly, to forget,—
A sickened crowd, a stretcher red and wet.
A hurdy-gurdy sings in the crowded street,
The golden notes skip over the sunlit stones,
Wings are upon our feet.
The sun seems warmer, the winding street more bright,
Sparrows come whirring down in a cloud of light.
We bear our dreams among us, bear them all,
Like hurdy-gurdy music they rise and fall,
Climb to beauty and die.
The wandering lover dreams of his lover's mouth,
And smiles at the hostile sky.
The broker smokes his pipe, and sees a fortune.
The murderer hears a cry.
IV. NIGHTMARE
'Draw three cards, and I will tell your future . . .
Draw three cards, and lay them down,
Rest your palms upon them, stare at the crystal,
And think of time . . . My father was a clown,
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My mother was a gypsy out of Egypt;
And she was gotten with child in a strange way;
And I was born in a cold eclipse of the moon,
With the future in my eyes as clear as day.'
I sit before the gold-embroidered curtain
And think her face is like a wrinkled desert.
The crystal burns in lamplight beneath my eyes.
A dragon slowly coils on the scaly curtain.
Upon a scarlet cloth a white skull lies.
'Your hand is on the hand that holds three lilies.
You will live long, love many times.
I see a dark girl here who once betrayed you.
I see a shadow of secret crimes.
'There was a man who came intent to kill you,
And hid behind a door and waited for you;
There was a woman who smiled at you and lied.
There was a golden girl who loved you, begged you,
Crawled after you, and died.
'There is a ghost of murder in your blood—
Coming or past, I know not which.
And here is danger—a woman with sea-green eyes,
And white-skinned as a witch . . .'
The words hiss into me, like raindrops falling
On sleepy fire . . . She smiles a meaning smile.
Suspicion eats my brain; I ask a question;
Something is creeping at me, something vile;
And suddenly on the wall behind her head
I see a monstrous shadow strike and spread,
The lamp puffs out, a great blow crashes down.
I plunge through the curtain, run through dark to the street,
And hear swift steps retreat . . .
The shades are drawn, the door is locked behind me.
Behind the door I hear a hammer sounding.
I walk in a cloud of wonder; I am glad.
I mingle among the crowds; my heart is pounding;
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You do not guess the adventure I have had! . . .
Yet you, too, all have had your dark adventures,
Your sudden adventures, or strange, or sweet . . .
My peril goes out from me, is blown among you.
We loiter, dreaming together, along the street.
V. RETROSPECT
Round white clouds roll slowly above the housetops,
Over the clear red roofs they flow and pass.
A flock of pigeons rises with blue wings flashing,
Rises with whistle of wings, hovers an instant,
And settles slowly again on the tarnished grass.
And one old man looks down from a dusty window
And sees the pigeons circling about the fountain
And desires once more to walk among those trees.
Lovers walk in the noontime by that fountain.
Pigeons dip their beaks to drink from the water.
And soon the pond must freeze.
The light wind blows to his ears a sound of laughter,
Young men shuffle their feet, loaf in the sunlight;
A girl's laugh rings like a silver bell.
But clearer than all these sounds is a sound he hears
More in his secret heart than in his ears,—
A hammer's steady crescendo, like a knell.
He hears the snarl of pineboards under the plane,
The rhythmic saw, and then the hammer again,—
Playing with delicate strokes that sombre scale . . .
And the fountain dwindles, the sunlight seems to pale.
Time is a dream, he thinks, a destroying dream;
It lays great cities in dust, it fills the seas;
It covers the face of beauty, and tumbles walls.
Where was the woman he loved? Where was his youth?
Where was the dream that burned his brain like fire?
Even a dream grows grey at last and falls.
He opened his book once more, beside the window,
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And read the printed words upon that page.
The sunlight touched his hand; his eyes moved slowly,
The quiet words enchanted time and age.
'Death is never an ending, death is a change;
Death is beautiful, for death is strange;
Death is one dream out of another flowing;
Death is a chorded music, softly going
By sweet transition from key to richer key.
Death is a meeting place of sea and sea.'
VI. ADELE AND DAVIS
She turned her head on the pillow, and cried once more.
And drawing a shaken breath, and closing her eyes,
To shut out, if she could, this dingy room,
The wigs and costumes scattered around the floor,—
Yellows and greens in the dark,—she walked again
Those nightmare streets which she had walked so often . . .
Here, at a certain corner, under an arc-lamp,
Blown by a bitter wind, she stopped and looked
In through the brilliant windows of a drug-store,
And wondered if she dared to ask for poison:
But it was late, few customers were there,
The eyes of all the clerks would freeze upon her,
And she would wilt, and cry . . . Here, by the river,
She listened to the water slapping the wall,
And felt queer fascination in its blackness:
But it was cold, the little waves looked cruel,
The stars were keen, and a windy dash of spray
Struck her cheek, and withered her veins . . . And so
She dragged herself once more to home, and bed.
Paul hadn't guessed it yet—though twice, already,
She'd fainted—once, the first time, on the stage.
So she must tell him soon—or else—get out . . .
How could she say it? That was the hideous thing.
She'd rather die than say it! . . . and all the trouble,
Months when she couldn't earn a cent, and then,
If he refused to marry her . . . well, what?
She saw him laughing, making a foolish joke,
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His grey eyes turning quickly; and the words
Fled from her tongue . . . She saw him sitting silent,
Brooding over his morning coffee, maybe,
And tried again . . . she bit her lips, and trembled,
And looked away, and said . . . 'Say Paul, boy,—listen—
There's something I must tell you . . . ' There she stopped,
Wondering what he'd say . . . What would he say?
'Spring it, kid! Don't look so serious!'
'But what I've got to say—IS—serious!'
Then she could see how, suddenly, he would sober,
His eyes would darken, he'd look so terrifying—
He always did—and what could she do but cry?
Perhaps, then, he would guess—perhaps he wouldn't.
And if he didn't, but asked her 'What's the matter?'—
She knew she'd never tell—just say she was sick . . .
And after that, when would she dare again?
And what would he do—even suppose she told him?
If it were Felix! If it were only Felix!—
She wouldn't mind so much. But as it was,
Bitterness choked her, she had half a mind
To pay out Felix for never having liked her,
By making people think that it was he . . .
She'd write a letter to someone, before she died,—
Just saying 'Felix did it—and wouldn't marry.'
And then she'd die . . . But that was hard on Paul . . .
Paul would never forgive her—he'd never forgive her!
Sometimes she almost thought Paul really loved her . . .
She saw him look reproachfully at her coffin.
And then she closed her eyes and walked again
Those nightmare streets that she had walked so often:
Under an arc-lamp swinging in the wind
She stood, and stared in through a drug-store window,
Watching a clerk wrap up a little pill-box.
But it was late. No customers were there,—
Pitiless eyes would freeze her secret in her!
And then—what poison would she dare to ask for?
And if they asked her why, what would she say?
VII. TWO LOVERS: OVERTONES
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Two lovers, here at the corner, by the steeple,
Two lovers blow together like music blowing:
And the crowd dissolves about them like a sea.
Recurring waves of sound break vaguely about them,
They drift from wall to wall, from tree to tree.
'Well, am I late?' Upward they look and laugh,
They look at the great clock's golden hands,
They laugh and talk, not knowing what they say:
Only, their words like music seem to play;
And seeming to walk, they tread strange sarabands.
'I brought you this . . . ' the soft words float like stars
Down the smooth heaven of her memory.
She stands again by a garden wall,
The peach tree is in bloom, pink blossoms fall,
Water sings from an opened tap, the bees
Glisten and murmur among the trees.
Someone calls from the house. She does not answer.
Backward she leans her head,
And dreamily smiles at the peach-tree leaves, wherethrough
She sees an infinite May sky spread
A vault profoundly blue.
The voice from the house fades far away,
The glistening leaves more vaguely ripple and sway . .
The tap is closed, the water ceases to hiss . . .
Silence . . . blue sky . . . and then, 'I brought you this . . . '
She turns again, and smiles . . . He does not know
She smiles from long ago . . .
She turns to him and smiles . . . Sunlight above him
Roars like a vast invisible sea,
Gold is beaten before him, shrill bells of silver;
He is released of weight, his body is free,
He lifts his arms to swim,
Dark years like sinister tides coil under him . . .
The lazy sea-waves crumble along the beach
With a whirring sound like wind in bells,
He lies outstretched on the yellow wind-worn sands
Reaching his lazy hands
Among the golden grains and sea-white shells . . .
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'One white rose . . . or is it pink, to-day?'
They pause and smile, not caring what they say,
If only they may talk.
The crowd flows past them like dividing waters.
Dreaming they stand, dreaming they walk.
'Pink,—to-day!'—Face turns to dream-bright face,
Green leaves rise round them, sunshine settles upon them,
Water, in drops of silver, falls from the rose.
She smiles at a face that smiles through leaves from the mirror.
She breathes the fragrance; her dark eyes close . . .
Time is dissolved, it blows like a little dust:
Time, like a flurry of rain,
Patters and passes, starring the window-pane.
Once, long ago, one night,
She saw the lightning, with long blue quiver of light,
Ripping the darkness . . . and as she turned in terror
A soft face leaned above her, leaned softly down,
Softly around her a breath of roses was blown,
She sank in waves of quiet, she seemed to float
In a sea of silence . . . and soft steps grew remote . .
'Well, let us walk in the park . . . The sun is warm,
We'll sit on a bench and talk . . .' They turn and glide,
The crowd of faces wavers and breaks and flows.
'Look how the oak-tops turn to gold in the sunlight!
Look how the tower is changed and glows!'
Two lovers move in the crowd like a link of music,
We press upon them, we hold them, and let them pass;
A chord of music strikes us and straight we tremble;
We tremble like wind-blown grass.
What was this dream we had, a dream of music,
Music that rose from the opening earth like magic
And shook its beauty upon us and died away?
The long cold streets extend once more before us.
The red sun drops, the walls grow grey.
VIII. THE BOX WITH SILVER HANDLES
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Well,—it was two days after my husband died—
Two days! And the earth still raw above him.
And I was sweeping the carpet in their hall.
In number four—the room with the red wall-paper—
Some chorus girls and men were singing that song
'They'll soon be lighting candles
Round a box with silver handles'—and hearing them sing it
I started to cry. Just then he came along
And stopped on the stairs and turned and looked at me,
And took the cigar from his mouth and sort of smiled
And said, 'Say, what's the matter?' and then came down
Where I was leaning against the wall,
And touched my shoulder, and put his arm around me . . .
And I was so sad, thinking about it,—
Thinking that it was raining, and a cold night,
With Jim so unaccustomed to being dead,—
That I was happy to have him sympathize,
To feel his arm, and leaned against him and cried.
And before I knew it, he got me into a room
Where a table was set, and no one there,
And sat me down on a sofa, and held me close,
And talked to me, telling me not to cry,
That it was all right, he'd look after me,—
But not to cry, my eyes were getting red,
Which didn't make me pretty. And he was so nice,
That when he turned my face between his hands,
And looked at me, with those blue eyes of his,
And smiled, and leaned, and kissed me—
Somehow I couldn't tell him not to do it,
Somehow I didn't mind, I let him kiss me,
And closed my eyes! . . . Well, that was how it started.
For when my heart was eased with crying, and grief
Had passed and left me quiet, somehow it seemed
As if it wasn't honest to change my mind,
To send him away, or say I hadn't meant it—
And, anyway, it seemed so hard to explain!
And so we sat and talked, not talking much,
But meaning as much in silence as in words,
There in that empty room with palms about us,
That private dining-room . . . And as we sat there
I felt my future changing, day by day,
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With unknown streets opening left and right,
New streets with farther lights, new taller houses,
Doors swinging into hallways filled with light,
Half-opened luminous windows, with white curtains
Streaming out in the night, and sudden music,—
And thinking of this, and through it half remembering
A quick and horrible death, my husband's eyes,
The broken-plastered walls, my boy asleep,—
It seemed as if my brain would break in two.
My voice began to tremble . . . and when I stood,
And told him I must go, and said good-night—
I couldn't see the end. How would it end?
Would he return to-morrow? Or would he not?
And did I want him to—or would I rather
Look for another job?—He took my shoulders
Between his hands, and looked down into my eyes,
And smiled, and said good-night. If he had kissed me,
That would have—well, I don't know; but he didn't . .
And so I went downstairs, then, half elated,
Hoping to close the door before that party
In number four should sing that song again—
'They'll soon be lighting candles round a box with silver handles'—
And sure enough, I did. I faced the darkness.
And my eyes were filled with tears. And I was happy.
IX. INTERLUDE
The days, the nights, flow one by one above us,
The hours go silently over our lifted faces,
We are like dreamers who walk beneath a sea.
Beneath high walls we flow in the sun together.
We sleep, we wake, we laugh, we pursue, we flee.
We sit at tables and sip our morning coffee,
We read the papers for tales of lust or crime.
The door swings shut behind the latest comer.
We set our watches, regard the time.
What have we done? I close my eyes, remember
The great machine whose sinister brain before me
Smote and smote with a rhythmic beat.
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My hands have torn down walls, the stone and plaster.
I dropped great beams to the dusty street.
My eyes are worn with measuring cloths of purple,
And golden cloths, and wavering cloths, and pale.
I dream of a crowd of faces, white with menace.
Hands reach up to tear me. My brain will fail.
Here, where the walls go down beneath our picks,
These walls whose windows gap against the sky,
Atom by atom of flesh and brain and marble
Will build a glittering tower before we die . . .
The young boy whistles, hurrying down the street,
The young girl hums beneath her breath.
One goes out to beauty, and does not know it.
And one goes out to death.
X. SUDDEN DEATH
'Number four—the girl who died on the table—
The girl with golden hair—'
The purpling body lies on the polished marble.
We open the throat, and lay the thyroid bare . . .
One, who held the ether-cone, remembers
Her dark blue frightened eyes.
He heard the sharp breath quiver, and saw her breast
More hurriedly fall and rise.
Her hands made futile gestures, she turned her head
Fighting for breath; her cheeks were flushed to scarlet,—
And, suddenly, she lay dead.
And all the dreams that hurried along her veins
Came to the darkness of a sudden wall.
Confusion ran among them, they whirled and clamored,
They fell, they rose, they struck, they shouted,
Till at last a pallor of silence hushed them all.
What was her name? Where had she walked that morning?
Through what dark forest came her feet?
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Along what sunlit walls, what peopled street?
Backward he dreamed along a chain of days,
He saw her go her strange and secret ways,
Waking and sleeping, noon and night.
She sat by a mirror, braiding her golden hair.
She read a story by candlelight.
Her shadow ran before her along the street,
She walked with rhythmic feet,
Turned a corner, descended a stair.
She bought a paper, held it to scan the headlines,
Smiled for a moment at sea-gulls high in sunlight,
And drew deep breaths of air.
Days passed, bright clouds of days. Nights passed. And music
Murmured within the walls of lighted windows.
She lifted her face to the light and danced.
The dancers wreathed and grouped in moving patterns,
Clustered, receded, streamed, advanced.
Her dress was purple, her slippers were golden,
Her eyes were blue; and a purple orchid
Opened its golden heart on her breast . . .
She leaned to the surly languor of lazy music,
Leaned on her partner's arm to rest.
The violins were weaving a weft of silver,
The horns were weaving a lustrous brede of gold,
And time was caught in a glistening pattern,
Time, too elusive to hold . . .
Shadows of leaves fell over her face,—and sunlight:
She turned her face away.
Nearer she moved to a crouching darkness
With every step and day.
Death, who at first had thought of her only an instant,
At a great distance, across the night,
Smiled from a window upon her, and followed her slowly
From purple light to light.
Once, in her dreams, he spoke out clearly, crying,
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'I am the murderer, death.
I am the lover who keeps his appointment
At the doors of breath!'
She rose and stared at her own reflection,
Half dreading there to find
The dark-eyed ghost, waiting beside her,
Or reaching from behind
To lay pale hands upon her shoulders . . .
Or was this in her mind? . . .
She combed her hair. The sunlight glimmered
Along the tossing strands.
Was there a stillness in this hair,—
A quiet in these hands?
Death was a dream. It could not change these eyes,
Blow out their light, or turn this mouth to dust.
She combed her hair and sang. She would live forever.
Leaves flew past her window along a gust . . .
And graves were dug in the earth, and coffins passed,
And music ebbed with the ebbing hours.
And dreams went along her veins, and scattering clouds
Threw streaming shadows on walls and towers.
XI.
Snow falls. The sky is grey, and sullenly glares
With purple lights in the canyoned street.
The fiery sign on the dark tower wreathes and flares . . .
The trodden grass in the park is covered with white,
The streets grow silent beneath our feet . . .
The city dreams, it forgets its past to-night.
And one, from his high bright window looking down
Over the enchanted whiteness of the town,
Seeing through whirls of white the vague grey towers,
Desires like this to forget what will not pass,
The littered papers, the dust, the tarnished grass,
Grey death, stale ugliness, and sodden hours.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again,
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Slurred bells of grief and pain,
Dull echoes of hideous times and poisonous places.
He desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.
He desires to forget a million faces . . .
In one room breathes a woman who dies of hunger.
The clock ticks slowly and stops. And no one winds it.
In one room fade grey violets in a vase.
Snow flakes faintly hiss and melt on the window.
In one room, minute by minute, the flutist plays
The lamplit page of music, the tireless scales.
His hands are trembling, his short breath fails.
In one room, silently, lover looks upon lover,
And thinks the air is fire.
The drunkard swears and touches the harlot's heartstrings
With the sudden hand of desire.
And
And
And
And
one goes late in the streets, and thinks of murder;
one lies staring, and thinks of death.
one, who has suffered, clenches her hands despairing,
holds her breath . . .
Who are all these, who flow in the veins of the city,
Coil and revolve and dream,
Vanish or gleam?
Some mount up to the brain and flower in fire.
Some are destroyed; some die; some slowly stream.
And
And
And
And
And
the new are born who desire to destroy the old;
fires are kindled and quenched; and dreams are broken,
walls flung down . . .
the slow night whirls in snow over towers of dreamers,
whiteness hushes the town.
PART III
188
As evening falls,
And the yellow lights leap one by one
Along high walls;
And along black streets that glisten as if with rain,
The muted city seems
Like one in a restless sleep, who lies and dreams
Of vague desires, and memories, and half-forgotten pain . . .
Along dark veins, like lights the quick dreams run,
Flash, are extinguished, flash again,
To mingle and glow at last in the enormous brain
And die away . . .
As evening falls,
A dream dissolves these insubstantial walls,—
A myriad secretly gliding lights lie bare . . .
The lovers rise, the harlot combs her hair,
The dead man's face grows blue in the dizzy lamplight,
The watchman climbs the stair . . .
The bank defaulter leers at a chaos of figures,
And runs among them, and is beaten down;
The sick man coughs and hears the chisels ringing;
The tired clown
Sees the enormous crowd, a million faces,
Motionless in their places,
Ready to laugh, and seize, and crush and tear . . .
The dancer smooths her hair,
Laces her golden slippers, and runs through the door
To dance once more,
Hearing swift music like an enchantment rise,
Feeling the praise of a thousand eyes.
As darkness falls
The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls
Tremble and glow with the lives within them moving,
Moving like music, secret and rich and warm.
How shall we live tonight? Where shall we turn?
To what new light or darkness yearn?
A thousand winding stairs lead down before us;
And one by one in myriads we descend
By lamplit flowered walls, long balustrades,
Through half-lit halls which reach no end.
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II. THE SCREEN MAIDEN
You read—what is it, then that you are reading?
What music moves so silently in your mind?
Your bright hand turns the page.
I watch you from my window, unsuspected:
You move in an alien land, a silent age . . .
. . . The poet—what was his name—? Tokkei—Tokkei—
The poet walked alone in a cold late rain,
And thought his grief was like the crying of sea-birds;
For his lover was dead, he never would love again.
Rain in the dreams of the mind—rain forever—
Rain in the sky of the heart—rain in the willows—
But then he saw this face, this face like flame,
This quiet lady, this portrait by Hiroshigi;
And took it home with him; and with it came
What unexpected changes, subtle as weather!
The dark room, cold as rain,
Grew faintly fragrant, stirred with a stir of April,
Warmed its corners with light again,
And smoke of incense whirled about this portrait,
And the quiet lady there,
So young, so quietly smiling, with calm hands,
Seemed ready to loose her hair,
And smile, and lean from the picture, or say one word,
The word already clear,
Which seemed to rise like light between her eyelids . .
He held his breath to hear,
And smiled for shame, and drank a cup of wine,
And held a candle, and searched her face
Through all the little shadows, to see what secret
Might give so warm a grace . . .
Was it the quiet mouth, restrained a little?
The eyes, half-turned aside?
The jade ring on her wrist, still almost swinging? . . .
190
The secret was denied,
He chose his favorite pen and drew these verses,
And slept; and as he slept
A dream came into his heart, his lover entered,
And chided him, and wept.
And in the morning, waking, he remembered,
And thought the dream was strange.
Why did his darkened lover rise from the garden?
He turned, and felt a change,
As if a someone hidden smiled and watched him . . .
Yet there was only sunlight there.
Until he saw those young eyes, quietly smiling,
And held his breath to stare,
And could have sworn her cheek had turned—a little . . .
Had slightly turned away . . .
Sunlight dozed on the floor . . . He sat and wondered,
Nor left his room that day.
And that day, and for many days thereafter,
He sat alone, and thought
No lady had ever lived so beautiful
As Hiroshigi wrought . . .
Or if she lived, no matter in what country,
By what far river or hill or lonely sea,
He would look in every face until he found her . . .
There was no other as fair as she.
And before her quiet face he burned soft incense,
And brought her every day
Boughs of the peach, or almond, or snow-white cherry,
And somehow, she seemed to say,
That silent lady, young, and quietly smiling,
That she was happy there;
And sometimes, seeing this, he started to tremble,
And desired to touch her hair,
191
To lay his palm along her hand, touch faintly
With delicate finger-tips
The ghostly smile that seemed to hover and vanish
Upon her lips . . .
Until he knew he loved this quiet lady;
And night by night a dread
Leered at his dreams, for he knew that Hiroshigi
Was many centuries dead,—
And the lady, too, was dead, and all who knew her . .
Dead, and long turned to dust . . .
The thin moon waxed and waned, and left him paler,
The peach leaves flew in a gust,
And he would surely have died; but there one day
A wise man, white with age,
Stared at the portrait, and said, 'This Hiroshigi
Knew more than archimage,—
Cunningly drew the body, and called the spirit,
Till partly it entered there . . .
Sometimes, at death, it entered the portrait wholly . .
Do all I say with care,
And she you love may come to you when you call her . . . '
So then this ghost, Tokkei,
Ran in the sun, bought wine of a hundred merchants,
And alone at the end of day
Entered the darkening room, and faced the portrait,
And saw the quiet eyes
Gleaming and young in the dusk, and held the wine-cup,
And knelt, and did not rise,
And said, aloud, 'Lo-san, will you drink this wine?'
Said it three times aloud.
And at the third the faint blue smoke of incense
Rose to the walls in a cloud,
And the lips moved faintly, and the eyes, and the calm hands stirred;
And suddenly, with a sigh,
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The quiet lady came slowly down from the portrait,
And stood, while worlds went by,
And lifted her young white hands and took the wine cup;
And the poet trembled, and said,
'Lo-san, will you stay forever?'—'Yes, I will stay.'—
'But what when I am dead?'
'When you are dead your spirit will find my spirit,
And then we shall die no more.'
Music came down upon them, and spring returning,
They remembered worlds before,
And years went over the earth, and over the sea,
And lovers were born and spoke and died,
But forever in sunlight went these two immortal,
Tokkei and the quiet bride . . .
III. HAUNTED CHAMBERS
The lamplit page is turned, the dream forgotten;
The music changes tone, you wake, remember
Deep worlds you lived before,—deep worlds hereafter
Of leaf on falling leaf, music on music,
Rain and sorrow and wind and dust and laughter.
Helen was late and Miriam came too soon.
Joseph was dead, his wife and children starving.
Elaine was married and soon to have a child.
You dreamed last night of fiddler-crabs with fiddles;
They played a buzzing melody, and you smiled.
To-morrow—what? And what of yesterday?
Through soundless labyrinths of dream you pass,
Through many doors to the one door of all.
Soon as it's opened we shall hear a music:
Or see a skeleton fall . . .
We walk with you. Where is it that you lead us?
We climb the muffled stairs beneath high lanterns.
We descend again. We grope through darkened cells.
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You say: this darkness, here, will slowly kill me.
It creeps and weighs upon me . . . Is full of bells.
This is the thing remembered I would forget—
No matter where I go, how soft I tread,
This windy gesture menaces me with death.
Fatigue! it says, and points its finger at me;
Touches my throat and stops my breath.
My fans—my jewels—the portrait of my husband—
The torn certificate for my daughter's grave—
These are but mortal seconds in immortal time.
They brush me, fade away: like drops of water.
They signify no crime.
Let us retrace our steps: I have deceived you:
Nothing is here I could not frankly tell you:
No hint of guilt, or faithlessness, or threat.
Dreams—they are madness. Staring eyes—illusion.
Let us return, hear music, and forget . . .
IV. ILLICIT
Of what she said to me that night—no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me—;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,—
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution—only hung there,
And left me morbid . . . Where, then, had I heard it? . . .
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust', it said, 'dust . . . and dust . . . and sunlight . .
A cold clear April evening . . . snow, bedraggled,
Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass . . .
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go . . . '
These were the phrases . . . but behind, beneath them
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A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow
I stood and guessed . . . Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers—
And had I danced with her,—upon this music?
Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood?—No—much recenter than that.
You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow,—leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound:
Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it—
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted,
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars—;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
An April afternoon, eight years ago—
Or was it nine?—no matter—call it nine—
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And, she who played the same thing later, playing.
She played this tune. And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap. She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.
'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you . . .
If she should ever know, or even guess it,—
What would she do?—Listen!—I'm not absurd . . .
I'm sure of it. If you had eyes, for women—
To understand them—which you've never had—
You'd know it too . . . ' So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant . . . while her fingers, softly,
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Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure . . .
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it—nor conclude?
It paused . . . and wandered . . . paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,—
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go . . .
Well, April passed with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains . . .
And she was right: and Miriam found it out . . .
And after that, when eight deep years had passed—
Or nine—we met once more,—by accident . . .
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune?—Or what, then, was intended? . . .
V. MELODY IN A RESTAURANT
The cigarette-smoke loops and slides above us,
Dipping and swirling as the waiter passes;
You strike a match and stare upon the flame.
The tiny fire leaps in your eyes a moment,
And dwindles away as silently as it came.
This melody, you say, has certain voices—
They rise like nereids from a river, singing,
Lift white faces, and dive to darkness again.
Wherever you go you bear this river with you:
A leaf falls,—and it flows, and you have pain.
So says the tune to you—but what to me?
What to the waiter, as he pours your coffee,
The violinist who suavely draws his bow?
That man, who folds his paper, overhears it.
A thousand dreams revolve and fall and flow.
Some one there is who sees a virgin stepping
Down marble stairs to a deep tomb of roses:
At the last moment she lifts remembering eyes.
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Green leaves blow down. The place is checked with shadows.
A long-drawn murmur of rain goes down the skies.
And oaks are stripped and bare, and smoke with lightning:
And clouds are blown and torn upon high forests,
And the great sea shakes its walls.
And then falls silence . . . And through long silence falls
This melody once more:
'Down endless stairs she goes, as once before.'
So says the tune to him—but what to me?
What are the worlds I see?
What shapes fantastic, terrible dreams? . . .
I go my secret way, down secret alleys;
My errand is not so simple as it seems.
VI. PORTRAIT OF ONE DEAD
This is the house. On one side there is darkness,
On one side there is light.
Into the darkness you may lift your lanterns—
O, any number—it will still be night.
And here are echoing stairs to lead you downward
To long sonorous halls.
And here is spring forever at these windows,
With roses on the walls.
This is her room. On one side there is music—
On one side not a sound.
At one step she could move from love to silence,
Feel myriad darkness coiling round.
And here are balconies from which she heard you,
Your steady footsteps on the stair.
And here the glass in which she saw your shadow
As she unbound her hair.
Here is the room—with ghostly walls dissolving—
The twilight room in which she called you 'lover';
And the floorless room in which she called you 'friend.'
So many times, in doubt, she ran between them!—
Through windy corridors of darkening end.
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Here she could stand with one dim light above her
And hear far music, like a sea in caverns,
Murmur away at hollowed walls of stone.
And here, in a roofless room where it was raining,
She bore the patient sorrow of rain alone.
Your words were walls which suddenly froze around her.
Your words were windows,—large enough for moonlight,
Too small to let her through.
Your letters—fragrant cloisters faint with music.
The music that assuaged her there was you.
How many times she heard your step ascending
Yet never saw your face!
She heard them turn again, ring slowly fainter,
Till silence swept the place.
Why had you gone? . . . The door, perhaps, mistaken . . .
You would go elsewhere. The deep walls were shaken.
A certain rose-leaf—sent without intention—
Became, with time, a woven web of fire—
She wore it, and was warm.
A certain hurried glance, let fall at parting,
Became, with time, the flashings of a storm.
Yet, there was nothing asked, no hint to tell you
Of secret idols carved in secret chambers
From all you did and said.
Nothing was done, until at last she knew you.
Nothing was known, till, somehow, she was dead.
How did she die?—You say, she died of poison.
Simple and swift. And much to be regretted.
You did not see her pass
So many thousand times from light to darkness,
Pausing so many times before her glass;
You did not see how many times she hurried
To lean from certain windows, vainly hoping,
Passionate still for beauty, remembered spring.
You did not know how long she clung to music,
You did not hear her sing.
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Did she, then, make the choice, and step out bravely
From sound to silence—close, herself, those windows?
Or was it true, instead,
That darkness moved,—for once,—and so possessed her? . . .
We'll never know, you say, for she is dead.
VII. PORCELAIN
You see that porcelain ranged there in the window—
Platters and soup-plates done with pale pink rosebuds,
And tiny violets, and wreaths of ivy?
See how the pattern clings to the gleaming edges!
They're works of art—minutely seen and felt,
Each petal done devoutly. Is it failure
To spend your blood like this?
Study them . . . you will see there, in the porcelain,
If you stare hard enough, a sort of swimming
Of lights and shadows, ghosts within a crystal—
My brain unfolding! There you'll see me sitting
Day after day, close to a certain window,
Looking down, sometimes, to see the people . . .
Sometimes my wife comes there to speak to me . . .
Sometimes the grey cat waves his tail around me . . .
Goldfish swim in a bowl, glisten in sunlight,
Dilate to a gorgeous size, blow delicate bubbles,
Drowse among dark green weeds. On rainy days,
You'll see a gas-light shedding light behind me—
An eye-shade round my forehead. There I sit,
Twirling the tiny brushes in my paint-cups,
Painting the pale pink rosebuds, minute violets,
Exquisite wreaths of dark green ivy leaves.
On this leaf, goes a dream I dreamed last night
Of two soft-patterned toads—I thought them stones,
Until they hopped! And then a great black spider,—
Tarantula, perhaps, a hideous thing,—
It crossed the room in one tremendous leap.
Here,—as I coil the stems between two leaves,—
It is as if, dwindling to atomy size,
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I cried the secret between two universes . . .
A friend of mine took hasheesh once, and said
Just as he fell asleep he had a dream,—
Though with his eyes wide open,—
And felt, or saw, or knew himself a part
Of marvelous slowly-wreathing intricate patterns,
Plane upon plane, depth upon coiling depth,
Amazing leaves, folding one on another,
Voluted grasses, twists and curves and spirals—
All of it darkly moving . . . as for me,
I need no hasheesh for it—it's too easy!
Soon as I shut my eyes I set out walking
In a monstrous jungle of monstrous pale pink roseleaves,
Violets purple as death, dripping with water,
And ivy-leaves as big as clouds above me.
Here, in a simple pattern of separate violets—
With scalloped edges gilded—here you have me
Thinking of something else. My wife, you know,—
There's something lacking—force, or will, or passion,
I don't know what it is—and so, sometimes,
When I am tired, or haven't slept three nights,
Or it is cloudy, with low threat of rain,
I get uneasy—just like poplar trees
Ruffling their leaves—and I begin to think
Of poor Pauline, so many years ago,
And that delicious night. Where is she now?
I meant to write—but she has moved, by this time,
And then, besides, she might find out I'm married.
Well, there is more—I'm getting old and timid—
The years have gnawed my will. I've lost my nerve!
I never strike out boldly as I used to—
But sit here, painting violets, and remember
That thrilling night. Photographers, she said,
Asked her to pose for them; her eyes and forehead,—
Dark brown eyes, and a smooth and pallid forehead,—
Were thought so beautiful.—And so they were.
Pauline . . . These violets are like words remembered . . .
Darling! she whispered . . . Darling! . . . Darling! . . . Darling!
Well, I suppose such days can come but once.
Lord, how happy we were! . . .
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Here, if you only knew it, is a story—
Here, in these leaves. I stopped my work to tell it,
And then, when I had finished, went on thinking:
A man I saw on a train . . . I was still a boy . . .
Who killed himself by diving against a wall.
Here is a recollection of my wife,
When she was still my sweetheart, years ago.
It's funny how things change,—just change, by growing,
Without an effort . . . And here are trivial things,—
A chill, an errand forgotten, a cut while shaving;
A friend of mine who tells me he is married . . .
Or is that last so trivial? Well, no matter!
This is the sort of thing you'll see of me,
If you look hard enough. This, in its way,
Is a kind of fame. My life arranged before you
In scrolls of leaves, rosebuds, violets, ivy,
Clustered or wreathed on plate and cup and platter . . .
Sometimes, I say, I'm just like John the Baptist—
You have my head before you . . . on a platter.
VIII. COFFINS: INTERLUDE
Wind blows. Snow falls. The great clock in its tower
Ticks with reverberant coil and tolls the hour:
At the deep sudden stroke the pigeons fly . . .
The fine snow flutes the cracks between the flagstones.
We close our coats, and hurry, and search the sky.
We are like music, each voice of it pursuing
A golden separate dream, remote, persistent,
Climbing to fire, receding to hoarse despair.
What do you whisper, brother? What do you tell me? . . .
We pass each other, are lost, and do not care.
One mounts up to beauty, serenely singing,
Forgetful of the steps that cry behind him;
One drifts slowly down from a waking dream.
One, foreseeing, lingers forever unmoving . . .
Upward and downward, past him there, we stream.
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One has death in his eyes: and walks more slowly.
Death, among jonquils, told him a freezing secret.
A cloud blows over his eyes, he ponders earth.
He sees in the world a forest of sunlit jonquils:
A slow black poison huddles beneath that mirth.
Death, from street to alley, from door to window,
Cries out his news,—of unplumbed worlds approaching,
Of a cloud of darkness soon to destroy the tower.
But why comes death,—he asks,—in a world so perfect?
Or why the minute's grey in the golden hour?
Music, a sudden glissando, sinister, troubled,
A drift of wind-torn petals, before him passes
Down jangled streets, and dies.
The bodies of old and young, of maimed and lovely,
Are slowly borne to earth, with a dirge of cries.
Down cobbled streets they come; down huddled stairways;
Through silent halls; through carven golden doorways;
From freezing rooms as bare as rock.
The curtains are closed across deserted windows.
Earth streams out of the shovel; the pebbles knock.
Mary, whose hands rejoiced to move in sunlight;
Silent Elaine; grave Anne, who sang so clearly;
Fugitive Helen, who loved and walked alone;
Miriam too soon dead, darkly remembered;
Childless Ruth, who sorrowed, but could not atone;
Jean, whose laughter flashed over depths of terror,
And Eloise, who desired to love but dared not;
Doris, who turned alone to the dark and cried,—
They are blown away like windflung chords of music,
They drift away; the sudden music has died.
And one, with death in his eyes, comes walking slowly
And sees the shadow of death in many faces,
And thinks the world is strange.
He desires immortal music and spring forever,
And beauty that knows no change.
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IX. CABARET
We sit together and talk, or smoke in silence.
You say (but use no words) 'this night is passing
As other nights when we are dead will pass . . .'
Perhaps I misconstrue you: you mean only,
'How deathly pale my face looks in that glass . . .'
You say: 'We sit and talk, of things important . . .
How many others like ourselves, this instant,
Mark the pendulum swinging against the wall?
How many others, laughing, sip their coffee—
Or stare at mirrors, and do not talk at all? . . .
'This is the moment' (so you would say, in silence)
When suddenly we have had too much of laughter:
And a freezing stillness falls, no word to say.
Our mouths feel foolish . . . For all the days hereafter
What have we saved—what news, what tune, what play?
'We see each other as vain and futile tricksters,—
Posturing like bald apes before a mirror;
No pity dims our eyes . . .
How many others, like ourselves, this instant,
See how the great world wizens, and are wise? . . .'
Well, you are right . . . No doubt, they fall, these seconds . . .
When suddenly all's distempered, vacuous, ugly,
And even those most like angels creep for schemes.
The one you love leans forward, smiles, deceives you,
Opens a door through which you see dark dreams.
But this is momentary . . . or else, enduring,
Leads you with devious eyes through mists and poisons
To horrible chaos, or suicide, or crime . . .
And all these others who at your conjuration
Grow pale, feeling the skeleton touch of time,—
Or, laughing sadly, talk of things important,
Or stare at mirrors, startled to see their faces,
Or drown in the waveless vacuum of their days,—
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Suddenly, as from sleep, awake, forgetting
This nauseous dream; take up their accustomed ways,
Exhume the ghost of a joke, renew loud laughter,
Forget the moles above their sweethearts' eyebrows,
Lean to the music, rise,
And dance once more in a rose-festooned illusion
With kindness in their eyes . . .
They say (as we ourselves have said, remember)
'What wizardry this slow waltz works upon us!
And how it brings to mind forgotten things!'
They say 'How strange it is that one such evening
Can wake vague memories of so many springs!'
And so they go . . . In a thousand crowded places,
They sit to smile and talk, or rise to ragtime,
And, for their pleasures, agree or disagree.
With secret symbols they play on secret passions.
With cunning eyes they see
The innocent word that sets remembrance trembling,
The dubious word that sets the scared heart beating . . .
The pendulum on the wall
Shakes down seconds . . . They laugh at time, dissembling;
Or coil for a victim and do not talk at all.
X. LETTER
From time to time, lifting his eyes, he sees
The soft blue starlight through the one small window,
The moon above black trees, and clouds, and Venus,—
And turns to write . . . The clock, behind ticks softly.
It is so long, indeed, since I have written,—
Two years, almost, your last is turning yellow,—
That these first words I write seem cold and strange.
Are you the man I knew, or have you altered?
Altered, of course—just as I too have altered—
And whether towards each other, or more apart,
We cannot say . . . I've just re-read your letter—
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Not through forgetfulness, but more for pleasure—
Pondering much on all you say in it
Of mystic consciousness—divine conversion—
The sense of oneness with the infinite,—
Faith in the world, its beauty, and its purpose . . .
Well, you believe one must have faith, in some sort,
If one's to talk through this dark world contented.
But is the world so dark? Or is it rather
Our own brute minds,—in which we hurry, trembling,
Through streets as yet unlighted? This, I think.
You have been always, let me say, "romantic,"—
Eager for color, for beauty, soon discontented
With a world of dust and stones and flesh too ailing:
Even before the question grew to problem
And drove you bickering into metaphysics,
You met on lower planes the same great dragon,
Seeking release, some fleeting satisfaction,
In strange aesthetics . . . You tried, as I remember,
One after one, strange cults, and some, too, morbid,
The cruder first, more violent sensations,
Gorgeously carnal things, conceived and acted
With splendid animal thirst . . . Then, by degrees,—
Savoring all more delicate gradations
In all that hue and tone may play on flesh,
Or thought on brain,—you passed, if I may say so,
From red and scarlet through morbid greens to mauve.
Let us regard ourselves, you used to say,
As instruments of music, whereon our lives
Will play as we desire: and let us yield
These subtle bodies and subtler brains and nerves
To all experience plays . . . And so you went
From subtle tune to subtler, each heard once,
Twice or thrice at the most, tiring of each;
And closing one by one your doors, drew in
Slowly, through darkening labyrinths of feeling,
Towards the central chamber . . . Which now you've reached.
What, then's, the secret of this ultimate chamber—
Or innermost, rather? If I see it clearly
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It is the last, and cunningest, resort
Of one who has found this world of dust and flesh,—
This world of lamentations, death, injustice,
~ Conrad Potter Aiken
134:Ashtaroth: A Dramatic Lyric
Dramatis Personae
HUGO, a Norman Baron and a Scholar.
ERIC, a friend of Hugo's.
THURSTON, |
EUSTACE, |
RALPH, | Followers of Hugo.
HENRY, a Page.
LUKE, |
HUBERT, | Monks living in a Norman Chapel.
BASIL, Abbot of a Convent on the Rhine.
CYRIL, a Monk of the same Convent.
OSRIC, a Norwegian Adventurer, and formerly a Corsair.
RUDOLPH, an Outlawed Count, and the Captain of a Band of Robbers.
DAGOBERT, the Captain of some predatory Soldiers called "Free Lances".
HAROLD, a Danish Knight.
ORION.
THORA,
AGATHA,
ELSPETH, a Nurse of Thora's,
URSULA, Abbess of the Convent on the Rhine, |
NUNS, etc.
| Women.
Men-at-arms, Soldiers, and Robbers; Monks, Friars, and Churchmen, Spirits,
etc.
SCENE — A Castle in Normandy.
A Study in a Tower; HUGO seated at a table covered with maps and charts
of the heavens, astronomical instruments, books, manuscripts,
Enter HENRY, a Page.
Hugo:
Well, boy, what is it?
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Henry: The feast is spread.
Hugo:
Why tarry the guests for me?
Let Eric sit at the table's head;
Alone I desire to be. [Henry goes out.]
What share have I at their festive board?
Their mirth I can only mar;
To me no pleasure their cups afford,
Their songs on my silence jar.
With an aching eye and a throbbing brain,
And yet with a hopeful heart,
I must toil and strain with the planets again
When the rays of the sun depart;
He who must needs with the topers tope,
And the feasters feast in the hall,
How can he hope with a matter to cope
That is immaterial?
Orion:
He who his appetite stints and curbs,
Shut up in the northern wing,
With his rye-bread flavoured with bitter herbs,
And his draught from the tasteless spring,
Good sooth, he is but a sorry clown.
There are some good things upon earth —
Pleasure and power and fair renown,
And wisdom of worldly worth!
There is wisdom in follies that charm the sense,
In follies that light the eyes,
But the folly to wisdom that makes pretence
Is alone by the fool termed wise.
Hugo:
Thy speech, Orion, is somewhat rude;
Perchance, having jeer'd and scoff'd
To thy fill, thou wilt curb thy jeering mood;
I wot thou hast served me oft.
This plan of the skies seems fairly traced;
What errors canst thou detect?
28
Orion:
Nay, the constellations are misplaced,
And the satellites incorrect;
Leave the plan to me; you have time to seek
An hour of needful rest,
The night is young and the planets are weak;
See, the sun still reddens the west.
Hugo:
I fear I shall sleep too long.
Orion: If you do
It matters not much; the sky
Is cloudy, the stars will be faint and few;
Now, list to my lullaby.
[Hugo reclines on a couch.]
(Sings.)
Still the darkling skies are red,
Though the day-god's course is run;
Heavenly night-lamps overhead
Flash and twinkle one by one.
Idle dreamer — earth-born elf!
Vainly grasping heavenly things,
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
From the tree of knowledge first,
Since his parents pluck'd the fruit,
Man, with partial knowledge curs'd,
Of the tree still seeks the root;
Musty volumes crowd thy shelf —
Which of these true knowledge brings?
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
Will the stars from heaven descend?
Can the earth-worm soar and rise?
Can the mortal comprehend
Heaven's own hallow'd mysteries?
Greed and glory, power and pelf —
These are won by clowns and kings;
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
29
With thy vain imaginings?
Sow and reap, and toil and spin;
Eat and drink, and dream and die;
Man may strive, yet never win,
And I laugh the while and cry —
Idle dreamer, earth-born elf!
Vainly grasping heavenly things,
Wherefore weariest thou thyself
With thy vain imaginings?
He sleeps, and his sleep appears serene,
Whatever dreams it has brought him —
[Looks at the plans.]
If he knows what those hieroglyphics mean,
He's wiser than one who taught him.
Why does he number the Pole-star thus?
Or the Pleiades why combine?
And what is he doing with Sirius,
In the devil's name or in mine?
Man thinks, discarding the beaten track,
That the sins of his youth are slain,
When he seeks fresh sins, but he soon comes back
To his old pet sins again.
SCENE — The Same.
HUGO waking, ORION seated near him. Daybreak.
Hugo:
Oh, weary spirit! oh, cloudy eyes!
Oh, heavy and misty brain!
Yon riddle that lies 'twixt earth and skies,
Ye seek to explore in vain!
See, the east is grey; put those scrolls away,
And hide them far from my sight;
I will toil and study no more by day,
I will watch no longer by night;
I have labour'd and long'd, and now I seem
No nearer the mystic goal;
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Orion, I fain would devise some scheme
To quiet this restless soul;
To distant climes I would fain depart —
I would travel by sea or land.
Orion:
Nay, I warn'd you of this, "Short life, long art",
The proverb, though stale, will stand;
Full many a sage from youth to age
Has toil'd to obtain what you
Would master at once. In a pilgrimage,
Forsooth, there is nothing new;
Though virtue, I ween, in change of scene,
And vigour in change of air,
Will always be, and has always been,
And travel is a tonic rare.
Still, the restless, discontented mood
For the time alone is eased;
It will soon return with hunger renew'd,
And appetite unappeased.
Nathless I could teach a shorter plan
To win that wisdom you crave,
That lore that is seldom attain'd by man
From the cradle down to the grave.
Hugo:
Such lore I had rather do without,
It hath nothing mystic nor awful
In my eye. Nay, I despise and doubt
The arts that are term'd unlawful;
'Twixt science and magic the line lies plain,
I shall never wittingly pass it;
There is now no compact between us twain.
Orion: But an understanding tacit.
You have prospered much since the day we met;
You were then a landless knight;
You now have honour and wealth, and yet
I never can serve you right.
Hugo:
Enough; we will start this very day,
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Thurston, Eric, and I,
And the baffled visions will pass away,
And the restless fires will die.
Orion:
Till the fuel expires that feeds those fires
They smoulder and live unspent;
Give a mortal all that his heart desires,
He is less than ever content.
SCENE — A Cliff on the Breton Coast, Overhanging the Sea.
HUGO.
Hugo:
Down drops the red sun; through the gloaming
They burst — raging waves of the sea,
Foaming out their own shame — ever foaming
Their leprosy up with fierce glee;
Flung back from the stone, snowy fountains
Of feathery flakes, scarcely flag
Where, shock after shock, the green mountains
Explode on the iron-grey crag.
The salt spray with ceaseless commotion
Leaps round me. I sit on the verge
Of the cliff — 'twixt the earth and the ocean —
With feet overhanging the surge.
In thy grandeur, oh, sea! we acknowledge,
In thy fairness, oh, earth! we confess,
Hidden truths that are taught in no college,
Hidden songs that no parchments express.
Were they wise in their own generations,
Those sages and sagas of old?
They have pass'd; o'er their names and their nations
Time's billows have silently roll'd;
They have pass'd, leaving little to their children,
Save histories of a truth far from strict;
Or theories more vague and bewildering,
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Since three out of four contradict.
Lost labour! vain bookworms have sat in
The halls of dull pedants who teach
Strange tongues, the dead lore of the Latin,
The scroll that is god-like and Greek:
Have wasted life's springtide in learning
Things long ago learnt all in vain;
They are slow, very slow, in discerning
That book lore and wisdom are twain.
Pale shades of a creed that was mythic,
By time or by truth overcome,
Your Delphian temples and Pythic
Are ruins deserted and dumb;
Your Muses are hush'd, and your Graces
Are bruised and defaced; and your gods,
Enshrin'd and enthron'd in high places
No longer, are powerless as clods;
By forest and streamlet, where glisten'd
Fair feet of the Naiads that skimm'd
The shallows; where the Oreads listen'd,
Rose-lipp'd, amber-hair'd, marble-limb'd,
No lithe forms disport in the river,
No sweet faces peer through the boughs,
Elms and beeches wave silent for ever,
Ever silent the bright water flows.
(Were they duller or wiser than we are,
Those heathens of old? Who shall say?
Worse or better? Thy wisdom, O "Thea
Glaucopis", was wise in thy day;
And the false gods alluring to evil,
That sway'd reckless votaries then,
Were slain to no purpose; they revel
Re-crowned in the hearts of us men.)
Dead priests of Osiris and Isis,
And Apis! that mystical lore,
Like a nightmare, conceived in a crisis
Of fever, is studied no more;
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Dead Magian! yon star-troop that spangles
The arch of yon firmament vast
Looks calm, like a host of white angels,
On dry dust of votaries past.
On seas unexplored can the ship shun
Sunk rocks? Can man fathom life's links,
Past or future, unsolved by Egyptian
Or Theban, unspoken by Sphinx?
The riddle remains still unravell'd
By students consuming night oil.
Oh, earth! we have toil'd, we have travail'd,
How long shall we travail and toil?
How long? The short life that fools reckon
So sweet, by how much is it higher
Than brute life? — the false gods still beckon,
And man, through the dust and the mire,
Toils onward, as toils the dull bullock,
Unreasoning, brutish, and blind,
With Ashtaroth, Mammon, and Moloch
In front, and Alecto behind.
The wise one of earth, the Chaldean,
Serves folly in wisdom's disguise;
And the sensual Epicurean,
Though grosser, is hardly less wise;
'Twixt the former, half pedant, half pagan,
And the latter, half sow and half sloth,
We halt, choose Astarte or Dagon,
Or sacrifice freely to both.
With our reason that seeks to disparage,
Brute instinct it fails to subdue;
With our false illegitimate courage,
Our sophistry, vain and untrue;
Our hopes that ascend so and fall so,
Our passions, fierce hates and hot loves,
We are wise (aye, the snake is wise also) —
Wise as serpents, NOT harmless as doves.
Some flashes, like faint sparks from heaven,
34
Come rarely with rushing of wings;
We are conscious at times we have striven,
Though seldom, to grasp better things;
These pass, leaving hearts that have falter'd,
Good angels with faces estranged,
And the skin of the Ethiop unalter'd,
And the spots of the leopard unchanged.
Oh, earth! pleasant earth! have we hanker'd
To gather thy flowers and thy fruits?
The roses are wither'd, and canker'd
The lilies, and barren the roots
Of the fig-tree, the vine, the wild olive,
Sharp thorns and sad thistles that yield
Fierce harvest — so WE live, and SO live
The perishing beasts of the field.
And withal we are conscious of evil
And good — of the spirit and the clod,
Of the power in our hearts of a devil,
Of the power in our souls of a God,
Whose commandments are graven in no cypher,
But clear as His sun — from our youth
One at least we have cherished — "An eye for
An eye, and a tooth for a tooth."
Oh, man! of thy Maker the image;
To passion, to pride, or to wealth,
Sworn bondsman, from dull youth to dim age,
Thy portion the fire or the filth,
Dross seeking, dead pleasure's death rattle
Thy memories' happiest song,
And thy highest hope — scarce a drawn battle
With dark desperation. How long?
Roar louder! leap higher! ye surf-beds,
And sprinkle your foam on the furze;
Bring the dreams that brought sleep to our turf-beds,
To camps of our long ago years,
With the flashing and sparkling of broadswords,
35
With the tossing of banners and spears,
With the trampling of hard hoofs on hard swards,
With the mingling of trumpets and cheers.
The gale has gone down; yet outlasting
The gale, raging waves of the sea,
Casting up their own foam, ever casting
Their leprosy up with wild glee,
Still storm; so in rashness and rudeness
Man storms through the days of his grace;
Yet man cannot fathom God's goodness,
Exceeding God's infinite space.
And coldly and calmly and purely
Grey rock and green hillock lie white
In star-shine dream-laden — so surely
Night cometh — so cometh the night
When we, too, at peace with our neighbour,
May sleep where God's hillocks are piled,
Thanking HIM for a rest from day's labour,
And a sleep like the sleep of a child!
SCENE — The Castle in Normandy.
THORA working at embroidery, ELSPETH spinning.
Thora (sings):
We severed in autumn early,
Ere the earth was torn by the plough;
The wheat and the oats and the barley
Are ripe for the harvest now.
We sunder'd one misty morning,
Ere the hills were dimm'd by the rain,
Through the flowers those hills adorning —
Thou comest not back again.
My heart is heavy and weary
With the weight of a weary soul;
36
The mid-day glare grows dreary,
And dreary the midnight scroll.
The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,
'Neath the load of the golden grain;
I sigh for a mate more fickle —
Thou comest not back again.
The warm sun riseth and setteth,
The night bringeth moistening dew,
But the soul that longeth forgetteth
The warmth and the moisture too;
In the hot sun rising and setting
There is naught save feverish pain;
There are tears in the night-dews wetting —
Thou comest not back again.
Thy voice in mine ear still mingles
With the voices of whisp'ring trees;
Thy kiss on my cheek still tingles
At each kiss of the summer breeze;
While dreams of the past are thronging
For substance of shades in vain,
I am waiting, watching, and longing —
Thou comest not back again.
Waiting and watching ever,
Longing and lingering yet,
Leaves rustle and corn-stalks quiver,
Winds murmur and waters fret;
No answer they bring, no greeting,
No speech save that sad refrain,
Nor voice, save an echo repeating —
He cometh not back again.
Elspeth:
Thine eldest sister is wedded to Max;
With Biorn, Hilda hath cast her lot.
If the husbands vanish'd, and left no tracks,
Would the wives have cause for sorrow, I wot?
Thora:
How well I remember that dreary ride;
37
How I sigh'd for the lands of ice and snow,
In the trackless wastes of the desert wide,
With the sun o'erhead and the sand below;
'Neath the scanty shades of the feathery palms,
How I sigh'd for the forest of sheltering firs,
Whose shadows environ'd the Danish farms,
Where I sang and sported in childish years.
On the fourteenth day of our pilgrimage
We stayed at the foot of a sandhill high;
Our fever'd thirst we could scarce assuage
At the brackish well that was nearly dry,
And the hot sun rose, and the hot sun set,
And we rode all the day through a desert land,
And we camp'd where the lake and the river met,
On sedge and shingle and shining sand:
Enfolded in Hugo's cloak I slept,
Or watch'd the stars while I lay awake;
And close to our feet the staghound crept,
And the horses were grazing beside the lake;
Now we own castles and serving men,
Lands and revenues. What of that?
Hugo the Norman was kinder then,
And happier was Thora of Armorat.
Elspeth:
Nay, I warn'd thee, with Norman sails unfurl'd
Above our heads, when we wished thee joy,
That men are the same all over the world,
They will worship only the newest toy;
Yet Hugo is kind and constant too,
Though somewhat given to studies of late;
Biorn is sottish, and Max untrue,
And worse than thine is thy sisters' fate.
But a shadow darkens the chamber door.
Enter THURSTON.
Thurston:
'Tis I, Lady Thora; our lord is near.
My horse being fresher, I rode before;
Both he and Eric will soon be here.
38
Thora:
Good Thurston, give me your hand. You are
Most welcome. What has delayed you thus?
Thurston:
Both by sea and land we have travell'd far,
Yet little of note has happened to us —
We were wreck'd on the shores of Brittany,
Near the coast of Morbihan iron-bound;
The rocks were steep and the surf ran high,
Thy kinsman, Eric, was well-nigh drown'd.
By a swarm of knaves we were next beset,
Who took us for corsairs; then released
By a Breton count, whose name I forget.
Now I go, by your leave, to tend my beast.
[He goes out.]
Elspeth:
That man is rude and froward of speech:
My ears are good, though my sight grows dim.
Thora:
Thurston is faithful. Thou canst not teach
Courtly nor servile manners to him.
SCENE — The Castle Hall.
THURSTON, RALPH, EUSTACE, and other followers of HUGO,
seated at a long table. HAROLD seated apart.
Thurston:
Who is that stranger, dark and tall,
On the wooden settle next to the wall —
Mountebank, pilgrim, or wandering bard?
Eustace:
To define his calling is somewhat hard;
Lady Thora has taken him by the hand
Because he has come from the Holy Land.
39
Pilgrims and palmers are all the rage
With her, since she shared in that pilgrimage
With Hugo. The stranger came yesterday,
And would have gone on, but she bade him stay.
Besides, he sings in the Danish tongue
The songs she has heard in her childhood sung.
That's all I know of him, good or bad;
In my own opinion he's somewhat mad.
You must raise your voice if you speak with him,
And he answers as though his senses were dim.
Thurston (to Harold):
Good-morrow, sir stranger.
Harold: Good-morrow, friend.
Thurston:
Where do you come from? and whither wend?
Harold:
I have travelled of late with the setting sun
At my back; and as soon as my task is done
I purpose to turn my face to the north —
Yet we know not what a day may bring forth.
Thurston:
Indeed we don't.
(To Eustace, aside): Nay, I know him now
By that ugly scar that crosses his brow;
And the less we say to him the better.
Your judgment is right to the very letter —
The man is mad.
Eustace: But harmless, I think;
He eats but little, eschews strong drink,
And only speaks when spoken to first.
Thurston:
Harmless or not, he was once the worst
And bitterest foe Lord Hugo had;
And yet his story is somewhat sad.
40
Eustace:
May I hear it?
Thurston: Nay, I never reveal
What concerns me not. Our lord may conceal
Or divulge at pleasure his own affairs, —
Not even his comrade Eric shares
His secrets; though Eric thinks him wise,
Which is more than I do, for I despise
That foolish science he learnt in Rome.
He dreams and mopes when he sits at home,
And now he's not much better abroad;
'Tis hard to follow so tame a lord.
'Twixt us two, he won't be worth a rush
If he will persist in his studies ——
Eustace: Hush!
Ralph has persuaded our guest to sing.
Thurston:
I have known the day when his voice would ring
Till the rafters echoed.
Eustace: 'Tis pleasant still,
Though far too feeble this hall to fill.
Harold (sings):
On the current, where the wide
Windings of the river
Eddy to the North Sea tide,
Shall I in my shallop glide,
As I have done at her side?
Never! never! never!
In the forest, where the firs,
Pines, and larches quiver
To the northern breeze that stirs,
Shall my lips be press'd to hers,
As they were in by-gone years?
Never! never! never!
41
In the battle on the plain,
Where the lance-shafts shiver,
And the sword-strokes fall like rain,
Shall I bear her scarf again
As I have done — not in vain?
Never! never! never!
In a fairer, brighter land,
Where the saints rest ever,
Shall I once more see her stand,
White, amidst a white-robed band,
Harp and palm-branch in her hand?
Never! never! never!
SCENE — The Same.
EUSTACE, THURSTON, and followers of HUGO. HAROLD.
Enter, by the hall door, HUGO, ERIC, and THORA.
Eustace (and others standing up):
Welcome, Lord Hugo!
Hugo: Welcome or not,
Thanks for your greeting all.
Ha, Eustace! what complaints hast thou got?
What grievances to recall?
Eustace:
Count William came with a numerous band,
Ere the snows began to fall,
And slew a buck on your lordship's land,
Within a league of the wall.
Hugo:
Count William has done to us no more
Than we to him. In his vineyard
Last summer, or later, maybe, a boar
Was slaughter'd by Thurston's whinyard.
42
Thurston:
Aye, Hugo! But William kept the buck,
I will wager marks a score,
Though the tale is new to me; and, worse luck,
You made me give back the boar.
Harold (advancing):
Lord Hugo!
Hugo: What! Art thou living yet?
I scarcely knew thee, Sir Dane!
And 'tis not so very long since we met.
Harold:
'Twill be long ere we meet again. (gives a letter)
This letter was traced by one now dead
In the Holy Land; and I
Must wait till his dying request is read,
And in his name ask the reply.
Thora (aside):
Who is that stranger, Hugo?
Hugo: By birth
He is a countryman of thine,
Thora. What writing is this on earth?
I can scarce decipher a line.
Harold:
The pen in the clutch of death works ill.
Hugo:
Nay, I read now; the letters run
More clearly.
Harold: Wilt grant the request?
Hugo: I will.
Harold:
Enough! Then my task is done. (He holds out his hand.)
Hugo, I go to a far-off land,
43
Wilt thou say, "God speed thee!" now?
Hugo:
Sir Harold, I cannot take thy hand,
Because of my ancient vow.
Harold:
Farewell, then.
Thora: Friend, till the morning wait.
On so wild a night as this
Thou shalt not go from my husband's gate;
The path thou wilt surely miss.
Harold:
I go. Kind lady, some future day
Thy care will requited be.
Thora:
Speak, Hugo, speak.
Hugo: He may go or stay,
It matters little to me.
[Harold goes out.]
Thora:
Husband, that man is ill and weak;
On foot he goes and alone
Through a barren moor in a night-storm bleak.
Eric:
Now I wonder where he has gone!
Hugo:
Indeed, I have not the least idea;
The man is certainly mad.
He wedded my sister, Dorothea,
And used her cruelly bad.
He was once my firmest and surest friend,
And once my deadliest foe;
But hate and friendship both find their end —
Now I heed not where he may go.
44
SCENE — A Chamber in the Castle.
HUGO, THORA, and ERIC.
Hugo:
That letter that came from Palestine,
By the hands of yon wandering Dane,
Will cost me a pilgrimage to the Rhine.
Thora:
Wilt thou travel so soon again?
Hugo:
I can scarce refuse the dying request
Of my comrade, Baldwin, now;
His bones are dust. May his soul find rest
He once made a foolish vow,
That at Englemehr, 'neath the watchful care
Of the Abbess, his child should stay,
For a season at least. To escort her there
I must start at the break of day.
Thora:
Is it Agatha that goes, or Clare?
Hugo:
Nay, Clare is dwelling in Spain
With her spouse.
Thora: 'Tis Agatha. She is fair,
I am told; but giddy and vain.
Eric:
Some musty tales on my memory grow
Concerning Count Baldwin's vow;
Thou knew'st his daughter?
Hugo: Aye, years ago.
I should scarcely know her now.
45
It seems, when her father's vow was made,
She was taken sorely ill;
Then he travell'd, and on his return was stay'd;
He could never his oath fulfil.
Eric:
If rightly I've heard, 'twas Agatha
That fled with some Danish knight —
I forget the name.
Hugo: Nay, she fled not far;
She returned again that night.
Thora:
For a nun, I fear, she is too self-willed.
Hugo:
That is no affair of mine.
My task is over, my word fulfilled,
Should I bring her safe to the Rhine.
Come, Thora, sing.
Thora: Nay, I cannot sing,
Nor would I now if I could.
Sing thou.
Hugo: I will, though my voice should bring
No sound save a discord rude.
(Sings.)
Where the storm in its wrath hath lighted,
The pine lies low in the dust;
And the corn is withered and blighted,
Where the fields are red with the rust;
Falls the black frost, nipping and killing,
Where its petals the violet rears,
And the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
The strong in their strength are shaken,
The wise in their wisdom fall;
And the bloom of beauty is taken —
Strength, wisdom, beauty, and all,
46
They vanish, their lot fulfilling,
Their doom approaches and nears,
But the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
'Tis the will of a Great Creator,
He is wise, His will must be done,
And it cometh sooner or later;
And one shall be taken, and one
Shall be left here, toiling and tilling,
In this vale of sorrows and tears,
Where the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
Tell me, mine own one, tell me,
The shadows of life and the fears
Shall neither daunt me nor quell me,
While I can avert thy tears:
Dost thou shrink, as I shrink, unwilling
To realise lonely years?
Since the wind, though tempered, is chilling
To the lamb despoiled by the shears.
Enter HENRY.
Henry:
My lord, Father Luke craves audience straight,
He has come on foot from the chapel;
Some stranger perished beside his gate
When the dawn began to dapple.
SCENE — A Chapel Not Very Far from Hugo's Castle.
HUGO, ERIC, and two Monks (LUKE and HUBERT). The dead body of HAROLD.
Luke:
When the dawn was breaking,
Came a faint sound, waking
Hubert and myself; we hurried to the door,
Found the stranger lying
47
At the threshold, dying.
Somewhere have I seen a face like his before.
Hugo:
Harold he is hight.
Only yester-night
From our gates he wander'd, in the driving hail;
Well his face I know,
Both as friend and foe;
Of my followers only Thurston knows his tale.
Luke:
Few the words he said,
Faint the signs he made,
Twice or thrice he groaned; quoth Hubert, "Thou hast sinn'd.
This is retribution,
Seek for absolution;
Answer me — then cast thy sorrows to the wind.
Do their voices reach thee,
Friends who failed to teach thee,
In thine earlier days, to sunder right from wrong?
Charges 'gainst thee cited,
Cares all unrequited,
Counsels spurned and slighted — do they press and throng?"
But he shook his head.
"'Tis not so," he said;
"They will scarce reproach me who reproached of yore.
If their counsels good,
Rashly I withstood;
Having suffered longer, I have suffered more."
"Do their curses stun thee?
Foes who failed to shun thee,
Stricken by rash vengeance, in some wild career,
As the barbed arrow
Cleaveth bone and marrow,
From those chambers narrow — do they pierce thine ear?"
And he made reply,
Laughing bitterly,
"Did I fear them living — shall I fear them dead?
Blood that I have spilt
Leaveth little guilt;
48
On the hand it resteth, scarcely on the head."
"Is there one whom thou
May'st have wronged ere now,
Since remorse so sorely weigheth down thine heart?
By some saint in heaven,
Sanctified and shriven,
Would'st thou be forgiven ere thy soul depart?"
Not a word he said,
But he bowed his head
Till his temples rested on the chilly sods
And we heard him groan —
"Ah! mine own, mine own!
If I had thy pardon I might ask for God's."
Hubert raised him slowly,
Sunrise, faint and holy,
Lit the dead face, placid as a child's might be.
May the troubled spirit,
Through Christ's saving merit,
Peace and rest inherit. Thus we sent for thee.
Hugo:
God o'erruleth fate.
I had cause for hate;
In this very chapel, years back, proud and strong,
Joined by priestly vows,
He became the spouse
Of my youngest sister, to her bitter wrong.
And he wrought her woe,
Making me his foe;
Not alone unfaithful — brutal, too, was he.
She had scarce been dead
Three months, ere he fled
With Count Baldwin's daughter, then betrothed to me.
Fortune straight forsook him,
Vengeance overtook him;
Heavy crimes will bring down heavy punishment.
All his strength was shatter'd,
Even his wits were scatter'd,
Half-deranged, half-crippled, wandering he went.
We are unforgiving
49
While our foes are living;
Yet his retribution weigh'd so heavily
That I feel remorse,
Gazing on his corpse,
For my rudeness when he left our gates to die.
And his grave shall be
'Neath the chestnut tree,
Where he met my sister many years ago;
Leave that tress of hair
On his bosom there —
Wrap the cerecloth round him! Eric, let us go.
SCENE — A Room in the Castle.
HUGO and ERIC. Early morning.
Hugo:
The morn is fair, the weary miles
Will shorten 'neath the summer's wiles;
Pomona in the orchard smiles,
And in the meadow, Flora!
And I have roused a chosen band
For escort through the troubled land;
And shaken Elspeth by the hand,
And said farewell to Thora.
Comrade and kinsman — for thou art
Comrade and kin to me — we part
Ere nightfall, if at once we start,
We gain the dead Count's castle.
The roads are fair, the days are fine,
Ere long I hope to reach the Rhine.
Forsooth, no friend to me or mine
Is that same Abbot Basil;
I thought he wronged us by his greed.
My father sign'd a foolish deed
For lack of gold in time of need,
And thus our lands went by us;
Yet wrong on our side may have been:
As far as my will goes, I ween,
'Tis past, the grudge that lay between
50
Us twain. Men call him pious —
And I have prosper'd much since then,
And gain'd for one lost acre ten;
And even the ancient house and glen
Rebought with purchase-money.
He, too, is wealthy; he has got
By churchly rights a fertile spot,
A land of corn and wine, I wot,
A land of milk and honey.
Now, Eric, change thy plans and ride
With us; thou hast no ties, no bride.
Eric:
Nay, ties I have, and time and tide,
Thou knowest, wait for no man;
And I go north; God's blessing shuns
The dwellings of forgetful sons,
That proverb he may read who runs,
In Christian lore or Roman.
My good old mother she hath heard,
For twelve long months, from me no word;
At thought of her my heart is stirr'd,
And even mine eyes grow moister.
Greet Ursula from me; her fame
Is known to all. A nobler dame,
Since days of Clovis, ne'er became
The inmate of a cloister.
Our paths diverge, yet we may go
Together for a league or so;
I, too, will join thy band below
When thou thy bugle windest.
[Eric goes out.]
Hugo:
From weaknesses we stand afar,
On us unpleasantly they jar;
And yet the stoutest-hearted are
The gentlest and the kindest.
My mother loved me tenderly;
Alas! her only son was I.
I shudder'd, but my lids were dry,
By death made orphan newly.
51
A braver man than me, I swear,
Who never comprehended fear,
Scarce names his mother, and the tear,
Unbidden, springs unruly.
SCENE — A Road on the Norman Frontiers.
HUGO, AGATHA, ORION, THURSTON, and armed attendants, riding slowly.
Agatha:
Sir Knight, what makes you so grave and glum?
At times I fear you are deaf or dumb,
Or both.
Hugo: And yet, should I speak the truth,
There is little in common 'twixt us, forsooth;
You would think me duller, and still more vain,
If I uttered the thoughts that fill my brain;
Since the matters with which my mind is laden
Would scarcely serve to amuse a maiden.
Agatha:
I am so foolish and you are so wise,
'Tis the meaning your words so ill disguise.
Alas! my prospects are sad enough:
I had rather listen to speeches rough
Than muse and meditate silently
On the coming loss of my liberty.
Sad hope to me can my future bring,
Yet, while I may, I would prattle and sing,
Though it only were to try and assuage
The dreariness of my pilgrimage.
Hugo:
Prattle and sing to your heart's content,
And none will offer impediment.
Agatha (sings):
We were playmates in childhood, my sister and I,
Whose playtime with childhood is done;
52
Through thickets where briar and bramble grew high,
Barefooted I've oft seen her run.
I've known her, when mists on the moorland hung white,
Bareheaded past nightfall remain;
She has followed a landless and penniless knight
Through battles and sieges in Spain.
But I pulled the flower, and shrank from the thorn,
Sought the sunshine, and fled from the mist;
My sister was born to face hardship with scorn —
I was born to be fondled and kiss'd.
Hugo (aside):
She has a sweet voice.
Orion: And a sweet face, too —
Be candid for once, and give her her due.
Agatha:
Your face grows longer, and still more long,
Sir Scholar! how did you like my song?
Hugo:
I thought it rather a silly one.
Agatha:
You are far from a pleasant companion.
SCENE — An Apartment in a Wayside Inn.
HUGO and AGATHA. Evening.
Hugo:
I will leave you now — we have talked enough,
And for one so tenderly reared and nursed
This journey is wearisome, perhaps, and rough.
Agatha: Will you not finish your story first?
53
Hugo:
I repent me that I began it now,
'Tis a dismal tale for a maiden's ears;
Your cheek is pale already, your brow
Is sad, and your eyes are moist with tears.
Agatha:
It may be thus, I am lightly vexed,
But the tears will lightly come and go;
I can cry one moment and laugh the next,
Yet I have seen terrors, as well you know.
I remember that flight through moss and fern,
The moonlit shadows, the hoofs that rolled
In fierce pursuit, and the ending stern,
And the hawk that left his prey on the wold.
Hugo:
I have sorrowed since that I left you there:
Your friends were close behind on the heath,
Though not so close as I thought they were.
(Aside.) Now I will not tell her of Harold's death.
Agatha:
'Tis true, I was justly punished, and men,
As a rule, of pity have little share;
Had I died you had cared but little then.
Hugo: But little then, yet now I should care
More than you think for. Now, good-night.
Tears still? Ere I leave you, child, alone,
Must I dry your cheeks?
Agatha: Nay, I am not quite
Such a child but what I can dry my own.
[Hugo goes out. Agatha retires.]
Orion (singing outside the window of Agatha's chamber):
'Neath the stems with blossoms laden,
'Neath the tendrils curling,
I, thy servant, sing, oh, maiden!
I, thy slave, oh, darling!
54
Lo! the shaft that slew the red deer,
At the elk may fly too.
Spare them not! The dead are dead, dear,
Let the living die too.
Where the wiles of serpent mingle,
And the looks of dove lie,
Where small hands in strong hands tingle,
Loving eyes meet lovely:
Where the harder natures soften,
And the softer harden —
Certes! such things have been often
Since we left Eve's garden.
Sweeter follies herald sadder
Sins — look not too closely;
Tongue of asp and tooth of adder
Under leaf of rose lie.
Warned, advised in vain, abandon
Warning and advice too,
Let the child lay wilful hand on
Den of cockatrice too.
I, thy servant, or thy master,
One or both — no matter;
If the former — firmer, faster,
Surer still the latter —
Lull thee, soothe thee with my singing,
Bid thee sleep, and ponder
On my lullabies still ringing
Through thy dreamland yonder.
SCENE — A Wooded Rising Ground, Near the Rhine.
HUGO and AGATHA resting under the trees. THURSTON, EUSTACE,
and followers a little apart. ORION. (Noonday.)
The Towers of the Convent in the distance.
Agatha:
I sit on the greensward, and hear the bird sing,
55
'Mid the thickets where scarlet and white blossoms cling;
And beyond the sweet uplands all golden with flower,
It looms in the distance, the grey convent tower.
And the emerald earth and the sapphire-hued sky
Keep telling me ever my spring has gone by;
Ah! spring premature, they are tolling thy knell,
In the wind's soft adieu, in the bird's sweet farewell.
Oh! why is the greensward with garlands so gay,
That I quail at the sight of my prison-house grey?
Oh! why is the bird's note so joyous and clear?
The caged bird must pine in a cage doubly drear.
Hugo:
May the lances of Dagobert harry their house,
If they coax or intimidate thee to take vows;
May the freebooters pillage their shrines, should they dare
Touch with their scissors thy glittering hair.
Our short and sweet journey now draws to an end,
And homeward my sorrowful way I must wend;
Oh, fair one! oh, loved one! I would I were free,
To squander my life in the greenwood with thee.
Orion (aside):
Ho! seeker of knowledge, so grave and so wise,
Touch her soft curl again — look again in her eyes;
Forget for the nonce musty parchments, and learn
How the slow pulse may quicken — the cold blood may burn.
Ho! fair, fickle maiden, so blooming and shy!
The old love is dead, let the old promise die!
Thou dost well, thou dost wise, take the word of Orion,
"A living dog always before a dead lion!"
Thurston:
Ye varlets, I would I knew which of ye burst
Our wine-skin — what, ho! must I perish with thirst!
Go, Henry, thou hast a glib tongue, go and ask
Thy lord to send Ralph to yon inn for a flask.
Henry:
Nay, Thurston, not so; I decline to disturb
56
Our lord for the present; go thou, or else curb
Thy thirst, or drink water, as I do.
Thurston: Thou knave
Of a page, dost thou wish me the colic to have?
Orion (aside):
That clown is a thoroughbred Saxon. He thinks
With pleasure on naught save hard blows and strong drinks;
In hell he will scarce go athirst if once given
An inkling of any good liquors in heaven.
Hugo:
Our Pontiff to manhood at Englemehr grew,
The priests there are many, the nuns are but few.
I love not the Abbot — 'tis needless to tell
My reason; but all of the Abbess speak well.
Agatha:
Through vineyards and cornfields beneath us, the Rhine
Spreads and winds, silver-white, in the merry sunshine;
And the air, overcharged with a subtle perfume,
Grows faint from the essence of manifold bloom.
Hugo:
And the tinkling of bells, and the bleating of sheep,
And the chaunt from the fields, where the labourers reap
The earlier harvest, comes faint on the breeze,
That whispers so faintly in hedgerows and trees.
Orion:
And a waggon wends slow to those turrets and spires,
To feed the fat monks and the corpulent friars;
It carries the corn, and the oil, and the wine,
The honey and milk from the shores of the Rhine.
The oxen are weary and spent with their load,
They pause, but the driver doth recklessly goad;
Up yon steep, flinty rise they have staggered and reeled,
Even devils may pity dumb beasts of the field.
57
Agatha (sings):
Oh! days and years departed,
Vain hopes, vain fears that smarted,
I turn to you sad-hearted —
I turn to you in tears!
Your daily sun shone brightly,
Your happy dreams came nightly,
Flowers bloomed and birds sang lightly,
Through all your hopes and fears!
You halted not, nor tarried,
Your hopes have all miscarried,
And even your fears are buried,
Since fear with hope must die.
You halted not, but hasted,
And flew past, childhood wasted,
And girlhood scarcely tasted,
Now womanhood is nigh.
Yet I forgive your wronging,
Dead seasons round me thronging,
With yearning and with longing,
I call your bitters sweet.
Vain longing, and vain yearning,
There now is no returning;
Oh! beating heart and burning,
Forget to burn and beat!
Oh! childish suns and showers,
Oh! girlish thorns and flowers,
Oh! fruitless days and hours,
Oh! groundless hopes and fears:
The birds still chirp and twitter,
And still the sunbeams glitter:
Oh! barren years and bitter,
Oh! bitter, barren years!
SCENE — The Summit of a Burning Mountain.
Night. A terrific storm. ORION (undisguised).
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Orion (sings):
From fathomless depths of abysses,
Where fires unquenchable burst,
From the blackness of darkness, where hisses
The brood of the serpent accurs'd;
From shrines where the hymns are the weeping
And wailing and gnashing of teeth,
Where the palm is the pang never sleeping,
Where the worm never dying is the wreath;
Where all fruits save wickedness wither,
Whence naught save despair can be gleaned —
Come hither! come hither! come hither!
Fall'n angel, fell sprite, and foul fiend.
Come hither! the bands are all broken,
And loosed in hell's innermost womb,
When the spell unpronounceable spoken
Divides the unspeakable gloom.
Evil Spirits approach. The storm increases.
Evil Spirits (singing):
We hear thee, we seek thee, on pinions
That darken the shades of the shade;
Oh! Prince of the Air, with dominions
Encompass'd, with powers array'd,
With majesty cloth'd as a garment,
Begirt with a shadowy shine,
Whose feet scorch the hill-tops that are meant
As footstools for thee and for thine.
Orion (sings):
How it swells through each pause of the thunder,
And mounts through each lull of the gust,
Through the crashing of crags torn asunder,
And the hurtling of trees in the dust;
With a chorus of loud lamentations,
With its dreary and hopeless refrain!
'Tis the cry of all tongues and all nations,
That suffer and shudder in vain.
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Evil Spirits (singing):
'Tis the cry of all tongues and all nations;
Our song shall chime in with their strain;
Lost spirits blend their wild exultations
With the sighing of mortals in pain.
Orion (sings):
With just light enough to see sorrows
In this world, and terrors beyond,
'Twixt the day's bitter pangs and the morrow's
Dread doubts, to despair and despond,
Man lingers through toils unavailing
For blessings that baffle his grasp;
To his cradle he comes with a wailing,
He goes to his grave with a gasp.
Evil Spirits (singing):
His birth is a weeping and wailing,
His death is a groan and a gasp;
O'er the seed of the woman prevailing,
Thus triumphs the seed of the asp.
SCENE — Chamber of a Wayside Inn.
HUGO sitting alone. Evening.
Hugo:
And now the parting is over,
The parting should end the pain;
And the restless heart may recover,
And so may the troubled brain.
I am sitting within the chamber
Whose windows look on the porch,
Where the roses cluster and clamber;
We halted here on our march
With her to the convent going,
And now I go back alone:
Ye roses, budding and blowing,
Ye heed not though she is flown.
60
I remember the girlish gesture,
The sportive and childlike grace,
With which she crumpled and pressed your
Rose leaves to her rose-hued face.
Shall I think on her ways hereafter —
On those flashes of mirth and grief,
On that April of tears and laughter,
On our parting, bitterly brief?
I remember the bell at sunrise,
That sounded so solemnly,
Bidding monk, and prelate, and nun rise;
I rose ere the sun was high.
Down the long, dark, dismal passage,
To the door of her resting-place
I went, on a farewell message,
I trod with a stealthy pace.
There was no one there to see us
When she opened her chamber door.
"Miserere, mei Deus",
Rang faint from the convent choir.
I remember the dark and narrow
And scantily-furnished room;
And the gleam, like a golden arrow —
The gleam that lighted the gloom.
One couch, one seat, and one table,
One window, and only one —
It stands in the eastern gable,
It faces the rising sun;
One ray shot through it, and one light
On doorway and threshold played.
She stood within in the sunlight,
I stood without in the shade.
I remember that bright form under
The sheen of that slanting ray.
I spoke — "For life we must sunder,
Let us sunder without delay.
Let us sever without preamble,
As brother and sister part,
For the sake of one pleasant ramble,
61
That will live in at least one heart."
Still the choir in my ears rang faintly,
In the distance dying away,
Sweetly and sadly and saintly,
Through arch and corridor grey!
And thus we parted for ever,
Between the shade and the shine;
Not as brother and sister sever —
I fondled her hands in mine.
Still the choir in my ears rang deaden'd
And dull'd, though audible yet;
And she redden'd, and paled, and redden'd —
Her lashes and lids grew wet.
Not as brother severs from sister,
My lips clung fast to her lips;
She shivered and shrank when I kissed her.
On the sunbeam drooped the eclipse.
I remember little of the parting
With the Abbot, down by the gate,
My men were eager for starting;
I think he pressed me to wait.
From the lands where convent and glebe lie,
From manors, and Church's right,
Where I fought temptation so feebly,
I, too, felt eager for flight.
Alas! the parting is over —
The parting, but not the pain —
Oh! sweet was the purple clover,
And sweet was the yellow grain;
And sweet were the woody hollows
On the summery Rhineward track;
But a winter untimely swallows
All sweets as I travel back.
Yet I feel assured, in some fashion,
Ere the hedges are crisp with rime,
I shall conquer this senseless passion,
'Twill yield to toil and to time.
I will fetter these fancies roaming;
Already the sun has dipped;
62
I will trim the lamps in the gloaming,
I will finish my manuscript.
Through the nightwatch unflagging study
Shall banish regrets perforce;
As soon as the east is ruddy
Our bugle shall sound "To Horse!"
SCENE — Another Wayside House, Near the Norman Frontier.
HUGO and ORION in a chamber. Evening.
Orion:
Your eyes are hollow, your step is slow,
And your cheek is pallid as though from toil,
Watching or fasting, by which I know
That you have been burning the midnight oil.
Hugo:
Aye, three nights running.
Orion: 'Twill never do
To travel all day, and study all night;
Will you join in a gallop through mist and dew,
In a flight that may vie with the eagle's flight?
Hugo:
With all my heart. Shall we saddle "Rollo"?
Orion:
Nay, leave him undisturb'd in his stall;
I have steeds he would hardly care to follow.
Hugo:
Follow, forsooth! he can lead them all.
Orion:
Touching his merits we will not quarrel;
But let me mount you for once; enough
Of work may await your favourite sorrel,
And the paths we must traverse to-night are rough.
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But first let me mix you a beverage,
To invigorate your enfeebled frame.
[He mixes a draught and hands it to Hugo.]
All human ills this draught can assuage.
Hugo:
It hisses and glows like liquid flame;
Say, what quack nostrum is this thou'st brewed?
Speak out; I am learned in the chemist's lore.
Orion:
There is nothing but what will do you good;
And the drugs are simples; 'tis hellebore,
Nepenthe, upas, and dragon's blood,
Absinthe, and mandrake, and mandragore.
Hugo:
I will drink it, although, by mass and rood,
I am just as wise as I was before.
SCENE — A Rough, Hilly Country.
HUGO and ORION riding at speed on black horses.
Mountains in the distance. Night.
Hugo:
See! the sparks that fly from our hoof-strokes make
A fiery track that gleams in our wake;
Like a dream the dim landscape past us shoots,
Our horses fly.
Orion: They are useful brutes,
Though somewhat skittish; the foam is whit'ning
The crest and rein of my courser "Lightning";
He pulls to-night, being short of work,
And takes his head with a sudden jerk;
Still heel and steady hand on the bit,
For that is "Tempest" on which you sit.
Hugo:
64
'Tis the bravest steed that ever I back'd;
Did'st mark how he crossed yon cataract?
From hoof to hoof I should like to measure
The space he clear'd.
Orion: He can clear at leisure
A greater distance. Observe the chasm
We are nearing. Ha! did you feel a spasm
As we flew over it?
Hugo: Not at all.
Orion:
Nathless 'twas an ugly place for a fall.
Hugo:
Let us try a race to yon mountain high,
That rears its dusky peak 'gainst the sky.
Orion:
I won't disparage your horsemanship,
But your steed will stand neither spur nor whip,
And is hasty and hard to steer at times.
We must travel far ere the midnight chimes;
We must travel back ere the east is grey.
Ho! "Lightning"! "Tempest"! Away! Away!
[They ride on faster.]
SCENE — A Peak in a Mountainous Country Overhanging a Rocky Pass.
HUGO and ORION on black horses. Midnight.
Hugo:
These steeds are sprung from no common race,
Their vigour seems to annihilate space;
What hast thou brought me here to see?
Orion:
No boisterous scene of unhallow'd glee,
No sabbat of witches coarse and rude,
65
But a mystic and musical interlude;
You have long'd to explore the scrolls of Fate,
Dismount, as I do, and listen and wait.
[They dismount.]
Orion (chanting):
Spirits of earth, and air, and sea,
Spirits unclean, and spirits untrue,
By the symbols three that shall nameless be,
One of your masters calls on you.
Spirits (chanting in the distance):
From the bowels of earth, where gleams the gold;
From the air where the powers of darkness hold
Their court; from the white sea-foam,
Whence the white rose-tinted goddess sprung,
Whom poets of every age have sung,
Ever we come! we come!
Hugo:
How close to our ears the thunder peals!
How the earth beneath us shudders and reels!
A Voice (chanting):
Woe to the earth! Where men give death!
And women give birth!
To the sons of Adam, by Cain or Seth!
Plenty and dearth!
To the daughters of Eve, who toil and spin,
Barren of worth!
Let them sigh, and sicken, and suffer sin!
Woe to the earth!
Hugo:
What is yon phantom large and dim
That over the mountain seems to swim?
Orion:
'Tis the scarlet woman of Babylon!
Hugo:
Whence does she come? Where has she gone?
66
And who is she?
Orion: You would know too much;
These are subjects on which I dare not touch;
And if I were to try and enlighten you,
I should probably fail, and possibly frighten you.
You had better ask some learned divine,
Whose opinion is p'rhaps worth as much as mine,
In his own conceit; and who, besides,
Could tell you the brand of the beast she rides.
What can you see in the valley yonder?
Speak out; I can hear you, for all the thunder.
Hugo:
I see four shadowy altars rise,
They seem to swell and dilate in size;
Larger and clearer now they loom,
Now fires are lighting them through the gloom.
A Voice (chanting):
The first a golden-hued fire shows,
A blood-red flame on the second glows,
The blaze on the third is tinged like the rose,
From the fourth a column of black smoke goes.
Orion:
Can you see all this?
Hugo: I see and hear;
The lights and hues are vivid and clear.
Spirits (sing at the first altar):
Hail, Mammon! while man buys and barters,
Thy kingdom in this world is sure;
Thy prophets thou hast and thy martyrs,
Great things in thy name they endure;
Thy fetters of gold crush the miser,
The usurer bends at thy shrine,
And the wealthier nations and the wiser
Bow with us at this altar of thine.
Spirits (sing at the second altar):
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Hail, Moloch! whose banner floats blood-red,
From pole to equator unfurl'd,
Whose laws redly written have stood red,
And shall stand while standeth this world;
Clad in purple, with thy diadem gory,
Thy sceptre the blood-dripping steel,
Thy subjects with us give thee glory,
With us at thine altar they kneel.
Spirits (sing at the third altar):
Hail, Sovereign! whose fires are kindled
By sparks from the bottomless pit,
Has thy worship diminish'd or dwindled?
Do the yokes of thy slaves lightly sit?
Nay, the men of all climes and all races
Are stirr'd by the flames that now stir us;
Then (as we do) they fall on their faces,
Crying, "Hear us! Oh! Ashtaroth, hear us!"
Spirits (all in chorus):
The vulture her carrion swallows,
Returns to his vomit the dog.
In the slough of uncleanliness wallows
The he-goat, and revels the hog.
Men are wise with their schools and their teachers,
Men are just with their creeds and their priests;
Yet, in spite of their pedants and preachers,
They backslide in footprints of beasts!
Hugo:
From the smoky altar there seems to come
A stifled murmur, a droning hum.
Orion:
With that we have nothing at all to do,
Or, at least, not now, neither I nor you;
Though some day or other, possibly
We may see it closer, both you and I;
Let us visit the nearest altar first,
Whence the yellow fires flicker and burst,
Like the flames from molten ore that spring;
We may stand in the pale of the outer ring,
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But forbear to trespass within the inner,
Lest the sins of the past should find out the sinner.
[They approach the first altar, and stand within the
outer circle which surrounds it, and near the inner.]
Spirits (sing):
Beneath us it flashes,
The glittering gold,
Though it turneth to ashes
And dross in the hold;
Yet man will endeavour,
By fraud or by strife,
To grasp it and never
To yield it with life.
Orion:
What can you see?
Hugo: Some decrepit shapes,
That are neither dwarfs, nor demons, nor apes;
In the hollow earth they appear to store
And rake together great heaps of ore.
Orion:
These are the gnomes, coarse sprites and rough;
Come on, of these we have seen enough.
[They approach second altar and stand as before.]
Spirits (singing):
Above us it flashes,
The glittering steel,
Though the red blood splashes
Where its victims reel;
Yet man will endeavour
To grapple the hilt,
And to wield the blade ever
Till his life be spilt.
Orion:
What see you now?
Hugo: A rocky glen,
69
A horrid jumble of fighting men,
And a face that somewhere I've seen before.
Orion:
Come on; there is naught worth seeing more,
Except the altar of Ashtaroth.
Hugo:
To visit that altar I am loth.
Orion:
Why so?
Hugo: Nay, I cannot fathom why,
But I feel no curiosity.
Orion:
Come on. Stand close to the inner ring,
And hear how sweetly these spirits sing.
[They approach third altar.]
Spirits (sing):
Around us it flashes,
The cestus of one
Born of white foam, that dashes
Beneath the white sun;
Let the mortal take heart, he
Has nothing to dare;
She is fair, Queen Astarte,
Her subjects are fair!
Orion:
What see you now, friend?
Hugo: Wood and wold,
And forms that look like the nymphs of old.
There is nothing here worth looking at twice.
I have seen enough.
Orion: You are far too nice;
Nevertheless, you must look again.
Those forms will fade.
70
Hugo: They are growing less plain.
They vanish. I see a door that seems
To open; a ray of sunlight gleams
From a window behind; a vision as fair
As the flush of dawn is standing there.
[He gazes earnestly.]
Orion (sings):
Higher and hotter the white flames glow,
And the adamant may be thaw'd like snow,
And the life for a single chance may go,
And the soul for a certainty.
Oh! vain and shallow philosopher,
Dost feel them quicken, dost feel them stir,
The thoughts that have stray'd again to HER
From whom thou hast sought to fly?
Lo! the furnace is heated till sevenfold;
Is thy brain still calm? Is thy blood still cold
To the curls that wander in ripples of gold,
On the shoulders of ivory?
Do the large, dark eyes, and the small, red mouth,
Consume thine heart with a fiery drouth,
Like the fierce sirocco that sweeps from the south,
When the deserts are parch'd and dry?
Aye, start and shiver and catch thy breath,
The sting is certain, the venom is death,
And the scales are flashing the fruit beneath,
And the fang striketh suddenly.
At the core the ashes are bitter and dead,
But the rind is fair and the rind is red,
It has ever been pluck'd since the serpent said,
Thou shalt NOT SURELY die.
[Hugo tries to enter the inner ring;
Orion holds him back; they struggle.]
Hugo:
Unhand me, slave! or quail to the rod!
Agatha! Speak! in the name of God!
71
[The vision disappears; the altars vanish.
Hugo falls insensible.]
SCENE — The Wayside House.
HUGO waking in his chamber. ORION unseen at first. Morning.
Hugo:
Vanish, fair and fatal vision!
Fleeting shade of fever'd sleep,
Chiding one whose indecision
Waking substance failed to keep;
Picture into life half starting,
As in life once seen before,
Parting somewhat sadly, parting
Slowly at the chamber door.
Were my waking senses duller?
Have I seen with mental eye
Light and shade, and warmth and colour,
Plainer than reality?
Sunlight that on tangled tresses
Every ripple gilds and tips;
Balm and bloom, and breath of kisses,
Warm on dewy, scarlet lips.
Dark eyes veiling half their splendour
'Neath their lashes' darker fringe,
Dusky, dreamy, deep and tender,
Passing smile and passing tinge;
Dimpling fast and flushing faster,
Ivory chin and coral cheek,
Pearly strings, by alabaster
Neck and arms made faint and weak;
Drooping, downcast lids enduring
Gaze of man unwillingly;
Sudden, sidelong gleams alluring,
Partly arch and partly shy.
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Do I bless or curse that beauty?
Am I longing, am I loth?
Is it passion, is it duty
That I strive with, one or both?
Round about one fiery centre
Wayward thoughts like moths revolve.
[He sees Orion.]
Ha! Orion, thou didst enter
Unperceived. I pray thee solve
These two questions: Firstly, tell me,
Must I strive for wrong or right?
Secondly, what things befell me —
Facts, or phantasies — last night?
Orion:
First, your strife is all a sham, you
Know as well as I which wins;
Second, waking sins will damn you,
Never mind your sleeping sins;
Both your questions thus I answer;
Listen, ere you seek or shun:
I at least am no romancer,
What you long for may be won.
Turn again and travel Rhineward,
Tread once more the flowery path.
Hugo:
Aye, the flowery path that, sinward
Pointing, ends in sin and wrath.
Orion:
Songs by love-birds lightly caroll'd,
Even the just man may allure.
Hugo:
To his shame; in this wise Harold
Sinn'd, his punishment was sure.
Orion:
Nay, the Dane was worse than you are,
Base and pitiless to boot;
73
Doubtless all are bad, yet few are
Cruel, false, and dissolute.
Hugo:
Some sins foreign to our nature
Seem; we take no credit when
We escape them.
Orion: Yet the creature,
Sin-created, lives to sin.
Hugo:
Be it so; come good, come evil,
Ride we to the Rhine again!
Orion (aside):
'Gainst the logic of the devil
Human logic strives in vain.
SCENE — A Camp Near the Black Forest.
RUDOLPH, OSRIC, DAGOBERT, and followers. ORION disguised as
one of the Free-lances. Mid-day.
Osric:
Now, by axe of Odin, and hammer of Thor,
And by all the gods of the Viking's war,
I swear we have quitted our homes in vain:
We have nothing to look to, glory nor gain.
Will our galley return to Norway's shore
With heavier gold, or with costlier store?
Will our exploits furnish the scald with a song?
We have travell'd too far, we have tarried too long.
Say, captains all, is there ever a village
For miles around that is worth the pillage?
Will it pay the costs of my men or yours
To harry the homesteads of German boors?
Have we cause for pride in our feats of arms
When we plunder the peasants or sack the farms?
I tell thee, Rudolph of Rothenstein,
74
That were thy soldiers willing as mine,
And I sole leader of this array,
I would give Prince Otto battle this day.
Dost thou call thy followers men of war?
Oh, Dagobert! thou whose ancestor
On the neck of the Caesar's offspring trod,
Who was justly surnamed "The Scourge of God".
Yet in flight lies safety. Skirmish and run
To forest and fastness, Teuton and Hun,
From the banks of the Rhine to the Danube's shore,
And back to the banks of the Rhine once more;
Retreat from the face of an armed foe,
Robbing garden and hen-roost where'er you go.
Let the short alliance betwixt us cease,
I and my Norsemen will go in peace!
I wot it never will suit with us,
Such existence, tame and inglorious;
I could live no worse, living single-handed,
And better with half my men disbanded.
Rudolph:
Jarl Osric, what would'st thou have me do?
'Gainst Otto's army our men count few;
With one chance of victory, fight, say I!
But not when defeat is a certainty.
If Rudiger joins us with his free-lances,
Our chance will be equal to many chances;
For Rudiger is both prompt and wary;
And his men are gallant though mercenary;
But the knave refuses to send a lance
Till half the money is paid in advance.
Dagobert:
May his avarice wither him like a curse!
I guess he has heard of our late reverse;
But, Rudolph, whether he goes or stays,
There is reason in what Jarl Osric says;
Of provisions we need a fresh supply,
And our butts and flasks are shallow or dry;
My men are beginning to grumble sadly,
'Tis no wonder, since they must fare so badly.
75
Rudolph:
We have plenty of foragers out, and still
We have plenty of hungry mouths to fill;
And, moreover, by some means, foul or fair,
We must raise money; 'tis little I care,
So long as we raise it, whence it comes.
Osric:
Shall we sit till nightfall biting our thumbs?
The shortest plan is ever the best;
Has anyone here got aught to suggest?
Orion:
The cornfields are golden that skirt the Rhine,
Fat are the oxen, strong is the wine,
In those pleasant pastures, those cellars deep,
That o'erflow with the tears that those vineyards weep;
Is it silver you stand in need of, or gold?
Ingot or coin? There is wealth untold
In the ancient convent of Englemehr;
That is not so very far from here.
The Abbot, esteem'd a holy man,
Will hold what he has and grasp what he can;
The cream of the soil he loves to skim,
Why not levy a contribution on him?
Dagobert:
The stranger speaks well; not far away
That convent lies; and one summer's day
Will suffice for a horseman to reach the gate;
The garrison soon would capitulate,
Since the armed retainers are next to none,
And the walls, I wot, may be quickly won.
Rudolph:
I kept those walls for two months or more,
When they feared the riders of Melchior!
That was little over three years ago.
Their Abbot is thrifty, as well I know;
He haggled sorely about the price
Of our service.
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Dagobert: Rudolph, he paid thee twice.
Rudolph:
Well, what of that? Since then I've tried
To borrow from him; now I know he lied
When he told me he could not spare the sum
I asked. If we to his gates should come,
He could spare it though it were doubled; and still,
This war with the Church I like it ill.
Osric:
The creed of our fathers is well-nigh dead,
And the creed of the Christian reigns in its stead
But the creed of the Christian, too, may die,
For your creeds or your churches what care I!
If there be plunder at Englemehr,
Let us strike our tents and thitherward steer.
SCENE — A Farm-house on the Rhine (About a mile from the Convent).
HUGO in chamber alone. Enter ERIC.
Eric:
What, Hugo, still at the Rhine! I thought
You were home. You have travell'd by stages short.
Hugo (with hesitation):
Our homeward march was labour in vain,
We had to retrace our steps again;
It was here or hereabouts that I lost
Some papers of value; at any cost
I must find them; and which way lies your course?
Eric:
I go to recruit Prince Otto's force.
I cannot study as you do; I
Am wearied with inactivity;
So I carry a blade engrim'd with rust
(That a hand sloth-slacken'd has, I trust,
Not quite forgotten the way to wield),
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To strike once more on the tented field.
Hugo:
Fighting is all a mistake, friend Eric,
And has been so since the age Homeric,
When Greece was shaken and Troy undone,
Ten thousand lives for a worthless one.
Yet I blame you not; you might well do worse;
Better fight and perish than live to curse
The day you were born; and such has been
The lot of many, and shall, I ween,
Be the lot of more. If Thurston chooses
He may go with you. The blockhead abuses
Me and the life I lead.
Enter ORION.
Orion: Great news!
The Englemehr monks will shake in their shoes;
In the soles of their callous feet will shake
The barefooted friars. The nuns will quake.
Hugo: Wherefore?
Orion: The outlaw of Rothenstein
Has come with his soldiers to the Rhine,
Back'd by those hardy adventurers
From the northern forests of pines and firs,
And Dagobert's horse. They march as straight
As the eagle swoops to the convent gate.
Hugo:
We must do something to save the place.
Orion:
They are sure to take it in any case,
Unless the sum that they ask is paid.
Eric:
Some effort on our part must be made.
Hugo:
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'Tis not so much for the monks I care.
Eric:
Nor I; but the Abbess and nuns are there.
Orion:
'Tis not our business; what can we do?
They are too many, and we are too few;
And yet, I suppose, you will save, if you can,
That lady, your ward, or your kinswoman.
Hugo:
She is no kinswoman of mine;
How far is Otto's camp from the Rhine?
Orion:
Too far for help in such time of need
To be brought, though you used your utmost speed.
Eric:
Nay, that I doubt.
Hugo: And how many men
Have they?
Orion: To your one they could muster ten.
Eric:
I know Count Rudolph, and terms may be made
With him, I fancy; for though his trade
Is a rough one now, gainsay it who can,
He was once a knight and a gentleman.
And Dagobert, the chief of the Huns,
Bad as he is, will spare the nuns;
Though neither he nor the Count could check
Those lawless men, should they storm and sack
The convent. Jarl Osric, too, I know;
He is rather a formidable foe,
And will likely enough be troublesome;
But the others, I trust, to terms will come.
Hugo:
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Eric, how many men have you?
I can count a score.
Eric: I have only two.
Hugo:
At every hazard we must try to save
The nuns.
Eric: Count Rudolph shall think we have
A force that almost equals his own,
If I can confer with him alone.
Orion:
He is close at hand; by this time he waits
The Abbot's reply at the convent gates.
Hugo:
We had better send him a herald.
Eric: Nay,
I will go myself. [Eric goes out.]
Hugo: Orion, stay!
So this is the reed on which I've leaned,
These are the hopes thou hast fostered, these
The flames thou hast fanned. Oh, lying fiend!
Is it thus thou dost keep thy promises?
Orion:
Strong language, Hugo, and most unjust;
You will cry out before you are hurt —
You will live to recall your words, I trust.
Fear nothing from Osric or Dagobert,
These are your friends, if you only knew it,
And would take the advice of a friend sincere;
Neglect his counsels and you must rue it,
For I know by a sign the crisis is near.
Accept the terms of these outlaws all,
And be thankful that things have fallen out
Exactly as you would have had them fall —
You may save the one that you care about;
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Otherwise, how did you hope to gain
Access to her — on what pretence?
What were the schemes that worried your brain
To tempt her there or to lure her thence?
You must have bungled, and raised a scandal
About your ears, that might well have shamed
The rudest Hun, the veriest Vandal,
Long or ever the bird was tamed.
Hugo:
The convent is scarce surrounded yet,
We might reach and hold it against their force
Till another sun has risen and set;
And should I despatch my fleetest horse
To Otto ——
Orion: For Abbot, or Monk, or Friar,
Between ourselves, 'tis little you care
If their halls are harried by steel and fire:
Their avarice left your heritage bare.
Forsake them! Mitres, and cowls, and hoods
Will cover vices while earth endures;
Through the green and gold of the summer woods
Ride out with that pretty bird of yours.
If again you fail to improve your chance,
Why, then, my friend, I can only say
You are duller far than the dullest lance
That rides in Dagobert's troop this day.
"Faemina semper", frown not thus,
The girl was always giddy and wild,
Vain, and foolish, and frivolous,
Since she fled from her father's halls, a child.
I sought to initiate you once
In the mystic lore of the old Chaldean;
But I found you far too stubborn a dunce,
And your tastes are coarser and more plebeian.
Yet mark my words, for I read the stars,
And trace the future in yonder sky;
To the right are wars and rumours of wars,
To the left are peace and prosperity.
Fear naught. The world shall never detect
The cloven hoof, so carefully hid
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By the scholar so staid and circumspect,
So wise for once to do as he's bid.
Remember what pangs come year by year
For opportunity that has fled;
And Thora in ignorance.
Hugo: Name not her!
I am sorely tempted to strike thee dead!
Orion:
Nay, I hardly think you will take my life,
The angel Michael was once my foe;
He had a little the best of our strife,
Yet he never could deal so stark a blow.
SCENE — A Chamber in the Nuns' Apartments of the Convent.
AGATHA and URSULA.
Agatha:
My sire in my childhood pledged my hand
To Hugo — I know not why —
They were comrades then, 'neath the Duke's command,
In the wars of Lombardy.
I thought, ere my summers had turned sixteen,
That mine was a grievous case;
Save once, for an hour, I had never seen
My intended bridegroom's face;
And maidens vows of their own will plight.
Unknown to my kinsfolk all
My love was vowed to a Danish knight,
A guest in my father's hall.
His foot fell lightest in merry dance,
His shaft never missed the deer;
He could fly a hawk, he could wield a lance,
Our wildest colt he could steer.
His deep voice ringing through hall or glen
Had never its match in song;
And little was known of his past life then,
Or of Dorothea's wrong.
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I loved him — Lady Abbess, I know
That my love was foolish now;
I was but a child five years ago,
And thoughtless as bird on bough.
One evening Hugo the Norman came,
And, to shorten a weary tale,
I fled that night (let me bear the blame)
With Harold by down and dale.
He had mounted me on a dappled steed,
And another of coal-black hue
He rode himself; and away at speed
We fled through mist and dew.
Of miles we had ridden some half a score,
We had halted beside a spring,
When the breeze to our ears through the still night bore
A distant trample and ring;
We listen'd one breathing space, and caught
The clatter of mounted men,
With vigour renewed by their respite short
Our horses dash'd through the glen.
Another league, and we listen'd in vain;
The breeze to our ears came mute;
But we heard them again on the spacious plain,
Faint tidings of hot pursuit.
In the misty light of a moon half hid
By the dark or fleecy rack,
Our shadows over the moorland slid,
Still listening and looking back.
So we fled (with a cheering word to say
At times as we hurried on),
From sounds that at intervals died away,
And at intervals came anon.
Another league, and my lips grew dumb,
And I felt my spirit quailing,
For closer those sounds began to come,
And the speed of my horse was failing.
"The grey is weary and lame to boot,"
Quoth Harold; "the black is strong,
And their steeds are blown with their fierce pursuit,
What wonder! our start was long.
Now, lady, behind me mount the black,
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The double load he can bear;
We are safe when we reach the forest track,
Fresh horses and friends wait there."
Then I sat behind him and held his waist,
And faster we seemed to go
By moss and moor; but for all our haste
Came the tramp of the nearing foe.
A dyke through the mist before us hover'd,
And, quicken'd by voice and heel,
The black overleap'd it, stagger'd, recover'd;
Still nearer that muffled peal.
And louder on sward the hoof-strokes grew,
And duller, though not less nigh,
On deader sand; and a dark speck drew
On my vision suddenly,
And a single horseman in fleet career,
Like a shadow appear'd to glide
To within six lances' lengths of our rear,
And there for a space to bide.
Quoth Harold, "Speak, has the moon reveal'd
His face?" I replied, "Not so!
Yet 'tis none of my kinsfolk." Then he wheel'd
In the saddle and scanned the foe,
And mutter'd, still gazing in our wake,
"'Tis he; now I will not fight
The brother again, for the sister's sake,
While I can escape by flight."
"Who, Harold?" I asked; but he never spoke.
By the cry of the bittern harsh,
And the bull-frog's dull, discordant croak,
I guess'd that we near'd the marsh;
And the moonbeam flash'd on watery sedge
As it broke from a strip of cloud,
Ragged and jagged about the edge,
And shaped like a dead man's shroud.
And flagg'd and falter'd our gallant steed,
'Neath the weight of his double burden,
As we splash'd through water and crash'd through reed;
Then the soil began to harden,
And again we gain'd, or we seem'd to gain,
With our foe in the deep morass;
But those fleet hoofs thunder'd, and gain'd again,
84
When they trampled the firmer grass,
And I cried, and Harold again look'd back,
And bade me fasten mine eyes on
The forest, that loom'd like a patch of black
Standing out from the faint horizon.
"Courage, sweetheart! we are saved," he said;
"With the moorland our danger ends,
And close to the borders of yonder glade
They tarry, our trusty friends."
Where the mossy uplands rise and dip
On the edge of the leafy dell,
With a lurch, like the lurch of a sinking ship,
The black horse toppled and fell.
Unharm'd we lit on the velvet sward,
And even as I lit I lay,
But Harold uprose, unsheath'd his sword,
And toss'd the scabbard away.
And spake through his teeth, "Good brother-in-law,
Forbearance, at last, is spent;
The strife that thy soul hath lusted for
Thou shalt have to thy soul's content!"
While he spoke, our pursuer past us swept,
Ere he rein'd his war-horse proud,
To his haunches flung, then to the earth he leapt,
And my lover's voice rang loud:
"Thrice welcome! Hugo of Normandy,
Thou hast come at our time of need,
This lady will thank thee, and so will I,
For the loan of thy sorrel steed!"
And never a word Lord Hugo said,
They clos'd 'twixt the wood and the wold,
And the white steel flickered over my head
In the moonlight calm and cold;
'Mid the feathery grasses crouching low,
With face bow'd down to the dust,
I heard the clash of each warded blow,
The click of each parried thrust,
And the shuffling feet that bruis'd the lawn,
As they traversed here and there,
And the breath through the clench'd teeth heavily drawn
When breath there was none to spare;
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Sharp ringing sword play, dull, trampling heel,
Short pause, spent force to regain,
Quick muffled footfall, harsh grating steel,
Sharp ringing rally again;
They seem'd long hours, those moments fleet,
As I counted them one by one,
Till a dead weight toppled across my feet,
And I knew that the strife was done.
When I looked up, after a little space,
As though from a fearful dream,
The moon was flinging on Harold's face
A white and a weird-like gleam;
And I felt mine ankles moist and warm
With the blood that trickled slow
From a spot on the doublet beneath his arm,
From a ghastly gash on his brow;
I heard the tread of the sorrel's hoof
As he bore his lord away;
They passed me slowly, keeping aloof,
Like spectres, misty and grey.
I thought Lord Hugo had left me there
To die, but it was not so;
Yet then for death I had little care,
My soul seem'd numb'd by the blow;
A faintness follow'd, a sickly swoon,
A long and a dreamless sleep,
And I woke to the light of a sultry noon
In my father's castled keep.
And thus, Lady Abbess, it came to pass
That my father vow'd his vow;
Must his daughter espouse the Church? Alas!
Is she better or wiser now?
For some are feeble and others strong,
And feeble am I and frail.
Mother! 'tis not that I love the wrong,
'Tis not that I loathe the veil,
But with heart still ready to go astray,
If assail'd by a fresh temptation,
I could sin again as I sinned that day,
For a girl's infatuation.
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See! Harold, the Dane, thou say'st is dead,
Yet I weep NOT BITTERLY;
As I fled with the Dane, so I might have fled
With Hugo of Normandy.
Ursula:
My child, I advise no hasty vows,
Yet I pray that in life's brief span
Thou may'st learn that our Church is a fairer spouse
Than fickle and erring man;
Though fenced for a time by the Church's pale,
When that time expires thou'rt free;
And we cannot force thee to take the veil,
Nay, we scarce can counsel thee.
Enter the ABBOT hastily.
Basil (the Abbot):
I am sorely stricken with shame and grief,
It has come by the self-same sign,
A summons brief from the outlaw'd chief,
Count Rudolph of Rothenstein.
Lady Abbess, ere worse things come to pass,
I would speak with thee alone;
Alack and alas! for by the rood and mass
I fear we are all undone.
SCENE — A Farm-house Near the Convent.
A Chamber furnished with writing materials. HUGO, ERIC, and THURSTON
on one side; on the other OSRIC, RUDOLPH, and DAGOBERT.
Osric:
We have granted too much, ye ask for more;
I am not skill'd in your clerkly lore,
I scorn your logic; I had rather die
Than live like Hugo of Normandy:
I am a Norseman, frank and plain;
Ye must read the parchment over again.
87
Eric:
Jarl Osric, twice we have read this scroll.
Osric:
Thou hast read a part.
Eric: I have read the whole.
Osric:
Aye, since I attached my signature!
Eric:
Before and since!
Rudolph: Nay, of this be sure,
Thou hast signed; in fairness now let it rest.
Osric:
I had rather have sign'd upon Hugo's crest;
He has argued the question mouth to mouth
With the wordy lore of the subtle south;
Let him or any one of his band
Come and argue the question hand to hand.
With the aid of my battle-axe I will show
That a score of words are not worth one blow.
Thurston:
To the devil with thee and thy battle-axe;
I would send the pair of ye back in your tracks,
With an answer that even to thy boorish brain
Would scarce need repetition again.
Osric:
Thou Saxon slave to a milksop knight,
I will give thy body to raven and kite.
Thurston:
Thou liest; I am a freeborn man,
And thy huge carcase — in cubit and span
Like the giant's of Gath — 'neath Saxon steel,
Shall furnish the kites with a fatter meal.
88
Osric:
Now, by Odin!
Rudolph: Jarl Osric, curb thy wrath;
Our names are sign'd, our words have gone forth.
Hugo:
I blame thee, Thurston.
Thurston: And I, too, blame
Myself, since I follow a knight so tame!
[Thurston goes out.]
Osric:
The Saxon hound, he said I lied!
Rudolph:
I pray thee, good Viking, be pacified.
Osric:
Why do we grant the terms they ask?
To crush them all were an easy task.
Dagobert:
That know'st thou not; if it come to war,
They are stronger, perhaps, than we bargain for.
Eric:
Jarl Osric, thou may'st recall thy words —
Should we meet again.
Osric: Should we meet with swords,
Thou, too, may'st recall them to thy sorrow.
Hugo:
Eric! we dally. Sir Count, good-morrow.
SCENE — The Guest Chamber of the Convent.
HUGO, ERIC, and ORION.
89
Eric:
Hugo, their siege we might have tried;
This place would be easier fortified
Than I thought at first; it is now too late,
They have cut off our access to the gate.
Hugo:
I have weigh'd the chances and counted the cost,
And I know by the stars that all is lost
If we take up this quarrel.
Eric: So let it be!
I yield to one who is wiser than me. (Aside.)
Nevertheless, I have seen the day
When the stars would scarcely have bade us stay.
Enter the ABBOT, CYRIL, and other Monks.
Hugo:
Lord Abbot, we greet thee. Good fathers all,
We bring you greeting.
Orion (aside): And comfort small.
Abbot:
God's benediction on you, my sons.
Hugo:
May He save you, too, from Norsemen and Huns!
Since the gates are beleaguer'd and walls begirt
By the forces of Osric and Dagobert;
'Tis a heavy price that the knaves demand.
Abbot:
Were we to mortgage the Church's land
We never could raise what they would extort.
Orion (aside):
The price is too long and the notice too short.
Eric:
90
And you know the stern alternative.
Abbot:
If we die we die, if we live we live;
God's will be done; and our trust is sure
In Him, though His chast'nings we endure.
Two messengers rode from here last night,
To Otto they carry news of our plight;
On my swiftest horses I saw them go.
Orion (aside):
Then his swiftest horses are wondrous slow.
Eric:
One of these is captive and badly hurt;
By the reckless riders of Dagobert
He was overtaken and well-nigh slain,
Not a league from here on the open plain.
Abbot:
But the other escap'd.
Eric: It may be so;
We had no word of him, but we know
That unless you can keep these walls for a day
At least, the Prince is too far away
To afford relief.
Abbot: Then a hopeless case
Is ours, and with death we are face to face.
Eric:
You have arm'd retainers.
Cyril (a Monk): Aye, some half score;
And some few of the brethren, less or more,
Have in youth the brunt of the battle bided,
Yet our armoury is but ill provided.
Hugo:
We have terms of truce from the robbers in chief,
Though the terms are partial, the truce but brief;
91
To Abbess, to nuns, and novices all,
And to every woman within your wall,
We can offer escort, and they shall ride
From hence in safety whate'er betide.
Abbot:
What escort, Hugo, canst thou afford?
Hugo:
Some score of riders who call me lord
Bide at the farm not a mile from here,
Till we rejoin them they will not stir;
My page and armourer wait below,
And all our movements are watch'd by the foe.
Strict stipulation was made, of course,
That, except ourselves, neither man nor horse
Should enter your gates — they were keen to shun
The chance of increasing your garrison.
Eric:
I hold safe conduct here in my hand,
Signed by the chiefs of that lawless band;
See Rudolph's name, no disgrace to a clerk,
And Dagobert's scrawl, and Osric's mark;
Jarl signed sorely against his will,
With a scratch like the print of a raven's bill;
But the foe have muster'd in sight of the gate.
For another hour they will scarcely wait;
Bid Abbess and dame prepare with haste.
Hugo:
Lord Abbot, I tell thee candidly
There is no great love between thou and I,
As well thou know'st; but, nevertheless,
I would we were more, or thy foes were less.
Abbot:
I will summon the Lady Abbess straight.
[The Abbot and Monks go out.]
Eric:
'Tis hard to leave these men to their fate,
92
Norsemen and Hun will never relent;
Their day of grace upon earth is spent.
[Hugo goes out, followed by Orion.]
SCENE — The Corridor Outside the Guest Chamber.
HUGO pacing up and down. ORION leaning against the wall.
Hugo:
My day of grace with theirs is past.
I might have saved them; 'tis too late —
Too late for both. The die is cast,
And I resign me to my fate.
God's vengeance I await.
Orion:
The boundary 'twixt right and wrong
Is not so easy to discern;
And man is weak, and fate is strong,
And destiny man's hopes will spurn,
Man's schemes will overturn.
Hugo:
Thou liest, thou fiend! Not unawares
The sinner swallows Satan's bait,
Nor pits conceal'd nor hidden snares
Seeks blindly; wherefore dost thou prate
Of destiny and fate?
Orion:
Who first named fate? But never mind,
Let that pass by — to Adam's fall
And Adam's curse look back, and find
Iniquity the lot of all,
And sin original.
Hugo:
But I have sinn'd, repented, sinn'd,
Till seven times that sin may be
By seventy multiplied; the wind
93
Is constant when compared with me,
And stable is the sea!
My hopes are sacrificed, for what?
For days of folly, less or more,
For years to see those dead hopes rot,
Like dead weeds scatter'd on the shore,
Beyond the surfs that roar!
Orion:
The wiles of Eve are swift to smite;
Aye, swift to smite and not to spare —
Red lips and round limbs sweet and white,
Dark eyes and sunny, silken hair,
Thy betters may ensnare.
Hugo:
Not so; the strife 'twixt hell and heaven
I felt last night, and well I knew
The crisis; but my aid was given
To hell. Thou'st known the crisis too,
For once thou'st spoken true.
Having foretold it, there remains
For grace no time, for hope no room;
Even now I seem to feel the pains
Of hell, that wait beyond the gloom
Of my dishonour'd tomb.
Thou who hast lived and died to save,
Us sinners, Christ of Galilee!
Thy great love pardon'd and forgave
The dying thief upon the tree,
Thou canst not pardon me!
Dear Lord! hear Thou my latest prayer,
For prayer must die since hope is dead;
Thy Father's vengeance let me bear,
Nor let my guilt be visited
Upon a guiltless head!
Ah! God is just! Full sure I am
94
He never did predestinate
Our souls to hell. Ourselves we damn —
[To Orion, with sudden passion]
Serpent! I know thee now, too late;
Curse thee! Work out thy hate!
Orion:
I hate thee not; thy grievous plight
Would move my pity, but I bear
A curse to which thy curse seems light!
Thy wrong is better than my right,
My day is darker than thy night;
Beside the whitest hope I share
How white is thy despair!
SCENE — The Chapel of the Convent.
URSULA, AGATHA, Nuns and Novices.
(Hymn of the Nuns):
Jehovah! we bless Thee,
All works of Thine hand
Extol Thee, confess Thee;
By sea and by land,
By mountain and river,
By forest and glen,
They praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
The heathen are raging
Against Thee, O Lord!
The ungodly are waging
Rash war against God!
Arise, and deliver
Us, sheep of Thy pen,
Who praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Thou Shepherd of Zion!
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Thy firstlings didst tear
From jaws of the lion,
From teeth of the bear;
Thy strength to deliver
Is strong now as then.
We praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Thine arm hath delivered
Thy servants of old,
Hath scatter'd and shiver'd
The spears of the bold,
Hath emptied the quiver
Of bloodthirsty men.
We praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Nathless shall Thy right hand
Those counsels fulfil
Most wise in Thy sight, and
We bow to Thy will;
Thy children quail never
For dungeon or den,
They praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
Though fierce tribulation
Endure for a space,
Yet God! our salvation!
We gain by Thy grace,
At end of life's fever,
Bliss passing man's ken;
There to praise Thee for ever!
And ever! Amen!
SCENE — The Guest Room of the Convent.
HUGO, ERIC, and ORION. Enter URSULA, AGATHA, and Nuns.
Ursula:
96
Hugo, we reject thine offers,
Not that we can buy
Safety from the Church's coffers,
Neither can we fly.
Far too great the price they seek is,
Let their lawless throng
Come, we wait their coming; weak is
Man, but God is strong.
Eric:
Think again on our proposals:
It will be too late
When the robbers hold carousals
On this side the gate.
Ursula:
For myself I speak and others
Weak and frail as I;
We will not desert our brothers
In adversity.
Hugo (to the Nuns):
Does the Abbess thus advance her
Will before ye all?
A Nun:
We will stay.
Hugo: Is this thine answer,
Agatha? The wall
Is a poor protection truly,
And the gates are weak,
And the Norsemen most unruly.
Come, then.
A Nun (to Agatha): Sister, speak!
Orion (aside to Hugo):
Press her! She her fears dissembling,
Stands irresolute;
She will yield — her limbs are trembling,
Though her lips are mute.
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[A trumpet is heard without.]
Eric:
Hark! their savage war-horn blowing
Chafes at our delay.
Hugo:
Agatha, we must be going.
Come, girl!
Agatha (clinging to Ursula): Must I stay?
Ursula:
Nay, my child, thou shalt not make me
Judge; I cannot give
Orders to a novice.
Agatha: Take me,
Hugo! Let me live!
Eric (to Nuns):
Foolish women! will ye tarry,
Spite of all we say?
Hugo:
Must we use our strength and carry
You by force away?
Ursula:
Bad enough thou art, Sir Norman,
Yet thou wilt not do
This thing. Shame! — on men make war, man,
Not on women few.
Eric:
Heed her not — her life she barters,
Of her free accord,
For her faith; and, doubtless, martyrs
Have their own reward.
Ursula:
In the Church's cause thy father
98
Never grudged his blade —
Hugo, did he rue it?
Orion: Rather!
He was poorly paid.
Hugo:
Abbess, this is not my doing;
I have said my say;
How can I avert the ruin,
Even for a day,
Since they count two hundred fairly,
While we count a score;
And thine own retainers barely
Count a dozen more?
Agatha (kneeling to Ursula):
Ah! forgive me, Lady Abbess,
Bless me ere I go;
She who under sod and slab is
Lying, cold and low,
Scarce would turn away in anger
From a child so frail;
Not dear life, but deadly danger,
Makes her daughter quail.
Hugo:
Eric, will those faces tearful
To God's judgment seat
Haunt us?
Eric: Death is not so fearful.
Hugo: No, but life is sweet —
Sweet for once, to me, though sinful.
Orion (to Hugo): Earth is scant of bliss;
Wisest he who takes his skinful
When the chance is his.
(To Ursula):
Lady Abbess! stay and welcome
99
Osric's savage crew;
Yet when pains of death and hell come,
Thou thy choice may'st rue.
Ursula (to Orion):
What dost thou 'neath roof-trees sacred?
Man or fiend, depart!
Orion:
Dame, thy tongue is sharp and acrid,
Yet I bear the smart.
Ursula (advancing and raising up a crucifix):
I conjure thee by this symbol
Leave us!
[Orion goes out hastily.]
Hugo: Ha! the knave,
He has made an exit nimble;
Abbess! thou art brave.
Yet once gone, we're past recalling,
Let no blame be mine.
See, thy sisters' tears are falling
Fast, and so are thine.
Ursula:
Fare you well! The teardrop splashes
Vainly on the ice.
Ye will sorrow o'er our ashes
And your cowardice.
Eric:
Sorry am I, yet my sorrow
Cannot alter fate;
Should Prince Otto come to-morrow,
He will come too late.
Hugo:
Nay, old comrade, she hath spoken
Words we must not hear;
Shall we pause for sign or token —
Taunted twice with fear?
100
Yonder, hilt to hilt adjusted,
Stand the swords in which we trusted
Years ago. Their blades have rusted,
So, perchance, have we.
Ursula! thy words may shame us,
Yet we once were counted famous,
Morituri, salutamus,
Aut victuri, te! [They go out.]
SCENE — The Outskirts of Rudolph's Camp.
RUDOLPH, OSRIC, and DAGOBERT. HUGO.
Rudolph:
Lord Hugo! thy speech is madness;
Thou hast tax'd our patience too far;
We offer'd thee peace — with gladness,
We gladly accept thy war.
Dagobert:
And the clemency we extended
To thee and thine we recall;
And the treaty 'twixt us is ended —
We are ready to storm the wall.
Osric:
Now tear yon parchment to tatters;
Thou shalt make no further use
Of our safeguard; the wind that scatters
The scroll shall scatter the truce.
Hugo:
Jarl Osric, to save the spilling
Of blood, and the waste of life,
I am willing, if thou art willing,
With thee to decide this strife;
Let thy comrades draw their force back;
I defy thee to single fight,
I will meet thee on foot or horseback,
And God shall defend the right.
101
Rudolph:
No single combat shall settle
This strife; thou art overbold —
Thou hast put us all on our mettle,
Now the game in our hands we hold.
Dagobert:
Our lances round thee have hover'd,
Have seen where thy fellows bide;
Thy weakness we have discover'd,
Thy nakedness we have spied.
Osric:
And hearken, knight, to my story —
When sack'd are the convent shrines,
When the convent thresholds are gory,
And quaff'd are the convent wines:
When our beasts with pillage are laden,
And the clouds of our black smoke rise
From yon tower, one fair-haired maiden
Is singled as Osric's prize.
I will fit her with chain and collar
Of red gold, studded with pearls;
With bracelet of gold, Sir Scholar,
The queen of my captive girls.
Hugo (savagely):
May the Most High God of battles
The Lord and Ruler of fights,
Who breaketh the shield that rattles,
Who snappeth the sword that smites,
In whose hands are footmen and horsemen,
At whose breath they conquer or flee,
Never show me His mercy, Norseman!
If I show mercy to thee.
Osric:
What, ho! art thou drunk, Sir Norman?
Has the wine made thy pale cheek red?
Now, I swear by Odin and Thor, man,
Already I count thee dead.
102
Rudolph:
I crave thy pardon for baulking
The flood of thine eloquence,
But thou canst not scare us with talking,
I therefore pray thee go hence.
Osric:
Though I may not take up thy gauntlet,
Should we meet where the steel strikes fire,
'Twixt thy casque and thy charger's frontlet
The choice will perplex thy squire.
Hugo:
When the Norman rowels are goading,
When glitters the Norman glaive,
Thou shalt call upon Thor and Odin:
They shall not hear thee nor save.
"Should we meet!" Aye, the chance may fall so,
In the furious battle drive,
So may God deal with me — more, also!
If we separate, both alive!
SCENE — The Court-yard of the Old Farm.
EUSTACE and other followers of HUGO and ERIC lounging about.
Enter THURSTON hastily, with swords under his arm.
Thurston:
Now saddle your horses and girth them tight,
And see that your weapons are sharp and bright.
Come, lads, get ready as fast as you can.
Eustace:
Why, what's this bustle about, old man?
Thurston:
Well, it seems Lord Hugo has changed his mind,
As the weathercock veers with the shifting wind;
He has gone in person to Osric's camp,
103
To tell him to pack up his tents and tramp!
But I guess he won't.
Eustace: Then I hope he will,
They are plenty to eat us, as well as to kill.
Ralph:
And I hope he won't — I begin to feel
A longing to moisten my thirsty steel.
[They begin to saddle and make preparations
for a skirmish.]
Thurston:
I've a couple of blades to look to here.
In their scabbards I scarcely could make them stir
At first, but I'll sharpen them both ere long.
A Man-at-arms:
Hurrah for a skirmish! Who'll give us a song?
Thurston (sings, cleaning and sharpening):
Hurrah! for the sword! I hold one here,
And I scour at the rust and say,
'Tis the umpire this, and the arbiter,
That settles in the fairest way;
For it stays false tongues and it cools hot blood,
And it lowers the proud one's crest;
And the law of the land is sometimes good,
But the law of the sword is best.
In all disputes 'tis the shortest plan,
The surest and best appeal; —
What else can decide between man and man?
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword of Hugo, our lord!
'Tis a trusty friend and a true;
It has held its own on a grassy sward,
When its blade shone bright and blue,
Though it never has stricken in anger hard,
104
And has scarcely been cleansed from rust,
Since the day when it broke through Harold's guard
With our favourite cut and thrust;
Yet Osric's crown will look somewhat red,
And his brain will be apt to reel,
Should the trenchant blade come down on his head —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword of our ally bold,
It has done good service to him;
It has held its own on an open wold,
When its edge was in keener trim.
It may baffle the plots of the wisest skull,
It may slacken the strongest limb,
Make the brains full of forethought void and null,
And the eyes full of far-sight dim;
And the hasty hands are content to wait,
And the knees are compelled to kneel,
Where it falls with the weight of a downstroke straight —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
Thurston (sings):
Hurrah! for the sword — I've one of my own;
And I think I may safely say,
Give my enemy his, let us stand alone,
And our quarrel shall end one way;
One way or the other — it matters not much,
So the question be fairly tried.
Oh! peacemaker good, bringing peace with a touch,
Thy clients will be satisfied.
As a judge, thou dost judge — as a witness, attest,
And thou settest thy hand and seal,
And the winner is blest, and the loser at rest —
(Chorus of all):
Hurrah! for the bright blue steel!
[Hugo and Eric enter during the last verse
105
of the song.]
Hugo:
Boot and saddle, old friend,
Their defiance they send;
Time is short — make an end
Of thy song.
Let the sword in this fight
Strike as hard for the right
As it once struck for might
Leagued with wrong.
Ha! Rollo, thou champest
Thy bridle and stampest,
For the rush of the tempest
Dost long?
Ho! the kites will grow fatter
On the corpses we scatter,
In the paths where we shatter
Their throng.
Where Osric, the craven,
Hath reared the black raven
'Gainst monks that are shaven
And cowl'd:
Where the Teuton and Hun sit,
In the track of our onset,
Will the wolves, ere the sunset,
Have howl'd.
Retribution is good,
They have revell'd in blood,
Like the wolves of the wood
They have prowl'd.
Birds of prey they have been,
And of carrion unclean,
And their own nests (I ween)
They have foul'd.
Eric:
Two messengers since
Yestermorn have gone hence,
106
And ere long will the Prince
Bring relief.
Shall we pause? — they are ten
To our one, but their men
Are ill-arm'd, and scarce ken
Their own chief;
And for this we give thanks:
Their disorderly ranks,
If assail'd in the flanks,
Will as lief
Run as fight — loons and lords.
Hugo:
Mount your steeds! draw your swords!
Take your places! My words
Shall be brief:
Ride round by the valley,
Through pass and gorge sally —
The linden trees rally
Beneath.
Then, Eric and Thurston,
Their ranks while we burst on,
Try which will be first on
The heath.
(Aside)
Look again, mother mine,
Through the happy starshine,
For my sins dost thou pine?
With my breath,
See! thy pangs are all done,
For the life of thy son:
Thou shalt never feel one
For his death.
[They all go out but Hugo, who lingers to tighten
his girths. Orion appears suddenly in the gateway.]
Orion:
Stay, friend! I keep guard on
Thy soul's gates; hold hard on
Thy horse. Hope of pardon
107
Hath fled!
Bethink once, I crave thee,
Can recklessness save thee?
Hell sooner will have thee
Instead.
Hugo:
Back! My soul, tempest-toss'd,
Hath her Rubicon cross'd,
She shall fly — saved or lost!
Void of dread!
Sharper pang than the steel,
Thou, oh, serpent! shalt feel,
Should I set the bruised heel
On thy head.
[He rides out.]
SCENE — A Room in the Convent Tower Overlooking the Gate.
URSULA at the window. AGATHA and Nuns crouching or kneeling in a corner.
Ursula:
See, Ellinor! Agatha! Anna!
While yet for the ladders they wait,
Jarl Osric hath rear'd the black banner
Within a few yards of the gate;
It faces our window, the raven,
The badge of the cruel sea-kings,
That has carried to harbour and haven
Destruction and death on its wings.
Beneath us they throng, the fierce Norsemen,
The pikemen of Rudolph behind
Are mustered, and Dagobert's horsemen
With faces to rearward inclined;
Come last, on their coursers broad-chested,
Rough-coated, short-pastern'd and strong,
Their casques with white plumes thickly crested,
Their lances barb-headed and long:
They come through the shades of the linden,
Fleet riders and war-horses hot:
108
The Normans, our friends — we have sinn'd in
Our selfishness, sisters, I wot —
They come to add slaughter to slaughter,
Their handful can ne'er stem the tide
Of our foes, and our fate were but shorter
Without them. How fiercely they ride!
And "Hugo of Normandy!" "Hugo!"
"A rescue! a rescue!" rings loud,
And right on the many the few go!
A sway and a swerve of the crowd!
A springing and sparkling of sword-blades!
A crashing and 'countering of steeds!
And the white feathers fly 'neath their broad blades
Like foam-flakes! the spear-shafts like reeds!
A Nun (to Agatha):
Pray, sister!
Agatha: Alas! I have striven
To pray, but the lips move in vain
When the heart with such terror is riven.
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
As leaves fall by wintry gusts scatter'd,
As fall by the sickle ripe ears,
As the pines by the whirlwind fall shatter'd,
As shatter'd by bolt fall the firs —
To the right hand they fall, to the left hand
They yield! They go down! they give back!
And their ranks are divided and cleft, and
Dispers'd and destroy'd in the track!
Where, stirrup to stirrup, and bridle
To bridle, down-trampling the slain!
Our friends, wielding swords never idle,
Hew bloody and desperate lane
Through pikemen, so crowded together
They scarce for their pikes can find room,
Led by Hugo's gilt crest, the tall feather
Of Thurston, and Eric's black plume!
A Nun (to Agatha):
109
Pray, sister!
Agatha: First pray thou that heaven
Will lift this dull weight from my brain,
That crushes like crime unforgiven.
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
Close under the gates men are fighting
On foot where the raven is rear'd!
'Neath that sword-stroke, through helm and skull smiting,
Jarl Osric falls, cloven to the beard!
And Hugo, the hilt firmly grasping,
His heel on the throat of his foe,
Wrenches back. I can hear the dull rasping,
The steel through the bone grating low!
And the raven rocks! Thurston has landed
Two strokes, well directed and hard,
On the standard pole, wielding, two-handed,
A blade crimson'd up to the guard.
Like the mast cut in two by the lightning,
The black banner topples and falls!
Bewildering! back-scattering! affright'ning!
It clears a wide space next the walls.
A Nun (to Agatha):
Pray, sister!
Agatha: Does the sinner unshriven,
With naught beyond this life to gain,
Pray for mercy on earth or in heaven?
Look again, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
The gates are flung open, and straightway,
By Ambrose and Cyril led on,
Our own men rush out through the gateway;
One charge, and the entrance is won!
No! our foes block the gate and endeavour
To force their way in! Oath and yell,
Shout and war-cry wax wilder than ever!
Those children of Odin fight well;
110
And my ears are confused by the crashing,
The jarring, the discord, the din;
And mine eyes are perplex'd by the flashing
Of fierce lights that ceaselessly spin;
So when thunder to thunder is calling,
Quick flash follows flash in the shade,
So leaping and flashing and falling,
Blade flashes and follows on blade!
While the sward, newly plough'd, freshly painted,
Grows purple with blood of the slain,
And slippery! Has Agatha fainted?
Agatha:
Not so, Lady Abbess! Look again!
Ursula:
No more from the window; in the old years
I have look'd upon strife. Now I go
To the court-yard to rally our soldiers
As I may — face to face with the foe.
[She goes out.]
SCENE — A Room in the Convent.
THURSTON seated near a small fire.
Enter EUSTACE.
Eustace:
We have come through this skirmish with hardly a scratch.
Thurston:
And without us, I fancy, they have a full batch
Of sick men to look to. Those robbers accurs'd
Will soon put our soundest on terms with our worst.
Nathless I'd have bartered, with never a frown,
Ten years for those seconds when Osric went down.
Where's Ethelwolf?
Eustace: Dying.
111
Thurston: And Reginald?
Eustace: Dead.
And Ralph is disabled, and Rudolph is sped.
He may last till midnight — not longer. Nor Tyrrel,
Nor Brian will ever see sunrise.
Thurston: That Cyril,
The monk, is a very respectable fighter.
Eustace:
Not bad for a monk. Yet our loss had been lighter
Had he and his fellows thrown open the gate
A little more quickly. And now, spite of fate,
With thirty picked soldiers their siege we might weather,
But the Abbess is worth all the rest put together.
[Enter Ursula.]
Thurston:
Here she comes.
Ursula: Can I speak with your lord?
Eustace: 'Tis too late,
He was dead when we carried him in at the gate.
Thurston:
Nay, he spoke after that, for I heard him myself;
But he won't speak again, he must lie on his shelf.
Ursula:
Alas! is he dead, then?
Thurston: As dead as St. Paul.
And what then? to-morrow we, too, one and all,
Die, to fatten these ravenous carrion birds.
I knelt down by Hugo and heard his last words:
"How heavy the night hangs — how wild the waves dash;
Say a mass for my soul — and give Rollo a mash."
Ursula:
112
Nay, Thurston, thou jestest.
Thurston: Ask Eric. I swear
We listened and caught every syllable clear.
Eustace:
Why, his horse was slain, too.
Thurston: 'Neath the linden trees grey,
Ere the onset, young Henry rode Rollo away;
He will hasten the Prince, and they may reach your gate
To-morrow — though to-morrow for us is too late.
Hugo rode the boy's mare, and she's dead — if you like —
Disembowel'd by the thrust of a freebooter's pike.
Eustace:
Neither Henry nor Rollo we ever shall see.
Ursula:
But we may hold the walls till to-morrow.
Thurston: Not we.
In an hour or less, having rallied their force,
They'll storm your old building — and take it, of course,
Since of us, who alone in war's science are skill'd,
One-third are disabled, and two-thirds are kill'd.
Ursula:
Art thou hurt?
Thurston: At present I feel well enough,
But your water is brackish, unwholesome and rough;
Bring a flask of your wine, dame, for Eustace and I,
Let us gaily give battle and merrily die.
[Enter Eric, with arm in sling.]
Eric:
Thou art safe, Lady Abbess! The convent is safe!
To be robbed of their prey how the ravens will chafe!
The vanguard of Otto is looming in sight!
At the sheen of their spears, see! thy foemen take flight,
Their foremost are scarce half a mile from the wall.
113
Thurston:
Bring the wine, lest those Germans should swallow it all.
SCENE — The Chapel of the Convent.
Dirge of the Monks:
Earth to earth, and dust to dust,
Ashes unto ashes go.
Judge not. He who judgeth just,
Judgeth merciful also.
Earthly penitence hath fled,
Earthly sin hath ceased to be;
Pile the sods on heart and head,
Miserere Domine!
Hominum et angelorum,
Domine! precamur te
Ut immemor sis malorum —
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Will the fruits of life brought forth,
Pride and greed, and wrath and lust,
Profit in the day of wrath,
When the dust returns to dust?
Evil flower and thorny fruit
Load the wild and worthless tree.
Lo! the axe is at the root,
Miserere Domine!
Spes, fidesque, caritasque,
Frustra fatigant per se,
Frustra virtus, forsque, fasque,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Fair without and foul within,
When the honey'd husks are reft
From the bitter sweets of sin,
114
Bitterness alone is left;
Yet the wayward soul hath striven
Mostly hell's ally to be,
In the strife 'twixt hell and heaven,
Miserere Domine!
Heu! heu! herba latet anguis —
Caro herba — carni vae —
Solum purgat, Christi sanguis,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
Pray that in the doubtful fight
Man may win through sore distress,
By His goodness infinite,
And His mercy fathomless.
Pray for one more of the weary,
Head bow'd down and bended knee,
Swell the requiem, Miserere!
Miserere Domine!
Bonum, malum, qui fecisti
Mali imploramus te,
Salve fratrem, causa Christi,
Miserere Domine!
(Miserere!)
[End of Ashtaroth.]
~ Adam Lindsay Gordon

--- IN CHAPTERS (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)



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   8 Poetry
   3 Integral Yoga
   1 Psychology
   1 Occultism
   1 Mysticism
   1 Alchemy


   3 John Keats
   2 William Wordsworth
   2 Walt Whitman
   2 The Mother
   2 Satprem


   3 Keats - Poems
   2 Wordsworth - Poems
   2 Whitman - Poems


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