De Young-A Prophecy
Running for Senator with clumsy pace,
He stooped so low, to win at least a place,
That Fortune, tempted by a mark so droll,
Sprang in an kicked him to the winning pole.
by Ambrose Bierce.
When The Prophet, A Complacent Fat Man
When the prophet, a complacent fat man,
Arrived at the mountain-top,
He cried: "Woe to my knowledge!
I intended to see good white lands
And bad black lands,
But the scene is grey."
by Stephen Crane.
Ah, my darling, when over the purple horizon shall loom
The shrouded mother of a new idea, men hide their faces,
Cry out and fend her off, as she seeks her procreant groom,
Wounding themselves against her, denying her fecund embraces.
HE trod upon the heights; the rarer air
Which common people seek, yet cannot bear,
Fed his high soul and kindled in his eye
The fire of one who cries 'I prophesy!'
'Look up!' he said. They looked but could not see.
'Help us!' they cried. He strove, but uselessly--
The very clouds which veiled the heaven they sought
Hid from his eyes the hearts of them he taught!
I shall die hidden in a hut
In the middle of an alder wood,
With the back door blind and bolted shut,
And the front door locked for good.
I shall lie folded like a saint,
Lapped in a scented linen sheet,
On a bedstead striped with bright-blue paint,
Narrow and cold and neat.
The midnight will be glassy black
Behind the panes, with wind about
To set his mouth against a crack
And blow the candle out.
When priestes failen in their saws,
And lordes turne Godde's laws
Against the right;
And lechery is holden as privy solace,
And robbery as free purchase,
Beware then of ill!
Then shall the Land of Albion
Turne to confusion,
As sometime it befell.
Ora pro Anglia Sancta Maria, quod Thomas Cantuaria.
Sweet Jesus, heaven's King,
Fair and best of all thing,
You bring us out of this mourning,
To come to thee at our ending!
by Geoffrey Chaucer.
The Weather Prophet
Ow can it rain.' the old man said, 'with things the way they are?
You've got to learn off ant and bee, and jackaroo and galah;
And no man never saw it rain, for fifty years at least,
Not when the blessed parakeets are flyinn' to the east!'
The weeks went by, the squatter wrote to tell his bank the news.
'It's still as dry as dust,' he said, 'I'm feeding all the ewes;
The overdraft would sink a ship, but make your mind at rest,
It's all right now, the parakeets are flyin' to the west!'
by Banjo Paterson.
A Prophecy. February 1807
HIGH deeds, O Germans, are to come from you!
Thus in your books the record shall be found,
'A watchword was pronounced, a potent sound--
ARMINIUS!--all the people quaked like dew
Stirred by the breeze; they rose, a Nation, true,
True to herself--the mighty Germany,
She of the Danube and the Northern Sea,
She rose, and off at once the yoke she threw.
All power was given her in the dreadful trance;
Those new-born Kings she withered like a flame.'
--Woe to them all! but heaviest woe and shame
To that Bavarian who could first advance
His banner in accursed league with France,
First open traitor to the German name!
A False Prophecy
Dom Pedro, Emperor of far Brazil
(Whence coffee comes and the three-cornered nut),
They say that you're imperially ill,
And threatened with paralysis. Tut-tut!
Though Emperors are mortal, nothing but
A nimble thunderbolt could catch and kill
A man predestined to depart this life
By the assassin's bullet, bomb or knife.
Sir, once there was a President who freed
Ten million slaves; and once there was a Czar
Who freed five times as many serfs. Sins breed
The means of punishment, and tyrants are
Hurled headlong out of the triumphal car
If faster than the law allows they speed.
Lincoln and Alexander struck a rut;
_You_ freed slaves too. Paralysis-tut-tut!
by Ambrose Bierce.
The Windsor Prophecy
When a holy black Swede, the son of Bob,
With a saint at his chin and a seal at his fob,
Shall not see one New-Years-day in that year,
Then let old England make good cheer:
Windsor and Bristol then shall be
Joined together in the Low-countree.
Then shall the tall black Daventry Bird
Speak against peace right many a word;
And some shall admire his coneying wit,
For many good groats his tongue shall slit.
But spight of the Harpy that crawls on all four,
There shall be peace, pardie, and war no more
But England must cry alack and well-a-day,
If the stick be taken from the dead sea.
And, dear Englond, if ought I understond,
Beware of Carrots from Northumberlond.
Carrots sown Thynne a deep root may get,
If so be they are in Somer set:
Their Conyngs mark thou; for I have been told,
They assassine when younge, and poison when old.
Root out these Carrots, O thou, whose name
is backwards and forwards always the same;
And keep thee close to thee always that name
Which backwards and forwards is almost the same.
And, England, wouldst thou be happy still,
Burn those Carrots under a Hill.
by Jonathan Swift.
The Little Sister Of The Prophet
'If there arise among you a prophet or dreamer. . .'
I HAVE left a basket of dates
In the cool dark room that is under the vine,
Some curds set out in two little crimson plates
And a flask of the amber wine,
And cakes most cunningly beaten
Of savoury herbs, and spice, and the delicate wheaten
Flour that is best,
And all to lighten his spirit and sweeten his rest.
This morning he cried, 'Awake,
And see what the wonderful grace of the Lord hath revealed!'
And we ran for his sake,
But 'twas only the dawn outspread o'er our father's field,
And the house of the potter white in the valley below.
But his hands were upraised to the east and he cried to us, 'So
Ye may ponder and read
The strength and the beauty of God outrolled in a fiery screed !'
Then the little brown mother smiled,
As one does on the words of a well-loved child,
And, 'Son,' she replied, 'have the oxen been watered and fed ?
For work is to do, though the skies be never so red,
And already the first sweet hours of the day are spent.'
And he sighed, and went.
Will he come from the byre
With his head all misty with dreams, and his eyes on fire,
Shaking us all with the weight of the words of his passion ?
I will give him raisins instead of dates,
And wreathe young leaves on the little red plates.
I will put on my new head-tyre,
And braid my hair in a comelier fashion.
Will he note ? Will he mind ?
Will he touch my cheek as he used to, and laugh and be kind ?
Worn and footsore was the Prophet,
When he gained the holy hill;
'God has left the earth,' he murmured,
'Here his presence lingers still.
'God of all the olden prophets,
Wilt thou speak with men no more?
Have I not as truly served thee
As thy chosen ones of yore?
'Hear me, guider of my fathers,
Lo! a humble heart is mine;
By thy mercy I beseech thee
Grant thy servant but a sign!'
Bowing then his head, he listened
For an answer to his prayer;
No loud burst of thunder followed,
Not a murmur stirred the air:
But the tuft of moss before him
Opened while he waited yet,
And, from out the rock's hard bosom,
Sprang a tender violet.
'God! I thank thee,' said the Prophet;
'Hard of heart and blind was I,
Looking to the holy mountain
For the gift of prophecy.
'Still thou speakest with thy children
Freely as in eld sublime;
Humbleness, and love, and patience,
Still give empire over time.
'Had I trusted in my nature,
And had faith in lowly things,
Thou thyself wouldst then have sought me.
And set free my spirit's wings.
'But I looked for signs and wonders,
That o'er men should give me sway;
Thirsting to be more than mortal,
I was even less than clay.
'Ere I entered on my journey,
As I girt my loins to start,
Ran to me my little daughter,
The beloved of my heart;
'In her hand she held a flower,
Like to this as like may be,
Which, beside my very threshold,
She had plucked and brought to me.'
A Prophecy: To George Keats In America
'Tis the witching hour of night,
Orbed is the moon and bright,
And the stars they glisten, glisten,
Seeming with bright eyes to listen --
For what listen they?
For a song and for a charm,
See they glisten in alarm,
And the moon is waxing warm
To hear what I shall say.
Moon! keep wide thy golden ears --
Hearken, stars! and hearken, spheres! --
Hearken, thou eternal sky!
I sing an infant's lullaby,
A pretty lullaby.
Listen, listen, listen, listen,
Glisten, glisten, glisten, glisten,
And hear my lullaby!
Though the rushes that will make
Its cradle still are in the lake --
Though the linen that will be
Its swathe, is on the cotton tree --
Though the woollen that will keep
It warm, is on the silly sheep --
Listen, starlight, listen, listen,
Glisten, glisten, glisten, glisten,
And hear my lullaby!
Child, I see thee! Child, I've found thee
Midst of the quiet all around thee!
And thy mother sweet is nigh thee!
But a Poet evermore!
See, see, the lyre, the lyre,
In a flame of fire,
Upon the little cradle's top
Flaring, flaring, flaring,
Past the eyesight's bearing,
Awake it from its sleep,
And see if it can keep
Its eyes upon the blaze --
It stares, it stares, it stares,
It dares what no one dares!
It lifts its little hand into the flame
Unharm'd, and on the strings
Paddles a little tune, and sings,
With dumb endeavour sweetly --
Bard art thou completely!
O' th' western wild,
Bard art thou completely!
Sweetly with dumb endeavour,
A Poet now or never,
O' th' western wild,
A Poet now or never!
by John Keats.
The Last Prophecy Of Cassandra
THE sun is fading in the skies,
And evening shades are gathering fast;
Fair city, ere that sun shall rise,
Thy night hath come,-thy day is past!
Ye know not,-but the hour is nigh;
Ye will not heed the warning breath;
No vision strikes your clouded eye,
To break the sleep that wakes in death.
Go, age, and let thy withered cheek
Be wet once more with freezing tears;
And bid thy trembling sorrows speak,
In accents of departed years.
Go, child, and pour thy sinless prayer
Before the everlasting throne;
And He, who sits in glory there,
May stoop to hear thy silver tone.
Go, warrior, in thy glittering steel,
And bow thee at the altar's side;
And bid thy frowning gods reveal
The doom their mystic counsels hide.
Go, maiden, in thy flowing veil,
And bare thy brow, and bend thy knee;
When the last hopes of mercy fail,
Thy God may yet remember thee.
Go, as thou didst in happier hours,
And lay thine incense on the shrine;
And greener leaves, and fairer flowers,
Around the sacred image twine.
I saw them rise, the buried dead,
From marble tomb and grassy mound;
I heard the spirits' printless tread,
And voices not of earthly sound.
I looked upon the quivering stream,
And its cold wave was bright with flame;
And wild, as from a fearful dream,
The wasted forms of battle came.
Ye will not hear, ye will not know,
Ye scorn the maniac's idle song;
Ye care not! but the voice of woe
Shall thunder loud, and echo long.
Blood shall be in your marble halls.
And spears shall glance, and fire shall glow;
Ruin shall sit upon your walls,
But ye shall lie in death below.
Ay, none shall live, to hear the storm
Around their blackened pillars sweep;
To shudder at the reptile's form,
Or scare the wild bird from her sleep.
America, A Prophecy
The shadowy Daughter of Urthona stood before red Orc,
When fourteen suns had faintly journey'd o'er his dark abode:
His food she brought in iron baskets, his drink in cups of iron:
Crown'd with a helmet and dark hair the nameless female stood;
A quiver with its burning stores, a bow like that of night,
When pestilence is shot from heaven: no other arms she need!
Invulnerable though naked, save where clouds roll round her loins
Their awful folds in the dark air: silent she stood as night;
For never from her iron tongue could voice or sound arise,
But dumb till that dread day when Orc assay'd his fierce embrace.
'Dark Virgin,' said the hairy youth, 'thy father stern, abhorr'd,
Rivets my tenfold chains while still on high my spirit soars;
Sometimes an Eagle screaming in the sky, sometimes a Lion
Stalking upon the mountains, and sometimes a Whale, I lash
The raging fathomless abyss; anon a Serpent folding
Around the pillars of Urthona, and round thy dark limbs
On the Canadian wilds I fold; feeble my spirit folds,
For chain'd beneath I rend these caverns: when thou bringest food
I howl my joy, and my red eyes seek to behold thy face--
In vain! these clouds roll to and fro, and hide thee from my sight.'
Silent as despairing love, and strong as jealousy,
The hairy shoulders rend the links; free are the wrists of fire;
Round the terrific loins he seiz'd the panting, struggling womb;
It joy'd: she put aside her clouds and smiled her first-born smile,
As when a black cloud shews its lightnings to the silent deep.
Soon as she saw the terrible boy, then burst the virgin cry:
'I know thee, I have found thee, and I will not let thee go:
Thou art the image of God who dwells in darkness of Africa,
And thou art fall'n to give me life in regions of dark death.
On my American plains I feel the struggling afflictions
Endur'd by roots that writhe their arms into the nether deep.
I see a Serpent in Canada who courts me to his love,
In Mexico an Eagle, and a Lion in Peru;
I see a Whale in the south-sea, drinking my soul away.
O what limb-rending pains I feel! thy fire and my frost
Mingle in howling pains, in furrows by thy lightnings rent.
This is eternal death, and this the torment long foretold.'
by William Blake.
The Wild Rose And The Snowdrop
The Snowdrop is the prophet of the flowers;
It lives and dies upon its bed of snows;
And like a thought of spring it comes and goes,
Hanging its head beside our leafless bowers.
The sun's betrothing kiss it never knows,
Nor all the glowing joy of golden showers;
But ever in a placid, pure repose,
More like a spirit with its look serene,
Droops its pale cheek veined thro' with infant green.
Queen of her sisters is the sweet Wild Rose,
Sprung from the earnest sun and ripe young June;
The year's own darling and the Summer's Queen!
Lustrous as the new-throned crescent moon.
Much of that early prophet look she shows,
Mixed with her fair espoused blush which glows,
As if the ethereal fairy blood were seen;
Like a soft evening over sunset snows,
Half twilight violet shade, half crimson sheen.
Twin-born are both in beauteousness, most fair
In all that glads the eye and charms the air;
In all that wakes emotions in the mind
And sows sweet sympathies for human kind.
Twin-born, albeit their seasons are apart,
They bloom together in the thoughtful heart;
Fair symbols of the marvels of our state,
Mute speakers of the oracles of fate!
For each, fulfilling nature's law, fulfils
Itself and its own aspirations pure;
Living and dying; letting faith ensure
New life when deathless Spring shall touch the hills.
Each perfect in its place; and each content
With that perfection which its being meant:
Divided not by months that intervene,
But linked by all the flowers that bud between.
Forever smiling thro' its season brief,
The one in glory and the one in grief:
Forever painting to our museful sight,
How lowlihead and loveliness unite.
Born from the first blind yearning of the earth
To be a mother and give happy birth,
Ere yet the northern sun such rapture brings,
Lo, from her virgin breast the Snowdrop springs;
And ere the snows have melted from the grass,
And not a strip of greensward doth appear,
Save the faint prophecy its cheeks declare,
Alone, unkissed, unloved, behold it pass!
While in the ripe enthronement of the year,
Whispering the breeze, and wedding the rich air
With her so sweet, delicious bridal breath, -
Odorous and exquisite beyond compare,
And starr'd with dews upon her forehead clear,
Fresh-hearted as a Maiden Queen should be
Who takes the land's devotion as her fee, -
The Wild Rose blooms, all summer for her dower,
Nature's most beautiful and perfect flower.
by George Meredith.
'WHAT can the matter be with the thermometer?
Is it the sun or the moon or the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old earth's pedometer?'
Thus in his study a weather philosopher
Mused — every minute more puzzled and cross over.
Wind-charts and notes he proceeded to toss over.
'Up in this tower, this breezy and barren height,
One should be cool as an elderly Sharonite.
Something is wrong with the scales of my Fahrenheit.
'T was but this morning the wind blowing northerly
Roughened the tops of the ocean waves frothily;
Now it has shifted, and seems to be southerly' —
(These are not rhymes — I am fully aware of it.
But the hot weather — for he had the care of it —
Fully excused him, and I have no share of it.)
Time to this sage was so precious that never he
Ate at regular hour; forever he
Seemed to be lost in a weather-wise reverie.
So a small kitchen the town-folks did make for him
Right underneath, where a servant could bake for him,
Boil for him, cook up a chop or a steak for him,
So that he need n't be starving while measuring
Rain-storms and calms that the heavens were treasuring.
'T was a bright thought which they took a great pleasure in;
For 't was the weather that made the great theme for them.
This was their day-talk and this their night's dream for them.
Here was the man who could skim the sky's cream for them;
Thousands of miles away see a cloud-macula —
Tell what was coming in language oracular —
Translate his science in common vernacular.
Quite independent of housekeeping syndicates
He could pronounce what the weather-glass indicates
Long ere old Boreas had opened his windy gates.
Knew all the signs from the Crab to Aquarius,
Shifting or permanent — single or various;
Bright signs that gladden us, dark signs that weary us,
Versed in the trade-winds and currents could spy a way
How a storm-centre in Texas or Iowa
Might prove a cyclone or peaceably die away.
Skilled in all secrets of meteorology,
Clear in his mind as that H I should follow G.
If he made blunders he made no apology.
He was the boldest of Old Probabilities;
Scorned all assistance and short-hand facilities.
Ah, what a thing to have genius and skill it is!
Pity if he should be forced to take off his eye;
Leave for a dinner his notes to a novice eye!
Food was a trifle for one who could prophesy.
So like the prophet of old when tile city he
Left for the woods, and the ravens had pity, he
Found himself served by a black-coat committee.
Now while engrossed in his figures, not dreaming it,
Bridget below in the kitchen was steaming it;
Making the building so hot that ice-cream in it
Melted like butter. Her stove and the range in it
Cooking his dinner — though this may seem strange in it —
Was the sole reason the air had a change in it.
Over his figures his brow getting rigid, he
Kept at his task, never thinking of Bridgety —
Growing each minute more fussy and fidgety.
Up through the speaking-tube rushed the hot air on him,
Bringing the steam of the boiler to bear on him.
So with a mystified sort of despair on him
Soon he proceeded to write and to scratch away,
And by his telegraph sent a despatch away —
(Never before was Old Prob so infatué)
Saying — 'It seems by my Aëroscopical
Great heats with thunder will soon be the topic all —
Weather, in short, most decidedly tropical.
Can it be sun-spots? Volcanic impurities
Caused by a meteor bursting? I'm sure it is
Something abnormal — but very obscure it is!
Possibly something may ail my thermometer;
Possibly 't is the effect of the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old Earth's pedometer.'
Prophets are struck now and then with insanity.
Ever since Adam man's measureless vanity
Thinks his own mood is the mind of humanity.
A sound of music, from amidst the hills,
Came suddenly, and died; a fitful sound
Of mirth, soon lost in wail.â€“Again it rose,
And sank in mournfulness.â€“There sat a bard,
By a blue stream of Erin, where it swept
Flashing thro' rock and wood; the sunset's light
Was on his wavy, silver-gleaming hair,
And the wind's whisper in the mountain-ash,
Whose clusters droop'd above. His head was bow'd,
His hand was on his harp, yet thence its touch
Had drawn but broken strains; and many stood,
Waiting around, in silent earnestness,
Th' unchaining of his soul, the gush of song,â€“
Many, and graceful forms! yet one alone
Seem'd present to his dream; and she indeed,
With her pale, virgin brow, and changeful cheek,
And the clear starlight of her serious eyes,
Lovely amidst the flowing of dark locks
And pallid braiding flowers, was beautiful,
Ev'n painfully!â€“a creature to behold
With trembling midst our joy, lest aught unseen
Should waft the vision from us, leaving earth
Too dim without its brightness!â€“Did such fear
O'ershadow, in that hour, the gifted one,
By his own rushing stream?â€“Once more he gaz'd
Upon the radiant girl, and yet once more
From the deep chords his wandering hand brought out
A few short festive notes, an opening strain
Of bridal melody, soon dash'd with grief,
As if some wailing spirit in the strings
Met and o'ermaster'd him: but yielding then
To the strong prophet-impulse, mournfully,
Like moaning waters o'er the harp he pour'd
The trouble of his haunted soul, and sangâ€“
Voice of the grave!
I hear thy thrilling call;
It comes in the dash of the foaming wave,
In the sear leaf's trembling fall!
In the shiver of the tree,
I hear thee, O thou voice!
And I would thy warning were but for me,
That my spirit might rejoice.
But thou art sent
For the sad earth's young and fair,
For the graceful heads that have not bent
To the wintry hand of care!
They hear the wind's low sigh,
And the river sweeping free,
And the green reeds murmuring heavily,
And the woodsâ€“but they hear not thee!
Long have I striven
With my deep foreboding soul,
But the full tide now its bounds hath riven,
And darkly on must roll.
There's a young brow smiling near,
With a bridal white-rose wreath,â€“
Unto me it smiles from a flowery bier,
Touch'd solemnly by death!
Fair art thou, Morna!
The sadness of thine eye
Is beautiful as silvery clouds
On the dark-blue summer sky!
And thy voice comes like the sound
Of a sweet and hidden rill,
That makes the dim woods tuneful roundâ€“
But soon it must be still!
Silence and dust
On thy sunny lips must lie,
Make not the strength of love thy trust,
A stronger yet is nigh!
No strain of festal flow
That my hand for thee hath tried,
But into dirge-notes wild and low
Its ringing tones have died.
Young art thou, Morna!
Yet on thy gentle head,
Like heavy dew on the lily's leaves,
A spirit hath been shed!
And the glance is thine which sees
Thro' nature's awful heartâ€“
But bright things go with the summer-breeze,
And thou too, must depart!
Yet shall I weep?
I know that in thy breast
There swells a fount of song too deep,
Too powerful for thy rest!
And the bitterness I know,
And the chill of this world's breathâ€“
Go, all undimm'd, in thy glory go!
Young and crown'd bride of death!
Take hence to heaven
Thy holy thoughts and bright,
And soaring hopes, that were not given
For the touch of mortal blight!
Might we follow in thy track,
This parting should not be!
But the spring shall give us violets back,
And every flower but thee!
There was a burst of tears around the bard:
All wept but one, and she serenely stood,
With her clear brow and dark religious eye,
Rais'd to the first faint star above the hills,
And cloudless; though it might be that her cheek
Was paler than before.â€“So Morna heard
The minstrel's prophecy.
And spring return'd,
Bringing the earth her lovely things again,
All, save the loveliest far! A voice, a smile,
A young sweet spirit gone.
They hear Thee not, O God! nor see;
Beneath Thy rod they mock at Thee;
The princes of our ancient line
Lie drunken with Assyrian wine;
The priests around Thy altar speak
The false words which their hearers seek;
And hymns which Chaldea's wanton maids
Have sung in Dura's idol-shades
Are with the Levites' chant ascending,
With Zion's holiest anthems blending!
On Israel's bleeding bosom set,
The heathen heel is crushing yet;
The towers upon our holy hill
Echo Chaldean footsteps still.
Our wasted shrines,--who weeps for them?
Who mourneth for Jerusalem?
Who turneth from his gains away?
Whose knee with mine is bowed to pray?
Who, leaving feast and purpling cup,
Takes Zion's lamentation up?
A sad and thoughtful youth, I went
With Israel's early banishment;
And where the sullen Chebar crept,
The ritual of my fathers kept.
The water for the trench I drew,
The firstling of the flock I slew,
And, standing at the altar's side,
I shared the Levites' lingering pride,
That still, amidst her mocking foes,
The smoke of Zion's offering rose.
In sudden whirlwind, cloud and flame,
The Spirit of the Highest came!
Before mine eyes a vision passed,
A glory terrible and vast;
With dreadful eyes of living things,
And sounding sweep of angel wings,
With circling light and sapphire throne,
And flame-like form of One thereon,
And voice of that dread Likeness sent
Down from the crystal firmament!
The burden of a prophet's power
Fell on me in that fearful hour;
From off unutterable woes
The curtain of the future rose;
I saw far down the coming time
The fiery chastisement of crime;
With noise of mingling hosts, and jar
Of falling towers and shouts of war,
I saw the nations rise and fall,
Like fire-gleams on my tent's white wall.
In dream and trance, I--saw the slain
Of Egypt heaped like harvest grain.
I saw the walls of sea-born Tyre
Swept over by the spoiler's fire;
And heard the low, expiring moan
Of Edom on his rocky throne;
And, woe is me! the wild lament
From Zion's desolation sent;
And felt within my heart each blow
Which laid her holy places low.
In bonds and sorrow, day by day,
Before the pictured tile I lay;
And there, as in a mirror, saw
The coming of Assyria's war;
Her swarthy lines of spearmen pass
Like locusts through Bethhoron's grass;
I saw them draw their stormy hem
Of battle round Jerusalem;
And, listening, heard the Hebrew wail!
Blend with the victor-trump of Baal!
Who trembled at my warning word?
Who owned the prophet of the Lord?
How mocked the rude, how scoffed the vile,
How stung the Levites' scornful smile,
As o'er my spirit, dark and slow,
The shadow crept of Israel's woe
As if the angel's mournful roll
Had left its record on my soul,
And traced in lines of darkness there
The picture of its great despair!
Yet ever at the hour I feel
My lips in prophecy unseal.
Prince, priest, and Levite gather near,
And Salem's daughters haste to hear,
On Chebar's waste and alien shore,
The harp of Judah swept once more.
They listen, as in Babel's throng
The Chaldeans to the dancer's song,
Or wild sabbeka's nightly play,--
As careless and as vain as they.
. . . . .
And thus, O Prophet-bard of old,
Hast thou thy tale of sorrow told
The same which earth's unwelcome seers
Have felt in all succeeding years.
Sport of the changeful multitude,
Nor calmly heard nor understood,
Their song has seemed a trick of art,
Their warnings but, the actor's part.
With bonds, and scorn, and evil will,
The world requites its prophets still.
So was it when the Holy One
The garments of the flesh put on
Men followed where the Highest led
For common gifts of daily bread,
And gross of ear, of vision dim,
Owned not the Godlike power of Him.
Vain as a dreamer's words to them
His wail above Jerusalem,
And meaningless the watch He kept
Through which His weak disciples slept.
Yet shrink not thou, whoe'er thou art,
For God's great purpose set apart,
Before whose far-discerning eyes,
The Future as the Present lies!
Beyond a narrow-bounded age
Stretches thy prophet-heritage,
Through Heaven's vast spaces angel-trod,
And through the eternal years of God
Thy audience, worlds!--all things to be
The witness of the Truth in thee!
Somewhere or other, 'tis doubtful where,
In the archives of Gosh is a volume rare,
A precious old classic that nobody reads,
And nobody asks for, and nobody heeds;
Which makes it a classic, and famed thro' the land,
As well-informed persons will quite understand.
'Tis a ponderous work, and 'tis written in prose,
For some mystical reason that nobody knows;
And it tells in a style that is terse and correct
Of the rule of the Swanks and its baneful effect
On the commerce of Gosh, on its morals and trade;
And it quotes a grave prophecy somebody made.
And this is the prophecy, written right bold
On a parchment all tattered and yellow and old;
So old and so tattered that nobody knows
How far into foretime its origin goes.
But this is the writing that set Glugs agog
When 'twas called to their minds by the Mayor of Quog:
When Gosh groaneth bastlie thro Greed and bys plannes
Ye rimer shall mende ye who mendes pottes and pans.
Now, the Mayor of Quog, a small suburb of Gosh,
Was intensely annoyed at the act of King Splosh
In asking the Mayor of Piphel to tea
With himself and the Queen on a Thursday at three;
When the King must have known that the sorriest dog,
If a native of Piphel, was hated in Quog.
An act without precedent! Quog was ignored!
The Mayor and Council and Charity Board,
They met and considered this insult to Quog;
And they said, ' 'Tis the work of the treacherous Og!
'Tis plain the Og influence threatens the Throne;
And the Swanks are all crazed with this trading in stone.'
Said the Mayor of Quog: 'This has long been foretold
In a prophecy penned by the Seer of old.
We must search, if we'd banish the curse of our time,
For a mender of pots who's a maker of rhyme.
'Tis to him we must look when our luck goes amiss.
But, Oh, where in all Gosh is a Glug such as this?'
Then the Mayor and Council and Charity Board
O'er the archival prophecy zealously pored,
With a pursing of lips and a shaking of heads,
With a searching and prying for possible threads
That would lead to discover this versatile Glug
Who modelled a rhyme while he mended a mug.
With a pursing of lips and a shaking of heads,
They gave up the task and went home to their beds,
Where each lay awake while he tortured his brain
For a key to the riddle, but ever in vain . . .
Then, lo, at the Mayor's front door in the morn
A tinker called out, and a Movement was born.
'Kettles and pans! Kettles and pans!
Oh, the stars are the god; but the earth, it is man's.
But a fool is the man who has wants without end,
While the tinker's content with a kettle to mend.
For a tinker owns naught but the earth, which is man's.
Then, bring out your kettles! Ho, kettles and pans!'
From the mayoral bed with unmayoral cries
The magistrate sprang ere he'd opened his eyes.
'Hold him!' he yelled, as he bounced on the floor.
'Oh, who is this tinker that rhymes at my door?
Go get me the name and the title of him 1'
They answered. 'Be calm, sir. 'Tis no one but Sym.
'Tis Sym, the mad tinker, the son of old Joi,
Who ran from his home when a bit of a boy.
He went for a tramp, tho' 'tis common belief,
When folk were not looking he went for a thief;
Then went for a tinker, and rhymes as he goes.
Some say he's crazy, but nobody knows.'
'Twas thus it began, the exalting of Sym,
And the mad Gluggish struggle that raged around him.
For the good Mayor seized him, and clothed him in silk,
And fed him on pumpkins and pasteurised milk,
And praised him in public, and coupled his name
With Gosh's vague prophet of archival fame.
The Press interviewed him a great many times,
And printed his portrait, and published his rhymes;
Till the King and Sir Stodge and the Swanks grew afraid
Of his fame 'mid the Glugs and the trouble it made.
For, wherever Sym went in the city of Gosh,
There were cheers for the tinker, and hoots for King Splosh.
His goings and comings were watched for and cheered;
And a crowd quickly gathered where'er he appeared.
All the folk flocked around him and shouted his praise;
For the Glugs followed fashion, and Sym was a craze.
They sued him for words, which they greeted with cheers,
For the way with a Glug is to tickle his ears.
'0, speak to us, Tinker! Your wisdom we crave!'
They'd cry when they saw him; then Sym would look grave,
And remark, with an air, ''Tis a very fine day.'
'Now ain't he a marvel?' they'd shout. 'Hip, Hooray!'
'To live,' would Sym answer, 'To live is to feel!'
'And ain't he a poet?' a fat Glug would squeal.
Sym had a quaint fancy in phrase and in text;
When he'd fed them with one they would howl for the next.
Thus he'd cry, 'Love is love 1' and the welkin they'd lift
With their shouts of surprise at his wonderful gift.
He would say 'After life, then a Glug must meet death!'
And they'd clamour for more ere he took the next breath.
But Sym grew aweary of this sort of praise,
And he longed to be back with his out-o'-door days,
With his feet in the grass and his back to a tree,
Rhyming and tinkering, fameless and free.
He said so one day to the Mayor of Quog,
And declared he'd as lief live the life of a dog.
But the Mayor was vexed; for the Movement had grown,
And his dreams had of late soared as high as a throne.
'Have a care! What is written is written,' said he.
'And the dullest Glug knows what is written must be.
'Tis the prophet of Gosh who has prophesied it;
And 'tis thus that 'tis written by him who so writ:
''Lo, the Tinker of Gosh he shall make him three rhymes:
One on the errors and aims of his times,
One on the symptoms of sin that he sees,
And the third and the last on whatever he please.
And when the Glugs hear them and mark what they mean
The land shall be purged and the nation made clean.''
So Sym gave a promise to write then and there
Three rhymes to be read in the Great Market Square
To all Glugs assembled on Saturday week.
'And then,' said the Mayor, 'if still you must seek
To return to your tramping, well, just have your fling;
But I'll make you a marquis, or any old thing . . .'
Said Sym, 'I shall tinker, and still be a king.'
The Falls Of The Chaudiere, Ottawa
I have laid my cheek to Nature's, placed my puny hand in hers,
Felt a kindred spirit warming all the life-blood of my face,
Moved amid the very foremost of her truest worshippers,
Studying each curve of beauty, marking every minute grace;
Loved not less the mountain cedar than the flowers at its feet,
Looking skyward from the valley, open-lipped as if in prayer,
Felt a pleasure in the brooklet singing of its wild retreat,
But I knelt before the splendour of the thunderous Chaudiere.
All my manhood waked within me, every nerve had tenfold force,
And my soul stood up rejoicing, looking on with cheerful eyes,
Watching the resistless waters speeding on their downward course,
Titan strength and queenly beauty diademed with rainbow dyes.
Eye and ear, with spirit quickened, mingled with the lovely strife,
Saw the living Genius shrined within her sanctuary fair,
Heard her voice of sweetness singing, peered into her hidden life,
And discerned the tuneful secret of the jubilant Chaudiere:
'Within my pearl-roofed shell,
Whose floor is woven with the iris bright,
Genius and Queen of the Chaudiere I dwell,
As in a world of immaterial light.
My throne, an ancient rock,
Marked by the foot of ages long-departed,
My joy, the cataract's stupendous shock,
Whose roll is music to the grateful-hearted.
I've seen the eras glide
With muffled tread to their eternal dreams,
While I have lived in vale and mountain side,
With leaping torrents and sweet purling streams.
The Red-Man's active life;
His love, pride, passions, courage, and great deeds;
His perfect freedom, and his thirst for strife;
His swift revenge, at which the memory bleeds:
The sanguinary years,
When sullen Terror, like a raging Fate,
Swept down the stately tribes like slaughtered deers,
And war and hatred joined to decimate
The remnants of the race,
And spread decay through centuries of pain-
No more I mark their sure, avenging pace,
And forests wave where war-whoops shook the plain.
Their deeds I envied not.
The royal tyrant on his purple throne,
I, in secluded grove or shady grot,
Had purer joys than he had ever known,
God made the ancient hills,
The valleys and the solemn wildernesses,
The merry-hearted and melodious rills,
And strung with diamond dews the pine-trees' tresses;
But man's hand built the palace,
And he that reigns therein is simply man;
Man turns God's gifts to poison in the chalice
That brimmed with nectar in the primal plan.
Here I abide alone-
The wild Chaudiere's eternal jubilee
Has such sweet divination in its tone,
And utters nature's truest prophecy
In thunderings of zeal!
I've seen the Atheist in terror start,
Awed to contrition by the strong appeal
That waked conviction in his doubting heart:
'Teachers speak throughout all nature,
From the womb of Silence born,
Heed ye not their words, O Scoffer?
Flinging back thy scorn with scorn!
To the desert spring that leapeth,
Pulsing, from the parched sod,
Points the famished trav'ler, saying-
'Brothers, here, indeed, is God!'
From the patriarchal fountains,
Sending forth their tribes of rills,
From the cedar-shadowed lakelets
In the hearts of distant hills,
Whispers softer than the moonbeams
Wisdom's gentle heart have awed,
Till its lips approved the cadence-
'Surely here, indeed, is God!'
Lo! o'er all, the Torrent Prophet,
An inspired Demosthenes,
To the Doubter's soul appealing,
Louder than the preacher-seas:
Dreamer! wouldst have nature spurn thee
For a dumb, insensate clod?
Dare to doubt! and these shall teach thee
Of a truth there lives a God!'
By day and night, for hours,
I watch the cataract's impulsive leap,
Refreshed and gladdened by the cheering showers
Wrung from the passion of the seething deep.
Pleased when the buried waves
Emerge again, like incorporeal hosts
Rising, white-sheeted, from their gloomy graves,
As if the depths had yielded up their ghosts.
And when the midnight storm
Enfolds the welkin in its robe of clouds,
Through the dim vapours of the cauldron swarm
The sheeted spectres in their whitest shrouds,
By the lightning's flash betrayed.
These gather from the insubstantial vapour
The lunar rainbows, which by them are made-
Woven with moonbeams by some starry taper,
To decorate the halls
Of my fair palace, whence I'm pained to see
Thy human brethren watch the waterfalls-
Not with such rev'rence as I've found in thee:
Too many with an eye
To speculation and the worldling's dreams;
Others, who seek from nature no reply,
Nor read the oral language of the streams.
But of the few who loved
The beautiful with grateful heart and soul,
Who looked on nature fondly, and were moved
By one sweet glance, as by the mighty whole:
Of these, the thoughtful few,
Thou wert the first to seek the inner temple,
And stand before the Priestess. Thou wert true
To nature and thyself. Be thy example
The harbinger of times
When the Chaudiere's imposing majesty
Will awe the spirits of the heartless mimes
To worship God in truth, with nature's constancy.'
Still I heard the mellow sweetness of her voice at intervals,
Mingling with the fall of waters, rising with the snowy spray,
Ringing through the sportive current like the joy of waterfalls,
Sending up their hearty vespers at the calmy close of day.
Loath to leave the scene of beauty, lover-like I stayed, and stayed,
Folding to my eager bosom memories beyond compare;
Deeper, stronger, more enduring than my dreams of wood and glade,
Were the eloquent appeals of the magnificent Chaudiere.
E'en the solid bridge is trembling, whence I look my last farewell,
Dizzy with the roar and trampling of the mighty herd of waves,
Speeding past the rocky Island, steadfast as a sentinel,
Towards the loveliest bay that ever mirrored the Algonquin Braves.
Soul of Beauty! Genius! Spirit! Priestess of the lovely strife!
In my heart thy words are shrined, as in a sanctuary fair;
Echoes of thy voice of sweetness, rousing all my better life,
Ever haunt my wildest visions of the jubilant Chaudiere.
by Charles Sangster.
The Prophecy Of St. Oran: Part Iv
It is the night: across the starless waste
Of silent heaven the solitary moon
Flits like a frightened maid who flies in haste,
And wild with terror seems to reel and swoon,
As in her rear the multitudinous clouds
Follow like spectral huntsmen in their shrouds.
And sometimes the wild rout o'ertakes its prey,
And holds her captive in the lowering sky,
But ever and anon she bursts away,
And her white orb floats lustrously on high,
And with its lambent flame transmutes the haze
Into a living halo for her face.
And far o'er black morass and barren moor
The fitful splendour of the moonlight falls,
Its broken eddies sweep across the floor,
And dance in chequered silver on the walls,
And flood the chapel's grave-encircled site
With sudden flashes of unearthly light.
And as the unquiet moonlight comes and flies
Athwart the little roofless house of prayer,
Like some lost spirit strayed from Paradise
Or dæmon-angel of the realms of air,
A pallid shape flits through the open door
And flings itself, low wailing, on the floor;
And wailing, wailing, lay there in its pain,
When suddenly it snatched from the out the sod
Some late-forgotten spade, while tears like rain
Poured from its eyes, enough to melt the clod,
And digging hard the small breach grew apace,
Till the soil lay like molehills round the place.
But through the silence suddenly there swells
Along the gusty breaths of midnight air
The mellow tinkling sound of magic bells,
Such as the pious brethren love to wear,
To keep the fiends and goblins off that prowl
For ever near to catch a tripping soul.
And as the monks, chanting a solemn hymn,
Draw nigh the chapel to perform their rite,
That wailing shape flies far into the dim
Recess behind the altar full of night;
While they with burning torches move in file
To consecrate afresh their sacred pile.
Three days, three nights have fled since in that spot,
Where fiends and dæmons revelled unforbid,
They buried that false monk who was a blot
Upon their rule: but since the earth has hid
His bones accursed, God's sun has shone again,
Nor has fresh ill assailed their prospering fane
Which now they enter, singing hymns of praise,
Columba at their head--when lo, behold
The grave yawns open and a bloodless face,
The face of him they knew, rose from the mould:
Slowly he rose from the incumbent clay
Lifting the white shroud in the moonlight grey.
Slowly his arm beneath the winding-sheet
He waved three times, as though to bid them hear;
Then in the moonlight rose he to his feet
Showing his shrunken body, and his sere
Discoloured hair, and smouldering eyes that lie
Sunk in their sockets, glaring hot and dry.
Slowly he raised his voice--once rich in tone
Like sweetest music, now a mournful knell
With dull sepulchral sounds, as of a stone
Cast down into a black unfathomed well--
And murmured, 'Lo, I come back from the grave,--
Behold, there is no God to smite or save.
'Poor fools! wild dreamers! No, there is no God;
Yon heaven is deaf and dumb to prayer and praise;
Lo, no almighty tyrant wields the rod
For evermore above our hapless race;
Nor fashioned us, frail creatures that we be,
To bear the burden of eternity.
'Hear it, self-torturing monks, and cease to wage
Your mad, delirious, suicidal war;
There is no devil who from age to age
Waylays and tempts all souls of men that are;
For ever seeking whom he may devour,
And damn with wine and woman, gold and power.
'Deluded priests, ye think the world a snare,
Denouncing every tender human tie!
Behold, your heaven is unsubstantial air,
Your future bliss a sick brain's phantasy;
There is no room amid the stars which gem
The firmament for your Jerusalem.
'Rejoice, poor sinners, for I come to tell
To you who hardly dare to live for fright;
There is no burning everlasting hell
Where souls shall be tormented day and night:
The fever ye call life ends with your breath;
All weary souls set in the night of death.
'Then let your life on earth be life indeed!
Nor drop the substance, snatching at a shade!
Ye can have Eden here! ye bear the seed
Of all the hells and heavens and gods ye made
Within that mighty world-transforming thought
Which permeates the universe it wrought--
'Wrought out of stones and plants and birds and beasts,
To flower in man, and know itself at last:
Around, about you, see what endless feasts
The spring and summer bountifully cast!
'A vale of tears,' ye cry--'if ye were wise,
The earth itself would change to Paradise.
'The earth itself--the old despisèd earth,
Would render back your love a thousandfold,
Nor yet afflict the sons of men with dearth,
Disease, and misery, and drought and cold;
If you would seek a blessing in her sod,
Instead of crying vainly on your God.
'Cast down the crucifix, take up the plough!
Nor waste your breath which is the life in prayer!
Dare to be men, and break you impious vow,
Nor fly from woman as the devil's snare!
For if within, around, beneath, above
There is a living God, that God is Love.'
'The fool says in his heart, There is no God,'
Cried St. Columba, white with Christian ire
'Seize Oran, re-inter him in the sod
And may his soul awake in endless fire:
Earth on his mouth--the earth he would adore,
That his blaspheming tongue may blab no more.'
Then like swart ravens swooping on their prey
These monks rushed upon Oran; when there came
One gliding towards them in wild disarray
With hair that streamed behind her like a flame
And face dazed with the moon, who shrilly cried,
'Let not death part the bridegroom from his bride.'
But deeming her some fiend in female guise,
They drive her forth with threats, till, crazed with fear,
Across the stones and mounded graves she flies
Towards that lapping, moon-illumined mere;
And like a child seeking its mother's breast
She casts her life thereon, and is at rest.
And while the waves close gurgling o'er her head,
A grave is dug whence he may never stray,
Or come back prophesying from the dead,--
All shouting as they stifle him with clay:
'Earth on his mouth--the earth he would adore,
That his blaspheming tongue may blab no more.'
by Mathilde Blind.
The Prophecy Of Samuel Sewall
Up and down the village streets
Strange are the forms my fancy meets,
For the thoughts and things of to-day are hid,
And through the veil of a closed lid
The ancient worthies I see again
I hear the tap of the elder's cane,
And his awful periwig I see,
And the silver buckles of shoe and knee.
Stately and slow, with thoughtful air,
His black cap hiding his whitened hair,
Walks the Judge of the great Assize,
Samuel Sewall the good and wise.
His face with lines of firmness wrought,
He wears the look of a man unbought,
Who swears to his hurt and changes not;
Yet, touched and softened nevertheless
With the grace of Christian gentleness,
The face that a child would climb to kiss!
True and tender and brave and just,
That man might honor and woman trust.
Touching and sad, a tale is told,
Like a penitent hymn of the Psalmist old,
Of the fast which the good man lifelong kept to
With a haunting sorrow that never slept,
As the circling year brought round the time
Of an error that left the sting of crime,
When he sat on the bench of the witchcraft courts,
With the laws of Moses and Hale's Reports,
And spake, in the name of both, the word
That gave the witch's neck to the cord,
And piled the oaken planks that pressed
The feeble life from the warlock's breast!
All the day long, from dawn to dawn,
His door was bolted, his curtain drawn;
No foot on his silent threshold trod,
No eye looked on him save that of God,
As he baffled the ghosts of the dead with charms
Of penitent tears, and prayers, and psalms,
And, with precious proofs from the sacred word
Of the boundless pity and love of the Lord,
His faith confirmed and his trust renewed
That the sin of his ignorance, sorely rued,
Might be washed away in the mingled flood
Of his human sorrow and Christ's dear blood!
Green forever the memory be
Of the Judge of the old Theocracy,
Whom even his errors glorified,
Like a far-seen, sunlit mountain-side
By the cloudy shadows which o'er it glide I
Honor and praise to the Puritan
Who the halting step of his age outran,
And, seeing the infinite worth of man
In the priceless gift the Father gave,
In the infinite love that stooped to save,
Dared not brand his brother a slave
'Who doth such wrong,' he was wont to say,
In his own quaint, picture-loving way,
'Flings up to Heaven a hand-grenade
Which God shall cast down upon his head!'
Widely as heaven and hell, contrast
That brave old jurist of the past
And the cunning trickster and knave of courts
Who the holy features of Truth distorts,
Ruling as right the will of the strong,
Poverty, crime, and weakness wrong;
Wide-eared to power, to the wronged and weak
Deaf as Egypt's gods of leek;
Scoffing aside at party's nod
Order of nature and law of God;
For whose dabbled ermine respect were waste,
Reverence folly, and awe misplaced;
Justice of whom 't were vain to seek
As from Koordish robber or Syrian Sheik!
Oh, leave the wretch to his bribes and sins;
Let him rot in the web of lies he spins!
To the saintly soul of the early day,
To the Christian judge, let us turn and say
'Praise and thanks for an honest man!-
Glory to God for the Puritan!'
I see, far southward, this quiet day,
The hills of Newbury rolling away,
With the many tints of the season gay,
Dreamily blending in autumn mist
Crimson, and gold, and amethyst.
Long and low, with dwarf trees crowned,
Plum Island lies, like a whale aground,
A stone's toss over the narrow sound.
Inland, as far as the eye can go,
The hills curve round like a bended bow;
A silver arrow from out them sprung,
I see the shine of the Quasycung;
And, round and round, over valley and hill,
Old roads winding, as old roads will,
Here to a ferry, and there to a mill;
And glimpses of chimneys and gabled eaves,
Through green elm arches and maple leaves,-
Old homesteads sacred to all that can
Gladden or sadden the heart of man,
Over whose thresholds of oak and stone
Life and Death have come and gone
There pictured tiles in the fireplace show,
Great beams sag from the ceiling low,
The dresser glitters with polished wares,
The long clock ticks on the foot-worn stairs,
And the low, broad chimney shows the crack
By the earthquake made a century back.
Up from their midst springs the village spire
With the crest of its cock in the sun afire;
Beyond are orchards and planting lands,
And great salt marshes and glimmering sands,
And, where north and south the coast-lines run,
The blink of the sea in breeze and sun!
I see it all like a chart unrolled,
But my thoughts are full of the past and old,
I hear the tales of my boyhood told;
And the shadows and shapes of early days
Flit dimly by in the veiling haze,
With measured movement and rhythmic chime
Weaving like shuttles my web of rhyme.
I think of the old man wise and good
Who once on yon misty hillsides stood,
(A poet who never measured rhyme,
A seer unknown to his dull-eared time,)
And, propped on his staff of age, looked down,
With his boyhood's love, on his native town,
Where, written, as if on its hills and plains,
His burden of prophecy yet remains,
For the voices of wood, and wave, and wind
To read in the ear of the musing mind:-
'As long as Plum Island, to guard the coast
As God appointed, shall keep its post;
As long as a salmon shall haunt the deep
Of Merrimac River, or sturgeon leap;
As long as pickerel swift and slim,
Or red-backed perch, in Crane Pond swim;
As long as the annual sea-fowl know
Their time to come and their time to go;
As long as cattle shall roam at will
The green, grass meadows by Turkey Hill;
As long as sheep shall look from the side
Of Oldtown Hill on marishes wide,
And Parker River, and salt-sea tide;
As long as a wandering pigeon shall search
The fields below from his white-oak perch,
When the barley-harvest is ripe and shorn,
And the dry husks fall from the standing corn;
As long as Nature shall not grow old,
Nor drop her work from her doting hold,
And her care for the Indian corn forget,
And the yellow rows in pairs to set;-
So long shall Christians here be born,
Grow up and ripen as God's sweet corn!-
By the beak of bird, by the breath of frost,
Shall never a holy ear be lost,
But, husked by Death in the Planter's sight,
Be sown again in the fields of light!'
The Island still is purple with plums,
Up the river the salmon comes,
The sturgeon leaps, and the wild-fowl feeds
On hillside berries and marish seeds,-
All the beautiful signs remain,
From spring-time sowing to autumn rain
The good man's vision returns again!
And let us hope, as well we can,
That the Silent Angel who garners man
May find some grain as of old lie found
In the human cornfield ripe and sound,
And the Lord of the Harvest deign to own
The precious seed by the fathers sown!
The Cynic's Bequest
In that fair city, Ispahan,
There dwelt a problematic man,
Whose angel never was released,
Who never once let out his beast,
But kept, through all the seasons' round,
Silence unbroken and profound.
No Prophecy, with ear applied
To key-hole of the future, tried
Successfully to catch a hint
Of what he'd do nor when begin 't;
As sternly did his past defy
Mild Retrospection's backward eye.
Though all admired his silent ways,
The women loudest were in praise:
For ladies love those men the most
Who never, never, never boast-
Who ne'er disclose their aims and ends
To naughty, naughty, naughty friends.
Yet, sooth to say, the fame outran
The merit of this doubtful man,
For taciturnity in him,
Though not a mere caprice or whim,
Was not a virtue, such as truth,
High birth, or beauty, wealth or youth.
'Twas known, indeed, throughout the span
Of Ispahan, of Gulistan
These utmost limits of the earth
Knew that the man was dumb from birth.
Unto the Sun with deep salaams
The Parsee spreads his morning palms
(A beacon blazing on a height
Warms o'er his piety by night.)
The Moslem deprecates the deed,
Cuts off the head that holds the creed,
Then reverently goes to grass,
Muttering thanks to Balaam's Ass
For faith and learning to refute
Idolatry so dissolute!
But should a maniac dash past,
With straws in beard and hands upcast,
To him (through whom, whene'er inclined
To preach a bit to Madmankind,
The Holy Prophet speaks his mind)
Our True Believer lifts his eyes
Devoutly and his prayer applies;
But next to Solyman the Great
Reveres the idiot's sacred state.
Small wonder then, our worthy mute
Was held in popular repute.
Had he been blind as well as mum,
Been lame as well as blind and dumb,
No bard that ever sang or soared
Could say how he had been adored.
More meagerly endowed, he drew
An homage less prodigious. True,
No soul his praises but did utter
All plied him with devotion's butter,
But none had out-'t was to their credit
The proselyting sword to spread it.
I state these truths, exactly why
The reader knows as well as I;
They've nothing in the world to do
With what I hope we're coming to
If Pegasus be good enough
To move when he has stood enough.
Egad! his ribs I would examine
Had I a sharper spur than famine,
Or even with that if 'twould incline
To examine his instead of mine.
Where was I? Ah, that silent man
Who dwelt one time in Ispahan-
He had a name-was known to all
As Meerza Solyman Zingall.
There lived afar in Astrabad,
A man the world agreed was mad,
So wickedly he broke his joke
Upon the heads of duller folk,
So miserly, from day to day,
He gathered up and hid away
In vaults obscure and cellars haunted
What many worthy people wanted,
A stingy man!-the tradesmen's palms
Were spread in vain: 'I give no alms
Without inquiry'-so he'd say,
And beat the needy duns away.
The bastinado did, 'tis true,
Persuade him, now and then, a few
Odd tens of thousands to disburse
To glut the taxman's hungry purse,
But still, so rich he grew, his fear
Was constant that the Shah might hear.
(The Shah had heard it long ago,
And asked the taxman if 'twere so,
Who promptly answered, rather airish,
The man had long been on the parish.)
The more he feared, the more he grew
A cynic and a miser, too,
Until his bitterness and pelf
Made him a terror to himself;
Then, with a razor's neckwise stroke,
He tartly cut his final joke.
So perished, not an hour too soon,
The wicked Muley Ben Maroon.
From Astrabad to Ispahan
At camel speed the rumor ran
That, breaking through tradition hoar,
And throwing all his kinsmen o'er,
The miser'd left his mighty store
Of gold-his palaces and lands-
To needy and deserving hands
(Except a penny here and there
To pay the dervishes for prayer.)
'Twas known indeed throughout the span
Of earth, and into Hindostan,
That our beloved mute was the
The people said 'twas very well,
And each man had a tale to tell
Of how he'd had a finger in 't
By dropping many a friendly hint
At Astrabad, you see. But ah,
They feared the news might reach the Shah!
To prove the will the lawyers bore 't
Before the Kadi's awful court,
Who nodded, when he heard it read,
Confirmingly his drowsy head,
Nor thought, his sleepiness so great,
Himself to gobble the estate.
'I give,' the dead had writ, 'my all
To Meerza Solyman Zingall
Of Ispahan. With this estate
I might quite easily create
Ten thousand ingrates, but I shun
Temptation and create but one,
In whom the whole unthankful crew
The rich man's air that ever drew
To fat their pauper lungs I fire
Vicarious with vain desire!
From foul Ingratitude's base rout
I pick this hapless devil out,
Bestowing on him all my lands,
My treasures, camels, slaves and bands
Of wives-I give him all this loot,
And throw my blessing in to boot.
Behold, O man, in this bequest
Philanthropy's long wrongs redressed:
To speak me ill that man I dower
With fiercest will who lacks the power.
Allah il Allah! now let him bloat
With rancor till his heart's afloat,
Unable to discharge the wave
Upon his benefactor's grave!'
Forth in their wrath the people came
And swore it was a sin and shame
To trick their blessed mute; and each
Protested, serious of speech,
That though _he'd_ long foreseen the worst
He'd been against it from the first.
By various means they vainly tried
The testament to set aside,
Each ready with his empty purse
To take upon himself the curse;
For _they_ had powers of invective
Enough to make it ineffective.
The ingrates mustered, every man,
And marched in force to Ispahan
(Which had not quite accommodation)
And held a camp of indignation.
The man, this while, who never spoke-
On whom had fallen this thunder-stroke
Of fortune, gave no feeling vent
Nor dropped a clue to his intent.
Whereas no power to him came
His benefactor to defame,
Some (such a length had slander gone to)
Even whispered that he didn't want to!
But none his secret could divine;
If suffering he made no sign,
Until one night as winter neared
From all his haunts he disappeared
Evanished in a doubtful blank
Like little crayfish in a bank,
Their heads retracting for a spell,
And pulling in their holes as well.
All through the land of Gul, the stout
Young Spring is kicking Winter out.
The grass sneaks in upon the scene,
Defacing it with bottle-green.
The stumbling lamb arrives to ply
His restless tail in every eye,
Eats nasty mint to spoil his meat
And make himself unfit to eat.
Madly his throat the bulbul tears
In every grove blasphemes and swears
As the immodest rose displays
Her shameless charms a dozen ways.
Lo! now, throughout the utmost span
Of Ispahan-of Gulistan-
A big new book's displayed in all
The shops and cumbers every stall.
The price is low-the dealers say 'tis-
And the rich are treated to it gratis.
Engraven on its foremost page
These title-words the eye engage:
'The Life of Muley Ben Maroon,
Of Astrabad-Rogue, Thief, Buffoon
And Miser-Liver by the Sweat
Of Better Men: A Lamponette
Composed in Rhyme and Written all
By Meerza Solyman Zingall!'
by Ambrose Bierce.
The Prophecy Of Capys
A Lay Sung at the Banquet in the Capitol, on the Day Whereon Manius Curius Dentatus, a Second Time Consul, Triumphed Over King Pyrrhus and the Tarentines, in the Year of the City CCCCLXXIX.
Now slain is King Amulius,
Of the great Sylvian line,
Who reigned in Alba Longa,
On the throne of Aventine.
Slain is the Ponfiff Camers,
Who spake the words of doom:
'The children to the Tiber,
The mother to the tomb.'
In Alba's lake no fisher
His net to-day is flinging;
On the dark rind of Alba's oaks
To-day no axe is ringing;
The yoke hangs o'er the manger;
The scythe lies in the hay:
Through all the Alban villages
No work is done to-day.
And every Alban burgher
Hath donned his whitest gown;
And every head in Alba
Weareth a poplar crown;
And every Alban door-post
With boughs and flowers is gay,
For to-day the dead are living,
The lost are found to-day.
They were doomed by a bloody king,
They were doomed by a lying priest,
They were cast on the raging flood,
They were tracked by the raging beast;
Raging beast and raging flood
Alike have spared the prey;
And to-day the dead are living,
The lost are found to-day.
The troubled river knew them,
And smoothed his yellow foam,
And gently rocked the cradle
That bore the fate of Rome.
The ravening she-wolf knew them,
And licked them o'er and o'er,
And gave them of her own fierce milk,
Rich with raw flesh and gore.
Twenty winters, twenty springs,
Since then have rolled away;
And to-day the dead are living:
The lost are found to-day.
Blithe it was to see the twins,
Right goodly youths and tall,
Marching from Alba Longa
To their old grandsire's hall.
Along their path fresh garlands
Are hung from tree to tree:
Before them stride the pipers,
Piping a note of glee.
On the right goes Romulus,
With arms to the elbows red,
And in his hand a broadsword,
And on the blade a head-
A head in an iron helmet,
With horse-hair hanging down,
A shaggy head, a swarthy head,
Fixed in a ghastly frown-
The head of King Amulius
Of the great Sylvian line,
Who reigned in Alba Longa,
On the throne of Aventine.
On the left side goes Remus,
With wrists and fingers red,
And in his hand a boar-spear,
And on the point a head-
A wrinkled head and aged,
With silver beard and hair,
And holy fillets round it,
Such as the pontiffs wear-
The head of ancient Camers,
Who spake the words of doom:
'The children to the Tiber;
The mother to the tomb.'
Two and two behind the twins
Their trusty comrades go,
Four and forty valiant men,
With club, and axe, and bow.
On each side every hamlet
Pours forth its joyous crowd,
Shouting lads and baying dogs,
And children laughing loud,
And old men weeping fondly
As Rhea's boys go by,
And maids who shriek to see the heads,
Yet, shrieking, press more nigh.
So marched they along the lake;
They marched by fold and stall,
By cornfield and by vineyard,
Unto the old man's hall.
In the hall-gate sat Capys,
Capys, the sightless seer;
From head to foot he trembled
As Romulus drew near.
And up stood stiff his thin white hair,
And his blind eyes flashed fire:
'Hail! foster child of the wondrous nurse!
Hail! son of the wondrous sire!'
'But thou-what dost thou here
In the old man's peaceful hall?
What doth the eagle in the coop,
The bison in the stall?
Our corn fills many a garner;
Our vines clasp many a tree;
Our flocks are white on many a hill:
But these are not for thee.
'For thee no treasure ripens
In the Tartessian mine;
For thee no ship brings precious bales
Across the Libyan brine;
Thou shalt not drink from amber;
Thou shalt not rest on down;
Arabia shall not steep thy locks,
Nor Sidon tinge thy gown.
'Leave gold and myrrh and jewels,
Rich table and soft bed,
To them who of man's seed are born,
Whom woman's milk have fed.
Thou wast not made for lucre,
For pleasure, nor for rest;
Thou, that art sprung from the War-god's loins,
And hast tugged at the she-wolf's breast.
'From sunrise unto sunset
All earth shall hear thy fame:
A glorious city thou shalt build,
And name it by thy name:
And there, unquenched through ages,
Like Vesta's sacred fire,
Shall live the spirit of thy nurse,
The spirit of thy sire.
'The ox toils through the furrow,
Obedient to the goad;
The patient ass, up flinty paths,
Plods with his weary load:
With whine and bound the spaniel
His master's whistle hears;
And the sheep yields her patiently
To the loud-clashing shears.
'But thy nurse will hear no master,
Thy nurse will bear no load;
And woe to them that shear her,
And woe to them that goad!
When all the pack, loud baying,
Her bloody lair surrounds,
She dies in silence, biting hard,
Amidst the dying hounds.
Pomona loves the orchard;
And Liber loves the vine;
And Pales loves the straw-built shed
Warm with the breath of kine;
And Venus loves the whispers
Of plighted youth and maid,
In April's ivory moonlight
Beneath the chestnut shade.
'But thy father loves the clashing
Of broadsword and of shield:
He loves to drink the steam that reeks
From the fresh battlefield:
He smiles a smile more dreadful
Than his own dreadful frown,
When he sees the thick black cloud of smoke
Go up from the conquered town.
'And such as is the War-god,
The author of thy line,
And such as she who suckled thee,
Even such be thou and thine.
Leave to the soft Campanian
His baths and his perfumes;
Leave to the sordid race of Tyre
Their dyeing-vats and looms;
Leave to the sons of Carthage
The rudder and the oar;
Leave to the Greek his marble Nymphs
And scrolls of wordy lore.
'Thine, Roman, is the pilum:
Roman, the sword is thine,
The even trench, the bristling mound,
The legion's ordered line;
And thine the wheels of triumph,
Which with their laurelled train
Move slowly up the shouting streets
To Jove's eternal flame.
Beneath thy yoke the Volscian
Shall vail his lofty brow;
Soft Capua's curled revellers
Before thy chairs shall bow:
The Lucumoes of Arnus
Shall quake thy rods to see;
And the proud Samnite's heart of steel
Shall yield to only thee.
'The Gaul shall come against thee
From the land of snow and night;
Thou shalt give his fair-haired armies
To the raven and the kite.
'The Greek shall come against thee,
The conqueror of the East.
Beside him stalks to battle
The huge earth-shaking beast,
The beast on whom the castle
With all its guards doth stand,
The beast who hath between his eyes
The serpent for a hand.
First march the bold Epirotes,
Wedged close with shield and spear
And the ranks of false Tarentum
Are glittering in the rear.
The ranks of false Tarentum
Like hunted sheep shall fly:
In vain the bold Epirotes
Shall round their standards die:
And Apennine's gray vultures
Shall have a noble feast
On the fat and the eyes
Of the the huge earth-shaking beast.
'Hurrah! for the good weapons
That keep the War-god's land.
Hurrah! for Rome's stout pilum
In a stout Roman hand.
Hurrah! for Rome's short broadsword
That through the thick array
Of levelled spears and serried shields
Hews deep its gory way.
'Hurrah! for the great triumph
That stretches many a mile.
Hurrah! for the wan captives
That pass in endless file.
Ho! bold Epirotes, whither
Hath the Red King taken flight?
Ho! dogs of false Tarentum,
Is not the gown washed white?
'Hurrah! for the great triumph
That stretches many a mile.
Hurrah! for the rich dye of Tyre,
And the fine web of Nile,
The helmets gay with plumage
Torn from the pheasant's wings,
The belts set thick with starry gem
That shone on Indian kings,
The urns of massy silver,
The goblets rough with gold,
The many-colored tablets bright
With loves and wars of old,
The stone that breathes and struggles,
The brass that seems to speak;-
Such cunning they who dwell on high
Have given unto the Greek.
'Hurrah! for Manius Curius,
The bravest son of Rome,
Thrice in utmost need sent forth,
Thrice drawn in triumph home.
Weave, weave, for Manius Curius
The third embroidered gown:
Make ready the third lofty car,
And twine the third green crown;
And yoke the steeds of Rosea
With necks like a bended bow,
And deck the bull, Mevania's bull,
The bull as white as snow.
'Blest and thrice blest the Roman
Who sees Rome's brightest day,
Who sees that long victorious pomp
Wind down the Sacred Way,
And through the bellowing Forum,
And round the Suppliant's Grove,
Up to the everlasting gates
Of Capitolian Jove.
'Then where, o'er two bright havens,
The towers of Corinth frown;
Where the gigantic King of Day
On his own Rhodes looks down;
Where oft Orontes murmurs
Beneath the laurel shades;
Where Nile reflects the endless length
Of dark red colonnades;
Where in the still deep water,
Sheltered from waves and blasts,
Bristles the dusky forest
Of Byrsa's thousand masts;
Where fur-clad hunters wander
Amidst the northern ice;
Where through the sand of morning-land
The camel bears the spice;
Where Atlas flings his shadow
Far o'er the western foam,
Shall be great fear on all who hear
The mighty name of Rome.'
The south-wind brings
Life, sunshine, and desire,
And on every mount and meadow
Breathes aromatic fire,
But over the dead he has no power,
The lost, the lost he cannot restore,
And, looking over the hills, I mourn
The darling who shall not return.
I see my empty house,
I see my trees repair their boughs,
And he, —the wondrous child,
Whose silver warble wild
Outvalued every pulsing sound
Within the air's cerulean round,
The hyacinthine boy, for whom
Morn well might break, and April bloom,
The gracious boy, who did adorn
The world whereinto he was born,
And by his countenance repay
The favor of the loving Day,
Has disappeared from the Day's eye;
Far and wide she cannot find him,
My hopes pursue, they cannot bind him.
Returned this day the south-wind searches
And finds young pines and budding birches,
But finds not the budding man;
Nature who lost him, cannot remake him;
Fate let him fall, Fate can't retake him;
Nature, Fate, men, him seek in vain.
And whither now, my truant wise and sweet,
Oh, whither tend thy feet?
I had the right, few days ago,
Thy steps to watch, thy place to know;
How have I forfeited the right?
Hast thou forgot me in a new delight?
I hearken for thy household cheer,
O eloquent child!
Whose voice, an equal messenger,
Conveyed thy meaning mild.
What though the pains and joys
Whereof it spoke were toys
Fitting his age and ken;—
Yet fairest dames and bearded men,
Who heard the sweet request
So gentle, wise, and grave,
Bended with joy to his behest,
And let the world's affairs go by,
Awhile to share his cordial game,
Or mend his wicker wagon frame,
Still plotting how their hungry ear
That winsome voice again might hear,
For his lips could well pronounce
Words that were persuasions.
Gentlest guardians marked serene
His early hope, his liberal mien,
Took counsel from his guiding eyes
To make this wisdom earthly wise.
Ah! vainly do these eyes recall
The school-march, each day's festival,
When every morn my bosom glowed
To watch the convoy on the road;—
The babe in willow wagon closed,
With rolling eyes and face composed,
With children forward and behind,
Like Cupids studiously inclined,
And he, the Chieftain, paced beside,
The centre of the troop allied,
With sunny face of sweet repose,
To guard the babe from fancied foes,
The little Captain innocent
Took the eye with him as he went,
Each village senior paused to scan
And speak the lovely caravan.
From the window I look out
To mark thy beautiful parade
Stately marching in cap and coat
To some tune by fairies played;
A music heard by thee alone
To works as noble led thee on.
Now love and pride, alas, in vain,
Up and down their glances strain.
The painted sled stands where it stood,
The kennel by the corded wood,
The gathered sticks to stanch the wall
Of the snow-tower, when snow should fall,
The ominous hole he dug in the sand,
And childhood's castles built or planned.
His daily haunts I well discern,
The poultry yard, the shed, the barn,
And every inch of garden ground
Paced by the blessed feet around,
From the road-side to the brook;
Whereinto he loved to look.
Step the meek birds where erst they ranged,
The wintry garden lies unchanged,
The brook into the stream runs on,
But the deep-eyed Boy is gone.
On that shaded day,
Dark with more clouds than tempests are,
When thou didst yield thy innocent breath
In bird-like heavings unto death,
Night came, and Nature had not thee,—
I said, we are mates in misery.
The morrow dawned with needless glow,
Each snow-bird chirped, each fowl must crow,
Each tramper started,— but the feet
Of the most beautiful and sweet
Of human youth had left the hill
And garden,—they were bound and still,
There's not a sparrow or a wren,
There's not a blade of autumn grain,
Which the four seasons do not tend,
And tides of life and increase lend,
And every chick of every bird,
And weed and rock-moss is preferred.
O ostriches' forgetfulness!
O loss of larger in the less!
Was there no star that could be sent,
No watcher in the firmament,
No angel from the countless host,
That loiters round the crystal coast,
Could stoop to heal that only child,
Nature's sweet marvel undefiled,
And keep the blossom of the earth,
Which all her harvests were not worth?
Not mine, I never called thee mine,
But nature's heir,— if I repine,
And, seeing rashly torn and moved,
Not what I made, but what I loved.
Grow early old with grief that then
Must to the wastes of nature go,—
'Tis because a general hope
Was quenched, and all must doubt and grope
For flattering planets seemed to say,
This child should ills of ages stay,—
By wondrous tongue and guided pen
Bring the flown muses back to men. —
Perchance, not he, but nature ailed,
The world, and not the infant failed,
It was not ripe yet, to sustain
A genius of so fine a strain,
Who gazed upon the sun and moon
As if he came unto his own,
And pregnant with his grander thought,
Brought the old order into doubt.
Awhile his beauty their beauty tried,
They could not feed him, and he died,
And wandered backward as in scorn
To wait an Æon to be born.
Ill day which made this beauty waste;
Plight broken, this high face defaced!
Some went and came about the dead,
And some in books of solace read,
Some to their friends the tidings say,
Some went to write, some went to pray,
One tarried here, there hurried one,
But their heart abode with none.
Covetous death bereaved us all
To aggrandize one funeral.
The eager Fate which carried thee
Took the largest part of me.
For this losing is true dying,
This is lordly man's down-lying,
This is slow but sure reclining,
Star by star his world resigning.
O child of Paradise!
Boy who made dear his father's home
In whose deep eyes
Men read the welfare of the times to come;
I am too much bereft;
The world dishonored thou hast left;
O truths and natures costly lie;
O trusted, broken prophecy!
O richest fortune sourly crossed;
Born for the future, to the future lost!
The deep Heart answered, Weepest thou?
Worthier cause for passion wild,
If I had not taken the child.
And deemest thou as those who pore
With aged eyes short way before?
Think'st Beauty vanished from the coast
Of matter, and thy darling lost?
Taught he not thee, — the man of eld,
Whose eyes within his eyes beheld
Heaven's numerous hierarchy span
The mystic gulf from God to man?
To be alone wilt thou begin,
When worlds of lovers hem thee in?
To-morrow, when the masks shall fall
That dizen nature's carnival,
The pure shall see, by their own will,
Which overflowing love shall fill,—
'Tis not within the force of Fate
The fate-conjoined to separate.
But thou, my votary, weepest thou?
I gave thee sight, where is it now?
I taught thy heart beyond the reach
Of ritual, Bible, or of speech;
Wrote in thy mind's transparent table
As far as the incommunicable;
Taught thee each private sign to raise
Lit by the supersolar blaze.
Past utterance and past belief,
And past the blasphemy of grief,
The mysteries of nature's heart,—
And though no muse can these impart,
Throb thine with nature's throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
I came to thee as to a friend,
Dearest, to thee I did not send
Tutors, but a joyful eye,
Innocence that matched the sky,
Lovely locks a form of wonder,
Laughter rich as woodland thunder;
That thou might'st entertain apart
The richest flowering of all art;
And, as the great all-loving Day
Through smallest chambers takes its way,
That thou might'st break thy daily bread
With Prophet, Saviour, and head;
That thou might'st cherish for thine own
The riches of sweet Mary's Son,
Boy-Rabbi, Israel's Paragon:
And thoughtest thou such guest
Would in thy hall take up his rest?
Would rushing life forget its laws,
Fate's glowing revolution pause?
High omens ask diviner guess,
Not to be conned to tediousness.
And know, my higher gifts unbind
The zone that girds the incarnate mind,
When the scanty shores are full
With Thought's perilous whirling pool,
When frail Nature can no more,—
Then the spirit strikes the hour,
My servant Death with solving rite
Pours finite into infinite.
Wilt thou freeze love's tidal flow,
Whose streams through nature circling go?
Nail the star struggling to its track
On the half-climbed Zodiack?
Light is light which radiates,
Blood is blood which circulates,
Life is life which generates,
And many-seeming life is one,—
Wilt thou transfix and make it none,
Its onward stream too starkly pent
In figure, bone, and lineament?
Wilt thou uncalled interrogate
Talker! the unreplying fate?
Nor see the Genius of the whole
Ascendant in the private soul,
Beckon it when to go and come,
Self-announced its hour of doom.
Fair the soul's recess and shrine,
Magic-built, to last a season,
Masterpiece of love benign!
Fairer than expansive reason
Whose omen 'tis, and sign.
Wilt thou not ope this heart to know
What rainbows teach and sunsets show,
Verdict which accumulates
From lengthened scroll of human fates,
Voice of earth to earth returned,
Prayers of heart that inly burned;
Saying, what is excellent,
As God lives, is permanent
Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain,
Heart's love will meet thee again.
Revere the Maker; fetch thine eye
Up to His style, and manners of the sky.
Not of adamant and gold
Built He heaven stark and cold,
No, but a nest of bending reeds,
Flowering grass and scented weeds,
Or like a traveller's fleeting tent,
Or bow above the tempest pent,
Built of tears and sacred flames,
And virtue reaching to its aims;
Built of furtherance and pursuing,
Not of spent deeds, but of doing.
Silent rushes the swift Lord
Through ruined systems still restored,
Broad-sowing, bleak and void to bless,
Plants with worlds the wilderness,
Waters with tears of ancient sorrow
Apples of Eden ripe to-morrow;
House and tenant go to ground,
Lost in God, in Godhead found.
The Prophecy Of St. Oran: Part Iii
'A CURSE is on this work!' Columba cried;
And with their dark robes flapping in the gale,
The frightened monks came hurrying to his side,
And looked at one another turning pale;
For every night the work done in the day
Strewn on the ground in wild confusion lay.
'A curse is on this work!' he cried again
As his keen glances swept each face in turn:
'Behold, God smites us in the hurricane,
And in the lightning doth His anger burn.
Brethren, some secret deadly sin there is
Known to the Lord for which we suffer this.
'Why is it that the elements combine
Against us, raging in relentless ire
Against our humble wave-encircled shrine?
That air, that water, that consuming fire
Inveterately war against this fane
Which we would build, but ever build in vain?
'Why is it that the billows of the deep
Rise in revolt against the rock-bound shore,
Lashing themselves to fury on each steep,
Till inland lakes, awakening at the roar,
Now roar in mad response, and swell amain,
Till broadening waters hide the drowning plain?
'One night, ye know, from out the imminent gloom,
Shrouding the firmament as in a pall,
The levin, like a spirit from the tomb,
Leaped with a ghastly glare, and in its fall
Struck the new roof-tree with reverberate crash,
And left a little heap of shrivelled ash.
'Another night--why need I tell the tale?--
The winds in legions thundered through the air,
Battering the walls with sudden gusts of hail,
They rushed with piercing shrieks and strident blare
Athwart the cloisters and the roofless hall,
Till stone by stone fell from the rocking wall.
'And then the very water turned our foe,
For in the dead of night it slowly crept,
Soft wave on wave, till in its overflow
It deluged all the basement while we slept;
And where the convent yesterday did stand,
There spreads the lake as level as my hand.
'And then, when slowly after many days
The waters had subsided to the main,
And through the toilsome hours we sought to raise
Our ever-shattered structure once again,
Behold! the earth herself with stone and block
Shudders convulsive and begins to rock.
'For lo, the fiends let loose at God's command
Burrow and delve in subterranean gloom,
Till like the troubled ocean all the land
Heaves to and fro as tottering to its doom:
The quiet graves themselves now bursting yawn,
God's holy house once more lies overthrown!
'And now hath come the hour of darkest need--
The people have abandoned us! They wail
That their dead fathers rage against our creed,
That in dark rushing cloud and roaring gale
The houseless spirits ride and fill the air
With lamentations for the gods that were!
'The Lord rebukes us in His wrath! I ask,
Again I ask, what man among you all
Living in deadly sin, yet wears the mask
Of sanctity? Yea, let him cleanse his soul,
Confessing all the crying guilt of it,
Or go for ever to the burning pit!'
Again his eagle glances swept each face,
While the assembled monks, with anxious sigh,
Asked with a thrill of horror and amaze,
'Was it indeed a judgment from on high?'
As with one voice then cried the saintly throng,
'Not I--not I--know of that hidden wrong.'
And with uplifted arms they loudly prayed,
'Oh Lord, if in our midst the traitor bides
Who breaks the sacramental vow he made,
And takes Thy name in vain, and basely hides
His wicked ways from every eye save Thine--
Let his dark sin stand forth, and make a sign.'
All day expectant, waiting on His will,
The monks in reverential silence stand
Beneath the rustling pine-trees of the hill,
Whence their eyes sweep across the level land:
Lo, from afar the vision of a maid
Comes o'er the shining pools the flood has made.
Swiftly she came across the devious track,
With glimmering waterways on either hand;
Against the luminous vapour at her back
Her dusky form looms mystically grand;
While in the liquid crystal by her side
The phantom of herself seems still to glide.
Was she a spirit risen from the grave
When its foul depths lay open to the sky,
Or ghost of Druid priestess wont to rave
Her blasphemous oracles in times gone by,
Who ventured thus upon the sacred isle
For ever barred against a woman's wile?
But no! as nearer and more near she draws,
They see a maiden with the wild deer's grace
Bounding from stone to stone, whose beauty awes
These Christian fathers, riveting their gaze;
For like the full moon framed in amber air
Her face shone mid the glory of her hair.
Then in their midst all breathless did she stand,
But paused bewildered and as one affrayed,--
Even as a swift wave making for the strand
With all its waters gathering to a head
Delays, suspended with back-fluttering locks,
Then breaks in showers of brine upon the rocks.
So for a moment motionless she stood,
From monk to monk her wildered glances stray;
Immovable, like figures carved in wood,
These waited what their master's lips would say,
But ever and anon, in mute appeal,
Her piteous eyes to Oran's face would steal.
Only for one brief moment she delayed,
Struck speechless at his cold averted mien,
Then with a long low moan she blindly swayed
With her fair arms towards him, and in keen
Unutterable anguish cried aghast--
'Is this a dream, or am I mad at last?
'Dost thou not know me, Oran--Oran mine?
Look on me; I am Mona, I am she
For whom thy soul so thirstily did pine!
Nay, turn not from me! Say, art thou not he
Whose mouth to my mouth yearningly was pressed,
Whose dearest head lay pillowed on my breast?
'Dear, be not wroth with me in that I came;
For our love's sake look not so stern and grave;
Ah, surely thou wilt think me free from blame
For having dared to break the word I gave,
When I have told thee what has brought me here,
How sore distraught I was with grief and fear.
Oh love, when night came swooping o'er the sea,
And on the poor folk's tired eyelids sleep
Fell like a seabird's feather, stealthily
I climbed the jagged overhanging steep
Whose giddy summit looks towards thy home,
Wondering if haply I might see thee come.
When, lo! the solid cliff began to shake
As in an ague fit, and while I stood
Trembling, methought the maddening sea would break
Its everlasting limits, for the flood
Came crashing in loud thunder o'er the land,
And swept our huts like seaweed from the sand.
Then a great horror seized me, and I reeled
And fell upon my face, and knew no more.
When from that trance I woke, the sun had wheeled
Far up the sky and shone upon the shore,
And there beneath the bright and cloudless sky
I saw a heap of mangled corpses lie.
Shrieking I fled, and paused not in my fright
Fleeing I knew not whither, but my feet
Flew swift as ever arrow in its flight
To thee, my love! Hast thou no smile to greet
Thy Mona with,--no kiss? For pity's sake,
Speak to me, Oran, or my heart will break.'
All held their breath when she had made her moan:
All eyes were fixed on that pale monk, who stood
Unnaturally quiet--like a stone
Whose flinty sides are fretted by the flood--
When St. Columba turned on him, and said,
'I bid thee speak,--man, knowest thou this maid?'
Then answered him the other, but his words
Rang hollow like the toll of funeral bell,
And on his humid brows like knotted cords
The livid veins and arteries seemed to swell,
Facing the accusation of his eyes,
'Master, I know her not--the woman lies!'
A hum of indignation, doubt, alarm,
Ran through their circle, but none durst to speak
Before the Master, who with lifted arm
And eyes whence fiery flashes seemed to break,
Cried very loudly, 'Is it even so,--
Then help me God but I will rout this foe!
'Look, brethren, on this lovely maiden, fair
As virginal white lilies newly blown,
Fresh as the first breath of the vernal air,
Pure as an incarnation of the dawn;
Look on that golden glory of her hair,--
It is a man-trap, Satan's deadliest snare.
'Brethren, let the two eldest of you seize
This fiend in angel's garb, this beast of prey
Which lies in wait behind that snowy fleece
Lusting to take our brother's name away,
And blast his fame for purest sanctity
With lies forged by our common enemy!
'Seize her, and bear her to that frightful steep
Where, bristling with huge pier and jagged spire,
The spectre rock which overhangs the deep
Pierces the ghastly clouds like frozen fire;
There standing, fling her from its giddiest cone--
Into the ocean fling her, like a stone.'
The sentence had gone forth; the monks obeyed;
Two venerable brothers, deep in years,
First crossed themselves, then seized the struggling maid
In their stout arms; despite her prayers and tears,
And wild appears on him she called her love,
They with their burden now began to move.
But he, whose human flesh seemed petrified
To marble, started from that rigid mood,
And blindly running after them, he cried,
'Hold! hold! stain not your hands with innocent blood;
I broke my vow, I am the sinner, I
Seduced the maid,--spare her, and let me die.'
They halted midway, marvelling, aghast,
When St. Columba thundered to them 'Stay!'
His voice was like a dreadful battle-blast,
And startled coveys rose and whirred away:
'He broke his vow, he is the sinner; aye
Do as he says--spare her, and let him die!
'Yea, well I saw the gnawing worm within,
But wished to tear the mask from off his soul,
That in the naked hideousness of sin
He might stand pilloried before you all:
This is a judgment on me from above
For loving him with more than woman's love.'
His voice here failed him and he hid his face;
And as before some imminent storm all sound
In earth, air, ocean ceases for a space,
There fell a breathless silence on that mound;
But when Columba raised his voice once more,
It seemed the muffled thunder's boding roar.
'Oh perjured one! oh breaker of thy vow!
Oh base, apostate monk, whose guilt abhorred
Weighed down our walls and laid our chapel low!
Thy life shall be an offering to the Lord,
And with thy blood we will cement the fane
Which for thy sin's sake still was built in vain.
'Seize him, and bear him to that dolorous site
Where mid our ruined cells the chapel stands
Whose holy walls and columns every night
Have fallen beneath the blow of dæmon hands;
There, living, bury him beneath its sod,
And so propitiate the Lord our God.'
by Mathilde Blind.
The Prophecy Of St. Oran: Part Ii
THERE was a windless mere, on whose smooth breast
A little island, flushed with purple bloom,
Lay gently cradled like a moorhen's nest:
It glowed like some rich jewel 'mid the gloom
Of sluggish leagues of peat and black morass,
Without or shrub or tree or blade of grass.
But on the isle itself the birch was seen
With its ethereal foliage, like some haze
Floating among the rowan's vivid green;
The ground with fern all feathered, and ablaze
With heath's and harebell's hyacinthine hue,
Was mirrored in the wave's intenser blue.
This was the immemorial isle of graves,
Here, under nameless mound and dateless stone,
The generations, like successive waves,
Had rolled one o'er the other, and had gone
As these go, indistinguishably fused
Their separate lives in common death confused.
And here amid the dead Columba chose
To found God's holy house and sow His word;
Already here and there the walls arose,
Built from the stones imbedded in the sward;
These did the natives without mortar pile,
As was the ancient custom of their isle.
For many of them to the work were won
By reverence for the saint, and thus apace
The chapel grew which they had first begun
As dedicate to God's perpetual praise;
So many of the monks again were free
To give thought wholly to their ministry.
And ever first in hastening to his task
St. Oran was, though last to seek repose;
Columba's best beloved, he still would ask
For heaviest share of duty, while he chose
Rude penances, till shadow-like he grew
With fasts and vigils that the flesh subdue.
Yet there was that which would not be subdued--
A shape, a presence haunting every dream;
Fair as the moon that shines above a flood,
And ever trembles on the trembling stream;
Sweet as some gust of fragrance, unaware
Stealing upon us on the summer air.
Even so it stole upon his ravished heart,
Suffusing every fibre with delight,
Till from his troubled slumber he would start,
And, as with ague shivering and affright,
Catch broken speech low murmuring in his ears,
And feel his eyelids ache with unshed tears.
But it befell one windy afternoon,
While monks and men were busied with the roof,
Laying the beams through which the sun and moon
Might shed their light as yet without reproof,
That there came one across the lonely waste
Toward these men of God, crying in haste,--
'Ye say ye came to save us, save us then!
Save us if ye spake truth, and not a lie!
Famine and fever stalk among us,--men,
Women, and children are struck down and die!
For lo, the murrain smites our cowering sheep,
The fishers haul no fish from out the deep.
'Ye tell us that your God did multiply
A few small fishes, wherewithal He fed
A multitude; in sooth, if 'tis no lie,
Then come, ye holy men, and give us bread!
For they are starving by the waterside,--
Come then, and give us bread,' he loudly cried.
He was a man inspiring dread surprise,
Half-naked, with long glibs of bristling hair
In fiery meshes tumbling o'er his eyes,
Which, like a famished wolf's from out its lair,
Glanced restlessly; his dog behind him came,
Whose lolling tongue hung down like scarlet flame.
'Let me arise, and go to them withal!'
Cried Oran, flinging down his implement:
'This heavy tribulation is a call
From the Most High; a blessed instrument
To compass their salvation: let me go
Teach them what mercy worketh in their woe.'
'Go then, my son, and God go with thee still,
While I abide to speed His temple here,'
Said St. Columba; 'and thy basket fill
With herbs and cordials, also wine to cheer
And bread to feed the poor, so that their days
May still endure to God's eternal praise.'
Then Oran and that wild man forth did fare,
And o'er the little lake they rowed in haste,
And mounting each a small and shaggy mare,
They ambled o'er that solitary waste,
Then through a sterile glen their road did lie
Whose shrouded peaks loomed awfully on high.
When for a mile or two they thus had gone,
The mountains opened wide on either hand,
And lo, amid those labyrinths of stone
The sea had got entangled in the land,
And turned and twisted, struggling to get free,
And be once more the immeasurable sea.
It was a sorcerous, elemental place,
O'er which there now came rushing from the plain--
Like some dark host whom yelling victors chase--
A moving pillar of resistless rain
Shivering the gleaming lances in its flight
Against the bastions of each monstrous height.
Fast, fast it raced before the roaring gale,
With shrieks and frenzied howlings that did shake
The very stones with long-resounding wail,
And in outlying gorges would it wake
The startled echo's sympathetic scream,
Then whirling on would vanish like a dream,--
Would vanish dream-like, whither no man knows,
Fading afar in vaporous gulfs of light,
While the wet mountain-tops flushed like a rose,
And following the spent tempest in its flight
Its hues ethereal mantling o'er the gloom,
There glowed the rainbow's evanescent bloom.
And while that rain still drenched him to the skin,
St. Oran, unappalled, intoned a psalm,
And lifting up his voice amidst the din,
He sang, 'We laud Thee, Lord, through storm and calm,
In the revolving stars we see Thine hand,
The sun and moon rise as Thou dost command.
'We laud Thee for the evening and the morn,
And the prolific seasons' changing boon,
For singing-birds, and flowers, and ripening corn,
For tides that rise and fall beneath the moon;
As in a mirror darkling do we see
The shadow that Thou castest on the sea.'
Up many a wild ascent, down many a steep
Clothed with scant herbage, rode that battered pair,
Where lay the bleaching bones of mangled sheep,
And carrion crows wheeled hoarsely in the air;
At last through mist and darkness they espied
Small lights that twinkled by the waterside.
There in dark turf-built hovels close to earth
Lay the poor sufferers on their beds of heath,
Gnawed to the very bone by cruel dearth,
Cold to the marrow with approaching death;
Thither came Oran like some vision bright,
And ministered to each one through the night.
And so dispensing alms he went and came,
Stooping to enter the last house of all;
There, by the peat-fire's orange-coloured flame,
Whose flashes fitfully did rise and fall
On the smoke-blackened rafters--sat a crone
Ancient it might be as the lichened stone.
Fast through her bony fingers flies the thread,
And as her foot still turns the whirring wheel,
She seems to spin the yarn of quick and dead!
But oh, what makes St. Oran's senses reel?
Whose is the shape clad in its golden hair
That turns and tosses on the pallet there?
Like some wan water lily veiled in mist
When puffs of wind its tender petals shake,
Whose chalice by the shining moonbeams kissed
Sways to and fro upon the swelling lake,
So white--so wan--so wonderfully fair,
Showed Mona tossing mid her golden hair.
What should he do? Ah, whither should he turn?
Why had God let this trial come again?
Her beauty, half-revealed, did straightly burn
Through his hot eyeballs to his kindling brain.
Was it his duty to go hence or stay?
He wavered--gazed on her--then turned away.
But that old woman tottered to the door
And clutched his cassock with a shaking hand,
And mumbled, 'Priest, ah! dost thou shun the poor?
They say that ye go bragging through the land
Of some new God called Christian Charity;
But in our need ye turn from us and fly.'
So spake the crone, but Oran bowed his head
And murmured, 'If thou bid'st me, I abide.'
With downcast eyes he turned towards the bed
In fervent prayer low kneeling by its side:
At last he rose, pale, cold, and deadly still,
With heart subdued to his stern Maker's will.
Thus through her fever did he tend the maid,
Who babbled wildly in delirious trance
Of her lost home, and her loved kindred laid
In alien earth--and of a countenance
Fair as a spirit's comforting her pain,
But soon withdrawn to its own heaven again.
All this unflinching would the monk endure,
And having cured her body's sickness, strove
With double zeal her sicker soul to cure:
But when he told her of the Saviour's love,
Of sin, and its atonement, and free grace,
She looked in puzzled wonder on his face.
She could not understand his mournful creed,
Nor knew, poor child, of what she should repent,
Nor why her heart was wicked, and had need
That some poor pitying God should once have spent
His blood for her five hundred years ago--
Ancestral voices never told her so!
She could not understand, but she could feel!
And while she sat before him by the flame
The pathos of his pleading voice would steal
Sweeter than sweetest music through her frame,
And as the ocean murmur in a shell
Through her dim soul his solemn accents swell.
He was the air she breathed--all living things
Were pale reflections of him--as the hart
In desert places thirsts for water-springs,
Even thus for him she thirsted in her heart;
To her it seemed as if life's aim and end
Were just to lay her hand within his hand.
Her eyes were full of love as stars of light,
And pierced the cold obstructive atmosphere
Of his joy-killing creed, and did ignite
His inmost spirit of sense with fire as clear
And radiant as their own--their beaming looks
Mingled as flames of fire or meeting brooks.
Was he not young and beautiful?--in face
Like to that radiant god whose flame divine
The Druid worshipped in those younger days
Ere sin had stamped the green earth with its sign,
Had made the loveliness of flowers a snare,
And bid frail man of woman's love beware.
Oh, not for him, through all the lonely years
Never for him a woman's love might bloom;
Her smiles would never cheer him, nor her tears
Fall softly on his unlamented tomb;
Never till quenched in death's supreme eclipse
His lips would know the sweetness of her lips.
Oh God! would nothing quench that secret fire,
Nor yet assuage that hunger of the heart?
To feel this flagellation of desire,
To be so near, yet evermore apart,
Never to clasp this woman as a wife--
This was the crowning penance of his life.
But lo! one day at dusk they were alone,
The rain was beating down on roof and wall,
The round of earth with solid rock and stone
Had turned phantasmal in its misty pall:
They were alone, but neither spake a word--
Only their hearts in throbbing might be heard.
Whose is that low involuntary cry
That like a flash of lightning shook each frame
With thrill electric? Simultaneously
Their yearning lips had sobbed each other's name!
With swift instinctive dread they move apart
While magnet-like each draws the other's heart.
What boots it thus to struggle with his sin,
So much more sweet than all his virtues were?
Like a great flood let all her love roll in
And his soul stifle mid her golden hair!
And so he barters his eternal bliss
For the divine delirium of her kiss!
What cares he for his soul's salvation now?
Let it go to perdition evermore
For breaking that accursed monastic vow
Which cankers a man's nature to the core;
For he had striven as never mortal strove,
But than his Lord a mightier lord was Love.
by Mathilde Blind.
The Prophecy Of St. Oran: Part I
'Earth, earth on the mouth of Oran, that he may blab no more.' Gaelic Proverb.
THE storm had ceased to rave: subsiding slow
Lashed ocean heaved, and then lay calm and still;
From the clear North a little breeze did blow
Severing the clouds: high o'er a wooded hill
The slant sun hung intolerably bright,
And spanned the sea with a broad bridge of light.
Now St. Columba rose from where he sat
Among his monkish crew; and lifting high
His pale worn hands, his eagle glances met
The awful glory which suffused the sky.
As soars the lark, sweet singing from the sod,
So prayer is wafted from his soul to God.
For they in their rude coracle that day
Shuddered had climbed the crests of mountainous wave,
To plunge down glassy walls of shifting spray,
From which death roared as from an open grave;
Till, the grim fury of the tempest o'er,
Bursts on their ravished sight an azure shore.
Ah! is this solid earth which meets their view,
Or some still cloud-land islanded on high?
Those crags are too aërially blue,
Too soft those mountains mingling with the sky,
And too ineffable their dewy gleam,
For aught but fabric of a fleeting dream.
Entranced they gaze, and o'er the glimmering track
Of seething gold and foaming silver row:
Now to their left tower headlands, bare and black
And blasted, with grey centuries of snow,
Deep in whose echoing caves, with hollow sighs,
Monotonous seas for ever ebb and rise.
Rounding these rocks, they glide into a deep
And tranquil bay, in whose translucent flood
The shadows of the azure mountains sleep:
High on a hill, amid green foliage, stood
A square and rough-hewn tower, whose time-bleached stone,
Like some red beacon, with the sunset shone.
A few more vigorous strokes, and the sharp keel
Grates on the beach, on which, inclining low
Their tonsured heads, the monks adoring kneel;
While St. Columba, his pale face aglow
With outward light and inward, lifts on high
The Cross, swart outlined on the burning sky.
Impassive, though in silent wonder, stood
The islesmen while these worshipped, on their shore,
A thorn-crowned figure nailed upon the wood,
From whose pierced side the dark blood seemed to pour;
While on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
They loudly called as brow and breast they crost.
Spoke now their Master, in a voice whose ring
Was like the west wind's in a twilight grove:
'Glad tidings to this sea-girt isle we bring,
Good tidings of our heavenly Father's love,
Who sent His only Son,--oh, marvellous
Deep love!--to die that He might ransom us.'
'Come! listen to the story of our Lord!
Sweet Jesus Christ, a child of lowly birth,
Whom in the manger the wise kings adored,
For well they knew Him Lord of Heaven and Earth,
With myrrh and spice they journeyed from the far
Prophetic East, led by the Pilgrim Star:
'And when the star stood still, and mildly shone
Above a shed where lay the new-born child,
They hailed Him God's only-begotten Son,
Saviour of sinners and Redeemer mild;
Eve's promised seed, when she with streaming eyes
Saw the bright sword wave her from Paradise.
'For we are children of a fallen race,
Our sins are grievous in the Father's sight,
Death was our doom, but that by heavenly grace
God sent His Son to be a steadfast light,
Which calmly shining o'er life's troubled wave,
The storm-tossed souls of erring men might save.
'Go unto Him, all ye that toil and weep,
Ye that are weary with the long day's load;
He is the Shepherd watching o'er His sheep,
He leads His flock along the narrow road;
And when He hears the bleating lamb's alarm
He folds the weak one in His sheltering arm.
'Ah, tender Shepherd, who didst love us so,
Choosing to die that we Thy flock might live;
What bitter anguish, ah! what heavy woe
To think, O Lord! that mortal hands should give
This wound that cleaves Thy side, that mortal scorn
In mockery crowned Thee with the barren thorn!'
Sad was Columba's face, his words were slow
As though reluctant to the piteous tale--
But now his eyes with sacred rapture glow,
And his wan features kindle, like a pale
Dissolving cloud through which the moon is shed:
He speaks of Christ re-risen from the dead.
He ceased, then cried: 'Glory unto the Lord
Whose mercy is as boundless as the sea;
Fruitful to-day makes He my feeble word,
For with faith's eye an ancient chief I see,
Whose bark o'er the blue deep is drawing nigh,
He comes to be baptised before he die.'
Scarce had he ended when towards the land
A wicker boat sped swiftly o'er the bay;
There by the Pictish chieftain, hand in hand,
Her golden locks entangled with his grey,
His grandchild sat, lit by the level rays;
The loveliest and the last of all her race.
They hailed the Chief as to a sea-worn stone
Two fishers bore him; and his muffled sense
Struggled with feeble eld to seize the tone
Of the Saint's voice, as he in words intense
Proclaimed the saving truth of gospel lore,
Then with his hands baptised the Chieftain hoar.
And when the holy dew had wet his brow,
And his wan lips tasted the sacrament,
His head against Columba's breast sank low,
And o'er his face a smile of rapt content
Played softly, smoothing out the lines of care
Which joy and grief and toil had planted there.
Then on the spot where he has breathed his last
They lay him, letting dust to dust return;
Then one by one, as solemnly they cast
A little earth upon his grave, they turn
To the benighted heathen, look above,
And chaunt: 'His soul is God's, and God is love.'
A piteous cry and terrible then rung
Even like a very echo to the word
Upon the startled hearers, whom it wrung
With answering grief, as when along the chord
Of palpitating harp the breezes sigh
Each string responsive wails in sympathy.
A maiden with wild eyes and streaming hair
And features white with horror rose aghast,
Unconscious of the pitying people's stare,
And on the new-made grave herself she cast
In utter desolation, till her frame
Convulsed by sobs shook like a wind-blown flame.
'Oh father, father,' she at last made moan,
'My father's father, last of all our race,
Hast thou gone too, and left me here alone
So helpless as I am, so weak to face
The dreadful shifts of war with all its woes,
Cold, hunger, shame, fear of insulting foes.'
'Nay, child, blaspheme not in thine agony!
Art thou not in our heavenly Father's care?
He who upholds the everlasting sky
Throughout the ages, suffers not a hair
Of thine to fall but that it is His will;
Bless Him for joy, for sorrow bless Him still.
'Yea! clasp thine unused hands in prayer, and lift
Thy still down-drooping eyes to Him above.
Is not the giver greater than His gift?
Must not His love contain all lesser love
Of father, mother, brother, husband, wife--
The Alpha He and Omega of life?'
Thus spake Columba, burning to allay
The pains of earthly love with saving truth;
But she, who deemed confusedly that they
With their sad rites had slain her sire, forsooth,
Was deaf to him, and ever made her moan,
'Hast thou gone too, and left me here alone!'
At last--when all his words and prayers had failed
To comfort or assuage the orphan's woe,
Who prostrate on the grave still wept and wailed,--
Columba muttered as he turned to go:
'Nay, sooner parley with the roaring main
Than with a woman maddening in her pain.'
So thus they left her, as she would not come,
Left her to night and a few firstling stars
That here and there from the celestial dome
Peered brightly through the narrow cloudy bars,
As though some great white seraph's lidless eyes
Were looking down on her from Paradise.
But one there was who could not rest in peace,
For pity of that maiden's lonely pain!
Was there no balm in Gilead to appease
Her wounded spirit?--yea, might not he gain
That soul benighted to eternal bliss,
By teaching her God's love through grief like this?
Thus Oran mused, the youngest and most fair
Of that devoted zealous little band
That now for many a laborious year
Followed Columba's lead from land to land,
Daring the danger of the narrow seas
To plant the Cross among the Hebrides.
Young, but most fervid of their brotherhood,
Fair Oran was, whose faith leaped like a sword
From out the sheath, and could not be subdued
When brandished in the service of the Lord,
To whom--as sparks leap upward from a fire--
His soaring thoughts incessantly aspire.
Yea, he must save her soul, that like a bark
Drifting without a rudder, rudely tossed
On life's rough sea, might founder in the dark,
In the abysm of hell engulfed and lost.
Thus musing, he retraced his steps once more
Towards the grave beside the sounding shore.
'Arise, and let the dead bury their dead!'
He said to her still shedding stanchless tears.
Affrighted by his voice, she raised her head
With eyes dilated like a startled deer's;
With lovely, longing, melancholy eyes,
She looked up at him with a dumb surprise.
'Come unto Jesus, He will give thee rest,'
Oran began, but stammered as he spoke:
Why throbbed his heart so loudly in his breast,
As if impatient of the heavy yoke
Of faith, that curbed desire as soon as born,
That nipped the rose, but left its piercing thorn?
A moment has undone the work of years!
A single glance o'erthrown an austere saint!
And the clear faith, achieved with stripes and tears
And midnight fasts and vigils, now grows faint,
And like a star lost in the new-born light
Flickers awhile, then fades into the night.
Still Oran wrestles with the fiend within,
Striving to teach the gospel to the maid;
He tells her of man's fall through deadly sin,
And of the Saviour who our ransom paid:
She, with her eyes now bent upon the ground,
Listens like one by strong enchantment bound.
It was a clear and cloudless summer night,
Stars without number clustered in the blue,
Some like mere sparks of evanescent light
Receding infinite from mortal view,
Some with a steadier lustre softly glow,
Like golden flames or silver flakes of snow.
But lo! like some lost soul from heaven's height
Hurled headlong, shivering to its awful doom,
A wingèd star shoots dazzling through the night,
And vanishes in some stupendous gloom:
Thus once the brightest of the angels fell
Through yawning space into profoundest hell.
And trembling for his own soul, Oran prayed:
'Oh blessed Virgin, whom the angelic quire
Rapturous adore! immaculate Mother-maid!
Pure Queen! make pure my heart of every fire
Which is not kindled on thy sacred shrine,
Of every thought not wholly, solely thine!'
Even while suppliant's lips devoutly move,
A heavenly face, though not the Virgin's, filled
His eyes with beauty, and his heart with love,
Till with dread rapture all his pulses thrilled:
A face whose heavenly innocence might well
Eradicate the very thought of hell.
Perplexed, bewildered, breathless Oran stood,
Torn by the passions he had still suppressed
With macerations of the flesh and blood;
But now this idol which enthralled his breast
With subtle witchcraft, snake-like seemed to hiss,
'Thine immortality for one long kiss!'
'Get thee behind me, Satan!' wildly cries
The monk, and flees in horror from the place.
Did not the devil tempt him through those eyes
Burning like two fair lights in that fair face,
Till moth-like drawn in ever-narrowing rings
Towards the flame, his soul must scorch her wings?
Far o'er the moorland through the starlit night
He rushed, like one who flies in mortal fear
Of some dread enemy that dogs his flight,
And who, whate'er his speed, still draweth near:
Yea, though he shall outspeed the wingèd wind,
How fly the haunting thought of his own mind?
At last he knelt all breathless on the sod,
And gathered up his whole soul in one prayer,
Yea,--even as Jacob wrestled before God
While angels hovered on the heavenly stair,
He wrestled,--loudly calling on the Lord
To keep him from the sin his soul abhorred.
When his long prayer was done, and the pale priest
Rose cold with clinging vapour, one by one
The flickering stars went out, and in the East
The dim air kindled with the coming sun,
While in illimitable sheer delight
The holy larks rose worshipping the light.
by Mathilde Blind.
The Chapel Of The Hermits
'I do believe, and yet, in grief,
I pray for help to unbelief;
For needful strength aside to lay
The daily cumberings of my way.
'I 'm sick at heart of craft and cant,
Sick of the crazed enthusiast's rant,
Profession's smooth hypocrisies,
And creeds of iron, and lives of ease.
'I ponder o'er the sacred word,
I read the record of our Lord;
And, weak and troubled, envy them
Who touched His seamless garment's hem;
'Who saw the tears of love He wept
Above the grave where Lazarus slept;
And heard, amidst the shadows dim
Of Olivet, His evening hymn.
'How blessed the swineherd's low estate,
The beggar crouching at the gate,
The leper loathly and abhorred,
Whose eyes of flesh beheld the Lord!
'O sacred soil His sandals pressed!
Sweet fountains of His noonday rest!
O light and air of Palestine,
Impregnate with His life divine!
'Oh, bear me thither! Let me look
On Siloa's pool, and Kedron's brook;
Kneel at Gethsemane, and by
Gennesaret walk, before I die!
'Methinks this cold and northern night
Would melt before that Orient light;
And, wet by Hermon's dew and rain,
My childhood's faith revive again!'
So spake my friend, one autumn day,
Where the still river slid away
Beneath us, and above the brown
Red curtains of the woods shut down.
Then said I,-for I could not brook
The mute appealing of his look,-
'I, too, am weak, and faith is small,
And blindness happeneth unto all.
'Yet, sometimes glimpses on my sight,
Through present wrong, the eternal right;
And, step by step, since time began,
I see the steady gain of man;
'That all of good the past hath had
Remains to make our own time glad,
Our common daily life divine,
And every land a Palestine.
'Thou weariest of thy present state;
What gain to thee time's holiest date?
The doubter now perchance had been
As High Priest or as Pilate then!
'What thought Chorazin's scribes? What faith
In Him had Nain and Nazareth?
Of the few followers whom He led
One sold Him,-all forsook and fled.
'O friend! we need nor rock nor sand,
Nor storied stream of Morning-Land;
The heavens are glassed in Merrimac,-
What more could Jordan render back?
'We lack but open eye and ear
To find the Orient's marvels here;
The still small voice in autumn's hush,
Yon maple wood the burning bush.
'For still the new transcends the old,
In signs and tokens manifold;
Slaves rise up men; the olive waves,
With roots deep set in battle graves!
'Through the harsh noises of our day
A low, sweet prelude finds its way;
Through clouds of doubt, and creeds of fear,
A light is breaking, calm and clear.
'That song of Love, now low and far,
Erelong shall swell from star to star!
That light, the breaking day, which tips
The golden-spired Apocalypse!'
Then, when my good friend shook his head,
And, sighing, sadly smiled, I said:
'Thou mind'st me of a story told
In rare Bernardin's leaves of gold.'
And while the slanted sunbeams wove
The shadows of the frost-stained grove,
And, picturing all, the river ran
O'er cloud and wood, I thus began:-
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In Mount Valerien's chestnut wood
The Chapel of the Hermits stood;
And thither, at the close of day,
Came two old pilgrims, worn and gray.
One, whose impetuous youth defied
The storms of Baikal's wintry side,
And mused and dreamed where tropic day
Flamed o'er his lost Virginia's bay.
His simple tale of love and woe
All hearts had melted, high or low;-
A blissful pain, a sweet distress,
Immortal in its tenderness.
Yet, while above his charmed page
Beat quick the young heart of his age,
He walked amidst the crowd unknown,
A sorrowing old man, strange and lone.
A homeless, troubled age,-the gray
Pale setting of a weary day;
Too dull his ear for voice of praise,
Too sadly worn his brow for bays.
Pride, lust of power and glory, slept;
Yet still his heart its young dream kept,
And, wandering like the deluge-dove,
Still sought the resting-place of love.
And, mateless, childless, envied more
The peasant's welcome from his door
By smiling eyes at eventide,
Than kingly gifts or lettered pride.
Until, in place of wife and child,
All-pitying Nature on him smiled,
And gave to him the golden keys
To all her inmost sanctities.
Mild Druid of her wood-paths dim!
She laid her great heart bare to him,
Its loves and sweet accords;-he saw
The beauty of her perfect law.
The language of her signs lie knew,
What notes her cloudy clarion blew;
The rhythm of autumn's forest dyes,
The hymn of sunset's painted skies.
And thus he seemed to hear the song
Which swept, of old, the stars along;
And to his eyes the earth once more
Its fresh and primal beauty wore.
Who sought with him, from summer air,
And field and wood, a balm for care;
And bathed in light of sunset skies
His tortured nerves and weary eyes?
His fame on all the winds had flown;
His words had shaken crypt and throne;
Like fire, on camp and court and cell
They dropped, and kindled as they fell.
Beneath the pomps of state, below
The mitred juggler's masque and show,
A prophecy, a vague hope, ran
His burning thought from man to man.
For peace or rest too well he saw
The fraud of priests, the wrong of law,
And felt how hard, between the two,
Their breath of pain the millions drew.
A prophet-utterance, strong and wild,
The weakness of an unweaned child,
A sun-bright hope for human-kind,
And self-despair, in him combined.
He loathed the false, yet lived not true
To half the glorious truths he knew;
The doubt, the discord, and the sin,
He mourned without, he felt within.
Untrod by him the path he showed,
Sweet pictures on his easel glowed
Of simple faith, and loves of home,
And virtue's golden days to come.
But weakness, shame, and folly made
The foil to all his pen portrayed;
Still, where his dreamy splendors shone,
The shadow of himself was thrown.
Lord, what is man, whose thought, at times,
Up to Thy sevenfold brightness climbs,
While still his grosser instinct clings
To earth, like other creeping things!
So rich in words, in acts so mean;
So high, so low; chance-swung between
The foulness of the penal pit
And Truth's clear sky, millennium-lit!
Vain, pride of star-lent genius!-vain,
Quick fancy and creative brain,
Unblest by prayerful sacrifice,
Absurdly great, or weakly wise!
Midst yearnings for a truer life,
Without were fears, within was strife;
And still his wayward act denied
The perfect good for which he sighed.
The love he sent forth void returned;
The fame that crowned him scorched and burned,
Burning, yet cold and drear and lone,-
A fire-mount in a frozen zone!
Like that the gray-haired sea-king passed,
Seen southward from his sleety mast,
About whose brows of changeless frost
A wreath of flame the wild winds tossed.
Far round the mournful beauty played
Of lambent light and purple shade,
Lost on the fixed and dumb despair
Of frozen earth and sea and air!
A man apart, unknown, unloved
By those whose wrongs his soul had moved,
He bore the ban of Church and State,
The good man's fear, the bigot's hate!
Forth from the city's noise and throng,
Its pomp and shame, its sin and wrong,
The twain that summer day had strayed
To Mount Valerien's chestnut shade.
To them the green fields and the wood
Lent something of their quietude,
And golden-tinted sunset seemed
Prophetical of all they dreamed.
The hermits from their simple cares
The bell was calling home to prayers,
And, listening to its sound, the twain
Seemed lapped in childhood's trust again.
Wide open stood the chapel door;
A sweet old music, swelling o'er
Low prayerful murmurs, issued thence,-
The Litanies of Providence!
Then Rousseau spake: 'Where two or three
In His name meet, He there will be!'
And then, in silence, on their knees
They sank beneath the chestnut-trees.
As to the blind returning light,
As daybreak to the Arctic night,
Old faith revived; the doubts of years
Dissolved in reverential tears.
That gush of feeling overpast,
'Ah me!' Bernardin sighed at last,
I would thy bitterest foes could see
Thy heart as it is seen of me!
'No church of God hast thou denied;
Thou hast but spurned in scorn aside
A bare and hollow counterfeit,
Profaning the pure name of it!
'With dry dead moss and marish weeds
His fire the western herdsman feeds,
And greener from the ashen plain
The sweet spring grasses rise again.
'Nor thunder-peal nor mighty wind
Disturb the solid sky behind;
And through the cloud the red bolt rends
The calm, still smile of Heaven descends.
'Thus through the world, like bolt and blast,
And scourging fire, thy words have passed.
Clouds break,-the steadfast heavens remain;
Weeds burn,-the ashes feed the grain!
'But whoso strives with wrong may find
Its touch pollute, its darkness blind;
And learn, as latent fraud is shown
In others' faith, to doubt his own.
'With dream and falsehood, simple trust
And pious hope we tread in dust;
Lost the calm faith in goodness,-lost
The baptism of the Pentecost!
'Alas!-the blows for error meant
Too oft on truth itself are spent,
As through the false and vile and base
Looks forth her sad, rebuking face.
'Not ours the Theban's charmed life;
We come not scathless from the strife!
The Python's coil about us clings,
The trampled Hydra bites and stings!
'Meanwhile, the sport of seeming chance,
The plastic shapes of circumstance,
What might have been we fondly guess,
If earlier born, or tempted less.
'And thou, in these wild, troubled days,
Misjudged alike in blame and praise,
Unsought and undeserved the same
The skeptic's praise, the bigot's blame;-
'I cannot doubt, if thou hadst been
Among the highly favored men
Who walked on earth with Fenelon,
He would have owned thee as his son;
'And, bright with wings of cherubim
Visibly waving over him,
Seen through his life, the Church had seemed
All that its old confessors dreamed.'
'I would have been,' Jean Jaques replied,
'The humblest servant at his side,
Obscure, unknown, content to see
How beautiful man's life may be!
'Oh, more than thrice-blest relic, more
Than solemn rite or sacred lore,
The holy life of one who trod
The foot-marks of the Christ of God!
'Amidst a blinded world he saw
The oneness of the Dual law;
That Heaven's sweet peace on Earth began,
And God was loved through love of man.
'He lived the Truth which reconciled
The strong man Reason, Faith the child;
In him belief and act were one,
The homilies of duty done!'
So speaking, through the twilight gray
The two old pilgrims went their way.
What seeds of life that day were sown,
The heavenly watchers knew alone.
Time passed, and Autumn came to fold
Green Summer in her brown and gold;
Time passed, and Winter's tears of snow
Dropped on the grave-mound of Rousseau.
'The tree remaineth where it fell,
The pained on earth is pained in hell!'
So priestcraft from its altars cursed
The mournful doubts its falsehood nursed.
Ah! well of old the Psalmist prayed,
'Thy hand, not man's, on me be laid!'
Earth frowns below, Heaven weeps above,
And man is hate, but God is love!
No Hermits now the wanderer sees,
Nor chapel with its chestnut-trees;
A morning dream, a tale that's told,
The wave of change o'er all has rolled.
Yet lives the lesson of that day;
And from its twilight cool and gray
Comes up a low, sad whisper, 'Make
The truth thine own, for truth's own sake.
'Why wait to see in thy brief span
Its perfect flower and fruit in man?
No saintly touch can save; no balm
Of healing hath the martyr's palm.
'Midst soulless forms, and false pretence
Of spiritual pride and pampered sense,
A voice saith, 'What is that to thee?
Be true thyself, and follow Me!
'In days when throne and altar heard
The wanton's wish, the bigot's word,
And pomp of state and ritual show
Scarce hid the loathsome death below,-
'Midst fawning priests and courtiers foul,
The losel swarm of crown and cowl,
White-robed walked Francois Fenelon,
Stainless as Uriel in the sun!
'Yet in his time the stake blazed red,
The poor were eaten up like bread
Men knew him not; his garment's hem
No healing virtue had for them.
'Alas! no present saint we find;
The white cymar gleams far behind,
Revealed in outline vague, sublime,
Through telescopic mists of time!
'Trust not in man with passing breath,
But in the Lord, old Scripture saith;
The truth which saves thou mayst not blend
With false professor, faithless friend.
'Search thine own heart. What paineth thee
In others in thyself may be;
All dust is frail, all flesh is weak;
Be thou the true man thou dost seek!
'Where now with pain thou treadest, trod
The whitest of the saints of God!
To show thee where their feet were set,
the light which led them shineth yet.
'The footprints of the life divine,
Which marked their path, remain in thine;
And that great Life, transfused in theirs,
Awaits thy faith, thy love, thy prayers!'
A lesson which I well may heed,
A word of fitness to my need;
So from that twilight cool and gray
Still saith a voice, or seems to say.
We rose, and slowly homeward turned,
While down the west the sunset burned;
And, in its light, hill, wood, and tide,
And human forms seemed glorified.
The village homes transfigured stood,
And purple bluffs, whose belting wood
Across the waters leaned to hold
The yellow leaves like lamps of hold.
Then spake my friend: 'Thy words are true;
Forever old, forever new,
These home-seen splendors are the same
Which over Eden's sunsets came.
'To these bowed heavens let wood and hill
Lift voiceless praise and anthem still;
Fall, warm with blessing, over them,
Light of the New Jerusalem!
'Flow on, sweet river, like the stream
Of John's Apocalyptic dream
This mapled ridge shall Horeb be,
Yon green-banked lake our Galilee!
'Henceforth my heart shall sigh no more
For olden time and holier shore;
God's love and blessing, then and there,
Are now and here and everywhere.'
Raising The Dead
We all have heard, and marvelled as we heard,
Of seers, who have raised the Dead from out their tombs,
And made them parley. Nor would I gainsay
Such story. For who knows the invisible links,
Mysterious sympathies of life with life,
Or life, perchance, with death? Or guesses what
Thessalian spells, or what divining rod
The soul erewhile may have weird gift to use,
And, with strange power, interrogate the grave,
Yet leave the turf unbroke? Or even may reach
Up the blue regions, where freed spirits dwell,
With her far-finding telescope of love;
Or, may be, hate!
Nay, are our nightly dreams
But fancies of the brain? some straggling shreds
From memory? or, meaner still, mere jet
From stomach or nerve? Or, rather, do we not,
(So sometimes I have deemed) what time we sleep,
—If sleep it be, and not a wider waking—
Within the close-drawn curtains, face to face,
Hold actual commerce with the living Dead?
Who stand beside us; and do look upon us;
And well nigh touch us with their stony hands;
And see themselves in our fixed lineaments
Fit comradeship! dead life with living death!
And then, when morn hath come, with crow of cock,
Or early swallow, twittering by the lattice,
To summon them back to their lonely homes,
And us to all the over busy doings
Of this world's life; we, in our ignorance,
Because they have left no foot-prints on the night,
Do swear we have dreamed.
Nor doth it hap alone
Within the silent and the dim domain
Of sleep; that doubtful confine laid between
The Here and the Hereafter; nor where deed
Of guilt doth hold some troubled mind awake
At midnight; nor where mist, obscure as night,
Hath wrapt the Gaël upon his mountain moor,
And the pale wraith doth prophesy him woe;
Not in such moments only do the Dead
Revisit earth. Go thou and throw thyself
On some hill side, beneath the bluest sky
And cheeriest sun; or—better—when the touch
Of twilight eve hath sanctified the air,
And very earth thou liest on; and surrender
Thy spirit to old memories; and 'tis chance
If then thy half-closed eyes behold them not.
Uncalled they come; or led by threads of thought
Too fine to scan. Thy dearest objects once,
And now, behold! they come to thee again,
And hang around thee, sweetly visible,
And real as life itself. If life itself
Be a real thing; and not—as some have deemed—
A dream of shadows; sequel to a drama
Acted before; and we (its actors, then,
But, now, forgetful of the parts we played)
No creatures of fresh breath, but the stale ghosts
Of former Being; doomed to walk once more
This weary earth; and fret the appointed years,
In penance of some evil we have done;
But when—and what—and where—we must not know.
Uncalled they come. But we can call them too,
(I speak but what I know) and make them pass
Before us. If not alway, yet by fits,
When the strong will and planet hour have met
In apt conjunction. But why only then,
Or not to all accorded, who may find?
Then may be seen the newly-gifted seer,
With steadfast eye, yet outward nought beholding,
Like one in presence of some lofty thought
Or deed; absorbed in it, and it alone;
Or prophet so may have gazed in his strong hour.
For now he feels his spirit privileged
All strangely (how—he knows not, yet he knows it)
To hold communion with the parted life;
And from that very spot where now he stands,
To speed (as if along some chargëd wire,
That mocks at far and near, and rough and smooth)
His swift invisible message to the tomb.
I speak but what I know. Of late I found me
Where I had dwelt of yore; and stood to gaze
On the once well-known scene. Behind me rose
The quaint old town; its square cathedral tower
Lifted above; while all before and round
Lay spread the lovely landscape. Those smooth meads;
And the bright sparkling river, bright as ever,
Gliding amid; and bearing white-sailed bark
To the near sea. And green hills sloping up
On the other side; with woods and homes ancestral;
And many a cheery prospect-tower, that told
How man had loved the region; and the purple
Of heathy moors beyond them. And I thought me
Of all their little valleys, folded in;
Each with its vagrant brook. Sweet solitudes!
Which I had roamed with Her, who made them all
Sweeter than solitude; from whom I had dreamed
Never to part. But on that baffled vision
I dared to think no more.
Yet still I longed
To muse on some whom I had known—with Her—
In that spring-hour of life, (They were not all
Deceivers!) and who now, like Her, were gone!
And never on this earth to meet again,
Save only in such vision—memory-led.
So, all the less distrubedly to dream,
I stood and leaned, with closëd eyes, against
That lingering fragment of the old town-wall,
Where I had leaned of old—but not alone!
And memory came to aid me, the whole spot
Re-peopling; and I caught, or secmed to catch
Familiar looks; and heard, or seemed to hear,
Familiar tones; first—one's; and then—another's.
The best beloved came first. Relations dear,
Part of whose life I was, as they of mine;
And friends—as dear. And then acquaintances,
More or less strict. And foremost among these,
(For now—as then—the church had due precedence)
The well-bred dean; and jovial prebendary;
And wife prebendal, with her stately look
Dwarfing wife secular. And, next, town-member,
From his near seat, aye welcome; liberal ever
Of hare and pheasant; or with blandest smile
Winning constituent. And young barrister
From the great city; at provincial board
Predominant; with legal tale and jest
From Westminster or circuit. And the staid
Physician; and the brisk apothecary,
Rapping from door to door; with news from each
Regaling convalescent. Gossip rare!
Yet kindly ever by the poor man's bed.
There too the youthful curate, with white brow
And chiselled lip; and mild, yet fervent eye;
Full oft descanting with ingenuous warmth
On type or prophecy; while hectic cheek
All the sad time too plainly spoke its own.
Now wherefore was it? (for I sought it not)
That on a sudden stretched its length before me
The old town ball-room; lit as it was wont
At races or assize time. And behold!
Thro' the wide double doors came flitting in
Fair white-robed Misses; separate or in bevies;
Now, ones—and twos—and threes; then, thick together,
(Like gradual snow flakes) whitening the whole floor.
Or rather shall we say, for fitter type,
Like orange-blossoms, which some summer-breeze
Is fluttering from amid the glossy boughs
To blanch the beds beneath. So in they streamed,
A galaxy of muslin.
Those white robes
Had long been shrouds! and that gay dance—what since,
Let Holbein tell us!
Yea, I saw them all,
As I had seen of yore. Here the young heir,
Not quite unconscious. There, the matron-mother
Of those three youthful Graces; eagle eyed;
From the side benches, her tall eyrie, brooding
O'er park and manor. And flirtations thin,
Meant for the general eye; and deep-souled looks
Of silent love, the lookers fain would hide.
And wreathëd smiles—some, hollow; and the sneer
Forecast to wound; and petty rivalries,
And pettier leagues; and all the worthless doings
Of this our daily life—done by the Dead!
Them too I saw, those three deep-wrinkled hags,
Pink-rouged; dark-ringletted; and diamond-decked;
Yet hag-like still. Beneath whose baleful breath
The fairest fame would wither; whose dim hints,
And counsels shrewd, and worming confidences
Had art to melt the firmest plighted faith
Of youthful bride affianced. There they stood,
With snake-like eyes; sharp voices; finger up;
Those ball-room beldames! And I heard them gibber,
E'en as ghosts gibber; or as they themselves
Had gibbered here on earth. I heard, and scarce
Forbore to curse them.
Say, had wrath such power
To quicken memory? for it now seemed freshened
To a new strength. We all have read, when earthquake
Hath smote some ancient city's street of tombs,
Disrupting their foundations, how come forth
Graven sarcophagus, and pictured urn,
And the grey ashes of forgotten men
Five hundred lustres buried. Even so,
Stirred by some influence, be it what it might,
Did now the long-sealed chambers of the brain
Give up their Dead. And, lo! before me stood
All of the Parted I had known from when
I first began to know; (for of the Quick
None came to mingle). And not those alone
Whom I had sought to see, but all, yea all,
Or separate, or in clusters. Mother—nurse—
Preceptor. Next, school-comrades—college-friends—
(Ah! little had we dreamed to part so soon)
And then the yet more numerous host, 'mid whom
Our after-life hath thrust us. More and more,
Swifter and swifter. Till there grew a sense
Confused and ill at ease, as if it now
Were all too cramp for those who there would enter.
Hast thou not heard erewhile some gentle music?
(If thro' similitudes I speak (perchance,
Usque ad nauseam) 'tis that speech direct
Might fail to tell my story; nor boast I
Wide masterdom of words.) But as some music,
Slowly preluding with soft notes and few,
Swells by degrees; and other instruments
Join in; till finally the whole orchestra,
Like some freshed river, swollen with tributaries,
Hath gathered up the multitudinous minglings,
Then flings them all with unresolvable speed
In one broad crash upon the shrinking ear;
So shrank I at that moment, as all these,
Poured forth from East and West and North and South,
Were round and round me eddying, till the brain spun.
Nor was I any longer in the Present;
(For time itself seemed reeling with the brain)
My Present was the Past! Life's actual hour
Supplanted by the vanished! As they tell
Of drowning men, with whom all former memories;
All they have done or suffered; known or felt;
Childhood and manhood; loves and enmities;
Nay, things that were, or seemed to be, forgotten,
Are all whirred back upon the sharpened sense,
To be compressed within that struggling minute;
Thus suddenly, (I may not say unrolled,
But, somehow, flung before me) in that instant
Flashed a whole life.
How may words paint to thee
What thou hast never felt? Or how I stood
(There was no time for fear) but all-amazed,
Like one who hath oped a sluice he may not stop.
Till, in a moment of collected will,
Quivering the while, but stronger than I knew,
I bade them—and they went!
What went? mere visions?
Were these, so real, so distinct, but visions?
Or were they—could they be (I dare confess
Such thought was glancing by me) no—not shadows!
But they—the Dead—come back in body again?
'Yea, visions'—thou wilt tell me — 'shadows mere—'
'Such stuff as dreams are made of;' when the mind
Diseased, or else in sport, is peopling space
With shapes of matter. (If that mind and matter
In sooth be twain.) Or thou wilt tell how fancy
Is still most potent when the soul is stirred;
As mine was then. Or else wilt hold wise descant,
In metaphysic guise, of filmy links
Associative; and echoes—tho' unheard—
From thought to thought. And think'st thou then that I
Not thus philosophized? Yet 'twas not these
I speak but what I know—and 'twas not these.
Now listen to a tale incredible!
And yet most true. Nay, 'tis no jesting story;
Nor was I drugged with opium; nor was it
Some wild hallucination of a brain,
Thou'lt say—o'erwrought. But it was given me,
(I tell thee a true tale, believe or not)
But it was given me in that hour to know
Distinct, as e'er distinctest knowledge stood,
(Yet how or whence such knowledge came, I knew not;
Nor if to tempt or punish, that I know not
But it was given me in that hour to know
That they, the Parted—wheresoe'er they were—
That they should feel and hear me in their graves!
Not merely in yon church-yard, but wherever
Their bones did house them. And should leave awhile,
(No, not mere phantoms, but the very Dead)
Those graves all tenantless—to march before me!
'Twas a strange power. A ghastly dream to shrink from,
If it had been a dream; but, being a power,
I cared to use it; and with will perverse
(For power corrupteth will), did choose to see
Her, whom but now my heart had shrunk to think of.
And She did come! and I beheld her what
She was when last we parted. Was it love
Or anger made me call that vision up?
I might not stay to know; but this I know,
That all of wrath, long cherished—and revenge—
(For that thought too, all hideous as it was,
Had yet been there) did melt them fast away
Before that once loved presence; till (each wrong
Forgiven) the old affection ruled alone.
One other was there in that church-yard laid,
Whom I had loved the least (why did She love him?)
My foe; and him—the next—I willed to see.
And will was now compulsion; and I saw him;
Yea, with these very bodily eyes I saw him
Stir in his shroud, beneath the coffin-lid!
And staring upward with wide helpless eyes,
He moaned—I heard him—wherefore dost thou wake me?
Then too I saw—nay 'twas no fantasy—
Two other eyes—eyes unmistakeable—
Gazing reproachfully. And all at once,
With a most swift revulsion of the heart,
I started from my own unnatural power,
And knew that I had done a deed unholy.
Ay, started every limb; and so aroused me!
And, lifting with that start the closëd lids,
Beheld, oh blessed! just beneath me lying
That alway lovely landscape; lovelier now
Than ever; while, like ghost before the day,
The unholy power had vanished.
As some dreamer,
Amid the wanderings of his troubled dream,
All on a sudden finds himself in-coiled
In some strange guilt; tho' how it was he knows not;
Nor even if his; yet, nathless, shame and fear
Are all around him; if by chance, just then,
From forth the sweetly dawning East, some ray
Slant to his eye-lids, heavenly visitant!
He, leaping up with inexpressible joy,
Finds himself shrieved; or as some noble spirit,
Who, lured by pride, (oh! if such tale be true,
May heaven from us avert the dire temptation)
Hath plighted with the Demon, dreadful pact!
And sold his soul for power; and, having tested,
Succeeds; then shudders at his own success;
And flings him on his kness in agony
Of prayer; if that, with penitence, may melt
The seal from off the accursed bond; and lo!
His prayer is heard. Like him—like him so saved
In such a mortal hour, ev'n so felt I;
When, starting from that gift of horrible might,
(Or be it dream, if dream thou still wilt have it)
I did behold again the cheery sun
On that up-sparkling river. Mother Earth!
To me thou ne'er wert dearer. Rather say,
Never so dear. Oh! how I joyed to see
Those blue-eyed children, lightly gamboling
On the shorn turf anear. That loving dog,
Who seemed as if he ne'er could love enough,
Fond frolicking beside them; every bird,
How small soever, that with tiny rustle
Burst from the bushes. Ay, and those grave daws,
Now, musing on the old cathedral tower;
Now, wheeling round and round in the clear air.
Oh! what a calming bliss to be once more
(Escaped such fearful fact—or mocking vision)
Amid these mild realities of life!
Then first it was I comprehended how
Complacently might king resign his crown.
Nor marvelled any longer at the tale
Of potent wizards, who had burned their books.
by John Kenyon.
A Story Of Doom: Book Ii.
Now ere the sunrise, while the morning star
Hung yet behind the pine bough, woke and prayed
The world's great shipwright, and his soul was glad
Because the Voice was favorable. Now
Began the tap o' the hammer, now ran forth
The slaves preparing food. They therefore ate
In peace together; then Niloiya forth
Behind the milk-white steers went on her way;
And the great Master-builder, down the course
Of the long river, on his errand sped,
And as he went, he thought:
[They do not well
Who, walking up a trodden path, all smooth
With footsteps of their fellows, and made straight
From town to town, will scorn at them that worm
Under the covert of God's eldest trees
(Such as He planted with His hand, and fed
With dew before rain fell, till they stood close
And awful; drank the light up as it dropt,
And kept the dusk of ages at their roots):
They do not well who mock at such, and cry,
'We peaceably, without or fault or fear,
Proceed, and miss not of our end; but these
Are slow and fearful: with uncertain pace,
And ever reasoning of the way, they oft,
After all reasoning, choose the worser course,
And plunged in swamp, or in the matted growth
Nigh smothered struggle, all to reach a goal
Not worth their pains.' Nor do they well whose work
Is still to feed and shelter them and theirs,
Get gain, and gathered store it, to think scorn
Of those who work for a world (no wages paid
By a Master hid in light), and sent alone
To face a laughing multitude, whose eyes
Are full of damaging pity, that forbears
To tell the harmless laborer, 'Thou art mad.']
And as he went, he thought: 'They counsel me,
Ay, with a kind of reason in their talk,
'Consider; call thy soberer thought to aid;
Why to but one man should a message come?
And why, if but to one, to thee? Art thou
Above us, greater, wiser? Had He sent,
He had willed that we should heed. Then since He knoweth
That such as thou, a wise man cannot heed,
He did not send.' My answer, 'Great and wise,
If He had sent with thunder, and a voice
Leaping from heaven, ye must have heard; but so
Ye had been robbed of choice, and, like the beasts,
Yoked to obedience. God makes no men slaves,'
They tell me, 'God is great above thy thought:
He meddles not: and this small world is ours,
These many hundred years we govern it;
Old Adam, after Eden, saw Him not.'
Then I, 'It may be He is gone to knead
More clay. But look, my masters; one of you
Going to warfare, layeth up his gown,
His sickle, or his gold, and thinks no more
Upon it, till young trees have waxen great;
At last, when he returneth, he will seek
His own. And God, shall He not do the like?
And having set new worlds a-rolling, come
And say, 'I will betake Me to the earth
That I did make': and having found it vile,
Be sorry. Why should man be free, you wise,
And not the Master?' Then they answer, 'Fool!
A man shall cast a stone into the air
For pastime, or for lack of heed,—but He!
Will He come fingering of His ended work,
Fright it with His approaching face, or snatch
One day the rolling wonder from its ring,
And hold it quivering, as a wanton child
Might take a nestling from its downy bed,
And having satisfied a careless wish,
Go thrust it back into its place again?'
To such I answer, and, that doubt once mine,
I am assured that I do speak aright:
'Sirs, the significance of this your doubt
Lies in the reason of it; ye do grudge
That these your lands should have another Lord;
Ye are not loyal, therefore ye would fain
Your King would bide afar. But if ye looked
For countenance and favor when He came,
Knowing yourselves right worthy, would ye care,
With cautious reasoning, deep and hard, to prove
That He would never come, and would your wrath
Be hot against a prophet? Nay, I wot
That as a flatterer you would look on him,—
Full of sweet words thy mouth is: if He come,—
We think not that He will,—but if He come,
Would it might be to-morrow, or to-night,
Because we look for praise.''
Now, as he went,
The noontide heats came on, and he grew faint;
But while he sat below an almug-tree,
A slave approached with greeting. 'Master, hail!'
He answered, 'Hail! what wilt thou?' Then she said,
'The palace of thy fathers standeth nigh.'
'I know it,' quoth he; and she said again,
'The Elder, learning thou wouldst pass, hath sent
To fetch thee'; then he rose and followed her.
So first they walked beneath a lofty roof
Of living bough and tendril, woven on high
To let no dropp of sunshine through, and hung
With gold and purple fruitage, and the white
Thick cups of scented blossom. Underneath,
Soft grew the sward and delicate, and flocks
Of egrets, ay, and many cranes, stood up.
Fanning their wings, to agitate and cool
The noonday air, as men with heed and pains
Had taught them, marshalling and taming them
To bear the wind in, on their moving wings.
So long time as a nimble slave would spend
In milking of her cow, they walked at ease;
Then reached the palace, all of forest trunks,
Brought whole, and set together, made. Therein
Had dwelt old Adam, when his mighty sons
Had finished it, and up to Eden gate
Had journeyed for to fetch him. 'Here,' they said
'Mother and father, ye may dwell, and here
Forget the garden wholly.'
So he came
Under the doorplace, and the women sat,
Each with her finger on her lips; but he,
Having been called, went on, until he reached
The jewelled settle, wrought with cunning work
Of gold and ivory, whereon they wont
To set the Elder. All with sleekest skins,
That striped and spotted creatures of the wood
Had worn, the seat was covered, but thereon
The Elder was not; by the steps thereof,
Upon the floor, whereto his silver beard
Did reach, he sat, and he was in his trance.
Upon the settle many doves were perched,
That set the air a going with their wings:
These opposite, the world's great shipwright stood
To wait the burden; and the Elder spake:
'Will He forget me? Would He might forget!
Old, old! The hope of old Methuselah
Is all in His forgetfulness.' With that,
A slave-girl took a cup of wine, and crept
Anear him, saying, 'Taste'; and when his lips
Had touched it, lo, he trembled, and he cried,
'Behold, I prophesy.'
Then straight they fled
That were about him, and did stand apart
And stop their ears. For he, from time to time,
Was plagued with that same fate to prophesy,
And spake against himself, against his day
And time, in words that all men did abhor.
Therefore, he warning them what time the fit
Came on him, saved them, that they heard it not
So while they fled, he cried: 'I saw the God
Reach out of heaven His wonderful right hand.
Lo, lo! He dipped it in the unquiet sea,
And in its curved palm behold the ark,
As in a vast calm lake, came floating on.
Ay, then, His other hand—the cursing hand—
He took and spread between us and the sun.
And all was black; the day was blotted out,
And horrible staggering took the frighted earth.
I heard the water hiss, and then methinks
The crack as of her splitting. Did she take
Their palaces that are my brothers dear,
And huddle them with all their ancientry
Under into her breast? If it was black,
How could this old man see? There was a noise
I' the dark, and He drew back His hand again.
I looked,—It was a dream,—let no man say
It was aught else. There, so—the fit goes by.
Sir, and my daughters, is it eventide?—
Sooner than that, saith old Methuselah,
Let the vulture lay his beak to my green limbs.
What! art Thou envious?—are the sons of men
Too wise to please Thee, and to do Thy will?
Methuselah, he sitteth on the ground,
Clad in his gown of age, the pale white gown,
And goeth not forth to war; his wrinkled hands
He claspeth round his knees: old, very old.
Would he could steal from Thee one secret more—
The secret of Thy youth! O, envious God!
We die. The words of old Methuselah
And his prophecy are ended.'
Then the wives,
Beholding how he trembled, and the maids
And children, came anear, saying, 'Who art thou
That standest gazing on the Elder? Lo,
Thou dost not well: withdraw; for it was thou
Whose stranger presence troubled him, and brought
The fit of prophecy.' And he did turn
To look upon them, and their majesty
And glorious beauty took away his words;
And being pure among the vile, he cast
In his thought a veil of snow-white purity
Over the beauteous throng. 'Thou dost not well,'
They said. He answered: 'Blossoms o' the world,
Fruitful as fair, never in watered glade,
Where in the youngest grass blue cups push forth,
And the white lily reareth up her head,
And purples cluster, and the saffron flower
Clear as a flame of sacrifice breaks out,
And every cedar bough, made delicate
With climbing roses, drops in white and red,—
Saw I (good angels keep you in their care)
So beautiful a crowd.'
With that, they stamped,
Gnashed their white teeth, and turning, fled and spat
Upon the floor. The Elder spake to him,
Yet shaking with the burden, 'Who art thou?'
He answered, 'I, the man whom thou didst send
To fetch through this thy woodland, do forbear
To tell my name; thou lovest it not, great sire,—
No, nor mine errand. To thy house I spake,
Touching their beauty.' 'Wherefore didst thou spite,'
Quoth he, 'the daughters?' and it seemed he lost
Count of that prophecy, for very age,
And from his thin lips dropt a trembling laugh.
'Wicked old man,' quoth he, 'this wise old man
I see as 't were not I. Thou bad old man,
What shall be done to thee? for thou didst burn
Their babes, and strew the ashes all about,
To rid the world of His white soldiers. Ay,
Scenting of human sacrifice, they fled.
Cowards! I heard them winnow their great wings:
They went to tell Him; but they came no more.
The women hate to hear of them, so sore
They grudged their little ones; and yet no way
There was but that. I took it; I did well.'
With that he fell to weeping. 'Son,' said he,
'Long have I hid mine eyes from stalwart men,
For it is hard to lose the majesty
And pride and power of manhood: but to-day,
Stand forth into the light, that I may look
Upon thy strength, and think, EVEN THUS DID I,
IN THE GLORY OF MY YOUTH, MORE LIKE TO GOD
THAN LIKE HIS SOLDIERS, FACE THE VASSAL WORLD.'
Then Noah stood forward in his majesty,
Shouldering the golden billhook, wherewithal
He wont to cut his way, when tangled in
The matted hayes. And down the opened roof
Fell slanting beams upon his stately head,
And streamed along his gown, and made to shine
The jewelled sandals on his feet.
The Elder cried aloud: 'I prophesy.
Behold, my son is as a fruitful field
When all the lands are waste. The archers drew,—
They drew the bow against him; they were fain
To slay: but he shall live,—my son shall live,
And I shall live by him in the other days.
Behold the prophet of the Most High God:
Hear him. Behold the hope o' the world, what time
She lieth under. Hear him; he shall save
A seed alive, and sow the earth with man.
O, earth! earth! earth! a floating shell of wood
Shall hold the remnant of thy mighty lords
Will this old man be in it? Sir, and you
My daughters, hear him! Lo, this white old man
He sitteth on the ground. (Let be, let be:
Why dost Thou trouble us to make our tongue
Ring with abhorred words?) The prophecy
Of the Elder, and the vision that he saw,
They both are ended.'
Then said Noah: 'The life
Of this my lord is low for very age:
Why then, with bitter words upon thy tongue,
Father-of Lamech, dost thou anger Him?
Thou canst not strive against Him now.' He said:
'Thy feet are toward the valley, where lie bones
Bleaching upon the desert. Did I love
The lithe strong lizards that I yoked and set
To draw my car? and were they not possessed?
Yea, all of them were liars. I loved them well.
What did the Enemy, but on a day
When I behind my talking team went forth,
They sweetly lying, so that all men praised
Their flattering tongues and mild persuasive eyes,—
What did the Enemy but send His slaves,
Angels, to cast down stones upon their heads
And break them? Nay, I could not stir abroad
But havoc came; they never crept or flew
Beyond the shelter that I builded here.
But straight the crowns I had set upon their heads
Were marks for myrmidons that in the clouds
Kept watch to crush them. Can a man forgive
That hath been warred on thus? I will not. Nay,
I swear it,—I, the man Methuselah.'
The Master-shipwright, he replied, ''Tis true,
Great loss was that; but they that stood thy friends,
The wicked spirits, spoke upon their tongues,
And cursed the God of heaven. What marvel, sir,
If He was angered?' But the Elder cried,
'They all are dead,—the toward beasts I loved;
My goodly team, my joy, they all are dead;
Their bones lie bleaching in the wilderness:
And I will keep my wrath for evermore
Against the Enemy that slew them. Go,
Thou coward servant of a tyrant King,
Go down the desert of the bones, and ask,
'My King, what bones are these? Methuselah,
The white old man that sitteth on the ground,
Sendeth a message, 'Bid them that they live,
And let my lizards run up every path
They wont to take when out of silver pipes,
The pipes that Tubal wrought into my roof,
I blew a sweeter cry than song-bird's throat
Hath ever formed; and while they laid their heads
Submiss upon my threshold, poured away
Music that welled by heartsful out, and made
The throats of men that heard to swell, their breasts
To heave with the joy of grief; yea, caused the lips
To laugh of men asleep.
Return to me
The great wise lizards; ay, and them that flew
My pursuivants before me. Let me yoke
Again that multitude; and here I swear
That they shall draw my car and me thereon
Straight to the ship of doom. So men shall know
My loyalty, that I submit, and Thou
Shalt yet have honor. O mine Enemy,
By me. The speech of old Methuselah.'''
Then Noah made answer, 'By the living God,
That is no enemy to men, great sire,
I will not take thy message; hear thou Him.
'Behold (He saith that suffereth thee), behold,
The earth that I made green cries out to Me,
Red with the costly blood of beauteous man.
I am robbed, I am robbed (He saith): they sacrifice
To evil demons of My blameless flocks,
That I did fashion with My hand. Behold,
How goodly was the world! I gave it thee
Fresh from its finishing. What hast thou done?
I will cry out to the waters, Cover it,
And hide it from its Father. Lo, Mine eyes
Turn from it shamed.''
With that the old man laughed
Full softly. 'Ay,' quoth he, 'a goodly world,
And we have done with it as we did list.
Why did He give it us? Nay, look you, son:
Five score they were that died in yonder waste;
And if He crieth, 'Repent, be reconciled,'
I answer, 'Nay, my lizards'; and again,
If He will trouble me in this mine age,
'Why hast Thou slain my lizards?' Now my speech
Is cut away from all my other words,
Standing alone. The Elder sweareth it,
The man of many days, Methuselah.'
Then answered Noah, 'My Master, hear it not;
But yet have patience'; and he turned himself,
And down betwixt the ordered trees went forth,
And in the light of evening made his way
Into the waste to meet the Voice of God.
by Jean Ingelow.
The Ghost - Book I
With eager search to dart the soul,
Curiously vain, from pole to pole,
And from the planets' wandering spheres
To extort the number of our years,
And whether all those years shall flow
Serenely smooth, and free from woe,
Or rude misfortune shall deform
Our life with one continual storm;
Or if the scene shall motley be.
Alternate joy and misery,
Is a desire which, more or less.
All men must feel, though few confess.
Hence, every place and every age
Affords subsistence to the sage,
Who, free from this world and its cares,
Holds an acquaintance with the stars,
From whom he gains intelligence
Of things to come some ages hence,
Which unto friends, at easy rates.
He readily communicates.
At its first rise, which all agree on,
This noble science was Chaldean;
That ancient people, as they fed
Their flocks upon the mountain's head,
Gazed on the stars, observed their motions,
And suck'd in astrologic notions,
Which they so eagerly pursue,
As folks are apt whate'er is new,
That things below at random rove,
Whilst they're consulting things above;
And when they now so poor were grown,
That they'd no houses of their own,
They made bold with their friends the stars,
And prudently made use of theirs.
To Egypt from Chaldee it travell'd,
And Fate at Memphis was unravell'd:
The exotic science soon struck root,
And flourish'd into high repute.
Each learned priest, oh strange to tell!
Could circles make, and cast a spell;
Could read and write, and taught the nation
The holy art of divination.
Nobles themselves, for at that time
Knowledge in nobles was no crime,
Could talk as learned as the priest,
And prophesy as much, at least.
Hence all the fortune-telling crew,
Whose crafty skill mars Nature's hue,
Who, in vile tatters, with smirch'd face,
Run up and down from place to place,
To gratify their friends' desires,
From Bampfield Carew, to Moll Squires,
Are rightly term'd Egyptians all;
Whom we, mistaking, Gypsies call.
The Grecian sages borrow'd this,
As they did other sciences,
From fertile Egypt, though the loan
They had not honesty to own.
Dodona's oaks, inspired by Jove,
A learned and prophetic grove,
Turn'd vegetable necromancers,
And to all comers gave their answers.
At Delphos, to Apollo dear,
All men the voice of Fate might hear;
Each subtle priest on three-legg'd stool,
To take in wise men, play'd the fool.
A mystery, so made for gain,
E'en now in fashion must remain;
Enthusiasts never will let drop
What brings such business to their shop;
And that great saint we Whitefield call,
Keeps up the humbug spiritual.
Among the Romans, not a bird
Without a prophecy was heard;
Fortunes of empires often hung
On the magician magpie's tongue,
And every crow was to the state
A sure interpreter of Fate.
Prophets, embodied in a college
(Time out of mind your seat of knowledge;
For genius never fruit can bear
Unless it first is planted there,
And solid learning never falls
Without the verge of college walls)
Infallible accounts would keep
When it was best to watch or sleep,
To eat or drink, to go or stay,
And when to fight or run away;
When matters were for action ripe,
By looking at a double tripe;
When emperors would live or die,
They in an ass's skull could spy;
When generals would their station keep,
Or turn their backs, in hearts of sheep.
In matters, whether small or great,
In private families or state
As amongst us, the holy seer
Officiously would interfere;
With pious arts and reverend skill
Would bend lay bigots to his will;
Would help or injure foes or friends,
Just as it served his private ends.
Whether in honest way of trade
Traps for virginity were laid;
Or if, to make their party great,
Designs were form'd against the state,
Regardless of the common weal,
By interest led, which they call zeal,
Into the scale was always thrown
The will of Heaven to back their own.
England--a happy land we know,
Where follies naturally grow,
Where without culture they arise
And tower above the common size;
England, a fortune-telling host,
As numerous as the stars, could boast,--
Matrons, who toss the cup, and see
The grounds of Fate in grounds of tea,
Who, versed in every modest lore,
Can a lost maidenhead restore,
Or, if their pupils rather choose it,
Can show the readiest way to lose it;
Gypsies, who every ill can cure,
Except the ill of being poor,
Who charms 'gainst love and agues sell,
Who can in hen-roost set a spell,
Prepared by arts, to them best known,
To catch all feet except their own,
Who, as to fortune, can unlock it
As easily as pick a pocket;
Scotchmen, who, in their country's right,
Possess the gift of second-sight,
Who (when their barren heaths they quit,
Sure argument of prudent wit,
Which reputation to maintain,
They never venture back again)
By lies prophetic heap up riches,
And boast the luxury of breeches.
Amongst the rest, in former years,
Campbell (illustrious name!) appears,
Great hero of futurity,
Who, blind, could every thing foresee,
Who, dumb, could every thing foretell,
Who, Fate with equity to sell,
Always dealt out the will of Heaven
According to what price was given.
Of Scottish race, in Highlands born,
Possess'd with native pride and scorn,
He hither came, by custom led,
To curse the hands which gave him bread.
With want of truth, and want of sense,
Amply made up by impudence
(A succedaneum, which we find
In common use with all mankind);
Caress'd and favour'd too by those
Whose heart with patriot feelings glows,
Who foolishly, where'er dispersed,
Still place their native country first;
(For Englishmen alone have sense
To give a stranger preference,
Whilst modest merit of their own
Is left in poverty to groan)
Campbell foretold just what he would,
And left the stars to make it good,
On whom he had impress'd such awe,
His dictates current pass'd for law;
Submissive, all his empire own'd;
No star durst smile, when Campbell frown'd.
This sage deceased,--for all must die,
And Campbell's no more safe than I,
No more than I can guard the heart,
When Death shall hurl the fatal dart,--
Succeeded, ripe in art and years,
Another favourite of the spheres;
Another and another came,
Of equal skill, and equal fame;
As white each wand, as black each gown,
As long each beard, as wise each frown,
In every thing so like, you'd swear
Campbell himself was sitting there:
To all the happy art was known,
To tell our fortunes, make their own.
Seated in garret,--for, you know,
The nearer to the stars we go
The greater we esteem his art,--
Fools, curious, flock'd from every part;
The rich, the poor, the maid, the married,
And those who could not walk, were carried.
The butler, hanging down his head,
By chambermaid, or cookmaid led,
Inquires, if from his friend the Moon
He has advice of pilfer'd spoon.
The court-bred woman of condition,
(Who, to approve her disposition
As much superior as her birth
To those composed of common earth,
With double spirit must engage
In every folly of the age)
The honourable arts would buy,
To pack the cards, and cog a die.
The hero--who, for brawn and face,
May claim right honourable place
Amongst the chiefs of Butcher-row:
Who might, some thirty years ago,
If we may be allow'd to guess
At his employment by his dress,
Put medicines off from cart or stage,
The grand Toscano of the age;
Or might about the country go
High-steward of a puppet-show,--
Steward and stewardship most meet,
For all know puppets never eat:
Who would be thought (though, save the mark!
That point is something in the dark)
The man of honour, one like those
Renown'd in story, who loved blows
Better than victuals, and would fight,
Merely for sport, from morn to night:
Who treads like Mavors firm, whose tongue
Is with the triple thunder hung,
Who cries to Fear, 'Stand off--aloof,'
And talks as he were cannon-proof;
Would be deem'd ready, when you list,
With sword and pistol, stick and fist,
Careless of points, balls, bruises, knocks,
At once to fence, fire, cudgel, box,
But at the same time bears about,
Within himself, some touch of doubt,
Of prudent doubt, which hints--that fame
Is nothing but an empty name;
That life is rightly understood
By all to be a real good;
That, even in a hero's heart,
Discretion is the better part;
That this same honour may be won,
And yet no kind of danger run--
Like Drugger comes, that magic powers
May ascertain his lucky hours;
For at some hours the fickle dame,
Whom Fortune properly we name,
Who ne'er considers wrong or right,
When wanted most, plays least in sight,
And, like a modern court-bred jilt,
Leaves her chief favourites in a tilt.
Some hours there are, when from the heart
Courage into some other part,
No matter wherefore, makes retreat,
And Fear usurps the vacant seat;
Whence, planet-struck, we often find
Stuarts and Sackvilles of mankind.
Farther, he'd know (and by his art
A conjurer can that impart)
Whether politer it is reckon'd
To have, or not to have, a second;
To drag the friends in, or alone
To make the danger all their own;
Whether repletion is not bad,
And fighters with full stomachs mad;
Whether, before he seeks the plain,
It were not well to breathe a vein;
Whether a gentle salivation,
Consistently with reputation,
Might not of precious use be found,
Not to prevent, indeed, a wound,
But to prevent the consequence
Which oftentimes arises thence,
Those fevers, which the patient urge on
To gates of death, by help of surgeon;
Whether a wind at east or west
Is for green wounds accounted best;
Whether (was he to choose) his mouth
Should point towards the north or south;
Whether more safely he might use,
On these occasions, pumps or shoes;
Whether it better is to fight
By sunshine or by candlelight;
Or, lest a candle should appear
Too mean to shine in such a sphere,
For who could of a candle tell
To light a hero into hell;
And, lest the sun should partial rise
To dazzle one or t'other's eyes,
Or one or t'other's brains to scorch,
Might not Dame Luna hold a torch?
These points with dignity discuss'd,
And gravely fix'd,--a task which must
Require no little time and pains,
To make our hearts friends with our brains,--
The man of war would next engage
The kind assistance of the sage,
Some previous method to direct,
Which should make these of none effect.
Could he not, from the mystic school
Of Art, produce some sacred rule,
By which a knowledge might be got
Whether men valiant were, or not;
So he that challenges might write
Only to those who would not fight?
Or could he not some way dispense
By help of which (without offence
To Honour, whose nice nature's such
She scarce endures the slightest touch)
When he, for want of t'other rule,
Mistakes his man, and, like a fool,
With some vain fighting blade gets in,
He fairly may get out again?
Or should some demon lay a scheme
To drive him to the last extreme,
So that he must confess his fears,
In mercy to his nose and ears,
And like a prudent recreant knight,
Rather do anything than fight,
Could he not some expedient buy
To keep his shame from public eye?
For well he held,--and, men review,
Nine in ten hold the maxim too,--
That honour's like a maidenhead,
Which, if in private brought to bed,
Is none the worse, but walks the town,
Ne'er lost, until the loss be known.
The parson, too, (for now and then
Parsons are just like other men,
And here and there a grave divine
Has passions such as yours and mine)
Burning with holy lust to know
When Fate preferment will bestow,
'Fraid of detection, not of sin,
With circumspection sneaking in
To conjurer, as he does to whore,
Through some bye-alley or back-door,
With the same caution orthodox
Consults the stars, and gets a pox.
The citizen, in fraud grown old,
Who knows no deity but gold,
Worn out, and gasping now for breath,
A medicine wants to keep off death;
Would know, if that he cannot have,
What coins are current in the grave;
If, when the stocks (which, by his power,
Would rise or fall in half an hour;
For, though unthought of and unseen,
He work'd the springs behind the screen)
By his directions came about,
And rose to par, he should sell out;
Whether he safely might, or no,
Replace it in the funds below?
By all address'd, believed, and paid,
Many pursued the thriving trade,
And, great in reputation grown,
Successive held the magic throne.
Favour'd by every darling passion,
The love of novelty and fashion,
Ambition, avarice, lust, and pride,
Riches pour'd in on every side.
But when the prudent laws thought fit
To curb this insolence of wit;
When senates wisely had provided,
Decreed, enacted, and decided,
That no such vile and upstart elves
Should have more knowledge than themselves;
When fines and penalties were laid
To stop the progress of the trade,
And stars no longer could dispense,
With honour, further influence;
And wizards (which must be confess'd
Was of more force than all the rest)
No certain way to tell had got
Which were informers, and which not;
Affrighted sages were, perforce,
Obliged to steer some other course.
By various ways, these sons of Chance
Their fortunes labour'd to advance,
Well knowing, by unerring rules,
Knaves starve not in the land of fools.
Some, with high titles and degrees,
Which wise men borrow when they please,
Without or trouble, or expense,
Physicians instantly commence,
And proudly boast an Equal skill
With those who claim the right to kill.
Others about the country roam,
(For not one thought of going home)
With pistol and adopted leg,
Prepared at once to rob or beg.
Some, the more subtle of their race,
(Who felt some touch of coward grace,
Who Tyburn to avoid had wit,
But never fear'd deserving it)
Came to their brother Smollett's aid,
And carried on the critic trade.
Attach'd to letters and the Muse,
Some verses wrote, and some wrote news;
Those each revolving month are seen,
The heroes of a magazine;
These, every morning, great appear
In Ledger, or in Gazetteer,
Spreading the falsehoods of the day,
By turns for Faden and for Say.
Like Swiss, their force is always laid
On that side where they best are paid:
Hence mighty prodigies arise,
And daily monsters strike our eyes;
Wonders, to propagate the trade,
More strange than ever Baker made,
Are hawk'd about from street to street,
And fools believe, whilst liars eat.
Now armies in the air engage,
To fright a superstitious age;
Now comets through the ether range,
In governments portending change;
Now rivers to the ocean fly
So quick, they leave their channels dry;
Now monstrous whales on Lambeth shore
Drink the Thames dry, and thirst for more;
And every now and then appears
An Irish savage, numbering years
More than those happy sages could
Who drew their breath before the flood;
Now, to the wonder of all people,
A church is left without a steeple;
A steeple now is left in lurch,
And mourns departure of the church,
Which, borne on wings of mighty wind,
Removed a furlong off we find;
Now, wrath on cattle to discharge,
Hailstones as deadly fall, and large,
As those which were on Egypt sent,
At once their crime and punishment;
Or those which, as the prophet writes,
Fell on the necks of Amorites,
When, struck with wonder and amaze,
The sun, suspended, stay'd to gaze,
And, from her duty longer kept,
In Ajalon his sister slept.
But if such things no more engage
The taste of a politer age,
To help them out in time of need
Another Tofts must rabbits breed:
Each pregnant female trembling hears,
And, overcome with spleen and fears,
Consults her faithful glass no more,
But, madly bounding o'er the floor,
Feels hairs all o'er her body grow,
By Fancy turn'd into a doe.
Now, to promote their private ends,
Nature her usual course suspends,
And varies from the stated plan
Observed e'er since the world began.
Bodies--which foolishly we thought,
By Custom's servile maxims taught,
Needed a regular supply,
And without nourishment must die--
With craving appetites, and sense
Of hunger easily dispense,
And, pliant to their wondrous skill,
Are taught, like watches, to stand still,
Uninjured, for a month or more,
Then go on as they did before.
The novel takes, the tale succeeds,
Amply supplies its author's needs,
And Betty Canning is at least,
With Gascoyne's help, a six months' feast.
Whilst, in contempt of all our pains,
The tyrant Superstition reigns
Imperious in the heart of man,
And warps his thoughts from Nature's plan;
Whilst fond Credulity, who ne'er
The weight of wholesome doubts could bear,
To Reason and herself unjust,
Takes all things blindly upon trust;
Whilst Curiosity, whose rage
No mercy shows to sex or age,
Must be indulged at the expense
Of judgment, truth, and common sense,
Impostures cannot but prevail;
And when old miracles grow stale,
Jugglers will still the art pursue,
And entertain the world with new.
For them, obedient to their will,
And trembling at their mighty skill,
Sad spirits, summon'd from the tomb,
Glide, glaring ghastly, through the gloom;
In all the usual pomp of storms,
In horrid customary forms,
A wolf, a bear, a horse, an ape,
As Fear and Fancy give them shape,
Tormented with despair and pain,
They roar, they yell, and clank the chain.
Folly and Guilt (for Guilt, howe'er
The face of Courage it may wear,
Is still a coward at the heart)
At fear-created phantoms start.
The priest--that very word implies
That he's both innocent and wise--
Yet fears to travel in the dark,
Unless escorted by his clerk.
But let not every bungler deem
Too lightly of so deep a scheme;
For reputation of the art,
Each ghost must act a proper part,
Observe Decorum's needful grace,
And keep the laws of Time and Place;
Must change, with happy variation,
His manners with his situation;
What in the country might pass down,
Would be impertinent in town.
No spirit of discretion here
Can think of breeding awe and fear;
'Twill serve the purpose more by half
To make the congregation laugh.
We want no ensigns of surprise,
Locks stiff with gore, and saucer eyes;
Give us an entertaining sprite,
Gentle, familiar, and polite,
One who appears in such a form
As might an holy hermit warm,
Or who on former schemes refines,
And only talks by sounds and signs,
Who will not to the eye appear,
But pays her visits to the ear,
And knocks so gently, 't would not fright
A lady in the darkest night.
Such is our Fanny, whose good-will,
Which cannot in the grave lie still,
Brings her on earth to entertain
Her friends and lovers in Cock-lane.
Paradise Regained: The Third Book
So spake the Son of God; and Satan stood
A while as mute, confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted and convinced
Of his weak arguing and fallacious drift;
At length, collecting all his serpent wiles,
With soothing words renewed, him thus accosts:—
"I see thou know'st what is of use to know,
What best to say canst say, to do canst do;
Thy actions to thy words accord; thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due; thy heart
Contains of good, wise, just, the perfet shape.
Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy counsel would be as the oracle
Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems
On Aaron's breast, or tongue of Seers old
Infallible; or, wert thou sought to deeds
That might require the array of war, thy skill
Of conduct would be such that all the world
Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist
In battle, though against thy few in arms.
These godlike virtues wherefore dost thou hide?
Affecting private life, or more obscure
In savage wilderness, wherefore deprive
All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thyself
The fame and glory—glory, the reward
That sole excites to high attempts the flame
Of most erected spirits, most tempered pure
AEthereal, who all pleasures else despise,
All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
And dignities and powers, all but the highest?
Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe. The son
Of Macedonian Philip had ere these
Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held
At his dispose; young Scipio had brought down
The Carthaginian pride; young Pompey quelled
The Pontic king, and in triumph had rode.
Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,
The more he grew in years, the more inflamed
With glory, wept that he had lived so long
Ingloroious. But thou yet art not too late."
To whom our Saviour calmly thus replied:—
"Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth
For empire's sake, nor empire to affect
For glory's sake, by all thy argument.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmixed?
And what the people but a herd confused,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, and, well weighed, scarce worth the praise?
They praise and they admire they know not what,
And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
And what delight to be by such extolled,
To live upon their tongues, and be their talk?
Of whom to be dispraised were no small praise—
His lot who dares be singularly good.
The intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is raised.
This is true glory and renown—when God,
Looking on the Earth, with approbation marks
The just man, and divulges him through Heaven
To all his Angels, who with true applause
Recount his praises. Thus he did to Job,
When, to extend his fame through Heaven and Earth,
As thou to thy reproach may'st well remember,
He asked thee, 'Hast thou seen my servant Job?'
Famous he was in Heaven; on Earth less known,
Where glory is false glory, attributed
To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to overrun
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
Great cities by assault. What do these worthies
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable nations, neighbouring or remote,
Made captive, yet deserving freedom more
Than those their conquerors, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy;
Then swell with pride, and must be titled Gods,
Great benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
Worshipped with temple, priest, and sacrifice?
One is the son of Jove, of Mars the other;
Till conqueror Death discover them scarce men,
Rowling in brutish vices, and deformed,
Violent or shameful death their due reward.
But, if there be in glory aught of good;
It may be means far different be attained,
Without ambition, war, or violence—
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance. I mention still
Him whom thy wrongs, with saintly patience borne,
Made famous in a land and times obscure;
Who names not now with honour patient Job?
Poor Socrates, (who next more memorable?)
By what he taught and suffered for so doing,
For truth's sake suffering death unjust, lives now
Equal in fame to proudest conquerors.
Yet, if for fame and glory aught be done,
Aught suffered—if young African for fame
His wasted country freed from Punic rage—
The deed becomes unpraised, the man at least,
And loses, though but verbal, his reward.
Shall I seek glory, then, as vain men seek,
Oft not deserved? I seek not mine, but His
Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am."
To whom the Tempter, murmuring, thus replied:—
"Think not so slight of glory, therein least
Resembling thy great Father. He seeks glory,
And for his glory all things made, all things
Orders and governs; nor content in Heaven,
By all his Angels glorified, requires
Glory from men, from all men, good or bad,
Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption.
Above all sacrifice, or hallowed gift,
Glory he requires, and glory he receives,
Promiscuous from all nations, Jew, or Greek,
Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declared;
From us, his foes pronounced, glory he exacts."
To whom our Saviour fervently replied:
"And reason; since his Word all things produced,
Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,
But to shew forth his goodness, and impart
His good communicable to every soul
Freely; of whom what could He less expect
Than glory and benediction—that is, thanks—
The slightest, easiest, readiest recompense
From them who could return him nothing else,
And, not returning that, would likeliest render
Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?
Hard recompense, unsuitable return
For so much good, so much beneficience!
But why should man seek glory, who of his own
Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs
But condemnation, ignominy, and shame—
Who, for so many benefits received,
Turned recreant to God, ingrate and false,
And so of all true good himself despoiled;
Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take
That which to God alone of right belongs?
Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,
That who advances his glory, not their own,
Them he himself to glory will advance."
So spake the Son of God; and here again
Satan had not to answer, but stood struck
With guilt of his own sin—for he himself,
Insatiable of glory, had lost all;
Yet of another plea bethought him soon:—
"Of glory, as thou wilt," said he, "so deem;
Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass.
But to a Kingdom thou art born—ordained
To sit upon thy father David's throne,
By mother's side thy father, though thy right
Be now in powerful hands, that will not part
Easily from possession won with arms.
Judaea now and all the Promised Land,
Reduced a province under Roman yoke,
Obeys Tiberius, nor is always ruled
With temperate sway: oft have they violated
The Temple, oft the Law, with foul affronts,
Abominations rather, as did once
Antiochus. And think'st thou to regain
Thy right by sitting still, or thus retiring?
So did not Machabeus. He indeed
Retired unto the Desert, but with arms;
And o'er a mighty king so oft prevailed
That by strong hand his family obtained,
Though priests, the crown, and David's throne usurped,
With Modin and her suburbs once content.
If kingdom move thee not, let move thee zeal
And duty—zeal and duty are not slow,
But on Occasion's forelock watchful wait:
They themselves rather are occasion best—
Zeal of thy Father's house, duty to free
Thy country from her heathen servitude.
So shalt thou best fulfil, best verify,
The Prophets old, who sung thy endless reign—
The happier reign the sooner it begins.
Rein then; what canst thou better do the while?"
To whom our Saviour answer thus returned:—
"All things are best fulfilled in their due time;
And time there is for all things, Truth hath said.
If of my reign Prophetic Writ hath told
That it shall never end, so, when begin
The Father in his purpose hath decreed—
He in whose hand all times and seasons rowl.
What if he hath decreed that I shall first
Be tried in humble state, and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,
Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting
Without distrust or doubt, that He may know
What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer best can do, best reign who first
Well hath obeyed—just trial ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee when I begin
My everlasting Kingdom? Why art thou
Solicitous? What moves thy inquisition?
Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
And my promotion will be thy destruction?"
To whom the Tempter, inly racked, replied:—
"Let that come when it comes. All hope is lost
Of my reception into grace; what worse?
For where no hope is left is left no fear.
If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me than the feeling can.
I would be at the worst; worst is my port,
My harbour, and my ultimate repose,
The end I would attain, my final good.
My error was my error, and my crime
My crime; whatever, for itself condemned,
And will alike be punished, whether thou
Reign or reign not—though to that gentle brow
Willingly I could fly, and hope thy reign,
From that placid aspect and meek regard,
Rather than aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and thy Father's ire
(Whose ire I dread more than the fire of Hell)
A shelter and a kind of shading cool
Interposition, as a summer's cloud.
If I, then, to the worst that can be haste,
Why move thy feet so slow to what is best?
Happiest, both to thyself and all the world,
That thou, who worthiest art, shouldst be their King!
Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detained
Of the enterprise so hazardous and high!
No wonder; for, though in thee be united
What of perfection can in Man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce viewed the Galilean towns,
And once a year Jerusalem, few days'
Short sojourn; and what thence couldst thou observe?
The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts—
Best school of best experience, quickest in sight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous, and loth, with novice modesty
(As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom)
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous.
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The monarchies of the Earth, their pomp and state—
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts,
And regal mysteries; that thou may'st know
How best their opposition to withstand."
With that (such power was given him then), he took
The Son of God up to a mountain high.
It was a mountain at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain outstretched in circuit wide
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flowed,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign, with less rivers interveined,
Then meeting joined their tribute to the sea.
Fertil of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pasture thronged, with flocks the hills;
Huge cities and high-towered, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs; and so large
The prospect was that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain-top the Tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began:—
"Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale,
Forest, and field, and flood, temples and towers,
Cut shorter many a league. Here thou behold'st
Assyria, and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes and the Caspian lake; thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,
And, inaccessible, the Arabian drouth:
Here, Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis,
His city, there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,
And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye, thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian (now some ages past
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire) under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gathered all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid
He marches now in haste. See, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit—
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings."
He looked, and saw what numbers numberless
The city gates outpoured, light-armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride.
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound—
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;
From Atropatia, and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheeled, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown.
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or elephants indorsed with towers
Of archers; nor of labouring pioners
A multitude, with spades and axes armed,
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or where plain was raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke:
Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracea, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex, Angelica,
His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim and the peers of Charlemane.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry;
At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presumed,
And to our Saviour thus his words renewed:—
"That thou may'st know I seek not to engage
Thy virtue, and not every way secure
On no slight grounds thy safety, hear and mark
To what end I have brought thee hither, and shew
All this fair sight. Thy kingdom, though foretold
By Prophet or by Angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy father David did,
Thou never shalt obtain: prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means;
Without means used, what it predicts revokes.
But say thou wert possessed of David's throne
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how couldst thou hope
Long to enjoy it quiet and secure
Between two such enclosing enemies,
Roman and Parthian? Therefore one of these
Thou must make sure thy own: the Parthian first,
By my advice, as nearer, and of late
Found able by invasion to annoy
Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,
Antigonus and old Hyrcanus, bound,
Maugre the Roman. It shall be my task
To render thee the Parthian at dispose,
Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league.
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstall thee
In David's royal seat, his true successor—
Deliverance of thy brethren, those Ten Tribes
Whose offspring in his territory yet serve
In Habor, and among the Medes dispersed:
The sons of Jacob, two of Joseph, lost
Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old
Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To their inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the throne of David in full glory,
From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond,
Shalt reign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear."
To whom our Saviour answered thus, unmoved:—
"Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm
And fragile arms, much instrument of war,
Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,
Before mine eyes thou hast set, and in my ear
Vented much policy, and projects deep
Of enemies, of aids, battles, and leagues,
Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.
Means I must use, thou say'st; prediction else
Will unpredict, and fail me of the throne!
My time, I told thee (and that time for thee
Were better farthest off), is not yet come.
When that comes, think not thou to find me slack
On my part aught endeavouring, or to need
Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome
Luggage of war there shewn me—argument
Of human weakness rather than of strength.
My brethren, as thou call'st them, those Ten Tribes,
I must deliver, if I mean to reign
David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway
To just extent over all Israel's sons!
But whence to thee this zeal? Where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his throne,
When thou stood'st up his tempter to the pride
Of numbering Israel—which cost the lives
of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
By three days' pestilence? Such was thy zeal
To Israel then, the same that now to me.
As for those captive tribes, themselves were they
Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
From God to worship calves, the deities
Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,
And all the idolatries of heathen round,
Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes;
Nor in the land of their captivity
Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their forefathers, but so died
Impenitent, and left a race behind
Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
From Gentiles, but by circumcision vain,
And God with idols in their worship joined.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who, freed, as to their ancient patrimony,
Unhumbled, unrepentant, unreformed,
Headlong would follow, and to their gods perhaps
Of Bethel and of Dan? No; let them serve
Their enemies who serve idols with God.
Yet He at length, time to himself best known,
Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back, repentant and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they haste,
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
When to the Promised Land their fathers passed.
To his due time and providence I leave them."
So spake Israel's true King, and to the Fiend
Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.
So fares it when with truth falsehood contends.
by John Milton.
Book Eleventh: France [concluded]
FROM that time forth, Authority in France
Put on a milder face; Terror had ceased,
Yet everything was wanting that might give
Courage to them who looked for good by light
Of rational Experience, for the shoots
And hopeful blossoms of a second spring:
Yet, in me, confidence was unimpaired;
The Senate's language, and the public acts
And measures of the Government, though both
Weak, and of heartless omen, had not power
To daunt me; in the People was my trust:
And, in the virtues which mine eyes had seen,
I knew that wound external could not take
Life from the young Republic; that new foes
Would only follow, in the path of shame,
Their brethren, and her triumphs be in the end
Great, universal, irresistible.
This intuition led me to confound
One victory with another, higher far,--
Triumphs of unambitious peace at home,
And noiseless fortitude. Beholding still
Resistance strong as heretofore, I thought
That what was in degree the same was likewise
The same in quality,--that, as the worse
Of the two spirits then at strife remained
Untired, the better, surely, would preserve
The heart that first had roused him. Youth maintains,
In all conditions of society,
Communion more direct and intimate
With Nature,--hence, ofttimes, with reason too--
Than age or manhood, even. To Nature, then,
Power had reverted: habit, custom, law,
Had left an interregnum's open space
For 'her' to move about in, uncontrolled.
Hence could I see how Babel-like their task,
Who, by the recent deluge stupified,
With their whole souls went culling from the day
Its petty promises, to build a tower
For their own safety; laughed with my compeers
At gravest heads, by enmity to France
Distempered, till they found, in every blast
Forced from the street-disturbing newsman's horn,
For her great cause record or prophecy
Of utter ruin. How might we believe
That wisdom could, in any shape, come near
Men clinging to delusions so insane?
And thus, experience proving that no few
Of our opinions had been just, we took
Like credit to ourselves where less was due,
And thought that other notions were as sound
Yea, could not but be right, because we saw
That foolish men opposed them.
To a strain
More animated I might here give way,
And tell, since juvenile errors are my theme,
What in those days, through Britain, was performed
To turn 'all' judgments out of their right course;
But this is passion over-near ourselves,
Reality too close and too intense,
And intermixed with something, in my mind,
Of scorn and condemnation personal,
That would profane the sanctity of verse.
Our Shepherds, this say merely, at that time
Acted, or seemed at least to act, like men
Thirsting to make the guardian crook of law
A tool of murder; they who ruled the State--
Though with such awful proof before their eyes
That he, who would sow death, reaps death, or worse,
And can reap nothing better--child-like longed
To imitate, not wise enough to avoid;
Or left (by mere timidity betrayed)
The plain straight road, for one no better chosen
Than if their wish had been to undermine
Justice, and make an end of Liberty.
But from these bitter truths I must return
To my own history. It hath been told
That I was led to take an eager part
In arguments of civil polity,
Abruptly, and indeed before my time:
I had approached, like other youths, the shield
Of human nature from the golden side,
And would have fought, even to the death, to attest
The quality of the metal which I saw.
What there is best in individual man,
Of wise in passion, and sublime in power,
Benevolent in small societies,
And great in large ones, I had oft revolved,
Felt deeply, but not thoroughly understood
By reason: nay, far from it; they were yet,
As cause was given me afterwards to learn,
Not proof against the injuries of the day;
Lodged only at the sanctuary's door,
Not safe within its bosom. Thus prepared,
And with such general insight into evil,
And of the bounds which sever it from good,
As books and common intercourse with life
Must needs have given--to the inexperienced mind,
When the world travels in a beaten road,
Guide faithful as is needed--I began
To meditate with ardour on the rule
And management of nations; what it is
And ought to be; and strove to learn how far
Their power or weakness, wealth or poverty,
Their happiness or misery, depends
Upon their laws, and fashion of the State.
O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights
When most intent on making of herself
A prime enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole Earth,
The beauty wore of promise--that which sets
(As at some moments might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of Paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The play-fellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who of gentle mood
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--
Now was it that 'both' found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their hearts' desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish,--
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia,--subterranean fields,--
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where, in the end,
We find our happiness, or not at all!
Why should I not confess that Earth was then
To me, what an inheritance, new-fallen,
Seems, when the first time visited, to one
Who thither comes to find in it his home?
He walks about and looks upon the spot
With cordial transport, moulds it and remoulds,
And is half-pleased with things that are amiss,
'Twill be such joy to see them disappear.
An active partisan, I thus convoked
From every object pleasant circumstance
To suit my ends; I moved among mankind
With genial feelings still predominant;
When erring, erring on the better part,
And in the kinder spirit; placable,
Indulgent, as not uninformed that men
See as they have been taught--Antiquity
Gives rights to error; and aware, no less
That throwing off oppression must be work
As well of License as of Liberty;
And above all--for this was more than all--
Not caring if the wind did now and then
Blow keen upon an eminence that gave
Prospect so large into futurity;
In brief, a child of Nature, as at first,
Diffusing only those affections wider
That from the cradle had grown up with me,
And losing, in no other way than light
Is lost in light, the weak in the more strong.
In the main outline, such it might be said
Was my condition, till with open war
Britain opposed the liberties of France.
This threw me first out of the pale of love;
Soured and corrupted, upwards to the source,
My sentiments; was not, as hitherto,
A swallowing up of lesser things in great,
But change of them into their contraries;
And thus a way was opened for mistakes
And false conclusions, in degree as gross,
In kind more dangerous. What had been a pride,
Was now a shame; my likings and my loves
Ran in new channels, leaving old ones dry;
And hence a blow that, in maturer age,
Would but have touched the judgment, struck more deep
Into sensations near the heart: meantime,
As from the first, wild theories were afloat,
To whose pretensions, sedulously urged,
I had but lent a careless ear, assured
That time was ready to set all things right,
And that the multitude, so long oppressed,
Would be oppressed no more.
But when events
Brought less encouragement, and unto these
The immediate proof of principles no more
Could be entrusted, while the events themselves,
Worn out in greatness, stripped of novelty,
Less occupied the mind, and sentiments
Could through my understanding's natural growth
No longer keep their ground, by faith maintained
Of inward consciousness, and hope that laid
Her hand upon her object--evidence
Safer, of universal application, such
As could not be impeached, was sought elsewhere.
But now, become oppressors in their turn,
Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defence
For one of conquest, losing sight of all
Which they had struggled for: up mounted now,
Openly in the eye of earth and heaven,
The scale of liberty. I read her doom,
With anger vexed, with disappointment sore,
But not dismayed, nor taking to the shame
Of a false prophet. While resentment rose
Striving to hide, what nought could heal, the wounds
Of mortified presumption, I adhered
More firmly to old tenets, and, to prove
Their temper, strained them more; and thus, in heat
Of contest, did opinions every day
Grow into consequence, till round my mind
They clung, as if they were its life, nay more,
The very being of the immortal soul.
This was the time, when, all things tending fast
To depravation, speculative schemes--
That promised to abstract the hopes of Man
Out of his feelings, to be fixed thenceforth
For ever in a purer element--
Found ready welcome. Tempting region 'that'
For Zeal to enter and refresh herself,
Where passions had the privilege to work,
And never hear the sound of their own names.
But, speaking more in charity, the dream
Flattered the young, pleased with extremes, nor least
With that which makes our Reason's naked self
The object of its fervour. What delight!
How glorious! in self-knowledge and self-rule,
To look through all the frailties of the world,
And, with a resolute mastery shaking off
Infirmities of nature, time, and place,
Build social upon personal Liberty,
Which, to the blind restraints of general laws,
Superior, magisterially adopts
One guide, the light of circumstances, flashed
Upon an independent intellect.
Thus expectation rose again; thus hope,
From her first ground expelled, grew proud once more.
Oft, as my thoughts were turned to human kind,
I scorned indifference; but, inflamed with thirst
Of a secure intelligence, and sick
Of other longing, I pursued what seemed
A more exalted nature; wished that Man
Should start out of his earthy, worm-like state,
And spread abroad the wings of Liberty,
Lord of himself, in undisturbed delight--
A noble aspiration! 'yet' I feel
(Sustained by worthier as by wiser thoughts)
The aspiration, nor shall ever cease
To feel it;--but return we to our course.
Enough, 'tis true--could such a plea excuse
Those aberrations--had the clamorous friends
Of ancient Institutions said and done
To bring disgrace upon their very names;
Disgrace, of which, custom and written law,
And sundry moral sentiments as props
Or emanations of those institutes,
Too justly bore a part. A veil had been
Uplifted; why deceive ourselves? in sooth,
'Twas even so; and sorrow for the man
Who either had not eyes wherewith to see,
Or, seeing, had forgotten! A strong shock
Was given to old opinions; all men's minds
Had felt its power, and mine was both let loose,
Let loose and goaded. After what hath been
Already said of patriotic love,
Suffice it here to add, that, somewhat stern
In temperament, withal a happy man,
And therefore bold to look on painful things,
Free likewise of the world, and thence more bold,
I summoned my best skill, and toiled, intent
To anatomise the frame of social life;
Yea, the whole body of society
Searched to its heart. Share with me, Friend! the wish
That some dramatic tale, endued with shapes
Livelier, and flinging out less guarded words
Than suit the work we fashion, might set forth
What then I learned, or think I learned, of truth,
And the errors into which I fell, betrayed
By present objects, and by reasonings false
From their beginnings, inasmuch as drawn
Out of a heart that had been turned aside
From Nature's way by outward accidents,
And which was thus confounded, more and more
Misguided, and misguiding. So I fared,
Dragging all precepts, judgments, maxims, creeds,
Like culprits to the bar; calling the mind,
Suspiciously, to establish in plain day
Her titles and her honours; now believing,
Now disbelieving; endlessly perplexed
With impulse, motive, right and wrong, the ground
Of obligation, what the rule and whence
The sanction; till, demanding formal 'proof',
And seeking it in every thing, I lost
All feeling of conviction, and, in fine,
Sick, wearied out with contrarieties,
Yielded up moral questions in despair.
This was the crisis of that strong disease,
This the soul's last and lowest ebb; I drooped,
Deeming our blessed reason of least use
Where wanted most: 'The lordly attributes
Of will and choice,' I bitterly exclaimed
'What are they but a mockery of a Being
Who hath in no concerns of his a test
Of good and evil; knows not what to fear
Or hope for, what to covet or to shun;
And who, if those could be discerned, would yet
Be little profited, would see, and ask
Where is the obligation to enforce?
And, to acknowledged law rebellious, still,
As selfish passion urged, would act amiss;
The dupe of folly, or the slave of crime.'
Depressed, bewildered thus, I did not walk
With scoffers, seeking light and gay revenge
From indiscriminate laughter, nor sate down
In reconcilement with an utter waste
Of intellect; such sloth I could not brook,
(Too well I loved, in that my spring of life,
Pains-taking thoughts, and truth, their dear reward)
But turned to abstract science, and there sought
Work for the reasoning faculty enthroned
Where the disturbances of space and time--
Whether in matters various, properties
Inherent, or from human will and power
Derived--find no admission. Then it was--
Thanks to the bounteous Giver of all good!--
That the beloved Sister in whose sight
Those days were passed, now speaking in a voice
Of sudden admonition--like a brook
That did but 'cross' a lonely road, and now
Is seen, heard, felt, and caught at every turn,
Companion never lost through many a league--
Maintained for me a saving intercourse
With my true self; for, though bedimmed and changed
Much, as it seemed, I was no further changed
Than as a clouded and a waning moon:
She whispered still that brightness would return;
She, in the midst of all, preserved me still
A Poet, made me seek beneath that name,
And that alone, my office upon earth;
And, lastly, as hereafter will be shown,
If willing audience fail not, Nature's self,
By all varieties of human love
Assisted, led me back through opening day
To those sweet counsels between head and heart
Whence grew that genuine knowledge, fraught with peace,
Which, through the later sinkings of this cause,
Hath still upheld me, and upholds me now
In the catastrophe (for so they dream,
And nothing less), when, finally to close
And seal up all the gains of France, a Pope
Is summoned in, to crown an Emperor--
This last opprobrium, when we see a people,
That once looked up in faith, as if to Heaven
For manna, take a lesson from the dog
Returning to his vomit; when the sun
That rose in splendour, was alive, and moved
In exultation with a living pomp
Of clouds--his glory's natural retinue--
Hath dropped all functions by the gods bestowed,
And, turned into a gewgaw, a machine,
Sets like an Opera phantom.
Thus, O Friend!
Through times of honour and through times of shame
Descending, have I faithfully retraced
The perturbations of a youthful mind
Under a long-lived storm of great events--
A story destined for thy ear, who now,
Among the fallen of nations, dost abide
Where Etna, over hill and valley, casts
His shadow stretching towards Syracuse,
The city of Timoleon! Righteous Heaven!
How are the mighty prostrated! They first,
They first of all that breathe should have awaked
When the great voice was heard from out the tombs
Of ancient heroes. If I suffered grief
For ill-requited France, by many deemed
A trifler only in her proudest day;
Have been distressed to think of what she once
Promised, now is; a far more sober cause
Thine eyes must see of sorrow in a land,
To the reanimating influence lost
Of memory, to virtue lost and hope,
Though with the wreck of loftier years bestrewn.
But indignation works where hope is not,
And thou, O Friend! wilt be refreshed. There is
One great society alone on earth:
The noble Living and the noble Dead.
Thine be such converse strong and sanative,
A ladder for thy spirit to reascend
To health and joy and pure contentedness;
To me the grief confined, that thou art gone
From this last spot of earth, where Freedom now
Stands single in her only sanctuary;
A lonely wanderer, art gone, by pain
Compelled and sickness, at this latter day,
This sorrowful reverse for all mankind.
I feel for thee, must utter what I feel:
The sympathies erewhile in part discharged,
Gather afresh, and will have vent again:
My own delights do scarcely seem to me
My own delights; the lordly Alps themselves,
Those rosy peaks, from which the Morning looks
Abroad on many nations, are no more
For me that image of pure gladsomeness
Which they were wont to be. Through kindred scenes,
For purpose, at a time, how different!
Thou tak'st thy way, carrying the heart and soul
That Nature gives to Poets, now by thought
Matured, and in the summer of their strength.
Oh! wrap him in your shades, ye giant woods,
On Etna's side; and thou, O flowery field
Of Enna! is there not some nook of thine,
From the first play-time of the infant world
Kept sacred to restorative delight,
When from afar invoked by anxious love?
Child of the mountains, among shepherds reared,
Ere yet familiar with the classic page,
I learnt to dream of Sicily; and lo,
The gloom, that, but a moment past, was deepened
At thy command, at her command gives way;
A pleasant promise, wafted from her shores,
Comes o'er my heart: in fancy I behold
Her seas yet smiling, her once happy vales;
Nor can my tongue give utterance to a name
Of note belonging to that honoured isle,
Philosopher or Bard, Empedocles,
Or Archimedes, pure abstracted soul!
That doth not yield a solace to my grief:
And, O Theocritus, so far have some
Prevailed among the powers of heaven and earth,
By their endowments, good or great, that they
Have had, as thou reportest, miracles
Wrought for them in old time: yea, not unmoved,
When thinking on my own beloved friend,
I hear thee tell how bees with honey fed
Divine Comates, by his impious lord
Within a chest imprisoned; how they came
Laden from blooming grove or flowery field,
And fed him there, alive, month after month,
Because the goatherd, blessed man! had lips
Wet with the Muses' nectar.
Thus I soothe
The pensive moments by this calm fire-side,
And find a thousand bounteous images
To cheer the thoughts of those I love, and mine.
Our prayers have been accepted; thou wilt stand
On Etna's summit, above earth and sea,
Triumphant, winning from the invaded heavens
Thoughts without bound, magnificent designs,
Worthy of poets who attuned their harps
In wood or echoing cave, for discipline
Of heroes; or, in reverence to the gods,
'Mid temples, served by sapient priests, and choirs
Of virgins crowned with roses. Not in vain
Those temples, where they in their ruins yet
Survive for inspiration, shall attract
Thy solitary steps: and on the brink
Thou wilt recline of pastoral Arethuse;
Or, if that fountain be in truth no more,
Then, near some other spring--which, by the name
Thou gratulatest, willingly deceived--
I see thee linger a glad votary,
And not a captive pining for his home.
Paradise Regained: The First Book
I, who erewhile the happy Garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recovered Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the Tempter foiled
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste Wilderness.
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute,
And bear through highth or depth of Nature's bounds,
With prosperous wing full summed, to tell of deeds
Above heroic, though in secret done,
And unrecorded left through many an age:
Worthy to have not remained so long unsung.
Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice
More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried
Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand
To all baptized. To his great baptism flocked
With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deemed
To the flood Jordan—came as then obscure,
Unmarked, unknown. But him the Baptist soon
Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resigned
To him his heavenly office. Nor was long
His witness unconfirmed: on him baptized
Heaven opened, and in likeness of a Dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last, and, with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man to whom
Such high attest was given a while surveyed
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty Peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:—
"O ancient Powers of Air and this wide World
(For much more willingly I mention Air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation), well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This Universe we have possessed, and ruled
In manner at our will the affairs of Earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to Him is short;
And now, too soon for us, the circling hours
This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound
(At least, if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom and our being
In this fair empire won of Earth and Air)—
For this ill news I bring: The Woman's Seed,
Destined to this, is late of woman born.
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause;
But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying
All virtue, grace and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purified to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honour as their King. All come,
And he himself among them was baptized—
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The Prophet do him reverence; on him, rising
Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head
A perfet Dove descend (whate'er it meant);
And out of Heaven the sovraign voice I heard,
'This is my Son beloved,—in him am pleased.'
His mother, than, is mortal, but his Sire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven;
And what will He not do to advance his Son?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the Deep;
Who this is we must learn, for Man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed
(Not force, but well-couched fraud, well-woven snares),
Ere in the head of nations he appear,
Their king, their leader, and supreme on Earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook
The dismal expedition to find out
And ruin Adam, and the exploit performed
Successfully: a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once
Induces best to hope of like success."
He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to the infernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
At these sad tidings. But no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this man enterprise
To him, their great Dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thrived
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents, and potentates, and kings, yea gods,
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,
Where he might likeliest find this new-declared,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try—
So to subvert whom he suspected raised
To end his reign on Earth so long enjoyed:
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled
The purposed counsel, pre-ordained and fixed,
Of the Most High, who, in full frequence bright
Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake:—
"Gabriel, this day, by proof, thou shalt behold,
Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth
With Man or men's affairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message late,
On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a son,
Great in renown, and called the Son of God.
Then told'st her, doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O'ershadow her. This Man, born and now upgrown,
To shew him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan; let him tempt, and now assay
His utmost subtlety, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his Apostasy. He might have learnt
Less overweening, since he failed in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man,
Of female seed, far abler to resist
All his solicitations, and at length
All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell—
Winning by conquest what the first man lost
By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
To exercise him in the Wilderness;
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes.
By humiliation and strong sufferance
His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
That all the Angels and aethereal Powers—
They now, and men hereafter—may discern
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfet man, by merit called my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men."
So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven
Admiring stood a space; then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved,
Circling the throne and singing, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument:—
"Victory and triumph to the Son of God,
Now entering his great duel, not of arms,
But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles!
The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell,
And, devilish machinations, come to nought!"
So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned.
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized,
Musing and much revolving in his breast
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
Publish his godlike office now mature,
One day forth walked alone, the Spirit leading
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
With solitude, till, far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He entered now the bordering Desert wild,
And, with dark shades and rocks environed round,
His holy meditations thus pursued:—
"O what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compared!
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
What might be public good; myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
All righteous things. Therefore, above my years,
The Law of God I read, and found it sweet;
Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To such perfection that, ere yet my age
Had measured twice six years, at our great Feast
I went into the Temple, there to hear
The teachers of our Law, and to propose
What might improve my knowledge or their own,
And was admired by all. Yet this not all
To which my spirit aspired. Victorious deeds
Flamed in my heart, heroic acts—one while
To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke;
Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth,
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
Till truth were freed, and equity restored:
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make persuasion do the work of fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul,
Not wilfully misdoing, but unware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving,
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced,
And said to me apart, 'High are thy thoughts,
O Son! but nourish them, and let them soar
To what highth sacred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, though above example high;
By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man;
Though men esteem thee low of parentage,
Thy Father is the Eternal King who rules
All Heaven and Earth, Angels and sons of men.
A messenger from God foretold thy birth
Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold
Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne,
And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity a glorious quire
Of Angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung
To shepherds, watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him; and to thee they came,
Directed to the manger where thou lay'st;
For in the inn was left no better room.
A Star, not seen before, in heaven appearing,
Guided the Wise Men thither from the East,
To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold;
By whose bright course led on they found the place,
Affirming it thy star, new-graven in heaven,
By which they knew thee King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned
By vision, found thee in the Temple, and spake,
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood.'
This having heart, straight I again revolved
The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes
Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake
I am—this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, even to the death,
Ere I the promised kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins'
Full weight must be transferred upon my head.
Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed,
The time prefixed I waited; when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard,
Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
Before Messiah, and his way prepare!
I, as all others, to his baptism came,
Which I believed was from above; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaimed
Me him (for it was shewn him so from Heaven)—
Me him whose harbinger he was; and first
Refused on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won.
But, as I rose out of the laving stream,
Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a Dove;
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleased: by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
The authority which I derived from Heaven.
And now by some strong motion I am led
Into this wilderness; to what intent
I learn not yet. Perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals."
So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise,
And, looking round, on every side beheld
A pathless desert, dusk with horrid shades.
The way he came, not having marked return,
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodged in his breast as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he passed—whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak
Or cedar to defend him from the dew,
Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed;
Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt,
Till those days ended; hungered then at last
Among wild beasts. They at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk
The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm;
The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds,
Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray eye,
Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him wet returned from field at eve,
He saw approach; who first with curious eye
Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake:—
"Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place,
So far from path or road of men, who pass
In troop or caravan? for single none
Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here
His carcass, pined with hunger and with droughth.
I ask the rather, and the more admire,
For that to me thou seem'st the man whom late
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honoured so, and called thee Son
Of God. I saw and heard, for we sometimes
Who dwell this wild, constrained by want, come forth
To town or village nigh (nighest is far),
Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new; fame also finds us out."
To whom the Son of God:—"Who brought me hither
Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek."
"By miracle he may," replied the swain;
"What other way I see not; for we here
Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inured
More than the camel, and to drink go far—
Men to much misery and hardship born.
But, if thou be the Son of God, command
That out of these hard stones be made thee bread;
So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve
With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste."
He ended, and the Son of God replied:—
"Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written
(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st),
Man lives not by bread only, but each word
Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed
Our fathers here with manna? In the Mount
Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank;
And forty days Eliah without food
Wandered this barren waste; the same I now.
Why dost thou, then, suggest to me distrust
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?"
Whom thus answered the Arch-Fiend, now undisguised:—
"'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate
Who, leagued with millions more in rash revolt,
Kept not my happy station, but was driven
With them from bliss to the bottomless Deep—
Yet to that hideous place not so confined
By rigour unconniving but that oft,
Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy
Large liberty to round this globe of Earth,
Or range in the Air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens
Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
I came, among the Sons of God, when he
Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job,
To prove him, and illustrate his high worth;
And, when to all his Angels he proposed
To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud,
That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring,
I undertook that office, and the tongues
Of all his flattering prophets glibbed with lies
To his destruction, as I had in charge:
For what he bids I do. Though I have lost
Much lustre of my native brightness, lost
To be beloved of God, I have not lost
To love, at least contemplate and admire,
What I see excellent in good, or fair,
Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense.
What can be then less in me than desire
To see thee and approach thee, whom I know
Declared the Son of God, to hear attent
Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds?
Men generally think me much a foe
To all mankind. Why should I? they to me
Never did wrong or violence. By them
I lost not what I lost; rather by them
I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell
Copartner in these regions of the World,
If not disposer—lend them oft my aid,
Oft my advice by presages and signs,
And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams,
Whereby they may direct their future life.
Envy, they say, excites me, thus to gain
Companions of my misery and woe!
At first it may be; but, long since with woe
Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load;
Small consolation, then, were Man adjoined.
This wounds me most (what can it less?) that Man,
Man fallen, shall be restored, I never more."
To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied:—
"Deservedly thou griev'st, composed of lies
From the beginning, and in lies wilt end,
Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come
Into the Heaven of Heavens. Thou com'st, indeed,
As a poor miserable captive thrall
Comes to the place where he before had sat
Among the prime in splendour, now deposed,
Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunned,
A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn,
To all the host of Heaven. The happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy—
Rather inflames thy torment, representing
Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable;
So never more in Hell than when in Heaven.
But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King!
Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
What but thy malice moved thee to misdeem
Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him
With all inflictions? but his patience won.
The other service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretend'st to truth! all oracles
By thee are given, and what confessed more true
Among the nations? That hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers? what but dark,
Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding,
Which they who asked have seldom understood,
And, not well understood, as good not known?
Who ever, by consulting at thy shrine,
Returned the wiser, or the more instruct
To fly or follow what concerned him most,
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous. But, when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence,
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth,
But from him, or his Angels president
In every province, who, themselves disdaining
To approach thy temples, give thee in command
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say
To thy adorers? Thou, with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st;
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched;
No more shalt thou by oracling abuse
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shalt be enquired at Delphos or elsewhere—
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living Oracle
Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of Truth henceforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oracle
To all truth requisite for men to know."
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend,
Though inly stung with anger and disdain,
Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned:—
"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke,
And urged me hard with doings which not will,
But misery, hath wrested from me. Where
Easily canst thou find one miserable,
And not inforced oft-times to part from truth,
If it may stand him more in stead to lie,
Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure?
But thou art placed above me; thou art Lord;
From thee I can, and must, submiss, endure
Cheek or reproof, and glad to scape so quit.
Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk,
Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the ear,
And tunable as sylvan pipe or song;
What wonder, then, if I delight to hear
Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire
Virtue who follow not her lore. Permit me
To hear thee when I come (since no man comes),
And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest
To tread his sacred courts, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing, and voutsafed his voice
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspired: disdain not such access to me."
To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow:—
"Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope,
I bid not, or forbid. Do as thou find'st
Permission from above; thou canst not more."
He added not; and Satan, bowling low
His gray dissimulation, disappeared,
Into thin air diffused: for now began
Night with her sullen wing to double-shade
The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couched;
And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.
by John Milton.
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,
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
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,
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,
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,
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;
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,
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;
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.
_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.
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.
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;
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.
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?
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.
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.
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;
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?
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
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,
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,
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,
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.
Paradise Lost: Book 12
As one who in his journey bates at noon,
Though bent on speed; so here the Arch-Angel paused
Betwixt the world destroyed and world restored,
If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;
Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes.
Thus thou hast seen one world begin, and end;
And Man, as from a second stock, proceed.
Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must needs impair and weary human sense:
Henceforth what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.
This second source of Men, while yet but few,
And while the dread of judgement past remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
With some regard to what is just and right
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace;
Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd or flock,
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large wine-offerings poured, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed; and dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule: till one shall rise
Of proud ambitious heart; who, not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the earth;
Hunting (and men not beasts shall be his game)
With war, and hostile snare, such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous:
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
Before the Lord; as in despite of Heaven,
Or from Heaven, claiming second sovranty;
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
He with a crew, whom like ambition joins
With him or under him to tyrannize,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from under ground, the mouth of Hell:
Of brick, and of that stuff, they cast to build
A city and tower, whose top may reach to Heaven;
And get themselves a name; lest, far dispersed
In foreign lands, their memory be lost;
Regardless whether good or evil fame.
But God, who oft descends to visit men
Unseen, and through their habitations walks
To mark their doings, them beholding soon,
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven-towers, and in derision sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase
Quite out their native language; and, instead,
To sow a jangling noise of words unknown:
Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud,
Among the builders; each to other calls
Not understood; till hoarse, and all in rage,
As mocked they storm: great laughter was in Heaven,
And looking down, to see the hubbub strange,
And hear the din: Thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named.
Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased.
O execrable son! so to aspire
Above his brethren; to himself assuming
Authority usurped, from God not given:
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over men
He made not lord; such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on Man; to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance: Wretched man!what food
Will he convey up thither, to sustain
Himself and his rash army; where thin air
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread?
To whom thus Michael. Justly thou abhorrest
That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue
Rational liberty; yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being:
Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,
Immediately inordinate desires,
And upstart passions, catch the government
From reason; and to servitude reduce
Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits
Within himself unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God, in judgement just,
Subjects him from without to violent lords;
Who oft as undeservedly enthrall
His outward freedom: Tyranny must be;
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annexed,
Deprives them of their outward liberty;
Their inward lost: Witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark; who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants, on his vicious race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse; till God at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes; resolving from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways;
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invoked,
A nation from one faithful man to spring:
Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred up in idol-worship: O, that men
(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch lived, who 'scaped the flood,
As to forsake the living God, and fall
To worship their own work in wood and stone
For Gods! Yet him God the Most High vouchsafes
To call by vision, from his father's house,
His kindred, and false Gods, into a land
Which he will show him; and from him will raise
A mighty nation; and upon him shower
His benediction so, that in his seed
All nations shall be blest: he straight obeys;
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes:
I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith
He leaves his Gods, his friends, and native soil,
Ur of Chaldaea, passing now the ford
To Haran; after him a cumbrous train
Of herds and flocks, and numerous servitude;
Not wandering poor, but trusting all his wealth
With God, who called him, in a land unknown.
Canaan he now attains; I see his tents
Pitched about Sechem, and the neighbouring plain
Of Moreh; there by promise he receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land,
From Hameth northward to the Desart south;
(Things by their names I call, though yet unnamed;)
From Hermon east to the great western Sea;
Mount Hermon, yonder sea; each place behold
In prospect, as I point them; on the shore
Mount Carmel; here, the double-founted stream,
Jordan, true limit eastward; but his sons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the earth
Shall in his seed be blessed: By that seed
Is meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise
The Serpent's head; whereof to thee anon
Plainlier shall be revealed. This patriarch blest,
Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,
A son, and of his son a grand-child, leaves;
Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown:
The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, departs
From Canaan to a land hereafter called
Egypt, divided by the river Nile
See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths
Into the sea. To sojourn in that land
He comes, invited by a younger son
In time of dearth, a son whose worthy deeds
Raise him to be the second in that realm
Of Pharaoh. There he dies, and leaves his race
Growing into a nation, and now grown
Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks
To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests
Too numerous; whence of guests he makes them slaves
Inhospitably, and kills their infant males:
Till by two brethren (these two brethren call
Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim
His people from enthralment, they return,
With glory and spoil, back to their promised land.
But first, the lawless tyrant, who denies
To know their God, or message to regard,
Must be compelled by signs and judgements dire;
To blood unshed the rivers must be turned;
Frogs, lice, and flies, must all his palace fill
With loathed intrusion, and fill all the land;
His cattle must of rot and murren die;
Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss,
And all his people; thunder mixed with hail,
Hail mixed with fire, must rend the Egyptians sky,
And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;
What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,
A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down
Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green;
Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,
Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;
Last, with one midnight stroke, all the first-born
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds
The river-dragon tamed at length submits
To let his sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his stubborn heart; but still, as ice
More hardened after thaw; till, in his rage
Pursuing whom he late dismissed, the sea
Swallows him with his host; but them lets pass,
As on dry land, between two crystal walls;
Awed by the rod of Moses so to stand
Divided, till his rescued gain their shore:
Such wondrous power God to his saint will lend,
Though present in his Angel; who shall go
Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire;
By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire;
To guide them in their journey, and remove
Behind them, while the obdurate king pursues:
All night he will pursue; but his approach
Darkness defends between till morning watch;
Then through the fiery pillar, and the cloud,
God looking forth will trouble all his host,
And craze their chariot-wheels: when by command
Moses once more his potent rod extends
Over the sea; the sea his rod obeys;
On their embattled ranks the waves return,
And overwhelm their war: The race elect
Safe toward Canaan from the shore advance
Through the wild Desart, not the readiest way;
Lest, entering on the Canaanite alarmed,
War terrify them inexpert, and fear
Return them back to Egypt, choosing rather
Inglorious life with servitude; for life
To noble and ignoble is more sweet
Untrained in arms, where rashness leads not on.
This also shall they gain by their delay
In the wide wilderness; there they shall found
Their government, and their great senate choose
Through the twelve tribes, to rule by laws ordained:
God from the mount of Sinai, whose gray top
Shall tremble, he descending, will himself
In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets' sound,
Ordain them laws; part, such as appertain
To civil justice; part, religious rites
Of sacrifice; informing them, by types
And shadows, of that destined Seed to bruise
The Serpent, by what means he shall achieve
Mankind's deliverance. But the voice of God
To mortal ear is dreadful: They beseech
That Moses might report to them his will,
And terrour cease; he grants what they besought,
Instructed that to God is no access
Without Mediator, whose high office now
Moses in figure bears; to introduce
One greater, of whose day he shall foretel,
And all the Prophets in their age the times
Of great Messiah shall sing. Thus, laws and rites
Established, such delight hath God in Men
Obedient to his will, that he vouchsafes
Among them to set up his tabernacle;
The Holy One with mortal Men to dwell:
By his prescript a sanctuary is framed
Of cedar, overlaid with gold; therein
An ark, and in the ark his testimony,
The records of his covenant; over these
A mercy-seat of gold, between the wings
Of two bright Cherubim; before him burn
Seven lamps as in a zodiack representing
The heavenly fires; over the tent a cloud
Shall rest by day, a fiery gleam by night;
Save when they journey, and at length they come,
Conducted by his Angel, to the land
Promised to Abraham and his seed:--The rest
Were long to tell; how many battles fought
How many kings destroyed; and kingdoms won;
Or how the sun shall in mid Heaven stand still
A day entire, and night's due course adjourn,
Man's voice commanding, 'Sun, in Gibeon stand,
'And thou moon in the vale of Aialon,
'Till Israel overcome! so call the third
From Abraham, son of Isaac; and from him
His whole descent, who thus shall Canaan win.
Here Adam interposed. O sent from Heaven,
Enlightener of my darkness, gracious things
Thou hast revealed; those chiefly, which concern
Just Abraham and his seed: now first I find
Mine eyes true-opening, and my heart much eased;
Erewhile perplexed with thoughts, what would become
Of me and all mankind: But now I see
His day, in whom all nations shall be blest;
Favour unmerited by me, who sought
Forbidden knowledge by forbidden means.
This yet I apprehend not, why to those
Among whom God will deign to dwell on earth
So many and so various laws are given;
So many laws argue so many sins
Among them; how can God with such reside?
To whom thus Michael. Doubt not but that sin
Will reign among them, as of thee begot;
And therefore was law given them, to evince
Their natural pravity, by stirring up
Sin against law to fight: that when they see
Law can discover sin, but not remove,
Save by those shadowy expiations weak,
The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude
Some blood more precious must be paid for Man;
Just for unjust; that, in such righteousness
To them by faith imputed, they may find
Justification towards God, and peace
Of conscience; which the law by ceremonies
Cannot appease; nor Man the mortal part
Perform; and, not performing, cannot live.
So law appears imperfect; and but given
With purpose to resign them, in full time,
Up to a better covenant; disciplined
From shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit;
From imposition of strict laws to free
Acceptance of large grace; from servile fear
To filial; works of law to works of faith.
And therefore shall not Moses, though of God
Highly beloved, being but the minister
Of law, his people into Canaan lead;
But Joshua, whom the Gentiles Jesus call,
His name and office bearing, who shall quell
The adversary-Serpent, and bring back
Through the world's wilderness long-wandered Man
Safe to eternal Paradise of rest.
Mean while they, in their earthly Canaan placed,
Long time shall dwell and prosper, but when sins
National interrupt their publick peace,
Provoking God to raise them enemies;
From whom as oft he saves them penitent
By Judges first, then under Kings; of whom
The second, both for piety renowned
And puissant deeds, a promise shall receive
Irrevocable, that his regal throne
For ever shall endure; the like shall sing
All Prophecy, that of the royal stock
Of David (so I name this king) shall rise
A Son, the Woman's seed to thee foretold,
Foretold to Abraham, as in whom shall trust
All nations; and to kings foretold, of kings
The last; for of his reign shall be no end.
But first, a long succession must ensue;
And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed,
The clouded ark of God, till then in tents
Wandering, shall in a glorious temple enshrine.
Such follow him, as shall be registered
Part good, part bad; of bad the longer scroll;
Whose foul idolatries, and other faults
Heaped to the popular sum, will so incense
God, as to leave them, and expose their land,
Their city, his temple, and his holy ark,
With all his sacred things, a scorn and prey
To that proud city, whose high walls thou sawest
Left in confusion; Babylon thence called.
There in captivity he lets them dwell
The space of seventy years; then brings them back,
Remembering mercy, and his covenant sworn
To David, stablished as the days of Heaven.
Returned from Babylon by leave of kings
Their lords, whom God disposed, the house of God
They first re-edify; and for a while
In mean estate live moderate; till, grown
In wealth and multitude, factious they grow;
But first among the priests dissention springs,
Men who attend the altar, and should most
Endeavour peace: their strife pollution brings
Upon the temple itself: at last they seise
The scepter, and regard not David's sons;
Then lose it to a stranger, that the true
Anointed King Messiah might be born
Barred of his right; yet at his birth a star,
Unseen before in Heaven, proclaims him come;
And guides the eastern sages, who inquire
His place, to offer incense, myrrh, and gold:
His place of birth a solemn Angel tells
To simple shepherds, keeping watch by night;
They gladly thither haste, and by a quire
Of squadroned Angels hear his carol sung.
A virgin is his mother, but his sire
The power of the Most High: He shall ascend
The throne hereditary, and bound his reign
With Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heavens.
He ceased, discerning Adam with such joy
Surcharged, as had like grief been dewed in tears,
Without the vent of words; which these he breathed.
O prophet of glad tidings, finisher
Of utmost hope! now clear I understand
What oft my steadiest thoughts have searched in vain;
Why our great Expectation should be called
The seed of Woman: Virgin Mother, hail,
High in the love of Heaven; yet from my loins
Thou shalt proceed, and from thy womb the Son
Of God Most High: so God with Man unites!
Needs must the Serpent now his capital bruise
Expect with mortal pain: Say where and when
Their fight, what stroke shall bruise the victor's heel.
To whom thus Michael. Dream not of their fight,
As of a duel, or the local wounds
Of head or heel: Not therefore joins the Son
Manhood to Godhead, with more strength to foil
Thy enemy; nor so is overcome
Satan, whose fall from Heaven, a deadlier bruise,
Disabled, not to give thee thy death's wound:
Which he, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure,
Not by destroying Satan, but his works
In thee, and in thy seed: Nor can this be,
But by fulfilling that which thou didst want,
Obedience to the law of God, imposed
On penalty of death, and suffering death;
The penalty to thy transgression due,
And due to theirs which out of thine will grow:
So only can high Justice rest appaid.
The law of God exact he shall fulfil
Both by obedience and by love, though love
Alone fulfil the law; thy punishment
He shall endure, by coming in the flesh
To a reproachful life, and cursed death;
Proclaiming life to all who shall believe
In his redemption; and that his obedience,
Imputed, becomes theirs by faith; his merits
To save them, not their own, though legal, works.
For this he shall live hated, be blasphemed,
Seised on by force, judged, and to death condemned
A shameful and accursed, nailed to the cross
By his own nation; slain for bringing life:
But to the cross he nails thy enemies,
The law that is against thee, and the sins
Of all mankind, with him there crucified,
Never to hurt them more who rightly trust
In this his satisfaction; so he dies,
But soon revives; Death over him no power
Shall long usurp; ere the third dawning light
Return, the stars of morn shall see him rise
Out of his grave, fresh as the dawning light,
Thy ransom paid, which Man from death redeems,
His death for Man, as many as offered life
Neglect not, and the benefit embrace
By faith not void of works: This God-like act
Annuls thy doom, the death thou shouldest have died,
In sin for ever lost from life; this act
Shall bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength,
Defeating Sin and Death, his two main arms;
And fix far deeper in his head their stings
Than temporal death shall bruise the victor's heel,
Or theirs whom he redeems; a death, like sleep,
A gentle wafting to immortal life.
Nor after resurrection shall he stay
Longer on earth, than certain times to appear
To his disciples, men who in his life
Still followed him; to them shall leave in charge
To teach all nations what of him they learned
And his salvation; them who shall believe
Baptizing in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life
Pure, and in mind prepared, if so befall,
For death, like that which the Redeemer died.
All nations they shall teach; for, from that day,
Not only to the sons of Abraham's loins
Salvation shall be preached, but to the sons
Of Abraham's faith wherever through the world;
So in his seed all nations shall be blest.
Then to the Heaven of Heavens he shall ascend
With victory, triumphing through the air
Over his foes and thine; there shall surprise
The Serpent, prince of air, and drag in chains
Through all his realm, and there confounded leave;
Then enter into glory, and resume
His seat at God's right hand, exalted high
Above all names in Heaven; and thence shall come,
When this world's dissolution shall be ripe,
With glory and power to judge both quick and dead;
To judge the unfaithful dead, but to reward
His faithful, and receive them into bliss,
Whether in Heaven or Earth; for then the Earth
Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days.
So spake the Arch-Angel Michael; then paused,
As at the world's great period; and our sire,
Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied.
O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce,
And evil turn to good; more wonderful
Than that which by creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand,
Whether I should repent me now of sin
By me done, and occasioned; or rejoice
Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring;
To God more glory, more good-will to Men
From God, and over wrath grace shall abound.
But say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven
Must re-ascend, what will betide the few
His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,
The enemies of truth? Who then shall guide
His people, who defend? Will they not deal
Worse with his followers than with him they dealt?
Be sure they will, said the Angel; but from Heaven
He to his own a Comforter will send,
The promise of the Father, who shall dwell
His Spirit within them; and the law of faith,
Working through love, upon their hearts shall write,
To guide them in all truth; and also arm
With spiritual armour, able to resist
Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts;
What man can do against them, not afraid,
Though to the death; against such cruelties
With inward consolations recompensed,
And oft supported so as shall amaze
Their proudest persecutors: For the Spirit,
Poured first on his Apostles, whom he sends
To evangelize the nations, then on all
Baptized, shall them with wonderous gifts endue
To speak all tongues, and do all miracles,
As did their Lord before them. Thus they win
Great numbers of each nation to receive
With joy the tidings brought from Heaven: At length
Their ministry performed, and race well run,
Their doctrine and their story written left,
They die; but in their room, as they forewarn,
Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous wolves,
Who all the sacred mysteries of Heaven
To their own vile advantages shall turn
Of lucre and ambition; and the truth
With superstitions and traditions taint,
Left only in those written records pure,
Though not but by the Spirit understood.
Then shall they seek to avail themselves of names,
Places, and titles, and with these to join
Secular power; though feigning still to act
By spiritual, to themselves appropriating
The Spirit of God, promised alike and given
To all believers; and, from that pretence,
Spiritual laws by carnal power shall force
On every conscience; laws which none shall find
Left them inrolled, or what the Spirit within
Shall on the heart engrave. What will they then
But force the Spirit of Grace itself, and bind
His consort Liberty? what, but unbuild
His living temples, built by faith to stand,
Their own faith, not another's? for, on earth,
Who against faith and conscience can be heard
Infallible? yet many will presume:
Whence heavy persecution shall arise
On all, who in the worship persevere
Of spirit and truth; the rest, far greater part,
Will deem in outward rites and specious forms
Religion satisfied; Truth shall retire
Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith
Rarely be found: So shall the world go on,
To good malignant, to bad men benign;
Under her own weight groaning; till the day
Appear of respiration to the just,
And vengeance to the wicked, at return
Of him so lately promised to thy aid,
The Woman's Seed; obscurely then foretold,
Now ampler known thy Saviour and thy Lord;
Last, in the clouds, from Heaven to be revealed
In glory of the Father, to dissolve
Satan with his perverted world; then raise
From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined,
New Heavens, new Earth, ages of endless date,
Founded in righteousness, and peace, and love;
To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.
He ended; and thus Adam last replied.
How soon hath thy prediction, Seer blest,
Measured this transient world, the race of time,
Till time stand fixed! Beyond is all abyss,
Eternity, whose end no eye can reach.
Greatly-instructed I shall hence depart;
Greatly in peace of thought; and have my fill
Of knowledge, what this vessel can contain;
Beyond which was my folly to aspire.
Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best,
And love with fear the only God; to walk
As in his presence; ever to observe
His providence; and on him sole depend,
Merciful over all his works, with good
Still overcoming evil, and by small
Accomplishing great things, by things deemed weak
Subverting worldly strong, and worldly wise
By simply meek: that suffering for truth's sake
Is fortitude to highest victory,
And, to the faithful, death the gate of life;
Taught this by his example, whom I now
Acknowledge my Redeemer ever blest.
To whom thus also the Angel last replied.
This having learned, thou hast attained the sum
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the stars
Thou knewest by name, and all the ethereal powers,
All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Or works of God in Heaven, air, earth, or sea,
And all the riches of this world enjoyedst,
And all the rule, one empire; only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come called charity, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loth
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.--
Let us descend now therefore from this top
Of speculation; for the hour precise
Exacts our parting hence; and see!the guards,
By me encamped on yonder hill, expect
Their motion; at whose front a flaming sword,
In signal of remove, waves fiercely round:
We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve;
Her also I with gentle dreams have calmed
Portending good, and all her spirits composed
To meek submission: thou, at season fit,
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard;
Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,
The great deliverance by her seed to come
(For by the Woman's seed) on all mankind:
That ye may live, which will be many days,
Both in one faith unanimous, though sad,
With cause, for evils past; yet much more cheered
With meditation on the happy end.
He ended, and they both descend the hill;
Descended, Adam to the bower, where Eve
Lay sleeping, ran before; but found her waked;
And thus with words not sad she him received.
Whence thou returnest, and whither wentest, I know;
For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep: But now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Art all things under $Heaven, all places thou,
Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.
This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the Promised Seed shall all restore.
So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answered not: For now, too nigh
The Arch-Angel stood; and, from the other hill
To their fixed station, all in bright array
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening-mist
Risen from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandished sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hand the hastening Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
by John Milton.
A Poem On Divine Revelation
This is a day of happiness, sweet peace,
And heavenly sunshine; upon which conven'd
In full assembly fair, once more we view,
And hail with voice expressive of the heart,
Patrons and sons of this illustrious hall.
This hall more worthy of its rising fame
Than hall on mountain or romantic hill,
Where Druid bards sang to the hero's praise,
While round their woods and barren heaths was heard
The shrill calm echo of th' enchanting shell.
Than all those halls and lordly palaces
Where in the days of chivalry, each knight,
And baron brave in military pride
Shone in the brass and burning steel of war;
For in this hall more worthy of a strain
No envious sound forbidding peace is heard,
Fierce song of battle kindling martial rage
And desp'rate purpose in heroic minds:
But sacred truth fair science and each grace
Of virtue born; health, elegance and ease
And temp'rate mirth in social intercourse
Convey rich pleasure to the mind; and oft
The sacred muse in heaven-breathing song
Doth wrap the soul in extasy divine,
Inspiring joy and sentiment which not
The tale of war or song of Druids gave.
The song of Druids or the tale of war
With martial vigour every breast inspir'd,
With valour fierce and love of deathless fame;
But here a rich and splendid throng conven'd
From many a distant city and fair town,
Or rural seat by shore or mountain-stream,
Breathe joy and blessing to the human race,
Give countenance to arts themselves have known,
Inspire the love of heights themselves have reach'd,
Of noble science to enlarge the mind,
Of truth and virtue to adorn the soul,
And make the human nature grow divine.
Oh could the muse on this auspicious day
Begin a song of more majestic sound,
Or touch the lyre on some sublimer key,
Meet entertainment for the noble mind.
How shall the muse from this poetic bow'r
So long remov'd, and from this happy hill,
Where ev'ry grace and ev'ry virtue dwells,
And where the springs of knowledge and of thought
In riv'lets clear and gushing streams flow down
Attempt a strain? How sing in rapture high
Or touch in vari'd melody the lyre
The lyre so long neglected and each strain
Unmeditated, and long since forgot?
But yet constrain'd on this occasion sweet
To this fam'd hall and this assembly fair
With comely presence honouring the day,
She fain would pay a tributary strain.
A purer strain though not of equal praise
To that which Fingal heard when Ossian sung
With voice high rais'd in Selma hall of shells;
Or that which Pindar on th' Elean plain,
Sang with immortal skill and voice divine,
When native Thebes and ev'ry Grecian state
Pour'd forth her sons in rapid chariot race,
To shun the goal and reach the glorious palm.
He sang the pride of some ambitious chief,
For olive crowns and wreaths of glory won;
I sing the rise of that all glorious light,
Whose sacred dawn the aged fathers saw
By faith's clear eye, through many a cloud obscure
And heavy mist between: they saw it beam
From Judah's royal tribe, they saw it shine
O'er Judah's happy land, and bade the hills,
The rocky hills and barren vallies smile,
The desert blossom and the wilds rejoice.
This is that light and revelation pure,
Which Jacob saw and in prophetic view,
Did hail its author from the skies, and bade
The sceptre wait with sov'reignty and sway
On Judah's hand till Shiloh came. That light
Which Beor's son in clearer vision saw,
Its beams sore piercing his malignant eye;
But yet constrain'd by the eternal truth
Confess'd its origin and hail'd its rise,
Fresh as a star from Judah's sacred line.
This, Amos' son touch'd with seraphic fire
In after times beheld. He saw it beam
From Judah's royal tribe; he saw it shine
O'er Judah's happy land, and bade the hills,
The rocky hills and barren vallies smile,
The desert blossom and the wilds rejoice.
This is that light which purifies the soul,
From mist obscure, of envy, hate, and pride;
Bids love celestial in the bosom glow,
Fresh kindling up the intellectual eye
Of faith divine, in beatific view
Of that high glory and seraphic bliss,
Which he who reigns invisible, shall give
To wait on virtue in the realms of day.
This is that light which from remotest times
Shone to the just; gave sweet serenity,
And sunshine to the soul, of each wise sage,
Fam'd patriarch, and holy man of God,
Who in the infancy of time did walk
With step unerring, through those dreary shades,
Which veil'd the world e'er yet the golden sun
Of revelation beam'd. Seth, Enos, and
The family of him preserv'd from death
By flood of waters. Abram and that swain
Who erst exil'd in Midian did sing
The world from chaos rising, and the birth
Of various nature in the earth, or sea,
Or element of air, or heav'n above.
This is that light which on fair Zion hill
Descending gradual, in full radiance beam'd
O'er Canaan's happy land. Her fav'rite seers
Had intercourse divine with this pure source,
And oft from them a stream of light did flow,
To each adjoining vale and desert plain,
Lost in the umbrage of dark heathen shades.
'Twas at this stream the fabling poets drank
And sang how heav'n and earth from chaos rose;
'Twas at this stream the wiser sages drank
And straightway knew the soul immortal lives
Beyond the grave and all the wrecks of time.
From Judah's sacred hills a partial ray
Extraneous, visited and cheer'd the gloom
Spread o'er the shaded earth; yet more than half
In superstition and the dreams of night
Each hoary sage by long experience wise,
And high philosopher of learning fam'd
Lay buried deep shut from the light of day.
Shut from the light of revelation clear
In devious path they wandered oft,
Nor could strong reason with the partial beam
Of revelation, wholly dissipate
The midnight horrors of so dark an age.
Vain were their searches, and their reason vain,
Else whence the visionary tales receiv'd,
Of num'rous deities in earth, or heav'n
Or sea, or river, or the shades profound
Of Erebus, dark kingdom of the dead.
Weak deities of fabled origin
From king or hero, to the skies advanc'd
For sanguinary appetite, and skill
In cruel feats of arms, and tyranny
O'er ev'ry right, and privilege of man.
Vain were their searches, and their reason vain,
Else whence the sculptur'd image of a god,
And marble bust ador'd as deity,
Altar and hecatomb prepar'd for these,
Or human sacrifice when hecatomb
Consum'd in vain with ceremony dire,
And rites abhorr'd, denied the wish'd success.
Reason is dark, else why heroic deem'd
Fell suicide, as if 'twere fortitude
And higher merit to recede from life,
Shunning the ills of poverty, or pain,
Or wasting sickness, or the victor's sword,
Than to support with patience fully tried
As Job, thence equall'd with him in renown.
Shut from the light of revelation clear
The world lay hid in shades, and reason's lamp
Serv'd but to show how dark it was; but now
The joyous time with hasty steps advanc'd,
When truth no more should with a partial ray
Shine on the shaded earth; now on swift wings
The rosy hours brought on in beauty mild,
The day-spring from on high, and from the top
Of some fair mount Chaldean shepherds view
That orient star which Beor's son beheld,
From Aram east, and mark'd its lucid ray,
Shedding sweet influence on Judah's land.
Now o'er the plain of Bethl'em to the swains
Who kept their flocks beneath the dews of night,
A light appears expressive of that day
More general, which o'er the shaded earth
Breaks forth, and in the radiance of whose beams,
The humble shepherd, and the river-swain
By Jordan stream, or Galilea's lake,
Can see each truth and paradox explain'd,
Which not each wise philosopher of Greece,
Could tell, nor sage of India, nor the sons
Of Zoroaster, in deep secrets skill'd.
Such light on Canaan shone but not confin'd
With partial ray to Judah's favour'd land,
Each vale and region to the utmost bound
Of habitable earth, distant or nigh
Soon finds a gleam of this celestial day:
Fam'd Persia's mountains and rough Bactria's woods
And Media's vales and Shinar's distant plain:
The Lybian desert near Cyrene smiles
And Ethiopia hails it to her shores.
Arabia drinks the lustre of its ray
Than fountain sweeter, or the cooling brook
Which laves her burning sands; than stream long sought
Through desert flowing and the scorched plain
To Sheba's troop or Tema's caravan.
Egypt beholds the dawn of this fair morn
And boasts her rites mysterious no more;
Her hidden learning wrapt in symbols strange
Of hieroglyphic character, engrav'd
On marble pillar, or the mountain rock,
Or pyramid enduring many an age.
She now receives asserted and explain'd
That holy law, which on mount Sinai writ
By God's own finger, and to Moses giv'n,
And to the chosen seed, a rule of life.
And strict obedience due; but now once more
Grav'd on the living tablet of the heart,
And deep impress'd by energy divine,
Is legible through an eternal age.
North of Judea now this day appears
On Syria west, and in each city fair
Full many a church of noble fame doth rise.
In Antioch the seat of Syrian kings,
And old Damascus, where Hazael reign'd.
Now Cappadocia Mithridates' realm,
And poison-bearing Pontus, whose deep shades
Were shades of death, admit the light of truth.
In Asia less seven luminaries rise,
Bright lights, which with celestial vigour burn,
And give the day in fullest glory round.
There Symrna shines, and Thyatira there,
There Ephesus a sister light appears,
And Pergamus with kindred glory burns:
She burns enkindled with a purer flame
Than Troy of old, when Grecian kings combin'd
Had set her gates on fire: The Hellespont
And all th' Egean sea shone to the blaze.
But now more west the gracious day serene
On Athens rising, throws a dark eclipse
On that high learning by her sages taught,
In each high school of philosophic fame;
Vain wisdom, useless sophistry condemn'd,
As ignorance and foolishness of men.
Let her philosophers debate no more
In the Lyceum, or the Stoics porch,
Holding high converse, but in error lost
Of pain, and happiness, and fate supreme.
Fair truth from heav'n draws all their reas'ning high
In captive chains bound at her chariot wheels.
Now Rome imperial, mistress of the world
Drinks the pure lustre of the orient ray
Assuaging her fierce thirst of bloody war,
Dominion boundless, victory and fame;
Each bold centurion, and each prætor finds
A nobler empire to subdue themselves.
From Rome the mistress of the world in peace,
Far to the north the golden light ascends;
To Gaul and Britain and the utmost bound
Of Thule famous in poetic song,
Victorious there where not Rome's consuls brave,
Heroes, or conquering armies, ever came.
Far in the artic skies a light is seen,
Unlike that sun, which shall ere long retreat,
And leave their hills one half the year in shades.
Or that Aurora which the sailor sees
Beneath the pole in dancing beams of light,
Playing its gambols on the northern hills.
That light is vain and gives no genial heat,
To warm the tenants of those frozen climes,
Or give that heav'nly vigour to the soul,
Which truth divine and revelation brings;
And but for which each heart must still remain,
Hard as the rock on Scandanavia's shore,
Cold as the ice which bridges up her streams,
Fierce as the storm which tempests all her waves.
Thus in its dawn did sacred truth prevail,
In either hemisphere from north to south,
From east to west through the long tract of day.
From Shinar's plain to Thule's utmost isle,
From Persia's bay to Scandanavia's shores.
Cheer'd by its ray now ev'ry valley smiles,
And ev'ry lawn smote by its morning beam.
Now ev'ry hill reflects a purer ray,
Than when Aurora paints his woods in gold,
Or when the sun first in the orient sky,
Sets thick with gems the dewy mountain's brow.
The earth perceives a sov'reign virtue shed
And from each cave, and midnight haunt retires
Dark superstition, with her vot'ries skill'd,
In potent charm, or spell of magic pow'r;
In augury, by voice, or flight of birds,
Or boding sign at morn, or noon, or eve,
Portent and prodigy and omen dire.
Each oracle by Demon, or the craft
Of priests, made vocal, can declare no more
Of high renown, and victory secure,
To kings low prostrate at their bloody shrines.
No more with vain uncertainty perplex
Mistaken worshippers, or give unseen
Response ambiguous in some mystic sound,
And hollow murmer from the dark recess.
No more of Lybian Jove; Dodona's oaks,
In sacred grove give prophecy no more.
Th' infernal deities retire abash'd,
Our God himself on earth begins his reign;
Pure revelation beams on ev'ry land,
On ev'ry heart exerts a sov'reign sway,
And makes the human nature grow divine.
Now hideous war forgets one half her rage,
And smoothes her visage horible to view.
Celestial graces better sooth the soul,
Than vocal music, or the charming sound
Of harp or lyre. More than the golden lyre
Which Orpheus tun'd in melancholy notes,
Which almost pierc'd the dull cold ear of death,
And mov'd the grave to give him back his bride.
Peace with the graces and fair science now
Wait on the gospel car; science improv'd
Puts on a fairer dress; a fairer form
Now ev'ry art assumes; bold eloquence
Moves in a higher sphere than senates grave,
Or mix'd assembly, or the hall of kings,
Which erst with pompous panegyric rung.
Vain words and soothing flattery she hates,
And feigned tears, and tongue which silver-tipt
Moves in the cause of wickedness and pride.
She mourns not that fair liberty depress'd
Which kings tyrannic can extort, but that
Pure freedom of the soul to truth divine
Which first indulg'd her and with envious hand
Pluck'd thence, left hideous slavery behind.
She weeps not loss of property on earth,
Nor stirs the multitude to dire revenge
With headlong violence, but soothes the soul
To harmony and peace, bids them aspire
With emulation and pure zeal of heart,
To that high glory in the world unseen,
And crown celestial, which pure virtue gives.
Thus eloquence and poesy divine
A nobler range of sentiment receive;
Life brought to view and immortality,
A recent world through which bold fancy roves,
And gives new magic to the pow'r of song;
For where the streams of revelation flow
Unknown to bards of Helicon, or those
Who on the top of Pindus, or the banks
Of Arethusa and Eurotas stray'd,
The poet drinks, and glorying in new strength,
Soars high in rapture of sublimer strains;
Such as that prophet sang who tun'd his harp
On Zion hill and with seraphic praise
In psalm and sacred ode by Siloa's brook,
Drew HIS attention who first touch'd the soul
With taste of harmony, and bade the spheres
Move in rich measure to the songs on high.
Fill'd with this spirit poesy no more
Adorns that vain mythology believ'd,
By rude barbarian, and no more receives,
The tale traditional, and hymn profane,
Sung by high genius, basely prostitute.
New strains are heard, such as first in the morn
Of time, were sung by the angelic choirs,
When rising from chaotic state the earth
Orbicular was seen, and over head
The blazing sun, moon, planet, and each light
That gilds the firmament, rush'd into view.
Thus did the sun of revelation shine
Full on the earth, and grateful were its beams:
Its beams were grateful to the chosen seed,
To all whose works were worthy of the day.
But creatures lucifuge, whose ways were dark,
Ere this in shades of paganism hid,
Did vent their poison, and malignant breath,
To stain the splendour of the light divine,
Which pierc'd their cells and brought their deeds to view
Num'rous combin'd of ev'ry tongue and tribe,
Made battle proud, and impious war brought on,
Against the chosen sanctified by light.
Riches and pow'r leagu'd in their train were seen,
Sword, famine, flames and death before them prey'd.
Those faithful found, who undismay'd did bear
A noble evidence to truth, were slain.
Why should I sing of these or here record,
As if 'twere praise, in poesy or song,
Or sculptur'd stone, to eternize the names,
Which writ elsewhere in the fair book of life,
Shall live unsullied when each strain shall die:
Shall undefac'd remain when sculptur'd stone,
And monument, and bust, and storied urn
Perpetuates its sage and king no more.
The pow'r of torture and reproach was vain,
But what not torture or reproach could do,
Dark superstition did in part effect.
That superstition, which saint John beheld,
Rise in thick darkness from th' infernal lake.
Locust and scorpion in the smoke ascend,
False teacher, heretic, and Antichrist.
The noon day sun is dark'ned in the sky,
The moon forbears to give her wonted light.
Full many a century the darkness rul'd,
With heavier gloom than once on Egypt came,
Save that on some lone coast, or desert isle,
Where sep'rate far a chosen spirit dwelt,
A Goshen shone, with partial-streaming ray.
Night on the one side settles dark; on Rome,
It settles dark, and ev'ry land more west
Is wrapt in shades. Night on the east comes down
With gloom Tartarean, and in part it rose
From Tartary beneath the dusky pole.
The ruthless Turk, and Saracen in arms,
O'er-run the land the gospel once illum'd;
The holy land Judea once so nam'd,
And Syria west where many churches rose.
Those golden luminaries are remov'd,
Which once in Asia shone. Athens no more
For truth and learning fam'd. Corinth obscur'd,
Ionia mourns through all her sea-girt isles.
But yet once more the light of truth shall shine
In this obscure sojourn; shall shoot its beam
In morning beauty mild, o'er hill and dale.
See in Bohemia and the lands more west
The heavenly ray of revelation shines,
Fresh kindling up true love and purest zeal.
Britannia next beholds the risen day
In reformation bright; cheerful she hails
It from her snow-white cliffs, and bids her sons,
Rise from the mist of popery obscure.
Her worthier sons, whom not Rome's pontiff high,
Nor king with arbitrary sway could move.
Those mightier who with constancy untam'd,
Did quench the violence of fire, at death
Did smile, and maugre ev'ry pain, of bond,
Cold dark imprisonment, and scourge severe,
By hell-born popery devis'd, held fast
The Christian hope firm anchor of the soul.
Or those who shunning that fell rage of war,
And persecution dire, when civil pow'r,
Leagu'd in with sacerdotal sway triumph'd,
O'er ev'ry conscience, and the lives of men,
Did brave th' Atlantic deep and through its storms
Sought these Americ shores: these happier shores
Where birds of calm delight to play, where not
Rome's pontiff high, nor arbitrary king,
Leagu'd in with sacerdotal sway are known.
But peace and freedom link'd together dwell,
And reformation in full glory shines.
Oh for a muse of more exalted wing,
To celebrate those men who planted first
The christian church in these remotest lands;
From those high plains where spreads a colony,
Gen'rous and free, from Massachusett-shores,
To the cold lakes margin'd with snow: from that
Long dreary tract of shady woods and hills,
Where Hudson's icy stream rolls his cold wave,
To those more sunny bowers where zephyrs breath,
And round which flow in circling current swift
The Delaware and Susquehannah streams.
Thence to those smiling plains where Chesapeak
Spreads her maternal arms, encompassing
In soft embrace, full many a settlement,
Where opulence, with hospitality,
And polish'd manners, and the living plant
Of science blooming, sets their glory high .
Thence to Virginia, sister colony,
Lib'ral in sentiment, and breathing high,
The noble ardour of the freeborn soul.
To Carolina thence, and that warm clime
Where Georgia south in summer heat complains,
And distant thence towards the burning line.
These men deserve our song, and those who still,
With industry severe, and steady aim
Diffuse the light in this late dreary land,
In whose lone wastes and solitudes forlorn,
Death long sat brooding with his raven wing.
Who many 'a structure of great fame have rais'd,
College, and school, upon th' Atlantic coast,
Or inland town, through ev'ry province wide,
Which rising up like pyramids of fire,
Give light and glory to the western world.
These men we honour, and their names shall last
Sweet in the mouths and memory of men;
Or if vain man unconscious of their worth,
Refuse a tear when in some lonely vale
He sees those faithful laid; each breeze shall sigh,
Each passing gale shall mourn, each tree shall bend
Its heavy head, in sorrow o'er their tombs,
And some sad stream run ever weeping by.
Weep not O stream, nor mourn thou passing gale,
Beneath those grassy tombs their bodies lie,
But they have risen from each labour bere
To make their entrance on a nobler stage.
What though with us they walk the humble vale
Of indigence severe, with want oppress'd?
Riches belong not to their family,
Nor sloth luxurious nor the pride of kings;
But truth meek-ey'd and warm benevolence
Wisdom's high breeding in her sons rever'd
Bespeaks them each the children of a king.
The christian truth of origin divine,
Grows not beneath the shade of civil pow'r,
Riches or wealth accompanied with pride;
Nor shall it bloom transplanted to that soil,
Where persecution, in malignant streams,
Flows out to water it; black streams and foul
Which from the lake of Tartarus break forth,
The sickly tide of Acheron which flows,
With putrid waves through the infernal shades.
This plant of heaven loves the gentle beams,
Of truth and meekness, and the kindly dew
Which fell on Zion hill; it loves the care
Of humble shepherds, and the rural swain,
And tended by their hands it flourishes
With fruit and blossoms, and soon gives a shade,
Beneath which ev'ry traveller shall rest,
Safe from the burning east-wind and the sun.
A vernal shade not with'ring like the gourd
Of him who warned Nineveh, but like
The aged oaks immortal on the plain
Of Kadesh, or tall cedars on the hill
Of Lebanon, and Hermon's shady top.
High is their fame through each succeeding age
Who build the walls of Zion upon earth.
Let mighty kings and potentates combine,
To raise a pyramid, which neither storm,
Nor sea indignant, nor the raging fire,
Nor time can waste, or from firm basis move.
Or let them strive by counsel or by arms,
To fix a throne, and in imperial sway,
Build up a kingdom shadowing the earth,
Unmov'd by thunder or impetuous storm
Of civil war, dark treason, or the shock
Of hostile nations, in dire league combin'd.
They build a kingdom of a nobler date,
Who build the kingdom of the Saviour God.
This, not descending rain, nor mighty storm,
Nor sea indignant, nor the raging fire,
Nor time shall waste, or from firm basis move.
Rounded on earth its head doth reach the skies,
Secure from thunder, and impetuous storm,
Of civil war, dark treason, or the shock
Of hostile nations in dire league combin'd.
This still shall flourish and survive the date,
Of each wide state and empire of the earth
Which yet shall rise, as now of those which once
From richest Asia or from Europe spread
On mighty base and shaded half the world.
Great Babylon which vex'd the chosen seed,
And by whose streams the captive Hebrews sat,
In desolation lies, and Syria west,
Where the Seleucidæ did fix their throne,
Loud-thund'ring thence o'er Judah's spoiled land,
Boasts her proud rule no more. Rome pagan next,
The raging furnace where the saints were tried,
No more enslaves mankind. Rome papal too
Contracts her reign and speaks proud things no more.
The throne of Ottoman is made to shake,
The Russian thund'ring to his firmest seat;
Another age shall see his empire fall.
Yet in the east the light of truth shall shine,
And like the sun returning after storms
Which long had raged through a sunless sky,
Shall beam beningly on forsaken lands.
The day serene once more on Zion hill
Descending gradual, shall in radiance beam
On Canaan's happy land. Her fav'rite seers
Have intercourse divine with this pure source;
Perennial thence rich streams of light shall flow,
To each adjoining vale and desert plain
Lost in the umbrage of dark heathen shades.
The gospel light shall gloriously survive
The wasting blaze of ev'ry baser fire.
The fire of Vesta, an eternal fire,
So falsely call'd and kept alive at Rome;
Sepulchral lamp in burial place of kings,
Burn'd unconsum'd for many ages down;
But yet not Vesta's fire eternal call'd
And kept alive at Rome, nor burning lamp
Hid in sepulchral monument of kings,
Shall bear an equal date with that true light,
Which shone from earth to heav'n, and which shall shine
Up through eternity, and be the light
Of heav'n, the new Jerusalem above.
This light from heav'n shall yet illume the earth
And give its beams to each benighted land
Now with new glory lighted up again.
Then ruthless Turk and Saracen shall know
The fallacies of him Medina bred,
And whose vain tomb, in Mecca they adore.
Then Jews shall view the great Messiah come,
And each rent tribe in caravan by land,
Or ship by sea, shall visit Palestine
Thrice holy then, with vile Idolatry
No more defil'd, altar on mountain head,
Green shady hill, or idol of the grove.
For there a light appears, with which compar'd,
That was a twilight shed by rite obscure,
And ceremony dark and sacrifice
Dimly significant of things to come.
Blest with this light no more they deviate
In out-way path; distinguished no more
By school or sect, Essene or Saducee,
Cairite or Scribe of Pharisaic mould.
Jew and Samaritan debate no more,
Whether on Gerizim or Zion hill
They shall bow down. Above Moriah's mount
Each eye is raised to him, whose temple is
Th' infinitude of space, whom earth, sea, sky
And heav'n itself cannot contain. No more
The noise of battle shall be heard, or shout
Of war by heathen princes wag'd; There's nought
Shall injure or destroy; they shall not hurt
In all my holy mountain saith the Lord.
The earth in peace and ev'ry shadow fled,
Bespeaks Emmanuel's happy reign when Jew,
And kindred Gentile shall no more contend,
Save in the holier strife of hymn and song,
To him who leads captive captivity,
Who shall collect the sons of Jacob's line,
And bring the fulness of the Gentiles in.
Thrice happy day when Gentiles are brought in
Complete and full; when with its genial beams
The day shall break on each benighted land
Which yet in darkness and in vision lies:
On Scythia and Tartary's bleak hills;
On mount Imaus, and Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;
Japan and China, and the sea-girt isles
The ancient Ophir deem'd; for there rich gems
And diamond pearl, and purest gold is found.
Thrice happy day when this whole earth shall feel
The sacred ray of revelation shed,
Far to the west, through each remotest land
With equal glory rivalling the day
Pour'd on the east. When these Americ shores
Shall far and wide be light, and heav'nly day
Shall in full glory rise on many a reign,
Kingdom and empire bending to the south,
And nation touching the Pacific shore.
When Christian churches shall adorn the streams
Which now unheeded flow with current swift
Circling the hills, where fiercest beasts of prey,
Panther and wolf in nightly concert howl.
The Indian sage from superstition freed,
Be taught a nobler heav'n than cloud-topt-hill,
Or sep'rate island in the wat'ry waste.
The aged Sachem fix his moving tribe,
And grow humane now taught the arts of peace.
In human sacrifice delight no more,
Mad cantico or savage feast of war.
Such scenes of fierce barbarity no more
Be perpetrated there, but truth divine
Shine on the earth in one long cloudless day,
Till that last hour which shuts the scene of things,
When this pure light shall claim its native skies;
When the pure stream of revelation shall,
With refluent current visit its first hills:
There shall it mix with that crystalline wave,
Which laves the walls of Paradise on high,
And from beneath the seat of God doth spring.
This is that river from whose sacred head
The sanctified in golden arms draw light,
On either side of which that tree doth grow
Which yields immortal fruit, and in whose shade
If shade were needed there, the rapt shall sing,
In varied melody to harp and lyre,
The sacred song of Moses and the Lamb:
Eternity's high arches ring; 'Tis heard
Through both infinitudes of space and time.
Thus have I sung to this high-favour'd bow'r,
And sacred shades which taught me first to sing,
With grateful mind a tributary strain.
Sweet grove no more I visit you, no more
Beneath your shades shall meditate my lay.
Adieu ye lawns and thou fair hill adieu,
And you O shepherds, and ye graces fair
With comely presence honouring the day,
Far hence I go to some sequest'red vale
By woody hill or shady mountain side,
Where far from converse and the social band,
My days shall pass inglorious away: 
But this shall be my exultation still
My chiefest merit and my only joy,
That when the hunter on some western hill,
Or furzy glade shall see my grassy tomb,
And know the stream which mourns unheeded by,
He for a moment shall repress his step,
And say, There lies a Son of Nassau-Hall.
Sister Songs-An Offering To Two Sisters - Part The Second
And now, thou elder nursling of the nest;
Ere all the intertangled west
Be one magnificence
Of multitudinous blossoms that o'errun
The flaming brazen bowl o' the burnished sun
Which they do flower from,
How shall I 'stablish THY memorial?
Nay, how or with what countenance shall I come
To plead in my defence
For loving thee at all?
I who can scarcely speak my fellows' speech,
Love their love, or mine own love to them teach;
A bastard barred from their inheritance,
Who seem, in this dim shape's uneasy nook,
Some sun-flower's spirit which by luckless chance
Has mournfully its tenement mistook;
When it were better in its right abode,
Heartless and happy lackeying its god.
How com'st thou, little tender thing of white,
Whose very touch full scantly me beseems,
How com'st thou resting on my vaporous dreams,
Kindling a wraith there of earth's vernal green?
Even so as I have seen,
In night's aerial sea with no wind blust'rous,
A ribbed tract of cloudy malachite
Curve a shored crescent wide;
And on its slope marge shelving to the night
The stranded moon lay quivering like a lustrous
Medusa newly washed up from the tide,
Lay in an oozy pool of its own deliquious light.
Yet hear how my excuses may prevail,
Nor, tender white orb, be thou opposite!
Life and life's beauty only hold their revels
In the abysmal ocean's luminous levels.
There, like the phantasms of a poet pale,
The exquisite marvels sail:
Clarified silver; greens and azures frail
As if the colours sighed themselves away,
And blent in supersubtile interplay
As if they swooned into each other's arms;
Like ear-tips 'gainst the sun;
And beings that, under night's swart pinion,
Make every wave upon the harbour-bars
A beaten yolk of stars.
But where day's glance turns baffled from the deeps,
Die out those lovely swarms;
And in the immense profound no creature glides or creeps.
Love and love's beauty only hold their revels
In life's familiar, penetrable levels:
What of its ocean-floor?
I dwell there evermore.
From almost earliest youth
I raised the lids o' the truth,
And forced her bend on me her shrinking sight;
Ever I knew me Beauty's eremite,
In antre of this lowly body set.
Girt with a thirsty solitude of soul.
Nathless I not forget
How I have, even as the anchorite,
I too, imperishing essences that console.
Under my ruined passions, fallen and sere,
The wild dreams stir like little radiant girls,
Whom in the moulted plumage of the year
Their comrades sweet have buried to the curls.
Yet, though their dedicated amorist,
How often do I bid my visions hist,
Deaf to them, pleading all their piteous fills;
Who weep, as weep the maidens of the mist
Clinging the necks of the unheeding hills:
And their tears wash them lovelier than before,
That from grief's self our sad delight grows more,
Fair are the soul's uncrisped calms, indeed,
Endiapered with many a spiritual form
Of blosmy-tinctured weed;
But scarce itself is conscious of the store
Suckled by it, and only after storm
Casts up its loosened thoughts upon the shore.
To this end my deeps are stirred;
And I deem well why life unshared
Was ordained me of yore.
In pairing-time, we know, the bird
Kindles to its deepmost splendour,
And the tender
Voice is tenderest in its throat;
Were its love, for ever nigh it,
Never by it,
It might keep a vernal note,
The crocean and amethystine
In their pristine
Lustre linger on its coat.
Therefore must my song-bower lone be,
That my tone be
Fresh with dewy pain alway;
She, who scorns my dearest care ta'en,
Shadow of the sprite of May.
And is my song sweet, as they say?
Tis sweet for one whose voice has no reply,
Save silence's sad cry:
And are its plumes a burning bright array?
They burn for an unincarnated eye
A bubble, charioteered by the inward breath
Which, ardorous for its own invisible lure,
Urges me glittering to aerial death,
I am rapt towards that bodiless paramour;
Blindly the uncomprehended tyranny
Obeying of my heart's impetuous might.
The earth and all its planetary kin,
Starry buds tangled in the whirling hair
That flames round the Phoebean wassailer,
Speed no more ignorant, more predestined flight,
Than I, HER viewless tresses netted in.
As some most beautiful one, with lovely taunting,
Her eyes of guileless guile o'ercanopies,
Does her hid visage bow,
And miserly your covetous gaze allow,
By inchmeal, coy degrees,
Saying--'Can you see me now?'
Yet from the mouth's reflex you guess the wanting
Smile of the coming eyes
In all their upturned grievous witcheries,
Before that sunbreak rise;
And each still hidden feature view within
Your mind, as eager scrutinies detail
The moon's young rondure through the shamefast veil
Drawn to her gleaming chin:
After this wise,
From the enticing smile of earth and skies
I dream my unknown Fair's refused gaze;
And guessingly her love's close traits devise,
Which she with subtile coquetries
Through little human glimpses slow displays,
Cozening my mateless days
By sick, intolerable delays.
And so I keep mine uncompanioned ways;
And so my touch, to golden poesies
Turning love's bread, is bought at hunger's price.
So,--in the inextinguishable wars
Which roll song's Orient on the sullen night
Whose ragged banners in their own despite
Take on the tinges of the hated light, -
So Sultan Phoebus has his Janizars.
But if mine unappeased cicatrices
Might get them lawful ease;
Were any gentle passion hallowed me,
Who must none other breath of passion feel
Save such as winnows to the fledged heel
The tremulous Paradisal plumages;
The conscious sacramental trees
Which ever be
Consentient with enamoured wings, might know my love for thee.
Yet is there more, whereat none guesseth, love!
Upon the ending of my deadly night
(Whereof thou hast not the surmise, and slight
Is all that any mortal knows thereof),
Thou wert to me that earnest of day's light,
When, like the back of a gold-mailed saurian
Heaving its slow length from Nilotic slime,
The first long gleaming fissure runs Aurorian
Athwart the yet dun firmament of prime.
Stretched on the margin of the cruel sea
Whence they had rescued me,
With faint and painful pulses was I lying;
Not yet discerning well
If I had 'scaped, or were an icicle,
Whose thawing is its dying.
Like one who sweats before a despot's gate,
Summoned by some presaging scroll of fate,
And knows not whether kiss or dagger wait;
And all so sickened is his countenance,
The courtiers buzz, 'Lo, doomed!' and look at him askance:-
At Fate's dread portal then
Even so stood I, I ken,
Even so stood I, between a joy and fear,
And said to mine own heart, 'Now if the end be here!'
They say, Earth's beauty seems completest
To them that on their death-beds rest;
Gentle lady! she smiles sweetest
Just ere she clasp us to her breast.
And I,--now MY Earth's countenance grew bright,
Did she but smile me towards that nuptial-night?
But whileas on such dubious bed I lay,
One unforgotten day,
As a sick child waking sees
Gazing on it from its hand,
Slipped there for its dear amazes;
So between thy father's knees
I saw THEE stand,
And through my hazes
Of pain and fear thine eyes' young wonder shone.
Then, as flies scatter from a carrion,
Or rooks in spreading gyres like broken smoke
Wheel, when some sound their quietude has broke,
Fled, at thy countenance, all that doubting spawn:
The heart which I had questioned spoke,
A cry impetuous from its depths was drawn, -
'I take the omen of this face of dawn!'
And with the omen to my heart cam'st thou.
Even with a spray of tears
That one light draft was fixed there for the years.
And now? -
The hours I tread ooze memories of thee, Sweet!
Beneath my casual feet.
With rainfall as the lea,
The day is drenched with thee;
In little exquisite surprises
Bubbling deliciousness of thee arises
From sudden places,
Under the common traces
Of my most lethargied and customed paces.
As an Arab journeyeth
Through a sand of Ayaman,
Lean Thirst, lolling its cracked tongue,
Lagging by his side along;
And a rusty-winged Death
Grating its low flight before,
Casting ribbed shadows o'er
The blank desert, blank and tan:
He lifts by hap toward where the morning's roots are
His weary stare, -
Sees, although they plashless mutes are,
Set in a silver air
Fountains of gelid shoots are,
Making the daylight fairest fair;
Sees the palm and tamarind
Tangle the tresses of a phantom wind; -
A sight like innocence when one has sinned!
A green and maiden freshness smiling there,
While with unblinking glare
The tawny-hided desert crouches watching her.
'Tis a vision:
Yet the greeneries Elysian
He has known in tracts afar;
Thus the enamouring fountains flow,
Those the very palms that grow,
By rare-gummed Sava, or Herbalimar. -
Such a watered dream has tarried
Trembling on my desert arid;
Its lovely gleamings
Of things not seemings;
And I gaze,
Knowing that, beyond my ways,
All these ARE, for these are she.
Eve no gentlier lays her cooling cheek
On the burning brow of the sick earth,
Sick with death, and sick with birth,
Aeon to aeon, in secular fever twirled,
Than thy shadow soothes this weak
And distempered being of mine.
In all I work, my hand includeth thine;
Thou rushest down in every stream
Whose passion frets my spirit's deepening gorge;
Unhood'st mine eyas-heart, and fliest my dream;
Thou swing'st the hammers of my forge;
As the innocent moon, that nothing does but shine,
Moves all the labouring surges of the world.
Pierce where thou wilt the springing thought in me,
And there thy pictured countenance lies enfurled,
As in the cut fern lies the imaged tree.
This poor song that sings of thee,
This fragile song, is but a curled
Shell outgathered from thy sea,
And murmurous still of its nativity.
Princess of Smiles!
Sorceress of most unlawful-lawful wiles!
Cunning pit for gazers' senses,
Overstrewn with innocences!
Purities gleam white like statues
In the fair lakes of thine eyes,
And I watch the sparkles that use
There to rise,
Are bubbles from the calyces
Of the lovely thoughts that breathe
Paving, like water-flowers, thy spirit's floor beneath.
O thou most dear!
Who art thy sex's complex harmony
God-set more facilely;
To thee may love draw near
Without one blame or fear,
Unchidden save by his humility:
Thou Perseus' Shield! wherein I view secure
The mirrored Woman's fateful-fair allure!
Whom Heaven still leaves a twofold dignity,
As girlhood gentle, and as boyhood free;
With whom no most diaphanous webs enwind
The bared limbs of the rebukeless mind.
Wild Dryad! all unconscious of thy tree,
With which indissolubly
The tyrannous time shall one day make thee whole;
Whose frank arms pass unfretted through its bole:
Who wear'st thy femineity
Light as entrailed blossoms, that shalt find
It erelong silver shackles unto thee.
Thou whose young sex is yet but in thy soul; -
As hoarded in the vine
Hang the gold skins of undelirious wine,
As air sleeps, till it toss its limbs in breeze:-
In whom the mystery which lures and sunders,
Grapples and thrusts apart; endears, estranges;
- The dragon to its own Hesperides -
Is gated under slow-revolving changes,
Manifold doors of heavy-hinged years.
So once, ere Heaven's eyes were filled with wonders
To see Laughter rise from Tears,
Lay in beauty not yet mighty,
Conched in translucencies,
The antenatal Aphrodite,
Caved magically under magic seas;
Caved dreamlessly beneath the dreamful seas.
'Whose sex is in thy soul!'
What think we of thy soul?
Which has no parts, and cannot grow,
Unfurled not from an embryo;
Born of full stature, lineal to control;
And yet a pigmy's yoke must undergo.
Yet must keep pace and tarry, patient, kind,
With its unwilling scholar, the dull, tardy mind;
Must be obsequious to the body's powers,
Whose low hands mete its paths, set ope and close its ways;
Must do obeisance to the days,
And wait the little pleasure of the hours;
Yea, ripe for kingship, yet must be
Captive in statuted minority!
So is all power fulfilled, as soul in thee.
So still the ruler by the ruled takes rule,
And wisdom weaves itself i' the loom o' the fool.
The splendent sun no splendour can display,
Till on gross things he dash his broken ray,
From cloud and tree and flower re-tossed in prismy spray.
Did not obstruction's vessel hem it in,
Force were not force, would spill itself in vain
We know the Titan by his champed chain.
Stay is heat's cradle, it is rocked therein,
And by check's hand is burnished into light;
If hate were none, would love burn lowlier bright?
God's Fair were guessed scarce but for opposite sin;
Yea, and His Mercy, I do think it well,
Is flashed back from the brazen gates of Hell.
The heavens decree
All power fulfil itself as soul in thee.
For supreme Spirit subject was to clay,
And Law from its own servants learned a law,
And Light besought a lamp unto its way,
And Awe was reined in awe,
At one small house of Nazareth;
Saw Breath to breathlessness resign its breath,
And Life do homage for its crown to death.
So is all power, as soul in thee increased!
But, knowing this, in knowledge's despite
I fret against the law severe that stains
Thy spirit with eclipse;
When--as a nymph's carven head sweet water drips,
For others oozing so the cool delight
Which cannot steep her stiffened mouth of stone -
Thy nescient lips repeat maternal strains.
Smitten with singing from thy mother's east,
And murmurous with music not their own:
Nay, the lips flexile, while the mind alone
A passionless statue stands.
Oh, pardon, innocent one!
Pardon at thine unconscious hands!
'Murmurous with music not their own,' I say?
And in that saying how do I missay,
When from the common sands
Of poorest common speech of common day
Thine accents sift the golden musics out!
And ah, we poets, I misdoubt,
Are little more than thou!
We speak a lesson taught we know not how,
And what it is that from us flows
The hearer better than the utterer knows.
Thou canst foreshape thy word;
The poet is not lord
Of the next syllable may come
With the returning pendulum;
And what he plans to-day in song,
To-morrow sings it in another tongue.
Where the last leaf fell from his bough,
He knows not if a leaf shall grow,
Where he sows he doth not reap,
He reapeth where he did not sow;
He sleeps, and dreams forsake his sleep
To meet him on his waking way.
Vision will mate him not by law and vow:
Disguised in life's most hodden-grey,
By the most beaten road of everyday
She waits him, unsuspected and unknown.
The hardest pang whereon
He lays his mutinous head may be a Jacob's stone.
In the most iron crag his foot can tread
A Dream may strew her bed,
And suddenly his limbs entwine,
And draw him down through rock as sea-nymphs might through brine.
But, unlike those feigned temptress-ladies who
In guerdon of a night the lover slew,
When the embrace has failed, the rapture fled,
Not he, not he, the wild sweet witch is dead!
And, though he cherisheth
The babe most strangely born from out her death,
Some tender trick of her it hath, maybe, -
It is not she!
Yet, even as the air is rumorous of fray
Before the first shafts of the sun's onslaught
From gloom's black harness splinter,
And Summer move on Winter
With the trumpet of the March, and the pennon of the May;
As gesture outstrips thought;
So, haply, toyer with ethereal strings!
Are thy blind repetitions of high things
The murmurous gnats whose aimless hoverings
Reveal song's summer in the air;
The outstretched hand, which cannot thought declare,
Yet is thought's harbinger.
These strains the way for thine own strains prepare;
We feel the music moist upon this breeze,
And hope the congregating poesies.
Sundered yet by thee from us
Wait, with wild eyes luminous,
All thy winged things that are to be;
They flit against thee, Gate of Ivory!
They clamour on the portress Destiny, -
'Set her wide, so we may issue through!
Our vans are quick for that they have to do
Suffer still your young desire;
Your plumes but bicker at the tips with fire,
Tarry their kindling; they will beat the higher.
And thou, bright girl, not long shalt thou repeat
Idly the music from thy mother caught;
Not vainly has she wrought,
Not vainly from the cloudward-jetting turret
Of her aerial mind, for thy weak feet,
Let down the silken ladder of her thought.
She bare thee with a double pain,
Of the body and the spirit;
Thou thy fleshly weeds hast ta'en,
Thy diviner weeds inherit!
The precious streams which through thy young lips roll
Shall leave their lovely delta in thy soul:
Where sprites of so essential kind
Set their paces,
Surely they shall leave behind
The green traces
Of their sportance in the mind,
And thou shalt, ere we well may know it,
Turn that daintiness, a poet, -
Where sweet fancies foot and sing.
So it may be, so it SHALL be, -
Oh, take the prophecy from me!
What if the old fastidious sculptor, Time,
This crescent marvel of his hands
Carveth all too painfully,
And I who prophesy shall never see?
What if the niche of its predestined rhyme,
Its aching niche, too long expectant stands?
Yet shall he after sore delays
On some exultant day of days
The white enshrouding childhood raise
From thy fair spirit, finished for our gaze;
While we (but 'mongst that happy 'we'
The prophet cannot be!)
While we behold with no astonishments,
With that serene fulfilment of delight
Wherewith we view the sight
When the stars pitch the golden tents
Of their high campment on the plains of night.
Why should amazement be our satellite?
What wonder in such things?
If angels have hereditary wings,
If not by Salic law is handed down
The poet's crown,
To thee, born in the purple of the throne,
The laurel must belong:
Thou, in thy mother's right
Descendant of Castalian-chrismed kings -
O Princess of the Blood of Song!
Peace; too impetuously have I been winging
Toward vaporous heights which beckon and beguile
I sink back, saddened to my inmost mind;
Even as I list a-dream that mother singing
The poesy of sweet tone, and sadden, while
Her voice is cast in troubled wake behind
The keel of her keen spirit. Thou art enshrined
In a too primal innocence for this eye -
Intent on such untempered radiancy -
Not to be pained; my clay can scarce endure
Ungrieved the effluence near of essences so pure.
Therefore, little, tender maiden,
Never be thou overshaden
With a mind whose canopy
Would shut out the sky from thee;
Whose tangled branches intercept Heaven's light:
I will not feed my unpastured heart
On thee, green pleasaunce as thou art,
To lessen by one flower thy happy daisies white.
The water-rat is earth-hued like the runlet
Whereon he swims; and how in me should lurk
Thoughts apt to neighbour thine, thou creature sunlit?
If through long fret and irk
Thine eyes within their browed recesses were
Worn caves where thought lay couchant in its lair;
Wert thou a spark among dank leaves, ah ruth!
With age in all thy veins, while all thy heart was youth;
Our contact might run smooth.
But life's Eoan dews still moist thy ringed hair;
Dian's chill finger-tips
Thaw if at night they happen on thy lips;
The flying fringes of the sun's cloak frush
The fragile leaves which on those warm lips blush;
And joy only lurks retired
In the dim gloaming of thine irid.
Then since my love drags this poor shadow, me,
And one without the other may not be,
From both I guard thee free.
It still is much, yes, it is much,
Only--my dream!--to love my love of thee;
And it is much, yes, it is much,
In hands which thou hast touched to feel thy touch
In voices which have mingled with thine own
To hear a double tone.
As anguish, for supreme expression prest,
Borrows its saddest tongue from jest,
Thou hast of absence so create
A presence more importunate;
And thy voice pleads its sweetest suit
When it is mute.
I thank the once accursed star
Which did me teach
To make of Silence my familiar,
Who hath the rich reversion of thy speech,
Since the most charming sounds thy thought can wear,
Cast off, fall to that pale attendant's share;
And thank the gift which made my mind
A shadow-world, wherethrough the shadows wind
Of all the loved and lovely of my kind.
Like a maiden Saxon, folden,
As she flits, in moon-drenched mist;
Whose curls streaming flaxen-golden,
By the misted moonbeams kist,
Dispread their filmy floating silk
Like honey steeped in milk:
So, vague goldenness remote,
Through my thoughts I watch thee float.
When the snake summer casts her blazoned skin
We find it at the turn of autumn's path,
And think it summer that rewinded hath,
And this enamouring slough of thee, mine elf,
I take it for thyself;
Content. Content? Yea, title it content.
The very loves that belt thee must prevent
My love, I know, with their legitimacy:
As the metallic vapours, that are swept
Athwart the sun, in his light intercept
The very hues
Which THEIR conflagrant elements effuse.
But, my love, my heart, my fair,
That only I should see thee rare,
Or tent to the hid core thy rarity, -
This were a mournfulness more piercing far
Than that those other loves my own must bar,
Or thine for others leave thee none for me.
But on a day whereof I think,
One shall dip his hand to drink
In that still water of thy soul,
And its imaged tremors race
Over thy joy-troubled face,
As the intervolved reflections roll
From a shaken fountain's brink,
With swift light wrinkling its alcove.
From the hovering wing of Love
The warm stain shall flit roseal on thy cheek,
Then, sweet blushet! whenas he,
The destined paramount of thy universe,
Who has no worlds to sigh for, ruling thee,
Ascends his vermeil throne of empery,
One grace alone I seek.
Oh! may this treasure-galleon of my verse,
Fraught with its golden passion, oared with cadent rhyme,
Set with a towering press of fantasies,
Drop safely down the time,
Leaving mine isled self behind it far
Soon to be sunken in the abysm of seas,
(As down the years the splendour voyages
From some long ruined and night-submerged star),
And in thy subject sovereign's havening heart
Anchor the freightage of its virgin ore;
Adding its wasteful more
To his own overflowing treasury.
So through his river mine shall reach thy sea,
Bearing its confluent part;
In his pulse mine shall thrill;
And the quick heart shall quicken from the heart that's still.
Ah! help, my Daemon that hast served me well!
Not at this last, oh, do not me disgrace!
I faint, I sicken, darkens all my sight,
As, poised upon this unprevisioned height,
I lift into its place
The utmost aery traceried pinnacle.
So; it is builded, the high tenement,
- God grant--to mine intent!
Most like a palace of the Occident,
Up-thrusting, toppling maze on maze,
Its mounded blaze,
And washed by the sunset's rosy waves,
Whose sea drinks rarer hue from those rare walls it laves.
Yet wail, my spirits, wail!
So few therein to enter shall prevail!
Scarce fewer could win way, if their desire
A dragon baulked, with involuted spire,
And writhen snout spattered with yeasty fire.
For at the elfin portal hangs a horn
Which none can wind aright
Save the appointed knight
Whose lids the fay-wings brushed when he was born.
All others stray forlorn,
Or glimpsing, through the blazoned windows scrolled
Receding labyrinths lessening tortuously
In half obscurity;
With mystic images, inhuman, cold,
That flameless torches hold.
But who can wind that horn of might
(The horn of dead Heliades) aright, -
Open for him shall roll the conscious gate;
And light leap up from all the torches there,
And life leap up in every torchbearer,
And the stone faces kindle in the glow,
And into the blank eyes the irids grow,
And through the dawning irids ambushed meanings show.
Illumined this wise on,
He threads securely the far intricacies,
With brede from Heaven's wrought vesture overstrewn;
Swift Tellus' purfled tunic, girt upon
With the blown chlamys of her fluttering seas;
And the freaked kirtle of the pearled moon:
Until he gain the structure's core, where stands -
A toil of magic hands -
The unbodied spirit of the sorcerer,
Most strangely rare,
As is a vision remembered in the noon;
Unbodied, yet to mortal seeing clear,
Like sighs exhaled in eager atmosphere.
From human haps and mutabilities
It rests exempt, beneath the edifice
To which itself gave rise;
Sustaining centre to the bubble of stone
Which, breathed from it, exists by it alone.
Yea, ere Saturnian earth her child consumes,
And I lie down with outworn ossuaries,
Ere death's grim tongue anticipates the tomb's
Siste viator, in this storied urn
My living heart is laid to throb and burn,
Till end be ended, and till ceasing cease.
And thou by whom this strain hath parentage;
Wantoner between the yet untreacherous claws
Of newly-whelped existence! ere he pause,
What gift to thee can yield the archimage?
For coming seasons' frets
What aids, what amulets,
What softenings, or what brightenings?
As Thunder writhes the lash of his long lightnings
About the growling heads of the brute main
Foaming at mouth, until it wallow again
In the scooped oozes of its bed of pain;
So all the gnashing jaws, the leaping heads
Of hungry menaces, and of ravening dreads,
Twitch-lipped, with quivering nostrils and immitigate fangs,
I scourge beneath the torment of my charms
That their repentless nature fear to work thee harms.
And as yon Apollonian harp-player,
Yon wandering psalterist of the sky,
With flickering strings which scatter melody,
The silver-stoled damsels of the sea,
Or lake, or fount, or stream,
Enchants from their ancestral heaven of waters
To Naiad it through the unfrothing air;
My song enchants so out of undulous dream
The glimmering shapes of its dim-tressed daughters,
And missions each to be thy minister.
Saying; 'O ye,
The organ-stops of being's harmony;
The blushes on existence's pale face,
Lending it sudden grace;
Without whom we should but guess Heaven's worth
By blank negations of this sordid earth,
(So haply to the blind may light
Be but gloom's undetermined opposite);
Ye who are thus as the refracting air
Whereby we see Heaven's sun before it rise
Above the dull line of our mortal skies;
As breathing on the strained ear that sighs
From comrades viewless unto strained eyes,
Soothing our terrors in the lampless night;
Ye who can make this world where all is deeming
What world ye list, being arbiters of seeming;
Attend upon her ways, benignant powers!
Unroll ye life a carpet for her feet,
And cast ye down before them blossomy hours,
Until her going shall be clogged with sweet!
All dear emotions whose new-bathed hair,
Still streaming from the soul, in love's warm air
Smokes with a mist of tender fantasies;
And all the heart's wild growths which, swiftly bright,
Spring up the crimson agarics of a night,
No pain in withering, yet a joy arisen;
And all thin shapes more exquisitely rare,
More subtly fair,
Than these weak ministering words have spell to prison
Within the magic circle of this rhyme;
And all the fays who in our creedless clime
Have sadly ceased
Bearing to other children childhood's proper feast;
Whose robes are fluent crystal, crocus-hued,
Whose wings are wind a-fire, whose mantles wrought
From spray that falling rainbows shake
These, ye familiars to my wizard thought,
Make things of journal custom unto her;
With lucent feet imbrued,
If young Day tread, a glorious vintager,
The wine-press of the purple-foamed east;
Or round the nodding sun, flush-faced and sunken,
His wild bacchantes drunken
Reel, with rent woofs a-flaunt, their westering rout.
- But lo! at length the day is lingered out,
At length my Ariel lays his viol by;
We sing no more to thee, child, he and I;
The day is lingered out:
In slow wreaths folden
Around yon censer, sphered, golden,
Vague Vesper's fumes aspire;
And glimmering to eclipse
The long laburnum drips
Its honey of wild flame, its jocund spilth of fire.
Now pass your ways, fair bird, and pass your ways,
If you will;
I have you through the days!
A flit or hold you still,
And perch you where you list
On what wrist, -
You are mine through the times!
I have caught you fast for ever in a tangle of sweet rhymes.
And in your young maiden morn,
You may scorn,
But you must be
Bound and sociate to me;
With this thread from out the tomb my dead hand shall tether thee!
Go, sister-songs, to that sweet sister-pair
For whom I have your frail limbs fashioned,
And framed feateously; -
For whom I have your frail limbs fashioned
With how great shamefastness and how great dread,
Knowing you frail, but not if you be fair,
Though framed feateously;
Go unto them from me.
Go from my shadow to their sunshine sight,
Made for all sights' delight;
Go like twin swans that oar the surgy storms
To bate with pennoned snows in candent air:
Nigh with abased head,
Yourselves linked sisterly, that sister-pair,
And go in presence there;
Saying--'Your young eyes cannot see our forms,
Nor read the yearning of our looks aright;
But time shall trail the veilings from our hair,
And cleanse your seeing with his euphrasy,
(Yea, even your bright seeing make more bright,
Which is all sights' delight),
And ye shall know us for what things we be.
'Whilom, within a poet's calyxed heart,
A dewy love we trembled all apart;
Whence it took rise
Beneath your radiant eyes,
Which misted it to music. We must long,
A floating haze of silver subtile song,
Above each maiden
The appointed hour that o'er the hearts of you -
As vapours into dew
Unweave, whence they were wove, -
Shall turn our loosening musics back to love.'
by Francis Thompson.